Bernie or bust will probably mean bust…again!


I’m increasingly worried that the democrats are going to screw up the next election and give Trump another 4 years (impeachment will go nowhere, if anything the republicans will try to exploit it too increase their seats in congress). And of the democratic candidates that have me most worried its Magic Grandpa Bernie Sanders. In a perfect world, I’d probably vote for him myself, but the reality is we don’t live in a perfect world and the odds are good that if he wins the nomination, Trump’s going to win the election, likely with the democrats enduring a Corbyn level defeat (so losing control of the house as well).

But he’s way ahead in the polls his supporters say. Ya and Hilary had an even stronger lead until a few weeks before the election, despite all the mud the GOP slung at her (which, given the lack of any prosecutions post-election, we now know amounted to diddly squat). But his supporters ignore the meta data within those polls, which shows that among key demographics he performs terribly (such as white males, the over 50’s, blue collar workers or ethnic minorities, particularly those with strong religious convictions, all counting as the sorts of people in swing states who will decide the election).

Least we forget Trump won, despite Hilary’s large poll lead, for two reasons. Firstly, he managed to get the vote out in key swing states. Bernie is exactly the kind of character whom we can be guaranteed to attract a large turn out to try and stop him (and much as some remainers voted Tory to stop Corbyn, we can assume some middle class types might do the same to stop Bernie). Secondly, the democrats were divided, in no small part due to the Bernie or bust brigade, some of whom went off campaigning against Hilary in key swing states. Hence why the disunity in the left (with again Bernie supporters at the heart of it) is deeply worrying.

I’d also take a Bernie Sanders poll lead with a pinch of salt. Republican insiders have let slip that they have a dossier of attack material on Bernie that is so big it needs to be wheeled around on a cart (which includes such fun facts as him honeymooning in the Soviet Union, his appearance at a pro-communist/anti-US rally in Nicaragua and penning an essay about a woman enjoying being raped). Needless to say after Fox news has been allowed to weaponise this information (plus a whole bunch of fake news thrown in for good measure) something tells me he won’t have much of a lead anymore (in fact he’ll probably be behind). And Trump has a key ally in the form of Facebook to help spread such propaganda.

I mean has Bernie actually ever met the sort of people who vote for Trump? He is the last person who could ever persuade them to vote democrat. In fact it is pretty much an open secret that Trump’s preferred opponent is Bernie, as the GOP reckons he’d be the easiest to defeat. Which also probably explains why Fox news has recently been defending Bernie. Hint to democrats, picking the candidate who your opponents prefer isn’t the most sensible election strategy.

And even if by some miracle he could get elected he’s got zero chance of getting any of his flagship policies implemented. Like Corbyn, its not so much the message but the messenger that’s the problem, he’s too divisive (if he can’t get Elizabeth Warren to support him, what chance does he have of stopping Rand Paul from just filibustering everything for four years?). Bernie in his decades long time in office has only ever sponsored a single bill that became law, largely because of his inability to form alliances or compromise.

Take for example his idea of breaking up the big banks. No way congress will vote for that, there will be opposition every step of the way and the banks themselves will sue the pants off him for even trying. Consider that the US government v’s Microsoft case went on for about a decade and didn’t really go anywhere. He’s talking about taking on an entire industry with very deep pockets (plus a supreme court that is massively tilted to the right) and all the time in the world to run down the clock on his presidency.

And furthermore, as I’ve pointed out before, small banks are less stable than big banks. The financial crisis was a failure of regulation. The size of the banks is a separate issue. Just google the term “panic of” or “crash of”  and see how many hits you get for past financial crises that often started in small financial institutions which then snowballed (as they didn’t have the cash reserves to survive and failed, creating a domino effect).

And, as the savings and loan crisis in the 80’s showed, governments can be drawn into bailing out networks of small banks. So he’d be making a future bailout more likely not less likely. This is the problem with Bernie, spent a few minutes critically analysing his policies and they are revealed to be about as dumb as saying Mexico will pay for the wall (when in fact Mexicans are stealing the wall!).

Does this mean I support Joe Biden? No! I’d also question the logic that he’d beat Trump (it would at least be a tighter race, could go either way, and the democrats would stand a better chance of being able to defend their control of the house). The problem for the democrats is that they’ve basically rummaged in the drawer and pulled out the same manifesto Hilary ran on. Of course the problem with Bernie is he’s running on Mondale’s manifesto from the 80’s (who lost to Reagan by a landslide)….along with some other ideas Bernie cooked up while smoking dope at Woodstock. Neither tactic is likely to succeed.

To my mind, if the democrats are serious about winning then they need a unity candidate. Someone who isn’t going to dance to wall street’s tune, but equally isn’t going to get accused of trying to turn the country into Venezuela. I’d also argue that the candidate shouldn’t be a mainstream politician (any long serving member of congress the GOP can label as “one of the elites”). Bernie himself has argued as much, but fails to consider the same also applies to him.

As for policies, American politics is broken. So rather than a wish list of every populist policy Bernie supporters like (but which have zero chance of ever becoming law), instead how about a manifesto intended to fix this broken system. In other words, proportional representation, a revised constitution (separating out the powers or president and prime minster), more powers to individual states, a depoliticised supreme court, a temporary freeze on any further trade deals and some sort of relief fund to the rust belt states.

All of that would pretty much take the wind out of Trump’s sails. And while Bernie supporters might not get want they want immediately, it would set things up such that they could do so later on (notably by giving more powers to the states means that many left leaning states can start to implement such policies internally).

But I fear that instead tribalism will take over. Much how Corbyn devoted most of labour’s resources into campaigning against the lib dems, the democrats will knock chucks out of each other, then fail to unite behind a candidate and lose the election. Yes, I’d dearly love to see the look on Tucker Carlson’s face if Bernie won (and he realises he’d help out), but its a fantasy, it ain’t going to happen. The priority for the democrats has to be to defeat Trump by any means necessary and then prevent another Trump from ever happening again. Replacing him with the Trump of the left isn’t progress.

Trump and the truth about taxes


Some details of Trump’s tax returns leaked recently, which seemed to suggest that he hasn’t paid any taxes for ten years due to the fact he’s lost over a billion dollars over that period. So doesn’t look like he’s such a great businessman then. Trump (America’s court jester in chief) then preposterously claimed that this was a deliberate strategy to avoid payment of taxes (essentially all but admitting to tax fraud). However it does highlight a number of important issues with regard to tax and the wealthy.

Firstly it shows that most Americans, in particular republicans, don’t understand how marginal tax rates work. That even if the 70% Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez proposes was applied, it would only apply to top earners and only the portion of their income in the tens of millions. In truth they’d be paying closer to 20-35% on their overall income, particularly when you consider the various deductions that would apply. Which is about what the average American pays in tax, so it would more be about levelling the playing field. After all Warren Buffet pay less tax (as a proportion of their income) than his secretary.


An example of a marginal tax in action, this person might be paying a maximum rate of 50%, but only pays 32% overall

But such is the naivety of many Americans that Trump can make a logical fallacy and many fall for it. What he’s essentially saying is that if you’ve got a 100 dollars and the government is going to take away half of it, your best strategy would be to not only burn the $100, but burn another $100 you’d borrowed from somebody else….whereas if you just paid the tax you keep $50, probably more like $75 once you account for the effect of marginal rates.

Another cause for concern is that Trump’s businesses just happen to involve several industries (construction, hotels and casino’s) where its remarkably easy to fiddle ones taxes. Which probably explains why he’s going to such extraordinary lengths to prevent any probes.

A building site for example will be a hive of activity, with hundreds of contractors and sub-contractors coming and going, as well as a steady stream of trucks pulling in to making deliveries. Its all too easy for a developer to simply award a contract to someone for work that never gets done or award a contract at a vastly over inflated cost (e.g. they claim it took a hundred guys a month, when it only took a few dozen a week’s work). Then the developer and contractor split the difference (with the developer writing it off as a business expense). Or buying your concrete and other supplies at inflated prices (or simply inflating the amount used). And its worth noting that some of Trump’s suppliers and contractors were mob connected firms.


As for hotels and casino’s, there’s all sorts of ways you can fiddle the books to milk the joint dry, without the IRS or the investors getting wise. You could for example just order lots of booze and gourmet food in the front door on the company books and then sell it out the back door for cash in hand. Employee expenses can also be fiddled. And there is of course the infamous casino skim racket, which I’d say was almost certainly in play in Trump’s Atlantic city casino.

So there are many good reasons to go digging into Trump’s tax affairs. Not only could this see him in a cell wearing a number, but it could lead to a number of mobsters being brought to justice too. Keep in mind this isn’t a victimless crime, his investors, employees and Atlantic city all got shafted. And the mob might well have been using this operation to launder drug money (as that’s often the whole point of such rackets).

Which also btw leads one to be suspicious of his recent tariff policy. Suddenly imposing tariffs and sending the markets into freefall, silly idea right? Well not if you’ve got connections with some boiler room hedge funds, who know this is coming and position themselves to take advantage of the drop in advance. Its entirely possible that Trump is deliberately sending out messages on twitter to manipulate markets. Of course, the danger is that the Chinese, who aren’t in on the scam, retaliate and they do have a nuclear option, start selling off US bonds.

But I digress. Certainly however, Trump’s statements on tax do show the limitations of tax policy. Those on the left will often cite “tax the rich” as their go too solution to everything. But as Trump shows there’s all sorts of ways the rich can fiddle their taxes. Certainly yes there are good reasons why the rich should pay more in taxes. They have more disposable income. Asking them to pay a few grand extra a year amounts to a choice between the gold and the silver trim package for their super yacht. While asking a low income family to pay a few quid extra a month amounts to a choice between feeding the kids or heating the home in winter. So its only fair higher earners pay more.

But, even if we ignore the various tax fiddling options, the numbers just don’t add up, something I’ve discussed before. The rich are asset rich, but don’t necessarily earn as much in terms of taxable income as you think. Just because a billionaire is worth several billion doesn’t mean he makes that much money every year. In truth he might only make a few million. And much of that will be speculative wealth (e.g. the value of the shares he owns goes up, but of course if he sold the shares all at once they’d lose value). And again, a few fiddles can cut that down even further.

Hence even if you applied the 70% tax Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez is calling for, you’re not going to pull in nearly as much money as you’d think. At best you’d be able to cut some of America’s deficit spending (or spend some money on climate change prevention). Or here in the UK you’d be able to reign in some of the worse of Tory austerity measures. Which would be a good idea, but not quite the effect many on the hard left seem to think it would have.

And, as noted, the big problem with the rich and taxes is just getting them to pay any in the first place. Personally, I’d settle for getting to just pay what they owe. Hence why I’d argue the focus should be on cracking down on aggressive tax avoidance and reigning in tax havens. But of course that requires strong international institutions (such as the EU), which some left wing populist oppose.

In truth however, if you want to increase tax revenue, you’ve really got to do it for everyone, although obviously the rich will get hit the hardest by such a rise. Putting them up on as much items as possible is a better strategy as this spreads out the impact and makes it harder to fiddle the system and avoid taxes. This is what the Scandinavians do. They also often charge a wealth tax, which means you pay tax on your net worth (typically about 0.1-1% per year) as well as property and land value taxes. But again, such taxes hit everybody. And putting taxes up for middle income voters (who tend to be the ones who decide elections) is easier said than done.

Hence the trick with tax rises is selling them properly. For example, the SNP recently put up taxes here in Scotland, with all tax bands rising (other than the very lowest bands), with the highest rises effecting the highest earners. This was sold on the back of avoiding the sort of austerity measures being applied down in England. Which I thought was fair enough. And if polls are to be believed, it seems most in Scotland agreed. By contrast in France, Marcon has gotten himself in all sorts of trouble with his tax rises largely because he didn’t sell them properly and introduced them too quickly.

This is the risk the left run if they plan on selling “tax the rich” as the snake oil solution which will cure everything. It will raise some money yes. It will help restore some equality to the system yes. But its not going to magically solve everything overnight. And it might well produce a populist backlash, that the right will exploit.

Managing the shutdown and Trump


The thing that I don’t get about the US shutdown is how can the government just shut down and stop paying its workers? This is the sort of thing you’d expect to happen in a failed state, where corruption meant the president (or one of his cronies), emptied the treasury into an offshore bank account and fled. Its clearly a sign that something has gone terribly wrong. Again, imagine you’re and investor in, well any other country on the planet, and you heard the government had run out of money. You’d be pulling your cash out of there and making for the airport right quick.

And, don’t US workers have some sort of rights? I mean in most countries, your boss stops paying you he’s in breach of contract. You are within your rights to withdraw your labour, quit without giving any notice and potentially sue for back salary (or redundancy money), even force your employer into liquidation if he refuses to pay up. Or is this one the things we can look forward too after the UK leaves the EU? And keep in mind that this exactly the problem facing US private sector employers who might have to start laying off staff soon.


Its worth noting that the shutdown effects some states more than others, and a lot of them are swing states or republican….

Speaking of brexit, as a last ditch way of stopping a no deal brexit, its possible the UK government’s tax collecting powers will get vetoed by MP’s. While that won’t cause a UK government shutdown straight away, obviously there’s only so long the country could keep going if the government loses tax income. But certainly, such shut-downs, or even the threat of one, should tell you something has gone terribly wrong in that country and the political system has essentially failed to do its job.

The sticking point is Trump’s wall. However, given how much he’s flip flopped on this issue, its far from clear what he actually wants. Within weeks of his presidency starting it was pointed out to him by border agents, and all of the US states who line the US/Mexico border that they don’t want a wall built, for a variety of simple practical reasons. He seems to have accepted this and stated that instead we’d be getting a fence. But trouble is there already IS a fence. It doesn’t cover the entire border, but largely because it doesn’t have too. Natural barriers, such as the Rio Grande, high mountains, fields of desert cacti, etc. present formidable obstacles to anyone trying to cross (more so than his wall). And putting up a fence/wall here would present various practical problems. For example, ranchers on the Rio Grande need access to the river bank for their cattle.


Already most of the US/Mexico border is covered by fences

So on the one hand the $5+ billion he’s asking for is too much to upgrade the existing fences, and far too little to build his fabled wall. Keeping in mind that a wall (or fence) would be ineffective without someone there to guard it. As I pointed out in a prior post, any determined group of fence jumpers will make short work of Trump’s wall (delaying them for perhaps 20 minutes to an hour), unless there’s an army of border guards to stop them. Which would cost several billion a year to operate. And speaking if which, I thought Trump said the Mexicans would pay for the wall. And doesn’t he claim to be worth tens of billions? Surely he could afford to build it himself and then the Mexicans will pay him back?

Furthermore Trump says we need the wall to stop the flow of drugs. Well there was a BBC episode of “Stacy Dooley investigates” recently which looked at drugs smuggling into America and you know where most of it was coming from? CANADA! Yes, America’s friendly neighbour to the north just so happens to be the main source of Opioid’s, Methamphetamine’s, MDMA, illegal Cannabis, etc. as well as the source of ingredients for numerous other narcotics. And there’s no fence and very little security (during the show they took them out to remote spots where literally one side of the road is the US, the other side is Canada, you can just show up with two pickups, toss bags between the two). So you’d think it would make more sense to beef up security at the Canadian border.

Of course this highlights the real reason why Trump and his supporters want the wall. It has nothing to do with security and more to do with security theatre. He and his supporters are racists and bigots and they want to turn the US into some sort of giant whites only gated community. You can sell illegal drugs in the US (or commit acts of terrorism, the majority of which are committed by white males) all you like. Just so long as you are white, they don’t mind.

In essence Trump is trying to blackmail congress into signing a blank cheque for reasons that are racially motivated. And if there’s one thing that Congress doesn’t do, its sign blank cheques. In fact its strange the Republicans aren’t up in arms over this. I mean Obama asked for the slightest amount of money for anything, even things that were essential and good value for money and the GOP howled with fury and claimed he was trying to bankrupt the country. Now the deficit be damned we need our tax cuts and our wall. It just goes to show the GOP has become little more than the cult of anti-liberalism. They are in favour of things because the democrats are against it.

So, where do we go from here? Clearly the democrats backing down to Trump’s childish behaviour would be ill advised. Appeasing chest-puffing, table bagging vain autocrats never ends well. In fact I’d argue where in this mess because in the past congress has given in to the boss baby, just to avoid total national paralysis. This for too long has been a flaw of the democrats, their willingness to be the grown ups in the room and concede ground to the GOP, for the sake of the country. But, like a spoilt little child, this just encourages more bad behaviour from the GOP. If the democrats do concede, what’s the bet Trump will shutdown the government again in order to get the Mueller investigation stopped, or the election rules changed in his favour, or maybe try to rig the election with threats of a shutdown for the full duration of the transition period.

One possible way out would be to concede to Trump, but with the caveat of some independent review of border security and its needs. Given that such a review will inevitably conclude that such measures would be a waste of time and money (instead the focus should be on border crossing, airports or, as noted, the Canadian border). And by the time it reaches this conclusion he’ll have been either impeached or voted out of office. While Trump might not go for it, it would at least allow the democrats to ensure the blame falls squarely on his shoulders alone.

If that doesn’t work, the democrats will just have to be strict parents. The worst thing you can do as a parent, if you’ve got a screaming brat, is spoil him and give in. Rewarding bad behaviour, will result in worse behaviour. If Trump rejects the above, I’d suggest the democrats withdraw the offer, as well as the current offer of $1.6 billion for extra border security and end all negotiations with the white house (keeping channels open with moderate Republicans of course), focusing instead on something that will infuriate Trump (such as the Muelller investigation or publishing his tax returns). This (after a bit of kicking and screaming) will force Trump and the GOP to act like grown ups and come up with some sort of compromise.

A failure of checks and balances

There’s quite a few Americans hoping against hope that America’s anti-fascist circuit breaker, the electoral college will trip up the Trump presidency before it even starts. There’s plenty of good reasons why it should, the latest revelations regarding how Russia assisted Trump’s campaign, his questionable cabinet picks and the clear signs of potential corruption, with him trying to use his office to further his own business interests. However its not going to happen. Yes it probably should, but it won’t.


If there’s one thing Trump is correct about its how the US political system is broken, although he’s not going to mend it. His cabinet picks, a bunch of greasy brown envelope wielding Washington insiders and Goldman sachs bankers (quite a number of whom are close to Putin), should tell you all you need to know on that front. He could well prove to be the straw that breaks the camels back. Indeed its worth noting that the US is already one step away on the democratic Index from “flawed democracy” status….and that’s based on 2015 number prior to this election.


Trump’s proposed secretary of state has many skills that suit him to his new job….of kissing Putin’s ass!

Firstly its worth remembering how the electoral college came about. It goes back to the founding of the US itself. The founding fathers were aware of the criticisms from the ancient Greek world regarding the dangers of democracy. They understood how a demagogue could manipulate the public into supporting him and cease power, thus ending democracy in all but name. And there was a perfectly good demagogue waiting to take over – King George, the original mad king himself. A historical fact of history that is often forgotten is that not everyone in America wanted to become independent. No, there was a sizeable number of Royalists who wanted to stay part of the UK.

So the founding fathers had good reason to be concerned. Their logic therefore, was that the people should essentially elect them to the electoral college and they would then pick the president, treading the actual vote as a sort of advisory election. Hence if the public voted for Benedict Arnold or something (make America British again), the founding fathers could just ignore that and put someone else in charge.

However, over the years this fact has been forgotte. Most of the electors these days are party insiders within the GOP and democrats. We are talking about the most odorous, party hacks you’ll ever find. The sort who both parties have to keep in back room positions out of public sight. Most of this bunch won’t get out of bed unless there was a brown envelope with a bribe waiting by the bedside from the carpet manufacturing industry. And they won’t wash unless there was another one waiting from the cleaning products lobby in the bathroom. The idea that this lot are going to rescue America from Trump is somewhat fanciful to say the least.

Now okay, I’m making an unfair generalisation. Yes there are some honest electors who take there job very seriously and have actually read the constitution. Indeed two electors are actually suing the state of Colorado as we speak to be given the chance to vote the way their conscience dictates. However they are likely to be in a minority, just take a look at the election results. The bulk of them will see Trump as an opportunity to loot the treasury as the city burns. About the only advice I’d give is to invest in the manufacturers of brown envelopes, because there will be a lot of them being used with Trump in charge.

And keep in mind there are some in the democratic camp who also aren’t happy about how Bernie Sanders was treated. Now with out going into the details of the rights and wrongs therein, my point is its just as likely that some of those in the democratic party will not support Hillary as those in the GOP will not support Trump. Indeed, recall that Colorado voted democrat. So those electors I mentioned earlier, are likely trying to avoid having to vote Hillary and might even support Trump.

So the great democratic circuit breaker is likely to fail, which begs the question, what exactly is the point of the electoral college? If there ever was a time for it to deny someone the white house now would be the time to do it. If they’re just going to be robots why have them?

Some say the electoral college is there to give smaller states more rights. Excuse me, isn’t that what the Senate is for? Rhode Island has the same number of senators as California, that’s whopping x40 over-representation for one state over another. What more do these states want?

And there’s a perfectly sensible way it could be abolished and still make Presidential elections a state by state contest. Have the election in two rounds. In the first round of voting, for a candidate to win he must carry +50% of the nationwide popular vote and +50% of the vote in at least 60% of all states. If no candidate achieves this, all but the top two candidates are eliminated and the election is repeated a few weeks later with a straight national popular vote runoff. This would ensure that whoever wins gets at least +50% of the vote in a majority of states.

Better still, let the Vice president be picked by the Senate (meaning the smaller states), with them picking from among retired governors. This is basically how Presidential candidates pick their VP’s anyway, so we’d just be making it a bit more democratically accountable. While also reminding who is ever in the White House that they can’t afford to neglect smaller states. By contrast the current system means we face the absurdity of a candidate who has not only failed to win the popular vote, but only got 46.5% of the vote (times the turn out that’s a support base of just 25% of the electorate).

And speaking of the Senate, there are others hoping that the Senate will block the basket of deplorables that Trump’s picked for his cabinet. Again, this is not going to happen. Many of Trump’s cabinet are lobbyists who have been greasing the sweaty palms of these senators with bribes campaign funds for years. Its kind of lacking in credibility for senators to get up and say “you’re a crook….and I know that because you helped to fund my re-election campaign”.

Yes there are some honest senators on both sides of the aisle. They can slow the process down, embarrass these nominee’s maybe even force one or two of them to withdraw. But they’ll be up against a corrupt majority who’ll vote them all in eventually.

America is founded on a principle of checks and balances. But all the indicators are that those checks and balances are about to fail, and likely too is America’s time as the world’s leading state. Indeed, its worth remembering how racism, populism and a push back against inequality and diversity may have helped bring down the Roman empire.

A GOP stitch-up of the election


The “October surprise” of a new batch of Hillary’s e-mails has threatened to upset the election. The democrats have cried foul and perhaps for good reason. There is a long standing tradition in all democratic governments than in the weeks leading up to an election government agencies are supposed to be in a state of Purdah, which means no statements should be released that might sway the vote either way. While the system isn’t quite as official and regulated in the US as it is in the UK, it is still a widely respected policy. Its been suggested that FBI chief James Comey actions, who is also a registered Republican, might actually be illegal and thus he could end up in prison rather than Hillary.

Indeed the FBI’s actions here don’t add up. Normal practice would be to keep this sort of thing confidential (even if there wasn’t an election going on) until you have something more tangible (such as some actual “evidence”, the FBI haven’t even read these e-mails yet, they could be a collection of Hillary’s pot roast recipes for all we know). This applies whether you are investigating a political candidate or Benny from the Bronx or Johnny tightlips.

Why? Well for starters we have this principle of innocent until proven guilty. If you don’t even have evidence of guilt (never mind proof), its a little early to be throwing around accusations. It makes getting an unbiased jury harder and makes it more likely the defendant will get off on a technicality (as it kind of implies you launched a fishing expedition against him, which technically the cops aren’t supposed to do). Also obviously enough if a prep knows they are being investigated they will do something about it, skip town, intimidate witnesses, “retire” a key informant, etc. Given that the democrats now see this as a GOP plot, they are closing ranks, the chances of the FBI completing their investigation in a timely manner are somewhere between slim and none. So one is forced to the conclusion that either James Comey is grossly incompetent or criminally abusing his office for political ends.

But how serious is this e-mail scandal? Well firstly we do need to remember that back when Hillary did set up this account it was against the backdrop of wikileaks when there were fears that US government e-mail systems weren’t that secure. This was largely the fault of Obama’s predecessor G. W. Bush. His big idea, the department of Homeland security, was a bureaucratic nightmare. So in order to make it work, they adopted very lax controls over e-mail security, which was exploited by Wikileak whistle-blowers.


Also at the time the legislation governing the handling of confidential materials was a bit ambiguous, it wasn’t clear if it applied to e-mails. Keep in mind that Hillary’s predecessor, Condelezza Rice went around with a blackberry during her time in office (the whole reason Hillary went with this private e-mail server was because the NSA won’t supply her with a secure blackberry). On the other hand, its been argued Hillary might have been using a private e-mail server to avoid future FOI requests. Keep in mind that the GOP have been bombarding her with these for the last 25 years. So her paranoia is understandable, but its possible she was genuinely trying to hid something (e.g. emails to wall street bankers, the Clinton foundation, etc.). But the point is A) we don’t know, this is all speculation. And B) Republicans have done the same thing or far worse in the past.


If the bar for prosecution and denying someone access to high office is this low, then G. W. Bush (two illegal wars, black sites, illegal use of torture, the biggest recession in 80 years), G. H. Bush (Panama invasion, the Church committee while head of CIA), Reagan (Iran Contra) should all have been impeached and removed from office. And Mitt Romney and Trump himself should also be disqualified as both have done far worse than anything committed by Hilary. To call the Republicans behaviour here double standards doesn’t even come close.

Of course, one factor in all of this everyone seems to forget is that there’s a long standing tradition in US politics that upon the election of a new president, the heads off all of the US government departments will file a letter of resignation with the new president. Now generally the incoming president will refuse to accept their resignation and re-appoint them. But every once in a while they don’t (Nixon was notorious for using this to get rid of officials he didn’t like). Given the frayed relationship between Hillary and Comey, he probably feared she won’t e-mail him back once he tenders his resignation (her likely claiming that she didn’t want to force the FBI to start another e-mail investigation!) and he’d be out on his ear.

So there’s an element of cynical short-sightedness here. Comey, trying to save his career, regardless of the cost to the country. Of course whether you’d want to be FBI chief with Trump in charge is another matter. He’ll use the FBI to go after his perceived enemies, so he’ll spend the next 4 years reading the e-mails of Hillary and late night comedians, while drug dealers, the mafia (who may have Trump on the payroll), terrorists and corrupt business executives get ignored. In short the FBI will be sent back to the bad old days of J. Edgar Hoover’s time in charge…if they aren’t already there!.

And of course, what’s the likely outcome? Well if Hillary wins (which is still the most likely outcome), not only is Comey gone but pretty much every Republican senior office holder too. She would be well within her rights to argue that if the GOP are going to use the offices of state to settle political scores and play silly games, screw you, I’ll sack the lot of ye’s and appoint democrats or independents to those jobs instead. Of course this will lead to yet more partisan politics and a lack of political progress.

And speaking of short-sightedness, what is Assange up too? Okay, he doesn’t like Hillary, she doesn’t like him. But what does he hope to achieve? Does he want Trump to be elected? What will happen then? Assange’s claim for seeking asylum is that he fears going back to Sweden in case they extradite him to the US where he may fact charges carrying the death penalty. This doesn’t add up. Sweden has laws in place that would forbid extradition under such circumstances. But with Trump in charge, do you think Trump is going to respect Ecuadorian sovereignty? No way, he’ll have some assassin blow Assange’s brains out from across the street or send some Green Beret’s in to drag him out. So for the sake of scoring a few childish points, he’s jeopardising his own life and the entire political system. No wonder he has the Ecuadorian’s nervous. My guess is Trump or Hillary he’ll likely be put out on the street not long after the election, as he has now made himself a liability.

The short-sightedness of some people, they’re willingness to cut off their own nose to spite their face, is just sometimes baffling. Hopefully American voters will have the good sense to see through the facade to what’s really going on here and ignore it.

The politics of Fear & Hate

Lease anyone think radical Islamists have a monopoly on stupidity and senseless violence, the Tea “party’s” activities have claimed what could be their first victims in shooting in Tucson Arizona, 6 dead (including a federal judge), and a Democratic Congresswoman critically injured.

The only thing that surprises me is that this didn’t happen before, and unfortunately you can be sure there will be more incidents like this. Since Obama has been elected the Tea Party and its principal supporters on Fox news and right-wing talk radio hosts have been creating a climate of fear, deliberately encouraging the spread of vicious rumours and absurd conspiracy theories, for example that Obama isn’t a US citizen (nor a Christian) that his health care bill will mean “death panels” (which already exist in Texas by the way, brought in by Governor Bush! they can turn off you’re life support if you run out of cash or HMO coverage even against the wishes of you or your family), that Obama is a Socialists (they won’t even let him in the labour party and he doesn’t fight enough with his own supporters to join the socialists), that he plans to change the gun laws (we’ll after yesterday’s events, that actually might happen!), etc. Sarah Palin even put out a poster with several democratic congress members “in her crosshairs” – including Mrs Gifford. Ironically she was on the fiscally conservative wing of the democratic party, the real reason Palin targeted her seat was because it was one in a conservative state that the Tea Party stood a half chance of winning (in the end the Tea party all but ensured the defeat of the Republican challenger).

For months, the media in the US has been warning of a potentially dangerous undercurrent within the Tea “party”, with many talking of “Revolution” or “launching guerrilla war”. They’ve been many cases of Tea party supporters showing up to rival political events with guns (supposedly to reinforce their right to bear arms, though those effected suspect its more an act of political intimidation). Rather than try to rein in the forces they’d unleashed, those at the top of the tea party have been upping the rhetoric and now it’s had the inevitable results. Well I hope Mrs Palin, Rush Limbaugh, Ron Paul (the shooter was apparently a particular fan of his policies), and Glenn Beck are happy now.

This is the insidious danger of what they were under taking, using the politics of fear and hate is a dangerous game as invariably it leads to matters running out of control. Like Victor Frankenstein the Republicans and those at the head of the Tea “party” have now created a monster than they can’t control. And it’s a monster that could well destroy America, literally tearing the country into two pieces (a liberal leaning progressive nation on the East & West coasts with “Jesusland” in between).

A good example of the idiocy of the Glenn Beck/Palin/Limbaugh is they’re Nazi Tourette’s syndrome (i.e they accuse everyone on the left of being like the nazi’s….I don’t think they’re familiar with Godwin’s law).

Well okay guys, if you want to play that game, lets do a quick fact check and see who is more like the nazi’s (Democrat or Republican or Tea “party”). The nazi’s believed in the following things, I’ll leave it to the reader to tick the party boxes:

• They believed that their country was a unique nation in the history of the world with a special and important destiny
• They believed in a strong military and in using that military to solve their countries problems
• They believed in unilateral military intervention in other nations affairs
• They cared little what other nations thought of their policies, were less willing to negotiate solutions, and more likely to renege on treaties
• They were against the UN (then called the league of nations), and eventually withdrew from it
• They felt it was okay for their nation to invade another and take another nations resources “because they’re not using it properly”
• They liked playing with guns
• They liked taking their guns into the woods & running around shooting at stuff
• They thought it was okay to use violence to promote their politics, or the threat of violence at least
• They liked having big group meetings with lots of flag waving and patriotic displays.
• They’re political leaders were prone to stirring up the supporters to fear their political enemies, who they claimed were involved in many conspiracies against the party and those on the right
• They didn’t like gays, liberals, or ethnic minorities
• They wanted to exclude these groups above from certain jobs & take away their rights. They eventually hoped to throw all ethnic minorities out of the country
• They were morally conservative, feeling that a family (stay at home mom, dad goes to work) unit was the best environment in which to raise kids
• They banned abortion, and clamped down on family planning (in order to increase the population of they’re “master races”). Although this one is slightly neutralised by their policy of sterilisation aimed at disabled people and ethnic minorities (i.e they were to some degree neutral on the issue of abortion seeing it as a means to an end, but they did actually pass laws certain American conservatives would not disagree with)
• They felt it was okay to lie to kids in science class, German children were told to believe that their German blood somehow made them superior to those with other types of blood, even thought there was obviously no scientific evidence to support this (creationists anyone…..)
• The leadership of most Fascists regimes tended to be naturally suspicious of academics and scientists. While happy to exploit them for their own ends they disliked being talked down to by experts (For example, it seems one of the key reasons the Nazi atom bomb project failed is that the nazi leadership couldn’t get they’re head around the concept and never seriously funded the project to the degree necessary)
• They were pro-business (many wealthy German businessmen basically bankrolled the party) and very much in favour of large companies being left well alone by government….so long as the “right people” i.e. their political allies, were running them of course!
• They felt the media should self censor and only report stories positive to the government, especially at a time of war
• They were decidedly anti-union. They believed that businesses should exploit workers all they liked, if the worker felt he was underpaid/badly treated – quit! (well until they banned that too!)
• The nazi view of evolution is often distorted. What they believed in was a warped version of evolution that encouraged people to compete against each other like animals in nature, with the strongest triumphing and the weak vanquished. So it would be more correct to say that they believed that the strong in society should take what they want from the weak
• They were against state hand outs to the poor & unemployed
• While neither strongly for, nor against religion, Fascists groups generally saw the benefits of paying lip services to christian groups that supported their cause, although only as a political move (the “opium of the masses” as religion was once called at the time I believe). For example, Mussolini is most famous for the Lateran treaty he signed with the pope. Compared to socialist groups at the time however, you’d have to Fascists in the “for Christianity” box, as many Christian churches at the time strongly supported fascists regimes
• They were also in favour of the death penalty, including for crimes such as abortion, and generally favoured harsh penalties on crminals
• They saw certain situations in which torture of they’re enemy’s was considered justified

So, what was your score? Now, in the spirit of Godwin’s law, I’m not suggesting the Tea Party (or Republican party) are like the Nazi’s (….yet!), but there is an element of the pot calling the kettle black here, and they need to stop making irresponsible comparisons between idologies that they don’t understand. Obama might well favour a women’s right to choose, but that doesn’t mean he wants to push people into gas chambers! No more than Sarah Palin’s opposition to abortion means she wants to do the same (….yet!). US conservatives need to take on board yesterday’s events and have a good long hard look at themselves, because they are heading down a very dangerous road. History has a nasty habit of repeating itself when people forget its lessons, and as I’ve shown above, I don’t think most US conservatives are clueless about history.

And I have advice for any US conservatives reading this, from now on I suggest you keep a large kitchen rolling pin next to your computer. Next time you feel the urge to call someone a nazi, apply firm pressure with said item to the top of you’re head! Repeat until the urge goes away.

All that said, there are some practical steps to reduce the tensions in US politics. Making the words of political commentators legally binding & liable. i.e. A commentator on a major news network incites someone through lies and half truths to shoot another person, they (the station and the commentator) can be subject to criminal conviction, and are libel to be sued by the aggrieved party.

Another option could be a law banning privately held firearms from within a 1 mile radius of any political rally or event.

Alternatively, how about a law of reversal, in the event of a political assassination the government immediately passes a law they produces the complete opposite effect to what the assassin wanted. So if say, someone in the future assassinates (or tries to) a congressman because of his support for gay marriage, this law would make it a legal requirement that the government then legalise gay marriage (and make it compulsory for all members of the Republican party!) This shooter in the US seemed to be partial to Ron Paul’s policy regarding the use of precious metals as mediums of currency. I would suggest therefore, as a deterrence to future assassinations attempts, that the US government now pass a law forbidding private individuals from possessing more than, say $35,000 in gold or precious metals. No particular reason, other than to deter future assassins and piss off Ron Paul. Similarly the assassination in Punjab recently would require the immediate scrapping of all blasphemy laws in Pakistan.