Category Archives: America

Trump’s detractors still trying to prove their worth

The breastbeating in the US isn’t over, not by a long shot. All those experts who were proven wrong in their pre-election pronouncements are continuing their quest to try and show that they were not really wrong.

Among them is Nate Silver, once known as the man who never got anything wrong, and now known as the god who failed. Silver is still continuing to analyse statistics to try and show that he was actually quite correct in his predictions even though he was totally wrong.

Not for nothing is there a hue and cry over fake news in the US.

People are also acting surprised that Donald Trump has switched tracks on many of the election slogans that won him support. This is normal behaviour as a politician will say anything and everything to win. But Americans seemingly do not believe this.

Trump will not build any kind of wall as he promised. No, he will deport as many people as Barack Obama did but make a big show of doing so. It will seem like he is more active in this area than his predecessor. Trump knows how to manage the public much better than many others.

He has already indicated that he not going to “drain the swamp”, or in other words keep Washington insiders out of executive positions in his administration. He has even given a former Google executive, Joshua Wright, a position at the Federal Trade Commission. This is the same Google, whose chairman Eric Schmidt set up a company to provide Hillary Clinton’s technology needs during the campaign.

Trump knows that politics involves wheeling and dealing as he has done all these years in his business endeavours. He will play the game for all it is worth, quietly boosting his own worth even as he attempts to convince the people who are his constitutency that he is doing what is in their interests.

He will want a second term, if only to prove that he is the equal of Barack Obama. Not that Trump is interested to any great degree in politics or a legacy; no, for him it is more about ego. He has proven all the naysayers wrong once and would love to do so again.

The US will not suffer greatly under Trump, though it will continue to become a more rabid and polarised country. But that has been a trend during Obama’s time too.

The world has already seen plenty of fools in the White House. Trump is just one more, with a loud mouth to boot. That makes him look worse than many of his predecessors, but make no mistake the difference with George Bush isn’t all that much.

Donald Trump won. Just get over it

Donald Trump was elected US president on November 8 but nearly three weeks later, people do not seem to have gotten over it.

The cries of woe and anguish continue to be heard in the American media and elsewhere, many of them from the same pundits who never saw it coming.

About the only two prominent Americans who genuinely canvassed a Trump win were the filmmaker Michael Moore and the cartoonist Scott Adams. They made their predictions long before the polls, and stuck true to them right to the end.

Moore tried his best to alert people to the dangers of the poll going to Trump, even putting out an uncharacteristic piece of hagiography titled Michael Moore in Trumpland a few weeks before the election.

But he failed to convince an electorate that had made up its mind a long time before the date.

So why did Trump win?

There are numerous factors that are possible causes. For one, the voting public in the US (and many other countries too) have long ceased to be convinced by facts and figures. There is a simple reason for this: given that most of this data comes from people in authority (politicians, civic leaders, the media, so-called pundits) who lie and lie and lie again, the public have ceased to give anything they say any credence.

So if people are now complaining that the masses are unwilling to deal with facts, you know whom to blame. They will believe anything else, and you really cannot take issue with that. They pick and choose what they will believe.

A second factor that came into play was the opposition candidate herself. Hillary Clinton (and when you say that, Bill is part of the baggage) has loads of baggage and much of it is not very commendatory. During the campaign, there were leaks that showed the Democrats had tilted the balance so that Bernie Sanders, who was a much better candidate and one who would probably have defeated Trump, would not become their nominee. Did that anger probable Democrat voters? Take a guess.

Then there was the strange pattern of campaigning where Clinton did not bother to visit many states which, it was taken for granted, would vote Democrat as they have done so in the past. If there is one thing voters hate, it is to be taken for granted. They gave Clinton the finger. The middle finger.

And why would the Democrats put Barack Obama and his wife out to campaign for Clinton? Obama split the nation right down the colour divide when he won. The second time, he just managed to squeeze through past Mitt Romney. He is not the unifying figure many leftists and intellectuals see him to be; if anything, his election only made race more of an issue in a country where it was already a massive factor in just about everything.

Trump won just by not being a politician. He did not treat the whole thing as a popularity contest, just as an exercise that needed to be won. All those who keep whinging now that Clinton has won the popular vote – it is a waste of time. Winning the election was the name of the game, not winning the popular vote.

Donald Trump has sane supporters too

I have a friend who has been living in the US for the last 30 years. He is an intelligent, rational person who is widely read. We have been close friends for the last 37 years.

He is one of the people who will be voting for Donald Trump on November 8. He went to the US on an H1-B visa.

He wrote what follows, well before Trump’s comments on women came to light. Read, judge if you wish, but ponder: if reasonable, sensible, middle-class people come to these conclusions, there must be something terribly wrong with the social system in the US.

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Religion by itself is not the problem – all religions are, by nature, esoteric and mysterious and, ultimately, a matter of faith. It is the clash of cultures originating from these religions that causes all strife and conflict in our society and all societies on planet earth.

Donald Trump is bringing some strong medicine to this country, and the party elites are scared – that their gravy train is coming to an end, that better trade deals will result in good jobs for minorities, that lobbyists will have to downsize, that waste, fraud and abuse in no-bid military contracts and pharmaceutical purchases are going to stop, and that the immigration rules which determine who, and how many people, can come into this country will undergo some major changes.

“America will be the country we all believe in, we all dream of….” said Chef Andres. The only way to keep that intact is to stop a million new immigrants coming into this nation every year. Already our cities are getting crowded, our roads clogged, and our countryside (what is left of it) is fast disappearing. This has a huge impact on our jobs, our culture, our values, and our standard of living. That is why Trump wants all immigration halted until we come up with a sane immigration policy.

There was a time when this country could use a lot of immigrants. That time has passed. Allowing a million immigrants each year is mass migration. That is like taking over a country without a war. If you are supporting Hillary Clinton and open borders, then we no longer need a military. What is there to protect?

By the same token, Clinton and all her supporters should get rid of the doors in their houses, so that anyone can come in and stay and help themselves to anything they want. You have to get real.

This election is about the choice between open borders and controlled borders, between having a country and not having one. It is also about the choice between insider career politicians who are beholden to big moneyed special interest groups, and Trump, the outsider, who cannot be bought. Godspeed Trump!

It is time for change. Time for a non career politician to step in and stop the 1 million immigrants flooding into this country every year; eliminate ISIS, and build safe havens so like-minded people can live in their own countries; and work the room with our elected representatives and develop consensus around the public agenda and not around what Wall Street wants.

In 2014, 1.3 million foreign-born individuals moved to the United States, an 11 per cent increase from 1.2 million in 2013. India was the leading country of origin, with 147,500 arriving in 2014, followed by China with 131,800, and Mexico with 130,000.

Trump is the only one standing between us and the millions of new immigrants who are coming in each year and having an impact on our jobs, our values, and our culture. Vote for change!

Automation is one reason, and immigration (H1-B abuse) and outsourcing are the other main reasons for job losses in the US.

Clinton has no clue on how to address the former, and — considering her donor class — she has no interest in addressing the latter.

Good negotiators are not necessarily good debaters. How else would you explain Barack Obama who is a gifted public speaker, but could not for the life of him work the room with his opposition in it? If debating skills were the basis for selecting a president, the people would have voted for Ted Cruz who is a better debater than Hillary. No, what this country needs is a good negotiator, not a debate champion.

Thousands of people are ripping into Trump for not speaking like a politician. And yet deep down inside they know that he is the only one standing between them and the millions of new immigrants who are coming in each year and taking over their jobs, their values, and their culture.  Vote for change.

Trump’s favourite Bible verse is 1 John 4:12: “No one has ever seen God; but if we love one another, God remains in us, and His love is perfected in us.”

Notable takeaways from a recent Trump speech:

“Hillary Clinton is the last line of defence for a failed political establishment and she does not have you at heart. The Clinton campaign exists for one reason, and that is to continue rigging the system. We will break up the industrial-media complex. That is why I am running – I will be your greatest voice ever.

“They go to the same restaurants, they go to the same conferences, they have the same friends and connections, they write cheques to the same thinktanks, and produce exactly the same reports. It’s a gravy train and it just keeps on flowing. On November 8 that special interest gravy train is coming to a very abrupt end.

“The insiders in Washington and Wall Street look down at the hardworking people like you, like so many people in this state, like so many people in this county. But you are the backbone, your are the heart and soul of the nation. Don’t ever forget it folks.”

The reasons why I am voting for Trump, shown in the order in which things need to be fixed in this country:

Issue 1. Our rigged economic and political systems – Issues 2-6 have remained unsolved for decades because the special interests who control our rigged system proactively stop any solution from being adopted. Only Trump can fix this.

Issue 2. The flagging economy 𔃀 caused by both automation and globalisation. Prosperity can be more widely spread if we negotiate good deals both within and outside this country. Trump will bring good negotiators into our government.

Issue 3. Unfettered immigration – bringing in a million immigrants a year is transforming this nation into a Third World country. Everything from birthright citizenship to safe zones for war-torn countries must be examined.

Issue 4. Minorities – we need to provide a hand up to minority communities. Wasted and under-utilised human resources are one of the primary reasons/sources for crime in many of our cities.

Issue 5. Healthcare – costs need to brought down and basic services made available to every citizen. There is enough money in the system, it just needs to be managed better.

Issue 6. Debt overhang – we need to write down the debts — both credit card and college loans — held by ordinary citizens. This will also help the economy (Issue 2).

The elimination of waste fraud and abuse will cut across many of the above issues. That, and bringing competent people into our government who can deliver on the public agenda, will surely make our country great again. I cannot wait for Trump to arrive in our capital.

Logic will not help to defeat Trump

As the US election process approaches its endgame, there are growing fears that the candidate whom many see as the less attractive of the two available options will end up winning.

This is a legitimate fear. Nobody thought that Donald Trump would end up as the Republican presidential nominee when the whole process began. And given that Hillary Clinton is not exactly the most popular of Democrat nominees, the fears are even greater now that her opponent may end up being inaugurated on January 20.

But in the process, simple logic appears to have deserted the so-called thinking classes in the US and in many other countries. Journalists, politicians, community leaders, sportspeople – they all seem to think that if they speak out about the foibles they see as being the entirety of Trump, then they will be able to influence others to come over to their side and ensure a Clinton win.

They seem to be banking on information — data — winning the day, on convincing the undecided ones by using the media to out Trump as the worse of the two options.

This indicates a startling kind of naivety, an inability to understand why Trump is the candidate. People have been fed up with professional politicians for a long time; these are the classes who promise everything but the moon and only look after a certain class once they gain power.

This time, there are lots of people who have made up their minds that they are going to stick it to the establishment. After the war in Iraq, after the 2008 financial crisis, they are convinced that professional politicians can do them no good.

Backing Trump does not mean that they like him, or even any of his policies. He is just the Molotov cocktail that they throw at the rest of the political class.

The level of bigotry in the country is catered to by Trump, who has said some of the most xenophobic things that any politician has uttered. He knows that these sentiments represent the unhappiness that many in the US are feeling. He also knows that they cannot express these sentiments.

You cannot fight bigotry with information, You cannot fight something which exists in the heart through a process that is aimed at the brain. That is something those trying to swing the election must realise.

One can understand the fear among the educated classes and minorities whom Trump has spoken out against. If Trump did become the president, they know that they could be targeted, their country’s image would suffer, that he would undertake at least some actions which could cause the US to suffer economically. And, by extension, they would suffer too.

Hence their panicked reaction is not to be sneered at. But is it going to help defeat Trump? The type of people who support Trump are highly unlikely to be brought around by the arguments advanced by the mainstream media. These are the establishment sorts whom those who have fears about their livelihood, their jobs, hate with a passion.

In their eagerness to cast aspersions on Trump, they could well end up pushing people to give them the finger and cast a vote for someone whom they would not vote otherwise.

Comedy Central screwed up badly by appointing Trevor Noah

It is difficult to think that a company like Comedy Central, which has been so successful in commissioning comedy shows that satirise the news, could make a mistake like it did in 2015 when it let Jon Stewart go with an election around the corner.

It is impossible to believe that the company could not have persuaded Stewart to stick on and go after the November 8 voting took place this year. Perhaps it thought that its choice of replacement, South African Trevor Noah, would be able to find his groove after a few months.

In media outlets here and there, the reason advanced for bringing in a younger host is said to be the need to attract a younger audience; the argument made is that Stewart’s audience was mostly a 45+ demographic while Noah, just 31 at the time he took over, would pull in the crowd below 40, a group that the management deems to be a wealthier demographic and what it needs as it looks to the future.

But if that was the expectation, then it has not been realised. Audiences for The Daily Show, which Stewart nurtured into one of the top-rating shows in the US, have fallen by as much as 40 percent. Comedy Central says it is not worried because the profile of the audience has changed as it wanted. But Noah himself is proving to be a poor replacement as host.

It is true that practically anybody would look bad besides Stewart who, over the 19 years that he was the host, made the show into a vehicle for both satirising the news and also for often conducting more serious journalism during his half-an-hour than most TV anchors and interviewers manage in a month of Sundays.

His interviews with that serial spreader of falsehoods, Ayaan Hirsi Ali, and the great New York Times liar Judith Miller, the latter of Scooter Libby leak fame, are masterpieces which any TV journalist would be proud to own.

He also nurtured a whole band of talented artists: John Oliver, Stephen Colbert and Samantha Bee all have their own shows now. Any of them would have been a better replacement for Stewart than Noah.

Noah’s shortcoming is just not that he is not an American. Oliver is British but has learnt more about American politics than many American hosts have. No, Noah’s talent lies in stand-up and not the more serious sort of comedy which The Daily Show made its own; he is the equivalent of Canadian Russell Peters who can provoke a good belly-laugh but does not make the viewer think.

At times, watching Noah on The Daily Show these days is a painful exercise. He struggles to move from one topic to another and tries various gimmicks to gain traction, all of which tend to fail. His interview skills are poor and he has the same lines in his opening every single night.

It would not surprise me if the election is Noah’s last stand and the management decides on a change after January 20 next year.

Democracy has its downsides, but it’s the best system we have

Right now, the whole of the US seems to be obsessed with Donald Trump, someone who was never considered likely to be a challenger for the Republican nomination for this year’s general election.

In the process, the US has forgotten that it claims to be a democracy. Trump may not be the best person to be a candidate for the presidency but then in a democratic system, the people’s choice is meant to prevail.

After the so-called Super Tuesday primaries, it became apparent that Trump would be a serious contender for the Republican nomination. With every subsequent contest, he has solidified his position and now looks a near certainty.

The US has always had this problem with democracy; some years ago, elections were held in the occupied Palestinian territories and, unlike what was expected, the Islamic party, Hamas, gained a majority. The US was terribly unhappy with this, as it had tried its level best to ensure a win for the other faction, Fatah.

Like every political system, democracy has its downsides. But when one decides to give power to the people, one has to be willing to accept the outcome.

When George W. Bush lost the 2000 election to Al Gore, he launched a Supreme Court challenge and engineered a win. He had arranged to rig the polls in Florida by disenfranchising black voters. In 2004, he did something similar, this time in Ohio.

For the US, the “right” candidate mush be chosen, some establishment figure who will play by all the established rules in Washington. Trump is an oddity, a moron, an idiot, someone who shows a strong tendency to megalomania.

But remember, he is the choice of Republican voters. Making a noise about it and blackballing him means that those doing it don’t really subscribe to democracy.

If they did, they would shut up and accept the people’s choice.

Serena Williams has lost and we should all rejoice

When Serena Williams loses, we should all rejoice. And more so when the loss comes as she is heading for a major achievement.

Serena is so wrapped up in herself that she was describing the calendar Grand Slam which she was trying to achieve as a “Serena Slam”. Can anyone be more egotistical?

Thankfully for all humanity, an Italian player by the name of Flavia Pennetta got in the way of Serena’s ambitions and dumped her from the US Open.

We should be all the more grateful to Pennetta because if she had not thrashed Serena, then the latter would have equalled the record of the great Steffi Graf. And that should never happen.

Williams is an obnoxious individual, as bad as the Australian Nick Kyrgios.

On the other hand, it would be difficult to find a more gracious champion than Graf. For years the German dominated women’s tennis but never behaved as though winning was her right.

In 1988, Graf thrashed Russian Natasha Zvereva 6-0, 6-0 in the final of the French Open in 34 minutes – the shortest and most one-side Grand Slam final on record. And Zvereva had beaten Martina Navratilova en route to the final!

Yet Graf was low-key at the presentation. She did not laud it over Zvereva, she did not indulge in triumphalism. One shudders to think of the way Serena would have carried on in such a situation.

Serena is often said to be one of the better women’s tennis players of the modern era. That may well be true. But she is also an ugly example of American arrogance, someone who can never be wrong, someone who carries a chip on her shoulder that is even bigger than her behind (and the latter does take some beating).

In 2011, when Williams met Australian Samantha Stosur in the final of the US Open, she was soundly beaten – but made her own news by behaving like a buffoon.

When she was rightly penalised for shouting during a point, Williams unleashed a tirade of abuse against the referee.

She has form in this regard. In 2009, she abused a Chinese lineswoman in racial terms. She was on the losing end that time too.

Whenever she is asked about her ugly behaviour, Williams always has the same excuse – she was in the “zone”. Whatever that is. She claims that she cannot remember what she did. It serves as an excuse for the vilest displays of bad behaviour.

But American officials always go easy on her. Perhaps they are scared that she will play the race card if she is levied a fine that is proportional to her stupid outbursts. For her outburst in 2009, she was fined a pathetic $US10,500. In 2011, she was asked to pay $US2000.

Such fines are not a deterrent. Williams earned $US1.4 million from the US Open in 2011. When officialdom reacts in this way, it is practically inviting her to behave in a similar fashion in the future.

Abbott ratchets up the fear factor to boost poll standings

When a prime minister has discovered that only one tactic — ratcheting up the fear factor — helps to boost his poll numbers, and his poll standing is desperately low, what does he do?

Tony Abbott has made a profession of demonising asylum-seekers and Muslims and pretending that the world faces an existential threat from the terrorist Islamic State group.

In recent times Abbott has gone back to similar tactics. First, he engineered a “request” from the US, for Australia to join in air strikes on Syria.

It was trumpeted as the US asking Australia to join. Not as it really happened.

This is a disgraceful thing to do, showing clearly that Abbott does not mind sacrificing young lives – the men and women of the armed forces – in order to prolong his political life.

And then the farce of the Australian Border Force informing all and sundry that it would be taking what amounts to Stasi tactics on the streets of Melbourne to detect visa evaders and violators added another dose of fear too.

Of course, Abbott denies he was involved in this exercise. So too does the immigration minister, Peter Dutton. The whole thing is put down to a badly written press release.

One needs to keep in mind that Abbott is on the record with an extremely reliable politician, Tony Windsor, as saying that he (Abbott) would do anything but sell his arse to become prime minister. This memorable quote was made to Windsor during the time when neither Labor nor the Coalition had the numbers to form government in 2010 and the support of three independents, Windsor among them, was desperately being sought.

If he was willing to do anything to gain the prime ministership, is it any wonder that Abbott is now trying anything and everything to avoid defeat in the next federal election?

We don’t want no reforming leaders

A reforming prime minister. Or a reforming president. That’s what many people think nearly every country in the world needs.

That’s why, when election time comes around, those of us who are interested in the politics of the people who rule us tend to ask what changes this man or this woman will bring. And the people we vote for will ultimately be the ones who say they will bring about the changes that we think are good for our nation. Selfish changes often, but changes nevertheless.

Only, we do not realise that reforming leaders are never going to get going once they are in the seat of power. You don’t have to live in a country that has been around for thousands of years, you could be in the US which is just 238 years old. There are so many vested interests in the system surrounding government at all levels that reform is well-nigh impossible.

For example, before coming to power Bill Clinton promised to reform healthcare, a sector sorely in need of radical change if it was to benefit the people. He handed the task to his wife, Hillary. But once she got going on the task, she realised that the funds providing medical insurance were not going to countenance any change. They were making too much from the existing system and they had enough politicians on their payrolls to defeat any vote that threatened the status quo.

The health insurance lobby won that battle, with ease.

Thus, taking this into account, the achievements of the late Gough Whitlam seem all the more remarkable. The man was in office for just three years or even less and brought about so many reforms that it leaves one dizzy just to think about them.

But then there was one difference between Whitlam and other politicians: when Whitlam got into office, he had a number of plans which he wanted to implement, come what may. His first interest was not securing his own re-election. Which is precisely what every single politician is interested today – making sure that when the polls are called next time, they have enough political capital, and enough money for a campaign that will lead to re-election. The long-term interests of the country do not even begin to come into the picture.

America forms coalitions to make money

WHEN the United States talks about coalitions, one should realise that it is all about finance. Not about bringing together countries to fight a war together.

Back in 1990, when Iraq invaded Kuwait, George Bush Senior put his foot in it by threatening never to take it lying down. He was forced to go to war, reluctantly. But his secretary of state James Baker made things worthwhile by bringing together a bunch of nations who were prepared to pick up the bills.

The Americans did the lion’s share of the fighting. And the others in the “coalition” paid the bills.

For example, Japan and Germany could definitely not take part in any fighting, given that the constitutions of both countries at the time did not allow them to participate in conflicts. But each gave $US9 billion to the effort. The US ended up with a profit of $US6 billion after collecting $US60 billion and spending $US54 billion.

That alone made the effort to bring the “coalition” together worthwhile.

The US also benefits through the sale of weapons. Practically all the countries which are part of the current “coalition” which has banded together to fight the Islamic State extremists use American weapons.

Presto, all the missiles which get used will have to be replaced. Factor in anything from $US50 million to $US650 million, depending on how sophisticated the missile is. The stocks of companies that are part of the US military industrial complex have soared ever since the conflict erupted and American patriots like Dick Cheney have been watching their bank accounts swell.