Monthly Archives: November 2016

The Dumb, Fucking Americans Who Gave The World Donald Trump!

Well, maybe not them. But their children!

Trump May Make The General From ‘Dr Strangelove’ His Defence Secretary

According to The New York Times, Donald Trump is considering making retired US Marine General James N Mattis, his Defence Secretary. The Times quotes Trump as saying of the General, who goes by the nickname ‘Mad Dog’ Mattis: “(He is) just a brilliant, wonderful man. What a career — we are going to see what happens, but he is the real deal.”

mattis

Mattis is known for his especially hawkish attitude towards Iran, advocating a tough military posture which, according to the Times, clashed with the views of President Obama and his security team. His voice at Trump’s cabinet table could mean the scrapping of the nuclear deal with Iran and the unraveling of the Middle East, if more unraveling were possible.

He commanded the US Marines during the invasion of Iraq and led the military onslaught against Falujah, rendering the city a slaughterhouse and decisively turning moderate Iraqi Sunni opinion against the Americans, which paved the way for the emergence of Al Qaeda in Iraq and arguably ISIS also.

 The following quotes from Mattis, taken from Business Insider, reveal views  that could easily have been expressed by General Buck Turgidson, the cynical, hawkish and quite mad military adviser to ‘President Merkin Muffley’, in Stanley Kubrick’s memorable but terrifying movie, Dr Strangelove’.

Here is a sample of ‘Mad Dog’ Mattis’ military philosophy. Soon, he may be the man in charge of the American military. Truly, America is becoming a lunatic asylum in which the inmates have taken charge.

“Be polite, be professional, but have a plan to kill everybody you meet.”

“You go into Afghanistan, you got guys who slap women around for five years because they didn’t wear a veil. You know, guys like that ain’t got no manhood left anyway. So it’s a hell of a lot of fun to shoot them. Actually it’s quite fun to fight them, you know. It’s a hell of a hoot. It’s fun to shoot some people. I’ll be right up there with you. I like brawling.”

“I come in peace. I didn’t bring artillery. But I’m pleading with you, with tears in my eyes: If you f* with me, I’ll kill you all.”

“The first time you blow someone away is not an insignificant event. That said, there are some *******s in the world that just need to be shot. There are hunters and there are victims. By your discipline, you will decide if you are a hunter or a victim.”

“We’ve backed off in good faith to try and give you a chance to straighten this problem out. But I am going to beg with you for a minute. I’m going to plead with you, do not cross us. Because if you do, the survivors will write about what we do here for 10,000 years.”

“There are some people who think you have to hate them in order to shoot them. I don’t think you do. It’s just business.”

“Marines don’t know how to spell the word defeat”

“Find the enemy that wants to end this experiment (in American democracy) and kill every one of them until they’re so sick of the killing that they leave us and our freedoms intact.”

“Fight with a happy heart.”

Memo To Foster & McGuinness: ‘Stay Home And Do Your Work’

In the wake of Donald Trump’s elevation to the White House, the First and Deputy First Ministers should stay at home in Belfast, get their act together and resist the temptations of Washington until then, writes Michael McDowell….

Greetings to Stormont from Washington, DC – now stay home and put your own house in order

 By Michael HC McDowell

Published 19/11/2016

Work to do: Deputy First Minister Martin McGuinness and First Minister Arlene Foster
Work to do: Deputy First Minister Martin McGuinness and First Minister Arlene Foster

Dear Arlene and Martin:

So, you have congratulated President-elect Donald Trump on his election. Very polite, but a bit pompous, indulging in hubris and inviting the sharp question he may ask: “Who on earth are these people? And why should I care about this little place off Scotland, somewhere?

Indeed.

My advice to The Donald – not that he would heed it, I suspect – is not to invite you to his new house, the White House, until you have fixed up your own ailing house in Northern Ireland.

Please stay at home and don’t bother junketing out here and begging for tickets to the inauguration in January and then buying the first-class, or business class, airline tickets for another time-wasting visit to Washington in March.

You need to stay at home and fix up the Fresh Start, as it was supposed to be, and not the Stale Start, it has turned out to be.

The ‘Opposition’ powers in the Assembly have turned out to be an utter joke, thanks to your two tribal parties excluding others from decisions, not just because they left the Executive (they weren’t consulted when they were in the Executive, anyway), but because of the DUP and Sinn Fein carve-up of power, not sharing power, which suits you both very nicely.

For years now, in fact for almost two decades, we have had the spectacle of Northern Ireland First Ministers, deputy First Ministers, ministers, MLAs, senior public servants, and assorted bag-carriers traipsing off to DC every St Patrick’s Day, but with precious little to show for it on their return.

In the days after the Good Friday Agreement back in 1998, and before, and for about five years afterwards, there was focus and definite purpose to these trips and likely pay-off. In recent years, no.

Let’s take the so-called trips to drum up the elusive “US investment, jobs back home, exports from NI”.

Declan Kelly, a one-time reporter for southern Irish weeklies and The Cork Examiner, who hit the jackpot out here as a wunderkind PR man, was appointed Secretary of State Hillary Clinton’s ‘economic envoy’ to Northern Ireland.

He won an office in the State Department, staff and produced, well, how many jobs? How much in investment? Export numbers?

No doubt Invest NI (an oxymoron, mostly) will tell us he did truly wondrous things. But he left within two years and he was doing other things, such as benefiting from the wonderful connection with the Clinton Foundation, Bill Clinton himself and the kudos that gave Mr Kelly and those at his company.

And then we have the well-staffed ‘Northern Ireland Bureau’, with splendid offices in DC and with an office in New York. Under the first Executive of David Trimble and Seamus Mallon and later Mark Durkan, this office – which I pushed to be set up in the late-1970s and early-1980s – no longer operates as a serious policy/communications virtual ’embassy’ for Northern Ireland.

It is, today, let’s face it, a truly wonderful high-end concierge and lodging and travel bureau, which arranges the very best hotels, hires shining stretch limousines to ferry our VIPs around DC and New York and books superb restaurants for these elected representatives. But what do we have to show for this large staff?

It’s time for the responsible Assembly committee to do a forensic audit of cost-and-benefit for these offices and also the other offices outside Northern Ireland, such as in Beijing.

Please stay at home and work on what, for me, is Issue Number One: integrated education.

The former First Minister, Peter Robinson, made a big speech years ago about what a difference the educating of girls and boys from the Catholic and Protestant communities together could make to a future Northern Ireland.

I liked that. And, then … nothing happened.

The DUP/Sinn Fein pantomime horse trotted out ‘shared education’, a pale, almost see-through imitation of the real thing. We still have only 7% of our schools integrated. Americans would be stunned and amazed that the taxpayer pays for Catholic and Protestant grammar schools.

And then we have the Assembly where you, Arlene, have pledged not even to have a vote on same-sex marriage, but have promised to use a Petition of Concern to block it. What are you afraid of? Democracy? And let’s be clear that Sinn Fein would do exactly the same if they wished. Fresh Start? Hardly.

Tell you what. Let me suggest how you could, legitimately, come back to DC on a future St Patrick’s Day (no, not 2017) and maybe at other times: when you, Arlene and Martin, have shown progress; joined-up government; given real teeth to A Shared Future, now toothless pabulum, and a boost to integrated education.

Sure, the perks of office are nice for your parties and for the too-numerous MLAs and their generous expenses. These jobs are nice earners – no question about it.

There was a time when the Northern Irish were famous for hard work and wanting value for money.

Not anymore, it seems.

Earn your back pay, Arlene and Martin, and I’ll be delighted to see you – even in the awful Donald Trump Republican Party-dominated USA. In the meantime, stay at home.

Yours,

Michael.

  • Michael HC McDowell is an international affairs consultant and former Northern Ireland journalist who has worked in Cambridge, Massachusetts, New York City, Toronto and Washington DC, where he has lived since 1988

Belfast Telegraph

The Lunacy And Lunatics In Trump’s Asylum

The list of Donald Trump’s cabinet picks gets closer to your worst ever nightmare with each day that passes.

Today’s choices were Alabama senator, Jeff Sessions, who is so racist that his own Republican colleagues in the US Senate refused to make him a judge but who now becomes Trump’s Attorney-General; the utterly terrifying Congressman Mike Pompeo, as head of the CIA, who is to the right of Attila the Hun on any issue you care to mention, from climate change to abortion rights and who is so far up the rear end of the Koch Brothers that he hasn’t seen sunlight in years; and retired Lt Gen Mike Flynn, sacked for incompetence as head of the Defence Intelligence Agency by Obama, who believes Islam is a political ideology not a religion; he becomes Trump’s National Security Adviser, so help me God! (Note to Sinn Fein – he is Irish-American, so get in there lads!)

Before that, the pick that has caused most consternation and dismay was of Steve Bannon, the former head of the white racist, alt.right web magazine Breitbart News, who was Trump’s campaign manager and now becomes his chief strategist and senior counsellor in the White House. Bannon is viewed by many as a neo-Nazi and anti-semite who also manages to be a staunch supporter of the right-wing Israeli Likud party. Under his leadership Breitbart established an office symbolically situated in Jerusalem, not Tel-Aviv.

And that’s all before jobs are found for the odious Rudy Giuliani, the horrifying John Bolton and, rumour has it, the uniquely alarming Ted Cruz. By the time Trump is finished the George W Bush/Dick Cheney administration will seem like a blissful day at the seaside!

Meanwhile the transition process from Obama’s White House to Trump’s has become a cross between a really bad soap opera and a reality show in which the director, camera operators and participants have all lost the script.

Have a look at this video and you’ll get an idea of the lunacy that has engulfed America since November 9th. And there are four more years of this to come.

The New York ‘Street’ Named By Gerry Adams Is Actually A Staircase!

This is how The Belfast Telegraph covered the story:
beltel

And this is how the local New York paper in the Queens’ district of Maspeth reported it:

adamsstreet2

It turns out that ‘Easter Rising Way’ consists of about a dozen or so steps linking one pavement to another, slightly higher one. The local paper, the Queens Ledger calls it a stairway or a municipal staircase.

Either way it ain’t exactly Fifth Avenue.

Pretty small potatoes for the Sinn Fein leader but perhaps appropriate given that following the shock defeat suffered by Hillary Clinton in the presidential election he and his party may find their political profile in Washington downsized as well.

And it will be interesting to see what sort of St Patrick’s Day celebrations the Trump people hold.

White America’s ‘Last Hurrah’ – A View Of The Trump Triumph From Ground Level

Northern Ireland native, Michael H C McDowell (no relation to the former Irish justice minister) canvassed for Hillary Clinton in Pennsylvania. There he encountered white male apathy, hostility to Hillary more because of her sex than her personal flaws, was encouraged by Hispanic anger at Trump and came away from the stump convinced he had witnessed White, Christian America’s swan song. Like nearly everyone else he had predicted a Clinton victory but believes Trump will have a rough ride in the White House.

I covered US elections, as a journalist, first from Canada, and then for nine years in Washington, D.C.

This time, I signed up for a campaign, but old reporting techniques weren’t so rusty, I discovered, as I spent six days intensively canvassing in Pennsylvania, a must-win “blue firewall” state for Hillary Clinton, and I took longer than some colleagues to speak with individual voters as I went door-to-door.

Full disclosure: I voted for Bernie Sanders, a social democrat like myself, but this was in D.C., which has only one House Member whose voting powers are very limited ,and which, unlike the 50 states, has no Senators. No-taxation-without-representation, do you say? Well the Republicans will never (?) allow us Washingtonians to have two full members of the upper chamber.

“I travelled to York, a city just over 90 minutes from DC near the Maryland border with Pennsylvania. And I saw, once more (I worked in ‘08 and ‘12 for Obama in East Central Virginia), that the Democratic Party ground operation was superbly staffed, with accurate research on tally sheets, GPS-focused precise addresses, detailed maps with routes highlighted, efficient clustering of voters and locations, and so on. We carried out multiple canvasses several times a day, with lots of people not just from from York, but Pennsylvania as a whole, and with help from individuals from DC, Maryland, Ohio, Illinois, you name it, young, old, more women than men, minorities.”

But I had a hunch something was missing, as I worked the region in and around York city – a rustbelt town, so successful even during the 1929 Depression, that its high-end manufacturing industries carried on, keeping workers at work. I covered poor African-American and Hispanic areas in the downtown, lower middle and middle class districts, suburbs and ex-urbs where lower middle class Hispanics and African-Americans had moved, and finally, mainly white middle class and upper middle class areas further out.

The weather was gloriously sunny and warm. But in six days I didn’t find a single Trump canvasser, and I kept looking.

This gave me false hope, especially for the attractive and smart and experienced woman Senate candidate, Pennsylvania native Katie McGinty, 53, from a skilled working class/lower middle class Irish Catholic family who I met a couple of times when she was a key White House aide working on environmental policy with Al Gore. McGinty had beaten a Democratic Congressman, a former admiral, in the primary, and looked set to edge out hard-right first-time Senator Pat Toomey, who refused, until an hour before the polls closed, to say if he was voting for Donald Trump. That move kept Trump voters on side with him.

So, apart from the missing Trump workers, what else was elusive? Well, I had a creepy feeling – no evidence, no real facts on the ground – that the white men I spoke to, and who were cagey about who they were voting for (I politely/gently asked), were going with The Donald. I falsely assumed too, that maybe a quarter of them, maybe more, would not vote at all, but sit on their sofas. Some of the wives would arrive at the door when I called and the women would often say they were voting for Hillary (but Hillary only got 47 per cent of the white women’s vote nationally).

The campaign of course knew that African-American voters would not come out in the same numbers as they did for Obama. But that was factored in. What fascinated me though, was seeing, on the ground, that Hispanic voters, were, this time around, determined to vote for Hillary Clinton and pick up any slack in the black vote. I found this inspiring in recent citizens. And I often spoke to them in Spanish.

Canvassing in several lower middle class but neat rental townhouse “estates” with heavily Hispanic tenants disproved an earlier theory. That is, that Hispanics may be a growing demographic in many states but historically had a low turnout in voting terms. This changed and was an encouraging finding for me. They were determined to vote and Trump’s nasty jibes about Mexicans being “rapists” and “violent criminals” had resonated with these higher achieving Hispanics. Same with lower middle class and middle class African-Americans.

Up to early Tuesday evening, Election Day, as I drove back to DC, I was pretty sure that, despite the FBI Director’s appalling 11th hour messing on the Clinton emails, Hillary Clinton would win by maybe 3-4 per cent. I, and almost everyone else, was wrong.
Clinton was a flawed candidate; she had been attacked for decades for corruption (unproven), being economical and lawyerly with the truth on multiple occasions (pretty true), and paranoid about privacy and believing the GOP were out to get her in all circumstances (correct). Her stump speeches were formulaic, packed with (too much) detail for the crowds. However she is intelligent, articulate, knows her stuff on almost everything, worked hard, and showed remarkable energy (not “low energy” as Trump nastily called her) and was a good debater and kept her cool consistently. She is an impressive human being and has a strong liberal record especially on protecting children.

But white men, working class (they don’t vote that much, frankly), lower middle class (they do vote) and even a decent fraction of educated middle to upper middle class men, clearly didn’t like her, and some hated her. I felt a real sense of resentment of her as a woman, not just as Bill Clinton’s wife, but as a Senator, and Secretary of State.

Trump, despite having no ground game to speak of – barring pretty nugatory Republican National Committee support – hit on a crafty personal strategy and it worked. The media gave him great free coverage and weren’t really critical of him and his past history until very late in the game. His nasty personal denigration of Clinton’s health, attacks on her being “corrupt”, despite no conviction and multiple investigations, his sound bite/Apprentice-like remarks, appealed to a particular choleric demographic.

However, I believe it is a demographic which is having its “last hurrah” – white “Christian” America. It is dying in numbers, as Hispanics and others rise (see The End of White Christian America by Robert Jones, Hillbilly Elegy by J.D, Vance, Strangers In Their Own Land by Arlie Russell Hochschild, and What’s the Matter With Kansas, by Thomas Frank, etc.). But this large grouping has a decade of more before it declines significantly. They came out big time for Trump. They loved the anti-establishment shtick of Trump and ignored this man actually from the establishment, with inherited wealth, multiple bankruptcies, stiffing of his workers, etc.

They are people who live in the middle and the South, between the coasts. They come from one-time major industrial/manufacturing, rural small towns and agricultural areas. NAFTA lifted many boats, increased exports, and produced many more jobs. But not for them, and it hollowed out many of the places where they worked. Yes, a generalization. Could they have been reeducated/retrained to take other jobs? Maybe, maybe not. It wasn’t done, and perhaps can’t be done. Automation also drove down labour forces in manufacturing in huge numbers and union numbers plummeted. Progress?

And what about the blatant hypocrisy of the conservative evangelicals? These “value voters” chose to ignore Trump’s sexual-predator accusers, his three divorces, foul language on women, and serial boastful philandering in his first two marriages. This group too is declining. The Religious Right is diminished – but it is not quite gone just yet.

Where else did Clinton lose — and Trump win? Clinton got 10 per cent less of the Roman Catholic vote. Women voted their party of choice, not on gender. Clinton also lost votes among millennials, who Obama (and Bernie) had energized. Trump was the “change” candidate, like Obama had been in 08, and much of the electorate, predominantly white, wanted to shake up the system. Clinton was the status quo. Venting trumped (pun, deliberate) sober second thought.

Clinton didn’t have a clear message (“I’m With Her,” was an innane slogan), and funnily enough I generally didn’t have to defend that at the doors, which had worried me. Her detractors voted with their hearts/emotions, not their heads.

Anger was of course palpable among the Trump crowds and he thrived on stoking it up. Many Trump voters are hankering back to the past, to a predominantly white America, which is frightened of “foreigners”/immigrants, the “other” (blacks, black president), Wall Street elites who are dominant in either party. These people sense a “precarious belonging”; it is not just that many of the working class are unemployed; where they live, there is NO work; work gives people meaning; they rightly sense that most politicians have, Democrat and Republican, left them behind.

Believing in Trump’s absurd promises of producing jobs on a massive scale in the coal mines, in steel plants, factories, etc., is sad indeed.
Remember that Clinton, not Trump, WON the popular vote but not the arcane Electoral College. Obama won both, twice. Remember too that the majority of legislatures are Republican now and they mostly set Congressional district boundaries and happily gerrymander them. Those GOP legislators deliberately made it difficult for the poor to actually vote. Voter “fraud” is virtually non-existent but this was pushed not only by Trump, but the GOP. The number of polling places was also deliberately reduced to suppress turnout and only 35 per cent of “eligible voters” actually cast a ballot in this election. This was reminiscent of the Jim Crow era of many decades ago.

SO, TO QUOTE LENIN: WHAT IS TO BE DONE?
Well, chill out Dems. The Donald and the GOP need 60 (not 50) votes in the Senate to pass major legislation and confirm nominees to the Supreme Court, Cabinet appointees, posts including Assistant Secretaries and above, and appeal court federal judges. So, when it is not in the interests of the overall majority of the country, then stymie the votes! The GOP did this to Obama regularly and he, unlike Trump, as I said, won the popular vote and the Electoral College, twice in a row. There is also the filibuster, which the GOP used more than any Congress in history. What comes around goes around. The midterm elections are now less than two years away.

Trump’s massive tax cuts for the wealthy will be done well before then, probably, the deficit will explode. It will explode further with his planned new spending on the military and infrastructure. Then there will be the dangerous sucking up to Putin and China, plus possible trade wars with China and others, and this is likely to drive down the dollar, increase inflation, slow growth to negative numbers, and, one assumes or hopes, that the Trump voters when they look in vain for all these great new decent paying jobs will find there aren’t any.

Patience! Organise, and mobilise!

Will Gerry Adams’ Security Clearance In U.S. Be Unchanged Under Trump?

As we learned last St Patrick’s Day in Washington, the Sinn Fein President Gerry Adams still sets security alarm bells ringing in America despite his perceived role in the US as the architect of Irish peace process and the winding down of the IRA.

On that occasion security staff denied him entry to a reception hosted by President Barack Obama in the White House for so long that in exasperation he stalked angrily off, missing the opportunity to mix with Washington’s political elite.

How and why that happened was something of a mystery but now Gerry Adams himself has cast some revealing light on the matter.

An article in the web magazine, Journal.ie, about Gerry Adams’ reaction to the election of Donald Trump included a photograph, apparently supplied by the SF leader himself, of his Aer Lingus ticket for a journey to New York that he made this week. Adams has been invited to Queens in NYC to preside over the renaming of an alleyway after the 1916 Easter Rising.

The photograph (see below) shows the letters ‘SSSS’ circled and a comment below on Adams’ Twitter feed which reads: ‘The dreaded SSSS. RG (Adams’ term for his press aide and bag-carrier Richard McAuley) sez the Presidential election wudda sorted all that.’

adams_ssss-2

So what does ‘SSSS’ stand for and what did Adams mean by saying the Presidential election ‘wudda sorted all that’?

Well ‘SSSS’ stands for Secondary Security Screening Selection (see below for fuller explanation) and it seems from Adams’ evident exasperation that a) this is a regular occurrence and b) he might have been hoping that a Hillary Clinton White House would finally remove this cross that he has had to bear.

It is hard not to conclude that Gerry Adams is still regarded by the US security apparatus as a person who poses some sort of threat and therefore should be regularly double checked on entry to the States.

We shall see on March 17th in Washington when, thanks to a phone call from Enda Kenny to Donald Trump this week, we know a St Patrick’s Day celebration will be held.

Here is what Wikipedia has to say about ‘SSSS’:

ssss