Monthly Archives: October 2017


One Photo You Thought You’d Never See…….

Does The Catalan Independence Movement Have An Armed Wing?

An obvious question that I have not seen addressed much less answered. The declaration of independence by the regional parliament will undoubtedly bring a robust response from Madrid. Spain will attempt to put down the independence movement and, as the police behaviour during the referendum demonstrated, will likely not hesitate to use violence. Are the Catalans ready or prepared for that? Or will the Catalans move persuade Madrid to seek a negotiated settlement? And if not………?

Is Jeremy Corbyn About To Move To The Right?

This post is entirely speculative but it is based on a mysterious event: the effective closure of the web blog devoted to propagating the left-wing politics that most people associate with Jeremy Corbyn’s leadership of the British Labour Party.

The blog is called Left Futures and it was founded by Jon Lansman, a long time Labour party activist who ran Tony Benn’s unsuccessful bid for the party’s deputy leadership in 1981, against Denis Healey, and the 1988 bid for party leader against Neil Kinnock, which was also lost.

Jon Lansman – left wing website has gone mysteriously quiet

In 2015, Lansman backed Jeremy Corbyn in the Labour leadership race and in the wake of Corbyn’s unexpected victory he founded the Momentum group, a grassroots, left-wing activist movement which later was officially allied to the Labour party. Momentum is estimated by some to have over 30,000 members and is strongly pro-Corbyn and anti-Blairite.

As founder, Lansman owns all the Momentum data, i.e. details of its membership, which places him in a unique position of influence vis-a-vis the Corbynite left.

Lansman also founded the Left Futures website as a forum for debate on the Labour left. The website’s self-description reads:

Left Futures is an independent on-line network which seeks to bring to the web the best writing and the sharpest criticism on the Left, and open debate about shaping the future. It is committed to socialism, sustainability, internationalism and democracy.

However the site appears to have stopped operating. The last post was on October 1st, over three weeks ago.

Suspicious minds have suggested to that this may be a sign of an impending rightward shift in Corbyn’s political journey, as the prospect of Downing Street looms ever closer.

With Theresa May’s leadership of the Conservative Party in increasing flux and another general election not unlikely in the foreseeable future a shift to the right – which would of course be called a shift to the centre – by Corbyn would be in a long, if less than proud Labour party tradition.

Closing down, or at least silencing Left Futures would not be inconsistent with that.

Time will tell.

Tom Oliver: That Miriam O’Callaghan Interview With Gerry Adams

The relevant part begins at 10:30 minutes in:

Startling New Pics Of Donald Trump

Many thanks to MV for sending these to me:

Trump’s Tax Cuts – Lies, Lies And More Lies……

Few people know as much or have written as much about Donald Trump’s seamy side than David Cay Johnston, a former business reporter with The New York Times. In this article for DC Report, Johnston examines Trump’s so-called middle class tax plan and finds the President’s claim that his proposed tax cuts and reforms will benefit ordinary Americans more than a little deficient in the truth department. The people who will mostly gain are rich people just like Trump and his family. Surprised? You shouldn’t be.

(Note to Irish readers: For historical and political reasons [i.e. anti-Communist paranoia], the US media tends to describe anyone with a job as ‘middle class’, whereas in Europe most would be called ‘working class’. More subtle distinctions common in Europe, such ‘upper working class’, ‘lower middle class’, ‘upper middle class’ and so on hardly exist here)


Why Is This Man Smiling?
Because You Are Writing Him a YYUUGGE Tax-Refund Check

By David Cay Johnston, DCReport Editor-in-Chief

Here’s the Trump “middle class” tax-cut plan in a nutshell: two-thirds of the tax savings will go to the top 1%.

Trump and his surrogates say they intend to pass a middle-class tax cut this fall. Trump says he won’t be better off because of his tax plan. At times says he will be worse off.

Nonsense. Pure nonsense.

Based on public statements by Trump, his surrogates and top Republican tax writers on Capitol Hill what is coming is a tax-cut plan for billionaires. The Trump tax plan focuses on cutting the taxes of those who are self-employed or who own businesses while sticking it to wage and salary workers, even those earning quite generous salaries.

The annual tax savings alone for the 1% will be greater than the incomes earned by about 70% of Americans.

But what else should we expect from Trump and his cadre of rich pals? Trump ran for office promising to “drain the swamp” in Washington. He said that for too long the rich and powerful have been taking care of themselves. He promised to be the champion of the forgotten men and women of America. But like almost everything else, none of what he promised has translated into policy. Rather, we have seen the opposite.

The estimate that the 1% get two-thirds of the tax savings comes from an organization with a long history of reliability with its budget and tax numbers, the Institute on Taxation and Economic Policy (ITEP). It’s been around since 1980.

For more than two decades that I have studied its reports, subsequent events have shown the institute’s numbers to be rock solid. Indeed, tax policy wonks who work for the right-wing Heritage Foundation and the libertarian Cato Institute have said that while they disagree with how ITEP and its affiliate, Citizens for Tax Justice, interpret the numbers, the numbers themselves are always solid and reliable.

The figures in ITEP’s analysis of the Trump/GOP tax plan are disturbing in the way the plan shovels money at the already rich and tosses crumbs to everyone else. The estimates are based on public statements by Trump, his surrogates and Congressional Republicans.

To figure out how the tax cuts would be distributed, the institute divided the populace into fifths and then broke down the top fifth into 15%, then 4% and then the 1% at the apex of the economy. This is a standard technique in creating what are known as distribution tables.

The middle fifth—the very definition of the middle class—is expected to make $45,000 to $66,000 next year. People in this group will save on average $410 on income taxes, less than one cent out of every dollar earned.

The next fifth, those making $66,000 to $111,000, is in the same under-a-penny crowd. People here can expect to save about $530 each, while the next 15%, those standing on the 81st through 95th steps on the income ladder, will not do even that well. They stand to save just $180 each.

Even those on the 96th through 99th rungs, making $250,000 to $616,000, won’t quite break through the one-cent barrier, saving $3,510 on average.

If you’re at the top of the heap, among the favored 1% who make more than $616,000 a year, you are in for a bonanza. You and your friends—whose incomes average $2.1 million but can run up to the hundreds of millions of dollars—can expect to save an average of more than $90,000, about 4.2 cents for every dollar.

But even within the 1%, the higher into the income stratosphere you go, the greater your tax savings. Trump, who has made more than $100 million some years, will see his tax rate on most income fall from 39.6% to 25%. That’s a tax cut of 14.6 cents on each dollar, $14.6 million.

That’s $14.6 million a year that will not go to providing healthcare to millions of people, upgrade the nation’s nuclear arsenal, pay for soldiers’ funerals, rebuild Puerto Rico, better predict hurricanes, protect endangered species, build a border wall or even cover the Secret Service tab at Mar-a-Lago.

While Trump and his family enjoy big tax savings, the institute estimates that one family in five will pay higher taxes. Separately, Lily Batchelder, a New York University professor of tax law, has estimated that about one in six families will pay more.

Most of those paying more have families with three or more children. Trump plans to take away the exemption parents get for each dependent child. The way they plan to do it, the more children in a family the more they will be hurt, a curious policy for a president with five children by three women.

Trump’s America (cont’d)

October 23, 2017
By Joe Kloc

US president Donald Trump, who once said that “disabled veterans” were “clogging and seriously downgrading” Fifth Avenue and that veterans selling goods on the “most important and prestigious shopping street” would make the “image” of New York City “suffer” if the “deplorable situation” wasn’t stopped, called the widow of La David Johnson, a Green Beret killed in action in Niger, and reportedly told her that her husband “knew what he signed up for” but that it “hurts anyway”; Trump tweeted that he had “proof” that Florida congresswoman Frederica Wilson, who had recounted the details of the call, had “totally fabricated” his words, but did not specify what his proof was; Trump’s chief of staff defended the president by holding a press conference in which he said that journalists should watch a “very, very good” movie about a soldier he served with who was killed in action, that it was “not the case anymore” that women were “looked upon with great honor,” and that Wilson was an “empty barrel” who had lied about obtaining $20 million in funding from the federal government for an FBI building in her district; a video surfaced showing that Wilson, who was not serving in Congress at the time the money was granted, had not lied about securing the funding but had been involved in naming the building after two slain agents of the FBI, an agency that Trump accused of paying for opposition research against him; Johnson’s widow told journalists that Wilson’s account of her call with Trump was “one hundred percent correct” and that what “hurt me most” about the conversation was that Trump initially couldn’t remember her husband’s name, which she said made her “very, very upset”; and Trump tweeted that he had not forgotten Johnson’s name. “I had a very respectful conversation” tweeted Trump, who has said that he likes soldiers that “weren’t captured,” that the mother of a US soldier killed in action did not speak about her son’s death because she was a Muslim, that a captured US soldier returned to the country after five years in a Taliban prison should be executed, that “strong” veterans don’t get PTSD, that although the US military buys Viagra for male soldiers it should not pay for the medical treatment of transgender service members, that he couldn’t recall which of his feet had the bone spur that allowed him to avoid being drafted for the Vietnam War for the fifth time, and that his “personal Vietnam” was having sex with women in the 1990s without contracting a sexually transmitted disease.

Guess Who?

Free lifetime subscription to The Broken Elbow to the first person to correctly guess this person’s identity:

‘No More Catholics!’ – Trainspotting Two Hits A High Note

I loved the first Trainspotting movie and Trainspotting 2 came very close. I watched it, en familie, in a movie house in posh Westchester County, of all places and nearly laughed my leg off (which I can assure you is not easy for me to do).

Here is my favourite scene. The background is that the characters played by Ewan McGregor and Johnny Lee Millar have stumbled into a Glasgow Rangers supporters club intending to pickpocket as many credit cards as they can. Challenged by a suspicious Loyalist they must sing a song to prove their credentials. Enjoy:

A Memory From The 1986 Sinn Fein Ard-Fheis

Every dog has its day, goes the old saw. I see that Malachi O’Doherty has become the go to guy about all things Provo in the wake of his biography of Gerry Adams (which I must admit I have only leafed through, mostly the index pages which often tell you all you need to know).

He has a piece in the Belfast Telegraph this week about Gerry Adams denying that bullying exists in Sinn Fein, which is odd – the denial I mean – since bullying, i.e. the use or threat of physical violence has always been the Provos’ stock-in-trade.

Anyway it was this paragraph which really caught my eye:

Sinn Fein was for decades an adjunct of the IRA. This was illustrated clearly on several occasions. In 1985, when Gerry Adams urged the ard fheis to vote in favour of the party fighting elections in the Republic, he told delegates that they had little choice, for the IRA had already met and made its own decision to support the move. And they didn’t want to be disloyal, did they?

Actually the ard-fheis which dropped abstentionism in the South happened in 1986 not 1985, November 1st if my memory is right. And the path to taking seats in Dail Eireann was a much more complicated and protracted process than Malachi makes it out; likewise the role played by the IRA was not as straightforward as his reporting of Adams’ speech suggests.

The renunciation of abstentionism happened in a series of carefully choreographed stages overseen by Adams’ closest adviser, Ted Howell that lasted four years or more. It was done carefully and slowly because it was a very dangerous exercise for the Adams’ camp, leaving them open to charges of treachery and heresy.

It began at the 1983 ard-fheis, just two years after Sinn Fein had embraced electoralism, when an important ideological embargo of sorts was broken. A motion was passed allowing discussion of the issue, hitherto forbidden territory. But then nothing happened for two years, allowing the grassroots to get used to the idea and for discrete lobbying to take place.

In 1985 a motion to allow Sinn Fein TD’s to take seats in Dail Eireann was proposed from the floor but defeated. The leadership did not back it and Adams did not speak. But you can be sure that his and their hands were at work in the background.

The 1985 motion was a toe in the water, so to speak, which enabled Adams and  Howell to measure, identify and gauge the opposition to a move they clearly supported, and to plan accordingly.

By the following autumn they were ready to move. Fake Sinn Fein cumainn, under IRA control, had been created in sufficient numbers to swamp the O Bradaigh-ite opposition at a special ard-fheis called to debate the issue. A militant speech from Martin McGuinness settled the matter, since in the view of most activists he would never sell out, no matter the doubts they might harbour about the Big Lad.

By the early evening of November 1st, 1986, militant republican abstentionism, a key aspect of the rejection of the 1921 partitionist settlement in Ireland was a thing of the past, and a way opened towards taking the Provo grassroots into the peace process.

A critical element in the story was the disposition of the IRA. Whichever way the army voted, so would Sinn Fein.

In the autumn of 1986 I had left The Irish Times in circumstances which still leave a bad taste in the mouth. But I hadn’t quit journalism; far from it.

The weekend before the special Sinn Fein ard-fheis I had spent in Donegal with my family and there I met up with an old republican contact cum friend who told me that a special IRA Army Convention had been held recently and had endorsed the dropping of abstentionism. That was a big story and not a whiff of it had leaked – so far.

At this point a bit of background is necessary. During the 1981 hunger strikes I had fallen out badly with the Sinn Fein publicity machine. I had come to believe that it was not to be trusted, that it had traded in half-truths and outright lies sufficiently often during the protest that it was impossible to distinguish fabrications from honesty. I am not saying they lied all the time, just often enough to make me wary.

In the face of my reservations, Danny Morrison had assured me that he would not misinform or lie to me and then immediately did (over the ending of the hunger strike). Ever since I had tried to be as circumspect in my dealings with him and his team as it was possible to be. Morrison later apologised for misleading me and assured me it would not happen again; but I was on guard.

But what to do about this story? It was a big one, for sure. There had not been an IRA convention since the foundation of the Provos in the winter of 1969. And this one was truly historic, since the convention had now accepted a doctrine – they had called it a heresy seventeen years earlier – whose rejection had contributed to the Provos’ formation.

I thought I really needed to have high level confirmation of this story and so I picked up the phone, rang Sinn Fein and said I had an urgent matter to discuss with Gerry Adams and could he possibly meet me?

An hour later I was driving over to west Belfast, to the Sinn Fein advice centre in Beechmount Avenue. I met Adams in his office, just the two of us, and told him the reason for my trip. He didn’t answer but immediately rose from his chair and stalked out of the room.

An hour later, back home, my fax machine began to buzz and whir. It was a press release from Sinn Fein announcing that a special IRA Convention held recently had endorsed the removal of abstentionism from Sinn Fein’s political theology.

I have no idea how or when the Provo leadership would have announced this but for my intervention. Perhaps a masked man would have delivered the news to delegates during a closed session of the special ard-fheis. Maybe Adams would have announced it in his speech; or better still Martin McGuinness. Whatever, I had thrown their plans into disarray.

And the moral of the story? If you believe your sources and they have proved trustworthy in the past then go for it. Go higher for confirmation and you’ll likely be screwed. Suffice it to say that I never made the same mistake again.