Archive for the ‘Creepy stuff’ Category

Michael Wolff, Fire and fury: inside the Trump White House, Little, Brown 2018, pp336, retailing for $NZ34 at  The Warehouse and just over $2o from the Book Depository (free delivery); reviewed by Paul Demarty

The appearance of Michael Wolff’s extraordinary account of Donald Trump’s presidency has already become the pre-eminent succès de scandale of 21st century letters thus far.

The White House response has been trenchant and hysterical, with the president denouncing it as a complete fiction, and the latest in what the book reminds us is a long line of press secretaries reinforcing the condemnation. Legal action is threatened against Wolff, publisher Henry Holt and – not uninterestingly – Trump’s former chief strategist, Steve Bannon. It is surely more than mere gratitude that led Wolff to thank in his acknowledgements, pointedly, the libel lawyer he hired to give Fire and fury a once-over. The truth is that Trump has blundered directly into what is now called the ‘Streisand effect’, whereby attempts to suppress some item cause it to spread more rapidly among outraged enemies.1 Even British readers, whose much trumpeted national veneration of liberty reaches no further than the door of the libel courtroom, will benefit from the samizdat PDFs circulating online once Trump’s legal team cast an eye over the Atlantic in pursuit of a cheap victory.

Peculiar

What we find, in whatever format, is a very peculiar book, albeit compulsively readable, droll and frankly horrifying. The sourcing of various anecdotes in here is a particular problem, to which we shall return; certainly, there is a great deal of eyebrow-raising material, which will be confirmed or refuted in the coming months and years. If even a third of it is true, however, Americans are living through some of the most preposterous events in modern political history. Certainly, those looking for evidence that Trump is not what he often appears to be in the presentation of his hated enemies in the media – a narcissistic, vindictive man-child, a demonic cross between King Joffrey of Game of Thrones and (more…)

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Marikana massacre of workers carried out by ANC government, August 16, 2012; the single most number killed by any Slouth African government in a single action since the 1960 apartheid regime massacre of black civil rights protesters at Sharpeville

Billionaire Cyril Ramaphosa has been made president of the ANC, although Jacob Zuma will continue as president of the country.

Ramaphosa says the ANC will spend 2018 reconnecting with the people and making up for its mistakes.

The idea of this super-rich capitalist reconnecting with the masses is a hoot.  Ramaphosa, who supported the massacring of mine workers just a couple of years ago, leveraged his time as a militant trade union leader to get into business and epitomises everything that went wrong with the ANC in the first place. 

by Peter Manson

Readers will know that president Jacob Zuma was replaced by Cyril Ramaphosa as leader of the African National Congress at the ANC’s elective conference in December.

Zuma will remain South African head of state, however, until a new president is elected by the national assembly following the 2019 general election – unless, of course, action is taken by the ANC and parliament to remove him earlier, which is a distinct possibility.

Just before the elective conference, commentator Peter Bruce pleaded to ANC delegates:

The fact is that policy uncertainty is crippling foreign investment … And try not to think of foreign investors as fat, white capitalists smoking cigars in a club somewhere and deciding which ideological friends to finance … They’re investing the savings and pensions of people like you … They need a return on those people’s money, just like you need a return on yours.1

Corruption

Such commentators wanted Zuma out – and were equally opposed to his replacement as ANC president by his former wife, Nkosazana Dlamini-Zuma, who was seen as a mere continuation of the current corrupt regime. Zuma not only stands accused of using state funds to upgrade his private residence, and of allowing the Gupta family to exert huge influence over government appointments – so-called ‘state capture’ – but he still has no fewer than 783 charges of corruption, fraud and money-laundering hanging over him. These are connected to the multi-billion-dollar arms deal finalised in 1999 just after Zuma became deputy president. His financial advisor at the time, Schabir Shaik, was jailed in 2005 for facilitating those bribes and, while Zuma faced charges too, they were conveniently dropped just after he became president in 2009.

During the pre-conference campaign Ramaphosa repeatedly insisted that all those implicated in ‘state capture’ and corruption must be (more…)

Epitomising sanctimonious bourgeois respectability

by Phil Duncan

Labour is, politically, a respectable bourgeois party.

Sociologically, it is peopled largely by respectable liberal middle class people.  Just take a look at the backgrounds of Labour MPs, the party’s top managers and new folks on the Labour party list for September.

They are overwhelmingly people who are thoroughly removed from the reality of poverty and people struggling to make ends meet.

They want all the poor people – people struggling to survive on the smell of an oily rag – to be respectably bourgeois like themselves. Such well-behaved poor people can then be grateful supplicants, looked after by the patronising Labour do-gooders.

And poor people who help themselves – like to a few extra bucks to feed their kids, as Metiria Turei did – are to be roundly condemned by respectable bourgeois like Jacinda Ardern and her idiot fan club.

Reminds me of the (more…)

by Socialist Democracy

The announcement by an Irish government minister that “significant quantities” of human remains had been discovered at the site of a former mother and baby home in Tuam, County Galway has brought official confirmation to claims about the disposal of the bodies of babies and very young children who had died there during the almost forty year period it was in operation. Even to a public who have become accustomed to revelations of abuses perpetuated in Church run institutions the treatment of the women and children in the Tuam home were truly shocking.

These mother and baby homes were places where unmarried pregnant women were sent to give birth. After birth their babies were then taken from them and raised in a separate part of the home by nuns. These children were later given up for adoption, often without the consent of their mothers. The women remained in the home for a year, working unpaid hours to reimburse the nuns for their “services”. This was the standard practice – not just at Tuam – but across all ten of these type of institutions that existed within the state. It is estimated that 35,000 unmarried pregnant women passed through these homes.

Informed by a warped religious dogma that deemed the sexual activity of females outside of marriage to be a sin, these homes were designed as places of punishment rather than care. This punishment came not only upon the women but also their children who were seen as the products of sin and therefore less than human. While forced separation and adoption is shocking even more shocking is the very high death rate of children born into these homes that meant that most never left alive.

At least 6,000 children died in mother and baby homes throughout Ireland. For many the end was an unmarked burial plot within the grounds – their remains disposed of with those of numerous others in what can rightly be described as mass graves. For others even death didn’t end the exploitation with hundreds of bodies being sent from the homes to Irish medical colleges. These deaths cannot be accounted for solely by the poverty of that time but rather by the conscious neglect and cruelty that women and their children were subjected to.

Investigations

It was claims about the nature of the disposal of the remains of almost 800 children at Tuam – that they were dumped in part of the sewage works – that (more…)

by The Spark

“You’ve got a special counsel who has prosecutorial powers now…. Public access to this is probably going to be very limited now. It’s really going to limit what the public will know about this.” So said Republican Senator Lindsey Graham, responding to the appointment of a special prosecutor to investigate whether Donald Trump or his administration has broken the law.

We can be sure that the Republican Party would like in Graham’s own words – “to limit what the public will know about this.” But most Democrats are also calling for “patience,” and to “let the investigation take its course.”

Taking its course means taking its (more…)

Price of Raytheon shares. Notice the big spike immediately following the missile attack. Source: New York Stock Exchange

by Phil Duncan

The US strike against targets in Syria seems like a slap with a wet bus ticket – it appears the US administration felt it had to do something in response to the use of chemical weapons by the regime again, but not too much.  While the strike will hardly frighten the Russians or Assad, it has been a nice little earner for weapons manufacturer Raytheon.

Raytheon, you see, makes the Tomahawk missiles.

And Trump had shares in Raytheon, (more…)