Posts Tagged ‘Sarah Palin’

Torygraph Journo’s Book on Interstellar Travel Through Artificial Black Holes

August 10, 2017

The Iron Sun: Crossing the Universe through Black Holes, Adrian Berry (London: Jonathan Cape 1977).

No, not the Iron Sky, which was a Finnish Science Fiction film that came out a few years ago, in which the Nazis secretly colonized the Moon, and fight an interplanetary war with an America governed by a female president, who bears a certain similarity to Sarah Palin. This is the Iron Sun, a book in which Telegraph journalist Adrian Berry explains his theory that it should be possible to explore space using artificial Black Holes to travel faster than light. Berry was a Fellow of the Royal Astronomical Society, a Senior Member of the British Interplanetary Society, and a member of the National Space Institute of America. According to the potted biography on the back flap of the dust jacket, he also covered two of the Moon Landings from Cape Kennedy and Houston. Along with this book, he also wrote The Next Ten Thousand Years and The Great Leap.

The latter book was published in the 1990s, and is also about interstellar travel and exploration. It’s a good book, though marred by Berry’s Libertarian politics. Towards the end of the book, he devotes an entire chapter to argue for Von Hayek’s daft and destructive economic ideas. So did a number of other space and extreme technology groups at the time. The transhumanists, the crazy people, who want to transform themselves into cyborgs, explore the Galaxy, and ultimately achieve immortality by uploading themselves into computers, were also very much into Von Hayek and Libertarianism. I have a feeling that this has gone by the way now. A friend of mine, who was also into it, told me a year or so ago that the Austrian economist is rather passe now. One of the leaders of the movement has said that Hayekian economics was just something they were into at the time, and they’re now distancing themselves from him, so that his ideas aren’t synonymous with the movement as a whole.

In this book, after taking the reader through Einstein’s Theory of Relativity and explaining what Black Holes are, Berry then advances his book’s central idea. This is that humanity will be able to use a fleet of automated Buzzard ramjets as cosmic bulldozers to create an artificial Black Hole of a particular size one light year from Earth. The Buzzard ramjet was a type of spaceship devised in the 1970s. Instead of taking its fuel with it into space, like conventional rockets and spacecraft, the ramjet would scoop up the necessary hydrogen for its nuclear fusion engines from the surrounding interstellar medium, in the same way that a high-performance ram jet sucks in the air it needs to reach supersonic velocities from the Earth’s atmosphere. It was an immensely popular idea amongst space scientists, SF fans and advocates of the human colonization of space, as it appeared a practical way of creating a spacecraft that could reach the very high speeds approaching that of light needed to cross space to the nearest stars within a few years, or tens of years, rather than centuries and millennia.

Berry believed that strong electromagnetic fields could be used to collect and push the necessary hydrogen atom ahead of the spacecraft. Once in place, the hydrogen and other gaseous material would be forced together into a single mass, until it was so large that it collapsed under its own gravity, forming a Black Hole.

It was Carl Sagan, who first suggested the possibility of using Black Holes as cosmic subways to travel across the universe faster than the speed of light. Einstein, Rosen and other scientists hypothesized that the gravity inside Black Holes was so massive, that not only did it crush matter out of existence, but it also created a wormhole through space and time to, well, elsewhere. An object, including a spaceship, could enter a Black Hole to travel through the wormhole, to exit from a White Hole somewhere else in the universe, or even in a different universe altogether.

The Black Hole would be built a light year away, as this would be a safe but accessible distance. The construction ships would be automated as they would not be able to pull back once construction of the Black Hole was underway, and would be allowed to fall into it.

Berry admits there is one problem with his scheme: no-one knows how far away, nor in what direction, the resulting wormhole would extend. He therefore argues that the first astronauts to use the new wormhole would also have their own fleet of construction vessels, in order to build another Black Hole at their destination, which would create the White Hole needed for them to return to the Solar System. The process would take about forty years.

He explains the details of his proposal in a fictitious interview. There’s also an epilogue, and three appendices, in which he gives further information on Black Holes, including the navigable apertures created by Black Holes of varying sizes.

It says something for the optimism about the future of spaceflight in the 1970s that Berry considers that we should have the capability to do all this sometime around 2050. The 1970s were the decade when it seemed almost anything was possible after the Moon Landings, and astronomers and writers like Sir Patrick Moore seriously predicted that by now we’d have bases and colonies on the Moon and Mars, holidays in space, orbital habitats at the L5 points, as suggested by Gerald O’Neill, and would be gradually expanding into the rest of the Solar System.

If only that had happened!

Despite the formation of public groups, like the Mars Society and the Space Frontier Foundation, for the colonization of space, humans so far seem stuck in Low Earth Orbit. There have been plans over the past few years for crewed missions to return to the Moon, and to Mars, but these haven’t materialized. NASA is planning an expedition to the Red Planet in the 2030s, but I’m really not confident about that every happening. And if it’s a struggle for us to get to Mars, sixty or seventy years after the Moon Landings, it’s going to be impossible for us to build a Black Hole.

Part of the problem is the difficulty of building a viable Buzzard ramjet. After the idea was proposed, someone worked out that the interstellar medium was so rarified that the vehicle would need a ramscoop 3,000 miles long to collect all the gas it would need. I’m not sure if this makes it completely impossible – after all, firms like the Hanson Trust back in the 1980s tried selling themselves to the general public with commercials telling the world that they made enough plastic chairs to go round the Earth so many times. And it might be possible to develop superlight materials for the scoop so that it would not be impossibly heavy. Such a material would similar to the mylar suggested for the solar sails for the Starwisp mission. This is a suggested mission to send a 50 kilo instrument package to Alpha Centauri in a journey lasting thirty years or so. And the construction of a space elevator, which would have to be of a light material strong enough to take the weight of cable cars and carry them tens of thousands of mile into space out of the Earth’s gravity well seems to me to present even greater problems. But even if a ramscoop of that size isn’t impossible, it would be very, very difficult and extremely expensive.

Not all scientists are convinced that it should be possible to use wormholes in this manner anyway. Philip’s Astronomy Encyclopedia state that one particular type of Black Hole, rotating Kerr Black Holes, which don’t have the singularity that eventually destroys all the matter passing through it, ‘have fascinating implications for hypothetical space travel to other universes’. (‘Black Holes, p. 57). However, the entry for ‘Wormholes’ states that, although they’re predicted by Einstein, ‘such wormholes cannot exist in reality, since the occurrence of white holes is forbidden by the second law of thermodynamics.’ (p. 440). On the other hand, Russian physicists have shown that it’s possible to create a wormhole a few light years in extent, though this would take more energy than is currently available in the universe.

I hope that it may one day be possible to construct such wormhole subway routes through the cosmos, as suggested by Sagan. I also wonder if the book may also have influenced comic writer Pat Mills in the creation of the Black Hole and White Hole bypasses for Termight – Earth thousands of years in the future – in the Nemesis the Warlock Strip in 2000 AD. This was an artificial Black Hole and its White Hole counterpart, constructed by Earth’s engineers to provide instantaneous access to space. ‘Nemesis the Warlock’ appeared about 1979, and while it’s definitely Science Fantasy, Mills actually did some reading in science as research for the comic. He said in an interview nearly four decades ago that he shocked the comic’s management because he bought a whole stack of books on science and then invoiced the comic company for them as research. He was annoyed that the attitude to comics at the time was so low, that the idea of doing basic research for them was looked upon with horror. Ah, how things changed after Frank Bellamy and ‘Dan Dare’. Bellamy’s studio for Britain’s greatest space hero, with the exception of Judge Dredd, included a model maker and researchers. Unfortunately, this was all cut away as an unnecessary expense when the Eagle changed hands. Sales had fallen, and the comic was then making a loss. Hence the decision to cut down the number of staff in the studio. But it does show the initial commitment to quality of strip’s creators, and Dare and Bellamy’s superb artwork are still admired as one of the greatest pieces of British comic art and literature.

The Euthanasia of the Elderly in Stephen Baxter’s ‘Titan’

July 18, 2017

A few days ago I put up a post about the nightmare, alternative future described by the British SF novelist Stephen Baxter in his novel, Titan. Baxter’s a writer of hard SF, a subgenre in which the fiction is nevertheless grounded in solid, known science fact, though often with an element of artistic license. Titan was written in 1995, and is partly set in the decaying America of the first decades of the 21st century. A militantly anti-science president, Maclachlan, has been elected with the support of the Ku Klux Klan and Christian fundamentalists. Maclachlan shuts down NASA for good after a shuttle disaster. The launch complexes are closed down. Those that aren’t demolished become simply tourist attractions, as do the agency’s headquarters and mission control. One of these, a museum to the Apollo moon landings, is altered so that it promotes instead the spiritual experiences many of the astronauts did have during their missions. Maclachlan also introduces legislation demanding that only the Aristotelian cosmology of Thomas Aquinas, with its crystal spheres, is taught in schools. What is left of the agency is given over to the USAF under the paranoid and nationalistic General Hartle, who is very much like the rogue American General Jack D. Ripper in Stanley Kubrick’s classic nuclear black comedy, Doctor Strangelove.

Against this, the agency attempts to launch one last, great space mission, a crewed voyage to Titan, where the Cassini probe has found evidence of active biological chemistry.

I commented in my post on the remarkable similarity between the policies of the fictional Maclachlan and Donald Trump. Maclachlan is fiercely nationalistic, and withdraws American peacekeepers from their stations around the globe, as well as pulling America out of NAFTA and the various other free trade agreements. America also pulls out of the World Bank and the IMF, and the UN is kicked out of New York. Like the real anti-Semites of the America Far Right, Maclachlan believes that the US is under ‘Israeli occupation’. Maclachlan also dismantles the country’s welfare programmes, especially those benefiting Blacks and other minorities, and starts building a wall with Mexico.

He also devises a policy to deal with America’s increasingly aging society: euthanasia chambers for the unwanted or neglected elderly. These are euphemistically called ‘Happy Booths’. There’s a very touching scene in which the last, fictitious surviving Apollo spaceman, Marcus White, is gassed to death in one of these chambers by a couple of nurses, who are every bit as malign as Nurse Ratchet in One Flew Over the Cuckoo’s Nest. By this time, however, White is so confused with dementia, that he is lost in the delusion that he is back as a middle-aged man at NASA in his prime, suiting up and breathing the pure oxygen in preparation for another flight to the Moon.

This is interesting, as it completely turns on its head one of the truly despicable pieces of propaganda the Republicans were running ten years ago to make sure the American public didn’t get single-payer healthcare. Instead, we had Sarah Palin and the rest of the maniacs screaming that the introduction of single-payer healthcare, where all Americans would have free medical treatment financed by the state, would lead to ‘death panels’. Palin herself made a speech about how she didn’t want her children facing them. The idea was under a socialist system, medical care would be rationed. Those individuals deemed to be a waste of state money and resources, such as the elderly, would thus be humanely killed.

It was a disgusting piece of propaganda, based partly on the murder of the disabled in Nazi Germany. The Nazis were also pro-euthanasia, producing propaganda forms with titles such as I Don’t Want to Be Born. It was also based partly on the vile views of some of the founders of the Fabian Society, particularly H.G. Wells and George Bernard Shaw, who were very much in favour of eugenics and the sterilization of the biologically unfit.

Unfortunately, many Americans were taken in by this bilge. There was a BBC report on the truly horrific state of American healthcare, in which a clinic offering free treatment in California immediately attracted 50,000 + prospective patients. These are the 20 per cent of Americans, who couldn’t afford their private healthcare before the introduction of Obamacare. The Beeb’s reported also attracted the attention of Republican supporters, who’d believed all the rubbish they’d been fed by Palin and her stormtroopers. One of these was an elderly man, who rushed up to the Beeb’s crew and shouted ‘Your healthcare system stinks!’ When they politely asked him how so, he looked confused, and began to mutter about ‘death panels’.

There are no death panels in Britain, or anywhere else with a socialized, or state-funded medical system. As for Germany, state financing of medical treatment for the workers was introduced by Bismarck in the 1870s, nearly fifty years before the Nazis seized power. There is a problem, where dying individuals may be refused treatment of expensive and/or experimental drugs or other procedures on the NHS because the costs far exceed any chance of success. This is very much a controversial issue, as we’ve seen the past week with the parents fighting to send their dying son over to America for treatment. However, there are no death panels.

The ‘Happy Booths’ described in the book are a piece of artistic invention by Baxter. Conventional Christian morality rejects euthanasia for the same reasons it has traditionally ruled out abortion, except in certain very restricted circumstances. This is because both judge that there are certain forms of human beings, such as the unborn and the disabled, who are held not to have the same rights to life. If it is permitted to kill the disabled and the unborn, it is argued, there is a danger that the same attitude will spread to other groups also considered inferior, like the Jews and other ‘untermenschen’ in Nazi Germany. And Baxter is aware of this, as elsewhere in the book he describes how the British relative of one of the astronauts, stricken by CJD or ‘Mad Cow Disease’, is going to a euthanasia clinic even though their parents consider it unchristian.

A president dependent on the support of right-wing Christian fundamentalists would alienate a sizable part of his constituency if he did. What happens instead is that, through its hostility to state medicine and the welfare state, Republican politicians of Maclachlan’s type make it impossible for the poor, severely ill to support themselves. Hence Bernie Sanders’ chilling statistic that 50,000 Americans die each year because they cannot afford private medical treatment.

This is basically the same attitude of Tory party under David Cameron and Theresa May. They have extended the sanctions system and the Work Capability Tests to make it as difficult as possible for the unemployed and the disabled to quality for state support. The result of that has been that researchers at Oxford University found that in 2015 alone, 30,000 people died through the Tories’ austerity policies. And Mike over at Vox Political reported yesterday that, according to the Skwawkbox, there’s a nasty clause in Universal Credit, which means that the claimant has to find a job in two years, or they lose their benefit.

See: http://voxpoliticalonline.com/2017/07/17/uc-gives-disabled-people-just-two-years-to-find-a-job-or-lose-everything/

This is a right-wing ‘genocide of the disabled’, as Mike, Johnny Void, Stilloaks, Tom Pride and the Angry Yorkshireman have said on their blogs, and Jeffrey, one of the great commenters here, has said on this. But it’s carefully hidden. The victims aren’t actually killed, they’re simply left to die. And the few politicos, who dare to call it what it is, are denied their ability to sit in parliament.

On Friday Mike commented on a piece in the Disability News Service about Mr. Jared O’Mara, a disabled Lib Dem MP, who has called the Tories’ policies towards the disabled ‘eugenics’, and stated that they want disabled people to ‘suffer and die’. Mr. O’Mara is to be commended for the way he tried to tackle Iain Duncan Smith, the former head of the DWP and therefore the government’s chief minister responsible for implementing this policy. However, Mr. O’Mara finds it impossible to find anywhere in the House of Commons to sit during debates. There is insufficient seating for all 650 MPs, and there is no form available for disabled MPs to fill in stating that they have particular seating needs. As Mike says, this is all very suspicious.

http://voxpoliticalonline.com/2017/07/07/disabled-mp-accuses-tories-of-eugenics-is-that-why-they-wont-let-him-take-a-seat/

As a religious person, I can’t say I’m happy about the anti-religious stance of Titan. I went to a Christian college for my undergraduate degree, and some of the students were Creationists. I am not saying that their literalist reading of the creation story in Genesis is correct, but I have to say that they were, by and large, decent people. Those I met weren’t racists or political extremists, and I know that one or two were actually left-wing. I also can’t say that they were anti-science, outside of the very specific field of evolution. Moreover, since the election of Donald Trump there has been the emergence of a religious Left in America, something which couldn’t have been predicted when Baxter wrote the book back in the 1990s. One of the authors of the collection of articles attacking the Neo-Cons, Confronting the New Conservatism, pointed out that the Neo-Cons were not necessarily going to be politically dominant for ever. Kansas, and many of the other mid-western Republican states, had in the 1920s been centres of the Social Gospel movement, which combined Christianity and Socialism. It’s possible that as more Americans recognize how truly disgusting Trump and his party are, Christians over the other side of the Pond may return to it.

However, Trump and his administration are anti-science. The Republican party is strongly opposed to climate change, and so there has been a concerted attack on environmentalism since Trump took office. Legislation protecting America’s glorious natural heritage has been repealed, and federal scientists responsible for monitoring the environment have been effectively gagged. They may not publish any scientific papers supporting climate change, and the federal agency itself has been effectively gutted.

Titan also portrays a future suffering from global warming and catastrophic climate change, as do very many of the SF novels written during the same decade, such as Bruce Sterling’s Heavy Weather. So far Trump hasn’t wound up NASA, though I don’t doubt that the agency is still under considerable pressure to keep expenses under control. But the real harm is being done by Trump’s deliberate rejection of climate change to appease powerful donors from industry, particularly the Kochs in big oil. This denial of climate change, and that of the other world leaders, will lead to the deaths of millions worldwide. If it hasn’t already.

The Empire File’s Abby Martin on Trump’s Advisor, Steve Bannon

March 22, 2017

In this video from Telesur’s The Empire Files, Abby Martin discusses the repugnant rise on Steve Bannon, the head of Breitbart and pillar of the Alt Right now serving as the chief advisor in Trump’s cabinet. She describes how Bannon began his career as an officer in the US navy. An ardent militarist with a love for war and staunch supporter of Ronald Reagan, Bannon was nevertheless disappointed at not seeing active combat as the conflict he was hoping for with Iran did not materialise. He left the navy to work in the US financial industry for Goldman Sachs, before leaving them to form his own investment house. He got the job with Goldman Sachs after personally meeting the first head. After selling his investment company two years later, he began making right-wing documentary films. These are apocalyptic dystopias of a collapsing America under assault from armies of criminals. But they weren’t successful beyond the restricted circles of the Tea Party. So in 2004 he moved to working for an internet company, IGE, or Internet Gaming Entertainment. This made its money from paying people to mine the Virtual resources in internet game such as World of Warcraft to sell to the games’ players. Bannon managed to convince Goldman Sachs to plough $60 million into this fantasy world. However, IGE was run by some ‘highly problematic’ people. Its founder, Marc Collins-Rector, was wanted for child rape, and eventually all three of the company heads were sued for the abuse of underage boys. Eventually IGE itself collapsed, sued in a class action by games.

A new company, Affinity Media, rose from the remains of IGE. Bannon overthrew the head of this company and replaced him with himself. He then left it a few years later to work for Breitbart.

The film also discusses his abusive second marriage to Mary Louise Bacard, whom he married after she became pregnant. Bannon postponed marrying her until only three days before she gave birth, stating that he wasn’t going to marry her unless the children were normal. Fortunately, amniocentesis scans showed they were. He did not pay much attention to his two newborn daughters and refused to pay child maintenance. Less than a year into the marriage, a domestic argument broke out between Bannon and Bacard, which ended with Bannon becoming violent and trying to strangle her. The police had to be called, and Bannon was charged with domestic misdemeanour, battery and witness intimidation. The trial broke down, however, as Bacard did not appear in court. Bacard divorced him, and later revealed that Bannon and his lawyers had threatened to ruin her life if she pursued the charges against him. After the divorce, Bacard also had the terms of Bannon’s visitation rights to their children changed after she caught him hitting one of the 17 month old babies. She also said that he argued with her in front of them and that she did not feel safe.

It is not just his wife he has abused. He has also been charged with the coarse verbal abuse of female employees.

Martin also goes into Bannon’s opportunist support for Conservative and reactionary political movements, which he thought he could promote as vehicles for his own views, such as the Tea Party and then Sarah Palin, about whom he made a documentary. Curiously, this does not include an interview with Palin herself.

Bannon became friends with Andrew Breitbart, the news agency’s founder, because of their shared love of reactionary media. Breitbart even admiringly referred to Bannon as ‘the Leni Riefenstahl of the Tea Party’, referring to the Nazi propagandist who directed Triumph of the Will, about the Nuremberg rally and an equally celebratory account of the Munich Olympics. Breitbart was a protégé of Matt Drudge, the creator of the Drudge Report, who converted the style and approach of Conservative talk radio, in which subjects were discussed in a manner unsuitable for television, to the internet. Drudge took other media stories, but manipulated their headlines and contents to fit its bias against the progressive Left, women, the working class and ethnic minorities. Along with Bannon, Drudge also picked up and promoted the conspiracy theorist Alex Jones. She notes that while Jones is viewed as an internet ‘sideshow’, he has an audience of millions that hang on his every word. Bannon was brought into Breitbart to encourage outside investment into it. But the company was itself experiencing severe problems. These stems from it being blacklisted after it manipulated footage of a female government employee to make it appear that she was advocating violence against Whites. After Breitbart’s death, Bannon took over the leadership of that company too. He then set up the Government Accountability Institute, which issues spurious reports alleging government conspiracies. These include the allegation that protest movements are secretly funded by the government. Among the millionaires supporting Breitbart is Robert Mercer, the investment banker who ran anti-Muslim ads attacking the Ground Zero Mosque and advocating the death penalty, and who has one of the largest private collections of machine guns. Other donors included the billionaire Koch brothers. Martin notes how the Institute acted to allow these millionaires to launder money, which could be invested in Breitbart. The money donated to the IGA was then used to pay the wages of Breitbart employees, which is illegal.

Ex-employees have stated that Bannon has a tight, dictatorial control of the company and expects both journalists and guests to follow his editorial line. Among those, who have been published in his organisation are the anti-Muslim activists Pamela Geller, Michael O’Flynn, Trump’s short-lived national security advisor, and the bigot and paedophile enabler, Milo Yiannopolis. She shows how the site manipulates and aggregates news stories to attack Blacks and Muslims. Following the rise of massive anti-Muslim feeling in Europe, Breitbart has focused on promoting and playing on this fear. Breitbart’s audience is mainly angry White men, and the organisation’s audience figures shot up from 8 million to 18 million after the election of Donald Trump.

Martin discusses how Bannon has also attacked traditional Conservativism, stating that he wants to destroy the traditional Republican party as well as everything left of it. He is a populist, but only defends and promotes the White working class. He rejects ‘globalism’ in favour of economic nationalism. She states how this has been used by extreme right-wing regimes since Nazi Germany to divert attention away from capitalism as the cause of systemic economic crises. Bannon is happy to describe himself as an economic nationalist, but vigorously rejects the accusation that he is a White Nationalist, despite his attacks on non-White immigrants as a threat to Judeo-Christian civilisation, particularly Muslims. His views on Islamic immigration are even more extreme than Trump’s. If he was in charge of government, then not a single Muslim would be allowed into America. He has made documentaries showing American border towns as under siege from immigrants. Unlike Trump, he also does not want legal, well-educated and productive immigrants to stay in the country. There exists a tape, which shows him arguing against Trump on this point, when Trump protested about an Indian man, who was deported back to his homeland, where he set up a successful company employing thousands of people. Breitbart also runs stories portraying Black Americans as violent criminals and welfare scroungers. Bannon also claims that the Alt Right’s appeal to racism is entirely coincidental. He looks back to the 1950s as a golden age, whose stability and prosperity has been destroyed by the decline of Judeo-Christian civilisation. She notes that he does identify correctly some of the current problems, such as the increasing lack of upward mobility and the poverty caused by neoliberalism, and also points out that the 1950s were definitely not an era of prosperity for Black Americans and others, who were exploited and brutalised. In his view, the civil rights and other protest movements of 50s and 60s destroyed the working class and small businesses, and allowed big business and big government to collude against working Americans. She states that in his hatred of the civil rights and other movements, he attacks the very people, who have been hurt the most by globalisation. The video includes a clip from one of his wretched documentaries in which he criticises ‘White guilt’ for encouraging the belief that ‘everyone should have a house’. She then moves on to discuss another of his tawdry epics, in which he attacks the Occupy Wall Street movement. He tries to portray organic popular protest movements as vehicles for Communists, Democrats or George Soros, and attacks millennials for supposedly undermining American culture and values with the vapidity and materialism of popular culture. He even goes as far as to blame this for the rise of ISIS.

Martin makes the point that Bannon’s message was extremely effective during the 2016 election campaign, because it addressed issues that the Democrats did not want to confront. She credits Bannon with formulating the most extreme elements of Trump’s Muslim ban and his harsh hostility to the media, as well as showing how Trump’s proposal to publish a list of crimes committed by immigrants is also strongly similar to Breitbart’s strategy. She also points out that Bannon’s militarism may, as a Chinese army officer observed, make Bannon’s prediction that in five to ten years America and the Chinese will be at war a reality. Bannon has said several times that Islam and China are expanding because they believe the Judeo-Christian West is in retreat. And Trump has also appointed more generals to his cabinet than previous administrations.

Martin concludes the piece by stating that Bannon’s rise shows how corrupt and illegitimate the system is, and that the Democrats, who wish to fight the same wars and are in debt and the pockets of their own corporate donors, are unable to fight him. He can only be fought by a united, multicultural progressive movement on the streets.

Is Trump Barely Able to Read?

February 6, 2017

My thanks to Joanna, one of the long-time commenters on this blog, for posting this in one of her comments.

In this piece from the David Pakman Show, Pakman and one of his producers, Pat, discuss the considerable evidence that Trump is functionally barely literate. There are clips of Mark Fisher, an American journalist, discussing how he asked Trump if he was preparing for the presidency by reading the biographies of the great American presidents. Trump said something about reading one about Nixon, and another, but Fisher himself doubted he had ever read a book from cover to cover. Trump also said that he had never read a biography, but regretted this. Visitors to Trump have remarked that there weren’t any books on his desk, or on the shelves at his home or indeed anywhere else. Jeffrey Schwartz, who ghost-wrote Trump’s book, The Art of the Deal, stated that he didn’t believe Trump had ever read a book since he was in school. Washington insiders have said that The Donald actually has difficulty reading the documents and executive orders placed in front of him. He usually just scans the first page. Further evidence for this comes from clips from a court case, in which the opposition lawyer asks Drumpf to read a lease. Trump’s own lawyer objects to it, and Trump looks it over, remarks on its length, and then proceeds to give a summary of what’s on the page. Apparently, he doesn’t even send his tweets himself. He dictates them to a secretary in the next room, and she sends them for him. There’s also a clip with the writers from the comedy show, Saturday Night Live, in which they talk about how Trump had difficulty reading the scripts when he was guest host. And it’s also been said that the reason why Trump watches so much television, and gets so much of his information from it, is because he can’t or doesn’t read books and papers. There’s also a clip, which shows Trump very obviously not using a teleprompter at one of his rallies. Pakman argues that this isn’t because he’s particularly keen to speak ad lib. It’s because he has difficulty reading what’s on there.

Pakman’s producer, Pat, finally makes the point here that what’s shocking isn’t Trump’s inability to read, but his lack of intellectual curiosity. He doesn’t even send away for talking books, so he can hear things read to him.

This is truly astonishing. And frightening. People have been making jokes since forever and a day about the stupidity of politicians, but many have been people of real intellectual distinction. Churchill wrote his History of the English-Speaking Peoples. JFK apparently could write a sentence of Latin with one hand while writing a sentence in Greek with the other. Even Nixon was no intellectual slouch. He was crooked and a monstrous imperialist thug, whose regime was responsible for the deaths of untold millions in the Vietnam War and Fascist coups across the world, and he really wasn’t intellectually capable of being president. But he wasn’t thick either. Bill Clinton was far from stupid, though he was also responsible for some of the worst policies passed by an American president, such as gutting further what remained of the American welfare system after Reagan, quite apart from highly questionable foreign policy decisions.

On the other hand, there are a long line of chiefly Republican presidents, who have been suspected of being thick and incompetent. Like Ronald Reagan, even before the poor fellow was diagnosed with Alzheimer’s. Not The Nine O’clock News sang songs about his epic stupidity. There was a long-running sketch on Spitting Image, in which his aides go in search of his missing brain. Then in the early part of this century, he was followed into the Oval Office by George Dubya, who had been an illiterate drunk smashed out of his skull on recreational chemicals. Dubya at least gave up the booze and drugs, and was credited as reading. He still struck everyone as being so stupid, that when one person made up the rumour that he only had an IQ of 85, it was widely believed. And at one point it looked like America would get a female vice-president in the shape of Sarah Palin, who has a reputation for monumental stupidity. One American commenter described his candidacy for the presidency or vice-presidency to a ‘post turtle’. What’s a post turtle? He explained that if you go to the Deep South, ever so often on the roads you see a turtle stuck on a fence post. The turtle’s got no right to be there, doesn’t know how it got there, and you don’t know what moron put it there. And that summed up Palin’s bid for supreme power.

And now we have Donald Trump, a sexist, misogynist, islamophobic Fascist, a narcissistic megalomaniac, who seems unable to read or comprehend the documents put in front of him.

He is massively unfit for office, and the fact that he’s in it points to a deeply troubling strand of anti-intellectualism in the Republican Party. The late comedian Bill Hicks used to joke that there was a streak of anti-intellectualism in America, and that it began the same year Reagan was elected. He had a point. Reagan got into power by presenting the image of a down-home ordinary bloke, offering his folksy wisdom in place of the complicated and simply wrong ideas offered by those affecting to be cleverer than the rest of us. And this is a powerfully attractive approach. No-one likes the feeling that they’re being condescended to by someone impressed with their own intelligence, or being treated with contempt. And the right, both in America and in Britain, try to capitalise on this anti-intellectualism. You think of all the times the Tories have tried to persuade the public that you don’t need to know about fancy economic theories to understand the economy, just commonsense household management. Left-wing economists have tried to point out that, in fact, you do need to understand economics as it is definitely not like balancing a household budget. But still they carry on, using the metaphor of household budgeting to justifying cutting services and privatising the NHS.

And now Trump, who appears to be barely literate, is in the White House. Pakman points out that it seems that Trump spoke at the level of a fourth grade schoolboy, not because he was trying to talk to ordinary Americans at their level, but because his reading level is that of a fourth grade schoolboy. It’s been said that politician is the one job that doesn’t require qualifications. Well, intelligence doesn’t guarantee that someone will make the right decisions. But in a complex world, in which power relationships between countries are so delicate that a misstep could start an international incident or even another war, we do need intellectual ability in our leaders and their advisers. We need politicos, who have the ability to obtain the knowledge of world affairs they need, not just from the broadcast news, but from foreign policy documents, even simply from reading the papers.

Trump seems incapable of this, and it puts us all in danger. He really does need to go.

Vox Political on the Basic Income Guarantee

May 21, 2016

Also on Thursday Mike put up another fascinating piece about the growing support for the Basic Income Guarantee. A non-party thinktank, Reform Scotland, has recommended replacing the current system of in-work benefits with a guaranteed basic income, in other words, a citizen wage. The report Mike quotes states that it would combat wage-slavery, by releasing employees from having to work for their living. Instead,

employers would find it difficult to exploit workers, and would be pushed to offer decent wages, good terms and employment conditions in order to attract workers. People would have greater freedom to pursue meaningful, suitable and appropriate employment rather than having to take any job to avoid poverty and destitution.

De-commodifying labor by decoupling work from income liberates people from the “tyranny of wage slavery” and leaves a space for innovation, creativitity and rebalances power relationships between wealthy, profit-motivated employers and employees.”

Mike in his comment on the piece states that if this was carried through, it could destroy 40 years of Tory employment policies. These are, after all, about getting the maximum amount of work from a cowed and impoverished workforce.

See Mike’s article at: http://voxpoliticalonline.com/2016/05/19/the-basic-income-guarantee-and-why-it-would-destroy-40-years-of-conservative-policy/

Something like it has already been done in a town in Canada. Even Sarah Palin when she was governor of Alaska did something very similar. She used the profits from the rights the oil industry had to pay to the Alaskan state to give a portion of them to Alaskan voters.

In fact, this is merely a modern form of a very, very old idea. The Utopian quasi-Socialist, Thomas Spence, in the early 19th century recommended breaking Britain up into a federation of autonomous parishes. These parishes would own the land around them, the rents from which would be used to give each man, woman and child a basic income. If you like, a citizen wage.

A similar idea was advocated in the 1920s by Major C.H. Douglas and his Social Credit Movement. This was before the Keynsian revolution supposedly made his ideas obsolete. Douglas noted that plenty of goods were available; it was just that the workers were unable to afford them. He therefore recommended that the government should issue a system of voucher so that people could purchase the items they needed.

A friend of mine with a background in economics also told me that there has been support for similar ideas for a citizen wage by the Social Democrats in Germany and elsewhere on the continent. Part of the argument here is that although relatively few people are employed in the manufacturing sector, nevertheless it is still extremely important to the economy. In order to stimulate consumption, and thus production, people should be given the means to purchase more consumer goods. And so the unemployed and working people should be given greater benefits, so they can buy the articles on which the economy depends.

You can imagine the screaming from the Tories and the Daily Heil from here, if this ever was proposed down here in England. There would be more bluster and ranting about the ‘squeezed’ middle classes, and punishing hard-working people in order to subsidize the lifestyle of welfare scroungers and chavs. Which doesn’t mean it should be done by any means. In fact, our economy and social welfare as an industrial and civilised nation may depend on it.

The Tories Who Voted Against the Beveridge Report and the Welfare State

March 14, 2016

‘Gracchus’, in his anti-Tory book, Your MP, has a lengthy passage on the various Conservative MPs who voted against the Beveridge Report, the document that laid the foundations for the modern welfare state. I’ve blogged about how the Report had the support of the Labour party, the Liberals and left-wing Tories. These are its opponents, whose modern ideological descendants, David Cameron, Jeremy Hunt, George Osborne, and the four ‘wafflers’ who talked out a bill to ban the privatisation of the NHS, and so many others, who now want to the scrap this most precious British institution.

The anti-Beveridge Tories included:

Sir John Anderson, of the air raid shelter fame. He was Commander of the Crown of Italy, Governor of Bengal, and one of the organisers of the ‘Black and Tans’ that terrorised Ireland during their struggle for independence.

Osbert Peake, Leeds North, stated that William Beveridge, had “raised hopes which could not be fulfilled. No system of weekly payments can abolish want in a free society; so long as men are free to spend their money as they please there will be homes in which want exists.” He also said it was ‘incompatible with freedom’ and claimed that want could only be eradication by the type of regimentation found in the armed forces or internment camps.

Captain H.H. Balfour, Isle of Thanet, declared that “The ideal of those who want a planned society is the “raising of utility families in accordance with State guidance; the children, as soon as possible, being enrolled into the ever-swelling ranks of a new race of little State stooges trained to serve and look only to the State for all sustenance, security and benefit right from the days of the State crèche to the evening of life, directed to be spent in some bare-walled but beautifully sanitary institution, run, of course, under a State medical service.”

Reading through these denunciations, it’s striking how little has changed in that they’re the same arguments being made today about any kind of socialism or state intervention by the American extreme Right. Libertarians talk about how Britain’s ‘cradle-to-grave’ welfare state has robbed us of our liberty and deprived us of the right to carry guns around in very much the same terms. As for the raising of children as ‘little state stooges’, something very similar was screamed a little while ago by the conspiracy theorist, Alex Jones, on his Infowars website. He claimed that the child immigrants Obama had let into the country were going to be used by him as child soldiers, as in Africa, to establish his totalitarian control of America. It’s the same kind of rhetoric Sarah Palin used in her election campaign when she ranted about ‘death panels’ on the evils of Obamacare. It’s the same type of argument Ronald Reagan also used to attack Medicaid when this was being introduced by Lyndon Johnson.

The other Tories, who voted against the Beveridge Report, were:

Lt-Col. G.J. Acland-Troyte, Tiverton;
Major S.V.T. Adams, Leeds West
Lt. Com. P.G. Agnew, Camborne
Sir Irving Albery, Gravesend
Brig.-Gen Sir Wm. Alexander, Glasgow Central
Lt.-Col Wm. James Allen, Armagh
L.C.M.S. Amery, Secretary of State for India and Burma, Sparkbrook.
R. Assheton, Financial Secretary to the Exchequer, Rushcliffe.
Col. J.J. Astor, Dover
W.W. Astor, Fulham East.

Adrian Baillie, Tonbridge,
A. Beverley Baxter, Wood Green
Rear-Adm. T. Beamish, Lewes
F. Geattie, Cathcart
Sir Brograve Beauchamp, Walthamstow
Major R.E.B. Beaumont, Portsmouth Central
Sir Alfred Beit, St. Pancras South East
Sir Peter Bennett, Edgbaston
R. De La Bere, Worcester, Evesham
Sir Robert Bird, Wolverhampton West
Sir Reginald Blair, Hendon
Lt.-Col. D. Boles, Wells
R.J.G. Boothby, Aberdeen East
A.C. Bossom, Maidstone
W.W. Boulton, Vice-Chamberlain of the Household, Sheffield Central
Com. R.T. Bower, Cleveland
H. Leslie Boyce, Gloucester
Rt. Hon. B. Bracken, Minister of Information, Paddington North
Major A.N. Braithwaite, Buckrose
Captain Sir William Brass, Clitheroe
Captain R. Briscoe, Cambridgeshire
Sir George Thomas Broadbridge, City of London
Sir Edmund Brocklebank, Fairfield
H. Brooke, Lewisham West

Rt. Hon. A.E. Brown, Chancellor of the Duchy of Lancaster, Leith
Captain Bartle Bull, Enfield
Col. H.W., Burton, Sudbury
Rt. Hon. R.A. Butler, President Board of Education, Saffron Walden

G.R. Hall Caine, Dorset East
Sir Edward Campbell, Bromley
R.A. Cary, Eccles
Viscount Castlereagh, Down
S.S. de Chair, Norfolk, South West
Flight lieutenant C. Challen, Hampstead
H. Channon, Southend
A. Chapman, Parliamentary Under-Sec. for Scotland, Rutherglen
Sir Samuel Chapman, Edinburgh, S.
J. Christie, Norfolk South
Sir Reginald Clarry, Newport
Capt. E.C. Cobb, Preston
Arthur Colegate, the Wrekin
N.C.D. Colman, Brixton
Captain R.J.E. Conant, Bewdley
Cooke, J. Douglas, Hammersmith South
A. Duff Cooper, St George’s
Col. George Courthope, Rye.
W. Craven-Ellis, Southampton
Lord C. Crichton-Stuart, Northwich
Sir Smedley Crooke, Deritend
Capt. Harry Crookshank, Postmaster-General, Gainisborough
J.F.E. Crowder, Finchley
C.T. Culverwell, Bristol West

Viscountess Davidson, Hemel Hempstead
Sir William Davison, Kensington South
A. Denville, Newcastle-Upon-Tyne
Lt.-Col. G.F. Doland
P.W. Donner
Lt.-Col. Alan V.G. Dower
C. Drewe, Assistant Whip, Honiton
G.A.V. Duckworth, Shrewsbury
W.R. Duckworth, Manchester, Moss Side
major T.L. Dugdale, Richmond, York.
Captain. J.A. Duncan, Kensington North

Anthony Eden, Secretary of State for Foreign Affairs, Warwick and leamington
Major Sir James Edmondson, Treasurer of the Household, Banbury
Sir Geoffrey Ellis, Ecclesall
Captain G.S. Elliston, Blackburn
J.F. Emery, Salford West
C.E.G.C. Emmott, Surrey, East.
P.V. Emrys-Evans, Under-Secretary for the Dominions, Derby South.
Major Cyril Entwhistle, Bolton
Eric Errington, Bootle
A.G. Erskine-Hill, Edinburgh North
Ralph Etherton, Stretford
Col. Arthur Evans, Cardiff South
W. Lindsay Everard, Melton

Edmund Findlay, Banff
Flt.-Lt Sir Gifford Fox, Henley
David Fyfe, Solicitor-General, West Derby

Com. T.D. Galbraith, Pollok
Granville Gibson, Pudsey and Otley
G. Gledhill, Halifax
L.H. Gluckstein, Nottingham East
Major Ralph Glyn, Abingdon
N.B. Goldie, Warrington
Robert Gower, Gillingham
Captain A.C. Graham, Chester, Wirral
W.P.C. Greene, Worcester
Sir Arnold Gridley, Stockport
Edward Grigg, Altrincham,
R.V. Grimston, Assistant Postmaster-General, Westbury
Col. Henry Guest, Drake
Major Derrick Gunston, Thornbury

Sir Douglas hacking, Chorley
Captain F.F.A. Heilgers, Bury St. Edmunds
M.R. Hely-Hutchinson, Hastings
J.J.C. Henderson, Leeds North East
T.H. Hewlett, Manchester Exchange
W.F. Higgs, Birmingham West
Quintin Hogg, Oxford
Miss F. Horsbrught, P.S., Ministry of Health
Dr A.B. Howitt, Reading
Austen Hudson
R.S. Hudson, Minister of Agriculture, Southport
Sqd.-Ldr N.J. Hulbert, Stockport.
George Hume, Greenwich
Percy Hurd, Devizes
Major Geoffrey Hutchinson, Ilford

Wing.-Com. A.W.H. James, Wellingborough
John Jarvis, Surrey, Guildford
R. Jennings, Hallam
George Jones, Stoke Newington
Lt. Com. L.W. Joynson-Hicks

Mrs. Cazalet Keir, Islington East
H.W. Kerr, Oldham
John Graham Kerr, Scottish Universities
Major L. Kimball, Leicester, Loughborough
Maj.-Gen. Alfred Knox, Wycombe

Joseph Lamb, Stone

J. Lees-Jones, Blackley
John Leigh, Clapham
Major B.E.P. Leighton, Oswestry
T. Levy, Elland
O. Lewis, Colchester
W.S. Liddall, Lincoln
Major E.G.R. Lloyd, Refrew East
P.C. Loftus, Lowestoft
Major Sir Jocelyn Lucas, Portsmouth South
Leonard Lyle, Bournemouth
Major A.M. Lyons, Leicester East
Captain O. Lyttelton, Aldershot

Col. Charles MacAndrew, Buteshire and Ayrshire
Major Duncan McCallum, Argyll
M.S. McCorquodale, Parliamentary Secretary, Ministry of Labour, Sowerby
Captain P.D. Macdonald, Isle of Wight
Captain J.H.F. McEwen, Lord of the Treasury, Berwick and Haddington,
Lt.-Col. J.R.J. Macnamara, Essex, Chelmsford
T. Magnay, Gateshead,
Adam Maitland, Faversham
Brig.-Gen ernest Makins, Knutsford
Lt.-Col. John Myhew, East Ham, North
John Mellor, Tamworth
Major J.D. Mills, Ecclesiastical Commissioner, New Forest and Christchurch
Col. H.P. Mitchell, Brentford and Chiswick
George Mitcheson, St. Pancras, South West
Lt.-Col. Thomas Moore, Ayr Burghs
R.H. Morgan, Stourbridge
Major J.G. Morrison, Salisbury
W.S. Morrison, Minister for Town and Country Planning, Cirencester and Tewkesbury

Col. Joseph Nall, Hulme,
Major B.H.H. Neven-Spence, Orkney and Shetland
W. Nunn, Newcastle-Upon-Tyne West

Hugh O’Neill, Antrim
I.L. Orr-Ewing, Weston-Super-Mare

G.E.H. Palmer, Hampshire, Winchester
C.J. Peat, Parliamentary Secretary, Ministry of Supply, Darlington
Major M. Petherick, Penryn and Falmouth
K.W.M. Pckthorn, Cambridge University
Captain R.A. Pilkington, Civil Lord of the Admiralty, Lancaster, Widnes
Col. C.E. Ponsonby, Sevenoaks
Lt.-Col. Assheton Pownall, Lewisham East
Major H.A. Procter, Accrington
R. Purbrick, Walton
L.R. Pym, Lord of the Treasury, Monmouth

E.A. Radford, Rusholme,
Flt.-Lt. H.V.A.M. Raikes, Essex, South East
Eugen Ramsden, Bradford North
Robert Rankin, Kirkdale
Stanley, Reed, Aylesbury
W.A. Reid, Derby
G.W. rickards, Skipton
D. Robertson, Streatham
J.R. Robinson, Blackbool
G. Fowlands, Flint
Admiral Percy Royds, Kingston-upon-Thomas
Alexander Russell, Tynemouth

E.W. Salt, Yardley
Frank Sanderson, Ealing
E.D. Sandys, Permanent Secretary, Ministry of Supply, Norwood
William Scott, Roxburgh and Selkirk
H.R. Selley, Battersea South
Major P.S. Shaw, Liverpool, Wavertree
Captain W.T. Shaw, Forfar
O.E. Simmons, Duddeston
Major Archibald Sinclair, Caithness and Sutherland
Bracewell Smith, Dulwich
Waldron Smithers, Chislehurst
W.M. Snadden, Kinross and West Perth
Donald Somervell, Attorney-General, Crewe
Oliver Stanley, Secretary of State for the Colonies, Westmorland
S. Storey, Sunderland,
H.G. Strauss, Permanent Secretary, Ministry of Town and Country Planning, Norwich
Captain W.F Strickland, Coventry
Captain H.G. Studholme, Tavistock
Rear-Admiral Murray Sueter, Hertford
Harold Sutcliffe, Royton
Major-General Frederick Sykes, Nottingham Central.

Robert Tasker, Holborn
Captain C.S. Taylor, Eastbourne
Vice-Admiral E.A. Taylor, Paddington South
J.P.L. Thomas, Financial Secretary, Admiralty, Hereford
Douglas Thomson, Aberdeen South
C.N. Thornton-Kemsley, Kincardine and Western
G.C. Touche, Reigate
A.R.L.F. Tree, Harborough
Lt.Com. R.L. Tufnell

W.W. Wakefield, Wiltshire, Swindon
Jonah Walker-Smith, Barrow-in-Furness
Col. Lambert Ward, Kingston-Upon-Hull
Miss Irene Ward, Walsend
John Wardlaw-Milne, Worcester, Kidderminster
Captain C. Waterhouse, Permanent Secretary, Board of Trade, Leicester South
F.C. Watt, Edinburgh Central
Brigadier G.S. Harvie Watt, Richmond
Harold Webbe, Abbey
J.J.S. Wedderburn, Refrew West
Richard Wells, Bedford
W. Garfield, Macclesfied
Dymoke white, Fareham
Lt.-Col. E.T.R. Wickham, Somerset, Taunton
Commander C. Williams, Deputy Chairman of Committees, Torquay
Herbert Williams, Croydon South
Lt.-Col. G. Windsor-Clive, Ludlow
Earl Winterton, Horsham and Worthing
Major A.R. Wise, Smethwick
Walter J.P. Womersley, Minister of Pensions, Grimsby
H. Wragg, Belper
Group Captain J.A.C. Wright, Erdington

Major Christopher York, Ripon
A.S.L. Young, Lord of the Treasury, Glasgow, Partick.

Trump Retweets Yet Another Neo-Nazi

February 24, 2016

This is another video from The Young Turks. It’s about a piece of old news, which I’ve only just noticed. And it’s yet more racism from Donald Trump. In this piece, Jonathan Harris, Jimmy Dore and John Iadarola talk about Trump retweeting yet another White supremacist. The tweet itself showed a picture of a dishevelled Jeb Bush holding up a cardboard sign saying ‘Vote Bush’. The hashtag for the message, however, was #Whitegenocide, from a Nazi who called himself ‘George Bushovitz’, describing his homeland as ‘Jewmerica’, and whose icon was the founder of the American Nazi party, George Lincoln Rockwell.

The trio lament that they’ve given so much publicity to this Nazi. They quote a message on the Stormfront Neo-Nazi boards, stating that this is good propaganda, although they don’t know about whether it will be good for Trump at the election. They also make the point that this shows how pernicious the profit motive is in news. Joe Scarborough and other news presenters should call Trump out for ‘the racist, misogynist disgusting piece of walking flesh that he is’, as Jonathan Harris, the Black presenter, describes him. But they don’t, because Trump’s good for the ratings, and so they don’t want to stop him phoning in. Harris also makes the excellent point that this shows how far America has moved to the Right. Compared to Trump and Palin and the other lunatics, Ronald Reagan now looks like a liberal.

Earlier this evening I put up a piece from The Young Turks in which they commented on Trump’s nostalgia for the day when protestors at rallies could be beaten to the ground, and how his verbal endorsement of violence shows just how similar he is to the Neo-Nazi death squads in the former Yugoslavia and the Brownshirts in Nazi Germany. I wrote in my post about it that he does remind me of the Blackshirt Nazi gangs and their songs about beating up Jews. And this is starting to seem almost literally true, without hyperbole. The term ‘Jewmerica’ for the United States suggests that the Nazi is another believer in ZOG. This is the acronym the Nazis have cooked up for Zionist Occupation Government, and refers to their bonkers conspiracy theory that the Jews have secretly taken over the US. You can tell how stupid that is, because the last time I looked, most American politicians were gentiles. It’s dangerous nonsense that should never be endorsed by any serious American politician, let alone one aiming at the White House. Trump is frightening, and if he wins, he will only bring about more death, violence and terror.

TYT on Trump Supporters Vicious Tweets against Megyn Kelly

February 2, 2016

This shows not just how vile the man’s supporters are, but it also reflects badly on their leader’s own appalling attitude to women. In this piece from The Young Turks, anchor Cenk Uygur talks about the genuinely hateful tweets Megyn Kelly’s received from Trump’s supporters. They’ve called her everything from ‘Bimbo’ to ‘bitch’, ‘slut’ and end with a word so foul I can’t repeat it here.

And all this is because she dared to ask Trump about his own disparaging comments about women. The Turks’ show this here, and although Trump tries to laugh it off, it is a reasonable question. Moreover, as the Turks themselves have repeatedly said, Kelly was actually on his side. When she asked the question, she follows it up with another question about how he would react to the Democrats using it against him. Which is a fair point.

But it’s too much for Trump, who can’t stand criticism, fair or otherwise, no matter how sugar-coated and sympathetic. And so there was the petulance and foot-stamping of his refusal to appear on the Fox News debate, because it was to be moderated by Kelly, and then the sheer venom of his supporters.

There are a number of different aspects to this. The first is the misogynist hatred that comes out of certain corners of the Web, designed to silence women. Mary Beard, the classical historian, was subjected to all kinds of misogynist abuse after her comments denying that immigrants were flooding and destroying various towns in the north of England. In response she made a programme on BBC 2, Shut Up, Dear, about the attempts to silence women’s voices down the centuries.

And it’s not just women, who suffer horrendous abuse at the hands of anonymous posters on the Net. Quentin Letts, the parliamentary sketch writer for the Daily Mail, includes ‘Webonymous’, in his book, 50 People Who Buggered Up Britain. The anonymous tweeters and emailers of the Net are included, because there’s a level of vitriol and abuse in their messages which goes far beyond even those written by the cranks in green ink. No matter how insulting and poisonous they get, wrote Letts, they will at least end their missive with ‘Yours faithfully, X’. No such grace comes from the keyboards of the angry hordes on the Web.

And the Republican Party in particular has a problem with strong women, despite the fact that it’s produced some of the strongest and most powerful. It is the party of traditional masculine values, where men are rugged and tough, and women dutifully subordinate to their husbands. And some of the men in the Republican party are really intimidated by strong, independent women. Remember back in the 1990s when one Republican Party delegate, who I believe was a deranged pastor of some kind, said of Hillary Clinton that she was ‘the kind of woman who leaves her husband, turns to lesbianism, practices witchcraft and sacrifices her children’.

What?

From what I’ve seen of her, she seems just a dull, corporate politico. She’s undoubtedly efficient and highly intelligent, but she always struck me as being very measured in what she says. She’s very definitely not a crazed mouth on legs seething with hate and bile like Ann Coulter, and definitely not as outspokenly airheaded as Sarah Palin, all superpatriotism and booster clichés. I sincerely doubt that she’s got a Satanic temple in her basement, or is part of Wiccan coven in Salem or anywhere else. And the last time I looked, Chelsea was very much alive and well.

Joe Queenan back in the 1990s in his Radio 4 show, Postcard from Gotham, opined that most of the abuse Hillary Clinton got for being a tough, successful woman, came from men, who married to women like her. And since then, the attitude to women and women’s rights appears to have hardened, just as it has against Blacks and the disadvantaged generally. The Republican party have deliberately targeted ‘angry White men’, guys, who feel threatened by the social changes around them, which have seen them and their position in society come under competition from women, Blacks and other, traditionally marginalised groups. Hence the hostility to affirmative action programmes, the rising xenophobia, and the raving antifeminism coming from the Republicans and their supporters. And Trump reflects this poisonous mix of prejudices. He’s supposed to be a grade-A, super Alpha Male, ready to put women, Mexicans and Muslims in their place, for a better, traditional America of pure Republican Party values. And the result is a wave of pure hate from his supporters. Whatever they’re real socio-economic group and their place in the social hierarchy, they increasingly sound like angry trailer trash, ranting about the threat to society from Cultural Marxism, Hispanics, Blacks and Arabs. Sitting in soiled vests in dingy bars, sullenly nursing their pints and reminiscing about the good old days before all this political correctness and the girlie men now in charge, before staggering home to an evening of domestic violence.

Trump shares the same atavistic instincts of this crowd, but with all the smarm and polish of a slick politico and reality TV personality. He may wear a suit, but his followers see in him the same hatreds they have. And when he lets loose against a woman, they follow suit, with the same lack of restraint and all the poison, bile and spite the web can muster. We need statesmen, not ranting demagogues whipping up hate. And that’s why Trump should not be let anywhere near the White House.

The Young Turks: Female Staffer on Sexism and Misogyny in Trump Campaign

February 2, 2016

This is another piece about Trump’s terrible attitude to women. A former member of Trump’s campaign team in Iowa, Elizabeth Mae Davidson, has left it and is seeking advice from a civil rights organisation, citing The Donald’s sexism and refusal give women working for him equal pay to that of their male co-workers. She states that she was paid $2,000 a month, while the men, who were also working part-time for the campaign, were paid $3,500-$4,000. She also points out that sexism and negative attitudes towards women were rife in his company.

Cenk Uygur, the Turks’ anchor, points out that her statement about pay has yet to be ascertained legally. It is possible that she could ‘just be saying it’. But he points out that Trump and the Republicans do not want women to be paid equally. They reject it on the grounds that it’s just an excuse for women to sue corporations. Uygur makes the point that as a staffer for Trump, Davidson should have known this, and it should have come as no surprise when he did it to her.

Uygur also reports that when Davidson and another female activist met Trump, he said, ‘You guys could do a lot of damage.’ They thought at the time that he was referring to their looks. Trump, again, has laughed off this accusation, saying that ‘a lot worse could be said’, but denies he actually did so, stating that ‘it’s not in my vocabulary’. He has then gone on to make other comments and accusations against Davidson. One of them is that she behaved strangely when she was on campaign team, to the point where she started dressing as his wife.

Uygur has some sympathy for her position as a woman working for such a terrible man, who does see women simply as sex objects and doesn’t want them to have equality with the men in his organisations. But he criticises her for having the same selfish attitude to these issues that permeates all Republicans. The Republicans don’t care when the policies they advocate harm other people. Not when people are unable to feed themselves on their pay, find themselves discriminated against at work, or are shot down, assaulted and imprisoned by the cops for no reason whatsoever. This last is a reference to the racist shootings by police of unarmed Black men, which sparked the ‘Black Lives Matter’ protests. In one of the most horrific incidents, a young boy was shot and killed, simply because he was playing with a toy gun. When incidents like these happen to other people, the Republicans simply shrug and say it doesn’t matter, because it didn’t happen to them. but when it does happen to them, there’s outrage.

Uygur’s entirely right about Trump’s horrendous attitude to women, and the way it’s firmly based in Republican attitudes to gender. The Republicans are very much in favour of traditional gender roles. Jerry Fallwell, the right-wing TV evangelist, first made his breakthrough into national US politics in the 1970s, when he led a campaign against the equal pay act. This was the piece of equalities legislation which gave American women the right to be paid the same as men for the same work. And the attitudes to women get more crazed and reactionary the further right you go. Ann Coulter, possibly the Republican’s most splenetic and venomous polemicists, has stated that she doesn’t think women should have the vote. Really. You can check it for yourself. Along with all the other insane and bigoted things she said. There’s whole lists of them on the Net and Youtube.

And these attitudes aren’t confined to America. They permeate UKIP over here, and you can find the same rants against equal pay and maternity leave for women, and flexible working hours to they could fit in their duties looking after their children, in the pages of the supposedly ‘female-friendly’ Daily Mail. They’ve also attacked equal pay legislation and campaigns as harmful to industry, alleging that such provision for maternity leave will make women employees less productive and more expensive to hire. They’ve then go on to argue that this will result in either less women being employed, or firms suffering economic damage from having to employ them and cater for their needs.

I found this meme about the Republicans’ appalling attitudes to women’s rights on the Tumblr site, 1,000 Natural Shocks. (Over 18s only). It probably refers principally to the most vociferously debated and obvious campaign against a recently won right for women, abortion. But it also describes pretty much their entire attitude to women’s rights as a whole, from working outside the home, equal pay, to the right to vote. And this is all despite the fact that the Republicans also have very powerful women on their side, like Coulter and Sarah Palin. And they are powerful, no matter what can be said about their own intelligence, sanity or the stupidity of their policies. But the danger is, for some reason people still continue voting for them.

Republicans Women's Rights

Jaclyn Glenn’s Takedown of Palin’s Endorsement of Trump

January 26, 2016

Last week, Sarah Palin gave her official endorsement of Donald Trump, to the amazement and hilarity of Americans and, probably, much of the entire western hemisphere. In this piece I found on Youtube, the Vlogger Jaclyn Green gives her informed opinion on this momentous political event. It’s an hilarious critical commentary on Palin’s speech. With other clips of Palin speaking in the past, it shows just how incoherent, uninformed, stupid and, indeed, downright crazy the governor of Alaska is.

Along the way, Palin talks about how she wants to be in charge of the energy department, because it deals with America’s natural resources of oil and gas, not knowing that’s precisely what the department doesn’t deal with. It’s mostly concerned with America’s nuclear energy programme, which is definitely not something of which you’d want Palin in charge.

And there’s a completely incoherent rant from Palin about sending people, who work at McDonald’s, along with liberals, vegans, and picket lines to purgatory. I have no idea what was going on in the gubernatorial skull at the point. I don’t even think she knows. I think it’s just a case of the motor centres for the jaw being engaged without the rest of the cerebellum. As Kryten from Red Dwarf would say, ‘Oh, for a world class psychiatrist!’.

And some of her speech for Trump just seems to be push-button talking points. She starts raising a cheer for working mothers, then it’s guns, Jesus, religion and an appeal to elect Trump, because as commander in chief he’ll ‘kick ISIS’ ass!’ Oh yes, and Obama uses a teleprompter, and will soon see Trump Tower looming over him.

News programmes like The Young Turks and Secular Talk have commented that her speeches are pretty much word salad, disconnected words and phrases thrown together, followed by talking points taken from right-wing radio hosts like Rush Limbaugh. And here you can see it for yourself. You really do wonder how someone as misinformed, inarticulate and just plain stupid as Palin ever got to be governor of Alaska.

The frightening thing is, by this time next year, she and Trump could be the US government. In the meantime, watch this video and let your mind boggle, as we laugh our way to the demise of sensible politics.