Quote of the week
“Trump is a cultural revolutionary, not a policy revolutionary. He operates and is subtly changing America at a much deeper level. He’s operating at the level of dominance and submission, at the level of the person where fear stalks and contempt emerges.
“He’s redefining what you can say and how a leader can act. He’s reasserting an old version of what sort of masculinity deserves to be followed and obeyed. In Freudian terms, he’s operating on the level of the id. In Thomistic terms, he is instigating a degradation of America’s soul.”*
– Conservative David Brooks, in the New York Times, explaining why the Democrats with their inability to get beyond economic technocracy have no answer to the darker psychological forces raised by the Trump phenomenon. http://www.nytimes.com/2019/08/01/opinion/debate-marianne-williamson.html
Brooks quotes the only Democratic candidate he thinks “gets it”, the “wackadoodle” (because she expresses non-religious spiritual values. Conservatives!), the extremely hot (when you’re my age….) Marianne Williamson in last weekend’s debate:
“If you think any of this wonkiness** is going to deal with this dark psychic force of the collectivized hatred that this president is bringing up in this country, then I’m afraid that the Democrats are going to see some very dark days.”
They’re not the only ones. Driven by the evil genius of mighty Mekon, Dominic Cummings, Johnson’s hard-Brexit ideologues are fully signed up to the UK becoming an integral part of the neo-Cons’ Reaganite “American Project for the 21st Century”, continuing and deepening the revolution begun in 1980s Britain under Thatcher.
A territory free of annoying regulation. Free ports. A tax-free shelter. A haven for international speculators and gangster-capitalists.
Trump in all his pomp and senile eccentricity is merely a mild irritation, a traffic hump in the road. The project is founded on three principles: low taxes for the rich operating unshackled in a free market; minimal governance emphasizing individual responsibility and zero State interference in public welfare; the preeminence of the Christian religion, supposedly as a moral force for unity.
Through his Republican enablers, if Trump promises to deliver those three principles his (many and base) worse instincts – of selfishness, greed, wilful ignorance, laziness, casual racism – a love of puerile and vindictive, provocative insult – of sowing fear, hatred and division – his instinct for bullying authoritarianism and pathological attention-seeking – his essential cowardice and moral vacuum, his total lack of human empathy can all be overlooked.
If you care to read the neocon manifesto, btw, it’s here, in all its serious-sounding reasonableness:
*It’s a pretty good definition of fascism. (UB)
**By which she means ideas formulated by “policy wonks”, not the lopsidedness implied in Brit-speak. Ed.)
The Brexit Dividend
Alan Winters, Professor of Economics and Director of the UK Trade Policy Observatory at Sussex University and his colleagues have produced some interesting data showing where the most and fewest jobs are likely to disappear in the aftermath of a no-deal Brexit.
Interestingly, but unsurprisingly, at a casual glance the highest numbers seem to be most closely associated with the constituencies having the most Leave voters. Watch out, if you live and used to work in Leicestershire, it looks like!
Winters makes the point that while you may lose only a few jobs in one constituency, because most people travel in to work from other constituencies the effect is more spread-out than government figures suggest:
“A ‘no-deal’ Brexit would imply a shock equivalent to losing some 42,400 jobs in the parliamentary constituency of Cities of London and Westminster. However, 41,250 of these jobs are held by people who live elsewhere. At the other extreme, Streatham may suffer a loss equivalent to 650 of its jobs, but around 2,250 of Streatham’s residents would lose their employment.”
He estimates a total loss of 750,000 jobs (conservatively, about half the number implied by the government’s own published prognostications). “Once we look at Brexit on a residence basis, we see that its economic costs are … far more widespread than one would guess from the pattern of employment around the UK in terms of workplaces.” That’s because people tend to spend their money where they live, rather than where they work.
Yet again, we have been warned. And it appears from the lavish “spaff-the-cash” we supposedly haven’t got, pre-election giveaways announced by the undisciplined fantasist and unicorn jockey, Johnson, that Project No-Fear is going to cost us a lot, lot more than Project Fear.
Already, the boot has been going in, just in case no-deal turns out to be the predicted disaster and we need somebody to blame. Michael Gove has been doing a Trumpian reverse-ferret on observable reality, moaning that those bastardly Europeans are unreasonably refusing to negotiate another leave deal on our terms.
But we already have a leave deal, and it’s the one they’re reasonably sticking to, because it’s already been negotiated – and that took the best part of two-and-a-half years. Why change it, just to help Johnson beat Farage in the upcoming election? They’re both insufferable, lying egotists, a pair of sloppy, incompetent huxters better out than in.
So who to blame, eh?
The Daily Mail today, 14 Aug., is front-page hailing the Brexit jobs dividend: more than a million people, mostly women have got into work since the referendum – despite “Project Fear”.
It might not have occurred to the wallies at the Mail that you only have to have one hour’s work a week nowadays to be considered fully employed. Most of those women will be in insecure or temporary, low-paid, part-time work, unable to afford childcare or even, in many cases, food and rent.
Others will have been bullied into whatever employment they can bear to take – even prostitution – by the threat of crippling benefit sanctions of the kind thoroughly approved by the Daily Mail‘s aging Tory readership – the Johnson voter base.
Nor have they noticed, we’re still in the EU.
“Life is nasty, British and short.”
The cloud of unknowing
Johnson is spending £100 million of our money to tell us how great it’s going to be when we leave the EU on 31st October on his terms, with or without a deal.
That’s £91 million more public money than the Leave campaigners were moaning the Cameron government spent on leaflets inadequately govsplaining the in-out choice facing the electorate in 2016.
People who quite rightly don’t believe him are struggling to make our voices heard.
How on earth can we get through to “ordinary people” to tell them what’s really going on, when they’ve been conditioned not to believe us?
The people who identify with the image of themselves as The People – a kind of many-headed superhero – voluntarily keep themselves in ignorance because, to them, to know what is going on is to be one of the enemy. Instead, they are a Wise People, a sturdy yeomanry that can trust its own instincts to make correct decisions.
What, without basing them on any real-world information?
To know what is going on requires a degree of dedication to the basic art of understanding who is telling you the truth, who is distracting you, from what – and who is merely lying.
And why. Which at least to some of us is pretty obvious.
How many people who voted Leave knew, for instance, what is a hedge fund, what it does, how its partners make their millions?
Do they understand that every time Johnson opens his mouth to lie that the EU is preventing us from doing a deal that will deliver everything The People think they want, 24-hour Love Island with free lottery wins every week, the pound falls on the international market and hedge-fund managers make millions from betting against it?
I don’t mean do they understand how that happens, I’m not sure myself. I’d be rich if I knew how this stuff works. I mean, do they even know that it is going on? That hedge funds can literally bet their clients’ money on which of two flies on a window pane will reach the top, or which will fly away first, because they’ve rigged their own market to win either way?
These patriots are betting high stakes that the British currency, the British economy, British businesses will fail. That common names like the Post Office, Debenhams, Autotrader will fail. Whole markets, worth billions, have been built on this deception.
And do The People know how much money hedge fund managers have poured into rigging the Brexit vote; how much money they pour into the coffers of sympathetic politicians, urging the hardest possible Brexit, and why?
Probably not. It’s hard to see The Daily Mail leading with the news that Boris Johnson’s friend and financial backer, Crispin Odey, has just trousered another $100 million betting that the pound would go down, on Boris’ alarming statements that the government is fully committed to leave the EU on 31 October, deal or no-deal.
But he has. It’s called “shorting” the market. They’re all at it! The more they bet, the further they can move the market in their favor. And many of these people are sitting around the cabinet table.
The Eye reports this issue, Chancellor Sajid Javid funded his Tory leadership campaign from donations approaching a quarter of a million pounds, including £40 thousand from Horizon Asset Management – a hedge fund based in the Cayman Islands – a tax shelter. Other leading Tories have been schmoozed with free trips to the Caymans in the hope of averting tighter regulation on this open tax loophole for the rich.
Should we wonder why they thought it was worth spending that much money on an outsider, against whom the poll had already been rigged in favor of Johnson?
Do The People understand that Boris Johnson – I use the name figuratively, as a brand for a certain type of businessman/politician, of whom his cabinet is exclusively made up – is part of a widespread conspiracy of very wealthy people to deliberately rig the financial markets, the stock markets and the tax regime in their favor?
How would they understand? They will not trust the “elites” to tell them. But who else knows?
Would they even connect a suspicion that some people are doing rather well out of Brexit uncertainty, with the fact that a tiny fraction of the party had pre-elected Johnson to be the Prime Minister, and openly rigged it to ensure he came up against the weakest possible candidate, Hunt? They may not like it, they may mutter in bus queues, they suspect corruption and conniving – they always do – but as they don’t know how or why it happens there’s nothing they can do about it, except blame people worse off or darker-complexioned than themselves.
The sources they trust don’t tell them about this sort of thing. He’s just good old Boris, bit of a clown but obviously a clever chap. Whose actual name is Alexander. Or dePfeffel. Or Kemal.
Would they even know, for instance, that the new Chancellor – he’s the bloke in charge of the economy – Sajid Javid, was for 12 years a senior executive at one of the most corrupt banks in the world, Deutsche Bank, that has paid over $16 billion in fines for money laundering and interest-rate fixing?
The bank that lent Donald Trump $2 billion, even though he lied about his assets, had a zero credit rating with a history of six or seven bankruptcies and loan defaults totalling $millions? Even though he had been red-flagged as a possible money-launderer? No collusion there.
And that while Javid was at Deutsche, despite many warnings, our new Chancellor was responsible for plugging the same bad-debt US mortgage products (“collateralized debt obligations”) that almost brought down the entire banking system in 2007, that we are still paying for?
Do they see that connection, that the banking crash brought about their benefit cuts, the “two-child” policy, or are they happy to go on believing the pernicious lie that it was somehow all the fault of Gordon Brown, and that Tony Blair letting in all those immigrants has made them poorer?
Javid makes great play of his lowly origins as the son of an immigrant Pakistani bus driver. He must have lost a lot of sleep over Theresa May’s anti-immigrant policies, that as Home Secretary he was happy to carry out. I guess he’s less proud of how he became a millionaire, or he’d talk about it more.
In order to understand, The People would need to read and view certain publications they associate only with the enemy. Clever people. Educated people. Posh people. Intellectuals. The elite.
Publications they’re taught to believe aren’t for them.
And there’s the rub, as someone once wrote. Because those publications – The Guardian, the Financial Times, Private Eye, The New Statesman – websites like Bloomberg, Huffington Post, Forbes, the New York Times, Open Democracy, the Daily Beast – there are plenty of them – are the only places people can find the information they need to understand, the stories that will tell them what is really going on.
Because the journalists who are mostly not well-paid to report for those publications are the ones who are discovering and reporting exactly what this Thing, this conspiracy of the rich, is really doing.
It’s only by reading their reports that we can slowly piece together what has been going on, how the rich have tried to weaken the EU by splitting away Britain, that has several low-tax dominions where they shelter their money, like the Caymans, Bermuda, the Virgin Islands and Channel Islands, that were threatened with tighter regulation.
The others, the publications and broadcasts designed for the ordinary man and woman in the street, that the ordinary people believe are created for them, that safeguard their culture and play to their gallery, to their prejudices, have for years been peddling a totally different, false image of reality.
Because they are owned and influenced by the same goddamned people who are making all the money!
We can assume that, as most people who consider themselves “ordinary” don’t visit those more erudite and revealing sources, believing them to be the haunt of the elite, for intellectuals only, “experts”, people they have been taught to distrust, “serious” people, metropolitan liberals, they will understand only whatever it is they are being told to understand by sources they believe are for them.
Inasmuch as they even care.
In those publications, they see people a lot like themselves, a little bit feckless, a little bit “hey!”, only with money, permatans and and publicity agents, having a great laugh, with lots of sex, divorces and beach time. People they see on the TV, in magazines at the hair salon, on Instagram. People who are their friends! They want to have a great time too. And why not? Life is nasty, British and short.
The popular media has, either cleverly or accidentally, meshed with social media to convince most people that they are living in an alternate reality, a virtual soap opera of heightened daily drama, glamor, heartbreak and incurious trivia in which they are the main players; but which has no connection with what is really being done to them; how the world really is.
The ever-unfolding nonsense about the “rival duchesses” and their production-line of “loveable” royal babies diverts us, as if we’re still living in the 1880s. The endless hammering on the themes of British “John Bull” exceptionalism; of foreign duplicity and the threat of criminal migrants swamping our “culture” ratchets up the fear and hatred.
It’s an astonishingly successful ploy on the part of the wealthy elite, to convince such an enormous mass of the increasingly downtrodden public that they have common interests, while those who question their rapacious amoral behavior are branded as traitors and Trotskyite rabble-rousers.
How on earth do you get through to the majority of the people, the understanding that they’re being screwed, how, why and by whom, if the means of doing so are controlled by the screwers?
How do you explain to a young man who, apparently, pushes a total stranger’s four-year-old child off the top-floor balcony of a public art gallery, that to welcome a foreign visitor speaking another language in a cosmopolitan city is not somehow an act of national betrayal?
A former treasury minister told BBC Radio 4 (another elite source, not for the plebs) last week, that hedge fund managers would be looking at Britain currently “almost as a free lunch”.
Radio 1 listeners would not have heard that.
Radio 1 listeners and many, many others would not have understood the reference.
And that’s the problem, and the damaging paradox. Few people would. Not much news about hedge fund managers ever penetrates the inside pages of The Sun, unless they are caught in a sex scandal; which, nowadays, they rarely are. Money talks.
But the “will” of The People is nevertheless sovereign.
That’s something else they’ve been happy to be convinced of, by cynical opportunists grabbing the last of whatever they can get:
They have free will.
Private Eye reports, Johnson was handed £16,876 as a whatever, parting gift, redundancy payment, gratuity, when he resigned the post of Foreign Secretary last year, a bravura performance in which he had notoriously been an incompetent buffoon and a national embarrassment.
He had held the post for only a few months, and now of course he is straight back in through the ever-revolving door, on whatever salary we think a Prime Minister is worth. For him, it’s a pay cut, although it has resolved at least temporarily his homelessness problem and is saving his mistress rent.
Of course, to a man who described his £275 thousand a year fee for churning out one semi-automatic 500-word column a week for The Telegraph as “chicken feed”, a handout of £16,876 wouldn’t even look like quail feed. He probably hasn’t bothered to cash the check yet, it’ll be somewhere on the floor of his car.
It seems like quite a lot to me, I live quite well on a little under £14 thousand a year, and provide my Spammers, Likers, Followers, etc. a carefully composed minimum of four thousand words a week, many of them rude, entirely free.
Theft Grand Auto
Motor theft insurance claim payouts hit their highest level in seven years at the start of 2019.
Which? Magazine reports that many of the smart new ‘keyless’ cars, some costing many tens of thousands of pounds, can be hacked into in less than a minute.
My car can never be hacked into. Who would want to steal a ten-year-old Citroën Berlingo… diesel?
The key is worth more than the car.
GW: It’s a-blowin’ an’ a soakin’ an’ a bakin’ an’ a shakin’ kinda week.
UK and Ireland: “A large low is deepening over the Atlantic, southwest of the British Isles and Ireland today. It will reach a central pressure around or slightly below 980 mbar as it tracks towards Ireland tomorrow (9 Aug.). It will bring severe to extremely severe winds (and up to 200mm rain) to open seas SW of the British Isles and locally severe winds to parts of the British Isles, Ireland and the coast of the Bay of Biscay. Also expect thunderstorms and locally excessive rainfall.” (Severe-weather.eu) PS – this is not entirely normal for early August.
South-central and eastern Europe will experience another 35-40C heatwave this weekend, according to Severe-weather.eu. But only for four days, after which an unusually cold spell is forecast. Great, as your Gran heads to France later in the week and finds this heat quite enervating. That, or the wine.
West Pacific: “Lekima and Krosa are two typhoons in the western Pacific (Cats 4 and 3 respectively at time of writing) that are expected to bring heavy rain, strong winds and a significant storm surge to the north of Taiwan, eastern China and southern Japan over the next few days.” (BBC) “Impacts will next be felt across Taiwan going into Friday as the typhoon passes northward. Before doing so, Lekima will still have the opportunity to strengthen more.” (Accuweather) Over 150 mm (6 inches) of rain was reported in Guam from Friday through Wednesday evening. Krosa is also expected to intensify.
Reminding you, southern Japan was hit by yet another Typhoon earlier in the week. Cat 1, “Francisco made landfall in southern Japan as a typhoon Tuesday morning local time, with maximum sustained winds of 85 mph, according to the U.S. Joint Typhoon Warning Center. More than 15 inches of rain soaked the Tokushima Prefecture.” (Wunderground)
No-one seems even slightly fazed by this, but your Gran has never seen anything like it in ‘er life. How often do you get three in three days?
USA: “Severe thunderstorms, a tornado and widespread flooding delivered a jolt up and down the Northeast part of the country on Wednesday. Before cooler, less humid air plunges into the northeastern United States, interior areas will first be threatened by potentially damaging thunderstorms on Thursday.”(Accuweather) “For residents in the southern Plains and Texas who have not had to deal with any spells of extreme heat so far this summer, a ridge of high pressure will position itself over Texas into early next week, allowing the hot air (100F-plus) that has been baking the western United States to spill farther east into the southern Plains. (Oh, and after May-May, June-June, now July-July is still the wettest year in US records (1894).
RIP, El Niño. The NOAA has declared the end of the weak warming event in the Pacific that began last November. They don’t yet know if there’s another one on the way, or if we’re due a new La Niña.
Going viral: “A fresh case of African Swine Fever (ASF) has been discovered in Slovakia in a village near the Hungarian border. It was found five kilometres from the initial outbreak, which occurred two weeks ago. (Contiguous culling has begun.) Meanwhile, nearly 130,000 pigs have been slaughtered in Bulgaria. Three hundred cases were reported in Romania in July.” (Euronews, 07 August)
The Economist reports that 200 million pigs may have to be culled in China by the year end, as the disease is raging out of control and has 90% lethality. The economics of that are alarming. As yet, no pig-to-human transmission has been found. But you know viruses.
Pigs in space: Another close fly-by is anticipated this weekend. The Blessed Mary Greeley reports: “The asteroid, which is known as 2006 QQ23, measures up to 1,870 feet in diameter, thus making it larger (taller, surely? Ed.) than New York’s Empire State Building. (The asteroid) will make its closest approach to Earth on August 10 at 3:23am EDT.” It’s one of six large objects NASA is tracking, heading toward us. None is expected to hit. This time.
Funny how she trusts NASA on asteroids, but continues to imagine the well-known space agency is seriously proposing to pump water into the magma chamber of Yellowstone to try to cool it down! 11 Grand Canyons’ worth at 1000C, sure.
Shaking all over: As 140mph Typhoon Lekima approaches, a shallow M6.0 earthquake (07 August) rocked northern Taiwan causing widespread minor damage, setting off rockfalls that blocked roads. Several injuries and 1 fatality. A few hours later, southwestern Turkey experienced a shallow (10km) M5.8 (USGS) quake near the city of Denizli (other sources say up to M6.5). Some injuries are reported and buildings collapsed.
Global Warning: “The climate may be more sensitive to increases in greenhouse gases than we realized, according to a new generation of climate models.” It’s “a troubling sign that future warming and related impacts could be even worse than expected.
“One of the new models saw a 35% … rise in global temperature … as the atmosphere adjusts to an instantaneous doubling of atmospheric carbon dioxide … of 5.3°C (9.5°F).” (Bob Henson, Wunderground, 9 Aug.)
Even with a faltering El Niño current, “July 2019 global temperature was on a par with, and possibly marginally higher than, that of July 2016 (WMO).” Which was “3.25°C above the pre-industrial temperature of 13.42°C, surpassing the record set before that, in July 2015. (Arctic News)