Notes on Trump 15

1. CNN poll. Favourable opinions of both Democratic and Republican parties lowest ever. Unfavourable highest ever.
More important is inclination of registered voters to vote in the mid-terms, which may point to their inclinations to vote in primaries. Needs careful analysis. I wasn’t struck by any obvious trend. (Both wings of both parties would be doing detailed private and localised polling on those numbers and correlation with voters inclinations towards the position of each wing).

Only small numbers indicating intention to vote for a party other than Republicans and Democrats. But of course there isn’t a serious contender as neither has split yet. (I would expect splits after rather than before mid-terms).

Gallup Trump approval day 296 (6-12 Nov) Republicans 82%, conservative Republicans 87%. Day 303 (13-19 Nov), 81%/87%.

2. Interesting detail in Virginia result:

Gillespie received more votes than Bob McDonnell, the GOP’s victorious 2009 nominee for governor. What buried Gillespie was a 700 percent increase, nearly 600,000 ballots, in votes for the Democratic nominee
Despite having to agree with Slate, it does seem clear that this points to Trump’s approach resulting in big Democat win in mid-terms as the Democrats will still be angry and turnout in a year. The increase in GOP votes points to increased GOP mobilization too that is more likely to swing primaries to genuine Trumpists rather than imitations such as Gillespie.

So I still expect GOP incumbents to be defeated by Democrats and Trumpists except where they have a strong base that could be used in a split that leaves large Trumpist GOP and small ex-GOP rump in Congress with a Democrat majority that leaves things paralysed with impeachment dramas and no legislation that can get through Senate and Presidency unless it happens to suit Trump. Likewise still expect the angry mobilized Democrats to turnup at their primaries that will be vigorously contested between their two wings intensifying split.

3. Not much likelihood of Democrat divisions actually being healed:

Ralph Northam’s gutless, politically senseless, and morally debased decision yesterday to openly backtrack on his commitment to standing up for immigrant families is a picture-perfect example of why Democracy for America never endorsed him in the primary and focused the entirety of our efforts in Virginia on down-ticket races, like Justin Fairfax’s campaign for Lieutenant Governor.  It’s also why, today, we’re announcing that we will no longer do any work to directly aid Northam’s gubernatorial efforts.

“Despite our profound reservations about Northam’s commitment to the inclusive populist agenda Democrats need to embrace to win, following the conclusion of Virginia’s Democratic primary, we have continued to work alongside the Virginia Democratic Coordinated campaign for our endorsed candidates, raise tens of thousands of dollars in grassroots donations, and make tens of thousands of calls to voters to expand the electorate.

“Those concerns proved justified when, a few weeks ago, the VA Democratic Coordinated campaign (dominated by Northam operatives) bought literature for canvassers that purposely left off Fairfax, who, if elected, would be just the second Black man to ever serve statewide office in the Commonwealth.  Following that racist action, we decided to remove Northam’s name from the tens of thousands of volunteer Get-Out-the-Vote calls our members are making in Virginia, but, for the sake of Democratic comity, we refrained from publicly discussing that decision.

“However, after seeing Northam play directly into the hands of Republicans’ racist anti-immigrant rhetoric on sanctuary cities, we refuse to be silent any longer and even remotely complicit in the disastrous, racist, and voter-turnout-depressing campaign Ralph Northam appears intent on running.

“The fight for racial and economic justice are core Democratic values, not talking points for convenient moments. This isn’t some arbitrary purity test either.  Public dithering on basic issues of racial justice, like the need to protect immigrant families targeted by a bigoted Federal government, isn’t just morally bankrupt, it’s precisely why many Black, brown, and progressive white voters that should make up the base of reliable Democratic voters don’t believe Democratic candidates have their backs and sit out elections.

“Let’s be really clear: If Ralph Northam wins next Tuesday, it won’t be because he publicly backtracked on his commitment to protecting immigrant families, but in spite of it.  And, if he loses, the blame should be placed squarely on the shoulders of the consultants who urged the campaign to cave on core Democratic values in the face of a virulently racist Republican campaign – and whose obsession with flipping white, Republican-leaning votes and ignoring voters of color has consistently failed.

“As we have from the start, we are committed to supporting DFA’s endorsed candidates in Virginia through election day, but we cannot remain silent as an outdated faction of national and state Democratic Party staffers and consultants run the same old, broken, and racist playbook that lost Democrats over 1000 elected offices since 2008 and allowed a bigoted billionaire to squeak into the White House last Fall.  Our country and our party deserve much, much better.” — Charles Chamberlain, Executive Director, Democracy for America

The liberal group Democracy for America had abandoned Virginia’s gubernatorial candidate, Ralph Northam, over immigration policy, then celebrated his win days later.

“The plus of a tidal wave like this is it washes away the stains of all the campaigns,” DFA executive director Charles Chamberlain said.

4. Bernie Sanders on how to fix the Democratic party. Again no mention of anti-globalism or isolationism. Also the tone of a winner internally – implicit threats if his opponents don’t let go of their organizational grip, but very politely “inclusive”.

5. This makes explicit the blindspot I see pretty well everyone else not noticing:

Most of what Ezra Klein says is true or at least plausible. The one line summary is both accurate and obvious:

Trump can keep his base and still lose reelection in a landslide.

But what it misses is far more important. This article makes it clear the following simply has not occurred to the author.

  1. Trump is unpopular because he cannot deliver anything at all through the current GOP in Congress. Not because he has done anything to upset his base.
  2. If Trump had lost his base he might be impeached by now and would certainly not be able to get rid of the GOP incumbents in Congress who he explicitly ran against in 2016 and therefore would remain unable to do anything much and would inevitably be defeated either by the GOP or the Democrats in 2020.
  3. Consequently he has from the day of the election (months before inauguration) been totally focussed on keeping his base. Any effort to build a winning coalition would have been pointless and wasted while the GOP incumbents remain in his way.
  4. For many months “analysts” didn’t even understand that he isn’t a Republican and was rallying his base to take over the GOP. They concentrated on triumphantly celebrating the stupidity of every unpopular GOP policy he could be saddled with. This article illustrates the sheer inability to think about the different situation that will exist when he DOES start to try to build a winning coalition.
  5. Since he HAS kept his base, that situation will include a large Trumpist party in Congress whereas currently he has essentially NO party in Congress.
  6. It will also include a thoroughly divided Democratic majority in Congress, many of whom will have run and won on an opposition to GOP policies that they actually share with Trump and his base (even though they don’t know it). In particular lots of Democrats will vote in favour of big infrastructure programs, improved healthcare and reduced taxes for workers despite an increase in the deficit.
  7. The Democrats may get the credit for that, and they may win in 2020. But Trump could also get credit for it and could also win. There wasn’t any other scenario in which he could win so he is doing remarkably well.
  8. There is NO sign that his opponents have even thought things through this much, let alone having a viable strategy to counter it.

BTW the “Trump country story” linked to as one of the “best” of that (useless) genre is actually more oblivious than usual -oozing liberal bewilderment at encountering people wearing different filters.

6. Thomas Frank at the Guardian shows some actual insight:

They have been at it every day for a year now, and the literature of Trump-denunciation they have produced is enormous, a vast Alexandrine library of lamentation and deploring.

Pundits pronounce him dangerous, if not “F*cking Crazy”. They explore the depths of his stupidity. They apologize for him to Muslims. They compile long lists of the man’s falsehoods and misrepresentations. They look to the past and compare him to Hitler, to Mussolini, to Nero and Caligula. They look to the future and try to imagine the exact nature of the apocalypse the dunce will surely precipitate.

They are aghast, almost every one of them, and they compete fiercely with one another to say just how aghast they are. It is a “parade of the aghast”, as an acquaintance calls it, with all the skills of the journalist reduced to a performance of perturbation and disgust.

The parade of the aghast is the obverse of the gullible way our pundits usually contemplate American leaders – lionizing them as men of crisis, admiring their gravitas as they go from international summit to emergency bank bailout. And now the buffoon Trump has exposed it all as a fraud.

A solid year of the aghast has been a good thing overall. It’s healthy for the country to have pundits periodically choose to despise our leaders instead of honor them.

But declaring it all so ghastly isn’t going to halt these trends or remove the reprobate from the White House. Waving a piece of paper covered with mean words in Trump’s face won’t make him retreat to his tower in New York. To make him do that you must understand where he comes from, how he operates, why his supporters like him, and how we might coax a few of them away.

The parade of the aghast will have none of that. Strategy is not the goal; a horror-high is. And so its practitioners routinely rail against Trump’s supporters along with Trump himself, imagining themselves beleaguered by a country they no longer understand nor particularly like.

They denounce people who tell the truth about how the Democratic party operates on the grounds that such knowledge is an “obstacle” to anti-Trump efforts.

A year of this stuff, and never has mainstream opinion journalism seemed so inconsequential, so powerless to envision anything useful about our national predicament.

Look at the grand sweep of history: this is an angry, populist age, and with every year – with every little tightening of the inequality index – it grows angrier and more populist still. To the satisfied and comfortable American pundit class, these are alien and deplorable sentiments, and so they fall back on high-decibel moral aghastitude. They scold and they scold and they scold. But if they really want to send Trump and the Republicans packing, they will make an effort to understand.

That’s a good start. But “they” will never make an effort to understand. “We” need to understand and help angry people replace the system that angers them and is aghast at them rather than trying to reconcile them to it or leaving them to Trump.

7. Meanwhile, Time bewildered that Trump’s chief of staff doesn’t follow Trump’s tweets.

Isn’t EVERYBODY required to be completely distracted and aghast about them?

But LA Times isn’t bewildered. It simply tells Trump’s Chief of Staff to face reality and concentrate on those tweets which have “real consequences” in the world inhabited by LA Times.

Not paying attention to Donald Trump’s tweets is a luxury all of us wish we could indulge in more often! But the White House has been clear whatever he posts constitutes official statements. So perhaps Kelly could come back on down to reality town, where there are real consequences whenever the guy decides to take his 280 characters out for a spin.

[L.A. Times]
Now just dumping old links again. I have a ridiculous number of open windows.

8. “Do Trump’s Liberal Critics Increasingly Seem Unhinged?”

YES! Ok, I have sufficiently lost objectivity to continue spending hours each day on it since I was first struck by how unhinged they seemed on election day. But it IS my impression that they are actually getting MORE unhinted as time passes.

Here’s a liberal blog analysing a nutter trumpist conspiracy blog to convince itself that the attention it pays to nutters isn’t nutty and that the liberals responding to Trump having said stupid things about an opponent drinking water doesn’t make them responding in kind look similar:
9. Some insight into the bubbles and filters:
But seems to hope for a return to the happy medium rather than for both ends to wake up.

10. Christie admits he was surprised that Trump remained in “campaign mode” after winning election. No wonder he was immediately removed from the transition team. Did he seriously imagine they can govern without first successfully campaigning to obtain a party in Congress?
11. Trump tweets about particular companies causing major stock price fluctuations in particular stocks he singles out despite the overall pre-crisis eerily low volatility levels:
Now if they stopped looking for Russians and instead tracked down connections between Trump associates with possible prior knowledge of tweets and traders who make money from them they might get somewhere…

12. Wikileaks communicating with Donald Trump Jr by unencrypted twitter messages once again proves how dumb the conspirators are!
(Doesn’t even bother to explain the necessary intermediate step – in  order to conceal the fact that they were both secretly conspiring with Russian intelligence they have cunningly communicated publicly to confuse everybody, just like Trump openly begged Russians to find Clinton’s emails to hide the fact that he was colluding with Russians in stealing DNC emails. That level of subtlety doesn’t need to be explained. The overiding principle is that they are all really really dumb and so the nightmare will be over soon).

The New Yorker gets back on message:
(Goes straight to the heart of the matter. No point claiming that Assange and wikileaks are dumb conspirators. The point has to be that Donald Trump and his associates/family are dumb conspirators).

The law here is somewhat murky…”

But not for CNN:
If we can’t prove collusion with Russian intelligence then lets try to ramp up indignation about collusion with wikileaks.

(If it isn’t actually illegal to receive and exploit information about the Clinton campaign rigging the Democrat primaries then it damn well ought to be!)

13. Long thoughtful analysis by Frank Rich in NY magazine.
I think he gets it right about Trumpists wiping out GOP and bigger danger from what follows Trump.

Writes off a third of Americans as “authoritarian mindset”. (Perhaps true, perhaps far larger than one third).

But his answer? …. CELEBRITIES

The liberal elites who continue to argue that Democrats can win by meeting Trump voters halfway don’t seem to realize that those intransigent voters have long been hardwired to despise them. William Rusher, the publisher of National Review who tracked Wallace with admiration in the 1970s, presciently envisioned a GOP that allied workers and the party’s corporate donors against what he called “a new class” of “essentially nonproductive” Americans like academics, the news media, and government workers. That’s the exact Trump–Fox News–Breitbart culture war we have today.

The Democrats’ growing demographic advantages mean nothing if their voters stay home. Those who didn’t vote in 2016 have to be given a reason to turn out in 2020 with the same fervor that Trump instilled in rural white Trumpists. The party might have to fight celebrity with celebrity. The novelty polls favoring the fantasy candidacies of Oprah Winfrey and Dwayne Johnsonshouldn’t be dismissed as a joke. After Trump, no one can question a show-business star’s qualifications (or almost anyone’s) to be president; some of them could deliver a political message with more conviction than the professional politicians in either party. And the Democrats may well have to fight anger with anger. The rage of the Trumpists will intensify in direct proportion to Trump’s downfall, which will surely be attributed within Trumpism’s ecosystem to a Mueller–Clinton–Goldman Sachs deep-state conspiracy. That anger will be further inflamed by the economic insecurity that will continue to afflict most Americans as long as the inequality compounded for decades in the age of globalization remains unaddressed and unchecked. The Democrats can’t respond with the usual ten-point policy prescriptions culled from the comfortable platitudes of a liberal think tank.

Looking to the future in his 60 Minutes White House exit interview, Bannon said, “The only question before us” is whether it “is going to be a left-wing populism or a right-wing populism.” And that is the question, he added, “that will be answered in 2020.” Give the devil his due: He does have the question right. But there is every reason to fear that our unending civil war will not be resolved by any election anytime soon in the destabilized America that Trump will leave behind.

(Clearly the “left wing populism” this “elite” proposes to mobilize are assumed to be at least as prone to authoritarian demogaguery from celebrity TV stars as the Trumpists).

14. Correct analysis that Trump has effectively forced GOP in Congress to legalize the “Dreamers”.

15. Democrat demanding that GOP stop Trump.
Sort of spoiled by smug admission at the end that whichever way the GOP goes the Democrats (“America”) wins.

16. This is NOT a sendup of a liberal blogger pathetically unable to cope with weak irony. It is REAL:
17. Meanwhile items about the wealth of billionaires are sneaking into my daily feed of Trump news.

This article and its links below are worth careful study:

The three richest people in the US – Bill Gates, Jeff Bezos and Warren Buffett – own as much wealth as the bottom half of the US population, or 160 million people.
(link to .pdf report within – really bizarre)
Here’s the UBS Billionaires report for download:
UNCTAD calling for coordinated fiscal expansion:
(Includes LOTS of discussion of rentier capitalism)

On that note I’ll go back to studying economics…

Whoops… I meant to publish this last Tuesday or so but have accidentally left it as a draft. Been busy on economics so haven’t got much to add except old links and will leave those for now and get above out.


Celebrating the Russian revolution

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Eye-witness accounts

The terrible conditions inherited by the Bolsheviks from Tsardom

The specific achievements under socialism

Homeless children 1927

‘Comrade’ Coal in the hands of the people

Baku oil fields

Women in Muslim-dominated parts of the Soviet

Basis laid for rapid industrialisation in first Five Year Plan

* * * *

The Russian revolution may be 100 years old but reactionaries of all stripes, if they must see it at all, want to see it dead and rotting. In this state its use to them is in glorifying its actual and putative failures and turning a blind eye to its successes.

If the communists and their allies were able to achieve what they did in such backward conditions, what is that saying about the bourgeoisie today? Slovenly, past their use by date and basically backward (lift your game or get out of the way!)

Bourgeois leadership may have been fine against the feudalists. However it was pretty pathetic in Russia and China – to the point where the proletarian parties had to do it for them and did a vastly better job in the process. This last point is an irony of significance. And that’s the point about the advances of the 1920’s in the USSR: they need to ‘live’ and be exciting for us now – and be used as a contemporary point of comparison.

‘It is true. There was a failure. However, it was not of communism, but rather of an attempt to sustain a path towards it when its preconditions were absent. Russia in 1917 and virtually all the “communist” regimes established mid-century were essentially backward pre-capitalist societies. Most people were peasants rather than proletarians, and they were more interested in land for the tiller than social ownership.

‘There was little modern industry and thinking was more medieval than modern. They had not passed through the capitalist stage, which is necessary for a successful communist revolution. As the experience of other backward countries shows, even getting capitalism off the ground under these circumstances is hard enough, let alone a society that aims to supersede it’.*

* * * *

Eye-witness accounts

In browsing on the topic of the Russian revolution, I came across a 40 page pamphlet, Women in Russia. It was published by the Communist Party of Great Britain in 1928 and reveals some of the changes and improvements in everyday life for women in Russia in the short space of ten years after the revolution.

women in russia

Karl Marx once said that you can measure the progress of a society by looking at the condition of women within it and that great social changes were not possible without ‘the feminine ferment’. I think he was – and is – right.

The pamphlet is the report by a group of five English women who visited Russia on the occasion of the revolution’s first decade to see what was happening. They were Beth Turner, Rose Smith, Lily Webb, Fanny Deakin and Florence Maxwell.

I can’t find out much about them individually, except for Fanny Deakin who at some point in time joined the Communist Party. Fanny was also a graduate with distinction from the ‘University of Life and Hard Knocks’. The Working Class Movement Library outlines her story thus:

Fanny Deakin (1883–1968) was a lifelong activist from Silverdale in the North Staffordshire coalfield. Of the five children born to her marriage with Noah Deakin, only one survived into adulthood.  This experience, typical of that of many working class communities, led to lifetime campaigning for better maternity services.  But her political involvement incorporated membership of the Independent Labour Party, the Labour Party and, later, the Communist Party.  Her political experience was shaped by disputes in local collieries and, above all, by the 1926 General Strike where Fanny was involved in leading processions, holding protests and speaking at large gatherings. Her motivation was summed up as ‘Fighting for the Mothers’.

The five women visited Leningrad, Moscow, Kharkov and Baku in order to learn about health services, kindergartens, birth control and abortion. They also visited coalfields in the Don Basin and the newly developed oilfields in Azerbaijan. Their trip was funded by local collections in England.

If you want to know why so many working class people around the world were pro-communist or pro-Soviet back then, before the restoration of capitalism in the Soviet Union and the development of today’s openly authoritarian oligarchy, ‘Women in Russia’ is one among many eye-witness accounts that helps explain the reasons.

Women had fought in the revolution and in the civil war. During the latter, for instance, 14,000 women took part in the military defence of Leningrad against the ‘White’ army forces of the anti-communist anti-Semite General Yudenich.

Women’s liberation from feudal autocracy was a promise of the revolution, and it was certainly achieved.


The terrible conditions inherited by the Bolsheviks from Tsardom

In the decade after the Bolshevik-led victory, many foreign delegations visited to see for themselves what was happening, including some from the United Kingdom, which was geographically close and had a great militant working class socialist tradition of its own.

Could the seizure of state power by the Bolsheviks, the redistribution of land and the taking over of the principal means of production by the workers, lead to anything good? It’s amazing what was achieved so quickly, given the obstacles.

The mass poverty and suffering under Tsarist autocracy was bad enough – the Bolshevik-led government in 1917 was starting off under terrible socio-economic conditions. Russia was very backward economically with little industry.

And then, with the revolution’s success, a civil war instigated by the anti-communists in Russia and supported militarily by more than a dozen western governments made things extremely difficult for the new socialist government. About 8 million people were killed in the civil war, for which responsibility lay with the instigators. In the areas controlled by the anti-communist ‘White’ armies, such as the Ukraine, massacres were carried out by the ‘Whites’ against communists and Jews.

On top of that, Britain and its War allies blockaded Russia from 1918 to 1920, making trade (and the wealth arising from it) impossible.

In 1921, to make matters even worse (if that were possible), lack of rainfall led to famine.

Yet, under conditions of social ownership based on workers’ control, with production geared to social need rather than private profit, much progress was achieved.


The specific achievements under socialism

The five English women properly contrasted the things they saw and experienced in Russia in 1927 to what they understood about conditions prior to the revolution:

In comparison with pre-revolution standards and conditions, the lot of the workers and peasants has improved almost beyond belief and is still on the upgrade.

Among the changes introduced by the Soviet government that particularly impressed the women were:

Equal pay for equal work enforced.

Laws against child labour. No child under 14 could be employed and those aged between 14 and 16 could not work more than four hours a day.

Allowance for single mothers. Unheard of in Tsarist times, the revolutionary government compelled fathers to pay one-third of their income in child support.

Birth control information was freely available and ‘secret abortion’ (what we would call ‘backyard abortion’) was countered by the provision of ‘skilled medical assistance’.

Workers’ committees established in each factory to make decisions, including the power to recall foremen and bosses. (In the Rabotchi textile factory which the women visited, the factory committee was dominated by women workers. The factory employed 5,750 workers and was previously owned by English capitalists. Under workers’ control, the factory abolished the humiliating practice of fines for lateness and introduced a medical clinic, crèche and kindergarten, subsidised meals, study groups, a library, games, sporting activity and a theatre).

Reduction of the working day from 10-and-a-half hours to 8 hours, with plans to reduce it to 7 hours in 1928. (This happened in January 1929).

Child care. Any workplace with more than 40 workers had to provide a crèche for the children of parents in the factory (paid for by the industry). Larger factories had kindergartens as well.

Free health care, including dentistry, introduced, with a program of new clinics and hospitals being built in cities and towns.

Expansion of maternity hospitals – 12,221 new ones built between 1917 and 1927.

– ‘Mother and child institutes’ set up to provide pre- and post-natal care.

– Conversion of the mansions and palaces of the rich into ‘rest homes’ for the workers.

Maternity leave. Workers received two months leave on full pay plus an allowance for staying at home to nurse the baby for nine months.

– Attachment of vocational schools to some large factories.

– Provision of rent-free accommodation for workers in places where factories owned the residences.

Free travel on public transport for workers who lived far from their workplaces.

– Programs introduced to improve health and safety in the workplaces, such as regular health checks, ventilation, drinking fountains and appropriate work clothing.

Expansion of formal education. In 1914, there were seven million children at primary school. In 1927, there were 10 million. In 1914, Russia had 90 universities. In 1927, there were 136.

Consumer co-operatives. Retail shops set up, with 15 million share-holders, along with state shops, accounted for 80% of business transactions.

* * * *

Homeless children

The ‘big enduring problem’ observed by the women in Russia was ‘one of the biggest problems’: homeless children. These were children ‘orphaned by war, famine and blockade’. The issue had been taken up by Lenin’s wife, Krupskaya, and was, in part, a cultural problem. The children ‘prefer to roam about in bands… the wanderlust is in their blood’.

The state was trying to assist them, however, and the five women visited a former monastery that was now being used as a home for vagrant children. The chapel was still being used for religious purposes.

‘Comrade’ Coal in the hands of the people

As some of the women came from coal mining families and areas, they were also able to compare with the situation in England, as they experienced it. They visited two coal mines in the Don Basin and were favourably impressed. The Russian miners, for instance, worked a 6 hour day or an 8 hour day depending on the depth at which they worked underground. Under the Tsar, it was either 10-and-a-half or 12 hour day.

The mine workers enjoyed a month off each year, on full pay, whereas in England, the women said, coal miners dreaded holidays as it meant financial hardship. Fanny Deakin knew this from experience, as her husband was a coal miner.

Mine workers mostly lived in new housing developments, which the women said were based on the ‘English garden cities’, near the mines.

Under workers’ control, every pit-yard had a medical clinic and health-and-safety inspectors were brought in, for the first time. Medical treatment was free – an impossibility under the old order.

Work gear was also supplied free of charge, and mine workers retired at the age of 55 on a pension. When in between jobs, miners received ‘generous’ unemployment insurance.

Unlike under capitalism, coal production was increasing in the Soviet Union because of modernisation, not because of the workers being compelled to work faster.

Experts from Germany were recruited by the Soviet government to assist with new mines that were being sunk and the construction of power plants to supply electricity to areas that had lacked it.


Baku oil fields

The women visited part of the Baku oil field, and this is what they experienced:

In Baku we saw oilfields of enormous extent. They cover over a hundred square miles. Oil is exported from here to India, France, Britain, Italy, Turkey, Persia and America, and the wells now dug will last for fifty years.

Fabulous wealth is represented in this wonderful oilfield, and it is easy to see why it is coveted by the British capitalists.

On our way, we saw the place where the British General Thomas set fire to several oil tanks in 1917, when he was compelled to retreat. He blew up many buildings and a large part of the population.

When capitalists owned the oilfield, the workers were housed in mud huts without windows — places that reminded us of the middens in some of our English slums.

Now, 20,000 men are employed erecting houses. On one estate alone, accommodation has been provided for 10,000 families. Rents average 1s. 6d. a week, and each group of houses has an up-to-date wash-house and each estate its own social club for recreation.

The houses are built in family flats on the American style, each with its verandah… Gas, electricity and heating are all free. The average wage is about 35s. a week.

The workers have, in addition, many benefits from social insurance for which there are no deductions from their wages. When they are ill, they receive full pay for a month. Women get eight roubles a month (4s. a week) for nine months while nursing a baby, and 30 roubles (£3) at their confinement. At death, 45 roubles (£4 10s.) is paid for funeral expenses.


Women in Muslim-dominated parts of the Soviet

The report says:

It was in their work amongst the Eastern peoples, particularly the women, that the Bolsheviks encountered some of their most serious difficulties.

A backward and illiterate population, bound by superstition, religion and prejudice to keep its women in a state of seclusion, hidden from the eyes of men, bought and sold like cattle, subject to the whims and wishes of their husbands, had to be made to realise that the revolution had come, bringing with it freedom for women as well as men.

Under the influence of Bolshevik organisers tens of thousands of Eastern women threw off the “parandjak,” a hideous black veil of horsehair they had previously been compelled to wear when walking abroad, and dared to show their faces unveiled.

Although this was but a symbol of their new-found freedom, it was strenuously resisted by the priests and wealthy peasants. Women were beaten, in some cases to death, and murder and violence were frequent. Some of the organisers themselves met their death at the hands of the infuriated men.

Laws had to be passed for the protection of women who dared to unveil themselves, and funds were raised for the relief of the families of those who were killed during the campaign.

In spite of these difficulties the work progressed, and Eastern women are being drawn into the work of the co-operatives, the factories and even of the Soviets. In 1926-7 some 951,812 Eastern women took part in the elections to the rural Soviets, and 36,258 were elected as members of the Soviets.


Basis laid for rapid industrialisation in first Five Year Plan

The progress made in the first decade laid the basis for the first Five Year Plan adopted in 1928, which saw further rapid progress in the economic and social realms. The successes of the first 5 Year Plan influenced US President Roosevelt’s decision to officially recognize the Soviet Union in 1933.



Hand on Heart Halloween Citizenship Birtherism

The current absurdities seem to primarily result from the following:

1. The absolute contempt with which Parliament and the people regard each other. It is generally accepted that almost any amendment to the Constitution proposed by Parliament will be rejected by the people. This is described as Australia having a very rigid Constitution, the language of which must therefore be interpreted creatively by the High Court to keep it up to date. In fact we have a Constitution that is very easy to amend. It just requires a simple majority at a referendum, not two-thirds or three-quarters or any other such difficulty. It also requires a simple majority in each of a simple majority of States, which could result in a proposal unpopular in smaller States being defeated despite a popular majority. This is intentional but unimportant as Australia is exceptionally homogenous. If it ever became a real problem it could be overcome by a “creation of peers” as with the British House of Lords, i.e the bigger States could temporarily divide themselves into multiple small States each with a larger population than Tasmania and then carry a change to that entrenched provision. But it has not been a problem. The frozen Constitution results from Parliament not proposing necessary changes, not from any rigidity.

2. Despite having such an easily amended Constitution, the Parliament has never put to the people anything the people would accept concerning Australia’s Constitutional relations with Britain. Instead various Parliaments (national, State and British) carried various “Australia Acts” none of which could amend the Constitution without consent of the people. The High Court has pretended that at some unknown date Britain, New Zealand and other dominions mentioned in the Constitution became “foreign”. The alternative would have established an absurdly anachronistic distinction between Australians of “British” origin and those “wogs” of other origins such as Greek, Italian etc.

3. But the distinctions they made are as nonsensical as those they avoided. Dual and multiple citizenships are a natural development of immigration, multiculturalism and globalism. Any provisions at all concerned with “dual allegiance” are completely anachronistic. But instead of Parliament routinely fixing anachronistic provisions through simple referenda as was done regarding Aboriginals, the High Court has taken it upon itself to usurp the functions of the legislature established by the Constitution for amending it – the referendum of the people. Given a complete absence of interest in politics among the people, the Parliament and Courts can get away with this, treating apathy as acquiescence. As soon as people actually care, such usurpation of popular sovereignty would be unsustainable.

4. Much of the commentary demonstrates even greater ignorance of the law, the High Court decisions, and the history of the democratic revolution in English speaking countries than that of the learned judges themselves, so I may just be adding to that confusion, but I am struck by a couple of points. I have at least read the latest judgments which is unusual.

5. As far as I can make out the Court of Disputed Returns is invalidly constituted. It is a Parliamentary tribunal performing Parliamentary functions until the Parliament otherwise provides. This should be just as much separated from justices of the High Court exercising the judicial power as any executive administrative tribunal, according to very clear precedents. Getting bogged down in this stuff helps illustrate why that separation of the judiciary from executive or legislative administration is important. So it is about time somebody with an interest at stake put them out of their misery by giving the High Court an opportunity to declare itself free from having to deal with this stuff. If anybody actually cared they would sue disqualified members under the Common Informers Act and there would be multiple layers to go through before anything arrived at the High Court.

6. As far as I can make out, the High Court has decided that Britain is a “foreign power” and decided many years ago that its subjects are “aliens” unless Australian citizens. Whether or not that makes any sense at all, it does not settle the issue of whether Australian citizens who are not aliens are or are not “entitled to the rights or privileges of a subject or citizen of a foreign power”. On the face of it that question is firmly settled by the 1948 Nationality Acts in both Britain and Australia as agreed on by an imperial conference. These clearly and unambiguously provide that Australian citizens are “British subjects”. If so, then proof of Australian citizenship, is in itself, in the absence of some renunciation of being a British subject, proof of disqualification. As far as I can make out this point has never been considered, let alone settled. It is hard to predict under what obfuscation legislation declaring Australian citizens to be British subjects could be interpreted as enabling them to renounce that status while remaining Australian citizens, let alone somehow ensuring that they have implicitly done so unless they happen to have British parents or whatever.

7. There was no Australian citizenship until 26 January 1949. A large majority of Australians of my generation and older were and are British subjects – subjects of a foreign power. Not just those with parents who were born in Britain but also anyone who is an Australian citizen including those born in Australia as Australians going back to the first fleet (perhaps excluding Aborigines if desperately TRYING to be obstreperous). This is well known. Unless the foreign power, Britain, has deprived these Australians of their British status by some subsequent legislation then they and their descendants have the same entitlement to the rights of a subject of a (British) foreign power as those recently disqualified. This has nothing to do with where their parents were born. If their parents were “British to their bootheels” like Menzies, then they are in the same position as other descendants of such “foreigners”. 

8. So all perhaps except unnaturalized immigrant wogs need to get legal advice about the effect of British legislation on whether they are “foreign”. The history of British nationality law is extremely complex. For example under the Sophia Naturalization Act of 1705 certain people born outside Britain before it was repealed by the 1948 Act are British by birth. These protestant descendants of Princess Sophia, Electress of Hanover are of course disqualified by s.44 of the Australian Constitution (and also in line to become King of Queen of Australia). Prince Frederick of Prussia and Crown Prince Alexander of Yugoslavia are examples. Prince Ernst Augustus of Hanover was found to be a British subject in 1957. His British by birth immediate descendants would be less than 60 years old today. Who knows what descendants of such people might be lurking in the Australian Houses of Parliament? Yet the proposed declarations by Australian politicians concerning their potential disqualifications do not ask for any belief they might have either as to whether they are protestant or whether they could be descended from Princess Sophia. The potential for dual allegiance in this situation is appalling!

7. Since the High Court has gone rogue and has also blocked the appeals to the Privy Council provided by the Constitution, it may be impossible to avoid the absurdity of most Australians being British “foreigners” without action by Her Majesty’s British Ministers and the imperial Privy Council or imperial legislation to resolve the matter. 

8. Of course the history of the democratic revolution in English speaking countries requires that any such change to the Australian Constitution be approved by the consent of the Australian people at a referendum. However that history does NOT require that the referendum by initiated by either colonial parliaments (now States) nor the Federal Parliament (possibly invalidly constituted) and certainly not by High Court judges nominated by persons purporting to be Ministers of the Crown who were not in fact Ministers. It would be entirely consistent with our constitutional history for such a referendum to be initiated by the Crown on the advice of its responsible Ministers. 

9. These responsible Ministers could turn out to be Her Majesty’s British Ministers (especially if none of the people purporting to be her Australian Ministers were qualified as members of Parliament within 3 months of their appointment as required by the Constitution). Illusions about the reserve powers of the Crown are just that, illusions, as the House of Lords discovered when it had to capitulate to the Commons or be flooded with a “creation of peers” by the Crown on the advice of its Ministers. The basic principles were established when Charles Stuart had his head removed from his royal shoulders without his royal assent and have not been challenged since they were re-established by a Dutch protestant army in 1688.

8. No Court will inquire into whether the descendants of Queen Victoria are or are not descendants of Princess Sophia so we are constitutionally safe. No doubt a solution will be found and no doubt it will continue to be easy to mock.

9. So will all the “un-Australian” fussing about nationality and allegiance remain easy to mock. It is clearly as much an American import as Halloween, along with a Prime Minister putting his hand on his heart for a “national anthem” celebrating that “our land is girt by sea”. 

10. It is particularly fascinating that nobody seems to have noticed the DIRECT parallel with the “birther” campaign mounted by first the Clinton camaign and then Trump against Obama demanding proof that he was born in Hawaii rather than Kenya. (As a “Goldwater girl” Hilary will remember the Democrat precedent based on 1964 GOP candidate Barry Goldwater having been born in the Arizona Territory before it became a State of the United States and therefore not being a natural born Citizen).

Notes on Trump 14

1. A “chaired” Professor:
Only an assumption that academics like this never do anything would justify not expecting this guy’s delusionary politics and hatred for the ignorant rabble to not result in him getting involved in some conspiratorial attempt to impose a more “democratic” dictatorship by force.

That assumption is reasonable. During the George W Bush administration and Iraq war, the fringe Democrat blogosphere (closely allied with the paleocon opposition to the war) was full of more “insurrectionary” talk, although less inclined to openly blame the people as their delusions were about them leading the people, rather than the intelligence agencies to rise up and overthrow the government. They were merely expressing their impotence and their open threats against democracy never needed to be treated seriously.

An academic like this probably doesn’t even have delusions of being taken seriously. But its noticeable that he is being published in “The Conversation” which aims to have academics taken more seriously than the popular media.

2. Perceptive article on Democrat dilemma:

Try as they might, Democrats will find it impossible to stick to an economics-only script ahead of the 2018 midterm and 2020 general elections. It would be foolish even to try.

The analysis of current contest for Virginia makes. Sense. The final conclusion I have highlighted is perplexing as there is no clear call for a split from the Democrats.

Perhaps it just reflects ruling class inclination in favour of stirring up both sides of “culture wars” to keep people from uniting against them.

3. Bloomberg analysis of Republican 2020 primary challenge to Trump
Not thinking in terms of a split following mid-terms.

Not mentioned that owner Bloomberg himself could be a potential GOP globalist candidate if Democrats go anti-globalist.

4. More on Virginia race from Bloomberg:
If they win (as usual in Virginia) it will help entrench this approach of trying to out shout their opponents and help them lose elsewhere. If they unexpectedly lose I doubt that they will learn any more than they did from Clinton loss. Would reinforce their despair and hostility to the “deplorables” that won’t vote for them.

[Update, as expected Democrats won]

5. Bloombert on why Netanyahu imitates Trump
Remains puzzled about it because thinks Netanyahu is a “master strategist” and Trump is not. Both are skilled ruling class populist demagogues in a situation where mainstream politics has demonstratively failed.

6. Bloomberg explanation that the GOP style features in current tax bill that are unpopular (and hence also Democrat focus) are likely to be dropped. That is also my assumption. Just part of the pretense that they aren’t  approving a massively increased deficit which is in fact what Trump wants and needs. When they are taken out you get less GOP incumbent support, more GOP donor hostility, less public hostility and a better economic climate for Trump and Trumpists to win in.

8. Remarkably silly analysis of Putin’s international situation from Bloomberg:
Starts off right that there is a vastly exaggerated impression of Russian strength despite actual weakness.

But analysis of Syria assumes Putin wanted and wants to stay there rather than helping end it.

And analysis of Crimea/Ukraine forgets that the actual reality was a massive detachment of the Ukraine from close relations with Russia to become part of the West and a relatively minor disruption to that by the (inevitable) recovery of Crimea by Russia and the damaging support for separatism in Russian minority regions of Ukraine. The latter has indeed been popular domestically and is indeed overall damaging in long term. But omitting the context of a massive defeat rather than aggressive advance into Ukraine reflects the very exaggeration of Russian strength that the article starts off pointing out.

9. Bizarre analysis of Mueller indictments:
All it takes is some mouthing off against Mueller by raving lunatic entertainer Alex Jones of Infowars and some milder shouting in same direction from Fox news Trumpists to convince this “analyst” that Mueller is going to save them from Trump despite NO actual evidence of this.

Expect more intense fireworks from Trumpist side to keep them distracted if the hope fades and they show any signs of slackening their obsession about Russia and actually thinking about American politics. At some point Alex Jones et al may not be enough to keep them fired up and Trump himself may need to step in with something they can really get their teeth into. An unannounced secret meeting between Trump and Putin would probably be enough to tip them over the edge. Follow up with a hamburger dinner for Kim Jong-il.

10. At last a rallying cry that Democrats can really get behind and lose even the mid-terms with:

“What do we want, more regulations! When do we want them, now! Defend the Federal Bureaucracy!”

11. Wow! Some readers of The Atlantic actually tried to engage with a writer there about his Trump obsession and he actually tried to respond seriously…

(If this starts happening more widely there should end up being widespread agreement that a very different political system is badly needed as the current “politics” makes no sense whatever.)

12. Satire from New Yorker. Not bad sendup of liberal fantasies. Not brilliant, but not bad enough that it could be aimed elsewhere. But in the New Yorker? How can they send themselves up while also continuing …

13. Excellent article from Taibbi in Rolling Stone:

Division does make money, but beyond that, it’s highly political. It’s an ancient technique of elites, dividing populations into frightened and furious camps so as to more easily control them. When people are scared enough and full enough of hate, they will surrender their rights more quickly.

It’s not an accident that as the right-left divide has grown in this country, we’ve gradually given up on almost every principle that used to define us, collectively, as Americans. We surrendered our rights to privacy, failed to protest vast expansions of federal power (including to classify the inner workings of our own government – our government), stopped requiring due process to jail people and closed our eyes to torture and assassination and all sorts of other atrocities.

This was made easier first because conservatives were convinced liberals were in league with terrorists, and more lately because progressives have been told Trump and his like are in league with Russians. Mutual hatred and fear has made us much more easily disenfranchised.

14. Despite total focus on getting rid of Trump opponents in GOP it is still possible Democrats could actually remain a minority party in the House after mid-terms.

15. Guardian just bleating that election was rigged. Not even pretending to have a plan beyond bleating:

16. CNN A year out from the election, Trump remains unpopular, as do the Democrats, the Republicans and Congress.

17. I’m confused by a response to Notes 11:


Arthur I do think that I try to analyse what is going on and what is going on is that Republicans get elected only if they are advantaged by crooked electoral systems and politicians in the US generally only get elected if they align themselves with wealthy vested interests, that’s why most people want tax reform but they will get a tax rip off, that’s why most people want decent health reform but they get at best Obama care, that’s why most people want more restrictive gun control reform but they get, no reform, none, zip, nada. The Virginian Gubernatorial election was widely seen as a referendum on Trump and Trump backed Gillespie and Gillespie backed Trump (eventually) and Gillespie lost by almost 9% and this was an essentially democratic process. In 2013 the Republican candidate for Governor lost by 3% now with President Trumps help and riding the Trump wave that margin has blown out to 9%

 This follows my reply apparently quoting my “[Update, as expected Democrats won]” in para 4 above.

I thought this whole draft post was still unpublished and therefore invisible so am not sure what is going on.

Anyway I have trashed the comment from Notes 11 and quoted it here in current post instead although I still don’t see any attempt at analysis worth responding to.

18. This looks like confirmation of my analysis that Democrats sweeping victories likely to make them even more inclined to their present strategy:
(Which could result in them stuck with a House majority committed to impeachment with no hope of success in Senate and faced with a completely Trumpist GOP mobilizing for 2020 with the same anger that got Dems turning out for these quarter terms and a completely plausible account that the only to unblock Washington is to remove obstructionist Democrats now that obstructionist GOP has already been dealt with.) 

19. CNN analysis that Trump won’t even face a serious challenge at 2020 primaries.

If they mean that any challenge will fail, that is plausible.

But I would expect there will be a VERY serious challenge intended to split and establish a new GOP that would throw the 2020 election to the Democrats.

The never Trumpist Republicans aren’t going to join either wing of the Democrats with their present outlooks and aren’t going to stay in Trump’s GOP or just quit politics. So I think they have to split and run a candidate just aiming to defeat Trump. (Assuming the Democrats don’t run a candidate they cannot even prefer to Trump again).

But if I am wrong and CNN is right then a united angry Trumpist GOP running against split Democrats demoralized after having got nowhere with a House majority for 2 years seems an easy win on turnout for Trump in 2020.

20. More on Democrat celebrations and inclinations to just keep going the same way they have been:
21. Even celebrating the fact that Trump’s opponents in GOP are likely to retire from politics making it easier to swing their seats to Democrat in mid-terms (and easier for a Trumpist to take it back in 2020).

Notes on Trump 13

1. Uptick in GOP primary voters gallup approval since indictments! Republicans 83%, Conservative Republicans 87% (day 285, Oct 30 to Nov 5). Why on earth do people imagine Trump wants media to stop their bizarre carry on about Russia when it so clearly helps consolidate his base and must eventually end up irritating others when it does eventually come to nothing? The closer to elections it implodes, the better off he will be. Expect some fireworks to try and keep it going despite any efforts by Mueller to wrap it up.

CNN’s report on their own polling for same period confirms big deal for the week was the indictments. Report focuses on ongoing decline in Trump’s overall approval (ie increasing hysteria among Democrats).
Has link to full results which confirm same 83% Republican approval as gallup.

Meanwhile Aaron Blame reports wapo polling that shows Hilary Clinton even less popular than Trump and that he would probably win a re-run of 2016 election if held now. Presumably a hint to Democrats that they still haven’t actually got an alternative and will lose again if they don’t get one fast.
2. Interesting article from Bernie Sanders in La Times:

Illustrated with photo of Bernie surrounded by supporters opposing offshoring jobs.
Bernie’s article itself does NOT promote anti-globalization. Focus is entirely on issues that a traditional social democrat would naturally espouse. Only a straw in the wind. But if Sanders wing positions itself this way it could attract Republican globalists as well as many Trumpist workers and traditional Democrats and be a very viable option in 2020 elections (or even in 2018 mid-terms). Conservative globalists are going to have to go somewhere and they also know they are going to have to accept a lot more concessions to workers whereas GOP incumbents seem to just not get it. (Historically conservatives have made the necessary concessions to workers themselves as well as via Social Democrats eg “one nation” Tories extended the franchise to British workers before the Liberals were wiped out by Labor party.

Also worth noting, but not new, Bernie’s denunciations of Trump are largely based on what GOP wants/does. If, as I expect, Trump smashes GOP and pushes healthcare for all, tax cuts that aren’t just for the 1%, infrastructure program etc, there will be a LOT of commonality. In a 3 or 4 way deadlocked Electoral College it could be VERY hard for Sanders wing to support a Clintonite against Trump. If they also preserve their credibility by not actually swinging the vote to Trump then the Electoral College deadlock would still throw the election to the House of Representatives voting by states, not seats. Trump would be stronger there due to smaller states being more GOP and Republicans in those States being more Trumpist, so he could win. But if he doesn’t have a majority of States, Sanders wing could win. I don’t see how Clintonites or traditional Republicans could win either in the Electoral College or the House (although of course anything is possible). If Sanders wing stops pushing anti-globalism they could swing the House of Representatives majority to vote for their President rather than traditional Republicans or Clintonites losing all credibility by voting for Trump against a Sanders wing candidate preferred by their base.

On the other hand, it is just a straw in the wind and he may not actually be following that winning strategy. A lot of Sanders popularity has been based on him being more genuinely anti-globalist and isolationist than Trump.

3. Andrew Bolt on ABC trivia:
I’m wondering whether it really is Trump hatred as Bolt claims or whether reporters are starting to send themselves up. Inane twittering and organized festivals to howl at the sky isn’t what I would normally associate with hatred.

Here’s some purely fake news presumably intended to damage Trump. But is it really? Perhaps the people making this stuff up are also doing an ironic sendup about their jobs?
4. Detailed analysis of claims about “Trump dossier” from Washington Examiner:

I don’t see anyone likely to take much interest in such detailed refutation so I suppose the breathless media accounts of “verification” still work with liberals and Democrats while the whole story just irritates Trumpists and leaves GOP incumbents helplessly paralysed. Do the people writing this stuff actually believe their own stuff? Perhaps they do. The ones just chasing ratings may be the ones also turning to sendups of themselves, while the others may be true believers who honestly think they are helping to bring down Trump by pushing a theory about Russian collusions that just isn’t going anywhere (but is also being turned against Democrats).

5. I have no idea what’s going on in Saudi Arabia or how Trump and/or US Government are relating to it.
My assumption would be that things are getting worse and will eventually collapse and that both the US Government and Trump would view that with equanimity more than bordering on enthusiasm. But I really do not know.

6. Detailed discussion of collapse of Never Trumpers in Georgia and generally:–regional-govt–politics/trump-holds-firm-grip-georgia-gop-one-year-after-his-election-win/s7yMZLq8sGOeAHaIZ6hulM/politicallygeorgia.html
Recent Congressional election returned a traditional GOP incumbent from a traditional GOP state. But very clear completely constrained by large and noisy Trumpist base among primary voters and adapting accordingly to embrace Trump. I would guess same in other safe GOP districts and States. The contested “purple” districts and States will have greater likelihood of nominating GOP candidates more appealing to Democrat voters and less Trumpist. They are also far more likely to lose to Democrats in the mid-terms. So I don’t see how anybody could expect anything other than a solidly Trumpist GOP in the House of Representatives, faced by a Democratic majority divided between Sanders supporters (mainly but not only from safe Democrat districts) and Clintonites (mainly from contested but also from some “identity” or “ethnic” districts. I assume a deadlocked Senate (neither side having 60% nor combined 50% willing to abolish the 60% rule).

So Trump gets to spend the last 2 years of his first term demonstrating that Congress remains completely disfunctional (far too busy with hopeless attempts to impeach him) and that this can only be resolved by electing more Republicans to booth Houses. Democrats who turned up angry at 2018 mid-terms likely to have become apathetic about possibility that their votes could achieve anything by 2020, while Republicans remain angry and turn out to vote…

7. Russian sanctions imposed near unanimously by Congress being seriously implemented:
Adds to the difficulties of the Democrats main tune about Russian collusion.

8. This analysis of a contested “purple” State election is useful for understanding the dynamic now at work:
So a traditional GOP incumbent goes completely overboard as the most obnoxious kind of stridently racist Trumpist in order to win primary. Democrats respond by getting more stridently hostile to Republicans and more focussed on “identity” politics.

I would expect the result to be another defeat for a GOP incumbent (posing as a Trumpist) thus avoiding more internal GOP problems for Trump, and a comfortable win for the sort of Democrat who will help the Democrats lose in 2020. Perhaps even helping them not to win in mid-terms if it results in GOP nominating a more genuine and less obnoxious Trumpist and Democrats remaining strident in a contested district (though still more likely to return a stridently obnoxious Democrat in 2018 to help Trump win in 2020). 

Guy Fawkes – Reactionary who tried to return England to the tyranny of the Pope

The Gun Powder Plot was not, in any reasonable sense of the word, revolutionary. It was counter revolutionary in the strictest interpretation. The English Reformation was a social revolution that freed Britain from Papal tyranny. Under Queen Elizabeth I, the old Norman aristocracy lost their influence in favor of the new merchant class.
I’m re-running this one for Guy Fawkes’ Day. (Sorry – a day late).


I was planning to write a piece about Guy Fawkes for 5th November but in googling some sources came across this excellent piece by Bill Dunlap that says it all from my point of view. Bill ran the piece on his blog, Grumblings from a grumpy old man, in 2008 and has kindly given me permission to republish it. Like Bill, “I cannot for the life of me figure out how Guy Fawkes became a symbol of revolution”.

guy fawkes


I cannot for the life of me figure out how Guy Fawkes became a symbol of revolution. I see all these anarchist types wandering around with their V masks, and I wonder if they even know who Guy Fawkes really is? It baffles me why a reactionary like Fawkes has been so heartily adopted by the American left. Why did the main character of V for Vendetta wear a V mask rather than a Che mask, or a Lenin mask, or even an Abbie Hoffman mask? Why Guy Fawkes, for the love of heaven?

The Gun Powder Plot was not, in any reasonable sense of the word, revolutionary. It was counter revolutionary in the strictest interpretation. The English Reformation was a social revolution that freed Britain from Papal tyranny. Under Queen Elizabeth I, the old Norman aristocracy lost their influence in favor of the new merchant class. Guy Fawkes himself was the son of an upwardly mobile middle class Protestant family. His father was a minor official in the Church of England, and his mother was the daughter of a dry goods merchant. Fawkes’s conversion to Catholicism may have stemmed from teen rebellion.

Guy Fawkes and his fellow Gunpowder Plotters wanted to destroy the new Church of England and return England to Papal control. How can this possibly be seen as revolutionary? Despite popular belief, Guy Fawkes was not the ringleader. That dubious honor went to a hereditary Catholic by the name of Robert Catesby. The Gunpowder Plot could have been thought up by Sir Edmund Blackadder. The conspirators rented a house next to the Winchester Complex, planning to mine beneath the House of Lords, pack it with gunpowder and blow it up during Parliament’s opening session. That way they could get King James, most of his court and family, and all the influential Protestant nobles. The opening of Parliament was delayed three times on account of the Black Plague, yet the tunnel was still not completed. So they rented the cellar beneath the House of Lords and stocked that with gunpowder instead.

If Robert Catesby was Blackadder, then Guy Fawkes was Baldric. Even though Fawkes knew that the plot had been revealed by a Catholic nobleman who was appalled at the plot, he tried to go through with it anyway. The guards were looking for him. They caught him in the cellar with 32 kegs of gunpowder and with fuses and matches in his pocket. He still tried to lie his way out of it. He was taken to the Tower of London and tortured while his buddies epically failed at getting away.

That was the historic Guy Fawkes. He was not the great defender of freedom as portrayed in V for Vendetta. He was an expendable flunky in a hare-brained plot to stop the wheels of progress and to return England to the “good old days” of Papal domination. The only advantage to that would have been to the Catholic nobles such as Robert Catesby, who wanted their old power and influence back. Fawkes himself became a figure of ridicule amongst the British, as shown by this rhyme.

Remember, remember the fifth of November
It’s Gunpowder Plot, we never forgot
Put your hand in your pocket and pull out your purse
A ha’penny or a penny will do you no harm
Who’s that knocking at the window?
Who’s that knocking at the door?
It’s little Mary Ann with a candle in her hand
And she’s going down the cellar for some coal

Guy Fawkes became identified with the Anarchist movement in the early 20th Century. British Anarchists put up posters with the modern stylized sketch of Fawkes, declaring that Guy Fawkes was the only man to enter Parliament with honest intent. This was, of course, using Guy Fawkes as a figure of ridicule. It was meant as a sort of black joke. Somebody lacking a sense of humor started taking the joke seriously, and the next thing we knew, we had V for Vendetta, and kids wearing Guy Fawkes masks in honor of a man who was trying to put Britain back under Papal control.

The irony is that these kids in their Guy Fawkes masks are pretty well accomplishing what Fawkes set out to do. They want to destroy government control without replacing the structures that have been destroyed. In this they actually share the same goals as their neocon opponents. The result is that money rushes in to fill the vacuum left by the lost structures. The more government is torn down, the more control falls into the hands of those who have the most money. This has been going on for twenty eight years and nobody has yet figured out that our loss of civil liberties is equal to the amount of government regulations that have been eliminated. The American left has not figured out that tearing down the government is a bad idea which will accomplish the opposite of what we want. The bad guy in V for Vendetta said at the people need to realize that the people need the government. This is very true. A dear friend of mine, who is a big V for Vendetta fan, adds that the government needs the people’s consent in order to govern. This is equally true. Government and the people exist in a symbiotic relationship. When that symbiosis fall out of balance, disasters like the present economic melt down occurs.

This leads us to the present cult of the Constitution. America has become as conservative as the conspirators of the Gunpowder Plot. The American left has not yet realized that by trying to return us to the original Constitution, they want to return us to the times when only property owners were citizens and could vote. Women were chattel, and African Americans were bought and sold like cattle. America has grown beyond those times, and trying to return us to them is only going to place Wall St. in charge of our lives. Looking backwards, even to the days of the American Revolution, is as reactionary as the Gunpowder Plot. There is also the truth that it is easier to destroy what we have in a vain attempt to make the clock move backwards, than it is to build. The more we destroy the government, the more of our civil liberties fall into the hands of Wall St. The only logical step is to rebuild the Government into what we want it to be.

This is perfectly Constitutional. The Constitution was never meant to be Holy writ, nor is it a mortal sin to change and revise it. The writers of the Constitution knew fully well that the world changes. They wrote the Constitution in order to deal with the changing conditions of their own time. They knew the world would continue to change, and built structures of change right into the Constitution. Hence the constitution was changed to allow all economic classes to vote. In 1971, Richard M. Nixon signed an amendment that changed the voting age from 21 to 18. Women won the vote in the early 20th Century. African Americans were freed by a Constitutional amendment. We have all the tools we need to change the government back into what we want it to be. All we need now is a plan.

Planning is the difference between revolutionaries like Jefferson and Burr and morons like Catesby and Fawkes. Rather than have some vague idea about returning the country to what Tom Jefferson wanted, we need a clear idea of what we want and need as a nation. There were many movements which had clear and precise goals as to what they wanted the government to be. The Labor movement, the Suffragist movement, and the Civil Rights movement are three clear examples of revolutionary movements that have changed the nation. Despite the best efforts of the neocons and their religious lapdogs, we still enjoy many of the benefits we gained from those movements.

Remember that the Constitution was written to be an instrument of the will of the people and not chains to bind us to a past age. Trying to return the Constitution to the days of the founders is like Guy Fawkes trying to return England to the tyranny of the Pope. It simply cannot be done. Maybe Guy Fawkes is really the appropriate symbol for the 21st Century American left, as they lead us to the future with their asses firmly in front of them.

A penny loaf to feed the Pope
Hip hip hoorah hoorah!
A farthing o’ cheese to choke him.
Hip hip hoorah!
Then we’ll say ol’ Pope is dead.
A pint of beer to rinse it down.
A fagot of sticks to burn him.
Burn him in a tub of tar.
Burn him like a blazing star.
Burn his body from his head.


Notes on Trump 12

1. Interesting developments on the Russian interference in US elections. Will wait for detailed studies likely after special counsel and Congressional investigations but have noticed a few news items mentioning that Russian trolls were stirring up BOTH sides of the various divisions racking USA (and other Western countries).

This fits with my impression of the liberal media helping foment such culture wars by fanning flames. No doubt the Russians generated far more on the Trumpist side than against it, but they didn’t need to do much of what it seems they HAVE been doing to help stir up the liberal side. The liberals just keep doing it anyway.

This New Yorker item is headlined “How Trump Helps Russian Trolls”, illustrated with an ad attempting to trick Clinton voters into voting by twitter instead of turning up at polls and is naturally oriented on the theme of Trump backed by Russian trolls rather than liberals ALSO helping and being helped by Russian trolls.

But it does mentions the following:

much of the material from the Russian social-media campaign was directed at sowing division in general rather than attacking a specific candidate. Senator Susan Collins told a story of how trolls seized on racist comments made by the governor of Maine to set up two phony groups, one of African-Americans protesting the governor’s comments and one of nationalists defending him. Senator Richard Burr described a devious Facebook campaign that organized a real-life duelling protest in Houston last year between supporters of Muslim rights and Texans in favor of secession. Earlier this year, Russian trolls pushed both sides of the N.F.L. debate over kneeling during the national anthem to protest police brutality toward minorities.

Also has links to other articles and mention of similar Russian stirring up conflict in Europe.

It could be well worthwhile to follow the Congressional hearings and study the material already available on this. I hope somebody does but I won’t have time and will just wait for the eventual reports.

2. Here’s a better analysis of same issue, with more info:

3. Things are hotting up in the Democratic party split. Proof now published by Donna Brazile, the DNC chair that replaced Clinton’s flunkey after the email hacks that Democrat National Committee was indeed bought and paid for by Clinton campaign while DNC was supposed to be neutral conducting primaries in which Hilary was running against Bernie Sanders.

This is the origin of the whole “Russia” story as Clintonite Dems were desperate to deflect attention from the contents of the hacked emails that indicated this onto the fact that they had been hacked and suspicion that it was Russia who did it and Trump who benefited (which he certainly did – lots of Sanders supporters didn’t vote against Trump after learning about the rigged primaries by Clinton).

Not sure if this is just “old news” or dynamite but expect it will not be highlighted by media if they can avoid it. Initial reports angle it as a Trump tweet.

the document that described it all: the Joint Fund-Raising Agreement between the DNC, the Hillary Victory Fund, and Hillary for America.

The agreement—signed by Amy Dacey, the former CEO of the DNC, and Robby Mook with a copy to Marc Elias—specified that in exchange for raising money and investing in the DNC, Hillary would control the party’s finances, strategy, and all the money raised. Her campaign had the right of refusal of who would be the party communications director, and it would make final decisions on all the other staff. The DNC also was required to consult with the campaign about all other staffing, budgeting, data, analytics, and mailings.

I had been wondering why it was that I couldn’t write a press release without passing it by Brooklyn. Well, here was the answer.

When you have an open contest without an incumbent and competitive primaries, the party comes under the candidate’s control only after the nominee is certain. When I was manager of Al Gore’s campaign in 2000, we started inserting our people into the DNC in June. This victory fund agreement, however, had been signed in August 2015, just four months after Hillary announced her candidacy and nearly a year before she officially had the nomination.

Elizabeth Warren has agreed that the primary was rigged and emphasized that Sanders supporters must be brought into DNC.

(See link within above).

This is still “breaking news” at the moment. But even if it does get buried it won’t be easy to avoid a major Democrat split before the end of Trump’s first term.

Above was yesterday (Saturday 2017-11-09). Today, Sunday, it looks like media cannot avoid talking about it since they just HAVE to respond to Trump’s tweeting.

That tweet expertly mobilizes Sanders supporters while appearing to be directed at Trumpists. The analysis links to a Trump pollster confirming that polls showed Sanders more likely to have defeated Trump. So anti-Trumpists have a LOT to be angry about, not all of which can be contained into anger at Trump when his Presidency is the direct result of other things they can actually DO something about.

This links to a twitter hashtag:

So Donna Brazile has announced she “Never Said Hilary Rigged Election” and responses are highlighting that she DID say Hilary rigged the nomination. Ditto for Warren.

Even if the general readership goes for the line that this is all about Trump and whether he can get the Justice Department to prosecute an internal Democratic party matter, that is not likely to cut much ice with the millions of Sanders supporters or prevent a Democrat party split.

Sanders and Warren are both playing it straight, expressing appropriate partisan indignation against Trump butting in, but that only strengthens them internally in fight with Clinton machine.

NPR is covering it as the equal third most important thing that happened this week. But its conclusion is:

What was revealed only reinforces for the left that there was collusion — against them. It’s only going to harden and deepen the fissures in the party that is trying to oust Republicans in Congress next year and President Trump two years after that.

If the Democratic Party doesn’t shape up, create a message and figure out — most importantly — how to unify its divergent factions, it’s going to be hard to mount a campaign to defeat a sitting president with a locked-in base.

4. Resuming dump of old links.Trump: Flake and Corker had no chance of getting re-elected

The party Trump took over in November 2016 is now purging itself of its past. It also happens to be the overwhelmingly dominant party in the United States, controlling the House of Representatives, the Senate and the White House, as well as 33 governorships and 69 out of 99 state legislatures. It reflects the new American normal far more than the Democratic Party does. And it is increasingly Trump’s party.

Trump did not rise out of nowhere to smash our norms and replace them with new ones. His successful candidacy was a reflection and enshrinement of changes in the American body politic we do not yet understand — nor does he, for that matter. But everyone distressed by the Trump phenomenon will not achieve a greater understanding of it if they continue to comfort themselves by arguing he’s not the new normal.

The question they must find an answer to is this: How can they successfully replace Trump’s new normal with a new new normal?

5. Libertarians “Reason” making similar point:

Also mentions that liberals (“the left”) have similar problem:

The left has a similar problem: Candidates like Barack Obama and Hillary Clinton have to pretend to be skeptical of or hostile to free trade to allay their base while nudging and winking to international trade partners. On immigration, Democrats have lost the current debate in large part because they’re unwilling or unable to make the economic case for liberal immigration policies, instead relying on emotional appeals that only contribute to the hyperpartisan divide.

The Trump difference is that Trump has mostly stuck to his rhetoric after the election. Establishment Republicans have long been comfortable cultivating economic ignorance and racial resentment among their base in pursuit of electoral victory and then pursuing other priorities in Washington. But eventually the base clues in to the bait-and-switch and seeks out candidates who seem less likely to compromise. What set Trump apart wasn’t his ideas so much as his perceived authenticity: He seemed like a guy who would actually follow up on that Trumpist rhetoric once in office

Paul Krugman illustrates this “Conscience of a liberal” by arguing that corporate tax cuts would benefit “foreigners” (who own 35%).

6. Bizarre headline saying GOP incumbents should call Bannon’s bluff by not folding attached to article demonstrating that there is no bluff and that they are folding.

7. Same GOP columnist has perceptive article on latest news and Democrat implosion:

8. CNN “analysis” explaining how one of Trump’s opponents giving up and quitting politics once again illustrates Trump’s utterly hopeless lack of any strategy just like the analyst has always said and will always say.

Similar from NPR, still not getting it that Trump wants a deficit that he will get from Democrats and not from his opponents in the GOP.

9. Australian Trumpist boasting that Trump attack on Green card immigration in response to recent islamo-fascist murders will win him second term. Highlights contrast with liberals twittering about “Russia”. Plausible enough. Instead of actually presenting any principled defense of immigration etc US liberals are indeed opening the way for a second term.

10. Here’s a different example of liberal twittering. Standing applause at women’s resistance conference when recent Mueller indictments announced. It gives them “hope” that there will be a “saviour from on high” and substitutes for having any actual program.

11. USA today explains the vital differences between the Clinton campaign paying foreign espionage agents to get fake “dirt” against Trump from unamed “Kremlin sources” and Trump campaign hoping to receive dirt against Clinton from Kremlin sources. One would think they would just shut up and write about something else.

(But of course there are indeed legal differences between actually paying and hoping for free gifts…)

Meanwhile Democrat lobbyist who helped Manafort launder his money from Ukraine has resigned…

Why are they so sure Mueller will not do them at least as much damage as he does to Trump? Perhaps just certainty that he is part of the swamp doesn’t actually care about Russian interference but desperately cares about getting rid of Trump. Doesn’t seem to have occurred to them that there is any other possibility.

12. Sign at anti-Trump protest rallies:

“I am sexually attracted to indictments”

13. Meanwhile readers of the Guardian and the Chicago Tribune are comforted with sheer fantasizing about how dumb Trump is:

and the certainty that if they keep on banging those rocks together they will win:

Is the Russia investigation, probably the most important ever conducted by the justice department, closer to bringing down the Trump presidency than it was a week ago? Sipher noted that his demise has been widely predicted before yet somehow he manages to survive – until the day he doesn’t.

“It’s like hitting a boulder with a hammer 1,000 times and it doesn’t break,” he said. “Then you hit it the 1,001st time and it smashes to pieces. Its hard to predict.”





Notes on Trump 11

1. Gallup approval rates were still 80% for Republicans and 84% for Conservative Republicans (day 275 of term, polled Oct 17-22).  Now 79% and 82% (day 282, Oct 23-29). Still slight decline but no risk to sweeping GOP primaries.

2. Still trying to dump links. First on indictments filed subsequent to above polls, which may affect later polls. (Summary – not likely to change my expectation of GOP dominated by Trumpists after mid-terms, House dominated by Democrats likely to impeach Trump, no chance of Senate removing from office. Scene still set for a second term as still no sign of any coherent opposition). Real impact of isolationist policies more likely in second term as Democrats also shift that way.)

3. Vanity Fair fantasizing on White House freak outs over indictments (which have been known for months). As far as I can make out there is not even a pretence at reporting from any sort of source or even at analysing anything, just pure fantasy.
4. CNN has actually noticed that Republicans “speaking out” against Trump are not planning to run for office again, confirming that GOP is becoming Trump’s party:
(I won’t bother with the far more numerous reports celebrating these attacks as though they were inflicting actual damage rather than admitting defeat).

5. Guide to code words used in media articles to describe anonymous sources.
Some are claimed to imply a credible source. Most articles I read use one of these:

People familiar with the investigation,” “U.S. officials briefed on intelligence reports,” “current and former officials familiar with the investigations,” “one current and one former American official with knowledge of the continuing congressional and F.B.I. investigations,” “Republican strategist,” “Democratic strategist,” “senior Republicans

 Article suggests even such nonsensical “sources” should be considered:

So our advice is: Read all of these vaguely sourced stories with skepticism. But if you really want to keep up with Trump’s Washington, you probably don’t have a choice but to read some stories with unnamed sources.

I can confirm that is what I am having to do. But it is to keep up with the collapse of mainstream politics, not to actually get a grip on what else is going on apart from that collapse. (eg very hard to figure out foreign policy, trade policy etc – only easy to understand the media and Democrat baiting).

6. Media wonks discussing media’s coverage of Trump:

The media has lots of problems in how it covers Trump. We’ve just scratched the surface here. But these problems are also hard to solve and figuring them out in real time is tough.

In other words they cannot help themselves and are just going to keep doing it…

7. Kim Jong-Il figures out how to get a straight report of what he actually said into the US media in full:

“Donald Trump is a rogue and a dotard (at length)”.

Will Putin catch on?

8. Dems moving towards Medicare for all:

VOX notices that Trump pushing them that way.

9. NY mag actually noticed that Trump has every incentive to push tax breaks for middle not top.

GOP incumbents who treat that as a betryal of GOP priorities won’t be back after midterms.

10. Dem ex President carter has noticed that Trump is preparing way for bipartisan immigration reform and medicare for all.

11. Dem economist hints Trump could meet his 3% growth target. Lamely suggests that will please just stock market rather than voters. Still actually noticing the danger even if unable to say it explicitly suggests some residual capacity for analysis.

12. CNN describes GOP incumbents worried that Democrats on track for House majority as “Trump allies” who are worried that Trump doesn’t understand he would then be bogged down in inquiries and impeachment. No attempt at explaining why that wouldn’t be a good outcome for winning a second term.

13. The Economist explains how the indictments could be used to pressure witnesses to expose Trump collusion with Russia. Assumes there was some despite a year of no evidence.

14. Paul Walden at the week says Trump more worried that Mueller might expose his shady financial dealings than about Russia. Sounds plausible to me. But no sign of it happening.

15. Just a reminder that Bernie Sanders opposing immigration won’t be an opportunist switch like others – that’s always been his position:

Many more to dump…