Reasonable anger is justified, and Xavier Bettel suffered it

Published by Anonymous (not verified) on Tue, 17/09/2019 - 4:41pm in


Europe, Politics

Xavier Bettel is the prime minister of Luxembourg. And yesterday he got angry. Superficially he was angry with Boris Johnson, who had refused to take part in a pre-arranged open-air press conference. But that, I am quite sure is not the whole reason for his anger. Bettel has a reputation for being easy-going and slow to anger. That he was the EU prime minister to show his frustration says something is seriously amiss.

And of course, it is. It is entirely reasonable for the member states of the EU to be angry with the UK. Our ministers have proved to be incompetent negotiators. They have not known what they have wanted. As a result they have not known how to achieve their goals. As a consequence they have made tactical errors, and maybe made inappropriate concessions without even appreciating why. And they have then been unable to deliver on a deal that the EU negotiated in good faith and with competence. Subsequently, the UK's ministers have lied and prevaricated, but done nothing constructive to address the issues.

Yesterday the resulting anger flowed over. Dealing with perpetual incompetence is very hard, in itself. Dealing with bombast, hubris and even straightforward lying from the incompetent party is harder still. The EU’s member states have had to suffer that from our ministers. And a point was reached when something had to be said.

It appeared that point was reached yesterday. I think that was appropriate. There is a time when, just occasionally the right thing to do is make clear you’ve had enough. It is then quite acceptable to make clear there are boundaries and to do so in no uncertain terms. The incompetent party has to be told that it is they who have to put matters right, and it is they who is at fault. That is not bullying. Nor is it aggression. It is simply making clear that for a relationship to exist there has to be mutual respect and that the incompetent party is failing to deliver that, precisely because it has not made the effort to be competent. That is not just disrespectful: when competence should be expected of those being disrespectful it is abusive. It might even be described as passive-aggressive bullying, precisely because it is intended to provoke a reaction. 

The UK has its reaction. I suspect Dominic Cummings will think that this is something to celebrate. Actually, it’s evidence of the national humiliation we are enduring. If Brexit had to be done, the least that could be asked was that it was done well. But it has not been, and not by a very long way. We set out on a path without knowing why and to where it might lead. Those engaged for the UK did not address the issues and did not appraise the risks correctly. Now they are floundering, very badly, and the world has had enough. It will only get worse from here.

Xavier Bettel was right to get annoyed yesterday. And he was right to show it. He will not be the last to do so. 

Affordable Housing

Published by Anonymous (not verified) on Tue, 17/09/2019 - 1:59pm in

The other night, ten Democratic presidential, hopeful, nominees took stage and debated their plans for America’s future. There never was a mention beyond a few garbled words hastily thrown together about an issue which is plaguing many young voters ing to raise families and one which has surfaced in my community, the shortage of affordable […]

Dead Unicorn Found On Parliament House Roof Points To A Return Of The Dark Lord

Published by Anonymous (not verified) on Tue, 17/09/2019 - 8:00am in


Canberra’s Parliamentary groundskeeper has reportedly found a deceased Unicorn on the roof of Parliament house with those inside fearful that it indicates a return of the Dark Lord to Canberra.

“These are dire times if he who must not be named has returned to Canberra,” said a Parliamentary Spokesperson. “Last time he was here he launched a relentless attack on Prime Minister Turnbull that thankfully didn’t result in him winning power owing to the ineptness of his numbers man Matthias Cormann.”

“I do not know if the wizard known as ScoMo is strong enough to thwart an attack from the Minister for Home Affairs.”

When reached for comment on his return to Canberra and whether or not he planned to challenge Prime Minister Scomo, the Dark Lord said: “I will not tell you or anyone my plans. I think it’s fair to say that most Australians who know what is good for them recognise me as their rightful leader.”

“Now if you’ll excuse me I must be off to tend to my horcuxes and also organise for the banishment of Matthias.”

Mark Williamson

You can follow The (un)Australian on twitter or like us on facebook.

Elizabeth Warren Finally Puts a Health Care Page on Her Campaign Site, Fails to Allay Doubts

Published by Anonymous (not verified) on Tue, 17/09/2019 - 6:25am in

A close reading of Elizabeth Warren's new health care "plan."

A Top Joe Biden Staffer Is a Supporter of India’s Authoritarian Leader Narendra Modi

Published by Anonymous (not verified) on Tue, 17/09/2019 - 5:33am in



A new adviser to Joe Biden’s presidential campaign, the director of outreach to the Asian-American Pacific Islander community, is a strong backer of extreme right-wing Indian Prime Minister Narendra Modi. 

Amit Jani took to Facebook in May to celebrate the authoritarian leader’s reelection. 

Jani, whose hiring as AAPI national vote director was announced last week, comes to Biden’s campaign from New Jersey Gov. Phil Murphy’s office. He worked on AAPI outreach on Murphy’s 2017 campaign and Sen. Bob Menendez’s 2018 campaign. 

In May, after Modi secured a second term as prime minister, Jani posted a collection of photos on Facebook and wrote, “Loved the energy and jubilation throughout the state on Prime Minister Narendra Modi’s victory in the Indian national elections! Proud of Deepti Jani for all the work you did during the campaign!”

Deepti Jani is identified as Amit Jani’s mother in a 2018 article in the News India Times. It is unclear what work Deepti Jani did during Modi’s campaign, but Amit Jani’s Facebook post includes images of Deepti Jani appearing on TV Asia, where she is identified as “Community Activist, BJP Supporter” — a reference to Modi’s Hindu nationalist Bharatiya Janata Party. 

On June 25, 2017, Deepti Jani posted a photo of Amit Jani with the Indian prime minister, apparently taken at the Ritz-Carlton hotel in McLean, Virginia, where the Indian diaspora had organized a “community reception” for Modi the day before his White House meeting with Donald Trump. The photo is captioned, “Amit Jani with Respected Prime Minister Narendra Modi.”

Modi has been a controversial figure on the international stage since at least 2002, when, as chief minister of the state of Gujarat, he oversaw mass violence against the minority Muslim population. For years, Modi was shunned by the West — and even banned from entering the United States — but he has made a comeback since his 2014 election as prime minister. Rep. Tulsi Gabbard, D-Hawaii, has been a consistent defender of the Indian premier in Washington, which includes advocating for a reversal of his visa ban. In 2014, President Barack Obama invited Modi to the White House. (Biden met with Modi at the State Department during that visit.)

Modi’s relationship with the West has thawed even as he and the BJP have taken India in an increasingly nationalist direction, guided by Hindutva — an ideology that views India as a Hindu nation, where adherents of other faiths are second-class citizens. Indeed, religious and ethnic minorities have faced increased discrimination in the five years since Modi entered office.

Biden’s hiring of a Modi supporter comes just weeks after the BJP revoked a constitutional provision that gave autonomy to Kashmir, the only Muslim-majority state in the country. Kashmir, which is considered one of the most militarized regions on Earth, has been under near-total lockdown since early August, with Indian forces using brute force against civilians. Additionally, a recent census in the northeastern state of Assam has led to more than 1.9 million people — most of them Muslim — being stripped of their Indian citizenship. The Indian government is building mass detention camps for these people, who have effectively been rendered stateless. 

The Biden campaign did not respond to a request for comment.

Imraan Siddiqi, a civil rights activist and executive director of the Arizona chapter of the Council on American-Islamic Relations, said the timing of Biden’s hiring of Jani raises red flags. 

“One would think that Modi and his ideology would be a pariah politically around the world.”

“As an Indian-American, who’s seeing the humanitarian crisis imposed on Kashmir by the Modi government — it is truly troubling to see Biden elevating someone who is in support of this now bordering on fascist regime in a leadership position,” said Siddiqi, who drew attention to Jani’s support for Modi on Twitter during Thursday’s Democratic presidential debate, in a written statement to The Intercept. “This week alone, 1.9 Million Indians were stripped of their citizenship in Assam — as well as prison camps being constructed by the Modi government. Add that to the ongoing far-right nationalist lynchings taking place across the country with impunity — one would think that Modi and his ideology would be a pariah politically around the world. But as we are seeing with Tulsi Gabbard and now Biden’s campaign — it appears that BJP/Hindutva politics is influencing both sides of the aisle in American politics.” (During his 2016 campaign, Trump courted Hindu nationalist voters in the United States.)

Democratic presidential contenders Sens. Bernie Sanders and Kamala Harris and former Rep. Beto O’Rourke have expressed concern about the recent unrest in Kashmir, but Biden has yet to publicly address the situation. Biden is the preferred candidate in the Democratic primary among Asian-American and Pacific Islander voters, who also named Sanders and Sen. Elizabeth Warren as favorites, according to a recent poll sponsored by AAPI Victory Fund, a political action committee, and Investingin.Us, a political group.

Amit Jani’s father, Suresh Jani, is one of the founders of the Overseas Friends of the BJP in the United States, a sister organization of India’s Hindu nationalist party that was founded, in part, to counter the negative international press the party was receiving.

The late Suresh Jani comes from the same village in Gujarat as Modi, and the two met at a gathering of the Rashtriya Swayamsevak Sangh, or RSS, a right-wing Indian paramilitary group that is considered the parent organization of the BJP, according to reports in the Indian press. Jani immigrated to the United States in 1987. Six years later, Modi visited the United States, where he stayed with Jani at his New Jersey home.

Suresh Jani relayed some of those experiences to Rediff, an Indian news website, in 2014.

“My mother liked Modi so much that when he was leaving, she blessed him and predicted that one day he would become a great man. She gifted Modi $51 as a shaghun (an auspicious symbolic gift). Around eight years later, when he was about to be sworn in as chief minister, Modi called and asked me to connect him with my mother. He said he still remembers the shaghun and her blessings. Then my mother told him ‘You will become bigger’,” he says.

Once, Jani remembers, they went to Lexington Avenue where many Indian restaurants are located. Modi preferred a North Indian restaurant. The waiter told them that the meal would cost $13 for 13 items.

When Jani was paying the bill, Modi went to the cash counter and said they were served three items less, so how could the restaurant charge the full amount without serving what was promised. So he got a discount of $6 on the bill. That amount Modi asked Jani to give the waiters as a tip. Then Modi advised Jani, ‘Never pay money in haste.’

In a 1993 photo provided by Suresh Jani to the Times of India, the two men stand side by side at John F. Kennedy International Airport in New York, with Modi holding a bouquet of flowers. Suresh Jani also welcomed Modi at the airport in 1997 and 2000, he told Rediff. 

In 2001, Modi was appointed chief minister of Gujarat, and he was officially elected to the post in February 2002. Soon after, the state became engulfed in anti-Muslim violence. Modi was widely blamed for not doing enough to stop the pogrom, if not actually sanctioning it. A special investigation team in India eventually found that there was not enough evidence to prosecute Modi for his involvement, but there was enough circumstantial evidence to turn him into a political pariah in the West. That was not enough to change Suresh Jani’s opinion of the Indian politician; indeed, it was in 2014, after the United States reversed its travel ban against Modi, that Suresh Jani gave fawning interviews to the Indian press about Modi’s past visits to the U.S.  

Amit Jani made a nod to his father’s involvement in Indian politics in a recent Facebook post, in which he posted photos from an event at which he was apparently recognized “on behalf of New Jersey Leadership Program, as well as my father’s contributions to Indian politics.”

The post A Top Joe Biden Staffer Is a Supporter of India’s Authoritarian Leader Narendra Modi appeared first on The Intercept.

On Al-Farabi's Democratic City and the Transition Problem

Published by Anonymous (not verified) on Mon, 16/09/2019 - 9:50pm in


Politics, Religion

115. Of [all] their cities, this [democratic city] is the marvelous and happy city. On the sur­face, it is like an embroidered garment replete with colored figures and dyes. Everyone loves it and loves to dwell in it, because every human being who has a passion or desire for anything is able to gain it in this city. The nations repair to it and dwell in it, so it becomes great beyond mea­sure. People of every tribe are procreated in it by every sort of pairing off and sexual intercourse. The children generated in it are of very different innate characters and of very different education and upbringing.
Thus this city comes to be many cities, not distinguished from one another but interwoven with one another, the parts of one interspersed among the parts of another. Nor is the foreigner distinguished from the native resident. All of the passions and ways of life come together in it. Therefore, it is not impossible as time draws on that virtuous people emerge in it. There may chance to exist in it wise men, rhetoricians, and poets concerned with every type of object. It is possible to glean from it parts of the virtuous city, and this is the best that emerges in this city. Thus, of the ignorant cities this city has both the most good and the most evil. The bigger, more prosperous, more populous, more fertile, and more perfect it becomes for people, the more prevalent and greater are these two...

117. According to them, the virtuous ruler is the one who is excellent at deliberation and fine at using stratagems to gain them their different and variegated desires and passions, preserving that from their enemies, and not depriving [them] of any of their money but restricting himself only to what is necessary for his power.
The one who is virtuous in truth-namely, the one who, when he rules them, determines their actions and directs them toward happiness-is not made a ruler by them. If he chances to rule them, he is soon deposed or killed, or his rulership is disturbed and challenged. The same holds for [102] the rest of the ignorant cities: each of them wants only to be ruled by someone who sets its choices and desires before it, makes the path to them easy, gains them for them, and preserves them for them. They reject the rulership of the virtuous and censure it. However, it is more possible and easier for the virtuous cities and the rulership of the virtuous to emerge from the necessary and democratic cities than from the other [ignorant] cities.--Al-Farabi, Political Regime, Translated by Charles Butterworth.

Regular readers know that Al-Farabi's treatment of the cosmopolitan democratic city/polity has not lost its relevance (recall here and here). Today, I treat a matter of great significance obliquely. I do so, by focusing on how he treats the transition problem (recall last week; see here and here on Ibn Rushd; recall and here), that is, is how to create an ideal political future with a population raised under bad institutions (or worse, that is, bad breeding). As the last sentence of the quoted passage suggests, Al-Farabi thinks the democratic city is one of two kinds of regimes from which the best regime can emerge. This is puzzling because Al-Farabi is clear that while democracies are tolerant enough of the virtuous in their midst, they turn murderous ("deposed or killed") toward would-be truly virtuous rulers. This made me think that, perhaps, he thought Muhammad was the last prophet, even though there is no reason to think that in his metaphysics the possibility of further revelation had ended.

Yet, in light of some other passages, I had also thought that Al-Farabi could also be taken to suggest that a would be virtuous ruler would have to go into exile with would be virtuous followers and start a virtuous regime elsewhere. Think of Muhammad's exile from Mecca to Medina; or Moses in the dessert, etc. But the evidence for this possibility is thin.

But in addition to exile, I now think there are two other options to solve the transition problem.* First, Al-Farabi notes about the cosmopolitan, multi-ethnic democratic city that it "comes to be many cities" (see  the paragraph from 133). This is due to the fact that without constraints human beings have a natural tendency toward multiplicity. (According to Al-Farabi, when people don't mix sexually and are stationary, they are under influence of environment. And then their differences are marked by ethnicity and language.) In one sense this -- that a the democratic city "comes to be many cities" -- is quite damning because it means that the democratic city is not a unity; it is even in a certain sense a kind of contradiction (one is many, etc.). 

But in another sense it means that a virtuous community, ruled by a virtuous leader, could live in a kind of self-governing, inner exile amidst the splendor of the democratic city. (I think of this as the pre-1979-Shia or the pre-1948-Jewish option.)+ The problem with this reading is that Al-Farabi seems, when discussing why a village or a neighborhood is a "defective" political association, adamant that a certain form of self-sufficiency and independence is required for true political life (see par. 64). So, I doubt think that this option really solves the transition problem. But it may be an intermediary step to solving it.

For, second, the key passage -- "If he chances to rule them, he is soon deposed or killed, or his rulership is disturbed and challenged" does not say that a would be virtuous leader is always killed. A lucky would-be virtuous ruler of the whole polity may find his rulership "disturbed and challenged;" but that's compatible with the thought he can (after a rocky start) survive it. I missed this option because I have a tendency to read this passage in light of Plato's parable of the cave, where the cave dwellers kill the person who has access to the truth [517a]. The would-be-virtuous leader is more capable of surviving democratic resistance to his rule if, within the democratic city, there is another, more 'virtuous city' laying dormant to take over.**

If that is so, democracy's greatest strength -- to live and let live ["every one of its inhabitants is unrestrained and left to himself to do what he likes" (par. 113)]++ --, mutual toleration, becomes its greatest weakness. Then again, how to preserve a democratic polity without undermining its freedoms, has not lost its urgency.

*I thank my undergraduate students for discussion and for inspiring some of these reflections.

+Shia muslims were, despite the existence of some significant Shia dynasties, traditionally quietist about politics.

**Perhaps the 312 conversion of the Roman empire to Christianity is the model. 

++"Yet those who are praised and honored among them are those who bring the inhabitants of the city to freedom and to everything encompass­ing their passions and desires and those who preserve their freedom and their diverging, differing desires from [infringement] by one another and by their external enemies while restricting their own desires only to what is necessary." (par. 114)

A repeat of the Turmoil of 1914-1922?

Published by Anonymous (not verified) on Mon, 16/09/2019 - 4:26pm in

This pst is by Prof Sean Danaher and was on Progressive Pulse last week. It is far too good not to share a little more widely, with Sean's permission:

History, as it is taught in British schools, remembers 1914 as a the year WWI started. WWI was of course a horrific event, but less is remembered of the political turmoil at the time. As Robert Saunders writes in “Breaking the parliamentary machine”: lessons of the 1914 crisis:

The crisis of 1914 far eclipsed Brexit, and brought Britain closer to revolution than at any time since the 17th century. The Times called it “one of the greatest crises in the history of the British race”, while Conservative election literature warned that Britain might soon be “stained with the blood of civil war”. Yet it offers some striking similarities with the present, and a warning of what could lie ahead.

The article is beautifully written and is well worth reading in full. Saunders goes on to explain:

The trigger was the election of December 1910. For the only time in British history, the result was a dead heat: the governing Liberal Party and its Conservative and Unionist opponents both won 272 seats. The Unionists won more votes, and a series of by-elections quickly made them the largest single grouping; but the outcome was a minority Liberal government, dependent chiefly on the Irish Nationalists. The price of Irish support was Home Rule, giving Ireland its own parliament with control over domestic legislation.

The Irish had being demanding Home Rule (very similar in the range of powers to the now Scottish Parliament) for decades,  attempts could and had been blocked by the Upper Chamber, but the Parliament Act of 1911 stripped the House of Lords of its veto. The third home rule bill after a glacial and bitterly fought, many stage, campaign in parliament, was due to become law in January 1915.

Ireland effectively had Home Rule up to 1800, when the Acts of Union (Ireland) were passed. Though not perfect, Ireland was a wealthy and populous country.

The Union was a disaster for Ireland. In 1800 Dublin was the 6th largest city in Europe (Table 1), sandwiched between Amsterdam and Lisbon, and one of the wealthiest. While obviously far behind London, it was more than twice the size of the next two largest cities in Britain: Manchester and Edinburgh. In 1800 Ireland has over twice the population of the Netherlands (5M as opposed to 2M) and over half the population of England (c 8M).

By 1914 Dublin was an impoverished slum and smaller in population than Belfast. Ireland had a lower population in 1914 than in 1800 (c 4.4M), whereas England’s population had grown by a factor of four to c 36M and  the Netherlands by over a factor of three to c 6.2M. Something clearly had gone disastrously wrong, this was the Great Famine from 1845-1848. This was by far the greatest peace time calamity in 19th century Europe, about 1M died and 2M emigrated. It was so badly mismanaged by the London government that it created resentment on a monumental scale, still present especially among the North American diaspora.

Home rule was backed by a super-majority in Ireland, but the one part of Ireland that had prospered through the Union, the NE corner surrounding Belfast, was implacably opposed. Approximately 80% of the industrial capacity of  Ireland was concentrated in this region in 1914.  It had for example the largest shipyard in the world, Harland and Wolff, most famous for building the Titanic.

The NE had a Protestant majority who hated Home Rule and started their own totally illegal private army, the Ulster Volunteers. Far from being condemned by the Tories they were backed to the hilt.  Andrew Bonar Law  leader of His Majesty’s Loyal Opposition was photographed inspecting the Volunteers, who pledged to bring down the third Home Rule Bill – an Act of Parliament.

Again quoting Saunders article:

Crucially, the Conservatives did not simply argue that Home Rule was wrong. They rejected the democratic legitimacy of parliament, which they accused of defying the will of the people. Party literature told voters that “the House of Commons does not truly represent the people, nor do its votes represent the opinions of the electorate”. Conservatives talked openly of “breaking the parliamentary machine”, pitting “the Supremacy of the People” against the “paid puppets” of the House of Commons. Parliament was urged to surrender its functions to a referendum, to ensure that MPs could not “cut ‘the people’ out of the constitution”.

The constitutional crisis at the time was averted by WWI, which seemed almost a blessing initially. Indeed some historians argue that the “Irish Question”  played a far greater part in Britain’s willingness to go to war than is generally acknowledged. Sadly WWI, far from being over by Christmas, turned out to be a cataclysmic disaster.


Civil war was averted in Britain, but Ireland was not so lucky. Far from being deterred by the Ulster Volunteers, a host of pro Irish Independence paramilitary groups were formed, leading to the 1916 Rising,  a  war of independence and the peace Treaty of 1921. Ireland was partitioned between the 26 county Free State and the 6 county Northern Ireland. (A good podcast on the period by the Irish Passport team is available here).

The actual treaty granted nothing like the full independence of the entire island of Ireland, with the 26 counties granted Dominion Status within the British Empire and NI granted Home Rule (a protestant parliament for a protestant people). Irish pragmatists saw it as “the freedom to obtain freedom”. Lloyd George, the PM, is reported to have said “I may have just signed my political death warrant” to which Michael Collins (the lead figure on the Irish side) replied “I may have signed my actual death warrant”.

The Treaty was totally unacceptable to many in Ireland, in modern parlance far too many red lines had been crossed and the result was Civil War. Collins proved very prescient as he was killed during the Civil War  in August 1922 at Béal na Bláth.

The Free State could be fairly accurately described as an impoverished wreck by the end of the Civil War. Many in Northern Ireland and Britain saw it as too poor and too small to succeed on its own. Very similar to today’s arguments on Scottish Independence (but with considerably more justification). Northern Ireland, with as previously stated, 80% of the island’s industrial capacity and part of the greatest empire the world had ever seen, seemed destined for success.

It did not turn out that way. As Prof Brendan O’Leary discusses in his definitive three volume A Treatise on Northern Ireland, by 1940 Northern Ireland was essentially bankrupt, where the  Irish Free State was a much greater success. Whilst still not wealthy, very firm and robust democratic foundations had been laid for future prosperity. (For those with neither the time or money to read the Treatise there is an excellent Irish Times podcast available here).

Winding rapidly forward to the current day, the two economies are not really comparable,  with IE not only being way ahead of NI but also Britain on international metrics such as the Human Development Index IE 4th, UK 14th. GDP per capita is over twice as high in IE than NI and I would be surprised if even 8% of the island’s industrial capacity was based in NI.

“The freedom to obtain freedom” analysis has turned out to have been correct in retrospect. Ireland is a modern successful country with considerable state and diplomatic capacity, which has been used very successfully throughout the Brexit process, perhaps most clearly on display at PM Johnson’s visit to Dublin on Monday. Ian Dunt tweeted  regarding their post-meeting statements: “Quite painful to watch. Varadkar conducting himself as a leader and grounding his comments in reality. Johnson looks like a child who won a Willy Wonka ticket to appear alongside him”.

Are There Parallels to be Drawn to the Current Crisis?

The current crisis seems to be a pale shadow of 1914, there are no major private armies being raised. Again however there are bitter arguments about the supremacy of parliament vs. “the people”. The country seems, or at least its political class,  bitterly divided. It is possible however that Dmitry Grozoubinski has it correct in that the vast majority of the British Electorate just want Brexit to go away (Fig. 1).

Fig 1. Are the public fed up with Brexit?

There is an Irish dimension, with the Irish again holding, until the dramatic withdrawal of the whip from 21MPs, the balance of power, but this time the DUP rather than the Irish Parliamentary Party (IPP). Will the DUP be eventually betrayed by Westminster just as the IPP was in 1915? There are rumours that something like the NI only version of the Backstop may be resurrected.

There are obvious parallels between the Withdrawal Agreement (WA) and the 1921 Treaty. For many the WA is nothing like the “cake and eat it” promises made during the Referendum Campaign. Signing up to the WA however is unlikely to unleash civil war in Britain, though not signing may through the introduction of a hard border in Ireland, triggering considerable violence.

The Treaty was signed ultimately because of  power asymmetry. Ireland was under no illusion that it was far weaker than Britain. The  realisation of the power asymmetry between the EU and the UK seems not to dawned on many of the Brexiters, but will mean that any eventual treaty will be more weighted towards the EU than the UK.

The political situation in Britain was saved by WWI. There is nothing like a good war to unite the country as Margaret Thatcher found during the Falklands War. Hopefully starting a War is not part of Cumming’s master-plan.

The Irish dimension is likely to play an important part, not least because Phil Hogan of Fine Gael and a close allay of Varadkar has been nominated as EU trade commissioner and will be the EU representative at the WTO and in charge of a future EU trade deal with the UK. He is known as the “Bruiser” and a wily operator. The fact that he will be supported by Sabine Weyand, who was Barnier’s right hand “man” during the negotiating of the withdrawal agreement, may fill some on the UK side with dismay.

Hopefully Marx’s view that “history repeats the first time as tragedy, the second time as farce” will not come true, but it is inevitable that Britain will need  eventually to come to terms with the limitations of its power, as Ireland did in 1921, hopefully sooner rather than later.

Keynes Was Really a Conservative

“The class war,” said Keynes, “will find me on the side of the educated bourgeoisie.”

Threatening New War for Oil, Donald Trump Calls His Own Offer of Iran Talks “Fake News”

Published by Anonymous (not verified) on Mon, 16/09/2019 - 12:56pm in

As he threatened to bomb Iran at Saudi Arabia’s behest, President Donald Trump also intensified his battle with objective reality on Sunday, by railing against what he called “The Fake News” media for “saying that I am willing to meet with Iran, ‘No Conditions.'”

Since there is video of Trump saying exactly that in June, and at a news conference last year, there are only two possible explanations here: The president is either suffering an alarming memory loss or flat-out lying.

If the president has simply forgotten his own Iran policy, he could consult the two men overseeing it, Treasury Secretary Steve Mnuchin and Secretary of State Mike Pompeo, who both confirmed last week that Trump was open to such talks.

“The president has made clear, he’s happy to take a meeting with no preconditions,” Mnuchin told reporters in the White House briefing room on Monday. “The president’s made it very clear: he is prepared to meet with no preconditions,” Pompeo added 20 seconds later.

Trump’s rage at the news media for accurately reporting his prior comments came just minutes after he informed Americans that he had put the United States military at the disposal of the Kingdom of Saudi Arabia, following drone attacks on Saudi oil facilities the administration has blamed on Iran. American forces are “locked and loaded,” Trump tweeted, and “waiting to hear from the Kingdom” to say when and where they would like the bombs to be dropped.

The president’s statement that he was standing by for instructions from the Saudi royals, “as to who they believe was the cause of this attack, and under what terms we would proceed,” prompted furious responses from Democrats like Rep. Ruben Gallego and Sen. Bernie Sanders, who promised that Congress would withhold authorization for any new war for oil in the Middle East.

On Monday morning, however, another Democratic senator, Chris Coons of Delaware, appeared on Trump’s favorite morning news show, “Fox and Friends,” and suggested that, if there is evidence that Iran was responsible for spilling Saudi oil, “military action against Iran,” could be justified.

Updated: Monday, Sept. 16, 1:50 p.m. EDT
This article was updated to add comments from Sen. Chris Coons, a Delaware Democrat, who told Fox News on Monday that he could support the bombing of Iran to avenge the spilling of Saudi oil.

The post Threatening New War for Oil, Donald Trump Calls His Own Offer of Iran Talks “Fake News” appeared first on The Intercept.

Joyce Refuses To Pull Out…………….Again

Published by Anonymous (not verified) on Mon, 16/09/2019 - 8:28am in


Former deputy Prime Minister and self confessed ‘families man’ Barnaby Joyce has once again refused to pull out. Of speaking at an anti-abortion rally in Sydney over the weekend.

“People want, no they need to hear my opinion on abortion,” said former Minister Joyce. “I mean who do you expect to speak at these rallies, women?”

“Hearing people like me and former Minister for Women Tony Abbott is just what these sort of rallies need. That and they are a great place to meet some good sorts.”

When asked why a lowly Parliamentary backbencher like himself was entering into a debate in what is effectively a State matter Mr Joyce replied: “Just keeping my options open, I mean Premier Barnaby does have a nice ring to it.”

“As well as I said earlier you can meet some wonderful sheilas at these type of events. Now if you’ll excuse me I’m off to pull a root.”

Mr Joyce’s office later called to clarify that by pull a root he was talking about some work he was doing at his farm in clearing tree roots from paddocks.

Mark Williamson

You can follow The (un)Australian on twitter or like us on facebook.