Posts by Conal Tuohy

  • Hard News: The next four years, in reply to Russell Brown,

    There seems little doubt that the arrival of more NATO troops in Poland is popular there.

    And Putin’s response – that Poland “is not even a European state” – will only have strengthened that view.

    I assume (because this weird misinterpretation has been circulated online) that you're referring to the statement by President Putin's press secretary Dmitry Peskov:

    "a third country is building up its military presence near our borders in Europe. That country is not even a European one,"

    > Kremlin sees deployment of US armor in Poland as threat - TASS

    The "third country" which Peskov is referring to is actually the United States of America, not Poland (Poland and its neighbour Russia are clearly the implicit first and second countries in Peskov's formula).

    Melbourne • Since Oct 2008 • 14 posts Report

  • Hard News: Trump's Dummkopfs, in reply to tussock,

    Yes quite. And amongst his bigoted supporters in the white working class, of which the Kaiser Foundations said

    Over half (53 percent) are very dissatisfied with the country’s economic situation, 47 percent say America’s best days are behind us, and 50 percent expect their children to have a worse standard of living than they have now

    … many of them could have been won to the Democratic candidate if the Democratic Party had elected to run their left candidate. Sanders would have been a far more electable candidate, and importantly would have enabled the Democrats to unite the balkanized working class around some much more progressive economic policy.

    Melbourne • Since Oct 2008 • 14 posts Report

  • Hard News: Trump's Dummkopfs,

    Russell "working class" is not the same thing as "poor" or having a "household income" in a particular bracket. I think the Pew report you cited has this weakness compounded by treating the income brackets as monolithic rather than divided by race and geographic factors that could be proxies for the depressed manufacturing sector, and I think this obscures some of the information landscape, making it no so easy to draw conclusions from.

    Have you seen this very recent poll? It backs what it calls the 'conventional wisdom' about Trump's strength in working class support.

    Melbourne • Since Oct 2008 • 14 posts Report

  • Hard News: Trump's Dummkopfs,

    [Working class frustration at economic hardship] doesn’t really account for the ubiquitous role of race in these movements, in the US and Europe. Why does Trump have a net 14-point lead in approval among white Americans, but little support among black and Latino Americans?

    Because racial minorities have been made scapegoated by his campaign? Like right-wing populists always do? I mean, obviously you know that; so why are you asking? Why do you think that negates the idea that Trump's support is riding a wave of legitimate grievance with joblessness, homelessness, and hopelessness, and social alienation?

    Melbourne • Since Oct 2008 • 14 posts Report

  • Hard News: Trump's Dummkopfs, in reply to Russell Brown,

    | and she has long been seen to be in the pockets of Wall St

    Since … ooooh, last year, when Bernie Sanders made it a campaign issue.

    No, the fact of Hillary's "friendliness" to Wall Street and their financial support has long been public knowledge.

    New York Times from 2007: Hillary Clinton’s Wall Street Windfall:

    In the halls of high finance, Hillary Clinton’s stock seems to be rising.

    In the latest quarter, Ms. Clinton tapped into a gusher of donations for her presidential campaign from employees at the major investment banks.

    Remember there was a big media scandal in the 2008 presidential election where one of the Wall Street "bundlers", a bloke named Hsu, turned out to be a crook. So the perception of a Wall Street connection is not at all new.

    Here's an article from 2007 which headlines the fact that Wall St funding had swung from their earlier favourite, Clinton, towards Obama, now that he had won the Democratic nomination, and it goes on to say:

    If Obama picked Clinton as his running mate, that might ease Wall Street's fears that his administration would hike capital gains and dividend taxes, said Michael Darda, chief economist at MKM Partners in Greenwich, Connecticut.

    In some parts of the country this perception is more of an issue than in others. In NY it's not such a big deal (just as in London, Brexit was not a winner). But in the rust belt, this is a major negative for her. In the rust belt, the US "institutions" such as the Congress and Senate and the two political parties are not highly regarded (and rightly so), and being seen as an insider and establishment figure is a turn-off. Why do we have institutions? I'd suggest many hard-hit working-class people think their role is to maintain the status quo, and they're not keen on that idea.

    I'm no fan of Trump, at all, and I really hope Clinton wins the election, but it does seem to me that you're are barking up the wrong tree here; fixating on the "culture war" rather than seeing it as a symptom of a deeper malaise. Trump is tapping into a real (justified) sense of injustice, and a frustration with the American system's failure to really grapple with the deep economic crisis. But Clinton is no radical, like Sanders, and she can't tap into this well-spring of working-class frustration, which is falling for Trump.

    Bernie Sanders' support base included a lot of these people who are now going to Trump. They've been brought up on Fox News and they're not sophisticated or politically cultured individuals. But if Sanders had been the candidate, he could have won them over to a progressive cause, despite their "deplorable" bigotry, the polls are very clear on this.

    Melbourne • Since Oct 2008 • 14 posts Report

  • Hard News: Trump's Dummkopfs, in reply to Russell Brown,

    Of course Trump is one of the wealthy elite himself, but there's a difference in perception which is based on a real difference. Clinton is 100% an 'establishment' candidate in a way that Trump absolutely is not. She has been a senator for donkey's years; a First Lady; a Secretary of State, and she has long been seen to be in the pockets of Wall St; giving secret speeches for money and defending them from taking all the blame for the crash. Her financial wealth must be a fraction of Trump's, but she acquired it by leveraging her political connections. Her wealth is political wealth. The disaffected Americans who've been shat on by banks and offshoring businesses hate the political class for hanging ordinary folks out to dry, and Hillary is the epitome of that class.

    Trump, meanwhile is seen as a self-made man; not a politician. He is supposed to have made his money from sharp business practices (canny, businesslike). Sure he inherited a fortune, but who wouldn't? ;-) In political terms he's an outsider; he basically stole the Republican Party candidature from the Party bosses on a wave of populism. Wall St hate him, because of his policies on financial reform and free trade.

    It's the same mechanism behind Brexit.

    I know if I were American I would hold my nose and vote for Clinton, and I think the Trumpist bigotry and hate is truly awful, but it's a mistake, I reckon, to see these political phenomena as primarily ideological (however entertaining it may be); they are mostly a reaction to the economic crisis.

    Melbourne • Since Oct 2008 • 14 posts Report

  • Hard News: Trump's Dummkopfs,

    I won't excuse the bigotry, but I think the main factor in Trump's appeal is his "outsider" status. Being outrageous and politically incorrect is a means to bolster that status in the minds of potential voters who have lost all faith in the political class. The US political system's legitimacy is trashed, for those people. For all their ignorance and prejudice, their lack of faith is in fact well-founded. In the current crisis, literally millions of people have lost jobs, homes, everything they had. Meanwhile the US ruling elite have been bailed out, given 'get out of jail free' cards, and paid themselves handsome bonuses. HRC is clearly one of them. They pay her wads of cash for 'speaking fees' and she tells them what they want to hear, and will do their bidding as president. This is the fundamental reason for Trump's popularity, I think, rather than a sudden rise in ignorance and bigotry in the US population.

    Melbourne • Since Oct 2008 • 14 posts Report

  • Muse: Hooray for Wellywood (Really!),

    But there's an essential truth in the notion that good fences make good neighbours, and so does minding your own god-damed business.

    This proposed sign is hardly a fence or something hidden behind a fence. It's not actually something people can ignore because it's specifically designed to be ENORMOUS (much bigger than the District Plan actually permits) and IN YOUR FACE. In fact "shouting" is how the sign's main proponent describes it. Now that's just not good-neighbourly, and I applaud the people of Wellington for NOT just putting up with bastard neighbours like a bunch of meek and mild sheep. I say good luck to them for sticking up for themselves as a civic-minded community, and certainly if iPredict is anything to go by, the sign is now probably not going to happen.

    Melbourne • Since Oct 2008 • 14 posts Report

  • Hard News: Libya,

    I know a lot of people have become thoroughly disillusioned with the Western military establishment, especially after the invasions of Afghanistan and Iraq, the long foreign occupation, the insurgency, the sectarian violence, the kidnappings and torture, and the sheer scale of the suffering, with hundreds of thousands killed, millions forced to flee their homes, and son on. So many lives were blighted by the arrogant Western supremacism and militarism of Tony Blair, George Bush, Donald Rumsfeld, and others who by rights should have tried and convicted for war crimes.

    It's actually difficult to conceive that Western governments can get away with such things again, and somehow continue to speak from the moral high ground, yet this is precisely what happened again and again in history. The invasions of both Iraq and Afghanistan had venerable precedents. The British were having problems with Afghan "talebs" back in the 19th century, and didn't they steal Iraq off the Ottomans? In fact, the history of the Western powers is an almost unbroken history of blood and guts. The European powers once conquered and oppressed virtually the entire world. The US alone must have invaded, attacked, or fomented military coups in pretty much every country of Latin America, many of them (the ones unfortunate enough to be near neighbours) on more than one occasion. In the 20th century they were the origins of both the World Wars; they were responsible for the deaths of millions of Vietnamese; they armed terrorists like Osama bin Laden and Luis Posada Carriles ... in short these countries have serious "form" as war-mongers. It's seriously naive not to acknowledge that's the case.

    And yet ... this time everything is different somehow. This time our bombing campaign will make the world a better place. This time the enemy leader really is a mad dog. This time we won't divide them; we won't plunder their resources; we won't usurp their national sovereignty and foist new laws, financial systems, foreign investors, foreign police forces, new kings and military dictators onto them.

    O RLY? Are we that gullible that we are supposed to believe that? Apparently we are.

    What's the bountiful source of all this historical amnesia? It's like magic, isn't it? The war crimes of the past are down-played, denied, ignored, commuted to "mistakes", and eventually they fade gracefully into obscurity. Of course our side were never that bad; they were well-meaning if occasionally mistaken, and if they were cynical vicious exploiters, well they were at least not as bad as Hitler or Stalin or Pol Pot. And anyway, each new election cuts the thread of responsibility for past crimes, leaving each new government with a nice fresh coat of moral uprightness. Even Kissinger, who had to cut back his foreign travel in his retirement for fear of arrest, remained perfectly safe in the US, and his ongoing impunity eventually lent him a false air of respectability.

    I can understand and sympathise with the desire to believe that this time it really is different. This time the Western military will play a really progressive role ... etc. It's an understandable desire because if it really were the case then it would be a wonderful thing.

    I can understand also that some people have a healthy cynicism about the Western powers' motives, but they think that nevertheless it will be different this time. This time, because of the specifics of this particular historical juncture, or for these "10 reasons", this time the material interest of the wealthy countries of the world really will coincide with the interests of the third world, and this time the lion really will lie down with the lamb, if not for the sake of the lamb, then even just because it had some reason of its own to lie down at that particular spot. It sounds nice, but the facts of actual history are against it. If we reject history, then we are rejecting an important lesson that history can teach; that imperialism is a system of exploitation, not a charitable organisation. When imperial powers are given a free hand in other people's countries, they will inevitably wreck and plunder, because that's just how they roll.

    This is why I find it impossible to support the attack on Libya, even though it might save a few lives in the short term. I wonder what pro-interventionists will think in a few years' time, when Libya is partitioned into 2 or 3 neo-colonies, warn-torn, impoverished and indebted, and ruled over by some US-backed strongman. I'm a cynic because I think in that circumstance probably many people will think that a military attack was a great idea nd that if it had just been handled a bit better, or if only the Libyans had been more civilised in the first place, they would have gained so much from the intervention, and it would all have turned out really well.

    Melbourne • Since Oct 2008 • 14 posts Report

  • Legal Beagle: Coalition of Losers, in reply to sumware,

    The Aussie system has its own peculiarities. ;-)

    Comparing the "two-party preferred" counts of the two main parties misses out the crucial fact that there are third parties.

    In this election, the Greens and independents won seats (and ended up with the balance of power). You wouldn't know that by comparing the "two-party preferred" counts of the two main parties (NB the right-wing "Coalition" are always treated as a single party because they have an electoral non-competition arrangement).

    Melbourne • Since Oct 2008 • 14 posts Report

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