Fire and Fury reviewed

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Dysfunctional. Childish. Self-centred. Narcissistic. Ideologically myopic. Illiterate. Cranky. Capricious. Arrogant. Scheming. Petty. Ill-educated. No, I’m not writing about our local council (although, yes, all those words apply equally to The Block). These are some of the words that came to mind as I read Michael Wolff’s book, Fire and Fury: Inside the Trump White House. Dysfunctional popped into my mind most often as Wolff described the lurching, staggering, fumbling and bumbling of Trump’s staff and family advisers after their unexpected – and for some unwanted … click below for more ↓

The dystopian present

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If there is one good thing to come out of the election of Donald Trump, it has been the renewed interest in a certain genre of literature. Sales of dystopian novels have skyrocketed on Amazon, in particular what might be called “The Big Three” of dystopian tales: George Orwell’s 1984, Aldous Huxley’s Brave New World, and Margaret Atwood’s Handmaid’s Tale. From each of these novels, allegorical threads can be woven into some narrative aspect as a metaphor for the Trump administration: 1984’s newspeak, media manipulation … click below for more ↓

Kellie Leitch’s politics of division

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They’re not like us. They’re not our religion. They’re not our colour. They don’t speak our language. They don’t dress like us. They don’t eat like us. They don’t drive like us, shop like us, read like us, walk like us. We need to control them. Deport them. Jail them. Make them convert. Make them speak English. Make them dress like us. Screen them before we let them in. Them versus us. The politics of division, of polarization and separation. Dog whistle politics that appeal … click below for more ↓

Dear USA: I’m sorry for your loss.

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Dear United States of America and my American friends: While I am sorry for your loss on election night, I’m afraid, however, I cannot agree to open the border and let you flood in. Canada is a country, not a convenience for Americans trying escape a self-made disaster. You made your own bed, now you must sleep in it. I don’t want to sound unsympathetic. It was devastating to see decency, integrity, honesty, fairness, equality and compassion all die in the same wreck. I cannot … click below for more ↓

A cunning plan

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I see Donald Trump’s plan to utterly eviscerate the Republican Party is working very well. Just look who he picked as his running mate: possibly the only white man more bigoted, vile, close-minded, racist and misogynistic than the passel of presidential candidates Trump bested earlier.* Brilliant. You couldn’t do more than that to alienate the remaining American intelligensia, the moderates, the women, the Latinos, the blacks, the Jews, the Muslims, the gays… now pretty much every social, racial, educational and cultural group has an opportunity … click below for more ↓

More relevant words from Nixonland

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Once again, as I continue to read through Anthony Summers’ biography of Richard Nixon, The Arrogance of Power (Penguin Books, 2000), I am struck by the uncanny resonance of many comments quoted within it to local politics. It’s like people living in the 1950s had a device through which they could view the politics of today, see the politicians on our own council and were reflecting on them, instead of their contemporaries. Some time viewing device right out of science fiction. Of course, we know … click below for more ↓

Alger Hiss, Richard Nixon and Collingwood

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Remember the case of Alger Hiss? I didn’t think so. It was before your time. Mine too. But let me jog your memory, just in case you’re older than I am. Or perhaps just well read in recent history. Hiss was a US government employee, a diplomat at the centre of a House Un-American Advisory Committee (HUAC) investigation in 1950. He was accused of being a Soviet spy and eventually sent to jail (coincidentally on the same day George Orwell died…). Ring a bell? How about the … click below for more ↓

Demagogues and dictators

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I’m not sure why they fascinate me, but I’ve been reading about demagogues and dictators for many decades now and still can’t seem to get enough of them. Of course, it’s in part because I like to read about politics in all its forms and fashions, but there’s something more than just celebrity watching with these. There’s the psychology of propaganda and mass movements, the inoculation of widespread ideologies, the use of technology and mass culture. The period between the two World Wars in particular intrigues me … click below for more ↓

The Political Agnostic

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Watching the American political debates, especially the increasingly vituperative and acerbic Republican debates, reminds me again why I am a political agnostic when it comes to party politics. I simply cannot believe that any single political entity, any party or person, has all the answers or can dig us out of whatever hole we’re currently in. And America, with its rigid, two-party system, has seen its electoral options, choices and opportunities reduced to caricature status. On one side, a group of frighteningly racist, homophobic, xenophobic, … click below for more ↓

Oh, Ann, You Do Make Me Laugh

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Ann Coulter, that spewing harridan of hatred, bigotry, malevolence and xenophobia makes most thoughtful people cringe. Hell, she makes even rabid, right-wing frothers cringe. She makes the Westboro Baptist morons cringe. She makes the Duck Dynasty wingnuts cringe. She out-froths them all. Coulter represents the worst of human behaviour and thought in so many areas, blackening the eyes of even the most fervent right wing, which she alleges to defend. But you have to admit this thick-as-a-brick viper is sometimes good for a laugh. Coulter recently endorsed Donald Trump as … click below for more ↓

The Republican Conspiracy

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CNBC GOP Debate: The Sh*tshow Version Last night’s debate was a total sh*tshow. Posted by The Huffington Post on Thursday, October 29, 2015 I realized only after watching this edited video that the activity of the so-called Republican candidates’ debate was not simply the circus it seemed from the outset; it was actually a conspiracy. A cunning, well-laid conspiracy. And it is so Machiavellian that I actually smiled in appreciation of its deviousness. My first reaction on watching the debate (online) was that no one in their right minds … click below for more ↓

Apps are making us criminals

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[youtube=https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=Og3PjvcR1Pc] Almost every week you read in the news about another taxi driver protest against Uber and its drivers. Taxi drivers go on strike, some rage against Uber and attack the drivers or damage their cars. Similar protests – albeit not yet as violent or large – have been made against Airbnb for its effects on local property values and changing social conditions like the loss of rental properties. These are just two of the apps whose effect on our society and culture are challenging … click below for more ↓

The Continued Rise of Anti-Intellectualism

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I dream of a world where the truth is what shapes people’s politics, rather than politics shaping what people think is true. Neil deGrasse Tyson on Twitter* Anti-intellectualism Is Killing America, says the headline in this recent Psychology Today story. The subtitle reads: Social dysfunction can be traced to the abandonment of reason. I wrote about anti-intellectualism as the new elitism back in late 2013. Since then, it seem the trend has not only increased dramatically, but the backlash against it has grown. However, the opposition trying to restore … click below for more ↓

Jade Helm 15 and the Madness of America

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For a guy who gets great entertainment from reading the wild and wacky conspiracy theories that sprout like mushrooms online, I was surprised that I missed the rapid growth of the Jade Helm 15 conspiracy. I only noticed it as a surface ripple until this past weekend, when I realized it had blossomed into a full-blown madness. Jade Helm 15 goes beyond the usual tinfoil-hat conspiracies: it’s full tinfoil body armour stuff.  And it’s been raised to the level of a hundred voices in an … click below for more ↓

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