While Biden’s challenges grow, Christie shows signs of limbering up for a tilt at the Republican nomination

America spent the weekend commemorating the 9/11 attacks on the World Trade Centre in New York, the Pentagon in Washington DC and at Shanksville, Pennsylvania where the fourth terrorist-commandeered aircraft crashed.

President Joe Biden led proceedings along with former presidents George W Bush, Barak Obama and Bill Clinton.  Donald Trump was conspicuous by his absence – intentional on the part of the White House.

The public mood appears pessimistic, reflecting the cost of 9/11, the loss of some 7000 US servicemen and women in the wars in Afghanistan and Iraq and the resurrection of  the Taliban, aligned with a perception that the US has lost both respect and its way in the world.

Trump continues to tease supporters and opponents alike over whether he will run in 2024.  Most analysts and pollsters feel his decision won’t be made until after the mid-term elections in November 2022 – and how Biden and the Democrats rate in the polling.

Biden has had an awful August and early September. Even his own advisers agree the withdrawal from Afghanistan was botched, leaving many behind and unnerving allies around the world.

The South of the US suffered a hurricane which caused billions of dollars of damage from New Orleans to New York and caused several deaths.

California’s wildfires rage unchecked and the state is rapidly running out of electricity thanks to low hydro lake storage in neighbouring states and the state government’s decision to shut down nuclear, coal and gas-fired power stations. Continue reading “While Biden’s challenges grow, Christie shows signs of limbering up for a tilt at the Republican nomination”

Biden has been busy mending fences but keeping progressive Democrats corralled will be challenging

Citizen Donald Trump’s second impeachment trial is over.  Much of the US enthralled and horrified by how close America came to an insurrection on January 6, but President Joe Biden is forging ahead.

Nearly a month into his job, he has set about mending fences with an enthusiasm that belies his years.  He had a torrid two-hour phone call with China’s president  Xi-Jinping, chiding him over his treatment of Muslim Uighurs and upholding Trump’s designation of the situation as “genocide”.

He has promised Beijing tough commercial competition once the US economy revives – due later this year, according to the forecasters. 

Likewise, he was hard-nosed with Russia’s Vladimir Putin, raising the poisoning and imprisonment of Alexei Navalny.

In what so far has been a symbolic gesture, he has returned the US to the UN Human Rights Council, a group of 47 countries whose own record on the subject is debatable. He has ordered a review of arms sales and pulled US support for the civil war in Yemen.  

He says he will soften Trump’s harsh approach to refugees and take in 125,000, up from 15,000. Continue reading “Biden has been busy mending fences but keeping progressive Democrats corralled will be challenging”

He’s bellicose, vulgar and – what else? – oh, yes, he won’t be attending the inauguration of Joe Biden

Donald Trump’s awful presidency expires at midday on Wednesday [US time] when Air Force One will have deposited him in Florida. He retreats to his Mar-a-Lago resort and Joseph R Biden Junior takes command of the White House.

Trump’s has been an unpleasant presidency, brought about largely by his own bellicosity, vulgarity and occupation of a different universe while being unable or unwilling to accept advice from all but a rapidly dwindling circle of friends and advisers.

From Day One he argued he would be defeated at the next election only by a rigged ballot with fraudulent voting.  This has been a constant from his swearing-in to his departure – and secured the support of at least 60% of Republican voters.

By last Friday, the White House was nearly empty.  This week only the ghosts and a couple of stalwarts remain. Continue reading “He’s bellicose, vulgar and – what else? – oh, yes, he won’t be attending the inauguration of Joe Biden”

Big Business pulls the plug on donations to Republicans who bridled at Briden

Follow the money, urged a character in the film All the President’s Men on the Watergate saga – it’s advice well worth heeding today, a week from the inauguration of President Joe Biden.

Several major US companies, including Amazon, AT&T, Comcast, Airbnb, Mastercard, Verizon and Dow, the chemical company. Marriott, Blue Cross Blue Shield and Commerce Bancshares, have announced the suspension of donations to Republican members of Congress who voted against the certification of Biden as president at last week’s catastrophic sitting of both houses of the US Congress.

Hallmark has even asked for its money back from two of the senators who opposed certification, Josh Hawley and Roger Marshall.

In the Senate, the temporary ban on donations will also affect Rick Scott of Florida, Ted Cruz of Texas and a few other members. In the House, the group includes more than half of the Republican caucus.

The National Association of Manufacturers also weighed in on the issue. Republicans who “cheered on” Trump during his “disgusting” effort to overturn the election had “inflamed violent anger. This is sedition and should be treated as such,” the association said. Continue reading “Big Business pulls the plug on donations to Republicans who bridled at Briden”

Trump is silenced (on social media at least) but may be impeached in the dying days of his presidency

The wheels are fast falling off the presidency of Donald J Trump as the FBI, various police forces, US intelligence agencies and now the political parties consider his fate.  The more agencies inquire into the conduct, motives and organisation of the rioters who stormed the Capitol last week, the more disturbing elements appear.

There are two political debates under way: whether Trump should be impeached (a majority of the Lower House thinks this is the way to go) and/or whether the 25th amendment to the US Constitution should be invoked and Trump be removed.

On Friday House Speaker Nancy Pelosi, a target for the rioters, called Trump unbalanced and unhinged. She called the chairman of the joint Chiefs of Staff, General Mark Milley, to ensure the nuclear codes were in good, sane hands.

Impeachment could begin as soon as today. The question is whether it should immediately be passed and sent to the Senate to conduct a trial – or whether to delay. Continue reading “Trump is silenced (on social media at least) but may be impeached in the dying days of his presidency”

Trumpian twitter catches on Down Under – our PM and Foreign Minister are tweeting to transmit their thoughts on the big issues

It looks like our government leaders have decided there’s one thing the disgraced US President Donald Trump can teach them.  It’s to turn to the Twitosphere  for communicating with their people.

Press statements have been spurned in recent days and they are tweeting to tell us what they think – for example – on mob rule in Washington and the dismantling of democracy in Hong Kong.

Their disapproval (as it happens) is disappointingly lacking in outrage.

On the positive side, their tweeting means they could dispense with the services of their press secretaries and trim the executive wage bill.

On the negative side, it means their official positions on the big issues of the day are not being recorded at Beehive.govt.nz, a website which claims to be and should be

… the best place to find Government initiatives, policies and Ministerial information

Not any more. Continue reading “Trumpian twitter catches on Down Under – our PM and Foreign Minister are tweeting to transmit their thoughts on the big issues”

Clamour grows for Trump to go after mob takes over the Capitol – but his days are numbered officially regardless

By the time Donald Trump leaves office on January 20, assuming he lasts that long, he will depart the White House as the most despised US president in more than a century. The appalling scenes at the Capitol on Wednesday epitomised his time in office, shocking western leaders let alone the US population.

Tweeting on what happened, PM Jacinda Adern said:

“Like so many others, I’ve been watching what’s happening in the United States. I share the sentiment of friends in the US – what is happening is wrong.

“Democracy – the right of people to exercise a vote, have their voice heard and then have that decision upheld peacefully should never be undone by a mob. Our thoughts are with everyone who is as devastated as we are by the events of today. I have no doubt democracy will prevail.”

Calls grow by the hour for Trump to be impeached or removed from office. The Constitution’s 25th Amendment provide for the vice-president, the Cabinet or others to march on the White House and demand a president’s departure.  Republican Party vultures are pecking away at the carcass of the Trump administration. Continue reading “Clamour grows for Trump to go after mob takes over the Capitol – but his days are numbered officially regardless”

Trump support is reduced to a ragtag group of conspiracy theorists and political misfits

As the inauguration of Joseph Biden as the 46th president of the United States draws inexorably closer, the current occupant of the White House appears to be losing his grip on political reality.

Long-standing, hard-line Republicans in the Senate including Majority Leader Mitch McConnell and Lindsay Graham, the South Carolina firebrand, accept the findings of the Electoral College that Biden won by 306 to 232 votes.

Confined to the White House other than escaping for golf at one of his resorts. Trump has surrounded himself with true believers who remain glued to his contention that the presidential election was marked by fraud and that really, he had a “massive win”.

The process of government has been shunted aside. There’s barely a mention of the Covid-19 pandemic which has now claimed more than 320,000 deaths – far more than World War II combat deaths.

More than one commentator has invoked images of the last days in the Fuhrer’s bunker in Berlin in  May 1945. Continue reading “Trump support is reduced to a ragtag group of conspiracy theorists and political misfits”

Republican tide turns against Trump – now let’s see if he loses protection against prosecution

Is the Republican Party, at least at the Congressional level, preparing to dump President Donald Trump after he departs the White House on January 20?

Until two days ago, no-one in the GOP would congratulate president-elect Joe Biden.  After the Electoral College effectively elected Biden on Monday with 306 votes to 232, however, the dam started to break.

First, Senate Majority leader Mitch McConnell, until then a hard-line Trump advocate, pronounced on the floor of the Senate that due process had occurred and Biden was the appointed president, to be sworn in on January 20.

Then in a conference call with Republican senators (they control the Senate) he and other seniors warned their colleagues against trying to further challenge the result when Congress meets to ratify the vote.  Two senators, John Thune and Roy Blunt, spoke.  They argued it would be a bad vote for senators running in the mid-term 2022 elections.  It’s no surprise that both are then up for re-election.  Continue reading “Republican tide turns against Trump – now let’s see if he loses protection against prosecution”

Trump tweets his disagreement – and supporters protest the rulings – after Supreme Court rejects latest challenges to election result

The very foundations of United States democracy have been shaken this weekend as President Donald Trump marshalled his Republican supporters – and the far right – to confront the US Supreme Court.

Twice last week the court threw out challenges by Republicans who alleged widespread voter fraud.

On Friday the court considered the second challenge, by the Attorney-General of Texas, challenging electoral results.  He accused Georgia, Michigan, Pennsylvania and Wisconsin of violating their own state laws, and thereby the US Constitution, by adjusting absentee voting procedures to accommodate the surge in mail-in ballots from voters following public-health guidance during the coronavirus pandemic.

This was President Trump’s last chance to overturn election results before the Electoral College convenes today to formally cast ballots: 306 for Joe Biden, 232 for Trump.

In a brief order, the court said Texas lacked legal standing to bring the case.  Continue reading “Trump tweets his disagreement – and supporters protest the rulings – after Supreme Court rejects latest challenges to election result”