Not as simple as it looks

The international commentariat may be forgiven for believing new PM Chris Hipkins has relaunched the government rather well. 

First a clever pivot to the centre and now a compassionate and inclusive focus on disaster recovery.

Giving credence to rumours that the key strategic brains agreed and executed a skilful change of direction rather well.

Continue reading “Not as simple as it looks”

US elections: when in doubt, do nothing

America’s Democrats sighed with relief after Tuesday’s mid-term elections, even though they look likely to narrowly lose control of the House of Representatives, and perhaps even the Senate.

Because notwithstanding high levels of voter dissatisfaction, the widely-anticipated Republican wave petered out.

We should be impressed with the ability of diverse voters and voting regimes over a sprawling continent to deliver such finely nuanced results (including decisive victories for Trump Republican rivals such as Brian Kemp in Georgia and Ron DeSantis in Florida).

Continue reading “US elections: when in doubt, do nothing”

Excellent writing on the New Right.  The Old might read 

An insightful mini-essay from Marginal Revolution’s Tyler Cowen on how his “own preferred slant of classical liberalism is being replaced” by what – for want of an agreed term – he categorises as the New Right

At his level of intellectual discourse, this means “the smart young people I meet who in the 1980s might have become libertarians”.

Presumably they didn’t.  But nonetheless “the New Right doesn’t entirely reject the basic principles of free market economics”. (Is ‘entirely’ redundant here?) 

Continue reading “Excellent writing on the New Right.  The Old might read “

We are all Ukrainians now – for now anyway

It’s not as easy to sympathise with Donald Trump, as it is (or perhaps used to be) with Jacinda Ardern.  But sometimes it’s worth pushing yourself.

Take for example the coverage of his exclusive appearance on the – wait for it – Clay and Buck show.  

It was reported in the Daily Beast as:

“This time, the twice-impeached ex-president lauded the authoritarian leader’s “genius” invasion of Ukraine as “very savvy.””

You probably need to listen to Clay and Buck to pick up the sarcasm.

Continue reading “We are all Ukrainians now – for now anyway”

2022: Trump’s year?

A year on from the Capitol riot which celebrated Joe Biden’s victory in the US electoral college, a lot has changed.

Then again, perhaps not so much.

So if you are keen to understand why half of America doesn’t fully share the orthodox media position you might ponder the concept of “sophisticated state failure” in the words of Holman W. Jenkins Jr writing in the Wall Street Journal.

Continue reading “2022: Trump’s year?”

Trumpism is back.  But what is Trumpism?

Because the Commonwealth of Virginia holds its elections one year after America’s federal elections, it can serve as a mid-term report card for the national government a few miles up the road in Washington DC. Message to Biden: must pay attention and try harder.

Virginia has been moving decisively towards the Democrats for more than a decade now.  But election night results suggest that the Republicans are going to make a clean sweep in both executive offices and the lower house.  Their candidate for Governor, the delightfully named Glenn Youngkin (truly – could Trumpkin ever have been elected President) defeated a well-funded aggressively-campaigning former incumbent for the job.

Continue reading “Trumpism is back.  But what is Trumpism?”

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”