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Thursday, July 28, 2016

Trump to Russia: “Mr. Putin: Release my tax returns!”

Donald Trump calling on Russian intelligence yesterday to hack into IRS servers and release his tax returns (Image: AFP)

In a remarkable volte-face, Republican presidential candidate Donald Trump appealed to Russian state hackers to break into IRS servers and release his 30,000 missing tax returns. He has claimed until now that because of an ongoing IRS audit, he is not able to release them himself. This was considered a significant break with an unwritten tradition followed by all presidential contenders for decades, and a hint that Trump may have something really yuge to hide.

As to who leaked the internal emails of the Democratic Party, Trump said "If it is Russia – nobody knows. It could be China. It could be somebody sitting in his bed." The last observation was widely thought by insiders to be an allusion to our own Creditanstalt Intelligence Bureau.

Historians think that Trump’s “Mr. Putin: Release my tax returns!” may go down in history with Ronald Reagan’s immortal 1987 “Mr. Gorbachev: Tear down this wall!” speech.

Will Donald Trump’s “Mr. Putin: Release my tax returns!” speech join Reagan’s 1987 “Mr. Gorbachev: Tear down this wall!” speech as a defining event in American history? (Image: Wikimedia Commons)

Thursday, July 21, 2016

Donald Trump’s Usurpation of the Republican Party: Just a Tempest in a Cappuccino Cup?

Trump for President as latte art (note to the uninitiated: the elephant is the traditional mascot of the Republican Party)

On the eve of Donald Trump’s anointment to Republican Presidential Candidate, a cappuccino cup provides an omen of the ephemerality of this revolution.

Thursday, July 14, 2016

Brexit Dumpty's Return Provokes International Mirth

Theresa May has garnered accolades for the speed and professionalism with which she has interred David Cameron as British prime minister in the wake of the Brexit own goal referendum. But as the British say, "Brexits will be Brexits!"

However, her appointment of Boris Johnson as foreign secretary (aka Brexit Dumpty, author of the forthcoming memoir "I didn't do it! The Brexit Story") has provoked international mirth.

Apparently, all the King's horses and all the King's men could put Humpty Dumpty back together again. How well remains to be seen, however. 

Or was the intention to cement the "special relationship" clown to clown, so to speak, after the US elections?

Tuesday, July 5, 2016

Sometimes a Jewish Star of David is Just a Sheriff’s Badge: Right-Wing Populism’s Obsession with Six-Pointed Objects

Presumptive Republican Presidential Nominee Donald Trump has been eating some crow lately for tweeting a picture of his Presumptive Democratic Presidential Rival Hillary Clinton (an actually rather flattering picture, you have to admit) against a background of cash next to a six-pointed star with the text “Most Corrupt Candidate Ever!” After critics quickly pointed out that the six-pointed star overlaying money immediately invoked deep anti-Semitic archetypes, Trump deleted the original and retweeted it with a red circle around the text, but with some of the original points still peeking out (the Trump campaign apparently has not yet been able to hire versatile Photoshop experts from any of the Trump enterprises to recycle Trump’s campaign loans to himself). In the meantime, the original picture has been traced back to a white supremacist and anti-Semitic website, according to research by
For anyone following the rise of right-wing populism in Austria, this deliberate media provocation must seem like déjà vu all over again. In 2012, H.-C. Strache, head of the FPÖ, the Freiheitliche Partei Österreichs (Austrian “Freedom” Party, but more accurately translated as free-market or libertarian), posted this picture on his Facebook pages:

Posting from Austrian Freedom Party Chairman Strache’s Facebook page in 2012, with enlargement of the banker’s buttons revealing six-pointed stars. The caricature shows the government (middle) serving the banks (left) an opulent meal, while the people (right) are left to starve. Strache’s text makes a connection with the Eurozone’s recent bailout of European banks. Strache’s version added the stars and a hooked nose to the banker, from the original version posted on, proving that his party already had superior Photoshop experts than Trump.

The irony of this incident, aside from the anti-Semitism, is that it was exactly Strache’s predecessor as FPÖ chairman, Jörg Haider, who was almost single-handedly responsible for post-war Austria’s greatest bank failure, the Carinthian crony-capitalist Hypo-Alpe-Adria Bank, leaving the Austrian Federal Government to pick up the billions of Euros in bad debt. And there was not a Jewish banker in sight in this purely ‘Arian’ scandal.This failure has been likened to the 1931 failure of the Creditanstalt, which, as all readers of this blog will know, was the Lehman Bros. of the Great Depression.
Both populist politicians strenuously denied intentional anti-Semitic dog-whistling (which in Strache’s case was so unsubtle as not even to merit the designation dog-whistle, but rather was a prime candidate for the Stürmer prize of the year) and quickly taken down in the original form under protests of innocence and Ahnungslosigkeit.

1934 front page of Nazi Der Stürmer newspaper, the archetype of modern anti-Semitic propaganda. Headline: “Jewish Plot to Exterminate Non-Jewish Humanity Revealed!” The plotters have certainly been taking their time, but that hasn’t prevented anti-Semites from constantly recycling the charge, particularly after financial crises.

But while one could argue that this kind of anti-Semitism is so deeply embedded in the world’s collective, Jungian archetypical subconscious that there is no hope of exterminating it even after the Holocaust, there is still a problem here. Most contemporary right-wing populist parties, whatever their original roots, have been making efforts to distinguish themselves from the traditional anti-Semitic right. After all, there are much more promising targets for populist discontent today, such as ‘radical Islam,’ or all Muslims, or Mexicans, or even Polish plumbers. ‘Enlightened’ right-wingers like the FN’s Marine Le Pen have gone to considerable lengths to distance herself from her father’s traditional anti-Semitism. And there are powerful and well-established Jews in their countries who, when they are not busy plotting to exterminate the rest of humanity, might just have some spare change (think Sheldon Adelson) and political sympathies for right-wing populism .
Even the FPÖ’s H-C Strache has gone to the trouble of visiting Israel’s Yad Vashem Holocaust Remembrance Center and try to establish ties with right-wing Israelis, on common anti-Islamic grounds. Yet to demonstrate his respect, instead of a Jewish yarmulke he wore the cap of his German-national, duelling fraternity, seen by many right-wingers as a clever back-handed provocation.

 Ein peinliches Versehen oder eine bewusste 
Screenshot of Strache’s 2010 visit to Yad Vashem.

Nor does anyone think that Donald Trump, who together with his father made his fortune by renting apartments to predominantly Jewish tenants (while claiming to be of Swedish rather than German descent) and by being a crony of the Brooklyn Democratic Party, with which the Jewish Mayors Abe Beame and Ed Koch were associated, is personally anti-Semitic. Nevertheless, these dog-whistle and not so dog-whistle exercises in anti-Semitism cannot be unintentional (no one is that stupid), but they have one thing in common that populists love: publicity. Deniable publicity to the general public, winking and pandering publicity to their extreme-right audiences, but in any case free publicity.
And this is the one cardinal thing that Donald Trump learned from his mentor, Roy Cohn: there is no bad publicity. The fact that Cohn himself was Jewish (and a McCarthyite scoundrel, closet homosexual, and general mafia-connected wastrel) made no difference at all. So sometimes, a Jewish Star of David really is just a sheriff’s badge.
But there is one little thing that Donald Trump may still want to learn from H-C Strache: if you lose an election, just get the Supreme Court to keep repeating it until your candidate wins!
roy cohn donald trump
From left: Roy Cohn, journalist Ed Kosner and Donald Trump. Photograph: Sonia Moskowitz/Getty Images

Sunday, July 3, 2016

German Government May Renew Edict of Potsdam for Brexit Refugees: CIB Breaking News!

The original Edict of Potsdam (top) from 1685 may be renewed for all British refugees regardless of race or religion. After the Revocation of the Edict of Nantes by Louis XIV in that year, French dragonnades began coercing French Protestants to convert to Catholicism (bottom).

CIB Breaking News, VIENNA -- A German government spokesperson said yesterday that the 1685 Edict of Potsdam may be renewed to allow Brexit refugees from Great Britain to resettle in Germany. The original Edict was promulgated to resettle Huguenot (French Protestant) refugees escaping persecution after Louis XIV revoked the Edict of Nantes that same year. Some 400,000 are thought to have fled France for Great Britain, the Dutch Republic, Prussia, Switzerland, and overseas colonies, bringing with them valuable scientific, technological and entrepreneurial skills. Among them were such luminaries as Denis Papin, who first developed the principle of the atmospheric steam engine.

The first piston steam engine (top), developed by Huguenot refugee Denis Papin in 1690 in Germany and then brought by him to England, where it probably influenced Newcomen’s first practical 1712 steam engine (bottom).

Apart from humanitarian grounds, the German government hopes to reap important economic benefits from the migration of highly skilled British workers fleeing the decades of chaos expected to follow from the invocation of the EU Article 50 exit clause (“Revocation of the Edict of Lisbon”), much as Prussia and Britain did by welcoming Huguenots.
It still remains to be seen who will play the role of Louis XIV in a future British government after Boris “Brexit Dumpty” Johnson said that it “cannot be me”. The German spokesperson placed the decision in the context of Chancellor Angela Merkel’s “wir schaffen das” liberal immigration and asylum policy, despite opposition from anti-immigrant AfD and Pegida movements. The spokesperson went on to state
It’s a good sign that the youth of Great Britain are more clever than their bizarre political elite. For that reason we can’t raise our drawbridge on them. We have to think now about what we can offer Great Britain’s younger generation. (The Guardian 3 July)
The German government is even considering extending personal asylum offers to prominent Brexit opponents, such as the Financial Times’ satirical columnist Robert Shrimsley, who in his column on July 1 decrying the referendum result wrote
I realise that this may look like the much-derided elitist metropolitan sneering. I do, indeed, live in a London bubble in which none of my friends voted out. And you know what? That’s just how I like it. After Thursday, that London bubble looks even more attractive. It is surely a badge of honour that no one close to me is foolish enough to have believed anything Boris Johnson told them.
The unnamed German spokesperson said that the German government would be happy to create a “Berlin bubble” attractive to such Brexit opponents as Shrimsley should they find the obtuseness of their compatriots increasingly unbearable.
In an indication of future problems, however, an AfD spokesperson immediately objected that Germany is already full of degenerate (“entartet”), uppity Jewish refugee satirists, such as Wladimir Kaminer:
The Jewish refugee satirist boat is already full in Germany. We need to leave room for Jewish weaponized Keynesian economists like Paul Krugman, who will soon enough be looking for someplace to flee after Donald Trump takes office. He’s the only economist capable of filling the shoes of Hjalmar Schacht in running a proper employment policy (“eine ordentliche Beschäftigungspolitik”). Germany long ago lost all its weaponized Keynesians in the name of politically correct Ordoliberalism.
Additional reporting was contributed by Kurt Tucholsky in Berlin and Evelyn Waugh in London.

Saturday, July 2, 2016

British Brexit Political Theater: Gove and Johnson as Tweedledum and Tweedledee

Alice preparing Tweedledum and Tweedledee for battle
Tweedledum and Tweedledee
Agreed to have a battle;
For Tweedledum said Tweedledee
Had spoiled his nice new rattle.
Just then flew down a monstrous crow,
As black as a tar-barrel;
Which frightened both the heroes so,
They quite forgot their quarrel.
(English nursery rhyme)

The backstabbing and self-immolation of leading Brexit Leave politicians Michael Gove and Boris Johnson (aka Brexit Dumpty) has not seen its like on the British stage since Macbeth and Hamlet.

But was it all a tempest in a teapot, with
Theresa May now prepared to inter them both as Conservative Party leader?

One again, Lewis Carroll seems to have had the last word on the Gove/Johnson spat:
“Of course you agree to have a battle?” Tweedledum said in a calmer tone.
“I suppose so,” the other sulkily replied, as he crawled out of the umbrella: “only she must help us to dress up, you know.”
So the two brothers went off hand-in-hand into the wood, and returned in a minute with their arms full of things— such as bolsters, blankets, hearth-rugs, table-cloths, dish-covers and coal-scuttles. “I hope you’re a good hand at pinning and tying strings?” Tweedledum remarked. “Every one of these things has got to go on, somehow or other.”
Alice said afterwards she had never seen such a fuss made about anything in all her life—the way those two bustled about—and the quantity of things they put on—and the trouble they gave her in tying strings and fastening buttons— “Really they’ll be more like bundles of old clothes than anything else, by the time they’re ready!” she said to herself, as he arranged a bolster round the neck of Tweedledee, “to keep his head from being cut off,” as he said.
“You know,” he added very gravely, “it’s one of the most serious things that can possibly happen to one in a battle— to get one’s head cut off.”
Alice laughed loud; but she managed to turn it into a cough, for fear of hurting his feelings.
“Do I look very pale?” said Tweedledum, coming up to have his helmet tied on. (He called it a helmet, though it certainly looked much more like a saucepan.)
“Well—yes—a little,” Alice replied gently.
“I’m very brave generally,” he went on in a low voice: “only to-day I happen to have a headache.”
“And I’ve got a toothache!’ said Tweedledee, who had overheard the remark. “I’m far worse off than you!”
“Then you’d better not fight to-day,” said Alice, thinking it a good opportunity to make peace.
“We must have a bit of a fight, but I don’t care about going on long,” said Tweedledum. “What’s the time now?”
Tweedledee looked at his watch, and said “Half-past four.”
“Let’s fight till six, and then have dinner,” said Tweedledum.
(Through the Looking-Glass And What Alice Found There, 1871, pp. 86 – 88)
posted from Bloggeroid