Archive for the ‘Current Affairs’ Category

Political Ineptitude on Either Side of the Pond

Sunday, March 31st, 2019

I’ve been writing this blog for several years now, and most topics I write about roll onto the page with very little effort. However, I appear to have a hit a wall regarding the post I’m attempting to share with my reader. Nevertheless my editor (which is me by the way) has given me an ultimatum: write or resign.

The ineptitude on either side of the pond has almost run parallel lines for the last two or three years. In June 2016, the UK held a referendum on whether to remain or leave the EU. Nobody was more shocked or stunned than Prime Minister David Cameron when the British people voted to leave. He immediately resigned and was replaced by a “remainer” Theresa May. From the outset she did a credible impression of Emperor Nero, fiddling while Rome burned. March 29th,  2019 was the date set for UK to leave the European Union, but very little appeared to be accomplished to initiate Britain’s exit for the first two years. However, a new word entered the Oxford English dictionary: BREXIT.

Meanwhile, Donald Trump was elected President of  the USA in November 2016 against all the odds. He had never been active in politics, and was a billionaire from his dealings in real estate. That’s an oversimplification of his business interests, but suffice to say he ran a multi-million empire. The Democrats were so  mortified that their candidate, Hilary Clinton, (that paragon of virtue) had been defeated by a man who has been called misogynistic, a racist, homophobic, arrogant, narcissistic, and egotistical that they refused to accept he had won. Aided and abetted by the Liberal biased media, they attempted to obstruct every element of his agenda.

This was brought to a head when the Democrats accused Trump of colluding with the Russians to win the election. In 2017 a Commission, headed by FBI Special Counsel Robert Mueller, was directed to investigate these claims. On March 22nd this year, Mueller completed his report and gave it to Attorney General William Barr who in turn presented a summary of Mueller’s findings to Congress which confirmed that Trump was not guilty of any collusions with Russian that may have affected the outcome to the US elections.

The Democrats were not content with the Attorney General’s summary and demanded that the full report be published. They will be granted their wish next week, and whether it cools Trumps ardor remains to be seen.

Meanwhile  Theresa May attempted to make up for lost time by  scurrying around Europe these past few months attempting to get an exit deal done by the allotted deadline. Complicit with the way Brexit has been handled she first had to have the EU approve her Brexit agreement which they did. Unfortunately for Theresa May she also required Parliament to approve her deal, but they rejected her deal for the third time on March 29th, ironically the appointed date that the UK was designated to leave the EU . It was a much closer margin (286-344) than the previous two votes in March and January, but still short of the majority.

May tried a new tactic to get her deal through Parliament this time: offering to resign if MPs backed her plan. I don’t quite understand the double entendre here. Surely if her deal was approved she would continue to see it through, and only resign if it was duly rejected for a third time. So why doesn’t she resign? For the love of God, go woman. My son claims that the UK did not have a qualified negotiator to steer BREXIT through troubled waters, and the man they should have appointed to that post should have been Nigel Farage who led the campaign to leave before the referendum was taken. Bearing in mind that Farage was not a member of the Conservative Party, let alone the Government, it would have been tantamount to giving an inmate the keys to the asylum.

We can vacillate over the incompetence of Theresa May’s handling of BREXIT, and debate over whether there was sufficient evidence to set up a Commission to investigate Trump’s possible collusion with the Russians. But what is lost in all this mess is the damage done to Democracy. The British people voted to leave the EU, albeit by a small majority, and the Government was consequently honor bound to comply with the people’s decision. Similarly, Trump was elected President, and love him or loathe him, the Democrats should have accepted the decision of the American electorate. Instead they behaved like an infant throwing his dolls out of the pram.

When the Democratic Party  won back Congress last November their remit was to obstruct any piece of legislation introduced by Trump. Case in point, Trump requested $5 million to build a wall on the border between the USA and Mexico. Congress predictably rejected his request. Trump declared a State of Emergency which is not surprising when it was recorded that 76000 migrants illegally attempted to cross the border in the month of February. Trump has subsequently transferred money from the Military Budget to fund his wall. Needless to say, Barak Obama gave the green light to build a border wall during his Administration with no opposition from Congress.

Unless you advocate anarchy, respect the ballot box and the Rule of Law. People may argue that they were voted differently if all the facts were made available. That maybe so, but there is sufficient information in the media and on the World Wide Web for voters to make an informed decision. Trouble is I can’t vouch for the intelligence of the average voter.

Menage a Trois

Friday, December 28th, 2018

Thanks to the overwhelming response to my previous post “Partnerships,” (I received one comment which was from my son) I am continuing a similar theme. Only this time I’m concentrating on trios that were linked in some macabre way. Let’s begin with a comedy act from America, “The Three Stooges,” Moe, Curly and Larry. They didn’t appeal to British audiences, but were very successful in America.

Shell Petrol sponsored “World of Golf” featuring Arnold Palmer, Jack Nicklaus and Gary Player and they became to be known as “The Big Three.” I mentioned in my previous post that Best, Law and Charlton dominated the stage at Manchester United in the 1960s. There’s a  statue of the three of them forever linked in bronze to commemorate their achievements. I also can’t leave out the midfield trio from Tottenham Hotspur: Blanchflower, Mackay and White, who were instrumental in Spurs being the first club to achieve the Double (Championship and FA Cup) in the 20th Century. John White was tragically killed by lightning sheltering under a tree on a golf course in 1965, and was never really replaced.

Turning to politics, Hugh Gaitskell, leader of the Labour Party died suddenly in 1963, and there were three contenders to replace him: Harold Wilson, George Brown, and James Callaghan. Wilson eventually won the leadership contest and became Prime Minister in 1964. Brown served as Foreign Secretary while Callaghan lived next door to 10 Downing Street as Chancellor of the Exchequer. Brown gained notoriety by appearing on television several times in an intoxicated state, and arguably made more sense when he was drunk.

Show business inevitably is littered with trios: The Bachelors, The Beverly Sisters, The Andrew Sisters, The Supremes, The Crystals, The Springfields. Dusty Springfield achieved  greater fame as a solo artist. Eric Clapton comprised for a short time one third of the rock band Cream, but he too achieved greater success as a solo artist. Emerson, Lake and Palmer deserve a mention as one of the first super groups. I could have included Crosby, Stills and Nash but Neil Young made them into a quartet.

Rugby has natural trios in the form of front rows, none more famous than Faulkner, Windsor and Price, They were Wales’s first ever one-club front row, and immortalized in a song by Max Boyce as the Viet Gwent. Comments on a postcard please if you believe I have misconstrued that phrase. Wales had a tremendous back row in the seventies in the shape of Merv the Swerve, Basil Brush Taylor, and Dai Morris, The Shadow.

Finally it would be remiss of me not to mention the “Three Tenors,” Pavarotti, Placido Domingo, and Jose Carreras. The 1990 World Cup brought them into prominence with the general public when the BBC used “Nessa Dorme,” beautifully sung by Pavarotti, as their theme song for televising the month long tournament. The Three Tenors gave a memorable concert towards the end of the tournament which propelled their careers to greater heights.

I could write a sequel on quartets where rock bands like the Beatles, Stones and The Who would be rich pickings. But I’m becoming rather bored with this theme, so goodness knows what it’s doing to my reader. So there you are. It only remains for me to wish y’all a Happy and Healthy New Year.

Engaging

Tuesday, December 5th, 2017

I just returned from spending two weeks in the UK. Before flying back to Atlanta my last day in the old country was dominated by the breaking news of  Prince Harry’s engagement to American, Meghan Merkel. Dreary stories of Brexit, immigration, housing shortage were put aside by the tabloids, and the Daily Mail led the pack with saturation coverage of the happy couple’s betrothment.

I picked up a copy of the Daily Mail on the air plane, and I decided to share with you some of  the headlines that came bursting off the page:

  • The stars were all aligned…..this beautiful woman just fell into my life
  • Harry went down on one knee over a roast chicken dinner..
  • Even the Queen’s corgis took to her straight away
  • What a gal! Ermine edged poise and a creamy dollop of pure American vivacity
  • He knew she was The One the moment he saw her…
  • His bride’s a divorced American actress who’s older than him-and is not afraid to speak her mind. But Harry loves breaking the rules…..
  • Divorcee to wed Harry in church
  • Meanwhile, Trump is conspicuously silent
  • How Meghan went from a seedy Los Angeles tenement to a Palace
  • A bride descended from slaves and why the Royal Family keep proving the sneering snobs wrong
  • All that yoga’s paying off!
  • What DID Harry see in the remarkable Ms. Markle?
  • TV roles she’d rather forget and the ones he’d rather forget…
  • Bride-to-Be is divorced American actress who will become first mixed-race member of Royal Family..
  • Modern Markle will banish the ghost of Ms. Simpson…
  • Prince’s passions and flaws have inspired genuine public affection…
  • Think again Meghan- your in-laws will eat you alive….

Trump Administration Casualties and The Trump-Russia Investigation

Monday, September 11th, 2017

Donald Trump once had a reality show “The Apprentice” where he delighted in eliminating contestants by informing them that “You’re Fired!” It appears that he took his penchant for firing people  to a new level when he became President of the United States:

  • Michael Flynn-National Security Adviser (resigned) 22 days
  • Sally Yates– Acting Attorney General (fired) 10 days
  • Preet Bhara-US attorney for the Southern Districts of NY
  • Derek Harvey-Top Middle East adviser for National Security Council (fired) 186 days
  • Katie Walsh-Deputy WH Chief of Staff (resigned) 69 days
  • James Comey-FBI Director (fired) 109 days
  • Reince Priebus-Chief of Staff (resigned) 189 days
  • Michael Dubka-Communications Director (resigned) 85 days
  • Walter Shaub-Office of Government Ethics Director (resigned) 180 days. Shaub called the Trump administration a “laughing stock” following his resignation.
  • Anthony Scaramucci-Communications Director (fired) 10 days
  • Sean Spicer-Press Secretary, WH director of communications (resigned) 182 days
  • Michael Short-Press Aide (resigned) 186 days
  • Steve Bannon-Chief Strategist (mutually agreed departure) 210 days
  • Sebastian Gorka-National Security Aide (unclear) 217 days
  • Carl Ichan-Special adviser to the President on regulatory reform (resigned) 210 days
  • White House manufacturing council (dissolved) 201 days
  • White House economic advisory council (dissolved) 201 days
  • Angella Reid– WH chief usher (fired) 105 days
  • Craig Deare-National Security Council Senior Director for Western Hemisphere affairs (fired) 26 days
  • K.T. McFarland– Deputy national security advisor (reassigned) 117 days
  • HR McMaster-National Security Adviser (fired) 13 months.
  • Rex Tillerson-Secretary of State (fired) 14 months.
  • Gary Cohn-Chief Economic Adviser (resigned) 14 months.
  • Hope Hicks– White House Communications Director (resigned) six years in the Trump Organization and three years with Trump during his campaign and presidency.
  • Andrew McCabe– Deputy Director of the FBI (fired) 14 months.
  • Tom Price-Health Secretary (resigned)

Despite the unfortunate distractions provided by Hurricanes Harvey and Irma, the Trump-Russia Investigation has accelerated. Armed with more evidence, special counsel Robert Mueller has impaneled a federal grand jury in Washington, D.C. to investigate whether Trump and his associates colluded with Russian operatives to win the White House.

The most critical witness of all, and a likely target of the investigation, is Trump himself. As the grand jury investigation accelerates, and it focuses on Trump’s role, he will almost certainly be subpoenaed, and his testimony demanded. It should be emphasized that Trump has no legal privilege to avoid testifying  before the grand jury. A grand jury has the power to compel testimony from anyone, even as president, as Bill Clinton was compelled to do for the first time in U.S. history in 1998.

These are some of the general areas that Trump likely would be questioned about. Each of these areas is a relatively core subject, and would likely be the foundation to develop peripheral questions:

  • Did Trump know when he  was running for president and hired Paul Manafort as his campaign manager that Manafort had extensive financial dealings and lobbying work with Ukrainian and pro-Russian officials? Did he discuss Manafort’s connections with anyone?
  • What was the basis for Trump’s decision to fire FBI Director James Comey? With whom did he discuss the firing? Did he discuss the firing with Attorney General Jeff Sessions?
  • Did Trump know that his son Donald Jr., son-in-law Jared Kushner, and Paul Manafort met with a Russian lawyer during the campaign and allegedly obtained damaging information about Hilary Clinton? When did he learn about the meeting? From whom? What was his response?
  • Did Trump alter Don Jr., initial statement about the Russian meeting, in which Don Jr. stated that he met to discuss Russian adoption but then changed this fabricated story to a new explanation that he wanted to judge Clinton’s “fitness.”
  • Did Trump have any financial dealings, projects, loans, and any other financial or other interests with Russia, Russian officials, and Russian business interests?
  • Did Trump know of any contacts between persons involved in his campaign and Russian intelligence operatives? Who were these persons? Did he have any conversations with them?

A Bit Like a Curate’s Egg

Monday, September 4th, 2017

An American friend of mine asked me where I was yesterday because I wasn’t in work. I told him I was playing golf. He asked how was my round. I said it was a bit like a curate’s egg. He exclaimed: “What the hell does that mean?” I said that it meant it was good in parts and bad in places. In my mind that was a perfectly accurate explanation, but unfortunately not in the American idiom and therefore lost in translation.

Come to think of it, a curate’s egg would also describe Trump’s presidency. Trump is actually the reason I haven’t written anything over the past few weeks. I had planned to write a review of his first 100 days as President but the whole period was dominated by the Russian connection to the Trump family and the alleged Russian influence on the Presidential Election. I then decided to review his first six months in office but his presidency continued to be mired in potential scandal, North Korea, firings, resignations of his Cabinet and White House staff, and now Hurricane Harvey’s devastating impact on Houston.

During his election campaign, he promised to “drain the swamp” which he attributed to eradicating Washington of political corruption. This is all very well but he alienated politicians on both sides of the house, and therefore its no surprise he failed to have sufficient support to repeal or scrap Affordable Care Act, also known as Obamacare and make other positive changes to the nation’s health care system. Recently Trump commented that the swamp had now evolved into a sewer! He probably extended his colorful rhetoric to include most of the media who he constantly condemns for producing “fake news.”

One of his nemesis is Senator John McCain who Trump publically insulted by claiming “real heroes don’t get captured,” referring to McCain’s long internment by the Vietnamese when he was shot down over enemy territory. McCain was recently diagnosed with brain cancer, but made a remarkable comeback to the senate to provide the decisive “no” to block the repeal of Obamacare.

One could argue that Trump has made progress with illegal immigration, the economy and other issues since he took office. There is almost a 50% reduction  in illegal crossings on the southern border, consumer confidence is at a 16 year high, and CEO confidence is at a 20% high. He has also achieved some success in Congress approving in principle to build the wall on the border between USA and Mexico. Could this wall rival in time the history, notoriety and infamy of  Hadrian’s Wall, The Great Wall of China, or the Berlin Wall?

When Congress returns from their summer break, the major item on the agenda will be tax reform which was ranked high on Trump’s election platform. Meanwhile he has to deal with the contentious issue of North Korea firing nuclear missiles across Japan, and recently producing a hydrogen bomb. Trump has threatened North Korea with some aggressive rhetoric, but he may have to rely on international diplomacy to take the heat out of a risky situation.

Swansea City have had  what could be described as a curate’s egg of their own in the summer transfer window. They sold last season’s  two top goal scorers and chief creator, Siggurdson and LLorente to Everton and Tottenham respectively. Only to make one of the more audacious loan deals of the transfer window by signing 20 year old Portugese international Sanchez from Bayern Munich for the remainder of the season. This was quickly followed by the return of former favorite Wilfried Bony who hopefully can recapture his form that he produced in 2014-15.

On a final note, I found it ironic that Georgia’s Governor unveiled a bronze statue of Martin Luther King at the Capital Building in downtown Atlanta last week amidst the protests and outcry nationwide to remove countless Confederate statues. These protesters claim that the statues are racist and offensive to their delicate countenance. When will the Silent Majority stand up and tell them the statues represent a part of America’s history and do no harm to anyone with an iota of intelligence?

 

Unanswered Questions

Friday, April 14th, 2017
  • Why do some people smother their steaks with ketchup?
  • Why do some Atlanta drivers refuse to use headlights when the visibility is almost zero?
  • Why do some Atlanta drivers feel that using blinkers is an affront to their masculinity?
  • Can you define the  word “schism” and use it in a sentence?
  • Why does hair sprout from unusual places but ceases to grow on your head when you are older?
  • Why didn’t my parents warn me to take better care of my body to offset the wreckage of old age?
  • What is the difference between refugees, asylum seekers and migrants?
  • Do Germans and Greeks really dislike each other?
  • Why do I regard myself as Welsh first, British second, and European a distant third?
  • Who is John Ossoff and why has he been foisted on people living in the Sixth District of Georgia when he doesn’t even live here?
  • Why are spectators referred to as Patrons at the Masters?
  • Why does CBS’s Jim Nantz assume everyone is his friend?
  • Would I rather be ugly and rich, or poor and good-looking?
  • Would you rather always lose or never play?
  • Would you rather be forgotten or hatefully remembered?
  • Would you rather get even or get over it?
  • Would you rather kiss a horse or lick a cow?
  •  Why did it take a homeless person to do what transit planners, engineers, and consultant could not do…..get the attention of politicians to start looking at transportations options in Metro Atlanta.
  • Why aren’t Americans familiar with the phrase “curate’s egg?”
  • Why do Swansea City’s American owners remind me of Steptoe and Son?
  • Why did the Atlanta Braves win only one world series  when they had three Hall of Fame pitchers in Smoltz, Glavine and Maddux?
  • Does 14 successive Division (which only comprises 5 teams) Titles  achieved by the Atlanta Braves define success, mediocrity, or missed opportunities?
  • Why is Easter, the most important event in the Christian Calendar, no longer a public holiday in America?
  • What is more important to the average sports fan, a winning team or a “state of the art” ultra modern stadium?
  • Why don’t we have a colony on the moon bearing in mind Neil Armstrong landed there in 1969?
  • Why are my compatible with certain individuals, but not others?
  • What is the criteria for defining a good friend?
  • Which of these three songs has been covered the most by other artists: George Harrison’s “Something,” Paul McCartney’s “Yesterday,’ or John Lennon’s “Imagine?”
  • Which is most likely to happen in my twilight years: Swansea City returning to the Premiership, or the Atlanta Falcons winning the Super Bowl?
  • Why is my neighborhood in Atlanta beginning to resemble Puerto Rico?
  • In an attempt to avoid the dreaded drop, will the Swans go gently into the good night, or fight the good fight?
  • With apologies to “The Clash,” should I stay (in America) or should I go (to Wales?)

Twenty Years Living in America

Tuesday, August 23rd, 2016

I emigrated to USA in 1996, and settled in Atlanta, Georgia. A couple of months later the Olympic Games descended upon the City, and I might have attended a few events, but the whole experience was  just a blur as I came to terms with my incongruous decision to move across the Atlantic. A little Frenchman told me it would take approximately two years to settle down, and he was spot on. Twenty years later, the adventure continues. Based on my time in Atlanta I’ve listed below things I like or liked about living in America and conversely things I dislike or disliked living there:

20 Things I like/liked about living in America

  • Blue skies with not a cloud to be seen.
  • Hot Wings and baby back ribs. My favorite places for those culinary delights are Taco Mac (the original location in Virginia Highlands,) Three Dollar Café and Wild West Wings, and Blue Ribbon which also does a mean martini.
  • A big house, bang for the buck which we couldn’t possibly afford if we were still living in the UK.
  • Health care, and I’m not referring to Obama Care.
  • NBC coverage of the Premiership. I can watch more Premiership games live than my son can living in London.
  • Air Conditioning
  • Variety of places to travel in one big country: mountains, desert, tropics, beaches where the water is actually warm. Alaska and Hawaii would have been difficult to reach if I still lived in the UK.
  • Visiting Monument Valley at sunrise was breathtaking.
  • Touring the national parks in Utah was a truly awesome experience.
  • Learning another language; American-English. I’ve battled for twenty years to master the dialect, but I’m afraid it’s a losing battle. Allow me to apologize to y’all. For example,  Atlanta is embracing the merits of the roundabout, but have labeled it the traffic circle.
  • Visiting Great American cities; Washington DC, New York, Chicago, New Orleans, Savannah, Pittsburgh, San Francisco, Los Angeles to name but a few.
  • Our dog Tiger, was an unusual mix of chow and collie  who passed away in 2007, aged 17. He was probably my  best friend in America. He was  brave, strong, loyal, loveable with a sense of mischief.
  • Open air concerts at Chastain Park ranging from Harry Connick Jr., Tony “Bleeding” Bennett, Ringo Starr All Star Band, Huey Lewis and The News, BB King (God rest his Soul,) Chuck Berry and Ray Charles.
  • Grilling out on the Big Green Egg for nearly 10 months of the year.
  • The High Museum of Art. I had the  privilege of viewing an Impressionist exhibition, a Norman Rockwell collection of originals, and Elton John’s photography collection by several famous photographers.
  • The opportunity to attend four different professional sports in one city: basketball (Hawks) ice hockey (Thrashers now extinct,) baseball (Braves) and American football (Falcons.) a Major League Soccer team, Atlanta United, will be playing here next season.
  • Visiting Hawaii and Alaska both of which provide breathtaking scenery. Active volcanoes, bears catching salmon, a flight around Mt. McKinley were just a few of the highlights.
  • Chick_Fil_A, easily the best fast food restaurant chain in America.
  • Lightning bugs and humming birds in our backyard.
  • Close proximity to an international airport.

20 Things I don’t like about living in America.

  • Traffic where the increasing number of tractor-trailers intermingled with idiots make driving conditions extremely difficult not to mention driving on the wrong side of the road.
  • Dog days (excluding Tiger…) of summer when the humidity is at its highest and most unbearable.
  • Political correctness.
  • Lack of community spirit.
  • Sense of entitlement of certain racial ethnicities.
  • Deteoriation in customer service in stores, restaurants and bars.
  • Insularity. I’m afraid the “special relationship” that supposedly exists between the UK and USA is grossly exaggerated. Millennials don’t relate to  World War 2 or the British Pop invasion in the ’60s. As one local talking head put it so succinctly: “Britain is that little island off the west coast of Europe.”
  • Total bias of major TV and radion networks whether it be conservative or liberal. The media has become propaganda machines favoring one party over the other unwilling to give the public objective commentary on current affairs.
  • Eighteen months of personal mud slinging campaigning to earn the right to be the presidential candidate for your Party. And boy have we ended up with two humdingers in Clinton and Trump.
  • Sixty feet high trees falling on my house and in my yard.
  • The fallacy that I could reinvent myself in USA.
  • Noisy restaurants. I can’t understand why people need to shout and scream at each other across the table.
  • Roofs (shingles) which only have a shelf life of 15-20 years. Where is the good old Welsh slate when you need it?
  • The South’s obsession with college football. Alabama doesn’t have a professional sports team, but the Crimson Tide (University of Alabama) attracts 90,000 to home games. They enjoyed a similar attendance for a practice game last season. (14)
  • Sports radio stations in Atlanta, and the irrelevant pre-season NFL football games.

Ten Reasons why Trump can defeat Hilary

Wednesday, August 10th, 2016

Since Donald Trump was announced as the official Republican nominee to be President of the USA, he appears to be hell bent on putting his foot in his mouth every time he makes a speech. What he fails to understand is most Americans don’t understand sarcastic humor which is constantly dripping from his lips. Despite negative media bias towards Trump, Daily Mail columnist Piers Morgan believes there are 10 reasons why Trump can win the White House in November:

it’s actually happened: Donald Trump IS the official Republican nominee to be President of the United States

1) ‘Crooked Hillary’. Trump’s most effective strategy has been to brand his opponents with mocking monikers they find impossible to shake off. ‘Low Energy Jeb’ was a devastating knockout blow to the chances of a third Bush reaching the White House. ‘Little Marco’ reduced Senator Rubio to a diminished laughing stock. ‘Lyin’ Ted’ struck a metaphorical machete into the Cruz campaign. And John Kasich’s miserable record of failure on the primary trail led to Trump dubbing him ‘1 for 38 Kasich’ then ‘1 for 44 Kasich’ and so on until he threw in the towel. Now Trump’s relentlessly targeting Clinton with the title ‘Crooked Hillary.”

Trump's family is a huge asset - like wealthier Kennedys without the baggage. The more we see and hear from them the better

Trump’s family is a huge asset – like wealthier Kennedys without the baggage. The more we see and hear from them the better

2) His family. The Trumps are a bunch of aesthetically pleasing, articulate charmers who would slip effortlessly into life as America’s new First Family. They’re like the Kennedys only without all the baggage and so wealthy they’d probably view the White House as a small holiday home. Ivanka is a beautiful, razor-smart, very personable, high-heeled vote-winner who will wow even the most anti-Trump voters.

3) The TV debates. These will break all records for U.S. election encounters as Americans rush to see the ultimate one-on-one showdown between two equally divisive and polarising, but also hugely famous candidates. Hillary’s not bad at debating, but the big stage is where Donald comes into his own. He’s a TV superstar and a natural showman who loves working the camera and audiences. It’s his domain, his lair, and I can see him working Hillary over with well-planned zingers which might penetrate even her Rhino-skin.

4) The Rust Belt. Trump has to turn some of Obama’s blue states red to win the big prize. That means places like Ohio, Iowa, Michigan, Pennsylvania and Wisconsin, where the margins of Democrat victories at the last election were all relatively small. Trump’s great advantage in these areas of America is that he is very similar to the very blue collar workers he needs to deliver for him: brash, non-nonsense, plain-speaking. They lap up his jobs’ talk and patriotic, chest-thumping style. The working class white vote played a big role in Trump’s advance through the Republican primaries and if he can simply drive down the Democrat vote in that demographic in the Rust Belt states, it’s game on for the presidency.

5) His VP pick. Trump was much smarter here than people seem to realise. By going for an unknown like Mike Pence, he defied all expectations that he’d choose an equally charismatic running mate like Chris Christie or Newt Gingrich, who would both have over-egged the testosterone soufflé. Instead, he played safe with a middle-aged, conventional, grey-haired white guy with Midwestern values who’s worked in Congress, been a Governor, is popular with evangelicals and has views that tie him to the very bowels of American Conservatism. He’s the complete opposite in other words to John McCain’s 2008 VP pick Sarah Palin. Pence won’t thrill the crowds, but he won’t scare the horses either and he will appeal in his own quiet, calm way to many Americans sitting on the fence about whether they can vote for a flamboyant maverick candidate like Trump. If I were Trump, I’d have Pence out everywhere.

Vice Presidential nominee Gov. Mike Pence of Indiana was a great pick. He defied expectations with the choice, who is not thrilling maybe, but won't scare anyone. Here stands on stage rehearsing Wednedsay

Vice Presidential nominee Gov. Mike Pence of Indiana was a great pick. He defied expectations with the choice, who is not thrilling maybe, but won’t scare anyone.

6) His gut. Trump’s almost miraculous success in this race so far has been down to a number of things but predominantly his instinct for what will ‘play’ with the media and the voters. Trump’s a businessman at his core and has run a spectacularly effective marketing campaign based on his gut feel for what will grab headlines and what real people actually care about. Hence the Muslim ban, the Mexican wall, and the constant attacks on China stealing American jobs. When I spent some time down in Texas and Florida recently, immigration, Islamic terrorism and jobs were far and way the biggest concerns of most people I spoke to. Trump must continue to trust that gut of his because as far as winning votes goes, it works.

7) Social media. Trump’s got nearly 10 million followers on Twitter now and millions more on sites like Facebook. His posts are staggeringly bold, confrontational, dynamic, positive and abusive – sometimes all at the same time. They’re also authentic, in the sense that it’s obviously Trump speaking and he seems to believe everything he’s saying at the time he says it. People like that. He doesn’t hide behind politically correct statements, and isn’t afraid to attack those who attack him. This is resonating strongly in a country full of very angry people. They really are starting to believe his constant hype that he can ‘Make America Great Again.’

8) Get organized. Trump has started to surround himself with political bruisers used to fighting national elections and he needs more of them. You can’t win the presidency on a whim, prayer and dollops of bombast alone. He has to get his backroom team in serious order fast and there are signs he is doing just that. If he cracks the ground game, and avoids too many amateurish missteps, he can definitely land the presidency.

9) Charm. We’ve seen plenty of the aggressive, pugilist and sometimes downright nasty Trump in the past year and some of it has been pretty unedifying. Now it’s time to show a softer side too. The kind, caring, loving man that his family keep telling us exists. I’ve seen plenty of that side myself during my 10-year friendship with Donald and he can turn it on like a matinee movie idol when he wants to. America needs to see that beneath the King Kong image lies a beating heart, a man who truly cares about his fellow Americans, and at least the semblance of humility.

Worth mentioning twice - Crooked Hillary. When in doubt Trump can just keep whacking her

10) When in doubt, whack ‘Crooked’ Hillary. I started with this and I will finish with it too. Trump will win the presidency if he can persuade enough Democrats NOT to vote for their candidate. He doesn’t underestimate her. When I saw him in New York last month, he told me: ‘The Clintons are always formidable opponents.’ And he said it in an admiring way, like one champion boxer to another. But he also knows that she is deeply unpopular with a lot of her own people and has run a lacklustre campaign in which she even struggled to beat a 75-year-old socialist. Trump must play on her weaknesses hard and ruthlessly, as I’m sure he will. In Trump’s business world, you kill or be killed when it comes to landing a deal. This is the biggest deal of his life and Hillary’s about to discover just what he’ll do to land it. As I wrote a year ago, it’s very dangerous to bet against Donald Trump.

WE SHALL SEE………………………………..

 

It’s Olympic Time Again

Friday, August 5th, 2016

It’s difficult to comprehend that it’s four years since Britain won a record haul of medals at the London Olympics. As I write this piece, the opening ceremony to the Rio Games is less than two hour away. And yet the Olympics are already shrouded in controversy.

Some of the star golfers, Spieth, Johnson, Day, and McIlroy  pulled out of  the Games because of concerns over the Zika virus and an apparent lack of security in one of the World’s most dangerous cities. The Russian track and field team are banned from the Games because of drug and substance abuse, but the IOC in their infinite wisdom decided to leave the fate of other Russian participants to the individual Sport’s Governing Bodies who promptly decided to allow Russians to participate in all the other sports.

Participants in water sports such as sailing, rowing and canoeing could be at severe risk since Rio’s sewage system is pumped directly into the ocean. It sounds mela dramatic, but it was reported that body parts were recently washed up near the beach volleyball venue. It was also determined that the air quality would not meet the standards of the Western World.

Two or three athletes were mugged in the Olympic Village, and yesterday a Moroccan boxer was arrested for attempting to rape two chambermaids in the Village. Meanwhile Team GB athletes have banned Brazilian cleaners from entering their rooms after kit was stolen.

A Greek athlete has been expelled after failing a drugs test, and Olympic athletes from several nations have posted videos in the internet showing horrendous conditions inside the Olympic Village. It’s not surprising then that the multi-millionaires of USA’s Dream Team (basketball) have chosen to stay on a luxury cruise ship moored in Rio Harbor.

Day one of competition is yet to begin and we already have had sufficient drama to provide material for the complete works of Shakespeare, a Greek Tragedy and a British “Carry On.” Indeed it is a farce. The Olympic competitors are mere pawns in what has become a giant financial circus; lining the pockets of drug barons, media moguls and fat cats in the financial capitals of the world.

It was rumored that Brazilian football legend, Pele, would light the Olympic flame, but he has declined the invitation due to ill health which is very convenient, so has not to tarnish his reputation with this debacle. Another significant individual who will not be present at the Opening Ceremony is Brazil’s President. She is currently suspended from office facing impeachment over allegations she manipulated the Government budget.

But despite the pollution, security issues, muggings, and allegations of sexual harassment, the IOC has buried its head in the sand of the beach volley ball court, and declared that the event is to celebrate ecology, diversity and joy. Fingers crossed, let’s hope we are not counting body bags on a daily basis.

 

 

EU, UK, BREXIT and The Seven Dwarfs

Wednesday, February 24th, 2016

snowwhitethe7dwarfs1

 

Bashful: Great, I’m spared 4 months of analysis and thinking. Nigel Farage, George Galloway, and Boris Johnson all think we should leave the EU. That’s me for staying in!!

Doc: IDS, Gove, etc, want to take us out, so they can rip away the rest of our human rights, make us all slaves, and kill off the rest of us who are ill, old and disabled. Fear politics all over again. Yet another reason to stay in.

Happy: Despite their policies in UK which I disagree with, I am afraid to say that I agree with them for not being part of EU. It may not necessarily be for the same reasons but ultimately I’m out!

Bashful: Why do you want to leave, Happy?

Sneezy: Why would you want to stay, Bashful?

Bashful: Ok. Very short answer.

Bashful: Original founders of EU were motivated by a desire to avoid a third world war starting in Europe. Coincidentally this is the 100th anniversary of the battle of Verdun which only involved the French and Germans. I think that motive is still a strong fundamental. Economy: It makes sense to me to stay in the biggest trading group in the world. There may be petty bureaucracies but that applies everywhere and there is a general acceptance that these can be improved.

Bashful: Wales has received some benefit from the EU financially but it is also encouraging to be part of a group that contains other small nations with minority languages who share some of our concerns rather than being dominated by our monoglot neighbor. This may be romantic but I emotionally like the idea and practice of travelling more freely through Europe – we took the train from Kings Cross to Barcelona via Paris. Fab! I’m Welsh, I’m British and I’m European. I’m an internationalist. Finally the problems that face Europe as a whole will be better dealt with if the UK remains a member.

Sneezy: World War maybe, but there are still wars going on all over the world. Not clear pulling out will change things. Biggest trading group? In decline! Also we will still be trading just as other non EU countries can. The EU also needs to trade with us. “Petty bureaucracies” – are you having a laugh calling the EU that??? Yes CAN be improved BUT hasn’t been in years and won’t be. Agree, Wales desperately needs to stay in. Had more than “some benefit”. Huge EU grants help to prop up a weak economy. You’re worried about being dominated by a monoglot neighbour but not a federational bunch of bureaucrats? Are the Swiss finding it difficult to move “freely” through Europe then?

Bashful: It’s a tough call, and I can see both sides but I think EUROPE is truly a greater vision than the alternative. And Visions don’t come easy!

Sneezy: Agree Bashful, but they need to go to Specsavers!

Happy: There are a few reasons Bashful for wanting to leave (too many to type with thumbs on a phone so I’m not going to go into detail on here but to try to offer an answer for you… I believe the system that is currently being used by the EU is not workable and the system that is needed to make it workable is not acceptable to the main established countries, including GB. Listening to DC when he announced deal, I could see nothing in what he said that actually made it beneficial to remain in EU with the changes being proposed, they are very superficial. We could have all of those things he announced if we left EU and have a greater say over all the issues the deal covers.

Happy: We will obviously still have a close relationship with the other main countries and will obviously continue to share info regarding terrorist groups/threats and national safety. There are several scaremongers saying it will be a complete break from everything but the reality is the relationship that currently exists will still remain. Also The EU obviously want us to stay as it strengthens the EU with GB in where as it weakens the EU if we leave. There are several countries such as Germany and France who would not have the current system that exists but are not able to exit due to the agreements they made. There you go, a few things to think about

Bashful: just pure speculation, Happy. No one knows what lies ahead if we leave.

Happy: You may say so Bashful! ? Anyway, to answer your ‘non-point’…when I left RBC I still kept in contact and relationship with certain folk. My relationship with some is naturally better than others but nonetheless my relationships remain. When I left Manchester for Cardiff the same thing applied. Now relationships may change for better or worse, grow closer with some and grows apart with others but the relationship remain. By leaving the EU we are not going to cut off all ties with Europe as if they don’t exist or as if there has been no history between us for the last 60yrs. That’s worse than a sudden case of amnesia. For the sake of national security we need to share intelligence with various agencies / governments but we don’t need to be part of the EU for that to continue. That relationship will remain whether we are in or out. You can take that as a given. If you think we will become hermits and lock ourselves away you are very wrong. There will be some changes regarding some funding and laws that Europe has introduced for our benefit over the years and there will possibly be some teething problems but these won’t be difficult to resolve. We are a sovereign land and have been established for centuries…your ‘pure speculation’ comment only plays on the fear element of the in campaign and doesn’t actually embrace the topic. You can pull that out with every question thus avoiding answering difficult questions and also avoids engaging in proper debate. It’s a cheap tactic that politicians will use far too often during this debate. I encourage you not to copy their lead but to consider the facts and reason wisely not just base your decision based on who stands for which side.

Sleepy: It wasn’t difficult to travel before, just the odd border check, which nowadays can only be a blessing. Blood pressure goes up every time they pass another stupid law. We are the second biggest contributor and they treated the re negotiation with such arrogance and disdain. I do not want our finances governed by Poland’s prime minister. I’m out.

Dopey: If corruption, greed and inefficiency are reasons to shut down the European project then we might as well shut down governments, corporations and humans in general across the entire planet.

Happy: For the record, I am happy to engage in the topic and willing for my mind to be changed, however, given my position as it stands is to vote out on the basis that what we have currently in EU has been built on broken foundations, it may be difficult for me to change my mind. These foundations are not going to be dealt with ever and the idea that the public has for voting ‘in’ on the idealistic notion that things can change is simply not accurate. That is not the deal being proposed by DC or Europe. It simply won’t happen. The best of both worlds idea that people like is not on the table and it is in my opinion currently dangerous to make this assumption.

Grumpy: One thing that does accrue from being part of the European is access to a greater spread of expertise in developing legislation. It’s true that the process can be time consuming but the vast majority doesn’t disadvantage the UK. What they do bring is some consistent standards across the community and agreed ways to deal with disputes.

Key to Abbreviations:

EU: European Union, formerly known as the Common Market

BREXIT: British Exit from the European Union

IDS: Ian Duncan-Smith, British Government Minister

Gove: Michael Gove, British Government Minister

UK: United Kingdom

Fab: Fabulous

GB: Great Britain

DC: David Cameron, British Prime Minister

RBC: Royal Bank of China