It Wasn’t The Russians

I have no idea whether the Russian Intelligence Service manipulated the US Presidential Election. It does seem like the kinda thing that they might try to do. But conversely the American Intelligence “community” is hardly a credible source…President-Elect Trump makes a fair point when he says these are the same people that told the American people about Weapons of Mass Destruction in Iraq.

While it is true to say that there is a massive disparity in the “electoral college” vote and the “popular” vote, it is equally true to say that Hillary Clinton was a useless candidate who has seriously betrayed the most vulnerable people in the United States.

The most enduring part of this Election and its Fall Out is that USA is a hopelessly divided nation. A “Divided Nation” is arguably a better result for the Russians than a simple Trump victory.

Could an “Intelligence Service” actually manipulate a political party into Government? And maintain its place in Government?

Hmmmm….how else do we explain Sinn Féin in Government? How else do we explain the lack of open-ness to deal with historic murders? And the influence of informers?

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Craggy Island Politics

It seems a bit cheap for the DUP-Sinn Féin to call the Opposition the “Craggy Island Opposition”. The Government would rather have SDLP and UUP as small parties without influence within their own DUP-SF dominated Executive.

It shows a disrespect for the people who actually voted SDLP and UUP.

Who are the formerly fearless and intrepid journos who (poacher turned gamekeepers) who are now press officers, churning out this rubbish. I hope they are proud of themselves.

My favourite charachters on “Craggy Island” were the squabbling shopkeepers John and Mary. The married couple who hated each other in private and put on a show of affection when Fr Ted and Fr Dougal came shopping. A bit like…..Martin McGuinness and Arlene Foster.

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Politicians And The Theatre

Vice-President Mike Pence is a brave man. He is after all in the “Party  of Abraham Lincoln” and we all know what happened to Honest Abe on his last visit to the Theatre.

Pence should have known it would not end well.

Yet this form of protest might catch on. I look forward to Deputy First Minister Martin McGuinness going to the Grand Opera House to see Cindarella, Sleeping Beauty or whatever the panto is this year.

It would be uncomfortable for a Sinn Féin (the Party of Trump?) sitting thru a lecture from May McFetridge.

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Ambassador Shaun Hannity?

Here is a thought.

When President Trump announces his ambassadorial appointments, could Shaun Hannity from Fux News be appointed to….Ireland?

Or Bill O’Reilly?

 

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President Trump

DRAFTED Wednesday 9th November

When I went to bed at 6am…at the point where it was certain that Donald Trump would be elected. Six hours later…and early reaction appears to be a bad idea. Looking at the reaction of people from Norn Iron…particuarly women…is an exercise in hyperbole.
HELL hath no fury like (a bunch of middle-class Norn Iron) women scorned.

Hillary Clinton did not break the Glass Ceiling.
If it was Women against Men, she would have got 51% of the votes cast
She didnt. Getting the endorsement of Lady Gaga, Meryl Streep and Beyonce did not get her into the White House. That is the world in which Hillary lives.
Her candidacy and her campaign were demonstrations of Arrogance.

She would have been at her peak in 2008 and was unfortunate to run up against Barack Obama, coming in to his prime. Obama was an outsider and the Democratic Party establishment failed to stop him. In 2016, she was past her peak. There was an absence of credible Democratic candidates…only Bernie Sanders and at a stretch, Martin O’Malley emerged as credible rivals.
In the end, she had the might of the machine to crush the Sanders challenge. But the diehard Bernie supporters never warmed to her.
There is an air of entitlement about the Clintons…and the Bush family for that matter. Even thru the prism of the Norn Iron “Peace Process”, it is hard to see how so many people here could not spot a phoney. We need to get past that whole Christmas Tree thing.

I was at a Presidential Election Quiz, hosted by SDLP Youth at Queens University Students Union last night (Tuesday). I voted jokingly for Trump in a mock ballot. Not surprisingly his only vote. But perhaps the real surprise was that most attendees voted for Sanders.
Hillary may or may not have inspired women. She didnt inspire young people.
CErtainly there IS a gender issue.
But lets not pretend that Clinton lost because she is a woman. She lost because she was perceived as an entitled and unpopular person.
A better candidate would have won the Presidency for the Democrats. She may have got votes that Sanders would not have got. But crucially this election was lost in the rust belt states where Sanders did well in his primary campaign.
The charge that she stole the Democratic nomination is hard to dismiss.
And it cost her dearly.
But miscalculating Wisconsin…she never visited. Her campaign assumed it was a “blue state”. She was wrong. It was a juvenile mistake.

So those women crying into their cappuchinos, mochas and lattés in Belfast’s trendy coffee shops need to dry their eyes. Hillary blew it. She might be forgiven by women under forty…they will probably get a new woman (maybe two) to kick at the glass ceiling. Their day will come.

But for a lot of people…there is no Future. So….thanks for that Hillary.

 

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USA Presidential Election…Kaine Or Pence?

Make no mistake about it. The real winners in this USA Presidential Election will be (at least) one of the candidates for Vice President. The real loser will be Hillary Clinton. And frankly Donald Trump never wanted to be President in the first place.
Typically…Nixon, Reagan, Clinton, G W Bush, Obama…Americans elect a President for eight years. Since 1968, only Carter, and G H Bush have been ousted after just one term.
The nominal winner tonight will be punished by the Electorate. There is no way that Hillary Clinton or Donald Trump will return to the Oval Office. The contract is for four years and Americans will insist on it…retribution for a campaign that has been nothing short of scandalous and waged by two politicians who are deeply unpopular.

The balance of probability remains that Clinton will win. Her “supporters” are effectively divided between working moms (ie women who work in Wall Street and Hollywood and have maids from El Salvador to do the heavy lifting)…and people who are either Democrats or simply people who hate Trump even more.
In 2008, I was more lukewarm than most about the election of President Obama. He may well have been popular in western Europe but was always going to be the case that he would (properly) act in the interests of the United States. Eight years after his election, USA is still an ally of both Israel and Saudi Arabia. Did any over-enthusiastic Europeans think it would be any different.
Yet there was History made in 2008.
To be fair, John McCain and George W Bush and the Media saw that.
I have been watching USA for over fifty years….via Sgt Bilko, Boots and Saddles, The Lone Ranger, via Bonanza, Rawhide and the High Chapparel, via Kojak, Cheers, Law and Order, via Modern Family….via the Beach Boys, Tamla Motown, Emmylou Harris and the Eagles, via the Assassination of John F Kennedy, George Wallace, Martin Luther King, Watts, Cuban Missisles, Watergate, Vietnam, Rodney King, O J Simpson, 9/11….Saddam, Ghadafi, Osama Bin Ladin.
There was certainly a feeling in 2008 that USA had finally come to terms with its HIstory.
One of the horrible realities of the past eight years has been how that has been reversed.

The Grand Old Party of Abraham Lincoln tried to build a coalition to reach beyond fiscal conservatism. It flirted with Tea Party, evangelicals, National Rifle Association and anti-government people and now find themselves as merely part of the coalition led by Donald Trump.
Hillary said that about half his supporters were “deplorable’ and its never a good idea to insult voters. As we know …in Norn Iron, not everyone voting Sinn Féin approved of IRA violence.
Besides there are good reasons, notably Obamacare, where Republicans can feel unashamed of their choice.
Are all Trump supporters racist? Clearly not.
Are all racists voting for Trump? Thats a different question.
There is of course an anti-intellectualism at work here. And it has echoes of the Brexit vote in England/Wales.
The same TV reporters who rushed from London to Sunderland and Middlesbrough to interview the working class who dared to vote to leave the EU in spite of all the evidence that EU was a good thing….these same reporters are now spent several weeks in Ohio and Pennsylvania, interviewing working class people who support Trump.
There is another parallel…Boris JOhnson who led the Brexit campaign never thought he could win. Likewise those who voted to leave.
And Trump does not think he can win. Nor do his supporters.

Simply put, the people who style themselves as marginalised and disenfranchised are addicted to their sense of grievance and failure. If in Sunderland rust belt, you actually succeed in leaving Europe, who exactly do you blame for your shortcomings.
If Donald Trump gets into the Oval Office, who will the people in the Ohio rust belt blame for their shortcomings.
But actually I blame the liberal elite more…I blame the arrogance of the intellectuals.
To be fair, comedian Bill Maher (I detest him) got it right with his apology to John McCain, Mitt Romney. They were decent men who had different views to Maher…and the vitriol had in fact led to the rise of Donald Trump.
There we have it.
The Republican Party AND the liberal elite are culpable for Donald Trump.

I am of course left of centre. You would expect me to be a Hillary supporter. I find her pretty awful. I dont see the point in me supporting a candidate for office in another country. It is risible that people here in Norn Iron cant accept we have no dog in this fight. It is perplexing that some see the American President as Leader of the Free World. It is bollox.

Nor do I think that my own social democrat kinda politics is really accepted or acceptable in USA?
Nor can I put my hand on my heart and say that I would be a Democrat or Republican….if I had been born and raised in USA.
Nature and Nurture.
If an ancestor had boarded a USA-bound ship in 1847…well the point is …that they didnt.
Therefore I am NOT Irish-American.
I am not a wee fat baldy man …dapper with a bow tie….who teaches History in a small college in New Hampshire. Nor am I retired steel worker in Pennsylvania.

I wont endorse anyone.
Nor will I condemn any of my friends who make a choice, one way or the other. We have too much history.
If I identify with anyone …it was Bernie Sanders. And I have total contmpt for the way that the Democratic Party was complicit in Hillary Clinton seeing off his challenge.

Frankly Hillary Clinton missed the boat in 2008. She felt a sense of entitlement and lost the nomination to Obama. True she has added to her CV since then but increasingly she looks like a candidate who is ten years past her sell-by date.
Later tonight, her supporters might claim that History has been made.
Obama made History as the first black President.
HIllary Clinton might do the same as the first woman President.

But Barack Obama is a much more substantial figure.
And there is nothing “outsider” about Clinton.

But this is really about Tim Kaine and Mike Pence.
This has been a campaign that has shamed USA. LOsing is its own punishment. Winning merely means that the new President starts off being hated. If Clinton wins, I think its inevitable that within two years, she announces retirement thru ill health.
Step forward Tim Kaine, a patently decent man but somehow lacking gravitas.
If Trump wins, I suspect he will be forced out, thru adverse publicity or he will just get bored.
STep forward Mike Pence, who has the gravitas.

And what about USA?
Well the balance of probability at 6pm Irish time is that Clinton will win.
The result will be accepted by nearly everyone.
But the pool of malcontents, marginalised and disenfranchised is now a lot bigger than it ever was.

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Fáilte Bangor Sinn Féin

One of the most interesting and welcome developments over the past few weeks has been the formation of a Sinn Féin cumann (branch) in Bangor, County Down.

Frankly SDLP have under-performed in North Down and while the selection of a credible Assembly candidate in Conall Brown (a leading member of SDLP Youth) is welcome, it is far too late for the Party to make an impact. SDLP has been content with token effort.

The reasons are complex. Catholics are very much a minority in North Down and Nationalists even more of a minority. Unlike most other parts of Norn Iron, the connexion between Catholicism and Nationalism is not so deep. (Irish) Nationalism, whether SDLP or Sinn Féin is a left of centre political philosophy but many (but not of course all) Catholics in North Down are politically “conservative”.

At times, North Down seems semi-detached from Norn Iron, almost embarrassed to be part of the squalid sectarian make-up and very much at ease with itself as not very different from seaside towns in west of Scotland and north west England.

It is very much the home of a succession of independently minded Westminster MPs such as Jim Kilfedder, Bob McCartney and Sylvia Hermon (the  current MP).

There is a strong Alliance presence but Green Party are now sharing the so called “middle ground”. It is a constituency where for four decades, Catholics have kept their heads down and voted Alliance as a matter of conviction or as the least dogmatic of the unionist choices. It is not just Bangor….it is a familiar pattern in Lisburn, Newtownards and Carrickfergus.

To some extent, the formation of of a Sinn Féin cumann challenges this mind-set of local Catholics. While it  is tempting to think that 14% of the population are “Catholic” and can be the springboard for an Assembly quota…the number who identify as “Irish” lags some way behind.

I am on record as saying that ALL political parties have a duty to present themselves to the electorate in ALL constituencies.

So….it is to the credit of Sinn Féin that they are prepared to join SDLP in organising in Bangor to accomodate nationalist voters ..around 700 voters (400 plus SDLP and 300 plus SF).

My long-held belief is that TUV, UUP, DUP should stand in constituencies that are overwhelmingly nationalist as a courtesy to all voters. To their credit SDLP and Alliance do this.

And Sinn Féin? Well no….just like TUV, UUP and DUP….Sinn Féin want squalid sectarian voting pacts to maximise the nationalist vote. Indeed, as Bangor SF members learn how to canvas with their comrades in South Belfast, nobody seems to have noticed that Sinn Féin stood down in South Belfast to “help” SDLP MP Alasdair McDonnell  in 2010 in a failed attempt to get SDLP to reciprocate to help Michelle Gildernew MP in Fermanagh-South Tyrone.

So Sinn Féin are either inconsistent or hypocritical. And as South Belfast members mentor their  Bangor comrades as they canvas Seahill, Clandeboye and Ballyholme, it might come up on the doorsteps.

Is this the normalisation of Politics, that the DUP-SF one party State love to promote? Well the old unionist regime liked to promote Politics 1922-1972 as normal British Politics. After all everyone was entitled to stand as a Party and get votes…..including Joe Campbell of Sinn Féin in North Down in 1955 and 1959. So this breakthru ….Sinn Féin in Bangor is not quite the breakthru that it is selling.

Of course, it is to be expected that Sinn Féin, Bangor claim Winnie Carney as “one of their own”. The Bangor woman is one of the leading figures in the Easter Rising of 1916 and was part of the garrison in the GPO. WInnie’s story cannot be told without regard to her own later history….and of course Sinn Féin have already embarrassed themselves by claiming the unbroken link from the heroism in the GPO to the version of their Party in 2016.

It is of course a very selective history.

They cant promote Winnie Carney on their 2016 literature and draw a veil over 1970s, 1980s and early 1990s. One of the consequences of a very limited republican tradition in North Down is that Bangor (with few exceptions) was relative Troubles-free from 1970 to 1998.

Towns like Belfast, Omagh, Enniskillen, Armagh, Dungannon, Derry and several others were bombed and inevitably the Brigades, Batallions and Companies responsible were local men and local women.

But when Bangor was devastated, it was by Active Service Units acting on plans made outside Bangor. Actually the bombers were from….er South Belfast.

I dont think Sinn Féin plan to mention that on the flyers, proudly using the name of Winnie Carney or on the doorsteps in Seahill, Clandeboye and Ballyholme.

 

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