Trump spells the end of the American era

Trump presidency spells end of American era

President Donald Trump promised at his inauguration seven months ago that he would make “America great again”. Instead, he’s sending it broke.

Much of the federal budget debt was inherited from the Democrats who had already approved and allocated colossal spending programmes as part of Hillary Clinton’s election race splurge.

However, since taking over the White House Trump has added trillions of dollars to the US debt. And that was before devastating floods hit Texas and Louisiana – not to mention the worst-ever fires in California, Nevada, Arizona, New Mexico, Montana, Washington State and Oregon a few months earlier – where the repair bill will be humongous.

For the record, let us itemise the size of the US debt:

  • Billions to send 50 to 70 ships of the US Navy’s Seventh Fleet off South Korea, China and Japan;
  • More billions to put US warships and warplanes of the US Fifth Fleet in the Persian Gulf to menace Iran;
  • Escalating the number of US special forces, aka “boots on the ground”, in Afghanistan, Iraq and Syria. Another few billion.
  • Raising hundreds of millions of dollars to complete the wall between US and Mexico which was started under President George Bush – with full Democrat approval!
  • Trump’s commitment to complete funding of the $US1.45 trillion F-35 warplane project, the costliest “white elephant” in world military history;
  • February’s increase in military spending by $US70 billion. Trump saying it would be financed by cuts elsewhere;
  • The US already spends $US584 billion annually on the military and Trump has increased the size of the budget by about 9%;
  • America’s single biggest budget item is social welfare and health programmes accounting for $2.5 trillion. As the population ages and increases, the welfare bill is soaring;
  • One of America’s fastest growing federal expenses is the interest bill on borrowing. In 2018, interest payments on the national debt will rise to $US315 billion.

The wave of natural disasters has disrupted the supply of illegal drugs – heroin, cocaine, ice and amphetamines – to users across the country. Bereft of supplies and regular suppliers, millions of addicts, mostly armed, are off their faces and can’t or won’t work.

The simple and unavoidable truth is that the US is heading for bankruptcy and a kind of lunacy not seen before. Quantitative easing, aka printing money, managed to bail out Wall Street banks and the loan sharks in 2007-08 but that system-saving project won’t be repeated next time around.

“Harvey” is devastating but much worse is in the wings.

Racism in the US isn’t new

I was alarmed to read that a conference in Sydney was to be addressed by a New Yorker promoting the notion that racism was being foisted on America by President Trump.

The speaker was Ms Haley Pessin, a leading member of the International Socialist Organisation (ISO), whose mother is African American and father is Jewish. Ms Pessin describes herself as “JewMaican”: she is a pro-Palestine activist but celebrates Jewish festivals such as the Passover and Chanukah.

Ibram X Kendi, right, and his book

While Trump has undoubtedly given renewed voice to racists and white supremacists across the USA, racism didn’t begin with him. America’s racist history is laid bare in 582 pages of a new book, Stamped from the Beginning: The Definitive History of Racist Ideas in America, by Ibram X Kendi. One reviewer wrote: “Kendi shows how racist practices and racist ideas have been woven from the very beginning into the fabric of the USA.”

In the London Guardian, reviewer David Olasuga wrote: “Spanning five centuries of racist thought, Stamped from the Beginning both begins and ends with passionate denouncements and dissections of the entrenched inequality, structural racism and racial violence that disfigure contemporary America.” (Guardian, 3 July 2017)

Kendi also nails the fact that the Democratic Party, formed in the southern states to fight against the abolition of slavery, and elements in the Republican Party based in the industrialised north, are both stained by deeply ingrained racism.

Olasuga wrote: “What Kendi’s brilliant and disturbing book demonstrates is that the slave owners and the defenders of slavery [Democrats] did not hold the monopoly on racist ideas. Many of those opposed to the secessionist south, and who abhorred its ‘peculiar institution’ of plantation slavery, still believed that Africans were members of an inferior race. American abolitionists, and later campaigners against segregation and Jim Crow [Republicans], were not necessarily anti-racists.”

In short, the hierarchy of the Democrats and the Republicans are as racist as each other. Both parties are bourgeois parties supporting capitalism and imperialism. Why would any self-respecting socialist support either of them?

In the US today, anti-Trump activism is the start of political consciousness but the finishing line is socialism – not the rescue of the corrupt and bankrupt Democrats.

Feminist author to the rescue

Confused about modern-day feminism? I am. My confusion began not long ago when I heard ALP leader Bill Shorten declare: “I am a feminist.”

Shorten’s declaration trailed behind former US President Barack Obama who told a women’s convention in Washington DC in July 2016: “I may be a little grayer than I was eight years ago but this is what a feminist looks like.”

During the 2016 election campaign, Malcolm Turnbull also announced his feminism. “I am a feminist, yes,” said Malcolm (“I am a strong leader”) Turnbull. These declarations were followed by a whole army of blokes affirming that they were feminists too.

How can this be so? Men can support the aspirations of feminists – and I emphatically believe that they should – but that doesn’t entitle them to lay claim to being feminists which is surely the prerogative of females. I don’t see how women can “man up” (or would want to) and by the same token I can’t see how men can “women up”.

Call me old-fashioned but I became convinced of the struggle for female equality when I read The Communist Manifesto written by Marx and Engels in 1848 and The Origin of the Family by Engels in 1884. “The bourgeois sees in his wife a mere instrument of production,” the two philosophers wrote. “The real point is to do away with the status of women as mere instruments of production.”

Margaret Atwood

Canadian author Margaret Atwood has delivered a refreshing view on modern-day feminism during an interview conducted by actress Emma Watson. When asked her attitude to feminism, Ms Atwood retorted: “Do we mean women are better than men? Do we mean all men should be pushed off a cliff? What do you mean? Because that word has meant all of those different things.”

Ms Watson asked: “Are you bored of the ‘Are you a feminist?’ question. You must have been asked that a lot whilst talking about the new TV show?”

Atwood replied: “I’m not bored with it, but we have to realise it’s become one of those general terms that can mean a whole bunch of different things. So I usually say, ‘Tell me what you mean by that word and then we can talk’. If people can’t tell me what they mean, then they don’t really have an idea in their heads of what they’re talking about.”

The award-winning author compared the factionalism within feminism to different branches of Christianity: “It’s like Christians. Do we mean the Pope? Do we mean Mormons? What are we talking about here? Because they’re quite different.”

She concluded: “So, if we mean, should women as citizens have equal rights, I’m all for it, and a number of advances have been made in my lifetime regarding property rights and divorce and custody of children and all those things. But do we mean, are women always right? Give me a break! I’m sorry, but no!

“Theresa May is a woman, for heaven’s sake.”

Why Beyonce is awesome

There are estimated to be 565 million homeless people in America, of which one in 30 are children. But this isn’t worrying sex super saleswoman Beyonce and her self-absorbed partner Jay-Z. They have just paid $US88 million ($110 million in Aussie dollars) for a mansion in Los Angeles.

The combined worth of this wildly promoted duo is $US1 billion and in 2016 Forbes Magazine listed them as the highest paid celebrity couple in the world.

OMG, isn’t that awesome?

Replacing Laurie Daley

The sacking of Laurie Daley as NSW State of Origin coach has produced a flood of candidates for the dead-end job. Here are my Top Six choices:

  1. “Fat Tony”. Never played rugby league but has a string of offences for glassing pub patrons and beating up his girlfriends. A perfect CV.
  2. “Skinny Mikey”. No experience at coaching but a history of drug distribution, hanging out with hoodlums and laundering money to and from Panama.
  3. The Bra Boys. The Maroubra-based gang to supply a coach, conditioners, trainers, enforcers, standover men, publicity agents and steroid suppliers.
  4. Sports bookmaker Frankie D, a former Australian Federal Police detective, who is widely respected by commercial radio hosts and tabloid sports writers.
  5. Kings Cross model Miss Leititia Zee, 39, whose name has been linked with several Blues footballers. Previously worked for Australian Olympics in executive management, hard massage programmes and VIP ticketing.
  6. Chris Uhlmann – he’s replaced Laurie Oakes at Nine, why not Laurie Daley too?

Black lives matter

Dick Gregory, who died this week

 When I was an earnest young radical one of my many heroes was the black American comedian and anti-war activist Dick Gregory (1932-2017). He was arrested some 50 times for taking part in anti-segregation and anti-war marches as well as mobilisations led by Malcolm X and the Rev Martin Luther King Jnr.

He published his first autobiography in 1963 when his publisher insisted on a title that was “light”. Gregory recalled: “I called the book Nigger. It has never been out of print.” When family members, including his mother, objected to the title, he retorted: “Whenever you hear that word, you’ll know they’re advertising my book.”

When an interviewer asked him about the possibility of a black astronaut, Gregory replied: “We made it from the back of the bus to the moon. Now the hard part – getting him [down through the southern states] to Cape Canaveral.”

He once said: “Segregation’s not all bad. Have you ever heard of a collision where the people in the back of the bus got hurt?”

To me he was immortalised when he told the story of his first visit to the south. “I spent 20 years there one night,” he said. “I walked into this restaurant and this waitress said, ‘We don’t serve coloured people here’ and I said, ‘That’s all right, I don’t eat coloured people. Bring me a whole fried chicken’.”

Quote of the Week

“For more than two years now, it’s been obvious that Donald Trump is a disaster on almost every level except one – he’s great for the media business. Nothing sells like a freak show.” – Matt Taibbi, Rolling Stone Magazine

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