Saturday, April 22, 2017

True Brit


The Light Brigade

True Brit

The UK ambassador to the UK is about to hand in the letter from Mrs May triggering the departure of the UK from the EU.

Reminds me of that other famous note which triggered the charge of the Light Brigade:

The Charge of the Light Brigade was a charge of British light cavalry led by Lord Cardigan against Russian forces during the Battle of Balaclava on 25 October 1854, in the Crimean War. Lord Raglan, overall commander of the British forces, had intended to send the Light Brigade to prevent the Russians removing captured guns from overrun Turkish positions, a task well-suited to light cavalry. However, due to miscommunication in the chain of command, the Light Brigade was instead sent on a frontal assault against a different artillery battery, one well-prepared with excellent fields of defensive fire.

Although the Light Brigade reached the battery under withering direct fire and scattered some of the gunners, the badly mauled brigade was forced to retreat immediately. Thus, the assault ended with very high British casualties and no decisive gains.

One has to hope the result of the withdrawal from the EU will not be similar.

At first glance, there are no real similarities between the two events. However, they both provide an insight into the British psyche and character which has evolved through many years of great success and great disappointment.

I once read a book called True Brit. I have tried to track it down but with no success. Since I don't know who wrote it, Wikipedia has not been very helpful.

I can tell you the gist of the thesis of this book: many of the ideas associated with Britain are just rubbish and the product of the English penchant for myopia and myth-generation.

So, the idea that (for example) that Parliamentary democracy is Britain's gift to the world, so widely accepted by the British, is really an excuse for poor government which betrays most of the principles of representative democracy.

Whoa! That can't be right, surely! (Don't call me Shirley, please,)

What the British fail to recognise is that the UK is not a parliamentary democracy – it's a Kingdom. Sovereignty resides with the monarch – not parliament. Convention – in the absence of a written constitution - (the absence of which is a perverse source of pride to the British) has evolved into the idea that the monarch has no political power and that Parliament is sovereign. But, it is only a convention. The fact is: there is no real, effective check on the powers of Parliament. Essentially, Parliament can do anything.

Witness the EU Referendum. Most people don't realise that the Act of Parliament setting up the referendum established a consultation. UK politicians were not obliged to do anything after the result. So, what happened? They wimped out and fell over themselves to spout the party line. Result: the Tories make all the running and Parliament is mostly over-looked.

(Whoa, just today (18 April) Mrs May has called a snap General Election! Well, actually she didn't: she wants to but has to ask Parliament to overturn the Parliament Act which legislated for fixed term five year Parliaments. Once again the mother of Parliaments proves itself completely powerless to hold the executive to account! Democracy? Not a chance.)

Another pillar of the True Brit is the legal system. Parades of judges with funny-looking wigs on is supposed to inspire awe in the populace and insure legal scrutiny of the executive. The actuality is that the English judiciary is a hide-bound, antiquated oligarchy which is there to protect the status quo – not insure justice for the majority of people.

Examples of the judiciary working against the rights of citizens are wide-spread. Let's just focus on Brexit by way of example. Great play was given when judges prevented the PM from triggering Article 50 – the part of the EU treaty which provides for countries to leave.

(BTW I'd love to find out who the brilliant EU strategist was who decided to put Article 50 into a treaty. Folks might remember the USA had a costly civil war on the subject. One of the contentions was that the Confederate States had a right to secede from the Union. Good thing there was no Article 50 then!)

What actually happened was that the judiciary had no framework to account for Brexit, so they made one up as they went along. The lack of proper scrutiny again worked in favour of the Establishment. Result, a delay and a lot of self-back-slapping before Article 50 was invoked. The funny thing? The judges were pilloried by the rabid Brexiteers for daring to uphold the rule of law. You couldn't make it up!

How about the True Brit police? More drivel is pedalled by the Establishment about the police than any other pillar of True-Brit-ism.

Just a small example. You may remember that poor Brazilian John Charles de Menezes. He's they guy who was sitting on a tube and got shot 7 times in the head for his troubles. Tragic. A big mistake! Everyone agrees on that.

Who was in charge of this operation – none other than the new Commissioner of the Metropolitan Police, Cressida Dick. She is and will always be the most aptly named police person in history.

True Brit holds that Britain is an orderly, well-disciplined and law-abiding society. Crap. Throughout history Britain has set new standards in lawlessness and barbarity. Only recently did this myth of a namby-pamby UK appear.


Saturday, March 25, 2017

Obamacare


Affordable Care Act Revisited

So, the POTUS does not do deals very well. Who'd a thunk it!

Well there's a shocker! What does he do now? Blame everyone else? Call it fake news? Spit out his pacifier? Play more golf? One thing is for sure, he now knows that the business model of shouting at and bullying your opponent does not really apply in politics.

Regarding Health care of course, we have been here before:


The real problem with the Affordable Care Act is in it's name. It's just not very affordable and that is what drives the Republican agenda for repeal and/or redrafting.

This is not an altogether bad idea. After all, the one thing most folks can agree on is that the “Affordable” moniker is a misnomer. It's just way too costly.

Why?

Voters should focus on facts. Healthcare in the US is about seven times more expensive than in other western industrialised countries. Yep that was seven, not six, not five, not four not nothin! That's a lot of money and by definition a lot of waste.

Most of the nonsensical objections are driven by the same agenda as opposition to Social Security legislation in the 1930's. Check out: http://classroom.synonym.com/opposition-social-security-1930s-23530.html

I assert and have always done so that having passed legislation to create Obamacare Congress will never repeal it. They may as well try to repeal Social Security.

Therefore critics of healthcare legislation should be working on ways to make it truly affordable!

Some simple improvements: stop doing so many unnecessary tests – doctors are so afraid of being sued for negligence that they order a barrage of tests for conditions that just don't require t hem. Not blaming them, so would you in that situation. Solution? Limit the amount of compensation to reasonable amounts for conditions ancillary to the original complaint. Simples. Move people through the system quickly and efficiently – too many patients are just hanging around waiting for this doctor or that doctor to show up. Doctors, I'm afraid need to work reasonable hours not play golf every Friday. Overhaul the hospital “ambience”. Do we really need barrels of flowers and haute cuisine? Cut down on the bureaucracy – how many admins does it take to change a light bulb?

I'm sure greater minds than ours can find lots of ways to save cash.

More affordable heath care is required – not a repeal of Obamacare. Get over it.

Wednesday, March 15, 2017

The Love That Dare Not Speak It's Name


Teresa comes a cropper!

You must remember the scene – it's the Poseidon Adventure and Gene Hackman, having led his odd band of fellow travellers to the main passageway which runs the length of the ship encounters another group of survivors, led by the Purser, and they are gong towards the bow. Gene pleads with them - explaining that the bow is under water and the only way out is via the engine room where the hull is thinnest.

His exasperation as the Purser's group insist they are going the right way is a absolute classic in frustration at man's stupidity in the face of an alternative and ultimately better reality.

So is it with politics at present

I am getting more and more discouraged by the performance of politicians as we approach the triggering of Article 50 which begins the process of extricating the UK from the EU.

Firstly, how did we get in this mess.

Did you know?

The referendum wasn’t legally binding, but there’s plenty of scope for argument about whether politicians should feel obliged to implement the result anyway.

"The [EU] referendum was an advisory referendum”

Dominic Grieve MP, 10 October 2016

This was not an advisory referendum”

John Redwood MP, 7 November 2016

Given that the meaning of the French Revolution is still contested, it’s no surprise that there are arguments over the EU referendum.

The word “advisory” crops up a lot in the debate at the moment. Here we’ll look what people mean when they say that the referendum was, or wasn’t, advisory.

Start with the law

The referendum was not legally binding. There’s no one source that can prove this statement true (although here’s a respectable one). That follows from the fact that the European Union Referendum Act 2015 didn’t say anything about implementing the result of the vote. It just provided that there should be one.

The EU referendum result is not legally binding so in theory Parliament could ignore the will of the people by deciding to stay in the EU. This is because Parliament is sovereign and the EU vote was an “advisory referendum”, as opposed to a “binary” referendum which has a fixed outcome.

In other countries, referendums are often legally binding—for example, because the vote is on whether to amend the constitution. The UK, famously, doesn’t have a codified constitution.

Why then are politicians of all parties so adamant that they are implementing the will of the people? What are they afraid of?

Following the referendum no day has gone by when some politician somewhere has not mouthed the mantra that we must respect the result of the referendum. They are correct. That result must be respected. But, for how long and in what manner?

No-one is speaking about this and it is wrong, very wrong.

The fact it you can have as many referenda as you like. Thanks to Dave Cameron the genie is truly out of the bottle.

However, government by referenda is bad government. You have only to consider how few there have been in the UK (Referendums in the United Kingdom are by tradition extremely rare due to the principle of parliamentary sovereignty. As of 2017, only three referendums have been held which have covered the whole of the United Kingdom: in 1975, in 2011 and most recently in 2016.)

Why then has the result of the EU referendum achieved cult status. A new religion has sprung up! Why is there no real debate on the outcome? Why are politicians doing “duck-speak”? (George Orwell – 1984 Duck-speak is a Newspeak term meaning literally to quack like a duck or to speak without thinking.)

I honestly wish I knew.

Now we have Nicola Sturgeon throwing an enormous spanner in the works with a call for another Scottish Independence Referendum. The PM is in the very illogical position of defending the UK position on the EU Referendum whilst denigrating the Scots for doing the same thing!

David Davies in testimony before a select committee admits the government had no real plan to leave the EU and are making it up as they go along.

This is beginning to make Donald Trump's administration look competent – and that is no mean feat.

I'm thinking, what would old Churchill make of all this? Now, he was probably not one for joining Europe, but he would understand the importance of maintaining a position of principle in the face of everyone else – no matter how the numbers stack up.

The majority are not always right, and when the majority is paper thin and mostly contrived (the franchise was not inclusive by any stretch of the imagination) then real politicians should get their heads above the parapet and call spades spades.

Only the Lib Dems are even close on this one. The Labour Party are all over the shop. The Tories are obstensively together, but watch this space.

I see a blood bath coming and coming soon.

Here's a thought – could that Remainer Teresa May be playing a very clever game. Could she secretly be hoping the Scots et.al. force her hand and make her accept a “soft” Brexit which she may have wanted all along.

Interesting?






Wednesday, February 22, 2017

Post-Brexit Pre-Brexit


Big Tone Rides to the Rescue

An abiding image from this week: Teresa may hovering wraith-like beneath the throne in the House of Lords trying to insure that their Lordships don't much mess with the bill providing for the triggering of Article 50. I'm beginning to conflate her real visage with the one I have in my head of the spitting-image Margaret Thatcher. They are beginning to coalesce. It’s bit brightening if I'm honest.

Meanwhile, in True Brit fashion the focus shifts to the machinations of the True Believers and the Remoaners. Tony Blair has put himself forward as the Remoaner-in-Chief. He replaces the Leader of the Liberal Democrats (whose name escapes me – and indeed escapes the rest of the country as well) Tone has begun to advocate the love that dare not speak its name. He wants a second referendum. Or a third, or a fourth, or a fifth?

I managed to get our for a game of golf this week – yes the weather was that good. (It won't last, believe me) My partners had coffee and the discussion turned to Brexit, as it almost inevitably does now-a-days. The lack of understanding of precisely how they are governed as evidenced by the average British citizen always amazes me. They just have not got a clue. Pressed, they did grudgingly acknowledge that another referendum is possible, though not according to them desirable. “You can't just keep having referendums until you get the result you want!” was the mantra.

Oh, yes you can, should and probably will. Just ask the Scots who correctly assert that they voted to stay in the Union because it protected their EU rights. Now that the situation has changed, they want another vote. At the end of the Article 50 process. the people must have a vote on whether what ensues is what they want or not. Another referendum must be held.

The biggest mistake that David Whats-His-Name, you know Samantha’s husband, ever made (and he made some doozies) was introducing the idea that referenda are a good idea and a sensible way to govern the country. Wrong on both counts. All he did was unite the Tory Party behind a policy that he and the lovely Teresa and many others did not believe in. Thanks, David. I really hope you get sleepless nights. Many. Often.

People voted to leave the EU. Fact. Why they voted the way they did was unknown. Fact. Is the vote sacrosanct? No. Should it be? No.

Yet advocating another referendum has become akin to legalising paedophilia. Why should this be so?

Deep down the public know that they were diddled; not just by Brexiteers but by all sides. They cried out for meaningful facts on which to base their judgement. St John crying in the wilderness had more success. Now they people must cry out for a meaningful say in the result of the negotiations. I think that is what Tone was saying, but he is, of course, so toxic that the message is lost in vitriolic condemnation.

BTW, his crime? He got Parliament to support him by hook or crook (a policy which UK PM's have been following since Walpole) and he had since made a lot of money pimping himself around the world. Unforgivable.

The people must be given a chance to change their mind. Simples. To oppose this is undemocratic. Simples.




Tuesday, February 14, 2017

When the legend becomes fact - print the legend

  The Trump Presidency so far
The presidency of Donald Trump is now off and running and the road is hard and the road is long and the road is rocky.

The traditional honeymoon period never really got started and it is his fault and the fault of those who are advising him.  Therein may lie the problem.

Clean up the swamp is an attractive campaign slogan.  To many of his supporters it was music to the ears.  The “professional” politicians had done nothing for them, now they were going to get their own back.  The Donald heard this and he took it on-board.  There would be no professionals in his administration.  Business professionals yes, political professionals no.  The mantra has echoed from one cock-up to the next.

To his hard-core supporters this is music to the ears.  No matter how ineffectual or incompetent the administration becomes the more they cheer from the side-lines.

Why?

Well they would say he is delivering on his campaign promises and that's why we voted for him.

Promise number one – Make America Great Again.  Jury is out on this one as it obviously will take some time to make a judgement.  How long?  Hard to say, the voters, even the hard core expect some tangible results.

Promise number two – Build the Wall

We should let the administration speak on this one;

http://www.breitbart.com/california/2017/02/02/wall-retired-marine-general-john-kelly-promises-build-trumps-wall-2-years-less/

Now, I'm assuming the intention is to keep the “bad hombres” out.  That's how the President described the rationale.  I believe most Americans support this.  Why wouldn't you support a plan to keep bad people out?  The questions are how effective will it be, how much will it cost and who is going to pay for it?

Effective?  A wall must slow down illegal immigration from Mexico.  Common sense tells you it will prevent some people from crossing the border illegally.  Will it stop all of them?  Not very likely.  What will it cost?  Estimates range from a few hundred million to billions.  Where will the money go?  Most of it to big business who will do the actual building, but there will be jobs created.  Moving to South Texas has never seemed so attractive.  Is this a plan to revive the economy?  The President says so.  He wants to be known as the greatest job-creating President ever. 

Donald Trump often reminds me of Teddy Roosevelt.  (I'm sure the Donald would be flattered by the comparison)  They are both nominal rather than real Republicans.  Therein the comparison starts to run thin.  They both had big construction projects in mind.  Panama Canal and Mexican Wall.  The Panama canal was a great success despite having to engineer a fake revolution in another country (Colombia) and costing an astronomical amount of money (The Panama Canal cost Americans around $375,000,000, including the $10,000,000 paid to Panama and the $40,000,000 paid to the French company. It was the single most expensive construction project in United States history to that time)  I can't even begin to calculate how much that is is today's money!

The Mexican wall will cost a lot.  Some of this spending will be beneficial.  Some perhaps not. 

Promise number three - Temporarily ban Muslims from entering the United States

We know how this one is going.  Again, there is wide-spread support for keeping extremists from entering the US.  Why would anyone be against this?  It's very attractive at first glance.  Notwithstanding the difficulties in court, which are well-documented, how effective and sensible is this policy?  Answer?  Not much. 

It should be assumed that terrorists, real terrorists, are not going to turn up at JFK with a Somali passport and no English skills at all.  The ban will certainly stop them.  What about the terrorist with a fake German passport, good English and a ticket from Frankfort to Montreal via Canada Air?  He gets off and drives over the longest undefended border in the world.  The fact is number three is a nonsense designed to pander to the worst elements in the Trump supporters club.

Number four - Bring manufacturing (jobs) back’

Forgetting the wall, this is a real tough one.  There is an old saying which the President, I'm sure, is aware of – you can't buck the markets.  Nobody, even die hard Trump supporters, is going to keep paying over the odds for products which are made the USA.  It simply cannot be done. 

Number five - Impose tariffs on goods made in China and Mexico

Can do.  Why?  The American consumer is addicted to washing machines made in Shanghai and they will not pay over the odds for one made in Santa Fe.  Tariffs will make all washing machines the same price – higher.  Crazy.

Number six - Renegotiate or withdraw from the North American Free Trade Agreement and Trans-Pacific Partnership

    Renegotiate implies the other side is willing and able to make a new deal.  Optimistic in the extreme.

Number seven - Full repeal of Obamacare’ and replace it with a market-based alternative

Obamacare is flawed, always has been.  Can Trump suggest a better alternatives, having in mind that the very folks who elected him in Pennsylvania are the same ones who have been enjoying the benefits of the Affordable Care Act.  Tough circle to square!

Number eight Renegotiate the Iran deal

Old story, it takes two to tango and the Iranians have said no to a renegotiation.

Number nine - Leave Social Security as is

Political suicide to do anything else.  Easiest promise to keep.  Just do nothing. Good call.

Number ten - Cut taxes

All politicians, even experienced one, promise this.  It will not happen, but the voters will not hold it against him.  Nor should they.


Number eleven - Bomb’ and/or ‘take the oil’ from ISIS
A better analysis than mine:
“A twist on his decade-old idea to seize Middle Eastern oil as repayment, Trump repeatedly makes this promise on the campaign trail, arguing it’ll cut off funding to ISIS.
The United States has already been bombing oil assets under ISIS control for quite some time, though.
"It’s like saying there won’t be a meteor strike in 1812," said Anthony Cordesman, a national security analyst at the Center for Strategic and International Studies.
As for how he would "take the oil," Trump told the Washington Post’s editorial board in March he would "circle" and "defend those areas" with ground troops, but wouldn’t commit to a number.
To keep this promise, Trump would have to invade Syria and convince the Assad regime to give up their claims on oil and gas in the country, according to Matthew Reed, vice president of Foreign Reports, a consultant firm specializing in Middle East oil politics
"If Trump wants to take oil from ISIS, he needs an invasion plan and an occupation plan covering years, plus a reconstruction plan worth billions of American dollars," Reed said.
Given that the United States and its allies have been systematically taking territory from ISIS without resorting to a full-scale invasion, Cordesman called the promise "purposeless" and "imbecilic."”
Ditto.

Bottom line: Trump is poorly advised.  Mostly this is his fault (the buck stops here) but he can still turn it around.  I give him another month to begin the process or it's circle the wagons time.

Friday, February 03, 2017

Wards in Jarndyce


Terrace Tribulations

People will know that I am no fan of Dickens. I have only ever read Dickens under sufferance and with great distress. I'm not even much in favour of TV adaptations or films based on his books.
Nevertheless, I confess to having watched Bleak House when it was on the BBC in 2005. I watched. I even became mildly interested. I even got the book from the library and read a bit of it. It did not elicit any lasting appreciation of Dickens writing.

Fortunately, Dickens is not really the subject of this rant.

It's football.

So, where's the connection? Easy – so much gloup is written about football that it resembles nothing so much as the fixation with the Wards in Jarndyce - the glue which holds the Bleak House narrative structure together for Dickens.

Recent events bear this out. Let's focus on just two.

The Glasgow Celtic – Glasgow Rangers is, some people decry, a special case. The excuses for poor behaviour amongst supporters is mired in sectarian prejudice and violence. Somehow this is used to “excuse” the excesses and simplify the situation.

Now we have the Celtic manager, Mr Lennon, being sent letter bombs along with other prominent supporters. The killer for me was a responsible police spokesman describing the situation as “nothing to do with football” Therein lies the mistake.

It is everything to do with football. In a era when sectarian conflict has almost been eradicated in Northern Ireland, how is it that responsible journalists and others can pretend that football has no role in perpetuating the problem.

Ask yourself: would the mindless prejudice and violence continue if there was no Rangers – Celtic match to provide the focus? I think not. The bigots would still exist, true. Perhaps they might migrate to Murrayfield and start a riot when Scotland play Ireland? Seems more that unlikely. Why?

The fact is the pea-brained bigots who perpetrate the violence just would not get the idea of a sporting rivalry – one that recognises that both teams are trying to win and are worthy of respect for their endeavours. Likewise the fans. Fans of the opposing team are not degenerate sub-humans but genuine supporters who want to see their team do well but recognise that the other team may win if they play better.

No, football, uniquely, has the capacity to engender mindless optimism and even more mindless degeneracy.

Personally, I'm fed up with people who, whilst seemingly stable and reasonable, insist on believing that that opponents and their fans are “scum” - which seems to be the only term of abuse they know. Comment on that mental capacity if you will.

It's even worse in East Anglia. Normal, responsible, educated and personable friends lose all mental perspective when a Norwich – Ipswich game approaches. The try to outdo each other in their vitriol towards their neighbours. Their version of trying to wish their team well and support the player's efforts consists of name-calling and foul abuse. This is not supporting their team – it's simply showing how loutish and vile they have become.

My suggestion: Rangers and Celtic should be relegated – one to the Highland League and one to the League of Ireland. They should not be allowed tickets to away games at all. They should have to stay their for a minimum of 3 seasons and if any trouble ensues – extend their exile to five years for each occasion. Even the troglodytes on the terraces should be able to understand this.

As for the East Anglian brethren, simply require anyone who really, truly believes that the team down the road is vile and their supporters are epsilon minus morons ( which may, or may not be accurate ) is deported to their city focus of hate and made to go to every home game and cheer their rivals on.

Maybe deport them.

Shakespeare


-->
Willm Shackper

That's one of the ways he signed his name.

Rash statements are my speciality. Consistency in the rashness is less obvious. One exception: I have always said that I would do a deal with the Devil in order to spend just one day with Shakespeare when he was alive and writing. I would gladly trade all the rest of my days for just one in his company. Just give me a week to get my things in order and then I'm definitely up for it.

Why? He was just the most incredible of writing geniuses. I would like to know how he did it. I would like to try to understand how anyone could so consistently produce genius, seemingly at the drop of a hat. It still awes and amazes me every time I consider it.

It was not always so. At the age of 15 my introduction to the Bard was both late and uninspiring. In the 60's studying Shakespeare was based on the text; and, as I am very keen to point out to modern students, not very satisfying, imaginative or interesting.

Studying like that was, and is, boring and almost guaranteed to put you off for life. What “saved” me was the play chosen for study - Julius Caesar.

I have always been interested in Rome and Roman history, so Caesar was a natural for me. I like history (in the 8th grade I won five dollars in the Daughters of the American Revolution history contest – I got 49 out of 50 questions correct I missed the one about Teddy Roosevelt, I knew that FDR was a Democrat so I guessed that Teddy was one as well – no – he was a Republican and a Progressive – damn Ol Teddy he cost me another 5 bucks and the first place glory).

Caesar in the dark ages – i.e. before video tape, cd's, dvd's – was a challenge for pupils and teachers alike. Why?

Simple. I told pupils why for more than 30 years. Skakespeare wrote plays, not books. Plays are meant to be acted on a stage (or as a movie). They are not meant to be read, either out loud or silently to yourself. To make sense of what is going on you have to see it!

Witness (and slip in a real good moan at the same time) the BBC – a venerable and mercenary broadcaster. Between 1978 and 1985 the Beeb commisioned and screened all 37 plays. They are quite truly wonderful, as they featured some of the most expert and famous actors of the day.

Then in a feat of the most uninspiring and possibly criminal opportunism and shameless exploitation of the long-suffering license-payer the BBC steadfastly has refused to air them again – as soon, and if you think this is co-incidental you need professional help, as video recorders became generally available. You can of course see these marvellous productions provided you buy the video from the BBC – and they are not cheap.

So much for inspiring a new generation of Bard fans. Thanks Auntie.

I do have a collection of plays that were aired co-incidental with modern technology and I used them extensively during the 90's and noughties.

Thus Shakespeare became a joy to teach. The language came alive and pupils suddenly “got it”. Fantastic.

After Caesar I moved on to Richard III. I say moved on but it was more like struggled on really.

Firstly, a rather attractive girl I knew invited me to spend the weekend at her Granny's farm. Could I say no? Not likely. As luck would have it, my weekend was promised to reading Richard III as well. Now truly it was a “winter of discontent” even though it was May.

My amorous adventures turned out to be non-existent, but I made little progress with Richard either. Why? This may be Shakespeare's most difficult play, though it was, apparently, very popular in his time. Why so?

Simple. It's a soap opera. And just like Eastenders if you don't know who the characters are and how they are related to each other you have little chance of making sense of it.

When I taught it for A level, I always spent a week (figuratively that is) in the 1480's. Unless you understand how society worked then you have little chance of understanding Richard III.

I need another blog to move the story on. I promise to do it soon.

Super Bowl 51


Super Bowl 2017 - an upset?

I have been putting it off for as long as I can. Firstly, a bit of history – my Super Bowl picks are notorious for their inaccuracy. I study hard and then come up with the wrong analysis and, inevitably, the wrong winner. Nevertheless, here goes.

Looking at it from a Chiefs perspective, having beaten the Falcons in Georgia this season you might think it's a done deal – Pats to win. Of course, it is not quite that simple. But for the Grace of God go the Chiefs to the Super Bowl where they may well have been favourites over Atlanta. But, as we all know, that didn't happen. And like all teams Atlanta are not the same team as in early December. Neither, of course, are the Patriots – who the Chiefs did not play this year.

The point? We are stuck with analysis. You can of course rely on the bookies. The problem is they are still licking their wounds after taking a pasting on the Donald and Brexit. How about Vegas? The Pats are about 3 point favourites. That seems about right to me.

The Patriots have no obvious weakness, and they have Tom Brady. That's worth about 3 points.

The Falcons may be susceptible to the run and their pass defence is not great. They will have to play an almost perfect game to win.

The Pats do not make mistakes. They protect Brady well and have a serviceable running game. Their short-passing game means it's difficult to get to Brady and disrupt his timing.

The Falcons have an explosive offence. They have multiple weapons and in Julio Jones a real star. They are going to score points – the question is how many and how often. Can they get Brady and Co. off the field? Can they avoid fumbles, etc?

My record is based on defence. I firmly believe that defence wins Super Bowls, but only if it matches up well with the opponents offence.

I'm not sure the Pats match up well.

It's the kiss of death, but I'm taking Atlanta by a touchdown. (apologies to all Falcons fans.)

Wednesday, January 18, 2017

One and Done


Chiefs EoS

Well, the Chiefs 2016-17 adventure is over with the 18-16 loss to the Pittsburgh Steelers. Am I disappointed? Who wouldn't be. Am I upset. Oh, yes. Am I despondent? No, not really, for the whole thing was fairly predictable.

Way back in September I wrote: As usual, the rock is on Alex Smith's shoulder. He was brilliant in Week One and very ordinary in Week Two. Consequence? We are one and one.” For one and one read one and done.

Reams have been written about the Pitt loss and a lot of it makes sense, about the lack of a run game on our side and the inability to stop theirs; about the way the Chiefs kept them out of the end zone all day for all the good it did them; about the play-calling, the penalties, the dropped passes, the everything.

At the end of the day, Alex just wasn't good enough. Not for this game. Maybe not for any game.

Let's be fair. Back in September I thought that Nick Foles might get a shot at starting if Alex faltered. That didn't happen. I thought that the running backs would be the mainstays of the team. I foresaw Charles coming back and having a big year. He didn't. How much better would Alex be with a real running game? How much was Charles missed swinging out of the backfield catching passes in the flat? Who knows, but you ought to be able to put a number on it and the number would be large.

I wrote then: The problem is Charles has yet to play. Ware and West have shared the work and whilst both are capable, Charles has really been missed. If the running-back-offence starts to click when he does then fine. If not – big trouble. 

I was right again.

On to the real problems. Here's what I had to say about the receivers:

The wide receiver corps has been revamped. (About time too!) Jeremy Macklin leads. Chris Conley is now a second year receiver. Tyrek Hill is listed but is really a kick returner. The rest? De'Anthony Thomas who has mysteriously been inactive for the first two games, Demarcus Robinson, a rookie and Albert Wilson a 200 pound 5' 9” receiver (very out-of-date in the NFL). You can still make a case that this group is not going to scare anyone and not going to help Smith very much in his quest to become an elite QB.


What about the O-line: I'm not convinced that this is their year. Maybe in 2017-18 but not today. 

I just about got this right.

Defence? Turning to the defence which, as everyone with a brain cell knows, is what wins titles and Super Bowls. What was a strength is now just about average. 

Yep, nailed it!

Finally, I turned to the coaches: The coaching is what it is. There is no pressure real on Andy Reid. They are stable. They have good, experienced and capable coaches on the staff. They need to earn their money now. Anyone can coach an exceptionally good team. Can they make winners out of some mostly average talent? We'll see.

They made us winners all right. We won the AFC West. We got a play-off bye. Compared to the other 31 teams we did very well. But in the NFL only one team wins the Super Bowl. I have a notoriously bad record of picking the Super Bowl winners. I seen New England as too good in Foxborough for the Steelers to handle. I can't see the Packers stopping the Falcons. It's always hard to bet against Coach Belichick, but I'm picking Atlanta.

We move on. The draft. WR! WR! O-line O-line Linebackers Linebackers

Next year may be our season. At the end of the day (cliché) it was injuries that hurt us most, but that's true of all the other teams as well!

Friday, November 25, 2016

Lat Night of the Proms



Englishness gone mad
 
In The Road to Little Dribbling, Bill Bryson describes his British Citizenship test. He was asked to identify Sake Dean Mahomet (introduced shampoo to Britain), the other name for the 1944 Education Act (The Butler Act), who Jenson Button is (Formula One racing driver), what is the actual name of Big Ben (the Elizabeth Tower) and other such important and essential bits and bobs relating to British culture.

There is an easier way to do this. Simply require candidates to watch The Last Night of the Proms and disqualify them if they regurgitate during the performance: It would certainly discriminate between the unsuitable and the seriously unstable, both of which we don't really want or need in Britain.

Nothing else comes close to capturing the essence of the English character in all its glory than the Last Night of the Proms. The Last Night is really the official end of the British Summer, so much as summer actually exists here. The venue is the Royal Albert Hall. I know this for my step-son used to work there. Stories he tells of the antics at the Last Night are the stuff of which legends are made.

Prom is short for promenade concert, a term which originally referred to outdoor concerts in London's pleasure gardens, where the audience was free to stroll around while the orchestra was playing.”

The Last Night of the Proms celebrates British tradition with patriotic music of the United Kingdom. That's the bare-bones explanation. The reality is something actually and seriously quite different.

Many people's perception of the Proms is taken from the Last Night, although this concert is very different from the others. It usually takes place on the second Saturday in September, and is broadcast in the UK on BBC Radio 3, and on BBC2 (first half) and BBC1 (second half). The concert is traditionally in a lighter, 'winding-down' vein, with popular classics being followed by a series of British patriotic pieces in the second half of the concert. This sequence traditionally includes Edward Elgar's "Pomp & Circumstance March No. 1" (to part of which "Land of Hope and Glory" is sung, n.b. to which I often append the sub title, “Land of Shite and Tories”) and Henry Wood's "Fantasia on British Sea Songs", followed by Thomas Arne's "Rule, Britannia!".

However, the "Fantasia" did not feature from 2008 to 2011, though "Rule, Britannia!" has retained its place in the programme in its own right. The full "Fantasia" re-appeared in 2012, but was again absent from the 2013 concert. The concert concludes with Hubert Parry's "Jerusalem" (a setting of a poem by William Blake), and the British national anthem, in recent years in an arrangement by Benjamin Britten. The repeat of the Elgar March at the Last Night can be traced to the spontaneous audience demand for a double encore at its première at a 1901 Proms concert. The closing sequence of the second half became fully established in 1954 during Sargent's tenure as chief conductor of the Proms. The Prommers have made a tradition of singing "Auld Lang Syne" after the end of the concert, but it was not included in the programme until 2015. However, when James Loughran, a Scot, conducted the Last Night concert in the late 1970s and early 1980s he included the piece as part of the programme. Since 2009, "You'll Never Walk Alone", for audience participation has been included annually– a contribution made by the current Proms director, Roger Wright.”

I had to include this Wikipedia explanation just to set the stage, for I believe nothing quite like The Last Night exists in any other country or culture. It is so saccharinely sweet and intrinsically twee that it would be impossible to either imitate or even replicate to a close approximation. And then again, why would you want to?

This year's guest tenor was, as the Telegraph put it, “Peruvian tenor Juan Diego Flórez steals the show at Last Night of the Proms as he delights fans with Inca costume.” His finale was Wahine Guantamamea sung whilst wearing his Inca King gear. No, I'm not making this up – he pranced around the stage dressed as a gooney bird and sang Land of Hope and Glory to thousands of Union Jack-waving pelicans in the crowd – the assemblage which contains possibly the greatest collection of saddos and wierdos on the planet (with the exception of the Mathematics Department at Birmingham University). He warmed up by singing various operatic pieces. At this point, they show sub-titles in English, but this does not really help. Even the most rudimentary of language students can see that the sub-titles bear no actual resemblance to what is being sung.

Now, I will not abuse those who like opera: I just never found the reason or sense in it. There is no melody. It's is really just organised shouting (in a foreign language).

I particularly enjoy it when the camera focuses on the orchestra. Now these folks are very skilled musicians. But the whole shemozzle is so artificial that it positively reeks of sycophancy. The first violin believes he is the modern-day equivalent of Julius Caesar's First Spear Centurion. The promenaders ooze orgasmic noises when he deigns to wave at them. (Hand me the sick bag please, Hazel) And, I really wish someone could explain to me why there are no left-handed violin players in an orchestra?

I tracked this down:

Hello,

I am a left handed violinist, as in bow in left hand. I play classical, as well as many other styles.

In your opinion, what would be my odds of getting into an orchestra? Be honest, say what you feel and think.

Obviously there a big stigma attached to playing left handed in the classical world.

Answer (or should I say Antwort?)

You want me to be honest, so I will. I have been a manager of orchestras and professional musicians for more than 30 years and I have to tell you stand NO CHANCE at all of getting a job in an orchestra if you play the wrong way around. Your bow will always be going in the wrong direction, with the potential to clash with your stand partner. You will also 'look' very strange in the middle of a section. Also, your instrument will be facing the opposite way to everyone else's, leading to balance problems. There is no 'stigma' against left-handed players in music. There is a higher proportion of left-handed people in the music profession than almost any other strand of society. However, they were not as unlucky as you in being 'allowed' to play a string instrument back-to-front.

Every left-handed string player I know (and there are lots, owing to the relatively high proportion of left-handers in the music business) was taught to play the correct way. They actually have the advantage of using their strong hand to play all those fiddly left-hand fingerings.

I am sorry to be the bearer of bad news, but you should never have been allowed to learn to play 'the wrong way'.

My case is well and truly rested. 20% of the population are excluded just for being born left-handed! Where is the march on Downing Street?

The finale includes Jerusalem – words by that well-known drug addict William Blake who must have been high as a kite when he postulated that Jesus strolled about England. Because it has become a kind of English pseudo-anthem tells you all you need to know of the real English character. Odd, weird, jingoistic, mad as a March Hare.

The finish is Auld Lang Syne and two verses of God Save the Queen. Since no-one actually knows more than one verse now-a-days they have the big screen with the words helpfully scrolling by. How thoughtful.

Tuesday, November 15, 2016

Sunday Times does the election


The Sunday Times Does the Election

        a view from across the pond

From Camille Paglia

Talentless, venal Clinton deserved to lose. . . . any other Democrat would have won this election because so many people voted for Trump just to stop the utterly sociopathic Hillary from gaining office. . . . Bill Clinton was a skilled politician – I voted for him twice – who knew how to negotiate with people and enjoyed public life - but Hillary had none of these qualities. . . she rose to prominence on her husband's coat tails and never accomplished anything on her own. . . her attempts to reform healthcare as first lady were a disaster . . . she became senator for New York through pure nepotism . . . as Secretary of State she spent a lot of time on airplanes meeting people and shaking hands . . her only legacy was destabilizing North Africa . . . we must terminate all connections with the Clintons . . . they must be consigned to the dustbin of history . . . they have drained too much of our mental and political energy for 25 years.

From John Glancy in Wilkes-Barre. Pa.

77 year old Joe Brown voted for Obama in the last two elections. . . this year he switched to the Republicans . . . why? . . . we need a change . . . Obama did nothing . . . Brown loathes the system and the “Washington elites” . . . people are angry about illegal immigration . . . in Wilkes-Barre the Hispanic population has increased by 523% . . . it would have been difficult to find a candidate worse placed to win in Wilkes-Barre than Clinton . . . academic, dynastic, elite . . . Maureen Frank, 58, believes people voted for Trump because “they're uneducated, they're idiots” . . .

From Niall Ferguson

. . . the politics of the Republic has always been a blood sport . . . at least this year we didn't have an actual duel of the sort that killed Alexander Hamilton in 1804 . . . the economist Paul Krugman wrote in The New York Times, “people like me . . . truly didn't understand the country we live in . . . We thought that the great majority of Americans valued democratic norms and the rule of law. It turns out we were wrong. . . a huge number of white people living in rural areas don't share our ideas of what America is about. For them it is about blood and soil (Hitler's German: Blut und Boden) refers to an ideology that focuses on ethnicity based ideas – my italics) about traditional patriarchy and racial hierarchy. . . I (Ferguson) received an email from my old university, “we have heard from students, faculty and staff who have expressed anger, anxiety and fear . . .take care of yourselves and give support to those who need it” . . . the Founding Fathers provided for this . . . Alexander Hamilton warned “of those men who have overturned the liberties of republics, the greatest number have begun their career by paying an obsequious court to the people, commencing demagogues and ending tyrants”. . . It will not be like that. This is how democracy in America was and is meant to work . . . the hysteria on the left is partly because being this wrong has to hurt . . . the Princeton Election Consortium gave Clinton a 98-99% chance of winning . . . how did they get it so wrong? . . . it was very close . . . Clinton was predicted to get 47% of the vote, she got 47.7% . . . the pollsters critically underestimated Trump's vote . . . predicting he'd get 44% . . . in fact he got 47.5%. . . most waverers and undecideds chose Trump . . . if just one in a hundred votes chose Clinton over Trump she would have won 307-231. . . nice try, but no cigar . . . Democrats assumed the Electoral College would help their candidate . . .it did not . . .because Trump spoke in so derogatory terms about Mexicans and Muslims, partly because his campaign won the support of white supremacists, the standard liberal answer is race won it for Trump. . . at first sight the whitewash theory seems to be supported by the data. . . Trump beat Clinton 62%-33% in counties that are at least 85% white. . . in placed where 97% of the population was born in America he won 65%-30% . . . yet 29% of Hispanics voted for Trump - same percentage of Asians and 37% of other racial groups – even 1 in 12 black Americans voted for him . . .but, class turned out to matter at least as much as race. . . your income, your education and your distance from a big city were at least as predictive as your colour . .
the hillbillies were not too drunk or drugged to vote. . . for the average American family the last 16 years have been a round trip via a massive financial crisis . . . Yale economist Ray Fair's simple model which predicts elections on the basis of economic performance clearly pointed to a Democratic defeat. . . lots of well-educated Americans voted for Trump . . . more than half of the over 64's voted for Trump, less than third of 18-24's. . . women voted for Trump 53% of them. . . the status quo offered by Clinton can be summed up as SNAFU – but the alternative may well be FUBAR. . . the word “work” featured nine times in Trump's victory speech . . . deal with it.

From Ron Liddle

I see that John Kerry, the US Secretary of State has been on a trip to Antarctica. Good move. Get used to it John – it's where your staggeringly inept party will be, metaphorically, for at least four years. Get used to the silence and the desolation and the whale-blubber sandwiches. . . the list of utterly pointless people ferried to the North or South Pole by the climate change monkeys is so lengthy they even asked me to go on one of these daft beanos . . . why would I do that? . . . it's cold there . . . I do not believe, as does the President-elect that climate change is a “Chinese hoax” . . . I think climate change is probably happening . . . it's all the attendant baloney that makes me wish to reach for my revolver, if I had one . . . perhaps the most stupid policy was the rush for diesel . . . children can now look forward to choking, nausea and turning blue as a consequence of nitrogen oxide poisoning . . there are calls to ban diesel cars from London's roads . . . But nothing beats wind farms . . . nothing comes close . . . the Scots in particular are gung-ho and aim to destroy the beauty of their entire country by planting them wherever . . . they do enormous damage . . . offshore wind-farms are basically Moulinex blenders for gannets and kittiwakes . . . they discombobulate whales and mince bats (I include this article just to show that Mr Trump is not alone in his environmental scepticism!)

Sunday Times lead editorial page 18

The election of Donald Trump broke so many precedents it is not surprising that the world has been left wondering what will happen next in Washington . . . Mr Trump's victory was not quite a “Dewey defeats Truman moment . . . but it came close . . .pollsters expected a clear win for Clinton, the most optimistic model gave him a 29% chance . . . it is important that Trump's victory should not be seen as the end for free trade, open markets and globalisation . . . the election, after all, was between two candidates notable for their lack of appeal – Mr Trump was regarded by enough people as the lease worst . . . another Democratic candidate might have won easily, just as another Republican might have beaten Mrs Clinton by a larger margin . . . Trump won because he spoke directly to the American working class . . . in the rust belt they probably do not expect him to reopen mothballed steel mills and closed coal mines (I'm not so sure about that!) . . .the Democrats are losing touch with their traditional power-base but have not quite lost it . . . people need to be convinced that open markets benefit them and not just big corporations . . . people do not like open borders and uncontrolled immigration . . . Politicians who ignore, this, as Mrs Clinton mainly did, will suffer . . . Jean-Claude Juncker always strikes the wrong note on behalf of the EU. “We need to teach the President-elect what Europe is and how it works, predicting two wasted years whilst Trump tours a world he doesn't know . . . Angela Merkel, whose open door immigration policy ranks as on of the gravest errors of recent times, offered to work with Trump only on the basis of the values of democracy, freedom and the rule of law and the dignity of man, independent of origin, skin colour, religion, gender, sexual orientation or political views . . . Europe seems determined not to learn anything from Trump's victory . . . our “special relationship” may become rather important again in the next few years.


A snippet Teresa May – better safe than sorry

The Prime Minister wore a sari to visit a temple in Bangalore for the final day of her trip to India last week. It's now traditional for visiting leaders to wear the costume of their host country. George W Bush and Vladimir Putin wore traditional silk jackets in China in 2001 and Chilean ponchos during a summit in Santiago in 2004. So, here is the appeal to Teresa May, when Donald Trump comes to Britain for his first state visit, we beg of you: don't let him anywhere near Brighton beach and its nudist beach.

From Adam Boulton

Donald Trump is making nice . . . He praised and looked forward to dealing with Barack Obama . . . he told Americans they owe Hillary Clinton a debt of gratitude . . . even professional protesters got a backhanded compliment . . . just like Brexit, no-one saw this coming – including the candidate himself . . . several hours after the polls closed the Republican pollster, Frank Luntz stated flatly that Mrs Clinton was the next president . . . (I'm just guessing, but he may now be looking for another job) . . . Nationwide Mrs Clinton got 444 000 more votes than Mr Trump, but Trump won 30 states to Clinton's 20, so nobody (except real hard-core numpties!) is disputing the result . . . the winner has abandoned his claim that the system was rigged . . . an unabashed Nigel Farage hastened to the US offering to the the “responsible adult” in the room when the PM and the President meet . . . nobody in the US was remotely interested in what Britain was saying . . it seems with each new President we have a nervous breakdown over whether we are cringing low enough before our masters and whether they really love us . . . his team: veteran right-wingers who remained loyal to him, many of them failed candidates – Rudy Guilianil, Mike Huckabee, Newt Gingrich, Chris Christie . . . these are all establishment figures, not blue-collar insurgents . . . and none is a noted friend of the UK . . . Trump's priorities are domestic . . . Mrs May should be careful . . . hugging the President (watch out for your bum Teresa!) got Tony Blair involved in Iraq and Afghanistan . . . Trump's foreign policy statements have been contradictory, sometimes isolationist, sometimes aggressive . . . to tie the UK too closely to Trump in the hope of scavenging from the billionaires table would be rash.

From Heather MacDonald

America's Republican elite are as stunned by Trump's conquest of the White House as the Democrats and the press . . . They shouldn't be, since they created the conditions that led to his improbable victory . . . for decades the Repubs suppressed the debate about the costs of mass low-skilled immigration . . . questioning the open borders policy led to charges of xenophobia or were simply ignored . . . immigration was said to be unalloyed good . . . however, residents of areas with large numbers of low-skilled immigrants were experiencing a different reality exemplified by California, the state most transformed by mass immigration . . . the majority of babies now born there are Hispanic and Hispanics have expanded their numbers six-fold since 1970 . . . in the 1950's and 60's California led the country in educational achievement, today the percentage of students lacking the most rudimentary maths and reading skills matches those in Miss, Louisiana, Alabama . . . (so why are Californians still voting for the Dems?) . . . Hispanics have the highest rate of unwed teen pregnancy of any group in the nation . . . low-skilled immigrants depress the wages of less-educated workers . . . in 2016 only two in three American adults without a college degree were working . . . thanks to competition from low-skilled immigrants . . . to go by his campaign performance Trump would seem a deeply-flawed national leader – thin-skinned – childishly vindictive and almost pathologically narcissistic but voters were willing to overlook his failings because he voiced their concerns on immigration . . . the Republican establishment could have prevented the Donald's rise years ago by subjecting its open borders orthodoxies to empirical testing and to good faith moral criticism . . . it has fallen to a boorish reality TV star to articulate some basic truths: the citizens possess the right to police their borders; a country's immigration policy should serve first and foremost the interests of its citizens; and lawlessness in one area breeds lawlessness in many others . .
Trump's famous “wall” is far less important than the enforcement of immigration laws in the interior of the county, including against employers . . . the country watches breathlessly for every hopeful sign that the seriousness of the office he has won will make Trump mature and teach him long-overdue impulse control.

Jeremy Clarkson – as usual had the last word

Almost all my friends are bleeding-heart liberals . . .they host fund-raising evenings t buy padded bras for people with trans-gender issues and they are utterly bewildered and devastated by the Brexit vote . . . they cannot understand why we are leaving because everyone they ever met in their pastry shop and dinner party and on the touch-line of every school sports pitch wanted to remain . . . of course they are completely stunned by the Donald Trump thing, because the Americans they know seem so sensible . . . “I was with Gwyneth only last night trying out some smoothies and she's such a lovely girl . . . they can't understand the US election result because they all go to America a lot and to them the place always seems so reasonable . . . they stay at the Mercer in New York and Shutters on the Beach in Santa Monica California . . . all the celebs were for Hillary and she lost . . . (I've been trying for what seems a life-time to explain to the English that the real America lies, in general and in the most part, between New York and California) . . .
Now they are wondering if democracy has had its time . . . if I were to suggest that people with low IQ's (another one of Adolf's great ideas!) should be given less of a say in who runs the country than those in Mensa, most would nod sagely and say pensively, “It may have to come to that, because it's ridiculous that my cleaning lady has the same influence in an election as me.” . . . But I'll let you into a little secret . . . all those words that I cannot use any more in this newspaper . . . all those jokes no-one can say any more on TV . . . all those phrases that are no longer socially acceptable in Notting Hill and the home counties . . . well, up North you will hear all of them, all the time . . . political correctness simply doesn't exist in a Doncaster pub . . . because there is no time to worry about the correct word for “cross-dresser” when you haven't got the money . . .in parts of America there are people who spend all day in a queue for the food bank . . . how much of a shit do you think they give about trans-gender issues or polar bears” . . . in parts of Britain all my friends see from their Range Rover window as they drive to Scotland for a bit of shooting are towns and villages full of young people who have nothing to do all day but reproduce . . . Dims breeding dims, is what my grandfather used to say . . . every time there's an election some politician come on the TV they half-inched (stolen, I translate from British to American – ain't I wonderful!) to say he will make life better, so they vote for him and then find out later that his idea of underprivileged is actually someone who wants to dress up in a frock (dress). . . yes my heart bleeds for those who are bullied because of their sex or their looks or their sexual orientation, but it only bleeds because I've got a ton of money and two houses . . . if I had an empty larder (kitchen cupboard) and a rash and a terrible hacking cough, I assure you of this: I wouldn't care a bit . . . Trump talked a lot of nonsense in his campaign, if I were to meet him I'd probably dislike him on a cellular level; however he said the politicians had let the poor down . . . Ker-ching; he said they would always let the poor down . . . Ker-ching . . . and the only thing that could provide them with jobs and money was business – big business . . . Ker-ching again . . . they said, Yep, the future's bright, the future's orange . . .happily I have a solution . . .The Palace of Westminster is to be closed for essential repairs . . . MP's will have to meet somewhere else and I reckon they should all go to Hartlepool (they hung the monkey – I mean yes they really did hang a monkey – look it up on Wikipedia) . . . after a few years in this former steel town they might start to understand that in the big scheme of things Eddie Izzard's right to wear a pink beret is not that important (look that one up as well)


Friday, November 11, 2016

A House Divided



Trump Trumps All

Well, it's over. After what must surely rank as the strangest, most polarized campaign in history, Donald Trump is now the President-elect.

You have to go back to Abraham Lincoln's election to find an equivalent shake-up to the established order – and we all know where that led us.

Not since Dwight Eisenhower, a war hero with extensive experience of “governing” the most fragile coalition in history, has anyone entered the Oval Office with less governmental experience. This may or may not be a bad thing, but it is certainly unique.

First of all, how did he do it? As more and more information becomes known, it seems that almost anyone except Hillary could have won for the Democrats. In many respects, she lost it more that he won it.

But, it cannot be quite that simple. The fact is she got more votes, but he got them were it mattered. In state after state, he won a majority by simply not being Ms Clinton. Folks were not sure of much, other than that they were fed up with the Establishment and wanted a change. (Remind anyone of Brexit?). Out in the rust-belt where jobs have gone overseas and the blue-collar has not been replaced by the white collar the anger was thick and sloppy enough to cut with a dull butter knife.The more the voters were told about the bullying tactics of Trump, the misogamy, the crazy ideas and the lack of a coherent plan, the less they seemed to care. They wanted change, almost any change, and now they've got it.

I saw a quasi-poll that had Bernie Sanders running The Donald a close race and maybe winning. Why? Bernie was fresh, he was new, he was seen as a outsider and he was saying unpalatable things that upset the Establishment. Ditto The Donald.

Where do we go from here?

First, back to Lincoln who told us that a house divided against itself cannot stand. The protestors currently roaming the streets of New York, Chicago, Seattle and other great cities must be heard, but they must not be allowed to spoil the Trump victory with their vitriolic asserton that they will not accept the result. That is not the American way. Donald Trump has said he intends to be a President for all the people. He must get a chance to deliver.

But, deliver what?

The parties all publish their platforms. (In Britain they are called Manifestos.) What was in the Republican platform and can they deliver it? Here's what they said:

Taxes

The establishment of a pro-growth tax code as a moral imperative. We oppose
retroactive taxation. We condemn attempts by activist judges at any level of government to seize the power of the purse from the people’s elected representatives by ordering higher taxes. We oppose tax policies that deliberately divide Americans or promote class warfare. Because of the vital role of religious organizations, charities, and fraternal benevolent societies in fostering generosity and patriotism, they should not be subject
to taxation and donations to them should remain deductible. To guard against hypertaxation of the American people in any restructuring of the federal tax system, any value added tax or national sales tax must be tied to the simultaneous repeal of the Sixteenth Amendment. (Income Tax – my interjection and explanation) to switch to a territorial system of taxation so that profits earned and axed abroad may be repatriated for job-creating investment here at home. We believe American companies should be headquartered in America.

Well, they would say that wouldn't they. All parties say they are going to simplify the tax system, and raise more money whist actually cutting rates. It's what parties do. I remember The Donald telling the voters that the national debt had to be cut. How? When? Where?

Freeing financial markets

The Republican vision for American banking calls for establishing transparent, efficient markets where consumers can obtain loans they need at reasonable rates based on market conditions.

Hard to argue with this one – you might as well argue against Mom's apple pie. As usual the devil is in the detail.

Increase transport infastructure

Our country’s investments in transportation and other public construction have traditionally been non-partisan. Everyone agrees on the need for clean water and safe roads, rail, bridges, ports, and airports. President Eisenhower established a tradition of Republican leadership in this regard by championing the creation of the interstate highway system. In recent years, bipartisan cooperation led to major legislation improving the nation’s ports and waterways.

This looks like one of the key points that President Trump is going to be able to move on and move on quickly. Infastructure means improved competitiveness for business and lots of construction jobs for Trump supporters. Dare I mention The New Deal – or will many Republicans faint if I do?

Building the Future: America’s Electric Grid:

Our nation’s interstate electric transmission system has long been a catalyst for developing and delivering low cost energy while spurring economic growth throughout the United States. The grid is aging, vulnerable to cyber and terrorist threats, and unprepared to serve our energy needs of tomorrow.

Ditto the infastucture comments. Add the shale gas and the coal question. Can Trump find common ground with West Virginia miners and new-age, mega-bucks shale gas drillers?

Start-up Century: Small Business and Entrepreneurship

A central reason why the 20th century came to be called the American Century was the ability of individuals to invent and create in a land of free markets. Back then they were called risk-takers, dreamers, and small business owners. Today they are the entrepreneurs, independent contractors, and small business men and women of our new economy. Their innovation drives improvement. . .

Standard Republican fare here extolling the virtues of laissez-faire capitalism. But, when we are competing with countries who do not subscribe to this economic model, chiefly the Chinese, it does seem a bit pie-in-the-sky. Interestingly, it seems that the entrepreneurs of small-town America may have been the source of Trump's votes in states like Michigan, Pennsylvania and Ohio.

Workplace Freedom for a 21st Century Workforce (Republicans are traditionally anti-union or at least as ambivalent towards organised labor as the Conservative Party in the UK)

The greatest asset of the American economy is the hard-working American. That is why our first priority is getting people back to work by fostering the kind of growth that creates jobs.

Can't argue with this! Just tell us what it means.

A Federal Workforce Serving the People

We urge Congress to bring federal compensation and benefits in line with the standards of most American employees. A Republican administration should streamline personnel procedures to expedite the firing of bad workers, tax cheats, and scammers. The unionization of the federal workforce, first permitted by Democrat presidents in the 1960s, should be reviewed by the appropriate congressional committees to examine its effects on the cost, quality, and performance of the civil service. Union representatives in the federal workforce should not be paid to conduct union business on the public’s time.

Standard Republican ideas.

Reducing the Federal Debt

We must impose firm caps on future debt, accelerate the repayment of the trillions we now owe in order to reaffirm our principles of responsible and limited government, and remove the burdens we are placing on future generations. A strong economy is one key to debt reduction, but spending restraint is a necessary component that must be vigorously pursued.

Hard to square this one with the promise of infastructure improvements. In common with all governments, the reduction in debt is really tied to pie-in-the-sky improvements in the overall economy. If this happens debt can be repaid. If not?

We the People

We reaffirm the Constitution’s fundamental principles: limited government, separation of powers, individual liberty, and the rule of law. We denounce bigotry, racism, anti-Semitism, ethnic prejudice, and religious intolerance. Therefore, we oppose discrimination based on race, sex, religion, creed, disability, or national origin and support statutes to end such discrimination. As the Party of Abraham Lincoln, we must continue to foster solutions to America’s difficult challenges when it comes to race relations today.

Anyone against this one? I should hope not.

The Judiciary

The rule of law is the foundation of our Republic. A critical threat to our country’s constitutional order is an activist judiciary that usurps powers properly reserved to the people through other branches of government. Only a Republican President will appoint judges who respect the rule of law expressed within the Constitution and Declaration of Independence, including the inalienable right to ife and the laws of nature and nature’s God, as did the late Justice Antonin Scalia. We are facing a national crisis in our judiciary. We understand that only by electing a Republican President in 2016 will America have the opportunity for up to five new constitutionally-minded Supreme Court justices appointed to fill vacancies on the Court. Only such appointments will enable courts to begin to reverse the long line of activist decisions — including Roe, Obergefell, and the Obamacare cases — that have usurped Congress’s and states’ lawmaking. . .

This is a tough one. Reading it one way, you could be excused for thinking that the Republican party has lost its sense of the historical, constitutional process. The Constitution makes it clear that the three branches, President, Congress and the Judiciary are co-equal. Any attempt by any party to tamper with this principle is not only bound to fail but will simply garner the opprobrium of the American people. Even FDR found this out when he tried to pack the Supreme Court to get his New Deal legislation passed.

Reading it another way, it is true that the President can nominate Supreme Court judges who he thinks will see things his way. (This doesn't always work) Congress will scrutiize their appointment. The Donald made great pay in the campaign about Hillary appointing Supreme Court judges and how this must be opposed. He may well get some of his own medicine.

Administrative Law

We call on Congress to begin reclaiming its constitutional powers from
the bureaucratic state by requiring that major new federal regulations be approved by Congress before they can take effect, such as through the Regulation Freedom Amendment.

That's the way it's supposed to work. Just need to know what “major” is?


Defending Marriage Against an Activist Judiciary

Traditional marriage and family, based on marriage between one man and one woman, is the foundation for a free society and has for millennia been entrusted with rearing children and instilling cultural values.

This echoes Roe v Wade – another part of the circle which is going to be difficult to square as many of Trump'ssupporters will not, I believe, support restictions on either gay marriage or abortion. States rights?

It has always surprised me that either and/or both political parties seem to want to legislate public morality. Did they not learn from the Prohibition debacle?

On a personal level, I oppose on-demand abortion. But, I don't believe I have the right to impose my morality on others. The Republican-led federal government should stay out of the morality game. They can't win.

The First Amendment Religious Liberty

We pledge to defend the religious beliefs rights of conscience of all Americans and to safeguard religious institutions against government control.

Amen.

The First Amendment: - Constitutionally Protected Speech

We believe the forced funding of political candidates through union dues and other mandatory contributions violates the First Amendment. Just as Americans have a First Amendment right to devote resources to favored candidates or views, they have a First Amendment right not to be forced to individually support individuals or ideologies that they oppose. We agree with Thomas Jefferson that “To compel a man to furnish contributions of money for the propagation of opinions which he disbelieves and abhors is sinful and tyrannical.

Fairly typical Republican anti-union stuff here; however I agree – except workers who benefit from “closed-shop” agreements lawfully entered into by unions and employers, Workers can not opt-out simply to become cheap-skates! BTW the sound you may hear is Jefferson spinning rapidly in his grave when he is the subject of praise from a party whose ideas he would certainly oppose if he were alive.

The Second Amendment: Our Right to Keep and Bear Arms

We oppose ill-conceived laws that would restrict magazine capacity or ban the sale of the most popular and common modern rifle.

Nonsense. I support the Second Amendment. I do not believe the right to bear arms is unqualified. I'm presuming this is in the platform to pander to the NRA. This is a good example of why some people voted for Trump. People supported him for a variety of reasons.

The Fourth Amendment: Liberty and Privacy

Affirming the Fourth Amendment “right of the people to be secure in their houses, papers, and effects, against unreasonable searches and seizures,” we call for strict limitations on the use of aerial surveillance on U.S. soil, with the exception of patrolling our national borders for illegal entry and activity.

Typical politicians fudge. No unreasonable searches except when we think it's a good idea.

The Fifth Amendment: Protecting Human Life

. . . we assert the sanctity of human life and affirm that the unborn child has a fundamental right to life which cannot be infringed.

As I said, I support this philosophically, but it is a classic example of “Lord make me holy! (But not quite yet, please!)

The Fifth Amendment: Protecting Private Property

We call on Congress and state legislatures to enact reforms to protect law-abiding
citizens against abusive asset forfeiture tactics.

Sensible if applied sensibly. Not sensible if large landowners are allowed to milk the public purse.

The Fifth Amendment: Intellectual Property Rights

Today, the worst offenses against intellectual property rights come from abroad, especially in China. We call for strong action by Congress and a new Republican president to enforce intellectual property laws against all infringers, whether foreign or domestic.

Trump has already strongly hinted that the party is over for the Chinese. Good. Easy, quick and poular policy – except for the fact that they might ask for the debt to be repaid, like now.

The Ninth Amendment: The People’s Retained Rights

We welcome to our ranks all citizens who are determined to reclaim the rights of the people that have been ignored or usurped by the federal and intrusive state governments.

I suspect that what they mean is the things that they don't like.

The Tenth Amendment: Federalism as the Foundation of Personal Liberty

“The powers not delegated to the United States by the Constitution, nor prohibited by it to the states, are reserved to the States respectively, or to the people.”

States rights? Not again, surely! The Congress must not attempt to usurp the powers of the Supreme Court.

Honest Elections and the Electoral College

We oppose the National Popular Vote Interstate Compact and any other scheme to abolish or distort the procedures of the Electoral College.

I agree, despite the fact that Clinton won the popular vote. Remember Lincoln only won the popular vote in 1860 because he was not on the ballot in many southern states. The electoral college is a guarantee of state's legitimate rights.

Honest Elections and the Right to Vote

In order to preserve the principle of one person, one vote, we urge our elected representatives to ensure that citizenship, rather than mere residency, be made the basis for the apportionment of representatives among the states.

Unconstitutional.

The rest of the platform is really just a list of aims and ideas. Nothing wrong with that but it does occupy more than half of the platform pages with waffle.

When the dust settles what have we got?

A Republican President and a Republican controlled Congress should be able to get things done. People will be waiting, not very patiently, for them to get on with it. All Presidents get 100 days to get moving. President Trump will be no different. He has already hinted that big things are going to happen. Can he turn the rhetoric into action? The Speaker of the House, Paul Ryan, has said he is ready to seize the initiative, work with the adiministration and get things moving. Can he carry the house with him?

In the Senate it's 48 Dems and 52 Repubs. Trump should have support in the Senate, but Senators are notorious for their independence. Could be interesting.

The same can be said for the Supreme Court. Congress should be able to ratify any Trump nominees, but any really overt political ones may have problems.

The Bottom Line

I'm encouraged by most of the noises coming out of the President-elect's camp. Perhaps the reality of his achievement has just sunk in, but he certainly looks and sounds more presidential. He wants to be everyone's President and although all Presidents-elect say that I'm prepared to give him the benefit of the doubt. Only time will tell if he can bridge the gulf between rhetoric and reality. Perhaps, as a reality TV star he will find it easy. Somehow I've got my doubts.