Sunday, January 31, 2016

Cruz, Trump, Iowa and New Hampshire and a divided GOP

The American Presidential election is getting uglier.  I am not talking about the Democrats – not a single one of their candidates can be considered in any way attractive.

No, I am referring to the Republicans. 

We will see, within the next few weeks, a falling-off of some of the hopefuls.  Who will remain comes down to how they do in Iowa and New Hampshire, I strongly suspect.

My thoughts are that Trump, Cruz and Rubio, possibly also Bush, will survive the major blood-letting that will follow New Hampshire but then what?

Trump is the leader in a number of primary states but not overwhelmingly so.  When the cull starts, to which candidate will that drop-out’s supporters go?  I am not sure that these will be anything other than evenly split amongst the three or four remaining and so we may end-up with a floor vote at the National Convention because no candidate has sufficient delegates to gain the nomination.  We’ll see.

My support is for Cruz.  I admire his consistency and his policies and the fact that, though in Washington, he is not of Washington, the same way that Rubio is.  Trump has the momentum but I believe his lack of substance will start to be compared to Obama.  Good oratory but how will he deliver.  Making deals in business is not the same as in politics.  Also Trump has flip-flopped so many times, that will become more and more of a concern.  That and his support for liberal Democrat policies and candidates in the past will start to negatively resonate with heartland Republicans.

The attack ads phenomenon against Trump will escalate, as the field thins.  His hob-nobbing with leading Democrats and their supporters, will become more and more of an issue, I predict.  As will his previous speeches, which will come under much greater scrutiny.

This scrutiny will not just be from his GOP opponents.  The liberal media are lapping him up, at the moment.  They see him as a useful fool who will dispose of the highly credible Cruz but if he starts to move towards being the nominated candidate, watch them circle like sharks and devour him.  They won’t let him upset the coronation of Queen Hillary.  They will tear into his bankruptcies and his property deals, his business partners and so on.  He has a lot of baggage on which they can feast!

Trump’s recent escapades with the FoxNews debate speak to an arrogance that will start to toll against him.  We know that the American media has the rarely found affliction of being spineless, toothless and brainless, all at the same time, however, even they will start to tire of the ever-more extreme statements and antics of Trump.  They won’t stand in solidarity with Megyn Kelly – that’s a given – but they will, I suspect, start to scale back the coverage or find ways to provoke ever-more outrageous comments from Trump.   Trump’s arrogance and crude behaviour will be his downfall (or at least I hope it will).

I am not an American but of all those that I know, not one would mock those that are afflicted with a physical disability, as Trump has done.  While some of them probably support Trump, I am sure they are embarrassed by his ducking-out of the last debate.  Who knows?  Maybe he had advance knowledge that video clips of past speeches would be played and so his flip-flopping would be there for all to clearly see. 

Incidentally, Trump made much of his rival event being in aid of veteran charities.  One of those that was said to be a beneficiary is called Wounded Warriors.  According to a recent ABC News investigation, this charity manages, through lavish internal expenditure and generous executive salary packages, to devote just over 60% of funds raised, to its veteran beneficiaries.  This as compared to other veteran charities which spend north of 90% of the money they raise, on the people for whom they raise it.   Still, it’s the thought that counts, I suppose.

The Twittersphere was alive, earlier today, with speculation about the sexual orientation of Marco Rubio.  Very strong suggestions that he is or was a homosexual.  That won’t bother many, especially in the media, but it will disturb the heartland GOP.  It will be interesting to see how this story runs.

Coming at the end of eight years of Obama mis-rule , with failed domestic and international policies, a weak economy , greater race division and an unanswered terrorist threat and so on, this should be a great year for the GOP.  That Hillary Clinton, with e-mail gate and Benghazi still hanging over her, is still being spoken of as the likely winner of the Presidential race, is very, very worrying.    Hillary should be in prison awaiting trial not in the race for the White House!  And yet, at the moment, the GOP is in a state of undeclared war. 

The GOP establishment don’t like Cruz.  He has upset them too many times.  Ruling elites, of whatever hue, don’t like principled politicians.  Politicians that you can trust to not be bought and to stand and do the duty they were elected to do, worry the GOP establishment – how can such politicians be controlled?  Of course, they can’t.  So now GOPe has to work against Cruz and start to open-up to Trump, while secretly hoping that Rubio starts to move the needle in the upcoming primaries and Trump starts top falter.  It is a dangerous game that they are playing. 

The Tea Party wing of the GOP, recognise in Ted Cruz, a candidate who will do what he says he is going to do.  The Tea Party are very active and energised.  Ally them with the Trump supports who will defect as he starts to lose ground and GOP has a winning combination.  People that are angry, people that are focused and people that will get out the vote.

Iowans and New Hampshire voters – you know what to do and who to do it for!

Vote Out - even if you want to stay in!

 We do not yet know what David Cameron’s negotiations with the European Union will bring.  We can though start to see the outline of a deal.

And the word ‘deal’ is appropriate. 

One of, if not the main focal point has been Britain’s insistence on being able to withhold welfare benefits from newly arrived people from other EU member states.  David Cameron has been ‘banging the drum’ on this for some time and talking, not unreasonably, some might say, of the unfairness of people taking from a system into which they have not contributed.  In response, many other EU countries say that such actions would be discriminatory to their citizens.

They are both right, however, this is a ‘false flag’.  An issue designed to get us looking at this matter and forgetting the real issue.

What is really at stake in this referendum is sovereignty.  Who runs Britain.  The elected members of the British parliament at Westminster or the unelected members of the European Commission and the heads of 27 foreign governments?

Returning, for a moment to the benefits ‘deal’.  The outline proposal is that Britain would be able to apply an ‘emergency brake’ to providing benefits to non-Brits if Britain could demonstrate some kind of an inability to cope with a sudden influx.  Oh, and the ‘brake’ has to be approved by all of the other 27 countries!  Does anyone, outside of the con-men in Brussels think that such approval will ever been obtained?  So the ‘brake’ is meaningless and if this is all that David Cameron can get out of the negotiations then Britain must vote for Brexit.

What might Brexit mean?

The ‘Better Off In’ campaign have initiated Project Fear.  This was used most effectively to scare the Scots into voting against independence back in 2014.  In the case of the European Union, the tactic is that Britain doesn’t know what life would be like outside of the EU.  How would we trade, who would trade with us and so on.  Britain would be a tiny  island nation exposed to the harsh realities of a world where trade treaties govern trade and remove barriers etc..  What poppycock!

Britain is the fifth largest economy in the world.  We are projected to become the fourth, in a short space of time (overtaking Germany in the process!).  Britain would have two years, from when they advise the EU that we are leaving, to conclude trade treaties with other nations.  The EU doesn’t even have a trade treaty with the potentially largest trading nation, China, so that represents a great and immediate opportunity. 

Britain has a trade deficit with the rest of the EU – we import more from them, than they import from us.  When you consider that a lot of British trade to the rest of the world, goes through European ports like Rotterdam and this gets counted as British trade with the EU rather than with the end user country, it is clear that the EU has a very strong vested interest in concluding a reasonable trade deal with Britain. 

So the fear of the unknown isn’t really that scary, from a trade and economic perspective.

Indeed, given that remaining in the EU would inevitably lead to ever closer union, we could expect that Britain remaining outside of the failed Euro  project would be impossible to sustain.  The only way that the  Euro could possibly work is if the nations of the EU had common economic policies and that would require political union.  This should be clear to anyone, who has studied this subject. 

That many of the public supporters of the ‘Better Off In’ campaign also wanted Britain to join the Euro, at its outset, and warned of the grave dangers we faced by staying out of the Euro, says a lot. 

Britain’s economy is healthy and growing, that of the EU isn’t.  If Britain had joined the Euro project we would have had to contribute to the bail-out of Greece, Italy, Ireland, Portugal and Spain.  We would have had to adopt anti-growth policies and be tied into an exchange rate that is hampered by strong economies like Germany and Netherlands being held back by weak ones, like Greece, Italy and France.  I would suggest that a contributory factor in Britain’s current growth is that it is not in the Euro.

So would Britain leave? 

My gut feel is that if Britain voted to leave, common sense would prevail, after the initial panic.  By that I mean that firstly there would be a clamour, in other member countries for their own people to be given a vote.  Faced with the loss of a major contributor to the EU budget, the European Commission would have to come to the bargaining table and bring more than threats and meaningless ‘deals’.  Threats wouldn’t work.  The EU has more to lose from Britain’s exit than does Britain.  I would expect that after an Out vote, Britain would be in a very strong position and would actually be able to negotiate terms that would lead to a further referendum.  This second referendum would be as to whether or not Britain should reconsider and remain in the EU, based on the new renegotiated terms or still proceed and exit.  Since we cannot say how those terms might look, we cannot say how we might vote but I would suspect that the new terms would be both meaningful and more in line with Britain’s interests (and, I would suggest in the interest of the European Union, itself).

To me it is now clear that the only way  Britain can remain in the EU is to deploy Project Fear.  However, deploy this elsewhere in the EU.  It is the EU that should be scared of the unknown.  How will they survive a Brexit?  Who will provide such a growing market to which the EU can export their goods and services. 

For years, the EU was characterised by the economic powerhouse of Germany, calling all the monetary shots and the French calling all of the interventionist, centralised, nanny state shots.  Following the election of the frankly crazy socialist Francois Hollande and the global economic crisis, France’s influence within the EU has waned.  They still talk a big game but people aren’t listening so much.  In the harsh economic times, that much of Europe is facing, people are listening to the folks who pay the bills and within the Euro, that means Germany!

Germany’s economy  though, as mentioned earlier, is declining, albeit gradually.  Angela Merkel’s frankly crazy open door invitation to migrants provides a potential boost but I sense that this will be short-lived.  The German people are starting to feel swamped and Merkel is now in political difficulty.  The migrant attacks, in Cologne and other cities are just the tip of the iceberg.  This problem will get much worse before it normalises.  Don’t be surprised if there are terrorist atrocities to follow-on from Cologne.  Maybe in Germany or elsewhere.  (Incidentally, there was a brief news story about one of the terrorists , who was killed in Paris, having German connections but that is no longer being pursued – news management??)

To me the position has become ever clearer but I address this close to the ‘Better Off In’ supporters.  The best way for Britain to benefit from the EU and the best way to guarantee Britain’s membership of a reformed EU is to vote to leave.  Only this will bring the other EU members to their senses and to the bargaining table.

Vote OUT, even if you want to stay in!

Saturday, December 19, 2015

Christian persecution and hope

I spend 75% of my time, working in Erbil, in Kurdistan.  When I am there I worship at Mar Elia Catholic Church in the Christian area, called Ainkawa.   The story related here tells part of the story of what is happening.

Just before these refugees departed Erbil, I attended mass, given by Father Douglas.  He spoke movingly of his mixed emotions.  150 people would be moving from living in sea-containers and sharing basic sanitary facilities to better accommodation, in Slovakia.  He was pleased that the lives of these people would be dramatically improved and that Christian charity was being extended by the people of Slovakia.  However, he was also concerned at the continual eradication of Christians from Iraq, where they have worshipped for almost 2,000 years.  

Father Douglas was too polite to say it but the Muslim countries are fast becoming mono-theist lands.  Non-muslims are being eliminated - oftentimes, literally - from these countries.  Fortunately, Kurdistan's leaders are enlightened enough to appreciate the benefits that come from having non-muslims within the country.  This makes it ever more critical that Western governments provide military materiel to the Peshmerga, who are the only force on the ground, that daily confront the evil death-cult, Daesh. 

In the West there are many so called liberals who hog the media limelight and talk of the need to 'open our doors' to refugees.  Trouble is that what they get, is male Muslims.  Check out all of the TV footage and newspaper photographs, that you can.  Women and children are very sparse.  These invading hordes are overwhelmingly male an, judging by some media reports, exclusively Muslim.  Indeed, there have been repeated stories of Christian refugees being kept off of boats and transports, sometimes very forcibly so.        

Readers of previous blogs will know of my opposition to Europe taking-in refugees.  Broadly, my stance hasn't changed but I found myself, a couple of weeks ago, sitting in a church in Erbil with a priest giving me a different slant on the subject.  These 150 people are truly refugees  and not economic migrants and I certainly couldn't begrudge them the improvement that they will find in Slovakia, though I do wonder what is to become of the cradle of Christianity, when the last Christians are forced out, especially, when so much of the Christian European heartlands are being swamped by invaders, with an alien religion.

There are 2,000 Christian refugees who are still encamped in the grounds of Mar Elia church, in Erbil.  If you  were looking for a charity or cause  to support, this Christmas, I am sure Father Douglas would appreciate the help.  And so would those poor, suffering folk.  Please remember them all in your prayers, and also, the good people of Slovakia.