“Fire and Fury: Inside the Trump White House” by Michael Wolff


It’s been titillating liberal-centrists and topping best-seller lists since January, but Michael Wolff’s Fire and Fury is trashy and overrated.

Essentially, Wolff, a provocative columnist for the Hollywood Reporter, spent a year wandering around the White House talking to key members of team Trump.

The result was a book. Trump hoped it would be a flattering one — he’d liked a piece Wolff had done on him during the election, and given him free rein of the West Wing off the back of it. But it isn’t.
Continue reading ““Fire and Fury: Inside the Trump White House” by Michael Wolff”

Why Trump won (and why Farage won, and why people like them will keep winning)


A million hacks are taking to a million laptops to write about Trump – but the take-away message is simple.

Trump won by tapping into the broiling, misguided but ultimately understandable anger felt by poor white America. In a sense, it’s the same story that brought about Brexit.

Neoliberalism rigs society in favour of the wealthiest. Inequality balloons. Industry dies, and life gets hard for working-class people.

They get angry. They look for someone or something to blame. Poorly educated, and with worldviews shaped by the scandalously impartial corporate press, they don’t blame those most responsible: the banks, the media, the Right, and the captains of corporate capitalism.

Instead, they blame the most vulnerable people in society – women, black people, Muslims, gay and transgender people, disabled people, all of whom have suffered under centuries of structural injustice – and the liberal end of a managerial, stage-managed political elite. Continue reading “Why Trump won (and why Farage won, and why people like them will keep winning)”

Paying (some) attention to the Presidential primaries


Four years ago I wrote a long and detailed account of the Republican primaries – the laborious process the American Republican Party uses to choose its candidate for President.

Obama, a Democrat, was in the White House. He was seeking a second term, and his chances of getting one seemed to depend on who the Republicans chose to go up against him.

As it happened, the Republicans went for the most moderate, electable candidate of the pack, and Obama won anyway, so I arguably needn’t have bothered particularly since I nor anyone else I knew had a vote.

In 2016, I don’t have the time or the inclination to do the same again. The primaries go on for six months. In the beginning, there’s one every week or so. Come the end, there can be several in one day. And, most offputtingly of all, this year there’s twice as many of the things to try and follow as there were in 2012 – back then, it was just the Republicans traipsing from state to state, but this time the Democrats have to choose a candidate too. Continue reading “Paying (some) attention to the Presidential primaries”

Elliot Rodger, Nerd Supremacist

Elliot Rodger
Elliot Rodger

Elliot Rodger was both pathetic and terrifying. The strange sub-culture that produced him was certainly the former. He showed that, at its most extreme, it could be the latter, too.

Lethal shootings are dismayingly common in the gun fetishist US, and, as grim as it is to say it, the one perpetrated by Elliot Rodger in Isla Vista, California last month was actually quite mild by American standards. South Korean student Seung-Hui Cho shot and killed 32 people at Virginia Tech back in 2007. 20 year-old Adam Lanza slew 26, most of them children, at Sandy Hook Elementary School, Connecticut in 2012. Elliot Rodger killed six.

Let’s deal with the morally obvious first. Each one of those six deaths was a calamity. Young, flourishing, entirely blameless human beings were ripped away from everyone that ever cared for and relied on them, and out of the only existences they’d ever have, by a psychopath with a Glock 34. Just because we live in a world where lunatics with guns can kill dozens, wars kill hundreds of thousands and poverty, starvation and preventable disease kills millions, that still doesn’t mean that each and every premature death isn’t incomprehensibly tragic. The death toll might’ve been relatively small. And it could’ve been much higher – police found over 400 rounds of ammunition in Rodger’s crashed BWM coupe, along with three semi-automatic pistols and Elliot himself, dead from a self-inflicted bullet wound. But for us, and a lot of other people on both sides of the pond, it seems, this was one of the most profoundly chilling incidents we’ve ever looked into. Continue reading “Elliot Rodger, Nerd Supremacist”

Dion Rabouin on Martin Luther King

The hullabaloo that’s surrounded the 50th anniversary of MLK’s heroic ‘I Have A Dream Speech’ has predictably reduced the man to a civil rights campaigner with a nice line in oratorical flourishes. Obviously he was the twentieth century’s foremost rhetorically pleasing civil rights campaigner, but he was also a fierce critic of economic inequality. Like it does from everyone from George Orwell to Jesus, the mainstream media celebrates the bits of King’s legacy that are acceptable to the present-day political consensus and scraps the rest. Dion Rabouin of the Huffington Post has a good go at rebalancing the coverage by celebrating King the economic radical. But he also casually rubbishes socialism along the way, rattling through the standard American thought process that sees ‘socialism’ as 90% of the way towards ‘Communism’ which in turn is just a byword for initiative-crushing state tyranny. Apart from when it squeezes a hugely varied, adaptable view of the world and how it should be changed into the shoebox of stereotype – and to be fair to Rabouin he’s just reflecting King’s own stated views – it’s a nice article.

Link: http://www.huffingtonpost.com/dion-rabouin/martin-luther-king-capitalism_b_2506893.html

Least-Worst One Wins

Officially less worse than Mitt Romney
Officially less worse than Mitt Romney

Barack Obama has been re-elected after one of the tightest Presidential polls in recent decades. More importantly, the highest, most devastatingly powerful office in the land has been defended from a blank, asset-stripping plutocrat who dismisses 47% of the American population as feckless welfare-scroungers.

The 44th President of the United States has essentially governed like an old-school moderate Republican. His agenda might’ve been blasphemous to the foaming loons of the American Right, but, in reality, Obamacare is watery, limited and corporate-friendly, his tax rises have just corrected the libertarian madness of the Bush years, and he’s continued to bunker-bust, extraordinarily render and predator drone like the best of them.

And yet, for millions on both sides of the pond, this was an election all about keeping out Mitt Romney. When old-school moderate Republicanism has all but dried up, and America remains the glowering capital of neoliberal dystopias, Obama is not only infinitely preferable to the rabid Tea Partying alternative, but, short of reanimating Mother Jones and convincing her to run for office, the least-worst Commander In Chief the US is likely to produce in decades. Continue reading “Least-Worst One Wins”

Republican Primaries: The End (essentially)

Mitt Romney

The good news for world-weary Americans is that the Republican primaries are effectively over. The bad news is that the Republican primaries aren’t officially over for another four months – the last state, Utah, doesn’t to go the polls until June the 26th.

Former Massachusetts governor and consistent front-runner Mitt Romney has all but won his party’s Presidential nomination. At this stage, it would be nigh-on impossible for any of the other contenders to beat him to the official candidacy and go on to face Barack Obama in November.

Superficially at least, recent primary results make the race look misleadingly open – this month alone hard-right social conservative Rick Santorum has won seven. Ultimately, though, it all comes down to the total number of state delegates each candidate receives. With four months to go, Romney has secured an unassailable lead, his 568 more than double that of Santorum’s 273, and dwarfs the totals of both Newt Gingrich (135) and Ron Paul (50). Continue reading “Republican Primaries: The End (essentially)”