Sunday, December 25, 2016

We Aren't The World

There is a tradition of American Presidential inaugurations attracting the greatest American artists to perform.  Previous inaugurations have featured such national musical icons as Frank Sinatra, Bob Dylan, Bruce Springsteen and Aretha Franklin.

Following in this tradition, Donald Trump has invited a host of American superstars to sing at his inauguration - Elton John, Celine Dion, and Andrea Bocelli.  Oh, hold on a minute...

Never mind, they've all reportedly declined the invitation anyway, though Trump has secured a couple of other American icons (and even some of the Rockettes are said to be unhappy about it).  I guess those sneaky Limeys, Canucks and Eyeties just don't want America to be great again.

(And whatever possessed whoever in Trump's team thought of asking Elton John, given the incoming Vice President's well-documented homophobia?)  Reportedly he may instead play at an alternative "not my president" concert in Miami.

Anyway, here's wishing a Merry Christmas to all my readers!

Thursday, December 15, 2016

Facts are such inconvenient things

Donald Trump’s rejection of the CIA's findings probably stems from the same root as his invention of 3 million phantom illegal votes for Hillary Clinton. Trump knows in his heart, or what passes for one, that a substantial majority of American voters rejected him, and that while he has won the electoral college, he has no true mandate from the people. His enormous ego demands that he disavow any fact which would diminish his victory in his own estimation, hence the number of imaginary illegal votes he dreams up conveniently exceeds the 2.8 million vote margin by which Hillary defeated him in the popular vote. Anything else which would cast doubt on his win, such as the Russian hacks, must also be denied in order to feed his fragile self-esteem.

On a side note, it is questionable how long Americans will accept the continuation of the electoral college system. This was originally devised to ensure that any President enjoyed broad acceptability across many states of the young union, not just in a few populous ones.

As the electoral map shows, this works – Trump won 30 states to Clinton's 20 – but America's demographics have changed dramatically since the system was put in place. As the country’s population becomes increasingly concentrated in a few heavily populated coastal states, such as California, New York, Texas and Florida, it is likely that electoral college wins which go contrary to the popular vote will become more frequent. We are already seeing the beginning of a movement to challenge the current system – "Not My President" – and Americans will increasingly ask why the will of the overwhelming majority of the people has to be frustrated in order to keep Wyoming and North Dakota happy.  Watch this space.

Tuesday, December 13, 2016

Tomorrow’s News Today

From Private Beach - the blog that brings you the news before it happens!


Massive Tremor of Boredom Shakes Hong Kong

Thursday 15 December 2016 - Hong Kong was engulfed by a tidal wave of tedium today as New People's Party leader Regina Ip, at her long-awaited-with-disinterest press conference, finally announced what everyone has known for weeks that she was going to say.

Monday, December 05, 2016

Government Applies to Strip Hong Kong Chief Executive of His Office

Following his successful request to the High Court to unseat two young Legislative Council members on the grounds that they had not taken their oaths of office with due sincerity, Hong Kong’s Secretary for justice Rimsky Yuen today announced that the government is applying for a judicial review against Chief Executive CY Leung on the same basis. Explaining the move, Yuen stated: “The CE has sworn allegiance to the Hong Kong SAR, but his actions in office clearly demonstrate that his true allegiance is to the Chinese Communist Party, heedless of the interests of Hong Kong.  This places him in obvious breach of the NPCSC’s recent interpretation of the Basic Law, requiring oaths to be taken sincerely.”

“Furthermore,” Yuen continued: “Article 43 of the Basic Law states that the CE shall ‘represent Hong Kong’.  Having been elected by only 689 votes, and with his support ratings consistently running well below 50%, the CE is also unable to fulfil this requirement.  Accordingly we shall be asking the Court to declare his office vacant.”

Yuen was at pains to point out that this decision was made purely on legal grounds, with no political considerations being taken into account.

His Own Reality

Fact: the only person charged with illegal voting in the recent election was a Trump supporter.

Saturday, December 03, 2016

Door to Nowhere

 For many months, I regularly passed by this charming trompe l’oeil doorway into a peaceful country scene at Tai Po Market railway station.  Then one day recently I came by and it was gone – just a long section of featureless white wall where it used to be. 

I feel oddly bereft – as if I had pushed my way through the heavy coats to the back of the wardrobe, only to find that the entrance to Narnia was no longer there.  In a world where the likes of Donald Trump and CY Leung can ru(i)n our lives, we all need a doorway to a better world – however imaginary.


Wednesday, November 09, 2016

America Commits Suicide

There will be time for analysis later - I just wanted to be first with that headline.

Tuesday, November 08, 2016

Sunday, November 06, 2016

A Basket of Deplorables

Women for Trump - I'd give 'em a 1 - maybe a 1,5 if they lose the egotistical braggart with the bad haircut.  Supporting a candidate who has made so many demeaning remarks about women indicates an alarmingly low level of self-esteem.

Then there are the men - some Trump supporters are pretty dim bulbs.  One (so obese that if I was Trump, I'd probably call him Mr Piggy) was on the TV news the other night, asking "If I don't need a permit to exercise my right to free speech [guaranteed by the 1st Amendment to the US Constitution], why do I need one to exercise my 2nd amendment rights?"

Well, if you're going to claim rights on the basis of the American Constitution, you might try reading it first.  The 2nd Amendment specifically sets gun ownership rights within the context of "a well-regulated militia".  In other words, the Founding Fathers never intended a free-for-all - they envisaged a certain level of regulation.  Which doesn't stop supposed "law-and-order" candidate Trump from insisting that even the mentally disturbed and suspected terrorists should be free to arm themselves.  Duh.

Turds of a feather

Monday, October 10, 2016

The Giulanification of Donald

Rudolph Giulani's argument is, like most other excuses for Trump, nonsense.  Giulani argues that Trump is under an obligation to maximise profit for his shareholders.  It is true that those in charge of a public company are so obliged, within certain legal and ethical boundaries.  But the Trump Organization, Donald's main business vehicle, is privately held.  As such, Trump can essentially do whatever the law allows him to get away with.  He could even choose to pay tax if he wanted to.

Monday, August 15, 2016

Dead On Target

It is of course outrageous for Republican presidential candidate Donald Trump to suggest that in certain circumstances, shooting an American President could be a good thing. On the other hand, if Trump himself gets elected, we might just be forced to concede that there is something worthwhile in the idea after all.

Thursday, July 14, 2016

May You Never

Whenever I hear a Tory Prime Minister announcing their intention to govern for all the population and not just a privileged elite, my instinctive reaction is to recall the words of wisdom uttered by those great philosophers at the University of Woolloomooloo: "Howls of derisive laughter, Bruce".

However, Theresa May's first speech as PM yesterday was interesting for going into considerable detail on the existence of specific social barriers to upward mobility - barriers rarely acknowledged to exist by those in her party.  This marks a clear turn away from the crude Thatcher philosophy that if you're poor it's just because you don't work hard enough, and back to the "One Nation" Toryism of the Macmillan days - though perhaps with less of the whiff of noblesse oblige that accompanied it then.

May has an unenviable job ahead - she will be judged primarily on how successfully she can implement a policy opposed by almost half the British people, 2 of its 4 constituent nations, its largest city, and she herself - not to mention me.

All At Sea

Thursday, June 23, 2016

No Laughing Matter Really

Having lived out of Britain for four decades, I no longer have a vote there, so I can't participate in today's referendum on EU membership.  If I could, I would vote to stay in.  Not only are many of the "Leave" arguments exaggerated and unrealistic, but the campaign to quit seems to attract a large number of xenophobes and racists, as Jo Cox's murder sadly indicates.

I have long felt that Britain would have far more influence in the EU if it was less half-hearted about its membership.  For example instead of coming back every few years to squeeze a better deal out of the other members, it should propose a long-term mechanism which would periodically review every member country's contributions to ensure they remained fair, then seek support from other countries to implement it.

If Britain does vote to leave, I predict that within a few years Scotland will vote again on whether to remain in a United Kingdom that would be very different from the one they chose to remain in last time.  Having secured their independence, they would then reapply for EU membership, leaving the rump of the UK out in the cold with diminished influence.  But hey, at least Boris Johnson's ego would be stroked.  What could be more important?

Sunday, March 13, 2016

The Equal Opportunity Candidate

Special bonus: how Donald Trump will start World War Three!

Calling the North Korean leader "Fat Boy" to his face, instead of behind his back like every other world leader.

Tuesday, March 08, 2016

Big Swinging Donald

Too obvious?  Oh well...

Unfortunate Resource Locator

As always in these cases, you wonder if they are playing games with you or just being woefully ignorant.

Wednesday, February 03, 2016

Who's Cruzy Now?

Iowa Republican caucuses winner Ted Cruz's victory speech - after the obligatory nod to God - sought to project him as a grassroots anti-establishment candidate, an outsider.  The next President of the United States, he claimed, "will not be chosen by the Washington establishment" and "will not be chosen by the lobbyists".  Presumably this indicates that Cruz - a Senator in Washington, whose campaign contributors [and here] include a bunch of SuperPACs as well as the usual Wall Street suspects like the oil and gas industry and financial institutions such as Goldman Sachs, the controversial investment bank up to its ears in both the 2008 financial crisis and the Greek debt crisis - does not expect to become the next President!

Cruz is no stranger to self-contradiction - according to the BBC, as solicitor general "he argued in favour of the death penalty and late-term abortion bans", thereby contriving to be simultaneously both pro-life and anti-life!  But that is a contradiction he shares with most of the religious right wing in America, to whom human life is apparently more valuable before birth than afterwards.

Cruz is not of course the only Republican candidate who hasn't thought things through - Marco Rubio, third-placed Republican candidate in Iowa, blames mental illness for America's epidemic of gun violence.  At the same time, he has vowed to dismantle President Obama's health care reforms which have made health care more affordable for millions.  Perhaps he wants more untreated nutcases roaming the streets with guns?

One of the stated aims of this blog is "to make sense of the world".  Guys like this make that very difficult,

Tuesday, February 02, 2016

Carrie on Dreaming

Beleaguered Chief Secretary Carrie Lam appeared on the TV news a couple of days ago at the Hong Kong Institution of Engineers Fun Day in front of a banner proclaiming:
 "Your Dreams.  Our Goals."
(Unfortunately I have not been able to find a photo of this online - perhaps the media are getting tired of reporting every boring move made by senior government figures.)

Apparently this is the HKIE's slogan, not the government's latest vacuous feel-good campaign, but it did get me thinking:

Some of My Dreams
The Government’s Goal?
Real democracy
Human rights
Protection of the Country Parks
Rule of law / judicial independence
Academic freedom
Universal pension scheme
A cap on tourist numbers
Conservation of historic heritage
No white elephant projects

I guess one man’s dream is another man’s (or Party’s) nightmare.