The Paradox of the Positive: Re-Examining American Independence Day

Ever since I moved to Belfast I’ve made a point of celebrating the Fourth of July, Independence Day. While I quickly learned that the parades from my childhood don’t have the same meaning here, I clung to and adapted other traditions that were a bit more portable and less sectarianized; namely, beer and barbecued meat. Also, the wearing of red, white and blue, but done discreetly, and without obvious American flag emblems masquerading as clothing (I’m looking at you, bizarre, … Read more

Evil, I think, is the absence of empathy…

As America continues its depressing slow drift into Fascism this quote caught my eye: “In my work with the defendants (at the Nuremberg Trails 1945-1949) I was searching for the nature of evil and I now think I have come close to defining it. A lack of empathy. It’s the one characteristic that connects all the defendants, a genuine incapacity to feel with their fellow men. Evil, I think, is the absence of empathy.” Quotation: Captain G. M. Gilbert, the Army psychologist … Read more

The Opioids of the People

The United States government has launched a new anti-opioid campaign featuring true stories of people so desperate that they inflicted gruesome injuries on themselves to get another prescription. Such stories have already been more effectively told in poetry. The epidemic’s most searing skald is William Brewer, a son of Oceana, West Virginia, a post-industrial town so gripped by addiction that it is nicknamed Oxyana. We were so hungry; Tom’s hand on the table looked like warm bread. I crushed it … Read more

Trump’s Election Victory One year on…

A year ago, I took a little flak in a Slugger article for suggesting Trump’s surprise victory in the 2016 election might not have been won fairly and squarely. It was pointed out that Trump scored a decisive victory by the Electoral College rules, and it is fair to say, (as he did), he would have fought the campaign differently had it depended on winning the popular vote. While the story as yet to fully unravel, we know much more … Read more

‘The Germans are bad, very bad’ – President Trump…

As part of his continuing programme of How to lose friends and alienate people, German magazine Der Spiegel quoted Trump at the G7 meeting as saying: “The Germans are bad, very bad. Look at the millions of cars they’re selling in the U.S. We will stop that.” A particular target seems to be BMW, from CNN: Trump has taken aim at German carmakers before. In an interview in January, he said Germany’s BMW (BMWYY) should reconsider building a plant in … Read more

Happiness is not to be found in good public policy, but rather in the eternal love of Jesus…

Over in the Minnesota House of Representatives, Republican Abigail Whelan had an imaginative response to a question. As reported by Think Progressive. Pressed about her lack of support for an amendment that would close loopholes for offshore tax havens, a Minnesota Republican dodged the question in favor of talking about her religious beliefs. Minnesota Rep. Abigail Whelan, a second-term House legislator from suburban Ramsey, was responding to a question from Democratic Rep. Paul Thissen early Wednesday morning about whether she thinks “benefiting people … Read more

Letter From America: The Love Affair with the Ten Commandments…

 One thing that I see a lot of in America is signs. Advertising billboards are everywhere, a lot more than in Europe. Drive for any distance in a populated area in the US and you’ll see hundreds. However, there’s one particular type of sign that I see a lot of in my area and it’s not (technically, anyway) an advertisement. It’s the Ten Commandments. They’re all the same design and are available from a website (which is also advertised on … Read more

Poison of the American War with Vietnam still lingers over 40 years later…

  With revulsion, confusion and perhaps too much hypocritical moral indignation the World is coming to terms with yet another chemical weapons attack in Syria in the last few days.  But toxic chemicals have always been in the arsenals of our armies.  It is less acceptable to use them today off course but is there a good, proper or humane way to kill our enemies?  Whether it be the typhoid containing cow carcasses of the Middle-Ages, the mustard gas of … Read more

Playing the Long Game – Conservative Evangelicals and the US Supreme Court

Many observers of American politics are utterly befuddled by the reaction of many Republicans, first to the candidacy and then the actual presidency of Donald Trump. Why, so many wonder, do they tolerate, and even defend, a candidate who has so often been openly contemptuous of them and their party? He has belittled, insulted, denigrated, and bullied them, not to mention lied about them at almost every turn. And since he’s not demonstrated any discernible ideological core- other than the … Read more

“if you do that you are going to see a flood of companies leaving Ireland and Canada and Germany and France and they are going to come back to the United States…”

Here’s something for Taoiseach Enda Kenny, and any one else, to keep in mind when they hear that US President-elect Donald Trump “understands Ireland very well.  He was complimentary about the decisions made about the economy here.”  The Belfast Telegraph reports comments by Stephen Moore, a “senior economic advisor to Mr Trump”, on BBC Radio 4’s World at One today. From the Belfast Telegraph report [Stephen] Moore, senior economic advisor to Mr Trump, said the centrepiece plan of the new Washington … Read more

“Maybe it’s time to consider whether there’s something about shrill self-righteousness…”

At the Guardian, Thomas Frank offers some home truths to a self-styled liberal media [including bloggers! – Ed] in the aftermath of Donald Trump’s victory.  From the Guardian Comment is Free article How did the journalists’ crusade fail? The fourth estate came together in an unprecedented professional consensus. They chose insulting the other side over trying to understand what motivated them. They transformed opinion writing into a vehicle for high moral boasting. What could possibly have gone wrong with such … Read more

United to say farewell to Belfast International in 2017

One of the biggest airlines in the world, United Airlines is set to pull out of its Belfast International to Newark route in January 2017. The Executive had agreed a £9 million aid package to the airline (this is on top of the cuts to APD that are already in place) to help keep the route going.  The EU has however, blocked the aid package on state aid grounds. I have used this route many times and my brother brings … Read more

US Consulate: “We anticipate that a US trade and investment delegation will visit Northern Ireland in the first half of 2017”

The Northern Ireland Secretary of State, Theresa Villiers, has, in effect, called ‘bullshit’ on Martin McGuinness‘ claim that a proposed US investment delegation to Northern Ireland has been postponed “directly as a result of the vote” in the UK-wide EU membership referendum. Unlike the Northern Ireland deputy First Minister, echoed by his party colleague, Conor Murphy, the Secretary of State named the source of her information …Theresa Villiers said that the US Special Envoy Gary Hart had blamed the decision of … Read more

Bilderberg 2016: “If I were a member of a technocratic elite that wanted its influence on public policy kept under wraps…”

It’s that time again!  The 64th Annual Bilderberg Meeting, “like a corporate cross between Santa Claus and a big friendly squid“, has just ended in Dresden, Germany.  Charlie Skelton was there again for the Guardian, and his post on Bilderberg 2016 is well worth reading in full.  It’s a “tickle under the chin of the mainstream press” in the hope that the reporters will come. From Charlie Skelton’s Bilderblog I was glad I was able to lighten Bernabè’s day, but … Read more

President Obama jumps the Sinn Féin shark…

One of the benefits of being a US President in your final year in office, as well as getting to decide who can and can’t come to your party, is the freedom to say what you really think – even if President Obama continues to appear to be mis-briefed on shared, as opposed to integrated, education here…  ANYhoo… As the BBC report notes, US President Barack Obama was speaking in London to an audience of young people when he responded to … Read more

“The report’s Canadian authors made their numbers add up by using a ‘Tory island’ model of small government, low taxes, free markets and no debt…”

In the Irish News, Newton Emerson has fun with the recent Sinn Féin re-launch [and re-re-launch! – Ed] of the report they commissioned, under cover of the “Knights of the Red Branch Inc”,  of the benefits of an economically right-wing united Ireland. From the Irish News An academic study showing Northern Ireland would be better off in a united Ireland, commissioned last year by Friends of Sinn Féin in San Francisco, has been re-launched in Dublin and Belfast to immediate denunciations … Read more

Gerry Adams’ White House ‘controversy’: “Quite apart from being bumptious, paranoid and absurdly self-pitying…”

In the Irish News Newton Emerson highlights the unintended consequences of Sinn Féin president Gerry Adams’ intemperate outburst following his recent misunderstanding with security at the White House.  From the Irish News GERRY Adams could have been pragmatic and diplomatic about being locked out of President Obama’s St Patrick’s Day reception and simply laughed it off. It is all too believable that the White House has the same hapless jobsworths in its security hut as everywhere else – and that has … Read more

A wry view of the US presidential candidates….

It seems to have been going on for ever but the truth is, it hasn’t even started yet. I am of course, referring to the greatest political show on earth, the US presidential election. This year’s crop of hopefuls contains demonstrates once again the diversity of America’s millionaire class. In addition to middle-aged white guys, there is an African-American, a Jew, a Latino and a Canadian, who is also a Latino. Why there is even a woman. Let’s take a … Read more

US President Bill Clinton: “We’ve all taken our licks for Gerry”.

The BBC’s freedom of information specialist, Martin Rosenbaum, has been reading through transcripts of calls and meetings between US President Bill Clinton and UK Prime Minister Tony Blair, between 1997 and 2000, which were released following a BBC freedom of information request to the Clinton Presidential Library. As he notes, [The transcripts] contain substantial redactions, especially of Mr Blair’s remarks… From the BBC report Much of their discussion was about the Northern Ireland peace process, in which President Clinton played a significant part. … Read more

When is “an independent study” on Irish unification not independent?

When it has been commissioned, under cover, by Friends of Sinn Féin USA, perhaps… Sinn Féin were quick to welcome the recent announcement of the “first-ever economic modeling [of the] economic benefits Of Irish unification” at the Harvard Club in Manhattan.  Twice, in fact.  An Phoblacht were too. The press release from Sinn Féin MEP, Matt Carthy, “party spokesperson on the campaign for Irish Unity”, welcomed the “independent study which shows that Irish Unity would be economically beneficial for both jurisdictions … Read more