Jason OMahony - Irish political blogger, Irish politics, EU politics
 
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We should teach globalization.

WTOPreviously published in The Times Ireland Edition.

I used to work with a guy who regarded me as the spokesperson for the “Right-wing Thatcherite” FF/PD coalition. He was very left-wing himself, and despite living in a house provided by the taxpayer, having a medical card, children’s allowance and paying almost no income tax himself he would savage the government on a daily basis for being anti-working class. His solution to every thing was a 32 county socialist republic where people like me would pay far more tax.

Occasionally, he would declare that he would be happy himself to pay more tax to achieve “social justice”.

Then one day he turned up with a load of cartons of cigarettes which he’d bought off a fella on Moore Street which were not, shall we say, tax compliant. I challenged him on this.

Without a glimmer of shame he replied “Yeah, but the amount of tax on cigarettes is ridiculous!”

To his credit, he wasn’t being evasive about his tax evasion. When I pointed out that the billions raised on tobacco funded public services, he was only interested in how unfair the level of tax was. This from a guy who savaged me on every other day about uncaring cuts to health and welfare budgets.

He genuinely could not see the connection, and in fairness, who could blame him?

After all, who is making it their task to explain the link between taxes raised and public services provided, other than the odd ranting bearded columnist?

It’s not just Irish public spending. I had a discussion with a successful businessman who could not understand why government could not refuse to buy products or services from abroad. When told that other governments could do the same, he was genuinely perplexed that the two could be linked.

Watching debates about Brexit and Trumpist protectionism, it’s becoming clear that the very concept of critical thinking is coming under threat in modern western society. People want to be able to buy low cost items whilst complaining at the same time about free trade.

There are two sides to this. One is the social acceptance not necessarily of ignorance, but the belief that all opinions must have equal weight. Just listen to how much broadcast current affairs coverage is taken up with vox pops. You can hear heart-rendering stories about people struggling with homelessness, yet come away from the story not knowing how many housing offers by that same council were refused by people on waiting lists, and why. It’s almost regarded as impolite to challenge a non-politician on anything they say, although there is an exception made for HSE officials and anybody in any form of business.

Perhaps we need to teach globalisation in our schools as a subject in itself? After all, it is the single factor that will almost certainly shape the lives of the next generation of kids and probably their kids too. Globalisation as a subject would almost certainly be a lesson in critical thinking itself. I’m not talking about it as a defence of free market ideology either, because there are arguments to be made for protectionism as well. But as means of getting the next generation of voters to understand that the 21st century is a devilishly complicated and integrated place, and that pulling lever X will cause something to happen in Y.

From people who think that scrapping the government jet or TD salaries will solve all our problems to the man who rang up Joe Duffy suggesting that the government could reduce house prices by ordering everybody to knock a zero off their house value, we struggle to connect the dots. At few points in our secondary education, still the highest level most people will reach, will we be required to logically dismantle and explain big concepts like taxation vs spending, or international trade.

Instead, people are permitted to separate connected issues, and demand lower priced products, higher wages, and private sector innovation at the same time, as if they have no relationship to each other. People talk about how nobody elected the bond markets without grasping that you have to sell bonds to them and take their money in the first place for them to have any power over you.  

Of course, we know where it leads. Venezuela is currently led by the most economically illiterate policy-decided-down-the-pub government in the world, ordering supermarkets to sell below cost and then wondering why there is no toilet paper on the shelves the following week.

That country also shows us where such a failure of rational thought leads: suspicion and constant fingers being pointed at “them”. We see the same in Brexit England and Trump’s America: an almost Salem-like belief that dark forces are the cause of all problems, and their eradication the solution to everything from job-replacing technology to consumer forces to demographics. Trump and Wilders and Le Pen are the modern Witchfinders General of the age of emotional suspicion over reason.

There’s a scene in the movie “Whoops Apocalypse” where Peter Cook plays an insane but extremely popular prime minister who believes pixies cause unemployment, and proposes to create jobs by throwing employed people off a cliff.

We used to laugh at stuff like that. These days, not so much. If we’re not careful, yesterday’s satire could be tomorrow’s presidential tweet.       

 
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The Great Voter Transfer Window.

Marine-LePenPreviously published in The Times Ireland Edition.

The answer is staring us in the face. It’s so simple. On this side of the Atlantic we have a bunch of  Islamophobic globalist conspiracy-fearing The Past was Just Better Somehow voters. On the other side we have a bunch of Islamophobic globalist conspiracy-fearing voters.

Wouldn’t they all be happier together? Or put it another way. Imagine Hillary voters stepping off a boat onto a continent with no death penalty, universal healthcare, strict gun control and where even conservatives support the welfare safety net? Who think countries working together is actually normal and not a conspiracy of the Rothschild family?

See where I’m coming from here?

We need an Atlantic voter transfer window. We send them our crazies, we take their rationals.

There are challenges, of course, but also opportunities. Don’t tell me there isn’t a huge TV opportunity in watching Trump, Wilders and Le Pen voters getting to know each other.

“Wait a minute: you guys speak French?”

“Pardon? To whom do I give this doctor’s bill? What? I have to pay for it myself? Sacre bleu!”

But at least they could agree on one thing: they all hate Muslims.

“A toast to our American friends!”

“Eh, pardon Madame Le Pen, but we don’t drink wine here. Alcohol is evil! This here is a dry county!”

“Eh, OK…can we all agree that Muslims are terrible?”

“Yes!”

“Nearly as bad as the Jews!”

“Eh, steady on there.”

“And don’t get me started on them darn tootin’ homosexuals!”

“No, we’re against the Muslims because they’re against the homosexuals.”

“The Muslims are against the homosexuals?”

We did this once before, you know.

Put a load of fanatics on a boat and sent them to America.

It was called the Mayflower.

 
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Time for an American Brexit?

Posted by Jason O on Aug 26, 2017 in US Politics

president-trumpPreviously published in The Times Ireland Edition.

It’s a cold, crisp morning on the 20th of January, 2021. A huge crowd, a genuinely huge one this time, has gathered at the US Capitol for that perennial fixture of American politics, the swearing-in of the president. Sean Spicer, as one of the guest co-anchors for Fox News, good naturedly confirms that yes, the crowd might even be “a tad bigger” than four years ago.

The ceremony itself is delayed by a wave of boos and jeers as the president arrives, his lower lip jutting out in defiance, his eyes clearly betraying his lack of enthusiasm for the occasion. He has aged more than a man should in four years. Melania hasn’t.

The crowd settles eventually, and then Martin O’Malley, President-elect, Democrat and former governor of Maryland, steps forward to take the oath of office, his wife to his side. Near him Kamala Harris, former US Senator of California, the first black female vice president, smiles at the incoming first lady.    

Governor O’Malley takes the oath, and then turns to face the crowd as a euphoric, almost orgasmic cheer erupts. The long national nightmare is over. The nuclear codes are once again in safe hands. Everything is going to be OK. People joke that we’ll all look back and look at it not as much as the Trump administration, but the Donald Divergence, a weird moment in history when a great nation temporarily took leave of its senses. But it’s all OK now.

Except it’s not: despite years of truly awful poll ratings President Trump managed to actually increase his share of the vote. Not as much as the Democratic nominee, but he wasn’t humiliated. The electoral college restored the blue wall and Florida and Ohio put the O’Malley-Harris ticket over the top, but it was no landslide. A few hundred thousand votes the other way and it would have been another four years of shenanigans. Millions and millions of people voted once again for him, this time knowing exactly what he’d be like in the White House. None of your The Office Maketh the Man rubbish. They knew exactly what they were getting.

Am I being a bit fanciful for a Tuesday morning column? Perhaps. I love a bit of future speculation and the odd “What if”. But the fundamentals are sound. Maybe the majority of Americans are turning resolutely against President Trump, as opposed to the They’re As Bad as Each Other tone of the 2016 election campaign. Millions still support the man.

The fear is not that he won’t be beaten in 2020, assuming he stays in office that long. The real worry should be that even if he is ousted by the voters, the country will remain bitterly divided.

It’s not fair or accurate to say that every Trump voter is represented by the central casting rejects who marched under confederate and nazi flags in Charlottesville last week. But it is fair to say that nearly all of them are not really alarmed, but indeed even comfortable with a president who is not seemingly bothered by what they represent. I don’t think he’s a nazi. I think he may actually be worse than that, a man so vulnerable to flattery that if it comes from a white supremacist he’ll lap it up and give them what he calls a fair hearing.

The question is not getting him out in 2020. The question is what is left behind. A sizeable portion of the country, millions of people, who voted for Trump and post-Trump will be looking for a new political berth. Supposing he or she comes? A new paragon for the hard or even far right but without Trump’s weaknesses. Who does read his briefings, and retains facts, and knows when to keep his mouth shut and not alienate people for no actual gain. But still believes in that hard right agenda? Many call Trump a buffoon. What if the next one isn’t?

That’s the question many moderate Americans will be asking themselves. Supposing they do dodge a bullet and elect a moderate candidate in 2020. What happens next?

Will Trump voters even accept the result? Will he? Or will his ego refuse to be tamed, and let him tell maybe 60 million voters that their votes were stolen from them. What about all those combat cosplay militia clowns who turn up at these events, taking up tactical positions and jutting their jaws as if they have some sort of mission that “civilians” don’t understand. We may laugh at them, but we can’t laugh at their assault rifles.

For millions of his voters, a 2020 Trump defeat will not be a fair sportman’s go. It won’t be better luck next time. For many it’ll be like an invasion, the nation’s capital once again in the hands of alien values.

Can a country keep going on like this, every election a punch in the gut for half the country? With the exception of maybe Belgium, you’d be hard pressed to find a modern democracy where half the country is so deeply suspicious about the other half. Spain, with Catalonia, has it too, but both countries are in the EU, and so devolution and maybe even separation, as Czechoslovakia proved, isn’t too bad if there’s an agreed framework for after.

Is it time for an ironic US style Brexit out of the US and into a looser EU model?

Is it time for the US to look once again at the issue of states rights and to relieve the fear of another Trump imposing his will on states like California or New York or Massachusetts?  Is it time for issues like same sex marriage and religious freedom and gun control and campaign finance to be devolved to the states to be decided by the prevailing culture in each one?

Yes, there’s that term. States rights. We all know historically what it was code for. But maybe it’s time to confront that there might now be two Americas. Maybe it is time to accept that most of the former Confederacy is effectively, culturally, a different country. Maybe they should go.

Would the north fight to keep them? With their statues and Dixie flags and obsession with who is using what bathroom and the freedom to hate through baked confectionary? With heavily-armed plump middle-aged guys searching the aisles of Walmart for a transgender Muslim Prius-driving Ellen Degeneres watching IS cell? Fight them? I suspect the two coasts would hold the door open for them.  

Sure, you’d have migration on a huge scale as those with conflicting values fled. But that would just take a few years to sort out, along with a European Economic Area style trade area. They could even keep the same currency, and have a common customs union.

Sound familiar?

Would it be sad to see the United States break up, even peacefully? Of course. But if that was the price for the north to never have to fear another Trump, and for the confederacy to be free to return to the 1950s where so many of its white people seem to desire to go?

Hell, it may not be the price of peace. But it could sure as well be the price of peace of mind.

 
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For the world, and for itself, Europe must act its size.

Posted by Jason O on Jan 29, 2017 in Brexit Referendum, British Politics, European Union, US Politics

political-map-of-europe-lgIn the United States cemetery in Colleville-sur-Mer, Northern France, the bodies of over 9000 US servicemen rest. Over 9000 Americans who gave their lives on the beaches of Normandy and elsewhere to free Europe from the shackles of Nazism. It is not an exaggeration to say that without their sacrifice, Western Europe would not know the 71 years of freedom it has enjoyed since the war.

The United States is not our enemy, nor should it ever be. The common values and the common history of the Atlantic, of Europe and America, mean too much.

But the election of the current President of the United States puts unique challenges in the path of Europe. From the defence of our Eastern most nations, to the securing of our southern borders, to our relations with Islam, to the defence of free trade and the prosperity it generates, these challenges throw a gauntlet down before this generation of Europeans and our leaders.

We are not some feeble minor nation. We are 450 million of the richest people on Earth, with some of the most powerful industries on the planet. We own one of the greatest common markets in human history. We build ships and cars and planes and aircraft carriers and yes, even nuclear weapons. We grow the finest foods on the planet, in vast quantities. We have the most beautiful cities in the world.

We are, in terms of spending, the second great military power on the planet if but we choose to recognize it.

And we are the greatest home on the planet to freedom, to tolerance, to diversity. We do not recognize torture. We do not execute our people. We do not boast of how many of our people we jail. We believe healthcare is a human right, not a privilege.

We are not perfect. Among us are extremists, both religious and political, including those who seek to deny the hateful crimes of the past against the Jewish people and others. But there is a majority across our continent which stands fast against those demons of both our past and our present, ready to fight, at the polling booth, on the streets.

Those demons, they shall not pass.

There are those who say there is no such thing as a European demos. That you can not build a united Europe because Europeans do not share a common history or common values.

The current incumbents of the Kremlin and the White House have disproved that. Europeans of the right and left have looked on in recent times and agreed that there is an alternative to a nationalism built on suspicion and fear. That love of one’s homeland does not automatically indicate fear of another.

Look at the response of Europeans to the attacks in Paris and Brussels and Madrid and Berlin. We did not treat those attacks as outrages in strange distant lands. They were attacks on us all, on our ways.

That is what unites Europeans. That I can walk the beautiful streets of Barcelona or Paris or Milano and know that an attack on them is an attack on my values too.

This is not a call for an identikit single nation called Europe. We are sovereign proud nations, proud of our flags and our history.

History has thought us that the defence of that sovereignty will come from the sharing of tasks and resources to magnify the power of all.

It’s time for us to recognize that the great nation to our east only respects strength, and that the great nation to our west is in a time of great insular strain. Given those realities, Europe must act decisively to secure its own interest and speak with strength in defence of our values.

We must build a European Defence Force, made up of volunteers, with the clear objective of pooling enough existing resources to get the increased capability we need to secure our borders east and south.

We must establish, in Northern Africa or elsewhere, an EU run refugee safezone to provide shelter for anyone fleeing oppression, and allowing us to restore full control of our continental borders. No more can we let our despotic neighbours use refugees as a boot with which to press on our throat.

We, as one of the three great economic powers, should enter immediate negotiations to create an Atlantic free trade area. Unlike others, we can negotiate with the United States as an economic equal, because we are. We should do so, but only as an equal.

These great projects are as much an act of self interest of the nations of free Europe as a pursuit of noble ideals. But both roads lead to the same destination. A strong Europe as the tool of its sovereign nations, putting our values at the table of nations.

In the words of that great European, Winston Churchill: Let Europe arise. 

 
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News from the Future: President Trump demands US taxpayers compensate him for terrorist attacks on his properties.

Posted by Jason O on Nov 24, 2016 in News from The Future!, Not quite serious., US Politics

president-trump
Washington DC, January 2019.

Sources in the White House have confirmed that President Trump will soon meet the congressional leadership to discuss the ongoing impact on his personal wealth following the terrorist attacks on four of his hotels across the world.

Following attacks on the Trump Hotels in Brazil, Panama and Hawaii, with a combined death toll of 643 people, and the foiled bomb attack in Vancouver, the organisation has seen a sharp drop in bookings and revenue as the businesses have become seen as proxy targets against the president and his policies.

In addition, the business has struggled to secure insurance in recent months, and is engaged in an expensive legal battle with its current insurers to maintain policies. The current insurer has been required to make nearly $250 million in payments so far as a result of the attacks. Another $1 billion is expected to be paid out.

News Future logoA spokesperson for the Trump family has suggested that as the attacks on the United States and the Trump family are “de facto the same thing”, the US taxpayer should compensate the family for its financial losses as a result of their willingness to serve as first family.

In addition, the president has ordered the Pentagon to draw up plans to deploy US troops to protect the various assets. He has also insisted that the State department demand those forces be permitted to be deployed in those countries to protect the properties. Both the British and Irish governments have already agreed.

A number of terrorist groups have declared Trump businesses to be legitimate targets across the world, given the president’s close involvement.

A source in the CIA has stated that “they see these attacks as a means of reducing the president’s wealth, which, as we all know, is a subject he is very sensitive about. They know it’s a way of getting under his skin. The fact that he rants about it on Twitter after every attack doesn’t help.”

 
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Reckless voters must be confronted.

ErdoganPreviously published in The Times Ireland Edition on 18th July 2016.

Writing on social media last week about the Nice attack, the conservative commentator John McGuirk remarked that “at some point soon, people are going to say “you know, we tried the nice way. We tried tolerance. We tried being understanding. Maybe it’s time to give the crazy guy a shot at it.”

It’s hard to dispute the logic of his argument, given the rollercoaster of the last 12 months. From Trump to Brexit, we are witnessing what some are calling “post-truth” politics but what I prefer to term The Right To One’s Own Facts. The most disturbing aspect of the Brexit debate for me was the willingness of voters particularly but not exclusively on the leave side to casually dismiss facts which did not fit with their worldview.  

But what should really alarm us is that there now seems to be substantial numbers of voters who choose to vote recklessly on the basis that “sure, it can’t get any worse, can it?” There are literally millions of people voting for Trumps, Farages and Erdogans. It can always get worse.

In 1979 the trades unions brought down Jim Callaghan’s Labour government because they thought he was too right-wing. Think they were still applauding themselves for that act after ten years of Mrs Thatcher? Reckless voters keep thinking that they can’t break the system, even when they pretend they want to.   

But they do want to break it, some say. Why shouldn’t they? They’re disengaged. Except they’re not. They are completely engaged by other taxpayers through the state. It often provides their dole, their healthcare, their housing, their kids’ education, all funded by the taxes of voters whom they themselves seem to hold in contempt for being “an elite”.

The welfare state isn’t some form of natural fiscal phenomenon. It’s a decision by voters collectively to provide what is, in many instances, a form of nationalised charity. Sure, get insulted all you want at that definition, and talk about entitlements and rights, but bear in mind that whilst all of us, in every class, cannot avoid paying some tax, even if it is just VAT, some pay far more into the pot than they draw out, and others vice versa. You know where the poor are disengaged properly? Venezuela. When you can’t even find toilet paper on the supermarket shelves. Disengagement? That’s abandonment by the state,      and it isn’t happening here.

The other awkward reality about reckless voters is their contribution to the rise of the hard anti-immigrant right in Denmark, Norway, Sweden and Finland. What do these countries all have in common? How about, in one study after another, they collectively have the highest standards of living as nations in the world, which actually means in human history. So what’s their gripe? How disengaged are they? Is their broadband speed letting them down? Not getting enough time to play Pokemon?   

What unifies Trump voters, Brexit voters, far right and far left voters? For some it is simple racism. We seem to believe that racism is no longer possible, but is merely a symptom of some other underlying cause. But guess what? Some people just don’t like people who are a different colour or creed. It doesn’t matter why, we just have to ignore them because their opinions are irrational and listening to them about the direction of society is like listening to Jimmy Saville about child protection protocols.

But I would suggest that the racists are a minority, and the real motivating factor for many of these voters is the speed of change, and that’s a big problem. Yes, immigration transforms societies, but so does technology. The speed of transport has sped up immigration, but it has also sped up shipping times from the cheaper labour less employment rights factories of China and thus made off-shoring jobs much more viable. How do you stop that?

The Trumps and the Le Pens can stop immigration, and erect walls, both physically and tariff. But they can only alter the speed of change by actually withdrawing their respective countries from the globalized economy, which has all sorts of consequences from labour shortages to the price of food in the shops.

For me, the greatest reason why we should ignore reckless voters is their belief that complexity can be removed. That “take back control” or “just send them all home” is an actual solution. This is using a match to see if there is any petrol left in the drum stuff, and it must be opposed.

Of course, all that assumes that a majority of voters will vote in a non-reckless way, and that, in the age of Trump, is a hell of an assumption to make. Just look at the Erdogan of Turkey.

In 1932, in Germany, 52% of voters voted for either the Nazi party or the Communist party. Many of those same voters would have to wait for 17 years for another free election, and only after their country lay literally in ruins and under occupation.

It is very possible for voters in a democracy to vote to abolish themselves. Reckless voters have a right to be heard. But they don’t have a right to grab control of the wheel of the bus and take us all down with them. Nor are we obliged to let them. 

 
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The jailing of Hillary Clinton

Posted by Jason O on Nov 13, 2016 in Fiction, Not quite serious., Politics, US Politics

hillaryThe FBI agents didn’t arrive until the media, tipped off by Rudy Giuliani’s Department of Justice, were in place. Secretary Clinton opened the door herself, and invited the flak jacketed agents into her hallway. She looked refreshed and prepared, in a purple pantsuit.

The first mistake happened there. The new FBI director had handpicked agents with a clear disposition against her, and when one agent grabbed her wrist roughly and spun her to cuff her, one of President Clinton’s Secret Service detail stepped forward and pulled the FBI’s hand off her.

“She is cooperating. Show her some respect.” The Secret Service man said, squaring up to him.

The FBI agent went for his gun, but the Secret Service, trained for the sudden appearance of  weapons had their guns our faster.

All on live TV, after the FBI in their zealotry hadn’t closed the door behind them and dozens of zoom lenses and microphones recorded the incident.

Giuliani, who had been watching in his office with his staff of young men, shouted down the frat boy whooping that had accompanied the initial entry into the Clinton home in upstate New York.

He, an old master of the live TV perp walk from his days as a US Attorney, had given instructions for her to be brought out in cuffs. But this was getting out of hand.

On TV, President Clinton stepped through his secret service detail and stood in front of the FBI.

“There’s no need for this. Hillary is cooperating.”

Secretary Clinton put her hand on the Secret Service man’s shoulder.

“Stand down, Tom. Let’s let these guys do their jobs.”

The agent in charge, suddenly realising that the door was open and that they were probably live on TV, had the sense to calm the situation.

“Thank you, madam secretary,” he said, and put the cuffs on her wrists, clicking them loosely.

“Are those really necessary?” President Clinton said.

“Orders, sir.”

“Whose orders?”

“I can’t…”

“Who ordered you to put handcuffs on a 69 year old women with no history of violence?”

“Vince Foster would disagree…” one of the agents quipped, before realising.

President Clinton, spun on his heel and looked at the agent.

“That’s the way it is, it is?”

In his office, Giuliani, listening to the entire conversation broadcast live on TV, was screaming at the screen.

“Close the fucking door! Close the fucking door!”

Secretary Clinton tapped her husband on the arm.

“Don’t worry about it, Bill. Rudy Giuliani obviously thinks I’m very dangerous. Will you bring my reading glasses, honey.”

As she was led out of the house, America had stopped what it was doing to watch the spectacle. A growing crowd was gathering outside the house, and started chanting “Hill-a-ry! Hill-a-ry!” as she was put into one of the 10 FBI jeeps outside the house. She smiled, and held up her her hands in the air, the cuffs very clear to be seen.

It was an image that would become iconic.

Media helicopters and drones buzzed over the scene, following the FBI convoy as they took her to Manhattan to be charged. By the time she arrived at FBI headquarters, thousands of people were present. Some were shouting “Jail her!” but most were supporting her.

When she was led in, accompanied by her husband, there was a wall of noise as the crowd now covered the entire street. The NYPD were desperately trying to redirect traffic.

After an hour, President Clinton exited the building with with some aides and his Secret Service detail. Half way down the steps, surrounded by the media, someone (on advice from James Carville who was in apoplexy watching from Louisiana) handed the former president a loudhailer and a hand mike. He slung the loudhailer over his shoulder, looking like a superannuated student activist.

“My wife Hillary,” he said in that familiar southern drawl, “is a political prisoner.”

“This is the sort of thing you see in Zimbabwe or North Korea. A new president turning the power of the state on his political opponents. You did not see Reagan jail Mondale, or Bush jail Dukakis, or George W jail Al Gore. This, this is disgusting!”

In the DOJ, Giuliani was fielding a call from the President, who did not like what he was seeing. Then something caught his eye on the screen.

The crowd, now maybe 100,000 strong, seemed to ripple as someone moved across the steps of the building. Then the cheering started as people recognised former President Obama and Michelle Obama pushing through. Clinton saw them, and opened his arms to give both a huge embrace. The crowd started cheering, a chant “Let her out!” started, during into a deafening roar.

Giuliani was smart enough to see this was getting out of hand.

“Yes sir….no, I don’t think we should send in the national guard…we’ve a helicopter…yes sir.”

President Obama took the microphone live on camera.

“Michelle and I were downtown when we heard the news…I could not believe what I heard…is this the America we’re living in, where one party has its opponents picked up off the streets? Hell no!”

The crowds chanted back a “Hell no!” at him.

“What happens next? Is Rudy Giuliani going to have her spirited away to some prison in the middle of nowhere, some gulag?”

Giuliani looked at his advisers. That was exactly the plan.

A helicopter took off from the roof of the FBI building, as someone whispered in Clinton’s ear. Clinton gestured to Obama, who handed over the microphone.

“I’ve just been told that Hillary is on that helicopter, and that they’re taking her somewhere. I don’t know where. But my friends, I’ll tell you this. This is a political arrest, and will only be resolved in one place: Washington DC.”

*****

They could hear the chants in the Oval Office. “Let her go!” from just shy of two million people was very loud.

The president was not happy. Despite many questioning his intellect during the campaign, he’d proven himself to have a shrewd political gut, and this sat uneasily. The polls were showing that whilst a solid 40% of the country supported prosecuting her, 50% saw it as purely an act of political revenge.

In the week since her incarceration in a federal prison awaiting trial, in North Dakota, the Democrats had been galvanized. Millions were marching on the streets, and her name was now being compared to Nelson Mandela and Alfred Dreyfus. Foreign leaders hadn’t been helpful, although Putin and the Chinese endorsed his action in the “fight against corruption”. President Le Pen supported him too. That prick Trudeau had led a march to the US embassy in Ottawa to hand in a letter of protest. It wasn’t helped either by the fact that his coarsest supporters were having a field day on the web making remarks about her being sexually assaulted in jail. The First Lady had walked out of a meeting where such remarks had been made.

The visit to the prison by Michelle Obama, Laura Bush, Rosalynn Carter and Barbara Bush had looked awful for the administration on TV.

His advisers had all advised that this was to be expected,     and it didn’t matter.

“All this proves is that the people who hate you still hate you,” Chris Christie said.

Giuliani nodded.

“Let’s get through the trial, put her away, and let her rot!”

The meeting broke up with out a decision, the room clearing save for Ivanka Trump. The others knew not to question her remaining.

“This is a huge problem honey!” The president said, slumping in his seat. He was not enjoying being president. He still spent a lot of time in his home in New York, and was beginning to hate having to return to the White House. The constant protest outside Trump Tower annoyed him too. It also grated with him to be booed in his home city, where once people had cheered him on the streets. He’d tried to have them moved on, but both the mayor and governor had refused to deploy heavy forces.

His mood hadn’t been helped by the fact that every business with a Trump in the title was now being permanently picketed by the Let Her Go crowd. Ivanka and the boys had openly talked about rebranding and separating his presidency from his brand in an attempt to save revenues.

“They’re wrong,” she said.

“If Hillary stays in prison she will become the focal point of your presidency. The next election will be a referendum on freeing her. Is that what we want?”

“What’s the alternative?”

“Pardon her. Say that a trial will be divisive and that you want to  bring the country together.”

“My supporters will go nuts!”

“You said you’d put her in jail. She’s in jail. Now the country has to move on. I’ve put some words together.”

She handed him a buff folder, which he opened and leaned back in his seat. He smiled.

“Is this legal?”

“I have half a dozen lawyers who say it isn’t illegal.”

*****

Newsflash: The White House has announced that the president will issue a pardon of Secretary Hillary Clinton for all crimes and misdemeanors committed by her. Unusually, for the pardon to take affect, Secretary Clinton is required to sign that she is accepting the pardon.

Some legal scholars suggest that in doing so she would be admitting to having committed the crimes in the first place.

A spokesperson for the president said that the pardon is on its way to North Dakota by fighter jet, and that Mrs Clinton can be home with her family by tonight if she wishes.

The attorney general, Rudy Giuliani, has resigned. He will be replaced by his deputy, Gov. Chris Christie.

The president shall address the nation tonight.

 
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Is Hillary Clinton the new Hubert Humphrey?

Posted by Jason O on Nov 11, 2016 in US Politics

I wrote this is June 2014:

See this guy to the right here? Many of today’s political anoraks won’t have a clue who he is. But for a period from the late 1950s to the early 1970s, every “Men who will one day be President” list (and it was all men) included the name Hubert Horatio Humphrey.

Starting as a barnstorming anti-segregationist Minnesota mayor in 1948 (when the Democratic Party still had KKK members) through the US Senate through Vice President under LBJ and a tantalisingly close election defeat to Nixon in 1968, Humphrey was the flag bearer of the party’s liberal wing and one of the biggest beasts in the party. Yet he never became president.

I can’t help wondering is Hillary Clinton falling into that mould, as the candidate that everybody knows who seems to have been around forever and is certain to be “the next President” and yet…

Is it possible that the window has already closed, and we just don’t know it, that she is still a woman with deep reservoirs of support yet doesn’t have that widespread appeal to put her over the top?

Whenever I look at Hillary and particularly her supporters, I can’t help thinking that they seem to be people who regard their liberalism as being of the “my butler has an excellent health insurance package” variety. Not bad people, just people living in a different world, who support Obamacare and go to LGBT fundraisers (and know what LGBT means) and then have their driver bring their car around. People who don’t know anybody who doesn’t know an openly gay person. People who regard upstate New York as the epitome of rural.

This is a candidate, don’t forget, who has been pretty much chauffeur-driven for a quarter of a century. When, would you say, was the last time Hillary Clinton was in a Walmart? Now, maybe that doesn’t matter. After all, FDR, the great liberal reformer, was an aristocrat. Ted Kennedy, who passed more legislation to protect working people than any other legislator, came from one of the wealthiest families in America. But people need a certain degree of authenticity. Does this person know what my life is like? That’s a question about HRC that is a hard one to answer.

Humphrey was loved by the big unions, and that was when the unions were the voice of the ordinary American worker,  not just the public sector. Can HRC convince that she is the candidate of working people, and not just a collection of liberal elites?

 
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Pressure Point: A Romney/Obama Adventure.

Posted by Jason O on Oct 25, 2016 in Fiction, Not quite serious., US Politics

Repost from 2012: The following post is an idea for a short story I had about Governor Romney and President Obama being locked in a room together. It’s a very long post. You have been warned!

The governor waved once more to the crowd in the Lynn University auditorium, and walked off the stage, Ann’s hand held firmly in his. In the wings, his campaign manager beamed his reaction to the governor’s performance in the final presidential debate with an enthusiastic two thumbs up.

“Governor, that was marvellous!” he said, with a wide grin. The governor raised an eyebrow. It had been the theme inside the campaign, his alleged 1950s style stiffness becoming a source of light ribbing from his campaign team. He actually found it  quite funny, especially as his sons were very much the ringleaders.

The debate had been the hardest of the three, with the president holding his own and the governor having to tread very carefully, especially on Iran. His pollsters had been very clear: Defend Israel Yes, lead America into another Republican war, a big fat No. He felt he had kept the balance.

His sons were giving him firm handshakes and slapping his back when he noticed the head of his Secret Service detail speaking to another man he didn’t recognise. The agent walked over.

“Governor, the president has asked that you join him. A traditional matter, I’m told.”

The governor stiffened. It was not commonly known, and he had certainly not known until he had been informed on winning his party’s nomination, that a communications line between the sitting president and his likely opponent was agreed early in the campaign. If the candidate was informed of the phrase “a traditional matter” it meant that there was a national security issue he needed to be briefed on, off the record and not for campaign exploitation. It was a matter of pride to all in the know that the system had never been abused since it was set up by President Ford in the 1970s. Read more…

 
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A tale of two Americas, 2032.

Posted by Jason O on Oct 22, 2016 in Not quite serious., US Politics

Michelle Obama Visits DC High School To Discuss Importance Of EducationFrom our correspondent in Montreal, Canada.

President Michelle Obama of the United States of America and Prime Minister Justin Trudeau of Canada have expressed disappointment at President Ted Cruz of the Constitutional States of America’s decision to quit talks between the CSA and the North American Union. The summit in Montreal had hoped to finally resolve the cross-border trade, taxation and customs disputes following the amicable breakup of the United States in 2026, with the North East, Great Lakes and West Coast states remaining in the USA as the remainder left to form the CSA.

Since the formation of the CSA, two very distinct cultures have developed, with the USA returning to the moderate religious and economic values of the 1950s coupled with social tolerance for religious and lifestyle differences, whilst the CSA has seen the rampant dismantling of former federal laws and agencies in its territories and the effective adoption of Judeo-Christianity as a de facto state religion in a loose confederation of mutually cooperating states with a weak central government.

Under the terms of the Paul Act of 2022, US citizens had been given 36 months to decide which state they wished to become a citizen of, which led to mass migration as minority groups moved to the USA, and social and religious conservatives moved to the CSA.

Although taxes were markedly higher in the USA to fund its universal healthcare programme and infrastructure programme, the CSA found itself in serious fiscal difficulties as CSA senior citizens demanded that social security and medicare entitlements be carried over from the USA, farmers and agribusiness demanded subsidies be continued, and states insisted on funds no longer flowing from Washington for local projects be replaced.

The attempt by President Paul to create the CSA as a tax haven for the world’s rich ran into huge difficulties when the USA and European Union agreed a common tax treaty which taxed profits and earnings shipped out of their joint jurisdiction. That, coupled with his plan to build a vast manned wall between the CSA and the United Mexican States, resulting in a National Security Tax, led to his impeachment.

Paul’s successor, former Texas US Senator Ted Cruz, had hoped to conclude a joint defence pact with the US to allow for savings in defence spending, but President Obama had vetoed the deal “as long as gay and non-Christians cannot serve their country in the CSA defence forces.” The president had been reacting to comments from the US Joint Chiefs of Staff about US soldiers being uncomfortable about serving alongside “segregated” forces.

The Bishop of Houston has announced that he shall be endorsing former Alaska governor Sarah Palin as his choice for nominee of the American Party to succeed President Cruz.  The endorsement is seen as vital for Palin’s hopes in the primaries.

Governor Palin welcomed the news whilst attending the first school in Texas to implement the “Kidz Rights!” law requiring all children over the age of seven to be armed in case of a terrorist attack on their school.

In the Congress of the CSA, meeting in Tallahassee, a bill requiring non-Judeo-Christians to register with local law enforcement agencies has passed the Senate, and will now go to the House of Representatives. A bill barring non-Judeo-Christians from holding public office passed the Congress and is now before President Cruz. A spokesperson has said that the bill will be given serious consideration. The board of Mercedes Benz has said that if either bill becomes law in the CSA, the company will have to reconsider its investments in Alabama. President Cruz recently vetoed a bill to strip women of the right to vote, the so-called “Clinton-Obama law”, which had passed the CSA Congress. His veto is expected to be challenged.

Other news: the English Prime Minister, Mr Farage, admitted that the his party could not assemble a majority in the House of Commons to agree a common market with the CSA because of the CSA refusal to grant travel visas to English citizens of the Muslim faith. He looked forward, however, to negotiating only a modest fee increase with European Union President Sturgeon for English access to the European Economic Area.

The former presidential candidate Donald J. Trump continues to fight the court order stripping him of US citizenship, and has argued that being forced to live in one of the states that voted for him in 2016 as “cruel and unusual”.

Politicians across North America have been united in wishing former New York Mayor Rudy Giuliani well with his condition.

Copyright © 2017 Jason O Mahony All rights reserved. Email: Jason@JasonOMahony.ie.