The Direction of World Politics (plus Tweets)

It’s been a while, so I thought I should at least attempt a Tweets Post.

There are a couple of things to catch you up on in my personal life. Firstly, things are much better now I have a decent chair. However, the damage done while I was waiting for that to happen hasn’t gone away yet. I’m telling myself determinedly that it’s not permanent, hoping that I’m right. Everything has become more difficult on a daily basis and that’s why you’re not hearing as much from me.

Secondly, my landlord came to see me a couple of days ago. “I’ve got some good news and some bad news,” he said. The good news was that they’ve decided to take my place off the market! So I’m very happy about that. The bad news was they’re putting the rent up by just over 10%.

He reminded me that at some point they’re going to want to live here themselves. I always knew that was the case. They want to move into my place when they retire. They’re both in their 70s, but I still expect I have a few more years. Also, the current government is planning to put legislation through before the end of their term that means they’ll have to give me a lot more notice than is current law (just six weeks). I think the proposal in the new law is three months.

I’ve named “my” cat



Thirdly, there’s “my” cat. I’ve found out a few things since I last wrote. It turns out he’s a male, not a female, and his name is Stanley. I don’t like the name Stanley, so I call him Reilley. My mother made the suggestion because she thinks he has the ‘Life of Reilley‘ at my place. Jerry Coyne insists on calling him “Riley” after the TV show ‘Life of Riley’ from his childhood. However, Reilley doesn’t seem to notice the difference when he hears Jerry’s voice coming from Skype, so I let him get away with that.

Reilley now spends most of his time at my place. He even sleeps on my bed every night. In fact, it’s months since he spent a night at his real home. At the moment he’s curled up asleep on a blanket in the sofa, though every now and then I notice him opening his eyes to check I’m still in the same spot. Reilley makes a big difference to me. I’m much happier having him in my life. The worst thing when I thought I may have to move out was the idea of never seeing him again.


The Direction of World Politics

And so we come to politics. There’s a lot of stuff that’s really important happening, and much of it needs the handling of politicians of ability and a strong ethical compass. Instead we have Donald Trump, Vladimir Putin, and Xi Jinping. Putin and Xi do have ability of course, but both lack what any decent person surely understands by the phrase, “strong ethical compass”. Both, for example, see murder and a valid political tool.

The other two leaders in the world’s five most influential, Angela Merkel and Teresa May, are both in trouble at home. The reason is factions with conservative and protectionist instincts. Instead of learning from the example of Donald Trump, many seem to think he’s someone worth emulating. WTF is wrong with people these days?

In fact, because of the disaster of Brexit, and the rise of the far right in Germany, we could see the collapse of the European Union (EU). Along with NATO, the EU has brought a new era of peace, cooperation, and prosperity to the region. While Steve Bannon and his ilk spread a new wave of anti-Semitism in both the US and Europe, it’s actually the far-right, with support of religious conservatives, who are the destabilizing influences.

The malignant influence of Steve Bannon and Vladimir Putin

The more that comes out about the campaign promoting Brexit, the more we find just how big Steve Bannon’s role was in getting people to vote for it. And just like in the US, it’s Putin who’s behind it all. Putin is also discovering that conservative religion is a great way to control his people – just like communism was in the good old days. It’s not just the fake news in the US that he’s behind. Putin is also supporting far-right and protectionist candidates throughout Europe with similar fake news campaigns. And he’s succeeding. You want to know what’s behind Merkel’s eye-roll whenever she comes across Putin? It’s because she knows he’s behind the far-right and religious conservatives in her party and coalition that are destabilizing her chancellorship.

Assassination illustrated in the Italian newspaper Domenica del Corriere, 12 July 1914 by Achille Beltrame

Assassination illustrated in the Italian newspaper Domenica del Corriere, 12 July 1914 by Achille Beltrame (Source: Wikipedia. Click pic to go to source.)

I really worry about the trends in world politics, not least because they mirror those that lead to the Great War, aka World War One. The second decade of last century saw a rise in nationalism throughout Europe, with both far-right and far-left groups resorting to extreme violence to try and get their way.

One of the most infamous was a Serbian right-wing group called the Black Hand. It was behind the assassination of the moderate Archduke Franz Ferdinand of Austria and his wife Sophie while they were visiting the Bosnian capital of Sarajevo. That, of course, was the incident that lit the fuse of the bomb that was The War To End All Wars. If only.


Political Tweets

This parody account has come up with a brilliant explanation for why no one on the right will be chanting, “lock her up” about Ivanka.


Worse even than the president that ” … saw the US descend into the Civil War”.


Something has to be done about US Acting Attorney General Whitaker sooner rather than later.


Thankfully, there are people on the job.


Khashoggi Murder Tweets

Last week the US CIA made the declaration that the murder of journalist Jamal Khashoggi was at the behest of the Crown Prince of Saudi Arabia. Trump is questioning his own intelligence professionals (because nobody loves them more than he does – remember that?).
(Via Ann German.)


And it gets worse …
(Via Ann German.)


While Donald Trump isn’t even ready to accept that Prince Mohammad Bin Salman Al Saud is responsible for the brutal murder of Khashoggi, Angela Merkel is doing the right thing on behalf of Germany.


I wish we got MSNBC in New Zealand!


Norm Eisen is a former White House Ethics Czar – when he makes a statement like this, he knows what he’s talking about.
(Via Ann German.)



Gun Safety Tweets

Just sayin’.


Science Tweets

The anti-vax crowd are a group that annoy me more than most. In the real world, you’d have to put up with a rant from me if you told me about this!

As Ann German said when she sent me this tweet, “Maybe they’ll fall off the edge of the earth.”


Feel Good Tweets

Isn’t this lovely?


Fun Tweets

Thank goodness for Canada …
(Via Ann German.)


Oh dear …
(Via Ann German.)


Cool Stuff Tweets

As it says, interesting.


Marine Tweets

Don’t mess with me!


Bird Tweets

This is a pet relationship I’ve never come across before …


Isn’t it gorgeous!


Other Animals Tweets

I never knew Tasmanian Devils could be so cute!
(Via Ann German.)


Awww …

Dog Tweets

Smart dog!


Cat Tweets

One slip, and it would be all over. This cat is pretty special!


Look at that lovely face!


Not sure why a dog account is tweeting this, but I like it all the same.


Oh, to be gazed at by those eyes!



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28 Responses to “The Direction of World Politics (plus Tweets)”

  1. Randall Schenck says:

    I am pretty certain that Reilley knows where his real home is and so does everyone else. Our two cats, Bumper and Emma have told me this. Sorry to hear about the rental business but hope you get to stay for several more years. I remember many years in the rental situation and it is not always good memories.

    I wish you could get MSNBC there in New Zealand as well. I find it is my justification for TV and the high cost of it here. From 8 to 10 most week nights it is required listening. For those with little interest in politics it probably means nothing but I and certainly you do not fit this group. Would also recommend Rachael’s new podcast “Bag Man” however you get yours. It is free on line at MSNBC. If you want to know the story behind the Spiro Agnew affair and how closely this follows today’s mess it is really worth listening.

    I am a bit surprised at how little coverage/excitement there is concerning the midterm elections. Even on other sites it seems they either missed it or just don’t care. Maybe a couple of losses in Florida and Georgia throws them off but that is not the point here. The democrats picked up nearly 40 seats in the house and now have some control. More important are the numbers no one even mentions. It is like, the day after the vote most everyone went back to their little lives. It is no wonder you see such follow the herd, meaningless responses on line. As the votes continue to be counted the difference is this – nearly 9 million more votes for democrats over republicans. That is why the democrats killed it on election day even with all that gerrymandering crap we cry about.

    Also, it should lead to even better results in 2020 and Trump knows this. Even if he survives until then, and I doubt he will, his time is up. I may have been nearly alone with this opinion on other sites but that is just boring conversation.

    • CNN have been pretty good at covering the mid-terms and their importance. To be fair to them, there have been some pretty big things come up over the last couple of weeks than make it hard to stay focused. I don’t know whether you saw any of Chris Wallace’s (Fox News) interview of Trump, but he did a really good job. He pressed Trump on how well the Dems did taking seats they really shouldn’t have, and how much better it’s likely to be next time because the map will be so much better for them. There’s a tweet I retweeted the other day that shows just Orange County, California. It went from mostly red to all blue, which once upon a time would be unheard of. The difference there is educated voters – they’re leaving Trump in droves. It’s basically just those of his followers who didn’t stay at school long enough to learn how to exercise critical thinking skills that are sticking with him – the ones who say they don’t like how he acts but like his policies. They haven’t worked out things like his policies are just the same as any other Republican president would be without the rude, crude, ignorant, unethical, (probably) illegal, and unconstitutional behaviour.

  2. Lee Knuth says:

    Sorry to hear you still are not feeling better and about your living situation. Glad you have that cat to keep you company. That tweet about Romaine lettuce and guns is spot on. We seem to have a mass shooting every day and nothing is done to control guns. We are living in a war zone and the government ignores what is happening,

    • I’ve met a few young NZers (male and female, and some from some pretty rough backgrounds) who love the idea of living in the US. But when they find out about how prevalent guns and gun deaths are, they just don’t want to go anymore. They find it too scary. It also amazes them that the government doesn’t do anything about it.

      Anyone under about 30 here has lived in an era where governments keep their promises, and if they don’t they’re voted out. There are very few safe electorates in the whole country. We don’t have gerrymandering or voter suppression, and a voter turnout of 70% is considered low. More conservative political parties hope for heavy rain on election day, but as election day (which is always a Saturday here) is usually in mid-November (late Spring) that’s rare. And the incumbent government hopes the All Blacks don’t lose just before an election, because that suppresses votes for them, but that’s rare too.

  3. nicky says:

    I share your misgivings -or let us be honest, fears- about the direction of world politics.
    The role of Mr Bannon, Mr Banks and their accomplices in Brexit should be more widely known, and especially the role of Mr Putin.
    There is little doubt (IMMO) that Russian operatives were also instrumental in, not so much Mr Trump’s win, as in Ms Clinton’s loss. It can of course never been proven beyond reasonable doubt that they swayed the election, but I think that several criminals were convicted, or even executed, on evidence weaker than than the one of Russian trolls targeting -and swaying- ‘undecided’ voters in the 2016 US presidential election.
    Mr Putin appears more and more like a kind of universal puppet master, having his finger in any pie. An evil genius. That raises the question: how much was he involved in, say, the rise of Mr Duterte, (probably -just a guess- very little) or the even scarier Mr Bolsonaro (more likely)? Am I going down the ‘deplorable’ path (with their seeing Mr Soros behind anything they don’t like)? Am I seeing spooks?

    • I think there’s no doubt Putin was in big part responsible for the Clinton loss too. It was largely an influence campaign, and people are not going to admit to being influenced in that way even if they realize it. I think the biggest thing Putin managed was to stop Clinton voters going to the polls in the three key states of Michigan, Pennsylvania and Wisconsin. Following on from Randall’s comment, I think they are likely to go back to the Dems in 2020, especially if Trump is still the GOP candidate.

      I don’t know enough about Brazil to comment about whether Putin was involved there. I certainly wouldn’t say it’s unlikely though. Brazil is an important world economy, and even if there was only one South American election he trolled, it would be that one.

      I’ve no doubt he’s behind right-wing successes in Austria, Hungry, Italy, and Poland. We know for sure he tried it in France and got caught. He’s having success in Germany, as I said above.

      There are even times I wonder if he’s got a small interest in NZ with some things I see. I don’t know whether I’m imagining it or not, but there are plenty of reasons he might want influence here despite our small size. Some of those reasons are that we punch way, way above our weight diplomatically, we’re one of the Five Eyes partners, and we’re one of the few countries to have good relationships with both the US and China, and also Israel and Palestine.

      So, no, I don’t think you’re seeing spooks. I suspect if we knew everything Putin was behind, we’d be shocked.

      • Randall Schenck says:

        Yes, and don’t forget how he has been all over the Ukraine with complete involvement. Facebook and the other large internet platforms will need more regulation as they will never fix things on their own. I guess Europe is learning this much faster than over here. We won’t get much done until we get rid of Trump. It is becoming more and more obvious that Putin and Saudi Arabia have Trump bought completely. Hopefully the Mueller results will show this with enough evidence to just impeach and be done with him. We are getting very close to a crisis with this lackey, attorney general who has no business being there. Some major actions by Mueller should be happening in the next two weeks I think. Also, Trump is likely to do something really stupid before the democrats take power in early January. Tomorrow is the holiday so not much gets done for at least 5 days or more.

        I should have considered moving to NZ but it’s such a long flight and there is always the language problem…

        • Ha ha! Actually, Jerry has trouble with my accent from time to time, so maybe language is a barrier … We’d be happy to have you, though since the last government took over, it’s become harder to move here.

          We can, as you say, rely on Trump doing something stupid. I think the biggest indicator that there’s trouble looming for Trump via the Mueller Report is that so many Republicans in the Senate/Congress are starting to back away from him. Trump himself is also acting more unhinged than ever, which I assume is because he knows he’s about to get caught for something and he is unsure just how much. I think he always thought he could get away with anything. Further, he thinks he’s entitled to do whatever he wants and the rules don’t apply to him. Now he’s realizing that may not be the case.

          But then there’s still McConnell and Ryan:

          • Randall Schenck says:

            Long ago I lived in England for more than three years and it took some getting use to the language. It was a little like getting use to driving on the left but you soon get over it. I miss the roundabouts as well and some of the girls but I digress.

          • I lot of NZers think I sound a bit English, so maybe that’s my problem. 🙂 We have lots of roundabouts as well, though only one in my town – it’s too small to need much help with traffic flow. I won’t comment about the girls here!

          • Randall Schenck says:

            Oh, that is good – you could be a sales person for NZ. It a good thing I am not XX years younger and those days are long gone.

      • Yakaru says:

        I’m surprised how little it was commented on that Bernie Sanders’ campaign manager was a colleague of Paul Manafort in Ukraine. A friend of mine in the US started off as a huge Hillary supporter when she announced she was running, and after getting heavily involved in the Bernie campaign, wound up hating her so much she found it hard to vote at all in 2016.

        • Randall Schenck says:

          It is easy to see the history and background on Paul Manafort on line but notice it includes lots of people all over the world. Worked for American politicians such as Gerald Ford, Ronald Reagan, George Bush and Bob Dole. Also many corrupt dictators and politicians in many countries. I would be surprised if we could find a clean politician anywhere but in the business of Lobbyist/Political consultant there are likely none. Visit the MSNBC podcast “Bag Man” and see a few more corrupt politicians that made it to the highest offices.

        • I think that happened to a lot of Bernie supporters – hating Hillary I mean. It’s a bit of a worry because most of the reasons for hating her were made up, but with repetition they became real. Even if people didn’t believe them, they still hated Hillary. I think her vote was significantly suppressed by fake news – enough that she didn’t win those three crucial states.

      • nicky says:

        Well, Russia and Brazil are both part of ‘BRICS’ (Brazil, Russia, India, China and SouthAfrica), so there is an obvious connection. But I don’t know enough about Brazil politics either to make a positive statement.
        In South Africa we had a Minister of Health, Ms Dlamini-Zuma. We were asking the rhetorical question “can we possibly have a worse Minister of Health?” (with the obvious answer:”No!”). We had to eat our hats: we got Minister Tshabalala-Msimang (a full blown AIDS denialist).
        Can there possibly be a worse POTUS than Mr Trump? Well, we know the answer, a resounding “Yes!”, someone like Mr Bolsonaro being a prime example.

        • I suppose the systems in the US are stronger because they’ve been going for longer, and that helps protect them from someone like Trump. It’s harder for him to do what he’d really like to because of them. Brazil is getting better but it’s still vulnerable, and Bolsonaro is going to stretch things to the limits and probably break some stuff before he’s finished.

      • nicky says:

        Slightly off topic: Is it too late to reverse Brexit? It was a non-binding referendum, the results were quite close (should such a momentous decision not require a 2/3rds majority?), there were lots of outright lies (such as the 300 Million a week or month for the NHS), many voters have expressed regret about their choice, the problems associated only became clear later, etc etc. And now apparently Russian meddling…

        • I don’t think it should be. I keep hoping they’ll at least have another vote. Maybe when the agreement Theresa May has made comes up in the UK parliament, they will vote against it. That will cause her to resign and maybe even a snap election. The problem is that the woefully bad Jeremy Corbyn is the leader of the Labour Party, and as long as the Labour Party keeps selecting its leaders the way it does now, they could keep getting gits like him in charge. There are some good people, but they can’t get elected with the new election regime within the party. The Liberals’ policies are good, but not popular enough and they don’t have enough good people to be MPs to get power.

          I think the whole Scottish parliament is going to vote against it en masse, and I know Ireland and Wales aren’t happy either. The problem is that their numbers aren’t big enough – basically what England wants goes because of their population size.

  4. This tweet (via Ann German) echoes what I’m worried about in today’s world:

  5. Randall Schenck says:

    Wow, the Mueller, special council investigation is getting very deep and very busy now. I have to think it will not be long now before Trump is yesterday’s toast. This morning 29 Nov. Cohen has pleaded guilty to one count of lying to congress (concerning the Trump Tower Moscow deal). The news is that Cohen has spent 70 hours talking to special council. Also, last night Maddow spent half of her show going over obstruction examples directly from Trump over the past two years. It is a long list.

  6. Paxton Marshall says:

    Heather, have you considered the extent to which Islamaphobia is responsible for the rise of fascism in Europe and elsewhere?

  7. Randall Schenck says:

    I hope all is well with you down under, as they say. You are probably piling up the material for more good stuff. This week is going to be big in the Trump scandal with releases all this week on more material regarding Manafort, Cohen and Flynn.

    • Hi Randall. I started a post ten days ago that I was hoping would be a good one, and I haven’t had time (some days) or physical capacity (other days) since. Now today is getting away from me.

      I’ve been pretty busy because of getting ready for Christmas. I have to start well in advance because I can only do a little each day, and that’s getting in the way of computer time unfortunately. At the moment it’s 3pm here and I still haven’t had lunch, finished checking my overnight emails, or turned on CNN for the latest US news. That’s become regular timing the last three weeks or so.

      The post I’m writing is about gun control in the US, so it’s not exactly time sensitive!

      I’m looking forward to Trump getting his comeuppance. There are so many big things about to happen as you say. It will be very interesting.

  8. Randall Schenck says:

    Okay, looking forward to the subject. Take your time.

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