Mike Vickers' Blog

December 14, 2016

Aleppo – an abject failure of the West

Filed under: History in the making, Left Politics, Politics, USA, War — derryvickers @ 2:23 pm

It would have been quite possible to provide food and medicine to Aleppo using gps guided-parachutes. https://www.theguardian.com/world/2016/dec/08/push-for-east-aleppo-aid-drops-using-gps-guided-parachutes

Even on Saturday Corbyn stood stony faced and silent why Peter Tarchell demonstrated for air drops. One expects such response from the Tories but not from Labour.

https://leftfootforward.org/2016/12/peter-tatchell-aleppo-is-todays-guernica-where-is-labour/

But I can remember the Berlin Air lift, https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Berlin_Blockade, and I note a comment in Wiki as to why the Soviets did not interfere: ‘ The Soviets did not disrupt the airlift for fear this might lead to open conflict’. It is likely to have been the case with Aleppo,

Of course it was far too late on Saturday but this is likely to be a further nail in Labour’s coffin.  It could certainly be the most serious indictment of Obama’s term of Office.

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November 13, 2016

Trump as Machiavelli’s Prince

Filed under: A Point of View BBC Radio4, Europe, History in the making, Politics, USA, War — derryvickers @ 1:00 pm

From an article by Martin Kettle in Friday’s Guardian:

He is an anti-liberal president for post-liberal times. He embodies extreme hostility to social liberalism – in the form, to take a few examples, of his contempt for ethnic minorities, his hatred for Muslims, his indifference to due process, his dismissal of rights, his willingness to use torture, his mocking of the disabled, his dismissal of political correctness, and above all, perhaps, his attitude to women. He is not alone in these attitudes in his party. Indeed, in some respects, Trump is the culmination of the deep-rooted hatred for social liberalism,’

https://www.theguardian.com/commentisfree/2016/nov/10/donald-trump-voters-liberal-order

Yes of course, Kettle is talking about Trump but could Kettle be equally talking about the Leader of ISIS.  I first thought, Yes; but on second thoughts No.
The Leader of ISIS, I would suspect, believes he is right: the West has polluted the world and its effects must be eradicated. 

Trump has no such high ideals for the USA; other than his self-aggrandisement: in this respect he is Machiavelli’s Prince.

From Wiki

‘The descriptions within The Prince have the general theme of accepting that the aims of princes—such as glory and survival—can justify the use of immoral means to achieve those ends:….He who neglects what is done for what ought to be done, sooner effects his ruin than his preservation’

Trump is no fool; he worked out that by speaking as he did he would appeal to enough floating voters to become President. This he has achieved.

But like the Prince he needs to hold on and that means winning another term.   In recent times there have been only two One Term Presidents: Jimmy Carter and George H. W. Bush and Trump doesn’t want to be a third; after all he has been trying long enough to become President. What’s going to stop Trump doing another Term and already he has started to change his tone . Using the same obnoxious techniques won’t work a second time; he needs to do something different and he has already decided that he needs to tap into broader group of voters; he has chosen that he needs to embrace the centre. He cosies up to Obama– they had ‘in Trump’s words’ a great meeting, lasting over an hour while only a ¼ hour was planned (thought why Obama puts up with Trump longer than the minimal ¼ hour is unclear – perhaps in the hope that ObamaCare will survive). Trump’s new song is that ObamaCare may not be that bad after all and putting Hilary in prison is not now top priority. Washington will be ‘a great lot of folks’ now they ‘understand’ Trump; and NATO may just be worth spending on.

https://www.theguardian.com/us-news/2016/nov/12/donald-trump-appears-to-soften-stance-on-range-of-pledges.

Of course Trump may do it ‘his way’ and fail miserably; but he’s probably astute enough to know at Presidential level you have to get more than 50% right and to achieve this level you do need a few right thinking people around you.

But at the next Presidential election there will be Elizabeth Warren to contend with; and the American women who voted for Trump may come to realise that then is the time to blow ‘the Glass Roof’.

PS I commend readers to listen to Roger Scruton on ‘A Point of View’

http://www.bbc.co.uk/programmes/b081tkmc#play

April 4, 2016

Things fall apart; the centre cannot hold

Filed under: Europe, History in the making, Ireland, Poetry, Politics, USA, War — derryvickers @ 9:45 pm

With all the comment on the Easter Rising of 1916 in Dublin I felt a need to listen to a CD I have of WB Yeats’ poems including Easter 1916. Three of the four verses finish with the line A terrible beauty is born’. I then listened to next poem ‘The Second Coming’ and came across that well know stanza

‘Things fall apart; the centre cannot hold;     Mere anarchy is loosed upon the world,     The blood-dimmed tide is loosed, and everywhere,     The ceremony of innocence is drowned;     The best lack all conviction, while the worst     Are full of passionate intensity.’

Well the poem’s well known to me since a guy I worked with in my first job harangued me that Yeats was the best of poets.

Interestingly I understand that Yeats ordered his published poems very carefully and he juxtaposed these two poems.

And when I look 100 years on from the Easter Rising I see that the Second Coming may be here and now. Whether we think of the Middle East, the US with the Donald, or here in the UK with Jeremy Corbyn at one extreme and the Right Ring Tories at the other with their passion to leave the EU. I am old enough to remember WWII and the thought of the EU breaking up appals me.

I am horrified that the young don’t vote; they see their vote as making no difference to what goes on in their name.

 

March 19, 2015

Filed under: Education, History in the making, Poetry, Travel, USA, World Class — derryvickers @ 12:27 pm

Which of these eight women put forward in the New York Times to appear on the 20 dollar bill in place of Andrew Jackson –

Sojourner Truth, Susan Anthony, Rachel Carson, Margaret Sanger, Emma Lazarus, Frances Perkins, Wilma Mankiller, Harriet Beecher Stowe

do you know.?

http://www.nytimes.com/roomfordebate/2015/03/18/putting-a-woman-on-the-20-bill

I admit I had heard only of two of them.

Emma Lazarus, a poet, who supported the immigrant cause penned the inscription on the Statue of Liberty. I had not known or had forgotten the inscription:

Give me your tired, your poor, Your huddled masses yearning to breathe free, The wretched refuse of your teeming shore. Send these, the homeless, tempest-tost to me, I lift my lamp beside the golden door.

An inscription that all of us in the UK should revere in the period up to the May election.

February 11, 2015

The Mailed Fist is no Answer to Putin’s Old Traditions – Ukraine

Filed under: Europe, History in the making, Politics, USA, War — derryvickers @ 12:04 pm
Negoiations

Merkel, Putin and Hollande

Merkel and Hollande have been to visit Putin on the Ukraine.

Merkel is a realist and reckons there is no quick answer but it should be by negotiation.

Picture: AP

I can do no better than to commend an article by Allan Massie in today’s Scotsman – 11 Feb 2015

http://www.scotsman.com/news/allan-massie-mailed-fist-is-no-answer-to-putin-1-3686263

As Massie points out the West is not blameless in this respect and I can only note that the UK was not invited to join the table.

And as Massie says we both have a common enemy.

December 10, 2013

Mandela

Filed under: Communications, In Our Time, Journalism, USA, World Class — derryvickers @ 10:18 pm

From the high flying oratory of Obama that brings tears to my eyes

http://www.theguardian.com/world/2013/dec/10/barack-obama-nelson-mandela-memorial-service

To the arch cynicism of Simon Jenkins and I can’t repress a chuckle

http://www.theguardian.com/commentisfree/2013/dec/10/mandela-coverage-banality-of-goodness

And finally to the cold reality of Okwonga

http://www.okwonga.com/?p=869

What a day!

And all thanks to one man: Mandela

December 16, 2012

RIP Newtown

Filed under: Journalism, Personal, USA — derryvickers @ 9:35 am

A short news clip from Johnny Diamond of BBC Radio 4 at Newtown drags me out of my lethargy.
An unspeakable tragedy that took no more than a few minutes to happen
A Town now overrun by hundreds of journalists, TV cameras and satellite transmitters.
The ashes being interminably raked over seeking some clue, dragging some comment out of some bewildered local
Where have we come in this instant Now featured on A Point of View by Will Self just a few minutes earlier
Why can’t we let these Towns Folk rest in peace with their grief.

http://www.bbc.co.uk/podcasts/series/pov

July 21, 2012

Aurora shooting and Gun Control in the US

Filed under: History in the making, USA — derryvickers @ 8:17 pm

A recent article in Time on the tragic shoot at Aurora in Colorado takes up again the need or otherwise for Gun Control in the US.  Like most British people I am horrified about the power of the gun lobby in the US.  The article quotes the Second Amendment and I thought I had better look up this amendment which I did on Wiki.

You too can read it at:

http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Second_Amendment_to_the_United_States_Constitution

It’s a very detailed and I would think very precise article and the Second Amendment of 1789 looks very much involved with establishing a balance between the Central Government and the States and the rights of the States to take up arms against the Central Government if the balance gets out of kilter in favour of the Central Government – a balance still very much at the heart of the upcoming Presidential Elections.  Interestingly the article goes on to indicate that it is only in the 20th Century that the Second Amendment has been reinterpreted to allow US citizens almost cart blanche to carry arms specifically for their own protection.

However the point that intrigued me was that the Second Amendment was to the US Bill of Rights and the Bill of Rights in this respect is based on the English Bill of Rights of 1689 which allows the English citizens to carry Arms for their Defence – in this case their defence against the monarchy.

I am mortified!  When was this English right ever rescinded – I need to delve further.

January 1, 2012

2012 – A Year for Dialogue

Filed under: Communications, History in the making, Politics, USA — derryvickers @ 11:50 am

This is the year when:

  • A new President of the US will be elected or Barack Obama will hold off the onslaught. Should the US go back to its Constitution as written? – well not quite
  • The Euro will survive or not.  Germany wants to lay down strict fiscal rules of belonging – Is Angela Merkel the Bismarck of the 21st century?
  • There will be still no resolution between Israel and the Palestinians.  An interesting series of three programmes on the BBC on the 4000 year history of Jerusalem  highlighting the continual struggle between Jews, Christians and Muslims for control ‘illustrated the difficulty.
  • Scotland will move further away from the UK and England in particular or not.  Will an independent Scotland be more left of centre than England and will it become more like Norway?
  • More locally will our town of Linlithgow remain an historic town or develop into a ribbon commuter town for Edinburgh and Glasgow.  A commercial company wants to build a satellite town just to the east – because Linlithgow is one of the few towns under demand for new property.

These topics are all about centralisation or distribution, liberalisation or direction, freedom to do one’s own thing or be guided by rules.  Is your life better off with or without them.  The dilemma is that one man’s freedom is another’s loss.  An article in last week’s UK Guardian illustrates the point (though a few more examples would have been useful) – http://www.guardian.co.uk/commentisfree/2011/dec/19/bastardised-libertarianism-makes-freedom-oppression

We in the West live in a capitalist society- we appreciate it – well most of us do.  But capitalism has its down sides.  Ha-Joon Chang’s book ‘Things They don’t tell you about Capitalism’ is a good reminder of the impact of our capitalism on others less fortunate than we.

If 2012 is to be a good year then there needs to be meaningful (sorry for use of this word) dialogues between the participants.  Can I commend to all a great book now 50 years on Political Dialogues by Maurice Cranston, published by the BBC.  The book reports on a number of constructed dialogues between philosophers of the latter half of the last millennium; dialogues include Savonarola and Machiavelli on the State,  Stuart Mill and Stephen on Liberty, Maine, Arnold and Morley on Democracy and one particularly interesting of someone living in Scotland Voltaire and Hume on Morality.  All these dialogues are just as relevant today as they were 50 years ago and when they were ‘conceived’ in the time of the philosophers themselves.  A key aspect is that there is no resolution of differences just a better understanding between participants; and, as Michael Sandel finishes his great series of Harvard lectures on Justice, the best we can hope for.  After all we all live in a democracy – not a totalitarian state and if ‘men of good will’ do not have the right to differ we are lost.

A Good New Year to everyone and keep up the dialogue!

October 13, 2011

The State of Politics in the US

Filed under: History in the making, Politics, USA — Tags: — derryvickers @ 2:37 pm

I make no apologies – I have lifted this article by Joe Klein direct from Swamplands – the on-line daily update from Time.

I have done so because I believe the story should have a wide UK based readership.  As Joe says the media love a good story and the Tea Party is one such but in his view it is giving a very slanted view on US politics.   Most Americans want compromise and the current apparent polarization Democrats and Republicans is not conducive to good government: in this respect I believe Obama has got it right but can’t appear to deliver. So here is the article.

‘ I’ve written the cover story for this week’s magazine, which is now available online to subscribers. The piece summarizes some of the things I saw and learned on my recent road trip from Laredo, Texas, to Iowa.

The most important conclusion seems obvious, but it isn’t much appreciated by our political class or by those of us in the media: Most Americans are sane moderates, even in the most conservative areas through which I wandered. They are fascinated by the Tea Party’s success in grabbing the national megaphone, but also very much opposed to Tea Policy–and they are extremely frustrated that their views are not acknowledged by either the politicians or the media.

Lest you think these views were merely pruned and harvested me, there is a new TIME Magazine poll that vehemently reinforces the opinions of the Normal Majority: 89% of Americans want politicians to compromise on the major issues like the federal deficit; more than 70% believe the rich should pay higher taxes; 60% believe the media and politicians aren’t discussing the most important issues. There are mixed feelings about the effect of the Tea Party on American politics, but only 11% describe themselves as Tea Party supporters. The feelings about the Occupy Wall Street protesters are far more positive; a solid majority agree with the goals of the movement. (Most of my travels took place before OWS went viral; none of the people I interviewed mentioned it.)

Also, as expected, the poll reinforced the sense I got that most Americans think the country is on the wrong track (81%) or in decline (71%).

In general, I found people to be less anguished, and more contemplative, than last year’s trip. Some blamed most of our problems on the federal government, but most didn’t. Most were beginning to wonder if we had grown lazy or too materialistic. A Little Rock orthodontist said, “I can be a happy camper in a house about half the size of the one I live in. I didn’t have to drive here in a BMW. Maybe we’ve been concentrating too much on material goods.”

The most important days of the trip were spent in Joplin, Missouri, where material goods had been swept away in a killer tornado, and a new spirit of community, spirituality, cooperation and awe had begun to fill the vacuum left by the loss of 162 lives and the total destruction of more than 4000 homes. It was interesting, too: there were few complaints to be heard about the estimated $450 million in federal disaster relief funds that are beginning to flow into the community.

And this, I think, was quiet message of the trip, delivered by dozens and dozens of people whom the media usually ignore: a belief that democracy requires compromise, that it works better without screaming, and that the federal government does have an important role to play. But, ultimately, the choices that each of us makes–to work hard, or not; to become active citizens again, or not; to see past the momentary pleasures of material goods, or not–will determine the future of the country.

Read more: http://swampland.time.com/2011/10/13/the-end-of-the-road/#ixzz1afhqLkgg

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