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An open letter to President Trump

January 30, 2017

Dear President Trump,

You’re a busy man, so I’ll keep this short. It is apparent, from your choice of Myron Ebell to lead your transition team for the EPA and Scott Pruitt to lead it, that you walk the walk as well as talk the talk when it comes to climate change denial.

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Trump Thoughts

January 12, 2017

My record as a pundit is pretty poor as I didn’t think Trump would get this far (but then, I reckoned without the Russian / Wikileaks / FBI interventions). But, for what it’s worth, here’s my reading of the situation and a prediction for how things will pan out.

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Regrexit? Fixit!

June 26, 2016

As I’ve outlined in my previous post, I think there are good reasons for supposing that Brexit will, in fact, not happen, but this is far from certain. If, like me, you voted Remain and are quite appalled by the result, what practical measures can you take? If you voted Leave but wish you hadn’t (for whatever reason), how can you make amends? Note that if you voted Leave and still think it’s a good idea despite the wave of chaos you have unleashed, this piece is not for you.

Well, you could post things about how awful it all is on Facebook, to be read by a group of friends who think broadly the same as you do. You could make attempts at tweeting pithy comments that will demonstrate once and for all how silly the whole thing is. Both of these are approaches I have adopted in the immediate aftermath. Neither of them is ultimately very helpful.

However, if you want a more constructive approach, there is a third way – why not write to your MP?

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Further thoughts on Brexit

June 25, 2016

Two days after the results of the Brexit referendum, and a shell-shocked Britain tries to come to terms with what it’s done. While team Remain are understandably dumbfounded at the result, anecdotal evidence suggests some Leave voters are also surprised and dismayed at the extent of the devastation they’ve triggered (without, in many cases, much real understanding of what they were doing).

So, what next?

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Thoughts on Brexit

June 19, 2016

The Remain vs Leave campaign will enter the history books as a low point in UK politics – hyperbole from both sides with a bonus helping of unvarnished racism from the Leave side, culminating in the horrific slaughter of an MP by a man with suspected links to white supremacy. These are dark times.

The tone of the “debate” has been pretty low and plenty of words have been written elsewhere about it but, in my opinion, three of the most alarming statements from the Leave camp are:

  1. Nigel Farage, in response to a journalist observing that he’d started smoking again: “I think the doctors have got it wrong on smoking
  2. Michael Gove, on being asked to identify economists who supported Brexit: “People in this country have had enough of experts
  3. Gisela Stuart, backing up Michael Gove: “There is only one expert that matters, and that’s you, the voter”

All three signify a rejection of the value of knowledge, rational enquiry, and expertise. Farage obviously dislikes the well-supported conclusion that there’s a causal link between smoking and lung cancer, and therefore feels comfortable substituting his own “expertise” on the subject for that of the experts – no surprise, given that he’s a climate change denier as well. Gove and Stuart (a Labour MP, alarmingly) are upset that economists weighing in on the merits of Brexit are mostly unsupportive of their position.

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Who’s Trumped?

June 8, 2016

There’s an old joke about a lawyer who, when the facts are against him pounds the law, when the law is against him pounds the facts, and when both are against him pounds the table. Thanks to the arrival of Donald Trump on the scene, we know of another option in such a scenario – hurl abuse at people on Twitter.

What can be said about the Trump phenomenon that hasn’t already been said? He’s brazened or bulldozed his way through scandals that would have felled most other politicians (remember when his remarks about John McCain’s capture were going to be the end of his quixotic short-lived campaign?) He shows absolutely no intellectual curiosity (a common Republican trait, to be fair), but takes it to the next level by buying into any conspiracy theory going, coming up with his own when Alex Jones doesn’t have anything suitable. He lies or, more accurately, bullshits his way through his campaign and instead of being exposed for it, there’s a collective shrug of shoulders: “well, it’s Trump, whaddaya going to do about it?” His latest spiffing wheeze is to claim that any federal judge from a community he’s disparaged is inherently unfit to judge him due to the resulting conflict of interest, a position which could rival the traditional definition of chutzpah.

The question is – will he win? I think he will not, for at least the following reasons…

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Immediate thoughts about the Paris attacks

November 14, 2015

A response to the November 13th attacks in Paris written in the immediate aftermath; it is apparent that the perpetrators were radical Islamists linked with Islamic State. I have a certain amount of difficulty trying to square my ideals of a tolerant, rational, multicultural, open society with the unhappy reality that such a thing is wide open to attack from those who don’t share such ideals. I don’t have answers, just thoughts and questions at the moment, some of which are here.

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