The Florida Loon strikes again — aka the Orange Zombie craves more brains….


You’ve got that, people?

Unless you are such masochists as to want a rerun of this:

Make Trump History!


Interesting American reaction to Trump’s speech.

Afterthought 17th November

But then that might be what Trump hopes rather than what will be… Here is another view on the event as damp squib….

Donald Trump held a humiliating event at Mar-A-Lago to announce he is running for President in 2024. The event was so weird and bad that people in the audience tried to escape but were blocked by security. MeidasTouch host Ben Meiselas reports.

One side matter that has Aussies scratching their heads is the presence of Australian billionaire Gina Rinehart, who is a sad groupie from way back. Did she try too escape, I wonder?

Full marks also to 15-year-old Melbourne news anchor (Channel 6 — which possibly comes from his bedroom) Leo Puglisi, the first I know of to spot her in the “crowd”. Well done, Leo. And the guy with the mo behind Gina is the quite definitely bonkers Pillow Guy, Mike Lindell — one of the greatest laughing stocks in the MAGA Menagerie!

Breaking into the music break with sorrow but more music — not the soothing kind though…

You know why.

A stacked death-loving SCOTUS is the bomb he left in the heart of the US system.

This is not over. President Biden is absolutely correct. This is a great and well-reasoned and sincere speech from a man whose mind is clearly quite intact!

Those who keep pointing to his enunciation at times should always recall that like King George VI he has struggled with and overcome a speech impediment.

Sadly, read this powerful New Yorker piece:

In Texas, already, children aged nine, ten, and eleven, who don’t yet understand what sex and abuse are, face forced pregnancy and childbirth after being raped. Women sitting in emergency rooms in the midst of miscarriages are being denied treatment for sepsis because their fetuses’ hearts haven’t yet stopped. People you’ll never hear of will spend the rest of their lives trying and failing, agonizingly, in this punitive country, to provide stability for a first or fifth child they knew they weren’t equipped to care for.

Did you happen to see the wonderful episode of Call the Midwife where the issue was raised in the context of 1960s Britain? It was on our ABC a few weeks ago.

Humbled by George Takei — his example, his lesson for us all today

Need I say who?

I follow him on Facebook — one of the most amazing octogenarians on this planet. Here is his post from yesterday, concerned with some of the response to the abomination that is the invasion of Ukraine.

By what right does he say this? Wikipedia summarises:

George Hosato Takei was born Hosato Takei on April 20, 1937 in Los Angeles, California, to Japanese-American parents Fumiko Emily Nakamura (born in Sacramento, California) and Takekuma Norman Takei (born in Yamanashi Prefecture), who worked in real estate. His father named him George after King George VI of the United Kingdom, whose coronation took place in 1937, shortly after Takei’s birth. In 1942, the Takei family was forced to live in the converted horse stables of Santa Anita Park before being sent to the Rohwer War Relocation Center for internment in Rohwer, Arkansas. The internment camp was in swamplands and surrounded by barbed wire fences. The family was later transferred to the Tule Lake War Relocation Center in California for internment.

Takei had several relatives living in Japan during World War II. Among them, he had an aunt and infant cousin who lived in Hiroshima and who were both killed during the atomic bombing that destroyed the city. In Takei’s own words, “My aunt and baby cousin [were] found burnt in a ditch in Hiroshima.”

He tells the story memorably in a 2014 TED talk, of which I said on FB: The wonderful George Takei. Please watch it for its quiet eloquence, its honesty, the example it sets of true positivity, the healthy kind that protects against cynicism and despair.

I am drafting this at around 11am on Sunday 13th March. God only knows what the news will have been from Ukraine by the time you read this. Yesterday I watched a lovely video from Kyiv made in November last year. It is agonisingly poignant now. Here is a still.

The maths must be wrong! 2017 was just yesterday!

No, February 2017 is indeed FIVE YEARS AGO!

Melting in The Gong, but great Saturday lunch

Posted on  by Neil

Yes, records just keep tumbling. Mind you, yesterday wasn’t quite as hot here in Wollongong as it was in much of NSW. We managed to stay under 40C. But the humidity! I really am melting, especially at night. On the other hand my nephew Warren rang on Thursday from near Lightning Ridge, where he now lives. In the shade there it was 46, and in his shed 53!


And for The Gong, this look back at the times Wollongong resembled a scene from a blockbuster doomsday movie.

Chris T and I returned to Wollongong’s best halal Lebanese restaurant on Saturday. Great food, lovely people. Last time we were there was in January: Extreme contrast, and yesterday at Samaras again.


Meal mates: Samaras Restaurant owner Omar Nemer and community leader Grahame Gould are promoting tolerance through eating.

Among his supporters is community leader Grahame Gould, who is urging other Illawarra residents, business people and prominent figures to show zero tolerance for racism by attending an #illeatwithyou lunch at Samaras on Wednesday.

“I want to stop racist boycotts in their tracks; I want to show zero tolerance for that attitude within the community,” Mr Gould said. “It’s about fairness to individuals and giving people a fair go, which is a core Australian ideology.

“The Illawarra is becoming a region that has great diversity and … that is an important part of us having a great life, a vibrant community and a successful future.”

Mar 2015

A historian on Donald Trump

Posted on  by Neil

But first let me quote a tweet from 24 hours ago; recent ones on the interesting visit of Canada’s Justin Trudeau have thus far been more sensible.

Just leaving Florida. Big crowds of enthusiastic supporters lining the road that the FAKE NEWS media refuses to mention. Very dishonest!

I mean, you have to wonder why he bothered to post that! One might even question  the lack of mental balance it seems to me to embody.

And then we had this from some motormouth or other* among all the President’s men:

Donald Trump senior policy advisor Stephen Miller’s debut on the Sunday shows was rife with troubling foreshadowing, with his high-volume repetition of Trump talking points and botched invocation of Trump’s “voter fraud” lie…

Miller railed against a “supreme” judicial branch in other television appearances, but on CBS, he made Trump’s despotic ambitions explicit (emphasis added):

The end result of this, though, is that our opponents, the media, and the whole world will soon see, as we begin to take further actions, that the powers of the president to protect our country are very substantial, and will not be questioned.

Those “further actions” remain frighteningly and ominously unclear…

Before going on, a detour to a past post, The History Summit in Canberra (2006). Some of the links may not work.

My continuing interest in history and historiography is well attested on my blogs: search this one to see a whole range of entries on quite a variety of topics where the search-word “history” will take you.

I studied History at Sydney University in a fortunate moment, looking back on it. Among my Ancient History lecturers in 1960 was Edwin Judge, “distinguished for his studies on the first Roman emperor, Augustus, and still more for his monographs on the social and structural aspects of early Christianity in the Roman empire, and how the Romans responded to it.” In 1961 I (and Philip Ruddock) studied 18th century European History under John McManners and English History under the quite amazing Mr Stephen. I wrote an essay that year on Edward Gibbon. Then in 1962 I came first in Asian History, taught by two more stars: Marjorie Jacobs on India and Ian Nish on China and Japan: see that review of his Japanese Foreign Policy in the Interwar Period: “Numerous scholars have written about Japanese foreign policy in the interwar period, and one is tempted to wonder if yet another account is genuinely needed, but when it comes from the pen of such a senior historian as Ian Nish, the answer is a resounding ‘yes.’ Nish has produced an archetypical study through his careful collection of evidence, through his judicious assessments, and through his lucid presentation: in short, this study is a hallmark of professional maturity and sophistication.” That year my essays, more successful than the Gibbon had been, were on Ram Mohan Roy and Mao Tse Tung and Chiang Kai Shek. Very exotic for 1962.

So, good fortune for me, and an approach to History that has never left me. I am not a raging left-winger when it comes to historiography; indeed, I am generally comfortable with Richard Evans, In Defence of History, despite the pomo rubbishing Antony Easthope gives it in that review! But then I am also a great fan of Stuart Macintyre and Anna Clark, The History Wars. And I actually enjoy Manning Clark, as literature as much as history.

Richard Evans. Quite a formidable historian whose specialty has been The Third Reich., more recently in The Third Reich in History and Memory.

Richard Evans has ventured into this arena in the past few days:


Now while I am clearly not overimpressed with Donald J Trump, I am also cautious about glib comparisons. The counter-argument to the image above may be found all over, including You’ve Heard People Compare Trump to Hitler. So We Asked a Woman Who Was Born in Nazi Germany….

Bur when Richard Evans weighs in I think we need to listen.

I spoke by phone with Evans, who is based in England and whose latest book is The Pursuit of Power: Europe 1815-1914,  this week. During the course of our conversation, which has been edited and condensed for clarity, we discussed the differences and similarities between the 1930s and today, why fascists need to undermine the legal system, and the danger of calling seemingly unbalanced leaders “crazy.”

Isaac Chotiner: What do you make of Trump as a leader in these early days, and how would you compare it to the way other authoritarians have started their time in power?

Richard Evans: When you look at President Trump’s statements, I’m afraid you do see echoes, and they are very alarming…

Of course history never repeats itself. Democracy dies in different ways at different times. The First World War did have this brutalizing effect on public life right across Europe. It was heavily militarized. You can’t go out on the street without seeing squads of thugs in uniform beating each other up. That’s simply not characteristic of our own times. I think the Second World War cured Western society of that level of violence. But there has been an economic crisis. America is deeply divided. Britain is deeply divided. There are massive and bitter political divisions and social divisions in many European countries, so there is a parallel there, certainly…

I commend the article to you.


*On that motormouth: How Stephen Miller went from obscure Capitol Hill staffer to Donald Trump’s warm-up act—and resident ideologue.

Miller is 30 years old, and in some ways a quintessential member of the Trump 2016 menagerie: an obscure character suddenly elevated to a national role by dint of hard work, loyalty and the boss’s favor…

There is something eerily vintage about Miller’s stump speeches. The combination of their substance—vilifying immigrants as killers, the promise of nativist glory days ahead—and their delivery with a calm face around a loud, droning mouth, slicked-back hair and sharp suit, floridly invoking powerful cabals against the people: All of it harks back to an earlier time. It’s as if the video should be in black and white, and the microphone in front of Miller an antique, metallic affair….

Breitbart is Miller’s preferred media ally. “Every movement needs a dialogue,” Miller says. “Breitbart was a big part of that.” Miller worked tirelessly to make sure the dialogue kept going, and in the right direction…

Non sequiturs and The Tweet

Posted on  by Neil

I am a fan of Wiley Miller’s “Non Sequitur”: we get it in the Sydney Morning Herald.  Lately he’s been having fun with the “fake news”/”alternate facts” meme.


A convincing take on where President Tweet’s head is at comes from Josephine Tovey this morning. It’s a bit of a worry.

There’s a new rule emerging for observers of American politics trying to understand a confusing new outburst or claim from President Donald Trump – go and check what’s happened on Fox News in the past 24 hours.

It was key to understanding his otherwise confounding comments about Sweden at a rally last weekend, when he told a fired-up crowd: “You look at what’s happening last night in Sweden. Sweden, who would believe this?”…

This was not a first. In fact, a huge number of Trump’s outbursts and falsehoods can be linked to something he saw on television or on one of his preferred websites….

It’s not only Fox that fires up the President. Several of his most egregious claims in recent months have come from or mirror those on America’s most prominent conspiracy website Infowars – which is perhaps best known for pushing the lie that the Sandy Hook school massacre was a hoax….

Meanwhile on Politico you find aggregated latest stories.  I guess Tweet would count them as “enemies of the people” when they run inconvenient stories like Trump’s disapproval rating keeps creeping up.

A majority of respondents said Trump is not honest (55 percent), doesn’t have good leadership skills (55 percent) or care about everyday Americans (53 percent), isn’t level-headed (63 percent), doesn’t share their values (60 percent) and is doing more to divide the country than unite it (58 percent). However, a majority also said they believe Trump is a strong (64 percent) and intelligent (58 percent) person.

“President Donald Trump’s popularity is sinking like a rock,” said Tim Malloy, assistant director of the Quinnipiac University poll. “He gets slammed on honesty, empathy, level-headedness and the ability to unite. And two of his strong points, leadership and intelligence, are sinking to new lows. This is a terrible survey one month in.”

But why should he worry? After all he won the most electoral college votes since Ronald Reagan, didn’t he? Not.

Mr Trump’s 2016 victory did not come close.

Former President Barack Obama won 332 votes in 2012 versus Mitt Romney’s 206 votes, a far higher number than Mr Trump’s 304 electoral college votes in 2016.

And Mr Obama won an even higher number – 365 – in 2008.

Bill Clinton gained 379 electoral college votes in 1996, and George H W Bush gathered an incredible 426 votes in 1988.

This amazing graphic shows quite clearly how the popular vote went — and confirms my belief in our Australian system of mandatory voting too! Bit hard to write these facts off as “fake news”, don’t you think?



From the Toronto Star: The complete list of all 80 false things Donald Trump has said in his first 4 weeks as president.

In 2022 Trump is unaccountably still followed by far too many people, and to venture an opinion — me on Facebook not long ago:

The Trump is dangerous, the Trump is a walking curse on the future of the USA. There is nothing to admire about him, nothing at all. In fact if you can watch even just the extracts from the speech of the man himself at this dreadful rally and find anything at all worthy of respect I am simply sorry for you. The man is just egregious in his foolishness, vanity and maliciousness. A leader? No way! And he NEVER learns.

Over the top? I think not.

This time last year the Inauguration was happening. I chose Tao.

When I look at my post for 19 January 2021 I see it starts a little cryptically: UPDATE: Will leave this post in place until the Inauguration is done and dusted! OK, so here is the post.


Posted on  by Neil

Yesterday I posted on Facebook: I have long loved this from the Tao Te Ching, especially this translation:

Tao Te Ching – Verse 67

Some say that my teaching is nonsense.
Others call it lofty but impractical.
But to those who have looked inside themselves,
this nonsense makes perfect sense.
And to those who put it into practice,
this loftiness has roots that go deep.

I have just three things to teach:
simplicity, patience, compassion.
These three are your greatest treasures.

Simple in actions and in thoughts,
you return to the source of being.
Patient with both friends and enemies,
you accord with the way things are.
Compassionate toward yourself,
you reconcile all beings in the world.

(translation by Stephen Mitchell, 1995)

Statue — Fujian Province, China

There is a good online translation of the Tao Te Ching by Derek Liu:

The Tao that can be spoken is not the eternal Tao
The name that can be named is not the eternal name
The nameless is the origin of Heaven and Earth
The named is the mother of myriad things
Thus, constantly without desire, one observes its essence
Constantly with desire, one observes its manifestations
These two emerge together but differ in name
The unity is said to be the mystery
Mystery of mysteries, the door to all wonders

I would that all religions, perhaps most especially the three great religions of The Book, would modify their belief with that opening statement. If they did there would be much less bigotry in the world.

See also Wikipedia and The Ancient History Encyclopedia.

Finally, this article is worth looking at: The Tao Te Ching by Laozi: ancient wisdom for modern times.

Two thousand four hundred years after it was composed, we need the Tao Te Ching’s lessons in self-awareness more than ever. Little can be said with absolute certainty about the origins of the Tao Te Ching. Consensus suggests it was written around 400BC by one Laozi. Laozi translates simply as “old master” – a hint that the author’s (or authors’) true name has been lost for ever.

Tao Te Ching translates very roughly as “the way of integrity”. In its 81 verses it delivers a treatise on how to live in the world with goodness and integrity: an important kind of wisdom in a world where many people believe such a thing to be impossible….

In the present

More or less by chance a couple of days ago I began looking at a kind of personal philosophy channel on YouTube by someone who calls himself Einzelgänger — which means either Loner or Maverick. There are a number of Tao-related videos there. And example:

Worth checking out.

I see that a couple of days after that 19 January 2021 post I put up several videos here, with the Inauguration now being done and dusted. I won’t offer a commentary about how those 12 months have gone in US politics… But I do offer one of the videos.