Trumpster subpoenaed, but they don’t care
Now it gets interesting. This morning, the US congressional committee investigating last year’s attack on the US Capitol (i.e. houses of parliament) has voted to subpoena the Trumpster to give testimony to it.
The Trumpster can defy the order and be charged with contempt of congress. Or he can appear.
Wry & Dry predicts that he will undertake the latter. This will be big theatre, and will make for great television/ streaming. Which is just what he would wish. He will sit with his arms folded, with a face as impassive as an Easter Island statue, and refuse to answer any questions (as is his right – the famous Miranda warning1).
Wry & Dry also suspects that most Americans now just don’t care anymore.
1 The right to silence; that is, their right to refuse to answer questions or provide information to law enforcement or other officials.
Invade between the flags
In case of emergency, hire the Spirit of Tasmania ferries.
What emergency? Err, the one where we need to transport the Australian army’s new tanks to where they’re needed.
Consider this: the army wants to spend $27 billion to buy 450 new tanks. The tanks would be for use on the Korean peninsula, Malaysia, Singapore or PNG. Or onshore. The trouble is that the navy doesn’t have the ship-capacity to get the tanks offshore in a hurry. Hence an expert has suggested hiring the Spirit of Tasmania ferries.
Has someone told the Premier of Tasmania?
Just whilst Readers are choking on the lemon twist in their gin and tonic with that news, they might consider that the ADF has 28 major projects running behind schedule and over budget. The delays total 97 years, and the budget overruns exceed $6.5 billion2. And that doesn’t include the expected new price of the eight nuclear-powered submarines of $100 billion.
All of this is very good news for whichever country wishes to get close to this sunburnt country with ignoble intent. And then invade between the flags.
2 For example: F-35A joint strike fighter +$2.4 billion; Boeing P-8A Poseidon maritime patrol aircraft +$1.8 billion; 52 helicopters $TBA, etc, etc.
The votes are in
Tsar Vlad must now be laughing. That Labrador of internationalism, the United Nations’ General Assembly, has condemned his annexation of parts of Ukraine.
As many as 143 countries voted for the resolution. Only five voted against: Russia (of course); North Korea (which needs every ally it can get); Syria (a Russian client-state); Nicaragua (must be in need of a favour) and Belarus (another Russian client-state). Abstaining countries included China (gotta keep the oil and gas flowing) and India (Tsar Vlad supplies some of its military tackle, but there’s probably not much left now).
Tsar Vlad was probably thinking of the UN in the same way that Stalin thought of the Vatican: “How many divisions does the pope have?”
Just in case
More than one million alleged criminals have been arrested. Just in case.
Just in case what? Yes, just in case someone rains on Emperor Xi’s parade. On Sunday, the quinquennial3 party congress of the Chinese Communist Party will shut down Beijing. And the Ministry of Public Security is not taking any chances that any one of the 1,400,000 alleged criminals might have the enthusiasm and wherewithal to do just that.
Y’see, the congress is all about the
coronation certain probable re-election of Emperor Xi for a third ten-year term. The CCP don’t do these things as well as the Brits, so Readers should not expect great television viewing. Just thousands of earnest, identically attired delegates doing as they have been told and applauding in unison in the Great Hall of the People.
Of course, the charade hides the reality of the outlook for China and a newly re-elected leader. Emperor Xi has been careful to be careful in recent months. No rash acts, speeches or invasions.
But Readers can bet the house that once the applause is over a new and obvious sense of muscularity will emerge. Emperor Xi is not going to faff around with international courtesies.
3 Every 10 years.
Just to confirm, sort of
It’s amazing the benefit that a 24-hour flight gives to the mind. Treasurer Grim Jim Chalmers and Albo have been obfuscating for weeks about whether to proceed with the so-called Stage Three tax cuts.
They ran the flag up the pole of public opinion. And last night, in Washington for a meeting of the G20 Finance Ministers, Grim Jim hauled the flag down the flagpole and furled it. The tax cuts will proceed.
Actually, he didn’t quite say that. He said that the upcoming mini-budget would not include revocation of the tax cuts. But didn’t rule it out in future. So don’t furl that flag just yet.
So much for decisive leadership.
Conflict of interest?
Fresh from giving advice to the known world about how to end the Ukraine conflict4, Elon Musk has extended his problem-solving free-consultancy business to relations between Taiwan and Emperor Xi:
“My recommendation would be to figure out a special administrative zone for Taiwan that is reasonably palatable . . . and I think probably that they could have an arrangement that’s more lenient than in Hong Kong.”
Wry & Dry will ignore for just a moment that Mr. Musk’s knowledge of Hong Kong’s history, especially recent, seems to be inversely and exponentially related to his fecundity5. There was an international bilaterally agreed special administrative zone for Hong Kong that Emperor Xi is unilaterally turning into something less, err, lenient by the day.
And just consider instead the possibility that Mr. Musk is pursuing his own self-interest when saying what Emperor Xi wants to hear. His Tesla company has a huge operation in China, including a mega factory in Shanghai. In January it opened a major showroom in the province of Xinjiang, where the local Uighur population has been subject to a slow genocide.
Ah, the tumescence of the hugely wealthy that their unique genius is immediately and effortlessly transferred to politics and geopolitics.
4 Ukraine to relinquish sovereignty over Crimea; UN to supervise elections in the four regions invaded and partially occupied by Russia; and whoever wins those elections gets the territory.
5He has at least nine children by a variety of mothers.
The battle for international students is one quietly but earnestly fought. The fat fees from these students provides massive opportunities for indulgent spending on faculties and pet research projects.
Better to send your precious child to a global 100 university than not. The aim is to get one’s university into the top tier. And a whole industry has emerged to rank universities. The aim is to find out the success criteria and shape your university to meet those factors. But there are different rankers, for example the Times Higher Education (THE) and QS World University Rankings. Each has its biases.6
Consider the cartwheels now being done by the seven Australian universities making into THE top 100, released on Tuesday: Melbourne #34, Monash #44, Queensland #53, Sydney #54, ANU #62, UNSW #71, Adelaide #88.
And wait for Chairman Dan to pat himself on the back for Victoria having Australia’s top two universities, albeit they’re under water.
6Top universities in THE are Oxford, Harvard, Cambridge, Stanford, MIT. By QS: MIT, Cambridge, Stanford, Oxford, Harvard.
Writing of universities, of the top 10 UK schools for getting its students into either Oxford or Cambridge:
- 4 are state schools
- 4 are independent schools
- 2 are Singaporean schools
Eight of the schools are co-educational, one girls only and one boys only (Eton).
It had to happen sooner or later. Another outbreak of RDS6.
This time it was “the-recession-we-had-to-have” former PM Paul Keating. It seems that he has lost it completely.
In an address to university types, Mr. Keating, a born-again Sino-apologist, loudly vented his spleen against AUKUS and also railed against the Quad (a security dialogue between US, Japan, India and Australia), “it was a piece of nonsense” being his mildest comment. Readers will know that each of AUKUS and the Quad were borne from concern about Emperor Xi’s territorial ambitions.
Undaunted by his history of never criticising Emperor Xi for crushing freedom in Hong Kong, genocide of Uighurs, or militarisation of atolls in the South China Sea, former PM Paul Keating succumbed to RDS, and decided he needed a headline.
His logic, if there is any, seemed to centre around the fact that the US had not been “grateful” enough for Australia’s contribution to global affairs. This want of gratitude included any thanks for APEC, coincidently one of Mr. Keating’s legacies.
Wry & Dry makes no comment about Mr. Keating’s hurt feelings. But asks what did he want from America for Australia’s generally unwavering support: a kangaroo stamp?
This bout of RDS has also uncovered his (a) ignorance of the workings of the convoluted US political system; and (b) desire to live the present as if it were the past. The first is surprising for one who prides himself at being at the forefront of, well, almost everything. The second is a sure sign of senility.
6 Relevance Deprivation Syndrome
A delightful legal decision
On Wednesday, a jury in a civil trial in Connecticut showed what happens when the Make America Great Again narrative meets a legal system that requires sworn testimony and recognizes perjury as a crime.
Readers will recall that in 2012, 20 primary school children and six teachers died in what is called the Sandy Hook school shooting.
Conspiracy theorist and shock-jock media-populist Alex Jones insisted the massacre was a hoax and the victims’ families were actors, all part of a plot to create an excuse for confiscating guns. Jones’s followers have harassed the families ever since.
Jones’ company made hundreds of millions of dollars selling conspiracy paraphernalia.
Well, Jones must now pay US$965 million to the families of eight of those murdered and an FBI agent who responded to the shooting.
The enduring point is that Jones is one of those seriously deranged right-wing extremists who is happy to use all forms of media to spread conspiracy theories, lies and misinformation. These feed fuel to the fire lit by the Trumpster and his acolytes.
Sadly, polling from the Journal of Social and Political Psychology suggests that almost 20% of Americans believe high-profile mass shootings have been staged, usually by the government.
Ah, the land of the free and home of the brave.
Unclear on the concept
A wheelchair-bound Russian man with spinal muscular atrophy has been ordered to mobilise for the war in Ukraine.
Musk’s Twitter purchase: banks lose even before the gun
When Elon Musk decided, in better times, to buy Twitter, the banks were at the gate, begging to lend funds to The Great Man (TGM). As much as $13 billion was committed.
The chosen banks (including Morgan Stanley, Bank of America, Barclays and Mitsubishi UFJ) then got twitchy when the markets went pear-shaped in late May, as they would lose money as interest rates rose. The twitchiness stopped when TGM decided to pull the pin on the deal.
Agghhh, horror. TGM changes his mind, again. And the deal is back on. The banks originally agreed to fund the purchase even if they couldn’t sell the debt. Now it’s unlikely investors would want to buy the debt in the current markets.
The banks may now lose about $500 million if they had to sell the debt now. And if held on their books, it’s still a loss.
It’s a slow news day today. So Wry & Dry resorts to the gift that keeps on giving: Princess Princess and Princess Harry.
Apparently, Princess Princess is looking for a bigger home. The $14m home she has is “too humble”.
She is shopping for a “private estate” in Hope Ranch, an upmarket community a few miles from
her their current home California.
Royal people author Tina Brown observed that, “It’s not very pleasant to be a D-list celebrity who, for them, doesn’t have enough money. It’s a wholly different game to be with those super-rich people.”
“In Montecito, where they live, their $14 million mansion is a humble cottage compared to what these other people have. Yes, and at some point it might be more than a new house she’s looking for Elon Musk is still single, that’s all I have to say.”
Snippets from all over
1. Trumpster denied
The US Supreme Court on Thursday rejected a request from former President Donald J. Trump to intervene in the litigation over documents seized from his Florida estate. (New York Times).
Wry & Dry comments: This is quite a rebuke to him, especially as its decision was one sentence long.
2. Welcome to Kazakhstan
As Russians fearing conscription fled to the country’s borders, Kazakh president Kassym-Jomart Tokayev welcomed more than 200,000 of them, sympathising with their “hopeless” plight. (Financial Times)
Wry & Dry comments: Kazakhstan is the world’s largest land-locked country, with a population of about 19 millions. It dominates Central Asia, with massive oil, gas and other mineral resources. It has borders of 7,600 km and 2,200 km with Russia and China respectively. It was a part of the Soviet Union, but is now seeking to loosen those ties.
3. Tsar Vlad’s losses
Four Russian attack helicopters were shot down by Ukrainian forces in 18 minutes yesterday, officials in Kyiv said. (The Times)
Wry & Dry comments: And no helicopter insurance taken out.
4. Jacinda’s new tax
Jacinda Ardern’s plan to cut methane emissions by imposing a tax on New Zealand’s cows and sheep has provoked a furious reaction from the country’s farmers. (Financial Times)
Wry & Dry comments: Really?
5. The krona drops
Swedish climate activist Greta Thunberg says it is better for Germany to keep using nuclear power than restart coal plants. (Melbourne Age).
Wry & Dry comments: “Out of the mouths of babes…”
6. Sabotage halts German rail network
German police have launched an investigation into the act of sabotage on the country’s rail transport network that brought rail services across northern Germany to a halt. (Financial Times)
Wry & Dry comments: First the Nord 2 gas pipeline, now Germany’s rail network. Wry & Dry has joined the dots.
- US inflation was 8.2% in the year to end August, little changed from the previous 8.3%.
- UK unemployment rate fell to 3.5%, the lowest level since 1974.
- Singaporean life expectancy fell for the first time ever, to 83.5 years, from 83.7 years.
And, to soothe your troubled mind…
“…the Committee is a total “BUST” that has only served to further divide our Country which, by the way, is doing very badly – A laughing stock all over the World?”
- Donald Trump, former US President, reacting to the House Committee voting to subpoena him.
He should be subpoenaed for poor use of the English language, if nothing else.
PS The comments in Wry & Dry do not necessarily reflect those of First Samuel, its Directors or Associates.