Enjoy Wry & Dry: a cynical and irreverent blend of politics, economics and life.
Ten stories you may have missed
- Trumpster: diary
- Everywhere: is Palestinian solidarity a mask for anti-Semitism?
- US: Albo’s straining belt-buckle
- Washington: adults at last
- Philippines: the US cavalry is ready
- US: yet another one
- Russia: Kremlin denies Tsar Vlad’s heart attack
- OECD: raise taxes
- France: surpassing themselves
- Russia: another death by falling from a great height
1. Trumpster: diary
Florida. Played golf with some champion golfers. An Irish fella called McIlroy, a chick from South Korea, Jin Young Ko and bloke named Tiger something. I WON!
New Hampshire. Spoke at a rally. Told them “I don’t mind being Nelson Mandela.” I am willing to GO TO JAIL to defend democracy. Mandela was a patriot, like me. India should be proud of him.
Georgia. Traitor! That makes four. Jenna Ellis, one of my lawyers! Pleaded guilty to those politically motivated charges about trying to overturn the stolen election. RACKETEERING! What lies. What a turncoat is she. A real skunk. That leaves 15 of us true believers left to defend the constitution. And do as I say.
Washington. Told I didn’t get an invitation to the dinner for the Aussie President, Tony Albaneeze. RIDICULOUS! I know more about Austria than that senile president of ours. I’ve even skied there.
New York. UN-AMERICAN. That deranged judge in charge of those made-up charges about my companies. Fined me $10,000 for ‘violating an order not to criticise his staff.’ NO FREE SPEECH.
Washington. Perfect. One of my
puppets friends has been elected Speaker of the House. A WIN FOR DEMOCRACY. Mike ‘Johnno’ Johnson bravely led a failed legal challenge to overturn the results of the STOLEN election. He will do as I say. Reminder: give more to his re-election fund, as I promised.
2. Everywhere: is Palestinian solidarity a mask for anti-Semitism?
Why is it that when Palestinians living in Yarmouk, a refugee camp, in Syria were besieged by the Assad regime there were no demonstrations around the world in support of them?
Over 5,500 Palestinians died during the war. No-one rallied for them, much less bells tolled for them. Where were the university students, chanting with placards raised, wanting death to the oppressors?
Arab versus Palestinian is one thing, but it seems that Jew versus Palestinian is another. Views and responses seem fixed and mostly intransigent.
And the sure sign of the reality is not the chants decrying Zionism, but Judaism. The vile and threatening words from the mouths of pro-Palestinian protesters in Sydney and Melbourne about their wishes for Jews ripped the facade. It wasn’t about the plight of Palestinians. It was about Jews.
This is not to not weep for the Gazans, whose plight is worsened by their ideological masters: Hamas. Nor to condone the political belligerence of the Israeli PM.
It is to call out those who are far from the centre for their ignorance and prejudice. And their desire for mindless mass expressions of emotions more likely found in a Nurenberg rally.
3. US: Albo’s straining belt buckle
Albo’s waistline is under pressure. Overseas travel for politicians is an eat-athon, and Albo has two weeks of it.
He has had generous hospitality in the US this week. Americans have a national trait: self-hospitality, that has led to over 70% of Americans being overweight. Albo-watchers will be checking when he returns to Oz to see if the belt buckle has eased a notch.
Things in China will be much different. The trip is shorter, and with less time with senior Chinese officials. And it will be perfunctory. Emperor Eleven will meet with Albo just to say nice things and to ensure that there is no interruption to Australia’s export of iron ore. And then it will be back to meet with economic officials to try and understand why the Chinese economy is bogged in the sand.
And make no mistake, Emperor Eleven will not be giving Albo a lavish state dinner. It will be jiaozi, mantou and noodles from the corner shop.
4. Washington: adults at last
It has taken three weeks for the grown men and women of the US Republican party in the House to act like adults. Well sort of.
They have finally agreed on who should be Speaker of the House (a seriously important role). Mike Johnson, a hitherto unknown representative from Louisiana, got the unenviable gig of herding the cats, rats, snakes and peacocks in the Republican menagerie.
Johnson is a right-wing social conservative (against same-sex marriage, abortion past 15 weeks, sexually-oriented education), from one of the nation’s poorest districts. That district voted overwhelmingly for the Trumpster. He (Johnson) sued to throw out the 2020 presidential election result in four states (he lost).
It seems that he got the gig because he didn’t have any enemies. And that he’s a policy-sort-of person. He is opposed to any more aid to Ukraine, but will support aid and weapons to Israel. Oh, he loves weapons – he is in favour of more lax gun-control in the US.
Whether he can negotiate the stalled funding bill over the line remains to be seen. The world is watching.
5. Philippines: US cavalry ready
Readers know that the modus operandi of autocrats is to push and push. Until someone pushes back. Memories of Churchill: “Each one hopes that if he feeds the crocodile enough, the crocodile will eat him last.”
Well, it looks as though the Philippines has had enough of Emperor Eleven’s maritime colonialism of the South China Sea.
Emperor Eleven has claimed most of the South China Sea as being part of China. And thus the economic rights, inter alia, of everything within the boundary shown below. This covers not only the militarisation of shoals and atolls, but also all the fish within the boundary, Mandarin speaking or otherwise.
In 2016, it was announced that the Philippines action against China under the United Nations Convention on the Law of the Sea had succeeded. China had no right to all that area of the South China Sea. Emperor Eleven ignored the ruling.
Since President Ferdinand Marcos Jr took office in June 2022 and revived the Philippines’ alliance with the US, Filipino authorities have become more aggressive in contesting China’s actions in the South China Sea. Inevitably, Chinese coast guard ships have pushed back against this push back. To the point of last week when one of them rammed a Filipino ship.
Emperor Eleven, of course, denied the charge.
Sleepy Joe has been stirred into action, saying that the US will defend the Philippines in case of an attack by Emperor Eleven’s forces.
As he might. The 1951 Mutual Defence Treaty binds the US and the Philippines to defending each other if attacked.
Emperor Eleven is not silly enough to attack the former US colony. Just to continue to pester and harass.
6. US: yet another one
The news was sickening. Yet another US mass shooting. Eighteen people killed in sleepy Maine. The below chart does not need an explanation.
7. Moscow: Kremlin denies a Tsar Vlad heart attack
“The report of my death was an exaggeration.”1
And so said Tsar Vlad this week. Russian Telegram channel SVR General claimed that Tsar Vlad “was gravely ill and unlikely to live until the end of (northern) autumn.”
The channel also claimed that it were Tsar Vlad’s body double who “held a phone conversation with the Brazilian President.”
Err, why use a body double for phone call? So ended the ruse.
1 Mark Twain. It were his cousin who was gravely ill.
8. OECD: raise taxes
The boffins at the OECD have presented their usual annual wish-list of suggestions to Grim Chalmers on how to better manage the public purse. The usual suspects are there:
- Impose GST on education, healthcare, food and water
- Increase GST
- No tax-free superannuation2
- Impose inheritance tax
- Raise retirement age to 70
- Tax windfall commodity profits and set aside to repay debt
On the other side of the income statement, its major concern was the blowout in the cost of the NDIS.
The problem with sensible ideas (as some of these are) is many would be ‘courageous decisions’. The last government to make a courageous decision was Howard/ Costello and the tax reforms of 1998.3 Every government since has lacked spine: Rudd, Gillard, Abbott, Turnbull and Morrison.
Albo and Grim Chalmers appear to have the spine of Aurelia aurita, the common moon jellyfish.
2 Earnings on the first $1.9m in retirement is tax free.
3 Howard/ Costello took the extensive tax-reforms to the election. The Labor opposition furiously opposed the GST, but lost the election. Labor now actively supports the GST. Curiously, the various Hawke/Keating reforms didn’t need to go to the people, as they were supported by the Coalition.
9. France: surpassing themselves
Similarly to Sleepy Joe, M Macron is an accomplished performer on the international stage – if somewhat Gallic. That is, a desire to be a blend of martyr and superhero. Readers will recall his much publicised negotiating efforts with Tsar Vlad after the latter coveted his neighbour’s land.4
But domestically, also like Sleepy Joe, he is now struggling. As many as 73% of French people are losing confidence in the French government’s ability to maintain law and order amid rising gun crime and fears of terrorism.
Not surprisingly, almost 90% of respondents believe that law and order has deteriorated in ‘deprived neighbourhoods.’ This is code for areas of high immigrant populations.
M Macron has told his Prime Minister, Elisabeth Bourne, to get onto the front foot. She wants a law to force young delinquents to be placed in “secure educational units” and in certain cases for them to be under military command so they “learn discipline and to surpass themselves”.
“Surpass themselves?” How does that work?
4 The only outcome of the negotiation session was the splendid photo of M Macron at one end of 20 metre table and Tsar Vlad at the other.
10. Russia: Another death by falling from a great height
It is possible that Tsar Vlad still hasn’t worked out why so many people in Russia die from falling from a great height?
Perhaps more safety barriers are required. Or a ban on openable apartment windows.
Y’see, another person whom Tsar Vlad wishes to, well, permanently vanish, has vanished. Falling “from a height.” The words “a height” are intentionally vague. Are they speaking of, perhaps 15 floors? Or just five?
Actually, it doesn’t matter. As long as the landing zone has the density of concrete and the elevation of the commencement of the fall greater than about three metres, the outcome is certain.
And so Olga Nazarenko, a well-known Russian anti-war protester, came to meet her maker some two weeks ago, although the event was only announced on Monday,
She joins a long line of Russians who had just two things in common: (a) public/ influential opposition to Tsar Vlad; and (b) death by accidently falling from a great height.
Snippets from all over
1. Weight loss deals
Novo Nordisk and Eli Lilly have broken records for deals for weight-loss drugs this year, buying a series of biotechs in a bid to ensure that their dominance in the fast-growing market lasts for years. (Bloomberg)
Wry & Dry comments: Novo Nordisk, a Danish company, is now the largest in Europe. Eli Lilly is now the world’s largest pharmaceutical company.
2. EV nirvana
Toyota says it is close to being able to manufacture next-generation solid-state batteries at the same rate as existing batteries for electric vehicles, marking a milestone in the global race to commercialise the technology. (Financial Times)
Wry & Dry comments: If successful, Toyota’s EVs will have a range of 1,200 kilometres and a charging time of 10 minutes. Toyota says it’s five years away. But it has been saying that for 10 years.
3. Sweden on the cusp of Nato membership
Turkey’s President Recep Tayyip Erdoğan has submitted Sweden’s Nato accession bid for ratification by Turkey’s parliament, bringing the Scandinavian country one step closer to joining the western military alliance. (Financial Times)
Wry & Dry comments: The Sultan wrung as much out of this as he could.
4. US overwhelmed
Historically high numbers of people are illegally entering the U.S., straining an immigration system already overwhelmed by the number of families coming across the border to request asylum. (Wall Street Journal)
Wry & Dry comments: US border agents made 2.05 million arrests in the 12 months ended 30 September. Time for the Vice President to, well, do something.
5. Pratt and the Trumpster
Anthony Pratt, one of Australia’s wealthiest men, made his way into Donald Trump’s inner circle with money and flattery. What he heard there has become of interest to federal prosecutors. (New York Times)
Wry & Dry comments: The apple didn’t fall far from the tree.
6. China’s indoctrination starts early
China has passed a new law imposing “patriotic education” on the country’s schools, making it mandatory for teachers to promote “love of the motherland” and illegal for them question the version of history propagated by the Chinese Communist Party. (The Times)
Wry & Dry comments: “Give me a child until he is seven and he will be mine for life.”
- Australia: inflation rose 1.2% in September quarter, much higher than expected.
- Europe: ECB leaves interest rates unchanged for the first time in 16 months.
- US: GDP growth rose to 4.9% in the year to September, up from 2.1% to the June quarter.
- US: Auto loans at least 60 days past due rose to 6.1% in September, the highest since records began in 1994.
And, to soothe your troubled mind…
“The failing New York Times story … about a red haired weirdo from Australia, named Anthony Pratt, is Fake News.”
Donald Trump, responding to a media story that he revealed military secrets to Anthony Pratt, the Australian billionaire maker of cardboard packaging.
The Trumpster might have been unhappy with Mr. Pratt because a secret recording released in Australian media quoted the latter as, well, trashing the Trumpster.
PS The comments in Wry & Dry do not necessarily reflect those of First Samuel, its Directors or Associates.
PPS Patrick Cook, Wry & Dry’s resident cartoonist and lampoonist is taking a vacation. His amazing wit will return next week.