June 29, 2016

Much as I predicted, less than a week after the referendum the financial markets are already recovering the modest losses resulting from the initial political uncertainty:

Pressure has eased on UK financial markets after two days of turmoil in the wake of the Brexit vote, with the FTSE 100 share index closing higher.

In a month or so it will be business as usual, with both the UK and the EU countries repositioning themselves to face the new economic reality. But how different will it really be? The UK products which are competitive will still find buyers on the continent and elsewhere and the ones which only survived on EU subsidies will disappear. Good riddance! As long as all players allow the market forces to take the lead the whole Brexit affair will turn out to be an economic non-event. If (or rather: when) that happens will the “experts” prophesising economic melt-down and recession in the UK:

Leaving the European Union would tip the UK into a year-long recession, with up to 820,000 jobs lost within two years, Chancellor George Osborne says. Publishing Treasury analysis he said a Leave vote would cause an “immediate and profound” economic shock, with growth between 3% and 6% lower.

lose their cushy jobs? Time will tell but I suspect they will just move on to comment on the economic impact of global warming by 2100, the costs of “inequality” and “gender gap” or some other imponderable nonsense.

So we know that the UK will be leaving the EU but will the Euro-apparatchiks take this blow to their beloved Marxist creation on the chin and just quietly move on? It does not appear so:

A central figure in the Leave campaign, UK Independence Party (UKIP) leader Nigel Farage, was booed, called a liar and accused of using “Nazi propaganda”.

The EU-philes are now resorting to personal attacks against those who channelled and facilitated the collective will of the Brits. It is ironic that the worshippers of democracy gathered in the European Parliament scoff at the democratic decision made by the citizens of one of its member states. So is democracy only good when it promotes Marxist collectivism? In any case the UK PM David Cameron is keen to make the transition smooth and painless:

“I’ll be explaining that Britain will be leaving the European Union but I want that process to be as constructive as possible,” he told reporters before the summit’s working dinner in Brussels.

This presumably means initiating informal negotiations, in preparation for the official withdrawal from the EU. But Angela Merkel will have none of that:

The German Chancellor, Angela Merkel, has said there can be no talks on Brexit before the UK formally begins the process of leaving the EU.

Her confrontational stance is aimed at discouraging other states from leaving the EU by making the transition costly for the UK. This belligerent tactic is very short-sighted and will backfire against Ms Merkel who is now styling herself as a head bully of the EU.

The way the Brexit drama plays out will provide us with both entertainment and reflection for months to come.






Democracy under attack

May 23, 2016

You may have heard that with the resurgence of the right-wing politics in Europe the democracy is being threatened. Sadly, this observation is correct. One recent example of the anti-democratic tendencies in the political life of Europe comes from the birth place of one Adolf Hitler – Austria.

You see, Austria held democratic presidential elections in which the leader of the right-wing Freedom Party appears to have won the mandate. The Austrians expressed their democratic right, enshrined in the Austrian laws and (one would have thought) supported by the EU. However, in an act of unprecedented anti-democratic interference:

The presidents of the European Commission and the European Parliament, Jean-Claude Juncker and Martin Schulz, have both expressed concern over a Hofer victory.

It is crucial to understand that Messrs Juncker and Schulz were not concerned that the Austrian elections have been rigged – they were concerned that the democratic choice of the Austrian people did not align with their preferences! The events in Austria come on top of the disgraceful attack by a mob of left-wing thugs on a conference organised by Alternative fur Deutschland (AfD):

About 1,000 police were deployed to keep supporters apart from left-wing protesters, who blocked roads, burned tyres and threw firecrackers. (…) A police spokesman said protesters threw stones at officers and let off fireworks in their direction. 

AfD are a perfectly legal political party which exercised their democratic right to congregate, when attacked. This time, unlike during the New Years events in Hamburg, the police were out in force and managed to control the rioting mob allowing the conference to continue.

You may also be aware of the violent attacks against the Donald Trump supporters in the USA (for example here and here).

I have no doubt that all the progressive lefties who have been going on and on about the need to protect democracy in the West – you know, the Assange and Snowden admirers – will now come out swinging against the anti-democratic actions of their mates.

Or will they?



Told ya

May 19, 2016

Da-boss went on record before  with a claim that climate change may be less of a threat to humanity than a number of other, little publicised scenarios like superbugs.

I am not buying into the argument that because some analyses indicate potential for catastrophic warming by 2100 we as a humanity should automatically commit all available resources to combat this particular (perceived) threat. There is any number of possible scenarios which might spell doom to mankind and we have to prioritise based on the credibility of individual threats. Other serious contenders are for example (…) Super-bugs

What I did not know is how much more deadly microbes resistant to antibiotics are likely to be than global warming but a recently published piece of research is a good starting point for this comparison. The article on the BBC website summarises the findings of the Review on Antimicrobial Resistance which started in 2014:

The review says the situation will get only worse with 10 million people predicted to die every year from resistant infections by 2050. And the financial cost to economies of drug resistance will add up to $100 trillion (£70 trillion) by the mid-point of the century. (…) Lord Jim O’Neill, the economist who led the global review, told the BBC: (…) “If we don’t solve the problem we are heading to the dark ages, we will have a lot of people dying.”

This is a very sobering prospect which we cannot afford to ignore. The problem is a lot of contingency funding in the national budgets has already been committed to fighting another threat to humanity – global warming. So how do the two scenarios compare in terms of their lethality? How deadly climate change is likely to be by mid-century? WHO has a factsheet which quantifies it:

Between 2030 and 2050, climate change is expected to cause approximately 250 000 additional deaths per year, from malnutrition, malaria, diarrhoea and heat stress.

The direct damage costs to health (i.e. excluding costs in health-determining sectors such as agriculture and water and sanitation), is estimated to be between US$ 2-4 billion/year by 2030

So there we have it. The pet cause of the environmentalists climbing oil rigs and vandalising gas stations is likely to kill 250 000 a year while drug resistance in bugs which few people worry about can cause up to 40 times more deaths. Another quote from my previous post sums it up:

All of this does not mean that the AGW is a fantasy but, being only one of many possible global threats, it should compete for the contingency funding with other nasty scenarios like accidental release of smallpox virus, emergence of drug-resistant E.coli etc. Instead, AGW has become the only thing activists obsess about, which is dangerously narrow-minded.



The Brave New World of Holland

May 17, 2016

A while ago I wrote about the experiences of the female journalist who investigated the leading New Zealand surrogacy website:

Before I go into what she found there let me ask you what you think about surrogacy. You may believe it is a noble idea of helping the couples who would like to become parents but cannot conceive naturally. This is what I thought before reading the article but the reality is much more complex. The forum described in the article was full of people who wanted to experience the joys of parenting outside what is normally understood as a traditional family. (…) I think we should stop and think what this really means in the context of the social reality around us.

Looks like, in the light of the recent developments in the Netherlands, there is one more social innovation we should collectively stop and think about. Quoting from the News:

When we think about euthanasia, many of us picture an elderly person. They’ve had many good years, but an illness has ruined their quality of life. They’re in pain, and they want to end things on their own terms. For many people, this is an easy concept to accept. But a recent case in the Netherlands is getting a lot of media attention, and it’s troubling ethicists. A sexual abuse victim in her 20s was allowed to go ahead with assisted suicide as she was suffering from “incurable” post-traumatic-stress disorder (PTSD), according to the Dutch Euthanasia Commission.

There is a wealth of angles here and good on the News for exploring them:

Nikki Kenward, from disability rights group Distant Voices, said: “It is both horrifying and worrying that mental health professionals could regard euthanasia in any form as an answer to the complex and deep wounds that result from sexual abuse.”

UK Labour MP, Robert Flello said: “It almost sends the message that if you are the victim of abuse, and as a result you get a mental illness, you are punished by being killed, that the punishment for the crime of being a victim is death.


Assisting a victim of sexual abuse to commit suicide sounds dodgy, does it not? At least some psychiatrists agree:


Australian psychiatrist and mental health campaigner Professor Ian Hickie echoed these sentiments, labelling the girl’s euthanasia “entirely inappropriate”. “It makes all sorts of poorly substantiated assumptions about causation, available treatments, supportive care and prognosis. It really demonstrates how the current concepts around euthanasia cannot be applied to mental illness”.


But maybe this was just an isolated case of a euthanasia request approved on the grounds of serious mental illness? Apparently not:


Beyond the example of the 20-year-old, there is an overall rise in the number of people with mental illness using voluntary euthanasia in Holland. Whereas just two people had themselves euthanised in the country in 2010 due to an “insufferable” mental illness, 56 people did so last year.


According to some this is not necessarily a bad thing:


While euthanasia opponents find this statistic alarming, Dr Nitschke has the opposite response, and finds the figures “reassuring”. “It shows that in Holland there is the acknowledgment that serious mental suffering can be as debilitating as physical illness and should not be excluded from the option of an elective death to finally end their suffering. The increase reflects the growing acceptance of this within the medical profession”.


So should euthanasia be available to all those who want to take this option?


Nitschke (…) told The Guardian, “the reality is, a portion of our population will suicide and I don’t think we should make it so hard. We need to acknowledge that suffering comes in many forms and if a rational person sees death as a solution, it’s their decision, it should be respected”.


My pick is that within our lifetime euthanasia will go the way of other social innovations like abortion and elective surrogacy. From a last resort desperate measure it will become a universally accepted lifestyle option – though “lifestyle” may not be an ideal term to use here. The incremental mechanism which will lead to this outcome has been described in my post on pushing the social boundaries. It is only a matter of time.



What was Donald’s trump card? (2)

May 5, 2016

To understand why Donald Trump is so popular among the American electorate – and also why the mainstream media completely misjudged the level of public support for him – let us take a look at an article published in Huffington Post after the Indiana primaries:

Happy first day of a half year of living with the possibility (however remote we have to believe it to be in order to stay sane) that Donald Trump — this crass and crude boor, this bloodthirsty psychopath, this Brobdingnagian narcissist, this proudly misogynistic ignoramus, this pus-filled boil of hate, this odious short-fingered vulgarian — could be the 45th President of the United States.

Now, I do not know Mr Slansky for a bar of soap but this is a vile, deranged, vulgar verbal assault. That a foul, abusive outburst like this even got published is a testament to the general attitude of the people controlling the contents of the media. It does not however reflect the mood of the American public at large. Wherein lies the problem.

As I wrote in March 2016:

I do not have a horse in the US presidential race but Trump’s willingness to openly talk about things other politicians consider off-limits is refreshing

Trump’s meteoric rise to prominence shows that I am not the only person sick to the back teeth of the politically correct garbage coming from the politicians. But this rift between the political elites and grass-root US was only allowed to develop because the media cozied up with Washington and became a de facto part of the official establishment. The American public is disillusioned not only with the tedious, visionless politics of their elected representatives but also with the media blind to the frustrations of the electorate. You would think that the editors have learned from the recent events but obviously they have not because all we are getting from them is more patronising. The way things are going it is not Trump but the likes of Huffington Post becoming irrelevant.

The most succinct and insightful analysis of the current situation I have come across was recently published in the UK’s tabloid, Mirror. It summarises the reasons why Trump is so popular in five bullet points:

He’s a TV star

He’s straight-talking

He’s a Washington outsider

He’s funding his own campaign

He dislikes immigrants

Like it or lump it, the American public is fed up with professional politicians eloquently spouting sleek phrases which sound comforting but carry no meaning. They are also over the self-important media telling them what to think and say. No prizes for guessing that da-boss has a degree of sympathy for both these sentiments.


What was Donald’s trump card? (1)

May 5, 2016

First, congratulations to Donald Trump for winning the Republican nomination. He did it against heavy odds – in a truly American style dare I say! In this post I will look at the reasons behind his popular appeal and also at the way the media covered his remarkable rise to prominence.

Over the last 11 months we have been treated to a campaign of attacks against Donald Trump orchestrated by the left-leaning media (which these days includes pretty much all media, bar some independent internet based news services). Trump was demonised as racist, bigot, liar, misogynist, sexist, ignoramus, Islamophobe – you name it and the epithet was probably used against him by someone somewhere. To make absolutely sure no sane American would ever considered voting for him a series of articles prophesising his imminent demise was published in print and online. A handy reference of these embarrassingly biased predictions is reproduced here for your enjoyment:

“Our emphatic prediction is simply that Trump will not win the nomination. It’s not even clear that he’s trying to do so.” (Nate Silver, FiveThirtyEight, Aug. 11)

“Historians looking back will peg the beginning of the end of the Trump show to his New Hampshire moment last week.” (Arianna Huffington, Huffington Post, Sept. 22)

“Trump has every right to run. This is a democracy after all. But what he should not get is covered as though this is an even-close-to-serious attempt to either win the Republican nomination or influence the conversation in GOP circles in any significant way. It’s not.” (Chris Cillizza, The Fix, June 17)

“The chance of his winning [the] nomination and election is exactly zero.” (James Fallows, the Atlantic magazine, July 13)

“Trump is no more going to actually win the nomination than Sanders is.” (Matthew Yglesias, Vox, Aug. 5)

“Trump is toast after insult: ‘McCain not a war hero.'” (New York Post cover, July 19)

“Donald Trump is going to lose because he is crazy.” (Jonathan Chait, New York magazine, Aug. 26)

“When the primaries arrive early next year, the Trump vote will subdivide further among the other Republican tortoises. If he stays in, Donald Trump becomes another presidential also-ran. With ostentation suitable to his stature, Mr. Trump should retire to a skybox, and enjoy what he has wrought.” (Daniel Henninger, Wall Street Journal, Sept. 30)

“Donald Trump is not going to be the next president of the United States. This reporter is already on record pledging to eat a bag of rusty nails if the real estate tycoon with the high hair manages to snag the GOP nomination, much less takes down likely Democratic nominee Hillary Clinton next fall.” (Ben White, CNBC, July 17)

“Now, seriously, does anyone other than The Donald truly believe his fame and fortune are going to get him anywhere in a Republican presidential primary, let alone a general election? His candidacy has been a joke from the start. He makes for great copy, but so did Jack the Ripper.” (Peter Fenn, U.S. News & World Report, July 20)

“We’re told from (pretty much) every analyst out there — liberal, conservative, doesn’t matter — to not take Trump seriously, and they’re right.” (Joe Concha, Mediaite, July 9)

“It’s going to be Rubio. I’m telling you: It’s going to be Rubio.” (David Brooks, New York Times columnist on NBC, Jan. 24)

Topping it all off is the delightfully idiotic statement by Dana Milbank who is now preparing to eat the paper it was printed on:

Trump will lose, or I will eat this column

I realise that opinion pieces in the media are there to stir up interests and generate discussion but how could so many leading journalists and commentators get their predictions so consistently wrong over such a long period of time? How come they could not see what was coming?

What was Donald’s trump card? (2)


The Chernobyl nature reserve

May 2, 2016

To those used to the doom and gloom reporting surrounding the Chernobyl disaster this article may come as a surprise:

The exclusion zone around the Chernobyl nuclear plant, which was evacuated in 1986 after a devastating explosion and fire, has become a wildlife haven on a par with heavily-protected nature reserves, scientists have found.

A detailed survey of the huge forested area around the stricken plant has revealed that it is teeming with large animals such elk, roe deer, red deer, wild boar and wolves despite being contaminated with radioactive fallout

Even more encouragingly:

The scientists found no evidence to support earlier studies suggesting that wildlife in the region had suffered from the radiation released after the Chernobyl accident of 1986


The absence of human activity in the exclusion zone has benefited the wildlife of the region more than any possible damage it may have suffered as a result of coming into contact with radioactive elements, the researchers said.

So, to sum it all up, we now know that the hysterical predictions made by the likes of Greenpeace were politically motivated bollocks – the wildlife around Chernobyl is doing remarkably well. The main threat to nature is not exotic nuclear contamination but rather humans going about their everyday lives. But don’t tell this to the greenies who, instead of advocating to eliminate nuclear power, might want to eliminate humanity…



Confessions of a coffee addict

April 2, 2016

After years of denial the time has come to admit what those close to me already know: my coffee consumption is out of hand. To get some positives out of this situation I decided to share my ratings of the coffeehouse chains operating in New Zealand, for the benefit of the blog readers.

Drinking coffee is a total experience engaging all the senses and it is not easy to get the package right. Taste, texture and temperature of the brownish broth all have to be perfect. My favourite fix, trim flat white, adds the extra challenge of a low fat milk which will not hide the imperfections with a buttery richness of full milk. So is it even realistic to expect a consistently good service from commercial coffee chains?

My absolutely favourite coffee brand in New Zealand is Columbus. I regularly visit three of their franchises and have yet to be disappointed. The taste and texture are consistently top notch, as is the presentation. That their large cup is only NZD4.80 is an added bonus. The Columbus trim flat white consistently earns 7 to 8 out of 10 in my ranking. Well done.

The tier below is occupied by two franchises which deliver very different styles of coffee – Starbucks and Coffee Club. The Starbucks product is smoother and more balanced while Coffee Club typically delivers a bit of bite but both are perfectly drinkable. While more expensive than Columbus – the large cup at Starbucks and Coffee Club costs close to NZD6 – I rate them both at around 6.

A notch below (but well above some specialised coffee outlets) is good ol’ MacDonald’s. Stay away from their filter coffee but the barista flat white is quite respectable. More in the Starbucks “safe” style although not quite as cultured so maybe a 5. Available 24/7 even in drive through which is a huge advantage.

There are also two coffee brands I rate around 5 which do not have their own retail franchises – Allpress and L’affare. Both sell their roasted beans to small independent cafes and lunchbars which serve it their own way. While the overall experience will vary depending on the outlet operator Allpress and L’affare coffee usually does not disappoint in terms of taste. A notch below them in the same segment of the market are two other coffee roasters – Atomic and Karajoz.

The most disappointing flat white experience I had at a major franchise in New Zealand was Esquire Coffee House. It was so bad the first time round I had to try again to make sure this was not a one off. Sadly, the second time was even worse and I cannot believe how Esquire manage to survive in the crowded market for quality coffee outlets.

In case you are wondering – I have had a few 9s at various outlets over the years but no franchise can consistently deliver coffee that good. Yet to taste a perfect 10!

Off to get my fix now 🙂



Is the West busy living or busy dying?

March 24, 2016

In the aftermath of the Brussels bombings the Western media pore over trivialities like the timeframe of the attacks, hash tags supporting Belgium, share market reactions etc. Missing from the public debate is a discussion of the reasons why a political bloc of 500 million well-educated Europeans ended up fighting what amounts to a civil war with the cultural invaders embedded deep in its body. As usual, da-boss is only too happy to fill this information gap for you!

As mentioned in another post“A culture amounts to a set of values complete with the population willing to uphold them”. Absent one of these a culture disintegrates. The West is in a doubly precarious situation because its shrinking population seems unwilling to uphold any values apart from the selfish, hedonistic brand of freedom. Tragically, the understanding that civilisations fall when cultures underpinning them rot has also been lost as the corpse of once-great Europe is inching its way towards oblivion.

The most fundamental reason Europe is on its knees is that it lost the confidence in being the most advanced and humanistic culture on offer. It lost pride in its historic achievements and any vision for the future. It lost the competitiveness in manufacture and commerce. It lost the edge created by the urge of its inhabitants to achieve greatness in their lives. It lost the willingness to defend what it stands for – partly because it does not stand for much these days. In short, the West has lost the will to live. Distracted by secondary issues like gender equality, cultural sensitivity or apologising for the historic wrongs it is blind to the processes which will soon make worrying about such subtleties an unaffordable luxury. What is on display is a suicidal example of muddled, leftist thinking ushered in by decades of prosperity.

Inside the straight jacket of political correctness and multi-culturalism there is no way for Europe as we know it to defend its identity. Anyone warning that the Muslim immigrants aspire to values incompatible with the Western ways will be branded a racist. Those advocating taking action to fight the threat will be viewed as fascists. Europe, out of misconceived charity, has created a set of advanced social rules which will not protect it from a cultural and demographic assault by the adherents of less humanistic but more robust values. In Brussels and elsewhere the police wear body armour and the Islamists don explosive vests showing the difference in the value systems they adopt – one protecting life and the other destroying it.

I am afraid that the gloomy scenarios I have been describing on this blog for the last four years are now becoming a reality.


To TPPA or not to TPPA?

March 14, 2016

Assessing an agreement like TPPA is an exercise in the economy of thinking. It is next to impossible for someone without background in economy (and a lot of time on their hands!) to fully analyse such a complex multi-layered document and understand all its implications. When facing challenges like this I personally use intellectual shortcuts which provide a reasonable idea where things are at without me having to spend an inordinate amount of time on studying the issue.

I first look at the big picture – by that I mean mainly where the proposal is placed in the spectrum spanning between individual freedom and government control. Since I naturally support “freedom friendly” solutions this in itself is a good indication what a more detailed study of the issue would reveal. An alternative expression of the above polarity is defined by how a proposal relates to the concept of income redistribution, where I tend to favour “you own your income” side of the argument. It is very clear that TPPA, being a free-trade agreement, eliminates government regulation which is a tick in my book.

Then I try to analyse the overall, aggregated impact of a proposal on all sides involved – a size-of-pie type assessment. It is tempting to think that life is a zero-sums game but quite often the decisions we make have either overwhelmingly positive or largely negative consequences. Restrictions to free trade have a detrimental impact on the global economy because the goods end up produced not where it is economically justified but rather where consumers manage to protect their national industries with tariffs. I guess the Icelanders could grow grapes but they would be more expensive than the ones imported from Greece. Icelandic grape-growers would benefit from tariffs but their compatriots would all be out of pocket (along with the Greeks) which means more losers than winners in this particular scenario. Applying similar logic, TPPA gets a second tick.

But it would be arrogant for me to rely solely on my own judgement, particularly when analysing processes I do not fully comprehend. Since every man and his dog have a view on TPPA which ones can one trust? Well, I have identified one particular source of opinions which has historically been in polar opposition to my own convictions – it is the official stance of the NZ Greens Party. On issues ranging from minimum wage and oil exploration to whaling the Greens pronouncements have always gone against what I consider common sense so it stands to reason that their view on TPPA should also be the opposite of mine. This is a third tick.

It would be great to have time and intellectual capacity to get to the bottom of every issue before forming an opinion on it but this is simply not realistic. Life throws up challenges every day and one needs to respond to them with limited information at one’s disposal. I, for one, like TPPA.



Is democracy bipolar?

March 14, 2016

So the Germanwings pilot who deliberately crashed his plane in March 2015 killing all 150 on board appears to have been suffering from severe depression. The information about the illness was not available to his employers because of the privacy laws. These laws are meant to prevent the discrimination of people with mental or other illnesses in the workplace. It has to be said that in this particular case the laws worked a treat – the suicidal pilot was allowed to fly so the workplace discrimination was successfully prevented. A minor downside is that the plane ended up embedded in the side of a mountain but this should not unduly worry the privacy advocates, should it?

The report into the causes of the crash now recommends that the privacy laws be relaxed to allow the airlines better access to their pilots medical records. In a masterpiece of Orwellian logic:

 A union representing German pilots welcomed the recommendations as a “balanced package of measures”, but it said strict rules on data protection needed to be developed in conjunction with criteria for suspending confidentiality rules.

So yes, there should be more access to the medical records but only if there is more data protection. I believe that, considering the current public mood, some waivers of the privacy laws will probably get implemented. Then the conspiratorial faction of the unions will kick up a fuss about the workplace discrimination and, with the support of the loopy Greens, bring back the protection of the medical data from the prying eyes of the employers. And then another nutter will sit behind the rudder of an airliner…

This spectacle – fits of tightening and relaxing of the privacy laws – has been going on for as long as we had democracy in the West. Laws introduced as a knee-jerk reaction to tragic incidents get diluted over time to appease the more paranoid/anarchist/anti-government faction of the voters. There is no long-term view adopted on which provisions best suit the interests of the public; just a series of convulsive changes driven by lobby groups. The media obligingly report the proceedings so the public will be subjected to the alternating scares of unsafe pilots and spying employers. Is there a better way?

Well, how about the airlines deciding how much they want to know about the pilots they are looking at employing and then letting us know the standards they apply? One airline might require access to full medical records and even carry out occasional drug detection and psychological tests of their pilots. Another airline would employ anyone with a valid license to fly. Having been informed about the above recruiting rules – which airline would you choose to fly with?

N.B. I have written on da-boss about the nutty medical rules for pilots before

Has Donald trumped John Key?

March 1, 2016

The New Zealand Herald has joined the orchestrated worldwide effort by the left wing media to discredit Donald Trump. Here are the links to five pieces published on their website in the last few days:

That’s why Trump represents such a remarkable danger to the broader Republican Party as its presidential nominee. It’s not that he has controversial views. (He does.) It’s that he is totally unpredictable and undisciplined, careening wildly off message on a minute-by-minute basis

The barbarian is no longer at the gate. He’s inside the castle and heading for the throne room. (…) Trump’s vulgarity and the undercurrent of violence in his rhetoric – this week he declared he wanted to punch a protester in the face – locate him in popular culture rather than politics.

When he launched his campaign at a New York hotel and allegedly used paid actors to clap and cheer, I figured he wouldn’t last more than a few weeks. When he pledged to build a border wall, accused Mexicans of being rapists and criminals, fell out with Univision, NBC and – surely not – Fox News, I was convinced each blow would be fatal.

A plague has descended on the party in the form of the most successful demagogue-charlatan in the history of US politics. The party searches desperately for the cause and the remedy without realising that, like Oedipus, it is the party itself that brought on this.

I’d like to argue that with Trump, such statements are a kind of pandering rhetoric designed to woo frustrated voters. But these are strange times in American politics, ominous and foreboding in the dark patterns they trace of populist, fanatic and misguided movements of the past.

Every day it is less surprising that Trump does best in the areas of the country with the most racist Google searches. There is no way to look at Trump’s record and not conclude he is perfectly happy to ride nativists and racists as far as they will take him.

You might say that these are all opinion pieces and an independent newspaper in a free country is well within its rights to publish them. Fair enough but there are also people who intensely dislike Hillary Clinton. Has the Herald printed any articles referring to her as a dangerous person, renegade outlaw, loose cannon, barbarian, monster? Why do the supposedly neutral world media constantly have a go at only one of the hopefuls in the US presidential election? There are people who genuinely believe that Trump is the best candidate to occupy the White House. Why are their voices not given airtime? If Trump emerges as a Republican nominee or even the future US president, should this not be celebrated by the democracy junkies in the media? Or is democracy only good when it promotes politically correct flakes but not straight talkers like Trump?

I do not have a horse in the US presidential race but Trump’s willingness to openly talk about things other politicians consider off-limits is refreshing. This is in fact why the World media universally condemn him – to avoid having to deal with the inconvenient issues like immigration or radical Islam. But Trump thrives on controversy so the propaganda effort to “expose” his views is counter-productive. The socialist zealots in the media cannot see it and just follow a flowchart in their “spot the neo-con” manual. Trump is so popular precisely because people want to hear someone speak in a way not requiring a degree in public relations to understand. Even better if what that person has to say is relevant. Donald Trump ticks both boxes so the media efforts to derail his campaign by exposing his views is bound to fail.

In New Zealand a similar tactic has been used by the media against the Prime Minister John Key. Like him or lump him John Key is a remarkably successful politician and a popular public figure. At least part of his PR phenomenon is due to a sustained media campaign to discredit him. Just like in the case of Donald Trump, the stories invented by the editors of the newspapers to take down John Key have repeatedly failed to get any traction. The ugly truth is that the mainstream New Zealand likes John Key because he is real and talks like a guy next door and not a trained parrot. Also, not unlike Trump, he is a self-made man who can afford not to give a toss about the perks which come with the public service job. Might this be another reason why the editors of the newspapers, whose salaries are handsomely outsized by their egos, hate him so much?

Donald Trump