How should a Principled Conservative vote in America?

David Koch

David Koch

Generally I have nothing but contempt, fear and loathing for those who characterise themselves as conservative and even more so for the American variety whose vote generally goes to the Republican Party.

In fact, as the picture of David Koch above shows, in reality most of American politics on the right is dominated by David and Charles Koch, the billionaire brothers whose malevolent influence on the world it is difficult to overstate. However, for those who are interested in finding out more there is a review of a book about them, Dark Money: The Hidden History of the Billionaires Behind the Rise of the Radical Right, reviewed in the New York Review of Books and Rolling Stone. Essentially, it is no coincidence that the agenda and ideology of the American right is so in tune with its billionaire paymasters.

However, the Koch agenda, supported by Murdoch and Fox News, has been sabotaged on the right by Donald Trump who by making a virtue of not taking money from the usual paymasters is able to (kind of) articulate the frustrations, rage and anger of those in America who believe (often mistakenly) that conservative politics speaks for them. As has now been said many times by many commentators, those who support Trump don’t have much sympathy or support for libertarian capitalism, have a fairly unsophisticated understanding of Biblical fundamentalism and, in truth, are more cannon fodder than soldiers in the American Right’s march towards total dominance. They support low taxes but not when their jobs and livelihood are affected. They hate big government, but quite like state largesse when it helps them. And most of all they know only too well who they hate, which, as Donald Trump, has made clear are mostly foreigners, immigrants and big business (when it tramples over them and their local community).

But let’s imagine for a moment that there is such a thing as a principled conservative in America. Let’s imagine that this is a person who has right-wing convictions as a result of agonised reflection, having seriously considered all the arguments for and against. This is a person whose views coincide with the current trends of American reactionary ideology, based on Heidegger’s and Ayn Rand’s notions of libertarianism, coloured with enough religious fundamentalism to not be a total nutjob, in support of the interests of big business but in a kind of responsible thoughtful way (not at all influenced by the propaganda of the Koch brothers), and a rational and indeed reasonable supporter of the Tea Party and yet not at all racist, xenophobic or mentally deficient.

How will this principled conservative, much feted by the conservative American media, choose to vote in the coming elections?

At the moment the choice is between the last remaining ‘establishment’ candidate, Marco Rubio, who is getting the lion’s share of the Koch funds and the two depraved and unprincipled populists, Ted Cruz and Donald Trump. Of Cruz and Trump, it is actually Cruz who is the most loathsome, and apparently just as much in person as he is ideologically. Even conservatives hate him. And Donald Trump is right to attack Ted Cruz for his underhand and deceitful campaigning. It’s just that Trump is the only one bold enough to say so.

So, this conservative looks like he can only vote for Marco Rubio unless he truly believes that an impenetrable wall paid for (willingly) by the Mexican government will solve their immigration issue and that depriving Americans of what little state sponsored health care will somehow benefit them (and not the Insurance companies). But Marco Rubio’s a real shit too: only looking moderate in comparison with the others. Not so long ago, his platform would have been considered ridiculously reactionary, but in an America inured to extremism by Fox News, the Bush presidency and the Koch’s billions (not to mention the complicity of America’s fawning media) the man seems the best chance there is for that rational, reasonably, deliberating conservative.

Though, of course, in truth, there’s only been one candidate in the US elections who isn’t a conservative and that person is Bernie Sanders.

Although I’d like to say otherwise, it looks less and less likely that Americans will, for the first time since FDR, be faced with a genuine choice in the coming presidential election.

So, I’d have thought that this principled conservative should vote, given the opportunity, for the least extreme conservative candidate in the American elections for the person who will most represent their interests and still actively promote the big businesses that finance her campaign.

And that conservative candidate can only be Hillary Clinton.


Gravitational Waves

Gravitational Waves

Gravitational Waves

I get the sense that the recent discovery of a means of measuring Gravitational Waves hasn’t attracted the same interest as the discovery of the Higg’s Boson or the discovery of Homo naledi or the excitement of landing on a comet, but it’s pretty impressive stuff.

And the least reason for this isn’t the tool by which it was done, which was to measure the difference between the time it took for laser beams to bounce along two perpendicular 4 km metal bars. The sensitivity of the detectors are absolutely mind-boggling but they have to be given the relatively small distortion in space a far away black hole event will have at this distance (and time difference). I imagine it was far more intense closer to the black holes that were detected: perhaps enough to be observable without special equipment.

Why is the discovery important?

Well, one reason is more mundane but still important, that we now have a means by which we can detect gravitational perturbations that may be much closer to home. For instance, one could imagine it being used to analyse the internal workings of the inside of our planet or for detecting deep-sea submarines (yet further making a total waste of money anything spent on such vanity projects as Trident).

In scientific terms, we should now be able to detect events from the start of the universe until the moment at which the first visible light was generated by the nuclear fusion inside a star. We already know that much of the early universe was very different. Stars were larger. Galaxies more amorphous. And a complete absence of all but the lightest elements. Now we shall discover what was going on before there were stars, before atoms like Hydrogen and Helium assembled and when the universe was much smaller and much hotter.

We also now have a tool to study black holes and other astronomical entities that leave no visible trace of their existence.

All in all, it’s pretty exciting.


Crystal Passion

Pub Gig - John PF

Pub Gig – John PF

The above picture by John PF heralds the publication of the first chapter of my new novel Crystal Passion. It’s a fourteen chapter novel about a British band of musicians who in the 1990s go on tour in America.

There are several notable things about Crystal Passion. One is that the band has rather a lot of members and that all of them, including Crystal Passion herself, are women. Another is that, in this story, Crystal Passion is now posthumously very famous and well-respected whereas at the time of the tour they were virtually unknown, even in the UK.

The novel is partly about how fame and fortune can elude musicians at the peak of their productive life, as it has for Nick Drake, Rodriguez and Robert Johnson, but also about the mythologising of artists’ lives and reputations. The novel is also about the 1990s and that period of time just before the internet, mobile phones and the music industry took its modern shape. And, of course, it is about the differences between Britain and America, which is at least as pronounced now as it was in the 1990s.

It also gives me an opportunity to write a novel full of musical references where I can throw in my more personal experiences and opinions. It is some kind of companion piece to my short stories CreamfieldsExcess and How HIgh the Moon, though I deliberately avoid making the Crystal Passion’s music Dance, Rock or Jazz.

The novel is notable for being written in the first person which is very unusual for me. With the exception of Omega and I Remember Erewhon, I’ve mostly written in the third person. My view is that there has to be a good reason to write a story from the first person perspective, because it is deliberately very limiting and it also opens up fiction to the trope of the unreliable narrator which can sometimes be a good thing and sometimes not. In the case of Crystal Passion the narrator is Pebbles, the band’s keyboard player, and the reason for writing in the first person is that it gives an opportunity to couch the story exclusively from her point of view and allow her prejudices slant the narrative in one direction rather than another.

I’ve posted the first chapter of the novel to my website and also to Literotica and Stories OnLine. Although I think it’s a pretty good novel (I would say that), I don’t expect it’ll be a firm favourite on either site. That was far more likely to happen to the Anomaly Trilogy and  my various Sex Fantasies, but I live in the hope that some of the regular readers might enjoy Crystal Passion.