Saturday, June 10, 2017

Northern where ...?

An interesting graphic from The Telegraph. There are three well-defined parts of the United Kingdom (plus London) following this week's General Election there.

Ehh ... there's no inclusion of Northern Ireland, on whose DUP MPs Teresa May is now depending so much to remain in government.

Sure, I know the Conservatives and the British Labour Party don't technically have party machines in NI, but just sayin'.

Monday, June 5, 2017

Trumpian diarrhoea and beautiful destruction

Donald Trump diarrhoeas tweets and silly statements, so it's very hard to stop and think too much about any single one of them before he trumps it with another. But one line from him after his visit to the Middle East gave me a particular chill.

It went something like, 'we have just concluded a deal with our Saudi friends to sell them $110 billion worth of weapons. Beautiful American weapons. Nobody makes them like the United States'.

Certainly, there can be a rather terrible beauty about the design of some weaponry, such as the intimidating symmetry of a fighter aeroplane's shape, the metallic sheen on a deadly handgun, the brief majesty of a ballistic missile as it lifts slowly from its launch pad before building up to supersonic speed and delivering its horrific payload of mass death and destruction.

But the Trumpet doesn't have, I think, the aesthetic consciousness to appreciate even any of that. No, his sense of beauty here was only the deal, of selling stuff. No matter that the stuff was designed for just one thing, to kill and maim, to destroy life and property. The 'beauty' was in the dollar signs that are imprinted on the American president's retinas, so that everything he sees is framed in that symbol.

I can't help feeling too that the same spoilt little boy who now lumbers around the White House is also itching to play with more of the 'beautiful' new toys that came with his current home. His 'lash out' temperament when he doesn't get his way is well established and doesn't bode well for when he faces a real international crisis, maybe with military, even nuclear confrontation aspects. His 'I do it because I can' attitude isn't what we need in the person who has the individual power to order nuclear annihilation.

The scary part is that he could do just that, without much hinderance. Those in line behind him don’t seem to have the capacity to rein him in. The mealy-mouthed, cringe-making introduction given by his vice-president when the Trumpet announced the US ‘we’re getting out’ departure from the Paris Accord on climate change doesn’t inspire confidence. And the Speaker of the House Paul Ryan isn’t in any way comforting on his grasp of the real world either.

For sure, there are still signs of rationality in the America that I’ve come to know, like and respect through many visits there. The reaction of key cities and industries to signal they will carry on with the spirit of the Paris Accord is one. The progress so far of the judiciary in becalming the Trumpet’s attempts to impose bans on Muslims travelling to the United States. The exceptionally strong and widespread work by the 'failing' news media to hold the president's utterances and actions to immediate public account and fact correction.

But this is a cunning man. And an amoral one, prepared to use everything at his disposal to spread both misinformation and malice, to make sure that the integrity and decency of those who oppose him is trashed in @realDonaldTrump twitterstorms and unashamedly twisted utterances by his spokespersons. And these are just the public actions ... who knows what's being done underneath the radar by a businessman who bragged about having deliberately turned up the volume of the music loudspeakers at Mar-a-Lago to 'bug the heck out of all of these so-and-sos' in Palm Beach 'who never wanted me around'? "I love cranking this music as loud as I can," he told his biographer.

Substitute cranking loudspeakers with setting the IRS on those who criticise or oppose him at home. Or putting in place FBI criminal investigations of them (if he finally gets a new boss of that organisation to replace the one he fired because he wouldn't do as he was told)? Or lobs a nuclear missile at North Korea because of something Kim Jong-il might slight him about?

(Actually, he mightn't do that last, because Kim is the same kind of person as himself — spoilt, authoritarian, narcissistic, petulant. On the other hand, maybe he would ... haven't we all seen like-minded petulant children throwing their toys at one another?)

The scary part is, he got elected even though most everyone in the world who gets to read or view the goings-on in the the United States could see him for what he is from long before the election. Boorish, arrogant, unable and unwilling to study beyond the sound/video snapchat of Fox News and, ultimately, totally incompetent and unsuitable for the highest office in his land. But then, much of his electorate comes from those worst affected by the bad side of the business world in which he had a gilded upbringing. They are the ones with least wealth, with the least hope, and with the least knowledge of anything that happens outside their own city, state, or nation. It's not their fault that they have been taken in by the Trumpet's rabble-rousing slogans and the theatrical histrionics of his campaign rallies. When you have little money or hope, you will latch onto anyone who offers you a cheap fix, even if that fix is unrealistic at best and more likely impossible. The other section of those who elected the Trumpet were the members of the Grand Old Party, Republicans prepared to prostitute their intelligence and what remained of their conscience for the sake of regaining the White House.

Actor and politician Arnold Schwarzenegger, reacting last week to the Paris Accord debacle in the White House Rose Garden, said among other things that the Trump Presidency is a 'hiccup' for America. Hopefully for the planet he's right. But in the meantime, who knows what the Trumpet will do in a hiccuping fit that lasts four years?

Watch out for one of those 'beautiful American weapons', coming through a sky near you ... as a little boy petulantly throws it from his high-chair because somebody refuses to give him what he wants. Such little boys don't take aim, you know, they just throw.