Mueller and May

March 30, 2019 Leave a comment

High Crimes or Misdemeanors?

It’s nearly a week since the Trump hand-picked attorney general released a highly edited and spun version of the Mueller report. The findings, if we’re to believe a man that helped cover up Iran-Contra, puts one of the most corrupt and venal presidents of all time in the clear. According to Barr, Trump did not collude with Russia. Russia interfered in the 2016 election in a most effective, devious, and subversive way, but according to this AG, it was nothing to do with the current office holder. This simply beggars belief. Until we see the full report, we have no idea if Mueller said there was insufficient evidence to proceed with prosecution or indeed the level of Trump’s involvement with Russia. When it came to obstruction of justice, Barr could only spin enough to say that the report does not exonerate Trump of this. Why did he fire Comey, and rubbish Mueller and his team for much of the last two years? This has to have been obstruction of justice, there are no other words for it.

The full Mueller report needs to be released immediately or leaked. It is completely unacceptable that an enquiry funded with public money into the gravest of matters concerning the governance of one of the world’s biggest democracies is censored, filleted, and manipulated by an official who took an oath to uphold the US constitution, but who has form performing cover ups for his political masters. If ‘Mueller’ gats side-lined, the Democrats are throwing everything into a last gasp 2020 election. This report was supposed to apply an effective brake on the authoritarian menace. If Mueller blinked, and we won’t know until we see the unexpurgated findings, then America is in profound trouble. Many commentators, including this one, put too much store in the report. This was not necessarily in the promotion of Mueller as some sort of Eliot Ness figure of moral probity, but simply because the circumstantial, documented, and intelligence evidence against Trumps seemed and seems damning. Other observers such as Peter Daou and Sarah Kendzior have said all along that there were flaws in the manner and duration of the investigation and that Mueller would not save America. Salvation will come from protest, mobilization, and voting.

There has been a macabre alliance between far left and Trumpian right to rubbish any Russia connection since the start. Well, some Democrats are not letting the matter slip away quietly. Adam Schiff and other patriots are going to keep investigating. The American people are owed a proper explanation as to how Trump was favoured by the Russians, why they’re still looking to sew chaos in the political system, and the protective veil in front of Trump’s finances needs to be pulled back. There are grounds for pessimism; trump controls the Sentate, which the Democrats’ need to impeach him. He controls the Supreme Court, which is needed to check his power. He looks unbound. But, and it’s no guarantee, if the Democrats can run a strong candidate in a free and fir election in 2020, the stand a good chance of winning and clearing out the Augean stables.

May’s Broken Britain

So Brexit Day has been and gone and no-one can say for sure how it’s all going to end. One of the main reasons this has transpired is down to the character and leadership of Theresa May. It is her determination to put party before country, to appease the right-wing ‘bastards’ (to use John Major’s words), and to plough on regardless of the 48% remain side of the population, that sees the United Kingdom in the sorry state it is today. While the massive remain protest last weekend showed the essentially urbane and civilized nature of the remain campaign, last night’s thugishness in Whitehall exhibited by Tommy Robinson supporters showed up *some* of the leave side as bigoted, fascistic, Trumpian, and dangerous.

May has announced she’s going early once Brexit is passed. Fine, but if her replacement is the disgracefully opportunistic Boris Johnson, the United Kingdom will have leapt from the frying pan into the fire. He is not to be trusted. It says everything about the mess the Conservatives are in that Johnson is among the favoured candidates to take over following May’s departure.

There may yet be light at the end of the tunnel in terms of a consensus for a Brexit in name only. Such a path would uphold the result of the 2016 referendum, yet also recognise there was no mandate for anything in that result apart from an inchoate and incoherent wish to leave the European Union. Or Article 50 may be revoked, or the UK may go crashing out without a deal, in which case, Johnson will be inheriting a broken state, and one that’s needlessly inflicted this on itself despite so many other chances to take a different path.

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Indpendents’ Day

February 24, 2019 Leave a comment

The news of the breakaway Independent Group has sent shockwaves through the British political system. The momentum – pun intended –  is with this ‘Remain’ group, and while they may not, in that overused but apt phrase, break the mould, they have shown that there’s a core centrist grouping in parliament that have had enough of the hard Labour left and Brextremist Tory right. Whether they succeed in changing Westminster politics or stopping Brexit remains to be seen, but they have shown the courage of their convictions in breaking with the parties that were their homes for decades.

Politics is a tribal business, and leaving the tribe can be both a gut wrenching and liberating experience. The calibre of the MPs – both Labour and Conservative – means that they are likely to be an articulate force for opposition and an attractive caucus for other parliamentarians to join. Crossing the floor is something that often happens in national emergencies; with Brexit, that point was reached with the referendum result. These MPs are already getting ‘the treatment’ on social media; they’ve clearly touched a nerve, and the vehemence and nature of some of the reaction to their departure shows they were right to make the move.

This is a good day for all who oppose the UK leaving the EU or those advocating a soft Brexit. Finally, there’s a cadre of MPs prepared to cut through all the bluster, obfuscation, confusion, and stubbornness on the issue. The Liberal Democrats will rightly argue that their party stands for this clear approach. However, the new grouping is a shot in the arm for the Remain cause, and shows that there are good men and women of all parties prepared to put country over ideology and do the right thing, even if it’s politically inexpedient to do so, in the short-term.

The last week has been good for the UK in general. There needs to be another serious look at voting system reform to allow for progressive, centre voices to get a real say in running the country. While this runs the risk of allowing for a UKIP-style party to get a foothold in the Commons, not doing so means our fear of extremism can stop us doing the right thing. Things are only going to get worse once Britain leaves the European Union as Scots and Londoners will grow to resent the voters of Middle England leading them down a path on which they have no wish to travel.

The formation of the Independent Group is also positive for democracy in general. Why should political parties be so tribal? Tribes can provide us with security and comfort but at some stage, to advance us both socially and in politics, we need to step outside of our tribes and enter the outside world. It may be less comfortable out there, but how else can we mature both as people and politically unless we, Spock-like, put reason over emotion, policy over loyalty, inclusion over enmity?

There is a majority in the Houses of Parliament for a soft Brexit and this grouping makes this more possible. Cabinet ministers have threatened to resign if May refuses to take No Deal off the table. Labour MPs have been fighting trench warfare to get a second referendum in play, and while both leaders are committed to leaving, influential Tory MPs and most Labour parliamentarians want either Brexit on a very soft basis with a customs union or Norway EFTA-type arrangement, or to recognise the monumental folly for what it is. The referendum was won on lies and the reckoning has been hard and harsh.

But there are still dangers of a Hard Brexit. Things happen. There are no Masters of the Universe pulling strings. Brexit passed, Trump got installed; really bad events transpire, and then we look back at the root causes and say that it was inevitable. No Deal would be terrible for the British electorate, while the wealthy advocates of this chaos for the masses can ride it out. There is no guarantee that the adults in the room will do the right thing, and we can end up with the catastrophe of the hardest of Brexits by accident.

The Independent Group are a small – so far – but influential voice for stability. The European parliamentary elections are coming up and due to a variety of reasons – among them, Russian interference, and the rise of the Ethno- Nationalism – it’s likely that parties on the extreme right will be in the ascendant. It is a welcome antidote to this noise to see public servants prepared to take a courageous stand and offer real leadership. They’ve taken back control in the real sense of the phrase. It’s time for other British politicians to put country first and party second. Or will the pull of the tribe be too strong?


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Lock him up!

January 27, 2019 Leave a comment

New year, and new indictments in the Mueller investigation. He struck again on a Friday, to the satisfaction of Russiagate watchers everywhere. The arrest of long-time associate and general schmuck about town, Roger Stone, will have spooked 45. This is as bad as his personal attorney being hauled before the courts, and in some ways worse, in that Stone and Trump go back decades together. If Michael Cohen knows where all the metaphorical bodies are buried, Stone and Trump metaphorically committed the murders. The FBI dawn raid of the tiny-handed one’s partner in crime was pleasing both on a law and order level, and from a karma perspective too, getting one back on the ‘Lock her up!’ chanters. Revenge is a dish best served cold, and the freaks, crooks, psychos, fascists, and flunkies are now being force-fed the first course.

How should we view the Stone connection? Firstly, it’s fair to assume that Trump was still in touch with him until fairly recently. Stone was, be it paid or unpaid, working for the POTUS behind the scenes. Secondly, this will have really spooked Trumpland as not only is the first citizen now under enormous pressure, but so is his immediate family. Donald Jnr and Jared Kushner are feeling the heat. Robert Mueller’s relentless search for the truth has put all in Trump’s circle on notice; co-operate with the special attorney, or be arrested and brought to trial. Despite the US Department of Justice precedent, the president himself may be indicted and face jail time, all in the next two to four years. Thirdly, Trump’s world of dirty money, bent lawyers, and uber-tacky braggadocio with zero taste, has many similarities with the behavoiur of the Mob. You’d have to be trying really hard not to be looking down on such people, and unfortunately, some Republicans who know better, are turning a blind eye.

Roger Stone typifies the darkness that’s been lurking in the underbelly (and visible) in the Republican party for the last four decades. The weight of the allegations against him and Trump is that they in essence organized a coup against the American people. Stone’s twitter presence is pure mob; threatening witnesses, intimidating reporters, lying with ease. He and Trump are like two peas in a pod. Both represent the US at its sleaziest. Not this writers observation alone, but there’s more than a hint of ‘The Sopranos’ about these guys in the way they conduct their business. They talk like the mob, act like them, and have the same ludicrous sense of swagger and status beloved of Tony, Paulie, and the rest of the hoodlums in the ‘Bada-Bing’. Stone’s sartorial sense has been much-mocked, and he bears more than a passing resemblance to ‘The Joker’. These gangsters have pulled of the greatest plot against America since the foundation of the republic, and they may still get away with it. Others are up to their necks in the conspiracy.

The scale of the coup is staggering. A crime syndicate has taken over the highest political office in the USA and has been able to bring millions along with them. It’s like one of those Star Trek ONS episodes where something’s gone awry in an earth-like planet. Whatever happened to Trump, there are tens of millions of Americans signed up to the idea of supporting a strong-man in US politics. Even if the Democrats retake the White House – which even at this stage, they’re still not sure of winning the Electoral College – there’s an army of voters out there who frankly don’t care for democratic norms. Trumpism has given them a voice, and they’re not going to go away quietly. Not every Trump voter has an authoritarian personality, but there are enough that do to make the restoration of constitutionalism in America an arduous task.

The USA is a mass of contradictions; one of which has been a constant struggle between a civilizing and barbaric form of political engagement, with the original sin of slavery having been the driving force for much of the roots of the politics of hate. American exceptionalism can easily spill over into nationalism and ethno-separatism. Trump and his ilk have exploited what has always been there; he’s looked to the lesser angels of people’s natures. The gangster is an archetypal figure in American popular culture, and the current president taps in to the wish many have to ‘get things done’, over protecting and enhancing constitutional rights. Mueller must lead to the president’s indictment if the USA believes that no one is above the law, no matter how powerful they happen to be. The hope is that justice will reign even though the heavens may fall. America needs its president to be impeached and face the consequences of his conduct over the years; the question is, is the system willing and able to save itself from itself?

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Rise of the American Far-Right & No Deal in Play

December 29, 2018 Leave a comment

Cry the beloved country

Trump ‘won’ in 2016 for many reasons. The quotation marks are added as his presidency will ultimately be seen as either an illegitimate blip between constitutional presidents, or the start of a Putin-esque ending of democratic norms in the US. One aspect that has been underplayed, perhaps at the expense of coverage of Russian interference, has been the role of white supremacists in his support base. By any objective standard, he ran a racist campaign. But he did not create the alt-right. The conditions were in place, and as David Neiwert argues in ‘Alt-America – The Rise of the Radical Right in the Age of Trump’, he was the figure that united all strands of the far-right in America. The contrast with his predecessor is stunning, and still at this stage, shocking. The election of a black president enraged the racist minority in America. When Obama was elected, they had a tangible target, one who energised their base.

Niewert is an expert in the murky and frightening world of militias, ‘patriots’, alt-right trolls, and extremist groups in the US. He outlines how the internet allowed such malignant, yet at times marginal groups, to move from stagnant, to culturally cutting-edge movements. There has been vicious racism in America since the founding fathers allowed the abomination of slavery to continue. But the hidden corners of the web acted as an encouraging compost heap for the regrowth of old hatreds. There is a hell of a lot of ‘the crazy’ in the USA, but this may have been contained on the margins were it not for the communications revolution. Alex Jones would just be some kook on the radio, rather than an influential fake-news peddler favoured by the occupant of the White House. We can’t put the genie back in the bottle. The information warfare favoured by the alt-right was innovative in the way it has adapted to new technology.

Incorporating Neo-Nazi ideology, to Richard Spencer, to the bizarre world of 8-chan meme-driven racism, the alt-right, as the loathsome Steve Bannon now typifies it, has sought to sugar the pill of their message. They will try to sell the notion of ethno-separatism as a pseudo-scientific endeavour. This is one reason that these people are so dangerous. They all believe that the white race is inherently superior to all others, and have hit the mainstream with the election of Trump. One can argue, as Niewert does, as the whether the current POTUS is a fascist or not. Fascists and racists saw him as their champion though. Once Bannon stepped into the Oval Office, it was, as the ‘New Yorker’ described it, and epochal event. It was a devastating setback for gradualism, for the notion that things get better, slowly but surely.

The author is fearful for democracy in his country, but he holds out for the essential decency of people. Most of us, thankfully, aren’t of an authoritarian mind-set. He argues for a politics that doesn’t shirk calling out racism and viciousness, but one that remembers the heartlands too. He does not give Trump’s swing states a pass for their ‘economic anxiety’, but he sees hope for the future, and like this writer, believes in the role of a ‘popular front’ in upholding democratic and constitutional values. This is an important book, one that skillfully synthesizes the different strands of old and new racism that are out there for the education of the reader. Niewert is to be commended for getting down into the shit for the rest of us, and warning us of the perils of burying our head in the sand to the dangers of this menace.

Preparing for the worst

Anyone in the United Kingdom who isn’t scared by the prospect of a no-deal Brexit is either very wealthy, and will be able to ride out the ensuing storm, or is ill-informed, through choice, or lack of interest, or sadly, in some cases, capacity to engage in critical thinking. There is nothing good about food or medicine shortages, about troops being on stand-by for unspecified duties, or planes that may be grounded, or the stranding of British citizens abroad, both physically, and legalistically. Yet the ERG group – made up of some very rich people indeed – keep assuring their voters that all will be well in the event of the UK crashing out of the European Union. This is a lie, as most of them know, or should know. A no-deal break will be bad for the EU, very bad for Ireland, but an absolute catastrophe for the United Kingdom of Great Britain and Northern Ireland. Both Labour and Tories refuse to face the reality that the best way out of this mess for their country is for parliament to reject the advisory referendum of 2016 and remain in the EU, or to have a ‘People’s Vote’. Don’t hold your breath on this one, though. British residents need to prepare for the worst, it might just happen.

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Containing the Chaos; Brexit, Trump, and Putin

November 27, 2018 Leave a comment

A Crunchy Brexit?

The 1980s band Spandau Ballet may not come tripping off the tongue in terms of coolness, but this writer can’t help thinking of their lyric ‘round and round it goes’ when it comes to Brexit. The British government have essentially wasted two years on a project that neither the civil service, business, nor possibly even the prime minister believe in. And where are we now? Theresa May is travelling around the United Kingdom trying to flog a deal that remainders see as an idiotic and unnecessary loss of rights and access, and one that the leavers see as a sell-out, a negotiated surrender to the European Union. She is likely to lose her vote on the matter and it could be a horrendous personal defeat for her of over 100 votes. The DUP have gone nuclear and said they won’t support the deal. There is no path to get over the line in parliament. In the words of the song, ‘and oh where it goes, nobody knows’. The easiest and most elegant solution is to have a double-lock of MPs and a second referendum to decide. But there’s nothing easy about this process. Brextremists and, their fellow travelers, will have a conniption if there’s a ‘People’s Vote’, and there’s no guarantee that such a plebiscite would go to the ‘Remain’ side (although it is looking more likely now). Britain will leave the European Union, but may do so on the softest of terms negotiated by a new government, or go crashing out with a no-deal. May cuts a lonely and pathetic figure who while admired many for her resilience, is, as evidenced by the 2017 general election, a deeply divisive figure, who is a vote-loser for her benighted party. Britain will not get a better deal from the EU, but it looks like it’s going to be impossible to get a Commons majority. The bluster and nonsense of the ‘Leave’ arguments and their proponents has been fully exposed. Nobody knows where this is going; there is no legislative and political bandwidth for anything else while the process continues. We are in the ‘Godot’ stage of the affair; waiting, questioning, and perhaps, ultimately, perpetually detained.

A New Hope?

This month’s mid-terms in the United States offer some grounds for pessimism and lots for optimism. On the former, the Republicans (read ‘Trump’) still control the Senate. This allows them to stymie any impeachment proceedings which may come about following the Mueller report. Then there’s the worrying prospect of Hail-to-the-thief winning the 2020 election (should he still be around) on a minority vote due to the anachronistic electoral college. But there are many more reasons to be cheerful than fearful. The much touted ‘blue wave’ did sweep over the country and the Democrats now control the House of Representatives in the biggest swing since Watergate times. They potentially have the power to subpoena Trump’s tax records and investigate the empty suit inside and out in the run up to the next presidential election. If Muller’s report essentially shows POTUS up as an opportunistic traitor, then the House could set the persuasive mood music to get enough Republican senators to flip to make impeachment a possibility (the odds on this are quite long at the moment though). These are very dangerous times for US democracy, as the recent replacement of AG Sessions has shown. But at least the opposition can move on from fire-fighting to containment, and eventually, prosecution. Trump must be ousted and needs to face the consequences of his high crimes; let’s hope that the tide has turned. The future of democracy throughout the world is at stake.

EU Army Threatens Putin Hegemony

Russia is on maneuvers again in Ukraine. Putin uses every opportunity to sow discord and nullify the advance of democracy on his territory. He is a thoroughly modern despot, availing of all technological means to plant division in the West. He got his stooge in the White House, and cannot believe his luck as to how democracies have been so vulnerable to his sometimes deadly mischief. He is a bully and bullies need to be stood up to. How best to do this?

President Macron’s recent proposal for a European army (an extension of previous rhetoric from EU integrationists over the years) has merit. The United States under Trump is not an ally and cannot be trusted. There is no guarantee that he, or someone worse, won’t be there in 2020. In times such as these, European solidarity is the only bulwark against Russian aggression and expansion. A future European military alliance outside of American control may be an end to the Atlanticists’ dreams, but could be the best solution in the long run to stall the march of neo-fascism. Such a view will be an anathema to many on the left, but this is where we are. Democracy is under fire, and must defend itself.

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Crucial Chance to Check the Trump Train

October 29, 2018 Leave a comment

The world is, in the words of O’Casey’s Captain Boyle, in a state of chassis. The victory of a fascist in all but name in Brazil’s recent presidential election should be a clarion call to those complacent about the comparative strength of the democratic ideal versus populist demagoguery. Brexit and Trump were a harbinger of things to come. But American voters have a chance to put a check on Trumpism in the upcoming mid-term elections. Assuming, and it’s an assumption that’s problematic, there’s a reasonably free and fair conducting of the vote, a significant part of the US electorate can start the healing by electing a blue wave of Democrats.

Even by US standards, the last month has been a turbulent and blood-soaked affair. There were two attacks by the far right, motivated by the hate-filled and conspiracy-driven behaviour of the president. The would-be assassin who sent pipe bombs to prominent Democrats turns out to have been – surprise, surprise – a fanatical Trump supporter living in Florida. The FBI has stated that these devices were viable IEDs. Then there was the appalling attack on a synagogue in Pittsburgh; 11 people dead, and the suspect confirmed as a super-user of the alt-right alternative to Twitter, Gab.

And what of Trump’s response? More of the same. His pattern has been to make perfunctory, speech-written, remarks of apparent consolation, surrounded by self-pitying phrases of denial and anger. He has been stoking this anger, this white rage, since 2015, and now the whirlwind is being reaped. His supporters are unwilling to accept reality, many of whom are now driven by a nonsensical pattern of conspiracy-led thought, blaming an otherwise obscure 1990s financier, George Soros, for much of the ills in America and globally. Trump still can’t, or doesn’t want to, grasp that he needs to speak for more than his base. When commentators urge him to do so, they must know that it’s like asking a leopard to change its spots.

Yet the rhetoric continues. Trump observers have noted how it doesn’t really matter that the world’s most powerful elected official has the vocabulary of a middle schooler, and the cognitive ability of the same. His supporters don’t care; in fact, it’s a bonus for a lot of them. The really dangerous ones just want to hear his anger. He is the rage-whisperer, channeling the prejudices and hatreds that his predecessor did so much to try to assuage. But how could Obama have cauterized what is the original sin of the American republic, racism? Trump’s words are lethal now and his unwillingness to pull back on his rhetoric, or what’s left of the GOP establishment to ostracize him, means, sadly, that there’s the potential for more Pittsburghs.

So much has happened in Trump’s last two years that it’s hard to keep up with all the scandals, outrages, stupidity and corruption. Writers such as Amy Siskind and Sarah Kendzior have noted the compelling and frightening similarities between what’s going on in America now, and the patterns and occurrences that befall authoritarian regimes. Both fear for the future of democracy in the US, and based on what’s happened before and since Trump’s victory, they are right to be concerned. We all should be. That’s why the mid-terms are so important. There’s a chance to slow down this runaway train before it careers off the rails. Never let it be said that you had the vote and didn’t use it.

Democrats have a strong chance of taking back control of the House of Representatives, and, on a good day, of winning the Senate. They really need to do both to put an effective block on Trump’s designs, and the best way to do this is to push for impeachment in Congress. Yet, the very mention of this is a taboo subject for most Democrats now. Such is the upside-down world of US politics, that calling for impeachment is considered as ‘extreme’ as calling the press ‘the enemy of the people’. If Beto O’Rourke wins in Texas, it could be a great night for the Democrats and democracy though.

Have things been this bad before in America? Those who remember will tell you that 1968 was worse. The murders of Dr King and Bobby Kennedy caused a psychic damage to the system that in some ways hasn’t healed. It’s as though the wounds of ’68 have been reopened and exploited. Trumpism relies on fear and hatred; he cannot rule as unifier because this would negate the very essence of his success. Like Milton’s Lucifer, for Trump it is ‘better to reign in Hell than serve in Heaven’. There’s an opportunity for the real moral majority in America, those who stand for progress over fear, to change history. Let’s hope they grab this with both hands; the alternative is unpalatable.

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Brexit Divisions and Ridiculing Trump

September 26, 2018 Leave a comment

Labour Brexit Tensions

Labour’s stance on the Brexit was, until this week, as impenetrable as the Schleswig-Holstein question of old; there were few, if any, who understood what the position was any more. But with the quiet diplomacy of Kier Starmer, and other Remain campaigners, it seems that Labour have now accepted, in principle, that a second referendum could take place. This is a huge win for Remainers who have been up against both a hard left hostility to the EU and a sizable amount of MPs whose constituents voted to leave. It seems that most Labour voters and members would like to see a second ‘people’s vote’, if only to settle the question once and for all. Jeremy Corbyn today seemed to draw the line at any Labour support for a No Deal or Hard Brexit. This has to be welcomed as a positive move. It means that that while Corbyn may be lukewarm towards the concept of the four freedoms, and an ever strengthening union, he recognizes, at least publicly, the economic risk of going it alone. The Irish border is still at the physical and metaphorical front-line of the Brexit conundrum. While 80% of the negotiations may be done or doable, there is a border between the European Union and Brexitland that cannot be wished away, despite what former foreign secretary Boris Johnson might say. Labour has pinned its flag to the mast, somewhat. It is up to those who realise that there can be no implementation of most of the Labour policy agenda if the United Kingdom leaves the EU under the hardest terms. The party leadership may still want to leave, but the membership, in a reversal of recent years, may force Corbyn to sail in a different direction. For the sake of his voters, and people looking for a meaningful change of government, he must do so.

Tory Right and Brexit – where they stand now?

While Labour may finally be seeing some sense on Brexit, the same cannot be said for the Conservative party. Theresa May is in an impossible position. She’s unable to meet the main minimum demands of the EU negotiators without alienating the hard right of her party. These Leave Fundamentalists are a mixture of cynics, know-nothings, and English nationalists, most of whom are wealthy enough to ride out the worst of Brexits. May might think she is being clever, or agile, but her constrained position means she has little or zero room for maneuver. She must know, as an intelligent woman, that there are few or no foreseeable circumstances where Britain thrives outside the trading bloc and social union of the EU. But she must maintain the façade that there are more upsides that downsides as she leads her country over the precipice. A real leader would have sought a cross-party consensus on arguably the greatest issue facing her nation since Dunkirk. But she tacked to the right, with both the DUP, and to her own ‘headbanger’ contingent, thankfully still in the minority as Tory MPs, but a substantial one at that. British politics has not been this polarised in over 30 years, and what a time for it to be so. The Conservatives used to call themselves the party of business; it is hard to do so now with the CBI and the top industrialists warning of the consequences of leaving the European Union, and particularly of leaving the union with no deal in place. May can still do her duty and bring her country into the softest of soft exits. Nothing good will come of crashing out.

Trump and the UN

The United Nations General Assembly is not somewhere one associates with mocking laughter, but so it came to pass, when Trump addressed assembled world leaders and diplomats. When he tried to boast in his usual manner that his last two years had been highly successful, the delegates, for the most part, saw through his nonsense and bluster. They laughed. They didn’t boo, or heckle, or walk out; they laughed. Such a reaction may not always be appropriate, and Trump is still a very dangerous individual. But in this instance, it was perfect. There’s nothing bullies hate more than to be at the butt of a joke. Trump has a poor sense of humour and is notoriously touchy and sensitive to the slightest critcisism. By all means, mockery should be a weapon of choice in the arsenal of democracy. Laugh at his pomposity, his pathology as an inveterate liar, his chosen ignorance. Have disdain for his inflated sense of intelligence, and remember how ridiculous this often frightening man is. If only his own party, the so-called Republicans, would see him for what he really is. Roll on Robert Mueller’s final act, because the joker-in-chief needs to meet his Bruce Wayne.



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