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Trump Attacks on the Press, Corbyn’s Purge

January 25, 2018 Leave a comment

Trump’s Dangerous Game

The recent arrest of a right wing extremist for planning a massacre of CNN journalists in their corporate headquarters should be a massive wake up call to any still complacent about Trump’s war on the press. He has attacked the fourth estate in virulent terms for much of the last two years.

The press in the US is far from perfect. The New York Times ran with the ludicrously over-hyped Clinton email story, putting it equal to, or above in importance, to Trump’s collusion with Russia. But responsible journalists, and much of the oft maligned main stream media, have tried to hold power to account, to react as quickly as possible to a daily torrent of lies from the White House, and to try to make sense of a president that is a stranger to the truth. Reporters who try to do their job are under siege, and things could get worse before they get better.

As the Mueller investigation leads towards what many see as its’ eventual denouement, namely the collection and presentation of a vast amount of evidence against 45 and his team of hucksters, the attacks on the credibility of the press will increase. The official spokeswoman degrades here office every time she opens her mouth. In a country with tens of millions of guns, she raises the threat level of journalists closing in on her boss. But she is just her master’s voice. Behind it all, terrified of a lifetime of lying finally being unravelled, sits the illegitimate president.

He likes countries where the press does the bidding of the powerful. He prefers leaders who neuter their critics. By allowing conspiracy theory websites and Breitbart into the briefing room, he is actively promoting the alternative facts one of his court jesters was so rightly derided for advocating. He is what he is, and will never change. Republicans on the Hill, however, should, and do, know better. Theirs is the failure of leadership, of any form of moral courage, in their failure to speak out. The noble exceptions do not gainsay the rule.

The worry is that Trump has so stoked up the hornets’ nest of NRA and white supremacy in the USA, that even his departure, and/or impeachment, which while not inevitable, is likely, will fail to stop attacks on the press move up the scale, from verbal, to fatal. America is better than this. Unfortunately, a large part of it isn’t.

Let the Moderates be Left (Alone)

The hard left of the Labour party is in the ascendant. The party’s national executive committee is being taken over by former Militant Tendency sympathisers. The battle the soft left thought had been fought and won in the 1980s is on again.

The party has always been a broad church. From the Russell Square Fabians, to the Durham Miners, there’s been a span of class, culture, wealth, and education within the movement. Kinnock did the heavy lifting against the Trots, and laid the way for the liberal democracy of the Blair years. The achievements of Blair and Brown were significant, and worthy. But Iraq was fatal to the New Labour legacy. Many activists genuinely wanted greater party democracy and some were even prepared to give Jeremy Corbyn, that unlikeliest of leaders, a chance. The results of the 2017 election will have left those activists satisfied with the way thing are going.

But at what price? There’s already talk of a ‘hit-list’ of Labour moderates. The hard left is openly calling for their de-selection. The critics of the leader are in real political danger. Some have resigned, some are focusing on Brexit as a way of channelling their energy away from internecine fighting. They are up against it. The hard left know how to take power at local level and hold on to it. When targeting a local branch, life just becomes to unpleasant for on the ground members and moderate representatives. Many will just leave.

The Corbynistas may prefer to be a party of the streets than one of parliament. But that is not where the history of Labour lies. The coalition that the party was founded on included trade unions, liberals, intellectuals, Christian socialists, and radicals. Parliament was where the great strides of the Atlee government were made, where Wilson encouraged the white heat of technology, where Blair gave more money in real terms to the NHS than ever before. The parliamentarians who drove these changes weren’t doctrinaire Marxists or supporters of the radical-chic. They were mainly centre left MPs who saw change as being mostly democratic rather than revolutionary,

The last two years has been ludicrously unstable in western democracies. While the cobbled together Tory administration seems to stagger from one crisis to the next, who would say for definite that Jeremy Corbyn will one day be Prime Minister? But even if he does become PM, the ends of achieving that do not justify the means of purging the moderates.

 

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The Year of Resistance

December 28, 2017 Leave a comment

If 2016 was a shock to the Enlightenment virtues of reason, evidence-based opinion, and human rights, then the last twelve months have been a further test of those values, and to what extent the advance of the darkness has been abated.

In US politics, Trump was as bad as many of us had feared. He is being held in check – just about – by the societal pillars of the press, the judiciary, political opposition, and the resistance of ordinary citizens. The Mueller investigation may either be the saving of American democracy, or the noble last stand of it, but without it, and the threat of ultimate sanction, Trump would be even worse. There’s a cruelty and avarice at the heart of the man; he will do what he can if he can get away with it. He is not a normal politician. Trump worships money; that’s one of the main reasons he in so in thrall to Putin. It’s not just espionage or ties of interests; he admires a man richer than himself, his Godfather. Constitutionalists must hope that the year ahead sees the fall of 45.

The Democrats have been hitting back. Virginia, and Alabama point the way. Good candidates and effective organization show how they can win back power. It should be a good 2018 for them. Critics emphasizing divisions within the party need to focus on only one goal over the medium term; bringing an end to Trump’s dangerous authoritarian rule. The Dems should be extremely limited in their co-operation with the Republicans. The Bernie and the Hillary wings need to accept that neither should run in 2020, and liberals and leftists must work together. A tall order perhaps? Not necessarily. The national campaign could be a blend of Obama centre-leftism and a tilt to the Bernie Democrats. But that does not preclude ‘moderate’ candidates in more conservative districts. You run horses for courses.

It’s been a bad year, overall, for Theresa May. She threw away, what was at one stage, a 20 point opinion poll lead over Labour. Her decision to call a snap election was disastrous and her indulgence of the Brexiters and consequent reliance on the DUP for political survival, has exposed her weakness. But she’s had a good end to 2017. Her progress on Brexit negotiations buys her more time. It looks increasingly like the Tory Right is – for the moment – content to let her run the course for the duration of the ‘divorce’ talks. She is an administrator-politician, and not always successful at that. Yet, with Conservative support stabilising at about the same level as last June, it’s hard to see an immediate advantage to Boris Johnson making a leadership challenge; she is weak, but not weak enough to be imminently vulnerable.

What a year for Jeremy Corbyn. He surprised nearly all the pundits with a remarkable electoral performance. What had seemed like hype and hysteria was proven to be correct; the vast crowds he was getting at rallies, and the rock-star adulation he was receiving from the young, was reflected in a dramatic rise in turn-out from younger voters, who as a demographic, voted Labour overwhelmingly. He proved his critics wrong. There are people around Corbyn who don’t bear up to closer examination; their leader shares many of these beliefs. The party is changing; the pre-2017 heavy-hitters have seen their previous government or front-bench roles performed by their Corbyn loyalist successors with more competence than many had expected. The two major parties are led by leaders who are generally apathetic about Europe. It is the biggest issue in Britain since WWII, yet neither seems to have a clear strategy.

It hasn’t been a great twelve months for the Liberal Democrats. 2017 should have been their year. They were the Remainer party. But Tim Farron was unable to capitalise on this sentiment. They face a challenge in rebuilding in this parliamentary term. British politics is still in tumult.

The battleground for the fight back in 2017 was in France and Germany. In the latter, despite the rise of the hard-right AfB, Angela Merkel returned as Chancellor. While there was an initial wobble during coalition negotiations, there will be a Germany ruled from the centre, and for the foreseeable future, by a politician whom it is fair to say is holding the line for the West. In France, Emmanuel Macron engaged in a no-holds barred debate with Marine Le Pen, won hands down, and was comfortably elected the youngest president of this great nation. The stakes in that election were massive. Austria, Hungary, and the Czech Republic are now cuckoos in the nest of the EU. If France had fallen, then the world would have been a very frightening place.

The year was bad, but we got through it. The optimists would say the push-back has begun; the war has turned. The global situation is too fluid to make predictions. But the year ahead will see more or the same; democracy, and the resilience of the system being tested, and more resistance.

 

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Momentum, Trump Lies, and Brexit Cries

November 28, 2017 Leave a comment

Labour’s Difficult Momentum

The hard left of the Labour Party looks like tightening its grip following a successful outing for Jeremy Corbyn at the last British general election. Not all members of Momentum are militants but those shouting the loudest are. The section of the party that was assumed to have been killed off by Neil Kinnock and New Labour has risen from the ground, to assume key leadership positions in the opposition party. Momentum is looking for a loyalty pledge and they’re in the process of forcing out candidates, councilors, and parliamentarians who don’t bend the knee to the prophet Jeremy. There are Stalinists and Trotskyites at the top of the party now, and they’ll fight hard to maintain their positions. It’s going to become harder for even the Ed Miliband wing to secure a foothold.

This is a worst case scenario. But the wheels are in motion. It may be that British politics needs a radical response to Brexit; the hung parliament with the two main English parties at implacable polarities means that compromise is unlikely. ‘Centrism’ has become a phrase of disdain. Sometimes, though, consensus is essential. It worked well for Britain post-war and succeeded in much of the 1990s. Labour is going through a very similar process as the Democrats in the US where an uncompromising left would rather lose than concede ground to their internal political opponents; they’re losing sight of who the enemy really is. It may well be time to do the unthinkable; time for the Labour MPs who are serious about governing to join with other progressives in forming a new party. Despite the history of the SDP, there is an essential requirement that the voters feel able to trust in a party that matches their views; they may never get this under Jeremy Corbyn, and they are not getting it from the market fundamentalist Tories England is suffering a crisis of leadership that may take a generation to recover from.

Trump Fake Views To Break News

Trump has been attacking the Press again. This time it was CNN. He knows it plays well with his base. But he also knows that the more he can spread the term ‘fake news’, the more he can move America towards being a society where the Fourth Estate is no longer about holding the powerful to account. Media moguls already threaten the ability of the American media to make the system work. We need only look to Russia under Putin to see how once independent journalism is undermined, a chilling effect takes over. Yes, reporters have not been murdered and military law has not been declared by a Trump regime. But it doesn’t have to happen like that. Instead, Trump and his followers have tried to tie up the time and resources of the media as the Press seek to get to the bottom of the motivation for his latest outrage. At least some broadcasters are starting to be more critical. But there are others who in the interests of balance – balance! – try to explain that a clearly racist or fascistic statement by the President of the USA may have some other raison d’être.  Usually, if he’s been caught lying red-handed, there shouldn’t be any other explanation of his behavior. He is no grand strategist, but someone seeking to divert and distort to self-aggrandize and save his own skin. He is still getting a pass from some who should know better. Mueller is on Trump’s trail and this writer still believes things will end badly for 45. He will do everything he can to muddy the waters and distort democratic norms. He is a menace to global stability.

Little England Expects

The Little Englander mentality is one that gives this writer, with his love of London, and admiration of a great strain of decency in British culture, no joy to write about. Theirs is the outlook of the colonial, be that the romanticism of an explorer, or the cynicism of an imperial chauvinist. They do not believe in a pooled sovereignty or in the notion of a greater Europe. For them, these are notions that question the very nature of what it means to be English (for you won’t find most of the Celtic fringe wanting to leave the EU). No, it is the Tory who is nice to his neighbours, as long as that neighbor is one of them. It is a sense of a misunderstood historical narrative; lied to by their betters, and also by themselves. It is a fiction of an unbroken success of an island nation that not that long ago ruled the world. It’s also is a notion shared by conservatives in other lands that things have gotten worse, they used to be better, and the times themselves used to be a lot simpler. Don’t tell them of complexities or nuance; theirs is an uncomplicated Utopia.

Of course there’s no Utopia. No promised land. The Germans, the French, the Dutch and the Spanish may not be ‘like us’, but there are more things that unite us than divide us. There is an issue with left denying cultural identities just as there is an issue with the political right doing so, But it is the Little Englander who want to deny our shared values, be they cultural, political, or economic. Theirs is – to quote Billy Bragg – a land of hope and glory. A land that from a time that we no longer live in.

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Karma Police, Arrest this Man

October 29, 2017 Leave a comment

Crunch time in the Mueller investigation. The first indictment and arrest will be made tomorrow and tensions are running high. What will this all mean? Will the Republic be saved, will there be a furious backlash, will Trump himself be put on trial? There are many possible outcomes, ranging from the worst, to the best case.

There is a growing body of evidence testifying to collusion between the Trump campaign and the Russian state, continuing in to the presidency. These are a dangerous few weeks ahead in America. If sometimes the Russian investigation sounds like something from a spy novel, that’s because the US is in unprecedented territory.

The best case scenario has to involve Trump’s departure, sooner rather than later. This may come about with a behind closed doors agreement to force his resignation, and to have Pence, or whoever follows, grant him immunity from prosecution. Or it could see POTUS being arrested and charged with obstruction of justice, or impeached, or imprisoned. Either way, an immediate threat to global safety is removed. Liberals can fight a Pence figure if and when that comes; the immediate goal is to get rid of Trump for stealing the last election.

Then there’s the complete loss. Trump manages to convince enough of the military and law enforcement that only he offers stability, only he can give them what they want. There’s an immediate crackdown on press freedoms, journalists start being killed or ‘disappeared’. He becomes a dictator in all but name, following a Putin-type game plan. The Republicans in Congress have rolled over, Paul Ryan gets favoured by the new regime, and electoral districting gets escalated as voter fraud gets ramped up on a massive scale. This is not beyond the grounds of possibility. Sarah Kendizor is one such commentator who fears an outcome like this.

But the middling outcomes are more likely. On the negative side, Trump sacks Mueller, forces thousands onto the streets to oppose him, but still has an iron grip on the Republican party. Unless they start to oppose him, to act on the fine words of Senator Flake, the US leans increasingly towards authoritarianism. He wouldn’t even have to fire Mueller immediately, but try and manufacture some military crisis as the special investigator closes in on him. This scenario is dependent on a divided opposition, which is in play if the Clinton and Sanders wings of the Democrats aren’t reconciled.

The upside gradualist take is this. Mueller starts with the small fish, flips them, and moves on to POTUS. This will take months, maybe all of 2018 too. But it will inexorably lead to Oval Office. All of Trump’s time, every waking hour, every media appearance, every interview of surrogates, is consumed by the investigation. It Is less satisfying than an instant ‘win’ but results in the same outcome down the line. Trump loses his credibility with the GOP ‘plumpers’ who held their nose and voted for him. He only has his base, and they are a rudderless rabble.

There’s a chance of long-term both-win/both-lose too. The US becomes a country where the alternative to a liberal democratic party becomes an authoritarian, nationalist one. Elections swing from side-to-side. The hard right constantly tries to chip away at civil liberties and the very notion of government itself. The US hobbles along, from periods of crisis, to stability. It becomes impossible to say that there are two parties that stand by democratic values. This may well be the long term future in Hungary, Poland, and other countries in on the Russian board game. It is a deeply divided and unstable polity.

There are good grounds for being on the optimistic side of the fence. The darkness that fell on millions of us last November, has given way to the light that Trump can be defeated. It may take an exhausting toll on the political, civic, and legal system, but for many observers, there is more of sense that he can be resisted. It’s not that the Emperor doesn’t have any clothes, more of a ‘Wizard of Oz’ analogy, where the curtain has been pulled back. To paraphrase Abraham Lincoln, you can’t bullshit all of the people, all of the time.

There is so much faith being put in Robert Mueller now. The ‘black-box’ nature of his investigation meant that those of us following the progress have become latter day Kremlinologists reading the runes for possible paths he might be taking. There’s a chance that Trump critics will be disappointed or even despondent. But this is- in that over-used but apt – Churchillian phrase, the ‘end of the beginning’. The most cynical and venal US President of recent times is right to be afraid; the marshal is after you, and your mule is looking tired, and ready to drop.

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Flawed Character, Failed Presidency, a Flailing Trump

September 30, 2017 Leave a comment

Like the face-clinging alien, he’s hard to get rid of. Leeching, parasitical, he sucks onto the American body politic. It’s his only way to survive. There is an escape, Ripley is on the way, but until then, this monster will try and suck the life out of you. To continue the ‘Alien’ analogy, he is an immediate danger to all those who encounter him. This one does not come in peace. Trump is hostile and a threat to human life itself,

His rhetoric with North Korea may walk us in to a nuclear exchange where millions are slaughtered, just to please this modern Nero. Trump doesn’t want to die, but he has no conscience, and doesn’t care if millions of Koreans are slaughtered. Here’s a man who during security briefings repeatedly asked what the big deal with using nukes was. The US balance of powers was designed to stop people like him getting to the White House. It has clearly failed.

Yet, there is some push-back from the ‘adults’ in the regime which is beginning to have some effect. The generals, and General Kelly in particular, have tried to put some normality on the abnormal. Some of the worst alt-right white nationalists are gone, but some remain. Every time Trump goes off message – which is pretty much when he opens his mouth – the ‘adults’ step in to attempt to sweep up his mess. They are patriots trying to save the system.

But the real heroes are the ‘resistance’. Despite being snidely dismissed by DINOs and Reagan Democrats, it’s the activists, the ordinary men and women, those who march, those who organise in red states, those who refuse to accept the cruelties from the high tower, who are the patriots that America needs right now. They are part of the movement that will eventually force out this fake president. They have more power than they know; diversity is their strength.

They are constantly belittled by the appeasers, those who argue that Trump needs to be given a chance, that he speaks for his base. He may well represent the prejudices and insecurities of millions of voters, but that does not make him right, or mean his views need to be heeded. He is the epitome of a con man, having promised what he can’t possibly deliver, and is now looking for scapegoats to deflect from his failures. Do not appease this man. Deal where you can win, such as the Democrats with the ‘Dreamers’, but don’t bargain with him.

The international response has been cautious but largely a sense of getting a measure of the man. Small symbolic acts hurt Trump the most. He must not be asked to any state visits. By all means deepen relationships with local US diplomats, but spare us the sight of a Ceausescu-style motorcade touring Mittel-Europe to hand-picked crowds. No, he has not earned, and is not entitled to such niceties. There’s enough hate being spread already without adding to it.

The pessimists worry that Robert Mueller’s investigation will run out of steam. It may well do so. It may gather enough evidence to propose impeachment, and the political will may not be there to set the ball rolling. Or Trump may simply find a way to fire Mueller, causing a massive constitutional crisis where the ‘adults’ leave the administration and where the USA edges inexorably either toward dictatorship, political collapse, or regime change. Firing Mueller is a bad idea.

Robert Mueller has been methodically gathering the goods on Trump and his associates. Financial dealings that 45 thought he had buried by becoming president are being unturned, and all that information that he prayed would never surface, may well have already come up at a grand jury hearing. The Trump campaign links to Russia will become even more clear, except to the ‘deplorables’ who don’t care. The pressure to get drag this man out of the Oval Office will be immense.

When 45’s business council appointments resigned, that was a clear indication that even big business had had enough of Trump’s behaviour. The bottom line is profit, but the Silicon Valley companies put diversity at the heart of their ethos. When CEOs start to see that having anything to do with the US President is damaging to their share price and customer base, they start to take notice. Their fiduciary duty then becomes to take a stand.

The fly in the ointment is Trump’s personality. He is not equipped to think beyond the short-term. His business success – for what it was – was based on the sale, the deal, the show. He’s no Warren Buffet. He can’t strategize because he doesn’t know how to. He has exhibited an animal cunning in his ability to survive in his dealings over the years.

Yet, he is also as the ordinary commuter from Silver Springs would understand it, ‘mad’. His narcissism knows no bounds. American psychiatrists have had to break the so-called Goldwater rule – not to analyse someone they haven’t met – such is the danger of having someone like Trump with his hand on the nuclear trigger. He has the mind of a destructive toddler in the body of a septuagenarian.

Trump will fail, not because of some natural petering out, or because the system in America is so strong. No, he will fail because most Americans have a sense of decency, the investigative process will seek to hold him to account, and because, eventually, people will have had enough, and politics will triumph. The emperor will be shown to be wearing no clothes.

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Grief and Resistance

August 26, 2017 Leave a comment

A somewhat more personal reflection this time round. Many of the liberal left have been struggling to come to terms with a Trump presidency. Here are this author’s reflections of how we can understand and try to be resilient about this reality, by thinking through the prism of the Kubler-Ross cycle.

Elisabeth Kubler-Ross diagnosed the five stage process as a way dealing with death and grief. Grief is an incredibly complex emotion. It is part of what makes us human, a side that speaks to our deep connections with our loved ones. But it can also apply to 45’s win, and our reactions to most of what he’s done since then. Let’s begin with perhaps the most painful step, the one we know only too well, but often cannot recognise, namely denial.

We denied the reality of his win. This writer still denies the substance, and believes that Robert Mueller’s investigation will go on to prove that Russian interference swayed the result. But when the hammer fell last November, Trump opponents simply could not believe that so many people voted for him. The bad guy had won, and this seemed to go against a fundamental sense of fairness that’s inculcated in us since childhood, that a bully should never win. We – democrats with a small ‘d’ – still find the result shocking.

Then anger. Anger that so many Americans could be so stupid, could so wilfully ignore the racism that Trump espoused during his campaign, or even worse, secretly or openly championed it. Anger at the Sanders supporters who would rather let a KKK apologist into the White House, than swallow their pride and vote for Hillary Clinton. Mostly, an anger that you had been let down by your friends, your neighbours, and your family. This defeat seemed deeply personal because in many cases it was. Nothing like finding out that the person you thought you knew all along voted for Donald Trump. It can be a rage so strong that it becomes all consuming.

We come to bargaining. Some, but not all, were tempted along the lines of thinking that surely he wouldn’t be as bad as he was during the campaign? Wouldn’t he pivot away from his base, and discard the hard right as he had dumped everyone else in his self-seeking career? Or there were those who thought that they could work with him on areas of common interest. This attempt at bargaining did not last very long. It was quickly dispelled by Trump’s pre-inauguration tweets, his speech on the day, many of his appointments, and his behaviour since. He cannot be bargained with as he cannot be trusted in anything he says or does.

The depression that came post-November was real and deep. It seems that there would be no way of getting him removed from the Oval Office. His remarks after Charlottesville, his promotion of White Nationalists to the heart of the administration, the refusal of the GOP leadership to condemn him explicitly, all added to the sense of despair, the feeling that nothing was working, the belief that he could ride this out. He thrives on this, on making people feel weak. It was a rational reaction to his deeds, and one that’s part of grieving for what had been normalcy under Obama. All seemed lost, there seemed no way forward.

Yet, somehow, we must drag ourselves through all this, all our feelings, welcome and unwelcome, and we must come to acceptance. That is not accepting his legitimacy, but accepting that there are political and legal strategies to removing him from office. We are where we are. We have come through a lot in a few short months. We can accept what has happened. We now have the option of acquiescing or resisting. Peaceful resistance takes many forms. It means staying woke. It involves being resilient, developing if not an inner toughness, then a sense of realising we will not change the past, but we can work to make the future. If it feels like you’ve been under siege, have faith, reinforcements are coming. There is no guarantee, no certainty, that Trump will be removed. There is probability though, and that probability grows by the day.

There is so much that is dark, and wrong, and nasty about the current usurpers on Pennsylvania Avenue. But the wheels of justice are turning, albeit slower than all of Trump’s opponents would like. His apologists and supporters may not accept Robert Mueller’s findings, but most Americans will. There is a ticking clock marking the time running out on this fake administration. The end may not be soon, but it is coming. And those who want to support Trump after Mueller’s work are welcome to make their case. They will be ridiculed for their folly, and ignorance, and the republic will be restored.

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Hope and Fear in America

He is, and there was never any doubt that he would be, the chaos president. Six months in, and those of us who warned that the ‘system’ would struggle to keep him in line have been proven right. How is a man like this still in the White House? Yet, the push-back from the press, the courts, the Democrats, and the people, has been effective in putting Trump on notice. They’re telling him that he’s not going to end democracy in the US without facing a determined resistance on many fronts. He is not going to have it all his own way; supporters of democratic politics will not give up the ghost.

He is looking to fire Special Counsel Robert Mueller. His animal cunning tells him that if he does this, he can kill off the Russian investigations with one fell swoop. There are varying interpretations on this. There is the view that the political cost of doing this is just too high. Lindsay Graham has already set this down as a red line. Trump is reckless and a gambler though and may just decide to roll the dice on this one. He needs Sessions out, and a new Attorney General to do this. His mission is to break the constitution as most Americans would hold it. The notion of a president pardoning themselves would have seemed ridiculous only a few short months ago. Now it is a distinct possibility. What strange times we live in.

Trump’s made up on the hoof twitter policy on transsexuals serving in the military was cruel and probably illegal. He thinks he’s playing to his base on this one. But many in the military have reacted with a sense that this goes against all notions of fairness. The Donald, a noted draft dodger, is saying he doesn’t want the service of those prepared to die for their country. The army seems not to have been consulted on this, at least at an official level. More lies coming straight from the Oval Office; what do you expect from a con man?

His attacks on the media are extremely dangerous. No media organisation is perfect but it is their job to hold politicians to account in a truly fair and balanced way, not to act as cheerleaders or deny the truth as it appears before their very eyes. This attack on facts works two ways. We may reach a stage sooner rather than later where Trump has so gutted government departments and appointed place men and women –the EPA may be there already – that official information can no longer be trusted as reliable. George Orwell would understand this all too well.

Back to that base. Sadly, it became clear fairly quickly that if Trump has a solid support level of 35-40% prepared to believe anything he says, and who value culture over economics, he will not be encouraged to be normal. He is temperamentally unsuited anyway, but as long as he can fill or half-fill a stadium or a school-hall, he is not going to change. Trump may have contempt for these people. He is happy to keep using them. They’re not all bad. But there are millions of deplorables who are. The Commander-in-Chief is happy to throw them the red meat of bathroom and Muslim bans, as long as he can make himself and his pals even richer. But they –his base – are adults. They are given one of the few duties of a citizen in a republic – a vote – and they blew it. It is very hard to feel that sorry for them; they have brought this on themselves.

Yet, there is more optimism than in January. Court challenges have succeeded; the mindless scrapping of Obama Care has been resisted, for now. The investigation into the Trump family, and their financial links with Russia and Putin, continues. A tough sanctions bill has been passed by Congress. Some Republicans – a few – are beginning to put their necks out of their shells after swallowing Trump’s authoritarianism for a seat or seats on the Supreme Court./ The press is relentless in covering his constant twists and turns, the soap opera that his administration has become, the collapse of American prestige throughout the world.

This has been a terrible, draining, nightmare of six months though. As has been remarked over and over; what will Trump do during a real crisis? Europeans at large look over and wonder how much longer the chaos can go on. Something died in November 2016, and that’s not hyperbole to say so. But there’s also the chance to resist and rebuild, to truly take back control from Trump and his barbarians, and really make the idea of an America that President Obama espoused and believed in, great again. It can and must be done.

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