What goes around, comes around

White House press secretary Sarah Sanders kicked out of restaurant because she works for Donald Trump

Ms Sanders’ party of seven asked to leave by owner who says her establishment has ‘certain standards that I feel it has to uphold’

Some quiet satisfaction to be had there. The owner said she consulted her staff first, then politely asked the party to leave. And Sarah Huckabee Sanders is not the first Trump official to be expelled from a Washington area restaurant. Something similar happened to Kirstjen Nielsen, the homeland security secretary, and Stephen Miller, a senior advisor to the president, who were both booed out of (ironically) Mexican restaurants. Miller is one of the advocates of Trump’s persecution of refugees.

This isn’t the same as bigotry. They aren’t being discriminated against because they are lily-white conservatives. They are being socially shunned because they are hypocrites working for a malevolent president. That is not something inherent to their natures or characters that they cannot help being, not like skin colour, religious belief or sexual orientation. It’s commentary on something they freely chose to do, policies they freely chose to support.

Those who lie down with dogs get up with fleas, and have no excuse to rail against others who refuse to share space and contamination.

Back to the ordure of Trump

UK rabbi warns of genocide risk in Trump policies

Laura Janner-Klausner, the senior rabbi of Reform Judaism said:

The numbing of empathy, the dehumanisation of other people through the encouragement of disdain are documented stages in history that have led to atrocities and even genocides.

What has happened on the US-Mexico border is a moment of reckoning as it points to a systemic toxicity in public discourse and action. This needs to be stopped now.

The marked parallels between Trump’s actions against illegal immigrants (aka refugees), and Hitler’s actions against Jews have been noticed by many, even if critics demur from actually succumbing to Godwin’s Law and mentioning Hitler by name. And to be fair, Trump has not yet actually ordered exterminations, though it’s clear he’s wishing he could get away with it in the case of his critics.

Another noteworthy development was Trump’s withdrawal from US membership of the UN human rights council.

US quits UN human rights council – ‘a cesspool of political bias’

Now, there is a fair point to make about this council. It does tend to focus most of its attention on resolutions condemning Israeli treatment of Palestinians. Many of its current and previous members – Russia and China for example – are no practitioners of human rights themselves. Indeed, Russia has become little more than a mafia state run by mobster gang bosses.

Granted that many members of this council are ruled by hypocrites, it might be taken as refreshing that by resigning from the council, the US is making an example of itself that nations that do not respect human rights, shouldn’t take a place on that council. Finally, one might think, Trump showing some honesty and admitting that US violation of human rights makes it unfit to be a member.

Of course, that would be naive. The US makes no admission of its flagrant and repetitious violations of human rights, nor its support of those violations by client states such as Israel. Hypocrisy is what makes the world go around, either by those countries who want to be members, and those others who have quit because they can’t get it to service their own political prejudices.

Jeremy tries walking on the waters

UK would ‘recognise Palestine as state’ under Labour government, Jeremy Corbyn says

Well, he’s no Jesus, so a little floundering shouldn’t come as a surprise. Here we have a Labour leader accused of, at best, winking at antisemitism in the Labour party, then going to Jordan and calling for UK recognition of a Palestinian state. While he referred to a “two-state” solution, he stopped far short of a ringing declaration of his support for the Israeli state. Of course, in some corners of the pro-Israel lobby, any criticism of Israeli government policy toward Palestinians is smeared as antisemitism, so these are choppy waters to be stepping out on.

Now, I’m of the weary and bleary view that, in hindsight, maybe the Balfour Declaration of 1917, made when Britain was at war with Germany and the Ottoman Empire which held Palestine at the time, was not the best of ideas.

Balfour declaration unmarked.jpg

Image source: Wikipedia, letter to Lord Rothschild for communication to the Zionist Federation in the UK.

The Declaration did not envisage at that time a greater Israel encompassing the vast majority of Palestine, but of a “national home for Jewish people” within Palestine, still an unprecedented idea – unprecedented in the notion of having a state with citizenship defined by religion. Vatican city aside, no other major modern state makes a civic virtue of the primacy of its majority religion. Officially, anyway. Can you imagine a Muslim or Christian president of Israel in some near future? Neither can I.

I think an argument can be made that the creation of the state of Israel in 1948 was perhaps a major mistake, guaranteeing another 70 years of strife in the region. Perhaps a two-state solution should have been devised at the outset, or maybe a single multi-religious state with specific guarantees of home rule for Jews and Muslims alike might have resulted in less bloodshed since. No real way of telling. Maybe some of the victorious WWII powers were keen to see potential Jewish “problems” exported to the middle east rather than festering in Europe. On a more positive note, certainly there was a feeling that steps had to be taken to make sure the spectre of the Holocaust did not get resurrected. The latter at least was a noble ideal – never again.

I do not deny that in many ways, Israel has been a very successful state, for some, the tragedy is it hasn’t been a success story for Arabs in or near its official borders. Granted, neighbouring Arab nations chose war over diplomacy in dealing with the new state, which straddled territories they considered their own, and so they knowingly and actively contributed to the current strife. It isn’t right to blame Israel for everything. It’s a complicated history, and many books can and have been written documenting views from all sides. The point is, despite would-be noble ideals and because of the history, we are where we are, and the question is, is it possible to emerge from this abyss, or just dig it ever deeper?

Trump’s solution ploy was to go full Netanyahu and recognise Jerusalem as the capital of Israel, enraging Arabs world-wide. Well, that was an intelligent and calculated step, when one considers where Trump is coming from. He is riding a domestic wave of anti-immigrant and especially anti-Muslim prejudice. How better to feed his fascist base red meat than to poke Muslims in the eye by recognising Jerusalem as the capital of the Jewish state? Trump has no interest in solving the middle east conundrum, he’s just making flamboyant and provocative gestures intended to fire up his base, anger his critics, and hence stroke his ego. And Netanyahu is one of the world’s dictatorial strongmen Trump so slavishly admires.

Enter Jeremy, whom no-one would ever describe as a strongman. A former if not necessarily much reformed marxist, he genuinely wishes the world were a better place, and seeks to make it one. He is an idealist – not that there is anything wrong with idealism, I hasten to add, so long as the idealists can avoid zealotry in their process. The problem is that even when one tries to bring ideals to fruition, the world is a realpolitik place where idealists are vastly outnumbered by cynics, pragmatists and downright assorted villains and con-artists. They pose almost insurmountable barriers for idealism, and undermine it when it manages to leak around and establish the occasional inroad.

What does Jeremy think he can actually accomplish by making a Trump-like declaration of a unilateral recognition of a Palestinian state (presumably for Muslims or Arabs)? Whose purpose does it serve? The Palestinians’, or Jeremy’s? Does he think it’s an essential first step in a multilateral and international recognition of a Palestinian state? Is there really a path to that particular ideal here? Or does it serve to bolster his support among Labour pro-Islamic and anti-Israeli factions? This question is asked bearing in mind that being against Israeli government policies persecuting Palestinians is not antisemitic, but that being anti-Israel might very well be, and there’s a very fine line to tread there.

I am no Cobrynista, no enthusiastic supporter of his. His Brexit policy is as short-sighted and blinkered as May’s to the extent I often think they are in cahoots over it. I support some of his proposals about renationalisation of essential industries and services. But until he takes a credible stance against antisemitism in his own party that goes beyond platitudes that antisemitism is abhorrent, which no longer mean much in a realpolitik world, I don’t trust his going out on a unilateral limb on this one, either. It’s not as though many if any Palestinian political leaders are committed to a two-state solution, either. A lot of them would happily encompass the complete overthrow of Israel as it is. It’s not at all clear where Corbyn stands on that.

Still, let’s face it. Who is going to give a toss what a post-Brexit British foreign policy says, anyway? Corbyn is just shouting into the wind.

More sabre rattling from Tory Brexit cabal

Brexit: PM not bluffing over no-deal, says Fox

Theresa May not bluffing? Pull the other one. It’s all she does in her endless quest to keep her heinie in Downing Street.

The only thing she’s actually trying to hide is that she hasn’t a clue where to go next. Neither does the Brexit cabal.

Brexit Secretary David Davis told the Daily Express the prime minister was going to get a “good deal” from Brussels and Brexit was going to be “fantastic”.

Maybe he see’s it as his way to get into No. 10, so it could be fantastic for him, if not for anyone else including the Tories.

And writing in the Sun, Foreign Secretary Boris Johnson warned the prime minister not to allow “bog roll Brexit” that is “soft, yielding and seemingly infinitely long” – calling for a “full British Brexit” instead. Mr Johnson said people “just want us to get on with it”.

I can’t see Johnson in No. 10. Not even the Tories are that fond of a clueless clown who embarrasses the government and the UK whenever he opens his mouth. I don’t know what British people he’s talking about, unless he means the Tory faithful as the only True BritonsTM.

God. What a bunch of feckless morons May has gathered around her. She has all of Trump’s credibility and none of his charm.

The Ugliest American

Image result for trump

Image source: www.change.org

The secret to Trump is probably nothing evil, nothing horrendous, but fairly banal, in a Hanna Arendt sort of way. He’s a grandstanding demagogue who still likes to think of himself as a playboy; self-absorbed to the point of blocking out anything that contradicts his self image; has a pathological disregard of any distinction between what is true and real and what is fake and flashy; and regards his occupation of the White House as just the latest episode in his personal reality show. I use the word occupation advisedly, with overtones of Herr Schicklgruber’s occupation of Poland.

He has taken narcissism to unheard of heights, where his every action is predicated solely by its dramatic and populist effect, and by the reaction of the media, and supporters and critics alike. It’s as though he is constantly pushing the borders of humanity to see what new atrocity he can get away with. As host of his own reality show, The Trump Presidency, he gets to call all the shots at a whim, whether starting trade wars with America’s allies, or hobnobbing with  world class dictators who would happily see America ground into fine dust. So long as it makes a stir and feeds his cult, he’ll do it. Child snatching is almost the least of the insidious damage he’s managing to accomplish, which is nothing less than the unravelling of American democracy and its leading world role, whether this is consciously intentional on his part or not. (A debatable but increasingly irrelevant point – the consequences are the same whether his actions result from deliberate cunning, or are merely the tantrums of a petulant child.)

Echoes of the heady days of the rise of the Third Reich are unsettling, only instead of Jews, Trump has settled on (currently) illegal immigrants, who he claims are “infesting” America as if they were some sort of vermin, as the convenient scapegoat for his shallow populism. He can paint refugees as job stealers, criminals and terrorists, irrespective of reality, and his cult will adore his venom. After every outrageous act that rebukes human decency, making it seem that being vile is the American way, he holds a Nuremberg style rally of the faithful, where he goads his supporters into ever crazier frenzy, and goads liberals and opponents into fiery denunciations, not unlike this one.

There has been some forethought going into this progression of calamity. At the same time as his henchman Jeff Sessions started prosecuting refugees for the heinous crime of seeking asylum – a mere misdemeanor under previous administrations, Republican and Democrat alike – Trump stopped funding legal support for refugees in managing their asylum cases. Even the US miitary is being brought into this, in the form of supplying prosecutors and concentration camps. He’s not at the point of exterminating immigrants, but for the moment, he is quite happy to rip their families apart because it’s red meat to his cult realty show audience. That audience lives in a make-believe world of its own, but can’t be discounted as voters. They are what makes Trump, who might otherwise be just a stupid and ill-bred buffoon, dangerous.

This is why liberals and reasonable people should not just shut up and suck it in under the mistaken impression that depriving Trump of the oxygen of attention will make him fizzle out. It won’t: without pushback, he’ll just shove the crap even further and harder. We should not loftily ignore him when he gluttonously goads reactions from supporters and opponents alike, just because publicity and notoriety are what he gorges on.  I believe in calling out Trump for what he is: an odious and insidious little creep whose occupation of the White House has lost America the trust and affections of friends and allies, and given much succour and comfort to America’s enemies. And all in the cause of inflating Trump’s own ego. A spotlight needs to be held on the festering swamp that surrounds the White House like an impenetrable moat, if I may mix some metaphors.

There have been presidents in the past who were borderline unhinged – Nixon springs to mind as recent example – but Trump is the first post WWII president to give dog whistles to American neo-Nazis that it’s time to come out of their kennels, at the same time as he is blowing apart the basis of Western alliances, making America completely unreliable as a trading and defence partner, which must be music in Moscow and Beijing.

America can and likely will recover from Trump, but not without sustaining major and in some cases irreversible damage, especially to its international reputation as an advocate of human rights and reliable ally. Of course, America has always been a bit hypocritical about human rights, acting as if they belong only to those who support America’s policy aims, but when Trump started constructing his own American Gulag, a series of concentration camps for the children snatched from vermin refugees, that crossed a line even many – certainly not all – Americans on the far right found hard to ignore.

The phrase clear and present danger was coined in in 1919 by Supreme Court Justice Oliver Wendell Holmes, who wrote a decision regarding the legitimacy of government repression of dissenting speech during a crisis. It’s since been superseded by other Supreme Court decisions, but the phrase has an obvious application today. This is what the Trump Presidency is: a direct and unpredictable threat to America and the wider world. Even the occasional ostensibly promising initiative like the meeting with North Korean dictator Kim Jong-un, is tainted by the obvious instability  and untrustworthiness of the White House occupant. Nothing he does is open, honest, above board, or in the interests of anyone but himself.

Far be it from me to give Americans advice as to what to do under Trump’s looming tyranny. Well, maybe not all that far, so the least they can do to start repairing the tattered trust in Americans, if not in Trump, and recover their own self-esteem, is to take Congress away from him this coming November. It’s a toy this overgrown toddler doesn’t need, so a spot of emasculation is in order.

 

Pre-Brexit fallout continues

It’s not just the arch-Brexiteer Ress-Mogg who is moving his business interests to the EU as a precaution.

Brexit: Airbus warns it could quit UK in event of ‘no deal’

14,000 jobs. Maybe Rees-Mogg could offer a couple of them staff positions in his Dublin haven from Brexit. They aren’t the only ones. Lots of European businesses are taking pragmatic approaches to the Tory Brexit shambles and making plans to do a wee Brexit themselves, only from Britain.

Apparently Oor Theresa is licking Trump’s boots again

Trump set to make second UK visit immediately after Brexit, recording reveals

Well, she did miaow briefly about how she would “confront” Trump over his monstrous imprisonment of thousands of “illegal” immigrant children in American gulags, but no-one took her seriously that she’d actually question anything Trump wants or does, because she sees Trump as Britain’s saviour after her disastrous Brexit.

Now we here the hapless May is conspiring to bring about a second visit after he infests these shores briefly next month, this time a state visit with full military honours and a handsome welcome from the queen. She’l need towels to wipe the blood off after shaking hands.

Ok, I can buy that deep down somewhere inside where May’s heart used to be, there may be some fluttering qualms about cosying up to a brutal wanna-be dictator. She might not like him, but thinks a trade deal with Trump is Britain’s only salvation after she’s botched Brexit. So she may be willing to hold her nose and treat with Trump feeding his monstrous ego with pomp and pageantry. Small price to pay, eh, your pride for some dollars.

The problem is, and May ought to be as aware of this as anyone, is that Trump can’t be trusted. His word is simply the means to getting what he wants at any one time, a hobnob with the queen, maybe, and is then cast aside as readily as an immigrant child. For Trump it’s all about Trump, nothing else matters, least of all a tattered little nation on the shores of Europe with a twit for a prime minister.

It’s all grist to Trump’s mill. Hopefully, by next year, neither of these sad sacks will remain in office.

One rule for commoners, another for wealthy Tories

Brexit: Jacob Rees-Mogg defends Ireland move by City firm he co-founded ahead of EU withdrawal

Good grief. This hypocrite knows Brexit is going to harm the British economy, so he moves his own company to the EU so it can weather the crisis better, but expects everyone else to believe his twaddle about the resurrection of the British Raj at home.

If he believed the crap he was peddling to the voters, his company would have stayed at home.

Tories: the party of perpetual misgovernance

It’s been long clear how much contempt May and the Brexiteers feel for parliamentary democracy. but the last Brexit vote nailed parliament in its coffin.

Brexit: Theresa May avoids major defeat as MPs reject vote to give parliament more power in event of no deal

Curling up in foetal positions, the weak-willed Tory “rebels” caved and supported their leaderene, voting against guaranteeing parliament has a final vote on the terms (if any) of Brexit.

Brexit honcho Davis offered “a last minute olive branch in the form of a letter to rebels, outlining how parliament would, under existing arrangements, have an adequate role in scrutinising Brexit – and pointing out that speaker John Bercow would have a key role in deciding whether the Commons could amend government plans at a later date.”

And they trust Davis or May to keep their word, given at a time they were pressed to? What naive schmucks. Looks like we’ve entered another era of being governed by shady and secret cabals who would very much prefer if parliament didn’t stick their noses in and enquire what the fuck they think they are doing. If anything at all.

Trump is Putin’s catspaw

Trump attacks Angela Merkel for giving sanctuary to refugees

US president claims migration has ‘strongly and violently’ changed European culture

The only thing giving rise to political violence in Europe is the far right, the neo-Nazis who adore Trump. I doubt Trump has the wit to see what’s going on, but the only beneficiary of any kind of political and economic rift between the US and the other democracies, is Putin, who must be roaring with glee when not watching football.

Of course, Trump lies about this too. He says crime in Germany has gone way up, when in fact it is at a 30-year low. But truth never stopped Trump from preaching fake news whenever it fires his fascist base.

Next month, Theresa May has taken it upon herself to offer official UK hospitality to Trump, in the vain hope she can squeeze a trade deal out of him, which is as likely as squeezing nectar out of a lemon. I certainly hope the British people decide to offer him some of theirs, and let him know what they think. No violence, of course, just some straight talk.