Catholicism at its worst

Making America great again?

Outcry after Kentucky students in Maga hats mock Native American veteran

Nathan Phillips is a Native American Vietnam War veteran who holds an annual memorial at Arlington National Cemetery in Washington DC to honour Native American veterans.

This year, he bumped into Catholic students from private, all-male Covington Catholic High School in Park Hills, Kentucky, in DC for an anti-abortion march, wearing Donald Trump’s MAGA hats – evidently designed to make America less than great again – and who mocked Mr Phillips and harassed him.

The footage was shared online by organizers of an indigenous peoples’ march that also took place on Friday.

In a joint statement, the high school and Diocese of Covington condemned the actions of the students “towards Nathan Phillips specifically, and Native Americans in general”.

“We extend our deepest apologies to Mr. Phillips,” the statement read. “This behavior is opposed to the Church’s teachings on the dignity and respect of the human person.”

“The matter is being investigated and we will take appropriate action, up to an(d) including expulsion.”

That’s all very well after the fact. But what the fuck was this Catholic school teaching its students to make them think this misbehaviour was appropriate in the first place? This isn’t a freak incident. That odious Catholic punk standing in Mr. Phillip’s personal space was a prat, but no doubt a loyal altar boy. He got his nasty ideas from his Catholic school, given that the other school students were being almost as obnoxious. There is Catholicism for you – a real bunch of nasties.

Trump’s vision of America is precisely this one. A place full of hate. Pity the Catholic church agrees with him.

Addemdum: I was raised a Catholic, though was never an altar boy. I grew up into an atheist. I was never sexually molested by priests. Nor did I ever see any evidence of molestation. I guess I was lucky. But these evil Catholic students are the modern product of Catholicism. That religion is responsible for the hatred it creates.

And what about the UK’s permanent seat on the UN security council?

Once the UK breaks up, following Brexit, that is not going to last. It’s not England that took part in forming the UN, it was Great Britain. Once Great Britain, aka the UK, is no more, that seat is not going to be viable.

Brexit inexorably leads to a diminished world role for the remains of the UK. Tories haven’t considered this. Well, they don’t actually consider anything. Minnow in a pool of sharks.

Theresa May is reckless. She doesn’t understand what she is doing. Not the faintest idea. She is busy erasing the UK from the world map, and doesn’t even realise it.

Will Brexit lead to literal Britwreck?

Sturgeon to set out indyref2 plans even if Brexit extended

Nicola Sturgeon has said she would lay out plans for a second independence referendum in a few weeks, irrespective of whether Brexit happened or was extended by delaying Article 50. But as the SNP lost 21 Westminster seats in May’s ill-judged election in 2017, leaving them still in a majority with 35, she may seek a new electoral mandate first.

That’s 2017, down from 2015 below.

It’s important to understand that while the SNP remains the majority party in Scotland, Tories come second, and Labour a dismal third, in a country where once Labour had a majority. The voters moved from Labour to SNP, and there could be a similar move if Corbyn doesn’t get his finger out.

This was the result for the last Indyref in 2014:

It had been lost by 55-45%, a fairly narrow margin considering the consequences, and with a turnout of 84%, the highest in British electoral history. (Pink to red indicating no to independence, not coincidentally mapping the Tory vote in 2017.

Sturgeon may be banking on a return to the 2015 result following Brexit. Given that Scots voted by 62% to stay in Europe in 2016, a larger margin than voted to stay in the UK in 2014, Brexit might very well boost the chances of Britwreck, especially given the antics in Westminster, a Parliament that voted down May’s only policy then immediately voted confidence in a humiliated premier, and the torpor of Corbyn’s Labour – no succour to be had with Labour or Tories.

Scottish independence could probably be kept at bay if Britain stays in Europe, much like the detente in Northern Ireland exists because Ireland and the UK are both EU members. Once the UK leaves the EU, all bets are off. Fragmentation is not just possible, but likely.

I doubt May has the nous to consider this. She isn’t considering voters like me. My parents were Polish refugees from WWII, welcomed to Britain and given British citizenship because a return to a Stalinist Poland was a hardship, perhaps even a death sentence. I voted against Scottish independence in 2014, because I believe in a United Kingdom, but within a European framework that works against events like WWI and WWII. I’d prefer to be both a UK and European citizen.

If May succeeds in cutting off my European citizenship, I’ll be forced to review my UK citizenship. This could come at some cost, as I am approaching pensionable age. It’s not obvious what would happen to that if Scotland abandoned England to its fate outside Europe. There could be some spite here. But that would not be enough to make me support a UK outside Europe. The UK belongs inside, working with European allies to improve conditions for all Europeans.

Brexit is a regressive step, voted for by an electorate beleaguered by Tory policies. They voted against a status quo that had not been imposed by Europe, but by the Tory party. If Tory England wants to keep that status quo, austerity against the poor, let them.

Was Brexit ever really about Europe?

It was never about Europe. Brexit is Britain’s reckoning with itself.

What we see with the lid off and the fog of fantasies at last beginning to dissipate is the truth that Brexit is much less about Britain’s relationship with the EU than it is about Britain’s relationship with itself. It is the projection outwards of an inner turmoil. An archaic political system had carried on even while its foundations in a collective sense of belonging were crumbling. Brexit in one way alone has done a real service: it has forced the old system to play out its death throes in public. The spectacle is ugly, but at least it shows that a fissiparous four-nation state cannot be governed without radical social and constitutional change.

Fintan O’Toole

I think this is a solid point. David Cameron, in an effort to avoid a Tory split over Europe, called for a referendum. He effectively asked the people to support the status quo at a time when many people were revolted by the status quo, for many different reasons, among them being left behind by the British government. Their needs and anxieties were not being dealt with. Jobs were being lost, the rich were getting wealthier, and the Tory government didn’t have a clue or care. Things were not good.

So when the Brexit referendum came up, this was an opportunity to kick the establishment in the gonads. None of the problems in Britain were really caused by EU membership. They had been caused by the policies of British governments, especially the Tory ones (to be fair, Blair’s Labour government was no help at all). None of those will go away if Britain quits Europe. Likely, they will only get worse.

Brexit won’t solve anything, it will only add to the problems by making Britain an isolated flounder in a sea of sharks. The real problems that resulted in the reaction that caused Brexit aren’t going to go away just because of Brexit, because EU membership wasn’t the cause. It was British government policy that wasn’t dictated from Europe.

It’s hard to claim liberation from tyranny when the tyranny never existed, but it excites the rightwing base, and those xenophobes hostile to foreigners.

The EU is an exciting and unprecedented project, a completely new conception, with a European Parliament and Court of Justice. It is the first institution, evolved from the post WWII European Coal and Steel Community, that actually melds melds nations together politically and democratically. It is centuries ahead of the UN in that.

Maybe it’s a hopeless dream, maybe we are condemned to return to warring European factions. Considering the last two World Wars were both started in Europe, I would have thought it was a dream worth serious pursuit. If it falls apart, given the advance in munitions since those bygone days, I am not at all sure it can be put together a second time.

This is the dream that should have been advocated by the Remain campaign in 2016, and sadly wasn’t. As a result, we face a newly fracturing Europe. Not good news for anyone in the rest of the world, either, Except maybe Vladimir Putin, Trump’s best buddy.

Is Trump finally teetering on the edge of impeachment?

Democrats vow to investigate report Trump directed Cohen to lie to Congress

Democrats have vowed to investigate a report that Donald Trump personally directed his former lawyer Michael Cohen to lie to Congress about an effort to build a Trump Tower in Moscow, which could leave the president open to accusations of suborning perjury and obstruction of justice.

Cohen, Trump’s longtime personal lawyer and fixer, pleaded guilty in November to lying to Congress about the Moscow project. He told the House and Senate intelligence committees that the project was scrapped by January 2016, but Cohen has now said planning actually continued through June, while Trump was a candidate for president.

Impeachment is a tricky process. It only takes a simple majority in the House to start it, but a 2/3 majority in the Senate to decapitate, figuratively, the Head (or Hair in this case) of State.

Mind you, given that Vice-President Pence is a rightwing, fundamentalist religious wacko, it’s possible that some Republicans might be persuaded to Dump Trump. That way, they would have someone more reliable in office to see and do things their way.

Trump talks the rightwing religious talk, but he has never walked it and never will. I think they might be happier under President Pence, so they might go for it.

Whether anyone other than a white male, racist, misogynistic and homophobic religious fundie would be happy under Pence, is a totally different matter.

Thoughts from the Grauniad commentariat

Theresa May’s survival is just a Tory confidence trick

From squawking “strong and stable” like a demented parrot before her disastrous election campaign, Oor Theresa has gone to “now the time to put self-interest aside “(!!!)

Indeed, to dwell on her shortcomings as prime minister, at this point, feels unnecessary. Nobody seriously denies them. She lacks a plan, a prayer, a mandate, a majority, a message or a clue. To channel Rob Fleming, the protagonist of Nick Hornby’s High Fidelity, she has lost “the plot, the subplot, the script, the soundtrack, the intermission, her popcorn, the credits, and the exit sign”.

“This is now the time to put self-interest aside,” she told the nation on Wednesday night. “It’s time for us to come together, put the national interest first – and deliver on the referendum.” With 71 days to go, after a series of predictable if damning results, this is not only her best idea but apparently her only idea. It makes you wonder what she thought she was doing during the previous two years and six months.

Certainly not putting Britain’s interests front and centre. Had she been interested in that, she would have reached out to other parties and devolved governments from the start, but no, she thought she could ram it through by relying on Tory Brexiteers alone.

It’s fair to comment, though, that many in Parliament have lost their senses as well. How stupid is it to terminate the government’s only apparent policy, then vote to keep the government keep pushing it – no change, says Theresa, it’s still her way or the highway. Apparently she and the Tories have learned nothing from this debacle.

On Saturday the UK turns remain. Parliament must force a second referendum

This one reported an interesting perspective. Couldn’t figure out the headline, but reading makes it clear.

You could call it swing Saturday or crossover day, for this Saturday, 19 January, marks an important moment. This is the day, in theory, when the country turns remain. Even if not a single person has changed their mind since the referendum, the demographic shift alone will have done the heavy lifting. Enough old leavers will have died and enough young remainers will have come on to the electoral register to turn the dial on what the country thinks about Brexit.

The psephologist and founding YouGov president, Peter Kellner, calculates that the leave vote has been declining by about 1,350 a day, taking into account the differential turnout: the young turn out to vote much less often than the old. By using exactly the same proportion of every age group turning out to vote exactly as they did in 2016, demographics alone will have transformed the UK into a remainer nation.

Well, as Polly Toynbee goes on to say, that doesn’t guarantee a vote one way or another in a second referendum. But we are two and a half years on from the first. Negotiations have been prolonged, chaotic and unsatisfactory, no deal is in sight, and while the Maybot can keep parroting “Brexit means Brexit”, no-one actually knows what Brexit should mean or could mean. Arguably, given the lack of progress, it should be put back to the people.

Not everyone agrees.

Labour must pursue a better Brexit deal, not a second referendum

Instinctively I don’t agree with columnist, still, he’s cute, so let’s take a look. Never hurts to consider seriously the arguments of folk you disagree with. You never know, you might change your mind!

What is Labour’s strategy? Let’s take a second referendum. Whatever the leadership decides, it is not even clear that a majority can be found for it. One Labour MP – who resigned from the frontbench in 2016 – tells me that, in a free vote, “the parliamentary Labour party would be split down the middle, possibly [with] even more against. It’s just they aren’t the people on the telly all the time!” […]

If Labour imposed a three-line whip in support of a referendum, shadow cabinet members representing leave constituencies have told me they will resign. If a referendum becomes the only option left, then Labour will have to campaign for remain, and make a great fist of it. But don’t have any illusions. The campaign will be even more bitter and vicious than the last; the culture war that has enveloped the country will get worse; millions of leave voters will be angered and even more disillusioned than before; and under a slogan of “tell them again”, leave may well win once more. […]

Labour must emphasise that the real conflict is not between supporters or opponents of Brexit, but the vast majority against the elite. It must refocus the debate on what unites both tribes, such as living standards, jobs, the NHS, taxing the rich and public ownership. That means advocating a compromise. A majority does exist in parliament for a customs union. And although many within the Labour leadership regard it as unsatisfactory, so-called Norway plus, combining the single market and a customs union, has a good chance of winning support across the parliamentary divide.

It is a fair point that a second referendum is (a) not certain to reverse the result of the first, leaving the situation with respect to Parliament unchanged without another election, and (b) would cause more arguments and divisions. So there is a case to be made here that it’s better to accept the results of the first and find some way of achieving that while minimising economic damage. Possibly there could be a majority in Parliament for some deal that ignores May’s red lines, which apparently she doesn’t want to rub out. Who would negotiate it though? Is this lady for turning? Who knows.

The problem with that case, is it would leave Britain as a rule taker rather than maker. We’d just have to go along with whatever the EU decides, and accept free movement of peoples as well. The first doesn’t sit well with me, as I think it’s better to be a major player in rule making – we could try to reform the policies and institutions of Europe we think don’t make the grade. We certainly couldn’t do that outside it. The second wouldn’t sit well with the voters May is trying to placate, those who resent immigrants for whatever reason.

The fact is that evil toad David Cameron dumped a bucket load of shit then walked away from it, and no method of cleaning it up is going to satisfy everyone. At this point, whatever is decided, is going to upset lots of people, but the wrong decisions will also lead to a break-up of the UK.

I suspect the realistic way ahead that most folk could agree on at this point is a postponement of Article 50, possibly might I suggest, till after the next election. I think folk need some time to digest the last catastrophic two years. Yes, business needs an end to uncertainty. The best way of doing that would be to simply revoke Article 50, and put an end to Brexit. I don’t see a majority for doing that either.

Perhaps, as some have argued, what Britain needs is the cold, sharp shock of Brexit with no deal. Like the blitz, they argue, this would unify Britain. I beg to differ. It would make me vote SNP like I’ve never done before.

The zombie staggers on

Big surprise. With bags under her eyes, and arms stretched out dramatically, Theresa May lurches around the Brexit landscape without a clue where she is going. It’s an alarming spectacle.

May is shorn of decency, integrity, credibility, trustworthiness. Where any prime minister before her would have had the guts to quit when her flagship policy was blown to smithereens,she clings to power like a roach clings to dead meat.

Worst. Prime. Minister. In. History.

And what does it say of a Parliament that can destroy a government’s policy yet leave the government n place, crippled and paralysed? Better a surgical excision than this. May is a festering cancer left to grow.

Dissolve the red lines

Despite Mrs May’s new overtures, Downing Street still formally rejects the prospect of a customs union with the EU, although softening that line would transform dialogue with Labour and pro-European Tories. A customs union alone does not dissolve obstacles in the Commons, nor does it resolve problems around the Irish border, but it is the foundation of any Brexit deal that stands a chance of achieving those goals. Mrs May’s objection is that it limits independence in trade talks and upsets hardline Tory Eurosceptics. But the UK’s leverage in talks with superpower blocs – the US, China, India, the EU – is vastly overstated and the Brexit hardliners will never be satisfied with any deal. Holding out for their approval is a waste of time.

Mrs May speaks often about duty to the electorate, as if the choices she makes stand above party interest. The opposite is true: she has imprisoned herself in a narrow, parochial view of what Brexit means, conditioned by irrational attachment to the Tory right. It is imperative that she break free of those constraints. She must show sincerity in the offer to work across the house, which means giving serious consideration to proposals that cross the red lines: a customs union, Efta, the EEA or some combination of those institutional arrangements.

The Nasty Lady has no answers. Parliament needs to figure out how to force her to compromise, whether it’s customs union or a new referendum, if they are too squeamish to get rid of her entirely. There was no honour to be had by anyone tonight.

And today, Parliament brings you: The Rise of the Undead!

After her flooring defeat yesterday, Theresa May had no option but to request someone, anyone, table a no confidence motion, which Jeremy Corbyn, waking out of his pro-Brexit torpor, finally did. Activity from the Labour front bench… who knew he had it in him?

British political punditry seems confident he’ll lose it, as apparently no Tory or DUP member wants to face the voters at this point, or risk a Corbynista No. 10, so it seem likely that some time this evening, May’s zombie government will be encouraged to lurch on, irrespective of its direction, if any. As she walks in ever decreasing circles, the Tories are doubtlessly hoping May will shortly vanish up her own arse, because they can’t remove her till next December. They can’t get rid of her, so they hope to grind her down till she quits out of frustration, embarrassment and despair.

As she’s the maybot that takes a lickin’ but keeps on tickin’, evidently, I am not sure how successful that strategy will be.

What is clear, however, is that Britain cannot tolerate another few months, let alone years, of this political uncertainty and governmental chaos – is paralysis better? – and obsession. Other things need to be seen to besides Brexit. The disaster of the poor, hungry and homeless hurt by Tory austerity policies. The continuing decline of British industry and government services.

The government in short needs to start doing its job, and it will take more than a zombie to do this.

Is there anything other than an Act of God that will turf May out?

Theresa May has just suffered the biggest defeat in British parliamentary history of any prime minister, yet she continues to expect to toast her faux leopardskin-clad tootsies in front of the Downing St. fire. Likely she will win tomorrow’s vote of confidence tabled by Jeremy Corbyn today, but not because any Tory has confidence in her, that’s long gone, they just won’t want to give Corbyn a chance to get his nose in No 10’s door. I have some sympathy with that prejudice.

She still labours under the delusion that in persisting, she is acting on the Will of the People, whereas it was actually only 52% of those who voted on a 70% turnout. Hardly a massive mandate. She see herself as the only person able to Deliver the Goods, and won’t take “Go away!” as an answer.

The problem is, if she stays as the British leader, she stays under the dire circumstances of having lost all credibility at home and abroad. She’s as believable as Trump. What can she possibly say to make anyone think, on either side of the channel, that she can or intends to deliver on any promise or proposition she makes? How can she be trusted to offer what she has repeatedly, over the last two years, said is impossible or unacceptable? How can she possibly represent Britain in any capacity?

And why should the Europeans go along? They can’t trust her as a valued ally. This defeat should be her Waterloo, had she an ounce of integrity, but she insists on seeing herself as some sort of Heroine destined to Save Britain. I doubt the Isle of Elba would accept her exile in any case.

Maybe enough Tories will come to their senses tomorrow and vote to turf her and her baggage out, though I doubt it. The size of the majority against her should rightly give them pause about keeping her on in the present job, where she no longer has any real power. If they don’t want another election, and they can’t hold another leadership contest till next December, they may just have to force her to hold another referendum if they want to avoid no deal. There’s pretty pickle May’s short-sighted and exclusionary politics have gotten them into.

May’s scheme goes down in flames

Yes 202 – no 432, the biggest government loss in history. But she ain’t gonna go without being fired.

She failed owing to her lack of leadership, political skill and foresight. She should have been working for two years together with the opposition parties and parliament, with businesses and unions, and other organisations and institutions in British culture, academics, charities, local and devolved governments.

But no, she thought she could ram it through with a divided Tory party alone. Corbyn has – finally – tabled his motion of no confidence and it will be debated tomorrow.

It’s a very good question what the way forward is. There is no alternative leadership in the current Commons with a coherent policy that a majority can coalesce around. It strains credulity to the utmost that May has the credibility to arrange a coalition now. Hopefully leadership will emerge, but it won’t be Corbyn. He reamed her royally tonight, but he’s offered no other way forward, other than proposals already rejected by Europe and the Brexiteers.

I must say, the grilling by Andrew Marr of Tory Health Secretary Matt Hancock was embarrassing to watch. Marr drilled him some new arseholes in unexpected places. He was unable to answer any question as to where May can possibly go next after such an overwhelming defeat. What tweaks could Europe possibly offer to overturn such a huge majority, especially one that made temporary voting allies between Brexiteers and remainers? Nothing but the chirping of Secretary birds.