As I have previously mentioned, I hold no brief for any American president, and have not liked a single one I have seen during my lifetime. Kennedy was an unfaithful womaniser, and a liar. Johnson was also a liar, and Nixon topped them both by taking blatant lying to a new level. Ford was unimpressive, Reagan seemed mad, (and lied) both of the Bush family are best forgotten, and Bill Clinton was a womaniser and a liar. (That again) Obama knew how to play the game, but kept few promises, and didn’t achieve much for people of colour, the poor, or women, all of which was expected from him.
So, that covers my life from the age of 9, until the year 2016. But one thing about all those former presidents is worth mentioning. They all knew how to behave in public. They understood the ‘game’, and how to play it on the international stage. Some may have been caught out with their sexual indiscretions, or behind the scenes deals and interference in other countries. But they spoke well, and (most of the time) appeared to be dignified, and statesman-like. They represented their country as we had come to expect them to, with concern for their allies, and suitable expression of the power behind their office, at least on the surface.
The along comes Donald Trump. He throws away the rule book. He has no class or style, treating his job as if he is the CEO of The World. He is a womaniser, and he lies, so no change there, but he doesn’t really hide either fact, preferring to boast about his conquests and bad behaviour like men drinking in a bar. He doesn’t know how to speak in public, let alone how to behave. By appealing to the lowest common denominator, he attracts a lot of support in his own country, whilst alienating almost every other country on Earth. Using his daughter as The First Lady is just too creepy for words. She always looks under control, never happy to be doing what she is doing. He goes to NATO and talks to other leaders as if they work for him, and are not being productive enough. Then he comes to Britain and upsets just about everyone you can think of, even those who want to be his friend.
In 2016, I thought he might learn. He was inexperienced as a politician, but obviously no fool, nor the buffoon he was painted in the press. He made clever use of social media, and could have used his business skills to learn from those around him, perhaps really making ‘America Great Again’. But he got rid of everyone who knew what they were doing, and replaced them with a succession of yes men and women who follow his lead. I have rarely seen such displays of arrogance from the leader of a powerful western nation, at least not since newsreels of Mussolini, or the overwhelming self-confidence and condescension displayed by Margaret Thatcher, when she was Prime Minister in the UK. He lives in a world he reinvents day by day, in his own head.
A note to America. You really should try to stop him leaving your country on these visits.
I have only just found out, but Mexico has made generous offers of help to the victims of Hurricane Harvey. The Mexican government expressed solidarity with the USA, and offered to send troops to aid with distribution of supplies, as well as providing medical teams and staff from rescue agencies.
This is the country that has been accused of so much by the current U.S. President, and the same country he wants to isolate America from, by building a wall along the border. There have been many appeals to help those suffering as a result of this hurricane. Donations to the Red Cross have been suggested, alongside many other disaster relief agencies. Mexico has offered unrestricted physical aid, and there is nothing to suggest that this is anything but genuine.
Not only did America decline this offer, Mr Trump took time to tweet that he will still build the wall, and will ensure that Mexico pays for its construction. Perhaps he should have been concentrating on sorting out this disaster in America’s fourth largest city, but no. Instead, he chose to be rude to a sovereign country and close neighbour, not only rejecting their offer out of hand, but dragging up the issues about the NAFTA trade deal and the wall at the same time.
Does he even know what ‘Diplomacy’ means?
When Donald Trump became the President of The United States last year, he did so on the back of a lot of promises to the American people. Those who believed his promises tipped the balance, and he was elected. Perhaps the most powerful of those promises was the he would ‘Make America Great Again’.
Looking back over this new administration, it seems to me that he has reneged on all his promises. From building the ‘Mexican Wall’, to turfing out all the illegal immigrants, creating American jobs for American people, and that one about making America great again. He and his merry-go-round cabinet and administration appear to have achieved very little. He didn’t manage to repeal Obamacare, and has also made the running of the world’s most powerful country a laughing-stock. He did get in some spiteful laws concerning transgender people and abortion, removed his country from any serious attempts to cut pollution and fossil fuel use and has played a lot of golf. The shameless promotion of the members of his own family has left him wide open to accusations of nepotism and favouritism too.
Not since the confusion of Italian politics, or the pre-war governments of France, have we seen so much disarray in the running of a country. Trump has lost the support of many influential politicians in his own country, and his appearances on the international stage have been marked by his lack of statesmanship, and obvious lack of political experience. Pushing past other leaders of countries to get a good spot in a group photo, or stumbling over embarrassing speeches when centre stage. Rather than extricate his troops from conflicts around the world, he has presided over increases of boots on the ground, missile attacks, and threats of action against other countries. The promises to build the economy of his own country, and to adopt isolationist polices if necessary have all just faded away.
His use of Twitter during the election campaign was inspired. He connected with people using the social media platforms as they did. But he didn’t know when to stop. His Twitter tirades have assumed the style of a spoiled child, with a school playground mentality of name-calling and ‘yah-boo’. He has sacked the people best qualified to carry out important tasks in his administration, and replaced them with others unsuited to those roles. He attacks his own appointees publicly, and criticises members of his own party too.
On the BBC News today, an American political analyst was offering an overview of the recent events in Washington, and the defeat of the repeal of Obamacare. At the end of the report, the BBC presenter was chuckling. Thanking the analyst, he concluded, “well at least it is entertaining.” The American government has become something to laugh at. The President of the United States is acting like the chief clown in a Washington circus.
I wasn’t smiling along with him though. A circus might be entertaining, but it has no place in the running of the most powerful nation on Earth. A nation that could well take us all down with it.
This is a short post about something that is causing me some concern.
Ever since Donald Trump first came to my attention, I have been fascinated by his strange hairstyle. Not just the colours, which are interesting enough in themselves, but also the strange way that he styles it to disguise any baldness, and to achieve what he must believe is something attractive to behold.
To be honest, I did wonder that anyone could take a man with hair like that seriously, let alone elect him to the most important office in the world. Had I been an American voter in 2016, I would never have been able to get past that hair, whatever his policies. It would have been a case of a vote lost for want of a hairstyle, that’s for sure.
When he was elected, I felt sure that he would modify his coiffure, and appear with something more dignified, and better suited to his important role on the world stage. But no, he carried on with the intricate combing-over of hair that resembled soft straw, seemingly unaware of how it enabled him to be further mocked.
Last week, I was watching him being interviewed by a reporter. He sat forward excitedly in his chair, like a teenager making a point that was important to him. His answers were full of contradictions, and he really didn’t come up with a convincing reply to any of the probing questions. The news moved on to a different story, and I forgot about it after a while.
Sometime later that evening, it occurred to me that I hadn’t noticed the President’s hair. After his 100+ days in office, it seemed that I was actually becoming used to this clownish style, and beginning to accept it as perfectly normal.
Now THAT is worrying!
Whatever you might think about North Koreans, they are nothing if not resilient.
Faced with the threat of American action against them, their response has been bullish, to say the least. Their Foreign Minister has declared that his country will launch a ‘preemptive nuclear strike against the USA’, if they detect any possibility of an attack against them from America.
Those are serious words indeed, even if they are unlikely to be backed up by the action mentioned in them. I am reminded of a professional poker game; bluffers taking on the bluffers. Both sides know that the other is bluffing, but who is actually prepared to take that chance, when push comes to shove?
This small country, with a population of 29 million, its people generally impoverished, and having one thing to show to the world, Pyongyang, has taken a firm stand indeed. On one hand, it could signal their total destruction. On the other, it could guarantee them a place on the world stage.
So. Who blinks first? Fascinating.
I have left a few comments on other blogs about this recent event, so I decided that I also ought to write something about it on here.
I looked up the cost of that operation. Fifty-nine cruise missiles = $94,000,000. The amount needed to replace them? Around $100,000,000. Factor in the costs involved in the preparation of the attack, use of warships, and the other logistical issues, and the total is something like $200,000,000. Yes, that is two hundred million dollars.
I would have to consult those better qualified than me, but I imagine that many good things could have been done in America, with that amount of money. It costs a bit less than $100,000,000 to build a very good hospital. So that’s two and a bit great new hospitals that could have been created in some poor districts of the US. A large new high school costs about $40,000,000 to construct. So, that money could have gone to building five good schools, to help educate the children of America.
It costs less than $40,000 dollars to buy a decent-sized electric car in the US. So more than 5,000 electric vehicles could have been bought and supplied to government agencies, to help reduce pollution. I could keep going on. Flood defences, new homes for those in need, solar panels, medical research, palliative care, and so on…Even in 2017, $200,000,000 is a great deal of money, and it could, and should, have been put to better use.
So, who wins? Not the six Syrians killed in the attack. Not the rebel fighters, who still can’t beat Assad. Not the civilians, who will be caught up in just as many future battles. Not the reputation of the US military, which failed to render the airfield unusable, or even to destroy all the aircraft kept there. Not the citizens of nations all across the world, who now fear that this escalation could lead to an all-out war between Russia and NATO.
Let’s consider the possible ‘winners’ who emerge from this situation.
Assad can now claim that his sovereign nation was attacked by a foreign power. And he will be telling the truth, like it or not.
ISIS continues to operate as if nothing has happened, no doubt cheered by the thought that the US might remove Assad, leaving the way open for them to take control in the future.
The arms companies will be happy, as they make more profit from selling at least another fifty-nine cruise missiles. And that’s only the beginning of an increase in the ringing of their cash registers.
Then there are those companies involved in post-war ‘reconstruction’ and security, companies like Halliburton. They will be rubbing their hands together at the prospect of another Iraq to come.
Then there is Mr Trump of course. After being under sustained attack from the American media, and failing to get the support he needed from a large section of his own population, the President has finally done something. Whether this was at the suggestion of the hawks in his own military, or his own doing, is of no matter. He is now being seen as decisive. A man of action. The American version of Putin. A strong leader, unafraid to take the moral high ground, even if that moral high ground involves using hundreds of millions of dollars worth of explosives.
And if that action helps his friends in big business, so much the better.
Today, the former IRA fighter and latterly politician, Martin McGuinness, died. I do not mourn his passing, as his track record was not something to be admired. But I respect that he believed in a cause, and that he was prepared to fight for it. So I will leave it at that.
The positive side of his death, at least for me, was that the Trump wire-tapping fiasco finally fell off of the news here. Something considered to be more relevant to UK politics had finally happened, so we were spared yet another day of ‘Was he, wasn’t he? Was GCHQ involved’? The constant speculation on our news media.
My opinion is a matter of record. I firmly believe that all presidential candidates, and Presidents, have been systematically wire-tapped, ever since the technology existed to enable it to happen. Certainly since the time of J. Edgar Hoover, and ever since then. It just seems obvious to me, but it has apparently surprised almost everybody else.
I am sick and tired of the constant bat and ball accusations surrounding the alleged Trump phone tapping. I am never going to comment on it again. And I don’t want to hear or read anymore about it. From anyone.
This means that I owe my thanks to Mr McGuinness. He died just at the right time.