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.
Well 2016 was a year wasn’t it?
So we started 2017 with a US President that apparently nobody wanted, a British Prime Minister who got her job more or less by default, and a Labour Party leader whose own colleagues continue to try to depose. Add to that the rise of the Right across Europe, the squabbling over Brexit and the referendum continuing, and the media-inspired panic about Russia’s intentions and China flexing its muscles. It is looking as if this year is going to be an unmitigated disaster for the world, and will change everything as we know it.
Or will it?
Like it or not, Trump was elected. I don’t like him, but I had little time for Sanders or Clinton either. He has started to do exactly what he said he would do, much to the consternation of those who never believed he would go through with it. So he sends silly tweets, and shows off about the numbers who attended his inauguration. He isn’t very statesmanlike, and still looks somewhat surprised that he is really the president. No surprises there. He may not be allowed to get many of his policies past Congress, but at least he is trying to deliver what he promised, whether we like it or not.
Theresa may won the leadership election and stepped in after Cameron chickened out and left the game like a spoilt child, taking his ball home. Her party was never elected on the basis of her being its leader, and she was firmly against leaving the EU in the past. Yet she stepped up, got on with the job, knuckled down to negotaiting with the EU, and even going so far as to hold hands with Trump, hoping for a beneficial trade deal. Now that’s dedication. I would never vote for her party unless I had senile dementia, but given the alternatives at the moment, she has got to be the best of a bad bunch.
Jeremy Corbyn continues to behave with great dignity, despite so many of his so-called colleagues and former friends doing everything but stick a real knife into his back. That bunch of Tony Blair wannabees are more interested in personal power, than in the integrity of their own, supposedly Socialist, party. But the membership, the real people, those without any political influence, they still believe in him. Unless the whole constitution of the party is changed by the plotters within, they are likely to keep him in charge, so that we might continue to see real policies like nationalisation of industries, free university education, and a properly funded health service. Because once he has gone, you can bet your life his successors will be getting out their neutral coloured ties, and matching them with nice blue suits, as they water down everything to appeal to the confused middle classes.
So what am I saying?
In short, just let them get on with it. ‘Special Relationship’ or not, America is a foreign country. Just because some of them sound a bit like us, and they use an approximation of our language, doesn’t make their business our business. Let Trump rise or fall doing what he said he would do, and history will judge him.
As for Prime Minister May, she seems to be doing well enough, at least for a Conservative. I didn’t want her government, but I am stuck with it. So leave her alone to get on with what we voted for, getting us out of the EU.
And whatever you think of Corbyn, the Labour Party would be a grey place without him in it, and the policies would be hard to separate from those of the government. Besides, the members voted for him, so he should stay. That’s democracy, isn’t it?
Or is Democracy only good when you get what you want?
I doubt that anyone was more surprised than Donald Trump himself, when he became president-elect of America this morning. The current trend for overturning the expected, and making a mockery of the opinion polls has reached across America. Once again, it would seem that the silent majority has chosen to become the outspoken majority.
Of course, less people actually voted for Trump than for all of his opponents combined. But the electoral college system, much like the first-past-the-post system we have in the UK, is no respecter of majority voting. Whatever the arguments behind the system, he has won. It was a surprise to me, as I had always expected Clinton to get almost 60% of the vote. It is not the first time this year that I have been surprised at the outcome of a vote.
Although I voted to Leave, I was still overwhelmed by the decision of UK voters to reject the EU. That same silent majority, many who didn’t normally bother to vote in any election, have sent a clear message to the Establishment, in both countries. Ignore the ordinary people at your peril, or you will eventually reap what you have sown. Of course, I am no fan of Donald Trump. Then again, I wasn’t that happy with the alternative. But I am not an American, and it is not for me to tell them what to do with their country. However, that country does have an impact on what happens in the rest of the world, so it is understandable that outsiders may have opinions and concerns.
It is early days yet. Despite the rhetoric, Trump cannot just steamroller his plans, and some of his more bizarre ideas, through the American political system. He has to get laws approved, and policies agreed and funded. To presume that he is a one-man band is naive, as it is to believe that he will go ahead with his electoral promises. There is unlikely to ever be a wall built along the border with Mexico. Though immigration laws might become tougher, and we could well see a drift back to a more isolationist country, with the introduction of trade tariffs and increased import taxes.
But the dollar rules in the USA, and in most of the western world too. Sooner or later, big businesses will carry on behind the scenes, allowing Trump to do what is best for them, if not for the workers who mainly voted for him. There is unlikely to be a re-birth of the American Dream. For the rest of us outside of that country, once the streamers have fallen to the floor, the balloons deflated, and the cheering can no longer be heard, it will be situation normal in America.
For those of you unfamiliar with this expression, it means ‘no choice at all’. For the historical definition, please click on this link. https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Hobson%27s_choice
In November, the people of America will be making their choice. The two candidates are finally confirmed, and depending on what you read, or who you believe, it will be a close outcome. For those of us across the Atlantic, it seems almost incredible that it has come down to these two people. Are they really the best that a nation of 320,000,000 (est.) can offer?
One one side, the self-publicising, strangely-coiffured Donald Trump. He plays the whole thing as if he is making a spoof documentary about the worst possible candidate for the job. Blatant racism, ridiculous statements, a wife who looks like a terrified android, and stumbling, ranting speeches ending in phrases such as, “I love you all”, or “Let’s make America great again”. Does anyone look at this man and seriously believe that he has one iota of credibility? Apparently so. He is said to have ‘connected with the dispossessed’ in the forgotten areas of that vast country. They should be aware that they will soon be forgotten for good, if he ever gets into the White House. Does admiration for wealth really drive people on the poverty line to vote for this man? It seems that it might. In a country that still believes that anyone can be the president, that statement may well come to haunt them.
Trump’s Democrat opponent, Hilary Clinton, looks likely to become the first woman president of the USA. She is mired in double dealings, and the former machinations of her husband, and others in the Democratic Party. Her reputation is far from good, let’s face it, and if she was up against anyone other than the vile Trump, she might well lose. What do you get, if you choose Hilary instead of Donald? More foreign wars, more CIA/NSA controls, more involvement from big business, more control by foreign money, and the other big players on the world stage. What you won’t get is a better deal for women, the poor, and the underprivileged. Just because Hilary is female, don’t think that will change anything.
So what to do? How should the American voter react, faced with this ‘no choice’ choice? You could decide not to vote. Then whoever wins will have no real mandate from the people to govern. But that won’t matter to them. They won’t care a jot. You could vote for Hilary so you don’t get Trump, that might be the lesser of two evils. She might even be counting on you to do that. If she wins in November, it will not be because people wanted her, but because they couldn’t face life with Trump as president. I have no suggestions. To be honest, if I was an American, I would be thinking about moving.