Trump – Don of a New Amerika?

 

This inauguration was a strange and powerful event. I was as shocked and horrified as many at the thought of a ruthless property tycoon holding the powerful position of American President. That said, I took great pleasure in the defeat of Hillary Clinton, whom I loathed for deeds already committed. But as those who know me know, I see voting as little more than a novel way of determining who is to be the ruler and one which magically bestows upon them the will of the people, even if just a quarter of “the people” made up the majority of those who voted.

I found Trump’s inaugural address to be riveting and at times it truly moved me, so much that I remember wondering if I could bring myself to admit to this. He was saying a lot of right-on stuff about America being controlled by the very establishment elite that surrounded him right there, and how he was giving power back to the people. I felt better about my feelings when two BBC commentators thereafter said they thought many of Trump’s words could have come out of Bernie Saunders’ mouth.

When candidates are on the campaign trail, we are used to them saying whatever they need to get votes, delivering conflicting messages to different groups. Now Trump has won he doesn’t need to re-iterate these promises, but did so in force, in a speech that broke tradition and spoke of America today, recognising the internal decay that is apparent in much of it. He has hand-on-heart forcefully promised to bring the American people into the process of government, and break the power corporations exert on the state. Whether he can deliver this is another question, but he has left no room for excuse if he fails. With his reputation so strongly pinned to success, failure could destroy him. Whether America goes bankrupt in the process is another matter.

Yes, I was impressed by his address overall, despite a few references that stirred those hairs on the back of my neck. It sounded like he meant what he was saying, but maybe he’s just good at that, regardless of his intention. I am keenly aware that many despots have known what people wanted to hear and led them to ruin on the pretext of delivering what they wanted. America’s state promises to protect its people from terrorists, and bleeds them dry fighting bogeymen of their own creation. Will Trump deliver on his promise to end extreme Islamic terrorist groups, with the consequent loss to America’s war industry? We shall see.

I was deeply disturbed by three aspects of the event, offsetting my enthusiasm for the new President’s powerful rhetoric. First was the strong militaristic imprint of the occasion. Just as he promised to give control of America back to the people a curious group of soldiers in dress uniform assembled behind him, filling the frame until being dispersed. He beat the patriotic drum and wants to rebuild America’s sadly “depleted: military – one already spending more than the next 8 nations combined (not something he mentioned). I later discovered that military chiefs shot down Trump’s request for tanks and missile launchers to be included in the official parade (like in the old USSR). They would have chewed up the roads.

Senator Chuck Schumer gave me chills all over, speaking before Trump about repairing the nation’s fractured press, and dealing with threats to the state, foreign and domestic. He heaps praise on the military and read out a nauseating letter that he found inspirational, from one Major Ballou, of the Rhode Island Volunteers in the American Civil War. The letter to his wife is all about why he is willing, and happily duty-bound, to die for his magnificent state. My stomach turned at Sarah, my love for you is deathless, it seems to bind me to you with mighty cables that nothing but Omnipotence could break; and yet my love of Country comes over me like a strong wind and bears me irresistibly on with all these chains to the battlefield.” Less that 1 in 20 of the Union fighters were lost that day and Sullivan Ballou was one of them, his leg torn by the cannonball that killed his horse. He was carried off the field, his leg amputated, and abandoned when the army retreated, his body never to be recovered. I wonder if his patriotism was comforting as he approached a lingering end.

Ah, then there was the religion – lots of religion, though nothing of the Muslim variety. We got more on sacrifice here as well. Before he was even the candidate I recall being chilled by seeing Trump in a ritual with fundamentalists laying hands on him and all kind of shit. When researching my book, Sun of gOd, I realized that religious fundamentalism could be as dangerous coming from Christians as from Muslims or Jews. When you are obeying God’s commands there is no place for human idiosyncrasies like compassion or rationality. So yes, this heaving steeping of religion in the inauguration was disturbing, though raised a laugh when the preacher man hoped God would bless Trump with the humility of Jesus.

The final disturbing part was the distinct absence of colour in this supposed melting pot of the world. We had to endure bouts of patriotic singing from two different choirs, about 40-60 strong and as far as I could see there was not a single face of colour in either of them, apart from one man of oriental descent I spotted. For a while I wondered if the Obamas would be the only two Africa Americans at the event, but then a handful of others became involved. There was some lip service and the old cliché about all races having the same colour blood, but white faces predominated to a noticeable degree.

For me, the clinching finale of this political charade was at the Presidential Lunch where Donald Trump stands up to say how honoured he is that Bill and Hillary Clinton had joined the party. He asks them to stand and showers them with his respect! Sure they hurled scathing abuse at each other during the campaign, but only for political reasons (which we all know to be phoney). Now the match is over, the loser congratulates the winner and shows them respect, like tennis players shaking hands at Wimbledon.

That’s politics for you, my friends, and if you remain optimistic that voting and the wonderful democratic process are going to ensure that only good people get into power then you have been sadly unobservant of what has going on for as long as it has been going on.

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The wheel needs a whole new hub, not just another president.

 

Peace in Syria – nearly there?

A cessation of hostilities is set to commence in Syria at sunset on Monday 12th Sept. The US and Russia have come up with a plan. It is excellent news but makes a mockery of the idea that this was a ‘civil war,’ when negotiations take place between outside nations.

In October last year, when Russia entered the Syrian conflict, I predicted that it would bring an end to this horrific war. I re-iterated this in March, when Islamic State were kicked out of Palmyra.  At the time it looked to me as if some key players were primarily interested in conflict and as it Russia actually wanted to end the war, not support the arms industry. It now looks as though they have.

Before Russia, there were countless forces on the scene, like when a bunch of drunks in a club pile into a fight that started between just two of them. When it’s escalated into a brawl it can be difficult to discern who is on what side.  After a year this particular brawl was going nowhere and in danger of fizzling out when Secretary of State Hillary Clinton arrived with sacks of cocaine and a tanker of Jack Daniels – figuratively speaking, of course.

Why was Hillary so keen to stoke-up this conflict, pumping in loadsa money and expertise? Thanks to Edward Snowden we now see that it was being done at the behest of Israel, as a tactical move against Iran. As she put it in her leaked memo, “The best way to help Israel deal with Iran’s growing nuclear capability is to help the people of Syria overthrow the regime of Bashar Assad.” The majority of people in Syria supported Assad before this conflict began and still do. Our ‘side’ was against Assad and we were conditioned to see him an insufferably evil tyrant to be deposed, despite the fact that there was no exodus from Syria before this conflict erupted. Now, we should see a reverse exodus as refugees return to their homeland and rebuild, as humans do.

Syria is a beautiful country and the one from which my father’s parents emigrated to America. The images we see are all of death and destruction but much of Syria has not been so terribly affected. Normal street life and night life and village life does go on but pictures of it don’t sell newspapers. Syrians are smart, industrious, and equipped for the task of rebuilding their nation.  Parts of London were obliterated by the Blitz in World War 2 but most of it survived intact and the city rose again. But why do we have to go through this shit?

We have been suffering at the hands of psychopaths who get to the top of our governing system for a few millennia now. The earliest state was conceived as a means to transfer money from the many to the few, because the few have the power to take it by force, having passed laws saying they can. Today’s state still transfers wealth, still upwards, despite a fraction of it getting sprinkled back. Whether by ballot or bullet, how rulers acquire power is irrelevant in the broader scheme of things. If they survived in their seized territory for long enough, Islamic State would get their seat at the United Nations. Rulers will from time to time be fighting over who rules which resources, including us, and when they do, we are the collateral damage. They are not a necessary evil. I feel a rant coming on, but since I wrote a book, there’ll be no need for that.

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the wheel needs a new hub, not just another revolution

From the BBC 

Russia and the US have announced an agreement on Syria starting with a “cessation of hostilities” from sunset on Monday. Under the plan, the Syrian government will end combat missions in specified areas held by the opposition. Russia and the US will establish a joint centre to combat so-called Islamic State and al-Nusra fighters.

The announcement follows talks between US Secretary of State John Kerry and his Russian counterpart, Sergei Lavrov. The plan would need both the regime and opposition “to meet their obligations”, Mr Kerry said in Geneva. The opposition had indicated it was prepared to comply with the plan, he said, provided the Syrian government “shows it is serious”.

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