The Pumpkin essay: They hate our way of life. (‘I never mentioned Israel’).

“The fact that no British politician other than poor Mr Corbyn dares to admit that we have been bringing this on ourselves for 150 years …. is itself the very root and branch of last night’s tragedy.”

They hate our way of life

The suicide bombing that killed 22 young concertgoers and waiting parents in Manchester last night was a filthy atrocity that is still raw and resonant in the light of dawn. The Pumpkin debated with himself long and hard during the sleepless toothaching hours of this morning whether or not it was too soon to share certain thoughts with our Spammers, Likers, etc. that rose to the surface about, particularly, the timing of the attack.

The Pumpkin however is not known for the longevity of his memory and so felt it better to set matters down now. If you don’t wish to be irked today, come back some other time.

It was possibly just fortuitous. Some commentators pointed to the fact that it is the fourth anniversary of the murder in London by extremist Islamic ‘converts’, two African men of low intelligence, of Fusilier Lee Rigby, an off-duty soldier seemingly victimised at random as the symbolic target of some incoherent malcontent.

But the two events seem barely tangential and there is plenty else going on to explain an outrage at this time, if explanation is required (which, as I go on to explain, it isn’t… at least, it will not be encouraged).

The circumstances are as they are: the pieces of the perpetrator will no doubt be identified in the coming hours, their contacts file raided before dawn, possible accomplices arrested, CCTV and phone images and witnesses interviewed, photos of the tragic victims sourced – the media will (indeed, judging by the headlines emerging from online press it already has) brush down the narrative of the ‘men of evil’ who ‘hate our way of life’.

Amid the hand-wringing pieties and defiant rhetoric of politicians who have nothing left to say we shall no doubt hear the sound of stable doors being resolutely bolted to ensure that ‘nothing like this ever happens again’, while knowing in our heart of hearts that of course it will.

The one thing that can be done to honour the dead will not be done: end the war.

The last criminals to bomb Manchester were the Provisional IRA in 1996, a huge demolition job that injured over 200 people but, thanks to a partial warning given in advance, led to no deaths. The IRA were less interested in killing people en masse than in demonstrating that they could if they wanted to. Though, of course, ‘regrettably’ people were occasionally killed, the conflict was eventually ended not with semtex and the Armalite, but by negotation and seeking the other person’s point of view.

Some other people will draw moral equivalence between this random attack on our children and the many, many instances of civilian collateral deaths in the so-called war on terror, that is visiting appalling hardship and mounting casualties daily on poor villagers from what is inaccurately claimed to be ‘precision-guided’ aerial bombing in Syria, Iraq, Yemen, Afghanistan – aimed (but not very well) at terrorising the fanatical army of Abubakr al-Baghdadi – IS – into submission. An army born of Western intervention and supplied by America’s persistent arming of the Gulf states and supposedly friendly militias.

Appalling, but no longer, by example, unimaginable. From time to time we feel the backlash and gain a glimpse. Or rather, we don’t. Our ‘glimpse’ of their pain is invariably subsumed by the authorities into a narrative of inexcusable hatred of ‘our way of life’ – as if we don’t hate theirs back. Any other response is considered profoundly unpatriotic.

It might all make more sense if the authorities – the government – would openly admit to what the national policy in Syria and Iraq actually is; the problem being, they don’t know. There isn’t one. It’s all about blindly following some agenda set by ‘the West’ – whatever that is – that we have passively gone along with for decades since ceasing to be the imperial power in the region.

Perhaps the real crime is that what is being done there in our name makes so little impression on us here, three thousand miles away, where we go about our business in denial, blind to the suffering of others – until the refugees arrive on our doorstep and the media and the politicians conspire to affect surprise and consternation as they force shut the gates against them.

Perhaps they have not rejected the refugees because of who they are, but in order not to alarm the population too greatly as to WHY they are.

The Pumpkin regrets that, whatever the historical justification, the official version, the uncomfortable fact is that there is a war on, and that the inexplicable, evil ‘terrorist’ acts are also acts of war is simply not an argument it is permissible to make in our country. Let us just say then that the number of civilian deaths (including many ‘beautiful babies’ and wedding parties inadvertently reduced by Allied ordnance to unidentifiable body parts) in those one-sided conflict zones has increased markedly since the arrival in office last January of President Trump. (See link below)

In his determination to impress the dumbfucks with his toughness and singleminded ambition to ‘make America great again’, Trump has removed even the flimsy cover of the rules of engagement, while imposing the flimsy cover of a news blackout on military affairs. We can see how this may be giving certain elements on the opposing side, which appears to be losing its grip both on human unreason and conquered land, cause for yet greater anguish; while, from a British dimension, Mrs May’s unconsidered support for Trump’s circus of the grotesque will not have gone unnoticed (see below).

While Mr Trump insists that his intensification of the Kissinger doctrine of ‘just bomb the shit out of them’, encouraged by the manufacturers of bombs, will ‘keep people safe on our streets’, elementary logic dictates that it will have precisely the opposite effect – and elementary cynicism suggests that that is precisely the intention.

Safe streets do not require the imposition of authoritarian regimes through dubious stratagems well-funded by uber-capitalist billionaires hell-bent on extracting for themselves the last ounces of wealth from a dying planet.

Rather than looking to the anniversary of the killing of Fusilier Rigby, one might look to the more contemporaneous speech Mr Trump delivered in Riyadh three days ago to the representatives of the Arab world, a speech written (it’s said) by his notoriously Islamophobic, obnoxious young advisor, Stephen Miller, calling for a final push to end violent extremism.

As if!

The Pumpkin respectfully suggests that as long as there is a cause for extremism there will be extremism. Trump could bring about the ‘beginning of the end’ of the war on terror by calling off his bombers first and not selling another $300 billion-worth of armaments to Saudi Arabia, a medieval terror-sponsoring autocratic petrodollar state hagridden with hypocritical royal princelings, that seems to thrive on glut.

Instead, he brings the terrorists within his own limited compass, describing them as ‘losers’. For Trump, life is simple: you are either rich, or you are nothing. A winner, or a loser. The president is sick beyond redemption, scarcely even human: a brash, vain money-breather with a brain made from congealed greed. Yet in a way, he has hit the nail on the head. Violence is the last refuge of the ‘loser’, when economic power is denied them and the violence of superior wealth, the violence of the winners, is visited daily on their nation.

(It should be pointed out respectfully that if it should prove to be the case that the Manchester bomber was a Muslim, he or she will almost certainly have been inspired by one or other branch of the faith that has its roots in Sunni wahabbism as practised, promoted and financed by Saudi clerics, and not in Shi’a or Sufism. Thanks to its insatiable demand for oil, America has always had great difficulty in determining who its real enemies are.)

We are living in a very odd time, are we not?, at which our rulers are prosecuting a war over our heads, largely hidden from the sight of the population at large; so that it is only brought home to us that ‘something is going on’ when atrocities are perpetrated on our own soil, in our concert halls, whereupon they are invariably represented to us as somehow inexplicable and random instances of ‘evil’, devoid of meaning or context.

It is simply not permissible to question the nature of this ‘evil’ or even to suggest it may have roots and cause and reason; as to do so would be to start to pull aside the veil. All that may be said of it is that there is an ‘enemy within’, who might be the hateful stranger next door; fear is turned against us and we are helpless in the face of it, reliant entirely on the State apparatus, on State power and secret knowledge, to ‘keep our streets safe’.

And when, inevitably, it is brought home to us – thankfully very rarely, this was the first bomb attack (we are told) on the UK mainland since 2005 – that our streets are not so safe, and can never be, the first instinct of the State is to add extra layers to the cocoon of platitudes that stifles rational debate.

No-one suggested the bomber wanted to destroy British values, Mrs May. That’s you talking out of your book of post-outrage homilies. It seems far more likely the bomber wanted to make a point by destroying Western children, which is why he targeted a concert for the young fans of Ariana Grande.

It takes perhaps a more sophisticated understanding of the nature of modern ‘hybrid’ or asymmetrical warfare than has yet caught up with the majority, fed on stirring tales, who may still think of a war as a confrontation formally declared and conducted between States with armies and navies and airforces, between ‘our boys’ and their ‘terrorists’ (our ‘heroes’, their hate-filled ‘murderers’) along more or less equal lines.

The so-called ‘Gerasimov doctrine’ however introduces precisely the mix of random and inexplicable events as elements of a wider picture, of present and future conflicts conducted in many ways and on many levels wherever opportunity arises, through computer hacks and disruptive malware, propaganda coups, ‘fake news’ and confusion, financial chaos and the encouragement of political instability, inexplicably shifting allegiances and illogical interventions; yes, occasional ‘terrorist outrages’ too – with only the thrust and parry of actual armed conflict from time to time to indicate that anything is going on.

As this ‘war against terror’ as Mr Bush defined it has no State enemy, is prosecuted in our name under a cloak of secrecy and deniability wherever the State chooses to pursue it, in whatever way, it is simply not possible for us to address the underlying narrative, the historical causes, of the violence – perhaps even to end it – to put finite limits on it without admitting that, yes, there is a reason, there is a cause, a historic injustice to which the word ‘unacceptable’, that favourite epithet of politicians, cannot be applied without undermining everything we are told we must stand for, our sacrosanct ‘way of life’, against which all argument such as this essay is ‘unacceptable’ – treason.

‘Our way of life’ is code for an increasingly fractious and irresponsible society where glaring inequality, economic stagnation for the many, unprincipled accumulation of wealth by the few, ersatz kultur, gargantuan waste and the growing signs of unsustainability are skated over, as the supermarkets struggle to keep up the appearance of infinite abundance in the face of rising commodity prices and crop failures; as the Arctic warms to boiling point.

Yet it is our government that has put our values, our ‘way of life’ on the line.

We are, it seems, here in Britain trapped in yet another election period, characterised by the de facto Prime Minister’s insistence that the principal motive for holding this election now, four years early, is to cement her in power, on the grounds that ‘only she’ can provide the ‘strong and stable leadership’ required to navigate us through the choppy waters ahead.

How many times have we heard this same bullshit from the vain and the overweeningly ambitious?

Mrs May has already demonstrated that she is not interested in Parliamentary democracy, by fighting a (losing) legal battle to deny Parliament the right of even a hint of a veto or any discussion over negotiations which she will personally oversee in order to obtain the best deal for Britain, a ‘red, white and blue Brexit’, in the minor matter of our shameful abandonment of our treaty obligations to 27 other European states, regardless of the damage to our long-term economic and security interests. Inasmuch as there is a long-term.

Indeed, so autocratic is the diffident lady that she has virtually abandoned her own Conservative party. There is almost no mention of the name in her communications with the public, who are henceforth to refer to the venerable party as ‘Team May’. Just what the hell is going on?, to quote former Candidate Trump. (Well, we now know, as details emerge of massive contributions to her election war-chest from three leading oil industry executives, while millionaire fund managers openly propose to buy politicians amenable to their profitably disruptive model of a ‘hard Brexit’.)

Three days ago, however, Mrs May’s seemingly unassailable poll ratings began to tumble, as she was forced through audibly gritted teeth to defend the presentation of, and possibly even backslide or even flip-flop on, a number of unthought-through promises contained in her manifesto, hastily drawn up by her exclusive inner circle of unelected advisors – including a former regional editor of the Daily Mail – policies that would have devastating financial consequences, both for poorer children and the frail elderly.

It is of course churlish to say what The Pumpkin is going to say next, outrageous and unacceptable, in very bad taste indeed; not the time, if ever there could be an appropriate time to discuss such an appalling event in such dishonourable terms. (There is of course not the slightest suggestion of any direct link or any such inference to be drawn here.)

But it is an ill wind, they say, that blows nobody any good.

Following the Manchester bombing, it would be invidious of some unscrupulous blogger fairly high on the Asperger’s scale not to point to the likely effect on the election outcome, which must surely now be beyond doubt.

The former Home Secretary, having presided over the security apparatus for six years previously; the architect of so much anti-terrorism legislation, despite successive governments having denuded the police, the military and the security services of the manpower and resources to actually implement the legislation or defend the country, Mrs May has created around herself an invincible aura: the impeccable credentials of a Boudicca who will ‘guarantee’ the safety of our streets.

The saintly and sanctimonious Mr Corbyn, on the other hand, has been ruthlessly tarred in a long-running campaign with the twin brushes of flakey pacifism and fraternising with terrorists – one of those Islingtonian libtard snowflakes who prefers ‘jaw-jaw’ to ‘war-war’ and thinks one should negotiate with one’s enemies before squishing them –  ever since he was first elected to the leadership of the Labour party.

Why, the hoary old traitor would even refuse to commit our US-controlled nuclear ‘deterrent’ to a British first-strike if pushed to it! He’d be too scared to press the button! How can such a cowardly man be allowed to run the country?

There is now, surely, no contest. The crux of the election will already have swung from ‘Brexit’ to the rhetoric of ‘safe streets’. Once campaigning resumes, only Mrs May, channelling Thatcher, than whom she is allegedly more popular, will be said to have the strength and stability to stand up to the men of violence, etcetera.

The fact that no British politician other than poor Mr Corbyn dares to admit that we have been bringing this on ourselves for almost 150 years of meddling in the oil- and blood-soaked affairs of the Middle East against the stony backdrop of a centuries-old history of violent schism within Islam, invasion and crusade, empire-building and collision, the gerrymandering of artificial states and the finagling of corrupt and brutal autocracies, is itself the very root and branch of last night’s tragedy.

‘Evil’ has nothing to do with it. ‘Evil’ is indeed part of the same delusionary medieval mindset as that of the fundamentalists on both sides who are prosecuting this filthy and in large part covert war; an unending conflict between proxies of greater Powers, petrol poured over it and replenished daily by the arms trade, inasmuch as life here on the Western front mostly carries on as if nothing was happening; until it does.

The Pumpkin has tried for several months now to point to the quasi-mystical aspect of the current political paradigm-shift in the West, driven in part by wealthy ‘disruptors’ linked to ultra-nationalist movements with roots feeding deep on past glories, when heroic knightly Christians and evil profane Moors collided with one another at the gates of Jerusalem, of Vienna, Byzantium, Granada and Omdurman; and partly by the ‘global laundromat’ of hot money.

It is simply folly to deny this history and not see the contemporary resonances. They may be largely symbolic nowadays, with the entry of gangsterism and drones into the equation; but symbolism has become the rationality de nos jours. And those people want war, they crave instability, uncertainty. It’s good for markets.

It would be folly, too, not to try at least to comprehend the enormity of; the incredible complexity, the tangled warp and weft, the thrust and plot of labyrinthine Mid-Eastern politics on so many levels; the role of Israel, the machinations of the energy business and the Deep States, with their endless lethal games; the ancient tribal power struggles… we interfere at our peril, we understand nothing. These ought not to be our affairs.

Atrocities such as Manchester’s cannot be reduced to the one simple absurdity, the old cliche of an act that is purely ‘evil’. People just don’t blow themselves up in crowded places because they are ‘evil’, they do it out of desperation, they go crazy and do these things because nothing else is available to them; no other remedy for the pain in their heart, the confusion in their heads; not even the acknowledgment that they are fighting in a war which we have imposed on them: only the epithets ‘terrorist’. ‘Loser’.

We can manage our own atrocities, thank you.

Further reading: http://www.theguardian.com/world/2017/mar/24/mosuls-children-were-shouting-under-the-rubble-nobody-came

In the long run we’re all dead.

Isn’t he just priceless?

You may remember, there was a fuss the other week because, having fired the man investigating him over his dodgy Russian connections, the very next day Trump entertained the Russian foreign minister and the ambassador-spy at the White House, at the suggestion of Mr Putin?

And there, in front of a Russian photographer he blurted out information so secret that it came with a ‘Code-only’ security rating, that the US has ‘great intel’ such as was coming from right inside ISIS thanks to an ally in the region; the inference being that Israeli intelligence had an asset in Raqqa?

And when this was leaked, Trump got General McMaster, his head of national security, to deny that he’d given any secrets away? And then Trump went on TV and said he had an ‘absolute right’ to tell anyone anything he wanted, because he was the President. But he would never say where the intel came from, of course he wouldn’t?

So Trump is in Israel, there’s a press conference with Netanyahu, and the Trumpkin gets up and announces to the world’s press, ‘first I want to tell you, I never mentioned Israel. I never said it was Israel.’

And meanwhile it has emerged that Trump also informed his new buddy, the pockmarked litle thug Duterte of the Philippines, in a telephone call two weeks ago, of the whereabouts of two ‘very powerful’ US nuclear submarines.

This man’s IQ is very definitely somewhere in the 90s. Maybe lower. Immeasurably low. Especially when he tells the assembled Israeli ministers: ‘We just got in from the Middle East…’

And it appears that the lawyer he has briefed to defend him against the FBI’s investigation of his links with Russia is working for a leading Russian bank… his business partner is former GOP senator, Joe Lieberman, Trump’s (probably now abandoned) pick for director of… the FBI…

And it also appears that Comey was not the only one Trump begged to abandon the investigations into connections with Russia, a prima facie case for a federal charge of obstructing justice, but he also called the heads of the CIA and the National Security Administration and tried to get them to put pressure on Comey to back off the investigation into Flynn….

It’s like he’d rather be in gaol than in the White House.

What a loser.

x

xAmericans? Fuck ’em, says Trump

And if you want to know who really hates your way of life, please watch Senator Elizabeth Warren’s dissection of Trump and DeVos’s proposed $11bn education cuts in the federal budget, to pay for the Mexican border wall:

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=Ma5AsvIgbhw

It is so shocking you will not believe it. So if you don’t believe it, catch the full version with Senator Chuck Schumer:

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=98a3Uq3ML9A

(btw you may hear him refer to student loans. Mrs DeVos owns a company that buys up student loans and pursues students for payment with threats and property seizures.)

You may wish to conclude that Donald J Trump is a disgusting old orange slug and his placemen incompetent, self-interested, profoundly corrupted lunatics.

I couldn’t possibly comment.

Thursday’s Bogl in parenthesis: How is it Where You Are?

“A Texas man has filed a lawsuit against a woman for the cost of a movie ticket after she texted during their cinema date. Brandon Vezmar, 37, said the woman walked out of the screening of Guardians of the Galaxy, Vol. 2 when he complained about her persistent phone use.

“Mr Vezmar filed the petition in the state capital of Austin last week seeking $17.31 (£13.30), arguing his date’s behaviour was “a threat to civilised society”.” – BBC report

Hero.

Brandon Vezmar, 37, could well have just become the Saviour of the Universe.

Women who are congenitally unable to stop fiddling with their phones for more than a few seconds without breaking out in hives are indeed a threat, not only to civilization, but to the future of humanity. They need to be saved.

Wherever I walk li’l Hunzi, I am unable to shield him from the sight of approaching women pushing a buggy with one hand while delivering a running commentary on their vacuous thought process to some invisible friend via a small device held with the other. In a recent production of Shakespeare, the longueurs backstage were hardly enlivened by female members of the cast immediately pouncing on their phones after coming offstage, in case anything totally uninteresting had happened while they were distracted by having to do some acting.

If only there had been cellphone technology in the C16th.

By 2050 it will no doubt be reported that female babies are being born with a strange deformity of the arm, which is permanently crooked and attached to their right ear. In addition, they will have evolved hypermobile thumbs resembling small flippers with built-in predictive text.

Having said that, if my ‘paying date’ had dragged me to see ‘Guardians of the Galaxy, Vol 2’ after a slap-up $4 dinner, I’d have kicked him in the nuts and gone home to watch the box-set of Fleabag in the more intellectually stimulating company of my vibrator. A girl needs to feel valued.

But that’s just me.

x

“This lying fat orange shitbrains is just taking the piss.”

How is it where you are?

I’m hoping next time to make sure I bring the little stringy thing that connects this, muh annoying new laptop, to muh cellphone.

It’s ‘cos I have on it, some new photos of the astonishing Spring regrowth that has been erupting around us since the beginning of April.

I’d like to share them with you and may do so shortly. (Gottit!)

Eutrophication – warmer water containing added washed-down nutrients – has caused huge mats of green weed to cover the nearby river, such as I have never known. Meanwhile, a couple of rainy days have brought on the most astonishing efflorescence and a surge of green biomass such as we have never seen before, here in the river valley.

Huge clumps of wild plants are erupting either side of the rapidly disappearing footpath. Briar – fruits already forming – and nettles and cleavers and elder, Himalayan balsam, all fighting for light, tumbling over each other. Growth of grass in the verges has been rapid, dense, with the tall, undistinguished white flower spikes of plantain normally about 10 inches reaching two feet in height, vying for space with St John’s Wort, nettle, vetch and borage, Pennyroyal and cow-parsley.

Japanese knotweed stands already way above my head.

Notifiable – and  indestructible – knotweed growing three feet above my six-foot head.

Where the playing fields have not been closely mown there are vast mats of daisies, lying like late snow. In the wooded ares, daffodils, snowdrops, bluebells and harebells – all the flowers of spring – are already well over. Dandelion, buttercup and wood anemone are flowering vigorously. The gorse flowers, great acid-yellow swatches, that blazed all winter are dying off now. Bees hum on sunny days in the great pendulous clumps of mayflowers hanging from the hawthorn trees. Birdsong is everywhere.

It really is the most extraordinary Spring I think I have ever known. It began in early April. And it’s still only mid-May. In my tiny garden, I have one rose bush. It has put out three-foot-long greenshoots, each bearing heads of multiple flower buds they will be unable to support. Some flowered last week. It is still only mid-May.

This unprecedented abundance is probably because, for the first time in hundreds of thousands, maybe millions of years, Carbon dioxide – plant food – in the atmosphere is at 410 parts per million (Mauna Loa observatory, Hawaii) and rising.

On sunny days, of which we have had many, a cooling breeze blows gently in from the sea. Out of the wind, it has been comfortably in the low 70s F.

Other parts of the world are not so agreeable:

  • Twenty-seven tornados touched down in Wisconsin and Oklahoma yesterday, trashing a trailer park and killing at least two people. More scary tornado warnings are out tonite (19/05) across the midwest.
  • Donald J ‘criminal ecocide’ Trump has nominated an alt-right Christian fundamentalist, climate-change-denying ‘shock-jock’ radio talkshow host, Sam Clovis as Science Director of the US Department of Agriculture. Like Scott Pruitt at the EPA he has no scientific or sector administrative credentials whatsoever. This lying fat orange shitbrains is just taking the piss.
  • Carbon dioxide concentrations recently exceeded 560 ppm (NASA) in parts of West Africa and Central Asia, thanks to uncontrolled forest fires and annual agricultural burning. A problem with wildfires and crop-burning is that sooty particulates eventually precipitate out over ice fields where the darker surface increases melting of glaciers and sea ice.
  • Wildfires have destroyed 4,000 acres in northern Florida.
  • Record flooding with many casualties and mass evacuations has been reported just this week in Indonesia (Sulawesi/Borneo), Arkansas (state of emergency declared), Mississippi, N. Carolina (USA); Hungary/Romania; China’s Guangdong and four other provinces; Kenya and Kwa-Zulu Natal – South Africa; Chile (where over 1m acres were destroyed by wildfires in January); Haiti, Jamaica and Canada (state of emergency declared in Ontario province).
  • 137 mm of rain fell in 24 hours in Alicante, Spain; 280mm in Kamphaeng Phet province, Thailand. http://floodlist.com/america/usa/floods-arkansas-missouri-april-may-2017
  • Hundreds of pilgrims have been evacuated as heavy flooding hits the southern French town of Lourdes after days of rain.
  • A record-breaking 42 deg. C+ heatwave is affecting the Chennai area of Tamil Nadu, SW India for the second year running.
  • Two tropical cyclones are currently battering northeast and northwest Australia, with another Category 5 storm threatening Vanuatu, the second this year.
  • An earthquake ascribed to possible ‘isostatic rebound’ due to melting ice hit Greenland on May 8, triggering a massive release of methane. Methane levels have risen 256% from 1750 to 2015 and could double again by 2040 (Arctic News).
  • “The Global Seed Vault, buried in a mountain deep inside the Arctic circle, has been breached after global warming produced extraordinary temperatures over the winter, sending meltwater gushing into the entrance tunnel.” – BBC report. (The Norwegian-funded seed bank, said to be the most important reserve of plant genes in the world, was designed to last 1,000 years…)
  • While Colorado enjoyed heavy snow last night (20 May), some scientists are forecasting an ice-free Arctic ocean by September. Admittedly they have been saying this for the past four years. However, thanks to Arctic methane eruptions polynomial trendlines (best/worst-case scenarios) are pointing to possibly a global 3 deg. C. rise over 2018 and a potential, unsurvivable 10 deg. C. rise by 2021. (Arctic News).
  • April was the third warmest month ever recorded across the USA. Temperature in Washington DC yesterday touched 93 F.

The Pumpkin – Issue (where are we – 18?): The Sabotage Diaries; “What Is Wrong With You?”; Did you hear the one about the ISIS asset?

Editor’s note: apologies for the delay in getting this issue down – I’ve been busy and then I got an abscess and off my face on painkillers. Still not too coherent, I fear, trifle wobbly, but we can’t let the fan down. Bear with.

 

Special “What is wrong with you?” Issue

You let Hillary lose? You’re FIRED!

The Sabotage Diaries

By Skellytanne Conwoman ©2017 #desperationrow

Can no end be put to the relentless sabotage of Mr Trump’s inspirational and well-run American government for all the people?

It seems a piece of non-copyright music was added to the soundtrack of a wonderful video Mr Trump has tweeted-out to his millions of adoring followers around the world, explaining his entirely logical reasons for firing the head of the FBI, the showboating, disloyal little garbage-snooper, James Comey.

We don’t know who decided to use the stirring theme, or why. Astute Twitterates have tracked the music to a library, from where the following description is available:

“… “News Anchor” …  Powerhouse news theme with a classic network vibe. Designed for news broadcasting, newscast, breaking news, special news reports, financial reports, Wall Street, election returns, corporate branding, trade shows and infomercials. Instrumental, News, News Openings”

Notice, there is no mention of the Fake News that so stains the reputation of our treacherous media, enemies of the glorious people. But ‘election returns’? Surely, they taketh the pee-pee? The vile baboons who added this snatch of subversive, disloyal muzak to the video while totally lacking a sense of irony must be found and fired.

The Pumpkin is not a member of Twitter and cannot find the video, in which – ABC News says – Mr Trump has personally recruited a montage of leading Democrats being rude about Mr Comey at the time the FBI chief treacherously swung the Presidential election against Mrs Clinton who, as you recall, was a notorious criminal user of a private Internet server not unlike Mr Trump’s own private internet servers that are not, I repeat NOT, in constant communication with Russi… sorry, start again.

Of course it is outrageous that Mrs Clinton should have won the pop… sorry, sorry. I just can’t seem to avoid not lying about this… despite Mr Comey’s best/worst efforts (delete according to how much sleep the old bastard had last night and whether he’s taken his meds today – xxxSpicey, Lt, USN res. c/o USS Carl Vinson, somewhere). And she really wasn’t elected, honest.

Nevertheless the President has been seething for months about the FBI meddling in his international relations, as that surely ought to be the job of the CIA, and detests Mr Comey for being six inches taller (probably better endowed) and disloyally refusing to tell the White House first, unlike the new Director of the FBI, Mr McCabe, what he plans to say about his investigations about the White House to the Senate committee.

PS I see Flynn has been subpoena’d by those devious shits in Congress. What next, Special Prosecutor? Impeachment? Ha ha, don’t-think-so face!!!

(Remind self – get back on the media, tell them they’re never again to criticise any decisions of our glorious leader, refulgent in his golden aura. Etc – make it up as you go. Keep ’em confused! Hail Trump. K-A C.)

Postscriptum

Mr Reince Priebus (what is that, white South African? I think we should see his birth certificate) the White House Chief-of-Staff, has let it be known that if this sort of thing carries on the President intends to repeal the First Amendment to the Constitution, that he regards as a traitor’s charter for all that boloney about free speech and not making Betsy DeVos’ Bible Trutherism the State religion.

Oh, and also the bit about Americans’ right to protest against and even remove lying, overbearing, biddable, corrupt and incompetent, pouting monsters in the White House if they don’t care to be governed by that sort, he especially doesn’t get that part.

HAS ANYONE SEEN THIS MAN LATELY?

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In a daze

I’ve been in a daze since 3 a.m. Monday with a worrying abscess on one of the three remaining teeth to which my astonishing piece of bridge engineering, my entire smile is anchored.

It flared up either luckily or as a direct consequence only after my final appearance on stage Sunday night in our production of The Merchant of Venice. Some people have linked the two events, while I confess that having as yet no toothache, yet I had been unusually grumpy on Sunday afternoon, even for me.

The younger members of the cast I find particularly annoying as they’re either messing about, dancing around and chatting loudly, making too much noise backstage despite endless warnings from the director; or they’re coming offstage and straight on to their bloody mobile devices.

How the hell do you perform to your best level if you can’t concentrate on what you’re supposed to be doing for more than a nanosecond at a time? Those phones and tablets and even notebooks are a beastly distraction and yet, despite the entire history and culture of the human race being contained therein, no-one under 50 seems to know anything about anything anymore, being endlessly fascinated merely to gaze into the digital mirror.

Grrrr! (gnashing of elderly gums).

Looking up the range of side-effects of paracetamol, I can safely say I’ve had them all this week, only not yet death. Two 500mg caplets are supposed to give four hours’ relief, I was getting about 20 minutes. It became impossible to observe a four-hour gap between doses. I started to fly, my heart racing, saliva tasting – pee smelling – of paracetamol; chest pains, stomach pains, kidney pains, joint pains – rumblings and gurglings, headaches, tinnitus, shortness of breath and more.

The chemist pointed out that I could safely mix Ibuprofen between doses of paracetamol, so I started doing that. Then, one of those awful coincidences, in the supermarket I passed a newspaper stall and one of the tabloids was carrying a headline story: Ibuprofen doubles your risk of a heart attack.

I’m now on antibiotics and slowly coming down – as is my face, which yesterday swelled up like… a Pumpkin?, my top lip dragging downwards like a stroke victim’s, huge swellings on my gums, my left eye half-closed, my speech slurred like a drunk’s. At least the poison spreading from the root of my eye-tooth in finding an escape route through my sinuses had relieved the pressure on the nerve and, though tender, my top teeth were no longer firing darts of pain throughout my face, spreading through my body and keeping me awake in the throbbing small hours.

Anyway, I’ve been living on mush; soup, mashed potato, crême brulée. Anything that didn’t require teeth to eat. And, of course, no alcohol. 24 hours after my last fistfull of paracetamol I essayed an uncharacteristically small glass of Semillon-Chardonnay last night and slept until nearly 11 this morning. I forget what I was dreaming about, it seemed to go on for ages.

Which is all by way of saying two things:

  • First, I’ve been too mentally bewildered to write coherently about the latest, most amazing goings-on in Trumptown.
  • And secondly, even now I’m not sure I can keep up any longer, since every hour brings startling new revelations and reports of portentous signs in the sky. (I also find I am running out of pejoratives, can anyone help me there?)

Attorney-General Jeff Sessions ‘was present at the meeting’.

For instance, Mr Trump sent his notorious letter firing FBI Director James Comey, that he said was based on info given to him by Deputy Attorney-General ‘Rod’ Rosenstein, whereupon he had no option but to act urgently, but which it later transpired he had ordered Rosenstein to write in order to ‘cover’ his firing of Comey and the fact his supposedly ‘recused’ Attorney-General was present at the meeting which touched on the very matter, the Russia enquiry, he had recused himself from.

No sooner had Trump inserted another brazen lie, that Comey had assured him, like St Peter, ‘three times’ he was not personally under investigation, than MSNBC was reporting that the acting director of the FBI, the former Deputy Director Andrew McCabe, a 20-year man with a permanently worried expression, may have attempted to sabotage the investigation into General Flynn’s highly lucrative contacts with the Russians or otherwise broken ‘house rules’ by disclosing information about it to the White House.

In other words, he is not:

New FBI Acting Director McCabe Considered a Respected, Bureau Man

…as reported by MSNBC’s mainstream parent company NBC News, but is now – only one day later – said to have pedalled round to the White House on 14 February, two days after Gen. Flynn was resigned, in order to brief the President on the state of the investigations into Flynn (that may go on to compromise the President), and to reassure Chief of Staff Priebus that a report in the New York Times the previous day stating that the FBI was investigating ‘a number of’ Trump campaign staffers was ‘bullshit’.

Only it wasn’t. Numerous sources including British, French and Dutch intelligence, it’s now known, had been warning the National Security Administration of serious, repeated and ongoing contacts between members of the Trump team and Russian intelligence, since 2015. In the frame were Flynn, the reptilian ‘fixer’ Roger Stone, Carter Page (a minor go-between and energy ‘consultant’) and former campaign director, Paul Manafort – fired in July 2016, probably the first of Trump’s ‘bodies on the floor’: bodies connected with or looking too closely into the connections with Russia, Ukraine and the online sabotage of the election.

We know this, because NSA chief James Clapper told the Senate hearing so, two days ago. That’s the hearing at which Sally Yates, the former Acting Attorney General fired by Trump because she twice warned the White House legal advisor about Flynn, was finally able to confirm that Flynn, Trump’s ‘National Security Advisor’ – a man Trump tried for weeks to protect before ‘resigning’ him on a feeble pretext – a man who had previously been fired as unsound by President Obama – was possibly embedded with Russian intelligence.

The Pumpkin and a’ would like to know what Trump knew about Flynn while Flynn was merrily chanting ‘Lock her up! and encouraging the dumbfucks to revolt against the Obama regime, that had fired him. Was Flynn acting on his own, for his own PR company – or as a high-level go-between for Trump Campaign with the Kremlin? Or for Trump himself?

We now know, of course, that Obama’s expulsion of 35 Russian ‘diplomats’ in December 2015, a move curiously not resisted by the Kremlin after Trump condemned the move, was not because of the GRU’s hacking of the Clinton and Weiner emails, as the White House explained – but because of the ongoing direct contacts between Trump’s transition team, including Flynn, and Russian intelligence. Did Trump tip Putin the wink, that it was okay, he would put everything back again once in office?

And what did Flynn’s PR efforts have to do with lurid tales of a plot to kidnap and render Dr Fetullah Gulen, Erdogan’s nemesis, to Turkey. Was luring former CIA Director James Woolsey to that meeting just a way of ‘confirming’ a false-flag decoy operation? Was Flynn really working for Noble Energy to get an undersea pipeline built to sell Israeli gas to Turkey?

And why is almost everyone in this story called James? We should be told.

With the cadavers mounting up in the closets of the Oval Office, anyone with information possibly leading to his impeachment for treason, it surely has to be clear even to what Lord Chief Justice Denning famously termed ‘The Man on the Clapham Omnibus’, the definition of any reasonable juror, that Trump is in a state of blind panic and desperately manufacturing any nonsense to try to push the FBI and Senate investigations away from himself.

Careless talk costs lives

He seems too, to be rapidly losing support. He’s reported to have screamed abuse the other day at the reliable Gen. McMaster; while no-one has heard the name Steve Bannon mentioned for at least a week. And Priebus has apparently had to order staff to stop slipping fake reports to the President as he reacts instinctively to tweet out about everything that comes across his desk; a number of people have lost their jobs as a result of internal plotting.

Indeed, the Pumpkin might travel a stop beyond Clapham to ask whether the Trumpkin might not have had the chief reason in pursuing the presidency he’s never really wanted and is scarily bad at, being to obtain the one position in the USA where he might be immune from criminal prosecution?

The Pumpkin gathers too that Trump has hired a firm of rottweiler Washington lawyers to go after the press and anybody else who doesn’t think he is wholly innocent of what he has already admitted, that he has had dealings with Russia, maybe not ‘in’ Russia as he says, that may have seriously compromised his position.

Yet he continues to incriminate himself. In an embarrassing interview with NBC he prevaricated over which of two accounts he should give, saying both that Comey had requested a private dinner-meeting in January to discuss the Russia investigation AND that he, Trump, had requested the dinner. He has since also denied Comey’s memorandum of the meeting, saying he never asked Comey to declare his personal loyalty – a promise Comey as Director of an internal security agency with powers of law enforcement would obviously have had a problem giving, especially to the prime suspect.

Nor, one hopes, did he actually ask Comey about the possibility of locking up journalists guilty of writing unfavourable ‘fake news’ about him. Only Comey apparently thinks he seriously did.

And today Trump has invited to the Oval Office, Russian ambassador Kisliak and Russian Foreign Minister Lavrov. Right at the height of the fevered speculation of the world’s press as to his possibly compromised relations with Russia – or indeed about his fetish for pee-pee (if you think all this is planned policy for ‘improving relations’ with Russia and a Good Thing, get a brain).

Not to the State Department, as would be the normal protocol, but to the heart of the administration which Director Comey was beginning to prove they paid for. Is the President in their pocket, or just unbelievably stupid and reckless? And why was Lavrov there, what was the point of his visit?

But of course, Lavrov was going to be sent over to check on how much trouble Trump is really in. And Trump has already let slip that the meeting was arranged at the personal request of… Vladimir Putin, and that he ‘could not refuse’ it.

What, no horse’s head?

And the only media allowed in was the Man from Tass, following which Trump protested like a complete booby that he had been ‘tricked’ by Russians-who-lie into thinking this was Lavrov’s ‘personal photographer’. In fact The Pumpkin is not even certain if the Secretary of State, Rex Tillexxon was invited along, let alone the nurse who administers President Trump’s reality medication.

Yes, he actually invited an unknown Russian from a Kremlin-owned news agency with a camera and no security clearance into the Oval Office, along with the local chief spy and his Moscow handler.

And then boasted about his wonderful connections with Israeli intelligence, look, they’ve even got a guy inside ISIS who told us about the thing with the laptops you already knew about….

So dumb.

Donald, we all know you inhaled. It doesn’t matter, sweetie. Just come out with your hands up.

x

Four

For many months now Trump has been swearing and protesting loudly that he has and had no financial or business connections whatever ‘in’ Russia. It’s not a question of belief, everyone knows it’s a Big Lie. It’s more a matter of definition.

How do we know?

Because before his election campaign he was forever boasting about his connections with Russian oligarchs, having organized a beauty pageant in Moscow and attended a party where, he announced breathily, he had ‘met them all’

Yes, all those delightful, very smart, very rich people he owes money and favours to, but whom he sucks up to because they’re richer and more dishonest than he is. He just adores guys who get away with stuff the press wouldn’t let him. He admires people who kill people.

And because he has produced a letter, written a full two months before the accusation even arose, from some accountants in Washington swearing he has no links with or income from Russia – except for a few, and maybe just a bit. Why did he get them to write that? Oh, right. Flynn.

And because he has lavishly praised President Putin and had a strange financial relationship with Putin crony, ‘The Fertiliser King’ Dmitry Rybolovlev – a part-owner in Bank of Cyprus, a known money-laundering outlet with Russian and US shareholders and a direct connection to Deutsche Bank’s Moscow-based Real Estate investment branch, to whom Trump owes over $350 million of a $640 million loan he reportedly defaulted on in 2008.

And because he has borrowed money – hundreds of millions – from Russian (and Chinese) banks, both private and State – American banks will no longer lend to him, such a credit junkie is the President that he long ago maxed-out his Platinum cards in the USA – to whom (and others, including RBS) his son-in-law, Jared Kushner, also owes $1bn.

(If Trump is indeed a billionaire, why is his poor son-in-law, whom he has also brought inside the protective shield of the White House, having to finance his own property developments with massive unrepayable loans from foreign banks?)

This latter was confirmed by Eric Trump, the ‘Little Nazi’ who wonders why women don’t just put up with being groped, three years ago while unwisely playing golf with Arnold Palmer’s biographer, golfing writer James Dodson. According to a report in The Telegraph (07 May):

“Mr Dodson told Boston radio station WBUR: “This is the journalist in me, I said ‘What are you using to pay for these courses?’ And he (Donald Trump) just sort of tossed off that he had access to $100 million.

“So when I got in the cart with Eric, as we were setting off I said, ‘Eric, who’s funding? I know no banks, because of the recession, the Great Recession, have touched a golf course. You know, no one’s funding any kind of golf construction. It’s dead in the water the last four or five years.'”

“Mr Dodson claimed Eric Trump then told him: “Well, we don’t rely on American banks. We have all the funding we need out of Russia. We’ve got some guys that really, really love golf, and they’re really invested in our programmes. We just go there all the time.”

“We just go there all the time”…. To play pitch’n’putt on the Kremlin lawn? Maybe Eric was just being puppyishly naive in blurting out some nonsense he might have thought would impress Dodson? Maybe Trump was too?

Wikipedia reports:

“Golf in Russia is not yet widespread, not only because of adverse natural conditions, but also because the construction of golf courses requires large capital investments (a few tens of millions of dollars, usually more than a hundred). The first 18-hole golf course was built in the suburban area of Nakhabino in 1994, and remained the only one in the country for many years.”

Only a handful of Russians who ‘really, really love golf’ are professionals, maybe four or five. The Russian Open has been won pretty much every year by outsiders – few of them household names – since Konstantin Lifinov lifted the first trophy in 1993. There are only nine golf courses in the whole of Russia, with another ten ‘under construction’.

The question might then be, if Trump has to borrow to build, who funded the controversial Trump International course at Menie Park near Aberdeen, to the tune of $120 million? It’s obviously losing money, its Google entry is offering ‘no reservation fees’ and ‘half-price hotel’ deals.

Clearly Russia is an area the Trumps would like to get into, if they had the money.

Or might I put on a fiction writer’s hat and outline the latest James Bond plot, a conspiracy to launder $billions of Russian oil wealth through covering the free world in tasteless, unused golf resorts patrolled by thuggish staff, funded by sinister oligarchs, and bring down Western democracy in the process?

x

The wisdom of the innocents

Trump’s latest poll figures somewhat belie his claim that his first 100 days have been a rip-roaring success. CNN reports his overall approval rating at 35%, and when asked to give one adjective to describe the President of the United States, 38% replied: ‘idiot’.

“Businessman” was the word least associated with President Trump by those polled.

 

“Since taking office, Mr Trump has mounted a frenzied, hate-filled, childishly resentful onslaught on the Obamas’ legacy by every possible means, heedless of the immense damage he is doing to ordinary Americans in the process.”

38% of Americans believe this poor fellow is an idiot. Please give generously.

“What is wrong with you?”

The Pumpkin believes that Michelle Obama has struck, with customary charm and wit, upon the exact slogan The Resistance needs to confront this tyrannical and abusive old moron.

What indeed is wrong with you?

Since taking office, Mr Trump has blundered around, unable to concentrate for more than a few moments on any issue other than the precipitous nature of his election, making rambling, confused and self-contradictory, self-justifying statements blaming everyone and everything for things he just can’t do right, appointing certified cretins, racialists and sinister lobbyists to positions of power ranked according to wealth and insanity; screaming abuse at subordinates and trolling people and institutions at random with vacuous, illiterate Tweets.

What is wrong with you?

Well, we wonder.

His handling of the James Comey firing has been completely cackhanded, even for the CEO of a one-man business. After first driving his newly appointed Deputy Attorney-General, the formerly well-regarded Rod Rosenstein, to the point of resigning over a lie that he, Trump, had had to move against Comey urgently on the basis of a letter which, it transpired, he had forced Rosenstein to write (there’s always a letter), Mr Trump tried to shift the blame onto his hapless little Press Secretary, Sean Spicer.

Spicey has been effectively suspended for his abject performance (on ‘Naval reserve duties’ he is, as usual, all at sea) in attempting to defend his demented Master without being briefed about the circumstances and the reasons behind the precipitate decision. Mr Spicer was discovered by the press pack, hiding in the dark among the bushes on the White House grounds, imparting a Keystone Cops dimension to the story you could not make up.

This poor creature, once human, has been trapped for 110 days in the White House: Please Give Generously.

With further contradictory statements by the Vice-President, the snow-capped advert for Anusol, Mike Pence; Sarah ‘We hate Huckabees’ Sanders (Spicey’s unpopular-fat-girl-dorm-monitor deputy) and the increasingly loopy and defeated-looking Kellyanne Conway, the story was being spun everywhichway, including by the Orange Glow himself, even during the course of a single interview with NBC in which he as much as admitted what he didn’t want anyone to know, that it was to stymie the FBI investigation into his Russian connections.

What is wrong with you?

In the middle of the night he sits alone in the Oval Office, firing off dangerously abusive tweets about things that have upset him, that he has seen reported on Fox News, the unreliable TV channel he apparently watches obsessively all day, and which, aides say, is – along with the Breitbart News website – his principal window on the world as he refuses to receive briefings from actual experts: a clear sign of paranoia.

And – The Pumpkin is not a qualified psychologist but a nearly 70-year-old observer of human goings-on – to that amateur diagnosis must be added Mr Trump’s two main drivers of policy – if you don’t count the attraction of his weekly three-day golfing holidays at Mar-a-Lago, that have as of last weekend racked up a total of $27 million in travel and security costs to the taxpayer in only four months and cost the local community many more $millions in lost trade; which he has been told about, but does not care.

What is wrong with you?

One driver of policy is the unbearable knowledge that he really lost the election.

It preys continually on what remains of his mind, that he actually got 2.8 million votes fewer than his opponent, Hillary Clinton, despite the vitriolic campaign of hate which he and his team of fascist brownshirts, frustrated housewives and Russian agents spewed at her, unprecedented in modern politics.

He won the election, only because the numbers were affected in the Electoral College process by Republican gerrymandering in a few key ‘swing’ states, disenfranchising tens of thousands of potentially Democratic voters.

The campaign of dirty tricks included putting out fake-news messages on social media giving Democratic voters incorrect information about registration and polling dates; reducing the number of voting machines in poorer wards (sometimes through fake burglaries) in order to create unacceptable lines, and sending out to large numbers of mainly black and Latino voters who had previously been removed from the electoral roll without their knowledge ‘on suspicion’ of duplicate registration, non-valid polling cards. Such tactics affected tens of thousands of voters.

Nevertheless in his confusion, the 70-year-old Trump was told, presumably by Bannon, to keep tweeting that between three and five million unregistered immigrants had voted for Clinton – a completely preposterous meme that over 60% of his supporters came to believe; prompting ‘Morning Joe’ Scarborough on NBC to comment was the first case he had encountered, of a ‘sore winner’.

Add to Mr Trump’s equally neurotic obsession with trying to rationalize the relatively small number of people who turned out at his inauguration parade – for which he had raised $107 million in special donations (nobody knows where the money has gone, three times what it cost to bring out three times as many Obama supporters in 2008) – and the weekly ‘campaign rallies’ he keeps re-running all over the midwest, and you have a potent cocktail of grievance on which to endlessly brood.

His actual unpopularity haunts him night and day; indeed, he has been especially vengeful in shutting down the activities of the Parks Department, that reported the true official figures for his poor turnout and published the incriminating photographs showing an almost deserted plaza.

It is as if his great triumph in becoming President, the ultimate ratification of a life spent selfishly cheating people, never lasted beyond the moment of declaration and only the euphoria of that moment, the feeling of being swept along on an adoring tide, makes up for the sheer agony of having actually to do a job for which he is totally unprepared and unqualified. So many of his actions shout ‘Help, get me out of here’, even as he swaggers and bullies and lies his way daily deeper into trouble.

What is wrong with you?

There is no other route to political power in America, than through The Money.

His other great motivation is his equally strong hatred of the Obamas and their enduring popularity. How dare the uppity n-words get above him in social prestige? Especially when he and his dad invested so much in racially excluding tenants from their rack-rent housing projects.

President Obama was not quite the great black hope everyone imagined. Sadly, he is just another Wall Street white guy in disguise; a constitutional lawyer beholden to The Money. But what else could or should we have expected? There is no other route to political power in America, than through The Money.

Nevertheless, he is not a bad man. He did not try to grind the faces of the poor as the Republicans delight in doing, when they can be bothered to think about them at all between elections*. He genuinely did his best to bring about social reform, to extend free healthcare and to protect the environment. Despite his sorry record of extrajudicial killings, he is not thought to be an ecocidal money-launderer and serial bankrupt with connections to global criminal enterprises.

And Michelle has done sterling work all over the world in advancing the cause of public education and the advancement of women, a genuinely inspirational and gracious figure some say they wish would run for the Presidency.

Which is how she came to be at a conference in Washington yesterday on children’s nutrition.

Since taking office, Mr Trump has mounted a continued, frenzied, hate-filled, childishly resentful onslaught on the Obamas’ legacy by every possible means, heedless of the immense damage he is doing to ordinary Americans in the process.

He has attacked and attempted to rollback every single piece of legislation, every appointment the 44th President succeeded against the political odds in making during his eight years in office – including a tiny, inexpensive and inoffensive order requiring schools in the public system to meet proper standards of nutrition when providing pupils with meals.

When you consider that one State (Republican, naturally – what is wrong with them?) recently ruled that Pizza counts as a vegetable towards the ‘5-a-day’ target on account of it’s got tomato paste on it, duh, along with the processed cheese, you can see why it might be important to insist on a healthy balance of fiber, vitamins, minerals and other nutrients.

“We have a lot more work to do, for sure, but we’ve got to make sure we don’t let anybody take us back because the question is, where are we going back to?” Obama told a Partnership for a Healthier America summit in Washington.

“This is where you really have to look at motives, you know. You have to stop and think: why don’t you want our kids to have good food at school? What is wrong with you?” – Guardian Today report

It’s not an argument Sonny Purdue, the Agriculture secretary, would go along with, as, presumably in response to a Trump order, he has simply scrapped the requirement, the Pumpkin imagines in the face of lobbying pressure and much to the relief of the US’s vastly powerful junk food lobby, the ‘stuff everything with soya and sugar’ industry that is killing people around the world in large numbers for profit – another key plank of Republican policy.

What is wrong with Mr Purdue is easy to answer: he’s an asshole.

Mrs Obama’s comments, her appeals to Moms to fight this kind of Trumpenshit, apparently met with rousing applause; and not only from Jamie Oliver.

“What is wrong with you?” should be the question loudly demanded of every bribed Republican energy, arms, medical insurance industry and food-lobby shill in Congress, every member of Trump’s incompetent wrecking crew of billionaire Deplorables, every dumbfuck who voted to cancel their own healthcare, every supine journalist who goes along respectfully with the Office of President that is being daily disgraced and diminished by this lying, self-deluded old monster – and of the monster himself.

WHAT IS WRONG WITH YOU, TRUMP?

*As, for instance, the disgusting old Senate leader, Orrin Hatch, who has likened single-payer healthcare to being ‘on the dole’.

x

Did you hear the one about the ISIS asset?

Every new dawn brings news of yet another Trump gaffe, yet another hastily cobbled-together attempt by his frazzled staff to put him back in his box. And still no-one has the guts to have him removed from office, by force if necessary.

That meeting with the Russians? The Washington Post and others have been reporting, like a large orange baboon-child he blurted out to Lavrov a secret so secret it has a higher security rating than Top Secret.

It can, literally, only be spoken of in code.

Hey, guess what, I’m the President! Gee whillikers, who’d a’ thought it? Did you hear the one about the ISIS asset? Yeah, we’ve got one! His name’s dtgjk,skjiudcgtudjk, right?

Now, the subject matter of the coded secret isn’t actually a secret at all, it’s been in the papers for days. We all knew selected national security administrations around the world were making airports ban travellers from carrying laptops onboard as hand-luggage because of a tipoff that IS were planning to bomb one or more aircraft.

It must have been a pretty specific threat. But the real secret is who leaked it? The highest classification was designed to protect the source inside the IS, who given the difficulty of penetrating IS may be one of the most valuable assets on the planet. Trump apparently gave Lavrov enough background to enable the Russians to identify the source.

Now, the Russians, the US, Iran/Hezbollah, Israel, Jordan, Turkey, the Kurdish PKK militias, Bashar al-Assad and many others in the grand coalition are opposing IS. So we’re all on the same side, right? Well, no. The US is opposing Iran/Hezbollah on behalf of the Israelis, and the Russians are allies of Iran – Turkey wasn’t an ally of Russia but now is, only it’s an enemy of the Kurds… God, it’s a complete mess and I’m not even confident of finishing this paragraph.

Somewhere in the mess is Saudi Arabia, the oligarchic C15th dynasty that barbarously decapitates more people for less reason than ISIS ever did, where Trump is off to on a grand mission, his first trip abroad, to kiss the ring of the senile King and sell yet more $billions of arms to slaughter and starve more children and doctors in Yemen. (But not before he’s chocolate-caked President Erdogan in a summit of the world’s two leading authoritarian paranoiacs.)

And now the entire Gulf States region knows that Trump cannot be trusted with the secret of what day it is.

And Trumpski’s response to the shitstorm that even leading Republicans are gulping about?

“I’m the President. I have an absolute right to tell the Russians whatever I like.” (Actually, he doesn’t.)

The question must then surely be, if the info is fine to be given to the Russian Foreign Minister, what compulsion was there to send Lavrov in person all the way to Washington to receive it, when it could just have been exchanged via the normal channels?

He knows, he understands, he can be trusted with, nothing. Nothing whatsoever. He has become a grave concern to US allies and a laughing-stock at NATO, where it’s said they are preparing for his forthcoming visit with instructions to keep all speeches to under four minutes, in simple language and make them visually entertaining.

But the FBI has a way of eventually dealing with people like Trump, dangerous subversives, incompetent loose-tongued lunatics with dodgy connections, and you get a National Day named in your honor after the gun-carriage has passed by.

The BogPo: Mrs May is the very embodiment of British ghastliness.

Thursday again… except it’s already Friday! (I’m busy.)

I’d like to start in the laziest possible fashion by linking you somehow (you’re smart, you’ll figure it out) to a Guardian Today article : “Theresa May’s Brexit Britain can no longer be considered a serious country”

http://www.theguardian.com/commentisfree/2017/may/05/theresa-may-brexit-britain-uk-europe-liberal

Following which, ‘UltraLightBeam’ Commented:

Agreed. Just when you thought that there’s no further depths of stupidity for the UK to sink to, that we’ve finally reached peak stupid, a whole new vista of stupid yawns open.

The UK inexplicably voted to inflict serious harm on ourselves, and to inflict collateral damage on our closest allies. Now we’re simply amazed that the EU doesn’t just want to roll over and let us do what we want. But…but…we’re Britain! Don’t they know that? Why are they so vindictive? Why are they picking on us?

We choose Theresa May, the most awkward, stilted, charmless politician in recorded history to negotiate on our behalf. She predictably humiliates herself, and the UK, and then we blame the European press for pointing it out. Our own press foams at the mouth, spitting venom every day, but we expect the European press to be impartial. Why?

We disregard all logic and economic expertise, and make a stupid political decision to Brexit. Now we’re astounded that the EU are also prioritising political imperatives over economic ones, by making it difficult for us. Why do we expect completely different standards from the EU than we apply to ourselves?

There seems to be very little awareness in the UK, and definitely not from the government, that we’re the ones doing all this. The EU are just reacting, logically and predictably, to protect their own interests against our senseless, mindless, stupid actions. They’re not doing anything to us. We’re not victims here.

What’s happening now is what was always predicted, by everyone who knows anything about these things: the ridiculous fantasies of the Brexit campaign are coming into contact with reality, like a cruise liner grinding into an iceberg. And the magic beans salesmen who brought us here are busy blaming the EU for the mess they created.

I really could put it no better myself. Because I have done, many times – and was putting it, long before the referendum. Sadly, I have precisely 34 Followers – none of whom appears to be reading this, muh bogl, anymore. Most of them were only trying to sell me stuff.

And today, the BogPo had 17… spam messages from bots. An astonishing one-day record. And two Viewings. Yet we plough on regardless…

Led by a corporatist press that profitably descends into paroxysms of chauvinism at every turn, Britain has had a shameful record for many decades of whingeing and whining about our treaty obligations in Europe, always demanding special treatment and complaining of being bossed about, yet happy to benefit from our cut-price membership whenever decisions we help to make go our way.

As Helena Kennedy QC has pointed out, just one instance of the total, crass stupidity of the Leavers, no-one considered that the 27 remaining members are bound by the decisions of the European Court; so if we want to have new treaties enabling us to trade in Europe we will still be subject to European Court rulings – yet one of the principal arguments in favour of Leaving was that we would be free of the tyranny of the European Court!

And all the time this smug sense of superiority, even among the least cultured of us, shaven-headed, tattooed barbarians shagging in the gutters of package holiday resorts stinking of chips and good British vomit, that characterises the insular warrior nation reduced to a mere spear-carrier on the global stage.

There is just no self-awareness of how ghastly we are; and fittingly Mrs May is the very embodiment of British ghastliness, a woman for our time.

 

“…we are in the midst of a massive land grab for power by billionaires via our data. Data which is being silently amassed, harvested and stored. Whoever owns this data owns the future.”

– Carole Cadwalladr, writing in The Observer, 07 May (apparently, the only British journalist researching the story that you have been reading about for weeks in The Pumpkin – possibly the most important story you will ever read.*) Read it! Weep!

http://www.theguardian.com/technology/2017/may/07/the-great-british-brexit-robbery-hijacked-democracy

*So there’s a BBC Panorama programme on it tomorrow night.

 

 

 

The Pumpkin – Issue 17. The Bartered Bribe. Plus long essay: 100 Days of Sod ’em

“…gold is your God; which of you have not barter’d your conscience for bribes?”

The Bartered Bribe

By: Our Chief North America Correspondent, John Sopoor. ©2017 @support_us.gov

You know, I keep going back to a Post of The Pumpkin on 21 April which began with Oliver Cromwell’s famous 1653 speech dissolving the Long Parliament, and finding more and more resonances with Trump’s White House.

Once again I am indebted to Rachel Maddow at MSNBC for exhaustively explaining (her explanations can be pretty exhausting, and then you don’t get the meat of the story because she’s gone to a commercial break and the rest hasn’t been uploaded, but we’ll persevere) the background to yet another potential shitstorm, this time involving the plastic toy, Special Advisor and general US Government, Jared Kushner.

I have often exclaimed in mock despair that there appears to be no end to the stories and allegations of dodgy dealings surrounding  Trump and his family, going back into the mists of time and before; and it seems into the future, with no reprehension; no clarity, no remorse. I guess some families are just like that. The Borgias spring to mind.

But the Pumpkin’s famed despair is beginning to lose its mockiness. I read on the hot-news ‘crawler’ unspooling beneath Ms Maddow as she outlined the latest Trump family financial plans that, for instance, Ivanka Trump’s lovely face is now to be found on billboards announcing the opening of the Trump Tower in Manila, capital of the Philippines.

Now, Mrs Kushner – Ms Trump – Ivanka has an official position in the US government. She was appointed three weeks ago as a special advisor, given a title: ‘First Daughter’ (her wicked stepmom remains a prisoner in the gilded Manhattan tower), her own office and a brief in the White House – and a top-level security clearance.

Under the Emoluments clause of the constitution it’s illegal for public officials to profit from foreign business transactions, but here she is, advertising Orange Daddy’s hotel business, that she and her brothers Donny Jr and the Little Nazi, Eric, are supposed to have been put in charge of precisely so he isn’t compromised by his ownership of said businesses while he abuses the Office of President of the United States.

Well, fuck that for a game of soldiers.

Not only that, but Trump has invited Rodrigo Duterte, the President of the Philippines, to the White House – Duterte, a squalid little pockmarked thug who publicly called President Obama a ‘son of a whore’, has operated an open policy of paying police death squads and vigilantes to hunt down and murder anyone suspected of involvement in the drugs trade, the number of his victims now at 7,000 and rising; has compared himself favourably to Hitler, and who has boasted that he has personally murdered people, is considered by Trump a fit person to enjoy his chocolate-cake hospitality at the expense of the US government.

Could there be a connection? Is the US taxpayer, of whom The Pumpkin is one, paying for a private Trump Tower Manila-flavoured thank-you gift to Duterte? I don’t suppose in the midst of everything else we shall ever know.

Kushner is in fact all over the press today, it is necessary only to Google ‘Kushner, Guinea’ to get the story from several newspapers behind Maddow’s exposé of his business relationship with Beny Steinmetz, an Israeli businessman whose companies are in the New York South District Court dock right now, charged with paying massive illegal bribes to the government of Equatorial Guinea for iron ore mining rights, following an FBI wiretap operation involving the widow of the late President, Sekou Touré.

Israel-based Steinmetz is alleged to have invested almost $200 million in Kushner’s properties, including a Trump Tower project, since his firm was indicted under the Foreign Corrupt Practices Act. That in itself would be prima facie evidence of corruption.

Yet nothing seems to touch the Trump family. The recent piece of brilliant investigative reporting by Adam Davidson in the New Yorker magazine linking Trump Organization via Ivanka to a deal over a Trump Tower in Azerbaijan that appears to have been part-financed with laundered money from the Iranian Revolutionary Guard (a proscribed terror organization) in breach of international sanctions, through the profoundly corrupt Mammadov family, seems to have attracted barely more than a yawn, and a ‘well, he’s Trump, what do you expect?’ from the authorities. (The Trump lawyer who carried out the apparently innocent ‘due diligence’ search and greenlighted the illegal project in Baku has been given a key post in the administration.)

These kinds of deals are going to be increasingly difficult to uncover, as one of Trump’s earliest executive orders rescinded an Obama rule that companies involved in the energy and mining industries have to declare payments to foreign officials for extraction rights.

No prizes for speculating why he passed that particular Trump Turd, then.

Meanwhile details are emerging from the Wall Street Journal of some more of ‘Mr Kushner’s’ financial arrangements, including the news that he is indebted to more than 20 banks for a total of over $1 billion, part-guaranteed by Machiavellian billionaire speculator George Soros. Unfortunately he forgot to declare it when accepting his multitasking role as a White House advisor to his equally deeply indebted father-in-law, President Donald Trump.

There’s one world for them, and fuck the rest of us.

‘A mock-presidential cumface, like Frankie Howerd being sodomised by a camel.’

Sayings of the Week:

“Money is no longer a measure of value; for most people in the West it is merely a form of energy, like gas and electricity. The new currency of capitalism is data.” – Uncle Bogler

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Long Essay

100 Days of Sod ’em

The problem, it seems to The Pumpkin, that the world’s media is having in presenting the mad, ugly, dysfunctional face of Trump to the public is that the appalling things he is doing – or trying to do – and the bizarre way he is going about doing them are so bewilderingly stratified as to be almost incapable of coherent rationalization in policy terms.

(A mock-presidential cum-face that, excuse me, rather resembles the late comedian Frankie Howerd being sodomised by a camel.)

Instead of grasping the bull by the horns and campaigning full-out to get the President removed from office urgently as a threat to national security, so clearly mentally unhinged is he, the media is salami-slicing Trump’s grotesque first 100 days, spinning out a catalogue of monstrosities as a disconnected series of odd events, and thus failing to present a holistic picture; presumably for considerations of space, as a comprehensive blow-by-blow critique is going to take a fair-sized tome.

Can The Pumpkin do better? Well, not a lot, but he’ll try.

For instance, we appear to have forgotten already that only a little over a week ago Trump had sent V-P Mike Pence, a weirdly smirking snow-capped tailor’s dummy, to South Korea, where he was threatening all-out nuclear war against tiny North Korea, until his boss realised that the nuclear-tipped ‘armada’ he thought someone had despatched to the southwestern Pacific to threaten President Kim was in fact 3,500 miles away in the Indian Ocean on exercises with the Australian navy.

Yes, within his first 100 days, the Commander-in-Chief of the most powerful force on earth had managed to lose an aircraft carrier, two destroyers, a frigate and some supply ships.

Today, instead, he is lauding Kim Jong-un as ‘a smart cookie’ whom he would be ‘honoured to meet’ – this is the 33-year-old mass murderer and personality cult leader in charge of the most repressive regime on earth. The Daily Mail reported, not without relish:

“North Korean leader Kim Jong-Un executed his uncle by having him stripped naked and eaten alive by starving dogs while he watched, a report claimed yesterday.”

Honoured? Fuck’s sake. Make America great again, kowtow to a teenage psychopath who starves dogs. It’s pretty demeaning, but you can understand the envy with which the fragile ego constrained by civilized values contemplates the possibilities of absolute power. ‘Morning Joe’ Scarborough, thrown to starving women….

It’s only a few other days since Trump made a snide comment about how Kim had been involved in ‘failed’ negotiations with President Bill Clinton, not realizing that that was so long ago it would have had to be his father, Kim Jong-il. (Indeed, according to Prof Chomsky, North Korea has several times tried to make peace with the US by giving up its nuclear ambitions and been rebuffed.)

However, it does seem the strategy has been working, inasmuch as President Xi has been so alarmed by Trump’s aggressive irrationality, his ignorance of affairs in the western Pacific and charmed by the chocolate cake dessert at Mar-a-Lago, that he appears to be co-operating in cramming a lid at least for now on his chubby Korean ally’s more provocative nuclear flag-waving.

Nor, it was demonstrated in another weird appearance before the press last week, could Trump recall who his oyster-eyed acolyte, the Speaker of the House, Paul Ryan is. Instead, he kept confusing him with former Senator Ron Paul, founder and practically the sole member of the Libertarian Party.

He continues to obsess like a dog at a bone about the election result, in which he failed by 2.8 million votes to win a popular majority; and about the poor turnout at his inauguration, holding more and more rallies of the faithful to convince himself that he really won, that he is really loved by the people.

He isn’t loved by the CIA, however; as, at a memorial service in January for their Cold War dead, he delivered an atrocious speech in the poorest possible taste, praising himself, his election victory and his record turnout.

You see, he’s too old for this. He’s still not in the mental space labelled President of the United States, and may never be.

Since taking office, Trump has not ameliorated his habit of reacting petulantly to every perceived criticism; continuing to Tweet out bilious, misspelled vengeful messages in the early hours in response to anything he half-remembers seeing on TV news. It got him into serious trouble early in March when, at 06.30 on the 4th, this appeared:

“Terrible! Just found out that Obama had my ‘wires tapped’ in Trump Tower just before the victory. Nothing found. This is McCarthyism!”

The story is cloudy. Trump’s grasp of the history of McCarthyism is tenuous, he later amended the analogy to ‘Watergate’, but it appears the President was jumping to conclusions after seeing a story from Breitbart News among his morning briefs, that was subsequently traced to a so-called ‘alt-right’ website, InfoWars, run by the demented shock-jock Alex Jones; and thence to other obscure rightwing sources; and may ultimately have had its origins in a manufactured leak back in the White House.

The story broke just as the FBI investigation into connections between team Trump and Russian intelligence was getting interesting, and when the FBI dismissed the wiretap allegations as unproven and absurd, Trump proceeded via Fox News to an even wilder allegation against the British intelligence monitoring service, GCHQ, that provides the NSA with all the latest European and Russian scuttlebut, plus weekly copies of this, muh bogl.

Two weeks later, however, there appeared to be some tangential truth in Trump’s madness when it became clear that GCHQ was the source of the original allegations against Trump staffers, in particular one Carter Page, a ‘deniable’ self-deluding international fixer, as the British had intercepted conversations in 2015 with Russian agents who were already under routine monitoring and the FBI had obtained a FISA order to surveille Page.

The story thus dissolved into the normal smoke-and-mirrors of friendly clandestine spying operations between nations and took the heat off the President and what if any role he may have played in allowing or encouraging Russian military intelligence to hack his competitors’ servers to dig up dirt he could use against Clinton.

Trump thus felt totally vindicated, until on the 20th FBI Director James Comey confirmed to a Congressional hearing that Obama was innocent but he was still investigating the Russian connection. The hearings were abruptly halted by Republican chairman Devin Nunes when it became clear that the next key witness was going to be Sally Yates, the former Acting Attorney-General, who had been abruptly fired by Trump over ‘what she knew’ about National Security Advisor, General Mike T Flynn – who had himself been fired after lying about his Russian connections.

So bizarre and clearly panic-stricken was Chairman Nunes’ behaviour in attempting to suppress his own investigation – fed another anonymous ‘intelligence dossier’ via the back door of the White House ‘proving’ Obama’s treachery, he subsequently pretended to hand it in to the Presidemt and then claimed that the hearings were continuing in secret at his home without any of the committee members being invited – he was eventually forced to recuse himself and would do well to book himself into rehab.

But the hearings have not been resumed as the matter has since proceeded up to the Senate, where there’s again a small Republican majority. It seems unlikely to get any further; there is talk of Grand Juries already sitting, but the Justice Department is being packed with Trump appointees who will surely not dare to challenge him. There is as yet no sign of the kind of dogged Special Prosecutor who did for Nixon or Clinton.

This astonishing kerfuffle was so irregular that it seems almost to have been forgotten about, but it clearly illustrates the disturbing nature of the administration and the smokescreen of chaos with which it has deliberately surrounded itself.

The fact that Trump had instantly Tweeted out his total belief in a phoney claim made in a most dubious publication without bothering to check the facts with his security advisors and the FBI surely indicates either that he is temperamentally unfit to be the President, or that he rightly has no faith in his security advisors.

Nevertheless he is still there, and may be until January, 2021 at least. It is hard to see who or what will remove him, other than if he were to make a determined sexual assault on Nancy Pelosi on the floor of the House.

Meanwhile, the ‘Golden Showergate’ dossier, a 35-page report compiled by former British MI6 Russia-desk officer Chris Steele from Russian intelligence sources indicating that Trump might have been the victim of a kompromat operation by Putin’s spies, and that he was a potential security threat, remained in the background, parts of it being occasionally confirmed by Congressional investigators, the FBI and the CIA, to no apparent overall effect.

The story of Teflon Donald’s first 100 days, about the historically unprecedented success of which he has already begun making promotional TV commercials, complete with paranoid attacks on the ‘fake news’ media, also reveals the unprecedentedly shambolic nature of his fumbling maladministration, his incredibly poor and uninformed capacity for rational thought or judgement; and ignores his past criminal associations, his doubtful financial record, his compulsive lying, his boasting, his ungrammatical confusions, his ignorance of detail, his ‘flip-flopping’ (We prefer the more grown-up ‘bewilderment’. Ed.) on so many key issues.

This week, for instance, we had more of his rambling, incoherent, self-contradictory assertions – the latest of which is that former President Andrew Jackson, a brutal slavemaster and genocide of Native Americans whom Trump greatly admires for his ‘big heart’, was so concerned about the issues surrounding the origins of the Civil War that he might have prevented it had it not been for Abraham Lincoln invading the South.

Never mind that he died sixteen years before the first shot was fired by the Confederacy at Fort Sumter.

Now, detailed examination of this rubbish – Trump also speculated that, had he been there at the time, he would personally have prevented the war, and complained that ‘nobody (but him) ever asks’ about the causes of the war – the purpose of possibly several hundred books on the subject he will never have heard of – which were much misunderstood, would lead one to the conclusion that the President a) has no knowledge whatever of American history, yet is perfectly prepared to pose for his Dumbfucks as an expert; and b) is so mentally unstable and narcissistic as to constitute a danger to the free world.

For it must be obvious to anyone with eyes to see, that he is also posing as a President.

But there is no time for such detailed examination, because no sooner has the liberal establishment expressed amazement and concern over one bizarre interview or scandal brewing than there will come another, and another to confound everyone.

The media is never going to convince his supporters that they made a stupid decision, even when it is clearly shown that his American Healthcare bill, that failed abysmally at its first hurdle and was withdrawn without a vote, sneaking back this week in a barely revised form, will not only disqualify millions of poorer Americans – including themselves – from holding adequate health insurance, but will penalize many with pre-existing conditions so severely that they will simply be left to die.

That is actually Republican Party policy, to get the sick and the State-dependant off the books as fast as possible; while at the same time gerrymandering constituencies by the simple expedient of disenfranchising black and Latino voters likely to be Democrats, and passing laws preventing Democratic party politicians from passing laws.

Numerous other of Trump’s huge and generalized campaign promises, seemingly made on the hoof, have turned out to be bullshit. But not all. And advantage is being taken of the abrasive tone of his campaign speeches by other sections of his party.

Among some of the extraordinary laws Republican States administrations have been trying to pass since the election is, for instance, the formal exoneration of motorists who kill demonstrators by running them over if they obstruct the highway. The Pumpkin hopes that was fake news. States that had liberalized personal marijuana possession are being forced to recriminalize it. Masked and well-armed State police have threatened they will be out early, kicking down doors. Oklahoma has been racing to execute more prisoners before they run out of drugs to do the job.

A kind of licensed brutality is in the air, but so little is comprehensively reported that it doesn’t look like a takeover by the authoritarian far-right, which it plainly is.

First Amendment freedom of the press to criticise the President is also becoming an issue.

The coverage by the mainstream media that reaches most Americans is disturbingly supine and respectful, as if they are dealing with a normal person, a normal administration that is perhaps just a little wayward in its early days, but which will straighten up and fly right eventually.

“I’ve got a little list”

Any actual criticism is shrugged off by the Trump propagandists as ‘fake news’; but like Nanki-poo, they’ve ‘got a little list’. The ‘enemies of the people’, as he continually calls them, aware of corporate financial pressures on their editorial staff and the ongoing loss of advertising to the internet, the rise of so-called ‘citizen media’ making the cost of investigative reporting prohibitive, the ‘failing media’ is conspiring to prevent Trump making America great again, and that’s what his supporters will believe until their dying day.

In fact, many Americans have met their dying days since Trump took office: not only the service personnel unnecessarily sacrificed to his vanity and military incompetence. The toll of record floods, raging wildfires, supercell storms and tornados, droughts, record temperatures and big-freeze ice storms is running into the hundreds, just this year. Sixteen more, including several children, died in floods and tornados only yesterday in Texas and the midwest – Trumpland. The climate is running rapidly out of control; and so is the oil-fuelled, coal-burning President, in hock to the denial industry.

And nobody cares, nobody apparently wants to see that their hero is just the extreme manifestation of the elitism of the rich and powerful, the very embodiment of ‘the swamp’ he promised them he would drain; that he has not the slightest interest in helping people he calls ‘the losers’ but, with his history of bankruptcies and lawsuits, his tax avoidance and huge unpaid debts to foreign banks, is out only to enrich himself and his already obscenely wealthy friends, driven mad by money; and, if the allegations prove true, his Russian paymaster.

The Pumpkin could enumerate literally dozens of horrible, awful things Trump has either initiated or agreed to.

What human being but a complete sadist or the crazed ‘supermom’ Sarah Palin, with her Tea Party morality and her sexually incontinent children would readily agree to sign an order licensing hunters to shoot hibernating she-bears with cubs?

It is incomprehensible that such a minute detail of administration should occupy any President in his first 100 days, yet there he was, his camel-fucked Presidential cum-face glowing like an amber traffic light next to his ridiculous squiggle on a document licensing many such horrors, a gurning crew of macho poltroons lined up proudly behind him for the photo-op.

This is surely one monstrous old poser, a cretin bereft of most human values, who is bound straight for Hell by express delivery.

“A cretin surely bound for Hell by express delivery”

The man is wittingly or otherwise an ecocide, a world criminal, having attempted to push through more than fifty such orders removing protections and precautions for the environment, for the climate, for wildlife in a frenzied onslaught on our fragile ecology, with no comprehension, no compassion, no vision – no belief in anything other than the power of money; as if we can eat money, drink it, breathe it – survive it.

He has been obsessive in his vindictive, childish determination to remove every trace of his more popular predecessor, Obama; to trash his reputation and to exceed his excesses with barbaric enthusiasm.

Federal agency budgets have been cut savagely*, NASA has been told to drop its satellite weather monitoring program; the National Monuments lands are under threat of development, permits being granted for aggressive pipeline projects and unrestricted drilling in formerly protected wilderness areas, the Arctic, all in the name of creating ‘thousands and thousands’ of jobs that will in fact disappear as US energy production goes into overdrive for no commercial reason – global demand is already far exceeded, the oil price has collapsed.

Energy industry transparency is being shut down; coal revived and dishonestly or foolishly promoted by Trump as ‘the cleanest energy ever’. Government scientists are being barred from publishing climate research, federal agencies barred from carrying out their duty of issuing public information on environmental matters, their administrations hollowed-out, gone. Climate change? ‘It’s a hoax’. (Has been since the 1880s when CO2 was first outed as a greenhouse gas. A long time to maintain a hoax involving tens of thousands of trained postgraduate scientists, possibly.)

The problem is, you see, once Trump has to get to grips with a little basic science, he becomes the greatest atmospheric physicist the world has ever known. Who better then to declare global warming a hoax?

Then there are his financial dealings; the dealings of the smartest negotiator, possibly ever; the smartest businessman. Simply Google: ‘Trump’, plus the name of any Russian bank – Alfabank, Sberbank, Deutsche Bank; ‘Trump’ plus Azerbaijan; ‘Trump’ plus Rybolovlev; ‘Trump’ plus Moscow, plus Mafia…. Even the rightwing Daily Mail was shocked by that last one. The evidence of money-laundering, of association with criminal enterprises at home and abroad is everywhere you look. Every day throws up the name of another oligarch with alleged connections to Trump and his gang.

For The Pumpkin, Trump’s most unique attribute is this: a man born into wealth, who need never have done any work in his life, something in his upbringing, some Trump family gene, some parental abuse has caused him to live his life like a ragged-arsed immigrant clawing his way out of the Bowery in about 1910, willing to do anything at all, whatever it takes to survive.

The gold of Trump is just leaf, the swagger and smarm a veneer. Underneath he is pure Charlie Chaplin; pure Bugsy Siegel, pure Clyde Barrow: a poor bastard who has turned himself through the desperate desire to prove himself good enough for his father, but who can only measure his progress in money, into a deceitful, facile thug.

His closest associates in the White House, his campaign team, his transition team… many of them are tarnished by similar allegations, financial dealings with corrupt foreign oligarchs and governments; attempts to thwart FBI investigations; billionaire ‘disruptors’ pursuing obscure rightwing and Christian fundamentalist causes, using their vast wealth to influence the outcome of elections, to undermine democratic institutions and cause profitable chaos in order to grasp more.

Wall Street sharks are filling the administration – we should understand that, while on the campaign trail Mr Trump admonished Goldman Sachs in particular, they are the financial advisor that made most of his connections to lenders such as Deutsche Bank and Bank of China, lenders to whom he owes more than a billion dollars; and to whose former executives he has in return entrusted all of the major financial arms of the State.

These are not conspiracy theories, those people are quite open, even boastful about their objectives and methods. They believe, apparently not without good reason, that they are at last untouchable: the Masters of the Universe, back in overwhelming numbers and in reach of real political power at last.

Trump’s immigration policy has been wild, insane, sickening. He has encouraged dreadful divisions in US society, turning people against foreigners and Muslims;  branding all migrants in this land of migrants as criminals, drug dealers, rapists.

Families that have been settled in America for decades are being torn apart as thuggish border goons interpret their remit, unopposed by Congress, to drag hardworking fathers and mothers in handcuffs, even from hospital beds, away from their American children to detention centres from where after a perfunctory hearing they are bundled out, having committed no crime other than to exist, to countries where they have no homes, no connections, no work.

Extra judges are being press-ganged to sit in 24-hour immigration tribunals; punitive funding cuts threatened against ‘sanctuary cities’ whose mayors refuse to impose draconian rules against useful and productive ‘illegals’. It is an onslaught that invites comparisons with Nazi Germany.

Yet immigration is vital: the native American birthrate is well below replacement, the population – as elsewhere in the Western world, is ageing.

Trump’s boneheaded and valueless attempts on ‘security’ grounds to ban temporarily, people traveling from countries from where no actual terrorist threats have ever emanated, the so-called Muslim travel ban, that absurdly has not been applied to prolific terror-sponsoring nations like Saudi Arabia and Pakistan, ended twice in chaos and confusion, leading to face-offs with the courts and those he reviled as ‘so-called judges’, risking in his ignorance of the workings of Government a major confrontation between the Executive, Judicial and Congressional branches of the State.

Even a former Norwegian Prime Minister, Kjell Magne Bondevik, on his way to a prayer breakfast (don’t ask me. Ed.) was detained for two hours of questioning at Dulles airport, an incriminating Iranian visa stamp in his passport. And there’s talk of more and more oppressive Homeland Security – the compulsory surrender of personal media passwords, for instance; while Trump has readily signed over to internet service providers the automatic right to sell subscriber data – both measures in fact reducing the national cybersecurity.

He seems to do whatever anybody tells him, provided they are rich enough.

Trump’s much-vaunted promises to build a grandiose and ineffectual wall between the US and Mexico, that Mexico would pay for, that would divide border communities and hinder normal commercial flows worth $billions, have so far thankfully remained unfunded, despite his unfounded belief that it would totally halt the flow of drugs and illegal migrants into the USA.

His vain threats to impose punitive trade tariffs on Mexican goods, it has been shown, would have a negative effect on American consumers, while his promise to scrap the North American Free Trade Agreement, NAFTA, that he has now abandoned, merely showed him up as being ignorant of its real economic benefits and the costs of ending it. He persists in the hubris that isolationism is the way to restore the stagnant incomes of Americans, while the Federal Reserve continues to print money to lubricate the banks and holds interest rates at zero.

In his first 100 days, so many of his spontaneously generated campaign chickens have come home to roost. Being President is more complicated than he thought. So, Donald, go?

Likewise, another ‘ten-minute briefing’ at the White House with NATO chief Lars Stoltenburg caused another 180-degree turn in policy: ‘failing’ and ‘irrelevant’, NATO is now important once again; although one cannot be sure that he has been cured of his erroneous belief that NATO pays the USA money in exchange for a defence umbrella, and that many member States are not paying what they owe. Hence his $390 billion ‘invoice’ to Angela Merkel.

No, Donald, that’s not how it works! It’s a treaty organization guaranteeing mutual defense. NATO members are independent nations. They commit to keeping their defence budgets at a certain level, but they all have different GDP to begin with! Different defence requirements. And the treaty obliges them to come to your aid too, if the USA is attacked. NATO is not, as he hoped, some kind of standing army, that will take on ISIS terrorists on its own initiative.

This is a man almost entirely ignorant of the affairs of State, of how the world works, of the history of international relations, who is undergoing a learning-curve that seems almost entirely beyond his capabilities to negotiate. Is that not a serious enough failing in a President, in the Commander-in-Chief of the most powerful armed force in world history, by whom one mistake could end human civilization?

Earlier in April, while at dinner with the Chinese President at his vulgar golf resort in Florida, Mar-a-Lago, from which he continues to profit while in office, Trump theatrically left the table to sanction a strike by 59 cruise missiles on an airbase in Syria, thereby overturning his own non-intervention policy. It appeared to be an emergency, but by a strange coincidence, his entire security team were already there, waiting in another room.

The strike was ineffectual and although justified as a show of force to tell President Assad he couldn’t use chemical weapons on civilians, and to tell President Xi the US has a tough guy in charge who means business, it was widely seen as a convenient distraction from the FBI’s investigations into Trump’s Russian connections.

Mr Trump later expressed awe at his own military power and suggested he had just realized you had to be careful with this stuff as missiles could kill people. Nine civilians, including four children, died so that he could discover the principle. It was reminiscent of Mr Trump’s revelations regarding uranium, that could be used to make ‘bad things’, who knew?; and his naive query as to why, if we have nuclear weapons, we don’t use them more? Was he joking?

No, his budget provided for billions of dollars to increase the nuclear capability, that is already sufficient to eradicate all life on the planet several times over.

But a strong military is essential for the defence of the nation – and good for share prices.

Soon afterwards his airforce dropped an 11,000-lb MOAB air burst bomb on a cave complex in Afghanistan, killing – it’s thought – 36 ISIS guerrillas, a piece of theatrical sabre-rattling designed to intimidate the North Koreans, against whom Trump began fulminating the next day. His record of drone strikes has far exceeded even that of his predecessor, Obama; ‘collateral’, civilian casualties have quadrupled as his military has been told there will be no criticism, no comebacks, whatever they have to do to get the job done. (The ‘job’ is to eradicate the so-called Islamic State by saturation bombing, another futile policy.)

Since Trump took office, US troops have been sent by the thousand in secret to several more potential theatres of war. He has placed a blanket ban on announcing military operations. He has previously said that the objective of US military policy should be to ‘seize the oil’. He was persuaded not to do that in Iraq, only when it was pointed out to him which side the US was fighting on.

The corrupt appointments: his family members, friends of the family, his financial backers, the party’s financial backers, the backers and staff of Breitbart News, gimlet-eyed military hawks, demonstrably stupid, venal and incompetent local political hicks, all rewarded with key government posts they are not remotely qualified to fill; other, many other posts left vacant – key ambassadorships, heads of department – all are indicative of his inexperience, his isolation as CEO of his own business.

His proposed tax reforms, for instance, all one page of them (in easy to read bullet points), benefitting corporations and the top point two percent of the most wealthy to the tune of, literally, trillions of dollars; gouging the poor and the middle-class, will scarcely pass with no-one in the Treasury in charge of the country’s tax planning; but that post remains unfilled too, another empty department.

Under the toxic Attorney-General, Jefferson Beauregard ‘Jeff’ Sessions 111, who lied about his meetings with the Russian ambassador and had to recuse himself from any investigation of Trump’s team and its unexplained connections with Russia, the Justice Department is filling up with Trump appointees, after he fired all the circuit judges in January without any replacements lined up. The southern racialist, anti-civil rights, anti-abortion advocate and avowed Confederate supporter, Sessions has been busy removing any legal constraints on the actions of the police nationwide.

General Flynn, the first National Security Advisor, waved through by the Trump administration on the basis of an old security clearance that should have been revoked after he was fired by Obama as head of the Defense Intelligence Agency, lasted 24 days in post before having to stand down after being caught lying about connections with Russia. They began to emerge in 2016, and have still not stopped emerging, as he took substantial sums of money as an undeclared ‘foreign agent’ for obscure PR efforts on behalf of Russia, and of Turkey – financed by the Russians.

Trump’s son-in-law, the 36-year-old property speculator Jared Kushner, too, who is wearing a bewildering array of ‘hats’ in the White House, including a brief to re-engineer the entire administrative machinery in Washington, was caught lying about contacts he had with Russian Ambassador Kysliev; while since the inauguration a number of prominent Russian diplomats, bankers and business ‘contacts’ based in Washington (and one or two in Moscow) have unexpectedly died, including the Ambassador to the UN, Vitaly Churkin – whose autopsy results have been Classified.

The Russian connection extended to apparent attempts to influence the election through the hacking of Democratic party servers and the release via the ever-useful Wikileaks of what the FBI found were non-incriminating emails sent and received by Hillary Clinton and her campaign manager John Podesta. In March Mr Trump seems to have employed a British politician, Nigel Farage, as a go-between to Wikileaks founder, Julian Assange – but Sessions has since had a new warrant issued for Assange’s arrest on old charges of leaking classified documents.

(Beware of Assange’s revenge!)

Farage is an associate of Raheem Kassam, the UK editor of Steve Bannon’s Breitbart News website, and a ‘friend’ of ultra-rightwing billionaire fund manager, Robert Mercer, who with his daughter Rebekah funds Breitbart. Other Breitbart writers and section editors have received posts in the administration, including ‘Dr’ Sebastian Gorka, a British-Hungarian security analyst with suspected connections to a secretive neo-Nazi movement in Hungary (he has now left the administration). Mercer’s company, Cambridge Analytica, is alleged to have been behind computer ‘botnet’ attacks on the British EU referendum, in which Farage campaigned prominently for ‘Brexit’.

Bannon and other wealthy disruptors are linked in a tenuous network with Republican funders and Russian oligarchs promoting religious and racial ‘purity’ and an Islamophobic, antisemitic agenda. They seem in the early days at least to have ‘captured the castle’ as far as Trump and his administration were concerned, giving rise to the suggestion that the President is merely a ‘useful idiot’ in a plot to undermine Western democratic institutions and to destroy the US government in its present form – as Bannon boasted was his intention in a speech to the Conservative CPAC conference in January, at which young, wealthy male delegates notoriously gave a Nazi salute, shouting Heil Trump!, apparently without irony – a plot in which the Russian president Putin is suspected of having a disruptive hand.

Trump seems to have an unhealthy regard for ‘strongman’ dictators: in addition to his expressed admiration for Duterte and North Korea’s Kim, he has happily received at the White House such humanitarians as General al-Sisi of Egypt, Binyamin Netanyahu of Israel and Viktor Orban of Hungary – an old friend of Gorka’s – and has refused to criticise either Putin or the increasingly paranoid Erdogan of Turkey, to whom he Tweeted congratulations on scraping through a referendum giving him absolute powers for life (Following which, Erdogan proceeded to arrest or suspend another ten thousand government officials as ‘plotters’ supposedly supporting his nemesis, the US-exiled cleric Fetullah Gulen).

Indeed, Trump has praised both of them lavishly; and it seems General Flynn’s missions may have helped to bring about a rapprochement between the two countries – as indeed did those of Russian oligarch Aleksandr Dugin – and, perhaps, advancing a lucrative undersea gas pipeline deal bypassing Syria for Noble Energy – a company drilling in collaboration with the Israeli energy sector, in which Trump has shares; one of whose former directors, George Papadopoulos is an Energy Advisor appointee in the Trump administration.

Yet he pretty much cold-shouldered Angela Merkel and Japanese Prime Minister Abe, appearing to fall asleep standing up and noticeably refusing to wear his translation earpiece at their joint press conferences, so he had no idea what they were saying.

As a result, his foreign policy is a total muddle that no-one can clearly follow. As is his administration.

His Foreign Policy pointman, Secretary of State Rex Tillerson – former boss of America’s biggest oil company – has no diplomatic experience, and virtually no diplomatic or administrative support at the State Department, which has been hollowed-out with over 500 appointments still vacant; there are 34 ambassadors yet to be hired, many to key countries around the world – South Korea, Japan, Singapore. Entire foreign desks, including China, are missing. Is it deliberate? It feels like a Bannon policy.

The Commerce Secretary – an old ‘consigliere’ to the Trump family, billionaire Wilbur Ross was until this March a major investor in and vice-chair of Bank of Cyprus, a known conduit to the west for sanctioned Russian money. His fellow directors included the former head of Deutsche Bank, another money-laundering bank that lent Trump hundreds of millions of dollars, much of which he was unable to pay back. Who owns those debts now? Trump connection Dmitry Rybolovlev owns 10 per cent of the bank. Trump was reported to have benefited from a property deal they did in Florida, to the tune of $60 million. The property was subsequently pulled down as being unfit for habitation.

The former Attorney General of Oklahoma, the climate-change-denying baboon Scott Pruitt, equally has no-one running the key departments at the Environment Protection Agency, that he has vowed in any case to destroy as it conflicts with the demands of his benefactors, the energy companies. He has sued the EPA on behalf of fracking interests on 14 separate occasions. Pruitt fought for years to prevent the release of emails subpoena’d by environmentalists expected to show his connection to the fabulously wealthy mining and energy extractors, the Koch Brothers; America’s third biggest polluters of all three carbon ‘sinks’.

Trump’s appointment as Education Secretary, Betsy DeVos, had no public administration experience in the Education field, other than co-owning a business pursuing student debtors. A Christian fundamentalist, she’s the wife of Amway pyramid-selling multi-billionaire and friend of Trump’s, Dick DeVos – who as the owner of healthcare corporations stands potentially to benefit from the new American Care Act if it ever passes.

DeVos’ Spectrum Healthcare was revealed in February to be one of only two users sharing a mysterious email server in a small town in Pennsylvania, traced to the Trump Organization. The other user was the Russian Alfabank, owned by Mikhail Fridman, an oligarch who, Fortune magazine reported, was planning to divest his oil holdings in Rosneft and go into ‘US healthcare’.

Other, lesser appointments reveal a catalogue of incompetents promoted above their capabilities, with woeful CVs, suggesting that no-one in their right mind would want to work for this failing administration.

One success Trump can claim is the appointment of a far-right Supreme Court judge, Neil S Gorsuch, 49, who has an unblemished record of finding against individuals in cases involving corporations and whose career has been bankrolled by oil, sports and leisure industry magnate, Philip Anschutz (net worth $11 bn). To get him appointed, the Republicans on the Approvals committee had to get Congress to change the rules, having filibustered furiously for over a year to keep President Obama from filling the vacant position with a Democrat, but hey, it was a triumph. Of sorts.

Mr Gorsuch’s first act in office was to use his casting vote in favour of executing another black man.

Trump’s relationship with the press has been a disaster of epic proportions, thanks to his hapless, blustering, bullying dimwit of a Press Secretary, Sean Spicer, and his lunatic PR flack Kellyanne Conway – inventor of the ‘alternative truth’.

While there may be humour in the situation, less humorous have been the threats issued against journalists by Trump’s senior policy advisor, Stephen K Bannon; and now, hollow threats by the pathetic Reince Priebus, the White House’s sidelined ‘Chief of Staff’, to rewrite the First Amendment to the constitution in order to modify the concept of free speech for the press. Even to think that might be possible is to countenance the kind of authoritarian administration that characterized Germany in the 1930s; yet Trump’s compulsive, illiterate 3 a.m. Tweeting accusing minor female celebrities of being too fat makes him a pretty comic, second-rate Hitler.

Can we just laugh him out of office? Well, no. He wouldn’t even attend the annual dinner last weekend of the White House Press Corps he despises, after being insulted with humour last year. His only eye on the world is Fox News.

And it just goes on. The refusal to release his tax returns; the leaks, both intentional and not; the illegal profiting from foreign government money funnelled through his hotel in Washington, subsidised by the government estates department that owns the freehold of the building; the threats to sue anyone who writes the sort of things I am writing here; the smell of cover-up and national decay, the permanent smokescreen of confusion and chaos – the primacy of money above humanity.

Indeed, the only question one can ask is, in Trump’s own notorious words, just what the Hell is going on?

To say Trump’s presidency has thus far been a cataclysm and promises only to get worse is an understatement. His military men are still looking for some excuse to go to war, probably with Iran unless North Korea runs another nuclear test or Assad gasses some more civilians or China blockades the South China Sea. Maybe even with Russia, if they step out of line. He seems to have no moral compass when it comes to discussing pre-emptive strikes.

The energy industry with its vast power to lobby governments and to buy politicians like you’d buy a pound of bananas is clearly in charge now of both domestic and foreign policy, regardless of the increasingly alarming, adverse climate data Trump is rushing to suppress; in fact, you could describe it as a global coup unfolding, a grab for the last of our fossil fuel reserves. And the Pentagon is right there with them, Trump’s office is stiff with retired generals – he looks up to strict, authoritative men, like his Dad presumably. He’s a mess of post-parental conflicts and complexes.

Even now, teaching packs are being sent out to schools, telling children climate change is a hoax, there’s nothing to worry about. Will Mrs DeVos stop them? Well, she wants schools to teach Creationism and abstention rather than birth control, she’s homophobic too, so the Pumpkin doubts it. Obama’s liberal edict permitting transgender students to pee in whichever bathroom they prefer has also been rescinded.

Women’s rights too have come under ferocious attack, especially since the four-million march outnumbered Trump’s inauguration crowd; family planning clinics around the world have been defunded from government aid programs. Consumer protections, pollution controls, vehicle emissions limits are being trashed as ‘business-unfriendly’ – and to hell with children’s developing brains.

One hopeful sign, Trump himself has acknowledged in his 100-days interviews that the task of playing at being President is beyond him, telling the world how happy he was just running his family property business and franchising his name and Ivanka’s decorative schemes out to developers of Trump this-and-that around the world; her Chinese sweat-shop-made clothing ranges that he continues to promote on her behalf despite his hypocritical and economically disastrous demands that US businesses buy and sell and manufacture only in the USA; his Canute-like attempts to rollback globalization.

Healthcare? More complicated than expected. The role and purpose of opposition parties? Unexpectedly obstructive. Syria? Complicated. North Korea? His new friend Mr Xi, who executes more prisoners than Arkansas, has explained: it’s complicated.

The man demonstrates it with every breath: an arrogant, thin-skinned, spoiled, narcissistic, childish buffoon; ignorant, unlettered and not in control of his thoughts: he has no mental discipline, no ordered mind; he is observably barely literate: ‘Some of my best friends, contractors, good friends, can’t read or write.’ he told a campaign rally. ‘That doesn’t mean they’re not smart.’ He has stupid ideas, but reverences them as a toddler might proudly present its mother with a nappy full of shit: look ma, see what I just made!

His aides, alarmed, reported that he has the attention span of a four-year-old with ADHD and does not take briefings or read papers of state, he just watches TV all day between signing stuff he doesn’t appear to read. He spends three days a week golfing at Mar-a-Lago, at a projected cost to the taxpayer of $30 million a year; it’s another business, as well as his other golf courses around the world, that he continues to plug mercilessly for profit despite the clear conflict of interest.

He doesn’t care. The theft, the kleptomania are blatant, and his supporters don’t care as long as he allows the mentally ill to own guns – another of his early edicts. His sucking-up to the National Rifle Association has been craven and disturbing: especially from a former gun-control advocate, he now wants to arm the nation three times over, it’s great for jobs. Never mind the thirty thousand gunshot fatalities every year, against which ‘terrorism’, which he equates purely with Islam, white racist attacks don’t count, pales into complete insignificance.

Trump supporters are a kind of death cult.

It’s understandable they felt left behind, he was a symbol of change – only not in the way they expected. Many indeed hope he will bring about the End Times, when they shall see God, get to meet Jesus.

When he promised to ‘drain the swamp’ and has instead appointed lobbyists and Goldman Sachs executives and promised to let Tillerson’s buddies drill on open range in national parks and on monument land that is pretty much sacred to those people, when he cheats on his healthcare promises so their mothers and children are going to die prematurely from cancers, and stinking-rich corrupt Republican politicians tell them Jesus will take care of them if they live right, when he proposes to blow another $50 billion on the military, and they still think he’s great, that he’s cleaning out the stable and raising the stars and stripes, well, who are we to deny them this extraordinary fantasy world they’re living in?

It’s been 100 days that shook our world, and The Pumpkin can’t see the shaking is going to stop until Vice-President Pence exercises his constitutional right and duty to have the senile President carted off with his arms folded, like that’s ever going to happen; or until Mr Comey and the FBI get their finger out and arrest him; or Congress impeaches him.

Like that’s ever going to happen.

The best the USA can hope for is that he will eventually come to and realize, he’s too old and tired and befuddled to run again. Let Jared have the job; let Ivanka.

In the meantime, although the Democrats have also become flaccid tools of the corporate overlords, at least a Democrat victory in the mid-term elections next year might wrest control of the Congress out of the hands of the Republicans, many of whom are as batshit crazy, dumb, actually evil and corrupt as any of the swamp-monsters, billionaire Christian fundamentalists and fuel-fossils in the White House.

And hope for President Elizabeth Warren in 2020.

 

*Not so, we hear. Voting on the budget, following the global March for Science, Congress has inserted modest increases for federal science programs this year. Not all is rosy: Trump’s orders are for cuts to bite in 2018.

 

Postscriptum

My admiration for President Duterte of the Philippines just went up a notch.

Trump, whose new American Healthcare bill passed the House and if ratified in the Senate (unlikely) would see hundreds and thousands of Americans condemned to an early death for lack of medical care while the money goes to tax breaks for the wealthy, invited the self-confessed murderer to the White House.

And Duterte told him no thanks, he’s far too busy.

 

 

The posh man in his tumbril, the poor man in his shed. Plus: The Art of the Steal. Dear Clive James.

“£25 thousand is not really all that much to spend on an attractive, habitable, craftsman-made garden feature: a faux- pastoral scriptorium for a literary troglodyte.”

“And now the news where you are….”

Hi.

This is where I am, right now.

It’s my little ‘garden room’, at the end of my not very long garden (you’re standing on the other end to look at it), where I work, rest and play, every day.

(As the fence is falling over you can’t really see, but the garden path continues on past the rotproof timber-clad structure to an area of wilderness, approximately two feet by six, at the back. Now read on…)

Annoying friends have borrowed the tiresome magazine lifestyle-column expression ‘man-cave’ to describe it; although a cave is possibly somewhat darker and gloomier than my well-lit 10′ x 12′ workspace and more inducive of brooding melancholy, even lengthy periods of hibernation. Only the self-indulgent electric guitar (mine’s a Gibson LP, yours is a Fender Strat) and the empty wine bottles might connect them.

Before condemning the perfectly satisfactory roof of the main house, thereby putting the kybosh on the sale (it was four and a half years ago. I’m still here; so’s the roof), the insensitive, semi-qualified building surveyor sent by a risk-averse Lloyds Bank on behalf of one prospective purchaser asked caustically, if I had perhaps constructed my second home myself, from a kit?

But no, moron. I had it purpose-designed and built by a faraway design-and-build company specializing in garden rooms ‘as seen on TV’. That’s why it’s so thermally efficient that if you shut the window you’ll be dead within the hour for lack of oxygen, because I couldn’t afford the extra £600 they wanted for air conditioning, and other expensive extras besides.

In fact the whole project, which I must stress was considerably hampered by the problem of obtaining access to the site either from the back – the garden is dropped by some eight feet from the road above – or below, you have to deliver through the house, with its ever-so tight turning off a narrow hallway – from a busy road where there is no stopping allowed on this side; and the additional constraint of working in a garden that’s only four feet wider than the building.

(Yes, I’m aware that the foregoing paragraph does not work syntactically. I’m trying to think of a way to fix it. Leave me alone.)

For that and reasons of opting for the best quality fixtures and fittings, the ‘high-performance’ self-cleaning double-glazing, the recessed downlighters, the tropical hardwood floor (if Ivanka Trump can specify extinction for the rainforest to adorn her dad’s palatial habitations in corrupt and rutted feudal demesnes around the world, so can I), the whole caboodle (not a kit) cost a shade under £16 thousand.

I went off on a jazz holiday and let them get on with it, else I should have become a nervy wreck.

But I’ve been making good use of it since. This is my 608th Post to the BogPo, and all Posted to you free of charge from my coffee-table in The Little House on the Prairie, as I’ve wittily named my shed. (The prairie, as you can just about see, being an area of grassland all of 10 feet by five.) It is my home-from-home, my sanctuary – my inspiration.

The reason I had it built in the first place is somewhat convoluted, but essentially my student son was living with me at the time and there was an overwhelming need to escape the sound of Rise Against! churning over the staccato death-rattle of computerised warfare. I had conceded that, since his bedroom was only eight feet by seven, plus a few inches, he should have the sitting-room (12’4″ x 12′) for use as his study area.

No sooner had the last workman departed, perhaps a little more satisfied with his handiwork than I’ve been, but never mind, Peter naturally moved out to live with his mates in a damp, mould-infested, £100 a week student hovel with stinking, stained carpets and broken furnishings, lacking any form of legal fire safety precautions, just across the road from a low tavern, taking with him his extensive collection of Rise Against! downloads, his post-ironic lava-lamp and his global gaming computer that he built himself from a kit.

Nevertheless, I have remained in the habit of saving electricity by not living in the house – other than to shit, cook and sleep, usually in that order. (There’s a handy drain for peeing in the garden.) I’m extremely attached to and perhaps even mentally imprisoned within my man-cave, my home office, my garden studio, my personal space, my eco-pod – whichever lifestyle magazine you choose to read will furnish you with an appropriate apophthegm.

What has not resulted from the commissioning of this practical and useful extra room, however, is a shitstorm of onlined criticism from the trolling community and Guardian columnistas whining enviously like so many bitches-in-the-manger at the non-public-spirited expense of it. While grimy little children yet queue at the workhouse soup-kitchen door, etc.

You know how it goes, the politics of envy.

A bunch of sheep

My old school chum, Dave Cameron, on the other hand has been widely ‘outed’ today for acquiring a genuine imitation Northumberland ‘shepherd’s hut’ – a sort of tumbril on iron wheels, for use as a writing hovel while he pens the memoir of his disastrous Prime Ministership that no-one is going to pay £25 to read in hardback; for which he has no doubt secured an advance equivalent to my entire lifetime’s earnings (envy not being the sole preserve of the illiterate).

The main complaint seems to be that he paid £25 thousand for it; not including the heritage Farrow-and-Ball makeover Mrs Cameron has given it. It seems a little harsh, even while one contemplates her disloyalty to George Osborne in her choice of decorative materials supplier. Twenty-five grand is hardly taking bread out of the mouths of babes and sucklings, you’d easily pay that nowadays for a Golf GTi or a wedding with kilts and a chocolate fountain.

The man was a low-range millionaire even before he became Prime Minister; he’s just come into another half a mill from his late dad; while Samantha is outrageously rich in her own right. They can easily afford it! Is that a reason why they should not have it? Only in nasty, envious, curtain-twitching little Britain would even well-paid journalists not only think, but actually dare to tell the former Prime Minister that just because he can afford a new garden shed, doesn’t mean he should be allowed to have one.

I feel that £25 thousand is not really all that much to spend on an attractive, habitable, British-craftsman-made garden feature: a faux-pastoral scriptorium for a literary troglodyte. From Sam’s point of view it gets her unemployed booby of a husband out of the house for a few hours each day; and it is the case that many famous writers have opted to escape from domesticity by the same means.

Roald Dahl, for example, wrote his lumpen prose for sick kids in a succession of garden sheds. Dylan Thomas had his boathouse at Laugharne, handy for the pub. I myself once visited Ayot St Lawrence in Buckinghamshire, home of George Bernard Shaw, with its modest, unpretentious structure in the garden. Shaw was a keen uptaker of new technology; so, while other writers have sought a solitude which the mobile phone now denies us, having perhaps the keenest sense of self-importance of all he had installed an enormous bakelite telephone in his shed; a detail that impresses me even 40 years later.

I imagine, too, that Leo Tolstoy probably kept an entirely separate country estate for the purpose of obtaining a little peace and quiet while penning the first few drafts of War and Peace. Is Suzanne Moore going to begrudge him that as well?

So, no. Unfair. On behalf of all solitary strivers in garden sheds great or small, dry-lined or planked, plain or fancy, with downlighters or guttering candles, I protest.

Mr Cameron is entitled to many things, eternal damnation for his optimistic miscalculations over the Brexit referendum certainly being the most pressing.

But a posh garden-shed is small reward for his years of service, however inept. It makes him almost one of us.

Leave the poor man alone!

 

The art of the steal

“The Tate (UK’s leading modern art gallery) has come under fire after it asked members of staff, many of whom are not paid the London living wage, to contribute towards a boat for the departing director, Nicholas Serota, just one week after their canteen discount was taken away.

“A notice which went up in the staff rooms of both Tate Modern and Tate Britain on Wednesday asked employees – including security, cleaners, and those (who) maintain the galleries and work in the cafe and gift shop – to ‘put money towards a sailing boat’ as a ‘surprise gift’ for Serota.” – Guardian Today, 28 April.

Whouawahwouaah… eerie flashback music….

We were all summoned up to the boardroom, where Mike, the MD, had prepared a long and lugubrious presentation, graphically showing us the bad news.

Yes, we had twice exceeded our collective annual sales target during the year. Indeed, we’d broken the target for the whole year during August, so the MD had DOUBLED it and we’d broken it again by December.

But sadly, all that extra effort had led to costly errors and money having to be passed back to the clients, all the extra activity we’d generated had doubled our cost of sales too, so we’d doubled our turnover at the expense of having made no profits at all.

Look, here’s a graph, and another one, and an even sadder one… see, how we’ve actually LOST money.

So the bad news was that staff wouldn’t be getting any annual bonus this year. But a bit of good news, we’d all be receiving a £10 shopping voucher with our company Christmas card.

Two weeks after Christmas I encountered a smiling Mike in the corridor. We hadn’t seen him around for a few days, so I asked him if he’d been anywhere nice?

‘Yes’, he said, ‘I was at the Boat Show’ – a major annual event for yachties held at the Earl’s Court exhibition centre in London.

‘Buy anything?’ I asked him, nonchalantly. ‘Yes’, he said, ‘I bought a new yacht for the business.’ (He kept a boat down at Cowes, on the Isle of Wight, that he faked VAT invoices for chartering-out to non-existent clients and used to ship cash over to a bank in low-tax offshore haven, Jersey.)

‘How much did that cost?’ I pushed on, regardless. ‘A hundred and ten thousand’, he replied, smugly.

‘In that case’, I told him, ‘you can stuff your fucking job.’ And I quit then and there – although he was a malicious little bastard and forced me to work out my notice and have a crappy leaving party I would rather not have gone to. (I got my revenge when my dog had a burst of diarrhoeia in the back of my unasked-for, embarrassing little company car and I handed it back covered in shit.)

Mike was mortified. He literally could not understand why I was so angry: the company was his, any money we made was his, he was paying us so we belonged to him, to the company, he had total ownership of our lives, our time – generally about 14 hours a day otherwise you got a bad-breath ‘hairdryer’ lecture about showing disloyalty.

I once asked for a raise, he glared at me with his fishy, pale blue eyes magnified by pebble glasses, as if I had crawled out from under a rock and asked me pointedly, ‘Who would you like me to fire so you can have a raise?’

Now however he buckled. He knew I was the agency’s profit-centre, a high-output conceptual copywriter wearing also a business development hat, whom he had under-remunerated from the start and who could now make a substantial case for a big profit-share.

‘You can have a directorship!’ he blurted. Well, for a start the idea of being in business with this bullying little creep, who liked to invite selected execs up to his house to watch porno on his big satellite dish that could get Danish TV, and was pimping his wife and 13-year-old daughter, I actually found pretty nauseating. Worse was to come.

‘Director of what?’ I asked.

‘I’m thinking of setting up a new company’, he explained earnestly, still trying to con people to the end. He outlined a business plan, until I stopped him. ‘You mean, you want me to be a nominee director of a shell company you can sideline your profits into so you can make a tax loss on the main business?’

‘Something like that’, he replied sheepishly.

A fortnight later I was offered a job with another agency, and took one of the account managers with me. (Dear Reader, we were married a couple of years later.)

Tate union rep Tracy Edwards said:

“Our members are on zero-hours contracts, they are struggling to pay the bills each month, so to ask them to donate towards a boat – well, I can tell you the staff are not happy at all. It’s really rubbed people up the wrong way.

“Another worker confirmed that the staff’s 10% canteen discount had also been taken away last week.” (Ibid.)

Yep, I know exactly how that feels.

Fucking shits.

x

Dear Clive James

Writing in last weekend’s Saturday Guardian, the venerated Australian polymath, TV personality and compulsive poet complains ruefully of a fellow Aussie, apparently; a troll, who has messaged him complaining that he is still alive.

If you are unfamiliar with the backstory, James, who must I suppose be in his late seventies, has been ‘dying’ for several years now, after being diagnosed with leukemia. Not to be unkind, or to put too fine a point on it, he has made something of an industry out of this precarious state of being, hovering as it were halfway between this world and the next, as if on a long-haul flight from Sidney.

James has written muchly and richly on the topic of his impending departure, churning out whole books and collections of self-valedictory elegiacs and a weekly ‘not dead yet’ newspaper column delineating the experience of living with Death’s shadow forever hovering in the corner of one’s eye, and here he is, years later, still at it.

On the one hand, obviously, we must be profoundly grateful James has thus far been spared. His literary output continues to be mordant, insightful, vastly knowledgeable, wry and reflective, as ever. His precarious state of health offers us a new appreciation of life. He is, in short, a bit of a national treasure; although perhaps eclipsed a little by his fellow Antipodean valetudinarian, Barry Humphries. I am yet puzzled that neither of these exemplary colonials has been rewarded with a knighthood – or, in Humphries’ case, a Dodgy Damehood.

And no-one would seriously wish anyone dead, who was not either a Conservative politician or, on occasion, John Humphrys.

Yet we know what the Aussie troll means, sort of, don’t we?

Clive James continues to deprive us of the tantalising reward he has been holding out for so long, like a parent refusing to part with the children’s Christmas presents before Twelfth Night, the opportunity of actually grieving for him, of celebrating the life well-lived. He subsists on our delayed gratification; our anticipation of sadly enjoyable Radio Four obsequies, favourite moments off the telly, contributions from past celebrities we had forgotten existed, the republication of past essays.

There dwells in our nearby town a certain person who too has gone about for several years now in a state of darkest morbidity, informing one and all of her imminent demise. ‘How are you today?’ one would ask solicitously. ‘I think I’m dying’, she would reply, ‘I feel awful.’ ‘Have you seen your doctor?’ you would ask, hopelessly. ‘They can’t do anything. They say I’m probably just depressed.’ To which there is no answer.

Turning 60, seven years ago I determined to take up two activities whose gratifications I had deliberately delayed since childhood, being the sole offspring of theatrical parents: to act on the stage, and to sing solo, again on the stage, in the jazz idiom.

Anticipating redundancy from my job, an axe that fell two years later, I wasted literally thousands of pounds of my pension ‘pot’ on musical instruments; acquiring guitars, a piano I cannot play – later exchanged for a more practical electronic keyboard; amplifiers, microphones, wobbling piles of sheet music. I studied with what teachers I could find, spending more thousands on attending residential workshops here and in France, acquiring dozens upon dozens of CD recordings.

Thus I have made a number of increasingly encouraging appearances on stage. Having had the foresight to grow my own, strangely woolly white beard, contrasting oddly with my otherwise still dark-brown hair and moustache, I have been consistently cast above my age range in comic parts, generally old sailors or pirates, ensuring a steady stream of unpaid work twice a year. I am currently playing the old Jew in Shakespeare’s Merchant of Venice, as sympathetically as possible I hope, being a non-Jew myself. (You can’t get the actors here.)

And in December I had my first and so far my only unpaid gig as a jazz singer, outside the supportive yet respectfully critical confines of professionally supervised workshops. It was not an unmitigated success, less from a performance point of view than because of the unexpected obstacle of having to compete with a woman selling ‘smoothies’ from a powered blender in the area next to us, in the awkward key of E; while the only member of the audience was a ten-year-old girl whose parents urgently dragged her away.

Halfway through the programme we had carefully rehearsed, my dying friend wandered in. ‘Oh hello’, she said. ‘Are you here?’ and, grabbing the microphone off the stand, announced that she proposed to sing ‘Autumn leaves’. It being, on reflection, quite an appropriate swansong; which she proceeded to warble while the pianist struggled to find her key and I prompted her with the actual lyrics. Happily, as one by one the leaves sadly fell, by the end she was still very much alive and wandered off again in a haze of antidepressants to continue her campaign of morbid disruption elsewhere.

I expect you have anticipated my feelings, then, on the subject of those who cling to this world like oversubstantial wraiths. While, as I said, one would not seriously wish anybody gone before their time, after all at 73 John Humphrys could simply hang up his soapbox and retire, the sound of their fingernails squeaking down the blackboard of life can sometimes be a little aggravating.

None of us can know the hour of our departure in advance, the random omnibus of Fate is even now charging towards us all from around the blind bend of Eternity, and so one cannot really blame those who succumb to an excess of premature morbidity in the exercise of their profession. It makes for a good story.

Journalists in particular have taken to biographising for our benefit, the remnants of their truncated lives lived under medical sentence; articles and broadcasts usually prefaced with misplaced regret that we do not ‘talk about death’ enough in our thoughtless pursuit of material happiness. A new Puritanism stalks the country.

And, oh my God, it’s a May Bank Holiday Saturday and once again the sports field half a mile away has come alive with the echoing, tinny cry of the tannoy, the splintered shards of unidentifiable muzak punctuated for the next 48 hours with unintelligible announcements, that shatters the relative peace of the valley and drills through the expensively double-glazed windows of my little garden studio.

There is no escaping the racket. Death’s silent dominion can seem too remote a consolation at such a time of year.

Spring. Who needs it.

Pssst… wanna know the definition of the word ‘wanker’? What do these idiots know anyway, other than how to count pennies? And idiots who don’t… plus: The Street of Shame.

Pssst… wanna know the definition of the word ‘wanker’?

Confronted by evidence of a sharp slowdown in the British economy he supposedly manages on behalf of Queen Theresa, as the Brexit shocks finally start to work through, Chancellor Philip Hammond tweeted (!) as follows:

“Choice facing the British ppl: strong & stable Govt w/ T May to lock in econ progress vs J Corbyn’s coalition of chaos-a risk to our economy.”

Who’s he kidding? He doesn’t even realise ‘strong and stable’ – a dreary cliche concocted by expensive Aussie spinmeister ‘Sir’ Lynton Crosby and nonsensically repeated at every opportunity by May et al – as in: “I’ll have the steak, please, and make sure it’s strong and stable” – has already become this week’s joke.

‘Coalition of chaos’ is another infantile slur dreamed up by Crosby. Presumably it hasn’t occurred to him that between 2010 and 2015 it was his own party that was in a coalition, not Labour. And if you don’t think the Tories’ Brexit has caused chaos you must be living in a campervan and drying your socks on a tree.

Tories, eh? Fucking liars, the lot of them.

“Pew, it smells rather strongly of stable…”

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“We will get out there and we will be become incredibly successful because we will be insecure again. And insecurity is fantastic.” – Peter Hargreaves (quoted in Reuter’s report, 11 May, 2016.)

“Brexit leaves industrial firms staring into regulatory void” – Reuter’s report, 26 April 2017.

 

What do these idiots know anyway, other than how to count pennies?

By: Business Correspondent, Sterling Pound ©2017. @longliquidlunch.com

Another billionaire ‘disruptor’, money-man Mr Peter Hargreaves, has hoved over the BogPo’s horizon, thanks to a sidelong reference in a piece by George Monbiot in today’s Guardian.

http://www.theguardian.com/commentisfree/2017/apr/25/vote-labour-jeremy-corbyn-theresa-may?utm_source=esp&utm_medium=Email&utm_campaign=GU+Today+main+NEW+H+categories&utm_term=223208&subid=19570602&CMP=EMCNEWEML6619I2

If you have ever wondered why these people do it, seek to use their vast wealth to undermine our institutions, disrupt the liberal-democratic consensus and bend the system to their greedy desire to aggregate to themselves even more obscene wealth, as if the entire goal of existence is to amass as much treasure as you can and then die without it, the following extracts are pretty much self-explanatory:

“Hargreaves financially supported the Leave.EU campaign in 2016, and wrote to 15 million UK householders asking them to support the leave campaign in the European Union membership referendum. … (he) said that the Brexit will lead to insecurity, which will turn out be very effective. … the companies in the FTSE 100 Index may turn out to be very profitable because of the referendum decision.” – Wikipedia

From Wealth Manager magazine (sorry, I’ve lost the reference date. Ed.)

“The number of billionaires living in the UK has exceeded 100 for the first time in history with Peter Hargreaves’ relentless rise up the wealth charts continuing. The Hargreaves Lansdown (HL) founder saw his wealth rise by £867 million in 2013, according to the Sunday Times Super Rich list. This rise is largely thanks to the doubling of HL’s share price in 2013 from £6.81 to £13.54. Shares in the firm closed at £12.09 last week.”

So at least he’s owned up. Brexit was a scheme to manipulate the markets. Let’s just pause and consider.

“Saving money by design”

Like British waistlines, numbers have been expanding rapidly. We now bandy words like ‘billion’ and ‘trillion’ with barely a thought. Were you or I to win a million pounds on the Lotto, we would consider ourselves rich. I doubt I have earned a million pounds in my entire career. But a million pounds is not real wealth. Once you have paid half a million for a four-bedroomed 1950s semi-detached house in the suburbs of Manchester or Birmingham, thrown a party, taken the cruise and bought your kids annuities, a new Jaguar standing on the forecourt, the income you’ll earn from investing the balance will be a few hundred pounds a year at best.

Let’s remember, to be a ‘billionaire’ you have to be earning at least a hundred million a year and still have assets valued at 900 million or more. A million is a thousand thousand. A billion is a thousand thousand thousand…. Pounds, dollars? How does anyone get to be a billionaire, let alone a multi-billionaire like Peter Hargreaves? It would take you or me a thousand Lotto wins, a thousand lifetimes.

It requires total dedication to Mammon, that’s for sure. No time for love and laughter.

Mr Hargreaves knows that ‘insecurity’ – presumably of the kind that nearly kicked-off a nuclear war last week – is good for capitalism.

He is by all accounts in person a modest man who, apart from the odd non-executive directorship, lives quietly in retirement on his farm in the West Country, growing his own vegetables and never betting “more than £5” at the races – despite owning several racehorses. He founded his investment company, Hargreaves Lansdown, in 1981, from his bedroom. It still affords him a living.

What therefore could this trained accountant, said to be worth £2.4 billion, possibly gain from amassing more and more totally unneeded wealth? Given that it’s not going to get him into Heaven?

He would either have to be a sociopath, a Scrooge cackling madly atop a huge pile of gold, or he genuinely believes that forcing the Stock Market to more and more perilous heights is a Good Thing for the British economy; grossly overvaluing the nation’s industrial assets, enriching himself and his friends at the expense of gouging the sick, the poor and disabled, the cheated schoolkids, thwarted Millennials, companies sitting on an unused cash pile of £700 billion and counting; money denied to the socially useful departments of the State and to the ones who actually do the work – you and me.

There could be no other reason for wanting to drag Britain out of the European Union and possibly bring down the entire edifice of peaceful postwar co-operation, gradually increasing prosperity and civil society in Europe, could there?

Ironically, it is said, Mr Hargreaves actually ‘lost’ £400 million as a result of his carefully planned campaign going pear-shaped. He won the Leave vote, but his prediction of boom times in the City failed to materialise; while official figures are now showing an economy beginning to slide southward; city jobs leaving; Britain’s shared global influence waning.

Altogether now…

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And idiots who don’t…

Nick Ramsay, chairman of the assembly’s Public Accounts Committee, said the report was the latest example of poor handling of Welsh Government funding for the private sector.

“I am particularly concerned that the auditor-general has identified a lack of Welsh Government oversight of payments made by the project to related companies, and also the use of taxpayers’ money to purchase a Buckinghamshire-based engineering company that later went into administration,” he said.

Circuit of Wales (however! Ed.) said the report represents a “clean bill of health” for the plans and project and shows that its directors “have been completely exonerated of the false claims made over the misuse of public funds”. – BBC News Wales, 27 April.

Once again millions of pounds of Welsh taxpayers’ money have been ploughed willy-nilly into a gobsmacking vanity project that any hard-headed commercial manager would have dismissed as pie-in-the-sky from the get-go. The report bears it out, but the directors are ‘exonerated’. Of course they are, bless them.

In this case, Circuit of Wales (you might alter the name to ‘circuit-and-see’) is, or hopefully was, a £400 million speculative wheeze to build a motor-cycle racing circuit and theme park dedicated to outdated vulgarities on what has been described as ‘undeveloped moorland’ – in other words, in the spiritually uplifting, quiet and peaceful environment of the upland habitat that makes Wales so scenically special for visitors and the resident wildlife.

Just the place in fact for screaming engines, squealing tyres, clouds of ethanol-laced petrol smoke, the fatty stench of burgers, incomprehensible announcements bellowing over a tannoy raised to volume 11, a litter of styrofoam fast-food trays and plastic beer mugs; queues for the car park and the overflowing toilets.

The BogPo’s own experience of managing projects is on a smaller scale, admittedly, but your Uncle B. was once hired to set up a £1.5 million publicly funded project in Wales that turned out to be another scam, and can safely say that if anyone came to me proposing to blow £400 million on a 100% guaranteed risk-free business opportunity to create ‘six thousand jobs’ and attract three quarters of a million visitors a year to an oil-soaked motor-bike racetrack in the middle of fucking nowhere, I would have booted them out of my office and told them to go and earn a living.

Instead, the Welsh Assembly Government, mordantly known as WAG, handed them £7 million of your money and mine, no questions asked, just to think about it, basically – with a promise of more that has now thankfully been withdrawn.

The really successful con-men of this world know that the secret is to flatter the mark with the promise of rewards so huge, kickbacks so pleasing, artists’ impressions so alluring, they cannot but hand over their wallet, their shirt and trousers too. And if the initial proposal looks like failing, you don’t row back – no, you make the proposal even BIGGER!

“As well as a motorbike circuit, the proposals now include mountain bike trails, a BMX park, concert facilities and indoor skiing.”

Also underwater discus-throwing, women’s bog-snorkelling, wheelchair golf and courses in accountancy for dummies.

The ask is that if Wales puts up half – £200 million – the rest will come from ‘private sources’. Circuit of Wales however has itself apparently put nothing in, having no assets, no security, no liability whatsoever, the project being what’s known as a ‘blank-paper’ proposal; i.e. made of nothing, just like the Universe. Even that did not ring alarm bells; not even when £35,000 of the money was alleged to have ended up being ploughed via some other circuitous route into a domestic garden makeover for Circuit of Wales’ CEO, Mr Michael Carrick.

Brickbats and bureaucrats

Welsh funding agencies have a simply appalling record over the years of handing out public money irresponsibly to anyone who comes along, without having the slightest idea of what the project is, what it involves, what its chances of succeeding are, who is behind it and where the money is going… oops, has gone.

The bureaucrats who infest these quangos, created only to find imaginative ways of blowing the €1.6 billion cheque posted to Wales in the early noughties by the EU in ‘Objective One’ funding designed to bring on economic basket-case areas, are without doubt among the most inexperienced, poorly qualified, dimly-illuminated, gullible and second-rate managers to be found anywhere outside London and the Garden Bridge project.

According to a Lib-Dem party newsletter, my own local authority has been scammed by a very large and well-known multinational accountancy firm; being persuaded to hand over £1.6 million to buy what was described in a TV documentary last year as a generic ‘report’ they sell to all who ask, giving what appear to be the same suggestions as to how the council can save money…. It is honestly enough to make grown men cry, how stupid and unwary these bureaucrats are when confronted with real professionals skilled at separating gullible provincials from their purses.

Working in the funded sector myself fifteen years ago, as a project manager I encountered several examples of ambitious and obviously undeliverable £multi-million projects proposed by individuals who, my bullshit detector instantly assured me, were nothing but opportunistic con-men. Yet the Development Agency was always happy to provide ‘matched funding’ so poorly overseen that invoices were not checked and public money lost.

(For locals in the know, I mention only Gelli Aur, the Dragon studio and The Pop Factory.)

All it took in those days to separate a bureaucrat from reality was the expansive promise of improbable numbers of new ‘jobs’ or ‘qualifications’ everyone knew would never be delivered, or would at best be only temporary; for, in a way, this is a tragedy of simple people driven to desperation by earnest hopefulness.

The coal and steel industries that powered the economy are dead and gone, or at their last gasp. Whole communities have been blighted, among the poorest in the land. Regeneration funding has focussed almost entirely on the capital and its grandiose dockland developments. Between the far south and far north of Wales is a vast expanse of upland wilderness dotted with hardscrabble sheep farms, hidden villages and a few small towns linked by winding, impassable lanes, rural communities reeking of decay and abandonment.

Living almost in the exact centre of that economic void, I myself was able to find no fulltime work for almost two years, ending up in a low-paid menial job with many unpaid senior management responsibilities piled on. There is, to put it bluntly, fuck-all work available (to the unconnected); fuck-all money. No growth, no inward investment – put off by distance, Ruritanian infrastructure, shoddy old housing and the limitations and extra costs of having to operate bilingually.

Young people still leave, or start-up short-lived hairdressing businesses, for which they win pitiable ‘entrepreneurship’ awards. The economy is agriculture, seasonal tourism in poor-quality facilities, care homes, charity shops, macJobs in supermarkets. We have at last got a few Mbps of Broadband, things are slowly improving, we have a new Tesco… .

Small wonder that, into this atmosphere of gloom and decay come greedy business folk with fake Rolexes, selling their snake-oil, scenting ‘regeneration funding’ with no questions asked – no paper trail, no comebacks, and an administration eager to cover up its egregious errors in case of putting off more genuine investors, who are so few and far between. Eager not to reveal its shortcomings, its petty corruption.

When the first tranche is spent, as in the case of Circuit-and-see, the principle is invariably that of throwing ‘good money after bad’, rather than sensible loss-cutting. You can always come back for more, knowing there’s no-one counting the pennies.

http://www.bbc.co.uk/news/uk-wales-39706499

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Britain now stands at number 40 in the league table of press freedom around the world.

The Street of Shame

We’re coerced from birth into believing Britain is a ‘free’ country, and once outside the evils of European domination we shall be even ‘freer’. Britons “never, never, never shall be slaves”, in the words of old Rule Britannia! (although we bought and sold a few in our time).

I imagine the vast majority of people will never know this, perhaps if they did they wouldn’t even care, but according to the annual report by the pressure-group Reporters Without Borders, Britain now stands at number 40 in the league table of press freedom around the world.

Fortieth, out of 180 countries. Britain? It’s absolutely shameful.

But dammit, we invented freedom of the press!

No, we didn’t. The C18th sedition laws made us the least free country in the world for exchanging information at the time when newspapers as we know them were first coming into being; especially when they were critical of the establishment, which could legally get you hanged. Government has always had an instinct for suppression, for secrecy.

Then camed Murdoch.

The freedoms our press gained to lie and cheat and hack people’s phones and publish dumpster-garbage about celebrities and horoscopes and randy vicars and Arctic killer-blasts and vegetable cancer-cures and vegetables that cause cancer and phoney ‘opinion’ polls and the evils of the Common Market, feral migrants, footballers, ‘our heroes’, treacherous judges, devil dogs, benefit scroungers, Madeleine McCann and Muslims – oh, yes, sexually incontinent politicians too and their fiddled expenses – were dearly bought.

Tony Blair’s Freedom of Information Act made it easier for the press and broadcasters, as well as pressure groups, to hold government to account. Theresa May’s Investigatory Powers Act by contrast, passed almost without notice in January by a crapulous, disorientated and Brexit-obsessed Parliament, has created a different kind of surveillance society that puts the East German Stasi in the shade and has knocked us down ten places on a list that ought surely to reflect the civilized virtues that make our world.

Instead we are entering a new era of barbarism.

“RSF said the act was a possible “death sentence” for investigative journalism in Britain, owing to its lack of protections for whistleblowers, journalists and their sources, and that it set a damaging precedent for other countries to follow.” – The Guardian

But even that is not enough for The Law Commission, that demands draconian penalties for journalists merely handling sensitive information, with no ‘public interest’ defence, such as the Panama Papers that exposed the dodgy dealings of so many secretive offshore investors – such as the late tax-dodging father of former Prime Minister, David Cameron. The wealthy must be protected.

Top of the press-freedom list, as of so many other indicators of civilized life, is Norway. North Korea has knocked Eritrea off the bottom spot as Eritrea apparently allowed a handful of journalists into the country last year while North Korea was still executing people for listening to South Korean radio broadcasts.

Down also at No. 43 is the USA, where President Trump has labelled the press ‘enemies of the people’ and his advisor, Mr Bannon, told the Washington Post and the New York Times to ‘shut up’ and think more carefully before criticising the President; and where Mr Bannon’s foreskin, the college vampire Steven Miller, was issuing dire warnings in the media that ‘the President’s powers are not to be questioned’. The tragedy is, they aren’t being.

I expect this will cost ‘the land of the free’ a few more points in next year’s list.

For sure, we’re in good company. But as long as the BogPo stands for freedom, truth and beauty, Britain yet stands with us.

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