Where will the billionaires go? (Maybe Bilbao? Whoops, BA!)

“Lo, there shall come unto you an Orange One bearing shafts of fire, and the poor shall be royally shat upon.”

“…unto every one that hath shall be given, and he shall have abundance”

But it says so in the bible…

There are numerous internal contradictions in the bible, as we know. One of the strangest is in the ‘parable of the talents’ (a talent was a coin, not the ‘X-factor’).

Jesus, we are supposed to believe, was all in favour of poor people, to whom would be given the Kingdom of Heaven, and less so of the rich, whose camels would find it easier to pass through the eye of a needle than for their owners to enter his father’s house.

We know too of his rage at the money changers setting up shop in the temple.

And yet we find this at Matthew 25:29….

“His lord answered and said unto him, Thou wicked and slothful servant, thou knewest that I reap where I sowed not, and gather where I have not strawed: Thou oughtest therefore to have put my money to the exchangers, and then at my coming I should have received mine own with usury. Take therefore the talent from him, and give it unto him which hath ten talents. For unto every one that hath shall be given, and he shall have abundance: but from him that hath not shall be taken away even that which he hath.”

Are we supposed to take from this, that Jesus was advocating taking everything away from the undeserving working poor and giving it to the rich, with their distressing tendency to reap what they have not sown?

Or was he merely describing how bad things are in the world, and somehow the bit where he repudiates the economics of regressive distribution got left out?

It sounds more like the former.

Certainly, the rich seem to take comfort from this passage, especially at the idea that instead of sticking his talent under the mattress, if he couldn’t run a profitable business the poor servant should ideally have let an asset fund-manager invest the money (and cream a fat commission off the top).

I’d guess it’s this passage, too, that led to the whole cultural thing where Jews lent money out for profit, that contributed quite a lot to the growth of antisemitism in Europe in the middle ages when Christians were banned by law from lending with interest. The medieval Jews were like the Wonga of their day: despised, but occasionally necessary.

Something similar once happened to me.

I was hired as the gardener at a dilapidated old country house with dry rot and no garden (I should have been suspicious at that point), whose owners lived 8,000 miles away on the dark side of the world.

Sensing a business opportunity, they told me by email I had to singlehandedly run it as a £100 a night hotel, that hadn’t been refurbished for thirty years and was mostly used for illegal raves.

They refused absolutely to spend a penny on replacing the old coffee-wine-and-worse-stained mattresses, the historic chipboard furniture, the broken dishwasher, unless I earned the money first. The sewage system was 200 years old, the place was running with rats, hopping with bedbugs, there wasn’t enough hot water for a bath and the advertising budget I was given for three months wouldn’t cover one quarter-page insertion in the minority-interest local edition of the national tourism brochure.

They moaned at me piteously because I couldn’t make enough money from their wonderful home to cover the heating bills, and accused me of pocketing all the money. Thou wicked and slothful servant. After seven years they paid me to leave.

In Jesus’ book I’d have done better to sell the house and invest the money in blood diamonds or crack cocaine. Actually, that’s pretty much what I advised them to do, but I was only the old gardener. Who listens?

Ripping-off the poor is the rich man’s pleasure.

And Christianity seems to provide a perverse excuse for the ‘winner take all’ philosophy that is so prevalent today, as around the world vast inequality is creating gaping rifts in the fabric of society and Trump the senile warlord, the slumdog billionaire reigns rampant over the remains of civilization.

x

A climate of concern

Google images

You might have heard of the Hudson’s Bay Company? They’re the boys who used to trade furs with trappers beyond the Arctic circle, in the 1800s?

Well, on 6 June the temperature on Hudson’s Bay was 89 deg. F.; while a temperature of 56 deg C., 132 deg F. was recorded in Sistat and Baluchestan province, Iran. (Arctic News, 6 June)

Adding to the list of environmental problems caused by man-made climate change, the latest bulletins from the Climate and Extreme Weather website, #28 & #29, report that Tamil Nadu province in SE India is experiencing its worst drought in 150 years. They’re having to plant ever-smaller areas of crops as there is nothing available to irrigate them, and many villages have less than a month’s supply of water in the reservoirs.

By contrast, only a few hundred miles to the south over 180 people have died in flash floods and landslides in Sri Lanka as record monsoon rains arrive early. India has had to send over emergency support services. Flooding in Manipur, NE India, has killed two. June 2: a ‘stationary front’ brings 600 mm of rain (two feet) to Taiwan in 12 hours. Major flooding also reported on the mainland, ‘tens of thousands’ evacuated.

I see by contrast that Capetown in South Africa is running desperately short of water – Western Cape province has been declared a disaster zone in the midst of the worst drought in a century and water rationing has been introduced in the city. La Paz in Peru is similarly suffering. Northern Bangladesh, too, is experiencing a dangerous heatwave and drought; as is Kenya, where thousands of cattle have died and villagers have no food after a three-year-long drought. Landscape views show not a tree or a blade of grass left for miles.

Saintly reputation fast putrefying in the SE Asian air.

Weirdly, however, in other parts of Kenya there are floods; while Cyclone Mora has caused the evacuation of 350 thousand people in the Ganges delta area of Bangladesh; and has trashed two enormous refugee camps for the Burmese muslim Rohingya minority, now suffering a genocide denied by the formerly heroic Aung Sang Suu Kyi, whose fragrant and saintly reputation is fast putrefying in the steamy SE Asian air.

Aljazeera news reports that millions of people are on the verge of starvation in Somalia, overflowing refugee camps that have no supplies because the NGOs have run out of money. Thank you, America. Large parts of Guyana, however, are helpfully underwater. Sulawesi in Indonia has been flooded twice in the last month.

Flash floods have caused hundreds of people to be evacuated in Germany and in Hungary; there are more floods in Greece; major flooding in Serbia, flash floods in Switzerland; but a 30 deg C.+ heatwave is forecast for central Europe up into Sweden in the coming days. Tennis players at the French Open are dropping like flies. Moscow: 12 people have died in the most powerful storm to hit the city in ‘100 years’. In Stavropol, southern Russia, five million homes are reported flooded and 60,000 people evacuated; thousands of acres of farmland have been affected. We are seeing ‘100-year’ events almost everywhere now.

In the USA Salem, Indiana is underwater again for the second time in ten years and a state of emergency has been declared across three states. Lake Poopoe, the second largest freshwater lake in landlocked Bolivia, has dried up completely for the third year in a row, and is not expected to recover. Lake Titicaca is suffering a potentially ecocidal pollution crisis, destroying tourism. Severe flooding leaves 8 dead, 40,000 evacuated in Pernambuco, Brazil. Villahermosa, Mexico, Tropical Storm Beatriz kills five. 253mm rain dumped in 12 hours.

Tuesday 30th: Phoenix, Arizona, 102 deg. F. (5 June, 108 deg. F.) Tampa, Fla 95 deg. F. Houston, Texas 89 deg. F.

Wednesday 31st: Turbat province, Pakistan, records 53.5 deg C., 128.3 deg. F.

Project Midas (Swansea University) reports a rapid elongation of the 150m wide crack that threatens to calve the world’s biggest iceberg from the Larsen C ice-shelf in Antarctica: 17km in four days. The crack is now less than 13 km from the sea at the one end where the shelf is still attached. Loss of an area one quarter the size of Wales could herald the breakup of the entire shelf. I have to lookup how big is Wales, it’s very folded.

The Washington administration meanwhile is budgeting for a massive reduction in overseas aid spending through the UN, to fund tax cuts for the poor richest 1% in America, who now own only 82 times the wealth of the bottom 50%. On his visit to Europe, Mr Trump declined to join the rest of the G8 in reaffirming the Paris accord, saying he would have to think about it; although it is known he is incapable of rational thought.

Stop Press: Wednesday 31st, he repudiates Paris, falsely arguing that it ‘damages American jobs’.

Mr Trump is, wittingly or unwittingly (he is startlingly ignorant of many things, especially business economics) on the verge of becoming a world criminal.

An ecocide, on whom responsibility sitting for the extinction of life on earth within a generation is not a fanciful notion or an exaggeration, as he has the power to act to stop it, or at least to try, albeit so late in the day; but, to please his billionaire backers who insanely imagine they can buy their way to salvation, will not.

If he pulls out of Paris, Mr Dump should be taken from the White House, by force if necessary, put on trial, convicted; strapped to a gurney and clumsily executed by lethal injection. His director of the EPA, former Arkansas Attorney-General and energy business shill, Scott Pruitt, knows all about how that’s done.

x

Where will the billionaires go?

I cannot believe the billionaires do not have some desperate plan up their sleeve to survive the coming climate apocalypse.

Just think.

Sustainable eco-domes like the Eden Project in Cornwall offer UHNW families temporary hope of survival, but at a cost.

If you earned a million dollars a year and never spent a penny, it would take you a thousand years to become a billionaire. I don’t think I’ve made a million dollars in my lifetime. Had I done so, I would need a thousand lifetimes to be a billionaire. If you won a million pounds on the Lottery, and declined to celebrate with a champagne cruise, you would still have to win 999 more Lotteries to become a billionaire.

So you have to be pretty smart, pretty determined, pretty lucky in who your dad was or pretty crooked to become a billionaire in the first place. And some people are billionaires many times over. How is that?

These UHNW (Ultra High Net Worth) individuals are growing exponentially in number as we ordinary losers keep shoveling money at them in exchange for such important, everyday items as this year’s model of iPhone, internet subscriptions, exorbitant rents, personal data or dubious financial advice. They know, surely they know, that we are all doomed, probably within a generation.

As the planet warms, feedbacks are triggered; polar ice vanishes, gigatons of methane erupt from thawing tundra and seabed, crops now glutted with CO2 can’t take up any more and die off, giving their CO2 back to the atmosphere; the oceans warm and acidify to the point where they no longer produce oxygen, the food chain collapses. Sea levels rise inexorably. Warmer air becomes heavy with water vapor, insulating clouds trap more heat. Weather systems become wilder, more unpredictable, more energetic.

As desertification begins to impact the temperate latitudes more wildfires consume vast areas of woods and scrubland, adding to the burden of greenhouse gases: CO, CO2, SO2, NOx – H2O. More and more of the human-habitable zone rapidly becomes uninhabitable, fragile economies collapse, millions flee in desperation to more northerly and southerly latitudes: migration wars break out.

If this sounds like the stuff of futuristic fiction, you need to wake up: it’s happening now, and it’s almost certainly already too late to stop it.

We’ve already fucked the atmosphere to the extent that if we stopped polluting right now, stopped everything: cars, planes, power plant, TV, air conditioning units, overnight, it would take 100 years to clear the excess CO2. But if sooty particulates in the stratosphere precipitated-out tomorrow, we would experience another 1.6 degrees of runaway warming within days. There is no science, no engineering solution that can stop it in time, that would not make things worse in the long run.

A growing number of perfectly respectable scientists are joining the ‘Extinction 2030’ club. But the models are starting to show an even worse-case scenario: it’s possible we could see 6 degrees of warming by 2021. And that’s not survivable. The planet hasn’t been that hot in the past 200 million years. Realistically it should take longer. No-one knows, exactly. But that doesn’t mean it isn’t happening now.

Three billionaires – Musk, Bezos and Branson – are racing to build a rocket ship that will take humans to Mars. But Mars is not a habitable planet, it’s all desert. It barely has an atmosphere: CO2. It’s very cold, giant dust storms last for weeks. There’s frozen water, but little solar energy to generate air and power indefinitely. You get there, put up a small tent, and that’s it – the future of Mankind in the universe, reduced to one tiny spark of optimism with not a lot around to catch fire.

It’d be pretty bleak.

Nor does the Martian ecosystem guarantee the resources needed to survive for long in a small colony without hard work, which billionaires are not used to doing; yet their gardeners and housekeepers would be hugely expensive deadweight on the nine-month journey. Robots would be needed. It’s all taking too long, and there are too many billionaires to accommodate.

A Mars mission would be fatally limited in scope: it would be like Scott’s last expedition to the Antarctic, a failed heroic gesture based on poor and hasty planning, inadequate support. Google will be our obituary: ‘thus far and no further’ etched in the Martian sand.

The solution for our threatened billionaires therefore probably lies in constructing terrestrial eco-domes: enclosed, controllable, self-sustaining environments like the Eden Project in Cornwall.

With plentiful solar and wind energy to provide air conditioning, refrigeration, oxygenation, composting of poo and recycling of waste water, these ‘living bubbles’ would enclose hydroponic farms to produce green crops, underground laboratories where proteinacious meat-substitutes could be cloned or manufactured from fungi, and medical facilities.

To go outside, protective suits and oxygen tanks would be required; especially in view of the likelihood that the highly radioactive cores of hundreds of unattended nuclear power stations around the world, deprived of their water coolant, would be melting-down.

The domes would of course have to be defensible. Unless there’s enough methane to snuff us all out, human extinction is not going to be an overnight success. There will be an enormous residue of buildings, fuel, vehicles and general ‘stuff’ to pillage, weapons stores, for useful items. It will take a few years, during which bands of starving survivors will represent an existential threat to the billionaires in their fragile domes.

Private armies will be required, well-armed, possibly with armored vehicles and even small ‘battlefield’ nuclear weapons, and they will naturally demand a share of the food and sanctuary offered by their employers. Unless their services can be supplied from the outset by robots, some means of eliminating the security people when they are no longer necessary will need to be built-in as they become a drain on resources.

Ultimately, however, no system is really self-sustaining to the extent that would be needed to support a viable colony of, say, sixty persons. Besides, unless a means of abandoning the dead planet could be found, to go out and explore the many planetary systems we are only just discovering in our galaxy, to try to find another Earth, what would be the point of surviving? It would take hundreds more people to accomplish than could be housed in the domes.

Breeding more humans in the domes would be counter-productive, as more and more resources would be needed to keep them alive. That can’t work in a closed system, we’ve tried it. You would have to initiate a ‘one-in, one-out’ policy. As the useful staff members – doctors, technicians, gardeners, cooks, maintenance people – their equipment deteriorates and their skills die off, who will replace them?

Billionaires are even now funding serious research into immortality. Lifespans in the hundreds of years may soon be achievable as we find a way to keep our cells replicating healthily. But there’s a catch in Domeworld. Their servants would have to become immortal too!

Boredom and futility would be the final killers, in a limited world of sterile pleasures where there is no more money to be made, no more challenges and goals for these alpha-males and females, other than sheer survival in a series of small, covered habitats flimsily insulated from a hostile environment inimical to all life bar the rats and cockroaches – and no Facebook!

With no more mountains to climb the billionaires would surely go crazy.

(And, lo, the very day after I wrote this little piece, hath appeared the following sign in the Heavens:

http://www.bbc.co.uk/bbcthree/item/183995d2-8d56-4028-9ca5-73394d695e10?intc_type=singletheme&intc_location=bbcthree&intc_campaign=bbcthree&intc_linkname=article_apocalypse_contentcard30 )

x

“So, for £20 I can put in a plug for British Airways?”

“In January 2011 BA merged with Iberia, creating the International Airlines Group (IAG), a holding company registered in Madrid, Spain. IAG (turnover £11.4 bn) is the world’s third-largest airline group in terms of annual revenue and the second-largest in Europe.”

Come, don’t fly with me

As you can probably guess, I have a computer.

It’s just a li’l laptop, with some peripheral things plugged in: a big screen, a mouse, some speakers, a printer.

And for what, £20, £25, I acquired a five-point switchable power-socket bar to distribute the electricity to them all, a kind of power-bar with a special little doohickey, a transformer, a power-sink, whatever, inside it, providing built-in surge protection.

So when lightning strikes or a nuclear bomb goes off somewhere, or when everybody switches their kettle off all at once, or when it’s a bank holiday, an unexpected power-surge is hopefully not going to derail my latest project by wiping my data or worse, blowing-up the operating system.

The ‘motherboard of all bombs’….

And it seems to be working okay so far.

Out there in PR land, they have a speciality a bit like my special power-bar. It’s called ‘crisis management’. Or sometimes, ‘reputation management’.

It’s about knowing what you have to do when your business fucks-up bigly, so you don’t permanently lose your reputation and thence, your business.

Like when British Petroleum blew a hole in the floor of the Gulf of Florida and had to confess, they didn’t have a stopper that fit. Millions of gallons of oil continued spewing out for days, weeks… it began to look like the end of the world was nigh. The marine life died, the fishermen were going bust, the compensation cheques got bigger and bigger… the Chief Executive was replaced but the share price kept on going south….

The eventual bill exceeded $60 billion and the loss of reputation was almost terminal. Not every big business can see the point of reputation management until they need it. And sorry seems to be the easiest word.

Self-styled crisis-management experts go around companies to provide training in how to prevent things going bad for your business, and how to deal with it when they do – as you can’t always count on things not going badly, the bigger and more complicated a business gets. Everyone knows that.

Nearly everyone.

It starts with a risk assessment. You all sit down together and blue-sky all the things that could possibly go seriously wrong, like a lightning strike or a nuclear bomb creating a power surge that takes down your entire information system, company wide.

Maybe no-one wants to seem so stupid as to mention the possibility of a bank holiday?

You draw up a plan to manage every situation, so everyone knows what they have to do; and some rough scripts, for what you say to the customers, the press – your shareholders.

Then you ask an engineer, how do we stop this happening?

And the engineer will say, well, it’s a very rare situation, hardly ever happens, but you should ideally make sure we have a backup system in case the main one goes down.

(Or, there’s this guy in Boglington-on-Sea who writes that for £20 you can get one of those special power-bars you plug your system into, that soaks up any power surges and stops your entire worldwide information nexus from going down at the same time.)

But what happens if we choose not to spend the £20 or bother having a backup, let’s just go with Microsoft Windows XP from Computer World, that’s always reliable, maybe fire all the IT people and outsource the whole damn thing to a wooden shack in Tamil Nadu, save ourselves some money?

Well, then, says the engineer, whoever took that decision is going to have some serious questions to answer if your entire information system goes down at the same time and you can’t operate the business.

But, how serious can it be?

Like I said, it happens very, very rarely.

Yeah, okay, let’s go ahead and ignore it.

But, worst-case scenario, you could find you have twenty-five thousand families jammed into airport lounges in many countries, no planes taking off, all not knowing what’s going on, on the busiest day of the year, a hot day, after they sweated for hours in traffic, at the start of the half-term holiday you just totally ruined for them and their kids, with nothing to eat, nowehere to go but home, and then you’d have to pay them maybe £100 million in compensation?

It’s never going to happen.

But what if it did, who would take responsibility in a situation that bad?

Not me, amigo.

I’m only the Managing Director.

It’s not my fault. It was a power surge…a bad reaction to a power surge… I dunno, it’s technical.

How many times have we heard this, top management refusing to resign over the most horrendous cock-ups on their watch?

“No, I can’t go, not me, I’m the only person on earth who can be trusted to fix the problem I created.”

It’s understandable, the amount these guys are paid. We recall the head of the Health Board on £250k a year who refused to go for weeks after an inquiry found that horrendous things happened, people died. She had to be dragged kicking and screaming from the building while huge cheques were being written to retain her as a consultant, only for that plan to be abandoned too in the face of a public outcry.

Now she lives on a gurney in a corridor somewhere, her worldly goods stuffed in bags underneath.

“Alex is 50 years old and originally from Bilbao in Spain.  He has a degree in industrial engineering from Central Michigan University, an MSc from the Ohio State University, and a Business Management & Administration degree from the Cox School of Business in Dallas.”  – See more at: http://mediacentre.britishairways.com/factsheets/details/86/Factsheets-3/26#sthash.7yKOPLX4.dpuf

Yes, but he’s also a Spanish omelette, no? It never even occurred to him that the flying circus would break down on a bank holiday, the putz; and that people wouldn’t see their bags again for a week.

Because he of all people should know, with his MBA, it’s over. He’s on his way, and no amount of special pleading is going to convince the ruined shareholders and the desolate holidaymakers of Britain, from where the British in British Airways (our national flag carrier) derives, albeit it’s now a rapacious, corner-cutting private Spanish company with serious staffing isues, that he should stay on.

I should know, I worked in PR. The internet will get him in the end.

Better book your ticket to Bilbao, Alex.

There’s a Ryanair flight leaving in an hour.

You can rely on it.

(PS As of Tuesday morning, £500 million has been wiped off the share price of BA’s parent company, IAG.

And now (Tuesday pm) it’s recovered, now the MD refuses to go. And by the end of the week it’s up further. That’s markets for you, completely irrational.)

x

The quality of mercy, slightly strained

The other day we at the BogPo reported on an Australian woman who walked free after her baby died in a hot car, thanks to a psychologist who testified there was such a thing as ‘Forgotten baby syndrome’.

Well now, Australia isn’t quite the liberal country of popular imagination, is it.

A Sudanese refugee who drove into a lake with her three children in the car has pleaded guilty to manslaughter with diminished responsibility, after two of the children drowned.

The judge was totally sympathetic to the fact that she was suffering from severe depression and flashbacks, having seen her father murdered in the civil war in Darfur. The children’s father spoke of how she had been a good mother who would never have intentionally harmed the children.

The judge said Guode had been suffering post-traumatic stress, signs of depression and feelings of isolation from the Sudanese community. “In my opinion, your actions were the product of extreme desperation, rather than any form of vengeance,” he commented. (BBC report)

Then he sentenced her to 26 years and six months in jail, with a no-parole period of 20 years, and said it was likely she would be deported after serving her sentence.

I’ve never really loved the Antipodeans, have you? They can be a bit, well, dry? Like their ageing tennis hero, the homophobic racist Margaret Court, possibly?

 

Advertisements

It’s never going to end. Also: The rule of law as it applies to the Conservatives.

“Theresa May, as home secretary, sat through 55 national security council meetings on Libya between March and November 2011. The national security adviser’s “lessons learned” report makes no mention of any Home Office contribution to that body’s decisions, nor any mention of the implications for domestic terror.” – Paul Mason, The Guardian, 27 May.

Whouahaawhouaha… eerie flashback music (again. I know, but why wouldn’t you?)

I was working at Thames TV in London in 1980. Three years earlier I had been fired from my job as a news editor on a regional radio station under, shall we say, murky circumstances – undue influence and all that – and found myself on an industry blacklist, that meant I had to start my career over again.

I gained some insight into what it must have been like for those Hollywood scriptwriters and directors unofficially blacklisted by their studios for fear of persecution by the anti-Communist witchhunting McCarthy gang (which included Trump’s notoriously thuggish mafioso solicitor, the happily late Roy Cohn).

After almost a year out of work, an editor I knew took pity on me and offered me anonymous production shifts on terrible late-night phone-in shows. Eventually I was rehabilitated, and did some well-received work, but I was never able to get another staff job and had to keep freelancing, which I’m not very good at as I have no administrative ability, networking or self-promoting instincts.

Thus I had ended up on monthly contract as a lowly scriptwriter on the early-evening news show for Thames, the London ITV contractor.

One day while in a production meeting where story ideas were being pitched, I brought up the matter of the revolution in Iran. I had a very good Iranian friend, so I knew there was quite a large population of Iranian exiles in London who had fled the Islamist purges in the wake of the overthrow of the Shah; and a concomitant population of pro-Khomeini agitators, spies and informers working against them.

Should we not perhaps look at the London dimension, where assassinations and larger-scale acts of violence were a real possibility? I asked the editor. After the shocked expressions had relaxed a bit – lost dogs, celebrity visits, tube strikes and Ken Livingstone’s antics as leader of the Greater London Council being about the sum of the editorial scope of the show – the editor dismissed it with a ‘well, call Scotland Yard and see what they say’.

So I called the press office (for the benefit of US spammers, likers etc. there is in reality no ‘Scotland Yard’, the headquarters of the Metropolitan police has not been at that address for many decades, sorry to disappoint), and they said no, that is not something we’re looking at now or even considering thinking about, thanks.

Feebly, I dropped the story. It was far above my pay grade to follow it up; besides, I didn’t have time, or the contacts.

Three days later an armed unit of the Iranian Revolutionary Guard took over the Iranian embassy in Palace Gate and a week-long siege ensued, that was ended when masked SAS men abseiled from the roof and crashed in through the windows, hurling stun grenades in an epic act of grandstanding that Thames’ police reporter, Colin Turner managed to catch on film, scooping the world’s media.

The reason I recount this story is that it’s foolish to imagine lessons are ever learned.

Paul Mason has written in The Guardian that British foreign policy, especially on Libya, has not changed. We imagine, don’t we, that there are certain countries where it’s fine to intervene in their turbid politics to suit our own view of what is the best outcome for all, and that there are never repercussions or responsibilities arising as a result. No forethought is required, for we are invariably in the right.

We – that is to say ‘the West’ – were the colonial powers in Islamic North Africa, the Middle East, northern India, Afghanistan in the C19th, when Britain, Russia and America were playing what was known as the Great Game, to secure influence over the important trade routes and mineral resources of the region, and to countervail the declining Ottoman empire.

The possibility of Islamist terrorism was at that time very real, in the estimation of the nascent Western intelligence services, as it was feared the warring tribes might unite behind a mythical saviour known as the Mahdi, whom the ‘Twelver’ Shi’ites believed would be the final incarnation of the Prophet, the Twelfth Imam; and the End of Days.

But what have we learned?

The long history of British interventions in Afghanistan is one mostly of bungling incompetence, our epic defeats being matched only by the brutality of our reprisals.

British troops sent to defend Helmand in the 2000s were hardly aware of the legacy of bitterness the C19th wars had left. It’s a different culture, with longer memories. They imagined they would be welcomed as peacekeepers, a bulwark against the Taleban. Instead they were spurned as occupiers, colonialists. Increasingly trapped in their makeshift cantonments, with mounting casualties becoming politically unacceptable at home, they were eventually forced to pull out.

The generals could have warned the poor squaddies about the back story, as they tend to study these things in books, but apparently they didn’t: thus, the occupation of Afghanistan in support as always of the Americans (who have learned nothing about the futility of asymmetrical warfare from the Vietnam debacle) became a tragedy, a strategic blunder that few people immediately understood as the gung-ho media focus was all on the betrayal of ‘our heroes’, few things in Britain having changed since the 1890s.

In pulling the Raj out of the Indian subcontinent in 1948 and arbitrarily dividing mainly Muslim Pakistan from mainly Hindu India, like taking a can-opener to separate conjoined twins without anaesthetic, we allowed – some say encouraged – a horrible civil war to unfold in which over a million died and tens of millions were displaced.

The ramifications are still being felt today, as nothing positive was ever done to settle the position of disputed Kashmir; while East Pakistan – Bangladesh – moves ever further down the road of Salafist extremism.

Throughout the Middle East, before both World Wars Britain did opportunistic power-sharing deals with local tribal leaders and then broke our promises, that left a lasting legacy of mistrust. To secure the loyalty of Faisal against the Turks, in Arabia we virtually invented the monarchical ‘House of Saud’. In colonial Iran to secure oil supplies we promoted the corrupt Pahlavi family into a poodle dynasty, with a preposterous ‘coronation’ of the Shah-in-Shah in the ruins of ancient Persepolis.

We drew lines on maps and chopped up the Middle East into imaginary ‘nations’, regardless of local religious and tribal accommodations that had arisen over centuries, a history of which we appeared to be totally unaware. When yet another coup brought the nationalizing Colonel Nasser to power in Egypt, in 1956 we and the French co-operated in a poorly planned attempt to sieze control of the Suez canal before he imposed costs on our shipping and restricted the flow of oil from the Gulf; forgetting to ask permission from the Americans, who opposed the idea. It turned into a rout.

That humiliating failure of foreign policy is generally held to mark the end of the British Empire and freed the Americans to buy their way into the region.

And then there was Israel, created from the British Mandate, armed and supported by the US in its several wars against the resident Palestinians and their neighbours Syria, Lebanon, Jordan, Egypt; the rise of the PLO, later Hamas – the festering refugee camps, the massacres, the ghettoising of the native population, the illegal settlements, the militarised security that began as legitimate national defence but morphed into a rough repression of the Arab minority.

Yet like the British, the Israelis seem to find it astonishing that apparently random and unprovoked acts of terrorism on their soil have been committed in the name of Palestinian liberation. ‘Who, us?’ they say. ‘But we’re the good guys!’ Ignoring that their own terrorists, the Stern Gang, Irgun, bombed the war-weary British into conceding the mandate in the first place. We left without securing a proper settlement.

We should perhaps briefly consider that the attacks in London using cars and knives are based on tactics developed by Hamas in Israel over the last few years, deploying minimal, virtually undetectable weaponry in the hands of ‘Fida’i’ – those willing to die – to achieve the same terrorising effect as guns and suicide vests.

Later still America engineered the coup that brought Saddam Hussein to power, and supported him for two decades, including his horrible war against Iran – eight years of bloody attrition with poison gas and school-age conscripts brainwashed by Imams into carrying out suicidal ‘open-wave’ assaults across minefields, children against machine-guns, leaving almost two million dead: a war of which we in the West were scarcely even aware at the time and which nobody remembers today.

After he seized power in 1970, apparently a moderate, Westernizing autocrat (though also profoundly corrupt, creating an oppressive personality cult and a ruthless security state around himself and his extended family) we stood by and did nothing in Syria back in 1980 while Bashar al-Assad’s father, Hafiz, was killing thousands of ‘his own people’ protesting against his family’s corruption, and razing the rebel city of Hama to the ground – a penchant for medieval butchery runs in the family.

Later, Hafiz was credited with having created the concept of the ‘suicide bomber’, driving poor and hopeless young men and women to enter the enemy camp undetected and blow themselves up with hopes of salvation and riches in the life to come. Though of course this was nothing new: inspired by a living prophet known as The Old Man of the Mountain, the Fida’i or ‘Fedayeen’ were a quasi-religious order of fanatics who opposed the Frankish crusaders in Syria in the C14th and C15th armed with little more than knives and their own lives.

‘Jihad’ counts on its followers to be more willing to die for the cause than its enemies are.

The impossibly knotty power politics of postwar Syria – you can lookup the Wikipedia entry on Hafiz, but I guarantee you will give up long before the footnotes – resulted in a split in the Ba’ath party between Syria and Iraq and led directly to the rise of the Muslim Brotherhood and Salafism, a revivalist doctrine of purity in Islam that motivated Osama bin-Laden and his fanatical followers to transfer their undeclared jihad to the West, largely targeting symbols of decadence and irreligiousness and hoping to sow confusion, dissension and division.

During the 1940s and 50s, colonial France prosecuted a nasty civil war against Algerian aspirations for independence. Twenty years after it was over, homegrown French terrorists – white men, former legionnaires sponsored by wealthy nationalists – were still carrying out bombing atrocities and assassinations in France to protest the withdrawal. A long-running Islamist insurrection in Morocco followed decades of jostling between the French and the Spanish for control of the protectorate, with Britain anxious to weaken both in its determination to hang on to Gibraltar.

In 2004, a Moroccan cell of al-Qaeda carried out a devastating terrorist atrocity in Madrid, killing 191 people with ten bombs, to protest the invasion of Iraq. There indeed was a clear and direct link between foreign policy and terrorism on both the regional and international levels.

In 2013, young Libyans joined in the Arab Spring movement, peacefully protesting the oppressive regime of Muammar Gadaffi, who struck back with characteristic brutality. Here was another regional ‘strongman’, a megalomaniacal torturer and serial rapist the oil-hungry West played with like a toy, flattering him one minute, branding him a terrorist the next – even while he was arming the Provisional IRA and fomenting rebellions among his southern neighbours.

Instead of standing by and watching him massacre his own people – we always say ‘his people’, don’t we, ignoring that those ‘strongmen’ whom we put and keep in power as long as it suits our energy policy have their own tribal loyalties and do not necessarily regard everyone as ‘their own people’ – David Cameron and Nicolas Sarkozy got together and persuaded the Americans to help us send planes to bomb Gadaffi’s tanks and supply lines, his airbases, to weaken them and thus enable the rebels to take over.

Tripoli bombing. (Google images)

It didn’t quite happen like that. The bombing of Tripoli and the Benghazi road went on day after day, justified by the phoney pretext of ‘precision-guided weaponry’, causing heavy casualties; until, attempting to flee, Gadaffi was dragged, pleading for his freedom, from hiding in a storm drain and murdered by the mob, a bayonet thrust up his anus before being shot in the head.

His sons were hunted down and arrested, and with no coherent follow-up plan coming from the West, Libya descended into chaos. The ‘rebels’ we had imagined were Westernising moderates turned out to be a squabbling assortment of tribal and religious militias and criminal gangs, bristling with liberated weaponry, harbouring varying degrees of vicious antipathy towards each other and towards the West.

What a surprise.

Eventually two shaky rival governments emerged, in the east and in the west of the country, with lawless badlands to the south. A shame because, as Donald Trump has said, they had ‘the best oil in the world’. (Mr Trump has argued that, wherever US troops are engaged, they should be allowed to recoup the cost by seizing the oil. He is criminally insane, of course, but nobody has the guts to remove him. They have seen what happens when you remove dictators.)

In Benghazi, the local militia invaded the US embassy and shot the ambassador. That, of course, was Hillary Clinton’s fault. A branch of ISIS opened in Sirte, Gadaffi’s home province, but was quickly expelled as ‘too extreme’ by local militias. Not before IS’s Libyan gunmen had entered Tunisia and murdered 32 Western tourists irreligiously bathing on a popular winter holiday beach. Another inexplicable, random attack?

Having previously invaded Iraq but left Saddam in place, after he seized the oilfields in Kuwait (it appears he imagined the Americans would like it) in 1991, twelve years later on the false pretext that the 9/11 attack on America had been supported by the dictator and claiming that he had obtained chemical and nuclear weapons he was planning to use to bring down the West, the US, Britain and NATO allies toppled the dictator using overwhelming lethal force: ‘shock and awe’, that left perhaps 15 thousand dead.

After a long manhunt, Saddam was dragged matted and bleeding from a hastily dug underground bunker, put on trial and executed. A puppet, Nuri al-Malaki was put in charge of an artificially ‘democratic’ government that has conspicuously failed to govern for national unity ever since.

In fact, apart from Israel the only country in the region that seems capable of conducting ‘free and fair’ elections is Iran – one of George W Bush’s three ‘Axis of Evil’ nations he accused of exporting global terrorism (along with Libya and North Korea). The three so named should have been Syria (probably responsible for the Lockerbie bombing), Saudi Arabia and Pakistan, but they weren’t even on the target list.

Regardless of the possibility that Iran might be the best and most stable regional ally the West could have, despite its awful record on human rights, the US is gearing up for a lucrative new war; Britain is bound to join them and another foreign policy blunder of the first magnitude is looming.

With no plan for reconstruction other than to award lucrative contracts to companies owned by cronies of President George W Bush, that were never fulfilled – placing areas under the virtual control of Blackwater, an undisciplined private army – Iraq descended into virtual civil war between Sunni and Shi’a militias, proxies of Saudi Arabia and Iran respectively, under local warlords. The casualty rate continued to spiral into the hundreds of thousands.

The British in Iraq underwent another ignominious retreat, failing to comprehend the underlying politics of the Basra region where they were charged with maintaining the peace, our generals being anxious to believe they could sustain a ‘second front’ in Afghanistan, that would help them avoid further government cuts in manpower and materièl.

“It’s never going to end while Jingoistic cretins – Fallon, the disgraced former Defence Secretary Fox and the absurd, shambling, apelike creature, Boris Johnson – are in charge of the whelk stall….”

It may be noted that Britain is not, and has not for some time been, capable of sustaining these post-colonial entanglements, but our brain-dead political class dare not admit it to a populace of Daily this-or-that readers they imagine are still infatuated with dreams of empire.

Thus, every time they pursue some pointless and inadequately planned foreign intervention, they put our soldiers’ lives unnecessarily at risk – and those of civilians back home; failing to understand the nature, either of a virtually borderless world or of asymmetrical warfare.

And then there was Afghanistan, of course, again – and the rise of the Taleban, a political and Salafist (fanatically puritanical Sunni) religious army that was created effectively by the CIA when, in its clandestine attempts to destabilise Russian control of the country in the 1970s, it had financed, armed and trained a local militia, the Mujahideen.

The Mujahideen later grew and became more radicalized, and diversified into most of the terror-sponsoring organizations we have subsequently been ‘at war’ with in the Middle East and North Africa – Indonesia, and now seemingly also in the Philippines – employing sophisticated communications technology and improvised weaponry to good advantage, and who are still indirectly being armed by the CIA with free weapons passed on by so-called ‘friendly’ militias, as we seek to impose our ‘way of life’ (neoliberal consumer capitalism) on them, and they on us (the global caliphate).

Which is to ignore, too, the drugs trade, the poppy crop, of which The Pumpkin has little knowledge but which seems also to be part and parcel of the clandestine warfare run by the CIA in the 1970s, both in Afghanistan and in Colombia; and having made the economies of those countries dependent on it, it continues unabated today.

In God we trust

As a counterbalance to radical Islam, we are beginning to see in the USA, in rightwing nationalist countries in eastern Europe and in Russia, an equivalent militant fundamentalism arising, sponsored by ultra-orthodox Christian ideologues and financed with laundered money. Given that the new administration in the White House is deeply involved with the movement, the omens do not look good.

In Egypt, the Arab Spring movement failed to cohere sufficiently to replace the ousted dictator, Mubarak. This left a vacuum into which the Muslim Brotherhood stepped, winning the popular vote in 2012. Not long afterwards, President Morsi was deposed in an army coup and the American-backed General al-Sisi seized power, apparently with the approval of the Arab Spring moderates; since when he has instituted a repressive regime that has attracted a rising level of terrorist actions by both al-Qaeda and ISIS, including the downing of a Russian civil airliner over Sinai and attacks on Coptic Christian communities.

In the meantime, the USA continues to pour billions of dollars of armaments into Egypt, whose army has become, effectively, a separate ‘state within a state’.

So then, here we are back in Syria today, a complete bloody mess that threatens the security of the entire world; a maelstrom, a vortex of violence that is sucking the Great Powers once more into the incomprehensibly diverse politics of religious and tribal schisms, set this time against the exigencies of resource depletion, global crime and climate change; driving millions of desperate refugees northwards towards the razorwire fences of Hungary, Austria and Macedonia. (Five thousand refugees having drowned in the Mediterranean already this year.)

And the only response from the West, now joined enthusiastically by the Russians, has been to bomb, and bomb, and bomb again, not wishing to get our boots dirty, pretty much regardless of whose red lines we or they are crossing, not really knowing who we are supporting, who we are opposing, who we are bombing or to what end. Innocent women and children, poor villagers are dying by the hundreds every month, blown to smithereens in air raids and unmanned drone strikes – and for what?

It would be fair to say, I think, that the USA, Britain and our allies have been making a total balls-up of our foreign policy towards the Islamic world for over a century.

Do you seriously imagine they’re not going to fight back from a position of extreme ideological opposition to everything we stand for?

So, when a Tory thug like the Defence Secretary and former expenses-eater, Michael Fallon seeks to make election-bait out of the deaths of children on British soil by attacking a pacifist opponent in Jeremy Corbyn, branding him as some kind of flakey traitor who ‘excuses’ acts of terror by pointing with total justification to our shameful record of failings in foreign policy, who ‘cannot be trusted with the nation’s security’, unlike Theresa May (on whose watch this happened!), you just know, don’t you.

It’s never going to end.

It’s never going to end while Jingoistic cretins – Fallon, the disgraced former Defence Secretary Fox, the absurd, shambling, apelike creature, ‘Bigfoot’ Boris Johnson and the Press dictator, Dacre – are in charge of the whelk stall, and have their filthy, sanctimonious lips firmly attached around the prolapsed anal sphincter of a dangerously ignorant, aberrant monster, Donald Trump; around whom, it is increasingly apparent, has coalesced a Russian spy ring inside the White House.

To deny any connection between British and American foreign policy and Islamist terrorism is just crass, self-deluding propaganda. It is as stupid as claiming British policy in Ireland from the C17th onwards, through land-grab, famine, civil war and partition, had nothing at all to do with the rise of the Provisional IRA.

Terrorists do not emerge spontaneously from holes in the mud, as in medieval times it used to be believed swallows – migratory birds – did in summer. They have a cause, in both senses of the word.

Everything is connected. As Paul Mason goes on to write:

“It is now reported that MI5 was facilitating the travel of non-jihadi British Libyans to fight in Tripoli. The minister responsible for that decision would have been May. Did she ask about the impact of the Libyan fighting on the terror threat here? That would be something the newspapers, if they did their job, would be shouting at her today, instead of hurling insults at Jeremy Corbyn.”

I mention this, not for party political advantage, nor to ‘excuse’ acts of violence, but as yet another simple illustration of the carelessness with which our politicians dispose of the lives of people elsewhere in the world while accepting no responsibility whatever for the consequences for ‘our own people’, other than to further turn the screws of surveillance, censorship and armed policing in our nation.

It really will not do.

x

The rule of law as it applies to the Conservatives

Look.

I don’t understand the first thing about social media, unless you count this, muh li’l bogl. I don’t understand much about this either, especially why I can’t single-space the text, or why the spam filter asks me if I’d like to moderate the most obviously spam messages you couldn’t wish for. And it’s not that social. Five viewings today, all day, is quite a good haul – mostly the usual old stuff.

Comex Two, Stately Home, blah.

Thus I have no social media accounts, and I automatically delete unread any responses to the Comments I compulsively make on news threads like YouTube or the Grauniad. I am so not interested in this technoshit, and care so little about what people think of my opinions that I refuse to even read what they say in reply, complimentary or otherwise.

They are mostly illiterate baboons in any case.

But if you’ve been following the alternate Pumpkin threads on this site you’ll be aware by now that there’s growing concern about surreptitious political advertising targeted directly at wavering, inadequately educated young voters identified through analysis of their computer and phone usage, that they aren’t aware they consented to.

It’s developing from the same kind of personalized nonsense that meant that, after I bought a saxophone last year, I was bombarded with microtargeted pop-ups from people wanting to sell me more saxophones. How many could I need? Or that, having been forced to sign up to the BBC iPlayer site that used to just let you watch whatever you wanted, I now get only the programmes presented to me that they expect me to watch, based on my personal data (M, 67) and the uninteresting region where I live.

Surely I can make up my own mind?

This kind of automated campaigning by clandestine botnets has been identified in the USA as a factor in the Presidential election last year, the concern being that the data analysis may have been based partly on state-authorised Russian hacking in cahoots with the Trump campaign.

US, Britain and Canada-based data analysis companies owned by rogue multi-billionaire Robert Mercer, a core Trump backer, have also been implicated, in an excellent series of articles in The Observer newspaper by Carole Cadwaladr, in having tried to influence the EU referendum in favour of Brexit, against Electoral Commission rules.

There is apparent difficulty in obtaining research data on the usage, extent and effect of these campaigns as social media such as Facebook and Twitter are opaque to outsiders. Much of what we fear about the subversive activity carried by these ‘platforms’, enabled to increase their profit, is anecdotal or based on very small samples.

This week we read the following:

“The Observer has obtained a series of Conservative party attack ads sent to voters last week in the key marginal constituency of Delyn, north Wales. Activists captured the ads using dummy Facebook accounts after finding that their own ads – encouraging young people to register to vote – were being “drowned out” by the Tory ads.”

In other words, the Tories have been running a trial campaign online of fake news against their Labour rivals in an attempt to gerrymander a constituency, despite knowing that the Electoral Commission is investigating precisely this kind of advertising, that seems on the face of it to be in flagrant breach of the rules regarding campaign funding.

This, only days after they escaped prosecution in several constituencies by the skin of their teeth, after a lower court ruling that undeclared costs involved in sending a Central Office ‘battle bus’ to support candidates in marginal constituencies did not violate local spending limits; which, of course, any reasonable juror would conclude they did.

What a shameless bunch of cunts these Tories are, aren’t they? They will stop at nothing to retain power, even stooping to make political capital out of the heightened national insecurity in the wake of the murders of 22 children, parents and a policewoman in the Manchester Arena bombing only last Monday.

Although they’re the ones in government overseeing this failure of security, they seek to make out that it is their opponents who have allowed it to happen and who cannot be trusted to ensure it does not happen again.

And if you want to see where that goes, hop over to the USA and Mr Alex Jones’ ‘InfoWars’ website, where he reports the murdered children brought the Manchester bombing on themselves because they’re ‘liberals’.

Sick sons of bitches.

Well, thanks to the bizarre attacks their manifesto has made on poorer schoolkids, struggling tenants and the frail elderly, policies that could have come straight from the Donald J Trump playbook on how to crush a loser while guzzling Belgian chocolates and whining about the difficulty of getting planning consents for golf courses, plus the obviously ‘fake news’ that they plan to bring back foxhunting, already the Tories’ poll lead has plunged from 12% to 5% in less than a week.

Good, the BogPo hopes the lousy cheating bastards, the party of asset-skimming fund managers, land-subsidy junkies and rack-renting landlords lose, and lose bigly.

DO NOT VOTE FOR THEM.

This advertisement has been paid for through years of unrewarded toil at the coalface of documentary literature by your Uncle Bogler, 67.

 

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 itself 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 its 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 identity of the perpetrator will no doubt be pieced together 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, the COBRA meetings (that must be getting a bit repetitive by now) 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, three thousand on all sides over 20 years, 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 interventions 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 equally flimsy cover of a news blackout on military affairs. But does it amount to a strategy? 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 patriarchal 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.

But yes, the element of Salafism, the religiously motivated Puritanical disdain for our soft, decadent pleasure-seeking, our lotus-eating lifestyle, which we indulge briefly in the few hours between work and work, in much the same way as Saudi wahabbists love to come to London and New York for the brothels and the casinos, that’s enough to say ‘they want to destroy our way of life’.

Which is another way of saying: they have a clear target and a cause they can use to recruit disaffected young men to attack it in pursuit of their war. It’s not such a difficult idea.

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 head; 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

 

Postscriptum

And if you want to know how prescient is The Pumpkin, JC has indeed today (26 May) made a speech attempting to explain that there is a war on, just as I said – and if you want also to know what utter cunts the Tories are, here is the text of a reply from bully-boy expenses hypocrite, Michael Fallon:

“This is a very badly timed speech, showing some very muddled and dangerous thinking (That’s two ‘verys’, Ed.). He seems to be implying that a terorrist (sic) attack in Manchester is somehow our fault, it’s somehow Britain’s fault.

“Jeremy Corbyn is far to ready to ready to (sic) find excuses and far to (sic) slow to support the police and the security services. This is a man, by the way, who has opposed every piece of terrorist legislations (sic), who thinks we should talk to terrorists, and who’s even questioned should be right to shoot to kill (What? Ed.).

“You see the contrast today between Theresa May acting in the national interest and Jeremy Corbyn confirming that he’s simply not up to the job.”

So that’s what you get in wartime Britain for merely telling the truth. Of course it’s not the sort of thing you’d put past Fallon, to make political capital out of the deaths of children. He’s the most disgusting chinless apology for a human being, isn’t he?

Fuck them. DO NOT VOTE FOR THEM.

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 demented 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?

$1bn REWARD, KILL OR CAPTURE . LAST SEEN PENNSYLVANIA AVE. DISTRICT, FRIDAY 5th MARCH.

WARNING: DO NOT APPROACH. MAY OFFER DANGEROUS OPINIONS FOR MONEY.

IF SEEN CONTACT THE NATIONAL SECURITY ADVICE SQUAD ON 0101 911911

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 ‘fucking son of a whore’, makes salty jokes about personally raping the women his soldiers have missed and 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

x

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, over-militarized 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. MSNBC’s ‘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 it 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, to say the least. He later amended the analogy to ‘Watergate’, as he has a habit of self-incrimination by subconscious blurting, but it appears he 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. When FBI director Comey 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 of course 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.

“…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.”

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 confirmed occasionally 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 sycophantic macho hunting loby 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 on 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 Kislyak; 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, advanced 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 Healthcare 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 under the 25th Amendment 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.