“I hear Disney just bought Fox News…”
“Yeah, they’re planning on remaking Fantasia…”
Walt Disney has agreed to buy the Murdoch family’s 21st Century Fox’s entertainment assets (but not Fux Knows, sadly) for a total of $52.4bn (£39bn).
See what Britain could have got for £39bn, if we weren’t paying it over to the EU for the next eight years!
“121,360 children are living in temporary accommodation – a rise of 70% since the (Conservative) party took power in 2010. Soaring private rental costs, wages freezes and benefits cuts are being blamed for the shocking increase. The children are among 79,190 households living a fragile existence in dingy rooms and B&Bs.” – Daily Mirror, 15 Dec.
“…the media has made them victims thrice over: victims of the fire, victims of society’s ills – victims of the divisive politics of the media.”
No magic money tree – unless you’re a Grenfell survivor
Please, Sir, may I have some?
That’s 79 thousand households, not numbers of people, including many children. And only the ones who were lucky enough to be housed by local authorities. Nor does it include nine thousand rough sleepers and many more ‘sofa-surfers’, or generational families in overcrowding who don’t bother applying for housing because they know they won’t get it.
About half as many households again are routinely refused accommodation on grounds disqualifying them from rising through the lengthening waiting lists. Though without a home, they are not classed as homeless, often – it is ruled – because they have moved out voluntarily, come from out of or have temporarily left the area; even if they were forced to leave. The high proportion of children in temporary accommodation is of course due to their families receiving priority.
The reasons for the homelessness of these people range from summary evictions by rent-raising landlords to mental illness and addictions, domestic violence, having been raised in care, been in prison, or discharged from the military. Let’s not leave out the ones whose benefits have been capped by the present government at a level where they can no longer pay the rent; the ones waiting vainly for weeks to get their first ‘Universal Credit’ payment; the ones waiting months and years for asylum.
Many are profoundly damaged, traumatized. Only yesterday, we were reading of a family burned out of their home, apparently in a vendetta with the neighbours, or as a result of some domestic dispute – four children died.
That’s the reality of life in Britain for so many today.
Sometimes crammed four to a room in grotty bed and breakfast hostels across the nation, these near-destitute people, many who may just have lost their insecure, low-paid jobs owing to austerity cuts imposed through no fault of their own, must all be getting pretty fed up with the victims of the Grenfell Tower fire. Some with TV sets might have been escorted last night around the brand-new, spacious, three-bedroomed show-flat featured on BBC 2’s Newsnight, lovely fitted kitchen and all (not just an elderly microwave and a can-opener) that has been acquired for £8oo thousand for one lucky Grenfell household.
Theirs seems to be a position of unique privilege, the special entitlement of a grief that was shamelessly taken up by The Guardian newspaper and others, even while the tower block was still ablaze, and exploited for political reasons, as exemplars of shameful inequality – as if the rich can’t burn to death. The BogPo has seen few people interviewed on TV having survived the Grenfell Tower fire who appear genuinely to be of the migrant underclass the media immediately assigned them to, merely because of their address (posh people owning big houses just down the road, etc.).
They became immediately symbolic of the widening gap (actually – apart from the top 1% – it’s starting to narrow) between ‘rich and poor’, the propertied and the unpropertied, of west London. Grenfell housed a generous mix of income-brackets, occupations and ethnicities, some were even buying their flats and had jobs and food. Yet the media has made them victims thrice over: victims of the fire, victims of society’s ills – victims of the divisive politics of the media.
True, there’s a problem confined mostly to our top three cities: wealthy foreign investors, many anonymously laundering ill-gotten gains, have been buying up properties, leaving them empty and pushing prices to fantastical heights.
True, too, that this and other problems on the housing front, including the extra pressures caused by immigration, regional economic disparities, low wages and divorce, are simply not being tackled by a government obsessed with delivering Brexit at any cost.
And then, while only about six per cent of the land area is built-over, many of those mostly unplanned, nineteenth-century urbanizing industrial developments still concentrate too many people in too small a space, with inadequate facilities and opportunities for employment, making for overcrowding and creating transportation bottlenecks. Housing policy in Britain has been a disaster.
But most people, I imagine, are happy not to live in the Stalinist utopia apparently advocated by well-heeled newspaper pundits wringing their manicured hands over the plight of this one, apparently uniquely deserving group of homeless people who could, like the rest of us, take at least some responsibility for their own salvation, were they not constantly being assured by the leftwing press, politicians, agitators and grandstanding lawyers that they’re entitled to demand a level of support which no-one else is.
Guilt-tripped by the media and politicians, Kensington and Chelsea council is spending £135 million acquiring many such £800 thousand properties; London is a fabulously expensive city. Yet still the survivors are complaining that the council is failing to meet their needs, not listening attentively enough to their stories, moving too slowly and showing too little empathy, while they’re still turning down the accommodation being offered to them; while the number of properties required to house them all has almost doubled as the families atomize, making the Council’s task of finding them anywhere permanent to live even more difficult.
There is just no precedent for forcing a whittled-down housing department to operate in this way. (The BogPo’s Uncle Bogler has previously written of his difficulty in getting his aged, disabled mother, stranded on the top floor of her building, rehoused in Kensington and can vouch for the inadequacy of the system he had to deal with.)
Normally when a family becomes homeless, they have no choice as to where they are put. Just anywhere there’s a space for them. How many Grenfell survivors tragically spending Christmas in a warm hotel room have already said no to a flat that’s not in a convenient part of town, or is on a higher floor than they feel safe with? How many have complained that their council-taxpayer funded hotel rooms are too far apart along the corridor?
A homeless family in Rotherham might have choked on their one-meal-a-day, food-bank dinner to hear one Grenfell survivor yesterday (it’s the sixth monthly-versary of the fire, there was a memorial service, hence the flare-up of media interest) earnestly explain that he had been living in the block with his grownup son, but they each now required separate housing and why’s the council taking so long about finding it?
The BogPo would not wish it to be thought that he is in any way minimising the trauma and grief of those former residents who lost friends and relatives, the injured for whom the incident has left an open wound, or who barely escaped the flames in time and lost everything.
He does not ignore the dispossession and the sheer inconvenience, the loss of work and school time – suffered by the denizens of the tower and their low-rise neighbours, forced to leave their homes as the common heating system was put out of action by the fire, and who don’t now wish to return because of the awful thing that happened next door and the charred stump reminding them daily of the 71 who died.
But anywhere else in Britain, refusing an offer of accommodation would count as voluntary homelessness and immediately send the applicant to the back of the queue for rehousing, whether in a brand-new £800-thousand flat in Kensington or a B&B in Oldham with a shared bathroom, mould on the walls, Spice abusers roaming the corridors and a broken lock on the door.
There is a desperate shortage of both affordable private and social housing in Britain, a crisis of thousands of families needing whatever shelter there is to be found. Why are these Grenfell people so special, when almost 80 thousand other families, many equally traumatized, are having to take whatever they are given – and it won’t be much – while as many others get nothing at all?
Perhaps it’s because of the media attention? The ‘disaster porn’ of those horrifying images?
A reminder to the authorities to get a move on
We wonder, too, why it seems to be taking forever to put up scaffolding and clad the tower in plastic; although such a powerful metaphor suggesting cover-up might not be so appropriate. The persistence on the skyline of that blackened memorial to the 71 (including 18 children) should act as a spur to the authorities to get on and heed the many warnings they’ve been given about other, similar properties in their charge, and not wait years for the inquiry findings to come out, or for another tower block to go up like a Roman candle.
Most of those senior people presumed responsible for allowing the Grenfell Tower fire to happen on their watch through cost-cutting official indifference have already quit their jobs, disappeared into the scenery. They know what they should have done, but didn’t do it.
As the public inquiry grinds ponderously into action – even that has been delayed by the endless mistrust, complaints and demands of the survivors, egged on by lawyers and local politicians – we can be sure “lessons will be learned”, and conveniently forgotten. The next Grenfell Tower fire will bring its own unique set of circumstances to be investigated all over again.
If the Grenfell Tower story is to have any meaning, any effect at all, it must surely be to force the government to improve the lot of ALL homeless families in Britain.
Sadly, that ain’t happening either.
There’s no magic money tree, other than for the already wealthy.
“Rather than ‘austerity’, I prefer the words ‘national sacrifice’.”
On the subject of society’s ills, the BogPo is reading Robert Peston’s somewhat anodyne and hastily compiled new book, “WTF”. He’s too nice!
I’m struck by his analysis that sometimes the richer a country gets, the worse-off the majority of people seem to be. And that the deterioration in our social economy is precisely parallelled by that in the USA. As if to bear this out, The Guardian carries a report today on one of the contracted-in canteen assistants at Facebook, who can barely pay the rent and feed her kids and is slipping further into debt, while feeding the well-paid workers directly employed by one of the richest companies in one of the richest regions of the richest nation in the world.
“One in four people in Silicon Valley are at risk of hunger, researchers have found. Using hundreds of community interviews and data modeling, a new study suggests that 26.8% of the population – almost 720,000 people – qualify as “food insecure” based on risk factors such as missing meals, relying on food banks or food stamps, borrowing money for food, or neglecting bills and rent in order to buy groceries. Nearly a quarter are families with children.”
Meanwhile, Facebook founder Mark Zuckerberg, who may well have appropriated the idea for his business model in the first place, he’s been accused of it, has just deposited his 74 billionth dollar in the bank and hints at his ambition to run for President (at 33!) because he wants to spread social equality and happiness around the globe.
Thanks to entrepreneurs like him, and their airy new business models, the West has become a slave society, a coolie culture; college graduates cycling hither and yon, strapped to monstrous blue boxes, paid bare minimum wage and no sick-pay or guaranteed hours to schlepp stuff out to lazy “time-poor” arses with marginally higher disposable income.
So, Zuck, you could start by forcing your contractor agencies to pay their employees properly, or even take them on as direct labor? What’s that going to cost, compared with the billions you make from purloining unsuspecting dimwits’ personal data and selling it on to the Russians? Would you even notice if you sacrificed just 5 per cent more of your profits to investing in people?
Part of the problem is, the richer the executives of the burgeoning tech corps get, the higher the local prices climb.
“…this study is putting light on the non-traditional homeless: people living in their car or a garage, working people who have to choose between rent and food, people without access to a kitchen.” – Steve Brennan, Second Harvest Food Bank
And, sickest of all, the article is part of a series on “Outside in America”, sponsored by…. Silicon Valley originals, Bill & Melinda Gates.
“…it’s not going to get better”
One book I’m not reading (but have read about) is Peter Dench’s “Britain on the Verge”.
The photographer took a car journey up Britain’s longest, and in parts oldest, highway, the A1: Roman ‘Watling Street’, but a far older Brythonic trade route connecting with prehistoric trans-European networks, capturing mundane scenes of life in the nation today.
Boarded-up Britain. (Photo: Daily Mirror)
The one thing that strikes you constantly looking at these photographs is how threadbare so much of this wealthy country seems to be, shabby people doing not very much in shabby surroundings, struggling to make the best of it. Possibly renewable housing, whole streets abandoned to the times.
Boarded-up Britain. Nothing seems to have changed since the 1970s. And with inflation at 3.1 per cent, average savings of less than £100, ever-rising housing and energy costs and wages for most stagnant or falling, despite the burgeoning of employment, jobs that bring no economic benefit to those forced into them; with expensive post-Brexit trade agreements to look forward to on ripoff terms from the USA, China, India, subordinate to their court rulings, ruled by the WTO and no let-up in non-EU immigration to cool the natives, it’s not going to get better.
A journey through the lush Thames Valley from, say, Theresa May’s Maidenhead to David Cameron’s Witney constituency might give a very different impression, though.
Some people are doing okay at our expense. Like Mr Jeff Fairburn, CEO of publicly-quoted downmarket homebuilders Persimmon, who has successfully converted taxpayer-funded government loans for first-time buyers into a £110 million “bonus” for himself this Christmas.
Rather than ‘austerity’, I prefer the words ‘national sacrifice’.
Hell hath no fury…
The BBC has announced the first appointment of a woman, Fran Unsworth, as Head of News, on £350k a year, replacing the less than dynamic James Harding, who is going off to start some kind of online service of his own. Ms Unsworth formerly headed the World Service.
For a hugely amusing read, I recommend the news report on her appointment, penned by the BBC’s media editor, Amol Rajan, which just oozes acidic disappointment, enumerating all the incredibly difficult hoops Ms Unsworth, (“who turns 60 in a fortnight … It would have been hard for her to stick around had another candidate got the job…”) will have to jump through, in her “hellish” new role.
For among the shortlisted candidates, albeit an outsider, according to Private Eye magazine, was one Amol Rajan.
“Would I give up my seat on the bus?”
They also serve…
To take everyone’s mind off the calamitous efforts of David Davis and his team of comic inadequates to battle their way out of the EU paper bag, and to defy reports that the Conservatives are still the ‘Nasty party’ (as Theresa May once dubbed them), in the wake of unspeakable cuts to working and disabled people’s welfare safety net, an array of suspiciously ‘nice’ initiatives is being dreamed up in the corridors of Whitehall and pushed out to a media and a voting public desperate for some Christmas cheer.
Not only has the ambitious Environment Secretary, the speccy little swot Michael Gove, announced half a dozen heartwarming new measures he wants to pass, obliging us all to be kinder to fish and other animals before we slaughter them; now, the brattish new Defence Secretary, the previously unheard-of Gavin Williamson, already being spoken of as our next Prime Minister, who fatuously proposes, Trump-like, casually to murder any British citizen thinking of returning from Syria rather than waste time on due process, knowing that true Brits care not a fig for the international laws we’re signed up to, has suggested adding the letter ‘V’ to the driving licenses of British forces veterans, as a mark of respect for their great sacrifice in the national interest.
Sorry ma’am, you’ll have to move – we’re v-veterans. (photo: Huffington Post)
The designation to come into effect, ooh, sometime possibly in the next decade, pick a year, after lengthy consultations with the licensing authority and 58 feasibility impact studies, should entitle the vets to special recognition: discounts on stuff, seats on public transport, cinema tickets, air miles – more considerate treatment than the rest of us expect from the police (regardless of color), immigration officials, JobCentres and the health services.
Anyone who imagines this is not just a PR stunt dreamed up in the cabinet office by Conservative interns desperate to re-engage with the disillusioned readership of the Daily Mail after the disaster of the last election and the unfolding horror of the failing hard Brexit elderly readers once dreamed of is living in another universe.
While no-one is disparaging the sterling work and the bravery and cameraderie of our soldiers, sailors and airmen and women, often in pointless and futile wars, nevertheless I should possibly mention that the laziest, most duplicitous, useless and cowardly man I ever met was serving out his cushy number until he claimed his officer’s pension at taxpayers’ expense as the fundraising director (appointed on Buggins’ Turn) of a services charity, after a career spent far from the frontline bravely managing a military stores unit.
I won’t go into why I developed this impression of him, I will merely pose the question: Does this royal asshole deserve a ‘V’ on his license, merely by ‘v’irtue of having spent 40 years probably selling stuff illicitly under the counter while pushing a bunch of badly-fitting uniforms, boots and other kit over it? And then funking the opportunity to raise a very large sum of money for the welfare of service veterans because as an outside agency we were being so successful (where he wasn’t) that to raise any more “would make too much work” for his volunteers?
I feel sure there must be many, many veterans of the services who have never done (perhaps never been given the opportunity to do) a single brave or difficult or self-sacrificing thing in their entire careers; never even got their boots wet. Fine, they joined up, did a bit, whatever. “They also serve, who only stand and wait” (Milton, on His Blindness). Would I give up my seat on the bus for them? Do you really want them passing themselves off as one of you?
I’m sure the stuff combat veterans are so clearly made of would see them through without this fawning treatment from politicians desperate to plaster themselves with the reflex public approval and Jingoistic tabloid newspaper cliches reserved for ‘our heroes’ in the military.
Maybe getting a grip on defense procurement and budgets so that our serving forces aren’t continually let down by malfunctioning equipment, inadequate back-up services and undermanning – a leaking £3 billion aircraft carrier with no aircraft – would be a better use of the minister’s time, rather than cheap gesture politics?
GW: basting the Xmas turkey in her wellies
“The risk of climate change is clear and the risk warrants action. Increasing carbon emissions in the atmosphere are having a warming effect. There is a broad scientific and policy consensus that action must be taken…” – Exxon-Mobil website
Now fuck off, you deniers. It’s over. Okay?
Australia: monster hailstones, some 6-in. across, precipitate over Grafton, New South Wales, continuing a summer-long tendency towards extreme hailstorms seen from Turkey to South America. And a years-long tradition of hailstorms at Grafton, it seems, where in 2015 a racehorse at the local track had to be euthanased after being startled by hailstones and trying to negotiate a gate in panic. To reassure readers who may have feared global cooling had arrived, temperatures up in the top left corner of the big island – the northwest – are back up in the 100s F.
Severe thunderstorms, strong cyclonic winds, 100 mm rain per hour and “thousands” of lightning strikes batter SE Queensland around Brisbane (10 Dec), causing widespread damage.
Italy: “The River Enza in the town of Lentigione burst its banks on Tuesday 12 December, forcing hundreds of residents to evacuate. Severe weather including snow, rain and freezing temperatures has affected much of Italy since Monday. Schools have been closed and road, rail and air travel all adversely affected. … Local security assessor Paola Gazzolo said: ‘We are in the presence of floods of historical significance.'” The county of Emilia Romagna was severely affected by flooding. Further north, heavy snow (up to 3 ft in places) has caused major disruption.
Red storm warnings were out for SE France, in the Grenoble area as Storm Ana moved eastwards.
Thomas: by 15 Dec. the third largest fire in Cal. history.
USA: “As of Monday morning, CalFire reported that the Thomas fire had consumed 230,000 acres and at least 790 structures, making it the fifth largest and tenth most destructive wildfire in (California) state history. … none of the previous top 20 fires in terms of acreage occurred any later than October—much less in December, well beyond the typical tail end of wildfire season. It’s entirely possible this fire will burn till Christmas and beyond, and not out of the question it will roll past the Cedar Fire of 2003 (273,246 acres) to become California’s largest fire on record.”
Meanwhile the entire east coast of the US is locked-in from Florida to Maine with feet of snow and subzero temperatures.
Meanwhile… in Alaska, “The National Weather Service thermometer at Juneau International Airport on Friday hit 54 deg. F, tying the highest temperature recorded in December there, the Juneau Empire reported. It was warmer Friday in Juneau than it was in Houston Tx, Jacksonville, Fla or Monterrey, Mexico.”
Chile: “Heavy rain triggered a major landslide on 16 December leaving at least 5 dead, 18 missing and 12 injured. The landslide occurred in the town of Villa Santa Lucia in Chaitén commune, Los Lagos Region. Over 200 personnel from fire, police, military and civil defence are working in the area, searching for survivors.”
Philippines: 27 people have been killed as “Remnant Tropical Cyclone Kai-Tek (Urduja) passed over the islands Friday (15/16 Dec) at 2 knots before dissipating over colder waters. Several towns, including Calbiga, Samar province were left underwater. As of 18 Dec., over 230,000 people had evacuated their homes with 190,247 housed in evacuation centres, and a further 46,081 displaced.” NASA satellite data showed rainfall of up to 5.6 inches PER HOUR. “Several of the powerful storms in the area were found by GPM’s radar to reach altitudes greater than 16 km (9.92 miles).”
Indonesia: capital Jakarta yet again underwater (11 Dec).
S Africa: 50 injured and many very expensive-looking homes destroyed when a huge tornado struck Vaal Marina, in Midvaal.
Malawi: “At least 6 people have died in flooding that struck areas of Lilongwe District in the Central Region late on 16 December, 2017. According to a statement by the Government of Malawi, over 1,000 people from 200 households were affected by the floods. Two people have been reported injured.”
Arctic: temperature anomalies persist well above the past 50-year mean to 2002. Ice extent, volume, thickness third/second lowest on record after 2012. Ahlstrom, Peterson et al (GEUS) report that a sudden and unprecedented acceleration in melt runoff from the SW Greenland ice sheet is affecting the atmospheric temperature gradient at the Arctic circle.
Independent/ Floodlist/ Wunderground/ Accuweather/ EurekAlert/ US News/ Climate & Extreme Weather News #86, citing Metro TV News (Indonesia); credit Katrina Finnson/9 News
Veteran Yellowstone watcher, Mary Greeley broadcast a curious discovery yesterday (12 Dec.) about the official monitoring services. Not only were the usual small earthquakes and other grumblings being captured on some USGS seismographs but not on others nearby, and many quakes not being reported at all (you get this info from other international monitoring organizations), but the University of Utah monitors were apparently logging data on the seismograph sheets about 2 hours in advance of the actual time of day.
Are they faking the feeds, using old data sheets? Or, as Mary wonders, have they learned to predict earthquakes now? (blogger, ‘Dutchsinse’ – Michael Janitch of St Louis – has a better than 80 per cent record of doing just that, for both location and magnitude.) Or, as the BogPo suspects (and hopes), the paper rolls have slipped, the time-logging printer forgot it wasn’t summer time, or the pens have got somehow bent. All of them.
We should be told.
(PS – the earthquake swarm at Yellowstone and the much less usual swarms around Lincoln in neighbouring Montana and Soda Springs in Idaho have now been going on since 12th June, six months, with thousands of tremors and small quakes recorded up to M4.2.
Swarms are normal, but not over such a long period, over such a wide area and in such numbers. Greeley insists the data are clearly showing that the magma chamber is recharging from several sources over hundreds of miles. (NASA reported recently that the volume of magma would fill the Grand Canyon seven times over…) Many more conspiratorial bloggers are also reporting mysterious long-wave tremors, strange noises, volcanic gas escapes and huge bursts of energy showing up on ground and satellite monitors over a thousand-mile radius of the supervolcano. The fear is, it’s bigger than anyone thought.
If this thing blows on Christmas Day, I’ll eat my Atheists for Jesus T-shirt… principally because there may be nothing else to eat!)
“What day is this, boy? What day of the year is it?” (Scrooge: A Christmas Carol)
I just discovered the following, previously unPosted article saved as a Draft on 08 October last. Has anything changed since then? We seem to be living the same day over and over again.
“…if that results in sending the entire country and its millions of hapless civilians who want nothing to do with it back to the Stone Age, well, that’s freedom and democracy for you.”
They just don’t care who they kill, do they
This is a note to remind everyone who hasn’t already grasped it, that the USA is possibly the most malign force in history.
Not only is it now led by a career criminal, the very embodiment of the worst of its voracious greed, pig-ignorance, frontier violence, racism, bigotry and bogus high-minded patriotism, but it continues on its merry way, failing to distinguish friend from foe, simply hoping to bomb and blast its way to success with indiscriminate use of force as the hatred of the people around the world towards it grows.
If anyone over there thinks we are laughing over here at a USA reeling under the childishly inept, divisive, lying and vindictive Trump regime, its corrupt, pantomime-villain placemen and its out of control law enforcement, a bunch of gun-toting, flag-worshipping, militaristic boobies, I’m sorry to disillusion you. You’re not funny, you’re not yet pitiable, nor even deplorable. You’re lost somewhere between repugnant and morally bankrupt.
This week we have been reminded in several ways of your frontier justice, your instinctive, undiscriminating barbarity, your unremitting stupidity. The Republican voters of Alabama have chosen to run for Congress, a 70-year-old pork-barrel politician, a rabid Christian fundamentalist who pretends to be a cowboy, riding a horse to the polls and waving a pistol*.
It seems then that even Mr Trump and his shit-on-you philosophy is not enough for the voters of Alabama. No, they want someone even more loathsome, vicious, hogswill ignorant and moronic to represent them on the world stage. Someone supported, for instance, by Steve Bannon.
And then there is the conflict in the Middle East, into which your Commander-in-Chief has pitched US forces with no better policy in mind than simply to bomb a ‘terrorist’ organization out of existence, keeping Americans safe on the streets of Duluth, and if that results in sending an entire country and its millions of helpless serfs who want nothing to do with it back to the Stone Age, well, that’s freedom and democracy for you.
Ken Burns’ documentary series, ‘Vietnam’ reminds us that America has never managed to do foreign policy very well.
There were two schools of thought in 1960: one, resist the onward march of Communistic nationalism at all costs by obliterating the entire population of the north, while supporting the murderous and corrupt Diem regime in Saigon; or two, support the people’s legitimate demands for freedom and independence from the notoriously reactive French colonials by assassinating Diem, his psychotic brother Dinh, and installing a puppet government friendly to the USA.
One of the many good reasons why someone like Vice-President Lyndon B Johnson might have wanted to bump off President Kennedy was his tentative support for the latter course: having opposed it, he was killed within days of the overthrow of Diem and his appalling wife, ‘Madame Nu’ – who was happily abroad on a shopping trip and thus survived the coup, and at the instigation of Henry Kissinger America massively ramped up its presence in Vietnam to ‘protect’ the good people against the bad guys, whichever side they were on.
Cowboy matinée diplomacy prevailed.
Between the two conflicting strategies, with a manic belief in success as measured by body-count/dollar and not (as might have been more sensible) in the growing hatred towards them of the ordinary people of both north and south, in intervening in support of the failing French instead of working with the local culture in seeking consensus, America managed to get trapped in a vicious postcolonial war against an implacable and largely invisible jungle enemy that ultimately cost it 58 thousand young servicemen and women’s lives; although not that of the unabashed draft-dodger, Trump, whose gung-ho militaristic patriotic pieties must surely stick in the craw of every veteran and decent human being watching this series.
Estimates of the civilian casualties of Macnamara’s and Kissinger’s failed policies in SE Asia between 1961 and 1974 run from two to three million human lives. Has no-one the slightest idea of the destructive power of the United States, its corrupt, murderous black heart?
As the last helicopters hauled the remaining US diplomats and military ‘advisors’ and corrupt local officials out of Saigon, the streets filling behind them with small but determined, Kalashnikov-toting men and women in black pajamas and flip-flop sandals cut from rubber tires, it must surely have occurred to someone, even the bullnosed, crop-headed, flag-salutin’ dinosaurs in the Pentagon, that you can’t win an asymmetrical war by turning your allies against yourself.
And yet here we are, still in Afghanistan, seemingly forever.
The lesson should have been, but wasn’t, learned 20 years earlier on the Korean peninsula, when it’s estimated the Americans killed one in five of the civilian population of the North, basically just peasants in wooden houses, women and children, under a massive aerial bombardment lasting for months, that used up 120 per cent of all the munitions expended on both the German and the Japanese in World War Two – except, of course, for the two A-bombs. And still they couldn’t win the war against Communism, which ground to a halt with an armistice that remains at the core of the problem today.
And now Mr Trump is threatening to complete the mission, to remedy the nuclear deficit and kill 100 per cent of the population of the North, and probably a very high percentage of the people of South Korea and Japan, southeast China, US allies, and US troops along with them, because his opposite number, the braggadocious and youthful but calculating and shrewd Kim Jong-un, has built his own A-bomb and taunts the US with insults the spoilt child Trump can’t rise above replying to with yet more (hopefully empty) threats to commit a genocidal war crime against a peasant population weakened by hunger and privations.
Anyone not an American can see, it is not an ideal situation but scarcely worth the kind of embarrassing exchange of playground ya-boos and threats we are witnessing between a 70-year-old bloviating ignoramus refusing to listen to wiser counsel, and a cunning little psychopath desperate to burnish his domestic image and reinforce his power base by reminding his people and the world of the genocidal depths America can sink to in pursuit of its muddled policy objectives.
Meanwhile in Raqqa, Syria, despairing survivors are watching on in horror as the American airforce daily reduces their city to uninhabitable rubble, in an ideologically motivated display of brutal and indiscriminate force against perhaps just 400 remaining ISIS fighters holding thousands of civilians hostage; heedless of the lives of the hostages: a kind of Waco on steroids. Casualties said to be in the ‘low hundreds’ (Britain has flown 1,500 sorties against ISIS positions and does not accept responsibility for even one civilian death, so precise are our precision-guided munitions) will in the course of time no doubt turn into thousands.
Mr Trump has reportedly again given US forces carte blanche to do whatever it takes; which means the deaths of many more ‘beautiful babies’ and others whose lives the shitocrat Trump sets at nought, as he pursues his amoral, selfish ‘America First’ policies (which essentially reduces to ‘my dumbfuck supporters and my bank balance first’, while – beyond their limited ability to know what is going on – he continues to machinate against them with his bestial tax breaks for the wealthiest because they are poor and losers) and to hell with the human race.
They just don’t care who they kill, these Americans, to impose freedom on the rest.
I hate to agree with Mr Kim, but they will surely one day answer to history.
*Roy Moore, a retired hanging judge. Mr Trump is now supporting Mr Moore in the Senate race, a senile Evangelical rectitudinarian as unhinged as he is, despite – or perhaps because of – numerous accusations of sexual impropriety, some with underage girls.
Birds of a feather, as they say.
One internet news channel of fairly predictable reliability is carrying a story today, that Moore’s former army buddy gave a speech at which he let slip they’d visited a child brothel together in Saigon… but no matter, for the better news is that he’s lost the Alabama Senate race by a disputed but clear margin to an apparently normal man, a lawyer with a successful history of prosecuting race-hate crimes, despite securing a 53 per cent majority among white WOMEN.
Given that middle-class white women also voted pretty solidly for Trump, another alleged and entirely unproven rapist, wife-beater and self-confessed pussy-grabber, questions arise.
Do they not?