Would you vote for me, America, if…?

“I assume she also knew that the State Department’s internet is almost certainly compromised, by the NSA if not by the Russians and the Chinese; if not by them, then by some Asperger’s kid in a bedroom somewhere in England.”

 

Not guilty

I know that most Americans are hardworking, painstaking, inventive, sometimes painfully honest, serious, hospitable and decent folks.

But you’ve got a problem.

To declare an interest, my paternal grandmother was American, from the now somewhat financially dubious state of Delaware. She put me through private schools – my parents were indigent actors and soon separated – and set me on the road to property ownership, in a tiny Victorian labourer’s cottage in suburban West London.

After that, much to my regret as my own life took over she somewhat fades from view.

Although she died in 1979, I have continued throughout my life – I’m 67, and once again living in a tiny Victorian labourer’s cottage (not in London, they’re over £1 million now!) – to sense that somehow, she sits on the Committee of Discarnate Entities that I fancy continues to guide my affairs; partly because, somewhere in the background, is a Trust account in the USA that has from time to time made it possible for me and my family to survive when all else failed. She was a great believer in the power of capital.

So I’m hoping you will understand if I invite myself to express my alarm and despondency over the current political situation in the USA. Because I’m nobody, really, and it’s none of my business; except that I might be more aware of how people on this side of the Atlantic are thinking, if you’re interested; and I hope a little more seriously perhaps than the smug Saturday Night Live crowd.

We don’t quite get the nub of the problem Mrs Clinton has with emails, and why you think it’s so bad?

It doesn’t sound all that serious. We’ve all mixed our work email up with our private email from time to time. You’re sitting at your desk, the computer is on, you’ve spotted something you’d like to buy online, maybe you have a personal relationship with a work colleague elsewhere and want to set up a meet for a drink in a bar that isn’t strictly work related; you have to send someone an urgent message, a quick Amazon voucher will do for a late birthday present, or there’s a juicy job opening, and before you know it, you’ve hit the Send key.

I know, I’ve been fired for doing it! Only it was the other way around, I sent an email from my home computer relating to my miseries about my work, it went wrong, you know how it is, you complain to someone that you’re the worst paid whatever in the whole country and before you know it, it’s in print and you’re being hung out to dry. One British Brexit politician recently was in a meeting when an assistant he’d been having an affair with walked in, he sent her a covert text under the table, only to wonder why the entire room was laughing – he’d accidentally sent it to the workgroup list. It can happen to anyone.

Mrs Clinton held the highest office of State after the President. If she wanted to use her private server to send work emails, rather than the State Department’s internal server, surely that’s her privilege? She was the boss! She’s definitely not stupid, I assume she had her reasons (what business did the FBI have to tut-tut about carelessness? Did she work for them, or was it the other way around?) and I assume she also knew that the State Department’s internet is almost certainly compromised, by the NSA if not by the Russians and the Chinese; if not by them, then by some Asperger’s kid in a bedroom somewhere in England.

In fact, it is highly likely that Yahoo! is the more secure environment. You should ask Edward Snowden.

And you don’t know, do you, how ‘Top Secret’ those files really were. All kinds of stuff gets Classified in that closed culture of intense suspicion and paranoid crazy security. Between the arrangements for Chelsea’s baby shower, it could have been the stationery manifest, internal staff assessments or the budget for consultants. Because it’s Classified, no-one is going to tell you how serious it really was.

It does seem unlikely though that she would have been deliberately emailing vital military secrets to North Korea. No-one has accused her of that, although it’s what Trump would love you to think.

To claim, as Donald Trump has done, that her fulfilment of her duties as Secretary was actually ‘criminal’ is just a gross calumny, crude propaganda and unworthy of consideration. How would he know what the rules are, has he ever been employed in the State Department? Or in any Government office? (Has he ever been employed, full stop?) He knows nothing about it! Worse than Watergate? Come on! The hacking of the DPC was the digital equivalent of Watergate, an electronic break-in to steal information, and who instigated that, we wonder? Donald’s friend Mr P?

It certainly isn’t worse than stealing money from your own tax-exempt charity foundation to cover tens of thousands of dollars’ worth of personal expenses while you’re paying no tax on your actual income, is it? I mean, that could get you two years. The Canadian millionaire press baron, Conrad (‘Lord’!) Black went down for something similar. How come the FBI is on Hillary’s case, but only the Attorney General of New York is taking any notice of Trump’s possibly actual criminal activity?

I doubt there’s a State or a Federal law against using your private email to send business files. At worst, it’s a matter of company policy. There are however, laws against mixing-up your private and company money; even for a genius who ‘knows more about complicated tax than anyone’ else (except the creative accountants he employs, the big liar). It seems at least worth considering that FBI director Comey has a personal, political and financial agenda to explain his tendentious letter to the Congressional committee chairs, and that there is, indeed, smoke without fire.

Is it okay to con people out of $000s to send them worthless bits of paper awarding them phoney and uncertified degrees in Real Estate management? Is it okay to make a $25,000 ‘donation’ out of charity funds, apparently to buy off an investigation by the Attorney General of Florida, into your ‘University’ scam? No, not when the donation was made to a self-declared political organisation it’s not. That’s illegal; worse, indeed, than the crimes of Ted Bundy and Charles Manson rolled into one orgy of hideous violence. (Well, we’re in the business of overblown comparisons, no?)

And has Hillary talked a lot of horse manure about Muslims and Mexicans? In order to fund Trump’s wacko policies on immigration it is going to need at least double the amount of Federal budgeting to pay for interference by Government employees, somewhat at odds with his compelling claim to want to shrink the State.

Nothing this man has said in ten months appears to have been seriously questioned, yet to us outside America – and I confess, I’m not one of the Disappointed Ones who dreams of returning to a happier time when I could work down a mine and be free to contract silicosis, or in a steelworks and end my days cheerfully falling into a blast furnace, with no compensation for the wife and kids while my employers laugh all the way to Panama – to us, it seems inexplicable that anyone could take this solipsistic, ignorant, overbearing jerk seriously as the potential Commander-in-Chief of an army he did so much to avoid serving in.

The reason Trump’s policies and principles are not being more closely examined by the party that adopted him, like a monstrous cuckoo in their nest, is, of course, because he hasn’t really thought about them himself. As Sam Harris, your public intellectual, has shrewdly pointed out, if Trump genuinely had any depth, empathy or intelligence, even if he didn’t want anyone to know it he would surely have let something slip by now. But he hasn’t. What a player!

Do you reckon, if I got up on stage and lied loudly enough that I was the most successful businessman in the history of ever, and claimed that I could make America ‘great again’, whatever that means; if I threatened that if Hillary Clinton gets elected:

a) I will not accept the result and will take everyone involved to court, because:

b) the election was rigged

c) she will start World War Three,

d) take away your guns, and

e) America will be destroyed…. (something a lot of you seem to be looking forward to with rapture – you need to know, He’s not coming back)

…if I said I could instantly:

…solve the IS problem in the Middle East, end all that terrorism we so rarely experience; unpick all those unfair free trade deals overnight;  stop the drug trafficking; defy progress to find a job for every unemployable blue-collar worker (okay, true, we are going to need 120,000 extra security people to round up 12 million Mexicans, and 200,000 more bus drivers, but that’s only short-term work); build a 2,000-mile-long wall five metres high and force another sovereign state to pay for it; abrogate the US’s commitment to the Paris accord on climate change targets; walk away from our allies in NATO unless they pay us to defend the free world; do deals with Kim Jong-un and my fellow kleptocrat Vladimir Putin; impose trade barriers and sanctions on the Chinese, expand the army (while reducing our overseas commitments and the deficit)….

…and a hundred-and-one other crazy egoistical self-contradicting nonsenses, such as that I can fuck any woman I want (although he had to buy his migrant wives off the shelf)….

…that I could persuade enough people to vote for me?

What, although it’s perfectly obvious that even a complete Washington outsider still has to work with the existing machinery of government to run a big, complex, multifaceted enterprise like the entire USA and its global responsibilities? That even the great entrepreneur can’t do that on his own, just by turning red in the face and shouting at people that they’re fired? After commenting loudly on their hot rack?

So, the Bundy Brothers/Malheur Wildlife Refuge fantasy of enjoying well-armed freedom from Big Government and the run of the wide open spaces actually can’t and won’t happen even under Trump. Not possible. You do know that, don’t you? That somebody has to pay for and run the schools, the transportation networks, the National Guard, the CIA, the regulatory environment – healthcare?

And what if I were also recorded as fantasising about raping women with dear, lovely Billy Bush? Nasty, nasty women who’d tell horrible, horrible lies about me afterwards? And what if I claimed that President Obama is a Kenyan-born Muslim who created the IS – but I couldn’t produce an actual certificate stating that I am not clinically insane; just the fleeting impression that I might be?

Assuming I’d been born in the USA, which I wasn’t, sadly, and after 70 years on earth was still just one giant, spoiled, incontinent infant, would you still vote for me?

So that’s the problem. I don’t envy you your choices, but we all over here fervently hope you’ll realise in good time that whatever you think of her, Mrs Clinton has at least read the instructions on the pack. Or if you really have to vote Trump, you’ll put all the Democrats back in Congress.

We’re counting on you. Seriously, America, the world is counting on you.

Please don’t do stupid just because you are angry. We’re all angry, we’re just not suicidal yet.

 

Quote of the Week: the editor of a rightwing Republican newspaper in New Hampshire, who once interviewed Trump: ‘He sucks the air right out of the room’.

 

Brexwatch

Bought in Morrison’s, Boglington-on-Sea, Sunday 30 October

  • 1 x box of 12 moist catfood sachets
  • 1 x 540g pack of  ox-heart (dogfood)
  • 1 x 310g pack of smoked haddock
  • 2 x Kit-kat chocolate wafer bars
  • 1 x 5p carrier bag

= £11.42 (USD $13.92)

(The Bank of England has warned that inflation could rise to 4% in 2017.)

 

Thin-skinned impressions

Poor Joni Mitchell, who isn’t well, is having to suffer the indignity of being blackrolled as some kind of racist misappropriator of wounded minority culture.

It seems she dared to go to a fancy-dress music-biz party in LA sometime back in the nineteenth century, disguised as a pimp. A black pimp. In blackface, complete with shiny suit, Afro wig, sunglasses, fedora hat and 1970s droopy moustache. She got away with it for two hours, before someone asked her if she’d been invited?

The joke was adjudged a great success. The pallid Canadian blonde singer-songwriter had many black friends, musicians; admired black American music; took to singing jazz. Few found the personation offensive – then.

It was a joke everyone could share. Unkind to pimps?

And only now, it seems, has a photograph surfaced, to promote somebody or other’s book.

And black people are muttering darkly.

This is nowadays the kind of thing you daren’t even hint might have been humorous at the time. It could be humorous today, but you’re not allowed to try it out for size.  So, where does ‘cultural appropriation’ stop – is the colour of your skin a cultural statement, or an accidental medical one brought about by parallel evolution and a dose of melanin?

The ‘pimp’ character was based on a real-life observation of a man she saw in the street. She christened him ‘Art Nouveau’, and ‘he’  featured on one of her album covers. No-one guessed he was a she. So he was a fictional creation based on real life: satire, and tribute. He was already, if you’ll forgive me saying, a stereotype: the sharp-suited, sharp-talking, streetwise runner of prostitutes; a literary creation out of Damon Runyon.

So, I’m in this pantomime, and I’m going to be dressed in C19th garb as a pirate. No pirates need Comment here on the misappropriation of their cultural identity, even though I’m not Somali – I won’t be blacking-up; I already grew the beard. I might adopt a mode of dress more appropriate for another culture: I could wear espadrilles in public, a poncho or a Homburg hat.

Meanwhile all over the country people are pretending to be what they’re not. Actors are appearing on stage pretending to be other people. Mimics on TV are impersonating politicians and stereotypical characters (only of their own colour, naturally). Men are dressing as women, women as men. People are giving themselves aliases on their social networking sites; grown men pretending to be teenagers. Is that policeman really a policeman? You can’t tell by the uniform, she might be a strippagram.

Why is it okay to humorously take the piss out of one type of person but not another?* What’s so special about you, that no-one outside your own tribe has a right to observe you critically, to make an interpretation, however innocently?

That man who sometimes nearly runs me over on his mobility scooter in the park – I’ve seen him walking around; just like the drivers of cars with disabled badges can be seen hopping in and out of their Range Rovers in car parks. Are you married? Then you’ll know how it is, sometimes having to pretend to be someone your spouse wants you to be, but you’re really not that person at all.

Who are we? Increasingly, it seems, we are whoever we want to be. Other than anyone with a massive inferiority complex, who objects to ‘us’ being possibly mistaken for ‘them’; who finds even our curiosity patronising.

Don’t you find us funny? Probably not. I wouldn’t mind if you did, but that’s because I’m essentially superior. I can afford it.

It seems the only thing you’re not allowed to pretend to be, for whatever reason you might want or need to, is a person of a different ‘race’ or ‘religion’ – because of their long-held victim status, in which they have vested all their personal power.

Forgive me if I find this attitude somewhat offensive, patronising and idiotic.

Of course, there is no reason or excuse for taking a white actor and blacking him or her up, to play the part of a black man in a play, when there are black actors who should take the role. Unless there is a reason: maybe, it’s a white character who needs to black up for disguise, maybe it’s crucial to the plot.  Could Hollywood ever reprise the Al Jolson Story? Would he have to be a Jewish actor to start with? Would they have to substitute Forest Whitaker for the blackface scenes? Didn’t Dick Gregory once have to white-up in a movie? Did we whiteys cry Freedom?

Is banning anyone from ever knowing about Jolson again not some kind of cultural misprision? And where are we left with Othello, the Moor of Venice? Can we never again admire Olivier’s mesmerising performance? Why is making your face up black in order to represent someone you’re not  so much more terrible than putting on a false nose, a mustache and glasses? A Guy Fawkes, or a clown mask? How about Gerard Depardieu’s nose in Cyrano de Bergerac? On behalf of all people suffering discrimination with big noses, I object!

Nor is some kind of cruel impersonation of a human being as inferior or backward for supposedly ‘comic’ effect a good idea, any more than is imposing hard boundaries on cultural miscegenation for discredited racialist reasons. (I exempt Donald Trump from any pity.) Although we might not have had Dustin Hoffman’s performance in Rain Man to judge whether it’s worthwhile having someone pretend to be autistic to make a point in favour of autistic people everywhere.

But so often these wounded accusations of cultural ‘misappropriation’ come close to caricature themselves. Can white men sing the blues? Where are the lines to be drawn between safe cross-cultural borrowing and non-valid misappropriation? Why does fancy-dress have limits; the point of carnival being that it shouldn’t, it’s a time for transgression? Why were only black people ever ‘slaves’?

Do black people own the colour black? It’s bad enough that you misappropriate elements of ‘our’ language and culture! Surely, those are ‘my’ European clothes you’re dressed in? That’s ‘my’ car you’re driving! You’re watching ‘my’ TV, flying on ‘my’ planes, living in ‘my’ brick house, reading ‘my’ newspaper, going to ‘my’ office! Those are all the white man’s things, you didn’t invent them!

No, you must see how idiotically self-defeating this idea of ownership of cultural identity can become.

Do you own, for instance, a musical genre you can conceivably define as ‘black’, rather than universally ‘human’? (In which case, you may detect echoes of West African rhythms in modern Delta blues and wonder if black Americans aren’t in some sense exploiting black Africans.) Should black musicians be banned from playing Beethoven, should Richie Havens have been producing his magnificent covers of the Beatles’ songs?

Or are there not perhaps many shades inbetween? It’s all rather sad, to a Humanist.

How ironic, that in an increasingly confrontational, binary world, the best-selling book of the last 10 years has been ’50 Shades of Grey’!

 

*No, this is the living end! US actress Hilary Duff  (Who she? Ed.) and her friend have been forced to grovel and apologise for going to a fancy dress party, she as a Puritan ‘Pilgrim Father’ in fishnets below the waist (quite a good joke, actually), he as a red indian in a war bonnet.

How dare they misappropriate whoever, whatever in this disgraceful, culturally shocking fancy-dress way?

I’m deeply offended. No, really. It’s Halloween. And if any kid turns up trick-or-treating on my doorstep tonight culturally misappropriating my identity as a self-proclaimed persecuted wizard, I’ll smash its hopeful little painted face with my big, offended fist.

Fancy dress must be banned forthwith. Actors, too. I’m writing Trump, tell him put it on the list.

 

Erasing bias from history

Americans have a peculiarly robust, not to say forceful, approach to life, consumer choice and everything, don’t they? You can include how Microsft will hijack your computer from time to time to forcibly install its damaging software without even asking; and how the Guantanamo prisoners are treated without benefit of the Geneva conventions or judicial process.

Take the following notice I’ve just had from sofa-surfin’ website, Airbnb (don’t ask, btw, I didn’t complete the application to join):

“Earlier this year, we launched a comprehensive effort to fight bias and discrimination in the Airbnb community. As a result of this effort, we’re asking everyone to agree to a Community Commitment beginning November 1, 2016. Agreeing to this commitment will affect your use of Airbnb, so we wanted to give you a heads up about it.

“You commit to treat everyone—regardless of race, religion, national origin, ethnicity, disability, sex, gender identity, sexual orientation or age—with respect, and without judgement or bias.

“What if I decline the commitment?

“If you decline the commitment, you won’t be able to host or book using Airbnb, and you have the option to cancel your account. Once your account is cancelled, future booked trips will be cancelled. You will still be able to browse Airbnb but you won’t be able to book any reservations or host any guests.”

That’s tellin’ em! And no fuckin’ fancy dress or you’re a dead couple.

 

Boomtime

Okay, I made a joke in a whileago Post about terrorists not being stupid enough to take a hand-grenade on board the Eurostar – this after seeing a large sign at Lille station showing pictures of things you weren’t supposed to take on board the train, including the said exploding device, with a red line ruled through it to indicate the official displeasure you might easily assume would be shown towards you if you tried.

And this morning, two Eurostar services have been held up at Paris’ Gare du Nord while bomb disposal experts dealt with a WW2 artillery shell someone tried to bring back as a souvenir of France.

I know, I have trouble understanding those wordless pictograms you get with your flatpack furniture kits myself.

 

 

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With a dagger between his teeth: Faith in the pulpits of inanity and other stories

Keep calm and carry on Moaning

From our Business Editor, ©2016 Sterling Pound @longliquidlunch

“Voting for sovereignty was all very well, but the question is: at what price? What if there is a 5%, or even 10%, or a not inconceivable 20% drop in living standards? Then sovereignty doesn’t look so great.” – ‘Danny’ Blanchflower, former Bank of England economist, on news that the pound was trading at $1.21, 33c lower than on 22 June.

As I have been bogling until I am tuppence-coloured, we have less sovereignty now than before 23 June.

No more sovereignty, albeit shared, over European affairs; no sovereignty in Parliament – that’s been usurped in the St Theresa’s Day coup – and less sovereignty, as Blanchflower points out, over our daily lives as we ride on the coattails of fleeing global markets down towards Sterling’s inevitable parity with the Azerbaijani New Manat.

That’s patriotism for you.

I’m not sure even ‘demented fuckwits’ begins to summarise my view of the deluded millions of embittered early-onset Alzheimers who voted without an inkling of the arguments and the possible consequences of their poorly considered decision, yet who now defensively insult better informed critics like myself as ‘Bremoaners’, traitors who can’t bear the idea of Britain’s greatness rising once more in racial purity above the waves. Stupid word.

We did notice, ‘Breleavers’ had a nasty habit before the referendum of simply howling down anyone who spoke in favour of commonsense policy;  now they’re at it again. You haven’t got an argument, you haven’t done the research, you don’t understand the issues, but you’re vindicated by your emotional responses, so just challenge our right to speak better sense with a helpful cry of ‘Moaner!’.

That’s the democratic way: ‘cut off her mic!’

And actually, I cannot be a ‘Bremoaner’ by definition, because I have said and written nothing since the referendum that I was not saying or writing at least three years before (see Post, 11 May 2013, for instance). I said you were an ill-assorted bunch of curtain-twitching xenophobes, disappointed working-class Tories and delusional Empire loyalists led astray by neo-Thatcherite plotters, certifiable loonies like Peter Bone and Redwood, J. I said it then, and I’m still saying it now. Although I did concede you could win.

Another disqualifying factor, highlighted by Mr Paul Dacre’s revolting and hypocritical display of meatheaded jerkoff British exceptionalism in today’s Mail leader, is that I’m not a member of the metropolitan elite, a Jew or a homosexual. I’m a retired domestic caretaker living provincially on the State pension, about one eightieth of sneering Paulie’s filthy lucre. But I can still recognise the historic disaster of Britain’s disgraceful copout betrayal of our treaty partners in Europe and the reckless gamble we’re taking on trade, post Brexit, when there was no need for it.

Because the real ‘Bremoaners’ have been the semi-educated, bought-and-sold, op-ed slave writers of the toilet press, a heap of groaning media baboons who Moaned endlessly on for decades about the evils of Europe, lying through bloody spittle-flecked pointy dentures stained brown with the excrement of their tax-brexiled paymasters, until they got their way: no more repressive business legislation interfering with their plans to steal our minds.

The internet will eventually destroy them. In the meantime, we must just keep Moaning.

Trumbo parachutes in

The Australian Parliament (where else?) has passed without comment, a motion in which Donald Trump is described as ‘a revolting slug’.

I’m actually worried about that.

So powerful and widespread is the animus building against Trump that one fears he may soon start to attract the sympathy vote. Pollsters who put Clinton 4 points ahead are nervously fingering their rosaries over the possibility that there is a hidden army of Trump supporters they haven’t yet found. The media is constantly turning up his adherents in the most unlikely quarters: grown women with PhDs, blacks, Mexicans, Muslims….

Yet other women are bravely coming forward to attest that he groped them ‘like an octopus’. Witnesses state that he openly speculates about women’s tits while interviewing candidates for his tawdry secondhand Apprentice TV show. Trump apologists are wearing themselves thin, denying that he did any such thing (were they there?). Donny meanwhile complains these women are all liars. They’re bullying him. It’s a conspiracy. Horrible, horrible womans.

The House Speaker, senior Republican Congressman Paul Ryan, formerly an endorser, finds his righteous scrotal sac is not as empty as they thought, retracts his support: Trump sneers and mocks him, making paranoid accusations about sinister deals with the Clinton camp behind his back; complains of the greatest smear campaign in US history. (It would have to be the greatest. Greater even than his own smear campaign against Hillary Clinton.)

Horrible, horrible Paulie!

And still they love him unconditionally, the dumbfucks.

Personally, I’m less concerned about Trump’s squamous habits, his bullying and bragging about his amazing sexual attraction for helpless females overawed by his sheer charisma, his bullshit. Those are basically admissions of his deep insecurity, engendered by his domineering mother.

My real fear centres on the problem that he claims to know how to do anything, anything on earth, and he so clearly doesn’t.

Harvard Business School many years ago identified what they called ‘Entrepreneur Syndrome’, where someone who has founded one successful business goes on to persuade themselves that the next business they start up must be equally successful, as they so obviously have the Midas touch. But of course it won’t, necessarily, because they don’t. They’re ignoring the role of luck: early business ventures succeed, mainly because they are timely – not because the founder is omnipotent.

Trump’s more terrifying pronouncements relate, I believe, to his infantile comic-book fantasies about military strategy.

We’re gonna defeat ’em

_91500718_5eef05b4-b6a1-43f4-b63b-f5afc1fb19d7At a recent rally, the angry mole-rat started riffing on the subject of Iraq and the impending reconquest of Mosul, the country’s second city, that he originally thought was in Syria, that has been in the grip of the IS for two years. It is, in the world according to Donald, all the Muslim traitor Obama’s fault that the IS has been tipped off that the Americans are going to retake the city, and when the attack is to be launched.

This treachery, he believes, has given the IS leaders the opportunity to slip away undetected. He, Trump, will ensure when he becomes Commander-in-Chief that all American forces operations are henceforth to be carried out in secret, to ensure the element of surprise. That’s the way to deal with IS, surprise ’em!

You can imagine, can’t you, the Trump crowd nodding approvingly. Yeah, what does Crooked Hillary know about running the Army? She murdered the Ambassador to Libya, she used the wrong email, she should be in jail! Trump will defeat the Muslims with surprise!

So, for a start American forces are not going to retake Mosul. That honour has been left to the Iraqi army, supported by Kurdish and moderate Sunni militias. Coalition air power will be deployed in support, Special Forces may be in action – the US has Special Forces in action covertly in over 60 countries – the US has been training and arming the Iraqis, whose army command Bush foolishly dismantled after the 2003 invasion.

But the US Army is not directly involved in combat operations. There’s a reason – the American public got sick of paying for foreign wars, sick of kids coming back in bodybags. Is Field-Marshal Trump going to go against that?

Secondly, it takes only a moment’s contemplation of the size of the task to imagine that even dumb old terrorists might possibly notice the build-up of coalition forces retaking towns beyond the city limits. Of course, IS has its informers in the Iraqi army, in the militias; it would be idiotic to imagine they are so stupid as to not know an attack was being prepared weeks in advance, even if the media had not been banging on about it.

Stealth and surprise were simply not an option. But anything to try to make Hillary look more like a bungling criminal, and Donny to look like the Saviour of Mankind (he has even said America is certain to be destroyed if he is not elected, and that Hillary will start World War Three (doesn’t he know we’re already on to WW4.5?) … Surely someone must realise he is certifiably insane?).

In addition, since the Iraqi army has already retaken a number of strategic towns, you might think that IS would know there was a war going on and that they were under attack, that someone on the other side eventually would come up with the idea of trying to retake Mosul; and imagine that IS defenders would deploy their own forces and leadership accordingly?

It has possibly also not occurred to the candidate from Queens that by such a visible display of firepower building up, the IS might possibly be persuaded to abandon Mosul leaving a token defence force and a lot of booby-traps, and concentrate their forces instead on their hometown of Raqqa, to prepare for The Final Battle, Armaggedon. Thus incidentally sparing civilian lives.

That’s what’s known as strategy. But no, we just have to defeat them, it’ll be great, and then they’ll be defeated and we can all go to lunch.

Does he imagine IS leaders don’t hope to achieve martyrdom? Or that military defeat in Syria/Iraq won’t bring more of IS’s warped ideology to the streets of US and European cities? Solipsism is in a way like autism: it refuses to allow the sufferer to have empathy, to get inside another person’s mind. The only reality that exists is your own. Trump is crippled by solipsism.

Trump says he plans to expel all the illegal Mexicans and others from the USA. Great idea, but does he actually understand that there are possibly 12 million of them, and what that operation will take by way of resources and logistics that do not presently exist? Illegal immigrants aren’t by definition registered: to deport them you first have to find them. At 100 cases each, that’ll  require an army of 120,000 extra security people, on what, $600 a week?… Then you’d need secure camps to hold them while you process the extradition orders. About 2,400 camps could hold 5,000 illegals each. Legal challenges might take up a few decades. Then you’d need enough buses… (a quarter of a million buses at 50 deportees each…)

Equally, Mosul is a city of around two million people, almost the size of Houston, Texas. It’s not Koresh’s compound at Waco. Exactly how big a secret army and how much secret materièl does Trump imagine can be kept hidden in the desert for weeks when planning an operation to take back a large city from a well dug-in enemy numbering ten thousand battle-hardened fanatics?

Does he even know how many troops, tanks and drones, rockets and shells, how much ammunition and fuel it’s going to take, how to supply the attackers and reinforce them on the ground; the communications protocols between all the different groups;  where are the access points, the key targets; what are the Medevac procedures, the mechanical support requirements; what to do with 1 million fleeing civilians and what’s the Plan B if the first assault doesn’t work?

In point of fact, he hasn’t a fucking clue what he’s talking about, when he talks about retaking Mosul. He is delusional, imagining some tough guys can just go in and take it.

But the Dumbfucks go on believing his horseshit.

Trump has never been in or even near the military, he seems happier just to insult people who have. Trump managed to dodge service in Vietnam – passed originally A1, perfectly fit, nevertheless he was able to obtain four successive annual deferments to study in college and when he finally had no choice but to graduate the draft board decided he wasn’t fit to serve because of a doctor’s note about a probably operable bone-spur in his foot – Trump no longer remembers the exact medical details or which foot. (Washington Post, July 2015).

(My ex-airforce grandfather, who served through two world wars, used to joke: ‘I can’t do that, I’ve got a bone in my foot…’ I gather it was a stock military excuse, not always respected by those in authority – like my grandmother.)

I feel sure though that if he had been drafted, Trump would have defeated the Vietcong in a matter of days. What did they know about business, the little gooks? Send ’em back to Russia!

Seriously, Trump has no experience or qualification as a strategist, either military or political. He’s an entrepreneur. Entrepreneurs make policy on the hoof. They exploit opportunities, do deals, hire and fire people; they don’t plan ahead too far. They’re not team players. They’re tacticians, not strategists; often micromanagers.

For all his vainglorious boasting about his business skills, Trump has never had to organise or co-ordinate any large-scale operation of this nature, and so is free to fantasise about how he would personally defeat IS: parachuting into Mosul, assuming he can find it, with a dagger clenched between his teeth, Trumbo would slay ’em all. His fluctuating ‘team’ of hack advisors certainly don’t dare to contradict this elementary-schoolboy version of the world.

Trump’s attitude to military matters and much else besides echoes his ‘grab ’em by the pussy’ strategy for wooing the fair sex. We’ll defeat IS, simply by defeating them. They’ll be defeated, you’ll see, don’t ever doubt it, when I defeat the evil Muslims with muh special… defeat deal. Make you real proudame, Mama.

Nothing, it seems: no fact of life, no reasoned argument, nor any commonsensical approach to the verbal diarrhoeia that dribbles contingently from his Cabbage Patch brain will deter the Trump fan club from clinging to their boundless admiration for their hero: they don’t know or care how, they don’t even know or care if he knows how, but he’s gonna put that money back in their pockets, make Murca great agin – when the sad truth is, he’s already made it a great deal  smaller.

But let’s be careful here: the rising tide of insults and derision from politicians and commenters around the world just might come back to bite us.

Kyrie eleison! (And there was Light, but not a lot, lol)

By our Science correspondent ©2016 Kirsty Quark, @infinityandbeyond.

indexScientists are increasingly coming to the conclusion that the world is a virtual reality experience created in a computer program.

It’s known as Simulation Theory.

Uncannily reflecting the fictional plot of The Matrix, they base this subversive idea on the behaviour of the fundamental particles in quantum mechanics. If the world is indeed made up of tiny electrical impulses, they argue, infinitesimally small packets of energy coming and going, whizzing about hither and yon, giving every appearance of solid matter, then there is no difference between our ‘reality’ and what goes on inside the central processor of a computer.

(or indeed, the socket on your bedroom wall…)

Now, logicians might not be quaking in their boots just yet. There are an awful lot of leaps and bounds of the imagination, more than in any Tchaikovsky ballet, to get from one crude interpretation of quantum physics to the notion of a celestial teenager on a beanbag making up fourteen billion years of Universal history; juggling the fates of a hundred billion galaxies, a septillion star systems in a multi-level computer game.

It’s like saying, wow!, the hard drive storage on your laptop maps memory in precisely the same way as the human brain, because it feels to us like the way we remember and occasionally forget where we remembered things. Well, duh, humans invented it… so it might look a bit like our own mental processes, mightn’t it? As the courtier Polonius struggles to agree with Prince Hamlet’s metaphysical musings on cloud formations: ‘Methinks ’tis backed like a whale…’

Madly, when more seemingly logical propositions are put to the proponents of Simulation Theory – mostly, one imagines, overgrown boys who’ve been playing these sorts of ‘build your own Universe’ games alone in their bedrooms for years, between visits to Pornhub – the extension they’ve had to come up with, rather than explaining exactly where this giant supercomputer might be located in the here and now, who built it and who is operating it, is that it must exist sometime  ‘in the future’, and is post-rationalising its own history.

Pshaw. Stuff and nonsense!

No, what is worrying is that, just as the Intelligent Design theory of Life, the Universe and Everything is finally beginning to go away under intelligent assault from rational thinkers in the school of Hitchens, Dawkins, Harris and Chomsky, comes this new ‘scientific’ theory that has to presuppose someone or something is Up There, pulling strings, punching keys, making stuff happen, fulfilling the prophecies.

There just has to be an Intelligence, doesn’t there, a Higher Power that creates all this stuff, in whose Image we are made – a being not unlike us only bigger, who loves us especially (out of all the myriad flamed-out civilizations in the cosmos, out of all the millions of species that have gone extinct before us) and who numbers the hairs on our heads.

Indeed, it’s almost impossible for many people to imagine that there isn’t a Supreme Being, to accept that this is just how it is. I mean, look, it’s got rules! (Well, duh, humans are thinking this stuff, humans have rules too… Maybe we’re superimposing our own limiting structures onto our theory of manipulative deism? Maybe a little?)

The idea of God, in whatever form best adapts itself to contemporary human culture, is pernicious. It simply refuses to go away. The well armed fanatics and Bible bashers, who want you to know that if you refuse to believe in their invisible friend – no, not that one, this one – you’ll burn in agony for all eternity, even if you’re only a baby, so much do Jedoof and his heavenly Father love you, won’t ever let it go away.

For years, Christians have been moving further away from the Abrahamic notion of an all-knowing, all-powerful (all-punishing!) humanoid god. In the 1930s, a Jesuit priest and palaeontologist working on the discovery of early hominids, Pierre Teilhard de Chardin, reflecting the Jungian concept of the ‘collective unconscious’, advanced the concept of the ‘noosphere’ – a Universal mind, towards union with which he thought Humanity was evolving. This was very far from the God of the Old Testament.

In the 1960s, Bishop John Robinson published his best-seller, Honest to God!, in which the Anglican Church finally threw out the idea of a Supreme Being in the face of increasing scientific knowledge concerning the real age and scale of the Universe and the etiology of the species. He proposed instead (after Paul Tillich) an ‘immanent’ God, a God not external to humanity, but contained within us as an essential spiritual element of faith in human goodness and progress.

This adaptation of Freud’s superego was a masterly evasion, an adroit sidestepping of the fundamental problem of the irrationality of externalised religious belief, especially in the One True God – one out of so many in history, who have fallen by the wayside. It meant that, like a cancer, we had to carry around something alien inside our minds and bodies, that we could never rid ourselves of, whose Mind we did not need to know as it worked in us as an autonomic reflex, like breathing.

Many people were deeply upset however when, a few years later, the Bishop of Durham, the late David Jenkins, confessed that the story of Jesus was only a fable, a founding mythology we didn’t need to take too seriously provided we went along with the moral precepts in the Gospels, turned up in church once a year at Christmas and put a fiver in the plate.

For many believers, this was a heresy too far: evangelism, creationism, belief in the literal truth of the Bible and the theory of Intelligent Design began to gain ground in an attempt to push back against the Satanic beliefs that seemed to have led the church astray; dangerous beliefs in scientific rationality, Darwinism, denial of the virgin birth,  the resurrection and so on….

There is equally another good reason to undermine Simulation Theory before it really gets going as a new foundation myth for Generation Z:

In a collection of short stories published in 1959 as Nine Tomorrows, written a quarter of a century before you or I had even an IBM PC on our desktop, Isaac Asimov postulated the fictional computer Omnivac, that evolves through successive iterations of AI to overtake the human race and become a self-determining entity. Ultimately, long after Mankind has vanished from history, the computer has processed and stored all the data in the Universe (I believe that’s also Sergei Brin’s secret plan behind Google!).

Finally, entropy is complete: the last stars are snuffed out. Omnivac has become the Singularity. He sits alone in the darkness of the void for a few million years, pondering things weightily, until at last He intones: Let there be light!

And round we go again.

So you see, there’s nothing original in the idea of Simulation Theory as a reimagining of the universal creation myth as a computer program.  Through Asimov’s brilliant insight*, Science Fiction got there years before you, even when there was only the slenderest evidence at the time of where cybernetics was heading.

Before you start to hear it preached about in the pulpits of inanity, please realise ST is just another silly quasi-religious nostrum along the path towards Enlightenment!

*Think about that. Not only did Asimov realise years before anyone else the ontological problem with AI, that it has the potential to displace humans at the top of the tree; he also understood the nature of matter as information: data.

Politics: a curious affair

The wife of the new president of Nigeria, Muhammudu Buhari, has publicly rebuked him for, as it were, being asleep on the job. Aisha Buhari says her husband ‘does not know’ who most of his government appointments are, having never even met them; despite having been married to him for 27 years, she says, neither has she. They are all placemen (and maybe a few women?) put there by corrupt civil servants.

“I have decided as his wife, that if things continue like this up to 2019, I will not go out and campaign again and ask any woman to vote like I did before. I will never do it again.” – she told the BBC.

Her commendable attitude* echoes that of the Athenian women in Aristophanes’ Lysistrata, who refused to have any more dutiful sex with their husbands until they put an end to the Pelopponesian war. What, I thought, would be the effect of today’s political wives and husbands doing the same, putting an end to the tedious bickering over hard or soft Brexit?

It occurs to me, however, that they probably don’t have sex, at least not with each other. Quite a few are not even married, so dedicated are they to their careers.

I was wondering only yesterday, as it happens, about the very odd cabinet appointments made by Britain’s unelected Prime Minister, Theresa May, during her first days in office.

Are any of them qualified to be in charge of departments responsible for areas of public and private expenditure in which they have never previously been known to take a passing interest? It’s like Theresa’s little joke.

Briefly though, in the light of the Nigerian experience, we must first ask the question: has the Prime Minister’s husband Philip ever met any of these people?

I expect as PM Consort, he must have done. After all, was not the Arthur Askey lookalike (for generations X through Z, Askey was a variety artist in the 1950s, whose catchphrase ‘Hello Playmates!’ has taken on a certain resonance in these more austere times) being paraded as PM arm candy at the Tory party conference in Birmingham only days ago?

He might not have met any members of the elected government, as they all stayed away. Cameron, Ozzie Osborne, swotty li’l Gove…. they’ve all given it up as a bad job.

But what of, say, Amber Rudd, the former investment manager now in charge of homeland security? Philip would get on great with her, he’s an investment manager too. They could talk about securities, investments.

It’s often said most politicians have never known a proper job. Surely, advising ordinary people on where to safely put their now-worthless pounds, Panama or the Virgin Islands, is one of the most socially useful professions imaginable?

And Chris Grayling, of the curiously shaped head (he looks like a very tall, Art Deco standard lamp, with no shade – just a large bulb). Battling away over the Southern Rail dispute, I expect, the former Justice Minister was probably too busy being introduced to the concept of commuter travel to have much time for social niceties.

The comprehensive school-educated Justine Greening, former Transport secretary, has been put in charge of St Theresa’s programme of introducing lots of new selective grammar schools, of which she thoroughly disapproves. So she’s squirming.

While the new lady Lord Chancellor and Secretary of State for Justice, the former think-tank wonk and junior education minister, Liz Truss, has no legal qualifications or work experience whatsoever but is no doubt well on top of her predecessor Speccy Gove’s rational and relatively humane proposals to overhaul the broken prison system.

Wife and mother, the bizarre Andrea Leadsom was given the brief at the Department for Environment and Rural Affairs, and promptly ordered to close down the Climate Change unit, presumably before it overheats.

Then there’s the Brexit triumvirate: David Davis, a former Shadow, in the wholly new role of Secretary of State for Exciting the European Union, or something; ‘Dr’ Fox – would you let him operate on your sister? –  Business thingy in charge of beefing up British boomerang sales to Australia, whose first public effort was to abuse British business owners as golf-addicted slackers – while Boris, the shambolic albino bear-man, who has dedicated his life to insulting foreign leaders in Latin, now touring the world as Foreign Secretary, likes to remind other countries of how we used to commit atrocities on their soil, so they’d better give us their business or else.

Only poor, swivel-eyed Bremainer Jeremy Hunt, the Health Secretary currently presiding over the virtual collapse of the NHS, had any previous form in the job; in his case, not the best form – you wouldn’t bet on there being many doctors left in 2017, and not just because they’ve all been repatriated. To rub salt in the wound, the only antibiotic still available, Mrs May has told him there’s no more money – he’ll just have to kill more patients.

So while our senior political leaders are no doubt in and out of one anothers’ kitchens all the time, the best of neighbours, we must hope they’re on more than nodding acquaintance with their briefs and hoping to retain some small measure of autonomy while Mrs May makes all the policy and budgeting decisions for them.

It seems to me they’ve all been given the kinds of jobs more familiar to the ancient Greeks, as divine punishment for their hubris.

*His presidential response: at a meeting with Angela Merkel he told the press conference ‘She belongs to my kitchen’.

Maybe there’s a job for the Donald in Lagos next month?