From our old friend C. S. Lewis:
If we are going to be destroyed by a far-right government, let that government when it comes find us doing sensible and human things — praying, working, teaching, reading, listening to music, bathing the children, playing tennis, chatting to our friends over a pint and a game of darts — not huddled together like frightened sheep and thinking about politics. They might break our bodies (a microbe can do that) but they need not dominate our minds.
That’s got to be my strategy. Fury, denial, despair — none of these will help. Simply getting on with life just might.
A few years ago, I got into playing Skyrim on our XBox 360. There are many wonderful things about Skyrim, including its immersive sense of place, its vast and varying geography, its brooding landscapes and complementary atmospheric music, its epic scope, its interesting NPCs, its endless range of ways to power up, and so on.
Early in the game, when cash was scarce, I got into a routine that each dungeon I entered, I would carefully loot every vase and chest, and strip every monster I killed of its weapons, armour and valuables; then when I was done I’d return to civilisation and sell off the spare armour, weapons, etc. Continue reading
The vicar’s daughter who talks all the time about Christian values but has apparently never read the 9th commandment goes against her five-times-repeated pledge “No general election until 2020“.
The Fixed Term Parliament Act of course exists precisely to prevent this kind of opportunistic capitalising on a weak opposition. But that was passed waaay back in 2011, and who cares about all that six-years-ago stuff?
You might legitimately ask why I am whining on and on and on and on and on and on and on and on and on about Donald Trump, when he is president of a country that is not even in the same continent as mine.
One perfectly cromulent answer would be that America’s economic and military power means that whatever it does has implications for every country; and that is true. But for me the issue is much deeper than that.
The real issue is that I genuinely, deeply love America, and I hate to see it abused.
With perfect timing, frequent commenter Robin Jubber has just asserted that “Whatever mental disorder Trump suffers from … it’s not psychopathy”. Is he right?
The Washington Post conducted a dispassionate assessment of whether Trump is a fascist. It scored him 26 out of a possible 44 — a hair under 60% — and concluded “He is semi-fascist: more fascist than any successful American politician yet, and the most dangerous threat to pluralist democracy in this country in more than a century, but — thank our stars — an amateurish imitation of the real thing.”
Can we do the same thing in assessing whether he is a psychopath?
A few commenters recently have expressed some surprise or dismay that I have been so very negative about the Trump regime. Sorry, folks: I never set out to write a political blog, but Trump is without question the biggest problem facing the world. I can’t ignore it.
But I do want to make one thing quite clear: my fear and loathing of Trump is not a partisan issue. It’s not because he is a Republican and most Americans I know are Democrats; it’s not because he’s on the right and I lean towards the left. It’s because he is a dangerous, delusional psychopath with no understanding of how government, diplomacy or anything else works; and because is too arrogant to make up for this ignorance by consulting experts.
Chamberlain on Hitler: “I have met a man with whom I can do business.”
May to Trump: “Today’s talks I think are a significant moment for President Trump and I to build our relationship and I look forward to continuing to work with you.”
Chamberlain on Hitler’s annexing the Sudetenland: “A quarrel in a faraway country, between people of whom we know nothing.”
May on Trump’s banning people from Muslim countries from entering the US: “The United States is responsible for the United States’ policy on refugees. The United Kingdom is responsible for the United Kingdom’s policy on refugees.”
A Downing Street source has just said: “We will always find ourselves in agreement on some things and disagreement on other things.”
Well. That’s all right, then.
If ever the United States of America needed a fourth estate, it’s now. The man-child in the president’s seat is completely out of control even by his own standards. Given his history of vendettas against those who oppose him, it would be easy — understandable, even — for the press to just hunker down and wait four years for all this to be over.
It’s to their enormous credit that they are not doing that. The most respected newspapers and magazines in America are writing boldly and uncompromisingly about the man who every day brings the presidency into disrepute.
I am seriously worried about America now. None of us was taken by surprise by what kind of a person Trump is — it was apparent all through his campaigning. But the sheer speed with which he’s set about dismantling all the elements of civilisation has taken me by surprise. A quick recap:
- Normalising lying, both by Trump himself and by his staff: about the size of the inauguration crowd, about the election result itself, and more generally about everything.
- Press briefings that are used to disseminate propaganda and criticise the press, with no questions taken.
- A self-obsessed focus on the president as a personality, ahead of all policy issues, whatever the setting or circumstances.
- Removal of civil rights, climate change, health care, disabilities, LGBT rights and much more from the administration’s website (and the complete removal of the Spanish-language version of the site).
- Freezing grants for the Environmental Protection Agency, and banning staff from saying anything about it (on indeed about anything) — see Appendix below.
- Gagging essentially all government agencies from public communication.
- A national park forced to remove tweets that contained nothing but scientific facts that are inconvenient to Trump.
- Banning the National Institutes for Health from communicating with policy-makers.
- Unilaterally giving the go-ahead for the Keystone XL and Dakota Access oil pipelines, in which he has a financial interest, in the face of both social and environmental opposition.
- Maybe most worrying, a clampdown on free reporting, with six journalists facing 10 years in prison and a $25,000 fine for covering inauguration protests.
These are unambiguously the actions of a dictator.
In the spirit of reconciliation, I thought it would be good to say something positive about Donald Trump. So here goes.
Trump, and Trump alone, had the strategic insight to realise how right Michael Gove was in the run-up to the Brexit vote when he argued that people “have had enough of experts”. Seeing the result of that vote, Trump alone had the courage to run with Gove’s observation to its obvious conclusion, that people have had enough of facts.