What do Jeremy Corbyn, Donald Trump, Nancy Pelosi, and Theresa May have in common right now? Here’s one big thing: they are all disinclined to accept that the buck should not and will not stop with them. Theresa May does not look too successful or polished at blame-shifting at the moment, although it is a stupefying accomplishment in a way that she is still occupying the prime ministership after the largest parliamentary defeat since prehistory. Jeremy Corbyn has not yet become PM, but he has held on to the leadership of Her Majesty’s Most Loyal Opposition while refusing to commit himself to any particular Brexit policy at all. If May’s government falls, is he capable to taking an actual policy position that would expose him to blame? Speaker Nancy Pelosi has almost (but not quite) taken impeachment off the table, in hopes of blunting Republican attack lines and constant media inquiries that often devolve into “gotcha” questions. She has not tried, as far as I know, to impede the oversight investigations of commitee chairs such as Adam Schiff and Maxine Waters and Elijah Cummings, but she has signaled to Chairman Nadler that she does not want any hearings yet with an open focus on “impeachment.” Finally, Donald Trump has apparently been a bully and a blame-avoider his entire life. Will he continue to benefit from MSM framing in which he, by virtue of the presumably dignified office he holds, is able to spew blame-shifting lies with minimal real-time chyrons and headlines that rebuke and correct those lies? One can hope. Blame avoidance is a cardinal principle of politics, ever and always. It’s up to news outlets to be alert to this and give voters a chance to drain the swamp, so to speak, of buck-passing liars.
Jam tomorrow! Sounds great! Oh, you think mouldy (or moldy) jam is best, Prime Minister? I think not. Please resign now.
I read in the NY Times that schools in England have begun to teach mindfulness. Perhaps after the UK Brexits, the Prime Minister, or ex-Prime Minister, will have some spare time to devote to mindfulness training so that she will think twice before sharing her views on mouldy jam.
Six weeks to go until a disorderly exit from the European Union, and Great Britain, especially the little England faction, seems deeply entrenched in silly season. Don’t these Tories know that wintertime is not silly season? Will they show any awareness at all that putting party over country, as they are still doing, has nothing to do at all with the “blitz spirit” they love to invoke?
Between “I miss the name ‘England’ and insulting the Prime Minister in a tabloid interview and making Queen Elizabeth II wait ten minutes for his arrival while she stood out in the hot sun, the President of the United States lost the run of himself this week. I agree with the notion that it’s not enough to say that he is a moron–it’s more complicated. I’m sure that along with the buffoonish commentary about “the name ‘England'” that he intended to bully Prime Minister May by touting Boris Johnson and insinuating that he had a secret sauce for negotiating Brexit and that May has foolishly failed to heed his (so far and probably forever unspecified, like his taxes) brilliantly “brutal” advice. The purpose of all that was to weaken the existing government, making the “Leavers” feel Trump will surely give them a deal that is the “highest level of special,” all for the sake of making Trump look like he alone can solve the UK’s problems.
He, Trump, may or may not be consciously following a playbook that Putin or his minions have laid out explicitly. Trump has, though, had contacts with Russians going back over thirty years, long before Putin became czar. Nevertheless, the Soviets of the 1980s had and Putin today has a consistent purpose: attack the main enemy, the US, via maskirovka aimed at sowing internal divisions. With Trump they managed to hit the jackpot. Bullying and autocratic rule and thuggishness have been in Trump’s head (and heart, to speak loosely) for his whole life. When Trump warned the other day that Europeans had “better watch themselves” lest they lose their “culture,” he was parroting straight-up white nationalist rhetoric, rhetoric that many in Congress, Republican as well as Democrat, have denounced for decades. But the Republican Party leadership, Senate and House, is now going almost completely silent as Trump becomes ever more open in his alliance with voices that until very recently were completely off-limits for their openly racist, anti-Semitic, and anti-Muslim abuse. Sam Brownback, Trump’s “ambassador for international religious freedom,” has apparently threatened British officials with reprisals if they do not release Tommie Robinson–that is way out of the bounds of how the US and UK have dealt with one another. It is apparently not enough for the president to issue pardons to wingnut “sovereign citizens” and arsonists, now they want to meddle in British justice on behalf of the so-called English Defence League.
Who is really the “rootless cosmopolitan” in 2018? That phrase was used to target Jews in the 20th century. Trump has his own version of racial dog whistling and targeting. His rhetoric is approaching klaxon horn volume–but he is dangerous precisely because, as so often, he is projecting onto others his own weaknesses. If there was ever a truly and pitifully rootless wannabe cosmopolitan in our time, he’s it.
The Times (of London, not the times-come-lately in NYC) says today in a headline that “Trump will visit the UK in July.” The second sentence of the story hedges a bit: “the Us president is thought to be planning” to go to London after meetings in Brussels on July 11-12.
I hate to tell the British that they are kidding themselves, but let me put it this way: President Trump does not plan, at least not in such a way that lesser beings can fathom his actions in advance. That being said, I have some inside information. Trump will in fact travel from Brussels to Paris for his second Bastille Day military parade. After that he will, without doubt, make a special appearance at the Academie Francaise to lecture the 40 Immortals on “My Clear And Very Distinct Ideas.” He will finally fulfill, in fact, after almost 499 years, the original mission of the Academie, which was founded by Cardinal Richelieu in 1635. In the United States, President Trump has accomplished so very many things that no president before him even attempted. And in Paris, at the French Academy, Trump will finally “fix the French language, giving it rules, making it pure and comprehensible for all.” Warm-up act for Mr. Trump will be noted philosopher and linguist Kanye West, speaking on “Proper Terminology and Neology.”
Sarah Sanders said yesterday that the US “stands in solidarity with its closest ally, the United Kingdom.” Today she put on her most resolute voice and stated that Russia will have to decide whether it wants to be a good actor or a bad actor. Meanwhile, the president has said little to nothing publicly about the Salisbury poisoning, which sickened dozens of British citizens, not just the former Russian spy and his daughter. (Of course some say you can never quit being a Chekist, just as there are no true ex-Catholics.)
I expect Russians will laugh and think: heck no we are not about to choose between being bad or good; the whole point of maskirovska is to sow FUD. Meanwhile, Trump boasts of making up trade deficits with Canada. Justin Trudeau knew Trump was wrong, Trump knew he had no idea whether he was speaking the truth, and Trudeau and every other foreign leader already knew Trump is talking smack 99% of the time.
American presidents have not always told the truth in public or private, but Trump is not the master of maskirovka that Putin is, even though he can still befuddle the mainstream media some of the time. Most of us here in the US have become embarrassed by our transparently lying leader, discount every word he says as dubious, and I expect it’ll show in the elections coming up soon.
Not sure it matters when or how the leader of the radical extremist US regime came to be radicalized, the fact is he did. Maybe since age 4 or 5, maybe by Roy Cohn, but it happened. Many TV talking heads are still not speaking as if Trump is a radical extremist troll. They cast about for other explanations: he’s “not normal,” he’s “disconnected from reality,” and so son. Some in the media say they are “news” people rather than “opinion” people, so they couldn’t possibly impute malignant motives to a person holding the “office of the presidency.” They are no more fair or objective than I am when I call the US government a radical extremist “regime.” They speak with forked tongues, that is their hesitation is surely caused by motivated reasoning–or else they are more gullible than I think (why do I think their tax bracket and that of their bosses has anything to do with anything?). Their reluctance is unscientific and not objective at all: a true empiricist approach would be to sift through interpretations for Trump’s behavior and then broadcast the most plausible, whatever they are. Reporters of all people ought to mistrust and verify always and everywhere–if your mother says x, check it out! It is long past time to pretend that we should give Trump the benefit of the doubt because surely he’s going to “pivot.”
Trump’s radical extremist trolling has now flapped the hard to flap British by retweeting far-right fake news from Britain First, and then had the nerve to tell Theresa May to mind her own business! “I alone can stir any and all pots.” And Sarah Sanders’ stated position is pure big lie: who cares if the videos are real, what matters is ein volk, ein reich, ein Trump. How we got here, whether it was was race or class or economic anxiety or Comey or Vlad or YOLO attitude, now how do we dig out? At least I hope there’s a way to dig out.
Antonio Tajani, head of the EU Parliament, said today, yes you little Englanders can turn back and we would all jump up and down with pleasure if you do turn back from leaving. Prime Minister Theresa May was quite terribly tempted to toss him in the Clink–had the Clink not been repurposed into a frou-frou hostel, so I am told. Throw ‘im into the Tower then!
Why do so many little Englanders seem to believe both 1) life stinks because we are being taken advantage of by millions of horrid unruly Europeans from places far away that we have never heard of, and also 2) we will surely be able to continue going on holiday to southern Spain and Portugal and Slovakia and the Croatian coast without any fuss or bother, but they are not going to be allowed in to take our jobs and pollute our beautiful land. Somehow it is not going to work out. Twenty-seven European countries are not about to agree unanimously to set a precedent making it painless for any one of them to opt out of the bothersome parts but keep the freebies, especially free trade and movement.
Even if plenty of the English–the Scots and Welsh are plenty pro-EU already–wake up to the need for loss aversion pronto, what and whom would they want to vote for? (This was, sadly, a big problem last fall in the US.) Jeremy Corbyn has had the luxury for decades of seeing the EU as a club for capitalists, but now it’s for real, and I have no idea what he wants to do should he find himself empowered. Maybe Nicola Sturgeon could emerge as the leader of a coalition bloc, and seize the Prime Ministership! Then we have a new script for saboteur-crushing, would we not? Prorogation could take a surprising turn; new prerogatives could emerge. There could indeed be back-turning and turning back, 500 years after Luther said that the whole life of believers should be repentance.