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.
Among the innumerable parodies of the “keep calm and carry on” slogan are several variations on “keep calm and realize you’re not good enough.” But now, after the Grenfell Tower fire in North Kensington, London, the keep calm slogan itself doesn’t seem good enough anymore. Since a copy of the World War II propaganda poster was rediscovered by a bookseller in Northumberland in 2000, “keep calm and carry on” has become an all-purpose meme, seemingly infinitely adaptable. It felt, to many, particularly appropriate and even uplifting last month after the suicide terror attacks in Manchester and London.
The quasi-official voice of establishment Britain, The Times, points out today that while “keep calm” has “served as a self-consciously British summary of what to do when times get tough,” and that “Theresa May seems to have adopted it as her mantra in the worst week of her career,” “the mantra is not equal to the moment.” And after the tower fire keeping calm and carrying on has become, seemingly even to Queen Elizabeth, an inadequate response to the grim reality of avoidable mass death in a high-rise abutting the wealthiest parliamentary constituency in the United Kingdom. “The Queen’s Official Birthday 2017” statement, published today, says that “today is traditionally a day of celebration. This year, however, it is difficult to escape a very sombre national mood. In recent months, the country has witnessed a succession of terrible tragedies….During recent visits in Manchester and London, I have been profoundly struck by the immediate inclination of people throughout the country to offer comfort and support to those in desperate need….we are…determined, without fear or favour, to support all those rebuilding lives so horribly affected by injury and loss.” The queen’s birthday statement also claims that “put to the test, the United Kingdom has been resolute in the face of adversity.” She is of course not suggesting that the British replace calm with panic. Instead, her statement lifts up the importance of responding to adversity “without fear or favour,” a phrase with ancient Latin roots (“sine timore aut favore”) that is part of the British oath of allegiance . She does not single out any particular politicians of opportunism or cowardice, but she (or her advisers) do not need to. The shockingly urgent tone of the birthday message resounds more without specific accusation, at least for today. But the spirit of “without fear or favor” will demand reckonings before long. As an American, I say all this knowing that we are probably in even direr need of acting without fear or favor if we are to save our own institutions, liberties, and culture from the barbarisms resulting from inequality and neglect. We Americans (like the Scottish police, by the way) do not take an oath of allegiance to the sovereign, but we surely need to honor the substance of that oath, to “do right to all manner of people…without fear or favour,” that is, we need to learn and relearn the impartiality that our current regime seems to want desperately for us to forget and abandon.
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.