Wednesday, 12 October 2016

Citizens of this mad, mad world

...unite! Give 'em hell, fellow Remoaners, Bremoaners, whatever the ghastly falsifying right-wing press which was largely responsible for getting us into this mess cares to call us today: it's our turn to be the gadflies now that the lunatic fringe of the Tory Party, having waged a war of attrition for years, has got what it wanted.

Of course the Conservative Party Conference was just an orgy of self-congratulation and puffery, destined to smash against the rock of reality this week. No way was Amber Rudd's 'policy' for getting companies to register their 'domiciled foreigners' going to pass muster in the outside world. But still they managed to alienate a whole raft of doctors and nurses without whom the NHS couldn't function* - and who have been helping it to function at least since I was a child - as well as 'loony lefty' human rights lawyers ('hands off our boys!'), the 48 per cent who voted Remain as a sneering metropolitan elite and, indeed, all those who had previously thought of themselves as citizens contributing in so many ways more than just the mere financial to a society that's still worth fighting for. I've already heard of the personal impact from Brexit's licence to hate - which this Conference will only have stoked - from my Polish friend Magda, as reported here. The current leadership must now be held to account for this.

As for Bray (= Brexit May), good luck all those people around the country whom she encouraged to 'take back control' at a local level when at around the same time the government overruled Lancashire Council's rejection of local fracking. Reports on the subject are helpfully rounded up here.

Like many of her colleagues, this woman with her 'Born Again' credentials no longer passes muster as a politician of conviction. Say what you will about Corbyn - like many, I left the Labour Party in consternation at his deliberately poor show during and after the referendum - but he seems consistent. Of course it sticks most in the craw of us liberals (not neoliberals, please) to be told by our unelected Prime Minister that we're actually 'citizens of nowhere'. I was reminded shortly after spluttering that the negation is even more offensive to those who've crossed half the world under impossible conditions now that there's no home for them in the country of their birth.

Alongside typically firm statements emerging from Sadiq Khan and Nicola Sturgeon - how I breathed more freely up in Edinburgh last Thursday - less familiar champions have emerged, too. LBC chat-hosts never used to be as articulate, in my experience, as a new hero of the day, James O'Brien. Having caught us all out by claiming to read out a couple of lines from Rudd's speech, only to tell us that they were from Mein Kampf Chapter Three, he was on top form pursuing Ashley, an amiable enough sounding electrician from Plymouth, on which EU law he didn't like. Couldn't name one, of course. And what didn't he like? Packs of immigrants wandering around the centre of Plymouth. But then packs of Englishmen were just as bad. Of course it was an unequal match; I'd like to see O'Brien's relentless logic versus the Three Blind Mice aka Brexiteers Johnson, Davis and Fox. But nailing the total lack of facts behind the average entirely delusional Outer's vote to leave is just as useful. Not on YouTube yet, but here it is on LBC in the meantime.

In the meantime, Blind Mice One, bumbling Boris, showed his usual diplomacy by recommending protests outside the Russian Embassy against the destruction of Aleppo. Protesters are not, in our democracy at least, liable to follow instructions from government, though God knows something has to be happen as the Russians ruthlessly target hospitals. Which is indeed a new depravity which the UK and America cannot be blamed for in Syria (what's Stop the War up to, making equivalence between the two?) It was not widely reported that at the weekend Russia again vetoed halting the attacks and returning to talks in the UN. Obscene. I want to hear from our valiant doctor in Aleppo again, and hope he's still able to function in some way.

As for the cesspit into which a man not fit to be called a politician - though still supported here by several extreme Tories who should know better - has tried to drag American politics, the entertainment aspect has vanished and all but the most diehard Trump supporters who steeled themselves to watch the second debate with Hillary saw the fangs and the male space-invading monster, not Farage's fine silverback. Still, though, there can be some innocent relief and of all the creative responses, this one I adore:

Preserving the link/embedding as much for myself as for anyone reading, since these are tonics to which I'll be happy to return in the future. And please, America, though a Trump presidency now begins to seem as unlikely as it has always been incredible, don't make a mistake which would be on an even more colossal scale than the UK's.

 Rant over. Not checking for grammar - let it be a spontaneous snapshot from this very strange time.

14/10 From the worst to the very best: here's the lady I hope will be the next President-but-one of the United States at her emotive best, remarkable not so much for her attack on Trump as for the way she uses it to follow her reactions to participating in Day of the Girl, for young women's education all over the world. I love that couple, even if Obama failed in one grave area - acting strongly enough when he could on Assad's use of chemical weapons. On the home front, I have nothing but praise. This speech is impressive for the way the whooping crowd goes silent with intense listening in the middle - something unthinkable at a Trump rally. Make sure to watch it all.

*Update - 13/10:  I met and chatted to quite a few, the salt of the earth, when I had my stent removed this morning at Chelsea and Westminster Hospital. No need to ask if they're UK citizens or not, but the entirely delightful and friendly nurses were, inter alia, from the Middle East and what I guess to be Indonesia and my doctor told me he goes to North Kurdistan a lot. I'd like to have talked to him more but then the procedure - quick, weird and only briefly painful - went ahead.  This is the good side of our International Health Service, and there's no way we could do without these people.


Andrew Morris said...

Bad Lip Syncing restored the smile to our faces in this house after the utter desperation of the second debate. These are dark days for liberal democracy. I'm just glad there are people who can also make them into extremely funny days.

David said...

Hurrah for laughs where we can get them. In a way it's dark, but there's everything to fight for - the world is just more polarised than ever. And America looks as if it won't replicate the UK's mistake on what would have been a massive scale. Still, those enemies of truth and decency won't go away...

Susan Scheid said...

Did you happen to see that the Hitler movie clip has AGAIN been recycled to good effect in re the Repubs here and their fearless leader (for he IS the product of their ongoing pandering to a base base, whether they wish to admit it or not)? I'll see if I can find the link and will send it on to you, if you haven't seen it. Michelle Obama's speech is one for the ages. We were all so grateful to her, and for her beautifully-stated support for Clinton, who continues to take the central brunt for all of us of the slings and arrows, with far too little gratitude even from many who support her. While we all were aware of the 2d debate stalking, frightening in itself, Clinton, on the Ellen show, sent chills up my spine when she recounted her experience of it: "And because of the revelations of the public video and everything that came out on ‘Access Hollywood,’ you know, he was — he was really all wrought up and you could just sense how much anger he had and so he was really trying to dominate and then literally stalk me around the stage. And I would just feel this presence behind me, and I, you know, I thought, ‘''Whoa, this is really weird.'’' It's worthwhile to watch the whole of the conversation: The Debate Commission should pull the plug on the third debate. The Boston Globe has weighed in on that brilliantly, for all the right reasons: The Globe also reported on the effect of Trump's latest rallies, intent on delegitimizing the election results if he doesn't win. It's very, very scary. Here are just a couple examples of what he's stoked. One Trump supporter, answering Trump's "call" to poll-watch, said "I’ll look for . . . well, it’s called racial profiling. Mexicans. Syrians. People who can’t speak American,” he said. “I’m going to go right up behind them. I’ll do everything legally. I want to see if they are accountable. I’m not going to do anything illegal. I’m going to make them a little bit nervous.” And where do you suppose Webb learned the technique of "going . . . right up behind them . . . to make them a little bit nervous"? Another said this: “If she’s in office, I hope we can start a coup. She should be in prison or shot. That’s how I feel about it. We’re going to have a revolution and take them out of office if that’s what it takes. There’s going to be a lot of bloodshed. But that’s what it’s going to take. . . . I would do whatever I can for my country.” And these are the people who are buying all the guns. I think we'll come through this round OK, but it's going to be very, very hard to get the lid back on what's been unleashed. The behavior DT has spawned has no rational basis; it's just pure, unhinged rage at work. And now I will stop, with apologies for going on at such length. (It's actually come to the point that we both just realized today that 2 days ago was our 37th anniversary; we totally missed it!)

David said...

Yes, you sent it to me - very timely (sorry if I didn't respond). The Downfall parallels are (we hope) strong, the unedifying spectacle of a bully in meltdown blaming everyone else included.

I'll watch the Ellen conversation but I couldn't bring myself to watch the whole debate because the clips of him closing in on her space from behind freaked me out. Such a waste of possibilities for discussing things that matter - though only one thing matters for now, and that is beating Trump as massively as possible. At least we know where he stands on Aleppo, that bit got through.

I also read that about the supporter's intention to copy his 'master' in intimidating tactics. But I trust people are beyond intimidation now. Very good article by the excellent Natalie Nougareyde on glimmers of hope and a possible backlash against bigotry: It's all a question of confidence and refusal to be afraid, isn't it? I think we may yet see more of that ere Brexit is a done deal here.

And congratulations on the anniversary - you can afford to be subsumed by The Cause and hopefully have a really big party after Hillary gets in...

Susan Scheid said...

Thank you so much for the Guardian article, which I had not seen. There was something to similar effect in the Boston Globe over here, and I was very heartened to see it. I'll spare you yet another link, but one movement the article mentioned, completely new to me, was Spain's Ciudadanos, which, as it was described, seemed emblematic of "Open" v. "Closed," as it "has won support by campaigning against regional nationalism under the slogan 'Catalonia is my homeland, Spain is my country and Europe is our future.'” Yes, it is a question of confidence and refusal to be afraid. I hope the same for you with Brexit.

David Damant said...

Clement Attlee remarked that referendums were the device of dictators and demagogues, and certainly these newspapers are as demagogic as Farage or Trump. The fault is the appeal to the unqualified, and such is the pressure that Hilary Clinton has had to move to an extent in that direction. In this country we should go back to a representative democracy as laid down by Attlee and Burke, so that the Commons makes the decisions on policies and leaders - in which context Mrs May was correctly elected, by Tory MPs. But there is nowadays a tremendously entrenched view that democracy is defined by everyone having a say - even though hardly anyone (including myself) is competent to choose either policies or people. Choose an MP and then allow him or her to exercise independent judgement.

David said...

Yes, Sue, it's good to get a glimmer of the positive, isn't it? And I remain optimistic in the long term. All things go in circles. I'd ring the changes on that and say England is my homeland, Europe is my country and the world is our future. As in going out into the world, rather than the richer part of it coming here to grab what is now even cheaper property and turn London, for a start, into even more of a city of deserted homes.

Democracy and populism are the two very different things, aren't they, David? Not sure how Hillary has moved in the populist direction, though. Doesn't she have a raft of important measures she wants to implement, but which she can't talk about because of the radio noise of Trump?

May was elected by her party, not by parliament or an election. Well, she is now reaping what that disastrous, self-congratulatory conference has sown.

Susan Scheid said...

Ah, yes, let us do ring the changes on positive change!

David D is right that Clinton had to move in one respect, and that is to come out full-stop against TPP, but by and large she has resisted the impulse, much to her credit. (On TPP, it is not that there aren't concerns--I've read arguments about certain aspects that persuade me a second look is needed, but this soundbite sloganeering coming from both the Sanders and right-wing camps does us no good at all.) I've been perusing Clinton's leaked Goldman Sachs speeches this afternoon, and what I find in them is an astute, nuanced thinker with a tremendously clear-eyed view of the world. Here's just a bit: "We have always had this kind of streak of whether it’s know-nothingism or isolationism or, you know, anti-Communism, extremism. Whatever. We’ve had it forever from the beginning. So it’s important that people speak out and stand up against it, and especially people who are Republicans, who say, look, that’s not the party that I’m part of. I want to get back to having a two-party system that can have an adult conversation and a real debate about the future." Wouldn't that be refreshing--an actual adult conversation? Just a bit more, begging your indulgence:

"What I really resent most about the obstructionists is they have such a narrow view of America. They see America in a way that is no longer reflective of the reality of who we are. They’re against immigration for reasons that have to do with the past, not the future. They can’t figure out how to invest in the future, so they cut everything. You know, laying off, you know, young researchers, closing labs instead of saying, we’re better at this than anybody in the world, that’s where our money
should go. They just have a backward-looking view of America. And they play on people’s fears, not on people’s hopes, and they have to be rejected. I don’t care what they call themselves. I don’t care where they’re from. They have to be rejected because they are fundamentally un-American. And every effort they make to undermine and obstruct the functioning of the government is meant to send a signal that we can’t do anything collectively. You know, that we aren’t a community, a nation
that shares values. I mean, America was an invention. It was an intellectual invention, and we have done pretty well for all these years. And these people [she is speaking of backward-looking Republicans] want to just undermine that very profound sense of who we are.

"And we can’t let them do that."

(Apparently, from there, she went on to discuss Alexis de Tocqueville.)

David said...

We're still getting equivocations here to the effect that Hillary is the lesser of two evils. Even the Arts Desk review of what sounds like a weak programme by our tiresome Paxman doesn't spell it out that there WILL be statesman(person)ship in the White House if she becomes President. As over here with Brexit, mud sticks, however false or magnified. There's a glimmer that folk may be wading out of the sticky pool, though, and I hope it pertains to America too.

Flabbergasted that Assange is on the Russian side. Let them have him, and pardon Snowden and bring him back.