a maze of words leading to …?

America First


america-first-2  america-first

America First … hear a distant echo: “Deutschland über alles” …

If you want to gradually turn the USA into a neo-fascist state, assuming that you already hold immense executive power (the Presidency), then first you must undermine the essential pillars of democracy. These include a free press and media, an independent judiciary and public confidence in democracy itself.

Confidence in democracy itself (the fair counting of votes):

When it comes to voting rights, Democrats push voter protection while Republicans shout voter fraud in a crowded polling place. Democrats think anyone who can vote should vote; Republicans think everyone who should vote can vote. ~ Christine Pelosi

Trump and his advisors continue, even after winning the election and despite still not providing any evidence of vote rigging, to try and undermine public confidence in the voting system.

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trump-fascist-salute

Trump Rally

I had previously seen Donald Trump merely as a bad joke – albeit a misogynist, a homophobe, a racist, a narcissistic blow-hard, a con-artist and serial liar.

But I now realise that he’s much worse than this: a disguised but dangerous neo-fascist, leading a large populist movement, intent on undermining faith in democracy, stirring up civil unrest, providing encouragement for post-election violence and an insurrectionary movement of “patriots”.

He says the American democratic system is rigged and refuses to say that he’ll accept the election outcome. He now refers to Obama’s presidency as a “regime” and says he’s going to put Hillary Clinton in jail. He muses about “2nd amendment solutions” (i.e. the use of guns). He’s promised to forcibly deport 11 million people (illegal immigrants) … an act that would require busting in on tens of thousands of businesses and homes, not to mention the establishment of mass camps where these 11 million women, men and children can be herded and concentrated together.

He has spoken of his admiration for “strong men”, citing Iraq’s former President Saddam Hussein and Russian President Vladimir Putin, and has openly encouraged the Russians to hack into the computer networks of both the Democratic Party and U.S. government agencies. He stirs up hatred against ethnic, religious and other minorities. His supporters put out videos like Big Guns, which shows an ex-Navy Seal firing a high-powered, rapid-fire gun, accompanied by ominous voice-overs about the Democratic Party.

trump-star-of-david-2

He has tweeted a six-pointed star, echoing the Jewish Star of David, positioned next to a photo of Clinton against a backdrop of money (see above). At a recent campaign rally in Florida he has evoked fascist symbolism by asking his supporters to raise their right arms and pledge to vote for him (see top of page).

Trump has been endorsed by David Duke, head of the white-supremacist Klu Klux clan, who said: “voting against Donald Trump … is really treason to your heritage.” He has been endorsed by a variety of far right political leaders across Europe, including Jean-Marie Le Pen, founder of the National Front in France.

trump-lion-guard

In February of this year Trump tweeted a quote used by the Fascist dictator Benito Mussolini: “It is better to live a day as a lion than 100 years as a sheep.” Soon afterwards, a group calling itself the ‘Lion Guard’ – who use the same quote as their tag-line – launched a web site, seeking to organise his supporters into a militia that is “willing to forcefully protect” Trump from people it perceives to be threats. Some may recall that Mussolini rose to power on the strength of his own militia, a group that also claimed to be “defending” the fascist leader from his enemies.

Trump has instructed crowds to “Knock the crap out of them” if they see a protester at his rallies, and pledges that he will pay the legal fees of any of his supporters who is brought to trial on assault charges.

His most ardent supporters call him the “God-Emperor”.

The list goes on.

Things have come to pretty pass when such a man – a neo-fascist – is the Republican Party’s nominee to be the next President of the United States.


Republican Party

The hard core of Trump’s support is white, ill-educated, machismo-fantasist, racist, homophobic and misogynist men.

In their bizarre world – which reflects their sexual insecurities more than anything else – anyone man who opposes Trump is a ‘cuck’ … meaning cuckold, a ‘sissy’ man whose wife/girlfriend/partner is taken sexually and willingly by a more ‘alpha male’.

In their world, women are seen mainly as mere sexual objects to be ogled, groped at will, degraded, demeaned and worse.

In their world, guns and violence are glorified … as are ‘strong men’ like the Russian President, Vladimir Putin.

In their world paranoia, conspiracy theories and extreme gullibility run riot. The dangers of Hurricane Mathew are cast as a conspiracy-hyped threat to scare people into believing in global warming and climate change. If Trump loses the election, this result is already being framed as a rigged vote. And the dwindling support for their brand of idiocy is explained by things like:

“Men aren’t men anymore. Testosterone levels have been dropping, and men are getting weaker every generation. Some people will tell you it’s just because they’re pussies, but the truth is the water is polluted. Look into xenoestrogens.”

And let’s be clear: we’re not talking about a small number of nutcases here. No, we’re talking about millions of US citizens, albeit mostly of the stupid male variety. We’re talking about large, rag-bag collection of bible-thumping religious zealots, tea-party hard-cores, white supremacists, xenophobes, gun fanatics, “southern good ol’ boys”, conspiracy freaks, ‘survivalists’, anti-abortion crusaders, biker gangs, machismo fantasists, homophobes … the list goes on.

The tragedy for the Republican Party is that, bit by bit, it has allowed this motley, insular crew to take over large chunks of their organisation. Even worse, it didn’t even need to pander to these idiots because their votes have nowhere else to go except the box marked ‘abstain’ … and most of these people are too driven to go there.

And by its unreasoning, unbending and extreme hostility to pretty much everything that Obama has tried to do, the Republican Party – through its control of the Senate and the House of Representatives – has created a virtual paralysis of government in the USA for the last eight years and created an atmosphere of bile, division and vitriol that has only further encouraged the extremists out of the woodwork and into the world of Trumpism.

And so came the bitter fruits of their labours: the most unelectable, most unfit-for-President candidate in many, many decades, perhaps ever. This swaggering blow-hard, the puffed-up con artist, the narcissist, the crude, mean-minded man of small wit and large insult … the man who actually brags about his ability to sexually molest women and get away with it.


Tor

“Life in Avalon” is the title of a roughly sketched gift-card to be found in Glastonbury’s shops. It shows children playing against a backdrop of the famous, seven-spiralled Tor, whilst from a nearby house a parent calls: “Merlin, Arthur, Morgana le Fey, Isis, Vishnu, your vegeburgers are ready!”

Browsing visitors, seeing the card, smile fondly at this ‘parody’, or else look baffled. Yet all would be startled to learn that truth, in this place, far outstrips pale fiction. For from the many tribes and clans of Avalonia there looms today, out of the mists and beyond the ken of mortal folk, a greater range of names-fabulous than ever walked abroad in yester-years of myth and legend.

Here, perchance outside St. John’s Church, there is indeed a Merlin.[1] This swaying, red-faced Biker-Prophet harangues passers-by with the fierce, drunk-fired-up wrath of God. Angels of Hell’s variety adorn the denim overlay of his ripped and grimy leather jacket. Suddenly he advances, blue eyes burning, wild hair astray, thrusting his face within inches of a teenage techno-raver who loiters innocently nearby with friends. Merlin, portent with omen, fixes the youth with a penetrating stare, points upwards in dire consequence and booms like a thunder-clap, “You are the truth of all that you fear!”

Judgement pronounced, he stalks off in triumph. The boy-raver, though feigning unconcern to keep his coolth with peers, is greatly disconcerted and may later ponder deeply on these words. But Merlin, the shape-shifter, has shifted to a new location, driven on by …. who can know what?

Vishnudeva also lives here. A nervous, gentle soul, he floats on the sea of life like a jellyfish waiting for the next wave goodbye. A leather amulet with photogenic guru dangles from his neck, perhaps to ward off sharks and other lurking dangers.

And Guinevere was discovered shopping for buns in Jane’s Bakery[2]. A small crowd gathered in the High Street as a pilgrim fell to his knees in homage, clutching at the hem of her dress. “Oh Guinevere, Guinevere,” he declared ardently , “at last I’ve found you!” Being the sister of Henno the Astrologer, she was perhaps more prepared than most for such an encounter, and her native Dutch phlegm flickered but little – it would, after all, make an amusing tale for her boyfriend, a Cornish smuggler.

Jah Glastafari, ever-livin’, thy tribes and clans are legion: Antares of Shambhala, Orion, Burning Spear D’Albion, Jean Morning Star, Odin the Harpist, Moses, Stella Moon, Lizzie Freewoman, Jupiter, Stanley Messenger, Dice George, Pixie, Lol Whitelion, Tree Peacock, Justin Credible and many more besides … all shall make their entrances and exits in this story of the Veil that is Avalon.

These names are not made up for effect – they’re the real names of real people. This is actuality down here: Reality with a capital Ah! So get wise, fools, and wake up to what’s going on in this neck of the woods, lest you want someday to have to deal with an acorn the size of a coconut! And it’s coming your way, watch out. It just happens here first, that’s all.

So don’t say I didn’t warn you. In fact, don’t say anything at all – you’re not equipped for it. And you never will be until you know. And that’s what I’m doing – helping you to know. I don’t expect any thanks for it, but someone’s got to tell the world and I’m the one who’s been stuck with it. Anyhow, you deserve maybe one chance at the truth, I suppose, before it’s too late.

In the Middle East they call it kismet. In Old Norse, the word is wyrd. In the USA they say, “you can’t buck the system”. In India they bow to karma. In England they talk of fate. In Avalonia, on a favoured wall in Silver Street, they have simply spray-painted “Good morning lemmings!”

 

[1] There are in fact two different Merlins – or three if you count the Welsh variant Taliesin, or four if you include middle names, and five if you count dogs. They have not so far – stay lucky – learned of each other’s existence.

[2] Later re-named, under rather mysterious circumstances, ‘Burns the Bread’.


 

Delivery Drone

Forget the prospect of delivery drones falling out of the sky and killing or maiming people. Forget the privacy issues as they fly over your enclosed back garden whilst you perhaps sunbathe naked. Think about the noise …

Many places already have constant background noise from road traffic – road hiss, engines revving and running, horns honking. So do we really want to fill the sky close above our homes with thousands of whirring and buzzing drones?

You need to go to a place like Venice, which has no road traffic except for small area around the train station, to appreciate how deeply wonderful it is to be in a city or town that is free from the constant background noise of motor traffic. People stop and talk to each other much more. You can hear more birdsong, the water lapping against buildings, whispers from across the canals, the sound of laughter from around corners …

Yet, as if the noise from road traffic isn’t enough, some want to fill the very air above our heads with noise – droning noise you can’t escape from, whirring noise overhead to add to the noise that’s already down at ground level.

We already have rising stress levels … and rising levels of psychological and emotional ill-health. Will society really be so stupid as to allow it’s fraying sensibilities to be further degraded and invaded by flying delivery drones?

Don’t let anyone tell you it would be “progress”. Or if it is “progress”, then it’s the same kind of “progress” that’s brought us nuclear waste and seas clogged up with plastic.

And if it is “progress”, then it’s progress on the road to hell.


Turkey Flag

Following the recent ‘coup attempt’, President Erdogan, who won the presidential election by virtue of his governing party taking state control of much of the Turkish media, is now moving to undermine the other essential pillars of democracy, most notably an independent judiciary.

More than 60,000 people have been detained, dismissed or suspended from their jobs. These include nearly 3,000 judges (many of whom will no doubt be replaced by Erdogan supporters), with 140 arrest warrants issued against members of Turkey’s Supreme Court and the vice-president of the Constitutional Court. And a formal ‘state of emergency’ has been declared, which allows the president and cabinet to bypass parliament when drafting new laws and to restrict or suspend rights and freedoms. Already it’s been decreed that people can be detained without trial for up to 30 days.

Meanwhile, Erdogan’s Islamist supporters have been out on the streets chanting “God is Great” … the ill-omened cry we’ve heard so often over the years from a range of Islamic fundamentalists in a variety of countries.

No doubt these supporters were encouraged some years earlier, when, prior to his becoming President (and three years before he became Prime Minister) Erdogan publicly read a nationalist poem including the lines:

“The mosques are our barracks, the domes our helmets, the minarets our bayonets and the faithful our soldiers.”

The ‘coup-attempt’ was highly (and suspiciously) convenient for Erdogan, giving him the excuse he’s been waiting for to further undermine and weaken his political opponents. The resultant purge has so far affected the police, schools, the judiciary, the armed forces and the provinces. Using lists that were clearly pre-prepared (the purge began instantaneously, well before any investigation could have possibly identified such extensive numbers of people), nearly 3,000 judges have been suspended, whilst 6,000 members of the military (including more than 100 generals and admirals) were arrested and more than 3,000 dismissed. Around 8,000 police officers have been sacked, along with nearly 9,000 interior ministry staff and some provincial governors.

Parts of the media – those that were not already under state control – are also being targeted. So far, 142 media outlets have been shut down, including 16 TV channels, 23 radio stations, 45 newspapers, 29 publishers, 15 magazines and 3 news agencies. Detention warrants Larbeen issued for 89 journalists and reporters.

The ‘purge’ goes further still. More than 1,200 associations have been shut down, along with 19 trade unions and 35 medical institutes. Even more ominously, the government has closed 19 universities and more than 1,000 schools. It has also suspended over 15,000 education staff, with more than 1,500 university deans ordered to resign and the licences revoked of 21,000 teachers working at private institutions.

All in all we may justifiably surmise that what is essentially happening is the arrest, dismissal or suspension of those known to be (or suspected of being) politically opposed to Erdogan. No doubt there are more detentions and dismissals to come. Suddenly, in today’s Turkey, political opposition to the government is edging towards being branded a crime.

It’s obvious that Erdogan is a man who doesn’t believe in ruling on behalf of all the Turkish people, but only on behalf of those who (supposedly) elected him as President. In this he makes the most fundamental mistake of all concerning democracy, believing it instead to be a battle for the right to supress those who ‘lost’ the election.

Meanwhile he sits in his new presidential palace – bigger than the White House or the Kremlin and costing many hundreds of millions of pounds – and contemplates bringing back the death penalty.

Looking at the wider picture, Turkey can no longer be considered anything even close to being a reliable member of NATO – and indeed is now in serious breach of one of NATO’s stated fundamental objectives, namely to promote democratic values. And the prospect of Turkey being allowed to join the European Union is now further away than ever – decades away at least.

The sad truth is that it’s now unlikely that any truly democratic election will ever be permitted in Turkey whilst Erdogan and his fellow Islamists remain in power: state control of the media and other agencies vital for democracy will see to that.

So unfortunately, and unless the liberal and secular peoples of Turkey can somehow oust Erdogan from power, Turkey will continue its rapid slide towards an Islamic dictatorship.


TrolleyI arrived at the supermarket checkout with a fully-laden trolley. “Would you like a bag?”, said the young lad on duty.

I stared at him incredulously for a moment, then smiled warmly and replied sweetly. “No thanks, I’m going to stuff it all into my trouser pockets.”

“Oh”, he said, sounding a tad uncertain.

“Or failing that”, I continued in the same calm and reasonable voice, “I could balance it all on my head and then shimmy my way out across the car park”.

“Oh”, he said again, looking distinctly uneasy now, eyes flicking down below the counter, where I suspected a panic-button might be hidden.

“Yes”, I mused, rubbing my chin thoughtfully, “the East African balance-technique will probably be best for supermarket stuff. And I’ve been practising it for weeks in front of a mirror, using tins, packets, jars and bottles from my kitchen. Twenty-eight items is my record so far … but all without walking of course.”

“Oh”, he said, nervously glancing to his left and right, no doubt hoping to see an approaching security guard.

Warming to my theme, I pressed on. “I’ve really been looking forward to putting all those hard practice hours to work … doing it for real, in a real supermarket, out here in the real world.”

“Oh”, he said once more.

But there was no stopping me now. “Yes indeed. And if the swaying column of foodstuffs does somehow come crashing down and injure another customer, well, the supermarket’s insurance will cover all that … won’t it?”

“Umm, I err, umm … I’m not sure if …”

“So”, I said briskly, rubbing my hands together, “if you could just help me with placing the items one by one on my head, we can get started.”

“Umm, well, err, I’m not sure if …”

“It’s OK”, I said, “because when we get to the last few items I can kneel on the floor, and you can climb up onto the checkout counter, and that way I’m pretty sure you’ll be able to finish off stacking them on my head.”

“Umm, well, err … I don’t think …”

“OK, never mind”, I said, conscious of the growing rumblings of discontent from the long queue of customers behind me and realising it was time to end this exchange.

And so, sighing deeply, I lavishly indicated the trolley’s contents and then pointed extravagantly to the sheaf of bags on his counter, saying, “Alright, yes, I would indeed like – not to say need – a bag. Several in fact.”

Well, I thought, onwards if not upwards.

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