a maze of words leading to …?

Posts tagged ‘current affairs’

Trump – Moscow’s puppet?

Trump Puppet

If Moscow does not actually have any blackmail material on Trump – and if he is not thus a puppet of Russia – then he’s not doing a very good job of persuading us otherwise.

Consider … what would Russia like to see? Probably the following for starters:

  • A further breakup of the European Union (EU).
  • Widening divisions between the ‘Western’ democracies.
  • Trade wars between the USA and its allies and neighbours.
  • A return of Russia to G7 membership.

What actions has Trump taken?

  • Encouraged those EU members who either will be leaving (the United Kingdom) or are growing restless about staying. His actions include openly supporting far-right nationalist parties in Europe – especially those in Russia’s former sphere of influence – who want to leave the EU.
  • Sparked an endless series of rows and divisions with his virtually all of America’s allies and their political leaders.
  • Begun trade wars with the EU, Canada, Mexico and others.
  • Recommended that Russia be re-admitted to the G7 … regardless of their invasion of Eastern Ukraine, their annexation of Crimea, their assassination of journalists and opposition figures, their shooting down of a civilian airliner and their use of nerve agents in attempted murders on the streets of Britain.

All in all, we see a pretty close match between what Russia would want and what Trump is seeking to do.

And the US intelligence agencies have already unanimously concluded that Russia did interfere in the presidential election, with the aim of getting Trump elected. This is not Trump’s endlessly repeated claim of ‘fake news’ – this is hard fact: the conclusion of every single US intelligence agency.

Oh, and what else might Russia like to see? That’s easy: a ‘war’ between the US President and his own intelligence agencies. Well, they’ve certainly got that.

And they’ve got an American president who goes around sowing division, distrust and hostility both within the USA and across the wider ‘western’ world.

Another day, another series of insults tweeted to all and sundry … and another round of ‘fake news’ claims to disguise it all.

Vladimir Putin and the gangster-state of Russia – the true masters of fake news – must be laughing all the way to the many banks they’ve plundered.

America (Alt-Right) First

God-Emperor 2   Alt-right

In America First we saw how Donald Trump was working to undermine public confidence in three of the essential pillars of American democracy:

  • an independent judiciary
  • the press & media
  • the voting system

And all this, it was suggested, with a view to turning America into a neo-fascist state: a dictatorship and personality cult centred on the man who described himself (in a phone conversation with the Australian Prime Minister) as “the world’s greatest person”.

He’s since begun to undermine an additional pillar of democracy: Congress itself has now become a central target in his campaign to ‘drain the swamp’.

Draining the swamp:

In July (2017) Trump said that Republican senators “look like fools” (for not doing away with the legislative filibuster). In August he blamed the Republican-controlled Congress for worsening relations with Russia, tweeting: “You can thank Congress, the same people who can’t even give us HCare!” (referring to the failed attempts to repeal and replace the so-called ‘Obamacare’ health policies).

Now he’s taken to targeting individual Republican Senators who have dared to criticise him. Take Senator Jeff Flake, for example, who is seeking re-election but facing a challenger in the primary selection process. Trump is backing the challenger, tweeting: “Great to see that Dr. Kelli Ward is running against Flake Jeff Flake, who is WEAK on borders, crime and a non-factor in Senate … He’s toxic!”

His attacks on elected Republicans go much wider: Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell, House Speaker Paul Ryan and Senators Lindsey Graham, John McCain, Lisa Murkowski, Susan Collins, Dean Heller and Bob Corker … all been targets for Trump’s ire in recent weeks and months.

All this serves a three-fold purpose: to undermine public confidence in Congress as an institution, to intimidate other Republican members of Congress into avoiding further critical comment; and to try and replace those critics who refuse to be cowed with more pliant Republicans crafted in his own image. (more…)

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.


The Party’s Over

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.


The supporters of Donald Trump are venting their anger at a Republican party “establishment” which they feel has consistently let them down and betrayed them. But in supporting Trump they show no understanding that the Republican leadership has mostly been forced to “betray” them because the causes that they espouse find little echo amongst the wider electorate and are thus heavy political liabilities when it comes to electing a president.

Yet Trumperites live in denial, persisting with the delusion that they are the “silent majority”.

But hey, here’s some breaking news for such folk: in reality you are nothing but a loud, aggressive and unpleasant minority. And in truth the American people will never elect Trump – or anyone like him – to the office of President … because they know that such bigoted blowhards are quite simply not fit for office.

So go ahead, support the ignorance, bluster and deliberate outrageousness of Trump. Cheer his racist comments. Clap heartily as he continues to hurl insults left, right and centre. Stamp your feet in approval as Trump makes ridiculous, ill-informed, abusive comments and proposes absurd and impossible policies – building a wall along the entire Mexican border being just one of the less outlandish.

And enjoy your fifteen minutes of exultation as you effectively destroy the Republican Party from within … because you’ll have another 4 long years in the wilderness to reflect on your blinkered stupidity when Hillary Clinton is sworn into office roughly a year from now.

One day, Republican supporters will come to understand that bible-thumping doesn’t cut it, that homophobia isn’t popular, that focusing narrowly on anti-abortion campaigns simply alienates most women, and that bashing Muslims and Hispanics merely loses them most of the Muslim and Hispanic vote.

One day Republican supporters will come to understand that the politics of hate, bigotry and division don’t win presidential elections in the 21st century.

One day ….

Let’s Buy the Afghan Opium Crop

Opium Poppy Farmers Afghanistan


A recent BBC news story:

“Opium poppy cultivation in Afghanistan hit record levels in 2013 despite counter-narcotics efforts by Washington, a US report says.

The special inspector general for Afghanistan reconstruction said the US had spent $7.6bn (£4.72bn) over 13 years trying to eradicate the plant.

A number of agencies gave to the funds aimed at supporting narcotics officers and helping farmers change livelihoods.

Despite this, Afghanistan grew 209,000 hectares of the plant in 2013.

A UN body says the value of this crop was nearly $3bn (£1.86bn), up 50% from 2012.”

So here’s a thought: instead of spending tons of money on failing to stop cultivation of the opium poppy in Afghanistan, why don’t ‘western’ governments instead buy that same opium crop from the Afghani farmers? The entire crop, every year.


Trapped in hell

Islamic State1  Islamic State2

A number of naive Muslim teenagers and young men (and it is mostly men) have been lured into going to fight for the so-called ‘Islamic State’ (IS). They do so partly because it seems exciting, adventurous and rebellious. It also promises to give them the clear self-identity that many want and otherwise lack. And of course they naively swallow the extremist propaganda and end up mistaking it for Islamic teaching.

But we can well imagine that for many this all changes soon after they arrive in Syria or Iraq and experience first hand the reality of the IS, with its mass murders, its rapes and enslavements, its crucifixions and beheadings, its soulless, pathological and puritanical culture. Such kids, having grown up in (say) 21st century Paris or London or New York, are suddenly plunged into a world of medieval attitudes and brutality, where even music and dancing is forbidden and the slightest hint of opposition will likely get you killed real quick and maybe real painfully.

But by then it’s too late and there is no escape, no way out of the hell they’ve arrived in. For where else can they now go? They can hardly just walk towards the front lines of Iraqi or Syrian soldiers (or those of the Kurdish peshmerga), where being shot (or worse) would be the likely outcome. And they can’t renounce their commitment to the IS for fear of being executed as an ‘apostate’ or traitor.

Even if they managed to escape, a long prison sentence for terrorism offences is likely all that awaits them in their home country.

We can say that “they themselves made this bed and now they must sleep in it” … and of course this has a degree of truth. But we can also doubt that most of them truly knew beforehand what they were getting themselves into … before the ‘adventure’ and apparent glamour gave way to a nightmarish hell.



‘Abstract’, from the Latin abstractus, meaning “drawn away, detached”.

In some concepts, god is seen as immanent – meaning inside and permeating through everything. This god would agree with the saying “don’t judge someone until you’ve walked a mile in their shoes” … because an immanent god is a part of – rather than apart from – the person walking that mile. And more, an immanent god is part of everyone met on that road, part of the shoes in which the mile is walked and part of the road itself.

This is very different from Christian, Judaic and Islamic theology for example, where God is an abstraction, largely removed from the world. ‘He’ sits outside of his creation, the divine separated out from the mundane. And when we die this detached god will apparently judge us, deciding whether or not we have met his externally set standards.

Yet beyond abstract concepts of god, our world is currently dominated by the abstract in many other ways – the scientific world-view for instance. This values detachment and ‘objectivity’ … thus (for instance) deeming experimentation on animals to be acceptable, even for trivial purposes like the testing of cosmetics.

Our world is also dominated by centralised systems of government … detached systems in which the regions and localities (and individual people) become largely abstractions that can thus be herded about and socially engineered with little regard for their actual well-being or best interests.

Vice-versa,  each central government becomes largely a remote abstraction to most of the people that live under it, not least because they have little or no power over that government (nor any real connection to it) aside from – if they are lucky – a single vote once every 4 or 5 years to choose one mass-scale party over another of similar flavour.


A House of All-Sorts

House of Lords

Forget all the tinkering around the edges – abolition of hereditary peerages etc. When it comes to reforming the House Of Lords, go for the real deal instead: a House of All-Sorts.

Picture all these sitting together on the red leather benches: a Girl Guide, an Imam, an angler, a plumber, a doctor, a footballer, a novelist, a taxi driver, a teacher, a chef, a cleaner, a chess nut, all sitting next to a …….. you can fill-in-the-blank(s). Currently there are 834 seats that we could fill in this imaginative, diverse and far more representative way. So come in from out of the cold all you twitchers and fell-runners and flower-arrangers. (more…)

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