Lies, Damn Lies and Alternative Facts

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It would be easy to do a character assassination on this man – who will only be referred to as 45, his position in the succession of Presidents. What that hides is the more important job of actually looking at his actions and why as non- Americans we have a job to do.

45’s actions so far have been to appease his core supporters – to show those who voted for him that he was serious about the things he said. The truth is far scarier in that he doesn’t actually know what he is doing, does not have the support of his party and is already in danger of ignoring the principles that created the USA in the constitution.

While his Executive orders can always be overturned in the Senate, House of Representatives and a half decent court of law the are still having impacts on the people of America and those who visit and work there. So what has he actually done and how can we help stop them from this side of the Atlantic?

Border Security is the big one: Building that wall, tightening all borders, increasing officials, banning travel from seven mainly Muslim countries and stopping refugees from entering the country. This is the move that has finally sparked people to life and to take to the streets and online to form petitions of protest. The UK petition on the Government website to remove the State Visit privileges broke through the million mark on Monday morning and only looks like continuing to climb. In the US the people are taking to the streets in protest and surrounding airports and ports to try to help the causes of those trying to return or enter the country.

What difference can we make? We can campaign to try to do more to help refugees around the world – lead by example and take in more ourselves. Utterly condemn the position of the US and work with the UN and other organisations to help these people being forced from their home lands with shelter, food and safety.

This alongside the action to remove women’s health care support when an organisation deals with abortion shows the pure callousness of 45 and his administration. He proclaims he is trying to put America First (an anti-Semitic slogan of the 1930s) but he is damaging America’s standing in the world and actually setting them up for a bigger fall and placing a larger target on themselves.

The claim to be championing the working and forgotten in America is undermined by his actions on weakening Obamacare and the U-Turn on the two pipelines. He is damaging the health of the nation in so many ways through these two actions and they will both in turn damage the economy. Add to that the freezing of hiring for Federal jobs and you wonder if he really understands anything about the job. (A rhetorical point if there ever was one!)

My concern as a citizen of the UK is that we are not doing enough to speak up and out about these actions. We could be come a strong leader and rally voices from across Europe and the wider world in challenging these moves. But we won’t because Theresa May’s thirst for Brexit is stopping her from showing strength and leadership. She is scared to go toe to toe with 45 because we might not get a trade deal. Here’s an idea – forget the referendum and Brexit. Go to the country and explain that despite the narrow victory for leaving the change of situation in the US means that we would be in a poor position were we to leave just now.

Also she had a platform to criticise 45 whilst in front of the world’s press last week – and I’m not thinking of “Love Actually” when I write this. If she truly is a strong female, daughter vicar then a graceful speech about respect for women, their bodies and their rights was needed. Respect for faith and religion from peaceful people should have been represented. The need to open our arms to those we are bombing out of house and home is essential and our duty as citizens of the world to ensure the planet is safe for generations to come. Instead we had a simpering, apologetic, pandering, sycophantic congratuwank of a man who deserves nothing but derision.

May is not the only one that could be doing this. Jeremy Corbyn’s lack of backbone on this issue is embarrassing. He has a platform that could, alongside the SNP and Lib Dems, pull in Tory MPs to enforce that we look again at the Brexit issue once things settle down. We have a choice here – 45 or Europe. That’s not a choice, it’s simple. Our biggest market is on our doorstep and to leave that and make deals with countries like the US, Turkey, China – all of which are not aligned to us in terms of vales – would be financial suicide. As would potentially opening our NHS and other civil services to international privatization.

We cannot let 45 dictate the future of this country, let alone damage his own. To leave Europe now means we’re desperate for a deal, which as “Art of the Deal” ghostwriter makes clear is the best time to get what you want – 45 has the upper hand.

We have to stand up to him and we have to support others who do the same in a peaceful manner. Picking up weapons, threatening behaviour and physical violence is not the best way forward right now as that is sinking to 45’s level. Instead we need to support the media in reporting facts; good investigative journalism is key to bringing him and his administration down to earth. We must also stand up with those of different creeds and colours and show they deserve respect and equality across society. We need to be articulate, intelligent and factual.

We also need to use humour and language because he cannot match us here either. His skin is at its thinnest when it comes to his image. Tease his ego, ridicule his medieval stances on sex, race, religion and gay rights, hold up a mirror to the monstrosity and reveal him for what he truly is – ignorant.

You won’t beat him in a physical fight, but in a war of words, a battle of wits and a united international voice he can be stopped. But this has to happen now before things get worse. At the moment there is cowardice and appeasement from some in the international community – don’t let the UK be one of those who is afraid to speak up because of a trade deal.

JD

The Power of Apathy

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There’s only been one topic of conversation in the classroom since Tuesday’s US Election – “What do you think of Trump becoming President?” And rather than rant, rave and have a go at the dusty pumpkin dildo I have given them all this talk which I feel is worth sharing with everyone.

This is your fault. Not directly but you are part of the problem. If I ever ask you about your opinions on politics you laugh and say you don’t watch the news or read newspapers but you did see something funny on Facebook about Trump. Some of you can’t even tell me the name of the Prime Minister or Chancellor. And I’m aware that this has always been true to a point with teenagers – but the difference now is that apathy has grown up with the last couple of generations and we face Brexit and a Trump presidency as a result.

We have a sway of people who would rather vote for Ed Balls on Strictly Come Dancing than for Ed Balls as a politician. From the comfort of our home we can be armchair pundits on events in the world and vote for pretty much anything by a tap, swipe or email address. We can sign petitions and share memes on things we feel strongly about from politics but actually go out and vote? No thanks – what’s the point?

The point is this apathy and “What difference will it make?” attitude is perfectly shown by this week’s election in America and the Brexit vote. Not only were millions of people sitting at home not bothering to vote but when you look at the overall figures of who could have voted and the outcomes the truth becomes painfully real.

In the EU vote:

UK Electorate eligible to vote – 46,501,241

Voted to Leave – 17,410,742

Voted to Remain – 16,141,241

Spoiled Ballots – 26,033

Did not vote – 12,949,258

In the US Election:

US Electorate eligible to vote – 231,000,000

Trump – 60,071,650

Clinton – 60,467,245

Others – 6,180,868

Did not vote – 104,280,237

Anyone who knows me will tell you I’m no maths whizz but these stats show two things: Brexit was only voted for by 37.4% of the UK and only 26% of Americans voted for Trump. So they didn’t carry the day; it wasn’t a landslide victory and despite what politicians tell you it is not the will of the people – it’s the will of those who voted for whatever they are advocating.

I know this is common sense, and I’m also aware many will be shouting at me that this is how democracy works and not voting is still taking a stand. That’s where I call bullshit.

Not voting, not caring enough to put a cross in a box, pull a lever, press a button is a disgrace. Today we celebrated those who have given their lives so we can be free to enjoy democracy and our communal view is gradually becoming “So what?”

I’ll tell you what – look at your payslip: tax, National Insurance and pension payments. Look at your kids – schools, child benefit, tax credits. Look outside; roads, street lights, police. It’s not difficult to understand that everything we do is driven by politics and if we don’t care or can’t be bothered then when the police numbers drop and the local A&E shuts and the street lights are put out at night to save money and your kid’s school is threatened with closure don’t you dare suddenly decide to get involved, because you’re too late.

You should have been paying attention and shouting when the politicians at local, national and international level were standing with a manifesto on which they wanted your votes. When they take office don’t just sit there and accept that life has to be this way – challenge the status quo or a decision you think is unfair or unjust. We have become lazy and indifferent.

Why?

Because they don’t listen to us? No probably not to the dozen people who took to the streets or the hundred thousand who signed an online petition. Why would they. But if you fill their inbox and postbox with questions and requests for information and clarification then they are truly accountable. Just because they are elected doesn’t mean for one minute they are finished with us.

That’s the attitude we seem to have now. Not good enough.

If there is a vote coming up you need to ensure your MP, MSP or MEP knows your views – that’s their job to represent you, even if you didn’t vote for them.

It is a self-fulfilling prophecy to be apathetic about something as important as politics because if you don’t care, then why should the politicians? They know they don’t have to turn up to debates or speeches if you are never going to check/ask/need something from that decision.

Brexit and Trump happened because people felt they had something to vote for – a voice that echoed theirs. Yes, part of the problem with Brexit is it’s hard to stir up passion for the status quo but you will lose it if you don’t stand up and say something when it really matters. And yes Clinton wasn’t the most palatable candidate we’ve ever seen for the Democrats but with the choice they had surely it wasn’t beyond the wit of the more than one hundred million voters to make sure it wasn’t The Donald.

I look at the current situation in politics and wonder why our leader of the free world is a reality TV star with no experience. I see our Foreign Secretary in the UK as that idiot that was funny (for the wrong reasons) on Have I Got News For You. I see 1960s cartoon character Nigel Farage leading the charge for Brexit and befriending the day-glow fucktrumpet billionaire.

Is this what we have become? A world who will only vote for the same people we can vote for on TV, tweet from our smartphones or Facebook Friend? If it is then we need a new revolution where policy matters. Where people matter – not frivolous personalities and stupid soundbites. Where policy matters – not redundant rhetoric or quiz show appearances.

We need to stop this cycle of apathy because you just need to see how fucked up 2016 has been – and we caused that. You and Me. Sharing a picture on FB is not enough. Setting up or signing an online petition is not enough. We need to step away from the virtual world and start living in the real world again where there are real dangers and issues.

The rise of the KKK. The need for the hashtag BlackLivesMatter in 2016. The amount of Food Banks in the developed world. The wars in Syria and Yemen and Iraq and Afghanistan. The refugee crisis in Europe and Africa and the Middle East. The gap between Rich & Poor expanding like never before.

I know, I see the irony of me putting this on a blog. I’m as guilty as those I’m complaining about in many ways. But in others I’m not. I always vote. ALWAYS. For local, Scottish, UK, EU elections or referendums. They matter. They really matter and will have an impact on your life. I joined a political party for the first time this year. not because I agree with everything they say, but because i believe in the core values and want to help shape the ideas they produce. I want my kids to grow up in a country and on a planet that gives a fuck.

If you are still apathetic then I don’t know how else I can convince you. But when you see the images of Russia moving further into Ukraine; see more violence against those who have emigrated to our country; see the dismantling of the only healthcare many in the us have; the images of the melting ice caps and you shrug your shoulders – then you deserve what you get.

JD

Dear America

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How’s the head? Bet it’s a bit sore today! What were you like yesterday with all that craziness? I hate to be the one to tell you, but you may have drunk dialled your boss last night and told them to fuck off.

You’ve fucked up.

You decided to stick it to “The Man” without realising that Donald Trump is the very epitome of “The Man”. Now you have four years of Cinnamon Hitler to foist upon the world. Thanks for that.

Your supporters want you to bring back prosperity and opportunity when we all know that the economy is finely balanced. Improve infrastructure, roads, bridges, schools, veterans’ care, the military, colleges, business, commerce, Wall Street, international trade all need money and where will you find that? In the same ledgers that underline your numerous bankruptcies?

Trump isn’t the answer – unless the question is what would a Wotsit look like if it had athlete’s foot? He won’t be able to wave a magic wand and reopen industries or factories or Motortown.

He wants to get rid of Obamacare. He wants to tear up the Climate Change agreement from Paris 2015. He wants to roll back decisions on Abortions. He wants to “unpick” – his words – the work Obama did in his 8 years. Where were we eight years ago? In the worst economic crisis for a century.

He won’t solve the issues caused by immigration – if they were ever “solvable” don’t you think another country in the world would have found a way to do it fairly and humanely already? The issues you moan about – of people coming to America to build a life – if the very thing you were built upon. Your culture is a rich tapestry of different voices, ideas, inventions, people, backgrounds. But after over five centuries you think a wall is the “solution”?

He thinks a good guy with a gun can sort out a bad guy with a gun. He wants to introduce “Extreme Vetting” for anyone coming into the country and a temporary ban on all Muslims – all 1.6 billion –  until we can “work out” the problems. He thinks mocking disabled people in public is okay.

But you know what is the worst thing about this decision you have made? You’ve not just told Washington to fuck off, you’ve told the rest of the world to as well.

You’ve elected a man who is a racist who doesn’t like his neighbours – yet many immigrants voted for him.

You’ve elected a man who is a fascist – he doesn’t even know the first amendment’s provision that no-one can be persecuted for their religious beliefs – yet many muslims voted for him.

You’ve elected a man who only views woman as objects for looking or grabbing at – yet women voted for him.

My generation and many before have looked up to you. No more. The idea of the American Dream is in the heart of your culture, now that dream that anyone could become President has been shown to be true – looks like you got what you wished for.

The dream has been tarnished for decades – even centuries. From John Steinbeck to Harper Lee, Ernest Hemingway to Mark Twain we know it’s never been perfect, but it’s been a nice idea. Now it’s just shattered. You decided that fear was more powerful and palatable than hope. That by pointing out all the negatives around you and making you think they were all forced on you by politicians you fell for the oldest trick in the book: The politics of fear.

You told your political elite what you thought of them. I could do the same to you right now because I’m furious that you would be so small-minded as to vote for him.

But instead I’ll say this:

You had the chance to stop things before they got out of hand. You chose to sit and laugh at the silly man with the silly hair who said silly things. Now you’ve just put him in charge of the former head of the free world.

You haven’t started on the road to making America great again you’ve done the exact opposite. You are now a joke, a dangerous one, but a joke nonetheless. The respect other countries had for you will now be diminished.

You decided that because Hillary Clinton was a woman she couldn’t win. She had the experience, she’d done the time, she’d devoted her life to serving her country – even putting that on the back burner to support her husband’s Presidency. But she made a couple of mistakes and she has a vagina so Trump trumps her. Around the world we are collectively shaking our heads at your judgement.

You are about to enter one of the most insular periods in your history and that will lead to poor judgement on foreign policy, risk terrorism both homegrown and from ISIS, and begin the alienation from the world. Putting America first under Trump isn’t a positive thing – he’s doing it at the price of ignoring all others. It will also mean your economy will be damaged. Already markets are uncertain and the talk of ripping up trade partnerships is a huge concern.

And you may ask how I can say all this with any kind of certainty?

Simple – we did the same thing in June with Brexit and look at where we are now. Difference is our decision has a long way to go and can still be stopped. You just gambled everything on orange and the betting has closed. You lost and so did we.

JD

Trump: It’s not funny anymore

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We all laughed when the human sized, porridge filled, ball bag with thatched roof put himself forward as a potential candidate for Republican nominee for the Presidency. Look at the buffoon! He says silly things and is racist in a grandparent kind of way. We guffawed at his homophobia, xenophobia and general idiocy – nobody will take him seriously. He’s now the front-runner and there doesn’t seem to be anyone who can catch him. We spent too much time laughing and forgot that this was the country that voted for George W Bush. The joke’s not funny anymore.

He is a complete c*nt of a man – but we shouldn’t have underestimated him; he never does. He is the stereotypical brash New Yorker who believes and creates his own hype. From his numerous public appearances, reality shows, interviews and tawdry buildings this is a man with a track record of failure. He couldn’t sell vodka, set up a University that one-third of the people demanded a refund from, had an airline that never took off, started a mortgage company at the start of the housing downturn ten years ago, three times married, casinos that closed. And now he thinks he can run a country?

Maybe I’m being unfair here – him being deluded and full of fuckwittery is not the problem, it’s the people of America who believe his rhetoric and lies. There are alternatives in the Republican line up but for some reason he is a beacon for the disaffected in the US. When you look at Obama’s record with jobs and finance he has really turned things round in the last eight years but it’s not quite being felt at the grassroots  of America – this makes those people pliable and Trump is exploiting that fact.

If someone could show them a sensible alternative to this tirade of negativity would that work? No I don’t think it would. Sadly the language and tone of the “live wire” Trump is entertainment for politics that we haven’t seen in the US for many a year – and entertainment plus biased news broadcasters becomes a news editor’s dream. Those soundbites, call and answer about who is “paying for the wall”, having people who disagree with him thrown out of his rallies is a wet dream to an editor.

Rubio has worked this out and is now joining in – where once he discussed the topics that really matter he now realizes that by being rude and taking a pop at “The Donald” he will share that spotlight. When was the last time you saw any real coverage of the Democrats on TV or on your Facebook feed? Sanders and Clinton are discussing the issues that will directly impact on the ordinary, hard-working Americans and beyond with their takes on International matters. Their discussions are not only more important, but the content is actually more radical that anything Trump has to offer – look at Sanders opinions on the economy and Pharms, or both of their views on guns, and you’ll discover a very different and more interesting politic at work.

Many in the media and politics don’t see Trump making it to the White House – very rarely has an “extreme” candidate won at the polls as the Americans ultimately usually do the right thing. But six months ago we all wrote Trump off altogether. Turn out for the Republicans is significantly up in these recent votes; Democrats figures are down. Is hoping and expecting the right result enough – or should the rest of the world speak up about this because of the impact he would have to diplomatic issues across the globe? I’m not sure those who Trump himself knows will vote for him regardless (he even said that he could shoot someone dead on 5th Ave in NY and he would still be a popular) would listen.

One of our best hopes is not attacking Trump or his supporters, but stifling his voice in the wider media. Stop reporting and sharing his nasty rhetoric and his platform automatically becomes smaller. Give voice and attention to the Democrats and the real issues the USA faces. The Democrats should sort themselves out now and stop the votes, just go with Clinton as Presidential candidate and Sanders as VP – I don’t see that failing as the two together would be a really popular ticket. Those who dislike one loves the other – win win.

The other approach the media need to take is hammer Trump on policy detail. Let’s hear his thought out policies and not just the repetitive tubthumping bile. Look at how he struggled just with the KKK questioning, he couldn’t answer the questions and dodged the issue – start doing that with his policies, pull them apart and show him up for the fraud he is. There is only so much that he can bluster his way out of – eventually if you land enough hits the truth will be revealed.

So how do we beat Trump? And I do mean we because it will impact on us all if he becomes the next President. I have the image of the end of the Wizard of Oz in mind where the Wizard is revealed to be mortal and not at all the intimidating force he initially appears to be. Chip away at this smoke and mirrors and expose the man behind it all, and by revealing him perhaps once and for all dispose of him.

JD

Trump lays his cards on the table

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Finally someone has said it! Donald “The Don” Trump has said what we’re all thinking – let’s keep religions and religious people in their countries of origin and stop this epidemic of belief spread around the world causing conflict and death everywhere it goes.

So let’s round up the Muslims, the Jews and most importantly the Christians and return them to whence the came. Obviously in the UK the English would be stuck with Protestants and that would see a huge increase in population but not to worry – it’s the only way forward. The Vatican may need to build a wee extension to accommodate the Catholics from around the world but they can give themselves planning permission. The Donald has spoken, and we were listening.

Many would question the idea, but let’s think carefully about it – it means that Trump has to leave America and the US would be run by the Native American tribes again. Most of the UK would become Pagan again which would be a hoot with Celtic traditions re-emerging.

And to ensure all was done properly we would all get ID cards with our beliefs marked on them. This means the Jedis would return home to Barsoom. The great thing about the model Trump puts forward to ensure “We know what’s going on” is that once we’re all back with our own kind we won’t complain or have any issues at all as we will live side-by-side with fellow believers.

What more harmonious model can you imagine – if we all stick to our own faith war would stop overnight. Yes we’d need to break out the rulers and reassign the borders because some countries couldn’t with the new levels of population, but that also helps us because you will have a country that fits your needs and not one created for fatuous historical reasons such as previous wars and treaties.

We’d not have any friction because halal and kosher meat would be readily available for the people of that country. Christians can drink themselves silly and eat bacon rolls without any threat of a dirty look again. Atheists would need to find a country to congregate in (ironically!) and I would suggest Australia with Agnostics getting New Zealand. That way they would be removed from all the religions in Europe and the Middle East.

Perhaps tying this idea into his other landmark one – that the internet should be closed down (and he’d get Bill Gates to do that for him of course). By doing so he could ensure we never hear about each other ever again. Peace would ensue and finally swimsuit models everywhere would have their greatest wish.

Trump is such a visionary, that I suggest that he becomes the new President of Christendonia and can lead all the believers to the promised land by parting the waters just like he parts his hair for masses to walk into the future.

Donald you truly are a genius. You’re hired!

The Editor

Stop the world, I want to get off

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We have Jews burning Palestinians alive in their homes, a hypocrite in charge in Israel condemning the actions of Jewish extremists whilst ignoring the ongoing encroachment of settlements which are illegal under international law. At the same time the right in America continue to support Netanyahu regardless of his actions – the same right that have attempted on more than forty occasions to reverse Obamacare which has allowed over 60 million people in the US access affordable healthcare.

It is also the right that is presenting fifty shades of mental by having Trump as a Republican candidate for President, a man who may be good at business but knows fuck-all about diplomacy, decency or haircuts. If you consider that it is the US approach to foreign policy that has created ISIS then Trump can only make things worse. Mind you if you look at the strange combinations of groups fighting each other with the same country on opposite sides in some battles as they try to contain the terrorists.

The fallout from these wars and civil wars is causing mass emigration and asylum seekers to escape the Middle East and North Africa. There are thousands on the other side of the English Channel trying to find their way across. It’s a humanitarian disaster. Add in the typical French response of burning things then it’s a complete disaster. Also in Europe there is the ongoing attack on Greece by a German led group of bullies forcing them to do unknown damage long-term to the Greek people and the national finances. Austerity only works to a point.

Ask Tony Blair how to balance these things when he accepted a payment of £400,000 for a speech on world poverty and hunger recently. He also believes that we still want to hear from him as he offered his tuppence worth on the Labour Leadership – a race that looks increasingly likely to be won by Jeremy Corbyn. Everyone seems scared of him – probably because he has a vision, values and ideas that mark him and potentially the party out as different from the others – at last! A fresh pair of eyes on the national picture could be a good thing or could cause mayhem, but then what’s worse than the Tories doing as they please while Harriet Harman loses her backbone? The BBC under threat, welfare cuts to those most in need and tax benefits removed from the lowest paid.

Finally there’s my own world which is still far from settled. This week I found myself in a hospice for my job – removing a chair which was of no use to the patient. As I walked through the building and saw all these poor individuals in long-term care or end of life care I wondered why we make a lot of noise about a lion shot in Africa but on our doorstep hundreds, if not thousands of people are forced to live in incapacitated states from which they will never recover. Young and old side by side suffering from life limiting illnesses – to quote my mum “You wouldn’t let an animal suffer like that”.

We live in a world where money and power trumps all, if you excuse the pun. We turn a blind eye to the asylum seekers, the poachers, the dying, the poor, the poverty-stricken and the disabled. We are more angry that a dentist shot a lion that we are of the 30,000 people just 26 miles across the water are looking to come here for safe haven. “Why don’t they stop where they arrive in Europe?” Well many do. Sweden takes more than we do, but one is too many for some. We shrug as another gun is fired in a cinema in America, as another racist incident happens or another example of climate change happens before our eyes and instead “like” a guy dancing at a music festival.

I’m not a religious man, but if I were I’d be wondering where my God was in all this misery and mayhem. Where is the hope? How can we make it through these horrible times we live in?

Stop the world, I want to get off.

JD