We need to talk about Trump

Let’s start with some first principles: Trump is literally not my president. I didn’t have a vote in the election, as I’m not an American nor do I live there. And yes, I know exactly how it feels to have foreigners tell you what they don’t like about your country or your government.

And I try to avoid doing both, because lately the UK is no shining example of tolerance and love. Or even logic, due to the catastrophe that was the Brexit vote. ‘People in glass houses…’ and all that.

I also try to avoid overloading this blog with commentary on current affairs, as it can be quite divisive. I tend to keep that for debates on Twitter. Or over coffee, in person. So if you’re disinterested by this topic, feel free to skip to the next post.

That said…

That said, America appears to have appointed a narcissistic, unstable, petty, ego-driven, volatile and self-confessed sex-offender as president. I emphasise appointed as Trump lost the popular vote and the American electoral system still managed to get him into the White House.

And America may well have doe so in the past. Nixon was not dissimilar to Trump and I’m sure every president since has leaked their own preferences, biases and irrational needs all over the Oval Office. But, I think the difference is that they were surrounded by advisors and officials who could set them straight and ensure no damage was done to the office of the President by a temporary office-holder.

So let’s be clear: I don’t believe US Presidents are automatically examples of grit, determination, logic and wisdom as soon as they win the election. They’re human, just like you and me.

The difference here is we have an outlier on most aspects of human behaviour and attitudes in the White House, who has chosen to surround himself with similar outliers. Or extremists, if you will. People whose views on humanity, society and equality are as far to the right of any spectrum as you might find.

In the weeks leading up to the inauguration, I read a veritable chorus of commentary asking for us to ‘give Trump the benefit of the doubt’, telling us ‘the office will impact him’ and that we should ‘take him seriously, not literally’.

We’re just over a week into the Trump Presidency and I’m not going to keep quiet any longer. Yep, he’s not my president, but America is no normal country. Its decisions impact the rest of the world and as we can see, his executive orders thus far have done just that.

He has succeeded in offending and alienating his to closest neighbours with continued inflammatory talk of the ‘wall’ with Mexico and by instigating a ban on entry to the US by citizens (even green card holders and those with joint-nationality) from a selection of mainly Muslim countries. Except, of course, those where he has business interests.

You see? He is quite literally implementing the campaign slogans and it’s only a week into his term. Christ on a bike, what else is he going to do?

He has failed to share his tax returns or to formally divest himself of his vast and complex business affairs. He’s running the White House like a members’ club, giving jobs to friends and family, no more qualified to hold such important offices than you or I. And in some cases, probably less…

This is fascism in action.

Think about it. He’s pretty much mirroring what every nationalist dictator in history has done. He’s promised to rebuild the country, he’s blaming ‘others’ for the downfall of the country, he’s attacking the very system of government he’s supposed to be leading and he’s spreading lies and disinformation about allies and political foes alike. People don’t know what to believe and they’re afraid. He’s using his executive power to implement a nationalist agenda before our very eyes.

He and his administration announced their Muslim travel ban on Holocaust Memorial Day, while also refusing to specifically mention Jews in their press release. It’s like they’re waving their intolerance in our faces and laughing about it.

I’m scared.

I’m not worried that someone whose politics I disagree with is in a position of power. I’m worried that such an unstable and intolerant person has their hands on the levers of power, is busy making new enemies and has the military power to end life on earth.

And to all those American commentators who vilified me on Twitter with their talk of systemic ‘checks and balances’: where are you checks and balances now? Your system of government and electoral method has let you down, allowing a grotesquely in qualified man to take over your country and set it back at least a decade in just seven days.

Now let me tell you what this isn’t. This isn’t me issuing a blanket condemnation of all Americans, or even all the Americans who voted for Trump. Looking at Brexit, we can easily see why angry people use a vote to make a point, without a thought for the consequences.

I’ve been to the US enough times to know that it’s as varied in terms of people as anywhere else. It’s full of talented, thoughtful and broad-minded people. People who more frightened of this development that I could ever be. They’re out there right now, protesting at airports.

What I’m trying to say here is that this isn’t politics as normal. This is one of those times where people need to set aside political differences and stand up for what’s essentially right. Banning and abandoning people purely on the basis of their religion is not government-as-normal. It is fascism.

Our own unelected Prime Minister not only held Trump by the hand in public, she also invited him for a state visit to the UK later this year. This gives him legitimacy and is nothing more than a futile attempt to build some kind of relationship with Trump to offset the economic damage that will come with the kind of ‘hard Brexit’ May is pushing for. She’s emphasising trade and cooperation over human rights.

I’m embarrassed for the UK, especially as countries all around protested the travel ban openly. People need to know that this is not what the majority of people in the UK believe, no matter how appallingly the Prime Minister has behaved.

Remember also, that this is the woman who, when Home Secretary, had trucks drive around areas with suspected high number of illegal immigrants with a ‘Go Home’ message written on the side. And that after fawning over Trump, she flew straight to Turkey to sign an arms deal with a similarly unhinged nationalist clown.

trump-may

If Trump comes over here, I’ll be out there protesting his presence, his behaviour and his anti-human stance. The man is a charlatan, a bigot and unfit for office – any office. His past behaviour marks him out as singularly unfit to be President and no seal of office or plethora of officials or machine of government is going to change my mind on this.

He’s had his chance and he’s blown it.

Who’s with me? Who’s going to protest in London if/when he flies in?

No big deal

So Ireland’s Minister for Health came out on the radio this morning.

The government didn’t collapse. The country didn’t sink into the Atlantic and the people didn’t take to the streets with pitchforks. Leo Varadkar is gay, end of story.

While I occasionally comment on the sexual orientation of people in the public eye, I don’t dwell on it. But in this case, I think it’s worth reminding ourselves that even a few years ago, this would spell the end of an Irish Government Minister’s career.

But it’s 2015 and, hopefully, things have moved on. Many people will see this as interesting, some will see it as a positive move and some others will inevitably see it as “intrinsically disordered“. The latter are hopefully an ever-decreasing minority, though.

I think Minister Varadkar’s move signals that there are gay people in all walks of life in Ireland, that it’s possible to survive – and thrive – in the challenging arena of Irish politics and that he’s not in any way apologetic for who he is.

His approach to this was refreshing and positive:

“I am a gay man, it’s not a secret, but not something that everyone would necessarily know but isn’t something I’ve spoken publicly about before,” he told Miriam O’Callaghan on RTÉ Radio.

“It’s not something that defines me,” he said. “I’m not a half-Indian politician, or a doctor politician or a gay politician for that matter. It’s just part of who I am, it doesn’t define me, it is part of my character I suppose”.

Given last year’s furore over Panti Bliss and RTE’s pathetic response to the right wing, I hope this can signal a more positive step towards a more equal society.

Onwards, to this year’s marriage equality referendum.

Farage continues to spout crap

And now he’s a historian.

Seemingly happy to sacrifice another 100,000 lives to somehow prevent the rise of the Nazi movement.

Ukip leader believes Germany should have been forced to unconditionally surrender, even if it cost 100,000 more casualties

Who were well-known for their respect of historical truth and never engaged in revisionism.

Who keeps giving this professional pub bore a platform to spout this crap? He should stick to shouting at officials in the European Parliament.

Seems like a charming man

Nigel Farage’s UKIP have managed to maintain a technical grouping (Europe of Freedom and Direct Democracy) in the European Parliament by convincing a Polish MEP to join them.

Boy, he seems like a charmer.

According to the Guardian:

For instance, he thinks women’s opinions are shaped by the sperm of the men they sleep with, that they are “on average” less clever than men, and that nearly half of women who tell a man they don’t want to have sex with them are feigning reluctance and should be ignored.

Korwin-Mikke, 72, is an extreme libertarian. A veteran with half a century’s political experience, he throws out his bizarre views in rapid-fire sentences, broken by the easy smile of a man used to deference, which only makes them seem more disturbing. There is no proof Hitler knew about the Holocaust, he has argued for years, and he told the Observer that Mussolini, who stripped Jewish citizens of property and civil rights, then sent thousands to German concentration camps, “was trying to protect Jews”.

Just the kind of open-minded thinking that Farage’s UKIP supporters will welcome into their fold.

Is there any depth to which this cretin will not sink to extract money from the European Parliament?

He’s getting into bed with Holocaust deniers now – what’s next?

Some excellent news…

Italian Senate panel recommends Berlusconi expulsion

Looks like there’s a chance Berlusconi is finally going to get (some of) what’s coming to him.

A cross-party panel of the Italian Senate has recommended the expulsion from the chamber of Silvio Berlusconi over his conviction for tax fraud.

The call to expel the ex-premier who dominated politics for nearly two decades in Italy is expected to go before the Senate within three weeks.

He will have to serve a one-year sentence for his tax conviction, probably under house arrest or via community service because of his age.

In addition, he has been convicted of paying for sex with an underage prostitute and of a breach of confidentiality over a police wiretap. He is appealing against both convictions.

A shame he’ll never see the inside of a jail. It’s what he deserves.

Iris Robinson: You couldn’t make it up

Just when you thought (hoped?) Iris Robinson was going to fade away into the political history books, up she pops again. And this time, she’s taking the soap opera prima donna behaviour to new levels.

It turns out that not only was the vile old trout having an affair behind her hubbie’s back, she tried to kill herself when he found out. Pure comedy gold. So may questions exploded in my head when I read about this earlier today. Firstly, who in their right mind would sleep with Iris Robinson, (outside of marital obligations, natch)? Most of the time she looks like a cross between an escaped lunatic and a very bad female impersonator.

Secondly, how does dear Iris square away her fornicating with her devout Christianity? Simples. She has a hot-line to the almighty himself:

Mrs Robinson said in a statement that she was “completely ashamed and deeply embarrassed” by the affair which had “devastated” her life and the lives of those around her.

She said she began the brief affair while she was supporting a man who had suffered a bereavement. She said she had also encouraged friends to help him by “providing financial support for a business venture.”

Mrs Robinson used the statement to publically apologise to her husband, her wider family and friends. She said she would “pay any price on earth” to take back the wrong she had done. She added: “I do not deserve a second chance but I have been given one.”

Mrs Robinson said she believes she has been forgiven by God.

Of course she has. And I’m sure he told her that her heterosexual fornication paled in comparison to the pure evil carried out by those revolting gays. I’m sure he told her not to worry about it and to get back at the gay-bashing just as soon as she feels up to it. Then he probably made her a lovely cup of tea and gave her a big hug.

You simply couldn’t make it up. And for a slightly less charitable view of this affair (geddit?) I commend you to my honourable friends at Me-me-me.tv. I should warn you, it’s not for the faint-hearted. But it’s just so very funny.

While I’m in ranting form: what is it with these right-wing Christian nut-jobs and their extra-marital affairs?

Iris Robinson stepping down… at last!

Iris Robinson came to the attention of the mainstream during the summer of 2008, when she compared homosexuality to paedophilia. For those of you unschooled in the intricacies of Northern Ireland politics, Robinson is the wife of Peter Robinson, First Minister of Northern Ireland. She’s also a member of the legislative assembly in her own right, a local councillor and an MP – as a career politician, should really know more about the impact of her words.

In June 2008, she suggested that the victim of a homophobic attack visit a psychiatrist she knew so that he could be “cured”. In the ensuing furore, she went old-time biblical, calling gays “an abomination”. All while she was the Minister for Health in Northern Ireland.

“I cannot think of anything more sickening than a child being abused. It is comparable to the act of homosexuality. I think they are all comparable. I feel totally repulsed by both.”

Nice.

In recognition of all her good work for advancing the cause of equality, Stonewall named her their ‘Bigot of the Year‘ in 2008, an award I’m sure she was delighted to receive. I know it delighted me. The BBC broadcast the DUP’s annual conference in 2008, where her husband got a few chuckles from the dinosaurs in attendance when he mentioned her lack of political correctness (see his speech here).

It’s not about being PC. It’s about respecting people and treating everyone equally. And (ideally) it should be about keeping your personal religious views separate from work… especially when religion has had such a negative impact on society, as in Norn Iron.

So why is this second-rate bible-thumping bigot in the news again? She’s stepping down from both of the parliaments of which she is a member – leaving the Northern Ireland Assembly immediately and leaving the Westminster Parliament at the next election, which will take place in the next five months. She is putting it down to mental health issues of her own, citing her own experience of depression as part of the reason for her exit from public life.

I wouldn’t wish mental health problems on anyone – depression can be a debilitating illness. While I definitely won’t miss Iris Robinson (apart from the sheer comedy value) or her intolerant pronouncements from public life, I hope she’ll recover soon for her sake and that of her family. My only worry now is that the less-than-tolerant DUP party of which she is a member will find someone equally vile to take her seat in Northern Ireland (where they don’t have to run a by-election when a politician resigns) and in Westminster.

Surely some mistake?

Call me cynical, but I can’t help wondering if there’s some connection between this story in which Peter Mandelson announces his willingness to work with a Conservative administration:

In an interview with The Sunday Times magazine, the business secretary said he would be willing to put his “experience at the disposal of the country”, if Labour lost power. “As I grow older, I can imagine more ways of serving my country than simply being a party politician,” he said.

and this story, in which Peter Mandelson is (temporarily) refused admission to the Labour Party Conference.

“Calamity Coughlin” strikes again…

Unbelievable. This woman is basically the Deputy Prime Minister of Ireland (titled Tánaiste) and can’t tell the difference between Darwin and Einstein:

THE TANAISTE lived up to her ‘Calamity Coughlan’ nickname yesterday.

The gaffe-prone minister was left red-faced after she erroneously referred to the theory of evolution as having been formulated by Einstein.

To make matters worse, the Enterprise, Trade and Employment Minister had just mentioned the Government’s strategy of Building Ireland’s Smart Economy.

Speaking without notes to an invited audience of entrepreneurs to promote IDA Ireland’s “aggressive” new campaign to market Ireland aboard, Ms Coughlan touched on the idea of the survival of the fittest.

She said the IDA would be marketing Ireland as the innovation island — “like Einstein explaining his theory of evolution”.

A further illustrative quote, courtesy of Public Inquiry:

Earlier in the week Coughlan referred to the Green Party in Irish as na Glasrai (the vegetables) instead of An Comhaontas Glas

Christ on a bike. I would be embarrassed for her, except for the fact that I find her personally objectionable, feckless and a member of a political party the represents the closest thing Ireland has to a mafia.