Tag Archives: Donald Trump

Petitions, Petitioners And Petitioning

If you’re a regular user of social media, the chances are you’ve seen loads of petitions.  Maybe you’ve signed a few of them yourself. You can’t escape the fucking things. Signing petitions can, at times, seem like either a pointless chore or become a full-time job.  There are so many damned petitions.  But there are petitions that are perfectly reasonable and worth signing, and there are petitions that are, well, so utterly stupid that you have to question the intelligence and the motivation of the petitioner.

A few useless petitions have caught The Cat’s eye for their sheer stupidity, but the most prominent ones are those that express ignorance of how parliament works. Take for example the petition that was addressed to the Queen, and which asks her to demand a vote of no confidence in the government. Yes, I know it’s laughable.

First, the Queen doesn’t intervene in such matters, for to do so would break with the centuries old tradition of parliamentary sovereignty.  It’s all there in the the constitution.  Yes, that’s the supposedly unwritten constitution that has its origins in the so-called Glorious Revolution of 1688 (it was a palace coup for crying out loud) and the Bill of Rights (1689).  Second, censure motions can only be instigated by opposition parties and for such a motion to succeed, the party drafting the motion needs to ensure there are numbers in its favour. This is currently not the case.

The government presently has a working majority of 16 – excluding the Speaker, who exercises a casting vote in the event of a tie. The Democratic Unionists, Ulster Unionists, Sylvia Hermon (independent Unionist) and maybe the Blairites, would be most likely to vote with the government.  So a no confidence motion has been defeated even before it can get off the ground.

“Ah, but it’s showing them our discontent” I hear you protest. Well, so what? They know we’re not happy with them but this exercise is futile. Your time would be better spent doing something else.

So what are your options?

Well, you can write to the Prime Minister directly but that’s not going to get anywhere either.  In the unlikely event that she, herself, replied to you, what would she say? “Dear [insert name] The government is committed to enriching our class and we don’t give a shit what you think?”. No, they’re going to tell you how great they are and will blind you with cherry-picked statistics and sophisms.

You could write to the leaders of the opposition party. Again, good luck with that one. How about writing to your MP?  Nope – especially if your MP is in the governing party. So what can you do? Well, you could go on marches and attend rallies or you could take direct action instead.  You could join a political party or become a community activist too. There are plenty of campaigns to join.

Petitions of the kind I mentioned are really nothing more than a form of carnivalesque, which allow the signatories a fleeting moment of imaginary power. Yeah! I really stuck one to the man, man! I signed a petition!

The announcement of the forthcoming state visit of Donald Trump to Britain spurred the creation of two petitions. One was opposed to the visit and the other was in support of it. It’s the one in support of Trump’s visit that’s been created, not for any genuinely noble or sensible reasons but, instead, as a misguided metric of his popularity among the so-called ‘alt-right’.

If the petition in favour is a gauge of Trump’s popularity, then the opposing petition trounces it several times over. At the time of writing, the petition against stood at 1.8 million people as opposed to the petition for, which stands at a mere 300, 000 and has been rejected. It was never going to attract more than a few thousand.

The petition against Trump’s visit was always going to be more popular and because of that, it will be debated in parliament. The creators of the pro petition needn’t have bothered. The matter was always going to be debated without it. Surely that was the point all along? to have the matter debated? Apparently not, if you’re in support of Trump’s visit.

Are petitions any use? Of course they are, but on their own, they’re of limited value. Just remember, it helps to know what you’re signing and why. It’s also a good idea to read up on how parliament works before signing some stupid petition demanding a vote of no confidence in the government.

 

 

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Mein Drumpf

drumpf

The man, the hand gestures.

In a little under a week’s time, Donald Trump will be sworn in as President of the United States. The property tycoon, reality show host and serial bankrupt (yes) will lead one of the largest and most sophisticated war machines on the planet.  Much has been made of Trump’s lack of a political hinterland by the media.  Indeed, he has no experience of political office and this supposed outsider status, claim his supporters, is what makes him so appealing.   “He’ll shake up the establishment” say his supporters.  Yeah, I guess he will but not in the way you think.

Even Warren G. Harding, to whom I have often compared Trump, had political experience as the Lieutenant Governor of Ohio and as senator for the same state.  Like Trump, his cabinet was stuffed with millionaires.  Yet, even Harding described himself as “unfit for office”, something that Trump is unlikely to do, such is the size of his ego and evident lack of self-awareness.  Harding’s presidency was dogged by scandals and he died in office.  I’ll just leave that there.

Trump has dodged questions about his fitness for office by attacking his opponents.  This is the classic tactic of deflection but it also signals his inability to accept responsibility for his actions and, moreover, the words that come from his mouth.  I know it’s unfair and unreasonable for a lay person like myself to make a remote psychological diagnosis based on a handful of signifiers, but Trump is a rampant narcissist.

On the question of whether or not he’s racist?  Well, Trump has consistently denied it, yet he’s been busily appointing racists to his cabinet and his White House staff.   This appears to encapsulate the contradictory nature of the man himself: he will say one thing and do the complete opposite.  What cannot be denied is the way in which America’s racists, xenophobes and Nazis have been emboldened by Trump’s victory.  His supporters may shrug, roll their eyes and claim “a few Nazis marching doesn’t mean anything” but I don’t recall the same thing happening when Reagan or the Bushes won the presidency. Do you?

Trump’s campaign slogan was the simplistic: “Make America Great Again”. This kind of slogan is reminiscent of Hitler’s and Mussolini’s rhetoric and suggested a return to a mythical past.  During the bruising election campaign, Trump had been compared to both dictators by many commentators.  The Cat once thought a closer comparison could be made to Louis-Napoleon, the future Napoleon III, who spent a great deal of time and effort attracting the votes of the poor.  But that’s where any resemblance ends.   Unlike Louis-Napoleon, Trump has not written a treatise on the elimination of poverty (Trump doesn’t even read books).  In fact, he hasn’t mentioned the issue of poverty at all,  preferring instead to charm the impoverished with magick slogans and by blaming Muslims,  immigrants and foreigners for for their social condition.  One more thing: Napoleon III was a soldier.  Trump dodged the draft.

Trump’s ploy was thus cynical and calculating.  He appealed to the reactionary instincts of many working class whites by pressing their buttons and schmoozing them, while at the same time making moves to consolidate and extend the power of America’s filthy rich – all of which he did in plain sight.  Time will tell if Trump will morph into a latter day Napoleon III, but to do this, he will need to use executive powers to declare a state of emergency and stage a coup against himself as Louis-Napoleon did in 1851.  Let’s hope that idea never pops into his head.

So is Trump a fascist? Fascism in the early 21st centuries doesn’t wear uniforms and smash up printing presses as Mussolini’s Blackshirts had done in the 1920s.  These Third Position fascists have appropriated the language of the Left and consciously adopted a victim mentality.  Their anti-intellectual thinkers (sic) have concocted conspiracy theories, like the Frankfurt School/Cultural Marxism smear, and barely concealed their racism behind the language of classical liberalism.  19th century Liberals like Lord John Russell were quite content to see the Irish starve to death during The Famine, because they saw themselves as superior specimens of humanity.  They were committed social Darwinists.  The fascist is also a social Darwinist at heart.

The so-called ‘alt-right’ are, to be sure, fascists in all but name.  They are mostly male and mainly white.  They think feminism is a ‘cancer’ and loathe equal rights for minority groups.  They bang the drum for nationalism and glorify the military. They also follow Trump.  No doubt some of them may even call themselves ‘libertarians’.  Their freedom is a checklist of textbook freedoms for their fellows.  Third Positionist parties will often use the word ‘freedom’ to deflect attention from their patent opposition to the freedoms of Others .  We can see this in the name of the now defunct British Freedom Party and others on the continent that purport to be the ‘guardians’ of freedom.

Third Positionists have also taken advantage of the confusion generated by mainstream politicians, who have provided them with ideal conditions in which to propagate.  Indeed, the triangulationism of Tony Blair’s Third Way and the nouveau Conservatism of David Cameron, which sought to ape it, must take some responsibility for the rise of far-right in Britain.  One failed to meet dog-whistle racism head on and the other actively employed it.  Both of them were obsessed with superficialities and refused to address real structural problems, and politicians from each party continue to foster division and hatred through their appropriation of the far-right’s rhetoric on immigration.  The extreme centre is no place to be at a time like this!

Trump may have cast himself as an outsider and self-styled opponent on the ‘elite’ but he is one of the elites.  He didn’t start in business by saving up quarters that he earned through bagging groceries at Walmart.  He went to expensive educational institutions and his daddy handed him a few million to get the ball rolling.  Trump is a corporatist and corporatism is central to fascist economic thinking.  Fascism is nothing more than the marriage between the state and corporate power. It only sees the working class as drones, breeding machines or as ‘boots on the ground’.

The overall political, cultural and social orientation of Trump’s administration does not bode well for the working class white people who voted for him, because it is they who will be shafted;  sacrificed on the altar of corporatism. But would Hilary Clinton be any better?  No.  What America really needed was Bernie Sanders and he was stitched up by the Democratic Party establishment.  Now we have a reality TV star and property tycoon as President.  Just think, over 30 years ago a reactionary former actor and state governor became POTUS and some people thought he was ‘great’.

 

 

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Da Don, his ‘truth’ and a little bit of business in Aberdeenshire

Donald Trump is a nasty piece of work. If anyone saw the film You’ve Been Trumped on BBC2 the other week, you’ll know that the billionaire property developer purchased land in Aberdeenshire with the intention of building one of his luxury resorts. The site that he purchased was identified as a Site of Special Scientific Interest. Those that lived nearby were harassed and their homes described as “slums” by Da Don, a man who’s used to getting his own way by simply waving his wedge about. There are also serious allegations that Trump regarded Grampian Police as his private security team and has been putting them under pressure to act. Does he get away with this shit in Noo York? Probably.

Trump is a bit like a Mafia don but without the garottes, knuckledusters, violin cases and pretensions to a Sicilian heritage. He’s a plastic don. He’s got the dynasty – da family. His hair, often resembling a mutated piece of shredded wheat, attracts ridicule and bafflement the world over. He’s got the money (but is it real or just debt?) and influence. But it’s his claims to have access to a special kind of truth that has been attracting the most ridicule, especially on Twitter.

Last year, Da Don claimed to have ‘evidence’ of Barack Obama’s ‘foreign’ birth. It turned out to be another one of his attention-seeking stunts (He’d earlier claimed that he was going to run for the Republican presidential nomination but went a bit silent). This time around, it’s all about the President’s college records. Sigh. This is… how can I put this? Juvenile?

Let’s be clear about this: demands to see Obama’s birth certificate or any other document smells suspiciously, in The Cat’s view, of crypto-racism. In other words, it’s the sort of racism that does its best to deny its true nature by claiming to be something else. That can be either a concern for the ‘truth’ or an economic rationalization (see the classical liberals’ arguments about Jim Crow and segregation). Questions of one’s birth were, rather curiously, absent in the case of John McCain, who was born outside the Continental United States in the Panama Canal Zone, which was not, at that time, an incorporated territory. McCain is white, therefore his citizenship was never in question as far as the Tea Partiers and assorted conspiranoids are concerned.  On that basis, McCain should have been disqualified on the grounds that he was born outside of the United States. Even those born of US service personnel overseas are barred from running for the presidency. Is that fair? Well, not really. But those are rules.

The discourses of citizenship and national identity are often deployed by the right, nationalists especially, to question the right of those persons of a particular ethnicity or culture to live in, what they see as, ‘their’ country. Therefore such discourses almost always contain the hidden and unpleasant discourse of racism. In Trump’s case, it’s fine for Black people to be athletes and boxers, but President of the United States? Not in Trump’s world! The word that springs to mind, but which Trump did not say, is “uppity”, which is always attached to the other word. The one that begins with the letter, “N”.

But what about Trump’s authenticity? Is he what he claims to be? Listen to The Guardian’s Adam Gabbutt as he tries to obtain a copy of Trump’s passport and college records. The person who takes the call is pretty unpleasant.

If you haven’t seen You’ve Been Trumped, here’s the trailer. The film may still be on BBC iPlayer.

Trump recently announced that he would donate $5 million to charity if Obama showed him his college records. I’ll show you mine, if you show me yours! Ooer, missus!  The Mambo rips into The Man with the Mystery Hair here.

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