Sunday, June 9, 2019

I love a good laugh!

I recently received a terribly entertaining email.  It appealed to my sense of political and social gossip - maybe even more brutish interests. For a curmudgeonly (and perhaps unconfessed bloodthirsty) fellow such as myself it was beyond compelling! I've attached a copy below.

The exuberance with which I consumed the email is an indication of another problem, one not addressed in that particular utterance. It doesn't begin to deal with the divide that indisputably (and seemingly persistently) characterizes the United States of America. The country has the appearance at least of being evenly bisected by Republicans and Democrats, socialists and capitalists, rich and poor, educated and illiterate, white and non-white, religious and irreligious, complacent and angry, working and unemployed, urban and rural, cerebral and visceral. The division isn't merely the comic quips and armchair digestibles of Town Mouse and Country Mouse found in Country Life magazine. It is a separation of Olympic scale - social, political, financial, gender, philosophic, religious and spiritual. To pretend to surmount the rift between these vast and powerful sections of society - and in the process don't forget what transpired in the French Revolution - by merely drawing attention to their differences as though they were the seat of the problem is entirely to overlook the grounds of imbalance.

For example the use of vulgar language and having a limited talent for oratory is no basis for denying the legitimacy of a claim.  In fact understanding the "language" of others is just as important whether to understand the nuances of a reserved British slight or the jab of a road worker. How one expresses oneself is seldom anywhere near the full story.

Nor is it sufficient to banish a complaint because it expresses deep-seated fear and pervasive anxiety. One only needs to interrupt a robin nursing her nest to appreciate the level of emotion prompted by the least threat to her burgeoning family. The intimidation is catastrophic.

It is equally shallow to ignore the reality of sovereignty in society. To pretend that one person rules the roost is a complete misunderstanding. Remember too the adage that "we all serve someone".  The day of "Mr. Smith goes to Washington" has long disappeared.  In my opinion it was never anything other than a Hollywood myth in any event. Attacking the leader of the gang is a start but it doesn't guarantee a reasoned resolution of the initial problem.

As killing as many of the condemnations of Trump (and a world of other politicians before and likely to follow) may be to those whose alliances are already ingrained, it is a small complement to the ingenuity of the perpetrator to dwell only upon the reasons for disliking the man.  If nothing else ad hominem argument is a total failure as logic. Destroying the messenger is well-known monkey business. There are answers other than restoring coal mining for the unemployed miners. Presidential candidate (2020) Bill Weld for example has made a good case for providing minimum universal income which will in turn perpetuate consumption, production and employment.  The possibilities for employment from solar power are another.  If Americans have to admit to the archaic value of the automobile in lieu of public (or more efficient) transportation, so be it.  We've all survived the demise of the printing press, fax machine and telephone. Paying people to look after their elderly parents is not outlandish. Many needs will forever subsist in spite of robots and artificial intelligence or whatever else comes along.

As much as I enjoy a skilful rhetorical scuffle - and having already advanced that personal assault is not the answer - I must opine that the British are not historically the little puppy of humanity.  Their colonial and imperial habits were arrogant and malicious.

Whatever we may think about Trump and Mike Pence we're far better to direct our attention to the problems they represent than the way they do it.  I am mindful that Churchill fought his own cabinet about attacking Hitler. Assuming the Americans are not yet on the brink of internal revolution, and giving them the benefit of universal beneficence, I am confident they have at their disposal better ways to advance their corporate interests than belittling their current leader's gape or the way he talks.  Otherwise they will get what they deserve in the pit of battle; that is, small rewards for petty effort.

Trump - the Brits really know how to do it right

Someone asked “Why do some British people not like Donald Trump?”
Nate White, an articulate and witty writer from England, wrote this magnificent response:

"A few things spring to mind.

Trump lacks certain qualities which the British traditionally esteem.

For instance, he has no class, no charm, no coolness, no credibility, no compassion, no wit, no warmth, no wisdom, no subtlety, no sensitivity, no self-awareness, no humility, no honour and no grace - all qualities, funnily enough, with which his predecessor Mr. Obama was generously blessed.

So for us, the stark contrast does rather throw Trump’s limitations into embarrassingly sharp relief.

Plus, we like a laugh. And while Trump may be laughable, he has never once said anything wry, witty or even faintly amusing - not once, ever.

I don’t say that rhetorically, I mean it quite literally: not once, not ever. And that fact is particularly disturbing to the British sensibility - for us, to lack humour is almost inhuman.

But with Trump, it’s a fact. He doesn’t even seem to understand what a joke is - his idea of a joke is a crass comment, an illiterate insult, a casual act of cruelty.

Trump is a troll. And like all trolls, he is never funny and he never laughs; he only crows or jeers.

And scarily, he doesn’t just talk in crude, witless insults - he actually thinks in them. His mind is a simple bot-like algorithm of petty prejudices and knee-jerk nastiness.

There is never any under-layer of irony, complexity, nuance or depth. It’s all surface.

Some Americans might see this as refreshingly upfront. Well, we don’t. We see it as having no inner world, no soul.

And in Britain we traditionally side with David, not Goliath. All our heroes are plucky underdogs: Robin Hood, Dick Whittington, Oliver Twist.

Trump is neither plucky, nor an underdog. He is the exact opposite of that.

He’s not even a spoiled rich-boy, or a greedy fat-cat. He’s more a fat white slug. A Jabba the Hutt of privilege.

And worse, he is that most unforgivable of all things to the British: a bully.

That is, except when he is among bullies; then he suddenly transforms into a snivelling sidekick instead.

There are unspoken rules to this stuff - the Queensberry rules of basic decency - and he breaks them all. He punches downwards - which a gentleman should, would, could never do - and every blow he aims is below the belt. He particularly likes to kick the vulnerable or voiceless - and he kicks them when they are down.

So the fact that a significant minority - perhaps a third - of Americans look at what he does, listen to what he says, and then think 'Yeah, he seems like my kind of guy’ is a matter of some confusion and no little distress to British people, given that:

* Americans are supposed to be nicer than us, and mostly are.

* You don't need a particularly keen eye for detail to spot a few flaws in the man.

This last point is what especially confuses and dismays British people, and many other people too; his faults seem pretty bloody hard to miss.

After all, it’s impossible to read a single tweet, or hear him speak a sentence or two, without staring deep into the abyss. He turns being artless into an art form; he is a Picasso of pettiness; a Shakespeare of shit. His faults are fractal: even his flaws have flaws, and so on ad infinitum.

God knows there have always been stupid people in the world, and plenty of nasty people too. But rarely has stupidity been so nasty, or nastiness so stupid.

He makes Nixon look trustworthy and George W look smart.
In fact, if Frankenstein decided to make a monster assembled entirely from human flaws - he would make a Trump.

And a remorseful Doctor Frankenstein would clutch out big clumpfuls of hair and scream in anguish:

'My God... what... have... I... created?

If being a twat was a TV show, Trump would be the boxed set."

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