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Trumping Democracy

I happened to catch on BBC rolling news today a “speech” given by one Donald J Trump. This consisted mostly of him opening his mouth and letting anything pour out (or, as the phrase has it, letting his belly rumble.) There was absolutely nothing of substance in it whatever, merely the assertion and vacuous sloganising of a blustering braggart and bully.

I note that he has also repeated his belief that the US Presidential election is rigged against him.

So, let me get this clear; the reopening of an FBI investigation against his opponent isn’t rigging but its subsequent finding “no evidence of criminality” is? Is that perhaps because the first was to his advantage and the second wasn’t? (And yes, Donald, it is possible to trawl through millions of emails in a few days. There’s something called a “search” function that will allow you to do precisely that.)

The claim of rigging sounded to me remarkably like someone who thought they weren’t going to win anyway getting their excuses in first.

Yet the attitude behind it is the culmination of a trend I noticed a long time ago whereby Democratic Presidents don’t seem to be afforded the same leeway as that accorded to Republicans.

You may remember eight years ago I predicted that Barack Obama would face four (or eight) years of hounding if he were to be elected. I wasn’t wrong. As I recall it started as soon as he was sworn in (or even before if you don’t think the original swearing in was legitimate.)

To claim the election is rigged goes against everything the US is supposed to stand for. The cornerstone of democracy is that leaders are replaced peaceably – and the new one is accepted by the old and his/her supporters. Claims of illegitimacy put that peaceful handover in danger (and in the case of a country awash with firearms might even lead to civil war.)

There was also the small point of Trump suggesting during the campaign that he didn’t know what the “Second Amendment people” would do if his opponent wins. To which I say this, if Trump loses and the then President Hillary Clinton is subsequently assassinated the prime accused in any court case ought to be Donald Trump, for incitement to murder.

Later on the BBC news showed a speech by Clinton in which, by contrast, she appeared measured, thoughful, rational and reasonable. (To be fair that wasn’t a big ask.)

Mr Trump has been revealed (is even proud of the fact!) to have paid little or no tax for at least a ten year period and hasn’t released details of any tax payments in the years since. I find it incredible that a tax avoider can put himself forward to become the head of state of a country to which he has made no such monetary contribution. (My view is that it is the duty of a citizen to pay the taxes necessary for the country in which they are domiciled/make a living to be run successfully. And to do so without complaint. The only point to be debated is the level at which the taxes ought to be levied, not whether they are to be ignored.)

In amongst his ramblings Trump said America* was a laughing stock.

Not quite yet, Donald. Not quite yet.

But if you are elected President the US will not only have become a laughing stock overnight; it will have removed itself from the status of a serious nation and be seriously weakened as a result. Far from making America great again it will diminish it hugely. You can not have someone with the character traits of a narcissist in charge of a country’s diplomacy. Especially when that country is the most important in the world and whose actions may impact on allies and potential foes alike. (I shudder at the thought of any such person being in charge of the nuclear launch codes.)

US citizens might say their election is none of my business. To that I would reply “no annihilation without representation”.

A former US President once used the phrase, “Speak softly and carry a big stick.” Good advice; especially the “speak softly” part.

*Don’t you just love that appropriation of a whole two continents’ name to a polity which occupies only a small portion of its landmass?

Interzone 265 Jul-Aug 2016

Interzone 265 cover

Jo L Walton’s Editorial welcomes the arrival of the Sputnik AwardsTM. Jonathan McCalmont rightly eviscerates Becky Chambers’s1 the long way to a small angry planet (its title is not capitalised on the cover) for its self-satisfaction and its lack of challenge. Nina Allan’s Timepiece argues that the canon (both SF and the wider literary one) ought not to be restrictive. In the Book Zone Lisa Tuttle is interviewed, I review Extinction by Kazuaki Takano and Two Years Eight Months and Twenty-Eight Nights by Salman Rushdie while Sofia Samatar’s The Winged Histories, James Lovegrove’s World of Water and Guy Gavriel Kay’s Children of Earth and Sky gain approval.

As to the fiction:-
All Your Cities I Will Burn2 by John Schoffstall is set in the aftermath of a 2042 meteor strike on Earth. Humanity has just about survived. Then strange creatures arise from the sea. This story contains fine speculation about the implications for life on Earth from meteor-borne organisms.
The Eye of Job3 by Dan Reade. An alien tower twenty miles high and ten in diameter “covers most of Omaha.” An air force psychologist is still trying to come to terms with the ramifications.
Belong4 by Suzanne Palmer sees gwenna Thirty-Seven rejected for Placement in QuangEngXorp’s exploitation team despite always achieving the highest marks in training.
The title and subject matter of Ken Hinckley’s on the techno-erotic potential of Donald Trump under conditions of partially induced psychosis does of course invite comparisons with a certain J G Ballard short story. Its setting in a high-rise, its harping on the diesel fumes emanating from lorries on a motorway junction below, not to mention a vehicle crash and the matching style of its attendant author information appendix only add to this temptation. As you might expect it is estranged stuff but, to take up the invitation, Mr Hinckley is no Ballard. (Then again, who is?)
The Inside Out5 by Andrew Kozma. The eponymous structure (aka IO) is an abandoned Dyson sphere to which the remnants of humanity have been transported.
A Man of Modest Means6 by Robert Reed relates the encounter between a woman and a man who are both not what the reader first assumes.

Pedant’s corner:- All the fiction was written in USian. 1McCalmont has Chambers’. 2at loose ends (at a loose end?) “I would expatiate my guilt and despair” (expiate, expatiate means something else entirely,) not thrall to his own fears (in thrall.) 3“covers most of Omaha” (granted the tower would dominate the countryside but I’m sure Omaha is more than ten miles across,) Amos’ (Amos’s,) “behind him are a trio of radio towers” (is a trio,) “None of us do.” (None of us does.) 4“in the line from her shoulder down near her wrist” (to near her wrist?) “the enemies lay there peacefully” (lie there,) 5humongous (more usually humungous?) 6wack job (is usually spelt whack job,) “How would describe that gesture” (missing an “I” after would?) a double “the” in the author information.

Ronald vs Donald

I never really thought too much of Ronald Reagan…

But he was an intellectual genius in comparison to one D Trump (whose comments I paraphrase below.)

Ronald Reagan – “Mr Gorbachev. Tear Down this wall!”

Donald Trump – “Build up a wall!”


This photo (credited to Dominick Reuter/Reuters) – which doesn’t seem to be on the website – appeared in Thursday’s print edition of the Guardian:-


Surely Mr Trump is using the wrong finger to go along with that facial expression.

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