As the American people march on Washington today, to save their democracy and make a stand for freedom and President Trump, I am proud to say my cousin Martin will be there. I have to hand to the Americans, at least they value their freedom and won't go down without a fight. Good luck to them all today.
It's been a good news/bad news sort of a week. Good news, in that Boris won the election with a sizeable majority so now we can finally get on with Brexit and leaving the EU. I never thought I would be glad to see a Tory Government elected but like many working class, Boris was the only choice to finally settle the debate and I would like to say a huge thank you to the people of England who turned out to vote and make it happen. I feel, for the first time in a very long time, hopeful and optimistic about the future of the country and I think the UK will thrive from here on and that we have a lot to look forward to.
The sheep here turned out to vote for the tribes, as usual. However, there were a few upsets. Sinn Fein lost Foyle to the SDLP and the DUP's, Nigel Dodd’s lost his seat too. Unfortunately, it was to Sinn Fein so that was a bit of a double-edged sword!
With the EU out of the way, the buck will now stop in Westminster (at least, it will once we are out) and our politicians will now (hopefully!) be more accountable for their policies and actions. At least, it will be easier to hold them to account.
Other good news on the election front, was the non-election of Jo Swinson who got a lesson in reality - self-righteous pontificating isn't really much of a policy and a bit of advice for Jo, just because The Guardian say it, doesn't make it true. Now, Jo will have to get a real job and work for a living. Welcome to the real world!
Labour too, got a hard lesson in reality. They deserted the working-classes and now the working-classes have deserted them, at least, temporarily. Although, I was sorry to see Dennis Skinner lose his seat.
Labour hasn't been a working-class party for years, like the politics of Northern Ireland, their view of the world is out of date and so are most of their policies. What we have also seen, is that reality trumps ideology and we are now moving towards a post-ideological world. The extremes of right and left ideology no longer work when faced with the practical reality of life. Labour needs to restructure and start living in the real world and not in some 'socialist' Utopian ideal that exists only in the minds of those who have only ever lived comfortable, middle-class lives. Especially, when in recent years, they pontificate and insult their voting heartlands with their self-righteous grand-standing and try to ignore the voice of that majority.
On the bad news front, we lost Dr David Bellamy, the naturalist and critic of the 'climate change' fraud. His opposition to that fraud saw him side-lined by the media and many of the environmental groups he was involved with. I hope the day is coming soon when the lies of the mainstream media are finally exposed on this and with the EU out of the way, that will, I hope, be the end to their funding of the propaganda and distortions of the truth.
And if anyone is still in doubt about 'climate change', answer this one simple question (even Jo Swinson could work this one out!)
Who is more likely to tell you the truth about the effects of Co2 on the climate of this planet?
A - An American politician, Al Gore?
B - An unqualified and uneducated, 16 year old with a learning disability, Greta Thunberg?
C - A naturalist and environmentalist with a Phd in Botany and over 40 years of campaigning on the environment, Dr David Bellamy?
On the news/news front, since you cannot trust the BBC or any of the mainstream services, I would recommend Sky News Australia. A completely different beast from Sky News UK which, I would never allow in the door but a great channel with some great commentators. You can find it on Youtube.
So, roll on 2020, and the US election. This will probably return a massive vote for Trump since the US is also enduring the same self-righteous grandstanding that we have endured from the Neo-Liberal Fascist's in our midst but from the Democratic Party in their propaganda war of lies as they try to cover up Biden's dirty deals in Ukraine. Watch this space...
Since I was out every night this week, and both the weather and the telly were crap on Saturday, I went out to see Joker as I didn't want to have to wait at least another week before I could get to the cinema and also, to see if it lived up to the hype, which it does.
Joaquin Phoenix delivers a stunning performance as Arthur Fleck, a man clinging to the bottom rung of life, in desperate need of a break or maybe just a genuine act of human kindness. (Don’t we all Arthur, I feel your pain…)
This Joker is no comic book cartoon character, in the mould of a Jim Carrey or Jack Nicholson Joker, and while Heath Ledger brought a new dimension to the character in the Dark Knight Trilogy, this Joker has a much darker edge. This is not an action hero movie and Joker is not the nemesis for some do-gooding boy wonder to flex his virtue-signalling heroics. It is much more and he is more than that too; he is Joe Ordinary pushed over the edge of sanity, scraping together a miserable existence, in a miserable world, the demented product of a sick and demented society.
Considering the attention this movie is getting, there is more to this than just a brilliant acting performance, it is hitting nerves in all the wrong/right(?) places.
I can understand why the NLF's are nervously fiddling with their self-righteous indignation, worried that Joker might inspire copycat acts of violence, for if ever a movie encapsulated the disconnection between those at the top and those who are not, Joker depressingly does. He is the bogeyman who, by his actions, inspires a violent revolution against society and the rich, and (spoiler alert) who publicly executes smug talk show host Murray Franklin (Robert DeNiro) when he is invited on to his show after Murray has used a tape of his comedy routine to mock and scoff him (shades of X Factor auditions?) but when it goes viral, sees it as an opportunity to be exploited.
There is also some controversy around the use of one of Gary Glitter’s song and one of the reviews I read, accused the director (Todd Philips) of trying to be ‘edgy’ by using the track. I have to say, I found the music appropriate and suited to the scene (and it is a good song regardless of what you may think of Glitter) and maybe the director was not being edgy but merely using the music of Glitter to highlight the hypocrisy of the elite who would condemn Gary Glitter but cover up and excuse the equally deplorable actions of the ‘right’ people (Epstein/Prince Andrew/Weinstein/Saville/Catholic Church).
One of Arthur Fleck’s grievances with the world is that no-one listens anymore, that people are nasty and cruel and have no compassion for their fellow human beings. He is the on screen manifestation of the injustice and inequality that has been eating into the heart of those on the bottom rung of society for years and who have been ignored and dismissed by those on the top. He is one of the ‘deplorables’ like those coal-miners who Hilary Clinton vowed to put out of work and, who kept her out of the White House, when they gave their vote to Trump.
When Arthur first hits back against the bankers, he feels powerful, the little guy has fought back against those who would look down their nose at him and I certainly felt a sense of satisfaction in his actions.
Joaquin Phoenix’s portrayal of Arthur Fleck has created a character that repels and appeals in equal measure but he is also a character that many will identify and sympathise with, and Joker is, in my opinion, the perfect movie for this time. It captures the zeitgeist and demonstrably highlights the disconnection between the top and bottom of society. De Niro perfectly encapsulates all those self-righteous media types who sneer and scoff at the outsiders (Trump supporters/Brexiteers) and those who don’t quite fit in with the ‘right’ people or have the ‘right’ opinion. And there was, again, a certain satisfaction when Arthur dispatched him to meet his maker. There are other violent scenes and there is one scene where the character attacks a former work colleague which is pretty gruesome and one that I couldn’t watch but which demonstrates the twisted morality of the world of Arthur.
I felt the film had a strong political message or maybe my own political outlook has led me to see more in it than the director was aiming for, but Joker hits a nerve, and I fully expect to see Joker masks on the front line of political protests.
Overall, I would highly recommend seeing the film, it is a fair construction of a character from the Batman series but this is not a film for children. This is a bleak and disturbing portrayal of what could happen to any one of us, if our lives got off to a bad start and turned the wrong way. I will, in all probability, go and see it again, it is definitely worth a second viewing.
The ending is ambiguous and I will leave you to make up your own mind about it but at the end Arthur is laughing and is asked what he is laughing at. He replies ‘you wouldn’t get it’ and with Trump up for re-election next year and Brexit looming on the horizon maybe that final message should give the Neo-liberal Fascists something to think about because I still don’t think they are…you have been warned!
We haven't had a working government in Stormont for 2 years now. It's a political stalemate between the 2 extremes of Irish Republicanism (Sinn Fein) and Unionism (DUP) which are, in all probability, irreconcilable. Especially, since the DUP hold the balance of power in Westminster and are keeping Theresa May in office and the Conservatives in government.
The same political stalemate is happening in the US with the stand-off between a Republican president threatening to close down the Government again and the Democrat-controlled Senate refusing to fund his wall.
Then, we have the political shambles of Brexit with Theresa May incompetently lurching from one crisis to the next and unable to deliver a 'deal'. There is political stalemate with Europe refusing to renegotiate and neither the Left nor the Right anywhere able to fully grasp the reality of life outside the Parliamentary bubble for the rest of us and deliver what we want and need and not just on Brexit.
The stagnation of politics in the West at the present time is because we are caught between 2 irreconcilable positions, the Left and the Right, or public vs private and there is no-one of competence, capable of stepping up and delivering a coherent and practical alternative. (Well, apart from me!)
The other problem is that the political structure and the policies of the Left and Right are years out of date and do not serve the world of today. The Right dominates at the moment because the Left have collapsed and failed to address the reasons for this. Tony Blair did attempt to move Labour from the old policies of the 70’s that had kept them out of office and towards the middle but unfortunately, he kept going in that direction and ended up more right-wing than some Tories.
The Right believe in capitalism, especially Free Market Capitalism which has been the doctrine since the 1980’s. It doesn’t matter that it collapsed in 2008; those on the Right still refuse to acknowledge its failure or to acknowledge that it worked best when it came with a social conscience as it did in the time of people like Cadbury and Rowntree.
The political doctrines of the left and right were drawn up when the parties were formed, either in response to or opposition to, events or social and political conditions as Labour did after the Second World War when the populace demanded change. The Welfare State was set up to address the demand for better health care, education and housing and to provide a safety net against poverty. However, the Conservative Party detest the Welfare State and have been doing their best to dismantle it since then. Their belief in the private over public is best seen in the way they sold off and privatised all the nationalised industries.
Here in the North, Sinn Fein are becoming strangulated by their ‘ideals’. Their refusal to sit in Parliament was a policy drawn up a hundred years ago as a protest against British rule in Ireland. Since they have signed and accepted the Good Friday Agreement, they have accepted British rule in the North so why are they not taking their seats? They also have a problem with the oath to the Queen but let’s be realistic about it, would anyone think they really meant it? Or they could do what Tony Benn always did and cross their fingers. If they were in Parliament, they could at least drum up support against the oath from other Parliamentarians and get rid of it altogether. Ironically, if they had taken the seven seats they won after the last election, they could have made life very difficult for the Government and since they were able to change their position on the EU from anti to pro within a couple of years, I don’t see why they can’t make that change.
The doctrines of the Left and Right, like Sinn Fein and the DUP are based on certain ideals. Each has their own belief in what the world should be from their perspective and they try and shape it to fit in with those ideals. That’s not to say that having ideals is necessarily a bad thing but when it translates into policies and dogma that are unchangeable and cause political stagnation then it becomes a problem.
The politic world is ripe for change, a middle way has to be found between left and right, a balance between public and private because as history has shown us, neither of these options has worked when put into practice. It is time to abandon the doctrines of the past and move towards a new way of working. Brexit has shown that issue-based politics has driven a wedge through the left and the right but it also offers hope of a better way of working in the future. Unfortunately, (or fortunately?) it would mean the parties within Westminster would have to abandon their dogmatic political position and work to deliver a solution where politicians would work together to resolve the issues instead of trying to impose a party-based solution more concerned with keeping a government in power but which cannot deliver in the long term.
We need a complete restructuring of the political landscape. We should decide on the issues, healthcare, housing, transport, security, education, what are we willing to support through taxation, what kind of society do we want and what are we willing to do to create it? In abandoning party politics and moving towards issue-based politics, we would be dealing with the actual problems, free from the dogma and rhetoric of the past and instead, focussed on finding a solution to today’s problems. It would also mean a reduction in government and an end to cronyism and corporate predominance.
There should also be rules in place so that only people who actually live in a constituency have the right to stand for election in that constituency. This would get rid of the London-centric politics which has split the country and left those outside the London and Parliamentary bubble feeling disconnected and forgotten.
While many are worried about Brexit, we should see it as an opportunity to redraw the political landscape. Once Britain is free from Brussels, we have the chance to start over, to wipe the slate clean and rebuild society and the political structure. Margaret Thatcher once said ‘there is no such thing as society’, this was a very famous quote but it was only part of what she said, she went on to say, ‘There are individual men and women, and there are families. And no government can do anything except through people, and people must look after ourselves and then look after our neighbour. It is time to look after ourselves.
Change will come, the disaffection of the people with politicians and the political structure is evident across the world. We have hit an impasse and Brexit has revealed the failure of the Left and Right to find a way forward or to offer a solution. If we are to move forward, then we have to address the realities of the world today and create a political structure that serves the needs of the people and the country first. The day of party politics is coming to an end, change can be frightening but with a little courage and imagination, there is no telling what kind of society we could create. All it takes is the will to make it happen, we can be idealistic and wish for a better world but at the end of the day, it is up to us to create it. Idealism does have its place, it can and does inspire us to action, great men like Mahatma Ghandi were idealistic and achieved so much but it was achieved through action and by facing and dealing with the realities of the day.
Idealism fails when it doesn’t deal with reality as we have seen only too well in the last century.
Albert Einstein once said, ’Learn from yesterday, live for today, hope for tomorrow’. I think we should learn from yesterday, act today and tomorrow will take care of itself’.
A few weeks ago, a bomb went off in Derry; a stark reminder of what can happen when the ‘ideals’ of the past, impinge on the present reality. When vacuums open up in politics and leadership (quite often between their ears!), the worst elements step in and try to fill them.
I took my life in my hands and headed out on Friday night to see Atom Heart Floyd in the Balor Theatre, in Ballybofey. I didn't realise at the time, I was taking a chance with my life by going. Storm Eric was forecast, it was raining and a bit windy but nothing overly tempestuous. However, by the time the show was over, Eric had arrived in full force. Between the howling gale and the torrential rain, it was a treacherously slow drive home, much of the time on the wrong side or in the middle of the road, to avoid the pools of water.
Was it worth it? Definitely! A great time was had by all!
Atom Heart Floyd hail from the south of England so keep an eye out for them if you're a Floyd fan, they put on a good show and if they come back this way again, I'll definitely be there.
They started off with some early Floyd from the Sid Barrett era and finished the show with Comfortably Numb. They had a large circular screen and throughout the show, there were mini films projected on to it featuring, among others, Sid Barrett and other surreal graphics and images. During Brain Damage, from the Dark Side of the Moon album, they showed film of politicians from the 80's, Maggie Thatcher, Ronald Reagan, Yasser Arafat, Saddam Hussein, Boris Yeltsin, Gorbachev and a few other less notables. While listening to the lyrics and watching the screen, I was struck with the thought that at one time these people were all giants on the political world stage, inspiring admiration and loathing in equal measure. Now, practically all of them are dead.
Considering the state of politics in the world at the moment, this was a comforting thought, because it made me realise that no matter how big they are politically or how much power they might wield, eventually, their time will pass, things will change and they too, will become a footnote in the history books or an image on a screen, reminding us of the past insanity of our 'leaders'. I can safely look back now to all the anti-Russian rhetoric of the 80's and the threat of nuclear war that hung over us like a cloud of lead and see that it was nothing more than egotistical grand-standing by idiots with too much power and not enough sense to realise the limits of their time on earth. They could have done so much good but most of them wasted it. In a thousand years, who will even remember them? So, if you're worried about Trump, Putin, Brexit or anything else in the world, political or otherwise, take comfort in the fact that it won't last forever or as Shakespeare so brilliantly put it -
And all our yesterdays have lighted fools
The way to dusty death. Out, out, brief candle!
Life’s but a walking shadow, a poor player
That struts and frets his hour upon the stage
And then is heard no more. It is a tale
Told by an idiot, full of sound and fury,
There's an old saying, 'Good fences make good neighbours' which basically means take care of what is on your side of the fence and recognise where the physical and psychological boundaries or borders lie between you and your neighbours.
There is a place called Wall in the film Stardust which is in my DVD collection and which I like to watch on a fairly regular basis. It's a nice movie, ideal for a Saturday or Sunday afternoon. I might even watch it this week as I've a few days holidays to take. So, sometimes 'wall' can be a good thing and borders too, especially when they are filled with flowers. Even fences, when they are well built, the US is built on the ideal of the 'white picket fence' in the neighbourhood.
Trump is still looking to build his wall between the US and Mexico and threatening to shut the government down again if he doesn't get the funding from Congress. I for one,am quite happy for Donald to build his wall...but with one condition. He keeps the US military on their side of it and I mean all their military.
Now that they have decided to pull out of the INF nuclear proliferation treaty, there is a real possibility of the US deploying their nuclear bombs in Europe as a defence against 'threats' from Russia.
Every time I hear about the US and their nukes, I go back about 3 years ago, to the morning I was listening to Radio 4 and there was a general on talking about the plan to go to war with Russia within 3 years because they had these new limited nuclear bombs which they wanted to try out. I have mentioned this before on the blog. John Humphries was interviewing him and basically said, 'that's insane!'. But the election of Trump threw a bit of a spanner in the works, Hilary was supposed to get in which is why Obama had started to build up the anti-Russian rhetoric towards the end of his tenure in anticipation of the coming conflict.
Unfortunately, it seems that Trump has now been leveraged by or sold his soul to the Halliburton's and the other corporate hawks (assuming, of course, that he had one to begin with!.) From here on in, there will be more and more anti-Putin and anti-Russian propaganda in the mainstream media. Don't believe a word of if although, tensions have certainly increased now that Russia has decided to withdraw too.
Those who make war, don't fight them. They profit by them at the expense and with the blood of ordinary, usually poor and/or working class. For everyone's sake, don't let your children or your neighbours children be sacrificed for corporate profits!
I was reading an article in The Observer at the weekend by Stewart Lee where he was comparing Donald Trump’s meeting with the Pope as a ‘good vs evil’ encounter. Trump in this scenario being likened to Satan, and the Pope being the ‘good’ guy. Whatever your opinion on ‘the Donald’, I really don’t think he is completely evil any more than the Pope is completely ‘good’. I mean, is Donald Trump really more ‘evil’ than the Pope?
Look at it this way, the Pope has, for most of his life, been a member of the Catholic Church. An organisation that has been responsible for the systemic rape, abuse and possible murder of the most vulnerable of children, on a global scale. There is nowhere on the planet where the Catholic Church has been, that doesn’t have a legacy of the most appalling physical and sexual abuse of minors and that is a fact. I don't really think the title Pope, is short for Protector of Paedophiles, I think that's just a rumour...
Now, as far as I know, Donald Trump hasn’t done anything like that to children. He does have his faults but paedophilia I don’t think, is among them and certainly not on the scale committed by the Catholic Church. Now, Pope Francis is head of that organisation and he appears to be a ‘good’ person. He makes a lot of statements about humanity and appears to say all the right things. However, as a member of that organisation and now head, what has he done to root out the paedophiles? Does he have a legacy of outing paedophiles or railing against the terrible abuses being carried out by the membership?
Jimmy Saville, who was once a much-loved ‘national treasure’, is now reviled for the rape and sexual abuse of children, young girls and vulnerable adults. Would you worship in a church led by Jimmy Saville or even an organisation that regarded him as a ‘good’ person? Yet, the Pope and the Catholic Church are still seen as something that should be respected?
Jimmy Saville got away with the things he did because so many ‘good’ people stood by and either said nothing or covered up his behaviour. This same man was given a knighthood and dined with Margaret Thatcher every Christmas at Chequers. There is a clip of a video online where the great John Lyndon (aka Johnny Rotten) talks about Saville and what he gets up to. The clip was never shown back in the 70’s, the powers that be, protecting Saville. Yet, Johnny Rotten was held up by the media, at the same time, as a threat to the decency of the nation.
There is much that I disagree with Donald Trump about, but I don’t believe he is inherently evil. He is certainly a product of his environment and upbringing. Arrogant? For sure! Misogynistic? Definitely, but evil? Well, who’s to say...yet? And credit where credit is due, he did get rid of TTIP, that foul trade agreement that was going to hand over the nations of Europe to the corporate elite, as if they didn’t have enough of us already.
Now, his trade deal with Saudi Arabia could be regarded as an evil act but the British government is the world’s second biggest arms dealer/supplier, and to some very dodgy states. Are they evil or are they just 'protecting' the nation?
There are acts of evil being committed around the world day and daily. Some deliberately, some accidentally; like Theresa May, ‘accidentally’ losing that list of paedophile MP’s when she was Home Secretary or now, wanting to bring back a ‘sport’ that involves the hunting, terrorising and tearing to shreds of that most beautiful of animals, the fox. Not to mention being part of a party that seems intent on grinding the poor, the vulnerable and the working class into the ground.
Which acts are more evil, and which people? Those who commit the deeds or those who stand silently by and let them happen or help cover them up?
By the way folks, election coming up, so don't forget to vote, the future of Reynard may depend on you...
So, we're finally here after all the bitching, whining and insults with the big vote tomorrow. In theory, I should support Hilary as I'm a feminist and it would be an historic moment for the US to have a female president.
On the other hand, we have 'the Donald', the candidate of choice for the anti-establishment vote which, in theory, I should also support.
Between a rock and a hard place! The only difference I can see is that there's less chance of a war with Russia under Trump. Realistically, the power of the president is curbed by Congress and the judiciary so I don't think he could really do much damage on a global scale but then again, who knows?
In the end, I don't really think it will really matter who the US votes for because the government will still get in anyway.......
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