Trump lies

Mr Trump cannot be dignified, even when he attempts to imitate a dignified man.

CNN’s report from the time gives the detail. The NYT says that in 2001 Serge Kovaleski reported that the authorities had questioned “a number of people” who were allegedly seen celebrating the attack on the World Trade Centre. He did not report the thousands of Muslims Trump claimed to have seen because that was not true. He did not change his story as Trump alleged, because he never supported Trump’s fantasy.

What is a lie? David Leonhardt points out that some would say “Capitalism has worked better than any other economic system” is a subjective statement. He says it is factual. There is a moment where facts, whose denial is a lie, move into a grey area where there is honest disagreement. There are assertions which are the most accurate we can make, which are nevertheless inaccurate- Newton’s theory of gravity is wrong, but the best possible at the time.

There is also dishonest disagreement. Leonhardt’s second factual statement, Human actions are warming and damaging the planet, is disputed and minimised. It’s just weather, the climate has always changed. The disagreement comes to advance the interests of fossil fuel investors, who make money from releasing CO2.

Here is what Meryl Streep said:

An actor’s only job is to enter the lives of people who are different from us and let you feel what that feels like. And there were many, many, many powerful performances this year that did exactly that, breathtaking, passionate work.

There was one performance this year that stunned me. It sank its hooks in my heart. Not because it was good. There was nothing good about it. But it was effective and it did its job. It made its intended audience laugh and show their teeth. It was that moment when the person asking to sit in the most respected seat in our country imitated a disabled reporter, someone he outranked in privilege, power, and the capacity to fight back. It kind of broke my heart when I saw it. I still can’t get it out of my head because it wasn’t in a movie. It was real life.

And this instinct to humiliate, when it’s modelled by someone in the public platform, by someone powerful, it filters down into everybody’s life, because it kind of gives permission for other people to do the same thing. Disrespect invites disrespect. Violence incites violence. When the powerful use their position to bully others, we all lose.

Trump tweeted,

Hillary flunky who lost big. For the 100th time, I never “mocked” a disabled reporter (would never do that) but simply showed him…….

“groveling” when he totally changed a 16 year old story that he had written in order to make me look bad. Just more very dishonest media!

Kellyanne Conway said, He has debunked this so many times. Why is everything taken at face value? You can’t give him the benefit of the doubt on this and he’s telling you what was in his heart? You always want to go by what’s come out of his mouth rather than look at what’s in his heart.

Well, what is in his heart? Unquenchable malice towards anyone who questions him, or even inadvertently gets in his way, especially women. Playground insults, no sense of proportion, no dignity, just the arrogance of Idi Amin.

Unfortunately, politics in the US has been pushing the grey area of opinion further and further. No, there are dozens, not millions, of fraudulent votes, but Republicans proceed with voter suppression schemes, requiring photo ID which poor voters may not have. Trump extended their denial of climate change to denial of the ozone hole.

Trump, unsatisfied by big lies, wants lots of little lies. He showed Mr Kovaleski grovelling, he claims, and if his supporters accept his denial of climate change they will swallow that. Some of his lies depend on knowledge of detail: the intelligence services did not decide whether the Russians influenced the election, because that is not their job, but he tweeted, Intelligence stated very strongly there was absolutely no evidence that hacking affected the election results. Voting machines not touched! Before, he had denied the Russians were involved. Enough of the populace will swallow this, happy that their man is winning.

Our shared understanding of the truth is chipped away, and everything is disputed on the battle-ground that is politics. It makes working “across the aisle” near impossible. On The Hill, a commenter said, Babs,baby, haven’t you learned yet that if you hit The Donald he is gonna hit you back twice as hard. Go eat some rare caviar from endangered fish in your carbon spewing mega-mansion, fly around on your private jet while lecturing the rest of us how we are destroying the environment and leave the rest of us alone. Barbra Streisand is on the other side, and that is enough. The anger is so great at the other side that they repeat their own side’s lies as truth, and express self-righteous rage and demeaning insults: another commenter says, Old hags mocking fellow Americans and their country which made them millionaires.

The Hill affects a lordly position above the fray: Trump on Monday added that he had never directly insulted reporter Serge Kovaleski’s congenital joint condition, though he inspired outrage last year by making jerky body motions while criticizing Kovaleski, leading some to conclude he was targeting the reporter’s physical challenges. “Some to conclude”! Oh! But Trump was not “criticising” Mr Kovaleski. That is an obvious false characterisation.

In the interests of balance, here is a video saying Trump never mocked Mr Kovaleski. It has a news report at 2.50 saying an investigator said an apartment full of “suspects” celebrated the 9/11 attack. Not thousands, though, and only allegedly celebrating. “I watched in Jersey City, NJ, when thousands of people were cheering as that building was coming down.” No you didn’t, liar.

Trump says

Headline in NYT begins, “Trump says”. It is their seventh trending article. It is a mess.

Mr Trump says something which is doubtful. This is not news- in public he lies more than he tells the truth. He says what would serve his interests for others to believe, even if it is blatantly ridiculous, because enough people will take up the lie- three million fraudulent votes! Obama Kenyan!

Starting with Trump’s statement muddies the waters. The full headline is Trump says intelligence officials delayed briefing on Russian hacking. Did Russian interference affect the US election? That’s a question for historians. What do we know about it now? What are the latest developments? Journalists tackle that. But this is not a new development, only a tweet. Trump tweets, and NYT expatiates, and millions read breathlessly, again irritated by the horror that is their unpresidented-elect. It is unclear whether Trump is receiving the President’s daily intelligence briefing, the article says, but we knew that: he claimed not to need it. Details mount in confusion, one topic or another, about how dreadful Trump is- but mostly a feeling rather than clear evidence, sorted in a rational way. And his supporters do not care. No-one will be swayed by this article.

Donald Trump is racist, and NYT had a long careful article documenting evidence of that. Now, “Racist” is not just a slur people can throw at him, or a feeling they have about him, because we can cite particular incidents. A useful op-ed or feature might categorise evidence of Trump’s lying, its purpose and effects; but this one is not that. We don’t know. National intelligence declined to comment, Administration officials disputed it. There will be a full intelligence report, expected on Friday, on Russia’s interference. That would let people know its extent; but it will be secret, as it would reveal how the intelligence services find their information. So Mr Obama will know the extent of the interference, and even Mr Trump might, if he keeps a rigid wall in his mind between his understanding of reality and the fantasies he spins for others, but not the public, unless someone sitting on his bed who weighs 400 lbs hacks it.

Has Mr Trump a mandate? Did his vote in swing states increase because of actions by a foreign power? What should patriotic Americans think of a president in office by such means? Americans decided to obsess over the Podesta emails, and Americans decided which way to vote- we could not know the result of the election in an alternative universe without the hacking. Did trumped-up scandals about Democrats outweigh in people’s minds the scandal of Mr Trump refusing to release his tax returns, and his lie that he could not because of an IRS audit? Were people influenced by scandals, character, or even policies or issues? Is Cambridge Analytica more responsible, and more dangerous?

Mr Trump is squirting ink, pretending he has a mandate. Well, he would. He seems to think Russian interference makes his mandate less persuasive, so he denies the interference, but his understanding is not necessarily true.

The Russian hacking is so important that daily articles are worthwhile, explaining any developments; but undue attention to Trump’s tweets about anything merely increases his malign influence.

I couldn’t immediately find an article analysing, classifying, enumerating Trump’s lies, proving him a liar. The Jackson Sun, part of the USA Today network, calls him a “black liar” but only fact checks some statements about his charitable foundation. Boingboing reports the Wall Street Journal editor’s refusal to call his clear falsehoods lies, as that ascribes a moral intent to him. Boingboing calls the WSJ editor an “asshole” but does not discuss it. Marion Schneider in Stock News USA says Everyone is hoping for the best and hope that Trump will be a good president in spite of his lying nature. The country and its citizens are relying on him to do his best. Residual respect for the office, and possibly libel laws, hold publications back. The Chicago Tribune and the Daily Freeman have letters calling him a liar. HuffPo has one of those non-story non-articles– Someone said something in a television interview! The headline Carl Bernstein: Donald Trump’s Disdain For Facts Worse Than Nixon was enough to get me to click, and my regret was almost instantaneous. HuffPo’s “reporter” prissily terms Trump’s lies “factually incorrect assertions”. People who make as many factually incorrect assertions as Trump are either fools or knaves, and those who love America and its people should not assume Mr Trump is stupid.

A similar non-article in Good Magazine led me to a facebook post and then this Washington Post “blog post”, which should have been first on Google News. Was Trump lying? The standard that [the WSJ editor] adopts — that there must be a provable intent to mislead — seems woefully inadequate to informing readers about what Trump is really up to here. Sure, it’s possible that Trump continued to believe these things after they were debunked. We cannot prove otherwise. But so what? If we accept that it’s possible to prove something to be false — which Baker does, judging by his own comments — then we presumably also accept that this can be adequately proved to Trump. And so, Trump is telling a falsehood even though it has been demonstrated to him to be a falsehood.

If we don’t call that “lying,” or if we don’t squarely and prominently label these claims as “false,” don’t we risk enabling Trump’s apparent efforts to obliterate the possibility of agreement on shared reality? Even here, there is a rhetorical question rather than a statement. Have the courage of your convictions. The evidence is there. Trump is a liar.

breslau-conversation-at-the-table

Anger, truth and politics

Why would anyone create pizzagate memes, anyway? How can we respond?

I had not heard of John Podesta before the RussiLeaks email dump. Some of his emails concerned domestic trivia like getting pizza. Pizza was seen as a code for child sex, and the links between them endlessly elaborated on 4Chan. Why?

Message boards members like attention. Creativity, originality, clever expression and even playfulness bring Attention. Members flock with like minds in echo chambers and hugboxes. Manosphere people, white nationalists and others who hate Mrs Clinton, congregate. If you do not feel you get sufficient respect yourself, you may resent moral injunctions to respect others. Unsuccessful millennial males resent being told to check their privilege.

The hatred and anger is enough. Accusations of child abuse and child murder express that anger- they are proportionate to the levels of anger felt. If no expression of anger is acceptable, then any may erupt. It does not need to be true. So Michael Flynn junior tweets, Until pizzagate proven to be false, it’ll remain a story. Well, Birtherism, never credible, rumbles on. Pizzagate expresses rage against the “liberal elite”, who the 4Chanists think are so horrible to them (for ignoring or lecturing them): it is as bad as if they were child-sex-cannibals.

Michael Flynn senior tweeted U decide- NYPD blows whistle on new Hillary emails- money laundering, sex crimes w children etc, though that tweet was about false stories connecting Mrs Clinton to Jeffrey Epstein, not “Pizzagate”. The general is a disastrous choice for National Security Adviser, a prolific source of conspiracy theories known as “Flynn facts”, but not a 4chan addict.

The President-Elect expresses such anger. He claims stories of Russia working to influence the election in his favour are valueless, the product of Democrat sore losers: These are the same people that said Saddam Hussein had weapons of mass destruction. That derision is music to the ears of the 4Chanists. Derision is the opposite of respect. Feeling derided, they deride back.

If we feel we have something in common, then we will show respect and listen to the other side. Trump can whip up his own side, with derision and anger, accentuating the divides in society. He is not a fool. He uses it as a weapon to build political support. Lies are his tools to build resentment, rage, and derision, so he may destroy as he wishes, and profit from it.

It is tempting to use anger in response. Certainly, anger can give energy. Charles M. Blow writes, Angry yet? Yes. Good!…This is the reason I write, to remind people of honor and courage; to tell them that their cause isn’t lost, that their destiny is victory. Maybe I am confined by my craft, pumping out polemics that, it is my great hope, help to stiffen the spines and lift the spirits of those determined to stare down the threat. However, I fear that such angry confrontation may make the gulf between us worse.

Can we use truth to overcome Trump’s weapons?

I am a critical realist. I believe there is a “Real world” where we interact and where there is objective truth- but it is too complex for human beings to grasp. It is worth the attempt. The closer we get to understanding truth, the better we respond- but perhaps (thinking it through now) there is an optimum level of truth, for each individual. After a certain approximation, greater effort to be more certain of the truth will not yield proportionate returns. If the truth seems to be that you have no hope, denial and lies may be comforting.

People see things differently. Nietzsche did not say, And those who were seen dancing were thought to be insane by those who could not hear the music, though he came close. For Nietzsche, accusations of sickness go both ways:

Even in the German Middle Ages, under the same power of Dionysus, constantly growing hordes thronged from place to place, singing and dancing…. There are people who, from a lack of experience or out of apathy, turn mockingly or pityingly away from such phenomena as from a “sickness of the people,” with a sense of their own health. These poor people naturally do not have any sense of how deathly and ghost-like this very “health” of theirs sounds, when the glowing life of the Dionysian throng roars past them.

And, he wrote, ‘You have your way. I have my way. As for the right way, the correct way, and the only way, it does not exist’. That is called “Perspectivism”.

I was fascinated by Jack Maden’s To Be Frank magazine article on the quote, aimed at Millennials. It addresses a complex philosophical question in a simple way. It starts by asking its readers to digest and unpack the meaning of the quote, fearful that they will merely see it, declare it deep, and move on to click-bait, forgetting it; because their attention spans are hurling some real angry, sustained abuse my way: ‘BORED. THIS IS BORING’. Maden summarises Nietzsche: there is a multitude of differing perspectives that are subject to cultural, societal and biological limitations. It is only through combining these different views that we can begin to appreciate a broader understanding of the universe we live in. Against that, he pits scientific investigators, patiently accumulating data and mathematical theorising to create objective explanations. (My answer there- Newton was a genius, explaining the observations through his theory of gravity, and Newton was wrong. 19th century observations demonstrated that.) All human observations are subjective, and have different meanings for each of us. Metaphor dances beyond objectivity.

How do the denizens of 4Chan or Reddit view truth? Their attention spans might not be long enough to consider evidence, preferring the quick hit of a witty allusion- These are the same people that said Saddam Hussein had weapons of mass destruction. It mocks The Enemy, and encourages Our Own Side. Your resentment and anger are Right! You are the Good People! Let me smite your enemies- those who tell you what to do, the Liberal Metropolitan Elites- for you!

They follow the leaders of the Right. No-one says that voter suppression is necessary because they don’t want people of colour to vote, they say it is necessary because of fraudulent voting. Disregard for truth did not start with Trump, it has been happening all this century.

I am glad when people speak up for truth. I hope that people can be taught to value truth, and to see that seeking the truth is worth the effort- but that is not an easy lesson for people in despair, who enjoy the buzz they get from anger. What good will truth do them? Why should they listen to you?

The antidote to derision is respect. The antidote to anger is Love. Love can still be derided, called patronising, and portrayed as weakness, but it is the only way. In the world of Trump and Farage, where centre-right Conservatism bows to the Nationalists, we have a long way to go.

The Charles M Blow article is illustrated with a protestor holding up a banner- THE FUTURE IS NASTY. Women have adopted Trump’s arrogant dismissal of Mrs Clinton as a “Nasty woman”- no more deference! Self-respect is necessary; but the energy of anger must not give rise to an angry reaction, but a loving response.

From Common Prayer- a Liturgy for Ordinary Radicals:

Peace is not just about the absence of conflict; it’s also about the presence of justice.  …  A counterfeit peace exists when people are pacified or distracted or so beat up and tired of fighting that all seems calm. But true peace does not exist until there is justice, restoration, forgiveness. Peacemaking doesn’t mean passivity. It is the act of interrupting injustice without mirroring injustice, the act of disarming evil without destroying the evildoer, the act of finding a third way that is neither fight nor flight but the careful, arduous pursuit of reconciliation and justice. It is about a revolution of love that is big enough to set both the oppressed and the oppressors free.

Denial

Here’s Donny on hairspray.

Well, yes CFCs can affect the ozone layer. Gas can leave his apartment, or he would suffocate. It then circulates through the atmosphere and catalyses a reaction, breaking down the O3, causing a 4% reduction worldwide since the 1970s as well as the holes at the poles. That lets solar UV light reach the surface of the planet, causing skin cancer, cataracts, and damage to crops. The gases we used to replace CFCs mitigate the effect.

Reducing CO2 is complex, but replacing CFCs with HFCs was comparatively simple. The treaties are old, and more or less observed. So why deny that reasonable precautions are necessary? Because if you feel you have enough problems, you focus on the most pressing. If someone tells you you can’t use spray cans any more, and you can’t think of an alternative, they are loading more problems on you, and you don’t want to deal with that one. So you say, that does not make sense to me. And they explain catalysis and you don’t want to listen. How reassuring to be told that you don’t have to, that your own instincts- my deodorant can’t damage the atmosphere- are sound.

Donald gives false hope. He reassures. Those people telling you what to do, they’re fools, right? You don’t want to listen to them? You don’t need to! Go with your gut instincts, and don’t let experts tell you what to do!

Saving the planet is a group activity. Countries need to work together. People need to do more, to stop buying certain things, to sort their rubbish out. If you can’t afford petrol, you don’t want to be told that the price needs to go up to reduce CO2.

Warming the planet in thirty or seventy years is overwhelming and distant at the same time. There needs to be group action for the good of all. But the Right does not like group action, it wants everyone to work for themselves, and the market to make wealth gush up to the wealthy- to all those who have, more will be given, and they will have an abundance. So oil companies will continue to profit from extraction of hydrocarbons. And voters go along with this. It feels like freedom. Very little benefit comes from one person recycling their milk cartons anyway.

As for me, I like to work on one problem at a time, and if others tell me I should be working on something else, I resent it. Denial is comforting. If a problem is too great, well, maybe it will never happen. We go on as before. If a problem is insoluble, well, I’ve got to die of something.

Working together is ennobling and empowering. In Britain we have great love for the NHS, the symbol of our society working together for the good of all, and the extreme Right used that to get us to vote for them, against immigration, even as they tear it down.

Knowing nothing

I know nothing.

The Rabbi was in the square when the Cossack shouted at him, “Hey! Rabbi! Where’re you going!”

The Rabbi responded, “I don’t know”.

The Cossack got angry. “You’re trying to make a fool of me. It won’t work. You always go to the synagogue at this time. I’ll show you you can’t make a fool of me. You’re coming to the lock-up.”

In the lock-up, the Rabbi said to the Cossack, “You asked me where I was going, and I did not know.”

On my facebook feed I can find an understanding of Mr Trump. He is casually corrupt; he has forgotten any number of campaign promises already- the wall, in many places, will just be a fence, and he is not going to torture suspected terrorists; and he appoints dreadful people to his cabinet, including the racist Steve Bannon, the racist Jeff Sessions, and the climate denialist Myron Ebell. He threatens the end of the Republic as a functioning democracy, and may be a kleptocrat as formerly seen in the Philippines and Nigeria. We must be saved from him, by the Electoral College whose purpose is to prevent demagogues (rather than to give a disproportionately large voice to smaller states) or by Jill Stein’s recounts, though no recount has ever overturned such a large majority.

Unfortunately, other people simply do not recognise this. Lots of people are inspired by hope in him and what he will achieve.

“NW” by Zadie Smith is an angry novel. (I saw the TV dramatisation.) Keisha from the council estate works hard, goes to university, and becomes barrister Natalie, effortless dinner party hostess. She is instructed, not to represent the prosecution but merely to appear as a black barrister in the prosecution of a black man, before a black jury. She downloads a hookup app, and sexually humiliates random men. She stands on the parapet of a bridge over a busy road. An old friend begs her to come down, then walks off, loathing her. In the end she goes back to her childhood best friend, who has not had such a career, who is white, and they slump on a hammock. I was reminded, she cannot be colour-blind, she is always aware of skin colour and its social effect. It is chaotic and episodic, not just the happy story of a woman succeeding against all the odds.

The Investigatory Powers Bill requires every ISP to keep our Histories for a year, to surrender on demand to any number of government agencies, including the Department for Work and Pensions. No doubt the DWP could disqualify any number of benefit cheats, requiring them to pay back any money paid to them, on the basis that their internet practices were inconsistent with being unfit for work, or their eBay activities showed them to be self-employed traders, a conclusion to be applauded by the Daily Mail. Any number of criminals could be unmasked. Religious extremists may also be caught. Parliament Must Debate the Investigatory Powers Bill Again, said HuffPo. It has been passed by Commons and Lords. Perhaps the Queen will save us from it- as much chance as Jill Stein’s recounts.

from those who have nothing, even what they have will be taken away. I find this verse unpleasant to contemplate. I know I am alright for the moment. What I have, perhaps, is false hope.

suzanne-valadon-self-portrait

Enemies of Reality

That Donald Trump tweet.

As I write, 52,786 retweets. What are we to say? My first view was, ignore it. He has no evidence for it, and it is an allegation which, if serious, would show that the electoral system in the US is undermined. However, he does not care that it is untrue. It pops into his head, he tweets it, knowing that it will make his supporters angry and self-righteous, and his opponents angry and demoralised. He does not need to act in the interest of a great number of his supporters, only to keep them angry. If they are angry and hopeless enough, he can even act against their interests and they will still vote for him.

Ignore it, I will not allow it to miserify me. The NYT refuted it, expressing cold judgment of the liar and groper. I am clear, the lie is harmful- yet I cannot let it hurt me. Accept the things you cannot change. I am glad the NYT is concerned.

The lie is harmful because it is the basis of voter suppression laws, making people of colour queue longer at polling stations, requiring photo ID which poorer people are less likely to have, etc. Our defence against it is Fact, but for that you need a lot of time to accumulate them, and trusted sources.

Mr McCrory continues to dispute the gubernatorial election in North Carolina. His opponent won a slim but sufficient victory, and he quibbles about votes. Slate tells me that if the race is undecided long enough, it will be referred to the Republican controlled state legislature, which could appoint him Governor though he lost. I don’t find other sources alleging that is his aim. Would they? How far might partisan manipulation of the State constitution go? I hope they would have the integrity to consider the vote clear.

With Mr Trump’s lies and distortions, I cannot be sure. My trust in the system wanes. Though Republican-controlled electoral boards have stood up to Mr McCrory.

Here’s Truth Awakening, on facebook. “Awakening” is the metaphor I would use for getting closer to truth, and the description is inspiring- The truth is available if you want to wake up. Stand up and fight for your civilisation– but I don’t like that word “fight”, and a little digging finds them suspect. They have a meme- “Hi, I’m Jacob Rothschild… we were behind 9/11 and the resulting wars…” Another: “PizzaGate”, a criminal cabal in the shadows of government were “sodomising”, killing and eating children. Oh, God! How could I react to that? I still hope it is untrue, and that enough people would bring it to light if it were true; and powerful men abuse children. I am aware Sir James Savile operated with impunity to his honoured death, before his crimes came out. Paedophilia seems the major interest of “Truth Awakening”.

It could be a tactic- share as much as you can about paedophilia, in the hope of giving your false allegation credibility.

My fbfnd is a member of Veterans for Peace. He was in the British Army in Northern Ireland during the Troubles, and now has made several trips there to talk to former IRA members, for reconciliation. I find this beautiful. He shared a post from Truth Awakening, from the Daily Express, We can’t prove sex with children does them harm, says Labour-linked NCCL. The headline is a lie: the article describes the position of the National Council for Civil Liberties, now Liberty, in 1976, not now, and it was not “sex with children” but “sex between children”- NCCL proposed that where partners between 10 and 16 had less than two years’ age difference, sex should not be an offence. Whether it should raise the suspicions of social workers is a different question, and it was an old story.

I know the Daily Express is a propaganda sheet for the far-right UK Independence Party, whose new leader Paul Nuttall, of North of England working class stock, wants to attract Northern working-class votes, much on the tactic of Trump- keep them angry and hopeless enough and you can take their votes even as you harm their interests. Truth Awakening might think it part of the “Main Stream Media”. It still operates a printed daily paper.

My residual trust in the system stops me believing in “PizzaGate”. My fbfnd does not have the trust in the system, which sent him to point guns at Irish folk, and thought Mrs Clinton a greater warmonger than Mr Trump. So he shares this story. If I said, Come on, it’s Liberty! It’s the Labour Party! They’re the good guys! he might be unmoved, not believing in any good guys.

The Express article is not fake news, but distortion, pretending something is more important than it is. Truth Awakening shares it for its own purposes, my fbfnd shares it on, his other friends express disgust at paedophiles. I feel distress and powerlessness: once enough people are happy to spread misinformation, you can’t trust anything.

I was born into a society! I thought we had common interests, and flourished by working together! Now I find my country atomised. Here’s Stewart Lee railing ineffectually at Paul Nuttall of UKIP:

Mr Pence goes to the Theatre

Friends, you need to calm down. You will have the most ignorant president ever- worse than Reagan- and possibly the most dangerous, but your angry shouting will achieve nothing.

I love clips of Megyn Kelly interviewing Trump-apologists. That look of incredulity, with a tincture of contempt! It is intensely sexual. She starts with a smile of welcome, as at a persistent date who has not yet realised how far out of his league she is. Welcome to my lair. Then the mouth turns down a little, and the eyes widen ever so slightly. Then there’s blood coming out of her- what’stheword?- V- V- Victims! Stephen Colbert and the rest remain entertaining.

As usual, Mr Trump inflamed his opponents.

This is not presidential. He should be above this sort of whining. He has been roundly mocked- “Stop picking on my vice-president” said the British mouthpiece of Mr Murdoch, owner of Fox News. The Sydney Morning Herald just reported the story straight: quoting the tweets is enough to make a fool of Mr Trump. As always.

And yet- there you are on a hair trigger. One side sets to enthusiastically liking and retweeting Mr Trump, the other to abuse. “I don’t think I am going to make it through the next four years.” “I’ll take resignation or impeachment, I’m not picky.” “He turned into a snivelling puddle of poor me.”

Things are serious. The racist Jeff Sessions as Attorney General is a disaster for your country, and Myron Ebell as chief destroyer of the Environmental Protection Agency is a disaster for the planet. Your president-elect’s son in law got Chris Christie sacked as head of the transition team, because Christie prosecuted his father for tax evasion. Your president-elect busily insults foreign leaders. And- a stooshie about Mr Pence being rebuked at the theatre is mere froth.

Some of it is witty. First they came for the Muslims, and we said, ‘not this time motherfucker’. Some makes it worse than it is. People are wearing safety-pins to show they are a safe person. You can trust me, it says, if you are abused in the street. A meme says, “Wouldn’t it be nice if this [a cross pendant] meant, ‘I’m a safe person’.”

You know, it does? It takes an extreme, frothing at the mouth fundamentalist not to be shaken by the abuse of gay people or Muslims in the street. They might wade in. I don’t like the fashion for wearing safety pins. Common civility is not eroded enough for it to be needed. It makes things look worse than they are. Most people, even many racist people, will be uncomfortable if someone is abused in the street, and many will intervene.

When I have been abused, it has usually been quiet. I and the abuser have been the only pedestrians, or I have been alone and someone has shouted abuse from a car. A man abused me once and the woman with him rebuked him, rather than cheering him on. People still read me, and some may object, but keep quiet about it.

We need to lower the temperature. Mr Trump thrives on rage and fear, because they stop people thinking. By expressing care for others, we may enable them to hear differing points of view. From a state of calmness, we may see what positive action we might take.

margaret-sarah-carpenter-ada-lovelace

Victim Culture

I have had a really hard time. I grew up knowing I must conform to a stultifying masculinity, never living up to it, terrified of being found out. Almost no man fits the “man” box, that particular stereotype. It wounds all men, not just trans women.

It wounds cis women too, treated as sex objects, not taken seriously in careers, subject to predatory men at work, and often violent men in relationships.

There you go- we are all victims of society. Of course some are more victims than others: black lives matter, and people need to keep saying that because not everyone seems to agree. There is an angry response. “All lives matter”- why should those POCs draw attention to their deaths? “Blue [police] lives matter”- the police must be able to protect themselves, and even make mistakes.

Yes, all lives matter. Let us care about all lives cut short.

People of colour remain oppressed by society, but white people are too. If you thought you could get a good job, and your prosperity would increase because you work hard, and your children would be better off than you, and instead you have found your real income reduce and become more precarious: you have a right to be angry, though not to oppress others. And if you see others’ difficulties and oppression a subject of concern, but not yours, you have a right to be heard. Even if you are a racist, that does not make your concerns immaterial: hurting people express unheard hurt in a rebarbative way.

When I don’t feel heard, I shout louder. Sometimes my need to be heard so overwhelms me that I can do nothing else until I feel heard. Or my anger stews inside me.

Even Donald Trump is oppressed: his father sounds horrible, and apparently did not inculcate civilised values in him. So he boasts of assaulting women because he feels that such a man is one William Bush will respect, and then he is called disgusting. Poor man! His acts should be corrected, but his person, or being, has value as a human being created in the image of God, and deserves Love. If he could be loved simply for himself, rather than for what he does, he might not be so destructive.

We are all victims. Let us hear each other’s pain, for all pain matters. You are a child of God. If we could all feel heard, we could get beyond our anger, pain and grievances, and work together in love and creativity. Rather than needing Syrian refugees, Mexicans, women seeking abortions and gay people to be treated as badly as you feel treated- I suffer! They should get what they deserve!- we could hear their pain and seek our common good together. On the day of judgment, people hang their sorrows on the Sorrows Tree, then look at the sorrows of everyone else. You can choose someone else’s sorrows instead, but everyone chooses their own, as less burdensome.

I notice my own expression of anger is so paltry. Real rage at music in the supermarket, or my friend not seeing things exactly as I see them. Then I was uncomfortable, now I am comfortable. These things are incomprehensible; but I know we need heard, we need care and support.

Love trumps hate

A Trump supporter leant me his coat once. I was cold and unprepared, and am grateful. In my almost monochrome Facebook bubble of despondency his elation, increased by the successful bet he laid on the outcome, is a contrast.

I did not sleep well so was awake around 4.30 to hear the Florida result, and as I type the Republicans have taken the Senate, the House and the Electoral College decisively even though not all results were declared. So they will take the Supreme Court, perhaps more partisanly than before. This is worse than being awake to hear Nigel Farage’s first snarl of triumph in June.

Leadership matters. An organisation takes its culture from its leaders: do they inspire creativity, trust, and joyful working together, or do they have security search warehouse workers in case they have stolen goods during their shift? Hearing Mr Trump’s rhetoric for four years will embolden those who speak and write coarsely in imitation of it; and, worse, his demonisation of out-groups will prevent many from growing beyond that false view of the world, when they believe some enemy is the cause of their privation so cannot address their real difficulties. In Britain, I am one of those demonised already, as Mrs May sneers at “Liberal metropolitan elites” who voted against Brexit. I am comfortable enough on my income, but doubt many calling me “elite” would be.

And people’s desire for a leader as saviour will be tested to destruction. Already it has: President Obama did not close Guantanamo, his drones are still killing, and we still need the Black Lives Matter campaign, in England as well as the US. There will be no growth in purchasing power for Mr Trump’s rural and rust-belt supporters from his policies, no reduction in violence against them, no real hope.

The ozone hole is healing, but our dependence on chloro-fluoro-carbons was far less intense than that on hydrocarbons, for fuel warming our planet and for plastics in particles from microscopic to huge, non-biodegradable, polluting the web of interdependent life. The Anthropocene threatens the biosphere, including us, and English-speaking political leaders have concerns, such as economic growth, that they deem more important than mitigating it. Mr Trump’s world view is one of Winners and Losers, a zero-sum game where he may use nuclear weapons.

And- we are human, capable of love and self-sacrifice as well as blind obedience and cruelty, finding joy in compassion and togetherness, our mirror-neurons forcing most of us into empathy. We are made in the image of God, and so are loving, creative, powerful and beautiful. Without a leader as saviour we are thrown on our own resources, to build communities of trust and co-operation in the face of exploitation and oppression. Truthful, compassionate people can show the frightened a better way, for we are alive, and living beings all strive towards health and wholeness, and we are a social species, fulfilled when brought together. A man I did not know well leant me a coat, because we were in a social group together. a-v-of-geese

Donald Trump respects women

“Nobody has more respect for women than I do. Nobody.” The word of such a prominent man should not simply be dismissed. In what does this respect consist?

Natasha Stoynoff alleged he had stuck his tongue down her throat. Mr Trump’s response was, Take a look. Look at her. Look at her words. And you tell me what you think. I don’t think so. So judging women on their looks is respect.

Note, though, that he does not expect to be believed: rather than simply denying the allegations as beneath contempt, which they would be were they untrue, he needs evidence to persuade you he is telling the truth: the alleged unattractiveness of the women. The dignified response would be simply to deny the allegations, but instead he abuses the accusers, as “horrible”, “sick”, and “phony”. This is his level of respect. He claims he has lied before: his boasts of kissing women without consent were “locker room talk”, he says, at least implying that they were not true. So his assault of Natasha Stoynoff is “respect”.

That boast- wanting the “respect” of a television presenter, wanting to appear to be more violent with women than he now claims he is, shows his pitiable situation: he wants to appear to others as something he imagines they would respect. He wants to seem, rather than to be, respectable, and his concept of respectable is wholly governed by context: he imagines Mr Bush would “respect” a man who grabs women between the legs, so he claims to do so. Later, with people he imagines would not admire him for assaulting women, he claims not to. He has no conception of what respect is. He has no belief in his ability to earn it, rather than frantically grasping after it with false boasts. Seeking respect he believes he is not entitled to becomes a constant battle.

His situation is pitiable. He does not see that the position of major party nominee, a notable achievement, is by itself worthy of respect, so referring to Mrs Clinton walking in front of him he said, “believe me I wasn’t impressed”. Not seeing the respect due to her means that he cannot see the respect that his position would entitle any other person to. Generally people treat others with the respect we have for ourselves.

His respect for women is also shown on the issue of abortion. He would let states regulate it. Mrs Clinton considers it should be a medical rather than legal issue, for the woman and her medical advisers. He does not respect women enough to let them make their own decisions. He prefers the decisions of elderly Republican men.

Mr Trump is the nominee of the Republican Party for the President of the US. Not every senator or congressman of that party has distanced themself from him. His name adorns tall buildings, indicating the respect the business community holds for him- for the point of calling a building “Trump” is to profit from the business good-will accruing to his name and brand, which he values at several billion dollars. He has been a television personality. The respect he is held in indicates the level of respect a wide swath of American society has for women.

“Nobody has more respect for women than I do. Nobody,” he asserts. There, he was not blustering, not showing any consciousness of not telling truth. He is in the right. Any woman who accuses him is in the wrong, many of them “crazy”. He can only lose the election if it is rigged. He has done one service: everyone has seen what “gaslighting” is.