What Donald Trump doesn’t understand about regulation

The above video is simply called ‘Indian traffic’, and was presumably filmed by a tourist from a hotel window. It has ten million views. In it we see rickshaws, trucks, cars, buses, cyclists, motorbikes with up to three passengers, and pedestrians all engaged in a seemingly hazardous but actually innocuous dance. Pretty much everyone at some point looks as though they’re about to crash into another vehicle. It looks like total chaos but, despite the apparent absence of traffic signals, actually runs smoothly. The traffic seems to self-regulate; the experience of watching it has a nicely zen-like quality.

To be fair, it is only two minutes. I’m sure whichever city it is has its fair share of traffic accidents*. I mentioned the video the other day in a conversation with a Dutch friend visiting Rome. At a slightly similar intersection we were traversing he said that he tells his kids (of whom he has several) always to look into the eyes of drivers when crossing the road, to create that human connection. I responded that I often do the same.

Perhaps its by studying how traffic interacts in less ‘developed’ countries that has led some European cities to experiment with reducing the amount of traffic signage. Doing so seems to force people to engage with one another in a less abstracted and therefore more humane manner. It was actually a Dutch engineerHans Monderman, who developed the notion of  “naked streets”. He argued that “traffic was safest when road users were “self-policing” and streets were cleared of controlling clutter. His innovations, now adopted in some 400 towns across Europe, have led to dramatic falls in accidents”. So said Simon Jenkins when writing about the topic in The Guardian. Jenkins, who has long played the role of the newspaper’s neoliberal provocateur, went on to argue (with typical sarcasm) that:

The white line down the middle of the road is a metaphor of the age. It is the guiding hand of a benign government. Its abolition hints at a loss of control, a lurch from authority towards personal responsibility, even towards anarchy. Mankind cannot tolerate too much naked tarmac. No sensible person could want more confusion and uncertainty in life. We need the firm paintbrush of a caring minister.

I don’t know if I’d read Jenkins’ article at the time, but the conversation with my Dutch friend also seemed to lead naturally on to talk of other forms of regulation. If traffic (a word we also use for trade in all its forms) is best left unregulated, what about other forms of social and economic interaction? Does the video of traffic in India support a laissez-faire view of the world?

Well, while of course there are no actual car crashes in the youtube clip, there are less visible hazards. The fact that traffic accidents have an immediate and visible impact makes them dissimilar from other consequences of other forms of human interaction which may be less remote in time and space and thus much more difficult to disentangle, or even (often consciously) hidden, but not for that any less real or damaging. However, it does make it much more difficult to apportion responsibility. An obvious example is Climate Change (how many of those Indian drivers are now proud possessors of “carbon neutral” Volkswagens?), but its by no means the only one. To quote the sociologist Pierre Bourdieu:

It can be shown, for example, that problems seen in the suburban estates of the cities stem from a neoliberal housing policy, implemented in the 1970s…This social separation was brought about by a political measure. [But] who would link a riot in a suburb of Lyon to a political decision of 1970?

If we’re looking for the causes of the current rise of far-right parties around the world, ignoring the financial crisis of 2008 would be like tying to enjoy a pleasant hotel breakfast while a woolly mammoth careens around the room shitting all over the toast racks and trays of scrambled eggs. It’s unlikely that Donald Trump has seen ‘Inside Job‘, the excellent documentary which explains succinctly how financial deregulation, and particularly its impact on the housing market, created the catastrophe which has in turn, like a multiple pile-up seen in horrifying slow-motion, done possibly fatal damage to our economies, societies and democratic institutions. As it happens, the President* apparently prefers to watch movies like ‘The Fast and the Furious’ by fast-forwarding to the…car crash scenes.

His total and blissful ignorance of the subject, combined with his evident wish to destroy all traces of the Obama years, is leading him to try to overturn the regulatory legislation put in place in 2010 (too little and too late, but still) to try to clear up the worst of the mess and stop such a disaster taking place again. Now, Trump is unaware that such things as consequences exist, partly because, for him, they don’t and never have. For me, that raises a very interesting question. There’s been lots of speculation as to whether or not the Mango Mussolini knows how to read, or use a computer, or speak English, but I’m starting to wonder, given that he’s been chauffeur-driven since the moment he was born: does Donald Trump even know how to drive? I mean, I don’t, but then a) I live in Rome, so even if I learnt I’d be dead within ten minutes and b) I’m not the one pretending to be US President.

*Apparently it’s New Delhi, where there are loads of accidents. Still, on with the argument.

Waiting for impeachment is cowardice. Someone needs to act.

In how many Hollywood movies does a single individual sacrifice their life to save the world? Whether it’s Bruce Willis or some other aging but rugged hero, in death-embracing acts of individual self-martyrdom the protaganist beats both the ticking clock and the normal limits of human endurance in order to protect humanity from some (always externally-derived) threat. In the process the manifest destiny of the USA is reaffirmed, and all other citizens of the world, shown gathered in sports bars looking up anxiously at garbling and visibly perspiring news presenters, warming themselves around some squalid but spiritually-enriching campfire in the desert, or huddled in their third-world hovels around radios as they come to understand despite their obvious lack of education and pitiful absence of material means that once again thanks to the omnipotence and benevolence of the world’s only superpower the existential threat to our world has been averted.

Can the world wait for the criminally insane occupant of the Oval Office to be ‘impeached’? Should we cross our fingers and hope that somehow, one not too far-off day, through the time-honoured workings of the USA’s venerable democratic institutions as defined in its vaunted Constution, the balance shall be restored? I would say not. We’re beyond that point. Instead, some courageous and principled American citizen needs to act, some valient man or woman brought up saluting the Stars and Stripes and believing fervently in the shining ideals of democracy, justice and freedom, patriotically adept at handling a range of US-made firearms, must step up to the plate and prepare themselves to launch an almighty strike in response to the pitch that fate and history has thrown them, thus redeeming the American Project and saving the world once again, just like in the movies.

Donald Trump’s an alcoholic, isn’t he?

“Let’s see…I’ve still got some of that brandy the Saudis gave me…”

Election Night 2010 left me in a Very Bad Mood. Seeing the disaster that had befallen the country, with the Conservative Party and their eventual suitors the Liberal Democrats effectively wiping Labour off the board, knowing that in government David Cameron would very soon stop pretending he would be the “greenest ever” Prime Minister/friend-to-all-the-woodland-creatures and start gleefully ripping apart all that was most precious about British life, I changed my Facebook status to the (ahem) unambiguously jestful ‘I think I might kill myself’.

I should have included a link to something related to the election. When I turned on my phone the following morning around 7am my phone was buzzing like crazy with messages from concerned friends, family and acquaintances. Not nearly as many as I might have expected, but still.

I would never have done it had I been sober. Watching the results in the pub with fellow campaigners for our local far-left candidate had been a despondent affair. I guess I must have thrown caution to the wind and probably had six or seven pints to numb the disappointment and then a whisky or two (I hate whisky) to make the short walk home slightly more fun.

I’ve cut back in the last few years on what a friend calls ‘combat drinking’. Up to a certain age getting inappropriately drunk just for the hell of it ceased to be a permanently hilarious jape and started to look and feel like the sort of lifestyle trajectory that leads to sitting in church halls reminiscing about the nights you spent searching through bins just in case they contained a not-entirely-empty can of Strongbow.

Then, of course, there’s the danger inherent in being addled online. My previous blog died a slow, painful death after I got into the bad habit of sharing my late-night weed-fuelled mental meanderings with the world (or, at least, my website’s dwindling fanbase). I suspect that it may well be the eventual fate of pretty much all blogs to end up as a receptacle for posts whose contents are so unidentifiable that even people with 18 years of solid alcoholism behind them would think twice before imbibing them*.

Thankfully I never did any permanent damage, either to my liver (apparently) or to my reputation. I’m not remotely famous, so embarrassing myself online (as I may be doing right now) has never worried me unduly. I’d imagine that if I somehow found myself in a position of global responsibility it would be helpful to take the edge off with an occasional drink, and there is always the possibility that in these panoptical times that could lead to serious trouble.

Remarkable, then, that the most powerful person in the world has never even tasted alcohol and is apparently able to deal with the stresses of the job with nary a drop of inebriating liquid to help him come down from the inevitable highs and lows of adrenaline that the job entails. Curious, as Hasan Minhaj recently pointed out, that Trump’s barely coherent and often catastrophically unwise 3am tweets are written in a state of total lifelong sobriety.

How on earth is the President of the United States able to combine his laudable dedication to a teetotal lifestyle with the pressures inherent in a) his status of leader of the free world in a time of geopolitical chaos and b) his condition as a pathological liar?

Errrrrrr…

Cheers!

* I’m aware this is quite a confusing sentence, maybe I should have a drink and think about how to rephrase it.

NB: There’s also of course the possibility that Trump is a bit like Obelix, as in ‘Asterix &…’. Obelix fell into the pot of superstrength-granting magic potion as a child, and thus unlike his little moustachioed buddy never requires a top-up before going into battle. He does, however, need constant reminding of this fact, and given that Trump has no memory for anything but slights and grudges, it’s unlikely he’d be capable of remembering that he’s not actually supposed to drink. He may also just be a dry drunk. I don’t really care, I just hope that he gets to hear the malicious rumours that he’s an alcoholic and the resultant rage, shame and anguish cause him to suffer a massive heart attack and die. At this point we have to try everything – it’s him or the planet. Speaking of which, do you really think that someone prepared to lie about something as significant as Climate Change should be believed when he says he doesn’t drink?!

(Incidentally, no offense to actual alcoholics is intended in or by this article. Many of my closest friends are borderline alcoholics. For some reason.)

Did Sean Hannity murder S*th R*ch?

Does this man even exist?

Did the Fox News broadcaster Sean Hannity kill the DNC employee S*th R*ch? I’m not at liberty to say. I only know what my senses tell me and what I hear from trusted sources. But if what I’m hearing is even 1% factual, then there are grave questions to be asked. Of course, you won’t see this in the mainstream media. They only tell you what you they want you to know. So ask yourself these fifteen crucial questions:

1. Why isn’t the MSM talking about the possibility that Sean Hannity murdered S*th R*ch? Why hasn’t this question been raised in the so-called liberal press or on MSNBCCNN? What are they hiding? Is the fact that there is no evidence for such an absurd proposition being used to justify silence on the matter?

2. Why aren’t there are Turkish restaurants in Mexico City? There was one, called Istanbul, in Polanco. It closed down in 2014. Why?

3. Why is Fox News trying to silence the story? They’ve shut down Bill O’Reilly and (according to some sources) had a hand in getting rid of Roger Ailes. (Don’t fall for that bullshit story about ‘death’. I’ve never ‘died’ and I suspect you haven’t either.) Maybe there’s something they’re not telling us. How long is a piece of string? Why won’t they tell us?

4. How can José Mourinho claim this year has been a ‘success’ for Manchester United when they didn’t even finish in the top 5? Could this somehow be connected to the death of S*th R*ch? No, obviously not. Why not? What are they hiding?

5. How is Sean Hannity so well-informed and sure of his sources? He knows more about it than the family, investigators who have looked into the murder in exhaustive detail and the FBI. Was he there, on the spot? Is it true that Hannity is regularly in the habit of burgling Washington apartments/is part of the Illuminati/works for the CIA/etc? Who would even suggest such things?

6. Is it possible to make good hummus if you don’t have any tahini? Of course ‘they’ will tell you that tahini is an ‘ingredient’ of hummus. Maybe it’s time you started to question what they tell you.

7. Why has Sean Hannity just chosen to take a ‘vacation’? They say it’s for something called ‘Memorial Day’, which sounds fishy. I’d never heard of such a day until last week, partly because I’m not American. Maybe it’s all part of the cover-up.

8. Why aren’t there any Memorial Day films, or movies as you people call them? It’s a good couple of years since Wes Anderson made a new film, isn’t it? Have you asked why? Why not? Why hasn’t Wes so-called Anderson made a film set in and around Memorial Day? Could the reason be connected to Pizzagate? What?

9. Does ‘Sean Hannity’ even exist? I’ve certainly never seen his ‘show’, except for some clips on the internet. We don’t get Fox News US in the UK. Why not? What are they hiding from us?

10. Given that Sean Hannity doesn’t exist, how can ‘advertisers’ be withdrawing from his ‘show’? Do these ‘companies’ even ‘exist’? What about their ‘products’? Do you remember ever buying any commodities you saw advertised during the commercial breaks on ‘Sean Hannity”s ‘show’? I certainly haven’t, partly because I’ve never seen it. I’m calling bullshit on this, for no reason whatsoever.

11. Why isn’t the mainstream media, which I don’t watch or read so I have no way of knowing whether or not this is true, broadcasting or printing blatant falsehoods with regard to the death of S*th R*ch? What’s their interest in insisting on the truth of the whole affair and respecting the wishes of his bereaved family? Why don’t they dedicate airtime and column inches to promoting baseless conspiracy theories invented by right-wing crackpots and internet trolls in the attempt to disrupt public debate? Why can’t they just report verbatim whatever inflammatory attention-seeking nonsense that cupboard-dwelling sex pest troll Julian Assange has come up with without investigating first whether or not it has any actual basis in fact? Can’t we just scrap the First Amendment and jail anyone who even mentions the fact that Trump and his team are in hock to the Russians?

12. Whatever Alex Jones says. 

13. If something could conceivably be true, does that mean it is true, even when there is no evidence to support it apart from what politically-motivated people with no journalistic credentials whatsoever posted on the internet?

14. More of whatever Alex Jones says. Even though he himself recently swore in court that he’s nothing but a performance artist who makes things up for effect. 

15. Did Hillary Clinton order the murder of Seth Rich? No. If you think she did, you really need to grow up and start reading a proper newspaper written for adults by professional journalists rather than, with unerring gullibility, believing any old self-serving, dishonest and manipulative conspiracy theory bullshit you come across online. Now piss off, I’m off out to take my baby daughter for a stroll in the sunshine. I hope we don’t get shot dead by the Clintons. FFFS.

Our Daughter vs. Trump: The First Foreign Trip

It just so happens that our baby daughter’s very first trip abroad coincides with that of her partial counterpart Donald Trump. I would venture that so far hers has been more successful on a number of fronts.

Her itinerary is less ambitious than Trump’s. Instead of Riyadh, Jerusalem, Rome and Brussels, we’re playing safe with London and Sheffield, and instead of exasperated world leaders she’s meeting friends and family. The level of excitement in one single household in Sheffield right now is far greater than it is in the whole of Belgium for Trump’s visit. To be fair one does have to pity those who’ve always dreamt of meeting the US President and are then faced with the prospect of humouring someone who thinks he’s won top prize in an amaaazing reality TV show and who would struggle to remember the colour of the White House. Trump knows at some level that he is ‘President’ but has no idea what that means beyond the fact that he gets more ice-cream than anyone else and can bomb or sack anyone who annoys him (or, more realistically, whoever Steve Bannon tells him to). As for our daughter, the fact that she is thankfully even cuter in real life than media reports (well, photos) means that no one has yet expressed any disappointment or anger at her presence.

Journey. Despite months of anxiety about the possibility of her destroying several hours of the lives of total strangers, our trip from Rome Ciampino to London Stansted was trouble-free. Obviously she travelled by Ryanair rather than Air Force One, but the difference doesn’t mean as much to her as it presumably would to Trump. We did however actually almost miss, but that’s because I was so busy showing her and my Portuguese off to some Brazilians we didn’t notice that there were two planes leacing for the same destination 15 minutes apart. The biggest tantrum was also my doing, as I didn’t react in a particularly grown-up fashion to the refusal of the vending machine to dispense me either a Snickers or the €2 I’d just paid for it. Unlike on Trump’s journey to Saudi Arabia, no one spent the entire flight screaming at other passengers about leaks, and luckily there were no physical leaks, which may, conversely, not be true of the US President.

Entourage. Our daughter is travelling with her parents and some carefully selected playthings, as opposed to a ragbag of white supremacists, arms dealers and leading members of secretive Hungarian far-right organisations. The toys themselves seem to get along reasonably well, with no backstabbing and nothing you could call nepotism. Mr Gweenery is not currently under suspicion of setting up a sweetheart hotel-building deal with leading members of the Chinese central comittee. At least, not as far as we know.

Travelling. Our daughter has no understanding of where she is. Cities and planes are totally unfamiliar concepts, mere adult abstractions. It’s just more world stuff, which happily contains a continuing supply of nappies, cuddles and milky-wilky. Intriguingly, she does not seem to connect transport with movement, shifting in time with travelling in space. To his credit, at least Trump seems to have understood that he was in the Middle East at some point. Mind you, his world is just an endless array of blandly opulent hotel interiors with gold fittings, with steak and ketchup permanently on the menu, Fox News always on the TV and just the occasional diaper to hand just in case.

Tiredness. Just like the US President, such a gruelling schedule for someone of her age has caused occasional bouts of mental and physical exhaustion. I’d like to apologise to anyone in or near the Moroccan restaurant in Exmouth Market around 2.40pm yesterday afternoon, and anyone on or in the vicinity of the 16.32 from Farringdon to Sutton on the same day. Luckily she is denied access to social media so she can’t  share her meltdowns with the wider world. I suspect that White House staff would find it much easier to deal with her than with the manchild they’re supposed to be nursing.

Reception. At every stage of her foreign trip she’s largely been greeted with goodwill, even delight. She hasn’t been confronted with any protests, nor would one expect a four-month-year old to be. There are no photos in which someone’s looking at her as though she’s an utterly insufferable creature. I think this Pope might actually be very good with children.

Result of trip. The world is not a significantly less stable place as direct consequence of her visit to the UK. She hasn’t conducted any major arms deals with extremely dangeous countries (that’s the sort of thing that new parents have to watch out for). At the same time, she hasn’t learnt anything about terrorism, the Holocaust or Climate Change, but then neither, to be fair did President Trump on his trip.

America does not need a younger, leaner Donald Trump

At the airport I see a copy of Bloomberg Businessweek which poses on its cover the stark question: If America were a company, would you keep this CEO?

Such a worldview is so ingrained that even in the face of its unavoidable and catastrophic failure it somehow stumbles on, eyes burnt out and arms outstretched, groaning for more brains – smarter ones in presumably less decrepid bodies. Even a sterling Democrat like Michael Bloomberg, with his sincere and laudable statements about Climate Change and sanctuary cities, is unable to see beyond it. For almost a decade American TV viewers were sold the idea that their country needed a CEO, and that pitch was accompanied by the face and the voice of the country’s most iconically successful ‘business leader’. Enlightened neoliberals like Bloomberg must surely be starting to understand that it is their zombie ideology of letting the market run rip through all institutions that has led to this point, that in order for democratic values to remain intact prices have to be kept at bay. The problem is not that the Presidency was sold to the wrong person. The problem is that if we think of the country as a corporation the most brutal corporate interests will govern and destroy every aspect of our lives. Those who argued that there was nothing to choose between Macron’s Neoliberalism and Le Pen’s barely disguised fascism were absolutely wrong, but genuine liberals – of which Bloomberg is undoubtedly one – urgently need to be reminded of one of Mussolini’s most terrfying definitions of fascism: the point at which corporate and state power are indistinguishable.

Why can’t the USA be more like Saudi Arabia?!

I’ve often been accused of political bias on this site, so to ensure balance I’ve asked my Trump-supporting friend Ralph to share his thoughts on the President’s visit to Saudi Arabia.

Like all Americans I’ve been mighty impressed by the royal welcome extended to our President Donald J. TRUMP in Saudi Arabia. They certainly know how to greet a world LEADER. They had fireworks, flypasts and US flags galore. The hotel where the Commander-in-Chief is staying was bedecked in images of President TRUMP and his Saudi counterpart. To quote a fellow PATRIOT on Twitter, seeing Trump’s triumphant arrival in the Middle East was akin to watching Neil Armstrong set foot on the moon*.

Such images must be hard to swallow for so-called American liberals. They were probably hoping he’d get a frosty reception. Instead the Saudis, rich and poor, have literally LAID OUT the red carpet for someone who they clearly see shares their values and view of the world.

Maybe THE DONALD will end up taking some inspiration from his hosts. Because you know something they don’t have in KSA? LIBERALS! And they certainly don’t have any time for FEMINISTS! Plus they’re not held back by a so-called ‘free’ press and fake political ‘parties’. As for PROTESTERS, they know how to deal with them! Nor will you find a member of the Saudi Royal Family telling you that the lives of black people ‘matter’, allowing women to drive motor vehicles, permitting Jews to own property, or campaigning for the rights of so called ‘transsexuals’ to go to the ‘bathroom’! What’s more, while we in the backward old US of A go through the same bullshit charade every four years of electing new faces to ‘run’ the country, in countries like Saudi Arabia and the UAE (and who wouldn’t want to live in DUBAI?!) they just have the best FAMILIES take care of everything. And what better FAMILY do we have than the TRUMPS?

I’m sure that some of these ideas have already occurred to PRESIDENT TRUMP as he is driven along pristine streets from luxurious PALACE to sumptuous BANQUET with not a living demonstrator in sight. There’s so much that could be done to make the USA much more similar to KSA, and I’m sure that in Mike ‘Mad Mullah’ Pence and Steve ‘Al Jihadi’ Bannon he’s chosen the perfect team to move things in that direction. After all, any country that can secretly dispatch a group of dedicated, well-trained and above all BRAVE individuals to take down some of the most emblematic symbols of an enemy power must have some other great lessons to teach the world! LET’S MAKE AMERICA MEDIEVAL AGAIN! #TRUMPBINLADEN2020!! ALLAH AKBAR!!!

*Actual quote from Twitter.

23 things you have an ‘absolute right’ to do

Immagine

  1. Shout ‘puppy dogs make me so horny!’ on a crowded subway train.
  2. Put human feces on a BBQ grill and try to feed it to your family.
  3. Stop any random stranger on the street and tell them they’re the ugliest person you’ve ever seen.
  4. Take a running jump out of the nearest window.
  5. Tell everyone you work with that you’ve joined the KKK or BNP.
  6. Go to a tattoo parlour and get the words ‘AVOID THIS ASSHOLE’ written on your forehead.
  7. Go for six months without taking a shower or a bath.
  8. Vote Republican or Conservative.
  9. Give up your job, throw away all your cash and cut up your credit cards, taking care to dispose of all the food in your house before you do so.
  10. Change your Facebook status to ‘I hate all my so-called friends, especially you’.
  11. Up your cigarette intake to 160 a day.
  12. Tell everyone you meet, no matter how fleetingly, the most unambiguously shocking thing you’ve ever done.
  13. Put your house on the market for $10/£9.
  14. Individually email all the members of your family asking them never to contact you again or you will kill yourself.
  15. Sit in the park in the rain eating dog food out of a can.
  16. Contract herpes and shun treatment.
  17. Refuse to share your name with anyone you meet in a professional context.
  18. Throw your cellphone and carkeys into the nearest river or stream.
  19. When introduced to friends of friends, immediately tell them a horrible lie about your mutual friend.
  20. Go to the theater and shout ‘fire’ when the play’s just about to start.
  21. Tell your partner that you have a terminal disease when you don’t.
  22. Cut off both of your ears and then try phoning for an ambulance.
  23. If you should inadvertently find yourself in the position of President of your country, give top-secret intelligence information to a foreign power in order to try to make the representatives of that foreign power think that you’d be a cool guy to be friends with, then get your subordinates to lie on your behalf, and then use social media to admit you did exactly what the news reports said.

Wikileaks boss appeals for ‘any’ information regarding Donald Trump

Wikileaks founder Julian Assange has made a public appeal for “any” information relating to US President Donald Trump.

Speaking from the cupboard in the Ecuadorian Embassy in London where he has for the past few years been hiding from trial on several well-substantiated rape charges, the Australian-born hacker asked for “anyone out there” to provide his organisation with “any” details relating to Trump’s “public life or private dealings”.

“We at Wikileaks would be very grateful if anyone could google Mr Trump’s name, do a screen shot of the results page and email it to us”, he said. Referring to Wikileaks’ “stainless” reputation for exposing corruption among public figures and its track-record of campaigning for transparency, he requested details such as Mr Trump’s place and date of birth, his middle name and information relating to any major controversies or scandals he may have been involved with in the past.

Mr Assange also specified that his organisation is “very interested” in allegations of Russian collusion in the recent US election (won by Mr Trump) and asked that anyone sympathetic to the aims of his organisation visit the New York Times or BBC websites, find articles containing the basic facts as they stand, print them out and send them to ‘Wikileaks, Utility Cupboard, Ecuadorian Embassy, London’.

He also urged supporters of Wikileaks to look beyond the “mainstream media” and visit sites such as Reddit and Twitter in order to track down any information relating to Mr Trump, particularly in relation to the sort of business activities he may have engaged in before becoming President and also what political program he campaigned on during the election.

Asked why, given that Wikileaks normally works by drawing on an extensive global network of secret informants, hackers and whistleblowers, he did not use other more surreptitious means to investigate Mr Trump and his alleged Russian contacts, Mr Assange paused and said that he “hadn’t thought of doing that” but that he “didn’t want to get in trouble with (at this point he appeared to adopt a comedy Russian accent) ‘you-know-who’. 

Mr Assange stressed that Wikileaks will continue to do “whatever it can” to expose misdeeds in public life, “regardless of political bias”. In response to questions as to why his organisation had not sought to investigate allegations of corruption against far-right French Presidential Candidate Marine Le Pen, and had instead endeavoured to diffuse disinformation against her centrist opponent, Mr Assange was nonplussed, explaining that he personally had been “away” for the last few weeks in another part of his utility cupboard, and that Wikileaks must have been “hacked, or something”. He appealed to anyone possessing or with access to any basic biographical information on Le Pen or any details regarding France (its geographical coordinates, the name of its capital city and any major landmarks generally associated with it) to send it marked for his personal attention at “the usual address”.

Mr Assange then excused himself, explaining that he had a “very important health-data related project” to complete for “a group of private clients”.

Our daughter vs Donald Trump: The First 100 Days

original

Our daughter was born ten days after Donald Trump’s inauguration. I sometimes wonder if the viral piece I wrote a few days before her birth, in which I predicted an imminent mental breakdown on the part of the new President, was actually more of an expression of anxiety about my own readiness to perform the demanding role of becoming a parent. Although sadly (?) my prediction about Trump has yet to come true (or maybe it has…), our daughter is doing wonderfully, and we’re coping magnificently with being parents, one day (or rather one night…) at a time. I thought this was an opportune moment to reflect on Trump/our daughter’s comparative progress so far in ten key areas.

1. Inauguration

Her speech was a great deal more coherent than anything Trump has come up with in the last three months. It went ‘whiirrrARRRGGGHHHNNNNGGGGGGGGAAARRGGHHH I’M ALIVE!!!!!’. Recently, gratifyingly, she has incorporated cooing noises into her vocal repertoire. This may be an attempt to reproduce the lilting and melodic voice of Paul McCartney (she’s going through a bit of a Beatles phase). When she was extracted she was, to my surprise, covered in all this white stuff, as opposed to her presidential counterpart, who has a strong lifelong preference for orange gunk. When it comes to knowledge of the rights and responsibilities of the President as defined by the Constitution of the United States of America, she’s miles ahead. Where Trump forced both the Attorney General and the Deputy Attorney General to write letters calling for the sacking of FBI boss James Comey in a desperate and catastrophically misguided attempt to cripple the investigation into his links with Russia, our daughter would have just looked around the room gurgling randomly and harmlessly to herself. OUR DAUGHTER: 10 DONALD TRUMP: 0.

2. North Korea

Given that she is unable to rationalise and is driven solely by the desire for simple selfish gratification, she would be able to relate to the behaviour of both leaders. I read somewhere once that as babies we often wish that our parents would die, because our fury at not having our needs met immediately is not conditioned by any mental conception of what that would imply for our own survival prospects. In a strikingly similar way, it’s possible that neither Kim Jong Un nor Donald Trump have any idea what the consequences of nuclear confrontation would be. OUR DAUGHTER: 10 DONALD TRUMP: 0.

3. Climate Change

She’s not been born into a normal spring. Any one of her cohort has a better and more responsible attitude to the climate crisis than any so-called adult and certainly much more of a mature understanding of basic climate facts and their consequences than anyone in the current US administration. If you asked her whether or not the US should withdraw from the Paris Agreement she’d probably look at you a bit blankly and then might, if you were lucky, give you a massive lopsided grin, one which would, in contrast to Trump’s mangled death beam, give you hope and faith in the future of the human species. OUR DAUGHTER: 10 DONALD TRUMP: 0.

4. Healthcare

Although in theory this is free in Italy, in reality it’s very expensive. You very often have to buy a ‘ticket’ in order to access services. Sadly our daughter hasn’t been able to change the situation in her first hundred days. She would nevertheless understand healthcare policy to be a very complex area, which puts her ahead of Trump, who thought it was all really, really simple. OUR DAUGHTER: 10 DONALD TRUMP: 0.

5. Immigration

Her father (me) is an immigrant, so presumably (although we haven’t yet discussed this in any detail) she feels instinctive solidarity with people who choose or are forced to cross national borders for prolonged periods during the course of their lives. Oddly enough, although Italy is, like all European countries, experiencing a sickening rise in xenophobic sentiment, no one has yet told her to go back where she came from and stop being such a parasite on essential public services. As for her, she’s never uttered the phrase ‘America First’ or talked openly about a ‘Muslim Ban’. OUR DAUGHTER: 10 DONALD TRUMP: 0.

6. Russia

While it’s unclear whether or not Trump has ever met Putin, I can say with some certainty that our daughter has had no contact with the Russian President/failed election meddler. At six weeks old she started grinning, mostly in response to others’ smiles. It’s unlikely she’d recognise Putin’s pseudo-Machiavellian smirk as a positive facial expression, as anything indicating goodwill. OUR DAUGHTER: 10 DONALD TRUMP: 0.

7. Mexico

She was conceived there and has a Mexican name. She would have difficuly grasping the concept of a wall but, like with healthcare, would at least appreciate the logistical challenges in building one between two particularly wide and mountainous countries. Trump is lagging way behind her on this second point. OUR DAUGHTER: 10 DONALD TRUMP: 0.

8. Suspended reduction of Federal Housing Mortgage Insurance Premium rates

Our daughter has no opinion of this and no influence on it that we know of. It’s certainly not her initiative. To be fair, though, I doubt it’s a priority for Trump either, given that it’s got nine words in it and several of them have more than two syllables. OUR DAUGHTER: 10 DONALD TRUMP: 0.

9. Bottle feeding

Trump apparently doesn’t drink alcohol. As Hasan Minhaj pointed out this week, that carries the bewildering implication that all his 3am tweets are written when he is sober. Perhaps one reason for his myriad psychological complexes and mental disorders is a traumatic failure to adjust to the different kinds of flow and teat involved in getting milky-wilky out of a bottle. Our daughter is responding slightly better each day but still has moments when she wants to stress VERY FORCEFULLY that she is AWARE that this bit of transparent plastic is NOT a part of mummy-wummy and she will NOT be accepting it as a permanent replacement. However, knowing the risks failure could one day represent for future global peace and security, we will have to keep insisting. OUR DAUGHTER: 10 DONALD TRUMP: 0.

10. Nappy habits

I’m at ‘work’ at the moment so I don’t know anything about the present contents of my daughter’s nappy. However, taking a quick look at Trump’s Twitter feed it appears that the President needs his diaper changing. OUR DAUGHTER: 10 DONALD TRUMP: 0.

So, on the basis on their performance in key areas over their first 100 days, OUR DAUGHTER gets 100!!! points, and DONALD TRUMP gets a big fat orange despite having had ten more days than her to make a good impression. When I get home this afternoon I’ll give her an extra celebratory helping of milky-wilky from the bottle…or at least, I’ll try to. In the meantime, who on earth is going to be tasked with changing Trump’s nappy now that Nanny Comey’s gone?!