Let’s Just Give the Idiots What They Want

Another day, another piece of surrealism emanating from the clusterfuck that is the incoming President-Elect of the soon-to-be former most powerful and admired nation in the world. Today’s wonderful news (as in, you were probably shaking your head and wondering “what the fuck” as you read it) is that neurosurgeon Dr Ben Carson has been appointed as Trump’s Secretary of Housing and Urban Development. This is a man who wanted to run for president, but then demurred when asked if he was willing to serve in the Trump administration due to his lack of political experience. Apparently, lack of political experience alone is a disqualifying factor (for anything other than the presidency itself – obvs) but that disaqualification is nullified by the vast experience in housing one gets as a neurosurgeon…I guess?

This follows on from a string of quality appointments, like the Attorney General who was refused a judgeship back in the day for being a little too racist (amongst other sterling qualities, presuming you’re a right-wing Evangelical nutjob), and an Education Secretary who is an avid Creationist. And let’s not forget that bulbous wankpuffin (thanks for that one Sally) Stephen Breitbart, who now fawns shock and horror every time somebody even suggests that his website is a cesspit of white supremacist spew and bile, even though it is exactly that (no, I’m not linking to it, in addition to the horrible content it’s just…bad). None of this is surprising though, it’s 2016, which is probably foretold in some ancient Mayan scroll we haven’t yet found as “The Year Which Ran Out of Fucks to Give” and has brought us the Brexit and Trump. The Austrians have just voted for civility, but 2016 quickly realised that some of us might take some small joy from that, and as a result gave us Italy overwhelmingly voting for populism. In France Marie Le Penn is licking her racist lips as she contemplates what might be coming her way next year. And of course, all the good creative artists are dying out in droves, leaving us with a swamp of a talent-pool that I actually would support being drained by Trump or anybody else.

Ideally we wouldn’t find ourselves in such a deleterious position, but unfortunately every time Idealism picks herself up, proudly thrusts her chest out, and defiantly hoists her flag of rational thought, civil discourse and general decency aloft as a beacon to those who love and long for her, the 5 year old toddler-terror that is Reality runs up and sucker punches her in the groin with a manic cackle. And it’s our fault – to continue the metaphor, society has been that parent who’s let their little darling tear up and down the aeroplane aisle because they’re the most important, special, unique little hell-raising piece of shit snowflake in the world.  Democracy as we’ve implemented it is a horribly flawed thing. I know Churchill said that it was the worst system, except for all the others, but that’s like saying having an anaesthetic-free leg amputation is the worst thing ever, except for having a double anaesthetic-free leg amputation. Objectively true, but the first one is still shit. And quite simply, the problem is that we’ve taken that idea that “all men are created equal” and misread it as “All men are equal.”

No. No, all men are definitely not equal. Neither are all women, in the event that somebody is offended at my exclusionary pronoun usage. We might begin that way, but we definitely don’t end that way. The truth is that there are people who are shittier than others, but we’ve gone and taken human rights to the end of the spectrum, and refuse to acknowledge this because we don’t want to hurt their feelings or something. We want everybody to feel they have a legitimate contribution to make to society – technically that’s true, except sometimes that contribution involves somebody shutting the fuck up because they’re an idiot. But we don’t want to admit this, and as a result, we have the situation where western democracy gives everybody’s opinion the same weighting. Believe the earth is flat? You get exactly the same amount of voting currency as Dr Neil DeGrasse Tyson.  Think that it’s ok to blow up innocent people because your impotence has found an outlet in an extremist version of a make-believe ideology? No problem, your vote still counts as much as Richard Dawkins and Nelson Mandela’s did when he was alive. Giving heroin to kids to “help them sleep” the sort of thing you subscribe to? You mean as much to democracy as the struggling, honest, hard-working parents sacrificing and going without just to give their kids a single chance for a better life than they had.

I could go on, but my head might explode, and I’ve run out of the bleach I’ll need to cleanse my soul. The point is that this idea that everybody is equal is bullshit, and we need to acknowledge it before it’s too late. Stephen Fucking Hawking is warning the world that it’s on the brink of species-wide disaster from climate change and asteroids, and Trump’s highly considered presidential-as-all-fuck response is to announce the  defunding of NASA climate research because “it’s political”. Jesus.

The best way to fix the problem is a licence to vote. This is as popular a sentiment as advocating a licence to breed. Still,  I don’t understand why we need licences for everything except having kids and voting. People should be made to sit an exam that tests them on the different political party manifestos and platforms, and if they fail they don’t get to vote. Or perhaps their vote could be proportionally weighted – the higher you score, the more your vote counts. That way, people who believe that £350m a week is vanishing off into the EU’s savings account simply because it was written in big white letters on Boris Johnson’s Big Red Bus (aside: that’s not a euphemism, but it would make for a great one) wouldn’t have the destructive power they do now. People who don’t understand the very real danger their blind acceptance of fear-mongering and lies actually poses would be nicely neutered by this system. People will say “it’s not fair” and it’s a violation of human rights, but what about the rights of those of us who actually care enough to understand the issues, and approach things with an open mind in case we’re wrong? What about our right not to be subjected to the tyranny of the “I found an article on the internet which confirms my biases and prejudices because I lack even the most rudimentary cognitive ability to think critically” masses?

Alas, this is a battle that will not be won. It’s a shit-ton of fun considered impolite to actually tell a moron they’re a moron – we’re supposed to let them believe they’re actually really valuable to the world at large. Quite clearly they’re not, but if near-total ostracism (self-imposed or otherwise) isn’t your thing, we need to find a way to force people to live in accordance with their political philosophies, or at least the philosophy they profess. You know, be accountable (shocker!). So I say – let’s just give the idiots exactly what they want. You voted the way you did because you’re tired of experts? Wonderful, thank you for your fucking stupid equally valid opinion!. However, now, no more doctors for you when you’re sick. Nope, they’re “experts”, and we were tired of experts when we voted remember? No more tax accountants helping you out at year end. You, my armchair-warrior-touting friend get Google and “alternative” ideas that all the wisdom that the non-experts out there have to offer. Anti-vaxxer who believes “Big Pharma” is evil? Welcome to the polling booth my friend! However, I hope you never, ever get something like cancer, because we know who makes the treatments for those as well! Maybe try this lunatic equally valid non-scientific alternative source. Anti-immigration? Perfect – but you’re no longer procuring anything from anywhere that isn’t 100% local owned and operated. And if you own a business, you’re only hiring locals – so what if they demand wages and benefits at much higher levels than the other guys? And of course, you’ll only be buying goods that contain 100% non-imported ingredients – no more late night kebabs from the Turkish kiosk on the corner for you!

I know it’ll never happen – the fringe right are lunatics, but unfortunately there is a fringe left as well, and they’d collectively implode if anybody even tried to suggest personal accountability might be the flip-side of human rights which needs to be enforced a bit more robustly. The middle has become a wasteland where only the most foolish venture, upon pain of virtual crucifixion by both sides. But Christ it would be fun to watch some small-minded bigot buying groceries with only 100% non-imported local ingredients, or one of those Food Babe type-idiots trying to fend off diabetes-induced gangrene or HIV/AIDS with an assortment of nuts and berries. It would be natural selection at its finest. Might even encourage a few of them to join the dark side, or as it’s sometimes referred to by decent, rational people, not being a complete knobhead cunt. What a Christmas gift that would be.

What happens when you shoot yourself in the foot multiple times over 22 years?

Or, How the ANC Finally Went and Proper-Fucked Itself

Well, old Jacob G. Zuma (the G doesn’t, in fact, stand for Gupta) survives yet again. After the strongest challenge to his presidency of the country and ANC yet, the snake has managed to slither free again. Wounded, no doubt, but free. And finally, once and for all, the ANC has opened the kimono, and we can all see what we knew all along – that the party is a rotting, festering, putrid corpse of something that began as a racist organisation (or, “pan-africanist” in the parlance of the time), morphed into something a bit more representative out of sheer necessity (can’t be asking for help from white dudes when you’re also promising to get rid of them all once you get what you want), and in turn has reverted back to being a pathetic, skeletal collection of racist, corrupt, greedy, slobbering politicians who would fuck their own mothers if it got them one more tender or shady deal before they were tossed on to the dung heap of history that awaits.

Make no mistake, whilst it was an unprecedented surprise that such a large number of NEC members managed to ambush Zuma and his sycophantic hyenas in the first place without any foreshadowing, the fact that he has survived is not, in itself, surprising. This is a man who has stacked the civil service at all levels with incompetent fools who seem to possess only enough of a brain to understand that without Zuma’s (and, by extension of late, the Guptas’) favour, they have nothing else in life to fall back on. It sort of seems almost poetic that the spinal column links up with the base of the skull, given how the majority of civil servants seem to display a lack of spine as well as a lack of grey matter most of the time. This is simply a continuation of the Mbeki years, and part of the ANC culture at large – where the ability to agree with the leadership is proof of loyalty and handsomely rewarded, and disagreement is quashed as anti-black racist dissent (regardless of the colour of the dissenter).

Incredibly, Zuma still honestly seems to believe he’s done nothing wrong. The ANC’s favourite old boogeymen are to blame for his woes – Nkandla, State Capture, 783 counts of fraud, rape charges – these are all “those who are anti-transformation” or “neoliberal forces”, or “white monopoly capital”, and so on. He genuinely seems to believe that these are all perfectly legitimate pastimes for the president of the country – something he is entitled to, if you will – and can’t grasp why it is that opposition from the likes of the DA keeps stopping him in his tracks. It harks back to the days of Mbeki, when any criticism of the government was simply stuffed into a box labelled “white people whingeing that black people can’t govern properly because they’re black” so that it could be ignored, regardless of the merits of the criticism.

It’s tempting to mount a sneering intellectual attack against these sorts of “arguments”, but the reality is that in doing so it’s about the same as feeding fillet mignon to pigs – and it’s not really fair, given how easily the straw-scaffold would be dismantled. But there’s no point, ultimately, because I don’t even get the feeling that ANC leadership really whole-heartedly believes them anymore, or at least cares about holding up much of a pretence against the obvious truth.

And that is that Zuma is a simply a politically astute  village bumpkin who’s lack of moral fibre and small-minded tribalism has been used by those much cleverer and craftier than him over the years for their own ends. He’s uneducated, an arch-conservative traditionalist who wants to “knock out” homosexuals and saw no issue with sexually assaulting the daughter of a friend who looked up to him. And thus first it was the ANC leadership in exile, finding him a useful tool in the internal security apparatus of the ANC in exile, where JZ’s inability or unwillingness to evidence much in the way of thought was perfect when it came to ruthlessly carrying out orders to imprison, interrogate and torture ANC members. Then it was Shabir Shaik, and that “generally corrupt relationship” (per the courts) he managed to wangle Zuma into with those infamous payments that Zuma seemingly didn’t seem to think were problematic and so were left on his bank statements for all to see, and now, it’s the Guptas and the whole State Capture shebang.

No, intellectual debate is not really worth the effort here. And it’s tempting to do the typical South African thing and shrug our shoulders and sigh and carry on with life, eagerly awaiting the next cracker of a Nando’s advert. But make no mistake, this is a turning point – and I’m going to go out on a limb and say that JZ surviving the last NEC of 2016 is the best thing that could have happened to South Africa. Because, as far as I can see it, there is now no way for the ANC to stop itself from self-destructing in what is going to become the most breath-taking race to the bottom of the swamp that is Luthuli House’s fiefdom as the pigs mount a last, pitiful, desperate attempt to loot the state for everything it’s worth up until the 2019 elections. As the late Smuts Ngonyama defiantly and perhaps too honestly admitted, they “didn’t join the struggle to be poor”.

It’s not entirely shocking that things have ended up here though – the ANC has always been a rotten fruit. History is written by the victors, and in this case, the victor when it came to the 1994 compromise was the ANC – no matter what certain voices would have us believe. Woefully underequipped to govern, with a political ideology that had already been outdated since the collapse of the USSR 5 years prior, elections in 1994 and 1999 that it would have won without getting out of bed thanks to the Madiba effect and the small fact that Apartheid wasn’t all the great for most South Africans, as well as a race-based affirmative action framework that the NP negotiators seem to have been incredibly naïve about, the ANC had all the time and space in the world to write itself into the history books as the mythical liberator of SA, and write everybody else involved out. The Nats’ capitulation to economic reality at the time, the ruthless internal and external terrorism and extra-judicial killings that characterised the ANC since Mandela and co. took over the ANCYL back in the day, the low level ANC – IFP civil war for power in KZN in the years prior to 1994, those who sacrificed but weren’t part of the ANC, the fact that – at it’s core – the ANC has always held a racist ideology of Africa for black Africans – all are conveniently forgotten these days. Now, it’s a benevolent master who all South Africans should be grateful exists – and please demonstrate as such by overlooking the odd impropriety here and there?

And so, with a narrative that only just stopped short of including rainbow-flatulating unicorns carrying Madiba off to the Union Buildings to become SA’s first democratically elected president, and woefully underprepared leadership, it’s no surprise that the rot not only carried on, but accelerated. Racial demographics – the notion that every aspect of society should represent the racial makeup of society as a whole, which is exactly what the Nazis did to the Jews before they just went “ah fuck it, let’s just get on with the genocide thing” – became the driving force for everything. Tens of thousands of skilled white professionals were swept aside overnight in favour of replacements whose number one (and sometimes only) qualification was that they were black. Contracts and tenders were doled out as fast as they could be drafted (and faster) to favoured cadres who had served in exile, whether or not they were even remotely equipped to deliver or not. Unquestioning loyalty to the ANC became the road to riches, merit became a casualty. Equality meant percentages, not merit. Transformation was demanded at any cost. And, sensing the weakness and inexperience of the new government, predators swooped in – until finally, we had the Arms Deal, when suddenly people realise they could actually get away with this shit because everybody was doing it. And then, whatever sliver of good intention might have been there at the beginning, suddenly the ANC realised that this delivering a better life for all shit was actually hard – especially when all sorts of unworkable promises had been bandied about like Johnny Walker Blue at a Youth League party – and governing for the people made way in favour of governing to stay in power. That’s where the money was, after all.

It’s therefore not entirely surprising that we’ve ended up where we are now, with a state that has been eviscerated by the wolves that we threw it to – ANC politicians and related hangers-on. 27% of the population unemployed, with no doubt a higher number not working if you take into account underemployment and those discouraged work-seekers who have given up looking. Parastatals flailing like a grotesquely obese ruling party cadre (ahem) choking on a chicken leg as the likes of Dudu Myeni, Hlaudi Moetseneng and Brian Molefe hop between anger and faux grief at how unfairly they’re being treated by the public, blaming peoples’ dislike of them for their race and stance on transformation rather than the fact that it’s quite obvious to anybody with even rudimentary intelligence that they’re political appointees without the slightest fucking ounce of either competence or sense of shame. A rugby team, once feared, now the laughing stock of the world as the playing and coaching staff are stacked with quota appointments (remember the infamous Pieter de Villiers, refreshingly honestly straight out appointed “not purely for rugby reasons”?). Convicted fraudsters being carried on shoulders as heroes to the gates of prison to serve their sentences…where the right connection might get you medical parole for the tragically terminal condition of…being alive? 

People are literally dying in hospitals and crime-ridden streets because political toadies would rather leave key police and health roles vacant than appoint the only qualified applicant if they’re white. Literally. Unqualified educators are able to sexually abuse pupils with no consequences, because they know that the fetid sewerage pit of a trade union, SACTU, will defend them to the ends of the earth with screams of racism. Once let off, they can then purchase their next position from the same trade union of course. Union leaders call down fire and brimstone every year, destroying property and livelihoods, without a single fuck given as long as it keeps them in power, with one chubby hand in the pile of cash their members are forced to pay them for the privilege of either losing months’ worth of income through pointless strike action or being physically attacked (and in some cases killed) for working through a strike action.

Cry the beloved country indeed, Mr Paton.

But – here’s the good news. Actually it’s fucking great. Zuma has survived, but he’s survived with ostensibly a third of the NEC openly hostile to him, and another third undecided or unwilling to commit. This means a purge is coming…a big purge. Zuma can’t fire elected MPs, but he can fire ministers…and the available talent pool is like the fire pool at Nkandla – if you did some quick crowbarring you could conjure up something half-arsed, but really, what’s in the pool is best left alone. The wisest comrades will pull the ejection seat lever and make themselves available to turn state witness down the line (once our embarrassment of a prosecuting authority is sorted out), some comrades are about to find out how cold those Southern Hemisphere summers can be, and others are going to try to double down on the plundering (or snouting, as journalist Ed Herbst wonderfully terms it). Except they’re going to find that the Gupta’s have jumped ship – they may be filthy rats, but even the filthiest rat knows when the ship he’s living on is going down. Without the glue of position, power and cold, hard cash that holds the whole wretched, rancid corpse together, there is going to come a tipping point where the ANC finally turns in on itself and tears itself to shreds.

And then it’s going to be 2019, where South Africans of all races, religions, sexes and tribes who just want to get along together and be happy, get to take our fucking country back from the pack of lecherous, obsequious, racist fucking slimebags who’ve been defiling it since ‘94, blaming anything and anyone but themselves for their failures. So just know, Jacob Zuma and friends – the wheels of justice may turn slowly, but they turn – and they’re going to come for you. You’re either going to die in jail, or die trying to avoid jail like the jester-in-chief who’s arsehole you’ve all got your noses buried in – but there is a time coming, in the near future, where you’re going to begin having a miserable ever after.

And in all honesty, for what you’ve done to the poor and the youth of SA, as you’ve let healthcare, education and safety crumble in favour of bleeding the country dry while you line your already ample guts with caviar and cognac and first class international travel, jail is probably still too cheap a price to pay.  But nevertheless, just know – South Africans want their country back, and we’re coming to get it.

Between a Rock and a Hard Place

So, I’ve been watching with a mixture of fascination, despair and vodka martinis over the last couple of days as Trump has pivoted on virtually every major position he held running up to the election (and simply avoided talking about the ones he doesn’t know what to do with). Every day the press runs another story which seems to only strengthen the idea we’re actually living in some sort of whacky computer simulation who’s operator keeps having some sort of spasm and mashing random keys. You literally could not make this shit up. To summarise off the top of my head:

  • Dr Ben Carson, impeccable neurosurgeon and erstwhile contender for the Republican nomination to be the fucking president of the USA, declined to make himself available to serve in a Trump administration…on the basis that he has no political experience. Seriously. Is it just fucking easy is it to become a neurosurgeon in the US or does having a palpable disregard for irony just earn you a couple of extra credits?
  • Trump is no longer going to prosecute Hilary Clinton. This is a small deviation from his original campaign promise to prosecute Hilary Clinton, a campaign promise which engendered much enthusiastic frothing at the bung by those tired of being forced to contemplate being led by anybody other than  a crusty old orange white guy.
  • The wall isn’t going to get built really. Well, maybe parts of it. But those parts will be more fence-ish and less wall-ish. And the US will probably pay for those parts. To badly paraphrase the legendary Murray Walker, the current position is identical to the former one, except that it’s almost totally different.
  • Trump sees no issue with continuing to be involved with his business and running the largest economy on the planet. Then again, given that apparently “no political experience” is a negative when working for the president but not apparently being the actual president, maybe he’s not wrong. Also, there’s no conflict of interest between owning a hotel in Washington DC and being the president based in Washington DC – that would almost be suggesting that profiting privately from your public position is unethical!
  • People aren’t allowed to criticise him or his administration at all, especially in theatres. He’s won, and people need to shut up and accept this now. Free speech is a thing that Donald Trump seems to think doesn’t apply to people when they’re talking about Donald Trump.
  • His 35 year old son-in-law with no political experience is perfectly equipped to bring peace to the Middle East. Every other career diplomat and politician just weren’t trying hard enough it seems.
  • He doesn’t really like the alt-right after all. It would have been nice for him to disavow their anti-semitic, racist, sexist misogyny before the election, but, you know, fuck it – they were rooting for him after all.
  • Breitbart is just like the New York Times in that they report the news. Much like rape and consensual sex are the same thing in that they each involve at least two people.
  • Poor old Barry has had to agree to a longer than usual transition period, due to the President-Elect’s “surprise” at the “scope of the job.” Um, what the fuck did he think it entailed?

And so on. Now, I’m still not about to hit the panic button – again, the US administration is a behemoth, with a plethora of checks and balances that go a long way to limiting what Trump can do acting alone. But that’s not the point. The point is that this clown got voted in to office sailing on a pack of outright lies and bluster that were never ever feasible in the slightest. And now he’s there, he feels absolutely fuck-all shame in straight up turning around and say “Nah, come on guys, I didn’t really mean that shit – like, I had my fingers crossed behind my back the whole time!”

And the most incredible thing is that there is no discernible backlash from his supporters. Seriously. Nobody . Nothing. Instead of noting that their beloved saviour has zero fucking clue about anything, and is rapidly backing down from every major platform position he held, his supporters are busy confirming that they don’t understand what the freedoms to speech, assembly and protest mean, berating anybody who dares to protest Trump’s victory. Remember how absolutely no racist, Confederate-flag waving, life-was-better-before-the-Civil-Rights-movement pieces of shit protested when a black dude won election? Definitely not looking at you, Republican establishment and your minions.

We’ve seen the same thing happen with Brexit. The £350m  payment that was evaporating off to the EU weekly suddenly wasn’t quite that much at all, and what was being sent to the EU wasn’t actually available to be ploughed back into the NHS anyway. Suddenly nobody had ever promised anything that had, in fact, been very explicitly promised prior to the referendum – at least themselves. Boris Johnson, who I used to be a fan of as Mayor of London, blamed Nigel Farage for promising things that were now, seemingly obviously, unworkable. He also seemed genuinely surprised that anybody would vote to leave the EU because they didn’t like immigration, having ostensibly immediately forgotten this was actually one of the very pillars around which the referendum was built.

Farage in turn grew a fucking horrible moustache in what I must presume was an attempt to emulate a randomly selected European hero of his from the 40s, and blamed the “Leave Movement” in general, further twisting his slimy torso out of the grip of accountability by  clarifying that the Leave movement wasn’t, in fact, a single thing, and he couldn’t be held responsible for what it had totes not promised, his enthusiastic embrace of all things Brexit as head of the UKIP (the “I” standing for Independence, ahem) nothwithstanding.

And now, as it becomes blatantly apparent that the UK will – shock, horror, gasp – not be allowed free access to the common market without allowing free movement of labour and capital in spite of repeated assurances to the contrary which were based on nothing more than straight up fucking conjecture and were in direct contradiction to what EU leaders were saying at the time as well…nothing. Nobody is being held accountable. Boris fucking Johnson drove around in a bus with £350m  plastered on the side of it in big white lettering and then literally turned around the morning of the results and claimed that was never a thing, and in return he got appointed as the  fucking Foreign Secretary.

I’m going to keep saying it until we admit it – it’s not about making America or Britain great again, it’s about making them white and exclusive again. It’s not about taking back control from the establishment, it’s about making sure the establishment reflects an unthinking and emotional segment of the population’s bigoted, nasty and narrow-minded prejudices. “But wait”, you cry, “it’s not true! We’ve suffered for so long under the rule of an uncaring urban elite, who’ve not delivered anything to us! I didn’t want to vote for Trump/Brexit, I wanted to vote for change/to make a point/because what we had hasn’t worked since Regan/Thatcher! Arghlblarghblarghblarghblargh!”

I’ve wrestled with that argument, as it seems to be a reasonable one on the face of it, and have constructed a carefully reasoned response which I believe succinctly elucidates the contrary position: Go get fucked you pillock. That’s exactly what Hitler did (no this is not Godwin’s Law). He waved the Treaty of Versaille around and made loud, angry noises, and told the Germans how unfairly they’d been treated, and how letting the foreigners have a say in things was responsible for the suffering of the German people, and it was the status quo political establishment of the day who were to blame, and how Germany should be great again, and how it should be kept for Germans only, and the rest is history. And if you think it couldn’t happen again because we live in HD colour, not black and white newsreels voiced over by impeccable BBC accents, you’re grossly underestimating the stupidity of the human race – it will be more difficult to get to that tipping point again, I believe, but destruction will be a lot quicker and more widespread with the weaponry at hand.

So as the dust settles, and cooler heads begin prevailing, here’s the rock and hard place our Trump and Brexit supporting friends find themselves stuck between. Either they insist on a hard line implementation of everything promised before the votes were counted, knowing full well that if enough of a chorus is raised and those in power have their hand forced it will in fact come back to bite us all in the ass…or stay quiet, and in doing so tacitly admit that it was never about workable proposals, it was about supporting people who gave voice to the prejudices that they hold. An affirmation that their racism, or xenophobia, or sexism, or misogyny, is in fact acceptable – without having to be individually accountable for it. And I’m betting on the latter…it seems, from where I’m sitting, that people just wanted to get together in a large enough group so that they felt it was ok to be a dick without being accountable for changing.