Tag Archives: Donald Trump

And Never Brought to Mind (Again)

It was Nietzsche who wrote: “To live is to suffer; to survive is to find some meaning in the suffering.”

Well I wish I could channel some of Gloria Gaynor’s optimism right now but I get the feeling that if our survival depends on extricating some grand meaning from the veritable shit pile of suffering that was the year 2016, we’re going to need a bigger shovel.

In fact if 2016 were a person then Nietzsche’s life seems to be conveniently analogous, seeing as it was one marred early on by tragic deaths, scarred throughout by severe ill health, and finally and mercifully extinguished only after a prolonged deterioration into madness.

Thankfully we don’t have to wait much longer now for the denouement, though if the process could be sped up at all I’m sure we’d all be on the first plane to Switzerland, dragging this burdensome, festering near-corpse of a year behind us in an effort to forego whatever fresh hell its death throes may yet vomit onto the carpet of civilisation.

The morbid imagery is apt, as 2016 looks set to be remembered – for whatever brief, hellish future remains for us to eke out – as the year of death. Not content with simply providing us with the usual amount of war, conflict and terror, this year we’ve been treated to an especially horrific smorgasbord of human pain and torment. It has been a miserable existence this year for so many groups of people: Syrians caught up in a bloody civil war, tourists attacked by bloodthirsty fanatics, and black people in the US who wanted to do things like drive through town or walk down the street.

Perhaps the only place more dangerous than Aleppo this year has been the world of show business, as 2016 ruthlessly dispatched celebrities with the zealous abandon of a drone at a Pakistani wedding party. Bowie, Prince, Ali, even R2-D2 died for fuck’s sake. It’s bad enough when someone you respect and admire passes away but even worse is having to deal with the outpouring of ostentatious social media grief from the kind of people who celebrate their cat’s birthdays.

There were times this year when we got up to at least a 7 or 8 on the Princess Diana-Ometer of disingenuous attention seeking. Twitter has only compounded this phenomenon as each passing is now hailed with a cacophony of teary emoticons, exclamation marks and greeting card phraseology digitally expectorated with a drooling vacancy by the chattering classes.

This was also the year that politics in the UK went from worrying about how Ed Miliband eats a sandwich to a Votey McVoteface catastrophe as the country committed economic and political seppuku to spite the Brussels fat cats who had for so long lorded over them with an iron fist of politeness, inclusive democracy and subsidisation.

The tabloid level of public discourse on display during the campaign, and the ultimate victory of witless, shameless demagoguery should probably have given us an indication of how events would unfold later in the year across the Atlantic, but most people were too busy floundering in apocalyptic angst to indulge in this kind of analysis. Or maybe even at that stage, there remained a modicum of hope, of faith in ordinary people to make a sound decision for their future. I can’t be sure as I can’t remember what that feels like.

And so we move to the biggest story of 2016, and to the proud nation that has just elected a human YouTube comment as its commander in chief. In one fell swoop the trite and much-maligned concept of American exceptionalism was confirmed as reality once and for all, if not exactly as it was meant, as US citizens defeated all competition in the race to the bottom of the barrel of narcissistic populism, displaying the collective self-awareness of an inert gas with Asperger syndrome.

This is the endgame of neoliberalism, of letting the free market dictate societal progress. An ideology that not only accepted but embraced some of the worst characteristics of a species still suffering from an evolutionary hangover and stumbling round in a haze of fear, anger and primitive chest-beating was never going to end well.

This is the broken, bitterly divided, hideously unequal pot of shit at the end of the shimmering rainbow of the American Dream. The US is trapped in a Kafkaesque Bruce Springsteen song, becoming ever more socially and culturally bereft as everything turns to misery and loss.

The binary echo chambers of the fascistic, identity obsessed left and the intractable, dried-up paleo-conservative husks will continue to orbit at a distance around the frustrated, disenfranchised majority whose antiquated political system has robbed them of their voice, and now their future.

But never fear, the wretched failed experiment in democracy that is America will stumble on in its own crass, inimitable way. After all, tomorrow is another day and there is work to be done: freedom to be wrested from tyranny; superhero sequels to be released; and of course, walls to be built. Home of the brave, indeed.

I suppose I should try to finish on a positive note and mention some of the happier moments of the year, such as they were.

Bernie Sanders was a brief bright spot amidst the gloom of the US election, refreshing the political tableau of the country with his ability to form long, coherent sentences and display something approaching human empathy. That is, before he was inevitably crushed by the Clinton money machine, like some insignificant insect or a woman whom Bill sexually assaulted.

In the world of mass entertainment as avoidance of reality the first season of Westworld was pretty good. That said, it’s a little disconcerting that TV plots now seem to be written not with story or character as the driving force, but rather constructed in such a convoluted way as to evade the painstaking, labyrinthine speculation by a committee of Reddit neckbeards that every frame of every episode is now subjected to. There’s also the unshakeable feeling that these violent delights will have nebulous and frustratingly unresolved ends.

Okay, more positives…well…the Olympics was fun I guess? Mmm…Zika didn’t become as widespread as initially feared…Planet Earth II? That was pretty impressive, right? Even if that terrifying scene with the lizard and the snakes provided us with a fitting existential metaphor for the year it’s been.

Well, what else is left to say? The long, painful penetration of the annus horribilis is almost at an end. So wipe yourself down, take a deep breath and brace yourself for 2017. It’s going to be yuge.


Presidential Disorder

The lights come up on a stage with seven equally spaced, empty podiums. A large audience is in attendance, and as a woman enters from stage left, the crowd rises to its feet, cheering and applauding. The woman turns to the audience and the assembled television cameras and raises a microphone.

Oprah: Good evening America!

Crowd: Good evening Oprah! We love you!

Oprah: Welcome! Welcome everyone, to the 2023 Republican Presidential Debate, sponsored by Trump Cola. Mmm, tastes like capitalism!

Crowd erupts into whooping and hollering and a “U.S.A.” chant breaks out. Eventually they take their seats and fix their glazed expressions once more on Oprah.

Oprah: Well, after seven glorious years under President Trump, it’s finally time to start thinking about who we want to be the next leader of the free world. Tonight we meet the seven candidates who will contest the primary for the presidential nomination for the greatest, and thanks to our current President, the only, political party in America: The Republican Party!

Crowd explodes into a frenzy of thunderous applause and indecipherable feral yelping. At one point somebody produces a banjo. Eventually they take their seats again.

Oprah: Let’s meet the contestants!

The live band that has been hidden in a shaded alcove springs into life and begins to play a bass-heavy version of “I am a Real American” as seven figures file onto the stage.

Oprah: Introducing…the man who said he’d be back, he’s no girly-man, Arnold Schwarzenegger!

Next, the first daughter hoping to be the next little lady in the big house, Chelsea Clinton!

Back from Alaska for another shot, the mom who came in from the cold, Sarah Palin!

He’s not the Messiah, but he’s a very talented boy, voice of a generation, Kanye West!

A reluctant late entry to the race, former Democrat, Old Man River himself, Bernie Sanders!

The belle of the ball, and winner of the 2023 Hoes That Pose reality TV show, 6-year old child beauty pageant sensation, Amber May Alabama!

And lastly, a surprise wild card entry into the race after a special sitting of Trump Congress. Ladies and gentlemen, your President, looking for four more years, Donald “The Donald” Trump!

Crowd erupts into a cacophony of jingoistic yodelling, saucepan clanking and pistol shots. A sheep emerges from the maelstrom and runs off stage right. A man dressed as Uncle Sam gets hit with a steel chair. After some minutes they settle and retake their seats.

Oprah: Okay, it’s time to start the questions. Unfortunately the network has stipulated that the debate can last no more than ten minutes this year, in order to avoid a clash with tonight’s eagerly awaited finale of Dancing with the Stars: Sitcom Wars between the casts of Modern Family, and Modern Family spin-off Lily’s High School Misadventures. Accordingly, each candidate will be asked just one question on a given topic and will have one minute to answer.

Bernie: That’s not a debate, how dumbed-down can you get?  I knew I shouldn’t have lowered myself to this circus…

Oprah: Dumbed-down? Bernie please, you’re being ridiculous. Okay folks, it’s question time and you know what that means. Let’s…Spin That Wheel!

Crowd leaps to its feet, yammering approval, as a giant wheel is rolled in from offstage.

Oprah: Okay folks, you know how it works. Each candidate will spin the Issue Wheel, and will receive a question on whatever issue the arrow lands on. Immigration, Terrorism, God, all the big ones are up there! Okay, Arnold, you’re up first. Come on up and…

Crowd: SPIN THAT WHEEL!

Oprah: Okay, let’s go. Wow, that’s a good strong spin there, Arnold. Now we just wait…until the arrow stops…still going…that really was a big spin…Arnold’s new movie Terminator: Revelations is out next week folks, get your preview tickets now…

Arnold: I play a Terminator Satan. But it’s very understated.

Oprah: Okay…and, it’s stopped! Finally. Okay Arnold, your issue is immigration. Your question is this: Do you agree with the construction of the Trump Wall and would you continue the President’s policy of selective immigration protocols based on physical attractiveness?

Arnold: As you know Oprah, I am an immigrant myself. So I feel I am best placed to say to these illegal immigrants: Your stay here has been terminated. Hasta la vista, baby! That’s Mexican for “Go back to Mexico”.

Crowd rises in rapturous approval

Bernie: Jesus Christ…

Donald: Obviously Mr. Sanders thinks it’s okay to take the Lord’s name in vain. Go back to Soviet Russia, Comrade Bernie!

Crowd boos loudly and some throw peanuts at Bernie

Arnold: Bernie’s candidacy has been terminated. Ha ha. Ha ha. Terminated. Ha ha. Like the film.

Okay, next up is Ms. Clinton. Let’s…

Crowd: SPIN THAT WHEEL!

Oprah: Okay Chelsea, your issue is Family. How do you feel about the political legacy left by your father? Will you ever be able to emulate his achievements, or are you simply trading on a well-known political surname?

Chelsea: Well, I’m actually really glad I get a chance to address this tonight because this campaign has been such a cathartic exp-

Arnold: Hey Chelsea!

Chelsea: Em, yes? I’m kind of in the middle of some-

Arnold: Who is your Daddy and what does he do?

Arnold turns and winks at the camera as the crowd goes wild

Chelsea: Can I answer the question now or-

Oprah: Okay, let’s move on!

Crowd: SPIN THAT WHEEL!

Oprah: Kanye, you’re up. Okay, your issue is Celebrity. As part of President Trump’s Celebrity Cabinet Initiative, you’re currently the Secretary of State. Do you really think celebrities are suited to these important positions?

Kanye: Absolutely. Everybody that isn’t me makes mistakes, as we saw with Secretary of Defence Beyonce’s recent nuclear mishap with North Korea. But that song she wrote about it afterwards was number 1 for six weeks and had a killer beat. So I ask you, how much is a human life really worth?

Oprah: Okay…ah Bernie, it’s your turn to…

Crowd: SPIN THAT WHEEL!

Bernie: A question mark, what does that mean?

Oprah: It’s the Mystery Prize! Bernie, you’ve just won a washer-dryer!

Bernie: Oh for God’s sake. Can we please talk about child pover-

Oprah: No time Bernie! Time to spin the wheel again! Okay this time it’s…Education!

Bernie: Finally, a real issue. Okay, so there are three fundamental problems with our education system that need to be tackled before we-

Kanye runs up to Bernie and grabs the microphone from his hand

Kanye: I’mma let you finish Bernie but I just wanted to say I don’t think making fried chicken is any kind of a qualification to be President.

Bernie: I’m not Colonel Sanders you moron, what the fu-

Arnold: Chill out, dickwad!

Oprah: Okay, time to move onto our next candidate, Sarah Palin. Sarah…

Crowd: SPIN THAT WHEEL!

Oprah: Okay Sarah, your issue is God. How big an influence is God in your daily life, and how much would your faith influence your Presidency?

Sarah: Well Oprah, I think America is God’s country. Otherwise why would he have made it the greatest country in the world?

Crowd roars its approval and rises to its feet, waving miniature American flags

Sarah: And if God doesn’t love freedom, why did he only give it to civilised people in mostly white countries?

Oprah: Em…

Crowd continues to go crazy. Somebody throws a pig dressed as Lincoln into the air.

Sarah: And if God doesn’t hate homosexuals, then why did he make them so easy to spot? I mean they prance around the place like-

Oprah: Okay, and your minute is up! Ah, thanks Sarah. Little Miss Amber May, you’re up next honey. Let’s…

Crowd: SPIN THAT WHEEL!

Crowd emits a collective “Aaaawww” as the diminutive Amber May totters over to the wheel in her six inch heels

Amber May: Ms. Oprah, Ma’am, I can’t reach that there wheel. She’s higher’n a kite on a Mississippi Mayday.

Crowd: Aaaaaaawwwww

Arnold: I will help the tiny prostitute to spin the wheel.

Arnold spins the wheel so hard it comes off its axel and rolls away offstage, mowing down a cameraman on the way.

Arnold: Oops.

Oprah: Ah, okay. Amber May, my producer is telling me to ask you about the War on Terror. How do you think ISIS’s latest incursions in North Africa have affected geopolitical stability?

Amber May: Shucks, I just wish there wasn’t so much fightin’ and that all them brown folks could get along. Pops had some chickens once that was like that, always fightin’ like varmints. Then one day he just done wrung their necks and that was the end of it.

Crowd: Aaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaawwwwwwwwwwww

Oprah: Okay, we’ve got one minute left, and no wheel…

Crowd: SPIN THAT WHEEL!

Oprah: I said we’ve got no wheel you braindead…ah…okay, let’s go to President Trump for the final word. Mr. President?

Donald: America, if you give me four more years, I will continue to crush our enemies, see them driven before us, and hear the lamentations of their women.

Arnold: Hey, that’s my line!

Donald: U.S.A.! U.S.A.!…

Crowd: U.S.A.! U.S.A.! U.S.A.!

Oprah: Well, you’ve heard from all the candidates. Now it’s up to you, the American public, to decide. To gauge the reaction to tonight’s debate we’ve had a Twitter poll running all night. And I can now announce that the winner is…me. Oprah. Ah, I think some of you may have misunderstood what was happening here tonight. Oh well, we’re nearly out of time, you know what that means. Everybody grab a partner! Goodnight America!

The lights are dimmed as the band starts to play a Garth Brooks tune. The crowd and the candidates all file out onto the floor and begin line dancing. As the camera pans out Donald swings Chelsea around the floor and begins to slide his hand down her lower back. Arnold grabs Oprah and spins her, accidentally putting her through the studio wall. Bernie Sanders simply stands at his podium disconsolately, aghast at what is unfolding before him. He trudges offstage, his feet crunching over the detritus of miniature American flags as a solitary tear runs down his cheek.