Tuesday, 21 March 2017

The beginning of the end of the Post-Truth era?

After the first 60 days of Trump’s presidency there’s been a change in the balance of power between the White House, and the media. During the campaign, he was in the ascendancy, regularly accusing the media of creating fake news stories when they reported anything unfavourable to him.  

In his first week in office he was signing executive orders; and diverting attention away from anything that reflected badly on him by making up his own fantastic tweets. Right from the start he tried to change the reality of even trivial matters like the size of the crowd at his inauguration day; or more seriously the number of fraudulent votes cast.

But federal court judges declared his first travel ban on people from some Muslim countries unconstitutional, and then did so once again to the revised order because, in their published judgement, they took his own statements during the campaign, concerning excluding Muslims from entering the US, at face value. This was the first collision between Trump’s habitual lying and the real world. When you're President of the USA, words matter and can no longer be treated as fleeting statements made in campaign speeches, easily said, often repeated, and then forgotten.

Trump is also facing a multi-organisational investigation into links between him, his campaign team and Russia.  Why would Flynn deny meeting the Russian ambassador for discussions about sanctions only to resign when called to account for his lying. 

In addition, why would Sessions not disclose to the Senate confirmation hearing that he had met the Russian ambassador twice during the campaign, and then withdraw himself from the investigation. Everyone thinks there’s a smoking gun somewhere, which sooner or later will be found!

Trump, in his attempt to abolish Obamacare, has a grass roots revolt on his hands over the hardships that would be created for many of his own supporters in terms of removing or reducing their health care cover; so he has used his familiar distraction tactics and accused Obama and the UK of “wiretapping” him. This should have been a good tactic, because normally the policy of the intelligence agencies is neither to confirm or deny such matters, but this time the lie was such a whopper that even the Director of GCHQ condemned it outright, as did the FBI and the NSA. Fox News his favourite TV channel has now dropped the journalist who started the rumour. I think that’s as strong a statement on the matter as anyone else has made so far.

Trump’s popularity is the lowest of any newly elected President at  37% but he so much needs approval and adulation that his response has been to organize campaign style rallies in Florida and Nashville  to bolster his ego.  In the Florida rally he once again blamed the media for all his troubles but, protected by the first amendment, they are doing their job and exposing the untruths wherever they can.

Trump’s a better campaigner than he is a President and he’s mobilised a lot of discontented people to support him, but his ignorance, and his disregard for both the truth, and the institutions which exist in democracies to limit the power of the executive, are catching up with him.  The fight back is underway in the US mainly because Trump has overreached himself very quickly, made numerous mis-steps and is now on the back foot.  I hope that we are seeing the beginning of the end of the Post-Truth era in politics.

Now we need to apply the same degree of scrutiny and resistance to spin and untruths over the Brexit negotiations, although with the predominantly foreign owned, right wing, UK press that will be difficult.

Theresa May wasn’t part of the team of liars who led the leave campaign, but she has now firmly allied herself with them. By prioritising immigration control over trade and the economy she’s on the way to confirming the UKIP/Daily Mail lies making immigrants the scapegoats for all of the economic and social woes of the UK.  In the period when Osborne’s cuts to central government and local authority budgets are beginning to really bite hard and affect the NHS and social care that is a gigantic lie! 

Thursday, 2 March 2017

Crane migration over the Lot

Yesterday evening the cranes were flying right over the village.  There was skein after skein of them for more than half an hour at dusk. I would estimate that several thousand were going north.  They call to each other as they fly and often change their position in the V-shaped formations. It was quite a spectacle!
It can be a matter of luck whether you see them or not. Some years they fly above the clouds and you just hear their calls, other times they fly over at night. They usually co-ordinate their northward migration to a particular day so if you're not there you've missed them!  

This video from Peter Erl shows the migration very well.