Written by Hannah Dunleavy

In The News

What the fuck just happened? The new POTUS – part two

That Muslim ban. That hand-holding. The Doomsday Clock moving forward. Brace yourself, Jean, Hannah Dunleavy’s going in.

A protestor in Baltimore on Saturday. Photo by Social Justice – Bruce Emmerling, via Wikimedia Commons (CC0).

Thursday 26 January

Mercy. Where to start? No, really. Because as if we haven’t got enough shit to worry about, wise minds start reminding the world exactly how much more horror is almost certainly going on behind the scenes at the White House. And of course there is. Because history. And you can’t argue with that. Although Sean Spicer would give it a bloody good go.

Smart people tell us that the wall and the vote rigging temper tantrum is merely a distraction from the real agenda. Or, to put it another way, if we’re watching Donald Trump waving his cock around in the back yard, we might not notice Steve Bannon spraypainting a swastika on the front door.

Bannon, a septic toad who formerly edited right-wing online shitshow Breitbart and now edits Trump, is interviewed by The New York Times. He says, “The media should be embarrassed and humiliated and keep its mouth shut and just listen for a while,” – something recycled from his wedding vows, I’m guessing – before returning to whatever hole he does his nefarious shit in.

Meanwhile, the Washington Post reports a lawsuit filed regarding Trump and the emoluments clause. Soon after the media receives confirmation that all four senior managers in the State Office (to all extents and purposes, the US Foreign Office) have resigned. Then the Economist Intelligence Unit downgrades the US from a “full democracy” to a “flawed democracy” for the first time. Ever. And then Sean Spicer accidentally tweets what appears to be a password. Day 6. Just another day at the office of Conman, Dicksplash and White-Sonely.

“When Newt Gingrich declares it’s not Reagan who’s the role model for the Trump presidency, but Thatcher, I wonder if that’s not quite fair on her. NO, I CANNOT BELIEVE I JUST TYPED THAT EITHER.”

In Europe, the European Investment Bank pledges to maintain its target of investing around £16bn a year to fight climate change, because no other bastard seems interested (Fake News!), and an African man drowns in Venice’s Grand Canal while people stand by and watch. Because nowadays.

Talking of Europe, leading the category “well, ordinarily I might find that odd as shit, but given the last few days…” is the news the Labour wing of the Brexit movement made an £18,500 donation to UKIP during the referendum.

But no time to even ponder those imponderables, as the actual Labour Party continues its unfortunate sideshow, with Corbyn deciding on a three-line whip after all. (Here’s fun: look up how many times he’s defied one.)

Tulip Siddiq quits the shadow front bench and several other MPs in majority Remain constituencies announce their intention to oppose the bill. (Including mine, which was a relief, because I’ve not got time to be disappointed in anyone else at the moment. Thanks for not being a cunt, Daniel Zeichner. I know it’s a low bar to clear but some MPs can’t even manage that.)

Trump and Mexico sling mud at each other for most of the afternoon, until the Mexican President’s official visit gets cancelled, which, although not proof World War III will break out on social media, is one in the eye for all those people who said, “But he’s got to get more presidential when he’s actually the president.” Actually, who was it who said Trump was going to be so presidential we were going to be bored? Oh yeah, it was him.

In depressingly related news, scientists moved the Doomsday Clock forward 30 seconds, putting us closer to midnight than we have been since 1953. Nineteen-fifty-goddam-three! Now, I know most of you don’t actually know what I sound like, so if you could try to read this in whatever you imagine my earnest voice is:

This makes me truly sad. I have a nephew who is 10 and the fact there is more global instability in the world now then there was when I was 10 is i-n-c-r-e-d-i-b-l-e. Not least because I was 10 in 1984: when Reagan and the Soviets were engaged in a protracted game of nuclear cock-measuring, a new global and mostly fatal pandemic was sweeping the world, someone shot the Indian Prime Minister and someone else tried to blow up the British one. What in the sweet pissing Nora are we coming to?

Speaking of 1984, sales of George Orwell’s classic are flying off the shelves and speaking of Orwell, scientists announce the first human/pig chimera has been created, just in time to take over Animal Farm. (Four legs good, two legs better, three legs for the win.)

Meanwhile, Rory McGrath and Lee Hurst have a competition to see who can win the title of Most Dickish They Think It’s All Over Has-Been when the former was found guilty of stalking his one-time mistress and the latter tweeted this, prompting much hilarity and a few Guardian editorials about how torture can never be good. Just in case you’re in any doubt.

But that’s not all, women and gentlemen, the worst of Thursday is still to come because our PM gets on a plane to the US to collect her guitar from the crossroads.

In years to come, people will ask, “What was it like to be British on that day?” And this is what I’ll say: “Imagine your baby is tied to a timebomb… No, wait, stay with me… And a terrorist tells you he will untie the baby if you manage to hold a blade of grass between your arse cheeks for a whole day. Imagine how much you’d clench those cheeks together. That, my friends, is what it felt like to be British today.”

(You thinking of filling the bath with water to use if they shut it off yet? No, me neither. Honest.)

Friday 27 January (that can’t be right surely? Still January?)

Probably best described as the day America worked out it was being run by Steve Bannon and Britain worked it was now being run by a Twitter account with a Union Jack avatar.

Gregg Phillips, the man who first mooted the idea of hoards of Clinton supporters voting multiple times, goes on TV and gives an interview so out-there that ‘through the looking glass’ no longer does it justice. In fact, if you squint you can almost see the people on the other side of the looking glass calling their mates over to watch, “because this fucker’s cray”.

It’s Holocaust Memorial Day, which everyone is hoping might add a bit of gravitas and respect to the day. Especially when combined with the release of a Vanity Fair article that includes the astonishing claim that the women at the centre of one of the US’s most notorious hate crimes – the lynching of 14 year-old Emmett Till in 1955 – had admitted to lying when she said he assaulted her.

“Imagine if you can, that your baby is tied to a timebomb. And the terrorist will only let him or her go if you round up everyone you know, drive to the largest cavern you can find and all scream, ‘FUUUUUCCCCKKK’ into the abyss. That was Saturday.”

So, the entire right-thinking population of the planet thought, it’s not the day to sign an Executive Order that may or may not amount to a Muslim Ban. (Something the White House itself can’t even seem to decide on.) But we’ve all forgotten that it’s Trump’s ball and if we don’t let him score all the goals, he’s going to take it home.

Anyone in any doubt as to Bannon’s role in proceedings was free to kick that bullshit right out of their brain, as a statement which Trump “went out of his way” (the EXACT words of Sean Spicer) to make about Holocaust Memorial Day failed to mention the word Jews.

It’s a move so fetid that when Newt Gingrich, a man as repulsive as his name sounds, declares it’s not Reagan who’s the role model for the Trump presidency, but Thatcher, I wonder if that’s not quite fair on her. NO, I CANNOT BELIEVE I JUST TYPED THAT EITHER.

And talking of monstrous PMs, I can’t go any further without mentioning the gut-wrenching rollercoaster of fear and loathing that was May and Trump. Two words that couldn’t conjure more horror if you heard them while standing under the BFG.

This is how the world ends, not with a bang but with these two out-of-their-depth clowns holding hands. (Extraordinarily, this is later officially blamed on the fact that Trump is scared of stairs. Which is ironic because his hair always reminds me of that Escher drawing.)

A pro-life March for Life takes place in Washington and claims it is more popular than Jesus (I’m paraphrasing) turn out not to be true.

And Trump gets to finally say “best ever” about something that is actually a) a thing and b) true, but stays curiously silent.

The actress Emmanuelle Riva dies and that news is followed by the death announcement of John ‘Winston Smith’ Hurt. This, along with some truly “Everybody Happy All The Time Always” shit gushing from the White House and some early reports that people, many of whom have green cards, are being detained at airports across the country gives the day a truly dystopian feel.

And then news emerges that the former KGB agent suspected of being involved in compiling the notorious Buzzfeed-leaked dossier was found dead in his car in Moscow. The world falls asleep wondering if the Doomsday Clock is about to be updated to “a week next Wednesday”.

Saturday 28 January

Imagine if you can, that your baby is tied to a timebomb. And the terrorist will only let him or her go if you round up everyone you know, drive to the largest cavern you can find and all scream, “FUUUUUCCCCKKK” into the abyss.

That was Saturday.

There’s not space or time here to do justice to the absolute clusterfuck that is the (ongoing) situation at US Customs, the outright racism it reveals within the new administration or the very real damage it has done to the law of that land. I’m not sure if it’s a comfort or not that the whole thing was executed with the intelligence and humility of a later Hapsburg.

What I can say was that Saturday revealed as many decent people as it did shithawks, as tens of thousands – possibly even hundreds of thousands – turned up at airports with signs in the ball-crushing cold, lawyers got the rare chance to be seen as the good guys and the nation opened its wallets to the ACLU to the tune of $24m. Which is magnificent. Whichever way you slice it.

If you’re looking for more hope, there was this, from the New York Times. Suck it Donald. Sad!

And this:

What any of this means for the future of American politics is anyone’s guess, but I can’t help feel about Bannon, and the equally odious Stephen Miller, the same way I did the stray cat who got into my house and pissed on the rug: you can get rid of them, but you never get rid of the stench.

Perhaps the greatest example of how terrible a day it has been is this, from Senator John Lewis, who was one of the original Freedom Riders, in one of the darkest times in US history.

Just to show Americans don’t have a monopoly on being shit-scared about the future, Theresa May continues her little tour of supplication by stopping by in Turkey to talk arms. It’s an excruciating glimpse into the future in post-Brexit Britain, with our leader too scared to say boo to a racist goose. Even when Sir Mo Farah and one of her own MPs are affected.

I’m with her:

Planned marches break out all over: an anti-Brexit one in London, a pro-Science one in the US (possibly the best example of just where we are in 2017) and dozens of regional demos are announced across the UK for Monday night with thousands expected to attend. Especially given Only Connect has moved to a Friday.

Social media activism has companies failing to condemn the Muslim Ban in its cross-hairs and seems to bring results. Nike makes a strong statement in support of Sir Mo and against the ban and Uber takes a hammering for attempting to break the strike of New York taxi drivers.

Iraq and Iran both retaliate against the ban with talk of banning US citizens, while one Chinese military official is quoted in the media as saying war with America is “a practical reality”. Come on now guys, I spent hours getting tickets for Hamilton, can we try to still be here in March 2018?

And then, as if it couldn’t get any worse, there is news that crucial people have been ousted from the National Security Committee and replaced with, you’ve guessed it, Steve Bannon. I realise you might not be fully abreast of the inner working of US politics, but it’s actually quite simple. In fact, it can be summed up in two words. Putsch. And FUUUUCCCCKK.

The world falls asleep and wonders if a burning eye will appear on top of Trump Tower some time soon.

Sunday 29 January

It’s literally exhausting trying to keep abreast of what in the name of the baby Jesus is going on. Not helped by news like Angela Merkel having to explain to Trump what the Geneva Convention is. (This is not a joke. I repeat this is not a joke.)

What is funny is the thousands of Brits rushing to sign a petition asking that the Queen not have to have the embarrassment of meeting Trump. Which, of course, is NOT why everyone signed it. And by everyone, I mean 1.7 million people. For my money, if Prince Andrew serves any purpose at all it’s to prove that woman can put up with embarrassment.

The BBC continues its commitment to giving work to pointless racists, getting Nigel Farage on with Andrew Marr to talk about why being a knobber to Muslims is a good idea.

But seriously BBC, if I self-appoint myself as an expert on the common people, can I come on and talk shit please? Because I’m actually proper common. And very good at taking shit. And it’d stop my friends having to put up with this:

Meanwhile in America, the Governor of Washington calls Trump the enemy of the state and the ongoing catastrophe at US airports prompts many politicians – of all stripes – to call it a constitutional crisis.

The Screen Actors Guild Awards becomes a great venting of left-wing frustrations and everyone gives a cracking speech. David Harbour’s got a lot of love, but for my money nothing beats JLD. Did you hear me? I said NOTHING.

Kellyanne Conjob gives another interview in which she complains that no reporters have yet been sacked for “speaking smack” about Trump and I can’t shake the feeling that we’re all part of some weird fantasy world she’s created in her head. Bang on the sides quick everyone, maybe someone will hear us.

*News continues to break on a minute-ly basis so I’ll catch up on the last four days of Trump’s first fortnight at the weekend. (And then I really have to do some washing up.) It’s got President Obama, John Dean and the Ken Clarke. HOW CAN YOU RESIST. Until then…
Read part one of WTFJH?: The new POTUS here.



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Written by Hannah Dunleavy

Hannah Dunleavy is the deputy editor of Standard Issue. She likes whisky and not having to run anywhere.