Da funk

THE BIG IDEA: Americans, collectively, appear to be in a deep funk about the future.

by James Hohmann – Daily 202 Washington Post – Mar 22, 2019

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When adults are asked to think about what the United States will be like in 2050, they see the country declining in stature on the world stage, a widening gap between the haves and the have-nots and growing political polarization. They think health care will be less affordable, public education will be lower quality and retiring will be harder. They fear the growing national debt, the likelihood of an attack that’s as bad or worse than 9/11 and another 1970s-style energy crisis. Many people also think robots will take their jobs. Few folks in either party believe the political class is up to the task of addressing the most pressing challenges. Part of the problem is that there is less agreement about what the biggest problems even are than there once was, let alone the best ways to tackle them.

A Pew Research Center study published Thursday is full of sobering data points that underscore the level of unease in the body politic and help explain why every two years brings another change election. The comprehensive poll, released with a 58-page report, paints a grim portrait of Americans who feel trepidation about the day-to-day lives that they and their children will be forced to live in 30 years. The numbers bear out what I’ve heard for years now from voters across the country and across the ideological spectrum.

Seven in 10 Americans are dissatisfied with the way things are going in the country right now, higher than at any time in the past year, but there is a more atmospheric crisis of confidence that transcends the daily news cycle or even the Trump presidency. Overall, 56 percent of people say they are somewhat or even “very” optimistic about the future while 44 percent say they are pessimistic. But asking specific questions reveals a deeper, more systemic anxiety. Continue reading Da funk

Rural America has a problem

Politically, rural America is increasingly a world apartMcGarvey & Paul Krugman – for The New York Times

Things clump together; the periphery cannot hold.

As you read this, Democratic presidential hopefuls are crisscrossing Iowa, trying to assure farmers that they share their concerns. Commentators are publishing opinion pieces about how Democrats can win back rural voters. Think tanks are issuing manifestoes about reviving heartland economies.

There’s nothing wrong with discussing these issues. Rural lives matter — we’re all Americans, and deserve to share in the nation’s wealth. Rural votes matter even more; like it or not, our political system gives hugely disproportionate weight to less populous states, which are also generally states with relatively rural populations.

But it’s also important to get real. There are powerful forces behind the relative and in some cases absolute economic decline of rural America — and the truth is that nobody knows how to reverse those forces.

Put it this way: Many of the problems facing America have easy technical solutions; all we lack is the political will. Every other advanced country provides universal health care. Affordable child care is within easy reach. Rebuilding our fraying infrastructure would be expensive, but we can afford it — and it might well pay for itself.

But reviving declining regions is really hard. Many countries have tried, but it’s difficult to find any convincing success stories. Continue reading Rural America has a problem

Obstruction in the Senate

 

by Richard @ Flexible Reality – Mar. 18th, 2019

The House sent two bits of proposed legislation to the Senate for consideration: one was HR1, and the other was a joint resolution regarding the public release of the Mueller Report. In both cases, Republican leaders in the Senate have refused to allow consideration or a vote on these two proposals, both of which already passed in the House, in the latter case by a vote of 420-0.

I have expressed my outrage to the individuals responsible for this obstruction of democratic processes: Sen. McConnell, and Sen. Graham respectively, and urge you to do the same to your “representatives” in Congress. Please also remember both of these Senators are up for re-election in 2020, and help find them new vocations elsewhere come Jan. 3rd, 2021

 

Democracy in exile.

“The dark clouds of an American-style fascism are brewing on the horizon and can be seen in a countless number of Trump’s statements and orders, including his instructions to the Department of Homeland Security to draw up a list of “Muslim organizations and individuals that, in the language of the executive action, have been ‘radicalized.’” Given Trump’s intolerance of criticism and dissent, it is plausible that this list could be expanded to target Black Lives Matter activists, investigative journalists, feminists, community organizers, university professors, and other outspoken left-wing intellectuals.

One indication that the Trump regime is compiling a larger list of alleged wrongdoers was the Trump transition team’s request that the Energy Department deliver a list of the names of individuals who had worked on climate change. Under public pressure, the Trump regime later rescinded this request. Couple these political interventions with the unprecedented attack on the media and the barring of the New York TimesCNNand other alleged “fake news” media outlets from press conferences, and what becomes clear is that the professional institutions that make democracy possible are not only under siege but face the threat of being abolished. Trumpists’ constant cry of “fake news” to discredit critical media outlets is part of a massive disinformation campaign designed to undermine investigative journalism, eyewitness news, fact-based analysis, reason, evidence, and any knowledge-based standard of judgment.

Nothing will change unless people begin to take seriously the deeply rooted structural, cultural, and subjective underpinnings of oppression in the United States and what it might require to make such issues meaningful, in both personal and collective ways, in order to make them critical and transformative. This is fundamentally a pedagogical as well as a political concern. As Charles Derber has explained, knowing “how to express possibilities and convey them authentically and persuasively seems crucially important” if any viable form of resistance is to take shape. Trumpism normalizes official falsehoods, intolerance, violence, and pro-fascist social manifestations. Taken as a whole, these conditions do not simply repress independent thought, but constitute their own mode of indoctrinated perceptions that are reinforced through a diverse set of cultural apparatuses ranging from local gun clubs and hate groups to corporate media such as Fox News and online commercial operations like Infowars and Breitbart News.”

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Note: Everything Giroux notes in the book regarding Trump’s proto-fascist actions and presentations continues unabated today, as do attempts to normalize his continuing efforts to destroy democratic policies and traditions built into the American dream. – {Ed}

On belief

be·lieve
/bəˈlēv/

verb1. to accept (something) as true; feel sure of the truth of, or hold (something) as an opinion, think or suppose

The definition of belief makes no reference to objective truth, physical proof, or plausible reality. With that in mind, let’s list some of the beliefs held by a select number of Americans. Continue reading On belief

Labor theory of value revisited

Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez’s tweet about workers being paid ‘less than the value they create’ is essentially a restatement of Marx’s Labour Theory of Value — here’s why that’s interesting

AOC Ivanka
Rep. Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez slammed Ivanka Trump on Twitter for not understanding how wages work.
 Hollis Johnson / Business Insider; Win McNamee / Getty Images

 

Recession Watch Banner

  • Last month, Rep. Alexandra Ocasio-Cortez tweeted, “Workers are often paid far less than the value they create.”
  • That is essentially a restatement of Karl Marx’s Labour Theory of Value, which suggests that economies run into trouble when workers can’t afford to buy the products they’re making.
  • Investment-bank analysts at Citi, HSBC, and Macquarie are worrying over the same issue.
  • There are so few rich people and so many people sharing a declining portion of wealth that the next recession might actually be exacerbated by the inequality that low pay has created, these analysts argued.
  • You can’t successfully run an economy based on the spending power of a tiny number of rich people.

Late last month, US Rep. Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez tweeted a criticism of Ivanka Trump, who had said she is against the idea of a guaranteed minimum wage because she doesn’t “think most Americans, in their heart, want to be given something.”

“People want to work for what they get,” Trump said. “So I think this idea of a guaranteed minimum is not something most people want.”

Ocasio-Cortez responded: “A living wage isn’t a gift, it’s a right. Workers are often paid far less than the value they create.”

That caught my eye because it is essentially a restatement of Karl Marx’s Labour Theory of Value, and it’s not often you see that discussed in the mainstream media. Continue reading Labor theory of value revisited

Lost in TrumpWorld

War in the Shadows (of You Know Who)
By Andrew Bacevich
The news, however defined, always contains a fair amount of pap. Since Donald Trump’s ascent to the presidency, however, the trivia quotient in the average American’s daily newsfeed has grown like so many toadstools in a compost heap, overshadowing or crowding out matters of real substance. We’re living in TrumpWorld, folks. Never in the history of journalism have so many reporters, editors, and pundits expended so much energy fixating on one particular target, while other larger prey frolic unmolested within sight.As diversion or entertainment — or as a way to make a buck or win 15 seconds of fame — this development is not without value. Yet the overall impact on our democracy is problematic. It’s as if all the nation’s sportswriters obsessed 24/7 about beating New England Patriots coach Bill Belichick.

In TrumpWorld, journalistic importance now correlates with relevance to the ongoing saga of Donald J. Trump. To members of the mainstream media (Fox News, of course, excepted), that saga centers on efforts to oust the president from office before he destroys the Republic or blows up the planet.

Let me stipulate for the record: this cause is not entirely meritless. Yet to willingly embrace such a perspective is to forfeit situational awareness bigly. All that ends up mattering are the latest rumors, hints, signs, or sure-fire indicators that The Day of Reckoning approaches. Meanwhile, the president’s own tweets, ill-tempered remarks, and outlandish decisions each serve as a reminder that the moment when he becomes an ex-president can’t arrive too soon. Continue reading Lost in TrumpWorld

#makingGeorgiaspecial

According to today’s AJC the Georgia Legislature continues to prove it’s fealty to a tiny portion of the electorate combined with its opposition to anything of value for the majority of citizens.  Cases in point:

a) https://www.ajc.com/news/state–regional-govt–politics/georgia-governor-backs-heartbeat-bill-restricting-abortions/DWJjCBBYaqlQOvZM98VJxL/

b) https://www.ajc.com/news/state–regional-govt–politics/georgia-senate-approves-state-takeover-atlanta-airport/cdmw3h2DkbEuIXugpNWZ8M/

c) https://www.ajc.com/news/state–regional-education/georgia-senate-approves-tim-tebow-act-for-home-schooled-students/368Yd1QO46hIGFVjwtkDpL/

Combined with the horror show coming from D.C., and State legislative bodies in Utah, Alabama, North Carolina, and Oklahoma a reasonable person could conclude we need a massive redo of our political system.

There is not one of the elected politicians who “represent” my interests in Georgia who is close to being for “We The People”…rather they are for “the corporate interests”, “the religious lobby”, “the white nationalists”, “the Back to Mayberry Crowd”, “The Good Old Boy Network”, and “The Old South Doppelgangers”

Glenn Greenwald on the Ilhan “controversy”

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“This is all so ridiculous. It’s all based upon this demand that we indulge what everybody knows is an utter and complete fiction, which is that we’re allowed to talk about the power of the NRA in Washington, we’re allowed to talk about the power of the Saudis in Washington, we’re allowed to talk about the power of big pharmaceutical companies and Wall Street and Silicon Valley and the fossil fuel industry in Washington, but we’re not allowed to talk about an equally potent, well-organized and well-financed lobby that ensures a bipartisan consensus in support of U.S. defense of Israel, that the minute that you mention that lobby, you get attacked as being anti-Semitic, which is what happened to Congresswoman Omar.
 
And I think the context here is really important. For a long time, the bipartisan piety was not just that the U.S. has to support Israel, but that, in particular, the effort to boycott Israel in protest of its occupation of Palestine is not just misguided, but anti-Semitic. That’s the official position of the Democratic Party, of Hillary Clinton, of Chuck Schumer, of every leading Democrat.
 
And now, suddenly, you have these two really exciting, dynamic, charismatic women of color newly elected to Congress, the first two Muslim women elected to Congress, who both are supporters of the boycott of Israel, which the Democratic Party says is bigotry and anti-Semitism, and it’s created this very awkward moment.
 
So, of course, the minute two Muslim women arrive in Congress, they’re going to get attacked as anti-Semitic if they’re critical of Israel, which they are, just like Keith Ellison, the first Muslim ever elected to Congress, got vilified as being an anti-Semite by Haim Saban, the billionaire funder of the Democratic Party, when Ellison tried to be the chairman of the DNC.
 
What the congresswoman said is very uncontroversial. Everyone knows AIPAC is an extremely intimidating lobby, just like the NRA is. There’s nothing wrong with pointing that out. There’s certainly nothing anti-Semitic about saying that, about criticizing the Israeli government for its aggression and militarism. And anybody who cares about Palestinians and about the ability of Muslims in the United States to be able to speak freely ought to be defending her. Continue reading Glenn Greenwald on the Ilhan “controversy”

FYI: Bankruptcy

Continuing the exposition on the perfidy of many of our socio-economic “sacred cows” – this one is about bankruptcy

by Richard @ Flexible Reality: Mar. 3rd, 2019

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The Federal bankruptcy law was first passed in 1841-43, and amended several times since then. The Bankruptcy Abuse Prevention and Consumer Protection Act of 2005 was the first to institute a “means test” among other “creditor friendly” provisions.

However, according to a 2009 study, 62.1 percent of all bankruptcies were due to medical bills, In 2015, the Kaiser Family Foundation found that medical bills made 1 million adults declare bankruptcy that year.

But there are a multitude of issues with a Chapter 7 filing, including the possibility you could forfeit your home or possessions to pay outstanding debt. In addition, a bankruptcy itself costs from $1,500 -$3,000 and the discharge stays on your record for 10 years. You may not be able to rent an apartment, get an auto loan, or buy a home. Some employers would reject your job application for that reason. Continue reading FYI: Bankruptcy

The psychology of social class – excerpts

The psychology of social class:
How socioeconomic status impacts thought, feelings, and behavior
by Antony S. R. Manstead
https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC5901394/

Abstract
Drawing on recent research on the psychology of social class, I argue that the material conditions in which people grow up and live have a lasting impact on their personal and social identities and that this influences both the way they think and feel about their social environment and key aspects of their social behavior. Continue reading The psychology of social class – excerpts

Socioeconomic status determinants and adaptation – (full article)

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This Article For Authors Learn More Submit
The British Journal of Social Psychology
. 2018 Apr; 57(2): 267–291.
Published online 2018 Feb 28. doi: 10.1111/bjso.12251
PMCID: PMC5901394
PMID: 29492984

The psychology of social class: How socioeconomic status impacts thought, feelings, and behaviour

Abstract

Drawing on recent research on the psychology of social class, I argue that the material conditions in which people grow up and live have a lasting impact on their personal and social identities and that this influences both the way they think and feel about their social environment and key aspects of their social behaviour. Relative to middle‐class counterparts, lower/working‐class individuals are less likely to define themselves in terms of their socioeconomic status and are more likely to have interdependent self‐concepts; they are also more inclined to explain social events in situational terms, as a result of having a lower sense of personal control. Working‐class people score higher on measures of empathy and are more likely to help others in distress. The widely held view that working‐class individuals are more prejudiced towards immigrants and ethnic minorities is shown to be a function of economic threat, in that highly educated people also express prejudice towards these groups when the latter are described as highly educated and therefore pose an economic threat. The fact that middle‐class norms of independence prevail in universities and prestigious workplaces makes working‐class people less likely to apply for positions in such institutions, less likely to be selected and less likely to stay if selected. In other words, social class differences in identity, cognition, feelings, and behaviour make it less likely that working‐class individuals can benefit from educational and occupational opportunities to improve their material circumstances. This means that redistributive policies are needed to break the cycle of deprivation that limits opportunities and threatens social cohesion. Continue reading Socioeconomic status determinants and adaptation – (full article)

Do not underestimate the dangers

Note: From the House Oversight Committee hearing Feb. 27th, 2019 in testimony by Michael Cohen he was asked what his fears are, and first he said the health and welfare of himself and his family from retaliation by entities connected to trump; but the segment after that was the most chilling.

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Michael Cohen Warns: If Donald Trump Loses In 2020, There Will Never Be Peaceful Transition

…one could also rightfully suggest that whether he wins or loses it will be a perilous time for our democracy!

Don’t underestimate the dangers !!!

Daddy Issues Revisited

PAPA PAINS: Signs You May Have “Daddy Issues”

June 16, 2012  |  

I’m sure we’ve all heard the term “Daddy’s Girl” – you know…that “Princess” who was spoiled rotten by her father and has him wrapped around her little finger. Most women fortunate enough to have a special relationship with their father wear that title as a badge of honor.

But for others who weren’t as fortunate, they carry a different badge that reads: “Daddy Issues.” They say a woman has “daddy issues” when her behavior or mindset indicates that her father was either absent in her life completely, or physically present but emotionally unavailable.

These issues can plague a young girl into adulthood, especially if she’s trying to compensate for the attention she may not have received from her father in her relationships. While a woman may seem to have it all together at first glance, there are certain characteristics women with daddy issues display – and if you’re not sure, the following may be a few of the signs. Continue reading Daddy Issues Revisited

A conversation about taxation

Image may contain: meme, text that says 'Arguing on the internet is like competing in the Special Olympics Even if you win, you're still retarded'

A conversation on FB about levying a tax on all visitors to America led me to this rebuttal, which details the problem discussing almost anything online.
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The commentator wrote:

In 2012, I started contacting my Senator Johnny Isakson’s office about a revenue-generating idea I had to help defray the costs of Homeland Security. In a nutshell, I proposed that every NON US CITIZEN attempting to legally enter this country by foot, car, truck, train, plane or ship be required to pay a $100 security processing entry fee. For most, it could easily be built into the price of a plane, train or ship ticket. This multi-billion dollar revenue generator would have cost US taxpayers virtually nothing to implement and would have offset much of the cost of our border security. After months of no answers, and repeated written and phone re-requests, this is the answer I got from his office. I never once mentioned “immigration” in my messages to him. I have also included my final correspondence to him which, needless to say, never received a response.

To which I replied – well let’s see – in 2016, there were around 75.9 million international visitors to the U.S. If instead of a visitor tax we could have a FTT, “Financial Transaction Tax” which charges a fee of 0.01% of the value to transfers of stocks, bonds, etc. A well-designed financial transaction tax (FTT)—is a small levy placed on the sale of stocks, bonds, derivatives, and other investments—would be an efficient and progressive way to generate tax revenues. Gross revenues from a well-designed FTT would likely range from $110 billion to $403 billion. A levy on visitors would affect 76 million people per year, while the TFF would affect at most several thousand investors. While the FTT would be a BENEFIT to society by slowing down the frequency of trades and encouraging longer-term investing, the visitor levy would have ZERO positive effect on society. Continue reading A conversation about taxation

The hazards of pot

Ocean Plastics

Into the depths

Posted by 

This article originally appeared in the December 2018 issue of Resource Recycling. Subscribe today for access to all print content.

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For well over a decade, there has been a steady stream of information and concern over the plastic gyres and marine debris in the ocean.

But the issue took a significant turn in 2015. That’s when the academic journal Science published Jenna Jambeck’s seminal paper “Plastic Waste Inputs from Land into the Ocean,” which quantified the amount of plastic leaking to the environment from countries around the world.

Among other findings, the research team concluded that 80 percent of marine debris plastics come from land and that one of the primary mechanisms contributing to plastic in the environment is mismanaged waste.

As this article will lay out, since Jambeck’s publication, a wide range of actors have made significant commitments and organized themselves to push for improvements. And many of the actions have included priorities tied to plastic recycling – either through boosting use of recycled resin or setting goals for higher recovery rates.

However, real progress on a global problem calls for real buy-in from all global players and nations. Much of the world is coming together to combat an issue that threatens the seafood chain (the source of protein for more than a billion people) and a wider marine economy worth hundreds of billions of dollars to nations around the globe. Unfortunately, the reality now is that the collaborative work being put forth could be advanced faster if not for the apathy of one key stakeholder: the U.S. government. Continue reading Ocean Plastics

Trump is Captain Dirgo

Which Star Trek captain is Trump most like?

He is like Captain Dirgo, from Star Trek: The Next Generation’s “Final Mission.” (Ep. 4×09)

Dirgo was a shuttle captain with delusions of grandeur that outpaced his ability or intelligence. He was incompetent at his job, smugly believing his skills to be greater than they were, with no basis in reality.

And, much like Trump, he didn’t even know how to shake hands properly.

He was childishly defensive any time someone seemed to cast aspersions on him or his ship, yet his custom thruster configuration on his shuttle, which he declared to be “more efficient,” failed minutes after leaving dock, causing it to crash. He doubted Captain Picard’s toughness, but ultimately only survived the thruster failure because Captain Picard and Wesley Crusher were on hand to assist in landing on a nearby moon.

He was completely unprepared, without any emergency food or water in his ship, much like Donald Trump’s completely lack of preparation when he took the office of President. No healthcare plan, no immigration reform plan, no military plan, no foreign policy plan, etc…

Further, Dirgo lied when it benefited him, selfishly hiding supplies from the others in a survival situation. Trump also lies habitually, always looking out for his own best interest and image.

But his greatest similarity to Donald Trump is that Dirgo made decisions based on his gut instinct rather than any evidence or science. Here, he runs headfirst into an alien barrier protecting a water source.

He never thought things through, acting impatiently with a “shoot first, ask questions later” mentality, even when warned repeatedly. Here he is, idiotically firing on the water barrier without even so much as scanning the thing.

He refused to take responsibility for the consequences of his foolhardy actions, even when they hurt other people, as Picard was when Dirgo caused a cave-in from his phaser fire.

Even after failure, he stubbornly continued to use the same methods, endangering those around him. One phaser didn’t work? Let’s try two! Moron.

Much like Trump, Dirgo is a creature of pure Id, acting completely out of whim, fear and pettiness. And most significantly, a deeply-seated sense of insecurity. Both men are prime examples of overcompensation.

And while Trump’s eventual prison won’t be a crystalline cocoon, the way this Russia investigation is going, it’s sure to be uncomfortable, whether literally or figuratively.

SHTF Moment Arriving Shortly

Crisis? What Crisis?

Posted: 14 Feb 2019 10:40 PM PST

The government’s refusal to respond to our democratic emergency is one symptom of systemic political failure

By George Monbiot, published in the Guardian 13th February 2019

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Modern governments respond to only two varieties of emergency: those whose solution is bombs and bullets, and those whose solution is bailouts for the banks. If they took other threats as seriously, this week’s revelations of a catastrophic collapse in insect populations, jeopardizing all terrestrial life, would prompt the equivalent of an emergency meeting of the UN Security Council. The escalating disasters of climate breakdown and soil loss would trigger spending at least as great as the quantitative easing following the financial crisis. Instead, they carry on as if nothing is amiss.

The same goes for the democratic emergency. Almost everywhere, trust in governments, parliaments, and elections is collapsing. Shared civic life is replaced by closed social circles that receive entirely different and often false information. The widespread sense that politics has become so corrupted that it can no longer respond to ordinary people’s needs has provoked a demagogic backlash that in some countries begins to slide into fascism. But despite years of shocking revelations about hidden spending, fake news, front groups and micro-targeted ads on social media, almost nothing has changed.

In Britain, for example, we now know that the EU referendum was won with the help of widespread cheating. We still don’t know the origins of much of the money spent by the leave campaigns. For example, we have no idea who provided the 435,000 channeled through Scotland, into Northern Ireland, through the coffers of the Democratic Unionist Party and back into Scotland and England, to pay for pro-Brexit ads. Nor do we know the original source of the 8 million that Arron Banks delivered to Leave .eu. We do know that both of the main leave campaigns have been fined for illegal activities and that the conduct of the referendum has damaged many people’s faith in the political system. But, astonishingly, the government has so far failed to introduce a single new law in response to these revelations. And now it’s happening again. Continue reading SHTF Moment Arriving Shortly

A Brit looks at trump

by Terry Casey on Facebook

February 10 at 12:39 PM
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Someone on Quora asked “Why do some British people not like Donald Trump?” Nate White, an articulate and witty writer from England wrote this magnificent response.

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A few things spring to mind.

Trump lacks certain qualities which the British traditionally esteem.

For instance, he has no class, no charm, no coolness, no credibility, no compassion, no wit, no warmth, no wisdom, no subtlety, no sensitivity, no self-awareness, no humility, no honour and no grace – all qualities, funnily enough, with which his predecessor Mr. Obama was generously blessed.

So for us, the stark contrast does rather throw Trump’s limitations into embarrassingly sharp relief.

Plus, we like a laugh. And while Trump may be laughable, he has never once said anything wry, witty or even faintly amusing – not once, ever.

I don’t say that rhetorically, I mean it quite literally: not once, not ever. And that fact is particularly disturbing to the British sensibility – for us, to lack humour is almost inhuman.

But with Trump, it’s a fact. He doesn’t even seem to understand what a joke is – his idea of a joke is a crass comment, an illiterate insult, a casual act of cruelty.

Trump is a troll. And like all trolls, he is never funny and he never laughs; he only crows or jeers.

And scarily, he doesn’t just talk in crude, witless insults – he actually thinks in them. His mind is a simple bot-like algorithm of petty prejudices and knee-jerk nastiness.

There is never any under-layer of irony, complexity, nuance or depth. It’s all surface. Continue reading A Brit looks at trump