Monday, 18th January, 2021

[Day 308]

We were a little delayed this morning because we had an call from Meg’s support group and this took about an hour of our time that we were not expecting. Eventually, though, we got going but as we were a little delayed, we decided to vary our routine somewhat. I left Meg in the park chatting with our new ex-Birmingham University friend whilst I made haste rapidly to collect our newspapers. Then I rejoined our little meeting in the park and we chatted until the chill got to our bones a little and we decided to call it a day and make for home. Then we had a rather delayed lunch which we threw together (life being made a little easier as we had cooked our joint yesterday so all we had to do was to heat up some slices of the joint and then prepare some vegetables)

I have just given myself an amusing few minutes as I read that someone on Sky News has worked out that Donald Trump published 57,000 ‘tweets’ in ten years and has collected together some of the more outrageous of them. Here is but one to give you an idea of the flavour of some of them. Donald Trump is arguing that he possesses a tremendously high IQ and so he tweeted: ‘Sorry losers and haters, but my I.Q. is one of the highest – and you all know it! Please don’t feel so stupid or insecure, it’s not your fault’ But on a slightly more serious note, the esteemed Washington Post decided some time ago to establish a database of all of the lies that Donald Trump had ever told (while in post) The newspaper identified what they called a ‘tsunami’ of lies emanating from the Oval Office. The paper’s fact-checker reveals that on 9th July last year, when 62 false claims were made in one day alone, the total reached 20,000. Many of these came in interviews with Fox News (the incredibly right wing news channel which was Trump’s favourite but which ‘dumped’ him before the end of the presidential election campaign) The column also noted that Trump had expressed 1,200 lies about the pandemic alone. On this topic, there is now a plethora of concern about the legacy of a president who had lied so extensively and repeatedly about almost everything. Matt Frei, the respected TV correspondent for Channel4 News, posted an extremely thoughtful piece on the Channel4 news today about the dangers of the Trump election campaigns and presidency to American democracy. What is self evident to us now is that every little item of news that was remotely favourable to the presidency was lauded and magnified massively through the right wing channels. However, anything that was critical of Trump (of which there was a lot) was immediately labelled as ‘fake news’ as though it had been entirely made up. The really interesting question for commentators and observers is the fact that some 70 million of Americans were either persuaded that the so-called ‘fake news’ actually WAS fake, or that they know they were being lied to but did not really care as long as he stood up for ‘us’ (us being the downwardly mobile, trapped white working class population in the main). What we shall see in the next few weeks in court houses in USA (or at least in Washington DC) is what the courts will make of the excuses given by the rioters when they are eventually charged and they claim in defence that they had the ‘honest belief’ that their country was in danger because a ‘stolen’ election and they ere only acting out what they believe the president wanted them to do to save the country from ‘danger’ What is undoubtedly true is that the FBI and other law enforcement agencies have defined the internal dangers to the USA as coming from the left and the ‘Black Lives Matter’ movement and not from the racist, white-supremacist Trump supporters which is where the violence has actually emanated. We shall see!

I thought I would end on some really depressing news, for a change. An Oxford University research platform has recently computed that the UK death rate, expressed as 16.5 deaths per million of population, is actually in the highest in the world. Of course, we must hasten to point out that some countries will more readily put COVID-19 on a death certificate than others and hence world-wide statistics may be somewhat misleading. However, they will not be massively wrong – the USA death rate is about 10.0 per million which is about two-thirds of the UK rate. It is by now quite a commonly known fact that the British Army was seriously worried by the abject state of physical health of many of the young men called up to fight in the First World War – I have read a figure that as many as 40% were rejected on medical grounds but I suspect that as the Army got more and more desperate for manpower the minimum physical requirements were ‘tweaked’. It may well be that when (if?) we have an official enquiry into the UK’s preparedness for the pandemic that a similar moment occurs to the more thoughtful members of the British elite that more than a decade of Tory austerity has seriously weakened the ‘body politic’ i.e. the ability of the population as a whole to withstand a pandemic.