The reign in Spain – and elsewhere

Most people suffer from a touch of solipsism when observing political events in other countries, especially those close to their own.

Did he come back as Vox?

We look at the riots in France, the influx of millions of Muslims into Germany or – more to my today’s point – the elections in Spain and take a daring mental leap from those countries to Britain, looking for parallels.

However, besides the common civilisational thread tying all Western countries together, each has its own particular history, culture and political idiosyncrasies.

Alas, few of us possess enough experience, knowledge and sensitivity to appreciate fully such subtle differences. Instead we look for obvious similarities, trying on foreign clothes to see if they fit our own body politic.

Other countries become a prism through which we look at our own, and it’s in that spirit that I followed the elections in Spain.

Briefly, although Spain’s governing Socialists won the snap election, they didn’t win a majority and will have to seek coalition partners, probably in parties to their left.

One would think that although the conservative Popular Party lost half of its seats, it would still be a better partner. But PP is at odds with the Socialists on the issue of Catalan independence, which it opposes. 

Yet the most interesting result is the success of Vox, a party that’s variously described as populist, extreme right-wing or Francoist. Since Franco’s death in 1975, the party has only once gained a parliamentary seat. This time it won 24 of them.

This may be a reflection of a growing trend. Parties similar to Vox are gaining a greater share of voice, and increasingly of vote, throughout Europe.

I manfully accept the charge of ignorance when it comes to the ins and outs of Spain’s politics. This even though I once had too much Rioja Alta at lunch in Madrid and joined a massive demonstration against the Socialist government that had just set some ETA terrorists free.

However, my fellow demonstrators detected a note of mockery in my heavily accented shouts of “¡No mas concesiones a ETA!” and “¡Viva España!”. They began to look peeved, and Penelope had to drag me away to safety before my drunken enthusiasm got us killed.

In a similarly lubricated outburst I also once screamed “¡Viva Generalissimo Franco!” when driving through a largely communist crowd in Barcelona, but there I was sober enough to floor the accelerator pedal in good time.

However, this experience doesn’t qualify me to attempt a scholarly analysis of Spain’s politics. Hence I look at Vox and wonder whether I’d vote for a similar party in Britain.

All I have to go by are newspaper reports listing the key planks of Vox’s programme. Scanning them I mentally tick those with which I agree.

From what I can glean, Vox opposes: multiculturalism [tick], unrestricted migration [tick], radical feminism [tick], abortion [tick], homomarriage [tick], laws against gender violence [tick, whatever that means], any concessions to the Catalan and Basque secessionists [tick, a more tentative one].

So, seeing that I endorse Vox’s programme, would I have voted for it if I were Spanish? More important, would I vote for a similar party in Britain if one existed? The answer to that question is a resolute “that depends”.

I’m wary of politicians, parties or groups that define themselves negatively, in terms of things they hate, rather than things they love. And if the thing they love is blood and soil nationalism, I’m even more wary.

Judging by Vox’s opposition to homomarriage and especially abortion, it combines some Christian inputs with its neoliberal economic ideas and a traditional liberal support for a powerful central state.

That suggests some intellectual muddle for there’s more to Christian politics than just opposition to abortion and homomarriage. One constituent is a preference for localism over centralism and a lukewarm attitude to neoliberal economics, particularly when it’s raised to the status of a social and moral panacea.

At least a Christian element is present there, whereas none exists in similar British groups. These are crystal clear on things they hate, typically the EU and Muslim immigration, and disconcertingly hazy on things they love.

That’s hardly surprising because such causes bring under their banners not only conservatives like my friends and me, who see them in a broad cultural, social and political context, but also fascisoid thugs like Tommy Robinson who simply detest foreigners, especially chromatically different ones.

I’d love to see, say, UKIP become a real conservative party, supplanting the one that bears this sobriquet though it’s no longer entitled to it. But that’s impossible even in theory, for UKIP draws its support from groups across the whole spectrum that otherwise have nothing in common.

History shows that, when conservative gentlemen and fascisoid thugs form a single party, eventually the latter oust the former. Thus, if either UKIP or the Brexit party ever gains an electoral victory, it’ll be taken over by the Tommy Robinson types, not someone like Gerard Batten or even that friend of Putin Nigel Farage.

Such a prospect terrifies me almost as much as the more likely victory of Corbyn’s Labour. Almost but not quite. I’m a firm believer in the ad hoc political principle of ABC: Anyone But Corbyn.

Hence I’d vote against Corbyn regardless of whom he were up against. For the same reason, I wouldn’t vote for any marginal party just to register my contempt for the Tories: the contempt is strong, but such a vote could let Corbyn in. So I’d pinch my nostrils and vote Tory.

Similarly, I’d vote for the Tories if they were opposed by any party led by the likes of Tommy Robinson. And if I were Spanish… well, in all honesty I don’t know enough about Spain’s politics to have a strong view.

I like Vox’s programme more than any other on offer, but countries aren’t governed by programmes. They are governed by people who most of them use political programmes to gain power. How they’ll act when they’ve gained it is anybody’s guess.

It all comes down to the situation common to all mature, or rather senescent, democracies: people vote not for but against. They support what they see as the lesser of two evils because they are faced with the evil of two lessers.

It’s useful to remember that, while not all populist parties are fascist, all fascist parties are populist, and it’s sometimes hard to tell the difference when they’re out of power. And when they are in power, it’s sometimes too late.

On historical evidence, we must also beware of single-issue politicians – even if we agree with the single issue. Thus I’m deeply concerned about the Islamisation of Europe, but I hope this cause may be championed by conservatives, not fascisoid thugs.

If you detect a note of relativism in all this, you’re right. But the relativism isn’t mine – it’s the effluvia exuded by modern politics. Much as we’d like to breathe a cleaner political air, it doesn’t exist.

When Vlad Put-in met Kim Jong-un

When a Duma delegation recently visited North Korea, one of its members jubilantly announced: “We are kindred souls!”

Thick as thieves

He meant that the kinship is based on both countries suffering under the yoke of sanctions, all completely undeserved. But the meeting between Vlad and Kim in Vladivostok the other day established other reasons for the two rogue regimes to feel close affinity.

They are fused together by their shared reliance on nuclear threats as a way of staying in power. That scarecrow adorns their field in which nothing grows, other than the weeds of a pampered nomenklatura blowing billions on assorted monuments to bad taste around the world.

Other than that, North Koreans are starving, as are the Russians, albeit so far on a smaller scale. Things like indoor plumbing are beyond the reach of some 20 per cent of them, and I bet that proportion is much higher in Kim’s bailiwick.

In any normal country such leaders would be ousted, and in any subnormal country probably also Ceaușescued, Saddamed or, if you’d rather, Gaddafied. Obviously, no such normal or subnormal outcomes appeal to Vlad and Kim.

Both are casting envious glances at China, a country occupying a position between North Korea and Russia on the dictatorship scale. China is marginally less oppressive than the former and marginally more so than the latter, but with one crucial difference.

China took to heart the old saw “if you can’t beat them, join them – and beat them at their own game”. Her murderous dictators are relying on the West’s own institutions to gain respectability first and dominance second – and not a particularly distant second at that.

Using China’s traditional business acumen and her unlimited supply of cheap, practically slave, labour, the Peking tyrants flood the West with goods and finance, gradually moving in to colonise parts of Africa, Asia and Latin America – and threatening to do the same to Europe.

In the past 10 years, China has invested $318 billion in European assets, including some strategic industries. But that’s only on the surface. Underneath the surface are 355 mergers and joint ventures for which no terms were disclosed.

A nation counting 1,000-year eggs among its culinary delights isn’t short of patience. The Chinese will continue to buy Europe bit by bit until they find themselves in a position to dictate terms.

Their nuclear weapons are there mainly to discourage any rash countermeasures, and also possibly to make it easier to conquer Taiwan when the time comes. For the time being China doesn’t need to threaten anyone directly – she’s doing fine as it is.

The Chinese option is off limits even for Russia, never mind North Korea, which has no money to buy foreign industries. Conversely, Vlad and his gang are awash with purloined cash, and they’ve probably laundered more of it in the West than the Chinese have invested.

But therein lies the key difference: the Chinese invest; the Russians launder. Once it’s scrubbed clean, the money is used to create a philistine paradise complete with yachts, palaces and expensive whores (not just those of the sexual variety – some politicians and hacks also reach out for Vlad’s rouble).

Yet one thing Vlad and his gang can’t buy with their loot is respect. They do however know that fear is a reasonable substitute. Kim knows it too, and the two evil regimes overlap on the common denominator of hysterical nuclear threats.

Vlad rattles his big bombs to persuade Western leaders that no serious problem anywhere in the world can be solved without his participation. That strategy succeeded in Syria, with Trump’s acquiescence. In fact, his eagerness to give Putin a foothold in the Middle East adds fuel to the burning questions that the Mueller report has failed to answer.

Since other Western countries are sometimes more recalcitrant, it never hurts to remind them – as Putin’s Goebbelses do round the clock – that they could be turned to radioactive dust at the push of a button.

North Korea can’t have such global ambitions; hers are strictly regional. The countries Kim wants to keep in perpetual fear are Japan and especially South Korea, which has had the audacity to use the same people and geographic conditions to create a thriving economy, while Koreans north of the border are undernourished if they are lucky or starved to death if they are not.

China, which accounts for 90 per cent of North Korea’s trade, could put an end to Kim and all his nuclear games in one fell swoop. But she doesn’t want to: Kim can be used as the bad cop to keep China’s Asian competitors on the straight and narrow.

Vlad is using Kim for the same purpose, with the added benefit of keeping America nervous. And nervous America is, as any person would be facing a madman brandishing a razor. That’s why Trump keeps making overtures to Kim, trying to sweet-talk him into abandoning his nuclear arsenal.

Kim won’t, however; and Vlad certainly doesn’t want him to. “Denuclearisation can only happen gradually,” he explained. However, Vlad failed to define gradually in any temporal terms. How gradually are we talking, Vlad? A year? A hundred? When hell freezes over?

Actually, added Vlad, for it to happen even on such a nebulous time scale, “North Korea needs guarantees.” Of what exactly?

That no Western country is planning an attack on North Korea? Fine. Though I’m not authorised to speak on any Western government’s behalf, I’m prepared to issue this ironclad guarantee now: Neither the US nor Britain nor France is going to launch a nuclear strike on North Korea if Kim gets rid of his nukes.

Western countries can only ever attack North Korea or, for that matter, Russia in the same sense in which back in 1939 Poland attacked Nazi Germany, and Finland the USSR.

On 31 August, Germans wearing Polish uniforms attacked the radio station at the border town of Gleiwitz. When the next day Germany launched a massive offensive against Poland, it was portrayed as a defensive response to Polish aggression.

On 26 November, the Soviets shelled their own outpost at Mainila on the border with Finland. The shelling was used as a pretext to start an aggressive war against that tiny country – the Soviet Union had to defend itself against the dastardly Finns.

Neither Put-in nor Jong-un will stay in power unless they whip up a state of paranoia at home and fear abroad. Like a thief shouting “Stop thief!” louder than the pursuing crowd, both criminal regimes keep whining about the threat of an imminent attack from the West, hoping that way to stay in power and perhaps even to win some concessions.

Yes, Vlad and Kim are indeed close friends – with both desperately short of any other. In fact, when the UN introduced a resolution condemning Russia’s theft of the Crimea, North Korea was one of only ten countries (other than Russia herself) that voted against.

The others were Armenia, Belarus, Bolivia, Cuba, Nicaragua, Sudan, Syria, Venezuela and Zimbabwe. Well, tell me who your friends are…

P.S. Happy Easter to all my Orthodox readers! Христос воскрес!

We’re leading the rest of the EU combined

In these days of Brexit chaos, things to make us proud are hard to come by. So much more precious then are the recent data showing that we can at least be proud of our leadership in an area not normally associated with Britain: romance.

Love is in the air…

Continentals, especially those in the bottom half of Europe, always brag about their passionate virility, while mocking the British for their cold, calculating rationalism devoid of any romantic impulse.

Napoleon even went so far as to describe the British as “a nation of shopkeepers”. A nation of shoplifters would be closer to the mark nowadays, but that’s not the point.

The point is that it’s time to abandon the stale, false image of Britain and her people. For it’s precisely in the area of romance that Blighty comfortably leads the way.

Our pupils may lag behind continentals in literacy and numeracy exams, but British youngsters outperform them by a wide margin in pregnancy tests. And, as we’ve just found out, Britain accounts for 55 per cent of all gonorrhoea cases in Europe. So who says romance is dead in perfidious Albion?

Actually, the technical term ‘gonorrhoea’ rather takes the romance out of it, making the condition sound undesirable, perhaps even shameful. However, as Dr Mark Lawton, a sexual health consultant in Liverpool, correctly states, “Shame is not a word that should ever be associated with sexually transmitted infections.”

Hear, hear. In fact, rather than stigmatising gonorrhoea, we should applaud it – hence the nice, warm colloquial name for it, the clap.

For that survey shows that Britons are more capable of love, broadly defined, than anyone else in Europe. It’s people refusing to describe as love a quick tumble in the dark alley behind the pub who should be ashamed of themselves. What matters isn’t the duration of a romance, but it’s sincerity and intensity.

Even more despicable is an attempt to ascribe our record-breaking incidence of the clap to an underuse of condoms during romantic entanglements. Well, at least there aren’t many spoilsports about who blame sexual promiscuity and the general decline in moral standards. Thank God, who everybody knows doesn’t exist, for small favours.

Such archaic notions were rightly jettisoned long ago – people my age remember them sailing out of the window back in the ‘60s. In fact, we were the ones who pushed them that way. And as to using condoms, that’s like smelling a rose through a gas mask.

It’s not as if young Britons aren’t aware of condoms and their use. Why, even kindergarten pupils are taught how to pull a johnny on their pee-pee, when the pee-pee is big enough to be thus enveloped. By the time they reach secondary school, those pupils know all there’s to know about condoms – and reject them for being cold, antiseptic killers of romantic spontaneity.  

Moreover, since clap isn’t exclusively transmitted by the conventional amorous method, many women may balk at having to chew on a bit of impersonal, disembodied latex. No, the clap is caused by romance itself, not by any shortage of its paraphernalia. It’s a tax on love, and as unavoidable as any other taxation.

One must admit – and rejoice! – that modern electronic media make it easier to find the love of one’s life (or perhaps just of an hour in one’s life) than ever before. Things like online dating, chat websites and e-mails put love, and therefore the clap, within easy reach.

The pattern is repeated over and over again. Boy finds girl’s photo on the net. Boy likes what he sees. Boy makes contact. Girl responds favourably. Boy meets girl, say, in the dark alley behind the King’s Head. Boy and girl instantly fall in love. Boy and girl consummate their love with a quick roll in the dirt. Boy and girl introduce themselves (this last step is strictly optional and in fact may be infrequent). After a few days, boy and girl discover they have the clap.

Sweet romance, as they say. In that spirit, I propose the old song “I gave my love a rose…” should be changed to “I gave my love the clap.”

Having written this, I realise how hopelessly behind the times I am by suggesting that it’s the boy who initiates the infectious contact. These days, the girl is just as likely to make the first approach leading to contagion, which is what women’s liberation is all about.

As a lifelong champion of modernity, I hope you’ll join me in a round of clapping applause for our young compatriots who are showing those continentals what’s what.

It’s the British who are the nation of lovers; it’s the British who joyously indulge in public copulation in places like Ibiza – while the locals look on with admiration and envy. Long may it continue.

Now it’s Frexit time

I thought the time would never come.

Pasted all over my Burgundian village are posters demanding Frexit as a way of re-establishing France’s democracy. Another poster claims that a return to the franc would create 1.2 million jobs.

I’m not sure how they put an exact number on this, but there’s no doubt that the euro hurts France economically.

By adopting a currency that’s the Deutschmark in all but name, the French lost the ability to devalue their own currency and therefore compete with German manufacturers on unit price. That means they lost the ability to compete tout court because German cars and fridges are of higher quality.

The posters confirm what I’ve been noticing for quite some time now: the French have problems not just with Manny Macron, but also with the EU – and they correctly detect the umbilical link between the two.

By ‘the French’, I don’t mean my friends educated at the kind of top schools Manny wants to abolish as a sop to the mob: they all worship the EU the way they no longer worship God. The French who detest the EU are mostly regular folk: shop owners, barbers, plumbers, electricians, nurses.

This is where France is different from Britain: we don’t have such a clear-cut class divide between the Leavers and the Remainers.

Our watershed isn’t social but political. Right-leaning people are Leavers almost to a man, whereas the lefties, with some exceptions, tend to be Remainers. Age could also play a role, with a propensity to support Brexit more noticeable among the older, and therefore wiser, people.

But neither class nor education seems to have a big role to play. For example, my educated British friends are almost all Leavers – but then they neither work for the BBC nor frequent fashionable parties.

Perhaps a wider polling sweep than my own observation would show a certain Brexit bias among the B-, C social groups, but, if so, I’m sure the watershed would be nowhere near as wide as in France.

The reason is simple: though all modern states seek to make themselves more centralised and consequently less accountable, they do so to varying degrees in different countries. Thus Anglophone countries retain vestiges of their ancient traditions of localism, with some of the power exerted from bottom to top.

France has never had such traditions, or certainly not since her absolute monarchy came in to suppress feudal liberties. Both her quasi-monarchic state and her positive law tend to operate from top to bottom, which widens the distance between the state and its subjects.

Even local government exists mainly to convey and enforce central diktats, not to enable small communities to govern themselves as they see fit. That makes local government unwieldy and therefore big.

One can see this simply by looking at the size of the mairies in French towns and villages relative to their population. For example, the mairie of my local village in the picture below could probably accommodate all its 1,500 inhabitants.

If this is the town hall, how big is the town?

All this promotes ‘us vs. them’ sentiments, which are more prevalent than in Britain and especially the US.

When things are going swimmingly, the French don’t resent that state of affairs very much, with their latent resentment seething without bursting out. But when the economy is stagnant, as it is now, the situation changes.

France being France, people take to the streets. That explains the increased popularity of that new fashion accessory, the yellow vest. It also explains the growing resentment of the EU that removes government even farther away from the people. More and more Macron and his jolly friends are seen as little more than EU quislings, out of touch with the French.  

Yesterday Manny tried to diffuse the situation by tossing some bones off his royal table towards the masses hungry for his demise. He’s going to reverse, he declared, France’s inherent dirigisme, with much of life directed from central Paris.

Manny clearly felt like saying he’d do so by personal edict, but then became aware of the inherent paradox and checked himself just in time. Instead he promised to make it easier to hold referendums, which promise, if acted upon, is guaranteed to make mob rule irreversible.

There has never existed a major country successfully governed by direct democracy. People elect their representatives and then trust them to govern on their behalf through institutions.

It’s only when the institutions fail to govern wisely and equitably that referendums are waved before the people. A referendum is a government’s tacit admission of its own ineptitude.

A bit of histrionic demagoguery followed, as it always does when modern politicians talk. Help me, pleaded Manny, to “rebuild the art of being French”.

But that art has never been lost, which is precisely the problem here. The art has been pushed underground by France’s rampant statism and its extreme manifestation in EU membership.

The whole point of the EU is to toss dozens of diverse cultures into a cauldron and boil them into a homogeneous mass devoid of any particular flavour and texture. The French don’t need lessons in being French. Many of them simply realise that it’s difficult under the EU aegis.

Sensing that his presidency is hanging by a thread, Manny then tried to mollify the restless populace with a few mea culpas.  

“In a way,” he said, “I imposed on the French the impatience and the demands that I have for myself and members of the government… I regret it. First of all because that is not who I deeply am and because I think that that did not help my cause.”

But that’s exactly what he deeply is, precisely the type of apparatchik produced by modern politics, especially in France. A small group of supposedly clever people imposing their demands on everybody else is the essence of French politics, which just might work after a fashion if those people are indeed genuinely clever – not when they are Manny.

“I must be more human,” added Manny, implicitly admitting that so far he has been rather less than human. For once, I agree.

Is idealism really admirable?

“I admire young Greta’s idealism,” writes Stephen Glover, “but why do our politicians lose all reason over climate change?”

I admire these young men’s idealism, but…

Starting from the second half of his headline, it’s not just politicians and not just over climate change. For reason has been excommunicated as a direct, if protracted, result of the Age of Reason – which was in fact a successful attempt to replace true reason with an ersatz surrogate.

Hence, for example, the strained attempts made over the past couple of centuries to explain human behaviour by anything other than by reason making free and conscious choices between sound and unsound, moral and immoral, good and bad.

The likes of Herbert Spencer and Charles Darwin joined forces with Fraud, Junk and an army of behaviourists to portray man as a puppet whose wires are pulled by forces beyond his control.

The forces may be evolutionary-biological, social or sexual-subconscious or anything else other than man’s own mind. And those exegetes assign to such forces powers that are positively super-divine. God, after all, left man with free will and an ability to make conscious choices based on his own mind and moral sense.

No such weak-kneed liberalism for the apostles of the scientific scam. They preach the notion of a man in bondage to his biological and psychological makeup, only quantitatively different in that respect from animals.

Reason must then be relegated to an inferior status because it makes man too different from beasts for any slapdash theory to survive. None of those evolutionists or psychologists can explain why, while both a man and his dog possess urinary tracts and therefore can relieve themselves on a statue, only man is capable of designing it.

Our anomic, deracinated, ignorant people, shaped by their atheism at best or some diabolical New Age creed at worst, have turned those half-baked theories into self-fulfilling prophecies. Fair enough: keep calling a man a dog, and in due course he’ll start barking.

Hence it’s futile trying to apply rational criteria to an attempt at understanding any serious issue of public import. Things haven’t got to be the way they are because serious people thought the situation through and chose the best way to go.

No, it’s just that some inconsequential yet garrulous people listened to the signals resounding through the atmospheric intellectual vacuum and then let their knees jerk in what they saw as the most promising direction.

People affecting our lives no longer think; they react on reflex. They don’t say things they think true – they say things they feel they have to say for fear of opprobrium. The old dichotomies of right-wrong, true-false, logical-illogical simply don’t come into it.

This takes me back to the first part of Mr Glover’s headline: “I admire young Greta’s idealism, but…”

Now Mr Glover did go out on a limb by voicing some mild, good-natured criticism of Greta Thunberg (not at all like my vituperative attack on that demented, possibly evil child yesterday), along the lines of her being a bit too radical and not sufficiently aware of the economic consequences of her sermons.

That’s commendable, for criticising any climate change activist is these days tantamount to blasphemy, not to say apostasy. A hack guilty of it may well be risking the auto-da-fé of a P45, so Mr Glover gets a B+ for courage.

Alas, he has to be marked down for his use of reason. Why does he admire Greta’s idealism? Does he think any idealism ipso facto worthy of admiration?

What about the idealism of young Muslims who blow themselves up in crowded places? Would Mr Glover write “I admire the idealism of those young Sri Lanka terrorists, but…”?

No? Then how about “I admire Jeremy Corbyn’s idealism, but….” More likely, but still no?

Mr Glover evidently can’t keep his knee from jerking. A reasonable man, he too has been trained not to activate his reason when the buzz of Zeitgeist is in the air. Otherwise he’d realise that idealism is only praise-worthy when the underlying ideal is.

Having made that stride, he could then take another step towards observing that a propensity to idealism seems to be inversely proportionate to the capacity for reason. That’s why the words ‘young’ and ‘idealism’ fit together so snugly.

Until age 25 or so a person’s brain isn’t wired properly, and neither is the person fully plugged into the historical, cultural and intellectual continuum. Gonads act as the dominant organ producing thought, meaning that little thought is produced.

That makes ‘paedocracy’ the most dangerous paedo- word.

We are these days obsessed with paedophilia, but even the most promiscuous of perverts can only harm a relatively small number of people. On the other hand, allowing young idealists to have a say in serious matters, never mind the power to affect them, may well destroy the whole society.

William Golding showed in his Lord of the Flies what happens when the young take over. It’s children’s time, and there are no rules.

Though America’s Founding Fathers seldom draw my unqualified praise, they were wise to the dangers of youthful idealism. That’s why the US Constitution set the lower age limits for public office: 25 for a congressman, 30 for a senator, 35 for a president. They also set the voting age at 21, which was ill-advisedly lowered to 18 in 1971.

We can quibble about the arithmetic (personally I’d add at least 10 years to all those limits and apply them in every Western country), but the underlying principle is unassailable: people like young Greta, with all their youthful enthusiasm, mustn’t be allowed a public voice.

How much better would Mr Glover’s headline be had it started with “I detest young Greta’s idealism, and…” Oh well, wishful thinking.

Never mind the planet – save our sanity

I ought to have known that, when it comes to our politicians, no rock bottom exists. Even if it did, our governors would somehow find an even lower level to which they could sink.

To wit: not only did a minister of the Crown agree to talk to Greta Thunberg, a mentally unstable Swedish girl fanatically spouting voguish rubbish, but – and I swear I’m not making this up – he actually apologised to her for the Industrial Revolution.

Out of curiosity, how did Greta get from Sweden to London? Must have been a Viking boat, for any other form of transportation leaves a carbon footprint

When young Greta told Michael Gove that Britain had accrued “a mind-blowing carbon debt” over the 200 years following the Industrial Revolution, any responsible adult would have told her to stop talking nonsense, take a quick number one and go to bed.

Instead, our Secretary for the Environment said: “As I listened to you I felt great admiration but also a sense of responsibility and guilt because I recognise I am of your parents’ generation. I recognise we have not done nearly enough to deal with the problem of climate change.”

The previous day Greta, all pig tails and the glistening eyes of a dangerous fanatic, addressed Her Majesty’s Parliament. To give you an idea of the general level of her audience, let me remind you that within that august body Mr Gove is seen as a conservative (!) intellectual (!!!).

Hence it’s no surprise that they allowed the disturbed youngster to lecture them on the facts of natural life, most of which aren’t facts but ignorant rants.

“We just want people to listen to the science,” declared the poor girl, without specifying which particular science people ought to listen to.

The implicit claim is that all scientists support Greta’s extravagant claims as absolutely true and universally valid. However, that simply isn’t the case.

In fact, such claims are mainly supported by scientists who receive climate-change grants from the UN and its affiliated institutions. Those who haven’t been blessed by the laying on of UN hands tend to evaluate the issue of anthropogenic global warming more critically.

Actually, we know that some 80 per cent of climate change, one way or the other, is due to solar activity that has nothing to do with anything man does on ‘our planet’. We also know that the graph of global temperature has had peaks and troughs throughout history.

For example, when Julius Caesar conquered the Tin Islands, grapes grew abundantly in Scotland, which suggests a climate somewhat different from what it is now. Yet I don’t think the Scots overindulged in aerosol sprays and air travel.

Also, non-UN scientists have identified the Medieval Warm Period lasting from about 950 to 1250 AD, when global temperatures were higher than they are now, though the carbon footprint was rather lower.

It’s also true that any serious attempt people have ever made to feed and clothe themselves has resulted in some release of heat. This happens, for example, during extensive agriculture, when the soil is turned over.

So I’d like to take this opportunity and apologise to the unhinged girl for the anonymous inventor of the plough all those centuries ago, who unfortunately doesn’t sit in Parliament and thus can’t apologise for himself.

In general, science should be left to scientists. Let those qualified to study such issues in sufficient depth do so, publish results in arcane journals and then get together at conferences and try to reach a consensus.

However, the problem of climate change (they no longer say ‘global warming’, having found out that science invalidates that term) has been taken out of scientists’ hands. It has been transferred into the sweaty palms of young fire-eating revolutionaries who have to channel their destructive, nihilist impulses into some sort of conduit.

Communism provided one of those for a few decades, but all those photographs of piled corpses and skeletal concentration camp inmates have made it somewhat less productive.

Yet, as the First Law of Thermodynamics tells us, energy doesn’t disappear; it simply transforms into another kind of energy. Thus much of the same animus has been alternately bursting into other channels: anti-nuke today, animal welfare tomorrow, homomarriage the day after, climate change the day after that.

Never mind the cause, feel the energy, seems to be the general rule. The young, whom the Satanist-in-Chief Trotsky called ‘the barometer of the nation’, are ideal agents of upheavals, what with their perfect combination of unformed brains and abundant vitality.

Yet it takes grown-ups to harness vitality and steer it towards the desired ends – and rather few grown-ups at that, provided they are trained in the dark arts of venomous propaganda.

Such chaps are seldom in short supply. That’s why youngsters swelled the ranks of Bolsheviks and Nazis, the Red Guards and Khmer Rouge, the CND and Greenpeace – and now of the Extinction Rebellion.

Greta Thunberg is typical in this sense, if rather tending towards the more precocious end of the range.

According to her, she first became concerned about warm weather when she was nine years old, which points at an unfortunate oversight on her parent’s part. Greta’s father ought to have noticed that his little girl was going off the rails, thrown her over his knee and given her a good spanking.

Then again, such a time-honoured treatment might not have worked because little Greta is clearly deranged. She admits openly that she has been “diagnosed with Asperger’s syndrome, OCD and selective mutism,” which should have put her into psychiatric care long ago.

“I see the world a bit differently, from another perspective…,” she adds. “I can do the same thing for hours.” Yes, quite. Loony bins are full of patients making similar claims.

By the time she reached the ripe old age of 15 the poor girl began to skip school every Friday, camping outside Sweden’s parliament with a hand-written sign saying “School Strike for Climate”.

The idea of ideologised truancy appealed to millions of youngsters worldwide, who avidly followed suit.

I’m not surprised about Greta’s popularity among young idiots worldwide. Madness attracts, and absolute madness attracts absolutely. Deranged fanatics must emit a contagious miasma that has a hypnotic effect on susceptible masses.

Just watch videos of Hitler’s speeches, and you’ll know what I mean. A modern Western man in the throes of shamanistic ecstasy should have immediately attracted men in white coats. Instead Hitler attracted millions of hypnotised dummies bellowing their Heils!!! in unison.

Greta is typologically similar. She too talks in frankly apocalyptic terms: “We probably don’t even have a future any more. That future has been sold so that a small number of people can make unimaginable amounts of money.”

Notice the appeal to envy. It’s osmotic rather than rational because even a youngster, assuming some degree of mental competence, would know that it’s modern science and technology that keep an extremely large number of people in clean water, food, decent quarters and medical treatment.

The same large numbers who before the Industrial Revolution would have died now not only live but have enough leisure time on their hands to listen to crazed prepubescent creatures.

Unsatisfied by the havoc caused in London by the Extinction Rebels she inspired, Greta is now calling for a general climate strike in Britain. It’s not enough that London traffic is at a standstill, now they want to paralyse the whole country in the name of Greta’s lunacy.

And people – MPs! – listen. Not just Gove, but also Berkow, Corbyn, Cable and countless others are falling over themselves to meet Greta, genuflect and kiss her ring.

Having detected a mind and temperament similar to his own, Jeremy Corbyn provided a perfect accompaniment to Greta’s rants: “Young people will be the most affected by climate change – seeing them take charge of their future is inspiring. Labour’s committed to working with young people campaigning to save our planet.”

I bet it is, just like Trotsky and Pol Pot. But I wonder – as Corbyn never does – what he means. For young people to be ‘the most affected by climate change’, the end has to be nigh fairly soon, say in a few decades, which isn’t a claim even most activists make. Jeremy should have said ‘those yet unborn’, which would have been more sound if just as stupid.

My guess is that most Greta admirers among our politicos don’t give a damn about either her or her crusade. What they do care about is staying on the right side of orthodoxy.

One distinguishing feature of modernity is its capacity for effecting overnight metamorphoses. Yesterday’s perversions become today’s norm; yesterday’s villainy, today’s morality; yesterday’s lunacy, today’s orthodoxy.

And each orthodoxy has its figureheads who must be lauded as a signal of virtue. Greta is one such – and she has already been nominated for the Nobel Peace Prize. Yes, ladies and gentlemen, it’s official: the world is mad.

Fire burn, cauldron bubble

I wonder about the symbolic significance of the Notre-Dame fire, coming as it did in the sixth month of gilets jaunes riots, and delaying as it did Macron’s coming announcement that the Ecole Nationale d’Administration (Ena) will be closed.

It’s not just what it is. It’s also what it symbolises

But first let’s remind ourselves that, in European history, whatever happens in France doesn’t just happen in France. For France is in many ways the reference country of Western civilisation, one destined to act as a perennial schoolmistress.

The lessons she teaches are both in how to do things and also in how not to do them. At the time Notre-Dame was built, it was the former.

The European genius was then manifested mainly through theology and its lapidary expression in church architecture. That was when France told the world to sit up and listen.

In the twelfth century the scholastic theologian Pierre Abélard shone at the school of Notre-Dame, roughly on the site of the current cathedral. In the next century, as the cathedral was going up, the University of Paris was unquestionably the cultural centre of the world, with Albertus Magnus paving the way for Thomas Aquinas.

And then sublime cathedrals sprouted, like the giant trees of history’s greatest civilisation. Their saplings were then transplanted all over Europe – for example, the same team that built Sens cathedral then moved on to give Canterbury cathedral its current shape.

Fast-forward five centuries, and the lessons France taught Europe became toxic. That egregious misnomer, the Enlightenment, began to inject venom into the West’s veins, of the slow-acting kind that poisons by gradual corruption.

The country itself became a picture of political instability, producing since then 17 different constitutions – to Britain’s one. Only corruption remained stable, with the bogus notion of liberté, egalité, fraternité dripping in drop by drop at an accelerating speed.

Remove Christianity from such desiderata, and they become bacteria spreading the contagion of nihilism. In due course, 80 per cent of the magnificent Romanesque and Gothic churches fell to wanton destruction or scornful neglect; the great University of Paris has become a hatchery of vacuous pseuds, homespun revolutionaries and Third World butchers.

France has now added a new function to her didacticism, that of a mirror into which other European countries can look and see themselves. The mirror is concave and convex, so that not every reflection is perfectly accurate. But all are close enough.

Hence the symbolic significance of the Notre-Dame fire, and the very real significance of the mooted plans for its restoration.

Apparently, the overall stewardship of the project has been entrusted to a five-star general, whom my tennis partner, himself a general, describes as a salaud (bastard). But what matters here isn’t so much the good general’s moral character as the vandalism already planned higher up the chain of command.

Worryingly, Manny Macron has vowed to rebuild Notre-Dame “even more beautifully”. Now neither the French nor anyone else have managed to produce anything even remotely as beautiful as Notre-Dame in the 850 years elapsing since the cathedral was completed.

Hence Manny’s undertaking to improve on the work of medieval architects within five years sounds ominous, especially since he also promised to consider a “contemporary architectural gesture”.

Allow me to translate: what’s being considered is yet another act of vandalism, akin to those decapitated statues on the cathedral’s façade, the work of newly enlightened and liberated savages. Or, for a more up-to-date example, look at the glorious Louvre courtyard disfigured by that awful pyramid, a monument to the hubristic vandalism of modern architects.

The prospect of aesthetic sabotage has even excited Lord Foster, and one would think he has perpetrated enough architectural monstrosities in his 83 years. “The spire is an interesting challenge,” he said. “It’s an opportunity to create something which is of our age.”

Like topping the cathedral with a glass dome? Just guessing. (For whatever little it’s worth, my own preference for the spire is no spire: I never saw what that 19th century structure added to the two magnificent towers.)

The fire also elicited an emotional response from the rioters who’ve been turning Paris and other major cities into hell for some six months now. But their emotions are negative.

“I’m not crying for stones,” said one comely gilet jaune. “I’m crying for people who are poor and hungry and don’t have anywhere to live.”

She and so many others feel that the billion euros pledged for the reconstruction of one of the world’s greatest treasures yanks bread out of the mouths of the hungry. That money, they scream, should be used to ease poverty instead.

Yet none of the billion will come from the state treasury. The money has been pledged by private firms and individuals, who ought to be able to decide how best to dispose of their wealth.

This shows that the riots have little to do with higher taxes on fuel and rubbish disposal. And even Macron’s resignation seems to be only a slogan reflecting a more profound yearning.

The rioters – and millions of their sympathisers – don’t just want a different version of Manny Macron in power, nor for that matter just lower taxes for themselves and punitive taxes for les riches. They ache to implode the whole political and social system.

The chickens hatched by decades of systematic political and cultural corruption have come to roost. Socialist politicians (which is to say politicians) have systematically nurtured for their electoral gain a sense of mass entitlement, inevitably accompanied by envy and pent-up resentment.

Now resentment refuses to stay pent-up – it’s ready to splash out.

At the beginning of his presidency, Manny, who has a good head for numbers if for nothing else, did his sums and calculated that the wealth tax and other anti-business millstones were pulling the economy down to the bottom.

However, when he tried to introduce rather timid reforms aimed at alleviating the problem, he acquired the reputation of a stooge to the rich. The suitably corrupted masses don’t care about improving the economy if that also means greater profits for les riches. (French is actually the only language in which the word ‘boss’, patron, has pejorative connotations.)

They won’t be mollified by arithmetic; the brewing social and cultural revolution can only be stopped by effective counterrevolution. However, the classes that could conceivably provide counterrevolutionary leaders are extinct; they too have been corrupted, if in different ways.

Manny, who has grandiose ideas far above his intellectual station, doesn’t realise that his willingness to consider a vandalising gesture in the reconstruction of Notre-Dame has exactly the same roots as the gilets jaunes’ more visible vandalism in France’s streets.

He himself is a suited and booted specimen of the same species, which he has further proved by his intention to shut down Ena, the finishing school of France’s administrative elite with strict selection criteria.

Even though they are prepared to compromise on the liberté and fraternité, the masses are braying for more égalité, and Manny’s genetic makeup prevents him from resisting in a resolute and principled way.

“If we want to build a society of equal opportunity and national excellence,” goes Manny’s leaked speech that has been delayed by the fire, “we must… change the system of training, selection and career development by suppressing Ena and several other institutions.”

Manny doesn’t realise that ‘equal opportunity’ and ‘national excellence’ are oxymoronic. That’s why he wants to sacrifice France’s grandes écoles at the altar of egalitarianism consecrated by the mob – driving the ablest youths out of French universities and out of the country (a process that’s already under way).

Before we sneer at France’s troubles in the good British tradition, let’s remind ourselves of two literary references: one to John Donne’s bell that also tolls for us, the other to Nikolai Gogol’s character who says: “Who are you laughing at? You’re laughing at yourselves!”

And then of course there’s that Shakespearean cauldron that keeps bubbling – and not just in France.

Trust the Muslims

Muslims have earned the right to be trusted. Perhaps not in everything they say or do, but whenever there are warnings that they might blow something up, we must take such warnings on faith.

Is it still a religion of peace? Mr Bush? Mr Cameron? Mrs May?

Sri Lankan authorities didn’t. The police there were warned about the impending attacks a fortnight in advance, but did nothing.

Now they have 290 reasons to acknowledge the error of their ways: that’s how many people were murdered in synchronised suicide attacks on churches where Christians celebrated Easter, and hotels where visitors, mostly Christians, stayed.

Add to this another 500 reasons, equal to the number of people also injured in the explosions, some of whom will doubtless die, and Sri Lankan police must now realise they were wrong in their lackadaisical treatment of those security tips.

Now their government spokesman has treated us to the earth-shattering revelation that the bombers had links to some unidentified international terrorist organisations. However, those responsible for carrying out the attacks have been tentatively identified, as admittedly a local jihadist group, National Thowheed Jamath.

The nature of the said international organisation wasn’t specified; the word ‘jihadist’ only appeared in the reports many hours after the explosions, and I have yet to see the adjective ‘Muslim’ mentioned anywhere. However, one can make the connection without much effort: after all, one doesn’t hear much of Methodist or Mormon jihadists.

We can make all the connections we wish, but the media won’t help us. The word ‘jihadist’ is nicely limiting, while the word ‘Muslim’ is dangerously broad. Bandy it about too much, and this may shatter the pristine image of the religion of peace we like to cherish in our hearts.

Since our media are committed to the preservation of that peaceful image, they’ll use particular rather than general descriptions: fundamentalists, jihadists, extremists or at a pinch Islamists. Never Muslims – as if the religion had nothing to do with it, the religion, may one add, that has been at war with Christianity ever since the first sabre-waving swarms burst out of the red-hot Arabian deserts 1,400 years ago.

Ask the hacks about such reticence and they’ll tell you that not all Muslims are suicide bombers. Fair enough, they aren’t. If they were, the problem would be solved in one generation, although the cost would be exorbitant.

Moreover, most Muslims aren’t even belligerent fanatics. By the same token, most Germans weren’t Nazis, nor most Russians communists. And even most Nazis and communists didn’t kill or torture anyone personally.

I’m sure that thought provided much consolation to the millions killed by the Nazis, the tens of millions killed by the communists – and some 300 million who have been murdered over the centuries to the accompaniment of deafening shrieks of ‘Allahu akbar!’

At the time when Christians were building the great cathedrals whose architectural genius has never been even remotely approached since, their terminology wasn’t as nuanced as ours. They didn’t care what percentage of Muslims harassed, robbed and killed Christian pilgrims on their way to the Holy Land.

They just sold all their possessions, left their families behind and joined the Crusaders’ hosts, to fight and probably die in the Outremer to protect their people. Their definition of ‘their people’ was broad: all who espoused Christianity, regardless of their race, place of birth or native language.

St Bernard helpfully came up with the term exonerating the violence they were about to commit: malicide, the killing of evil. That dovetailed with the earlier doctrine of just war enunciated by St Augustine and developed by St Thomas Aquinas: violence was wrong – unless it prevented a greater wrong.

Nor were the Crusaders involved in actuarial calculations of the percentage of Muslims who actually cut pilgrims’ throats, even though they were doubtless aware that it was relatively small. They just felt physically the pain of their fellow Christians and were prepared to die to prevent that pain or, barring that, avenge it.

One gets the impression that such acute, visceral empathy is no longer widespread in what used to be Christendom. We aren’t going to do battle to save Christians abused and murdered all over the Third World. Why, we aren’t even going to identify their abusers and murderers by their real designation.

We choose to forget that mass murder always has some scriptural justification: that hand wielding a knife, an axe or a pistol may grow limp without it. Bolshevik murderers followed The Communist Manifesto as faithfully as Nazi murderers followed Mein Kampf – and as faithfully as Muslim murderers follow the Koran.

Yet we aren’t bashful about saying ‘Bolsheviks’ or ‘Nazis’. We don’t point out that not all communists were Lubyanka executioners or Kolyma overseers, nor that only some Nazis operated those gas chambers. But we can’t bring ourselves to saying ‘Muslims’.

So let’s be brave and declare openly that those who wish us dead aren’t just fundamentalists, extremists, fanatics or even Islamists. They’re Muslims, and they can be trusted to kill again and again – unless given a compelling reason not to.

Pope Urban II, ring your office.

Easter is no joke

I pride myself on my ability to make people laugh, but usually such an effect is intentional. Yesterday it wasn’t.

“On the third day he rose again in accordance with the Scriptures…|

A dozen French people and I were having a beer at my Burgundian tennis club. One of them invited me to play doubles at noon today, which invitation I politely declined, saying I’d be at mass.

Everybody present laughed. They found it risible that a seemingly intelligent man would indulge such a ludicrous superstition. They thought I was joking; I thought they were barbarians – and not just because they were atheists.

For it was Easter Sunday 2,000-odd years ago that changed man and his world for ever.

Hellenic man had always struggled with death, its finality, its cruelty, its nothingness. Death seemed to render life meaningless, deprive it of any sense of purpose.

Life itself had to be regarded as the purpose of life, and the Hellenes, weaned as they were on logic, couldn’t fail to see a self-refuting paradox there.

To be sure, there were all sort of Orphic fantasies about afterlife, but that’s what they were and were seen to be – fantasies.

And then, on this day, 2,000-odd years ago, people weren’t merely told but shown that, just as there is death in life, so there is life in death.

Now they knew there was no such thing as a happy end to life. If it was to be happy, it was not the end.

There had never been such rejoicing, never such an outburst of hope and liberating energy. Imitating God in Christ became more than just man’s moral commitment. The ability to do so had become his ontological property.

Man was no longer a lodger in the world; he had become its eternal owner. He could imitate Christ not only by being good but also by being creative. And create he did.

Thus, on this day 2,000-odd years ago a new civilisation was born, the likes of which the world had never seen, nor ever will see. More important, a new family came into existence.

Universal brotherhood became a reality: all men were brothers not because someone said so, but because they all had the same father.

This unity was a bond far stronger than even the ordinary, what is today called ‘biological’, family. And it certainly betokened a much greater concord than any worldly alliances, blocs, contracts, agreements, political unions – or for that matter nations or races.

“There is neither Jew nor Greek, there is neither bond nor free, there is neither male nor female: for ye are all one in Christ Jesus,” explained St Paul, making every subsequent, secular promise of equality sound puny and vulgar.

It has not always worked out that way. Just like the ancient Hebrews, who were dispersed because they broke God’s covenant, the world pushed aside the lifebelt divinely offered.

It tried to find unity in itself – only to find discord, devastation and the kind of spiritual emptiness for which no material riches can possibly make up.

But the lifebelt was not taken away. It still undulates with the waves, still within reach of anyone ready to grasp it.

This makes today the most joyous day of the year – regardless of whether or not we are Christians, or what kind of Christians.

On this day we can forget our differences and again sense we are all brothers united in the great hope of peace on earth and life everlasting. We can all, irrespective of where we live, rejoice on hearing these words, ringing, thundering in whatever language they are uttered:

Christ is risen!

Le Christ est ressuscité!

Christus ist auferstanden!

Cristo ha resucitado!

Cristo è risorto!

Kristus on üles tõusnud!

Kristus er oppstanden!

Xристос воскрес!

Chrystus zmartwychwstał!

Kristus vstal z mrtvých!

Cristo ressuscitou!

Kristus ir augšāmcēlies!

Christus is verrezen!

Χριστὸς ἀνέστη!

Krisztus feltámadt!

Kristus är uppstånden!

Kristus prisikėlė!

Kristus nousi kuolleista!

Hristos a înviat!


The presence of evidence

The absence of evidence isn’t the evidence of absence, say scientists. However fruitful this notion could be when applied to scientific research, it doesn’t quite work in criminal investigation – certainly not in a country ruled by law.

Birds of a feather?

We’re in a discussion forum, and in this arena the evidence presented by Mueller is damning.

That’s why it sounds so strange to my ear when the Mueller report states that Trump can’t be indicted for collusion with Russia. He can’t even be indicted for obstruction of justice, but then neither can he be exonerated.

To this rank legal amateur, the absence of evidence for an indictment in itself means exoneration – as far as criminal proceedings go. But we aren’t in a court of law here, are we?

This, even if we don’t speculate about the contents of the redacted 12 per cent of his report – and ignore Mueller’s frank admission that, though he would have liked to subpoena both Trump and some of his Russian friends, he couldn’t do so. Trump could have fought the subpoena indefinitely, and the Russians involved wisely don’t venture anywhere near the US.

Let’s just deal with known facts. Thus it’s a fact that Russian intelligence services actively interfered in the presidential campaign to get Trump elected.

The interference, which Mueller calls “sweeping and systematic”, involved hacking the e-mails of Trump’s opponents, using thousands of fake accounts to bombard American voters with false messages about Hilary Clinton and offering such information to Trump’s confidants.

Heirs to the KGB don’t offer such assistance just for the hell of it. Putin’s junta clearly felt it stood to benefit from Trump’s election and, when he did get elected, champagne was broken out in the Duma. Russian media, mostly controlled by the state, were openly talking about “Operation Trump”, “Our Trump” and some such.

Yes, no evidence has been found that Trump or his people criminally conspired with the Russians to set those wheels in motion. However, they did happily accept the help.

Throughout the campaign, Trump’s closest associates, such as Donald Trump Jr., regularly met with Russian operatives and retweeted the fake information they provided. Claims that such contacts could have happened without Trump’s authorisation or at least knowledge stretch my credulity to snapping point.

Following a tip from Russian spies, one such aide, Michael Flynn, who later became Trump’s first National Security Advisor, was specifically ordered to recover Clinton’s deleted e-mails. Later he and half a dozen other aides were convicted on a variety of criminal charges, with Russia figuring prominently in most of them.

Fourth, Trump for decades had business contacts with the Russian mafia, which term I use for brevity’s sake to describe the homogeneous fusion of government, security services and organised crime that rules Russia.

According to the testimony of his lawyer Michael Cohen, such contacts didn’t stop during the campaign, which Trump denies. One way or the other, Trump and the mafia got on famously, as he himself often boasted:

“But I know Russia well. I had a major event in Russia two or three years ago… I got to meet a lot of people. [Quite. Photographs galore show Trump indulging in public foreplay with any number of Russian gangsters, such as the Agalarovs.] And you know what? They want to be friendly with the United States. Wouldn’t it be nice if we actually got on with somebody?”

[Such friendliness isn’t very much in evidence now, and wasn’t then. Russian state TV incessantly sputters venom about the US and its allies. Just the other day grateful viewers of Rossiya-1 (sort of like our BBC) were treated to this typical insight: “The Armenian genocide was commissioned by the Jewish Anglo-Saxon mafia.”]

And: “I was over in Moscow two years ago and I will tell you – you can get along with those people and get along with them well.”

And: “We’re going to have a great relationship with Putin and Russia.”

Asked how he felt about the cull of journalists in Russia, Trump replied: “Now, I think it would be despicable if that took place, but I haven’t seen any evidence that he [Putin] killed anybody in terms of reporters.” At least 40 murders ‘in terms of reporters’ had taken place by then, and the victims’ names were all over the US press.

When queried about Putin ordering the Litvinenko murder, Trump said: “In all fairness to Putin – I don’t know. You know, and I’m not saying this because he says, ‘Trump is brilliant and leading everybody’ – the fact is that, you know, he hasn’t been convicted of anything.” [Does Trump think Putin could be tried and convicted in Russia while still in office? If he does, he’s too ignorant about America’s enemies to be president.]

Trump’s tweet on the leaked documents from the Democratic National Convention: “The new joke in town is that Russia leaked the disastrous DNC emails, which should never have been written (stupid), because Putin likes me.”

And then an obvious lie (July, 2016): “I don’t know who Putin is. He said one nice thing about me. He said I’m a genius. I said, ‘Thank you very much’ to the newspaper, and that was the end of it.”

So far Trump hasn’t uttered a single critical word about Putin. Many such words have been uttered in Congress, which managed to override the president’s vigorous protests to push through several packages of anti-Russian sanctions.

That, however, happened not because of Trump, but in spite of him. So far he has managed to stall the most sweeping sanctions from taking effect. All in all, his obvious pro-Putin stance is deeply immoral, even if it doesn’t violate the letter of the law.

Even now, when Trump has supposedly been exonerated, he hasn’t revised his stance publicly. All one hears from him is triumphalist braggadocio, which again brings into question his fitness for the office.

The Mueller report shows that Putin’s Russia actively subverted US presidential elections. That means Putin tried to subvert the US Constitution, which Trump has taken an oath to defend.

One would think that, as a minimum, a stern rebuke is in order, ideally accompanied by another batch of sanctions. If no such developments occur, it’s possible that Trump displayed clairvoyance when commenting on the announcement of the Mueller inquiry: “Now I’m f***ed!” Which of course doesn’t necessarily mean convicted.