Sunday, January 10, 2021

Anarchy In The USA

So, dear blog reader, as two of the great philosophers of this modern age once, so wisely, noted 'shit just got real'.
'We've been asked to speak politics to you today-ah.' Welcome you are to part, the first (and, probably, last) of a brand spankin' new From The North feature. Don't all cheer at once, please.
This blogger knows that The Village People were desperate to launch their ersatz comeback with some kind of major media event. But this was surely neither the time nor, indeed, the place for such 'YMCA'-style shenanigans, dear blog reader. (This blogger's thanks go to his good mate Christian for that particular joke.)
Okay, taking a far more serious tone at this juncture; it is a much-used cliché that a week - any week - is 'a long time in politics.' But some weeks are, clearly, longer - and stranger - than others. A case in point: This week began with a perfectly extraordinary story that, in any other week, would have dominated every news cycle for the full seven days and probably well beyond but which, given the events of the following days, almost seems to have been forgotten by many. It was the release of a leaked audio recording of a telephone call in which the soon-to-be-former President of the United States of America appeared to pressurise the Secretary of State for Georgia, Brad Raffensperger, to falsify the results of November's erection in his, the soon-to-be-former President's, favour. Something that the Secretary of State for Georgia - to his immense credit and showing more spine than the rest of his party put together - flatly refused to do. As noted, in any normal week that would have been the only story in town. But, it was merely the hors d'oeuvre for that which followed. The next day, in a scene that - in a galaxy far, far, away - saw Ewoks dancing, the soon-to-be-former President's party, the Republicans (you remember them?), lost control of the Senete. As, in no small part thanks to the soon-to-be-former President's sulky and very public attempts to make everything about him, voters in Georgia's run-off erection rejected both incumbents (a pair of dodgy hypocritical soon-to-be-former President Mister Rump arse-licking gangsters whom the soon-to-be-former President doesn't appear to think much of). And voted, instead, for a pair of Democrats, Jon Ossoff and Raphael Warnock.
That was followed by a day in which the US Congress officially certified the results of November's Presidential erection. But, only after the session had to be suspended when the Capitol building was attacked by a mob of crazed right-wing seditious rioting scum. Who had, seemingly, been actively encouraged in their violent insurrectionist endeavours and nefarious domestic terrorism by the soon-to-be-former President - and several of his lickerty-split acolytes, some of them shamelessly unapologetic - at a rally outside The White House. To sum up, then, it was only Wednesday and we had already seen an attempted (but, ultimately failed) coup d'état taking place in the world's largest superpower. As this blogger said, some week's are longer - and stranger - than others.
There is, currently - and rightly - a lot of discussion occurring about any potential ramifications (legal and otherwise) following the truly shocking, disturbing, sickening and, ultimately, deadly events which took place on Wednesday in Washington DC. Events which anyone with half-a-brain in their heads has had a pretty fair idea was coming for the last two months at least.
About whether Congress could, should or would vote to impeach, soon-to-be-former President Mister Rump. For general abuse of power, inciting a riot, fermenting seditious assembly, seeking to defraud the public, being orange in public in an untoward manner, et cetera. It appears, at the time of writing, as though Congress intends to, at the very least, give it a go early next week. But, questions remain - whether such a course of action is worthwhile. Whether, given the timescale before soon-to-be-former President Mister Rump leaves The White House, it would be merely a symbolic act or an empty gesture of disapproval. One which history will, of course, record but which would, ultimately, have little or no lasting effect. Whether, indeed, it has the potential to be perceived - by those with a sick agenda - as a partisan political act; one which could, ultimately, prove to be counter-effective. In so much as it may provide die-hard supporters of soon-to-be-former President Mister Rump with an aura of being, yet again, the innocent, oppressed victim of political opponents. This blogger offers no personal views on these matters - not being an American citizen, as a consequence, this blogger can only ever provide an outsider's perspective on what is purely an internal affair. That said, this blogger would like to offer you all one observation.
And it's this; had similar events taken place virtually anywhere else in the world, had a Head of State in many other countries seemingly engaged in a conspiracy to incite a crowd of his (or her) supporters to seditious, violent actions to prevent his (or her) political opponents from doing their job then what would have happened? Well, had such an incident occurred in a country in, let's say Central America, or South America, or Africa, or certain parts of Europe, or most of the Middle East or some parts of the Far East then the answer is very simply - nothing whatsoever would have happened (except that, in all likelihood, the death toll in such an incident would have been greater than five). The reason? Many of those places are dictatorships and the Head of State can, effectively, do whatsoever the Hell he (or she) likes without fear of comeback. But, what do you do with a Head of State in a country where he (or she) - in theory, at least - can't do whatever the Hell he (or she) likes without fear of some repercussions? Do you simply run down the clock on their time in office and then celebrate when they've gone away? Or, do you take some action before that occurs - however weak or pointless it may appear to be? This blogger will leave that question hanging, dear blog reader, like a sock on a radiator for you all to ponder.
The main arbiter in all this is probably that to do nothing is - tacitly - to say that you approve of soon-to-be-former President Mister Rump's crass, sinister and insidious actions. The other, potential, supporting factor about the threat of an impeachment vote is that it would, once and for all, force all Republican Congresspersons and, if it gets a majority in Congress (which it almost certainly would) and then Senators to actually go on the record and demonstrate - for posterity - whether they (tacitly) approve of what went down in their place of employment on Wednesday. Or not. Again, this is possibly an empty gesture but it is one that may, perhaps, be worth the effort. Time will tell. It usually does.
There is, as it happens, at least one previous precedent for an impeachment continuing after the impeachee has left office (one of President Grant's cabinet, was apparently impeached after he had already resigned). This blogger got that particular nugget of information from the BBC's Americast podcast's US political expert, the very excellent Anthony Zucker. By the way, dear blog reader, if you're not all listening to Americast already, then you really should be. This blogger thinks it's great.
The one major effect that such a judicial scenario would have is that it would, if ultimately successful, prevent soon-to-be-former President Mister Rump from ever running for an elected office again (not even The City Dogcatcher in Boise, Idaho). Which, some people may consider has some merit to it. Again, this blogger offers no opinion on that score whatsoever. Oh no, very hot water.
Anyway, dear blog reader, that's the end of the serious bit. This, meanwhile, was funny. CNN's Wolf Blitzer on Wednesday condemned the mob storming the Capitol, with the observation that the raggle-taggle army of misfits and clowns supporting soon-to-be-former President Mister Rump's lame efforts to overturn the erection results are 'probably are too stupid to know that they're heading for jail.' Yep, that sounds about right, Wolf.
Take this chap, for instance. His story was also thigh slappingly hilarious. A tip, 'Bigo', mate: If you are intending to commit a federal crime, or a series of them (trespass, breaking and entering, theft and, last but by no means least, treason) it's probably not a good idea to get yourself interviewed by the New York Times and a couple of national broadcasters on your way out of the building. And, to give them your full name, address and occupation (which appears to be Certified Moron).
And, so was this headbanger's story. Again, if you're in the process of stealing something, as a general rule you probably want to avoid waving to the cameras whilst you are fleeing the scene. You grinning cretin.
The very great Stephen Colbert ripping 'Elizabeth from Knoxville, Tennessee' a new asshole on Thursday's The Late Show was also well-worth a few moments of your time, dear blog reader. Though, there are widespread claims - as yet unproven - that 'Elizabeth from Knoxville' is, actually, from Maryland.
Soon-to-be-former President Mister Rump did, eventually (and seemingly reluctantly), acknowledge his defeat in a video and urged his supporters for a perod of political reconciliation in what was, perhaps, as close as we will ever get to an actual concession. Close, but not quite close enough. Indeed, many commentators suggested that he had only been prompted to do so by those surrounding him - 'the adults in the room' as they like to be known - who realised that, if he hadn't done something to calm the situation, there was a genuine risk of the soon-to-be-former Vice-President (with whom the soon-to-be-former President is, allegedly, not currently on speaking terms) invoking the Twenty Fifth Amendment. And, thus removing soon-to-be-former President Mister Rump's sorry ass from office and kicking him into the gutter on Pennsylvania Avenue along with all the other turds. Predictably, this marginally-more-contrite-than-normal (if, somewhat unbelievable) statement went down like a fart in a spacesuit with soon-to-be-former President Mister Rump's 'army' of insurrectionists, domestic terrorists and louse scum. To say that his online faithful did not take his sudden about-face (and his, effectively, throwing all of them under the bus in the process) too kindly would be putting it mildly. See, for example, Politico's report 'Coward': MAGA Internet Turns On Trump. Or, the Gruniad Morning Star's Donald Trump Fans Cry Betrayal As He Rebukes Capitol Violence. Hell, it would appear, hath no fury like a group of right-wing numbskulls given a jolly harsh lesson in political chicanery and back-covering. And, the soon-to-be-former President couldn't even defend himself as Twitter had just made him the first world leader in history to have his account banned. Needless to say, soon-to-be-former President Mister Rump was not too chuffed about being publicly muzzled in such a way. Pure dead pissed off, so he was. That, dear blog reader, was funny.
According to FAUX News, one knock-on effect of soon-to-be-former President Mister Rump's various Interweb platform bans is that now the dude can't even access Spotify. Which seems a bit harsh even if he did attempt to ferment a gloriously-inept failed coup. How is he going to listen to some bangin' tunes from his supporters like Lil Wayne and Ted Nugent now? Perhaps we'll never care.
So, for soon-to-be-former President Mister Rump, yer actual Keith Telly Topping thought it would be a nice thing to do to, helpfully, put together a playlist of appropriate tunes especially for him which he can listen to whilst he's offline. This one. This one. And, this one. And this one. And this one. And this one. And this one. And this one. And this one. And, of course, most importantly, this one. Hey, what can this blogger say Keith Telly Topping is a thoughtful guy ...
Another moment of supreme irony in this whole, sorry, affair was reflected in a piece in the Independent, Trump Rioters Could Face Long Jail Terms Because Of His Executive Order To Punish Black Lives Matter. Whether 'Bigo', 'Elizabeth from Knoxville', Jake 'The QAnon Shaman' (who, apparently, is an unemployed 'failed actor' who currently lives with his mom), Derrick the - now-extremely-former - West Virginia lawmaker and all the rest of the screaming mob will, as one article claims, end up facing twenty years in The Joint for their naughty terroristic ways is unknown. 'Could' being a frighteningly imprecise word when it comes to criminality. In other - less horrific - circumstances, such a turn of events might have been considered utterly hilarious. But people are dead, dear blog reader. Frankly, this whole situation passed 'funny' a long, long way back down the road.
Right, that's the politics over and done with. We now return you to our normal From The North programming ... of gushing TV reviews, jokes about amusingly convoluted or daft headlines and despair about how chronically awfully this blogger's favourite football team is currently being run. Plus ça change, plus c'est la même chose. It's what From The North is here for.
This blogger really enjoyed the Star Trek: Discovery series finale broadcast earlier this week (yer actual proper Star Trek, that was). Then, this blogger read half-a-dozen whingy-faced online reviews from people telling this blogger (and everyone else who had enjoyed it) that they was wrong - bigly wrong with terminal potential, at that - for such nincompoop malarkey. So, that's this blogger told right good and proper for even daring to think about being enthusiastic about something. Do you ever have one of those days, dear blog reader, where you just hate the world and pretty much everyone in it?
From that, dear blog reader, to this ...
Spiral. And, of course, the Gruniad Morning Star loves it too ...
Qi. Albeit, this week's episode was, by a distance, the worst in living memory in this blogger's opinion. Not helped by the inclusion both Tom Allen (whom this blogger considers to1 be about as a funny as Keith Telly Topping's arsehole) and Ed Gamble (whom this blogger considers to be about as funny as Tom Allen's arsehole). Even the presence of the utterly brilliant Maggie Aderin-Pocock couldn't quite save the episode from descending into a sludge of turgidness and sniggering crudeness. A great pity.
The From The North Headline of The Week award goes to Nigel Farage's Brexit Party Officially Changes Its Name. To 'The Party With Nothing To Run On Party', no doubt.
Closely followed by the Gruniad Morning Star's HG Wells Fans Spot Numerous Errors On Royal Mint's New Two Pound Coin. The Four-Legged Tripod was, this blogger thought, a particularly nice touch.
All of which, once again, proved an age-old From The North truism, dear blog reader.
Let us also have a big round of applause for this week's best 'stupid criminals' news story. Well, this week's best 'stupid criminals' news story which didn't involve an attempted terrorist insurrection of a major superpower, obviously. 'World's Unluckiest Burglars' Arrested After Calling Police By Accident. That's not unlucky, guys, that's just lain stupid.
The acclaimed TV and movie director Michael Apted has died at the age of seventy nine. The film-maker and documentarian was known for films such as Gorillas In The Mist and Coal Miner's Daughter, as well as his long-running series of Up documentaries. Apted's career started in the 1960s on the small screen and in 1964, he assisted on Seven Up! part of Granada's current affairs strand World In Action. He helped the director, Paul Almond, interview fourteen seven-year-old children about how they saw the world and then continued to independently revisit them every seven years over the course of their lives. The most recent revisitation, Sixty Three Up, was broadcast in 2019 and the director referred to it as 'the most important thing I have ever done.' The series as a whole won The Peabody Award in 2012. 'The series was an attempt to do a long-view of English society,' Apted said in an interview last year. 'The class system needed a kick up the backside.' In promotion for the most recent instalment, Apted expressed a desire to continue in another seven years' time, saying he would continue as long as he 'can breathe and speak.' Apted was born in 1941 in Aylesbury, the son of Frances Amelia and Ronald William Apted. His father worked for an insurance company. Apted attended the City of London School and then studied law and history at Downing College, Cambridge. During his seven-year period of working at Granada, Apted also directed a number of episodes of Coronation Street, written by Jack Rosenthal among others. Apted and Rosenthal later collaborated on a number of popular television projects, including the pilot episodes for The Dustbinmen and The Lovers. They worked together again in 1982 for the TV movie P'tang, Yang, Kipperbang, the first film commissioned by Channel Four. In 1976 Apted directed a play in the Granada series Laurence Olivier Presents, an adaptation of Harold Pinter's The Collection with Olivier, Malcolm McDowell, Alan Bates and Helen Mirren. His other TV work included Haunted (1967), Big Breadwinner Hog (1969), Parkin's Patch (1969 to 1970), Rosenthal's award-winning Another Sunday and Sweet FA (1970), Follyfoot (1971) and the BBC's Play For Today for whom he directed six plays between 1972 and 1977. These including Stronger Than The Sun, written by Stephen Poliakoff and starring Francesca Annis as a young woman who places her life in danger to expose a crime, a theme which Apted returned to several times. In the 1970s, Apted made his big-screen debut, directing the Second World War drama The Triple Echo, starring Oliver Reed and Glenda Jackson. He was behind the camera on 1974's Stardust which continued the story, begun in Claude Whatham's That'll Be The Day, of the John Lennon-like rock star Jim MacLaine, played by David Essex. The director also made the gritty crime drama The Squeeze in 1977, starring Stacy Keach as an alcoholic ex-detective who tries to pull his life together when his wife and daughter are kidnapped. David Hemmings and Edward Fox had the opportunity to play against type in unsavoury roles and Stephen Boyd played an Irish crime lord, brilliantly, in his last film role. In 1979 Apted made Agatha, his first movie produced by a Hollywood studio (Warner Bros), starring Vanessa Redgrave, Dustin Hoffman and Timothy Dalton in the speculative story of Agatha Christie's 1926 disappearance. He saw his first major film success in 1980 with Coal Miner's Daughter, the Loretta Lynn biopic starring Sissy Spacek. It was nominated for seven Oscars, winning Spacek the best actress award. Apted went on to direct Sigourney Weaver in Gorillas In The Mist, a film which also picked up five Oscar nominations, Nell, with Jodie Foster, the Kate Winslet Bletchley Park drama Enigma, the Jennifer Lopez thriller Enough and, most recently, the action film Unlocked starring Noomi Rapace. 'What I like about women at the centre of films is that I find that a woman character brings a lot of emotion to a story, whatever a story is,' he said in a 2017 interview. 'Whether it's a woman with gorillas or a country music singer, a woman's emotional life - at least on the surface - is more dramatic than a man's.' Gorky Park (1983) was an atmospheric mystery drama based on the novel by Martin Cruz Smith, starring William Hurt, Lee Marvin and Brian Dennehy. He also directed the 1999 James Bond adventure The World Is Not Enough - with Piers Brosnan and featuring one of the worst performances in the history of movies from Denise Richards - and the fantasy sequel The Chronicles Of Narnia: The Voyage Of The Dawn Treader. In addition to movies, Apted continued directing documentaries, including Bring On The Night, a feature-length concert film about the making of Sting's first solo LP. But, we shouldn't regard him too harshly for that fiasco. In 1997, he explored the creative process in Inspirations through candid discussion with seven artists from diverse media, including David Bowie, Louise Lecavalier and Roy Lichtenstein among others. Apted is survived by his third wife, Paige Simpson, sons Jim and John and daughter Lily Mellis all from previous relationships. He was predeceased by another son, Paul.