Oversight…

Looking back on it, it seems that 2016 was the year of the oversight.

Early in the year, talking on Trump, some commentators bandied about figures about him having 20% of 20-24%, suggesting that the apathetic American public who recently have struggled to get over the 50% turnout, were reasonably split between the Democrat/Republican poles.  This came with an allowance for a couple of percentage points being allocated for the usual maverick billionaire with a bee-
in-his-barnet.  Trump, it was believed held the maverick card at this stage – he certainly had the barnet – and everything seemed pretty much run-of-the-mill, for the American process.  He’d run his race, and disappear into whatever oblivion vacuum that sucked up Ross Perot …

His ranting and raving had the more refined on Capitol Hill sniggering up their sleeves.  The press and television media smacked their lips in glee, but the wind-bag was expected by everyone to blow himself out by mid-summer at the latest.

Traction comes from unexpected places.

Trump maintained his bile, and despite the obvious lying, fabricating, and some bewildering back-tracking, before seemingly blowing his other foot off, the act was somehow still gaining momentum.  People didn’t know what to think across the world.  A mass under-class protest making its gripe known was the general international prognosis.  Poor white people were upset and wanted something done about their unhappy state.

What America was thinking was beyond us, looking in from outside, but America often baffles the world with its thinking.  Progressive thinking coasts combined with a sixteenth century moralistic middle don’t make for easy analysis. Trump was obviously some kind of psychopathic loon-tune with an odd personal agenda, but somehow he was staying in there.  Like a reality version of goggle-box, the worldunknown-4 scratched its collective arse, its armpits, its head, and finally shrugged in bafflement.  May arrived, and the primaries ended.  Trump was endorsed by the Republican Party.  The Democrats celebrated across the land, believing the Republicans had given up the ghost.

Not taking him seriously by June was the Democrats major oversight of the year.

June crept along and England gave all sensible thinking people a massive kick in the balls.  An idiotic bunch of warm beer swilling xenophobes had hoodwinked the normally apathetic English and Welsh into voting to leave the European Union, by not deviating from a meaningless phrase of ‘getting control of their country back’, and depicting the country as being overrun with hordes of alien foreigners trying to occupy beds in their hospitals.  A twenty year campaign from what were regarded as little-england bigots, and rural folk scared of anyone with a higher melanin count than their own milky arses, came home to roost.

Believed by the powers-that-be to have somewhat run its course, and that this was to be the final laying to bed of Farage and his bunch of odious cronies, many people in and out of power took their eyes off the ball.  An oversight by the sensible, of insensible proportions.  Corbyn disappeared from all reports, and won’t be forgiven by many people for his absence, and the BBC gonged its way into 6pm with Prime Ministerial commentaries countered by Farage, as though it was he who had become the Leader of HM’s Opposition.

Timing was Cameron’s oversight.  Only a year in to his second term (if first real term) – an unpopular time for any leader, especially one who hadn’t managed a mandate for his first term – he and his Tory chums were confident that having seen off what had seemed a much more likely independent Scottish threat, the whole Brexit hoo-hah was merely a bag of wind for the silly season of summer and would be similarly put to bed.

His oversight cost Britain its imminently sensible and beneficial relationship with the EU, and lie piled upon lie paved the bigot-enabling-path, with the media flailing and flapping about, seemingly unable to take anyone to task in a post-Paxman world.  Expecting the truth, and reasonable argument to win the day, Cameron and Osborne tried to keep to the status quo narrative (what else would a conservative do?) and their oversight in believing the fake-news pedlars, who ignored the statistics, the facts, and anything else reality might throw at them, and maintained the stream of drivel, their oversight in believing this would come to bite the liars on the arse, was perhaps the biggest cock-up of the year, and perhaps even, Tory history.

The celebrations of the fake-news brigade spread, and the possibilities for bigots everywhere just opened up.  Liberal-minded and tolerant people suddenly found themselves in conversations they’d thought had been consigned to dust-bins twenty years ago.  Seemingly, the thoughts were just in hiding, and the hate simmered along, and was even cultivated quietly through the private social networks, and caverns of hate as they have since come to be called.

Trumps inauguration came about when the Democrats also misread the narrative, and the disgruntled mood upon which it rode.  Like the British, this wasn’t a mood of debate, reason, logic and understanding.  This was a mood that didn’t like words much.  People wanted change, and unless that was what they were going to be promised, that’s what they were going to have.  The oversight was not just misunderstanding the mood, but also misunderstanding how deep and mean the mood was running.

The international community, especially when it comes to American affairs, keeps its nose to itself.  It’s the way America likes it, and many were non-too-happy with the commentaries on Trump from various figures in the European capitals.  Still, believing itself impervious to external influence, and the ability of other nations to manipulate media messages with its own mastery, the American institutions and public took their eyes of their traditional foes in the Kremlin.

This may be the oversight by a nation the rest of the world trusted to maintain vigil, that we all come to ultimately regret most.  On America’s watch, will the free world give up the baton of leadership?  Will it all be because of some oversights?

 

via Daily Prompt: Oversight

 

Remembering odd words from Lao-Tzu …

Sometimes things come at you sideways.img_0021

One moment you’re sitting there and having an espresso, talking to a friend who’s visiting from Holland and your mind is in a European headspace (for lack of a better description).  Rising politely, he pops to the loo, and on the way back is distracted by my wife coming back from a network meeting.  They haven’t caught up yet, and by the time the whole shebang of catch up, coffee ordering, loo visits, catch up revision, and ‘check the tickets on the car’ is done … a small story has popped up, that ha
s absolutely nothing to do with any of it.

We are clever beings, us humans, but somehow seem to endlessly ensnare ourselves unwittingly in traps we never intended to place.  Our cleverness, whilst being our strength, can also be our downfall.  It is perhaps why a fool can be happy, a clever man miserable, and those who recognise the difference we come to call wise men or sages.  Be careful of showing your skills, they could end up enslaving you.

This popped up in the short time I sat alone…it’s unedited, but was only ever meant as a quick jot of an idea.

For some reason my head took be back to Thailand some twenty years ago and rather than sitting around in a coffee shop in winter, I’m in 35 degrees heat, and someone has told me it’s the ‘cool and windy season’ …

Man and the Monkey
Deng woke early. Beneath her hut the copperhead snake slithered to her nest. Eyes closed, still as a mouse, listening to her movements, Deng heard her coil beneath the flimsy floor and settle in to sleep the day away. Mai was due back later. Hopeful he’d bring something for her, she’d even helped Mr Li, which she didn’t like doing. Mr Li watched her working all the time, never saying anything. Mr Li’s eyes made her uncomfortable; when he smoked his Chinese cigarettes he seemed to look dow
n on her, like she had a bad smell; made noises in the back of his throat too, and Deng couldn’t tell if Mr Li was laughing, or going to spit.

Sticky rice and papaya for breakfast, Deng checked the nearby trees and visible windows first; modestly sluicing herself behind the reed frame circling the back of their hut. The heat was already up; the animals about her becoming restive as it rose. Chickens fed, she left one of the roosters out from beneath his basket, opened the pig pen, and watched as the hungry piglets scattered in different directions to forage. A quietness whispered from the monkey cages. Tapping the cage with the smaller female, she pushed in a bit of papaya to her.
“Pu,” Deng whispered, “Pu … Pu.”
Soon know her name.

Quietly, taking it, blinking wide; her young intelligent eyes watched Deng’s every movement as she did so. Mumbling reassuringly and gently, as she pushed another piece of fruit through, Deng slowly worked on building her trust and a bond. Ten days now; already her eyes followed Deng everywhere once she came into view. The older male in the adjoining cage, angled away from her, watched warily through slitted eyes. Deng ignored him. Not about to waste fruit on him again; Mai could dump him back in the jungle later. No use. Nobody ate bushmeat anymore. It made you mad. Like hillmen.

The four European girls got out of bed around nine. Leaving the island today, after three days, they’d been to the waterfall, the big statue of Buddha, and the cave where birds made nests of spit. Three or four more would arrive before the day was out. Sometimes a boy or man came to stay too. Always three days they stayed at Mr Li’s, and always only visited the three things on the island from the book they carried. Mai drove them sometimes, if he finished in the fields early, or Paap came with his van, from the bottom of the hill near the village.

Once when it was quiet, and there were no tourists staying at Mr Li’s, Deng went with Mai to see the waterfall. In the jungle, they parked his bike a long way away, and followed a little path. The birds and insects were noisier than in the village, and monkeys came to watch them as they made their way through. Hot and steamy, when they got to the waterfall, Mai explained that the tourists sometimes swam without clothes to cool off, after which they would eat the food that Deng prepared. Sitting there for a little while afterwards, they always took photos of each other with their phones. After, Mai took them back to Mr Li’s where, tired, they would often have a sleep, before eating again. Later, they would visit the bar near the beach, where other tourists drank beer and listened to loud music. To bed late, they always got up when the morning was nearly over. Mai took Deng home after they cooled their feet in the water, but first made a small detour to the statue. Lots of tourists taking photos, and eating food in the cafés nearby, Mai pointed out which of the cafés Mr Li owned, after which he drove the long way around the island to get home. The bird caves were on the way back, but he didn’t drive there to show Deng. It was just bird spit, and Mr Li didn’t have any businesses there. Back at Mr Li’s, Deng was surprised that she didn’t feel hungry or sleepy.
At eleven, Mai arrived carrying two bags of groceries from the mainland, and three strips of soft sugar candy for Deng hidden in his shirt. A new machete too, and a collar for Pu and the male. Sitting in the doorway, Deng sucked the long yellow strip telling Mai of her days without him. Laughing about Mr Li, he explained again that he was partially blind; reminding Deng he’d already told her that. Deng hadn’t remembered, her memory wasn’t very reliable, so she laughed too, and tried not to be afraid of Mr Li so much. He paid Mai’s wages.

Eating some of the sticky rice, when he’d had his fill, Mai turned back to Deng.
“Monkeys?”

“Only one good.” Deng replied, telling him how smart little Pu was. Females were always more intelligent she teased. Papaya was her favourite fruit too.
Asking after the male, Deng shook her head. Too stupid and too stubborn, Deng reported. Too old and angry also. They’d never get on. Didn’t like Pu either. To Deng’s surprise, Mai suggested putting her to work. Not properly, but he had to be ready to do something for the morning, even if he only showed up training her with the others. Since Hima fell, and died, they hadn’t done a proper day’s work. Deng nodded her understanding.

At the cages, Deng cooed her name and watched little Pu react. A piece of papaya held, as she opened the cage, Pu sat still watching it before coming out sideways, and taking it gently.
“Clever, and gentle too huh?” Mai agreed, attaching the chain to her neck-collar, to check Deng’s progress with her training, and to accustomise her to it.
Too dumb and too stubborn to allow himself to be chained, and be put to work collecting coconuts, Mai ignored the male. One or two were always too dumb.

He’d throw him back in the jungle later.

***