Prime Minister Sunak

You can tell it’s been a busy week when you almost miss the chance to congratulate Rishi Sunak on becoming the new Prime Minister of the UK on Monday.  Sunak is the first British Asian and the first Hindu to hold that position and I hope he does well.

I honestly thought it would be Boris and I still think there’s an above average chance that Boris Johnson will be Prime Minister again at some point in the future.  But I have a feeling it will probably come after someone like Keir Starmer takes over at Number 10 and reminds everyone of why they got fed up with Labour in the first place.

Truss Resigns, Boris Returns

I didn’t expect Liz Truss to be Prime Minister for a very long but I figured that she would at least make it to 6 months.  Instead, she quit after 44 days and brought Labour back from the dead.

For now, everyone knows Boris Johnson is going be PM again by the end of next week, right?

Congratulations to Liz Truss

Congratulations to Liz Truss, the UK’s new prime minister.  She’s coming to power at a difficult time for the Tories but, to her advantage, the opposition is being led by Keir Starmer, who is about as hapless as they come.  If she can hold off the General Election until 2025, she will probably survive.

Regardless of how things for for Liz Truss, I will still be stunned if Boris Johnson is not again leading the Tories by the end of the decade.  He’s younger than the average former prime minister and Boris Johnson does not have the personality necessary to accept just fading away.  As much as they may not want to admit it, I’m not sure that many everyday Britons want him to fade away.  Much like Trump, Boris will always have his admirers and the attempts to turn him into a pariah will only make them admire him more.

My favorite scenario is one that I’ve seen on Twitter and I’m not even sure is legal, i.e. Boris reclaims his American citizenship and runs for office over here.  Boris was born in New York City and had dual citizenship.  He later renounced his U.S. citizenship when he started to get serious about one day becoming Prime Minister.  Can you go back on a decision like that?  I’m not sure and I imagine Boris would have a prohibitively heavy retroactive tax bill waiting for him if he did.  It may not be realistic but, as far as scenarios go, it’s an entertaining one, much like Boris himself.

Watching British Politics In America

It’s always interesting to watch American coverage of British politics, if just because there’s always this tendency to try to find parallels between what’s happening in the two country despite the fact that the two of them have very different political systems.

Whereas only one President has ever resigned from office, it’s actually a fairly common occurrence for the Prime Minister to step down as the leader of their party.  The thing that makes Boris Johnson unique is that he stepped down more due to scandal than to anger over his policies.

In the US, saying that a government has fallen leads to images of violent revolution and military-style coups.  In most parliamentary countries, saying the government has fallen just means that the Prime Minister has resigned and now, a new one has to be selected.

Occasionally, you do hear that the U.S. would be better off if it had adopted a Parliamentary system of government, one in which the party that won a majority in the House and the Senate would be responsible for selecting the head of state.  Considering what happens to leaders who can’t lead in the parliamentary system, I’m guessing that Joe Biden is thankful that we don’t have one.

Lockdown Journal: 4-13-20

Lisa and I are currently watching something called Tarzan in Manhattan.  It’s a late 80s tv movie where Tarzan goes to New York and teams up with a private investigator played by Tony Curtis.  Jan-Michael Vincent is in it, as well.  It’s pretty bad but at least I know what I’ll be reviewing for the Shattered Lens tomorrow.  As bad as this is, I’m glad that we found it before we forced to resort to binging our way through the Police Academy movies on Netflix.  That day will come eventually but we’re still trying to hold it off for as long as possible.

We watched a little of Trump’s daily press briefing today.  A lot of people are upset because Trump said, incorrectly, that he has absolute authority as President.  It’s amazing to watch the people who celebrated eight years of “I have a pen and a phone” suddenly discovering why checks and balances are actually a good thing.  One would hope that they would continue to remember it even after they return to power but I doubt they will.  They’re not really upset about the potential usurpation of power.  They’re just mad that Trump is the one doing it.  America deserves better than it’s getting from both its leaders and its media.

Other than Trump’s press conference, the big political news is that Bernie formally endorsed Joe Biden today.  They had a live stream conversation, during which Biden appeared to be reading from a teleprompter.  Say what you will about Bernie, and I think I’ve made it clear that I don’t agree with him about much, but Bernie doesn’t need a script to have a conversation.  It may not matter, of course.  Trump is such a divisive figure that the Democrats may not need a good candidate to beat him and there are a lot of people who will happily vote for anyone but Trump.  But I still can’t imagine actually being enthusiastic about Biden on any level other than the fact that he’s not Trump.

In the UK, Boris Johnson is out of the hospital.  That’s some good news to end on.

Lockdown Journal: 4-9-20

The latest news out of the UK is that Boris Johnson is out of the ICU and that he’s recovering.  That’s good news, regardless of whether you voted Tory or Labour in the last general election.

Here in the States, there was briefly a flurry of excitement when it was reported that Colin Kaepernick, who has been a free agent since 2017, had been signed by the New York Jets.  It turned out that the story was based on a tweet that was put out by a parody twitter account.  What was interesting was witnessing the number of media figures — the same people who were told we should listen to in times of crisis — who fell for the tweet.  Those of us who have never particularly cared about whether or not Kaepernick was signed to an NFL team have often wondered who Kaepernick’s fans actually were.  Now, we have our answer.  They’re people who work for the cable news channels.

Myself, I never really cared whether or not Colin Kaepernick wanted to take a knee during the national anthem.  It was his right, as an American, to kneel.  At the same time, I also think the NFL had the right not to sign him.  Many people seemed to feel that an NFL team should have been forced to sign him but, even if that was constitutional, it just would have meant Kaepernick would have been spent the past three seasons sitting on the bench instead of appearing in Nike commercials.

Today has been a good day.  It’s been as close to a normal day as anyone could hope for during a pandemic lock-down.  Everything that has happened has really given me a new appreciation for normal days.

Lockdown Journal: 4-6-20

I’ve been so preoccupied with how things are going in the States that it’s just now registering with me that Sir Keir Starmer is the new leader of Labour and Jeremy Corbyn, I presume, is returning to the backbenches.  The American media, for the most part, seems think that, just because Starmer identifies as a socialist, that means that he’s as far to the left as Corbyn.  (Most Americans assumes that the Tories are just as conservative as the Republicans and that every member of Labour is somewhere to the left of Bernie Sanders.)  Going from Corbyn to Starmer is a huge change.

Starmer, I imagine, will be solid but uninspiring leader.  He looks the part and he might bring back a few voters who defected over the Tories, though I’d be surprised if he ever made it into Number 10.  He seems destined to be a rebuilding leader, someone who can presumably repair some damage and lay a foundation that will eventually lead to another Labour government.  It’s hard to imagine him inspiring the same type of emotions that Corbyn inspired.  People either really loved or really hated Jeremy.  Sir Keir Starmer, on the other hand, inspires admiration in some but no real passion.  He’s the type of leader who you elect when you’re looking for someone to bring some normalcy back to the place.  He’s your proof that the inmates are not running the asylum.

The future’s hard to predict, though.  Coronavirus can change everything.  Right now, Boris Johnson is in the hospital and in intensive care because of COVID-19.  I hope he recovers, just as I would hope that Jeremy Corbyn (or Sir Keir Starmer, for that matter) would recover if he was ill.  If something does happen to Boris, it’s hard to say who will step into his place or if that person will be able to hold together the coalition that put Boris into power.

In less grim news, I discovered that I can watch 1st and Ten on Amazon Prime.  1st and Ten was one of the first sitcom to ever air on HBO.  It was about a fictional football team and it featured O.J. Simpson as T.D. Parker.  In OJ: Made in America, there’s a short scene of O.J. recording promos for the new season of 1st and 10 and getting annoyed with his co-star, Marcus Allen.  Ever since I saw that clip, I’ve been wanting to watch an episode of 1st and Ten.  Last night, I watched an entire season and it was almost indescribably bad.  It was, however, interesting to see O.J. play a good guy.  It was a reminder of the affable image that Simpson once had.

The lockdown continues but so far, we’re all keeping our spirits high down here.  Lisa and I have agreed that we’re not going to worry until we find ourselves with nothing left to watch other than the Police Academy films on Netflix.  Once that happens, it’s scary to think about what might follow.


A Good Night For The UK, A Great Day For Me

I’ve been in London, visiting family and friends, since Monday.  When I first got here, it seemed like there was a feeling of doom over the entire city.  My family was worried that, despite polls showing a slim (if tightening) Conservative lead, Corbyn would somehow end up as PM.  Meanwhile, the Corbynistas, of which there are many in London, seemed to be increasingly convinced that, even if Corbyn didn’t score an outright victory, a hung parliament would force Johnson out of power.

Well, it turns out that, as usual, the rumors of Boris Johnson’s demise were greatly exaggerated.  Last night, the Tories not only won the election but they did so in such decisive fashion that the election results can only be interpreted as a rejection of Jeremy Cobyn and the anti-Semites that he has allowed to surround him.  The Conservaties now have 364 seats.  Labour has only 203, which is actually an improvement on the exit poll were predicted that Labour would end up with only 191.  The SNP wiped Labour out in Scotland.

I was up until five in the morning, watching the results.  I didn’t go to sleep until the Tories had their majority.  When I went to sleep, I was feeling very good.  This afternoon, walking around London and seeing dejected and miserable Corbyn supporters bemoaning the loss of the election, I felt great.  Boris Johnson may or may not be a good PM.  I have my doubts about him but he’s not Jeremy Corbyn and for that reason, I am thankful for his victory.

I’ll be returning home to America tomorrow.  I wonder if the Democrats will learn any lessons from Corbyn’s collapse.  I doubt it.

I’m not watching.

I’m not watching the Democratic Debate right now.

Perhaps I should be, considering how much I go on about politics on this site.  But I just can’t summon up any enthusiasm for spending two hours watching those ten clowns answer softball questions from MSNBC.  Anything important that’s said will be available on either YouTube or Twitter, mere seconds after it’s said.  Despite the best efforts of the media to convince us otherwise, it’s been a while since a debate has really been a must-see event.

Unless, of course, it’s last Tuesday’s debate between Boris Johnson and Jeremy Corbyn.  I’ve both watched and rewatched that, quite a few times.  Each time I do, I’m struck by two things.  Number one, Boris Johnson has his weaknesses.  Number two, Jeremy Corbyn is uniquely incapable of taking advantage of them.  Despite his weaknesses, I have no doubt that Johnson will still be PM after December’s election.  Boris Johnson may be an erratic blowhard but at least he’s not Jeremy Corbyn.

As for the Democrats, the expectation tonight seems to be that Pete Buttigieg will be everyone’s number one target because Mayor Pete has surged in recent polls.  I don’t think Mayor Pete is going to be the Democratic nominee but I do think his success is going to keep Biden, Warren, and Sanders from sealing the deal.  To be honest, I don’t think any of the current front runners is going to win the nomination.  Despite the fact that she’s not getting much attention right now, I wouldn’t be surprised to see Amy Klobuchar accepting the Democratic nomination next July.