‘If it’s not raining, it’s about to,’ my friend Campbell said – Camp to everybody in town – with a dispirited sigh as he plunked himself in the opposite chair at our weekly watering hole by the sea.
The good news is that spring is only a couple of months away,’ I said lamely. Just then Vicky, the only ray of sunshine, put down a couple of pints of the golden liquid. ‘Cheers’, I said, raising my glass, it’s sunny somewhere in this world.’
‘Did you follow any of the impeachment kangaroo*) trial in the Senate?’ I asked, knowing that I get a full-blooded opinion from Camp and he didn’t disappoint.
‘It is now clear that the US government has entered a phase that can only be described as fascism.,’ he said, slapping his hand on the table making the glasses jump. ‘We now have a fascist government in power in the US, complete with a dictator in the white house and the supporting Republican party which walks in lockstep behind an autocratic, delusional president and sycophantic executive branch.’
‘Let me see’, I said, checking my smart phone, even though it’s against our code of conduct. ‘Wikipedia describes fascism as a form of far-right ultra-nationalism, characterised by dictatorial power, forcible suppression of opposition and strong regimentation of society.’
‘Well, there you have it’, Camp said. ‘We have far-right nationalism. All you have to do is go to one of the Trump rallies. Everything except the fascist salute. We have dictatorial power as sanctioned by Alan Deshowitz, the old judge and defender of the king. He claimed that it’s ok to abuse the power of the office for the president’s own benefit and in order to get re-elected which is good for the nation. We also have the forcible suppression of opposition as evidenced in voter suppression of African-Americans and Hispanics and we have a strong regimentation of society advocated by the NRA and its nationalistic supporters.’
‘The impeachment trial – if you want to call it that – reminds me of the O.J. Simpson trial in 1995, I said. ‘They had all the evidence, the glove fit, but due to what they called jury nullification, the predominantly Afro-American jury refused to convict one of their own heroes.’
‘Here is a great quote by Fintan O’Toole,’ Camp said, checking his Moleskin. ‘Let the jury consider their verdict,’ says the King in the trial scene in Alice in Wonderland. ‘No, no!’ said the Queen. ‘Sentence first—verdict afterwards.’ With Trump’s trial, there is a refinement on this order: verdict first, trial afterwards, sentence never.’
‘The whole process was a farce and a simple coverup as Carl Bernstein called it. A shame and a sad day for democracy,’ I said.
‘And for America.’
‘And indeed, for the whole world.’
We silently finished our beers looking out at the monochromatic grey water of Howe Sound.
‘Did you hear about Facebook’s latest move. It’s called ‘Off Facebook Activity’ OFA, and it shows how Facebook has access to mountains of personal data which they feed into algorithms which then create profiles for targeted advertising and online behavior. They access your data not through backdoors to computer cameras and microphones but simply by recording every click. Even Stephen King cancelled his Facebook account.’
‘Big brother is watching and another reason why I’m not on Facebook.’
Vicky just then brought us our customary refills and said. ‘Facebook is for old people. My friends and I use ‘Ozone’ and WhatsApp.’
‘We use face-to-face over beers and the phone,’ Camp said.
Just then his phone was pinging and looked at the screen.
‘Sorry, Muriel wants me to bring home a pizza.’
‘Does that mean you ‘ll skip the refill?’ Vicky asked.
‘No way. I’ll just phone in the order and pick it up.’
‘You guys are such hams,’ Vicky laughed.
*) A Kangaroo court is a court held by a legitimate judicial authority which intentionally disregards the court’s legal or ethical obligations.