There’s no denying that I’m tempted to continue regarding North Korea ruler Kim Jong-un with the amusement with which I have viewed him up until recently, but owe it to myself to remind me that even Adolf Hitler, despite his evil nature, was considered quite the clown.

As is Donald J. Trump.

As is Kim Jong-un.

Now that cannot be good.

The accession of Montenegro to NATO is expected to be completed by the second quarter of this year.

Seriously, I’m beginning to* wonder when the perils of inviting former Warsaw pact countries into NATO will dawn on western leaders.

But I shall refrain from insulting my readership’s intellect by explaining why. Suffice it to say we’re dealing with countries for whom democracy remains terra incognita.

*Truth be told I’ve been asking myself for quite a while (the last time being last December).

Uzbekistan is all the rage

In light of Europe’s two recentmost St. + St. (St. Petersburg and Stockholm) terrorist attacks, you have to ask whether or not Uzbekistan – whence the two alleged perps allegedly originated – indeed is the place to be if you want to make a name for yourself as a Muslim extremist.

I think we have established that it sure as hell isn’t Raqqa.

At any rate we need to acknowledge that terrorist attacks have become a very ordinary element in urban everyday life – whereas cowards, such as myself, go hide in the countryside.

Keep calm and carry on

#EU60 greetings from the affluent, self-sufficient and self-centred north

On a day like today, as Europe celebrates the Treaty of Rome’s 60th anniversary, I shamefully find myself a citizen of a country that, not once, but twice rejected the European Union, due to the emergence of a wealth that it had no intention of sharing with its fellow Europeans.

An egotism that became evident also as Middle Eastern refugees started pouring into Europe, prompting the most selfish and, perhaps, the most xenophobic countries to close their borders. Among which my own, currently priding itself of one of the world’s harshest refugee and immigration regimes, as a confirmation of our double EU dismissal.

Discouraging as it may sound, rest assured, though, that there are those among us who restlessly advocate a Norwegian EU membership, in spite of the nationalistic and isolationist attitudes currently characterising Norwegian politics.

On behalf of those I beg your forgiveness, in the hope that our fellow countrymen will one day be able to consider the world and the choices we have to make without asking “what’s in it for us” – as I’m sorry to say we usually do.

Photo: The European Union and the world. Photo from the European Commission.

So terrorism is a thing now, is it?

I hate to admit this, but scary and absorbing as yesterday’s London events may have been (and they were), one should perhaps own up to the fact that one finds oneself in danger, not of terrorism, but of considering acts of same a very usual order of the day, which is why I haven’t brought myself to share any thoughts on last afternoon’s Westminster incident.

Which I find perhaps even scarier than terrorism itself, much as I sympathise with the victims, those affected – and the United Kingdom herself. Not so much because of the scene, or the country in which it all took place, as the realisation that acts of war and terrorism have become very ordinary elements in modern everyday life – extremely mundane.

It may sound a little unsentimental, but therein, perhaps, lies the real threat.

I don’t know.

Illustration: Houses of parliament in Westminster palace. Blogger’s watercolour, by way of Waterlogue.

Dutch election: Far from convincing

As Europe draws a sigh of relief, there’s arguably little cause for rejoice, as Geert Wilder’s Party for Freedom gains four new seats in the Dutch parliament, according to exit polls – not enough to take up government, but an advancement all the same.

Please forgive my inability to applaud the far-right’s progress, undoubtedly to be seen in elections to come, included Europe’s numerous elections this year. Glad the PVV isn’t taking over cabinet, sure, but:

Worried as hell.

I mean, WTF, Netherlanders, you secured the bastards 19 seats (up from 15)! If anything, an encouragement for far-right parties everywhere.

So I reiterate: WTF!?

Photo: Geert Wilders, founder and leader of the Dutch Party for Freedom. Photo from Metropolico.org’s Flickr account.

From what I understand the outcome of the Dutch election remains too close to call, so here’s hoping Geert Wilder’s won’t come out victorious.

A decade or two ago, however, for a far-right party to win even eight or ten percent of the votes would be outrageous. In today’s extreme society not so much.

Makes you sad, doesn’t it?

Good for you, Scotland!

Much as I’d hate to see the UK break up, last year’s tragic Brexit outcome left the Scots with very few options, as I predicted in the immediate wake of the British referendum.

Which is why I’m glad that today First Minister of Scotland Nicola Sturgeon announced a second Scottish independence referendum, in order to secure the Scots’ continued EU membership.

While harbouring a strong resentment towards the demolition of the United Kingdom, my distaste for a shattered Europe, in times calling for unity, is even stronger (even if I indeed live in a country sharing Britain’s sentiment).

Ideally the situation calls for a Brexit annullment, but I suppose that’s wishful thinking.

The British isles, comprising three sovereign states: Ireland, Scotland and a united Wales-England (Wangland?), of which only the former two EU members. Bloggers own graphics.
The British isles, comprising three sovereign states: Ireland, Scotland and a united Wales-England (Wangland?), of which only the former two EU members. Bloggers own graphics.

At any rate: Good for you, Scotland!

Illustration: Scottish flag with EU stars. Bloggers drawing.

The comfortable indifference

Some 80 years ago the utter madness emanating from the Berlin Reichskanslerei had the world comfortably numb, due to its endless outpour and extremity – rendering the surrounding countries more or less insensitive, until the evil regime directed its anger, aggression and weapons toward us.

The constant madness currently pouring out of The White House seems to have much of the same effect. Certainly we’re outraged, but the scope of President Trump’s apparent craziness is challenging our ability to absorb it all, such as the VOICE (Victims Of Immigration Crime Engagement office) initiative, introduced in the President’s address to the Congress last Tuesday, aimed at serving Americans falling victim to crimes committed by immigrants:

We are providing a voice to those who have been ignored by our media, and silenced by special interests.
– President Trump

Covered by the media, sure, but didn’t really make its way to the public’s attention, which shouldn’t come as much of a surprise, considering the endless stream of crazy moves. So the initiative passed more or less under the radar, drowning in a wave of political madness.

We’ve seen public indignation over families being split due to deportations (a measure held in high regard by some historic characters, too), leaving children orphaned on U.S. soil.

In Norway we pride ourselves with this passage from Norwegian poet Arnulf Øverland’s poem Dare not to sleep, which is something of a favourite in Norwegian discourse:

You oughn’t abide, sitting calm in your home
Saying: Dismal it is, poor they are, and alone
You cannot permit it! You dare not, at all.
Accepting that outrage on all else may fall!
I cry with the final gasps of my breath:
You dare not repose, nor stand and forget

Clearly convinced that recital equals endorsement, yet, unlike U.S. authorities, we don’t restrict ourselves to deporting carefully selected adults, but up to three generations of entire families, based on an untruth once told by one of the grandparents, decades ago – rendering Donald Trump quite the amateur, in terms of inhumane treatment of immigrants.

Innvandrings- og integreringsminister Sylvi Listhaug (Frp). Fotograf: Torbjørn Tandberg.
Norway’s Minister of migration and integration Sylvi Listhaug. Photographer: Torbjørn Tandberg.

Certainly it did stir a bit of commotion, for a day or two. Thing is, however, that injustice is carried out throughout an entire west scared shitless by the unfounded fear that Muslims – among others – harbour animosity against it.

We have, in short, developed into paranoid societies only too prepared to embrace any strongman willing to quench that fear by any means. Granted means we do not necessarily condone, but means just the same, leaving us insensitive to the scale of our own indecency (if not for that of our “enemies”).

So hey: Dare not to sleep!

Because, you know, we do. Americans and non-Americans alike.

Top photo: U.S. President Donald Trump. Official White house portrait.

Honning eller melk? Ja takk, begge deler!

Man berørte visst de lokale godtroendes jubalong her om dagen, etter at statsministeren noe prematurt innledet valgkampen, med fagre løfter om bane, vei og bro i regionen man bebor, mens tilsvarende løfter haglet, både i hytt, vær, øst og vest, ytterst bokstavelig talt – og ante i bunn og grunn at siste ord neppe var sagt.

Er det valgår, så er det. Løftene sitter gjerne løsere enn ellers da, selv om man personlig tenkte det fikk være måte på å overby hverandre, i iveren etter å tømme Oljefondet. Så feil skulle man imidlertid ta.

Ved en inkurie skulle man nemlig komme til å slå på husets TV-apparat, hvor man umiddelbart møttes av følgende syn:

NRK-skjermdump fra Regjeringens pressekonferanse om jernbanesatsingen på Østlandet, torsdag 2. mars 2017.
NRK-skjermdump fra regjeringens pressekonferanse om jernbanesatsingen på Østlandet, torsdag 2. mars 2017.

Kone pone ble varslet om nyheten, og vi ble fort enig om at dette var en pressekonferanse som hastig var blitt sammenkalt, etter en fuktig natt med gjengen (ikke for Knut Arild, da).

Men jo, det er helt sant! “Det største togløftet siden Bergensbanen”, sier de, med løfter om å brenne av 52 milliarder på jernbane – og ett tusen milliarder norske penger på transport som sådan.

Hadde jeg vært like blåøyd som mine optimistiske sambygdinger, ville jeg ha jublet, jeg også, for gudene vet at jernbanesatsingen trengs (selv om jeg finner 52 mrd i slappeste laget). Ulikt dem, er jeg imidlertid pinlig oppmerksom på at det er valgår det er – og at løftene utvilsomt blir fagrere, jo nærmere valgdagen vi kommer.

Men for all del, håpet er lysegrønt, og fins det dem som tar valgflesk for god fisk, skal jeg ikke stå i veien.

Vi fikk oss i alle fall en god latter.

VALGÅR: Ærre her det er party? Faksimile fra VG Nett torsdag 2. mars 2017.
VALGÅR: Ærre her det er party? Faksimile fra VG Nett torsdag 2. mars 2017.

Toppfoto: Raumabanen. Foto fra NSB.