Trump v Clinton: Pity US voters having to choose between arrogant sleaze or apologist for serial groper
America has a population of just over 324 million people. It says something that out of this colossal and diverse pool of talent, the best they can seemingly get to run for presidential office are Donald Trump and Hillary Clinton.
One of the world's great democracies is facing a choice between a bombastic tangerine-toned, self-confessed groper. And a smug, less-than-honest apologist for another serial groper.
There's a telling still pic from this week's televised debate which says it all. Clinton and Trump, microphones in hand, sharing the stage. They've got that same jaw-jutting swagger. Both are mouthing off at the same time.
They don't even look like politicians.
They look like a couple of ageing crooners doing a Kenny Rodgers/Dolly Parton duet down at their local karaoke bar.
"Islands in the stream
That is what we are
No one in between
How can we be wrong?"
Election 2016. It's all been great entertainment. It's hard to think of another campaign - anywhere - that has been so constantly, stupendously bonkers.
But given that these two are in running for a role that is occasionally defined as Leader of the Free World, it should also be genuinely concerning for the rest of us. Never mind the 'killer clowns' craze that's hogging the headlines. These are a pair of real clowns.
Is this honestly the best America can do?
There are other candidates in the contest, yes, but not much to encourage confidence there either.
Take Gary Johnson, a former state governor who, on being asked his views on Aleppo, casually answered: "What's a leppo?"
There's a wannabe world leader totally on top of his brief...
Which brings us back to Trump. Or The Donald as he modestly likes to call himself.
Not only sleazy. (Make America Grope Again?) But also downright weird.
In the infamous tape recording where he boasts of abusing women, one of the bizarre revelations is of the Trump seduction technique.
Referring to a female target he crows: "I moved on her very heavily. In fact, I took her out furniture shopping... She wanted to get some furniture. I said, 'I'll show you where they have some nice furniture'."
Furniture shopping! There's romance for you.
You can do it, if you B&Q it...
As a female candidate Hillary Clinton should have been able to wipe the floorboards (and the furniture) with the despicable Donald in that TV debate.
But she couldn't because watching in the audience was a grim-faced Bill who some might say has trumped even Trump in the sleaze stakes.
Interestingly the Clintons and the Trumps used to be friends. Meanwhile Trump was with Billy Bush, a nephew of George when that infamous tape recording was made.
The Bushes, the Clintons, the Trumps... they're everywhere. There's no escape from them. A tiny little pool of the very rich and well-connected dominating American politics.
Out of all those millions and millions of other Americans surely there's better than this?
Sadly there won't be soon enough.
The fear is that there might not even be a clear winner in the current race to the White House.
It could be neck-in-neck leaving the way open for the loser to cry foul in this dangerously divisive battle.
Maybe the best compromise would be a sort of job-share arrangement not unlike our own at Stormont.
The Office of the First and Deputy First President. Hillary and Donald in the White House together.
Granted America deserves better that either of them. But Clinton and Trump, they really do deserve each other.
Poor punishment for giving slaves dog's life
Last week in this column I wrote about brutal gangmaster Ioan Lacatus who'd kept 15 slaves in squalor in a cramped house in Portadown while forcing them to work endless hours.
Their passports had been taken from them. As were their wages. They were starving.
At the time of writing, Lacatus hadn't been sentenced.
So what did he get? Two and a half years in prison.
The police who put this piece of lowlife away deserve all credit. But that sentence?
As a friend remarked, you'd get more for cruelty to a dog.
Translink turning the Scrooge on shoppers
In a move to gladden the heart of Scrooge himself, Translink has called for an end to free Christmas parking in Belfast.
Quite right. Can't have families and those with reduced mobility and shoppers who need to cart home sizeable packages getting a free run in the season of goodwill.
Translink complains the increased traffic adds to congestion and slows down bus times.
The company has suggested reduced fares as an alternative.
Next, they'll be telling Santa to let the train take the strain.