And, as always, dammit, he puts it more elegantly than I did two posts down!
And nowhere is that illustrated better than in the sickly, emaciated condition of what was once the toast of Big Money everywhere - emerging markets! As Jeremy Warner points out in an excellent article in The Telegraph today, around 25-30 years ago:
From Unilever to GlaxoSmithKline, investment plans were turned on their heads. On a hitherto unprecedented scale, capital poured into Brazil, Russia, India, China – the Bric countries – and just about any other developing economy worthy of the name. Low-growth home economies were neglected as all eyes turned East. The corporate charge was followed by an even bigger shift in portfolio investment; everyone wanted a share of the promised riches of the developing world.
I would add the likes of BP who were amongst the first to get their foot in the Russian door in an effort to exploit their natural resources. I can honestly say that at the time I thought it was foolhardy simply because Russia, like many of the other emerging markets, is a kleptocracy with no rule of law and anyone doing business there needs their bumps felt! But at the time Western economies were written off as being past their 'sell by' date and the money-men like a herd of sheep followed the rule of the day - 'go East, young man, go East!'.
However, in effect, Warner reminds us of the saying which is my title to this post:
The idea that China and others could cram into 20 years what it took the advanced economies of the West 150 years to achieve was always fanciful. As the economist George Magnus points out, there are no precedents for populous countries sustaining double-digit growth for more than a 10-year period, yet such fantastical assumptions became the basis for many predictions about China and others.
The reality is that almost everywhere, emerging markets are bumping up against the so-called “middle income trap”, the idea that the first stage of development – where markets open themselves up to global trade, put in place basic infrastructure and adopt Western technologies and systems – is relatively easy, but can only be done once. Eventually, wages start to rise, eroding competitiveness in export markets.
The Chinses, in particular, are bumping up against this rock-hard ceiling and efforts to go upwards and onwards are exceedingly difficult especially if you do not have the legal structures to support it:
The next stage, where nations ascend the value chain beyond commodity manufacturing, is more difficult, as China, with a dramatically slowing growth rate, is now discovering. To achieve advanced economy status you need top-class universal education and training, deep and liquid capital markets, properly functioning tax systems, trusted institutions, exceptional levels of innovation and entrepreneurship, and last but not least, rule of law and rock-solid protection of property rights. You need to know, in the words of Lloyd Blankfein, chairman of Goldman Sachs, that you can sue your own government and expect to get a fair hearing. These are not the characteristics of many emerging markets. [My emphasis]
"Sue your own government", in China, or Russia? Well, you could die trying! Anyway, now the tide turns and the money and the investment is flowing back west, to the good ol' US of A and even to this, Her Maj's 'septic Isle'!
Oh, alright then, let me make my heading somewhat more accurate - 'in which my vague, uninformed gut-feelings concerning Russia are explained with wise and logical reasoning by Sir Anthony Brenton, our former ambassador to Russia'. He does so in today's Telegraph and it is worth reading. I should add quickly, that perusing his 'Wiki' entry indicates that in other areas Sir Anthony is a bit of a prat but on this subject of Western/Russian relations he is spot on.
Let's be honest, Russia is a corrupt kleptocracy run by sundry thugs, murderers and drunks but, and this is important, it was ever thus from Peter the Great onwards. It is, if you like, the Russian way! The Russian people have stoicism way beyond anything most other peoples possess. This is both a vice and a virtue. Yes, it allowed them to soldier on as, half-starved and led by idiots, they finally stemmed the on-rush of German tanks just short of Moscow, but it also means they lack the will to raise complaints and insist on a form of government that will truly put the people's needs first.
'Russia is never as strong as she looks; Russia is never as weak as she looks' is a phrase attributed to three of the greatest statesmen Europe ever produced - Talleyrand, Metternich and Churchill - so it is worth keeping in mind. I have already expressed my suspicions concerning the activites of the Euro/NATO fanatics whose only shared characteristics are their stupidity and arrogance. Anyone with half a brain would know how sensitive Russia is - and rightly so - to the territories that border with it, particularly those with a large number of ethnic Russians in the population. It was madness for the West to stick its nose into Ukrainian affairs. This demonstrated yet again the overweening ambition of the Euro-fanatics and it should be a lesson to us on the western edge of Europe, as it has been to the Russians on the eastern fringe, that the Berlin/Brussels axis is a potential enemy!
Today, Russia has juddered to an economic halt and is set to slide downhill along with the price of oil. They have been given a shove downhill by Western economic and financial sanctions. In the last 24 hours, two of the biggest strategic fools in the world, Obama and Cameron, have boasted of the effects of their sanctions and insisted that they will continue with more of the same. Guess how that plays with the Russian people - and what a boon it is to 'Vlad the Impaler' as he appeals for popular patriotic support.
As 'my new best friend', Sir Anthony Brenton suggests, now is not the time to pile on with more sanctions thus souring relations even more but to work on some subtle and gradual moves to offer Russia a co-operative way out of their difficulties. Yes, there must be a quid pro quo with these discussions but Sir Anthony thinks that 'Vlad', provided he can save some face, might well be tempted by offers of some relief. It would certainly play better with the Russian people who might, just might, begin to realise that they can be a partner with the western powers to everyone's benefit.
In the meantime, 'B'rack 'n' Dave', just shut the fuck up!
Yes, that's you, Michael Fallon MP, and it is no excuse for you to say that every Secretary of State for Defence since Lord Carrington have also been total tits!
If I harboured any doubts concerning my somewhat trenchant view expressed in the post below to the effect that "there is no doubt in my mind that our ruling classes, civilian, military and political are rotten and cowardly and stupid to the core" then his interview on Radio4 this morning crushed them completely. The man is so stupid he actually succeeds in making 'Dim Dave' look rather bright by comparison.
He was being interviewed on the news that he intends to allow women to fight with the infantry. This is a subject I touched upon in my first 'Looneyrama' post a few days ago. Preceding him on the programme was a very shrewd lady who had served for several years with one of the support services units - a signals squadron, I believe. She made clear that the women in her unit were incapable of lifting and carrying the heavy equipment but given that they were a rear echelon formation there was no immediate pressure and the men did the heavy lifting whilst the women did the other tasks.
But as a sceptical John Humphries kept reminding him, there was no such luxury in the frontline where everyone had, literally as well as metaphorically, to 'pull their own weight'. The lady officer had pointed to the experience of a female US Marine who was fanatical in her belief that women could do anything a man could do and was then reduced to a physical wreck by her efforts. All of this was brushed aside by useless 'Fattie' Fallon MP, a man whose stupidity began early in life when he led his fellow University students in a pro-Europe movement!
It was obvious under Humphries' interrogation that he intends to bully the army into lowering the physical standards for infantry selection and training in order to ensure that women can join. May we expect a bevy of resignations from the generals in our high command? Don't hold your breath, they couldn't care less about the 'Toms', all they want is their Knighthoods and Lordships!
Apologies for the somewhat erratic service here at D&N over recent days. Not just "events, dear boy, events" but hectic, time-consuming and tiring events. However, I am planning a calm(-ish) day today and an equally calm(-ish) weekend and I have several matters I wish to unleash on the world - so 'stick around, you ain't seen nuttin' yet!'
I do not pretend to have any detailed or specialist knowledge on the Afghan campaign. However, it became very clear, very quickly, that the whole thing was an A1 cluster-fuck of the first order! When Defence Minister Dr. Reid (doctor of what, exactly?) opined that British troops would be in and out without firing a shot, I feared the worst. And so it turned out. However, in my general reading over the years two names kept recurring - Sir Sherard Cowper-Coles (pronounced 'Cooper-Coles') who was British ambassador in Kabul 2007-2009, and Brig. (ret'd) Ed Butler, formerly commander of 22 SAS and then, in 2005/6 commanded 16 Air Assault Brigade in Helmand. These two men were the ones I saw on Monday giving evidence to the Commons Select Committee enquiring into the whole Afghanistan farrago. From several of the books and articles I have read elsewhere they stand out as critics, not just of the how the campaign was fought but whether, given our resources, we should ever have fought it at all. Both paid the price for "telling truth to power" because Butler retired as a brigadier when, with his incredible service record, he had been tipped as a probable army chief, and Cowper-Coles took early retirement from the Foreign Office in 2010.
Before the Committee both these men told it the way it was, that is, the senior army brass were simply clueless but, under pressure from their advisors with a keen eye on future budgets, they simply kept repeating the mantra - "Crack on, chaps!" The top civil servants in the MoD and the FO were told of the impossibilities but just refused to pass it on to their political masters. The politicians, of course, blundered on in a fairyland of false hopes and cruel deceptions. By way of comparison to today's gutless weasels, Cowper-Coles pointed to one of the very greatest Chiefs of Staff this country has ever been lucky enough to have, Field Marshal Viscount Alanbrooke, who used to tell Winston Churchill - yes, Churchill, the greatest statesman of his age! - almost on a weekly basis, "No, Sir, you cannot do that because it will not work!" with the very definite threat that if his advice was ignored he would resign. Compare that to the likes of Baron Richards of Hurstmonceaux, formerly Gen. Richards and our CGS in 2010, who complained bitterly about the campaign after he had retired with his Lorship safely in the bag! No sign of him resigning and taking early retirement like Butler did!
There is no doubt in my mind that our ruling classes, civilian, military and political are rotten and cowardly and stupid to the core. There are some very hard conclusions to be drawn from that and I will lay them before you later.
Please be aware that - again! - I am out for most of the day tomorrow so I may not post anything until tomorrow night - if I have any energy left!
Sorry, sorry, sorry but yesterday was one of those days! A fairly major shopping expedition was required in the morning and as I was feeling a bit 'crook' I was knackered by the time I got back. So I slumped in my armchair, as you do when you're a chap and you lack all that 'keep on going' that the ladies have, and was slowly driven mad by my ex-best-mate Rupe's news service which simply switched from atrocity to atrocity non-stop. I tried some others but the BBC was the same as Sky. The only slight amusement came from RT, Vlad's pet TV station. I waited and waited for them to report on the overnight news that Vlad had panicked and raised interest rates to 17.5% and that the rouble was sinking even faster than a barrel of oil! But no, it was all bad news from the west that it concentrated on until finally, just as I was about to click off, they announced a story from Mother Russia. At last, I thought, they are going to try and tell the whole truth. But no, up came a braggodocio story of a huge military exercise up near the Baltic - that'll teach those swaggering bullies in, er, Estonia and Latvia! - involving 10, 000 troops and an airborne brigade. I think in future I'll stick to 'North Korea News'!
Anyway, in desperation I clicked over to the 'Parliament live' channel - and that was more or less where my day was finished! I am not, I think, an overly emotional type but after watching the Commons Defence Committee hearings into the whole Afghanistan disaster I was seriously upset, by which I mean that I was spitting with fury and very close to tears. If I had tried to write about it yesterday it would have been even more of an incoherent rant than my usual blog posts. Suffice to say that if a very senior general, civil servant or politican of the 2005+ era had been within reach I would have killed him and done my time with a clear and contented conscience. I have calmed down a bit since yesterday and I hope to write about this a little later today.
ADDITIONAL: Yet more 'sorries'! Another totally unexpected journey is required of me today, all the way to 'downtown' Taunton - such fun! I should be back about teatime and perhaps on the boring-snoring journey I will be able to compose the diatribe I have festering in me before the 'Memsahib' marches me off to a drinks party at six o'clock.
By the way, I am cancelling Christmas next year!
'Ha-ha!', or should that be 'Ho-ho!', anyway, bet you don't know what that is! And if I tell you that it an example of Benesh notation I'll bet you still don't know what it is! Don't worry, it doesn't reflect badly on you because only sad old coots like me with more time to spare than is good for me could be bothered to pick up this unconsidered trifle.
So, let me tell you that for years now, only off and on, mind, I'm not obsessed about it, I have wondered how, or even if, ballet choreography can be notated. Today, feeling even more idle than usual I took a quick dip into The Telegraph obits - well, it reminds me that I'm still alive - just! There, alas, I found a summary of the life of Joan Benesh who together with her husband, Rudolph, developed what is now the standard notation for ballet movement. It is based on the musical five-stave layout and, happily for me because I never understood musical notation either, is even more abstruse so my chances of becoming a ballet dancer have vanished.
See, if you just live long enough and be patient all the great questions are eventually answered. What a mine of totally useless information this blog is!
Your 'Funnies' are up early this morning just in case 'Pops' gives me another bollacking for being late! Actually, the first two aren't 'Funnies' in the joke sense - well, not many of my 'jokes' are! They are real stories from this week's Spectator written by several of their usual columnists describing their most unusual dates. The first is from Toby Young:
About 15 years ago, when I was single and living in New York, I acquired what I can only describe as a stalker. A woman took exception to a newspaper article I’d written and started bombarding me with emails. For about a year, she sent me three or four emails a day, demanding a reply. In one of these emails she claimed to be a columnist for a magazine called Chest Monthly, and that piqued my interest. So I invited her on a date. We agreed to meet in a café and she was quite difficult to spot because, contrary to my fevered imaginings, she was completely flat-chested. I asked her how she’d managed to land a job as a columnist for Chest Monthly. There was a deathly silence as it dawned on her that this was the only reason I’d asked her out. ‘Chess Monthly,’ she said, coldly. ‘Not Chest Monthly. Chess Monthly.’ She stopped emailing me after that.
The next is from Taki who, whilst he might have played tennis and karate for his country, could have shagged for Greece at the Olympics! Which makes this story all the more amusing:
It was around 1972, my father had just had his portrait painted by Salvador Dalí, an old buddy of his, and Dad and I went to the Meurice hotel in Paris where Dalí and his wife Gala unveiled it. We had champagne, Dalí and Dad cracked jokes at my expense, and then the great man asked me what I was doing with my life. I told him I was off to London to try and crack the English scene, journalist-wise, that is. ‘Eh bien, il faut que tu appel la plus jolie de tous, ma cheri…’ He gave me her telephone number and said he would ring her. Two days later, in London, I called the lady and, yes, she was free for dinner. We met at Annabel’s, where Louis, the maitre d’, gave me a hell of a table. She was blonde and beautiful. Her voice was low and she was taller than me, but what the hell. After dinner I took her to my flat in Dunraven Street nearby. Holding her hand in the cab, I noticed it to be twice the size of mine. After some more drinks at home I pounced, but just as I did, I noticed her larynx was — well — as big as a Tiger Panzer. So I fished into my wallet, pulled out a rather large bill, and asked for the truth. Was she… a man? ‘Yes, sweetie pie, I am a hell of a man and all yours,’ she or he said. I gave her a brief peck on the cheek and showed her out. That Dalí, what a card!
That's what I love about 'The Speccie', you get high culture and low life all in one superb, witty magazine - so go and treat yourself to a subscription, it's as cheap as chips!
A little girl goes to the barbershop with her dad and stands next to the chair, eating a muffin while her dad gets a haircut.
The barber smiles at her and says:
"Your gonna get hair on your muffin!
" I know," she says, "I'm gonna get tits too, you dirty old bastard."
A GUY WAS SITTING QUIETLY READING HIS PAPER WHEN HIS WIFE WALKED UP BEHIND HIM AND WHACKED HIM ON THE HEAD WITH A MAGAZINE. 'WHAT WAS THAT FOR?' HE ASKED.
'THAT WAS FOR THE PIECE OF PAPER IN YOUR TROUSER POCKET WITH THE NAME LAURA LOU WRITTEN ON IT,' SHE REPLIED.
'TWO WEEKS AGO WHEN I WENT TO THE RACES, LAURA LOU WAS THE NAME OF ONE OF THE HORSES I BET ON, I BOUGHT YOU THOSE FLOWERS WITH THE WINNINGS, 'HE EXPLAINED.
'OH DARLING, I'M SORRY,' SHE SAID. 'I SHOULD HAVE KNOWN THERE WAS A GOOD EXPLANATION.'
THREE DAYS LATER HE WAS WATCHING TV WHEN SHE WALKED UP AND HIT HIM IN THE HEAD AGAIN, THIS TIME WITH A FRYING PAN, WHICH KNOCKED HIM OUT COLD.
WHEN HE CAME TO, HE ASKED, 'WHAT WAS THAT FOR?'
'YOUR HORSE PHONED.'
IN RESPONSE TO ALL THE RECENT E-MAILS ABOUT MY DOG:
PLEASE BE ADVISED, I AM SICK AND TIRED OF ANSWERING QUESTIONS ABOUT MY DOG!
YES, HE MAULED SIX PEOPLE WEARING BILL SHORTEN, Tony Abbot and Joe Hockey T-SHIRTS,
FOUR PEOPLE WEARING JACQUIE LAMBIE T-SHIRTS,
NINE TEENAGERS WITH PANTS HANGING PAST THEIR CRACK,
THREE FLAG BURNERS, AND A PAKISTANI TAXI DRIVER.
FOR THE LAST TIME ... THE DOG IS NOT FOR SALE !
Right, I'm off back to bed, I haven't been up so early for yonks!
I mean it, this is truly stomach-churning stuff so if you are easily upset then just skip it!
I join with Tom Trinko at The American Thinker in finding the faux-outrage by American - and British - Lefties at what they, with their usual perversion of language call 'torture', when describing what is no more than harsh treatment, as a festering pit of political humbuggery. Yes, two men died by accident but this was at the start of what has become an asymetric global war. Only two dead? Not trying very hard, were they?
This carefully orchestrated shriek, designed by the Democrat party for one purpose only, to inflict damage on the Republicans, is but the second movement of a symphony of moans and groans which began with the hysterical campaign to convince Americans that their police forces are conducting a shoot-to-kill policy against black men despite numerous courts and juries failing to confirm their nonsense.
Mr. Trinko, however, reminds us, not of a hypothetical programme of killing and torturing, but of an all too real one which liberals never mention, in fact, they avert their eyes, and when the subject is raised they simply clap their hands over their ears and eyes and chant loudly, "La-la-la-la-la" until it stops. In his own words Mr. Trinko puts it thus:
On the other hand, there is a real torture epidemic in America. Every year, around 12,000 Americans are legally tortured to death. None of them is guilty of a crime, and, shockingly, people of color are much more likely to be victims than whites. Blacks are nearly eight times as likely to be tortured to death than whites.
These are the unborn babies who are aborted after 20 weeks, when they can feel pain. [My emphasis]
Such late-term abortions are done in one of two ways:
1) Dilation and evacuation (D&E): Where the unborn child is literally hacked to pieces without anesthetic.
2) Saline abortion: Where a saline solution is injected into the womb, and the unborn child is poisoned. Death can take as long as 24 hours, and the solution gives the unborn child burns over his or her entire body. No anesthetic is used.
3) Digoxin injection: Where a massive heart attack is induced in the unborn child via the misuse of the drug Digoxin.
4) Partial-birth abortion: While this is illegal, it’s not possible to be sure it’s not being used due to the lax enforcement of laws related to abortion in America. In this case, the baby is delivered, but when only the baby's head remains in the womb, a tool is used to mush up the unborn baby's brain. Then the skull is crushed.
Where are the thundering editorials in the NYT and the WaPo? Where are the likes of Senators Feinstein and Warren sobbing on the floor of Congress? Where are the heated exchanges on TV discussion programmes? Where are the howls of outrage from the mobs of liberals protesting on the streets?
That's odd, I can't hear or see a thing! "The end is silence."
The controversial writer, and critic of classical music, Norman Lebrecht, slaps a Sachertorte in the face of what passes for high society in Vienna in this week's Spectator. Apparently, all the, er, 'Great and Good' of Vienna gather together on the morning of every New Year's Day in the Musikvereinssaal concert hall and at 11.15am - precisely, verstehen! - the Vienna Philharmonic kicks off on a concert whose programme consists entirely of works by the Strauss family. Yeeeees, quite, and no, I'm not passing the sick bag because I might need it! As Lebrecht puts it, and he, unlike me, knows where-of he writes:
The music is strictly bar-room, written by members of the Strauss family as social foreplay for the soldiery and serving classes in low taverns. Like most forms of dirty dancing, the music rose vertically from barroom to ballroom and was soon performed as encores by symphonic orchestras to dowager purrs of wie schön.
The New Year’s Day concert is an annual jellybox of waltzes, polkas, galops, marches and any old tritsch-trash. It is watched by 60 million people in 90 countries, a triumph of brand marketing over musical substance, with a smiley tag of ‘hope, friendship and peace’. Its cultural value is equal to a double-dollop of tourist kitsch. Harmless, unless you are weight-watching.
Well, fair enough, all countries have their share of cultural oddities that are incomprehensible to outsiders but Mr. Lebrecht is not satisfied with merely giving the Strauss family a whack for inflicting 'cruel and unusual punishment' on Mankind, he is more concerned with the Vienna Philharmonic orchestra itself:
The tradition, however, is decidedly pernicious. This concert came into being as a gift to Nazi criminals, a cover for genocide. The Vienna Philharmonic was quick to sack Jewish and leftist musicians when Hitler came to town. More than a dozen were sent to concentration camps; seven of them perished. The orchestra unanimously endorsed the Anschluss with Germany, exhorted by the conductor Karl Böhm to declare ‘a 100 per cent “yes”’, and proved a willing executioner of cultural cleansing, removing Mahler and other giants from its walls and histories.
But racist revisionism yielded no instant reward. Vienna was downgraded by the Nazis to a provincial capital and the Philharmonic feared losing status. So the players went wooing Baldur von Schirach, the Vienna Gauleiter, a lover of music who would send 65,000 Viennese Jews to their deaths.
From 1941 the New Year's Day concert became an annual event under Nazi control. Post-war it continued but with its, er, unfortunate antecedents well buried! Alas, in 2013 some poke-nose historian dug up all the dirty washing and hung it out to dry:
The Nazi origins were suppressed until last year when a historian discovered that the Philharmonic had given its ring of honour to six mass-murderers, including Schirach; the butcher of Holland, Arthur Seyss-Inquart; and the head of Reich railways who ran the trains to Auschwitz. Those honours weren’t revoked until 2013 and some of the criminals could be seen attending Philharmonic concerts into the 1960s.
Old habits die hard, particularly in central Europe, and so today, despite there being a law against sexual discrimination there are only seven females playing in the orchestra amongst a roll-call of 130 players. Asian and female winners of competitions that earn them the right to play with the Vienna Operatic orchestra are forbidden to play with the Viennese Philharmonic. Apparently they have faced some protests on their occasional tours to the USA but never, ever, has there been a boo or a hiss on New Year's Day in Vienna. Well, if you can sit through three hours of Strauss waltzes and schmaltzes you obviously have a brain made of Sachertorte!
For the benefit of perhaps my puzzled American readers let me give you the full lyric:
Oh, The grand old Duke of York,
He had ten thousand men;
He marched them up to the top of the hill,
And he marched them down again.
And when they were up, they were up,
And when they were down, they were down,
And when they were only half-way up,
They were neither up nor down.
I think that is a fair summary of the, er, strategy of the US Commander-in-Chief. Troops in, troops out, troops up, troops down - er, but only for training purposes, you understand, even if all that training carried out at vast expense and risk over the past ten years proved to be totally useless when the Iraqi army threw down (or more likely sold!) its American arms and ran at the first sight of a nasty ISIS fighter who shouted 'Boo!' at them.
To be fair, I think the Yanks caught the 'Grand Old Duke of York' syndrome from us because we're at it, too. Today we hear that 'Dim Dave' is sending hundreds of British troops to Iraq to carry out yet more training. Quite why any Iraqi soldier would pay the slightest heed to a British army that performed so miserably during Iraq II beats me. I also heard the other day that despite being technically broke, 'Dim Dave' is paying a small fortune to build a Royal Navy base at Bahrein. Now I speak as one of the last, er, 'defenders' of Bahrein having spent nearly a year living in a tent at the end of runway #2 at the airport. It's true that my service was, er, less than distinguished - although, darlings, my tan at the end of it was superb! - and that the greatest enemy I faced were the sodding microbes that regularly gave me a dose of 'Delhi belly', but still, 'I did my bit'! Needless to say, shortly after I left, HMG withdrew from the Persian Gulf so all my efforts were in vain!
Now, determined to hang on for grim life to American coat-tails, they are set on spending a few billion quid to go back - just as they are reducing army numbers, RAF aircraft and the Royal navy, in desperation, is seriously considering refloating HMS Victory:
To be accurate, I gather that a great deal of this retraining exercise is aimed at the Peshmerga, the military wing of the Kurdish people. I know nothing about the Peshmerga but I am prepared to bet the deeds of the house that they are a bunch of hairy rapscallions who, when it suits them, will turn their our weapons on us. When it happens, 'the Grand Old Duke of York' in Washington will be 'pained, I tell you, pained' - well, actually he won't because he will have retired to the nearest golf course by then!
I am, slowly but surely coming to the conclusion that all our leaders, 'over there' and 'over here', are living on Planet Zog and smoking dope!
Well, not literally, of course, given that he was hanged by the neck in 1962, but perhaps in the 'literary' sense now that a second major book has been published which takes on Hannah Arendt's famous Eichmann in Jerusalem: A Report on the Banality of Evil (1963). Her challenger is Bettina Stangneth, a philosopher based in Germany, and her recently published book Eichman Before Jerusalem: The Unexamined Life of a Mass Murderer.
I should make clear that not only have I not read either book, I have absolutely no intention of ever doing so. Both have been praised for their scholorship, even if they reach different conclusions, and there can be no doubt as to their historical importance. However, call me 'Mr. Wimpy' but there are just some subjects which I simply cannot stomach.
Arendt's summation of Eichmann's industrial scale slaughter as "the banality of evil" offers a seductive description of an otherwise inexplicable life to those of us who have never 'been up front and personal' with evil on such a monstrous scale. Yes, we can comfort ourselves by saying, he was just another pen-pusher, a jumped-up clerk with no imagination and therefore incapable of sensing the ocean of blood through which he was wading.
But Ms. Stangneth will, apparently, have none of it. Not only did Eichmann know full well what he was doing, he was an enthusiastic and tireless advocate for even greater efforts to exterminate the Jews of Europe once and for all. Apparently, some of her material came from recorded interviews that took place post-war in Argentina between Eichmann, who had taken refuge there, and a Dutch pro-Nazi contemporary of his called Willem Sassen.
Marc Parry has written a particularly interesting article in the Chronicle of Higher Education which, amongst other things, explores the traumas suffered by Sassen's daughter as she grew up and discovered her father's hidden life and associations.
I have numbered the heading to this post because I am going to try and collect the daftest daft things our leaders can, and do, dream up from the bottom of their brains which, of course, reside in their bottoms! I fear that I could be into triple figures by Christmas so I will try to discriminate and only bring you the best of their worst. However, do feel free to e-mail me if you accidentaly tread in an example of some authoritarian excreta whose stupidity is worthy of record. Anyway, here are two examples from our very own Westminster ninnies.
It has been decided that women will now be allowed to serve as infantrymen. Even more stupid, the British army will follow the lead of the Canadians and Americans in making no special provision for seperating barrackrooms. Needless to say, our utterly useless generals, concentrating as they always do on their future pensions and their chances of a Lordship, have caved in to this stupidity without a murmur. The only good thing I can see in this preposterous idea is that the 'Toms' will save some money in the local pubs by not having to spend in their efforts to 'booze 'n' boff' the local tarts when they have 'hot 'n' cold running bimbos' available back in their barracks. Of course, some young 'Toms' who would otherwise have served with a clean record will now face years in the nick for rape because, 'er, well, like, 'I'd 'ad a few pints, I was 'orny and it was there, know wot I mean?' It will also be amusing (not!) to hear the re-action of the two men in a three man mortar team (or whatever the equivalent is these days) when their girlie can't actually carry the base-plate up to the top of the mountain ridge. I think our MPs deserve a dose of EIT!
My second exhibit in the Looneyrama gallery also comes from our political dimwits who are suddenly all in favour of giving votes to 16 and 17 year old children. Needless to say, if there are to be changes to the voting age they should have agreed to raise it to at least 21, or, and I know this is a minority view, to 75! Yesterday there was a staged performance with some 'kiddie-winkies' asking questions of some frumpy woman who is, I gather, the Minister for Education. Needless to say, the 'kiddie-winkies' chosen to appear were all frightfully 'naice' and middle-class and obviously from some rather super schools that their parents had probably cheated the system in order to get them in. None of them looked or sounded like the rough 'n' ready 'Herberts' and 'Herbetts' who slouch out of most secondary 'skools' these days. But,as always, the Labour party are quick to see the chance of introducing a new range of political dummies on whom they can rely for an unthinking vote.
ADDITIONAL: Forgetful old fart that I am, I meant to include this looney story which was mentioned on either Rupe's News or the BBC this morning. Apparently it came from a research exercise that proved men were dumber than women. One of the examples, and I do hope it is true, was a terrorist who posted a letter bomb but failed to put enough stamps on it so it was returned to him. He opened it - end of!
As my older readers, and my archive checker, 'JK', will confirm, I have long maintained that it will probably be Italy that acts as a catalyst for the final disintegration of the euro. However, as Peter Oborne tells us in The Telegraph, they may need a little help from their friends like Greece. Even so, the end is not only nigh but absolutely and definitely inevitable!
It [Marxist theory] elegantly explains why European Monetary Union was destined to fail. The state socialists and former communists who invented the euro never got to grips with this aspect of Marxist thought. Only Conservatives with an intelligent appreciation of economics and history – an enlightened congregation that included Margaret Thatcher, Oliver Letwin, Peter Lilley, Tim Congdon, John Redwood, Nicholas Ridley and Alan Walters – grasped that the EMU would collapse under the weight of its own contradictions, and that it was folly to construct a single currency before the political conditions were in place.
Meanwhile the European elite who advocated the euro (British representatives included Michael Heseltine, Peter Mandelson, Tony Blair, Ken Clarke, Nick Clegg and Danny Alexander, at the time only a cadet member of the European political class, so perhaps the chief secretary can be forgiven) ignored all warnings. Indeed, Lord Mandelson is still advocating British membership!
The fact that it is the philosophy of Karl Marx which spells out the errors in the euro currency phantasy is simply too, too, delicious! Peter Oborne lays on the lash with real feeling:
It is impossible to exaggerate the arrogance, the bone-headed stupidity and above all the brutality and callousness of these Europhiles. Their demented attempt to impose a new economic model on an unworkable political structure has already caused untold suffering. At the heart of their project is an audacious attempt to prove the primacy of politics over economics. Bear in mind that it is an experiment for which the European elite personally do not have to pay a price.
Even so, it has amazed me that the people of Europe, particularly 'the Meds', have been so docile for so long:
The Italian economy is moribund, social cohesion has vanished and Italians are starting to turn venomously on immigrants. The Greek economy has shrunk by 30 per cent, and one quarter of the population is out of work. Youth unemployment in Spain stands at an unspeakable 50 per cent.
We are talking about tens of millions of ruined lives, and busted dreams. This reality has already brought about a convulsion in Europe. Entirely new political parties have emerged, from the far-Left and far-Right, brought into existence by a common scream of despair against a broken system.
The fact that many of them are turning to extremists parties of the Right and Left is very worrying - we have been here before! Oborne predicts that the break-up is not far off and that when it occurs the likes of Greece, Italy and Spain will depart but, more interestingly, he suggests that France will swallow its (not inconsiderable) pride and join together with Belgium and a few others to form a new country under German leadership - what I have been calling for years the New Frankish Empire! Here's the Old Frankish Empire:
I bow to Peter Oborne's very much more superior knowledge but I'm not sure the French would go for yet another surrender to Germany. In my opinion, they are more likely to try and form a coalition of 'the Meds' - led by them, of course! Anyway, the end of the euro is fast approaching and the soner the better. If it begins before next May then 'Dave' and the Tories will be a shoo-in!
Tuesday night, slumped in my armchair and idly clicking around on my 'magical-do-flicker-thingie' I came across a real 'baldy-bonce' called Prof. Jim Al-Khalili. Well, I'm not surprised he's bald because his brain cells must be leaping about beneath his skull at a ferocious rate. This man is a serious swot!
I immediately took to him because of who he was not! That is, he was not Prof. Brian Cox, 141/2, the BBC's usual swot of choice. I resent the fact that Prof. Cox looks so young but more, much more, I am infuriated when the juvenile geeks who design his programmes fill the screen with noisy, pointless cgi effects. By and large Prof. Al-Khalili avoids that sort of thing and instead uses wit, eloquence and intelligence to inform us of the profound mysteries of quantum mechanics.
My admiration for him and his programme was sealed when he actually made mention of a book I read some 35-years ago which had an enormous effect on me. It's fair to say that The Dancing Wu Li Masters: An Overview of the New Physics by Gary Zukav had a profound effect on my internal life, or, if you prefer the current jargon - 'it blew my mind away'! Scientifically, it's almost certainly out of date by now but I treasure my dog-eared edition. And I should add, of course, that both then and now I had considerable difficulty in following the science but - heh! - even Neils Bohr and Albert Einstein, the two greatest 'brain-boxes' of the 20th century had major problems, too. They both disagreed fundamentally with each other's theories on the quantum world.
Part of what fascinates me is not so much the description of the quantum world, or the various theories proposed to make sense of what is apparently a bizarre or even lunatic description of what passes for 'reality' at that level, but the border between our world of tangible objects behaving rationally and measurably, and the quantum world where things both are and are not! Remembering, of course, that all the things in our world are made up of the things from 'loony-land'.
The programme was on last Tuesday evening on BBC4 so if you have one of those i-pod, i-pad, i-pud, or whatever they are, you may be able to watch it now. The second and final programme is on Tuesday next week. Not to be missed! Julia Raeside in 'The Graun' has written a very good review of the first programme.
It doesn't matter how old and cynical you get, we all cling to a few shreds of fairytale magic. One of mine is 'El Sistema', the movement in Venezuela which, allegedly, encourages boys and girls from the slums of the main cities and towns to take up classical music training and aim for a place in the world-acclaimed Simon Boliva Youth Orchestra. I still remember a TV programme from a few years back which showed some of these kids from a small provincial town struggling to school each day with their musical instruments as well as their school books. It was a heartening sight.
I should have known better at my age! The other day I read - and alas I cannot remember where - that the whole programme is riddled with 'kiddie-fiddlers' who use their power as musical and instrumental teachers over these aspiring children to indulge their paedophile tendencies. I cannot judge the truth or otherwise of those accusations but there are certainly two schools of thought as to efficacy of 'El Sistema' and whether or not it lives up to the image that suckered me!
Geoff Baker in 'The Graun' complains bitterly of the ultra strict regime imposed on the young, 'wannabe' classical musicians calling it a tyranny and he has written a book backing up his complaints. Meanwhile, Ivan Hewitt in The Telegraph points out that the whole business of producing classical music depends utterly on strict discipline by the players. So, you pays your money and you takes your choice - and both articles are worth reading. But, alas, I will never quite look at 'El Sistema' with the same rose-tinted spectacles!
Well of course not, it would ruin her very expensive hair-do, or is it, dare I suggest, a wig? Well, I think it must be because the thrice-married, old bat is now 81 years old.
Before I begin I should make clear that my hard-hearted title does not refer to situations in which the hostages are held in territory controlled by us, for example, the Iranian embassy seige in London in 1980. In those circumstances there is a compelling political imperative to carry out a rescue operation because no government could allow such an affront to its authority. However, even then the well-being of the hostages is secondary to killing all the perpetrators and regaining command of home territory.
However, when it comes to hostages held prisoner in lands controlled by our enemies then the political imperative changes. Most hostages in foreign lands are there because they chose to place themselves in areas where such an outcome was a reasonable threat. They do so for a variety of reasons, some because they allowed their humanitarian instincts to overcome their commonsense, others because of their desire to pick up a scoop story for the media, and some because they are stupid enough to sail their yachts anywhere near the East African coast!
As always - well, it should be always but often I wonder - the political rules the operational. By 'political', of course, I mean national strategic interest. Needless to say, most politicians when using the word 'political' mean what's good or bad in it for them! Thus, President Obama, no doubt encouraged by his very top 'brass' who, as always, were eager for kudos in the media and thus leverage for increased military budgets, was equally eager for a 'happy-clappy' Christmas story that would help burnish his rust-eaten credentials as a president. And so, a week ago the order was given to attempt the rescue of two hostages held in Syria.
Big Fail! Both hostages were murdered and the only good news was that the team managed to get in and out without casualties, and that a dozen or so Islamist fighters were killed. So the question must be asked, why risk the lives of your own servicemen on missions which are doomed to failure before you even begin? After this fiasco I heard an interview with an old CIA hand who had operated in the Middle East for years and who had been involved in trying to plan similar rescue missions. In effect, he said they were all a complete waste of time and effort because the chances of success were minimal. He sounded like a man who knew where-of he spoke!
However, there might be occasions in which hostages might actually be useful as a catalyst for operations. Of course, they would be, so to speak, 'operations which dare not speak their name'! Where hostages are gathered means that some enemy forces are also gathered, as guards, if nothing else, and if they are of sufficient size and importance, and even more so if some senior commanders are also present as well, then they might constitute a target worth attacking. Whether or not the hostages are actually rescued - probably not! - is of very low priority. The important thing is that their presence demands the presence of enemy fighters as guards who then may be worth attacking and killing. Apart from anything else, if such attacks were kept up it might make the job of being a hostage guard very unpopular!
Meanwhile, please will our leaders just give up on chasing the cheap headlines! Ah, take that as a 'no', shall I?
I carefully placed a question mark at the end of my title because what I know about South Africa could be written on a postage stamp! However, it is the implied conclusion of Andrew Kenny in The Spectator. Correctly, in my opinion, he chastises the 'sainted' Nelson Mandela for failing to stay in the job of president for much longer in order to set South Africa on a better political, economic and social course. Yes, his great act was to ensure that no great blodshed occurred after white rule ended but a truly great leader would have had a wider and deeper vision. Instead, he handed it all over to some real third-raters:
His successor, Thabo Mbeki, ruling from 1999 to 2008, was a neurotic racist with intellectual pretensions. Like Robert Mugabe, he worshipped everything European while deeply resenting it. His racism led him to believe that Aids, then decimating the black population, was caused not by the HIV virus but by some sort of imperialist machination. His denial is estimated to have cost 300,000 lives, nearly all black. (Today 11 per cent of South Africans are infected with HIV.)
Jacob Zuma, the president today, is corrupt, incompetent and likeable. He has no political ideas and simply implements the ANC’s prevailing ideology. He is a master at manipulating the party machine. Staying in power is his only ambition. He has survived scandal after scandal. He rewards political allies through an immense system of patronage, and has composed an enormous cabinet where a multitude of ministers, mainly useless, receive huge salaries. Unlike Mbeki, he is proud of his African culture. He boasts of his many wives (all big, strong, black mammas) and delights in dancing in leopard skins, disporting the big belly that marks the traditional African man of substance. His personal demeanour is humble and endearing. Helen Zille, the leader of the official opposition, the Democratic Alliance, was once railing against his abuse of government. The interviewer said: ‘But he’s very charming.’ Zille sighed and said wistfully, ‘Yes, I know.’
The result has been a disaster whose full development has yet to be felt - and my American friends faced with a similar movement 'over there' should take note:
The worst feature of ANC rule has been the continuation of racist policies — Apartheid Part II. They are called ‘Affirmative Action’ and ‘Black Economic Empowerment’. Both promote ‘demographic representivity’. This is the belief that at every level of employment, the percentage of the races should be the same as those in the total population. Since whites are now only 9 per cent of the population (down from 11 per cent when Mandela came to power in 1994), whites should not consist of more than 9 per cent of engineers, managers, doctors and maths teachers. Black Economic Empowerment, which is simply legalised corruption, states that all companies wishing to do business with the government must hand over a proportion of their ownership to black people. Naturally the black people in question are always connected to the ANC: relatives and chums.
In other words, South Africa is headed for the knacker's yard and it is only a matter of time before the genuinely poor in the townships take what passes for the law into their own hands!
And talking of law brings me to the strange case of Mr. Shrein Dewani which came to a conclusion today when a white, lady judge dismissed the prosecution case against him which had maintained that he had arranged the contract killing of his new wife. As it happened I was slumped in my armchair this morning and inbetween snoozing off every so often I actually listened to a great deal of the judge's analysis. If even one quarter of what she said about the chief prosecution witness was true then that unfortunate man obviously missed his true vocation as a politician because he lied, and lied, and lied again, and then, well, he lied some more! Not, I hasten to add, that he was alone in his lying. Mr. Dewani, the acused until this morning, didn't just tell lies - he lived them! He was an active homosexual in the habit of practicing his tastes upon European homosexual prostitute circles.
The South African justice system has only just recently provided some delicious irony when a black lady judge reduced the charges laid against the white 'crip' runner who shot his girlfriend several times through the bathroom door so that he is now serving a fairly minimal term in jail. Today, we had a white lady judge, dressed in all the scarlet finery of a British judge and presumably basing her analysis on British common law, setting free an British Indian accused of arranging the contract killing of his new bride. From what I heard of her summary, she was absolutely right to do so even if it went against all received opinion.
I should hasten to add that I have no view on the rights and wrongs of these various cases because I know virtually nothing about them. Still, I am impressed that amongst the shit and corruption that is modern South Africa, the judges seem determined to maintain their independence irrespective of the howling of the mob.
Of course, there is only one piece of news of any importance at the moment and that is the fact that the Duke and Duchess of Cambridge, aka, Will 'n' Kate, are attempting the impossible by trying to raise the social standards of 'Noo Yawk'! Yes, I know, a Herculean task but, dammit, they're British so I know they will try their best.
However, I have only just found out that my Arkie e-pal, 'JK', has via the, er, 'good offices' of Barney Magroo - who somehow managed to get the contract for supplying the booze fine wines to the royal reception - aquired a much sought after invitation to this event. The people of Arkansas will be watching JK's behaviour in the presence of the royal couple with some anxiety because the honour of 'Arkieland' rests on his ability to curtsy properly! This might sound easy but after several shots of Magroo's Finest Grand Cru - brought to full maturity in the cellar for at least two hours! - even standing upright is tricky to master, let alone putting one leg behind the other and then bending the other knee.
Then, of course, there is the ritual of greeting the royal couple. I must remind 'JK' that throwing an arm around both of these young people and hollerin' at Will, "Yeeeeeeeeeeee-haw, ain't she got the finest pair of tits north of Little Rock!" is unlikely to get you an invitation for Christmas at Buck House!
I jest, of course, because everything I read of graceful Southern manners makes the behaviour of the average Brit look downright gruntish. So, 'Noo Yawk' - and 'Arkieland' - enjoy!
Oh God, now I've got 'Pops' in a comment thread below nagging me because the Monday Funnies are late! Quite right, of course, and I have no excuse except galloping inertia. So, no excuses, let's 'crack on'. This first is disgracefully 'Australianist' and no doubt I will be visited by the Aussie Race Relations Board:
An English tourist was driving through the Outback when he noticed a man
on the side of the road having sex with a kangaroo.
A few kms further on, he came upon a small Outback town, parked his car and
went into the pub for a drink. He grabbed a beer and had a look around the bar
and noticed a one-legged guy sitting in the corner masturbating without a care
in the world.
The English tourist turned to the barman and said:"What sort of country is
this? A few kms down the road there was a guy having sex with a kangaroo and
that guy in the corner is masturbating in full view of everyone.
The barman said, "You heartless Pommie bastard. He's only got one leg. How
do you expect him to catch a kangaroo?"
A police officer pulls over a speeding car. The officer says, ' I clocked you at 80 miles per hour, sir.'
The driver says, 'Christ, officer I had it on cruise control at 60, perhaps
your radar gun needs calibrating.'
Not looking up from her knitting the wife says:'Now don't be silly dear, you
know that this car doesn't have cruise control.'
As the officer writes out the ticket, the driver looks over at his wife and
growls, 'Can't you please keep your mouth shut for once?'
The wife smiles demurely and says, ! 'You should be thankful your radar
detector went off when it did.'
As the officer makes out the second ticket for the illegal radar detector unit,
the man glowers at his wife and says through clenched teeth, 'F..k it, woman,
can't you keep your mouth shut?'
The officer frowns and says, 'And I notice that you're not wearing your seat
belt, sir. That's an automatic 75 pound fine.'
The driver says, 'Yeah, well, you see officer, I had it on, but took it off
when you pulled me over so that I could get my license out of my back pocket.'
The wife says, 'Now, dear, you know very well that you didn't have your seat
belt on. You never wear your seat belt when you're driving.'
And as the police officer is writing out the third ticket the driver turns to
his wife and barks, 'WHY DON'T YOU SHUT THE FUCK UP??'
The officer looks over at the woman and asks,'Does your husband always talk to
you this way, Ma'am?'
(I love this part....)
'Only when he's pissed.'
THIS IS A FRIGHTENING STATISTIC, MOST PROBABLY ONE OF THE MOST WORRYING IN RECENT YEARS
25% of women in this country are on medication for mental illness.
That's bloody scary.........
It means 75% are running around with no medication at all...
And now, to make up for my earlier idleness, a selection of 'quickies':
This chick looked at my beer belly last night and sarcastically said, "Is that Corona or Bud?"
I said, "There's a tap underneath; taste it and find out."
I mean, when you are over sixty, who gives a shit?
I was telling a girl in the pub about my ability to guess what day
a woman was born just by feeling her boobs.
"Really" she said, "Go on then...try."
After about thirty seconds of fondling she began to lose patience and said,
"Come on, what day was I born?"
I said, "Yesterday."
When you are over sixty, who gives a shit?
I got caught taking a pee in the local swimming pool
The lifeguard yelled at me so loud, I nearly fell in.
When you are over sixty, who gives a shit?
I went to the pub last night and saw a fat chick dancing on a table. I
said, "Nice legs."
The girl giggled and said with a smile, "Do you really think
I said, "Definitely! Most tables would have collapsed by now."
Honestly, when you are over sixty, who really gives a shit?
Right, that's it, get on with your work - and that includes you, Pops!
I think 'Rupe' has it in for me. I told you some time ago that I had fallen out with my ex-best friend, 'Rupe' Murdoch, because I could no longer keep him, his various progeny and the increasing number of younger and younger wives in the style to which they all aspired , so I cancelled my Sky subscription. However, I still receive Sky News via the Free View Service channels which I am forced to watch because the only alternative is the BBC - yeeeeeees, quite! Mind you, Sky News is becoming so atrocious that I am seriously thinking of watching that English-speaking Russian Service. Yes, of course it lies but Sky News isn't much better. For the past few weeks, Sky have been referring to Michael Brown as "an unarmed teenager". Ah, poor baby, shot dead by that nasty policeman. But of course a correct and accurate description of the late Mr. Brown, who was 18 years old and thus qualified as an adult, should have read as 'a 20 stone criminal adult with numerous previous convictions who had just robbed a small store using violence against an Asian man and who resisted arrest, again with violence'. I know, I know, it takes longer for the news reader to say it but it gives the audience the facts of the matter.
This morning, suffering with a few twinges and twangs, I slumped before my TV and switched on Sky News only to see - SHLOCK-HORROR!!! - two of the most odious people in public life - David Mellor and Polly Toynbee. The first has just been exposed for what we all suspected years ago, that is, he's a pompous, stupid, bad-tempered, ignorant, fat pipsqueak. 'Poll', of course, is an A1 hypocrite of the first order in that she never stops inveighing against 'the rich' who avoid taxes whilst her own considerable wealth is held in an off-shore trust - just like Miliband's!
Then there was the endlessly repeated story about how many buildings in Britain fail to make adequate arrangements for 'crips'. Well, I'm heading towards the 'crip' condition but I don't expect special arrangements to be made. If they are not, then I will not go there, it's as simple as that. And I certainly don't want to hear the moans and groans from the 'crips' repeated every fifteen minutes!
Then there was another tediously repeated story about some jack-the-lad builder who went to Prague on a stag night weekend and disappeared. His family and friends have now descended on that city in an effort to whip up interest amongst the Czech inhabitants and their police force. Fair enough, I suppose, but, in a very deep and fundamental way, do I give a stuff and do I want the story repeated endlessly on my TV?
Incidentally, and to prove that humbuggery is alive and well in the South West of Britain, it is possible, as I indicated above, that over the next few years I might qualify as a 'crip' myself. I can't wait! All those decades of me spitting blood and nails because the 'crips' always get the best parking slots in the supermarkets but soon, perhaps, I will be able to glide into that privileged area and wave two fingers at the rest of you as you go round and round the car park trying to find a slot - heh, heh, heh!
Er, yes, of course, a very merry Christmas to you all!
Or, to be precise, racism found him! Incidentally, this post reeks of irony but not all irony is humorous and as this tells the story of the murder of an innocent man I hope to avoid any sort of jocularity. This week has seen to two stories concerning the deaths of black men at the hands of whites - policemen, as it happens - whipped up almost into a national crisis. That deeply unlovely pair of agitators, Jackson & Sharpton, have led the way followed by the lynch mob that is the MSM in America these days with 'President Pussy' traipsing along behind chipping in his unhelpful tanner's worth.
Meanwhile, in Oakland, California, Mr. David Ruenzel, a white man, but not just any old white man, in fact, a writer for the Southern Poverty Law Centre and a life-time activist on behalf of black Americans against white injustice, was setting off on a walk through a well-known nature reserve - when two black men shot him dead and robbed him! Waddya mean you never heard nuttin' about it?! Of course you didn't, because it doesn't fit the narrative, see, so the WaPo and the NYP and CNN could not be less interested - but fortunately The American Thinker was. As for the likes of Sharpton & Jackson, what do they care, even if Ruenzel was, so to speak, one of theirs, a lifetime supporter of black agitation, the fact is, he was white so, hey, who gives a shit? And as for expecting a few words from on high by President Superior, well, don't hold your breath!
Personally I cannot help wondering what passed through Ruenzel's mind when he turned and saw those two black men approaching and drawing their guns? Not, I suppose, a moment to relish the irony!
I can only raise a glass of good cheer to agree with Andrew B. Wilson's article in The American Spectator today entitled "Thanks, Hirohito, We Needed That". This day in 1941 the Japanese leadership, as mad and perverse in their way as the Kaiser's Germany in 1914, made a calamitous decision born out of fear, arrogance and a total, unthinking belief in the 'wisdom of experts', in this case, military experts. They launched their attack on Pearl Harbour which was a total failure despite the apparent destruction wrought upon the American fleet - because they missed the carriers!
Naval officers round the world simply could not agree on the debate between the relative values of the carrier versus the battleship - and this despite the battle of Taranto almost exactly a year before when the British launched the first ever naval air attack on the Italian fleet and destroyed it! All doubts were settled six months after Pearl Harbour at the battle of Midway in which American naval airpower sank four out of six Japanese carriers. It was not just the loss of the ships and planes that hurt the Japanese but the irreplaceable loss of hundreds of highly experienced aircrews.
I was only 21/2 at the time of the Japanese attack but I'll swear I felt and remember the huge sigh of relief that swept across Britain when we realised that, at last, we were not alone.
Yesterday I was trying to work out my reaction to Vlad's latest speech which seems to have had scant coverage in our media. I had more or less come to a conclusion but then this morning my 'postie' delivered my Spectator and, lo, there was an excellent article by a proper expert on Russian affairs, Anne Applebaum. She suggests that Putin is conducting a series of 'experiments' which began in Georgia when the Russian army went in to occupy several provinces and continued when he decided to annex the Crimea followed by a somewhat disguised annexation of eastern Ukraine.
In my opinion, he is 'playing at soldiers'. He fancies himself as a great Russian emperor who can and will apply armed force to his neighbours in order to achieve his aims. The problem is that whilst he seems to have mastered tactics and has an understanding of the operational, he has very little understanding of the higher levels of statecraft - grand strategy and global geo-strategy. And when it comes to the exceedingly complex subject of global market forces, he hasn't a clue!
He has 'strutted his hour upon the stage' to the gushing delight of the Russian suckers people but, alas, just like him and his regime they have absolutely no idea of market forces and their effects. No reason why they shoud, I suppose, given that they have been virtual prisoners for almost their entire history. Their so-called leaders do not understand market operations any better because virtually none of them have ever tried it. They simply stole and plundered on a grand scale the former state-owned enterprises and from which they then bribed and threatened their way to greater wealth which they promptly syphoned off into various illicit cash havens well away from poor old Mother Russia. Vlad more or less turned a blind eye - provided he and his apparatchiks were paid off - not just with money but with votes at each and every election.
When Vlad 'stole' the Crimea - and I should add that in my opinion he had some valid reasons for doing so given the stupidity and arrogance of the Euro-fanatics in Brussels - he might have got away with it because it was obvious at the time that no-one was too keen to slap fierce sanctions on a country as powerful as Russia. But like gamblers everywhere he could not resist pushing his luck, not least because both he and his equally economically illiterate henchmen simply did not undestand the outcome of a serious ratcheting of the sanctions programme which has now taken place. Also, they were hit with a double whammy when the price of oil dropped like a stone to the bottom of their now redundent oil wells:
This week the rouble, which has lost a third of its value in three months, slid by 9 per cent in a single day. A recession is now predicted. Inflation is predicted too, as high as 8 or 9 per cent. A controversial but long-planned pipeline construction has been abruptly cancelled. Major Russian banks are asking for government loans. Russian companies which earn in roubles and borrow in dollars are suddenly in trouble. Capital has been swiftly flowing out of the country, and some banks are rumoured to be limiting withdrawals. There are so many rumours about capital controls that the prime minister, Dmitri Medvedev, has explicitly denied them.
Also, tucked away in a mumbled passage at the end of his speech was a plea from Vlad to his oligarchs to repatriate the cash they have stashed abroad and he promised - no, really, really promised, honest, 'on me muvver's eyes' (oops, sorry, that's East London not East Europe!) that he would instruct his tax authorities to ask no questions. Well, that should go down well with the Russian working class as they face higher taxes and poverty - again!
Russia is an economic basket-case and will remain one for as long as it takes for them to understand free enterprise conducted under the open rule of law - so don't hold your breath! However, it is also an enormously powerful military force - not as powerful as they think they are - but the do have a lot of military muscle. So far they have stepped carefully but sooner or later, I suspect, economic and political pressures from the 'Home Front' might cause Vlad, who is not really very bright, to do something silly - and dangerous!
My title, of course, comes with an IRONY ALERT!
I have had six goes at typing $18 trillion but after the first seven noughts I get confused and then my eyesight isn't good enough to count them all and I just know if I am one nought out 'JK' will be on me in a shot! Anyway, my American friends, this is just to tell you that $18 trillion is what you owe and come the day Barney Magroo's, er, 'family' who left the liquor business decades ago and moved into high finance will demand ever bigger and bigger interest rates in case you rat them out! Although, of course, you can't rat them out because your entire country would look like Detroit times a hundred!
As it happens, Zero Hedge features an article explaining some of the Big Lies the pols tell you about your national debt, for example, the last time that an American government actually decreased the debt was back in Eisenhower's day! Since then the pols have spent and borrowed and spent some more and then borrowed some more - and you suckers voted for them!
Alas, speaking of suckers, I don't know why I bother straining my eyes across the Atlantic when there are several million of them on this Island here. Our National Debt just topped £4 trillion. Yesterday we had to endure the sight and sound of sundry lying liars telling us that they were going to build zillion-pound tunnels under Stonehenge, motorways to here, there and everywhere, Dave's high speed trainset is still going ahead and ... and ... well, I can't go on, I might begin to weep!
And before you Brits leap in here to damn this, that or the other politician, just ask yourself what chance any British political party would stand at the election if it advocated privatising, say, just half of the National Health Service so that people would have to pay for many of its services? Yeeeeeeees, quite!
Now look here, chaps, I'm not going to allow any more of that knee-jerk, Anglosphere, anti-French prejudice! Not everything the French do is bad; yes, I grant you, most of it is but they do have their saving graces. One of them was announced recently by Her Majesty's Daily Telegraph and it will be of particular interest to all you flatulent, farting Anglos, Aussies and Arkies - I do not include North Carolina because it is obvious that my e-pal 'Whitewall' is a gentleman of the old school who would walk ten miles to ensure that the whiff of any escaping, er, gas, shale or otherwise, was kept well away from his delicate lady wife.
Anyway the good news is this:
A Frenchman has developed a range of pills aimed at making people’s flatulence smell sweeter - of chocolate or of roses - which he says will make the perfect Christmas present.
The 65-year-old artist and inventor says his pills are aimed at easing indigestion and are made of 100 percent natural ingredients such as fennel, seaweed and blueberries.
Crikey! "Fennel, seaweed and blueberries", I can feel my tummy rumbling already! However, M. Poincheval, knows where-of he invents:
Mr Poincheval said he came up with the idea for the pills one evening when he was enjoying a hearty meal with some friends.
“Our farts were so smelly we were nearly suffocated. Something had to be done,” he said.
So he began researching natural ingredients that would reduce flatulence and after months of experimentation came up with the recipe for his pills.
Gosh, if only I had known I would have volunteered to be his, er, test-bed, or to be more accurate, the 'Memsahib' would have volunteered me on the spot! Anyway, just in time, M. Poincheval, has produced this year's 'must have' Christmas gift:
For this year’s festive season he has added a new product to the range which he has titled “The Father Christmas fart pill that gives your farts the scent of chocolate”.
Commenters, do please try and take this seriously, or at least remember that it is me that does the jokes round here!
Grim and depressing though it is, I have been reading Ruth Dudley Edwards fairly regularly since (to use a typical piece of 'Oirish' mendacity) 'the troubles' began in Ulster. To be honest myself, ever since Tony Blair poured bullshit over the whole sorry tragedy in an effort to smother the damn thing out of existence, I have gone along with the farrago that give or take the odd murder here or there, as you do in Ireland and Ulster, things have more or less settled down. Wrong again!
Northern Ireland's 15 years of devolution have left it frozen in loathing and distrust
That is the headline to Ms. Dudley Edwards' piece in The Telegraph today which sums up the situation exactly. The dangers are not alleviated by our own two leading parties holding their noses and sucking up to yesterday's murderers:
The Tories are wooing the DUP, who could have ten seats after the next election, so although the proprieties must be observed, in practice, where politically possible, what the DUP want, the DUP will get. Labour, meanwhile, are being seduced by Sinn Fein, who are friendly with the trades unions and hope for six seats next time. If the bribe was big enough, they could be persuaded to take their seats.
More and more I incline to the view that we, the English, should just rid ourselves of all those whingeing bloody Celts, over the sea and over our borders, and just get on on with looking after ourselves.
This reproduction lark is quite amazing. No matter how carefully various 'elders and betters' try to arrange matters the result is the equivalent of throwing a pair of dice! Take Prince Charles, for example, not the brightest light inside 'Buck House' and I suspect he is the sort of man who is often defined as 'meaning well', and we all know what a menace they can be! His coupling with Princess Diana was not so much a marriage as a bit of royal breeding with the prize bull eventually choosing a suitable heifer from the herd of upper-class 'gals' then available. Not the least of her attractions from the Palace point of view was that she was too young and immature to have any history! Mind you, to Charles' surprise, I think, she soon developed and became both very tough and very fragile.
Anyway, the result of this odd couple's coupling has been two Royal Princes who, against all the odds, seem as near perfect for their roles as it is possible to be. William seems a quietly intelligent young man who is at home in this ghastly modern world whilst managing to retain the best virtues of the old English gentry. He had the very good sense to marry the daughter of sturdy middle-class parents who started their own business and built it up to be a very prosperous, going concern. Kate seems to have her very elegant feet firmly on the ground which is exactly where her prince also stands.
Harry, of course, is straight from Central Casting for the role of second son. He is up for anything, most of it good, like fighting in Afghanistan or trecking across Antarctica with wounded servicemen, and some of it exceedinlgy naughty like rave parties in Las Vegas - the lucky sod! But through it all you sense a serious young man, perhaps not quite as serious as his brother, but aware of his larger responsibilities. I hope he continues to enjoy his life and amuse us as he does it. As children, both these young men suffered the trauma of losing a young and beautiful mother. Perhaps it served to remind them that their life is not totally frivolous.
I really don't know what is going to happen to my country in the first half of this century. At the moment the centrifugal forces are at work and many of the ties and relationships which once seemed unbreakable, are gradualy weakening and disintegrating. Of course, our Royal family can do nothing to stop it but at least by conducting themselves responsibly they may perhaps add a foot to the brake. The role of these two young men could be critical.
It's an absolute disgrace! Desert Island Discs has been running since around 1784, give or take the odd century, and literally thousands of 'slebs' have been invited on by the BBC to choose the eight records they would take with them to a desert island. And yet ... and yet ... they have never asked me!
So, as my adoring public is gagging to know what musical gems I would choose - if asked! - then here they are in no particular order.
Beethoven's Fifth: This is Beethoven out-Beethovening Beethoven! If, as we all do from time to time, you feel a bit out of sorts, down in the dumps, just plain fed up - then give yourself a dose of Beethoven's Fifth and at the end of it you will be marching round the room waving your arms and feeling an exuberence beyond description.
Shostakovich's 2nd Piano Concerto: This piece of music, especially the second movement, comes under the rather technical definition of 'knickers off music'! I promise you, give the missus or the girlfriend a glass of wine or three and play the second movement and in a mattter of seconds there will be panties on the floor - possibly yours but what the hell! Actually, dear old Dimitri wrote several much greater pieces of music but for various reasons I have a soft spot for that one.
Tchaikovsky's Fifth Symphony: Just a few weeks back I heard the BSO playing it at the Poole Lighthouse. I think poor old Pyotr went a bit barmy when he wrote (or tried to write) his Fourth Symphony which is an almighty mess in my untutored opinion. But with his Fifth (and the Sixth, too) he got it all together and produced Mother Russia in music.
Frank Sinatra: "Songs for Swinging Lovers": Any track will do but if you held a gun to my head I think it would have to be 'I've Got You Under My Skin' by Cole Porter. As you will have probably guessed, that album was a backdrop to some of my youthful, er, activities.
Elgar's Cello Concerto: There are no words I can use to try and define the intensity of feeling in this piece of music, just listen to it - and weep! As Tchaikovsky speaks for Russia, so Elgar speaks for England.
Modern Jazz Quartet: Almost any of their tracks but my favourite is "Softly, As In a Morning Sunrise". John Lewis was a true giant amongst jazzmen not least because of the restraint he frequently showed in his piano playing.
George Gershwin: Piano Concerto: There are several American composers I could have chosen but this piece sums up for me my early - and perhaps naive - impression of America. Of course, it only 'illustrates' one small part of America - 'Noo Yawk!' - but that's enough for me.
Smetana: River Vltava: The first piece of music I heard at around the age of 14 which suddenly made me realise that, although I couldn't be bothered with it then, I knew that I liked classical music. Some fifty years later I had the great pleasure of sitting by the side of that great river with Smetana's melodies floating in my head.
OK, that's my eight choices and if forced to pick just one, well, it would have to be Beethoven's Fifth.
A few posts back I pointed to the geo-strategic poker match being played by the Saudis and the Americans. The price of oil has dropped hugely, mostly as a result of a global lack of demand but also due to the USA dropping further and further out of the market as they satisfy their domestic demand from the shale oil deposits in their own backyard. I suggested that the aim of the Saudis is to facilitate the price drop until it destroys America's shale oil industry. However, courtesy of 'SoD' who sent me the link, 'A E-P' in The Telegraph suggests that the Saudi's bluff can, and probably will, be called:
Saudi Arabia and the core Opec states are taking an immense political gamble by letting crude oil prices crash to $66 a barrel, if their aim is to shake out the weakest shale producers in the US. A deep slump in prices might equally heighten geostrategic turmoil across the broader Middle East and boomerang against the Gulf’s petro-sheikhdoms before it inflicts a knock-out blow on US rivals.
I confess my error in thinking that much below $70 a barrel and the American shale oil deveopers would be in severe financial trouble. 'It ain't necessarily so', according to 'A E-P':
US producers have locked in higher prices through derivatives contracts. Noble Energy and Devon Energy have both hedged over three-quarters of their output for 2015.
Pioneer Natural Resources said it has options through 2016 covering two-thirds of its likely production. “We can produce down to $50 a barrel,” said Harold Hamm, from Continental Resources. The International Energy Agency said most of North Dakota’s vast Bakken field “remains profitable at or below $42 per barrel. The break-even price in McKenzie County, the most productive county in the state, is only $28 per barrel.”
Efficiency is improving and drillers are switching to lower-cost spots, confronting Opec with a moving target. “The (price) floor is falling and may not be nearly as firm as the Saudi view assumes,” said Citigroup.
In the meantime, of course, a whole swathe of lesser oil producing nations across North Africa, West Africa and South America will quickly be reduced basket-case conditions, and those of them already under attack from Islamist fanatics will soon lack the means to defend themselves.
Oh dear, more "interesting times"!
And first of all - 'Pinch, punch, first day of the month, no returns, white rabbit'! For the first time in decades I actually beat the Memsahib to it this morning. Anyway, I trust there has been no Ferguson-style riots in the workshops of the world because my Monday Funnies are late - "events, dear boy, events".
A man goes into a restaurant and is seated. All the waitresses are gorgeous. A particularly voluptuous waitress wearing a very short skirt and legs that won't quit, came to his table and asked, "What would you like, sir?"
He looks at the menu and then scans her beautiful frame top to bottom, then answers, "A quickie."
The waitress turns and walks away in disgust.
After she regains her composure she returns and asks again, "What would you like, sir?"
Again the man thoroughly checks her out and again answers, "A quickie, please."
This time her anger erupts and she reaches over and slaps him across the face with a resounding SMACK! and storms away.
A man sittng at the next table leans over and whispers, "Um, I think it's pronounced QUICHE !"
A drunken man walks into a biker bar, sits down at the bar and orders a drink. Looking around, he sees three men sitting at a corner table. He gets up, staggers to the table, leans over, looks the biggest, meanest, biker in the face and says:
'I went by your grandma's house today and I saw her in the hallway buck-naked. Man, she is one fine looking woman!'
The biker looks at him and doesn't say a word.
His buddies are confused, because he is one bad biker and would fight at the drop of a hat.
The drunk leans on the table again and says: 'I got it on with your grandma and she is good, the best I ever had!'
The biker's buddies are starting to get really mad but the biker still says nothing.
The drunk leans on the table one more time and says, 'I'll tell you something else, boy, your grandma liked it!'
At this point the biker stands up, takes the drunk by the shoulders looks him square in the eyes and says....................
'Grandpa,.......... go home!'
And now some great Truths all the way from that philosophers' paradise, er, Australia - eat your heart out Vienna!
1. Light travels faster than sound. This is why some people appear bright
until you hear them speak
2. A fine is a tax for doing wrong. A tax is a fine for doing well.
3. He who laughs last, thinks slowest.
4. A day without sunshine is like, well, night.
5. Change is inevitable, except from a vending machine.
6. Those who live by the sword get shot by those who don't.
7. Nothing is fool proof to a sufficiently talented fool.
8. The 50-50-90 rule: Anytime you have a 50-50 chance of getting something
right, there's a 90% probability you'll get it wrong.
9. It is said that if you line up all the cars in the world end-to-end,
someone from Queensland would be stupid enough to try to pass them.
10. If the shoe fits, get another one just like it.
11. The things that come to those who wait, may be the things left by those who got there first.
12. Give a man a fish and he will eat for a day. Teach a man to fish and
he will sit in a boat all day drinking beer.
13. Flashlight: A case for holding dead batteries.
14 .. God gave you toes as a device for finding furniture in the dark.
15. When you go into court, you are putting yourself in the hands of
twelve people, who weren't smart enough to get out of jury duty.
In any play or film or TV series there is one man, or very occasionally, I suppose, a woman, who stands taller than all the stars, the directors, the moguls and the bloke who sweeps the set - and that is the writer! Of course, the others have the negative ability to ruin what might have been a masterpiece but, in the first instance, it is the writer who creates the potential for a creation that will live in the memory.
So it is a sad fact that according to Thomas W. Hodgkinson - no, me neither, but he is a writer who appears from time to time in The Spectator and that's good enough for me - confirms what I have felt personally for some time and which other 'show biz' insiders have confirmed, that is, that Hollywood, in the 'Big Screen' meaning of the word, have demoted writers in favour of 3-D and cgi effects attached to fantasies which only kiddie-winkies under the age of six would ever take seriously. In fact, the use of cgi effects is to remove at the click of some nerd's mouse all realism and therefor all believability and all tension.
In addition, as I found out to my cost the last time I visited my local cinema, the unwary customer has to sit through these ridiculous inventions which make English panto seem real and undergo torture by means of sound effects designed to shake your dental fillings loose. I know where-of I write because, back in the day, when I was an army interrogator we used to bang-up our 'lab rats' in a sound cell in which they were bombarded with rock 'n' roll at brain-scrambling volumes. (Er, we did encounter one big fail when a couple of SAS types were found inside jiving with each other!)
Now, according to Mr. Hodgkinson, the good writers are departing for the other end of LA where the TV series are produced and where good writing is still valued. Hence the fairly steady production of TV series of some considerable merit, in which the human condition in a variety of situations is explored via comedy or tragedy or a mixture of both. It is also interesting to find that many of the stars, who are generally as thick as a stage door but who recognise good writing because they have to deliver the words, are following the good writers over to the TV series producers. Alas, in my mean-minded grumpiness I have fallen out with my ex-best friend, Rupe, and I no longer have Sky TV but I read the crits and if there is anything good on the go I simply wait until the box set appears. As they only seem to cost about the same as one month's viewing on Sky I reckon it's a good deal.
But Hollywood, get a grip, and go back to making proper films for grown-ups!
I am nudged into this post by my e-pal, Michael, who in a comment to the post below vehemently disagrees with my suggestion that, in effect, politicians are us. I can understand his 'Shlock-Horror' given that so many politicians are more or less total A1 shits of the first order. Surely, we all say as we shudder, we're not like them. Sorry and all that but oh yes we are!
It's another version of 'Dubya's famous "vision thang" but using the word 'vision' in the strict sense of seeing. The fact is that we 'see' politicians on an almost daily basis and because we have political opinions we find ourselves disagreeing with at least half of them and dismissing them as fools and poltroons. Also, because we live in democracies our pols are watched fairly closely and in the end any bad behaviour usually floats to the surface like a 'you-know-what'!
Now, just suppose for a moment that the people who live in your neighbourhood - including you and yours! - were placed under the same glare of public scrutiny on a 24-hour, 365-day basis. Oh my, what secret naughtinesses would be displayed. And in some cases, the, er, 'naughtinesses' would be nauseating! Of course, in a sense it doesn't matter because by and large our neighbours do not have power over us which is why, on the whole, we leave them alone with their secrets and they leave us alone with ours.
Unfortunately, and despite our fervent wishes that it wasn't so, we need politicians. That has been the way of the world since Man began to congregate. The ability to be a great politician is an exceedingly rare gift, so most of them are second-raters - or worse! They undertake it for a variety of reasons which cover the gamut of human strengths and weaknesses. Most, more or less, fail! Some get lucky - I think of Churchill who was by general opinion up to WWII dismissed as a totally untrustworthy, romantic buffoon.
Now, my e-pal, Michael, seems to say that we can do without politicians. Not so, Michael, alas, someone has to stand up on the platform with the levers of state power before them and take public responsibility for the outcomes. Without them there would be chaos - or dictatorship. The most that 'We, the People' can hope for is a chance at regular intervals to turf the rascals out. Nor should the hideous difficulties of coping with those immense responsibilities be ignored. Matters of war and peace, of economic probity, of social justice and so on are not easy and rarely clear cut. They require judgment, cunning, intelligence and experience. Would you really trust those sorts of decisions to the bloke who lives next door? Perhaps more to the point, would he want to go within a mile of them?! He might sound off in his local bar or, dare I say, on his blog!, but actually taking on those sorts of responsibilities would concentrate his mind wonderfully!
No, I'm sorry to say that we really do need the rascals but of course we should take every opportunity to hurl rotten veg at them and, when we see them on a platform, pace the late, great Auberon Waugh, insist that they show us their willies!
And so we bid farewell to the utterly obnoxious Andrew Mitchell MP. Whether or not he did call 'PC Plod' "a fucking pleb" I do not know but I will rely on the ruling of a 'Justice Cocklecarrot' who heard all the evidence and decided that he did. Actually, I don't know what all the fuss was about because, bar about 0.05% of the population who make up the aristocracy, we are all plebs. What demonstrated Mitchell's qualification as a yob as well as a pleb was his loss of control and his stream of foul language aimed at those who could not answer back.
Alas, celebrations to rejoice in the disappearance of this "sweaty, stupid little shit’", a term I borrow from David Mellor yet another former Tory, er, 'toff' who used it as part of a tirade against a taxi driver, might be premature because apparently Mr. Mitchell, 'Pleb', has decided to stand again in Sutton Coldfield at the next election. I trust the good voters there - where ever it is! - will treat him with the contempt he undoubtedly has for them!
Still, this tale of megalomaniac conceit does provide some belly-clutching laughter for us plebs. First of all, if Mitchell's big gob, uncontrolled by his tiny brain, spewed forth, say, fifty words in his tirade, then given the £2 mil damages and legal fees he owes then that cost him £40k a word! So there goes the London house, then! But even richer, in all senses of the word, is the news I read somewhere that Mitchell's lawyers failed to lodge certain legal documents with the court in the time limit required. This means that they can no longer claim any fees from Mitchell. All those of us who, over the years, have had to put up with legal incompetence from our lawyers in the handling of documents when we sell and buy a house, will instantly plan to broach a bottle of bubbly tonight!
And it was those sneaky Arabs who snipped his braces and left him with his trousers round his ankles. Alas, his embarrassment has not be assuaged by the sight of 'Vlad the Impaler' similarly clutching hold of his trousers with one hand whilst vainly shaking his begging bowl with the other.
To be precise, it was the Saudis who, despite the pleadings of several small oil producing countries, decided not to cut their production in an effort to force the price of oil higher. The good news is that the Marxist crooks who run Venezuela almost burst into tears, and Mother Russia has had a nervous breakdown! Of course, the Saudis who are sitting on gargantuan mountains of foreign currency holdings can afford to play a long game, particularly as it will force the Americans to, as it were, 'get real!'
American shale oil has has been a critical - although by no means the only - reason for the world glut of oil and the subsequent drop in price. It has made America almost oil-independent and it has been mooted, although President 'Dumbnuts' has not been able to make up what passes for his mind, that the USA would again become a global exporter of oil. However, the Saudis know full well that below $70 a barrel, the high costs of producing shale oil would bankrup this emerging industry. If large scale bankruptcies were to occur in this industry which has, in true American style, grown on the back of borrowed money the seismic shocks would reach into the heart of the financial industry, too.
Of course, one possibility would be for President 'Dumbnuts' to stop pouring in all that government money to the Greenie-loonies and their ridiculous and mostly crooked enterprises and instead divert it to the shale oil industry which would keep America oil-independent. (To be fair, I am not pushing that policy hard because I haven't thought it through and, by and large, I am against governments using their citizens' money to prop-up industries.) However, the Saudis have demonstrated, not for the first time, that they are determined to hold the whip hand over global oil supplies. Today they are playing hard poker and, alas, poor old 'Dumbnuts' in the White House is quite incapable of playing even Ludo!
I should add that according to the experts the drop in oil prices is not only due to over-production but also to a lowering of demand from China, Japan and Europe. Anyway, whatever the reason I am delighted at the price drop because my little Toyota Yaris gives me an average fuel consumption of 65 miles per gallon of diesel and that is the reason why everytime I park it in my carport I kiss its little bonnet - even if this has led to some rumours amongst my neighbours!
Well, it's no good me scribbling about American matters, all my American pals are lying in bed today groaning with a combination of hangovers and over-eating indigestion following yesterday's celebrations. Thus, I will concentrate on Dave's long-awaited 'Big Speech' in which he told us through the pursed and determined lips of his little mouth that when it comes to immigration, er, 'he gets it'! Welcome to the club, Dave, and how long has it taken you to, er, 'get it'? I would suggest sometime during the past few months when UKIP surged and, 'like a hanging in the morning', your mind was suddenly and wonderfully concentrated. Forgive me, Dave, if the frequent tilting up of your chin during the speech, probably in compliance to your body-language coach, failed to convince me utterly!
There are two huge problems hanging over the entire exercise you propose. First, and I confess my lack of expertise, I would suggest that much of what you propose concerning the rules and regs for European immigrants will be anathema to quite a large slice of EU nations - not to all but to quite a number. Thus, since you have been fairly detailed (honest?) in telling us your aims, any watering down will be seen as a 'Big Fail'! At that point, the Apocalyptic Question arises! Carefully, you specify that in the event of the negotiations breaking down you said, "I will rule nothing out'" Oh, Dave baby, what a little tease you are! Actually, being as I am, something of an admirer of real-politik, I think those words were well chosen. Of course, it confirms my belief that you are not to be trusted further than I can piss into a gale but, heh!, we all knew that anyway.
So now, 'Kippers', it's over to you! You have six months to achieve two aims. First, to put the electoral fear of God (or perhaps that should read 'fear of the voters!) into all those shaky Tory seats. Dave has been shifted as far as he will go prior to voting day but the more Tory MPs you can pressure into moving to his Right the better. But, dammit, you have yet another and perhaps even more important duty to carry out for your country - get very, very busy in all those working-class Labour seats! Your motto is simple - 'Anyone - Anything - But Ed!' The Brussels apparatchiks will be watching this next election very, very carefully and they will hope that the Tories fail - 'Juncker the Drunker' has already placed his champagne in the chiller-cabinet! So go to it, 'Kippers', keep Dave in and keep Ed out!
ADDITIONAL: Guido has an interesting report based on one of Lord Ashcroft's privately commissioned polls. Ashcroft's polls need to be handled with care because he detests the current Tory leadership. However, this one is concerned with 'Milipede's own seat in Doncaster North where it is possible, if UKIP and Tory voters stick together in tactical voting, that 'Ed the Fratricide' will lose his seat - oh dear, what a pity, never mind! Similarly, the 'Kleggeron' has only a 3% lead in his constituency of Sheffield Hallam. Do it, 'Kippers' and urge your local Tories to help!
Not much time this morning except to sound the alarm bells. This is the headline in The Telegraph:
Scientists say Britain will experience three times as many heatwaves as it does now by 2100
You have been warned and as this emanates from the, er, 'distinguished' Royal Society you have no excuse for failing to rush out NOW and buy up all the Long Johns, woollen underwear, sweaters, snow boots and fur coats you can lay hands on! Alas, the latter-day Royal Society is about as scientific as Meg the Magic Medium!
None of us quite knew what we were getting when Barack Obama first became president but now we have a rough idea. I try not to criticise his foreign policy because from the outside looking in it's impossible to be sure of the ramifications about which we only learn if we live long enough to read the history books. Suffice to say that at the moment it looks confused and bewildering. His main domestic policy stands or falls on 'Obamacare' in which he invested the full weight of his presidential authority. I cannot comment because, like most Americans, I suspect, I simply don't understand it. Only time will tell but I fear the worst!
However, there is one area of his reign which can be assessed with confidence and that is his policy on black/white race relations. Big Fail! Given his own mixed blood antecedents there was a hope that he would use his office to move both blacks and whites out of the past and into a new and better future. It never happened, in fact, it was the opposite that gained traction during his reign. It has become clear that he was from the beginning a more or less willing prisoner of the progressive Democrat party whose leaders have invested heavily in the establishment of a black underclass whom they have succeeded in keeping in poverty whilst filling them with an unrequitable feeling of resentment and entitlement. Needless to say, they keep telling their black suckers that their only hope of receiving these unearned entitlements is to keep on voting Democrat - and they do, despite the evidence of crumbling destruction in all those many big cities which have been captured by the Democrat party for the past few decades - think Detroit!
A truly great president might have had the courage to tell it the way it is by telling the truth to his poor black constituents, something along the lines of, get a haircut, get a suit, get a job, get a wife, get a child, stick together as a family and earn what you deserve, don't ever expect it to be given to you! And above all, stay legal because if you break the law it will descend on you with a vengeance, not because you are black but because you are bad! Well, of course, I don't really think he would have said any of that but he could have used his power and oratory to begin to shift poor blacks back into the real world. He could have pointed to the very many middle-class black families who by their own efforts have worked hard and prospered.
That he more less willingly allowed himself to be captured by the Marxist apparatchiks in his regime tells us all that he is not very intelligent but more importan that he is a feeble man. He has ignored Machiavelli's precept that a prince must choose between being loved or feared - and feared is best! Obama is simply despised.
Facts? Are you crazy? Nobody wants those pernicious, awkward, irritating, pesky, damn things that always ruin a good story! But, alas for the American media, Barack Obama, Eric Holder, Al Sharpton, Jesse Jackson and all those thousands of dimwitted black Americans who swallow the soft pap served up by racial agitators, there were nine twelve(*) 'good men and women true' in the peace and privacy of a grand jury-room who had to spend months confronting the facts of the shooting dead of Michael Wilson by policeman Darren Wilson in Ferguson, Missouri, in order to determine if the officer had acted improperly and should therefore face charges in a court.
They had to work their way through mountains of detailed forensic evidence which might have strained the brains of a science graduate. They had to collate and compare huge numbers of witness statements that were self-contradictory, some of which were later withdrawn and some of which were obviously pure (or impure!) fantasy. Meanwhile, they had to try and clear their minds of the poisonous fog of innuendo that poured out of the American media - and which continues today even after the verdict. Thus, as just one example, Michael Brown is always and forever described as either "a black teenager" or "a black unarmed teenager". True as far as it goes and it instantly establishes an image, and in these highly politicised events, image is all. No media outlet that I have seen has described Michael Brown accurately as 'a black, 6'-5", 20-stone, violent criminal who had just used force to rob a shop-owner". No, no, you can hear sundry Leftie editors complaining, that's too much information, the dopes who read our trash can't take all that in and anyway it's the wrong image.
Happily, those nine jurors did have to face the facts and they decided quite sensibly that if such a violent behemoth charged at you with obvious malice aforethought you would have every right to use whatever means to defend yourself. Not only was Officer Wilson doing his duty he was also a brave man.
American blacks have been badly treated by American whites through their history. However, in the '60s and '70s, with an extraordinary, galvanising effort the whites, as a whole, recognised the error of their ways and aquiesced in a revolution to right the wrongs of the past. At the time I sympathised with the blacks and rejoiced at their emergence into the uplands of legal, social and political freedom. Alas, it didn't last very long because very soon the black political class demonstrated that they were as evil and corrupt as any southern plantation owner. Ever since they have leeched off the black body-politic imbibing their electorate with a festering sense of grievance and entitlement. In this they have been aided and abetted by a particularly disgusting white section of society made up of equal parts of soppy, stupid sentimentalists and ruthless, Marxist agitators who hate America. Both these deeply malign elements fester and reproduce constantly in the American media.
It is with gloomy, not to say, grim, foreboding that I view Obama's decison to throw the American gates wide open to millions of South American Hispanics. There is nothing like fighting a fire with petrol!
(*) CORRECTION: I suffered a touch of 'brain fade' and confused the nine jurymen who constitute the minimum required to stop any legal action being taken against Officer Wilson whilst, of course, the jury is actually 12-strong. Mea culpa!
Yet more larceny on my part as I shamelessly steal this witty cartoon which illustrates a bitter article by Roger L. Simon at PJMedia. The news is that the 'wily oriental gentlemen' who command in Iran continue to run circles around the likes of John Kerry and the Obama sycophants (oh, alright then, the Obama suck-ups!) who staff the State Department these days. Yet another extension is about to be granted to the Iranians as they drag out the so-called negotiations on their nuclear activities for yet another extension - six months? six years? 'til hell freezes over? or until the earth resembles hell as it dissolves into the white heat of a nuclear wasteland?
It seems to me that in the order of priorities it is Israel that has the greatest threat to face from a nuclear-armed Iran although given that it has the ability to return with interest anything that Iran might hurl at it gives it a modicum of security. Actually, it is the Sunni Saudis who might find themselves under the most immediate threat from the Shia Iranians particularly as both of them arm their various mercenary satraps to fight - and slaughter - on their behalfs.
The next group who should be feeling distinctly uneasy are the Europeans. As Simon emphasises, the Iranians are pursuing with vigor a programme to develop an ICBM ability - like him, I wonder why and who is it that they might point them towards? The one nation which in its (hopefully!) superior sense of total security is America, and that might be why Obama and his useless glove-puppet, Kerry, are so relaxed about these pointless talks.
For me, the bellwether on exactly how serious, or not, the Iranian programme is developing, is Israel. It has far and away the best intelligence service and I think that if push comes to extreme shove, they will act. In the meantime we will have to put up with the Obama/Kerry pantomime despite it being as funny as an open grave! One thing is absolutely certain, we must do whatever it takes to maintain our nuclear submarine force. I don't care if they run down the army and the airforce so long as those subs and their deadly missiles are available. If the Americans hold back on providing us with all the necessary data we should 'go it alone' despite the huge costs involved.
Before I ruin your week, ooops, sorry, I mean cheer you up on a miserable Monday, I thought you would like to know that what passes for 'normal service', here at D&N, will resume now that sundry jollifications are over for the next fifty years!
A Good News/Bad News story:
The lawyer says: "I have good news and bad news."
The CEO replies: "I have had an awful day, let's hear the good news first."
The lawyer says: "Your wife invested $20,000 in five pictures that are worth a minimum of $2 million."
The CEO replies enthusiastically: "Well done, that is very good news indeed! You've made my day; now what is the bad news?"
The lawyer answers: "They are pictures of you in bed with your secretary."
A woman comes home and tells her husband, "Remember those headaches I've been having all these years? Well, they're gone.""
"No more headaches?" the husband asks, "What happened?"
His wife replies, "Margie referred me to a hypnotist. He told me to stand in front of a mirror, stare at myself and repeat:
I do not have a headache;
I do not have a headache;
I do not have a headache.'
It worked! The headaches are all gone."
"Well, that is wonderful,"" replies the husband.
His wife then says, "You know, you haven't been exactly a ball of fire in the bedroom these last few years. Why don't you go see the hypnotist and see if he can do anything for that?"
The husband agrees to try it. Following his appointment, the husband comes home, rips off his clothes, picks up his wife and carries her into the bedroom.
He puts her on the bed and says, "Don't move, I'll be right back."
He goes into the bathroom and comes back a few minutes later and jumps into bed and makes passionate love to his wife like never before.
His wife says, "Boy, that was wonderful!"
The husband says, "Don't move! I will be right back."
He goes back into the bathroom, comes back and round two was even better than the first time. The wife sits up and her head is spinning.
Her husband again says, "Don't move, I'll be right back."
With that, he goes back in the bathroom. This time, his wife quietly follows him and there, in the bathroom, she sees him standing at the mirror and saying:
"She's not my wife.
She's not my wife.
She's not my wife!"
His funeral is on Sunday...
And now a brief selection of one-liners:
I got invited to a party and was told to dress to kill. Apparently a turban, beard and a backpack wasn't what they had in mind.
After a night of drink, drugs and wild sex, Jim woke up to find himself next to a really ugly woman. That's when he realized he had made it home safely.
Seven wheelchair athletes have been banned from the Paralympics after they tested positive for WD40.
ITS A BOY" I shouted "A BOY, I DON'T BELIEVE IT, ITS A BOY". And with tears streaming down my face I swore I'd never visit another Thai Brothel!
In the first few days of the Olympics the Romanians took gold, silver, bronze, copper & lead.
Sailing results are in, GB took gold, USA took silver and Somalia took a Middle aged couple from Weymouth
A boy asks his granny, 'Have you seen my pills, they were labeled LSD?' Granny replies, f**k the pills, have you seen the dragons in the kitchen?
Right, that's enough humour, get back to work!
Yes, yes, you demand to know, we all realise you 'troughed it' at The Dorchester, but how was the Rembrandt exhibition? Alas, I have to tell you that it was nearly ruined by that worst of all possible excesses - people - dread word! I remember thinking that the tickets were not too expensive and the consequence was that the crowds, despite the best efforts of the security people to keep an even flow, were far too big. Even so, there he was, old man Rembrandt looking Falstaffian with his whiskers and lived-in face, and eyes that had now gradually ceased to twinkle and instead gazed out with unflinching self-honesty. I find them intensely moving:
From high art we rose even higher to stratospheric Mammon with a visit to Harrods. It is perhaps, best summed up by the ghastly kitsch statue in memory to the late Dodi Fayed and Princess Diana which, when they died in that car crash in Paris, the then owner of Harrods and Dodi's father, Mohamed al Fayed, insisted on having installed inside the department store:
The artistic merits might be minimal but I do not sneer at the sentiment. Even mega-rich plutocrats like al Fayed are entitled to indulge their private grief but perhaps, in retrospect, keeping it private might have been better.
As for the store, well, it is the cornucopia that keeps on giving, er, well, so long as your credit card can keep going, that is! Yes, it has its fair share of tat but it also has the very finest of products but tat or fine it is all, all, hideously, almost laughably, expensive! Having gazed longingly for several minutes at a simply beautiful pair of loafer-style shoes made of the very finest soft leather and then having taken in the price tag of £695! I came to the firm conclusion that even if I were a multi-millionaire I would never buy at those sorts of ridiculous prices. I mean, supposing, just supposing, that I had bought those shoes and decided to wear them home and as I stepped out of Harrods I trod in a dog turd, probably from one of those stupid white balls of fluff that smart ladies drag around? Imagine the furore when the poor woman suddenly realises she has a dead dog on the leash because I have strangled it! Anyway, it was fun seeing how the other 0.5% live!
In the evening we went to a branch of the Côtés Brasserie group where we had a very simple but hugely tasty supper served by some super young people who had obviously been highly trained. Bookmark this site to see if they have a branch near you - http://cote-restaurants.co.uk/
So, all in all, two terrific away-days. But tomorrow comes my pièce de résistance and I can tell you the secret now because I told the 'Memsahib' before we went to London. We are off to Morton-in-Marsh to stay at the The White Hart Hotel, the very same establishment that echoed to the screams of pleasure from the bridal suite some fifty years ago last October 3rd, er, well, that's how I remember it, anyhow, but the Memsahib's memory seems a bit dodgy on that one! It is now called the White Hart Royal Hotel and it has obviously gone up the social scale from when we last visited. Still, at least this time I will not have to spend Sunday morning, exhausted after, er, doing my duty so valiantly all night, cleaning all the rudery scribbled in lipstick on my car by various friends!
Now then, you 'Kippers', I did make myself perfectly clear in my pre-by-election orders that you were to achieve a minimum 8% lead over the Tories at Rochester & Strood. You only just made 7% which, frankly, the Monster Raving Loonie Party would have achieved in its heyday! The result is a collective sigh of relief from 'Dim Dave' and his OE cabal because they reckon that from now on it's all downhill for you 'Kippers' who have been consigned to that over-crowded mortuary of protest movements that lived, breathed for two seconds and then died! You certainly haven't frightened Dave into committing to a harder line on Europe, so I'm afraid that you are hereby dismissed without a character!
Even so, it's an ill wind that fails to gently swing the 'Cleggeron' as he dangles by the neck at the end of his political rope, next to the 'corpse' of the 'Milipede' which has been hanging there for some time! The 'il-Lib-non-Dem' vote was reduced from just over 16% to under 1% - or to be exact, just 349 votes. Oh dear, what a pity, never mind! Of course, to an old sadist like me the pleasure of watching not one but two detestable politicians slowly decomposing is simply exquisite.
From now on until the election in May it's Dave's to lose. I know it's against his personal grain but he needs to indicate a more stringent attitude to Europe even if, and he probably will, he rats us out at the end. Anyway, cheerio, you 'Kippers', don't think it hasn't been fun and we shall miss 'our Nige'!
Well, as one does, er, doesn't everyone? Well, 'tell truth and shame the devil', I had never set foot in the place until yesterday and I was prepared to be as cynical and critical as only a grumpy old man like me can be but, of course, within minutes I was captivated. It wasn't just the elegant furnishings and decor, they were exactly that but I have been in similar surroundings before, however, it was the supremely quiet, friendly and apparently effortless service from all the staff that won me over - and that goes all the way down to the exceedingly polite, pleasant and smiley man who who runs the cloakroom!
We lunched courtesy of Alain Ducasse at the Dorchester and I gather that he has a galaxy of Michelin stars to his name but it is also worth mentioning Restaurant Director Damien Pepin and his team who are, after all, the 'front of house' people with whom you deal. They were excellent, ever-watchful, quick to spring into action when required and irrespective of any personal feelings of fatigue or worries, always cheerfully ready to satisfy your wishes. Also, and this is important, I think, whilst they were ready to satisfy their customer's requirements there was no hint of servility about them in the worst sense of that word. They were consummate professionals doing exceedingly well what they were very good at doing.
If any of you have a special celebration approaching then I absolutely recommend lunch at the Dorchester.