“That one can convince one’s opponents with printed reasons, I have not believed since the year 1764. It is not for that purpose that I have taken up my pen, but rather merely to annoy them, and to give strength and courage to those on our side, and to make it known to the others that they have not convinced us.”
G.C. Lichtenberg (1742 – 1799), courtesy of 'Deogolwulf'
The thunderheads grow darker on the horizon but no-one seems to care. The stock market powers away to new heights, and with the impeccable timing for which I am famed the length and breadth of my toilet, the majority of my money remains in savings accounts paying a steady, unspectacular 5%. As that great Cornish philosopher, Jethro, puts it, "Live every day as though it were your last because one day you'll be right!" Twelve months ago I gloomily prognosticated to the effect that with North Korea and Iran going nuclear there would be tears before bedtime. Wrong again, well, wrong for this year, anyway, but as in sex and drumming, timing is everything. I still fear the worst. A badly bruised (with self-inflicted wounds) president Bush may not have the morale to smash the Iranian nuclear effort but the Israelis have and, at least, will try! Tactically, this will not be as easy to do as it was in Iraq years ago. The Iranians have learnt the lesson and their nuclear capabilities are scattered wide and far, and very well hidden and protected. This re-enforces my belief that the Americans (and us) need to apply a different strategy in dealing with rogue states (ie, states that fail to behave the way we wish them to!). We need forces capable of being injected into an area of operations quickly, with sufficent power to achieve the removal of a government and its infrastructure; plus, the ability to be evacuated almost as quickly as they entered. Some might complain that this will leave a power vacuum into which all sorts of rogues and vagabonds might enter with impunity, but they will know, better than most, what fate awaits them if they become too stroppy. In the current situation in Iran, I'm not sure whether the Israelis have sufficiently powerful ground forces to achieve the destruction of the Iranian nuclear capability, to say nothing of the lift capacity to get them in and out. They are almost certain to try air raids but I am doubtful as to whether that will be enough.
North Korea remains 'a mystery wrapped in an enigma'. Certainly I lack any sort of detailed knowledge to make a reasoned argument for or against any particular policy. It seems to me that their strike capability limits their threat to a regional problem and therefor it should be left to China, South Korea and Japan to sort out. Unfortunately, on any given day, their respective governments are unlikely to agree on whether or not it is raining. Also, it must be borne in mind that an ICBM is not the only way to deliver a nuclear device to the heart of one's enemy. A man with a suitcase is equally unlikely, but a dedicated team with miniturised components and the benevolent but secret support of a nation-state, is certainly a possibility. Even if such an operation went off half-cock, the military and economic repurcussions of even an attempt hardly bear thinking about.
China, of course, is crucial in any consideration of Asian politics. I have long believed that as China prospers, and prospers despiterather than because of anything the central government does, then the traditional, centrifugal forces will begin to tear the country apart. How long, for example, will the rich and powerful magnates of Shanghai and Hong Kong put up with the meddling and restrictions of an outmoded political clique whose raison d' etre, Marxism, has proved to be so utterly wrong and useless. It cannot be long before the new capitalists of China begin to feel the same about the useless cyphers who cling like limpets to their petty offices, as I feel about the buffoons who run my country. The difference is that they are in a position to do something about it, such as, secession. However, Peking will see that coming and like all shaky governments will attempt to whip up a foreign crisis to re-unite the country. Taiwan is an easy pick! This will inflame Chinese nationalism and embroil the hated Yankees.
Meanwhile, as these, and other, fuses sputter their way toward the powder kegs, the poltroons who run Europe continue to behave like Randle McMurphy's collection of loonies let out for the day in One Flew Over the Cuckoo's Nest.Our prime minister lays the union flag on the floor and invites sundry European nobodies to wipe their boots on it whilst simultaneously bunging them all a nice little (well, not so little, actually) earner, and then comes back to boast of it! What is depressing is that my fellow subjects are so supine and stupid that instead of burning this rascal at the stake, they just yawn and shrug. Europe, of course, continues to slide further and faster down the economic scales with everyone eager, indeed, fighting for the chance to suck at the government teat. Thus, the politicians continue their highly successful policy of bribing us with our own money, so is it any wonder that they, whilst pretending to fawn at our feet, actually treat us all with the utter contempt that we deserve whilst lining their own pockets as fast and furiously as they can? As far as this EC farrago goes, one can only rely, God help us, on 'plucky little Italy'. With a bit of luck they should go spectacularly broke this coming year and hopefully the whole Euro construct will then collapse in the general rush to the exits.
At home, what passes for our public life putrifies at an increasingly faster rate. With the exception of our Queen, a lone figure of rectitude and duty, the remainder of our so-called establishment behave like the pigs they are at heart. The prime minister gives away our interests and our money whilst his wife lines her purse as fast as she can. Ministers of the Crown lie and cheat, and are invited to return and lie and cheat all over again. The higher ranks of the civil service are corrupted with worthless baubles and patronage and their 'Rolls Royce' service is now no better than Dell-boy's 3-wheel van! The new leader of Her Majesty's opposition has just appointed a particularly stupid ex-rock 'singer', I mean stupid beyond the expected infantile vacuity one expects from rock 'singers', to help him decide how to cure poverty, for which read, how to give away and waste even more of my money. Apparently, Mr. Cameron, who wishes to lead this country of ours, hasn't a clue as to what to do. So, we can have every confidence in him, then! The senior ranks of the police force are officered by gutless, nincompoops who wouldn't know a villain if they found one climbing in their bedroom window at night. How could it be otherwise when one realises that the education service continues to pump out semi-educated morons at even higher rates year on year. The officer corps in the armed services is showing alarming signs of being equally feeble-minded. The only small gleam on the horizon is the imminent and inevitable collapse of the NHS, the "envy of the world", we are constantly told, although no-one ever copies it!
So, somewhat like Antonio, I can complain,
"In sooth I know not why I am so sad,
It wearies me, you say it wearies you;
But how I caught it, found it, or came by it,
What stuff 'tis made of, whereof it is born,
I am to learn:"
Unlike him, however, I have a very clear idea of what it is that makes me sad. What I don't know, is what to do about it - and that makes me even sadder. Er, Happy New Year, by the way.
The hell that is Iraq should not be over-stated. For a start, the atrocities, for all their horror, are localised and the vast majority of the population are as far removed from them as I am. Even so, for those Iraqis living in the big cities, life is 'poor, nasty, brutish and sometimes, short'. But today there is a tiny light in their darkness. The final election for a hopefully comprehensive government is taking place. The next few weeks and months will decide whether that light glows stronger or simply gutters out. If the latter then it will be no fault of the coalition. The Iraqis have been given this one chance, a chance denied to virtually every other Arab state, to govern on the basis of the ballot not the bullet. I have no doubt that the majority of the population want this chance to be seized and held, but they are at the mercy of their factious leaders. Democracy is an immensely difficult and sophisticated proposition to put into force. It requires one set of political leaders to trust another set not to have them all murdered or imprisoned before the next turn at the ballot box. In a state and a society in which the Kalashnikov is ubiquitous, this is not easy! It is even harder for a country that is surrounded by brutal dictatorships whose hatred for democracy and liberty is the reason for their hatred of the west.
I have derided Oliver Kamm in the past (not that it has bothered him in the slightest, of course) for his neo-conservative enthusiasm for intervening in the affairs of other nations simply in order to plant the seed of democracy. I supported the intervention in Iraq for strategic reasons and I stated at the time that, whilst the chance of Iraq becoming democratic was the cherry on the cake, I very much doubted their ability to do it. We shall see, and I will be the first to admit my error if, over the next few weeks, an Iraqi government acceptable to most of its citizens is formed and, more important, lasts! My scepticism should not be mistaken for a desire on my part to see them fail. Far from it. I have watched the always intelligent and authoritative reports from Tim Marshall on Sky News, and I have been deeply moved by the courage of so many ordinary people to try their best to make this experiment work. I hope, and would pray, if I could, that they succeed.
The normally intelligent 'Jarndyce' from The Sharpener must have taken to drink or drugs because in a fit of lunacy he invited me to write the 'Thursday Rant' which can be viewed at a safe distance over at his place.
I have recoiled before on these pages from the venom, spite and hatred of 'BionOc' and perhaps you thought me too sensitive, too easily upset. So sample this, but use a long spoon:
"Know who needs a beating? Steven Spielberg, that's who. Not a critical drubbing, not a stern verbal dressing-down, not an open letter in the New York Times, a real, honest to god, within-millimeters-of-his-life thrashing. It won't teach him a damn thing, but it'll make me feel a whole lot better." [My emphasis]
Then remember that she is training to be a doctor - and tremble!
And then remember that 'lenin' and 'Meaders' think she's wonderful.
(*) Correction: Thanks to 'Bill Shaksper' (the bastard!) for catching me out in a very Anglo-Scottish error - see the comments.
There has been some controversy in recent days concerning the apportionment of blame in rape cases where the woman is scantily clad, drunk or drugged of her own volition and behaving in a licentious manner. Several insidious arguments were put forward to the effect that a man should be able to claim mitigation on the grounds of the woman's (mis)behaviour, and I confess that I began to think that there was some merit in them. I am grateful, therefor, to Peter Hitchens, one of the very few writers I read in The Mail , who, with his usual brutal ability to punch a point, insisted that a man was always, irrespective of circumstances, responsible for his own actions. Guiltily, I reprimanded myself for momentarily forgetting that cardinal principle.
Even so, it still leaves the problem of what should be done, if anything, with the women who pour (what a very suitable word in the circumstances) onto the streets looking and behaving far, far worse than prostitutes who, having a business to run, conduct themselves with a sort of decorum if only in an effort not to put the customers off. As in sex and drumming, timing is everything. Apparently the authorities will turn a blind eye to behaviour in our streets at midnight that they would not put up with in the middle of the afternoon. Whatever difference there is between the two times of the day escapes me. Our streets, that is to say, the streets that I and others pay an inordinate amount of money for, should be kept clear and safe at all times.
Even at a distance I sense the feministas bridling at my remarks concerning scanty dresses, so let me say instantly that I have no objection to them, except occasionally an aesthetic one, when the 'lady' concerned bears a remarkable likeness to the sows that inhabit my neighbouring farm. Some things are better left unseen and to the imagination, and large, bare, multiple bellies overhanging hipster skirts which in turn have no chance of hiding the sausage-like thighs that support them, are certainly one of them. So, by all means allow the 'ladies' to wear what they like, but should they be permitted to behave in public the way they like? Considering that the way they like is, apparently, to reel out of pubs and bars totally rat-arsed, screaming profanities in between spewing to all points of the compass and fighting anyone and everyone, I say not. There are laws against misbehaviour in the streets but I suspect the police don't enforce them because they always look for a quiet life. Thus, instead of throwing these slatterns into jail they simply try to move them on out of their patch and out of their responsibility. It is, of course, at that point, when the silly 'moos' are out of sight and out of mind, that the rapists move in.
I would add, whilst on the subject of the police, that in the various bits of news footage I have viewed of scenes from 'everyday city folk', that there always appear to be a plethora of policemen outside all these bars, no doubt enjoying the double-time rates of pay they can earn. If, and it is a hopeless 'if', the authorities carried out their duty, all this activity could be minimised quite simply. Instead of van loads of policemen standing around ogling the girls and no doubt copping a quick feel as and when they can, they just need a two-man team with a video camera. All they have to do is film the drunks falling out of the bar or club concerned and take the result to the local licensing authority who should (but never do!), after issuing a warning, rescind the licence for a weekend, or a week, or a month. Within a very short time, drunkenness on out streets would be a rarity. I say this is a hopeless 'if' because, of course, our corrupted government is now in the back pocket of the drinks industry so nothing will be done. Ah, I hear you cry, but all that will change with a change of government. Do me a favour! Ask me who the next leader of the Tory party works for as a part-time director? A chain of night-clubs! 'Makes yer sick, dunnit?'