I have been sorely provoked, but glad to have been so, by my old e-pal, Deogolwulf, to discuss this' God business' which I do so, of course, with all the authority of your average fifth former! You can follow the opening shots of this campaign here and in the comments section. Necessarily, given the nature of that particular post we started our conversation somewhere in the middle of the controversy that I call 'the God business'. Here I want - dread words! - to go back to basics.
To begin with I intend to avoid the use of the word 'God' which has religious overtones that tend to obscure rather than enlighten any discussion. Instead I prefer to use the term 'Prime Mover'(PM) which is more neutral. As I understand it, one of the very first reasons for posturing the existence of a PM is the idea that before there was nothing and afterward there was something and a PM is the only answer because something cannot be produced from nothing and so a PM is required. That is entirely logical but only if you accept the premise for which there is no proof. For example, it fails to explain who or what created the PM in the first place . . . and then who created the creator of the PM and then, hey-ho, we are off into an infinite regression.
As I understand it, speaking as man who failed 'O'-level maths, physics and chemistry, it all began with a bang in which two entities, twins really, were 'created', or appeared, matter and energy. The matter, atoms of hydrogen and helium with virtually no mass, were hurled outwards, but, and this I always think is significant, they did not explode with perfect synchronisation, there were very slight but significant variations which were critical because that helped to bring about collisions and fusions between the particles at which point their increased mass resulted in increased gravitational forces which helped meld more and more of them together. The question which arises in my mind is, assuming the PM exists, did it intend to have those slight imperfections or was it an accident? I have a vision of a PM muttering, "Oh, fuck it! That wasn't perfection, let's sod off to another plane of potential existence and try again" and meanwhile our sad, imperfect, old universe was left to get on with it. This leads, naturally, to the question of intentionality on the part of the PM. Did it build-in imperfections and did it know where those imperfections would lead, or was it all one big roll of the dice?
All of that, or even some variations on that, I am prepared to accept as a hypothesis to explain the notion of a PM, but is it exclusive to other hypotheses? For example, returning to infinity, a notion treated with great caution and some distrust by ancient Christian thinkers, it is a possibility that nothing was created because everything exists, always has existed and will continue to exist - even though the form changes constantly and forever. Thus, as one scientific theory postulated (although I seem to remember that it has gone slightly out of favour recently) our universe will one day fall back on itself and everything will be collapsed into a black hole before it explodes yet again, and thus does "the wheel of fire" keep turning forever and ever, amen!
Now, I find the idea of an infinity of existence, or perhaps, existences, as cautiously acceptable as the notion of a PM. As theories they both share some strengths and some weaknesses but neither of them is entirely satisfactory. In other words, I am not prepared to accept that a PM is necessary to explain existence. However, as my conversation with Deogolwulf is concerned with religious explanations of existence I will set aside infinity for now and concentrate on the nature of the Prime Mover. However, the sun is shining and I must take advantage of it to do some gardening so I will continue this dreary monologue this afternoon.
Oh no, a fate worse than death - well, it costs more - because today I am about to fall into the clutches of that dastardly bunch of rogues and rascals - the second-hand car trade! Yes, this morning I am about to change cars and now, for the first time, I shall see the business from the sucker's customer's point of view. Anyway, this is all by way of telling you that, 'Deogolwulf' apart (see below), I will be responding to your many interesting comments later this afternoon.
Er, anyone see their way clear to lending me a 'monkey', only I'll need a deposit, I'm good for it, honest, you'll have it back by the end of the week - waddya mean, what week?
As I slump here in a state of trauma, still trembling from the experience, let me again offer my thanks to the invaluable Cafe Hayek who drew my attention to a shocking - shocking, I tell you! - piece written by Paul Krugman. If you are a soppy, 'Graun'-reading Leftie with a bleeding-heart conscience over the low wages and cruel conditions of workers in the Third-world, then read no further:
And as long as you have no realistic alternative to industrialization based on low wages, to oppose it means that you are willing to deny desperately poor people the best chance they have of progress for the sake of what amounts to an aesthetic standard--that is, the fact that you don't like the idea of workers being paid a pittance to supply rich Westerners with fashion items.
Crikey! That could have been written by Milton Friedman but I never imagined that Krugman could have allowed such sacrilege to flow from his keyboard. Mind you, it was written in 1997 and thus Prof.Krugman shows us yet again what a singular man he is. Where the rest of us started life believing and spouting rubbish until the school of hard knocks taught us differently, Prof. Krugman began by being emminently sensible and has now declined to economic peurility. But here is another taste of his truer wisdom:
The lofty moral tone of the opponents of globalization is possible only because they have chosen not to think their position through. While fat-cat capitalists might benefit from globalization, the biggest beneficiaries are, yes, Third World workers. [...]
Workers in those shirt and sneaker factories are, inevitably, paid very little and expected to endure terrible working conditions. I say "inevitably" because their employers are not in business for their (or their workers') health; they pay as little as possible, and that minimum is determined by the other opportunities available to workers. And these are still extremely poor countries, where living on a garbage heap is attractive compared with the alternatives.
And yet, wherever the new export industries have grown, there has been measurable improvement in the lives of ordinary people. Partly this is because a growing industry must offer a somewhat higher wage than workers could get elsewhere in order to get them to move. More importantly, however, the growth of manufacturing--and of the penumbra of other jobs that the new export sector creates--has a ripple effect throughout the economy. The pressure on the land becomes less intense, so rural wages rise; the pool of unemployed urban dwellers always anxious for work shrinks, so factories start to compete with each other for workers, and urban wages also begin to rise.
You may read via the link - and I urge you to do so - Prof. Krugman's entire article written for Slate in 1997. What can I say, except perhaps to quote good ol' Luke:
I say unto you, that likewise joy shall be in heaven over one sinner that repenteth, more than over ninety and nine just persons, which need no repentance.
Come back, Brother Krugman, and all will be forgiven!
Odd how this coincidence business keeps recurring! I have been pondering, and if that summons up a vision of me retiring to a darkened room in which to engage in deep thinking let me assure you that most of what passes for thinking in my head takes place in those few precious moments between my head hitting the pillow and the sound of snores ascending. The problem with that mode of intellectual effort(?) is that the next morning I can't remember what the hell it was I was thinking about! Where was I ... oh yes, pondering.
I have been pondering on what it is that keeps a moral sense alive when all the main religions are either crumbling away inch by inch or in some cases landsliding to oblivion. In this modern age, God has been well and truly crucified like his Son, and the likes of Nietzsche and Dawkins have played the part of Roman soldiers thrusting spears in His side to make sure He's well and truly dead. Fair enough, I suppose, because there is no intellectually satisfying argument to support the existence of God and even the most passionate and eloquent of Christian theists are reduced to admitting, albeit proudly, that their belief is founded on emotion. So in the absence, or non-existence, of the Almighty, where-in lies the authority thought to be necessary for the maintainance of morality? And almost instantaneously a further question arises, how is that morality continues at all?
That brings me to the coincidence that began this tedious tale. In his superb book, Full Circle, Ferdinand Mount touches upon all those puzzling questions which have delayed my nightly slumbers by at least half a minute! He points out that despite the catastrophic fall in religious attendence, there are waiting lists for C of E schools and, in an irony that has me whinnying with pleasure, some parents lie and cheat in order to gain entry for their kiddie-winkies to schools which will teach Christian values. He goes on to remind us of the sad demise of Jade Goody, a British 'sleb' famous for nothing much except for loud-mouthed, incontinent, sluttish behaviour who died of cancer at the age of 28. Given her background and upbringing it is no surprise that her behaviour was the way it was, and yet ... and yet ... one sensed that buried in her somewhere, somehow, there was a moral streak. She apologised for her frequent bouts of bad behaviour - and surely an apology is but another version of confession. Even more extraordinary, as Ferdinand Mount recalls, was her behaviour shortly before her death:
As she was dying, Jade Goody said, "I know I'm ignorant but I'm going to make sure my boys get the best education. I'm going to pay for their education for the rest of their lives because that'll give them the best chance in life.'" By "chance in life", she di not simply mean 'chance to make money'. After all, she herself had managed to do that, despite suffering the worst start in life you can imagine. What she meant was something lareger, such as a vision of the right way to lead one's life. A fortnight before she died, she had herself and her two sons baptized at the chapel of the Royal Marsden Hospital where she was being treated for cancer.
Of course, the more cynical will instantly riposte that no-one repents faster than when they are on their death-bed, and by doing so they will miss the point - this fundamentally non-religious woman was not just pre-occupied with her own state of grace, she wanted her sons to be baptized into Christianity. She saw, she sensed, she felt, that somehow in the ethos of Christian morality there was a sensible, one might almost say an intelligent, way to lead your life. I would hesitate to speak for her but somehow, I guess that she did not necessarily believe entirely in the existence of a God even if she could have comprehended and encapsulated (as most of us cannot) the enormous concept of a God. Even so, she knew there was a moral life that could be lived as an alternative to an immoral life and so she acted as if there was a God.
The notion of conducting one's life as if there was a God is a point Mount emphasises in the final chapter of his book. He points out that the 'Darwinistas' in their intemperate attacks on theistic religion and their non-stop hallelujahs in favour of their religion of choice, Darwinism, have failed to apply evolutionary studies to the development of beliefs in God. However, Mount draws attention to:
Robin Wright's new book called "The Evolution of God" made such a stir when it came out in 2008. Kant would undoubtedly have applauded the enterprise. He would have seen the evolutionary approach as the best possible way of showing the different ways in which men and women have chosen to live as if God existed. [My emphasis]
I must express my genuine gratitude to Mount for expressing this as if notion of God. It has cleared out an irritating pebble in my mental shoe. And perhaps now I shall nod off even faster than usual at nights!
I´m taking you in
I´m leading you inside out within
Belive in me
Don´t take us where it all began
The political corruption of the American MSM is now the stuff of legends. I would rather be a pimp for under-age, drug addicted girls than be a hack working for the likes of NYT or WaPo or CNN. Like all great corruptions, sooner or later it will collapse as the termites eat themselves from the inside. Either that, or more likely, the whole print industry will just wither away on an already sickly vine as readers and viewers vanish. And vanish they will as more and more of them realise that their so-called (actually, self-called!) free press has not only distorted the news it is supposed to publish without fear or favour but has actually been party to hiding it by refusing steadfastly to investigate it.
Thus, the mass of American voters remain blissfully ignorant of much of the early life of their current president who is seeking re-election this November. Headlines scream at Mitt Romney for not publishing his tax returns but go silent when he displays last year's which show him to have paid considerable taxes but paid even more by way of donations to charity. In the meantime, no-one can, because mostly the MSM have not tried too hard, prise loose the details of Obama's Harvard education which has been kept strictly secret. Only one question arises - why? Well, Thomas Lifson, editor of The American Thinker, offers up one very strong possibility. He draws attention to an extraordinary TV interview in 2008 with an elderly man called Percy Sutton who, in his day, had been a high-level Democrat politician in the borough of Manhattan - it's worth watching. At the time, according to Mr. Lifson, the Obama camp briefed the MSM to the effect that Sutton was a rambling old man whose partial memories could be ignored - and the MSM lickspittles were only too pleased to obey. But Sutton's story is worth listening to.
He tells us that he was first introduced to the young Obama by a man called Dr. Khalid al-Mansour, a black American who had converted to Islam and who had oiled (no pun intended) his way into the position of being an advisor to various Saudi interests. This man had persuaded the Saudis to stump up funds to help various disadavantaged black Americans through college not entirely, or even slightly, for charitable reasons but because the chances were that several of them would rise up in due course to positions of power within the American government. Exactly the same technique was used by the Soviet KGB in recruiting bright youngsters at universities in the expectation that little fish eventually become big fish.
According to Sutton, Obama was one of the little fish helped by Saudi money to attend Harvard. Well, Sutton was indeed an old man when he gave the interview and he might have been muddled but another hack, but a hack with more journalistic honour in his inky fingers than the entire staff of the NYT, a hack who worked for - wait for it - the Daily Inter-Lake newspaper (no, me, neither), by the name of Frank Miele had stumbled upon a syndicated column in the Chicago Tribune in 1979. The columnist had been interviewing a San Francisco lawyer about rumours of "billions of dollars the oil-rich Arab nations are supposed to unload on American black leaders and minority institutions." This lawyer told the columnist that it was no rumour but the absolute truth - and he would have known because his name was Donald Warden and he had helped defend OPEC against an anti-trust suit in the course of which he established close ties to the Saudi royal family. Needless to say, if you have not already guessed, Donald Warden, er, saw the light, converted to Islam and called himself Khalid Abdullah Tariq al-Mansour.
In Frank Miehle's own words:
Al-Mansour told Jarrett [the columnist doing the interview] that he had presented the "proposed special aid program to OPEC Secretary-General Rene Ortiz" in September 1979, and that "the first indications of Arab help to American blacks may be announced in December." Maybe so, but I looked high and wide in newspapers in 1979 and 1980 for any other stories about this aid package funded by OPEC and never found it verified.
You would think that a program to spend "$20 million per year for 10 years to aid 10,000 minority students each year, including blacks, Arabs, Hispanics, Asians and native Americans" would be referred to somewhere other than one obscure 1979 column, but I haven't found any other word of it.
Maybe the funding materialized, maybe it didn't, but what's particularly noteworthy is that this black Islamic lawyer who "for several years [had] urged the rich Arab kingdoms to cultivate stronger ties to America's blacks by supporting black businesses and black colleges and giving financial help to disadvantaged students" was also the same lawyer who allegedly helped arrange for the entrance of Barack Obama into Harvard Law School in 1988.
Aha, I hear you cry with but a single voice - Jarrett! Oh yes, the very same family because he is father-in-law to Valerie Jarrett, the woman who sits outside the Oval Office and controls all access to Obama. The woman who gave him his first helping hand up the shit-pole of Chicago politics. There is still no definitive proof that Obama is a sock-puppet for Saudi oil and political interests but suddenly his aversion to Israel which has gone hand in hand with his efforts to smarm the Arabs, and his domestic policy of crushing American coal and oil investment including his adamant refusal to allow a pipe-line from Canada to bring in cheap shale oil/gas begins to be a little more understandable.
Indeed they did, and they fought extremely well according to this story on the BBC News site. In particular, this man, Capt. Mamo Habtewold, showed courage and leadership of the very highest order although his sense of timing (not really his fault) was slightly off.
He was placed in command of a patrol sent out into no-man's-land just as the Chinese launched a major offensive. Cut off, wounded, and with many of his men killed or wounded, Capt. Mamo Habtewold realised that all of his radios by which he might call in assistance were destroyed or lost. He maintained command and control of his men who beat off several Chinese attempts to overrun them. Eventually, he found a functioning radio and called in artillery which allowed the patrol to get back to their own lines.
And there is a happy end to this story of courage. Capt. Mamo Habtewold is alive and well at the age now of 81 and given his record of fighting in Korea plus the dangerous upheavals inside his own country that is some achievement. Also, the South Korean government has agreed to pay pensions to any surviving Ethiopian(*) veterans of the Korean war.
See, it's not all bad news here at D&N!
(*) Thank you, JK, for the correction but I was under pressure from the Memsahib this morning and she is more terrifying than a Chinese division!
I have been pondering over a comment to my last Sunday Rumble by 'RogerH' in which he suggested that the key requirement for a successful national leader, or a Foreign Secretary, was 'character'. I was in a hurry this morning and could only leave a somewhat cryptic response in which I edged towards that tiresome phrase "it all depends on what you mean by ..." which is usually a precursor to tedious semantic nit-picking.
However, in an effort to avoid that particular quagmire I have been thinking about three great statesmen and what, if any, characteristics they shared. Talleyrand, a great hero of mine, was famous for his womanising, his corruption, his treachery - and his finely-honed shrewdness. He might have betrayed various governments of France, including especially that of Bonaparte, but did so always in what he saw as the higher interests of the nation rather than the current Jack-in-office. I seem to remember from the biography by Duff Cooper (no relation, alas) which I read decades ago that Talleyrande always possessed a very clear view of his objectives and resisted any attempts to confuse him with too much detail. He instructed his clerks, who were wont to pile paperwork upon him, "pas trop de zèle!" He understood, I think, that it was essential to keep clear objectives in a clear mind even if you had to duck and dive en route to reach them!
I have discussed that dreadful old Prussian bully, Bismarck, many a time and 'oft. His is an epic tragedy. His success in welding a new nation-state out of hundreds of mini-statelets all of which succumbed to Prussian leadership was outstanding. Again, the old brute never lost track of his ultimate aim and thus, despite the multi-dimensional complexity of European politics in the 19th century, he achieved his ambition. The tragedy was that in creating the new Germany under a Prussian system he built into it the massive flaws that eventually brought about its collapse.
Sir Edward Grey was about as different from those two as it is possible to be. A Victorian/Edwardian gentleman of the 'old school', a man of impeccable manners and deportment, happy to avoid at almost any cost (except duty) what were for him the horrors of London society by returning as often as possible back to his beloved Northumberland for the excitement of - bird watching! Throughout his career as Foreign Secretary he never went abroad. Like the others, he never lost sight of his ultimate aims and objectives.
Of course, in all these three examples, one might criticise them for choosing the 'wrong' set of objectives, but alas, that brings us back to semantics and what you mean by 'wrong'? Unsuccesful? Immoral? Impossible? Because one might be tempted to suggest that up until 1941 Hitler's policy objectives had been reached with absolute mastery but do we admire him? Somewhat cynically, one is forced into a position of suggesting that the first three were brilliant and steadfast - and what made them truly great was that they lived to die in their own beds!
Worried about size, chaps? Not too keen on sharing the showers with your mates? Sneak quick looks at the bloke standing next to you at the urinals, do you? Turn round quickly and find the missus giggling? Well, I bring you Good News - well, good-ish. No, no, not one of those magical penis enlargers you see advertised which don't work - ooops, no, I don't know for sure, never tried one, wouldn't dream of it, don't need it, absolutely definitely . . . where was I? Ah yes, if you are, shall we say, small but, of course, perfectly formed then at least now you know why - it's all because of global warming.
According to the report, the study’s leaders claim to have bona fide research that says the average size of a penis is roughly 10 percent smaller than it was 50 years ago.
The post on the study doesn’t say how the research was conducted or give numbers. But it does provide several reasons for the supposed shrinkage, including weight gain, stress, smoking and alcohol.
The report also says air pollution has been shown to “negatively impact penis size.”
They in turn, took the story from chacha.com:
A new Italian study of male sexuality has discovered that the average size of male genetalia has been steadily shrinking over the past several years.
Ah, an "Italian Study"! That explains it. All those Italian lover boys are just reluctant to admit that they have shrunk through over-usage probably as a result of all those non-stop 'Bunga-Bunga' parties. So, nothing for us huge Anglo-Saxon chaps to worry about then.
Er, sorry, did you want to say something, Andra?
He opened his mouth and let his belly rumble: Thus spake, not Zarathustra, but that bumptious little twat, Andrew Mitchell MP. In his, by now, infamous, foul-mouthed rant against sundry members of the Plod whose particular duty at the end of Downing Street is to protect the lives of Mr. Mitchell and his ilk even to the point of giving up their own lives to do so, he inadvertently confirmed what many of us had suspected that, despite an education so expensive that it could have kept several dozen immigrant families on welfare for life, he is, himself, as thick as a plank. To mouth off at length and at considerable volume at the end of Downing Street, an area only exceeded in its density of hacks by the nearest Westminster pub, was as stupid as shovelling shed-loads of tax-payers' dosh (or my dosh, as I fondly think of it) as aid payments to their poor and destitute to places like India where they are busy building their first nuclear bomb. This he did with considerable vigour and actually had the brass nerve to boast of it! It seems to me that with him and Dave and George as examples, one must fervently support the return of Grammar Schools, not just to rescue the, er, "plebs" from the wasteland of Comprehensive Schools, but also the gentry from their obviously rotten but expensive Public Schools where they appear to learn nothing.
When I take over American foreign policy from 'HillBilly': I may well shoot myself! Conducting the foreign policy of a great power is the nearest you will ever get to playing three dimensional chess against a quantum computer - and if that isn't random enough you can throw in a large dollop of human nature, too. It is, of course, tremendously easy to criticise Secretaries of State - which is why I do it so frequently - and it is even easier to do so after the events with which they have had to struggle. At the moment no one knows who will be conducting American foreign policy over the next four years but who ever it is, he or she has my sympathy. To take but one area of massive complexity and huge danger, consider the Pacific rim in general and the South China Sea in particular. Chinese determination to claim sovereign ownership of various, mostly uninhabited islands, has already begun to provoke hostility and fear amongst its neighbours. A new Chinese leadership is about to take over and they are all too well aware that pride, perhaps over-weening pride, has been aroused in the Chinese population which expects its government to do whatever it takes to enforce China's claims. However, the government is also well aware that the Chinese people are rapidly approaching hard times. The fantastic rush to riches of the past 20 years is coming to a halt. In the old days, dirt poor peasants just did what they were told but there is no one more furious than a newly-enriched bourgeois suddenly facing impoverishment. America, of course, will be watched and judged by the smaller nations of the Pacific rim as to how it faces up, or faces down, Chinese ambitions.
This man is thick enough to be a politician: I give you what's left of Mr. David Villalobotomy, ooops, sorry Mr. Villalobos, a man who just loves pussy - look, I do the jokes round here so stop sniggering! - in particular he loved this one:
In fact, he loved it so much that, in his own words, "he wanted to be one with the tiger" and so, as reported by AP, he jumped into the tiger compound in the Bronx Zoo. Yeeeeeees, quite! Fortunately he was enabled to escape by the prompt action of the keepers and, in the circs, his injuries are fairly light. I wonder if this prat man has ever considered a career in politics? With his survival skills he'd slaughter them in the Senate!
Actually, that is not quite true because what I did feel was intense pleasure, delight and wonderment mixed with shame at the lazy idleness I have nurtured through the years which has left me as a man filled with opinions but not much in the way of true learning. So, thank the Gods, for (Sir William Robert, 3rd Baronet) Ferdinand Mount and his jewel of a book, Full Circle: How the Classical World Came Back To Us. It is typical of this man that he rarely if ever uses his title, and he carries his staggeringly huge learning with the lightest of ease. And I do mean 'learning' in the very highest and best sense of the word. He doesn't just read books on the innumerable, mind-boggling subjects on which he writes with such elegant ease, he goes out and inspects them, digs into their history, compares them with similar artifacts, takes account of the mores of their day, links them to events and artifacts of today, and then with the sort of wit that leaves you smiling and nodding in appreciation he offers some startling conclusions.
Perhaps the most startling is the main thrust of his book which is the proposition that, far from the progressive's dream of Mankind climbing ever higher and higher to new levels of civilisation, in fact we have just spent the last two thousand years going in Full Circle back to the Greeks and the Romans. He points the finger, not of hostility but more of intellectual wonderment, at the last 2,000 years of Christianity which, whilst it, too, had its virtues, also acted as a big wet blanket on the behaviour of Man. Now the blanket has dried out and is beginning to disintegrate under the unrelenting forces of "that old common arbitrator, Time" and, lo, we find ourselves returning in a mixture of surprise and delight to the truly ancien regime of the classical world.
Please, please, buy this delightful, witty and immensely learn-ed book.
I ask because it is obvious that our homegrown politicians have none. This is a real problem given that the Euro-pols definitely do have some ideas and I do not care very much for any of them. Gradually, centimetre by centimetre, they are being 'dragged' along the path to fiscal union. I use inverted commas round the word 'dragged' because of course some of them are only pretending to be dragged and in fact are delighted with the direction the markets are taking them. The absolutely key player in this game of pretence is, was and forever will be, the Chancellor of Germany, at the moment, Frau Merkel. There is now no doubt that she is happy to be dragged along but she puts up a fine show of resistance lest a hint of her real eagerness frightens the German 'horses', otherwise known as her electorate. They, poor (er, well, fairly rich, actually) wretches have no power at all. Both of their main political parties might huff and puff at the dishonest extravagance of their Mediterranean neighbours but they both remain firmly wedded to the euro currency without which the profit on their Mercedes and BMWs would shrink as fast as a new Deutschemark would rocket up the exchange rates. So in essence, they have no where to go and in fact, even if they were offered a genuine chance of voting to come out of the European Union, I don't think a majority would.
And that brings me back, handkerchief covering my nose, to the GBP (Great British Public). It is now virtually certain that there will be a referendum in Britain sometime in the next year or two or three. The indefatigable Richard North, a man who seems to spend every waking minute - and I'm beginning to think he never goes to bed! - analysing the shifting sands of European politics, warns that any Euro-sceptics thinking they will be offered a straightforward 'In or Out' proposition need to take a very cold reality shower! The catalyst for a referendum will be a new EU treaty formalising the fiscal pact that the markets are demanding. Now - and at this point I must ask you to brace up and act like a true Brit - obviously our chaps at the FO under the inspired leadership of a our Prime Minister with the very able - and apologetic - Deputy Prime Minister will be undertaking a vigorous campaign to ensure that British interests are safeguarded - look, I told you to brace up - and even though we are the odd man out I'm sure all those Euro-pols and bureaucrats will be eager to listen - oh, for God's sake, the sick bag's over there - so really, no, really, there's nothing to worry about - oh dear, suddenly I don't feel too well either . . .
Ah, that's better, where was I? So the choice you will be offered will be between joining up as a full member or signing on as subsidiary member, or a spare part, if you like, in which all the full members will delight in venting their cherished historical spite on a nation they think of as a sort of America in disguise. But Richard North goes further and confirms my long-held uneasiness that even if we Euro-phobes push and shove for an 'In/Out' referendum we will get nowhere with the GBP if we simply assume they share our visceral dislike for the whole rotten edifice. To make any headway, it is crucial that we offer an alternative. In other words we need that "vison thang". And it is precisely at that point that Dr. North points out, with typical 'Yorkie' bluntness, that virtually none of us sceptics can agree with each other on an alternative.
Oh dear, there will be tears, let's hope there will not be blood as well!
So follow me down to a little sandwich shop/cafe on Chicago's South Side and let me introduce you to Kevin DuJan. He is bitchy in the way that only homosexual men can be. Us heteros try it from time to time but come across as merely clumsy and insulting, but poofters can slip in an insult as sharp as a dagger and have you laughing as they do it. Anyway, if you come with me and my new friend Kevin, well, we haven't actually met but, er, I'm lovin' him already, and not only will you be able to enjoy a "jerk chicken combo with extra “bodacious sauce” - no, me neither - but you will also meet The Think Squad. This is Kevin's name for a bunch of, er, black folks (see, I'm picking up the lingo already!) who meet there informally every day for coffee and gossip. Naturally, I was interested to hear their views on Obama, this being Chicago and them being black 'n' all (how's my accent?) and to say that I was gobsmacked is an understatement:
If you consider the Jesse Jacksons, Al Sharptons, and other “Justice Brothers” types on one side of the spectrum…the Think Squad is the polar opposite. These are good people who openly talk about how terrible the Democrat community has been for black people for the last four or five decades and how Obama and his acolytes have made a great many things worse for blacks since he took office. The Think Squad is not happy about the amnesty efforts for criminal Hispanics who broke American laws but are now able to push blacks out of work because of Obama’s intention to allow these people to become job-seekers in this dreadful economy. As one person at the table noted by waiving her hand at the scene out the window, “What the Hell has gotten any better since he became President. Where’s all that hope and change? All I see is crime and trash”.
Crikey! But it got worse, much worse:
The Think Squad confirmed what I’ve been hearing through friends whose families know Marion Robinson, the current “First Grandmother” and Michelle’s mother: the Obamas and those close to them are preparing to decamp to Honolulu, Hawaii and live out his post-presidency in the post suburb of Kailua. This is Hawaii’s Beverly Hills. The Think Squad had a great time mocking the hula and pretending to sip mai-tais and pina-coladas as they regaled me with all the things Marion’s been “bragging-on” about the house she expects to live in come January when the Obamas depart the White House and Marion comes with them. They’ll still have servants, Secret Service guards, a chef, and almost all of the amenities they enjoy now. But it will be a permanent vacation mode instead of the short bursts of paradise these people experienced on their many jaunts to Hawaii over the last four years before their usual return to Washington. But now, they won’t ever have to go back to DC and Marion is especially gleeful that they won’t be coming back to Chicago ever, either.
And when it comes to voting in the next election, er, well, they probably won't! Or at least, they will not be voting in anything like the numbers they did back in the good ol' Hope 'n' Change days:
The general consensus is that black people will keep voting Democrat in droves because that’s “just what we do” but that there is nowhere near the excitement levels of 2008. ”People will not be lining up to do nothing for him in November ’cause he didn’t do nothing for us for four years”, any angry Think Squader told me from the other end of the table. The mood indicated that black turnout would not be anywhere in the realm of 2008 and would instead sink down to more normal participation rates — which jives with everything you should be noticing in terms of enthusiasm for Obama across the board. People are over Obama, like he’s a rapper who has not had a big hit in a while or a singer whose last few albums have bombed. You still see people peddling the Obama tee shirts on the south side, “but you ain’t see nobody BUYING them, do you?”. I was told to look closely at those shirts and see for myself that many of them were left over from years ago. Nobody’s bothered to make up new designs for 2012 here on the Southside and the raggedy shirts for sale on the street corners are still sporting HOPE and CHANGE logos alongside the usual portraits of Obama’s disembodied head floating in glory with those of Dr. King, Malcolm X, and even, randomly, Tupak Shakur at times.
Yes, yes, I hear you complaining, but this is all the same-old-same-old political stuff - where's the bitchy gossip. Well, you asked for it:
A good number of the Think Squaders don’t see too long of a post-presidency for Obama. Some think he’s sick (with Parkinson’s, as we’ve talked about on this site for years) and others think he might even have HIV (due to his inexplicable weight loss). ”He’s got the Slims and it shows”, somebody at the table said, drawing an awkward silence as a waitress walked around picking up trash while trying not to seem like she was listening to the boisterous group in the corner. ”The Slims” is slang in Chicago’s black community for HIV/AIDS. One in five black men in Chicago have HIV who engage in any sort of homosexual activity; this includes guys who are married and still fool around with men but don’t consider themselves bisexuals or “punks”, which is black slang for a gay man of color.
There was no doubt at the table that Barack Obama is gay and has been part of the “down low club” that’s incredibly common in big cities like Chicago where gay black men desperately seek to avoid being labeled as “punks” by taking a wife and creating a public sham of a marriage. Normally, the woman in these relationships is somehow undesirable and difficult to deal with, which is why a straight man would not want to touch her. [...]
Some in the Think Squad believe that Obama will just come out when he ascends to that international stage in his post-presidency but others think he’ll never do that for fear of retaliation from Muslims. It’s common practice for Muslim men to continue having relations with other males while manifestly heterosexual and married, especially if the wife in question is mannish and overbearing much like Michelle. ”If you can’t see it just by looking at him, then you’re stupid” said one of my lunch mates today. I 100% agree with that and will never understand how any of this is a mystery to Americans. I guess they just don’t want to see Obama for who he really is and maybe never will.
Well, it takes one to know one, so they say, and to tell the truth I have often wondered about that sort of limp-wristed manner he has when he trots, all girly-like, down the steps of his plane - see, I can do bitchy gossip with the best (or worst) of them.
Anyway, time for another, er, jerk chicken sarnie and it was good meetin' you folks, 'n' all. And, Kevin, sweetie, you are now my new best friend and I will be following you forever!
Who-ever slaughtered those two police women should be given a swift trial, found guilty, allowed an appeal, to be completed within six months of the trial, and then taken to a suitable place of execution and hung by the neck until he is dead. Those young women, in their no doubt plod-like way, were acting as our surrogates, or if you like, our servants in doing their duty to investigate what they thought was a straightforward burglary. A murderous assault on them is a murderous assault on all of us. They deserved, indeed, they were absolutely entitled, to the best protection we can provide for them. Arming them would achieve nothing. In so far as I can understand from the MSM, they were lured into an ambush and carrying guns would have availed them nought. Only the certain and sure knowledge in the criminal mind that murdering a policeman (or any public servant) will automatically lead to the rope would have any effect in altering their criminal behaviour. Yesterday's killer will probably spend about 20-odd years in jail swaggering about as he lives on his 'reputation' as a cop-killer. Probably he will be out in late middle-age, free to repeat his cowardly crime. It is even possible that some particularly dimwitted 'Cocklecarrot' will congratulate him on his courage as that idiot did the other day when he let a burglar go free. Finally, a thought for all those people who resolutely refuse to countenance the death penalty - how much responsibility do you - yes, you! - take for the deaths of those two young women?
I have been racing - er, well, expending short bursts of energy - to try and finish my new, all-singing-all-dancing PowerPoint (PP) presentation on the Battle of Waterloo. Yesterday a commenter called Jeff left a comment on an earlier post of mine and it transpires that he works for a PowerPoint design company in Canada. Until now, I had reckoned myself the Cecil B. de Mille of PP designers but I suspect that Jeff's outfit have forgotten more about PP than I will ever know. Even so, I have no hesitation in declaring my total and unstinting love for PP and the team of swots who dreamt it up in the first place. It appeals to the latent (very latent) artistic side of my nature because colour, tone, shape, balance and movement all have to be considered along with sound effects if required. Also there is a sort of theatrical element involved because you must limit the effect of PP's flair at those points during the presentation where you need the audience to listen to what you are saying. In other words, PP can be a bit like acting with one of those prima donna leading ladies who will up-stage you at every turn - bitch! Anyway, I love it and I can tell you that when I gave my last PP talk on the Battle of Midway and my little aircraft flew across the screen and bombed my little ships I was like a child of five at Christmas - and my audience loved it, too, after I woke them up to make sure they watched - well, it had been a good lunch!
But returning to Waterloo, again, just like Midway, I am struck by how luck? chance? fate? seems to play such a huge part in great events. With the latter it was a couple of Jap recce planes being delayed by half an hour, and with the former it was a terrific mid-summer rainstorm on the Saturday afternoon and evening the day before the battle. The rain 'stair-rodded' in for hours and allowed the British to make their escape up the road from Quatre Bras and on to the field at Waterloo. The next morning Napoleon had ordered that battle commence at 09.00 but was advised that the ground was so sodden that artillery would be rendered ineffective. Gunners firing round shot (canon balls) liked to achieve a skip and bounce effect which would provide you with a 'bigger bang for your buck' by taking out considerably more men. Equally, the howitzer gunners knew that their exploding shells, instead of lying on the ground fizzing away until the fuse went off, would instead bury themselves in the mud and achieve very little. As an ex-gunner himself, Napoleon appreciated the problem and so the opening 0f the battle was delayed by over two hours in order to give the ground time to dry out somewhat. Those two hours turned out to be gold in the bank as far as Wellington was concerned because it gave his Prussian allies that bit more time to come in on Napoleon's flank and clinch victory. Splendid chaps, those Prussians, won't have a word said against them, er, well, the 19th century ones, anyway.
All of that old waffle was by way of telling you that I am giving my PP talk on Waterloo tonight and I am still frantically trying to put in last minute touches and tweaks - that's another problem with PP, you can never stop fiddling with it! So I might be a bit busy for the rest of the day.
What is it with those Russkies? Being a Brit and therefore fixated on weather because usually no three days are ever alike and when you really need rain you get a heatwave and when you are desperate to top up the tan after the eye-wateringly expensive hols in Majorca you can guarantee non-stop stair-rods to wash it all away, and thus, the weather is the only topic of conversation in the British Isles. The Russkies, on the other hand, have weather you can depend on; it will freeze your arse off for six months and then fry it for the next six months. This leaves them with very little to talk about - except love, or, having just watched the insufferable Anna Karenina, 'lurve' is perhaps more apt!
First, let me say that I really admired the way the film was staged - and I use that word deliberately. It is set, for the most part, inside an old theatre which changes effortlessly (apparently!) from ballroom to race course to swank restaurants and so on. All of that was totally brilliant but the problem lay with our bloody, and bloody-minded, eponymous heroine played by Keira Knightley. Within 20 minutes I had decided that all she needed was a good slap and I was prepared to volunteer. Part-way through the film I kept being reminded of some long-lost female character whom she resembled - and then it came to me - Scarlett O'Hara! But the difference was that whilst she was an equally tiresome pain in the bum, she also had guts and fighting spirit which is why I loved her. Mrs. Karenina, on the other hand, was either spitting blood and nails at the men in her life or bursting into tears. Needless to say, one soon lost patience with the men in her life, too!
There was a sort of sub-plot featuring some Russian, aristo hippie-type, a bit like that old Lord of Bath, or whoever he was, with the beard and the harem of hippie birds. This Russian one was, I assume, a sort of surrogate Tolstoy figure with his insistence on freeing his serfs and scything by hand what looked like 3,000 acres of corn alongside his men! Quite where he fitted into the scheme of things I never did find out. To be fair, my friends and I had helped a bottle or three of fairly decent Valpolicella on their way and as lunchtime drinking does not suit me I might have dozed off and missed a bit.
This was the first time that I had seen Kiera Knightley, or, 'IKEA' Knightley as one rude critic calls her. I was not struck! It's not her fault but the poor (multi-millionairess) girl has a mouthful of strong, large teeth which have a tendency to burst out from behind her somewhat thin lips which gives her a distinctly carniverous look - rather nerve-wracking, actually, especially on a wide screen. However, one must be grateful for small mercies. I have never felt an overwhelming urge to read Tolstoy, not least because from the little I know of his life he sounds a total prat! Now that I have seen this film, written no doubt lovingly by Tom Stoppard, I know now that I never will read any of his books. The other consideration, of course, is that I probably wouldn't live long enough to finish any of them!
I have tried, really tried, to think of a single reason why Netanyahu will not "Cry 'Havoc' and let slip the dogs of war" in the next two or three weeks. His grand strategic reason is simple - the very existence of his own country and people. The only brake to his action would have been a friendly American ally whose promise that it would stand by Israel at the appropriate time could be relied upon. Unfortunately, Obama, since day one of his presidency, has made it abundantly clear that the existence of Israel is no longer to be considered a prime factor in American policy. In fact, just the opposite because by a slippery use of delay, hesitation and downright slights to Netanyahu, personally as well as politically, he has made it clear that an Iranian bomb and delivery system is not a matter of critical importance to the USA. 'The Kraut' spells it out at The National Review:
There are two positions one can take regarding the Iranian nuclear program: (a) it doesn’t matter, we can deter them, or (b) it does matter, we must stop them.
In my view, the first position — that we can contain Iran as we did the Soviet Union — is totally wrong, a product of wishful thinking and misread history. But at least it’s internally coherent.
What is incoherent is President Obama’s position. He declares the Iranian program intolerable — “I do not have a policy of containment; I have a policy to prevent Iran from obtaining a nuclear weapon” — yet stands by as Iran rapidly approaches nuclearization.
The Telegraph, reporting on the huge armada gathering at the Straits of Hormuz, confirm the inherent confusion in American policy because at the heart of this allied force are not one but three US carrier groups with a total of more aircraft than the entire Iranian airforce. 'The Kraut' quotes others who can see the idiocy in Obama's confused and confusing policy:
A policy so incoherent, so knowingly and obviously contradictory, is a declaration of weakness and passivity. And this, as Anthony Cordesman, James Phillips, and others have argued, can increase the chance of war. It creates, writes Cordesman, “the same conditions that helped trigger World War II — years of negotiations and threats, where the threats failed to be taken seriously until war became all too real.”
The essence of the matter is the absolute of refusal of Obama and Clinton to draw specific and detailed 'red lines' and issue resolute warnings of the retribution to come if Iran steps over them. 'The Kraut' sums it up, thus:
This is beyond feckless. The Obama policy is a double game: a rhetorical commitment to stopping Iran, yet real-life actions that everyone understands will allow Iran to go nuclear.
Yet at the same time that it does nothing, the administration warns Israel sternly, repeatedly, publicly, even threateningly not to strike the Iranian nuclear program. With zero prospect of his policy’s succeeding, Obama insists on Israeli inaction, even as Iran races to close the window of opportunity for any successful attack.
The cataclysmic shock to the world's economy will be enormous but, my guess, temporary provided that Israel has the where-withal to execute the operation and to lash back successfully against any of its neighbours who might try to fight on Iran's behalf. In fact, if the wilder elements in Palestine and Syria do chance their arm the Israelis might be quite pleased for the opportunity to break it off and beat them over the head with the bloody end!
Just as interesting will be the effect war might have on the American election. I sense a deep strain of war-weariness in the American public and so Obama's 'softly-softly, nicely-nicely' policy towards the Arabs might be applauded and Israel's action deprecated. However, if the Iranians are daft enough to attack US warships, which they have threatened to do, and if they get lucky and take one out in the Straits of Hormuz, then Romney, who I think will win anyway, will then win by a landslide.
Interesting times - I'm afraid to say!
Hillsborough! Dread word and I mean 'dread' in all its senses. For the benefit of my foreign readers I have provided a Wiki link to the subject which I have not read but, given the notorious controversy over this slaughter and the way in which Wiki reports are produced, I would urge caution. However, I would strongly urge everyone to read Anna Racoon's commentary on the subject which, whatever you think about her conclusions, does provide a superb insight, from an insider, of the deeply peculiar 'Scouse' mentality.
As a soppy-soft Southerner, myself, whose knowledge of football and football crowds is limited to what I hear on 'TOOORKSPOOORT' every morning and the 'telly' on an occasional basis, I have avoided this emotional minefield. But enough is enough! In the umpteenth investigation and report into this catastrophe, a committee led by the Bishop of Liverpool, and I know you will find this hard to believe, found the Liverpool fans totally innocent, and the South Yorkshire Police, the Emergency Services, the coroner, Sheffield Wednesday football club, The Sun newspaper, Kelvin McKenzie, some deadbeat Tory ex-MP and everyone else in the whole wide world, including me, er, and you, I guess, guilty! I have only one thing to say to this - BOLLOCKS!
What I have never understood about this entire farrago is that the families of the deceased have been waging a campaign to clear the names of their loved ones! But surely no-one ever supposed that they were guilty in any way at all. As a commenter at Anna Raccoon's writes:
“Those that died were not drunken thugs but those that caused their deaths were Drunken Liverpudlians that arrived en mass without tickets & stormed the entrances as kick off approached. I was there I came in from the Liverpool end, I was pestered for tickets from Liverpudlians pouring out of the pubs asking for spares. Of course the culprits then scarperred after the carnage & were not breathalysed. Quite why the dead would have their blood tested for Alcohol is pointless, they were there on time with their tickets. (My emphasis)
It seems to me to be a classic example of that old philosophical problem expressed in the analogy of a peanut resting on an anvil: is it the hammer that is the cause of the crushing of the peanut or the anvil? Whatever, the peanut is obviously completely innocent. In this case, the anvil was supplied by the Sheffield club and the local council, both of whom knew for months ahead that the ground was unsafe and that no safety certificate had been issued. The hammer was the late arrival of, shall we say, 'boisterous' Liverpool fans many of whom did not have tickets. Did they file in to their places in a normal civilised manner? Obviously not because there are 96 dead bodies to testify to the very opposite. Now, it wasn't the Sheffield authorities who pushed the crowds forwards, nor was it the South Yorkshire Police, and whilst The Sun and its editor are large public figures they didn't do any of the shoving either, and the well-behaved fans at the front who had arrived early with tickets certainly didn't misbehave. Nor did I, er, did you? No, I thought not. The stupid, senseless, irresponsible and - I choose the word with care - uncivilised shoving was from one source only - a mob of Liverpool football fans at the back of the crowd. It's interesting that none of those fans, or their families, seem to have come forward to proclaim their innocence. Why would they when all the attention has been centred on the dead who were then and always have been palpably innocent?
Needless to say, the behaviour of the 'authorities', using that word in its widest sense, after the event was as despicable as it was inevitable. Lack of a moral code is not confined to bankers!
Well, not all of it, naturally, I mean, there's masochism and then there's reading 'The Graun' from beginning to end! No, I have just read a bit of it, in fact, just one article sent to me as a cutting by a friend and thus, happily, I have now discovered Mr. Francis Spufford and his excellent essay on why he is a Christian believer. My only irritation with Mr. Spufford is in knowing that if I run this blog for another 50 years (and that's a threat not a promise!) I will never be able to write as well as he does. I was hooked from his opening paragraph:
My daughter has just turned six. Some time over the next year or so, she will discover that her parents are weird. We're weird because we go to church. This means as she gets older there'll be voices telling her what it means, getting louder and louder until by the time she's a teenager they'll be shouting right in her ear. It means that we believe in a load of bronze-age absurdities. That we fetishise pain and suffering. That we advocate wishy-washy niceness. That we're too stupid to understand the irrationality of our creeds. That we build absurdly complex intellectual structures on the marshmallow foundations of a fantasy. That we're savagely judgmental. That we'd free murderers to kill again. That we're infantile and can't do without an illusory daddy in the sky. That we destroy the spontaneity and hopefulness of children by implanting a sick mythology in young minds. That we teach people to hate their own natural selves. That we want people to be afraid. That we want people to be ashamed. That we have an imaginary friend, that we believe in a sky pixie; that we prostrate ourseves before a god who has the reality-status of Santa Claus. That we prefer scripture to novels, preaching to storytelling, certainty to doubt, faith to reason, censorship to debate, silence to eloquence, death to life.
Right, I thought to myself, that's a nice deep hole you have just dug for yourself, Mr. Spufford, let's see how you get out of it. He began well enough with a sort of pat on the back to 'Archbishop' Dawkins and the late Christopher Hitchens but instinctively one felt he might have been holding a dagger as he did it it:
But hey, that's not the bad news. Those are the objections of people who care enough about religion to object to it. Or to rent a set of recreational objections from Richard Dawkins or Christopher Hitchens. As accusations, they may be a hodge-podge, but at least they assume there's a thing called religion which looms with enough definition and significance to be detested. In fact there's something truly devoted about the way that Dawkinsites manage to extract a stimulating hobby from the thought of other people's belief. Some of them even contrive to feel oppressed by the Church of England, which is not easy to do. It must take a deft delicacy at operating on a tiny scale, like fitting a whole model railway layout into an attaché case.
How right was that? Those who virulently attack religion can at least be said to care about the matter and that includes the little minds, usually unable to think for themselves, forced to pick up the trifles deposited by the two great anti-religionists of our age. But for the Great Unwashed Masses (GUM) the response to arguments over religiosity is neither pro or con, it is simply total indifference mixed with, er, like, you know, sort of, embarrassment:
No: the really painful message our daughter will receive is that we're embarrassing. For most people who aren't New Atheists, or old atheists, and have no passion invested in the subject, either negative or positive, believers aren't weird because we're wicked. We're weird because we're inexplicable; because, when there's no necessity for it that anyone sensible can see, we've committed ourselves to a set of awkward and absurd attitudes that obtrude, that stick out against the background of modern life, and not in some important or respectworthy or principled way, either. Believers are people who try to insert Jee-zus into conversations at parties; who put themselves down, with writhings of unease, for perfectly normal human behaviour; who are constantly trying to create a solemn hush that invites a fart, a hiccup, a bit of subversion. Believers are people who, on the rare occasions when you have to listen to them, like at a funeral or a wedding, seize the opportunity to pour the liquidised content of a primary-school nativity play into your earhole, apparently not noticing that childhood is over. And as well as being childish, and abject, and solemn, and awkward, we voluntarily associate ourselves with an old-fashioned, mildewed orthodoxy, an Authority with all its authority gone. Nothing is so sad – sad from the style point of view – as the mainstream taste of the day before yesterday.
What the GUM make of Islamists getting hot under the collar over perceived insults to Allah from people who now have no need of a collar because their heads have been removed, one can only guess. But Mr. Spufford is surely right, in our 21st century western world to believe in a god will earn you either a discreet rolling of the eyes, or a pat on the back and the suggestion, old chap, that you have another drink and tell us what you really think about the Man United team these days. And if, by accident (and it surely would have to be by accident) you bump into 'Archbishop' Dawkins, all you will receive in place of blank incomprehension will be a load of semi-scientific waffle which will miss the crucial point of theism by a mile. Thus, you will not so much 'meet' as pass each other in a mutual fog of misunderstanding. Mr. Spufford is absolutely straightforward and honest in telling us that his religious beliefs are founded on emotion - and he makes the case, persuasively, that surprisingly, emotion provides a very sound basis:
That's what I think. But it's all secondary. It all comes limping along behind my emotional assurance that there was mercy, and I felt it. And so the argument about whether the ideas are true or not, which is the argument that people mostly expect to have about religion, is also secondary for me. No, I can't prove it. I don't know that any of it is true. I don't know if there's a God. (And neither do you, and neither does Professor Dawkins, and neither does anybody. It isn't the kind of thing you can know. It isn't a knowable item.) But then, like every human being, I am not in the habit of entertaining only those emotions I can prove. I'd be an unrecognisable oddity if I did. Emotions can certainly be misleading: they can fool you into believing stuff that is definitely, demonstrably untrue. Yet emotions are also our indispensable tool for navigating, for feeling our way through, the much larger domain of stuff that isn't susceptible to proof or disproof, that isn't checkable against the physical universe. We dream, hope, wonder, sorrow, rage, grieve, delight, surmise, joke, detest; we form such unprovable conjectures as novels or clarinet concertos; we imagine. And religion is just a part of that, in one sense. It's just one form of imagining, absolutely functional, absolutely human-normal. It would seem perverse, on the face of it, to propose that this one particular manifestation of imagining should be treated as outrageous, should be excised if (which is doubtful) we can manage it.
Please read his essay, it is a delight whether or not you accept his premises.
I expect the chaps at the FO are doing 24-hour shifts this month (not!) given the potential turbulence building up in foreign affairs. Tomorrow the German Court pronounces on Merkel's efforts at European tap-dancing. One looks to Supreme Courts for clear, straightforward rulings but as the American equivalent showed just recently they can be more slippery than the warranty contract from a second-hand car dealer! Whilst I would stand on the table and sing the German national anthem if they were to stamp their legal jackboots all over the current confection, I am not bothering to learn the words because I expect the usual pile of fudge.
Meanwhile, back East, the Chinese Communist Party (CCP) and their government are readying themselves for change at the very top. Needless to say, this is all done with absolute secrecy behind closed doors which used to work but, in this day and age of personal and global communications, does not anymore. For example, Xi Jinping, the man slated to be the next Party Secretary, has apparently gone missing, or at least, he has not been seen in public for a week or so and has cancelled various scheduled meetings with foreign visitors, including 'HillBilly'. Needless to say, the Chinese internet has gone viral with unsubstantiated rumours which have now been picked up by the western media.
I was struck by an item in Ferdinand Mount's superb book, Full Circle (of which, more later - you have been warned!), in which he describes the way in which the ancient Greeks and Romans used to call in the populace in their tens of thousands in order discuss and decide on political matters. Today, the internet is the equivalent of those forums and the CCP is floundering in its efforts to control it. Apart from anything else, the CCP have long suffered with a credibility problem given their lack of political 'legitimacy'. Corruption and misrule is rife throughout the regions, as the recent Bo Xilai affair demonstrated. Times are getting hard again in China due to the global economy and the Party is struggling to deal with it. Their banks are broke and several regional governments are getting out of control. There are factions within the CCP who yearn for a return to Mao-ism and they will do their best to whip up nationalism over Chinese claims to various islands in the South China Sea. One piece of information I picked up from those old 'Intel-hands' at 'NightWatch' was the incredible fact that a law was passed in 2005 which would inflict the death penalty on any Chinese leader who allowed any part of Chinese territory to be ceded - and that includes those islands that the Chinese think they own!
"Beware of interesting times" - now who said that? Oh yes, some Chinese chap!
Look, I'm sorry but there's no getting around it, when it comes to charmless, awkward, gaucheness no-one does it better than Andy Murray, plus, he is an incomprehensible Jock, as well. I have lost count of the number of times I have scrambled for the 'do-flicker-thingie' in order to switch over to 'Today in Parliament', or anything, really, just so long as I didn't have to watch this mumbling, shifty-eyed Caledonian with his pathetic 'beard' try for the umpteenth time to explain why he had failed to live up to the expectations of the Canary Wharf hacks, an expectation never shared by the rest of the country who rather like a good British loser, I mean, it's sort of a tradition now, isn't it? His foot-shuffling, darty-eyed awkwardness when faced with interviewers I can only put down to his childhood and those numerous occasions when, I suppose, he had to face that maniacal mother of his and explain why he came second - again! Well, I wouldn't want to face her and I have a hide like a rhino!
All of the above, of course, you will recognise as pure, unadulterated bile from Mr. Grumpy still suffering major dyspepsia having been forced to spend six weeks taking evasion action against non-stop incoming Olympics. So, on this happy, I repeat 'happy' (and that's a smile not a grimace!), occasion following Mr. Murray's win in New York I am going to try to shrug off my prejudice and tell it as it is. Anyone who plays tennis at the top level is, by definition, a great athlete, using that word in its widest sense as meaning a person with strength, agility, superb hand-eye co-ordination and the ability to think under severe pressure. I almost forgot the other usually unsung part of the requirement, the possession of grim determination to practice, practice, practice and then practice some more. All of those virtues Mr. Murray possesses in full. The fact that it has taken him so long to win a major championship and that on the journey he has suffered so many disappointments adds even greater lustre to his achievement today. I take back the sneers and the jibes of yesteryear and instead offer up not just my congratulations but my very genuine admiration.
As a small token of my new feelings I have resisted the urge to find a photo of him looking like a total plonker and instead found one which is rather charming. Well done, Andy, I always knew you could do it - yes, yes, I know, sheer humbuggery, but no-one does it better than me!
I insist that a statue must be erected to honour Julia M, that indefatigable hunter of unconsidered stupidities, gaffes, Pecksniffian pratishness, Coclecarrot cock-ups and the numerous sayings of those in urgent need of a tongue amputation. Today she provides a photo of a particularly dim example of bad car parking but best of all she points us to a new site whose title says it all: http://youparklikeacunt.com/. Here is one of their examples and for the benefit of my e-pal, Andra, I have great pleasure in telling you that this picture was taken in Australia! The owner of this, er, unique blog provides his own commentary to all his photographs and I have reproduced it below:
“Yes this actually did happen. This fucktard has not only entirely blocked the bicycle lane but has also partially obstructed the only traffic lane. Seriously … WTF? Photo taken in Taroona TAS, Australia”.
Why are we thinking “well at least he’s not up on the path”. Are we getting soft??
Thank you, Julia - again!
Golden days before they end,
Whisper secrets to the wind
Your ['lympics] won't be near you anymore.
All the rainbows in the sky
Start to weep and say goodbye
You won't be seeing ['lympics'] anymore.
Good old Roy Orbison, he could belt out a great number with the best of them. I have taken liberties with his lyric but I just wanted to express my 'joy unconfined' that the whole wretched, over-blown, over-here, huff 'n' puff has finally ended. Well, except for today's superfluous parade upon which I trust the gods to pour their scorn, and their rain, as a sign of their displeasure at all those ridiculous bread and circuses. The entire fandango has cost us all a fortune for absolutely nil return but happily the 'onlie begetter', Mr. Tony Blair, will not feel the pinch. That doyen of the utterly useless millenium dome has just earned himself £1 million an hour for arranging a 3-hour meeting between the warring boards of two mining conglomorates wrangling over a merger. Instead of a parade of athletes today they should drag that wretched man through the streets in a tumbril!
Sorry (well, not really!) to be such a grump but I have loathed and despised the entire thing. I don't trust any of the so-called athletes and as for those jumped-up, pampered panjandrums who run the circus, in my opinion if Londoners had any gumption they should have lined the routes of those 'Zil lanes' and hurled rotten veg at them as they swept past. Anyway, now we can all return with a sigh of relief to a nice, honest, sporting contest in which the participants are young men of the finest character imbued with all that's best in honourable sportsmanship, I mean, of course - footie's back! Sorry, did you say something . . . ?
My great Leap for Mankind into the 21st century as I strove to convert my computer to MS8 ended in a major pratfall! Apparently I am so ancient and decrepit, or rather my current 'thingie', MS XP, is so antediluvian that 'Miss Modernity MS8' will not even speak to me! Of course, to be honest there wasn't too much in the way of striving on my part but I did have to stand behind 'SoD' and urge him on to greater efforts, but alas, to no avail. However, I am assured that my computer equivalent of an injection of monkey glands will take place next week and then you had all better look out!
In fact, you should look at the whole of Illinois but concentrate on Cook County which contains Chicago. Edward McClellan at Ward Room sets the scene:
Illinois is the most Democrat-dominated state in the union, measured by the party’s control over state government and its votes for U.S. Senate and president.
The Democrats have controlled the governor’s mansion and both houses of the legislature since January 2003. They stayed in power even after their two-time governor was impeached following one of the biggest corruption scandals in the state’s history. [...]
Why are Republicans so powerless in Illinois? As the saying goes, geography is destiny. It’s all about Cook County, which contains half of Illinois’ voters.
In other words, it is all about city versus suburbs and countryside. And now you can see why the Dems, in all their various guises as community organisers and such, have infiltrated the cities, in this case Chicago, and by means of State and City funds they have metastasized.
It's not that the Republicans haven't tried to break the Democrat grip. The last gubernatorial candidate carried 99 out of the 102 counties that make up Illinois - and still lost! All a Dem candidate for governor has to do is carry Cook County and he's home and dry.
So, you might ask, particularly if you are an American voter, how are things going up there in Illinois and 'Windy Democrat City'? Well, of course, as we all know the last State governor, 'Blago the Blagger', had a spot of bother and is currently serving 14 years inside:
On State Street, that great street, I just want to say
They do things that they don't do on Broadway
Yeees, you can sing that again! But really it is time that Chicago changed its name to Daleyville or something because the Daley family have had the place in their back pocket for two generations. Daley Snr. was Mayor from 1955 to 1975 and his son ran the joint from 1989 to 2011:
Bet your bottom dollar, you'll lose the blues in Chicago
Well, you will if your name is Daley! But today there is a new Democrat at the helm, the deeply unlovely Rahm Emanuel:
He used to hold Obama's hand in his early days as a 'community organiser' in Chicago and continued to do so at The White House until, in my opinion, Valerie Jarrett bit it! So he retired back to Chicago and as an ex-machine pol who had risen through the ranks of the Chicago political 'mob' he slipped effortlessly into the Mayor's office, there being, I assume, no Daleys available!
They have the time, the time of their life
Oh yes, in Democrat Chicago, where you have to go back to the late '20s to find a Republican mayor, they are certainly having "the time of their life", albeit, for many Chicagoans it is a short life and definitely not a merry one according to Bethany Mandel at Commentary:
The city of Chicago, the third largest in America, is crumbling into anarchy. The murder rate is so out of control that federal authorities have agreed to assist the Chicago Police Department in their efforts to curb soaring violence. The city has seen over a thirty-percent rise in its murder rate this year and in the last eight days of August, 82 people were killed or wounded by gun violence. With his city in a violent downward spiral, Mayor Rahm Emanuel has been focusing on what’s important: banning Chik-fil-A from Chicago.
Perhaps we should leave the final word on what life is like in a Democrat-controlled conclave like Chicago to:
The Kebbeh family of Gambia came to America and settled in Chicago in search of a better life for their children. The Chicago Sun Times reports, “They are considering going back to Africa after [their son Muhammed] became the city’s 370th murder victim this year and second of his six siblings to be gunned down on the South Side in the last six months.” (My emphasis)
Says it all, really!
I am obliged to Mr. Victor Morton of The Washington Times for his semantical reseach into the antecedents of the Democrat party's single word slogan - FORWARD. It has history, that word!
Mr. Morton reminds us that 'Forward' has long and strong connections to the most virulent forms of Marxism:
The slogan "Forward!" reflected the conviction of European Marxists and radicals that their movements reflected the march of history, which would move forward past capitalism and into socialism and communism. [...]
There have been at least two radical-left publications named "Vorwaerts" (the German word for "Forward"). One was the daily newspaper of the Social Democratic Party of Germany whose writers included Friedrich Engels and Leon Trotsky. It still publishes as the organ of Germany's SDP, though that party has changed considerably since World War II. Another was the 1844 biweekly reader of the Communist League. Karl Marx, Engels and Mikhail Bakunin are among the names associated with that publication.
And even Lenin is attached to the name:
Vladimir Lenin founded the publication "Vpered" (the Russian word for "forward") in 1905.
So come on, you Yankee-doodle-dandies, altogether now, keep in (goose) step and on the word of command . . . FORWARD! . . . and don't forget to wave your little bouquets of flowers to the Dear Leader as you dutifully march past!
I am always honest with you, dear reader, well, sort of, you know, more or less, er, perhaps sometimes a bit more less that more, if you follow me . . . where was I? - oh, yes, being honest, well, the absolute truth is that I did not stay up until one in the morning to listen to Obama's speech - I know you will find that hard to believe but it's the truth! However, you will recall me telling you that I tend to have Sky News on the TV in the kitchen constantly - well, he's such a nice man, that Rupe - and so from time to time I caught bits of the replays, slightly longer bits than I intended because I kept losing the bloody 'do-flicker-thingie' and couldn't switch him off. However, I received the distinct impression that Obama, apart from being one of life's natural-born, A1 crashers capable of non-stop yadda-yadda, on this occasion he had even less to say than usual. So you can imagine my delight to pick up from Drudge the always very wise, shrewd insights (er, when he agrees with me, that is!) of 'The Kraut' quoted from a discussion programme on Fox News:
I was stunned. This is a man who gave one of the great speeches of our time in 2004, and he gave one of the emptiest speeches I have ever heard on a national stage. Yes, it had cadence, and yes, there were deceptions in it, but that is not what is so striking about it. There was nothing in it. This is a man who believes that government can and should do a lot. There is nothing in here that tells us how he's going to go from today to tomorrow. For any of the so called goals and what government is going to do, what is he going to enact?
If you go to the link you can watch and listen to 'The Kraut' himself. Actually, he looked even more miserable than usual but then, poor fellow, he had had to sit through the entire 'loada'baloney' where-as I only heard a few second's worth. If the Yanks vote Obama in I give up on them!
(Busy again today but should manage to regurgitate something during Saturday but Sunday is D-day, my big switch from XP to MS8. To misquote a brave man, 'I am going out of my depth, I may be some time'!)
As I warned you a few days ago, I am in an extreme 'things to do, people to meet' mode and blogging is more than somewhat restricted. So, forgive me if I merely provide you with this link which confirms much of what I previously wrote concerning 'the other woman' in Obama's life - Ms. Valerie Jarrett. And please note that it is written by The NYT not by Fox News!
Regular readers will know of my long-held scepticism concerning AGW (Anthropological Global Warming). Partly this arises from the nature of the people propagating it as a theory, and also, my instinct that our, meaning humanity's, effect on global temperatures is the equivalent of me pissing in my local reservoir and worrying about it overflowing! There is a constantly repeated cliche these days to the effect that some people 'ignore the elephant in the living-room'. In trying to guess (yes, I call it a 'guess' although the swots prefer to call it a 'theory' because it sounds better) as to what is likely to have the greatest influence on the world's temperature, I would point unhesitatingly at that great, big, bright thing in the sky that we call the sun. That monstrous creator and discharger of energy in all its forms is the equivalent of not just one elephant, but every elephant and every elephant's near relations, that has ever existed in the history of the world all crammed into your living-room! The difficulty is trying to decipher the information we have on the sun and its variable states and trying to guess/theorise as to their effects on earth.
One feature has been spotted (pun intended!) and regularly measured for some years and that is the frequency and strength of sunspots which follow a roughly 11-year cycle. There seems to be a correlation between their behaviour, in the sense of appearance or non-appearance, and subsequent effects on earth. This whole subject is densely 'swottish' and consequently I can only pick up the very vague gist of it all. However, in a comments thread to a recent post at the ever-excellent Watts Up With That site, an equally bemused reader begged for someone to provide a synopsis in language that a layman could understand. Shortly there-after, Mr. Rhys Jagger stepped forward and wrote this superb summary and I for one am deeply grateful to him. I have only cut his opening, introductory paragraph:
1. The sun has things called sunspots on its surface some of the time and the numbers of them have been shown to oscillate from a minimum through a maximum and back down to a minimum in a cycle whose length varies from cycle to cycle but is usually around 11 years.
2. Due to changes in the sun’s magnetic field, the solar cycles are usually grouped in pairs of ‘odd cycles’ and ‘even cycles’. One pair is called a Hale Cycle which is usually around 22 years.
3. It has been shown that certain features in the global weather patterns show cyclical patterns, some of which are linked to one solar cycle, others to the Hale cycle. There are other ‘footprints’ of shorter or longer duration which are also linked to interactions between solar and lunar variables; solar and big planet variables etc etc.
4. The effect of sunspots is to change the intensity of certain radiation emitted from the sun which reaches the earth. Occasionally, these can be major pertubations when features called ‘Coronal Mass Ejections’ or ‘Flares’ occur. These have effects on radio signals, satellites and other things orbiting our earth, so folks like NASA, the Hubble Telescope guys etc etc monitor these things carefully.
5. People have noticed that every few hundred years the sun ‘goes quieter’ or ‘very quiet’ for a few decades to several decades. These periods are called minima and are usually named after someone. The Maunder Minimum in the Middle Ages was particularly quiet, whereas a smaller minimum occurred in the early part of the 19th century and was called the Dalton Minimum.
6. Although understanding is still far from complete, researchers are now trying to link solar activity, specific solar output to weather patterns, either short-term or long-term. Piers Corbyn of Weather Action Ltd is someone who makes a living out of this, being particularly adept at predicting extreme weather events associated with solar/lunar pertubations several months ahead of time. His method continues to evolve, as he would freely admit both to his subscribers and those who read his website (www.weatheraction.com).
7. In general, also, the fewer the sunspots you get in an 11 year cycle, the greater the likelihood there is of cooling of the earth. Conversely a series of high sunspot cycles, as occurred in the 20th century, is postulated/believed to be associated with a warming climate. The Little Ice Age was associated with the Maunder Minimum, which was the quietest period of sunspot activity in the past 500 years.
8. Researchers are also wondering whether frequencies of volcanoes/earthquakes/tsunamis etc can be linked to the sunspot cycles. There is certainly no official scientific proof of this, but people are looking at it and having attempts at predicting such events. Time will tell whether they are accurate or not.
9. Of course, if scientists could predict how sunspot cycles would pan out a few decades in advance, this would be extremely valuable for mankind if our politicians, financial communities and farmers made good use of such information for the benefit of societies. In particular, if we were able to predict a marginalisation of yield in major growing areas like Canada, the Northern Mid West of the USA, Russia/Ukraine etc due to the onset of a mini ice age, then efforts would surely be made to evolve agricultural production through lower latitudes. It’s by no means clear that we are able to do this yet and it may take 100 years more of detailed research before it does become possible.
10. Really detailed monitoring of the Sun has only become possible in the era of satellites and telescopes and therefore data prior to about 1950 isn’t really as accurate as the measurements since 1979, when the first satellite data started coming through. As a result, true understanding of what sunspots looked like back in the 1700s, 1800s etc etc is never going to be as accurate as scientists would like. Nonetheless, data from 24 cycles of sunspot cycles since the end of the Maunder Minimum is what scientists use for their predictions for the future.
11. Currently, many scientists believe that the current cycle (24) and the next one (25) will be much weaker than those which have preceded them. There is a body of opinion which believes this points to cooling tendencies from the sun, although how any warming of oceans may compensate for that in terms of air temperatures and subsequent land temperatures is less clear. Scientists who believe that solar output is a major contributor to temperature fluctuations on earth are therefore somewhat skeptical about the ‘global warming’ scaremongering going on particular those who postulate increasing carbon dioxide as the major forcing mechanism.
12. It would not be considered ludicrous therefore for politicians to plan for little rise in temperatures for the next 30 years and they should certainly scenario plan for a possibility of significant cooling. Given, however, that the Dalton minimum in the early 19th century only lasted for 2 cycles before solar output increased again, until proven otherwise, it should be assumed that a return to potentially warmer fare may occur thereafter. Politicians will ask scientists, however, to be constantly looking out for signals that the sun may be going into a deeper sleep and they should be planning how to manage a Northern Hemisphere which might become dangerously short of food in the absence of the Sahara not becoming more fertile in response, should a Maunder-style minimum come to pass.
I wouldn’t expect anyone to take this as gospel truth, nonetheless, I reckon it’s probably a fair summary for non-experts and certainly doesn’t say anything which is clearly false.
The care with which Mr. Jagger avoids claiming certitude for what is, after all, still a theory, is excellent. I, for one, am deeply grateful to him for his superb explanation.
Continuing the huge success of this splendid Island nation of ours in winning so many Olympic medals I am delighted to announce that we have now won the international prize for the biggest collection of ninnies in the world. Here they are, not in order of 'ninniness' - it would be impossible to differentiate between them - but as they are mentioned in The Daily Mail:
Socialite Jemima Khan, journalist John Pilger, film director Ken Loach, publisher Felix Dennis, Professor Tricia David, Nobel prize-winning biologist Sir John Sulston, former Sunday Times journalist Philip Knightley, Lady Caroline Evans, Sarah Saunders, a catering manager, Frontline Club founder Captain Vaughan Smith, Marchioness Tracy Worcester, 53, the model and actress turned environmental campaigner, his assistants Joseph Farrell and Sarah Harrison.
They, presumably, took the word of Mr. Julian Assange that he would appear when called before the Cocklecarrots to face an extradition order from Sweden on charges of sexual assaults on two women, and so they offered to stand surety for his bail money of around £350k. Mr. Assange, to the surprise of no-one outside this select group of boobies, promptly did a runner to the nearest Ecuadoran Embassy where he has sought political asylum leaving these ex-friends (I assume they are now well and truly 'ex') to face an irritable Cocklecarrot demanding the money or else!
Well, it's an ill wind that doesn't blow someone's hat off and into a soaking wet gutter in order to provide me with huge cackles of mirth - and if it just happens to be John Pilger's hat then that is the greatest joke of all time!
It's very odd that even when you're retired with apparently no real claims on your time - shit still happens! I suppose the periods of quietude lull you into that 'hammock on a Summer's day' feeling so that even a few minor alarms and excursions suddenly throw you into a flailing shambles. Such it is with me although honesty insists (dammit!) that I confess it is mostly my own fault. I tend to leave the social calender to the Memsahib, in fact, if I had my way we wouldn't even have a social calender, and thus those occasional weeks come around in which various people desirous of our company, er, well, mostly the Memsahib's, seem to cluster instead of spreading themselves out amongst all the empty weeks. Toss in the fact that I have to give the first rendition of my latest military history talk on the subject of the Pacific War which gives every appearance of actually lasting longer than the war itself, plus, on a very much more serious note, the unexpected funeral of a man I did not know well but who I admired beyond description, and the uncomfortable fact, evident everytime I draw the curtains, that my part of the Churchyard grass needs cutting, including the overgrown part which I deliberately leave during the Spring and Summer so that the wild flowers can grow and the strimming and cutting of which will add yet more of my blood, sweat, toil and tears to the graveyard, and, not to be forgotten, a very dear friend's birthday lunch, plus I am poised to change our car . . . and . . . well, shit happens! So what I am trying to tell you gently, dear reader, is that blogging is likely to be somewhat erratic this week.
This huge disturbance to my normally placid life-style (do I have a 'life-style? - hardly!) is poised to become a perfect storm next week. You see, on Sunday I am taking an enormous leap into the 21st century. My IT Manager, known to you all as 'SoD' (Son of Duff), is descending and, whilst holding me off with one hand, he will with the other rip away my beloved Microsoft XP and replace it with Microsoft 8 - the very latest all-singing, all-dancing and, no doubt, all-crashing 'thingie' from that nice Mr. Gates. It could take me several months to get the hang of it so during the doubtless innumerable 'intermissions', so to speak, you must all be very patient and understanding. I blame my old e-pal 'Fallen Monk' whose site I regularly blight visit because the other day I tried to leave one of my witty comments (well, he's a hopeless old Leftie and deserves everything I hurl at him!) and his infernal machine told me that it could not accept anything from me because I was out-of-date. ME! What a bloody cheek! Anyway, next week I will not just be streets ahead of all of you but entire city blocks! Even if I may not know exactly how it works.
So, you see, great excitements at Chateaux Duff which I could well do without because I really don't 'do' excitement. Anyway, please bear with me if things are a bit hit and miss for a few days.
Even at my creaking old age I still maintain that open-mouthed joy I used to have as a nipper when I saw a conjurer at work, usually at friends' birthday parties. Oddly enough, it is still the 'simple'(!) tricks that give me the most pleasure, rather than those over-elaborate ones the American magicians tend to go in for. I once had to pull off a conjuring trick myself when I directed Stoppard's play Travesties. In one scene there are two characters taken from real-life, Tristan Tzara and James Joyce. The latter is wearing a homburg hat which he waves around from time to time, mainly so the audience realise it's empty and then - hey presto - he suddenly pulls a rabbit from it! I took advice from a pro-magician and so, as Tzara is giving a fairly long and very impassioned speech I asked him to literally jump up and down in passion and wave his arms about. At the same time, I had Joyce, very naturally, backing away slowly until he was up against the side curtain holding his hat behind him. A stage manager then surreptitiously slipped the rabbit into his hat which he slowly brought round to his chest before once again edging back slowly towards centre stage and the capering Tzara who was the centre of attention for the audience. As soon as he stopped, Joyce delivered a few lines and then produced the rabbit from the hat. I checked with friends in the audience afterwards and none of them had spotted the trick. I think I was more proud of that than anything else in the production!
Anyway, all of that is merely a prelude to my advice that you click over to the blog-site of that equally big kid, er, I mean my e-pal and regular commenter, A. K. Haart, who has a YouTube of an excllent magician at work. For you wage-slaves it will be the best possible way to start another week at the coal-face.
'Right . . . er, yes . . . RIGHT! . . . um . . . now then . . . listen, I just want . . . um . . . (what is it I want? Oh, right!) . . . now then, please pay attention because . . . er . . . (stop whispering at me, you're putting me off!) . . . I'm here today to tell you . . . (what am I supposed to be telling them? Oh - that!) . . . right! . . . now then, it's very, very important that we all get together and, er, well . . . sort of, um, stick together . . . (wassa matter? that's not right? well what am I . . . oh, right) . . . yes, OK, so chaps . . . oh, and chapettes, as well, eh? ha-ha-ha, as my very good friend, Boris the bas . . ., um, Boris would say . . . it really, really is very, very important that we . . . (come on, come on, what do I pay you for? That's it!) . . . cut out the cuddle, yes, definitely, no more cuddles. Good night and God bless Her Majesty! (Wadja say? 'Muddle' not 'cuddle'? Well, why the hell didn't you say so! God, do I have to ring that shit Hilton in California every time I open my mouth?) Sorry, sorry, People of Britain, what I meant to say was that we absolutely and definitely must, without any shifting or side-stepping, cut out the muddle in our affairs. Thank you - and goodnight to you all.' (Waddya mean it's still morning?)
'No' is the short answer because there is no superglue stronger than the adhesive which holds politicians to their Whitehall chairs. The Tory Right-wing might be 'going off on one' now but the difference between moaning and murdering (metaphorically, of course) is huge, and as the next election looms over the scene then self-interest will dictate that they keep their mouths shut. As for the il-Lib-non-Dems, they will, at the next election, be slaughtered wholesale and thus return to their rightful status as a three or four man redundent rump of a party - and good riddance, say I!
The interesting question is which party is likely to benefit from their demise? There are a considerable number of their seats in the rural south west, where I live, and you would suppose that the Tories will be a shoo-in. However, you are forgetting 'Dim Dave's almost Olympian accuracy when it come to self-inflicted foot-shooting! According to the prints, one of his main plans to revitalise the economy (do stop giggling!) is to break down planning regulations which protect the Green Belt thus allowing property companies to build on hitherto restricted land. That will upset rural, and mainly Tory, voters like nothing else, particularly if the National Trust, their latter-day equivalent to the Church of England, starts a screaming campaign to protect our countryside. No doubt the outraged Tories in the south west will join hands with those in the Chilterns about to have a high-speed train to nowhere rammed through their peaceful countryside. (I say "nowhere" because, of course, it leads to Manchester, a Labour city, and you cannot get more 'nowhere' than there!) So, the plan is - to upset Tory voters! Well done, Dave, that's really good, original thinking.
Of course, one wonders who will buy all these brand new houses that will erupt like a rash across 'our green and pleasant land'? No-one knows but to help matters along, 'Dave' has yet another 'cunning plan', he will use your money and mine to guarantee loans to new buyers so that they, in turn, can hand over the dosh to the eagerly awaiting property developers. I hope they are contributing their dues into Tory party funds, Dave!
Anyone hoping that Labour will step up to the mark with a well-honed plan needs their bumps felt! According to Andrew Pierce in The Mail, 'Edenoidal Ed' and 'Testicles' are at daggers drawn:
Senior party figures are talking openly about a potentially catastrophic replay of the dysfunctional relationship between Tony Blair and Gordon Brown. Some shadow cabinet ministers fear it could be even worse.
The prospect is remarkable given both men had grandstand views of the feud between Blair and Brown, and know how damaging it was to the Party. But the poisonous history between the Eds goes back to the early days of the Blair era, when they were youthful advisers to Mr Brown after he became shadow chancellor in 1994 and then Chancellor in 1997.
Ever eager to be of assistance to the Labour party,allow me, Gentlemen, to hold your coats whilst you set to. In the meantime, as I forlornly view the political wasteland about me and the collection of down-and-out deadbeats who scrounge a living off it (and me) I can only quote those famous words of that splendid English gent, Mr. Terry Thomas: "What an absolute shower!"
Always good to have one's less than expert opinions confirmed by someone with considerably more knowledge and experience. So, pleasure mixed with pain to read Peter Ferrara's article in The American Spectator which spells out in much more detail my gut feeling that this election in America is of monumental importance. Four years ago Americans voted for ABB, or, 'Anyone But Bush'. Voting for Obama achieved that objective and, moreover, as a bonus it provided them with a nice warm feeling that they had actually voted for a black president, no doubt much as their parents felt when they put a Roman Catholic into the White House in the form of Jack Kennedy. But now they have seen the face of the tiger that lies behind Obama's charm and good looks. He and the Democrat party have shown their colours and only 'them wot's blind or them wot don't wanna see' can be under any misapprehension as to what a second term will mean. As Ferrara points out with deadly accuracy:
The last four years have been a coming out party for the Democrats. For over a hundred years now, Progressivism, a polite, Americanized term for Marxism, has been infiltrating and taking over the Democrat party, the national media, academia, the courts. But until now they have effectively hidden what they are all about. Under Obama, however, the heart and soul of the party has been let out of the closet and revealed (only for those paying attention, however, not the millions who so stubbornly still are not). And that heart and soul is Che. (My emphasis)
It was very astute of Ferrara to identify Che Guevara as the face on the totem pole of Left-wing activists, particularly those who have passed through the 'higher' reaches of Academe in the last 30 years or so. Always fervently admired by young progressives not least, one suspects, because he is so much easier to 'learn' when compared with the intellectual slog required to master Marx and Engels:
Having attended Harvard College and Harvard Law School, I saw all of this first hand. I saw all those prep school Marxists pledging to each other life long fealty to the worldwide socialist revolution, and going on to pose as "liberal" reporters and commentators, "liberal" environmentalists plotting the destruction of capitalism and its middle class prosperity from within, "liberal" candidates moderated just enough to get elected in their districts or states, "liberal" academics tutoring the next generation in the proper, socially acceptable attitudes to worker revolution, and providing cover for each other on the acceptability of more and more radical views.
As for Obama, himself, there can be no doubt where his heart lies, it is written, not in the stars, but in his own life and his own autobiographies:
Let us scrap the social diplomacy so we can communicate most effectively. Barack Obama is not just a communist infiltrator. He is communist royalty, born and bred. He hails from a self-professed communist Kenyan as his father, and from an anti-American 1960s hippie as his mother. Left to be raised by his "progressive" grandparents, he was provided a personal mentor during his adolescent years who was an open member of the Communist Party USA, Franklin Marshall Davis.
In his own autobiographies he tells us how he favored Marxist professors and student radicals in the Ivy League colleges where they are fostered. After he graduates, he becomes not just a student but an instructor in the social manipulation methodologies of openly Marxist revolutionary Saul Alinsky.
And with Saul Alinsky we meet the malign Godfather of the American Marxist movement, the man whose techiques have guided the infiltration of revolutionary Marxism into the very sinews of American public life:
Obama launches his political career in the living room of confessed, anti-American terrorists Bill Ayers and his wife Bernadine Dohrn. He attends the church of neo-Marxist Black Liberation Theologist Jeremiah Wright. I am not trying to break news here, just connect all the dots.
Following Alinsky, Obama campaigns today as an advocate for the middle class. But he and his compatriots see the American middle class as a moral embarrassment because we are so much richer and more prosperous than the rest of the world.
So Obama and his apparat have very clear aims and, as they have demonstrated during the first four years of his presidency, they are honing their skills in applying the means needed to achieve those aims. They will be assisted tremendously by the expected double-dip recession next year - expected because that is precisely what Obama's economic and fiscal policies are aimed at. There is nothing Marxist progressives like better than a full-blown emergency because then, obviously, emergency powers will be required to deal with the crisis - and who would argue with that? Many of these 'emergency powers' will be even more unconstitutional than some of the trickery already slipped past a gullible and dozey American electorate with the help of a supine MSM. If he gets another four years not only will the Supreme Court pass into his control but also the entire Federal judiciary:
Expect as well in a second term for the Supreme Court to break down as well as a check and balance, as it already has in the case of Obamacare. Barely five aging men on the court cannot hold the line against the Obama onslaught for four more years. Obama just needs one more appointment to seize the court for his make it up as you go along judicial activist liberals. Gone then will be any judicial check on his illegal activities, such as making recess appointments without the consent of the Senate, when Congress is not in recess. Or creating bureaucracies operating outside the rule of law, such as Dodd-Franks' Consumer Financial Protection Bureau, which has the power to tax and regulate with no supervision from any branch of government, or the Independent Payment Advisory Board, which has the power to cut Medicare without Congressional approval.
I am by nature always very leary of conspiracy theories and so I am relieved to know that what Obama and his apparat are pushing towards is not, in strict terms, a conspiracy, rather it is the discreet execution of a very well-planned political campaign which was never based on the American four-year cycle but was intended to be insinuated over several decades. First, Alinsky taught that it was necessary to lay the groundworks, to build up a foundation of support in urban areas using city, State or Federal funds to finance so-called 'community projects run by 'community' groups, hence the malignant spread of the ubiquitous ACORN groupuscle. Hand-in-hand with this was the necessity of using links established in colleges, universities and trade unions to push forward like-minded individuals into ever more influential positions of power in the MSM, in State and Federal bureaucracies, the Judiciary and, because armed revolution would not work in the USA, into the Democrat party, itself. It is worth remembering that Obama began his political life working a 'community' organiser and has now been 'placed' into the highest position in the land, but ...:
All of this is not just Obama. It is the heart and soul of today's Democrat party, more publicly revealed to America now then ever before, as more and more Democrats have felt free under Obama to drop their mask, and reveal their inner Che. What is now revealed is America's Democrat party as one of the most left-wing political parties in the entire world.
They are now poised to execute one more heave and America will be over the edge and onto the slippery downhill slope of Marxist socialism which will leave them hog-tied and enfeebled and led by a government and a ruling establishment which will kowtow to every totalitarian gangster in the world. No-one can be certain that the Romney/Ryan team will achieve anyything near the successes of Ronald Reagan but they are all we have. And perhaps it doesn't matter too much how effective they are because, on November the 6th, all the Americna people need to remember, the one single, crucially important idea, is - ABO - Anyone But Obama!