Sunday, March 30, 2008
It's at moments like this I like to reflect that, many billion years hence, the sun will swell with such power and ferocity that it will engulf the Earth, and all of the accumulated wisdom and works of man will be obliterated from the universe in a celestial blast of atomic fury.
Ahh, there we go. I feel better already.
Saturday, March 29, 2008
Tuesday, March 25, 2008
They're speculating that this is a coded signal from Sir Paul that he's a bit miffed about handing over a substantial wedge to his semi-hysterical mentalist ex-wife.
By a freak coincidence, I've just discovered that Sir Paul's Dad might have been sending coded messages too, since Paul McCartney, author of The Frog Chorus, Give My Regards to Broadway and Wonderful Christmastime is an anagram of Nu-Treacly Camp.
We can only hope that was what Mr. McCartney Snr. was getting at however, or Sir Paul could be in for a series of rather nasty bum infections - Paul McCartney is also an anagram of Puny Rectal Cam.
Really. When I was a kid, bands were perfectly content with incorporating backwards messages from Satan, Father of Lies and Lord of the Inferno on their albums, and there was none of this anus-based tomfoolery.
n.b. Honestly, the post title could've been worse. I came this close to calling it No More Lonely Shites.
I think you'll agree that the author's absurd contentions fly in the face of my personal experiences and political beliefs, and are flatly contradicted by a number of economists, historians, political theorists and/or philosophers whom I have either met, read or merely heard of.
Speaking as an ultra-libertarian socialist with strong authoritarian leanings, I firmly advocate a loosely centralised communist state based upon orthodox free market neo-liberalism, and this article manages to violate all of those basic principles.
I ask you, is this flatulent nonsense the norm in newspapers, online journals or personal weblogs these days? This is the most glaring example I've ever seen of the stupidity, iniquity, hypocrisy, ideological insanity and/or bovine, fuck-faced twattishness of those who share the author's political affiliations, religious beliefs, national identity and/or intellectual tradition.
I must regretfully conclude that the author is under-educated, ideologically-fixated, mendacious, partially retarded and/or a collossal, gibbering prick full of cock-knocking bullshit, and that he or she should be entirely disregarded, mocked, fired from his or her post or immediately tried and imprisoned for incitement to violence.
I mean, that's just common sense, isn't it?
Saturday, March 22, 2008
What I Thought When That Iraq War Invasion Thing Was Being Planned And How I Decided Not To Support It, Because It Was a Stupid Idea, And That
Note - I'm posting this long and self-indulgent piece here so I can crib from it later if I find myself in a pie-fight with some joker on the internet.
Recently, I was accused of projecting an "ordinary bloke just trying to make sense of stuff whilst being genuinely shocked by these swivel-eyed ideologues" schtick.
Well, that's probably true, especially when I'm addressing swivel-eyed ideologues. I've been running this blog for more than eighteen months, most of which I've spent taking the piss out of pro-war types. Reading this excellent piece, it occurs that it isn't really fair to criticise without setting out my own position, so here's my tedious, po-faced thoughts on the matter.
FR, your Prime Minister was the most eloquent proponent of the Iraq invasion. Do you have anything to say about his arguments?
In a word, no. Tony gave some very effective speeches in the run-up, and employed the appeal to emotion like a true professional. Whatever else he may have exaggerated, there was no doubt that the majority of Iraqis lived grim lives under Saddam, and I didn't doubt that a majority of them would be glad to see the back of him.
No matter how noble Blair's motivations were, however, this was not his war - it was George Bush's, and anybody backing it was signing up to a war led by a belligerent, hard right-wing moron and his cohort of insane ideologues. This cannot be emphasised enough, and the final nail was banged through the coffin-lid on this issue on the eve of war when Tony was told that Britain could sit on the sidelines if our participation was too difficult politically.
Blair's priorities probably were democracy and freedom for the Iraqis. Sadly, Tony was not in charge - Rummy, Wolfie and co. were, and their priorities were 1) exorcising the ghost of Vietnam so they could 2) Establish American dominance once and for all and 3) give their reptilian pals the opportunity to get their noisome probosces into the Federal Treasury.
This should be stressed to the left wingers who spent the pre-war period lecturing us all about Reagan and the fall of the Soviet Union etc. The people who brought us the Iraq invasion were the same people who gave us those freedom-loving death squads in central America, and it amazes me to this day that anyone could possibly have believed that the Republican leopard had finally changed its spots.
To gauge how honest the Republicans were about their empathy for the suffering Iraqis, I'd suggest paying attention to their efforts on welfare "reform". They're full of rhetoric about how they want to save welfare for the future, but all of their supporters want to destroy it and salt the earth in which it grows. Everyone should instinctively distrust anything the Republicans have to say, because they're liars and assholes.
If you think that's harsh, try to imagine how many nights' sleep Dick Cheney lost over the Iraqis living under tyranny... Then tell me how many nights sleep he's lost about the African AIDS epidemic.
Exactly. If I can summarise my thoughts on American-led campaigns for freedom, it would be only if the grown-ups are in charge.
It's particularly worrying that so many on the left fell over themselves to grant continents of intellectual charity to the Republicans, trusting them with the lives of 25 million people when they wouldn't trust the Tories to run a free bar. The Republicans' ideological lunacy makes the British Conservatives look like committed Marxists.
But after backing and arming Saddam for so long, didn't we have a duty to the Iraqis to depose him?
Ah, the Hitchens gambit. He's been asking this question for years, and always appends it with "Answer comes there none," like some corpulent, boozy Yoda. In all the times he's asked this question, I'm staggered that nobody has said "Yes, but only a gibbering lunatic would trust the self-same fuck-heads who did the backing and arming to do the liberating."
This, I suspect, is why Hitchens has had the Bushies' backs for the last seven years.
You were vehemently opposed to the invasion of Iraq. If you had to reduce your objections to a single word, what would it be?
That's easy - Vietnam. You know, small southeast Asian nation, major wars up until the eighties.
Again, this is a point that should be internalised by those trying to persuade us that we should support liberal democracies when they decide to take on dictatorships. Even with segregation, the US was as liberal as could've been hoped for at the time, but it still found itself balls-deep in a hideous bloodbath.
Thing is, the Americans were right - the Viet Cong really were horrible people, and likely the lives of the South Vietnamese would have been better in a US client state. Sadly, large numbers of South Vietnamese disagreed and fought covertly for the Viet Cong, because the Yanks were foreigners and the Cong were Viets.
That should have made us think twice about invasions of middle eastern countries, which are not known for their Yankophilia.
Vietnam is the prime example of the law of unintended consequences. The US fought in the name of freedom and democracy but wound up in a conflict that killed millions, while spraying poison over one of the poorest agrarian societies on earth.
It's appallingly ironic that a war the neo-cons thought would erase the stain of Vietnam has instead rubbed it further into the fabric.
What about those Weapons of Mass Destruction?
Look, everyone on Earth thought Saddam would have some Sarin or VX gas. Nasty stuff if it's pitched into your bathroom, but about as much of a threat to human civilisation as athlete's foot, and certainly no justification for the ridiculous scaremongering that preceded the war.
While I was deeply suspicious of the sudden, desperate need to castrate Saddam, I gave the WMD thing a chance. If a nut like Saddam was covertly working on nukes, that was something that had to be stomped on immediately.
When we got to the dreaded aluminium tubes and the terrifying model planes filled with Anthrax, however, it was patently obvious we were being fed bullshit. Model planes?
Tote it all up - the planes, the aluminium tubes, the Niger documents, Dick Cheney and Dr. Rice on TV talking about mushroom clouds... The intelligence report the British government cribbed off the internet, for Christ's sake. All of these were shot down by experts who had nothing to gain by protecting Saddam, and it then came down to a straight choice.
Who do you believe - the neutral experts or the fiercely pro-war politicians? If you decided the experts were telling the truth, then everything the politicians said became totally unreliable. At that point, the case for war collapsed.
That didn't stop the world's media throwing their moist underwear at Colin Powell after his speech at the UN, of course.
A lot of people say that previous UN resolutions gave the US authority to invade Iraq, but others disagree. Do you think the war was illegal?
I don't care at all about the legality. Since the dawn of international law, it's been pretty obvious that laws are for little people, and the Big Dawgz do what they like.
Whether it was legal or not, it should be pretty fucking obvious that those who voted for Gulf War I did not think they were writing the Americans a blank cheque for the next twenty years. It would be foolish to imagine that this obvious abuse of trust won't have knock-on effects for voting on future Darfurs and Rwandas.
Of course, I can never shut up. The final straw was the reception pro-war propaganda got in the US. You can intuit a lot about government policy by looking at how it's received by their supporters, and I think it's fair to say that Republicans went absolutely batshit with war fever.
Where to start? The Dixie Chicks, the Cheese-Eating Surrender Monkeys, the Freedom Fries or the Axis of Weasels?
If there's a historical example of a nation rife with naked xenophobia, patriotic grovelling and wilful ignorance producing a positive outcome, I can't think of one.*
But didn't we have to invade Iraq because 9/11 Changed Everything?
I'm not even going to dignify my own question with a response.
Did you predict the suicide bombings and Islamist insanity?
No. I did, however, think that every nation in the region would interfere, that the plan would go to hell as soon as it met resistance and that a large number of Iraqis would hate the Americans on sight.
Can you provide any contemporary evidence to prove that this isn't all just wisdom gained with hindsight?
No. I didn't blog in those days, because I (correctly) thought that bloggers were attention-seeking loudmouths... You'll just have to decide whether I've been trustworthy in the past.
So, you disagreed with the invasion. Surely we should now support the Iraqis and show solidarity?
Depends. Is that "support" and "show solidarity" in the Decent Left sense? Because if it is, it means Don't criticise the continuing occupation and don't call for withdrawal.
It should be obvious that the American "surge" (they would've called it an "escalation" in the sixties) amounts to bribing the lunatics to fight on the American side. Sooner or later, it'll be back to insurgency and civil war.
This isn't rocket science. The Americans have created an artificial state, but everything that's wrong with Iraq needs to be sorted out by Iraqis. The sooner we're out, the better for us and them...
...Because, like many others, I believe that self-determination is the key. Peoples have to struggle for their own freedom, and the hardships they have to endure to achieve it is what makes their chosen political system endure.
Cheers, and apologies to anyone who read this far. This post was brought to you in association with Stella Artois - the reassuringly expensive lager that gets you wellied after six cans.
*Obviously, this depends on whether you think the Russians could've fought off the Nazis without Stalin's ruthlessness, inhumanity and propaganda.
Wednesday, March 19, 2008
The object of the game is to control the entirety of Iraq, a badly degraded former dictatorship with a ruined infrastructure.
Approx. 3 trillion U.S. dollars, around 1.5 million combatants, several million tons of light and heavy armour, air superiority (optional), political support (optional), cassus belli (optional), extensive reserves of oil, strong stomach/religious mania.
A game for two - twenty five million players.
Spend several years cherry-picking dubious intelligence reports, then begin scaremongering, before launching an all-out military invasion of a defenceless, resource-rich middle-eastern dictatorship.
Alternatively, stockpile weapons, high explosives and a violent contempt for humanity.
The U.S. Government is The Banker.
All players can apply to The Banker for cash payouts, although these are easier to secure if the player is a private security/reconstruction firm owned by a dedicated Republican activist.
The Banker retains complete freedom of action and may rewrite the rules at any time it chooses.
The Banker is responsible for doling out Title Deeds and Property to players, although players can wrest control of Deeds and Property from each other. Initially, The Bank will only grant Property and Cash to The Iraqi Government, although after five years of play it will begin to fund all players.
Moneys paid to Republican activists are written off and cannot be reclaimed by The Banker, especially if said moneys have been spent on behalf of Iraqis.
The Bank never goes broke, unless the Chinese refuse to fund its overdraft any longer, at which point all players are declared bankrupt.
At the start of the game, The Banker immediately awards all Properties, control of the Iraqi Army and complete independence to The Iraqi Government, while still retaining ownership of all Properties, the Iraqi Army and The Iraqi Government.
The other players then attempt to wrest control of Properties by bribery, coersion or force.
The game lasts until The Banker declares it is over, or until all other players have been eliminated.
You have been blown up by an IED - Miss all turns.
Congratulations, you have been liberated from tyranny! Stay where you are and don't make any sudden movements.
You have been posted to Baghdad - Collect your underwear once it has been laundered.
The Bank makes an error in your favour, but local militias have declared usury un-Islamic - pay $400 then Go To Jail
Your Meals-Ready-To-Eat are unsanitary - miss a turn in the infirmary.
You have been captured by the Iranian Navy - miss twenty turns while Britain engages in humiliating negotiations and hysterical moral panic.
You have been posted to the Green Zone - Collect $150,000, but slowly, so that nobody notices... That's it... Now, put it in that bag... Yes, you're getting the idea now...
You are Ahmad Chalabi - Collect $500,000
You have found some fork-lift trucks - give them a fresh coat of paint and Collect $1.2 million.
The U.S. Army Med-Evacs you to Germany - collect $2000 pension for the rest of your life.
Ooops - An American attack helicopter strafes your house! Collect $1000 blood money.
The Iraqi Government must remain within the Green Zone, although it may respectfully request that The Banker move on its behalf.
Sectarian Militias are permitted to ethnically cleanse Properties, with or without funding from The Banker, although The Banker is free to eliminate any Sectarian Militia or Iraqi Civilians on adjecent Properties at any time of its choosing, in any manner it chooses.
Republican Civilian Contractors aim to buy the Utilities, following which they must refuse to maintain them and charge The Banker several billion dollars every turn until the end of the game.
Republican Security Contractors may move freely and do as they please, and may exercise their GET OUT OF JAIL FREE card at any point.
British Prime Ministers must attempt to influence The Banker, unless The Banker does not wish to be influenced, at which point British Prime Ministers must pretend to influence The Banker.
Iraqi Civilians must PICK UP $200, following which they must pay $200 to The Banker in petrol duties. The Banker may order any Iraqi Civilian to GO TO JAIL at any time it pleases, where they must stay until The Banker decides they may be released. Iraqi Civilians must also pick up a Chance card every turn.
The United Nations Rapporteur on Torture must GO TO JAIL, where he will be refused entry by The Banker and must then return to Geneva.
American Soldiers must remain on one Property until The Banker tells them to move to another Property. Armoured Infantry may exercise their FREE PARKING on, in or under any other player's property whenever they choose.
British Soldiers must remain at Basra Airport until a British Prime Minister thinks up a way to move them to Afghanistan without annoying The Banker.
Iranians may order all Iraqi players on the South of the board to hand over money or Property at any time.
Players are declared bankrupt when The Banker, The Iranians or a Sectarian Militia declare them bankrupt. The player must then GO TO SYRIA.
Rules For a Short Game
There are no short games in MONOPOLY: IRAQ EDITION. This is a generational game.
End of the Game
The Banker declares victory every turn, on Tuesdays and Fridays, Christmases and New Years, when noteworthy players are eliminated and annually on the anniversary of the game's commencement.
n.b. My contribution to the March 19th Blogswarm - FR.
Monday, March 17, 2008
In shocking news, an inquiry has now discovered that royal butler Paul Burrell removed Princess Diana's ring from her body after her death.
Issues of taste and hygiene aside, it beggars belief that a mere butler would be allowed to perform the autopsy, however well-developed his surgical skills.
Sunday, March 16, 2008
The consequences are grave, and not just for Iraq. It will colour the decision that future leaders take when they contemplate using military power for any purpose other than self-defence. It is a blow to the idea of 'liberal intervention'. But does that blow have to be fatal?
That's just a taste of the editorial, but a representative one.
Let's imagine that Dr. Bollocks, lead surgeon at Bumcrack County Hospital, announces a bold new strategy for combating cancer - say, an experimental vaccine. I'll call it the Bollocks Formula.
The staff proceed to administer the Bollocks Formula to cancer patients, who start to show signs of improvement. After a few weeks, though, they start dying... In ones or twos at first, but the trickle becomes a flood and suddenly even patients who haven't even been vaccinated are dropping like flies. Within months, thousands of patients are dead or gravely ill.
Dr. Bollocks is distraught, and calls a press conference... At which he warns the public about the grave dangers of refusing to treat cancer patients at all, and bemoans their wavering faith in the Bollocks Formula.
Or let me put it another way - after we took an action, in the face of strident opposition, that was supposed to improve the lives of Iraqis but instead killed hundreds of thousands of them and condemned them to live in a chaotic failed state at the mercy of U.S. taxpayer-funded militias at best... Well, I'd say that the damage done to the doctrine of liberal intervention is the least of our fucking worries.
Because that's the deal... It's not about us, dipshits. Britain is long beyond the point where anything we say or do can ameliorate the situation, and frankly, if our reaction to the Iraq invasion clusterfuck is to bleat about how it has shit in our ideological chili, maybe it's time we ordered a tall drink of shut-the-fuck-up.
I always thought that the biggest problem the British public had was hardcore ideological lunatics, determined to bend the world to their vision. Now, after five years of this bad, bad craziness, I'm starting to think that the biggest problem is well-meaning morons who just will not ever learn from their mistakes.
Saturday, March 15, 2008
Thursday, March 13, 2008
Legal concepts such as "beyond reasonable doubt", the presumption of innocence, mens rea, the not proven verdict, time bar etc. are very easy to understand, but just try explaining them to someone who is determined to see malign conspiracies in judgements... I've tried, once, and I managed to chew off my own fists then violently puke them through the screen of my laptop.
Try cleaning that up with only stumps...
Still, I think that people should be aware that the system draws on hundreds of years of tried-and-tested methodology and precedent. To that end, I've randomly picked a historical case, and would like to use it to illustrate how the legal system adapts to changing requirements.
The nation was horrified and transfixed by the case of Crown v Edison, a 1969 prosecution brought against a suspected double murderer.
The defendant, Maxwell Edison, who was majoring in medicine at the time of the alleged offences, was accused of the brutal murder of his girlfriend and his teacher with a deadly weapon.
The prosecution alleged that Edison had waited until his victims were distracted, before sneaking up behind them and striking them twice to the head with a hammer. Forensic evidence showed two further blows, "to make sure (they were) dead" - clear proof of premeditation.
An unusual, but not unheard of case today - it is the sheer incompetence of court officials that I wish to draw attention to.
Firstly, the defendent's family were allowed to scream at the court from the gallery, receiving only a mild rebuke from the presiding judge. Orderly conduct in the courts is sacrosanct in the modern day, and anyone causing such a disturbance would be charged with contempt of court and swiftly removed to the cells.
Amazingly, the defendant then used the distraction to somehow slip from the dock to attack and fatally wound the judge, all without police intervention. This lapse is doubly stunning, since PC 31 had himself given evidence to the fact that the defendant was "a dirty one." When it emerged that, not only had the defendant managed to slay the trial judge, but had done so with the self same weapon that he had used to murder his first two victims, the full scale of the debacle was apparent.
That kind of official negligence would not be possible today, as offenders with a history of violence, playing the fool or causing unpleasant scenes are handcuffed to agents of the court. Unruliness is not tolerated and weapons such as hammers are held by the prosecution and destroyed at the close of proceedings.
That is how our system works - it learns and adapts to ensure the best possible outcome.
For those interested, a full court report can be found here.
Tuesday, March 11, 2008
It's fallen to Scottish energy minister Jim Mather to give the devolved government's response to this suggestion, presumably because all the other SNP ministers were too busy high-fiving each other, swilling champagne and smoking massive cigars.
Those that aren't still doubled up on the floor breathless with hysterical laughter, that is.
I'm stunned that Jim Mather managed to keep a straight face when the reporter asked him if it was a good idea... If I'd been him, I'd have managed to say This is an astonishingly brilliant and well-thought-out plan, that should be immediately implemented in all Scottish schools before I cracked up and started pounding the floor and howling like a lunatic.
Honestly, I sometimes wonder what universe our leaders inhabit. I've no truck with anybody's nationalism*, but I can't imagine any move that Westminster could propose that would be met with more hilarity north of the border.
If Wee Gordon Broon and his cohort want to foster a stronger sense of British identity in the Celtic fringe, they'd be better advised to stop coming up with initiatives like this, which only serve to expose their total isolation from the actual, existing people of the country.
Good God, can you imagine the reaction when head teachers start sending out letters to parents telling them that their kids will be told to read out the following?
"I ….. swear by Almighty God that I will be faithful and bear true allegiance to Her Majesty Queen Elizabeth, her heirs and successors, according to law. So help me God."
Hell, forget a referendum on independence, there'd be burning barricades at Gretna by sundown.
*Unless there's football involved. Then, it's compulsory.
Friday, March 07, 2008
I don't often nail my colours to the mast with a prediction, but I'm betting that this was another case of some lone guy taking the hump with the world he lived in, then shooting it up. You don't need decades of ethnic conflict for that, as recent history indicates.
I'm ready and willing to post a very lengthy apology if I'm wrong - apologies,too, if you expected a punchline, and may all those who celebrated this attack suffer a long and painful bout of gastroenteritis.
Update: On rage murder, in case anyone thought I was overly selective.
Thursday, March 06, 2008
Well, he'd better keep his head down if he knows what's good for him, for the Great British SobFest now heads into White Working Class Misery Month, courtesy of the BBC.
To recap on the state of the UK for non-Brits, the ranks of Britain's marginalised and oppressed now includes all minorities, including Muslims, Jews, Hindus, Catholics, Protestants and atheists; homosexuals, heterosexuals and metrosexuals; white working class people, the middle classes and impoverished landed gentry; Northerners, Southerners, islanders, highlanders and lowlanders; Scots, English, Welsh and Irish; Farmers, long-distance hauliers, fishermen, lawyers and entrepreneurs; smokers, dopers, no-hopers and interlopers; immigrants, emigrants and indigents; men, women, children, the young and the elderly.
There are others, but I'm sticking with only the most persistently victimised. By my estimate, this means that over 99% of the British population are now ignored or actively oppressed by the British state.
This is a wonderful achievement, and should be celebrated. Our ancestors dreamed of a country of absolute equality, and now it has arrived - a country populated entirely by whining, self-pitying, resentful victims.
Not a Utopia, exactly, but I firmly believe that the world is the way it is because a large number of people like it that way. All this misery and paranoia makes no sense to me, but people keep telling me it's perfectly reasonable, so there must be something in it.