Thursday, December 29, 2005

Sounds like a Tory, Looks Like a Tony

In a New Year's message Charles Kennedy reminded us that whatever David Cameron sounds like he is "still a Tory at heart" (let noone ever say Mr Kennedy is slow on the up-take or that he lacks a dry-as-a-bone sense of situationist humour)...

Anyway, Cameron - Tory at heart, right - must be why he leads the Tory party...

Then again Andrew Neil had him fooling Ulrika Jonsson a few weeks back - which makes a change from people fooling with Ulrika. Jonsson was falling for Cameron's 'new politics' hook, line and faux zebra cushion on an even more Daily Mail-man than usual edition of The Week in Politics (or whatever that oddly entertaining late night lubricant-fest Neil hosts with Abbot and Port-a-loo is called...)

So at heart David Cameron IS still a Tory...
and perhaps more importantly at wallet,
at his old (and new?) boys clubs (on second thoughts take a glance at that front bench team - before we even start on the advisers - and lets stick with 'old' boys club),
at private schools (or sorry opted out state schools with 'independent' selection policies - a notable area of agreement with our Prime Minister),
at work...

...You know the list.

You get my drift.

Which is why as Johann Hari points out it is a great relief that our interests are defended in such a robust way by the lovely Mr Tony - who has just ensured that years of
efforts to properly regulate the chemical industry, and the businesses which feed us its products both intentionally and carelessly, have gone up in smoke - or as Johann puts it how Blair has failed to protect us from the 'corporate killers in pin-striped suits'
- he does have such a sense of populist vim lurking under all that sententiousness our Johann that really he is quite wasted on the Indy, but his point is nonetheless sound - and the article is in fact rather better than its title.

I however am even more exercised by a similar example of Mr Tony's great wisdom. This is his well-flagged innovation for the new year of forgetting why he once opposed nuclear power - "Well, err actually, you see I never, err really, as such, opposed nuclear power, more in any case a matter of warheads and that whole labour anti-war thing - all forgotten now, you know, haha, New World Order, threats to liberty, NEW THINKING, global warming, science, advice, industry, realism, solutions not slogans..."- OH SHUT THE F**K UP Tony!

We know Blair gets a masturbatory thrill out of rolling back that delicate pink outer skin of social democracy to reveal the blue blood which apparently throbs in his political head - but surely this is a step too far - this is, after all, not a political issue - is it?

Well the fact is that it has spent much of recent history in the UK as a distinctly left-right political issue. That, if nothing else, should serve to remind us of something about where the loyalties of different political traditions primarily lie (lay? - lets stick with 'lie' - its kind of appropriate).

And this of course is why it has earned the right to be one of the left of centre statues which Tony Blair wants to kick over - but speaking as someone who knows (and has known) a statistically improbable number of people with extremely rare cancers who live(d) near to nuclear power stations and other sources of 'low level' nuclear pollution I would rather prefer if this particular statue could remain a monument to a tradition that puts people before profit and retains a healthy suspicion of what happens when science, finance and industry get together with a big heap of public subsidy, a dressing of official secrets and national interest, and the opportunity to write things down over a ten thousand year half-life instead of a five year amoritisation period.

Billy Bragg has a concert at the RFH in February called Which Side Are You On? - someone should buy Blair a ticket.

Christ - I knew all that populism would get to me eventually!

Friday, December 23, 2005

Spielburg's Munich condemned for "thinking too much"

Sign of the times: Spielburg's forthcoming film about the murder of Israeli athletes at the 1972 Munich Olympics is receiving mixed reviews in the US...

"Munich" does not, as some critics would have it, make a case for moral equivalency. Instead, Spielberg is simply reiterating that the Old Testament demand of an eye for an eye has left the world blinded and wandering in an endless cycle of reprisal. This is not exactly a philosophical or dramatic revelation, and it leaves "Munich" stewing in its own blood and wringing its hands.

Um... isn't this actually a more complex and honest commentary than the kind of pseudo-solution for which this critic apparently hungers?

In some quarters at least America's post-9/11 learning curve appears to still be hugging the horizontal...

Thursday, December 22, 2005

Invasion of the Bodysnatchers - Not my idea of a Brucey Bone-us

OK with a title like that I should be making salacious allegations about Bruce Forsyth's sex life with women many years if not decades his junior, but I'm not... Bruce is far to good at making them himself and in any case most of them are true, which given Bruce's still impressive dancing-ability sheds more light on that business about the male ability to dance being an evolutionary pre-requisite...

No really it apparently is - yesterday's Metro said that scientists said so - or rather that the scientist's PR has spun this tenuous 'Darren Gough is evolutionarily successful' celeb news link to their otherwise rather specialist interest thesis...but whatever, it works for me, at a Metro-level.

So there may yet be some basis for the notion that its actually OK, if slightly eugenic, to say that people who don't appreciate good music should be shot...

Anyway enough of such things, I just thought that the notion that someone is flaying corpses in New York for bone extraction was worth a second look - and was momentarily distracted by the thought that the latest set of perfect teeth in the mouth of say Tom Cruise could be built from bits of Alistair Cooke. No really, you see Alistair Cooke's bones have been 'stolen' well recycled at any rate to be made into dental implants (among other things) - and when I say 'really' that does not apply to Mr Cruise, by the way, that's 'not really' terribly likely - so no newspaper ads denying it please Tom and no lawsuits, there's a good bhuddhist.

What I like is the way his step-daughter gets to the heart (or was that marrow) of the matter. Which is that the people who recieved bits of her Stepfather got a bad deal; rather than complaining that she had a rather lighter than expected urn to scatter in Central Park.

Then again maybe she didn't have any expectations, but just for the record I for one was surprised when I felt the weight of such a container for the first time fairly recently. And I can tell you that that scene in Meet the Parents with the cat is mighty possible if you want to go and use an actual urn-shaped urn - those things have crap centres of balance and their bases are FAR too small for true stability in a cat-imbued environment.

On the up-side though if anyone nicks my relatives bones before they are cremated I hope I will now be able to tell. So get urn lifting my friends unless you think the body snatchers are welcome to the abandoned shells of the recently deceased... Who the hell said Victorian Christmases were out of fashion, huh?

Tuesday, December 20, 2005

The Ape man cometh...well sort of

Oh to be a crazy dictator. It appears uncle Joe Stalin had a plan up his sleeve to defeat capitalism after all. That's right he planned his very own Planet of the Apes army.

According to archive files Stalin ordered the creation of Planet of the Apes-style warriors by crossing humans with apes.

Stalin reportedly told the scientist: "I want a new invincible human being, insensitive to pain, resistant and indifferent about the quality of food they eat."

Well who doesn't. Cutting down on the food bill was obviously an issue for Joe, what with millions dying after the failure of collectivization in the 1930s. You get the feeling he would have loved Lord or the Rings, wait with the whole ape like army of grunts on the march.

You can see it now. Stalin at the Politburo as he bangs the table "Together my ape men and I will rule the world".

 Posted by PicasaDie puny capitalist die

Read the full story here.

Thursday, December 15, 2005

Rat A TAT TAT - WoT the Fuck was that Jack?

There was a certain irony in the fact that Monday's paper's were plastered with front page pictures of a cloud of black smoke from a burning oil store...

Poison Clouds Hit Tonight yelled the London Evening Standard, though a story inside by Justin Davenport revealed that the front page was off the mark, poison clouds had already hit and Sir Ian Blair knew all about it, "Oh yes he did" Wotcha mean?? "HE'S BEHIND YOU!!"

OK OK lets stop the pantomine pillory or was that the punch and judy politics? I get so confused these days...

Speaking at Together Against Terror (or TAT) Sir Ian announced what we had all seen coming for, well, at least a day (from Hertfordshire): "The sky is dark" - hey, but wait a minute Sir Frodo's Tolkeinistic call to, well, fear, I suppose, had nothing to do with not smoking while filling up your tanker in Hemel - oh no. Oh no?

So what Sauronic threat did we face, if not the combustion of complex hydrocarbon chains in Herts?

Sir Scary Police continued,
"We know there are people in the UK as we speak who are planning to mount atrocities and who will use suicide as a weapon."

He then got all metaphysical and in a particularly Shelley-ian moment announced "We are in a different place than before"

Which at any rate has the virtue of literacy unlike Uncle Tony's claim that he was going to arrest everyone who had too much cash on them in order, as he put it in an interview with BBC News, "To make the bad people in fear" - TO WHAT PM?? - to make the bad people in fear Chris, not the people going about their everyday business - and I've tried it, you know I have, and the normal law just doesn't work - I've tried it again and again and again - for years...
Oh shut up you illiterate, at least your scaremongering namesake top cop can speak english (Jesus!) - but what about this 'abnormal law' business - that almost seems like an admission (at last) of quite what an abominable range of unseemly and abnormal powers your unconstitutional little regime has been accumulating through its various legal innovations since autumn 2001 - whatever next, openly admitting that its now a crime to voice an opinion without asking the permission of the police first?

OK, OK, I know its only a crime if its within the earshot of you or your MPs Mr Prime Minister... whatever - could someone email that smug bastard Peter Hain who was appearing on Radio 4 going on about why he was right to break the law to oppose white only sports tours of the UK during apartheid?

Maybe Peter could explain why he voted for the law that convicted Maya Evans

And maybe one of our Tolkeinistic Blair twins could reveal why it makes sense to imprison supposed Enemies of the state plotting terrorism for four years without bothering to ask (or should I say investigate? discover? confirm?) what they were or weren't plotting

Maybe they're waiting for Jack Straw to go on holiday so that someone can offer them an amazing prize of a free holiday in Poland. See, when someone actually asked Jack (about some similar rapscallions) he said that the fact that you had to buy an over-priced washing machine (or was that put your head in it) in order to claim your free holiday COULD constitute torture and so he went and vetoed the whole holiday?!?

Since then, there have been over 200 free holiday flights full of lucky winners passing through British airports but Jack has had no reason to check the rules of the competitions they won because the lotteries they entered were held under US and other jurisdictions - and in any case none of the holiday camps to which they were flying were on British soil.

In case anyone got a bit lost or disorientated after all that time in the air, the CIA, who were running the competitions (which were about building huge haystack-like sculptures out of tiny needles), kept the doors to the holiday charter planes locked at all times - so noone got to see anything suspicious; as Jack explained in a written answer to parliament and an interview on Today so unconvincing that the interviewer just let him talk - a favourite barristers' trick which an experienced jurist like Jack should really have been wise to.

Apparently there is absolutely no evidence at all to suggest that the CIA have been giving away more free holidays since the start of the War on Terror (or WoT). In fact Jack said it was all pretty much 'normal CIA business' as far as he was concerned.

"Knock, Knock, Rat a-TAT TAT"
What the flying fuck is that?
~ I dunno but I'm pretty sure its dead now

Wednesday, December 14, 2005

Truths and myths

For once I agree with the Muslim Council of Britain and the Tory party - it really is outrageous not to hold a public enquiry over 7/7.

Can you imagine how New Labour would have responded had they been in Opposition?

Not only does it lay bare the government's fear of being further exposed over Iraq, it also misses an opportunity to really examine the underlying causes of the attack, an opportunity sadly missed by the Home Office Task Force which further embedded extreme Islam into government policy.

While I'm at it, a word on Iranian President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad's "myth" making about the Holocaust.

Although the man's obviously an anti-semitic crackpot whose recent call for Israel to be "wiped off the map" placed him beyond the pale, I do think his observation that...

They have created a myth today that they call the massacre of Jews and they consider it a principle above God, religions and the prophets.

... does not entirely merit the BBC standfirst:

Iranian President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad has courted further controversy by explicitly calling the Nazi Holocaust of European Jewry a "myth".

Although the implication in the news headlines is that he is a Holocaust denier (as indeed he probably is, but that is not my point) I think he is correct in observing that in a Barthian sense the West has "mythologised" the Holocaust.

Although it was an act of extraordinary evil, so too was the Turkish slaughter of the Armenians, the Bolsheviks of non-Bolsheviks, and Belgians of over 3 million Congolese, yet the German slaughter of the Jews is set apart.

So what's the difference? Well, for one thing the Turks, Bolsheviks, and Belgians got away with it, while the Germans didn't and the results were captured on film. For another, it happened in Europe and was perpetrated by one of the most supposedly civilised nations in the world. It held up a mirror to the anti-semitic shame of us all, if you like.

A further element of myth is that it transforms the subject matter into something unreal, untouchable. And here we also have evidence - if Europeans really cared about genocide so much, then why did we not lift a finger in Rwanda? Or even closer to home in Bosnia? For me, all the "never again" pieties expressed by our politicians became myths in the blood-drenched fields outside Srebenica.

So although he may be a crackpot, his malevolent crowd-pleasing does challenge our complacency - by mythologising the Holocaust as a unique event, we are encouraged to believe it could never happen again. Rwanda and Bosnia suggest otherwise.

Monday, December 05, 2005

Blair's legacy

Max "Hitler" Hastings on Blair's legacy...

It is hard to imagine any political historian, never mind the British public, attributing our involvement in this shambles to anything beyond the misjudgment of one man, the prime minister. Posterity will be no more impressed by Blair's professed honourable intentions than by those of Anthony Eden in Egypt, half a century ago.

The memory of Blair's government will be dominated by this disastrous foreign war, rather than, for instance, by his maintenance of a successful economy at home and brilliant speeches to successive Labour party conferences.

More than that, though, I suspect that for those who support progressive politics, Blair's legacy may not simply be "Iraq", it could be a Conservative government.

Friday, December 02, 2005

Ticket to oblivion

There seems a kind of grotesque inevitability about Muriel's progression from Belgian teen to suicide bomber...

Muriel... had a long relationship with an Algerian, who converted her to Islam in 2001...

Initially, she wore a hijab, or Islamic veil, but soon started wearing the head-to-toe chador that leaves the face visible...

Finally she wore a burka. She became ever more estranged from her parents. "When we saw them, they imposed their rules. We were at home, but my husband had to eat in the kitchen with Issam while the women ate together in the sitting room... " M Degauque said...

In mid-September they left, telling their landlord they were going to Kenya to try to find Goris's father. "She wore a burka all the time. I never saw her face, only her eyes," [the landlord said]...

Instead of going to Kenya, Muriel and her husband entered Iraq. Days later she had blown herself up, taking up to six US soldiers with her.

She had finally succeeded in blotting herself out.

Too easy to use this excuse?

Sorry, couldn't resist this - a name check on Harry's Place.

The Foreign Minister of China when asked in the 1950's about the consequences of the French Revolution answered "It's too early to tell" . A couple of years on from the toppling of Saddam is probably too soon to start writing the second draft of history but I think some of the broader outlines of that eventual narrative are becoming clearer for those prepared to see them.

Earlier in the post, Marcus quotes Times columnist Gerard Baker's measurement of success in Iraq: ...potential threats removed; future wars that don't have to be fought. It is numbered in the unenumerable: the slow awakening of human freedom; the steady, incremental spread of dignity it brings to people cowed and trampled for decades.

Well, it really is too early to tell, isn't it, but for each of those clauses I could find a reason why the war in Iraq failed, and indeed never should have been fought.

On a personal note some of the thinking behind TETT was for me consistent with what my opposition to the war was about: a profound wariness of ideologically-driven change and its unforseen consequences. For me, war, and particularly offensive war (I'm not a pacifist, sadly) is an essentially evil tool, so it seemed clear to me that only bad was likely to come of it, never mind the good intentions. I can see little in Iraq to prove me wrong, regardless of the muscular efforts of the posters on Harry's Place, ironically one of my favourite places on the web.