Tuesday, August 15, 2006

The new race card?

Cameron criticises terror effort the BBC and everyone else tell us...

Apparently Conservative leader David Cameron has said that our fear-loving (or was that god-fearing, or indeed merely scared, or SCARY) government is not doing enough to fight Islamist extremism in the UK.

Ho hum.

You may recollect that I was musing only last week, in my post: Old LAG Sandy shows Little John that there's no such thing as a triangular race card ...on how Labour can never successfully triangulate the Tories on 'immigration fears', or dear reader in other words on race (for all that they have spent almost ten years and at least two Home Secretaries on trying to do so).

Well, in an almost equally fantastic attempt to stretch the rules of populist politics beyond their capacity to accomodate what Dave and Tony cutely call 'political cross-dressing', Dave the Chimera has decided to attack the government of the day, which has, we are led to believe just saved us from the globe's largest ever airborne terrorist media opportunity and mass murder plot, on... yes you got it, not being tough enough on terror...

Dave, DAVE... DAVE!!!!

Still once a Tory always a Tory eh? It really is about time you asked Tony for your natural territory back.

What will now be of slightly frightening interest will be the nature of Tony and his loyal attack-dog namesake, Sir Ian at the Met,'s responses.

After all they shot that poor Brazilian guy while the Tories were PRAISING them.

Thursday, August 10, 2006

I blame Tim

For anyone who has hoped and believed, as I have, that the British way of integrating Muslim citizens is more promising than the French one, the last year has been discouraging writes Tim Garton-Ash.

Not just "discouraging", shurly, given that in 2004 article Who was to blame? Tim graphically laid waste to the French capital in an imaginary nuclear attack perpetrated by a pair of sisters narked that they couldn't wear their hijab in class.

Who knows, by 2009 when Tim set his nightmare vision, things may have changed. By which time he will have no doubt performed yet another graceful back-flip.

Meanwhile: whatever the mix of causes for this alienation, we need to escape from seeing British Muslims only through the prism of two currently prevailing paradigms: the terrorism paradigm and the backwardness paradigm...

The idea that these young British Muslims might actually be putting their fingers on some things that are wrong with our modern, progressive, liberal, secular society; the idea that rational persons might freely choose to live in a different, outwardly more restricted way; these hardly feature in everyday progressive discourse. But they should.

So, while accepting that the more "muscular" attitude of the French may have garnered results (81% of British Muslims polled said they were Muslim first and a citizen of their country only second, compared to 46% of French Muslims) he then continues head-long over the same old precipice.

But who is to blame for our current difficulties? Well I'd suggest Tim and the policy-makers his views reflect could bear some of the responsibility - conjuring up imaginary horrors, their relativist fantasies have helped create real demons.

And in that same real world the French are beginning their vacances while we, grounded, turn upon ourselves.

Wednesday, August 09, 2006

Domino Effect? Lieberman is a casualty of war for the muscular liberals - but which one...

Senator Joe Lieberman the so-called 'muscular liberal' or pro-war left's poster boy on the Democratic side of Congress has lost his primary to an anti-war newcomer.

On Sunday the Washington Post was reporting that the Connecticut Race Could Be Democratic Watershed explaining, as the anti-war challenger Ned Lamont raced ten points ahead in the pollls, that:

"The passion and energy fueling the antiwar challenge to Sen. Joseph I. Lieberman in Connecticut's Senate primary signal a power shift inside the Democratic Party that could reshape the politics of national security and dramatically alter the battle for the party's 2008 presidential nomination, according to strategists in both political parties.

"A victory by businessman Ned Lamont on Tuesday would confirm the growing strength of the grass-roots and Internet activists who first emerged in Howard Dean's presidential campaign. Driven by intense anger at President Bush and fierce opposition to the Iraq war, they are on the brink of claiming their most significant political triumph, one that will reverberate far beyond the borders here if Lieberman loses.

"An upset by Lamont would affect the political calculations of Sen. Hillary Rodham Clinton (D-N.Y.), who like Lieberman supported giving Bush authority to wage the Iraq war, and could excite interest in a comeback by former vice president Al Gore, who warned in 2002 that the war could be a grave strategic error. For at least the next year, any Democrat hoping to play on the 2008 stage would need to reckon with the implications of Lieberman's repudiation."

Lamont's stunner of a result asks further question for Democrats debating the parties best stance in the next Presidential campaign, as the Post ponders.

Its not just about bringing the boys home from Baghdad for all that the reverse is currently happening with even regiments due for time back in the US sent straight back onto Baghdad operations, it is also about how much the current war in Lebanon is starting to influence the domestic US analysis of the last (and ongoing) one in Iraq.

Sure Lamont campaigned on opposition to the Iraq war, but the growth of his lead in the polls as Lebanon burned, the UN fiddled and the US supplied the bombs, suggests that it might juist be what Israel's government likes to portray as the new front in the War on Terror which actually cost Liberman the Senate nomination.

Lebanon, for people like me, who have Lebanese friends with relatives in Beirut now, is above all about Lebanon; but for the voters of Connecticut Lebanon is also about Iraq and about the War on Terror and above all about the nature of the US' engagement with the wider world. For them, perhaps, Lebanon is about the future, about whether US troops are once again in a peacekeeping role in the middle east and about which peace they will be trying to keep.

Old LAG Sandy shows Little John that there's no such thing as a triangular race card

When will New Labour's reactionary home secretaries learn that attempts to triangulate the right on immigration just leave you wrongfooted and astride a supposed central reservation which appears to be suspiciously, and indeed perilously, positioned right down the 'centre' of the right hand carriageway.

The Telegraph reports approvingly: Reid to set limit on immigration

The Guardian sucks in its cheeks and describes the Home Secretary, John Reid, saying yesterday that he wanted to see "an optimum level of immigration" set for Britain
as a 'major departure'

While, Reid: 'Talking about immigration is not racist' says the Daily Mail which isn't either...

While the uber-cautious FT.com has Reid merely 'hinting' at a limit

A story, to be fair to the local government press, first trailed on Monday, by Public Finance: http://www.publicfinance.co.uk/news_details.cfm?news_id=28439

Sandy Bruce-Lockhart is of course a Tory, Labour's longstanding control of the LGA having been a casualty of Blair's third term and the Second Gulf War. Still wor Sandy makes a change from the unremittingly tedious former LGA Chair Sir Jeremy Beecham a man who looks like Michael Howard's dark side but whose own has been so effectively laid to rest that Mr Healey's old dead sheep Geoffrey Howe analogy could be applied. That said, whatever the Daily Mail has to say about Little John Reid's (non)racist tendencies, I wouldn't be too sure about what Sandy is up to...

Monday, August 07, 2006

Forza il Herald Tribune!

Some brief observations from my all-too-brief holiday location, a sleepy seaside town in Southern Italy.

1. If there was a newspaper in Purgatory, it would be this one. The only English rag available, it made the Herald Tribune seem, well, jaunty.

As Lebanon and Israel burned, Castro keeled over and, heavens, there was another expulsion from the Big Brother House, it led on ...

AARRRGGGGHHHH... I'd rather read the baseball results.

2. Italians like to round off their TV news reports with a "funny" that ivariably focuses on a slice of English eccentricity like this, yet their government can take decisions like this and still not win the top comedy slot.

3. While it may be true that "you will never eat badly in Puglia", even the greatest Spaghetti cazza (sha) can seem monotonous after day five.

Friday, August 04, 2006

An Abuse of Common Sense - or Winning the War on State Terror

It is a not inconsiderable irony that it is our staid and elitist judiciary who are once again found defending both human rights and logic.

It is no surprise that the democratic poseurs like John Reid who are manning Mr Blair's increasingly authoritarian last stand against the forces of history should once again be arguing from positions of populist fiction against both logic and principle.

Like Michael Howard before him - who similarly manned the Alamo of authoritarianism for another morally bankrupt and duplicitious Prime Minister, if arguably a marginally less dangerous one - John Reid is taking punches.

This is good. It also feels right, if only because Reid is a man for whom the term pugnacious was coined and if you take one 'pugnacious' scottish muscular liberal, shaven headed and proud of his stalinist past, trying once again, just as all those years ago in the CP, to shape the tide of time through the abuse of democracy and appeals to false logic and dubious theory, well... lets face it, he's gotta expect a battering, right? - I mean frankly he's LOOKING FOR IT. Probably quite literally.

~ Please note, legal eagles, that the term 'probably' now means that the subject of the sentence is extremely improbable. As in the sentence, "The prospect of a low intensity civil war and a de facto division of Iraq is probably more likely at this stage than a successful and substantial transition to a stable democracy" - which apparently means, that, while things in Iraq are a little tricky at present, we don't really have to worry because Colonel Tony has things in hand - and that in particular there is absolutely no need to worry about the division of Iraq, despite the fact that the Kurds (as evidenced below) are already pursuing an independent political and economic model called errr Free Market Kurdistan (or rather, if you see my point, South Kurdistan); while the former South of Iraq looks to Iran to defend it from the West and the Centre; and the Centre looks increasingly to little other than war and dreams of Sunni triumph on a pan-regional scale as the only logically positive dream option for a once-powerful and now hated minority which the rest of the country want to keep disempowered and in some cases would quite like to annihilate - if only in revenge for past blood debts.

Meanwhile... back to the former Defence Secretary, whom you'll recollect was so reassuring, during his brief stint as Commander of the Imperial Red (white & blue) Army, about our Afghan 'mission of reconstruction'....

Somewhere, whether literally in a basement club, or metaphorically in a semen-stained fantasy, a woman is wielding a birch over Little John's blue-pink ass and lordy it makes him feel good. I cannae lie aboot it - it gie's me the strength of purpoos tae gae oon. Ken, throo ma oon pain I can coom to undeystann the suffring of the peeple whoo we are actually fighting this whor wit.

Yeah right - well, whatever JR gets up to in private, at least the birch boys on the hard benches of her Majesty's judiciary are paying attention to satisfying his needs in public and giving him a regular beating - in our democratic interests (if admittedly at our financial expense) - in the highest courts of our fair democratic land .

Still its a small price to pay to see the b*stard getting his just desserts - I just wish I didn't get the feeling he enjoys it so much. Almost as if this bizarre team of unimaginative middle managers of capitalism see the judicial system which they and so many of their spouses and friends belong to, or have belonged to, as the only reliable mechanism for deciding what should properly be decided by the people and through the ballot box.

Tuesday, August 01, 2006

Own Your Own Bit of (what used to be) Iraq - Live Tax-Free in Kurdistan

The PR Week Global Newswire tell us that:

Kurdistan hopes promotional push will increase foreign interest
Ted McKenna 31-Jul-06
WASHINGTON: Kurdistan, part of northern Iraq that has been spared the violence roiling the south, is tapping a US agency to highlight its natural beauty, tax-free living, and 100%-foreign-ownership of businesses as reasons to visit and invest in the Kurdish-controlled province.

BrandRepublic - part of the same Haymarket family which produces PR Week, Campaign, Marketing, Revolution [no pun intended], etc., tells us a little more for free - though of course its the same report (check that article ID code in your browser after clicking the link):
"San Francisco-based Russo, Marsh & Rogers (RMR) has launched a PR and ad push on behalf of the Kurdistan regional government of Iraq, seeking to promote Kurdistan in the US as "the Other Iraq" - a relatively safe place for Western investment. Contrasting Kurdistan with war-torn central Iraq, the new Kurdistan campaign boasts on the www.theotheriraq.com Web site, for instance: "It's spectacular. It's peaceful. Welcome to Iraqi Kurdistan. Where democracy has been practiced for over a decade." "We were concerned a little bit that the violence in Lebanon was going to overshadow Middle East coverage," said RMR founder Sal Russo. "But on the other hand, while it..."

Ahhh, the other Iraq: http://www.theotheriraq.com/ Love the logo guys, it'd be funny if it wasn't so...unfunny - still every empire needs a buffer state and its always cool to have a free market one; and, remember, once Turkey joins the EU, Kurdistan is our buffer state with the terrorist playground of Central (and indeed southern) Iraq. That might just make you think twice about the embroidered hat business and the holiday home.