Thursday, February 27, 2014

First As Farce, Then As Tragedy

It is hard to believe, given Nato's recent less-than-convincing performances in dealing with Libya and Syria, that Moscow will be in the least bit perturbed by the bold commitment made by Nato defence ministers to defend Ukraine's sovereignty, independence and territorial integrity.
There's something missing from Con Coughlin's grumpy harrumphing about our newfound wussiness in today's Telegraph.

I'll give you a clue what it is - it's in the Caucasus, it begins with a "G" and it ends with Vladimir Putin taking a huge, Russian bear-sized dump on the White House lawn.

I'm sure you remember it - short but nasty war between Georgia and Russia, caused in large part by the Georgian President's erroneous belief that his best buds in Washington would have his back whatever damnfool thing he did, not least because his best buds in Washington kept telling him that they'd have his back whatever he did.

Anyway, how did the rock-ribbed conservative warriors of yesteryear respond to Russian provocation?

Condemning as unacceptable what he called Russia’s “bullying and intimidation,” President Bush on Friday said Russia must withdraw its troops from all of Georgian territory and said the United States would stand with Georgia in the conflict. - NY Times, 16 August 2008 
Ah yes, I remember - the Republicans yelped and snarled about Putin being Hitler, and yapped and stood on their cute little hind legs and so on, then...  Did absolutely nothing while the Russians walloped seven shades out of Georgia and gave Washington the finger.  In other words, they behaved exactly in the manner that Con now worries their successors will.

I know that this all happened six years ago and thus might as well have been acted out with muskets in sepia tones as far as our attention-deficient punditry is concerned, but it's rather odd that Coughlin would fail to spot it.

Anyway, let's pause and consider who, exactly, a column called Don't expect Nato to save Ukraine from Russia is aimed at.  Reader, do you expect Barack Obama to start waving nukes at the Kremlin?  Have you been hoarding canned food and shotguns in anticipation of the outbreak of World War Three in a matter of weeks?  Has anyone?

But plus ca change, because as in Georgia, I can imagine that a lot of Ukrainians might expect Nato to get into a pagger with Russia on their behalf.

Maybe it would do us more good to have a bit of a think about how anyone might have come to such a fantastical conclusion, than it does to take a huff over the unlikelihood of a war between Russia and the USA.

And once we're done with that, we can marvel that an actual adult human being appears to regard America not going to war with Russia as a bad thing.

Tuesday, February 25, 2014

Baby Steps

I was on holiday when the Ukrainian protestors won and evicted their government, so I've only been catching snippets of news and opinion on the matter.  You're hardly pushed to find comment on Ukraine elsewhere, so I thought I'd be helpful by looking at some interesting trends that I spotted in the UK reaction to events in Kiev.

First up, it's great to see so many people recognising that governments tend to spout windy bullshit when they're up to no good.  The many protestations of Yanukovitch and Putin et al have fallen on deaf ears in the UK, where folk with an interest in politics seem to have realised that e.g. the Ukrainian government, while democratically elected, is also an agglomeration of vested interests that is perfectly content to spout nonsense if it benefits it to do so.  Further, people seem to have spotted that the Russian government is not a benign entity, and that it is actually spectacularly dishonest and self-aggrandising about events occurring in their own and other countries.

This is excellent news for the UK, where we have a tendency to blithely assume that our own government's interest in other nations' crises is generally humanitarian rather than utterly pragmatic and cynical, so I hope to see similar reactions whenever our own politicians start yet another round of mendacious boiling and bleating about events in this or other parts of the world.

It's perhaps unfortunate that so many folk who perceptively noticed that the Ukrainian and Russian governments are truthless, self-serving, elite enterprises, have utterly failed to apply the same lessons to other involved parties and governments, but let's not try to run before we can walk, eh?

Secondly, it's also great to see pundits and people generally coming to the realisation that powerful countries are highly opportunistic and constantly try to bend other nations to their will, in order to extract profit and power.

Again, it's unfortunate that people who so smartly spotted Vladimir Putin pulling an empire-preserving fast one in Ukraine seem oblivious to the notion that e.g. the UK or the US are not wholly disinterested observers lusting after nothing but human freedom but you know, baby steps isn't it, baby steps.

It's been great to see public acknowledgement that protest groups inevitably attract highly unpleasant loonies, and that this doesn't invalidate their cause.  The Ukrainian opposition did appear to have a significant Nazi problem, but we collectively seem to have cut the protesters lots of slack by charitably realising that they can't control absolutely everyone who wants to join in.

This could have beneficial repercussions in the UK, where any group that dares to organise against e.g. war or corporate shenanigans can expect to be instantly cudgeled to death the second that a single member posts something idiotic on Facebook.

And let's also acknowledge how great it is that it's now accepted that media organisations regularly and unquestioningly repeat official propaganda as fact.  This scepticism only applies to Russia Today at present, but fingers crossed that this realisation will have knock-on effects for popular attitudes towards the UK's own absurd, oft-stenographic press.

Other helpful lessons - folk noticing that pundits and politicians use crises to push their previously-existing agendas*;  that large-scale and even violent protests against governments are not inherently fascist**, and that the police and armed forces are not always there to assist the citizenry***.

If there's a minor disappointment to come out of our collective response to events in Ukraine, it's that nobody has smelt a rat when folk who have spent months lauding the democraticity of a violent protest movement overthrowing an elected government are now stamping their feet and commanding Ukrainians of a secessionary bent not to break up their nation.  This is regrettable, but not wholly unexpected, since such people basically could not give a flying one for any democratic actions that don't suit them, but again - baby steps, baby steps.


*This one after Seumas Milne pointed out that the protesters weren't all sweetness and light, and that the Russians weren't the only foreigners seeking to influence the situation in Kiev to their own advantage.  Lots of LOLs after that one, although precious little in the way of people pointing out anything he'd said that was actually, you know, wrong. 

**Recall the student protests a couple of years back, when there were many loud wails and screeches about fascist mobs striving to impose their will upon a democratic entity and so on.

***Although the chances of this notion catching on in the UK are somewhere between jack and shit.

Monday, February 24, 2014

Man Astounded That Actions May Reflect Intentions Shocker

"What the hell is Barack Obama's presidency for?  ...His second term has been characterised by a profound sense of drift in principle and policy. While posing as the ally of the immigrant he is deporting people at a faster clip than any of his predecessors; while claiming to be a supporter of labour he's championing trade deals that will undercut American jobs and wages. In December, even as he pursued one whistleblower, Edward Snowden and kept another, Chelsea Manning, incarcerated, he told the crowd at Nelson Mandela's funeral: "There are too many leaders who claim solidarity with Madiba's struggle for freedom, but do not tolerate dissent from their own people." - Gary Younge, Guardian, 23 February

I admire Gary's sense of betrayed idealism here, but his "what is this presidency for?" question is not difficult to answer.

The secret to grasping the situation is simply to wholly dismiss everything that Barack Obama said he wanted to do during his election campaign as a sales job, as a mere advertising campaign with no more truth content than a Lynx commercial, and to look at what he actually did.  That is - to treat Obama as if he were just another politician, rather than a crusader for justice.

So: if Barry O started implementing a series of regressive and punitive measures almost immediately after his election as America's newest Caesar, then it should be fairly obvious that Barry O's presidency is for implementing regressive and punitive measures.  This would also suggest that it was always intended to be for implementing regressive and punitive measures.

The fact that folk like Gary Younge once believed that this wasn't the case is touching, but every bit as hilarious as teenagers who drench themselves in deodorant in the belief that girls will suddenly find them irresistable. 

A Cut Out 'n' Keep Guide To Ostentatious Social Media Displays re: Protests

Violent popular protests and vicious government crackdowns can be confusing to the average punter, who may not have a good grasp of the politics involved. 

When such situations arise, many struggle to decide whether to cheer on heavily-armed police and military squads as they shoot some sense into the populace, or whether to paint one's ballsack green, orange or yellow etc. and then post pictures of it on Facebook, in solidarity with the people.

To solve this problem, I've created the following handy flowchart, which depicts the usual mental processes exhibited by politicians and commentators in the UK when confronted by bloodcurdling state terror/the people yearning to be free:


I hope this will assist readers in their decision-making process, as it holds good for all recent protests in Venezuela, Egypt, Bahrain, Ukraine, Syria and many others. 

Additionally, the following diagram may be useful in helping the average citizen to gauge the actual, real-world effect of their decision to either cheer violent crackdowns or to post pictures of their green-painted ballsacks on Facebook.  Click to enlarge:

Wednesday, February 12, 2014

Weather Forecast - Better Than Wind And Rain


Back soon.  As an easily-amused fan of birds, rodents and lizards, I have a natural antipathy towards habitats where there are "rather few vertebrate species", but I imagine I'll survive.

Tuesday, February 11, 2014

Oor Referendum - A Series #2

Get ready to reel your eyeballs back in and wipe your exploded brains off the screen of your iPad, as the amazing news breaks that Barclay's Bank are prepared to continue trying to make money in Scotland, even if Scotland makes a particular political choice.

I know this might come as a shock to everyone who witnessed the head of BP declaring that what oil reserves remain for an independent Scotland might suddenly wither before his eyes, taking on a wrinkled and repugnant form that would surely debonify the throbbing, thrusting sex-drive of a major oil conglomerate and its shareholders.  Surely, we can all understand how opportunities to make fuckloads of money can suddenly become unattractive to business because of...

Well, I'm not going to continue in this vein, because we can all see where I'm going.  I'm just going to point out that VerizonGloboPriceWaterhouseAppleBPVirginGoldmanSachsTesco are probably going to continue to try to keep sucking money out of Scotland, even if it isn't quite as profitable as it used to be.

In fact, they might find it even more arousing, because it's easier to demand bribes* in exchange for jobs from a smaller, less powerful nation.

Still, Scotland is a first-world country filled with cash and consumers and where there's profits to be made, multinationals will swarm like bees, or vultures, depending upon how you choose to describe their generally money-hungry behaviour.

Which suggests to me that collectively, as a far larger and more powerful United Kingdom, we might somehow be able to exert some kind of force over both markets and business, and that collectively we could perhaps induce them to do things that we collectively, as a democratic entity, might wish them to accept, even if they don't really want to.

Such as, oh, pay some taxes, or something.  I know it's unfashionable, but the evidence suggests it just might be possible, given historical precedent.

Seriously though, this independence referendum is illuminating, in all kinds of unexpected ways.

*The first bit of dodgery I came across by Googling only the one company  "Diageo", which surely only scratches the surface.

Sunday, February 09, 2014

Fan Service


"A look at (this) scandal dispels trite illusions. Robert Harris, a friend of Mitchell's, compares it to the Dreyfus affair, the subject of his latest fine novel. Harris is going over the top, but you can see his point..." Oor Nick 
The scandal in question is "Plebgate", so we might ask - if we're saying Plebgate is like the Dreyfus affair, then why aim so low?  Why not compare it instead to the assassination of Dr King, or to the Highland Clearances, or even the Black Death?

Why not go the whole hog and say well, Some guy has compared Plebgate to the destruction of Guernica...  He's going over the top, but you can see his point?

Ach, I know Nick's work is never complete without a wildly inappropriate historical analogy, so we'll let it slide in favour of the larger hilarities - for example, that the title of the piece incautiously announces:   "Thanks to Leveson, the police are above public scrutiny".  

Nick probably didn't pick that title and should in fact be seething about it, because the chronology goes like this:

Plebgate: 19 September 2012

Leveson Report: 29 November 2012

...Which can only suggest that Lord Leveson's conclusions were so authoritarian, so utterly Draconian in nature, that they've actually reverberated backwards through time to encourage Plod's malfeasance.

Now I imagine that many of you, like me, regard the whole Plebgate debacle as an entertaining and rare instance of a minister winding up being battered with the truncheon of his own class's Papers, please policing agenda, rather than an infamous historical injustice.

We're all no doubt disconcerted to discover that a Tribune of the Plebs can be thusly accosted by Caesar's thugs on his way home from the Senate.  Still, I'd like to think most of us are also savvy enough to spot that an ongoing power struggle between two sections of the Patrician class may have little to do with accountability to the actual citizenry.

While I'm entirely open to arguments about the accountability of the police, I suspect that all this chat about "accountability" ultimately means "to the government" rather than, you know, "to the rest of us, even via some vague representational proxy".  Which somewhat dulls my sense of democratic outrage.

Anyway, let's shoot straight past Nick's belief that "Justice is indivisible", which is surely why it took around eighteen months to get somebody banged up for inconveniencing a high-ranking Conservative Party official, while other issues...  Well, let's let Nick say it himself, shall we?


"You cannot call for justice for the victims of police lies about the Hillsborough disaster while denying justice to a victim of a political conspiracy by the coercive arm of the state".

Well, plainly you can - I'm doing it out loud just now, as it happens.  No bother.

Nonetheless, let's observe just how tasteless it is to dragoon the unavenged shades of the dead into a battle being fought in nothing but self-interest between the Tory Party, the police and the very media organisations who have all done so very much to frustrate justice of any kind being done in their names.

Ouch.

Saturday, February 08, 2014

Uhlympics

Now, Vladimir Putin is an arse of intergalactic proportions.  His anti-gay laws are fatuous and absurd, wholly of a piece with every other example of petty cruelty enforced by Russian governments throughout the ages.  His twatty, chest-baring, tiger-shooting public persona fully embodies the hilarious banality of tyranny everywhere it exists and has ever existed.

His domestic and foreign policies are repressive, crazily authoritarian and insane and although it would do us good to acknowledge that his big backlash against liberalism and personal freedom bears comparison to similar western political movements that are just cunning enough to not explicitly demand legally-enforceable oppression of homosexuals, they remain vastly more unjust and more ludicrous by an order of magnitude.

Nonetheless, let's take a pause from our rainbow-taunting of Sochi to observe that the London Olympics were not attended by global protests drawing attention to the UK government's affection for killing unknown numbers of unidentified foreigns with missiles and selling spiked bollock-shockers to e.g. Saudi Arabia for use on dissidents.

A Dog Can't Build a Rocket

This is, as the papers like to say, a valuable and useful contribution to our national discussion on what is a real and urgent problem, but let me lay the following fact upon youse:

Only three calls have been made to a dedicated helpline set up to help youngsters undergoing illegal mutilation, despite estimates that there are thousands of women at risk in Scotland. - Herald

Voila ici.  Now, I take this report as an indication that we're talking about a vanishingly rare crime that goes unreported to the police, and I take that as a satisfactory explanation for a lack of prosecutions.  To your average Guardianist, it's instead a sign that "our law has failed".

If I asked my dog to build me a rocket capable of a there-and-back journey to Saturn, I would not be inclined to call its blank expression a failure.  If anything, I'd probably be forced to concede that a dog can't build a rocket.


Friday, February 07, 2014

Oor Referendum - A Series

Let me go on blog-record here saying that I'm basically neutral on the issue of Scottish independence, and that my vote is for sale to the highest bidder.  Thus far, I've been offered and declined "some magic beans", and also "a stiff kick in the balls", neither of which met my reserve price of £20.

I can't say I have much sympathy with either of the campaigns, to be frank.  The Yessers are a bunch of blithe gobshites who would, I suspect, promise every man in the country a bigger dick and a Lexus full of cocaine if there were a few votes in it.

Meanwhile, the pro-union camp have battered us with one of the all-time fearmongering panics - a relentless campaign of screeching terror of such pitch and intensity that it's a wonder the nation's children manage to sleep a wink.  They've done everything bar kidnap our pets and email us pictures of themselves pointing guns at our cats' heads, with the words  Vote no, or the kitty gets it written underneath in 72-point gothic script.

Since this annoying, formless cynicism is pretty much my usual stance on issues that don't rile me up, I thought I'd be well-placed to make a few observations without attracting too many accusations of partisanship, and so... 

- Contrary to all the hoo-hah, I thought David Cameron's speech today probably went down well with the target audience, because the target audience wasn't undecided Scottish voters - it was other Tories and unionist types throughout the land.

Dave's many things, but he's not a daftie.  He knows full well that anything he has to say about the referendum will hit a Scottish ear like a the fat end of a glass Irn-Bru bottle, so he's making no attempt to sway us.  His objective here is to make a good stab at Standing Tall For Britain or whatever, the better to reassure people who give a vague shit whether an abstract political entity endures for eternity or morphs into something different.  And it wasn't too bad an attempt, although it certainly bored the hell out of me.

And Cameron's in an invidious position here.  The referendum could well consign him to history as Britain's most beshitted and clownish politician, the PM who was in office when the United Kingdom of Great Britain and Northern Ireland turned up its toes... And by far his best chance of avoiding it is to shut his yap and let someone else bang the gong for Britain.

All of which means you can take Alex Salmond's yappy Scrappy-Doo impersonation - Lemme at him, lemme at him! - with a pinch of salt.  Home advantage would make Dave vs Alex on independence a bit like a fight to the death between Dot Cotton and one of those giant monster-swatting machines from Pacific Rim

Anecdata time now, since I'm seeing interesting trends emerging among friends and work colleagues:

- Pro-union folk I know seem to have a disproportionately-sized stick up their arses about the stupidity and gullibility of the electorate.  Almost all of them, prompted on the possible outcome of the referendum, will shake their heads and say, Well, folk are going to vote on this based on gut feelings and horseshit, without considering the REAL issues.  

To which I can only respond  - so you mean, like they do in a General Election, then?

I mean, what is a UK parliamentary election if not a slickly-choreographed rerun of Braveheart, with all of us cast as Scots at Bannockburn, fending off an insuperable army of dole-scroungers, criminals and grasping foreigners?

If our referendum is going to be a retarded display of flag-sucking, belligerent idiocy, then I have to point out that it'll still be vastly more edifying than the average election for the European Parliament.

But this exposes a truth - that large sections of the Scottish middle class and the upwardly-mobile types from the one below have always had a bit of a nasty, snotty streak about working class folk, who appear in these speculations as a wholly undifferentiated army of orcish, Buckie-swilling Neds.

In reality, if the Yes vote is more popular with working class people - and it is - then that's probably down to the fact that they have fewer Audis or nice detached houses in Milngavie to fret over.

- And kudos to Scotland's amateur Nationalists, who seem to have got their Immediately calling everyone who disagrees with them a traitorous Quisling problem under control, at least during daylight hours.

This has long been a problem for the tartan biscuit-tin crowd, who have a tendency to treat disagreement like a minor variant on the Dolchstosslegende, but all credit - they do seem to have chilled out on this front.

Until they get onto the internet, of course, or until they get all pissed up and raging.  Add either anonymity or alcohol  to the mix, and they're still conjuring the wailing shades of bayonetted Highlanders to guilt-trip you into submission faster than you can say Barnett Formula.  

-

Well, I'll leave it there for now.  Next time, I may well focus on how skillfully the SNP have played the hand that they were dealt in the 2007 election, and how they managed to transform independence from the minority interest of a bunch of astoundingly dull, sheep-worrying hillbillies*, into a highly successful and vibrant movement within mainstream Scottish politics.  But with cursing and sexual imagery.

*Edit to add: I'm aware that this isn't an accurate summary of the history of Scottish nationalism, which has long tended more towards urban or transplanted-urban intellectualism. Nonetheless, generalisations like this tend to annoy people greatly, and I'm very much in favour of that, especially when the annoyed people have an indestructable majority in our parliament.

Thursday, February 06, 2014

A Glossary of War

A simple lexicon for the comprehension of modern rhetorical techniques for the promotion of UK involvement in murderous civil wars.

This week: Alistair Burt MP

InterventionThe act of hurling high explosives into murderous civil wars in the hope that some material good may be achieved by spreading the blood around a bit.

Stronger: Stupider.

Resistant to... constant horrorsOf a blood-curdling civil war - actively backing and encouraging the side that is losing.

Civilised worldCountries that give lots and lots of guns and bombs to all sides in murderous civil wars.

Our best interests: Anything that expands opportunities for Members of Parliament to pull out little toy planes and charge around the House shouting "Dakka-Dakka-Dakka!" and "Whoosh". 

Some military actionSee Intervention. 

Boots on the groundAn especially awesome Intervention using even bigger high explosives.

HumanitarianPrimarily preying upon humans.

Legal, proportionate and focusedCarte blanche; a blank cheque.

JihadisForces armed and deployed by inter alia British allies inc. Saudi Arabia and Qatar.

Logistical or intelligence supportGiving lots and lots of guns and bombs to one side in a murderous civil war who may or may not lose them, quite possibly to Jihadis.

Worked to a conventionCarte blanche; a blank cheque.

Current conventionA very large and low hoop to jump through before receiving carte blanche and a blank cheque.

Quite a messAny situation that lessens opportunities for Members of Parliament to pull out little toy planes and charge around the House shouting "Dakka-Dakka-Dakka!" and "Whoosh".

Difficult foreign policy executive actionSee Intervention. 

Discussions with alliesPlotting; also, scheming.

Regional strategic defenceGiving lots and lots of guns and bombs to inter alia Saudi Arabia and Qatar, who will most likely then give them to Jihadis;  An opportunity for a Humanitarian Intervention in Our best interests.   

Asks for our assistanceSee Regional strategic defence. 

Our constituentsThe Sucker;  The Mark.

UK military involvement abroadSee Intervention;  also, Our best interests.  

Unpopular actionStupid action

 Accountable to the publicCapable of being democratically removed in favour of different Members of Parliament, who will then pull out little toy planes and charge around the House shouting "Whoosh!" and "Dakka-Dakka-Dakka".

The democratic balanceA situation lessening opportunities for Humanitarian Intervention in Our best interests.  

Sooner or laterAs soon as possible.

Sort out our parametersBuy more little toy planes and hope for Humanitarian Intervention.

Afghan Militia Demands Paw

Looking rather mournful, on a lead being held by a long-haired Taliban fighter, the small reddish-brown dog was paraded for a Taliban cameraman... - BBC News

There's just something inherently comical about a bunch of supposedly bad-ass Afghan mountain warriors yukking up a huge victory on camera because they... found a dog.

To be fair, this is supposedly some kind of souped-up military dog - a killer among canines, the Jack Bauer of Jack Russells, or what have you - but really, this is a Zen moment of high bathos for the ages.

I just wish they'd interrogated it on that tape, in between all the God-thanking and so on - Who's a good boy?  Tell us or die, infidel!  Who's a good boy?  Is it you?  Yes it is, it is you!

I look forward to the inevitably humiliating videos - one bark for No and two barks for Death to America! 

And these are the guys that have fought off not one but two global superpowers in a few decades?

These jokers don't know the difference between a propaganda coup and a Chris Morris skit. When UK forces pull out of the country, we should leave them some little clown cars where the doors fall off when you honk the horn, then sit back and watch the Youtube clips.

Wednesday, February 05, 2014

Aliens vs Predator

"All this, the claim says, led to Goldman establishing a relationship of “trust” with the Libyan Iinvestment Authority – set up to invest parts of the country’s vast oil wealth – which allowed the bank to make $350m (£210m) from a series of trades worth $1bn that ultimately proved worthless.

"The LIA claims that the bank took advantage of an unsophisticated and poorly trained body of staff at a time when Libya was being brought back into the international fold and sanctions had been eased...  The trades soon went wrong and they were in essence  worthless by the middle of 2008." - Gifts, perks and Moroccan luxury: How Goldman Sachs "won over Libyans", Independent

It's tempting to find hilarity in this tellingly unsurprising scam and indeed, the Beast has already done so - ho ho, the naked criminality of international finance achieving in months what it took militaries, sanctions and an actual uprising decades to achieve.  The miracle of the markets, booyah!

Certainly, it's hard to imagine a more ironic tale - a vicious, backward regime founded on theft and murder, finally eviscerated by an encounter with the sheer fraudulence and avarice of modern capitalism.  A wide-eyed tyranny emerges blinking into the light of modernity, only to be instantly devoured by the Big Bad Wolf along with grandma, Little Red Riding Hood and the Woodcutter.

If you'll forgive the Simpsons reference though, all I hear in this latest revelation is an echo of that drive-in movie, The Monster That Ate Everybody: 

"It ate America?"
 

"It ate everybody".  

 "It ate Greece?" 

"It ate everybody".

"Surely not Colonel Gadaffi?"

Of course, as the Beast observes, you could say that "Goldman rescued Libya", although this is an odd way of putting it.  After all, the new Libyan government could probably do with some cash.  What's Goldman's attitude to that suggestion? 

"Goldman said last night: “We think the claims are without merit and will defend them vigorously.” It is expected to argue that it was not acting in a fiduciary capacity with respect to the LIA and that the authority approached it with trades, not the other way round."

Awesome.   I'm reminded of a jokey suggestion I once made, about how we should get rid of our pigeon problem by releasing platoons of Komodo dragons onto the streets of Edinburgh.

Sunday, February 02, 2014

The Show Must Go On

"The last days of a human life are sacred and anointed and must remain free from those who will always exploit legislation to end it before its allotted time".  - Kevin McKenna

I like Kevin McKenna, so I'm going to avoid the usual hoots and snorts that I'd issue to most folk who penned an argument this jam-packed with silliness.

Instead, I'm just going to cut to the chase by noting that while most of the people Kevin describes as "militant atheists" probably don't think that existence is basically arbitrary and meaningless, and that all vestiges of Christianity should be eradicated from Scottish life, I do.  

I do not agree that the last days of human life are "sacred and anointed".  The evidence of my own eyes tells me they're much more likely to be miserable, shit-caked and degrading, and I have one important motivation for my desire to see Christianity and every other faith booted out of public life altogether - because I am at heart a very, very selfish person.

Now, this terrible character flaw grants me a different perspective on matters like these, and it forever impels me towards socially awkward comments like "I don't care what you think" and "I could give a shit if something offends your sensibilities".  This invariably upsets people but, since I'm doomed to perpetual indifference, I don't particularly care about that either.

Since I also possess an active imagination, I have no difficulty envisioning a moment when I might beckon over Nurse Reaper with her big bag of merciful murder-drugs.  Should that moment ever come, the last thing I will want to see blocking her way is Kevin McKenna in a dog collar patting the back of my atrophied, liver-spotted hand and gently chiding me that regardless of my opinion on the matter, the show must go on. 

Saturday, February 01, 2014

I Don't Pretend To Be An Expert

"This is what I say to my colleagues in the West: the fact is, the Muslim Brotherhood tried to take the country away from its basic values of hope and progress. The army have intervened, at the will of the people, but in order to take the country to the next stage of its development, which should be democratic, we should be supporting the new government in doing that". - Tony Blair, on Egypt.

You and I aren't struggling to work out what Tony means here - he means, for real, that if an elected  government does something that Tony doesn't like, then the army should depose it then shoot or jail its supporters*.

Remember this, because Tony's defence is one of those high comic moments that exposes the nudity of the Emperor.  Military coups for democracy exist on an elevated plane of logic alongside such gems of wisdom as Let's drink ourselves sober or Fuck for virginity

Simply, we're not struggling to grasp what Tony means, because our entire worldview does not depend upon the idea that he is a good and moral man who passionately believes in democracy. 

Now, imagine that you're John Rentoul, whose entire belief system actually is premised upon this very idea.  The news blows his circuits; he jerks robotically; his eyes swivel maniacally as sparks shoot from his ears and he bellows over and over, Does not compute, Does not compute.

In his original response, our John had proclaimed himself satisfied by Tony's wisdom, because the Egyptian public recently voted in favour of the military government's referendum on a constitution.

And indeed, they did - 98% of them in fact, a result that would've pleased such beloved democrats as Saddam Hussein or Colonel Gadaffi.

Called on this hilarious nonsense by commenters, Rentoul backs up and bitches thusly:

"I have deleted the bit about last week’s referendum in Egypt; apparently it wasn’t entirely free and fair.  

"I don’t pretend to be an expert". 

"I don't pretend to be an expert"!  "Wasn't entirely free and fair"!  We might toy with this phrasing thusly:

I've changed my mind about the Pope - apparently, he's been known to dabble in Catholicism but you know, I don't pretend to be an expert.

All of which appears to overwhelm our John, who then goes on the attack:

"The one thing I could be sure of when I posted this was that the easily outraged would have a considered alternative to Blair’s position, and so it turned out: “Whatever he said: the opposite.”

Magic.  Let's note that the country's most fervent eulogiser of our former Prime Minister is now reduced to bitching about people who have the temerity to dislike military coups, in order to defend him.

Bonus points are also due for JR's Twitter thread yesterday, which was full of Tweets and Retweets all saying essentially the same thing:  Anyone who has a problem with coups and shooting protestors is totally backing the Muslim Brotherhood LOL. 

Which is an awesome assertion - like, if you don't think that having an extremely violent military putsch in the UK tomorrow would be a good idea, then you must be some kind of hardline Tory rightist.

Anyway, I note all this just to point out the hilarious levels of bathos to which our John is now reduced, and to assure you all that Tony Blair hasn't suddenly gone insane or anything.  He was just like this when he was in charge of the nation's nuclear warheads as well. 

Sleep tight, everyone.


*You might quibble that Tony didn't say he advocated shooting protestors, but let us be clear - if you're arguing in favour of the Egyptian military's coup, you are arguing in favour of shooting protestors.