Tuesday, June 29, 2010

Judge This For Yourself

Form The Journal Of The Law Society of Scotland -

"A senior police officer has called for a national debate in Scotland on evidence requirements especially in sexual offence cases, claiming that the scales are currently stacked against law enforcement.

Assistant Chief Constable George Hamilton is reported in the Scotsman today as suggesting that the requirement for corroboration "may need to be revisited" in rape and sexual offence cases, particularly where the main issue is whether there was consent.

Mr Hamilton also believes that the combination of tight corroboration rules and the current six-hour maximum detention period without a suspect being charged, to which is now beiong added a right to solicitor access under guidelines issued by the Lord Advocate ahead of the Peter Cadder appeal decision, the system is becoming very restrictive. He would like to see further discussion of whether and how far to extend the six hour period, whether to 24 hours as in England or some lesser time.

He commented: "We need a balanced system that upholds human rights, but also realises justice needs to be seen to be done."

Whoever this clown is, he has no business holding authority over any other human being.

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Oligopolly

While in this instance I agree with Polly Toynbee completely, I don't hold out any hope of Vince Cable displaying any spine. What the UK needs is either for Google to mount a hostile bid for Newskorp with a view to breaking it up, or for awkward squad Liberal Democrats to realise that they have more power than they imagine and demand that News Corporation and News International be reined in and put on a leash so tight that it never gets in the way of democracy again.
Freedom of the press, a good thing, is an entirely different matter from freedom of press ownership. When media ownership is concentrated in too few hands, all that the press becomes free to report is what the owners demand.

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The Mosquito

Monbiot is, for once, right about something. My own view is rather harsher.
Those who have deployed the contraption known as 'The Mosquito', a device which is nothing more than an instrument of torture, should be gagged before being strapped into a chair and having a high-pitched whine blasted into their ears for hours at a time until they are deafened and can't tell anyone how uncomfortable they are. Someone using a Mosquito near a baby is trying to damage their hearing. Maybe someone should come and damage their Mosquito. It's better than someone coming to damage them, which is what they're trying to do to others.

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Monday, June 28, 2010

'The Shock Doctrine' Comes To Britain's Social Housing Sector

The loony proposal from Iain Duncan Smith, aka The Chingford Slaphead, that long term unemployed relocate from one part of the country to another in search of work might not be intentionally mean-spirited, but it's mean-spirited nonetheless.
In a country in which the gap beween rich and poor already resembles that in 2nd Century Rome, people such as these can't get jobs for any number of reasons. The areas in which they live may have depended on heavy industries which were destroyed for political reasons. They may have been squeezed out of the labour market by economically racist employers intent on driving their wage bills down through a subsidy provided by a tsunami of cheap foreign labour. Many of them just don't have the skills to get jobs, a state of affairs which is nothing to do with them but is entirely the fault of the educational regimes they had to study under and governments determined to massage the unemployment statistics out of terror of the problem's full scale being revealed. Even when they do get jobs, the growth of IT and the Internet now means it makes no difference whether the job they do is done in Bellshill or Bangalore, and they have no job security. Nobody in the UK with a private sector office job has had job security for at least the past 10 years.
What these particular human chess pieces do have, however, is security of tenure in council housing. Having failed to get all of council housing's occupants out by trying to sell them their own homes at massive discounts which resulted in the taxpayer taking a hit on every one that was 'sold', the atavistic Tory hatreds of the British people owning anything in common and of the rich being beholden to the poor, those inconvenient walking reminders both of their own avarice and of how their previous attempts to enrich us all have failed, for anything whatsoever can now combine to get them out by withdrawing their security of tenure if they won't move to find work they can't be guaranteed will be secure and which they might not even get. It's a classic example of what GM Trevelyan called 'the radicalism of the rich at the expense of the poor', all those juicy social housing sites emptied and waiting to be flogged off for redevelopment, people exiled from the areas they've known all their lives because their faces don't fit in with the architect's plans, or else because they might spoil somebody's view. As Naomi Klein illustrated so well in 'The Shock Doctrine', in some parts of the world you need to have a natural disaster for this kind of thing to happen, for people who've lived in one place all their lives to be turfed out in order to help bring in the tourists. In the UK, all you need to be guilty of is living in a council house.
The idea that everything in life has a cost is one which was invented in 1979. It was after that date infamous in memory, the date when we should all have begun to realise that Capitalism can be just as malign as Communism, that its unpleasantly backward corollary, that you don't own your job, a mindset critical to the operation of what Klein so aptly described as 'the boor market', also began to develop. But in British terms, Duncan Smith's wizard wheeze has thus far been the icing on the cake on what seems like being the most inhuman, downright evil legislative program in living memory. The fact that people don't own the dwellings they live in will be shoved in their faces as a mark of obloquy. Sorry, you might have had security of tenure before, but you don't now - after all, it may be your home, but it's not your house.
This is enclosure of public lands, very possibly for private profit, all over again. Oh, it may be brownfield instead of greenfield, and vertical instead of horizontal, but if it looks like enclosure and smells like enclosure, then it's probably enclosure. They could not enclose the social housing stock for their own purposes from within; so they shall now attempt to enclose it from without by force of law but slyly, by saying it's for the residents' own good. I thought these boys were early 19th Century in their thinking; forget that. This is 18th Century stuff. This is an attempt to proletarianise the proletariat.

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Last Thoughts

Sunday, June 27, 2010

The Way We Live Now

"Strangely, it was Nick Clegg rather than some bar-room demagogue who predicted riots on the streets after the election campaign was over. Whether or not his prophesy comes true, we are already seeing a different kind of riot: a revolt of the elite, a class war from above" -
Nick Cohen, today's 'Observer'.
"It is a revolution from above. The cupboard is not only bare, but it will never be filled again...the government will simply do less and encourage us to do more. Only the poorest will be helped" -
Martin Ivens, today's dead tree 'Sunday Times'.
"Class wars, as Mrs. Thatcher reminded us, are usually conducted with more rancour from the top than from the bottom" -
Eric Hobsbawn, 'On History', page 341.
I have never been more grateful to be a Catholic than I am now, because I find that the hope and promise of eternal life lets one just rise above the kind of pathologically backward crap, two centuries' worth of mental manure composted to the point of fermentation, that Snotter Bullingdon poured out over the House of Commons last week. There is no greater advertisement for religion than watching human beings trying to sort out the world by themselves. I am a Catholic - Deo Gratias!

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Saturday, June 26, 2010

Prayers Answered

Thanks to St. Anthony of Padua, for his assistance.

Deo Gratias!

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Friday, June 25, 2010

John Isner

I have the greatest sympathy for the child of God, all 6 foot 9 inches and goodness knows how many stones of him, who goes by the name of John Isner, beaten to a pulp by Thiemo de Bakker today.
For all the records that his match with Nicholas Mahut broke, there was something vile, almost gladiatorial, about it. Tennis is supposed to be a gentleman's game; yet while that match was going on and on and on, I recall thinking that perhaps it would only be stopped by either John or Nicholas dropping dead of a heart attack for the entertainment of visitors to SW19, or become a contest to see which of the two's kidneys would fail first. If anything died that day, it was big serving tennis played from the baseline. For all the entertainment one derives from seeing strings of Mach-1 serves, the idea that this can be stretched to over 11 hours by two players apparently turned by years of 'physical and mental conditioning' by 'sports scientists' into something only a very little short of Terminators raises very grave moral questions, some, sadly, of the oldest known to us all. Is it moral to subject your body to such punishment for the edification and entertainment of others (when the match between John and Nicholas was adjourned on Wednesday evening, I recall hearing the paying public at Court 18 shouting 'We want more! We want more!' like the crowd at the Colosseum baying for blood)? Is it moral to demand that others prejudice their health for your own entertainment? Must power always triumph over art? This was not the sly, foxy tennis of the quick backhand and sneaked dropshot, with hand-to-eye co-ordination, apparently a quality craved by the SAS, playing as great a role as strength. It was instead neoconservative tennis, strings of bombs launched at great speed and with devastating force. In this instance, might was not right; might was just met by other might until might could not endure a moment longer.
For someone whose most famous public utterance is 'You cannot be serious!', John McEnroe produced some interesting insights into the match on Wednesday evening in his capacity as a BBC commentator. In discussion with Tim Henman and John Inverdale, McEnroe remarked on the difference between John and Nicholas and the teams competing in the FIFA World Cup, and how the players in the World Cup play for 90 minutes in teams of 11 and the whole thing can end in penalties, and how the tennis players stand alone testing themselves against each other for hour after hour at a time, and how the whole thing is a wonderful advert for tennis. John McEnroe is one of his sport's legends, and every word he utters about it should be treated with the utmost respect, and there is a great deal of truth in what he says; yet perhaps what Mac doesn't quite grasp is that watching an 11 hour long match in which a very tall guy can't outserve a very much shorter guy when both can consistently serve at over 100 mph is like watching the longest penalty shoot-out of all time: Germany -v- Germany, German taking spotkick against German from now until Kingdom come.
Isner - v - Mahut is one of those instances where technology and training have raced far ahead of the law's ability to police their application; not unlike the Internet itself. The rules of tennis must be changed to prevent such a spectacle ever being repeated. Even if it boils down to something as banal as deciding last set tie-breaks on a coin toss, anything is preferable to such a disgusting display ever being enacted again. I'll leave the last word to John's mother, Karen, after his defeat today -
"He's a little beat up, his feet are rotten looking. He has no skin on his toes, he's sort of a mess,".
Mrs. Isner's very big little boy deserves something more from his vocation than either septicaemia or orthopaedic problems. Hopefully his sponsors, indeed tennis-lovers in general, will agree.
Is there a bloke from Dunblane playing Wimbledon this year?

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The Giving Of Proper Names

Continuing in the spirit of the ad hominem attacks on public figures that have dominated the blog in recent days, it is only fair to note that Iain Duncan-Smith, one of the few tree-dwelling nocturnal mammals ever to have led a British political party, is at the forefront of the push to keep us all working to 70. As someone who might just wake up tomorrow and never be able to work again, I am gratified by such confidence in my abilities, even although it pays no heed to my inclination. I've lost 10 years of my life actually looking for work, and don't wish to do it for a moment longer than I have to. Better that some rich bastard's blood pressure be raised by the thought of me lying in bed in the morning than to have to get out of it.
Mr. Duncan-Smith's predecessor as MP for Chingford, Norman Tebbit, was occasionally described as 'The Chingford Skinhead'. Although he is just as follically challenged as the old bootboy, it would be grossly unfair to tar Mr. Duncan-Smith with the unpleasant associations attached to the word 'skinhead'. We shall describe him as 'The Chingford Slaphead' instead.

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Thursday, June 24, 2010

Snotter Bullingdon's Botched 'Budget' - Hammering Those Evergreen Targets, The Old, Young, Poor, Sick And Weak

Although the abolition of the maternity grant will result in expectant mothers being unable to buy good prams - the entire purpose of the grant in the first place - forcing them to buy cheap and badly made ones that collapse with their children in them, Snotter Bullingdon's proposed abolition of the child trust fund is easily one of the most stupid and self-defeating aspects of the whole budget.
Anyone who has read the small print on the child trust fund paperwork should know that it can only be invested in particular types of account, one of which is linked to the stock market. It could be the case that the whole child trust fund scheme was intended to provide the stock market with a public subsidy, with new parents being used as mules to transport the cash from the Treasury to the City. If so, it was a stunning failure undone, as ever, by the greed of financiers. The party of the City has inadvertently abolished one of the City's secret subsidies. Boffo, Snotter!
Although he's very rich, I don't know whether Snotter is one of those rich weirdos who regard the poor as vermin who should be sterilised. I hope he isn't. However, abolishing one grant that enables expectant mothers to buy what they need for their children, abolishing another that enables them to provide a little seed capital for their children (you can't, you know, blow it on drugs or plasma TV's) and freezing the already low level of child benefit is just about as anti-child, or anti-poor children, as one could get. This is not a compassionate budget, but a eugenic one, by effect if not by intention.
At the same time, tough new 'medical tests' are going to be introduced for Disability Living Allowance claimants from 2013. This sort of move appeals to that 'Daily Mail' demographic that adores living in fear and loves puppies while hating people, those for whom the rest of humanity is an obstacle in their path. One wonders what form these 'tough new tasks' will take. Perhaps wheelchair users will be forced to participate in triathlons. Perhaps Mount Everest will be fitted with a stairlift, to see how far up it asthmatics will be able to go before losing consciousness. What I have already put the stopwatch on for is the appearance of the first story of an ex-serviceman who has lost a limb in Iraq or Afghanistan being declined DLA on the basis on the tough new 'medical tests'. Tories love things that are tough, don't they? I very much doubt whether anyone has ever got tough with Snotter in his life. That louche image of him, wild-haired and partying hard, is still too fresh in the memory to ever take anything he has to say about austerity too seriously.
And if they haven't got you when you're young or middle aged, they'll get you when you're old. Not only must you be poor, but you will be forced to work longer to pay for your poverty. This is a particularly nasty move, as it will do nothing but ensure that the presence of unwilling elderly in the workforce (where are all these vigorous elderly people desperate to keep working? I have yet to meet one), forced to be there because of the pissing about with the pension laws by governments of both Right and Even Further Right over the past 30 years, will not only reduce the wages payable to the young but also ensure that opportunities for advancement are limited. The road to serfdom was trod by anyone who went to a polling booth and voted Conservative on 6th May. And all the while they insist on playing the Great Power with guns and bombs, to the ruin of lives and nations. It's disgusting.
This is an anti-human budget, inhumane in every respect, quite easily one of the most genuinely evil pieces of legislation the United Kingdom has ever seen.

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Wednesday, June 23, 2010

Snotter Bullingdon's Botched 'Budget' - Tanking The Buy To Let Sector At A Stroke

Snotter Bullingdon's 'budget', for want of a better word, aims to cap Housing Benefit at £400.00 per week.
Today's 'Daily Mail' carried a typically 'Daily Mail' style reference to Somali refugees living in privately rented accommodation (my apologies if that word is misspelled, always been a blind spot) in Central London at a cost of over a grand a week in rent. This is one of the demographics that this cut targets. That such a cut will have absolutely no impact upon the local authority's duties to such residents under the Human Rights Act, rendering the cut meaningless by exposing local authorities to the risk of litigation, does not appear to have occurred to Snotter and his chums. But they live in the real world, don't you know?
Another is a particular favourite of Britain's cheap right wing press, those layabouts on high rate Disability Living Allowance for life, on account of a sprained wrist, living with their 60 children by 40 women in rented mock Tudor mansions at a cost to the taxpayer of a million pounds a week. For better or worse, this cut will not attack the apathetic and oversexed paterfamilias. It will, however, attack the children by forcing them to live in unsuitable surroundings, again exposing local authorities to unnecessary risk of litigation. That such households can only exist because of rich elites' refusal to conform to common morality and their insistence on forcing their own amorality down the peoples' throat to the extent that, if one were to believe what one reads in the newspapers, one might feel unsafe in the company of a Parliamentary Conservative Party more interested in mounting each other like gerbils than in running the country, also doesn't seem to occur to Snotter. With such people costs are always, only and ever financial, and are always to be borne by someone else.
It will also attack those many buy to let tycoons who make a bloody fortune from Housing Benefit payments. While such businesspeople might be natural Tories who hold their nose at the thought of doing business with the government (but are prepared to do so for as long as its money's good), I bet they didn't realise they were voting to put themselves out of business.
Snotter and his chums will need to cut one hell of a swathe through the Human Rights Act to get this 'budget' through. He can use its rubble to start building all the poorhouses he'll need.

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A Balanced Budget

Snotter Bullingdon's 'Botchit' Budget promises to lower the rate of corporation tax. This almost demented move is a desperate plea to the gods of the market to come to the aid of those who most definitely wish to see the welfare state abolished in its entirety, and who would very possibly prefer to see those less fortunate than themselves living in ignorance and want if it meant they could get rich and hold on to power.
If benefits are to be frozen, government departments slashed and the tax which falls hardest on the poorest set to rise, I for one would have preferred to have seen a similar degree of economic violence being perpetrated on the Kommerzkaste and all their legal fictions. If a person is deemed unsuitable to be a director of a limited company, they should be jailed for 10 years and banned for life. If one person is responsible for the collapse of a company, then the veil of incorporation should be torn aside and their property confiscated. If a public official accepts hospitality from an entity they are supposed to be regulating, then the corruption of both the official and the entity should be assumed and the entity wound up without compensation and the official jailed for 10 years. If loss to life or property is done by a limited company, that company should be wound up without compensation to its shareholders. The payment of public pensions to millionaire ex-ministers should be abolished immediately. Such people were a drain on resources when they were active, and it is iniquitous for them to continue to be a drain when passive. And no Member of Parliament should be permitted to hold any outside employment, and every one of them should be accountable for every second of every day that they are part of it.
That would have been a balanced budget. But I guess it's no fun stamping on the rich, when you can stamp on the poor instead.

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Tuesday, June 22, 2010

Sales Credit

Yesterday I wrote that Snotter Bullingdon's budget would be 'a concerted assault on the poor'. And so it has proved to be.
With that speccy ginger nonentity Danny Alexander at his side nodding all the while like Solon crossed with Churchill the Dog, Snotter Bullingdon has dictated in his 'emergency budget' (oh, for God's sake, these people wouldn't know a crisis if one strode boldly towards them before biting off their testicles) that the VAT rate will rise from 17.5% to 20% with effect from January 2011.
A VAT rise is nothing but an assault on the poor in the same way that a rise in any tax levied across the population without regard for ability to pay is an assault on the poor. If Snotter Bullingdon and the Speccy Ginger Nonentity had an ounce of brains in their heads, they would introduce the concept of the Sales Credit.
The Sales Credit would be an unlimited personal allowance against VAT capable of being redeemed at the point of sale. When you get your P60 every year, you would get a laminated card to put in your wallet confirming that you earned either more or less than £40,000 per year. If you earn more than £40,000 per year, you would pay VAT at 20%. If you earned £40,000 per year or less, you could pay VAT at 10%. If you were unemployed or on benefits, you wouldn't pay VAT at all. It would be an entirely personal allowance distinct from income tax (when I buy a bag of crisps at lunchtime, why in goodness' name should I hang on to the receipt to prove it was a purchase for my household?), and whether you chose to redeem it would be entirely at your discretion. If any muppet chose to pay VAT at 40% when they're scratching their backside for coppers, then while one might one fairly consider them to be a lunatic one couldn't really stop them. It would reduce the amount of time retailers have to spend farting about doing VAT accounts, and would help increase consumption.
But in the United Kingdom the poor must be only be poor, they must be made to feel poor, and there's no better way of achieving that than making them pay a far higher proportion of their income in taxes than the rich; an inevitable result of today's 'Budget'.

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Monday, June 21, 2010

Why The Tories Don't Get It, Can't Get It And Will Never Get It

I quote from memory, but I seem to recall that in his interesting wee book 'The Thistle and The Rose' Allan Massie, perhaps quite unintentionally, made the greatest argument against globalisation I have ever read.
Remember, this is from memory, so I do not vouchsafe its accuracy 100%, but I seem to recall him writing critically of Margaret Thatcher that she didn't understand that the Scottish economy required support because economic activity was slower in Scotland than in the South East partly because of its distance from it; and if a one size fits all solution doesn't work on a small North Atlantic island like ours, it is only logical to assume that it can't work for every country in the world in a 'global economy'.
The extent to which the Tories still don't get it is shown in an article by a character called Tim Montgomerie criticising the Barnett formula. The Barnett formula is not a subsidy. It would be more appropriate to describe it as part of the aid budget intended to level the playing field, in a very small way. It is hated by English nationalists. That is a good enough reason to fight for its survival, for if one has no time for the trucklings of Scottish nationalists, it would be intellectually inconsistent not to extend the same apathy and froideur to the shaven-headed, sweaty-armpitted yeomen of the bulldog and chips brigade.
As for the Tories, they're like the worst kind of general, always fighting the last war, spastically yelling 'Markets!' and 'Choice!' and 'Tax cuts!', slogans reduced to pallilalic tics. Their intellectual vision seems to be be as shallow as a puddle 'Tax cuts!' Everything about them is geared to making the rich richer 'Markets!' Oddly enough, I'm not as angry about this as I 'Choice!' used to be. Now that I understand it, I'm quite at peace with it, because I know that they only have one type to revert to, and 'Tax cuts!' as usual they'll just cock it up in a couple of years by 'Choice!' letting the barracudas run riot.
No doubt Osborne's budget will be a concerted assault on the poor. People not like him will have to suffer in the name of economy. No matter. We all have to be judged some time.

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Friday, June 18, 2010

Stopping

"He set to work himself, and in a few weeks sketched out a rough draft of his thoughts and observations on bamboo paper. The eagerness of his new pursuit, together with the diseases of the climate, proved too much for his constitution, and he was forced to return to this country. He put his metaphysics, his bamboo manuscript, into the boat with him, and as he floated down the Ganges, said to himself, 'If I live, this will live; if I die, it will not be heard of.' What is fame to this feeling? The babbling of an idiot! He brought the work home with him and twice had it stereotyped. The first sketch he allowed was obscure, but the improved copy he thought could not fail to strike. It did not succeed. The world, as Goldsmith said of himself, made a point of taking no notice of it" -
William Hazlitt, 'On People With One Idea'.
There's a lot going on at the moment, and blogging once again must take a back seat. Truth be told, most days I can see it far enough. I reconciled myself to merited insignifance and justified obscurity long ago; however, I'm now not altogether keen on others being associated with some of the things I've said in the past (see directly below). While blogging must be the most immediately accessible of all literary forms, it must also be the least fungible, often to the shame and embarrassment of bloggers. The Catholic Teuchter once remarked that my style was very unattractive at times, and I wish I could disagree. However, it is depressing to realise that I can do no other.
May God bless you all, and grant you everything you want.

The Author's Moronic Sayings

In 2007, I called for Iraqi interpreters helping the British Army not to be permitted to settle in the UK.
I hope they can forgive me, for I am afraid of answering to God for having done it.

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Thursday, June 17, 2010

A Prayer Request To St. Anthony Of Padua

Stress makes one do and say terrible things.
A precious item has been lost. St. Anthony of Padua, pray for us.

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A Scandalous Article

'The Tablet' should not be sold at any Catholic Church in the United Kingdom until the editor is dismissed. Articles such as this are unacceptable - it is an assault not merely on orthodoxy but on faith itself.
Not buying 'The Tablet' would be Catholic Action in action.

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The Small State

The small state is of benefit only to plutocrats liberated by a lack of supervision and accountability to treat their workers, those without whom their business could not be performed, like chattels.
One notorious right wing blowhard, unleashed on the nation by two tax exiles in the hope that his fulminations will help boost advertising revenues, praises a draft Budget which calls for the privatisation of the motorways - a move which would no doubt work wonders for cutting the price of food: laissez faire, laissez passer, anyone? - and which his precis suggests has been written by a troupe of teenage snots. Having had 22 -yes, 22 - different jobs in the last 19 years, for no purpose other than to be A Good Boy and keep myself independent of the state (a courtesy the state has never reciprocated), the teeny snots want to keep me working past 65, and to tax the sale of childrens' clothing, a move that will no doubt help boost the birth rate no end. These chaps are an intellectual elite with all the answers, and we must all abase ourselves in front of them in awe of their enlightenment. Or maybe not. Maybe they're a bunch of wallies desperate to get on by telling rich people what they want to hear, an always lucrative if often sterile pursuit.
Having taken quite a lot of my own skin in order to be A Good Boy Who Keeps Himself Independent Of The State, it both irritates and worries me that power worshipping balloons and wealth worshipping nutballs might consider my concessionary travel card and disabled parking badge to be unnecessary expenses. I have news for them. A very good friend of mine is in the process of applying for one of those juicy, succulent, non means-tested disability benefits, and I hope that they get it, because those who believe in the small state will feel the loss of every pound pillaged from them in tax and paid to my friend like a delinquent tar feeling the flesh being torn from their back by the cat.
And that would be good for their souls, and thus A Good And Wholesome Thing.
Hat tip - Neil Clark.

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Tuesday, June 15, 2010

Murder Will Out

And so the findings of the Bloody Sunday enquiry have been published, the mother of all Sunday supplements.
One awaits the perorations of Simon Heffer with great interest - we already have Norman Tebbit, the only mainstream, mainland politician I have ever heard repeat the sectarian slogan 'No Surrender', calling for a similar enquiry into the Brighton bombing. The spastic reflexiveness with which some English are able to hate could put Glaswegians to shame. Brighton's perpetrators were jailed, while Bloody Sunday's were not. Justice was served in one case, but not another. Both events were terrible and avoidable. Any comparison between what happened in their aftermaths, in particular the comparative degree of legal process undertaken to pursue and punish the perpetrators, is specious.
What Tebbit and those like him just don't get, and were never interested in getting and never will be interested in getting, was the radicalising effect that Bloody Sunday had on some people. The 'journalist', I suppose he might be called, Douglas Murray has published a piece in 'The Daily Mail' quoting Col. Wilford, the CO of the Paras in Derry that day -
"I have to ask,’ he said, ‘what about Bloody Wednesday, Thursday, Friday and every day of the week? ‘What about Bloody Omagh? What about Bloody Warrenpoint, Enniskillen, Hyde Park, or Bloody Aldershot and Brighton — bloody everything the IRA have ever touched."
That which is inexcusable, and for which no excuse should ever be attempted, can still be understandable. Frankly, that Murray's thoughts are capable of being published on a subject so serious as this says much in my opinion for the declining standards of British journalism. As for Col. Wilford, he sounds like a man afraid of spending the rest of his days in custody. As Chuter Ede wrote on Timothy Evans's plea for clemency, 'The law must take its course'.
What Murray, steeped in the might is right intellectual violence of neoconservatism, and Wilford the old soldier still just don't seem to get is that without the events of 30th January 1972 there might not have been Omaghs, Enniskillens, Hyde Parks or Aldershots. Bloody Sunday was a radicalising event. Seeing your neighbours being shot in the street when unarmed and running away does not make you love the shooters; just as seeing your family bombed to smithereens from 30,000 feet does not make you love the bombers. One of the real tragedies of Bloody Sunday was that it was a rehearsal for Iraq, although nobody knew it at the time. During the campaign of 2003 and afterwards, we were told that the British would be well prepared to police Basra because of their experience in Northern Ireland. It doesn't seem to have dawned on anyone that the reason they were so good at that type of operation was bitter experience learned in the aftermath of a few soldiers going out of control. With their penchant for killing people from the edge of space and imprisoning innocent people without charge on the other side of the world, the American military establishments inflicted a thousand Bloody Sundays on Iraq, and then seemed puzzled when people resisted. The problem wasn't that Saddam was the new Hitler - it was that they were the new 1 Para, and nobody had bothered to tell them.
The time has come to say it - much of what happened that day was cold-blooded, state sanctioned murder. A murderer in a red beret firing his weapon with the blessing of the Crown is still a murderer. The publication of today's report is a work of intellectual hygiene upon the British body politic which is nearly 40 years overdue. One can only reflect on how many lives, including soldiers' lives, might have been spared had it been conducted a great deal sooner.
(Update 16/04/10 - I've made some changes. It now makes more sense)

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The Finale of 'Stargate Universe'

Complete cop out. It says much for the producers' appreciation of the viewers' intelligence if they do not think we know Carlyle must be on at least a three year contract.

I can't wait for the next series.

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Belgium

As at the time of writing, it still seems to exist.
The breakup of Belgium into regions would be an interesting example of people holding a revolution under rules laid down by those against whom they are revolting. I'm quoting from memory and so will provide no indemnity as to accuracy, but I think it was in his book 'On History' that Eric Hobsbawm made reference to the Habsburg policy of regionalism. Whether this means that the current EU policy of regionalism is just an Austro-Hungarian policy moved sideways in direction and forward in time to societies that don't wish it imposed on them is not a matter I've looked into too closely; it would say much for the EU's anti-democratic nature if it were. There may be a Ph. D. thesis in that topic, if one hasn't been done already. However, given Belgium's past as the Habsburg province of the Austrian Netherlands, it would really be quite ironic.

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"We Have To Accept That A Lot Of The Public Can Look After Themselves

How, exactly? By not paying Shearer his pension, if only because he doesn't seem prepared to earn it?
And with what can we look after ourselves? Kind words and lollipops? If I try to defend myself against a home invader, thuggish, shaven-headed police officers will arrest me. Quis custodiet ipsos custodes? The Scottish Conservatives? Get real.
Are those members of the public who can 'look after themselves' to receive a council tax rebate, given that they will not be receiving the same service as other citizens? And is there some kind of sausage machine inside Tulliallan Police College that turns out these characters?

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Conservative Halal

What you eat is pretty much your own business. If a libertarian wishes to pollute themself with a diet of beer and fish suppers because they consider doing so to be an expression of their own liberty, then one might consider them to be any number of things but one wouldn't try to stop them.
Stories such as this, however, are of a slightly different hue. Not really caring what you eat is slightly different from not caring how what you eat is produced, nor by whom. Genetically modified food seems to be where the mindset of 'Star Trek' meets that of 'Old MacDonald Had A Farm', the intensely modern, ultrarational view that believes technology is the cure for all our ills applied to the most basic, most ancient of human practices. GM may have some value. However, there may also be some value in the human race deciding to recite the words 'Give us this day our daily bread'. It works for me. Which of the two is more likely to lead to you having bread to eat is one of those many things in life to which we will never know the answer. We might think we know; but we won't, not really.
In the conservative worldview, of course, one can imagine that some almost feel a compulsion to eat GM foods, solely because they're produced by big businesses for profit. In that worldview, GM runs the risk of becoming nothing but a conservative halal, that which you do not eat because you are free to eat it but because you feel compelled to eat it because someone has told you that you should. Gotta love the market. It's always so rational.
Hat tip - Mark Shea.

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Monday, June 14, 2010

A Night Of Random Thoughts...

without a single mention of any number of hobbyhorses ranging from chicken nuggets to the Bilderberg Group. It's only a blog, you know.

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'Doctor Who'

My initial reservations about the new 'Doctor Who' were unfounded. I like it. The two principals are not only telegenic but also both very capable actors, the scripts have been sharp - the casting of Tony Curran, with his eerie resemblance to Kirk Douglas, as Van Gogh was a masterstroke. Last Saturday's episode starred James Corden, but you can't have everything.
It's good.

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Adrian Mutu

He can't be in a good place right now, for sure, and as such it's hard not to feel some sympathy for him. This might be European football's 'An American Tragedy', too much having been put in front of a young man perhaps unable to cope with the anvils of talent, expectation and, worst of all, fame and money hung around his neck. He must rue the day he ever heard the name of Roman Abramovich.
Glaswegian urban legend has it that Jock Stein had a network of spies around the west of Scotland that would have rivalled Thurloe's or Walsingham's, for the purpose of ensuring that he knew precisely when Jimmy Johnstone stepped into a pub. While having multinational teams of superstars must be attractive for owners and supporters, there must be times when they're impossible to control.

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'V'

I was looking forward to the remake of 'V' on Syfy. Then I saw that one of the infiltrators was being played by the actor who also played Steve the Pirate in 'Dodgeball'.

It's sad to say this, but I couldn't take it seriously after that.

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What Is It With Us?

Why does Scotland produces so many reports of this kind of crime? Or this? Or this? There was a report last week about a gang of neds jumping out of a minibus to beat up a guy on Renfield Street. I never thought I'd say this, but I'm beginning to get nervous riding on public transport. The last time I saw an assault on a bus, it was one old woman having a go at another who looked about her own age whom she suspected of having tried to trip her up with a shopping trolleybasket.
Why can't we just live in peace with each other? Would that be too dull for us?

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The World Cup

It's not been that great so far. Too tactical, low scoring, and nobody really going for it.
And those bloody horns! I've banned myself from watching any of it at home. The horns are far too loud.

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Sunday, June 13, 2010

Bilderfisk

Although he could have done his credibility more justice by getting David Frum's name right, kudos to Charlie Skelton for posting a link to Bilderberg's brand new website.
Sadly, it seems to raise as many questions as it answers.
Its home page states that,
"Bilderberg takes its name from the hotel in Holland, where the first meeting took place in May 1954. That pioneering meeting grew out of the concern expressed by leading citizens on both sides of the Atlantic that Western Europe and North America were not working together as closely as they should on common problems of critical importance. It was felt that regular, off-the-record dicussions would help create a better understanding of the complex forces and major trends affecting Western nations in the difficult postwar period."
In the British context, one could assume that the concept of 'leading citizens' in the 1950's would have included any number of public figures ranging from the Archbishop of Canterbury to the General Secretary of the Transport and General Workers' Union to the Chairman of the Cats' Protection League. In the context of Bilderberg, some types of citizens must be assumed to be more leading than others.
The 'Governance' page is not wholly accurate. It lists Kenneth Clarke as being a member of the Steering Committe and also lists him as being a 'Member of Parliament'. While this is true, it doesn't really do Fatty justice, given his very recent elevation to the post of Justice Secretary. This webpage seems to have gone up in response to scrutiny of the 2010 meeting at Sitges. Clarke was appointed to the Cabinet before this meeting was held. Given what I believe to be the strenuous nature of Parliamentary rules regarding ministers' outside interests, whether membership of this committee, the name of which implies both involvement and activity, can be held to be within those rules is perhaps a matter for one of the more fractious and newly minted Members of the Opposition to take up.
The 'Previous Conferences' section has two main drawbacks. While noting that there was no conference in 1976, it fails to mention whether the reason for this, firmly established in Bilderlore, was the old gun runner Bernhard of the Netherlands' involvement in the Lockheed scandal. The other is a more serious omission. Apart from 2009, at the time of writing there do not appear to be any lists of attendees at previous conferences. While the disclaimer section appears to be directly aimed at previous attendees who might be tempted to take a speculative punt at Bilderberg for an indemnity in case of being sued as result of attendance - for whatever reason - the exercise seems pointless if you don't actually know who the previous attendees were; which in turn means, of course, that the question of whether Tony Blair lied to the House of Commons on 30th March 1998 about members of his government's attendance at Bilderberg conferences remains a very open one.
As regards attendees, the list of 'leading citizens' seems to include a number of crowned heads, something of a contradiction in terms. It is also interesting to note that Professor Niall Ferguson, the Glasgow-born Laurence A. Tisch Professor History at Harvard University, sometime self-described 'fully paid-up member of the neo-imperialist gang' and now apparently adviser to the Education Secretary on the history curriculum, is listed as a delegate from the USA, as he was also in 2009, the year that a former Chief Spook, a Cabinet Minister and the then Shadow Chancellor were invited from the UK. If that great doctor and master is now one of America's leading citizens, then God help us all.

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'Something Will Have To Give'

Just what might give is the tolerance of the British poor towards being told that they are a burden by journalists entitled to put the handle 'The Hon.' before their names.
Revolutions are always bad things, but the sons of Tory Chancellors calling for the slashing of welfare spending is just the kind of event that helps start them. Somebody shut these people up, just for a minute, please. They seem to have no sense of humility at all. They do not seem to understand that had it not been for a series of extremely fortuitous accidents of birth, their lives might have been very different.

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A Short Thought On Supporting Scotland's National Soccer Team

England's disappointment at the World Cup last night is a sadly familiar experience to those who have supported Scotland at the same tournament, an experience that might best be described by paraphrasing the Psalms - They go out, they go out full of song, they come back, they come back full of tears.

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Friday, June 11, 2010

Let Us See The Indefensible Be Defended

Hat tip Mark Shea.

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Thursday, June 10, 2010

How To Cut The Deficit In One Fell Swoop

Stop paying Michael Heseltine's pension.
We were told that he was the richest Member of Parliament for decades. Very well. Let us see him put his money where his apologists' mouths have been. Heseltine is and always has been feral, a wild animal in a sharp suit. Let us see how capable he actually is of surviving by the laws of the jungle.
And by the same token, strip Major and Blair of their pension rights as well. Both have shown themselves to be perfectly capable of supporting themselves through their own efforts without needing to fall back upon public funds. I feel no need to support those who have quite deliberately acted against my interests.

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Wednesday, June 09, 2010

Coming To A European Union Near You...

Tuesday, June 08, 2010

Telling The Truth About The Public Finances...

Monday, June 07, 2010

Liam Fox's Second Gaffe In A Month

“It’s not as if he is Russian” -

A remarkably stupid comment at the best of times, but even more so when read in context.
The Prime Minister is going to have to watch this guy. He makes me nervous.

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'Our Way Of Life'

Given that he's a multimillionaire who's never had a proper job himself, the Prime Minister's remarks that his proposed spending cuts will affect 'our way of life' would be funny if he and his Chancellor were not so enthusiastic about sticking boots into the poor, the sick and the weak; and appointing Star Chambers to ensure it's done. That's what they like - getting what they want, when they want, and without regard to who gets hurt.

We do not have a financial crisis in the UK. We have a number of rich people who resent paying tax crisis, a state of affairs that has endured for longer than I can remember. That does not make it a crisis.

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Friday, June 04, 2010

A Full Accounting To Parliament

I have nothing to add to my comments of yesterday about Bilderberg 2010, other than that it is interesting to have read reports of its commencement in both 'The Guardian' and now in 'The Times'.
If the Chancellor of the Exchequer is there, as 'The Times' has reported, then I am sure that Parliament will expect a full accounting of the matters that were discussed and the official view that he took of them. At this stage in the calendar he has no view other than an official view, for Parliament is still in session, after all, and he should only be away from it on official business of a type which would be subject to the terms of the Freedom of Information Act. Time to answer to the little people.

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Thursday, June 03, 2010

All Very Sad

Bilderberg 2010

It's in Spain this year.

Why those who have a mandate to hold power should consort in private with those who do not and think they should not be subject to scrutiny for having done so is beyond me; arrogance of the worst sort. Why some of the world's busiest people, some of those with its heaviest responsibilities, should take time out of their schedules for a conference which their apologists describe as being deadly dull is beyond me; if you want to be bored but feel the need to have someone show face, send an intern.

While there are those who believe that the scrutiny of meetings between those who have a mandate to hold power with those who don't would be 'fundamentally totalitarian', I'm not one of them. I want Kenneth Clarke, someone who has relied on the taxpayer for his crust for four decades and who would have been unlikely ever to have held any directorship had he not earned his crust from the taxpayer, to give a full and public accounting of everything he has discussed at every Bilderberg he has ever attended. He has always worked for us, and it's long past time he paid us, his masters, the respect we deserve by telling us what he's been up to.

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Hidden Agenda

Tuesday, June 01, 2010

If All Cannot Be For The Best In The Best Of All Possible Worlds, It Can Sometimes Be For The Least Worst

When faced with the desire of an entity that is not a government to interfere in its business, the Scottish solicitors' profession chose the least worst option. Not the best of days for liberty in Scotland, but certainly not the worst either.

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A Quick Dead Leg For The Scottish Nationalists

No matter how it was spun, the sight of The Tartanissimo rolling over and asking the Prime Minister to tickle his tummy made me want to vomit. Where's your 'dancing to a Scottish tune' now, Alex?

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What Were They Thinking?

Did they seriously think that anyone would attempt to sail to Gaza without having a contingency plan in place for repelling boarders? Are they off their heads? And why do they seem almost to have gone out of their way to wind up the Turks, of all people? Has Bibi got a bolt loose? Do they really think that they can get away with anything?

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Strange To Say It...

The gentleman in question, who only came a cropper when he chose nature over nurture, really should do us all a favour and go back to dissecting frogs or whatever it was he used to do. But unless I'm greatly mistaken, in which case I apologise, he's the new Secretary of State for Northern Ireland's brother-in-law, so that makes it all right.
In February 2008, the 'Sunday Telegraph' reported that,
"Owen Paterson, the shadow secretary of state for Northern Ireland whose wife Rose is paid almost £30,000 year to work for him, said: "If you can find me a Cambridge graduate who has an encyclopaedic knowledge of my constituency, who is willing to work long and anti-social hours at very short notice for that sort of salary then good luck. Until then, my wife is the best person for the job."
Her husband's bog standard Tory arrogance notwithstanding, it's seems like nice work if you can get it. Mind you, I'd feel a bit embarrassed about taking money from the taxpayer if my brother had helped crash a bank.

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Educational Excellence

The real British disease, the deep need felt by its elites to ensure that absolutely no public function should be carried on without someone profiting from it, is rife among the new bosses. Michael Gove, an Education Secretary with the perpetual air of a wee boy who was bullied at school, has no objection to businesses being involved in whatever new whizbang, Heath Robinson form of education system will now be put together with two empty egg-boxes and a roll of sticky-back plastic.
He could, of course, insist on every child receiving the same excellent education he received. Huh? Yes, you read that correctly. If Gove wishes to really make his mark as an Education Secretary, he would insist upon every child receiving the same excellent education that he did. After all, at what point did that most humane act of ensuring that every child receives not only an excellent education but also one which is most suited to them become not a common good but private property? At what point did the necessity of combatting ignorance cease to be in the public interest?
If Gove is really interested in doing something important, he could announce that vocational schools and academic schools would receive equal funding. This was not what happened with secondary moderns and grammar schools, which is why the secondary moderns were so bad in comparison with the grammars. He could insist that teaching is a profession, demand that teachers behave professionally and refuse to treat with teaching unions intent on preserving the right of many of the mediocrities who infest the nation's classrooms to be treated as a modern form of medieval guild labour. He could give headteachers the power to suspend defective, incompetent and malicious teachers on the spot, and give them the protection of the law to ensure that any such suspensions are carried out as quickly and effectively as possible, with public sackings pour encourager les autres. The prospect of slobbish and incompetent public sector workers being defenestrated would be a slice of red meat for the more feral of his own backbenchers so chunky that he'd be able to get them to vote to pay for teaching Gaelic in Norfolk on the back of it.
He could do all of these things, but he probably won't. The British public education system now exists almost solely to serve the dual purposes of warehousing children and giving a privately educated elite something to either fret over or deplore. One can understand the attractions of homeschooling.

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