Saturday, November 13, 2004

Bush Hits 60M Votes

He may have won nine days ago, but they're still counting in the US elections. Iowa and New Mexico also declared for Bush after the Ohio vote decided the election. Both states went to Gore in 2000.

Hat-tip - Politburo Diktat, which also has a neat if US-centric map of the Blogging Empire.

I Must Get Back To Work ..

A paintbrush and a bathroom wall awaits .. but before I go, via (I think - possibly by a convoluted route) Blithering Bunny, the US Election Random Rant Generator - and one for Norman Geras - the story of David Boon's legendary innings in the 1989 Ashes series.

Wine Drinkers And Fire Raisers

This sounds believable.

It is understood that Lord Watson of Invergowrie, who, until last year was the Minister for Tourism, Culture and Sport in Scotland, was the subject of a complaint to police by the management of Prestonfield House Hotel, in Edinburgh.

Just before the first outbreak of fire, it is believed that words were exchanged when a bar stopped serving drinks for the night after the Scottish Politician of the Year awards, sponsored by the Glasgow-based Herald newspaper.

Also liked this comment from a friend.

"Mike was not particularly drunk."

UPDATE - is he the fire starter ? The twisted fire starter ? Who can say ?

"in a statement he repeated: "Although two of them [stills from the CCTV footage] appear to feature me, I’m not doing anything wrong and the other two are inconclusive. I categorically deny any wrongdoing."

A spokesman for the party said: Watson had still not been contacted by the police, who yesterday were refusing to comment on the substance of the case. A statement from Lothian and Borders police is expected today.

The extraordinary succession of events caught on camera began at 2:13am on Friday, when a man in a dress kilt was captured on CCTV camera crouching by the curtains in the reception room.

At 2:16am, the same man comes back into camera, and looks across to see a small flame lapping on the edge of the curtain. By 2:18, the flames have spread right across the curtains, with smoke filling the room."

The fire was quickly put out but the suspicions of staff were roused when they discovered that an unsuccessful attempt had been made to set alight the curtains in an adjacent room"

UPDATE 2 14/11/04 - things not looking good.

A party spokesman said: “Mike Watson has been suspended from the Labour party pending the outcome of the current legal process.”

Labour’s move followed Lord Watson being charged by police over an alleged incident at an Edinburgh hotel after the Scottish Politician of the Year Awards, in the early hours of Friday.

The inquiry is believed to have been into claims that a curtain may have been set on fire at the five-star hotel.

Lothian and Borders Police said: “A 55-year-old man has been arrested and charged in connection with an alleged incident at the Prestonfield House hotel in the early hours of Friday November 12.

"Them" And "Us"

Cote D'Ivoire, for so long the happy exception to the African disaster, has applied for basket-case status.

The Guardian reports as follows :

John Sullivan, head of Save the Children's operations in Ivory Coast, told Radio 4's Today programme that attacks on foreigners were indiscriminate.

"Much of the rhetoric on television and public radio was very incendiary," he said, adding that it was hard for large mobs to distinguish between French and other white-skinned people, who seemed to be the focus of attacks.

I like that 'seemed to be'. Isn't there a word to describe that sort of thing ?

In Holland there are attacks on the property of dark-skinned people. The Guardian reports :

Spray painting a white cross and White Power slogans on to the grey brick walls of the Muslim school the previous night, Dutch racists had set the place ablaze.

Can you spot the word ?

Of course, racist is a word that only applies to white people.

The new liberal consensus appears to be that Theo Van Gogh's murder was a particularly nasty case of suicide. Guardian again :

To his admirers, Van Gogh is a martyr to freedom of speech. To his many detractors, Van Gogh was a loudmouthed racist hungry for attention and himself a victim of the hatred he helped to foment.

Free speech campaigners Index On Censorship considered Van Gogh's killing to be his very own 'martyrdom operation'. Van Gogh was a 'free speech fundamentalist' - just like the guys that killed him. They were fundamentalists too.

"Cleverly he would often seek out the most extreme and ignorant opponents for his public battles, reinforcing the perception that only the extreme and ignorant opposed him.

The inevitable violence of their response was grist to his mill."

You see ? He stirred up the abstracts of "hatred" and "inevitable violence".

Theo, you should have stuck to attacking the Catholic Church, or George Bush. In the unlikely event of your being killed by a Christian, you'd have been a martyr to free speech instead of a suicidal racist. And maybe I could have written about how your attacks on Christians triggered 'inevitable violence'.

Only joking. The freedom to attack, say, American Christians as ignorant, backward morons, also carries with it the freedom to criticise Dutch muslims (I don't think either stereotype is true, but then I believe that "Men without religion, Just can't keep in a righteous man's position").

In the white liberal worldview it's alright to attack "us". Attacking "them" - well, he asked for it.

Friday, November 12, 2004

Identity Theft

In the mailbox this morn - one from Nick Cohen. Strange, I thought - haven't written to him lately. Anyway, he doesn't write back to racists. What's he after ? The truth about the "is David Aaronovitch Lynda Lee-Potter's love-child ?" rumours ?

The title's funny too. "Hi". What ? Nick Cohen ? Chris Bryant I could believe, but a Cohen missive is surely more likely to start "Re: your disgraceful piece on asylum".

Open. Well strike a light., you have been used for spamming purposes.

"Hi! I am looking for new friends.

My name is Jane, I am from Miami, FL.

See my homepage with my weblog and last webcam photos!

See you! "

I told you it sounded like Chris Bryant.

Clark County - The Final Judgement

Barry Beelzebub on the house journal of the publicly-funded classes.

(Mind, the Indie was impressive this morning - first 8 pages plus the centre devoted to Arafat.)

Arafat is gone ...

And Liberal Larry pays a well-deserved tribute.

"Yet even in the face of adversity, he reached out to his Jewish neighbors, sending emissaries deep into enemy territory to spread peace and goodwill. All to often, it was the emissaries themselves who were spread across a large area, returning home in sandwich bags and shoeboxes.

With no known cure, Spontaneous Human Explosion claims the lives of 7 out of every 9 Palestinians each year. Symptoms include profuse sweating in Jewish delis, smoke pouring from the trousers while riding the bus, and the mysterious appearance of large amounts of explosives strapped to your chest. Much like AIDS victims in our own country, sufferers of Spontaneous Human Explosion face ridicule and intolerance from their own friends and neighbors."

While Jerusalem Posts is .. shall we say a tad less generous ?

Times obituary.

Thursday, November 11, 2004

Racist Murder

Imagine a gang of young white racists driving the streets, looking for a Muslim, seeking to "chop them up and take their eyes out and stab them". They assault and abduct a terrified fifteen-year old Asian boy who was walking along the street with a friend. He is frightened and crying, saying 'I'm only fifteen. What did I do ?'

They take him to waste ground, strip him, and repeatedly stab him, severing three vital arteries. He is held down, utterly defenceless. While still alive he is doused in petrol and set ablaze. He is able to crawl a few yards before dying.

Fifteen years old.

It would hardly bear thinking about.

There would - quite rightly, in my opinion - be outrage. Television news, the Today programme, Radio 5, the national press - all would condemn this vile attack. The victim would, like Stephen Lawrence, be a household name.

But that wouldn't be all. Trevor Phillips would lambast the undeclared Brit racism which nurtures such monsters. The Refugee Council would condemn the tabloid coverage of asylum and immigration which demonises all people of colour. The Muslim Council of Britain would point out that when Blair and Bush kill innocent Muslims, and Blunkett takes them from the streets without trial, it becomes easier for disturbed Brits to justify their evil, Islamophobic acts. There would be calls for action against political parties and newspapers which incite hatred of immigrants or Muslims. Bans and censorship would be proposed.

And of course the Guardian, Indie, BBC and the equality/diversity complex would provide an endless feedback loop, producing one long howl of outrage at the ghastly crime, its disgusting perpetrators and the sick culture which produced them.

None of this has actually happened, though. Well, something did happen, but the victim was only a Native Brit.

So don't look for : blanket coverage on the Today programme, Radio 5 and TV news, op-eds in all newpapers, memorial stones, community centres or new colleges, Commissions of Enquiry, official reports, consultations with the Home Secretary, police confessions of incompetence, resignations, High Court Judges asking why the suspects escaped justice, compensation for the victims parents or changes to police and court procedures.

Unconscious and unwitting ...

BBC R4 news this morning. Apparently a lot of women with children go out to work these days.

"The Tories are coming to terms with this reality'.

As Mr Briffa would say - these guys could patronise in their sleep.

Wednesday, November 10, 2004

"Four more years of industrial death and insanity"

I've been looking forward to this one. AL Kennedy on the US election results.

Scott Burgess is also impressed.

Thanks to the Dumb One for a link to this, some of the funniest stuff I've seen on the Menace Of The Christian Right.

"If we take one of George Bush's speeches, for example," he told Diane, "and replace every mention of 'God' or 'faith' or 'family values' with phrases like 'Jesus hates fags' or 'Kill the abortionists', it paints a very different picture from what the Evangelicals want the American people to believe about their extremist agenda."

"Surely," Diane asked incredulously, "you aren't suggesting that the religious-right encourages violence against homosexuals?"

"In a recent study at Evergreen State College," Platz explained, "we sat several so-called 'christian conservative families' in a room under the pretense that there would be a free screening of Spongebob Squarepants. Instead, we presented a series of gay porno films from the late 70's. Sensors attached to the subjects registered alarming levels of discomfort. Several participants displayed an almost simian instinct to protect their young - shielding their children's eyes from the screen or even threatening the projectionist with physical harm. Apparently, the Christian concept of 'brotherly love' doesn't extend to people who practice it physically."

Diane touched her pen to her lips, her trademark sign that the guest has just said something deeply profound.

"Is there any correlation between these so-called "morals" and strange, pointy-buildings that many conservatives are seen entering on Sundays?" she asked.

Liberal Larry is as great a genius as AL Kennedy. I'm not sure I can tell the two apart.

"Four more years of war. Four more years of innocent women and children burned alive by U.S. smart bombs designed solely for that purpose. Four more years of not being able to enjoy Paris in the summertime without being showered with spittle. Four more years of unchecked environmental destruction. Four more years of the wholesale shredding of the Bill of Rights, with Asscroft peeking at my library records and innocent Americans being dragged off to Gitmo in the dead of night."

And I love this.

Tears welled in my eyes as I sat out on my balcony last night, watching the sea of headlights slowly moving north on I-5 towards Canada. Thousands of my amigos, my comrades, my brothers-in-arms had packed up their VW vans with anything they could smoke and were heading for higher ground. Artisans, actors, poets, musicians, bong craftsmen - a rag tag fleet of rebels on a lonely quest to find their homeworld.

Yesterday, I bid farewell to my best friend Travis, who was sailing to China on a raft made from empty soy milk cartons tied together with macrame'd hemp rope.

Tuesday, November 09, 2004

In Order To Save Democracy We Had To Destroy It

The Vlaams Blok, the seperatist Flemish party which seeks an independent Flanders and the repatriation of immigrants, has been declared illegal by a Belgian court.

I know little about them - they sound approximately equivalent to the BNP or the Le Pen's FN in France. But making them illegal is totally wrong.

1) The courts are disenfranchising a million or so voters. Making a political view illegal if you don't like it is not democracy. Who voted for the judges ? I'm presuming the VB don't advocate illegal acts. The Brits have put up with (not to mention subsidised) Sinn Fein, who front up for real criminals and murderers, for years. VB policies should be disputed at the ballot box, not the witness box.

2) A dreadful precedent has been set. Why should the courts under a future administration not ban a party of the left, or a religious party ?

It will be interesting to see what sort of vote the VBs replacement will get at the next Belgian elections. And whether David Blunkett is observing with interest.

PS - the BBC describe this decision as a 'blow to the far right'. Missing the point there I feel. But then they consider Belgium to be a 'Model Western European liberal democracy'.

Model as in a toy imitation of the real thing ?

UPDATE - Reaction from Terrance Coyle, Samizdata, Tim Worstall, EU Serf, Live From Brussels, Dog Of Flanders and Entre Nous (for which thanks for the link to LVB with a roundup of media reaction).
Also, via the blog fomerly known as Trust People, a thoughtful post at new blogger Militant Moderate.

"Democratic societies must give people the right to say things other people don't want to hear. It is a profoundly worrying matter that the judiciary in Belgium think otherwise."

Monday, November 08, 2004

Giant Hailstones Killed My Nomads

Where else ? Mirabilis.

Vote Now For "The Bobs"

Deutsche Welle are running a blog poll (Best of Blogs aka "the Bobs") which contains a category for "Best Journalistic Blog - English". In the manner of awards the world over, we don't actually get a free vote but can choose from 10 nominations. I'm going for samizdata myself, in the absence of Dumb Jon and Hari's Place, but take a look yourself.

Hardly anyone's voted yet, so let's show the Septics that Euroweenies can have high turnouts too. I expect message queues round the virtual block, with the last messages arriving long after the polls have closed. Will 'hanging electrons' or 'pregnant bits' cause a recount ?

I wonder if the Guardian will campaign for Tim Blair ?

That nuanced French foreign policy

Europeans are so much more civilised than the trigger-happy cowboys across the pond.

After an unprovoked attack, a civilised country should reflect on what it might have done to engender such hatred. In any eventuality, they should only take military action after prolonged negotiations have failed. Say a dozen years or more in the case of Iraq.

"On Saturday, nine French soldiers were killed and 22 wounded when Ivorian jets bombed a French base in Bouake. A French military spokesman denied suggestions that the attack - which also killed an American civilian - was an accident.

On the orders of President Jacques Chirac, two Russian-made Sukhoi 25 fighter-bombers and five combat helicopters - most of the Ivorian air force - were destroyed. Paris also sent another 600 troops to Abidjan."

It is only a measured, diplomatic response that can succeed. Anything else will provoke anti-Western hatred, the righteous anger of the dispossessed.

"One reporter watched yesterday as a crowd armed with machetes and iron bars entered a neighbourhood near the city’s main French military base, demanding to know if there were any French living there. "It’s better to kill the whites than steal their stuff," one rioter shouted.

"It’s better to burn them, like in Algeria. They burned the whites - that’s why they’re respected," another said. "

Military action should be proportionate. Every effort must be made to avoid civilian casualties.

"MUCH more" than 500 people have been wounded in clashes in Ivory Coast's largest city, and loyalist mobs are blocking efforts to tend to the injured, a Red Cross official said today.

"God knows" how many other people have been killed, Red Cross official Kim Gordon-Bates said.

On Saturday, Mr Gordon-Bates had reported 150 people injured, most from bullets. He said the toll had climbed to "over 500 wounded - much more than that" today.

An attempt at regime change would be contrary to international law.

About 50 armoured vehicles had taken up positions around Gbagbo's house in the West African country's commercial capital, Abidjan, on Monday, a presidential spokesman claimed.

"Their presence here is scaring people, they're crying and they think that President Gbagbo is going to be overthrown," spokesman Desire Tagro said.

Departure from civilised diplomacy could risk a quagmire - or worse.

Parliamentary speaker Mamadou Coulibaly called on government supporters to prepare for war. "Today’s [Sunday’s] events mark a point of change," he said. "Vietnam will be as nothing compared with what we are going to do here." President Gbagbo’s party, the Ivorian Popular Front, demanded "the immediate departure of all French troops from the Ivory Coast".


It would appear that the battle is opening - or that in the BBC's words "US forces begin battering Falluja".

From Electric Venom, a military wife posts.

In the Commissary, mothers push infants propped in the grocery cart’s seat while another child or two wanders in their wake. Maternal, yet warriors in their own right, they speak in gently nurturing voices at odds with the grim, haunted pinch of their lips. Laden with diapers, cereal bars and juice boxes, their carts are filled with their private burden of fear, the fact they wrestle with so their children won’t have to: Daddy’s not coming home, and nobody knows if – or when – he is.

Although I smile, I can’t look in their eyes as I creep past. My cart is filled with the steaks my husband wants for dinner, and my heart is filled with the comfort of knowing he’ll be home to enjoy them. It’s a strange guilt, being married to a soldier who is home while so many others are not. Sometimes, I wonder whether if he ever feels the same odd guilt, too, but I’ll never ask. I’m afraid that merely speaking of it would set in motion a chain of events that would call him away.

From Victorian Worcestershire, A.E Housman on the attraction and repulsion of the warrior.

In valleys green and still
Where lovers wander maying
They hear from over hill
A music playing.

Behind the drum and fife,
Past hawthornwood and hollow,
Through earth and out of life
The soldiers follow.

The soldier's is the trade:
In any wind or weather
He steals the heart of maid
And man together.

The lover and his lass
Beneath the hawthorn lying
Have heard the soldiers pass,
And both are sighing.

And down the distance they
With dying note and swelling
Walk the resounding way
To the still dwelling.

When Will These Idiots

Stop using trains to commit suicide ?

Sunday, November 07, 2004

More Bush Reactions ..

"A shameless stooge of arab oligarchs, a friend of Israeli fascists, a born again Christian Fundamentalist, a protectionist International Capitalist and an arms dealing moral warlord waging wars for peace across the planet ..."

The Guardian talkboards ? Very close - the BNP.

Elsewhere - Tom Wolfe enjoys liberal discomfiture, the Sunday Times has yet more analysis, and in San Francisco they burn the US flag to show support for Kerry. Oh, and 9/11 was a CIA production. (Hat-tip - Bayou Ranter).