Archive | May, 2006

Basra no longer a “success”

31 May

So, democratically elected Prime Minster of Iraq, Nuri al-Maliki, has declared a state of emergency in the city of Basra (which is overseen by British Troops), amid mounting violence between rival militias. Yet our own PM, Tony Blair, is moving 10% of the forces based in Basra, to Afghanistan, to support the British operations there.

Now this violence has been steadily increasing for months, so how can we, the British, possibly argue that we will stay until the job is done, if, just when violence boils over, we ship out some of our troops? Unless of course, we’re only staying in Iraq because we have some gentleman’s agreement with Washington, and to leave now, would shaft an increasingly weak president.

Is our Prime Minister allowing British servicemen to die, because of a personal commitment he has made to a foreign leader?

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Gore ’08? Don’t bet on it

31 May

Well, I read the Al Gore interview in today’s Guardian, where he refers to Dubya as a ‘rightwing extremist’, and I have to say, I don’t think he’s going to run for president again in ’08.

Why should he? Everyone knows he was a reluctant politician, thrust into the limelight by incredibly pushy parents, and we know he’s not short of green, thanks to his links with Apple (he’s a director) and Google (special-advisor). So why should this relaxed, chilled-out, “recovering politician,” want to get stuck into the face-off of a presidential bid? He’s not a catholic, so why should he put himself through a year of self-flagellation?

The US presidential elections are no joke, you’re talking about the most powerful job in the world, and yet the campaigning is an exercise in sophistry and bullshit. The ills of the world are addressed in 30-second sound bites, the media trashes the personal lives of the candidates, and their ‘political advisors’ furiously iron out any just ideological positions they still cling to. What you get is a bleached-white version of the scumbag opportunistic liar who served you last time, or as we say in Nottinghamshire, “mutton dressed as lamb.”

Al Gore has real credibility. He took the nonsense of the 2000 election on the chin, to the immense irk of many Democrats, who claimed he was weak, but, in acquiescing to the Supreme Courts decision, he didn’t descend into counterproductive sulking and bitching. Rather he retained a sense of dignity, and got on with his life, while the ‘winner’, George W. Bush, went about bringing down America from the inside. I wonder how many Americans wish they hadn’t wasted their votes on Ralph Nader, or, been sold on the “compassionate conservatism” baloney of the Bush-Cheney ticket?

And who, other than ‘death wish’ Hillary, would want to take the White House reigns right now? The US is embroiled in a war it can’t win, the federal finances are a shambles, the infrastructure is crumbling, and the concept of Pax Americana is a joke. Gore clearly doesn’t need the headache, and can probably do more to raise awareness on climate change, as a travelling salesman, than he ever could as another President crippled by a myopic Congress.

Enjoy yourself Al, don’t even think about ’08.

Heavens above

31 May

Perfect storm

Check out these pictures, over on Backing Winds blog.

Go away Mardy Bum

30 May

When I first started taking the net seriously, a couple of years ago, I joined a couple of Political Forums. I was pretty wet around the ears back then, an idealistic liberal, I walked into a few sucker punches, and it must be said, ruffled a few feathers myself, but it was always enjoyable.

Things all started to get a little strained around the time of the London Bombings, back in July of last year. People were angry, reactionary, and in the case of the right-wingers, emboldened. Those whose agenda was served by the attacks, jumped on the incident, and exploited it for legitimacy. A politically disparate, but friendly group, was fractured, and the comradeship was never repaired. A few heated exchanges ensued, and I resigned from the group in a fit of pique.

Over the past year I have returned to the group, and left again, several times, usually because tempers had flared, or, because I had just had enough. But I feel this experience has taught me a valuable lesson. Taking offence is a complete waste of time.

There is simply no point in debating politics if you’re at all touchy. You will get offended, upset, and will probably flounce off in a huff. And what will be the result of your strop? You will leave the floor open for your opponent – you will have lost. My dad always refers to insults and tirades as, “water off a ducks back,” and he is, as is usual, absolutely right. To take offence is a futile expression of hubristic insecurity. And I’d argue, liberals are the biggest hypocrites.

It’s true. Liberals are always demanding freedom. They want religious freedom, political free speech, and limitless liberty to communicate expressions of sexuality. All of which are commendable, but it’s rather surprising, that so many of these liberals, are also those who get offended when people express their god-given right to hold prejudices. Because a man’s right to practice his own brand of bigotry, as long as he doesn’t physically harm anyone, is just as fundamental as political or cultural freedom. And why do they want personal prejudice suppressed? Because, they say, such opinions will ‘offend’ minority groups.

Have you ever heard such poppycock?

Free speech, is free speech, is free speech. I completely, and unreservedly, defend the right for a moron, to hold and propagate his moronic views. Your ‘right’, not to be offended, does not concern me. I couldn’t care less. And equally, you can offend me in any way you please – and if I get offended? Tough shit hombre, I’ll just have to exercise my right to flounce off in a huff.

Free Speech includes the freedom to hold and communicate unpalatable views. The orthodoxy of political correctness, enforced so vehemently by the state, is an affront to the enlightened Whigish foundations of liberalism, and we, the liberals, have lost sight of these roots.

Hastings gets hot and heavy over Dave

30 May

In a twelve hundred-word love letter to David Cameron, Max Hastings contextualises the impact of the uppity Tory Leader, since he took over the party reigns from the shadowy Michael Howard.

Like a rabbit, caught in electric-blue headlights, Hastings professes his unending admiration for Cameron, and all but proposes to the Eton-educated member of the Nottinghill Set, as he waxes lyrical about his virtues.

The Guardians Comment is Free:

[…]

If I sound somewhat starstruck, so I am. Two years ago I doubted that a politician as inexperienced as Cameron could gain the Tory leadership, and I did not believe that a clutch of old Etonians would ever again prove acceptable to the British electorate as its rulers. Today my respect for Cameron is almost unbounded. As Michael Heseltine says: “He has transformed the face of British politics.”

[…]

…it now seems overwhelmingly likely that Cameron will sooner or later become prime minister. Sure, he was born at the right time. But he is also working his passage with dazzling style.

Go clean yourself up Max.

You snooze, you lose

29 May

Snooze

Just enjoying an extra day off, it’s the May Bank Holiday here in ol’ Blighty.

I suppose, I gotta get stuck into my novel this afternoon…

Gore begs that you listen

29 May

Al Bore

Tonight, at 7pm BST, President Al Gore will be delivering a live Webcast on the Guardian Website, here. Gore is at the Guardian Hay literary festival, where he is promoting his film about climate change.

I would watch Al, I promise I would, but I’m washing my hair.