Thursday, November 18, 2010

Is Jim DeMint fiscally conservative when it comes to fighting neverending wars and bailing out his vampire bats buddies in Wall Street?

Or does he just hate it when the poorest and the unemployed to have food on the table while having sex and not being married?

The American version of "libertarianism" is an aberration, though—nobody really takes it seriously. I mean, everybody knows that a society that worked by American libertarian principles would self-destruct in three seconds. The only reason people pretend to take it seriously is because you can use it as a weapon. Like, when somebody comes out in favor of a tax, you can say: "No, I'm a libertarian, I'm against that tax"—but of course, I'm still in favor of the government building roads, and having schools, and killing Libyans, and all that sort of stuff.

Tuesday, November 16, 2010

Sunday, February 28, 2010

Janet Woollacott (1982: 108-110) offers a useful critique of Policing the Crisis, a key work by Stuart Hall et al.(1978). The work reflects an analysis of the signifying practices of the mass media from the perspective of Marxist culturalist theory inflected through Gramsci's theory of hegemony, and 'an Althusserian conception of the media as an ideological state apparatus largely concerned with the reproduction of dominant ideologies', claiming relative autonomy for the mass media (Woollacott 1982: 110). For Hall et al. the mass media do tend to reproduce interpretations which serve the interests of the ruling class, but they are also 'a field of ideological struggle'. The media signification system is seen as relatively autonomous. 'The news' performs a crucial role in defining events, although this is seen as secondary to the primary definers: accredited sources in government and other institutions. The media also serve 'to reinforce a consensual viewpoint by using public idioms and by claiming to voice public opinion' (Woollacott 1982: 109).

Thursday, February 25, 2010

If John Terry was Italian, far from stepping down as the national team captain, he'd be running for president of the country.

Tuesday, February 23, 2010

I would add the bookshops to Orwell's list (by implication he is already referring to the strange unaccountable court of judgement which decides if a book gets a good or bad review or - worst of all - no review at all). Even if it is well-reviewed, a book's success and influence depend greatly on how and where bookshops display it in the crucial weeks when it is in the public eye. The difference in the influence of the book that's piled in heaps on the table at the entrance, and the book which you have to ask for, or which is concealed on a back shelf in a basement, is colossal. Yet nobody ever classifies this often completely unfair treatment as censorship or bias. It is odd how so few people are conscious of being manipulated by bookshops, whereas I think most people are aware of the way in which supermarkets try to manipulate them. And so the huge responsibility of deciding whose book gets prominent display goes unexamined. Often it's a matter of money. But I think most bookshop staffs are left-wing, in that boring default way which afflicts most graduates, and they let their prejudices govern their display.

Thursday, February 18, 2010

Since 9/11, the scale of the threat that we face has increased significantly – this means that there can be no guarantees. The figure of 2,000 terrorist targets that the Head of MI5 referred to publicly in his speech is not scaremongering. It is a frightening figure that some have suggested cannot be right. We would suggest that there are a great deal more people out there who pose a threat to the UK, beyond those known to MI5.

2,000 potential threats

Adult Muslim population of the UK is 1,2million.

1.2million/2000 = 600

So 1/600 Muslims in the UK is a terorist. (at the very least)

On a given Friday afternoon in White Chapel there are statistically at least 5potential terrorists roaming the streets.

Wednesday, February 17, 2010

Many problems remain: a region of dictators that has no experience with democracy; a lack of infrastructure, resources and training for an independent press; government control and oversight; a lack of competition; an obsession with "consensus" issues, such as Palestinian rights, at the expense of local news; and repressive laws, censorship and self-censorship.

Tuesday, February 16, 2010

‘This country is hurtling towards massive debt and ever higher taxes under Gordon Brown. It is hurtling towards a position in the world that is dramatically more minor than the position that Mrs Thatcher presided over and Tony Blair was happy to exploit.

‘Britain will be diminished, its voice silenced, its credibility shredded.

‘It will be too late to come back in five years’ time.’

I don't see that this is necessarily so, nor do I see any reason why, if it is so, a Cameron government would prevent it. The main damage done by New Labour was done in its early years, the mass immigration, the hand-over of powers to Brussels, the smashing up of the House of Lords, the politicisation of the civil service, the rundown of the armed forces, the huge increases in public sector employment, the theft of pension funds, the sexual revolution, the law banning new grammar schools, the assault on the top universities and the independent schools, the Iraq and Afghan Wars, the surrender to terrorist gangsterism in Ireland, the break-up of the United Kingdom, and the general assault on civil liberties - the things the Tories failed to oppose, let alone halt, and in many cases accepted. Just because most political journalists aren't interested in these things, and don't understand their importance, the rest of us don't need to buy their dim-witted, outdated version of events.

Monday, February 15, 2010

States must never make civilians the object of attack and consequently never use weapons that are incapable of distinguishing between civilian and military targets. . . States do not have unlimited freedom of choice of means in the weapons they use.


The terrorist attacks on the World Trade Center (if not the Pentagon) on September 11, 2001 pose the legal dilemma of how to respond proportionally when the initial attack was itself unreasonable, excessive, and against civilians. Nonetheless, the suggested policy of holding entire nations accountable for the acts of a few would not appear to be lawful since collective punishment would, by definition, entail the unnecessary suffering of innocent populations.

B. Welling Hall
Professor of Politics and International Studies
Earlham College
International law issues could arise if and when the United States or any of its allies takes countermeasures against a country suspected of harboring the persons responsible for the terrorist acts of September 11. The issues would be particularly acute if the countermeasures are in the form of armed action. Armed reprisals are highly questionable under the United Nations Charter (a treaty to which the United States is a party) because of its strong emphasis on peaceful resolution of disputes. Nevertheless, article 51 of the U.N. Charter recognizes "the inherent right of individual or collective self-defense if an armed attack occurs against a Member of the United Nations, until the Security Council has taken measures necessary to maintain international peace and security." Thus, if the coordinated use of force to hijack and use large airliners loaded with fuel to attack the World Trade Center and the Pentagon can be classified as an armed attack against the United States, and if it is necessary to take countermeasures involving the use of armed force in order to prevent further attacks, the United States arguably could use force under article 51 until such time as the Security Council can act to maintain international peace and security.

The North Atlantic Treaty (NATO) parties, by invoking article 5 of that Treaty, have expressed their understanding that an armed attack against the United States occurred. Article 5 requires the NATO parties to assist the attacked country in the exercise of the right of individual or collective self-defense under article 51 of the UN Charter, but it does not specify the action to be taken. It does say that the action could involve the use of armed force.

If the party responsible for the attacks on the World Trade Center and the Pentagon is not the government of the country from which the terrorists operate, a question could arise whether use of armed force that causes injury to that country is lawful. The UN Charter was not drafted with such situations in mind. An argument can be made, however, that the principle of article 51 could extend to such a case if the government is knowingly harboring the

Sunday, February 14, 2010

Press TV and the other propaganda organs of the Iranian and jihadi causes will not be balancing tales of Mohamed's torture with glowing descriptions of how kind Britain was to allow the Ethiopian to live here, even though he had lost his claim to be a refugee. If you want to be an accountant, you must take Evans's concern seriously, and put the effect that decisions in human rights cases have on boosting the enemy's morale in wartime into a profit-and-loss register.
Although I am sure that Britain is a happier country than Saudi Arabia and that a sensible person would rather live in France than Cuba, the case for basing societies on liberties is not a utilitarian one. Listen to the current debate on rights, however, and you will find that virtually everyone involved pretends that we can enjoy them without paying a price; that a cost-benefit analysis will always show gain without pain.


Fiat justitia ruat caelum – "let justice come though the heavens fall" – but many will tolerate justice only if it leaves the heavens undisturbed. According to the Mohamed judgment, a man's right to obtain evidence that he has been tortured depends on whether the judges think that it may harm the intelligence services. If the Court of Appeal has got it wrong, and it seems to have got it very wrong, then the policy could change.
As for the even more ludicrous Macpherson Report of 1999, its airy accusation of ‘institutional racism’ against the police was all that was left when it could find no actual evidence of any racially biased conduct.

No doubt the police bungled the investigation of the murder of Stephen Lawrence. They bungle a lot of investigations. But was this because of racial bias? If so, how come they successfully prosecuted three other racially motivated homicides in the same part of London in the same period?

Tuesday, February 09, 2010

As always (and as was famously said by the excellent American journalist Michael Kinsley) the surprise is not about what's illegal. The surprise is about what is legal. That is to say, that things most people would regard as wrong, greedy and despicable are officially permitted, and still remain so despite months of scandal.

Sunday, February 07, 2010

The revolutionary force of Dadaism lay in the fact that it put the authenticity of art to the test.
The Dadaists made still-lifes out of tickets, spools, cigarette butts that were integrated into painted elements. Then
they showed it to the public: see, the picture-frame explodes time, the tiniest real fragment of everyday life says more
than painting. Just as the bloody fingerprint of a murderer on the page of a book says more than the text. Many
aspects of this revolutionary attitude have made their way into photomontage. You only need to think of the work of
John Heartfield, whose technique made book jackets into a political instrument. But now follow the path of
photography further. What do you see? It becomes more and more subtle, more and more modern, and the result is
that it can no longer photograph a run-down apartment house or a pile of manure without transfiguring it. Not to
speak of the fact that it would be impossible to say anything about a dam or a cable factory except this: the world is
beautiful. The World is Beautiful—that is the title of a famous book of photographs by Renger-Patsch, in which we see
the photography of the ‘new objectivity’ at its height. It has even succeeded in making misery itself an object of
pleasure, by treating it stylishly and with technical perfection. For the ‘new objectivity’, it is the economic function of
photography to bring to the masses elements which they could not previously enjoy—spring, movie stars, foreign
countries—by reworking them according to the current fashion; it is the political function of photography to renew
the world as it actually is from within, in other words, according to the current fashion.
In our literature,’ a leftist author writes, ‘oppositions which mutually enriched each other in earlier, happier times,
have become insoluble antinomies. Thus science and belles lettres, criticism and production, culture and politics have
fallen away from each other, without maintaining any relationship or order. The showplace of this literary confusion
is the newspaper. Its content is “material” which refuses any form of organization other than that imposed by the
reader’s impatience. This impatience is not only that of the politician who expects a piece of news, or of a speculator
who awaits a tip: behind them hovers the impatience of whoever feels himself excluded, whoever thinks he has a
right to express his own interests himself. For a long time, the fact that nothing binds the reader to his paper as much
as this avid impatience for fresh nourishment every day, has been used by editors, who are always starting new
columns open to his questions, opinions, protestations. So the indiscriminate assimilation of facts goes hand in hand
with the similar indiscriminate assimilation of readers, who see themselves instantly raised to the level of co-workers.
But this phenomenon hides a dialectical moment: the fall of literature in the bourgeois press reveals the formula for
its resuscitation in the Soviet Russian press, because the realm of literature gains in width what it loses in depth. In
the Soviet press, the difference between author and public, maintained artificially by the bourgeois press, is
beginning to disappear. The reader is indeed always ready to become a writer, that is to say, someone who describes
or even who prescribes. As an expert—even if not a professional, but only a job-occupant—he gains entrance to
authorship. Labour itself speaks out for writing it out in words constitutes part of the knowledge necessary to
becoming an author. Literary competence is no longer based on specialized training in academic schools, but on
technical and commercial training in trade schools and thus becomes common property. In a word, it is the
literarization of the relationships of life which overcomes otherwise insoluble antinomies and it is the showplace of
the unrestrained degradation of the word—that is, the newspaper—which prepares its salvation.’ [4]
Alistair Campbell is actually right that the media aren't interested in the getting to the 'truth' but simply setting their own agenda.

They seem to be reacting belatedly to a tide of critical public opinion when it is far too late to have any impact on anything.

Back in 2003 as US tanks first rolled into Baghdad:
In a jaw-dropping display, the BBC's political editor, Andrew Marr, described how Blair's critics "aren't going to thank him - because they're only human - for being right when they've been wrong". He continued: "It would be entirely ungracious, even for his critics, not to acknowledge that tonight he stands as a larger man and a stronger Prime Minister as a result."

"Marr is poor on foreign affairs as such, and he really has no clue about the Middle East or about how wrong all this could well go for Blair and Britain, not to mention Iraq and the Arabs, in the coming months, on many levels."
Manuel Zelaya: “Those who want to put me on trial are my adversaries. They are not judges. Those who have not wanted to start a legal process, lift one finger against murderers, criminals, those who torture Hondurans and who continue torturing them and myself, who was attacked at a diplomatic venue, they can’t judge anybody.”
The bourgeois writer of popular stories does not acknowledge this alternative. So you show him that even
without admitting it, he works in the interests of a particular class. An advanced type of writer acknowledges this
alternative. His decision is determined on the basis of the class struggle when he places himself on the side of the
proletariat. But then his autonomy is done for. He directs his energies toward what is useful for the proletariat in the
class struggle. We say that he espouses a tendency

Thursday, February 04, 2010

Harriet Harperson - equality tsar

Where are all these gay people queuing up to join the catholic church? Surely this equality bill will be about as consequential to the church as the BNP changing their membership constitution.
Killing somebody or procuring their death is a very serious matter and to say that it doesn't require the full protection of the law - I'm afraid we're going to become a brutalised society.

Wednesday, February 03, 2010

Latte-sipping liberals – it's time to grind some beansAs tea party patriots drag the GOP to extremes, the left has replaced its revolutionary zeal with decaffeinated compromise.
Richard Madeley as chief apologist for Blair has invited us to consider where we would be now, in 2010, if we hadn't committed to invading Iraq. Well for a start a million people would probably still be here who otherwise had their lives snuffed out.

Monday, February 01, 2010

Because the inhabitants, as producers and as consumers, are drawn into the centre in search of work and pleasure, all the living units crystallise into well-organised complexes. The striking unity of microcosm and macrocosm presents men with a model of their culture: the false identity of the general and the particular.

Sunday, January 31, 2010

I wonder why Togo get their team bus attacked and get banned from the next two ACNs, yet Egyptians attack Algeria's team bus and are allowed to win the competition?
The Supreme Court had criticised the growth of "anonymity orders" granted by courts in recent years, which had become an "ingrained habit" among court officials without "the slightest justification".

Wednesday, January 27, 2010

No such proof is available for the existence of ADHD, which is an assertion based upon a set of changing and subjective 'symptoms'. In fact, 'ADHD' must be one of the very few complaints whose symptoms are mainly felt not by the alleged patient but by those who live with or teach him.

Monday, January 25, 2010

The sense of representing popular interests and values has survived, but is often overridden by either (a) right-wing criticism of this, as in demagogy, which has moved from 'leading the people to 'crude and simplifying agitation, or (b) left-wing criticism of rightist and fascist movements which exploit 'popular prejudices, or of leftist movements which subordinate socialist ideas to popular (populist) assumptions and habits.

Sunday, January 24, 2010

In his unfinished Ideas on the Philosophy of the History of Mankind (1784--9 1) he wrote of Cultur: 'nothing is more indeterminate than this word, and nothing more deceptive than its application to all nations and periods. He attacked the assumption of the universal histories that 'civilization or culture -- the historical self-development of humanity -- was what we would now call a unilinear process, leading to the high and dominant point of C18 European culture. Indeed he attacked what be called European subjugation and domination of the four quarters of the globe, and wrote:

Men of all the quarters of the globe, who have perished over the ages, you have not lived solely to manure the earth with your ashes, so that at the end of time your posterity should be made happy by European culture. The very thought of a superior European culture is a blatant insult to the majesty of Nature.

Saturday, January 23, 2010

There is a general assumption that Israel at some point stole its territory from a legitimate Arab state. Many of Israel’s critics seem to believe that there was at one stage a sovereign country called “Palestine” out of which the Jewish nation was unfairly carved. But no such country ever existed; Palestine was never the name of anything but a Roman province. The only previous title—for so many centuries that it had no real rival claimant—had belonged to the Ottoman Empire. From the Ottomans it passed directly to the British. When Britain, bankrupt and demoralized, scuttled from the region in 1948, Israel grabbed as much as it could of this dubious legacy. Arab armies in turn seized as much as they could.

Thursday, January 21, 2010

Even though there will be an increase in orphaned children in Haiti, social workers say it's already a crisis all over the world.

There are 6,000 children waiting to be adopted in Alabama alone.

"That's true for every state in the U.S., as well as every country, if not even greater in other countries and it's just a great thing that everyone is blessed by who participates in it," said
Claims of a million earthquake orphans are clearly false and those making them are being irresponsible.

Memories it seems are short in the media. Already we have stories of 200,000 dead with a million earthquake orphans. I have even seen a UK tabloid claim "2 million earthquake orphans" (do people on the highstreet buy the paper with the higher number?). Okay, schools were out when the earthquake struck, okay offices were at work and breadwinners were killed, perhaps disproportionately.

Perhaps the figure might be 5% or even 10% of the total death toll. But whoever (and the media is quoting "aid agencies" without attribution) is claiming a million orphans is not doing the children of Haiti and their needs any favours. They may get more short term sympathy and money from these claims but the reality is that providing a loving home to every child orphaned by a major earthquake is within our reach. And credibility will be dented as before when all becomes clear. The less accurate and more exaggerated the figures, the more risk of rapid removal of children, who may still have parents searching for them, from their country, their culture and their family.

Wednesday, January 20, 2010

I'm sure if I was buried under a collapsed orphanage it would give me much comfort to know that pub crawls in camden were being organised to raise money and make liberal middle class twenty-somethings feel slightly less guilty about getting hammered midweek.
"I read that 3,000 soldiers are arriving, Marines armed as if they were going to war. There is not a shortage of guns there, my God. Doctors, medicine, fuel, field hospitals, that's what the United States should send," Chavez said on his weekly television show. "They are occupying Haiti undercover."

Saturday, January 09, 2010

All mankind are alike.”[62] Love, he professed, was the dominant factor in human existence—“Had violence, i.e., hate, ruled us, we should have become extinct long ago”[63]—whereas the apparent omnipresence of violence is an optical illusion— “History is really a record of every interruption of the even working of the force of love or of the soul.”[64] Just as “families and even clans” manage to resolve conflicts nonviolently due to the binding powers of love, so can “humankind” which is “one big family.”

Monday, January 04, 2010

Christianity as the most excessively thorough elaboration of a moralistic theme which humanity up to this point has had available to listen to. To tell the truth, there is nothing which stands in greater opposition to the purely aesthetic interpretation and justification of the world, as it is taught in this book, than Christian doctrine, which is and wishes to be merely moralistic and which, with its absolute standards, beginning, for example, with its truthfulness of God, relegates art, every art, to the realm of lies—in other words, which denies art, condemns it, and passes sentence on it. Behind such a way of thinking and evaluating, which must be hostile to art, so long as it is in any way genuine, I always perceived also something hostile to life, the wrathful, vengeful aversion to life itself; for all life rests on appearance, art, illusion, optics, the need for perspective and for error. Christianity was from the start essentially and thoroughly life’s disgust and weariness with life, which only dressed itself up with, only hid itself in, only decorated itself with the belief in an “other” or “better” life.

Sunday, January 03, 2010

China saw our bankruptcy as its chance. For decades, it has resented the fact that Britain – having dealt with an independent Tibet in the days of Empire – insisted that Tibet’s position was special and different from the rest of China. This infuriated the Chinese leadership, who like to pretend that Tibet has always been part of their empire.

We do not know exactly what happened, but a few weeks after the IMF approach, the Foreign Secretary, David Miliband, slipped an announcement on to the Foreign Office website that Britain had finally – after 60 years of refusing to do so – recognised Tibet as ‘part of the People’s Republic of China’. This is a total and unmitigated diplomatic defeat, and a warning of worse to come as we learn to toady to the new superpower.
Fake bravado over drug-smugglers should not hide the speed with which we are ceasing to be a serious or important country.
If you don’t want to be executed in the People’s Republic, my advice is not to carry suitcases given to you by strangers through Chinese customs.

Friday, January 01, 2010

Egypt, which was among the first Arab countries to apply for a domain names with Arabic letters, is ranked by Global Voices as one of the most repressive countries for bloggers.
So here's the situation. There is no deal. The world's leaders refused to agree to limit our emissions of warming gases. The most they could agree was to officially "note" the scientific evidence about C – with no roadmap to keep us this side of it. You get a sense of how valuable this "noting" is when you look at the things the conference also "noted": the hard work of the airport security staff, and the quality of the catering in the Bella Centre. It seems impossible, but our leaders really did give the stability of our climate the same status as their praise for Danish sandwiches.