Wednesday, August 31, 2005


A Vote for Clarke is a Vote for Cancer

Ken Clarke is 'unfit for public office'

Ken Clarke has announced today that he is to run (yet again) for the leadership of the Conservative Party.

I have little to add to George Monbiot's excellent summary of how the reasonable voter should respond to this. Ken Clarke is 'unfit for public office'. Quite right. ASH concur.

Ken might respond that attributing 100million deaths to his actions in supporting British American Tobacco (BAT) in their continuing mission to spread cancer, heart disease, disability, bereavement and death to the poorer people of the earth is a an exaggeration. He should be asked to make his own estimate.

'Selling tobacco is a legal activity', Ken might say (I believe he has done). So what? Lying is legal. People nevertheless consider that it relevant to an individual's suitability for office.

More cogently, opium was 'legal' (in the eyes of the British) when Britain foisted it on the people of East Asia via smuggling which it condoned.

Two interesting comparisons emerge. Firstly, Ken is involved, not only in 'selling a legal product', but in attempting to influence its status in law (e.g., through opposing tobacco ad bans).

Secondly, again in stark similarity to the crimes of Empire, loveable cuddly Ken also stops listening to bebop* occasionally to work for a company that seems to have deliberately condoned smuggling as a way around the attempts of nation-states to protect their citizens from an addictive fatal drug.

(Documents related to this are on the ASH site (link above). Apologies that I can't link directly to them. Here's one of the smoking-gun quotes: "I am advised by Souza Cruz that the BAT Industries Chairman has endorsed the approach that the Brazilian Operating Group increase its share of the Argentinean market via DNP [Duty not paid].” BAT's reponse was brilliant. They said it was a 'selective' comment. By which it appears they meant 'relevant'.)

*Yeah man! Blow man blow! The bizarre association between Ken Cancer and bebop has to be one of the most astoundingly successful propaganda victories in history. It's as though posterity talked of 'Idi Amin - noted pugilist'; 'Adolf Hitler - Art fan' and 'Leopold II - Architectural Patron'. (Oh. Hang on. In Belgium, they do - see document RHS). Note to future Goebbels: go easy on the instinctive love of animals and rapport with cheery kids. Just plonk your international mass murderer in front of a 'Bird' poster and blow, man! blow!

Wednesday, August 24, 2005


Hitchens v Galloway: Debate Scheduled

"I hope they both lose" (Hislop on the Al Fayed v Hamilton Libel Trial)

I think we can all agree that this match-up is a marvellous thing. If only because someone might get described as a "drink-sodden ex-Trotskyist popinjay".

Of the two, Hitchens is of course to be preferred, as he is a thorough-going secularist and honorary associate of the NSS.

But he is also a propagator of the lie that it is 'lefties' and 'multiculturalists' who have somehow caused the rise of theocratic fascism, whilst it is in fact neo-con imperialism which has caused genuine grievances and rightwing/ conservative elements who have rubbed shoulders with the mullahs in their criticism of 'western decadence'.

Hitchens also claims that opponents of Bush's voluntary war are somehow supporters of the suicide bombers, through ignorance or malice. Whereas critics of the war from all sides - conservative, left or within the intelligence service estimated (correctly) that it would make us less safe.

Galloway is a sectarian. He may be right that the UK should not have joined the US in its attack on Iraq, but pointing this out is not the limit of his activities. He's also hijacking the consensus against the war and combining it with the perception of wider international injustices to create an overtly sectarian constituency. He said:

"..the progressive movement around the world and the Muslims have the same enemies. Their enemies are the Zionist occupation, American occupation, British occupation of poor countries mainly Muslim countries."

When he says 'Muslims' he means adherents of political Islam; i.e., the political view that the disposition of the law should be influenced by Sharia. He can't mean 'Muslims' in the sense of 'people born into cultures where Islam was a dominant politico-religious influence', because otherwise he wouldn't be such a enthusiast for Baathism, which slaughtered so many of them:

"(Saddam Hussein is).. likely to have been the leader in history who came closest to creating a truly Iraqi national identity, and he developed Iraq and the living, health, social and education standards of his own people."

And of course:

"Sir: I salute your courage, your strength, your indefatigability. And I want you to know that we are with you, hatta al-nasr, hatta al-nasr, hatta al-Quds [until victory, until victory, until Jerusalem]."

I understand that Uday was also indefatigable.

Friday, August 19, 2005


Lefties, Liberals, "Multiculturalism", and Polly Toynbee

It annoys me greatly when the Right claim that the current problems with religious fundamentalism (meaning, specifically, Islamist Fascism) is in part or wholly the fault of 'liberals' with their collaborative 'multi-culturalism'.

It is plainly counter-factual. The left have always been more secular: Look at the Spanish Civil War. After the Rushdie affair, support for the 'offended' Muslims & vitriol for Rushdie came from the right - Norman Tebbit and the Catholic Church, for example. It is likewise the right who support blasphemy laws which ensure we do not have clear moral high-ground in comparison with Islamic-Fascist states.

I don't know of a more proto-typical example of the leftwing (or 'liberal' if you're from the US) intellectual than Polly Toynbee. If you want evidence that the 'multiculturalist' accusation is a slur, then look what she has to say:

"All the state can do is hold on to secular values. It can encourage the moderate but it must not appease religion. The constitutional absurdity of an established church once seemed an irrelevance, but now it obliges similar privileges to all other faiths. There is still time - it may take a nonreligious leader - to stop this madness and separate the state and its schools from all religion."

Pretty clear-cut secularism and no collaboration with Islamic Fascism, I think you'll agree. With the added bonus, which conservatives tend not to have, of representing a permanent point of view equally applicable to all religions, rather than a panicky reaction to a temporary scare.

But hang on. Polly also says:

"Meanwhile the far left, forever thrilled by the whiff of cordite, has bizarrely decided to fellow-travel with primitive Islamic extremism as the best available anti-Americanism around. (Never mind their new friends' views on women, gays and democracy.)"

Let's get that straight: Polly Toynbee is referring to someone other than herself as 'the far left'.

Who can she mean? Ken Livingstone? Perhaps: his deference to primitivist, fascist Islamists has been a horrid betrayal (see my report on his abject defeat in his argument with Tatchell). But if she means Ken Livingstone she should say Ken Livingstone, not parrot the canard that this is a particular problem of lefty liberals.

Far more right-wing commentators unite with religious fascists over issues like homosexuality and the women's equality. Recently six Tory MPs (yes, that's 'MPs', not 'misquoted academics') wrote an article agreeing with the general Islamist criticism of decaying morals.

Tory MP John Hayes (that's 'MP', not 'boozy blogger') made all this very clear in his article 'Muslims are Right About Britain'. (Curtis Bowman has the quotes.. registration required for access to the Spectator).

Hayes says "Many moderate Muslims believe that much of Britain is decadent. They are right. They despair of the metropolitan mix of gay rights and lager louts. And they despair of the liberal establishment's unwillingness to face the facts and fight the battle for manners and morals."

(That's right, they despair of gay rights. I mean, that's got to really get them down.)

So Polly - who are the real 'fellow travellers'?

Thursday, August 18, 2005


Lawyer Set to Challenge Vatican's Status as a 'State'

Reported in the Guardian, via the National Secular Society:

It is hard to imagine how such an issue could even be raised in the UK, unfortunately. As I've mentioned before, we send an ambassador. Why should the Vatican, some buildings in Rome which are the headquarters of an international financial and political organisation implicated in a worldwide paedophile conspiracy, take any advantage from being a 'state' in 2005 because the fascist dictator Mussolini granted it this status?

It is an important advance that the question is being raised.

Wednesday, August 10, 2005


Laugh With Ratzinger

BodyandSoul help us see the funny side of the Vatican.

The chap who's replaced Ratznazi as head of the inquisition, William Levada, once argued in court that the Church couldn't be asked to pay the upkeep of a priest's lovechild because the woman should have used protection.

I don't know what to say about that. Just read it again.

Monday, August 08, 2005


Bang On! Christopher Hitchens on Catholic Judges

Hitch covers a wide array of secularist issues in this superb article in Slate.

We must always remember that the Vatican, and thus the Catholic Church, is not a religion in the normal sense. It is an international political organisation that styles itself and acts as an independent state. The spooks and holy ghosts neither add nor detract anything from these facts.

What is scandalous is that 'foreign nations', including the UK, actively collude in the elision of these bizarre multiple roles, leading to public misunderstanding.

Note, for example, that the UK Government recently advertised an ambassadorship to the Vatican. Hitch untangles the knots, and raises the fascinating question of extraditions from this rogue 'state'.

Well done Hitch - great when he's on your side, and vital reading when he's not. Check out what he says about Scalia: 'Government.. ..derives its authority from God'.

UPDATE 16/8/5: via LegalTheoryBlog - an article by Garvey & Barrett on Catholic judges and recusal in cases of conscience has recently been made available.. "we need to know whether judges are legally disqualified from hearing cases that their consciences would let them decide." Right.

Wednesday, August 03, 2005


Yes, Ann Coulter Really is Nuts

In this post, she fails to distinguish (morally and legally) consensual and non-consensual sex.

"In the interests of helping my country, I have devised a compact set of torture guidelines for Guantanamo.

It's not torture if:

The same acts performed on a live stage have been favorably reviewed by Frank Rich of the New York Times;

Andrew Sullivan has ever solicited it from total strangers on the Internet;.."

Which presumably means she thinks.. oh boy. Who cares.


Critique of the Free Market

A nice summary from Josh Marshall;

writes our correspondent Damncommieape:

"You can't make a solid argument that wages in other countries have found their natural level if one of the major 'inputs' is organized political violence to keep wages low and labor activism inert..

"..if people who try to form labor unions are murdered then that whole theory falls apart..

"..we're dealing with more than invisible hands."

For example, when we consider China's 'competitive' capitalism, we shouldn't forget the extra-economic boot on humanity's face, as symbolised recently by the images from the Shengyou land riots.

Monday, August 01, 2005


Another Wife-Killer Who Isn't A Murderer!

Suprisingly common when you keep your eyes open..

Michael Morton killed his estranged wife & her body has never been found. He's not a murderer, however. The word we use for a case like this, when killing a woman is something less than murder, apparently because of the man's residual ownership rights over her, is 'manslaughter'. In other countries it might be called 'honour killing'.

It seems Morton had been violent to her in the past. Under the Ape's law (discussed previously), 'manslaughter' would have been unavailable to him.

Incidentally, let's wait for Morton's sentence and compare it with that of Lee Kilty, sentenced today. Kilty raped strangers and attempted to kill them. He got four life sentences. He didn't kill anyone, despite his efforts. It is possible to speculate that death would have been more certain if he had had the sophistication to despose of the victim's bodies.

UPDATE: Morton's sentence is in. Seven years. The judge talked about the aggravating factors, such as never admitting his guilt. Seriously aggravating, but not enough to make his crime equivalent to raping a stranger. How many women stop to read the smallprint of their marriage contracts before they sign? The clause that says "The status of crimes committed against you will be automatically downgraded" probably needs looking at.

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