Filed under Politicking

Rule of thumb

If you follow a link to a blog you haven’t heard of before, and the top post begins with:

There’s an important post from Melanie Phillips

it’s fair to assume that the rest of the blog is crazyarsedloonery and best avoided. Christian Hate? is no exception: it hates the charity Christian Aid because Christian Aid sometimes has a go at Israel without adding “but the Palestinians kill Israeli babies for fun” to each criticism it makes. This makes Christian Aid objectively antisemitic, obviously.

The linked Mel piece is, admittedly, one of her best – she has a full-on mentalist rant at pretty much all British Christians for sometimes having a go at Israel without adding “but the Palestinians kill Israeli babies for fun” to each criticism they make. This makes all British Christians objectively antisemitic, obviously.

It must be true, because *I* think it’s obvious

If you were trying to identify a person unlikely to be a cunt, then probably the phrase “formerly Chief of Staff to David Cameron” would encourage you to look elsewhere. Reading Alex Deane’s work would tend to confirm your original prejudices.

According to Mr Deane:

[the death of Alexander Litvinenko] has also prompted some of the worst, most irritating dinner party chat I’ve ever been subjected to – and I say that after normally being the lone pro-Bush, pro-Iraq war voice at the table for the last three years.

So, he starts off with the admission that he normally spoils dinner parties by being a stupid, bloodthirsty cunt. He goes on to outline the various, more plausible and less plausible theories about what happened in the case, and concludes that:

It’s like the moon landing conspiracy – no matter how stupid, its proponents keep obstinately at it, until you’re at the dinner table bleeding from the eyeballs, wanting to run out into the streets, screaming the obvious and absolute truth – “The Russians did it! The Russians did it! The Russians did it!”

Either Mr Deane has access to some top-secret government files confirming what the fuck happened, or he’s an absolute dickhead. There are any number of plausible non-the-Russians-doing-it explanations that might be true and don’t include anything outrageously implausible (most obviously, the murder being done by a corrupt oligarch to make the Russians look bad and encourage Britain to not extradite him).
If I had to guess at this stage, I’d say that it seems most probably that the Russians did do it. But it’s not a case like the moon landings, where the evidence in favour is so overwhelming that only a drooling dope-addled clown could possibly doubt that they happened. Rather, it’s a case where we’re conducting a detailed investigation to find out what happened…

As it happens, I’ve managed to find a quote from Alex Deane’s great-great-great-great-great-grandfather, writing in 1692:

No matter how stupid, the trials’ opponents keep obstinately at it, until you’re at the dinner table bleeding from the eyeballs, wanting to run out into the streets, screaming the obvious and absolute truth – “They’re witches! All of them! And anyone who disagrees is a witch too!”.

On complicated Saudi business

If you don’t read Alex Harrowell, you’re a fool:

The TYR research staff recently did a simulation of Saudi Arabia
stopping oil exports, and we gave up at the point where the king was
lynched by a screaming mob.

Abolish the Post Office; viva the EU!

The Royal Mail is a complete waste of space, time and money. It operates a poor service at an extortionate price, protected from competition by competent people like DHL and FedEx by a legal monopoly.

Why do we tolerate this situation? Apparently, because of our fetish for post offices. Which is weird, because post offices are entirely unnecessary. Benefits can be paid by electronic transfer and stamps purchased from newsagents – the only reason for anyone sane to go to a post office now is because they need to send a parcel that’s not quite big or valuable enough to send by courier.

Now, if you’re an economic illiterate and a socialist (not necessarily the same thing), you’ll probably start bleating about the rural poor. Fair enough, it sucks to be poor, especially if you live in the theme park for rich retirees and richer commuters that is the English countryside. But poor ruralites need transport too – and we don’t deal with that need by running a taxi monopoly that charges the same price for all taxi journeys irrespective of length.

In other words, if we’re worried about the rural poor, we shouldn’t let that concern stop us from breaking the postal monopoly – rather, we should have a free market in mail and, separately, give subsidies to rural households that need them. This has the added advantage of not providing a pointless subsidy to wealthy ruralites.

It’s the same issue as with means-tested benefits versus basic state pensions: why the hell should someone with a £15,000 a year tax-free private pension and a paid-off mortgage on a comedically expensive house that they bought for fuck all get an additional £3,150 from my wages just for being old? If you apply broad-brush subsidy regimes like the Post Office and like the state pension, most of the impact will be to increase inefficiency, and very little will go to help the genuinely needy.

One of the best things about the EU is that it’s seriously opposed to state aid for industry and forces governments to not provide it, even when to do so would be popular. So the fact that it has told the government to reduce the pointless subsidy is excellent news. Weirdly, libertarian Europhobes like the Devil have abandoned their normal principles of hating government waste to eulogize the Post Office and slate the EU; I hope this is just a cynical political move rather than a sign of genuine economic idiocy.

Update: the EU hasn’t actually told the government to reduce the pointless subsidy. It’s an amazing and rare case of Labour doing something good and unpopular without external prompting…

Why the fuck have we regressed to the level of six-year-olds?

When a child complains excessively about some injustice, a good parent’s response will generally include the maxim that “life isn’t fair”. Because it isn’t: through the sheer workings of bad luck, bad things happen to people who don’t deserve them.

And even if the relevant bad thing could have been averted if someone else had acted differently, this doesn’t move the relevant act from being a horrible accident to the second person being morally responsible for the bad thing.

Unfortunately, although anyone with an age and/or IQ over ten is aware of these maxims, The Authorities increasingly aren’t. One obvious recent example is the utterly appalling decision to impose prison sentences for causing death by careless driving. This does not mean getting blind drunk and then driving at 150mph, or even driving while eating a sandwich. It means driving like most drivers do most of the time, but being unlucky enough to have been caught up in a fatal accident that would not have happened if you’d driven better than most drivers do most of the time.

Another is the sad-but-really-really-fucking-obviously-accidental death of Vietnamese student Vu Quang Hoang Tu. Some teenage boys were messing around on a Tube platform, chasing each other around; one fell over as a train entered the station; the boy fell into Mr Tu (or possibly Mr Vu – sorry, I can’t remember which way round Vietnamese names go); both went under the train. Mr Tu died; the boy survived with serious injuries.

In saner times, this would have been viewed as a tragic accident (and possibly as the basis for a gory Public Information Film). Since we live in a society with no concept of bad luck, the boys are currently out on police bail on suspicion of murder. For fuck’s sake…

The Italians should apologise for enslaving Britain

…except the Scots, obviously. Quality piece. You could have a slogan, too: “give England back to the Welsh”.

In praise of Oliver Kamm

I don’t like Oliver Kamm very much. I think he’s a smug bore, that he’s approximately 10% as clever as he believes himself to be, and that he promotes a particularly noxious variety of Decent-ism.

However, even allowing for the proposition that Oliver Kamm is a cunt, then Neil Clark is a grotesque Frankenstein-esque creation sewn together from the rotting, diseased organs of dead AIDS-ridden prostitutes. He’s a fan of the late, lamented Slobodan Milosovic, and indeed of Greater Serbia in general, which would tend to raise alarm bells but doesn’t make him inherently evil.

No, Mr Clark is inherently evil because he tried to sue Oliver Kamm for libel, after Mr Kamm suggested that one of Mr Clark’s book reviews was so badly written and point-missing that it was debatable whether he’d even read the book. Rather than, say, calling Mr Kamm a cunt, he started to fire off writs, bringing the first reported UK libel action against a blogger.

This would not have been a good precedent for free speech. Luckily, being rich, well-connected and stubborn, Mr Kamm was able to hire and brief sufficiently competent lawyers that Mr Clark was scared enough to drop the case and flee, hopefully deterring others from following suit. I also approve of Mr Kamm’s conjecture that “I consider it wrong in principle and self-defeating … to threaten legal action against a blogger”.

In blog-libel-related news, it has now been established in the High Court that NuLab party hack and tedious blogger Phil Dilks did not kick a teenage girl in the arse for mocking him on the campaign trail. The case has also definitively established that Mr Dilks is a litigious scumbag, as with anyone else ever to have brought a libel case rather than merely telling their critics to fuck off – but presumably he feels it’s better to be a proven litigious scumbag than a wrongly accused girl-kicker. And he’s certainly not as bad as Neil Clark.

Conspiratorial

Dsquared has an interesting point on the Litvinenko affair: the conventionally accepted wisdom about the plot, in almost all other contexts, would look like a Crazy Conspiracy Theory and therefore be rejected.

This is true-ish, although I think the Russian connection makes the perception a little different – the public ‘know’ that Russia assassinates people helter-skelter, whereas the public ‘know’ that our elected leaders would never do such a thing. Equally, Ajay in the comments mentions a powerful reason why – unlike most conspiracy theories – this one could be quite easy to maintain the cover-up:

It’s worth pointing out that, personally, if I were involved in a plot whose object was the long and painful death of someone who snitched about plots, I myself would be highly motivated not to snitch about that particular plot, for very obvious reasons.

Fundamentally morally unsane

According to James Lewis at the American Thinker, the reason that civilised people don’t think Saddam should be executed is because we lurve him and think that genocide is way groovy. “Every mass-murdering ideology in the last two centuries had its origins and supporters in Europe”, he adds. Top quality insaniac rant.