Friday, November 28, 2008

Waz de Joos wot dun it

The piece below is a snippet from an article on the website of the Muslim Brotherhood concerning the slaughter of scores of innocent civilians by Islamist death squads in Mumbai. It provides an intriguing analysis of the massacre:
"Our worst fears have come true. It is clear that Mossad is involved in the whole affair. An entire city has been attacked by Mossad and probably units of mercenaries. It is not possible for one single organization to plan and execute such a sophisticated operation. It is clear that this operation was backed by communal forces from within the Indian State. The Home Minister Shivraj Patil should resign. The RSS-BJP-VHP-Bajrang Dal should be banned. Advani and others ought to be arrested. Today is a day of shame for all Indians and all Hindus. Muslims and secular Hindus have been proven right. RSS type forces and Israel are all involved in not only destabilizing but finishing India. India should immediately snap all relations with Israel."
Of course, the Jews. Bloody Jews. Just what will they be up to next?

On a more solemn note I have just read that the rabbi and his wife who were taken hostage at Nariman House in Mumbai are now among the (as it currently stands) 151 dead. Obviously this was all part of the Mossad plot as well. Over to you Dylan Avery.

Hat Tip: Harry’s Place

Thursday, November 27, 2008

Proper order

Continuing on with the recent BNP theme, the Alliance for Workers Liberty hits the nail on the head in regard to the senseless calls from the UAF and others for the state to ban the Nazis:
“Socialists oppose calling on the government to ban fascist organisations, because we want to shatter any illusions that the working class can rely on the capitalist state when it comes to the crunch, and educate the workers to rely only on their own strength to defeat the fascists. Even where they do cause some unpleasantness for the fascists, laws cracking down on the far right will strengthen the power of the state to act against left-wing opponents when the time comes, and in fact may be directly used against the left and labour movement (this is what happened in the 1930s with the Public Order Act, for instance). If the government did ban the BNP, we would not shed any tears or rush to their defence; but we oppose either calling for such bans or putting any trust in them.”
Nuff said.

Useless speck of human dust

I have always maintained that the fight against fascism does not have to be a black and white choice between either hanging the fuckers from meat hooks or else having a pleasant chinwag with them at the Oxford Union. No. We can do both. When it comes to combating the British National Party meat hooks are not (yet) called for. For a party that over the past week have been soiling their pants over a membership list going astray as well as complaining about the related infringements of the Human Rights and Data Protection Acts, they aren't exactly the most terrifying army of men I've ever encountered. Secondly, their arguments are piss poor. Need evidence? Click here.

Last night Lee Barnes, the national coordinator for the BNP, was a guest on BBC Radio 4's Moral Maze programme. For those of you not familiar with the show, the format is fairly simple. Prior to the show going out I tried to find out a bit more about Lee Barnes and came across one blogger who described his style of writing as "reading as if he is foaming at the mouth, rolling his eyes and gesticulating wildly." His style of speaking fits this description quite well. Indeed, I found it quite difficult to take the man seriously at all as he sounded almost identical to E20's leading reactionary, Bridge Street Café owner Ian Beale. To be fair to the Walford man, I doubt he'd ever vote for the fash and if he ever got the chance to be on the Moral Maze he would have made a better go of it than our mate Barnesey.

If this is the highest quality of speaker that the BNP can put forward to natter on a national radio show then we can sleep safely in our beds tonight. If I was pushed to come up with a reason to keep Lee Barnes off last night's show it would have been because I thought the man was an idiot who didn't belong anywhere near a Radio 4 studio. He sounded more like that annoying person you encounter in your pub every now and again, the guy that looks slightly smug and thinks he's a lot more intelligent than he really is due to the fact he read a few facts on t'internet before going out for a pint. His rampant rambling and constant interruption of the pannelists on the programme made him sound like little more than a dim bullyboy who was just ever so slightly out of his depth. Too hide a man like this from public view would be to give him the sort of subversive mystique that he does not deserve. Thanks to this show I am sure a few more people in Britain now realise that, despite the attempts to revamp their image, the BNP remain little more than idiotic bad tempered knuckledragging thugs.

No point taking my word for it though. Listen for yourself. Sadly for Lee Barnes and friends, it's a free country.

Wednesday, November 26, 2008

Good sense

"Religion is a matter which lies solely between man and his God," said Thomas. "Whatever we once were, we are no longer a Christian nation," says Barack. And this thing here says something similar. Secularism, like, so rules. End of:



Hat Tip: Will

Tuesday, November 25, 2008

Lock up the poor

Is Fianna Fail putting in some kind of end of year bid in order to snatch the title of Europe's Most Heartless Pack of Bastards 2008 from the Burlosconi administration? Following on from October's reactionary budget and their advice last week to recession-hit southerners that they should stay out of the north and voluntarily pay more for goods in the 26 counties, the Freestate government has now decided to extend the great patriotic crusade to that section of Irish society that poses a colossal threat in these uncertain times: beggars.

Coming next year: Dermot Ahern unveils plans for Connemara gulag.

Monday, November 24, 2008

Cheeky chops

Take a good look at the picture featured here. This, friends and comrades, is Andrea Riseborough, star of Channel 4's English Civil War drama The Devil's Whore. She is also sporting what Peter Hitchens puzzlingly describes as a "cheeky left wing face." I knew instantly upon reading this description of her face (for I read Hitch the Younger's column every week in the Mail on Sunday) that I had heard him use these exact words before somewhere else. Ah, yes, of course. He had used it in reference to Andrea Riseborough back in June when she played Margaret Thatcher in the BBC's The Long Walk to Finchley.

My question is really quite simple: what the fuck is a cheeky left wing face? If anyone knows please do enlighten me.

I suppose one could accuse Mr Hitchens of possessing a smug right wing face, but then that would just be silly.

Sunday, November 23, 2008

Searching high and low

Readers of Splintered Sunrise may be familiar with the Search of the Week feature in which the Splintster takes a peek at the key words used in search engines by people who have managed to stumble onto his website. Past results have included everything from cognitive dissonance and dialectics to jane hill's big boobs. Fascinating stuff I'm sure you will agree. So, as I was feeling bored on this damp old Sunday evening I decided to get my technologically inept finger out, confront my fear of Blogger's webmaster tools and try to discover how people have been arriving here at yourfriendinthenorth.

I must admit to being slightly disappointed with what I found. Where was all the smut? Fair enough, I suspect the people who carried out searches for thighwatch and cute bums were left a bit disappointed by the content, but this was all extremely mild. I was expecting tonnes of mad stuff about sadomasochism, bestiality and Liz O'Donnell to pop up (though several worrying searches for the cuddly Laura Kuenssberg did appear). Some searches just left me baffled, for example idea expansion grass is always greener on the other side, hats n stuff and dumbo part 2. I would also suggest that whoever was chasing after ali g interviews george patton orange order video finds themselves some new comedy material to be entertained by. And isn't ar dheis dé go raibh a anam an awfully morbid thing to be typing into Google?

While sexy sex may not play a big part in my top search queries Stalinism definitely is, hence the presence on the list of things like macgiolla people marxism de rossa, cpgb ml and kim jong il fashion (for the Dear Leader is indeed Pyongyang's answer to Gok Wan). The far right features quite prominently too although I'm not at all sure if the person looking for bnp family fun fest ever did find what he was looking for. I can, however, safely say for certain that the poor guy searching for fianna fail's aims definitely would have drawn a blank. The whole Madeleine McCann episode has obviously proved too much for one Googler so I sincerely hope the individual responsible for maddie where go seen have alive who take woman or man still back home has settled down and recovered the ability to form coherent sentences. On a lighter note, it's nice to see interior home of sarah palin make a well deserved appearance. I did love that bearskin rug.

But there has to be a winner and my favourite search term by quite a long way was without a doubt george orwell "anti communist" champion of trotskyism and state informer. Well, at least we know now that George Galloway has finally come to terms with how to use the internet.

OK. Enough of all this irrelevant blather. I'm off now to write a post containing the words Methody, schoolgirls and panties.

Saturday, November 22, 2008

We’re on the one road. Well, sort of.

What a difference a year makes. Twelve months ago Fianna Fail appeared to be plotting the final push to take that elusive fourth green field when the then Taoiseach Bertie Ahern made a grand announcement at the grave of Theobald Wolfe Tone that the party of de Valera would soon be extending its tentacles across that wretched frontier into the black north. A military-style ‘Northern Strategy Committee’ was ordered to be set up by the party’s Ard Comhairle to oversee the organisation of FF cumainn in the occupied six counties. Then came the credit crunch and suddenly patriotism took a back seat, or should I say a very different form.

Patriotism. Ah, yes. Where would we be without patriotism? In recent weeks patriotism has been used by the administration in Dublin to justify everything from cutbacks in overseas development aid to taking medical cards away from the over-70s. For me though the most amusing call to arms recently has been the pitiable suggestion by Brian Lenihan that southern citizens opt to spend their cash this Christmas getting ripped off in the Republic in their own state instead of taking it north of the border.

Only a couple of weeks after giving an arrogant two-fingered salute to the elderly in the south, the Minister for Finance now has the gall to ask an already cash-strapped population to voluntarily choose to pay more for their Christmas pressies and other goods rather than drive an extra few miles up the road where they can pick them up and save a couple of Euro at the same time. In a recent interview on RTE radio the Minister admitted that the “huge loss of revenue” suffered by people choosing to do their shopping in the six caused him enormous problems in cobbling together the recent budget.

I would remind you that Brian Lenihan is a member of a party that has been vociferously pro-EU over the past few decades and therefore should in reality be a staunch advocate of people having the right to move freely and purchase goods regardless of whether those goods are bought in Belfast, Berlin or Ballybay. Aside from the obvious protectionist anti-European sentiments expressed in his words, the remarks also come across as being a tad partitionist; something that is slightly surprising given the decades long ties his family has with The Republican Party. Is it not a wee bit ironic that a self-styled republican politician feels it is more patriotic for people from Dundalk to do their shopping in Dundalk rather than Newry? And can you imagine the reaction south of the border if Peter Robinson or Nigel Dodds called on northerners not to be popping across the ditch into the Fenian south to buy their goodies? I’m sure you can, though lets not get bogged down in whataboutery.

Even if the evidence is only based on my own personal observations over the past week, the signs are not good for Brian Lenihan. If the accents I have heard and the registration numbers on cars I have seen in Belfast have been anything to go by over the past couple of nights then southerners seem to be fairly content bringing their dosh north in their droves. Indeed, when I dropped in with my folks back home on Sunday I met a couple of relatives from Monaghan who had come up for the day to do a bit of early festive shopping and, not only did they buy their presents on this side of the border, but they also bought their petrol here as well (something unthinkable a few years ago when filling stations in northern border areas were about as lucrative a business venture as a stand-up comedy night featuring Margaret Ritchie). I shouldn’t be too hard on Brian. It isn’t just him making the bullshit statements. The Irish Small and Medium Enterprises Association have stated that whereas once you were asked to “die for your country now you are being asked to buy for your country.” SIPTU, the largest trade union in the Republic, has also called on “members to buy Irish” - well, “buy Irish” except for goods sold in Antrim, Armagh, Derry, Down, Fermanagh and Tyrone. At least its nice to know the Lenster (as he has never been called) has some friends.

Northmen, southmen, comrades all? Sometime perhaps. Not just yet though. For now, 26 county gombeen Freestatism is the name of the game. How very patriotic.

Friday, November 21, 2008

Thursday, November 20, 2008

All you fascists bound to lose... your membership list

The revelation yesterday that a disgruntled former member of the British National Party had put the names, addresses, telephone numbers, email details and even hobbies of all 12,000 or so people currently in that organisation on a website has caused a bit of a stir and, as is the norm when the BNP feature in a major news story, a debate has broken out on the left as to whether far right parties such as Nick Griffin’s mob deserve to be treated in the same manner as everyone else.

As I have explained elsewhere on this site, I have never been a no-platformist when it comes to dealing with fascists. Relying on the half-arsed anti-hate laws of the bourgeois state has always struck me as a slightly odd position for some revolutionary socialists to adopt. If you want a job done right you really are going to have do it yourself (the liberation of the proletariat being the task of the proletariat and all that). I am of the opinion that its much better to give the far rightists a crack at the free speech game, bring them out into the open and then savage the bastards when we have them there. Of course, we don’t always have to savage them with a kick in the balls or a fist in the face. We can use our superior arguments to compliment such expressions of our disapproval (click here for a good example of how ridiculous these people look when they finally get the airtime they demand). However, the recent membership list leak isn’t a free speech issue. Many people, including quite a few on the left, have said that this is a breach of privacy and amounts to intimidation. I say Christmas has come early.

Rather than an invasion of privacy the leaking of this list has turned out to be an act of public service. For example, we now know that the Green Party’s candidate in the Cheltenham constituency over the past two general elections, a Mr Keith Bessant, was also a fully paid up member of the BNP. We are aware too of several BNP members who are in the police, the prison service, the churches, the schools and in various other walks of life in which the desire to have all non-white Christian people in the United Kingdom (i.e. a huge portion of the population) deported from these shores would compromise the way in which they can be trusted to carry out their work. Of particular interest to me was the forty people named on the list who have their addresses in my own neck of the woods.

Two BNP members in Northern Ireland who provided their location as Palace Barracks in county Down have naturally enough been revealed to be soldiers in the Black Watch regiment of the Army (one of whom affectionately calls himself ‘hatchet’ in his email address). Another man, Sandy Baxter from Portstewart, is a former RUC officer who has since told the BBC that he is proud to be a card carrying neo-Nazi. Oddly, the BNP’s so-called Ulster Regional Organiser Kieran Dinsmore’s name only appears on the list in brackets beside the name of a man from Bangor (also called Kieran, different surname). Read into that what you may. Strangely there are three other men named as party supporters with addresses south of the border in Dublin, Galway and Sligo. Last but not least I should give a big congratulations to county Fermanagh. It appears you are the only one of the six northern counties not to have a single BNP member in your midst. Who would have thought it: Fermanagh - the citadel of anti-fascism.

So, thankfully it appears that we folks on this side of the water have nothing to worry about from the BNP. The party has never stood a candidate for election in Northern Ireland and it appears now that its main spokesperson has been using a false name over the past few years. It is also doubtful whether the organisation even has a working branch here in the province since individual members and donators seem to be scattered out all across the north. In short, these people represent more of a ‘BNP fan club’ than an actual arm of the party. Still, its nice to know where we stand.

We should rid ourselves of any sympathy that we may have for the 12,000 people named here. When you join the BNP you know exactly what you are signing up to. Joining this group is not like joining UKIP or the Tories, though Nick Griffin may like to think the recent addition of a shirt and tie to his wardrobe makes him a respectable political representative. The British National Party define themselves in their own constitution as a racist party. In this document the party state that they support maintaining the “national and ethnic character of the British people” and that they are “wholly opposed to any form of racial integration between British and non-European peoples.” They declare that their goal is to reverse “non-white immigration” and to restore “the overwhelmingly white makeup of the British population that existed in Britain prior to 1948.” In other words turn Britain into a living, breathing version of that hold advertisement for Hovis. People who want to take part in this grand crusade to save Britannia must meet a certain ethnic requirement - the paler your skin, the better. I think it best on this occasion to let the BNP constitution speak for itself. Only when you see this written out in full does the extent of their absolute lunacy become apparent:
“1)The British National Party represents the collective National, Environmental, Political, Racial, Folkish, Social, Cultural, Religious and Economic interests of the indigenous Anglo-Saxon, Celtic and Norse folk communities of Britain and those we regard as closely related and ethnically assimilated or assimilable aboriginal members of the European race also resident in Britain. Membership of the BNP is strictly defined within the terms of, and our members also self define themselves within, the legal ambit of a defined ‘racial group’ this being ‘Indigenous Caucasian’ and defined ‘ethnic groups’ emanating from that Race as specified in law in the House of Lords case of Mandla V Dowell Lee (1983) 1 ALL ER 1062, HL.

2) The indigenous British ethnic groups deriving from the class of ‘Indigenous Caucasian’ consist of members of: i) The Anglo-Saxon Folk Community; ii) The Celtic Scottish Folk Community; iii) The Scots-Northern Irish Folk Community; iv) The Celtic Welsh Folk Community; v) The Celtic Irish Folk Community; vi) The Celtic Cornish Folk Community; vii) The Anglo-Saxon-Celtic Folk Community; viii) The Celtic-Norse Folk Community; ix) The Anglo-Saxon-Norse Folk Community; x) The Anglo-Saxon-Indigenous European Folk Community; xi) Members of these ethnic groups who reside either within or outside Europe but ethnically derive from them.”
And if you have read this load of horse shit and still believe that we are dealing here with your average run-of-the-mill political party then I seriously advise you to book an appointment with your doctor.

There is also one other reason why I have no sympathy for the fascists named on this week’s leaked list. Members of the British National Party member have for a long time now been involved with other far right elements in the production of Redwatch, a website that publishes photographs and personal details of members of people from across the British Isles that they consider to be part of some multicultural liberal and left wing monolith. In the past I have met people from here in Northern Ireland who have been listed in the site’s Ulster section. Despite denials today on BBC News from Nick Griffin, senior members of the BNP are known to be involved in compiling information and photographs for this website and in fact in the past have been stupid enough to boast of this in front of TV cameras. I’m in no mood for forgiveness. BNP members have been intimidating people in this country for years. After decades of fascist threats and bullying I find it extremely satisfying to see the entire membership of the movement now finding themselves on the receiving end of their own tactics.

Even so, we should not get too worked about the threat posed by the British National Party. For all their bluster and for all our paranoia they remain a miniscule organisation with less than 1% of the national vote and still only a handful of councillors elected in certain areas of England. We are not in a Berlin 1933 scenario. However, as we head into a recession and uncertain economic times isn’t it nice to know that we have to hand a list of the type of reactionaries who would like to use that era as a model for exploiting the fears of the marginalised to achieve their own warped goals nowadays? I certainly think it is. If only a similar membership list from the National Socialist German Workers Party had been doing the rounds eighty years ago. Or maybe that would have been an invasion of the privacy of Nazis, would it?

Never again and all that.

Wednesday, November 19, 2008

Let there be light

This time three years ago Rachel Stevens graced the good citizens of Belfast with her presence and switched on the Christmas lights in the city centre (apparently due to wrangling at Stormont the DUP and Sinn Fein couldn’t agree on any local figure to perform this complex task). Like Sainsbury’s and baseball cap-wearing police officers on bicycles, her appearance was yet another sign of just how good things were for us folk in peacetime Northern Ireland. Back in the days when the Christmas season meant an escalated IRA bombing campaign we could only have dreamt that some day a former member of a manufactured teen pop group from across the Irish Sea would come to our city just as her solo career was going tits up. Yes, we had finally arrived.

However, all was not well. There was outrage afterwards when it was quickly discovered that wee Rachel had earned a cool £20,000 for the couple of minutes she spent smiling falsely at the proles out in front of City Hall. Belfast suddenly felt cheated. “Is this what we pay our rates for,” asked thousands of people pretending to be more enraged than they really were by this disgusting cash handout to some toffee-nosed London tart. Had twenty grand of our hard earned dosh been wasted on getting the second best looking member of S Club 7 to prance about on stage, provide a few hundred dads with an erection, press a button and then feck off back home on the first flight out of here? Grrrrr.

Last night Belfast’s Christmas lights were once again switched on, although I would hazard a guess that the city councillors performed something of an extensive cost cutting exercise this time around. Clearly this has been their aim over the two previous years when serial C-listers Zoe Salmon and Shayne Ward turned up to flip the switch. If you thought that was bad then nothing would have prepared you for last night. In attendance on a cold Tuesday evening in the Race Hate Capital of Europe© were Gerard McCarthy (an actor who plays a cross-dressing student in the Channel 4 teen drama Hollyoaks), Same Difference (the brother and sister duo who finished third in last year’s X-Factor competition), a couple of people who won bronze and silver medals in the Olympics (unlikely to be recognised by our burger-chomping obese kiddies) and last but not least Scooby Doo (don’t ask). All I can say is thank Christ I’m not eight years old again. Kids these days can see through shite for what it is and I am sure the cute young hoors of Belfast recognised exactly what was being offered to them by Tom Hartley and chums last night.

Watching this morning’s UTV news reports from the ceremony at City Hall I began to wonder what all the fuss was about in 2005. It was only £20,000. Get over it. Let’s face it, we squander enough cash in this city and province every year helping to facilitate and promote sectarian division through the funding of Orange Order events and Provo ‘community groups’ - and to a much costlier tune too. When you look at it that way shelling out a mere twenty grand for a few thousand kids to see Rachel Stevens sounds like a bargain. So, well done Belfast City Council. Why spend money and please lots of people when you can save some and leave everyone unhappy? My advice is spend a bit extra and get a real superstar in to turn the lights on in 2009. Someone like... John Sergeant. Oh, and empty my bin this Friday. I pay my rates too you know.

4 da ppl

Tis 145 years today since that speech at a field in Pennsylvania. This particular recording of the address was made on Ward Hill Lamon's cell phone:

Tuesday, November 18, 2008

Just shoot the bastards

“…the one organisational model that we British should still be urging the rest of the world to adopt.”

Paulie speaking his brains
October 31st 2008

I despise people who protest about the TV Licence Fee. Hate them. Absolutely loathe the self-important sanctimonious cunts. It used to be the daft fuckwits unable to come to terms with the metric system that were top of my useless-people-that-should-be-liquidated list but recent developments have led to that crowd of blundering goons getting toppled from their perch. Then again, the chances are the ‘metric martyrs’ and the ‘resistance movement’ against the Beeb are probably the same group of fuckers.

According to a piece by Dipesh Gadher in the Times the BBC is failing to prosecute Licence Fee dodgers on the basis that they fear that it will create a wave of martyrs. Some of those refusing ‘on principle’ to pay their £139.50 each year include Charles Moore (from The Spectator), Noel Edmonds (cunt) and Vladimir Bukovsky (Vice President of the right-wing Freedom Association and bizarre Ruskie supporter of UKIP). Bukovsky’s pathetic protest is by far the most irritating. Commenting on how nobody from the TV Licensing Authority has popped round recently to oppress him, Vladimir openly states that “I wanted people to see images of me being handcuffed and dragged into court.” He admits, slightly disappointedly it seems, that “no one was bothered.”

This is what really gets my blood boiling about these C-list Tories, UKIPers, BNP members, Daily Express readers and all the other usual suspects that refuse to pay their Licence Fee in the hope that they can get a few column inches devoted to their dismal and frankly unoriginal show of dissent in the local papers. They actually want to be oppressed. Now, you can call this whatever you want but it most certainly is not oppression. This is oppression. And this is oppression. And this too is oppression. But if you go out seeking to be oppressed and the state subsequently refuses or else couldn’t be arsed to oppress you then the chances are you are living in a free country and should perhaps look into moving to Cuba, Iran, North Korea or somewhere else that operates such hallmarks of authentic repression as concentration camps and public executions.

It’s a bit of an insult too to victims of the Holocaust or the genocide in Rwanda when you start borrowing from the language of their horrific experiences to describe your own objection to having to contribute a few quid to the production of Hider in the House. Pricks like Moore and Edmonds you can overlook. One is a reactionary, the other believes that he is being pursued by two orbs from the spirit world. You can also overlook the attention seeking bloggers that pretend they aren’t paying their Licence Fee. They’re gutless law abiding fuckers. Of course they’re paying the Fee. Bukovsky though grew up in Stalinist Russia. He is a tad different than a slightly eccentric bearded gameshow host and some lunatic right-wingers holed up in their bedroom designing pictures that make the C in the BBC logo look like a hammer and sickle or a crescent moon. You’d think he could spot the difference between genuine tyranny and being charged 30 pence or so per day to watch the telly. I suppose that’s what being in UKIP does to you.

There are a couple of solutions on offer. Firstly, we can grant these people their wish, abolish the Licence Fee and then see how long it takes them to moan when they realise that when the BBC is removed all they have on offer to them is mind numbing repeats of Friends and a show in which Robert Kilroy-Silk eats cockroaches. The other solution I had in mind is the one contained in the title of this post. If only. At least that would make the letters page in the Mail a bit more interesting.

Ouch!

David Cox of the Guardian.  Not likely to be on the guest list at Feile an Phobail next year.

Whenever I hear the word 'Google' I reach for my pistol

These twats are Google employees at the so-called Googleplex near San Jose. I don’t know how much these people are paid but I would rather eat my own testicles than drag myself to the other side of the world in order to work in this giant nursery-cum-office bursting at the seams with insufferable geeks using slides, playing video games on their lunch breaks and using electric scooters to get their fat Californian arses from one place to the next. And if all this hasn’t pissed you off then the company motto definitely will: Don’t Be Evil. Oh, fuck off. Don’t be evil? Hmmm.

Monday, November 17, 2008

Irish godbotherers, know your place!

"We don't necessarily want to be against religion. We want religion to know its place."

Richard Dawkins
Speech to the Conservative Humanist Association
October 2008

It appears that anything Iris can do Sean can do better.

You may have had the misfortune to come across the remarks made recently by Cardinal Sean Brady on the subject of the proposed civil partnership bill which is expected to become law in the Republic next year. Being the complete bollocks that he is, Sean is not at all happy with these plans.

He has said that he believes civil partnerships will weaken traditional marriage. He claims that if these plans become law they will "further erode marriage at a time when research and experience point to the value of marriage for children and society." Research? Experience? Oh, yes. According to a report on the Press Association website the Roman Catholic monkey Primate of All-Ireland stated that "international surveys showed children born outside of marriage are more likely to be unemployed, use drugs or get involved in crime." No, I don't know what international surveys, research or experience the Archbishop of Armagh is referring to either. Obviously though it is information that should be trusted as it is being quoted by the unmarried celibate septuagenarian head of an organisation that has spent a considerable amount of time in recent years trying to cover up the actions of its child raping employees.

Brady's comments should serve as a reminder to anyone who may have thought the contemporary church had gone soft on the big issues. Following the divorce referendum south of the border, the tidal wave of child abuse cases in the 1990s, a colossal slump in recruits to the Priesthood and widespread reports of plummeting Mass attendances, the Vatican's representatives in Ireland were no longer the formidable force they once were. As a result Catholicism on the island has in recent years come to resemble what Anglicanism represents to many of its adherents across the water - an irritating family habit rather than a strongly held belief. But as the remarks by Cavan’s favourite Archbishop have proved, no stake has been driven through the heart of the RC beast just yet.

I should make clear that I have nothing against Mr Brady and others like him expressing their opinions and lobbying their TDs. They are entitled to do so in a democracy. What I am concerned about is the extent to which he and his nasty rabble are prepared to go to prevent something that will have absolutely no affect on their own lives. Already the Catholic Church has suggested that they will try to have any such bill prevented from becoming law on the basis that it is unconstitutional. Sadly, they could be right. Article 41 of the constitution declares that the state "pledges itself to guard with special care the institution of marriage, on which the family is founded, and to protect it against attack." They could be wrong too. Article 41 is also vague. It calls on the state to safeguard the institution of marriage though it does not precisely define the exact nature of marriage (I am tempted at this point to comment on why I feel the much amended de Valeran constitution of 1937 should be scrapped and replaced with an entirely new document but that is for another day).

While many gay rights activists point to the encouraging statistic that 84% of Irish people support either gay marriage or civil partnerships I think it is important that we highlight the fact that - like abortion and divorce - this is a subject about individual liberty. Even if polls proved that 99.9% of Irish people were vehemently opposed to gay marriage and civil partnerships that would still not permit the majority to exercise a veto that would prevent two people who love one other from tying the knot. Who one fucks, marries, divorces or gives birth to is not a matter for church or state. Yet tragically, even as we near the end of this first decade of the 21st century, such a basic concept remains something that still has to be fought for.

It is time Sean Brady and his organisation, to borrow from Richard Dawkins's statement at the beginning of this piece, knew their place. I am sure that my old comrade Shirley Temple Bar would agree. Senator David Norris certainly does.

Jews 'n baseball

Hitchens the Elder takes on a Rabbi (again) in NYC. Good stuff as usual though I believe he may be wrong about the origins of the World Series. That blemish aside, its well worth a couple of hours of your time. Sure you probably aren’t doing anything else anyway other than watching I'm a Celebrity… or some similar shite:



N.B. Will Rubbish also has provided a link to yet another recent debate between the Hitch and some Papist fecker. Ta muchly.

Thursday, November 13, 2008

Smoke and Nazis

I knew there was a reason I always detested the self-righteous fuckers that head the anti-smoking lobby. Coincidentally coming just after yesterday’s post on Paul Weller’s two finger salute to the smoking ban at a gig in Essex, today’s featured article on Wikipedia takes a look at the first ever public anti-tobacco campaign in modern history. I was surprised to find that this crusade against the ciggie was initiated by none other than the government of Nazi Germany.

According to the ever reliable gospel of eternal truth that is Wikipedia, the Nazis banned smoking on public transport, promoted the anti-smoking message in health education campaigns, raised taxes on tobacco and imposed restrictions on lighting up in bars and restaurants. Sounds familiar. Either Hitler’s people were far sighted visionaries in the field of public health or they were a pack of killjoy bastards. I’ll go for the latter option if you don’t mind. Oh, by the way, guess who the Nazis blamed for the curse of smoking? Yes, that’s right, they blamed the Jews.

The bibliography for this article also highlighted a few intriguingly titled publications. These include Science in the Third Reich, Nazi Chic?: Fashioning Women in the Third Reich and The Nazi War on Cancer. The Nazis had a war on cancer? That was very decent of them. I think that book will definitely be added onto my list of must-reads. More to the point, I can’t for the life of me understand how it hasn’t been the subject of a documentary on Five. Never say never.

So what does all this mean? Well, not a lot really. Being vigorously opposed to smoking does not make you a bad person or a Nazi. It might just make you a tosser though.

Wednesday, November 12, 2008

He's the Smoker

He may not have made a decent album for well over a decade and he may these days send his children to private schools, but there is at least still one thing Paul Weller and myself can find common ground on - he isn’t up for this smoking ban lark. It has emerged that during a performance in Southend recently the Modfather spent a large part of the gig with one of the those dreaded cancer sticks hanging from his gob. The cheek of him. It could turn out to be quite an expensive few puffs as breaking this law carries a potential fine of £2,500.

I should point out that, for a number of reasons, I don’t actually smoke anymore. Firstly, my partner exerted a considerable degree of pressure on me to cease. Secondly, smoking was becoming an extremely expensive hobby for a man of my humble means. Thirdly, the ban on smoking in pubs stopped me from enjoying a ciggie in the only place I actually smoked. Nowadays the only time I get to properly enjoy a Marlboro red with my pint is when I’m on holiday. Even so, I’m not going to dress this up as an act of oppression or a denial of my civil liberties. At a time when thousands are being slaughtered in the Democratic Republic of Congo and women are being stoned to death by Islamists in Somalia for committing the 'crime' of being raped I would never seek to place the plight of people like me and Paul Weller in the fascist category. Still, I do yearn for those good old days of the smoky barroom with an ashtray on every table. Bliss.

But perhaps there is a solution. According to Paul Driscoll, the marketing guy at the venue where Weller lit up, the former Jam front man may have been acting well within the law:
“There is an exception clause which allows performing acts to smoke if necessary. It is used to allow actors in period plays to portray people smoking, like Winston Churchill with a cigar. Mr Weller felt smoking was integral to the mood of his set. He had been smoking outside before, and did not smoke in his dressing room, or during the first half of his performance. Only when he came back on did he start smoking, which he felt was essential for the songs he was performing.”
Sounds a bit tenuous if you ask me. Anyhow, it doesn’t matter how much you smoke to enhance your 'artistic integrity', Peacock Suit would still be the big load of shite it was ten years ago.

Thursday, November 06, 2008

An inconvenient guest: the other Gore meets David Dimbleby

I knew this would be on YouTube the moment I saw it. As mentioned in my last post, this is what happened when someone at the BBC thought that inviting Gore Vidal onto their US Presidential election night results show would be a good idea:

Wednesday, November 05, 2008

Seven hours that shook the world (and Laura Kuenssberg)

Attention my fellow prisoners. Forget the BBC. Ditch Fox. Dump RTE. Turn away from Sky News. They are nothing but lightweights compared to what I offer for you on this historic, landmark, momentous, extraordinary and epoch marking night. For real election night news and analysis look no further than the yourfriendinthenorth live text update diary thingamajig. Right. It’s 11.30pm on November 4th 2008. Lets watch the night unfold through the eyes of, well, me:

11:30pm: Wide awake and stocked up on Nescafe. Staying awake should be easy. Feeling a bit peckish. Not much in the fridge though. Looks like that piece of chicken I bought on Sunday will have to do.

11:50pm: Someone from the McCain camp says it isn’t over until its over. Come on, man. Ten minutes to go until the first results are in. This is Comical Ali territory.

12:10am: Here we go! McCain takes Kentucky (apt since I’m eating chicken… sort of). Far from enthralled, my girlfriend opts for an early night. I dig a trench for the evening and settle in for the long haul.

12:15am: Ohhh, I say. In what is undoubtedly going to be the defining moment of the night, the BBC’s Laura Kuenssberg is looking remarkably well in a smart little red number.

12:30am: Mmmm. That chicken was wild tasty. Settle down to watch the Beeb. Christopher Hitchens is on the panel. Strangely there’s also an interview with Ricky Gervais though I cannot for the life of me explain why. You know what this is? Its yet more evidence of the dumbing down of the BBC and its left wing agenda. Tut tut.

1.00am: Just found Laura Kuenssberg’s Facebook page (while Googling her name to find out more about her journalistic background obviously). By the way, you can’t be charged with stalking someone on Facebook, can you?

1.25am: Justin Webb says that Obama is projected to win Pennsylvania. I get the feeling that McCain might be getting a wee bit pissed off at this stage.

2.00am: First yawn of the night. This is not good. Not to worry, I’m not tired yet. Honest.

2.20am: States beginning to fall in Obama’s favour. This is looking good for the Democrats. Popeye is in for a hiding.

2.30am: Where is Laura Kuenssberg?

2.40am: A rapid trio of yawns. Coffee time methinks.

2.55am: I’ve seen Obama. I’ve seen McCain. I’ve seen Palin. Just where is poor Joe Biden? Does nobody care about him? Don’t bother answering that.

3.10am: Tiredness is getting worse… yaaaaawwwwn.

3.15am: Tiredness is really bad… must stay awake… oh, there’s Simon Schama on the BBC… zzzzzz… nearly fell asleep there, OK, must be careful… 207 electoral votes for Obama… will I hang around for 270?… I’ll go to bed… no, I’ll sleep on the couch… actually I’ll go out for a walk and have a smoke… hang on, I don’t smoke any more - damn, at least I could have a ciggie during the 2004 election… ohh, must stay awake somehow… John Bolton is a cunt and keeps hassling David Dimbleby… grrrr, punch him David… mmmmm, coffee… good, John Bolton has left the studio… who is this? David Frum - oh, fuck this for a carry on…

3.25am: Must’ve dozed off for a few minutes. Waken up to see Eddie Izzard on TV giving his views on the night’s events. More coffee needed.

3.30am: Where is Laura Kuenssberg?

3.55am: Obama to be declared the winner in a few minutes… this is, like, a historic moment and all blah, blah, blah, blah, zzzzzzzzz.

4.00am: Obama takes California and Washington. It’s all over as a contest. Congratulations Senator President Obama.

4.01am: Only sixty seconds has elapsed and suddenly the world feels completely different. Tis wonderful. He has truly freed us.

4.02am: Where is Laura Kuenssberg?

4.15am: Holy shit - the BBC have sent Karen Allen out to Obama’s father’s village in Kenya to provide live coverage of the celebrations there. Somewhere now a Daily Mail journalist is rapidly penning an article about this extraordinary waste of Licence Fee payers cash.

4.20am: McCain starts a speech where he concedes defeat. Gracious in defeat as ever, his supporters boo Obama when he mentions his name.

4.22am: Googled Laura Kuenssberg again in a non-perverted way and found this eloquent piece written by someone going by the name of Wrinkled Weasel on Iain Dale’s Diary: “Laura Kuenssberg. I just want to roll around with her in the hay and then have an intelligent chat about politics. Bliss. And then, I would ask her to tie me up and pelt me with deep fried pizzas.” Interesting.

4.25am: Did I hear boos when McCain mentioned Sarah Palin? Poor Sarah. If I was her I’d get back to Alaska ASAP and gun down some moose. She’ll feel much better after that.

4.30am: Judging by the look her in eye I get the feeling that Cindy is going to ditch John. I’m going to go down to the bookies tomorrow and stick a tenner on McCain being single by Christmas.

4.40am: This reminds me a bit of watching Labour’s victory in the 1997 British general election. No Portillo moment though. Yet.

4.50am: Gore Vidal makes an appearance for a chat with Dimbleby. The interview is cut short after a few minutes as Vidal begins to ramble away in a bizarre fashion. He claims he doesn’t know who Dimbleby is. I can assure you without any doubt whatsoever that this is going to be on YouTube. Surreal, mad and just a little bit embarrassing.

4.52am: Kenya declares a national holiday. Oh, come on Gordon. Be a sport. We all need a rest.

4.53am: Laura Kuenssberg is back. Woo hoo!

4.57am: Laura Kuenssberg’s piece from New York is terminated early to accommodate a minor victory speech by the new President of the United States of America. I open a packet of Tangy Cheese Doritos and a can of Coca-Cola Zero to try and stifle the disappointment.

5.01am: McCain’s name gets a small yet courteous cheer from the Obama crowd. Republican Party supporters take note.

5.11am: Obama promises to buy his children a new puppy. This man’s charm has no end.

5.13am: I decide that one bottle of beer won’t do any harm and toast the new President. And the new puppy. And the increasingly wonderful Laura Kuenssberg of course.

5.16am: Obama’s grand speech ends with Joe Biden appearing to prove that he still exists.

5.28am: Where is Laura Kuenssberg?

5.33am: The electoral college vote currently stands at 338 to 155. Florida doesn’t really matter this time but, just for good measure, it looks as if Obama is going to take it anyway.

5.45am: Dimbleby and co are quite obviously running the clock down at this stage. There’s only so many times you can describe a moment as historic.

5.48am: After nearly an hour the producers at the Beeb decide to go back to Laura Kuenssberg. She chats with a couple of female bloggers, neither matching her unrivalled foxiness. Anyhow, according to the conservative woman discussion has already erupted on the subject of who the Republican candidate should be for 2010. Sarah Palin is mentioned. Evidently some people have learnt absolutely nothing.

5.57am: Dimbleby thanks us for watching and bids us farewell. Highlight of the night? Easy. Obvious really: Laura Kuenssberg.

6.23am: Flordia goes to Obama. Revenge for 2000! That’s probably the closest we’re going to get to Portillo moment. Go the toilet to consider my strategy (i.e. should I retire to the bedroom).

6.36am: Indiana, Montana, Missouri and North Carolina are yet to return their results, but what’s the point? Watch the early morning local news with the radiant Michelle Napier who asks - with a straight face - what the election of Barack Obama means for America’s “relations with Northern Ireland.” Yes, Michelle, that’ll be the first thing Barack thinks of when he wakes up tomorrow. And speaking of waking up I’m going to perform the opposite action now. I’m off to bed. Congratulations Democrats. Commiserations Republicans. Good night Laura Kuenssberg.

Sunday, November 02, 2008

When resistance really is futile

When I visited Bilbao a couple of years ago I came across the story of Miguel de Unamuno, a Basque poet, novelist and philosopher. For many years a lecturer at the University of Salamanca, de Unamuno was once heckled at that very institution by the fascist Jose Millan Astray who yelled the slogan “death to the intelligentsia” at the elderly academic. It appears that there are still some on the Iberian Peninsula who stand by the slogan.

Last Thursday ETA car bombed the University of Navarra. Twenty-seven people were wounded. Amazingly this is the sixth time that ETA has targeted the institution. For an organisation whose origins lie in the struggle against the regime of General Franco it is disappointing to see just how they have assumed some of the traits of their old foes. Over the past decade, as support for their campaign has dwindled, the organisation has chosen more absurd targets. The first absurd target that springs to mind for me is the sordid 1997 attack on Bilbao’s impressive Guggenheim Museum which claimed the life of one person. Another was the group’s decision in 2000 to target journalists, starting with the murder of Jose Luis Lopez de la Calle in May of that year. Businessmen who do not meet the organisation’s demands for cash (laughably called a ‘revolutionary tax’) can also expect a bullet in the head or a bomb under the car parked outside their home. At one stage even French Basque footballer Bixente Lizarazu was the target of an extortion bid.

The Provisional IRA used to have a fairly loose definition of what constituted a legitimate target but I do not believe it ever extended to the targeting of universities, their staff and the students that attend them. How depressing it is to read that in 21st century Spain some lecturers are forced to teach their students while armed bodyguards keep watch in the same room. It becomes slightly more depressing when you take into account that there does not appear to be any prospect of things changing any time soon.

That there is no future for ETA is blatantly clear. What is not clear is what alternatives they have open to them. This is one peace process where the Northern Ireland model is not really applicable. The Basques already have a considerable degree of autonomy within Spain so the offer of a Stormont-style assembly is redundant. The local police, the Ertzaintza, also has the support of the majority of citizens in the region so there doesn’t appear to be any need for a Basque equivalent of the Patten Report. Finally, and most crucially, ETA do not at this moment in time have the option of pursuing a political path like their comrades the Provisional Irish republican movement decided to follow in the nineties. They did at one stage have Batasuna but that was banned by Jose Maria Aznar’s government in 2003.

I have always felt that the PP administration made a fatal flaw in outlawing Batasuna. This is not to blame the Spanish government for the current situation but simply to point out that it was a retrograde step that made a lasting peace much more difficult to achieve. It did nothing except shut a door and take away ETA’s best option for an exit strategy. Today, the terrorist group is trapped in a catch-22 situation where they find themselves fighting a pointless unwinnable war against the Spanish state but at the same time not having any alternative that could see them leave the battlefield respectably. Though most Irish republicans would be loathe to admit it, the British government accommodated them so that their ceasefire and subsequent decommissioning of weapons did not resemble a surrender. Madrid does not seem to be so keen on such a plan for dealing with their own rebels yet unless it wants to be locked in a perpetual state of war with violent Basque nationalism it is eventually going to have to follow the example of the British or at least something vaguely like it. That may take some time.

For now ETA has no way out. As their support has shrunk their futile campaign of violence has grown more irrational and increasingly indiscriminate. The only thing we can say for certain is that the disgraceful bombing of the University of Navarra last week will not the last be the last stomach-churning action carried out by the organisation. It appears that the old slogan of “long live death” will be the slogan that best sums up ETA’s view of the future. Miguel de Unamuno would not be impressed.

Touching cloth

Fucking hell.  That was close.

Nice but dim

“People this stupid shouldn’t be allowed to live.”

George Costanza
'The Phone Message'
Seinfeld

At least if John McCain does win on Tuesday we can be guaranteed one thing: four years of side-splitting entertainment from Sarah Palin. I shan’t dwell on this too long. Having a laugh at the expense of the Alaskan Governor requires about as much imagination as cracking a joke about the current President’s Intelligence Quotient. Nevertheless, after the latest balls up over a prank played by two Canadian radio DJs I’m really beginning to wonder just how fucking thick this girl is. McCain must know now that his choice for VP was a poor one. I could have suggested a much better candidate. Whether they would have listened to me is another matter altogether.