But we’re not fucking AT war

It saddens me to read comments from reasonable, sensible people* saying “we know that Bush is terrible according to any measure, and we’d much rather have a president who wasn’t in league with the religious nutjobs, but we’re fighting for survival so we need to support him”.

If there were a WWII-style war of survival on, then this would be an unfortunate but necessary piece of logic. But under no sane criteria are we at, close to, or even in a position where we need to contemplate such a war. To put it simply, if you are an American, the next president’s abortion policy will have a greater impact on your life than his war policy.

Let’s not fall for George Bush’s self-aggrandising deceptions. The relevant part of the ‘war on terror’ is a policing operation to stop a few thousand terrorists from killing a few thousand more westerners – a worthwhile goal, but hardly the only (or even the key) thing worth worrying about.

Liberal democracy is under little or no threat – and if you want to protect it, it’s far more important to worry about religious fundamentalists gaining political power (in the USA, India, Europe or Iraq) than to worry about them blowing shit up.

* For some reason, anchor hyperlinks on blogs never seem to work for me. If the same is true for you, I mean Craig Bryant’s comment at 10:44pm.

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And not a moment too soon

The Pleasure Boat Captains For Truth claim that as his former buddies in action, they’d like to correct popular misconceptions about George W Bush’s past record.

I assume that this will attract enormous amounts of publicity, and that even when it transpires that none of them ever met George Bush and that all their claims are blatant lies, the media will continue to give them enormous publicity. I mean, we all know that TV and the papers are biased to the left…

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In defence of Jimmy Carter

Unlike most politicians, Jimmy Carter wasn’t a lying, cheating, gung-ho arrogant arsehole. Rather, he was an honourable man who ran America well for four years, restored legitimacy to a horribly tainted political system – and was defeated by an external disaster coupled with a dirty, unscrupulous Republican campaign.

During his time in power, he cut the deficit, created eight million jobs, secured the national energy supply to avoid another 1973-style oil crisis. In foreign policy, he ended the state of war between Egypt and Israel, established full diplomatic relations with China, and signed the first serious arms limitation treaty with the Russians. All these highly positive aspects of his foreign policy were followed by the Reagan government (which generally gets the praise for them), although that administration did scrap his human-rights-based stance of not supporting murderous bastards in Latin America.

It’s true that Mr Carter didn’t deal very well with the emergence of militant Islam. It’s also true that he did (at worst) no worse than the five presidents who followed him, right up until September 11. It’s also undoubtedly true that the Iranians conspired to fuck Mr Carter over personally by their stage-management of the hostage crisis. It’s not yet clear whether the Iranians were in league with the Republican campaign team during summer-autumn 1980 (google ‘October surprise’) – although the contact between these two groups later on in Mr Reagan’s presidency suggests that it wouldn’t be absurd to believe they were.

Next time you see a lazy right-wing idiot who uses ‘Jimmy Carter’ as a shorthand for ‘president who failed because he wasn’t a tough, shootin’ and huntin’ good ole boy’, you should make these points. Then punch them in the head.

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Quick and dirty

The judge said the term “joyriding” was totally inappropriate in this case. A more appropriate term was “playing Russian roulette with the lives of the innocent” (from the BBC)

I’m not convinced the judge is right: his phrase sounds infinitely cooler than ‘joyriding’. Maybe something like ‘mindlessly topping some poor fucker in a doomed attempt to pretend you’re some kind of exciting person and not a useless chav waste of space’ would be better.

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The Economist/YouGov polls are the most detailed and interesting polls I’ve seen covering the US presidential race (it will be interesting to see whether YouGov’s strong prediction record in the UK holds true Stateside). The latest one (PDF) shows John Kerry leading George Bush 47% to 44%, despite the Swift Boar Liars’ best efforts – but it’s down from a seven point lead last week.

Somewhat strangely, Mr Kerry’s rating has only fallen by one point, while Mr Bush has gained three points. I can’t think of anything worthwhile he’s done in the last week to warrant this; then again, I can’t think of anything worthwhile he’s done in the last 50 years, so perhaps a reason isn’t necessary.

Amusing minor detail: 1% of people who say they’re Republicans say they’ll vote for Ralph Nader; less than 0.5% of people who say they’re Democrats will do the same. Hopefully the Republican activists who are lobbying to get Mr Nader on the ballot in swing states will be royally hoist by their own petards…

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Pathetic Fallaci

A half-crazed Italian writer called Oriana Fallaci hates the Muslims (“Terrorists, thieves, rapists. Ex-convicts, prostitutes, beggars. Drug-dealers, contagiously ill”). This is unsurprising: a lot of half-crazed people hate the Muslims. Also unsurprisingly, she’s left Italy to move to the US, where hating the Muslims is more-or-less a national sport.

Her favourite meme – one which has been picked up by a great many half-crazed right-wingers – is the one about Muslim immigrants being a gigantic fifth column who are planning to turn the West into a Sharia state run for their own devious ends.

I live in a Muslim area; if Ms Fallaci is right then I’m extremely envious of my neighbours’ energy . I barely manage to combine work and a social life; they manage to work hard, raise families, do a lot of community/charity work, *and* plot for world domination. Where do they find the time? Maybe it’s the non-drinking…

It’s ironic that most of the people who believe this kind of conspiracy bollocks are fanatically pro-Israeli, to the extent that they view criticism of Israel as antisemitic. Because if you look at it dispassionately, it sounds like a much older and much more discredited meme about a different poor, immigrant ethnic group plotting to take over the world.

Indeed, Ms Fallaci has a Protocols of the Elders of Zion-esque quote to support her argument. She says, “in 1974, former Algerian President Houari Boumedienne said in a speech at the U.N.: “One day millions of men will leave the southern hemisphere to go to the northern hemisphere. And they will not go there as friends. Because they will go there to conquer it. And they will conquer it with their sons. The wombs of our women will give us victory.”

Mysteriously, this quote has never been reported in the news (no hits on Factiva or Lexis-Nexis, whether in English or in French), it appears on the Internet only sourced to Ms Fallaci on weblogs, and it is not in the UN’s archive. I guess this *could* mean that the liberal dhimmi conspiracy has surpressed coverage of the Muslims’ true plans… however, Occam’s razor would have another explanation, based on Ms Fallaci making shit up.

Islam isn’t very sensible, being a religion, and it goes without saying that Muslim terrorists are nasty fuckers who should be locked up for a very long time. But if forced to choose, I’d rather be on the side of the minority group with silly-ish views, than on the side of lying pogromists. How long before we have rumours about Muslims killing Christian babies to mix their blood with pitta bread?

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The UK’s Department of Work and Pensions has disciplined 227 of its employees and sacked 16 for browsing porn during office hours. Liberal Democrat spokesman Steve Webb thinks this is too lenient: he says the civil servants involved are “assisting filth and paedophiles”.

Indeed, one of the relevant civil servants has been convicted for possessing child pornography; another two are under police investigation for the same charge. But while these three may well be paedophiles and have clearly been assisting the filth in their enquiries, it seems a bit much to tar the other 224 with the same brush.

Yes, the main point of this post was to make a rubbish ‘filth’ pun. But more seriously, I thought the Lib Dems were supposed to be in favour of pornography and teenage sex? If that’s actually just a lie spread by conservatives, who am I going to vote for next time round…?

Hmm. I’m not so good at being serious. Having another go, the Lib Dems are surely actually supposed to be in favour of worker’s rights and people’s rights in general. The DWP people who downloaded illegal porn have been sacked and are now off to jail; on what possible liberal grounds can Mr Webb claim that the ones who downloaded legal porn should lose their jobs?

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Not an original thought

If you believe it’s reasonable to fight a war, which is expensive in life and money, on the off-chance that the person you’re fighting might eventually otherwise have done horrible things to you – how can you avoid applying the same thinking to cutting energy consumption on the off-chance that horrible climate change nastyness might happen?

The evidence for man-made global warming isn’t yet conclusive, but it’s at least as convincing than the evidence for Saddam Hussein posing an imminent threat. And driving a Mini instead of an SUV seems like a smaller sacrifice to make than mass slaughter and carnage…

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You were wrong, Cabinet Sanchez

Sorry, Richard Herring – Stephen Frank’s Spamusment made me laugh out loud more than you. Silly cartoons based on spam subject lines; what more could you possible want? Well, related t-shirts, obviously.

(the picture links to the site…)

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Stark differences

If you’re a middle-class American voter, you should probably be aware that your president has just imposed the largest middle-class pay cut in history, by slashing semi-skilled employees and junior managers’ right to paid overtime. Yup, that’s the same president whose tax cuts also imposed the largest pay rise in history for the extremely rich…

Tony Blair can be distasteful, but I think people on the British centre and left sometimes forget the genuine improvements in social equality and poverty reduction that have been made since 1997 (the number of people sleeping on the streets of London is down to double figures, just as a random example). Albeit quietly, Labour is working – it’s pulling off the balancing act between market-led economic growth and egalitarian intervention with greater success than any British government in the last 50 years. Meanwhile, the Bush administration leadership is turning the USA into a banana republic.

Clearly, if you want to preserve a capitalist democracy, you should put the socialists in charge…

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