Guest post from Melanie Phillips

Brave Dash Riprock rightly slates BBC spy drama Spooks for daring to have a plot centering on extremist right-wing Israeli groups. This is a scandal, and proves that the BBC should be abolished and its directors horsewhipped.

Extremist right-wing Israeli terrorists don’t exist, and certainly wouldn’t, for example, shoot their own Prime Minister. The concept that a bunch of right-wing maniacs would aim to destroy the peace process through political assassination is almost as ridiculous as the concept that the state of Israel would itself engage in political assassination. To suggest either is the kind of blood libel that could only be spread in dhimmified Eurabia.

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Missing the point

Pro-Milosevic hack Neil Clarke has written an article in the Guardian claiming that Hungary, the Czech Republic and Poland are barely better off now than it was in 1989.

Assorted right wing pundits have waded in to debunk the article.

The problem is that – although I strongly suspect Mr Clarke is talking out of his arse – none of them succeed. Scott Burgess raises Mr Clarke’s dodgy past but doesn’t address the article; while Tim Worstall and L’Ombre de l’Olivier just talk anecdotally about how appallingly bad Russia and Romania were under the Communists.

This doesn’t work. Russia and Romania are fucked; they were fucked in 1900, they were fucked in 1990, and they’re fucked now. Only someone brave, foolhardy or both would even bother trying to compare standards of living in Russia 15 years ago to now. In both cases, they’re low.

However, largely because they had the benefit of 200 years of Western civilisation before turning Communist, Hungary, East Germany, Poland and Czechoslovakia were always way ahead of the rest of the region. Stories about how knackered the Russian economy was in 1988 – however true they are – don’t have any bearing on the civilised bits of Eastern Europe.

A more helpful argument, which I don’t have the time to make, would focus on *actual* unemployment and GDP rates…

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They don’t read Burke, either

James Wolcott is on form: "The cultural conservatives of decades past actually read T. S. Eliot, Irving Babbitt, F. R. Leavis, and other custodians of tradition. Today’s cult-cons scrutinize cartoons for butt-cracks and tabulate penis references in sitcoms, and then wonder why no one wants to sit next to them in the sauna."

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Random linkage

#1: Some marauding Vikings are planning to buy and merge Iceland, Kwik Save and Somerfield into a single chavvy empire. I recommend that they buy Burberry and Max Power next.

#2: A London porn magnate has shown New York’s gangsters how to be cool: "Do you know why we’re here, you British bastard?" one of the men said. Bailey tried to keep his dignity. "If you know I’m British, [you know] this approach won’t get you anywhere."

#3: Congrats to Tory brat Peter Cuthbertson, whose column in National Review Online is probably the least ignorant thing ever published in that journal. Especially for its wonderfully optimistic (for me, not for he) conclusion: "The Bush administration may soon wake up to a Britain whose prime minister’s pro-Americanism exists only to the extent that America is leftist and liberal, and whose effective commitment to her paramount goals and needs in these difficult times has vanished."

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Kevin Donnelly is a crack-addled baboon

In the US it’s known as the culture wars; the battle between a liberal-humanist view of education based on the disinterested pursuit of truth and those committed to overthrowing the status quo and turning students into politically correct new age warriors.” – Kevin Donnelly in The Australian.

No, the US culture wars pit a liberal-humanist view of education based on the disinterested pursuit of truth against Christian fundamentalists. The people in academia *are* the liberal humanists interested in the disinterested pursuit of truth. Only right-wing loons think that banning gay-hate groups from campus is a worse threat to liberal values than making kids learn creation myths as fact…

The rest of the article is just as bad. Mr Donnelly mostly attacks an Australian teacher called Wayne Sawyer, who has written that John Howard’s victory at the last Aussie election raises questions about public morals.

Since Mr Howard is a proven liar and cynical race-hate-monger (irrespective of your views on his contribution to Iraq), this is not a particularly controversial view: even a Victorian puritan would disapprove of him on moral grounds. Mr Donnelly, however, takes the opportunity to lie that Mr Sawyer wants kids to be taught left-wing propaganda, and then goes on a traditional no-nothing ‘political correctness has gone mad’ rant.

Alternatively, Mr Donnelly’s claim is that only people on the left still believe in honesty and in not stirring up hate for electoral advantage. This would certainly explain the current US administration…

(via Barista [blog dead, now a malware site], who also gives Donnelly some good punishing)

Hack vs grunt

Idle musing (based on the coalition forces’ amusing habit of murdering journalists, and the hawkish right’s pathetic attempts to smear the journalists as deserving it): is it better if soldiers die or journalists die?

Having met many journalists, who are nearly all intelligent, witty and decent people, and more than a few squaddies, who are nearly all thick, boring, thuggish arseholes (and that’s just the British ones; I’m informed, perhaps unreliably, that the Brits are *better* at not being thuggish arseholes than the Yanks), the provisional SBBS answer is "soldiers".

This real-life soldier-meeting experience has also shaped the SBBS view on the original "do soldiers target journalists?" question, not to mention the "do soldiers routinely commit war crimes?" question, and the "is war generally a fucking stupid idea?" question.

NB the SBBS worldview is almost certainly wrong, given that it differs from the perception that I’ve encountered from nearly all second-hard sources. Still, at grunt level, it’s formed largely through having worked and been out in the UK garrison town of Aldershot. At officer level, it’s formed largely though having studied alongside various buffoons and idiots who followed the Prince Harry career path. At both levels, it’s been confirmed by reading military bloggers (egregious example here).

I’d be delighted to meet someone who was a non-conscript Army person and yet not a wanker, should such a someone exist.

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Because we can’t all be Juan Cole

Mumon has created a rather groovy automatic smackdown boilerplate to use against ignorant hawks.

I think it is time to be frank about some things. _____________ knows absolutely nothing about Iraq. I wonder if he has even ever read a single book on Iraq, much less written one. He knows no Arabic. He has never lived in an Arab country. He can’t read Iraqi newspapers or those of Iraq’s neighbors. He knows nothing whatsoever about Shiite Islam, the branch of the religion to which a majority of Iraqis adheres. Why should we pretend that ________’s opinion on the significance and nature of the elections in Iraq last Sunday matters? It does not.

________ was a cheerleader for the unprovoked, unilateral US attack on Iraq. The reason he repeatedly gave was that Iraq was (Choose one or more: a) close to having a nuclear weapon; b) Saddam was behind 9/11; c) ____/____’s child/___’s friend/___’s pet was in the first tower/at an airport/drinking beer d) because the Arabs are all alike…

On a similar note, PZ Myers relates the reality-based-community/hawkish-pundit disconnect to the science/creationism disconnect. Those of us who aren’t blinded by loopy faith-based nonsense listen to academic experts and the credible evidence they present for their conclusions, while those of us who are brand them as ‘elitist’ and listen to ignorant wankjobs like Jonah Goldberg and Jonathan Wells instead.

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It’s called the rule of law

‘A senior official from the FBI’ is a cunt: "[Islamic terrorists are] laughing at you… They know, because of what your courts have decided, it’s going to be easier for them to execute a terrorist outrage that kills hundreds, if not thousands, of people in Britain. I tell you: they’re laughing."

No. The UK has a fair and reasonable judicial system that does a reasonably good job of protecting everyone in Britain from both crime and the arbitrary exercise of authority. American political leaders make up bollocks about organised terror networks to scare people, and deport people to be tortured without trial.

Admittedly, our political representatives should be flayed alive for signing mad extradition laws with you bastards, which mean that Brits who’ve never even been to America can be arrested here, then deported to face charges of being a Muslim without having the opportunity to defend themselves in a British court first (considerately, our wonderful police service will also give them a good beating on arrest, to help them adjust to life being tortured by inbred rednecks in a federal prison).

Maybe the people who want to destroy all that is worthwhile and decent in Western society are laughing, after all…

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