Conservative logic

Peter C, in Harry’s comments: "It is Europe’s choice if it wants to spend its money on bulbous welfare systems and 35 hour weeks rather than the sort of military forces and economic power that win respect and influence in the world. But in no sense have they then the right to demand some of the influence that America won through her prudence. Yet again we see left-wingers utterly indifferent to the work that brought others success, happy to redistribute to the grasshopper the fruits of the ant’s toil."

Presumably, therefore, if I fail to spend my money on machine guns and petrol, then I’ve got no right to complain when an Aryan Nation nutcase shoots the family next door and burns down their house. It’s a point of view, I guess.

And no, I don’t think America’s military influence on the world is equivalent to that of a nutcase shooting everyone and burning down their houses. From country to country and campaign to campaign, it varies between that and the strongly positive (encompassing most shades in between). The point was the astonishing idiocy of the quote’s logic.

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We all kip

For some agreeable reason, the locus of comedy in extreme British politics has shifted to the right. Well, leftie squabbles can be fun too, but the left just doesn’t have the same element of farce.

I suspect this may be because the inter-left fighting is about people being killed by war and tyranny, while the inter-right fighting is about whether it’s better to be ruled by civil servants from London or from Brussels.

Also, Anthony Wells should seriously consider becoming a comic writer (err, a comic writer like PG Wodehouse, not a comic writer like Stan Lee).

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Well worth the licence fee

A vintage Today programme today, courtesy of some of my favourite comedians from the left, the centre, the right and the loony bin.

First came a semi-coherent diatribe from Jack Straw about how Iraq was wonderful and fine, and how it’s groovy that we’re going to send British troops to be commanded by the Americans in Baghdad because US soliders are fed up of dying there, and how Charles Kennedy Would Rather Saddam Were In Power. Wonderfully, Mr Kennedy appeared later on to deliver a powerful rejoinder, and to demand that Mr Straw apologise to him personally for that horrible libel.

As if that weren’t enough, the final segment of the show featured Mel Phillips debating gambling with Peter Oborne. Because most Mel articles seem to be about how Israel is great, Arabs are rubbish, and we should have more wars, I’d forgotten quite how strange her domestic political views are. She’s a bit like Polly Toynbee, except without the sense of fun or the compassion for individuals.

It’s hard to understand why someone who talks about people who’re short of cash in such disgustingly patronising terms (eg "in the Victorian era, we lifted the poor out of their squalor and drunkenness") that even arch-High Tories like Mr Oborne notice there’s something wrong, is respected rather than shunned by *anybody*.

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Christian versus Islam

If I were more sober, I’d programme a proper poll; however, I’m not and therefore can’t [*]. I’m still interested to see the results, so vote in the comments: who’s better, Terry Christian or Yusuf Islam?

[*] Remember, the time displayed is EST; I’m on BST. It’s not that I’m drunk at 7pm, honest…

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We like Cox

Anthony Cox and his Black Triangle have returned. And no, they’re not a 70s prog rock band, although they should be. One of Mr Cox’s first new posts rightly slates Panorama’s irritatingly biased anti-Seroxat documentary series.

As well as being annoying, an earlier incarnation of this doc will live in infamy in my workplace for nearly costing us one of our largest clients (particularly enterprising readers may be able to guess which firm was displeased) after the producers selectively cut an interview with one of my colleagues from a detailed explanation of the situation to 30 seconds which appeared to slate the relevant company for being vicious, money-grubbing and callous.

I think the reason they were so offended was because this was one of the occasions on which the terms actually didn’t apply…

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Ken Bigley tribute album

The Four Seasons may well had Popbitch in mind when they wrote ‘oh so wrong, but oh so right’. This week’s highlight was, as the title may have given away, a tribute to everyone’s favourite headless Liverpudlian:

Ferry Cross The Mersey – Gerry and the Pacemakers

One Night In Bangkok – Murray Head

Can’t Buy Me Love – Beatles

Rock The Casbah – The Clash

Money Money Money – Abba

Caught Out There – Kelis

Let Me Go – Rancid

Pretty Tied Up – Guns N’ Roses

Luck of the Irish – Lennon/Ono

Theme from The Great Escape – Elmer Bernstein

Back For Good – Take That

First Cut Is The Deepest – Cat Stevens

Oops Upside Your Head – Gap Band

The Head On The Door – The Cure

Bonus track –

Can’t Stop This Thing We Started – Bryan Adams

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According to one of the booze trade magazines I read: "it is a sad yet obvious fact that governments do not exist merely to further the interests of their respective drinks industries".

Obvious, yes, but I’m not totally sure about the sad. It would be a rather unusual form of minarchism…

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We like to kill

One of the most popular human activities is killing each other – and last century was the pinnacle (so far, at least). The total death toll from war, tyranny and slaughter from 1900-1999 was around 180 million people, equivalent to everyone in Germany, Italy and France [*].

So why was the 20th century so bad? Was it because of the godless communists? The fascists? The evil colonialists? The crazy tribalists? The theocrats?

No. It was just We The People. Once you correct for population size (which is fair enough: as evil ruler of China you have the opportunity to kill a lot more people than the equally evil ruler of Luxembourg), there is absolutely no pattern to the distribution of massacres by ethnic group, religion or political affiliation.

This has positive and negative implications. The positive is that none of the current set of crazy ideologies seem likely to have a substantially worse impact than the wars of the 20th century – and right now, the human race is still flourishing, as are many of the countries that were worst impacted by slaughtering. The negative, obviously, is that there’s a strong chance that tens if not hundreds of millions of people will be arbitrarily slaughtered by their neighbours over the next 100 years.

It’s probably worth noting as a final point that Saddam Hussein’s domestic evils don’t even make the top 30, in proportionate or absolute terms. This doesn’t make him a good man, but it’s yet more evidence that his evil has been played up to con humanitarians into supporting the invasion (I’m as guilty as anyone of falling for this one).

(from Matthew White, via Tomodachi)

[*} Anyone suggesting that the above distribution would have been a better use of scarce killing resources is not taking the topic seriously enough.

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