Why doesn’t the FARC hate the USA?

Go and read this spectacularly ignorant article on Latin America. Key lessons: democracy and being-opposed-to-the-USA are incompatible; democracy and socialism are incompatible; and the USA has every right to tell Latin Americans what they ought to be doing.

The final quote is also a classic of sorts: "South America’s past…is a nightmare of repression. The Bush administration has prescribed democracy as the cure". Right, now remind me who was responsible for the repression in the first place…?

Given historic and current US attitudes and behaviours towards Latin America (clue: very, very bad), US residents are very, very lucky that the only people to carry out large-scale terrorism in their homeland have been a crazy militiaman and a handful of fanatical Arabs.

(via Ryan)

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Good work, fellas

I’m not generally a great fan of derivative computer games, or of one-sided political polemics masquerading as documentary.

However, both this game and this play will really, really annoy the groups of people that I most despise (moral majoritarians and terrorloons, respectively), while doing no major harm to anyone sane – and therefore should be welcomed despite their flaws.

(This gentleman, I think, would be moved to apoplectic fury by either. Good.)

Update: this is also why I like the advertising industry. Read the taste & decency complaints made to the UK’s Advertising Standards Authority last year, if you fancy spending an hour or so boggling at the insanity (and occasionally, filthy minds) of the busybodies who complain… (obviously, some of the complaints about lying, privacy, etc are more reasonable).

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Electoral notice

Astute readers may have noticed that, for a nominally political blog, SBBS has taken little interest in the forthcoming election – beyond occasionally exposing and/or mocking politicians’ more egregious lies and nonsenses.

This is predominantly because, for a nominally political writer, I have remarkably little interest in the forthcoming election. The only way I’ve been able to take even the vaguest interest in the forthcoming election is by placing hefty spread bets on the results and turnout.

I do, however, care quite a lot about the moral bankruptcy of the bastards currently in government – specifically, their plans for a Soviet-style criminal justice system. The latest iteration of the latter is the suggestion that victims of crime should be involved in the legal process – not just as witnesses, but actually influencing the court’s view of how the defendant should be sentenced.

This suggests NuLab doesn’t even understand what a legal system *is*, never mind what its aims are. It lines the government up with idiots like Norman Brennan, who think that soothing the feelings of crime victims (aw! poor victim! you had your telly stolen!) is a sensible use of the power of the state. It isn’t. It’s yet more populist, scaremongering nonsense from the masters of populist scaremongering nonsense.

Alternative Labour manifesto: "We’re only abolishing your freedom to protect you from Very Bad People, and the fact that they don’t exist is neither here nor there. You’re stupid enough to believe that they do, you’ll vote for us because you’re scared of what will happen if you vote for someone else, and that’s good enough for us."

So that’s why I’m not very enthusiastic about this election. The only sane party isn’t going to win (although obviously you should still vote for them); the party that’s almost certain to win is run by an appalling bunch of chancers who don’t believe in the law; and the other lot are almost as halfwitted on criminal justice and civil liberties, while additionally hating the poor and the blacks.

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Not funny

…but worthwile. This cartoon is a disturbing and moving picture of how ‘peacekeeping’ looks in Iraq at the moment.

Pulling out the troops is something I’ve opposed so far – but with the vast majority of ‘resistance’ attacks targeted at coalition troops not locals, are we really helping Iraqis by keeping soldiers there? I don’t know any more.

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Unfocused Mondayage

It’s nice to be able to combine cute animal photos with rants about the lunatic waste-of-time that is airline security.



What, did they think the penguins were tuxedo-wearing suicide dwarves? As I’ve said before, if there were an airline with no overt security checks and a 10-minute check-in, I’d use it (and I’d also bet sizeable amounts of cash that its fatality rate would differ insignificantly from mainstream airlines). Picture from here.

I don’t know why I like Jim Bliss’s presentation-structured analysis of Octopus’s Garden, but I do. I also don’t know why I like The Register’s bizarre Rise of the Robots rants, but I do. I’m entirely certain why I like the LRB’s personal ads.

Gene at Harry’s says, "I’m honored to be mentioned in the same cyber-breath as Hitchens, Sullivan and Massie". I’m an obliging man, so: like Hitchens, Sullivan and Massie, Gene at Harry’s is utterly deluded about George W Bush’s desire and capacity to do good (he has none, obviously). Harry at Harry’s, however, has a good quote: "Blair couldn’t betray me because I’ve never had any faith in him in the first place."

Oh, and I agree with Laban, which is a little worrying. The case he highlights is an excellent example of why legislator-imposed minimum sentences are always a terrible, terrible idea.

All done. Now go and read the latest Britblog roundup.

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Good drug policy shock

Tim is right. The plan to increase the level of heroin prescriptions for junkies is a good one, partially reversing the disastrous failure of all British drugs policy between 1971-2002 (not to mention 2004-present).

What the hell drove the Misuse of Drugs Act 1971 in the first place? Before it was introduced, we didn’t have a serious drugs problem, and certainly not a serious drug-related crime [*] problem. It then became a major factor (alongside many others) in ensuring that we did.

This is an example of a wider phenomenon: halfwitted government attempts to tackle mostly-imaginary (at least in extent) problems can have the effect of creating conditions where the original problem becomes a real and significant one. I wonder if anyone can come up with another recent instance of this?

[*] In case anyone sarcastic wants to say ‘well, of course there wasn’t any crime if it wasn’t illegal’, this means drug gangsters and drug muggers.

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The Joke

"Dost’s satirical penchant had gotten him into trouble before. After he wrote a poem lampooning an Islamic cleric in Peshawar, he said, the man bore him such a grudge that he fingered him to Pakistani intelligence agents, leading to his arrest…

"At Guantanamo, he said, he had to spend hours explaining to interrogators a satirical essay he had published in 1998, after President Bill Clinton offered a $5 million reward for Osama bin Laden. Dost’s essay offered a reward of 5 million afghanis – then the equivalent of about $113, he said – for Clinton."

Fabulous. So an unaccountable expansionist superpower and its cowering client state are locking people up in prison camps for making anti-government jokes. Now, where have I heard that one before?

(via Belle. I hope she’s right when she says "Look, my country is better than this.")

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