Danger, low postage

It would appear that moving house, immediately throwing a party, then dealing with the unpacking and aftermath, doing the million move-related and non-move-related administrative things I haven’t done over the last month of working infinitely hard, and buying Christmas presents, are together quite time consuming.

While I’ve been away from the world of News and Politics, life has been busy imitating children’s poetry (third poem down on the right). This may be the most pathetic decision anyone has ever made…

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Oh, for fuck’s sake

At the risk of diverging from my mission of being Europe’s best political weblog, I’m going to enter LiveJournal territory for an evening. Apologies.

So, when I’m leaving Manchester forever tomorrow [*], and it’s my birthday, and I’m left spending an hour trying to find a cab with the one (ex-gf-excluded) friend from Mancs that I’m incredibly close to, and I’m really not interested in her sexually, and we eventually find a cab, and we drop her off first even though it’s quicker the other way because minicab drivers are shady and I don’t trust them in the slightest, do I have to reflexively say goodbye to her by saying "Love you"? How fucking pathetic, moronic, and most distressingly not even what I secretly meant is that?

Or is it what I secretly meant? Bloody hell. I thought life would get *easier* after leaving my appalling job…

[*] Or today, UK time.

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Yanqui dollar revisited

Anthony Cox has a good point in the comments below: there is a strong outcome-based difference between levelling accusations that (eg) Kos hates America and American troops, and levelling accusations that ITM is funded by the CIA.

The first doesn’t really make a blind bit of difference to anyone in the real world. The second – given that ITM, rather than being either anonymous or in a Western country where political debate rarely involves gruesome murder, is part of an Iraqi political party – could well contribute to ITM getting their head chopped off by crazy people.

I’m deeply, deeply sceptical about ITM’s relationship with the truth. I also find the whole ‘pet Iraqi blogger’ thing a bit silly. "Look, I’ve got an Iraqi who agrees with my deranged policies, so I must be right and if you object then you’re a racist and you approve of suffering and torture". Mentioning no names.

Even so, levelling accusations that might well get someone killed purely on the basis of deduction rather then evidence is still, perhaps, somewhat out of order.

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Modelling for cash

Celebrated professor Juan Cole has an excellent post exposing the CIA backing behind of Iraq The Model. It’s time the Bushhitler and his evil propaganda machine were stopped, etc.

OK, enough left-parody. Various hawkish bloggers like Jeff Jarvis have become very upset by Dr Cole’s post. They think that to accuse a foreign writer of being paid by the CIA is a disgraceful, McCarthyite (or Stalinist, depending on the writer’s own personal prejudices) trick.

This is bollocks.

The CIA has an enormous information budget, and has long funded writers, journalists, dissidents and suchlike throughout the world. Given that a great many people have turned to Iraqi blogs to get their info on the situation on the ground, the CIA would be remiss not to offer Iraqis cash to write blandly pro-American propaganda.

ITM consists *entirely* of blandly pro-American, right-wing propaganda – right down to the disingenous, Charles Johnson-esque ‘I used to support the left, right up until they refused to go along with blowing up shit and making piles of naked prisoners, and then I realised this meant they hated freedom’. Sure, some opposing blogs (such as Riverbend) are exceedingly pessimistic and may well be focusing on the negatives and ignoring any positives, but ITM is simply inconsistent with any narrative of occupation by a liberation army ever recorded. Even Allied forces in WWII faced more hostility from the locals (as opposed to the Evil, Democracy-Hating Pro-Terrorists) than ITM suggests is happening in Iraq.

It’s possible that Iraq is actually a historical exception and ordinary citizens do simply lurve the Americans. Perhaps unlikely, but not logically impossible. It’s also possible, and rather more likely, that ITM is a self-deluding Yankophile. But if I had to guess whether or not the CIA was funding Iraqi bloggers, then I’d vote yes. And if I had to pick the Iraqi blogger most likely to be funded by the CIA, then ITM would be right up there.

Juan Cole may be wrong, but he’s saying nothing unreasonable.

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Hits and misses

Like Memetank Frank, I’m confused by hit rates. Yesterday I got linked by Crooked Timber, which is apparently rather popular. The link brought through a few hundred hits, but my average hit rate *fell*. Maybe my right-wing anti-academic readers boycotted the site in protest at the advent of academic lefties…

In other news, Michael Howard is a tit and any self-described libertarian who votes Tory rather than Lib-Dem is a liar and a fool; and anti-Europeans again show themselves incapable of avoiding random non-sequiturs about the evils of the EU. Well, I say ‘news’; this might be an exaggeration.

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Mental contortionism

An article in today’s Telegraph (registration required, bugmenot is your friend) takes the false ‘fighting burglars in the UK is illegal’ meme to new levels of absurdity.

It features interviews with a long list of people who injured or killed burglars, none of whom were convicted of anything (or sent to jail on remand). It attempts to present this as evidence *for* its assertion that a change in the law is required.

Apparently, the burglar-killers in the piece didn’t like being arrested, interviewed and locked in cells by mean, thuggish policemen. At this point, if I were an authoritarian commentator writing about drug laws or political protesters, I’d probably say something smug and sarcastic like ‘Bless’.

Killing someone is rather serious, no matter what the causes. The circumstances around any homicide should be investigated, and it doesn’t seem unreasonable for the police to treat admitted killers with suspicion until more evidence is available. In all the cases cited in the article, the people were either released without charge or bailed the next day, once the facts had emerged.

If we believe there is a problem here, we have two options:

a) stop investigating homicides where the killer claims that the victim was a burglar

b) get policemen to treat suspects less thuggishly

I’m actually quite keen on option b), and presumably I don’t need to explain why option a) is monumentally stupid. I suspect that realising they’re in favour of liberal police reforms would make many of the relevant protesters’ heads explode, however.

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Buddhist terrorists

One popular meme among War on Terror hawks has been to suggest that Islam is a uniquely violent and rubbish religion. This is bollocks; all religions are violent, rubbish and silly, and Islam has been no worse throughout its history than the others, which is Quite Bad.

One soundbite-sized version of the hawk view is "when did you last see a Buddhist terrorist?". The answer to that one would appear to be today.

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