Archive for January, 2016

Hunter S. Thompson and Hilary Mantel on Blowing Away Maggie Thatcher

January 31, 2016

Generation Swine Cover

Remember the fearful bate the Tories got in last year over Hilary Mantel’s short story, The Assassination of Margaret Thatcher? This was a counterfactual narrative, speculating on what would have happened if someone had managed to blow away the Leaderene, as almost happened when the IRA bomb blew up the hotel the Tory delegates were staying in during their Brighton Conference. Thatcher escaped, but it left Norman Tebbitt’s wife crippled and in a wheelchair. Unable to cope with the idea that someone might actually want to off their idol, the Tories worked themselves up into a howling frenzy, baying that the prize-winning lady novelist was encouraging terrorism.

It’s hard to see how this could be so. Mantel’s one of the great figures in contemporary literary fiction. As well as winning literary prizes and awards, her book about Thomas Cromwell, Cardinal Wolsey and the dark intrigues of the Tudor court, Wolf Hall, was turned into an acclaimed drama series by the Beeb. She’s very far from a Marxist or Irish Republican radical firebrand, let alone an Islamist jihadi, spewing hate for the Kufar and demanding the destruction of the ‘Little Satan’ by fire and sword. These groups don’t need much encouragement from genteel, respectable novelists. They’ve got their own sources of propaganda, fanning their fanaticism. I somehow don’t think they’re terribly interested in modern highbrow literature. You don’t, after all, see them hurriedly putting down the Times Literary Supplement as their latest butcher gets up to vomit out his rant in the latest beheading video from ISIS. In fact, considering that one group didn’t even have a copy of the Qu’ran, and a British jihadi had to order Islam For Dummies to get acquainted with even the rudiments of the faith he claimed to be fighting for, I’m frankly amazed that any of them can even read. Possibly they do so much screaming of ‘Allahu Akbar!’ because it’s just about the only Islamic phrase they know.

But long before Mantel raised a stir discussing Thatcher’s possible assassination, Hunter S. Thompson had done the same, in a piece addressed to his illustrator, Ralph Steadman. Steadman had been having problems with his son’s behaviour. From the letter’s contents, it appeared that his son had been smashing windows. Thompson ascribed this to the boy’s father’s own profession as a cartoonist, one of whose targets was the PM.

England is the wrong place for a boy who wants to smash windows. Because he’s right, of course. He should smash window. Anybody growing up in England today without a serious urge to smash windows is probably too dumb for help.

You are reaping the whirlwind, Ralph. Where in the name of art or anything else did you ever see anything that said you could raw queer pictures of the prime minister and call her worse than a denatured pig-but your own son shouldn’t want to smash windows

And Thompson made it very clear that he shared the lad’s anger and contempt for the Saint of Finchley:

The prime minister is a denatured pig, Ralph, and you should beat her like a gong. Draw horrible cartoons of the bitch, and sell them for many dollars to The Times and Private Eye … but don’t come weeping to me when your own son takes it into his head to smash a few windows.

He goes further, and states that the lad should be taking pot shots at Maggie, instead of just acts of petty vandalism.

You snivelling hypocritical bastard. If your son had your instincts, he’d be shooting at the Prime Minister, instead of just smashing windows.

Are you ready for that? How are you going to feel when you wake up one of these mornings and flip on the telly at Old Loose Court just in time to catch a news bulletin about the prime minister being shot through the gizzard in Piccadilly Circus … and then some B.B.C. hot rod comes up with exclusive picture of the dirty freak who did it, and he turns out to be your own son?

The piece was published in April, 1986, and was included in the volume of pieces from the great man’s journalism, Generation of Swine: Tales of Shame and Degradation in the ’80s. That first came out in 1988, and was republished by Picador in 2011. To my knowledge, the Tories signally failed to work themselves up into any lather about Thompson wondering how it is that Steadman’s son hasn’t assassinated Maggie, despite the fact that this took place at about the same time the PM’s life, as well as so many others, was threatened by Northern Irish paramilitaries. Possibly it’s because they knew humour and satire when they saw it, though that’s unlikely. More likely, they just hadn’t read it. I got the impression that the staple reading of the Tory classes, when it isn’t the Sun, is the Times and Telegraph, and the glossy magazines of the County set, like Sporting Gun, Shooting & Conservative, The Lady and Country Life. Bile-soaked pieces of radical journalism, filled with the blazing hate of the man, who invented gonzo journalism for the political classes, TV preachers and the depraved and debauched creatures prowling business and the dark undergrowth of modern society, probably wasn’t on their literary horizon. They probably didn’t notice. Either that, or they were afraid of Thompson. He was a life-long gun freak, like that other countercultural literary icon and drug fiend, William S. Burroughs. Holed up in the Rockies as he was, the Tories may have been afraid of Thompson as he had more firepower available for him than they did.

So as far as I know, they ignored Thompson’s piece on Steadman’s son and the possible shooting of the Leaderene. If they were aware of it, they probably realised it was all literary artifice and satire. Thompson probably did hate Thatcher, but he wasn’t recommending that anyone should shoot her. Not if Nixon had escaped, anyway. And they should similarly have recognised that it was all literary artifice and the craft of the novelist when Mantel too wrote her piece about the assassination of Maggie. But this was too much. By the time she wrote, they’d elevated her into a virtual saint, St. Maggie of Monetarism, the high priestess of the idolatrous cult of von Hayek and Milton Friedman. Mantel uttered blasphemy, which they just had to decry.

It shows the stupidity, emotionalism and sheer selectiveness of the Tory party when it comes to any assault on Thatcher and the squalid political values she stood for. Unable to understand literary fiction, they had to censor it instead. Just as they’re doing their level best to clamp down on ordinary free speech. Thompson, had he lived, could have had a field day with this new generation of Tory swine.

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Secular Talk: Huffington Post to Call Trump Liar and Racist in All Articles on Him

January 31, 2016

This is another piece from Secular Talk about Trump. The Huffington Post has lost its patience with the wannabe Dictator of America. From now on, in every article they run on him, they’re going to call him a ‘liar’ and ‘racist’. Because that is exactly what he is.

Kulinski discusses this notion as it would apply to other political figures. He states that he has long had the idea of putting signs up indicating they’re lying for the politicians on the Sunday morning politics shows, just like they do on the American sports programmes. He states that far more right-wing politicians would be caught out than left-wing politicos, for the simply reason that the right is far and away more mendacious. He notes that contemporary journalists don’t like to do much fact-checking when it comes to politicians, but when they do, even they have to admit that the right lies more. Even Politifacts. This organisation tries to make the amount of lies told by the Democrats and Republicans as close to 50:50 as they can, but even they have to admit and show that the Republicans like more.

Here’s the video.

I like the idea, but can you imagine it being used on British television? When Cameron, IDS, George Osborne, Thicky Nikki Morgan or any of the other human refuse currently infesting government like roaches in a fleapit motel appeared on the Andrew Marr show, that sign would never be off. You’d just see something like the image below constantly flashing as each new falsehood made its assault on the credulity of the British public.

Tory Lies Drawing

It’d be pretty much the same for Andrew Neill’s The Sunday Politics, and the Dimblebore’s Question Time. Eventually it would get too much, and they’d have it discontinued, citing cost, BBC left-wing bias or ‘cultural Marxism’. They’ve already shown how much they lie, and how they don’t really want to answer questions in case too many of the British public realise they’re lying, by being extremely unwilling to answer anything like a straight question. Like Nikki Morgan refusing to answer the simple Maths question of what 7 x 8 is, or even how many academies had to be taken back into state management last year.
Which is one reason why it won’t happen, not on the Beeb. But I wouldn’t bet on someone not trying it on Youtube. To paraphrase the tech geek in the Firefly movie, It doesn’t matter what you try to block it, the signal will always get through. Just wait and see.

Secular Talk on Bill O’Reilly’s Grovelling to Get Trump on Fox Debate

January 31, 2016

This yet more on the walking political disaster known as Donald Trump. It’s a piece from the atheist news show, Secular Talk, analysing an interview on Fox News between Bill O’Reilly and Donald Trump. In it, Bill O’Reilly, one of the channel’s leading presenters, does some of the most outright, craven grovelling before a politician I’ve ever seen by a TV presenter. He fawns, pleads, flatters, telling Trump how great and wonderful he it. And when that doesn’t work, he reminds Trump of all the vanilla milkshakes he bought him.

Yum!

It’s hilarious, creepy, and definitely cringe-making, and shows how little honour or self-respect the newsboys and girls at Fox have before their right-wing idols. And with all the grovelling and pleading before Trump, it shows the hollowness behind Fox’s slogan of ‘Fair and Balance Reporting’. There’s nothing fair or balanced about this craven grovelling before Trump. It’s almost as unbalanced as Trump’s own weird psychology. Or that of his voters.

Secular Talk’s host, Kyle Kulinski, also makes some good points when he points out how The Donald’s most common defence against any criticism is to flip it, and turn it back against the opposing side. No, he’s not running away from the debate. They – his opponents – are. He isn’t afraid of Megyn Kelly. She’s afraid of him. It’s all manifestly untrue, but as Kulinski shows, Trump does it so brazenly that it actually works. At one point a crowd booed something Trump said, but he turned it into a joke about how much they supported him, and the crowd laughed, and were immediately back on his side again. This also shows how fickle crowds are, but there’s no doubt that Trump knows how to play human beings like a master. But then, so did Goebbels and Hitler.

On a positive note, if you despise Bill O’Reilly and Fox News, you will probably enjoy the spectacle of O’Reilly abasing himself before his idol absolutely hilarious. Trump has, in his way, done the world a great service by showing the true face behind Fox News: fearful and wheedling before its political masters. It’s only harsh and combative against the Left and people they think they can bully.

 

Vox Political: Osbo Gets Mock Blue Plaque for Being a Benefit Scrounger

January 30, 2016

This is a fine bit of political satire. Apparently one justly annoyed resident is going to put up a mock Blue Plaque – the commemorative plaques placed on the homes of famous people – to show the nation how Osborne got £100,000 off the taxpayer for having a second home while he lived in Tatton. See Mike’s story at: http://voxpoliticalonline.com/2016/01/29/benefit-scrounger-george-osborne-now-has-his-own-blue-plaque/. Apparently, other Londoners are joining in and putting up similar plaques. Mike’s article has a piccie of the plaque as well, so enjoy the show.

Secular Talk on Trump Running from Fox Debate, because Afraid of Moderator Megyn Kelly

January 29, 2016

This is another video from the atheist news show, Secular Talk, about the true-life political comedy known as Donald Trump. Fox News has been desperate to get The Donald on their show, debating with the other presidential candidates. There’s an excruciating video of Fox’s anchorman and serial liar, Bill O’Reilly, virtually grovelling before Trump trying to get him to come on. So far the Nazi of Trump Tower has refused. And the reason is hilarious.

He’s scared of Megyn Kelly.

She was the journalist, who had the audacity the last time Trump was on Fox to ask him about his Tweets, in which Trump made disparaging comments about women and ethnic minorities. She did so nicely and sympathetically, not directly criticising Trump, but simply asking how he would respond to his enemies attacking him for them. This extremely mild questioning was too much for Trump’s fail ego, and he has decided to take his ball and go elsewhere.

Trump has made a point of posing as the enemy of political correctness, but as the show’s host, Kyle Kulinski, shows, Trump himself here shows the very worst aspects of it. The refusal to debate, the demands for sympathy, for ‘safe spaces’ against ‘microaggressions’, all the censorship and emotionalism of Politically Correct culture. Unfortunately, this will be lost on Trump’s fans and followers, who somehow think that he’s an awful male, and this kind of petulant cowardice is the masterful way real, alpha-male men behave.

The War on Drugs, Racism and Eugenics in Modern America

January 29, 2016

There’s a particularly chilling passage in the chapter ‘The History of “Black Paranoia” in Cockburn and St. Clair’s End Times: The Death of the Fourth Estate, where they describe the revival and continuation of eugenics policies, including the use of castration and sterilisation, and the US government’s ‘war on drugs’. The chapter as a whole is intended to show that Black Americans have very good reason for not trusting the US government, considering the numerous policies that have been deliberately enacted against them. This has includes treating them as unwitting subjects for human experimentation, and the way crimes have been specifically framed by the legal authorities so that punishment bears down hardest on Blacks and other ethnic minorities. The various anti-drugs legislation is a case in point. Although middle class White Americans also used opium, marijuana and cocaine, the laws against them were formulated and promoted to specifically attack Blacks, Mexicans and Chinese, as a way of making them seem threateningly foreign. Cannabis was originally just called ‘hemp’. It was renamed ‘marijuana’ as a way of associating with Mexican workers, who were then competing with White workers in the Depression for jobs. It was associated with the racial threat supposedly posed by Black men, often using the crude imagery of school playground racial stereotype. One government headline screamed that ‘Negroes with Big Lips Lure White Women with Marijuana and Jazz.’ And all this was going on a mere few decades after one US cigarette manufacturer offered smokers cocaine-laced ciggies for their consumption.

The Destruction of Black Communities by the War on Drugs

Cockburn and St. Clair talk about the devastation wrought in downtown L.A. by the War on Drugs, which effectively turned poor Black neighbourhoods into war zones. Wards were walled off from each other, curfews imposed, and Black men were stopped and searched on the street. 89 per cent of those arrested were released without charge. Unemployment soared, as did the proportion of Blacks in US prisons. Poverty increased, and for the first in a century, the average Black life expectancy fell.

Fred Goodwin on Inner City Men Evolving Backwards

And as conditions in the inner cities deteriorated, there was a revival of eugenics. In 1992, Fred Goodwin, the director of ADAMHA, or the Alcohol, Drug Abuse and Mental Health Administration, declared that the increase in Black violence in the inner cities may well have been due to a gene for violence. He recommended that a national biomedical campaign should be launched to isolate the gene and treat the gene’s carriers. In February of that year he gave a speech to the National Mental Health Advisory Council, in which he explicitly stated that violence had increased, as individuals in the jungle conditions of the inner cities had reverted to more ‘natural’ behaviour. He stated:

There are discussion of “biological correlates” and “biological markers”. The individuals have defective brains with detectable prefrontal changes that may well be predictive of later violence. The individuals have impaired intelligence, in this case “cognitive deficit” … Now, one could say that if some of the loss of social structure in this society, and particularly within the high impact inner city areas, has removed some of the civilising evolutionary things that we have built up and that maybe it isn’t just the careless use of the word when people call certain areas of certain cities jungles, that we may have gone back to what might be more natural, without all of the social controls that we have imposed upon ourselves as a civilisation over thousands of years in our evolution.

Planting Electrodes in Brains to Control Violence

Cockburn and St. Clair link Goodwin’s attempt to find the genetic origins of violence and a medical treatment, with that of Lewis “Jolly” West, who presided over the neuropsychiatric institute at UCLA. In 1969 West announced his plan to plant electrodes in the brain of violent offenders, in order to control them. This caused such an outcry that he was forced to abandon his plans. There are shades here of the limiter in the BBC SF series, Blake’s 7. One of the early characters, Oleg Gan, had had a limiter – an electronic device designed to prevent him from killing anyone – implanted in his brain after he killed the Federation trooper, who’d raped his girlfriend. Blake’s 7 was a kind of ‘Dirty Dozen’ meets Star Wars, in which a motley crew of criminals led by the dissident Blake took on the totalitarian Federation. It was very much of its time, and strongly influenced by the medical abuse of psychiatry against dissidents in the former Soviet Union. West and his electrodes suggest that its creator, Terry Nation, the man, who gave children the world over the terrible joy of the Daleks, was also very much aware of the totalitarian tendencies in western science.

The Castration of the Violent

One of West’s own mentors was Dr Ernst Rodin, who was in charge of the Neurology department of Lafayette Clinic. He recommended neurosurgery and castration for the ‘dumb young males who riot’. His views were echoed by West after the Watts riots, but instead of surgery, West recommended sterilising them with cyproterone acetate. In 1972 he recommended that this should be carried out on the inmates in US prisons. This caused such an outcry that his funding was cut.

The Eugenic Sterilisation of the Unfit

Cockburn and St. Clair also cover the eugenics laws enacted in twelve US states in the first two decades of the last century. Between 1907 and 1964 about 63,678 people had been compulsorily sterilised in thirty states and one colony. But this was probably an underestimate of the true numbers of the policy’s victims. In 1974 Federal Judge Gerhard Gessell, reviewing the suit brought by them, declared that 100,000 to 150,000 people with low incomes had been sterilised annually over the past few years in federally funded programmes. Allan Chase, the author of a book on this, The Legacy of Malthus, states that this is comparable to the rate of the Nazis in their sterilisation campaign.

Such programmes were supposed to be voluntary, but Gessell ruled that an unknown number had been forced into it through the authorities threatening to take away their welfare benefits. Those most frequently targeted with this kind of pressure were women reliant on Medicaid to pay their bills for childbirth. One of the intended victims of this was Katie Relf, who successfully fought it off by locking herself into her room. Chase has estimated that by the end of the 1970s, the US was sterilising 200,000 citizens annually.

Winston Churchill, Eugenics, and the Bengal Famine

And the policy was not without its supporters over here. Winston Churchill also supported the policy, and wanted to see about 100,000 degenerates in the UK forcibly sterilised. This isn’t by far the most loathsome thing the great War Leader ever said or did. Last week, Secular Talk covered the story in the Independent that 40 per cent of Brits miss the Empire. The show covered a series of crimes against humanity committed by the Empire and its servants. These included the Amritsar Massacre, the incarceration of Afrikaaner women and children in concentration camps during the Boer War, and the Bengal Famine, in which 27 million people died of starvation. The wheat that could have fed them was diverted to British troops fighting in Europe in the Second World War. For the victims, Churchill had no sympathy. He said he hated Indians, and that it served them right for ‘breeding like rabbits’. He may have been the great leader who kept Europe free, but that doesn’t stop him from also being a moral slug.

Conclusion: Don’t Trust Those Who Claim to Have Found the Gene For Whatever

Apart from its main point – that American Blacks have every reason to be alienated and distrustful of the government and authorities, the chapter also shows how recently such racist attitudes were accepted by medical authorities, as well as the use of sterilisation against the poor generally. And it also provides very good reasons for being extremely distrustful of scientists when they claim to have found the gene for ‘X’. This includes the gene for schizophrenia, for homosexuality, and for violence. The latter surfaced yet again about a few months ago. Someone was claiming that extremely violent crims had a certain mutated chromosome. Then another biologist pointed out that roughly half of everybody also had the gene, and it didn’t make them into psychos. There’s a real danger here that if we pay too much attention to these scientists, we’ll be back with sterilisation and compulsory lobotomy. Just like the early 20th century and Nazis.

Rupert Murdoch and the Ending of Affirmative Action in California

January 29, 2016

Among the other fascinating pieces in Cockburn and St. Clair’s End Times: The Death of the Fourth Estate, is an interesting little piece on Proposition 209 in the chapter ‘How the Media Use Blacks to Chastise Blacks’ by Ishmael Reed. Proposition 209 was the law that ended Affirmative Action for Blacks in California. It was ostensibly introduced by Ward Connerly, who was himself Black. In fact, Connerly was merely the front man to give a spurious multi-racial gloss to the campaign. Behind the scenes the campaign was funded and promoted by a number of right-wing billionaires and racist groups. These included Richard Mellon Scaife, who also gives money to attacking climate change and promoting Creationism, and the Pioneer Fund. This is a group specialising in trying prove a connection between race and heredity. Up to the 1960s its single largest contributor was Wickliffe Draper. Draper was, appropriately enough for his name, a textile magnate. He was also a vehement racist, who worked with the House Committee on UnAmerican Activities. He wanted to prove that Blacks were naturally racially inferior, and should be sent back to Africa.

And a certain Australian-American newspaper baron and general media mogul also spent $200,000 on the campaign to stop Black Californians getting a helping hand: Rupert Murdoch. The man really is a menace to everything decent and civilised on all continents.

Lower than Cockroaches: Ian Duncan Smith and his Persecution of Victims of the Bedroom Tax

January 29, 2016

Cockroaches probably come pretty low on most people’s list of lovable animals. Nevertheless, disgusting as they are, they do have their positive points. There’s supposed to be a species, which has passages running through its body through which it passes digested food to its young. Who would have thought that an insect like that would have developed maternal feelings?

Sadly, all such tenderness has departed from Ian Duncan Smith, in whose breast the milk of human kindness dried up long ago, leaving only the bitterest gall and vinegar. On Wednesday, a woman, who had been so traumatised by the harassment, stalking and her own rape by a former partner, that she had a panic room installed by the police, won her court case against the DWP over the Bedroom Tax. This was too much for the Gentleman Ranker, who immediately appealed. He also laughed about the poor woman and her predicament in parliament. Go read Mike’s blog at http://voxpoliticalonline.com/2016/01/27/dwp-appeals-after-bedroom-tax-on-rape-victims-panic-room-is-ruled-unlawful-and-discriminatory/. This includes a photo of this shameful incident.

Over the past couple of years, there’s been a big debate over whether this country has a ‘rape culture’. This comes after numerous incidents where women have been trolled with threats of rape and sexual violence. One of those who raised the issue was the classical historian, Mary Beard, after she received such threats following comments she made about their being no Muslim threat in one of the northern cities. This controversy naturally extends to jokes about rape. A month or so ago, one British comedienne felt so outraged about it that she delivered a whole evening to attacking it. And you don’t even have to go to see modern, young women voice their condemnation of this type of ‘humour’. Ted Rogers, the old school comedian and game show compere, who brought the world Dusty Bin and 3-2-1 in the ’70s and ’80s, made it plain that he didn’t find rape funny. But from the looks of it, Ian Duncan Smith found it hilarious.

I am not surprised. Violence and bullying always were part of public school culture, much to the disgust of everybody, who did not go to Eton. Way back in the 1980s Private Eye reviewed a book about the public school. The book was highly admiring, but described some of the bullying that went on. This included one of the boys having a cricket stump shoved up his back passage. The Eye’s reviewer, like just about everyone else reading the book, was revolted. The author wasn’t. He adopted the attitude that it was all jolly boyish japes. It clearly isn’t, and his attitude infuriated the Eye’s reviewer even more. But such violence, and cheerful indifference or even celebration of it, does explain IDS callous laughter and persecutory attitude to those, who have suffered sexual violence.

He’s also determined to carry with his wretched policies, even though they’re coming under sustained, and increasing criticism. That same day his benefit cuts were condemned by the Royal College of Psychiatrists for exacerbating the condition of those with mental illness. See Mike’s http://voxpoliticalonline.com/2016/01/27/britains-top-psychiatrists-warn-tory-benefit-cuts-are-making-mental-health-conditions-worse/. And yesterday there were calls on him to resign after three senior judges ruled against the Bedroom. Mike reported here: http://voxpoliticalonline.com/2016/01/28/calls-for-iain-duncan-smith-to-quit-after-damning-bedroom-tax-judgement/. It is, of course, no surprise that IDS scuttled away from the Mirror’s hacks as fast as his chauffeur could drive him. Despite his boss’ claim that, as a former army man, IDS could crack heads with his knees, the Gentleman Ranker is an appalling physical, as well as moral, coward. He’s turned up at parliamentary inquiry surrounded by armed cops and bodyguards, just in case the disabled launch an attack on him. He’s hidden in laundry baskets to avoid protestors, fled out the back of Jobcentres to avoid them, and even delivered speeches first thing in the morning to avoid having to brave the ire of the Great Unwashed. He’s even cowardly about answering the Honourable Members questions in the Palace of Westminster. Yesterday he sat quietly by on the benches, leaving it to a junior minister to take the flack over the bedroom tax. See http://voxpoliticalonline.com/2016/01/28/cowardly-iain-duncan-smith-ducks-mps-furious-questions-over-court-ruling-on-rotten-bedroom-tax/. The minister probably thinks this’ll endear him to his boss, and he’ll be up for promotion. I wouldn’t bet on it. Smith has no loyalty to anyone, except Cameron, and the moment it becomes convenient to put the blame on anyone else for his own failing, he does. It’s only a matter of time before this willing servant of his ministerial vanity gets similarly stabbed in the back.

IDS and his policies are dismal failures, yet he continues to support them, even to the point of being accused of effectively writing blank cheques to lawyers so they can continue their campaign of harassment against those who fought against him and one: http://voxpoliticalonline.com/2016/01/28/iain-duncan-smith-accused-of-writing-blank-cheque-to-lawyers-to-defend-bedroom-tax-in-court/. He’s tenacious in his spite, possibly because it’s the only thing he’s done in public life that counts as anywhere near a success. After all, his attempt to steer the Tory party back to electoral victory under his leadership was a dismal failure. The man’s colossal vanity and megalomania mean that he can’t allow it to fail. Even when it does.

The man is truly the Arnold Rimmer of British politics. A shabby, vain, bully, filled with spite for the poor, who laughs at the traumatised victims of real, horrific violence. The kind, which he himself has neither spine nor stomach to stand up to. He really is lower than the roaches.

Vox Political: Labour Demands Information on UK’s Role in Saudi Bombing of Yemen

January 29, 2016

I put up several videos last week and earlier this week about the way the Saudis have targeted civilians in their bombing of Yemen. They’ve destroyed mosques, schools, a factory out in the desert, and a hospital run Medecins Sans Frontieres, or Doctors Without Borders, to give it its English title. There have been allegations that the Wahhabi, ultra-Sunni Saudis are ethnically cleansing Yemen’s Shia. The American government has been criticised for supplying information to the Saudis for the bombings, in which the majority of victims have been civilians. Now, according to Mike over at Vox Political yesterday, Labour has also requested information on the role of British military staff advising them. This was after the UN condemned the bombings for violating humanitarian law. See the article http://voxpoliticalonline.com/2016/01/28/labour-seeks-details-of-uk-role-in-saudi-led-airstrikes-on-yemen/.

Corbyn and Hilary Benn, who made the request, are absolutely right. It is disgraceful that Britain should be assisting the Saudis to kill civilians. Among the reports of atrocities are incidents where residents, fleeing their destroyed homes, were shot at by Saudi helicopters. This should be embarrassing for David Cameron, who was all too eager to fly down to Saudi Arabia to sell them more arms, even though they have so many at the moment that they literally don’t know what to do with them. They’ve bought fleets of aircraft, for example, that they don’t have the infrastructure to maintain. They’re useless. Except for enriching Cameron and his friends in the arms industry, and killing civilians, of course. In fact, as the Saudis were behind 9/11 and are funding al-Qaeda and ISIS, we have absolutely no business giving them any further aid whatsoever. They are a menace to us and to their neighbours in the Middle East.

Reagan’s Lies: Libyan Terrorists Invade from Canada

January 29, 2016

There’s a whole chapter in Alexander Cockburn’s and Jeffrey St. Clair’s book, End Times: The Death of the Fourth Estate, on the lies, propaganda and general vileness of Ronald Reagan. Reagan, remember, told Americans that the Contra rebels, who were responsible for some of the worst atrocities in the Nicaraguan civil war in the 1980s were ‘the moral equivalent of our Founding Fathers’. Cockburn remarks drily that the Iroquois would have agreed. And just in case anyone is in the doubt that Reagan was Fascist sympathiser, he apparently told his audience in Spain that the Lincoln Brigade and Defenders of the Republic, Americans who fought against Franco in the Spanish Civil War, were on the wrong side. Among the terror groups Reagan sponsored were RENAMO in Mozambique and UNITA in Angola, as well as Rios Montt’s band of torturers in Guatemala. And the CIA left a torture manual in El Salvador.

But it’s some of the propaganda that really makes you, like Matilda, gasp and stretch your eyes. He had a group called ‘Threat Inflaters’, comprising Robert Moss, Clare Sterling and Arnaud de Borchgrave, who were there to exaggerate the Soviet threat. And this they dutifully did. Reagan duly told his audience about an impending invasion from Nicaragua, whose army was coming up through Honduras, Guatemala and Mexico. And in 1987 ABC ran a series, Amerika, in which the Soviet Union conquered the American Midwest. And the Caribbean nation of Grenada just had to be invaded, because it lay on vital sea lanes and so threatened US trade.

To demonise Qaddafi further, the Reaganites planted a story in the media about a Libyan assassination squad coming into the US from Canada to blow the President away. Or may be it was Mexico. This squad was composed of three to thirteen men. Depending who you listened to, it’s members included three Libyans, three Iranians, and three Syrians, as well as a Palestinian, a Lebanese and someone from East Germany. It came out during the Iran-Contra hearings that this had all been dreamed up by an Israeli secret agent. The CIA was also aware the story was bogus. Cockburn states that a Federal customs officer, who worked on the tunnel from Windsor in Canada to Detroit, told him that they weren’t told to look out for any hit squads, despite this being one of the most obvious and major routes into the US.

Of Reagan’s mendacity and sheer evil, Cockburn states in this pungent passage:

hearing all the warm and fuzzy talk about the Gipper, young people spared the experience of his awful sojourn in office, probably imagine him as a kindly, avuncular figure. He was a vicious man, with a breezy indifference to suffering and consequences of decisions. This indifference was so profound that Dante would surely have consigned him to one of the lowest circles of hell, to roast for all eternity in front of a malfunctioning TV and a dinner tray swinging out of reach like the elusive fruits that tortured Tantalus.

Reagan was a liar, and his lies helped prepare the world for the invasion of Iraq and the consequent bloodbath into which the area has descended. Yet there’s a consistent attempt in America to present him as a great statesman and visionary. The sooner that view is destroyed, the better.