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* * *

I was at the office for the State of the Union address. This may only be 9pm for those of you fortunate to live in the continental United States, but for those of us living in the 51st state, it's 3am.

So the SotU was merely the icing of bluebottles on the stinking cowpat.

What in the name of screaming indigo fury was with all the applause in between the announcement of initiatives and declarations of "we're going to war; the UN can go piss up a rope"?


It's just undignified sucking up. You don't get that in the House of Commons when Brenda turns up in all her jewellery for the Queen's Speech. (Phil i n tow, looking bad-tempered, like he'd rather be out shooting small furry creatures. Or possibly poor people)

No, Brenda just gives it "the my gahvarnment and eaheye..." and the MPs moan "hear, hear" then drop off to sleep again. Brenda then buggers o ff back to the Palace to do her washing or perhaps to instruct the butler to flog some gift from the government of Burkina Faso on eBay. It's really very civilized.

Actually, that's about the only time it is civilized, as MPs are usually very rude to ea ch other. I like this. It's one of the very few instances of politicians being honest.

The present leader of Her Majesty's opposition (I suppose this would be equivalent to the Senate minority leader, but with a little less power but a little more press clout) is a pillock of the first order.

He left his first career because he was too stupid for the army (!!!) and was elected by virtue of the fact that he is more bland, thick and unphotogenic than blancmange, and so none of the Tories could get up th e energy to hate him.

His opponents were a Cambridge-educated smoothie of ambiguous sexuality (there is something oddly Krycek-like about Michael Portillo) and a beer-guzzling jazz enthusiast of the "oh for fuck's sake, just get on with it, you pov scum" school of social responsibility. Both of these had a personality and thus had to be eliminated from the race.

So anyway, Iain Duncan Smith (so called because he got a stick up his bottom the size of the Eiffel Tower at the thought of being plain old I ai n Smith) tried to trade on his *one* advantage: to whit, he hadn't pissed anyone off yet. He gave these long, dull speeches in which he said (and I paraphrase, but only slightly) "You won't like me when I get angry" and "Don't mess with me, for I am th e Quiet Man!"

And for a while, whenever he rose to spoke in the Commons, there would be a rising sea of "Shhhhhhh" sounds, accompanied by sniggering.

* * *

It strikes me that I like my politicians childish.

* * *

I'm not entirely certain where the government I voted for has disappeared off to, but apparently the Labour government have been replaced by bloody *pod people*.

The evidence:

= John Prescott, formerly a trade union firebrand, has ju st told the firefighters that if they persist in a strike in which most of the country agrees they have a good case for a payrise, they will be forced back to work and a new law will be rushed through parliament under which future strikes would be illegal.

ETA: It should be pointed out that while the strike is on, emergency fire cover is provided by the army chaps -- army chaps who will be sorely needed to kick Iraqi bottom, come the war. Hence the intense desire for the dispute to be settled.

= Tony B lair, previously a trumpeter of reform of the House of Lords, announces that having abolished the right of peers to sit in the second chamber, he wants the future Lords to be appointed by the government.

Hands up, who thinks the independent second chamb er of a bicameral legislature should be replaced with an unelected chamber under which appointees are beholden to the party of the day for preferment? He says he wants a chamber of "experts"

No, he wants a chamber of bloody LAWYERS, which will be a pensi on plan for all his mates, who are also lawyers.

Oddly, even though it makes me think that my government has been replaced by pod people, I rather respect the decision to back the US (while disagreeing with it) by Tony Blair.

The pop-eyed git.

Unlike Dubya, he gains no electoral advantage from supporting the US so closely. Indeed psephologists and pundits of all stripes seem to think that if there's a terror attack here or the war goes as pear-shaped as it could in the worst case scenario, he will be blamed for it.

If the opposition weren't so shite, they would be making hay out of this now, but alas, the Tories are the traditional sabre-rattling, US-lovin' party so they have to sit tight and snipe at details.

* * *

Incidentally, the Republicans are doing themselves no favours at all by spewing loathing against Germany and France for disagreeing that we need to hurtle into a war which will cause massive instability in one of the most dangerous parts of the world.

Both France and Germany have sound, domestic electoral reasons for not going to war, and almost everyone in Europe has qualms about the Bush administration's unilateralism and its arrogant rhetoric -- and that's even if they are in favour of a war to topple Saddam. (Back us whether you agree with us or not, you lily-livered decadent Eurotrash!)

Believing that a mandate from the United Nations is necessary in order to go to war against a dictator to whom the word "evil" most definitely applies does not equal anti-Americanism, and no amount of ugly name-calling will change that.

Mr Rumsfeld needs to realise that not agreeing with a very hawkish US administration is not the same as being anti-American *or* best friends with Saddam Hussein -- or being a coward.

* * *
The SotU address was an odd mixture of predictable, unpredictable and OhMyGodWhatAreYouThinkingOF?

The most worrisome part, of course, was that the US has now said it will not wait fo r a mandate from the UN to go to war. I think that's foolish because there's no love for Saddam anywhere in the world and the best chance of getting rid of him this time is to gain backing, albeit grudging, from the rest of the world.

I wouldn't say I w as a dove on the issue, not compared to some people in our office, but I think the UN mandate is the only way we should go to war.

Also I have to say that I am not certain how exactly the sums will add up.

The US is certainly in a better economic state than its people would appear to believe, judging from consumer confidence figures. Its economy is growing faster than all of its major rivals but the stock market lows are obscuring that. The stock market situation will improve once the war starts because uncertainty is the killer, not conflict.

This is part of the reason why the Bush administration is urging against the inspectors being given more time. The US economy has to recover -- in terms of a feelgood factor and improving stock markets -- ready fo r the election in 2004. The longer this drags on, the less likely it is that the economic boost of a wartime economy will be felt in time for 2004 campaigning. The Bushes are one family unlikely to forget that it's the economy, stupid.

With the tax cuts and the bill for war, how are these things to be afforded?

The war will be expensive and there are few signs that the outside world is willing to finance it. In 1991, Japan and Germany picked up a hefty tab for the Gulf war. This time, there will be no such deals.

If the US goes to war with Iraq without UN backing, its allies will be Britain, Australia and possibly a truncated European coalition of Spain, Italy and a Nordic country or two.

The war will be won by the US because of air superiority, though most estimates suggest that up to half a million Iraqis will be killed or injured and the victory may take longer than we all assume, depending on
the strength of Iraqi resistance on the ground and what happens to Saddam Hussein.

Whatever occurs, you're looking at a substantially longer version of US protection than was the case in Afghanistan (where, incidentally, the warlord Gulbuddin Hekmatyar is pushing, with some success, for an Islamist state and a return to the repressive laws of the Talib an. So much for that 'liberation of the Afghan people'. I guess you can only liberate a people when the ones with the guns want to be liberated. Talk about a no-win situation)

This protectorate stage will be lengthy, bloody and *damned* expensive and the US taxpayers will be shouldering the burden, if Bush unilaterally declares war. The reason for that is that if they try to pay for it by exploiting Iraq's substantial oil fields, it will be seen as confirmation that this was a war about oil.

Saddam is likely to set the oil fields afire and blow up well heads anyway come the invasion, so that's bad news for the Iraqi people, who will be living in environmental hell, but jolly good news for Halliburton and good ol' Uncle Dick.

Moving back to the speec h, I notice that Bush has launched a huge new Aids initiative, for which I applaud him.

However, I can't help noticing also that part of this intiative could have been accomplished a month ago, when Cheney scuppered a deal to secure cheap generics for d eveloping world countries at the eleventh hour at the behest of the pharmaceutical lobby.

This money will not be going to the Global Fund for Combating Aids, TB and Malaria, the main international body charged with fighting the epidemic -- instead it will be spent on bilateral deals with about 17 countries, mostly in Africa.

I suspect that part of the reason for this is the US wanting those countries to know exactly who their benefactor is. Fair enough I suppose, given the strain of militant Islamism thriving in parts of Africa and the fact that it's US money.

The US doesn't get enough credit for the good it does and it's used as the excuse for the bad that others do.

Still dislike Mr Bush.

* * *

Some links that I found interesting:

The torture trail that led to September 11

This is a two-part investigation into how the use of torture in Middle
Eastern countries forged the kind of Islamist militants wh o could
contemplate the horror of 9/11. I found it completely absorbing.

"Stormin' Norman says don't rush to war

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Comments

( 11 comments — Leave a comment )
leadensky
Jan. 30th, 2003 08:12 pm (UTC)
I skipped this the first time, because, well. So damn tired of listening to people rant about hating Bush.

Now I'm feeling half embarrassed for not trusting my 'quaintances more, and half shaking with near-miss aftershock. (I'm not saying you've reached Churchill heights of oration, but I should have read this the first time.)

Thank you for putting your thoughts out.

- hossgal
infinitemonkeys
Jan. 31st, 2003 04:47 am (UTC)
If I write about politics in here now, I think of you and a couple of others, because you've helped me understand -- more than any magazine or newspaper -- what the intelligent American rightwinger's mindset is. We don't tend to get much of that in our media, we just get the rhetoric, and that's all too easy to dismiss.

It's easy to mock (and hey, it's a hobby!) but "nyah nyah, you suck" ultimately doesn't get me very far. I hope it doesn't seem pompous to thank you for writing about politics in an environment which may seem uncongenial to you at times.
vaznetti
Jan. 30th, 2003 08:26 pm (UTC)
I know you have plenty of important stuff here, but I must go write Portillo/Mulder slash now.
infinitemonkeys
Jan. 31st, 2003 04:35 am (UTC)
Portillo/Mulder slash. I suppose I deserve to have that image branded on my brain. (so scarily plausible in an RPF/FPF crossover hell kind of way... *g*)

What about Krycek/Peter Lilley slash if we're doing swapovers?

Alex is prettier than Portillo though.n
vaznetti
Jan. 31st, 2003 05:33 am (UTC)
I suppose I deserve to have that image branded on my brain.

Well, that's the thing about those really awful mental images. You have to share the pain. (And yes. What frightens me most is that one could write that and make it work.) I'm not so sure about Krycek/Lilley, although I can't think of who I'd substitute.
sophia_helix
Jan. 30th, 2003 09:22 pm (UTC)
Oh, good. When you said you'd deleted it I was going to beg you to put it back up, just for this:

You don't get that in the House of Commons when Brenda turns up in all her jewellery for the Queen's Speech. (Phil i n tow, looking bad-tempered, like he'd rather be out shooting small furry creatures. Or possibly poor people)

I wanted to show it to Alex, because he-who-will-not-admit-his-mother-is-English loves to mock England. *g*

.m, shallow about politics
jcello
Jan. 31st, 2003 03:53 am (UTC)
Thank you for re-posting this! It was an even better read the second time around.
jood
Jan. 31st, 2003 08:44 am (UTC)
Thank you so much for reposting this. I missed it the first time around.


What in the name of screaming indigo fury was with all the applause in between the announcement of initiatives and declarations of "we're going to war; the UN can go piss up a rope"?

Because it's not about serving The People. It's not about The People at all. It's about politics, and preserving their way of life. They all smooch each other's butts so they can continue to be around to wield what little political power they possess.


Actually, that's about the only time it is civilized, as MPs are usually very rude to ea ch other. I like this. It's one of the very few instances of politicians being honest.

I love that, and wish our Senate or House operated that way. I lose my lunch every time I hear, "I yield my remaining minutes to the distinguished gentleman from South Carolina," because it's such unbelievable asskissy horseshit. I also miss the mass slamming of hands on desks like they did in Canada when I was growing up.


Hands up, who thinks the independent second chamb er of a bicameral legislature should be replaced with an unelected chamber under which appointees are beholden to the party of the day for preferment? He says he wants a chamber of "experts"

No, he wants a chamber of bloody LAWYERS, which will be a pensi on plan for all his mates, who are also lawyers.


Here in the U.S. we call these people who distinguish themselves with personal service to the leader, "Presidential judicial nominees." We're facing confirmation of one right now. The House passed him in what was an HILARIOUS topsy-turvying of conventional politics. The man in question is a lawyer up for a spot on a federal bench. His resume is extremely weak, consisting mostly of having been Bush's legal counsel during the election debacle. Now if the Senate confirms him, he'll have his payoff. The flipflop? He is Hispanic, which the conservative Republicans are salivating over, uncharacteristically. Now when Democrats question the man's qualifications, the Republicans scream, "RACISM!!" Comedy gold, my friend.


This is part of the reason why the Bush administration is urging against the inspectors being given more time. The US economy has to recover -- in terms of a feelgood factor and improving stock markets -- ready fo r the election in 2004. The longer this drags on, the less likely it is that the economic boost of a wartime economy will be felt in time for 2004 campaigning. The Bushes are one family unlikely to forget that it's the economy, stupid.

Which is a positively BRILLIANT insight, and which makes me even angrier, if it's possible. Because he's not trying to fix the economy for the sake of his country's people by fixing the economy. No, he's doing the same CYA slamdance all big politicians do when they're beholden to and supported by Big Business. It's a kind of unbreakable power chain, and it gives them enormous leeway to fulfill their personal agendas, even if those agendas kill hundreds of thousands - if not millions - of innocent civilians. It's selfish and shortsighted and if there is a God and there is a hell...well, it's one bloody great audition.


Moving back to the speec h, I notice that Bush has launched a huge new Aids initiative, for which I applaud him.

Because he got shithammered from nearly every side for his initial plan that withdrew funding from any plan that even *mentioned* condoms verbally in patient consultations.


Thank you for your impressions of things from your side of the pond. Most interesting. I'm off to read the torture article.
se_parsons
Jan. 31st, 2003 10:15 am (UTC)
Modern politics makes me long for the good old days...


http://www.npg.si.edu/exh/brady/gallery/106gal.html

http://jefferson.village.virginia.edu/seminar/unit4/brooks.html

I wish I could believe AT ALL that any of this had anything to do with the Iraqui people and trying to create stability in the region. ALL it has to do with is election politics, the American economy and oil interests. Bush's entire policy is set and determined by oil interests. If Blair doesn't see this and is trying to be big about it, he is not with the American agenda.

That shit about helping people with AIDS was a sop to drug companies. Bush stopped the means to PREVENT INFECTION, but will give drugs to prolong the lives of infected people. I am sure there will also be some sort of religious aspect. Like, they have to allow in Christian missionaries to distribute the medicine. I will bet money on this.

His crazy ass shit about hydrogen powered cars was a smokescreen to hide his tax cut for SUV owners, clearcutting of forests, higher polution rates, drilling in federally protected lands and a lot of other crazy bullshit I've been posting links to all this time.

He has nothing to prove Saddam must be attacked RIGHT NOW. He does have a lot of proof Saddam is bad. Everyone knows Saddam is bad. Why aren't we hearing about Quaddafi and other equally bad people in the region? Because they're not sitting on oil Bush's buddies want, that's why. War with Iraq means profit for Bush's friends and reelection for himself, he thinks.

Evil, evil shit. Where is someone with a cane when you need them?

o
jood
Jan. 31st, 2003 10:25 am (UTC)
Bush stopped the means to PREVENT INFECTION

I read yesterday that he, very very quietly, eliminated that provision, so as not to incur the ire of his anticondom buddies. Besides, facing great editorials out there like this, it's amazing his administration got past their own contentious crap and got anything accomplished on that end.

(Deleted comment)
( 11 comments — Leave a comment )