Posts Tagged ‘George W Bush’
Even the brass monkeys needed duffle coats this morning. We codgers have never understood how the boffins calculate the chill factor, which to us is an incomprehensible as Duckworth-Lewis, all we know is that it must have been in the zillions as we cleaned out the hens. On such a day I like to imagine myself as Titus Oates, today I felt like an old shivering geezer shuffling about in an abbatoir deep-freeze unit. It was certainly a relief to retire to the shed, there to wrap my aching digits around a mug of tea laced with rum.
For different reasons it is likely that our wonderful nation’s less than wonderful leaders are also feeling a chill today. The eagerly awaited Observer opinion poll was published last night and it is dramatic. Ukip’s national support has climbed to 17%, more than double the Lib Dem’s all-time low of 8%, so bang goes our theory that the Cleggites are on the up. In fact, given the hostile reception that Master Nick received yesterday at the party’s spring conference, it begins to look as though he is on the way out.
The Conservative share has fallen again and now rests at 27%, whilst Labour at 40% is statistically on course to win the next general election with a majority of 84. A remarkable achievement since Ed Miliband and his pals seem to have done little to stir the public imagination. Clearly all they need to do is sit tight and benefit from the build up of public anger.
Even more worrying for our dear leader are the findings of the poll conducted amongst Conservative party members by Lord Ashcroft. Those expecting their party to secure a majority has fallen to just single figures, and even those expecting to share power in a coalition has halved from 60% to 30% since March 2012. The poll concludes that the Tories are likely to win only 16 of the 109 seats that will be most fiercely contested with Labour.
Overhanging all of this is the tenth anniversary of the invasion of Iraq, an event that arguably triggered the decline of the standing of politicains in the public esteem. When Blair was finally obliged to seek the support of the Commons he received total backing from the Conservatives. Of the main parties at the time only the Lib Dems withheld support.
Today Blair stands accused by Britain’s ambassador to the United States, Sir Christopher Meyer, of having a “black and white view that was more evangelical than even the American Christian Right”. He criticises the unquestioning support of Blair for George W Bush and the total lack of planning for post-war Iraq which led to “a decade of violent chaos and the ultimate humiliation of the ill-equipped British forces”
Stephen Hadley, Mr Bush’s deputy security adviser, says that at a private meeting held 12 months before the invasion Mr Blair committed absolutely to joining the Americans in whatever they decided to do. Mark Etherington, a Foreign Office official put in charge of an entire Iraqi province after the invasion says there were inadequate troops and the British effort was “fatally lacking binding strategy under unified leadership”.
Of course these anniversary ‘revelations’ tell us nothing we did not already suspect. A British prime minister lied to the country and, for his moment of world glory, sacrificed the lives of millions, including so many of our own troops.
From that time on our role-models and heroes have been gleaned ftrom celluloid fantasy, we no longer trust those whom we elect. And now it seems that they have compounded their image of untrustworthiness with incompetence.
As if on cue 25 Tory MPs revealed yesterday that they are hopeful of obtaining the further 20 signatures that would force a leadership challenge. Cameron, they say, is failing to cut spending or taxes to help boost the economy. One of the leading rebels admitted that their main target is George Osborne who has become immensely unpopular within the party, but “we cannot win in 2015 without a change of leadership”.
All the signs are that as one fiasco follows another the back-bench rebels are becoming bolder. This week they will demand that our dear leader becomes more specific about his vague plans for an EU referendum. Amidst all the growing clamour strides Theresa May. She of course professes undying loyalty to the Chipping Norton lad, but is engaged in a series of speeches extolling a new “Vision of Conservatism”. Thatcher mark 2 is on the drawing board!
‘Orange’ regularly tell us that the future is bright. They increasingly sound like a lonely trumpet!
THOUGHT FOR TODAY “Heaven, as conventionally conceived, is a place so inane, so dull, so useless, so miserable, that nobody has ever ventured to describe a whole day in heaven, though plenty have described a day at the seaside!”…..George Bernard Shaw
The arctic spell is over and the monsoons are back. Much better for our range of arthritic conditions says Albert, the rest of us were less sure as we splashed about in the mud surrounding the hen-runs on the allotments this morning. Whoever up there controls the weather seems unprepared to consider a happy medium. Perhaps He/She has become as mad as the health and safety mob now ruling this earthly life. Yesterday they barred Santa Claus from riding on a float that each year travels at walking pace through the streets of Sutton. The 50 year-old custom is too dangerous and only a plastic Father Christmas is now permitted.
It is said that those whom the Gods wish to destroy they first make mad. The reference was to madness as in insanity, but we codgers are becoming consumed by madness as in sheer frustration. Not a day passes but one or other of the noisy pressure-groups sounds forth on something we should all do or not do.
George W Bush once annoyed the French by declaring that they have no word for “entrepeneur”. Unwise to say it, but we understood his drift. A country and its culture can be defined by its vocabulary. The Italians have no word for “leadership, the Germans no word or “small talk”, the Eskimos no word for “war”. Some concepts are simply alien to some cultures, which is why the Brits have no word for “Kulturkampf”, the practice of dividng a nation into warring tribes.
But we are reaching the point where we will have to invent one. And there is no better example than the constant hysteria of gay rights activists. We codgers believe to a man that everyone has the right to their own sexuality and to marry whoever they wish. What we don’t believe in is labelling. A man or woman is popular, well liked or loathed according to their approach to others. The fact that they are straight or gay is, we believe, totally irrelevant.
Yet today we have a report criticising the BBC which it concludes should be “bolder and more creative in its depiction of lesbian, gay and bisexual people”. Such people are, says the report, “still relatively invisible” across both the Beeb and the media at large. The BBC is praised for high-profile Gay presenters such as Clare Balding and Sue Perkins.
Perhaps we codgers are the dynosaurs of legend, but we fail to follow the logic here. Clare and Sue are excellent presenters, always a joy to watch. What in heaven’s name does their sexuality have to do with anything? Are we now to have another ratio to join the one for people of different races? We are all human beings, why do we have to be labelled according to our colour or sexual leanings? Will we in due course hear pressure for stamp-collectors to be seperately identified?
It is good that our society, or most of it, has reached an age of tolerance. Now we are beginning to tear it apart by introducing labelling, the creation of seperate groups led by fanatics who talk of little else but sectional interests. The end result will be even worse than the days of bigotry we have left behind.
In writing this we are of course doing the equivalent of spitting into the wind. But we are surely not alone in believing in live and let live, in all men being equal. We fear the day when law will require us to officially declare our sexuality, especially since in a group like ours the subject has become but a distant memory!
Another dark, dank morning greeted us as we crept on to the allotments. Part of all the hen-runs are covered but our avian charges are not blessed with a great deal of grey matter so they immediately gather out in the rain and stand around looking like Nick Clegg. For some reason or other Sam was prattling on about the good old USA. In a nutshell he is not a fan of things American, a sentiment born of several years working over there. If I have heard him say once that the only good thing in the States is the road out, I have heard it a hundred times!
I wouldn’t go that far, but have to confess that in my time there I did find some of the locals a little hard to bear. I remember one large lady telling me at an official dinner that she had flown in to Heathrow and been intrigued with “all those rows of little houses”. But, she assured me, we have no need to fear for “George W Bush will protect you”. We don’t take prisoners here” she added in a thunderous drawl.
But of course they do. And they don’t treat them very well. The record of torture used on political prisoners is hardly something to be proud of, and the instant punishments meted out to those arrested before they are tried and convicted are appalling. Take the latest example. Dominique Strauss-Kahn, the head of the International Monetary Fund was taken from a departing plane and charged with rape, something that he vehemently denies. Of course, to quote Many Rice Davies, he would say that anyway. But the point is that he has yet to be convicted of anything. And where is he being held pending any sort of a trial?
On Rikers Island, thats where. There he will be confined to a window-less four metre cell and given food that rats would baulk at. Rikers is harsh, loud and dangerous. Famous people are preyed upon and the prison has a notorious reputation for violence. A 2009 New York Times investigation alleged a culture of “self-policing”, with guards looking the other way as prisoners attacked and even killed other inmates. After one recent death three former guards and three prisoners are facing charges that they ran a “fight club” in the prison, in which teenage prisoners were encouraged to beat older inmates. The family of Christopher Robinson, 18, are suing for $20m after he died during a beating.
And apart from its treatment of prisoners held merely on remand, the USA is always good for a conspiracy theory. Hopefully that is not the situation here but it was noticeable that within hours of the arrest Tim Geither, the US Treasury secetary, stated that Strauss-Kahn was “obviously not in a position to run the IMF”. The fact that no trial has taken place seemed to have passed him by.
Of course it is not for us to pass judgement on America but do we really have to follow so subservently everything that they do? Do we have to be so besotted? When David Cameron was over there recently he won many plaudits for declaring that in 1940 America and Britain stood together in the face of Hitler and all his works. Wrong. America only entered the war as a result of the Japanese attack on Pearl Harbour. Yes, that is history now but do we really have to rewrite it to curry favour. And did we really have to become embroiled in the Iraq fantasy of George W Bush? No, but Blair was yet another victim of US worship and the so called special realtionship, which usually feels a rather one sided deal on this side of the pond.
Interestingly enough President Obama has distanced himself from our venture in Libya. If he maintains this stance there is a real risk of our becoming more American in attitude than the Americans themselves.
No one should deny that the USA has achieved greatness and is generally a power for good. That, I believe, is not the issue. That is the extent to which we lean over backwards to be called its best friend. The reality is that America will always do what it believes to be in its own best interests. Quite right too.
It is time that we adopted the same strategy. Whether it be in our relationship with America or Europe we seem incapable of fighting our own corner. Our leaders could do worse that dig out Churchill’s History of the English Speaking Peoples! The great man of self understanding knew exactly how to be friends without bowing the knee!
ANSWERS TO YESTERDAY’S EGGHEAD QUIZ; 1. Lord Kitchener 2. Dog Eat Dog 3. One million 4. Albania 5. Monte Cristo 6. A fisherman 7. Stephen Roche 8. First black man to walk in space 9. National Park in Australia 10. Denmark and Sweden
NEW EGGHEADS QUIZ TOMORROW. MEANTIME CONGRATS TO TWO READERS WHO CORRECTLY ANSWERED 8 OUT OF 10. THEY ARE POTENTIAL BBC EGGHEADS!
Slowly but surely Britain and France are being sucked in to what is rapidly becoming a Libyan civil war. Yesterday we had an increase in what an American General once described as mission creep. We are now to send army experts in to advise the rebel forces in what is clearly a contravention of the UN resolution. And by way of extras, French and British planes carried out attacks on Gaddafi’s communications hubs and the Royal Navy submarine Triumph launched Tomahawk cruise missiles in to Tripoli.
None of this has gone down awfully well with the allotment crowd, most of whom believe that the French unusual thirst for battle is the result of the beleagured Sarkozy seeing an opportunity to be heralded a saviour, and Cameron becoming to him what Blair became to George W Bush. Maybe, maybe not, but it is hard to understand why Libya merits our undivided attention whilst adjoining countries face similar nightmares. Because Libya is the one of most strategic importance? No, that’s Syria. But whatever the explanation for our pouring unlimited cash into this venture – each missile costs £800,000 – the fact remains that we are slowly edging into a permanent involvement.
The first British ‘boots on the ground’ will be advisers. As Menzies Campbell pointed out yesterday,Vietnam began with an American president sending military advisers in! The next step will probably involve attacks by Gaddafi on those advisers which will trigger our sending in troops to protect them. By that point ‘defeat’ would be devastating to Sarkozy and Cameron, whose self understanding seems low on this point, and more and more troops will be shipped in. The identity of the so-called rebels is still an unknown and there is at least a possibility that the blood of our personnel will be shed fighting for terrorists.
Of course we were right to play our part in protecting civilians, but there is no logic to say that we should be the main contributor. From this point on we and the French are largely alone in defying the UN resolution and in switching from protection mode to nations at war. In our case there is the even more worrying thought that we are reducing our armed forces to miniscule levels and we are firing off weaponry, the cost of which would already have provided thousnads of nurses or policemen.
Within days now this conflict will have reached the point where the British and French leaders can only withdraw with enormous loss of face. It will quickly become another Afghanistan where everyone really knows that there is no possibility of other than ignominious exit.
Once agin the role of the Lib Dems comes under the spotlight for realistically they are the only ones capable of stopping this mad adventure. Many, like Menzies Campbell, are extremely unhappy but Cameron has Clegg in a vice-like grip.
No one can stop the madness and we can only pray that Gaddafi collapses quickly. If not we will face the prospect of more young men coming home in coffins, having perished in wars that are not our responsibility and which we are no longer equipped to fight!
THOUGHTS FOR TODAY; GOD AND RELIGION; “Men don’t get cellulite. God might just be a man”…..Rita Rudner “Not only is there no God, but try getting a plumber on weekends”……Woody Allen “Only one thing is impossible for God; to find any sense in any copyright law on the planet”……Mark Twain “God may be dead but 50,000 social workers have risen to take his place”……J D McCoughey “When I was a kid I used to pray every night for a new bicycle. Then I realised the Lord doesn’t work that way, so I stole one and asked him to forgive me”……Emo Philips “If you want to make a man very angry tell him you are going to pray for him”…..Edgar W Howe ”I know God is a man. Because if God was a woman She would have made sperm taste like chocolate”…….Carrie Snow “My church accepts all denominations – fivers, tenners, twenties”…..Patrick O’Connell “My favourite characters in the Bible are King David, Delilah and Charlton Heston”…..Milton Berle ” A Christian is a man who feels repentance on a Sunday for what he did on Saturday and is going to do on Monday”…..Thomas Ybarra
ANSWERS TO YESTERDAY’S QUIZ; 1 The police 2. It was deemed to be too noisy
TODAY’S QUESTIONS; 1. What name had Alvin Stardust used back in the 1960s? 1.What is ‘Sting’s ‘ original name?
In 1998, members of the allotment shed were part of a delegation that met Tony Blair in London. We came away convinced that here was an honest man. Now we are retired and he is villified to the extent that not one of us is prepared to buy a copy of his book. But even on this he has outwitted us for conscience demands that we make an equivalent payment to the Royal British Legion. Yes we have beome so paranoid about the man that we suspect the Legion move was merely a ploy to avoid the ignomony of publishing a flop. And herein hangs the tale for once trust is lost it is lost forever and on all things. This week’s saga involving the Pakistan bowlers provides a perfect analogy, whenever they play and however honourably, part of us will suspect every delivery.
The long-heralded book was on display in Waterstones this morning and was on offer at half price, but the ferreter’s pledge left me with no option than to rely on the copious coverage in the various newspapers. If they are a true reflection it would seem that with just three exceptions, the whole world that Mr Blair inhabited was populated by fools. The Queen was ‘haughty’, Princess Di ‘manipulative’, Gordon Brown ‘impossible’, Alistair Campbell ‘a madman’ and a long list of others who have lost the Blair seal of approval. The three saints were God – clearly more than a saint, but you know what I mean – Alex Fergusson and George W Bush. The latter clearly still shines like the brightest star in the darkened Blair sky.
Of course we were all waiting for the truth about Iraq. However, our former hero seems to have changed the case for the defence. He now claims that there was evidence that Saddam would acquire weapons of mass destruction at some future date. Doesn’t really explain the catalogue of lies and misrepresentations we suffered does it? Even more astonishing is the admission that neither he nor Bush anticipated the nightmare situation that developed once the short invasion was over. Since every old boy in every library reading room had worked out that the culture was not amenable to democracy as we know it that, if anything, makes things worse. Clearly they gave no thought whatsoever to anything but blasting the Iraqi army from the face of the earth.
Interestingly Blair seems to evade the issues surrounding the strange death of Dr Kelly but he does pay tribute to the vast numbers who lost their lives as a result of his deception. To be fair his words may well be sincere ones. But we are back to the same problem, if he misled us on one thing how can we know that he is not doing the same here.
It is for Gordon Brown that Mr Blair reserves his real bile. Perhaps revealing is his claim that Grumpy tried to de-throne him over the cash-for-honours scandal. Maybe Mr Brown thought it a dishonest practice? But no, his arch enemy chooses to believe that his chancellor was plotting for plotting sake. I can’t pretend to know but all the politicians I have chatted to describe Brown as honest to the point of intolerance. He went down badly on the doorsteps but that was down to his lack of inter-personal skills rather than his lack of integrity. In a sea of spin-doctors- surely another name for clever liars- our Gordon stood out like the gap in Terry Thomas’s teeth.
But it seems that Mr Blair did make some mistakes. Ah you say, here comes Iraq or Afghanisatan. No, it was in banning fox-hunting! Now I’m really confused, was that not a central aim in the Labour dream? Well maybe but he is talking of NEW Labour and treats his former collaegues to the warning that any retreat from the new bit spells doom. I am really struggling on this because I can never detect the difference between what Blair, Mandelson and all, dressed up in the name and what Cameron now espouses. Surely New Labour is little more than centre conservatism?
It is hard not to feel pity for the man who once swept to power on the sheer strength of his eloquence and likeability. But no tears can wash away the hard fact that Tony Blair and his inner clique deceived the nation and cost thousands of lives for no good reason. Like those bowlers he will undoubtedly continue to trot out good performances but few of us will ever feel able to give him the benefit of the doubt. Headlines today quote Blair as saying that he knew a Brown premiership would be a disaster for Labour.
That really sums up the delusions with which he still wraps himself. It was he that destroyed Labour’s election prospects and, considering how the odds were stacked, Brown did a surprisingly good job to prevent Cameron enjoying a lnadslide victory.
So enjoy your wealth, your nine houses and your good memories Tony but do come to terms with the fact that your love affair with us serfs is now just that, a memory of that Journey that led to infamy.
CRICKET; PIETERSON SHOULD GROW UP!
The last thing the game of cricket need this morning was more damaging headlines but Kevin Pieterson managed to provide some! He choose twitter to reveal his exclusion from the England one-day squad to play Pakistan and threw in obscene language to ensure that we understood the extent of his outrage. So much for team spirit!
It obviously hasn’t occurred to him that a factor may be his failure to score any runs of late. One imagines that the selectors see the benefit of his playing some county cricket pending return of his usually excellent form. One also imagines that they may now decide to prolong his absence for a few months longer to give him time to work on his self understanding!
DOCTOR IN BLOODGATE RUGBY SCANDAL RIGHTLY ACQUITTED
The General Medical Council was surely right to limit the punishment of Dr Wendy Chapman who admitted to agreeing to make a small nick to the mouth of Harlequins star Tom Williams when he faked injury.
Dr Chapman has been under a great deal of stress having endured cancer surgery. What she did, doubtless under pressure from others, was daft but hardly more than that. As Shakespeare had it, mercy blesseth him that gives and him that takes!
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ANSWERS TO YESTERDAY’S QUIZ: 1. 1972 2. Bhutan
TODAY’S QUESTIONS; 1. Where were the 1978 Commonwealth Games staged? 2. In which event did England reach the final in 1978, for the first time in 41 years?