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Politics

When the wrong guy is the right guy

Jeremy Corbyn vs Owen Smith

Jeremy Corbyn believes he can win the Labour leadership by a landslide as it emerged that more than 180,000 people have paid £25 to vote in the contest. [JG - By my calculation that an extra £4.5 million quid]

Allies of Mr Corbyn were left jubilant by the late surge, predicting the vast majority were his backers and claiming rival Owen Smith would be left “crying his eyes out” at the news.

Moderates had attempted to shut down the chances of new joiners by upping the price from £3 and restricting registration to a 48-hour period, but people signed up at the remarkable rate of one a second.

While the 183,541 people who applied are still being vetted, they are expected to make up around a quarter of the total group voting on the next leader – meaning they could swing the result.

Labour leadership race: Jeremy Corbyn camp jubilant as 180,000 people join to vote in 48 hours

I know that the apocryphal belief is that the vast majority of these new members are from the Militant sorry Momentum group of Labour supporters who have a hard-left interpretation of what they think Labour should be doing and for them, the incompetent Jezza is just the man for the job.

For those of us who joined the Labour party to get Jezza elected in the first place [JG - *whistles tunelessly and looks around the room*] he has been a great investment in chaos, anarchy and disorder. In fact the only thing that caught me by surprise was that he nearly did the decent thing and resigned until a backbone stiffening session and stern talking-to by erstwhile comrade John McDonnell and others.

So the vote is coming up and Jezza is on the ballot to the great chagrin of the Parliamentary Labour Party and a minority of the NEC. They’ve fudged the rules as far as they were able to undermine Jeremy Corbyn’s support base, but have underestimated the lengths his supporters will go to in order to save their valiant leader (and adding £4.5 million in new subs to the Labour Party is a surprisingly long way).

I know that some of you have concerns about Jezza being accidentally thrust into Downing Street and I admit that is a possibility, but the greater probability is that his re-election will lead to a significant split in the Parliamentary Labour Party with the majority of Labour MP’s either forming a new centre-left party (possibly with the piss-poor remnants of the Liberal Democrats) or just plain sitting as independent Labour MP’s without the whip.

The chance to destroy Labour once and for all is too great to miss, so I’m voting again for Jezza as the Lord of Misrule. “Io Saturnalia!

Jeremy Corbyn - JezWeCan

He who wields the dagger seldom wears the crown

Leadsom versus May

Theresa May and Andrea Leadsom will battle it out to become the next leader of the Conservative Party after Michael Gove was eliminated from the contest.

After the second MPs’ ballot, Home Secretary Mrs May finished with 199 votes, Energy Minister Mrs Leadsom 84 and Mr Gove, the justice secretary, 46.

Conservative members will now decide the winning candidate, with the result due on 9 September.

The winner will become the UK’s second female prime minister.

It may be a rough old piece of political dogma, but it is seldom wrong. Thus both of the main Tory hopeful’s amongst the BRExiters are eliminated, BoJo by the hand of Gove and Gove by the Tory MP’s in Westminster. So much for political murder as an act of principle. I doubt we will see that particular excuse used again for quite a while.

So, come what may the next Prime Minister of the United Kingdom will be a lady and this political first (an all women final lineup), comes courtesy of the Tory party. I hope Harriet Harperson is choking on her cucumber sandwiches this afternoon.

Between the two of them I have issues. Although May has proven a capable Home Secretary, she has often taken a very illiberal attitude to both civil and personal liberties, so I certainly would not want her in the top job if she intends to continue in that vein.

I would also remind the hard of thinking that Theresa May supported “Remain” in the referendum and even if she did so out of loyalty to David Cameron, how can I trust her to execute Article 50 in a timely fashion and also to be a strong supporter of whichever negotiator we send in to deal with the exit negotiations.

Angela Leadsom is new and relatively unproven, but she supported BRExit and has got the balls (figuratively if not literally) to carry it through.

So, I would countenance those who have a vote in the Tory Leadership election as members of the Conservative Party to vote for “Angela Leadsom” on Friday 9 September

Join Labour and you can ride in a pink minivan

Britain will now go bust – official

Well de facto official anyway. You may have noticed Osborne (who seems to go down in my estimation daily) sneaking out a statement that he will not now balance the budget in 2020. Now in one sense this is like me confirming I won’t be fly-half on the next Lions tour, but the significance of it is gigantic.

He of course hid behind Brexit which is laughable. He doesn’t have the data to support that claim and wouldn’t have real world data for at least 12 months, government statisticians being what they are. But it’s a fig leaf; he was never going to get close thanks to the absurd electoral auction we now play. Tell the truth (I.e. funds to the NHS are obviously limited by realty) lose the election. The ongoing circus about leadership of the parties was also the proverbial “good day” to bury catastrophic, terminal news.

So the Tories said lots of things that people wanted to hear which weren’t true (in fairness so did everyone else). However, they were at least pretending to try to balance the budget. McDonnell and Corby actually welcomed this news (sic).

So we now have a structural deficit which one party can’t address and the other thinks is a good idea. So the interest payment on a debt which can only rise, must go up annually until it reaches the point where it can no longer be supported. And contrary to the absurd, anti-mathematical, anti-historical, anti-sanity opinions, deficits do matter.

So it is now clear the UK (and most other Western nations) will default. Just think about that for a moment, no politician can balance the books and none are trying any more. So the question becomes one of how, not if.

The two basic options are hard default or soft default. Hard default a la Greece is unlikely as we can still counterfeit our own money, or QE as its known. This is the crack cocaine of economics. One time it feels painless and it’s ‘free’ money, so you knew the politicians would be back to it.

But we all know what happens when you print your way to wealth as countless countries have found out. This is in our future.

We can expect more financial repression and I’ll bet on capital controls again in the later stages. I wouldn’t exclude Greek style cash withdrawal limits from banks and possibly negative interest rates. This is the ultimate failure. It is the road to ruin and some very nasty populism. And it now seems inevitable.

Game of Thrones in Westminster

I was talking to someone shortly before yesterday lunchtime who claimed to have been at a party over the weekend. He said he saw Boris have a breakdown, wailing “it wasn’t supposed to be like this” Bollocks, I thought to myself, name dropping twat. Then an hour or so later, BoJo withdrew. Rather made me think it perhaps there was some truth in it. That said, maybe Gove just knifed him. Extraordinary behaviour either way. I’m rather pissed however, because the late withdrawal means we won’t now get Priti Patel who had backed him.

Teresa looks too much like a school teacher to me, when ever I see her I wonder if I’ve done my maths homework. Gove looks too ugly and weird. Superficial I know, but important in the TV/internet age. He’s very intelligent, but could he win an election (against someone credible) I didn’t take Stephen Crabb at all seriously, but in a rubbish field, he could well do something. Teresa is still bookies fave, but who knows?

That however, is not very amusing compared to the hilarious goings-on in the Laurel and Hardy tribute party formerly known as Labour. Now it is true that the reason for the existence of Labour is now in question. A party formerly based in the industrial heartlands, when no such lands exist anymore has problems. The Tories have triangulated Labour out of any sane manifesto pledges (you cannot possibly claim you’ll spend more than Osborne and be taken seriously, as Labour discovered when Rachel Reeves was shredded by Brillo one day). So really what is Labour for? Why does anyone positively vote for Labour? They face destruction and they don’t know how to address this. Even if they killed Corbyn, all you would get is an Eagle or Lisa Nandy, none strike me as great thinkers. Blairism is hopelessly discredited so no answers from the “right” of the party.

So a logical response would be a root and branch policy review and y’know, thought before dogma. However Labour elect a 67 year old Marxist who has a Maoist as chief of staff, who won’t resign despite 80% of his own MPs opposing him (can he imagine he can go into an election now?)

So if someone eventually stands against him and Corby gets on the ballot, he wins again. In which case, Labour either give up on 2020 completely and most of the MP’s sulk, hope they are not deselected and wait for 2025? Useless for the senior figures as by then they are too old.

Or they could do a modern SDP breakaway. Each option is horrible, you can’t have as a plan “do nothing for 9 years” Similarly, they will all remember the SDP’s fate.

If they didn’t let Corby onto the ballot paper, he would surely sue. In any event, the grassroots would go ballistic and deselect the centrist MP’s anyway. Both factions* would in truth like the Labour brand and each would like to boot out the other. And again, if they do let him on the ballot paper, he wins again.

So that leaves no opposition to speak of for the Conservatives, so needless to say, they will engage in a civil war of their own; with no credible predators on the horizon, one takes the opportunity to destroy one’s enemies in the party (and Brexit will make the 19th century Irish question look tame by comparison), this will be the real show in the next four years.

Unless, unless, unless there is an economic catastrophe (by no means impossible) in which case, a few idiots pop up on TV and say it’s all down to ‘capitalism’ and the herd votes Labour again. In which case PM Jezza if he hangs on. This would quickly usher in the final stages of the collapse as we became Northern Venezuela. Politics has become quite interesting again.

The Campaign is over – now it’s up to you

Vote Leave - Last Day of Campaigning on June 22nd 2016 (Smaller)

In the last month or so I’ve delivered thousands of leaflets, button-holed hundreds of voters and hopefully changed the minds of at least some of them from unsure, or remain to Vote “Leave”. No-one can ever measure the real impact that they’ve had on any campaign because it goes from nil through infinitesimal to negligible.

What matters is the difference that we make in aggregate, across hundreds of constituencies from the Shetland Islands to Gibraltar and that ultimately is now in the hands of the electorate.

I have guided, advised and cajoled, but after I put out my 30 boards at polling stations around Perth and Kinross, between 04:30 and 07:00 hrs tomorrow, that is an end to my roll as a campaigner, my role then becomes that of an official observer for the “Leave” campaign to ensure that the votes people make, both for “Leave” and “Remain” are accurately represented.

I feel somewhat humbled to be quite honest, but I will do my very best to ensure that the genuine will of the people is expressed, even if the vote goes against us. I have no problem becoming a defeated underdog, because I have fought hard for something that I believe in, right or wrong.

One way or another, tomorrow will be a defining moment for Britain, “Leave” or “Remain”…

The Vulture Award

The VA (aka Vacuous Arsehole) is a new award given to politicians, or just about anyone in public office, for making mortuary mileage out of a tragic demise.

The first winner of this prestigious medal is Maria Eagle, Labour MP for Garston and Halewood, for attempting to link yeserday’s appalling attack on, and subsequent death of, Labour MP Jo Cox,  a supporter of Remain, to the Brexit campaign.  Eagle is also awarded the DSB (Distinguished Steward’s Bar) for being lower than a worm’s anus; a stone hearted bitch who puts politics before whatever shred of humanity she might possess.

Someone should take Eagle aside and explain that you never go full retard, especially before the facts are known.  Contemptible actions by individuals like Eagle, to name but one of many, are the reason the public despises and distrusts so many politicians.

Feel free to make your own nominations for the award.  The field is target rich after all.

 

I probably don’t need to say it but I’m going to anyway.  Our thoughts are with Jo’s family and friends.  The senseless violence that took her from this world and her loved ones cannot go unpunished.  The person responsible should be locked up for the rest of his life and the key thrown away.  No one deserves to die the way Jo Cox did.  All she was trying to do was help.  RIP Jo Cox.

John Lydon was Right…

Yes, he was. This was a man who called (as close as he could) “cuddly” family entertainers like Saville way back. John Lydon was called by the press the most dangerous risk to British kids since Hitler. There is no evidence of him ever doing that. In fact he has been married for nearly 40 years without a hint of scandal.

Three points:

The BBC is (along with the NHS) the most loved establishment in the UK (but have you seen the stuff on Sky of late?)

The BBC has a lot of vile critters who ought to be shot.

But the British have a long tradition of contrarians like Lydon and we need them. They are the counterweight to the box-tickers of the BBC who only prove how much complacent shit you can stack in a Burton’s suit.

FDA puts the squeeze on vaping

Vape Away

The federal government on Thursday banned the sale of e-cigarettes to anyone under the age of 18 and required manufacturers to disclose their ingredients and submit their products to the government for approval.

The Food and Drug Administration’s action, which represents the first time the government has regulated the booming market of e-cigarettes, seeks to clamp down on devices that have become increasingly popular, especially among young people, even as they have been subject to almost no oversight.

The agency, which first said it intended to regulate e-cigarettes in 2014, also imposed the regulations on cigars, hookahs and pipe tobacco.

The effort is a response to long-standing concerns about what health experts call a “Wild West” atmosphere involving the multi-billion dollar e-cigarette industry. The battery-powered devices heat up flavoured, nicotine-laced liquid, turning it into a vapour that the user inhales, or “vapes.

Washington Post – The federal government is about to begin regulating the booming e-cigarette market

Not very surprising, because the absence of the dead hand of government regulation on the emerging vaping industry has long irritated governments, both in Washington, across the states and abroad.

Why should they steal customers from big tobacco and yet not kneel before the powers that be in Washington so that they can get their slice of the relatively lightly regulated and taxed vaping pie?

I smell the stale stench of big tobacco in this as well, for the vaping culture has cut into their US revenues and both big tobacco and local and state governments are losing out.

Key Pointers:

  • The new regulations generally require manufacturers whose products went on sale after Feb. 15, 2007, to get approval from the agency to continue selling their products. These reviews will allow the FDA to scrutinize ingredients, product design and health risks, the agency said. It added that it will allow the companies to keep selling their products for two years while they submit their applications and then for an additional year while the FDA reviews the submissions.
  • The rules also ban the distribution of free samples. Officials suggested they might eventually consider banning flavours in cigars and e-cigarettes, but said the topic needs more research. [JG - Let me guess...Cannabis flavour perhaps??]
  • In recent weeks, the e-cigarette industry has gotten support from some public health experts. In late April, a group of tobacco-control experts, writing in the journal Addiction, urged the FDA to be “open-minded” about e-cigarettes, saying that the products can result in a reduction in traditional smoking. And recently, the Royal College of Physicians concluded that e-cigarettes were likely to be beneficial to public health in Britain.

The long and the short of it is that by medicalising vaping they can put the brakes on an industry that they feel is under-regulated and under-taxed, and in so doing, slow down tax loses from tobacco revenues and appease the lobbyists of big tobacco.

This is all very well and not very surprising, but the problem with vaping is that the key ingredients of vaping fluid are fairly common-place, essentially propylene glycol or vegetable glycerine for the liquid, diluted nicotine and flavouring.

So excessive government intervention at this stage could probably lead to the entire industry going underground as home-made or black market manufacture. Given the pressure on tax revenues and from tobacco lobbyists I suspect that draconian is going to be the way to go for quite a while…

The Only Real Truth in Politics

The Only Real Truth in Politics

I did in fact lie yesterday when I said I would vote “None of the Above” as I was unaware that UKIP were on the ballot. Still a 50% political commitment is better than most politicians, isn’t it?

After all, voting UKIP in Scotland is as much a “F*** YOU!” as anything else isn’t it? Might even do some good.

Scottish Libertarians? – Better luck next time.

If I’d actually have heard anything from you prior to arriving at the ballot box I might have voted for you. As it is “libertarian” is bandied about by too many on the centre left for me to take your word on it.

P.S. – Yes, I have read section 66(3) of the Representation of the People Act 1983 and if the rossers want to arrest me for it they are welcome. It will just give me another platform on which to say to all politicians at large “You’re all gits and I hate you“.

Here endeth the lesson.

Voting with Mother

One Child One Vote

While I am not a great believer in the democratic process, when given the opportunity to vote* I make the effort to do so, even if it is just to send the message to “those who would rule us” that they are all a bunch of gits and I hate them.**

My voting pattern has shifted from the tribal Labour of my youth, through core Conservatism in my thirties, followed by a brief flirtation with Liberal Democracy before emerging into the rightful libertarian anarchy of spoilt ballot papers in my forties.

Given that the current incumbent in my constituency is SNP (Scottish National Socialist German Workers Party) and his nearest rival is the candidate for Jeremy Corbyn’s reanimated corpse of Old Labour some Tory twit named Murdo Fraser, I suspect that a spoilt ballot will again be my personal choice with “None of the above” scrawled across the ballot.

None of the Above

That being said, there is a bit of a difference with my visit to the voting booth on Thursday as this will be my first involvement in devolution (voting for a member of the Scottish Parliament to represent my constituency here in Perth), but also I will not be the youngest voter there, not by a long chalk.

It will be the first parliamentary election in Scotland in which 16 and 17 year olds will be able to vote, under the provisions of the Scottish Elections (Reduction of Voting Age) Act.

Scottish Parliament Election 2016

I’m a great believer in the viewpoint that “No taxation without representation” works both ways and since, by-and-large 16 and 17 year old’s don’t pay tax (VAT accepted), I don’t believe they should have the vote.

Indeed the only reason that they have the vote is that Alex Salmond and his bunch of SNP halfwits came to the not very surprising conclusion that 16 and 17 year old’s were a bit more susceptible to lefty propaganda, especially during the 2014 Scottish Independence Referendum.

Now I might be prepared to make an exception for the referendum as it was billed as a “once in a generation” plebiscite and 16 and 17 year old’s had as much to lose as anyone in Scotland, but the extension to other Scottish elections is going too far.

It’s got nothing to do with “expanding democracy” or any of the other meaningless twaddle that is often talked about and everything to do with gerrymandering the ballot because 16 and 17 year old’s are more likely to vote for left-wing parties, after all they have precious little to “Conserve” all of it coming from the Bank of Mum and Dad.

So I’ll be going to the polls much later than usual on Thursday, by which time, I hope, the newly appointed voters will be doing their homework or tucked up in bed with their teddy bear “Aloysius” and a nice hot Ovaltine.

For myself, I’ll be taking a bright red bingo pen and a clothes peg for my nose, after all, its a dirty, smelly business this voting malarkey.

* – When in residence in Penang, Malaysia I am not entitled to vote as Article 119 of the Constitution of Malaysia defines voting rights as only for Malaysian citizens and I hold a mere long-term resident visa.

** - Utter contempt is too mild to describe the depth of my animosity towards politicians, councillors and their ilk.

Shoddy Absurdia

Regular readers will know I have little or no time for the only country on the planet that forbids women from driving. They also stone homosexuals. I on the other hand have got stoned with homosexuals. I have also been in cars driven by women. The times we live in eh?

It’s coming out. I knew. I just knew the camel-fucking bastards were up to their fucking necks in 9/11 (and the rest).

I don’t care for their depravity but depravity is just that. Being implicit in the murder of nigh on 3000 people is another matter entirely. I don’t care if they want to make my ancestors who embuggered monks on Lindisfarne and stole their plate look civilized. But that was over a thousand years ago. Things move on. The last gift my country got from Norway was a Christmas Tree. What have we ever got from Saudi Arabia? Hatred, evil and 15/19 on 9/11.

The time has come…

We build nuclear because Saudi you have nothing but oil. Nothing. I mean nothing. Let’s put this bluntly. This is not Islamophobia – oh, no! This is straight horror at our bending-over for a vile regime. I have visited some of the great Mosques of the World. I was treated with respect and I showed them respect.

I have dirty little secret. I do. I like photographing religious buildings and Islam does seem much more amenable than Catholics for example.

This is not Islam. This is an unspeakably corrupt regime we have enabled.

This has to end. Now.

Oompa Trumper

This is not a post about abortion per-se and I hope any comments reflect that. No, this is about the moral vacuum that is Donald Trump and of the many, many reasons he should never be President his flip-flops on the subject are just one. But one hole is sometimes enough and this should be enough. If you want the full sp then reason has it here. It is a good article. I shall not quote from it directly because I had independently come to much the same conclusions. Great minds think alike? Not really. These are obvious observations.

My distinct impression in the abortion “debate” in the US is that there is usually very little middle-ground and that is why it rages on with immense passion on both sides of the fence. Now, that might seem a bad thing and in some ways it is. My point being that that is because it is something that people’s opinions on come right from the core of their moral being. It is something that whether “pro-choice” or “pro-life”* people care about with a passion. I understand that. I understand why people care fundamentally about either the autonomy of the woman or the rights of the embryo/fetus. It is an important moral question and should be treated as such but The Donald managed to change between five different positions in three days. On such a fundamental issue that is remarkable even by Trump’s lamentable standards. It goes without saying that on something that is also a major political issue in the US and has been for a long time (Roe v. Wade was 40 years ago for example) that is to be, at my most generous, politically naive. No wonder the US Christian Right can’t stand him any more than a fervently “pro-choice” atheist Democrat does.

So what makes The Donald like this?

Well, recently there was a documentary on C4 presented by Matt Frei about the Trumpster. It included an interview with Mr Trump’s ex-butler who now runs a shop in Miami selling high-end tat of the sort that Elvis would have considered tacky for his Jungle Room at Graceland. Frei asked if Trump visited and the answer was in the affirmative. Frei followed up by asking what in particular Trump bought most. The answer was, “mirrors”.

And just like that I knew! Most of us take our moral positions from some sort of basis whether it be the Bible or Marx, The Book of Mormon or those of Ayn Rand. Whatever. It means that we believe in something external to ourselves. Or put it another way our morality is comes from something other than ourselves.

Some people believe in God (for example) and try to follow Him.

Trump though believes he is God. And a capricious one at that. What is right is what is good for The Donald and because He is the supreme being so he can make it up on the fly. I mean who dare question God himself because whatever God says is right is right by definition. Trump is a malignant narcissist. And that more than anything else is why he should never be President of the USA.

*I dislike both those terms.

Schadenfreude in the Panama Papers

The Panama Papers - Mossack Fonseca

The Panama Papers are an unprecedented leak of 11.5m files from the database of the world’s fourth biggest offshore law firm, Mossack Fonseca. The records were obtained from an anonymous source by the German newspaper Süddeutsche Zeitung, which shared them with the International Consortium of Investigative Journalists (ICIJ). The ICIJ then shared them with a large network of international partners, including the Guardian and the BBC.

What do they reveal?
The documents show the myriad ways in which the rich can exploit secretive offshore tax regimes. Twelve national leaders are among 143 politicians, their families and close associates from around the world known to have been using offshore tax havens.

A $2bn trail leads all the way to Vladimir Putin. The Russian president’s best friend – a cellist called Sergei Roldugin – is at the centre of a scheme in which money from Russian state banks is hidden offshore. Some of it ends up in a ski resort where in 2013 Putin’s daughter Katerina got married.

Among national leaders with offshore wealth are Nawaz Sharif, Pakistan’s prime minister; Ayad Allawi, ex-interim prime minister and former vice-president of Iraq; Petro Poroshenko, president of Ukraine; Alaa Mubarak, son of Egypt’s former president; and the prime minister of Iceland, Sigmundur Davíð Gunnlaugsson.

An offshore investment fund run by the father of British prime minister David Cameron avoided ever having to pay tax in Britain by hiring a small army of Bahamas residents to sign its paperwork. The fund has been registered with HM Revenue and Customs since its inception and has filed detailed tax returns every year.

The Grauniad – What are the Panama papers?

As a libertarian and someone who believes that all tax is theft, I have some measure of sympathy and indeed support for those who go to extraordinary lengths to avoid taxation and government meddling in the private affairs of citizens, for example Facebook’s Eduardo Saverin who paid a 15% exit tax on his US assets to expatriate to Singapore in 2011.

Those who are unworthy of such libertarian acclaim are those who use illegal means to hide wealth arising from bribery and corruption or who enforce taxation on the little people, but evade it themselves.

Traditionally, this has been 3rd world dictators or the governors of oil rich provinces in Nigeria and such places who essentially steal the wealth of their own populace / electorate. So it was not surprising to find these “usual suspects” in the Panama papers.

Even Vladimir Putin is not someone that I am particularly surprised at given that he has ruled Russia as President and proxy for nearly 20 years.

The sorts of names that you don’t expect are the legislators of modern Western countries such as Iceland’s PM (but not I suspect for long), Sigmundur Davíð Gunnlaugsson. Bastards like this who illustrate Leona Helmsley’s view that “We don’t pay taxes. Only the little people pay taxes”* should face the full force of the law.

[EDIT: and as predicted, less than a day later he's quit]

For UK politicians and business leaders, it is not just tax evasion that the Panama papers might reveal, but also crimes committed under the Bribery Act 2010 and earlier criminal statutes. For example, those cosy little 3rd world arms deals so recently brought to life in the BBC’s adaptation of John Le Carre’s “The Night Manager”.

I suspect that quite a few of the worlds elite will be having sleepless nights over the revelations and since the papers go back 40-years, I expect we will be pissing on the graves of quite a few ex politicians and members of the elite as well. GOOD!

* – Leona Helmsley disputes that she ever said this.

Quick! Fetch the Augur!

The ancients believed strongly in the power of Augury, the literal interpretation of various aspects of birds that provided fore-knowledge of both good and evil.

The bird visiting with Mr. Sanders is apparently a female House finch (Haemorhous mexicanus) a species native to North America and unknown in the ancient world, albeit similar to European and North African finches.

Those of us familiar with “I Clavidvs” may recall the omen of Herod Agrippa’s owl:

After Passover in 44, Agrippa went to Caesarea, where he had games performed in honour of Claudius. In the midst of his speech to the public a cry went out saying “this is not the voice of a man but of a god” and Agrippa did not publicly react.

At this time he saw an owl perched over his head. During his imprisonment by Tiberius a similar omen had been interpreted as portending his speedy release and future kingship, with the warning that should he behold the same sight again, he would die.

He was immediately smitten with violent pains, scolded his friends for flattering him and accepted his imminent death. He experienced heart pains and a pain in his abdomen, and died after five days*.

Wikipedia – Herod Agrippa

Whether the actions of this little bird has any significance or none it is always interesting when the lives of the great, those who would hold themselves as lords over us, are interrupted by the inquisitiveness of the most insignificant.

* – The disease which killed Herod Agrippa also killed his grandfather Herod the Great in a similar manner and became known throughout the Middle East as “Herod’s Disease“. I suspect that the idea of being consumed alive by maggots is not the easiest of deaths.

Tricky Dicky is long dead, time his war died too

Is it time to end the war on drugs

“The Nixon campaign in 1968, and the Nixon White House after that, had two enemies: the antiwar left and black people. You understand what I’m saying? We knew we couldn’t make it illegal to be either against the war or black, but by getting the public to associate the hippies with marijuana and blacks with heroin, and then criminalizing both heavily, we could disrupt those communities.

We could arrest their leaders, raid their homes, break up their meetings, and vilify them night after night on the evening news. Did we know we were lying about the drugs? Of course we did.”

John Ehrlichman, who served as domestic policy chief for President Richard Nixon when the administration declared its war on drugs in 1971 as reported in Harpers this month

Why particularly this should come out now about Ehrlichman, one of the more unlovable of the Watergate conspirators, some 17 years after his death is unclear, but certainly any movement towards ending this unproductive and unwinnable war is a step forward.

The only beneficiaries have been the drug cartels, the politicians and those agents of the governments such as the DEA, prison service and local and federal law enforcement agencies.

Indeed the increasing militarisation of police to deal with drugs on the streets of America has lead to a further alienation between the police and the communities they are meant to protect and to serve.

Enough already, time for it to end.

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