Scrapbook for March
21.03.2017 – Martin McGuinness
One should never speak ill of the dead, we are told. The death of McGuinness tests our resolve.
But at least John Major and Tony Blair, the two who elevated him, are still alive, so we can speak ill of them with impunity.
21.03.2017 – Something that could not have been said ten years ago
G-Man Comey: 'The department has no information that supports those tweets'.
21.03.2017 – Federal Bureau of Indeterminateness
G-Man Comey's lawerly ability to maintain two contradictory viewpoints at the same time was first put on public display during the fuss over Hillary Clinton's email shenanigens. His position was so ambivalent, that both Clinton's opponents and supporters could simultaneously take comfort from his words.
Now, pronouncing on Donald Trump, he does the same. When Trump tweets the world that, as a candidate, he was bugged by one or more of the US security agencies, Comey says (A) 'The department has no information that supports those tweets'. He also tells us (B) that the FBI since July last year has been 'investigating the Russian government’s efforts to interfere in the 2016 presidential election and that includes investigating the nature of any links between individuals associated with the Trump campaign and the Russian government and whether there was any coordination between the campaign and Russia’s efforts.' How the FBI does (B) without doing (A) is a puzzle.
In ten months of doing (B), the security services have detected not a whiff of evidence of Russian involvement, which is really not surprising if they didn't do (A).
18.03.2017 – PR, the European disease
We discussed last November the boring stability of European governments that results from the malign influence of proportional representation. Despite electoral 'lurches', 'landslides' or whatever dramatic name the media likes to use, nothing really changes in these stodgy systems.
We now read that in the Netherlands the hopes of Geert Wilders and his Party for Freedom were 'crushed' when they came second to Mark Rutte and his VVD party. Before the election the Party for Freedom was the third strongest party; now, having gained 33% more seats it has become the second strongest party. In the run up to the election Wilders' opponents and the unsympathetic media managed expectations well by suggesting that the Party for Freedom might become the strongest party. Failing in that goal can therefore now be projected as disaster for Wilders.
It doesn't matter. No change in the Dutch political system matters, because it is immediately neutralised by the system itself. Even if Wilders' party had come first it would have had to form a coalition government with one or more of its opponents, which would have neutered it politically. Rutte's party now has the task of forming a coalition that may even have to include Wilders' party. None of this matters because nothing will really change. Those with strong stomachs might take a sip of the Belgian flavour of political alphabet soup – be warned: it's hard to keep down.
In the UK and in the USA lurches are still just possible, as we have seen in 2016. They happened despite a tendency to administrative congealment in both countries.
France is the really interesting factor in European politics because it does have first-past-the-post systems for president and legislature. If Marine Le Pen is elected president and if she gets the right mix in parliament dramatic things will happen, things that will make the Democrats' trench warfare against President Trump in the US seem like harmless comedy. Ignore the Dutch, the Germans, the Austrians and the Italians. Put 18 June 2017, the date of the final run-off in the legislative election in France, in your diary. After that, either nothing will change or everything will change.
03.03.2017 – Tour d'horizon (desperation edition)
It's 3 March and the announcement '[no entry yet]' is still staring reproachfully at us. Perhaps a little tour d'horizon may help.
In the USA the Democrats and their running dogs are getting more deranged by the day. That thug Trump used an autocue. The Russians rigged the Presidential election: some people associated with the President have met a Russian at some time in the past year. The President is a rabid anti-semite hiding behind his Jewish son-in-law and his Jewish convert daughter. Someone who works for him knelt on a sofa with her shoes on. According to Associated Press thousands of people want Obama to run for French President. At the end of the report they helpfully mention he's not French so he's not eligible anyway. The former president is organizing a resistance movement. There is a covert ops mission against the new president using disaffected Government underlings in something called the 'deep state'. The white lady who declared herself to be black a while ago is now broke and has decided to call herself Nkechi Amare Diallo, a Swahili name meaning 'Hammer of Spellcheckers' (don't forget the glottal click at the beginning, you racist know-nothings). At the same level of rationality the Swiss have ratified their target for reducing emissions agreed at the Paris Climate Change Conference. They are introducing a range of levies on civilisational activity, the income from which will be redirected to sustainability projects yet to be defined. Using IPCC figures, the Swiss sacrifice will hold down the rise in global temperatures by nought point nought nought and a rounding error. Nobly, they want 'to show the world it can be done'. The House of Lords voted to allow all EU immigrants to stay in Britain. The fate of Britons living in the EU was not considered. An actress has a role in a film playing an elderly man, requiring extensive makeup and prosthetics. Elderly male actors needing minimal make up and no prosthetics need not apply.
That's it: 'I can't take it anymore', ©Billy Joel.