Politics Racism Society

Breitbart. The parasite that has taken over America’s brain.

The jewel wasp is a remarkable insect that knows precisely how to take over a cockroach.  First it stings the insect to temporarily paralyse its front legs.  Then it injects a precisely-measured amount of venom into exactly the right place in the cockroach’s brain to disable its  escape instinct.  Having achieved that, it leads the docile insect by the antenna, like a farmer leading a cow, to a tomb, where it lays an egg that will eventually become a larva.  The larva burrows into the cockroach and eats it from the inside out, taking care not to kill it, and at the same time spreading an anti-microbial layer to ensure that it has no competition as it consumes its host, until it eventually bursts out of the used-up husk, a newly-pupated jewel wasp.

I can think of no better analogy for the sort of evil ideology that has consumed America, just as it consumed Germany eighty years ago.

The viciously anti-Semitic, racist, woman-hating former CEO of the Breitbart website, Steve Bannon, has now wormed his way into the very heart of the American power structure, by drugging the biggest cockroach of them all, Donald Trump. And just like a jewel wasp, he has led the incomprehending roach down a hole and into his lair while the host still believes that it has the best advisers.

Tremendous. Really great.

This is something that the hosts of parasites often do,  continuing to behave as if they’re still alive long after the mutating larvae implanted in them have eaten their vital organs.

Long after hope has vanished.

A ladybird is a formidable adversary, even though it’s as pretty as an Enid Blyton story, but in the animal world, those black spots and that red carapace don’t say beautiful. They say don’t mess with me. When Dinocampus coccinellae lays its eggs in a ladybird, that host is doomed, and yet the drug injected into the insect’s brain ensures that the ladybird continues to protect the larvae even as they eat it from the inside out.

Today we learn that Bannon has appointed two more of his former Breitbart staffers to senior positions in the White House, thereby trebling the malevolence index at a stroke. Now we have three people from a racist, fact-mangling, anti-Semitic, anti-Muslim propaganda mill at the very heart of American power.

Do you think I’d care if these people had influence in the Seychelles or the Solomon Islands?

I would not, for the plain and simple reason that the Seychelles have no ability to destroy our planet, unlike the United States.

And now the United States is being taken over by the Breitbart Jewel Wasp.

Why would I not be afraid?

Let us hope that the host realises what the parasite is up to before all cognitive ability is gone.




Is Donald Trump mentally fit to be President?


Is he insane?Donald Trump

I don’t know. I don’t even know what the word insane means, if it means anything but I once received a useful working definition of insanity from a mental health professional. An insane person, he  told me, is somebody who holds false, fixed ideas and who is impervious to logic.

By that standard anyway, you’d have to conclude that Donald Trump is barking mad and yes, I know that’s not a medical term but I once knew a highly-qualified doctor who used it to describe his own psychiatric condition so I feel safe using it.

Donald Trump is barking mad, which of course is not his fault. Too much blame is attached to mental illness and I don’t want to demonise him, but we have to remember that this is the man who will have control of the Big Red Button, and this is also the man who asked why the USA doesn’t use its nuclear weapons.

This is the man who seems to say the first thing that comes into his head and who then goes on to believe what he just said, like a child playing fantasy games with an invisible friend.

This is the man who attacked the parents of a soldier killed in Iraq although of course, not being American, we might reasonably ask what this soldier was doing in another country. Still, that isn’t the point. The point is that Trump was unable to be courteous or dignified, unable to simply keep his mouth shut instead of attacking the Khan family,  mourning the loss of their son.

This is the man who incited gun nuts to assassinate his political opponent and then tried, like all schoolyard bullies, to pretend he didn’t say it.

Trump’s latest lunacy is to claim that Obama and Clinton founded ISIS, a  statement so deeply uninformed, so ignorant and so dishonest that it can lead to only one conclusion: this man is bonkers. Leave aside the actual foundations of ISIS as covered in this site some time ago. The fact that Trump might actually believe Obama founded ISIS suggests that he’s an illiterate, uneducated clown. On the other hand, if he understands the reality then he’s a cynical liar, but both options indicate a pandering to the stupidest, most incompetent slice of American society.

I’ve heard it suggested that Trump is experiencing dementia, which again, if true,  is not something he should be criticised for, but at the same time we have to be realistic. A demented person is not somebody who should be holding the BRB. A demented president is not somebody who should be forming friendships with Vladimir Putin. A demented commander-in-chief is not what the world needs at the head of the most powerful military machine in history.

Looking at Trump’s statements in the lead-in to the election, it’s clear that he has only a passing relationship with reality. Whatever Trump says is what Trump believes. It’s also clear that he has no understanding at all of world politics and that he might well get all his information from comics and Fox News.  Again, this is not something one would hope for in the president of the USA but we live in an upside-down world where words mean whatever we want them to mean.

We live in a world where an artificial bubble inhabited by fragile narcissists is called Reality TV, and Trump of course has dominated that genre through his arrogance, his stupidity and his ignorance, all fuelled by the one underlying force that holds such a universe together: money.

The Donald, all his life, has bought everything he ever wanted. He has no experience of relating to his fellow human beings as an ordinary, vulnerable person like the rest of us and therefore no knowledge of how people relate to each other and yet he tries to fake it, fooling many people in the process.

Psychopaths tend to be expert mimics. They watch other people’s emotions. They study how people respond, and they reflect it back in a highly-convincing way, but I’m not saying Trump is a psychopath. I’m just saying that if I looked for a parallel, the best one I could find would be Patrick Bateman in Brett Easton Ellis’s novel, American Psycho — but without the murders, obviously. I’m not saying Trump has murdered anyone, though I wouldn’t feel so confident if he ever got his fingers on the Big Red Button.

Truthfully, if this man becomes President of the USA, we all need to worry.





Killing Heydrich

Reinhard HeydrichIf a young German naval officer had not made a girl pregnant, and if that girl had not been the daughter of Großadmiral Erich Raeder, it’s quite possible that millions of lives might have been spared, but instead the young  sub-lieutenant was charged with conduct unbecoming an officer and a gentleman and was kicked out of the navy.

As events would later confirm, the navy was right. This 27-year-old officer was far from a gentleman.

Not only would he turn out to be a sex addict and a drunkard, but also a gifted administrator and a cold-blooded psychopathic killer. Not to mention a concert violinist of considerable talent.

Stung by the humiliation of his dismissal from the service, young Reinhardt Heydrich managed to secure an interview with 31-year-old Heinrich Himmler, the head of the SS, who was setting up a new counter-intelligence unit. Whatever descriptions you could apply to Himmler, “educated” and “well-read” would not be among them, and neither would Ubermensch by any stretch of the imagination.

Heydrich’s sales pitch, based on any old nonsense he could remember from reading spy novels, impressed the nasty little Reichsführer so deeply he hired this tall, athletic, cultured, walking embodiment of Aryan manhood on the spot.

Heydrich was logical.

Heydrich was ruthless.

Heydrich played classical violin.

Heydrich was everything  that Himmler was not and now, suddenly he was head of the nascent Gestapo even though to begin with he only had a typewriter and a desk, but that wouldn’t last long.

Thus a monster was born.

I’ve often said that we should never be shocked by the actions of monsters, because monstrous things are in their nature. It’s far more shocking when ordinary men and women carry out monstrous acts but Heydrich is the exception. Heydrich, for many people – even Hitler – was the very embodiment of Nazi evil. A cold, heartless functionary with no scruples about murdering millions. A man whose inner darkness is written on his merciless face and in his dead, unfeeling eyes.

There’s something about Heydrich that proclaims the very essence of totalitarian cruelty and something also that suggests he might well have ended up behind the Führer’s desk if his own arrogance hadn’t opened up the opportunity for his Czech killers to exterminate him. This man, after all, was speaking of being an Admiral when he was only an 18-year-old naval cadet. This is the individual described by Hitler after a long private meeting as a highly gifted but also very dangerous man.

You’d need to fear someone who made Hitler nervous.

I’ve just finished a fascinating book called HHhH by Laurent Binet. A meta-novel, you might call it, since it’s Binet’s attempt to describe his struggle as he writes about the assassination of Heydrich, the Butcher of Prague. The man with the iron heart as Hitler once called him.

Yes, it’s a strange title for a book and we’ll come to the reason for it presently, but it offers such interesting juxtapositions that I couldn’t put it down. In some ways, it reminds me of Peter Ackroyd’s Hawksmoor, a novel about a modern-day detective investigating a series of murders, who somehow finds himself connected across the centuries with the architect Nicholas Hawksmoor, formerly an apprentice to Christopher Wren and designer of six churches in the reign of Queen Anne, laid out in a Satanic pattern on the map of London.

It’s rare that a novel sets me on a quest, but I once visited all of those Hawksmoor churches the same day, even HHhH Laurent Binetthough I was already familiar with four of them before I read the book. The only other novels to have raised such an  urge in me are Midnight’s Children by Salman Rushdie and Fear and Loathing in Las Vegas by the great Hunter S. Sadly, though, I have yet to visit Bombay or go on a savage acid and alcohol-fuelled journey with my Samoan attorney to the heart of the American dream.

But maybe there’s time yet. Who knows?

Let’s return to Laurent Binet’s book HHhH and the conundrum of why it’s listed as fiction even though the subject is clearly historical and political. I don’t know the answer to that, except to say that Binet has somehow managed to write a book about writing a book while at the same time keeping scrupulously to the historical facts as far as he can establish them. And after all, what historical account of anything can claim to be completely factual?

But Heydrich.

What about this cold-blooded reptile? I’m as trapped in his cobra stare as Binet is. I detest him as much as the other high-ranking Nazis did. Even now, seven decades after his death, I fear him a little, because this man had the darkest soul I have ever encountered and who’s to say that, like Hawksmoor, he might not reach out across time and touch me with his bony dead fingers?

This man swept into Prague at the age of 37, already head of the entire German security apparatus. The most senior secret policeman in the Reich, commanding the Gestapo, the Sipo, the Sicherheitsdienst, immediately set to work executing Czechs and banishing people to concentration camps, but this Acting Reich Protector of Bohemia and Moravia didn’t allow his onerous task to distract him from planning the Holocaust. And of course, in good time, he would chair the Wannsee conference during which the administrative details of the Holocaust would be agreed, permitting the destruction of all European Jews and other undesirables.

Heydrich was an absolute monster, without feelings, without scruples, without emotion. Even his boss Himmler, the appalling little toad, had the good grace to faint when the SS murdered Jews in front of him, but everyone knew that crossing Heydrich was tantamount to suicide.

He was crude, he was aggressive, he was a vile drunk. He haunted whorehouses. He was a cruel thug. He was a merciless organiser of industrial death.

Yet, when he played the violin, his face lost its coldness, its arrogance, its cruelty.

When Heydrich played the violin, he became human for a time, and he became transported into the vaults of the spheres.

Somebody who knew him said of Heydrich that two souls lived in his breast and I can almost believe that. I can almost believe in the religious notion of possession when I contemplate somebody like Reinhardt Heydrich, but of course that’s nonsense. He was simply a cold, vicious, calculating swine who happened to love music.

They killed him and they were right to kill him, even though everyone knew there would be reprisals.

In return, the Germans murdered hundreds. They wiped out two villages that had nothing to do with the killing. I won’t call it an assassination, since that word would imply some sort of decency on Heydrich’s part. They killed him like a  rat and they were right to do it, even if the killing had elements of farce about it.

Actually, in a second or two, I will call it an assassination because that suits what I want to say. Forgive me

They trained in England and they parachuted into Czechoslovakia. They knew there was almost no chance of surviving, but they did it anyway. They picked the best place on the route where the arrogant Pro-Consul travelled every day from Prague Castle in his open-top Mercedes-Benz driven by a giant SS bodyguard. Called Klein!

They waited at a bend where the car had to slow down. One of them stepped out in front of the vehicle, aimed his British-made Sten gun and


and the fucking thing jammed.

And the assassin stared at Klein, the giant SS driver.

And Klein, the giant SS driver stared back.

And Heydrich stared at the assassin. And Heydrich stared at Klein.

And then the other assassin crept up behind the car and threw his bomb but he missed and it exploded beside the wheel and didn’t blow Heydrich to bits as it was supposed to. But it did enough to hurt him. Far more than he suspected at the time and far more than the assassins thought. For those were the days before effective antibiotics, and therefore the Butcher of Prague, the architect of the Holocaust was a dead man walking or at least a dead man staggering.

Eventually, Heydrich just died of an infection. Horribly.

Of course the SS tracked the killers down, but it took 800 of them after a tip-off from a traitor, and the shoot-out in the cathedral of Saints Cyril and Methodius cost the Germans dozens of casualties before the commandos (that’s a better word than assassin) in a final act of defiance, took their own lives.

That’s where I want to go. Though I have been in Prague many times I never visited the Orthodox cathedral where Jan Kubiš and Jozef Gabcík fought the SS to the death, killing and injuring many of them.

I want to honour the memories of the men who ensured that all we had to deal with was Hitler.


Oh. I nearly forgot to tell you what HHhH means.

Himmlers Hirm heisst Heydrich.  Himmler’s brain is called Heydrich.

It was German humour, but at least some of them were poking fun at the monsters, so let’s not judge their jokes too harshly.



Also on this site.

Heinz Heydrich, brother of Reinhardt

Goering’s embarrassing relatives

Happy Holocaust holidays




Longford family reject €42-a-week 4-bed house and take over another

Longford house

Isn’t it well for them? as ladies of my mother’s generation might have said.

Isn’t it well for the Doyle family that they were able to reject a 4-bedroom bungalow at a weekly rent of €42 and instead squat in a house another family was intended to have?

Isn’t it well for them?

Initially their objection was that the house was too close to the road, and their children might have been in danger from traffic but Longford Council solved that problem by building a fence for them, and still the Doyle family decided that they wouldn’t move into the house.

Instead they squatted in a house intended for another family.

John Paul Doyle, the paterfamilias, now runs the risk of imprisonment unless he moves his six children out of that house.

Of course I can’t help thinking that John Paul must be 37 years old, as all John Pauls are. Thirty-seven years old, with six kids and no means of housing them apart from a demand to the local council to provide his progeny with a place of his choosing.

Shouldn’t we all be so lucky?

Wouldn’t we all love to be able to reject a four-bedroom bungalow?

Wouldn’t we all love to produce a large family knowing that somebody else will look after us?

Recently on radio we heard a mother describe the humiliation of living in a hotel with no means of cooking for her children and here’s John Paul feeling entitled to place his six children in the best accommodation money can buy. He’s probably a very nice guy, but why is John Paul entitled to a better house than anyone else? And why is he entitled to get it for €42 a week when people are sleeping on park benches?

There was a time when I would have been sympathetic to men like John Paul, men who felt entitled to bring as many children as they wish into the world even though they aren’t able to house them, but I don’t feel that way any more.

If you want to have a large family, that’s your business, but don’t expect everyone else to take responsibility for your decision, or lack of it.

A few years ago, some protester set up a placard outside the offices of Limerick City Council. His problem was that he had too many children for his four-bedroom council house and he wanted something bigger. I was going into the office to pay my car tax and I couldn’t help stopping to talk to him.

Why are you protesting?

I want a bigger house.


I have too many children. We have no room for them.

Where did all these children come from?

We just had them.

Did somebody force you to have them?

We just had them.

Could you not have kept your dick in your pants?

Luckily for me, he didn’t quite seem to grasp what I was asking him.





Reviewing the Limerick 2020 Bid Book

limerick 2020To my shame, I didn’t read the Limerick 2020 bid book before it was submitted.

I just assumed, to my shame, that it would be a professionally-prepared submission making the most of our town as any submission would in the circumstances. I assumed, and now I am ashamed of my stupidity, that the Limerick 2020 submission would be written in plain English, that it would be devoid of cliché and that it would be packed with hard, compelling facts. The sort of facts that a jury would be unable to resist.

I assumed these things because, despite everything, I retain an unbending confidence in our town, but my confidence continues to wilt under the hammer-blows inflicted on it by disasters like the Limerick 2020 bid book.

At the very least, it seemed reasonable to assume that the 2020 bid would be written by a grown adult, but in reality what we found was a document drawn up by somebody who might have have been kicked out of a course in bad business cliché writing.

I felt embarrassed reading the opening paragraph that emphasised everything negative about Limerick. I cringed at “Dat’s Limerick City“. I asked myself if the people behind this bid had either lost their minds or somehow been hypnotised by a demented illiterate fifteen-year-old.

Do yourself a favour and read this thing right here. Don’t  take my word for it.

Read this document. Telll me if you think the person who wrote it  had a functional grasp of the English language. Tell me if you think the author understood what the bid was seeking to achieve. Tell me if you think the best way to win a bid is to write the submission in meaningless business-speak bullshit.

The smugness is simply staggering. This submission is based solely on the arts in Limerick and has no regard to anything else in our culture. It’s written in a stultified, meaningless jargon filled with clichés.

Limerick 2020 submission

This submission represents nothing of the Limerick I grew up in. It represents nothing of the Limerick we have our culture and our being in. This submission was written by one or two people who have not the slightest grasp of Limerick culture, one or two people who have no grasp of what our culture is, and therefore, predictably enough, this submission failed.

Shame on them.

But all the more shame on us for allowing them to speak on our behalf. We deserve what we get.



Francois Hollande’s monthly €10,000 haircut

Conférence des Nations unies sur les changements climatiques – COP21 (Paris, Le Bourget)

Ah, the French Revolution, that magnificent upheaval that  cast off the aristocratic oppressors and sparked a new age of tolerance. Liberté, Egalité and of course Fraternité informed the whole endeavour, culminating in that magnificent Socialist icon Francois Hollande, a man who once claimed to hate the rich.

It now emerges that Francois has a barber on his staff, an artist paid €10,000 a month, to make sure the Presidential coiffure never goes limp.

Ten grand a month! Can you believe that? A barber is paid ten thousand euros a month to hang around looking enigmatic and unshaven, sulkily smoking a Gaulois, and occasionally snipping the stray wisps of a man who might shortly have no hair at all.

Did the original Sun King spend as much on his court coiffeur to shave his head once a week so that his wig would fit without too much sweat? One doubts it and yet the new Socialist Sun King deems such expenditure appropriate to keep his receding, greying thatch dyed and trimmed.

I have news for Francois le Grand, le Roi Nouveau Soleil: Your hair is shite. It’s complete shite. Why are you paying that hairdresser four times the average French wage to sit around all month for one haircut?

You have awful hair, Francois. It’s terrible.

Surely Ségolène told you how awful your thatch is, or perhaps that was what caused your dreadful rift?

Get a grip, Frank. Shave your head. For once in your life be cool.

And while you’re at it, sack that silly coiffeur.




Curse of Enoch Powell destroys David Cameron

enoch powellEnoch Powell’s ghost has killed David Cameron’s career and how symmetrical the tragedy is.

Powell, who once wished damnation on Chamberlain for appeasing Hitler, has reached from beyond the grave to ruin an even worse failure as Prime Minister. Powell, the voice of British xenophobia for so many years, perhaps didn’t realise what a seed he had planted or what a thorny briar it would grow into. Despite his personal hubris, the man who expected from his teens to become Viceroy of India might well have failed to understand the motivations of hoi polloi. Perhaps in his magnificent mind, the classics professor thought that his utterances were all Greek to the lower orders, but if so, how wrong Enoch Powell was.

[dropshadowbox align=”none” effect=”lifted-both” width=”auto” height=”” background_color=”#ffffff” border_width=”1″ border_color=”#dddddd” ]All political lives, unless they are cut off in midstream at a happy juncture, end in failure, because that is the nature of politics and of human affairs.[/dropshadowbox]

Thus spoke Powell. But even he could hardly have suspected that a Prime Minister would behave as crassly as Cameron. Powell the intellectual could hardly have supposed that any PM would be so stupid as to gamble on the stupidity of the Great British Unwashed, especially an unwashed that had for years festered in the propaganda of those who sought to profit from hatred, from xenophobia and from ignorance.

Enoch Powell might well appreciate the symmetry of David Cameron’s capitulation, a political life ending in failure but also cut off in midstream, though hardly at a happy juncture.

If he took a moment to ponder, Powell might well conclude that he himself had sown the seeds of the anti-immigrant hatred that led to a narrow Brexit margin, though he might not be so happy to reflect that he was the only major figure in modern history who evoked rivers of blood, apart from Saddam Hussein.

It was in the seed-bed prepared by Powell that the shoots of anti-immigrant ignorance took root and eventually undermined David Cameron’s foundations, but at the same time, his demise was predictable once he dabbled with things he didn’t understand. The toffs of the Bullingdon Club — David Cameron and Boris Johnson — might as well be looking into a bush as trying to understand the lower orders in their class-ridden society and their joint gamble failed, though with different outcomes.

Powell understood the proletariat well enough, as a man who rose through the ranks from Private to Brigadier in five short years, thanks to his prodigious intellect. He knew that the British Tommy was deliberately bred to be a savage fighting unit by his aristocratic betters. He grasped the fact that the Empire desired to cull these fighting units in a hail of lead war upon war for fear their vote might make a difference in the homeland.

Powell was untroubled by such ugly notions, and it’s reasonable to assume that neither Cameron nor Johnson lost much sleep about it either, just as Thatcher didn’t when sending an expeditionary force to the South Atlantic in defence of New Zealand’s mineral rights over a rocky outpost governed by a man with a feathered helmet and a ceremonial sword.

But the difference is that Cameron and Johnson took a chance and gambled on the Great British Unwashed not bothering to turn out for the vote. What’s doubly ironic is that Cameron and Johnson hoped for the same thing — a Brexit defeat — and now Cameron is gone while Johnson simply ran away. But here comes Theresa May to replace Cameron and suddenly Johnson is appointed Foreign Secretary.

I don’t know if there’s an old Chinese curse to cover these situations, but if not, there should be.

May you get what you wished for.

Enoch would surely be chuckling in ancient Greek.




What a terrible ringtone Bad To The Bone is.

Ba-ba-ba-baaaad  …

I lie in the dark with staring eyes, fumbling for the phone. What?? Is someone dead?

Baaaad to the bone …

Oh wait. It’s only crazy Uncle Jack calling from Torremolinos where he’s been living since that embarrassing incident on the Mile End Road back in the Sixties. He’s not really my uncle, but he married my Auntie and anyway who cares if he’s a bit of a villain? Uncle Jack, he’s all right.

Nigel Farage BrexitHey, Jack, I reply. Is everything ok?

I see us Brits is leavin the UN.

Jack, it’s dark. The birds haven’t even started to threaten each other. Why are you calling me at five in the morning?

We have enough of the UN. We want out.

You’re not leaving the UN, Jack. You were never leaving the UN. Anyway, you haven’t voted in Britain since that unfortunate incident in 1963.

You got it all wrong my son, Jack replied. We are leaving this Union thing, whatever it is. We are going to be independent.

Jack, I try to explain. Britain had a referendum about leaving the EU but that’s sorted out now. They’re staying. I checked before going to bed.

UN. EU. Whatever you call it, we’re out. Us Brits is leavin everything with a U in it. I heard it on Fox news.

I shoot upright in the bed like I’ve been pepper-sprayed.

Have you been at the sherry?

I saw that friendly guy on TV. You know, the cheerful fella with the pint of beer? Garage or something. He was saying …

Nigel Farage?

That’s him. Michel Fromage. French chap. He was saying Britain is safe from foreigners after the vote.

Jack, I need a coffee. Don’t hang up. Do not hang up!

I hop out of the bedroom pulling on one shoe, finger the laptop power button, poke at the TV on-switch and nudge the broken radio into life as the kettle screams Brexit and every neuron in my brain says No! They can’t be that stupid!

But they are.

They really are that stupid, buying in to every half-truth and distortion fed to them by the Leave side.

They really, really have been that stupid.

Hello? A tiny, tinny voice echoes from the phone. Hello?

Sorry, Uncle Jack, I munch through my healthy wholemeal toast, longing for that delicious cottage loaf of my childhood. Sorry, Jack. I forgot about you.

Course you did, he reproaches, just like everyone else does at my age. But Mr Fromage didn’t forget me. Michael Fromage, the leader of U-Quip who fought tirelessly to keep Brussels tyranny out of Britain.

You mean tyranny like the Working Hours Act? Tyranny like getting rid of roaming charges on phone calls? Tyranny like abolishing the airline cartels, making your flights to Torremolinos so much cheaper?

Never mind that. What about the other stuff?

What other stuff?

Straight bananas. Stopping us setting our own VAT rate. Forcing us to take in refugees.

You didn’t take in refugees, your bananas are still bendy and you still set your own VAT rate.

Never mind that, says Jack. It might all happen. I believe that Russian fella, Maurice Johnson.

Boris Johnson?

Yeah. Proper English toff, him. Who am I to disagree with a proper toff like that? He’s been to Oxford and everything, and besides, the Daily Mail and the Sun said that we was overrun with immigrants, over here taking our dole and our jobs.

How can they take your dole and your jobs at the same time, Jack? Isn’t it one thing or the other?

We don’t want no immigrants in our country.

How about foreign footballers? I ask. How about doctors? How about nurses?

That’s different.

Why is it different?

They’re not really immigrants. Not really.

What are they then?

They’re temporary residents providing a service.

Tell me this, Jack. What will we do when the customs posts go back up on the border between the Republic and Northern Ireland? What will we do when the Pound collapses and our exports to Britain become too expensive and our industries start to buckle?

Don’t be silly, Jack says. We’re a great country. The sun never sets on our empire.

Jack, how long is is since you set foot in Britain? Wasn’t it the time you visited Ronnie Biggs back in 1964?

Well, yeah. But we’re still a great empire.

Jack, I say, where does this vote leave you?

How do you mean?

Well, aren’t you an immigrant? Won’t you have to go home too?

Don’t be ridiculous, Jack chuckles. I’m not an immigrant. I’m a British ex-pat. Only foreigners are immigrants.




Crime Society

Why is it harder to buy anti-psychotics than a gun in the USA?

As we recoil once again in disbelief after yet another mass killing in the USA, people across the world (and also in America, let it be acknowledged), are asking how a killer could so easily obtain a weapon of mass destruction.  There’s almost no other country in the world where such a thing would be possible and certainly no country among the developed democracies where it would even be contemplated.

Omar Mateen used an Ar-15 to murder 50 people in Orlando and to destroy the lives of 500 more. He used a weapon that he bought in a shop under Florida’s lax gun laws.

The AR-15 is a fearsome weapon, made famous in these parts by Sinn Féin’s Danny Morrison when he spoke about the Armalite and the ballot box, and yes, that’s what the AR-15 is. An Armalite. Following modifications that increased its weight, it was adopted by the US military as the M-16, a version many military people regarded as inferior to the original which was light, portable and lethal.

We saw that capability in Orlando where a single shooter was able to massacre so many people on his own but we should not be surprised. This weapon, the AR-15, can fire a small projectile at such a high velocity that anyone struck by a bullet, in any part of their body, will almost certainly die. That was the designer’s intention. This weapon can shoot through walls and still kill you. In fact it will kill you worse, since the flying thing that  hits you will be a mis-shapen lump of high-velocity lead that tears a gaping hole in you.

This was also the designer’s intention.

ar 15 assault rifle

Now, the National Rifle Association is seen today as the body that does most to promote gun ownership in the United States and perhaps it is. The NRA is seen as the political wing of the American armaments industry and perhaps that’s true too. But if so, this is a very recent development indeed. If so, this is far from the traditional American attitude to ownership of weapons.

In reality the NRA’s support of unlimited access to weapons is less than forty years old. As far back as 1934, it supported the National Firearms Act, introduced to combat organised crime gangs following the Prohibition era. At that time, Karl Frederick, the NRA President stated as follows:

[dropshadowbox align=”none” effect=”lifted-both” width=”auto” height=”” background_color=”#ffffff” border_width=”1″ border_color=”#dddddd” ]I have never believed in the general practice of carrying weapons. I seldom carry one. … I do not believe in the general promiscuous toting of guns. I think it should be sharply restricted and only under licenses.[/dropshadowbox]

Somehow, between the situation we find ourselves in today and the NRA’s  establishment in 1871 as a response to the perceived inadequacies of American military marksmanship, the NRA morphed from a quasi-official research organisation to a full-blown advocate for the major small-arms manufacturers. It was a classic example of a peripheral obscure quango taken over for profit, regardless of the consequences.  Though it had been lobbying since 1934 for a change to the gun ownership law under the the Second Amendment, that lobbying was on behalf of  hunters and competitive marksmen.

Even as  Charlton Heston entered his 50s, his hands not yet dead or cold, the NRA was still opposing widespread ownership of firearms, and it wasn’t until 1977 that it went fully political, becoming a thinly-disguised front for the arms industry.

Why do so many Americans today believe that the Second Amendment conferred the right to carry high-velocity assault rifles? Nobody knows. The National Rifle Association certainly never claimed any such thing until shortly before Ronald Reagan took office. The framers of the amendment never imagined anything more lethal than a muzzle-loading musket and certainly not a high-velocity automatic rifle that one man could use to shoot fifty people dead. Their concern was about keeping a militia available to defend against the return of the colonial power, and any other reading of the amendment is downright perverse.

[dropshadowbox align=”none” effect=”lifted-both” width=”auto” height=”” background_color=”#ffffff” border_width=”1″ border_color=”#dddddd” ]A well regulated Militia, being necessary to the security of a free State, the right of the people to keep and bear Arms, shall not be infringed.[/dropshadowbox]

A well regulated Militia, being necessary to the security of a free State …

The Second Amendment, which is now entirely superseded by history, has to do with maintaining a militia, not with giving a redneck the right to own a bazooka and yet it has been used to foster a national love affair with firearms.

Perhaps this obsession with guns has been fostered through an endless diet of movies and TV series in which the gun has become an object of fetishistic veneration. Perhaps it was aided by the rise of the Western novel towards the end of the nineteenth century or maybe via the film noir of the 1940s and 1950s. Maybe it was the war movies of the forties right up to the present day. Who knows?

What does seem to be true is that many Americans firstly believe the gun is the answer to all life’s problems and secondly that the world consists of good guys and bad guys.

Of course, I can’t say that this childish binary mindset was caused by Hollywood. For all I know, reality is the reverse and Hollywood was caused by this childish mindset, but one way or the other it seems to exist and it seems somehow to have dominated the entire world through force of arms and economic muscle, which might not necessarily be two different things in the case of the United States.

What I find baffling is the complete inability of the USA to see that it is not in any sense the leader of the putative “Free World”, and I’m quite sure this is a feeling shared by most people in Europe and elsewhere when Americans refer to their President as our leader. How much self-delusion is required before a nation can believe such nonsense? How much Orwellian indoctrination? How much insularity? How much ignorance?

Only a nation whose citizens have never travelled abroad could possibly convince itself that its President is the leader of some mythical Free World it knows nothing about.

Is America really Hollywood made real or is Hollywood the real America?  I don’t know. What I do know, however, is that this vast, immensely powerful nation has a juvenile understanding of the world that extends right up to its top echelons as we saw with the utterly stupid invasions of Afghanistan and Iraq, culminating in the creation of Islamic State, thanks to a complete disregard for other cultures. They were going in to take out the bad guys and that was all that mattered.

Hollywood might not have intended to create the militaristic tendency of the United States, but the military sure as shootin’ bought into the clichés provided by the film industry, just as the Mafia bought into The Godfather. Pretty soon, you’re not sure who’s talkin’ like who or where it all started. Pretty sure, you start to believe the only guys who can save the Earth from an asteroid strike are Bruce Willis and the crew of the nuclear-powered aircraft carrier USS Can-Do-Hoo-Ha!

Naturally, those who support access to firearms will argue that guns make people safer which makes it hard to understand why the United States firearms death rate is five times that of Canada, 50% higher than Mexico’s, five times that of Israel (Israel!), ten times the death rate of Germany and fifty times the rate of the United Kingdom, where nobody has a gun.

On the other hand, if I suffer from a psychotic illness in the United States, while I might not be able to afford the medical care to treat any homicidal tendencies, I can always walk into my local gun store and buy myself an Armalite, with no questions asked.

What was that they said about the  Free World?


Also on Bock

Orlando murders

The second amendment

Mass murder and the American gun fetish

Gun control in America




New York Times

government Politics war

Orlando murders reveal darkness at the heart of the American project

At least fifty people have lost their lives at the hands of a homophobic murderer in Orlando, Florida in the Pulse gay nightclub. The number of dead is likely to increase since many of those taken to hospital are described as critical, and many more will spend the rest of their lives with crippling injuries.

One might think that such a tragedy would evoke huge human empathy but apparently not.

The Lieutenant Governor of Texas, Dan Patrick,  tweeted as follows:

[dropshadowbox align=”none” effect=”lifted-both” width=”auto” height=”” background_color=”#ffffff” border_width=”1″ border_color=”#dddddd” ]

Do not be deceived:

God cannot be mocked.

A man reaps what he sows.

Galatians 6:7



Mr Patrick later deleted his tweet, explaining that it was all an unfortunate misunderstanding, but the Westboro Baptist Church was under no such illusions.

[dropshadowbox align=”none” effect=”lifted-both” width=”auto” height=”” background_color=”#ffffff” border_width=”1″ border_color=”#dddddd” ]God sent the shooter to the Orlando fag club![/dropshadowbox]


Still, with the WBC, at least you know what you’re getting, though not so much with Donald Trump, who immediately began tweeting, firstly with a cursory nod to the relatives of the victims and then with a full-blown chest-thumping congratulation of himself for warning about keeping Muslims out of the United States.

Now, it’s true that the killer, Omar Mateen, was a Muslim, but in much the same way Donald Trump is a Christian.

It’s also a fact that the killer was a US citizen, born and bred in the USA. But what’s even more undeniable is that, even though Omar Mateen was a private citizen and not a gang member or part of any political grouping, he was still able to purchase perfectly legally the sort of firepower that allowed him to massacre at least fifty people and maim as many more.

It’s also a fact that the murders took place in a state where anti-gay attitudes are deeply entrenched and where the State legislature has reluctantly rolled back its anti-gay laws only as a result of vigorous arm-twisting by the US Supreme Court. It’s a fact, furthermore, that these murders happened on the edge of the Bible Belt where fundamentalist Christians regard homosexuals as an abomination and where many people would hardly shed a tear at the killing of a gay man or woman. In addition, it’s a fact that these murders happened in a state where the gun laws are extremely lax.

Yet, despite all these things, cynics like Trump are getting away with the most outrageous conclusions.

According to Trump and his fellow travellers, the massacre didn’t happen because Orlando is in a state where gays are still a marginal community.

The massacre didn’t happen because rednecks would as soon string up a gay person as a black.

The massacre wasn’t facilitated by the fact that every random lunatic can buy an assault rifle.

The massacre didn’t happen due to extreme religious prejudice, or at least, not the sort of extreme religious prejudice we approve of.

No. The massacre occurred because of the other extreme religious prejudice. The sort we don’t approve of.

It makes no difference that both sorts of extreme religious prejudice come from the same book, the same band of wandering, murderous ignorant sheep herders and yet, as it turns out, the killer wasn’t even very religious, according to his ex-wife. In fact, he was just your average non-religious controlling wife-beating scumbag.

Or to put it another way, he was just another prejudiced anti-gay chest-thumping redneck.

Of course, that wouldn’t suit the agenda of Trump and his associates, so instead Omar Mateen has to be painted as a follower of ISIS who, of course, were more than happy to claim his actions as their own.

Normally in America (and how sad it is that anyone would be able to use the word normally but such is the state of things in that country) when a madman kills a large number of people, the authorities investigate and conclude in the end that the mass murder was committed by an unhinged person or in exceptional circumstances like Oklahoma, a domestic terrorist.

I have yet to hear of an American mass murder where a killer was described as a Catholic extremist or a Protestant extremist or a Shinto extremist and yet, somehow, when the killer has the remotest connection to a Muslim country, he can’t simply be a homicidal maniac like any normal Christian. The explanation has to lie in his religion, or in the religion of his parents or in the religion of someone he was descended from a thousand years ago, because that’s how Americans have been led to view the world: through a lens that allows only for good guys and bad guys, with the current bad guys being Muslims. One quarter of the world’s population, including the late Muhammad Ali.

Japanese-American people will understand this sort of thinking very well indeed since they were all imprisoned for the duration of World War 2 purely on the basis of their non-European features, in horrible concentration camps like Manzanar. Meanwhile, people with European faces suffered no such imprisonment, even though they bore the names of the arch-enemies. No German-Americans were imprisoned. No Italian-Americans were put in concentration camps. No Hungarian-Americans. No Croatian-Americans.

Indeed, a man with an Americanized German name, Eisenhower, was made Supreme Allied Commander and later became President. It’s hard to imagine, even today, a President Hashimoto or Katsumata.

It’s also hard to avoid the conclusion that despite the great talk about separation of church and state, America is, and has always been in its essence a European Christian project, conceived in an act of genocide and maintained in a huge act of continuing global warfare without end.

You’d have to conclude that in situations like this, Trump and ISIS are best buddies. A coincidence of interests, so to speak, between two equally unscrupulous political enterprises.

A very dangerous confederation of criminals and possibly one that could lead to another world war.