Nothing like the EU to inspire idiocy

Emma ThompsonActually, this isn’t fair, it’s not just the EU. Defending any unsound proposition can make even an intelligent person sound silly.

Take atheism, for example. Someone who doesn’t believe in God may be bright, within certain limits. But even an extremely intelligent man sounds idiotic when he tries to defend his atheism rationally.

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Catholic Pope and KGB Patriarch get together

Pope Francis and Patriarch Kirill‘Look who’s talking’ is a colloquial way of saying that even an unimpeachable idea may be compromised by the speaker’s personality.

For example, few would argue against the notion of the sanctity of human life – but even fewer would like to hear this argument put forth by a serial murderer. Or else, yes, children must be loved, but we wouldn’t like to receive this unassailable truth from a head master who sexually abuses his 11-year-old pupils.

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We must thank Obama for solving our problems

Barak Obama
Official portrait of President-elect Barack Obama on Jan. 13, 2009.
(Photo by Pete Souza)

It’s kind of Obama to share with us the benefit of his resounding success in solving America’s own problems. Proceeding from that solid base, this living argument against reverse discrimination has decided to offer Britain some avuncular advice.

It’s futile to project one’s own feelings on the country at large, but advice is always welcome – provided that whoever proffers it has at least a remote idea of what he’s talking about. Alas, in Obama’s case this precondition isn’t met, which makes his advice not only useless but also annoying.

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Glenda Jackson is a man in drag

Glenda JacksonBack in my youth I had my suspicions. In those days Miss Jackson insisted on being filmed in the buff, the general assumption being that her exhibitionism served artistic ends.

Well, it certainly wasn’t for titillation, for I doubt that a commercially valid number of viewers would have been titillated by the sight of Miss Jackson’s bare breasts. My suspicion was then, as it is now, that she was trying to show off her female fixtures to prove she wasn’t actually a transsexual. Methinks the lady doth protest too much, I thought in a characteristically unoriginal way.

In 1992, in her mid-40s, Miss Jackson sought an alternative career, what with even the limited interest in her nudity dwindling away. She then became a Labour MP for Hampstead, the London haven for lefties and assorted perverts (just walk through Hampstead Heath at night to see what I mean).

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Communism does funny things to tennis

Tennis racket and ball
By nao2g [CC BY 3.0]
Two tennis officials have just been banned for match fixing, which isn’t remarkable in itself. Dangle easy money before people’s eyes and watch them light up – boys will be boys.

What did catch my attention is that one of the banned officials is a Croat and the other a Russian living in Kazakhstan. Eastern Europeans, both.

Admittedly, a sample of two is insufficient for drawing statistically significant conclusions. So let’s broaden the sample a bit.

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Transexual High Court judges and lesbian Catholic bishops

Judge's gavel
Source: Chris Potter [CC By 4.0]
One of my recurrent themes is that the world has gone certifiably mad, and not in a particularly nice way. Witness the latest bouts of insanity that have caught my eye.

One such bout is called Victoria McCloud, a master of the Queen’s Bench division. We’re all so open-minded now that our brains are falling out but, when they still stayed inside our crania, we would have been taken aback.

For Dr McCloud was born, raised and called to the bar as Mr Jason Williams. At some point Jason decided to convert himself surgically into Victoria and assume the name of his/her co-habitor, the similarly modified psychiatrist Dr Annie McCloud.

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2,400 proofs that France too is going to les chiens

That’s how many words the French Ministry of Education has decided to change in order to simplify the language, making it easier for ‘disadvantaged’ pupils to learn.

By being able to spell oignon as ognon, such pauvres will now be empowered to tread a shining path to social advancement, at the end of which they’ll be trading, if not necessarily understanding, obtuse philosophical concepts with the graduates of France’s best Ecoles (most of whom don’t understand such concepts either, but have been expertly trained to hide these gaps behind obfuscation).

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Russia plays at attacking Sweden and annexing the Baltics

At Easter, 2013, six Russian jets carried out a simulated attack on Stockholm. Sweden, proud of her two centuries of peace and getting fat on the ‘peace dividend’, failed to scramble any of her interceptors. Had the attack been for real, Stockholm would now lie in ruins.

This was far from an isolated incident. Russian warplanes routinely violate Sweden’s airspace. At the same time, Russia conducts regular naval exercises in the Baltic Sea, with an accent on landing and supporting units of marine infantry.

The Swedes have finally cottoned on to the possible consequences of pacifism. They’re going through the motions of rebuilding their army, but it’s a long way to go.

For example, they’re increasing their contingent on Gotland, the country’s largest island, to 300 soldiers, equipped with 14 German-made Leopard tanks. Yet at the height of the Cold War the Gotland garrison numbered up to 20,000, which goes to show the size of the gap to fill.

It’s not only Sweden but also the rest of Europe, particularly its eastern half, that has reasons to worry. In 2015 Russia carried out about 4,000 military exercises, compared to NATO’s 270.

A recent US war game showed that Russia would take less than three days to occupy Latvia, Lithuania and Estonia. The opposing NATO force wouldn’t be strong enough to resist.

Not only do the Russians use their Kaliningrad (née Königsberg) contingents effectively to surround the Baltics, but they back up this strategic advantage with a prohibitive numerical superiority.

Opposing Russia’s eight airborne fleets and 27 manoeuvre battalions, each equipped with main battle tanks, are merely 12 NATO battalions – with no tanks. Seven of those battalions are native to the Baltics, and their training levels are uncertain.

The overall situation in Europe is even more dire. The three biggest European armies, French, German and British, have, respectively, 423, 408 and 407 tanks, including vehicles that wouldn’t even qualify as tanks in the Russian army.

By contrast, Russia officially boasts a 15,500-strong tank force in active service – augmented with thousands of older but still usable models mothballed in warehouses.

What gives NATO some hope of stopping the Russian army should it finally stop playing games is the approximate parity between NATO and Russian air forces. Modern air-launched anti-tank weapons greatly offset the danger presented by massed tank formations: if during the Second World War bombing was practically useless against tanks, today’s laser-guided missiles can pick off the tanks one by one.

Nonetheless, given the overwhelming numbers of the Russian ground forces, the best possible effect of air resistance would be to slow down the juggernaut, not stop it in its tracks.

It increasingly appears that we’re back to the 1970s. At that time only the US nuclear umbrella (and not the EU, as its champions claim so disingenuously) provided a viable deterrent to Soviet tank swarms sweeping across the Central European plain.

That military doctrine went by the name of MAD (Mutual Assured Destruction), the assumption being that neither NATO nor the USSR would be crazy enough to risk a full-scale nuclear exchange.

One would like to hope that Putin’s fiefdom can be counted upon to show similar sanity. Then again, there are signs diminishing that hope rather drastically.

Putin seems to have decided to resort to the traditional manner in which tyrants try to thwart economic disaster: militarisation first, war second.

The first two wars for which the Russian dictator is personally responsible, against Chechnya in 2000 and Georgia in 2008, failed to alert NATO to the danger of a KGB kleptocracy armed with nuclear weapons. But Russia’s attack on the Ukraine in 2014 began to awaken the West.

Things have escalated since then. Russia is heavily involved in Syria, with only naïve observers believing that Putin is our ally in the region. Tensions with Turkey, a NATO member, are mounting, with Russia’s violations of Turkish airspace becoming more frequent and cynical.

The tone of Russia’s shrill home propaganda is unmistakably warlike, with bugles whining and drums rattling off every newspaper page and TV screen. The West in general and the US in particular are being painted the same black colour as back in the USSR.

Some Russian commentators are talking about the possibility of an eighth Russo-Turkish war, others threaten to ‘turn America to nuclear dust’, still others are issuing open threats to the Baltics and the rest of Eastern Europe, and a first strike with nuclear weapons is mentioned as a distinct possibility.

In fact, the Russian military doctrine has been rewritten under Putin to include the possibility of such a strike, something that even the Soviets discounted, at least openly.

This isn’t supposed to be scaremongering. It’s possible that Russia is flexing her military muscle only to strike poses designed to rally flagging domestic support. Yet it would be criminally irresponsible not to prepare for the other possibility – however much such preparation could cost.

Si vis pacem, para bellum, as the Romans used to say. If you want peace, prepare for war. We want peace, don’t we?


Dave scores yet another EU triumph

One has to admire our PM’s negotiating skills. Faced with the stonewall of EU intransigence, he managed to wrench out of those boneheaded eurocrats an amazing deal for Britain, making any objection to our continuing membership sound churlish.

The complete list of reluctant concessions Dave managed to pull out of the federasts’ gnashing teeth is too long to publish in this limited space. But here are a few salient points:

·      Britain regains full sovereign control of her borders, except being able to decide who can come here, and in what numbers.

·      However, if the numbers reach an annual level in excess of a million or two (TBD at a later date), Britain will be allowed to apply ‘emergency brakes’, provided the European parliament agrees.

·      HMG will be able to prevent suspected terrorists and criminals from coming to Britain, unless they promise to be good boys.

·      Rather than showering new arrivals with full benefits all at once, we’ll be able to escalate the handouts gradually over four years and beyond, thereby prolonging the immigrants stay and giving them more time to integrate into British life. The wonderful thing about this snivelling EU concession is that it goes into effect in a mere five years – provided the EU hasn’t changed its mind by then.

·      Britain will be exempt from using the phrase ‘ever-closer union’ to describe the ultimate aim of European integration. Instead we’ll be free to say ‘loose but monolithic union’ or, if such is our wont, ‘a physically close but metaphysically loose union’.

·      Germany undertakes to ban at her party rallies, held at Nuremberg or elsewhere, any banners saying Gott strafe England or words to the same effect.

·      France, and specifically the French Academy, has agreed to issue a directive advising the French that the words les Anglo-Saxons and les putes de merde must never be used interchangeably, unless the speaker strongly feels like doing so.

·      Poland has agreed to take back those Polish plumbers and scaffolders who feel like repatriating, provided there aren’t too many of them.

 ·      The Dutch, while continuing to produce and consume mountains of mediocre cheese, undertake to pay lip service to the excellence of Stilton, stopping, effective immediately, comparing its aroma to the smell of dirty socks.

·      The Italians agree to instruct their pickpockets not to target English tourists specifically, unless the latter are asking for it by being negligent. They also promise not to pinch the bottoms of British female tourists, unless said bottoms jut too far out.

·      The Czechs will allow some British stag and hen parties to come to Prague, provided HMG agrees to compensate the city to the tune of £100,000 for every subsequent puddle of vomit.

·      The Spanish agree to rename their island Ibiffa, which is how British tourists prefer to pronounce Ibiza.

·      Britain will be allowed to fish in her own territorial waters, with the EU stipulating the types and quantities of fish to be pulled out of the sea, along with the times during which fishing is to be permitted.

·      Britain will be allowed to slaughter cattle in any way, provided it’s halal.

·      Britain will be encouraged to practise free trade, within the guidelines of the EU’s protectionist quotas. Trade outside the EU, though technically permitted, is discouraged and could be punished by quotas imposed on British goods by the EU.

·      If Britain undertakes to shut up every Eurosceptic in her government, the EU will agree to silence every Eurosceptic within the European Commission.

In fact, the deal secured by Dave is so good for Britain that he was completely justified in saying that, with this agreement on the table, Britain would jump at the chance to join the EU if she weren’t already a member.

This assertion is so indisputable that Dave should have no fear putting it to a test. Britain should withdraw from the EU by summary parliamentary vote and then hold a referendum on rejoining.

The subsequent government campaign could then stress the economic benefits of membership, singling out the negligible rate of youth unemployment in Spain, the healthy condition of Italian banks, the thriving state of French manufacturing and the negligible cost of Germany’s immigration policy. I can even propose the umbrella slogan: “We can have it as good”.

Such a step would reinforce Dave’s credibility as a true statesman in the Disraeli vein, an international negotiator putting Metternich to shame, and a man who’d rather relinquish his membership in every Pall Mall club than utter an empty phrase.    



Lenin makes a comeback

Every Hitler needs his Goebbels. Performing this function for Putin is Dmitry Kisilyov, head of the government news agency and the host of a popular talk show on Rossiya 1, Russia’s equivalent of BBC One.

Kisilyov is more than just Putin’s chief propagandist. He’s the dummy to Putin’s ventriloquist, lip-synching things that Putin enunciates through Kisilyov, who obligingly opens and closes his mouth.

It was Kisilyov who explained a few months ago that Russia is capable of “turning America into radioactive dust”, which was an expansion on Putin’s reminder to a forgetful West that “Russia is a nuclear power”.

This time around Kisilyov delivered another revelation: Lenin, whose mummy still adorns Red Square, is being increasingly seen in Putin’s Russia in the same light as he was seen in the Soviet Union.

Russian school textbooks are already describing Stalin as a strict but fair manager who “took Russia with the plough and left her with the nuclear bomb”. Now it’s Lenin’s turn to make a comeback.

For anybody endowed with some knowledge of history and elementary moral sense, Lenin takes pride of place on the short list of the most evil, sadistic tyrants of modernity, sharing the roster with Stalin, Hitler and Mao.

Kisilyov doubtless knows enough history, but his deficit of moral sense made him deliver this panegyric on his talk show, for the delectation of millions:

“The scale of his effort and the nobility of purpose that Lenin set for himself to rearrange life on this planet are unheard of! There was nothing like it either before or after him. His romanticism, his courage alone are worth a lot. And if, while reassessing Lenin’s role, our society manages to take out Lenin’s positives and Lenin’s scale, then Lenin’s energy will work for us the way Mao’s energy is working for the Chinese. Putin too is beginning to ‘dissect’ Lenin, carefully, from afar. Even Lenin’s massacres of priests… are but a detail.”

Yes, but the detail is the place where the devil lives. This particular diabolical detail, though paling into insignificance compared to the 15 million murdered on Lenin’s watch, involves the brutal murder of at least 40,000 priests in the roughly six years that Lenin was in power.

The official version is that they were shot, but few were so lucky. Priests were crucified, flayed alive, cut to ribbons, eviscerated, turned to ice by having cold water poured over them in minus 20 weather – and I’ll spare you the more graphic stuff.

What particularly frustrated Lenin’s ‘nobility of purpose’ was the clergy’s reluctance to relinquish its sacramental valuables, lovingly assembled by believers over centuries. Gold chalices and crosses, gospels and other sacred books bound in gem-encrusted covers, precious icons – all those things had to be plundered when the right moment came.

That, in the eyes of the great romantic, happened in 1922, when the countryside was devastated by the worst famine in Russia’s history. Being a man blessed, in addition to the nobility of his spirit, with no mean intellect, Lenin calculated that people dying of hunger would be too weak to resist. This is how he put it, in that especially noble way of his:

“It is precisely now and only now, when in the starving regions people are eating human flesh, and hundreds of thousands of corpses are littering the roads, that we can (and therefore must) carry out the confiscation of church valuables with the most savage and merciless energy, not stopping at crushing any resistance. It is precisely now and only now that the enormous majority of the peasant mass will be… in no condition to support in any decisive way that handful of Black Hundred clergy… who can and want to attempt a policy of violent resistance to the Soviet decree.”

I could comment on this text, but won’t, for no commentary is necessary. Instead I’ll cite another passage from the same letter:

“At this meeting, pass a secret resolution… that the confiscation of valuables, in particular of the richest abbeys, monasteries and churches, should be conducted with merciless determination, unconditionally stopping at nothing… The greater the number of representatives of the reactionary clergy and bourgeoisie we succeed in executing for this reason, the better. We must teach this lot a lesson right now, so that they will not dare even to think of any resistance for several decades.”

Again, there’s no need for commentary, especially since we know how efficiently Lenin’s directives were carried out. The ‘scale of the effort’ was indeed impressive – as was the ‘nobility of purpose’.

This, I hope you realise, is a full equivalent of today’s Chancellor of Germany making, through her mouthpiece, a statement about positively reassessing Hitler’s role in the country’s history.

Say what you will about Frau Merkel, and God knows I’ve said enough about her, but she’s unlikely to do so in any immediate future. But then Germany still retains a modicum of sanity.

Now, aren’t you sorry you can’t follow Russia’s propaganda meant for internal consumption? An eye opener, that.