Saturday, May 30, 2009

"Chelsea have not won a trophy since Mourinho left, and will hope to change that at Wembley this afternoon."
I, on the other hand, hope that they get their arses kicked.
I haven't been listening to the pre-match cobblers, and I'm wondering how many times that non-penalty against Barcelona has been mentioned.

Addendum, Sunday: Ah well, never mind.

Friday, May 29, 2009

Sorley MacLean (1911-1996)is recognised as one of the great British poets of the twentieth century, in spite of his work being mostly in the Gaelic language, and so inaccessible to most of us in its original form. The following English version is the poet's own translation. The poem, from the 1930s, strikes me as a condemnation of the "unco guid", the canting hypocrites who love the Lord but not their neighbour.


My eye is not on Calvary
nor on Bethlehem the blessed,
but on a foul-smelling backland in Glasgow,
where life rots as it grows;
and on a room in Edinburgh,
a room of poverty and pain,
where the diseased infant
writhes and wallows till death.


Chan eil mo shùil air Calbharaigh
no air Betlehem an àigh
ach air cùil ghrod an Glaschu
far bheil an lobhadh fàis,
agus air seòmar an Dùn Èideann,
seòmar bochdainn ’s cràidh,
far a bheil an naoidhean creuchdach
ri aonagraich gu bhàs.

Thursday, May 28, 2009

Another day, another poem; this is getting addictive.
H.J.Daniel (1819-1889), of Lostwithiel, Cornwall. That's all I knew about this gent, and I wasn't certain about Lostwithiel. Anyway I searched the web and learned a little more. All the above confirmed. Henry John Daniel, born Lostwithiel, 14th February 1818, the son of one Samuel Daniel, wholesale grocer. He wrote mostly in the Cornish dialect and his poems were published in West Country newspapers. The Dictionary of National Bigraphy ignores him. The only verse of his I could find online was a two-line epitaph for his wife -

"To follow you I'm not content
How do I know which way you went?"

The poem I have is also an epitaph, his own -


Here lies a bard, let epitaphs be true,
His vices many, and his virtues few;
Who always left religion in the lurch
But never left a tavern for a church,
Drank more from pewter than Pierian Spring
And only in his cups was known to sing;
Laughed at the world, however it may blame,
And died regardless of his fate or fame.
Messi 1, Ronaldo 0
The world's greatest player? He wasn't even in the top five ON THE PITCH last night. He wasn't even United's best player. Still, Berlusconi was cosying up to him. Maybe he'll find a home at AC Milan.
No diving in the penalty area, no harrassing of the referee; Plastic-Features and his mates were really off-form.

Wednesday, May 27, 2009

Now I'm off to watch some petulant millionaires bully a referee.
More poetry;
Ken Smith wasn't born in Hull, but he spent his schooldays here, so I'll grant him honorary citizenship. In fact a mate of mine went to school with him. He reckons the young Ken was a James Dean lookalike, which impressed his contemporaries no end. James Byron Dean was a big deal in those days.
I've met three real poets in my life, one of them was Ken Smith. He was doing a poetry reading of other people's work. I remember the Vosnesensky poem, "I am Goya", which impressed me, and which will probably feature hereabouts in the near future.
But back to Ken Smith; the following is a favourite of mine. It's about national service -


You shout. I jump. The body locks.
The world lies level with my nose.

Words snap to muscles.

You use my body,
but the dead are stumbling in my brain.

Whose gun is this I carry?

The unfastidious assassin bawls and I obey.
Who would he have me kill this day?
Cyps? Lithuanians? I hear Jews
are still in season.

The gun is smooth, clean. He didn't wear
a uniform who bored this spiral,
shaped this stock, fixed sights.

I put a stop to thought, and hate instead
all those who put me here, who shaped
me this blind toy, and taught its use.

They gibber in my brain. And all around
the blind unthinking dead are piling up.

Tuesday, May 26, 2009

Cameron is promising to extend democracy, to give power to the powerless, to bring glasnost to the UK parliament. Like all parties in opposition his can promise the earth, and treat its promises as pie-crusts when taking over government. What else is new?
Oh Jesus, NO! He wants to turn the House of Commons into the Big Brother house. He wants to fill it up with minor "celebs" and showbiz rejects in search of a cushy berth, and give us the chance to vote them out in telephone polls. It had to come.
On second thoughts, why not? We probably won't notice any difference from the previous set-up. The current batch are expensive, ineffectual, and objectionable; so really, more of the same.

Monday, May 25, 2009

The BBC is having a poetry season. I haven't heard any of the poems broadcast, I'm just guessing that they won't be my kind of poetry. I like poetry but, being a simple soul, I don't like anything too abstract or metaphysical (not even sure what that means). Nor do I like stuff about nature and the countryside, or declarations of love.
My kind of poetry is straightforward, punchy, maybe witty, maybe lary, almost always short. Also I like political protest stuff, sticking it to "the man", having a pop at the ruling class. I also like poems about the condition of the working class, to borrow a phrase of F. Engels. Idris Davies, now there's a poet I can get along with. Joe Corrie too, he's bound to get a nod.
Some of the poetry I like might be classified as doggerel by more knowledgeable people. Still, if it pleases me it goes into my anthology, i.e., it's scribbled down in a notebook, or on a piece of paper tucked inside a book. One day I'm going to type it all out on this machine and put it on a memory stick - my anthology.
As a start to this mighty project I'm going to have my own poetry season. I intend to type a few poems I like into this blog then save them on some or other device.
I begin with one of Alex Comfort's, one that, although written decades ago chimes with the zeitgeist -

(For my tripehound)

My puppyhood convinced my mother
that I was destined to be great -
avoiding my more vigorous brother
I bit my weaker litter mate:
I am a minister of state.

An idle cynophilic race
demands the cur to make it run -
the lapdog voice, the poodle-face
denote the leader. I am one;
the biggest bitch's eldest son.

I do the mischief I am able,
I make the best of what I get -
keeping me is my country's foible:
I am an inexpensive pet -
there is no filth I will not eat.

From squalid noise I will not cease
until run over or put down.
My statue in a public place
will have it's fitting honours done
by all the other dogs in town.

Sunday, May 24, 2009

"The SLP today lodged a complaint against the BBC for failing to Include the SLP list of candidates for the London region on the BBC news website. Lewisham borough council who are acting as the returning office for the election confirmed that they had issued the full list to the BBC, which included Party Leader Arthur Scargill as number one on the List. SLP Members were left wondering whether this was a genuine oversight or a sign of things to come as the BBC turns to more even more "embedded" journalism during the election campaign."

Surprise, surprise!
The leader of the UK Independence Party has become highly dependent on public money to finance his independence. He claims to have syphoned off £2 million in expenses from the European Parliament. It strikes me that this fellow has little incentive to derail his magnificent and munificent gravy train, supposedly his reason for taking a seat in an establishment he claims to despise. The expression "full of shit" seems to fit this top rank sponger.
Oh, and he thinks Members of the UK Parliament have ripped off taxpayers.
The antics of other UKIP MEPs are touched on in the linked article -
" ... one of the dozen [MEPs], Ashley Mote, was expelled from the party - and later jailed - for benefit fraud. Another, Tom Wise, is now facing prosecution for alleged false accounting and money laundering relating to his EU expenses. He denies the charges. Television presenter Robert Kilroy-Silk, who won the East Midlands for Ukip, later left to form another eurosceptic outfit, Veritas."

Apparently more voters are expressing their intention of backing UKIP at the Euro-elections in protest at the corruption of the main parties.
You have to laugh, really, you do.

Saturday, May 23, 2009

The bloke who sold the Telegraph all the MPs' allowance details has emerged from the shadows. He is, he says, a crusader against corruption. He's also a supporter of the Conservative Party, ex-SAS, and he runs a security firm (how secure?). Obviously a very confused fellow, though not disadvantaged in the money-grubbing department.
It turns out that the Telegraph was not his first port of call with the stolen goods; he'd been hawking them around the press and other media.
So why is everybody being coy about how much he trousered for initiating "Trousergate"? He must have had an asking price, there must have been some some dickering. Let's hope Private Eye can come up with a figure if everyone else insists on keeping shtum.
DUH! x 2

The economic system that dare not speak its name -

Gangmaster Jagjit Singh was stripped of his licence for systematically exploiting migrant workers. That's how capitalism works, systematic exploitation of the workforce. So what's he done wrong?

"Society has a neat way of neutralising the advantages that technology brings us". Nick Booth in Thursday's Guardian technology section. Not society, Nick, capitalism.

Friday, May 22, 2009

"Around 100 postal workers in Bristol and Somerset have refused to deliver the BNP’s election addresses, as have a number of workers in Macclesfield, Cheshire.
"CWU union members at offices in Prestwich, Bury, Glossop, Wilmslow and Alderley Edge have also objected to delivering the leaflets."

Wednesday, May 20, 2009

Charlie Brooker on the political party that's already had too much free publicity.

Monday, May 18, 2009

HOPE not hate: Celebrating modern Britain
HOPE not hate
Celebrating modern Britain

I got a BNP leaflet through my door this morning. It's the one with the Italian couple posing as British pensioners "pushed to the back of the queue behind bogus asylum seekers". It was delivered by a postman along with Green Party and a Lib Dem leaflets. The Nazi one was by far the most expensive looking, good to see who the rich are backing. Now, if memory serves, there was some sort of official decision that postal workers have a right to refuse to handle Nazi material. I can only assume, therefore, that our postman is a Nazi sympathiser or that the Post Office management is illegally pressuring its workers to deliver the leaflets. I wonder what the CWU's attitude is to this.

Addendum: the Kirklees Unity website reports that postal workers are being threatened with the sack if they refuse to deliver the Nazi propaganda. They also report that the photograph of construction workers under the slogan "British jobs for British workers" are in fact American.

... and now I learn that the spitfire symbolising the "Battle of Britain 2009" is one flown by a pilot from the Polish Squadron in the Battle of Britain 1940 - British spitfires for Polish pilots.

Sunday, May 17, 2009

OK, they are not all crooks. This is from the Labour Union Digest website -
12/05/09.Kelvin Hopkins shone out as an example of a hard-working Labour MP who claims only minimal expenses on Monday. The Luton North MP's expenses claims were exposed in the rabidly Thatcherite Daily Telegraph - only to show that he has an exemplary record. He claimed just £296 in extra expenses in 2004 to 2005, while the Labour MP in the neighbouring constituency of Luton South Margaret Moran claimed £13,796. Mr Hopkins, a tireless campaigner and socialist economics expert, has claimed just £36.45 for food bills in the entire time since 2005. His total claim for extra allowances last year was just £1,242, including some overnight hotel stays. This compared with £22,343 claimed by Ms Moran, who switched her "second home" allowance to a property in Southampton. Mr Hopkins lives in Luton and commutes daily by train to and from London. Before becoming an MP in 1997, he had worked as a research officer for trade union UNISON and the TUC. At the last election, his majority was 6,487.

In the Guardian Marina Hyde gives Dr. Richard Taylor (Independent) a clean bill of health.

Friday, May 15, 2009

Images Obama won't release; I don't blame him. I don't want to see them. I know without illustration how sick and evil was the Bush administration, how sick and evil were the torturers they let loose on the Iraqi people. The videos will enter the public domain eventually, and no doubt they will gratify sadists and paedophiles.
The question that I ask about this: why do torturers record their crimes? Do they believe that they are inviolate?
"The boys were sodomized with the cameras rolling. The worst about all of them is the soundtrack of the boys shrieking that your government has. They [the Bush Crime Family] are in total terror it's going to come out."
I'm really angry about this MPs' allowances business. Really angry that people are pretending that they didn't know that politicians are in the business of lining their pockets. In our pseudo-democracy the function of parliament and of the political class is to act as a smokescreen for the machinations of the ruling class. Everyone knows that whoever forms the next government will carry on doing what the present government is doing; taking its foreign policy from Washington, and its domestic policy from Rupert Murdoch and his ilk. When things go badly, as they usually do, they are expected to perform the role of scapegoat and divert the public's resentment from the true source of its discontents.
In return for this function they are permitted to help themselves to substantial sums from the public purse. The whole system of remuneration is constructed to facilitate this process. In addition they can earn a little extra by doing favours for the master class. This is their compensation for being the decoy ducks of capitalism.
The press is well aware of this. In fact journalists work under a similar system. They have their expense accounts by means of which they can increase their income substantially. They too can earn a little extra by airing stories for the proprietors of their souls, stories that can enhance or destroy reputations, or boost the price of shares. In return they have to abandon all scruple, and suffer the mistrust and the obloquy of the public.
All this is well known, so why are so many people beside themselves with righteous indignation? Anyone who wasn't aware that our political class is rotten to the core has deliberately avoided the truth, usually out of fear of having to take radical action. Others have kept silent because they benefitted from the corruption.
So what will happen now? The outcry will continue a little longer. A few of the greedier individuals will be thrown to the wolves. These are the "rotten apples" that always feature in cosmetic purges. The press will decide that they've taken the matter as far as they can without undermining the corrupt system that is their bread and butter (and cake, and booze, and whores). There will of course be a committee or two set up, made up of "the great and the good"; that is, senior members of the political class who will claim vast sums in expenses for their trouble. There will be an anodyne report which will lay the blame at the door of no individual or organisation. Meanwhile the corruption will continue, perhaps in some altered form to be exposed a decade or so from now.

Thursday, May 14, 2009

The Taxpayers Alliance are trying to get Elliot Morley prosecuted for his allegedly fraudulent mortgage claims. Good luck with that, ladies and gentlemen, and I wait with anticipation to hear which Conservative MPs you'll be pursuing through the legal system.

Wednesday, May 13, 2009

Once again The BBC shows its true colours -
"The programme failed to mention that Clive Jefferson, one of the BNP activists it interviewed, was arrested two years ago for an alleged public order offence, following a complaint from a member of the public that he had been threatening and abusive whilst distributing BNP literature.
"A second BNP figure featured in the report, Martin Wingfield, was arrested, prosecuted and imprisoned in 1985 under the Race Relations Act, following distribution of racist literature.
"His criminal record was not mentioned either and BNP Deputy Leader Simon Darby advised his members to watch the broadcast, claiming it was, ‘not a bad piece overall’."

Whenever the BNP looks like making progress in elections the BBC gives its representatives a sympathetic hearing and a publicity leg-up.
I note with relief that Lembit Opik didn't claim for the Cheeky Girls' breast implants on his allowances.

Monday, May 11, 2009

Right , we've got to the Tory front bench and - what do you know - Cameron is Mr. Clean. Well, compared to the rest of the crew - young Ozzy didn't let me down. Still I suppose the multi-passported Lord Ashcroft is always good for a sub, and it needn't go through the books.

Conclusion - they're all bent. Now let's see some resignations and prosecutions. Time for some new snouts to access the trough.

Sunday, May 10, 2009

The Telegraph casts its net wider and snares a couple of Sinn Feiners. Still no sign of the expenses records of Cameron and associates.

Saturday, May 09, 2009

Still no sign of Cameron's expense sheet; or Osbourne's; or Hague's; or, er ... don't know any more Tory front-benchers. Is that turd Michael Gove in the team? What happened to Bercow and Lettwin - too Jewish?
Well, let's not be too hasty in accusing the Torygraph of bias, of being corrupt. I see they've taken their naming and shaming beyond the ranks of the Labour Party. Take a bow Alex Salmond, of the Scottish Nationalist Party.

Friday, May 08, 2009

Dog bites man - Politicians are bent. Correction, Labour government ministers are bent. Tomorrow the Telegraph will be publishing the opposition front bench's expenses claims. Well maybe, maybe not. There are hundreds more Labour MPs to name and shame. After that, with a bit of luck, some sort of injunction will be issued; police investigations will place stolen data sub judice, and the Conservatives can relax.
Am I being cynical? We'll know tomorrow.
I've always assumed that there may be a handful of honest, uncorrupted MPs (I won't say incorruptible). Why don't the papers save time and space by naming them, should they exist outwith my imagination. We can then assume that the rest are mired in corruption and prone to nepotism. Of course, the higher they rise the deeper they sink in sleaze.

"An honest politician is one who, when bought, stays bought." (Simon Cameron, secretary to "Honest Abe" Lincoln)
Americans name their brats -
"Also newly popular for boys were Chace, Kash, Ishaan, Jadiel and Urijah. Isla, Mareli, Dayami, Nylah and Jazlene were new popular girl names."

Tuesday, May 05, 2009

Code Pink activists interrupt Shimon Peres during AIPAC speech
Today, Shimon Peres kicked off the AIPAC conference with a special address. Phil noted some observations below. Initial buzz from the speech in and around the conference center is that Peres neglected to mention the need to establish a Palestinian state as part of the peace process. This is shaping up to be an important tension between the Obama and Netanyahu administrations.

During his speech, Peres was briefly interrupted by activists from Code Pink. The photo ... is of Desiree Fairooz standing on a table in front of Peres as he speaks (photo credit: Mark Wilson, Getty Images). Below is the press release they sent out after the action:

WASHINGTON -- During Israeli Pres. Shimon Peres’ speech today at the annual AIPAC (American Israeli Political Action Committee) policy conference at the Washington Convention Center, CODEPINK members raised banners saying “Want Peace? End the Occupation," “What About Gaza?," and “No Money for War Crimes."

As the six activists were forcibly dragged away from the stage, they shouted similar phrases including "Tikun olam (Heal the world) for Gaza, too!", all meant to draw attention to widespread opposition to AIPAC's policies lobbied to Congress that include unconditional support and financing for Israel’s militaristic policies including the recent devastating invasion of Gaza, building of illegal settlements in the West Bank and East Jerusalem, the separation wall, refusal to negotiate with the Palestinians’ democratically elected representatives, and threats to attack Iran.

“The brutal invasion of Gaza was a breaking point for me and many American Jews,” said CODEPINK co-founder Medea Benjamin, who recently led a 60-person delegation to Gaza. “I was appalled by the devastation and the suffering I saw, particularly among the children. As a mother, I feel compelled to speak out against Israel’s bombing of civilians and the ongoing siege that is so devastating to the lives of Gaza’s 1.5 million people—most of whom are under 18.”

While AIPAC claims to represent the U.S. Jewish community, its wholesale support of the Israel government goes against the majority opinions of the Jewish Americans. According to a recent survey by the Jewish lobby group J Street, 76 percent of American Jews support a two-state solution, 69 percent support negotiating with a Fatah-Hamas unity government, and 59 percent felt the Gaza invasion did not improve Israel’s security.

“Like most American Jews, I grew up with a deep appreciation for the state of Israel," said Rae Abileah, a young American Jew of Israeli descent. "After witnessing the attack of Gaza on TV and hearing the calls for crippling sanctions on Iran, I can no longer avert my eyes to the other side of the story most rabbis still aren’t talking about. I am joining the dozens of Jewish organizations, and the growing global movement, advocating a change in the Israeli policies of occupation and aggressive violence. It's high time to drop the victim narrative so that we may all survive, and one day thrive as neighbors.”

CODEPINK activists inside the AIPAC conference (with its theme "Relationships Matter") were: Medea Benjamin, 56, Rae Abileah, 26, Blaine Clarke, 29, Christianna Reinstein, 21, Desiree Fairooz, 53, and Tighe Barry, 52.

“The most important relationships for Israel to cultivate are not with U.S. Congressional allies but with the Palestinian people,” said Christianna Reinstein, a student of Middle Eastern studies who joined the protest inside the AIPAC conference today. “AIPAC’s lobbying of Congress has not made Israel more secure and has hurt American efforts to improve relations in the Arab world.”

The above report is from Philip Weiss's blog (see link). AIPAC is the American Israel Public Affairs Committee, a powerful Zionist lobby group that has most US senators and congressmen in its pocket. As the report points out, it is out of touch with majority American-Jewish opinion, but scares the pants of US politicians. It is not averse to using dirty tricks to bring them in line.

From today's Guardian -
"Aipac wields considerable influence in the US Congress. Its critics say that what amounts to bullying pressure tactics has narrowed the room for debate about Israel, and claim the group has played a leading role in unseating some members of Congress who were critical of the Jewish state's policies"

Monday, May 04, 2009

"When Companies Begin to Lose Money, They Start to Listen"
Pakistan's army: as inept as it is corrupt

"The armed forces account for 20% of Pakistan's national budget, totalling $5bn last year according to official statistics. But the actual figure, already staggering for a country with high levels of illiteracy and malnutrition, is likely to be much higher."
"Every one of Pakistan's democratically-elected civilian leaders has been forced to abdicate by the army. A general has directly ruled the country for 34 of its 62 years of existence."
"According to Ayesha Siddiqua, in her seminal study, "Military Inc", the army's private business assets are worth around £10bn and it owns a handsome share of the country's business and land. The generals, as a result, appear to be more interested in leveraging control over businesses, properties and politics."

(Mustafa Qadri)

Sunday, May 03, 2009

HAPPY BIRTHDAY PETE SEEGER ninety years old today.
This gent seems to have been around all my life, though it turns out I can't have heard his music before 1950 when, with the Weavers, he first made his mark on popular music, with "On Top of Old Smokey". From then on I was hearing his stuff without knowing his name; "Tzena, Tzena", "Goodnight Irene", "Wimoweh", and "Kisses Sweeter Than Wine". Was that last one of Irish origin? The Irish loved it.
Then in the sixties, with the folk revival, Pete came into his own, the Doyen of the genre. Over here we had Ewen McColl, an affine of Pete's, though I'm not sure how the relationship would be described - half-brother-in-law? Comrade McColl was a lot less fun than Comrade Seeger, whose music continued to bother the charts. The songs, not usually his own but refashioned in his style, were taken up by popsters and became Known to a mass audience beyond the folksong community; "Wimoweh", "Guantanamera", "Sloop John B", others I can't think of at the moment. The bloke has been a massive influence on the popular music scene, with his own interpretations and those of his disciples and borrowers. I don't know how many modern artists would cite Comrade Pete as an influence, apart from Springsteen. It should be a multitude.
And to top it all he outlived that creep McCarthy, and all those other witch-hunters and red-baiters; Nixon, Bobby Kennedy, Reagan, et al.
And he hasn't finished yet.

"I'd rather be called red by a rat than rat by a red." (Michael Quill)