You can listen
to a summary of this post as a
as presented to the Irish Senior Citizens Parliament
on 9 September 2009
Frankenstein's monster or Banquo's ghost, here comes the Lisbon Treaty
once more rising from the undead in its latest incarnation, having been
comprehensively killed in three referenda, twice in 2005 by French and
Dutch electorates and once last year by the Irish.
52 million French plus 14m Dutch voters were then simply ignored and
bypassed so as to avoid another pesky referendum, and their respective
governments proudly ratified the treaty in 2008. Sadly, however,
the Irish constitution does not permit such an elegant solution, so
Ireland is now being forced to vote for a second time on the same
treaty, albeit with a few legal guarantees and assurances tagged on.
These will apparently
address what are apparently the five main concerns of the
hyper-sensitive Irish citizenry. Or at least those that it is
convenient to talk about:
Ireland will keep its Commissioner for all time
Ireland will remain in control of its own tax rates,
ie no harmonization of its corporate tax rate of 12½%, much
resented by the French among others and much envied by American
There will be no conscription of innocent Irish lads
into an EU army as cannon fodder for its imperial wars.
The EU will not impose
the “human right” of abortion onto the recalcitrant
Irish (notwithstanding the
EU's latest draft
which would apparently deny
the right of doctors to
perform abortions on religious/conscience grounds).
Workers’ rights and public services will be
“protected” in Ireland (whatever that means).
I don't know how legal or binding these guarantees or
assurances are, but since they are not copper-fastened into the treaty
itself they cannot be unchallengeable. It seems to me they amount
to political promises to make them binding at some point in the future.
This makes them sound more like
and thus a fertile future hunting ground for treaty lawyers.
More to the point, however, these five issues only
nibble at the edges of the Lisbon Treaty and studiously avoid its rotten
core. For it is this core to which a great many
people (OK, me) fundamentally object.
Arising from this, there are four powerful reasons to
vote NO and four more NOT to vote yes.
Here they are in a handy, colour-coded cut-out guide.
we SHOULD vote NO
NBR 1:To start with, there is the dishonesty of having converted
the readable, understandable if internally
Establishing A Constitution For
TEACoFEe as I
once dubbed it - a “tea-coffee-or-whatever-you're-having-yourself”
mishmash designed to please and annoy everyone in equal measure),
into the Lisbon Reform Treaty, an interminable series of deliberately un-readable, un-understandable amendments
to two prior EU treaties (Maastricht and Rome), while otherwise
nearly all of the contradictory content of the TEACoFEe rejected
by the French and the Dutch.
The first major reason to reject Lisbon is
that no proposal founded on such purposeful dissembling should
ever be supported, for you can never know what other dangerous deceits
are hidden in it.
of Belgium's Foreign Minister Karel de Gucht, so honest in their
“The aim of this [Lisbon] treaty is to be unreadable … The
Constitution aimed to be clear, whereas this treaty had to be unclear.
It is a success.”
VOTE NO NBR 2
The second major reason is
similar but different. Just as no rational person would
ever dare sign a contract that he/she couldn't understand, so
no-one should vote for a treaty that he/she couldn't understand,
a point I
argued last year (as did
Think you can understand it? See if you
feel the same after you have set aside the necessary thirteen
hours to give just a first reading to its 272 pages, which I've
timed at three minutes per page. It's
here. Of course to truly understand and absorb it
you'll have to go through it a few more times. So you
better take a week's holiday so you have 40 free hours.
In some ways, the US Congress and Senate face a
problem similar to being asked to vote for an un-understandable
treaty. President Obama asked legislators to vote:
in June for a Carbon Cap and Trade Bill, likely to add up to
trillion dollars in energy-related taxes, which Congress
are now being asked to vote for President Obama's
$1.6 trillion Health Care Bill.
In each case the problem is not (necessarily)
the bills' complexity per se or indeed the horrendous price tags
that will bankrupt America's grandchildren. It is the
enormous physical length of the bills - over a thousand pages
each, filled with new policies and programs that require
government or businesses to spend money - coupled with the short
time allowed to study them because Mr Obama has wanted them passed
in a hurry. In the case of Cap'n'Trade, it was was hours;
indeed at the time it was passed well before dawn the
administrative staff had not even
typing it. (It is of course part of Mr Obama's cute
strategy, perhaps learnt from Mr de Gucht - get the stuff passed
without being read, because if it is read and understood it will
never be passed.)
It's not clear how every US legislator deals
with such bills, but two of them have shared with us their canny
Senator Arlen Specter (originally
Democrat, then Republican, now Democrat again) simply
divides it up and distributes it to his staffers to do the reading
for him. Then he votes yes. As a professional lawyer and big-shot professional
law-maker he is far too busy self-preening to do the only
job he is paid (handsomely) for.
House Judiciary Chairman John Conyers (a
Democrat) is perhaps more forthright, in a dishonourable
sort of way. Hesees no point in reading
these door-stopper bills whatsoever, in particular the
thousand-page Health Care Bill, unless you have two days and two lawyers to interpret it for you. After
all, it's only going to reform fully one-seventh of the US
economy, so why bother to read it before voting to approve it? In
fact, why doesn't he get a voting button installed in his
boudoir so he doesn't even need to get out of bed.
Who can really believe that (m)any of America's
other 533 Federal legislators will, before casting their vote,
have scrutinised and fully absorbed the contents of these three
gargantuan Bills? Even Mr Obama himself
has admitted he doesn't know everything that's in his
signature health care bill.
However the fact that highly-remunerated
professional American legislators are so shameless that they
vote away their citizens' money for generations into the future
without even taking the trouble to read, study and understand
what it is they are voting for, is no example for free Irish
citizens to emulate.
If we cannot understand the Lisbon
Treaty - and rest assured few of us will be able to - we would,
were we to approve the referendum, be as irresponsible to
ourselves and future generations as Messrs Specter and Conyers.
VOTE NO NBR 3
Across the EU, some
60 to 85%
(depending on your sources) of all legislation already
originates in Brussels, which national governments are then
obliged to promulgate into national law. In recent times,
new EU laws have been churned out at almost
two thousand per year, now standing at over 30,000.
That leaves not even half which are originated by and within the EU
content with this, Lisbon would transfer
over a hundred new competencies from the
national to the EU level, covering foreign, security, defence,
trade, justice and economic policy.
Moreover, another sixty-plus EU mandated areas would move from
unanimity to majority voting, reducing further the influence of
individual EU nations. This would represent the
single largest transfer of powers, from States to Brussels, in
the history of the European Union.
Just one example. At present the EU gets
its money from individual States, and doesn't like going
cap-in-hand to them. But would anyone feel comfortable
knowing that under Lisbon the EU
would gain power to impose its own taxes to
raise money, with no stated limit - 1%, 5% 10%? ...
in order to create Article 311 on p238 of a so-called
consolidates all three treaties
but is not
itself a treaty thus has no legal force.
See how easy and fun this all
is when you get stuck into it, and how potentially lucrative if
you're lucky enough to be a treaty lawyer.
do citizens really want faceless EU power over member nations to
increase even further, with ever more areas of national
sovereignty surrendered to the Brusselarians, effectively forever?
This is the third major reason to vote no.
VOTE NO NBR 4:
In Ireland all the
main political parties are united in urging us to vote yes.
“Lisbon is good for you,” they will say, “and voting
No will destroy the country. Trust me”.
Trust you? Really?
Trust the same ruling coalition that
has brought the country to the brink of financial ruin with
reckless, self-serving policies and neglect?
The same opposition
parties so supine they effectively
colluded and refused to oppose in any meaningful manner?
In mid-2007, as certain
prescient individuals began to warn that the Irish economy was
about to collapse, an outraged Bertie Ahern, the Taoiseach (prime
minister) in the current ruling coalition, urged them to
such were his and his party's own economic ignorance and hubris. No
wonder he has had to
cancel his lucrative lectures extolling himself as driver of
the now defunct Celtic Tiger.
As regards what is good for
Ireland's economy, if there is one group of people whose
judgement is supremely suspect it is that of the current
If they are united in
saying vote Yes, then that is the fourth major reason we really must
Why we should NOT vote Yes
DON'T VOTE YES NBR 1
difficulty of readability and understandability are recognized,
even by the Yessirs who would have us approve the referendum.
That is why they are putting out postcards, pamphlets, websites
and print, radio and TV blitzes to explain it to us plebs too
ignorant to work it out for ourselves.
point always to remember is that we will not be voting on these
explanations, however lucid or even correct, because they are
not the treaty. Moreover, why should we take on trust from
people partisan to their cause that their exegeses are complete
and accurate, rather than biased attempts to highlight and
embellish the good stuff while obfuscating the bad?
media campaigns, even when coherent and rational, are not in
reason to vote No, they are also not a reason to vote Yes.
DON'T VOTE YES NBR 2
Many prominent politicians,
in Ireland, Brussels and elsewhere are urging us all to vote
Yes. Well, as Mandy Rice Davies so astutely
observed in 1963, they would wouldn't they? They are heavily
invested, on a personal basis, in the continued enlargement of
EU activity, because that is where all their careers lie.
With the EU so influential in domestic law-making, very few
domestic legislators are going to advance their careers by
vigorously opposing what the EUrocracy wants.
And if you're part of that
EUrocracy - or bodies such as lobbies, lawyers, think-tanks,
service providers which feed directly off the EUrocracy - you know that Lisbon's
expanded powers can mean only one thing: much more work and even
bigger budgets. Thus you can expect massive
recruitment of additional staff to administer the extra work
load, which in turn means juicy promotional opportunities for
you, not to mention enhanced job security.
This may not be a strong
reason to vote No, but the passionate exhortations of heavily
self-interested individuals is no reason to vote Yes.
DON'T VOTE YES NBR 3
Yessirs mostly frame the argument as one of remaining within
or departing the EU. For example, Pat Cox, Ireland's
former president of the European Parliament, who has -
understandably - gone native is an
avid exponent of this dishonest line of argument, especially
as you can couple it for good measure with a bit of traditional
Brit-bashing since there is a huge anti-Lisbon constituency in
In fact, none of the Irish Naysayers want to leave the EU.
We love the EU and we love the €uro. Just as they are.
What we don't want is
powers with untold consequences and
to create through
an appallingly written document a treaty lawyer's paradise.
The slippery reasoning of people like Mr Cox is again not a
reason to vote No, but is certainly no argument for voting Yes.
DON'T VOTE YES NBR 4
The final red herring in the Lisbon soup is the credit
crunch. With absolutely no evidence to back it up, the
Yessirs are claiming that the EU will so disdain Ireland should
it have the temerity to vote No that somehow it would exact
economic revenge on the country.
This is such a calumny on the workings of the EU that it
leaves me breathless. Of course there will be some
mightily unhappy EUrocrats who in a fit of spite will want to
block what goodies they can from Ireland's maw.
But the EU is not the Brusselarians - it's the 500 million
citizens and it is only if they collectively decide Ireland must
be punished that it will. But the citizens of, at
least, France, the Netherlands, Britain and Germany would
clearly reject Lisbon if given the chance. Moreover
Charlie McCreevy, Ireland's own EU commissioner, has
declared that if the Lisbon Treaty were put to referendum in
every EU country, 95% would probably vote no like the Irish.
So a mass plot against
Ireland is inconceivable.
The economic crisis is another non-reason to vote
Yes, and no
impediment to voting No.
In conclusion, why should we put up with being force-fed
the Lisbon Treaty when it is so wrong:
Vote NO for Ireland's future, and indeed for the future
of the rest of the citizens of the EU.
So said Arabia's
Caliph Abu Bakr to Khosru, commander of
Persian forces, on the eve of the Battle of Qadisiyya (within today's
Iraq) in 636 AD between
assembled Muslim forces and Persia. He was trying to coax the
Persians to submit to Islam or face death.
(They didn’t, they lost the battle and
eventually converted to Islam anyway.)
The concept has taken hold within Islam ever since, and
given new legs in recent decades with the Palestinians' war against
Israel and Al Qaeda's against the West. The Jihadists have renewed
their enthusiasm for suicide bombing, and this is being
children in the West Bank and Gaza on an almost daily basis, though
chat-shows, videos and pin-up posters of dead bombers.
They love death and (the Islamic version of) martyrdom,
whereas we in the West undoubtedly love life.
Or do we, do we all?
Actually there is a big section of Western society that
behaves in a manner that disdains life and seeks opportunity to destroy
lives other than their own.
This death cult seems to be embedded in the modern Left,
covering all stages of humanity.
movement favours abortion as the pre-eminent solution to a problem
pregnancy. You will not find their clinics advocating that the troubled
pregnant mother carry the baby to term and then either raise it of have it adopted. Nor will they explain in any detail the
abortion procedure nor the effect on the baby. Indeed they
consider it an outrageous affront to, for example, show the woman
videos of her living foetus or of abortions or a plastic model of a
foetus or to explain some of the long-term physical and mental
consequences of abortion. Too much information is a dangerous thing -
If she better understood the mechanics and implications of abortion she
might be deterred from such a route.
Instead, outfits with names such as
Options” offer advice using the key
or variants, whose subliminal meaning is
“we will fix you up with an abortion”.
At the other end of the life scale is euthanasia, or
assisted suicide. While anyone is entitled to take his/her own
life, to provide assistance for this is to help kill another human
Yet on the
one hand, there is an ever-strengthening movement to provide legal
immunity for this, which can only encourage more such killings.
It also creates the moral hazard that some relatives might be
tempted to encourage granny to exit her expensive nursing home and
do the decent thing, before the juicy inheritance in her bank has
been depleted too much.
On the other
hand, when the State runs the health care system as it does in
Britain (and as President Obama is trying to implement in America),
budget constraints mean that bureaucrats must decide whether it is
worth spending money keeping granny alive. In Britain, they've
£30,000 as the maximum to spend on prolonging a human life by a
year. So if granny's £35,000 treatment would extend her life
by twelve months, then the administrator will tell you to tell her
bye-bye. The NHS, brainchild of the post-war Left-wing Labour
government, mandates she must die.
For those lucky enough to escape abortion and who
haven't yet reached the euthanasia stage, there comes the business of
children. Once again it is the Left that it is in the vanguard of
making this difficult.
Marriage has existed highly successfully through the
ages as the institution that fosters procreation and provides the best
environment for rearing children. That's why society has always
arranged its laws to encourage this process. For without babies,
any society will die, as Japan and Russia are currently and irreversibly
dying with demographically suicidal baby rates of and
1.17 per woman. Yet now we have a Left-driven movement to get
the state involved in same-sex marriage under the all-purpose rubric of
“human rights”. It wants to extend the tax, pension
and other advantages of couples who are in a position to propagate and
rear productive future citizens, to other couples who simply can't.
Once again, the Left favours solutions that don't favour life.
People can privately marry whom (or what) they want in
whatever ceremony they choose, and call it marriage or union or
whatever. But since this brings no benefit to the state, the state
has no business getting involved.
Moreover, once the one-man-one-woman formula for
marriage is violated, why stop at one-man-one-man? Why not three
people, or a man and five camels, or indeed
a woman (Amy Wolfe, 33) and a fairground ride?[**] And why must
sex be involved? Why shouldn't a pair of bridge partners or
spinster sisters or a man and his sons be eligible for the tax breaks?
Meanwhile, in a further anti-life move, it is the Left,
under the guise of greenery, that believes the solution to
overpopulation is for the underpopulated Caucasians to reduce their own
reproduction rate to a demographically perilous
two children per couple while ignoring the high birthrates of most
African and Asian societies.
Yet in the midst of all this anti-lifery, the Left is
also prominent in promoting IVF reproduction, a lucrative business that
now earns more money than plastic surgery. It targets not only
infertile married couples, but unmarried couples, singles, lesbians,
surrogates and women beyond child-bearing age, with little thought for
the future prospects or emotional wellbeing of the
confused offspring that result. Intrinsic in the technology is
the need to produce many embryos of which only a few will survive and
the majority are eventually destroyed. For anyone who believes
that life begins at conception, this is further destruction of human
Yet there is one area where the Left is most vehemently
pro life, in stark contrast to some elements on the Right
who are anti in equal measure: capital punishment.
Personally I am with the Leftists on this - I too oppose executing even
the most heinous criminals because I believe it is intrinsically wrong
to take human life if you don't need to. To protect society you
only have to take them out of circulation permanently - a life sentence
which means life.
Yet is it not odd that the Left oppose only the killing
of people who have been proven guilty of crimes, yet foster the killing
And we haven't even talked about the Left's tolerance of
murderous dictatorships, from Mao to Stalin to Castro to Pol Pot to Ho Chi Minh to
Saddam, to name but a few.
+ + + + + + +
I have no way to rationalise this. But it clearly
isn't just Islamic suicide-bombers who love death and disdain life.
I upgraded from Girlfriend 5.0 to Wife 1.0.
noticed that the new program began unexpected child-processes that
took up a lot of space and valuable resources. In addition, Wife 1.0
installed itself into all other program and now monitors all other
system activities. Applications such as Stagnights 10.3, Rugby 5.0,
BeerWithBuddies 7.5, and Outings 3.6 no longer run, crashing the
system whenever selected.
seem to keep Wife 1.0 in the background while attempting to run my
favourite applications. I’m thinking about going back to Girlfriend
5.0, but the “uninstall”
doesn’t work on Wife 1.0. Please help!
This is a
very common problem that people complain about. Many people upgrade
from the latest available version of Girlfriend to Wife 1.0,
thinking that it is just a Utilities and Entertainment program.
1.0 is an OPERATING SYSTEM and is designed by its Creator to run
EVERYTHING!!! It is also impossible to delete Wife 1.0 and to return
to Girlfriend 5.0. It is impossible to
uninstall, or purge the program files from the system once
go back to Girlfriend 5.0 because Wife 1.0 is designed not to allow
this. (Look in your Wife 1.0 Manual under Warnings - Alimony - Child
recommend that you keep Wife1.0 and work on improving the
environment. I suggest installing the background application “Yes
Dear” to alleviate software augmentation. The best course of
action is to enter the command C:APOLOGIZE because ultimately you
will have to give the APOLOGIZE command before the system will
return to normal anyway.
is a great program, but it tends to be very high maintenance. Wife
1.0 comes with several support programs, such as Clean 2.5, Sweep
3.0, Cook 1.5 and DoLaundry 4.2. However, be very careful how you
use these programs. Improper use will cause the system to launch
the program NagNag 9.5. Once this happens, the only way to improve
the performance of Wife 1.0 is to purchase additional software. I
recommend Furla 2.1, Prada 6.1 and Cartier/Jewellery 5.0.
DO NOT, under any circumstances, install SecretaryWithShortSkirt
3.3. This application is not supported by Wife 1.0 and will cause
irreversible damage to the operating system.
In deference to The Archbishop of Canterbury and the Royal
Commission for Political Correctness, it was announced today
that the local climate in the UK should no longer be referred to
Rather than offend a sizable portion of the population, it will
now be referred to as
In other words - partly Sunni, but mostly Shi'ite.
Four submissions for this issue, one of which
(the second in the list) got published in print in edited form, though not
my rebuttal of my rebutter.
Obama "Birthers" (Again) Letter to the Sunday Times Andrew Sullivan's adulation and self-abasement before President
Obama and horror that some Americans might actually oppose him or his
policies are, frankly, becoming embarrassing. His disparagement of
the "birthers" by misrepresenting their argument is the latest
illustration. He surely knows that ...
Obama 'Birthers'P! Letter published in the Irish Independent on 12th
August 2009 In his tale of personal horror at the very idea that some Americans
might oppose President Obama or his policies, David Aaronovitch
demonstrates exactly why the "birthers" have gained such traction.
He describes how the birthers are questioning whether Mr Obama was, as
the Constitution demands, born in the US. This is due to some flimsy
evidence such as ...
What Obama and My
[ie Chuck Norris's] Wife
Have in Common Comment on an article by Chuck Norris
Hawaii document everyone is providing links to in this thread is NOT
President Obama's birth certificate. It is a computer-generated
“Certification of Live
a different document altogether and one which for certain purposes even
the State of Hawaii does not accept as a birth certificate.
Obama's gesture to the Jews Comment in the
Spectator-hosted Melanie Philips Blog Not content with insulting Jews, Mary Robinson then insulted the Irish
people by aborting her term as president before full term simply because
Koffi Annan made a better offer at the UN. Actually anti-Semitism
in Ireland is closely linked to anti-Unionism ...
A delicious Australian headline on a report
Mohammed is now the most popular choice of name for male babies
in the Netherlands' four biggest cities,
Amsterdam, Rotterdam, The Hague and Utrecht.
Muhammad is also the most popular first name
in the world
and the second-most popular baby name in Britain.
- - - - - O B A M A - - - - -
is a lot of disinformation about health insurance reform out there,
spanning from control of personal finances to end of life care.
These rumors often travel just
below the surface via chain emails or through casual
conversation. Since we can’t keep track of all of them here at the
White House, we’re asking for your help. If you get an email or see
something on the web about health insurance reform that seems fishy,
send it to firstname.lastname@example.org.”
The White House is disgusted by freeborn US citizens
traitorously dare to disagree with President Obama's health care
E-mails, casual conversation and thoughts need to be
Citizens must be encouraged to participate in this endeavour
by eavesdropping and reporting on their
“fishy” neighbours to the White House.
George Orwell would be proud.
Quote: “You know, I have to say that I am not familiar with
the provision you are talking about.”
In an unteleprompted response, President Obama admits
that not even he is aware of what's in his Obamacare bill, named
when asked if Section 102 of the House health legislation
would outlaw private insurance.
Quote: “By the authority vested in me ... I hereby
determine ... to furnish assistance [of] $20.3 million ...
for ... refugee and migration needs ... related to humanitarian
needs of Palestinian refugees and conflict victims in Gaza.”
President Barack Obama commits US taxpayers'
to facilitate the immigration into America,
including housing and food allowances,
of thousands of Palestinians who voted for Hamas
in the parliamentary election of January 2006,
some of whom may well even be members of same.
Few American citizens seem to have noticed
this his fifteenth such
Quote: “Mary Robinson’s Medal of Freedom
[indicates that her] anti-Americanism and anti-Israel activism
win Obama’s approbation.”
John Bolton, America's acerbic former
to the United Nations under George W Bush,
is not impressed by President Obama's decoration of
Ireland's feckless former president.
Her anti-Semitism is eloquently
chronicled in an
open letter to her from Hillel Neuer, executive director of
“What we want to do is to send a message to whoever
is making these decisions, that if you're pursuing nuclear weapons
for the purpose of intimidating, of projecting your power, we're not
going to let that happen ... We're going to do everything we can to
prevent you [Iran] from ever getting a nuclear weapon ... We
believe, as a matter of policy, it is unacceptable for Iran to have
Hilary Clinton, Mr Obama's Secretary of State,
seems to go completely off-message
as she revs up the US Air Force for its anti-nuclear bombing raid.
For are not the Iranian theocracy now Mr
Obama's best friends,
enjoying all the fruits of his renowned
“I have absolutely no belief in my mind that that is going
Hilary Clinton, in her Machiavellian way,
that she will challenge her boss for the presidency in 2012
- - - - - P A L E S T I N E - - - - -
“Fatah will continue to sacrifice
victims until Jerusalem will be returned [to the Palestinians],
clean of settlements and settlers
... including the outlying villages.”
Mahmoud Abbas's Fatah, the
“moderate” party leading the Palestinians
and (unlike its rival Hamas) recognized by the world,
finally reveals its true colours following a three-day convention in
Nothing is acceptable but the ethnic cleansing
of all Jews both from all of Jerusalem east and west and from the
meaning the rest of Israel and its settlements.
Any talk of a peace agreement or a two-state
is therefore, as far as Fatah (and of course Hamas) are concerned,
nothing but a smokescreen and a sham.
Francis Brennan was born in the little village of Kilsheelan in South
Tipperary in 1916, his mother’s fifth child and second son, with one
baby girl to arrive a year later. His father, also Philip, had
another three teenage daughters by a first wife who had died.
With a small farm and some merchant interests that
included wine trading (for which the market must surely have been tiny),
Philip père was able to support his large brood to a reasonable
standard. His passion was coursing; indeed he was a founder in
1916 of the
Coursing Club which prevails to this day. (Coursing is the
popular, largely Irish pastime of setting greyhounds to catch hares,
much reviled today by animal rights groups.)
But then disaster overtook the family. He
succumbed to the Spanish Flu which swept the world in 1918/19, spread
largely by returning WW1 soldiers, which killed more people than the war
itself. There has been no pandemic like it since, though some say
the H1N1 swine flu has the potential to become equally lethal.
He left behind his widow Ethel to care for their six
children under eight plus three unruly step-daughters, but little in the
way of assets or income other than the farm. Life became
immeasurably harder and in 1930 Ethel expired, still a youthful woman
of, essentially, exhaustion. Her children were all under 20 when
they were orphaned and had to make their own way in life.
After his father died, little Phil had been sent to
England to live much of the time with his aunt Rachel, known universally
as “Me-Ant”, in Bury St Edmunds where she was a primary school
headmistress. Thus, though he also attended
College in Tipperary as a boarder, he spent many of his formative
years with Rachel.
Hence it was as a young adult in England that he joined the Shepherd
Neame Brewery (makers of today’s iconic
Spitfire ale) as an apprentice
brewer with an assured-looking future. These were the peaceful
mid-thirties and before long he signed up to the volunteer reservists of
the British Territorial Army. Many young guys did likewise
because, simply, it was good fun. You did a bit of marching, went
on camping trips, got to shoot guns, enjoyed great camaraderie drinking
beer together and chasing girls, and even got paid a little money.
What’s not to like?
However as a reservist Phil discovered in 1939, as did so
many American reservists in 2002 and 2003, that when war breaks out you
can to your surprise quickly find yourself in combat zones, not through
conscription but because you are already a trained volunteer member of
the armed forces.
That’s how Phil found himself commissioned as a Second
Lieutenant gunner with the Royal Artillery in France in 1940, as part of
the British Expeditionary Force sent in the vain attempt to keep the
Nazi military behemoth at bay. And of course it ended in disaster
with the BEF chased ignominiously back to the beaches of Dunkirk.
There, over a fraught period of just nine days in the early summer of
1940, a plucky armada of 850 professional and amateur boats sailing from
rescued a third of a million men.
Phil was one of the last, having
stayed behind to
destroy guns which would otherwise have fallen to the Germans, for which
he got mentioned in despatches.
But his travels, travails and war were just beginning.
He was just one of
70,000 men (and some women) from the Republic
of Ireland who joined the British armed forces in order to
fight the rising fascism, imperialism and global aspirations of Germany,
Japan and their assorted hangers-on, or should I say allies. With
Ireland staying out after deciding it didn’t have
a dog in this fight, some joined up for altruistic reasons, others for
adventure, a number for the money, some ended up conscripted while many,
like Phil, were yoked in by accident.
were honourable and courageous young people who should never have been
regarded in their home country with the disdain they endured for so many
It is extraordinary (and
disgraceful) that the
only statue in Dublin to an Irish volunteer killed during World War
2 is to the IRA’s
in Fairview Park, who was the only one who supported and collaborated
with the Nazis. . (He died in 1940 in a German U-boat bringing him
back to Ireland after
training with Nazi saboteurs and German intelligence.)
Within two months of
Phil's rescue from Dunkirk, he had sailed to India during its monsoon
season, seconded to the 23rd Mountain Battery within 25
Mountain Regiment. This formed part of the Royal Indian Artillery,
a unit to which he remained attached for the remainder of his service.
Always an avid equestrian, he
was delighted his duties included responsibility for the horses and
mules that supported the unmechanised Battery.
My nonagenarian father remembers him well as a handsome,
jovial, chatty fellow with a great turn of phrase. This is evident
in a letter he wrote to one of his sisters shortly after his arrival.
Having waxed lyrical about a batch of flirtatious “airgraphs” he
unexpectedly received from some glamorous soldier-struck young ladies
evidently in their final year of school, he doesn’t say much about the
fighting but laments that he has never ridden an elephant or killed a
tiger. However there are lots of wild animals right there inside
his tent doing a highland fling round his hurricane lamp – beetles,
grasshoppers and assorted bugs.
From India he is transferred to Burma but by late 1941 he
has been moved westward again, to Quetta in today’s Pakistan, and after
that to Waziristan to the town of Razmak, better known in those days, he
tells us, as “the hole of the Empire”. It’s all territory
familiar to today’s Taliban and Al Qaeda and I doubt if contemporary
soldiers fighting them would much dispute such an epithet. Phil
writes to “Me-Ant” that Ramzak is but a cantonment completely
surrounded by barbed wire and “no woman has ever been let within 40
miles of it”. He observes that the local Pathan “has a
great sporting instinct and considers careless British officers fair
game”. One such local, “Buckshee Bill” with his “prehistoric”
rifle, gains notoriety when he “shoots up six columns all on his own
and then comes and sits on a hill slap outside the wire, taking further
pot shots at officers, just for fun”. But he melts into
nothingness whenever soldiers are sent to stop him. Being Irish,
Phil admires these doughty men “because they’re all agin the
government” and wishes he could recruit such able fighters.
Yet he regrets not being in the thick of Japanese action,
until he’s suddenly whisked back to Burma, as adjutant to his regiment
with the rank of Major, one of the youngest in the British Army.
Even then however he is grumbling because “the Japs won’t fight”
in Burma, a thoroughly misguided conjecture as he later admits.
He travels all over Burma as no-one is sure where the invaders will
appear, meeting Shans, Chins, Kachins, Karens, all with their own
language and customs. In fact it seems as if there are no Burmese
in Burma at all.
His pleasant surroundings remind him of Ireland, except
for the bamboo and banana plants and “funny looking houses on stilts”.
But the fun stops when the army moves south to meet the Japanese
invaders at last and some mighty battles ensue with plenty of casualties
on both sides, though unfortunately the censors don’t allow him to
relate details. In his last letter, in June 1942, he is relieved
to have survived “Round One” unlike many of his pals, while he
and his comrades prepare, uncomplainingly, for the next round.
Next three paragraphs re-written 27th
due to emergence of additional information
Further clashes with the Japanese follow over the next
five months but details are sketchy, largely no doubt because he has
apparently volunteered to become part of the Army's
secret, special forces
guerilla organisation called V Force (V for volunteer). This
operates along the 1300 km mountainous Eastern Frontier of India running
from the Himalayas in the north to the Bay of Bengal in the south and
the Arakan region in Burma's north-west. V Force's remit is to remain
behind enemy lines toharass their lines of
command, patrol enemy occupied territory, carry out post-occupational
sabotage and provide intelligence, with the overall objective of keeping
the Japanese out of India.
adventurous young volunteers who are brimming with energy, find army
regulations and traditions irksome and stuffy and are seeking
action, excitement and the danger of working behind enemy lines.
is working and fighting in Arakan.
However on Tuesday 23rd November
1943, as part of his V Force remit, he sets off early on his horse to
spy on Japanese positions with a colleague,
Anthony Irwin, whom he has to meet up with on the other side of the
Kalapazin river (on Google Earth, 20°50’14.60"N x 92°33’11.78"E).
Though it is deep and flowing deceptively fast, Phil is a strong
swimmer, so rides his horse into the water but they quickly get into
difficulty. He sends his horse back while Irwin swims out to help
him. But Phil, weighed down with his trousers, boots, pistols and
explosives, sinks from the grasp of his friend who himself almost drowns
in the attempt to save him. Irwin tells us that Phil’s last dying
look is one of
rather than fear. He was just 27 years old.
Today Phil, who was my uncle, lies in the majestic
Taukkyan War Graves Cemetery, 35 kilometres north of Rangoon in
Burma, to use the old names, which I had the privilege
of visiting in July. He is but one of the cemetery’s 6,465 fallen
warriors who heroically gave their vibrant lives for an honourable
cause, each with his own story such as Phil’s. They come from
Ireland, from all parts of Britain, from India including today’s
Pakistan and Bangladesh, from West Africa; Christians, Jews, Hindus,
Muslims, Atheists; of every rank from high to low; each grave adorned
with the same style of simple gravestone; all equal in death. The
majority of them were, like Phil, in their twenties. But one was
only sixteen. Imagine. Some of the inscriptions from
distraught families would break your heart: “my only son”, “his
warrior grave”, “he vowed to do his best and he did”, “our
own lives shattered”.
Another monument names 1,074 fallen Indian soldiers who
have been cremated as their religious rites require. 28 monumental
pillars are inscribed with the names of a further 27,000 men and women
whose bodies were never recovered – hailing from Burma, India, Nepal,
Africa and numerous other parts, many of them slave-labour victims of
the brutal Japanese project to build a railway line to bring military
supplies from Bangkok to Rangoon, immortalised in the 1957 movie “The
Bridge on the River Kwai”. And
Taukkyan is just one of three such cemeteries in Burma, which was itself
just one small corner of a vicious global conflict.
We in the free world truly owe an extraordinary debt to
these brave young people who fought and died so valiantly to preserve it
for us. We can repay it only by doing whatever we can to continue
to safeguard human freedom. Sadly, Burma itself is one country
where it has been extinguished, by its totalitarian junta.
Let me close by using the final, poignant words of Pat
Carmichael, in his book
Mountain Battery, which provides further details of my uncle Phil's
deeds in Burma and ends by transcribing Anthony Irwin's account of his
“When you go home,
Tell them of us and say,
For your Tomorrow
We gave our Today”
Myanmar may not be every tourist’s first port of call, but it has much
to recommend a visit, assuming you have the perseverance to obtain a
visa. I made a trip there in July.
The nearest embassy is in London, but requires that you post away your
passport for three days. Alternatively, you can visit a Myanmar embassy
in person. Once you have filled in countless forms, provided copies of
your passport and travel details, furnished three passport photos and
paid the requisite fees, the process is rather simple and courteous. I
applied in Kuala Lumpur, where I was impressed to read a sign saying
that passports would not be issued or renewed for Myanmar citizens
unless they could prove they were income tax compliant. What an
excellent idea to emulate.
Flights to Myanmar are few, but there is a daily service out of
airport, though small, is very new, spacious and all glass and marble.
Immigration and customs work fine once you’ve filled out even more forms
and had the stern uniformed officials minutely scrutinise your papers.
There is a helpful, English-speaking tourist office in the airport when
you’ve cleared customs. You’ll find that foreign mobile phones don’t
work (you need to buy a local SIM card) but the internet does – just
about and very slowly, but not Skype, all subtle reminders that you’re
in a totalitarian state where communication must remain controllable.
the airport, Yangon city, 20 km away, is really ramshackle – clearly no
maintenance has been carried out for the
47 years the generals have been running the place.
It reminded me
of Lagos (Nigeria) in the 1970s or Hong Kong in the 50s – dirty, broken
paving stones, potholed roads, rust-bucket vehicles, dilapidated
one-time gracious buildings from a bygone colonial era, hawkers selling
food on the street (in fact after dark every pavement transmogrifies
into a restaurant), mothers washing their naked toddlers in the drains,
laundry hanging out of the windows to dry (in the rain), coolies asleep
on make-shift beds (their only home). The only things in good condition
seem to be huge and magnificent gold-clad pagodas – hence the country’s
moniker, “the golden land”. Yet it has a certain charm, and at the same
time, everyone seems very friendly and eager to talk to a foreigner – of
whom there seemed to be very few.
Everything is extraordinarily cheap for someone with hard currency.
Moreover, you quickly learn not to change money in the bank: a private
money-changer will give you three times as many “Kyats” (pronounced
biggest banknote is a thousand Kyats, worth about a US Dollar, so you
end up with a huge wad of bills. My downtown hotel, the
Panorama, cost US$30 a night for a huge clean room, complete with
bathroom, TV, minibar, aircon and breakfast. Atypical dish in a
restaurant will set you back a couple of Euros; another Euro will buy
you a pint of the local beer, called Myanmar. For under forty Euro, you
can have an ancient car with English-speaking driver at your disposal
for a full day’s sightseeing.
Myanmar, the size of France, is the largest country in Southeast Asia,
1900 km north to south (its coastline is of
similar length), with 48 million people, 90% of them Buddhists.
It’s divided into fourteen provinces, most with their own language and
culture – Hmongs, Shans, Chins, Kachins, Karens and of course Myanmarese
to name but a few. So you’ll need a lot of car-days to see much of
other hand, a day-trip out of Yangon can delight. The pagodas that dot
of four million and the surrounding area are magnificent places of
worship, in immaculate condition and wonderfully illuminated at night
by search lights, all funded
by private donations from people who have
very little to spare. To see the wonderful buildings, statues,
paintings and other icons and the devout behaviour of worshippers coming
to pray almost makes you want to convert to Buddhism.
talk privately to the people – and a surprising number have a good
command of English – you quickly learn that there is a visceral hatred,
shared by perhaps 90% of the populace, for the military junta that
governs them. Citizens believe that spies and informants are
everywhere, and that you can trust no-one you don’t know, much as the
Stasi infiltrated East German society during the depraved decades of the
Soviet Empire. There is a ban on all (self declared) foreign
correspondents, while photographing anything remotely military will have
your camera confiscated.
other hand, citizens welcome illicit activities such as black markets as
symbols of political defiance as much as acts of economic necessity.
This includes sale, by men armed with oildrums, jugs and hoses, of
unlimited petrol for a 50% mark-up, since the state will sell you only
nine litres a day at its official filling stations.
will tell you they yearn for democracy and truly revere Nobel laureate
Aung San Suu Kyi, currently facing a five-year prison term on
trumped up charges, mainly because her period of house arrest has
expired. They have watched with fascination the recent upheavals in
Iran, as similarly repressed people have sought to seize freedom from an
equally wicked fascist regime. The Myanmar junta fear only one thing:
what would ensue were they to do the obvious thing and kill the pesky
lady. They seem to believe that the consequent public outrage would
indeed spell the end of not just the junta but no doubt the lives of the
“Leader General”, Tan Shwe and his cohorts.
best traditions of nationalism and socialism (a deadly combination -
especially when combined into a single [Teutonic] word),
the generals forbid most forms of foreign investment and ensure major
industry, such as there is, remains in the hands of the State. It
prefers to deal with fellow totalitarian governments, for example China
for mineral mining and timber exports, North Korea for secret tunnel
building (and maybe even
outsourced nuclear activity). For this reason,
you see none of the familiar multinational names – such as
Exxon, Starbucks, Citibank, nor can you use your credit cards. Private
enterprise itself is impeded by bureaucratic red tape, except for very
rudimentary businesses such as taxis, primitive restaurants, small
shops. Yet as in every totalitarian state, you are in no danger of
being mugged in the street. This is because crime, like all important
businesses, has been nationalised and is the monopoly of the junta’s
all-pervasive state machinery, the only entity allowed to rob, rape and
several other Asian and African countries illustrate the same point,
Myanmar is a classic illustration of the power of freedom and
capitalism, or rather what happens when these are suppressed – poverty
and lack of development. Myanmar has an average GDP of just
US$1,200 per person which puts it among the bottom eighth in the
world, even poorer than Haiti. Yet it is a nation rich in potential,
with plenty of arable land, a 1900 km eminently fishable coastline,
timber, metal ores, marble, limestone, precious stones, hydrocarbons,
hydropower and a large young bright population. The people know that
the only reason Myanmar fails to emulate the performance of their much
envied Asian neighbours such as Thailand, Malaysia, Singapore is the
iron hand of the reviled junta. They live in hopes that one day
democracy will arrive, even if, some will whisper, courtesy of an
reminded of what Thomas Jefferson once said,
the people fear their Government, there is tyranny.
When the Government fears the people, there is liberty.”
In Yangon, the main city of Myanmar (Rangoon and Burma for the more
traditional) you seem to have a choice of three kinds of restaurants.
There are a couple of five-star hotels, such as Traders, where you will
get the kind of service, cuisine and prices you expect at the Four
Seasons or Mandarin Hotel in any major city (so why would you go to one in Yangon?).
there are establishments,
some with grand names such as the Global
Restaurant, that front onto and over the street with ancient tiled
floors and decrepit furniture like your granny’s kitchen but without her
attention to cleaning, sweeping and maintenance. These, and similar
ones that appear only on the streets after dark, are the city’s busiest
restaurants, many with open charcoal fires cooking strange-looking body
parts, but with plenty of rice and delicious spicy smells. They are so
cheap the proprietors almost pay you to eat there.
The third type aspires to be upmarket and goes some way to achieving
this. Lion World is one, situated on the corner of Shwedagon Pagoda
Road which leads to the magnificent golden-roofed eponymous pagoda
(Illustrated in previous post), and Bogyoke Aung San Road, which
commemorates the assassinated father both of independent Burma and of
the brave, beautiful, jailed Aung San Suu Kyi. It is located on a wide
verandah on the first floor of a bedraggled building, with tables set
out in pairs along its length and a lit stage at one end. You can get
there via an outside staircase or take the lift. But if you take the
lift you have to wait while a little man runs to switch on the
generator, and hope the generator keeps chuntering till you reach our
I went there two nights in a row and enjoyed the identical culinary and
other experience each time. The attraction wasn’t just the wonderful
spicy fried rice served with microthin slices of pickled onions (1500
Kyats, pronounced Cha’, or €1.20 at the black market rate) and the big,
plump, freshly barbecued prawns (60 cent each), or even the man-sized
milk-jug of ice-cold Myanmar beer – that’s the brand name, not just the
country – for a princely two euro. Or the pages of other delights that
filled the menu, mainly variations on curries involving pork, fish,
goat, chicken, mutton.
There also was, for want of a better word, a perpetual floor show.
Accompanied by a one-man electronic keyboard band,
succession of young girls would get up and sing the latest Myanmar
love-songs. These were delivered with deadly solemnity, the girl’s face
always hidden behind her huge microphone, sometimes even singing in
tune, and often garlanded by a waiter with a tinfoil boa or a bouquet of
plastic flowers. The important thing was the amplifier with the bass
set at its thud-thud-thud maximum, which would have the barbecued prawns
jumping off the plate and into your spicy fried rice. Her number
accomplished, the singer would then immediately rush off the back of the
stage lest anyone should add to her confusion by applauding. Which
nobody ever did.
The singers would then be interspersed with an extraordinary fashion
show down a scruffy red-carpeted catwalk constructed between the
slender young ladies would show up on stage and one-by-one parade,
steely-faced, looking neither right nor left and obviously consumed with
embarrassment, down the catwalk. But each would be wearing the
identical attire, either an evening gown or a day outfit and always
altitude-sickness heels, preferably studded with diamonds. Sadly, it
was impossible to elicit as much as a smile or a grin or a twinkle from
any of these Myanmar models. I know; I tried (but then sensible girls
always run a
mile when I attempt to be suave). For their final act, the mannequins
would parade in a crocodile line up and down the catwalk. Then, after
another warbler, the eight girls would return and perform the selfsame
act but in a different communal costume.
Since there were no announcements or advertisements to tell you where
you could buy the clothes being displayed, it was a mystery to me who
was paying for the costly show and why. At the ridiculous prices being
charged for food and drink, the restaurant itself could not have had
much of a margin for such frivolity.
Photography in Lion World is strictly forbidden, especially of the
fashion models, for fear that this would inexorably lead to the collapse
of public morals. So I dodged the waiters and photographed them anyway
on the principle of act-now-apologise-later. Sorry.
Despite everything I have said, however, the atmosphere was rather
charming and delightful, and the food was delicious and very
economical. I would certainly recommend Lion World – but don’t sit too
near to those monster loudspeakers with their woofers. And leave your
camera at the hotel.
Late Note (1 Sep 09):
Oh, and as I later discovered via the internet, the far end
of the long thin restaurant turns out to be the centre of Yangon’s gay
scene, though it looked pretty tame to me.
In any case I escaped unscathed.
In this extraordinary age of Government stimuli and bank bailouts, ultimately to be funded
by taxpayers, their children, grandchildren and great-grandchildren as
yet unborn, it is helpful to understand the kinds of units being bandied
around. In Europe it’s stimuli in the Billions and hundreds of
Billions of €uro (or Pounds); in America
the Messiah prefers Trillions of Dollars.
But who can really understand what these numbers mean in practice?
Well here’s a way.
Suppose instead of €uros, Pounds and Dollars, we
were talking about seconds ticking by. Suppose, for example, that you
are being being paid, per second, one €uro or one Pound or one Dollar. How long, do you
think, before you will have earned a million, or a billion?
Here’s the answer:
One second =
= 10 seconds
seconds = 1.7 minutes
This illustrates the terrifying reality of exponentialism in action.
Makes you think, no?
And as I’ve
argued separately, these stimuli are entirely unwarranted, because
the drops in oil price and associated commodities over the past year are
providing more than enough stimuli to world economies, and should at
least be given a chance to work their magic before adding to them out of
taxpayer's pocketsw. Moreover,
they not only never need to be paid back, but will last only so long as
the depressed world economy requires them.
Why should our grandchildren and yet unborn great-grandchildren be
burdened, without any consultation, with repaying the trillion €/£/$ debts to meet our unnecessary profligacy? Why, as a result, should they
be forced to lead less wealthy, less comfortable lives than we ourselves
Don’t listen to people’s guff about caring for the wellbeing of children
and for their future. Anyone who supports these billions and
trillions of spending clearly has nothing but the utmost contempt for children,
for tiny babies, for the unborn and for the yet unconceived.
Do you think Bernard Madoff’s 150 year sentence is excessive?
Comment in the Irish Times in response to a poll question You’ve got to hand it to Bernie. Once the law was on to
him, he knew the game was up for him personally. The gigantic nature of his
frauds, plus his advanced years, meant that he would never get out of prison
alive. So he obviously brought his family together (wife, sons,
brothers) and said words to the effect,
“I’m dead meat ...
The modern heresy of true science Comment in the Spectator-hosted Melanie Philips Blog The “science” that purports to prove global warming is caused
by anthropogenic CO2 is indeed bunkum. Just have a look at this
guide to the molecular physics involved. To summarise, CO2
molecules warm the world by vibrating when hit by infrared rays from the
sun bouncing off the earth. It’s the vibrations that give off heat.
But the molecules are tickled into vibrating by only 8% of the infrared
spectrum. Moreover, ...
Should the world fear North Korea’s latest sabre rattling? Comment in the Irish Times to a poll question North Korea’s improved nuclear weapons, its renunciation of the 1953
armistice and the unpredictability of Kim Jong Il its dictator make for
a very dangerous combination indeed. With the two Koreas now technically
back in a
war, does Seoul wait for a bomb to arrive from the North or does it
pre-empt and invade? In either event, dreadful conflagration could
follow, sucking in both China and America, the respective allies.
And what will Iran do as it watches ...
“I don’t have all the facts ... the Cambridge Police acted
President Barack Obama responds
to a planted question
over a minor irrelevant law-enforcement incident
in spite of knowing that he didn’t know the full facts about
the rightful arrest of his friend Professor Henry Louis
for disorderly conduct.
The next day he reinforced his comment.
The day after that he semi-retracted it but didn’t apologise.
Then he invited all involved for a beer at the
Is such behaviour presidential,
or just racist?
Quote: “And so next to Obama beach, we
join President Obama to pay particular tribute to the spectacular
bravery of American soldiers who gave their lives.”
A Freudian slip by a fawning Gordon Brown,
speaking at D-Day commemorations at Omaha Beach
“I would hope that a wise white male with the
richness of his experiences would more often than not reach a better
conclusion than a Latina woman, who hasn’t lived that life.”
That’s what President Obama’s Supreme Court
nominee Sonia Sotomayor, a second generation Hispanic American,
and obviously a racist, didn’t quite say.
“The Holy Koran teaches that whoever kills an
innocent, for other than manslaughter or
infidelity] in the earth, it is as if he has
killed all mankind; and whoever saves a person, it is as if he has
saved all mankind. Our messengers came
unto them of old with clear proofs (of Allah’s sovereignty), but
afterwards lo! Many of them become prodigals of the earth. The only
reward for those who make war upon Allah and His messenger and
strive after corruption in the land will be that they will be killed
or crucified, or have their hands and feet on alternate sides cut
off, or will be expelled out of the land.”
President Barack Hussein Obama quotes
verses 5:32-35 from the Koran, approvingly.
Except he leaves out the inconvenient bits in
in order to deceive his infidel listeners
into thinking that the Koran somehow promotes peace and harmony.
“[Overseas,] neither friend nor foe respects
And neither will be led by him.”
editor of Human Events
and one time deputy undersecretary of defence under George HW Bush.
He is commenting on, inter alia,
North Korea’s rocket and nuclear testing,
Israel’s continued expansion of West Bank settlements,
Iran’s deployment of warships in the Gulf of Aden,
Nato’s allies refusal to send combat troops to Afghanistan.
Joe Biden was uncomfortably prescient when,
alluding to his running mate’s inexperience, he
said last October
“it will not be six months before
the world tests Barack Obama like they did John Kennedy
... we’re going to have an international crisis.”
“Them Jews ain’t going to let him talk to me.”
Rev Jeremiah Wright, the deeply unpleasant
who married the Obamas, christened their children
and preached to the Obamas for twenty years,
reminds everyone that he is as thoroughly racist as ever.
“I’d burn Israeli books myself if I found any in
libraries in Egypt.”
Farouk Hosni, Egypt’s Minister of Culture,
who has been nominated as the next head of UNESCO,
the United Nations
“Educational, Scientific and Cultural Organization”.
His confirmation will confirm the UN’s
Jews cannot possibly contribute anything to education, science or
Personally, I would put the UN in charge of
dishing out Nobel prizes
to ensure Israel doesn’t add to its unwarranted tally of eight.
- - - - - C A N A D A - - - - -
“So much of the criticism Israel faces is
motivated by a dangerous form of anti-Semitism that tries to hide
behind anti-Zionism and is represented by a coalition of the far
left in the West with extreme currents of jihadi Islam that seek the
destruction of the Jewish nation. They seem to believe that the
Jewish people are the only people in the world that don’t have a
right to a homeland.”
Jason Kenney, Canada’s minister of
citizenship, immigration and multiculturalism, elected Canada’s
“Best Overall MP”
by fellow parliamentarians.
He is that rare breed of Western politician,
prepared to identify the blindingly obvious
modern incarnation of ancient anti-Semitism.
- - - - - G E R M A N Y - - - - -
“The fall in the [ethnic German]
population can no longer be stopped. The downward spiral is no
longer reversible. It will be a Muslim state by 2050.”
The German Government, via its Federal
is the first in Europe to admit a horrifying reality.
The Germans’ current fertility rate is just 1.3
babies per woman,
a demographically suicidal rate
which history has shown to be impossible to recover from.
- - - - - L I S B O N T R E A T Y - - - -
France, 80% of the legislation passed by the National Assembly in
Paris originates in Brussels — that is, at the European Union’s
civil service. Who drafts it? Who approves it? Whom do you call to
complain? Whom do you run against and in what election? And where do
you go to escape it? Not to the next town, not to the next county,
not to the next country.”
Mark Steyn encapsulates EU lawmaking and the
Lisbon Treaty nicely
- - - - - C L I M A T E - - - - -
“Worrying is the way the responsible citizen of an
advanced society demonstrates his virtue: he feels good by feeling
“Politics is made up of two words:
which is Greek for
which are bloodsucking insects.”
Gore Vidal, sometime in the 1980s;
cousin of Al the professional global warm-monger
- - - - - C L E R I C A L A B U S E - - - - -
“As a congregation, we recognise and accept our
culpability along with our moral obligation to former residents, to
present and future generations of children and to society as a
The Christian Brothers, one of Ireland’s leading clerical orders,
accepts responsibility for
the physical, sexual and emotional abuses it heaped
on children under its care during the past century.
There were eighteen other clerical orders
who committed similar violations
- - - - - - M I C H A E L J A C K S O N - - - - - -
“We want to celebrate this white man. He belongs to
us and we shared him with everyone else.”
In typical racist fashion, Jamie Foxx claims
Michael Jackson as a fellow white man.
Oops! Typo! For
Of course, when black guys such as Mr Foxx
say this stuff, it’s not racist. Though it is surely racist to measure blacks’ racist behaviour
by a lesser standard
that that of whites’.
It all gets rather complicated.
But the irony is that Michael Jackson hated
and spent his life (and a chunk of his fortune)
changing himself through drugs and surgery
from being a black man into a white woman,
with, interestingly, children who are fully Caucasian.
“The Lemon Tree”, by Sandy
is a delightful novel-style history of modern Israel and Palestine told
through the eyes of a thoughtful protagonist from either side, with a
household lemon tree as their unifying theme.
But it's not
entirely honest in its subtle pro-Palestinian bias, and therefore needs
to be read in conjunction with an antidote, such as
This examines events which led to BP's 2010 Macondo blowout in
the Gulf of Mexico.
BP's ambitious CEO John Browne expanded it through adventurous
acquisitions, aggressive offshore exploration, and relentless
cost-reduction that trumped everything else, even safety and long-term
Thus mistakes accumulated, leading to terrifying and deadly accidents in
refineries, pipelines and offshore operations, and business disaster in
The Macondo blowout was but an inevitable outcome of a BP culture that
had become poisonous and incompetent.
However the book is gravely compromised by a
litany of over 40 technical and stupid
errors that display the author's ignorance and
It would be better
to wait for the second (properly edited) edition before buying.
As for BP, only a
wholesale rebuilding of a new, professional, ethical culture will
prevent further such tragedies and the eventual destruction of a once
mighty corporation with a long and generally honourable history.
nonagenarian Alistair Urquhart’sincredible story of survival in the Far
East during World War II.
After recounting a
childhood of convention and simple pleasures in working-class Aberdeen,
Mr Urquhart is conscripted within days of Chamberlain declaring war on
Germany in 1939.
From then until the
Japanese are deservedly nuked into surrendering six years later, Mr
Urquhart’s tale is one of first discomfort but then following the fall
of Singapore of ever-increasing, unmitigated horror.
After a wretched
journey Eastward, he finds himself part of Singapore’s big but useless
Taken prisoner when Singapore falls in
1941, he is, successively,
part of a death march to Thailand,
a slave labourer on the Siam/Burma
railway (one man died for every sleeper laid),
regularly beaten and tortured,
racked by starvation, gaping ulcers
and disease including cholera,
a slave labourer stevedoring at
shipped to Japan in a stinking,
closed, airless hold with 900 other sick and dying men,
torpedoed by the Americans and left
drifting alone for five days before being picked up,
a slave-labourer in Nagasaki until
blessed liberation thanks to the Americans’ “Fat Boy” atomic
distraught and traumatised on return to Aberdeen yet disdained by the
British Army, he slowly reconstructs a life. Only in his late 80s
is he able finally to recount his dreadful experiences in this
There are very few
first-person eye-witness accounts of the the horrors of Japanese
brutality during WW2. As such this book is an invaluable historical
“Culture of Corruption:
Obama and His Team of Tax Cheats, Crooks, and Cronies”
This is a rattling good tale of the web
of corruption within which the American president and his cronies
operate. It's written by blogger Michele Malkin who, because she's both
a woman and half-Asian, is curiously immune to the charges of racism and
sexism this book would provoke if written by a typical Republican WASP.
With 75 page of notes to back up - in
best blogger tradition - every shocking and in most cases money-grubbing
allegation, she excoriates one Obama crony after another, starting with
the incumbent himself and his equally tricky wife.
Joe Biden, Rahm Emmanuel, Valerie Jarett,
Tim Geithner, Lawrence Summers, Steven Rattner, both Clintons, Chris
Dodd: they all star as crooks in this venomous but credible book.
ACORN, Mr Obama's favourite community
organising outfit, is also exposed for the crooked vote-rigging machine
This much trumpeted sequel to
Freakonomics is a bit of disappointment.
It is really just
a collation of amusing
little tales about surprising human (and occasionally animal) behaviour
and situations. For example:
Drunk walking kills more people per
kilometer than drunk driving.
People aren't really altruistic -
they always expect a return of some sort for good deeds.
Child seats are a waste of money as
they are no safer for children than adult seatbelts.
Though doctors have known for
centuries they must wash their hands to avoid spreading infection,
they still often fail to do so.
Monkeys can be taught to use washers
as cash to buy tit-bits - and even sex.
The book has no real
message other than don't be surprised how humans sometimes behave and
try to look for simple rather than complex solutions.
And with a final
anecdote (monkeys, cash and sex), the book suddenly just stops dead in
its tracks. Weird.
A remarkable, coherent attempt by Financial Times economist Alan Beattie
to understand and explain world history through the prism of economics.
It's chapters are
organised around provocative questions such as
Why does asparagus come from Peru?
Why are pandas so useless?
Why are oil and diamonds more trouble
than they are worth?
Why doesn't Africa grow cocaine?
It's central thesis
is that economic development continues to be impeded in different
countries for different historical reasons, even when the original
rationale for those impediments no longer obtains. For instance:
Argentina protects its now largely
foreign landowners (eg George Soros)
Russia its military-owned
businesses, such as counterfeit DVDs
The US its cotton industry
comprising only 1% of GDP and 2% of its workforce
The author writes
in a very chatty, light-hearted matter which makes the book easy to
However it would
benefit from a few charts to illustrate some of the many quantitative
points put forward, as well as sub-chaptering every few pages to provide
natural break-points for the reader.
This is a thrilling book of derring-do behind enemy lines in the jungles
of north-east Burma in 1942-44 during the Japanese occupation.
The author was
a member of Britain's V Force, a forerunner of the SAS. Its remit was to
harass Japanese lines of
command, patrol their occupied territory, carryout sabotage and provide
intelligence, with the overall objective of keeping the enemy out of
is admirably yet brutally frank, in his
descriptions of deathly battles with the Japs, his execution of a
prisoner, dodging falling bags of rice dropped by the RAF, or collapsing
in floods of tears through accumulated stress, fear and loneliness.
He also provides some fascinating insights into the mentality of
Japanese soldiery and why it failed against the flexibility and devolved
authority of the British.
The book amounts to
a very human and exhilarating tale.
Oh, and Irwin
describes the death in 1943 of his colleague my uncle, Major PF