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Saturday, April 30, 2005

War in Iraq

Let me start by stating quite clearly that I do not excuse Saddam Hussein or his regime for their despicable abuses of human rights and that I am pleased they are no longer in a position to continue them.

So last night, 28/04/05, the Prime Minister: Tony Blair was questioned about his motives for going to war by several members of the audience during BBC Question Time: Leaders' Special. As usual, he was uncompromising in his insistance that he had acted in good faith after both legal and intelligence briefing. Pressed, he stated that he understood and respected that some people continued to disagree with his decision, but that we could now read the advice he was given by the Attorney General, also the intelligence ("It's on the website!", he said.) and make up our own minds whether he was right or not.

Well, I don't give a monkey's toss what the AG said; the only thing more slippery than a lawyer's advice is a statistician's, but I thought I'd take him up on the intelligence though. I think he meant the website of The Cabinet Office and indeed there is a 64page PDF available for download entitled "Intelligence and Security Committee Iraqi Weapons of Mass Destruction - Intelligence and Assessments" and, SWEET MOTHER OF FUCK, I read it. The 1st thing to say about it is that it doesn't actually contain the relevant intelligence but rather, the commitee's interpretatation of it and the uses to which it was put. I suppose that, even though the enemy are dead or in jail, you can't seriously expect the state to divulge the actual information, but to my mind, it's just 1 more layer of potential bollocks between me and the truth.

Although the report is critical of the way in which the intelligence was disseminated, in some nit-picking details, unsuprisingly it attempts to vindicate the PM in as much as it agrees that the information he was given indicated that Saddam Hussein's regime may well have had chemical and biological weapons and probably had a means to deliver them. It goes further; concluding that the intelligence indicated that Saddam had active programmes to produce more Weapons of Mass Destruction. As is so often the case, the devil is in the detail and again, SWEET MOTHER OF FUCK , there i'n't 'arf some detail! Oh aye, I'd be all for that except that there are so many paragraphs that promise to get back to the subject at hand later (at some unspecified point), that it becomes very difficult to hold all the various issues in your mind at once. I've been to university, I'm not drunk (for a change), but unless I knew better I'd suspect deliberate obfustication. Sadly this means that to read a full discussion of the document will require some patience, but I will try to keep the quotes to the minimum length necessary for clarity.

Before I go on to quote the document, I must just draw your attention to the copyright statement:
©Crown Copyright 2003
The text in this document (excluding the Royal Arms and departmental logos) may be reproduced free of charge in any format or medium providing that it is reproduced accurately and not used in a misleading context. The material must be acknowledged as Crown copyright and the title of the document specified.

Well, you know, I wouldn't deprive any author of due recognition for their efforts, but if anyone thinks I've used the material in a misleading context then let me quote the Real British National Anthem:
"Come an' 'ave a go if yer fink yer 'ard enough!"

Continued after a well earned drunken binge.

Post Conflict to 1998
36. Iraq:
had agreed to give up all its WMD as part of the end of hostilities agreement and UNSCR 687, but Saddam Hussein was not committed to decommissioning Iraq’s WMD. He believed that "having" WMD was essential to his survival;

did not co-operate with the UN inspectors; and started a programme of concealment, deception and unilateral, unverified destruction of weapons and facilities.
The UN inspectors found chemical and biological weapons, a nuclear weapons programme and ballistic missiles. They destroyed or secured all that they found and recorded discrepancies in the Iraqi declarations.
Intelligence indicated that:
some chemical and biological agents or weapons, as well as a small number of ballistic missiles, were retained and concealed; and the chemical, biological, ballistic missile and nuclear programmes continued, but at a lower level due to the presence of UN inspectors.
37. These assessments were consistent throughout the period. The UN inspectors continued to find evidence of the pre-1991 programmes and munitions. However, the UN inspectors were working under extreme pressure, intimidation and non co-operation from the Iraqis. Eventually, the UN pulled out the inspectors in 1998. Between 16 and 19 December 1998 the UK and the US attacked WMD-related plants and organisations.

So: much like many other goverments (including our own) that perceive a threat to their existance, Saddam's believed that having WMD was essential and tried to conceal the fact (much like Israel). It seems that the PM was advised that UNSCOM (the United Nations Special Committee on Iraq), with it's mandate to destroy any WMD programme or materials, was effective but was alleged, by the intelligence community, to have been circumvented. This led to UNSCOMs withdrawal and intelligence directed air attacks on Iraqi sites, at least 1 of which was widely reported, not least by the western contractors who built and maintained the place, to have been a Baby Milk Factory. Now meself, I'd have been concerned about the quality of my advice at this point.

1999 to September 2002
38. The JIC assessed that Iraq:
continued the programme of concealment and deception to hide its WMD work;
was not compliant with any of the UN Security Council Resolutions that required it to give up its WMD programmes;
retained a limited amount of chemical and biological weapons and up to 20 al Hussein missiles (range 650km) from 1991;
had a chemical and biological weapons capability;
had the capability and facilities to produce ballistic missiles. There was a successful programme to produce ballistic missiles in excess of the UNSCR 687 range limit (150km) and missiles were manufactured. However,intelligence suggested that the Iraqis had not yet developed chemical and biological warheads for these new missiles and it would take 6 months to overcome the "technical difficulties"; and did not have nuclear weapons capability. It had a programme to develop the capability above its 1990 knowledge and was intent on sourcing the necessary raw materials.
39. The JIC assessed that Iraq had the necessary command and control mechanisms to give authority to launch chemical or biological attacks, although this could be more difficult if conflict had begun.
40. These assessments were based on historical data provided by the UN inspectors, recent intelligence provided by the Agencies and allies and whatever open source material was available. The pre-1998 assessments had been informed by the UN inspections, but thereafter on-the-ground capability was limited to secret intelligence, mainly from GCHQ and SIS and other humint
[human Intelligence: a' source' or 'agent' reporting to SIS - presumably Secret Intelligence Service/s but this is not defined] sources, supported by imint [image intelligence: produced in the UK by the Joint Air Reconnaissance Intelligence Centre which is part of the Defence Intelligence Staff (DIS)].

OK, more of the same then. Except that, by this time, anything inferred from the UNSCOM weapons inspectors was nearly 4 years out of date and if the intelligence was so reliable, how come the US & UK intelligence led bombing hadn't destroyed any such programmes or materials? Paragraph 39 is surely a sick joke? So they had a radio or 'phone, perhaps the Joint Intelligence Committee believed that, in order to counter this particular aspect of the 'threat', we should have bombed Iraq so far into the stone age that they couldn't even light signal fires and amputate all Iraqi limbs to preclude semaphore. The telling points are that Saddam was right in his belief that foreign security services would make use of any information gathered by UNSCOM, which puts his reluctance to comply with UN Security Council Resolutions in a different light and paragraph 39 shows that conflict was already anticipated before UNSCR 1441 was issued on 08/11/02. This section also has the JIC claiming that Saddam "was intent on sourcing the necessary raw materials" to make nuclear weapons, however, later in the report this claim is shown to be highly suspect:

89. The Committee questioned the Chief of the SIS about the reporting behind these statements. We were told that it came from two independent sources, one of which was based on documentary evidence. One had reported in June 2002 and the other in September that the Iraqis had expressed interest in purchasing, as it had done before, uranium from Niger. GCHQ also had some sigint [signals intelligence: intercepted communications] concerning a visit by an Iraqi official to Niger.
90. The SIS’s two sources reported that Iraq had expressed an interest in buying uranium from Niger, but the sources were uncertain whether contracts had been signed or if uranium had actually been shipped to Iraq. In order to protect the intelligence sources and to be factually correct, the phrase "Iraq has sought the supply of significant quantities of uranium from Africa" was used. At the time of producing the dossier
[the so called 'dodgy dossier'], nothing had challenged the accuracy of the SIS reports.
91. In February 2003 the International Atomic Energy Authority (IAEA) received from a third party (not the UK) documents that the party had acquired in the autumn of 2002 and which purported to be evidence of Iraq’s attempts to obtain uranium from Niger. In March 2003 the IAEA identified some of the documents it had received as forgeries and called into question the authenticity of the others.
92. The third party then released its documents to the SIS. The SIS then contacted its source to check the authenticity of its documentary evidence. The SIS told us that its source was still conducting further investigations into this matter.

We don't get to find out what became of these "further investigations" but it's not hard to postulate what might have happened: some sigint suggests that an Iraqi is going to Niger, "Oh my God", says some apparatchik, "he must be trying to buy uranium!", there's no evidence of this but hey, fuck it, "If we offer enough money for some, we'll get what we want.", says the first clown's superior. Of course this assumes that the whole thing wasn't actually a conspiracy from the start, which is well worth considering because, after all , dishonesty is the stock-in-trade of these secret intelligence people. Just who were the "3rd party", eh? Presumably a close ally, if they shared secret info, so why not name them? Well perhaps it was because it was the US and given the CIAs record for dirty dealing, we would all have known it was bollocks immediately. Why didn't the SIS have the IAEA verify the authenticity of it's documents? Perhaps they were the same, or from the same source as the '3rd party's'. Even if it was true, so what? Do we really believe that Iraq could have smuggled enough uranium ore from Niger past the international economic sanctions blockade, rebuilt its reprocessing facility that had been destroyed by UNSCOM in 1995 and produced the fissile material necessary for The Bomb without anyone noticing? My Arse!

Delivery Systems
46. The JIC Assessments clearly describe the weapon systems assessed to be capable of delivering chemical and biological munitions as:
free-fall bombs for aircraft;
artillery shells and rockets (range up to 25km);
helicopter and aircraft sprayers;
al Hussein ballistic missiles (range 650km);
al Samoud/Ababil ballistic missiles (range 150km plus); and
L-29 remotely piloted vehicles.
47. The assessments also spell out the difficulties and complications with using these systems. Iraq:
had, at most, 20 al Hussein missiles that had been hidden since 1991 and were in an unknown condition;
probably did not have chemical or biological warheads for the al Samoud/Ababil missiles;
had free-fall bombs, and helicopter and aircraft sprayers, including the L-29
remotely piloted vehicle, but the use of them would be difficult given the allied air superiority over the Northern and Southern No-fly Zones.
48. The JIC assessed that the Iraqis might use chemical and biological weapons against neighbouring states or concentrations of Western forces. We were told that the weapons systems most likely to be used to deliver chemical and biological munitions against Western forces were artillery and rockets. These are battlefield weapons, which can be used tactically to great effect, but they are not strategic weapons.

"Within 45 minutes"
49. The JIC reported that the Iraqi military could use chemical and biological weapons within 20–45 minutes. On the question of deployment time, the Committee examined the SIS report on which this was based. The report was dated 30 August 2002. It reported, amongst other things, that on average it took 20 minutes to move BCW (sic) munitions into place for attack. The maximum response time was 45 minutes.

52. We then questioned the JIC Chairman and the Assessments Staff over the use of this piece of intelligence in the 9 September assessment. The JIC Chairman confirmed that this was the only piece of intelligence the UK had with definite times associated with the deployment or use of chemical or biological munitions by Iraq. The Assessments Staff stated that they, and the people they had consulted, did not know what munitions the Iraqi officer was referring to or their status. Nor did they know from where and to where munitions might be moved. They assessed that the Iraqi officer was referring to the time needed to move the biological and chemical battlefield munitions from where they were held by Iraqi Security units in forward-deployed storage sites to pre-designated military units.
53. We were told that this was consistent with the Assessments Staff’s and the DIS experts’ understanding of the Iraqi military and its capability to use weapons. The assessed intelligence was included in the draft JIC Assessment 16 as follows:
"Intelligence also indicates that from forward-deployed storage sites, chemical and biological munitions could be with military units and ready for firing within 45 minutes."

54. However, the DIS and SIS advised against referring to forward-deployed storage sites since they were not specifically mentioned in the intelligence report, and the JIC agreed a revised form of words:
"Intelligence also indicates that chemical and biological munitions could be with military units and ready for firing within 20–45 minutes."

So here we have it: the assessment of the actual threat. The most likely scenario for the use of WMD by Iraq would have been rocket or artillery attack delivering a chemical or biological weapon from a range of no more than 25 Kilometers or about 15 Miles. This could have, apparently, been achieved in less than 45 minutes. Is this 45 min. claim credible? For starters, it comes from a single Iraqi officer but it seems that the critical factor in the speed of any potential attack would be precisely the bit left out of the JIC final statement: "forward-deployed storage sites". You don't have to be any kind of military expert to work this out: surely you couldn't get a truck full of rockets or shells unloaded and ready to fire in less than 10 min.; even if you were getting your boot down, it's unlikely that you could drive the truck over rough desert at anymore than an average of 60 mph: therefore this storage site would have to be within 50 miles of the intended target. Even if the Iraqis had intended to fire at US or UK troops stationed on the edge of their deployment area, are we really expected to believe that the commander would have allowed enemy artillery units to get within 15 miles and not have them and the surrounding area under close observation by ground units, air reconnaissance and satalite imagery? If a truck full of new stuff suddenly appeared from some hidden site, how long do we think it would take before jets, helicopter gunships or artillery would have wiped them out?

So we're left with the outside chance that there were actually some working al Hussein missiles left from 1991 or that a warhead had been miraculously developed for the al Samoud/Ababil missiles and that a launch site could be built or mobile launcher deployed without being spotted and besides, what about the Patriot missile defence system? Threat? What a load of shite! Of course, this all depends on another assumption also: that Iraq would start a war with coalition forces because, after the good hiding they had last time, the only other reason Iraq might use WMD would be if the Coalition attacked them. Come on, a fascist dictator's first concern is maintaining their own power, why would Saddam use WMD against anyone with a Coalition army camped on his doorstep ready to fuck him up if he did?

There is a load more in the report about Iraq's potential to manufacture Chemical or Biological Weapons but, given their inability to effectively deploy them, I can't see how it matters. There is a whole section which largely vindicates the 'dodgy dossier' which, apart from the section quoted here about uranium from Niger, is notable only for the bit which states that 2 members of the DIS expressed concerns about the wording in the dossier, in writing, and that both the Defence Secretary and his staff attempted to conceal this from the Committee. Only 2?

United Nations Monitoring, Verification and Inspection Commission
121. In December 2002, the JIC assessed that Iraq’s ability to use CBW might be constrained by its available stocks of agent and the difficulty of producing more while UN inspectors were present. The JIC acknowledged that it did not know the extent of Iraq’s stocks of CBW.

122. The JIC Assessment issued immediately prior to coalition action against Iraq, dated 19 March 2003, stated that a report from a reliable source in mid-March indicated that Iraq’s chemical weapons remained disassembled and that Saddam had not yet ordered their assembly.
[This paragraph goes on to repeat the JIC opinion about Iraq's WMD capability.]

So now Dr. Hans Blix and his UNMOVIC crew were in Iraq and despite the JIC's earlier opinion about the restraining effect of the UN inspectors on any WMD programmes and the opinion in paragraphs 121/2 above, the build up of Coalition forces and materiel had continued. This aggressive development in the face of Dr. Blix having said, "Iraq has on the whole cooperated rather well so far with UNMOVIC in this field. The most important point to make is that access has been provided to all sites we have wanted to inspect and with one exception it has been prompt. We have further had great help in building up the infrastructure of our office in Baghdad and the field office in Mosul. Arrangements and services for our plane and our helicopters have been good. The environment has been workable." and the fact that Iraq's delivery systems posed no credible threat. The Government weren't having it though and, taking JIC advice, continued to insist that Iraq, with it's WMD, would evade the inspectors and continue to pose a threat to the peace and stability of the region. Well, whose opinion would you prefer? A well respected, international statesman and Doctor of International Law with experiance of nuclear issues and actually in Iraq, or that of a bunch of spotty geeks poring over their VDUs in London?

125. The 27 November 2002 intelligence update reported that although there was no intelligence to indicate that Iraq had considered using chemical and biological agents in terrorist attacks, it could not rule out the possibility.
126. In their assessment International Terrorism: War with Iraq, dated 10 February 2003, the JIC reported that there was no intelligence that Iraq had provided CB materials to al-Qaida or of Iraqi intentions to conduct CB terrorist attacks using Iraqi intelligence officials or their agents. However, it judged that in the event of imminent regime collapse there would be a risk of transfer of such material, whether or not as a deliberate Iraqi regime policy. The JIC assessed that al-Qaida and associated groups continued to represent by far the greatest terrorist threat to Western interests, and that threat would be heightened by military action against Iraq.
127. The JIC assessed that any collapse of the Iraqi regime would increase the risk of chemical and biological warfare technology or agents finding their way into the hands of terrorists, not necessarily al-Qaida.
128. We discussed this risk with the Prime Minister, who said:
"One of the most difficult aspects of this is that there was obviously a danger that in attacking Iraq you ended up provoking the very thing you were trying to avoid. On the other hand I think you had to ask the question, ‘Could you really, as a result of that fear, leave the possibility that in time this developed into a nexus between terrorism and WMD in an event?’. This is where you’ve just got to make your judgement about this. But this is my judgement and it remains my judgement and I suppose time will tell whether it’s true or it’s not true."

There's plenty more waffle in the report but little of relevance to the question of whether or not Tony Blair was right to send British Servicemen and Women to war in Iraq. So the JIC could not rule out an Iraqi use of some kind of WMD in a terrorist scenario, but then again, they couldn't actually rule out Jesus Christ coming down from heaven onto The White House lawn tomorrow and annointing George W. Bush as the leader of his Church of Neo-Conservatism, here on earth, either. Somehow I just don't feel a need to start praying though, know what I mean? Of course, if Iraq did do something of the kind, it would not have been terrorism but an act of war, because, despite the prevailing attitudes, Iraq was actually a sovereign nation.

What I find amazing is that the PM chose war over weapons inspection when common sense and his advice would suggest that Dr. Blix be given more time and it is the supreme irony that the advice he chose to give more credence, that of there having been a threat from Saddam's WMD has proven unfounded, whilst the sidelined concerns over increased terrorism have proven entirely accurate. Either he is completely thick, or this report is a tissue of lies and he was actually working with entirely different advice. Unless there was an ulterior motive and let's face it, given the military build up and rhetoric whilst Dr. Blix was still attempting to do his job, that seems the most likely scenario.

There is absolutely no doubt in my mind that the US would have attacked Iraq regardless of any opposition, short of a threat of nuclear retaliation by Russia or China, if for no other reason than that Saddam was still there after Desert Storm and that made Dubya's Dad look a bit of a cock. Throw oil and Haliburton into the mix and it's a dead cert. What on earth were we doing there though? The special relationship? Well, maybe, many people do delude themselves that the US are our allies.

In actual fact, the US did not come to our aid during WW2 until they had stripped the British Empire of almost all its assets and allowed us to run up a massive credit bill, you have to wonder whether the only reason they did send troops to Europe, rather than concentrating on the Pacific theatre, was that they realised that they'd never see the money unless they did. They turned a blind eye to Zionist terrorism in Palestine, when it was a British Protectorate, which was supported by money donated by US citizens and took a similar attitude in Northern Ireland. They dragged us into Korea and refused to support us during the Suez crisis. Where were they in the Falklands? All this whilst continuing to expect our support over their disgraceful behaviour in and around Central and South America for all these years and then taking the moral highground over our now defunct empire. Allies? With friends like that perhaps we do actually need our own WMD!

It occured to me at the time that it did seem like an unlikely alliance. Dubya and Tony: a hard line Neo-Con and, for all his faults, a New Left Social Democrat, but then the Labour Government was getting a bit of a panning over domestic affairs and I did wonder if Tony was just supporting Dubya because if he didn't Ian Duncan Smith would. You can just imagine the derision and accusations of Left Wing pacifism flying across the dispatch boxes, eh? Tony looked pretty uncomfortable during the Afganistan war and he was looking a bit haggard until recently, maybe it's guilt over the hundreds of thousands of deaths, maybe that's where this new emphasis on religeosity has come from.

Then again, maybe he just wanted to get rid of Saddam Hussein and end his disgusting regime. Who could blame him? The trouble is that to do so by war is not only illegal under international law, it's also thouroughly wrong to kill the people you are trying to save. It's like the Americans in Vietnam, "We had to destroy the village to save it." If this was the reason he should have vetoed the UNSCR 1153 expanding oil sales to $5.2 billion and at the same time lobbied for a resolution encouraging ordinary Iraqis to flee the country and promising them air cover and support to do so. Combined with the removal of his internal deterrant of WMD by UNMOVIC and/or airstrikes based on the flood of accurate intelligence that would emerge with the fleeing population, I can't imagagine he would have lasted much longer. The upshot would have been a humanitarian intervention without the stain of US imperialism.

Anyway, whatever. Tony, you said decide for yourselves and I have. Either you were incompetant, a liar, profoundly delusional or deeply disingenuous. Whichever, Tony mate, I'm so grateful for the changes your government has brought to Britain but people died man, it's time to stand down now, before you put the New Labour project in any more danger.

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Friday, April 29, 2005

Consumer angst.

To consume or not to consume, that's the question.
Whether 'tis nobler in the mind to suffer
The slings and arrows of outrageous withdrawal,
Or to take up fags against a sea of troubles,
And by smoking end them?

It's true what nameis taken says below, fags are a gateway to other and possibly less pernicious addictions, but hey, what can you do? It's not just the fags that pose a dilemma either. I'm vegetarian but what about leather? If you don't want animals farmed and killed, you can't use it, right? But what about looking after your feet? Leather boots are a must if your feet need protecting: I've tried the alternatives and they just don't measure up. I got a second hand, ex-army pair in the end and they're still going strong - then again though, perhaps wearing them promotes the use of leather? And 'army', hmmm?

Then there's Nike trainers, AirMax, the most comfortable footwear I've ever worn. Bit moody as a company though, eh? Ah well, there is a way - they refund the full cost if the bubble bursts within 12 months and it invariably does. It's a trainers-for-life deal when you buy the first pair!

Java/Sumatra coffee? Well this worked out for the best: I decided to stop buying it because of the Indonesian government's attitude towards East Timor. So then I had to stop buying blends also because you don't know where the ingredients come from. Then I discovered locally roasted beans from the market. Choose exactly which beans you want, make your own blend, grind it moments before you brew, what a revelation! Not only can you make an ethical choice, you make much better coffee.

Here's the killer though. I went to a Mark Thomas gig last November and while I've always had reservations about Coca Cola, I haven't been able to bring myself to buy it since. There's shoplifting of course but with my criminal record, it's just not worth the risk. I'm dying for a coke!

  • Shakespeare's Hamlet Soliloquy
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    Thursday, April 28, 2005

    A quick one about smoking.

    Yeah, I smoke, have done since I was 13. Tried to give up once, it was harder than kicking heroin, drove me even mentler. I know what it's doing to me and you know what? I don't care. I don't want to live forever.

    So if you come up to me and ask me to stop polluting your atmosphere, I will. I will actually give up. At the exact same moment that you stop polluting my atmosphere with your internal combustion engine, deal?

    In the meantime please feel entirely at liberty to FUCK RIGHT OFF!

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    People and Alienation.

    So I've noticed that, since the late 70's, there has been a sort of general malaise sweeping through the west. Its main symptom of mean spiritedness is exacerbated by others such as burying one's head in the sand, procrastination and jealousy. I've provisionally named it "arseholism" after being infected by it myself a few times. Fortunately for me however, I seem to have developed some kind of immunity to the ostrichism and have found ways of medicating myself to relieve the other symptoms.

    If you suspect that you may be suffering from this largely undiagnosable condition then I would recommend a very short course of spending all your money on drugs & alcohol, followed by a period of poverty therapy. You will probably experiance acute, crippling resurgences of being an arsehole during your treatment and these should be dosed with very loud music accompanied by allnight dancing and sexual promiscuity.

    Unfortunately, the treatment can have unpredictable side effects, but like with chemotherapy for cancer, the alternatives are grim. Just imagine what it must be like to realise you are dying, look back at your life and realise that, mainly, you were an arsehole.

    The worst problem of course is the ostrichism part though, because this will tend to prevent a sufferer from realising that they have been infected and will usually convince them that they like being an arsehole. Personally, I'm hoping that this proves to be genetic and that the next AIDS/SARS/Bird Flu-stylee epidemic targets people with that gene. It's a vain hope I know so in the meantime most of you can FUCK OFF AND DIE!

    Why don't you commit suicide and have your biomass ground up and spread on Brazilian fields so that rainforrest can grow back? At least then your irresponsible rapaciousness will be somewhat ameliorated.

    Yes, alienation can be one of the side effects of the cure for arseholism. When almost everyone around you has the disease and you know you can be reinfected it tends to limit your options for socialising. Why should anyone care though? If arseholism makes a person content to live with it, shouldn't we continue to actively promote it? Well we could, but it leads on to a much more serious condition, an often misrepresented Obsessive Compulsive Disorder called Greed which is not just fucking up society but also the whole planet.

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    Wednesday, April 27, 2005

    What's so good about being hard working?

    Yeah this one sucked me in at an early age, so I spent huge amounts of time doing things.

    Anytime not asleep, I had to be doing something. Anything really and as hard as possible: studying, earning money, doing favours, sport or continuous distraction when other things were impossible. The distraction became an artform after discovering drugs & alcohol. As my addictions became the main focus of my life, I could combine the distraction and hard work, the more drugs I took, the more hard work needed to pay for them. In the end I would regularly go for 10 days or longer without sleeping for more than an hour or two at a time, just working and getting wasted.

    It was a waste. It took me so long to realise why the distraction was necessary: because I didn't actually want to work hard at useless occupations. Every moment spent taking part in this corrupt, corrupting and ultimately pointless way of life was another little piece of my integrity eaten away.

    So now I don't work hard per se, just hard enough to get the task done. The energy left goes into taking plenty of time to work out if there's any real point and decide whether I actually want to do it.

    What if everyone thought like this? The economy would grind to a halt!

    Well maybe. Things would certainly be different. There'd be a lot less useless junk produced for no other reason than making some unscrupulous wanker rich enough to consume more useless junk more conspicuously than their neighbours.
  • Louis Mackey Quote
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    Monday, April 25, 2005

    Decency Revisited.

    I was going to get on to 'hard working' next but no, I'm not finished with decent yet.

    I think that the most irritating thing about the use of this word is the spurious inclusivity. That controlling way of saying it that somehow defines the speaker, you and anyone else who agrees with the point as 'us' and therefore 'decent' and anyone else as 'them' or scum. What's even worse though is the way people try to drag you into this decent consensus before they even expound their bigotry. You know? They start off with the 'decent hard working people' bit in a mild tone of voice that makes you the out of order one if you interupt and what can you say anyway?

    "Whoa, don't count me in with your preconceived ideas about what's decent."

    Well, of course, you can say something like that, but then you've started an argument, right? Or you can let them babble on and then disagree, but then you've committed an even worse sin, because not only have you lumped yourself in with the 'scum', you've thrown what is actually a friendly overture back in somebody's face. You've been invited into a clique and rejected the offer, because bigots don't tolerate dissent, you can't be part of the group and have dangerous liberal views.

    Perhaps that is the real function of the phrase, as a sort of initiation test, you Know? If you answer correctly or even just passively accept being defined as 'decent', you're in and thereafter it's a sort of masonic handshake amongst the cognoscenti.

    Still, it's time to have the arguments. It's time to stop being counted as supporters of right wing ideas just because we want to live and let live. So say it once and say it loud.

    "I'm a disreputable lazy alien and I'm proud!"

    Anyway, I feel a bit rough after the weekend's sex and drinking, so I'm going to have a hair of the dog and go back to bed.

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    Friday, April 22, 2005

    Who are these decent, hard-working people anyway?


    Well, you know what, the people I've met who start their polemics with this and its' companion phrase 'Law Abiding Citizens' (and we will get to hypocrisy) tend to be exactly the same people who advocate bringing back hanging. Of course the older ones also advocate corporal punishment, the birch, a short sharp shock! That phrase gets used a lot for sending people to jail as well, which is apparently a holiday camp (so what's the point?). No, jail should be hard, they're there to be punished!

    Having been on the receiving end of the criminal justice system, I have to say that jail is pretty bad. If I had had to contemplate the thought of an American-stylee sentence for the fairly minor crimes I committed (drug related theft, fraud and some more serious offences whilst evading custody), I could have easily committed deliberate murder. So yeah, I could have been on a life sentence. I mean, if my life was over anyway, any chance of doing anything while I was young enough to enjoy it gone, why not risk everything? I mean, if all I had to look forward to was getting out of jail in my 50's or 60's anyway, why not just kill the witnesses or arresting officers?

    Why not? Well, there's morality of course. I mean effing hell, you can't just kill someone can you? Well apparently you can, soldiers do it all the time, they're normal lads one minute, the next they're killing machines, right? They all get training for six months and then they go to their regiments where most of them receive no further combat training. So what if a person grew up in an environment where life was hard, if you already had a close bond with your friends? Not aquaintances: the people you left behind as you grew up, but friends; the people you adopted instead of familiy because your biological relatives just couldn't give you the support you needed, would you kill too, for them? Is it any wonder that the British Army has recently launched a recruitment campaign in British inner city areas?

    Well, you know what? It's time to revert to alcohol binging and unmarried sex, shame I couldn't be arsed to get some illegal stimulants but, hey what can you do?

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