Most of my British readers do not share my views on guns, so my favourite post of the year here at The Last Ditch will not have appealed to them as to its substance. At least I hope most would agree with my proposed amendment to the British Constitution however, which read as follows;
It is beyond the power of the members of the Legislature and the Executive to create laws, impose policies or issue instructions to state agencies that give them any greater power, privilege, immunity from prosecution or other protection than any other citizen.
I find it amazing that a political class (and the LibDems and Tories are no different from Labour in this respect) obsessed with "equality" has no problem with its own, unearned, privileges. But then, despite what the French may say, the true vice anglais has always been hypocrisy.
What were your favourite posts (or Tweets) of the year from Britain's political blogs? Please free to link to them in the comments. If you want to see my own choices, they are here (all the posts I shared this year in Google Reader).
After an embarrassing day observing the antics of the raddled, vicious little creatures who scuttle around the debris of a society that made, long ago, the wrong choice, it's chilling to be reminded of what politics could have been.
This is a beginning, at long last. Wouldn't it be interesting if someone Wikileaked the names of the people who signed up voluntarily to Labour's ID card scheme? After all, it would be a handy list of some of the very worst people in Britain. What a valuable resource to have the self-selected names of the 12,000 fellow-citizens most likely to serve as state stooges, stool pigeons and snitches.
Free men and women could sleep easier in their beds if such data was public. And it might even help the people listed, by showing them how foolish they were to entrust any of their data to the state.
The Paine family is together in London this week. We are celebrating two birthdays. Mrs P's was yesterday and Miss P the Younger is having a 21st birthday party at a London club on Saturday night (though she actually shares her birthday with Jesus Christ).
We are a family of theatre goers and we went to see Robert Lindsay (an actor whose work we admire) in Onassis at the Novello on Monday night. Lindsay did not disappoint. He inhabited the role as convincingly as his character (speaking of his sexual prowess) claimed that he "inhabited the house, when other men merely pop in for a visit." Still, it was one of those productions for which the only question is "why?"
Why did Lindsay set himself the task of squeezing something good out of this awful part? Why, for that matter, did Martin Sherman bother to write the play? Either he had no story to tell, or he didn't manage to tell it. The script is a fizzle and phut display of minor theatrical pyrotechnics. The Greek chorus conceit grates after minutes. The fourth wall is not so much broken as never erected. There are some good lines but the only discernible purpose seems to be for Sherman to show us how clever he thinks he is.
At the end of the evening, we have only learned that Robert Lindsay needs a new agent. And as always, when businessmen are portrayed, there's the nagging thought that the playwright's only real "why" is to denigrate all who generate wealth. The Novello Theatre's online pitch says, in the authentically prissy voice of Guardian readers everywhere;
...those with great wealth and political influence live their lives detached from the moral code and realities of ordinary mortals...
Yawn. Try walking through the city centre of my Northern home town on a Saturday night and then tell me of the moral code of ordinary mortals. Onassis was simply one of those mortals with a yacht and the means to pay for better whores. I would not want him to stand as any kind of representative for the business world, but even his epic corruption seems tame compared to that of the "progressive" Kennedy clan. And I didn't need to be reminded of the sad fact that 60s style icon Jacqueline Lee Bouvier was no better than she should be. Men may foolishly conflate beauty and intelligence in women but even we are not daft enough to confuse looks and morality.
The production was clever clever. The actors acted well. The set designer had designed with a right good will. But when you find yourself observing the technical details, it's a sure sign the show's not working. I am afraid that, on Lindsay's 61st birthday (sorry, dear boy), I found myself looking into his eyes as my own forced themselves closed and I nodded off. Save your money, dear readers. He's a good actor, but you knew that and the play's the thing. Except this one isn't.
One of the worst things for me about Britain today is the prevalence of casual anti-Americanism. The linked article should give those prone to that some cause for overdue thought. It cites a wonderful speech given on November 13th by Lieutenant General John F. Kelly of the United States Marine Corps. I recommend you to read it in full on his official blog. It is all the more remarkable for having been made just four days after General Kelly lost his son Robert in action in Afghanistan. Paying tribute to the men and women of his country's armed forces with a dignity that must seem very alien to "educated" British citizens who don't know what the Cenotaph means, he reminded his audience why America goes to war;
...ladies and gentlemen, think about this, the only territory we as a people have ever asked for from any nation we have fought alongside, or against, since our founding, the entire extent of our overseas empire, is a few hundred acres of land for the 24 American cemeteries scattered around the globe...
The remains of 220,000 Americans rest in those cemeteries. Not all the wars they fought in were right. Some terrible actions took place in fighting them. But as a nation, America's heart has always been in the right place. Taking all her actions - good and bad - into account, Mankind as a whole has never known a better friend.
For a man who has just lost his son to make such a speech is deeply impressive. As we mewl and whimper about our petty problems (e.g. the refusal of others to pick up the bill for our reality breaks in academia) perhaps we should reflect on his words;
...America as a whole is certainly not at war. Not as a country. Not as a people. Today, only a tiny fraction - less than a percent - shoulder the burden of fear and sacrifice, and they shoulder it for the rest of us. Their sons and daughters who serve are men and women of character who continue to believe in this country enough to put life and limb on the line without qualification, and without thought of personal gain, and they serve so that the sons and daughters of the other 99% don't have to. No big deal, though, as Marines have always been "the first to fight" paying in full the bill that comes with being free...for everyone else...
I disagree with only three of General Kelly's words; "No big deal." It's a very big deal, sir. I offer my thanks, my condolences and my profound respect.
I don't ask because of his policies but because of his honest, direct style. Since the days of Tebbit and Thatcher, there has been next-to-no honesty in our national debate, precisely because of the galvanising effect of their transparent honesty on the working-class electorate. Is it too much to ask that our state is run by people elected on the basis of honest debate? Apparently it is, because it means we, the people, will not make the choices the statist establishment wants.
Political correctness is not a fashion or fad. It is a deliberate construct designed to stifle debate. It amounts quite simply to smearing all who venture an opinion outside left-liberal parameters. It has turned "Tory", "Conservative","right-wing", "free enterprise", "entrepreneur", "banker", "businessman" and even "libertarian" into terms of abuse. To describe oneself in those terms now seems more an admission than a boast. It will take politicians lke this guy - ideally of all political and economic persuasions - to restore honesty to our political lives.
Given how well dishonesty has served those now in power, it's sadly rather hard to imagine.
The most interesting thing about the Wikileaks story is not the information published (was anyone really naieve enough to be surprised?) but the responses of state power everywhere. Totalitarians, kleptocrats, democrats; their angry reactions barely differ. The criminal charges brought against Julian Assange in Sweden, for example, are not so much stitched up as haute couture. All the casual observer will recall is that he was accused of rape. So much for the benevolence of states.
If Assange has endangered lives in Afghanistan or elsewhere that is to be deplored, but most of the leaked material is merely embarrassing to politicians and their servants. It reveals them (to whose surprise?) to be petty, stupid and monumentally careless with our money. He has provided a useful litmus test. People you should like and trust admire his courage and worry about his future. People you should fear and despise call for his head.
Every state represents a dangerous concentration of power and resources, all too tempting for those in charge to deploy against those who irritate them. If Assange is able to name Litvinenko's killers, for example, who can doubt he is in danger of an expensive and painful death? Yet even social-democratic Sweden is prepared to trump up charges. He is a brave man taking great risks.
Hilary Clinton is coldly furious, but who ever doubted which side she is on when it comes to State vs. Citizen? Sarah Palin - supposed friend of the people - has unmasked herself too. A former advisor to the Canadian PM is calling for a hit, and Mr Harper does not disown him. At the other end of the political food chain, Iain Dale quivers with indignation. Look around you. All over the place, people are revealing their true colours. For this, Julian Assange has put himself in harm's way. It's an odd choice but, as Dr King said,
If you haven't found something worth dying for, you aren't fit to be living.