Back to the Batcave

I’m disappearing from view for a time and leaving you only with this message.

With the exception of the beta release of the Labour campaign return, some general housekeeping and an extra video release or two, I’m unlikely to post anything at Bloggerheads from now until 2007.

The British political blogosphere is in a downward spiral at the moment, freshly-‘captained’ as it is by a range of (mostly Tory) newcomers gleefully yelling “Dive!”

Additionally, the Conservative Party and the Labour Party have shown nothing but contempt for the blogging community in their many recent attempts to exploit it, infiltrate it and/or undermine it.

Meanwhile, there are complete dickheads like these local Tories, who see weblogs as a way to spread anonymous smears and/or pass off positive comments that they’ve written about themselves as genuine contributions.

There’s a self-correction aspect involved, but the blogosphere is largely shaped by its population. That population is shaped by perception. If the generally-held perception is that the blogosphere is a place of unregulated dishonesty, obfuscation and party-political attacks, then that is what it will become.

I have a project in mind that’s designed to address this growing problem in a number of ways… and it’s long-overdue.

So I’m going to pop off for a bit and make it happen.

Until then, I leave you in the capable hands of Justin McKeating, Curious Hamster, and the good people at Blair Watch.

If you want to help with the build, nothing could be easier… just send me an email or send me money:





Cheers all.

UPDATE (2nd Nov 2006) – I appear to be in good company:

BBC – Web inventor fears for the future: The British inventor of the internet (Sir Tim Berners-Lee) says he is worried about the way it could be used to spread “misinformation and undemocratic forces”.








Posted in The Political Weblog Movement | 6 Comments

Pardon my cynicism

1. A cash bonus for troops and troops-arriving-safely-home-to-media-event bracketing Our Glorious Leader’s return to the Commons? Let’s just say that it raised an eyebrow.

2. More cack on the floor… Blair’s Blue Peter stunt happily happened to coincide with the launch of a new Downing Street website for young people. Just how long does he plan on staying?

3. Bastard. He’s only gone and nicked my email specifications. Again.

4. Independent – 655,000: The toll of war in Iraq: The human cost of the war in Iraq could be far higher than previously thought. A new survey says more than 650,000 Iraqis have lost their lives as a consequence of the invasion by the United States and Britain, with an estimated 200,000 violent deaths directly attributable to Allied forces. The new figure is much larger than all previous estimates – more than 20 times higher than President George Bush claimed 11 months ago – and will add considerable weight to the calls of those seeking a withdrawal of troops.

“I don’t consider it a credible report…” says George W. Bush, who would have a hell of a lot more credibility himself if he weren’t keeping his own figures under wraps.

5. Another case of someone being the wrong colour…?

Antagonist – Shhh! Police score anti-terror raid success: It looks like police have undertaken their first successful anti-terror raid of recent times and there’s not a Mosque or a Muslim in sight… The chemicals were found at the home of an apparently lapsed British National Party member, as opposed to the home of a Muslim, so no front page national newspaper headlines for the discovery of the largest haul of chemicals ever found in this country. It could be argued that the chemicals found might be used for a number of purposes other than manufacturing explosives but this wouldn’t explain the press and media silence about the rocket launcher or the NBC suit that were also found in the raids.

Indeed. Especially after Forest Gate when all the tabloids had left to run with was some cash under the floor-boards, and still they ran and ran and ran with that. More here.

6. September 11. It’s why we’re in Iraq. And why you should vote Republican. And you can trust me, because I’m a grieving father of a national hero. (Wheee! Look at ’em go!)

7. Blair Watch – MEPs criticise ‘unhelpful and evasive’ Geoff Hoon in rendition inquiry: Mr Fava also said that Hoon’s replies were as unhelpful as those the MEPs had received previously from the United States… The investigation is continuing however and it seems that certain people are getting worried at what might be uncovered. Claudio Fava and others involved in the inquiry have been getting death threats.

Nice. But let’s get back to that helpful Mr Hoon…

swissinfo – Germany denies secret prison allegations: Members criticised Britain’s minister for Europe, Geoff Hoon, for giving “evasive” answers to their questions about numerous landings in Britain by planes operated by the U.S. Central Intelligence Agency. “The government has not been very cooperative,” Italian MEP Claudio Fava said, adding Hoon’s replies were as unhelpful as those the MEPs had received previously from the United States. Britain says it has no evidence that the United States has transported terrorist suspects via British airports.

Evasive? Us? Never!

Also, we have every reason to trust the Americans and we certainly haven’t seen any evidence.

Finally, this…

8. While those who leaked the Al Jazeera memo are held on double-secret probation, David Blunkett has admitted that he urged Tony Blair to break international law and bomb al-Jazeera’s Baghdad TV transmitter during the Iraq war and swung in with a tasty justification for the act. Curious, no?








Posted in Tony 'King Blair | 2 Comments

Speaking of homophobic nitwits…

Take a look at this video of highlights from David Cameron’s conference speech. Go about halfway through (i.e to 2:30 onwards), listen to Cameron declare his support for civil partnerships and then watch the audience react to this.

All done? Good.

OK, I’m about to rock your world. Stand by….

What David Cameron said was this:

“There’s something special about marriage. It’s not about religion. It’s not about morality. It’s about commitment. When you stand up there, in front of your friends and your family, in front of the world, whether it’s in a church or anywhere else, what you’re doing really means something. Pledging yourself to another means doing something brave and important. You are making a commitment. You are publicly saying: it’s not just about me, me me anymore. It is about we – together, the two of us, through thick and thin. That really matters. And by the way, it means something whether you’re a man and a woman, a woman and a woman or a man and another man. That’s why we were right to support civil partnerships, and I’m proud of that.” – David Cameron (transcript and analysis)

The immediate cutaway to the audience shows the wider public that this view is not universally shared or supported by the Conservative rank and file…

… but it also provides our little gathering with something of particular interest, adding valuable context to recent developments.

I shall try to explain through the medium of modern darnce!

No… wait… that won’t work.

OK, let’s go with poetry instead…

(ahem)

Did you see the guy in the blue shirt and tie?
Did you see him not clapping and perhaps wonder why?

He saw he was monitored. What did he do?
He adjusted his face (and his tie a bit, too).

Did he clap? Not at all. Not even for show.
He made his mind up a long time ago:

“Gay men are sick! They’re paedophiles, too!”
(But it’s rare that he’ll openly share this view.)

Who is this guy in the blue shirt and tie?
He got my attention; you’re wondering why…

He speaks for Anne Milton, (mostly from his rear-end);
He’s our Michael Chambers (or ‘Mike’ to his friends).








Posted in Anne Milton | Comments Off on Speaking of homophobic nitwits…

Prepare the sick-bags

There’s a lot about the Mark Foley / Congressional page scandal that requires scrutiny and discussion, starting with the initial post on this weblog that led to a series of responses (1, 2, 3) that led to the initial ABC report and the more explicit revelations that followed.

[Note – If you have a weak stomach, you may choose to stop reading this post right now and instead restrict your scrutiny to the electronic messages themselves. Here’s one link and here’s another.]

For reasons that I hope would be obvious, I do not agree with the way these claims were initially aired. Some leeway may be allowed if – over the years – approaches to various official bodies proved fruitless (and here’s something else these two paedo-claim blogs have in common from different perspectives; the institutional cover-up) but what appears to be widespread inside-knowledge of this abuse does make one wonder if this well-timed discovery is truly serendipitous. There is every possibility that members of both parties allowed a serial offender to continue on his merry way just so they could gain/maintain a political advantage.

Scrutiny. Discussion. Required.

It’s important to acknowledge this because – when taken at face value – some (stress on some) of the following seems like fair and just behaviour. But there is far more to this than just face value… and part of the Big Problem here is that too many people take what they are fed at face value.

Take a look at the online version of the initial ABC report. As part of the conversation-culture many of us are trying to foster, it allows comments. Read those comments and see how willingly this trust is abused in a co-ordinated attempt to shut down the story.

I’ve already said that the origins deserve scrutiny, but – if you have the patience – you also need to look at the TANG-emboldened right-wing bloggers as they journey from scrutiny to claims of a liberal-media/Democrat ‘set-up’ inside a mere 36 hours: 1, 2, 3, 4, 5, 6, 7, 8, 9, 10

Meanwhile, a man central to this scandal who deserves a *lot* of scrutiny manages to avoid it by using children as a human shield.

Soon after this, Matt Drudge, an ‘anti-establishment’ figure who is – in reality – a willing tool of the current administration (i.e. Guido in 4 years if he gets his way) assures the public that it is a set-up, and that the victims of this abuse are gagging for it (transcript here and excellent editorial here).

Soon after that, Rush Limbaugh (someone else with a large audience resulting from his pandering to the lowest common denominator) also cries ‘set-up’ and makes the boldest of a series of claims that liberals are the true hypocrites here, as they’re long-time proponents of man-boy love.

By this time, the airwaves and tabloids are full of focus on Foley’s status as Teh Gay, and the ‘liberal hypocrisy’ message is slammed home again and again because liberals argue for gay rights and – as we all know – being gay automatically makes you a paedophile.

What deserves particular attention is that this ‘debate’ is what will shape the upcoming mid-term elections, *not* this staggering loss of freedom in the name of ‘security’ or the Bush administration’s staggering failure to address security in any real or responsible sense.

But… there’s some disgraceful conduct here; taken individually or collectively, these many deceits and the large audiences that are prone to them reveal something rotten at the heart of democracy, media and the blogosphere (i.e. the kind of rot that allows the powers that be to get away with all sorts of crimes against humanity).

This also deserves your attention… if you can stomach it.

UPDATE – How strange. Rebekah ‘Red Mist’ Wade – scourge of paedophiles the world over – has decided not to feature this scandal in the Sun newspaper. At all. 12 days after the story exploded, and there hasn’t been so much as a passing mention.








Posted in George W. Bush | 1 Comment

Boy, it’s a good thing the Tories hired an ‘expert’…








Posted in The Political Weblog Movement | 2 Comments

Sack Parliament

Photos: 1 | 2 | 3 | Mainstream media pics
Guardian – Heavy police presence greets anti-war protest
This Is Local London – 38 arrested at Parliament protest
BBC – Arrests after Westminster protest

1. Tch! Where are they going to put them all?
2. This may explain the general lack of press coverage.








Posted in The War on Stupid | Comments Off on Sack Parliament

Boom.

Guardian – The moment North Korea became a nuclear player
BBC – North Korea ‘nuclear test’ condemned
BBC – North Korea ‘facing tough measures’
Rupert Cornwell – America is stretched in the war on terror, and its options over Pyongyang are limited
Slate.com – Bloggers on North Korea’s test

Thomas Sutcliffe – Has North Korea made the world a safer place?: The North Korean action had been “irresponsible”, said Tony Blair, but obviously didn’t have the space to explain the “responsible” nature of deciding to replace our own Trident missile system without a Parliamentary vote. The Indian government announced that the test highlighted “the dangers of clandestine proliferation”, impressively unabashed by its own history of clandestine weapons acquisition. And Washington announced that it was a “test for the UN”, without mentioning the fact that its own steady undermining of the institution had effectively guaranteed that the UN won’t be able to pass it… It is – from pretty much any perspective – very bad news, but it is worth remembering (as the moral bluster continues from China and Britain and the United States) that it has its origin not in a repudiation of our values but an imitation of them.

Tom Plesch – North Korea’s nuclear policy is not irrational at all: North Korea’s nuclear test is only the latest failure of the west’s proliferation policy. And it demonstrates the need to return to the proven methods of multilateral disarmament. Far from being crazy, the North Korean policy is quite rational. Faced with a US government that believes the communist regime should be removed from the map, the North Koreans pressed ahead with building a deterrent. George Bush stopped the oil supplies to North Korea that had been part of a framework to end its nuclear programme previously agreed with Bill Clinton. Bush had already threatened pre-emptive war – Iraq-style – against a regime he dubbed as belonging to the axis of evil. The background to North Korea’s test is that, since the end of the cold war, the nuclear states have tried to impose a double standard, hanging on to nuclear weapons for themselves and their friends while denying them to others.

The Independent carries a powerful front page today, but Iran’s lonely stance in support of North Korea reminded me of a previous front page relating to the recent Israel/Lebanon conflict. If you’ve yet to grasp what that cost us, this may help you to understand:








Posted in It's War! It's Legal! It's Lovely! | Comments Off on Boom.

Diddums

Independent – Campbell unspun: Spin-doctor reveals battle with depression: Alastair Campbell, one of the chief architects of New Labour and Tony Blair’s trusted communications chief, has revealed for the first time the depths of his struggle with depression – and how he suffered bouts throughout his time working at Downing Street.

Y’know… I’d have a lot more sympathy for the guy if he weren’t responsible for repeated use of the off-the-record “he/she is mentally unbalanced” brief against anyone who falls out with Tony Blair. Yet in this further article he actually has the cheek to claim that he’s concerned about ‘the portrayal of mental illness, especially in the media’… there’s a nice reinforcement of his version of history here, too:

Independent – Exclusive: Campbell on the couch: The whole period of the Hutton inquiry and the tragic death of Dr David Kelly put him under intense strain, which he describes as the “worst period”. “I did feel if the inquiry had gone against us that it would have been grim, really bad. Part of me was thinking about that a lot. Again it was one of those episodes where things spiralled out of control. “Let’s be brutally frank: if it had gone against us… it wasn’t just me who was out of a job, it was Tony. It was a phenomenal pressure. The blood they smelled was mine. “I felt completely confident in relation to the facts. But during the whole period it was a nightmare. And also you are thinking, ‘There’s this guy for whom it’s been such a nightmare he’s killed himself’. The day he died was without doubt the worst day. It was about the sadness that someone felt driven to do this.”

Spare me.

Campbell was out to fuck Gilligan and he fucked him. A man died as a result. Perhaps Alastair Campbell’s path to recovery can begin with accepting some small amount of responsibility for that.

After all, Blair let slip last year that the name was deliberately disclosed (more).








Posted in Tony 'King Blair | 1 Comment

Cock: we love it!

Rupert Murdoch’s Sun ‘news’ paper has – not once, but twice – on the eve of an election informed voters that what really matters when you cast your ballot is cock size.

Also, today, only Murdoch’s titles lead with the veil issue raised by Jack Straw on the front page, with both articles ever-so-subtly tying the use of veils to terrorism…

The Sun – Hidden danger: veiled Sun girl waved through UK airport
The Times – Suspect in terror hunt used veil to evade arrest

… so I think it’s fair to say that Rupert Murdoch has delivered his verdict on veils as well.

But he remains remarkably coy about who he plans to back at the next election, and I think I know why…

He hasn’t seen David Cameron’s cock yet.

My MP (also a Conservative) won’t show me her cock, which I think is typical of her evasive attitude.

How can we as voters know how much weight any given MP carries if we don’t know what they’re packing in their lunch-boxes? It’s a significant barrier to communication.

More importantly, how can we trust these people to put their balls on the table when they won’t even show us their cocks?








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David Cameron: the final word

David Cameron: the boobs have spokenForget all that broadsheet chatter… today’s Page 3 girl has delivered her verdict on David Cameron:

Danni (19, from Conventry) thinks that “David’s Cameron’s” [sic] first keynote speech as Tory leader showed promise, but – after pausing to have ice-cubes applied to her nipples – she added; “I think the public needs to hear him focus more on policies and less on presentation if the Tories are going to realistically challenge Labour at the next election.”

And… surprise, surprise, today’s editorial by Rebekah Wade backs her to the hilt:

The Sun – Where is the beef, David?: WE ASKED for beef. We were offered cloudy, lukewarm soup. It was no surprise that David Cameron’s keynote speech to the Tories was devoid of new policy. That’s what he promised. But for those who want to know why they should vote Tory next time and not Labour, it was mostly hot air. Sure, he managed to get hostile Tories clapping by praising the NHS. He even wrung some applause by speaking favourably about social workers and single parents, once the hate figures of the Nasty Party. But there was nothing in this speech about immigration, legal or otherwise. There was nothing to suggest he will take on the ever-expanding EU empire. And although there were hints and nudges, there was precious little about the need to do something serious about organised crime. We know from Shadow Chancellor George Osborne that the Tories will never join the euro. And we’ve heard from Home Affairs spokesman David Davis that there would be more new prisons. But it would have been nice to hear the leader of the party put some flesh on the bones of issues like these which are so important to Sun readers. Nobody expected a great speech. Mr Cameron is wise not to try matching Tony Blair’s carefully polished rhetoric. But even a workmanlike speech like this should contain some material on which voters can get a grip. The Conservatives may no longer be the Nasty Party. But they cannot hope to win power just by positioning themselves a quarter of an inch to the right of everything Labour suggests. Nor can they simply hope for an automatic surge in support when Tony Blair finally steps down. We know from Mr Osborne that the party wants lower taxes. His promise of “sound money” is fine, but we need to know more about the way they would manage the economy. We need to know what they intend to do about gridlocked roads, chaotic classrooms, growing unemployment, organised crime. It’s no use waiting almost two years while think tanks come up with the answers in case Labour steals them. Voters will give the Tories their support only when they know what they are backing. And Mr Cameron gave them precious little to go on yesterday.

Oh, and while we’re on the subject of Tories and conferences… Anne Milton is currently blogging from the front lines, but something appears to have escaped her attention.

UPDATE – Yo! ‘Nother Webcameron vid. Check it.








Posted in Page 3 - News in Briefs | 1 Comment