Ding dong…

… the witch is dead… Hey, right wingers hell-bent on canonising Thatcher as some modern political saint, protesters will stop buying Ding Dong the Witch is Dead to get it into the charts if you stop wasting millions of pounds of the tax-payer’s money on what is essentially a state funeral in all but name. Deal? No? Well if you can close down half of central London and waste millions on a politician who is still despised by half the population decades on then it is fine for people to protest in a witty and sarcastic manner by getting this song to the charts. In fact there is something delightfully, subversively British about the humour behind that, the sort of satire and humour which goes back to the days of Hogarth as a way for ordinary citizens to make their views on their ‘betters’ known and heard.

And on the related note of Hogarth, here’s a recent work from one of that esteemed artist and observer of society’s modern heirs, the excellent Martin Rowson on the whole nonsense surrounding Thatcher’s death (cartoon by and (c) Martin Rowson, published in the Guardian):

I’ve head the pleasure of hearing Martin speak twice now at the Edinburgh International Book Festival and he’s not only very knowledgeable about the history of editorial cartooning and illustration, he is passionate about using it to hold politicians and other public figures to account and letting them know we are watching the buggers, which is vital in any healthy democratic society.

Edinburgh Book Festival 2012 - Martin Rowson 05
(Martin Rowson at the Edinburgh International Book Festival in 2012, pic from my Flickr)

Minister excuses dumping official papers in public park

Oliver Letwin, the Minister of State for Extreme Smugness, has excused his bizarre behaviour, caught on film by journalists, whereby he wandered public parks disposing of official government papers in bins as he walked. When challenged on this odd behaviour with all the attendant data protection and potential security issues attached to such foolish actions, Mr Letwin explained to the Woolamaloo Gazette he thought it was an acceptable way to dispose of such papers as “the Wombles would take care of it later.”

Faces from Occupied Wall Street

I do like this image, a sketch by the excellent Molly Crabapple, part of a series of sketches entitled “Faces From Occupied Wall Street”. Speaks volumes – if only the media here were giving it a bit more of the attention it deserves. And if only someone were doing a similar Occupy The Square Mile in the City of London to show these banking numpties what we think of them.

The Census

Yes, it has been ten years and so it is time for the UK-wide Census. Fortunately for those of us north of the border the Registrar for Scotland deals with our one, so at least we don’t get London-blinkered questions like “if you live in Scotland or the North of England, do you know what electricity is?” And it does include Gaelic and Scots as language options too, although annoyingly it didn’t include a box to tick for Elvish or Klingon. Pah. Some citizens have raised concerns over some of the questions being asked, wondering why the authorities really need to know some things – they say it is to plan for the future in terms of hospitals, schools and other resources that will be required, but even so I have to also add my voice to the growing concern over some of the questions posed on the 2011 Census. I mean some of these are invasive of my privacy and I question what strategic planning value they will give to authorities for arranging future national resources, with questions like:

How many yaks do you keep in your household attic? (I especially objected to this one as I live in a Victorian tenement flat so don’t have an attic, so this question left me feeling inadequate and jealous of those rich people with attics to keep yaks in)

How many DVDs do you have in your collection? Please arrange answer by alphabetical title order and BBFC rating. Indicate clearly which films are non English language and contain subtitles.

Do you keep your underwear and socks in the same drawer or individual compartments?

Please explain why you insist on drinking coffee when you know fine well that Her Brittanic Majesty prefers tea.

Preferred biscuit to dunks at elevenses – Digestive, Hobnob, shortbread, other (please indicate – be aware anything other than these three acceptable biscuits will be taken as a sign of subversive personality behaviour)

Have you now or have you ever been a member of the Communards fan club?

Who do you find more trustworthy, Nick Clegg or Cleggy from Last of the Summer Wine?

Are you satisfied with A) your high-speed broadband connection and B) the quality of online pornography?

Elucidate on the correct form of address for the Haggis (include the post code).

Red or White wine?

Cats or dogs?

Kiera Knightley or Carey Mulligan?

How many umbrellas do you own in your househould? Please indicate if they are full-sized or telescopic.

Explain, using graphics where necessary, the symbolism of the London Olympic logo and why it isn’t really a huge waste of money.

When you die do you plan to be interred in a cemetery, cremated, leave your body to science or have your corpse re-animated and return as a zombie? (please indicate if you intend to be evil, brain eating zombie or the more comedy friendly variety if the latter)

Explain why even in a pan-European, progressive, inclusive society it is still socially acceptable to make fun of A) red haired people (even in Scotland), B) fat people, C) mentally disturbed people who appear on reality and talent shows and D) the Belgians.

Britain’s love for curries proves that we’re really not racist at all and are actually a jolly nice multi-cultural society – discuss in no more than 500 words. Please indicate your favoured curry dish.

Explain why, using picures where required, Oor Wullie is an important medium for recording the microcosm of Scottish society.

Did you fill in this form yourself you lower class oik, or did you do it properly and have your butler do it?

The Broken House

Just how buggered is the United States Senate? George Packer in the New Yorker offers up some depressing reading on an institution utterly ruined by its own labyrinthian structures – both the physical building and the arcane rules and customs – and the increasing ways Senators, rather than doing their actual job of representing the interest of the citizens, spend little time on actual legislation and more on fund raising, publicity or goodness knows what else in their various cubby holes secreted around the building. And when they do troop into the chamber they spend inordinate amounts of time and effort to utilise obscure rules to ruin their opponents’ bills. Democratic choice said your party doesn’t have the majority? No problem, just use arcane old rules to wreck possible legislation by procedural means. Meanwhile important matters simply do not get discussed and dealt with. And they wonder why so many people don’t bother to vote?

And before you think hey, you’re not American, what does it matter to you that they can’t actually deliver the Great Democracy that they like to tell us all they do better than everyone else? Because some of those possible acts that get screwed up affect other nations – financial reform, foreign policy and aide, environmental protection. And because this sort of nonsense goes on in pretty much every parliament and senate in the democratic world to a lesser extent – and there’s that old worry that it will only get worse both here and there. And it doesn’t help anyone who believe in democracy if the institutions meant to serve it turn out to be full of self serving arseholes with no interest in representing the people and doing a good job. And you thought Mr Smith had a hard time when he went to Washington? (via Nick Smale)

National Census to be axed?

The new government apparently wants to axe the 200 year old tradition of the National Census, saying that there are more up to date, efficient and cheaper ways of obtaining such national level statistics (which in this ages of multiple data bases there almost certainly is, to be fair). But Francis Maude (god, can’t believe that eejit is back in a government post, sigh…)  is overlooking one vitally important factor – if we don’t have a national census every ten years then how will we know how many people claim ‘Jedi’ as their religion?? Perhaps this is proof positive that the Tories (and their Liberal Lackeys) are on the Dark Side and doing all they can to make sure no large Jedi tradition exists in the UK. The fiends.

Yes we will

My friend Dan Goldman, artist on Shooting War (my favourite graphic novel of 2007), 08: a Graphic Diary of the Campaign Trail and the psychedelic online comic Kelly on webcomics collective Act-I-Vate, has delivered a special treat for the inauguration of Barack Obama as President of the United States today (to be swiftly followed by the solving of all the world’s problems within a month), a short comic with President Obama set in 2012, riffing on his theme of change and using some of Dan’s very cool colouring effects that he lets rip with on Kelly, specially on Tor.com.

Lippygate

Barack Obama is being accused of sexism and attacking Sarah Palin with his comment “You can put lipstick on a pig. It’s still a pig. You can wrap up an old fish in a piece of paper and call it change. It’s still going to stink after eight years. We’ve had enough.” Some took it to be a reference to right-wing Palin’s recent and oh so charming ‘the difference between a hockey mom and a rottweiler is lipstick’ speech. The whole thing has been taken out of context though and it seems now he might have meant to say “you can give a pig an assault rifle and let it shoot up a family planning clinic but its still a pig.” Which is completely different.

Actually I’ve been watching in vain for someone to post a follow-up to a recent but not confirmed report that VP hopeful Palin, at the start of her political career as the mayor in small town Alaska, called in the local librarian to ask how she went about having books she didn’t approve of removed from the library, a pretty serious and heavy-handed bit of interference if true and an action which would speak volumes of her character, but sadly beyond the original report none of the major news agencies seem to be following it up. You can give a pig a library card but at the end of the day it might remain a close-minded, ignorant pig…

Evil bastards


Japan is unhappy with Australia. Why? Because of pictures released showing the hideous slaughter their whaling fleet inflicts on harmless animals for ‘scientific research’ – said research seems to consist of proving that shooting a large mammal with an explosive harpoon causes a long, slow, lingering, painful death and that you can cook the bits later for food (although actually there is some research which says they can hardly give whale meat away in Japan, so why they pursue this slaughter is beyond all comprehension and one is left to think those responsible are just evil bastards). One set of images taken clearly shows the swines killing a mother and a calf then dragging their carcasses up into their mobile concentration camp ships.

These pictures didn’t come from Greenpeace, they came from observers in a team of Australian customs officers.

It is explicitly clear from these images that this is indiscriminate killing of whales, where you have a whale and its calf killed in this way… And to claim that this is in any way scientific is to continue the charade that has surrounded this issue from day one…” Peter Garrett, Australian environment minister.

Japan’s state-supported Institute for Cetacean Research (where they research whales by killing them slowly and chopping up their carcasses like some sea-going Jack the Rippers) has claimed that releasing these pictures “created a dangerous emotional propaganda that could cause serious damage to the relationship between our two countries.” Well no argument on the first part – it does create emotions but I can’t help but think they are more worried about being seen by the entire world committing these atrocious acts than anything else. They were caught out slaughtering a mother and calf on camera. There’s no excuse for that. And to then try and blame Australia for showing what these bastards were more than happy to do when they thought no-one would notice is just plain cowardice. Then again, this is a country that still likes to pretend they didn’t engage in systematic torture, rape, murder and even using humans as guinea pigs for chemical warfare experiments during the Second World War. Maybe Japan needs to have evidence shoved in its nose and be made to see what the hell it has done.

I’ve got a great idea for some maritime ‘scientific research’ – let’s see scientifically what happens when we fire torpedoes into a whaling ship…

Saudi King says Brits not doing enough to fight terrorism

Despotic ruler King Abdullah of Saudi Arabia, in the spirit of diplomacy ahead of his state visit to the UK, declared that Britain had not done enough to fight terrorism. Asked to explain further an aide commented “well, you went and invaded Iraq with those trigger happy Yankees when you’d have been better bombing the crap out of our country – its where most of the 9-11 bombers came from and the funds for their murderous campaign. Clearly if you were serious about stopping terrorism you’d have flattened Saudi.”

Blockbuster

Who the bloody smegging hell helped Hutton write his report? Was it the same group of people worked on the Warren Comission who proved that Kennedy and the Texas Senator were all shot by a single magic bullet fired by Oswald? Tony Blair, his government and, even more incredibly, Alastair Campbell, the most evil and canniving of all the evil gang of sub-humanoids sent by the Lord of Hades to plague mankind (that’s Spin Doctors I’m talking about in case you didn’t get it) are ALL TOTALLY FUCKING INNOCENT, FRESH, FRAGRANT!!!!! THE BBC ARE THE SPAWN OF EVIL ATTACKING THAT POOR MR BLAIR….

Does anyone with a brain and eyes still believe a fucking word of what’s going on here? No wonder there are so many consporacy theorists out there when shit like this is pulled on the public. Blair’s still pretending to be a man of the people while fucking every student in the land, being a good leader while taking his own party to the edge of destructionto satisfy his own ego, pretending to be a civlised man while sneind British forces out on an unprovoked war of agression and pretending it was all for our own good and that those pesky weapons we went to war to defend the world against will turn up anyday… He’s been taking lessons from that smeghead Bush in artificial reality poltiics, hasn’t he?

Okay, the Beeb fucked up seriously in the way they handled the whole tale. However they did, as public service broadcasters, have to report the allegations. And given the utter lack of WMDs found, still a relevant story. And frankly, I cannot believe for a moment that Campbell’s spin office did not have a hand on the whole Dr Kelly name leaking. Nothing, but nothing is released by this paranoid and control-freak led government without going through a carfeul airbrushing from what was then Campbell’s office. And if he was in on it then so was Blair since he faithfully reports all to his master.

Paranoid? Look at it this way – Blair just this week took his own party to within 5 votes of defeat and possible government collapse over student top up fees and variable charging at universities. When your party has a majority in parliament which runs way into three figures then coming within 5 votes of defeat takes some skill. And shame on almost all of the Scottish Labour MPs who voted for Blair to save his worthless ass – including my own MP Alistair Campbell (the same one i pillorried a few months back for not even being able to recall we have a parliamen tin Scotland and not a mere ‘assembly’ even although it sits inside his constituency). Shame on you all for abandoning all of your principles and those your apry stood for for decades to protect your political careers. And Blair? Well, not doing all of this was a MANIFESTO PROMISE! He promised the British people if elected again he would not do this. He was then prepared to split the government over it. HE LIED! Yes, folks, he fucking lied and broke a promise. Now how can we possibly beleive anything now from or about a man who cannot keep his word?

I’m now waiting ont he blockbuster, four-hour movie that Oliver Stone is going to make of the whole thing… “Blair and to the right…Blair and to the right…”

The BBC – yes those pesky evil doers who I still trust more than any government on the planet – have the entire report available to download here.

Labour shows its anti-democratic side

So, Labour have made a humiliating climb down in the Scottish election campaign. They have been playing the independence bogey man card in their fight against the Scottish National Party, their main rivals. The SNP have promised to hold a referendum to allow the Scottish people to decide if they wish to move from a devolved parliament to full independence. Labour said that constitutional matters were a reserved power to Westminster and the Holyrood parliament could not even mount such a referendum.

Now you will notice this is London saying not only that the Edinburgh parliament does not have final say over independence, but on simply holding a referendum. Now obviously constitutional change would have to include all of the UK legislative bodies. But to threaten to block a possible referendum being held by a possible SNP government in Edinburgh? That is something else – that is effectively saying that London will not even allow the Scottish people to register their opinion. Does democracy so frighten these people?

For starters that is immoral and profoundly undemocratic. It is an action which is also very ill-considered, as this kind of thing will infuriate most Scots and drive them towards the nationalist camp and increase an anti-Westminster and possibly anti-English sentiment, neither of which are productive. Today Labour backtracked to say they would never block a referendum, but the damage is done. Labour have once more shown themselves to be a centrally-driven party who think nothing of over-riding Scottish concerns when it suits their London office. Im not making any pitch here for or against possible independence, but the right for Scottish citizens to have their say on the matter is utterly paramount. It is a matter of simple democracy and of the right of self-determination for all nations that is guaranteed under international law.