Friday, July 12, 2002

So, the Indy calls it a protest, while the Telegraph notes:

Eight crates of petrol bombs and a number of acid and paint bombs were seized last night in the Ardoyne area of north Belfast, leading police to believe that an attack was planned on the Orange parade.

Republicans 'plan to bus hundreds in for protests'

Belfast's most senior police officer warned last night that republicans were planning to bring hundreds of youths into the north of the city to attack the security forces as Orangemen march today.

Happy Holiday, Ulster.

Thursday, July 11, 2002

Small break from Orangeness to declare another great blog, RAWbservations, by one R. Alex Whitlock. Please take a moment out from your flute playing to go and say hi.

Like all relationships, the one between Europe and the US needs constant attention

Michael Howard claims that "with every new day some new issue seems to surface as a fresh source of division and dissent." Let me help you out with a few of your questions, sir.

What is happening to the Atlantic relationship that has seemed so strong for so long?

The Euroweenies are wussing out on us.

Does it matter?

Not on this side of the Atlantic.

And what, if anything, could or should be done about it?

Well, Europeans could finally settle down and accept their role as our bitches, and then everything would be just dandy.

Just kidding, Europe. You're not our "bitches". We still need you for imports like crystal and fromage, and as vacation destinations in case we feel like looking at old buildings and stuff.

He goes on...

As though these problems were not enough, deeper cultural divisions have become more intense. Many Europeans regard the use of capital punishment in the US as morally repugnant.

And many Americans regard the disuse of hygiene products as just plain repugnant.

Many Americans ascribe what they regard as a lack of total commitment to the anti-terrorism cause to latent European anti-Semitism.

I suspect this lack of commitment will dramatically change if and when a European capitol falls under attack. As far as the anti-Semitism goes, well, those accusations have been borne from comments about "that shitty little country" and physical attacks on synagogues, not unwillingness to show unilateral support for Israeli military operations.

These divisive issues are all serious and important.

Not from where I'm sitting. We don't give a shit.

And in Europe part of the impetus for European integration derives from a desire to establish a rival centre of power to the US, motivated in some quarters by explicit anti-Americanism. Does it matter? There are many of us who believe it does.

Does bigotry matter? Yes, but only if it transforms itself into violence of some kind. Otherwise, anti-American Eurocritters can swallow dog poo, for all I care.

...and on...

One specific measure would be the establishment of a standing conference of representatives from both sides of the Atlantic to try to identify likely causes of tension in advance and, where possible, take measures to resolve those issues before they caused real difficulty.

Oh great idea. Another fecking committee. Let's all meet up and talk about our feelings. Forget it. Either you're on board or you're not. Either you accept the cultural differences and nuances that set us apart, and have the patience and good sense to deal with them, or you don't.

For it is clear that there will continue to be tensions. The question is whether their cumulative presence will be such that this great historic partnership will degenerate into rivalry or, even worse, hostility.

Well, this country was founded because of tensions that degenerated into hostility with a European country. This is nothing new. It happens from time to time. Does anyone really think that it's going to culminate in shots being fired? Friendly ties being severed? Isn't that being just a tad bit hysterical?

If it does, the world in which we live will become a much less safe and less prosperous planet to the great detriment of all its inhabitants.

Hostility makes the world unsafe and unprosperous. Brilliant observation, dude.

One of the stranger sites I like to visit on the internet from time to time is the South African Parliament toilet cam. I don't know if it's genuine or not, but the water does appear to have a suspicious yellow tint that it didn't have the last time I checked.

But while complaints about republican violence and working class marginalisation are valid, reflexive resistance to change is not. Many Protestants simply do not accept that a fundamental transformation is required in Northern Ireland. Their attitude to power-sharing, policing changes and equality legislation is, at base, hostile.

Resistance to change may not be valid, but at the very least, it's human. Most of the resistance on the part of Protestants has been a distaste for the idea of being absorbed into a Roman Catholic theocracy. And their attitude to those things listed, at least the sensible, non-violent, un-Adairs, is not hostile. Power-sharing? Fine. As long as it doesn't mean letting religious dogma off the leash in the halls of the local legislature. Policing changes? Good. Just don't make them detrimental to one community for the benefit of another. Equality legislation? Welcome. But please make sure it provides for all citizens, including Protestants that are denied shopping and commerce privileges in Catholic neighborhoods.

For nationalists, these reforms represent a barely acceptable minimum. Disaster will beckon if the British government begins feeding union ist demands for "confidence-building measures" and, in the process, betrays nationalists. Unionists must be persuaded that the peace process has not been a one-way street. The reality is that Irish republicans have also had to swallow hard compromises, and unionists have benefited.

If you're going to convince unionists that it hasn't been a one way street, then it's time to start building a two-lane road. And I know what a hard comprimise it is to agree to stop shooting police officers and soldiers and blowing up pubs. Believe me, the world feels their pain.

The ideological maxims the IRA claimed as validation for its armed struggle - notably that the state of Northern Ireland had no right to exist - have been decommissioned by the Sinn Fein leadership.

Composed of former murderers and thugs with a Marxist bent. They haven't been decommissioned. They've been relegated to the silos, for now.

There is no way back to a meaningful military campaign.

If this were true, I'd just breathe a sigh of "Thank God". Unfortunately, it's not. I think one of th biggest misconceptions about NI and "the Troubles" is that it's all going to be over once there is a united Ireland. That's a bunch of crock. Does anyone really think that people like these are going to take something like that sitting down? The conflict will just take a different shape, and the authorities in charge will be wearing green instead of orange.

Wednesday, July 10, 2002


The Damage Control Department of Spin Doctors, Ltd. to the rescue:

Cherie Blair 'to host Israeli reception'

Cherie Blair has offered to host a charity event at Downing Street for Israeli victims of terrorism, it is reported.

MPs debate peace process

Labour former Northern Ireland spokesman Kevin McNamara agreed there were still "obstacles to be overcome" but insisted the peace agreement was developing "strongly and well".

He said: "We deplore knee-cappings, punishment beatings and what`s going on in North Belfast. But progress has been made."

"Of course, should paramilitary organizations and GFA signatories choose not to remain committed to the peace process, we are certainly open to negotiation, and even appeasement, if necessary," McNamara concluded.*

*Okay. He didn't really say that. But you know that's what he's thinking.

I'm still not sure what to make of the Donovan Jackson "beating" tape. Some people are so rushed to believe that cops are the scourge of the Earth, that they'll take any bad word on them as fact. I do know this: anyone who says that kid was singled out because he was black is full of shit. I work on Century Boulevard in Inglewood -- about two blocks from where this thing happened. Trust me, if police officers in this town were "singling out" black folks, they'd be busier than a whore at port after the U.S.S. Randy pulled in.

First Horseman of the Apocalypse: there was not one commentary in the Daily Wanker today that pissed me off. Run for your lives!

Today's Juan Gato With Cheese! Award For Stating the Bleeding Obvious, on the Untied Nations report on human development in Arab countries:

The report's conclusions are sobering. Arab Muslim society is holding people back because of repressive policies toward political freedom, gender equality, education and economic development.

Wow. The fire of genius it must take to come to the conclusion that oppressive theocracies suck. Only the folks at the U.N. could be so leery.

More collusion! Garda knew!

But nearly 15 years later the matter of police co-operation threatens a new crisis in inter-government relations with the disclosure yesterday that, 48 hours before it occurred, Garda knew that IRA dissidents had stolen the Vauxhall Cavalier used in the Omagh bombing. The crisis occurs because, allegedly, the RUC were not told.

Tuesday, July 09, 2002

If anyone happened to tape the first part of the PBS documentary Endgame in Ireland on Sunday night, please get in touch. I'll pay good money for a copy. I set the timer on the VCR to record it, but screwed up the channels and winded up taping two hours of TV Land. Bah!

I'm back. I had a wonderful time on vacation. So much so, that I didn't want to come back. It was nice to go to a liquor store that didn't smell like human piss for a hundred feet in every direction, that wasn't decorated up front by six guys drinking malt liquor camouflaged with paper bags, and that - urban dwellers prepare to be shocked - acutally had carpeting. Carpeting.

At any rate, after a week in the beautiful mountain town of Pagosa Springs, Colorado, I'm Seriously considering moving there. Seriously. My dad bought a few dozen acres there back in the late sixties, when he was at the Academy, so I've been going there since before I was born, and I've never been that keen on the place. And it's not like I left thinking "I hate L.A., I really want to get out". But I didn't hear a single siren for an entire week, nobody blasted rap music in my face, and a few super friendly neighbors have moved nearby since the last time I visited. It was great. I'm giving L.A. exactly one month to make me fall in love with her again. Otherwise, I'm making plans.

Oh yeah - as it turns out, my devious plot arranging for my neighbor's rooster to meet with an "unfortunate accident" upon my return proved to be unneeded. Someone else took care of the feathered loudmouth while I was gone.