Greece! You’re the one that we don’t want, the one that we don’t want, oh, oh, ooh!

From the new musical: Greece!

Angie Merkel and Nicky Sarkozy are on stage, singing and dancing around Georgie Papandreou.

Angie Merkel (pirouettes):
You got bills.
They’re multiplyin’.
And you’re loooosin’ control!

Nicky Sarkozy:
You better shape up;
you better understand.
Nothin’ left, nothin’ left for you to doooo!

You’re the one that we don’t want,
the one that we don’t want, oh, oh, ooh!
You’re the one that we don’t want,
the one that we don’t want, oh, oh, ooh!

Nicky Sarkozy (strikes dramatic pose):
The one we don’t need.
Oh, yes indeed!
Repeat chorus.

With apologies to Jim Jacobs and Warren Casey

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To The Memory Of A Superpower

It is hard now to remember how strong the United States appeared in the last decade of the 20th century. As the victor of the Cold War its power was overwhelming and its values triumphant across the world. Its intellectuals went so far as to proclaim the End of History.

The challenge from Al Qaeda seemed barely significant, but its leaders were either clever or very lucky. The main provocation, commemorated today, was still small, equivalent to about a month of road fatalities in the US, far less deadly than the recent Japanese tsunami, but it was delivered with enough drama to make the superpower behave wildly and damage itself. It was a judo match in which the lightweight contender brought the heavyweight down by unbalancing him, his large weight then magnifying the effect of the fall. Such success must have been beyond these leaders’ expectations, only explicable to them in terms of divine support.

With a growing trade deficit and disappearing industries, but convinced of its own power, the US launched a series of expensive wars (the doom of many an empire throughout history) and chose to borrow to pay for them. The economy spiralled out of control, giving rein to the greedy in the financial system, who brought that system down. Wars could no longer be afforded. Though Al Qaeda in the end became an irrelevance, power in the Middle East passed to another ideological enemy, Iran, now strengthened as a result of America’s mistakes. More Americans died fighting abroad, on Al Qaeda’s ground, than were killed on September 11, 2001. More will die prematurely from the effects of the economic crisis. Greater still is the number of citizens of the world that have died in the wars designed by the US to bring them democracy.

It has been a catastrophic fall in only ten years. Today a weakened America looks out on a world that no longer fears it, that in fact is greatly concerned for America’s stability and solvency, because it holds US dollars in their trillions and depends on the US for trade. Goliath is in intensive care, in the hope that the concussive effects of the stone can be reversed.

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Fire Changes The Game

Restrained policing is not an option where rioters have arson in mind.

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News Of The World

News has arrived by carrier pigeon from Pongolia of a monster called the Moloch who has been devouring people on the streets of the capital. This has been happening for some years, but since the Moloch’s tastes seemed to be only for entertainers, who infest the city in excessive numbers, the common people have been little perturbed. Indeed it is claimed that many of them have quite enjoyed the spectacle of the devourings.

Now, however, it has transpired that in secret the Moloch has also been eating children, which has caused consternation throughout the realm. The Grand Vizier has addressed the ruling council to denounce the Moloch’s depradations in ringing terms, and some of the Moloch’s familiars have been caught and questioned.

Worryingly, however, it is now reported that the Grand Vizier and his ministers have been seen dining at least weekly at the Moloch’s castle, presumably on human flesh, amid much gaiety and carousal. This has discomfited the common people who are resolved to remain in their houses until the matter is finally settled, whether by the arrest and imprisonment of the Moloch or by the Moloch devouring the Grand Vizier and his ministers, either of which occurrences the people would regard as a blessing.

Meanwhile the capital has a melancholy aspect, with the people confined to their homes, the Moloch’s servants dismissed, the Moloch no longer disbursing gold in the city, and the ministers as ever bewildered and uncertain of what to do.

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Press Complaints Ombudsman?

Names matter. The Press Complaints Commission is functionally an ombudsman, mediating usefully between offended individuals and the press, and (unlike media lawyers) providing a free service to the public. It is conceptually distinct from a regulator, and lacks the powers to be one. If only it had been called the Press Complaints Ombudsman in the first place there would be less clamour now to abolish it.

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Every Other Century (2)

We know of no spectacle so ridiculous as the British public in one of its periodical fits of morality.
Lord Macaulay, 1830.

Rebekah excelled herself by virtually admitting she’s been illegally paying policemen for information. I called her to thank her for dropping the tabloid baton at the last minute. She apologised: “That’s why I should never be seen or heard in public”.
Piers Morgan, Diary entry for 11th March, 2003.

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Every Other Century

Puritanism in the 17th
Temperance in the 19th
Health & Safety in the 21st

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Churchill’s view

People in the UK have compared the “execution” of Osama Bin Laden unfavourably to the Nuremberg trials of Nazi war criminals after the second World War. What would Churchill have thought?

Churchill’s view, at least initially, was that the principal Nazis should be shot on capture – after all, there could be no real question as to their guilt. As late as April 1945 he explicitly rejected the idea of a war crimes trial. In the end he was overruled by Roosevelt and Stalin (the latter having had, from his point of view, a fairly satisfactory experience with show trials in the past).  Churchill eventually approved of the Nuremberg trials, but rather because of their value in exposing the depth of Nazi depravity than because of scruples about summary execution.

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