Saturday, December 12, 2009

Justice for Tony Blair

Links to the Times website don't seem to work on Opera 10 for the Mac, as I found out when I wanted to read the Oliver Kamm 'Pedant' article Steven Poole criticized yesterday. No matter, I found the Avatar piece I linked to (NB, Avatar was made by Fox, and is therefore pretty heavily hyped in the Times, etc), and today, before I found that Steve's link works fine in Safari, I searched Google News for 'Oliver Kamm', I found that he's been name checked by Quentin Letts of the Mail. Probably not coincidentally, Kamm delivered his Olympian verdict on Letts' vocabulary on Friday. Letts' reply is as follows:

Business is not exactly brisk at a pro-Tony Blair internet petition.

Called 'Justice For Tony Blair', it claims that Mr Blair is being 'baited by the dogs of anti-war' and argues that his opponents should desist from criticising him until he has appeared in front of the Iraq Inquiry.

Lord Foulkes, the WC Fields lookalike and sometime Labour minister, added his name to the petition this week, but yesterday there were just 195 signatures, even though it has been open for business since the summer.

The only other notable names on the list: John Burton (Mr Blair's former constituency agent) and journalists John Rentoul (Independent on Sunday) and Oliver Kamm (a leader writer on The Times).


Why had I not heard of the Ban Blair Baiting petition before? Thanks to Quentin Letts, the tally of signatures has swelled to 197. These include "Corrupt Lying-**sbag" (signature 3), Anonymous (9, 15, 16, 23, 26, 28, 42, 59, 87, 91, 98, 101, 106, 123, 124, 129, 133, 136, 144, 180, 197) BlairSupporter (aka NOT Norman Baker) (12), silent sinner (64), John Rentoul (85), Stephen Pollard[1] (109), Oliver Kamm (110), Trial ForThe WarCriminalTraitor (126), Innocent Until Proven Guilty (127), Justice Meanshesguilty (150), Justice for Tony Blair According to his Enemies (152), the one true god rob theboot (187), and Lord George Foulkes (194). Names missing include David Miliband, Geoff Hoon, Gordon Brown, etc. The Parliamentary Labour Party is conspicuously absent, either because they think this is for lightweights such as bloggers (eg Oliver Kamm) or because defending Blair is of no interest to them. Also missing: Nick Cohen, Norman Geras, David Aaronovitch, David Toube.

I'm impressed by the 21 (over 10%!) who signed as 'Anonymous' clearly petrified that when the anti-war party comes into office their front doors will be kicked in jack booted thugs before dawn the day after the polls close. Or else they're too stupid to remember their own names. The writer of the petition has a mind like a trap. Baldrick, watch and learn!


Bear-baiting, whereby a tethered bear was attacked by a pack of dogs, was outlawed in this country in 1835. It is now time to stop BLAIR-baiting, i.e. attacks on our former Prime Minister by the dogs of anti-war. Less metaphorically it can be defined as the constant incitement of hatred against Tony Blair for taking us to war in Iraq.
...
The organisers of this petition do not belong to any one party but are united in our belief in "innocent until proved guilty" and that Mr Blair should be given a fair hearing at the inquiry. To this end we demand that if the Blair-baiters want to turn the inquiry into a trial they should follow the same rules as a trial and not be allowed to make any public comment on the proceedings until they are over.


What would these nefarious anti-war people find Blair guilty of but "taking us to war in Iraq" - as already admitted above. D'oh! And do you see the similarity between torturing a tethered bear and analysing the evidence that the former Prime Minister (who does resemble a bear in that he possesses "very little brain") justified a war on the account of a taxi driver and a 10-year old student dissertation? If you do, please explain. I don't.

[1] Not a notable name, then.

108 Comments:

Anonymous BenSix said...

Probably not coincidentally, Kamm delivered his Olympian verdict on Letts' vocabulary on Friday.

Letts could also be feuding with Stephen Pollard. He must be pissed that he wasn't among the "notable names".

12/12/2009 06:40:00 PM  
Anonymous BenSix said...

(Woops - should've read the post more thoroughly.)

12/12/2009 06:47:00 PM  
Blogger Mr Kitty said...

I can't believe I'm wasting typing time on this piece of crap but...

"To this end we demand that if the Blair-baiters want to turn the inquiry into a trial they should follow the same rules as a trial and not be allowed to make any public comment on the proceedings until they are over."

Let's get this straight. We're not allowed to put him on trial and, if he is in front of an inquiry, we have to treat it as if it were a trial.

Er... that doesn't add up.

I also can't believe they're so desperate for numbers they're not vetting the comments. No 126 is a peach.

12/12/2009 07:45:00 PM  
Blogger Tim Wilkinson said...

The closest Blair is likely to get to being cross examined is his interview with, er, Fearne Brittan.

The inquiry hasn't shown any interest in doing anything as infra dig as actually asking a lot of impertinent questions so far, and it seems unlikely that such an oddly uninquisitive bunch will decide to make an exception of Tony Blair.

12/13/2009 01:28:00 AM  
Anonymous Logos said...

The Ban Blair baiting petition at least shows that there are some people who can resist the great brainwashing that has taken place on this subject.

It has also been spot on regarding how the media and people like yourselves would be treating the Iraq inquiry. Cherry picking and hyping up everything that suits their case, ignoring everything that doesn't.

It's also been right about the deranged nature of the opposition to Blair, with many calling for him to be strung up by his own intestines etc. I think that's why some of their comments have been left at the site - to demonstrate what Blair is up against

And these people have the nerve to claim the moral high ground.

Pathetic!!!

12/13/2009 12:13:00 PM  
Anonymous Phil said...

many calling for him to be strung up by his own intestines etc.

"Many"? You've seen calls for Blair to be strung up by his own intestines (etc) from more than three different people?

12/13/2009 12:40:00 PM  
Blogger Mr Kitty said...

"Cherry picking and hyping up everything that suits their case, ignoring everything that doesn't."

I hope the irony of that statement is not lost on you...

12/13/2009 01:03:00 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

Oh Kamm you and your tedious predictability.

His blog seems to consist of nothing but 'Noam Chomsky is bad', 'Srebrenica'!, 'St Tony is the barer of world peace' and the always enthralling ‘examples of incorrect spelling and grammar’ by...

12/13/2009 05:02:00 PM  
Blogger Tim Wilkinson said...

Oh, it's 'Fern Britton', apparently.

Nice to see that (apart from purporting to acquit) the inquiry will be even less like a trial than we had expected.

(And even less like one than, say, the Saddam-stringing-up-ceremony that managed to cherry-pick an atrocity in which the US/UK weren't too obviously implicated, albeit a relatively minor one compared to the aggreesive war offence that had so many non-Tonys hanged at Nuremburg.)

Logos's content-free rant is a good example of the self-rinsing attitude of Blair-fanciers everywhere. Pathetic[insert extra punctuation to taste].

He or she can be reassured at least that the inquisitors themselves clearly haven't been subject to this otherwise all-pervasive mind control*.

Professor Freedman, for example, seems unlikely to be biased against Blair:

he volunteered the information that he had "instigated" a pre-war seminar for Blair to discuss Iraq because, he said, "I was aware of misgivings among some specialists in Iraq about the direction of policy". He added that this was "my only direct engagement in Iraq policy making". We were not told how a professor of history came to be in a position to organise such a seminar for the Prime Minister, nor, for that matter, whether there might have been some indirect engagements subsequently on the part of Freedman.

For those who don't know, KCL 'war studies' in general, and Freedman in particular, are in bed with and indeed basically an extension of, the Chatham House permanent intel/strategy estabishment.

----

*"brainwashing" Logos's strawman, not mine.

12/13/2009 08:45:00 PM  
Blogger Tim Wilkinson said...

(the Fern Britton' link not about Fern but Blair deliering his naraive in private.

Logos's theory about the anti-Blair remarks being left(/put) there for smear purposes is plausible, but I'm not endosring it since I haven't done basic checks like establishing that it is even feasible for a petition proposer to delete unwelcome entries.

12/13/2009 08:52:00 PM  
Anonymous Logos said...

Thank you Blair baiters for proving so graphically the points that I and the petition have been making.

12/13/2009 09:11:00 PM  
Anonymous Logos said...

PS If anyone wants to join the ranks of those who have resisted the great brainwashing they can sign the petition here http://www.gopetition.com/petitions/ban-blair-baiting/sign.html

12/13/2009 09:19:00 PM  
Blogger Mr Kitty said...

I, for one, can't wait to add my signature.

So far you've got 205 signatures from all those brave people/ anonymous nonentities willing to put their balls on the line.

Only 32 short of the dead soldiers killed in Afghanistan since 2001. But don't worry, you're still ahead of the number of 179 dead in Iraq who were British servicemen. (Forget the 700,000 Iraqi dead of course, they're of no importance - as Tony has shown yesterday. The psychopath would have gone in - WMD or not).

Congratulations!

12/13/2009 09:42:00 PM  
Blogger Tim Wilkinson said...

There's glory for you

12/13/2009 09:42:00 PM  
Blogger Tim Wilkinson said...

(Ref. to Logos, not to Mr K)

12/13/2009 09:43:00 PM  
Blogger nancy said...

How strong are entrails? Could they really hold a body? Sorry, random thoughts late on a Sunday night...

12/13/2009 10:03:00 PM  
Anonymous Cian said...

Kamm's pedant article is one of the most unintentionally hillarious things I've read in months. Almost Pooteresque.

12/13/2009 10:08:00 PM  
Anonymous Cian said...


And these people have the nerve to claim the moral high ground.


Well they're unlikely to be responsible for anyone's death. So there's that in their favour...

Cian

12/13/2009 10:11:00 PM  
Anonymous BlairSupporter said...

What have you guys got against the only MP with the necessaries to sign this petition?

Poor Tom Harris's name wasn't seen as notable (@ 139). He's already complained that no-one has noticed him!!! Should have added "MP".

As for selecting the antis - 199, 201 & 204 are also worth reading. Thanks to Quentin Letts (from the last two above mentioned!)

204 - "he was the best p.m. ever
thank you daily mail for leading me to this site"

And there are signatures from Iraqis, Afghans and even Iranians.

Didn't notice THEM now, did you, sharp eyes!?

Some of them have been noted at this post, for your ease of searching:

http://keeptonyblairforpm.wordpress.com/2009/08/18/ban-blair-baiting-petition-signed-by-an-afghan/

There IS certainly a need for people to lay off Tony Blair right now as this Trial... sorry Inquiry proceeds. He is NOT a "war criminal". No-one is any kind of criminal until so proven.

The fact that so many have decided in their illiberal way that THEY "ALL KNOW" is a travesty of anything approaching fair play, far less justice.

Don't expect most readers here to "get" this simple fact. They don't get much, apart from what they choose to hear.

To quote the ignorant - 'WE ALL KNOW THAT', DON'T WE?

12/13/2009 10:33:00 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

Mr Kitty, the number of petition signatories is also (unfortunately) well short of the many hundreds of thousand killed, maimed, poisoned and tortured by Saddam Hussein. But of course that side of the story is completely ignored by you oh-so-caring anti-war people.

Your live and let live approach to these atrocitities was/is truly contemptible. It was/is more like live and let die.

12/13/2009 11:03:00 PM  
Blogger Tim Wilkinson said...

Judiciously open-minded, er, BlairSupporter:

there are signatures from Iraqis, Afghans and even Iranians.

Yes, you appear to have established that all the death mutilation and destruction are worth it, nt to mention the assault on the fragile constraints of international law. Now if only there were a statistician around who could confirm the significance of this important finding.

There IS certainly a need for people to lay off Tony Blair right now as this Trial... sorry Inquiry proceeds.

The only people who are treating this as a trial are those like you who will be pleased with an 'acquittal'.

No-one is any kind of criminal until so proven.

This is at least clearly false. The rest is just the verbal equivalent of spluttering in indignation.

12/13/2009 11:23:00 PM  
Blogger Mr Kitty said...

Indeed.

I can't believe I thought that justice for Saddam's crimes wasn't best served by killing another 700,000 people.

I'd somehow confused utilitarianism with adolescent arguments about interventionism.

What's your next analogous port of feeble call in your argument lifted from the Sun? Getting in a time machine and murdering Hitler?

By the way, I don't normally respond to the anonymous - but in your case I'll make a singular exception, but this is a serious blog and we rarely entertain the transient simpletons.

12/13/2009 11:27:00 PM  
Blogger Tim Wilkinson said...

Anonymous troll:

Are these deaths etc, ones that were prevented by the invasion, or grounds for taking revenge on the Iraqi population?

I only ask because it looks to me as though you're making up some numbers and then using the old 'Saddam bad, mumble mumble, Fallujah good' argument.

Second thoughts, treat that as a rhetorical question. In the words of Colonal Bat Guano, I've wasted enough time on you already.

12/13/2009 11:36:00 PM  
Blogger Mr Kitty said...

Blair supporter

'204 - "he was the best p.m. ever
thank you daily mail for leading me to this site"'

Yes, from a Robert Grice in Burnley. It's a ringing endorsement.

Also if you assert "He is NOT a "war criminal". No-one is any kind of criminal until so proven."

Happy for him to be charged then - a chance to prove his case? Given a trial at the Hague?

Personally, I don't think he is a criminal in the strictest sense as he made absolutely sure what he did was covered legally and one has to adhere to the Geneva convention in war. But his wasn't a war was it?

I stand by Kurt Vonnegut's description of him as a personable psychopath - willing to throw away lives and destroy families and fuck up countries to enhance his feeling of empowerment.

Love him or loathe him even Prescott calls his obsequiousness to Bush "hair-raising"

12/14/2009 12:09:00 AM  
Anonymous BenSix said...

Didn't notice THEM now, did you, sharp eyes!?

Forgive me, BlairSupporter. Clearly, a handful of self-proclaimedly Iraqi signatories - all of whom must have a) a computer, b) decent english and c) a passing knowledge of the Blairite blogosphere/access to the Daily Mail - are wholly representative of their supposed population. Mea somethingorother.

12/14/2009 12:12:00 AM  
Anonymous bubby said...

I am suprised anyone is prepared to stick up for Blair in light of his recent extraordinary admission.

Nick was in characteristically deranged form today. I was particularly stunned by this comment on the history of US industrial relations.

According to socialist theory, Americans ought to have developed a distinct class consciousness, but the strong trade unions and socialist or labour parties of Europe and Canada never repeated their success in the United States. There were no monarchs, bishops and nobles to react against and everyone except the slaves believed in elements of the egalitarian promise of the American dream.

Amazing stuff.

12/14/2009 12:24:00 AM  
Blogger Mr Kitty said...

Shocking sense of US history that only NC can write.

Where does one start with "Americans ought to have developed a distinct class consciousness"?

Brother can you spare a dime? American Communist Party? Woody Guthrie? Extraordinary!

Oh...and Bernie Sanders

12/14/2009 12:39:00 AM  
Anonymous BlairSupporter said...

Mr Wilkinson,
Point 1.

You said:
"No-one is any kind of criminal until so proven. This is at least clearly false."

I realise Mr Wilkinson that people like yourself, who KNOW it all, choose to bend the truth as regards many aspects of the law to suit your arguments.

I may have omitted, rather carlessly (taking it as understood), the word "legally" in my statement that no-one is guilty until proven so. But I imagine the disinterested got the point.

It's based on "innocent until proven guilty". Remember that?

It means that under the law no terrorist suspect, for instance, can be called a 'terrorist' until he is proven guilty. Until then he is a suspect only.

In an INQUIRY, which is NOT a court of law, no-one should be considered GUILTY. Clearly. Especially since this is not a court of law, but only reputedly, an Inquiry.

But the SUSPECT here is trapped between a rock and a hard place. Guilty by press & thus public opinion. For thoughts on public opinion refer to another former PM - Churchill.

I accuse you and much of the British press of atrocious, shameful behaviour in your 'sure and certain KNOWLEDGE' of every fact, thought, opinion, reasoning, motivation, policy & possibility that went through the minds of those VOTED in DEMOCRATICALLY to lead the west against such murderous dictators as Saddam.

Point 2.
As for this nonsense about my establishing "that all the death mutilation and destruction are worth it" - are you comPLETELY bonkers?

The war lasted ONE MONTH. Even in that short period and every day since the deaths were NOT caused by UN troops, British or otherwise, but by local insurgents of many of the region's nationalities. Suicide car bombers ring a bell?

Ahhh, but I hear you say - it was us in the wicked west who MADE them kill one another. Fomented etc etc etc ... there were NO problems at all with fundamentalism until we got there.

It really is time that some of you saw the woods despite the trees.
Blair saw the woods years ago before any of you CARED about Iraq. His Doctrine of Humanitarian Intervention ten years ago should be read by all of you. And if you're not empathetic even then, hold your hands up to those who care not one iota about international law, freedom, democracy, inclusivity or tolerance. Cos that future is what's coming your way.

http://keeptonyblairforpm.wordpress.com/2009/12/13/tony-blair-quotes-on-iraqsaddamwmds-february-2003/

12/14/2009 12:41:00 AM  
Anonymous Julie said...

@BenSix

"Clearly, a handful of self-proclaimedly Iraqi signatories - all of whom must have a) a computer, b) decent english and c) a passing knowledge of the Blairite blogosphere/access to the Daily Mail - are wholly representative of their supposed population"

Since up to 350.000 Iraqis live in exile in Britain-thanks to Saddam's murderous regime-I am not surprised at all some of them own a computer,speak decent English and care about Mr.Blair.

12/14/2009 12:57:00 AM  
Blogger Mr Kitty said...

@ Blair Supporter - I think you are neglecting your X Box and your homework. Don't forget, school tomorrow!

"I accuse you and much of the British press of atrocious, shameful behaviour in your 'sure and certain KNOWLEDGE' of every fact, thought, opinion, reasoning, motivation, policy & possibility that went through the minds of those VOTED in DEMOCRATICALLY to lead the west against such murderous dictators as Saddam."

Try saying something without the histrionics and the caps locks in hysterical readiness.

Or... look at the carnage in Iraq.

The war lasted "One month"! Are you insane? Even the UN describe it as ongoing since 2003!

12/14/2009 01:02:00 AM  
Blogger Tim Wilkinson said...

"he made absolutely sure what he did was covered legally"

I don't think so - despite the US and UK's behaviour in relation to Iraq (and the expedient of getting in a silk to justify the CPS decision not to proceed in the cash-for-honours affair, and the use of explanatory guidance on torture as though it were a get-out-of-jail-free card), ignorance of the law is no defence in common law jursdictions, and it's hard to see it being in international courts either. And that remains the case even if you have bad legal advice.

But even more clearly and more relevantly here, you can't hive off the reponsibility by deliberately inducing a lawyer (with professional indemnity insurance and no criminal liability for your actions) to produce a congenial opinion.

And (about the only new and interesting thing to have arisen from the inquiry - and no thanks to its panel) boy, was Goldsmith induced.

12/14/2009 01:22:00 AM  
Blogger Mr Kitty said...

Indeed, and quite correct. But he erected enough hurdles to obfuscate any sightline of justice. He broke all kinds of law; ethical, judicial, political, humanitarian but...

He's covered - one way or another.

12/14/2009 01:34:00 AM  
Blogger Tim Wilkinson said...

Agreed, or at least I certainly wouldn't now bet against you in the absence of some really astronomical odds from a very dependable bookmaker.

Still he has yet probably quite a long time to walk the earth talking of faith and formaldehyde and, it is to be hoped (on strictly non-vindictive, deterrent grounds of course), looking over his shoulder just a bit every now and then.

12/14/2009 02:21:00 AM  
Anonymous organic cheeseboard said...

even by the atrocious standard of the trolls we get here, this is poor stuff:

in that short period and every day since the deaths were NOT caused by UN troops, British or otherwise, but by local insurgents

oh dear. don't feed the troll.

12/14/2009 08:59:00 AM  
Anonymous Phil said...

I thought the Fern Britton interview was a quite extraordinary misjudgment (at least, I hope it was a misjudgment). The headlines the next day should have read "Blair: I lied". (Tony Blair, 25/2/2003: "even now, today, we are offering Saddam the prospect of voluntary disarmament through the UN. I detest his regime—I hope most people do—but even now, he could save it by complying with the UN’s demand. Even now, we are prepared to go the extra step to achieve disarmament peacefully.")

12/14/2009 09:19:00 AM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

Let's keep the trolls around. It's interesting to see exactly how many impossible things you have to believe in order to remain a fervent supporter of Blair.

Can some of you trolls address the 'misleading Parliament' charge, please?

Chris Williams

12/14/2009 09:36:00 AM  
Anonymous BenSix said...

Julie...

Yes, but the supposed Iraqis on this petition have put it as their region.

I wouldn't be surprised if there are people in Iraq who "own a computer, speak decent English and care about Mr.Blair", I'm just hazarding a fairly confident guess that they're a pretty select demographic.

12/14/2009 11:16:00 AM  
Anonymous Logos said...

Phil, thanks for that Tony Blair quote about Saddam being given every chance to comply with those UN resolutions.

This completely undermines the case against him since if he and Bush were so intent on regime change regardless, Saddam wouldn't have been given those chances.

All Saddam had to do was to comply with the resolutions, get signed off by a sympathetic Blix and that would have been the end of it (whether or not Blair considered it right to remove him).

But of course this kind of logic is beyond most of the commenters here. Their minds are made up and the last thing they want is to be confused by the facts (especially when they're accompanied by rational argument).

Seeth on then if it helps to get something nasty out of your systems.

12/14/2009 11:48:00 AM  
Blogger Chardonnay Chap said...

Logos wrote: This completely undermines the case against him since if he and Bush were so intent on regime change regardless, Saddam wouldn't have been given those chances.

Ahem.

12/14/2009 01:15:00 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

"He made absolutely sure what he did was covered legally"

I'm not so sure about that. I think that Blair thought that he could get the UK to buy into the US policy of preventive military intervention: the "blood price" speech of early September 2002 was very much pointing in that direction. In the end, though, it seems that too many people wouldn't get involved with something so obviously against international law. Thus the desperate search for a legal fig-leaf, which only convinces those who want to be convinced. The legal coverage seems to me to have been an afterthought, and it's looking very threadbare at the moment.

Guano

12/14/2009 01:28:00 PM  
Blogger Tim Wilkinson said...

Phil, I don't think it was a misjudgement - just a successful attempt to get his story out slowly (leaked before the broadcast, broadcast on Sunday so not reportable in detail in the Sunday papers) and in a controlled and sympathetic fashion surrounded by lots of stuff about Faith.

Not sure if that was before he knew his efforts to get his 'evidence' heard sub rosa(!!!!!, btw) had been successful - if he already did know, then I suppose he knew he needed something utterly unincriminating (because supposedly counterfactual) to put out for the pichforked mob to tear apart.

If he didn't, then it would at least make the revelation old news by the time he made it to the sound fellows of the Chilcott inquiry. You know the stuff: world weary furrowed brow, condescending half smile: "these allegations have been around for a long time.."

Not that it was in the slightest bit surprising, nor not already inferable from the arguments made before he alighted on WeMaD as the casus belli for parliamentary purposes (backed up by tanks at Heathrow in an almost mirror image of the similar show in 1974.)

---------Troll fodder----------

[I'm taking Chris Williams' advice and engaging in conversation with the confabulist tendency (I trust no-one objects too much as the grown ups have pretty much finished with this thread). If our host(s) unequivocally demur, I'll stop.]

Logos*; your efforts at making sense of the world seem to be hampered by a willingness, or need, to believe that everything Blair said was true, or rather (since that would tax anyone's ability capacity for Orwellian mental gymnastics) that any selected thing he said may be taken, in isolation, as true.

Needless to say, reports of Blair's vindication by an old quote are somewhat exaggerated.

Julia: so you are saying that of the half a squillion fugitives from Saddam's all-encompassing infantivorous evil that are now holed up in Britain, only a handful have decided to support their Saviour. Are you sure that is really what you want to say?

And what BenSix said, and what I said - i.e. we are talking about inadequate evidence for an irrelevant thesis. I hear the Iraqi president is pleased about the invasion, too.

*Marketing emblems?

12/14/2009 01:40:00 PM  
Blogger Tim Wilkinson said...

Guano: Mr K wasn't saying that the legal coverage was sincere. But when you say 'threadbare', the link at my comment above (12/14/2009 01:22:00 AM) shows (for those who weren't reading the situation too clearly at the time) just how ragged it was on the most exculpatory reading of the moral issues, never mind the legal realm in which Goldsmith's scribblings held no legislative sway.

12/14/2009 01:51:00 PM  
Blogger cian said...

Blair's unlikely to ever be convicted of a crime. On the other hand, he'll have to live with the consequences for the rest of his life. He's likely to be remembered in Britain for the rest of his life as the man who lied us into a disastrous war. That's it, that's his legacy. He could have been remembered (as he so desperately wants) as the most successful Labour prime-minister, but no one will remember any of that. And his stature on the world state is in tatters - something I think he's only just starting to realise. Politically he's toxic, and he'll spend the rest of his life as a has been that nobody wants to be associated with.

12/14/2009 02:50:00 PM  
Anonymous Logos said...

Wilkinson, I'm afraid all of your pompous affectation is failing to disguise the paucity of your arguments. I'd keep it for the bar-room if I were you. I'm sure you and Mr Chardonnay would go down a hoot there.

12/14/2009 02:51:00 PM  
Anonymous Logos said...

Clan. I'm sure that being remembered like that by people like you will not worry Mr Blair in the least.

12/14/2009 02:55:00 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

David Aaronovitch debunks the 911 truth movement

www.youtube.com/watch?v=fPbPJcVjUGA

12/14/2009 03:26:00 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

Politically he's toxic, and he'll spend the rest of his life as a has been that nobody wants to be associated with.

If only. Large Corporations are lining up to fill his mouth with cash on the rubber chicken circuit.

12/14/2009 03:31:00 PM  
Anonymous bubby said...

Sorry that one above was me. Forgot to put name. Apologies

12/14/2009 03:32:00 PM  
Blogger Mr Kitty said...

I'm sure that being remembered like that by people like you will not worry Mr Blair in the least.

Of course it won't, and that's the saddest part. He will look to the divinity that reinforced his decisions and sanctified his crimes.

12/14/2009 03:45:00 PM  
Blogger Mr Kitty said...

Before you quibble on "crimes"

Remember

12/14/2009 03:49:00 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

Of course it won't, and that's the saddest part. He will look to the divinity that reinforced his decisions and sanctified his crimes.

God was unavailable for comment on the invasion of Iraq. One of his spokesmen, however, denounced it - but Blair probably echoes Stalin's view about how many divisions the Pope has. Blair would probably also have the nerve to tell God Himself that he was right to invade Iraq even if He said Blair was wrong. The former PM's omniscience trumps any deity's, as any troll - sorry, fule - kno.

[redpesto]

12/14/2009 04:15:00 PM  
Blogger Chardonnay Chap said...

Did you see what fucking Logos has gone and fucking done? He's reduced my fucking argument to fucking matchsticks. It's not even fucking firewood now. He/she/fucking they have fucking destroyed my fucking argument that Tony Fucking Blair didn't give a flying fuck about fucking WM fucking Ds because he actually fucking said so to the fucking Iraq inquiry, but Logos just drop kicks that out the fucking stadium by telling me to keep my fucking arguments to the fucking bar-room. I may as well fucking go home now. That's how broken in pieces I am.

And who the hell talks about 'bar-rooms' anyway? I bet nobody's used the word since Alec Fucking Guinness wore glasses and a cowboy suit to advertise fucking Milky Bars. See, I give you 28 carat proof that Tony Blair couldn't give a shit about what Saddam complied with or not, and your comeback is "har-har, fucking saloon bar". That's about as funny as Noel Edmonds dying of cancer. No, hold on, Noel Edmonds dying of cancer would be a lot fucking funnier than that. So why don't you roll up your two fucking brain cells and stick them up your fucking penis?

[Yes, I mourning the end of Malcolm Tucker. Why do you ask?]

12/14/2009 04:52:00 PM  
Blogger Mr Kitty said...

Well... I hope you're proud of yourself Logos. You've destroyed a once fine man with your ingenuity and superior logic. It's a sad day for AWatch. You heartless bastard.

12/14/2009 05:00:00 PM  
Anonymous gastro geroge said...

"He could have been remembered (as he so desperately wants) as the most successful Labour prime-minister"

He could have been remembered as the first "President of Europe". How ironic that his erstwhile pals Nicolas and Angela should let him down.

12/14/2009 05:45:00 PM  
Anonymous bubby said...

Some days ago Phil remarked that a madness had seemingly infected the Tory party and that there were many 'crazy' people in political life.

Reading the defences of Tony Blair currently littering the blogosphere I am forced to agree. The evidence that he lied - not just spun- but lied repeatedly is overwhelming. From the claim that the intelligence was "extensive, detailed and authoritative" to the argument that the process wasn't about regime change and that Iraq could avoid attack if it disarmed it was all lies.

But no evidence, no matter how authoritative will ever convince Blair's supporters. This really is the kind of thinking that you see in cults and fundamentalist religious movements.

12/14/2009 05:47:00 PM  
OpenID splinteredsunrise said...

OT, but have just reached page 9 of the new Private Eye. Holy piss.

Nick is banging on yet again about libel reform. His key case this time revolves around his mate Douglas Murray, who apparently "investigates white and Islamist far-right groups". Needless to say, Murray comes out of it looking like more of an unscrupulous weasel than a free-speech martyr.

It reminds me of Nick's stance in the Galloway case against the Daily Telegraph, which boiled down to the argument that, since Galloway was a reprehensible person with dodgy politics, one should have the right in law to just make shit up about him and print it. This is why, although I'm not unsympathetic in principle to libel reform, it doesn't fill me with confidence that the likes of Nick and David T have such a hard-on for it.

Oh, and the "Gordon Brown got my mate Martin sacked from the Staggers" story gets another run out. Evidently he isn't even listening to Martin. Nick is getting to be a serious problem for the Eye's credibility.

12/14/2009 06:31:00 PM  
Blogger cian said...

"Of course it won't, and that's the saddest part. He will look to the divinity that reinforced his decisions and sanctified his crimes."

I don't think that's true. If it was, he wouldn't spend so much time desperately defending his decision to invade. He's not trying to prevent himself from being arrested, he's trying to save his reputation. He's a has been, but one's reputation has gone from being pretty golden to shit. Alan Greenspan would be a good comparison. Like being champion of the world, and then five years later getting the medal confiscated for cheating.

"If only. Large Corporations are lining up to fill his mouth with cash on the rubber chicken circuit."

Oh money perhaps. But he's a man who's desperate for prestige and reputation. Which he's probably lost for good. Which takes a rare skill, as almost everyone gets rehabilitated eventually. But I suspect sad old bores like Logos are the only ones who will try, or bother. Its not that he's uniquely bad, but more that he's an embarrassment; a reminder of things everyone would like to forget. The man's a ghost haunting the national and international stage. At least Bush had the good grace to fuck off back to Texas.

Logos: Clan. I'm sure that being remembered like that by people like you will not worry Mr Blair in the least.

I'm sure it won't. Its the other 90%, and the way historians will write about this period which will.

12/14/2009 06:33:00 PM  
Blogger Mr Kitty said...

And they are inspired by his rhetoric. A kind of I-ask-God-to-judge-me-not-you.

What's so galling though is that conversely, when Mussies are criticized for using Allah as an inspiration for murder they are zealots and lunatics.

When Blair and Bush invoked 'a higher power' to justify their actions it is faith and comfort that happily sent innocent soldiers and civilians to their deaths and then pontificate on having done the right thing.

To be rewarded in heaven no doubt - or on Earth with a pay-day and job as inappropriate as middle-east envoy. Why not make Gary Glitter head of the NSPCC?

12/14/2009 06:44:00 PM  
Anonymous Logos said...

Mr Chardonnay, many a true word spoken in jest - if jest it was ?!?

12/14/2009 07:03:00 PM  
Blogger Chardonnay Chap said...

More seriously that my last comment, I'm sorry that I missed the MP who signed the petition. I didn't recognise the name and that's my ignorance showing. I mean this: thank you for teaching me something. However, I agree that some Iraqi names are on the petition, but so what? Someone gains from every regime change. A handful of names proves nothing. Petitions are supposed to show mass support, not a privileged few. There are quite a few nutty comments I didn't mention. One just says "I love Africa". Some of the weird names are clearly anti-Blair and some are replies to earlier comments, but these could be duplicate signatures. If there were a lot of signatures, the few trolls wouldn't matter, but they do here. And I understand that someone has to make the first move, so some heavyweight has to sign before others do, but so many MPs and other "serious" players haven't bothered that Kamm and Pollard and Rentoul just look a bit silly on there.

While I'm on the comments (sorry, but I can't be arsed going back to give numbers for each comment), one of the 'real' signers said that Blair's life was a "living hell." I mean, really? A lot of the arguments presented come down to "he was on our side, therefore he can't be prosecuted for war crimes" or even "he meant well" but these aren't good enough. I really think it's important that we stay in the moral right. It's not enough to say that soldiering is really tough and war is hell, so what's a few more casualties? The US did the right thing with Lt Calley, but all these right wing idiots tried to call him a patriot, and that, I fear, is what's going on with Blair. I don't believe in reified evil the way Norman Geras does, but I believe that acts can be evil, and the way to evil acts is to believe that the end justifies the means. It never does.

12/14/2009 07:04:00 PM  
Blogger Mr Kitty said...

"Of course it won't, and that's the saddest part. He will look to the divinity that reinforced his decisions and sanctified his crimes."

I don't think that's true. If it was, he wouldn't spend so much time desperately defending his decision to invade. He's not trying to prevent himself from being arrested, he's trying to save his reputation.


I was talking of his conscience; his reputation is in smithereens.

12/14/2009 07:18:00 PM  
Blogger Chardonnay Chap said...

Yes, Logos, I was (partly) joking.

Since I'm still here, another thing that annoyed me about that petition was that at least one signer claimed that Blair was the best Prime Minister of the last century. I'm an ex-member of the Labour Party, but I rate Blair, as a person, below John Major, who I think was more fundamentally decent and honest than Blair was, and a lot less in love with power. (I should admit that I've always got a bit of a chip here, and Major was a "working class" boy without a university education and I admire that. I regard Blair as a bit of a nob for going to Fettes.)

I accept that 'best PM' is a matter of taste, and choosing Blair is no more wrong, in a sense, than preferring Jedward over Bach, but David Lloyd George, Winston Spencer Churchill, Clement Atlee, and Margaret Thatcher all have very good claims. A blithe preference for Blair signals ignorance more than ill will.

I agree with Splintered Sunrise about Blair in a way. I think he's a bit more grown-up than SS acknowledges. I think Blair realises that the glory years are behind him. And he knows that, even though he'll earn a fortune by our paupers' standards over the next few years, he'll never compete with, say, Alan Sugar or Liam Gallagher, but he had them both in the palm of his hand when he was PM. (This is why the MPs expenses stories are so weird. MPs don't earn as much as the ultra-rich, but they're part of a really enviable elite nonetheless. They should be happy with that.) But Blair wants reputation which Shakespeare (who was famous in his day) called a 'bubble'. Kipling, both famous and rich, was also derisory.

I could put all this better, but this is a rush job.

12/14/2009 07:33:00 PM  
Blogger Chardonnay Chap said...

By the way, see You meant well Tony? Of course you did! on Liberal Conspiracy. On this, I'll say again that Saddam was both evil (for crimes during the Iran-Iraq war as well as suppression, terror etc) as well as a dictator at the time of the Gulf War (or Gulf War I, if you prefer). He could have been deposed in 1991. He wasn't. I posted this almost three years ago. It's still worth reading, though I say so myself. (And although it's copied from a book, I've not yet been asked to take it down.)

12/14/2009 08:03:00 PM  
Blogger Mr Kitty said...

The upshot is, TB has wrapped himself in this floating orb of impervious religious righteousness that allows accusations of deceit to be bounced off.

His arrogance allows him to think appearing on This Morning is a kind of settling of affairs. Like a sage or elder statesman. At least Robert McNamara wrestled with his demons despite being wrong.

His personality thirsts for attention and praise - and his craven desire for atonement is shallow.

A defence of "God told me to do it" is normally found in convicts at Broadmoor. At least Bush had the excuse that he's a thick piece of shit. What was Tony's?

The only excuse he should offer is that he thought he was right but he was wrong, but that would take strength of character, the type that could say to the US. No. You're on your own this time.

12/14/2009 08:51:00 PM  
Blogger Mr Kitty said...

... and as CC has given the green light to literary references:

Yeats - "The Second Coming":

'The best lack all conviction, while the worst are full of passionate intensity.'

12/14/2009 09:12:00 PM  
Blogger Tim Wilkinson said...

FB - So how did your spiritual faith conflict with some of the things you had to do when you were in power as Prime Minister?

TB - I think that there's two aspects to this. The business of politics can often be difficult, I mean "murky"'s probably the wrong way, because in any walk of life you've got your office politics and so on.The thing about politics is it's all played out on the front pages and so on. So there is that business of politics and you know it's quite hard when you're in that business to relate it directly to your spiritual faith. But I think the thing that faith brought me in politics, apart from a basic set of beliefs about the world, was simply that when life gets very difficult and especially when you're called upon to make very difficult decisions, and the point about being in power is that whenever you take a decision you will alienate somebody or you will anger somebody, and so you have to get used to that rhythm of decision making. And where faith I found was helpful to me was it would give me the strength to say that first don't ever forget it's a great privilege to do it, don't sit there and whinge and complain about how unpleasant everyone is to you, and second, actually, you should do what you think is right in the end. So: do it; it's a judgement that you're not capable of making at that instant whether and how people with see it and perceive it, but just do what you think is right, and that strength underpinning is what faith gives you. What it doesn't do is tell whether this decision is the right one or wrong one - and you know I would always be hesitant if you know if religion started; if you stared to imply that religious faith drove you to a particular conclusion. I would say probably the only policy thing - in which my religious faith played a very direct part - was in the aid and developmet, third world debt and all of that, and when the jubilee campaign of churches was there I got a lot of solidarity and strength out of that.

I read that as closer to redpesto's 'I know best, God can back me up' than to Mr K's slightly more humble 'God told me to do it'.

Of course what he says can;t be trusted, but it aactually for once has a ring of truth to it I think. Whatever it is it's fairly unpleasant, and I don't know what the catholic church must make of his flagrant show of unrepentance.

12/14/2009 10:08:00 PM  
OpenID splinteredsunrise said...

I don't think Pope Benny should ever have allowed him in. Even disregarding his having led the most anti-Catholic government in 150 years, recognising your sins and repenting them is fairly basic.

Geoffrey Wheatcroft posed the question of whether Blair was beyond good and evil, in the Nietzschean sense. He doesn't quite make the ubermensch grade, but I always get the sense that Blair's concept of God is a little voice in his head saying "Tony, whatever you want to do is fine with me." Actually it's antinomianism, the belief that to the pure of heart all things are pure, and all their deeds are righteous. The Church Fathers used to inveigh against that sort of thing on a regular basis.

12/14/2009 10:18:00 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

Is Tony Blair developing his own private hasbara?

johnf

12/14/2009 10:18:00 PM  
Blogger Mr Kitty said...

My "God told me to do it" was portraying him as a psychotic rather than anything else.
But, nevertheless, either way he resembles Al Pacino at the end of The Godfather - the christening scene. Seeking absolution in the cloud of violence.

12/14/2009 10:30:00 PM  
Blogger Mr Kitty said...

if you started to imply that religious faith drove you to a particular conclusion. I would say probably the only policy thing - in which my religious faith played a very direct part - was in the aid and development, third world debt and all of that, and when the jubilee campaign of churches was there I got a lot of solidarity and strength out of that.


I love this by the way. A good lawyer knows all the old sidestepping manoeuvres.

So. He wasn't driven by the force of his religion (which he knows is Bush territory) to his decision on going to war, but only on the goodness of his philanthropic decisions.

12/14/2009 10:43:00 PM  
Blogger Tim Wilkinson said...

I think he's probably psychopathic (and beyond good and evil in that sense - not that I think there is any other sense that refers to anything actual). He's probably self-deluding to a degree that I expect could be diagnosed as neurotic (David Owen done an article and book on related topic) but not psychotic - he's too well-functioning for that.

12/14/2009 10:46:00 PM  
Blogger Mr Kitty said...

To be honest, I have massive problems with psychopathology - and that's not something for this blog.

But as I've said before, Vonnegut's description of TB as a personable psychopath - without drifting into a problematic diagnosis - hits the nail on the fucking head.

12/14/2009 11:01:00 PM  
Blogger Tim Wilkinson said...

Mr K - yes - he's clearly (for how not) working to a well-planned script, trying to thread his way through between . Here's a reprise of the same stuff:

FB: Well one of the biggest decisions you had to take while in office was of course to go to war, and you have brought the country to more wars than since world war two [sic] - Kosovo, Sierra Leone, Afghanistan, Iraq. And being Christian obviously you would believe that 'thou shalt not kill', and yet wars inevitably kill people.

TB: When it comes to a decision like that, I think it is important that you take that decision on the basis of what you think is right, because that is the only way to do it, and although I think people sometime think my faith played a direct part in some of these decisions, it really didn't. It gives you the strength if you've come to a decision to hold to that decision, but that's if you like in terms of how it supports your character in a situation of difficulty. But the trouble is, it is the loneliness of the decision maker in the sense that ultimately most really hard decisions involve a downside and an upside either way. And that's the problem, and its-

FB: Was it the weapons of mass destruction
...we know the rest of this bit.

And later:

FB: Who's you best friend, who could you phone and discuss...?

TB: there isn't one in those situations, I'm afraid. I mean there just isn't one so that's the way it is.

FB: And you prayed..

TB: I mean - prayer is a part of my life, so... Did I go and pray specifically on this in the way you know is is - no. That's not, I don't think that's - I actually genuinely believe, with a decision like this you've got to take it - you've got to work out what you think is right, irre- leave all that to one side, and as I say what your faith does is it sustains you throuhg what is then a very difficult time as you try to implement what you think is right. What your faith can't do I'm afraid is tell you what's the right thing. And so the people who are of faith who would regard it as utterly incomprehensible that I should take that decision and now, in the end their judgement is different relly on the issue. And you could also get people of who have no faith at all who would think it was utterly wrong. On the other hand, you could lkewise get them on the other side of the argument so you can't take a decision like that on that basis. And you also understand I think with these types of decisions that the judgement about them is a very long run thing. I mean it all depends what view you take, I mean I happen to think that there is a major major [sic] struggle going on all over the world really which is about Islam and what is happening within Islam. And I think it's got a long way to go. So I think it's probably only significantly later that you will look back and work out in a context - was this helpful to achieving change, or was it not helpful? And that's difficult to judge right now.


Obviously avoiding the 'God told me' implications that Fern was ineptly probing for. He doesn't appear to understand the idea of church authority that he's signed up to. He's basically saying 'religion has nothing to say about any of this' - which is a big two fingers to his new spiritual home: either he's admitting that he doesn't take it seriously (which is likely), or he's denying and betraying his Faith, saviour and what have you - no red hot pokers required, just a hint of embarassment.

Though I suppose there's an additional motive - the pieces of silver might be less forthcoming if he publicly repented, and admitted that he was a miserable sinner who had flouted church doctrines of jus ad belli. It's impossible to imagine him doing anything of the kind, though, isn't it.

12/14/2009 11:04:00 PM  
Blogger Tim Wilkinson said...

Psychopaths are often personable - to enough people for their own purposes. Personally he's always made my skin crawl. And there are no doubt plenty of psychopaths in positions of power - they have quite an advantage cet. par. when it comes to realpolitik, after all.

Indeed not the place for discussion of the status of psychiatric diagnoses, interesting though the topic is.

12/14/2009 11:10:00 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

Hey, Splinty - that's you joining me in the 'Decent antinomianism' camp. Any more out there?

Chris Williams

12/14/2009 11:28:00 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

cian:

Oh money perhaps. But he's a man who's desperate for prestige and reputation. Which he's probably lost for good. Which takes a rare skill, as almost everyone gets rehabilitated eventually.

Yeah, even Nixon...but then Blair may have to wait until he's dead (and we don't get to see what happens and the pearly gates).

[redpesto]

12/14/2009 11:56:00 PM  
Blogger Mr Kitty said...

... as when he arrives, St Peter will say:

"Welcome, but we've got a bit of a problem, Satan has bombs he can launch at us that only take 3 hours to get here."

TB: "You know, I can whittle that down to 45 minutes if you want."

12/15/2009 12:07:00 AM  
Blogger Chardonnay Chap said...

On sociopaths, see We are ruled by sociopaths.

SS - What do you mean by 'the most anti-Catholic government in 150 years'? I agree that many practices favoured by Rome are frowned on by New Labour and other people infested with political correctness. Jews are allowed freedom of worship. Torture is only condoned in Arabic countries. No one is burned at the stake. And the Inquisition cannot detain whom it likes. But this is hardly persecution, surely? Oh, and priests have been stopped from their age-old practice of kiddy fiddling. Dear, dear. Talk of "kissing the Pope's ring" is met with "Fnarr, fnarr" rather than genuflection. Sad days, indeed.

12/15/2009 06:30:00 AM  
Blogger cian said...

Well I'm in the 'decent antinomianism' camp also, but I can't say I agree with the "anti-catholic" bit. One major problem I have with the Blair government is how pro-religion they were (followed by a rant about how the three nearest schools to my kids are all church schools, including the Catholic indoctrination centre, sorry, school). You don't have to be Hitchens, or Dawkins, to resent having religion rammed down your throat.

12/15/2009 09:49:00 AM  
Blogger cian said...

Incidentally I have a massive problem with both the definitions psychopath and sociopath as I think they are unscientific and lack rigour. There's also a tendency when using these terms to use them in a Manichean sense, which I think is unhelpful. Blair's moral qualities are probably well within the standard deviation. Human morality is a lot weaker and more situational and ad-hoc than we like to admit to ourselves. The problem with power is not that it corrupts, but rather that it puts human beings in a situation where they are likely to do evil.

You can be more rigorous and define a psychopath as a particular kind of brain damage, but I think its unlikely that this would apply to Blair.

12/15/2009 09:55:00 AM  
Blogger Tim Wilkinson said...

Yes to decent antinomialism. But I'm not going to be recruited for this highly suspect sounding 'camp'.

cian - I think the 'anti-catholic' remark might have been intended to refer to embryology, abortion, contraception, assisted suicide (and incidentally while I'm not ideologically opposed to suicide, the expedient of using the CPS to legislate on it is highly irregular, to say the least. Yet another flagrant violation of old fashioned tie-wearing, surname-using ideas like the separation of powers, rule of law etc.)

On psychopathy - no more unrigorous than any other psychological concept - and not to be essentialised either in terms of neurology or some trancendent / Manichaean concept of evil.

Obviously there is complex causal interplay between behaviour, personal history, opportunities, habits and dispositions, but I think when a failure of empathy is radical enough to amount to something like functional solipsism, it's fair enough to call it psychopathy.

I think the 'fundamental attribution error' experiments were highly suspect and actually feed into the same false caused/free dichotomy that allows the Mail etc to rail against a reasoned approach to crime (on a tangent, 'tough on crime, tough on the causes' was a Brown coinage that Blair nicked, IIRC).

No doubt psychopathy is not some immutable defect or an organic disorder, and while there is a sliding scale, that doesn't mean there aren't some who are clearly in the red zone.

The false dichotomy reminds me a bit of the Chomsky objection to (prima facie reasonable) conspiracy theories, i.e. it's all systemic, not based on agency. Apart from the lingering a priori Marxisticism, it just seems to ignore what is an obvious fact - that, say, the ruling class actually make plans and carry them out as part of their ruling classness...OK enough rambling, soz.

(Except to say I agree on the pro-religion complaint, but off the top of my head, I'd say its impact on policy is mainly as just another facet of the negligent outsourcing of responsibility and to the private and 'third' sectors, with a touch of social control agenda thrown in.)

word verification: solax

12/15/2009 11:59:00 AM  
Blogger cian said...

No, its a lot more unrigorous than psychological concepts that you'll get from cognitive psychology, or neuropsychology. It dates back to the Woo era of psychology (that is Freud, rather than William James who were a proper scientist), its unrigorous, deeply unreliable, unscientific, vague, lacks supporting empirical data and the theories explaining it are deeply suspect. Personal peeve I guess, but the non-scientific end of psychology really pisses me off, particularly since it seems to have the respect denied woo medicine. Never get me started on the "talking cure" as I get very boring, very fast...

I think when a failure of empathy is radical enough to amount to something like functional solipsism, it's fair enough to call it psychopathy.

From all the accounts I've read of the man he's very empathic at a personal level. If you're accusing him of lacking empathy for people he's not met - well that's the human condition I'm afraid. There's a lot of very good experimental data showing that the less personal contact we have with a particular group, the less empathic we tend to be (yes there are exceptions, but they're precisely that, exceptional).

There are very particular disorders to do with empathy and control of violence. They are connected to two very particular types of brain damage (one seems to be caused by fairly extreme mistreatment in early childhood, the other by frontal lobe trauma). But there's not really a sliding scale, any more than there's a sliding scale of cancer and they're fairly rare (though far more common among violent criminals).

12/15/2009 12:59:00 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

I read a good post by Peter Hitchens about Blair touring the happy nation of Azerbaijan and getting £90.000 to make speeches about democracy and western values.

With brilliant timing Oli Kamm was on Radio 5 where he erupted in a volcano of oleaginous slime, he tactfully informed ignorant callers with his usual wit and charisma, about how misinformed they are on the facts and about doubting Tony and his convictions in bringing democracy and liberating Iraq from that nasty old man that we never supported.

I would advise Logos and Blairsupporter to read it.

12/15/2009 03:12:00 PM  
Blogger Mr Kitty said...

If you're accusing him of lacking empathy for people he's not met - well that's the human condition I'm afraid.

That is amazingly cynical and incorrect, in his case, I believe. Of course distance decreases empathy, that's why he was elected PM, because he is supposed to know these failings, and why Ian Huntley wasn't elected.

I have a huge interest in discussions of the pathological and non-pathological in psychiatry and psychology.

But, my original point was that "personable psychopath" was a neat choice of words for someone who came across as well meaning but lied with every breath he could muster, just so he could bathe in the presence of Bush and sentence people to death in a war he knew was unjust.

It wasn't a diagnosis - more of a slur.

12/15/2009 04:05:00 PM  
Blogger Tim Wilkinson said...

From all the accounts I've read of the man he's very empathic at a personal level

1. So 'empathic' is OK to use?

2. Touchy feely, smiley, charismatic - the old 'makes you think you are the most important person' - type stuff. Not the same as capable of actual empathy, and indeed the forte of plausible shits.

3. I regard it as (if nothing else) a folk-psychological concept. A deep unconcern with others, to the extent of regarding them in the same way that many people regard animals. Is it OK to talk of selfishness? Self-absorption? Maybe there was some hyperbole - I'll consider it, but I don't really think so. Deep waters anyway...

4. Mr K I'll have a look at the link, though I'm not sure matters like organic/inorganic, natural/nominal essence etc are relevant to the substantive issue?

Cian - have you got any (freely available) reading? Maybe I have got the wrong end of a few sticks (highly unlikely though, this is good old me we're talking about here, not one of those meat puppets that respond so well to my facial contortions and mouth-sounds.)

5. Apologies for using the term 'sliding scale', which is something quite specific I think though I've never actually found out what. Suggesting there is any scale or spectrum may be wrong anyway - not because I'm talking about anything like a diagnosable condition, but because I'm talking about a failure to be (or see the point of being) concerned about anyone else, which arguably isn't the kind of thing that comes in degrees.

6. very particular disorders to do with empathy and control of violence...they're fairly rare (though far more common among violent criminals). Diagnoses are fairly rare, that is. And psychopathy not agreed to stem only from those sources is it? Nor necessarily associated with violence, still less uncontrolled violence? I'm interested in this stuff and want to find out more...

12/15/2009 06:21:00 PM  
Blogger Mr Kitty said...

I'll have a look at the link, though I'm not sure matters like organic/inorganic, natural/nominal essence etc are relevant to the substantive issue?

They're not, that's my point.

I'm distinguishing between the problematic lexicon of psychopathology - which I have a real interest in - and calling Blair a "personable psychopath" which was what a novelist who I admire called him.

The psychopath part was not to be taken completely literally. But the phrase sums him up quite well in his actions, if one can appreciate a bit of name calling.

I wouldn't describe him as that in a court of law or if I were a psychiatrist.

Having said all that - he seems genuinely remorseless for the consequences of his actions.

12/15/2009 06:41:00 PM  
Blogger cian said...

Mr Kitty I'm a little lost as to what you're arguing with me about, as you seem to simultaneously agree and disagree with me. I mean while I wouldn't necessarily agree with your paper (judging by the abstract), we seem to at least agree that medical definitions of mental pathology are problematic. If you're saying that you're only using the term as an insult. Well okay, but I think using medical terms as insults is confusing and unnecessary. And you're also partially making Logos' point for him.

There's quite a bit of work that various people have done in recent years on how people make moral decisions, and while there's a fair bit of controversy, it seems fairly clear that they react very differently (and far more callously) to abstractions. I don't think that absolves Blair, its merely that I don't think there's anything terribly unusual about his mental makeup in that regard. There's no sign that he's particularly "psychotic" in his dealings with friends, or family. In fact he seems fairly loyal, and seems to be a pretty decent parent.

But, my original point was that "personable psychopath" was a neat choice of words for someone who came across as well meaning but lied with every breath he could muster, just so he could bathe in the presence of Bush and sentence people to death in a war he knew was unjust.
There are a lot of assumptions about motive and desire in this extract. And you don't know that Blair did lie. He may simply have convinced himself of the truth of his statements, or convinced himself that the outcome justified the means (sometimes they do). Again this is not to absolve him, merely to make the point that there's a lot that we don't know and can never know about why he did what he did.

12/15/2009 08:03:00 PM  
Blogger cian said...

Tim:
I'm using empathic in the formal sense. At one end of a scale you will have somebody who is autistic (mind blindness), and at the other somebody who can "read minds" and emotions. Good conmen tend to be at that end of the scale, as are some deeply caring and effective people. Doesn't make you a good person, or a bad one, any more than running a 9.0 second mile does. It seems to be innate, and there is a fair bit of work which seems to show how its structured in the brain, quite strongly heritable and operates at quite a low level (through things like "mirroring", though that example is quite controversial). I don't have any examples to hand (my database is on another machine at the moment), and I suspect any links I could find would be behind a publisher's firewall unfortunately.



very particular disorders to do with empathy and control of violence...they're fairly rare (though far more common among violent criminals). Diagnoses are fairly rare, that is. And psychopathy not agreed to stem only from those sources is it? Nor necessarily associated with violence, still less uncontrolled violence? I'm interested in this stuff and want to find out more...

Well psychopathy doesn't really have any good, reliable, diagnoses. Its more a touchy feely kind of thing... There's the pretence of knowledge and understanding of a "disorder", when in fact there isn't any (though couch it in fancy jargon, and plausible explanations, and you certainly can give the illusion of that). Damage to the frontal lobe is, well, there. And the results are broadly similar. Brain damage is a terrifying thing, it changes who you are, your moral sense and how you act/behave.

I'd also question the way in which pathologies are (and it happens outside psychology, though its far commoner in it) are defined as a deviation from some alleged norm (poorly defined, and based more on folk-theories of normality). Cancer is definitely a pathology, as is autism (I've worked with autistics, so while I have some sympathy for the neuro-diversity movement, I don't agree with them) and various types of brain damage. Whereas defining somebody as not "moral" enough is a subjective societal judgement, not a medical one.

12/15/2009 08:17:00 PM  
Blogger cian said...

Tim:
I'm using empathic in the formal sense. At one end of a scale you will have somebody who is autistic (mind blindness), and at the other somebody who can "read minds" and emotions. Good conmen tend to be at that end of the scale, as are some deeply caring and effective people. Doesn't make you a good person, or a bad one, any more than running a 9.0 second mile does. It seems to be innate, and there is a fair bit of work which seems to show how its structured in the brain, quite strongly heritable and operates at quite a low level (through things like "mirroring", though that example is quite controversial). I don't have any examples to hand (my database is on another machine at the moment), and I suspect any links I could find would be behind a publisher's firewall unfortunately.



very particular disorders to do with empathy and control of violence...they're fairly rare (though far more common among violent criminals). Diagnoses are fairly rare, that is. And psychopathy not agreed to stem only from those sources is it? Nor necessarily associated with violence, still less uncontrolled violence? I'm interested in this stuff and want to find out more...

Well psychopathy doesn't really have any good, reliable, diagnoses. Its more a touchy feely kind of thing... There's the pretence of knowledge and understanding of a "disorder", when in fact there isn't any (though couch it in fancy jargon, and plausible explanations, and you certainly can give the illusion of that). Damage to the frontal lobe is, well, there. And the results are broadly similar. Brain damage is a terrifying thing, it changes who you are, your moral sense and how you act/behave.

I'd also question the way in which pathologies are (and it happens outside psychology, though its far commoner in it) are defined as a deviation from some alleged norm (poorly defined, and based more on folk-theories of normality). Cancer is definitely a pathology, as is autism (I've worked with autistics, so while I have some sympathy for the neuro-diversity movement, I don't agree with them) and various types of brain damage. Whereas defining somebody as not "moral" enough is a subjective societal judgement, not a medical one.

12/15/2009 08:17:00 PM  
Blogger Mr Kitty said...

I wasn't aware I was particularly disagreeing with you, if you check my comments. You were having a more involved debate with Tim.

The only thing I questioned you on was your quote "If you're accusing him of lacking empathy for people he's not met - well that's the human condition I'm afraid."

Which I thought was probably a bit throwaway but deserved picking up on.

Of course we agree on the issues of mental health but I haven't actually disputed anything you've said really.

If you find the phrase "personable psychopath" distasteful to describe him then I'm sorry. But surely given your other comments that I have seen at AWatch you get my drift.

If you were offended (and I find these terms psychopath, psychotic deeply worrying but not when used among the like-minded as literary descriptions. Just more pleasing on the ear than tosser etc etc) then I apologise.

But having said all that I'm concerned with this statement you make

And you don't know that Blair did lie. He may simply have convinced himself of the truth of his statements, or convinced himself that the outcome justified the means (sometimes they do). Again this is not to absolve him, merely to make the point that there's a lot that we don't know and can never know about why he did what he did.

But that's "mere anarchy unloosed amongst the world" isn't it? To quote Yeats twice in this thread! God help me!

12/15/2009 08:30:00 PM  
Blogger cian said...

Oh okay, confusion explained. I find the idea that human beings lack empathy (informal use. Christ I'm not better am I) for people they don't know troubling, but there seems to be a lot of evidence to support this. I don't think it absolves Blair, just that in that particular sense he's probably pretty typical of human beings. On the other hand his apparent god complex... well yeah, that's quite unusual. He's also very charismatic, which is a dangerous gift to have.

I'm probably being a bit pedantic about the use of the word psychopath (and that's got a lot to do with my irriation with the psychiatric profession), but I think there is a danger in using in so much that some people will think you mean it in the medical sense. That's all. And I think there's always a danger in psychoanalysing people you've not met :)

All I'm really saying in the final section is that without knowing Blair personally, its impossible to know what his motivations were (and even then, maybe). I can think of a range of different explanations, none of which are flattering, but its hard to know which one. Not that it matters - outcome and action, not motive, is what you should be punished for.

12/15/2009 09:07:00 PM  
Blogger Mr Kitty said...

@Cian

Shake hands; we're agreed.

I've been heavily into critical psychiatry since I was a teenager. Which of course I blame my parents for.

Mmm... can't help but think I've made a mistake in that sentence...

12/15/2009 09:18:00 PM  
OpenID splinteredsunrise said...

I was being a little hyperbolic on the anti-Catholicism bit. Specifically I was thinking of his government pushing through various measures on things like abortion and embryology from which the RCC dissents (although I don't), plus the decision in re the Sexual Orientation Regulations to force the Catholic adoption agencies to either renounce their entire ethos or close. What was more striking was that some of the more progressive members of New Labour decided to go in for a bit of the old No Popery rhetoric, of the sort you would associate more with Ulster Unionism than British Labour. As Cruddas says, Catholic Labourites don't expect to get their way but they do expect to get a respectful hearing.

Following which, Blair decides he wants to actually join the RCC, which is supposed to set a higher standard for converts. (Mrs B, as a cradle Catholic, is counted as a sinning Catholic but is still a Catholic. Mr B, in order to convert, would have to assent to Catholic doctrine.) What I don't understand is why a progressive metrosexual would want to join a reactionary church. Wouldn't he be more at home with the Methodists or Unitarians?

Then again, it's beyond me to explain the phenomenology of the Blair mind. But antinomian he surely is.

12/15/2009 09:43:00 PM  
Anonymous Phil said...

What I don't understand is why a progressive metrosexual would want to join a reactionary church.

In order to reform it, of course! Lovely little outfit you've got here, Your Holiness, but don't you think it could do with being a bit more, what's the word, modern? ( I'm not making it up - he's actually said that this is how he sees the RCC.)

12/15/2009 10:16:00 PM  
Blogger Mr Kitty said...

What I don't understand is why a progressive metrosexual would want to join a reactionary church.

Catholicism offers the most satisfying confessional absolution there is. It's glamorised in ritualistic romance.

Plus, generally, it would appeal to his faith in the pleasure of secrecy and power.

12/15/2009 11:02:00 PM  
Anonymous Dave Weeden said...

...plus the decision in re the Sexual Orientation Regulations to force the Catholic adoption agencies to either renounce their entire ethos or close. What was more striking was that some of the more progressive members of New Labour decided to go in for a bit of the old No Popery rhetoric, of the sort you would associate more with Ulster Unionism than British Labour. As Cruddas says, Catholic Labourites don't expect to get their way but they do expect to get a respectful hearing.

Er, "their entire ethos" here, as I understand it was homophobia/bigotry/prejudice. And it wasn't their entire ethos, really, just a bigoted (sorry to repeat myself) part of it.

And why should the religious get "a respectful hearing"? If they were in charge, or to put it another way, when they have been in charge, does anyone else get a respectful hearing? Oh, aren't we prejudiced now that Catholics can't tell Jews that they murdered Jesus Christ Our Lord and Saviour, and they can't bang people up for saying that the sun doesn't go round the earth, so you can stick the Bible up your arse. And priests who, as we all know, like the odd potation now and then, can't avail themselves of strong drink in public houses lest their blushing gazes be met with -- horror of horrors! -- condom machines should they need to relieve themselves. O tempora O mores as our lord and saviour would have said, had he the Latin, which he didn't, being of the Christ killing persuasion, don't you know.

And what is wrong with a woman's right to choose? Who knows women's bodies better - the woman herself, or some kiddy fiddler who's consecrated himself to god knows what? As for embryology, being science, see Galileo passim. The Church had its chance at ruling the world. It's still got Italy and Romania. The rest of us will take secularism.

You get a respectful hearing based on arguments. If you mention your sky fairy, you lose the respect and the hearing. That goes for bin Laden and the clit chopping lot too.

12/15/2009 11:06:00 PM  
Anonymous Phil said...

Catholicism offers the most satisfying confessional absolution there is.

I've never made confession myself, but I don't think the form of words is "you may forgive me, Father, for I haven't sinned".

12/15/2009 11:28:00 PM  
Blogger Mr Kitty said...

@ Phil. Indeed, don't misunderstand me. I mean that the one-on-one confession has become a weapon of choice

But, I was brought up a catholic so the confession was extraordinary now and still holds power of the imagination.

I was talking of the aesthetics of religion - and its perception as saving grace. But I've always felt that the more convoluted the ritual and romance, the more satisfying the confession; absolution.

My general point is that TB either went running to the church in an act of real terror at what had happened or ran to the nearest cleanser that made sense.

If he had declared he'd been having counselling after his decision making that lead to so many deaths, then that would look like he had admitted defeat on his principles.

Confession for him (or conversion to catholicism - whatever) is either the sign of a troubled man or a steadfast ego that's lost any perspective.

12/16/2009 12:02:00 AM  
Anonymous saucy jack said...

"What was more striking was that some of the more progressive members of New Labour decided to go in for a bit of the old No Popery rhetoric, of the sort you would associate more with Ulster Unionism than British Labour"
Well not just them. Indeed the No Popery rhetoric of CC and Dave would probably be considered more than a little backwoods for most modern ULster Unionists. And I would wager that even the most gnarled denizen of Cullybackey Orange Hall would probably be aware that Romania, despite its suspiciously Papist name, is an Orthodox country.

12/16/2009 05:06:00 AM  
Blogger Bruschettaboy said...

What I don't understand is why a progressive metrosexual would want to join a reactionary church

for the best reason in the world - his wife told him to.

12/16/2009 09:03:00 AM  
Blogger Tim Wilkinson said...

It certainly wasn't because of any intellectual commitment. Vaguely topically, it was Hitchens, P who reports TB's remark about speaking Portuguese in the context of a discussion involving Brazil, to meet with bafflement from TB who (PH concluded) clearly didn't see the relevance of Portuguese to Brazil.

TB mentioned in his interview he's been going to masses for 20 years IIRC.

Which may of course have been a routine ex tempore lie which the matrix mind (that John Sopel I think referred to in the Britton programme) calculated was of some convenience for his purposes and a negligable liability. Or a truth that satisfied the same criterion.

Not clear if he was hanging back in the pews during the main bit for some or all of that time, though.

12/16/2009 10:52:00 AM  
Blogger Tim Wilkinson said...

re: ignorance of Brazil and Portuguese. Correction - PH's remark to TB. Just making sure everyone is paying attention properly.

Not made clear, so: relevance beyond gratuitous Blair baiting was TBs general ignorance which I think tends to suggest a lack of interest in the subject of Stuff not Directly Useful to TB.

12/16/2009 01:15:00 PM  
Anonymous Dave Weeden said...

OK, maybe some of you think I'm a 'backwoods' (fnarr, fnarr; you said 'back' as in 'passage' and 'wood' as in 'stiffy') anti-papist. But I'm both more and less than that; I just hate religion. I've thought about religion: people I've admired have converted to Catholicism (Donne, Eliot, Lowell), and I like the cathedrals and even some of the art. But I can't believe in any of it.

A few things have really maddened me about god-botherers lately. There was the Bish who said that the Taliban at least had great faith. As did the cunts who hijacked those planes in 2001, let's not forget, and the other cunts who decided to invade Palestine in the Middle Ages and slaughter lots of people because doing so was holy and romantic and stuff. And there was some other Bish who said that New Labour didn't do religion, which just about broke my never-ending reverie of "do I vote Lib Dem or Green or Monster Raving Loony or Plaid or Tory?" and brought me back to the People's Party.

And there was the debate between Stephen Fry and Christopher Hitchens and Anne Widdecombe and some African Bish: Is the Catholic church a force for good in the world? The answer should be self-evident. Fry brought up condoms in Africa, Widdecombe's response was "I _knew_ you would bring up condoms." That was it. Didn't go into why people dying horribly from following the same impulses that just about everyone has (barring the possible 1% who may be asexual) is god's will etc. Godwin's Law forgive me, but that's like Eichmann saying "I _knew_ you'd mention those six million" at his trial. I don't know anyone who died of the AIDS virus (though I have known people who have known people), but I had a very good cat who was FIV+ (Feline Immunodeficiency Virus) who died from a growth/tumour on his intestine. It wasn't pretty, and it was utterly unjust. I wouldn't wish a similar death on any person, and there's a very cheap and simple prevention system. Forbidding that, and telling lies about that is evil in my book. Ditto all the misogyny and homophobia and anti-Semitism.

Not to mention the censorship. Yes I hate those people, they supported the Nazis.

I almost feel sorry for Blair. As I understand it, his old church forbade him to take Catholic communion on this island, though it was OK if he did so in Tuscany. I mean, WTF? The Catholic Church supposedly accepts the Big Bang: the universe came into existence between 13 billion and 17 billion years ago and is roughly its age in light years across and the creator _cares_ whether Blair is in the UK or fucking Italy! These people are idiots, there's no other word (apart from moron, persons of different intellectual growth, etc).

Look, let me end on a note of conciliation: Jesus said some fine things. Particularly "You're all individuals!" That was one of his best, unless it was some other guy.

12/16/2009 09:44:00 PM  
Blogger Mr Kitty said...

As did the cunts who hijacked those planes in 2001

They may have indeed been cunts, but their religious beliefs were moderate. But, unless you are suggesting they did it for purely religious reasons, they were (the ring leaders anyway) middle-class, extremely well-educated and extremely angry (rightly or wrongly) with western foreign policy around the Middle East post-war.

Atta's thesis was on the influence of western architectural thought on the changing landscape of Egypt.

Jarrah was extremely secular and studied maths and aerospace engineering in Germany.

They probably were cunts for committing mass murder but is this so simple?

Can religion be attached or subtracted from political action with a convenience?

12/17/2009 12:12:00 AM  
Anonymous Darius Jedburgh said...

They probably were cunts for committing mass murder

Sorry?

12/17/2009 03:53:00 PM  
Anonymous silent sinner said...

I seem to have been mention here and I don't fancy the way it was implied. Some of us, if you must know, prefer to use our blogger identity when signing petitions. And I don't see anything wrong in a petition calling for fairness had it been not Tony Blair I'm sure you would be up in arms in defense.

12/18/2009 05:53:00 AM  
Anonymous silent sinner said...

I seem to have been mentioned here and I don't fancy the way it was implied. Some of us, if you must know, prefer to use our blogger identity when signing petitions. And I don't see anything wrong in a petition calling for fairness. Had it been not Tony Blair I'm sure you would be up in arms in defense.

12/18/2009 05:55:00 AM  
Anonymous Dave Weeden said...

@Mr Kitty: I'm with Darius here. Is it really so simple? Yes. Were their views moderate? This may take me into the semantic abyss, but views which lead to extreme action (such as mass murder) are not 'moderate'.

Silent Sinner: tough. I can't see any reason for not using your real name in a petition. (Well I can see reasons: you can sign twice, for example.) And is Blair really being treated unfairly? I think not.

12/19/2009 09:57:00 PM  

Post a Comment

<< Home