Friday, November 27, 2009

Friday forecasts!

I am looking forward to some stupendously ignorant commentary on the Dubai default this weekend ...

Thursday, November 26, 2009

Decency means never having to say "we're sorry we unquestioningly recycled some wingut talking points".

Oh dear. Once more, the Decent Left (tendence communitarian-Islamophobic) hands on some talking points to the political mainstream without carrying out its quality assurance. Entertainingly, the original source for this is Andrew Gilligan, about whose checking issues one might have thought the Decents were more aware than anyone.

Nick Cohen is meanwhile discovering the network, with a scattergun approach of seemingly condemning people for their connections to people who are connected to other people in a circular daisy-chain of awfulness, the prime offender being someone whose main crime according to Harry's Place is that he's sued the BBC for calling him an extremist and won.

This clown show repeats itself every few months and we don't even always cover it when it rolls through town. Good to see that Michael Gove has dropped another one on his own toes, though; presumably the Conservative Central Office equivalent of Malcolm Tucker will even now be firmly recommending to him that he stick to blazers and Latin, and leave the Greatest Intellectual Struggle Of Our Time to the grown-ups.

Tuesday, November 24, 2009

Aaro on denialism

Perfectly sane and sensible and the only churlish thing I can think of to say is that he describes here exactly the approach he took to civilian casualty estimates in Iraq.

Sunday, November 22, 2009

Conversations on the doorstep #342

Nick Cohen:

More seriously, a revival of the left's affair with Islamism can only help the BNP by convincing the white working class that their rulers hypocritically denounce racial conspiracy theories, misogyny and homophobia when they come from the followers of Nick Griffin, but not when they come from the friends of Yusuf al-Qaradawi.

... and the council lets them jump the housing queue, and they get planning permission when we don't, I had that Nick Cohen in the back of my cab once ....

Friday, November 20, 2009

'A minor Islamic theme'

On Martin Amis's new novel, over here. It sounds terrible.

Objectively Pro-Fascist

There's a good (and long) post on Obsidian Wings by Eric Martin: This Constitution Kills Fascists, which, in turn, links to a good (and long) article by Johann Hari Renouncing Islam.

But once they had made that leap to identify with the Umma – the global Muslim community – they got angrier the more abusive our foreign policy came. Every one of them said the Bush administration's response to 9/11 – from Guantanamo to Iraq – made jihadism seem more like an accurate description of the world. Hadiya Masieh, a tiny female former HT organiser, tells me: "You'd see Bush on the television building torture camps and bombing Muslims and you think – anything is justified to stop this. What are we meant to do, just stand still and let him cut our throats?"

But the converse was – they stressed – also true. When they saw ordinary Westerners trying to uphold human rights, their jihadism began to stutter. Almost all of them said that they doubted their Islamism when they saw a million non-Muslims march in London to oppose the Iraq War: "How could we demonise people who obviously opposed aggression against Muslims?" asks Hadiya.

So whose actions made the West safer? A big hello to Harry's Place.

Wednesday, November 18, 2009

Decency turned up to 11 ...

We've noted in the past that the Decent Left's opposition to "realism" in international relations (because cough, mumble, Douglas Hurd) often shades into a rejection of reality, but I don't think I've ever seen it quite as stark as this Times editorial.

What do the people of Zimbabwe need? If you answered "more sanctions, no electric power, a collapse of the government and Robert Mugabe solely in charge", well done.

Tuesday, November 17, 2009

Subtle, Dave

A sooliloquy on apologies, which doesn't mention the word "Kaminski" once, I wonder why.

Monday, November 16, 2009

Clothes for chaps?

In the middle of a piece about Belle de Jour revealing her real identity, this:

Among those suspected of being Belle were the journalists Toby Young and Andrew Anthony, the chick-lit author Isabel Wolff and Rowan Pelling, the former editor of the Erotic Review.

Yes, that's Harry's Place idol and occasional Nick C stand-in, Andrew Anthony. I'm not sure how anyone could have thought such a theory plausible, as Belle is quite a good writer.

Sunday, November 15, 2009

A glimpse of evil

A post from Oliver Kamm last week centred on children taken away from their families in the GDR and raised by others. Kamm writes, the if you read "the testimony of a woman whose children were literally stolen from her, you have a glimpse of the evil at the heart of the now extinct German Democratic Republic." Well no argument here. Just mild irritation at the fact that Kamm appears rather ignorant of similar practices in the UK. Oh, hang on, Gordon Brown just apologised again.

Friday, November 13, 2009

Jonathan Freedland for, as they say, the win


"... noting that Kaminski is a friend of Israel. But, as the foreign editor of the Jewish Chronicle has argued persuasively , that doesn't say much – not in an era when Nick Griffin insists he too is a supporter of Israel. Indeed, "I'm a supporter of Israel" is fast becoming the 21st-century version of "Some of my best friends are Jewish" ..."

You Think It's Been Quiet Here?

Well, it may get even quieter in the near future. Not that we've totally lost interest in watching David Aaronovitch, but part of the point, as I see it, is that one of us reads his column (when we have time/can be bothered), posts a link to it so readers can do so too, and writes a critique for you to comment on as you see fit.

But Rupert Murdoch seems to be serious about getting people to pay to read his papers. Rupert Murdoch to remove News Corp's content from Google 'in months' and paywalls can't be far behind. Surely he won't risk the dip in reader numbers (which is inevitable, isn't it?) before the 2010 UK General Election?

I've been bending the brain to this, and I know that a lot of journalists think that paying for content is reasonable. But ITV and the US pre-cable networks get by purely on advertising. Demanding payment for content means fewer readers or viewers. I can see how charging for Sky works, you get the internet, and the box and stuff, and I'm happy to pay the BBC licence fee because the Beeb doesn't advertise at me. If Murdoch can somehow tie reading his prints into a Sky contract (because surely the audiences overlap), he may have a hope. Otherwise not. I wouldn't want to be committed to reading a paper for a year in advance. Suppose the Sun does another Hillsborough type story, and a lot of people reasonably decide to boycott it? (IMO, the Gordon Brown Janes/James mistake story is on a similar level of misjudgement.) Or Clarkson (the columnist most readers would pay for) retires? He doesn't need the money, and his columns (which I confess to reading) are all pretty much the same; I suspect he's bored by now. Won't subscribers get annoyed fairly soon?

Anyway, if it does come to that, and B2 can read Aaro in the Times, but most of you can't, would there be a point in watching? Don't even think of suggesting we follow Nick Cohen, Harry's Place, or Melanie Phillips instead.

Tuesday, November 10, 2009

Out and about with Denis MacShane

Earlybird Aaro update

Thoughts on the Berlin wall, or possibly Cuba - it's a hell of a mess, this one. We must let Ukraine into NATO because cough, mumble, Douglas Hurd.

I think another version of the sofa rule can be coined, by the way; whenever a Decent columnist starts to mention Douglas Hurd, he's likely to be bullshitting pretty hard. Talking about Douglas Hurd is meant to be a refutation of realism in international relations, but nobody knows why.

More to come ...

(conoisseurs will note that Aaro is likely to pick up a lecture from Oliver Kamm for the following:

According to Sir Christopher, what turned the 1919 Treaty of Versailles into a Second World War-creating catastrophe, was the idealism of the League of Nations, not the absurdly short-term, self-interested nature of the Allied war reparations and the territorial demands made on the defeated powers.

OK, recall, believes that the problem with the Treaty of Versailles was that it wasn't draconian enough, didn't humiliate the Germans enough and in general was too timid in pushing a bumptious and imperial Anglosphere agenda on Europe. Strangely, Oliver not only believes this to be the case, but believes it to be the consensus view, and so widely shared that only fools, incompetents and cranks think any different. (a reasonable summary which gives fair airtime to both the Niall Ferguson view and the more orthodox one is here)

Wednesday, November 04, 2009

A night at the theatre

And so, our man Aaro comes down on the side of Kamm[1] and MacShane rather than Pollard, over the question of Michael Kaminski, is he a bastard or not. I confess to neither having done nor planning to do the research to work out who's right (as far as I can tell, he's not very good on second world war atrocities, but in favour of bombing Gaza, hence the cognitive dissonance), but here you go.

Notable for me in that one way of summarising the difference between Aaro and your average Decent (by which I mean Nick Cohen) is that Aaro goes to see a play and writes about how he was influenced by the play, and Nick goes to see a play and fulminates about how the play should have been influenced by him. Etc etc.

And apparently if David Cameron went to see a play about Poland, he'd realise … something about the European Parliament and John Redwood, apparently. Strikes me there's a bit of faux-naivete here - Aaro knows that the Tory Party is massively divided on Europe and knows that Cameron's plan is to paper over the cracks in the belief that British voters don't really care about the European Parliament (proof: they don't vote for it). So why's he pretending that there's some dilemma or issue here?

It does strike me that a cruel man might summarise this piece as Dave warning Dave that Nazism is all too often the first step on the road to Euroscepticism.

"For if once a man indulges himself in murder, very soon he comes to think little of robbing; and from robbing he comes next to drinking and Sabbath-breaking, and from that to incivility and procrastination. Once begin upon this downward path, you never know where you are to stop. Many a man has dated his ruin from some murder or other that perhaps he thought little of at the time" - De Quincey.

Update Unorphaning footnote [1], I note that Oliver K is still trying to pretend that Martin Bell's candidacy in the 1997 Tatton election was more independent than it was. The Spiked! reviewer is correct to say that "In doing so, [Bell] helped, along with his friends in the liberal media, to reframe politics in terms of sleaze, elevating the non-political issue of personal conduct over politics proper". While it's impossible to read Bell's mind as to his own particular motivations, he consulted with Alastair Campbell and William LeBreton before deciding to stand (and probably would not have done so if those two functionaries hadn't been able to deliver their local parties), and was provided with significant help by Labour Party worker Alan Olive. And the reason why this help was provided was that Labour and the LibDems wanted to keep the "sleaze" issue high profile during the 1997 election campaign. Oliver was of course quite famously involved in his uncle's campaign, which is why he tries to pretend that it wasn't a stunt, or that it wasn't a piece of Labour Party press strategy. But it was; in many ways a laudable one because it got rid of Neil Hamilton, but I have always found OK's attempts to rewrite the record on this one a bit irksome.

(Spiked! is also something of a thorn in the flesh of the Decent campaign against Mr Justice Eady, as its existence might prick a few consciences - spiked! was formed by the staff of Living Marxism, a quite odious RCP publication which was deservedly sued into bankruptcy by Ed Vulliamy, over issues relating to Bosnia. Few Decents of the tendence Nick Cohen like to be reminded of this entirely sensible use of the libel laws to silence etc etc).

Monday, November 02, 2009

Quiet around here ...

Sorry for the prolonged silence readers. This is due to a number of factors, chief among them busyness, but also the marked decline and fall of Decency in the Obama era - it is much more difficult to prioritise the starting of big arguments with the Decent Left when one doesn't think that they're remotely capable of pushing the world any closer to war.

This isn't to say that Watching Aaro is wholly without point and I hope to have a few bits and pieces up over the next week in a more philosophical Aarological vein. But in general, expect posting to be significantly lighter in the immediate future.

By way of light relief, check this out. What is it with Ed Husain, and well-intentioned political adventures that always seem to end up with him suddenly realising that all of his new mates are a bunch of wild-eyed ideologues? Is he collecting material for a sequel to The Islamist? Either way, there's a sort of Zelig-like situation comedy in this.