9 Months, 23 Days, Still sober
Things have been pretty quiet on the Mobi home front. Noo’s son is still with us although he did spend a couple of days with his aunt in Samut Songkran.
I was a bit naughty on just a single occasion, when I took Bob out for a tour of some of my favourite dens of ill repute, but apart from that, life has been pretty routine and I have spent much of my time at home with my family and dogs.
Pattaya has mercifully been spared the terrible floods that are devastating Thailand, but it has been no fun to follow the ever changing fortunes of the provinces and districts, including parts of Bangkok, as one by one, they succumb to rising waters.
My heart goes out to one and all who have been adversely affected.
The death of a tyrannical murderer.
The manner of Col. Gadhafi’s death has sparked much world-wide controversy.
I spent a year in Libya back in the mid- seventies, and although I did not personally witness any overt crimes against the people, it was clear, even in my relatively rarefied existence as an expat working for an oil company, that Libya was an authoritarian police state that brooked no dissent. The population lived in constant fear of a knock on the door and of doing or saying something that might be disapproved of by Gadhafi’s all encompassing, totalitarian regime.
Through the years we have all become aware of Gadhafi’s penchant to sponsor terrorism in many parts of the world, including the IRA, and even as far away as the Muslim separatists in the Philippines. Then , there was the Yvonne Fletcher murder in London, the bombing of a night club in Berlin and the Pan Am disaster over Lockerbie, amongst many other atrocities attributed to the manic colonel.
I could go on and on, but frankly, to this writer, who has always taken an interest in Libya, given that I once spent a year there, I remained in relative ignorance on just how much a monster Gadhafi was to his own people. It took the Arab spring and the popular uprising in Benghazi for the world to learn the true extent of this barbarous dictator’s inhumanity to his own people. Stories emerged, (which have since been borne out by facts), of mass torture and killings and rapes in prisons, where political prisoners were kept in appalling conditions, and often suffered terrible, agonising deaths.
Once civil war broke out, Gadhafi revealed his true colours to the world at large and it wasn’t long before the international criminal court announced that he was wanted for committing crimes against humanity. There is little doubt in my mind, that once the dust has settled and the history is written of this period, that Gadhafi will turn out to be one of the cruellest monsters the modern world has ever seen, on a par with Hitler, Stalin, Pol Pot and Saddam Hussein.
I have great admiration for all the Arab people who have risen up against their despotic rulers, from Tunisia, to Yemen, to Egypt and Syria. Countless Arabs have paid the price with their lives, and nowhere was this more so than in Libya.
A rag-taggle, motley collection of young men, from all walks of life, put their lives at risk to over-throw a tyrant who had controlled their lives for more than four decades. A bitter, bloody war ensued and Gadhafi vowed to seek out every citizen who dared to defy him and kill them like rats. He hired mercenaries from neighbouring countries and sent his forces out armed with Viagra and orders to rape the women in any families in rebel held areas or that in any way opposed him.
The untrained, rebel forces, with virtually no heavy ammunition to hand, raged a war against the trained, well equipped, disciplined army of Gadhafi. It was hopelessly one-sided, but with the help of NATO air power, the rebels eventually prevailed after many months of bloody carnage in which so many of Libya’s bravest young men were killed.
There is hardly a family in Libya who hasn’t suffered personal losses in this bloody conflict, in which so many people have also had their homes and possessions destroyed. Whole cities have been flattened and it will take many years to rebuild this nation.
This is the background in which the brave rebels unexpectedly come across their sworn and reviled enemy at first hand.
In similar circumstances, can we put our hands on our hearts and say that we, Brits, or we Americans would have done any different to what these desperate, frightened, ordinary civilians-turned soldiers did?
Maybe and maybe not, but frankly I doubt it. I also doubt that there is a single politician throughout the western world who isn’t secretly applauding the fact that Gadhafi was summarily killed, an act which has finally brought to an end his evil regime without the need for a long, drawn out trial and a possible rallying point for future insurrections.
But the hypocrisy of the outside world is mind boggling.
The United States has led the way in ‘calling Libya to account’ for the killing of Gadhafi, demanding that the interim government provide full details of how this terrible act came about.
They said: “Libya’s post-Gadhafi leaders must furnish a detailed explanation of how he had died”.
I have heard countless hypocrites on American television pronounce that the Libyans are uncivilised and they are criminals for committing such barbarous acts.
I ask: By what right does America have to call Libya to account for anything that takes place in their country? It is their country and their interim government has been recognised by the United Nations – it is a legitimate government.
It is the Libyan government’s business and their business alone on how they deal with one of the vilest monsters in history, and quite frankly if they had hung drawn and quartered Gadhafi and dragged him from one end of Libya to the other at the back of a pick-up truck, I doubt whether it would have bothered 99.99% of the world’s population one iota.
And just what ‘account’ are they expecting? It is obvious what happened. He was either killed in cross fire, or, more likely, one of the rebels put in the fatal shot. Does it really matter? It was bound to happen; everyone knows that the chances of getting him alive to a hospital were zero – such was the height of loathing and revenge in the hearts of the fighters who had sacrificed so much and the lack of discipline amongst them to prevent such an eventuality.
So the Libyans are uncivilised are they?
During my own life-time Americans in white hoods were still summarily stringing up and murdering blacks in the southern states of America , and it wasn’t that long ago that the entire American mid -west was controlled by men with guns and where lynch mobs ruled. By what right do the Yanks, or indeed any western power, have the right to call Libyans uncivilised? Let them look at their own recent, often violent and cruel histories before casting the first stone.
And then we have these dire predictions from almost every quarter that Libya will descend into anarchy and tribalism and that Muslim fundamentalism will take hold and the whole country is headed for disaster.
Well maybe that is true, but for what its worth, as far as this humble commentator is concerned, having lived closely with the Libyan people for a while and having listened to many of them articulate their hopes and aspirations very eloquently during the course of this uprising, I actually believe that they will make a fair fist of it, and that a functioning, fledgling democracy will emerge from this tragedy.
Let us see who is correct.
America – The classless society
Well, we all know that never was a statement more untrue.
I have written about this before in my blog and have set out the case to assert that America today is an even more a class ridden society in today’s world than the UK.
In my previous piece, I quoted from a Forbes article, entitled: ‘The American Dream – America, The New Class-Society ‘, and I reprint this interesting piece below, for the benefit of those who missed it the first time around.
“Class in America is determined predominantly by wealth. And in an information-based capitalistic economy, wealth is largely determined by educational attainment. That is taken as a difference from European societies, where inherited privilege, and particularly noble birth, is seen as predetermining a person’s starting point in society.
That view is anachronistic. The European class system has been buffeted by centuries of social turmoil–the church lost its lands, industrial revolutions muscled in on the landed aristocracy, enfranchisement became widespread. It has adapted as best it could–in the 19th century the marriage of American heiresses to impoverished British peers became a U.S. export industry–but increasingly, class in Europe is more style than substance.
Class is changing yet again, and the new incarnation of the class-society is at its most advanced in the U.S. A good education is now the most important determinate of class, and in America, access to good schools–whether private or public -is increasingly reserved for the well-to-do.
Homes located in decent school districts are often dramatically more expensive than those near mediocre schools. And the very richest now almost exclusively opt to send their offspring to private prep schools at the cost of tens of thousands of dollars a year.
As a result, since the 1980s, the wealthy have been living increasingly segregated lives from the general population to secure those advantages. And it is paying off: The proportion of upper-middle-class students at top American universities is increasing, regardless of diversity programs.
Merit (ability plus hard work) was always meant to replace the inherited privilege of the Old World as the route to the top in America. But merit in modern America is at least partly class-based.
While a few high achievers scale the summits of wealth, the rest are finding it harder to move up from one economic class to another. One study by the Federal Reserve Bank of Boston found that fewer families moved from one quintile, or fifth, of the income ladder to another during the 1980s than during the 1970s, and that still fewer moved in the ’90s than in the ’80s.
In America, the problem is amplified by widening income inequalities. The rich are simply getting richer so much faster that social mobility can’t keep up.
The much narrower income gaps in European economies are one reason that, contrary to many Americans’ beliefs, there is more social mobility in Britain and other European countries these days than in the U.S. Take Britain, the original class-society in the minds of most Americans. The popular image of Britain remains one of a nation of landed aristocracy where class is the weft and warp of society. In fact, that started to change after World War II
Six years of the shared deprivations of war were a great social leveller. Allied to that was a strong desire to break with the past that had brought the war about. Winston Churchill’s reward for being Britain’s victorious wartime prime minister was to be thrown out of office. In the first general election after the war, Britons elected Labour’s Clement Attlee and a government that would usher in the welfare state. Americans elected Harry Truman, and moved on to their next wars, both hot and cold.
The pomp and ceremony of state occasions in Britain gives the impression of the persistence of a class-ridden society. After all, any class-run society needs history and tradition to validate itself.
Even here, appearance can be deceptive. While the Queen and Royal Family stand at the apex of a system of heredity and landed titles – every noble is a duke, marquis, earl, viscount or baron of somewhere, though most lost their right to sit in the House of Lords in 1999–it is easy to overlook that England is now on its eighth royal family since William the Conqueror arrived in 1066 to sort out some family business with his Norse cousins.
Not that class has completely disappeared in England. Close your eyes and listen to an English person speak, and you hear class regardless of the person’s ethnic background. In the U.S., by contrast, you hear education, the underpinning of the new class-society.
I was reminded of the above article when I saw a small news item the other day in which Hilary Clinton was chatting informally with President Karzai of Afghanistan, the US ambassador and other high dignitaries of the region. She was asked about one of the Republican presidential candidates – Herman Cain.
“He’s a former pizza company owner,” Clinton told Karzai of Cain.
“Is he that,” Karzai replied.
“Oh yeah, he started something called Godfather pizza,” Clinton said.
“Yes, I see, I see,” Karzai said.
Clinton then turned to U.S. Ambassador to Afghanistan Ryan Crocker and mocked Cain.
“The president was saying he saw a news clip about how Mr. Cain had said, ‘I don’t even know the names of all these presidents of all these countries,’ you know, like, whatever,” she said, mimicking the candidate dismissively.
“That wasn’t right, but anyway, that’s how politics are,” Karzai said diplomatically…
Maybe we should give Madam Foreign Secretary a quick, impromptu test to see just how many Presidents’ names she can recall, without the aid of her myriad minions to feed her the information. Maybe Bill O’Reilly could invite her onto his Thursday night quiz segment.
I ask you? Just how patronising can you get?
Now I don’t know about you folks but I have never liked Princess Hilary. I have always held a soft spot for Billy, her wonderfully lecherous husband, but Hilary – well nobody deserved to be treated like she was – but let’s face it, she has always come over as a supercilious, patronising, hypocritical lying piece of shite. (That’s it, Mobi – don’t hold back).
To me, Herman Cain and Hilary Clinton epitomise the American class system – the privileged, wealthy background of Hillary Clinton, versus the low class, poor background of dear old Herman. And just look how Hilary delights in trying to ridicule someone who dragged himself up from his boot straps to become a corporate billionaire and is currently so popular that he leads the poll of would-be American presidential candidates.
Don’t get me wrong, I am not a huge fan of Cain’s politics – his 9-9-9 tax proposal sounds like it hasn’t been thought through properly and his stance on abortion is almost impossible to comprehend.
But wouldn’t it be just great if he were to become president and had the opportunity to put one in the eye to Princess Hilary? Maybe he should slap her down with a specially baked Pizza bearing the names of the entire world’s leaders….
On a lighter note: What is it with Obama’s modes of transport?
An egg-on-face moment for Obama, ahead of his visit to Virginia, when a Pentagon truck containing presidential seals, podiums and sound equipment was stolen from outside a suburban hotel Monday
Authorities found the truck later in the day at another hotel near the Richmond airport, according to the news reports. But no one would say whether the items inside had been located. No arrests were reported.
Whether the thieves knew what they were stealing – or whether they got that what-have-we-done-now feeling when they opened the unmarked box truck – is unclear as well.
The White House and police would not discuss details of the heist, such as whether the thieves hot-wired the truck or found the keys in the ignition. And the Secret Service said it’s not the agency’s problem. “Not our equipment, not our truck,” spokesman Ed Donovan said. “It’s not as though the nuclear codes are likely to be lost. And if they are lost, you change the codes.”
Don’t you just love it?☺
ON a presidential trip to Ireland last May, The US Presidential Cadillac, nicknamed “The Beast” for its bombproof features, failed to make it out of the US embassy in Dublin as it became stuck on a ramp.
Barack Obama and his wife, en route to his ancestral home in County Offaly, had to abandon the car after the collision in front of waving crowds in Dublin.
Specially built for Obama, the General Motors vehicle boasts its own oxygen supply in case of chemical attack and armour-plated doors, but was no match for an Irish ‘Sleeping Policeman’….
BUTT…BUTT…BUTT…I don’t give a hoot!