Putin, Russia and the West


 

Mobi-Babble

I have to admit I have feeling a bit ‘down’ of late, what with my on-going medical problems, and even my car issues – both of which seem to go on indefinitely with no solution in sight.

I have to wait 4 weeks before I have my echocardiogram and in the meantime all I can do is sort my affairs, update my will and make sure that in the event  I don’t make it, that I don’t leave an unholy legal mess in my wake for my friends and family to sort out.

I know this sounds a bit extreme, but I have to be realistic. My heart valve is damaged and as time goes on it will get worse and it will also put a lot of strain on the rest of my heart, making me more vulnerable to heart attacks. So it is only sensible that I put my affairs in order as best as I can – just in case.

As for the BMW – well it went back to Bangkok on Tuesday but didn’t go into the shop until Friday to check out the door lock sensor problem. So I don’t know how much it will cost and how long it will take. With my luck, it will probably cost a small fortune and will take several weeks while they order the parts from Germany….

 

Putin, Russia and the West

For anyone with the slightest interest in East – West relations during the past ten years or so, I urge them to beg, borrow or steal a copy of this outstanding, 4 part, 6 hour documentary that was recently aired on BBC.

It should also be required watching for anyone to studying  Russian affairs or indeed contemporary  world history, but even to the casual observer, who just wishes to be entertained, then I promise they will find it absolutely riveting.

It is the ‘reality show’ to out -do all reality shows, as it contains incredible footage of many of the major events that divided and also occasionally united East and West since the turn of the millennium and of many startlingly frank accounts by the people who shaped those events.

 

All the key ‘combatants’ are there: including the likes of Colin Powel, Condoleeza Rice and Robert Gates from the west; Russia’s PM/President Dmitry Medvedev, FM’s Sergey Lavrov and Igor Ivanov, Finance Minister Alexei Kudrin, Georgia’s President Mikhail Saakashvili, and many, many others, including ambassadors, security advisers, nuclear negotiators plus some incredible footage of meetings and excerpts of interviews by the very top players – Putin, Bush and Obama.

It was an eye opener to me in many ways, not least because although I was vaguely aware of these events that have been unfolding during the past decade, the documentary brought them into sharp focus.  I now understood the critical nature of much that was going on in Russia and how intense were the relations between the White-house and the Kremlin.

I had been aware in a general sense, that American’s somewhat tactless and insensitive policies under Bush had fostered much resentment in Russia and  that Putin felt this more than most and was determined to change things when he assumed power. But this programme dotted the ‘i’s and crossed the ‘t’s on precisely what it was that America had done to generate such ill feeling.

 

There is little doubt that following the end of the cold war and the collapse of the Soviet Union, that America emerged as the world’s sole super power and thought they could flex their muscles wherever it suited them and get their own way. They seemed to be blissfully unaware of  how much resentment and ill feeling this was endangering throughout the world – not least in the Russian Federation, which was trying to come to terms to a post-soviet era and a fledgling democracy.

It comes across again and again- from Putin on down, how irked they were by America’s attitude in negotiations on almost any subject. If Russia had a problem with some aspect of American policy, the Yanks would always refuse to talk– effectively insisting: ‘That’s the way it is! Accept our view or go take a running jump!’

For the early part of the new century, Russia’s economic power was in a shambles and America took advantage of their perceived superiority as the world’s richest power by encouraging Georgia and Ukraine – both countries on Russia’s doorstep – to ally themselves with the west and even surreptitiously helped to finance the establishment of pro-western democracies. (In much the same way as I suspect they are doing in countries like Egypt today).

 

I wonder how we would feel if the Russia tried to persuade the Republic of Ireland to leave the EU and join some new, Russian defence and trade body? And let’s face it, the Americans haven’t exactly been over the moon about Cuba’s long ties with Russia. Even to this day it is a crime to smoke a Cuban cigar…

It makes you shiver when you learn how close Russia and The USA came to an all-out war over Russia’s invasion of Georgia.

(Incidentally, I wonder how many of my readers are aware of the crucial role French President Sarkosy played in helping to bring about the cease fire between Russia and Georgia? I certainly didn’t know about it.)

But the major event that totally pissed Russia off and dominated relations between the two superpowers for years was Bush’s plan to install a new missile defence system in Poland and the Czech Republic. The Bush administration simply refused to budge on the issue and refused all attempts by the Russians to listen to their point of view. Some tentative negotiations on allowing t Russians to inspect of the missile systems was probationally agreed, but subsequently thrown out by Washington which led to a new low in East/West relations

 

But the programme isn’t all about America’s arrogance and insensitivity and Russia’s reactions to it – indeed the film makers take a totally neutral stance and let the facts and the players speak for themselves. Despite relations that in some ways hit new lows towards the end of Bush’s tenure, many positive events occurred between the two powers.

After 9/11, Putin gave America 100% support and even allowed them access to former Soviet territories in their fight against Muslim terrorism.  Later, Putin cancelled a 1billion dollar trade deal with Iran when America provided him with proof that Iran was secretly building nuclear weapons facility.

There is much more.

There is the successful completion of a new strategic nuclear arms control treaty between the two sides which, despite breath-taking brinkmanship on both sides, was finally signed by Obama and Medvedev in April, 2010.

 

There is the remarkable tour that the Russian President and a huge entourage was given to ‘Silicon Valley’ where they were given an insight on how the ‘best of the West’ create and run their new high tech companies.

There is the expulsion of Russian spy ‘moles’ in America, including the infamous Anna Chapman. The Russians didn’t even try to deny they were spying.

There is the killing of journalists and human rights activists fighting for justice and democracy in Russia; and the continuing imprisonment of the oligarch, Khodorkovsky, and Putin’s obvious interference with the judge’s verdict.

There are the infamous poisonings of their ‘enemies’; first the Ukrainian Presidential candidate (who later recovered and became President) and then the  ex-Russian spy in exile in the UK – who did die.

There is the increasing conflicts between Putin and his President, which in recent times seems to have concluded with Putin bringing his reluctant lap dog back to heel; although for a while, Medvedev clearly tried to act independent of Putin and indeed was the key negotiator, without any input from Putin, that brought the new arms control treaty with America to fruition.

 

I could go on and on – after all, it is a 6 hour documentary jammed packed with events – great and small. Yet in the end, you actually go away with the feeling that to some extent, the programme has only touched the surface of these complex events and political machinations that have been going on between the east and west over the past decade.

We saw ‘snapshots’ of what was happening at a particular point in time – but often there was no follow–up, which sometimes would have been as interesting and revealing as the original events. But, of course, there was a time limitation.

On a ‘personality’ level, I was totally fascinated by characters in the dramas. There was no criticism of anyone from either side by the interviewees – indeed they all seemed to regard each other with the utmost respect and viewers are left to draw their own conclusions.

 

We got a remarkably raw and privileged view of elder statesmen from both sides, strutting around and doing their stuff on the world stage. We got a very clear impression of Putin, watching him develop, from his somewhat nervous, self-effacing early days as prime minister designate under Yeltsin, to the powerful, confident, somewhat ruthless leader that he has become today.

We watch this transition and we see the factors and events that changed him from being reasonably pro-democratic into the authoritarian figure that he is today. Whatever he was and is, and whatever he may end up becoming, we can’t help admiring him – he is a very canny player, and whether we agree with him or not, we can see where he is coming from.

Bush emerges as an intelligent, credible figure, (unlike the popular proclivity to debunk him as a blithering, uneducated idiot), as does Obama. Indeed watching Obama’s behaviour and actions during some of the major crisis between the two nations has won him new respect from this reviewer.

 

I am forced to admit that very few people – whether Russian, American or from any major state, – gets to a position of high political power without being eminently qualified to do the job. (Of course there are exceptions  with the likes of Berlusconi…). We see this clearly in the footage and interviews with the likes of Powel, Rice, Gates, and especially the Russians, some of whom speak better English than the residents of many London suburbs.

From Putin on down, insights into what these Russians say, and what they think of us and the west – not all of it detrimental – was for me, highly illuminating, and in some strange way, comforting.

They actually give me hope for the future. They are not, as Reagan famously said, the ‘Evil Empire’; they are human beings, like you and I, trying to do the best for their country in a difficult and increasingly fraught and dangerous world.

Sure, they have not covered themselves in glory over the recent ‘Syria UN veto’ debacle, and in due course, I will be interested to learn what their thinking was behind their apparently heartless action. I do know that they feel mightily deceived by what happened in Libya, where the UN ‘no fly zone and civilian protection ‘ resolution was turned into a licence by NATO to bomb and destroy anything in sight that supported Gaddafi and to remove him from power. They may actually have a point…

 

 

BUTT…BUTT…BUTT… I don’t give a Hoot!…

 

 

 

A Return to Mobi’s ‘Daily’ Dose of Delectable Damsels

Mobi-Babble

I’m slowly coming up for air after all my recent travels and getting back into my old and familiar routine.

Many thanks to all those who have commented recently and I especially appreciate all the kind words of congratulations on my humble efforts to remain sober and improve my life.

For those of you who have missed my ‘daily’ dose of delectable damsels, you will be pleased to find that they have returned today in all their erotic glory.

I had a mental list of potential subjects that I wanted to write about  this morning I was trying make my choice when I was somewhat diverted by a programme on the TV which has now become the subject for today’s blog.

My apologies if you find it a trifle on the serious side, and to my esteemed American readers, please try to understand my point of view, even if you do not agree with what I have to say. 

This year, for every article which some may term as ‘anti-American’, I will do my best to include one in a later blog which some may consider ‘anti- UK’ – or at least ‘anti-something’ in the UK or maybe Europe. (That should be easy enough…☺)

‘Fair and balanced’ as they say on a well-known TV cable network….

Some notes on a Republican debate

Waking up late this morning, I turned on the TV to watch the morning BBC news before lifting my sleep-sodden body from the bed and embarking on yet another ‘Day in the Life of Mobi’.

But after succeeding in producing sound and picture through still bleary eyes, I misplaced the TV remote amongst the bed sheets, and ended up watching around 40 minutes or so of the latest Fox debate between the budding Republican candidates who wish to be chosen to represent their party in the forthcoming presidential general election.

I have seen many snippets of these debates on news bulletins over the past month or so, but have had no real desire to watch them at greater length, as quite frankly; they are pretty dire and for the most part, quite boring. To me, they are more a test of who is more adept at delivering snappy, witty and vote-catching ‘sound bites’, rather than a real examination of who is the most suitable to candidate to assume the highest office in the USA. (Or, indeed, who may make an unpardonable ‘faux pas’ that will provide the candidate with unwanted  headlines.)

I can certainly see the value of a few, ‘one-on-one’, in depth interviews by knowledgeable journalists, and yes, maybe one or two ‘mass debates’ between prospective candidates might be helpful in trying to decide between two or more with similar views; but this never ending farce of trawling out five, six or seven candidates onto stage after stage, across the American countryside, is to me, little more than a ridiculous ‘Punch and Judy Show’ and does the American electoral process no great credit.

Heaven forbid, but I almost feel sorry for the candidates in having to parade themselves like prized monkeys before the good folks of countless ‘Hicksvilles’ throughout the USA who all joyfully assemble to exercise their democratic rights and to throw their ‘rotten tomatoes’ at the hapless would-be presidents.

The theory being that if they can survive that, they can survive anything – but I’m not convinced that this unbeliveably arduous and ridiculously expensive marathon is the best way to find a president for the most powrerful country on earth.

Feeling more or less ‘forced’ to watch, I did become somewhat fascinated by some of the proceedings. There was the ridiculous spectacle of Ron Paul justifying his almost pacifist views and trying to convince us that there is no need for America to go to war as ‘we’ (America) will still track down war criminals such as Sadam Hussein and Osama  Bin laden to give them their just deserts…

Mr Paul, what planet are you on?  Now don’t get me wrong, I hold no brief for the war in Iraq, but to claim that we could have sought out Hussein and had him arrested, tried and hanged without America’s involvement in the war is just plain poppycock; ditto, Bin laden. He wouldn’t have even been in Iraq for your gallant forces to track down if Nato hadn’t gone to war in Afghanistan.

And then Mr Paul made his most outrageous statement. He even gave the example of Adolph Eichmann, claiming that it had been possible to track down and execute him  without going to war. What on earth is he talking about? Eichmann was an escaped Nazi mass criminal from the Second World War who fled to South America and was eventually tracked down and captured by the Israelis.

Now I know that there is zero chance of Ron Paul becoming the next president of the USA, but come on guys, this man is a total crackpot, yet he still enjoys widespread support from many who believe his nonsensical distortion of history.

Then you have the estimable Rick Perry whose command and use of the English language is so appalling that he makes George Bush appear like an erudite Churchillian orator. I reckon my three year old niece can express herself better than this budding president from the largest state in the Union.

So what did our Rick have to say about the recent scandal of US marines urinating on the bodies of dead Taliban. He said he felt sorry for them, that they were only kids, and he went on to heap opprobrium on both Obama and Clinton for their expressions of outrage over what these soldiers had done.

Now let’s get one thing clear; what these ‘misguided’ American soldiers had done was in clear contravention of all accepted rules of war, including the Geneva Convention on the conduct of war, to which the USA is a signatory. As members of the US military they violated laws of war, including prohibitions against photographing or mishandling bodies and detainees. It also violated the U.S. Uniform Code of Military Justice, which governs conduct.

On top of that they jeopardised the recent attempts at peace talks with the Taliban, which quite frankly is probably Afghanistan’s only feint hope of achieving any semblance of democratic peace going forward.

Then Mr Perry went on to compare what the marines had done with some of the despicable acts which had been carried out in the past by Al Qaeda in Iraq!

Ermmm… Ricky baby…. These guys were Taliban in Afghanistan… not Al Qaeda in Iraq. Nobody is pretending that the Taliban are a bunch of ‘fair play’ choir boys, but come on, get your facts right, and please try to understand the difference between the Taliban and Al Qaida. Even pacifist Ronnie understood that!

Sheesh! One of these guys may end up being the president of what is still the most powerful military state this world has ever seen.

(By the way, what was all that patriotic crap that the President Obama and his cohorts kept trying to ram down our throats about the American soldier is the finest, the bravest and most honourable in the world? Yeah…pissing on dead bodies… very brave, very honourable…)

Then the debate inevitably turned to the unbelievably liberal American gun laws – the notorious 2nd Amendment to the US constitution which permits all adult citizens to own and use guns in self defence

I suspect that there are very few non Americans in the western world who don’t think that the American gun laws are completely crazy. Sure there is a massive amount of gun violence in all so-called civilized countries, but I challenge you to find any country that doesn’t suffer more deaths, per capita, by guns, than the USA. (I am not counting central and south America as so-called civilised countries)

It is a complete nonsense to allow every American citizen to buy and keep a gun with virtually no checks or controls over their ownership. The net result is that America is an extremely violent society where hardly a week goes by when there isn’t yet another horrific tragedy in which often dozens of innocent people have been shot and maimed by some deranged gunman.

Can you believe it? A year or so back, there was a huge hullabaloo over attempts by congress to restrict access by the public to assault weapons? And guess who won? The gun lobby of course. Not content with the public owning hand guns and single shot rifles, the worthy citizens of America can also own assault weapons – you know semi- automatic rifles and even weapons such as rifle grenade launchers. If this isn’t world gone mad then I don’t know what is.

Yet candidate after candidate swore their allegiance to the second amendment and the freedom for all to bear arms. They even quoted their voting records in Congress and /or state legislatures to confirm to that they had never wavered in their beliefs that it was right and proper for every citizen to freely bear sufficient arms to shoot up and destroy every other citizen in his/her neighbourhood, and, no doubt, far beyond.

I don’t know if it was me, but as I watched the candidates speak on this subject, I thought I detected an ever so slight hesitation, or maybe even a barely noticeable reluctance to say what they were obliged to say. A bit like the poor citizens of North Korea having to express public grief over the death of their dear despotic leader, or face unimaginably unpleasant consequences.

Let’s face it – the second amendment is a bit like the ‘elephant in the room’. I strongly suspect that a vast majority of right thinking, intelligent Americans know that it is an inherently flawed piece of legislation

But they would no more dare to even suggest that some gun controls should be cintroduced than your local pastor would dare to question whether God really created the universe, even though I suspect many in this day and age of scientific discovery, may think just that.

The gun lobby is just so powerful and it wends its insidious path throughout all strata of American society; politicians and political parties alike, that no one dare gainsay them, for to do so would be tantamount to political suicide. It is one of the many corruptions that run to the very core of 21st Century American politics.

As many of my readers will know, I am no fan of Obama. Frankly I never have been, even when he was at the height of public adoration with his wonderful oratory and his promise of ‘change’ and to get rid of the entrenched corruption in Washington. But silly me; I looked at his record in Chicago and his associations with some highly dubious characters and I feared the worst.

But when he was elected by a landslide I, like many others, became swept up in the excitement of the occasion and hoped against hope that he might actually achieve something.

Of course it wasn’t long before disillusion set in and he became a salutary lesson in how an inspired orator is not necessarily an inspired leader. He has shown himself to be a weak, vacillating president, with poor leadership qualities and has become completely subsumed by the Washington machine and its vested interests. Washington has eaten him alive and is still spewing out the pieces.

So on the face of it you would think that with state of the American economy and the dire state world in general and America along with it, that virtually any viable candidate put up by the Republicans would be a shoe-in in the upcoming general election.

You would think so wouldn’t you? But what a shower they have come up with! Romney is clearly the best of a very bad, totally inept bunch, but even he leaves so much to be desired.

Sure, over the long years of campaigning he has learned how to speak and behave in a ‘presidential’ manner, but we all know from Obama that a good orator doesn’t necessarily make a good president.

We also know that Romney is a liberal conservative who is trying desperately to move to the right to attract the hard core GOP support. Nothing wrong with a liberal conservative in my book, (but I’m a European), but for many who want Obama out, rightly or wrongly Romney  is not the president they are looking for.

But he is trying desperately to convince them that he is, but it wouldn’t surprise me at all that come Election Day, many undecided independents along with a sufficient number of disgruntled right wing republicans will stay away, to let Obama in for a second term.

The problem with Romney is that he is an opportunistic hypocrite, who secretly nurtures liberal views on subjects such as healthcare, gun control and abortion which he would never dare to admit to  in public. I suspect that many of the public also feel this in their bones.

So having listened to this hypocritical diatribe for as long as my flesh and blood could stand, I finally succeeded in retrieving my remote control from under the bed clothes and switched over to Al Jajeera…..

BUTT…BUTT…BUTT…BUTT… I don’t give a hoot!…

Carousing, Post-bagging, and Flooding.


 

 

9 months, 26 Days, still soberimage

Mobi-Babble

It seems like a lifetime ago since I quit the booze and weaned myself off the high dosage of antidepressants that I used to take. So I have been clean of alcohol for nearly 10 months and antidepressants for 8 months. In the general scheme of these things, it’s not that long and nobody knows better than me that I am still not out of the woods.

Recently, there have been some worrying financial issues that have sent me into a mild depression, although at the time of writing, I do feel a bit better than I did even a day or so back.

Don’t get me wrong, the ‘financial issues’ are not going to bankrupt me, but without  going into details, I will just say that if not resolved, they will burn yet another small  hole in my projected monthly income and I will eventually have to adjust my lifestyle accordingly.

All in all, a bit of a blow, and largely of my own making, harking from the days when I didn’t take proper care of my money matters. Let that be a lesson to any procrastinating alcoholics out there. Closing your eyes to necessary business matters doesn’t make them go away.

 

timthumb

Anyway, the depression has led me to feel a degree of boredom and lack of purpose in my life, (or maybe it’s the other way round), but at no point have I even considered the notion of having a drink or going back on anti-depressants. I actually recognise the danger signals. It is a known fact that many alcoholics return to drinking after weeks, months or even years of abstinence, purely and simply because they are bored and seem to have no happiness or joy in their lives. The solution is not to start drinking again but to find more purpose in my life.

I am not so much bored as dissatisfied with my daily life. I seem to spend all my time downloading stuff from the internet to watch in the evenings, dealing with all my myriad emails and working on my blog, even though I have now reduced its publication to twice a week. I have made no progress on my novel since I had that first rush of optimism following my return from the UK, so now, what with the problems in my finances, I don’t feel too positive about things as I did just a couple of weeks ago.

Things would be a whole lot worse without the wonderful Noo to take care of me and I am so thankful that she is here to stop me doing anything stupid.

Anyway, yesterday I decided to go out on a bit of a ‘girlie crawl’ in the hope that it might cheer me up a bit, and I am actually pleased to report that I think it did just that.

In recent months, most of my carousing has been done in the company of Rick, and more recently Bob, but I have now concluded that I am happier when on my own. If I am on the hunt for female companionship, then I’d rather do it alone. Having someone with me is distracting and invariably I have to fall in with their wishes as regards when and where to move on to pastures new. We may be at a particular bar where  I may have found a nice lady that I wish to spend time with, but my companion may have not be so lucky. So he wants to go and I want to say. And vice versa….

But at the end of the day when I go out on these lady-hunting expeditions, Iwant to spend time with some lovely, scantily clad women – not to chat with friends. If I want to out for a chat I will go to a beer bar or a cafe  and have a chat. If I want to have a nice kiss and cuddle, I will go to a different sort of place and indulge my weaknesses. I have always been like this; a loner as far as chasing whores is concerned.

So yesterday went pretty well. I had a pretty good time in a number of disreputable establishments and had fun with some very horny, gorgeous ladies whose bodies were so delectable that most of you living in the west would die to get your hands on one of them if you had half a chance.

I didn’t ‘go all the way’ but I wasn’t far off it, and more than one lady suggested that  even if I hadn’t, she had….

I won’t go into the gory details as I used to in the past, as it seems to bring out the worst in a number of my readers and they tend to get beside themselves with anger – accusing me of all manner of terrible sins – from distorting the truth to barefaced lies, to challenging me to going with them on some kind of whore-monger competition.

What tosh! I know what I know and I do what I do, which is a helluva lot more than most punters succeed in doing, but I don’t have to prove myself to anyone. If you don’t believe me, it’s entirely up to you.

Did yesterday’s exploits have the effect of lifting my depression? I actually think that they did; I suppose it was all good for my bruised ego. I returned home at around 8.30 p.m and Noo was waiting for me patiently. She looked absolutely lovely and it made me realise, yet again, what a gem she is.

Today, I feel much better, though still haven’t decided what I need to do to change my life for the better to avoid more depressive periods. But at least I am still sober and feeling more positive about things and that can’t be bad.

Postbag

It’s been quite a while since I published a postbag, mainly because there has been little of interest in the way of comments to bring to my readers’ attention.

Obviously everybody must agree with what I say, and has no need to write any comments. ☺ (I’ joking…)

Anyway, I recently had an exchange of correspondence with ‘Rebel’ and  today with ‘TT’. and a new correspondent called Elijah Green. Both Rebel and TT are two of my long term readers, and as  many of you do not bother to click on the ‘comments’ section, I publish below a  recent exchanges of views.

Rebel

Submitted on 2011/10/20 at 4:26 pm

Much better interpretation of the current political condition here in the U.S.A. than some of your previous commentaries. The bottom line is that money regardless of the source has polluted our system, it is the agenda of nearly every politician. In order to keep their positions and for many a higher standard of living then they’d otherwise have accomplished their votes are for sale.

The dumbing of America is no accident, it is by design. It is much easier to herd an ignorant population regardless if they lean left or right. It is the independent vote that is the unknown and decides elections currently. Their numbers will be curtailed as we become less sophisticated and fall in line with the undereducated. We then can be counted to choose left or right instead of compromise thus their votes easier calculated. It is easier to conduct business as usual when the population is struggling to keep a roof over their heads and food on the table. The current “Moral Majority” on the right and the “Nanny State” on the left only assist the politicians by masking their dysfunction to compromise in the best interest of the people. What use to be an accepted difference in opinion is now a make or break issue on nearly any legislative attempt by either party. A point of view based on a political/religious philosophy is more important than solving the economic problems now infecting the world. Our politicians have failed to lead and will continue to do so until their pockets are separated from the corporate or special interest cash that controls them and ultimately all of us!

Money is said to be the root of all evil, never a truer saying than evidenced by today’s problems regarding child abuse as your blog stated. It is the children who pay the price for the failures of humanity. The European model of health and welfare is a more humane system for the masses, yes the cost is enormous but is used as an excuse not to do the humane thing here in the U.S. The children don’t vote so they are not a threat to the current politicians, they are the easiest of targets when it comes to how money is going to be allocated. We will and are paying a higher price for our failure to protect, provide and properly educate the most vulnerable of society. It is now less expensive to send a kid to most Universities than to incarcerate them per annum, yet we can’t build prisons fast enough. A system that values wealth greater than its humanity will someday be consumed by the very inhumanity and stupidity that their greed has created.

The current state of affairs in the U.S.A. is troubling; I can only hope that someday a true leader will arrive on the scene, that will save us from our apathy. If you’ve watched any of the resent debates of the republican challengers to Obama, you will have noted none of them are of the calibre to lead our nation to a corrected course. They are all more of the same, all to ready to serve their corporate master$. My prediction is Obama will be re-elected by the slimmest of margins. The crook you know is better than a crook you don’t know, the march to ‘corporatocracy’ continues.

It is much easier to live with ones countries short comings when all you have to do is blame them on someone else or pray them away on any given Sunday. It is much easier to navigate a known corrupt system than one disguised as democracy.

What’s to get Mobi?

MOBI

Submitted on 2011/10/21 at 5:32 am | In reply to Rebel.

Hi Rebel,

Thank you for your comments.

Most, though not all, my articles on USA issues in previous blogs have been deliberately provocative, so I am not surprised that you find my latest comments more ‘reasonable’. In this piece I have tried hard to moderate my language and keep things in proper perspective so as not to antagonise my American readers too much.

What I don’t get is the increasing divergence in cultures between the US and Europe; between the caring and the selfish, between the quasi religious and the secular – between middle ground, consensus politics and partisan, extremist, hate-filled politics….

Of course I am generalising – no nation or group of nations is perfect.

After all, ‘Politics is the art of looking for trouble, finding it whether it exists or not, diagnosing it incorrectly, and applying the wrong remedy.’

I agree with all of your comments and in particular I too deplore the lack of an inspirational candidate to challenge Obama and lead the ‘free world’ at a time of crisis. You may be correct about Obama scraping back in, but much can and probably will happen over the next 12 months.

Personally, I suspect that Romney might just wing it, but this Yankee-watcher will derive no pleasure from such a victory, as Romney is every bit a part of the corrupt political machine as all the others who have gone before. It will more of the same, and the politicians will continue to play the same games in Washington and nothing will really change.

What was that about: “In a democracy, people get the government they deserve”?

Rebel

Submitted on 2011/10/21 at 4:44 pm

Your definition of politics is apropos Mobi.

The divergence you speak of is a result of how superficial America has become, it’s the reason we have lost the status we once enjoyed in the free world. Our morals have been compromised, we are getting the respect or lack thereof that we deserve.

Romney is a Mormon, the Christian ludicrous are not capable of casting that vote for a “cultist”. He is too liberal for that faction of the conservatives. The imbecile Perry is a better fit for those waiting for the return of the invisible man. Huntsman a moderate, who is also Mormon would be my first choice, he’ll never make it through the first few primaries.

Thank you for clarifying my point about not having a government we deserve. The amount of money it takes to buy an election in this country, we get a choice of whoever the financiers decide to support. The population of working stiffs are merely ponds in the chess game for dominance that the wealthy and connected have rigged.

TT

Submitted on 2011/10/25 at 10:34 pm

Hi Mobi,

It is rare that I disagree with anything you say, but your words on Libya there sound like some David Cameron press release. It is us who hired the gunmen to fight the war – errrrr……factions of Al Qaeda if you’d have look at the press. Their massacres are now coming to light as are questions on the amount of civilian casualties created by their habit of standing off from built up areas and blasting away blindly. And the whole UN mandate of protecting the population? Dropping bombs on urban areas would achieve that I am sure.

And the raggle taggle army of ‘freedom fighters’ that you speak of ; Did you note the hardware that these ‘freedom fighters’ were armed with? Wonder who supplied that then? And how is it to be paid for? Hmmm.

And of course the latest footage of Gaddafi’s demise is nothing like the original story, or the next story, or the one after that. He was sodomised with a bayonet after being brutalised. With friends like that do we need enemies?.

Whatever you choose to believe of the propaganda, Libya had women’s rights, it had a good state medical system (Medical tourism being a money earner there), and a good educational system. I have known many guys in the oil industry who’ve worked there so can only base my opinions on what they have told me and of what I have read.

In all reality, can you assure me that our ‘freedom fighter’s will still be allowing women to walk around in Libya unmasked in one year’s time?. I’ve got a fiver says ‘No’.

As for the knock at the door – you do remember what country you live in?. In Libya it might have been political, in Thailand it is normally financial. Same, same, but different.

Cheers,

TT.

MOBI

Submitted on 2011/10/26 at 8:14 am | In reply to TT.

Honestly, TT, it almost sounds as though you have been brain washed by some fringe conspiracy theory hand out.

As I wrote in my piece, I actually lived for a year in Libya, albeit many years ago, but long after Gadhafi was well entrenched as the nation’s feared dictator. I lived there and worked there, never leaving the country until the day I climbed on a plane to leave for good – unlike a vast majority of oilfield workers , who only go into a country to do their tour of duty on an oil rig, and then leave immediately afterwards for their ‘R & R’

As a young man I worked for more than 8 years in the oil industry in all manner of third world countries, but everywhere I worked, I actually lived there, with the local communities, unlike most of my colleagues who were flown out of the country as soon as their tour of duty was over.

It is dangerous to generalise but I have heard more stuff and nonsense perpetrated by often ill-educated oil field hands, clearly ignorant in world affairs and history, who claim that they ‘know’ a country when all that they have done is work on one of the country’s oil rigs. Their only interaction with locals is on the rig and getting to and from their place of work so as a consequence, their views are extremely blinkered, and dare I suggest, somewhat self-serving.

I dare say many feel very aggrieved at having their generous, tax free income being cut off by a ‘pesky civil war’, started by Cameron.

Don’t’ get me wrong – I too do not claim to be an expert; I did state in my blog that  I lived a relatively rarefied, expat lifestyle in Libya.

Oil is the life blood of Libya, and the very best educated, (often overseas), and the most able Libyans work in that sector. Many of them were Gadhafi supporters because they came from that elite segment – mostly from Gadhafi’s own tribe – who were looked after and fostered by the ruling regime.

But even amongst those, there was a fear of saying or doing the wrong thing – and yes – getting a dreaded knock on the door. So any intercourse with such people might lead you to believe that Libya was indeed a well-run civilised society – but the whole world, (except it would seem, the likes of TT), knows very different.

I admit that I am becoming increasingly disaffected with Cameron as I feel his judgement on many issues has been shown to be flawed, but on the Libya issue, he and Sarkosy got it 100% right.

It took longer than most of us would have liked, and there a lot more deaths than any of us are comfortable with. But war is war and the rebels were determined to bring down a very brutal regime and if they hadn’t succeeded, then the slaughter in the streets could well have matched what transpired in Ruanda. Even the UN recognised this as a fact.

Of course, war crimes and unnecessary deaths and torture were carried out by both sides. Name me a war where this didn’t happen.

And quite frankly, I and a vast majority of the world couldn’t care two hoots if Gadhafi’s body was violated with a sabre up his backside – he perpetrated the most barbarous suffering and cruelty on his people and he deserved nothing less. Few will grieve his passing, or the manner of his death.

As for your bet as to whether all the women will be wearing veils in 6 months’ time – well I ask you ? Is this the acid test of what constitutes a fair and just society?

Sure it offends our western senses of what is right and how we should treat our women; but isn’t it time that we abandoned this idea that every country’s culture should be a carbon copy of our flawed western model, and when are we going to learn that any attempts to force our beliefs and principles on alien cultures and religions only leads to conflict?

When the Arab Spring has reached its zenith, there will be any number of Moslem states where the basis of their rule will be Sharia Law and where most, if not all women will have to wear the veil in public. If this is what the people of those countries, voting in free and fair elections desire, then who are we to gainsay them?

Surely all the rest of the world should try to do is to create a climate under which the people have the opportunity to elect their chosen government. As I wrote the other day in relation to The USA: “In a democracy, people get the government they deserve.”

Of course it remains to be seen if such countries will be more democratic than they used to be and if their people are treated any better.

But we have to give them the chance, and maybe – just maybe – we will be surprised by the results.

BTW, please don’t fall into the ‘Big Skippy trap’ of trying to justify your point by bringing another country into the debate. We are talking Libya – not Thailand.

Thailand is a totally different kettle of fish….☺

Take care,

Mobi

Elijah Green

Submitted on 2011/10/24 at 11:27 am

Concur with your thoughts on H.C.

I recall reading a comment about her made by a contemporary university student:

“She was a bitch back then in college, and she ain’t changed a bit”

MOBI

Submitted on 2011/10/26 at 9:26 am | In reply to Elijah Green.

Hi Elijah,

Yes, I’m afraid she has never come across as the caring liberal that she purports to be. Even as Foreign Secretary she has given out some public announcements to which have been tantamount to barefaced lies, and she knows it. Most of us did as well.

It is an interesting dichotomy, as, I actually believe that Obama, deep down, is a principled individual who really believes that what he is trying to do is best for the American people. Unfortunately, his ideology is fatally flawed and on top of that he has shown himself to be an incompetent leader. A great orator and a great ideas man, maybe, but hopeless in leading and in the execution of his ideas.

On the other hand, Princess Hilary is a lying, scheming, wily politician, and who knows – quite possibly an effective leader. Maybe she would have achieved more than Obama if she had been elected President? What say you?

The Thai Floods

There has been so much written about the Thai floods that there is little that I wish to add, and in any case the situation is continually changing so anything that I write will be out of date before the ink dries on the page.

I guess the only remaining imponderable is just how much of Bangkok will also succumb to the floods in the coming days and weeks. My guess is that most, if not all of Bangkok will suffer from some degree of flooding, even if it is only a few inches.

So what is really going on and is anyone to blame? Could the worst of the flooding have been prevented, and is the government completely incompetent in dealing with it? Are bi-partisan politics getting in the way of helping the people?

The possible answers to all these questions can be found in the newspapers and blogs that have churned out millions of words on this subject.

But to me, it is a bit like the Bangkok riots of last year? We are in uncharted territory and no one really knows exactly why it happened, whether timely remedial measures would have helped to alleviate the crisis and where it will all lead to.

One thing is for sure; it will have a considerable effect on the country’s economy. Last year, most people were surprised at how little the economy was affected by the Bangkok riots. The reality was that the great power houses of the Thai economy – industry and agriculture were hardly affected by what was going on in down-town Bangkok.

Sure the tourist industry suffered a small blip – but it was only a blip and it didn’t take long before the tourists started to return in droves.

But this time it is a bit different. Hundreds of major factories have been shut down for weeks,– possibly months; agriculture has been very hard hit and billions upon  billions of Baht in precious exports has been lost, some of it possibly forever.

After the 2009 riots, most foreign investors in the Thai economy, principally Japanese, reaffirmed their commitment to the country, but I wonder whether this commitment will stay just as firm after these devastating floods which have cost the Japanese their largest ever overseas investment loss in their history, some 50 billion dollars was a recent estimate. Maybe some of them will start to look for alternative places for on-going and future investment, particularly if the Thai government do not take immediate long term measures to prevent a re-occurrence of these widespread floods.

I haven’t yet mentioned tourism which also remained relatively unaffected by the 2009 riots. If Bangkok does become flooded, (I suspect that it will), and, heaven forbid, if there is even a slight disruption to flights at Suvarnabhumi airport, then I fear that it will have an adverse effect on tourist numbers for at least year or two – longer if the floods re-occur.

We have been mercifully spared the floods here in Pattaya, as has the south of Thailand which receives a huge number of tourists, but Chiang Mai has been badly affected, and if Bangkok goes under water, this will create a huge piece of negative publicity for Thai tourism at the event will surely be headlines in the world’s media.

So maybe some hard times lie ahead for Thailand’s economy. Not a total disaster, but it will certainly halt the previously burgeoning economic growth in its tracks. The government will have to tread a very careful path out of the resultant, as yet unquantifiable economic damage.

A couple of days ago, Al Jazeera had a thirty minute segment on the Thai floods, and the three participants were two intellectuals from Thai universities, plus the excellent Pavin Chachavalpongpun, who is based in Singapore.

The abiding message that one could take from this programme was that even the experts did not really have good answers to the questions I posed at the top of this article, but all were agreed that to one extent or another, bi-partisan political forces were at play.

Since then I have found an article written by Pavin Chachavalpongpun, as a guest writer in the Nation. It is worth a reprint here:

Even this national disaster is being used as a political weapon

Such a stupid bitch, she is!

As dim as a buffalo! She’s a bimbo, a brainless Barbie doll. The first female prime minister – who has brought all this bad luck upon the country!

This is what Prime Minister Yingluck Shinawatra is now called and labelled by her upper-class critics.

Much of Thailand has for some time been submerged under floodwaters. Bangkok itself is bracing for raging floods. Soon, the capital could be turned into a giant swimming pool. At the same time, Yingluck is about to drown in the political floods. This is no longer just an issue of natural disaster. It has become a ferocious political game.

The discourse of “stupidity” is being used prevalently and discursively. Yingluck has been made to represent the face of stupidity. The objective is clear – to discredit her and belittle her endeavours to find solutions to the problem.

In employing this discourse to assess Yingluck’s performance, many seem to assume that Thai politics is the realm of the “intelligent”. But if it is so, then why did past leaders also fail to solve the relentless problem of annual floods once and for all?

If Yingluck is to be judged, then perhaps the word “weak” would be better used to measure her leadership qualities. It is true that Yingluck has responded to the floods too slowly. While she works tirelessly to display her commitment, she fails to produce an integrated approach to ameliorate the grave situation. But it is very convenient, in times of crisis, to condemn others. All fingers are thus pointing at Yingluck’s lack of crisis management skills.

But would it be fair to put all the blame on Yingluck? Should she alone be held responsible for the overpowering floods? Why was the Royal Irrigation Department keeping huge reserves of water in key dams at the beginning of the monsoon season and refused to release it despite the prolonged and massive rainfall we have seen during this monsoon season? Why did previous governments, which also experienced threatening floods, not put in place an effective flood management system?

Rumours, lies and false statements regarding the flood situation have been found on social networking sites. A picture of Yingluck, taken before the July election, which shows her taking a photo from her hand-phone on a helicopter, has been circulated on Facebook, with captions such as: “The nation is in crisis but this bitch is having a good time.” Another picture of a Yingluck lookalike partying and drinking whisky from a bottle was also shared in cyberspace.

News of His Majesty the King mentioning that if the floods approach Bangkok, then let the water pass and do not block the Chitralada Palace, was found to be bogus. A photo of Her Royal Highness Princess Maha Chakri Sirindhorn, taken in 2010, offering bags of commodities, was also intentionally released to mislead some Thais.

Could this be a part of a coordinated attack against Yingluck with the aim of destroying confidence in the government? Certainly, the opposition Democrat Party has been busy contesting the legitimacy of the Yingluck regime. Its leader, former prime minister Abhisit Vejjajiva, absurdly suggested the declaration of an emergency decree to fight the floods. Through this, the military would be granted full authority to operate in almost any way it likes – a decision that will not be accepted by the current government. Yet, Abhisit did not elaborate on whether the military could handle the problem better than the Yingluck government.

Abhisit has also worked closely with MR Sukhumbhand Paribatra, the Bangkok governor, to compete, not cooperate, with the government. While many brand Yingluck as stupid, Sukhumbhand showed his superstitious faith in a Khmer ritual of “chasing water” in his search for a solution to the threat of floods in the city. He was intensely protective about his turf. At one point he declared, “Listen to me and only me. I will tell you when to evacuate.”

Meanwhile, footage of the military going into affected areas to aid flood victims is impressive. But the military, like the Bangkok governor, has functioned almost independently from the government. There is clearly a sense of competition between the government and its rivals. Some of the fiercest critics of the government have called for Yingluck to resign. Yingluck’s supporters interpret such competition and the pressure to remove her from power as part of a plot to stage a “water coup”.

This competition, even during the height of the crisis, unveils a reality in Thailand: this is a deeply fragmented society in which political ideologies have overshadowed public responsibility and the urgency for national survival. It is no longer a country where its members are willing to forge ahead and leave their differences behind. Eliminating political adversaries, at the expense of a national catastrophe, is seemingly acceptable today.

The last crusade to save the capital from the floods also reflects a self-interested mentality among Bangkok residents. Bangkok, once again, is a symbol of contentious politics. Other provinces have long suffered from flood-waters that do not seem to go away. It is a case of a great disparity between the people residing in the rural and urban areas.

For now, those who are complaining the most, the loudest, are the Bangkok residents, who have over the past two months been so fortunate to have been kept dry. Yingluck has fallen into the trap of political disparity: she recognises the absolute necessity to rescue Bangkok to please her Bangkok critics, but earlier acted so slowly to prevent surrounding provinces from being inundated.

Pavin Chachavalpongpun

PC is a fellow at Singapore’s Institute of South-East Asian Studies.

2011-10-26

I like to believe that if a similar disaster were to befall the UK, or indeed the USA, that at least during the time of crisis there would be a concerted effort from people of all political persuasions to first and foremost deal with the disaster and get all necessary help to the victims and to mitigate the flood damage.

Once the disaster is over, normal politics would hold sway once more and accusations would be levelled back and forth from all sides of the political spectrum. But at the height of the emergency, all would be doing their best to help and support the government in their efforts. We actually saw this recently in the cyclone and terrible flooding that ravaged Australia. Recriminations came later, but at the time, it was ‘all hands to the pumps’.

Not so Thailand. It is such a shame, and – dare I say it- that if it wasn’t for one man, the strong feelings and the deep divisions in Thai society would never have become quite as entrenched as they are today. 

I am not for one moment suggesting  that he was not treated shabbily – of course he was – but history will show that he has a great deal to answer for; from the terrible, bloody riots, to the polarisation of Thai society to the point where scoring political points is more important than the lives and welfare or ordinary folk.

I am sorry, Khun Thaksin, but two wrongs never, ever, make a right; I’m sure they must teach you that somewhere in Buddhism. In fact, maybe Khun Thaksin and all the many  Buddhists who are involved in managing this crisis, would do well to dwell on the Buddhist concept of ‘METTA’. 

Metta is the first of the four ‘Sublime States’: loving kindness, good-will, friendship, unconditional love for all human beings. Metta is the feeling of warm-hearted concern for the well-being of other people, whoever they may be, regardless of any ‘reason’ or any profit that might result. Metta is a spontaneous expression of a wish to do what one can to help.

BUTT…BUTT…BUTT… I don’t give a hoot…

The Death of a Colonel

 


9 Months, 23 Days, Still sober

Mobi Babble

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!


Is there anything still ‘Made in Britain’? The answer may surprise you.

9 Months, 12 days, still sober

Mobi-Babble

Noo’s nine year old son has been with us since last Sunday for the half term school break so she has been quite occupied during the past few days entertaining him.

He is a lovely, very well behaved kid and every morning he rises at the crack of dawn and cleans the house and garden, as instructed by his mum.

I took them both to Tesco on Tuesday and we stocked up on some food shopping and few clothes for him and then I drove them down to Tuk Com and bought him a Sony Play station. It took this old codger quite a while to figure out how to get it going, but once I finally succeeded in putting game up on the TV screen, he was up and away.

I’ll never understand how these kids seem to instinctively know how to play these games, as I can’t figure them out at all, and they are all in English – of which he can’t read a word. But I knew that he wouldn’t find it a problem and it now has the desired effect of keeping him occupied and nice and quiet for several hours of the day.

His mum has told him that he cannot take it back to Nong Kai with him as she is worried that he would spend too much time playing with it and neglect his homework. Sounds sensible to me.

Made in Britain

Over the last few days I have been watching a three part documentary made by the BBC for the Open University entitled ‘Made in Britain’, which was written and presented by Evan Davies, of the BBC’s Money programme.

I would recommend this documentary as compulsory viewing for anyone who seriously wishes to understand how national and world economics work, and how the economies of  countries like Britain have succeeded in the past, and what they need to be doing in the future, to effectively ‘pay their way’ in the world.

It was a bit of an eye opener, if I say it myself, for this reasonably well read commentator who has always tried to keep abreast of world economics.

Firstly, let’s take a look at a few facts about the history of Britain’s economy and where we are today, much of which was referred to during the course of the programme.

In the 18th century, the UK was the first country in the world to industrialise, and during the 19th century held a dominant role in the global economy.

From the late 19th century the United States and Germany presented an increasing challenge to Britain’s role as leader of the global economy.

The costs of fighting both the First World War and Second World War further weakened the relative economic position of the UK, and by 1945 Britain had been superseded by the United States as the world’s dominant economic power.

However the UK still maintains a significant role in the world economy

The UK is one of the world’s most globalised countries and London is the world’s largest financial centre alongside New York. As of December 2010 the UK had the third-largest stock of both inward and outward foreign direct investment.

The aerospace industry of the UK is the second- or third-largest national aerospace industry. The pharmaceutical industry plays an important role in the UK economy and the country has the third-highest share of global pharmaceutical R&D expenditures.

The UK is currently ranked fourth in the world (and first in Europe) in the World Bank’s ‘Ease of Doing Business’ Index

The economy of the United Kingdom is the sixth-largest national economy in the world measured by nominal GDP and seventh-largest measured by purchasing power parity (PPP), and the third-largest in Europe measured by nominal GDP (after Germany and France) and second-largest measured by PPP (after Germany).

There has been a sharp decline in Britain’s  manufacturing output in the past 60 years, dropping from around 70% of its GDP in 1951 to 30% in 1971 and to around 12% of its GDP in 2011, with the UK’s so-called service sector now accounting for some 78% of GDP.

But, before we throw up our hands in horror, the plain fact is that Manufacturing, at 12%  of GDP in the UK, is little different from the share in other advanced economies, with the notable exception of Germany, where it is about 24pc. But in France, their manufacturing share of GDP is about the same as in the UK, and in the US it is actually lower.

All advanced countries have experienced the same phenomenon. Nor is this all about losing manufacturing to emerging economies in Asia and elsewhere, where costs are lower. The simple fact is that as people get richer they tend to want to spend a higher proportion of their incomes on services rather than on goods.

Even at 12%, manufacturing still accounts for a surprisingly large amount of the British economy – a larger share than the UK’s much vaulted financial services sector, which stands at 9pc. People find this surprising, because they do not come across many UK-manufactured products in their daily lives.

By contrast, they cannot fail to notice the dominance of German and Chinese producers in many fields. The UK has quasi-dominant positions in only two large manufacturing sectors, namely pharmaceuticals and aerospace, but we have many niche producers spread over umpteen sectors which means that the UK is still the world’s sixth-largest producer of manufactured goods, measured by value of output.

In 2009, the UK manufacturing sector generated approximately £140 billion in gross value added and employed around 2.6 million people and of the £16 billion spent on R&D, approximately £12 billion was by manufacturing businesses.

In 2010, Britain’s exports amounted to £428 Billion and its imports were some 478 billion, producing a trade gap of some £50 Billion. In simplistic terms, In order to ‘bridge this gap’, i.e. pay for the shortfall in our imports over exports, we have to borrow on the world markets. It is the size of this borrowing, and our ability to repay it, which is a good, rough and ready guide to the country’s ability to pay its way in the world and to assess the overall health of its economy.

At present Britain still has a triple A rating from the credit agencies, unlike our cousins across the sea who have been down -graded to a double A, but there is no doubt that if we fail to do even better in bridging that gap – i.e increasing our exports, then we may eventually follow the USA in a downgrade of our credit rating.

But if you watch the programme, you will see that the direction of the British economy is by no means all doom and gloom, but that we will have to continue to get up early in the morning to keep ahead of the chasing pack.

The message that comes through loud and clear from the programme is that  an advanced economy must always adapt and change and can never afford to sit back on its laurels for one moment, and that by land large, despite a number of worrying setbacks over the past 60 years, Britain has succeed in doing just that.

The programme investigates a number of wide ranging business sectors, including low-tech garment manufacturing (in which we led the world 50 years ago) to hi-tech manufacturing industries such as aerospace, and super-fast-cars for the super-rich.

It traces the demise of traditional manufacturing, such as the garment industry and follows its resurgence in low labour cost countries such as China. Yet amazingly, the programme shows us  that even though we no longer manufacture clothes in the UK, some major UK clothing companies now make more money, relatively speaking, from their clothing businesses, including  exporting them across the world, to a higher value, than they did in the 1950’s.

This is because the low value end of the production is done in China at a cost we could never compete with; but this ‘Chinese cost’ ends up being a small percentage of the total cost of the product. The majority is all ‘added value’ and is retained by its British owners.

Furthermore, from clothing, to electrical consumer goods to almost anything made in cheap labour countries, the prices for the UK consumer are lower than they have ever been which means more are sold than ever before  and wherever the British have retained involvement in these products, they have made handsome profits.

Throughout our lives we have heard the universal screams of woe every time a high profile UK manufactured product leaves our shores to be made in a ‘cheap-labour’ country in the third world. Politicians try to intervene to stem the tide, but history has shown that they are never successful. Whenever they attempt to pump government money in to rescue some dying industry, or put restrictive measures in pace to protect such industries, they have always failed miserably.

Free markets will always triumph over the interference of ignorant governments and the world’s businessmen have long learned that you make your products at the place where it is the most economical.

So the low-value, labour intensive industries go to the developing, low labour-cost countries, and the high-value, low-labour industries spring up in the more developed economies.

It is the way of the word – adapt or die, and Britain seems to have done just that; whether it is producing hi-tech aerospace components, or producing the latest drugs in sophisticated factories where one man can now do the job of dozens, or to launching and running worldwide satellite navigation systems, or microchip technology – which is used in virtually every mobile phone and computer in the world – or the export of highly skilled services, (yes even our services are exported), to places like Dubai where Britain has earned billions in designing and project managing the massive development in that country , or to making specialised glass that is used in almost every skyscraper in the world, or to the financial services sector and the related ‘add-on’ services that generate massive foreign earnings, or to the tourist industry, which is effectively an export industry as it brings in foreign currency and even to the thousands of foreign fee paying students in our universities who contribute millions annually to the exchequer, (The UK is second in world, behind America, in attracting foreign, fee-paying students to its universities).

The foregoing are all British achievements and I could go on and on as the list is long and astonishing.

But as a nation we cannot afford to slow down. The rest of the word is only a few steps behind and we must continue to use our brains, our know-how developed in our world class universities, our renowned problem solving abilities, our entrepreneurial spirit and our work ethic to remain ahead of the pack and seek out new business and export horizons.

Obama would do well to watch this programme. I sincerely believe that he has absolutely no real concept of what really drives the world economy and in particular the American economy. He can’t have, or he wouldn’t keep banging on about losing American jobs overseas, accusing the Chinese and others of unfair trading practices and try to inject vast amounts of money into dying manufacturing industries in a desperate attempt to increase production and provide jobs for the unemployed.

He doesn’t understand that the American economy, like Britain’s, has to change to meet the challenges of the world in the 21st century. It cannot compete with the Chinese on low cost labour, low-value production and they must move on to produce high value things that the Chinese and other developing nations are currently unable to do.

Nothing demonstrates Obama’s total ignorance of what drives the world economy more than the recent Solyndra scandal. His administration insisted in ploughing over 500 million dollars into a manufacturer that could never compete with its Chinese competitors. The Chinese were able to produce wind turbines at a fraction of the cost that Solyndra was able to do. Simple research would have told them that, but politics got in the way.

 And what did Obama say when the company went bust? Words to the effect that the decision was correct ‘in principal’, and that there will always be some failures. I actually feel sorry for you guys over there.

Back in the UK, despite all the pessimism that has been propagated by countless so called economic experts over the years, to the effect that Britain is in terminal decline, that it has lost its manufacturing base and cannot survive on a service based economy, I say that they have completely misunderstood the changes that had to happen and failed to see what actually did happen to the British economy.

And further, I would ask them how on earth do they think that a population of some 60 million people have been able to enjoy such a relative high standard of living for decades if the Britain had been going downhill ever since its 19th and early 20th century industrial heartland started to vanish from the skyline?

Even now, in the midst of one of the biggest economic setbacks ever to befall this nation, nobody is starving, nobody is living rough (except by choice), there is still universal education and free access to health services, even the poorest still have central heating, televisions, DVD players, fridges and hot water in their home, and have money in their pocket to spend on small luxury items, have mobile phones in their pockets and have access to free sporting  and recreational activities, libraries and so forth.

Again, I could go on and on. Yes, the folk are upset, and with some justification, as the world’s bankers have a lot to answer for, but if you listen to their list of grievances, it is mostly along the lines of having to cancel their holidays abroad, having to cancel their kids private swimming or horse riding lessons, having to spend more time at home as they can’t afford to go out to the pub more than  once a week, having to keep their old car as they can’t afford to trade in for a new one, and so on and so forth.

In the year that I was born, the national health service was still two years away and the only benefit provided by the state was free schooling. We had none of the other social services that everyone now takes for granted as a right, including free health care, and I spent the first 12 years of my life in a dilapidated old house with no fridge, no TV, no central heating and no hot water, and believe me, I was by no means the only one.

When I was twelve years old, my family – my mother, father brother and sister  and me, Mobi – were thrown out onto the street by the court appointed bailiffs as my father had failed to pay his rent arrears. We were homeless and nobody in authority cared.

For the next two months the family was scattered to the far corners of the UK in different homes provided by our friends and relatives who were kind enough to take us in.

So I think you can probably see why I have little sympathy for the teachers and other workers who have been striking to protest cuts in their pension rights and other benefits.

A famous British Prime minister, Harold Macmillan, once said about his fellow countrymen in the early nineteen sixties: ‘Let’s be frank about it; most of our people have never had it so good’

How much more true is that today, despite all the recent economic setbacks?

Illegal Immigration

We all know that there is huge illegal immigration problem in countries such as the USA and the UK, as people from poorer, third world countries aspire to migrate to richer countries where benefits and opportunities are much greater than in the countries of their birth.

There was a time in the history of both countries when immigration was welcomed, but those days are long gone and there is general acknowledgement that enough is enough and that the tide of illegals must be stopped for once and all.

So just taking the USA for a moment, how about introducing laws along the following lines to stem the rising tide of illegal immigrants:

  • Make it a crime for an illegal immigrant to solicit work.
  • Make it a crime to knowingly transport or harbour an illegal immigrant.
  • Allow individuals, companies or government entities to file discrimination lawsuits against companies that dismiss legal workers while hiring illegal immigrants.
  • Require public schools to check the immigration status of students.
  • Allow authorities to hold suspected illegal immigrants without bond.
  • Ban state courts from enforcing contracts involving illegal immigrants.
  • Make it a felony for an illegal immigrant to get drivers licences or do business with the state.
  • Make it an offence for an illegal immigrant not to have immigration papers.
  • Ban illegal immigrants from attending public colleges and junior colleges.
  • Prohibit businesses from claiming tax deductions for wages paid to illegal immigrant employees.
  • Require federal verification of legal status in court proceedings.
  • Make it illegal for motorists to stop on streets or roads to hire temporary workers.

These kind of laws would surely create a climate whereby potential illegal immigrants would think twice before attempting to cross the borders in the future and would send a  chill fear of deportation amongst those who are already there.

Well folks, believe it or not, a set of such rules was recently introduced by the State of Alabama and similar rules have been enacted in neighbouring US States. But they are now being challenged in the courts by the federal government who insist these rules are discriminatory and encourage racial profiling, and in any event, State governments have no right to pass such laws, as all matters relating to immigration are a preserve of the Federal government in Washington.

Furthermore the US liberal lobby has now got into the act and have suggested that Hispanics, even those with with legal status or U.S. citizenship are moving from such  states. They claim that the immigrants believe that the hostile climate oppresses the entire Hispanic community? They say: Why stay when the government launches an assault that splits Latino families and opens the door to racial profiling?

The liberals further claim that there are ‘unintended consequences’ that The lawmakers failed to take into account, especially the contribution immigrant labour was making towards rebuilding areas devastated by this year’s storms. Contractors in Tuscaloosa say Hispanic workers have left and they can’t find replacements to repair the tornado damage.

Republican lawmakers assured sceptics that American workers would be only too happy to step in and take the jobs that immigrants left. Farmers in Alabama and Georgia are still waiting.

Georgia tried giving farm work to prison inmates, until they lost their appetite for backbreaking 10-hour workdays at minimum wage. If inmates were willing to work that hard, they wouldn’t be in prison to begin with.

According to Georgia farm officials, $140 million in crops has been lost because of the state’s labour shortages since the law began in July.

To all those bleeding heart liberals, I say stop confusing the need for temporary, cheap labour with the need to stop illegal immigrants staying in your country and becoming a burden on the State.

If you really have a need for TEMPORARY foreign labour, then organise a visa system to accommodate this need.

If the rules, as enacted by Alabama, were in force then it would be a simple matter for the police and employers to check on the immigration status of temporary workers and allow them to stay until the expiry of their visas. Upon expiry they would be obliged to leave the country as the new so-called ‘hostile’ laws would soon catch up with them if they didn’t.

As for ‘unintended consequences‘ on the new State immigration laws – I reckon that the regular law-abiding  Americans should all be over the moon if all the Hispanics decide to take off.

Surely it is good riddance to them and their illegal families, friends and drug dealers, and can someone tell me why Hispanic families, who have nothing to hide and are 100% legal, should wish to leave? The simple answer is that they do indeed have something to hide – they are probably the centres for the aiding and abetting of illegal activities.

Any Hispanics who do decide to stay would be the legal, law abiding element, and as such could be welcomed into the community.

And if the Yanks haven’t the wit to organise a temporary visa system and can’t find enough white trash or convicted criminals to do the manual work then in this writer’s humble opinion, its tough shit!

It’s time for everyone to wake up and learn that the world doesn’t owe them a living – lazy bastards!!!

I doubt whether there is another country in the world where the government tries to stop the police from weeding out illegal aliens. The American immigration policies are completely insane!!!

In England, as you will see below, the Prime Minister is asking everyone to be a ‘whistle blower’ and turn all the illegals in. They are bleeding the country dry. Yet in the USA, they give them free education and social security and often give them greater rights than ordinary American citizens. Somewhere along the line they have completely lost track of reality…. no wonder the country is on its knees with nowhere to go but down.

Back in the UK, as mentioned above, David Cameron recently appealed for the public to “shop” illegal immigrants as he pledged to reclaim Britain’s borders.

The Prime Minister said he wanted the whole country to help the Government tackle the issue by reporting suspicious individuals.

Note, no ridiculous suggestions of racial profiling on this side of the pond…..

He also insisted that the citizenship test for legal incomers would be rewritten to include questions on British history and signalled a fresh crackdown on forced and bogus marriages.

The moves were revealed as Mr Cameron delivered a keynote speech setting out plans to control immigration.

In future, individuals applying to come to the UK for family reasons will have to show that they can speak English and have the financial means to support themselves as well as genuine family links in Britain.

Family migration made up almost a fifth of non-European Union (EU) immigration last year, but a survey suggested that more than 70% of UK-based family sponsors had an income of less than £20,000 after tax, creating “an obvious risk” that they may become dependent on welfare.

Mr Cameron said the Migration Advisory Committee would consider whether the minimum level of financial support should be higher and whether a “bond” from migrants could be demanded in some cases.

There will be closer checks on claimed relationships between spouses to weed out sham marriages for immigration reasons, including cases where couples divorce immediately after obtaining permission to stay and then make fresh applications relating to different partners.

“We will make migrants wait longer, to show they really are in a genuine relationship before they can get settlement,” Mr Cameron said.

“We’ll also impose stricter and clearer tests on the genuineness of a relationship, including the ability to speak the same language and to know each other’s circumstances.

“We will also end the ridiculous situation where a registrar who knows a marriage is a sham still has to perform the ceremony.”

He added that he wanted the coalition to “go further and be even tougher” on immigration.

“For our part in government, we are creating a new National Crime Agency with a dedicated border policing command which will have responsibility for safeguarding the security of our border,” he said.

“But I want everyone in the country to help, including by reporting suspected illegal immigrants to our Border Agency through the Crime stoppers phone line or through the Border Agency website.

“Together we will reclaim our borders and send illegal immigrants home.”

He said he would rewrite the exam for migrants wishing to take on UK citizenship to ensure that British history and culture – rather than EU institutions and the workings of the benefit system – are at the heart of the tests.

He said he recognised there was “discomfort and tension” in some communities over the arrival of large numbers of migrants and insisted that the Government was not “powerless” to deal with it.

He promised to deliver “fairness for people already living here, working here, contributing here, who worry about finding work, getting a good school for their children and affording a good house”.

“For too long, they have been overlooked in this debate. And it’s time to do right by them,” Mr Cameron said.

The PM also signalled that forcing someone to marry against their will could become a criminal offence.

He announced he was making it illegal to breach an order issued by the courts to prevent a forced marriage and has asked Home Secretary Theresa May to consult on whether the practice should be criminalised in England, Wales and Northern Ireland.

So while I don’t pretend for one minute that the current immigration laws will stem the tide of illegal immigration in Britain, it is at least clear that the government is  trying very hard to do something about it, by make it increasingly difficult for people to circumvent the system and to send the illegals back to their countries of origin. There is an understanding that the ordinary British folk are very unhappy with the situation and their grievances deserve to be addressed as a matter of urgency.

But not so in the USA, where it seems to this observer that there is no will whatsoever by the Obama administration to stem the tide. The rights of illegal Hispanic immigrants seem to take precedence over the rights of long established Caucasian citizens who live in the border sates.

Why? Because the Democrats depend on the Hispanic vote to get them back into office whereas the vast majority of the unhappy Caucasian Americans in the most  affected areas will vote Republican.

BUTT…BUTT…BUTT…I don’t give a hoot…

 

 

The Darkside blogger returns to “Lust”…in more ways than one…

8 Months, 28Days, still sober

Mobi-Babble

Monday was ‘Big Buddha’ day for little Noo.

Last month, when I went to the UK, Noo and her friend had planned to spend 3 nights at the Big Buddha Wat on Pratumnak Hill in Pattaya as Buddhist Nuns. Unfortunately, they didn’t choose their date very wisely and when they turned up on August 12th to ‘sign in’ for their stint as nuns, they were surmised to find the Wat overwhelmed with visitors, and the monks were far too busy to attend to the two budding novitiates. So they had been effectively ‘sent packing’ only to regroup and try again this past Monday.

After picking up her friend from the bus stop down the road on her motorbike and bringing her to our home, I drove the two of them to Wat Phra Yai to try again. This time they were more successful, so Mobi was now on his own for next 3 days!

So what have I been doing with this brief bit of freedom?

As ever – some good things, and some not so good things. Monday saw me meet up with Rick and his wife at a little restaurant /bar down the road for lunch, and after that, I confess I did an extended trawl through some of the ‘fleshpots’ of the Darkside.

I know that I stated in my last blog that I would be cutting right back on this type of activity, but I’m afraid that freedom and temptation got the better of me.  In any case, I never said that I would stop completely, and in all fairness, this was one of the occasions where I could indulge my desires without fear of upsetting anyone.

In point of fact, I can’t honestly say that I enjoyed myself very much. I encountered a number of young ladies that I had known from previous excursions and enjoyed a bit of banter with them and the odd bit of groping, but my heart just wasn’t in it.

I kept moving on to new places, in the hope that something would get my heart racing a bit but I just found it all quite tedious. The ladies were nice enough, sexy enough and willing enough, but I just couldn’t gather up much enthusiasm. I missed my little Noo, and after having an early evening snack at one of the few Darkside bars that serves food, I called it a day and went home.

 

Yesterday I spent the entire day at home, working at my computer and even doing a bit of cooking, when  hunger drove me to the kitchen!

I am pleased to report that at long last I have made some progress on my novel. A recent comment from one of my readers suggested that as I was now sober, I had lost the creative desire or juices necessary to continue with my novel. Well firstly, I would point out the entire new novel writing so far has been undertaken since I have been sober, and in any case, in all the years that I have been a hopeless drunk, I have never written anything, be it stories, bogs or whatever, when I was under the influence of alcohol.

This has always been my golden rule. I want my writing to come from me, Mobi, not from a bottle of whisky. Of course I was often very hung over when I wrote, but never, ever drunk. As soon as I opened the first bottle of beer, or poured the first glass of wine or liquor, I would stop all writing – even my blog.

I have written much in the past 9 months, including some 52,000 words of my new novel. The reasons why I ground to halt were, I think, two-fold. Firstly, my attempts to keep my blog going for at least 3-4 days a week, in order to increase my readership, was draining me and I had no creative juices remaining to attack my novel when I had finished blogging.

The second reason concerned the development of the novel itself. I confess that I hadn’t properly planned out where the novel was actually going, plot-wise. I had a few, somewhat sketchy ideas, but as I had planned that the first few chapters would be largely autobiographical, I decided to get stuck in and assume the detailed plot structure ideas would come later, as they often had in the past.

I was also quite motivated by the notion that a revamping of my ‘life story’ would provide a good basis for my novel, as had been suggested by many, some of them authors in their own right.

But in the end, I came to a shuddering halt. I couldn’t figure out quite how the story would develop followoing the first few chapters, and it was this, just as much as the lack of available free time, that has caused this long period of apparent ‘Writer’s block’.

Quite by chance, it was on my flight back from the UK, that I finally managed get to grips with this problem.

You may recall that I was not in a particularly relaxed  state of mind when I embarked on Thai airways for my journey home – partly because of the recent series of upsets with my sister, and party due to the ‘off limits’, but enticing thighs, barely a few inches to my right. All this made it very hard to get to sleep and after tossing and turning for a few hours, I gave up the unequal struggle and turned my mind to plot structure.

One thing led to another, and a few hours later, I finally worked out in my head what I determined  could be some plausible and workable plot lines. I turned on the overhead light, pulled out my tablet and proceeded to make quick, brief notes of all the plot details to ensure that I wouldn’t forget them after I landed.

So yesterday, I went back to my notes and spent a few hours flushing them out further. I now believe I have the makings of a good yarn, which is less autobiographical and hopefully much more commercial and readable.

The characters already introduced in the original writings will remain as the key players going forward, but I now realise – indeed I have known for a long time – that the character-development is over the top. I have devoted far too much space in recounting the life stories of these people – Na, Bobby and Ying; they are almost novelettes in themselves. So I have decided to re-write these chapters in their entirety to make them shorter, punchier and more interesting.

Also, I will use a technique that I used to some extent in the Chapter on Tobi’s childhood – a series of ‘movie-like’ flash backs to the various notable events in their lives, rather than the long, rambling, chronological accounts that I had previously wrote.

I think that even the chapters on Toby’s early life will need to undergo further shortening and sharpening. I have already done this once but I’m still not completely happy with it, and I have still got quite a way to go in his life, leading up to the disastrous situation he eventually finds himself in present day Pattaya.

I am aware that not all my readers will have the slightest interest in this self-serving, introspection on my unfinished novel, but for the few that are following the progress of my novel, I thought that it would be good idea to share my ‘highs and lows’ with you as the novel progresses. As you can see, it is often one step forward, two steps back, but I want to get it right; ultimately, I want it to be a decent, publishable piece of fiction, even if I never make one cent from it.

In the meantime I am happy to report that as well as filling out the plot lines, I have also made a start on revising Chapter one, and will be continuing with this over the next few days. As soon as it finished, I will publish it on my blog.

Finally on this subject, some of you may have spotted that I have changed the novel title from ‘Som Nam Na’ to ‘Lust’. I is still a provisional title, but it may end up being the real title – who knows?  In the meantime, I feel it is a more relevant and certainly a lot more commercial, than the previous effort.

Whither America?

I read the other day, that despite still being the richest country in the world, the USA now has an incredible 46 million people living below the poverty line.

46 Million! That’s the number of people in a decent size country. In fact out of the 225 countries in the world, only 26 have a greater population than 46 million. Countries such as Spain and Columbia have 46 million and major states such as Canada, Ukraine, Argentina, Poland, Venezuela, Holland, Australia, Austria to name but a few, have considerably less than 46 million.

I fully accept that the definition of what constitutes ‘poverty’ is subject to much argument and controversy, but these are statistics that were published by America’s own Census Bureau

The current figure of 46 million is the highest since the census began tracing poverty in 1959.

Now before my dear American readers, such as Big Skippy, start spouting similar ‘poverty’ percentages in European countries – and in particular my native UK, let’s just remember that, in spite of all that has happened over the past few years, The USA remains the biggest economic power that has ever existed on this planet and is still the richest, by any standards of measurement.

How long that will remain is anybody’s guess, but in my book, a country, in spite of all that has happened, is still the richest in world, can retain, within its borders,  46 million of its citizens living below the poverty line is a damning indictment in the way that the USA is being run in 2011.

For many decades, certainly since the Second World War, the free world has looked to America for moral and economic leadership, but increasingly in recent years, I regret that most of the world has become utterly disillusioned, on both counts.

 

So what went wrong? The collapse of the Soviet Union and communist Eastern Europe and the dire sate of countries such as Cuba and North Korea in the modern world is testament to the fact that extreme socialist principals never work. Indeed, it is only by embracing many of the principals of capitalism that countries such as China, (soon to overtake the USA as the world’ largest economic power), and to a lesser extent Vietnam, have succeeded in becoming modern economic powerhouses.

So where and how did America lose it? The jury is still out, but I believe that history will record that the decline of America followed a decline in moral leadership and the corresponding hi-jacking of government by the money-grabbing, power seeking, vested interests: banks, lawyers, commercial and manufacturing conglomerates and the like, who for many decades have dictated American economic policies and laws and whose lobbyist have had a total, life-sapping stranglehold over the Federal government.

There is probably more ‘legal corruption’ between the Washington lobby groups and members of the US Congress than the more blatant, so-called illegal corruption that exists in counties such as Thailand.

A classic example of this is the recent Solyndra scandal where no less than 535 million dollars was wasted on what was effectively a corrupt, and now bankrupt solar energy company – one of Obama’s shining new examples of ‘investing for jobs and the future in green energy projects.’

 

For those of you who follow American politics, you will know that the Solyndra scandal is just the tip of the iceberg. Wherever you look – American business and/or America lifestyle – from the corrupt justice system to the incompetent secret services, (buying and selling guns to Mexican criminals), to the utter failure to control their borders for fear of upsetting the Latino voting lobby (corrupt or what???). All you can see is doom, despair and…. corruption?

American-style capitalism and political partisanship has become so utterly corrupt that there is little hope of a quick solution. The country is fast becoming a failed state. Their education system is third rate; held to ransom by the powerful teachers’ unions who maintain incompetent, corrupt teachers in the posts for the rest of their working lives, bankrupting their cities and States in the process.

The states and cities are further extorted by all powerful public sector unions who refuse to accept any redundancies in their work forces and refuse to discuss changes to their generous pension schemes, even though there is clearly no money left in the kitty to pay for it all. Generations of American politicians, at Federal, State and City level, have given into these lobbyists and agreed ridiculous employment and pension deals which have never been sustainable, and are in effect sophisticated Ponzi schemes, as no funds were ever set up to pay for it all, and the politicians simply hoped they would all be long gone before the day of reckoning arrived.

 

Well folks, it looks like the day of reckoning is almost here and your beloved leader, the estimable Barrack Obama, who was swept into Washington on a ticket of ‘It’s time for Change’ has started campaigning early for his re-election.

With his head in the sand, he preaches to his left-wing, union-loving faithful,  and steadfastly refuses to take any serious action to get his country out of the mess they are in and even refuses to acknowledge the dire need to drastically reduce their budget deficits.

 

Did you know that the poorest city in America is a town called Camden?

Here is what it looks like today.

 

Camden is in the state of New Jersey and is located across the Delaware River from Philadelphia, Pennsylvania. As of the 2010 United States Census, the city had a total population of 77,344

Although once a thriving centre for manufacturing and industry, Camden is perhaps best known for its struggles with urban dysfunction.

No less than three Camden mayors have been jailed for corruption, the most recent being Milton Milan in 2000.  In 2005 the school system and police department were taken over and have been operated by the State of New Jersey; the takeover will expire in 2012.

In 2008, Camden had the highest crime rate in the U.S. with 233 violent crimes per 10,000 people while the national average was 45 per 10,000. Two out of every five residents are below the national poverty line. After many years of economic and industrial growth, the city of Camden now faces years of rising crime and blight.

 

To me, Camden is a microcosm of what is happening to America. Once a thriving community, it lost its way and became bogged down by endless City corruption, an increasing crime rate and was mismanaged by the public sector unions who ran down the schools and police department to such an appalling extent that the State had to take them over. Multiply this across the vast American sub-continent…

Whither America….

BUTT… BUTT…BUTT…BUTT… I don’t give a hoot!

It’s a walk on the Darkside, then ‘Au Revoir’ for a while.

Continue reading “It’s a walk on the Darkside, then ‘Au Revoir’ for a while.”