It has been more than a month since the Citizenship Amendment Act or the CAA was passed by both the houses of the Indian parliament. The protests that started immediately following the passage have continued unabated for over a month despite more than thirty deaths due to heavy handed police tactics. Many more have been imprisoned on flimsy charges for excercising their right of free speech and assembly.
In state after state, in towns large and small and cities, on college campuses, at the court houses, at historic venues, the anti-CAA protesters are registering their protest against the body blow to India’s founding principles by singing the national anthem and reciting the preamble to the constitution.
After the passage of the bill in mid-December a feeling of helplessness enveloped me. I was afraid for India’s Muslims and other vulnerable groups. The rise of the BJP from a bit player on the political scene to its current status is built on the demonization of Muslims and anti-Muslim pogroms. Those fears were realized when reports of the brutal police actions in the Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP) led states, especially in Uttar Pradesh started trickling in.
The CAA takes aim at the heart of the Indian Constitution by singling out Muslims and treating them differently than adherents of other religions. This bill along with the BJP’s government’s plan to construct a National Register of Citizens would be a living nightmare not just for the 100 million plus Muslim population but also the poor and dispossessed. The NRC conducted in Assam gives us a window on how a similar exercise conducted on a national scale would turn out.
The BJP had tried to pass this law in an earlier session of the Parliament but it died because they didn’t have the numbers to pass it through the upper house, Rajya Sabha prior to the elections last May. But after gaining an imposing majority in the Lok Sabha in the last elections, this time around many smaller parties decide to go along with the BJP’s agenda in the Rajya Sabha and the bill passed both the Houses easily.(Left to Right : The Sangh role model, Mr. Modi in the Sangh uniform)
WereBear is back with an update on Bud and Lou and to answer your burning cat questions.
New year, new discoveries. Like them or not, we all need to keep developing by acting on our continuing realizations. This goes for cats, too.
I shook up the household by adopting pair-bonded kittens. It didn’t take them long to charm most other beings. Still, even though fall has turned into winter, we still have two Isolationist Cats who refuse to enter Kitten Country.
And that’s okay. As I shared in a recent post:
The kitten brain is like a butterfly house. Beautiful to look at, always in motion.
Lou and Bud with a puzzlebox
Kittens can be disconcerting to cats who are happiest with a sense of orderly scheduling. But there’s also another element, a psychological one. Just as intense contact with children reminds us of our own childhoods, so it is with cats.
The two Isolationist Cats had a rocky beginning, as rescues often do. Olwyn adjusted readily to baby Mithrandir, whose Gamma meekness and ability to self-play kept him unobtrusive.
Bud and Lou are the opposite. They approach other cats and invite play. They will flank with mirror moves like an Impossible Mission Force. They are Alphas, so their friendship is bold and assertive. This makes shy cats like Mithrandir feel pressured. It makes bossy cats like Olwyn feel one-upped.
Lou enjoying his kingdom
So, while Mithrandir will come to the door and ring the temple bells for entry, he has yet to come in. Olwyn is happy spending time in the bedroom with Mr WayofCats, who is still recovering from a serious setback from a year ago.
I’ve often seen how a well-adjusted cat will seem to regress when presented with a kitten. I decided it was more than uncertainty about this new little being. I think it’s also about what the little being helps them remember about their own kittenhood.
While RJ was held as evidence in an abuse case, it hasn’t affected his big muffiny heart, or his social outlook. He adores kittens, and giving him two at once has put him on a kitten-wrangling career high.
Tristan getting some adoration
On the other hand, Olwyn is a tortoiseshell cat with abundant Tortitude. She maintains she was never really a kitten, and arrived ready for World Domination. While Mithy’s feral caution and Gamma shyness keeps him unready to make a decision: and cross a threshold.
At three weeks old, Tristan had several bad hours after his abandoned mother abandoned him. (Three weeks later she abandoned his sister, who also got a home.) But since then, he’s been Prince of the City.
His main problem with the kittens was about being invited to play when he hadn’t studied them yet. We replaced an aging cat tree with a new one, just for him. He can sit on it and watch the kittens work all their toys and race up and down their own cat tree.
Once he had a strategy, he thawed. Now, they gazelle-leap over him on the regular. If he doesn’t feel like playing, he has places to go. Though when I told him I saw him playing with the kittens, I got a press release pointing out they were chasing him, and he was letting them.
Which doesn’t necessarily mean he is actually playing with them. They are, after all, clueless beanheads. My frequent reminders that “they have no sense” soothes Tristan. They are supposed to be puzzling, and after all, he likes puzzles.
As I told him, Bud and Lou will be delightful sidekicks who want to play Cat Tree Games. I got them for him.
That’s my story, and I’m sticking to it.
Discover the Way of Cats: BLOG My book: Way of Cats: How to use their instincts to train, understand, and love them Get the latest kitten pics on Twitter.
In my cat world, after a year and 2 months, Gabe seems to have finally decided to become his own cat. He demands his place on the bed now, which is often sprawled (how is he sooo long?) from my hip to my shoulders, with a paw touching my cheek. This has sparked a bit of jealously with Zander, who will now take that spot when available. I let that go on for a few minutes with each and then send them on their way because it’s impossible to sleep like that. They are still best friends. Emma tolerates him and Gabe has stopped trying to win her over and is satisfied to know she won’t kill him in his sleep.
The cutest thing, I believe he has a crush on Scout. I often find him lying next to her on the bed (brave, because Danes are not known for their spatial awareness) and wherever she is, he is close by.
I have a few BJ pet pix to post this week, and I’m happy to post yours. Send them my way.
How are everyone else’s critters doing?
Respite open thread
Commenter The Mighty Trowel, who lives in Australia, sent me a guest post on the Australia fires:
I’m mostly a lurker these days; but this seemed an apt time to stick my head above the parapet. I’m an American, but I’ve lived in Australia for the last 8 years.
I’m sure by now you’ve seen coverage of the bushfire crisis we’re currently enduring Down Under. Photographs of red skies, tall flames, native fauna fleeing and burnt out houses have gone global. It’s on the cover of all our papers too – also on all our minds, especially those of us (like me) that live in the southeast in fire-prone areas. I asked Adam if I could write this guest post because I wanted an excuse to talk through this ongoing crisis to an audience I didn’t have to constantly reassure about my own safety (yes, I’m safe), but I also notice that some of the local context is (surprise) missing in the international coverage.
This has been the most destructive bushfire season in Australian history. So far (and we’re only halfway through fire season!) nearly 6 million hectares have burnt, at least 1300 homes have burnt down and nearly 20 people have died (including three firefighters – more on that in a minute) with nearly 20 more unaccounted for. Out of control fires have been burning in Queensland and New South Wales (NSW) since September, in South Australia, West Australia and Tasmania since November. Most of these fires started with lightning strikes, but there have been a few cases of arson and others where backburning (controlled burns to use up fuel and protect inhabited areas) has escaped containment. These fires have devastated communities, killing tens of thousands of sheep and cattle, but they’ve also ripped through natural habitats and populations of native fauna. Current estimates suggest that at least (AT LEAST) 30% of NSW koalas have been killed by the fires.
To give a sense of the scale of the disaster, here’s a map published by the Insurance Council of Australia with highlighting areas of ‘insurance catastrophes’:
— Luke Henriques-Gomes (@lukehgomes) January 1, 2020
With a disaster of this scale, it’s unsurprising that the firefighting crews are thin on the ground. But there’s context here that also needs stating: while there are a number of professional, paid units (though the right wing New South Wales government keeps cutting their budgets and reducing their numbers), much of the work protecting communities, clearing roads and building containment lines is being done by volunteers like the CFS and RFS. Volunteers are the ones dying as they drive through dangerous fire grounds. Many have reported that their own houses have burnt while they helped neighbours protect theirs. The work they are doing is literally saving lives, but they’ve been doing this life-threatening, high stress job for months with no pay, few resources and little support beyond thoughts and prayers from our ‘leaders’ (in recent days, faced with the scale of the crisis and the backlash from the Australian public) the PM has promised some compensation to some volunteer firies and required the civil service to give all volunteers a month paid leave to fight fires.
State and federal environmental departments, academics and fire chiefs had all warned that this year had the potential for a monstrous fire season. Local fire departments and volunteer organisations (the country fire authority in Victoria, the rural fire service in NSW, the country fire service in South Australia) spent as much of the winter as possible backburning, but the winter was short and dry – dangerous conditions for controlled burns. We’re in the midst of an incredibly severe drought and major climatic patterns have contributed to a particularly hot, dry winter and spring. This means that not only are plants dried out and dying (more fuel for fires to burn) but the air and soil are thoroughly dehydrated too which allows fire to spread faster.
I highly recommend reading this piece by the brilliant Prof Nerilie Abram for the scientific and climatic context. As she writes:
The angry summer playing out in Australia right now was predictable. The scientific evidence is well known for how anthropogenic greenhouse gas emissions are causing long-term climate change and altering climate variability in ways that increase our fire risk. The role of climate change in the unprecedented fires gripping Australia is also well understood by our emergency services. Sadly, though, this summer has occurred against a backdrop in which the Australian government has argued, on the world stage, to scale back our greenhouse-gas-emissions-reduction targets. Our leaders are literally fiddling while the country burns.
Because that’s the thing… we knew this was coming, but the pollies have buried their heads in the sand in a way that reminds me ominously of Bush and co post Katrina. Our Prime Minister Scott Morrison (who once showed up to parliament with an ornamental lump of coal) has been absent from the conversation (literally in the case of the week he spent cavorting in Hawaii while western Sydney and the Blue Mountains burned).
View this post on Instagram
The response to this mural has been a bit spesh🤗 Big thanks to anyone who has purchased a print or Tee. So far we have raised almost $15,000 which is pretty incredible. 🙏🏼🎅🏼 Prints and Tshirts will be remain available into the new year so spread the word! A massive thankyou again goes to @aisle6ix for donating their time and expertise to print the Tees🙌🏼 #merrycrisis #climatecrisis #climatechange #australiasburning #rfs #scomo
The NSW emergency services minister is currently refusing to return from Paris where he’s holidaying with family. No state of national emergency has been declared even though 5 states are facing unprecedented emergencies and the Australian Defense Forces are (after considerable delay) having to rescue people from beaches in fire-affected communities that now have no water, electricity, telephone services or road access. For the record, Labour (our centre left party and chief opposition) have been pretty awful – they’re also cosying up to coal extraction companies and the current party leader is inarticulate at best)
I’ve been asking myself for days why the PM and others are so reluctant to lift a finger. Consensus among friends and colleagues is that it would mean acknowledging climate change is a real and destructive force that must be reckoned with. Conspiracies floating around the internet suggest that the PM wants the fire to clear land so he can sell it for profit to cronies and overseas consortia. I think it’s simpler than any of these:
No one is holding these politicians to account for their inaction and their abdication of leadership, so they’re not bothering to lead.
More than that, a clear campaign of misinformation is being conducted by the Murdoch press and through anonymous facebook and twitter accounts that bushfires are normal for Australia and that the fires are all set by arsonists or are the fault of “greenies” who prevent backburning (despite only holding power in the Australian Capitol Territory (ACT) which is currently not on fire—though it is swamped in toxic smoke).
Climate change just seems to be too large for politicians with their notoriously short attention spans and transactional philosophies to get their heads around. The political class is so far out of their depth that they’re drowning in public and don’t even realise it. I genuinely don’t know what happens next.
If there’s an upside to these fires it’s that their enormity might be the one thing that can unite communities that have been set against each other on the basis of race, immigration, class, etc. for generations. We just have to live through them first.
Anyhow, here’s a magpie singing like a fire engine.
When the birds start singing fire engine sounds… 😧
Credit: Gregory Andrews, Newcastle. pic.twitter.com/g11BMry1HC
— Isobel Roe (@isobelroe) January 1, 2020
Donations can be made to:
Red Cross bushfire disaster relieve and recovery fund: https://www.redcross.org.au/campaigns/disaster-relief-and-recovery-new-years-eve?utm_source=twitter&utm_medium=socialorganic&utm_campaign=201913_drr_disaster-relief-and-recovery_don_transient_bushfires_none
Country Fire Authority: https://www.cfa.vic.gov.au/about/supporting-cfa
South Australian Country Fire Service: https://cfsfoundation.org.au/donate
Community support org Givit, active nationally: http://www.givit.org.au/donate-funds
Emergency Management Victoria community relief fund: https://www.emv.vic.gov.au/news/community-relief-fund-launched-to-support-fire-affected-communities
Some affected community members have launched GoFundMe’s for their towns – this is one the Australian Broadcasting Corporation posted, so I assume it’s legit: https://www.gofundme.com/f/xycjem-cudgewa-has-burnt?utm_source=twitter&utm_medium=social&utm_campaign=p_cp+share-sheet
A belated guest post from our beloved Schlemazel, written in 2012.
NOVEMBER 23, 2012 AT 2:38 PM
I am 8 years old. Some of my little friends say there is no war on Christmas. Papa says, ‘If you see it on FAUX News it’s so.’ Please tell me the truth; is there a War on Christmas?
115 WEST NINETY-FIFTH STREET
No war on Christmas?
VIRGINIA, your little friends are wrong. They have been affected by rationality in an irrational age. They do not believe except they see. They think that nothing can be which is not provable by rational observation. All minds, Virginia, whether they be men’s or children’s, can be little. The reaction to this great universe of ours can be for man to be a mere insect, an ant, in his intellect, as compared with the boundless world about him, as measured by the intelligence capable of grasping the whole of truth and knowledge.
Yes, VIRGINIA, there is a war on Christmas. It exists as certainly as hate and stinginess and demagoguery exist, and you know that they abound and give to their life its highest ugly and lowest meaning. Alas! How merry might be the world if there were a war on Christmas. It might be as merry as if there were no teabagers. There would be no inchoate hate then, no petty sniping, no panic to make less tolerable this existence. We should have enjoyment, except in insensate cruelty and slights. The eternal light with which childhood fills the world would be increased.
Not believe in the war on Christmas! You might as well not believe in T-bone eating Bucks! You might get your papa to hire men to watch all of FAUX News to catch the war dispatches, but even if they did not witness BillO frothing at the mouth, what would that prove? Nobody sees the war on Christmas, but that is a sign that there is a real war on Christmas. The most real things in the world are those that neither children nor men can see (according to FAUX News). Did you ever see welfare queens driving Cadillacs on the lawn? Of course not, but that’s no proof that they are not there. Nobody can conceive or imagine all the evils there are unseen and unseeable in the world.
No war on Christmas!? Thank God! it lives, and it lives forever. A thousand years from now, Virginia, nay, ten times ten thousand years from now, it will continue to make mad the ‘brains’ of morans.
Merry Christmas, everyone! Much love to all those who have gone before us, and can longer be with us.
From our indefatigable Schroedinger’s Cat:
Protests have roiled India over the weekend. The Bharatiya Janata Party has become the Bharat Jalao Party (Burn India Party). Last week the Citizenship Amendment Bill become the Citizenship Amendment Act. According to the bill minorities from Bangladesh, Pakistan and Afghanistan will be eligible for refugee status. The bill excludes Muslims. Neither does it cover Tibetan or Sri Lankan refugees.
The Citizenship (Amendment) Act, 2019 of the Parliament of India amended the Citizenship Act of 1955 providing a path to Indian citizenship for religious minorities from Pakistan, Bangladesh and Afghanistan. The intended religious minorities were explicitly listed as Hindus, Sikhs, Buddhists, Jains, Parsis and Christians, raising concerns that Muslims were being marginalised. The beneficiaries had to have entered India on or before 31 December 2014, and should have faced “religious persecution or fear of religious persecution” in their countries of origin. The Act also relaxed residence requirement for naturalization from 11 years to 5 years for these migrants.
This bill along with the BJP’s government’s plan to construct a National Register of Citizens portends doom for India’s 100 million plus Muslim population. BJP had tried to pass it in an earlier session of the Parliament but it died because they didn’t have the numbers to pass it through the upper House, Rajyasabha. But after gaining a imposing majority in the Loksabha in the last elections, this time around many smaller parties decide to go along with the BJP agenda in the Rajyasabha this time and the bill passed both the Houses easily.
The India of my childhood is being dismantled by the BJP. In our textbooks there used to be a Pledge.
India is my country and all Indians are my Brothers and Sisters. I love my country and I am proud of its rich and varied heritage. I shall always strive to be worthy of it.
I shall give respect to my parents, teachers and all the elders and treat everyone with courtesy.
To my country and my people, I pledge my devotion. In their well being and prosperity alone, lies my happiness.
Even as a child it seemed hopelessly naïve and idealistic to me. And God knows we did not live up to that ideal always but that was a worthy ideal to strive towards. The agenda of BJP, is the agenda of the RSS (Rashrtriya Swayam Sevak Sangh) or Sangh , the political off shoot of the black hats and brown shorts wearing all male volunteer organization is antithetical to both the pledge and the preamble to the Indian Constitution.
The Sangh’s plan for India has always been clear, to rid India of its religious minorities, especially its Muslims, or relegate them to an inferior or a secondary status. Their ideology asserts that if India becomes a Hindu Rashtra, all its problems will vanish into thin air. When the BJP was able to form a government on their own strength after the general elections last May, I knew that their long awaited ideological project would gather full steam.
It started with Kashmir by taking away the statehood of India’s only Muslim majority state, changing the criteria of which refugees can become citizens is the logical next step. What comes after this is the National Citizenship Register, whereby one has to prove their citizenship. The NRC has been applied to the northeastern state of Assam with disastrous consequences, making over a million Indians stateless. You don’t have to be an expert on Indian politics to know who is the target of these actions.
To this murder of the Indian Constitution, not so fast say the students and ordinary citizens of India. Protests have gathered steam all across India including on college and university campuses and elsewhere…Continued at the Schroedinger’s Cat blog
It’s finally stopped snowing. Boulder got two feet, luckily we got a little less, but it still took me most of the day to get the driveway and sidewalks shoveled. I miss my old neighbor who would surprise me by shoveling the sidewalks, “so Bixby had a safe place to walk.” I still have to email his photos of the pups since he moved away.
On to the main attraction. WereBear has been sweet enough to share her new kittens with us once again. And at her suggestion, my cats are probably getting a ceramic water fountain for the holiday.
Take it away WereBear
We have been blessed with a couple of extraordinary kittens. I know I’m biased as a proud Pet Parent, but it’s true. Bud Abbott and Lou Costello were approximately 3.5 months old when we adopted them from a feral colony rescue operation.
They are six months old now, moving into teenager territory right on schedule. For a couple of cats who are Alpha Cat Type, that is. They always put the pedal to the metal.
My system of three cat types, Alpha, Beta, and Gamma, was inspired by the classic science fiction novel Brave New World. But I’m not programming people from birth to “fit” into their designated social stratum. I’m recognizing the genetic inheritance of cats from three main branches of of the different breeds. Alpha = Siamese, and all the delightful Asian continent cats who followed.
Bud and Lou
As I learned to my chagrin, Siamese and their mixes mature early. They are long, lean, high energy cats. As kittens they are pot-belled, bat-eared, gazelle hybrids. As seen in my nickname Monkey Cats, they are also paws-on. They like to act on the environment directly, and are serenely confident in their ability to do so.
We already had an Alpha Cat Type, the nine year old “failed foster,” Sir Tristan, Lord of Pickledish, Duke of Gherkin. From above, teen cat Tristan looked like a dill pickle spear, and the nicknames flowed from there. He is one wild cat, and I’m not talking about only his personality. He has stripes, spots, and ticking (the white tips) which can come and go like frost on a windowpane as fur grows out and starts over. I think Alpha Cat Types are the original issue, since they often so closely resemble their African wildcat ancestors.
Bud and Lou already love to play his favorite Cat Tree Games. This will only ramp up as the kittens grow in power. They have already made Mr WayofCats charge up his cordless drill to fix the cat tree they tipped over. The others are already screwed into the sub-flooring, through the carpet. Because Tristan grew up here, too.
I have a weakness for teen cats. They are so often misunderstood. To the casual glance, they look like already grown cats. But inside, they have the delicate feelings and mental goofiness of the babies they still are. There’s one more thing about teen cats that I wish more people knew. This is the age where they start playing Cat Poker.
Cat Poker is what I call the independence game cats play as their brains mature. As kittens, affection usually comes easily. But as adulthood starts calling, they want an egalitarian relationship. Which means they aren’t always going to come to us. They now want to take turns initiating affection.
This is often when people give up on them. As epitomized by the infamous saying, “You know the problem with kittens? They grow up to be cats.” I bristle at this. There’s nothing wrong with cats. That’s a relationship of equals, with depth and continued development. If, that is, we know how to play The Game right back.
Right now, Lou, the one with the most white, will charge at me and demand extravagant affection, with both hands petting him and mutual forehead rubbing. While he kneads and drools and makes delightful chirping and chirring noises. Bud, as the straight man, is subtle. He will insinuate himself nearer and nearer, until he gets into my lap and melts. Then I scoop up stray legs and keep him from sliding to the floor.
The next step in this most important game will likely be Bud taking even more time to drift by. He might wait for an invitation instead of leaping into my lap with such abandon he bangs his head on the bottom of the desk. (I pick him up first, now.) Lou is such a mosh pit of a kitten his Game is going to be one where he “can’t stand the suspense,” and quickly feel hurt if I don’t notice him.
If we don’t see the growing kitten as much as we used to, it might be our fault. I call this Cat Poker because we “see” their loving gestures, and then our teen cat will expect us to “raise the stakes” by seeking them out and being even more affectionate. Then, they will “see and raise” us in return.
Have we not seen our teen cat lately? It might be our turn. If we need to seek out the cat, seek out the cat.
This is the Game of Cat Love.
TaMara again. Hit the comments with your own cat questions, photos and pet brags.
Noted English upper-class inbred Jacob Rees-Mogg blames victims of catastrophic fire for lack of common sense, failing to flee through staircases ablaze in flames and carbon monoxide. pic.twitter.com/QRCMhH2wYc
— DPRK News Service (@DPRK_News) November 5, 2019
Boosted from the comments section, blog favourite Tony Jay:
And they’re off!!!
Yes, finally, about bloody time as well. As what will almost certainly be the most important national election in British History since 1979 gets underway the presumed frontrunner, a much-fancied thoroughbred with an awful lot of big money riding on his ample posterior, has already emptied his bowels straight out of the gate, slip-slid on skittering legs straight into the very first fence and now lies, twitching and whinnying, on the much befouled track as multiple sobbing Paramedi(a)cs try desperately to get him back in the race, while from the stands a grim faced Judge begins his descent, mercy-piece cocked and at the ready.
Is that a metaphor or an analogy? Why don’t I understand things? I blame someone.
If you’ve been listening to British Media outlets cover the topic of UK politics at any point over the last millennium (has it only been two years? Really? Is that all?) you’d almost certainly have come away with the distinct impression that this Election was very much a dead rubber. Labour were totes doomed, the Liberal Democrats were on the surge and, though the SNP were due to wipe out all the other parties in Scotland with their message of “Drank mah pish, y’anglash cants”, the only thing standing between the Tory Party of Alexander Boris de Pfeffel Johnson and an absolute majority in Parliament was the foreign-backed influence project known colloquially as ‘The Brexit Party’ and its intermittently confrontational national Gauleiter, Nigel Farage. This narrative wasn’t just set in stone, it was perma-frozen there by an unchallenged certainty that “Boris”, as his journalistic fans insist on calling him, was simply far too witty and nimble and beloved by the Average Voter for his impression of a jolly decent cove just trying hard to do the absolute best he could on behalf of Queen and Country for anyone on the Opposition benches to lay a glove on him. He’d have this all wrapped up in a matter of days and the only question was how big his win would be.
It would be an understatement of pron-cocktacular proportions to say that this narrative has proven to be, ahem, somewhat flawed.
Where do we even start with the meth-brained way the Tories have gone about the relatively well-defined business of getting themselves elected by actual living voters rather than the access-journalists they used to go to school with?
Let’s begin with Jacob Rees-Mogg, the huffily anachronistic Tory spokesman for the Department of Why Good Blood Will Out, Sirrah!, who took time away from lurking noncorporeally in the blighted ether twixt Dream and Nightmare to go on the radio and pronounce in clipped tones of flat finality that the many of the 72 poor, foreign-born peasants who burnt to death in the Grenfell Fire Tragedy back in 2017 had only themselves to blame for lacking the simple common-sense to ignore the Fire Brigade’s clear instructions to remain in their homes and instead move downstairs, perhaps to the shelter of the family crypt, or possibly the main wine-cellar, where they could have at least enjoyed a nice glass or two of Merlot while awaiting rescue. It didn’t take long for the stench of Rees-Mogg’s comments to breed pushback from the lower classes, and soon he was forced to release a statement in which he clarified that he was, of course, terribly sorry to have been unclear in his original wording and had in fact meant to say entirely the opposite of whatever it was the peons had taken offense to.
Ever the good little Conservative the BBC’s Political Editor Laura Kuenssberg was quick to praise Moggy for the speed of his apology after his ‘gaffe’. I’m sure you meant well, you bargain-basement Halbermann, but I’m afraid you didn’t help. ‘Gaffe’? People asked. What ‘gaffe’? Sneering at dead people for not having the intelligence to ignore mere functionaries isn’t a gaffe, it’s what you do when you’re a Tory scumbag trying to redirect blame away from the private contractor who broke the law to clad the building in cut-price flammable material and the local Tory council who studiously ignored all of the warnings and complaints from the tenants because they didn’t have any financial incentive to give a shit what the serfs were jibber-jabbering about.
Obviously, the next step was to bring in a professional crisis-manager, someone with the nous and the guile to pluck Rees-Mogg from the jaws of peril and fob-off the angry common folk until the Media had got bored and moved on. Obviously, yes, but that bit of common-sense didn’t occur to the mavens down at Conservative Central, because instead they wheeled out oyster-mouthed Brextremist wind-instrument and all-round blistering fuckwit Andrew Bridgen, a sad-trombone sound effect of a man who knows he was lucky to feature in the first series of the inexplicably popular reality-show ‘Britain Does Brexit’ and is so desperate to eke out his 15-minutes of fame that he’ll appear on late-night Japanese TV with a live squid hanging out of his rectum if that’s what it takes to stay ‘relevant’. His argument was that, while Rees-Mogg’s comments were “uncharacteristically clumsy”, his good friend was so “intelligent and compassionate” that what he’d clearly meant to say was that he would simply have given the residents better advice than those know nothing “experts” with their “plans” and “regulations”. Trust a Brextremist to advocate blind obedience to the ill-informed, that’s more or less their native credo. Sorry, Andrew, you’re never going to get that invite to Moggy’s country estate. You’re neither wealthy nor well-born enough, and under that cheap cologne you smell like a prole.
Moving on, there’s the matter of the Intelligence Report on Russian Interference in British Politics, including but not confined to the 2016 Election, which should have been released weeks ago but is now being kept on the down low until after the 2019 Election. Everyone involved in its creation and clearance has affirmed that it’s gone through all of the necessary stages of expert classification and is ready to be released to Parliament and the public in time to be useful, what with a General Election only weeks away. So, what’s the problem? Johnson, of course. He won’t release it. Various BS reasons have been advanced, none of them lasting very long under the intense heat of very mild questioning, and it’s coming down to the simplest of Occam’s Razors: it’s not being released because Johnson and his advisors (mainly long-term Russophile Dominic Cummings) are petrified of what’s in it.
Balloon Juice has its very own lurker fire chief. And he has done a guest post for us on fire fighting and emergency management. Specifically in regard to oil train fires. His post below is adapted from a paper he is presenting this week at a professional conference and he should be around in the comments to answer any on topic questions you might have. Without further ado, I give you Fire Chief Jim Appleton.
I was the fire chief in the 2016 oil train derailment and fire in Mosier, Oregon.
I’ve been a Balloon Juice lurker and sparse commenter for over fifteen years, whenever The Poorman sent a bunch of us here to laugh at John. FSM, I miss The Poorman. And Ken.
I’ll be speaking in Chicago on Thursday and Friday later this week on a couple of panels about oil trains. Links below. Any big-shouldered BJers interested are encouraged to attend and/or spread the word. Please meet and greet! My schedule is not conducive for a separate meet up.
The panel organizer invited me based on a couple of my public statements during the emergency. My position then and now has been a call for banning oil trains, from the perspective of an emergency manager.
But my understanding of the issues has evolved considerably.
Like many, when I first saw what I was dealing with that hot Friday afternoon, I knew the monster as a “bomb train.”
Having been through the response and a lot of training and contacts, I now say that calling them bomb trains is an effective rallying cry, but it’s wrong for technical reasons and problematic because the term is dangerously and erroneously alarming, and because it misses the real threats, which are toxic release and fire. The concentration of risk in trains consisting entirely of oil is what makes them so insanely dangerous.
The activists who speak about “blast zones” and explosions are scaring a lot of people who need to know that those potential hazards are not likely to kill them. And that the real threats are potentially more insidious and more common than most people know.
They justify that focus by pointing to one source — the federally approved hazardous materials response guide which all agencies are required to use.
That guide groups oil fires with other flammable liquids into a one-size-fits-all set of steps to ensure public safety during the first thirty minutes of any incident involving those materials.
The guideline sets a half-mile evacuation distance. Again, assuming a worst case for a whole class of hazards. Based on that, a common misconception of a half-mile “blast zone” has become a defining characteristic of oil train activism.
But, as we learned in Mosier, oil trains seldom explode. When they do, it’s from a high-energy accident in which huge amounts of oil are released.
And even then, oil tanker explosions are not as violent as portrayed.
There is no supersonic shock wave, just a lot of heat and a spectacular mushroom cloud of burning vapor. The image is terrifying. And oil tanker explosions have killed people. But only from heat, not from violent detonation.
In Mosier, we knew in the first hour that there was no risk of explosion. There just wasn’t enough heat to cause them.
That’s far more typical of oil train accidents. The exceptions are few and well known — Lac Megantic, Casselton.
Reliable statistics on oil train accidents are hard to come by.
Suffice it to say, there are a lot more than you probably think. They are not widely known because they tend to be in the middle of nowhere and consequences are seldom newsworthy.
Mosier was exceptional only because it happened in a populated area close to a major media market.
Sooner or later, there will be another oil train accident which will top the news cycle because it harms critical infrastructure, a metropolitan center, or an irreplaceable natural resource.
It’s a matter of time.
And the damage done will not be from violent explosions.
It will be from toxic liquid oil, or fire.
The Mosier incident was a fairy tale as oil train accidents go. The amount of oil released, less than 50,000 gallons, is near the low end of the scale. No one was hurt. Even during the cleanup with all kinds of hazards and heavy equipment, not one person even requested a bandaid. And there was no property damage, other than in the railroad right of way, and relatively minimal damage to the municipal wastewater treatment plant, which was quickly repaired at the railroad’s expense.
If the next one happens, say, on the Burlington Northern line along the Flathead River by Glacier National Park, crews could take days just to reach the site because of terrain and lack of roads. During that time, pristine river and wilderness would be left alone with whatever the accident spawns.
Same goes for one which burns up part of downtown Spokane or Seattle.
Call them “very incredibly toxic napalm trains,” I’m OK.
Finally, the regulatory logjam and Trumpist dick-swinging which has actually rolled back oil train safety measures as well as obstructing cheap, common sense enhancements is one of, sadly, many priorities which are likely to be secondary to more important changes requiring expensive political effort in coming years. And that assumes Trump goes, one way or another.
Thanks, as always, to Schroedinger’s Cat:
Indian Prime Minister Narendra Modi has a rally scheduled in Houston this Sunday. WalMart is one of the sponsors and the President of the United States has promised to attend along with an estimated 50,000 attendees.
What bright future are we talking about? The Indian economy is in the doldrums, minority populations live in fear, rapists are not arrested if they belong to the ruling party while activists fighting for the rights of the dispossessed languish in jail without a trial. As for dreams, the dream of a Hindutva dominated India where minorities are persecuted and dissenting voices are silenced, sounds more like a nightmare. Where the truth is sacrificed at the altar of political expediency and history is rewritten to service the ideology of hate.
Why is Modi doing this? My guess is for the publicity and for the $$. It’s also a reward for those among the diaspora who opened their wallets for Modi’s reelection. This rally would give the Prime Minister a much needed PR boost internationally after the draconian anti-democratic steps being taken in Kashmir since August 4th. It will show his fans and supporters back home in India that India has the world’s respect. Getting the US president who routinely demonizes immigrants, to a rally attended mostly by immigrants is definitely a PR coup for team Modi.
I was actually surprised that the White House accepted the invitation. Indian Americans have voted heavily for Democratic candidates in the recent past, see the figure below. Some have suggested that the crowd size may have been the irresistible attraction. Besides the fact that the Hindu right has deep pockets.
In addition to the President, 60 other elected leaders of both parties have promised to attend according to the organizers. Here is the list of those whose names appear in the news dispatch.
Sheila Jackson Lee
Sylvia Garcia, Greg Abbot
Firstpost is reporting that Steny Hoyer is also going to attend.
Check if your representative or senator is on the list and going to share a podium with a man who presided over a pogrom targeting Muslims in 2002 as the chief executive of Gujarat and is pursuing a nakedly majoritarian agenda in his second term as the prime minister. Actions in Kashmir being the case in point, where people have been without internet or cell phone access and access to medical care since August 4th.
Check out the BBC for news updates on Kashmir.
Watch this space for more updates on this developing story of the Houston rally. If you have questions leave them in the comments.
Thank you, Schroedinger’s Cat:
I am afraid that the scrapping of Article 370 of the Indian Constitution is just the beginning, it has little to do with the development of Kashmir. Prime Minister Modi’s agenda for India in his second term is to change India’s constitution and pave the way for a majoritarian state which is a democracy in name alone. 94 years after its formation the Rashtriya Swayam Sevak Sangh (RSS) is the closest to achieving its goal of the Hindu Rashtra (Hindu Nation).
The international media is missing the RSS agenda behind Modi’s actions. Before he entered politics, Modi was a pracharak or a fulltime evangelist for the RSS. Just like the previous Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP) prime minister, Mr. Atal Bihari Vajpayee before him. There is no daylight between what the Sangh wants and what the BJP wants.
BJP is the political front of the Sangh, an all male grassroots fraternal organization that has had only one non-brahmin sarsangchalak (chief of the Sangh) in its almost hundred years of existence. According to some estimates, a group that makes up around 5% of the population of India. Also with two exceptions spanning 16 years, all the other sarsangchalaks have been Marathi brahmins. The Sangh still does not admit women. For a group that purports to speak for all Hindus its leadership is drawn from a tiny slice of Hindu male brahmins.
India is as complex as Europe would be if it were one country. India is home to two major language families and twenty two official languages. India also has the second largest population of Muslims in the world. The Sangh sees this diversity be it religious or linguistic as inherently problematic. Their dream India, which they call Bharat, is united under the saffron banner of Hindutva speaking as one in one language, Hindi. Sikhs, Jains and Buddhists are considered Hindu for the purposes of this classification but Christians and Muslims are not. Sangh ideologues have argued that diversity made India weaker and an easy prey for the British in the 18th and the 19th centuries and the first wave of Muslim invaders from Central Asia a thousand years ago and later. The way for India to go back to its former greatness is to unite under a banner of a Hindu Rashtra (Hindu Nation).
Britain has been forgiven but BJP and its sympathizers want Muslim citizens of India to pay for the sins of the central Asian invaders and also for the formation of Pakistan. Their claims about a Hindu rashtra are inspired more by the nationalistic fervor sweeping Europe in the early twentieth century than they are by ancient India. Here is what Madhav Golwalkar, the most influential sarsangchalak who held the post for 43 years had to say about Hitler’s Germany in a book published in the 1940s.
…To keep up the purity of the nation and its culture, Germany shocked the world by her purging the country of Semitic races – the Jews. National pride at its highest has been manifested here. Germany has also shown how well-nigh impossible it is for races and cultures, having differences going to the root, to be assimilated into one united whole, a good lesson for us in Hindustan to learn and profit by.
Thanks, once more, to commentor Tony Jay:
PRE-BREXIT BLUE-ON-BLUE EDITION
Rum doings on this side of the Atlantic, as the race to succeed Theresa May (the only time you’ll see those three words strung together in any sentence format) as supreme leader of the Conservative Party and (possibly, probably, maybe not, we’ll see how things shake out) Prime Minister of the United Kingdom, descended into ugly levels of sleezy farce. Last week the final round of votes by Conservative Members of Parliament saw unpalatable class-war stereotype Alexander Boris de Pfeffel Johnson sail into the final heat with almost three times as many votes as his nearest rival, Foreign Secretary Jeremy ‘The Big C’ Hunt, much to the chagrin of Johnson’s erstwhile friend and humanoid mole-creature Michael Gove, who had been two votes ahead of Hunt in the previous round and already prepping the release of numerous ‘anonymous’ leaks from his period working with Johnson on the (Lying Like Bastards for) Leave side of the 2016 referendum campaign to discombobulate the owl-faced Heir Presumptive when news of his third place finish (and automatic expulsion from the leadership race) came splatting down like a hammer made of bad faith and broken dreams. Suspicions abounded that Johnson supporters had been sneakily organised to artificially boost Hunt’s tally and ensure that Gove paid the price for back-stabbing Eton’s Shame on the eve of the last leadership election three years ago, but the scandal didn’t gain much traction because, well, what’s wrong with a bit of tactical voting? These are Tory MPs we’re talking about, it’s hardly the worst thing any of them have ever done, it’s probably not even the worst thing most of them did that day.
Speaking of which….
In the early hours of Friday morning neighbours of Johnson’s partner, Carrie Symonds, a former Head of Press for the Tory Party with whom he’s basically been living since leaving his wife and family (feel the quality of those ‘values’) were taking delivery of a fast-food order when they were disturbed by a veritable humdinger of a row taking place in Symonds’ flat, during which there was slamming and banging and things being broken, along with the sound of Symonds screaming at her other half to “Get off me!” and “Get out of my flat”, apparently furious with the infamously slobbish Johnson for spilling red wine on her couch and generally being a spoilt bastard who didn’t give a toss about domestic hygiene. Now, anyone worried that poor old Johnson might have inadvertently kowtowed to the feminazi agenda at this point will be happy to know that he gave as good as he got, demanding that Symonds calm down and leave his fucking laptop alone. (PronHub alert!!!) Upon hearing a loud scream and after going down on three separate occasions to knock on the door (no response) the neighbours called the police, who sent around a couple of vans full of armed bastards, but were soon heading back to the station after being assured that all was well and nobody was actually being choked or strangled or beaten to death with a bottle of Penfolds Grange, because, you know, posh Tories, white privilege and forelock tugging go together like cheese and toast in our neck of the woods.
This is where it gets all conspiratorial and familiar. The neighbour who called through the initial complaint had recorded some of the racket and contacted the Guardian to let them know that Boris had questions to answer. Attempts by the Guardian to confirm events with the Police ran into a bit of an Establishment roadblock, though, as the boys and girls in Blue denied any knowledge of the row, despite the Guardian having the address, time, incident reference and Police officer ID numbers. No, Sir. Nothing to report, Sir. Which is kind of against all of the rules laid down for handling Press enquiries. It wasn’t until they provided the licence plates and vehicle numbers of the vans involved and, I don’t know, the star sign and maiden name of whoever was handling dispatch duty that morning, that suddenly the dam broke and confirmation was received. How massively not suspicious in the least, eh?
Many thanks to BJ Approved Foreign Correspondent Tony Jay:
BJ International Presents: The Brexit Follies
– An Alan Smithee Production
I think it was the late, great Glenn Medeiros who said, in reference to his third manager and fifth confirmed victim (WWE wrestler and pianoforte aficionado Danny “Hot Grease” Famagusta) “He couldn’t sing and he couldn’t dance, but if you didn’t want him applying a Figure-Four leg-lock and rabbit-punching your liver into patè, lying about it was always the smart move”. Wise words, Glenn, wise words. I’m sure that if he were here with us today and even passingly interested in the slow, grinding travesty that is this season of ‘Britain’s Got No Political Talent Whatsoever’, there’s no doubt that Mister Medeiros would look at the remaining Tory Leadership candidates and see the very clear analogy I’m drawing. Then he’d nod and he’d walk away, slowly, along the beach, sand between his toes, hair glistening, quietly satisfied.
Yes, it’s week two of the Contest of Charlatans and this evening the four remaining losers, plus Boris Johnson’s knuckle-cracking spokespeople, will once again ask the Parliamentary Party to throw their support behind their clear-sighted and not-at-all-ludicrous candidacies for the job of fucking up Brexit and everything associated with it in order to drag the corpse of the Tory Party a little bit further towards an inevitable General Election. Delusional optimism and naked ambition aside…. well, there’s not much left to cover, but we’ll try and drag this out for a few more pages so I don’t have to do any – actual – work before going home.
When we left them last week, the candidates had just emerged from the first round of Conservative MP’s votes and the ones who had cracked the magical 16+1 qualification score were:
Boris Johnson -114
Jeremy Hunt – 43
Michael Gove – 37
Dominic Raab – 27
Sajid Javid – 23
Matt Hancock – 20
Rory Stewart – 19
Andrea “Gaffetacular” Leadsom, Mark “Who? Why? Who again?” Harper and Esther “Black-Sheep of House Bolton” McVey were all dumped out for lack of popularity (look at my oh so very shocked face why don’t you), with Health Secretary and Yoof Outreach maestro Matt “Door” Hancock dropping out under his own steam a day later citing the need for a leader who could unite the Tory Party around the issues that Hancock felt were most important. Considering that Hancock had based his campaign on avoiding the self-inflicted mutilation of a No-Deal Brexit you would, of course, expect that he’d throw his support behind Stewart, or maybe to be more practical, Gove or Javid, but you would, of course, be quite wrong. Hancock immediately declared himself loyal to Boris the Brexiteer, proof, if needed, that the only thing more duplicitous and self-serving than a ‘One Nation Tory’ is a ‘One Nation Tory’ in a hurry to nail down his Cabinet job before the real fighting starts. Hancock’s 20 supporters were now up for grabs, and since very few of them would be expected to back one of the Brexit Uber Alles crowd they could provide a less overtly extremist candidate with some of the 33 votes needed to get through the next round of voting.
My German is not that great. But I think I understand the headline. pic.twitter.com/WuwOGZZdz9
— Paul (@paulj71) June 13, 2019
I couldn’t resist adding the above tweet. Many thanks to BJackals Foreign Correspondent Tony Jay; the timing (2am GMT) is not ideal for him to respond immediately, but I wanted to give the maximum number of American readers time to enjoy it properly. (Also, who knows but that by tomorrow morning, there will need to be a *third* ETA… so: “The Tory Leadership Election 2019 – Sort of not-Brexit but really it is Edition”:
I recently had the very great pleasure of being lured to an abandoned Scout Hut just outside the picturesque town of Caernarfon where, for reasons I won’t go into without an opium pipe to hand, I found myself sans trousers and briefly suspended above a Welsh-Rite Satanist altar by a cunning arrangement of hooks and chains while a burly fellow in full horns-and-hooves regalia laboured away at my hairy showpiece with a length of bone-knotted horsetail and, while I was there, I thought, oh, this reminds me, I really must see if anyone at Balloon Juice would be interested in a guest-post about the current Tory Party leadership elections.
So, I did, and here it is.
Now, obviously, very few of you good people will have much of a clue who the various oddballs and grease-spots are jostling to succeed Robot/Zombie hybrid Theresa May as leader of both the Conservative and Unionist Party and (because the Tories made a post-2017 deal with the Orange-Sashed Shouting Party of White Protestant Shouty Extremism known as the DUP) Prime Minister of the United Kingdom of Great Britain and Northern Ireland. With good reason. There’s far too many Democrats in the race to be revealed by the FTFNYT as History’s Greatest Monster to leave any cerebral room for remembering foreign politicians, many of whom are undoubtedly without a snowball’s chance in Guantanamo of getting anywhere near the shiny brass ring anyway, but, since I love to mock the evil and deluded, let’s give them all a gentle squeeze of encouragement and pop their clothes on the hook so we can have a quick butchers at what’s going on down there, eh?
First, a little run down of the actual electoral system the Tories are using to select their leader. In the past you only needed a couple of MPs backing you to get your name thrown into the hat, with prospective candidates being expected to self-audit their chances and take into account the frowny faces of Party grandees should they waste their valuable time with vanity bids, but since the last contest in 2016 they’ve concluded that so many Tory MPs are intemperate fame-whores that it would make more sense and be quicker all round if every nominee had to approach the contest with at least eight declared supporters. Don’t have that level of support? Sit the fuck down, loser.
It all starts with two rounds of voting amongst the MPs of the Parliamentary Party. After the first of these rounds candidates with fewer than 17 votes are eliminated, and after the second candidates with fewer than 33 votes are handed the revolver and a single bullet. At this point if all of the candidates have more than 33 votes (just about technically possible if highly unlikely) then the one with the least support is eliminated, and the votes continue with much behind the scenes horse-trading and back-stabbing with the one garnering the fewest votes from their fellow MPs being dropped each time. Once there’s only two candidates left in the running it’s handed over to the Tory Party membership for a month’s worth of postal voting as somewhere between 40 and 140 thousand clinically sociopathic reptiloids (no one knows the true number, or how many of them are actually alive as opposed to post-mortem bequests) get to foist a Prime Minister on the country without any input from the mere human cattle.
Democracy? Sovereignty? Fuck that, gimmee, gimmee, gimmee.
The race officially opened a couple of days ago but, of course, unofficial campaigning has been going on for weeks if not months, way pre-dating May’s official declaration of surrender. The BBC recently slipped out of its gimp-mask and furry restraints long enough to record what its political wing had revealed about their opinions. Roughly two/thirds of Tory MPs have stated their preferences, but as the Media’s political correspondents are always swift to remind viewers with a hearty laugh and a wink of admiration, Tory MPs are well known as being the most duplicitous, deceitful and downright untrustworthy electorate outside of the world of professional Boxing, so take everything with enough salt to repopulate Sodom.
Following up on her earlier post, Schroedinger’s Cat:
The results of the 17th Loksabha elections are out. The Bharatiya Janaty Party (BJP) has won a comfortable majority on it own steam, 303 of a total of 545 seats. While the Indian National Congress(INC or just the Congress) ‘s haul was 52 seats. It was a clean sweep for the ruling party in the Hindi heartland and western India. Rahul Gandhi who led the INC in this election lost his seat in Amethi, Uttar Pradesh (UP). A seat he had held since 2004. Besides Rahul three other members of the Gandhi family have represented the Amethi consituency since 1980.
UP is the Hindi heart of India. Being the most populous state its sends the greatest number of representatives among all states to the Loksabha. This year the INC has won only one seat in Uttar Pradesh (UP) of a total of 80 and the BJP has won 62. That’s the entire story of these elections in a nutshell. Since what happens in UP determines political fortunes in India.
Rahul Gandhi made mistakes at both the tactical and at the strategic level. Instead of forming pre-poll coalitions to take on the ruling the party they fielded their own candidates in more than 400 constituencies. Most importantly, Rahul Gandhi ceded the ideological space to BJP by letting the Prime Minister Narendra Modi define the terms of the battle, whether it be national security or the place of minorities in the polity. Instead of taking the fight to the BJP, Congress ran away from the fight. This included maintaining a studied silence about the entire Pulwama incident, when it happened, not fielding enough Muslim candidates for the fear of being labeled pro-Muslim and even shying away from visiting Muslim majority areas to ask for their vote. Electorates rarely reward cowardice or incompetence.
So how did the party that led the independence struggle against the British rule and oversaw the establishment of the modern Indian state, its constitution and its institutions come to this sorry pass?…
(To be continued)
ETA: The new government wants to stress learning Hindi, so before I go, check out this video which celebrates the linguistic diversity of India, another obstacle to the ultimate goal of the Hindu Rashtra where everyone speaks Hindi and is Hindu. I am so old that I remember when Unity in Diversity was India’s creed.
ETA2: They have walked it back, after a huge outcry from the southern states. I think they were just testing the waters. They will float this proposal again.
(If you find this interesting, be sure to check out SC’s blog!)
Since I always feel smarter after reading his comments, I asked Tony Jay if he could share some information with us:
So, I’m sitting there, early hours of Monday morning, chugging pints of home-brew and alternating between watching BBC One’s coverage of the European Election results unfolding in glorious bursts of multi-colour infotainment and posting increasingly incoherent comments about it here at the Jackal Pound. My phone reaches over and taps me on the shoulder. “You got a message”, it sez. Apparently, Anne-Laurie – who I can only presume was three days into a poppers and absinthe binge at this point – thought that asking me to do a guest post on Britain’s latest self-inflicted humiliation would be a swell idea. Clearly this is a mistake, and I apologise, but in the immortal words of one or more of the Rolling Stones, you can’t always get what you want, but sometimes, well, you get this nonsense instead.
First a little background to set the scene. You may or may not know that 2016 saw more than one episode of hostile Russian interference in the electoral systems of a western democracy. You good people were blessed with the constantly weeping pustule of venomous criminality known as President Donald J Trump, while we went one better by voting to leave the world’s largest alliance of advanced economies on the grounds that those blasted foreigners were holding us back, stealing our money and stopping us from getting it on with all of the sexy all of the time. Something like that anyway, the lying shitweasels behind the campaign to Leave scattered like pinstriped cockroaches the second the result of the vote came in and have been deliberately vague about the actual reasons for and tangible benefits of leaving the European Union ever since. We were supposed to Leave back at the end of March, but didn’t, because three years after the Referendum not a single person involved with negotiating Britain’s exit from the EU had been able to find a version of Brexit (fucking awful name, sounds like a breakfast cereal designed to soften painful stools) that doesn’t put a bullet through the head of the national economy and (much more importantly) leave them and their political party holding the bag when everything goes 28 Days Later.
Since we’re still in the EU and will be until Parliament agrees a Withdrawal Act (short version, not going to happen) or October 31st, when the current extension runs out, we’ve had to take part in elections to the European Parliament. Because this is modern Britain, and because the Government of the day is simultaneously woefully divided into rival factions and unified by an animus towards doing anything remotely helpful for anyone without a bank balance of 7 digits and above, only the very bare minimum of effort was put into organising the elections. The general feeling coming from the Government side was “If we pretend it’s not happening we don’t have to talk about it”, leaving the various factions and parties on either side of the Leave/Remain divide free to turn the whole exercise into a proxy Referendum on how the country feels about Brexit. Which I’m basically okay with. Britain’s European Elections have always been mind-numbingly dull affairs characterised by endless variations of the stock phrases. “Blah Blah defending Britain’s interests” and “Blah Blah working with our friends on the continent”. They never say what they actually intend to do as part of the EU, and no one much really cared. Even after the rise of UKIP and the injection of tabloid-fuelled Europhobia into the national psyche the only thing that really changed come election time was the addition of stock phrase three, “Blah Blah sending a message to Brussels” to the mix. With the forces of Leave resolutely opposed to asking the country if it thought, maybe, on reflection, that it would quite like to start unshitting the bed by choosing to Remain after all, then a proxy Referendum on that question would be better than nothing.
So, what happened?
Okay, first things first, the pundits and experts were very clear about what they though was going to happen. Endless vox-pops and opinion polls all agreed on a few salient facts.