Open Thread

Feb 25th, 2011, in Asides, by

545 Comments on “Open Thread”

  1. avatar berlian biru says:

    I never said that these people were “nobodies”, I just claimed that they were not the spooks conjured up by those right wing “cultural marxism” crusaders.

    Do tell, what was their relevance then?

  2. avatar timdog says:

    All day drinking??? Ah yes, I remember, BB; you don’t go home very often do you…

    The question was not whether the Blair government squandered an enormous amount of good will and a powerful majority when it came to power, and didn’t do anywhere near as much as it could have done, nor how it will be judged in the future.

    But I’m getting tired so I’ll let you have it – yes, foxhunting and gay rights clearly, after all, are the driving priorities of the modern Labour Party (much, much more so than the NHS, social services or anything like that).
    And this is a statement which “barely merits discussion”. On reflection I couldn’t agree more with that particular point…

    I’m going to talk about bules on motorbikes in Bali after this, if anyone cares to join…

  3. avatar Arie Brand says:

    I don’t care too much about any of the Frankfurt Group except Habermas who has in a most impressive intellectual tour de force come up with a new approach to sociology in which he managed to incorporate most of the viable results of the classics. If you know nothing about him look at the Wikipedia article that suggests at any case the comprehensiveness of his achievement.

  4. avatar berlian biru says:

    Timdog, I’m glad you have conceded my point, although you try to mask it in pseudo-irony, that beyond fox-hunting and gay rights the Labour party achieved nothing, other than borrowing and spending too much money and bankrupting the nation (they may have added some more health workers on to the numbers of health workers previously added by the Thatcher administration and which will be added to again by Cameron’s government in what is laughingly referred to as Tory cuts but that is not a lasting achievement).

    That therefore tells you all you need to know about the priorities of the British Labour party and their relation to the working classes.

    Now unless you have lost all your critical faculties or are being willfully self-delusional you really can not gainsay my original statement that the Labour Party, the party of the working man (its name might give a clue to that) is now peopled by ex-student union activists, human rights lawyers, NGO staffers, media types, academics and celebs, the only union members you’ll find in its leadership are leaders of white collar unions, mostly from the public sector.

    The British Labour party is, in other words, a party of the middle class left.

    It shares the concerns and obsessions of that class and has little or no relation to actual workers like supermarket shelf-stackers or road sweepers who live in grim council estates and who have rather different attitudes to animal rights and mass immigration. The same can be said of the US Democrat Party and the Australian Labor Prty.

    If you refuse to accept this blatantly self-evident fact then yes, you should perhaps restrict yourself to Balinese motorcycling, it might be a topic about which you know something.

  5. avatar Oigal says:

    Well I thoughly enjoyed the to and fro between youse blokes. I make no claims to be even remotely familiar with some of the names dropped with dare I say it Gay abandon never the less it was interesting.

    BB, has a very valid point, the Australian Labor Party would screech in horror should a person of fair dinkum working background actually rise through the ranks these days. Worse due to a fragile grip on power the ALP is beholden to a motley crew of Greens (including shock horror a committed communist) and independants.

    That said one could hardly pretend the other mob represent middle Australia, you only had to watch the sad forelock tugging to vested interests over the proposed mining tax on super profits.

  6. avatar Oigal says:

    Ok, sometimes the coppers are too just funny.
    Had a flunky of the local sandal beaters come to the office demanding we buy three
    ‘invitations’ to a seminar on corruption avoidance. Tickets marked as free and the flunky was offended when I laughed when it said it needed Rp 750,000 donation for each ticket. Serious true story! TII

  7. avatar madrotter says:

    hahahahahaaaaa!!! nice one keep ’em coming:)

  8. avatar Arie Brand says:

    Yesterday I saw on YouTube the full version of the Iranian film “A Separation”. It provided a welcome reminder, after having been confronted time and again with the depiction of Iran as a land of crazy mullahs, “that over the mountains there are people as well”.

    The film won this year’s Golden Globe for best foreign language film but apart from the language, there wasn’t much in it that struck me as specifically foreign. The ordinary problems people had to cope with, and their attitude to it, could have occurred in any setting. True, the religious scruples of at least one of the protagonists would not be easily seen in a contemporary Western setting. Also, as far as externals are concerned, the court of law in which some of the action takes place misses the trappings that elsewhere are supposed to impress on us the majesty of the law. The girl who plays the role of the daughter of the separating couple is supposed to be eleven but looks to me as being at least sixteen and acts with the relative maturity of that age.

    But these are basically small things. What the film suggests is that the human family is basically one however much propaganda tries to demonize certain parts of it.

    Here is the address of it:

  9. avatar Oigal says:

    M-R, Nice to see you back, thought you had fallen off the planet…

  10. avatar madrotter says:

    yeah still here, thanks oigal!

  11. avatar madrotter says:

    mostly because of speedy. connection here got worse and worse and for some reason it was almost always nearly impossible to load this site… well… i changed to another company, they installed a receiver and it’s working great, faster than ever, so i’ve been blogging like crazy, watching youtube etc.

  12. avatar berlian biru says:

    Iran is an extremely civilized nation, or at least it was before the ayatollahs took control, it was one of the most developed, advanced and educated nations in the Middle East under the Shah.

    But of course because the Shah didn’t meet the approval of westerners obsessed by his less than perfect human rights record, no worse than any other nation in the region and a heck of a lot better than the regime that replaced it, the west hung him out to dry.

    Now what should be an advanced peaceful nation, acting as a bridge between east and west and a jewel in the crown of an otherwise troubled part of the world Iran is an international pariah, despised by its neighbours and loathed by the rest of the world.

    And to think the west cheered the fall of the Shah. I wonder if we’ll similarly live to regret more recent developments in other parts of the Middle East.

  13. avatar Arie Brand says:

    But of course because the Shah didn’t meet the approval of westerners obsessed by his less than perfect human rights record, no worse than any other nation in the region and a heck of a lot better than the regime that replaced it, the west hung him out to dry.

    “The West”? As far as I am aware he enjoyed at any case the support of the USA and his sudden removal, mainly because of internal developments, came as a surprise to American intelligence.

    And how did you like the film B.B.?

  14. avatar berlian biru says:

    The Shah enjoyed the support of the West, ie America, until his position became embarrassing and then they dropped him like a hot potato.

    It’s more dangerous to be a friend of the US than an enemy, when the Americans decide you’re expendable, no matter how good a friend you have been and how much loyal service you have given they will ditch you at a minute’s notice if they want to.

    Jimmy Carter treated the exiled Shah despicably, he deserved better for all he had done for the Americans and for his own people.

  15. avatar ET says:


    And to think the west cheered the fall of the Shah. I wonder if we’ll similarly live to regret more recent developments in other parts of the Middle East.

    Indeed so. It’s always amusing to see westerners cheer the upheavals thinking it will lead to democracy but have already forgotten what happened to Iran.


    The film looks promising but unfortunately not to be enjoyed here because of slow internet connection. I’ve send the link to family in Australia who will download it for me.

  16. avatar Arie Brand says:

    The Shah enjoyed the support of the West, ie America, until his position became embarrassing and then they dropped him like a hot potato.

    It’s difficult to drop something that has already fallen.

  17. avatar Arie Brand says:

    This is how the BBC reported it at the time:

    1979: Shah of Iran flees into exile

    The Shah of Iran has fled the country following months of increasingly violent protests against his regime.
    Shah Mohammed Reza Pahlevi and his wife, Empress Farah, left Tehran and flew to Aswan in Egypt.

    The couple’s three youngest children were flown to the United States yesterday.

    Official reports say the Shah has left for a “vacation” and medical treatment. In fact, he was asked to leave by the man he appointed prime minister earlier this month.

    Over the past few months, there have been an increasing number of violent clashes between security forces and anti-Shah demonstrators.

    Opposition to the Shah has become united behind the Muslim traditionalist movement led by Iran’s main spiritual leader, Ayatollah Ruholla Khomeini, from exile in France.


    There have been calls for the Ayatollah’s return – and news of the Shah’s departure was greeted with mass celebrations across Iran.

    British and United States’ ex-patriates living in Iran – regarded as symbols of westernization – have been the frequent target of attacks. Thousands have left the country.

    Martial law was declared in many cities on 8 September. But later that month, industrial action by thousands of Iranian workers culminated in a mass strike by employees in the oil industry.

    The strike sparked riots and rallies across the country in support of the Ayatollah.

    Western governments, like the US, UK and West Germany, have continued to express support for the Shah.

    The Shah appointed a new military government in early November. But it failed to stem the rising tide of support for the Ayatollah.

    Earlier this month he appointed a new prime minister, Dr Shapur Bahktiar. When, on 13 January, the Ayatollah declared a revolutionary Islamic council to replace what he called the “illegal government” of Iran, Dr Bahktiar persuaded the Shah it was time to leave.

  18. avatar Arie Brand says:

    BB wrote:

    Jimmy Carter treated the exiled Shah despicably …

    Carter wrote in his memoirs:

    Before and immediately after the Shah’s departure from Iran, we had left open our invitation for him to come to the United States, but he had decided to stay in Morocco. Now, after two months, we began to hear that King Hassan wanted the Shah to leave. … King Hassan requested that we accept the Shah. …

    However, primarily because of the intense hatred now built up in Iran among the mobs who controlled the country and the resulting vulnerability of the many Americans still there, I decided that it would be better for the Shah to live elsewhere. I asked Cy (Cyrus Vance – then Secretary of State – A.B.) to scout around to help him find a place to stay.\

    Eventually the Shah settled upon the Bahamas, but later complained about the high prices and moved on to Mexico. Despite his great wealth, he seemed obsessed with the belief that people were trying to cheat him. He still wanted to come to the United States , where he had some enthusiastic advocates

    (these included David Rockefeller, Kissinger and Brzezinski)

    And Carter wrote in his diary on July 27, 1979 (quoted here):

    We finally decided to let Cy contact the embassy in Iran to get their estimate on the possible consequences of letting the Shah come in. I don’t have any feelings that the Shah or we would be better off with him playing tennis several hours a day in California instead of in Acapulco.

    There came an answer from Tehran and Carter wrote:

    Predictably, our embassy people in Iran recommended against our inviting the Shah to the United States … the staff’s recommendation confirmed my own decision to continue moving Americans out of Iran and to let the Shah stay in Mexico.

    From Jimmy Carter – Keeping Faith – Memoirs of a President , London 1982 pp.452-453

    Yes, so it goes. Who wrote: Countries have no permanent friends only permanent interests?

    Only the first part of that proposition seems to me true. The ‘permanent interests’ often turn out not to be that permanent after all.

  19. avatar berlian biru says:

    Oh dear, Carter’s spinelessness, indecisiveness and lack of moral fibre shines through so clearly from those memoirs, no wonder he was a one-term president. The number of foreign affairs catastrophes on his watch, the consequences of which resonate to this day, are astounding. A president of no redeeming character.

    The US Embassy in Tehran comes out of it no better with their rather undignified attempts to appease the Tehran mob, that mob like all bullies merely thrived on appeasement as the US Embassy was to learn to its cost very rapidly.

  20. avatar Arie Brand says:

    B.B. I can’t see any evidence for your original thesis that Western governments dropped the Shah because of his human rights record, bad as it undoubtedly was. Carter was under no illusions about the new regime in Iran. The new PM, Bazargan, originally sent friendly messages to the US but the Khomeini crowd had other ideas. Carter wrote:

    …as the weeks passed , he ran into more and more trouble from Khomeini’s revolutionaries , who formed armed bands all over Iran and arrested hundreds of people, trfying them on the spot and executing them


    Looking back I think Carter had a valid case. If he could save the lives of a few of his country men by letting the Shah play tennis in Acapulco rather than California it was worth it.

    Using the fact that he was a one term president as an argument against him is quite unconvincing. Bush the Lesser enjoyed two terms – his Pa one term. Was Bush the Lesser therefore the superior President? (I fear that you might even say “Yes” here – wasn’t it you who argued that we all can sleep safer in our beds because of his Iraqi venture that his Pa had been anxious to avoid?).

    Carter had one great foreign policy achievement: he was instrumental in bringing about peace between Israel and Egypt. Since then American foreign policy has made no headway in this area.

    To talk about Carter as “a president of no redeeming character” is, frankly, nonsense. Who are you comparing him with – Albert Schweitzer, Mother Theresa?


  21. avatar berlian biru says:

    Carter was actually much more to the left on foreign affairs than is often remembered, he hung many pro-American, or at least anti-Communist, governments out to dry in order to show his “pro-human rights” credentials, cheerfully ignoring the fact that the people who would replace them wouldn’t exactly be models of democratic liberalism.

    It hardly comes as a surprise to me Arie that the one US president for whom you have a kind word is the man who almost fatally weakened US standing abroad while wrecking the economy at home.

    Thank God he was replaced by a somewhat sounder man.

  22. avatar Arie Brand says:

    BB what about that evidence that “the West” abandoned the Shah because of his human rights record?

    And as far as weakening US standing abroad is concerned: the man for whom you have no doubt more than one kind word, Bush Jr., has done more in this regard than any American president since the war.

    Your posts are generally short on facts but very long on prejudice.

  23. avatar Arie Brand says:

    Thank God he was replaced by a somewhat sounder man.

    What do I remember about Reagan and Iran?

    He sold heavy weapons to the mullahs and denied it, saying, as a child would, that the weapons he hadn’t sold them wouldn’t have fit on a small truck. This was when all the European nations were boycotting Iran at Reagan’s request.

    And the weapons he hadn’t sold them provided the funds for an illegal war in Nicaragua about which he also continuously lied. Subsequently he backed Iraq in its war against Iran.

    You can have your sound man.

  24. avatar Arie Brand says:

    About Carter:

    A president of no redeeming character.


    Jimmy Carter, probably the most decent man to occupy the White House, received a lot of grief during his term in office, most of it undeserved.

    Paul Craig Roberts, Assistant Treasurer in the Reagan administration, Former Associate Editor of the Wall Street Journal etc.

  25. avatar berlian biru says:

    You are welcome to your opinion of Carter, I will retain mine that he was a weak, naive, incompetent, spineless fool.

    The majority of Americans agreed with my analysis when he put himself forward for re-election.

    Like I say no surprise that you like such an American president, you have a fondness for people who harm the interests of the United States. Naturally therefore you approve of Carter.

  26. avatar ET says:

    To be fair, I remember Carter as a decent man, even if my political preference lies elsewhere. He just didn’t have the flamboyant charisma a US president is supposed to have. Reagan did.

  27. avatar Arie Brand says:

    you have a fondness for people who harm the interests of the United States.

    How come I disliked Bush so much?

  28. avatar berlian biru says:

    Because Bush cheerfully slaughtered the enemies of the United States by the bushel load while Carter pandered and surrendered to them, ergo you like Carter and loathe Bush.

    Simple really, next question.

  29. avatar Arie Brand says:

    Because Bush cheerfully slaughtered the enemies of the United States by the bushel

    Next question:

    Why don’t you make it “the enemies of God” – then we are fully back in the Old Testament.

  30. avatar berlian biru says:


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