Trigger alert: What follows includes ‘black humour’. Whilst it won’t offend anyone who is black and/or humorous, it may disturb people who believe what they read in the newspapers.
The week got off to an explosive start with a speech by former Vice-President Dick Cheney at the Economic Times’ Global Business Summit in New Delhi.
As usual Mr Cheney spoke about the global business he knows best – warfare - concentrating on the challenges CEOs face in the early stages of a new venture. Always a ‘start-up’ guy throughout his career, the Ex-VP demonstrated techniques for getting a new war off the ground, using his latest venture as an example of how to project one’s own warlike intentions onto an opponent, in order to create ‘buy-in’ for an escalation. Here is a snippet:
"There was a very serious effort made by Mr. Putin and his government, his organization, to interfere in major ways with our basic fundamental democratic processes…in some quarters, that would be considered an act of war” – Dick Cheney
Which you can view here:
Mr Cheney is reported to be working very hard to get his new Russian venture up and running. Apparently he has the market intelligence, the products, and the production capacity he needs, and foresees using a similar approach to the one he used to create a highly profitable war in Iraq 15 years ago; but insiders say that he still needs the necessary ‘permits’ from the White House. The current incumbent is said to be more interested in building things than blowing them up, and has not shown the same fascination with warfare that Mr Cheney took for granted with previous Presidents and presidential candidates that worked for him. But close colleagues say that he is a very patient man, who did not let the electoral defeats of John McCain or Hillary Clinton dampen his vision for a new global war. He has strong hopes that President Trump will come to recognize a great deal when he sees it.
On Tuesday the very reverend Martin Wolf demonstrated his prowess for piety with a rousing rendition of his latest hymn for Brussels: “Brexiters must lose if Brexit is to succeed”…which went down very well with his flock, particularly members of the choir, who made the comments section vibrate with soaring harmonics:
Mr Wolf didn’t specify exactly what ‘Brexiters must lose’, but from the tone of his sermon, a list that includes their homes, their livelihoods and all their worldly goods might go some way to relieving his acute case of 'loser’s hump'. But I will let the vicar speak for himself:
“On March 29, the British government is to notify the EU of its intention to leave. This will be a big moment in a tragedy; it will be a tragedy for the UK, but it will also be a tragedy for Europe. It is an appalling way to celebrate the EU’s 60th anniversary.
Even if the exit negotiations go well, the decision to leave the EU will have huge consequences for the UK. Economically, it will lose favourable access to by far its biggest market. Politically, it will create great stresses inside the UK and Ireland. Strategically, it will eject the UK from its role in EU councils. The UK will be poorer, more divided and less influential. Brexiters will deny all this. They are wrong….
…Yet Brexit is going to happen, thanks to David Cameron’s folly in agreeing to the referendum, mismanaging the negotiations and bungling the terms of the referendum itself. Going through with Brexit is not a constitutional necessity; the referendum is not binding. But it is a political one: the Conservative party would shatter without it…
…Theresa May has stated that “I am clear that no deal for Britain is better than a bad deal for Britain”. Let us hope that she does not believe this…”– Martin Wolf
So there you have it…voters should not have been allowed a choice in the first place, then they made the wrong decision, and those individuals who voted ‘leave’ are thoroughly sinful people who will cause the virtuous to suffer along with themselves…but…having committed this foul deed, all should now humbly accept whatever penance the Church in Brussels demands. Amen.
The only thing to add is that if the final paragraph above does indeed reflect Mr Wolf’s understanding of ‘negotiation’; let us hope that his wife handles all the major transactions at home.
Also on Tuesday, another gracious loser, this time from north of the border, Nicola Sturgeon, was busy organising the next ‘once in a generation’ referendum on Scottish independence. She is reported to have thoroughly enjoyed both the Scottish and the Brexit campaigns even though she was unable to accept either verdict. Colleagues say she is hoping that ‘the third one is the charm’. If successful she will resist any demands from Martin Wolf for a ‘best of three for Scotland’, adding "we must respect the will of the Scottish people".
In response to the success that agencies like the CIA, NSA and MI5 have achieved in bringing honesty, integrity and security to the Internet, but with the added aim of providing a ‘friendlier, less aggressive, public face’, the European Commission today announced the launch of a new Pan-European Internet ‘watchdog’ – Brussels Internet Group for the Maintenance, Oversight, Transmission and Harmonization of European Regulations (BIGMOTHER). A spokesperson for the agency said that there is no truth in rumours that the real purpose of agencies like the CIA and BIGMOTHER is to ‘control the narrative’ on the Internet by countering anti-establishment views. “All those rumours are fake news“, she said, and added that satire is a "grey area" that will have to be considered on a case-by-case basis.
Other than that it was a quiet day for news. Theresa May triggered Article 50 of the Lisbon Treaty, which in turn triggered politicians, bureaucrats, and journalists to make dramatic pronouncements, issue dire warnings, and compete for the best sound-bite of the day. There was no clear winner; most were simply ‘dismal’.
There were however a number of entertaining cartoons; unsurprisingly the majority were less than warm and cuddly about Brexit. Here are a few, courtesy of, believe it or not, the Daily Telegraph:
Still no truly entertaining sound-bite on Article 50, but here is a summary of the verdict of Philip Stephens in the FT:
“Those in Theresa May’s government who have blithely imagined they can have the best of all worlds face a cold shower of reality. If the two-year Article 50 process invoked by the prime minister does not break down in acrimony, it will conclude in 2019 with Britain a markedly diminished nation” – Philip Stephens
The desire for punishment and retribution is palpable isn’t it? I think the old boy was probably caned a few too many times by his House Master. As for the ‘cold shower of reality’, I think we’ve all got one of those coming. Mr Stephen’s would discover that his clothes are already soaking wet if he ever chose to look in a mirror…he didn’t see Brexit coming, he didn’t see Trump coming, he doesn’t understand any of it, and he thinks it’s all someone else’s fault. I’d feel sorry for the guy if I didn’t have the overwhelming desire to rub a custard pie into his face…time for a nice cup of tea I think…
In my youth Friday was oft referred to as POETS day (Piss off early, tomorrow’s Saturday). In my thirties ‘early’ on a Friday was 7pm; in my forties I was all over the world and the concept of ‘hours’ was totally meaningless. In my fifties I was in charge, I had mastered the art of delegation (yeah right), and had delegated to myself the freedom to ‘swan about’ as I saw fit…but still there was a kind of structure to it all…I had a ‘job’. Now that I am in my early sixties, and more ‘retired’ than ‘semi’, every day is POETS day if I want it…except that I’m already where I might be going, so the concept of ‘pissing off’ anywhere is rather absurd.
But I still have a ‘job’. It doesn’t matter what it is, what matters is that I have it. It provides ‘meaning’, and it provides ‘satisfaction’ through its pursuit. I’d be lost without it, which is why I made it up for myself :-)
What the hell is all this in aid of, you may be asking yourself…well...here’s a few thoughts you might like:
“The purpose of life is not to be happy. It is to be useful, to be honorable, to be compassionate, to have it make some difference that you have lived and lived well” - Ralph Waldo Emerson
“The best things in life make you sweaty.” - Edgar Allan Poe
“In the beginning, God created the earth, and he looked upon it in His cosmic loneliness. And God said, "Let Us make living creatures out of mud, so the mud can see what We have done"
And God created every living creature that now moveth, and one was man. Mud as man alone could speak. God leaned close to mud as man sat up, looked around, and spoke. Man blinked.
"What is the purpose of all this?" he asked politely.
"Everything must have a purpose?" asked God.
"Certainly," said man.
"Then I leave it to you to think of one for all this," said God.
And He went away”
- Kurt Vonnegut, Cat’s Cradle
Happy Poets Day...and have a great weekend...MarkGB