Tuesday, December 18, 2018

The Sign on the PM's Back

by Laura Harrison McBride
(This is another analysis piece I wrote at the beginning our our long and ongoing national nightmare. Don't let the G20 stuff deter you; it's all still true if not top-of-mind, and from the 6th paragraph on, it's all completely relevant today. The final paragraph? I added that today, in despair and after realising the sad necessity that I will spend my last years of life in a nation I moved to because I thought it was a kind and decent nation, and sadly found out it is at least as infested with racists and other forms of low-life as the US I left ten years ago. I legally renounced my US citizenship, so cannot go back except as a refugee; now I wonder if my Irish citizenship will be sufficient after March 29 for me to live in the UK with my British husband.)


Theresa May apparently arrived at the G20 Summit with a "Kick Me" sign on her back, and the other kids followed that suggestion.
The response of the G20 nations to Brexit was predictable if one didn't have one's head firmly stuck up the dark hole created by the Parliament of Fools, Boris Johnson, Nigel Farage and Michael Gove.
May arrived at the summit unaware that she is the fall-girl, unaware that her endless loop of “Brexit means Brexit” was just something the “big kids” told her to say so they'll like her. And she fell for it.
They don't like her. If they liked her, they wouldn't have cleverly engineered it so that each of them, while professing to want desperately to be PM (well, two of them, with the third such a perennial also-ran that he's got Loser stenciled on his back) really knew they had screwed up and wanted to be as far from the fallout as possible.
BTW, has anyone seen Gove lately? Is he off reading proscribed US literature or something? And Boris Johnson...is he perhaps at the US Embassy FINALLY renouncing his US citizenship? Or maybe he means to join his twin, Trump, and eff up US politics even more. His US citizenship will be useful for that.
But I digress. Whether May is a patsy or not (she is), no one wants to invest in a pig in a poke, which is what the UK is at the moment. Down the road, if Brexit continues its tottering way toward perdition, I expect the UK will be sausage, ground up, filled out with all sorts of chaff and not really meat at all, and stuffed into the bowels of global midgets.
Virtually every G20 representative has a firmer grasp on reality than does Mrs. May, possibly more properly characterized now as DisMay. For if she isn't feeling at best irrelevant and at worst pitiable after being soundly kicked by her colleagues on the field of global commerce and politics, she's more brain dead than I thought.
What will her reaction be? Will she man up and return home saying, "People, we might need to rethink this. We might need to grovel a bit, take our lumps, and go back to the EU with an open mind and a willingness to actually cooperate in world peace and a vibrant European and global economy. We might need to disavow the lies of Nigel Farage and his fascist horde. We might need to roll up our sleeves and do what is right, not what salves the torn egos of people who hate others just because they ARE others. We might need to accept that things have changed since the end of Elizabeth I's reign....and we need to deal with it in real time, right now."
I have no illusions. DisMay is as delusional as rock-star wannabe Boris Johnson, as lacking in empathy as the very Hitlerian Nigel Faux-rage, as dimwitted as Michael "my family's fishing business failed because of the EU/Oh no, son, you lie" Gove. As cruel as Iain Dump 'em Smith, as heinous as old "you stab 'em, we slab 'em", Jeremy "Wreck the NHS" Hunt.

But maybe some kind soul will find a way to haul this PM back from the brink, to keep her from handing over the UK's wealth and good regard to its former friends and neighbours, who, not being morons, will be only too happy to feast on the economic goodies the UK gave up in favour of begging for the crumbs of global commerce.

The Reeve whipping medieval serfs. This is what Mrs. May-Putin desire for us.
Copyright Laura Harrison McBride

Monday, December 17, 2018

Sheryll Murray's votes against Cornwall: Constituents don't count

by Laura Harrison McBride

 (This is a column I wrote right after the referendum. I have rewritten parts of it to reflect current realities.  Information about the EU offshoring rules to take effect in 2019 has also been added. And very unfortunately, Murray has not been replaced.)

Can an MP who campaigned against Remain possibly be for her constituency? 

You be the judge. Here's a scenario based on the intent of the votes of Southeast Cornwall MP Sheryll Murray, very unfortunately the one I've been stuck with despite my best efforts and those of many others to unseat her.   

Newlyn, Cornwall, fishing fleet--owners and employees will be among those who suffer with a Brexit.
---

A fictional Cornish family, the Broke family, is experiencing housing insecurity. They no longer have a right to their adequate council house and have had to move to a smaller one. Now, the Broke family is sleeping in a single room to accommodate the nurse and equipment for the paraplegic father's care. If they desire to bring suit over it, or anything else, they will find legal aid help severely limited.

Meanwhile, they struggle to get medical care at all; in Murray's world, GPs buy services for their patients from a corporation, meaning it is rationed to those who can't pay. The Brokes can't even opt for assisted suicide if there is no hope; Murray has voted against it.

The Brokes will also find heating a problem. Climate change makes the middle band around the earth warmer and drier, and the ends--where the UK is--colder and wetter. But in Ms. Murray's world, climate change is a myth. And increases in heating benefit are not included in her votes.

Should the Brokes earn enough money to travel, they can count on doing it on expensive trains or, if they have a really good year, on even more expensive airplanes. If they want to send a card or letter through the post to the friends and relations they can't afford to visit, they'll pay dearly for that, too.

If any of the Brokes are civil servants who have been made redundant they can no longer count on an adequate redundancy benefit.

Nor will the Broke children be able to help out. If they are at university, they struggle with rising tuition. Nor has the voting age been lowered to 16, so even those still at home, who might be expected to vote for their future and not the past, will be of no help either. 

The Brokes can't get away to a public forest for a bit of relaxation; the forests have been sold off. They can, however, entertain themselves by gambling away what little they have as gambling has STILL not been regulated.

They don't dare complain about any of this, especially on electronic media, which is now regularly scanned and the information retained by government. They needn't look for any help in the House of Lords, either. Hereditary peers have now been banned from the House of Lords, so the only ones sitting are life peers whose sense of noblesse oblige is non-existent.

The Brokes can't expect help from their MP, either, because the number of MPs has been reduced so that each one is serving a much larger constituency. Of course, they could not expect help from oligarch wannabe Mrs. Murray in any case as she votes most often against anything that would help working or poor people. Despite many of her constituents making a living from fishing, she is a LEAVER, despite what that will do to the UK's right to fish; she courts another Cod War or worse. But she doesn't care; her fisherman husband died some years ago.

Happily, the corporation that employs one of the Broke family has not yet off-shored her job because it was just granted enormous tax relief. On the other hand, it is now debating whether to make workers redundant in order to take advantage of even greater tax relief for investing in equipment and buildings rather than people.It would leave the owner all the more to offshore, now that he won't be bound by EU offshoring rules to begin in 2019.

Nor can her union help; its freedom to act has been restricted by Parliament. Still, she may yet get jobs cleaning houses of the wealthy, as taxes on incomes over £150,00 per year have not been raised, so they can afford to pay a pittance. That low pay won't go far: VAT on everything the Brokes buy has increased.

So they're suffering. But all those emmets who've moved in after buying McMansions are still living well, as the mansion tax they could easily afford has never been enacted. The Broke family have a sneaking suspicion this is because the second-homers vote in Cornwall instead of Surrey, where they actually live, in order to avoid the mansion tax. But there's nothing to be done about it. Indeed, there's little to be done about any of it. Murray has ensured that local councils are responsible for more and more of what citizens need, while scarce council funds are spent to keep up roads and infrastructure for the platoons of cars coming south to the McMansions.

Cornwall is not for the Cornish; it is for Sheryll Murray and the wealthy out-of-towners she serves. Her votes have been consistently damaging to the interests of her constituency in the poorest county in Britain. 

This in itself is odd: Murray's husband Neil died in a fishing accident working alone on his boat which did not have a dead man's switch that would stop dangerous equipment if someone were tangled in it--while hauling in nets, for example. In an article in the Daily Mail, a photo caption read:
Tory MP Sheryll Murray whose fisherman husband Neil died at sea has accused the EU of being partly to blame for his death.
There is an odd discrepancy here, one that leads interestingly to Mrs. Murray's vote against remaining in the EU:

In the week of her husband's inquest, Mrs Murray - who did not give evidence but asked some questions of witnesses - had secured an offer of European funding for fishermen to put emergency stop buttons on fishing boats.
Was the Daily Mail at fault for this contradiction because of bad reportage and editing? Or was Murray just casting about for someone to blame for her husband's death? Could a need to blame the EU or the fishing industry or both for her husband's death have solidified her LEAVE attitude? We will probably never know. But her votes on issues of interest to the bulk of her constituency are alone sufficient to suggest tactical voting is required to ensure Murray is not re-elected again, Leave or Remain.
 

 ***

For information regarding the construction of this scenario, visit this website that chronicles all of Ms. Murray's votes: https://www.theyworkforyou.com/mp/24875/sheryll_murray/south_east_cornwall/votes

For another look at the haves and have-nots, focusing on Cameron and Cornwall, visit this page:
http://www.newstatesman.com/politics/welfare/2016/02/real-cornwall-county-poorer-lithuania-and-hungary

***

Saturday, December 15, 2018

Leaver's Vitriol continues: How rational people can understand it

The founder of FB page Vote for Europe, David Welsh, asked me to write a few analytical articles for the page right after the referendum.  I think a few of them are worth repeating there and elsewhere.  This version has been edited very slightly from the original to reflect current voting by at least one Cornish MP.

___

Leaver vitriol has not decreased; indeed, the few remaining Leavers--many having seen how bad Brexit will be and changed their minds--are more violent than ever before, being led by career criminal Tommy Robinscum (spelled that way so it won't be picked up by Google and the thug's fame increased) a/k/a Stephen Yaxley-Lennon, career criminal.

Leavers' post-referendum vitriol: Is there a cure, or even a reason?

by Laura Harrison McBride




I'm not the only Remain volunteer who noticed it; Leave voters were nasty, spewed vitriol both on paper and in person, and often punched Remain campaigners for no reason at all. A friend of mine in Tavistock was punched for doing no more than walking past a Leave kiosk holding his Remain sign.

When we erected a HUGE Remain sign in front of our house, I expected the worst. Fortunately, although I live in that self-hating county*, Cornwall, most of my neighbours are reasonable. Many of them were utterly jazzed by the sign, quite approving in fact.



So what about the vitriol? WHY? It's still worth worrying about, as it continues. What's it all about?



The Leave vitriol is probably best considered to be a form of cognitive dissonance.



A person suffering cognitive dissonance comes to believe something which later turns out to be untrue. Often, the person realises from the start that the concept he or she believes is untenable. Because there is no agreement between the belief and the facts, the person is uneasy, possibly lashes out.



An article** on the Simply Psychology website notes that an early investigation of cognitive dissonance arose “out of a participant observation study of a cult which believed that the earth was going to be destroyed by a flood, and what happened to its members — particularly the really committed ones who had given up their homes and jobs to work for the cult — when the flood did not happen.”
 

The article notes that fringe members were inclined to realise they had been gullible, putting it down to experience and moving on. But the committed members, those who had figuratively bet the farm, “were more likely to re-interpret the evidence to show that they were right all along (the earth was not destroyed because of the faithfulness of the cult members).”



Just so, the remaining committed Leavers are reinterpreting the crashing economy to prove they were right all along, that the EU--which we still belong to--is what is bad for the UK. They believe they will be proven right just as soon as we tear up the economic, social and defence contract we have with the EU. Until then, in their minds, anything that happens that impacts negatively on them or on the UK is the fault not of the world's mistrust of the UK in the lee of Leave, but of Remain for failing to lie down and play dead about it all...since the Leavers cannot, in their own minds, have been wrong, facts be hanged.



They are, literally, unable to connect the dots. They are unable to see that decreasing investment in the UK and shrinking sales of UK products are because of the world's distrust of a nation that would cavalierly tear up a workable peace-and-prosperity pact because of the lies of a pack of buffoons.



In clinging to beliefs already proven wrong, committed Leavers fail to understand that trade agreements, maybe more so than peace agreements, take many years and lots of money to craft. Spain has been working on an independent agreement about plums with China for eight years. But the Leavers, in order to continue to hold their belief that it is the EU holding the UK down, must insist--despite abundant evidence--that all will be well just as soon as we stop having to write “contains fish” on tuna cans, and other truly meaningless minutiae of EU membership. But such minutiae become important to those who must seek excuses for irrational behaviours.



What's to be done? Nothing, at least nothing directly. It is impossible to force anyone to reverse beliefs founded on lies by providing truth. It's like giving up drink or drugs, no one can make them do it; they must do it themselves. We cannot talk them into it. And they will continue to vote for those who support lies.


The only thing to do is tactically vote out the MPs who pander to fear and low self-esteem, and vote in those who would do the most for the greatest number...even if they are standing backed by a party we don't normally support. 


***

  • NOTE: We have no chance, now, to elect anyone before the looming disaster what will either be avoided by Remaining, or acceded to by Parliament voting yes May's debacle of a deal, or crashing out. What we can do is natter at every single MP who has trod the middle road or has not totally committed to a People's Vote. We will not change the minds of retro-socialist Jeremy Corbyn, or weaselly Gove or the wildly self-imptorant and self-deluded Boris Johnson, for instance.

Copyright 2016 by Laura Harrison McBride

* My constituency keeps electing the gormless Leaver, Sheryll Murray. A great many Cornish constituencies also vote Tories into office, a priori against the interests of one of the poorest counties in the UK and identified by the EU for special grants--which will now disappear--to keep it from disaster.

** McLeod, S. A. (2014). Cognitive Dissonance. Retrieved from www.simplypsychology.org/cognitive-dissonance.html

Friday, December 14, 2018

Gulag UK--Land of Milk and Honey for Russian Oligarchs

Britons are going to die in greater numbers than they have at any time since Victoria's reign after March 29, 2019. They will die because Putin and the rest of the Russian oligarchs need a place from which to offshore their wealth and avoid taxes. In 2019, the EU will prevent this; therefore, one EU nation would have to leave the EU to accommodate the oligarchs.
Palm trees on Tresco, one of the UK's Scilly Isles, just off the UK's southwest coast. Tropical paradise for Russian oligarchs, and better than Cyprus, their current go-to tropical destination. After Brexit, they can offshore their loot from Cyprus,which will remain in the EU.

The UK was an easy choice. It is governed by British oligarchs, the Tories, and a despicable excuse for a man, Nigel Farage--a fascist since boyhood--had become a spokesperson for the far right, which appealed to those whose lives had already been royally screwed by heinous, inhumane Tory policies.

And so the deed was done, via illegal donations to LEAVE and other criminality.

Eventually, a number of those who had been duped realised it...too late.

The UK was a perfect Putin target. The population is docile unlike the French, undereducated compared to the Germans, less volatile than the Spanish, etc. etc. Plus, it already had a great financial industry in place to service the oligarchs' needs.

But mainly, the population are men who think they are mice. And I despair.

Brexit has been a fact of miserable life for Brits longer than Trump has bedeviled the Americans...and yet, it is clear Trump is on his way out/soon rendered impotent. And it is clear that Brits are still afraid of the oligarchical Conservative Party. Possibly afraid of hurting the feelings of a woman, the sub-Prime Minister Theresa May, who has amply proven she lacks feelings. Possibly trundling themselves to doom because they are afraid demanding a way out of the maze of lies and criminality May's government has constructed will be impolite. These are, truly, church mice. Unfortunately, it is Mighty Mouse that's called for.
  

So here we are, two minutes from Brexit and the mice are still fighting over a piece of mouldy cheese, refuse to take resistance lessons from the French, and are likely to find themselves starving to death, both literally and figuratively, on a small, cold island they will not be permitted to leave, although anyone with a non-UK passport will be put on the first available boat, wrecking families and causing untold emotional distress, all so Windrush-decimator Theresa May and her nauseating band of oligarchs in Westminster can get ten times as much money as any human ever needs, even though they make a pact with the devil, Vladimir Putin.

Copyright 2018, Laura Harrison McBride

Wednesday, December 12, 2018

Pain means pain...and Christmas

Today, I woke up early, awaiting a delivery of medicine which will FINALLY relieve pain I have had constantly for the past 2.5 years. No, it is not the pain of Brexit, although I have no doubt that the upheaval in the UK--both while we lived in France trying to get some peace and distance, and in Cornwall now that we have returned to the house we love--has something to do with it.

I ordered the medicine online on Sunday night. That meant that it should have gone out in Monday's batch, and, since Royal Mail   usually delivers overnight for First Class, should have come in yesterday morning's mail. It didn't.


I called the company shipping the medicine and they said it had not gone out Monday because they were both short-handed and swamped on Monday morning. Fair enough, although I wouldn't have thought medicines would be ordered in greater batches just because it's the Christmas season. But perhaps a few packers were out shopping.


Anyway, they said they would send it yesterday, and, according to an email from the company, they did.


Our mail generally comes by 10 a.m. It is now 1:30, and our regular mail has not yet arrived. So I am still in pain.


Historic Royal Mail vehicle: Possibly this is how they send my medicine from Tunbridge Wells
Cleverly, though, when I called the company yesterday to complain, I decided to ensure relief by ordering a SECOND batch to be sent yesterday by Royal Mail Special Delivery, guaranteed to be delivered by 1 p.m. today at a cost to me of 9 pounds. For a package weighing a few ounces. But OK. Worth it. Pain means  pain, which is somehow more existentially true than Brexit means Brexit. 
It is 1:30, as noted, and the Special Delivery has not arrived.

I can request a refund of the shipping fee. I WILL request a refund; at the very least, it will put the company sending the medicine on notice that for future orders, they had better attend to at least ONE of my duplicate orders in a timely manner.

Naturally, I phoned Royal Mail customer service; naturally, they said the package is "in our system." A lot of good that does me when the medicine that should be in my system isn't.

But...I have hope. If it doesn't get here until December 19--today being December 12--it will simply prove a belief I developed decades ago when I was a freelancer selling work to New York City publishers. The belief is that it is pointless to attempt any business between after the first of December until people begin to actually acquire the Christmas spirit they extol.

Rockefeller Center, NYC, with its perpetually lovely angels and yearly tree, 2018
 We developed the theory in one of the early years of our freelance writing business when we noticed that it was not only difficult to get an appointment with editors in December, but if we did, we were greeted by seriously snarly people. Editors are generally snarly, though; later, when I was working as an editor, I was snarly. But it was more than that. Cheques were held up, things were not delivered, that sort of stuff. Doing business in NYC in December felt like swimming through molasses in gum boots.

We noticed it again the second year.


The third year, we decided to just take a holiday from Thanksgiving until closer to Christmas. We theorized (this is not the Royal We, by the way; my husband was my writing business partner) that as people began to worry that Santa Claus would pass them by if they were nasty, they would get nicer.

We thought maybe the 15th would work.


Nope. Too early.

We tried doing business the next day and the next and the next. Nada. Finally, on the 19th, things began to click and hum again. We pushed like mad that day and for three more, and then shut down again until January 2. There was no work going to be done in NYC during Christmas week; too many events and a lot of decision-makers at their country house in Connecticut. 
Christmas in Connecticut with Barbara Stanwyck, one of my all-time favourite Christmas films

I have believed that to be true every year since, which makes it about four decades now. And it has been true in several states and two European nations. And now, I don't think it is a self-fulfilling prophecy. I might have a certain strength of mind, but I'm not powerful enough to bring business in all those places to a sorry pass year after year after year.

It is now 2:08. No medicine.

See?  If it gets here before the pain finally kills me, I'll let you know how it all turned out.

Meanwhile, fear the first 19 days of December, or take the lumps.






Thursday, December 6, 2018

A proper glass for gin


 You can have one, too, from amazon. Click here.

On our most recent trip to Ireland, I finally got fed up with the glassware in which gin was being served. Granted, whiskey is Ireland's most prevalent and possibly favourite alcohol. But gin is at the very least a close second, and, in fact, the average Irish hotel bar will have a wide variety of gins and only a few kinds of whiskey--Jameson's, Powers, Bushmill's, typically.

But among gins, most will have at least: 

  • Hendrick's
  • Bombay Sapphire
  • Ophir
  • Tanqueray and
  • Beefeater, my staple gin for at least the past 30 years.

Many will also have Beara Ocean Gin and Drumshanbo Gunpowder Irish Gin.

These two have reached Top Shelf status for me, surpassing even the discoveries at the beginning of my craft gin odyssey, which involved Hendrick's.

A gin to savour


 

Hendrick's was a new and magical gin in the US market about a dozen years ago. I was served Hendrick's by a friend, and I loved it. But it wasn't until I attended a cocktail-making seminar during Agatha Christie Week in her hometown of Torquay, Devon, UK, that I found that it was best garnished with a spear of cucumber, and that in addition to a gently spicy set of botanicals, Bulgarian rose and cucumber were featured in Hendrick's.

It was the fairly ordinary botanicals that drew me to gin in the first place. When I was a child, my parents kept a basic liquor cabinet including gin, whisky (Canadian or US), rum, and vodka. I didn't care about most of them, but by the time I was ten, I realized that gin had an enticing scent. I probably hung around my father's side when he was mixing highballs, as they were virtually always called in the 50s and 60s, for guests. While I never so much as sneaked a drop of any of them, I would often simply open the bottle and sniff the gin. It was the juniper berries that enticed me, and they still do, prominent as they are in Beefeater and its student-budget counterpart, Gordon's. Gordon's even had juniper berries on its label, at least in the US when I was a starving student and could afford nothing else.

I discovered Sapphire, aptly named for its blue colour, about 20 years ago. I didn't like it at first, although now I'm quite happy with it. I bought some ordinary Bombay a while back, simply because I hadn't even seen the clear stuff in years, and because it was cheap. I didn't like it, having been spoiled by more complex recipes. I first discovered Tanqueray because my husband likes it, and actually, with a slice of lime and smoked salmon, it can't be topped. In recent years, I also discovered Ophir, a very spicy gin that's great in cold weather with a powerful cheese.

But my two favourites du jour are Beara and Gunpowder gins.

I first had Beara Ocean Gin at the East Pub at the King Sitric Hotel in Howth, Ireland, a few months ago. They served it with a sprig of samphire in it. Really fine. I've had it served with samphire as a garnish; when the bar was out of it, a fresh rosemary sprig served well.
A whole shelf full of luscious.

Beara is flavoured with the seaside. Really. Purified ocean water from the Irish coast is added, as is sugar kelp harvested in Kerry. Also mixed in is some fuchsia, the vibrant red flower that graces so many Irish hedgerows; it imparts a floral scent. Juniper and citrus fruits finish off the mix. The company notes that fresh air and salt water are good for you, and so decided to deliver them in another element that, as far as I'm concerned, will cure what ails you.
  I first had Gunpowder Irish Gin later in that same trip, while staying at The Park Hotel in Kiltimagh. The bartender served it with a slice of grapefruit. Also really fine.
More lusciousness.....

Gunpowder Irish Gin does not contain gunpowder any more than New York's favourite soft drink, a Chocolate Egg Cream (see below), contains eggs. Rather, it contains a large raft of botanicals, including local Irish meadowsweet, Indian cardamom, Macedonian juniper berries, Romanian coriander seed, German angelica root, Moroccan orris root, Indian caraway seed, and Chinese star anise, as well as kaffir lime, grapefruit, lemon and, of course, gunpowder tea. Gunpowder tea is a slightly acidic, but mild, green tea sourced, as it has been for hundreds of years, in China.
 

But there is a problem....


Gin drinkers generally want to taste the gin, leaving abundant mixers and fancy glasses for the "just get me freaking drunk" vodka crowd.

Lately, especially in Ireland, gin is served, whether with tonic (anathema to me, but fine for my husband) or neat with ice in Copa glasses, which look like the slightly outdated red wine balloons.

Copa glass for gin and tonic, or just gin. Also called gin balloons; stupid glass for a great tipple.
Gin is not pretentious, only interesting and flavourful. As a result, one wants ALL of the libation one has ordered to go down one's gullet, not one's shirt front. If one is having a shot of Gunpowder over ice, one doesn't really want the ice slamming into one's nose as one reaches for the last drops of the delightful stuff. Very frustrating. Plus, sometimes in one's eagerness to get every last drop, one will spill some gin/ice water on one's clothes.

To my mind, there are only three proper glasses for gin. One is the old-fashioned glass, which will deliver the gin plain or over ice without risking getting your nostrils frost-bit, or worse, spilling some of the precious liquid. These glasses work for a short gin and tonic as well.

A row of vintage, unused Cavan Crystal old fashioned glasses. The ones in my house are well-used for G&T and just gin. OK, and sometimes an Irish whiskey old fashioned.

Then there is the highball glass, tall and elegant and useful for a long gin and tonic or a Collins.

And the martini glass, of course, which was invented for the gin martini--the ORIGINAL martini--in preference to coupes, which also were once used for champagne until champagne flutes and tulips replaced them in all but the most old-school establishments.
Galway Crystal Clarity martini glasses.
 I can't pretend to be to serving gin what William Sitwell, food critic and until recently editor of Waitrose Food magazine, is to serving food. Sitwell famously and volubly does not like the modern habit of serving fine meals on square plates.

Well then. I infamously--construe that word and usage as you will--do not approve of serving gin in Copa glasses. Frankly, it is an insult to the fine art of the gin maker to showcase a stupid glass when the serious art of the gin tipple is underway.


SIDEBAR: The Chocolate Egg Cream
 

It was once known only in the environs of New York City. The university I went to, although five hours from NYC in the southern tier of New York State, had so many "downstate" students that it made egg cream ingredients freely available in the dining halls.


What's in an egg cream? Chocolate syrup, seltzer water and milk. Period. The photo below is to demonstrate how it is actually mixed--many updated recipes present it with a cap of foam, like cappuccino. But that's wrong. It would be thoroughly mixed; I suppose the little bit o whipped cream on the top is excusable.










###

C. 2018, Laura Harrison McBride




Wednesday, November 28, 2018

Tories go after Irish peace from any available angle



About four years ago, Gerry Adams was held for three days and questioned by the Northern Ireland Police Service about his involvement, if any, in the abduction and killing of a woman named Jean McConville in 1972, at the height of The Troubles.

Was Gerry Adams in charge of masterminding a murder of the widowed mother of ten children in Northern Ireland in 1971? And why? He was among the first to hang up the violence and work at creating peace...why would he have done a vicious murder in his younger days and turned statesman later on? Do men change their stripes THAT much? 

Usually not. Certainly one of the men who created the problems for Mr. Adams, Anthony McIntyre, had not changed his. McIntyre had been an IRA operative as a young man, spent 18 years in Long Kesh prison, and got out only to begin causing trouble again, notably by proclaiming in print that he lamented the end of Republicanism, in other words, he was sad that armed conflict in Northern Ireland was at an end. Yes, he believed that Ireland should be united; lots of us do. But is it worth the killing to make it so, especially when creating community--however hard--between Prods and RCs is ultimately likely to be more effective and less deadly?

I doubt Adams had anything to do with the killing of Mrs. McConville.  Like most Roman Catholic men in Northern Ireland, Adams had been tossed into the clink a few times, possibly for infractions, or maybe for religion, or maybe for fuck all. But clearly, mayhem was not writ large in his soul as it obviously is in that of Anthony McIntyre. Adams didn't spend long years behind bars; when he got out after the short time he did spend, he began seeking peace instead of seeing if he could inflame partisan emotions as McIntyre did.

But many still believe Adams was not only the mastermind of the McConville murder, but a big noise in the IRA. Was he? Either? I doubt anyone will ever know for sure, simply because on both sides of that conflict, there are still self-serving liars willing to pin their misdeeds on anyone convenient, not least, of course, the UK government.


Blue-haired old ladies were more vicious than Adams

 

But...was Adams a member of the IRA? Maybe. Hell, I knew old ladies who ran bookstores in Florida in the 1970s who were members of the IRA, at least if the buckets of money they shipped out to the IRA was indicative.

The one major thing to know about Gerry Adams, regardless of any other factors at all, is that he was the major broker of the peace that saved all the grousing UK soldiers* from having to patrol the borders of N.I. and the Republic of Ireland. So Adams saved quite a number of lives as well.


But back to Gerry Adams and the bullies and the likely involvement of the UK Tory government. 

Yes, that's what we are talking about. In 2014, all of a sudden, the hero of the Good Friday Agreement was hauled off to jail for three days and questioned about his role in the apparent IRA killing of Jean McConville in 1972. Adams had already agreed to come in and talk with the powers that be; arresting him was meant to embarrass him--in the middle of an election season as he campaigned for a seat in the parliament of the Republic of Ireland.

If this seems odd, that a man from Belfast, NI, can sit in the Irish parliament, be advised that the Republic of Ireland considers ALL of Ireland its nation and all the citizens its citizens, and thus offers representation to its population. It would have been one nation--the Republic of Ireland--if not for the machinations of, many believe, Winston Churchill and Eamon de Valera. But that's another story.

The Republic of Ireland also offers Republic of Ireland passports to citizens of Northern Ireland, something I suspect became quite useful to the predominately Remain voters of NI in fear of Brexit. Lots of UK citizens with Irish ancestors sought Republic of Ireland citizenship as well.



Brexit and Ireland

Brexit was brokered in NI mainly by the DUP, the scourge of a political party founded by Orangeman Ian Paisley the elder (his equally despicable son now holds that crown) to encourage sectarian violence between his Protestant followers and the Catholics who are the original population of NI, until supplanted--by hook and by crook--by Protestants planted there by the British.  It is called the Protestant Plantation, in case you wondered. But it was more like the British appropriation of Irish lands that they then gave to Scots Presbyterians, mainly. Cagey, that; it set two Celtic populations at each other's throats for generations.

By the way, if you didn't know Paisley I was a clergyman, you do now. If it doesn't stun you that a man of the cloth fostered sectarian violence, you're on the wrong side of ethics.

Anyway, Adams was accused--via an oral history project ginned out by Anthony McIntyre and supported by an either complicit or gullible Boston College in Massachusetts--of being at least involved and possibly the mastermind of the killing of Jean McConville. Whether Boston College knew what trash it was supporting in McIntyre's rather secretive work or not is for another time.

But one thing is fairly certain: the machinations of the Tory government of the UK all over the Adams affair.


History of the case

Anthony McIntyre, an IRA member-turned-historian, and Ed Moloney, a journalist, made a deal with Boston College in the US to develop a set of tapes about The Troubles by interviewing those who were, or said they were, involved.

Fair enough.

But if it was so fair, why were all those who participated guaranteed their names would not be revealed until after their own deaths? 

Only one reason comes to mind; because if they were still alive, their statements could be verified when their interviews were revealed. Then they could be in trouble for lying about the bad deeds they'd done, or, worse, telling the truth about bad deeds they'd done. If there were no statute of limitations to apply, they could be prosecuted for whatever wrongdoing they engaged in during The Troubles.


Why any institution of higher learning would engage in such a shamelessly partisan and totally flawed "history" project boggles the mind. For all the college knew--or would know--every last word on the tapes could be fiction. (Ultimately, US courts demanded that Boston College release the tapes.) Or worse, they could be complicit in hiding criminal or terrorist activity if they refused to release the material McIntyre had collected had they been subpoenaed to do so on the basis of probable cause of a crime. (Boston College balked at first, but caved in fairly fast. So much for McIntyre's promises of anonymity to the interviewees.)



One has to wonder who at Boston College was paid to open old wounds, for, clearly, any work of so-called journalism by McIntyre would be suspect. But that, too, is a different consideration from this one.

McIntyre: Partisan rabble dressed as lamb

Aside from having been a much more hard-core member of the IRA than Adams--spending 18 YEARS in Long Kesh for his trouble--McIntyre further compromised himself. In 2008, he had published a book, Good Friday: The Death of Irish Republicanism.  If that doesn't suggest that he was still fighting the Troubles in 2008, I don't know what could. Clearly, he was enamored of the death-dealing Troubles in a way that, also clearly, Gerry Adams was not.


Apparently, co-researcher of the tapes, journalist Ed Maloney, also had "issues" about Gerry Adams. His notable work, A Secret History of the IRA (2002) makes that clear. Maloney contends that as Sinn Fein president, Adams was his target. Indeed, in his review of Maloney's book, Liam O Ruairc noted that the book could have been "better titled A Secret History of Gerry Adams". 

But still, its information depended on a great many unnamed sources, just as the history project would.

First rule of journalism; you can have unnamed sources, but what they say MUST be verifiable elsewhere by named sources or reliable archival records. If not, the journalist will have to reveal them under a court order if one is granted, or go to jail. It is doubtful the history project interviewees knew this; certainly, they couldn't have expected an American journalist and a former thug for the IRA to go to jail to save them.

Assuming that neither McIntyre nor Maloney was willing to go to jail...were they just intent on opening a raw wound with information they thought no one could verify?

What McIntyre and Maloney did, in concert with Boston College, was shoddy journalism to say the least, if it is journalism at all. How do we know the authors didn't make the whole thing up?There was no independent verification of anything those interviewed had to say.

Possibly the authors were trying to sell it as a sort of Foxfire project, the one in which a Georgia teacher wrote down oral histories by aged locals to preserve mountain culture. Of course, those people were happy to be quoted by name, and there were no possible criminal acts involved at any level. Very different from promises by a respected college to keep secret the names of probable criminals.

Both authors of the "tapes to take down Gerry Adams" are unreliable, if not untruthful in toto


Boston College, founded by Jesuits, bends its knee to the UK


A long article in Forbes takes the view that the judge hearing the case against Boston College to release the tapes was doing so partially to please the UK government. Sure. Why wouldn't the UK want to know the names of people they had failed to catch during The Troubles? It would jeopardize the fragile peace, but the UK doesn't care about that. (See below regarding Irish backstop) Of course, the author of that article also referred to the Belfast Project (Boston College Oral History Project) as a "good faith attempt to gather historical evidence," which, clearly, it had every earmark of NOT being.

Longtime Irish-American publisher Niall O'Dowd rang in on the subject on website IrishCentral.com:


Boston College will be hanging its head after Sunday's 60 Minutes' expose that showed the damage the Boston College Oral History Project did to the participants and indirectly the Irish peace process. 

Boston College has never accepted full responsibility for its disastrous handling of the entire episode which caused a massive crisis in the peace process not to mention many participants fearing for their lives.
Some participants who thought the researchers would and could guarantee lifelong anonymity were arrested. The attorney for one of those arrested said:
"Boston College carried out no safeguards in relation to obtaining the interviews...It's our case that the Boston College project was a complete sham."

A sham indeed, as “60 Minutes” presenter Scott Pelley noted in his profile of Sinn Fein leader Gerry Adams.
Why would Boston College and/or the UK government want to throw a spanner into the peace process? That's what they tried to do, although the attempt didn't work.

O'Dowd noted:
(Gerry Adams') opponents are a motley crew of anti-peace process forces, some Irish politicians in the Republic who fear the rise of Sinn Fein, and well placed members of the media who have never forgiven Adams for ending their fantasy that the IRA could be defeated." 
O'Dowd didn't cite the UK government, although I would think "well placed members of the media" points in that direction.

Why? Why would the UK government want strife in Northern Ireland, a part of the United Kingdom? 

Simple. To keep it united with the UK, the predecessors of which had created it in order to appropriate Irish wealth, and not RE-UNITED with the Republic of Ireland, with which it shares a once-integrated land mass and thousands of years of cultural history.  

The longer peace goes on, the more likely that Northern Ireland will decide that reunification with the Republic of Ireland is a good thing; this is, of course, reinforced by the open borders demanded by the EU as the UK continues to try to regain its old Rule Britannia position in the world which--as any glance at current media will reveal--is not bloody likely. Indeed, its nostalgic grab at imperialism via Brexit is greeted as ludicrous by the world at large, while its position regarding The Troubles was decried by some, welcomed by others (mainly the Paisley set of Orange-hued imbeciles.)

So, Brexit?


Who knows how long Brexit was in the sights of the unidentified fascists in the Conservative party. The very thought of a peace process would have terrified them.  That they would lose their wholly owned, terrorist-breeding subsidiary on the island next door--so easy to use to keep tensions high and people under the UK Parliament's control--would certainly have displeased them. And the Good Friday Agreement, while not perfection, was darn good. 

The Republic and NI were interacting pretty much seamlessly, trying in good faith to heal old wounds. When, in 2016, NI voted REMAIN in the EU instead of the UKIP-complicit UK Conservatives' beloved LEAVE, it must have been a rude awakening in the halls of UK power. I can imagine the gnashing of teeth that their juggernaut against Adams of two years earlier had failed. I can imagine this for many reasons, not least of which is that the government, in November 2018, voiced the opinion that the Irish backstop demanded by the EU in any Brexit, and designed to uphold the peace, can be voided.


So it's all of a piece: the sudden need to speak with Gerry Adams, brought to the fore by two men who apparently hated to see the sectarian strife abate, even calling it the end of Republicanism, when in fact, it might be the beginning of reunification. And they are IRISH, at least their names are. But they apparently derive their identities by hating the British but acting like them, an idiotic stance to say the least.

But not unheard of. Indeed, it might well be Stockholm syndrome at its finest. Or maybe greed. Or maybe blood lust. Or maybe all three.

###

Copyright 2018 by LH McBride


Since I wrote this piece a couple of weeks ago, I have spent a week in Donegal with second cousins who have lived in NI and the Republic as well as Scotland, and had conversations with Protestants from Derry. All...ALL...were aghast at May's plans because every single one believes that, even with the backstop May has vowed not to support over time, there will be Troubles. My cousins also noted that as they went back and forth between Glasgow and NI, there was never any roughing up UNTIL the Crown sent Scots soldiers rather than British. Makes sense; NI was created by the British implantation of Scots Presbyterians onto formerly Irish soil, and naturally the Scottish soldiers would have fellow feeling with the Prods and not the RCs.

As for grousing, I admit, that opinion arises from the natterings of only one former UK soldier, a friend of my husband, who delighted in telling me--a citizen of the Republic--how dreadful the RCs in Northern Ireland were and how much he hated being deployed there.


I found that's typical in the UK, actually; some people, when finding out one has Irish citizenship, contort themselves any way they must to cast aspersions on the Irish to see, I suspect, if they can tug your chain. He never knew if he tugged mine; I'd never give him, or anyone, the satisfaction. Bullies, they are.

Wednesday, November 7, 2018

Brexit, Trump, Pelosi, and the power of women

In June, 2016, I lived in Cornwall, and was cautiously hopeful that the Russians, whom some of us already knew were tinkering with the EU referendum (although it was much more than that), would not be able to hijack the vote. They did, with their machinations via Farage and Banks now being exposed.

So we moved to France. 

In spring of 2017, the French went to the polls and elected Emmanuel Macron, a sensible centrist and a quantum galaxy preferable to the National Front whore, Marine LePen, who had gathered some momentum...now almost totally lost, I believe. So, a bit of good news. Indeed, with Merkel's star waning, it appears that Macron, an incredibly smart man, will become the leader of the free world, as the US president once was.



In October, 2017, we moved back to the UK. I missed the green valleys, the abundant nearby beaches, and Waitrose, God's own supermarket.

And I thought Brexit would have failed by now. I STILL think it will fail. Somehow.

Evil is as evil does 


But I've left out the essential part of this: Trump.

When I went to bed in France one night in November two years ago, I cautiously thought Clinton would win, despite Comey's unconscionable re-release of the email flap right before the election. I hadn't factored in the Republican gerrymandering of 2010, lest they have to serve under another black, or god forbid, female president. And, of course, the Russians. This also coming to light.

 


When we awoke, my husband looked at his phone (I don't use a phone for information, except, umm, phone calls) and told me I'd better sit down. Good thing. My heart really did drop, and I'd have passed out cold. 

The magnitude of the horror of New York City's least favorite son besmirching the White House along with everything else he touches was too horrific to tolerate. Had I been a sniper, I think I'd have sacrificed my life to sacrifice his. During the Nixon years, I had a friend who thought she was dying; had she been (she wasn't), she had sworn to kill Nixon as it wouldn't matter to her at that point. Also, she was a little crazy. I'm not a little crazy, at least no more than every decent American who has been pushed over the edge from not liking a president (what decent person liked Bush?) to actively praying for the death of one.

Never until this year did I see all over social media the pleas for the death of a president. It is unique in the history of politics, I think; usually it is crazies who issue death threats, and not normal, sane, decent people who fervently wish for another human to die even if stopping short of issuing death threats. Even putting a toe into that desperate pool is beyond what any of us liberals ever considered thinking about, never mind expressing.


Don't get your hopes up; this is a fake photo from this site.
That is a quantum leap, but not unexpected, I think, considering the magnitude of the destruction 45IQ has, in two years, wreaked on the conditions of Americans, America, democracy and the world the US used to lead.

Adrenalin overload


Why do I care about both the UK and the US, you may well ask. 

Because I live in the UK as an Irish citizen--which puts me in danger if the UK leaves the EU--and my working life was in the US, hence my retirement funds are Soc. Sec. and my husband's 401Ks. So they're subject to the insane and sociopathic whims of the most despicable human to occupy the Oval Office, ever. Emphasis on occupy; he has done NO work, only mischief.

Anyway, I got to worry over both the 45IQ depredations on Soc. Sec. and his disastrous fiscal and economic so-called policies, and about the security of my life with my British husband in the UK for two-plus years.

One way or another, I have had an adrenal-gland whipping couple of years, and they have, indeed, been whipped. To the point that I probably need to resurrect my liver, impaired by binge eating when the political miseries got too bad, and by the nightly martini, as anaesthetic was necessary after a full day of information about Brexit and Cheeto and the destruction both were causing everyone, not just me.

After two years of knowing in my gut and now in The Guardian, if nowhere else, that the Russians paid for and engineered the Brexit Leave vote, I was hoping for some break, somewhere. When that Russian sub was reported surfacing in the English Channel in June, 2016, I KNEW it was symbolic of Russia cutting the UK--a powerful EU nation until then--off from the EU, the better to pick us all off and turn us into slave states for the Kremlin.

This Russian sub was heavily armed and appeared before the referendum. It had been picked up in the North Sea and followed by the British Navy, but we still bold enough to surface in broad daylight in view of Dover. Message, ya think?


There is little good news yet on the Brexit front, so my glands are still flooding my poor beleaguered body with adrenalin. And of course I'm adding the coffee. But having given up gin in favor of my liver, there has to be SOME reward for living through this crap.

 

The Blue Wave 


Anyway, it was with boundless joy that I greeted the generally Blue Wave-ish results from the US elections yesterday. There were major disappointments, to be sure. Texas. Florida. Georgia. But not unexpected. Georgia was founded as a penal colony and apparently intends to remain so. Florida is where old sequins go to die; how much brain can a sequin have? Texas? Cripes. It's a miracle Beto O'Rourke even lived until the vote was over. They deserve what they get. And Beto's in a good position for next time.

I would be ecstatic about the Blue Wave. Not a tsunami as hoped, but enough IF Pelosi had not opened the next round with a "reach across the aisle" mewling of bullshit. Can you stop a robber by saying "pretty please"? No. A baseball bat to the head works much better. And there is Pelosi with a feather duster. She is from the old regime, when women in power had to act like the weakest of men in power. No longer, Nancy, my dear. If this election said one thing, it said this:

Women are NOT the equal of men. Women are more powerful than men. Women are done compromising with you; you haven't the wits to lead, and we are, by god, taking the reins. So get out of the way, or be pushed.

That is, if we can get Pelosi to accept and use her own gender and condition--female and powerful--and stop acting like the "fake men" we used to elect before we understood who we are.


### 

Copyright 2018, LH McBride





Wednesday, October 24, 2018

Extreme goodness begets extreme evil


How could the US go from such a great president to the dirty diaper currently stinking up the White House?

Here are the facts of how that happened:
1. The Russians bombarded the ignorant with lies that they believed.
2. The Russians, probably via the RussiaPublicans, took advantage of unverifiable voting machines to change numbers of votes from Blue to Red.
3. Sanders did not drop out as he should have and thus diluted the Democratic vote.
4. Jill Stein, Russian shill masquerading as an environmental choice, diluted it more. I still just love that photo of her at dinner with Putin.
5. There are still an inordinate number of unreconstructed racists in the US.
6. And STILL it took the vagaries of the Electoral College to install that humongous piece of crap in the highest office in the land. 

So those are verifiable reasons we are suffering--and will probably suffer for years if not decades to come--with a Nazi in the White House.

But it doesn't explain all of it. In truth, the spread between Clinton and Trump should have been far larger, enough to overcome all the right-wing dirty tricks.

But many people stayed home.

Most were Democrats.

They stayed home because they thought Clinton to be an unexciting candidate, or they decided she wouldn't be able to live up to Obama's achievements. Or worse, they believed the total bullshit about her pedophile ring in a pizza parlor's basement...a pizza parlor that has no basement. I would have to classify these people as MAGA Moron wannabes.

Or they bashed her for excusing Bill's dalliance with Monica Lewinsky; excuse me, but I find it admirable when one spouse can excuse the other for human failings and rebuild the relationship, which obviously the Clintons did.





But that's STILL not why we have 45IQ fucking up the US and the world.

We have 45IQ because, simply, Obama was so damn good.

It's a law of physics; for every action, there must be an equal and opposite reaction.

If that were not so, a pendulum could not swing.

Ah, pendulums. Eventually, they run down, each swing being just slightly less powerful than the one before. No one has yet created an eternal pendulum.

Ditto for politics. The only thing I can conclude from this is that if Obama had not been so good, we would not even have had a creature as despicable as Trump in the running. It would have been two average candidates, like Bush and Kerry. (I'm choking alluding to Bush as average, since he's a dolt, but you get the drift.)


But Trump is, at least so far in human history, the most despicable, damaging, moronic leader of a democracy. Ever.  He is bad, bad, bad, bad, bad. Ad infinitum.


So, by rights, the next president should be good, good, good, good, good. Ad infinitum.

But of course, the pendulum may lose power; supporting Trump must be a major task for the quantum pendulum.

Still, if the next Democratic candidate is at least of normal intelligence and has a humane attitude toward his fellow humans as well as an understanding of democracy and the  US Constitution, maybe it will all turn around. Frankly, next to the Jackass of 1600 Pennsylvania Avenue, even Homer Simpson might come across as a genius, although the pendulum demands a bit more than that--a lot more than that--to counterbalance 45IQ.


But first we have to live through this. We must do what we can in the evidentiary world to regain our democracy. We must take wise actions based on facts.

But more than that, we must pray without ceasing that we are able--ALL OF US--to live through this rightward swing of the pendulum until balance can be restored. Sure, we can also pray that the current administration experiences an early dissolution (don't care how), but praying for deliverance is key.

I'm not a religious person, not in the Judeo-Christian sense. I don't believe in an old man in the sky who grants our wishes if he likes us.

I do believe that, in concert with quantum mechanics, thoughts have the power to  create a different experience, and a prayer is nothing but a thought with a sincerely desired result.

So there it is. No matter how we approach it, we must all find a way to pray without ceasing.

And BTW, this will work with Brexit in the UK, too. Even if we are too late with unceasing prayer to stop it, we are not too late to rapidly turn it around and re-enter the EU. Get rid o May and refuse Corbyn, and we might even get a PM who would instantly invoke Article 49 to get us back in.


###

C. 2018, Laura Harrison McBride



The Sign on the PM's Back

by Laura Harrison McBride (This is another analysis piece I wrote at the beginning our our long and ongoing national nightmare. Don&#...