No, sorry, it’s turned into a Pumpkin! Issue 88: Middle East: Houthing up… The three lives of Gene Wilder… A load of guacamole… You scratch my back… And I’ll scratch yours… GW: It never rains but it burns… Essay: Us vs. Them: a draw?…

Middle East: Houthing up

“Hands up. Who in the class believes Iran or its proxy militias would be so stupid as to try to blow up two more oil tankers in the Gulf, right under the nose of the angry headmaster with his big, swishy cane, just while his friend the Japanese Prime Minister was in Tehran on a peace mission?

“Yes, Bolton?”

“Oooh, Miss, look, I’m in the fake news press! It says: ‘The US national security adviser, John Bolton, said Iran was almost certainly involved’.” (Guardian, 13 June)

“And why do you think, Bolton, that the entire class is so stupid as to believe your crazy, hotheaded Irish blarney? I mean, anyone in the school who doesn’t already know you and your friends from the Israeli special forces were smoking behind the bike shed last night. ‘Almost certainly’, what’s that?”

“Because, Miss, blowing up ships and pretending it was the other boys wot did it has always worked to start wars before.”

“And why would you want to start a war, Bolton? People might get hurt.”

“Well, Miss, wars are fun. Things go bang, your shares in Raytheon rocket up like July 4th and your oil export price doubles overnight while strong domestic output keeps consumer prices steady. The Commander-in-Chief gets to look like a leader instead of a leaky, one-winged, criminal mallard with no feathers. The country swings behind him and he’s a slam-dunk for a second term. While Netanyahu’s in for life.

“It’s a win-win-win-win situation we can’t lose. And besides, we haven’t had a good war since the last one I helped start on the basis of flawed intelligence. Mine, that is…. Look, here’s a meme of the Iranians removing a limpet mine from a tanker, so it must be them who put it there, mustn’t it.”

“Fair enough, Bolton, carry on. Class, let’s now turn to page a hundred and seventeen of your Farsi history primer, to where it says ‘And then the US 5th Fleet merrily began bombing, because the White House had been handsomely paid by the Dashing Young Prince of Barbaria'”….

Postscriptum:

In the interests of balance, we should mention that it is being suggested by highly paid experts that Iran might be minimally blowing up foreign tankers as a gesture to warn the Americans they could interdict Saudi oil traffic through the Straits if they wanted to.

I guess even the Americans probably knew that already?

 

A research project at Brown University has concluded that at 59m tonnes, the US military emits more greenhouse gases annually than Portugal.

 

The three lives of Gene Wilder

I see comic actor Gene Wilder just died again. So sad, I was a huge fan. Blazing Saddles… The Producers… if you needed a blond, curly-haired, blue-eyed, blanket-chewing Jewish neurotic with a wispy side, Gene was your man.

But there seems to be something rather odd about the sad news, a chronoclasm that might have interested the late Professor Stephen Hawking, with his theories about Time an’ all.

The BBC reported, today, 10 June 2019:

“US actor Gene Wilder, remembered by many for his lead role in Willy Wonka & the Chocolate Factory, has died at the age of 83, his family has confirmed.”

This happened apparently yesterday, Sunday, and is very sad. Heartfelt tributes were pouring in, from his friend, Director Mel Brooks, actor Russell Crowe, Ricky Gervais and other claim-jumpers.

Cats have nine lives, it’s said, but it seems Willy Wonka had at least three. For, with great foresight BBC News actually published an obituary of Wilder by Arts supremo, Alan Yentob on 29 August, 2016. Clearly it was premature. Because then, they published a news report of his death the following day, on 1 September – which is completely spooky, right? I mean, how did they publish an obituary, not knowing the subject was going to die the very next day?

But then, for some unknown reason, they’ve repeated the story today, 10 June, 2019. Why, the man is a veritable Schrödinger’s Cat. Was he dead, or wasn’t he? Just how relativistic is Time, as a concept? We’re not being told, although we definitely should be.

At the bottom of the page is a link: “Why you can trust BBC News”. It takes you to another page, which begins:

“The BBC is recognised by audiences in the UK and around the world as a provider of news that you can trust. Our website, like our TV and radio services, strives for journalism that is accurate, impartial, independent and fair.”

But not necessarily much less than three years old.

The average age of a BBC TV viewer is said to be 62 and rising. Not all of us have Alzheimer’s, as Wilder did, but clearly the Editor of the BBC News website is in urgent need of nursing care.

 

Interviewed on ABC TV about Don Jr’s latest appearance before the House over his 9 June, 2016 meeting with Russians, that he lied was about adoptions, Don Sr said he’d certainly consider offers of foreign help to get elected in 2020, and probably not tell the FBI if he thought it wasn’t illegal.

Er…

 

A load of guacamole

“The president stakes out a maximalist position but never clearly defines his objectives. That way, after he backs himself into a corner, he can use a deal of any kind, even if it’s merely a fig leaf, to justify retreating from whatever misguided policy he’s threatened. Then he declares victory, having done little to nothing to solve the underlying problem.” – Senator Chuck Schumer, on Trump’s phoney triumphalist brinkmanship.

Before coming over to hobnob with his favorite gal, HM Queen, the only person on earth who, by virtue of her apolitical contract can never, ever mock or criticize him, Trump announced, as usual by tweet, yet another unexpected policy initiative he had apparently discussed with no-one other than the little yammering faces of Fox & Friends on the White House TV screens, his only connection with reality.

In lieu of funding for the Wall, he was imposing a tariff on all products coming over the border from Mexico, starting at 5% and rising monthly to 25%, until Mexico agrees to do more to stop refugees and other migrants from reaching the US border.

(The Editor writes: It is the policy of the BogPo to refer to “refugees and other migrants”, rather than just “animals”, “rapists”, “terrorists”, “M-13 gang members” or “drug lords” until someone tells us just what the hell is going on in his diseased brain.)

Returning days later from his successful European trip, while heading off to another of his golf courses for a few well-deserved days’ r&r, Trump tweeted that he might not after all be imposing the tariffs most economists agree would hurt American consumers and businesses more than they would hurt Mexico.

This was because he had done a Great Deal: Mexico had agreed to send the National Guard to the Guatemalan border and promised to buy billions of dollars’ worth of US agricultural goods, to please our “patriotic farmers” who have been royally screwed by Trump’s China tariff war and the endless rain and are committing suicide in droves.

This left Mexico’s government somewhat confused, as the National Guard has already been sent to the border, that happened during Obama’s presidency, and there was no agreement they knew of, to buy more US farm produce. So he resorted to the ancient art of bullshit and, like Chamberlain returning in triumph from Munich, peeled from his shoe a piece of paper he said was the new agreement.

Mexico is, in fact, we believe without fact-checking, a net exporter of agricultural produce to the US, while of course presumably importing as much corn and soybean back from the gringos as they can use; of avocados and beer and also of Tequila, that being the nature of the close trading relationship the now-dead NAFTA created between the neighboring countries.

He seems to have either dreamed it, or he made it all up.

Meanwhile, Trump’s violent posturing over immigration has caused a great panic, and vast numbers more South American refugees and migrants have reportedly been heading up through Mexico to the Arizona border, totry to beat any further extreme measures he might tell his worshipful dumbfucks he’s taking, that he might actually take.

It’s all a crisis of his own making.

Once again rave-tweeting and yelling in all-caps at the “failing” New York Times for pointing out these simple-to-check facts, totally fake nooze, waving a piece of paper he says proves him right, nevertheless Trump appears to have been caught out in his 10 thousand, seven-hundred and somethingth lie since assuming office.

But you can see this time it was for the good of the country. And the “patriotic” farmers he loves*.

*Why does he keep calling them that? Because he has had to invent an alternative reality in which the farmers support his crippling 25% tariffs on Chinese imports, even though retaliatory Chinese measures have essentially destroyed the hugely valuable US soybean and pork trades, that many analysts believe may never recover. Other sources say they don’t, not really.

 

You scratch my back…

“For his dubious role as the ‘godfather’ of Reaganomics, Slate dubbed him World’s Worst Economist. He’s been called a key part of the ‘Intellectual Rot of the Republican Party’. Esquire suggested that Laffer’s turn as the architect of the disastrous Brownback tax experiment in Kansas should hang ‘like a dead possum’ around his neck for the rest of his days.”Guardian

They say he who Laffs last, Laffs loudest, and Mr Arthur “Dead Possum” Laffer is certainly taking the piss out of the rest of us. He’s the author of a famous graph, the Laffer Curve, showing on a restaurant table napkin how, if you take all the money away from the poorest people at the bottom and hand it gratis to the people right at the top, everyone gets richer.

And having written a garbage hagiography about “Trumponomics” (basically, the art of extortion, debt default and bank fraud), he is Laffing all the way to the White House shortly, to receive a medal from the Golden Shower, Mr Very Stable Smarts himself.

The Presidential Medal of Freedom is the country’s highest civilian honor, awarded in this case to the man who has successfully persuaded the criminal kleptocracy in Congress that they can deny economic freedom to the maximum number of Americans while ordering up their fifth superyacht, from which everybody benefits.

The lunacy of Laffer has been well exposed, both theoretically and empirically, but still the very rich go on using his cretinous theory to justify their egregious acts of State-sanctioned theft. And why wouldn’t they?

But wait, what’s this? Why, step forward Boris “Watermelon Smiles, etc.” Johnson, kitchen-table racist front-runner for the worst job in British politics. With the beaming endorsement of his fellow narcissist, America’s stupidest-ever President, Johnson is bidding for the leadership of the Headless Chicken party against nine lesser dangerous lunatics on a platform of…. £9.6 billion-worth of Laffer-inspired tax cuts for the higher-rate taxpayer, combined with the expensivest of hard Brexits (paid for by a giant, crippling Trumponomic-style sovereign debt default, for which Messrs Standard and Poor’s will surely beat us into the ground).

After nine years of austerity and with the social fabric of Lesser Britain already ripped to shreds and lightly tossed away in a dumpster, or skip as we called them in the days of our independence, let’s see how that goes, shall we?

 

And I’ll scratch yours

Meanwhile, reports of astounding levels of corruption are swirling around Trump enabler and obstructionist Senate leader, “Cocaine” Mitch McConnell, who is married to Trump’s transportation secretary, Elaine Chao.

Ms Chao has apparently been caught failing to obey an Ethics committee ruling that to avoid conflict of interest she should divest her substantial shareholding in a transportation-linked company, one of America’s biggest suppliers of road-building materials. With every mention of infrastructure projects, her shares get ratcheted up a notch.

Bad enough but, as MSNBC’s Rachel Maddow reports, citing extensive press coverage in the past fortnight, Chao has been abusing her cabinet status to promote business links and lucrative contracts between a Chinese state-owned shipping company run by her father and the Commerce department, while discouraging grants and contracts for US competitors; and has created a private back-channel through her office specifically to fast-track grants for infrastructure projects in McConnell’s home state of Kentucky to improve his re-election chances.

It being noted that McConnell oversaw the approvals process in the Senate by which his wife got the cabinet post in the first place. Welcome to Trumpworld.

According to reports, McConnell – who is the major roadblock for any possibility of getting a slam-dunk Trump impeachment from the House through the Senate – has benefitted from $78 million dollars’ worth of private contracts this way.

Odd this should have come out now, what with so much pressure on House speaker, Nancy Pelosi, to get impeachment proceedings under way, her bein’ so shy, an’ all. It isn’t working.

 

GW: It never rains but it burns

China: At least 7 people have died after record heavy rain and flooding in southern China over the last few days. In Guangxi, “torrential rain from around 09 June caused flooding that left at least 1 dead and 4 missing. In Xinhua, a total of 514,000 people were affected and 45,000 displaced.” “In Guizhou province, an entire town was submerged under 2m (6ft 6in) of water”. There’s been infrastructure damage and thousands of Ha of crops ruined. (BBC News) “National Meteorological Center said that some areas recorded as much as 93mm (4-in.) of rain per hour and between 250 and 300mm in 24 hours on 09 June, 2019.” Continued heavy rain for southern areas is forecast. (from: Floodlist)

Afghanistan: “At least 3 people died and dozens of houses were destroyed after flash floods in Badakhshan province, 08 June. Wide areas of crops and farmland were also damaged. Over 100 people have died and thousands of homes destroyed in a spate of flood events in the country that began in March this year. In neighboring Tajikistan, 2 people died in a mudslide after heavy rain, 04 to 07 June. Homes were damaged or destroyed and about 80 people rescued. (from: Floodlist)

India: The death toll from the “unbearable” heatwave that’s persisting over northern India, said to be the worst ever, had risen by 02 June to more than 500*, as temperatures in places (and into Pakistan) have several times exceeded 50C, 123F. 4 people were reported to have died from heatstroke on a train journey in Kerala. Authorities were having to waste scarce water pouring it on roads to stop them melting. Ironically, only next month’s monsoon is expected to bring relief – and with record rainfall around the world, it’s only going to create a different kind of problem. (BBC News/NDTV)

*I don’t know where this figure came from, later reports say less than 40.

Update: the “rare” monsoon now arriving in the NW Indian state of Kerala is organizing in the Arabian sea as a fullblown cyclone, named Vayu. With 130km winds strengthening, and bearing up to 10-in. of rain, it’s due to make landfall 13 June as a Cat 3 in Gujarat state, north of Mumbai, heading on up across the border towards the populous city of Karachi in Pakistan by the weekend. A track the Wunderground people are calling “uncommon”.

These uncommon hurricane tracks are becoming quite common, in your old Gran’s opinion. The last Cat 3 to hit Gujarat in 1998 killed over a thousand people. (BBC/The Weather Channel)

Indonesia: Thousands of people have been affected by flooding in Sulawesi. The death of a baby was reported. Bridges, roads, health facilities, crops and fisheries have all been damaged.

Haiti: At least 3 people have died and an unknown number are dead or missing after flooding affected several provinces. “Roads, bridges and over 500 homes have been flooded or damaged and as many as 17 homes have been destroyed.” (from: Floodlist)

Maldive Islands: “Local media are reporting that heavy rain has caused flooding in the northern islands of the country over the last few days. The country has seen a spate of severe weather over the 10 days (to 10 June), and the latest flooding brings the total number of houses damaged to almost 600 since late May.” (from: Floodlist)

USA: At least 4 people have died after storms and heavy rainfall swept across southern and south eastern states in the USA from 05 June. Boone, North Carolina, recorded 13.57 inches (344.68 mm) of rain in 72 hours to 09 June, 2019. Other areas in the southeast also recorded high rainfall totals. NWS Atlanta said parts of Peachtree City recorded 7.81 inches of rain from 07 to 09 June. There was flooding too in New Orleans, after up to 8-in of rain fell in 72 hours. 1 person was killed when a helicopter crashed in heavy rain on the roof of a skyscraper in New York.

Meanwhile westerly states are expecting record temperatures. “Phoenix is likely to see its first 110-plus-degree temperatures of the year by Tuesday or Wednesday. Highs in mid-90s are forecast as far north as Portland, Oregon. Daily record highs could be threatened in a few locations through midweek. This includes Portland and Phoenix on Wednesday; the current daily records for June 12 are 93 degrees and 112 degrees, respectively. San Francisco tied its daily record high of 91 degrees on Sunday afternoon” – before hitting 96F on Monday. (The Weather Channel) (112F is 44C)

KTAR news reports, the Woodbury Fire in remote hills east of Phoenix jumped to 6,000 acres 12 June, and had more than doubled to 13,000 by the 13th, as 112 deg. temperatures and strong winds contributed to the spread. 600 firefighters are on the scene but the fire remains 0% contained.

Canada: More than a dozen fires still burning, 6 out of control, in Alberta province after more than a month are turning skies red over South Carolina USA, two thousand miles to the southeast, while their smoke has been detected by the UK Met Office. More than 10 thousand people are still unable to return to their homes. No new fires have broken out today, 11 June, but almost 700 thousand Ha of forest have been burned.

Reports of equivalent wildfires in southern Siberia have dried up somewhat, but the BogPo belatedly records a report from Greenpeace Russia that “catastrophic” fires at the end of April/early May destroyed homes, crops, forest and wildlife, causing many burn injuries, over a vast area. Siberian Times reported, forest roads around Irkutsk were closed, as residents reported increased asthma attacks and skies turning black. Smoke was detected as far away as Washington DC. The fires spread unchecked also across thousands of Ha of prairie in neighboring Mongolia.

Turkey: 5 people are reported to have died in flash flooding in the capital, Ankara, on 09 June. Emergency services attended over 370 calls for aid. The mayor says the city received 5 times the amount of rain predicted. (Floodlist) The provincial Governor’s offices were flooded out. It’s the 5th time Ankara has experienced severe flooding in the past 13 months. (Bianet)

Yemen: “Strong winds, heavy rain and flash floods have hit several parts from 08 June, causing major damage and at least 3 deaths. Aden saw 77mm of rain, most falling in a 3 hour period. Houses and roads were submerged. Satellite images showed rainfall rates of up to 35mm per hour in southern and western areas of the country. Further severe weather warnings have been issued as Typhoon Vayu intensifies in the Arabian Gulf, with outer rainbands stretching hundreds of miles around. (from Floodlist)

UK: Hours of steady downpours have brought much of the rail network to a halt in parts of the south of England, and many suburban roads around London are under water. The M25 London beltway has been closed as two sinkholes have opened up. The Met Office says the region has seen a month’s worth of summer rain in 24 hours, with another month’s worth to come over the next 3 days. Yellow warnings are out as the system is slowly moving northwards. (BBC Weather)

Floodlist reports similarly intense rainfall across Europe causing flash floods in Italy, Germany, Greece and Poland. Severe hailstorms have also been reported in Germany, Italy, Poland, Croatia and Slovenia, and landslides in northern Italy.

Approaching tunnel….

Mount Bolshy: Russian geophysicist Ivan Koulakov is warning that the 9,500 ft Mt Bolshaya Udine, a volcano in the Udine chain on the Kamchatka peninsula declared extinct in 2017, may not be. A M4.3 earthquake suggests it might be waking up, with possibly catastrophic consequences.

Road resurfacing? Some seismic activity seems possibly occurring in the downtown Los Angeles area as liquid tar has begun bubbling up across from the La Brea tar pits along the Miracle Mile, accompanied by much outgassing of methane. The Blessed Mary Grealey records that the media doesn’t seem very interested. CBS reports, residents say it’s not unusual, but it’s never been this bad before. Cooler weather is forecast from tomorrow, 11 June.

(Rainy Sunday afternoon TV viewers might recall a 1997 movie called Volcano!, starring Tommy Lee Jones, in which an eruption trashes Los Angeles {but he heroically stops the lava with a line of overturned buses… as if!})

Vicious cycle: “Carbon emissions from the global energy industry last year rose at the fastest rate in almost a decade after extreme weather and surprise swings in global temperatures stoked extra demand for fossil fuels. BP’s annual global energy report revealed for the first time that temperature fluctuations are increasing the world’s use of fossil fuels, in spite of efforts to tackle the climate crisis. … BP (plans) to drill new oil wells which could hold up to 30m barrels of oil.” (Guardian)

Your Granny assumes that’s a Grauniad error and they mean 30bn, as 30m barrels is only 8 hours’ worth, globally speaking. We’re basically fucked.

 

Essay: Us vs. Them: a draw?

Would some helpful statistician kindly reflect and possibly comment on the extraordinary and growing phenomenon of political polarization?

The more choice of parties there appears to be, the more freedom to vote for whatever you like, the more atomized politics has become in a world of mass personalization and “identitarianism”, the closer the results seem to get, between the same old left-right-split parties. It’s like we’re afraid to reach out, except to ever-more authoritarian, religio-racist groups on the right and anachronistic class-warfare dinosaurs on the left.

But you don’t have to be a weeping libtard snowflake Blairite centrist! Why would you not vote for the Green Party agenda, for instance? For a better life? Another way of doing business? From Schumacher to Herman Daly, Greenomics has a perfectly sound intellectual base.

The narrowness of electoral margins seems to be becoming endemic. Brexit (52%-48%) and Trump (50.5%-49.5% in favor of Clinton) being famous cases in point, there have been many others. The 2017 Austrian election, for instance, was too close to call and had to be rerun. The British election in the same year resulted in a hung Parliament; as had the 2010 election, with only a wafer-thin Conservative majority in 2015. The Australian election was daylight cobbery and resulted in a tiny squeaking upset for the favored Labour opposition party.

Many uneasy coalitions have had to be formed in other countries, too, in order to keep the wheels in motion.

Yesterday’s Israeli Parliamentary election resulted in a dead-heat at 37 Knesset seats apiece between the two main parties, victory being claimed for a fifth term by the deeply unpleasant and authoritarian religio-racist, Netanyahu only because his party panders unashamedly and often illegally to the demands of more of the smaller and loonier rightwing religious parties than his opponent’s could.

Is it a function of more proportional voting systems? Not in first-past-the-post Britain. Should we blame the media for encouraging a more adversarial climate in the name of entertainment, are politicians more inclined to use ‘divide and rule’ as a tactic, or is there some meta-statistical reason, perhaps connected with rising population numbers or changing class expectations, for these inconclusive outcomes?

It occurs to me on re-reading this that humans themselves may have become polarized – or, in a sense, paralysed. I’m currently – I confess – becoming quietly resigned on the subject of Brexit, that I have been frothing against since long before the referendum, when I could see perfectly clearly that it was a rightwing neocon coup attempt, nothing much to do with Europe, sponsored by disruptors in the USA and Russia, and nobody else seemed to have realised.

Now, I simply can’t decide, or any longer bring myself to care, about what ought to happen next. Whatever it is, we deserve it. I’ve bought my toilet paper, my canned sardines and a month’s supply of Pot Noodle, I’m set for a siege.

I literally “switch off” – my radio, when yet another Leave politician is trotted out, frothing and swivel-eyed, to repeat the same old bullshit mantras to the same old interviewers asking the same old questions, week after week, sucking all the air from the news agenda – and none of them with a single interesting or helpful idea to offer, as the planet fries.

If asked to vote, frankly I’d have to toss a coin – statistically resulting in a 49.5% to 50.5% split, obviously, if enough people were to do the same.

Psychologists always trot out the ‘Fight or Flight’ cliche when describing the survival strategies available to sentient organisms facing existential threats. They regularly ignore the third ‘F’, “Freeze”.

Politics is everywhere frozen. As are we all.

The Pumpkin – Issue 33: Guns – the tired old debate cranks up again… ‘A 64-year-old retired accountant’… Is he a terrorist?… ‘Let them eat towels’…. Granny W. : Your windswept old gal in a bus shelter

Now that’s all blown over I’m asking Greg Norman to build Puerto Rico the bigliest new beautiful golf course! (Photo montage: waragainstallpuertoricans.com)

 

“It scarcely helps that the President himself utters bloodcurdling threats of mass violence…”

Guns – the tired old debate cranks up again

As the President who mysteriously switched in a heartbeat last year from being pro-gun control to being pro-gun, and was then elected to office, mouthed the stiff platitudes copywritten for him by an aide, offering ‘warm condolences’ to the families of the victims as if their elderly Labradors had passed away in their sleep, and promised by omission to do absolutely nothing to upset the gun lobby, a performance repeated on a semi-monthly basis, the tired old debate about guns and Americans was cranking up yet again.

There have been only two days in the last twelve months when there has not been a ‘mass shooting’ incident (defined as four-plus dead) in the USA, yet the rustic dumbfucks and Republican shills for the arms industry go on defending their ‘right’ to buy and bear arms, and to blow people away if need be, defending themselves against other idiots with guns; while the urban liberals and Democrats go on pleading for ‘something’ to be done, even though they know it’s hopeless and that nothing now will make a difference, short of wholesale disarmament.

The face of America today: mild-mannered accountants on vacation.

It scarcely helps that the President himself utters bloodcurdling threats of mass violence against individuals and indeed, whole civilian populations; encourages his supporters in violent acts, refuses to condemn white nationalist outrages and refers to his vast military arsenal as ‘great big, beautiful weapons’. The man is obviously unhinged, we have all known it for many months, many alarmed psychiatrists agree, but there he still squats, like a smug orange toad on your democracy.

With 300 million guns in the hands of 150 million American owners, the horse has already bolted and no amount of heaving at the stable door is going to prevent the next act of self-declamatory public mass-murder, in a country where over 30 thousand people are killed each year, and God knows how many tens of thousands wounded, in shooting incidents; and where so many well-armed people feel unnoticed, disenfranchised and unrewarded by life in that competitive, acquisitive, dog-eat-dog society, where a gun feels and smells like power.

The Second Amendment does not in fact guarantee the absolute right of every American to buy, own and carry down the street, to school or a movie, a semi-automatic AR-15 assault rifle capable of mildly illegal modification with a mail-order device costing $99 to fire repeated rounds automatically, let alone a .32 calibre Saturday-night Special, an Abrams tank or a rocket grenade-launcher.

While the right to own a firearm at all was not in contest, in 2008 the District of Columbia lost its argument in the Supreme Court that it might in general prevent a certain Mr Heller owning a gun regardless of whether or not he belonged to a militia, which was ruled not to be an actual condition despite the clear wording of the Amendment. Nevertheless, special laws restricting gun ownership were held to be permissible, in the famous 5-4 majority ruling by Judge Anthony Scalia:

“The Court stated that the right to keep and bear arms is subject to regulation, such as concealed weapons prohibitions, limits on the rights of felons and the mentally ill, laws forbidding the carrying of weapons in certain locations, laws imposing conditions on commercial sales, and prohibitions on the carrying of dangerous and unusual weapons. It stated that this was not an exhaustive list of the regulatory measures that would be presumptively permissible under the Second Amendment.” (Library of Congress)

The apologists for and defendants of the National Rifle Association, which stubbornly represents the hugely profitable interests of the arms manufacturers and dealers and stuffs the mouths of corrupt politicians with blood-money, have never seemingly accepted that, unlike, for instance, owning a swimming-pool, gun ownership should be subject to any form of control; and unfortunately, the Scalia ruling was amended by a minority judgement to allow individual States to go on making their own rules, so that in some recent perverse court judgements neither the mentally ill, nor previously convicted criminals, can be deprived of the right to carry a gun openly in the street.

The laws in Nevada are notoriously lax, although in this case the man purchasing the guns was, says the dealer, subject to standard FBI checks. Thus, ’64-year-old retired accountant’ Stephen Paddock, a man with no prior convictions, who owned two private aeroplanes and a large collection of weapons no-one close to him seems to have known he even had, was able perfectly legally to carry ten suitcases full of rifles and ammunition to the 32nd floor of a Las Vegas hotel, from where after a week in residence (it’s usually a week) he poured down fire indiscriminately onto a crowd of concertgoers, killing (thus far) 59 and wounding 530 others, before taking his own strangely quiet life.

Police are, say the media, at a loss to understand why he did it. There was absolutely no indication: no note, nothing on social media where he seems to have had no presence, no ‘manifesto’, no neighbourly or family suspicions.

He was white, middle-aged, a non-Muslim. He had plenty of money, a girlfriend, a home. He was a major shareholder in a Dallas condominium, from which he derived rental income. He gambled regularly for high stakes; it does appear that prior to his breakdown he had been gambling up to 20 thousand dollars a day, but was not especially known to have big losses. Was that recklessness with his money a sign of impending chaos, an empty gesture, a deliberate throwing away of everything he had gained, but not his self-regard?

Madness in his eyes: Alex Jones of InfoWars. (photo: Arstechnica.com)

Nor was he known to have particularly strong views on politics, race or religion (ISIS has of course claimed ownership of the incident, but no-one is believing them.) Nor was he suspected of any mental illness, although the alt-right agitprop websites and 4chan trolls are trying to claim without a shred of evidence that he was a fanatical liberal lefty anti-Trump protester and a member of Antifa, the anti-fascist pressure group. Alex Jones, a man with such madness burning in his eyes you instinctively want to sedate him, is using his InfoWars site (as approved by President Trump) to blame the Washington Deep State and their Islamic allies; while The Deplorables Army, a Trump dumbfucks’ website, has already established beyond doubt that Hillary Clinton was behind it.

The Pumpkin has no problem in believing, for want of any other explanation, that Stephen Paddock was, if you like, the ultimate expression of the American way of life: a moderately successful but perhaps secretly disappointed man who had reached retirement age and saw ahead only a future of Bingo games and bridge rubbers with elderly divorcees at his dreary suburban retirement park. A private and introverted individual by all accounts, he perhaps saw in the secret stashing-away of an arsenal of lethal weapons, the power and control he lacked over the enviable or detestable lives of others. The degree of detailed control over his lethal operations, including the placing of webcams in the hotel to check on the arrival of the police, is especially chilling.

Had he possibly had a fatal diagnosis, of Alzheimer’s or cancer, perhaps? And decided in his introverted fashion, Pharaoh-like, to take as many others with him as he could – especially young people, whose unfinished lives he must have resented? Was there possibly some mental defect buried in the family history? The Paddocks’ father had at one time robbed banks and was hunted down (briefly, as an escaped fugitive from gaol, America’s Most Wanted) and arrested by the FBI, and diagnosed as a ‘psychopath’ with ‘suicidal tendencies’ – so why wouldn’t one of his three sons have inherited the same condition?

Or maybe he just didn’t like country music, who knows. Perhaps we shall never know.

The words ‘a 64-year-old retired accountant’ probably say it all.

 

Postscriptum: A US report says the average charge to the victim for being admitted by ambulance to a hospital emergency care ward with a gunshot wound is $96 thousand, not including the longterm rehabilitation and therapy that most gunshot victims need.

It is, in short, probably better if you live in America that you should be killed outright than spend your life in pain and debt over something that wasn’t your fault. (And let’s not forget the insane attempts by Trump to take away health insurance cover from 32 million Americans, just because it’s being administered under an Obama program.)

 

Is he a terrorist?

The Guardian reports that the FBI defines terrorism thus:

 “…an intent to “intimidate or coerce a government, the civilian population, or any segment thereof, in furtherance of political or social objectives”.

So, is Donald John Trump a terrorist?

“North Korea best not make any more threats to the United States,” Mr. Trump told reporters in remarks aired on television and broadcast around the globe. “They will be met with fire and fury like the world has never seen.” – The Telegraph

“When a reporter asked the president about his threatening “fire and fury like the world has never seen,” Trump said “maybe it wasn’t tough enough.” Followed by “maybe that statement wasn’t tough enough” and “if anything, that statement may not be tough enough.”- New York Times

“The US has great strength and patience,” Trump said. But he added: “If it is forced to defend ourselves or our allies, we will have no choice but to totally destroy North Korea. … Rocket Man is on a suicide mission for himself and for his regime.” – The Guardian

“Just heard Foreign Minister of North Korea speak at U.N. If he echoes thoughts of Little Rocket Man, they won’t be around much longer!” – @realdonaldtrump tweet, 

Well, so’s the other guy:

“In an unprecedented statement on Friday, Mr Kim described Mr Trump as a ‘mentally deranged dotard’ whom he would tame with fire.

He said North Korea would consider the ‘highest level of hard-line countermeasure in history’ against the United States and that Mr Trump’s comments had confirmed his nuclear programme was ‘the correct path'”. – The Telegraph

If you or I did this stuff, we’d be pulled in for questioning. Who put these two self-obsessed, power-drunk playground bullies, with their tiny genitals and abusive fathers, in charge of the store?

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“Now we just shrug and ask, what do we expect?”

Let them eat towels

Trump reminds me of the famous stunt rider, Evel Knievel. He’s constantly trying to raise the bar on his own stupidity, steadily increasing the number of buses he needs to jump his motorcycle over before he breaks his fat orange neck in the full glare of publicity.

The Commander-in-Chief mops up the mess in Puerto Rico (Businessinsider.com)

Two weeks after the event, here was Trump finally making landfall in remote Puerto Rico on a carefully managed four-hour mercy tour of selected safe parts of the island in which he saw almost none of the devastation and met none of the hardest-hit victims in the hinterland, to explain why they still have no water or electricity, functioning transportation, roads, food and medical care, or even a roof over their heads, as the known number of dead climbs from 16 to 34.

The images of Trump, a big man, towering over a hangar-full of simpering media folk and handpicked, scrubbed-up local Republicans, chucking packs of paper towels at them as if they were monkeys in a zoo, grinning and constantly praising himself for his ‘A-plus’ efforts at spending Federal funds on what even his leading Army general on the ground is complaining is the utterly inadequate response to the double-hurricane disaster, comparing it airily with Hurricane Katrina, which was handled far worse and caused lots more brown people to die, were just repellent.

And at the press conference he continued to blame the lazy victims for not doing enough to help themselves, and to whine about the criticism of his administration, and the cost of the clear-up, and the unfairness of blaming him, and how great everyone said he was doing. Where were the local truck drivers? He demanded to know, why weren’t they distributing the masses of aid piling up on the dockside? Meanwhile, the Mayor of San Juan, who had been wading around in waist-high water for days overseeing rescue and recovery, was muzzled and sidelined and abused as a ‘poor leader’ for daring to criticize a man – a moronic sack of shit, depending on your viewpoint –  who has clearly confused himself with the United States of America – a rapidly disintegrating empire on the far edge of nowhere.

Six months ago it would have been shocking to see the President of the United States behaving like that. Now we just shrug and ask, what do we expect? The coverage prompted at least one contributor on MSNBC to voice what we’re all feeling: we’re sick and tired of hearing and watching this horror show, this malevolent oaf doing mindless, clumsy, brutally incompetent stuff like this every damn day.

Coming on top of his insincere speechwritten response to the Las Vegas massacre, the nauseating religiosity, the ‘warm condolences’, the brushing aside of concerns over the lack of legal gun controls that might have mitigated the horror of Paddock’s elaborately staged suicide, how can there any longer be any rational argument for Republicans allowing him to remain in office a minute longer?

Or is it just that he makes them look good?

“…the majority of people in Puerto Rico remain without clean water, the electricity grid is inoperable, cell towers are down, roads are impassable, food is rotting, and many of the elderly and the sick have been left without care. All of this is happening in America, rather than some place distant from this country. But instead of emphasizing that closeness, or a sense of mutual obligation, Trump has, so far, focussed on how different Puerto Rico is, and what its people owe him, which is, above all, their gratitude.” – Amy Davidson Sorkin, the New Yorker 27 September

This bizarre, solipsistic figure, for whom the only external reality is Donald J Trump, actually tweeted when he thought about it three days after the event, in the wake of Hurricane Maria, which hit the island as a Category 4 superstorm and killed actual people, that Puerto Rico owes a lot of money and they should pay back Wall Street for keeping them going.

Like he should pay back all the foreign banks he has stiffed for $billions in his rotten career, maybe?

Ah said oops upside yo head…

This Coke-and junkfood-bloated non-dirigible, whose hapless advisers plead they cannot advise him because he simply does not listen, and becomes angry whenever he thinks anyone is telling him how to do the job, so they just hover in the background and try to keep him on an even keel and hope he doesn’t call for the nuclear football when no-one is around to put a bullet in his head, is not merely mishandling the crisis on Puerto Rico. Oh, no.

He’s not just being a bit slow and incompetent, or like W Bush, a bit thoughtless and useless. No.

Look, you saw how quickly he reacted, how positive he was when it was Houston on the receiving end of climate change, and Port Arthur – the hub of the US-owned global energy bidness. Hell no.

With Puerto Rico, an island populated by spics, probably rapists, and losers, Trump is actively trying to prevent three and a half million desperate American citizens from getting the additional help they need, instead bloviating pompously at the visiting Spanish Prime Minister, Mr Rajoy, about how the governor of Puerto Rico praised him for the great, wonderful efforts he has made on their behalf; how grateful the Puerto Rican people are to him, while the governor is in fact on his knees begging for more help as FEMA and the National Guard struggle on, strapped for resources and without a plan, to try to deliver food and water to the remotest parts of the stricken island.

It cannot have escaped his notice that Mr Rajoy shares a cultural heritage with the majority of Hispanic Americans on the devastated island, which he referred to as being ‘in the middle of a big, a very big ocean’, like Neville Chamberlain refusing to go to the aid of Czechoslovakia when the Nazis annexed the Sudetenland: ‘It is a far-off country, of which we know little’.

The American people are, we know, outstandingly insular: a recent poll showed that about half do not know that Puerto Rico is US territory and the people who live there hold American citizenship.

Mr Trump indeed knows little. In fact he knows fuck-all, and cares even less. A moral imbecile, he is not fit to be a toilet attendant, let alone president of anywhere real.

But until he gets his bestial tax reforms through, giving $5 trillions away to his wealthy pals and their corporations, beggaring the rest; and until he can destroy Obamacare, the only lifeline offered to millions trapped in a rapacious business culture of privatized medicine, and replace it with something much, much cheaper so he can pay for the tax ‘reforms’ and the obscene, pointless, bloated military budget, he is going to behave meanly, moodily and miserably, holding three and a half million Puerto Rican lives against the recalcitrance of a tiny handful of Republican senators who, successfully completing the Captcha test to prove they are actual humans, refuse to go along with the utter shit that drivels from his twisted, angry little mole-rat mouth.

And meanwhile, he diverts attention from these gangsterish behaviors by mounting an all-out assault, uttering insults and threats against a football player who refuses to stand for the national anthem until someone in authority stops America’s out-of-control, racist police from shooting unarmed black people for no good reason. That won’t be Trump, for whom police brutality is a given. And is trying to bully the poor millionaires who own the NFL clubs into sacking any player, any ‘sonofabitch’ who doesn’t ‘respect the anthem, respect America’ – by which of course he means, respect the 45th President Donald J Trump, a grotesque liar and moron wrapped in a flag.

Postscriptum:

And this morning, we hear of the welcome ‘resignation’ of the totally unqualified Health Secretary, Tom Price. Mr Price has attracted widespread criticism for spending half a million dollars chartering private planes to get himself and his wife about on holidays and shopping trips, and charging them to the taxpayer. It has been mooted that Orange Satan was not unhappy to see him go as he is so closely linked with the repeated failure of Trump’s frenzied attempts to kill off Obamacare and replace it with lots of dead poor people.

It’s rumored that a number of other White House appointments are in the doghouse over similar profiteering while in office. They include spokesmouth Skellytanne Conway and the profoundly corrupt Environment director, Scott Pruitt.

We can therefore look forward to the immediate resignation of President Trump, who since taking office in January has blown well north of a billion dollars of other people’s money on private golfing holidays and extra security for his family and buildings while on holiday, and on hiring squadrons of expensive but curiously inept private lawyers to defend himself against anticipated charges any day now (ha!) of racketeering, money-laundering, tax-dodging, sanctions-busting, breaches of the Foreign Emoluments clause, the Logan Acts; treason and obstruction of justice. Unfortunately there’s no law against being merely one of the most unpleasant people ever to occupy the White House, if not the planet.

Can’t we?

https://www.newyorker.com/news/amy-davidson-sorkin/the-distance-between-donald-trump-and-puerto-rico?mbid=nl_Daily092717&CNDID=49581041&spMailingID=12020149&spUserID=MTkwODY5NzgyMTM0S0&spJobID=1242357721&spReportId=MTI0MjM1NzcyMQS2

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Granny W. : Your windswept old gal in a bus shelter

Atlantic: going back to 1851, says Weather Underground, September set a record for the most amount of accumulated cyclone energy in any month—175 (175 what? Ed.), beating out 155 from September 1926—according to Phil Klotzbach of Colorado State University.

  • Number of named-storm days:  53.25 (old record 52.25, Sept. 2004)
  • Number of hurricane days:  40.25 (old record 34.50, Sept. 2006)
  • Number of major hurricane days:  18 (old record 17.25, Sept. 1961) (Wunderground, 04 October)

USA: Weather Underground today further carries research showing 41 out of 60 US cities have experienced their warmest years and many their hottest days on record during the past six years, with an average annual increase since 1985 of 1.2 deg. C. The average between 1895 and 1985 increased by just 0.9 deg. C. indicating rapid acceleration of warming. No US city has recorded its coldest-ever year during the past six years. San Francisco this year set a new record on 1 September of 41 deg. C. (106 deg. F.). The average temperature in Houston is 5 deg. C. warmer than in 1895.

“…we have 41 out of all 60 cities with a 6-year average that is at least 1°F above the prior 30-year average. Likewise, it would be expected for a few cities to have their warmest or coldest year in a six-year period—but it is startling to see 41 of 60 cities having their warmest year, and none of the 60 cities having their coldest year, from 2011 to 2016. Given the very warm year now under way, there appears to be no end in sight to the U.S. heat of the 2010s.” – Christopher C Burt, Climate Historian

Wildfires: The US Interagency Fire Center reports that 2017 to date isn’t the worst year on record, with just over 50 thousand fires reported as against 71 thousand in 2009; and 8.4 million acres burned as against 9 million in 2015. In California, almost 3 thousand acres of the Sequoia National Forest is burning with so-far zero containment. In Oregon, 191 thousand acres of the Siskiyou National Forest has been burned but is 98% contained.

Global warming: Warming soils are releasing more carbon into the atmosphere through more intense bacterial breeding cycles than previously thought, suggesting a potentially disastrous feedback mechanism. “Each year, mostly from fossil fuel burning, we are releasing about 10bn metric tons of carbon into the atmosphere. The world’s soils contain about 3,500bn tons of carbon. … Once this self-reinforcing feedback begins, there is no easy way to turn it off. There is no switch to flip.” – Report of long-term experimental study published this week in Science magazine by the US Marine Biological Laboratory and others.

And on it goes…

USA: Tropical Storm Nate currently organizing itself in the Gulf after causing 22 deaths in Central America. Forecast track could take it due north strengthening Cat 1 to Louisiana around New Orleans after picking up more energy and water over the 29 deg. C. Gulf.

“…heavy rains, landslides and floods blocking roads, destroying bridges and damaging houses. In Costa Rica, nearly 400,000 people are without running water and thousands are sleeping in shelters. At least eight people have died in the storm there, while another 11 were killed when it moved north and reached Nicaragua, where as much as 15ins (38cm) of rain had been predicted to fall by the US’s National Hurricane Center. Three people have been killed in Honduras, including two youths who drowned in a river, and several are reported missing.”

Mexico: “Flooding has affected 18,000 people in the state of Tamaulipas. Local media report that at least 2 people have died. Areas of the state recorded heavy rainfall between 26 and 29 September. The Corona river overflowed. Further intense rainfall was recorded in the state on 01 October, with 245 mm of rain falling in Altamira. Further warnings for severe storms.”

Australia: “Torrential rain and strong winds in the city of Bundaberg in Queensland have caused flash flooding and left over 4,000 homes without power. Bundaberg recorded 319mm of rain in 24 hours between 02 and 03 October, according to Bureau of Meteorology figures. Over 100mm of the rain fell in 2 hours between 13:00 and 15:00 on 02 October.”

A current record early Spring heatwave affecting New South Wales reveals numerous precedents in the past six years, with records continually tumbling. This winter saw the highest average daytime temperatures on record. It was also the driest in 15 years:

“Even if the Paris agreement to limit the global temperature rise to below 2°C is met, summer heatwaves in major Australian cities are likely to reach highs of 50°C by 2040, a study published on Wednesday warns.”

Canada: “With more than 100 wildfires still burning, 2017 is officially the worst fire season on record. Nearly 12,000 km2 of land burned this year, 3,000 km2 more than in 1958, the previous record holder. Approximately 65,000 people were evacuated from their homes, and firefighting efforts have cost the province $510 million.” (British Columbia)

Scotland: 70 mph winds caused problems for commuters and truckers on Monday in the first of the year’s Atlantic lows, snapping-off the flagpole of Edinburgh’s castle.

Wunderground/ Floodlist/ Blogsafe.com/ GoGreen.com/ BBC/ 13News Now

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Bound straight for Hell

If any further evidence is needed of the insanity of the drooling amoebas who buy guns in the USA for no purpose other than to imagine they actually have functioning penises, comes news that the $99 modifying device called a ‘bump stock’ designed to turn a legal semi-automatic weapon into an illegal one that can empty a magazine with a single pull of the trigger has sold out in the wake of the slaughter in Las Vegas.

Even the despicable NRA has called for a ban, but used ones are selling at twice the catalog price, never mind that the thing renders the gun practically useless if you want to hit anything smaller than the White House and it’s far more likely to jam because the gun wasn’t designed for rapid-fire. But hey, it worked good on them country fans.

I shall be writing to Mr Kim Jong-un to ask him please to obliterate the American midwest, where most of these molluscs lurk, now, by the simple expedient of nuking Yellowstone.

By Christ, you’re hard to love.

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Lacking a sense of irony

“A nation with no sense of irony or shame, whose entire history has been founded on a myth of dispossession, that is incapable of empathising with the dispossessed.”

 

Many of my army of 27 Followers might be expressing nervousness that I haven’t Posted for the past six days.

Fear not, I am still here, staring numbly at my little silver laptop, that is a news portal of despair.

Whether you are a child-bride being hanged by clerics for allowing yourself to be raped, a woman accused of adultery being stoned to death by self-appointed village mullahs; whether you are being arbitrarily blown out of the sky, babies raining down from the clouds – or watching your blood burst through your skin, in the grip of a curse that kills 70% of its victims and was passed on to you by people who believe you can only catch Ebola from a white doctor; what does it matter? You could be run over by a bus, fall down a sinkhole, get a bone in your throat, undiagnosed secondary tumours in the liver – or die of old age. It’s all just chance. It’s all the same. In the end we’re all dead.

This is officially now another of Bogler’s Laws: Once a global population of any species passes a certain point, then the life of the individual ceases to have any objective meaning.

Respect, rights, tolerance, compassion, humanity flee in the face of the actions of a soldier of fortune who finds himself in charge of a powerful rocket launcher given to him by ideologically motivated well-wishers in a neighbouring state, who can press a button to shoot down a civilian airliner with 298 total strangers on board, so full of cheap vodka and a sense of his own imbecilic importance that he imagines somehow it might be an enemy aircraft (he has the systems to check, but doesn’t know how to use them) and then jokes about it, tweeting his mates. Oops, silly me. Their bad.

And then begins the process of official dissembling and cover-up, the game of accusation and counter-accusation, the dire threats and sanctions and spineless, handwringing declarations of ‘unacceptability’ and all the other useless paraphenalia of international diplomacy and card-playing, the torturing of historical facts, the playing to the gallery, the prayers for peace, until no-one is to blame, no-one was responsible, no-one cares, nothing to be done, because the next horrible, absurd atrocity is already shouldering aside the headlines.

Respect, rights, tolerance, compassion, humanity flee in the face of the actions of a nation, encouraged by an imaginary entity who promised them eternal rights to a flyblown strip of desert, claiming entitlement to wall one and a half million former inhabitants up in a  ghetto and regularly visit them with high explosive, in the name of National Insecurity, whenever they try to push back. A pushy nation, founded on a fateful mix of brutal terrorism and high-minded humanitarian principle, that has ever sought the moral high ground even when its morals couldn’t get any lower. A nation with no sense of irony or shame, whose entire history has been founded on a myth of dispossession, that is incapable of empathising with the dispossessed.

And then begins the process of official dissembling and cover-up, the game of accusation and counter-accusation, the dire threats and sanctions and spineless, handwringing declarations of ‘unacceptability’ and all the other useless paraphenalia of international diplomacy and card-playing, the torturing of historical facts, the playing to the gallery, the prayers for peace, until no-one is to blame, no-one was responsible, no-one cares, nothing to be done, because the next horrible, absurd atrocity is already shouldering aside the headlines.

Never mind, these are just temporary setbacks. History will take care of the problem. A hundred years from now, machine-people will look back and laugh about it all. You mean, they actually cared about one another? They weren’t repairable? What, and they were made of jelly?

“Every effort must be made to get at the truth”.

And then bury it deep in a hole in the ground, Vlad.

 

 

Christmas in Connecticut

The arms-industry backers of the National Rifle Association and their bought proxies in Congress can drink a silent toast to Mr Lanza.

Where can anyone stand, ethically, in the face of a ghastly tragedy like the Sandy Hook school shootings in Connecticut?

Predictably, against backdrop footage of an eye-dabbing President Obama, column-miles and whole air-days have been filled globally with pundits speculating that now would (or would not) be a good time to tighten-up the infamously lax gun control laws in America. And all the reader, the viewer, can think is, here we go again. Is there not a God? (Actually, there is, but He’s not real… sorry.)

With 300 MILLION licensed guns in the USA, what conceivable “tightening-up” of the gun laws is going to prevent some deranged, whingeing teenager from getting hold of his mom’s arsenal of lethal assault weapons, that she presumably bought so she could protect her precious child from imaginary enemies, and using it to cut out the beating heart of his community in revenge for some imagined slight?

Obama could dramatically increase the chances of his being assassinated before leaving office by decreeing a total ban on the sale and possession of guns of every kind, with a six-weeks’ amnesty giving people time to hand-in their Saturday-night specials and their must-have Glocks, their H-K 416 carbines and their rocket grenade launchers before a mandatory minimum two-year gaol sentence becomes Federal law.

It won’t make the slightest difference. The Good Ol’ Boys won’t pass it. No-one would do it, anyway. The US Constitution is as fundamental as the Q’uran, when it suits America’s paranoid rednecks (who need no encouragement from arms-industry lobbyists) to cherrypick its more anachronistic prescriptions. And it is sadly true that “responsible gun owners” are, by and large, not the Ritalin-damaged smalltown college kids and brooding scout-hut caretakers who end up committing these self-centred suicidal atrocities.

So, fundamentally, where can we stand, when the Weeping President next gives the order to a computer-game wonk in a bunker under Virginia to blow up more live children with a Hellfire missile from an unmanned drone cruising high over Waziristan?

What will he say to the grieving mothers then? Happy Christmas? We’re doing it for you?

We need something far larger to stop this happening in future, but I fear we never shall. The Massacre of the Innocents is a cultural meme with complex ramifications. Child sacrifice is an ancient rite going back to the Carthaginian holocaust and beyond, into mythology. We first have to accept that what Adam Lanza did is inherently a part of us all, not just an inexplicable anomaly, a random act of unparallelled “evil” that is “out there” somewhere in the dark, that we need to arm ourselves against.

Because all that the Sandy Hooks and the Columbines, the Dunblanes and the Utoya Island massacre by Anders Breivik ever manage to achieve, all the gun killings and the wasted potential of young lives, is, far from disarming communities, to heighten the state of fear and paranoia and to surely bring about the more widespread acquisition and potential misuse of ever-more lethal weapons of “deterrence”.

The arms-industry backers of the National Rifle Association and their bought proxies in Congress can drink a silent toast to Mr Lanza for what he will have achieved this Christmas in Connecticut. There’s no such thing as bad publicity.

* I don’t claim to be any kind of seer, but a week after this Post we read that gun sales are soaring and the President of the NRA has made a speech predictably calling for the arming of primary school teachers, on the grounds that gun ownership is a deterrent to gun crime.