Wednesday :: Apr 21, 2004

And Now For Something Completely Different


by pessimist

Sometimes, reality becomes so bizarre that it takes extreme satire to put things back into perspective.

The Monty Python troupe was one of the best at extreme satire, rarely better than when they were sticking pins into the over-inflated egos of British elected officials.

Despite the fact that the troupe is long gone, some of its members continue the tradition.


Invade Iraq? It's a no brainer
Terry Jones on what makes our leaders tick
* Terry Jones is a writer, film director, actor and Python

Everyone agrees that President George Bush's lobotomy has been a tremendous success.
Dick Cheney, the vice-president, declared that he was fully satisfied with it from his point of view. "Without the lobotomy," Mr Cheney told the American Academy of Neurology, "it might have proved difficult to persuade the president to start wars all around the world without any good pretext. But the removal of those parts of the brain associated with understanding the outcome of one's actions has enabled the president to function fully and without hesitation. Even when it is clear that disaster is around the corner, as it is currently in Iraq, the chief executive is able to go on TV and announce that everything is on course and that he has no intention of changing tactics that have already proved disastrous. I would like to commend the surgeons, nurses and all involved with the operation," said Mr Cheney.

Similarly, Donald Rumsfeld regards the surgery as an unqualified success. He writes in this month's American Medical Association Journal: "The president's prefrontal leucotomy has successfully removed all neural reflexes resistant to war-profiteering. It is a tribute to the medical team who undertook this delicate operation that, no matter how close the connection between those instigating military action and the companies who benefit from it, the president is able to carry on as if he were morally in the right."

Paul Wolfowitz, the deputy secretary of defence, is also delighted at the beneficial effect that medical intervention has had on the president. "Just imagine how the president might have responded to Ariel Sharon's crazy schemes if we hadn't had the foresight to take out the neural pathways normally connected with perception and understanding," Mr Wolfowitz told a meeting of the Association of Muslim Neurosurgeons For An All-Jewish Israel. "The president is now capable of treating the man responsible for the massacres at Shatila and Sabra as a decent human being, whose advice on how to deal with the problems of Israel is worth not only listening to, but also taking."

With all this acclaim for the US president's lobotomy, it is scarcely surprising that Tony Blair, should have decided to follow suit and undergo similar psychosurgery. Thanks to the inhibition of specific presynaptic terminals, Mr Blair now appears to feel totally comfortable giving his support to the US massacre in Falluja and to the activities of US snipers who have been so busy in that city shooting women, children and ambulance drivers in revenge for the murder of four mercenaries.

It is also believed that intervention in the motor speech area of his cortex now enables Mr Blair to describe Iraqis who respond negatively to having their houses blown up as "fanatics, extremists and terrorists". Similarly ablation of the oculomotor nerve means that Mr Blair is now able to see Israeli plans to retain Jewish settlements in the West Bank as a big step forward in the Middle East peace process.

What has come as a complete surprise, however, is the recent revelation that Mr Blair's brain surgery may even predate President Bush's. For without the removal of large portions of his cerebellum, it is hard to understand how the British prime minister could have turned down Mr Bush's no-strings offer to keep British troops out of combat in Iraq. Political commentators are thus finding it impossible to say whether it is Mr Bush or Mr Blair who has pioneered the use of executive lobotomies in the war against terrorism.

Tony Blair should not be in this mess up to his ears. He always struck me as someone more intelligent than he's been acting until very recently. Maybe the preceeding article woke him up?

Now that he's awake, he's bucking the trend Bush tries to form.


Blair condemns Israel and opens rift with US

Tony Blair distanced himself from Washington yesterday by pointedly condemning the Israeli assassination of the Hamas leader Abdel-Aziz al-Rantissi at the weekend. Mr Blair told parliament: "We condemn the targeted assassination of Hamas leader Abdel-Aziz al-Rantissi just as we condemn all terrorism, including that perpetrated by Hamas."

Putting an optimistic gloss on events, he told MPs the international community had a responsibility to prevent a vacuum and should help the Palestinian authority in those areas from which the Israeli government withdrew. He said: "The fact that there is a withdrawal by Israel from Gaza and the West Bank at least gives us a chance, not just the Palestinian authority, but the international community, to play a role in building the necessary economic, political and security capability within that part of the territory controlled by the Palestinian authority."

While Mr Blair has been quick to condemn Palestinian suicide bombings against Israel in the past, he has been less ready to criticise action against Palestinians. What makes this intervention even more stark is that it was made on behalf of the leader of an organisation that has launched hundreds of suicide attacks against Israel over the past four years.

Mr Blair could have opted, as he has done in the past, to leave the criticism to the foreign secretary, Jack Straw, who condemned the assassination at the weekend.

Mr Blair's condemnation came as the Bush administration denounced Hamas, saying it should be put out of business. George Bush's administration refused to criticise the killing and said Israel had a right of self-defence. The Palestinian government should shut down Hamas and provide Palestinians with the social services that Hamas offers them, the White House spokesman Richard Boucher said.

Mr Blair said the Israeli prime minister Ariel Sharon's unilateral decision to withdraw troops from the Gaza Strip and parts of the West Bank could be the first step on a full settlement outlined in the Middle East road map.

Labour and Conservative MPs demanded, and won, assurances that Mr Blair would not accept the Sharon plan as a final settlement, and that the demand for a withdrawal from West Bank settlements was not being shelved. "Of course it is not a final step, or a final settlement," he said. The road map was effectively brought to an end last week when Mr Bush endorsed the Sharon plan to pull out of Gaza in return for US recognition of illegal Jewish settlements in the West Bank.

The Israeli government said yesterday it is to spend tens of millions of dollars consolidating the grip of these Jewish settlements on the West Bank.
Binyamin Netanyahu, the finance minister who is the frontrunner to take over from Mr Sharon as prime minister, told local radio that Israel would increase its financial support for the settlements. "I am going to approve hundreds of millions of shekels to invest in the settlements beyond the main fence," he said. Conscious of the international outcry his comments would provoke, Mr Netanyahu's office later revised his announcement, saying the money would not be used for the construction of new houses but for security.

Over the past two decades Israel has encouraged the expansion of settlements in the West Bank. Today there are estimated to be 120-150, with a population of about 150,000. Until Mr Bush's pronouncement in Washington last week the international community had expected most of the settlements would eventually be closed down as part of a negotiated settlement with the Palestinians. Mr Sharon, however, intends to close all 21 settlements in the Gaza Strip but only four in the West Bank. Under Mr Sharon's plan, a barrier is being built to separate Israel from the West Bank. The settlements will form six blocs, fortified islands in the middle of what was intended to be a Palestinian state.

Somehow, the Cheese Shop skit keeps coming to mind.

pessimist :: 3:23 PM :: Comments (5) :: Digg It!