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July 03, 2022


To concentrate on what's important here: whereas Irish and even American whiskey can be eminently drinkable, if you're bringing me something to ease the mental anguish brought on by imminent self-destruction, please make it Scotch whisky, as Hastings suggests.

I knew that one of the spellings was Irish, and one Scottish, but I got them the wrong way round. I'm not that much of an afficionado, but I've certainly had wonderful single malt whiskys, so I bow to your greater expertise Pro Bono!

And while you're there, PB, what is your opinion on the question of whether the intent of more financial corruption could explain his determination to stay on a few months? Do you think this is possible, or fanciful?

Precedent is that when a Prime Minister resigns, they stay in office until their party has chosen a new leader - May, Cameron, Blair, and Thatcher all did this. So Johnson is showing more than his usual respect for tradition.

However, it's true that Johnson has very much enjoyed shovelling government money to the rich, that he has an expensive lifestyle, and that his conscience is unlikely to prevent him accepting favours in the future from those he has helped while in office.

Is the legislation queued up?

It's mostly about executive power to enter the government into contracts. See, for amusing example, the £14m ferry contract awarded to a company with no ferries.

See, for amusing example, the £14m ferry contract awarded to a company with no ferries.

Ah yes, one of Failing Grayling's greatest hits.

I appreciate the extremely judicious wording in your second para, Pro Bono!

It's mostly about executive power to enter the government into contracts.

Ah, minor graft. I was thinking in terms of a £100B tax break for the oligarchs.

Do we still have confusion between America and the UK on the use of billion, or common simple notations for it? I mean 10^11 pounds here.

Nadal may be out. But I see we have Tunisia vs. Kazakhstan in the women's finals at Wimbledon. Who would have predicted such a thing even a decade ago?

Nadal is out, with a 7mm tear in his abdominal muscle. I'm very sorry, but I'm sure it's the right decision. He has nothing to prove, he's one of the all time great competitors (he carried on playing with that injury until he won a five-setter, despite his father motioning him to stop). So I presume Djokovich will beat Norrie, and then I hope he will beat Kyrgios too. I don't like Djokovich, mainly because of his vaccination stuff, and would always back Federer or Nadal against him, but I like Kyrgios even less. I detest his mindgames, and now it also seems (we shall have to wait and see) that he may be a domestic abuser. So I will certainly be backing Djokovich, but without great enthusiasm.

Michael Cain: yes, I believe there is still a difference in common use, because the English billion was always a million million. But apparently in UK official statistics a billion is now a thousand million like in the US.

I think a billion is now understood to be a thousand million. But it might be different in the North Country.

Starmer has now been cleared by police over his beer and curry consumption.

Ben Wallace is the early favourite for next PM. He's a posh military type, Secretary of State for Defence. Apparently he's popular with Conservative MPs, perhaps because he's been interviewed a lot recently saying that Putin is the bad guy in Ukraine.

Excellent news on the Keir exoneration. Your analysis was spot-on, PB. I couldn't help being anxious, but this makes an awful lot more sense.

Open thread, so this is an amazing and beautiful thing:


I want a ring like that.

Back in Westminster, the next step will be a Commons motion of no confidence. I suppose the motion will fail, because Conservative MPs will back their government, since they don't have another leader ready. And I suppose Labour will be pleased, since they can point out that the Tories think Johnson is too dishonest to lead their Party, but ok to lead the government.

We've had monsoon thunderstorms up in the mountains over the burn scars every afternoon from the 4th. When I rode my bike along the river trail yesterday morning, the water was black again from ash runoff.

Conservative MPs will back their government, since they don't have another leader ready.

I am surprised that to dissidents a month ago didn't (and don't) have someone ready to go. Certainly they had plenty of time to prepare. And I'd think having a candidate to offer (if only internally) would have been a plus in rounding up supporters.

But if not, I have a vague recollection that sometimes a safe seat will be held by a "resigner" -- someone who will resign if there is a need to get someone specific into Parliament. Might someone similar be fornd to temporarily head the government? No matter how awkward it might be, that seems less bad for the Tories that the scenario PB suggests.

I am surprised that to dissidents a month ago didn't (and don't) have someone ready to go.

Recall that these are the same people who, when one of the Brexit deadlines was rushing at them and they had to vote for something, voted against every proposal that was put forward.

Abe assassinated with a homemade gun at a campaign rally.


Lots of stuff heating up along with the climate. It's going to be a bumpy ride.

It looks like Arizona may see an initiative this fall to increase voter access, AND to bar the legislature from making changes the year of a presidential election.

I wonder if the Arizona legislature will seek to emulate the various other states where Republican-controlled state governments reversed, overruled, or simply ignored the expressed wishes to their voters. (With solid gerrymandering, why not?)

Recall that these are the same people who, when one of the Brexit deadlines was rushing at them and they had to vote for something, voted against every proposal that was put forward.

Yes, but that was merely Brexit, i.e. something that would have a major impact on the whole country. This is something that will impact them and their careers. Far more likely to concentrate their minds.

wj, that's not how it works. People have to throw their hat into the ring, their team of supportive MPs campaigns, the parliamentary party has to whittle it down to 2, then the choice goes to Tory party members in the country. To expect any number of them (the MPs) to have got together and orchestrated anything like you describe, presupposes a degree of collaboration, and realism, that is utterly foreign to this bunch (I believe they have been compared to weasels fighting in a sack, but I can't remember when). Or perhaps, indeed, to any bunch of politicians in this position.

There's a Deputy Prime Minister, Dominic Raab. A naive observer might suppose he'd take over in circumstances like these. But he doesn't get the job unless the House of Commons says so.

GftNC, thanks for the education. I guess I have a simplistic view of how other people's governments work. Hard to believe that they are as kludgey as ours, albeit in different ways. But apparently....

This seems a rather perceptive essay on the question of BoJo's character. You can register to read one free article without having to be a subscriber.

In his only novel, Seventy-Two Virgins, published in 2004, Boris Johnson uses a strange word. The hero, like Johnson himself at the time, is a backbench Conservative member of the House of Commons. Roger Barlow is, indeed, a somewhat unflattering self-portrait—he bicycles to Westminster, he is unfaithful to his wife, he is flippantly racist and politically opportunistic, and he is famously disheveled:

In the fond imagination of one Commons secretary who crossed his path he had the air of a man who had just burst through a hedge after running through a garden having climbed down a drainpipe on being surprised in the wrong marital bed.
Barlow, throughout the novel, is in constant fear that his political career is about to be ended by a tabloid scandal. In a moment of introspection, he reflects on this anxiety:

There was something prurient about the way he wanted to read about his own destruction, just as there was something weird about the way he had been impelled down the course he had followed. Maybe he wasn’t a genuine akratic. Maybe it would be more accurate to say he had a thanatos urge. [Emphases added]

The novel is a mass-market comic thriller about a terrorist plot to capture the US president while he is addressing Parliament in London. The Greek terms stand out. In part, they function as signifiers of social class within a long-established code of linguistic manners: a sprinkling of classical phrases marks one out as a product of an elite private school (in Johnson’s case, Eton) and therefore a proper toff. (Asked in June during the contest to replace Theresa May as Tory leader to name his political hero, Johnson chose Pericles of Athens.) The choice of thanatos is interesting, and the thought that he might have a death wish will ring bells for those who have followed the breathtaking recklessness of Johnson’s career. But it is akratic that intrigues.

The Leave campaign that Johnson led to a stunning victory in the Brexit referendum of June 2016 owed much of its success to its carefully calibrated slogan “Take Back Control.” Akrasia, which is discussed in depth by Socrates, Plato, and especially Aristotle in the Nicomachean Ethics, is the contrary of control. It means literally “not being in command of oneself” and is translated variously as “weakness of will,” “incontinence,” and “loss of self-control.” To Aristotle, an akratic is a person who knows the right thing to do but can’t help doing the opposite. This is not just, as he himself seems to have intuited, Boris Johnson to a tee. It is also the reason why he embodies more than anyone else a Brexit project in which the very people who promised to take back control are utterly incapable of exercising it, even over themselves. “Oh God, oh Gawd,” asks Barlow in a question that now echoes through much of the British establishment, “why had he done it? Why had he put himself in this ludicrous position?”


I suppose, for his next gig, Boris could come to the States and run for president...

I suppose, for his next gig, Boris could come to the States and run for president...

His not being eligible (not being a "natural born citizen") wouldn't bother the cultists -- assuming that he got inside the Trumpist tent.

But the question is how the political hacks on the Supreme Court would rule. Perhaps by parsing "natural born" and "citizen" as independent requirements? After all, he is clearly natural born (born too soon for IVF) and could become a citizen easily enough. It seems less of a stretch than some of their rulings.

Well, he was born in NYC - doesn't that automatically entitle you to citizenship? But if so, I think he renounced it at some point.

On checking, it seems he renounced after he had to pay a huge tax bill to the IRS.

Savvy London Mayor Boris Johnson Paid IRS, Is Now Renouncing U.S. Citizenship

he was born in NYC - doesn't that automatically entitle you to citizenship? But if so, I think he renounced it at some point.

That does make it easier. Renunciation is supposed to be irreversible. But they could either rule that unconstitutional or simply void his on some pretext.

On checking, it seems he renounced after he had to pay a huge tax bill to the IRS.

And there's the loophole: being fully paid up on expat taxes is supposed to be a prerequisite to renunciation. All he needs is to find an unpaid US tax bill from before. (Of course, he would then owe expat taxes on his income since. But what else are megadonors for?)

Have just heard on C4 news Tory MP Andrew Bridgen (who has been a Boris-must-go talking head for days) saying that he thinks the party might be able to get the candidates down to the last 2, and then those 2 might possibly do a deal such that it doesn't need to go to the party membership, and that therefore the new leader could be identified within a couple of weeks. I don't know how likely this really is, and he admits the party membership wouldn't necessarily be happy with it. And, in a poll out today of party members on possible candidates, Rishi Sunak is apparently leading by a small margin. Personally I think he'd be a gift to Labour: his wife is a billionaire non-dom, and he had a US Green Card while Chancellor. We shall see.

And for anyone who read and found interesting the 2019 NYRB piece on BoJo I linked at 01.35 above, this is by the same writer today:


I have a piece of JavaScript that I run (automatically) on pretty much every page I download to my browser. It goes through the text elements and makes the font, spacing, and sizes match my own preferences. My view of the Web is much more consistent in appearance than most people's.

From time to time I fire up the browser console to make sure the software is running properly, or to add some capability. I have noticed that more companies are using the browser console as a hiring tool. Their scripts log messages along the lines of, "We see that you're interested in doing deep debugging of Web software. We're hiring that kind of talent..."

Taking the Open Thread in a new direction.

Locally, a Romab Catholic priest has been defrocked. His crime? Years of criticizing the Oakland diocese over it's handling of sex abuse. Tom Stier said: "I felt sad and angry. If I'd been raping kids, I wouldn't be thrown out of the club."

Says something about how churches (not just the Roman Catholic church) have been (not) dealing with misbehavior of their priests/pastors/ministers/etc. Kinda reminds me of a couple of political party in recent years.

The IPPR -- International Pedophile Protection Ring -- only acting true to form.

As a former Catholic child, I can't express how enraging it is that these people pass themselves off as the moral arbiters of everyone else's lives.

But I'm not going to go there. No good purpose is served by wallowing in the muck, or indulging in corrosive rage.

Somehow I missed the pictures of Jeffrey Clark standing in his driveway in his boxers while the feds searched his house back in June.

"Can I put my pants on?" The answer was no.

More like this, please. Squeeze him like a grape.

I'd say I look forward to seeing TFG subjected to the same, but I think, on the whole, in his case I'd rather they let him put his pants on first.

I think, on the whole, in his case I'd rather they let him put his pants on first.

And a bag over his unprepossessing mug. ;-)

What Janie said!
(Although adding a gag under it might be worthwhile....)

wj -- I was going to suggest that, but I didn't want to go too overboard. In fact, though, if someone forced me to either look at him or listen to him, but not both, I'd look. I can't stand the sound of his voice, or what he uses it for.

I normally link Marina Hyde for you on Tory omnishambles, but this is Andrew Rawnsley whom I consider to be one of our best, generally non-comedic, political commentators. But here he is on the Fall of the House of Johnson:

From Margaret Thatcher leaving Number 10 in tears to Gordon Brown holding the hands of his family as he walked down Downing Street into the dusk, the end of a premiership is usually bathed in some pathos. I have occupied a ringside seat for the involuntary departure of six previous prime ministers and for each of those fallen leaders there were expressions of empathy even from their fiercest opponents. To this rule as to so many others, Boris Johnson has proved the ignominious exception. His overdue defenestration has been as devoid of dignity and decency as his time at Number 10.

He is the only premier of modern terms to be fired because his lack of basic probity so disgraced the office that even his long-indulgent party could no longer ignore what he was doing to the country, their reputation and their electoral chances. Tory MPs were aghast, but should not have been surprised, that he sought to cling on even when it was long past obvious that the curtain was crashing down on this tawdry farce. To the last, he had a wanton disregard for anyone’s interests but his own. The result was 40 hours of wild mayhem when he refused to leave even as the government imploded around him. Amidst an unprecedented torrent of ministerial resignations, at one point it looked as though he would try to carry on with Dilyn the Downing Street Dog as chancellor and the rest of the cabinet portfolios shared between Nadine Dorries, Jacob Rees-Mogg and Larry the Cat. My money was on Larry proving to be the least incompetent. In a final desperate attempt to use a lie to save his own skin, it was put about that he would burn down the house rather than surrender the keys by trying to wrangle a snap election out of the Queen in order to swerve a fresh no-confidence vote.


Like weasels in a sack:


I wonder what Bannon's committee testimony is going to be like. He might be Satan incarnate, so it should be interesting, if nothing else.

The only way that Bannon and that Oaf Keeper Dude should get to testify "on live TV" is if they are securely strapped to their chair, with electrodes attached to administer shocks when they lie or evade questioning.


After their testimony, their charred smoking corpses can be pitched down the capitol steps, DC lacking a sorely-needed Tarpeian Rock.

Bannon might shrug off Contempt charges, say for not showing up to testify. But perjury charges are a different kettle of fish. Easier to make a case in court, too.

He may be in it for publicity. But if an experienced prosecutor (Cheney) can get some facts out of him, it may be worthwhile.

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