The Odds


Forty years ago, if you loved black music, you were a ‘liberal’. A far far out long gone liberal who would probably die in hell. Just how far the liberal world has dragged the fascist civil monster towards reason can be measured by what’s happened since. And yet how much liberals are still detested. Liberal?? Conservative?? What labels we give ourselves! What Philosophical piffle! Liberals, as I understand it, are trying to make the world a freer place, and yet they are detested. Liberal is a detested word in the USA. Liberals are likely to bring change, because they’re likely to let change happen. But when you’re cosy, change isn’t to be trusted. Liberals are implicitly accused of emancipation of the mind, and how dare they open the world up to so much rationality. How dare they? Can’t they be kept in their place by some good ol’ conservative rule of law that will still try its best to tell people who can and who can’t vote. The hanging chards won the last US election. Which was in effect, the first world election.. that only a minute percentage of the worlds population were allowed to vote in. The world has gone back 200 years. Effectively to a time when most people knew that voting was something that their betters did. In 2004, the world is about as just as it was before Peterloo in 1819.

The lucky few get to vote for the direction the world will largely take over the next four years…. and they all live in the United States Of America.

I know that I’ve said this before somewhere, but I’ll say it again. In 1870, just as the Franco-Prussian war was declared, Ladbrokes, a well known English bookmaker, had the French at 9 to 4 on, to win the war. For those of you who are unfamiliar with gambling, that means that you had to put £9 on the French in order to win £4. (You win £4 and get your £9 back if the french win) if you are still confused, take my advice and don’t bet on sports, you will have more fun playing bingo and if you don’t know how to play that you can always watch games from to learn from the pros. Don’t be embarrassed about your lack of knowledge in gambling, don’t act if you don’t know what you are doing. In London at the time, no one gave the Prussians (north Germans) a chance in hell. In fact the Germans were 6 to 4 against, which meant that you had to put £4 on the Germans winning in order to win £6. Very good odds in a genuine two horse race. Better than 50-50. The fact that the Germans were in Paris in six weeks exposed Ladbrokes to some losses which were wholey attributable to their historical and emotional take on events. Their research had been almost entirely emotional. Research by bookmakers isn’t often so lax. When it comes to losing your entire shirt, daily, on various wagers, experience will soon teach you to be invariably on the right side of it. Those who make a book.. are in it for a living..! The rest of us wager on.

So, when it finally came time for me to put my pocket where my emotions are, and place a bet on John Kerry for the Presidency, I went in search of the best odds. What I found a couple of days ago was that among the bookkeeping fraternity, there was no one who thought that Kerry would win. The best odds that I could find on Bush were 8/15, which means that you had to risk a loss of £15 for the joy of winning £8, (for a Bush win). Which means, roughly, that there was no money going down on Kerry. Which means two things, 1, most of the money bet so far has been for Bush, and 2, that most the votes were virtually all cast before the debates. With very little room for the kind of margin of error it would take to give Kerry a victory.. .. Races don’t always go to form, but in a two horse race the form book has been gone over with a fine toothcomb, and the bookies have left their emotions in the paddock.

It’s not that I think that there’s a huge difference in the quantifiable attributes of the two men themselves. Kerry’s more articulate, more statesman-like, more in command of knowledge and wherewithal, but Bush epitomises the ‘good ol’ boy’ image that a lot of Americans will identify with rather than some worthy officer/gentleman from New England. For a whole swathe down the middle of the country, Kerry might as well be from old England. They’d rather vote for the goon next door. They’d rather vote for one of their own. roy…! ..don’t go there…

And it’s no good me getting personal with the Americans because I disagree with what’s growing in their guts. I can say lots of things that mean infinite sense to me, like, IF YOU WANT TO HAVE A HOPE OF HEALING THE WOUNDED WORLD IN THE SHORT TERM, THEN GEORGE BUSH IS NOT THE PERSON YOU SHOULD VOTE FOR; or, voting for John Kerry is almost definitely going to be of more help to the world in the short term, or, a vote for John Kerry is a vote for the rest of the world, or, a vote for John Kerry gives the rest of the world a small say in the next few years, or, the terrorists are hoping for a Bush victory so that service will continue to be the same, or, a vote against Bush is a vote against ‘terror’.. because the Americans are beyond contact. They’re out there.. on their own. The people in a country as isolated as The USA aren’t suddenly going to recognise the rest of the world for what it is or could be. End of story.

The free thinkers in the rest of the world are hoping that the Americans are going to make the right choice. This isn’t to say that everyone on the right in American politics is mindless, just that they percieve that they’ve got too much to lose by voting against Bush. Why would you want to give up a leader who has riled the rest of the world, put them all in their place, wherever that is. Why on earth would you want to give up the power? The power of being the only ‘super power’. You wouldn’t. Unless you had some small inkling of the fact that the world is bleeding.. to death. And needs the USA to come clean, in many, many ways.

But what do you do, if you’re sat on top of the heap? … You continue to sit. No one else is powerful enough to tell you to do anything else. Yet. The fact that Blair is a palpable poodle is now completely lost in the archives of oblivion. The thought isn’t even worthy. The man who gave ‘coalition’ approval to kill thousands illegally now sits quivering in his own do-do. Even his sell-by date has been lost in pre-history.

Will the Americans get a real glimpse of the actual world before the next four years tip us all further into catastrophe? They’re too isolated.. and they’re too small. World events are overtaking them. Bill and Hillary are caught in a trap. Will she be too old in eight years time to go for it herself? What Hilary knows, and what she’s going to be running for the presidency with are two different things. What she knows is that the world needs a strong democratic leader who isn’t a born-again laughing stock, but is she going to give Kerry a boost at the expense of her best chance in 2008. And does Bill want to be seen as either ill, or to be supporting someone who might eventually end up rivalling him or his dynasty historically? I don’t suppose he’s got that much option. In the end, he came out looking thinner and did his bit. Wowed everyone except the women who think he’s a rapist, and went back into his basket. But 2008/2012 is all la-la land.. the stuff of punters.. and hardly the point….

The point is that the world as we know it is now in trouble. It’s no different than the trouble we’ve seen all our lives, but it’s now set in.. for good. There aren’t going to be any more light intervals with Bill, or jingoistic affluent pomp with Ronnie. All the dosh has been spent, on trash, and on the wealth and dalliance of the few, rather than on the hopes of the many. Instead of spreading the real example, and sustaining a future for humanity with real social democracy, we have a crowd of superstitious apes passing their superstitions on to a very gullible world that drinks all the make-belief it can get and lives vicariously on the edge of not being able to pass anything but poverty to its children. Since when did the humans rely entirely on providence? Which is where they’re at now. We’re screaming for god to appear, in every silly thoughtless move we make. Every time someone comes onto the field of play and crosses him/herself, we see a selfish god taking hold of our emotions. Every time someone slips a bead from one finger to the next, it’s rarely to pray for humanity. It’s to pray for themselves, or their family, or the result.

This is going to be the last essay of its kind on my part. I can no longer write things like this. There’s hardly a point any more. No one gives a toss. On the one hand, I’ve wanted to fantasize about the best in humanity, all my life, but on the other, it’s too depressing to be swimming against such an overwhelmingly savage tide. We all carry our own crosses so to speak, but the time has come to dump some baggage I’ve been carrying around for years. I often get mails to the effect.. ‘why don’t you just concentrate on the music instead of all that political rubbish.. it’s the music we wanna hear’. And so do I. Human politics have driven me for a lifetime; because I’ve developed opinions and lived through a lot of crap, and I guess that they’ll continue to drive me; but there’s a point at which it fails to be able to ring any of the same bells it used to. It’s now a field full of pathetic tossers….

Do we for one moment think that Abu Al Zaqarwi would exist without his correspondent Bush? Not for a moment. He would be some murderous criminal in the back streets of Jordan. There was a necessity for him. An exigency existed. Rivals throw eachother up. Tit For tat has been going on ever since the first rattle was thrown out of the first manger, eliciting the noticable primeaval reaction. By the time Pavlov came around to studying the behaviour of dogs it was long past evident that we all behaved in the same way. Formulating it scientifically was just a question of dotting ‘i’s and crossing ‘t’s that had been understood half a million years before ‘thou shalt not bear false witness’ was committed to parchment. Long time sickness.

So how are we going to hang on in there? In the middle of the lie? …………In hope… can be the only answer…. What?? Can it be that all those who propound ‘hope’ as their premiere ethic have been right all along? That ‘hope’ is the only valid dynamic left to humanity. That science is out the window? That rationalisation and logic are as dispensible as mice in pharmacology? This means that everything that I’ve lived for, in all my years on the visit to this planet have meant absolutely nothing? But of course. But of course. God will happen. SHE will descend. There will be huge amounts of suffering where people once chose to elect. Election will be no more. It was but a figment of Arcadia. A lost golden age where men and women had time. And whiled it away in utopian splendour. Where hayricks were painted, instead of walls. Where imagination was visited by lambs of god, rather than sheep in formaldahide, where celuloid art was populated by lovers rather than executioners.

People have said that it’s the end before. The saddest thing about that is that it always is. There will be new starts, in more frantic Arcadias. Until death do us part. From our dalliance. Our egotism, our arrogance, our disingenuity and finally, our wit.

There is much to love about the humans, and the Americans are humans. There is much to love about the Americans. There is much to loathe about us all. Each to her own. Are the things we love about America more questionable than the things we love about ourselves? I don’t think so. As examples, I loved jazz and blues as a young man, and I love baseball as an older man. I can do without the seventh inning stretch to the strains of ‘God Bless America’ sung by Donna Summer, but it isn’t any different in basic character than ‘Land Of My Fathers’ sung at Cardiff Arms Park by a choir of fifty thousand. Although I’m far more moved by the Welsh anthem, I realise that I’m within understanding distance of it, whereas I’m just a few thousand miles too far away to really be got in the gut by ‘God Bless America’. In essence, they’re the same thing. The universality of the host.

(Of course, coming from islands where poetic song has long been a medium of social communication; and trying to compare it with the raw and almost unconscious emotions of a new nation composed of hundreds of different tribes and races in a bizarre mixing pot.. is going to favour the ‘old’ islands. The ‘establishment’. And it’s as evident as the game progresses as well. There isn’t the recourse to inventive songs to sing ‘at’ the opposition. For a few reasons. The opposition are gathered in front of media, hundreds, and sometimes thousands, of miles away. And how d’you teach an ethnic Swede, a Turk, An Italian, A Greek, a Jew or a Wasp to gather together and sing in their thousands when they’ve just not got there yet?)

Today I heard that 70% of forty important nations, including most of Europe, and nations like South Africa and Nigeria, nearly all the middle east, India and Australia, Brazil and Argentina, Japan and even The Philipines, now that their troops have left Iraq, all favour a Kerry victory. The only countries in the world who support Bush are Russia and Israel. Plus, the Chinese press have been told to give both sides equal favour!!

The BBC programme ‘Question Time’ was broadcast from Miami in Florida on Thurday 28th October. It was all very predictable. The first question was put to the panel by a young man who asked who the terorrists would like to see as president. Obviously the answer is Bush, because they want to continue to have America isolated from the rest of the world. That’s their oxygen. None of the panelists dared confront the question properly. The democrat panelist, Sydney Blumenthal, ex-Clinton aide, was too scared of saying that the terrorists wanted Bush to win because he was unwilling give the Republican camp any credit, or that amount of energy. The Republican panelist, David Frum, ex-Bush speechwriter, was unwilling to say that it would be George Bush because he didn’t want to associate Bush with anything terrorist. So he waffled and said that the terrorists would have more to fear from Kerry. Michael More cracked a joke, Richard Littlejohn was out of his depth, and Lida Rodriguez-Taseff, chair of the Miami-Dade Electoral Reform Coalition, neatly sat on the fence, unable to give a personal opinion because of her responsibility as non-partisan chairperson.

So the question, which is a very good one, remained unanswered because of the usual vested interests and ineptitudes. The remaining terrorists are absolutely gagging for a Bush re-election. In that atmosphere, they can continue to do their worst. That can continue to denigrate the legitimacy of the US government, and therefore of corrupt democracy worldwide. They can continue to isolate the US from Europe. They can continue to drive imaginary wedges between different european states and the rest of the world. Between Britain and France; between France and Germany and the US. They can continue to render the UN ineffective. Civil liberties can be eroded to a point where they are on a par with The Inquisition. A Bush victory is likely to suit the French heirarchy even though most of the population are anti-Bush, because they can hold out for another 4 years. They don’t have to negotiate. All they do is maintain the status quo. Maintain their interests.

Bush hasn’t got the marbles or the personality to be able to communicate with Chirac. And France still has a lot of the answers in this one. Kerry will have a much better chance to bind the will of the ‘free’ world together into some kind of cohesive voice able to take on the questions that ‘terror’, as an alternative to rational arbitration, can pose. ‘Terror’, as we have now come to know it, is the child of fundamentalist religion, the notion that ‘we are right and you will obey’. It’s the rebirth of The Inquisition. Perhaps it sees itself as the only viable answer to globalised industrial materialism, but it wouldn’t ever be an answer for me. As an idea.. as a lifestyle.. as a way of life.. and as a potential form of government, it’s a complete anathema to me. I passionately hate all of it, and in this my passion has no bounds. I would willingly die in an instant if I could bring that kind of thought process down.

And so I’m passionately against George Bush becoming leader of the ‘free world’ for another four years. If he retains the presidency, we are guaranteed another four years of power to the fundamentalists, and of useless blood spilt in the streets of the world. All those who want blood to continue to flow will vote for Bush. Those who don’t will vote against him. It’s as simple as that.

WHAM BAM!! Enter Osama, yet again… OO! Shivers down the spine for the vast majority of middle class everywhere… or maybe not. But somewhere almost hidden in the small print he says that all ‘The West’ have to fear is interference in Arab affairs. “Your security is not in the hands of Kerry or Bush or al Qaeda. Your security is in your own hands and each state which does not harm our security will remain safe.” So right at the eleventh hour, with a tape released at 4pm New York time, Friday evening; right at the time of the closing bell at the end of the trading week, with only one trading day left before the election, but with most of four whole days to dwell on it, the wild card enters the fray. What does he mean? Well, on the face of it, what he’s saying is that all those states who continue to meddle in the middle east will be considered as legitimate targets for terrorist attacks.

Within minutes, the American media flaps around like a headless chicken, both sides trying to weigh up who this outburst favours the most. It’ll probably favour Bush because the Americans are likely to go against any advice offered by the bearded wonder. Both sides disagree on the fact that it favours the other. The Israelis duck. The boys on the street in Fallujah search for messages. Everyone searches their underpants for traces of beard. The state of alert goes to purple with luminous green spots. The odds on Bush at Paddy Power shorten. Nothing else really changes. We all wonder who Osama wants his tape to favour. Cases can be made for both sides. Is it the very old double bluff? From the cave on the moon? Unlikely. The chicken crosses it’s legs and orders a pint of Budweisser. Most of us quickly come to the conclusion that Osama doesn’t give a shit who wins.. that in the best Irish tradition, he’s a chancer. That he’s just trying to slip a dead skunk into the tumble drier. That the Chrisler Building is safe for at least the next four days. The chicken drops in at the liquor store for a couple of bottles of fomented rats piss and retires to sitting on pregnant chards for the weekend…

And so it is. In a few days time it’ll be done and dusted, and the million ensuant law suits won’t make that much difference. In fact nothing will make that much difference anyway because whoever is president will have to contend with Congress, a body of men and women who have a Republican majority, and are extremely unlikely to let a Democrat president move beyond the confines of his kennel…. except to go abroad.. and spread a better word.. a different ‘foreign’ policy.. a quest without a turd. Perchance…

So what are the odds? Again? On either…. What? Shortening? Bollocks, I’ve missed my chance… Go for it! Throw your dosh away!! No.. not this time.. I’ll give it to someone in the street instead. Bollocks to it all.

Mind how you go.

Copyright 2004 Roy Harper