Welcome to Spiel, the JC’s blog.

  • He never said it

    Stephen Pollard
    Jul 23, 2009

    This is the big one, as punctured by Gideon Rachman:

    Whenever European leaders want to justify the drive for ever-closer
    union in foreign policy, they quote Henry Kissinger’s famous remark -
    “Who do I call if I want to speak to Europe?”. The comment is meant to
    epitomise Europe’s failure to get its act together on the world stage.
    The hope in Brussels is that if the Lisbon Treaty goes through, the
    Americans will finally get that single number to dial; it will be the
    new EU foreign secretary for Hillary Clinton, and new EU president for

    The Kissinger “who do I call” remark was trotted out at almost every
    seminar I ever went to Brussels. So I’m delighted to add it to the list
    of “famous sayings that were never said”.

  • How to blow your case, by Nadine Dorries

    Stephen Pollard
    Jul 22, 2009

    Unintentionally hilarious post on Tory MP Nadine Dorries's blog.

    She starts off having a go at the idea that MPs have too much holiday, arguing that the fact that they aren't sitting doesn't mean they have the time off:

    ‘MPs take 85 days holiday' is one example. I don't suppose the headline ‘MPs hammer the constituency work during the month of September' is really eye catching enough, but is the truth ever as good as the fiction?

  • The greatest book ever

    Stephen Pollard
    Jul 22, 2009

    Daniel Finkelstein posts about Obama's new role model: LBJ. I loved this:

    LBJ used to have big charts where he could know which congressman or
    senator he needed to call at every instant. He would then invite them
    to breakfast, cocktails, call them at any hour of the day or night.

    He called one senator at 3 a.m. and said to the senator, 'I hope I
    didn't wake you up,' and the senator replied, 'Oh no, I was just lying
    here hoping my president would call.'

  • They think we are all idiots

    Stephen Pollard
    Jul 22, 2009

    I was away from my pc yesterday, and thanks to the O2 network crash couldn't post from my phone, so forgive the delay in mentioning this, but...

    With a wife who is 33 weeks pregnant, I am naturally looking at all the advice regarding swine flu. I'll leave commenting on the sheer incompetence of a government which has a health secretary, a public health minister, a chief medical adviser and a health department all saying different things, and the mind-numbing crassness of the NCT advising would-be parents to wait a year or so until swine flu has passed before getting pregnant.

    Instead, I'll simply thank Sir Liam Donaldson for his advice, published on Monday, specifically directed at pregnant women:

  • Jewish cossacks

    Geoffrey Paul
    Jul 21, 2009

    Time and again in accounts of Cossack raids on their Jewish or Polish neighbours, we read of men on horseback, wielding fiery touches, setting fire to fields and crops and terrifying the local populace. I recalled these accounts with a prickle of horror when I read today's Israeli press reports of between 1,500 and 2,000 Arab olive trees being set on fire by horseback riding settlers from the ever-troublesome West Bank Jewish settlement of Yitzhar. It is from this place, you may recall, that Israel paratroopers were withdrawn a few years ago after clashes with settlers. What gives this ugly story an even uglier twist is that the settlers say their attacks are not aimed specifically at local Arabs but at the Israeli Government as a warning of what will happen if they continue to demolish illegal structures on West Bank settlements. If and when the Israel Government moves against the settlements themselves, I fear we will see battles of Jew against Jew as have not been experienced in modern history. It is a terrible prospect, made worse by the fact that one side believes it is acting in the name and with the blessing of God.

  • Never mind the kugelsack, Brüno has real chutzpah

    Marcus Dysch
    Jul 20, 2009

    If you thought the naked fight scene with Azamat Bagatov in Borat was as much as you could bear, it might be best to stay away from Brüno.

    Last night I went to see Sacha Baron Cohen’s latest offering. Arriving at the cinema I innocently wondered what could possibly be in the film to have led the classification board to give it an 18 certificate.

    An hour and a half later, and after a level of obscenity that shocked even this gritty Northerner, it was pretty obvious.