Saturday, January 30, 2010

Chill Out Chilcot

Tony Blair: veni, vidi, vici.

I may be late but I'm very near the mark. The so-called Iraq inquiry finally got a chance to question Tony Blair and they muffed it big time.

It seems amazing to me that the Chilcotters are simply unable, or unwilling, to ask the type of questions designed to bring out the real answers.

At the moment it goes something like this:

Chilcot: Welcome (three minutes of waffle ensues outlining why the inquiry is there and expressing real regret that the witnesses are inconvenienced by having to attend). Now, Prime Minister, oh sorry I meant Mr Blair, could you please, please tell us a bit about what you were doing in relation to the outbreak of hostilities in Iraq?

Tony Blair: Well, (there follows a 35 minute uninterrupted monologue by Teflon Tone).

Got the idea?

Where's Paxman when he's needed?

Actually, taking cheap shots at Chilcot, whilst it has become a sort of unofficial Olympic sport, is not entirely fair. After all he is getting a whacking great sum to do this job and has a very nice lunch everyday courtesy of the government.

How so? How about consulting the terms of reference?

Who picked the members?

The Prime Minister appointed the members of the Committee. Opposition parties were consulted. (Oh gosh, that's all right then!)

Why don’t you have politicians on the Inquiry team?
The Committee’s membership is a matter for the Government. Sir John has, however, discussed his approach to the Inquiry with the Government, leaders of Opposition parties, Chairmen of relevant House of Commons Committees and other interested Parliamentarians. The Committee will continue to discuss the Inquiry with politicians as the Inquiry progresses. (Ok, this is a joke from a dodgy internet site, isn't it?)
Will the Inquiry look into issues that are being considered by other proceedings?
There may be issues that are subject to other ongoing proceedings – for example, legal proceedings or police investigations - on which it would not be appropriate for this Inquiry to comment. We will decide that on a case-by-case basis, subject to legal advice. (And, we trust you implicitly, after all you were appointed by the very people you are supposed to be questioning and holding to account!)
How is the Government co-operating with the Inquiry?
As the Prime Minister told the House of Commons, “no British document and no British witness will be beyond the scope of the Inquiry.” The Government has assured the Inquiry of the full co-operation of the relevant Departments. (I'm so relieved!)
Will all the documentary evidence be published on the website?
The Committee intends to publish the key evidence with its report at the end of the Inquiry. It may also publish material on the website as the Inquiry progresses where this will help increase public understanding of its work. (I'm sure I read somewhere that the Road to Hell is paves with good intentions.)
Will you tell witnesses the line of questioning they will face?
In order for the evidence sessions to be as effective as possible, and in order to ensure fairness to the witnesses, the Inquiry will provide guidance on the matters that the Inquiry wishes to cover in the hearing, and any documents the Inquiry wishes to refer to. The witnesses will not be told of the precise lines of questioning they will face. (Good, they will only be asked questions they are expecting, how fair is that?)
What protection do witnesses have to speak freely?
The hearings are not covered by Parliamentary or other privilege. The Committee expects all witnesses to provide truthful, fair and accurate evidence. The Inquiry welcomes the fact that the Government and Services have extended an immunity from disciplinary action to serving officials and military personnel who give evidence or otherwise assist the Inquiry, as this will help reassure witnesses that they can provide frank and honest evidence.
Should a witness feel unable to answer questions due to a genuine fear of self-incrimination of a criminal offence, it would be open to the Inquiry Committee to consider whether, in order to secure the greatest possible openness and co-operation, it would be appropriate to seek an undertaking from the Law Officers that evidence provided to the inquiry will not be used in criminal proceedings against them, in accordance with the usual practice in inquiries. (Read this bit again please – if you can bear it.)
What will the Inquiry do if it receives evidence or information about criminal offences?
If the Inquiry receives credible evidence that criminal offences have been committed that has not previously been referred to the investigating authorities, it would be obliged to refer that evidence to the appropriate investigating authority. (I'm just so comforted.)
I would gladly give up a year's pay to get Tone, Gordo, The Man of Straw and the rest of the divots in front of a U.S. Senate Committee. Then the money spent providing this sham might be said to have been well spent.

Monday, January 11, 2010

New Year's Resolutions

Number One

Instead of making New Year's Resolutions and then forgetting about them or breaking them, I resolve to make some and try to stick to them.

Number Two

Instead of expecting the rest of the world to suddenly get smarter, I resolve to be much more tolerant of others despite their obvious mental incapabilities.

Number Three

Instead of expecting a halcyon Summer of blue skies, high temperatures and endless runs for the England cricket team, I resolve to accept whatever nature has in store for us (unless it becomes so cold that the only economic way to keep warm is to burn a few UEA climate scientists at the stake).

Number Four

Instead of sinking slowly into an Alzheimer's haze, I resolve to make the rest of the world forget things before I do.

Number Five

Instead of being entirely smug about quitting smoking years ago, I resolve to be more tolerant of those who genuinely have difficulties in stopping (with the exception of anyone in my family who really ought to get the message by now).

Number Six

Instead of following the crowd sheepishly, I resolve to stop taking the mickey out of Delia Smith and the other gormless numpties who regularly troop into Carrow Road or write complete drivel about football in the local press. Actually, I don't think I can do this one - it's just too tempting.

Number Seven

Instead of nodding when the commentators describe Kevin Pietersen as the best thing since sliced bread, I resolve to expose him for the sham he is; a one-day batsman of limited ability whose understanding of the concept of a team only makes sense to him if there actually is an I in team.

Number Eight

Instead of smiling when someone mentions something stupid (like we al should thank the bankers for looking after our money), I resolve to smack them (figuratively) in the gob.

Number Nine

Instead of keeping my mouth shut in the face of religious or political intolerance, I resolve to stand up for the rights of the innocent and minorities.

Number Ten

Instead of making New Year's Resolutions in January 2011, I resolve to keep my thoughts to myself.

Chiefs Grades

Getting Better?

It's the end of term. The pads are being put away and the players are on their way home. Time to sum up and evaluate the 2009 version of the KC Chiefs.


It's the Scott Pioli and Todd Haley show, so at the end of the day it's their performances which will power the Chiefs to the next level or see them sink. How did they do? Well, Scott has the last laugh, but only because he is up in the office and his decisions are not always apparent. Todd is on the front line and way too visible. Scott had his work cut out for him because he inherited a team from the previous regime and would have had to be a real Houdini to escape the mediocrity that was the previous incarnation. Has he failed? No, not yet – but he only has this year's draft and free agency to come up with some solutions. Todd has already made some moves to improve his coaching staff. A smart move. As a beginner he has had it rough. Again, he has only one more year to show some real progress. After that it could be adiĆ³s!


The blaze of anticipation that came with Matt Cassell soon foundered under the realisation that without any quality receivers and a make-shift backfield he was not going to be a Pro Bowl QB this season. The Chiefs will persevere with him and rightly. With some quality around him he can only get better. Brodie Croyle is a good back-up – question is can the Chiefs keep him?


See above. No quality. Dwayne Bowe took over the Larry Johnson role as Idiot in Residence. Others arrived, left or just bombed. Must be priority number two in draft/free agency.

Running backs

Jamal Charles is now the saviour after a good second half to the season. Shows a lot of promise. Could be a thousand yard plus back. One thing is for sure, the running back is the quarterback's best friend and if Cassell is to prosper then so must Charles. Chiefs may well draft here but not in the top three rounds. The demise of Larry Johnson was long past doing and benefited everyone. Now he can set about messing up Cincinnati.


Got a bit better but only just. Chiefs will try to acquire some quality at center and maybe one tackle. Some incumbents will be out of a job next season – at least in KC. Draft priority – equal second.

Special Teams

Not enough quality and the result often found the Tomahawkers behind before they started. Change of coach? Change of philosophy? Change of personnel? Probably all of the above. Chiefs fringe draftees must be able to contribute to this part of the team. Draft priority – below five


Just about a plus for Mr Irrelevant. Chiefs will persevere with him and should. Punting rock solid – probably the only area the Chiefs will not have to look at next season. Draft priority – not on the radar. If the Chiefs draft a specialist kicker they really have lost the plot!

Defensive Line/Linebackers

Here's where Pioli and Haley really can point to the first year blues. Trying to change the 4-3 to a 3-4 with more or less the same personnel was always going to be a killer, and it was. So, now they must fix it. They must draft high (first/second round) and explore free agency. They may trade/get rid of Glenn Dorsey. Makes sense – he's not a 3-4 player. The 2010 Chiefs must be able to stuff the run with the front three. End of story. Linebackers are not good enough and will be cleared out – with the exception of Tamba Hali and maybe one or two others. Draft high! Imperative!


Suffered because of the non-existent pass rush. Still developing and will probably be down in the draft priority.

Fringe players

Did not contribute much. Despite noises that everyone on the roster must be the right kind of player it just did not happen From the 50-odd man roster that finished the season I expect no more than 35 -40 to be starting the next.