Monday, May 31, 2010

Self-Clowning Lunatics Strike Again

Jesus facepalming Christ. I might as well just cancel my unwritten rule of trying to avoid Israel/Palestine as the twat-magnet it is.

Okay, let's look at this from an unusual angle and see what we get out of it. Let's say you were a cartoonish, Ahmadinejadesque lunatic fixated on destroying Israel. How would you go about achieving your goal?

Well, priority number one would be to isolate the Israelis from their allies, so they have no diplomatic or military cover. A good start would be to take actions that infuriate military partners like the Turks by killing a load of Turkish civvies, then telling them to fuck off by pretending that the civvies you killed deserved it. You'd definitely want to sabotage relations with allies like Greece, so that they'd withdraw from joint military operations and bar your military leaders from the country.

You'd want to blacken the Israelis' image by finding as much video footage as possible of exploded children and Merkava tanks doing donuts in the rubble of civilian housing, preferably from insane, murderous, indefensible and counterproductive wars. You'd want to rile up Israel's enemies by marching the Israeli military into conflicts in Lebanon that they can't win so that they look much weaker than they are, and you'd want to destroy the reputation of Israel's special forces. At least since the raid on Entebbe, Israeli special forces have looked courageous and invincible - getting some good footage of them blowing away a load of civvies in a clusterfuck operation would be propaganda gold.

Plus, you'd want to isolate the country from the United States by blowing up a load of pointless political pissfights that gain Israel nothing and damage its supporters as badly as possible. The Israelis don't need the US to give them every item of military hardware excepting nukes and aircraft carriers, but trying to fund that stuff out of general taxation rather getting them for free would be much more difficult.

In short, you'd want to make Israel look like a paranoid, bloodthirsty and extremely belligerent nation of racist freaks, determined to murder fuck out of civilians with total impunity year-in, year-out, so that the entire planet disowns them by, for example, withdrawing their ambassadors and issuing a barrage of denuncations.

This, I contend, is the actual policy of the Israeli political class, and I'm now certain that the Israeli government is packed to the hoop with Iranian sleeper agents. Short of handing Syrian intelligence the launch codes to their nuclear arsenal, I really can't think of any way in which the Israeli political class could do their country more harm.

It's been clear for years that the Israeli right is utterly dependent on the looniest fringe of Palestinian society for their power and legitimacy, and that both sets of nutters use violence against the other as a means to cementing their rule. The basic situation over there is that both Hamas and the Israeli government are committed to policies that harm their populations but ensure their own continued rule. It's a godawful, mutual death spiral that's heading in precisely the wrong direction.

Shorter - there really is an urgent and perilous threat to Israel. It's called "the Israeli government".

Saturday, May 29, 2010

TV Sex And Self-Interest

You know, I have to endorse every bit of this Lindy West review of Sex And The City 2, surely destined to become a classic of the culture-piece-as-punishment-beating form. As someone who spends far too much time hurling convoluted, sexually explicit insults at various political and media figures, I have to applaud.

And sure, I can get down with the various attacks on the show I've seen in the past few days. Truly, the SATC phenomenon is astonishingly shallow, man-obsessed and materialistic, and took about ten episodes to use up the entirety of its writers' ideas.

Speaking as a man whose girlfriend maintains executive control of the TV remote however, I have to point out that SATC should appeal to guys a little more than other shows targeted at women. While it's intensely annoying and hollow, at least its writers made the occasional stab at comedy. The subject matter is one close to our hearts. Most of the laughs come from the characters' schemes blowing up in their faces, rather than their triumphs, which strikes me as very British. There are dick jokes and nudity.

Now, I can imagine how this is going over right now. Gents, if you disagree, I suggest you sit down for an evening with The Hills, Desperate Housewives, Keeping Up With The Kardashians, Loose Women or anything on the E! Entertainment Channel. We're talking damage limitation here, not looking for a ladies-only version of the Champions League final or Starship Troopers.

(Is this patronising enough yet? No? Very well, I'll redouble my efforts).

Selfishly, I'd say that a show that encourages women to enjoy healthy, enthusiastic and experimental sex lives is hugely preferable to horrible shit of the Dawson's Creek genus. A former girlfriend once forced me to watch an episode which featured a seventeen-year-old lad explaining to his mate that he just didn't think he and his girlfriend were ready to have sex yet, which is up there with James & The Giant Peach for gritty realism and believability.

While I'm sure I'm doing a disservice to female-targeted viewing here, it's no exaggeration to say that you could turn your TV on in the morning and watch tacked-together "documentaries" obsessing over skeletal, tottering socialite morons shopping and crash-dieting uninterrupted until midnight. While the producers of such shows always contend that they're investigating eating disorders etc., they can't disguise their role as vampiric scumbags sucking on women's nagging self-esteem issues.

So yes, SATC sucks like a nuclear-powered Hoover. For me though, I'd prefer women to be watching stuff that might just make them fancy a kiss and a cuddle while the credits roll rather than an extended bout of sobbing and self-harming in the bathroom. I'd still rather slam my clackersack in a car door than see the new film, of course, but let's keep things in perspective here.

Friday, May 28, 2010

Product Recall - Amnesty International The Bastards

I think we can agree that it's time for a recall on this new-fangled Amnesty International: Shower of Bastards product line due to a lack of demand.

Crack salesman Brighty seems to believe that the ever-popular Amnesty: Good People, Thankless Work brand has been routed in the marketplace by his new product, but it's a wooden and unconvincing performance. Much like those Best Blog Posts of the Year books that only featured bloggers buy, this latest release of AI:SoB has hit the international press with the bone-shuddering impact of an anorexic fruit fly shoulder-charging a moose.

Naturally, there's a ready market for mad and cracked comparisons of Amnesty to "tyrants" and half-arsed horseshit about "determined programme(s) of support within human rights organizations for the political programme of Islamists", but that's long been restricted to the arena of resentful, no-dick losers and hairy-palmed compulsive masturbators that make up the internet's hilarious "anti-Jihadist" movement. All this proves is the old saw about coke dealers being their own best customers.

Out in the real world, tumbleweeds. Time to cut your losses and admit defeat lads, before you bankrupt the company and have to take up professional sperm donation to make ends meet.

Final question - whatever happened to elderly crank Eric Lee's attempt to get himself voted onto Amnesty UK's board, with the openly declared intent of forcing the org to turn a blind eye to human rights violations committed by white people "rebalance" its coverage? I would've thought that even the silliest AI contributor might smell a rat in that one.

Update: My original post on this sorry business.

The Search For a Universal Constant

Okay, so it's a proven fact that everyone who lives to the south of you is a meek, limp-wristed big jessie who drinks non-alcoholic shandy out of a teacup, while everyone to the north is a Viking-horned sheep-worrier mystified by electricity.

Here's my question - does this work in the other way round in the southern hemisphere?

Evidence by way of graphs and equations, please.

Tuesday, May 18, 2010

A Little Ignorance Goes a Long Way

2:34pm - The BBC's premier political correspondent Nick Robinson holds forth on deportation of suspected terrorists, the Human Rights Act and potential difficulties within the Tory-Liberal coalition.

5:01pm - The BBC's premier political correspondent Nick Robinson finally bothers his arse to find out what the Human Rights Act is and what it does... when somebody explains it to him.

Your Hack of the Month at work, ladies and gentlemen.

Monday, May 17, 2010

Never Give a Sucker An Even Break

So Krugman finds an old clip of Uncle Miltie propounding his thoughts on corporate regulation...

Thinking about BP and the Gulf: in this old interview, Milton Friedman says that there's no need for safety regulation, because corporations know that if they do harm they'll be sued.

Interviewer: So tort law takes care of a lot of this...

Friedman: Absolutely, absolutely...

It'd be a more entertaining argument, were it not so popular. Somebody probably asked the great man what this implies about the need for a police force to regulate citizens' behaviour, but Google isn't helping me here.

Regular readers will be aware that I know dick about economics and accountancy, but may recall that I'm pretty clued up on crime. Curiously, the basics are fairly relevant to the ongoing financial crisis and corporate shenanigans that have made this such an interesting age to experience.

1. There are no brilliant criminal minds.

Almost all crime - violent, property-related, financial - is all about opportunism. Man sees thing not nailed down, steals thing, usually trades at heavy discount for cash to buy heroin or alcohol; Man needs cash, usually for heroin or alcohol, robs granny; Man has opportunity to dip into the till at work, dips into the till. Schemers and plotters make better careerists than criminals.

2. Hence, there are very, very few brilliant criminal plots.

The major difference between criminals and law-abiding citizens is that most criminals are incapable of self-control or weighing up deterrents. Oh, for a pound every time I've heard of some murderer saying some variation of But I only stabbed him, I didn't mean to kill him. Criminals and consequences are strangers, until the staff sergeant shuts that cell door.

Almost all crime is committed in hot blood on the spur of the moment. The thought process works like this - I could nick that... I've nicked it.

Thus do we get the likes of Goldman Sachs own Fabrice Tourre, who clearly believed he was some kind of astonishing brainbox - "More and more leverage in the system," he wrote. "The whole building is about to collapse anytime now. . . . Only potential survivor, the fabulous Fab . . . standing in the middle of all these complex, highly leveraged, exotic trades he created!"

Allow me to interpret. Tourre sets up epic con, fleeces suckers who foolishly believe Goldman won't screw them. More briefly, I could nick that - I've nicked it. Did Fab pause to consider whether he'd wind up being hauled in front of a Congressional committee for this little scam? No sir, I believe he did not.

Shorter version - that journalist was taking the piss when she called her book about Enron The Smartest Guys in the Room. A thief with a learjet is still just a thief.

3. A successful criminal will usually keep working the same trick until he gets caught.

Consider this genius, who ripped off £78,000 from his employers and left his job, getting away scot free... Then came back a year later, swiped another £60,000 and inevitably got caught. Once a lavish lifestyle is established, criminals seem to find it near-impossible to give it up.

In the private sector, employers expect a small percentage of cash and goods to go walkies, whether accidentally or "accidentally", and they only call the cops when the sting becomes obvious. The petty crook who swipes £100 out of the till a month will be able to do so forever, but they're hugely outnumbered by the greedy fools.

I suggest this might be relevant to shareholders in companies, the employees of which were willing to put them on the hook for debt-to-equity ratios that would make your eyes bleed.

4. Nobody is a bad guy. Don't believe me? Ask a murderer.

Not literally, of course - there are tens of thousands of psychos, headbangers and outright evil bastards out there. Ask them about what they did and you'll suddenly discover that they were compelled beyond their will to act that way. If only the victim hadn't made that smart remark, the poor villain wouldn't have had to stab him. If it weren't for this junk habit, there'd have been no need to rob that granny.

See also, every Wall Street Journal editorial for the last two years.

5. Society only works if you know you can stand in a crowd without being knifed and robbed.

People need to work and play - if we all have to sit in our houses guarding our shit with a shotgun because the neighbours will rob us blind the second we turn our backs, we're no longer a functioning society. We're in Mad Max 2 territory.

Thankfully, the overwhelming majority of people are law-abiding. People by and large don't probe around the edges of the law looking for ways to swindle each other out of their life savings; they don't sit scheming all night on ways to turn their neighbours' misfortune into profit. Those that do can expect the police to take an interest in their activities sooner or later.

Anybody confident that this is how it works on Wall Street?

Update! It also occurs to me that the whole point of corruption is not only to gain an advantage for yourself, but also to protect yourself from retribution by a) making your activities legal where you can and b) ensnaring so many people in your schemes that nobody in authority will dare take you on for fear of also destroying themselves. Think - the police chief and the mayor in Leo's office in Miller's Crossing.

Friday, May 14, 2010

It Speaks!

Radio interview with your host on the subject of Decency* available here, but prepare for disappointment - my voice sounds less Hunter S. Thompson than I'd hoped. I don't usually talk that way, and must've subconsciously overdone the i-dotting and t-crossing because it's a London-based outfit. Still, managed to use proper sentences, so that's a start...

*Really turne
d out to be more about 2003-era liberal interventionism than the various manias that make up modern Decency... Recorded the whole thing without using "Condemnathon" or "Brie-scoffing intellectual ponces" once. Feel free to ask questions if you get through the whole thing.

Tuesday, May 11, 2010

General Election - Hack Of The Month Award

And there we have it - ten months of bellowing, Nosferatuan Tory rage in the post, as the new coalition tries to reconcile itself to its not-so-mutual interests in bombing Brussels and bulk-buying bulgar wheat.

For smartarses like myself who basically gave up on the whole black farce years ago, the election fiasco has offered rich pickings from start to finish.

The Tories seem pretty chipper for a party who have just watched their leadership re-enact the most explicit scenes from Kneepad Nymphos Nine upon Nick Clegg, previously known as Parliament's most comical cuddly toy.

After spending all week alternating between mewling self-pity and bellowing fake outrage over "totalitarianism", I'm anticipating a campaign of toe-curling cringeworthiness as the Tories and Lib Dems go all gooey-eyed at each other to the tune of Lovin' You (Is Easy 'Cos You're Beautiful).

Then there's Labour, clinging by a fingernail to the hope that, with all this horseshit, there must be a pony in there somewhere. Their eulogies to their own record of barely restrained grovelling to the super-rich and enthusiastic warmaking were hilarious. Now, we get their supporters' sudden fondness for pointing at their estranged voters and calling them idiots and twats. That'll work, guys.

Still, if this whole sorry affair has left the nation's senior politicians looking like puzzled seaside donkeys, spare a thought for the press - forced to fill endless airtime and stuff column inches with similes for I don't know, 24/7 for a month. It's been a hard and thankless task, so let's give a little back by recognising their endeavours with a little Hack Of The Month contest.

Marina Hyde, The Guardian

A woeful effort at hackery by the Graun's premier poison pen. While older and wiser hacks fell hook, line and sinker for the televised debates - Oh, the democraticity! - Hyde saw straight through to the glorified media suck-fests they were. Being a blogger, I'm free to call them a stitch-up of epic proportions, aimed at filling pages with vacuous blah; a puddle-deep exercise in feel-good waffle, or even a pornographic meeting of journalistic tongue and political anus. Hyde, to her credit, found more eloquent methods of conveying the same message.

With a dreadful, rock-bottom 1/10, Hyde is therefore disqualified from HotM for relating some reality to her readers. Unforgiveable.

Alex Massie, The Spectator

As a Conservative in the sense of individual freedoms and financial prudence rather than squealing about fascism and foreigners, Massie was always going to struggle in HotM. So it proved, as he was forced to point out that Gordon Brown wasn't a Stalinist dictator and that the Scots haven't crushed British democracy under their tartan jackboot. For employing arcane and outmoded techniques such as reason and logic, Massie bombs out of HotM with a feeble 2/10.

Stephen Pollard, Jewish Chronicle

Shocked and horrified absolutely nobody by suddenly announcing he was turning Tory, while apparently under the impression that people who weren't suffering from inflammation of the brain had ever believed he was anything else.

Instantly leapt to the most ludicrous extreme of entirely mainstream Conservative thought by wailing about the unfairness of everything and claiming to be afraid that Labour were crushing democracy etc. etc. while also being fully aware that he was talking shite. If awards were presented for enthusiasm, he'd be a shoo-in, but pro-forma wingnut boo-hoo is ten a penny. 4/10, must try harder.

Martin Bright, The Spectator

Here's where things get interesting - fresh from a three-year campaign of beating his chest and howling at anyone who would listen that the Labour Party were corrupt, lying, incompetent, venal bullies, Bright performed an acrobatic reverse ferret at the last moment, endorsing Labour while telling everyone how bloody awful he felt doing it.

This back-breaking manoeuvre completed, Bright began guilt-tripping ex-Labour voters, thus leaving him with all the dignity and gravitas of a man with a square dick trying to fuck a row of donuts. Oh, you so Hacky, Martin! You bullshit us long time! 6/10

Polly Toynbee, The Guardian

Polly agrees with what Gordon said. In those areas where she doesn't, she'll find out what Gordon thinks then agree with that. Is boned for columns from now on, will likely wait until Labour has a new leader, then agree with him instead, unless the party starts smoking crack and absent-mindedly elects Harriet Harman. 7/10

Adam Boulton, Sky News

No need for an in-depth review here - Sky's hacktacular fraud was repeatedly and brutally exposed as a craven suck-up to power, uncontrollably spouting the most ludicrous soundbites of the Murdoch press like his career depended on it. It did.

In just one fifty second explosion, Boulton managed the inconceivable achievement of making Alistair Campbell look reasonable and well-mannered. It was like watching Penfold politely rebuffing the furious sexual advances of a priapic Baron Greenback.

9/10: Don't worry, Adam - nobody thinks you're a Tory. We just think you like getting paid and wish that you'd sod off.

Nick Robinson, BBC

Can you tell us what's happening where you are, Nick? Two minutes of bewildering, wholly-invented telepathic gibberish later, viewers are no further forward than a vague feeling that, whatever it is, it's good news for David Cameron.

Like the God particle of content-free news, scientists have long speculated that it is theoretically possible for a journalist to communicate using only half-true, poorly-sourced or wholly invented rubbish that some party handler has fed him mere seconds before. Previously unproven, it's been suggested that such a journalist would produce an amazing phenomenon known as anti-news - that is, information broadcasting that actually leaves the viewer more ignorant than they were before they began watching.

I assume that the BBC crossed their fingers and hoped for the best when they fired up the Large Baldy Collider on election night, but Nick Robinson delivered in spades - reporting every scrap of political chickenfeed cast at his feet for days on end, without even catching a whisper of coalition talks between Labour and the Lib Dems.

10/10 for tenacity, vacuity and sheer pointlessness, and thus Nick Robinson wins Hack of the Month.

Tune in next month for coverage of the first major Tory backbench revolt...

Monday, May 10, 2010

Election Round-Up

Some brief thoughts on the fallout from the General Election...

- I think we can all agree that it is very, very unfair that the Conservatives don't get to take power based solely on the fact that they won more seats than Labour. If only there was some kind of well-structured political system in this country that could provide a stable framework for democratic governance.

- I am loving various internet right-wingers' contention that Scotland comprehensively rejected the Tories because we're too stupid and state-dependent to recognise the justice of their cause, but why stop there? More than 60% of the UK's population voted not-Tory. Imagine the wealth of personality defects these brainless cretins exhibit! Perhaps an extended awareness-raising campaign focussed on denouncing the electorate's base ignorance and venality will push the Tories over the top in the inevitable revote in a few months' time?

- People, you're getting the wrong end of the stick when you accuse the world's Adam Boultons of political bias. Sure, there's an element of the British press that pulls inherently to the right or left, but the defining characteristic of UK journalism is its relentless, leg-humping boner for power.

I mean, check out The toxin in New Labour squats in his bunker or The Sun's Squatter, 59, holed up in Number 10; note the repeated invocation of the "unelected" PM. These aren't mistakes born of bias - these articles were written by well-educated and talented professionals who know full well that Brown is still PM on constitutional grounds, but whose bosses have bet the family silver on Cameron gaining power. Hence, they are sucking up to the Tories like a gaggle of starfucking groupies at a Rolling Stones concert, much as they did to Tony Blair back in the day.

Hell, case in point - think about how the American press treated George W. Bush earlier in the decade. After 9/11, Bush could've strode onstage dressed as Bozo the Clown and farted the Soviet anthem into a microphone, and the press would've fallen overthemselves to call him "statesmanlike" and ask him how his deep religious faith informed his politics.

Fast forward to 2007, and byline after byline started with some variation on "Gabbling like a pissed-up and lobotomised numbnuts with a skull full of clay, a clearly retarded President Bush dropped some unbelievably idiotic bullshit on the nation today..."

I mean, let's be blunt - even in his heyday, Bush wouldn't look statesmanlike if you munched up four sheets of blotter acid and looked at him through a kaleidoscope. What changed? The 2006 mid-term elections handed the gears of power to the Democrats, and from that moment on every hack in Washington queued up to boot the President in the balls again and again.

The situation in Britain is exactly the same, given our craven professional culture of kissing up and kicking down. So sure, the papers have their political affiliations, but the golden rules of the Godawful British workplace apply - everybody laughs at the bosses' jokes and makes fun of the bloke with the body odour problem behind his back.

- Angsty lefties keen to push a "progressive majority coalition", honestly, leave this one alone. The Tories are about to launch the most depraved and vicious series of public spending cuts this country has ever seen, and they're relying on a doddery alliance with a bunch of softly-capitalist, touchy-feely vegetarians to deliver it. This Parliament has "slapstick catastrophe" written on it in neon letters so big they can be seen from space.

I mean, sure, the public accept that spending cuts are needed, but they expect the new government to at least look a little guilty about it. The electorate are not going to respond favourably when the Tories start openly masturbating while slashing their schools' jotter budgets in about three weeks' time.

The Tories, being a bunch of addled Thatcherite closet cases in vaguely convincing "human being" fancy dress costumes, are unlikely to make it to Fireworks Night under these circumstances. I give it two months before the first new MP is caught bumming a sex-trafficked Phillipina maid or shooting panda cubs for sport - you know, stuff people will overlook when the economy is booming, but might dislike if it's tied to hospital closures.

Ah well, either way it'll be good material for satire. God knows the last government were a horrible enough bunch, but we're talking about people who pay attention when Norman Tebbit opens his wizened and twisted trap. Political triumphs are not of such stuff made.

All Modern Thought

"All modern thought can be reduced to a mechanical denunciation of the West, emphasising (its) hypocrisy, violence and abomination. The duty to repent forbids the Western bloc, which is eternally guilty, to judge or combat other systems, other states, other religions. Our past crimes command us to keep our mouths closed". - Pascal Bruckner

You know, I'
d be rather more amenable to this kind of chat if, say, we in the west had responded to 9/11 and various other terrorist outrages by sending Osama Bin Laden and Mullah Omar some frosted cheesecake and a thank-you card.

Bruckner's ideas - as expounded and heartily endorsed by people who should know better - mark a bathetic new low point in the development of white-guy rage into a semi-coherent and increasingly respectable philosophy based on blubbing self-pity and belligerent indifference to reality.

Let's just grant the idea that there are all too many people in the west who react to terrorist outrages by finding inventive ways to make it all the Americans' fault. Those of us who waste much of our lives online have argued with people like this and what they lack in numbers, they make up for in tenacity.

Let's also grant that, as Anthony and Cohen both say, loads of awful liberals said that Al-Qaeda attacked the Twin Towers and the London Underground in retaliation for American and British military activity abroad.* Hell, let's go the whole hog and just say that, as the lunatic Independent reviewer contends, "the Left" celebrated the 9/11 attacks and weren't upset in the least by the Madrid and London bombings.

Well then, what?

I notice that neither ourselves nor the United States have allowed this treachery to impede our policy of launching extremely violent, insane and unwinnable wars, nor of imprisoning vast numbers in secret prisons on confidential charges. If the horrible, self-hating guilt Bruckner describes is so all-pervading, what would a confident west have done? Invaded Iran? Nuked Cairo?

You really have to wonder who this stuff is supposed to convince. Perhaps the answer is None-too-bright book reviewers.

A couple of further points occur - maybe, if you've spent the best part of a
decade pretending that the word understand is a synonym for condone and cheerlead and people still aren't joining in, it's time to change tack?

And there's a very good reason why people are wary of political theories of the type that can be encapsulated in the sentence We need to be harsher on the ethnics. If you think it's because they feel guilty because Thomas Jefferson owned slaves, you should probably stay away from sharp objects and hot liquids, since you are for real too stupid to avoid accidentally impaling yourself through the groin with a boiling kettle and a chisel.

*It'd be wise to accept this, not least since Al-Qaeda themselves told the world that this is why they did it. I don't rule out the possibility that this was merely a propaganda move, but painting what the terrorists themselves actually say their motives were as the pinnacle of anti-western hatred seems a little... How would the French put it? Cretineuse? Idiotique?

If Anthony and Cohen both correctly mock the notion that 9/11 was a justified act of retaliation for American adventurism, why do we think that neither of them realise that their contention - basically, that Al-Qaeda did it because Sayyid Qutb didn't like Americans dancing in the fifties - is just an equal and opposite stupidity?

Thursday, May 06, 2010

The Inevitable Election Live Blog

Well, that's your lot for the evening. My guess? The Tories are going to grab enough seats to start bitching for Number Ten, but nowhere near enough to prevent an avalanche of bullshit that's going to horrify the electorate. Same as everyone else.

03.20: Paxman reckons talks have already begun between Labour and the Lib Dems. Me, I reckon they should just fuck and get it over with, because the rest of us are a bit bored.

03.05: 319 votes for Colin Fox - brutal, for a former MSP. Alistair Darling remains with his massive eyebrows, obvious sexual deviancies and wilted, stilted dialogue.

03.00: Looked down to listen to myself on the radio (used to think I sounded a bit rough and ready, now disabused) and looked up to see Cameron declaring victory like a deranged and fleshy C3-PO. Maybe, and who knows?

02.14: Looks like the Lib Dems are stuggling... That looks bad for a Labour/Liberal coalition and rather makes it look like we might wind up with an angry Tory minority forming their own weedy little parliamentary Death Star, then sending it drifting around the country ineffectually trying to blast public spending with their puny space lasers. Time will tell.

01.56: Politics is? I'm an English graduate, as well.

01.50: But of course, Brown did come across like a pissed and confused Bagpuss. Politics are a cruel mistress.

Gordon Brown holds Mrs. Rodent's constituency, unsurprisingly - miners and heavy industry workers who got fucked like Ron Jeremy's co-stars in the 1980s. Cowdenbeath high street is now a long run of charity and pound shops, off-licences, bookies and the odd ailing local business, a long way from what it was before external forces deliberately shot the town in the back of its head twenty years ago. The loyalty they've shown for Brown is touching and tragic, and the former PM's speech was more panegyric for New Labour and his own career than an acceptance. It's a shit way for what was once an excellent MP for a loyal constituency to sign off, it if turns out that way.

01.18: Hurrah! Alistair Campbell on television. Direct quote, when asked whether Labour should try to form a coalition with the Lib Dems, responds "I'm a hideous, duplicitous freak of a man who would be subject to forced chemical experiments in a world that was true and just". That's the message I picked up, anyway.

01:16: Jeremy Vine giving it some kind of wussy Morpheus-in-the-Matrix kind of What if there was a shift of six percent to the Bollocks Party dance on a virtual reality dancefloor. Better if he just started throwing kung-fu shapes and asked Do you think that's air you're breathing?

12.57: Even I feel sorry for Northern Ireland's FM Peter Robinson, defeated by the Lib Dems' ingenious strategy of not looting the Treasury and trying to keep your hard-shagging, adulterous fundie spouse out of the tabloids.

12.46:Mrs. Rodent off to bed - hardcore pornography break.

BBC Scotland following Gordon Brown's car, which hasn't crashed, broken down, caught fire, been hit by a derailed train, been shot at or called any grannies a bigot as yet. Does this bode well for the evening?

11.52: Of course, if Brown had called a snap election when Blair left, this could all have been avoided. Plus, if the Telegraph had any sense, they'd have left the expenses scandal until about March 2010.

11.45: What the fuck is up with all the UKIP candidates? All the ones they've shown so far look like sexually-retired lunatics with faces made of badly-sewn and roughly-chafed scrotum skin.

11.26: Labour lead by two! Mind you, Hibs were 6-2 up on Motherwell last night and were lucky not to get beat, so anything could happen.

10.49: They're reporting people have been turned away after queueing to vote. Not really a problem, since anyone who can't get it together to be at the polling station by 10pm was probably going to vote Natural Law anyway.

10.30: David Mundell (Tory): "People want change... They don't want to hear the same old arguments". Give that man a fucking banana.

10.27: The original was better. No Robert Shaw, USS Indianapolis, drinking to legs, firing an M1 at a moving shark or requirement for larger naval vessels etc. in this one.

10.20: Douglas Alexander looks like the Penguin from Batman on heavy tranquilisers and squeezed into a suit. Nicola Sturgeon's hair-helmet looks as well-fastened as ever, and should offer her complete protection from any falling lighting rigs.

10.15: They're interviewing young Tories on the BBC. That's young Tories in Scotland, without audible gunfire - God help us all.

10.10: There'll be a short interview with me about Decency and the election on Resonance FM at some point between now and half-three. I dread to think how it'll come out - I rub people up the wrong way in person, when they have the chance to interrupt me and call me on my crap. I did manage to call Tony Blair a "fork-tongued bullshitter", which may put the panel's backs up.

10.05: Exit polls suggest Con:307 Lab:255 LD:58, or a hung parliament in other words. I'll give you my expert analysis once Jaws 2 finishes.

09.40: Jesus, that Channel Four Come Dine With Me is like a Ricky Gervais script about a gaggle of insufferable pricks trying to outwanker each other in a cock factory.

Monday, May 03, 2010

@People who don't live in Edinburgh - condolences.

Update!: @Dr. Rice: Condaleezances.

Saturday, May 01, 2010

In Which The Author Gets All Smug And Superior On Your Punk Asses

"The people of England are never so happy as when you tell them they are ruined" - Arthur Murray, The Upholsterer, 1758

I still find myself baffled by the various left and liberal responses to the total failure of either Labour or the Liberals to issue any kind of defence of immigration or unemployment benefits, or the Mail's "Nick Clegg is a Nazi" headline.

I keep running across earnest assertions that the right wing press is a gigantic conspiracy aimed at subverting the nation to gibbering Randroid idiocy, and that the lack of humanity in our national debates stems from tabloid viciousness and contempt for reason.

And sure, there's an element of this. What this analysis misses is that outfits like the Mail are not political enterprises - they're businesses, and their priority is shifting units. Heat magazine doesn't publish all those pictures of skeletal celebs because it's desperate to publicise the horrors of anorexia, after all. They do it because there's a market for schadenfreude.

It'd be impossible for a gaggle of sexually-repressed racist fuckheads, jammed to the arsehole with royalist economics, to impose their ludicrous persecution fantasies on the nation. This suggests that there's a substantial market for extreme reactionary horseshit; that a minority are not gulled into consuming conspiratorial rage porn by covert manipulation, but rather that a subset throw themselves into the enterprise joyfully, begging to have their brains washed with the most hateful and deranged propaganda.

It suggests, in short, that lots of us are just pretty mean and nasty people, and always have been. For such people, today's enemies lists are just updates of older ones, wherein the nation's woes - and there has never been a period where we were not undermined, reviled and ripped off - were variously blamed on a treacherous cavalcade of Papists, the French, Jews, seditious Celts etc.

Standard left wing thought on human nature seems to be that we're basically a decent bunch, and that people will usually vote in favour a fair and equitable society, if the concept of fairness is well explained. This is true of the huge majority, but it's blind to the fact that a small but vocal minority of us are basically horrible, spiteful shitbags, and that the rest of us love nothing more than a good wallow in self-indulgent anger. The right wing press and their politicians have a huge advantage in recognising this, and clutch for that throbbing jugular of self-pity and bile like clammy-handed sex offenders every day of the year.

This is why the failure of politicians to defend their positions on social issues is such an utter disaster. In my experience, most people will listen to reason on most issues, from fiscal policy to football; by hurling Phil Woolas at immigration or dropping the scum-bomb on the unemployed, they're doing the reactionary's work for him. You will never, ever outflank the race-baiter or the draconian justice theorist to the right.

I talk to a lot of folk about politics, and the one thing I keep hearing again and again is the sheer, cathartic joy in people's voices when they detail the inherent malignant evil of their various bugbears, and the endless bombardment of slight and insult that is their existence. These are usually Good People too, but as prone as any of us to creating baleful threats and enemies out of thin air. Hell, I do this all the time - I built this blog on cruel humour and cursewords, and even the stupidest Tory is going to spot the numerous insults I've thrown in this post alone.

You want examples? I've spoken to a career criminal who complained of racist mistreatment over his fourteenth prosecution for shoplifting, on the basis that a "Somalian asylum seeker" wouldn't face such stern punishment. Presumably, non-white skin entitles the wearer to at least a fourteen-crime streak before the authorities lose their rag.

Just this week, a friend who's a single mother told me she intended to vote Tory because they'd crack down on benefits. "Why should I pay for these lazy bastards?" she asked, not pausing to consider whether the Tories might also put the kibosh on her son's subsidised nursery place or slash all the benefits she claims.

The work colleague who thinks immigration is out of control, yet surely isn't getting that impression from the smallest and whitest town in the near-minority-free region of East Lothian where he lives; the family member who reckons the Germans are bastards, because they're arrogant and have no sense of humour; the friend who chuckles when American soldiers are shot on duty in Baghdad; the woman who phoned me at work to complain that she'd been barred from a boozer on racist grounds, since they'd never dare bar a "Lithuanian" without making the reasons crystal clear...

None of these examples are evidence of villainy, because almost all are ordinary, good natured people who happen to hold some mildly wacky ideas. These notions certainly aren't implanted by the press or jammed into their eyeballs by crank politicians. They're the kind of generalisation we're all prone to, but they're the cracks in the foundations into which mad bigots and calculating wingnuts drive their wedges.

What separates the ordinary punter from the cackling shithead who greets every murder, economic crisis or political scandal as a glorious vindication of his fucknut worldview is the desire to embrace fucknuttery as a project. The longer people are exposed to this loopy reality, the more we see of the latter.

Ach, Hell - I could've shorterised that ramble by just observing that the godawful state of our politics - bleating about the unemployed after the super-wealthy destroyed the financial universe, for example - is the fault of those who thought they could ride the bigot vote* forever without being thrown into a huge pile of shit. Gordon, Tony - I'm looking at you.

Or, even shorter - blaming right wing lunatics for exploiting our nasty media and our nasty politics is like blaming a dog for licking its balls.

*Troll bait.

I'm Supporting 'Em All The Way To The Semi-Final

With the 2010 World Cup in South Africa almost upon us, it's time to start asking the big question that will obsess the press for weeks.

The England squad have finally found a competent manager, are fielding perhaps their strongest team in years and are in a qualifying group that's only a little tougher than a bye to the knockout stage.

Which prompts the urgent question - Which treacherous Scotch will stab poor England in the back this time?

It's an important issue. Previous years have seen contenders such as walking white-guy afro Andy Murray and former First Minister Jack McConnell traitorously refusing to support Britain's only representatives, or even worse - actively rooting for everyone else.

As a shocked nation was rocked to its very core, article after article splattered our eyeballs with endless, sobbing, self-pitying boo-hoo, fiery fuck-yous over racist indifference or antipathy to the team.

Well, it's World Cup time again and a host of Scottish sports stars, minor celebrities and politicians are steeling themselves to answer the inevitable journo question - Will you be supporting England at the World Cup? Even as I write this, I can almost hear the inevitable I don't really care about football and Probably nots, thus kicking off a firestorm of tabloid fury.

The question is, exactly which Scotsman or woman is going to play Lord Haw-Haw this time? Readers, register your vote for Most Treacherous Scotch in the poll below...