Posts Tagged ‘idiocy’

Make complaints to the PCC about sick Jan Moir.

October 16, 2009

I can only assume that I’m unable to get to the Press Complaints Commission website at the moment because it’s crashing under the weight of traffic caused by all decent-minded folk wanting to protest against Jan Moir’s horrendous article in today’s Daily Mail.

Moir – apparently an “award-winning journalist” – speculates over the recent death of Stephen Gately and basically seems to think that he died because he was leading an irresponsible gay lifestyle.    

In a weird argument that surely only a very bigoted or very stupid person would find convincing, she uses the deaths of Stephen Gately and Kevin McGee as evidence of the undesirability of civil partnerships.

Even if one ignores the homophobic aspect of her article, Moir’s insensitivity is astonishing. She appears to be accusing Gately’s mother of lying about the cause of Gately’s death. Gately’s mother insists that her son’s death was caused by fluid on the lungs, the result of a previously undetected heart condition. This view is backed up by the post-mortem, as Moir has to admit (maybe the Daily Mail legal team forced her to insert a reference to this?).

Yet Moir writes:

“Whatever the cause of death is, it is not, by any yardstick, a natural one. Let us be absolutely clear about this. All that has been established so far is that Stephen Gately was not murdered. And I think if we are going to be honest, we would have to admit that the circumstances surrounding his death are more than a little sleazy.”

Disgusting – how does this woman sleep at night? Oh yes, that’s right: in an expensive bed paid for by the scum at the Daily Mail who give Moir money to write this twisted nonsense.

I cannot help but agree with the response of the excellent Enemies of Reason blog: “Someone as decent and ordinary as Gately dies, yet Jan Moir lives. It’s just not fair.”

UPDATE: Another triumph for twitter?


It’s official: Richard Barnbrook of the BNP is a dirty liar.

September 24, 2009

Failed artist, former homoerotic film maker, and BNP London Assembly member Richard Barnbrook has been found guilty of fabricating stories of murders in his constituency and of therefore bringing both the GLA and Barking and Dangenham Council into disrepute. He is to be suspended from the council for a month and to take training in ‘Not fibbing’.

Barnbrook’s apology for accidentally, mistakenly, and ever so unwittingly telling a massive Porkie Pie was guffaw-inducing. He put on a totally OTT act exaggerating his dyslexicness (funny how he has never spoken so slowly or struggled with his words to quite such a painful degree in his Assembly appearances!). He additionally claimed that the sound of loud church bells had confused him and made him start speaking utter shite (how very anti-Christian of him; surely it would have been more in keeping with BNP teachings to blame a rowdy local mosque?).

The BNP are scum. Help take action to spread the word.

Mad Nad rides again – legal edition

September 7, 2009

Apparently Nadine Dorries is going to sue Damian MacBride about the contents of his infamous email in April.

I can very well understand why Nadine might be upset. She says the allegations about her in MacBride’s email are false, and I have no reason to disbelieve her.

But how does this amount to a case that’s worthy of a courtroom?

Both the torts of libel and defamation require publication. I don’t see how the email MacBride sent to Derek Draper meets this criterion: publication, it seems, was specifically avoided. They were sent in a single email to a single recipient.

This is not to say that MacBride and Draper are anything other than a pair of idiots who got what was coming. However, there is something worrying happening in politics when the courts are continually used as an extra chamber in which to carry on essentially political debates. Apart from everything else, it’s a very expensive waste of time.

Or does Nadine think that spinning the MacBride story out for a few more months, to the benefit of the Tories and the detriment of Labour, is worth as much public money as may be wasted in frivilous litigation?

Conservative la-la land: the top seven fictions swollowed by the right

September 2, 2009

It has struck me recently that Conservatives – including even the huggable progressive types we’re apparently blessed with in the UK – have moved on from simply disagreeing on the politics or morals of issues: increasingly, they’re inventing their own reality as well.

This isn’t good for politics. Political opinions are based on your gut instincts about ephemeral, subjective, moral issues – what you think human nature truly is, what you think is moral and what immoral, and how you are willing to prioritize.

Facts, on the other hand, are facts – plain and simple. For sure, what is fact – or what is likely to be factually true, and what is unlikely – can be shrouded in mystery: but it’s important to put your consideration of what is a fact and what isn’t into a separate brain compartment to what’s just, correct and politic.

So, in that vein, here’s my favourite seven weird flat-earther fictions that some conservatives believe. I don’t necessarily mean Tories (although for each I’m sure I could point to Feel free to add your faves in the comments.

  1. Climate Change. This must surely be the biggie. Environmental, man-made climate change has been part of the scientific consensus for decades. In 1990, the UN’s Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change said that carbon emissions were causing the earth’s temperature to rise, and they haven’t changed their minds since. In his excellent book “The Republican War on Science”, Chris Mooney points out that the overwhelming number of scientists writing in peer-reviewed journals support this thesis; the few contrarians emerge with very dubious claims. The right use a variety of tactics to deal with this – they claim either that there is no climate change; or that there is climate change, but that it has natural causes (these range from “solar warming” to undersea hot springs); or that there is some man-made climate change, but that we can’t or shouldn’t stop it; or that it’s simply a myth by whinging jealous lefties who secretly envy people who can afford to drive 4x4s and shop at Waitrose.
  2. Birthers. This struck me as particularly mental when I read it recently – apparently 25% of Americans believe that Barack Obama wasn’t born in the USA (and therefore is ineligible to be President). Never mind that he has produced his birth certificate, or that the Republican Chief Justice was apparently happy to swear him in (twice!) despite knowing the rumours. But guess what? Most of them are Republicans. But it’s not just over there – our very own home-grown right-wing nutjob Donal Blaney flirts with the topic constantly (though he has, to be fair, avoided coming out as a full-on Birther – Mr Blaney is clearly very protective of his credibility).
  3. BNP = Lefties. This one is guaranteed to get me going. I’m not going to rehash all of what I’ve said before, but it’s a laughably simplistic abomination of political history and political philosophy to claim that the BNP are a “leftist” party. It’s not what they think; it’s not what their political forbears believed; and it’s not what lefties (or, indeed, Conservatives!) of the past thought. But obviously, the rightist blogotariat are really onto something by saying that everything “statist” is vile, and that everything vile must be left-wing.
  4. The MMR-Autism link. An odd one I’ll admit, but it’s been a pervasive debate in the Daily Mail for donkey’s years. Why it is such a right-wing hobby horse I have no idea; I’m tempted to say that their sheer hatred of the MMR-autism link sceptics it implies a worrying mistrust of all scientists and the norms of scientific methodology. Melanie Phillips loves to froth at the mouth about it; As the ever-brilliant Ben Goldacre points out, most of what she says is absolute bobbins.
  5. the Laffer Curve. This is obviously in a different category to the scientific and factual items above – economic science being of a very different type – but it’s still in the category of right-wing dumbness. The Laffer Curve posits that if you have a either a 100% or a 0% tax rate you receive £0 in tax – at 0% because no tax is collected, at 100% because nobody would bother to work. It’s a fine (and rather trivial) theory – but conservatives constantly go on as if the rest of its shape is obvious and manifest, and that they know where we are on the curve, and that any tax rise will automatically lead to a fall in government revenue. Well hold on there – where’s the evidence to back up how this theory works in the real world? There isn’t any. Next time you hear it, just shout “cobblers” till they hit you and run away.
  6. Creationism. In fairness, there aren’t nearly as many creationists in the UK as in the US, and they’re not as strongly associated with the organized political right. But it’s still concerning. Look at Conservapedia (from which I have been banned! True stories), if you can stomach it, to see just how messed up this all is. I particularly recommend their page on dinosaurs, which gives serious credence to the idea that dinosaurs and men co-existed on Earth (and that they may not be extinct).
  7. Brit-amore. Chris Grayling says that Britain is “like the Wire“. This is preposterous. Actually, what he said was even more preposterous: he said that Britain has become like the Wire (i.e. that it is now, but wasn’t before). This contradicts every set of statistics on crime – including violent crime – over the past 15 years. As Sadie points out, murder is very easy to define and count, and isn’t subject to the statistical jiggery-pokery Tories love to shout about with crime stats – and it’s gone down year on year. You’re less likely to be murdered in the UK today than at any point since 1980.

Actually, on the last point, there is one place that is The Wire – Warrington. Congratulations to The Wires for their Challenge Cup win on Saturday.

Religion to the rescue

August 12, 2009

Rabbis take to the skies above Israel in an effort to protect the country from swine flu.

On a wing and a prayer.

On a wing and a prayer.

More on idiotic NHS-bashing

August 11, 2009

Encouraged by people like Dan Hannan, it is becoming accepted practice amongst American right-wingers to point to the dangers of setting up a health system in any way similar to the British NHS.

Even apparently serious publications like Investor’s Business Daily are joining in the anti-socialised health care jamboree.

A recent editorial – soberly entitled ‘How House Bill Runs Over Grandma’ – claimed:

“People such as scientist Stephen Hawking wouldn’t have a chance in the U.K., where the National Health Service would say the life of this brilliant man, because of his physical handicaps, is essentially worthless.”

Unfortunately for Investor’s Business Daily Stephen Hawking is both British and a fan of the NHS. As he told the Guardian

“I wouldn’t be here today if it were not for the NHS. I have received a large amount of high-quality treatment without which I would not have survived.”

It seems that the editorial has been changed. It now comes with the following correction:

“This version corrects the original editorial which implied that physicist Stephen Hawking, a professor at the University of Cambridge, did not live in the UK.”

That’s not the whole story though, eh? Not only did the original editorial imply that he isn’t British; it also suggested that the NHS would have wanted to bump him off. A clear lie!

So, dear American cousins, please stop believing any old rubbish about our National Health Service, as there are obviously a number of crude misrepresentations of the NHS circulating your media at the moment.

More unhealthy behaviour in America

August 10, 2009

Kenneth Gladney attended a town hall discussion on health reform last week. He is one of those opposed to reform and ended up getting into a scuffle with trade union stewards outside the event. Gladney (who is black) claims a union activist (also black) racially abused him. He says that he was then brutally beaten by a union mob.

Perhaps unfortunately for Gladney someone was filming his so-called beating at the hands of the dirty reds with their vicious Stalinist plan of expanding health care coverage. Not much seems to have happened; Gladney appears to spend about two seconds on the ground before pulling himself up and walking away. Yet he claims he needed hospital treatment afterwards.

Gladney was quickly presented as a martyr for the anti-reform cause. A protest was organised on Saturday outside the union offices and the mysteriously wheelchair-bound Gladney appeared with his lawyer who gave a tubthumping speech about defending liberty and all that.

Much of Gladney’s story seems pretty unbelievable. Possibly the most shocking revelation, however, comes from a local press report on Saturday’s demonstration. Gladney’s lawyer finished his speech by revealing that Gladney – the new hero of the anti-health care reform movement – is “accepting donations towards his medical expenses. Gladney told reporters he was recently laid off and had no health insurance“.

Who says that Americans don’t understand irony?

Reactionaries are working to prevent health care reforms at all levels

August 7, 2009

The United States is in a ridiculous situation where it spends more of its GDP on health care than any other country but around 45 million Americans have no health coverage. The Obama administration hasn’t yet decided what exactly it will do to try to change this situation, but it is surely obvious to fair-minded people that some sort of improvement must be possible.

Remarkably, there are some Americans who apparently think that the country’s health care system is running at a pareto efficient level where any attempt at reform is going to bring about disaster. Whilst there are indeed serious arguments to be had over whether a more efficient and equitable system will require tax increases (and the politicians must not shy away from these), the sort of populist anti-reform campaign that has emerged is not contributing to sensible political discussion. It is instead pandering to crude fears and prejudices.

healthcareisfascismTake this scene captured in a photograph. It was taken at a protest outside a Town Hall meeting on health care reform. Someone has cleverly (sic) made a sign for their children suggesting that government attempts to reform health care are akin to a fascist takeover.

Then there are the accounts of citizens revealing themselves to be mightily confused about how the present health system works. Anti-reform zealots have been crying out “Keep your government hands off my Medicare!”, apparently wholly ignorant of the fact that Medicare is one of the few examples of government-funded health care provision in the US. 

Many of these anti-reform rants make no sense. Quite literally so in the case of the protesters who deliberately disrupt Town Hall meetings with their incomprehensible yelling (speaking in tongues?). 

Paul Krugman has written a piece in the New York Times on what he calls the Town Hall mobs. As Krugman and others note, anti-reform efforts are being spearheaded by lobbyists, Republican politicians, and right-wing figures in the media but it is undeniable that there is also substantial and very passionate opposition to government intervention in health care at a grassroots level.

I can only hope that campaigning organisations in favour of reform will maintain momentum and that the Obama administration will not capitulate in the face of this reactionary onslaught.

Right-wing nutters and their obsession with birth certificates

July 29, 2009

BIRTHERSOver in the United States there are a number of conservatives of the tin foil hat wearing variety who believe that Barack Obama is not an American citizen and therefore declare his presidency to be illegitimate.

The ‘birthers’ (as they have become known) insist that Obama does not have a proper US birth certificate and that he is instead a citizen of Kenya. The loopiest of the loopiest think that this is all part of a massive conspiracy concocted by dirty foreigners who want to bring down the United States from the inside.

It’s all very silly and very mad. There is an unpleasant racial element to the whole thing as well, of course, with many birthers expressing nativist sentiments and incredulity that a black man could become President of the US without cheating.

Watch Jon Stewart’s take on the birthers – and those in the media and mainstream politics who are irresponsibly encouraging them – here.

Is Tory blogger Donal Blaney a paid-up member of the birther movement? He claims not to be, but still delights in repeating the allegations made against Obama by the lunatic fringes of the American right.

Blaney constantly refers to Obama as America’s “first Kenyan-American president“. He seems to doubt the authenticity of the official account of Obama’s life. For some reason, he also has a weird fixation with Barack Hussein Obama’s middle-name.

Anyway, efforts by reactionary cranks to undermine a democratically elected politician through spreading not-very-wild allegations about the circumstances of their birth are not new.

Ramsay MacDonald (of whom I have posted a few times before!) faced similarly pathetic tactics.

During the First World War MacDonald, then Labour MP for Leicester, became notorious for his steadfast opposition to the conflict and his attempts to negotiate an end to the fighting through the Socialist International. At a time when even the majority of the Labour movement got caught up in pro-war jingoism, MacDonald was one of the few voices questioning the value of sending hundreds of thousands of men to slaughter each other in the trenches.

Unsurprisingly, MacDonald’s anti-war stand incurred the wrath of the populist right-wing press. The journal John Bull wrote:

“We call him traitor, coward, cur. We demand his trial by Court Martial, his condemnation as an aider and abetter of the King’s enemies, and that he be taken to the Tower and shot at dawn.”

Lovely stuff. Best of British. The culmination of John Bull‘s campaign against MacDonald in 1915 was the revelation that – *shock horror* – the name MacDonald went under was slightly different to that recorded on his birth certificate and that his parents were not married:

“For months past – ever since the man who calls himself James Ramsay MacDonald, but whose real name is James McDonald Ramsay, has stood aloof from the almost unanimous response of the nation to the call of the King – we have persistently labelled him as a traitor and a coward; and we have called upon Leicester to rid itself of the stigma of having such a ‘representative’ in Parliament…

…we have remained silent with regard to certain facts which have been in our possession for a long time. First of all, we knew that this man was living under an adopted name – and that he was registerd as James McDonald Ramsay – and that, therefore, he had obtained admission to the House of Commons in false colours, and was probably liable to heavy penalties to have his election declared void.

But to have disclosed this state of things would have imposed upon us a very painful and unsavoury duty. We should have been compelled to produce the man’s birth certificate. And that would have revealed what today we are judtified in revealing…It would have revealed that ‘James Ramsay MacDonald’, MP for Leicester, late ‘leader’ of the Labour Party, late member of a Royal Commission, under the seal of His Majesty, the leading light of the Union of Democratic Control – libeller and slanderer of his country – it would have revealed him as the illegitimate son of a Scotch servant girl!

The journal then printed out a copy of MacDonald’s birth certificate. It was apparently news to him that he had originally been named ‘James McDonald Ramsay’ and he was genuinely shocked by the revelation.

MacDonald’s political career collapsed in the period immediately following the First World War. It seems highly unlikely that the ‘birther’ allegations he faced were as significant in explaining his temporary lack of electoral appeal as the accusations of treachery and allegiance with the Kaiser, but they certainly didn’t help his situation.

I hope Obama has more success in defending himself from today’s swivel-eyed, birth certificate-waving loons!

Council Housing = communism (apparently)

July 10, 2009
Hammersmiths Queen Caroline Estate, where - if Blaney is to be believed - tractor production is up 800%

Hammersmith's Queen Caroline Estate, where - if Blaney is to be believed - tractor production is up 800%

There’s been coverage this week of a row in Hammersmith and Fulham, where the Tory council is tying itself in knots trying to deny its very clear plans for 21st Century Porterism.

As Tory Councillors in London’s wild west try to think up more wheezes and dodges to keep valiant seekers after truth off the scent, it’s refreshing to see that some in the Conservative Party are more refreshingly direct about their views on the complex issue of local authority housing.

Donal Blaney – who is to the Tories what football hooligans are to their chosen teams, and is himself a former Hammersmith and Fulham Councillor and no stranger to social engineering experiments with council housing – reckons that providing affordable and decent rented housing is, you know, evil.

[Local Labour MP Andy] Slaughter, and his ilk, wish to subjugate what they no doubt dismissively call “the working classes” to the might of the state, making them dependent on the state’s largesse so that they lose any last vestige of independence of thought, operation or dignity and so that they can be controlled and bullied by the levers of the left. It is, in essence, an evil creed that even the Cubans are moving away from.

Hmmm. Interesting. Because living in slum landlords’ private rented accomodation – which would be the only other option for most social tenants, with higher rent and far fewer routes to pursue for service improvement – would be such an improving, enlightened move.

Incidentally, if you were in any doubt as to what Cameron’s Militant Tendency are trying to do in Hammersmith and Fulham, you should see the shocking footage taken by local Labour leader Cllr Steve Cowan, who has been doggedly pursuing them to come clean for months.