Archive for the ‘Uncategorized’ Category

Comcast, Verizon et al seemed to threaten ‘Net Neutrality’ every other month of Barack Obama’s tenure, but now that Trumpo has blundered into office, knocking over everything and insulting foes and allies alike with his clown-car diplomacy, of course the jackals are back hovering around the juicy carcass of the internet. What this latest siege against internet freedom teaches us once and for all is that the Republican party, and Neoliberal capitalists in general are hypocritical bullshit artists of the highest order. They talk of the hallowed ‘Free Markets’ which can’t actually exist in a reality consisting of humans with nefarious agendas and governments in the pockets of wannabe monopolists. Then, when an actual free market is created in a virtual world; the Worldwide Web, a market where everyone has equal access to promote their products, ideas and views, the parasitical monopolists oppose it because it does not allow currently successful companies to bribe the ISP gatekeepers restrict access to competitors, while still shamelessly promoting their apparent desired utopia of ‘free markets’! Of course, this is merely a duplication of what currently happens in the physical world, which is a series of imperfect markets which, when loosely regulated, tend towards monopolies and cartel behaviour. Now, confident they have suitably ruined their immediate physical world, they’re seeking to throttle competition in the far-too-egalitarian world of cyberspace, and depressingly, the corrupt moron masquerading as President, along with his cavalcade of sponsored cronies, will probably make it happen.

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‘Suicide Blonde’

Ah. Brexit. The Tory Birthday present with a bomb inside that nobody wants to be left holding when the clock stops ticking. How did we ever get here?

 

Since Thatcher purged her ‘wet’ One Nation cabinet members and dropped her drawers for corporate lobbyists, there has been a growing fringe of hardcore Neoliberals in the Conservative party. Their ultimate goal is what they see is Thatcher’s dream: a state that is no more than custodians of the military and parts of the judiciary. Everything else not only owned and ran by private capital, but hardly regulated at all and paying peppercorn tax at a rate of something close to zero percent. Globalisation moved this dystopian fantasy into view, because it meant easy movement of capital and cheap labour. If they could only remove pesky, burdensome “red tape” like paying workers’ a legal minimum rate or having them work less than 12 hour days, the sun may yet rise on their utopia.

 

The two previous insurmountable barriers to this Randian wet dream were: parliamentary accountability, and the dreaded EU. With the gleeful assistance of Rupert Murdoch and his cronies, the first was mostly neutered with the creation of New Labour. Blair would keep the seat warm and not renovate the façade, so as soon as a financial crash came, the Tories could continue rabidly asset-stripping and moving towards their promised land. 2010 came, and the Neoliberals, who by now had significantly infected all three major political parties, attempted to seize the spoils of crisis. The never-less-than hysterical right-wing press managed to force David Cameron over the line in coalition with the relatively cowed Neoliberal Democrats. The narrative to justify the asset-stripping was as obvious as it was false: the crash was caused by too much public spending and not so much the bankers that supported and financially propped up the Tory party. And of course, this narrative was forced home day after day along with classic divide-and-rule bogeymen: chiefly the right’s old favourite scapegoats of the poor and foreigners. They compressed the complexities of an entire sovereign currency issuing nation’s budgeting into “living within our means”, as if the international markets may at any minute decide to call in our debts by seizing the entire island and repatriating British citizens to Calais.

 

Needless to say, Britons’ general apathy and/or lack of critical thinking capabilities meant that this worked like a charm. Perhaps the biggest success of the Tories’ seven years (so far) of enriching the elites and impoverishing most others was that they simultaneously oversaw the slowest recovery on record, while maintaining an impression of competence with most of the public, but also foisting blame for any adverse side-effects of their warped strategy on two targets: the last Labour administration, and the EU: the hardcore Neoliberals’ nemesis. This proved to be a very misguided strategy for David Cameron, a man so naturally smug with imagined superiority he practically glistened like a plump ham joint basted with privilege.

 

When 2015 rolled into view and things hadn’t demonstrably improved in the economy, Cameron called in master of ad hominem campaigning, Lynton Crosby, who successfully flung enough dung about a Labour-SNP coalition to squeak the shyster back into office, minus his coalition partners. This was actually bad news to Cameron, who had gambled that he would once more be in a coalition with the Lib Dems, absolving him of the obligation to hold the EU referendum. Cameron of course had previous for bombastic hubris, but kept on rolling the dice as he lost the house and car, by deciding Crosby’s tactics of campaigning would be well suited to the ‘remain’ campaign. ‘Project Fear’ generally involved patronising any waverers to death; evoking black rain, locusts and the earth being drowned in a tide of molten metal, rather than attempting to succinctly explain the positive aspects of being within the European Union. It didn’t help that another prominent feature of the now failed campaign was George Osborne’s delirious cocaine smirk.

 

Disaster was predictable: the ‘Leave’ campaign simply used Conservative tactics against them: form a fallacious narrative of blame against a large entity, easy to sloganise on memes and news bulletins and repeat the demonstrable lies endlessly with greater vigour. They had the added benefit of appearing to be the underdog fighting the Establishment (despite having many of the more extreme and unpleasant members of the Establishment in their camp). The result was a new triumph for the kind of aggressive demagoguery that Donald Trump would later utilise in an even more debased strategy of trash-talking anyone who disagreed as if he was a worried boxer at an endless weigh-in, and implying any contradictory evidence to his agenda was filtered through a lens of opposition and couldn’t be trusted (ironically calling out the very real elite bias in the mainstream media, but twisting it to suit his own purpose with a deftness that belies his generally astounding lack of tact or intellect).

 

Cameron of course scuttled away at the first sign of hard work as his historic election victory was immediately forgotten and his name forever associated with the most stupendous act of economic suicide this nation has ever inflicted on itself. We had a few weeks in which we genuinely had to imagine our next leader would be a clown, a goblin or a batty old reactionary. It’s hard to remember just how much of a collective sigh the nation emitted when we discovered it was only to be the failed Home Secretary; a minister with worrying authoritarian instincts who repeatedly failed her own immigration targets, made up stories and bought anti-immigrant vans to whip up her nationalist wing, and seemingly had an obsession with ignoring judicial oversight. Her nickname of ‘submarine’ to indicate she tended to duck under the surface when things got tough, was not analysed in the press at the time.

 

Leaving out the failed press hatchet jobs on Jeremy Corbyn being exposed to the full in the snap election, just what the hell are the government doing right now? We’re a year down the line from Article 50 and still we’re going round the mulberry bush with the “best deal for the country” nonsense. May can’t support or endorse any position without outraging one section of her MPs, and the wider picture is that the Neoliberal hardcore earlier referred to earlier, comprising of people like John Redwood, Iain Duncan-Smith and Jacob Rees-Mogg, see their one glorious opportunity for extricating the UK from any remaining handbrake to their low-tax, low-regulation, rentier’s paradise, and they’re not going to let the opportunity slip. They’d rather take down their own PM (and, potentially, party) than compromise now. If it all goes wrong, they’ll use the press to foist the blame onto Hammond, May and the ‘treacherous remoaners’ no doubt. And, if their dearest wish comes to pass, amid the economic ruin, disgraced minister Liam Fox will be desperately offering up every UK public asset to American venture capitalist parasites. This will be ‘disaster capitalism”s finest hour, if the Brexiteers just play it right. That’s what’s it stake with this fiasco. Be warned, whichever way you voted. The worst will not be the wreckage, but the looters which follow.

I noticed Nick Robinson has recently been writing about the perceived threat to “proper journalism” from the slew of popular left-wing blogs challenging the Establishment perspective on everything from economic orthodoxy to social justice. I genuinely approached his piece with an open mind, but sadly, despite Robinson being one of the more reasonable-minded and less dogmatic BBC reporters, it was simply another tribal piece defending the people and institutions he represents, rather than an honest debate about the reasons that people may not trust the Establishment news narratives. Lots of implications that because bloggers aren’t paid, they can’t be trusted, whereas journalists, who are paid, are therefore more trustworthy by virtue of this, as well as referencing veiled insults implying that people who read these blogs are dripping with confirmation bias.

This wantonly disregards the reasons behind the mass disenchantment with the mainstream media, while lumping in unhinged conspiracy theorists with people genuinely sick of corporate hegemony and its cheerleaders. As Noam Chomsky famously skewered Andrew Marr: “I’m not saying you don’t believe in what you’re saying, I’m saying that if you believed something different, you wouldn’t be sitting there.” Establishment members might have liberal ideas about gay rights and helping the poor, but they will never question or criticise the framework of the status quo, as it would work against theirs and their employer’s interests. This is an unavoidable fact, no matter what Robinson argues. I’m sure he convinces himself that every day he’s out there challenging injustice and fighting the good fight, but the BBC still never really questions military intervention or neoliberal economics, despite their widespread unpopularity with the general public.

The demise of the BBC from a state-funded politically neutral organisation to a lapdog and mouthpiece of the Establishment seems complete when we see Laura Kuenssberg found guilty by the BBC trust of misrepresenting Jeremy Corbyn’s view on the ‘shoot-to-kill’ policy for suspected terrorists. The BBC used to welcome new orthodoxies; now it follows the Establishment line of ‘ridicule, ignore and discredit’.

Journalists don’t realise the general malaise is not entirely in what they broadcast, but what they omit. I’m sure the BBC will argue on Newsnight that it gives air to rhetoric which challenges Establishment thinking, but it’s not good enough to preach to the already curious. They know full well that most people only watch primetime news, and it should ensure it always offers alternative perspectives or contextualisation on soundbites. We’re consistently told we’re in debt, and the BBC leaves the story like this, rather than asking why this is a bad thing: what ultimately would happen in a default situation and how would this occur? How can a sovereign currency issuer go “bankrupt”? How many citizens should suffer before it’s considered too high a cost? Are we going to get any details on the Brexit strategy other than crossing our fingers and blasting jingoism out of the rectum of Dacre and Murdoch’s shitrags?

We’ve just witnessed a seismic event in our national history; I’m fairly certain of that. The Grenfell Tower disaster will be talked about for weeks, and written about for decades. The working classes, who have generally been patronised, written off and demonised by the media and establishment since Thatcher’s day, have a voice again, but only in the aftermath of a delirious nightmare come true.

 

You cannot listen to any of the residents’ stories without welling up with grief or fury at the injustice of this catastrophe. Mothers throwing children from high-rise windows; frantic narrow escapes involving vaulting over piles of corpses; trapped people screaming in desperation as death enveloped them. This must have been as close to a manifestation of Hell as the human mind could conceive.

 

Safe in my family postwar council home, I got up and watched the news footage in genuine astonishment. My first thought, other than horror at the people caught in the nightmare, was the intensity and scale of the inferno. How could a modern building be so consumed so quickly? Even my modest knowledge of fire prevention told me that fires do not spread like that unless there is an accelerant involved; certainly not if there are sprinklers or fire retardant material on every floor. The reports confirm the first response team arrived a mere six minutes after the alarm was raised, and yet the building was absolutely engulfed from the fourth to top floors as it was still being battled, and took hours to bring under control.

 

People disparaging any mention of political decisions (and ideologies) in the context of this horror are disrespecting every victim of this utterly avoidable tragedy. A few things swirled around my mind when the wretched scene had sunk in; was this another case of neglect from private companies cutting corners on safety in tower blocks not meant for affluent residents? Subsequent reports heavily imply that recent refurbishment seemed to concentrate more on making the outside of the building more pleasing to the eye of the wealthy denizens across the way, than ensuring every floor had basic fire prevention and safety measures implemented. It was also revealed that a resident group’s previous warnings were ignored. Perhaps some zealous ministers will think twice about using their favoured “bonfire of red tape” idiom from now on, for this is ‘deregulation culture’ writ large.

 

The disgusting irony of that phrase in this context also brings to mind former London Mayor Boris Johnson’s decision to close numerous London fire stations, as well as telling a critic of this policy to “get stuffed” in his own trademark infantile manner. Boris himself is of course renowned for blowing over £320k on water cannons that were later declared illegal and had to be sold unused; the notion that water jets should be used to protect citizens from the worst effects of devastating conflagrations apparently less desirable than using them to potentially blind protestors to the corpulent gibbon.

 

Neoliberalism should have been laid to rest in 2008, when the inevitable culmination of its ideology in the finance sector saw it bring the world economy to its knees. But then Cameron and his coalition of chaos decided to apply defibrillation, and its zombie version rose to begin cannibalising the few aspects of the system that could be seen as remotely positive. Jeremy Corbyn’s success in the snap election has cast a shadow over its immediate future, but this disaster should be the last rites for this sickening cult of individualism, corporate greed and abdication of state responsibility to its people.

 

So, after endless rehashing of 1983’s “longest suicide note in history” in the press, we now have the “stupidest manifesto in history” from the press’s darlings. I have only ever been alive during the ‘neoliberal’ period, but in all that time, the Conservative manifesto 2017 is definitely the most dimwitted piece of rubbish ever presented by one of the two parties capable of forming a government, and must surely finally dispel that nonsensical myth that the Tories are always the slickest political operators.

 

Everywhere we look in the manifesto there are notions that sound like they were pitched at closing time in the Dog & Duck, and never reflected on again. Whether it’s taking away lunches from poor school kids or regurgitating failed policies on immigration and deficit reduction again and again like that arrogant idiot on the school football team who has the first touch of a tractor yet still insists the team wouldn’t lose every week if they just got the ball to him more, its delusional ineptitude is only matched by its malice. On what planet did the Conservatives think it would be sensible to sanction the state snatching people’s homes to pay for private care? Technically of course, they don’t actually have to give away the whole home, they get to keep £100k of the equity. Which is relatively fine if you live in Rochdale, not so good if you live in Dagenham. And who regulates the care home fees? Isn’t this just another ‘name your price’ outsourcing racket that the Conservatives seem to be so fond of? And that’s before we start getting into the rumours that banks are already creating new ‘financial products’ for this new ‘investment opportunity’. We truly have reached ‘peak Capitalism’, when businesses are scavenging for assets on corpses that haven’t died yet.

 

Not only is this social care policy cruel, but it targets the Conservatives’ core demograph of voters: the elderly with property. One thing never changes with Tory policies: there are no progressive scales, it’s just an arbitrary figure plucked out of their backsides and applied across the board, in rich and poor areas, to rich and poor people. It also throws up injustice when you realise that those who may have had life relatively easy and squandered their money will be cared for free of charge, while those who slogged away and sacrificed to own their home, will be deprived of it should nature’s unforgiving lottery deem their senescence to be more profound.

 

Of course, this hamfisted policy also demonstrates the cognitive dissonance within the Tory party. They are so obsessed with privatising everything not nailed down and deregulating their precious markets, they cannot fathom a scenario where care is actually state-provided rather than run as a private income stream, and we all contribute a little more to ameliorate nature’s random selection of genetic misfortune. Sounds a little like the NHS principles, which will explain the Tories’ desperation to sell that off before they’re booted out of office.

 

Back to the immigration pledge, which has been derided by anti-Tory groups, pro-Tory groups, cabinet ministers, big business, small business…in fact it’s easier to list those supporting the pledge: UKIP. Even someone with limited knowledge of macroeconomics would realise that a country so dependant on immigrants for so long is not going to be able to change this without radical reform of their economic structure. Companies that could pluck fully-trained EU nationals at a few weeks notice are not going to be too happy being told that they are going to be charged a large amount for each foreign worker, or train a British worker so they can do the job in 3 months time.

 

“Ensure foreign ownership of companies controlling important infrastructure does not undermine British security or essential services” – How about by not flogging off this infrastructure in the first place? If they acknowledge that there is a risk to British security, then the Tory party are admitting that their policies have threatened national security!

Of course it’s also worth mentioning one of the most utterly thoughtless policies floated: to allow up to a year’s unpaid leave caring for a loved one. Apparently no considerations of how many people could afford to take a year without pay (particularly since they are classified as employed so are not entitled to benefits), nor how many businesses could afford to keep a position open but unfilled for an entire year. I haven’t seen any confirmation of what condition loved ones have to be in before this would be permitted, nor how close a relative they would have to be.

It’s just line after line of uncosted nonsense that would be laughed out of a student politics debate, and this is where we’ve come. Where the governing party is so far ahead in ‘the polls’ that they think they can afford to offer up any old shit and have the turkeys trampling each other to get to the Christmas oven.

Sometimes I do wonder whether I’m in some kind of paranoid coma fantasy that I can’t wake up from.

 

If you’d have explained that a party that had been in power for seven years as the majority in parliament had overseen anaemic growth across the economy and a ballooning national debt, and their message was essentially: “Blame everyone else, we’re the only option. We haven’t fixed it yet, but give us another term and we’ll try to fix it by then”; then explained that they were on course for a landslide General Election victory on the back of insulting and antagonising officials of an organisation we are about to leave and desperately need a good deal out of, I’d have scoffed.

 

Even with our appalling anti-intellectual media, surely our population could not be cheerleading the biggest act of economic suicide in a generation, and getting excited at the prospect of the organisation we need a good deal from telling us to fuck off, because we don’t really need those bloody foreigners telling us what to do and we’re going to resurrect the Empire, only with less bloodshed and slavery. The famed magical money tree of the Commonwealth only needs its ripe fruits plucked by the mighty hands of Blighty, and there will be peace and prosperity for all. No more immigration; and shiny unicorns for all in this Brave New Britannia. Nothing can go wrong as long as we TRUST THERESA MAY; the tabloid loudhalers screech at us.

 

Theresa May, who has done a remarkable volte-face from “Brexit isn’t a good idea” to “Brexit is the only idea to make Britain great again”, also has a husband who seems to have done remarkably well financially out of her Brexit decisions thus far, and has misled parliament on the misfire of our nuclear defence system, but our eager media is far too busy splashing headline over headline on whether Corbyn would ever find a reason to (get America’s permission to) use said anachronism. It’s got to the point where it sounds like when you were at school and used to wind each other up with hypothetical scenarios. “What if a dragon was at Buckingham Palace and about to eat the Queen; would you use Trident then?”; “What if Putin annexed Surrey and drew a hammer and sickle on the Union Jack at Westminster? Then surely you’d use Trident, right?”

 

I had to pinch myself when I heard the Prime Minister talking about launching a FIRST STRIKE nuclear attack as if it was some kind of computer game. On what planet is a nation’s leader boasting of unleashing an unprovoked holocaust across the world a positive thing that we should nod to and respect? This is brinkmanship for the braindead. Listen to what she’s saying, it’s Kim Jong-Un-esque. She would wipe out millions of civilians and poison the earth for generations, and presumably the target nation would also be nuclear-armed (Russia is normally the go-to bogeyman), so she is basically telling us all that she would happily sign all of our death warrants on a whim. HOORAY! ALL HAIL OUR GLORIOUS LEADER WHO WILL BLESS AND KEEP US FOR EVERMORE.

 

We mock America for Trump, but we are well down the road to our own Trump. Right now it is an inevitability. Trump became possible because American partisan politics became more and more debased and devoid of intellectual rigour that the dumbasses became orators. Suddenly, battles for policies and visions became battle to defame and whip up hysteria. A baseless and racist slur became an actual mainstream campaign to call into question Barack Obama’s citizenship credentials. Evangelicals would throw God into everything: all emotion and no logic. The ‘Tea Party’ movement formed from a bunch of slow-witted malcontents to an actual influential pressure group with arms in government.

 

How does this reflect the UK’s situation? It’s the ad-hominem trash talking and the general infantilisation of political discourse. We don’t hear reasoned critiques of policies any more: it’s just character smears, implied negative associations, false narratives and ‘Back to the 1970s’ tropes. The fact that Corbyn’s proposed manifesto is hugely popular, but many people won’t consider voting for him, based on the media onslaught and constantly repeated narrative of ‘weak leadership’ and erroneous ‘hard-left’ labels thrown around like particularly sticky mud.

 

How gullible are we to vote back in a party whose leader doesn’t respect her ‘people’ enough to actually meet and talk to them? Who refuses to debate with Corbyn unless it’s in a sanitised House of Commons where the toffs bray along to her rubbish and scripted jibes are practically auto-cued for her. Who repeats two phrases endlessly like a malfunctioning child’s toy? Where is the vision? Where are the ideas? If we fall for this shit and return the Tories to office, we will have our own Trump eventually, because the population are responding to demagoguery with relish. If Farage joined the Tories and became leader, he would be PM at the first time of asking, I have no doubt.

 

I’m not sure how we go about resetting this ignorance of expert opinion, academic backing or actual policy justifications when all the money (and the voting system) is on the side of those who will hold practically untrammelled power for the foreseeable future. When we get our British Trump, will any right-leaning voters realise things have gone too far? Probably not, as no parallels in history are ever reviewed. We are Great Britain, free to make our own mess way in the world again, and you’d better not provoke us, because we have strong and stable fingers on the holocaust button whenever Dacre gives the word.