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Dec 242017
 

The behaviour of the US during the last week has been exceptionally dysfunctional and indeed puts it alongside rogue states. For those tuning in late, the US has recently announced that it is moving its embassy to Israel from Tel Aviv to Jerusalem. Now there are all sorts of reasons why this is a dumb move and incredibly provocative in a part of the world that does not need any more provocation.

But here we are looking at the US and the UN rather than the move itself (however dumb it was).

The UN decided to call for a resolution that in effect says “We think this is a dumb move.” and the US reaction has been more or less along the lines of what you would expect a spoiled brat and a bully to react like.

Before the vote, the US spokesperson was grumbling about how its friends shouldn’t countenance such a resolution, that those who receive US aid should be careful, and how dare the UN put forward such a resolution when the US pays for the UN (hint: it doesn’t).

And afterwards, the US announces a party for its friends, and that nobody who voted in favour of the resolution was invited. So there!

Just like a spoiled child.

First of all, organisations like the UN need to be funded or they don’t exist. And the way that the UN is funded is based on every member’s ability to pay except that there is a ceiling on each individual’s level because the US threw a tantrum a while back. The US pays approximately 22% of the UN’s budget, so about $2 billion which is considerably less than the cumulative total of the countries that make up the EU (a roughly comparably sized block) which pays approximately 27% of the budget ($2.5 billion).

And a big chunk of that UN budget is spent within the US because the UN headquarters are in New York.

Frankly some of us are a little tired of hearing the US whinging about how much it pays.

Secondly the UN is there to do lots of things, but one of the most important is to allow countries collectively and formally tell another country that it is doing something dumb – and if a resolution passes with 129 countries voting for it, you can be pretty sure you’ve done something dumb. Sure that you are right despite that many votes against you? That’s a sign of overweening arrogance.

Threatening (“We’ll remember who are friends are”) people to vote in your favour is dangerous in the extreme. People remember bullies and the stench of it remains for a very long time.

Dec 072017
 

Roy Moore is a despicable piece of rancid scum from the surface of a putrid pool, and almost certainly a child sex offender too. There are those who say that he is the victim of some sort of conspiracy and that these accusations are false.

Bullshit! Not only are there the accusers but a considerable amount of supporting evidence that he’s a sexual predator of young girls. And let’s be honest here, Moore is a self-proclaimed politician so of course he’s lying – it’s a surprise when any politician tells the truth. The claims are so credible that his own political party (Republicans) are deserting him; at least the Republicans with more than a gram of self-respect. One has even donated money to his opponent’s campaign!

Yet it appears that people in Alabama are still keen on voting for him. Given the number of available choices – vote for the Democratic candidate (probably something a Republican supporter would find hard), vote for an independent, or not vote at all – it is inexcusable for anyone to vote for Roy Moore.

In fact anyone who does so, has an unusually high toleration of child sex abuse. Enough that they should be suspected of supporting child sex abuse and perhaps should be investigated for it. Or added to the child sex offenders list (in the “supports child sex abuse category”).

Of course it isn’t possible to identify Moore voters (except perhaps from the scrapes on the knuckles), so we’ll simply have to lump everyone from Alabama together and treat them all as suspected supporters of child sex abuse.

Alabama’s new state motto: “Home of the Child Sex Abuser”.

Unless of course sanity returns and the voters in Alabama vote for anybody other than Moore.

Through The Doorway

Nov 292017
 

According to some trustworthy sources, Donald Trump has been caught out re-tweeting three far-right videos by those well known reprobates that make up Britain First. This either makes Trump an imbecile or a member of the far-right; quite possibly both.

For those who don’t know, Britain First is one of those vile groups that shows up on Facebook from time-to-time usually re-posted by a contact who should (at this point) know better. They were well known for producing posts that on the surface seem reasonable until you look closer; until you got to know that Britain First is a bunch of fascists.

So it’s time that the US realised that Trump is an embarrassment and kicked him to the curb.

Nov 252017
 

The last few weeks has seen an explosion in the number of sexual abuse scandals amongst US politicians, and a somewhat bizarre difference in how the two parties treat them. The most serious accusations have been made about a US politician called Roy Moore, a particularly loathsome piece of work (even before the accusations) who is accused of molesting teenagers. Of course he has denied the charges, claiming amongst other things that he has never dated any girls without the permission of the mother (as if that makes a difference).

Now some Republican politicians have reacted appropriately and suggested that Moore should withdraw, but far too many have continued to support him arguing that either the accusers are making it up, or that it doesn’t matter – a child molester is preferable to a Democrat. Donald Trump (himself probably guilty of sexual harassment) has come down in favour of Roy Moore, in effect agreeing with both positions.

Many evangelical religious leaders have also come down in favour of Roy Moore; you might think that religious leaders might demonstrate some level of moral leadership but in this case those who support Roy Moore show they are not entitled to claim any sort of moral leadership.

Other Republicans have pointed to disgraced Democrats who have recently been exposed as guilty of sexual harassment as if that is comparable with child molestation. There are two very clear distinctions; firstly the Democrats have generally resigned their position, have lacked support from within their own party, and lastly whilst sexual harassment is inexcusable, it is hardly comparable to child molestation.

To abuse an analogy, sexual harassment is comparable to holding up a service station with a toy pistol whereas child molestation is a full-on bank robbery where the robbers shoot the security guard dead just for trying to do her job.

It appears from this distance that a sizeable proportion of the Republican party is comprised of self-entitled arseholes who can do no wrong providing they support policies that support the ultra-rich; led by the buffoon Trump.

Nov 252017
 

The scariest predictions of robotics and artificial intelligence reveals a desolate future where almost everyone is unemployed because machines can do it better and faster than people. That will not happen simply because the economy would break down if that were the case – if people are unemployed they are too poor to be efficient consumers.

Of course the most rabid Tories will try to cling to the outdated economic model of capitalism beyond the point of sanity so they will try to bring a great deal of pain.

To give you a flavour of what Artificial Intelligence might bring, they are talking about machines replacing lawyers, solicitors, and barristers; which is not all bad. Legal fees are high enough that most people cannot bring civil suits beyond a point where only the simplest decisions can be made. Imagine a future where a civil suit can be automatically handled by machines battling it out at all levels from the County Court all the say up to the European Court in minutes and at a cost that almost anyone can access.

Of course if you work in the legal system, you might well disagree!

The most obvious way of dealing with a future where nearly everyone is ‘unemployed’ but still needs to be an efficient consumer is to use the basic income idea where everyone gets a reasonable income. The most immediate reaction to this is of course the belief that it is too expensive. Except that some basic maths shows that it is possible: the UK population today is around 65 million, and the UK economy is worth £2 trillion; a simple division shows that we could give everyone £30,000 per year.

Of course that would mean a few less amenities – the NHS, defence spending, etc. So in reality the basic income would be a great deal lower than this, but it is broadly feasible given some rather radical changes.

Does everyone deserve a basic income like this? No, of course not. But this is not about what the worst people in our society deserve, but making sure they function as efficient consumers. And as a bonus, by ensuring everyone has a basic income, you can be sure that nobody slips through the net.

This does not mean the end of jobs and industry, but it will radically change it. Imagine for instance that you do not get a salary, but a share of the profits – instantly the cost of labour is removed allowing a company to compete with low labour cost countries. But if that share is too low, people are likely to sit at home.

And of course work will have to be made worthwhile without (or at least minimising) the annoyances we find at work today. Get in the way of what people work to do, and they will disappear in the direction of somewhere else.

Essentially this is almost returning to pure capitalism – companies are free to get rid of workers at whim, and workers are free to leave at any time. That has always been one of the biggest problems with capitalism – workers are not free to leave work with many things keeping them at a potentially abusive work-place.

Those with more than half a brain will realise that housing costs are a big issue here; and a solution needs to be found or all of the above will only apply to those who get their housing costs for free (i.e. almost nobody). Any potential solution comes in two halves – what to do about those with mortgages and what to do with those who rent.

In the former case, the government can simply pick up mortgage payments when the house ‘owner’ cannot afford them. In return, the government gets a proportionate share of the freehold, so when the house is sold, they get their share back.

For those who rent, the government can also pick up the rent payments for those who cannot afford those payment and can decide what a reasonable rent is. Plus no landlord can kick out a resident for non-payment.

The Bench

Aug 192017
 

The simplistic recitation of what happened in Charlottesville last Friday was that a bunch of fascists organised a protest against the removal of a town statue of Robert E Lee and a counter-protest was organised by anti-fascists. The fascists had a perfect right to peacefully protest (although given their ideology, cringing in their basements in shame would be more appropriate), and the counter-protesters were almost inevitably present – arguably with also a right to be there (peacefully).

The protests turned violent, and on Saturday a fascist drove a car into a crowd of counter-protester killing one, and injuring 19.

Who was to blame? Well before I add my opinion to the pile of opinions out there, let’s take a look at some of the others that have come out since the attack :-

  1. Trump initially sought to blame “all sides”, then went back on his word, and then rolled it forward again. Such decisiveness. But blaming “all sides”? So in other words, the victims of terrorism are to blame as well as the terrorists? You could be generous, and assume that he intended to blame all sides for the general violence, but not to call the attack on anti-fascists terrorism was unforgivable.
  2. Early on, some fascists even tried to claim that the terrorist attack was perpetrated by anti-fascists to blacken the name of fascism. Unfortunately I cannot find a source for this, although I recall it being mentioned (perhaps an entry on the Stormfront site which is currently unavailable to unregistered users). This was a fore-runner of the next part of the “blame game”.
  3. “But BLM/Antifa are terrorists too”. Victim-blaming; even if it were true (I’ll come back to that), the only terrorist attack at Charlottesville was perpetrated by a fascist with anti-fascists as the target. Besides which, the majority of the counter protesters were not members of BLM or Antifa; students, church groups, local residents, hell anyone with half a sense of decency could have been there opposing the fascists.
  4. The deceptive use of the “Alt-Left” label. There is no equivalent of the alt-right on the left; the left have a pretty consistent attitude towards racism. Using the “Alt-Left” label implies that the counter-protesters were members of the lunatic fringe of the left. For a start, whatever you think of the old hard-left (communists and the like), they certainly aren’t new or “alt”in any way. And secondly, many of the counter-protesters were certainly not part of the far left; hell there were probably right-wingers as part of the counter-protesters. I’ve got a low opinion of the mainstream right.

Variations on number 3 above has been common enough online that I have seen it multiple times in my Facebook feed (and elsewhere). Let me emphasise something I mentioned earlier – two wrongs don’t make a right, and there was no BLM/Antifa terrorism at Charlottesville.

Now onto my opinion about who was to blame.

As mentioned before, the only terrorist attack at Charlottesville was carried out by a neo-fascist, and the terrorist attack was the only reason why Charlottesville made a big news story. The counter-protesters were not involved in terrorism.

Now onto the violence. Determining blame here is tricky for several reasons :-

  1. You cannot tell from media reports who was to blame for crowd violence; in particular video footage can be very deceptive especially once it is cut to “sex it up” for the news. When some bozo starts windmilling punches at the fascists, how do we know that he wasn’t hit by a stone thrown by the fascists just before? That could easily be not shown on any video footage. When police forces ask for everyone’s mobile phone video and pictures after a terrorist incident they do so for a reason – they want to see things from as many perspectives as possible.
  2. Reacting with violence to extreme provocation is wrong, but those going out of their way to provoke things are not entirely blameless. Having been on anti-fascist protests myself, I can say that fascists can be extremely intimidating and provoking.

Having said that, there is a school of thought that says that giving a fascist a good kicking is a job well done. Having recently seen a film of what racism seems to inevitably lead to, it is hard to condemn such an attitude :-

Watch that film, and dare say that nazis deserve the protection of the law. At the very least, punching a nazi is no crime. (whatever the law may say).

I have previously used the generic term “fascist” to describe the protesters at Charlottesville, but in reality there was an alphabet soup of right-wing extremists – the KKK, white supremists, neo-nazis, and every other bunch of thugs that are collectively known as “alt-right”. Yes, I said thug. If you scratch the surface of any low-level fascist, you will find a young man who is into violence. What passes for their idiotic ideology is little more than an excuse to justify violence against certain groups.

If you look at listed terrorist attacks in the USA by ideology, 15 attacks have been by left-wing extremists since 1901; 51 have been by right-wing extremists (which excludes lynchings which would bring the figure up into thousands). So which group is the most violent?

Jul 292017
 

There has been a lot of talk about how the USA pulling out of the Paris Climate Accord is stupid in various forms. Stupid enough that many US cities and states are trying to meet their climate accord obligations independently.

But one thing doesn’t appear to have been mentioned: That the USA made a firm commitment to follow the Paris accords, and then broke that agreement. Which makes the US government oath-breakers – an untrustworthy party when it comes to international agreements.

You can make all sorts of excuses for repudiating the Paris Accord – perhaps it wasn’t in the best interests of the US to take part, or that it was unfair to the US in some way.

But fundamentally, the USA made an agreement and then repudiated it. It is now less trustworthy than it was before.

Jun 172017
 

So there has been a disaster at Grenfell Tower; who is responsible?

Ultimately the government :-

  • England requires that all new tower blocks higher than 30m must have sprinkler systems fitted (in Scotland the height limit is 18m). So for some reason new towers are unsafe without sprinkler systems and old towers are safe?
  • Allowing a tower block to be clad in a flammable material which has been linked to previous serious fires and is banned in the US. It’s use in a residential tower block is at best foolish. A government report as far back as 2000 suggested that “We do not believe that it should take a serious fire in which many people are killed before all reasonable steps are taken towards minimising the risks”.
  • The appearance of council tower blocks is more important (after all they’re next door to rich neighbourhoods) than the safety of residents.
  • The government believes that regulation and red tape are an unnecessary burden on business; to put it another way, the government would rather let rich people get richer than stop poor people being incinerated in their own homes.

There will be an enquiry into the fire, and undoubtedly the government will find someone other than themselves to blame.

But don’t forget that the ultimate responsibility for warehousing poor people in fire traps lies with the government.

Jun 172017
 

The election result is in, and the Tories have failed; specifically they failed to increase their majority and indeed no longer constitute a majority. Yet the alternatives have failed too.

The likelihood is that the Tories will form the next government propped up by the reactionary Unionists from Northern Ireland. We can crow over May not getting her increased majority, but she is still in number 10. Which means more years of Tory misrule.

So what went wrong?

Well we could argue that factors such as different attitudes to Brexit, doubt over the Labour leader’s leadership, etc. But there are two big factors.

Firstly the media lies by the Tory press (which seems to be pretty much most of them). Whilst the press is owned by a clique of super-rich Tory supporters, the good news is that the newsprint industry is slowly fading into irrelevance – no doubt helped by their ridiculous bias. And tasteless journalism – the sort of which led to the Sun being boycotted in Liverpool.

Secondly, and perhaps the biggest aspect is that a large segment of the working class has bought into the big Tory lie – that they support the ordinary working family and small businesses. In reality Tories support the super rich with their tax cuts, and don’t give a damn about the working class. The real working class.

Which is not what most people think of when they hear that phrase; it is not just the horned handed agricultural labourer and the worn out factory worker, but it also includes office workers, lawyers, “knowledge workers”, etc. It is everyone who works for a living, Somehow workers in the Tory heartlands are fooled into thinking that the Tories are on their side.

What the Tory alternatives need to do is to persuade these deluded workers that voting Tory helps only the super-rich, and not by painting themselves a fetching shade of blue (as New Labour did).

Jun 042017
 

Before we get onto the hysteria part of this semi-coherent rant, let me emphasise that last night’s attacks were terrible and that having religious nut-jobs (if that is confirmed; whilst it seems probable it could still be a false flag incident) running around attacking ordinary people on a night out is despicable.

But some of the reactions on #LondonBridge were pretty disgusting; whilst some were posting offers to house people stranded because of the attack, others were leaping to conclusions and demanding some actions :-

  • Many including the orange idiot were demanding the travel ban. Which would stop none of the terrorist incidents perpetrated by domestic muslims; and most of these incidents are by domestic muslims. The main outcome of a travel ban would be to alienate those targeted by the ban, and alienation is the first step on the road to radicalisation.
  • Blaming the whole of islam for the terrorism. With the muslim nurses, doctors treating the injured, the muslim taxi-drivers taking people home for free, the muslim shop-keepers opening up and offering food, drink, and a place to stay, there were more acts of kindness by muslims last night than there were acts of terror. Or are you going to blame all christians for christian terrorism?
  • Bizarrely bringing the Paris Accords into this incident.
  • Demanding action without specifying what action. Action is of course taking place each and every day, but terrorism is extremely difficult to stop.

The only mistake muslim made on the twitter last night was to claim that the terrorists were not muslims; that’s the No True Scotsman fallacy. It would be far more effective to claim that these terrorists are muslim heretics (or whatever equivalent term you would prefer).

Whilst the events last night were terrible, it is also important to take them in context – if you were to add up all the deaths and injuries from terrorist incidents they would amount to a small fraction of the deaths caused in London each year by air pollution (estimated at around 9,000 a year). Or to go the other way, one terrorist incident caused perhaps two day’s worth of traffic accidents.

That does not mean we should not take action against potential terrorists, but neither should we over-react and respond with actions that punish the innocent as well as the guilty.

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