Sunday, January 13, 2013

Bigots and the people who give them bylines

Just to start the day off on a completely non-controversial note, I'd just chip on the Burchill Observer article that's starting to light up the Twitterverse.

First off, the article itself. It's the typical careless Jools mish-mash of occasional sling-shot one-liners and tired arguments that Burchill long ago settled in her own mind over a bottle of a good vintage in the Groucho Club. 

The class thing is the only interesting wrinkle in it. She appears to be suggesting that herself, Bindel and Moore are the only ones brave enough to call a spade a spade and a transexual a fugly freakish abomination. Because, you see, they're unhindered by political correctness. Because they're working class. And smart. And brave.

Apart from that, it's the usual shite that Burchill's been churning out for 20 years to keep herself in Woodbines and coke. Lazy, with boredom seeping out of every line and written in the knowledge that there are always enough young, enthusiastic commissioning editors thrilled skinny at getting A Burchill Article  - any Burchill article - that she could list her favourite soups in alphabetical order and still pick up a cheque for it.

As a few people have already pointed out, the more interesting question is why did the Observer/Guardian publish it (impressionable commissioning editors aside). 

It seems to me that the Graun and Observer subscribe to the underlying thesis of Male Original Sin - that badness, or at least the lack of goodness, is written into the very DNA of every man. It's the thinking that every man is a rapist or wife-beater once social conditioning is stripped away and opportunity arises.

By this way of thinking, a transexual isn't a female mind trapped in a male body, hating how they feel and look, but a grotesquerie imperfectly aping female mannerisms and who can never be a real woman.

When you read the stories of young men, teens and even pre-pubescent boys trying to hack off their own penises with scissors and knives in sheer despair at their gender dysphoria, is your reaction that these are people who want to play at drag queens for a day? Or people who find that, by biological quirk, a woman's or girl's mind is residing in a male body? 

Burchill and Bindel, the Guardian and the Observer don't buy this. These are not real women, with a woman's finer instincts and virtues. They're apes in party frocks, fooling no one. They may have lost their penises, but they have lost none of their crassness and coarseness. That's in the bones, not in the boner.

And so we have the perfect anti-transexual shitstorm. Bigots and bullshitters willing to formulate such messages; newspapers dumb enough to give such messages credence and air.

Saturday, October 1, 2011

Buy one, get nineteen billion free

It's interesting to watch where Wall Street puts its money in the American political process. The number one recipient of funding from Wall Street is Scott Brown, the Republican senator who replaced Ted Kennedy in Massachusetts. Forbes called him "Wall Street's Favourite Congressman."

Scott Brown is the senator who has received the most campaign money from the venture capital industry. Scott Brown is number two among all U.S. senators in receiving money from private equity and investment firms. He's also number two in money from the securities and investment industry. His top campaign contributors are FMR Corp., Goldman Sachs, Mass Mutual Life Insurance and Bank of New York Mellon.

But what possible Return On Investment value can tens of millions of dollars to a single senator get you? Surprisingly good value. When the Dodd-Frank Wall Street Reform & Consumer Protection Act was going through, the vote in the Senate was on a knife-edge. It all depended on a handful of swing votes, including, you've guessed it, Scott Brown. Within the bill was a once-off bank levy, to help pay
for regulatory reform.

This was a levy, solely on the biggest financial firms, not to punish them or raise government revenues, but to pay for the new financial regulatory structures that Wall Street itself had made necessary and to clean up the mess of failing financial institutions.

"Fine," said Brown, "I'll vote for the bill, but drop the bank levy."

So they did.

Saving to Wall Street? Nineteen billion dollars.

Onto 2012 and the presidential election. That Wall Street's money is on Mitt Romney is no secret, nor that his previous day job was in private equity, turning a buck
 asset-stripping companies. But what will they get for their money? The number one thing they'll get from it is the repeal of the Dodd-Frank financial regulatory overhaul bill. All of it. All 2,000 pages. He describes it as 'burdensome' to banks. I'm sure it is. That was kinda the point. If you're going to put the American taxpayer on the hook for billions of dollars - and that's what happens every time there's a Wall Street clusterfuck - then it might be an idea to take the wind out of the crazier sails, know who's doing what and proscribing legally what they can't do.

So if a future President Romney has his way...Wall Street is regulated for a few years (2010 - 2012) and then we're back to the kind of pre-Glass-Steagall Act financial wild-westery that's guaranteed to deliver yet another massive financial meltdown sooner rather than later and Wall Street is guaranteed (as long as they remain too big to fail) that the US taxpayer picks up the tab.

It turns out that what money buys you in the American political process is more money.

Thursday, May 12, 2011

Democracy, Thai style

I'm going to make a prediction a few months out from the event - which is always dangerous - but I'd put money on yet another judicial or military coup in Thailand before the summer's out. Prime Minister Abhisit - who went to Eton & Oxford - is in the process of winding up the parliament in advance of an early-ish (it was due in December) election in Thailand.

Here's a fact for you. No parliament in the history of the Thai state has run a full term. The occasional fall through scandal (the Democrat government of the 80s for example for a land zoning rumpus), a few snap elections as we'd get in the UK and more often than not a military coup. 18 so far, if memory serves me right.

Ever since Thaksin tapped into the unstoppable power of the rural vote, his parties (Thai Rak Thai, People's Power Party, Puea Thai) have won every election. The Thai judiciary, gently prompted by the palace, has outlawed the first two iterations, but chances are very much that the next government will have Puea Thai as the main government party again after the election.

So can the palace/judiciary/army just this once accept the will of the Thai electorate? Probably not. Favourite would be a judicial coup - outlawing either the Puea Thai party or its leaders (Thaksin's sister is on the ballot and would be a good bet to lead a Puea Thai administration). This would probably be backed up by a typical Thai state of emergency, which would entail shooting various people in red shirts. So just be careful with your wardrobe colour co-ordinating if you're going there on holiday.

The western powers are only too happy to do business with Thailand as a 'liberal democracy', despite the fact that it's neither liberal nor democratic. It has never let any government stand that the old establishment interests - the monarchy, the military and the judiciary - didn't like.

Sure the army shot a few of its own people last year, but that Abhisit chap seems awfully nice doesn't he? Friends with Boris, you know. What's not to like?

Saturday, December 5, 2009

The Whiffies 2009 - the few, the brave, the crap

Excellence is easy. "Everything in moderation, including moderation". See? A few well-chosen words and everyone's falling over themselves to salute your wit, to admire your perspicacity. With such positive stroking, why wouldn't you go on to churn out more pithy aphorisms and trenchant observations?

But to continue in the face of howls of derision? To persist in the face of near unanimity as to your crapitude? To keep at it when a lesser person would have walked out into the howling virtual wilderness and the cyber snow, never to return?

That, my friends, takes cojones. At the very least, it takes a special kind of stupid.

And with this in mind, we institute the inaugural Whiffies, the very worst of The Guardian's Comment Is Free in 2009. Columnists and columns, commenters and comments, campaigners and politicos who just plain stank the place up.

Worst Contributor
Campbell? Gold? MacShane? You tell us. This award is for consistent awfulness, above and beyond the call of the cheque.

Worst Article
A close fought affair, methinks. It may be the finest fetid flower of a rank columnist or a terrible aberration by an otherwise sane scribbler.

Worst Commenter
Go on. You know you want to. But tell us why.

Worst Comment
Uncalled for. Unconscionable. Ugly.

The Why Oh Why Oh Why? Award
Which article most left you asking 'what was the point of that'?

The Identity Politics Race For Victimhood Award
Fatties? Gingers? Sea kittens?

Least Fertile Field For Debate
I/P? MMGW? Some other collection of capital letters?

The 'Editorial Control? What Editorial Control?' Award
Also known as the Greatest Lapse in CiF judgement this year. What article should never have been written?

The Hatfield-McCoy Inter-Personal Spat Award
BTL-to-ATL hatefest or commenter-on-commenter violence; who's been zooming who, long after both parties have forgotten what the original beef was.

The Max Gogarty Worst BTL Savaging Award
Treatment that shouldn't be meted out anywhere outside of a South American interrogation room. But somehow they deserved it, and you enjoyed it.

And finally...

The Most Glaring Omission Award
What was screaming to be addressed this year on CiF but, for some reason known only to the CiF gods, wasn't.

You can give a nomination in just one or two categories, or call the whole slate. Or add your own. I'm easy. Especially after some cooking sherry. The only rule is: one nomination in each category and if there are honorable mentions to be made in a category, label them as such.

NB: This blog reserves the right to add, withdraw, augment and modify all categories and to chose winners at random due to lack of interest and votes.