Tag Archives: James Delingpole

Let’s Talk About: Milo Yiannopoulos

The British Right have always been a pretty mean-spirited bunch. Not content with grabbing all they can for themselves and their pals, they’re bullies to a man (and woman). The new crop of right-wingers are even worse that the old-timers. Constantly hiding behind phrases like ‘free speech’, they believe that they should be able to express nasty, misogynistic, racist and homophobic views without being challenged. For them, the idea of free speech is “I say what I like and you shut the fuck up”. The Cat has been dealing with people like these since he began blogging in 2010. Most of them are the products of poor parenting, while others are simply bullies having learnt to exploit those weaker or different to themselves while attending their posh boarding schools. It’s in their DNA, you see.

I was reading this blog by Kate Smurthwaite on the New Internationalist website in which she describes the relentless trolling and bullying by men who still haven’t managed to grow up. One of these men is Milo Yiannopolous, a self-styled web entrepreneur who has been implicated in the so-called #GamerGate controversy.

Smurthwaite has received 1,700 abusive tweets, some of which threaten rape and others that wish her dead. Call me old-fashioned, but I wouldn’t wish someone dead on Twitter because I disagree with them or dislike them. I can’t stand George Osborne and I call him a liar, but I don’t wish him dead – even though his government’s policies (which read like they were formulated after a massive cocaine binge) have been responsible for numerous deaths. Here’s what Milo Minderbinder tweeted.

milo minderbinder

The Cat has never taken kindly to bullies. They deserve his utmost contempt. “Bullies” as my mum used to tell me “are cowards”. Minderbinder is no different. In fact, he’s worse. He hides behind a keyboard, popping out occasionally to appear on programmes like BBC3’s Free Speech,  in which he wriggles in his seat, throws his head from side to side and refuses to make eye contact with fellow guests, while spewing vitriol on any subject put before him. He is especially nasty when it comes to women’s rights and anti-racism.

It comes as no surprise to The Cat that Minderbinder’s pal, James Delingpole, has also been involved in GamerGate. Delingtroll is the British editor of Breitbart, a right-wing news site that’s based in the United States. Like Minderbinder, Delingtroll hates anyone who’s tolerant but he especially hates feminists, Greens and left-wingers, who are referred to variously as ‘feminazis’, ‘libtards’ or ‘leftards’ (It’s a portmanteau of left/liberal and retard. Geddit?), and tends to label anyone who protests against fascists and racists as “liberal fascists”. Inverted logic or what? Minderbinder also writes for Breitbart, where he specialises in anti-feminist attack pieces like this one.  If you think that’s bad, try his opinion piece on the spree-killer, Elliot Rodger, who killed women at random because he was apparently knocked back.

Minderbinder wrote:

Anxieties about those of other sexes, sexual orientations and races are often crudely labeled “Right-wing” by snobbish metropolitan newspapers.

So, not only is this article a thinly-veiled anti-feminist attack piece, it also piles on the drama and the paranoia. It gets worse too.

So it is the games we should look to for insight into his condition. It’s understandable that after a tragedy those left should seek answers–and depressingly predictable that the feminist Left should seize on his manifesto as further ammunition for their insatiable, misandristic war of attrition.

“Misandristic”? Come again? The response of men, who have neither love for women nor sympathy for feminism, is to claim that feminists are “man-hating”. It’s lazy and simplistic. It’s also anti-intellectual. Minderbinder, who failed to finish his university courses at Manchester and Cambridge, appears to have landed on his feet, thus proving that the spoilt, rich scions of Britain’s grande-bourgeoisie don’t have to work hard academically, because they know they will have an easy life. They either inherit great wealth or they get a job with daddy’s firm. Whatever happens to them, they know that they will never have to draw the dole. The vain and conceited Minderbinder is one of them.

I haven’t named Yiannopoulos (formerly Milo Wagner), “Milo Minderbinder” for nothing. Those of you who have read Joseph Heller’s Catch-22 or seen the film, will recall that the character Milo Minderbinder is a war profiteer; the satirical representation of unbridled capitalism. The real Milo Minderbinder isn’t interested in anyone but himself. Yiannopoulos is similar… only more conceited.

Minderbinder’s early venture into the web was an online publication called The Kernel.  He ended up being sued by the Employment Tribunal for not paying his contributors. It also appears that he’s good at making enemies. The Kernel was forced to close and was bought out by another company. This is from The Guardian.

Yiannopoulos’s acidic approach to many of the companies featured in the Kernel has made a number of enemies in the London startup scene, some of whom have contacted the Guardian privately to complain about what they saw as negative coverage. “They’re afraid to say so in public,” Steve Karmeinsky of NetTek told the Guardian. “He’s got a mouthpiece that he can’t be fired.

There’s more…

On 18 July he had a very public spat on Twitter with the blogger Zoe Margolis, author of The Girl With A One Track Mind books. That evening she complained on Twitter about a piece he had written for the Kernel about women in technology,tweeting that “someone needs to point out what a sexist, misogynistic prick [Yiannopoulos] is”.

I am pointing out what a sexist and misogynist prick he is and I wish more would do the same. Here’s some more.

From the end of 2010 he ran a project called the Startup 100 for the Daily Telegraph, but only three sponsors were secured to cover the costs of the awards ceremony in April 2011, and there was a row in May 2011 when Mike Butcher of TechCrunch said that he had given his casting vote for the winner to short-term loan company Wonga rather than the company that was awarded the prize, Spotify.

The fallout from the awards is understood to have left the Telegraph nursing a loss running into tens of thousands of pounds. Wrong Agency, Yiannopoulos’s company which he used to run the event, was dissolved in May 2011.

He’s a spiv and people like him  are often called ‘wealth-creators’ and ‘entrepreneurs’ by this government. Mind you, Grant Shapps is Tory party chairman, so there you go.

Minderbinder used to call himself “Milo Wagner”. The Cat doesn’t know if that’s his real name or whether he chose the surname because of his love of Wagnerian operas. One thing I do know is that he has a fetish for Iron Crosses. He’s also a self-loathing gay.  This is taken from his website.

You probably don’t agree. But I think we can all agree that, unless you live in the cosseted bubble of a liberal metropolis, the reality of growing up gay for most people is a horribly lonely, miserable experience. (If you don’t know, take it from me: it is.)Is being homosexual “wrong”? Something somewhere inside of me says Yes.

Later in the piece, he erroneously claims that the struggle for gay rights “has been won”. Someone should tell UKIP and the majority of the Tory Party that.

But the battle for gay rights has been won. All these preening poofs in public life do is make life more difficult for regular young gay people by reinforcing the stereotypes about gay behaviour: reminding a struggling child’s myopic dad that queers are uppity, in-your-face, camp-as-tits faggots who’ll rape you as soon as look at you.

Self-loathing, damned self-loathing. It turns out that he also hates lesbians.

Charming.
Here’s Minderbinder defending Farage and arguing against Equality laws.  He claims that the “straight white guy is losing out”, because of such legislation. Playing the victim is so undignified, but it’s only to be expected of people who enjoy positions of privilege by dint of the circumstances of their birth. For them, inequality is ‘natural’ and should be reinforced.
His replies are typical of so-called ‘classical liberals”, who believe that racism begins and ends at a person’s skin.

The question The Cat would like to ask is “Why is Minderbinder given so much air time”? He is no more qualified than you or I to comment on politics or anything else.

Here he is smirking and trolling the women in the The Big Questions audience on 15 March.

He appears at around 18.00 on this clip.

In today’s blog for Breitbart, he defends his anti-intellectualism, misogyny and misanthropy. It was clearly written in reply to Kate Smurthwaite’s article. Here’s a taster:

Critical theory
Horseshit

Death threats
Mean tweets

Dominant culture
The stuff people actually like. Not to be confused with taxpayer-funded lesbian performance art, which would surely break all Box Office records if only more people got to see it

Equality
Used to mean giving everyone a fair chance; now means enforcing 50-50 quotas in jobs women don’t want to do in order to punish men for being good at maths and physics

Feminism
Misandry masquerading as a fight against oppression and prejudice on the basis of sex; what unattractive men and women do to get attention

This is a man who hasn’t grown up but this is also a man who clearly hates women. I know nothing of his early life, save for his Wikipedia entry. However, from what I’ve seen of him so far, Minderbinder shouldn’t be allowed outdoors without a chaperone.

The British sense of ‘fair play’ is a myth. Just look at Minderbinder, Delingtroll and the Tory Party if you don’t believe me.

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Telegraph Comment of the Week (#27)

The severe weather that’s been affecting the British Isles for the last few weeks has provided a stark reminder that climate change is here and it is real. Climate change sceptics or ‘deniers’, as they are sometimes called, respond with the usual mush about how fossil fuels aren’t a contributory factor to the change in climate and how we should all learn to love breathing heavily polluted air. The ‘deniers’ are a scientifically-challenged bunch, who pretend to know more about science than they actually do. Lord Nigel Lawson is one such fellow. Lawson possesses no scientific qualifications… unless you count his degree in PPE, which includes the dismal science of economics but aside from that, he’s no scientist. He is, however, working on behalf of the very industries that are responsible for pollution and he loves to frack.

Climate change sceptics are an odd bunch. Take Brendan ‘Eddie Munster’ O’Neill, a man who takes a contradictory position on almost anything. Today he takes the side of the petrochemical industries over peer-reviewed scientific research. In a blog titled “Are you now or have you ever been a climate change sceptic”?

Eddie takes over from where his erstwhile stablemate, James ‘Norma Desmond’ Delingpole (who left Telegraph blogs this week),by accusing the Green Party’s Natalie Bennett of “McCarthyism” because she said in a BBC interview that “every senior adviser who refuses to accept the scientific consensus on climate change shouldn’t be in their posts”. Fair enough. Would you have a creationist in charge of teaching evolutionary theory? Well, no you wouldn’t. Therefore, it makes perfectly good sense to exclude any adviser whose views are ideologically opposed to climate change.

Eddie can’t see this. He groans:

Perhaps we should ask every aspiring civil servant, “Are you now or have you ever been a climate-change sceptic?” The Green Party’s proposal shows how authoritarian and intolerant environmentalist politics has become, so that everyone who raises awkward questions about the climate-change consensus is branded a “denier” (a term borrowed from the Inquisition) and anyone who fails to conform to the right way of thinking on climate-change issues will swiftly find themselves accused not just of being wrong, but of being immoral and even dangerous – the Green Party says senior government advisers who refute the green consensus are “endanger[ing] our future and our children’s future”.

This is paranoid stuff from Eddie and he knows just what his readers want, so he lays it on some more.

When a party can so casually call for the sacking of political advisers who do not accept a particular outlook, a particular consensus, then it’s pretty clear that party has lost any attachment to the age-old ideals of free thought, free speech and the rights of conscience. The Greens are demanding nothing less than a purge of eco-heathens and political undesirables from public life. And in the process they have revealed their true instincts, which are to demonise their opponents rather than debate them, censor stuff they don’t like rather than challenge it, and, like a secular version of yesteryear’s pointy-hatted enforcers of Biblical correctness, brand as beyond the pale anyone who doesn’t accept the gospel of greenness.

Notice how he continues the religious theme in this final paragraph.  The Greens are “demanding purges” and they “demonise their opponents”. Not that O’Neill ever demonizes anyone. Oh no. Not our Eddie. Parties call for sackings all the time but in O’Neill’s eyes, the Greens are a special case and his readers agree with him. This week’s comment was provided by someone calling themselves “bluepeter”.

bluedickheadNotice how this one immediately ties the idea of climate change to “wealth re-distribution”. Yeah, wealth redistribution is bad, it’s kind of like communism for “bluepeter”.  What I find curious about this comment is the way the author seems so certain of the merit of his bad arguments. “It’s not a debate the believers wish to have because they know they will lose” (my italics). The climate change sceptics believe that anyone who supports (the correct word for those who accept the scientific position) the idea of climate change are the same as members of a religious cult – as Eddie had done earlier with his Inquisition references. Not that the ‘deniers’ attitudes aren’t cult-like or the their unwavering belief in bankrupt economic theories borders on blind faith. Please, spare me the hysterics.

“Bluepeter” closes by suggesting the Greens, climate change scientists or anyone else who doesn’t agree with him are “fascists” adding  they, “silence the opposition”. Which is kind of funny when you think about it,  because that’s what today’s fascists (who tend to refer to themselves variously as ‘nationalists’ or ‘libertarians’ these days) accuse anti-fascists of doing when they oppose fascists on our streets. I even had someone suggest to me that trade unions who went on strike were ‘fascists’. Fascism and Nazism were both opposed to trade unions. Who says irony is dead?

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Telegraph Comment of the Week (#22)

If it’s one thing the Right loves to do it’s to claim that it’s philosophically and epistemologically superior to the Left. Yet its constant rewriting of history actually demonstrates the opposite. In recent years, many on the Right have claimed that the Nazis are ‘left-wing’. Why? Because they can’t cope with the idea that the Nazis (and fascists) occupy a space further along from them on the political Right. They do this for two reasons: first, to smear the Left and second, to claim a tenuous moral superiority over them. The Nazis are ‘socialists’ they will exclaim because the word ‘socialist’ appears in their name. There can be no more a feeble rationalization. For example, the Australian Liberal Party, in spite of its name, is not a centre left party but a right-wing party. If you tell them that, they start hurling insults. Names count for nothing but try telling them that.

This week’s comment was found on a Delingtroll blog, which makes the same tired claims about how Nazis aren’t really right-wing. In this blog, he attempts to create a space between Nigel Farage and the Front National’s Marine Le Pen but ends up making himself look foolish and ignorant in the process. No mean feat for Delingpole or Dan Hannan, who is cited in this hilarious piece.

To lump together fascist parties (Golden Dawn in Greece, Ataka in Bulgaria, Jobbik in Hungary, the BNP) with bellicose but essentially constitutional anti-immigration movements (FN in France, PVV in the Netherlands, Freedom Party in Austria) is clumsy. To add in eurosceptic parties of the democratic right (AfD in Germany, Mouvement pour la France, Danish People’s Party, Ukip) is deliberately tendentious.

When someone groups all these parties together under the label ‘extreme right’, he is telling you more about himself than about them. Parties like Golden Dawn are not right-wing in any recognisable sense. They favour workers’ councils, higher spending, state-controlled industries; they march on May Day under red flags. They could just as easily sit at either end of the European Parliament’s hemicycle (our closest equivalent, in its combination of mystical nationalism and loathing for capitalism, is Sinn Féin). Calling such parties right-wing isn’t intended to make anyone think less of them; it’s intended to damage mainstream conservatives by implying that the difference between them and the Nazis is one of degree.

Hannan’s article for The Spectator Dictator is desperate as well as intellectually dishonest. UKIP have, through Godfrey Bloom, established friendly relations with Le Pen’s FN. Moreover, the FN recently met with Geert Wilders PVV with the intention of forming an electoral pact in the European Parliament. There’s nothing ‘clumsy’ about those connections. They are real.

The above quote is preceded by a characteristic whinge from Delingtroll:

Yet our lazy and parti-pris media – even many newspapers notionally on the right-wing side of the debate – continue to do the liberal-left’s dirty work for it by labelling any party with instincts which are nationalistic, anti-immigration, or anti-EU as belonging to the “far-right” – and therefore automatically beyond the pale of reasoned political discourse. The loons of the green-left, on the other hand, get a more or less free pass to spout their anti-democratic drivel at will.

The nationalism that is expressed by the likes of the PVV or the other parties mentioned here, belongs on the far-right. There can be no question about it. Furthermore, there is nothing ‘reasoned’ or reasonable about the shrill paranoia that dominates the Right’s anti-immigration discourses. Words like ‘floods’ and ‘tides’ are constantly used alongside exaggerations like ‘mass immigration’ which is itself a euphemization of the phrase ‘floods of immigrants’. These words are often joined by hygiene metaphors like ‘contamination’.

Now to this week’s comment. This one comes from ‘eufreedom’. Yeah, I laughed at that name too.

euignorance

The key to this comment is “ALL British born” and in spite of “eufreedom’s” claims that no distinctions will be made according to colour, creed and denomination, questions are invariably asked by such parties regarding one’s right to claim national identity – particularly if they look different. Kippers often claim that they are “neither right nor left” but given their nationalism and obsession with difference, this is evidently dishonest. ‘eufreedom’ also takes umbrage with the fact that people disagree with his/her drivel and pronounces them “neo-fascist-marxist-EU drones and trolls”. This comment may look like a self-parody of a Kipper, but this is how they really think and talk.

For more hilarity, have a look at Toby Young’s feeble attempt to unite the Tories and UKIP under the “Country before Party” banner. 

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What’s the deal with fracking?

I was listening to the Today programme and they were discussing fracking and how Gid had lifted the moratorium on explorations for shale gas.

Some see fracking as the answer to our energy needs and point to the United States where it has resulted in cut price gas. But the US is possibly one of the worst examples to use as a defence, because of the reported cases of water pollution. In this country, fracking has caused 2 minor earthquakes in the Blackpool area.

The likes of Delingpole love the idea of fracking but then, he gets moist at the thought of left-wing activists being tortured to death by goons who can barely read and write. Such is the short-sighted nature of the frackers that they would put the health of millions of people at risk for a short-term, possibly negligible gain.

Defenders of the current capitalist system love to tell us how it is the only system that inspires innovation and rewards risks. I say that’s bullshit: the current capitalist system ignores the health and well-being of the people by its relentless pursuit of profit at all costs. Innovation can happen without this form of capitalism. Then there’s the capitalist’s short-sightedness that blinds them to the long term consequences of their actions. They prefer to make money quickly and let someone else clean up the mess, while denying they had anything to do with whatever catastrophe they’ve caused. That’s because the love of money means you never have to say you’re sorry.

Here’s an animation.

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The Wisconsin recall election or “Things go better with Koch”

The right will be feeling vindicated after Wisconsin Governor, Scott Walker won his recall election by 53%. The right on this side of the Atlantic will be feeling similarly smug in their belief in the power of laissez-faire capitalism. The people have decided that Walker was right, they’ll tell us. Now he can carry on slashing like Freddy Kruger on crank,  safe in the knowledge that he has a mandate from 53% of the electorate.

But something is rotten in the state of Wisconsin. There’s a lot of money sloshing around and it comes from out of the state. Much of it comes from hyper-rich right-wing donors like the Koch Brothers. But to read the Torygraph, you’d think that none of that mattered. For these people, all of whom are fully signed-up members to the Cult of the Invisible Hand, this was a sign. A sign of Romney’s impending victory in November. The cultists are even doing their victory jigs as I write this. I found this Media Matters article which puts things into perspective. I will quote a snippet here,

Right-wing media are arguing that Wisconsin governor Scott Walker’s victory in the Wisconsin recall election was a victory for the grassroots over unions and progressives. But, due to Citizens United and a loophole in Wisconsin campaign finance laws, the progressive message was swamped by conservative special interest money.

Did you see the way he used the word “grassroots”? Yes, so did I.  It’s utterly meaningless within the context of this story and I will come back to that later.

Yesterday, 5 Torygraph bloggers chipped in with their congratulations. This blog from James “I don’t read peer-reviewed research” Delingpole is rather typical. He opens with,

From my poolside in Puglia I was going to do you an amusing post about The Archers…

Oh? Why didn’t you then?

That’s because I want instead to draw your attention to two important stories from the US which, I suspect, will have far greater impact on the world than even Nigel Pargeter’s murder (by politically correct BBC harridans) ever did. I refer to Governor Scott Walker’s victory in Wisconsin  and an equally important but perhaps less well-publicised victory won in the Alabama house and senate over the UN’s malign and insidious Agenda 21.

He never misses an opportunity to tell us that the BBC is “politically correct” or “left-wing”. The guy’s a loon. Then he says,

Walker’s victory has been thoroughly and expertly analysed by my estimable colleague Tim Stanley. For the benefit of those readers who a) find US politics remote, weird or dull and/or b) think Walker was one of the Brothers responsible for The Sun Ain’t Gonna Shine Any More before going a bit weird on his solo albums, I’d just like to reiterate that this is a story of significance to all of us.

What wit. I think the less time I spend on Delingtroll’s blog, the better. So I had a look at “estimable” Tim Stanley’s blog.  Stanley is described as “Pat Buchanan’s biographer”. Is that really something to boast about?

Stanley’s gripping headline reads “As the Wisconsin Tea Party gives Obama a bloody nose, Bill Clinton stabs him in the back”. Hyperbole and junk. Let’s read on,

Tuesday night saw a double whammy rejection of Obamanomics – once by the voters and once by former President Bill Clinton. Given a choice, the people of Wisconsin took Republican fiscalism over Democratic populism in a recall vote that let Tea Party favourite Scott Walker keep his state’s governorship. Incredibly, Bill Clinton – the man the White House sent to represent the President during the election – compounded the result by admitting that the country was in a recession and by urging Congress to extend the Bush tax cuts. That makes him the most senior liberal in the nation to cast doubt on Obama’s economic strategy. The people of Wisconsin are trending towards Romneynomics in 2012. So too, it would seem, is Hillary Clinton’s husband.

Stanley fails to grasp one essential: Walker had amassed a huge war chest of $18m since he took office. Herr Doktor also seems to think that the people of Wisconsin are happy to have their collective throat cut to ‘save’ the economy. It’s absurd.  Many voters weren’t happy with the recall vote in the first place, believing it to be unnecessary. The Doctor takes care not to mention this wee factlet. Stanley doesn’t mention the out-of-state donors who contributed $ millions on smear campaigns and outright emotional blackmail. Instead, he says,

But when you factor in the huge amount of Leftwing fervour pouring into the state, the usual rumours of Democratic fraud (turnout in one district was projected to be 119 percent) and the fact that this isn’t a solid Republican state like Alabama, and the tally starts to look healthy. Crucially, the administration’s class war language failed to mobilise a majority in a state that went strongly for Obama in 2008.

It’s a common charge on the part of the right in the US and in this country, to allege that their opponents are guilty of electoral fraud. If one smear doesn’t work, then try another and maybe it will stick. Stanley also seems to think, like so many of his fellow travellers, that Wisconsin is going to swing it for Romney come November’s election.

But did Clinton really “stab” Obama in the back?

So campaigning in Wisconsin was left to Bill Clinton, who is fast becoming a fixture of the 2012 campaign. Apparently paid appearances at the opening of an envelope are down this year.

I have looked over and over at Stanley’s blog and nowhere does he elucidate on this point. Instead he tells us,

The problem is that while Wisconsin was fought between local personalities, it was over issues with national salience. In the last 18 months, Wisconsin has been a laboratory for both Tea Party economic revanchism and the Democratic Party’s fight back. Walker’s platform is pure conservatism: he defunded the unions, slashed public sector spending, cut business and property taxes, and his accountants project a balanced budget. The economic outcome has been mixed: a perplexing blend of low unemployment and persistent job loss.

Pure praise-song. I can only imagine what his biography of Pat Buchanan reads like. He continues,

On the other hand, everything the local Democrats did in response has been echoed by the message of the Obama 2012 campaign. Special interest groups and unions were mobilised, women were reminded of the Republican war on reproductive rights, and class solidarity was constantly invoked. Barrett vs Walker looked a lot like Obama vs Romney.

Notice how he refers to “special interest groups” in relation to the Democratic challenger. It’s as if to say that the Republicans are free of such interests. Nothing could be further from the truth. But the truth isn’t something that bothers Stanley. Unions are bad. Women are bad. Class solidarity is bad.  Never mind that Clinton is gaffe-prone and his presidency shored up neoliberalism by offering massive tax cuts for the wealthy. Stanley, like so many right-wing critics of Obama, rely on codewords to express their unsavoury, but nonetheless, hidden discourses: Obama is “incompetent”, an “amateur”; “he doesn’t know how to run the economy”. Tell me this Doc, which president in the postwar history of the US has run the economy in the way you would like to see it? Stupid question, really. But Reagan actually increased the national debt as well as the deficit. Oops!

Stanley believes, like his stablemates, that Walker’s survival spells the end of Obama’s time in the White House. If that’s what he thinks, then perhaps he should read this article from the Christian Science Monitor. I shall quote a little here,

President Obama got some good news in the Wisconsin recall election, even as the Democrats failed to oust Republican Gov. Scott Walker: The president polled ahead of Mitt Romney by a wide margin – 51 percent to 44 percent, according to the exit poll conducted by Edison Research.

The recall election was a colossal mistake on the part of Wisconsin Democrats, who thought that this would make Walker disappear.  It didn’t. Instead, he’s been given a free hand to do as he wants. But the right in this country and in the US are fooling themselves that this is some sort of precursor to the main event. Wisconsin has voted for the Democrat candidate in every presidential election since 1988.

The right-wing media have been quick to point out that this was a grassroots victory. But they are deluding themselves and lying to the voting public. The ‘grassroots’ the US right often refers to is top-down rather than the other way around. Therefore real victor in the recall election was money. The money of special interests and corporate America.  The kind of money that buys votes. Stanley and Delingpole are too dumb or too dishonest to see this. Are you surprised? No, neither am I.

By the way, I’m not an Obama fan. In my mind, he’s another mad bomber like the presidents before him.

UPDATE: 7/6/12 @1736

Doc Stanley has spat out this postscript to his earlier blog. Here’s an excerpt.

You have to admire the optimism of the American Left. After Republican Scott Walker pulled off a sizeable victory in the crucial Wisconsin recall, they came out with a counter narrative that would shame Baron von Munchausen. Not only was Wisconsin not about Obama, but defeat actually makes him stronger. As Lawrence O’Donnell put it on MSNBC, “Tonight, the really big winner in the Wisconsin recall election is … Barack Obama.” What will O’Donnell say if Romney wins in November? “Tonight, the really big winner in the presidential election is … Barack Obama.” Because it’s the taking part that counts.

Exactly, the operative word here is “if” Romney wins and he won’t. It seems to me that Herr Doktor hasn’t seen the polls.

 

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Why do Tories think that we will accept reports that have not been based on research?

The Tories are fond of writing reports but few are based on any form of research. Moreover, the lack of research points to a deep-seated hatred of anything that bears even the slightest resemblance to evidence.  Even when they do conduct research, it is so compromised that they need not have bothered (have a look at some of the Centre for Social Justice’s ‘research’ if you don’t believe me). Such disregard for the intellectual rigours of research and producing evidence in the form of data is nothing less than a form of anti-intellectualism.

In the last week we’ve had the Beecroft Report, which was not only written by a venture capitalist and donor to the Conservative Party, it was produced without a single shred of evidence.  In 2009, right-wing think-tank Localis produced a report titled “The Principles for Social Housing Reform”. Written by  Stephen Greenhalgh and John Moss, the darlings of Tory local government,  they asserted that “social housing is welfare housing”. Looking through their report, one thing was noticeably absent: research. Yet this ‘report’ and the Beecroft Report are held up by the Tories as some form of unassailable truth. This is a logical fallacy (argumentum ad verecundiam).

I can tell you  that as a PhD student, if I were to make the similar assertions about my field of study without conducting any research or any providing any evidence to support my assertions, I would be told, in no uncertain terms, that my report was flawed and that I would have to go away and come back with some hard facts. Not for out Tory friends it seems.

The reasons why Tories think that their reports don’t require research or evidence that has been derived from empirical study is because they are arrogant and intellectually bankrupt. I often think the reason why James Delingpole regularly dismisses empirical evidence out of hand is because it conflicts with his weird belief that pollution is good for us. Jokes aside, this attitude is rooted firmly in the way in which this country has been governed since time immemorial. Parliament was once the preserve of the aristocracy. Even after the Reform Acts, the House of Commons has remained persistently upper middle class and semi-aristocratic save for the years between 1920 and 1989. The Conservative Party believes that it is the natural party of government and its place as a governing party is divinely ordained. Therefore should anyone demand proof, they are met with abuse.  To demand evidence is to question the existence of God Himself.

Like the Localis report, the Beecroft Report is predicated on one thing: class hatred. Beecroft is an unreconstructed Social Darwinist. As a venture (for that read “rentier”) capitalist, he produces nothing. Yet he feels that he has some kind of authority to produce a report that has no findings whatsoever. You can read his report here.

Yesterday,  the Business Secretary, Vince Cable, made a few noises about the report. Beecroft labelled him a “socialist”. This tells us something else: the right are not interested in debates or discussions and would much prefer to hurl insults at anyone who dares to criticise them (have a look at the comments left on this blog if you don’t believe me). Of course Cable is no socialist; he’s a market liberal who has one or two social impulses. He was once a member of the SDP. So he’s hardly a Trot.

The Tories have never liked employment laws and this is demonstrated by their desire to tear up legislation that protects workers from dangerous or unsanitary conditions. The Tories were also implacably opposed to the National Minimum Wage (NMW), some have even demanded that the NMW be scrapped for workers who are under the age of 25.

The Beecroft Report whose author claims it is a strategy to improve economic performance and reduce unemployment has produced a report so full of class prejudice that he should be clapped in irons and dragged by a donkey through the city streets, while the people pelt him with ordure.

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Filed under Conservative Party, Government & politics, Society & culture, workers rights

Lies, damned lies and austerity: how consent is being manufactured for cuts and caps

We have been told how there is “massive public support” for benefit caps and on the rare occasion a newsreader interviews someone who is against cuts, whoever he or she may be,  will be hectored and bullied by the interviewer. Anti-austerity commentators will always be asked the same loaded questions about cuts. “You realize that there is a need for cuts” and “The country has no money to pay for x, y and z” are two of the most overused  questions in the mainstream media’s lexicon. The disabled and benefit claimants are in the government’s line of fire,  for it is they who have now been accused of ruining the economy along with the “bloated” public sector.

In 1988, Noam Chomsky and Edward Herman put their heads together and wrote the highly influential Manufacturing Consent: The Political Economy of the Mass Media.  The right hate it. Not because it was co-written by Chomsky – they hate him too – but because it kicks a massive hole in their thesis that we live in a “free society” that has a “free press”, where all of us enjoy “free speech”.

The basis of Chomsky and Herman’s argument is that there is a propanganda model to which all corporate-owned media adheres. The four identifying features (filters) of the propaganda model are as follows:

  1. Ownership of the medium
  2. Medium’s funding sources
  3. Sourcing
  4. Flak
  5. Anti-communist ideology

With regard to 5, we can replace this with the more useful “ideological” in order to cover all forms of dissent from the government line. If we use the BBC as our exemplar, then the model is fleshed out as follows.

  1. Ownership: owned by the state in what is euphemistically referred to as an “arm’s length relationship”.
  2. Funding: the license payer and to some extent the state.
  3. Sourcing: ‘news’ often comes from government, corporate or City press briefings, press releases and so forth. A great deal of information is taken from pro-free market think tanks. Self-styled economic ‘experts’ like Ruth Lea or David Buik are brought into the studio to attack any dissenting point of view or to give ‘expert’ analysis.
  4. Flak: attacks on any voice that is not consistent with the government line. Viewers emails are aired to give an impression of consent. Example: “Major Payne of Tunbridge Wells emailed us to say, your guest was just as bad as the scroungers. I’d put them into forced labour camps”.
  5. Ideological: opposed to any alternative point of view on the economic crisis by spouting the government line and using government phraseology to rebut those points of view.

Examples of pro-austerity broadcasting includes programmes as Saints and Scroungers.

The BBC explains the show’s ‘mission’,

Dominic Littlewood follows fraud officers as they bust the benefits thieves stealing millions of pounds every year, while charities and councils track down people who actually deserve government help

Dominic Littlewood: the people’s champion.

Saints and Scroungers gives the impression that benefit fraud is widespread. Littlewood’s hard man voiceover adds drama to the footage.

This video gives a taste of the programme

Programmes like Saints and Scroungers  and Panorama insert the notion in the public mind that ‘your’ taxes are being used to support villains and parasites, some of whom own yachts and Bentleys.  The impression is often given by these programmes that every person on benefits is a potential criminal. The numbers of people wrongly claiming benefits is often exaggerated and there are some people who are reluctant to claim any form of benefit for fear of being accused of ‘scrounging’.

But the BBC isn’t alone in this assault on the poor or the disabled. The press, as we know, are guilty of this too.  In Thursday’s Sun, Rod Liddle claimed that “disability” was “fashionable” and told his readers that it was his “New Years resolution” to fake disability, citing ME and fibromyalgia  as those conditions that he’d most like to have.

Here’s an image of the article.

Delingpole defended him on Telegraph blogs with an article titled “The fake disabled are crippling our economy”. This is not only inaccurate; it is a part of an ongoing attempt to scapegoat the disabled.  The suggestion being made by Liddle and Delingpole is that all disabled claimants are cheating the system. They, of course, deny this and their legion of defenders respond by saying, “They’re only attacking the cheats”. The simple truth is that attacks on disabled people have increased sharply over the last few years, helped in no small part by a potent mix of negative news stories of ‘scroungers’ and ‘cheats‘ and government rhetoric.

Using scapegoats to deflect attention away from the real causes of the economic crisis is typical for a government of millionaires who are eager to present themselves as ‘caring’ and in touch. The real causes of the recession are never dealt with and are blamed on a variety of things from the disabled and unemployed to the Euro. Everything and everyone else is accused of “destroying” the economy but the real villain: free-market capitalism. This is a form of sociopathy; the lies, the deception, the bullying, the charm and the desire to dominate others are all characteristics exhibited by this Tory-led regime. However, Labour aren’t entirely blameless. The Blair and Brown governments were committed to reducing the numbers of people claiming Incapacity Benefit and forcing those people into work – whether they were capable of working or not. The press produced story after story of benefit ‘cheats’ who were caught scamming the system. The phrase  “sick note culture” had entered the popular vocabulary.

When this Tory-led government came to power in 2010, George Osborne made the bold claim that benefit fraud was costing the country £5 billion a year and evoked the magic words “costing the hardworking taxpayer”.  Peter Oborne wrote:

However that figure is not true. I have now been onto the Treasury and it is clear that the real figure for fraud in the benefits system is £1.5 billion a year, or less than one third of the sum which Osborne claimed in his spending statement. It is true that there were benefit overpayments of some £5.2 billion in the last financial year (2009/10) but the majority of these according to HMRC figures were error rather than fraud.

Even Citywire admitted that tax evasion cost the Exchequer more than benefit fraud:

At £30 billion per year, fraud in the UK is more than twice as high as thought, with tax evasion costing the public purse over £15 billion per year and benefit fraud just over £1 billion.

Aside from attacks on the disabled and the poor, the government has also insisted that Britain is “running record levels of debt” and that debt, it insists, will be passed on to “future generations”. The question that they and their partners-in-crime repeatedly ask is “Is it fair to saddle our children with this generation’s debt”? But this is a loaded question that is not based on fact rather, it is based on the notion that government finances and domestic finances operate in the same way. This fallacy is repeated by a number of people who accept the government’s position without question. In a recent interview on BBC News on an entirely unrelated issue (High Speed 2), the actor Geoffrey Palmer repeated, almost line for line, the government’s austerity message. “The country’s broke”, he said, adding that “we can’t afford it (HS2)”. If the country is broke, then it is unlikely to be able to raise money on the international bond markets, which it continues to do. Furthermore, it would be unable to continue the costly and disastrous war in Afghanistan, which cost Britain in excess of £20 billion in 2010.

The government and their media allies continues  to demonize and scapegoat the most vulnerable people in society. On last Thursday’s Question Time, Melanie Phillips repeated the topsy-turvy logic of the LM Network that the “bankers are being scapegoated”. This is what passes for morality in the eyes of those who take part in BBC Radio 4’s The Moral Maze, where those who comment on morality have no qualifications in the subject on which they pontificate – none of them are moral philosophers nor would it appear that any of them have as much as an undergraduate degree in philosophy.

The government hates the very thought of opposing points of view and we can see this in the way they will control discourse by accusing those who are anti-austerity of being “deficit deniers”, which is a phrase that is redolent of “Holocaust Denial”.  The Morning Star explains:

But unfortunately the word racist – like nazi or even Holocaust denier – is so emotive, connotes such horrible things and is so insulting that it can intimidate people into silence and shut down reasoned debate, much like deficit denier.

The Labour Party has fallen into the trap of not wanting to be seen as “deficit deniers”, which has brought them closer and closer to the government’s position on cuts. So much for meaningful and effective opposition to this government then. The phrase “deficit denier” is based on a logical fallacy.  It is a connotation fallacy; an appeal to insult – the classic ad hominem.  Unable to fashion a logical and coherent argument for their austerity measures, government ministers concoct insults to silence their critics.

I’ve said it before and I’ll say it again, this government is philosophically bankrupt and must resort to bullying and outright lies to convince the public of the need for austerity, but it wouldn’t be able to do this without the media’s fawning complicity.

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Filed under Bad philosophy, Media, Neoliberalism, propaganda, Television, Tory press