Sunday, 10 September 2017

NOTES ON THE EFFECTS OF BIASED DEBATE ON THE JET-LAGGED

I've been quiet on IT the past two weeks, mostly because I returned to the UK and went right into a job voicing highlights of the US Open tennis, which involved working in the middle of night. Hence I have remained effectively jet-lagged for the past two weeks, and formulated coherent thoughts about things (other than the NFL, where I continue to pick all the games for nfluk.com, and am now doing a twice a week --Friday and Monday--betting and general column for Betfair) has proven difficult.

Except when I am provoked, especially on the political side. Hence I've produced a couple of longish moans on facebook, which might be considered curmudgeonly by the cruelly-minded, but which I will share here just to let you know I am still engaged....

HILLARY'S BOOK & THE 'BERNIE BOYS'
The most popular hook for media coverage of Hillary Clinton's book about the 2016 election has been her blaming the loss on Bernie Sanders.Well toast that on the log fire. I posted a link to a November New Yorker article which detailed how actively Bernie campaigned for Clinton; only Bubba and Chelsea were out there more for her. So here was my reaction:

On behalf of Bernie Bros of all genders (and Barack Boys, or don't you remember when she tried that one briefly in 2008, until someone pointed out the ambiguity of using 'boy' in the Bog O context?) can we all now please woMAN up and accept that Hillary deserves at least some of the blame for losing to the most unelectable candidate since Barry Goldwater? Or George Wallace?

Blame Russians, blame a Republican Party whose success relies on disenfranchizing voters, blame Comey, blame Comey again, but it is time to STFU about Sanders. He was out there campaigning while the Perezes and Wasserman Schultzes were hiding from voters they drive away because it's so obvious who they don't give a shit about. And yes, it's true, Bernie walked the walk for Clinton...

TOUGH ON BREXIT AND THE CAUSES OF BREXIT

Then I unluckily caught a few moments of Any Questions on Radio 4, and caught a Brexit 'debate' where the central issues were issues that are non-issues, but no one, on any side mentioned it.  I had caught a few minutes of another edition of it, or Question Time, or Ask Dimbelby or whatever they call it, the previous week. Jacob Rees-Mogg was on, fulfilling the BBC's obligation to the licence payer to give multiple platforms to 'entertaining' right-wingers. One of the audience questions asked, in a joking way, about people having too many children. It was aimed at the fecundity of JRM, but I wonder if it might better have been posed re Richard Dimbelby, being thankful he didn't have six children because then there would have been four fewer jobs for non-Dimbelby presenters on BBC. Anyway, here was my reaction to that fraudulent Brexit con job....

How many times do I have to repeat this? There should be no debate about EU migration. Under Schengen, UK controls EU migration. Any EU citizen unable to show means of support after 3 months can be sent home. BUT the UK is too lazy, like its work force, to enforce a policy which isn't abused on large scale AND the politicians, particularly on the right, don't want to sacrifice their wrapped in union jack Little England xenophobia and appeals to bigotry.

As to the economic advantage for low-paid hard-working British families (TM).  Do you really think British companies will rush to hire British workers at high wages? Is there any single point in history, including the maasive need for wage slaves during Industrial revolution at its peak, when this has EVER happened in GB? Name one. Right, I knew you couldn't. Listening to Dumbelby and panel 'debate' immigration is a painful joke. Are they ignorant? Or do they prefer an ignorant electorate?


Sunday, 3 September 2017

DAVOS SYNDROME: NIALL FERGUSON TWISTS & MARK MARDELL LIMBOS IN COMO

Yesterday on BBC Any Questions, David Dimbelby trotted out the BBC's next Funny Tory PM Hopeful. Not content with having given Boris Johnson a platform, and paying him, at every possible opportunity, the Beeb has now turned to Jacob Rees-Mogg, another Etonian with the shuffle and the stammer who as usual drew chuckles and smiles but no serious challenging from his host. Not even when he stated, with a cloud of persiflage, that the UK had no legal obligation to pay anything to the EU; an echo of Bojo's dare for them to whistle. I was stunned how even his political opponents simply let that one by; one doesn't expect Dimbels to do anything.

But it was funny later when one of the audience asked a question about having many children, clearly a light-hearted attempt to draw more humour from the new Tory clown. I would have liked one panelist to ask a hypothetical to the chair: what if Richard Dimbelby had had, say, eight sons? Would any of the current BBC news presenters actually have jobs?

Then I was listening to BBC's World This Weekend today, Mark Mardell hosting the show from the Ambrosetti Forum, a Davos-like conference sponsored by the major 'consulting' firm on Lake Como. They were concentrating on Michel Barnier saying he was 'warning', not blackmailing, the UK, rather than concentrating on his explanation that the Brits owe money they committed to in 2014 through 2020, and they needed to meet their obligations. Was Rees-Mogg listening? The current Brexit 'debate' is, like the issue and campaign itself, being conducted not for negotiation purposes with the EU, but for party political positioning within the UK, which is why it is doomed. And when it falls apart, as it surely will, the Brexshiteers will rachet up the bellicosity, wrap themselves in Union Jacks, and boast of battling for Britain against Johnny Foreigner.

But more worrying was the programme's last twenty minutes, a calculated symphony of far-right propaganda which segued cleanly from Geert Wilders cheering on the Brexshiteers, to Niall Ferguson (not a huge leap as segues go), who was given a huge chunk of time to proselytize for the far-right with his usual exercise in disingenuousness, to use a polite word.

Asked about Trump, Ferguson built up a clever comparison with John Kennedy. Kennedy, it turned out, was the one with the chaotic presidency who rushed to the brink of war. There were little twists and glib half-truths littered around as character assassination, none of which Mardell challenged, but the essence of the argument was this: Kennedy's mindless aggression nearly launched nuclear war on the planet. Trump, on the other hand, while he signals craziness (remember Kissinger's advice to Nixon, about acting crazy so the Commies won't dare do anything? Forget not that Ferguson is one of Kissinger's hagiographers) is not actually crazy, but in reality being well-served in the serious stuff by advisers like General Mad Dog Mattis and General McMaster. Thus we should watch what they do rather than what Trump says.

Now Ferguson presumably knows full well that during the Cuban Missile Crisis Kennedy had to fight like Ali against Liston to hold off the generals and admirals of the Joint Chiefs, led by Gen. Mad Dog Curtis LeMay, all of whom wanted to launch a pre-emptive nuclear strike against the Soviets. If he doesn't know he can read the transcripts, not only of their meetings with the Presidents, but a revealing transcript of their discussions among themselves. They uniformly excoriated Kennedy for his weakness.

As we know, Kennedy steered us away from the brink, and soon exiled LeMay to NATO where he couldn't cause more trouble. And as we remember, Ferguson is not an historian as much as a propagandist who cloaks his militant far-right world view in the trappings of twisted history. But what was even more spectacularly fraudulent was his conclusion: that he wished, in a way, Trump would be MORE like Kennedy, and send the carriers to Korea. Which made his entire false comparison of the two men meaningless, except as a flashy and hypocritical false equivalency.

Mark Mardell offered no recognition of this. He didn't question any of Ferguson's 'history' of JFK. He didn't notice the oxymoron. He didn't show any awareness of history or current events. He was in Como, lunching with the heavy hitters of world business and their well-paid acolytes, and became yet another victim of Davos Syndrome, a well-fed variation of Stockholm Syndrome which seems to afflict those fronting BBC shows from such resorts especially hard. The canteen at Broadcasting House offers little to match.