Archive | October, 2008

Blood on the carpet

30 Oct

Yet more jibbering idiocy over the Jonathan Ross/Russell Brand affair. Lesley Douglas, BBC Radio 2’s Controller, has resigned in the wake of tabloid outrage and hyperbole.

Last night on Newsnight the target of the “joke”, actor Andrew Sachs, said that the matter was pretty much over as the two presenters had apologised. Subsequently Brand has resigned and Ross has been suspended for 3-months by the BBC.

Don’t you just love it? The BBC, as always, has been forced to pull down its trousers and bend over, while the collective tabloid media buggers it silly with its enormous cock of hypocrisy. And yet again our shower of a government has piled in (as did Slippery Dave, but that’s hardly a surprise considering what a predictable populist shitbag he is).

So none of our illustrious leaders thought it wise to caution some measure of restraint in all the hype and chaos? Brown and/or Cameron, both of which were happy to jump on the bandwagon for a few choice quotes, could have risen above the fray and argued for a modicum of common-sense. That, remember, is what leaders are supposed to do.

Brand and Ross are both polemicist comics who push against the line of decency. Occasionally, especially when they’re together – egging each other on and getting carried away, they’ll step over the line.

What they did to Andrew Sachs was out of order. They were offensive while making no cultural or political point. This is where programmes such a South Park differ, they use deeply offensive jokes for real political and social commentary. Ross and Brand were just being twats.

Both Ross and Brand should have been reprimanded and were right to apologise, but the media witch-hunt and the subsequent resignations and suspensions, are nothing more than capitulation as the usual rightwing rags have a pop at the tax-funded BBC (an opportunity they never miss).

In what must be the most baffling example of hypocrisy, Georgina Baillie (Sach’s granddaughter who was at the centre of the scandal) has milked the story for all it’s worth, pleading outrage (after her grandfather had indicated his wish to put the issue to bed) and then discussing her “romps” with Brand with – you guessed it – The Sun.

The whole thing is a crock, and a waste of everyone’s time. It’s shocking that Lesley Douglas has been hounded out of her job because Brand and Ross lost the plot. It’s about time the BBC stood up for itself in the face of ridiculous faux outrage from the rightwing press. If they don’t the jackals will never stop.

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More “Joe the Plumber” BS

30 Oct

The Guardian has news that Sam “Joe the Plumber” Wurzelbacher (who has become a byword for every hard-working American in John McCain’s lexicon) is being courted by a record company, keen to turn him into a country music star.

Jim Della Croce, his PR spokesperson (seriously), has claimed ::

“He is a dynamic speaker and an everyman who has become an overnight celebrity…”

Substitute “everyman” for “Republican plant”, and “overnight celebrity” for “liar”, and he’s just about right.

We’re lovin’ it

30 Oct

Adjacent to a story about scare-mongering food studies…

… a McDonalds burger ad. I’m lovin’ it.

Darling: Give us our cheap petrol

30 Oct

Considering Alistair Darling “controls” the greatest proportion of the cost of fuel, he’s got some nerve to be taking these sort of cheap, populist positions.

Where was the tax relief when the oil prices pummelled working families and businesses over the summer?

Everyone has to do their bit, Mr. Chancellor.

Watchdog not interested in Osborne probe

28 Oct

The BBC is reporting that the Parliamentary Standards Commissioner will not investigate Gideon George Osborne over his dealings with a Russian oligarch.

Following a widely reported series of events that have also landed Peter Mandleson in hot water, the Shadow Chancellor has been fighting for his political life after it was said that he had attempted to solicit a £50,000 donation from billionaire Oleg Deripaska.

Now it seems Osborne will survive. Shame.

Sorry, but is it me or is there something fundamentally smarmy about Osborne? Seriously, I really can’t stand the guy. I don’t want to come across all class-warrior and all that (I’m really not the type), but there is something about him that really gets under my skin. Have you seen the Bullingdon photos?

He reminds me of those people at school who always hung around the big kids and caused trouble.

A paragraph in last week’s Guardian suggests the smug self-importance isn’t just an unfortunate appearance ::

One Osborne tactic which has irritated colleagues is his tendency to send out text messages to junior frontbenchers, often late in the evening, with mildly critical remarks. When the hapless MPs reply they receive no response because Osborne has switched off his phone. The following day he will joke that he meant no harm and that he was sending group texts.

Nice.

Of course truth is that, had Osborne continued to deny the allegations, his old friend Nat Rothschild had enough evidence to “finish” him. It’s pretty clear that Mr. Osborne has been naughty, but the establishment is protecting its own as usual.

But what if Obama does win?

27 Oct

As the McCain-Palin ticket turns in on itself, the media narrative is building towards an Obama win by some margin.

On Sunday’s Meet the Press, an awkward and mumbling John McCain maintained that the polls do not reflect the reality on the ground. He argued that the American people will put their trust in him as the man best equipped to be President on day-one. Of course the Senator from Arizona knows the trouble he’s in, but for appearances sake, he must play up his chances.

But what if the polls can be trusted?

What if, on January 20 2009, The United States of America really does inaugurate Barack Obama as its first African-American President? What can we actually expect from a progressive executive in these difficult times?

America’s economic situation is as dire as it has been for 80-years. An economy that has been in overdrive since the early nineties, powered by an injection of cheap credit, has finally blown a gasket. Americans are finding that credit has dried up.

Millions of Americans are heavily indebted and are finding mortgage repayments impossible. They’re demanding tax cuts, but the federal budget is also drastically in the red and both candidates have promised to work to address it – even though the purse-strings are very much the preserve of Congress. The collective debt of the U.S., oft reported as in excess of $10-trillion dollars, is, including off-balance sheet liabilities, closer to five times as much.

How can a president who promises a capital-intensive Apollo-like energy project, a balanced budget, a strong foreign policy, tax cuts and better healthcare coverage, possibly deliver?

What America needs, as Michael Kinsley argued last week, is a leader who is committed to “telling people what they don’t want to hear and leading them where they don’t want to go.” If America was really going into the recovery position – and things are surely that bad, it would start by telling its citizens that the good times are suspended until further notice. Indeed neither of the candidates are being honest with the American people.

No-one, not even a president who walks on water, can possibly satisfy the huge expectation that the Obama campaign has cultivated. The opportunity for political disillusionment is colossal.

When January comes around the same problems will persist. The national debt will be gargantuan, the military will be overstretched, and millions of Americans will be struggling to make rent and their families without healthcare coverage. Obama will be limited by the realities of office as to what he can do to remedy these issues, especially considering the dire situation he will inherit from President Bush. So there is little doubt that many thousands of progressive activists will be disappointed by the time it takes to create real change. As usual, the left may become it’s own worst enemy and attack its own.

In fact, the left will probably be piling onto an administration already under siege…

The Republicans have had months to prepare for opposition. The rightwing talk-show hacks are already in 5th gear. They will hit Obama hard on day one (politicos will remember Clinton’s wings were clipped even before his inauguration), in an attempt to paralyse his administration.

America’s progressives, who will have given so much to get Obama elected, must be prepared to continue to support him through the inevitable trials of office.

There is only so much an inspirational president can achieve. I hope American progressives are prepared for a slow, long haul. America, surely, deserves it.

The irregular quote of the day II

26 Oct

A double quote of the day today. I just couldn’t let this reader comment from The Times slide. It follows an article about how the Madonna/Guy Ritchie makes for boring copy ::

hell, i’m bored stiff by my OWN divorce. other people’s? no thanks. by definition divorce is tedious and depressing – and it features lawyers. spare us.

but i guess there is a powerful element of schadenfreuder (spl?) at play here so i can see why some might find it a satisfying subject. not me though. yawn

Amen.

I couldn’t care less if the divorce is a scandal-ridden mess or a boringly mutual affair. It’s someone else’s divorce. I really don’t give a flying fuck.

All these vapid stories about celebrities really get on my tits. Really. I don’t care about their style choices and cellulite. These people only exist to divert you from real issues or to sell more shoes.

We probably wont see the end of the world, we’ll be too busy reading Heat magazine.