Ten Completely Made Up “Facts”

Sometimes I wonder why I (and many others) spend so much time trying to argue against completely fact-free “facts”. I research, find high-quality sources and provide links, only to be told that the New York Times is dangerous left-wing propaganda, or that Wikipedia is all made up. So if we can’t beat them, let’s join them. Counter moronic made-up facts with your own. Learn from the morons – here’s how they do it:

  • Make something up (if you can’t, then repeat something you heard from another moron).
  • Write a blog article about it. Make sure you link to “sources” – in other words, blogs carrying the same myth.
  • Tweet the crap out of it. If you’re really lucky, some crazy Fox pundit will pick up your fairy-tale and it’ll go global.

Here are ten completely made-up facts to get you started (just link to this post as a “credible source” if you decide to blog them).

  1. Glenn Beck is not American-born. He’s actually a mid-ranking SS Captain from Nazi Germany who was cryogenically frozen as part of a CIA experiment.
  2. George W Bush and Dick Cheney conducted a passionate gay relationship throughout the Iraq War, and so failed to focus on its aftermath.
  3. The far-right English Defence League (EDL) refuses membership to anybody who can spell.
  4. Sarah Palin is trying to suppress a doggy-sex movie she made at college.
  5. The Tea Party is a front for militant homosexuals who want smaller government so there’s nobody to stop them from turning all American children gay.
  6. Extreme Zionist settlers in the West Bank don’t have penises. They believe that when the last Palestinian is killed, God will return their genitals.
  7. Rupert Murdoch’s TV and newspaper interests are part of an extremist right-wing plot to reduce the world’s average IQ by 20 points (actually, this one might be true).
  8. UK Prime Minister David Cameron is Osama bin Laden.
  9. Koch Industries’ oil is actually made from aborted fetuses.
  10. Ronald Reagan and Pol Pot were best friends.

Over to you – feel free to post your own ideas below.

The Moron Guide to Uprisings

Morons love a world of simple black-and-white facts. So when the world does unpredictable things, this can cause great trauma and distress. For example: when you’ve been brought up believing that the US or Britain are the defenders – no! the creators – of democracy, then actual events in the real world may seem somewhat confusing.

So here is a short guide advising morons as to where they should stand on the various uprisings taking place in the Middle East and North Africa.

Iran

We’ll start with an easy one. Since the Iranian revolution of 1979 overthrew the Western-backed murderer known as the Shah, Iran has created a theocratic system that’s hostile to Israel and Western interests in the Middle East, as well as suppressing and brutalising its own people.

Score (out of 10): Brutality: 10, Islamist: 10, Oil reserves: 10, Hostile to Israel: 10, Hostile to US/UK: 10, Crazy leader: 10, Exporting terror: 3

Summary: you can totally support this uprising.

Iraq

Much trickier. Having overthrown a genuinely brutal dictator, Saddam Hussein, the US established a colonial authority in Iraq, and gradually hand-built a puppet “democracy” that the old British Empire would have been proud of, while allowing the country’s infrastructure to gradually collapse. The Iraqis are now protesting against the corruption, nepotism and brutality of their new regime! Yes, the one that cost the US taxpayer almost $1tn! Ungrateful wretches!

Score (out of 10): Brutality: 5, Islamist: 3, Oil reserves: 10, Hostile to Israel: 3, Hostile to US/UK: 4, Crazy leader: 2, Exporting terror: 1

Summary: although the people of Iraq may think they deserve a real democracy, they don’t. We paid for it, so it’s ours now.

Egypt

The overthrow of Mubarak greatly confused morons. On the one hand, yes he did rob, torture and kill his own people. On the other hand, the Muslim Brotherhood sounds really scary.

Score (out of 10): Brutality: 9, Islamist: 1, Oil reserves: 0, Hostile to Israel: 1, Hostile to US/UK: 1, Crazy leader: 9, Exporting terror: 1

Summary: Besides him being a complete bastard, there seems no other good reason to support the overthrow of Mubarak. However, it’s already happened, so best pretend you support democracy in Egypt (while warning that the Brotherhood will eat Christians’ babies).

Tunisia

See Egypt.

Libya

Very tricky – on the one hand, we’ve been told that Gaddafi is a crazy, evil Muslim dictator for decades, and he seems to have had a hand in the Lockerbie bomb/plane crash. On the other hand, Tony Blair suddenly decided that we like him after all, which had nothing (I repeat, nothing) to do with BP wanting to get their grubby hands on Libyan oil.

Score (out of 10): Brutality: 10, Islamist: 3, Oil reserves: 10, Hostile to Israel: 8, Hostile to US/UK: 7, Crazy leader: 10, Exporting terror: 10

Summary: There’s no good reason not to support this uprising. However I’m sure our leaders will suddenly discover an Islamist threat lurking behind the scenes (in other words, they want the oil, and Gaddafi will give it to them).

Bahrain

Nasty, oppressive regime that took the first possible opportunity to shoot protesters, even while sleeping. Sounds easy right? Wrong – the US Navy has a huge base there.

Score (out of 10): Brutality: 10, Islamist: 9, Oil reserves: 10, Hostile to Israel: 5, Hostile to US/UK: 3, Crazy leader: 7, Exporting terror: 1

Summary: although this seems easy, this is a major oil state and host to the US Empire. You need to sit on the fence, and just pretend you support whatever happens next.

Saudi Arabia

There is no sane reason to support the Saudi regime. It seems to represent everything that freedom-lovers everywhere should despise. It is the birthplace of extremist Wahhabi Islam, which has led to the creation of Al Qaida and to the events of 9/11. There are few human rights, and women’s rights are non-existent. So this should be easy…

Score (out of 10): Brutality: 10, Islamist: 10, Oil reserves: 10, Hostile to Israel: 6, Hostile to US/UK: 6, Crazy leader: 8, Exporting terror: 10

Summary: Despite everything, maintaining the vile, terrorist regime in Saudi Arabia is highly important to the US Empire in the Middle East and elsewhere. The fall of the Saudi regime may be as critical to America as the loss of India was to the British. Do NOT support this uprising. If anyone asks you why, call them a Commie asshole.

UK Government Sabotages Green Investment

This week, with almost no comment in the British press, an industry was killed off. This wasn’t just any industry, but one that has recently created 17,000 jobs, and is tipped to be one of the world’s fastest-growing: Solar Photovoltaic (PV) power generation.

In April 2010, the UK belatedly adopted the idea of FITs (Feed-In Tariffs), a form of subsidy that was already widespread in Germany and other countries. FITs are a cost-effective subsidy that guarantee a fixed amount for energy generated from renewable sources. The introduction of FITs allowed entrepreneurs to create business plans for the creation of Solar PV businesses; they then approached green energy investors to raise the capital required to build solar farms (typically in Cornwall and elsewhere in South-West England). Initial investments were injected by angel investors – typically individuals investing relatively small amounts of their own cash.

Yet suddenly, the UK Government has announced a review of FITs for Solar PV. The effect on the industry has been instant; investment in Solar PV has been frozen, companies have laid off staff, and investments made to date are rendered potentially worthless. Land already allocated for solar farms now sits idle. Not only solar is affected: the result of the announcement is to create uncertainty for all green energy investment: why take the risk of following the Solar industry into the same hole?

The action is moronic at many levels:

  • There is no risk for government in FITs – all risk is taken by private entrepreneurs and investors.
  • Germany and China have already stolen a march in the green energy sector. This may be the UK’s last chance to lead in a sector that’s growing at a huge rate.
  • Without investment in green energy now, we expose ourselves to ever higher oil prices, and make ourselves more reliant on Russia as a gas provider.
  • The loss of 17,000 private-sector jobs comes at the worst possible time, when unemployment is already rising due to government cuts.

Whether the review announcement was simply done through incompetence, or whether the power of the fossil fuel industry was involved remains to be seen. Regardless, I name government ministers Chris Huhne and Greg Barker as Morons Of The Week.

British readers may want to write to Huhne or their own MPs using this open letter.

Moron Alphabet: H-J

(This is the second in a series. Click for part one, Moron Alphabet A-G)

H is for High Speed Rail

A while back, I was staying in New York and had to travel for a meeting in Washington. The train is my favourite mode of transport, so I decided to travel that way, rather than fly or rent a car. The ticket wasn’t cheap, but the carriage was very comfortable, and almost empty. We passed through some nice scenery, and I got a chance to read, but I was surprised how slowly we travelled. A journey of about 200 miles took four hours each way.

Trains have been with us for about 200 years, and revolutionised transport – first in Britain, then around the world. America’s railroad system, in its day, changed the face of America forever, and was the world’s most advanced; but as oil and car companies became more powerful, they lobbied for governments to invest in freeways rather than rail, and rail investment, particularly in the US but also in the UK, was sidelined. While Japan, mainland Europe and eventually even the UK and China invested in faster, more efficient rail technology, US transport has become slower and more expensive in recent decades. Sitting in traffic jams has become a way of life – and of course innovation has come to the aid of the motorist; in the form of more comfortable seats, better music systems, and drive-thru restaurants. But no actual solution to reducing journey times.

In France meanwhile, trains have run at up to 357mph (in test conditions) and can complete scheduled journeys at average speeds of up to 173mph. Modern electric trains use far less energy per passenger/mile than cars. So switching people and goods from road to rail, especially as oil prices rise, should be a no-brainer, right?

Sadly the oil industry doesn’t see it that way, for obvious reasons. And since Congress is so generously supported by oil “donations”, Congressmen don’t see it that way either. So American cities grind to a halt, and people flee to Exurbia (aka the-middle-of-nowhere) to escape traffic and air pollution.

Finally, America has a President who values rail, and seeks to invest an initial $53bn. Which predictably has morons screaming about the outrageous cost (with encouragement of course from the pro-oil media).

So let’s look at some numbers: America uses about 21m barrels of oil daily, of which 45% is used to run cars. At a price of $87.11 per barrel, that costs $1,829,310,000 a day, or $667,698,150,000 a year – well over ten times the amount proposed for investment high-speed rail. Now you add hidden costs: oil wars, “aid” given to Middle Eastern states, terrorism generated by support for Middle Eastern dictatorships (and resulting homeland security costs), the cost of damage from oil spills, the health care costs of air pollution from cars, the economic hit of slow journeys and many other factors – not to mention climate change, which has huge costs of its own. Economically, it’s insane not to invest $billions, even $trillions in modern rail technology.

Like I said, it’s a no-brainer; however, brains seem to be in short supply in government.

I is for The Iraq War

Perhaps this subject’s been done-to-death… but given some of the discussions I have on Twitter, it seems the facts still haven’t sunk in yet. So here’s an eight-point quick summary of known-knowns, just as a refresher.

  1. Saddam was certainly an asshole. He was America’s asshole.
  2. Saddam’s chemical weapons were partly supplied by his good friend and ally: Ronald Reagan (with Donald Rumsfeld assisting).
  3. From 1991 to 1998, UN weapons inspectors spent years finding and removing WMDs from Iraq. They were confident that all significant capacity was gone by 1998.
  4. In 2002, as the Bush administration tried to build the WMD case, the chief UN inspector Scott Ritter (a Republican who’d voted for Bush), pointed out that the WMD case was fabricated. And if he didn’t know about Iraq’s WMDs, who did?
  5. In November 2002, the UN inspectors returned to Iraq. They toured all known sites for several weeks and found nothing of significance. In response to US claims that they have “intelligence” of WMDs existing, they asked the US for the locations they should inspect, and were refused this information. This is the single most compelling evidence that Bush/Blair had already decided to go to war, and that the WMD claim was false.
  6. Robin Cook, UK government minister who (as former Foreign Minister) had access to secret intelligence, resigned over the war on 18 March 2003. His resignation speech (12 min video) summarises well the reasons why the war was unjustified.
  7. Ultimately, Bush’s “coalition of the willing” comprised one true partner: the UK. And the UK was led to war against the will of the population by Tony Blair – which ultimately led to the end of his political career. The only population involved that backed the war was the US (Israel was also reportedly on-side, but they’re guaranteed to support any action that involves killing Arabs).
  8. Long-term damage from the war is widespread and ongoing. The most conservative estimate of war-related deaths comes from Iraq Body Count, with a low estimate of at least 99,711 Iraqi lives lost. Iraq’s infrastructure is still not at the level it was pre-war. The financial cost was huge; the cost to American and British standing in the Middle East was also large, at a time when China needs oil and is making new friends around the world.

J is for Judgement Day

Having created us all (some time between 6,000 to 12,000 years ago), God sat back and watched us fuck up. From time to time he gave us a little guidance, usually in the form of killing everything that moved. Having obviously received some kind of anger-management therapy, God later sent his son Jesus to guide us. For someone whose Father was best known for flying into genocidal rages, Jesus turned out to be a Really Nice Bloke. Sadly, the Romans didn’t appreciate nice blokes, so they killed him. But the Bible is pretty clear that Jesus will return, and this time his coming will herald Judgement Day. Strange as it may seem, the entirety of history turns out to be a very difficult test, and Judgement Day is when we get our results.

In the light of modern science, this seems unlikely to many of us. Luckily, God foresaw our skepticism, and so he created the Bible Belt to keep his word alive. Thanks to the good Evangelists of the Southern US, we know that sometime soon, believers will float up naked into the sky, and then Jesus will return (there seems to be disagreement about the timing of this – it could take up to seven more years), at which point the Last Judgement will take place.

Given that Evangelical Christians have spent their time abstaining from sex and listening to crappy music in readiness for the Rapture, it’s understandable that they’re impatient for this to happen, so it’s unsurprising that predictions of the End Of Days come frequently. Enter Harold Camping, an 89 year-old Christian radio broadcaster, who is predicting the second coming will take place on 21st May 2011. His web site makes for entertaining reading, and he appears to have at least some followers. So pencil 21 May into your diaries – we’ll catch up on 22nd to review progress.

See also:
Moron Alphabet A-G
Moron Alphabet K-M

Shorty Awards: Success! And Thanks

Dear Readers,

At 5am this morning (UK time), the Shorty Award nominations finally closed. I’d been in 5th place in the Politics category, but was knocked down to 6th by a last-minute surge from The Bloggess. However, the top six positions in each category go through, so this means I’ve made the short-list in that category. Now it’s down to the judges.

Apologies to those I annoyed by lobbying for nominations – it’s all over now, I promise! And a big thank you to the 325 people who nominated me – especially those who nominated several times (sorry, each person gets counted only once though).

Click here to see the final positions in the politics category

British Multiculturalism In Music

Yesterday, multi-millionaire posh-boy and British PM David Cameron spoke out on a subject that he clearly knows much about: multiculturalism. It doesn’t work, he says. Though silver-spoon from head to toe, apparently “Dave” also has his finger on the pulse of British culture beyond his fave Tapas bar in upmarket Notting Hill.

Unlike Dave, I wasn’t ‘lucky’ enough to be raised in a monocultural ghetto like Eton. Over 40 languages were spoken at my London state school, and white kids represented no more than 15% of the school population. London is probably the most mixed, diverse and racially harmonious city in the world. Immigrants make up a high percentage of the population, yet racist groups like the BNP and EDL find it impossible to establish a toe-hold within the city. The good people of London have been notoriously intolerant of intolerance, ever since they fought and beat the fascists of Oswald Mosley at the Battle of Cable Street in 1936.

But how do you measure culture? How do you decide if an idea like multiculturalism has worked? For me, one answer is given by music. Thanks to immigration, and the British tendency towards cultural mixing, Britain has become one of the most creative music producers in the world.

Below is a small selection of “multicultural” British music – illustrations of the cultural power created when multiple influences come together without segregation. Feel free to listen to one or two… or all… or just read my comments on each track.

Ghost Town – The Specials – 1981
The Specials, from Coventry, were the original “two-tone” band, blending white skinhead music with Jamaican reggae to create UK Ska, and bringing white and black kids to the same gigs for the first time. The creation of the two-tone movement coincided with the fall of far-right street racism.

Food For Thought – UB40 – 1980
This mixed reggae band from Birmingham are still going strong, though much of their best work was made 30+ years ago.



Smooth Operator – Sade – 1984

Sade (pronounced Sharday): 50% Nigerian, 50% English, 100% British Soul.



Back To Life – Soul II Soul – 1989

Though black artists were rising from the late-70s, their styles were borrowed from Jamaica and the US. London-based Soul II Soul are credited with creating a truly British black sound for the first time.

Chok There – Apache Indian – 1993

Real name Steven Kapur, a DJ of Indian origin from Birmingham; blending Indian music with Jamaican-influenced Ragga, a true creation of the British Empire!

21 Seconds – So Solid Crew – 2001

This collective from South London were part of the UK Garage movement: a uniquely London music style whose roots include UK dance music, Jamaican dancehall and Hip Hop.

Terrorist? – Lowkey – 2010

Lowkey is a London rapper of mixed English and Iraqi descent, known for his political lyrics against racism and war.

So Dave, if you want to understand race and culture in your home city, take a bus up the road and let me help you. If I want to know whether to drink Beaujolais with foie gras, I’ll be sure to drop you a line.

Moron Alphabet: A-G

A is for Alinskyite

Bear with me on this, because I’m a little confused about it myself. Saul Alinsky was a left-wing American community organiser who died in 1972. He seems to have been an interesting guy, but to be totally honest, I’d never heard of him until a few months ago, when I was accused of being an Alinskyite on Twitter, and not wanting to reveal my ignorance, I Googled him. It’s said that Barack Obama, another community organiser at one point, was influenced by some of Alinsky’s organisational ideas or tactics. As far as I can tell, the Alinskyite handle was one of the many genius/insane creations of Glenn Beck (see B). As happens so often, Beck introduced his idiot viewers to a new word, and they then accused everyone on Twitter who disagreed with them of being an Alinskyite. This was a passing trend as Beck introduced new words for his fans to play with, and they quickly forgot it.

B is for Beck: Glenn Beck

The King Moron of all Moronia. Glenn Beck, a US radio and TV presenter, is undoubtedly very stupid, but he’s also smart enough to know that power and money can be gained from frightening and confusing people even dumber than himself. He gets very worked up, often to tears, about things that he completely made up. His moron viewers then unleash themselves on Twitter, spreading his contagion of fear, rage and hate. Though I’m not a Fox News viewer, I know when Beck is on TV, and what he says, by watching the explosions of Twitter-panic (Twanic?) that occur during and after his shows. Beck excels in calling people Nazis, which is ironic considering that his tactics closely mirror those used by the Nazis in persuading Germans that Jews wanted to eat their babies. Beck always has a demon-character to illustrate that the world is on the verge of catastrophe; Alinsky (See A), George Soros, and Barack HUSSEIN Obama are just some examples.

C is for Commie

General-purpose insult used to attack anyone who disagrees with a range of right-wing views. This is obviously pretty old and tired, having been thrown around since at least the 1950s, and is largely superceded by more creative terms, many invented by Glenn Beck (see B). The fear of Communism itself was stoked up in the US during the cold war, which Americans were told was ideological, whereas it was primarily a competition between two rival empires for resources and markets. It should be noted that Russia (the original “commie” target) was a pretty nasty and authoritarian place both before the rise and after the fall of communism, but it’s the communist era that most intrigues morons. So what if journalists still get assassinated? At least they were free to write what they wanted (before getting killed for it).

D is for Drugs

As every moron knows, Drugs Are Bad, M’kay? And that’s about ALL they know. Of course, banning dozens of substances, most of which are safer than alcohol or tobacco, seems moronic, but the main reason is to convince morons that it’s OK to fund expensive wars in Latin America, and also to persuade them that in free countries, it’s OK for the police to smash people’s doors in and stop them randomly in the street (you know, like in a police state, but… different). According to the Drug War Clock, the US alone has spent almost $4 billion dollars on fighting (and losing) this war this year so far (and it’s early-February). That’s big business. It’s not about the drugs… it’s about the money, morons.

E is for EDL

Or as they like to chant: E-E-E-D-L! The English Defence League is the latest in an illustrious, unbroken line of British fascists, going all the way back to Oswald Mosley’s British Union of Fascists in the 1930s. Fascism has always adapted with the times; in the 30s, Mosley targeted the evil Jew; then when that became tainted with the discovery of Hitler’s horrors, he turned his attention to black Caribbean immigrants, who (of course) were a threat to everything British. In the 1970s, the National Front picked up the far-right baton, targeting blacks and “Pakis” (meaning anyone from the Indian subcontinent). With their collapse came the rise of the British National Party, which tried a new approach of suits and “respectability”. But 9/11 changed the far-right. Before the attacks, the BNP’s main targets were Asian immigrants, regardless of their religion. After 9/11 the message stayed the same, but the target morphed from “Asians” to “Muslims”. With the failure of the BNP to secure an electoral base, the far-right split and returned to street thuggery in the form of the EDL. This claims to only be against “extreme Islam”, but that story falls apart when EDL members are watched – they seem to hate all Muslims, and are often caught complaining about immigrants in general, including Catholic Poles. Nazi salutes are often spotted at EDL marches.

The EDL would be more frightening if its supporters weren’t semi-literate and prone to racist outbursts that spoil the “we’re just defending England” message. Follow @Exposingtweets on Twitter for an exposé of these morons that will both concern you and make you laugh out loud.

F is for Fox News

The Mecca of Moronitude: American TV channel that has little to do with News (after all, to make “news” you need “journalists”) and much to do with right-wing propaganda, doom-laden predictions, victimisation of “progressives”, pro-Republican electioneering disguised as comment, and outright lunacy (see B). Fox can’t broadcast as Fox News in many countries, as regulations require that news channels carry some news, and attempt some level of balance. But in America, free speech is enforced by the constitution – sadly this being interpreted as “any idiot can say anything about anyone”. Fox is just a part of the global media empire of Bond-villain-type, Rupert Murdoch, the puppeteer for morons everywhere. Murdoch has cleverly cornered the moron market in a number of countries, especially the US (via Fox) and the UK (via the Sun newspaper) and controls well over half of all Australia’s media output. When the world ends, it’s pretty likely that Murdoch will somehow be involved. The only upsides are that 1) he’s getting pretty old now, 2) he doesn’t really seem to understand new media. Of course, Fox wouldn’t be a great problem if there weren’t millions of people who get all their opinions from it. In a sane world, watching Fox News would bar someone from ever owning a gun or having kids.

G is for Gay

“Gay” (also known as Homosexuality by scientists) is a great problem for the modern moron. Back in the day, it was possible to just hate gays and denounce their perversion, without having to think too hard. In fact, many morons still take this approach: examples being Mahmoud Ahmadinejad (Iran’s moron President) and many other religious conservatives. However the Western, right-wing moron (whether religious-right or secular fascist) is presented with a dilemma. These types used to hate gays, and even attack them. But now their fear and hatred for Muslims is paramount, and one of the reasons they claim to hate Muslims is that “Muslims don’t like gays”. Apparently. They don’t let facts cloud their judgement – for example, that in the 1960s, homosexuals who were persecuted in Europe would take vacations in Morocco, with its more tolerant attitude. Religious-right morons still oppose gay marriage, naturally – they have nothing against gays (they say through gritted teeth), but the Bible says that marriage should be between a man and a woman. And the Bible, having been written by ancient Jewish bigots, is of course right. Never mind that the Muslim rules on homosexuality come from the same root as the Jewish and Christian rules… this is the kind of problem that makes morons’ heads explode, a sound that can often be heard throughout Twitter.