Moronic Twitter Lists

I’ve ended up on quite a few Twitter lists, and most are very flattering. But the list entries I most enjoy being on are the moronic ones – these bring a smile to my face. Below are genuine lists that people actually took the time to create and add me to. For which I’m truly grateful.

I’m unhinged!

I love these ones. I tweet for Soros (and work for him too). Apparently.

Repent!

Another double: trolls-6 and dumbasses-7. I’m slightly hurt I didn’t make dumbasses-1.

This is more like it! Threats to national security.

I’m not Obama’s greatest fan, but at least he’s sane and knows what he’s talking about.

Nice and simple.

This made me laugh – well done that moron!

This made me laugh in a different way.

Someone spotted my coded message of racism and hate.

I wonder what this person thinks about me?

I try to attack nicely, but I can promise I have reason.

I might put this on a T shirt.

Thanks Kim, I love you too!

Perhaps my favourite. It’s nice to be taken seriously.

A Very American Coup

On or around 2nd August, without an increase in its debt ceiling, the US will begin to run out of money, and be forced to begin defaulting on its payments (in fact, the ceiling was hit in May, at which point the US began deferring pension fund investments). Raising the debt ceiling is usually a fairly routine affair – it’s happened 74 times since March 1962, including 10 in the past decade. It has to happen when the government needs to borrow more money; of course, the raise tends to be accompanied by standard complaints from opposition politicians about mismanagement of the country’s finances, but it gets lifted anyway. Not to do so would be catastrophic, and neither party has been prepared to get blamed for a potential financial and economic meltdown.

Until now.

Something’s shifted in recent US politics: the birth of the Tea Party movement, ostensibly a grass-roots campaigning body that believes in lower taxes and “smaller government”. In reality, even if the Tea Party began as a popular movement, it was quickly hijacked by far-right interests, in particular Americans For Prosperity, which is funded by the billionaire Koch Brothers. Last November, around 60 Tea Party-backed candidates were elected to the House of Representatives, forming a caucus under the chairmanship of the gay-hating, genuinely moronic Michele Bachmann. Bachmann seems to have displaced Sarah Palin as the natural leader for American morons, and is standing to be the Republican candidate to oppose Obama in the 2012 presidential elections.

Previously, while extremism was prevalent in the Republican Party, and stupidity was fairly widespread in both parties, no significant group of people was ideological (or just crazy) enough to allow the US to contemplate its first ever default. The realistic deadline for agreeing a deal came and went last Friday, and all attempts at deals have fallen through. While (of course) the Republicans have tried to paint the situation as intransigence on both sides, the blame falls squarely on them; they refuse to contemplate a penny in tax rises, a stance which has been branded economic illiteracy by The Economist. If there’s any criticism of Obama, it’s been for his over-willingness to compromise without receiving the same from the other side.

This creates a puzzle; are there really people in Congress who are prepared to see huge damage done to the US economy by their obstinacy? Bachmann and a number of others made clear that they would oppose a ceiling increase regardless of any deal; in effect voting for an economic calamity. I wrote a post on the crisis last week, in which I suggested three reasons why the more extreme individuals may contemplate a default, as follows:

  1. Somehow the US electoral system really did allow genuine, semi-literate morons to be elected. They simply don’t understand the implications of what they’re doing, and believe the “we don’t need government” nonsense that they spew out.
  2. Some of these people are religious nuts; they live for Armageddon, and have got themselves into a position to bring it forward by crashing the global economy. Think I’m joking? Sadly, no.
  3. This one is a guess on my part: The suicide-bomb theory. The US owes China vast amounts of money – that’s part of the source of China’s growing economic power. Perhaps the morons think that if the US defaults on its debts, China would suffer enormous damage too. Of course, the only problem with suicide bombing is that the US (and Europe) would go down along with China. Perhaps these crazies think the US could recover quicker, and postpone the day when China inevitably takes over as the world’s largest economy.

I think all of these do apply, but I missed something bigger: a deliberate default by these corporate-funded individuals represents an effective coup against the democratically-elected Federal government, and against the US Constitution itself. While this has become increasingly obvious over the past few days, all doubt was removed by an interview with Senator Mike Lee, a member of the smaller Tea Party caucus in the Senate, in which he openly threatens the US with economic mayhem unless the Constitution is amended to meet Tea Party demands. It’s worth reading it carefully and contemplating its implications. Here we have a group of elected individuals, bought and paid for by far-right corporate interests, helped into office by Murdoch’s Fox propaganda channel, who are in a position to do major (perhaps unprecedented) damage to the global economy, and appear willing to do so.

America’s elected government was painstakingly set up by the founding fathers, backed by the US constitution, to defend the interests of the American people against the power of unelected vested interests. At the time, the the risk to democracy came from European royalty and super-wealthy aristocrats; but those powers have faded to near-insignificance, and been replaced by a new “corporate aristocracy” who are every bit as much a threat to democracy as the old aristos were. Without government, there is no democracy; if the government is brought to impotence by the Tea Party’s actions, democracy takes a huge hit (at the expense of an economic earthquake). Those best placed to move in and take advantage (both financial and political) of the chaos are the very people who back the Tea Party and other extreme members of the Republican Party.

Unlike the original Boston Tea Party, which challenged power on behalf of the people, the new version attacks the people on behalf of power. This is no revolution – it’s looking increasingly like a coup.

The Reality of Right-Wing Nationalism Hits Norway

75 years ago this October, my grandfather, the son of Jewish immigrants to London’s poor East End, took to the streets with thousands of others to stop the ultra-nationalist British Union of Fascists from marching through a largely Jewish area. The event turned into a pitched battle, with Oswald Mosley’s fascists and the Metropolitan Police on one side, and locals, Jews, Irish, socialists and communists on the other. The fight (which became known as the Battle of Cable Street) ended with victory for the anti-fascist side, with the fascists and police beaten off the streets.

Following the Holocaust, Fascism became a dirty word, but Nationalists have continually tried to detoxify their brand and reinstate themselves into the mainstream. Mosley returned in the 1950s, this time labelling black immigrants, rather than Jews and Irish, as the main “threat” to the “British way of life”. In the late-60s, Conservative MP Enoch Powell became famous for predicting that mass immigration would lead to “rivers of blood“. Through the 70s, right-wing nationalism and street-thuggery rose in the form of the National Front, but the movement was resisted on the streets, and finally dissolved in the early-80s as a new, multicultural music scene brought young black and white people together socially. By the 90s, nationalism seemed to be a thing of the past, but the 9/11 attacks gave the racist right a chance to re-brand as an anti-Islam force. Nearly ten years on, and we can see that the “Islam is a threat” message has worked its way from fascist meeting rooms into the political mainstream-right in Europe and the US.

Gradually, the anti-Islam message has morphed back into a more traditional anti-immigration message, being amplified by the right-wing tabloid press here (and Fox News in the US). The nationalist, anti-immigration message isn’t easy to sell; it relies on persuading people that the past (or rather, an imaginary, idyllic past) is being replaced by a more dangerous future as immigrants join their society. Prior to 9/11 it seemed that the Western World had moved beyond irrational fear of foreigners, and that society’s liberal tendencies had prevailed; but we soon learned that race hate and xenophobia weren’t far beneath the surface; that US and European society had changed less since the 1940s than we’d convinced ourselves.

When the drum of fear and hate is being pounded consistently, the infection will naturally spread. For most fear-infected morons, the outlet of Twitter or a blog is enough. But it’s inevitable that angry or mentally-disturbed individuals like Anders Behring Breivik will become infected too, and violence will follow, as it did last Friday in Norway. Breivik’s choice of target, the mainstream, liberal Norwegian Labour Party, was a natural one for anyone understanding the history of European nationalism. He chose a multicultural youth camp, something designed to ease racial tensions in Norway, but also proof (in Breivik’s confused world view) that evil forces were trying to dilute Norway’s racial and cultural past into something new and alien.

Whether Breivik acted alone, it can be stated with certainty that he was influenced by master-manipulators of the nationalist movement. It’s already been established from his own blog (English translation provided by @Dilmunite) that he admired the far-right English Defence League; according to many EDL Facebook posts, Breivik had many EDL Facebook friends, and attended an EDL rally in the UK in 2010. I’d recommend following @BanTheEDL and @EverythingEDL on Twitter for a collection of evidence linking group members with Breivik.

Another key Breivik influencer was someone I’ve often mentioned: Pamela Geller, a self-appointed “defender” of America against “creeping Islamification”. Pamela spent the weekend tweeting new myths distancing herself from the terrorist, for her army of moron followers to disseminate.

In my Twitter feed, I’ve long watched morons large and small disseminate misinformation about Islam, Muslims and immigration. Their purpose was to spread enough hatred widely enough that sooner or later someone would take action, and set a chain of violence underway. It looks as though they found a new disciple (though not their first – right-wing terror plots have long been of concern, especially in the US), and no doubt other “white heroes” are watching and contemplating whether to follow Breivik’s example (as was clearly his intention).

Western governments now need to decide whether Islamaphobic lies and smears equate to hate speech, and whether to prosecute the most virulent of these liars. The shock following the Norway attacks will quickly pass, and lack of action against armchair-nationalist morons by governments will result in more confidence in the nationalist movements, and inevitably more violence.

Moronic Republicans And The Debt Ceiling

It provided me with great entertainment over the past couple of years to watch the rise of the Tea Party, a far-right, “small government” grouping that took off in protest against “Obamacare” (because after all, who would want guaranteed access to healthcare? Not morons, that’s for sure).

And then I was again amused to see a number of Tea Party-supporting morons elected to Congress last November, representing a swing to the right both within Congress and within the Republican Party, which saw (relatively) sane candidates swept away by morons. But nobody told me these lunatics could have the power to crash the world economy…

Republicans in Congress are blocking the requirement to raise the US debt ceiling; without this increase by early-August (at the latest), America will default on its debt, leading to an unprecedented disaster across the Western and global economy. The Republican demands seem to come in two flavours: very moronic and ultra-moronic:

  1. Those who are simply “very moronic” demand that Obama introduce huge spending cuts and no tax rises at all, even for the wealthy.
  2. The “ultra-morons” (including MoronWatch favourite Michele Bachmann) simply don’t want to increase the debt ceiling at all.

Note that Obama is offering heavy spending cuts (in line with initial Republican demands), but is also insistent that some tax rises are necessary.

This may seem a complex decision, but there are some clear-cut points here. Here’s a quick guide (with thanks to The Economist) to the US budget decisions.

  • Is this the right time to start heavy cuts? That’s debatable. Cutting while the economy is still weak will hurt the economy – how much it gets hurt is open to debate, but a recent study by IMF economists suggests that heavy cuts tend to do more harm than good. This implies that the Republicans and most Democrats (including President Obama) are wrong in introducing austerity at this stage.
  • Do there need to be tax rises? This is more clear-cut: the Economist, in an unusually outspoken editorial, recently referred to Republicans as “economically illiterate” for insisting on no tax rises.
  • Does bashing the poorest make sense? Republicans have suggested cuts to programmes such as food stamps. Ignoring the sheer callousness of this proposal (when these same people won’t support tax hikes for millionaires), this again is economically illiterate. Food stamps generate activity in the economy – $1.73 for each $1 spent. So the cuts would depress the economy by more than they save – and that doesn’t take into account the economic and social effects of having millions of people (half of them children) going hungry.

The result of not raising the debt ceiling would be so catastrophic that economists are barely even trying to predict what would happen, instead choosing (for now) to say “they wouldn’t let that happen, would they?”

So why are morons like Bachmann even contemplating it? I can think of three explanations:

  1. Somehow the US electoral system really did allow genuine, barely-literate morons to be elected. They simply don’t understand the implications of what they’re doing, and believe the “we don’t need government” nonsense that they spew out.
  2. Some of these people are religious nuts; they live for Armageddon, and have got themselves into a position to bring it forward by crashing the global economy. Think I’m joking? Sadly, no.
  3. This one is a guess on my part: The suicide-bomb theory. The US owes China vast amounts of money – that’s part of the source of China’s growing economic power. Perhaps the morons think that if the US defaults on its debts, China would suffer enormous damage too. Of course, the only problem with suicide bombing is that the US (and Europe) would go down along with China. Perhaps these crazies think the US could recover quicker, and postpone the day when China inevitably takes over as the world’s largest economy.

The only bright side to this is that hopefully, once this crisis is past, some of the smarter Republican voters will be so scared, so repulsed by these morons that the Republican Party will be punished for its lurch to craziness by being swept from power: in Congress and across the states for a generation to come. Are Americans well enough educated and informed to make that call? Let’s hope so. But there needs to be an earthquake in US politics. A vibrant democracy needs at least two viable alternatives – the US currently only has one.

Viva July 13th!

If you travel in many countries, you’ll often find streets, bridges and squares named after calendar dates. Countries that have been through revolutionary upheavals tend to have key dates in their histories when everything changed – July 4th probably being the most famous.

We British don’t have such key dates in our modern history. Britain is unusual in that our revolutionary changes tend to be consensual, non-violent and gradual. We’re a nation capable of compromise, which can be frustrating, but makes us one of the world’s most stable societies. Following World War 2, the Labour government introduced the national health service, the welfare state, and began dismantling the Empire, with little other than grumbling from the powers that be. In the 60s, 70s and late-80s, we underwent social revolutions where successive generations used music, sex and drugs to challenge the previous generations’ attitudes. Despite stuffy politicians and media, we are among the most libertarian societies when it comes to sexual attitudes and drug use.

While our revolutionary neighbour and old rival, France, has stagnated back into conservatism, racial segregation and authoritarianism, The British people have thrown off the religious establishment, broadened free speech, and integrated immigrants who have changed our society (and for the better, despite what some conservatives will claim).

So because of the remarkably consensual nature of our society, Britain doesn’t have a calendar date to remember any specific moment when we stepped forward. Perhaps yesterday changed that.

In the 1980s, Margaret Thatcher began courting the media mogul Rupert Murdoch. She began a trend; no leader of any major party has dared fear the wrath of Murdoch or his tabloid papers (specifically, The Sun and the News of the World) for over 20 years. In that time, Murdoch’s power has only grown – party leaders go to him on bended knee for his support at election time. When David Cameron became PM last year, Murdoch was the first visitor to Downing Street.

It turns out that the Metropolitan police have also been corrupted, with some/many working illegally for Murdoch’s interests.

Furthermore, our politicians and journalists have been painfully aware (as we now discover) of Murdoch’s ability to trash an individual’s reputation and career; so many have kept quiet for fear of retribution. When the Guardian began its brave investigation into phone hacking, it’s reported (audio link) that Rebekah Brooks (now CEO of News International) was asked how the story would end. She replied “With Alan Rusbridger [Guardian Editor] on his knees, begging for mercy”. This was more than a media empire – it was a power structure that could subvert both police and parliament. And yet we all watched as its tentacles began to spread everywhere, strangling our democracy and free speech.

And out of the blue, as a result of the phone-hacking investigation, last Thursday Rupert Murdoch announced the closure of the News of the World, one of Britain’s best-selling newspapers, in an attempt to stop the damage from spreading across his empire. Then yesterday, 13th July 2011 became a revolutionary moment: Labour’s newish leader, Ed Miliband tabled a parliamentary motion opposing Murdoch’s total takeover of BSkyB, Britain’s largest broadcaster. Amazingly, the Conservatives and other parties were forced to back the motion. And then Murdoch announced he’d be dropping his bid. By the afternoon, American politicians were calling for inquiries into the activities of NewsCorp, Murdoch’s US arm.

In the past day, I’ve heard Conservative politicians speak out for the first time against the way their party had become the political wing of Murdoch’s empire (one recent example: government attempts to cut prison populations were shelved after The Sun went on the attack against them). Of course we can be cynical; why didn’t anybody speak up before? The answer is often that our elected leaders are cowards, corrupt, or both – there are few we can be truly proud of. But cynicism can cloud the enormity of what just happened. Our elected parliament got off its knees and asserted itself. However little we like our elected leaders, they’re the best thing we have – certainly they represent us better than police chiefs and CEOs do. Parliamentary and police investigations are underway. Tectonic plates shifted yesterday, and only time will tell where that leads us – there are many revelations yet to come.

Difficult as it is, and however implicated some of our leaders are, this is a time to be non-partisan, at least for the moment. For the first time perhaps since the 1940s, our parliamentary democracy has flexed its muscles. Viva July 13! A very British revolution.

When Bios Attack

The bio of a Twitter user is important: in a mere 140 characters, a person must describe themselves and their beliefs in an informative (and hopefully entertaining) way. This applies to morons as much as to everyone else. In such a small space, how do you demonstrate the lack of intelligence, knowledge and ability for independent thought that will attract other morons to follow you?

I’ve scoured the bios of Twitter morons in order to create a library of essential moron bio extracts, which I present below. Every phrase here was a genuine copy-and-paste. I’ll publish additions to this list from time to time, ensuring it stays current (for example, if Sarah Palin becomes President and nukes Malta by accident, you may choose to add “Those Maltese Islamofascists had it coming”). If you’re a moron, please feel free to use this valuable, royalty-free resource. A credit would be nice.

  1. 3 times mobilized retired US Army Res. Major- If you’ve been in the military, say so! Morons need to know this stuff.
  2. Our land isn’t Arab land - A Zionist essential.
  3. The LORD also shall roar out of Zion … and the heavens and the earth shall shake! Joel 3:16 - Bible verses are always appreciated.
  4. We are taking America Back! - This may mean “Vote Republican”, though this also includes a coded message to blow up a government building if Obama is re-elected.
  5. …reaffirm our individual liberty, strengthen private markets, shrink the size of government - …and doesn’t see any conflict between these objectives.
  6. Conservative,God,Country,Sarah Palin - Concentrated moronitude.
  7. American Patriot - I’ve never left the country, except on that trip to Acapulco, and then I got a stomach upset and spent most of the time in the hotel bathroom.
  8. I exist in the shadows fighting the enemies of America – Superhero wannabe.
  9. British Nationalist - I blame brown people for the dull mediocrity of my life.
  10. America’s Founding Fathers - Simultaneously patriotic and meaningless.
  11. Stand Up America Now! - America has been sitting down for too long. I blame the chair lobby.
  12. Director of the TaxPayers’ Alliance - One of those badly named lobby groups. Should be called Keep Your Hands Off My Inherited Fortune, Poor People.
  13. …save America from Islamic domination- We persecuted blacks, Jews, Chinese, Japanese, hispanics, lefties and homosexuals and we’re sorry. But this time the threat’s for real, honest!
  14. We are a coalition of bloggers fighting Islamism with our blogposts - Are those like fenceposts?
  15. Taxpayers of the world unite! - He means High Rate Taxpayers – the rest of you can piss off.
  16. Conservative-Libertarian - Conservative who likes to smoke a joint from time to time.
  17. Newt Fan - Likes slimey sub-human animals.
  18. 45th Governor of the State of Wisconsin - Not widely applicable.
  19. Constitutionalist - Differentiate yourself from those progressive traitors who hate the Constitution.
  20. Liberty,Not Tyranny,Stand up & Fight 4 This Country,No Socialism,Communism,Marxism,NoObama,Take Our Country Back – If in doubt, choose them all!