The Moron Awards 2011

Moron 2011
2011: A Moronic Year

It’s time once again to look back at the highlights and lowlights of the past year. The widespread economic and social problems have meant that, for millions, 2011 has been a difficult, challenging time. But not for MoronWatch! 2011 has one of the most moronic years in modern history. And it’s time to give thanks to all the morons who helped make it happen.

So here’s my attempt to remember just a few of this year’s moronic events, and the morons behind them. I couldn’t possibly cover every piece of moronitude, and I’ve undoubtedly missed some key events and people – feel free to add your favourites below.

Biggest Flop

Those who entertained us by promising to deliver, before completely failing to do so.

Winner: Harold Camping, who predicted the second coming would take place on 21st May, followed by the end of the world on October 21st. He worked it out using numbers. Sadly (at least for morons awaiting Judgement Day), his calculations turned out to be wrong. Jesus failed to show in May, but Harry stuck to his guns and said the world would still end in October (it didn’t, FYI). Honourable mention: the people who believed him.

Runners-up:

Rupert Murdoch and his son James, for breaking British law on a huge scale, with the help of police officers who they’d bribed, and then getting caught, allowing British democracy to strike back against the Murdoch strangehold over our elected leaders.

Guido Fawkes (aka Paul Staines), a right-wing British blogger who tried (with help from the moron press) to show, via an online petition, that the UK public were clamouring for a return of the death penalty. They weren’t.

Donald Trump, who reignited the birther controversy, demanding Barack Obama produce his long-form birth certificate. With beautiful timing, Obama duly did so, destroying Trump’s presidential campaign (though to be fair, Trump had already destroyed it himself by being Donald Trump).

Christopher Monckton, a man who has profited hugely from selling climate change denial to morons, despite having been repeatedly discredited, opened a Twitter account. After skirmishes with myself and other “fans”, he quickly closed it down again.

The far-right English Defence League (EDL) have continued to keep us entertained with their moronic (and badly-spelled) antics, both online and offline. This year, they discovered that posting online threats to attack the Occupy protesters in London would lead to them being arrested when they arrived in town for Remembrance Day.

Rick Perry, presidential hopeful, had a moronic plan to close entire government departments, but when asked during a TV debate, he couldn’t remember which ones. Oops!

The ever-inventive Tommy Robinson, leader of the EDL, who appears to have invented a beating at the hands of “Pakistanis”.

Michele Bachmann, after showing early promise to be the flag-bearer for American moronism in next year’s presidential election, vanished without a trace (as did several of her moronic competitors).

Global Menace

Who has been doing their best to destabilise world society, and (whether deliberately or accidentally) drive us towards war?

Winner: The Tea Party caucus in Congress for refusing to raise the US debt ceiling until the 13th hour, resulting in a downgrade for the USA’s credit rating. While some “moderate” Republican morons used the debt ceiling increase as a negotiating tool to try to force cuts in spending, the Tea Party, led by MoronWatch favourite Michele Bachmann, were genuinely prepared to force a US debt default, taking the global economy to the brink of panic.

Runners up:

European leaders for repeatedly failing throughout the year to take the actions necessary to stabilise the EU economy. Special mention to Silvio Berlusconi, for clinging to power despite having mismanaged the Italian economy for years, so he wouldn’t face prosecution for – well, pretty much everything. Very special mention to Dave Camoron and his nationalistic, Eurosceptic Tory right, who tried (perhaps successfully) to single-handedly derail a deal that would stop the European economy from collapsing.

Ongoing: The US for its moronic “war on terror” which grinds on, killing civilians in Afghanistan and Pakistan, pushing those countries steadily towards social collapse and so putting power in the hands of the Taliban and other extremists, who are (in theory) supposed to be the enemy.

Binyamin Netanyahu, who has stopped even pretending to care about peace in the region, and endlessly accelerates Israeli aggression and land theft. Special mention: the moronic pro-Israel lobby in the US who continue to support Israel, regardless of what it does.

Ongoing: most world governments for their endless execution of the utterly failed War on Drugs, which swallows endless billions of dollars and millions of lives, and results in more people taking more dangerous drugs.

Terrorism

Terrorism is becoming ever-more fashionable, especially among those who claim to be fighting terrorism. Here is my selection of the year’s top terrorists.

Winner: President Assad of Syria, for the mass-slaughter of his own people in the streets of Syrian cities. Of course, like all good state terrorists, Assad says that his victims aren’t civilians at all, but are themselves terrorists working in behalf of Syria’s enemies. No doubt, Syria has its own population of morons who believe him.

Runners up:

Barack Obama, for drone strikes on Pakistan that kill civilians on a regular basis. Obama fans may point out that it’s actually the Pentagon or the CIA carrying out these attacks, but if we blamed Bush’s wars on Bush, let’s be consistent and lay the blame for post-2008 terrorism on Obama. It’s only fair. And by the way, it’s probably about time Obama returned his prematurely-awarded Nobel Peace Prize.

West Bank extremist settlers for their barely-reported campaign of “price tag” terrorism against Palestinian civilians. Their strategy is to endlessly provoke the Palestinian population by ripping up crops, sabotaging irrigation systems or damaging mosques, then shooting people who protest. If the protests get too big, they go running to Mummy (aka the Israeli Defence Force) who shoot or arrest and torture Palestinian civilians.

Mystery winner: somebody, probably Israel or the US, carried out a terrorist attack on an Iranian military base, and quite possibly other attacks we haven’t heard about. If Iranians protest or retaliate in any way, it just shows how unreasonable they are. Honourable mention: Western media and politicians who ignore these attacks and continue to beat the drums of war against Iran.

London’s Metropolitan Police, who executed Mark Duggan, a young black man, in North London, based merely on the suspicion that he might be carrying a gun. Immediately after the shooting, the police lied to journalists, saying an exchange of fire had taken place – it hadn’t. The shooting triggered an uprising in Tottenham which led to the UK summer riots. Notably, this is the second time a riot has begun in Tottenham after the police killed an unarmed person. Special mention to the poorly-named Independent Police Complaints Commission, who are never independent and always ignore complaints. As ever, they came down on the side of the police.

The Inhumanity!

While it’s useful to understand motivations, some people are just plain evil.

Winner: “Pepper Spray Cop” – the policeman in Berkeley, California who was videoed casually spraying peaceful, seated protesters in the face with pepper spray. He was just one of many US police officers who took part in violent attacks on peaceful Occupy protesters this year, showing that free speech isn’t as much an American value as we might have hoped.

Runners up:

The US state of Georgia, who executed Troy Davis, despite strong evidence that his trial had been rigged.

Ugandan MPs, who have repeatedly tried to introduce laws making homosexuality a crime punishable by death. Special mention also to Ghana, Malawi and most other African countries, which have continued to make life as hard as possible for homosexuals.

The US, for using their UN veto to block the legal right of Palestine to be recognised as a state, a result that will simply encourage Israel to do whatever it likes, however brutal or illegal. As usual.

Supporters of presidential candidate and libertarian, Ron Paul at a debate. Paul was asked about his “libertarian” approach to healthcare: what should happen to people with no health cover if they were to fall ill? He confirmed that they should be given the “freedom” to die. At which, the audience applauded heartily, yelling “Let him die!”.

Hypocrisy

Everyone loves a little hypocrisy. Well, MoronWatch does, anyway. Here are some of the highlights.

Winner: Joint prize to The UK, France and the US for attacking Libya, to “protect civilians”. Strangely, their newly-found morality hasn’t been applied in recent years where civilians in their thousands (or tens of thousands) have been persecuted, slaughtered, raped or driven from their homes in various countries including Zimbabwe, Sri Lanka, the Democratic Republic of Congo, Syria and Bahrain. Did I mention Libya is a major oil producer?

Runners up:

The British Royal Family, who invited Bahraini royals to the royal wedding while protesters were being shot dead in the streets back home.

The Republican Party, who desperately fight for tax cuts for the rich, while proving decidedly reluctant to extend a tax cut for working Americans. Not only is this morally suspect, it’s also economically moronic: tax cuts for people on low and average incomes feed back into economic growth far more effectively than extra money for the wealthy.

Western conservatives, who enjoy using the words freedom and democracy incessantly but who, when faced with Arabs demanding democracy, proved decidedly lukewarm about the idea.

Just Plain Moronic

Awarded for general acts or statements of stupidity.

Winner: The British Public, for rejecting a modest improvement (the Alternative Vote, or AV) to our democratic system that would help weaken the current Labour-Conservative duopoly on power, open the door for the creation of fresh new political parties, and revitalise our democracy (as had already happened when AV was adopted in Australia). The newspapers (which mostly support the Tories or Labour) had largely come out against AV, and since most of the public pay no attention to politics, they voted as the press barons told them to. Thus proving that referendums, though seemingly democratic, are not in practise.

Runners up:

UK Prime Minister Dave Camoron for publicly giving the advice that people should pay off their debts. Although this advice is sensible, unfortunately our current economic system isn’t. A widespread shift from spending to saving, at a time when the economy is already struggling, would make the situation worse. By the end of the day, Dave was forced to reverse his advice. People are supposed to keep spending, and paying down their debts, even as the majority of them become poorer. How will that work? It won’t.

All-round weird moron Donald Trump, for suggesting that the US should take Libya’s oil as “payment” for “liberating” Libya. It’s almost like the good old days of Empire. In fact, I think it is the good old days of Empire.

Republican presidential candidate Herman Cain, for his wonderfully simple (in every sense of the word) 9-9-9 economic plan, under which corporation tax, income tax and sales tax would all be pegged at nine percent. The tax would result in the poor paying more, the top 10% doing pretty well, and the top 1% doing fantastically well. Cain proved incapable of explaining how it could possibly work, just as he proved incapable of explaining anything at all, from foreign policy to why a series of women would accuse him of sexual harassment.

The delightfully named, but not at all delightful, Eric Pickles, Tory government minister, for the most pointless spending exercise of the year. Councils across the UK have been encouraging recycling by providing households with recycling bins and reducing general waste collections from weekly to fortnightly. Although this is sensible and desirable, the British press and public did what they do best: moan about it. So Pickles threw £250m at restarting weekly bin collections, thus managing to waste huge amounts of cash and reverse years of progress towards recycling, all to win a few moron votes. Not only was the idea moronic, but most councils have rejected the cash anyway.

Fox “News” presenter Megyn Kelly, following the “Pepper Spray Cop” attack on Californian protests, said it was no big deal, as pepper spray is basically a food. However, she ignored social network calls for her to eat some pepper spray live on air.

The US state of Oklahoma, for banning Shariah law, despite only 0.4% of its population being Muslim (and none of them having asked for Shariah anyway). Special mention also to France, which passed a law banning women from covering their faces, in a spiteful act of bullying against a few hundred women.

The British government and media, for creating a new moral panic about Sexualisation, an imaginary problem designed to scare parents that society had become too sexual, and was threatening their children – and hence laying the foundations for future legislative attacks on sexual freedom.

And finally, just so I haven’t missed anyone:

People all around the world, who got suckered by an Apple PR campaign that transformed Steve Jobs, a highly capable CEO, into a hero and saint who had improved the world for everyone (rather than what he actually did, which was to launch some rather nice electronic equipment).

Want More?

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Rewind: My Predictions for 2011 Reviewed

Moron 2011
2011: A Moronic Year

Anyone who says they can reliably predict anything complex is either deluded or a liar. Nevertheless, “pundits” are well paid by media outlets to do exactly that, and the start and end of the year is a particularly busy time for this type of quackery. These modern-day soothsayers will of course focus heavily on their successes and ignore their failings, thus “demonstrating” that they’re qualified for the job of telling us what the coming year will hold, or where we should invest our money.

Not to be left out, I made my own predictions at the start of the year, and it’s only fair, given my strict adherence to scientific principles, that I review my success. I made seven predictions. Let’s see how I did.

Prediction 1: Winter will be colder than summer

OK, this was a pretty easy one. This was actually a prediction that morons would greet the cold weather with cries of “What happened to global warming?” I was right on that count too. And you watch, the moment a cold snap hits anywhere, especially in the US, they’ll say it again this year. I think this is what morons think of as humour.

Score: 10/10

Prediction 2: The Tea Party Will Become Increasingly Confused

Given how confused the average Teapartier already was this was a brave prediction. Did it come true? Well, the “grass-roots” phase of the Tea Party seems to have fizzled out. Though designed to look like a movement of the people, it was a well-funded campaign by far-right interests to win seats in Congress, and it succeeded. The initial phase involving marches of angry, misinformed morons has ended, and the morons have gone home, perhaps wondering how they were so easily fooled into marching for billionaires’ interests (but probably not).

The rise of Occupy, a genuinely spontaneous (and unlike the Tea Party, global) movement eclipsed the Tea Party from September onwards. Teapartiers were left to gloat on Twitter that police didn’t assault and arrest Tea Party marchers like they did Occupiers. Well yeah, that’s because the Tea Party was fighting for the right of the powerful to remain powerful – Occupy on the other hand was a genuine challenge to authority.

Was I right? Kind-of – I don’t really know how to measure this accurately. The Teapartiers were confused, are confused and will continue to be confused.

Score: 5/10

Prediction 3: Islamophobia to Rise in Europe/Israel, peak in UK/US

This is a big prediction, and hard to measure over such a short time-frame.The Islamophobes march onward. Breaking it down:

  • Mainland Europe: the drumbeat of fascism pounds ever louder, and Muslims are bearing the brunt. As the hate becomes established “fact” in the mind of morons, inevitably crazies take action – most noticeably in Norway in July, when Anders Breivik attacked and killed 77 people associated with the Labour Party. He was partly driven by hate for Muslims, and inspired by the English Defence League (EDL) and the Muslim-hating American Pamela Geller. For sure, things haven’t improved in Europe during 2011.
  • Israel: fascism is rising, and is taking an increased stranglehold over government. Israel, once a largely secular country, is increasingly religious, and the religious right is establishing itself in government and the military. Islamophobia isn’t at the heart of Israeli fascism, but it plays an increasing role. Israel continues to head rightwards into fascist territory.
  • UK: the main far-right party, the British National Party (BNP), seems to have undergone a partial collapse through the year. The EDL, a fascist street movement, also doesn’t seem to have made gains in support, though it recently announced an electoral pact with a tiny far-right group, the British Freedom Party. Overall, the far-right looks weaker than it did a year ago – whether that involves wishful thinking on my part though, I’m unsure.
  • US: I’ve detected less Islamophobic screaming on Twitter, as the right turns more to immigration as its primary cause. But recently, a non-controversial TV show called All American Muslim showed that Muslim-hate is not only strong among ordinary morons, but that corporations could be swung as well.

Score: 6/10… probably

Prediction 4: US Economy Will Gain Strength as UK Weakens

The US was pushing ahead with a government-funded stimulus; a fairly weak one, but a stimulus nonetheless. Meanwhile, the British government began heavy spending cuts in 2010. This provided the perfect comparison: stimulus or austerity? Which would win?

Stimulus won convincingly. The US economy is showing increasing (but still weak) growth and unemployment is starting to fall. Meanwhile, growth has completely stalled in the UK, and we may have already entered another recession. UK unemployment is rising fast. The bad news is that moronic Western governments are now all determined to use austerity before the economy is strong enough to take it, despite the lessons of the US/UK experiment (which proved yet again that Keynes was right).

Score: 10/10

Prediction 5: Oil price rises, morons draw wrong conclusions

As demand for oil rises globally, the price can only go up. As I predicted, the price rose strongly until April. At that point, new fears emerged over the US and European economies, and the price started to slide. It then rose again, and finished the year higher than it had begun. This prediction wasn’t difficult – energy prices are going to keep rising fast until huge investment is made in non-fossil fuels. And (as I pointed out), the Republicans controlling the House of Representatives won’t let that happen; neither will the oil-industry-loving Conservatives in the UK. We continue to wait for Germany and China to deliver mass, low-cost alternatives.

As for morons drawing the wrong conclusions: that was an even easier prediction. US morons blamed President Obama and demanded more domestic drilling (which is happening anyway). UK car-driving morons screamed that the government takes too much tax (missing the point that it’s only high taxes on fuel that have stopped us becoming even more addicted to oil than we already are).

Score: 10/10

Predictions 6 and 7: Jesus won’t return and the world won’t end

A fair number of morons believed the crazy predictions of preacher Harold Camping that Jesus would return on May 21st, and Judgement Day would come on Oct 21st. I bravely predicted this wouldn’t happen. And it didn’t. Yay!

Score 10/10

So I think I did pretty well. OK, I didn’t mention the Arab uprisings, the ongoing meltdown of Europe, the Japanese quake and tsunami, the rise of Occupy, or the laughable mess of the Republican Party’s race to find an opponent for Obama (I should at least have predicted the last one).

What do you think will happen in 2012? I reserve the right to “borrow” the best predictions and make them my own.

Ten Brits Who Should Be Shot

Jeremy Clarkson Is A Moron
A Well-Known Moron

In further pursuit of my ambition to work for the BBC and the Sun, I submit the following kill list for public debate:

  1. Jeremy Clarkson
  2. Jeremy Kyle
  3. Prince Harry
  4. Dave Camoron
  5. Margaret Thatcher
  6. George Osborne
  7. Nadine Dorries
  8. John Gaunt
  9. Melanie Philips
  10. Nigel Farage

Important notes:

  1. This is a joke
  2. I apologise anyway
  3. Can someone at least shoot Jeremy Kyle though?
  4. That was a joke too
  5. Please buy my DVD

Moron Alphabet N-O

This is the latest in a series. See also:

N is for Nigerian Pastors

Nigeria is Africa’s most populous country, a rising power, and a land of huge complexity, its population comprising around 250 ethnic groups. The country has huge oil reserves and an economy growing at Chinese-type speed; at its current rate of development, Nigeria stands to become a global power within decades. In surveys, Nigeria generally ranks as the world’s most religious country, with its population roughly evenly split between Christians and Muslims. Religion in Nigeria is one of its fastest-growing industries and is hugely competitive, especially in the wealthier Christian-dominated south. Nigeria’s demographics and history make for the evolution of bizarre new strains of Christianity; despite the country’s growing wealth, inequality is extreme, and most Nigerians still live in poverty. Education has yet to reach the majority – only about 30% of Nigerians receive secondary education; and despite the dominance of non-African religions, most people still hold on to traditional beliefs in juju (black magic) and witchcraft.

Additional to the home market, Nigeria’s large and wealthy diaspora are also targets of the religion biz, with large international church networks blossoming.

These factors make for a population that’s deeply susceptible to superstitious beliefs, and a large number of religious preachers who are willing to exploit the ignorant for huge financial rewards. The religion business is so lucrative that Forbes maintain a rich-list list of the wealthiest Nigerian pastors.

Nigeria’s pastors preach a kind of anti-Christianity known as Prosperity Theology, which promises not just eternal salvation but wealth on Earth too; this is (understandably) hugely popular, despite contradicting the traditional Christian idea of wealth and inequality being evils. The sight of the rich extracting money from those who can’t afford it is ugly enough, but much darker practises also take place. Given the cost of medicine to ordinary Nigerians, and the belief in juju, many preachers offer cures for cash. This practise was most recently revealed to be taking place in London, where three AIDS sufferers in the congregation of one of Nigeria’s wealthiest pastors, TB Joshua, are reported to have died after stopping their HIV treatments.

And it gets worse: three years ago, a documentary called Nigeria’s Witch Children was shown on UK Channel 4. This revealed horrendous and widespread abuse of children labelled as witches. While this happened because of traditional superstition, it was stirred up on a large scale by wealthy pastors who were selling “exorcisms” to their poor victims.

We’re used to thinking of missionaries as Europeans who go to preach in Africa. Now the flow is reversing – the Nigerian pastors are coming!

O is for Omnipresence

Once upon a time, God was a physical being who lived somewhere. In a primitive, tribal world where few people strayed far from their home village, that made sense; people could believe that a god or gods could be found on an island they’d never visit, across a sea they’d never cross, or up a mountain they’d never climb. Primitive gods aren’t fluffy, undetectable things like those of today; they have substance, appearance and location, and can be called upon at will to prove their existence. Moses, for example, was able to climb Mount Sinai (alone) to meet God and collect the tablets containing the ten commandments.

As people began travelling further afield, God became more elusive. The atheist rapper Greydon Square (who you should seek out if you enjoy intelligent hip-hop) said the following in the track Mission Statement on his album, The CPT Theorem:

I love how the gods used to live in the mountains, and when we moved to the mountains and never found them, then they went and moved to the sky, then we moved to the sky, but we didn’t find them there, and you’re wondering why.

… thus summarising the religious problem nicely. God is always to be found just beyond our reach. The heavens were once “up there” in the sky. But when mankind insisted on inventing flying machines and space rockets, heaven, like God, became an abstract, elusive thing. So if God is no longer somewhere, he must be everywhere – how else could he hear our prayers, check that we go to church or see us sin?

Omnipresence is only a temporary refuge for God. Having evolved from a physical being who intervenes in our affairs to a wispy cloud-thing who generally leaves us alone, he becomes a soft target for scientific reasoning, which grows stronger all the time. Of course, the power is still in the hands of the believers. All they need do to prove their case is provide evidence of God’s existence – and presumably they have some hidden away somewhere, ready to reveal at the right moment.

The Moron Dictionary

Afghanistan(n) – A scary place that came into existence in 2001

Armageddon(n) – End of the world. Happening any time now since 33AD

Bachmann(v) – Say the most insane thing with conviction, knowing that there’s someone stupid enough to believe it

China(n) – Evil country that lent Americans money without warning they’d have to pay it back
Climate change(n) – Dumb theory invented by evil scientists who want to stop Americans driving their cars for some reason I can’t think of at the moment
Communist(n) – An evil God-hating person who hides under your bed
Drill(v) – The solution to all our problems
Evil-doer(n) – See Communist
Fox(v) – Destroy someone’s ability to think for themselves
Freedom(n) – A nice word to put in your Twitter bio. No idea what it means
Gun(n) – Perfectly safe device, except when in the vicinity of people
Iran(n) – A scary place that came into existence in 1979Iraq(n) – A scary place that came into existence in 1990
Islam(n) – A scary religion that came into existence in 2001
Israel(n) – A great country created on a previously empty piece of land so that Jesus can come back
Marijuana(n) – An evil plant that turns Christians into Communists
Massacre(n)
1. Something bad that brown people do
2. Something sad but necessary that white people do
Oil(n) – A fantastic substance discovered by kind corporations in infinite quantities that causes no harm to anybody or anything whatsoeverPalin(v) – Make millions of dollars by pretending to be a politicianRiot(n)

1. An event of violent social unrest, carried out by evil criminals in England

2. An event of violent social unrest, carried out by good, oppressed people anywhere else

Science(n) – A bizarre set of theories designed by Communists to destroy civilisation as we know it
Somalia(n) – A scary place that came into existence in 1993
Terrorism(n) – An act of mass murder that kills white peopleTime Travel(n) – The method by which Obama caused the sub-prime mortgage disasterUS Constitution(n) – A great document that says guns are good and taxes are bad. That’s all it says, so don’t bother actually reading it

Vietnam(n) – A scary place that came into existence in 1955

Moron Alphabet: K-M


This is the latest in a series. See also:

K is for Kenya

Your average American moron only knows how to find countries that the US has bombed, because pretty much nowhere else will get the attention of Fox News. So Kenya hasn’t made it into the moron meme-pool until very recently. The East African country first sprang into existence (from the moron perspective) in 1998 when it was bombed (allegedly) by Osama bin Laden’s small terrorist group; not by “Al Qaida” though – this “global threat” wasn’t invented until 2001, when an enemy was needed in order to justify the “war on terror”.

Kenya is now most famous among a spectacularly moronic sect known as the birthers, for being the “probable” birthplace of Barack Obama. This extraordinary piece of wishful thinking comes about because if proven to have been born elsewhere, Obama would not qualify to stand as US president, and the “huge error” of inaugurating a black man as President could be undone (though of course, none of the people screaming about Obama’s ineligibility for the job is in any way racist!)

Birthers on Twitter continually scream that they want to see Obama’s birth certificate. The fact that it was posted online in 2008 doesn’t put them off at all, and nor does the fact that his birth was announced in Hawaiian newspapers in 1961. The latest high-profile moron to add his name to the birther calls is Donald Trump, who is making noises about a Presidential run in 2012, and making some extremely moronic statements in order to get media coverage. He’s been rewarded for this by regular appearances on Republican TV (sorry, I mean Fox News).

L is for Londonistan

Some words instantly brand their user as a moron, and Londonistan is one of these. It was apparently coined by French intelligence officials who were battling “Islamist” terrorists during the 1990s, and felt that British intelligence were being too soft (in fact France was a target of Algerian terrorists, due to its murderous activities in Algeria and because of the brutality with which racial minorities were being treated in France – but I digress).

The word was then adopted by Melanie Phillips, a far-right UK journalist, as the title of her book warning about the “Islamic threat”. Phillips is one of those people for whom Muslims can do nothing right while Israel can do nothing wrong; her journalism is also of the opinion-over-fact variety, and she will doubtless feature on this blog at greater length in future.

These days, the word is liberally thrown around by every Islamaphobic moron who has ever heard it, and is convinced that London has become a Shariah-run Caliphate and the entire UK will be next. The fact that I live in London, and have done my whole life, doesn’t deter random Europeans and Americans from telling me that I live in Londonistan, and if I haven’t noticed, I’m obviously stupid/a Muslim/a terrorist sympathiser. Now it’s true that there is a mosque within a minute of my home and that my area has a large Muslim community; it’s also true that my nearest 24-hour shop, where I buy haraam products like alcohol and bacon when I can’t be bothered to walk further, is run by Muslims. London is a largely secular place, and that includes the bulk of its Muslim community, many of whom enjoy a beer or a glass of wine with the rest of us.

I could also point out that London was never a victim of Islamist terror until our moron Prime Minister took us to a war in Iraq in March 2003. But as we know, morons much prefer hysterical myths to facts, and Londonistan is just one of many.

M is for Moron

Moron is my favourite word, as readers may have already noticed. I due use the term in a number of contexts, but I do try to apply it only when deserved. My usage includes the following cases:

  • People who tweet absurdly stupid things.
  • People who hate, publicly.
  • People who believe media stories, even when obviously made up.
  • Those who take their beliefs direct from highly biased sources like Fox News, without ever checking (learn to use Google, morons!)
  • Those who take part in the spread of lies (such as the birther lie) either believing them, or knowing they are false but spreading them anyway.
  • Religious people with particularly bizarre, strident or bigoted beliefs (despite being an atheist I don’t consider all believers to be “morons” – they have to have a special edge to qualify).
  • Politicians who lie. So basically: politicians.
  • Journalists who spread lies and myths either deliberately or through their own stupidity.
  • Members and supporters of particularly moronic groups.
  • And many more… I reserve the right to change my definition of moron whenever it suits me.

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