Thursday, 30 October 2008

Spread the wealth like Obama

With socialism and communism discredited, liberty and democracy conflated, the USA is imperial in her ignorance as she foists upon other nations words that she doesn’t understand.

Tell your population that the enemy eats babies. That’s the start. They did that in the First and Second World Wars. And they did that with the Covenanters in Scotland. They told us that they threw babies up the air and bayoneted them. First casualty of war is truth and all that – end justifies the whatsit. But sometimes when you daemonise the enemy, sometimes, it sticks.

There was a chap I knew. A communist. Smart lad. Once he went on holiday down south. Met a girl eight months pregnant. And in his tenderheartedness he married her; to save her the social opprobrium and ostracism that went with a baby out of wedlock. They had a nice life together. A radical opinion doesn’t mean you’re evil or after blood -- nice fellow; big heart; happy life. Progressive views: he’d have “spread the wealth”. But no piano wire, no backs to the wall, no blood in the gutters

Communist can be good people. So can priests. Clergy may be closer to God than many but under their cassocks they are only men.

Our local priest enjoyed a drink. He’d be there on a Saturday evening after mass – he never paid for a drink in his life – drinking with the coppers. Most of the constabulary would have one with most evenings after we kicked out the Sassenachs. If they didn’t turn up you knew there was going to be a raid.

One night Father M. and I got to talking and he asked me about communism. I closed my eyes. I tried my best to get into it, the spirit of the thing. And I told him about Marx, global communism, world peace. Opened my eyes to see him nodding sternly; “What you’ve just described, that’s Christianity”, he said.

And it’s certainly true that in those days, before the Soviets went kaput, it was held by some as a religion. But it’s also true that, if realized, communism couldn’t be much different from the early Christian visions of ideal society. Thomas Moore’s original Utopia, with all its promise and all its problems, was a Christian socialist paradise.

Together back when, Christianity and socialism couldn’t be further apart in modern America, as adherents to the former crucify the latter on the altar of a broken Soviet Union. With socialism and communism discredited (mere synonyms to the ilk of Fox News) and liberty and democracy conflated, the USA is imperial in its ignorance as it foists upon other nations words that it doesn’t understand.

If Obama is a socialist (that he ain’t, and more’s the pitty), maybe that is what America needs. But whatever he really thinks he must distance himself from the word, and the debate suffers as a result. That perfectly functional political terms are rendered defunct and publicly unutterable by ignorance must dismay any scholar.

The main point, and this the one that the materialist aspirations of a universal self-defined middle class will always misunderstand, is not about money. If there was a bit more socialism in America then the lowest common denominator would not be so low and when presidential candidates condescended to appeal to it their stooping would not so appall the rest of the civilized world.

Wednesday, 29 October 2008

Alaska: Come to Palin Country

Alaska is the America you all want to be. The 'real America', if you will (and any real American would). Every liberal has a secret hope for that final freedom. Every one of them wakes up at night in a cold sweat with a lonely vision of the frozen north and a longing to be so nowhere.

If you eavesdrop on your minds you’ll hear all sorts of noises that have nothing to do with who you are supposed to be. But sometimes it’s those noises that make you who you are. But Alaska is not only an important metaphor for your unconscious mind. It does other magic too. Whenever you that tingly pre-election feeling, that feeling that says 'heck, just vote crazy! Vote Republican', that is Alaska, my friend. That is the call of the wild.Smell the scent of a newborn lamb on a raining sunny afternoon -- that, my friends, is Alaska. Or a rotting elk in a snowy field: pure Alaska; pure as the driven Alaska snow.

Alaska is a State of the Union, a state of mind, and a statement of the key facts in handy bullet points, comme ça:

Alaska data that matter (aka AK Led Astray)
Here are Six Super Facts about ‘The Snowy State’:-

1. Alaska produces 3.5 percent of the USA’s total energy supply.

2. The whole state of Alaska has a smaller population than:
Ø San Francisco
Ø Jacksonville, FL
Ø Afghanistan’s Anbar Province
Ø the Union of the Comoros
Ø Texas’ 2nd congressional district
Ø the Church of Scientology
Ø Leeds
Ø half of Cyprus
Ø the adults in the Boy Scouts of America.
Ø the movie Ghandi (almost)

3. Alaska Statute 39.52.10(a) clearly states that [This ‘Super’ Fact has been removed as it was not in the spirit of superfun and was a thinly veiled leftwing-media-biased attempt at spoiling the fun of the election by implicating an ‘issue’ – Ed.]

4. The Governor of Alaska’s name is an anagram of ‘a liar has to punish a heel’, or, if you prefer, ‘Ha! I share to punish a seal’. [That’s better – Ed.]

5. The time taken to work out Super Fact Four really isn’t worth it.

6. And for our final fascinating Super Fact, The Top Three Most Worrying Things That Have Been Said In Alaska are:
Ø "I've been so focused on state government, I haven't really focused much on the war in Iraq." – Sarah Palin, Alaska Business Monthly, March 2007
Ø “I'm the mayor, I can do whatever I want until the courts tell me I can't.” – Sarah Palin after giving her office a makeover courtesy of the city highway fund.
Ø "I think God's will has to be done in unifying people and companies to get that gas line built, so pray for that." – Um, not sure who said this one -- let’s watch the video!

Tuesday, 28 October 2008

Distraught prank call victim blasts “shocking” BBC and “cruel sickos” Russell Brand and Jonathan Ross.

As anger mounts over the antics of Russell Brand and Jonathan Ross, Georgina Baillie steps forward to publicly condemn the pair and the BBC for their actions.

Andrew Sachs, beloved star of the classic British comedy Fawlty Towers, was to be interviewed by churlish fad Russell Brand for the latter's radio show. But when they could only get hold of his answering machine, Brand and guest boor Jonathan Ross responded by making a series of lewd phone calls to the 78-year-old veteran actor impugning the sexual conduct of his granddaughter and suggesting his suicide.

They called Sachs again to apologise for the original comments, but instead sang a song repeating the allegations.

Responding publically for the first time, the subject of the claims, Sachs' granddaughter Georgina Baillie said that she and her grandfather were “distraught” and “devastated” by the broadcast. Brand had made comments suggesting her grandfather might hang himself, and it is these Georgina identified as the most distressing.

A half-hearted apology from Brand via voicemail had led her to believe that it went out live and she was later “shocked” to find out that the prerecording was transmitted unedited.

Branding the pair “sick” and calling for them to be sacked, Georgina concluded that it is “sad that this is what entertainment has come to on the BBC”.

The interview will appear tommorow morning in London's Sun newspaper.

Monday, 20 October 2008

Matt Damon v. Sarah Palin: Crazy realities, 'political purposes' & bad movies

You’ll have all by now seen square-faced word-talker Matt Damon speaking words on Youtube. For those of you who have not, I’m here to help. Here is the transcript:

"Hi. I’m Matt Damon. Eurgh, oog, aww. She… I mean did she really …I need to know if she really… I want to know that, I really do I want to know, have you ever seen the rain? Dinosaurs…if she banned books we can't have that. I’m scared of mommy…goo goo ya boo wa waa…glug glug gloop pfffrrpthpuyup! Liberal dinosaurs.”

- Matt ‘Totally Absurd’Damon

Mmm, that’s good satire (not the sophisticated satire you were hoping for but pooh to you -- I’m a maverick.) Truth be told, I’m not sure what Matt Damon said; I couldn’t see his words past his massive Lego head. But the well manicured point is this: President Sarah Palin has captured the imagination and the hearts of the Yankee people in a way that Matt Damon could only ever come close to doing on screen. Like me, she’s a maverick and she’s gonna shake things up, just you wait. When the railroad comes to Alaska she’ll be blowing steam right there with it chugging along like a little bespectacled engine that could ride shotgun with Jesus into a new age of New Age Reaganomic hokum Christian homemade folksy natural political remedies. (Commas will have no place in this brave new world [Jesus never used them] – Sorry people this close to an election it’s all about the rant!)

And she’s not just a (said with an all-too-educated liberal sneer) "hockey mom", she’s the Daddy of hockey moms. Sure, as some tittle-tattlers have been gossiping (see the report), she may not do things ‘ethically’ and conform to your bigcityways. Sure, she killed a baby moose to refurbish her lipstick. But, dangnabit, given the choice between that and sipping latte enemas in a hippie tofu I’d be skinning seal pups in the Land of the Folksy Twilight faster than you can betcha. And, frankly Damon, she would, and probably will, make one heckuva film.

Oh, yeah, Damon! Bring it on! You think your joking, but that’s a movie I’d like to see! I can hear the deep velvety voice of trailer now:

Wildly maverick. Impossibly well-groomed. A down-home folksy rebel. For the first 40 years of her life, Will Hunti...ahem, Sarah Palin has called the shots. Now she's about to meet her match…the world.
…hmm, this sounds familiarly trite and folksy and yet, underneath all that, cynically manipulative…Has Sarah Palin made movies before?…

Some people can always believe in themselves because they were never taught to ask questions, until some country believes in them…and makes them Vice President.
Hang on a minute! The Sarah Palin Story isn’t a bad Disney movie! – it’s a bad Matt Damon movie! ‘Good Moose Hunting’, anyone? I’m just planting seeds. But for those of you still convinced it needs this Disney treatment, this trailer has got the right idea on that one.

This week 'Long Island's Very Own' Angelo has given his regular Monday post one of those nifty footnote-singnature things, just like a real columnist.

Friday, 17 October 2008

Wednesday, 15 October 2008

How to Get Noticed in America

Top tips to help Uncle John McCain see if he can't put the McCain back into 'election campMcCaingn' as we limber up to Long Island and D3.

Stand out from the crowd with the Top Three 3 Sure-fire Steps to the reaction you deserve.

 Be a hero. An American hero. America loves a hero.
 Accept your party’s – chose one – nomination for President.
 DO NOT under any circumstance BE JOHN MCCAIN.

That last one’s toughie, but it’s essential.

I’m down in Long Island to see if Drunk Uncle John McCain can refocus the focus of this increasingly folksy election focus by focussing on the issues that matter to ordinary American folk -- us. Yes, us – you and me – we, the people, need to reengage with this election on the level of substance rather than gloss and cheap shots. This will be a tall order for either candidate at tonight’s debacle debate. If you’re not convinced about how bad it’s gotten, just read the superficial dross that even I am spouting.

Oh, don’t look at me like that. Please, not with those big old prison camp puppy dog eyes. It’s a mess of your own making. You got us here and now you’ve only yourself to blame. You chose her. Your little stunt worked too well. And now the weather report shows that it’s hailin’ Sarah Palin! And I’m not complainin’.

If you’ve formed an exploratory committee, sussed out your options, and it turns out that there’s no way around it – you are Sen. John McCain, then, well, then there’s only one thing for it: you could have a go at grabbing back some airtime by being Noticeable Matt Damon as well.

This might seem at first like an even tougher call. Being two people is something you’re not used to doing; it might seem difficult. No need to worry: Matt ‘Noticeable’ Damon himself has been two people for years: Matt ‘Notable’ Damon, the fair-to-middling (should that be 'meddling'? - Ed.) 'Thespian' who needs a prompter to soliloquize anything longer than his own name, even when he himself wrote it; and yet at the same time the astute political genius Matt ‘Look at Me!’ Damon, who can use elected officials as sounding-boards for his own ignorance and America will act like he matters.

Monday, 6 October 2008

Down-home truths

The cold and the frost are here, and as I watch the 2008 United States vice-presidential debate the temperature drops below freezing; Sarah Palin sends a shiver down my spine.

As the nights draw darkly, temperatures tremble in the breeze, and dawn won’t break till morning I can begin to feel the creek in my bones that signals the onset of another cold Alaskan winter. This afternoon I moved my bed into a warmer room. I wedged it up against the stove with a chair. If I don’t have it jammed it squeaks and rattles and frightens the life out of me. The thought struck me that in this respect it couldn’t be unlike a Sarah Palin presidency.

Vice-presidential candidate Sarah Palin visiting KuwaitPalin comparison
Although there’s a certain economy of discourses of truth adhered to at these events that is not to my taste, I watched the 2008 United States vice-presidential debate. Perhaps the cold was making me hungry, but the exchange reminded me of nothing more than fish. Joe Biden shark-smiled teeth like razors, but the thriller from Wasilla too proved she’s more than a minnow: Alaskan king salmon are popular for sport because they put up a good fight when you get them on the hook. Palin might sometimes look like a fish out of water but her Last Frontier pioneer spirit we see her through a ropey start to the bitter end, whichever way this tough cookie crumbles. Or put another way, there’s that small-town parochial partisan pettiness that’ll keep her fighting all the way. (One of her first acts as Wasilla mayor was to fire the police chief who’d supported her opponent.)

Whiter shade of Palin
Wasilla is also the name of the Ossetian god of storms. So it is in a way appropriate that Palin should cause a storm in a teacup on entering politics and a furor on her ascent to the national stage. However, the town’s name actually commemorates a Dena' ina Athabascan Indian Chief whose name meant “breath of air”. Whether this was fresh air or hot air was not specified. There might have been a lot of the latter down in Whitman County Thursday, but it’ll be an ill wind blowing in Washington if there’s a Palin Vice Presidency in the wind, and then we’ll all be left to twist in an extended metaphor that’s worn thinner than the Sarah Palin end of a regressive and ignorant conservative wedge.

Palin to insignificance
Regardless of which way the vice-presidential wind is blowing, the wind in the land of the midnight sun is very definitely cold. The doors bang and the windows rattle and the wind gently rocks the dilapidated cabin. I close my eyes for a while and listen to the chill wind shrieking around the old relic. It's a John McCain of a house and a wind that’s not unlike the Sarah Palin candidacy.

Thursday, 2 October 2008

Folksy tales from the brave new world

I know it doesn’t matter – and you know it doesn’t matter – but if he didn’t quote The Tempest with quite such a simpering smile I wouldn't find myself wondering whether he can bowl as well as Obama.

But Joe Biden did. And while he does, and being of the old Wilde school of not attributing his sources, Palin’s modesty to misattribute her quotes is all the more notable. Those given to Anglo-American comparison should note that it was with something more subtle than the way our own Chameleon Cameron crowbarred a Thatcher salute into an otherwise rather progressive season of political party conferences, Sarah Palin's shining city on a hill was calculated to give the illusion that she’d quoted Ronald Reagan twice, and almost made you think that she’s read more Reagan than Winthrop. This illusion meant that she could court the Reaganites of the grand old party faithful without outraging the moderates, a reconciliation whose Tory counterpart Chameleon Cameron has still to fathom.

Unlike Cameron’s speech, in which they were both crammed uncomfortably into his one person, the 2008 United States vice-presidential debate saw accommodation and partisanship healthily apportioned between the two candidates, but at times with equally comic results: the beautiful and (genuinely) moving family-guy Biden emotion was sadly undermined by his repeated claim to “love” Sen. John McCain.

Wednesday, 1 October 2008

The Third Man

Lately, Chameleon Cameron has shown all the symptoms (in my medical opinion) of a man trapped in a Graham Greene novel or two.

It began with a friendly smile and as few policies as he could get away with – as long as nothing happens anything is possible. Like Our Man in Havana, he talked a good game, painted castles in the sky, but when you actually looked closely for the policies you saw that it was all really an elaborate vacuum. As with Noel Coward in the film adaptation, one found his style mildly amusing yet couldn’t but wonder whether he was at all capable of the seriousness the role demands.

In the old Tory days the heartless Thatcherites could swallow hard, close their eyes, tick the box, and think of England because they at least knew what they were getting. There was something secure in its vulgarity. You could appeal to them as you could to an English policeman, because you knew their thoughts. But Chameleon Cameron is a stranger bird. With a man in search of a character the road to Conservative policy is a journey without maps.

And yet – and yet – just recently, in the rubble of our financial institutions (where it is not too early for some to speculate on the death-throes of capitalist decadence), has he found one? With his newfound seriousness could he have gone from hug-a-hoodie wetness to his very own metaphoric megaphonic climb-the-debris-and-hug-a-fireman moment?

Remember when Tony Blair really started to get into the war. To properly loose himself in the role. When his matey straight-guy stuff got supplemented with sub-Churchill grandiloquence. Well, all of a sudden the heir to Blair seems to have been taking the same hubris pills and has begun to strike statesmanly poses. Chameleon Cameron approaches a season of political party conferences like one might a state funeral. Poseur he may be, but reaching out pseudo-bipartisan hands to a plodding and doddering Gordon Brown is such astute political flimflam that when he slaps on a serious haircut and concernedly pursed lips one hardly notices that he admonishes D. Miliband for claiming there’s no such thing as society in the same speech as thanking heaven for Thatcher.

But, at this point, however dishonest the mockery – or perhaps the praise – one fears that the brute fact of D. Miliband might be enough. While Brown may have gravitas to spare there’s no doubt that Chameleon Cameron can out-solemnise the pretenders. When you add to that the specific fact that he looks more and more dignified every time D. Miliband shows his gurning phizog in public you can’t help fancying his chances.