Wednesday, September 30, 2009

Say it ain't so, Alan NTM!!!!!!!!!!

Like all of us, I have been waiting with 'bated breath for the "Big News" promised for Democratiya - the Summer issue was scrapped to free up time for Alan "not the front-runner for next leader of the Labour Party" Johnson to produce a massive new redesign project incorporating community features, Facebook, Twitter and all sorts of other things. All we knew about the project was that a) it would be a surprise and b) it would be in September (thus informing all game theorists that it was logically impossible for it to ever happen).

And now it's the end of September and the big project is .... He's sold[1] the whole thing to a longstanding US lefty magazine only remembered for a Woody Allen joke. Chiz chiz chiz maximus chiz in ezxcelschiz. Democratiya will live on in a page inaccessible from the front page of the Dissent website. All previous links to Decentiya are broken. And so it goes ...

[1] At least I hope he got something for it, that thing had readers once. No implication was intended that Alan NTM has personally profited (or otherwise), btw.

Tuesday, September 29, 2009

We have been remiss

We have not lived up to (down to?) our name. Our namesake was pretty good last week,* but this week he really justified his gig. We've discussed Kaminski before., when I said

I think this is going to bite the Tories, have things really got so mad that only Muslims' objectionable views draw comments from the right?

Our Dave still counts as being on the left, so he doesn't prove me wrong, but this is good to read.

William Hague, the Shadow Foreign Secretary, has given no clue as to what that state of matters-not- restingness might consist of. Instead, he has reassured his party that he means business and, as evidence of this, he cited how he and Mr Cameron had gone ahead with their 2005 pledge to pull the Tories out of the centre-right European People’s Party grouping in Europe, and create a new group — the European Conservatives and Reformists.

It is hard to imagine, except for the most blinkered Little Englander, a more catastrophic precedent. The EPP has people like Angela Merkel in it, the ECR has the Latvian Fatherland and Freedom Party (earning a rebuke from the Simon Wiesenthal Foundation because of its support for an annual parade by Latvian SS veterans), the EPP has President Sarkozy’s party, the ECR has, as chairman, the Polish member of the Law and Justice Party, Michal Kaminski, who has described homosexuals on air as “faggots” and demanded that Jews apologise to Poles for supposed “mass collaboration” with Soviet invaders.

I don't know why this isn't getting more coverage. This is an incredibly serious decision which reveals something of the character of the Tory Party. How the EU takes shape will affect all our lives, and the Tories have decided to play silly buggers. I was thinking of voting Tory at the next election as the best tactical vote to remove my incumbent MP. I really don't think I can do that now.

I also particularly liked "There is no progressive agenda, Mr Cameron, that isn’t internationalist." I'm a bit worried that that might just be re-heated Leninist cant, but if so, it's re-heated Leninist cant that sounds right to me. Good stuff delivered to the right audience. The comments don't address what he says at all; they're just the more or less automated responses any column which mentions the EU gets. My favourite starts "The EEC/EU, or whatever it is being called this week, is nothing less than Hitler's Dream Come True." Ignorance** and Godwin. Fail.

*I agreed with him.

** If any readers are too young to remember the EEC, the EU absorbed the European Economic Community in 1993 when the Maastricht Treaty came into force.

Falsehood, distortion and propaganda

But I should say for the record that although his Flat Earth News website announces that Davies "takes the lid off newspapers and broadcasters, exposing the mechanics of falsehood, distortion and propaganda," my experience of serious print journalists and broadcasters is that they do not engage in falsehood, distortion and propaganda.

Nick Cohen (who we're watching due to popular demand: thanks to BenSix et al in comments to previous post). Two minor points: the word 'serious' here means "well, journalists who do so engage aren't serious by definition" - so this is fact-proof. In my experience, many writers for newspapers and magazines engage in all three regularly.* And I think Nick Davies knows as much about journalists (serious, comic, or otherwise) as Nick does.

But wow, what a grudging apology.

*OK, the ones who stay employed are usually careful about falsehood, but distortion is very common. See Ben Goldacre's Bad Science site for examples of piss-poor journalism. Having not read it, I said I’d regard it with caution, because it might be true, but being on the front page of the Express is not necessarily a reliable predictor of something being true,... Does anyone think that's a libel on the good name of the Daily Express? A journalist whose story is on the front page of a national newspaper could be said to be successful in her chosen career. The National daily newspaper circulation August 2009 shows that the Express outsells the Guardian by more than 2-1. Doesn't it employ anyone 'serious'?

Monday, September 21, 2009

Court in Session!

Why did no one tell me that Decentpedia was back? Comrade Muscular has excelled himself with Case Law.

James & Cohen vs. Western Feminists, Australian Local Intelligentsia, Australian Multiculturalist Ideologues, Legions of Australian Female Pundits, Western Female Thinkers, Writers In The Serious Newspapers, The Experts In Our Feminist Movement, The Irresponsible Semi-Intelligentsia, The Pampered Intelligentsia & Anti-Western Feminists

Via Sarah Ditum's post Condemning misogyny in Standpoint.

I'm always distrusting of men who claim to be feminist. As the term is used by newspapers today, any opinion put forth in print by a woman is by definition feminist. The corollary being that any thought which crosses a woman's head started life in her genitals. It's like Simone de Beauvoir never happened! As Sarah and Malky Muscular point out, James and Cohen attack feminists (ie women) for NOT condemning genital mutilation. Well, of course there's nothing misogynistic in men attacking women. The very thought.

I think it's worth pointing out that Greer and James were (and still are?) friends. A quick Googling found Greer's page at the University of Sydney from 2005:

Indeed Clive James and Germaine Greer were fellow students in the same small English tutorial group. It is reliably reported that no-one else could get a word in edgeways. Little wonder that Cambridge Footlights, that famous student review company, lists its two stars of 1967 as Germaine Greer and Clive James, still life-long friends and accomplices.

Almost entirely unrelated, I came across this marvellous piece on David Brooks (via DougJ of Balloon Juice) which reminds me of Nick Cohen.

Sunday, September 20, 2009

Out of sight, out of mind?

Nick writes:

All I want is an honest admission that our apparently egalitarian society is kept going by the labour of the vulnerable and the voiceless and that it would be no more than decent if the incessant arguments about whether women in the City should receive seven-figure rather than six-figure bonuses were accompanied by a determination to end the suffering of the poor women on whose unreported work so much of our world depends.

Hmm, I wonder how much of Nick's lifestyle is sustained by brown people slaving their butts off for pittance? Oh, I see, those brown people are confined to their own countries, in rice paddies, on coffee plantations, and in food processing plants and similar.

Wednesday, September 16, 2009

The Euston Manifesto, a reminder .....

We hold the fundamental human rights codified in the Universal Declaration to be precisely universal, and binding on all states and political movements, indeed on everyone. Violations of these rights are equally to be condemned whoever is responsible for them and regardless of cultural context.

Here's the Harry's Place thread on the Goldstone report.

Any betting on Professor Norm's reaction? Or Michael Walzer's?

Tuesday, September 15, 2009

Unsupported by dignity of thought

rant: n high sounding language unsupported by dignity of thought

Johnson's Dictionary (BBC)

Editorial Intelligence (surely an oxymoron? -- Ed and no, I've not heard of it/them either) are somehow responsible for something called the "Comment Awards". Here are the nominees. Here are the judges. Can you spot a name on both lists? (Hint: it's Iain Dale.) I'm impressed by such impartiality!

Actually, the judges are a diverse lot, which makes the overwhelming middle-aged white maleness of the nominees even more depressing. Rachel Sylvester who appears alongside our Dave in today's Times seems to me a far more insightful "Political Commentator" than Daniel Finkelstein (who made the short list). Middle-aged white maleness is forgivable in the case of Chris Dillow - up for "Online Commentator (independent blogger)" against Iain Dale and Guido Fawkes - because he's actually smart. I'm not even going to waste time on the meaning of 'independent' here. Chris is IIRC still a Labour member so I imagine to some people he's just as non-independent as the two Tories.

But what of our Dave? He's on two shortlists. "Commentariat of the Year" (I'm not making that up) against Johann Hari of the Independent and Martin Wolf of the FT.

You may want to check your incredulity at this point. Bullshit detectors will not work as advertised when reading the following paragraph. You have been warned.

Dave's second nomination is for "Poison Pen: Polemicist of the Year, sponsored by Demos." (That's Demos the allegedly left wing think tank.) The opposition comes from Johann Hari (again!) and Richard Littlejohn of the Mail.

The Awards Nomination Criteria PDF state:

Judges will be looking for commentators whose style of writing is acerbic, witty, or even straightforward, but that has the desired effect of ruffling feathers. The awards will go to a writer in any media (online, offline, newspaper or magazine) who has managed to deliver an unexpected twist to their piece or writing. Judges will base their award on several pieces.

This isn't what a polemic is at all. Desiring to ruffle feathers has a much simpler definition. It's "being a cunt." And one of the shortlist meets that criterion admirably. I hope you can see why I chose to start with Dr Johnson, even if "high sounding language" is not exactly appropriate.

Well, all I can say is I hope Demos (which is a charity by the way) feels that its sponsorship money was wisely spent if the not-at-all-racist-apart-from-hating-Muslims-and-gypsies columnist takes the prize. Being associated with Richard Littlejohn in the public imagination for all time has got to be worth a few grand of anyone's money.

Anyone aware of "unexpected twists" in Dave's writing?

Update Thursday 10:26 am. Sarah Ditum (whom you should read, BTW) posts on this too, via which I've learned that Steven Poole is posting again and has a good post on Johann Hari. I don't imagine that the mockery of a few bloggers will mean anything to the sponsors or the recipients of these awards, but it won't hurt to try. If we get any further comments, I'll probably belabour this point again.

Tuesday, September 08, 2009

Video killed the radio star civilians

Haven't we been down this road before? Yes we have, and I strongly suspect that this will be one post that more than justifies the "Next weeks columns" link in our right hand sidebar. As always, the jihadis make a video that says "this is revenge for your foreign policy!" and the Decents say "see? it's all because of Sayyid Qutb, you just can't reason with these people? Hey ho.

Bonus ball: "consider that this bumbling scion also told Megrahi on his flight home, in front of media cameras, that his release was “on the table” whenever oil and gas deals were discussed. These are plausible claims that have so embarrassed the already anemic administration of British Prime Minister Gordon Brown that he has tried shunt all responsibility for this scandal onto Scotland, a country that is still part of the United Kingdom and exercises limited self-government. (It taxes the imagination of most Britons to think that had London exerted even the slightest pressure on Edinburgh to stop the transfer of such a high-profile criminal it would have failed to do so.)"

Bonus bonus: This Week In Decent Abuse of Human/Panda Rights Organisations: A collector of second world war memorabilia works for Human Rights Watch and the World Widlife Fund is responsible for what advertising agencies do with campaigns they've rejected

Monday, September 07, 2009

Nuffink to do wiv me, guv

And Aaro notices the casuals and their Muslim equivalents, duking it out on the streets of Birmingham, and concludes … well, not very much, as far as I can see. Young men (or at least, British young men) want to have a fight, and so that's what they're doing, in Birmingham because there wasn't much to do in Brum over the summer while the footie wasn't on.

And so, of course, avoids discussion of the awkward subject of where it was that a load of soccer hooligans (who, frankly, don't look all that young to me, and the fact that they are referring to themselves as "casuals", a roughly twenty years' past tense youth cult, seems relevant) got the idea that England needed defending against a tide of Islamist immigrant bogeymen, and that you could march around protesting about this without being necessarily racist. Wonder who (and whose mates) have been spending the last five years getting that idea front and centre in the national newspapers then?