Friday, August 06, 2004

Yes, but how is it like an onion?

Dammit, If the Times is going to tell me the US presidential election is like an onion it better be able to back it up. This article promises to enlighten me on Presidential/Vegetable links, but then fails to deliver with not a single onion reference in the article. Damn you Times sub-editor, you onion loving tease.

Why this presidential election is like an onion, The Times.

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Thursday, August 05, 2004

Funny how

I remember a song from when I was a kid that had the most superb chorus. It went "Funny How the girls you fall in love with don't fancy you, Funny how the ones you don't do." Can't remember anything else about it.

I just noticed that Busted's entire oeuvre is based on that chorus.

What do you mean, where's the serious policy analysis? If I have to endure Sven and the FA part 523, with a special guest appearance by Max F88888g Clifford, of course my brain is going to turn to mush.

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Asterix and the Sky falling in

Surely the correct title for any satire on terrorist warnings. Feel free to supply your own satires.

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Wednesday, August 04, 2004

No-one likes me!

Yet another blog award and list is out, and apparently I've not been shortlisted for or included in it. (Actually, despite my casual mention of this award as if it were of no consequence whatsoever, I sank to a personal low of self nomination for this one.)

I blame media bias. There's just no room for anonymous slavish devotees of the Labour line in the limited view of the world held by the corporate lackeys that "judge" these competitions. Oh yes, the're scared because I tell the truth to the MAN and that truth is "Good job, carry on,, hear, hear and fair play old boy".

They can't cope with that, these so called "journalists" and "editors". I pity the fools for their mediocrity.*

Have no fear, my stout hearted readers, you happy few that have cut through the self selecting so called "best blogs" I know you can see real quality not swarm around those bedecked with the tinsel and fools gold of awards. So despite these futile efforts by the corrupt oligarchy of website editors to break my spirit and hide my light under their electronic bushel of doom, with your support I shall continue to write lengthy posts expounding my pet theories in long, ungrammatical, badly formatted posts that appear at best semi-regularly. You are all my rocks.

No Surrender!

*I refuse to consider the possibility that this site is not the sine qua non of British Political blogging as this would destroy my fragile ego and lead me into a spiral of depression, inertia and lethargy similar to that experienced by cultists when the world fails to end on the appointed day.

You wouldn't want that on your conscience, so be nice in the comments.**

** and if you do want to leave comments, remember, You're commenting on a blog that has by general consensus been termed not very good in a very limited field of blogs, so where does that leave you, eh? Remember, being nice to me is good for your ego too. We're in this together, losers.***

***Which obviously extends to even reading this blog, as while reading a third rate blog is less sad than commenting on it, it is more sad than not reading a th.ird rate blog at all****

**** Though the most sad thing would be wanting to read and comment on this blog and not being able too because it had gone offline. Yeah, I might take this blog offline and keep it to myself, and when this blog was dead, then you'd be sorry. Yes, then you'd all be like, "Oh British Spin, why didn't we praise you and put you on our best weblog lists and show you love and respect when we had the chance, and now you're gone and we miss your trenchant yet lucid reportage on the minutae of politics and we've missed our chance to tell you" and I'd be watching you and laughing becuase I could see that you were sad now, but it was too late and there was nothing you could do, even though you'd all the website editors would realise their mistakes and beg me to come back with tears streaming down their faces, but I'd just stalk off and start a new blog and you'd never know it was me even after it won all the blog awards ever and I was more famous than atrios or anyone.

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Tuesday, August 03, 2004

Worst. Candidate. Ever.

It has come to my attention that people are attacking John Kerry for being out of touch with ordinary America. I agree.

He’s out of touch with the man on the street. How can he be President for all America in a time of crisis?

Here’s some documentary support for these allegations.

He’s from an elite upper class blue blood background.

He’s only ever worked on wall street and in government

Check out his five mansions. In fact he’s got more houses than he knows what to do with.

He’s into rich mans pastimes, not regular sports.

He lives a millionaire elite lifestyle.

Pushy wife who says controversial things.

Family Values problems.

Even his friends say he's a flip-flopping, finger in the air, vacillator.

And for the comedy Mark Steyn and Ann Coulter columns... Why, even his Dog flip-flops.

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Monday, August 02, 2004

In praise of Huey Long

August’s newspapers are full of distinguished editors writing articles about what they’re doing on their holidays. Today,
Peter Preston visits the Gret Stet of Louisiana and devotes an article in the Guardian to wondering why Huey Long is remembered. Curiously, he doesn’t seem to think Long’s achievements and beliefs have much of a part to play in the discussion.

Here, in total, is Preston’s summary of Huey Long’s achievements

“He had built bridges and roads and airports and universities.
He had dragged Louisiana into the 20th century. He began his climb on the state rail commission, making the trains run on time. Yet he was also a brutal demagogue, malign and utterly controlling”

A small description, but at least Huey fares better than poor Earl Long, his younger brother, who was three times governor of Louisiana and deemed the most effective liberal in the south by no less a figure than A J Liebling. Earl gets only one dismissive sentence from Preston about his relationship with a stripper.

So let me talk a little of Huey Long.

First of all, Long was no Mussolini “trains run on time” dictator. He was elected to the Louisiana State Rail Commission in 1918, having gained his reputation suing Standard Oil on behalf of injured workers, but his real fame came when this body expanded to the Public Services commission where he fought, and won, battles to secure lower electricity, gas and telephone prices for Louisiana, he increased taxes on Standard oil, cut rail fares and attacked the cosy relationship between the governing elite and the business world.

Yes, when he won election as Governor in 1928, he had his own clique. Indeed he told those who backed him that “those of you who come in early will get a big piece of the pie, those who come in later will get a small piece of the pie and those who don’t come in at all will get… good government.” He disbursed contracts to those who backed him for kickbacks, he gave jobs to supporters on condition of a portion of the salary.

But consider the alternatives. His opponents were financed by personal wealth and contributions from businesses who got favourable trading, low taxes and an easy life in return. This small elite had run Louisiana for decades and occupied every tier of public life. They were brought and paid for by Standard Oil and the like.

The result? A state that floated on oil had the highest illiteracy rates in the union, only 330 miles of paved roads, no pension system and no decent university. Huey was corrupt, but in a very different way to his rivals. It was a corruption aimed at the maintenance of power to change Louisiana forever. And change Louisiana he did. One of his associates, Gerald Smith,
defended him in the pages of the Nation with the following list of Long’s achievements.

“Severance taxes were levied on oil, gas, lumber and other natural resources, which made possible free schoolbooks for all children, black and white, rich and poor, in public and private schools.

“Telephone rates were cut, gas rates were cut, electric rates were cut; night schools were opened up and 149,000 adults were taught to read and write.

“Then came free ferries, new free bridges, 5,000 miles of paved and improved roads (six years ago, we had only seventeen miles of pavement in Louisiana); a free medical school was built, as fine as any in the country. Free school buses were introduced.

“The assembly of workers for organization was guaranteed, new advantages were created for the deaf, the blind, the widows, the orphans and the insane, the penitentiary was modernized, traveling libraries were introduced and improved highways were forced through impassable swamps.

“Recently poll taxes were abolished, giving the franchise to 300,000 who had never voted. Legislation has been passed, removing all small homes and farms from the tax roll. This means that 95 percent of the Negro population will be tax free. This transfers the tax burden from the worker to those who profit by his labor.”

Oh, and one other reason for liking Long? The Louisiana media hated him. He had to found his own newspaper to get his message across. He did it too, sending thousands of copies to his “Share the Wealth” clubs set up across the nation. Today, he’d probably have a blog and be raising thousands of the internet.

I suspect the appeal of Huey Long is best put by a 20 year veteran of the senate, another former depression era governor, from a State as different from Louisiana as it is possible to be,
Republican Senator William Langer of North Dakota **

“I doubt whether any other man was so conscious of the plight of the underprivileged or knew better the ruthlessness of those in control. And it was because Huey Long knew how to fight, knew how to fight fire with fire, knew how to combat ruthlessness with ruthlessness, force with force, and because he had the courage to battle unceasingly for what he conceived to be right that he became an inspiration for so many in their own fight for a square deal, and the object of such relentless persecution on the part of his enemies.

"The fight he waged was such a desperate one that even in death he has not been immune from attack. So we find that 5 years after his body had been lowered into the grave – that grave which will forever be a shrine for those who love decency, honor, and justice – attempts are still being made to besmirch his character.”

"This is not fooling the farmer, the worker, the small businessman; it is not fooling the child who can read today because of the free textbooks that Huey Long obtained; it is not fooling the citizen who can vote today because Huey Long abolished poll taxes.”

One liberal Long opponent explained this strange distaste for Long, and perhaps also for Johnson, Nye Bevan and every other larger than life figure of the left with a superb contempt for the electorate.

“Old-age pensions, unemployment insurance, a balance supply and demand, wealth spread—these have been the war cries of modern economists long before the New Deal was supposed to begin its attack on Big Business.

“But where the student of economics presents his suggestions through an impersonal, systematic theory, whose appeal is primarily to the rational, Huey and his high priest strike home to the emotions, the hates and the desires, the superstitions of the under-privileged poor-white class… …those near-disenfranchised, lethargic and doomed relics of a ruinous agricultural system”*

Or as Nye Bevan might have put it:

"I know that the right kind of leader for the Labour Party is a dessicated calculating machine who must not in any way permit himself to be swayed by indignation.

"If he sees suffering, privation or injustice he must not allow it to move him, for that would be evidence of the lack of proper education or of absence of self-control. He must speak in calm and objective accents and talk about a dying child in the same way as he would about the pieces inside an internal combustion engine."

In the end, it’s not the politician the elite hates, it’s the voter, in all his ignorance, gluttony and lethargy, this voter who demands privileges and tolerates corruption and personal failings in order to get what he wants.

Quite unlike the urbane businessman and the charming lobbyist who one meets in pleasant restaurants, isn’t he?

Peter Preston wonders why Americans remember politicians like Long. It’s simple. The people remember the achievement, the media remember the scandals. See under Clinton, WJ.

* In the original quote the description on the lethargic poor white precedes the quote, I have moved it to follow it for clarity of expression only. If anyone feels this is unfair, I'll change it.
** You need to scroll down for the quote

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