Monday, January 24, 2011

Behind every dictator lies a strong woman apparently

Some wonderfully panicked twisting and turning in this BBC article, as a Ghanaian journalist flies in the face of the facts of her own article, it's really rather funny...

The first few paragraphs summarise a list of horrific "first ladies" of dictatorships, and the accompanying suggestion that they are often as responsible as their dictator husbands for the suffering inflicted.
"Every revolution, every hated dictator, indeed, it seems every leader must have its femme fatale, the Lady Macbeth figure who is held responsible for the problems of the regime. "
However, Ghanaian writer and politician Elizabeth Ohene evidently realises she's forgotten to blame society and men for all this, so panics and slips in a major non-sequitur:
"I wonder why we always seem to need to find a powerful woman behind every strongman."
Ah, so it's in fact the finding of the woman that is the issue. And by the way, "powerful"? Really? Is that a good word to describe Leila Trabelsi, who stole 1.5 tonnes of gold from the Tunisian central bank, leaving her beloved country even more fucked, as if Tunisia needed the help after her husband's efforts.

But I digress. Back to the BBC, where we learn some interesting facts about the Mugabes.

Apparently, Robert Mugabe has an "intimidating intellect", and "has been known to reduce his opponents to silence in arguments".

I'm pretty sure that his arguing style is much on a par with Kim Jong-Il's! I don't think opponents are stunned into silence by Mugabe's verbosity and vast knowledge of political history. No, I'm pretty sure his army of thugs have a similar effect.

Not only that, but he is apparently "under his wife's spell to such an extent that he would do anything she asks him to do".

Fascinating. What is the conclusion to all this?
I wonder if it is possible for a man to become autocratic without a strong woman by his side?
A strong woman? This isn't a Destiny's Child song FFS, we're not talking Oprah here, these are the wives of Dictators, men who have thought nothing of starving and murdering their people in order to line their own pockets. The women that Ms. Ohene mentions are at best complicit and at worst encouraging of this behaviour.

And all she can think of is to wonder if an autocrat needs a "strong woman".

Ten ideas for a crapper Britain

Komment Macht Frei carries a 10-point plan to make the UK even worse than it already is, from the notorious Will Hutton. They are in fairness not all totally wrong, but some of them are truly idiotic.

1. Break up the banks
I can live with this actually, in principle, but it would help if there was an acknowledgement that the ridiculously complicated regulatory environment has forced banks to become larger and larger in order to cover these costs and keep up with it all. Reduce the regulatory bureaucracy and barriers to entry and you would indeed improve the banking sector. Not convinced these are his motives.

2. Build Great Companies.
This is a stinker, and worth quoting in full:
Too few British firms have good owners. Two more important companies – Smith and Nephew, and De La Rue – are fighting to retain their independence from foreign takeovers. Their shareholders do not care about innovation, their staff or customers; their priority, and thus that of the directors, is only next month's share price. Increasingly Britain is a hollowed out economy for hire rather than a centre of business decision-making and wealth generation in its own right. There has to be root-and-branch overhaul of the framework for owning, directing and launching takeovers of Britain's companies.
So basically foreign ownership is bad, Will has no solutions, so we should start with roots and branches. Really, this is 6th-form stuff, blindly blaming shareholders. Shareholders do care about "innovation, their staff or customers" because that is what drives the share price. Shareholders tend to want their companies to be successful and well-run. That is why you invest in a company.

3. Bust the Monopolies

4 Abolish Redundancy Payments
Why do I sense in this some sort of increased state intervention coming up?

5 Livelihood Insurance
Whoooomph there it is! Surely this is a bit like National Insurance, except I guess everyone will still pay National Insurance, right?

6 A Citizen Grant of £50'000 for every 21-year-old
Oh no, sorry, whoooooooooooomph THERE it is. Now that is special. And where pray tell might this money come from? Oh, you planted some beans? Should be fine then.

7 Payback time for babyboomers
Some interesting thoughts here actually. Probably the least bad of his ideas.

8 An end to parents-pay education
Private schools should ... be compelled to admit, through competitive examination, children from households with less than £40,000 a year. Their fees would be paid by the government.
Ah yes, the problem is private schools, not the parlous state of the state school system. Why not just bring back grammar schools, if you want competitive examinations?

9 An Honest Media
I agree, but bwahahahahahahahahahahahahahahahahahaha good luck with that.

10 A written constitution along with proportional voting
I don't think this would make a blind bit of difference but there you are. This is instructive however:
In particular, there should be an entrenching of local government's power: it should have the constitutional right to raise up to half its revenue from local taxation.
That is the extent of Will's ability to imagine what local government power should look like - how much tax they can raise. Sad.

And to avoid accusations of being negative for the sake of it, here is my 3-point plan for a better Britain.

1. Get the fuck out of our lives, just stop bloody interfering and remember that you work for us.
2. Stop fighting pointless, never-ending wars to distract from what is going on at home.

Actually, that'll do for starters, there you go, a 2-point plan!

Friday, January 21, 2011

Michelle Obama Killing Pedestrians

I'm not the biggest fan of the Obama administration, and I do think that spouses of leaders should mainly STFU and stop interfering, but this is just ludicrous:

"Governors Highway Safety Association Director Barbara Harsha blamed Mrs Obama and was quoted as saying in the Washington Examiner: 'There's an emphasis these days to getting fit, and I think people doing that are more exposed to risk [of getting hit by a vehicle].'"

Apparently, the First Lady's "Let's Move" campaign is responsible this increase. I wonder how many thousands of pedestrians have been mowed down by this cruel campaign?
In the period between January and June last year there were 1,891 road related deaths, which - while being only seven more than during the same period the previous year - bucked a trend that had been going down for four years.
Seven? Seven? WTF?

Still, it is clearly this campaign as there are no other factors, right?
Alcohol is also factor in increased pedestrian deaths.
'We've done a good job of getting people, after a night out of partying, to leave their keys behind,' continued Mr Adkins, 'but just because you are walking does not mean you are not at risk.'
Ah. People getting smashed and driving is a very bad idea, but unintended consequences are a bitch right?
Pedestrians are also increasingly distracted by iPods and smart phones. 
So, these extra 7 deaths are in fact attributable to alcohol, technology AND the First Lady's campaign. Wow. I wonder what the split is, because I think policies should be formulated and utter dickheads like Barbra Harsha employed for a kind of crisis like this.

And I know this is the Fail, but even so, is a journalist really incapable of thinking about this? I suppose at least the "Daily Mail Reporter" had the sense not to put his or her name to this piece of trash.

Tuesday, January 18, 2011

BBC's AGW Reporting Bias

Spotted at Delingpole's blog here, tells you all you need to know.

Monday, January 17, 2011

Booker's Lonely Furrow

Christopher Booker has been writing about the appalling family courts and its accompanying social workers for some time now.

His latest article is another extraordinary and heartbreaking tale of a child being taken away from her parent or parents for no good reason, by an entity (the family court) that is answerable to no-one. Subrosa has an eloquent post, under which there is an interesting debate about the idea of "the risk being too great" for social workers not to act, and for social workers to be damned if they do and damned if they don't.

There is some small merit to this attitude, although it grates heavily with me, in the sense that when they don't act and are wrong, they get slammed, and when they do act and are wrong, they get slammed.


All this falls over for two reasons. The first is, if when they were wrong they reacted swiftly to rectify the situation, then their errors would perhaps be understood if not forgiven. However, this is not the case, see the despicable piece of victimhood pulled by that utter bitch Shoesmith following the Baby P fiasco for more details.

Secondly (and related to the first point), the family courts are shrouded in absolute secrecy. Booker's latest article is as always short on details, as he says:
"As usual, I am legally barred from identifying the mother at the centre of this case or giving many other details..."
As such, clearly this is a system with zero accountability, and as such inevitably overrun with cruel, illogical decisions that are virtually immutable without very deep pockets and boundless patience. For a really good illustration of the system, I am forced once again to link to Booker, as virtually no-one else writes about it. The idea of council "adoption targets" are hair-raising.

Read this.

If it bothers you, write about it. Maybe we can drive this issue screaming out of the shadows. Because the way the family court works now helps no-one except those in its pay, not those that it should protect and support.

Monday, January 3, 2011

Union Hypocrisy

It's nice to see that rabble-rouser Len McCluskey's New Year's resolution was to hit new heights of hypocritical arseholery, criticising George Osborne for taking his family to Klosters for Christmas.

Frankly, Osborne can do what he wants with his money, although if he had watched the Thick of It he might have known how this holiday would go down. I'll judge a politician on what he does, not how he spends his money, and for me his cuts are inadequate, but I couldn't give a shit about his holiday choices.

But Len McCluskey? Len McCluskey, head of the Unite trade union, a man who earns over 130k per year, plus no doubt all manner of wonderful perks not available to the common man, is going to tell someone else how to spend their money? This utter hypocrite is going to accuse others of not feeling the pain? What a prick.

I am glad that 2011 is going to be exactly the same as 2010, what a surprise.