Archive for the ‘Lies’ Category

`My two dogs tied to a tree by a ten foot leash kept howling and whining for an hour till I let them off. Now they are lying quietly on the grass a few feet further from the tree and haven’t moved since I let them off. Freedom may be only an idea but it’s a matter of principle even to a dog.’ – Louis Dudek.

A momentous event has taken place in Iran over the weekend, which may lead to greater change than anyone had predicted (myself included). The unexpected “landslide victory” of incumbent Mahmoud Ahmadinejad over reformist opponent Mir-Hossein Mousavi has led to an outpouring of dissent of a magnitude I have not seen since 1989 in Eastern Europe and China and may have ramifications beyond the choice of Iranian president, possibly signalling the beginning of the end (or maybe even the end itself) of the Islamic Revolution. The people of Iran (particularly the young) are demanding true freedom and from now on may no longer be appeased by being allowed to merely let their hair stick  out from under hijabs or get limited access to the internet. They want true control over their own destinies.

The problems for the regime started when Ahmadinejad was declared victor with a massive 62.63% of the vote, when what limited indicators were available pointed to a close contest and possibly a clear victory for Mousavi. In response hundreds of thousands of Mousavi supporters in Tehran and other cities around Iran came out on the streets and have stayed there. Initially it may have been possible to dismiss the opposition as Tehrani elites, who were acting like New York liberals who didn’t know anyone who voted for George W Bush. However, information has dripped out that backed up their claims: there was a record turnout, which normally is an indicator of strong support for reformist candidates; Ahmadinejad won handily in Mousavi’s home town; the result was announced before polls had closed; and possibly most damningly, there have been claims leaking from the Interior Ministry that the polls were, indeed fixed.

And so people went out and protested. The situation is constantly changing and the Government seems to have been caught off guard and doesn’t seem to know how to respond. It has promised a partial recount, called for unity, attacked the protesters as traitors but doesn’t seem capable of stopping them. It shut down internet access, imposed stringent rules on foreign reporters but (quite hilariously) could not stop Twitter-apparently they called Twitter to ask them to block Iranian access, but apparently those thirty geeks in California were busy playing Halo. And now, amazingly, Twitter has become the voice of the Revolution. It’s vaguely reminiscent of the moment in 1989 when the East German government got its messages mixed up about how much freedom of movement to allow its citizens, leading to a Berlin Wall border guard simply opening up his checkpoint.

Tragically, several people have been killed (and I hope, beyond hope that the bloodshed stops soon)  but this has failed to deter masses of people from gathering for what I consider to be one of the most moving of reasons – to demand their freedom. Often protests such as these fail to have a direct impact on the political process and this can lead to cynicism but sometimes a critical mass of support is reached which is irresistible and the spread of democracy makes another big leap forward and I believe that the protests of recent days are at or close to this point. So come on and join us, Iran, we’re waiting for you with open arms…

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The Bank of England dropped interest rates another half a percent, bringing it to a record low of 1.5%, causing City Workers to wet themselves with excitement. Because of course, as they all knew, that pathetic 1.5% drop in November followed by a wimpy 1% cut in December would obviously not be enough to kick-start the economy, but that this historic 0.5% adjustment will obviously send the economy rocketing upwards. At the risk of repeating myself, it’s really looking like we’re pushing on a piece of string, as Keynes would say. I could be wrong, maybe somewhere around 1%, everybody will get the mother lode of money from their banks and go on a crazy spending spree. Maybe those of you in US can clear that up and let me know if a 0% rate has brought about a new economic paradise.

Meantime Obama is forced to twiddle his thumbs in a hotel room and come up with economic plans that may be of no use by the time he even gets into office. Hey, reality show idea, why don’t we allow Obama into the White House early and force George Bush, John Howard and Tony Blair to stay in the Big Brother House with a volatile mix of Iraqis and shoes.

I know what you’re thinking – Obama hasn’t even taken office yet – how is it possible to judge whether voters chose the right president already. Well let’s take a quick look at events from the last few days:

– President-Elect Obama has gathered some of the top economic minds in the country to come up with ideas as to how to stimulate the country out of recession. He has received messages from Chavez, Ahmedinejad and the leader of Hamas, indicating that they are willing to talk.

– The Republicans have continued name-calling, only now they’re insulting each other, with McCain aides calling Palin a “diva” and Palin responding by calling them “jerks”

So I may be proven wrong yet but it certainly looks like yes, America made the right choice


So the Fed, in its eternal wisdom, is dutifully following Monetarist orthodoxy by cutting interest rates by half a percentage point. So what is the rate at now? 1%!!!!! Has nobody in the government realised that this is not working???!!!! Do they seriously believe that they are not, as Keynes put it, pushing on a piece of string???!!! Confidence is in the toilet, there’s nowhere else to go with interest rate cuts, it’s becoming an exercise in futile grandstanding for the business media. Nobody is spending. And John McCain wants to freeze government spending, the only way the government can guarantee that money gets spent to stimulate the economy!!!

Now the stock market went up yesterday in anticipation of this cut, but then the stock market went up in anticipation of the bailout that was demanded from the banks and when it was confirmed, the market proceeded to plummet. So how long will this bounce last, before stocks drop again? Seriously, I’m beginning to wonder whether all the decisions on Wall Street, the City of London and other financial centres are being fuelled by traders’ well-documented consumption of cocaine! Because there seems to be absolutely no reason at all involved. Should we start testing all market traders for drugs on a weekly basis and banning those who fail it?

In the light of all this, it is economically irresponsible for John McCain, Sarah Palin and the rest of the Republican Party to equate the modest taxation and spending plans of Barack Obama with socialism in an effort to scare people into giving them four more years of cronyism. In fact, it’s so irresponsible it’s practically Anti-American.

Again, I know I’m a little late into the discussion. I was just wondering what Joe the (unlicensed) Plumber would prefer: to pay 39% tax on his marginal income over $250,000 (note:NOT his total income) instead of 36% (assuming he does actually in the end earn that much profit after wages and other expenses), or to pay a pittance in tax under John McCain because he makes no profit as the economy is in the tank?

Look folks, all Western countries (even the US) made the collective decision throughout the twentieth century that there were certain services that were too vital to be left at the mercy of the vagaries of the marketplace. For both Europe and the US these included Fire, Police, Education, Infrastructure. Europe and Canada added Universal Healthcare to that while the US has thus far shied away from it. The US has decided to have a larger and more expensive military than European countries. Decisions were made to provide varying levels of welfare to those who weren’t gainfully employed for whatever reason. Thus taxes had to be collected to pay for these services to be available for the good of all citizens, rich and poor.

Decisions then had to be made as to how to share the cost burden of these services and again all Western countries made the decision that those with more money to spare should pay proportionally more than those earning less, mainly because they could afford it but also because to do otherwise would compromise the ability of those in lower paid jobs to earn a living wage for a fair day’s work.

Over the years, different countries have tweaked these variables to various extents and with varying levels of success. However the general principles of a progressive taxation system to pay for essential services has remained in place for decades, that is until it came under attack from neocons seeking a redistribution of wealth to the haves with the promise that it would trickle down. And with the election of George W Bush, they got to implement these policies leading to the economic crisis of today. So a modest rollback of the taxcuts received by the richest 5% to pay for tax cuts to the middle-class is not a Marxist wealth redistribution programme. (especially as the wealthy didn’t get this extra income through extra work, but rather through political manoeuvring) – it is a sensible return to the principles of a mixed market economy that served the Western World so well in creating and distributing prosperity reasonably well through the 20th century.

So please do not get scared by tags like “socialism” into making decisions that are not in your financial interest and that are to the detriment of the global economy.

So McCain and Palin have decided on a new line attack on Barack Obama – that his policies are Socialist – and like their other attacks just a cursory look at the facts should debunk this. So let’s see what they’ve tried before:

1. His middle name is Hussein and his last name is nearly Osama, thus he must be dodgy – turns out, this is what is widely known (although maybe only in liberal Anti-American circles) as a COINCIDENCE!!

2. He’s a Muslim, although obviously a pretty rubbish one, as he kept making a wrong turn into a Christian church for decades.

3. He attended to a radical, jihadist madrassa in Indonesia. However when one of the British news networks went there, the staff and students were all nice and friendly, we learned that they were respectful of his Non-Muslim status, although during Islamic religious studies he and other non-Muslims went to another room to catch up on their studies, and that they all wished him well (there goes number 2).

4. He’s dangerously inexperienced on foreign policy, yet in his debates with McCain he more than held his own on this area…and now Colin Powell has backed him.

5. He’s in league with America-hating terrorists…well, one actually, and his terrorism acts occurred when Obama was eight…and he’s been lecturing at a major university for twenty years…and they weren’t really in league with each other, they served on the board of the same charity…and that charity was set up by a member of the Reagan Administration…and Palin has much stronger ties with the America-hating secessionists of the Alaska Independence Party.

So how about the Socialism claims…well I don’t know, you go ask a middle-aged Eastern European whether an increase in tax on people earning over $250,000 from 36% to 39% equates to their experience of Totalitarian Socialism and watch them roll on the floor laughing. Oh My God, tax rates for the rich will go back to the levels they were at under Comrade Ronald Reagan!

Seriously, there is no country in the western world which is either purely capitalist or purely socialist. The US has socialized police, fire services, education and many other important (and perhaps some not so important government programs) while other countries like Germany, France, Britain and Canada manage to combine a Universal Health Care system and strong social safety net with a functioning market economy. And seeing that the eight-year experiment with extreme deregulation and deep (and unaffordable) tax cuts hasn’t exactly worked out as planned, perhaps it’s understandable if the good citizens of the USA aren’t completely freaked about a modest shuffle to the Left.

Quite simply, aim for a better result than what the polls say is most likely because each step up indicates something important

If Obama looks like winning narrowly, aim for a clear win to avoid any challenges or repeats of 2000

If Obama looks like winning clearly, aim for a comfortable win so that Obama has a definite mandate for change

If Obama looks like winning comfortably, aim for a landslide so as to punish the Republicans so that they purge themselves of the neocon ideologues who have hurt America so much over the past couple of decades and return to being the Republican party of Eisenhower and Lincoln.