Wednesday, September 19

The haves and the have-nots.

If I were in the US, I'd be voting for Romney. I don't think he's a great candidate — the Republicans are shit at picking candidates — but I think he's better than the alternative. And I know quite a few other Republican supporters. And I'm getting sick to death of the deranged characterisation of us offered day in day out by the Left. I needn't give examples; you've all seen it. Some of you have probably done it. The reasoning seems to be that anyone who wants to cut government spending hates poor people, because cutting spending means cutting benefits and benefits are the only way the poor can survive. Romney wants to cut government spending so that he and his friends in big business can keep all the money for themselves and stop the poor getting their grubby hands on it. You know, the usual lefty smear.

See, I could do the same trick with Obama supporters — you must all be antisemitic Weather Underground supporters, right? — but that would be absurd and insane. Party politics is about coalition and compromise; that's its whole point and its advantage. You don't vote for one man because you agree with every single thought in his head; you vote for the representative of a party because, on balance, you like enough of their platform a bit more than you like the other guys' platform. It doesn't even matter what the candidate's real secret thoughts are, because their power is based on our support and our support is based on their professed opinions, not their secret ones. Obama listened to a ranting Jew-hater for years and claims he never really noticed. Aye, right. But plenty of Jews, despite their serious misgivings about the man, will grit their teeth and vote Obama in the next election, because they think lots of other issues are more important than how he feels about them. And it's not like he's got the power to start a gulag or anything. I'm with Byron: "I have simplified my politics into an utter detestation of all existing governments." But I do detest some slightly less than others. Voting is about choosing the lesser of two evils — or two stupids, more like.

I'm not against the welfare state, and neither are the Republicans, as you can easily see by observing whether the welfare state has been destroyed by any previous Republican government; they just disagree with the Democrats about how big it should be. And, if you want to pay benefits, I have to ask, with what? According to the Congressional Budget Office, the US economy will collapse in 2027 if it stays on its present course — that's based on Obama's figures, not his enemies'. When that happens, no-one gets any benefits at all, no matter how needy or deserving they may be. If you've got a baby or toddler just now, by the time they entered the workforce, there would be no welfare state left. One Democrat friend of mine said that a Mitt Romney presidency would take America to a state like the "early middle ages". History's largest economy collapsing in ruins sounds to me quite a lot like the 5th Century.

Obama and the Democrats show no sign of even thinking about avoiding that. They want to keep increasing government spending while funding it through borrowing and quantitative easing. This is why the US's credit rating was downgraded, and why that should worry anyone who lives there. The practice of founding the Dollar on having the Federal Reserve buy bonds from the Treasury using money founded on the fact that the Treasury can keep selling bonds has been a joke for years — I know people were taking the piss out of it in the Sixties, and probably earlier. But it didn't matter, because it was a silly accounting trick being performed by the world's largest and most reliable economy, and everyone knew the US was always good for the money. What the downgrade shows is that the world is ceasing to believe that the US is good for the money, and the reason for that change is that the current government haven't even come up with a plan that might not work — they simply have no plan, and have resisted attempts to push them into making one. Again, my friend says that Romney is "out of touch". Obama apparently hasn't got around to learning from the mistakes of the Weimar Republic yet.

If you want lots of big government spending, you've got a choice between the people who will spend so much over the next couple of years that no government will be spending anything in fifteen years' time and the people who will spend less now in an attempt to ensure that spending remains possible long-term. If you're in your eighties and selfish, that's an easy one: take everything you can get right now. Otherwise, which plan do you think screws the poor harder?

Now, I'm not convinced that the Republicans can avoid the impending cliff-edge — they have a pronounced tendency to talk about small government when they're not in government and then start spending like sailors on shore leave the moment they get in — and yes, I certainly think Bush's spending levels are partly to blame for the current mess. So this election is a choice between the people who will definitely crash the economy and the people who will probably crash the economy.

Like I said, lesser of two stupids.

Tuesday, September 18

The death of the Republic.

The death of the Republic. Exhibit A. First Amendment dead.

Just for the record, this is what it looked like for a man who made a film that made the Obama Administration uncomfortable:



At the end of the day, a written constitution only works if the people who swear to uphold it don't catch on that they have the option of trashing it instead — at which point it ceases to be worth the paper it's written on.

Ah, well. It was nice while it lasted. 236 years is a hell of a good run for a non-dynastic non-dictatorship.

Tuesday, September 4

Whinge, whinge, whinge. Me, me, me.

Imagine, if you will, the following film.

It's a Second World War film. It starts with our "hero" Ken realising that his best friend Peter is being held prisoner by the Nazis. "Woe is me!" says Ken, a lot. "My best friend Peter is in the clutches of the evil Nazis! Alas! Alas! I shall alternate between crying and sulking for the duration of this film!" He then alternates between crying and sulking and telling us why he's crying and sulking for most of the film. We hear reports of the War raging elsewhere, while Ken listens to these reports while moping around and whining. Then he cries about how he misses Peter.

At some point, Winston Churchill himself intervenes. He authorises a mission to send a crack team of commandos into Berlin itself to rescue Peter. "Yes, it's dangerous," he says; "yes, it's counterproductive to the greater war effort; yes, there are thousands of POWs and we're only rescuing one of them; yes, dozens of these brave men will probably die on the mission. But, by God, it'll be worth it if it'll stop Ken whining." You see, most of the people of Britain look up to Ken because he won a fight once, and it is therefore absolutely vital for the war effort that Ken be induced to stop his self-involved whining, because then the entire country will get better at fighting for some reason.

So, this dangerous mission goes ahead. "Aha!" you might well think. "At last, some on-sceen action!" Don't be so silly. We're not going to watch the dangerous and exciting rescue mission; we're going to watch Ken moping and whining while other people go on the rescue mission. When they get back, they tell Ken about it, but not in any detail.

Anyway, at least Peter's back. Oh, hang on: he's got nasty psychological damage from being tortured by the evil Nazis, so — did you see it coming? — Ken does some more sulking and whining. A lot more.

Now, you might well be thinking that it would be a bad idea for me to pitch this idea to a major Hollywood studio, on the grounds that it is clearly the worst film ever and no-one in their right mind would waste time making it. And you would be dead wrong, because change the names and the setting and what you have there is a synopsis of the huge international bestseller Mockingjay by Suzanne Collins, and not only are Lionsgate already planning it, but they think it's so good they're going to make it a two-parter. There probably isn't enough room in just one film for all the whining.

For the record, I loved the first two Hunger Games books: great stories — so great, in fact, that their greatness outweighed the shamefully shoddy writing. But the third book is all shoddiness, no greatness. Suzanne Collins had some great ideas and insights about reality TV. War and revolution, not so much. In fact, when she tries to write about full-scale war, she still ends up writing about TV programs, which is a large part of the problem. That, and did I mention her protagonist's relentless whining?

When the third film is released, I shall be eagerly looking out for fans moaning about how the bastard filmmakers have wrecked the book. That I would take as a good sign. But, if it's faithful to the book... well, see above.