Moody’s! Moody’s! Who the fuck are Moody’s?

Poor old George Osborne. As well as being a TTT (total tory tosser), now he’s lost the UK’s AAA credit rating. (Oh, and by the way BBC, it is the UK’s credit rating, not just Britain’s! I know you’d prefer us to sit on our fleg and fuck off, but…)

Anyhow, it would seem that some bunch of unelected, unaccountable so-called ‘analysts’ have decided that we don’t match up to their stringent and unbiassed economic criteria to be considered as AAA-worthy. So, to misquote ‘Living without Alice’, who the fuck are these folk?

Moody’s are a US company whose striking performances include failing to anticipate the US housing market collapse. They are also funded by Wall Street firms and, hey, guess what, along with those other bastions of fiscal rectitude Standard and Poors and Fitch Ratings, they admitted to a US Senate hearing on Aptil 24th, 2010 that they had  ‘…suppressed internal concerns about the securities they rated due to pressure from the banks that paid their fees.’ (http://www.ft.com/cms/s/0/9456f280-4f03-11df-b8f4-00144feab49a.html#axzz2Lk2yB84Q). A report from Duke University, Keenan Institute for Ethics, states that ‘With the advent of the subprime mortgage crisis, it became apparent that CRAs [Credit Ratings Agencies], particularly Moody’s, had inflated the credit worthiness of some of the riskier assets they rated.’ (http://kenan.ethics.duke.edu/wp-content/uploads/2012/07/Case-Study-Greed-and-Negligence.pdf, p. 7)

I know I rant on about the evils of international capital, but here’s a bunch of mercenaries whose only allegiance is to making money, talking down the economy of a country. So if the Bank of England decides to hike interest rates to appease these wankers, it’s your mortgage going up, your bank changes soaring – not theirs. And, hey, if certain stocks and futures appreciate and they make money on the back of it, are they going to feel guilty?

This is the problem with international capitalism. It ensures that the billions who live on the planet are irrelevant. The ones who matter are perhaps no more than a few thousand of the sort of people who would drive down house prices and lower the tone of the neighbourhood if they moved into your district. (Happily, they won’t, because they don’t associate with impecunious scum like you and me!).

So the shysters, spivs and crooks – sorry, market traders and analysts – who ensure that you pay top dollar for every and any commodity you can name, and all of those you can’t, get mink in their Maseratis, while you and I can only dream of having a full tank in the Mini. That’s the free market for you. These wankers decide where the exchange rate goes – and right now the pound in your pocket is going downhill against the dollar and the Euro. Is the pound’s worth of gold in the Bank of England (the few kilos that Gordon Brown didn’t flog off at the bottom of the market) any smaller than it was last week? Does it cost any more to get a barrel of oil out of the ground? Er… no! In short, if things were let to progress without the intervention of these parasites, the 99% would be far better off. But then that would make the 1% very unhappy, and the likes of wee George  can’t have that, can he?

Us lot are never going to be free of the malign influence of the Moody’s of the world until we decide to take back the world and tell these irrelevant money-grubbers to go suck a diseased donkey’s dick – and die! But that presupposes that folk are going to vote out all of those Torys and Tory lookalikes (Noo Labour, US Republicans and Democrats etc., Liberal somethingorothers) and vote in politicians who are interested in  the welfare of their fellow citizens and not in lining their own pockets and egos and those of their friends in the rest of the 1%. Where do we find such selfless folk? And even if we could, are we likely to vote them in? In the UK less than 50% vote…Apathy rul..ah, who gives a fuck.

Oh well! Come the revolution and the next load of fat cats take over…

Just another shitty day in cloud-cuckoo land

   Do you ever wake up in the morning and wonder if it’s just you or has the world gone totally insane – or, rather, more totally insane than ever? I do.

   So, when I saw that the head of RBS is to get a bonus of nearly £800K, I was rather wondering what it was for.  Then I discovered that he’s going to be getting it for his work in 2010. And that’s when the feeling of alternate reality kicked in. In 2010, the bank of which he was in charge had folk diddling with the LIBOR to boost income. As a result, RBS has been just been fined shedloads of money. Now, if Mr. Hester knew what was going on, he should be having his collar well and truly felt.  But it seems clear that he didn’t. In this case, why is he still in post, let alone being showered with shekels? Either he’s a thief who should be inside, or he’s incompetent and should be sacked.  Or am I, once again, showing my total lack of understanding of how capitalism and banking work?

   More unreality when hearing of the last words of a Holocaust survivor who died in Stafford hospital – ‘I had friends in Auschwitz. Here I have none.’. What in the name of a good and merciful God has happened there? And isn’t it fascinating that not one single member of staff at any level has been charged with some offence, any offence? It just seems that there is far more fuss over the fact that you can put £5 each way on your Findus Lasagne than over such a grotesque betrayal of the vulnerable and sick.

   When Thatcher started to dismantle the NHS, it was evident that the profit culture was going to trump patient care. And if you ever wanted one simple reason why privatisation of the NHS is not only wrong, but truly wicked, Stafford is it.  But again, so long as the fat cats can cream off  large salaries and companies can make their profits, who really gives a shit about one old lady?

   As someone who has eaten horse – with a fine pepper sauce – and enjoyed it, I’m slightly bemused by the angst. Of course it’s sad that the faller in the 2.30 at Lingfield has ended up as a burger. Yes, you should know precisely what’s in what you’re eating. A given. And yes, it’s highly likely that crooks are making money out of the whole fraud. But isn’t it interesting that at least a proportion of our food is so processed and generally fucked about with that people can’t tell the difference between horsemeat and beef?

   And then there’s the ‘fleg’ protest. I regularly pass the Alliance Party office on the Upper N’Ards road, and see five or six fleggistas under the beady eyes of five or six peelers (with associated landrovers). So to ensure the maintenance of a non-existant British way of life we have to take peelers off the job of dealing with criminals, policing traffic, helping little old ladies across the road and whatever Archbishop Baggott allows them to do.  And do these same fleggistas realise that if Norn Iron were to float off into the Atlantic and sink, the noise of the cheers of the ‘real’ British would burst God’s eardrums? Reality has yet to dawn!

 Yus! Reality can really be a two-edged wotdyamacallit or something.

Legally they’re not thieving wankers, just clever wankers…

The appearance of executives from Amazon, Apple and Starbucks in front of a meaningless Westminister committee of overpaid and under-brained MPs was embarassing. Not so much for the way in which these hyper-paid lackeys dodged and weaved to avoid saying anything useful, but for the ineptitude of the questioners.

   I don’t understand economics, but I do understand when I’m being ripped off. So why is it that government can’t make a simple emendment to tax law, to say that a foreign company trading in the UK can’t repatriate profits before they’ve paid the same level of tax as UK companies operating in the UK? This, for example, would remove the right for Apple Ireland to send whopping great invoices to Apple UK that Apple UK use to reduce their tax bill here. You generate profit here, you pay tax on it here. And you can send out whatever remains to wherever you like.

   And if the likes of Starbucks says that this would make trading over here uneconomical and threatens to pull out, let’s say ‘Great! Fuck off because there are dozens of local entrepreneurs who will step in to take your place!’

   But it won’t happen because our arcane tax laws suit our lords and masturbators in Westminister. Giving tax breaks to multinationals leads to perks and directorships and centre court seats for Wimbledon finals. They’re not going to jeopardise that. The tame Treasury officials who cosy up to the big firms and make sure that they get away with legal daylight robbery won’t want change either.

   Oh well, one of these days will come the revolution, and…

The world is a slightly safer place…

Dear Mr and Mrs America. You nearly blew it, but enough of you voted sensibly to ensure that the crazies and teabaggers don’t have direct access to the nuclear trigger.  For that we thank you! It was worth staying up to the wee smalls to see the Fox Propaganda channel drones strangling themselves with indignation as the results came in.  I don’t care what anyone says, schadenfreude is a dish best enjoyed with friends and copious amounts of good food and wine!

   So now dear Mr Pres., would you ever cut the rhetoric and put on your shit-kickers and get stomping. The first target has got to be that bunch of pathetic pussies in the party that supposedly supports you – the Dems. Keep kicking until the party starts to get enough hormone in its bloodstream so that it stands up to the yoyos across the aisle. You need to get them to reach across the aise and, at the start, grasp their opponents warmly by the throat. Hand-shaking can come later.

   And, Sir, you need to get the extra heavy-duty steel toe-caps on to deal with the Republicans.  Start with yer man Boehner. Tell him that before you take him seriously, he needs to man up and pronounce his name properly! It’s pronounced Boner. Live with it. Ask him if he’s ever stubbed his tay? Would he remove weeds with a hay? And as for that braindead wanker McConnell, tell him he failed. Live with it.

   You’ve now got no need to worry about elections. You’re the man. So deal with the Bush tax cuts. Make millionaires and billionaires pay their fair share. Stop mollycoddling the oil industry and the military industrial complex. Treat your returning veterans properly. Tell the teabaggers that Obamacare is here to stay. And regulate the banks!! In other words, give the US that change that you promised in 2008.

   And the rest of the world will thank you, not only for rescuing us from a teaparty-sponsored presidency, but for demonstrating that America actually can be run along sensible lines. You never know, if you can pull this off in the next four years, some of us at least might start to regard the idea of American claims to leadership on the world stage with a lessened degree of cynicism and distaste.

They haven’t gone away, you know…

Dear cuddly old Gerry Adams told us a while ago that the IRA (Provisional, not to be confused with the Official or Continuity or Real or…) hadn’t gone away. Now there’s Gerry ensconced in Dáil Éireann (Parliament of the Republic of Ireland, for all you foreigners), while Marty McGuinness as our beloved Deputy First Minister  is sitting not so far away from me, up the hill at Stormont (Northern Ireland Assembly, for ditto), and both of them are convinced that violence for political ends is a ‘bad thing’! They really are heavy into it! And, of course, they are right!

   So when a bunch of so-called dissident republicans blow away a prison officer, they must be condemned immediately as vile violaters of our sacred peace process. Outraged, grim-faced, our Gerry and Marty – supported by the serried ranks of (now mainstream) outraged and grim-faced Republicanism  – get the outraged heads on.  And don’t forget wee Pete Robinson,  the Dear Leader, outraged and grim-faced First Minister of Northern Ireland. He’s been out there, laying it on the line. He and Marty and the rest won’t be deterred from making Ulster/The Six Counties/Northern Ireland/Failed Entity etc. a place free from people who believe that violence is the way to resolve our island differences. How dare these folk think otherwise?

   Here’s the problem! Starting wayyyyyyy back in 1970, there was a different tune in the air -  ‘We shall overcome (them – insert the side you wanted to overcome)’ sung to the accompaniment of massed Armalites and AK-47s. Marty commanding the IRA in Derry, Gerry having absolutely nothing to do with the IRA in Belfast – he never was in the IRA, honest like, he was just like er… And wee Peter and Papa Doc running round the hills of County Antrim waving firearm certificates and wearing red berets and reminding us all how the UVF in 1912 saved us from…

   You see, they all seemed to be saying that since they didn’t agree with the status quo, they had the right to change it. And since the self-appointed freedom fighters who agreed with their rantings felt unconstrained in deciding which laws didn’t apply to them (like the ones against killing people),  they felt that they could justify any means to their ends. Like planting car bombs in crowded shopping streets. Like walking into a bar full of football supporters and spraying them with 7.62mm rounds. Using techniques of persuasion that even Tony Soprano would flinch from. The message to people on the island of Ireland was ‘We must have a United Ireland/Assured British Future. We’re on your side, defending you from them, so do as we say, not as we do. And, if we really want your opinion, we’ll give it to you.’

   Forty odd years on, a new generation is at it. They don’t see why they should be bound by the same laws as the rest of us. A screw is a symbol of Brit repression. Kill him. Discourage the others. A peeler is part of the Brit war machine. Kill him, stop catholics joining PSNI. Unarmed Brits collecting pizza? Symbols of 800 years of English oppression. Cap ‘em!  Let’s bomb and bullet our way to a joyful United Ireland where all of the stains of Brit rule have been flushed down the gutters in blood! Oh and don’t forget the folk on the other side. There’s some of them who want to bomb and bullet our way to an assured Brit future, with all stains of republican terror flushed er… sounds familiar, don’t it?

  So how on earth are we still here in 2012? Surely we were supposed to be at peace once and for all, once all of our gallant politicos had inserted their snouts in the trough, and wedged their feet firmly under the table that groans under the weight of allowable expenses, free trips abroad…?

   Like the Meerkat says, ‘Simples! Tsk’. The new generation has learned from the old.

   So Marty and Gerry and Peter, before you start slabbering on about how these villains won’t derail the plans you set in motion - just remember. You taught them all they know about hating, and just like you boys – they are quick learners!! They are the inheritors of  those twisted ideas for which so much blood and suffering was spread around for 35 long, long years.   

   Haven’t we had enough?? Sensible folk think that we have.

    But it’s like our Gerry said! They haven’t gone away, you know! It’s just the faces have changed.

BGS

PS Oh and Gerry has been sounding off about the Scottish devolution debate. He feels that we up here should be engaged in a similar soul-searching.  Except does anyone up here want an independent Ulster? I think he means that we should be discussing Irish unity, in which case, Scottish devolution seems a wee touch er… irrelevant.

   Personally, I don’t give a toss whether NI is governed from Belfast or London or Dublin or Disneyland. So, the day that our Gerry explains how a totally fucked-up Irish Republic economy ruined by incompetent gombeen men can
(a) absorb another 1.5 million odd folk, half of whom will be really pissed off and bolshie,
(b) pay for all of the services and standards that the wicked Brits underpin,
(c) persuade said wicked Brits to pay for said services until the Irish economy recovers on the Ides of Never, and
(d) provide cast iron guarantees that the day after reunification won’t see the start of yet another Irish civil war,
I’ll vote for Dublin.

   Until then, I like my pension just at the level it is!!

Dear Mr and Mrs America…

Dear Mr and Mrs America. I know you’re really busy right now, but if you have a moment, please spare a thought for all of those folk in the world to whom you are so thoughtfully providing leadership (whether we like it or not!).

   When you go to the polls on Tuesday, it’s your God-given right to elect whatever bunch of dickheads er… I mean politicians … seem to you to articulate your beliefs most closely. Now I know that Obama is a Kenyan communist Muslim hell-bent on subjecting you all to sharia law and subverting your rights to life, liberty and the pursuit of happiness. But he has one thing going for him that Mitt Romney doesn’t.

   Obama isn’t going to have John Bolton as his foreign policy guru.

   Now Republicans might think it’s all right to have representatives who believe  that women who suffer ‘legitimate rape’ have bodies that will deal with it, or that if a woman is raped and becomes pregnant it’s the will of God. If so, vote Romney. If you think that it’s the job of private companies to dole out health care to the healthy and ignore the sick, go for Mitt. And if you think that the rich should have their taxes cut, hey! Romney and Ryan are your boys.

(Btb if you want to know what Paul Ryan did before he was in politics, look at
http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=69MpLiYhsXw
He’s a nifty little mover!!)

   If on the other hand, you prefer America not to be sucked into another major war, just as you are finally getting out of the two wars that have come damn near to crippling your economy – not to mention crippling and killing so many of your armed forces – think carefully.  Whatever Romney says, John Bolton will have America, and thus the rest of us, embroiled in a new war over Iran within 12 months of a Romney presidency starting.

   Why does no-one want to intervene in Syria? Is it because we all feel that Assad is doing a good job of defending his folk against jihadi terrorists? Could it be that we all think that he’s a nice guy who should be left to sort out his own domestic difficulties? Or could it be because Syria doesn’t have the same amount of oil as Libya, and the Syrians can kill each other off without the rest of the world giving a flying fuck? Perish the thought - or rather hold on to it.

   What will happen if Israel bombs the shit out of the Iranian nuclear industry? Answer, very simply, the Iranians will close the Straits of Hormuz. For whatever length of time that is blocked, we will see oil prices go through the roof. Remember what happened in the aftermath of the last Arab-Israeli war? We’re still paying the price.  And that’ll be a disaster for the world, won’t it?

   So you have to ask the old legal question cui bono? Who benefits?

   Who benefited from the Iraq war that was going to pay for itself? Does the name ‘Haliburton’ ring a bell anyone? Or any of the myriad companies who made good dollars out of the aftermath? But hey, I hear you say. America will never invade Iran and Israel isn’t strong enough. So how would the likes of Haliburton or their heirs and successors benefit?

   The answer is quite simple. Traders in oil will join the ranks of the super wealthy for starters. Supply and demand. Super profits to be made by the canny. But the real winners will be the oil companies and their bosses and stockholders. Currently there are reserves round the world that aren’t really economically viable to develop at current prices. Double the price of a barrel of oil and hey presto! Now they are!! And since we all need fuel – for cars or transport networks or heating your house – we’ll be forced to buy, or become static, even freeze to death in the first really bad winter.

   Who is a friend of big business and the super rich?  The boy Mitt. Whose presidency would benefit from ensuring licences to go after those oil reserves that America will now need to tap? Who would be telling you all that the damage to the environment from exploiting them would be outweighed by the benefit to the country? You can guess, surely? And with those humungous tax breaks that the oil companies already enjoy… You think $3.80 a gallon is bad…?

   So please Mr and Mrs America. When you put your X on the paper, or hang your chads or whatever. Think about the price of putting John Bolton at the controls of your foreign policy.  Now I know that none of you gives a brass bugger about what happens outside your borders.  But in screwing the rest of us over by starting a new war, this swivel-eyed Geraldo Rivera lookalike and braindeadalike will be screwing you over just as hard. Do you really want to see another string of your young men and women coming home dead or damaged? And if you think that the Bush recession was bad, just wait…

   So please, if you can’t vote Obama, then vote for one of the independents. If Romney doesn’t get elected, the rest of the world will thank you most totally and sincerely. And to us outsiders, it will seem that the rights of the poor, the sick, the elderly and women in particular in America will be a little more secure! It would make the claims of politicians like Condoleeza Rice that the world needs more American leadership more credible!!

   Good luck to you on Tuesday.

    Your friend (honest!!)
    Brian

Peanuts and a red wine cooler…

I drink too much! When I’m doing serious work, it’s mainly tea – sometimes coffee. But I don’t do coffee the way I used to, because since my doctor told me that I needed to lose weight, I’ve stopped using sugar. And coffee without sugar is flavoured like what I imagine the contents of a slurry tank would taste. So I use sweeteners, which make it just about tolerable. Tea with sweeteners, no problem. Good strong Belfast tea can over come any abuse. But coffee?  Nah, it’s too prima donna. So just for occasional.

   Joyless anti-tobacco Nazis won’t understand, but one of life’s genuine pleasures – one of the true blessings of a merciful and beneficent deity – is to wake in the morning to a pipe and a cup of strong, sugar-sweet coffee. The day becomes light and pickled in sunlight, dappled with good humour, whatever the weather. Starting like this puts a spring in the step, in the thought processes and in one’s kindly regard for most of the human race (there will always be exceptions!!). A blessed nicotine hit at the end of the day to ease the coming of sleep ensures sweet dreams and tranquility.

   But I stopped smoking a number of years ago. It had become a choice between breathing and smoking. The former won out  – just about. And as my tastebuds came out of stasis, and I rediscovered just how anti-social is an evening on Guinness and pickled eggs and how farting in bed can be a near-death experience, I needed a substitute. Since pubs should smell and taste of the last decade of tobacco smoke mingled with the ghosts of many beers spilled on a tired carpet and a general mix of body odour and cheap perfume, I don’t really go any more. If I want to inhale antiseptic, I’ll open a celebratory bottle of Dettol, or else have a coronary and get into a ward for incorrigibles.  So I drink at home, sometimes solitary like now, oft-times in the fine company of herself.

   Now, I don’t drink when I’m doing serious work – the work that pays that sheepshagging bunch of thieving, motherfucking tossers, otherwise known as the holders of my mortgage.  No, I stay sober for that. So it’s primarily tea. Coffee at 11am and 3pm because that’s a rhythym of life dictating that my DNA still stays in a logically twisted spiral. It’s when I can escape into the slightly disorientated realms of my mind and not have to think sensibly (like now), that the blessings of ethanol kick in.

   But it’s a funny thing. Since I stopped smoking, my weight has ballooned.  I have a beer-gut like I’d eaten not just a football, but half of the first-division team kicking it as well. So when I drink, I need to be crafty.  The fat monster lurks behind every dish of duck with plum sauce. Bacon sarnies aren’t exactly geared to reducing the waistline to its original 36″. WARNING – if any of you use the s**** word, you can go shag a roll of barbed wire.  So there! High protein, reasonably low fat, suggestive of the pub without having to be there! There is, of course, only one answer.  Peanuts.

      But what to drink and stay relatively in touch with reality? Fizzy beer (even if it’s the golden nectar?), nah! Spirits? Occasionally, but not for real. Them’s for getting pissed! I’m not a wine snob – in fact, I know sod all really, other than what I like. And if I’m working for a few hours, more than a trayful of successive glasses tends to blur reality just that little bit too much. A bit like a painter finding his hand slipping and smearing part of the canvas.  My daughter had the answer. Mind you, I nearly killed her for it.

   On one special occasion when we were drinking en famille, she ordered a glass of wine and a bottle of fizzy saccharine and water and mixed the two. Since it was a quite good (inasmuch as I can judge) claret, I shouted at her. Philistine. Destroyer of…Then again, I thought, she is American, after all. So I apologised and tried it. Not bad, not… actually quite nice or even…OK, and we all hate the French, really. Surrendering frogs who eat monkeys or…something like that. Anyhow…

   So six years later, here I am with a glass of bog-basic house red half-and-half with cheap diet (no sugar, honest guv) lemonade and a bowl of salted peanuts. And I’m getting ready to write epic, searing prose to make Dante’s Inferno look like a limp-wristed barbeque and….

  Ah well, fuck it. I’ll just lie down until I’m not in danger of…..

BGS