November 17, 2011

Can someone do to Gingrich what Dan Savage did to Santorum?

Filed under: Media, Politics, USA — Tags: , , — Nicholas @ 12:15

I was pretty sure that the GOP had gotten rid of Newt Gingrich back in the 1990s in the same way you’d scrape dog poop off the sole of your shoe, but through some totally inconceivable twist of fate, he’s back:

Republican voters’ esteem for Newt Gingrich has been rising fast. At this rate it might someday equal, though not surpass, his regard for himself. Gingrich is not a person with an ego. He’s an ego with a person.

Just listen to his explanation of why it took him a while to catch on with voters: “Because I am much like Reagan and Margaret Thatcher, I’m such an unconventional political figure that you really need to design a unique campaign that fits the way I operate and what I’m trying to do.”

Other GOP candidates sound like they are merely campaigning for office. Gingrich, however, hurls verbal thunderbolts like Zeus, as the lights flicker and the earth shakes. Hopelessly in love with the sound of his own voice, he exhibits a stern, overbearing self-assurance that gives his pronouncements weight even when he is uttering nonsense.

[. . .]

Still, it’s hard to believe his campaign will survive extended scrutiny. One reason is his know-it-all personality. George W. Bush was the guy you’d like to have a beer with. Gingrich is the guy you wouldn’t want to be stuck next to on a long flight.

[. . .]

It’s not just this administration that causes him to shoot blood out of his eyes. He said Muslims should not be allowed to build a mosque near Ground Zero “so long as there are no churches or synagogues in Saudi Arabia.” He said that “our elites are trying to create amnesia so that we literally have generations who have no idea what it means to be an American.” Newt loves to conjure up terrifying monsters that only he can vanquish.

At moments like these it’s hard to know whether he suffers intermittent derangement or simply will stop at nothing to demonize political opponents. Either way, he bears no resemblance to anyone Americans have ever entrusted with the presidency. Gingrich is, as he says, unique. That’s just the problem.

Things not to say in a job interview

Filed under: Bureaucracy, Humour, Randomness — Tags: — Nicholas @ 08:36

Should your resumé somehow get through the gauntlet of the HR queue (and here are some tips to help you there), you may be able to get an interview. Interviews are tough, and intentionally so: companies don’t want to hire the wrong people. You can talk yourself into a job with a good interview performance, but you’ll want to avoid saying things like this:

Sometimes I hear from a candidate that his current boss is a shambling moron whose personality is an unstable mix of dishonesty and ignorance barely held together by malicious greed. His management style draws upon both forms of Marxism — Groucho and Karl. He can recite The Art of War from memory and he frequently quotes from it at meetings (in the original Chinese of course). You feel you have to leave now or you and he will settle your disputes with knives.

The IT at your department looks like it’s run by monkeys, the management are in league with Al Qaeda, HR is outsourced to Resource Solutions, compliance has been infiltrated by Accenture and Jack Bauer has told you that the back office wants you dead.

Today you found a live rat in your coffee.

Updating 1984 to 2011: tweetcrime replaces thoughtcrime

Patrick Hayes in the Independent:

Who’s afraid of the English Defence League (EDL) clicktivists? Well the police for a start, who decided to undertake a mass pre-emptive arrest of 179 EDL supporters, while they were drinking in a Westminster pub on Armistice Day, for supposedly planning an ‘attack’ on Occupy London protesters at St Paul’s. The police were tipped off by bloggers who had scoured the EDL’s Facebook posts for threatening remarks, and were apparently also assisted in the arrests by some Occupy London supporters, with the administrator of an Occupy London Facebook page boasting he played a role.

These arrests have rightly chilled civil liberties activists. As human rights campaigner Peter Tatchell tweeted at the time: ‘Democracies don’t arrest people who have committed no crime. EDL today, who next? Civil liberties are for all, even odious EDL.’ Brendan O’Neill has argued on spiked, ‘it seems pretty clear that [EDL] supporters were arrested for committing a tweetcrime, the modern-day equivalent of Orwell’s thoughtcrime, where you’re nicked for what lurks inside your head rather than for anything you’ve done in the real world.’

Strikingly, this illiberal, anti-democratic crackdown on EDL protesters came less than a fortnight after the publication of the most extensive research into the EDL yet: one that reveals the EDL to largely be all tweets and no action.

Snapshots from Greece

Filed under: Economics, Europe, Germany, Media, Politics — Tags: , , — Nicholas @ 07:54

Brendan O’Neill has a few snippets from Athens:

‘Prime ministers should be chosen by us, not Angela Merkel,’ says the taxi driver taking me to the Acropolis. Taxi drivers here love talking politics, and they love hating Merkel. She’s treated as the arch villain of this tragedy. Magazine covers show a massive Merkel playing with Greek politicians as if they were dolls. Graffiti invites her to do things that are probably anatomically impossible. My advice to her is to avoid visiting Greece for the duration of The 100 Days. Probably longer.


The taxi driver also tells me he can’t relate to Papademos. ‘He’s not a man of the people’. But it’s precisely Papademos’s lack of experience in dealing with the grubby, demanding demos that endears him to the EU elite, which fought tooth-and-catapult to have him installed as PM. As one European economist put it: for Brussels the great thing about Papademos is that he ‘speaks the language and shares the philosophy of [the] EU and ECB’ and that he ‘comes in without officially representing a party’. That is, he’s apolitical, unchosen, boring and bureaucratic — just the kind of politician the EU likes. It’s already a cliché, but that doesn’t stop it being true: Athens is now both the birthplace and graveyard of European democracy.


Yet the graffiti expresses exasperation as well as anger — a deep disappointment with Greek workers. Commonly scrawled phrases are ‘Wake up!’ and ‘Stop being slaves!’ You get the impression that the Greek left, which is rowdier and noisier than its western European counterpart, is as annoyed with the masses as it is with Merkel. In Syntagma Square, nothing much remains of the radical protest camp that so excited outside observers earlier this year and which provided the template for the global ‘Occupy’ movement. There is just a memorial tree, with political paraphernalia attached to it in remembrance of the camp. It’s like one of those shrines that pops up on roadsides where someone has been killed by a speeding car, only it is adorned, not with wreaths, but with balaclavas, goggles and batteries (which were thrown at the police). It has the unwitting whiff of being a gravestone not only for the Greek left, but for Greek politics itself.

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