So what’s the deal with this Gizoogle shizzle?

I learnt that coffee can be translated as “fruity ass malt liquor”, for one thing.

The Gizoogle phenomena has been doing the rounds on twitter for a while now, a website that lets you translate anything on the internet into “gangsta slang”.

One of the most famous lines in literary history is translated as: To be, or not ta be, dat is tha question. David Miliband becomes Dizzy Millipede, naturally.

The brainchild of American John Beatty, who started the site in 2005 as a joke after inspiration by Snoop's "Doggy Fizzle Televizzle" program on MTV and a friend's constant use of the slang MSN messenger, it’s become viral most recently after a few relaunches.

I admit, I frittered away my time gizoogling the twitter feeds of stiff-upper-lipped toffs. It was fun to chuckle at the contrast between their normal tweets and this faux-vernacular. Perhaps that's because it highlights the false airs in how they usually communicate?

Here’s an extract from David Cameron’s 2012 Conservative Party Conference speech:

As Prime Minista it has fallen ta me ta say some hard thangs n' ta muthafuckin help our ghetto grill some hard truths fo' realz. All of mah adult life, whatever tha difficulties, tha British playas have at least been Kool & Tha Gang bout one thing. Our thugged-out asses have thought we can pay our way.

And even better, Karl Marx’s Communist Manifesto in all its glory:

A spectre is hustlin Europe — tha spectre of communizzle fo' realz. All tha powerz of oldschool Europe have entered tha fuck into a holy alliance to exorcise dis spectre: Pimp n' Tsar, Metternich n' Guizot, French Radicals n' German five-o-spies.

Owen Jones had posted links to these on twitter, but after reading some of the responses to him, it made me think again:

Matt has a point. Rappers don’t even sound like this anymore. Maybe Snoop Lion (née Snoop Dogg) did back in 1994. And fair enough, if you don’t speak "ghetto", and no one ever mocks or pigeonholes you for not being able to speak “proper”, it makes you giggle.

But do we find mashing up intellectual texts with “rapper speak” funny because the latter is of no worth and sounds stupid? Jeremy Paxman interviewing Dizzee Rascal on Newsnight, anyone? I hate to be po-faced about this, but it’s easy to see why it’s a bit off. It is cringeworthy to see political commentators sharing links to “rap speak” and trying to be down with the kidz; and worse still when you know that it’s just a white web guy using algorithms to generate the translations in the first place.

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The Randian Republican who could rein in Trump isn’t a coward – he’s much worse

Paul Ryan's refusal to condemn Trump is not caused by terror or fear; rather, it is a cynical, self-serving tactic.

Poor ol’ Paul Ryan. For a few brief hours on 27 January, a week after the inauguration of Donald Trump, the Wikipedia entry for “invertebrates” – which defines them as “animals that neither possess nor develop a vertebral column (commonly known as a backbone or spine)” – was amended to include a smiling picture of the Republican Speaker of the House of Representatives.

The online prank reflected a growing consensus among critics of Ryan: confronted by a boorish and authoritarian president plagued by multiple conflicts of interest, the House Speaker has behaved in a craven and spineless manner. Ryan, goes the conventional wisdom, is a coward.

Yet as is so often the case, the conventional wisdom is wrong. Ryan’s deafening silence over Trump’s egregious excesses has little to do with pusillanimity. It’s much worse than that. The House Speaker is not a coward; he is a shameless opportunist. His refusal to condemn Trump is not caused by terror or fear; rather, it is a cynical, self-serving tactic.

Long before Trump arrived on the scene with his wacky “birther” conspiracies, Ryan was the undisputed star of the GOP; the earnest, number-crunching wunderkind of the right. He was elected to Congress in 1998, aged 28; by 2011, he was head of the House budget committee; by 2012, he was Mitt Romney’s running mate; by 2015, he was Speaker of the House – and third in line for the presidency – at the grand old age of 45.

The Wisconsin congressman has been hailed in the conservative media as the “man with a plan”, the “intellectual leader of the Republican Party”, the “conscience” of the GOP. Yet, again and again, in recent years, he has been singularly unsuccessful in enacting his legislative agenda.

And what kind of agenda might that be? Why, an Ayn Rand-inspired agenda, of course. You know Rand, right? The hero of modern-day libertarians, self-described “radical for capitalism” and author of the dystopian novel Atlas Shrugged. As one of her acolytes wrote to her: “You have the courage to tell the masses what no politician told them: you are inferior and all the improvements in your condition which you simply take for granted you owe to the effort of men who are better than you.”

Ryan is an ideologue who insists on giving copies of Atlas Shrugged to interns in his congressional office. In 2005 he told a gathering of Rand fans, called the Atlas Society, that “the reason I got involved in public service, by and large, if I had to credit one thinker, one person, it would be Ayn Rand”.

Rolling back the evil state while balancing the budget on the backs of the feckless poor, in true Randian fashion, has always been Ryan’s primary goal. Even Newt Gingrich, who served as Republican House Speaker for five years in the 1990s, once decried Ryan’s proposals to privatise Medicare ­– the popular federal health insurance programme that covers people over the age of 65 – as “right-wing social engineering”.

These days, Ryan has a useful idiot in the White House to help him pull off the right-wing social engineering that he couldn’t pull off on his own. Trump, who doesn’t do detail or policy, is content, perhaps even keen, to outsource his domestic agenda to the policy wonk from Wisconsin.

The Speaker has made his deal with the devil: a reckless and racist demagogue, possibly in cahoots with Russia, can trample over the law, erode US democratic norms and embarrass the country, and the party, at home and abroad. And in return? Ryan gets top-rate tax cuts. To hell with the constitution.

Trump, lest we forget, ran as an insurgent against the Republican establishment during the primaries, loudly breaking with hard-right GOP orthodoxy on issues such as infrastructure spending (Trump promised more), health-care reform (Trump promised coverage for all) and Medicaid (Trump promised no cuts). It was all a charade, a con. And Ryan knew it. The Speaker may have been slow to endorse Trump but when he did so, last June, he made it clear that “on the issues that make up our agenda, we have more common ground than disagreement”.

A year later, Ryan has been vindicated: free trade deals aside, Trump is governing as a pretty conventional, hard-right conservative. Consider the first important budget proposal from the Trump administration, published on 23 May. For Ryan, it’s a Randian dream come true: $800bn slashed from Medicaid, which provides health care to low-income Americans, plus swingeing cuts to Snap (the Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Programme, aka food stamps), Chip (the Children’s Health Insurance Programme) and SSDI (disability insurance).

In Trump, Ryan and his fellow anti-government hardliners in Congress have found the perfect frontman to enact their reverse-Robin Hood economic agenda: a self-declared, rhetorical champion of white, working-class voters whose actual Ryan-esque policies – on tax cuts, health care, Wall Street regulation and the rest – bolster only the billionaire class at their expense.

Don’t be distracted by all the scandals: the president has been busy using his tiny hands to sign a wide array of bills, executive orders and judicial appointments that have warmed the cold hearts of the Republican hard right.

Impeachment, therefore, remains a liberal fantasy – despite everything we’re discovering about Russia, Michael Flynn, James Comey and the rest. Does anyone seriously expect this Republican-dominated House of Representatives to bring articles of impeachment against Trump? With Paul Ryan in charge of it? Don’t. Be. Silly.

Mehdi Hasan is a broadcaster and New Statesman contributing editor. He is based in Washington, DC

Mehdi Hasan is a contributing writer for the New Statesman and the co-author of Ed: The Milibands and the Making of a Labour Leader. He was the New Statesman's senior editor (politics) from 2009-12.

This article first appeared in the 25 May 2017 issue of the New Statesman, Why Islamic State targets Britain

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