Monday, September 14, 2015

Face the music and dance

Labour Party (UK) leadership election, 2015: "The 2015 Labour Party leadership election was won by Jeremy Corbyn. The election was triggered by the resignation of Ed Miliband as Leader of the Labour Party on 8 May 2015, following the party's defeat at the 2015 general election. Harriet Harman, the Deputy Leader, became Acting Leader but announced that she would stand down after the leadership election." Corbyn had 59.5% of the vote against the three other candidates.
* The new Labour leader himself says, "Britain can't cut its way to prosperity. We have to build it."
* Jeremy Corbyn wins Labour leadership race in stunning victory - as it happened, complete with Billy Bragg leading everyone (including Corbyn) to sing "The Red Flag".
* Ellie Mae O'Hagan in the Independent: "5 reasons to be happy with Jeremy Corbyn's victory"
* Laurie Penny in The New Statesman: "What the Corbyn moment means for the left: At long last, the left is asking itself whether power without principle is worth having. [...] The 'electability' conversation is where it all becomes clear. The argument that Jeremy Corbyn is unelectable is being made by three candidates who can't even win an election against Jeremy Corbyn. Their arguments are backed by two former prime ministers: Gordon Brown, whose main claim to fame is losing an election to the Tories in 2010, and Tony Blair, the Ghost of Bad Decisions Past. Both of them are making the case that the ability to win a general election is the first and only important quality in a leader after years of muttering and shuffling behind Ed Miliband, a very nice man whose middle name could have been 'Constitutionally Unable to Win a General Election'."
* Someone was asking me what it all means. Well, here's a bit of history to remind you of how it evolved that there seemed to be absolutely no one around to challenge the position of Tony Blair or any other New Labour politician, no matter how they might have been despised by most normal Labour supporters. John Smith, the Labour leader at the time, had to die of a sudden heart attack at the age of 56 for Blair to become the new party leader. Everyone was so happy to finally get rid of the Tories that no one seemed to scrutinize Blair enough to see that they wouldn't be getting rid of the Tories at all, just enthusiastically electing a wolf in sheep's clothing who had gone to Australia to kneel at Rupert Murdoch's feet and kiss his ring and then run around saying things like, "We're all Thatcherites now!" He won handily and made up some obvious lunacy about how Saddam could hit us with a nuclear bomb in 45 minutes or by next Christmas, apparently by magic since Saddam had never tested a nuclear device and had no delivery systems. Everyone was upset about the invasion of Iraq, but there was a problem. The only Labour politician who seemed to be in any position to challenge Blair's leadership was Robin Cook, a vocal opponent of the invasion and never an enthusiastic New Labour supporter. Cook, at 59, had a heart attack and fell and died while on holiday. By then, Bryan Gould, who might once have been competition for Blair, had already given up and returned to academic life in New Zealand, leaving no one with a high enough profile to fight for leadership, which left us with only Blair's hand-picked successor when Blair finally decided to retire to the Carlyle Group. (There was a short moment when the wonderful and much-loved Mo Molem might have been on the list of challengers, just before we learned about her cancer. She is still much missed.) As a sidebar, Blair pretty much turned the BBC into a sheepdog by attacking it for its now-proven-true report on how the Iraq intelligence had been "sexed up" to support Bush's invasion, forcing top heads to roll at the BBC and giving us a much less believable "news" organization. And all this time, Jeremy Corbyn was on the back bench and no one so much as fantasized in public about him ever being Labour leader, until New Labour drove the party to its worst ever crushing defeat this year against an unloved Tory government, and created this sudden opportunity, enlivening the Labour base and drawing many enthusiastic young people into the party. So that's a pretty big deal, and quite possibly big enough to win the next election, if Corbyn can manage to stay alive until then.
* There's an old anecdote about a new MP sitting in Parliament for the first time and expressing a certain excitement to be facing "the enemy", to which the man seated beside him, Winston Churchill, is purported to have said, "No, that is the Opposition Party. The enemy is all around you." It's worth remembering that Corbyn's enemies in the right-wing of the party worked hard to try to keep this from happening, but, happily, their image is so tarnished and New Labour so out of touch that their rhetoric doesn't even make sense to anyone other than Tories, so it simply didn't work. (This does not mean that they aren't still trying to sabotage him.) The Democratic Party establishment, however, is much more clever and well-rehearsed these days, and quite experienced at back-stabbing its own candidates - and still has many of its supporters so completely dazzled that even now they run around daily posting little "Facebook memes" touting the brilliance of Obama for "saving" the economy and reducing the deficit, as if he hadn't merely saved the banks from facing the music after robbing the country blind to pay off their gambling debts while Obama's austerity measures sucked more and more blood out of the remainder of the economy. For half the country, we are already in a depression, and these idiots are still bragging about how Obama saved us from another depression. Even if Sanders wins the nomination, it would be a mistake to think it's just the Republicans we have to worry about.

Harold A. Pollack in The Atlantic, on Saving SSDI. You can listen to Sam Seder's interview with him here.

Billionaires Try To Shut Down Bernie Sanders Headquarters "Why don't they inherit it just like we do?"
* Oh, look, someone put Jon Stewart's bit on Bernie Sanders where I could actually see it.

From HuffPo, "Dear America: Meet Bernie Sanders. Properly, This Time [...] No candidate is ever inevitable and no candidate is ever doomed -- that is not how democracy works. A society that continually wishes to achieve political change in the most passive way possible is not a society that will ever achieve political change. A candidate is only inevitable or doomed if the voting public decides that to be the case."

Hillary trailing Bernie in New Hampshire, 49-38
Bernie Sanders takes the lead over Hillary Clinton in Iowa poll: Poll released Thursday found 41% of likely Democratic primary voters in the crucial early voting state would vote for Sanders, versus 40% for Clinton." Not so much a lead as a statistical tie, but still good news for Sanders supporters.

Kareem Abdul Jabbar is feeling the Bern.

"Bernie Sanders picks up megaphone, walks union picket in Cedar Rapids [...] Sanders, a U.S. senator from Vermont and candidate for the Democratic presidential nomination, joined perhaps 100 Cedar Rapids-area union workers in an 'informational picket' outside Penford Products, a corn processor where the Bakers Confectioners Tobacco Grain Millers union local 100G is negotiating a new contract with the management. Sanders strolled up to the picket shortly before 5:30 p.m., picked up a sign stapled to a long stick and marched with the crowd to a park across the street from the plant. [...] Sanders' boisterous, arm-waving speech went deep into the details of the union local's disagreement with Penford - even calling out the CEO by name and criticizing her pay package. At one point the microphone went out, but he continued in a loud, hoarse voice until the man who had been leading chants during the picket approached and handed him a megaphone, which he took and used to finish his speech." There's a bit of video here where it says you can read the full story, which maybe you can, but I didn't see anything much but the video there. Browser issue, or did you get that, too?
* Also, Bernie on undocumented immigrants and what they didn't do to wreck America's economy.
* The Raw Story says, "Bernie Sanders' popularity continues to soar - despite a conspicuous mainstream media bias against him," but if you check out this CNN stream, you can see there's been some coverage of him, anyway. Of course, this doesn't tell me how much most Americans are seeing of this stuff, since it's still broadcast television that seems to be the main source of news for most people.
* Imagine my surprise at learning that Bernie's brother stood for Parliament in the UK, for the Green Party. He lost to a white South African immigrant.

Not sure why the headline for this video says "Biden Presidential Run Could Destroy Hillary's Pro-Corporate Candidacy," but we all know which candidate is the real threat to Clinton's candidacy.

Now, I'm sure you all know that I have been against another Clinton going to the White House for a long time, but not because of the "email scandal", which is only a scandal in that the press keeps running with it. I don't care how she handled it, it just is not a serious issue and has nothing to do with anything, it's like Whitewater all over again - no There there. The real scandal - and it's a big one - is that the press keeps covering it even though I'm sure most of them don't even know if she did anything wrong or not, mostly because they don't actually read up on the news so they wouldn't know that even the Republicans can't actually point to anything wrong or illegal in this. And while sexism has always been a factor, I think the Clinton Rules are a bigger one, because the press went crazy against the Clintons after Bill Clinton was nominated and they have never stopped treating every single rumor and lie about either Clinton as the gospel truth, nor failed to find a way to brand even their most innocent activities as conniving and dishonest. And after it turned out the Republicans had been hacking the Democrats' emails, I don't blame Hillary for wanting to keep her correspondence on a separate server, anyway. I wouldn't even go so far as to call it dumb. Dumb would be reducing the number of Democratic primaries and keeping a low profile while the press has nothing much else to report in the race except to cover and re-cover the email "scandal".

"You can wave your arms and give a speech but at the end of the day are you connecting with and really hearing what people are either saying to you or wishing that you would say to them? - Hillary Clinton. And are you really hearing people recoil in horror against TPP and the XL Pipeline, Madame Secretary?
* "Five Reasons No Progressive Should Support Hillary Clinton" is from way back in February, but that makes it better than more recent articles that harp on the email thing. There are many good reasons to oppose another Clinton presidency.
* "Hillary Clinton's Kinder, Gentler War on Drugs Sounds Like Nixon's."
* Hillary apparently told a closed gathering of top donors and party leadership types that while Bernie is fighting for an ideology, she's trying to save their jobs. Not your jobs, but their jobs. I mean, it's not like Bernie is going to let people like Rubin and Geithner and Emanuel ruin our economy again, is it? That's via a page at Ring of Fire headlined, "Biden Shocks Hillary Crowd by Stating 'Bernie Sanders Doing a Helluva Job'." Hm, I wonder what he was saying, there....
* If Hillary Clinton was doing debt-scare language four years ago, has she learned any better since then?
* Charlie Pierce says, "Hillary Clinton Should Fire Her Entire Campaign Staff: The flailing frontrunner's backup is all too willing to throw her under the bus."
* Even The Hill says, "DNC should increase number of debates and let Sanders (and others) battle Clinton." They also say Debbie Wasserman Schultz is kow-towing to Clinton's campaign as a way to stay in Washington power-politics, since without Clinton, nobody wants her. Not that Clinton loves her, either, but she's a handy tool for keeping down the competition. "So, it's obvious to everyone that Clinton benefits from limited debate. It's also common knowledge that more debates will give Sanders and other challengers greater name recognition, thus cutting Clinton's lead in the polls even further."

Once again, the Canadian parliamentary election season contains some unusual choices.

David Dayen at The Intercept: "Warren Increases the Pain Factor for Choosing Corporate-Friendly Democrats [...] The Obama administration, despite a clear preference for moderates with Wall Street ties for financial regulatory positions, now must consider a far broader range of personnel. Warren and company have prioritized this, believing that personnel affects policy when regulators must implement and enforce laws, or exercise independent judgment. Reducing Wall Street's influence inside those agencies will have a salutary effect on outcomes."

"Justice Department Sets Sights on Wall Street Executives [...] The new rules, issued in a memo to federal prosecutors nationwide, are the first major policy announcement by Attorney General Loretta E. Lynch since she took office in April. The memo is a tacit acknowledgment of criticism that despite securing record fines from major corporations, the Justice Department under President Obama has punished few executives involved in the housing crisis, the financial meltdown and corporate scandals."

"Under new Oregon law, all eligible voters are registered unless they opt out." As it should be.

"Obama Orders Federal Contractors To Provide Paid Sick Leave." Of course, he could have done this six years ago, too.

"How many deaths of cops and those in police custody happened in Orange County since 1980? New California database has revealing numbers: Over the span of a generation in Orange County, nearly twice as many Hispanics died at the hands of police in 'justified homicides' as did whites, according to a trove of historical data released Wednesday by California Attorney General Kamala Harris."

5 facts exposing the media's lies about police shootings

Here is Michael Shermer's recent Scientific American article on "Forensic Pseudoscience, which much of what the cops use as "evidence" amounts to. Even fingerprints are unreliable, and CSI is, of course, a science fiction show. But people go to jail all the time based on phony science that has never been peer reviewed but can snow a jury that doesn't know any better and watches too many cop shows.

In The Nation, "What a Band of 20th-Century Alabama Communists Can Teach Black Lives Matter and the Offspring of Occupy

Ian Welsh, "Three Simple Policy Heuristics: First: Do no harm. Second: Be kind. Third: Remove the ability or reason for people to do harm."

Washington State Court Rules Charter Schools Unconstitutional

Three Rich Treasury Secretaries Laugh It Up Over Income Inequality. "It's just too easy for politicians to be populist and to look for scapegoats as opposed to dealing with the real problem." Proof that the people who've been running our economies have no idea how economies work or are just plain lying. I vote for the latter. You did this on purpose, you bastards!

"Court Rules Argentina Creditors Can't Seize Its Central Bank" - This is an interview with Bill Black, who explains: "Argentina dollarized its economy by pegging its peso at 1:1 with the U.S. dollar. And this was heavily supported by the right in the United States and by conservative economists, who held Argentina out as the great lesson for everybody else. But it ended in disaster. Because they no longer had a sovereign currency, as the U.S. dollar went up in value. Argentina could no longer export successfully, and there was an economic disaster. They were forced into the largest sovereign default in world history at roughly $100 billion, and this led to an economic crisis in Argentina. But also Argentina, in some sense, had no choice. The debt was completely unsustainable at $100 billion." And things might have been okay, until the Vulture Funds stepped in....

Catholics for Choice responds to Francis' statement on abortion.

Hawaii Will Turn Old City Buses Into Mobile Homeless Shelters With Showers

RIP: Candida Royalle, 64, of ovarian cancer. "She founded Femme Productions in 1984 in order to make female-oriented erotica and films aimed at couple's therapy. Later, Royalle authored How to Tell a Naked Man What to Do: Sex Advice from a Woman Who Knows.
* Judy Carne of Laugh-In, at 76
* Martin Milner of Route 66 and Adam 12, at 83

An interesting way to look at things: "Newsflash: Elite universities are supposed to produce elites. That's their job", but Tragically, elite universities are doing a terrible job of producing responsible elites. This is partly because they've become inexplicably uncomfortable with admitting that this is, in fact, what their job is..
* I'm not really sure "The Rise of Victimhood Culture" is looking at anything new. but I imagine it can feel new if you've forgotten a lifetime of watching people become downright crazy over some sense of being aggrieved, and how most people tend to either assume that "normal" people would agree with their position or try to round up supporters from their friendship or family circles and, yes, the wider community and the authorities. I do think a lot of people feel they have permission to be divas over a much wider array of interpersonal actions and to take offense in situations where the behavior involved really doesn't have to be interpreted as offensive at all. But, certainly, the attitude of, "Hey, my ox has been gored! Those bastards need to be taught a lesson! Who's with me?" is not exactly a feature of these particular times.

Please Stop Using the 'Fire in a Crowded Theater' Metaphor.

This was an amusing anti-emigration rant that apparently went viral on Facebook.

The oldest video footage of New York City

Nathan Fillion's Muppet Saunter of Shame

Safe sex with The Golden Girls

Don't you need this t-shirt? (Or you can get the decal for your computer.)

The Lord of the Rings: The Fellowship of the Ring - Thug Notes Summary & Analysis

Pies that look too cool to eat. Well, actually, I could be moved, especially to eat Cthulhu pie.

Fun with landscaping
* A Night on Earth

It appears I can watch one of my favorite episodes of Hamish MacBeth, "A Perfectly Simple Explanation," in a tiny, boxed and distorted video on YouTube.

B.B. King, "Guess Who"

A fine musical moment from the first Colbert Late Show

Fred & Ginger, 1936, "Let's Face The Music And Dance"


  1. I'm very glad Corbyn won. The corporate media freakout (including the Guardian) was most illuminating.

    I hope we can have some of that here? Sanders 2016!

  2. "Everyone was so happy to finally get rid of the Tories that no one seemed to scrutinize Blair enough to see that they wouldn't be getting rid of the Tories at all"

    Paralleled almost exactly by Obama supporters in 2008 (myself included). At least I woke up--Dem partisans have become the worst caricature of the dittohead conservatives they once lampooned.

    And I'm with you re: Clinton. I could care less if she sent state secrets inside bottles. Why does that cause so much fuss among courtiers when what Manning and Snowden disclosed didn't. That said, I think Clinton dems actually would prefer to talk about her emails than her corporate friendly hawkish bs. They can play the victim vis a vis those evil republicans and the media. Being loyal to immensely rich, self serving politicians never fails to amaze me.

  3. Coincidentally, I have had that video of "Let's Face the Music and Dance" for many moons now because I tend to play it two or three times a week. Well, there's still moonlight and music...

    I noticed the Chicken Little response to Corbyn's election.

  4. "these idiots are still bragging about how Obama saved us from another depression"

    Yeah, when they're not busy talking about how he gave us universal healthcare.

  5. thanks, a good rundown on the best surprise since Alberta in May, that shocked the punditry by pitching out its Big Oil gov't and putting in some DFH's with the interests of the public in their sites - not as targets to shoot down, but targets to achieve.

  6. Replies
    1. Good stuff. And is if we required further evidence: