Kevin Logan’s Video Comment on Brexit

March 30, 2017

I found this very succinct and apt comment on Brexit on Kevin Logan’s channel on YouTube. It’s an extract from a video, in which a young man pushes his car over the edge of a cliff on a mountain road, utterly wrecking it. Logan’s added his own comments, with arrows pointing to the man labelling him a ‘Leave Voter’, and the car as the ‘Economy’. It’s an entirely accurate comment. The economy is set to take a massive hit from Britain leaving the EU, and we have been pushed into this by the people, who voted ‘Leave’. And this video simply shows you how self-destructive this policy is in a few short minutes, cutting through all the waffle and detailed political commentary.

The Young Turks Lay in to Daily Mail’s Sexist Cover

March 30, 2017

The Daily Heil regularly judges women and girls on their appearance, rather than their intellectual abilities and achievements, but a few days ago they surpassed themselves by running a piece by Sarah Vine about whether Theresa May or Nicola Sturgeon had the best legs as their cover story. The headline was ‘Never Mind Brexit, What about Legs-It’ or something similar, and showed a photograph of May and Sturgeon sitting together in skirts which rose above the knees. And The American progressive internet news show, The Young Turks, have duly laid into the article for its sexism.

Cenk Uygur noted that Theresa May just shrugged it off as a ‘bit of a laugh’, as she would, considering that one of her press secretaries used to work for the Heil. Ed Miliband, the former Labour leader, simply commented that ‘the 1950s called. They want their headline back.’ Uygur and his co-host, Ana Kasparian, then ripped into the article proper. This raved about how the women’s ‘pins’ and ‘shanks’ were the two women’s greatest weapons. However, Theresa May sat demurely, as befitting the public schoolgirl vicar’s daughter she was. Sturgeon, however, was rather more sexy, ‘seductively’ pointing her feet at the audience.

Uygur and Kasparian point out that the article’s describing two of the most powerful women in Britain – the British Prime Minister, and the First Minister of Scotland. These two ladies were discussing a vitally important issue – Britain’s departure from the European Union, which also threatens to destroy the three-century old union with Scotland, should Scots vote to remain in the EU. And the Daily Mail is there trivialising the issue into a simple contest over which one had the better legs. Uygur says at one point that he doesn’t know what Vine’s ‘proclivities’ are, but Sturgeon wasn’t trying to seduce the audience. She was just sitting there. Kasparian was also deeply unimpressed about the Mail’s blatant sexism, and advised Vine to go off and examine her life.

Here’s the video:

This rather unsavoury piece of journalism is very much par for the course for the Mail, whose articles frequently comment on the appearance of female personalities and celebrities. The newspaper was specifically aimed at a female readership when it was set up in the 20s or 30s. It was aimed at the wives of the men, who read the Torygraph. Despite this, it has a very strong anti-feminist stance. In the 1990s it ran an article about a group of women calling themselves the fluffragettes. These young women were a kind of anti-feminist group, who wanted women to go back to being more ‘feminine’ – in their view – by being ‘fluffy’. And feminists have frequently criticised the paper for the way it judges women by their appearance. This is not just demeaning, but also dangerous. Many girls and young women are severely anxious about their bodies, which can and does lead to problems like eating disorders and an obsessive concern with pursuing an illusory ideal of female beauty and physical perfection, an ideal that can take over and ruin the lives of women, who have absolutely nothing wrong with their appearance in the first place. And this is quite apart from fostering the attitude that, whatever else a woman may achieve, her primary role is simply to look good.

This whole issue also distorts and complicates attitudes in the workplace. Since the 1970s feminists have been campaigning against sexual harassment at work. Again, a few years ago there was a piece of research, in which groups of men and women were shown or played footage of a man greeting female colleagues in various ways, including commenting on their appearance. This was done in order to gauge what the audience considered sexual harassment. Normal greetings at the start of the working day, like ‘Good morning, Mrs X,’, or ‘Hi, Sue’ obviously don’t count. When it involves commenting on a woman’s appearance, it can be sexist or demeaning, or be construed as such.

The Mail’s obsession with female appearance creepily extends to teenage girls. A few years ago Ian Hislop and some of the other panelists on Have I Got News For You also laid into the Heil for its very dubious moral stance in whipping up fears about predatory paedophiles, when it also ran sexualised articles about teenage girls. They made the point that the newspaper regularly printed articles showing photographs of 14 year old girls under headlines admiring their beauty.

I have to say I was really somewhat amazed by the Mail’s attitude, as it didn’t strike me that there was anything particularly sexy about the women’s pose. May and Sturgeon are politicians, which is hardly a physically glamorous profession. One comedian once said that it was ‘Hollywood for ugly people’. It’s not entirely true, but it does make the point that most politicians aren’t there because of their good looks. Nor should they be. The only criteria for their election to office should be whether they are effective representatives of their constituencies and good managers and leaders. And it also goes without saying that they should also be moral, law-abiding citizens.

It’s also not a bad idea to have a female journo commenting on May and Sturgeon as politicians and negotiators. There’s one strand of feminism, which says that women bring a different set of skills and perspectives to politics than their male comrades. I did wonder whether Thatcher deliberately excluded women from her cabinet, because they could see through her management strategies in a way that may not have been apparent to the men there, and so formed a potential challenge to her authority. If women do have a different leadership style, then it would make sense to have a female writer analyse it, as she might be able to perceive subtle nuances that may not be quite so apparent to a bloke.

But this was precisely what the article didn’t give us. We didn’t get any deep insights into the debate about Brexit and the British constitution between the two leaders. We just got a bit of drivel about which one had the better ‘pins’. It really does make you wonder about the people writing and reading the Heil. My guess is that many of the hacks there have come from the even lower end of the tabloid spectrum, like the Scum, which regularly feature various attractive young women in states of undress. The Heil is supposedly somewhat above this style of journalism, but as this headline showed, not by much. The journalistic urge to write about how glamorous and sexy a woman is, is still very much there. It’s just that it’s now applied to female politicians.

I think Ana Kasparian’s right. Someone at the Heil desperately needs to sort their life out. Or take a cold shower, at least.

Starvation: the Latest Part in the Tories Long Campaign against Young Mothers

March 28, 2017

Mike this evening put up a piece reporting that a survey of 300 young mothers found that they were experiencing severe financial problems. Two-thirds of those questioned said that they were only just managing, and a quarter had been forced to use food banks.

This is disgusting, and Mike takes apart the equally revolting attempts of the DWP to put a positive spin on these statistics. They claimed that it was ‘encouraging’ that more children were living in ‘working households’. Mike points out the obvious: this has absolutely nothing to do with child poverty. Similarly, doubling free childcare for three and four years may look like an improvement, but it’s questionable how many this will actually help.

And he also shoots down the lie that ‘work coaches’ are ‘encouraging people into jobs’. They don’t encourage. They just bully, adding more stress to people already under considerable financial strain.

See: http://voxpoliticalonline.com/2017/03/28/young-mothers-are-starving-because-they-are-shortchanged-on-benefits-and-cant-find-paying-work/

Mike makes clear the reasons why these young women are starving: they’re being short-changed on benefits, and can’t find paying work. This is, of course, all part of the Tories long campaign to create a cowed, impoverished workforce willing to accept any job, no matter how poor the conditions and pay.

But it’s also part of the deeper Tory hostility to young mothers. Mike acknowledges this in his article, stating that the Tories’ hidden policy here is to prevent people having children at a young age. He’s right, and some of them have expressed their hatred of young mums in particularly grotesque rhetoric. Way back in the 1970s Maggie’s mentor, Keith Joseph, declared that unmarried teen mothers were ‘a threat to our stock’ – a nasty eugenicist turn of phrase, for which he was rightly pilloried. It’s even more sinister when you realise that Sweden continued sterilising people on eugenics grounds right into the 1970s. Among those targeted for sterilisation as a threat to Swedish genetic stock were promiscuous young women. I don’t know if Joseph wanted to see such legislation introduced here, so he could sterilise a few British unmarried mothers. Given his comments, it really wouldn’t surprise me.

A little while ago I posted up here episodes I found on YouTube of a BBC series broadcast in the 1980s investigating government secret and the way this undermined democracy. In one edition of the programme, they discussed the way the police had compiled secret reports and records of ordinary people they found suspicious, even though they had committed no crime. These included young people simply following the latest fashions in dress and music, like punks. In one area, they were also writing down the names of young pregnant women, who did not appear to have boyfriends.

And then in the 1990 there was the unsavoury spectacle of Peter Lilley prancing about the stage at the Tory conference one year, reading out his ‘little list’ in what he thought was a parody of the Mikado. On it, amongst all the other people, like the unemployed and welfare recipients he and the rest of the attendees hated were unmarried mothers.

This is why so many young mothers are finding it so difficult to cope now. The Tories have always despised them as part of the ‘undeserving’ poor, to use the language of the Victorians that Maggie thought was so ‘virtuous’. And so I doubt very much whether they are at all sorry to see these poor young women starve. In fact, given the eugenicist views expressed by Keith Joseph, I can imagine some are probably only too delighted.

Which raises the question whether these women are also part of those targeted for ‘chequebook genocide’ – the term Mike has coined for those the Tories seem happy to see starve to death after having their benefits removed. Mike coined the term in response to the deaths and mass poverty caused by the DWP and their wretched Work Capability Assessment. As Jeffrey Davies on here has pointed out, the congenitally disabled were the subject of Nazi extermination as well as the Jews, Gypsies and others they considered subhuman. Mike and many other bloggers from the Left and disability rights movements have speculated whether the Tories have the same policy, but heavily disguised. The news that a quarter of young mothers now have to use food banks makes you wonder if they’re also targeted for extermination as a threat to ‘our stock’, in the same way that the Swedes also forcibly sterilised promiscuous young women.

Future Possible ESA Space Launchers from 2005

March 26, 2017

The British Interplanetary Society published these designs for a possible future space launcher for ESA, the European Space Agency, in their magazine Spaceflight, vol. 47, no.5, for May 2005. Below it was a caption explaining some of them. This read

Artist sketch of several concepts considered under ESA’s Future Launcher Preparatory Programme (FLPP). On top left are the European eXPEriment Re-entry Testbed (EXPERT) capsule and the Intermediate Experiment Vehicle (IVX), a hypersonic re-entry demonstrator. Below are the Phoenix suborbital reusable demonstrator and two concepts advanced reusability demonstrators.

On the right are concepts for future operational launch systems – a fully reusable winged shuttle, a fully expendable launcher and partly reusable launch vehicle.

Maintaining a guaranteed access to space for Europe is one of ESA’s strategic missions. In order to prepare the future European launch systems, which might replace the current Ariane launchers when they will have to retire, ESA and European space industry are reviewing multiple concepts to ensure the continuity of European space transportation while reducing the cost of putting payloads into orbit.

In 2001 it was proposed the ESA Council should set up a programme to assess concepts for future European launchers. The result was the decision to set up the FLPP. This programme, kicked off in 2004, covers the further development of expendable launchers as well as the identification and assessment of technologies required to design partly or fully reusable launch systems.

I’m afraid I don’t know what, if anything, was decided about these spacecraft. For all I know some or all of them may still be under consideration. If Skylon does become a reality and begins flights from a British spaceport in 2020, I think it’ll probably stimulate interest in competing spaceplanes from the other European nations, such as the Hermes spaceplane in France and the Saenger craft in Germany.

Thanks to Clintonites, Massive Fall in People Calling Themselves Democrats

March 23, 2017

In this clip from the Jimmy Dore Show, Dore and his three co-hosts discuss poll research showing that the number of people calling themselves Democrats has fallen dramatically. In 2008 when Barack Obama was elected, 40 per cent of Americans called themselves Democrats. Now, in March 2017, it’s only 25 per cent. The number of people calling themselves ‘Independents’ however has risen to 44 per cent. Dore makes the point that instead of automatically voting for Hillary Clinton and expecting her to work for them afterwards, the Democratic base should have made it very clear that they were not going to vote for her unless she did. He also suggests that Progressives wishing proper welfare reforms, worker’s rights and single-payer healthcare, should have considered voting for the Greens. If only 10 per cent of the people, who wanted Bernie to win the Democratic nomination, had voted for the Greens instead, then the Democratic party would have had to wake up to the fact that they needed to win votes there, and moved left. He also expresses disappointment with Sanders for staying loyal to the Democrat party and going Independent, where he could have stood a better chance of winning.

His female co-host makes the point that she is sick of the Democrats, because they aren’t doing anything for working, middle class Americans. Her fellows agree that the Democrats aren’t doing anything to challenge Trump, except to run Red scares and repeatedly claim that they’re fighting for ordinary Americans, when they’re just as corrupt and corporatist as the Republicans.

I’m posting this up not only to show how unpopular the corporatist Dems are in America, but also to refute the main argument and tactic of the Blairites in the Labour party. Blair modeled ‘New Labour’ on Bill Clinton’s ‘New Democrats’. The idea was to move rightward, away from the welfare state and the traditional Labour and Democrat bases in order to win votes from Conservatives in Britain and Republicans in America. This is the so-called ‘centre ground’ the corporatists in both Labour and the Democrats keep banging on about. Both the Democrats in America and the Blairites over here are absolutely convinced that elections can only be won through appealing to Republican voters.

This poll shows the opposite. It shows that rather than gaining voters, the ability of both parties to win elections has actually been harmed by their pursuit of Conservative policies. In Britain, the Labour party actually lost 5 million voters during Blair and Brown’s tenancy in Downing Street. The Labour party now is the largest Socialist party in Europe, and much of that is due to new members joining after the election of Jeremy Corbyn.

And, as the recent revelation about Rachel Reeves’ secret email shows, the Blairites in Labour are willing to do anything they can to keep Corbyn and his supporters out of power. They have shown more than once that they are prepared to split the Labour party, rather than have a genuine centre-left leadership.

Guy Debord’s Cat in one of his recent articles has argued that if all the left-wingers were to walk out and form their own party, the remaining Blairite rump would fade to insignificance. I think this strategy would be suicidally dangerous, but these polls show that it could happen. After all, there are enough disenchanted Democrats to make voting third party a possible viable option.

See: https://buddyhell.wordpress.com/2017/02/27/the-blair-murdoch-axis-and-the-lack-of-choice-for-voters/

I don’t want the Labour party to be split, however. What I would like is for the Blairites to get the message that their shenanigans are and will ruin the Labour party, and that they will never win an election trying to pose as Tory Party no. 2. Failing that, they should go and join the Tories. This is, after all, their natural home. The first thing Blair did when he got into No. 10 when he was elected was to invite her to tea. And the Blairite leadership of one CLP was so terrified of the Corbyn supporters winning, that they wrote to Conservatives and Lib Dems asking them to join to stop them.

Counterpunch on Washington’s Fear of a Russia-EU Superstate

March 23, 2017

There’s a very interesting article in today’s Counterpunch by Mike Whitney, which suggests that the current demonization of Russia and its president, Vladimir Putin in the American media and the build up of troops and military installations on Russia’s borders – in Poland and Romania, for example – is to prevent Russia joining the EU. It begins with a speech by Putin, from February 2012, in which Putin declared that Russia was an inalienable part of greater Europe, its people think of themselves as Europeans, and that is why Russia is moving to create a greater economic space, a ‘union of Europe’, stretching from the Atlantic to the Pacific. The carefully orchestrated ‘Orange Revolution’ in Ukraine, which saw the pro-Russian president ousted in favour of the current, pro-Western government, which includes unreconstructed Nazis, is part of Washington’s programme to prevent the emergence of this massive superstate.

The article revisits the Mackinder doctrine. This was the thesis, put forward by a geographer in the early 20th century, that the crux for global power is control of the Eurasian landmass. Mackinder believed that the powers that ruled it would become the dominant global power, while those on the Atlantic fringe of the landmass, such as Britain, would be doomed to decline. He notes that Russia is rich in supplies of oil and natural gas, which it can easily supply through the construction of projected pipelines, to Europe.

Whitney states that the Americans are also concerned at the way the Chinese are also increasing their economic connections across Eurasian through the construction of roads and railways allowing the rapid and efficient transhipment of their consumer goods. Hence the construction and reinforcement of American military bases in South Korea and in the Far East. The Americans hope to block China’s economic growth by dominating the sea lanes militarily.

Whitney also argues that the Russians and Chinese are emerging as the new, global economic powers against America because they are actually better at capitalism than the Americans are. They are building new infrastructure – roads, railways and pipelines, to allow them to exploit the markets in central Asia and Europe, while the Americans can only try to compete with them through threatening them with military force. Hence the continuation of the conflict in Syria with as a proxy war against Russia.

Whitney also makes the point that blocking the emergence of a single free trade block in Eurasia is vital for the survival of the American economy. The moment such a free trade zone stopped using the dollar it would knock one of the key financial supports out of the American economy, causing markets to collapse, the dollar to slump and the economy to fall into depression.

See: http://www.counterpunch.org/2017/03/23/will-washington-risk-ww3-to-block-an-emerging-eu-russia-superstate/

This is very interesting, as it shows just how far current international tensions with Putin’s Russia are caused by America’s fears of a resurgent Russia and China, and its own looming economic irrelevance. The use of the dollar as the international currency is absolutely critical in this. One of the reasons why Colonel Gadaffy was overthrown was because the ‘mad dog of the Middle East’ wanted to create an Arab economic bloc like the EU, which would use the dinar rather than the dollar as its international currency. America’s economy is propped up to a very large degree through the use of the dollar as the international currency of the petrochemical industry. Once that goes, the American economy, and its status as the world’s only superpower, goes up. Hence the Americans determination to have him overthrown, even if that meant the collapse of Libya as a functioning state and the replacement of its secular welfare state by a hardline theocratic regime.

There’s a considerable amount wrong with the EU, but it also has enormous economic, legal and political benefits. In the 19th century, British companies played a large part in Russia’s industrialisation. Before the Revolution, one of the main Russian cities was called Yusovska, a name derived from ‘Hughes’, the surname of the British industrialist, who had set up a company there. By voting to leave the EU, we may also have missed the opportunity to benefit from closer economic contacts with Russia and China. Or rather, England has. Scotland voted to remain, and this may well begin the break-up of the United Kingdom. In which case, Scotland may well be in an economically stronger position than England. We English may well have consigned ourselves to increasing irrelevance and decline on the global stage, just to satisfy the xenophobic wishes of the Tory right.

Damian Green Excited about Taking Away Worker’s Rights to Stable Hours, Pensions, Sick Pay and Holiday Pay

March 23, 2017

Iain Duncan Smith’s loathsome successor at the DWP, Damian Green, has described his government’s moves to strip workers of the rights to stable working hours, holiday pay, sick pay and pensions as ‘exciting’ and with ‘huge potential’, Mike reports over at Vox Political. Mike makes the point that Green, as a former journalist, has enjoyed all the rights that he now wants to see taken away from working people in Britain.

He wants to see the majority of people consigned to poverty, job insecurity and the fear of contact with the assessors at his draconian department. And if this is viewed alongside the government’s other policies, it’s very clear that he’s delighted at employees not being able to afford to take time off when they’re ill. And in any case, after the Tories privatise the NHS, they’ll never be able to afford treatment any way. Just as he wants people to be unable to afford to retire, so that they have to keep on slaving for exploiters like him right up to the moment they did.

Mike concludes

Please, Britain, get a clue. This man – and his friends – hate you. They only want to hurt you. Put a stop to their plans while you still can. Never vote Conservative.

See: http://voxpoliticalonline.com/2017/03/23/twisted-damian-green-thinks-its-exciting-that-future-jobs-may-not-have-stable-hours-holiday-pay-sick-pay-or-pensions/

Be prepared also for the drivel that the Tories will spout to justify this. If challenged about this, we’ll doubtless hear how such reforms are needed in order to make the labour market more ‘flexible’. It’s the same drivel the Tories and Blairites have spouted, when they started stripping workers of their rights and introduced such wonderful, exciting, reforms as making it easier to sack workers, introducing zero hours contracts and the like. The same journalists and business managers also found it wonderful when John Major’s governments introduced the legislation that permitted employees to be kept on short-term contracts. I can remember the Financial Times raving about how workers would be able to move from job to job, and create ‘job portfolios’ to impress employers. Thus was the beginnings of the current precarity introduced under the Tories back in the 1990s, and sold to the public, or at least the financial class. I think some of the journalists have woken up to the fact that short-term contracts and the idea of ‘job portfolios’ are nonsense. Not that the press hasn’t gone so far as to scrap the whole idea of job insecurity. That would mean scrapping one of the key planks of Thatcherism and Blairite ‘New Labour’.

Sam Seder’s Majority Report: Theresa May Laughs Like an Evil Robot

March 23, 2017

Yes, I know this is ad hominem, and not a reasoned rebuttal of the Tories’ policies. But I’m posting this up to show that American progressives also find Theresa May thoroughly revolting. In this clip from The Majority Report, Sam Seder’s co-host comments on a clip of Theresa May laughing in derision at one of Jeremy Corbyn’s questions. The laugh is so strange, that the presenter says he’s prepared to believe that she’s actually one of the lizard shapeshifters. This is a reference to David Icke’s bonkers theory that the Illuminati who run in the world, including leading politicians like Ted Heath, are really alien reptoids. He also wonders if the laugh might be genuine, but May laughs so rarely that it’s strange when it comes out.

He concludes by wondering what Jeremy Corbyn’s doing wrong to lose in the polls to her, so repugnant does he find her. He even remarks that Corbyn must be in real trouble to lose to that.

It looks to me very strongly that it’s a forced laugh. Listening to Corbyn’s question, it appears that he was asking whether she made some kind of sweetheart deal over funding with the local council that’s escaped some of the Tory cuts, as Mike’s blogged about this week. Corbyn’s obviously hit the nail right on the head, hence the very fake mirth.

Not that she’s remotely alone in making that kind of forced laugh in response to an uncomfortable comment or question. Waaaay back in the 1990s Harry Enfield remarked on one of the chat shows at the time how MPs always put on the same forced laugh when someone makes a statement or comment they can’t refute. This is exactly what’s going on here.

As for Corbyn being unable to beat her in the polls, this is simply because every media outlet runs nothing but smears and attacks on him, and the Blairites in his own party are doing everything they can to force him out. This is because he’s a threat to the Tory-Lib Dem-Blairite project to privatise the NHS and destroy any kind of worker’s rights in favour of giving tax breaks to rich corporate donors.

Policeman Killed by Terrorist Should Get Award for His Sacrifice

March 23, 2017

I’ve been listening to the news about the vile terrorist attack that occurred in London yesterday. Like everyone else, I’m disgusted by this man’s horrific attack on the innocent ordinary citizens on the bridge, including Aysha Frade, a Spanish teacher at a sixth form college, and the French students, who have been injured.

I believe that Keith Palmer, the police officer stabbed to death by the terrorist, should be posthumously given an award for his heroism in sacrificing his own life to defend the politicos, civil servants, members of the public inside the palace of Westminster.

I also have nothing but respect for the response of the medical staff of one of the hospitals, who rushed out to give immediate aid to the victims. This too was an act of bravery, as they did not know whether they themselves would also be targeted for attack.

Of all the speeches being made by the politicians about it, I think one of the most profound points was made by Ken Livingstone. Livingstone pointed out that London had survived the Blitz, and would survive this. He also said that the terrorists’ intention is to provoke non-Muslims to attack Muslims. However, after the 7/7 attacks, not one Muslim was attacked in retaliation. He followed this with the observation that the people coming to our country are attracted by our values of tolerance and community, and don’t want to change them.

It’s an excellent point, and needed to be said before the bigots of the extreme right try to capitalise on this terrible incident to demonise Muslims in turn, and create the hatred and division the killer and his vile collaborators want.

Peace, Thoughts and Prayers to the Victims of Today’s Attacks in London and Parliament

March 22, 2017

Joanna, one of the great commenters here, posted this. She speaks for all of us.

I would like wish the family of the police officer who died today, peace and condolences during the coming days and weeks, and I hope all those who were injured today, a swift and complete recovery!! My heart goes out to all of those who were affected by the terrorist attack!

Absolutely. May God bless all the victims and their families of today’s horrible violence.