Posts Tagged ‘gay marriage’

American Politico Rick Santorum Calls People with Medical Conditions ‘Scammers’ Trying to Steal Health Insurance

March 2, 2017

In this video from The Ring of Fire, presenter Farron Cousins rips into Republican politician Rick Santorum for his mean-spirited, bigoted comments about people with pre-existing medical conditions. Santorum appeared on CNN this week, where he described people with these conditions as ‘scammers’ who were trying to steal others’ medical care. Farron points out that he didn’t describe how this was being done, when a scam is a deceit that is carefully planned and executed. He points out that people with medical conditions like diabetes or heart conditions aren’t scammers, trying to cheat others out of their healthcare. They are often people, who haven’t even spent a day doing anything wrong, who would otherwise find it extremely difficult to get medical care without Obama’s Affordable Care Act. How dare they take medical care away from those Americans, who don’t really need it! He makes the point that this is the common Republican strategy of trying to get people to turn on each other, as they’ve done with immigration.

This time, however, it won’t work. Ill health affects everyone, regardless of their political affiliation, Republicans and Libertarians just as much as Democrats, Green Partiers or whoever. By sneering at people with these medical problems, Santorum also shows how much he despises that segment of the Republican party who have them.

Cousins then lays into Santorum’s own massive political incompetence. He’s repeatedly tried and failed to get the presidential nomination. Cousins makes the point that he’s a stupid man, who says whatever comes into his head, who has so far been fundamentally lucky, but thinks it’s due to his own cleverness. With heavy sarcasm Cousins ends the clip ‘Good luck with your political career, Mr Santorum. You’re going to need it.’

Santorum is indeed no stranger to controversy. A few years ago his vocal opposition to gay marriage resulting in outrage gays and their supporters taking their own bizarre revenge against him. The submitted his name to the Urban Dictionary as the name for a substance too crudely biological to be decently mentioned in a family website.

It would be easy to dismiss Santorum’s comments as another product of the weird mentality of the American Right, which has no relevance to us Brits. But his mindset isn’t confined to him by any means.

It’s also very much the attitude of the Tories and the Blairites in the Labour party.

Mike and the other left-wing bloggers have pointed out that welfare fraud only accounts for 0.7 per cent of benefit claims. But thanks to the Tories and their media collaborators, like the Daily Heil and the Scum, the general public believes that it’s far more than that, and that roughly a quarter of all claims are fraudulent. This is how the Tories get their support for cutting down ESA, PIP and continuing with the wretched health assessments by ATOS and now Maximus.

And speaking of the work capability assessment, let’s not let Blair and his coterie in the Labour party off the hook for introducing it. Blair introduced it based on advice from insurance fraudster Unum and its head, John Lo Cascio, based on a piece of scientifically invalid nonsense, that considers poor health to be largely determined by mental attitude. Critics of the conference in which New Labour formulated its introduction of the tests and took the advice of Unum and other private health insurance companies on its implementation have repeatedly pointed out that the policy assumes that a large number of benefit claims are simply malingering. Blair and his minions even stated this at the conference in so many words.

The result of this is that there has been a massive rise in hate crime against the disabled. Mike last week reported the case of a young man with learning difficulties, who was beaten to death by a couple of young thugs. They seem to have thought their victim was a paedophile, but Mike also points out how much of their hate was inspired by the constant demonization of the ill and disabled by the Tories and their media.

And then there’s the role of the tests in creating massive poverty in this country. Mike, Stilloaks, Johnny Void, the Angry Yorkshireman, Kitty S. Jones and many, many other left-wing bloggers have posted up the names of some of the hundreds of victims of the Work Capability Assessment, who have died of starvation, misery or despair after being thrown off benefit. There’s even a whole website devoted to criticising it and the harm it’s doing to the sick and disabled: Atos Miracles. As Mike reported, another poor woman ended her life this week, thanks to the same malignant policy.

Mike, and Jeff3, one of the commenters on this blog, have repeatedly asked the rhetorical question whether behind all this there is a deliberate eugenics programme to cleanse Britain of its disabled by stealth, just as the Nazis started murdering the congenitally ill in the infamous Aktion T4 during the Third Reich. It’s a good question. Thatcher’s mentor, Sir Keith Joseph, stirred up controversy in the 1970s when he claimed that single mothers were a threat to British genetic stock. If it wasn’t for the fact that he was Jewish, he would have fitted right in with the Nazi party.

Santorum’s stupid, bigoted comments about the long-term sick and disabled being ‘scammers’ aren’t the exception. They aren’t the peculiarly twisted view of some nutty American right-winger. They’re bog-standard across the transatlantic Right. You find them in the Tories, their Lib Dem enablers, the Blairites in the Labour Party, and screaming at you every day in the page of the Murdoch Press, the Heil, Express and other tabloids. And this is having an effect. They’re encouraging a government determined to deny people support even if, or especially if, it kills them.

If you accept Santorum’s comments, if you support the Republicans in their repeal of the Affordable Care Act, or support the Tories and Lib Dems over here, or hanker for the return of Blair or one of his cabinet of horrors to return to lead the Labour party, you are supporting this policy of bigotry, murder and death.

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Reichwing Watch on Hillary Clinton as the Republican Democrat

November 15, 2016

The world was shocked last week by the election of Donald Trump over Hillary Clinton as the next president of the United States. The news showed footage of Clinton and her supporters weeping at the result. Yet as this documentary from Reichwing Watch shows, Clinton herself was no liberal. They describe her as a Republican Democrat. The description is accurate. As this documentary shows and concludes, she is like her Republican opponents a corporatist militarist, backing powerful companies, the military and the armaments industry against ordinary Americans, the environment, and the smaller nations of Latin America and Iraq, which have had the misfortune to feel the boot of American imperialism. And far from a supporter of women and ethnic minorities, the documentary also shows how she cynically sponsored the punitive legislation that has seen the mass incarceration and denial of federal welfare support to Blacks, defend truly horrific rapists and cover up Bill’s affairs and sexual assaults. All while claiming to be a feminist. The documentary also shows how Hillary was also extremely cynical about gay marriage, opposing it until the very last minute when it was politically expedient.

The documentary is divided into several chapters, dealing respectively with imperialism, Black rights, the gun lobby, the war on women, LGBT rights and corruption. It begins with a quote from Christopher Hitchens urging people not to vote for Hillary, as it is a mistake to support candidates, who are seeking election for therapeutic reasons. He then cites her husband, Bill, as an example.

Chapter 1: Building an Empire

This chapter begins with Killary’s support for the Iraq invasion, despite admissions from other members of the US Congress that the full scale industrial equipment needed to produce weapons of mass destruction was not found, and opposition to her and the invasion from Congressmen Kucinich, Bernie Sanders, Gravett, and the liberal news host, Jon Stewart. It also shows clips of Obama and Christopher Hitchens stating that she had the support of the Republicans for her stance on the Iraq invasion, including Henry Kissinger. Kissinger is rightly described by one of the speakers in this documentary as ‘the greatest unindicted war criminal in the world today’. It discusses how the US supported coup in Ecuador recalls the Kissinger sponsored coup in Chile that overthrew Salvador Allende in favour of the Fascist dictator, General Pinochet. It also mentions Killary’s sponsorship of the military coup in Honduras and the assassination of the indigenous rights leader, Berta Carceres. After the coup, Killary ensured that the regime received American aid, including military, in return for which American corporations also received lucrative contracts, especially in the construction of the dams. This section of the documentary also shows how Killary is absolutely ruthless and single-minded when it comes to pursuing her own projects, even at the possible expense of her husband’s interests. When Bill Clinton was finally considering intervening in Bosnia in the 1990s, Killary refused to support him until the very last minute as she was also afraid that this would affect her own healthcare reforms. She was also a firm supporter of No Fly Zones in Syria, despite the view of many others that these would lead directly to war with Russia.

Chapter II: Black Lives Matter

The title of this section of the documentary is highly ironic, considering that for much of her career, Shrillary hasn’t been remotely interested in Black rights, and indeed began her political involvement actively opposing them. She herself freely admits that when she was in college, she was a Goldwater Girl, supporting the segregationist Republican candidate Barry Goldwater. When Bill Clinton was governor of Arkansas, he and Hillary continued to celebrate Confederate Flag Day along with the rest of the reactionaries. There’s also a clip of her describing the threat of urban ‘super predators’ connected to the drug gangs. This was a term that at the time was used almost exclusively to describe Black men. There’s a clip of Michelle Alexander, the author of The New Jim Crow, about contemporary legislation designed to marginalise and impoverish Black America, denouncing the extremely punitive legislation Killary and Bill introduced as part of the war on drugs. These deny federal welfare aid to those convicted of drug offences for going to college, access to public housing and even food stamps. This was part of the Clinton’s strategy to win back swing voters, who had voted for Reagan and the Republicans. Clinton herself continued her strategy of appealing to White voters at the expense of Blacks. In 2008 she credited White voters for supporting her against Barack Obama. She also at one point discussed the assassination of Bobby Kennedy when answering a question about how long she planned to continue her campaign against Obama. She was viciously attacked for this by Stewart, who was outraged that she should mention this at a time when Obama was receiving death threats because of he was a Black man aiming at the presidency. Hillary was also herself extremely cynical in mentioning Obama’s Muslim background and upbringing. Without ever quite saying that he was a Muslim, and therefore shouldn’t be president, she nevertheless reminded people that he had been, thus reinforcing their prejudices.

Chapter III: The Gun Lobby

This begins with Hillary denouncing the armaments industry. However, once in power, she approved $122 million in sales for the gun firms, many of which produced the weapons used by Adam Lanza to shoot his mother and the other children at Sandy Hook school. She also managed to raise American armament sales abroad by 80 per cent over her predecessor, Condoleeza Rice, approving $165 billion of armaments sales in four years. These companies then invested part of their profits in the NRA, which sent lobbyists to Washington, several of whom, including representatives of Goldman Sachs, then went and attended a fundraising dinner for the Clintons.

Chapter IV: The War on Women

This concludes with a clip of Madeleine Albright urging women to vote for Clinton as ‘there is a special place in Hell for women, who do not help other women’. Yet Clinton’s own feminism and support for women is extremely patchy. This part of the documentary begins with her making a speech about how women’s rights are human rights, and vice versa. Which is clearly true. However, it then goes on to play a recording of her talking in 1975 about how she successfully defended a monstrous rapist, who had attacked a 12 year old girl. The girl was left in a coma for several months, needed considerable therapy to help her back on her feet afterwards. She has been on drugs, never married or had children. Her life has been ruined because of this monstrous assault, by a man Clinton knew was guilty, but successfully defended. Due to plea bargaining, he only served a derisory two months in prison.

This part of the documentary also shows how Hillary covered up for Bill’s affairs, and his sexual assault of Juanita Broderick. Broderick, then married, was a nurse at a nursing home, who had done some campaigning for the Clintons. They visited the home, during which Clinton sexually assaulted her in one of the bedrooms. Afterwards Killary approached her, caught her by the hand, and said that they appreciated how much she meant to her husband. Broderick clearly, and not unreasonably, considers this to be a veiled threat, and states that Killary frightened her. The section concludes with a piece about her support for another Democrat, Cuomo, and how this candidate was really another Republican in the guise of a Democrat, who believed in trickle-down Reaganite economics.

Chapter V: LGBT Rights

This begins with a clip from an interview with a gay serviceman, stating how it was very difficult initially in the navy when his sexuality was first known about. This section of the documentary shows how she actively opposed gay marriage until she thought there was votes in supporting it. She is seen supporting her husband’s ‘don’t ask, don’t tell’ policy towards gays in the military as a progressive position, despite the fact that Bill himself said it was only a compromise. It then shows her making speeches declaring that she believed marriage should only be between a man and a woman, and that New York State should not recognise gay marriage.

Chapter VI: Corruption

This part begins by discussing how the Clinton’s took money from Tyson’s, one of the major poultry producers in Arkansas, and one of the agri-businesses credited with polluting 3,700 miles of the states’ waterways. Clinton passed laws setting up a task force to looking into the problem, while ensuring that about a third of the seats on this quango went to Tyson’s. Tyson’s were an important contributor to the Clintons’ campaign funds, in return for which Bill passed laws favouring the firm, and allowing them to grow into the state’s biggest poultry firm.

And the corruption didn’t stop there. It goes on to show how Killary did absolutely nothing to challenge Walmart’s ban on trade unions when she was on their board, and the company still lags behind others in promoting women to important positions. She was also hypocritical in her ‘Buy American’ campaign to persuade Americans to buy domestically produced goods. While she was at Walmart, the company continued to sale imported goods, some of which were even misleadingly labelled as ‘made in America’. This included clothing made in factories in Bangladesh which employed 12 year old girls.

Elsewhere, Killary also campaigned against a bankruptcy bill promoted by the credit card companies in their favour, in a reversal of her previous policy. The also made $675,000 from three speeches to Goldman Sachs, speeches which she refused to release.

She has also been duplicitous in her support of the NAFTA and TPP free trade agreements. She accused Obama during his election campaign of supporting NAFTA, while secretly reassuring the Canadians that she really backed it herself. There is also a clip of Elizabeth Warren, another Democrat politician, attacking the TPP. Warren states that this free trade deal isn’t about developing commerce, but in giving more power to multinational companies at the expense of national governments and hard-working ordinary Americans. America already had free trade deals with very many of the countries included in the treaty. And about half of the TPP’s 30 chapters are devoted to giving more power to the companies.

This section of the documentary also includes a clip of Mika Brzezinski, the daughter of Carter’s foreign policy advisor, Zbigniew Brzezinski, talking about how Killary has no personal convictions of her own, and will say anything to get herself elected. This is followed by the veteran radical, Noam Chomsky, stating that Clinton’s Democrat party is really that of moderate Republicans. President Truman, who warned about the threat of the military-industrial complex, is by their standards now far to the Left. It also has a clip from an interview with one of the multibillionaire Koch brothers describing how they liked Bill Clinton over many Republicans. This one is, admittedly, rather more hesitant when it comes to whether he’d support Killary. There’s then footage from a speech by Bill Clinton promoting small government and how there isn’t a programme for every problem. This is followed by footage of Hillary herself stating that she isn’t dogmatically Republican or Democrat. The documentary ends with the description of her as the worst of the two defects of the American political system. She is both a militarist, and a promoter of corporate power.

Donald Trump is a monster, and his election has brought fear to many millions of ordinary Americans, particularly those from ethnic minorities. The Beeb yesterday reported that 300 racially motivated incidents had been recorded since he was elected last week. Non-white children have been bullied at school, racist slogans sprayed on Black and ethnic minority people’s property and vehicles, and the Nazis from Alt-Right have crawled out from their pits to spew hatred against the Jews. Trump’s even appointed Steven Bannon, a racist and anti-Semite executive from the right-wing news organisation, Breitbart, his ‘chief strategist’. America and the world are facing the prospect of a Nazi in the White House.

But Hillary herself is no angel. She’s a corporate, militarist monster, who supports the very big businesses that are bringing poverty to working people in America by lowering wages, denying union rights, polluting America’s great natural environment, and shipping jobs overseas.

And abroad, her pursuit of American imperial power, as expressed in the American military complex’s own jargon of ‘full spectrum dominance’ – in other words, absolute military power over the rest of us – has threatened to plunge the world once again into a Cold War and the prospect of nuclear annihilation. And her embrace of Henry Kissinger should be a mark of shame to any decent human being. This is the man, whose firm support of dictators in Latin America and Asia, and whose conduct of the Vietnam War, brought death and torture to tens, if not hundreds of millions of innocents.

And Killary herself has blood on her hands through her support of the Iraq invasion, and the coups in Ecuador and Honduras.

Quite frankly, considering the millions she’s threatened with torture, assassination, disappearance and the Fascist jackboot, I really honestly don’t have any sympathy with her weeping over her election defeat. She’s lucky. She didn’t get to be president, but no-one will be rounding her or her husband up to be raped or tortured by the secret police, before being murdered in a concentration camp. She doesn’t have to worry about Chelsea being murdered by a death squad. She gets to live, and enjoy her very privileged life as a major politico and businesswoman. The people she and the rest of the administrations she served and supported, who’ve had their lands invaded and governments overthrown, haven’t been so lucky.

Theresa May and the Faux-Feminism of the Tories

July 10, 2016

Okay, it appears from the latest developments in the Tory leadership contest that their next leader will not only be a woman, but probably Theresa May. May’s currently, I think, the Home Office Minister. Another Tory authoritarian, she’d like the spooks to have access to all our telecoms information to stop us joining ISIS and abusing children. Or at least, that’s what she says. Either way, she represents the continuing expansion of the secret state and its determination to pry into every aspect of our lives. Just in case we’re doing something illegal. In the polls Thursday night or so she won something like 144 votes compared to Andrea Leadsom’s 86 and Michael Gove’s 43. There was a shot of her at one of the party rallies, which showed Ian Duncan Smith, the former Minister in Charge of the Murder of the Disabled looking up at her with the same kind of rapture you see in pictures of Rudolf Hess at Nuremberg as he introduces Adolf Hitler.

May as the Modern Thatcher

The papers on Friday were full of the news of her probable victory. The Torygraph ran the headline, ‘If you want something said, go to a man. If you want something done, go to a woman’. Presumably this was a quote from May herself, trying to position herself as a go-getting woman of action, ready to sort out the mess the men have left. It’s also intended to get her support from Britain’s women. Look, she and her PR gurus are saying, I represent all the women in Britain, and their drives and frustrations in trying to get the top job. And I’ve done it, and, so vicariously, have Britain’s women through me. Vote for me, and we’ll sort Britain out again. The Mirror summed up her probable victory with the headline ‘Another Thatcher’.

That’s true, and it looks very much like the Tory party is trying to hark back to Margaret Thatcher’s victory way back in 1979, and the thirteen years of flag-waving, prole-bashing that unleashed. Thatcher was Britain’s first, and so far, only female Prime Minister. Her election was instrumental in getting the Tories female support, and presenting their agenda of poverty, welfare cuts, joblessness and general immiseration as somehow empowering and progressive. It presented a faux-feminist veneer to what was an acutely traditionalist party. Thatcher did not see herself as a feminist, but nevertheless, her lackeys in the press ran features on her deliberately aimed at women and gaining their support. When she was ousted, Germaine Greer, who had been bitterly critical of her time in No. 10, wrote a piece in the Groan ‘A Sad Day for Every Woman’. And this propaganda line continued with other female Tories afterwards. I can remember a piece in the Mail on Sunday discussing what politics would be like in a female dominated House of Commons about the time Virginia Bottomley joined Major’s cabinet. It imagined Britain as an anarcho-capitalist utopia, where everything was privatised, and instead of the police neighbourhoods hired private security guards. And it ran the notorious factoid that’s been repeated and debunked ever since: that managing the country’s economy was like running a household. Women, so the article claimed, automatically had a better understanding of how the economy should be run through their role controlling the household budget. It’s actually rubbish, as the Angry Yorkshireman, Mike over at Vox Political and a number of left-wing economists and bloggers have repeatedly pointed out. For example, when budgeting for a household, you try to avoid debt, or pay it off as quickly as possible. But no-one has wanted to pay off the national debt since at least the late 18th century, and governments contract debts all the time with the deliberate intention of stimulating growth, as well as having the ability to manipulate circumstances in ways that the average householder can’t. They can, for example, affect the economy by setting the value of their currencies in order to promote exports, for example. The Japanese have deliberately kept the Yen weak in order to make their exports less expensive and so more competitive on foreign markets. They can also alter, or affect exchange rates to control public expenditure outside of immediate state spending. Ordinary people can’t do any of this. But nevertheless, the lie is repeated, and as we’ve seen, believed. A little while ago a man in the audience at Question Time challenged one of the politicos there with not running the country properly. He claimed it should have been obvious to anyone who’s had to run a household. Or possibly their own business.

Women Suffering the Most from Tory Misrule

In power, Thatcher – and the Tories’ policies in general – have hit women the hardest. Women tend to work in the poorest paid jobs, those least unionised, and so with the fewest protections. They are also more likely than men to be active as carers, with the immense responsibilities and pressures that entails. The Tories’ austerity policies have seen more women laid off, and more suffering cuts to hours and pay, with worsening conditions. These have been inflicted on male workers and carers as well, of course. I personally know blokes as well as women, who’ve been put on zero hours contracts, of have had to fight battles with the DWP to get disability benefits for their partners. Women haven’t been solely hit by any means, but they have been especially hit.

Tory Feminism only for the Rich

But I’ve no doubt that the Tories will try to hide all that, and positively divert attention away from it, by pointing to the success of May in finally getting to No. 10. It’ll be presented as another crack in glass ceiling preventing women from getting the top jobs. I’ve also no doubt that there will be some noises about making sure that business, industry and parliament becomes more representative of the country. There will be loud announcements about getting more women into parliament, on the boards of business, and in male-dominated areas such as science and engineering.

But this will all be done to give power and jobs to women from May’s background: well-heeled, well-educated middle class public school gels from Roedean and the like. Rich, corporate types like Hillary Clinton in the US. It isn’t going to be for women from council estates and comprehensive schools, ordinary women working back-breaking jobs in factories, as care home staff, nurses, cleaners, shop assistants, office workers and the like, all of whom are increasingly under pressure from the government’s austerity programme. They, and the men alongside whom they work, doing the same jobs, aren’t going to be helped by the Tories one little bit.

The Thin Veneer of Tory Liberalism

May’s faux-feminism is part of a general thin façade of progressivism, which the Tory party occasionally adopts to promote itself. Cameron came to power pretending to be more left-wing than Tony Blair. When he took over the Tory party, he made much about shedding the party’s image of racism and homophobia. He cut links with the Monday Club, went around promoting Black Tory candidates. Gay MPs were encouraged to come forward and be open about their sexuality. In power, he ostentatiously supported gay marriage, presenting it as Tory victory, even though it had practically already been introduced by Tony Blair in the guise of civil partnerships. Cameron and IDS wanted to be seen as liberal modernisers. But all their reforms are extremely shallow, designed to disguise the rigidly authoritarian and hierarchical party underneath. A party determined to make the poor as poor as possible for the corporate rich.

Generational Differences in Voting

Looking through the stats with friends on Friday, it seems that there’s a marked divergence in political attitudes between young women, and those over 55. The majority of women over 55 tend to vote Conservative, according to the stats. I know plenty who don’t, and so this can be challenged. My guess is that, if this is accurate, it’s probably due to the fact that women generally haven’t worked in the kind of manual trades occupied by men, which require considerable solidarity and so have produced strong union bonds, like mining, metal work and so on. It’s also possibly partly due to the prevailing social ideology when they were born. There was a marked lull in feminist activity between women finally gaining the vote in 1928 or so and the rise of the modern women’s movement in the 1960s. During those forty years, the dominant social attitude was that women should concentrate on their roles of wife and mother. Many firms in this period would not hire married women, a practice which caused immense hardship to women, and families generally that needed two incomes to make ends meet. Also, generally speaking, support for the Tories is higher amongst pensioners.

Younger women are more likely to be left-wing and socialist. If correct, this generally follows the trend of the younger generation being more idealistic and progressive than their elders.

I hope that despite all the pseudo-feminist verbiage and lies the Tories will spout from now onwards, trying to make themselves more presentable to the nation’s female voters, women will recognise them for what they are, and vote them out. As soon as possible.

Vox Political on Chilcot’s Damning Verdict on Blair, and What His Readers Think

July 7, 2016

Mike over at Vox Political has reblogged a piece from the Guardian by Owen Jones, laying out how damning the Chilcot report is of Tony Blair and his decision to lead the country into war. Owen Jones is a fine journalist, who clearly and accurately explains the issues. I’ve read and quoted from his book Chavs: The Demonisation of the Working Class, which is very good, and has rightly received great praise. He also has another book out The Establishment: Who They Are and How They Get Away with it. I’ve been thinking about that one, but have avoided buying it so far on the grounds that it might make me too furious.

Mike also asks what his readers think of the Iraq War. He asks

Do any of you believe the war was justified, as Ann Clwyd still does (apparently)? Have any of you come to believe that? Did you support the war and turn away? Do you think Saddam Hussein had to go, no matter the cost? Do you think the war contributed to the rise of new terrorist groups like Daesh – sometimes called Islamic State – as laid out in the ‘cycle of international stupidity’ (above)? Do you think it didn’t? Do you think Blair wanted a war because they put national politicians on the international stage? Do you think he improved or diminished the UK’s international standing? Do you think the UK has gained from the war, or suffered as a result?

The Issues, Arguments and Demos against the War at its Very Beginning

Okay, at the rest of alienating the many great readers of this blog, I’ll come clean. Back when it first broke out, I did support the war. I can’t be a hypocrite and claim that I didn’t. This was despite many other people around me knowing so much better, and myself having read so much that was against the war. For example, one of the 1.5 million or so people, who marched against the war was my local parish priest. One of my friends was very firmly against the war. I was aware from reading the papers and Lobster that the dodgy dossier was fake, and a piece of propaganda. I also knew from watching Bremner, Bird and Fortune that there was absolutely no connection between Saddam Hussein’s secular Ba’ath regime, which was Arab nationalist, and the militant Islamism of Osama bin Laden, and that absolutely no love was lost between the two. And as the war dragged on, I was aware from reading Private Eye how so much of it was driven by corporate greed. The Eye ran a piece reporting on how Bush had passed legislation, which gave American biotech companies the rights to the country’s biodiversity. The Fertile Crescent in the Middle East in Turkey, Mesopotamia, Syria, Egypt and what is now Israel, as well as Arabia and Iran, was the location for the very first western civilisations. Iraq, Syria and Turkey, I believe, were the very first centres where humans settled down and started domesticating wheat. The ancient grains that supported these primitive communities, like emmer and so on, still exist in abundance in these countries, along with other crops and plants that aren’t grown in the west. They represent a potentially lucrative field for the biotech companies. And so the American biotech corporations took out corporate ownership, meaning that your average Iraqi peasant farmer could be prosecuted for infringing their corporate copyright, if he dared to continue growing the crops he and his forefathers and mothers had done, all the way back to Utnapishtim, Noah and the Flood and beyond. More legal chicanery meant that American corporations could seize Iraqi assets and industries for damages, even if these damages were purely speculative or had not actually occurred. It’s grossly unjust, and aptly illustrates how predatory, rapacious and wicked these multinationals are.

And then there were the hundreds of thousands killed by Islamist militants, Iraqi insurgents, and the bodies of our squaddies coming back in coffins, along with a line of the maimed and mentally scarred.

All this should have been a clear demonstration of how wrong the war was. And it is a clear demonstration of its fundamental wrongness.

Hopes for Democratic Iraq Despite Falsity of Pretext

But I initially supported the war due to a number of factors. Partly it was from the recognition that Saddam Hussein was a brutal thug. We had been amply told how brutal he was around Gulf War I, and in the ten years afterwards he had brutally suppressed further rebellions – gassing the Kurds and murdering the Shi’a. In the aftermath of the invasion, UN human rights teams found the remains of his victims in vast, mass graves. The Financial Times also ran a piece on the massive corruption and brutal suppression of internal dissent within his regime. So it seemed that even if the reason for going to war was wrong, nevertheless it was justified because of the sheer brutality of his regime, and the possibility that a better government, freer and more humane, would emerge afterwards.

That hasn’t happened. Quite the reverse. There is democracy, but the country is sharply riven by ethnic and religious conflict. The American army, rather than acting as liberators, has treated the Iraqi people with contempt, and have aided the Shi’a death squads in their murders and assassinations of Sunnis.

Unwillingness to Criticise Blair and Labour

Some of my support for the war was also based in a persistent, uncritical support for Blair and the Labour party. Many of the war’s critics, at least in the West Country, were Tories. The Spectator was a case in point. It was, at least originally, very much against the war. So much so that one of my left-wing friends began buying it. I was highly suspicious of the Tory opposition to the war, as I thought it was opportunist and driven largely by party politics. When in power, the Tories had been fervently in favour of war and military action, from the Falklands, to Gulf War I and beyond. Given their record, I was reluctant – and still am very reluctant – to believe that they really believed that the war was wrong. I thought they were motivate purely from party interests. That still strikes me as pretty much the case, although I will make an allowance for the right-wing Tory journo, Peter Hitchens. Reading Hitchens, it struck me that his opposition to the war was a matter of genuine principle. He has an abiding hatred of Blair, whom he refers to as ‘the Blair creature’ for sending so many courageous men and women to their deaths. He’s also very much a Tory maverick, who has been censured several times by his bosses at the Mail for what he has said about David Cameron. ‘Mr Slippery’ was one such epithet. Now Hitchen’s doesn’t respect him for liberal reasons. He despises him for his liberal attitudes to sexual morality, including gay marriage. But to be fair to the man, he is independent and prepared to rebel and criticise those from his side of the political spectrum, often bitterly.

The Corrosive Effect of Endemic Political Corruption

My opposition to the war was also dulled by the sheer corruption that had been revealed over the last few decades. John Major’s long administration was notorious for its ‘sleaze’, as ministers and senior civil servants did dirty deals with business and media tycoons. Those mandarins and government officials in charge of privatising Britain’s industries, then promptly left government only to take up positions on the boards of those now private companies. Corporations with a minister or two in their back pocket won massive government contracts, no matter how incompetent they were. And Capita was so often in Private Eye, that the Eye even then was referring to it as ‘Crapita’. Eventually my moral sense was just worn down by it all. The corporate plunder of Iraq just seemed like another case of ‘business as usual’. And if the Tories are just as culpable as Blair and his allies, then there’s no reason to criticise Blair.

The Books and Film that Changed my Attitude to the War

What changed my attitude to the Iraq War was finally seeing Michael Moore’s Fahrenheit 9/11 on Channel 4, and reading Greg Palast’s Armed Madhouse, and the Counterpunch book End Times: The Death of the Fourth Estate, as well as Bushwhacked, a book which exposes the lies and sheer right-wing corruption of George W. Bush’s administration. Palast’s book is particularly devastating, as it shows how the war was solely motivated by corporate greed and the desire of the Neocons to toy with the Iraqi economy in the hope of creating the low tax, free trade utopia they believe in, with precious little thought for the rights and dignity of the Iraqi people themselves. End Times is a series of article cataloguing the mendacity of the American media in selling the war, US politicians for promoting it, and the US army for the possible murder of critical journalists. Other books worth reading on the immorality and stupidity of the Iraq War include Confronting the New Conservativism. This is a series of articles attacking George W. Bush and the Neocons. Much of them come from a broadly left-wing perspective, but there are one or two from traditional Conservatives, such as female colonel in the Pentagon, who notes that Shrub and his coterie knew nothing about the Middle East, and despised the army staff, who did. They had no idea what they were doing, and sacked any commander, who dared to contradict their stupid and asinine ideology.

And so my attitude to war has changed. And I think there are some vital lessons that need to be applied to the broader political culture, if we are to stop others making the same mistakes as I did when I supported the war.

Lessons Learned

Firstly, when it comes to issues like the invasion of Iraq, it’s not a matter of ‘my party, right or wrong’. The Tories might be opposing the war out of opportunism, but that doesn’t mean that supporters of the Labour party are traitors or somehow betraying the party by recognising that it was immoral, and that some of the Tories, who denounced it did have a point.

Secondly, the cynical attitude that all parties are corrupt, so it doesn’t matter if you turn a blind eye to Labour’s corruption, is also wrong and misplaced. Corruption has to be fought, no matter where it occurs. You almost expect it in the Tory party, which has always had a very cosy attitude towards business. It has much less place on the Left, which should be about defending human rights and those of the weak.

Blair: Liar and War Criminal

And so I fully support the Chilcot report, and Jeremy Corbyn’s denunciations of Blair. He was a war criminal, and surely should have known better never to have become embroiled in the Iraq invasion. I’ve heard the excuse that he joined the war only reluctantly and was a restraining force on George Dubya. It’s a lie. He was eager to join the invasion and get whatever he thought Britain could from the spoils. And the result has been 13 years of war, the destruction and occupation of an entire nation, and the spread of further chaos and bloodshed throughout the Middle East.

Trying to Make Sense of the Senseless in Orlando

June 14, 2016

Yesterday, the world was shocked by the news that Omar Mateen from Afghanistan had gone into Pulse, a gay nightclub in Orlando, Florida, and opened fire with a gun. 50 people were killed and another 50 were injured before the thug was finally shot by the cops. Today, people have been lighting candles in remembrance, and sending their hopes, prayers and best wishes to friends, lovers and relatives of the victims and the people of Orlando. People around the world, whatever their sexuality, are standing with the gay community to show their hate and disgust at the crime.

Unfortunately, some morons over here have chosen to learn the wrong lesson. Mike put up two posts yesterday about the effect this would have on the Vote Leave campaign. In the first he expressed his fears that they would seize on it to promote more fears of immigrants. And in the second, he expressed his disgust at finding them realised. Some idiots in the ‘Leave’ campaign had stuck up a piece warning that if Britain didn’t leave the EU, something like it would happen here.

See: http://voxpoliticalonline.com/2016/06/13/will-misunderstanding-of-orlando-shootings-give-brexit-campaign-a-xenophobic-boost/

No, you numbskulls! The message of Orlando is that the US needs to ban guns, not that the UK should leave the EU!

This last piece has an eye-opening, and eye-watering list of the stupid reasons some people gave for shooting others. These include domestic arguments in which one spouse has grabbed the gun, so the other grabbed it and shot the other one.

In fact, Britain already has had something like the mass killing in Orlando. This was 7/7, when four suicide bombers killed and maimed hundreds on a bus and in the tube. Those four butchers weren’t immigrants, however. They’d been born here, and were 2nd or 3rd generation. They certainly weren’t recent arrivals off the boat or plane. And many of the idiots, who’ve gone off to join al-Qaeda or ISIS, and so dedicate their lives to ending those of others in the name of a crazed misinterpretation of Islam, have been exactly like them: the British-born children of immigrants.

As for the crime itself, unfortunately there have been more than enough White Americans fouling the airwaves over the other side of the Pond with demands and exhortations for their compatriots to do something similar. One of the videos Secular Talk put up a few days ago was about a right-wing radio host – or politico – who asked why they didn’t shoot trans people anymore. Well, I guess there are a variety of reasons, but I would think that the main one was that people had sympathy with those, who felt they were of the wrong biological gender, because they had medical condition that was causing them distress, rather than that they were wicked or perverted.

Secular Talk also put up a piece from another right-wing talk radio programme, in which a frothing nutter ranted about how people should be rioting in the streets about gay marriage and the rise of gay equality in America. He seemed to think it was a cause for bloody revolution. My guess there is that many people have come to realise that whatever their own views on homosexuality, it’s with a consenting adult and doesn’t affect a person’s moral worth. Being attracted to one’s own sex does not mean that they don’t pay their taxes, support their local sports teams, give to charity and otherwise behave exactly like the rest of the population. One Christian American woman expressed her absolute lack of support for banning gay marriage by stating that she was in ‘a Christ-centred marriage’ with her husband. Now gays had the right to marry. So she had to check her own. ‘No,’ she said, ‘still in a Christ-centred marriage with my husband’. Another man from one of the Southern states put up a video in which he went poking around looking for any gays that might suddenly have fallen out of the sky, to inundate America with gayness. Nope, despite the passage of gay marriage, he couldn’t find any more gays suddenly materialising around the place. It was an ironic attempt to show what a non-issue it all was.

I’ve also no doubt that this atrocity would have delighted Jerry Falwell. Falwell was a right-wing televangelist with the usual hatred of anything to the left of Ronald Reagan. He also hated feminists and gays. When Orlando started holding gay pride marches, Falwell started frothing out the mouth and declared that they couldn’t shake their fists at God like that. Instead, the Almighty would punish them with an asteroid, or earthquake or tsunami. Or something. The local newspaper asked the town’s Roman Catholic bishop what he thought of it. The reverend gentleman opined that he thought, overall, the people of his fair city were decent, god-fearing folk. ‘If God was going to send an asteroid,’ he thought, ‘you’d think He’d start with Las Vegas’. Good point.

You can also bet that over the next few days and weeks you’re going to hear mass whining from the NRA and the gun lobby about how liberals are unfairly using this to deprive decent, law-abiding Americans of their right to have high calibre, military-grade firearms. When massacres like these have occurred, including those at schools, they’ve immediately seized on them to go on the offensive. Often highly offensive. Instead of depriving people of guns, more people should have them, including school children. Then the little mites could shoot back the next time a maniac walked in, or one of their fellows went berserk, and opened fire. We’ll probably here something similar now, with gun-nuts asserting that at least all the men in the nightclub should have been packing, ready to defend themselves and the women.

Given what human nature is like, is should be obvious that the last thing that makes places like schools and nightclubs safer is idiots coming in tooled up. Bullying and gang fights tend to be a fact of school life, which parents and teachers and school staff have to deal with. Now imagine what would happen if all of the little darlings involved had guns, and started blazing away.

It’s the same with nightclubs. Fights break out in pubs and nightclubs, when people have drunk too much, spilled someone’s drink, tried to move in on their partner, or simply looked at them the wrong way. People can get seriously hurt, but most of the time, they ain’t fatal. Now imagine what would happen if a boozed-up lout suddenly started to wave a gun around in a roomful of other drunken, gun-toting louts. You don’t have to be a genius to see how that could easily end in mass carnage, rather than the weight of overwhelming firepower forcing the other dude to put his gun away.

Quite apart from the fact that schools should be for learnin’, and nightclubs for dancing away the evening and generally having fun. Guns should have no place in either.

Vox Political: ‘Sack Kuenssberg’ Removed due to Misogynist Trolls

May 10, 2016

Mike over at Vox Political has put up several pieces about the controversy surrounding a 38 Degrees petition to have the Beeb’s politics editor, Laura Kuenssberg, sacked because of her overt Conservative bias. It seems that the fellow, who put up the petition has taken it down because it had in his view been hijacked by sexist trolls.

See the article at: http://voxpoliticalonline.com/2016/05/10/sack-kuenssberg-petition-taken-down-due-to-sexist-trolls/

This follows a piece in the Guardian in which the former political editor of the Independent on Sunday, Jane Merrick, stated that Kuenssberg had faced a level of abuse not directed at male reporters, like Nick Robinson, which was explicitly misogynistic. She reported that Kuenssberg had been called a whore and a bitch on Twitter. She then made general comments about Corbyn’s supporters. They weren’t all sexist misogynists – far from it. But she said that there was a ‘core of hard-left misogyny’ that emerged when he was under pressure. This was the same kind of abuse that had been directed at Stella Creasy and Jess Phillips. She then called on Corbyn, as the advocate of a kinder type of politics, to condemn this abuse of a respected journalist.

See Mike’s article at: http://voxpoliticalonline.com/2016/05/10/sexism-accusation-against-anti-kuenssberg-campaigners-is-a-classic-diversion-tactic/

Mike points out in these articles just how overt Kuenssberg’s political bias is.

Mike writes:

This Writer considers the BBC’s political editor to be hopelessly prejudiced in favour of the Conservative Party. It is an issue that has nothing to do with her gender, skin colour, religion or any other such defining factor.

She simply can’t keep her own politics out of her work. For a reporter, that is a fatal error and This Writer cannot understand why anybody would want to support her in it – least of all a Labour MP like Ms Phillips.

If Kuenssberg wants to turn every report into a pro-Tory opinion piece, then let her become a pundit. Stick her on the Daily Politics or This Week with Andrew Neil and give the political editor’s job to somebody who can do it impartially.

He also posts a piece from one of his commenters, who has a nephew, who did some number crunching of his own, which flatly contradicts Kuenssberg’s assertions. Kuenssberg has claimed that these elections are ‘mid-term’, when they are not, and that Labour should be winning hundreds of seats, which they haven’t. Looking at the evidence, the commenter’s nephew says that actually Labour have done quite well, and it is the Tories who have taken the hardest blows. The commenter states:

“In fact this is the worse Tory performance in the local elections since 1996 when John Major only got 29% which was an improvement from 1995 when they only got 25% of the vote. But again this is not being reported.”

Mike also condemns the sexist abuse of Kuenssberg. Not only are such views vile in themselves, but they bring into disrepute everyone, who genuinely wants the Beeb to report fairly and accurately, and have allowed Kuenssberg to get away with her biased journalism.

Mike in his article also suggests that the sexist comments might be a deliberate strategy to torpedo the complaints about her bias. He states that all a political stooge has to do is get their supporters to sign the petition and leave offensive messages on it. Then all they have to do is make complaints about it. He makes clear that this may not have happened in Kuenssberg case, but it is a possibility, at least from now on.

In fact, this is exactly the tactics Hillary Clinton’s supporters have used against her rival for the Democratic nomination, Bernie Sanders. She accused Sanders’ supporters of being sexist, especially after a group of them threw money at her in protest at her accepting funding from Wall Street. She also hired an internet company to go online to tackle Bernie’s supporters posing as her supporters. The Company was ironically called Correct the Record. And I’ve posted up a piece a week or so ago from Secular Talk, which reported how a string of pro-Bernie websites got taken down after complaints from Clinton to the host company about sexism and misogyny. The numbers of websites taken down – something like 12, or perhaps as high as 25, I can’t really remember, all in one evening, make it highly suspicious that this was really due to sexism by the sites’ members.

As for Corbyn and the ‘hard Left’ having a misogynist core, well, perhaps. It wouldn’t surprise me. Obnoxious trolls are, after all, found everywhere. But it’s not typical of the hard Left in my experience. In the 1980s the Left was reviled and abused for being PC. This was the decade when alternative comedians like Rik Mayall and Ade Edmondson, French and Saunders, the Young Ones, Alexei Sayle and Ben Elton burst onto our screens from the London comedy clubs. They refused to make the same sexist and racist jokes as the previous generation, reared in the working men’s clubs, like Bernard Manning. They were explicitly Left-wing, and actually made jokes about the chauvinistic treatment of women and at the expense of comedians like Manning.

They were part of a general trend in the Labour party of the time. Part of what had Ken Livingstone sneered at as ‘Red Ken’ was the fact that the-then leader of the GLC gave his support to a whole plethora of organisations for women and minorities. In his 1987 book, Livingstone’s Labour, the bane of Margaret Thatcher talks about the evolution of human society from primordial matriarchy, and argues for a nationwide network of women’s support offices. This naturally drove Thatcher nuts. At one of the Tory conferences she delivered a foam-flecked rant about ‘Fabian champagne Socialist’ teachers corrupting the minds of their tiny charges with homosexual propaganda and ‘anti-racist mathematics’. Now, thirty or so years later, we have the Tories claiming to be okay with gay marriage. As for misogyny, one of the lads I knew at College, who was a very committed Labour party supporter, was very far from being either racist or misogynist. This was also characteristic of much of the Left outside the Labour party. I can remember reading a piece in the Express about one of the Marxist sects – possible either the Communist Party are the Socialist Workers, or perhaps just Militant in the Labour party, which explicitly noted how anti-sexist the men were, and their rejection of certain forms of traditional masculinity.

I’m not saying that there haven’t been sexist trolls spouting vile abuse at Kuenssberg, who are genuinely left-wing. But after the tactics used by Hillary Clinton to smear Sanders’ supporters, I’m more than a little suspicious.

Secular Talk on Clinton’s Praise of Nancy Reagan’s Stance on AIDS

April 5, 2016

This is another example of how, when it comes to the Right and gay rights, the opposite is the truth. In this video, Kyle Kulinski talks about how Hillary Clinton praised Nancy Reagan, the late wife of Ronald, for her ‘quiet advocacy’ of AIDS victims. In a speech about the death of the former First Lady, Hillary claimed that Nancy had spent decades quietly promoting AIDS research and the treatment of its victims. She claimed that this softly-softly approach had finally paid off in the acceptance AIDS victims have recently gained in America.

I’m posting this video because, like BoJo’s promotion of Brexit as a pro-Gay policy, the reality is the complete opposite. Nancy and her husband were determinedly anti-gay, and passed a series of acts stopping state expenditure on the treatment of the unfortunates, who had contracted this disease. Among the victims of their legislation was their friend, Rock Hudson. Hudson, the older people among us may recall, was one of the big TV stars, who fatally contracted the disease. In his desperation, the dying star personally contracted the Reagans to request that they allow him to be treated in an army hospital in Germany. It was refused.

Of course, Hillary’s own stance on gay issues has also been mixed, to put it politely. Although she claims to be in favour of gay marriage now, in fact she waited until the very last minute, electorally speaking, to announce her new-found embrace of marriage equality. Before then, when the majority of voters were very definitely against it, she was with them. Now she’s changed her tune. And so did Nancy, posthumously.

Now Hillary has taken back what she’s said, and cleared the comments from social media. But this incident still shows her own mendacity and duplicity in claiming a liberal platform for herself, which she does not actually support. Here’s the video.

As for the Gipper, or whatever it was they called Reagan, he was responsible for more and worse horrors than denying medical treatment to those stricken with a horrible disease. Like supporting the various Fascist dictators and their murderous death squads in Latin America.

These are good reasons enough to post up this video, but the point I want to make is that Hillary’s public comments whitewashing Nancy Reagan’s venomous hostility to AIDS victims isn’t isolated. After Hillary did it, Boris over here decided he was going to do something similar. And lo! and Behold! He was on the ‘Out and Proud’ website today, lying about how gay rights in Britain were all down to the noble Tories, and not due to those beastly foreigners across la Manche.

The British and American Right are connected. When one lies, the other takes notice and tries to do likewise. Don’t be fooled. Whatever they tell you, it’s still the opposite of the truth.

Boris Twists Facts on Europe and LGBT Rights to Promote Brexit

April 5, 2016

Tory Lies Drawing

It goes without saying that the mendacity of this government runs so deep, that every liberal claim they make should be taken with a whole mountain of salt. To get at the truth, all you have to do is listen to what Cameron or the other lying puppets of the corporate elite say, and turn it through 180 degrees. You will automatically be correct.

Cameron scraped in at the 2010 election, when he wasn’t voted into power, by pretending to be more left-wing and liberal than Tony Blair. Philip Blonde, his political mentor, filled his book, Red Tory, with pages about how the Conservatives had passed laws benefiting the working class in the 19th century (true), and said nice things admiring the great Russian Anarchist, Kropotkin. The book was also full of accurate criticisms of neo-liberal economics. Reading the book, you could fool yourself, if you didn’t know otherwise, into thinking that the Tories were then going to reposition themselves slightly to the left of Bliar. Well, the Speccie had taken an ant-War stance against the invasion of Iraq, so it could seem vaguely plausible. Cameron himself strode around claiming that he was going to ring fence NHS spending to save it from the austerity cuts that were coming to sort out the problems with the banks. Essential services were going to be preserved. He even claimed that his government would be the ‘greenest ever’, and stuck a windmill on his roof, to show he meant it.

Of course, he didn’t mean any of it. Not a single word. Once in he started cutting the NHS budget massively, and vastly expanded the creeping privatisation that was coming in under Bliar and New Labour. The Public-Private Finance Initiative, which Osbo said he would abolish, has also been kept, along with the wretched sanctions regime over at the DWP. And no, he definitely had no intention to abandon workfare, not while it was supplying so much cheap labour at starvation level to his corporate backers. As for Green policies, he’s doing his level best to introduce legislation to allow the fracking companies to trash the environment. Renewables are being cut, and nuclear power is suddenly the way forward again. Always assuming the Chinese don’t decide they’re not, after all, going to build the power station at Hinckley point.

And that windmill has definitely come off his roof.

Boris, a man even the Tories decry as an utter cad and a wrong’un, has shown his own duplicity by throwing his lot in with Brexit, to the dismay of Dave Cameron, and the high delight of everyone, who enjoys a good fight in the Tory ranks. And, still being a Tory, BoJo has decided that he’s going to try to promote Brexit by presenting it as a liberal movement, which will benefit oppressed minorities. The Open Democracy website has posted a story about how the notoriously heterosexual Mr Johnson, has appeared on a video with the LGBT Brexit group, Out and Proud. Johnson claims that staying in Europe is a major threat to the civil rights gay and trans people have won over the past few years. He claims that this is all due to the benign views of the Tory government. And of course, the European Union is poised to take them all away.

The truth, of course, is exactly the reverse. Cameron did finally grant gays the right to get married, though this was in the teeth of determined back-bench Tory opposition. It also built on previous Labour legislation, which sort of opened the door to it in the form of Civil Partnerships. The OpenDemocracy article begins:

In his recent video for the LGBT Brexit group, ‘Out and Proud’ Boris Johnson, with typical disregard for the facts, asserted that the U.K.’s progressive attitudes on LGBT rights were entirely the work of “us, the British people”. By implication, ‘Europe’ had contributed nothing. The reality is very different. Europe’s two main organisations, the Council of Europe and the EU together did much to create the momentum for change in the late 1990s and early 2000’s. This followed 17 years of Conservative government which, far from progressing LGBT rights, supported the introduction of a law that prohibited local authorities from “promoting” homosexuality.

The Council of Europe’s main contribution came through a series of rulings against the UK under the European Convention on Human Rights. These condemned discrimination in a number of areas, including the criminal law in Northern Ireland, the unequal age of consent, the ban on LGB employees in the armed forces, and the failure to provide adequate legal gender recognition procedures for trans people. They compelled the Blair government to initiate legislation, leading to extensive parliamentary debates over a number of years that in themselves did much to change public attitudes.

Yup, it was the Council of Europe and the EU that challenged the legal discrimination in British law. And Mike points out in his article on this issue that the Tories attempted to keep a lid on the teaching of progressive views on homosexuality in schools with the notorious Clause 28 introduced by Maggie Thatcher. That was the one that banned schools from promoting homosexuality as an equal lifestyle to schoolchildren.

The article goes on to discuss how Boris is warning about the terrible position of gay and trans folk in eastern Europe – in Poland, Hungary and other parts of eastern Europe. That’s true, and some of the most brutal persecution is in Ukraine, Moldova and Georgia. The article describes the armed attack by the police and local authorities on a gay rights march in Ukraine. However, it points out that Ukraine, and the other former eastern bloc nations have had to revise and tone down their hatred of homosexuals and the transgendered, if they wish to get into the EU, or establish good relations with it.

And on the subject of homophobic governments, Putin’s regime in Russia has come in for considerable criticism because of his attempts to clamp down on gays in his country. The last time I looked, however, Russia wasn’t part of the European Union. So whatever he’s doing to gay people there, he’s not doing it as an EU leader.

The OpenDemocracy article is at: https://www.opendemocracy.net/uk/nigel-warner/boris-is-wrong-lgbt-people-should-oppose-brexit

Mike’s article is at: http://voxpoliticalonline.com/2016/04/05/boris-is-wrong-lgbt-people-should-oppose-brexit-opendemocracy/

And Mike’s article makes it very clear that if Britain leaves the EU, all the legislation that currently protects gay people is vulnerable. The Tories hate and despise the EU because of the Social Charter, which gives workers some minimum rights, as well as its human rights legislation, which they’d also like to get rid of. They’d much rather replace it with a British Bill of Rights, which would be much weaker.

So don’t be fooled. BoJo is lying yet again. He can’t help it: it’s in his nature and that of his party. If Britain does leave Europe, the position of gay people will be consequently weaker. And if the homophobic wing of the Tories gain ascendancy, any liberal legislation conceding equality to gay men and women is very vulnerable.

Outfoxed: Documentary on Corrupt Journalism in Fox News

April 6, 2015

This is another documentary I found on Youtube. It’s about the massively biased reporting and complete lack of any kind of journalistic integrity on Fox News, the American news channel owned by Rupert Murdoch. Amongst the speakers are journalists, free press activists, politicians and ordinary people, who were interviewed by Murdoch’s hacks. The documentary sets the tone in the very first minutes by comparing Fox news and its management to a scene in the Godfather. Murdoch and his cronies are the gangsters of television journalism.

Among the programme’s revelations is the fact that the executives at Fox News sent memos to their staff every morning laying out what the stories they wanted covered that day, and how they wanted it presented and slanted. The journalists themselves were spied on and punished, if they did not follow the party line. Murdoch himself when he was negotiating to take over the channel, assured the federal authorities that he would bring ‘diversity’ to news broadcasting.

He didn’t. In fact, he did anything but. He was always a supporter of the Republican party, and fervently admired Reagan. As a result, Fox News acted as an arm of the Repugs, broadcasting press releases from the Bush’s administration almost unedited and without any kind of factual analysis.

This could get awkward for the journalists themselves, as they were expected to present the actions of Murdoch’s political heroes as those of heroic grandeur, even when nothing impressive or remotely grand was happening. One journalist talks about the problems he had doing this for Dubya, on days when Dubya wasn’t acting heroically. Another journo talks about the grief he was given by the studio executives for not giving a sufficiently grand and impressive image of the celebrations of Reagan’s birthday. There were a couple of schools there at the Ronald Reagan Memorial Library to valorise the old brute, but nothing much was actually going on. The hack did his best, trying to present the crowds there as far larger and the celebrations more impressive than they actually were. But you can’t make up what isn’t there, and the hack’s attempts to do so were judged inadequate and insufficient by Murdoch’s minions.

The speakers on the documentary go on to describe the subtle bias in the selection of guests or opposing speakers on the News. When covering political conferences or gathering, Fox News made sure they showed the big, well-known Republican politicians. When it came to the Democrats, they gave airtime only to the unknown, obscure figures in the party. The Channel also made sure that Republicans were on there commenting on the news fives times more than Democrats.

Those Democrats that were invited on were very carefully selected. One of the former Fox journalists describes them as ‘Faux Democrats’. They had a liberal façade, but were actually Conservatives. They were chosen because they didn’t really disagree with the Conservative line the network was taking. They even extended this bias down to the personal appearance of two of Fox’s anchors, Hannity and Colmes. Sean Hannity, the Conservative, was big, good-looking bloke. His liberal partner on the programme, Colmes, was described as ‘weaselly’. It’s harsh and ad hominem, but the comment’s a fair one in a society and industry where celebrities and politicians are carefully chosen and judged on their physical attractiveness.

And then there’s Bill O’Reilly. O’Reilly is one of their main anchors, with a highly confrontational manner and an absolute disregard for anything like objective truth. He’s been caught out recently lying about his early career in journalism, when he claimed to have covered the Falklands War, Northern Ireland and El Salvador from the combat zones. In reality, he wasn’t anywhere near the fighting. The man lies so often that he’s collected the nickname, Bill O’Liely. There’s even a video around of Fred Phelps, the pastor of the notorious Westboro Baptist Church, denouncing O’ Reilly as a liar. How much of a skunk do you have to be, when even a monomaniac, pathological bigot like Phelps looks down on you?

O’Reilly is shown trying to rebut his reputation for telling his guests to shut up. This happened only once, a few years ago, he tells the audience at a news convention. Wrong! And the documentary gleefully shows O’Liely exploding over and over again, telling everyone to shut up.

They also interview a young man, Jonathan Glick, who managed to hold his own while being interviewed by the old bully. This so infuriated O’Reilly that Glick had to be rushed out of the building before O’Reilly turned violent. And for months afterwards, O’Reilly returned to the interview to lie and twist what Glick had actually said.

Glick’s father was one of the victims of the 9/11 Twin Towers attack. Glick himself was one of those, who signed a letter against the invasion of Afghanistan. When questions about this by O’Reilly, by Glick states calmly that the people of Afghanistan didn’t carry out the attack. It was a group of mujahideen, who had been funded and equipped by the US.

This is absolutely true, but not something that O’Reilly wanted to here. He started shouting at Glick to shut up, and tried to invoke Glick’s father and respect for the other victims of the atrocity. Glick calmly stated that he loves and respects his father, and is following his father’s views, and criticises O’Reilly for invoking the victims’ memory in support of his own views. This was all too much for O’Reilly, who angrily ended the interview.

Glick was told to get out of O’Reilly’s sight for his own safety by a couple of producers. He then went up to the green room, and was then urged to leave the building by another couple of staff, who were afraid that if he stayed around, O’Reilly would be hit with a legal writ.

Over the next four months or so, O’Reilly began lying about the interview in subsequent broadcasts. He claimed that Glick was some kind of far-left Communist, and a Troofer. Glick was neither. He contacted one of the media monitoring groups, and told them he was thinking of suing O’Reilly for lying. The group’s lawyer told him that it would be difficult to get a conviction, as he’d need to prove that O’Reilly knew he was lying. And as O’Reilly was such an inveterate liar, he may well have been pathological and actually believed what he said.

Going on to political campaigns, the documentary describes how Fox uses the headlines and small, running snippets of news presented in the text at the bottom of the screen to frame the bias for the rest of the news. They were also less interested in important issues like health, education and welfare, which lacked the emotional impact that would appeal to right-wing groups. They preferred to concentrate on highly controversial, ‘hot-button’ topics, like abortion and gay rights, that would generate and provoke right-wing attention and support.

The issue of gay marriage actually proved more difficult for the Channel to manipulate than it thought. Rather than the outrageously costumed, theatrical sexuality of gay pride parades, which Fox was used to covering, most of the gay men and women, who came forward to get married were middle aged and looked severely normal. Fox couldn’t get any mileage out of presenting them as sources of outrage and a major threat to American society, so they ditched the issue and concentrated on religion instead.

When it came to individual politicians, they took every opportunity to denigrate the Democrats. When Bill Clinton was in office, they consistently attacked him, only to reverse their bias against the president when their boy, George Dubya, won. When it came to John Kerry, they concentrated on the issue of whether or not he had thrown away his medals after serving in Vietnam. If there was a downturn in the economy, it was because the markets were worried about Kerry. In fact, there were a number of issues that would have effected the markets, but the line Murdoch wanted pushed was that it was all down to Kerry, who would be a disaster for America.

Unlike the disaster for American, and global journalism, that is Rupert Murdoch.

And the network was responsible for extremely biased reporting when it came to the Bush’s election. At the time Fox made the announcement that Bush had won, the actual stats were still unclear and it was undecided. The ethical response from traditional, mainstream journalists would be to admit that. Fox didn’t. They declared Bush the winner. And within minutes, this was parroted by the other channels, who clearly hadn’t done their own, independent research.

The documentary makes it clear that this one of the most pernicious effects of Fox News: it’s corrupting the other networks, from MSNBC to CNN as they attempt to copy its style and political bias. And this is alarmingly destroying journalistic standards in America. The documentary gives the stats showing that Fox viewers actually know less about the world, and believe that their government’s actions are right, far more than other Americans. The journalists commenting on this state that for other channels, this would be a source of shame and an indication of failure.

It also has had an effect in making the number of journalists and presenters from ethnic minorities coming into television much smaller. A Black journalist in the documentary describes how this has effected not just Blacks, but also Hispanics, Native Americans and Asians. Their numbers have declined, as Fox has centralised its broadcasting, and cut down on local stations.

One of the positive things that has come out of Fox News, however, is that more people are aware of media bias. The producers warn of the dangers of television journalism being concentrated in the hands of five or so networks. They urge viewers and listeners to write and contact their local stations demanding that they report the news better and more objectively. They also report a few cases where communities have set up their own radio stations out of dissatisfaction with the bias of the existing broadcaster.

It’s a fascinating expose of Murdoch’s corrupt journalism. Several times in the show they describe Murdoch’s channel as like Soviet propaganda under Stalin. Unlike Stalin’s media, Fox News is far more pernicious. In the Soviet Union, it was clear the news was bias. In the West, the news claims to be independent, and so its bias is far more hidden. Especially on a channel that keeps boasting that about it’s ‘fair and accurate journalism’.

This is a show that’s clearly more relevant to Americans. But it’s also important over here. Murdoch would like to see the BBC sold off, so he could purchase it, or expand to fill the vacuum left by its demise. At the moment we have legislation prohibiting biased reporting. So did the Americans until the 1980s, when Reagan repealed the ‘fairness doctrine’.

A few weeks ago the Radio Times carried an article by one of its journos arguing that British broadcasters should similarly be able to abandon any pretence of objectivity, and so create the kind of vigorous material that has supposedly rejuvenated American journalism with Fox. This documentary shows the reality: a horrendously biased network, that keeps the public ignorant while celebrating the actions of the Right.

And it hasn’t rejuvenated American journalism. The average age of the Fox viewer is 68, and the network has been described as less of a broadcaster, and more of a retirement community.

Whatever Fox is, it shouldn’t be the future of journalism, either here or in America.

Kipper MEP Racially Insults Muslim SNP Politico as ‘Abu Hamza’

March 14, 2015

David Coburn

David Coburn, the openly gay Kipper MEP for Scotland, is in the Groanoiad and Scottish Daily Mail for allegedly referring to Humza Yousaf as Abu Hamza in an interview with the latter paper. Yousaf is the MSP for Glasgow, and the Minister for Europe and International Development in the Scottish parliament. Yousaf and Coburn were due to take part in the BBC’s Big Immigration Debate, but Yousaf did not arrive. Coburn said of Yousaf’s failure to appear, “Humza Yousaf, or as I call him, Abu Hamza, didn’t seem to turn up.”

SDM Yousaf Insult

His remarks have been condemned by Scotland’s First Minister, Nicola Sturgeon, the Conservative’s leader in Scotland, Ruth Davidson, and Kezia Dugdale, Labour’s deputy leader north of the border. Coburn, however, has said that the remark was supposed to be private, while the Kipper’s Scottish chairman, Arthur Misty Thackeray, said he had simply got the name wrong through a slip of the tongue.

Yousaf, understandably, is outraged, and said: “I am utterly appalled, disgusted and hurt by the comments allegedly made by David Coburn MEP. This is Islamophobia of the worst kind.

“If this was shouted at a Muslim on the street none of us would tolerate it. The fact that this abuse has come from an elected member of the European parliament is even more shocking and completely unacceptable.

“Nigel Farage has been plagued by accusations of leading a racist party and this outburst from David Coburn MEP shows that Ukip is not just a party with a few rotten apples but rotten to the core.

“If Nigel Farage is serious about Ukip being a party that will not tolerate xenophobia in any form then I expect David Coburn to be expelled from Ukip immediately and have written to Nigel Farage in that vein.”

Yousaf added: “David Coburn has been exposed making Islamophobic remarks and should do the honourable thing and resign”.

He has also written a letter calling on Farage to suspend Coburn while the incident is investigated. If it is found that Coburn made the offensive remark, then Coburn should be expelled.

Yousaf Coburn Let

This is nowhere near the first time Coburn has been at the centre of controversy. The prospective MEP for Falkirk was in the news not that long ago for hurling names and personal insults at two female Scots politicos. He also has a rather peculiar attitude to gay rights. Coburn is openly gay, which itself is remarkably given the bitter hatred of gays by many members of his party. He does not, however, believe in gay marriage, which he says has harmed them.

His calling Humza Yousaf ‘Abu Hamza’ may be an innocent slip of the tongue, as Arthur Misty Thackeray said. He compared it to them times people mistakenly called him ‘Minty’ instead of his proper second name. But as he’s shown himself perfectly willing to call his opponents names, I really don’t think so.

And it also points to something much darker. The Islamphobic Right – the EDL, and anti-Islam sites like Gates of Vienna, are deeply suspicious of the Scottish Nationalists because of Alex Salmond’s promotion of Muslims like Yousaf to important ministerial role. They really do see British Muslims as constituting a ‘fifth column’, intent on taking over and Islamising Britain. In their eyes, the accession to high office by Muslims north of the border is part of this process, and demonstrates that Salmond and his successors are deliberately selling out and undermining non-Muslims and traditional British culture.

Many of the Kippers share these pernicious views. Farage himself has made comments about British Muslims being infiltrated by radical preachers and those who are hostile to the British people and democracy. And a year or so ago, one of the Kipper councillors in Wiltshire was forced to step down after a scandal in which he predicted that in the next decade there would be a war between Non-Muslim British Nationalists and Muslims for control of Europe. This is the exact views of many members of the EDL and BNP.

Coburn might therefore just be your usual extreme right-wing loudmouth, still carrying on the grubby tradition of racial slurs and personal insults from the days before ‘Political Correctness’, before the viewing stomach turned and Barnard Manning was forced off the airwaves.

Or he might really be a racist and Islamophobe, who really does fear Yousaf, and others like him, as the first wave in an Islamic take-over.