Posts Tagged ‘Mormons’

The Humanist Report: Killary Gets Rough Reception in Wales

October 28, 2017

Which the American presenter pronounces as ‘Welch’ and ‘Welsh’, confusing the term for its people with the name of the country itself. But you can forgive him that because (1) he’s foreign, and (2) he loves the people of Welsh for standing up to Her Highness and telling her how it really was. And he also likes Matt Free of Channel 4 News for also asking Killary tough questions, which American pundits avoid.

As I’ve discussed in previous blog posts, Killary, who seems to think going around with a mass-murdering creature like Henry Kissinger is a badge of honour, has been going up and down on the Earth promoting her book like crazy. It’s called What Happened, and is basically her attempt to blame everyone but herself for her massive failure to win the election against a colossal moron like Donald Trump. She was Down Under a few weeks ago, giving the Aussies the benefit of her wisdom. Then she was over here, at the South Bank Centre, the Cheltenham Literary Festival and then Swansea University across the border, to receive an honorary degree. The Uni decided to grant her the honour for her work promoting women’s and children’s rights around the world. As the presenter here states, presumably they didn’t get the message that she voted for the Iraq War.

But all did not go smoothly for Kissinger’s fangirl. The students at Swansea actually booed her. And one young woman, a biochemistry student, Kirsty Lloyd, called out to her ‘Bernie would’ve won. He would’ve beaten Trump.’ Which he would have. He was in the lead against her in the polls, until she, Debbie Wasserman Schulz of the Democratic National Convention, and Donna Brasile, Clinton’s main woman in her team, managed to steal the presidential nomination from her.

Lloyd said afterwards

“Hillary Clinton cheated Bernie Sanders of his nomination. And all those drone strikes, which kill women and children are illegal contradict the reason she is being given a doctorate – which is for doing things for women and children all over the world. The main thing she’s done for women and children is kill them in drone strikes.”

And things didn’t get better when she was being interviewed by Matt Free. He reminded her that her share amongst women went down 1 per cent from 44 per cent under Obama to 43. Hillary then tried to rebut this by saying that it was only White women who became disillusioned with her. Overall she won amongst women. And she lost because gender is not yet a powerful factor in American elections as race is. The commenter on the Humanist Report states that this could only be the response of an American politician, who sees everything in terms of identity politics. He also points out that it’s also terribly insulting to Barack Obama, as it implies that he only won the election because he was Black.

Free goes on to make the point that she lost partly because of her background. She’d already been in office – sort of – as the First Lady with Bill Clinton, and so her membership of a political dynasty worked against her. And people didn’t like her as they saw her as an establishment candidate, in an age of revolution.

At which point Hillary goes off and drones on about how she led in all the debates, and was seen as the more intelligent, winning candidate. When he asks her, Clinton responds that she lost partly because of Steve Dromey and Russian ‘interference’.

The Report’s presenter again points out here how Killary has contradicted herself. She says she takes full responsibility for her failure, but then immediately blames other people. He also states that it’s great to see how people in the rest of the world don’t follow American pundits in fawning over their guests, asking easy questions. He liked the way Free made her squirm. He states that you don’t see politicians like Hillary pop up elsewhere in the world, because everywhere she’s seen as another sleazy, corrupt politician like all the others. Largely because of the dodgy dealings of the Clinton Foundation. But you do find politicians like Bernie Sanders appearing in other countries, like Jeremy Corbyn in Britain.

The presenter clearly makes some great points, though he and Free on Channel 4 could have challenged her about the so-called ‘interference’ from the Russians. They didn’t lose her the election. They were trying to interfere in the American election, but no more than they usually do. Crucially, they didn’t leak the incriminating emails to WikiLeaks. Those came from a Democratic insider disgruntled at her corruption.

As for her being the better candidate over Trump, he points out that Trump was trailing behind her and faced worse challenges than she did. In Utah a Mormon, Republican establishment candidate went independent to challenge Trump. And Trump faced another Republican challenger elsewhere, who took more votes away from him than Jill Stein did Hillary.

Hillary, her arrogance, corruption, and entitlement is responsible for her failings, not other people.

Except in one instance: the Electoral College. This swung overwhelmingly for Trump, despite the fact that Killary had three million votes more than he did at the popular level. And the College is an anti-democratic measure put into America’s bizarre and byzantine electoral system in the 19th century in order to give some political power to the southern, slave-holding states. If America was a genuine democracy, it would have vanished a long time ago. But it’s enshrined in America’s constitution, and so is preserved as part of the great wisdom of the patrician founders of the American political system. Who were all patricians with a real fear of power being grabbed by the White peasants and proles, let alone Blacks. They set up the Constitution to keep power in the hands of the monied, and so have built into the system the political paralysis that is stifling the forces for real change that America needs.

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The Young Turks on White Nationalists Campaigning for Trump in Utah

November 2, 2016

In my last post, I discussed a piece by The Young Turks’ Michael Shure, reporting that many Conservative Mormons in Utah have turned away from the Republican party and are supporting an alternative Conservative candidate, Evan McMullin. The reason for this change of political loyalty appears to be an abhorrence of Trump’s state policy of banning Muslims from entering America. Many members of the LDS Church object to this because of their experience of persecution when the Church first arose in the 19th century.

Obviously, there was going to be a backlash against McMullin from his former colleagues on the American Right. He’s been attacked by members of the Republican Party, and now he’s also under attack from the White nationalists. Citizens of Utah are receiving robocalls – presumably this means automatic calls playing a recorded message – from William Johnson. Johnson identifies himself as a White nationalist and farmer. He then goes on to urge people not to vote for McMullin because he’s ‘an open borders immigration amnesty advocate’, and then gets on to more personal smears. He states that McMullin’s mother is a lesbian, who has married her partner, and that, as McMullin is himself over 40, and unmarried with no girlfriend, he too must be gay. He then implores the person receiving the call to support Donald Trump, who will respect all women and make America great again.

McMullin has responded by stating that he has a very Conservative, very traditional view of marriage. His mother has a different view, but that’s OK – he loves her very much.

Cenk Uygur, The Turks’ host, points out how sinister, and at the same time, ludicrously funny, this assault on McMullin’s character is. The attacks on his mother’s sexuality, and inference to his own, are really childish. ‘Are we really still in third grade?’ asks Uygur. At the same, it shows how sick America is in danger of becoming, as this Nazi wants people to hate McMullin for not hating his own mother. And Uygur also points out how ominous this is as well. Johnson is part of a White Nationalist Superpac. He’s a lawyer, and a member of the American Freedom Party. Uygur notes how Trump makes a pretence of disavowing the support of the racist Right, while really enjoying their support. He points out that if these robocalls have an effect, and Trum wins, even if the margin is very small, like 2 per cent, Trump will nevertheless be in debt to the White Nationalists. And he will doubtless wish to return the courtesy once he’s in power.

Utah Mormons Placing Alternative Conservative Candidate against Trump

November 2, 2016

This is a very interesting piece from TYT Politics, which is part of The Young Turks series of shows. In this brief report, Michael Shure talks to people from Utah about why that state has put its own, alternative candidate, Evan McMullin, up against Donald Trump. Utah’s a very Conservative state, and this is the first in a very long time that it isn’t automatically voting Republican. McMullin himself is deeply Conservative, but he’s standing as an independent, and when this report was broadcast was standing neck and neck with the Fascist orang-utan in the polls.

The people Shure interviews make it clear this is because Trump’s hardline stance against Muslims violates their principles as members of the Church of Jesus Christ and Latter Day Saints. One young woman states that Mormons greatly value freedom of religion, because of the way they were persecuted when the Church began in the 19th century. Trump’s demand to end Muslim immigration violates their belief in freedom of worship and conscience. Shure also makes the case that many of those backing McMullin also do so because they have had personal contact with Muslims through missionary work. He talks to a young man, who was a Mormon missionary in the Philippines. He states that he knew many Muslims, and had them in his house. They were decent people, and he opposes Trump and supports McMullin because of Trump’s attack on Muslims.

I am very definitely not a Mormon, though a friend of mine has Mormon friends, and obviously they’re decent people. I don’t share the Conservative politics of the people of Utah, but I do respect their commitment to their faith and their determination to uphold religious freedom and the demonization of Muslims as the terrible Other. I think we need far more people like them.

Naz Shah and the Diagram of Israel in America

May 2, 2016

Mike has also pointed out on his blog that the graphic Naz Shah retweeted, that was deemed to be so anti-Semitic, actually came from a Professor Finkelstein. Prof Finkelstein had posted it on the website of a Jewish group campaigning for justice for the Palestinians. There are several aspects to this.

Firstly, I don’t know if this was consciously the point of the graphic, but there is an episode in Jewish American history, and a 1990s poll of young Israelis, which actually show Prof Finkelstein has a point. I can’t remember the details, but in the 19th century one of the Jewish emigrants to America, wished to create a Jewish homeland in the continent. I think he intended to establish the new, Jewish state in the Niagara region, though as I said, I can’t really remember the details.

There actually wasn’t anything unusual in this fellows plans for creating such a state. America at the time was seen by many people, from various religious and political groups, as the place where they could begin anew and set up their own, independent communities. This included the British Utopian Socialist, Robert Owen, who tried to found one of his utopian communities there. Robert Southey, the Romantic poet, had also been a part of a movement to set up a utopian socialist community, Pansocracy, so called because it would be a society in which everyone would govern equally, in the Land of the Free. And there were many others. The best known of these new attempts to found a particular religious or political state in America is Utah, originally founded as an independent state by the Mormons.

Secondly, in the 1990s there was a poll of young Israelis, which asked them, ‘Where would you rather live – in America, with neighbours, who are Christians and love you, or in Israel, with neighbours, who are Muslim and hate you?’ About 80 per cent of the kids polled responded ‘America’. See the relevant chapter on Israel in the collection of papers edited by Albert Hourani, The Modern Middle East.

As for Jews and Muslims collaborating for a peaceful solution to the Arab-Israeli conflict, or making criticisms of the way Israel treats the Palestinians, there are many groups dedicated to this. The Open Democracy meetup group held a webinar a few weeks ago, in which the head of an Israeli human rights organisation criticised the Israeli occupation of the West Bank. One of the Israeli parties set up to defend Palestinians has both Arab and Israeli members. One of the Israeli pressure groups against the demolition of Palestinian homes is a group of rabbis. The section on modern Israel in the book edited by Hourani also notes that, according to polls, the majority of American Jews want a two-state solution to the Palestinian problem. The two American authors of the book, Bushwhacked!, criticising George Dubya and his wretched administration also include a section about an American Jewish businessman, who gives equally to Israeli and Palestinian charities, and who also wants a two-state solution. I’ve also seen adverts in some of the Asian shop windows in Cheltenham for a meeting held for Ilan Pappe, a Jewish anti-Zionist author, who I think was thrown out of Israel.

Now I don’t know what else Shah said, but simply retweeting Prof Finkelstein’s graphic does not automatically make her anti-Semitic. Indeed, you could argue that she herself has been the victim of prejudice, as someone simply saw a Muslim criticising Israel, and came to the conclusion that she must somehow be a terrible anti-Semite. As I’ve tried to show, this is not necessarily the case.

The Young Turks on Snobbery and Sneering by Wall Street Secret Society

October 19, 2015

Here’s another video by The Young Turks from last year. Kevin Roose, a journalist with the New York Times, infiltrated the annual party by a secretive Wall Street society, the Phi Kappa Alpha. The society basically seems like a university frat/ sorority for elite bankers. Their party was marked by some truly outrageous behaviour. Many of them turned up in drag. One leading financier appeared in a Confederate hat, and at one point in the evening a group turned up on stage in dressed as Mormon missionaries to sing a version of ‘I Believe’. What was particularly shocking was the sheer contempt the Wall Street capitalists had for the government, that had bailed them out. The CEO in the Confederate hat used it to sing a song about how they had successfully ripped off the American authorities, who’d been forced to bail them out. The group dressed as Mormon missionaries did the same. This is particularly shocking in an American context. America is still a deeply religious country, with many politicians, especially Republicans stressing their personal religious faith. This incident would genuinely shock many Americans, who would associate such blasphemy only with the Left. It reveals the genuine contempt the rich 1% have for religion and people of faith, regardless of whether they’re Mormons or not. The assembled bankers and financiers also joked and laughed about how they’d wrecked the country’s economy. They also mocked Hilary Clinton, despite the fact that she has herself done much to aid the American financial sector and defend it from attack. When they discovered the reporter’s identity, they approached him in an attempt to do a little damage limitation. One of them said that they could be ‘very helpful’. In other words, they offered him a bribe, which he refused.

Here’s the video:

I’m posting this video because such attitudes aren’t confined to that side of the Atlantic, and the bankers and elite financiers over here have links with them.

About a decade or so ago the City of London was in the news because of the appalling attitude of the financiers and stockbrokers there. The City was accused of being viciously misogynistic with extremely chauvinistic attitudes towards women. The Daily Mail, very definitely not a feminist paper, quoted one former female financial executive as saying that she was miserable all the time she worked there, despite the fact that she was earning enough to afford closets of extremely expensive clothes. All the women she knew were also extremely unhappy.

The financiers also had absolute, complete contempt for their clients, laughing and boasting about how they had ‘shafted’ them.

These are the people, however, which the British government under New Labour, was forced to bail out, but, with the exception of the odd executive, have never been brought to book for their destruction of the economy, and who are continuing to demand concessions from the government. Despite scandals like Northern Rock and the Royal Bank of Scotland, these are the people, who are still awarding themselves eye-watering pay rises. Well, the video might be American, but I’ve no doubt the precise same culture of elitism and sneering exists over here.

One of the regular contributors to Lobster said that he had a friend, who attended a meeting of high level bankers and financiers in New York. Curious, he asked him what they were like. ‘Worse than you can possibly imagine’, was the answer.

Immigration, ID Cards and the Erosion of British Freedom: Part 1

October 12, 2013

‘The true danger is when liberty is nibbled away, for expedience, and by parts’.

– Edmund Burke.

Edmund Burke is regarded as the founder of modern Conservatism, the defender of tradition, freedom, and gradual change against revolutionary innovation based solely on abstract principle. He was also the 18th century MP, who successfully campaigned for the Canadian provinces to be given self-government on the grounds that, as they paid their taxes, so they had earned their right to government. His defence of tradition came from his observation of the horror of the French Revolution and his ideas regarding their political and social causes, as reflected in his great work, Reflections on the Revolution in France. While his Conservatism may justly be attacked by those on the Left, the statement on the gradual, incremental danger to liberty is still very much true, and should be taken seriously by citizens on both the Left and Right sides of the political spectrum. This should not be a party political issue.

In my last post, I reblogged Mike’s article commenting on recent legislation attempting to cut down on illegal immigration. This essentially devolved the responsibility for checking on the status of immigrants to private individuals and organisations, such as banks and landlords. As with much of what the government does, or claims to do, it essentially consists of the state putting its duties and responsibilities into the private sphere. Among the groups protesting at the proposed new legislation were the BMA, immgrants’ rights groups and the Residential Landlords’ Association. The last were particularly concerned about the possible introduction of identification documents, modelled on the 404 European papers, in order to combat illegal immigration. Such fears are neither new nor unfounded. I remember in the early 1980s Mrs Thatcher’s administration considered introduction ID cards. The plan was dropped as civil liberties groups were afraid that this would create a surveillance society similar to that of Nazi Germany or the Communist states. The schemes were mooted again in the 1990s first by John Major’s administration, and then by Blair’s Labour party, following pressure from the European Union, which apparently considers such documents a great idea. The Conservative papers then, rightly but hypocritically, ran articles attacking the scheme.

There are now a couple of books discussing and criticising the massive expansion of state surveillance in modern Britain and our gradual descent into just such a totalitarian surveillance state portrayed in Moore’s V for Vendetta. One of these is Big Brother: Britain’s Web of Surveillance and the New Technological Order, by Simon Davies, published by Pan in 1996. Davies was the founder of Privacy International, a body set up in 1990 to defend individual liberties from encroachment by the state and private corporations. He was the Visiting Law Fellow at the University of Essex and Chicago’s John Marshall Law School. Davies was suspicious of INSPASS – the Immigration and Naturalisation Service Passenger Accelerated Service System, an automatic system for checking and verifying immigration status using palm-prints and smart cards. It was part of the Blue Lane information exchange system in which information on passengers was transmitted to different countries ahead of the journey. The countries using the system were the US, Canada, Andorra, Austria, Belgium, Bermuda, Denmark, Finland, France, Germany, Ireland, Italy, Japan, Liechstein, Luxembourg, Monaco, the Netherlands, New Zealand, Norway, San Marino, Spain, Sweden and the UK. Davies considered the scheme a danger to liberty through the state’s increasing use of technology to monitor and control the population.

At the time Davies was writing, 90 countries used ID cards including Belgium, France, Germany, Greece, Italy, Luxemburg, the Netherlands, Spain and Portugal. They also included such sterling examples of democracy as Thailand and Singapore. In the latter, the ID card was used as an internal passport and was necessary for every transaction. The Singaporean government under Lee Kwan Yew has regularly harassed and imprisoned political opponents. The longest serving prisoner of conscience isn’t in one of the Arab despotisms or absolute monarchies, nor in Putin’s Russia. They’re in Singapore. A few years ago the country opened its first free speech corner, modelled on Hyde Park’s own Speaker’s Corner. You were free to use it, provided you gave due notice about what you were planning to talk about to the police first for their approval. There weren’t many takers. As for Thailand, each citizen was issued a plastic identity card. The chip in each contained their thumbprint and photograph, as well as details of their ancestry, education, occupation, nationality, religion, and police records and tax details. It also contains their Population Number, which gives access to all their documents, whether public or private. It was the world’s second largest relational database, exceeded in size only by that of the Mormon Church at their headquarters in Salt Lake City. Thailand also has a ‘village information system’, which collates and monitors information at the village level. This is also linked to information on the person’s electoral preferences, public opinion data and information on candidates in local elections. The Bangkok post warned that the system would strengthen the interior ministry and the police. If you needed to be reminded, Thailand has regularly appeared in the pages of the ‘Letter from…’ column in Private Eye as it is a barely disguised military dictatorship.

In 1981 France’s President Mitterand declared that ‘the creation of computerised identity cards contains are real danger for the liberty of individuals’. This did not stop France and the Netherlands passing legislation requiring foreigners to carry identity cards. The European umbrella police organisation, Europol, also wanted all the nations in Europe to force their citizens to carry identity cards. At the global level, the International Monetary Fund routinely included the introduction of ID cards into the criteria of economic, social and political performance for nations in the developing world.

Davies’ own organisation, Privacy International, founded in 1990, reported than in their survey of 50 countries using ID cards, the police in virtually all of them abused the system. The abuses uncovered by the organisation included detention after failure to produce the card, and the beating of juveniles and members of minorities, as well as massive discrimination based on the information the card contained.

In Australia, the financial sector voiced similar concerns about the scheme to those expressed recently by the landlords and immigrants’ rights and welfare organisations. Under the Australian scheme, employees in the financial sector were required by law to report suspicious information or abuse of ID cards to the government. The penalty for neglecting or refusing to do so was gaol. The former chairman of the Pacific nation’s largest bank, Westpar, Sir Noel Foley, attacked the scheme. It was ‘a serious threat to the privacy, liberty and safety of every citizen’. The Australian Financial Review stated in an editorial on the cards that ‘It is simply obscene to use revenue arguments (‘We can make more money out of the Australia Card’) as support for authoritarian impositions rather than take the road of broadening national freedoms’. Dr Bruce Shepherd, the president of the Australian Medical Association stated of the scheme that ‘It’s going to turn Australian against Australian. But given the horrific impact the card will have on Australia, its defeat would almost be worth fighting a civil war for’. To show how bitterly the country that produced folk heroes like Ned Kelly thought of this scheme, cartoons appeared in the Ozzie papers showing the country’s president, Bob Hawke, in Nazi uniform.

For those without ID cards, the penalties were harsh. They could not be legally employed, or, if in work, paid. Farmers, who didn’t have them, could not collect payments from marketing boards. If you didn’t have a card, you also couldn’t access your bank account, cash in any investments, give or receive money from a solicitor, or receive money from unity, property or cash management trusts. You also couldn’t rent or buy a home, receive unemployment benefit, or the benefits for widows, supporting parents, or for old age, sickness and invalidity. There was a A$5,000 fine for deliberate destruction of the card, a A$500 fine if you lost the card but didn’t report it. The penalty for failing to attend a compulsory conference at the ID agency was A$1,000 or six months gaol. The penalty for refusing to produce it to the Inland Revenue when they demanded was A$20,000. About 5 per cent of the cards were estimated to be lost, stolen or deliberately destroyed each year.

The ID Card was too much for the great Australian public to stomach, and the scheme eventually had to be scrapped. It’s a pity that we Poms haven’t learned from our Ozzie cousins and that such ID schemes are still being seriously contemplated over here. It is definitely worth not only whingeing about, but protesting very loudly and strongly indeed.

In Part 2 of this article, I will describe precisely what the scheme does not and cannot do, despite all the inflated claims made by its proponents.