who can give up essential
liberty to obtain a little temporary
safety, deserve neither liberty
-- Benjamin Franklin
"All governments lie and nothing
say should be believed."
"Power tends to corrupt, and
absolute power corrupts
absolutely. Great men
almost always bad men."
David Cameron #piggate storm is a sideshow from
the real issues. It’s
2. Alexis Tsipras takes oath of
office after victory in Greece
the Republican Assault on Planned Parenthood is
Morally Wrong and Economically
4. Conservatives Buoyed by
Historic Flood of Money Into
5. Guardian’s terrible
dilemma over Corbyn
This is a Nederlog
September 22, 2015.
This is a crisis
blog. There are 5 items with 5 dotted links: item 1
is about an article by Suzanne Moore on Cameron's (allegedly) having
part of his anatomy” into the mouth of a dead pig" (which is Big News in Great Britain); item 2 is about the re-election of Tsipras as Greece's
new prime minister; item 3 is about an article by
Robert Reich about planned parenthood in the USA; item 4
is about the very great influence of money in US politics (even though
most ordinary people are against it); and item 5 is
about The Guardian's reporting about Jeremy Corbyn (which was decidedly
sub-standard, at least).
Cameron #piggate storm is a sideshow from the real issues. It’s
article today is by Suzanne Moore on The Guardian:
This starts as follows:
O frabjous day!
This should be a bank holiday, surely, in celebration of what social
media is calling #piggate and the official media is studiously
ignoring. Tick whichever conspiracy theory you like regarding that
media response. But let’s face it, no one can get any work done while
we could be discussing whether the prime minister did “put a private
part of his anatomy” into the mouth of a dead pig during an initiation
ceremony while at Oxford. Which is a university, apparently. This
allegation is contained in a new book Call Me Babe … sorry, Call Me
Dave, by Lord Michael Ashcroft and Isabel Oakeshott, which is now being
serialised in the Mail.
I say. Well... what seems to
be true, and without euphemisms, is this:
Twitter is, of course, in
spasms of ecstasy. We want the story to be true, and the politics, as
well as the pig, are fascinating. Ashcroft is a former Tory donor.
Oakeshott is former political editor of the Sunday Times. The Mail is a
Lord Michael Ashcroft spent a lot of money - millions, it seems -
helping the Conservatives to win the elections, and expected some
reward for it. He did not get what he wanted, and decided to write a
book about David Cameron, in which he says, among other things, that
Cameron put his cock in a dead pig's mouth, and smoked cannabis while
listening to music, both when he was around 20.
There seems to be no photographic proof of either, though there are
written reports these existed or exist.
That is about it, at least as far as I know. Whether it is true is not
known, but it is true that Ashcroft was a large Tory donor, and
the Daily Mail is a Tory paper.
Here is the ending of the article:
What do I think about it? I
don't like David Cameron, and he does belong to the "entitled class that feels that normal rules
While George Osborne is
out of it in China – where we have just secured
important pork markets and pig semen deals (I’m not joking) - Cameron can
only hope this goes away. It won’t.
It won’t because the
hamminess of Cameron himself is ever present; it won’t because there
are still a thousand brilliant jokes to be made (“bae of pigs” is just the start); it won’t
because this image is now lodged firmly in our minds. “The creatures
looked from pig to man and from man to pig and it was impossible to say
which was which,” wrote Orwell, in Animal Farm.
We already know there is an entitled class that feels that normal rules
don’t apply. It’s just part of the full English.
Then again, this seems filth to me, possibly from Cameron's filthy
past, possibly not and a false allegation. I don't know, but this is
fairly big English news now.
2. Alexis Tsipras takes oath
of office after victory in Greece general election
article today is
by Helena Smith on The Guardian:
This starts as follows:
I say, for I had not
expected this. Then again, I do not know much about Greek politics (as
most people who are not Greeks and don't understand Greek).
Alexis Tsipras has taken the oath of office as
Greece’s new prime minister after his unexpectedly strong victory in
On Monday, almost eight
months to the day after he was sworn in at the helm of Athens’s first
ever far-left government, Tsipras stood before the president of the
republic for a second time pledging to serve his people and country. He
then walked through pouring rain to the prime ministers’ office –
premises he vacated barely a month ago after calling the poll following
a revolt in his Syriza party and loss of parliamentary
“Our commitment is to try
to get this country out of the crisis in which it has been for the last
five years,” he told the interim prime minister Vassiliki Thanou, a
supreme court judge and the nation’s first female leader.
There is also this:
It does seem to be a fact that
the leftist opposition that was inside Syriza, and that moved out of it
for the elections, got less than 3% of the vote, and therefore no seats
The leftist leader, who
managed to rally supporters despite rolling back on almost every
promise he had made, emphasised that the government’s “first big
battle” would be to revive the country’s crippled economy,
starting with the banking system under capital control since June.
Debt relief – the
condition set by the International Monetary Fund to participate in
Athens’ latest bailout – would top his list of demands.
There is also this, in partial explanation of the outcome of the
rates – only 55 % turned out for the vote – could raise legitimacy
Perhaps. But Syriza
still is a large party, and won the elections; it seems that the
majority of Greeks is - let's put it this way, because they really have
to choose from only evils - less negative about staying inside
the euro than about moving back to the drachma; and Tsipras and his
leftist party seem to be the leaders most Greek prefer (over someone
else from a rightist party).
“A general strike has
already been decided, we will all be taking to the streets, there will
be no let up,” said Petros Constantinou with the far left Antarsya
“There will be a huge
revolt against a leftwing government taking such measures. This winter
will be the most explosive yet.”
Republican Assault on Planned
Parenthood is Morally Wrong and Economically Stupid
next article today is
by Robert Reich on his site:
This starts as follows:
Republican assault on Planned Parenthood is filled with lies and
and may even lead to a government shutdown.
thing we can say for sure about it is it’s already harming women’s
There are fuller
explanations why, but I will leave these to your interests.
The fundamental part is this:
I agree, but then that is
the Republican Party. As Robert Reich remarks:
At least elected members
Congress should be held to a standard of responsible public
Yet last Friday, the
House voted 241-187 to block Planned Parenthood’s federal funds for a
This may lead
to another government shutdown. Funding for the
government runs out at the end of the month, and several dozen House
Republicans have said they won’t vote for a funding bill that includes
for Planned Parenthood.
quite frankly, nuts.
Again, I agree with
Reich, but I also observe that stupidity and wrongness are
marks of the Republicans and its presidential candidates, and so far
this hasn't kept them from getting a lot of what they wanted,
the last 35 years.
This never used to be a
issue. After all, Title X was signed into law in 1970 by Richard
Obviously, the crass
numbers don’t nearly express the full complexity of the national debate
abortion and family planning.
But they help make the
case that we
all benefit when society respects women to control their bodies and
The attack on Planned
not just morally wrong. It’s also economically stupid.
4. Conservatives Buoyed by Historic Flood
of Money Into
next article today is
by Sarah Lazare on Common Dreams:
This starts as follows:
I say, though it is not really
amazing, for this is what the majority in the Supreme Court seems to
have wanted: "Democratic elections" engineered by millions of
dollars from the few who can spend millions.
Political spending by
outside groups seeking to the influence the 2016 presidential election
is already dramatically out-pacing that of previous years, thanks in
large part to the flood of dark money and super PAC cash in support of
conservative candidates, a report
released Monday from the Center for Responsive Politics finds.
As of September 21,
political organizations "outside the party or official campaign
structure" had poured $25.1 million into the cycle—a five-fold increase
over the last presidential contest, researchers Robert Maguire and Will
Tucker concluded based on an analysis of Federal Election Commission
However, when you isolate
single-candidate spending, the increase is even more dramatic.
"Of the 40 organizations
that have spent the most so far in the 2016 cycle—a list that includes
political nonprofits, super PACs and business associations—more than
half are dedicated to one candidate and one race," the report states.
"The same is true of the top 20 biggest spenders, which includes 11
As of mid-September,
single-candidate groups had spent $16.2 million total—over 55 times
levels seen in 2012, the report notes.
groups are far more likely to favor conservatives. Out of the 20 top
spenders, only one has what the report calls a "liberal viewpoint."
The article ends as follows:
I agree with "the majority
of people in the U.S." on this issue, but I also observe that their
wishes are largely ignored, also if they are the clear
majority, and that
The findings follow numerous
reports which show that, over five years after the passage of the
U.S. Supreme Court ruling Citizens United, outside spending,
dark money, and corporate influence are dominating U.S. elections.
Meanwhile, surveys suggest the public
opposes the over-sized role of outside dollars. A poll released by The
New York Times and CBS in June
found that the majority of people in the U.S. is against the
unlimited flow of dollars into politics, do not think money equals
speech, and want to restrict the power of the one percent to buy ballot
the reason that the wishes of the clear majority are ignored
are that they do not have money to advertise.
5. Guardian’s terrible dilemma over Corbyn
article today is
by Jonathan Cooke on his site:
This starts as follows:
I say - and regular readers
may recall that I reviewed an article by
Ed Vulliamy about the kind of reporting The Guardian did - in vast
majority: only Owen Jones and Seumas Milne did not follow the
trend - about Jeremy Corbyn, which is the subject of the next
In autumn 2002 the
Observer newspaper’s correspondent Ed Vulliamy
found confirmation of a terrible truth many of us
already suspected. In a world-exclusive, he persuaded Mel Goodman,
a former senior CIA official who still had security clearance at the
Agency, to go on record that the CIA knew there were no WMD in Iraq.
Everything the US and British governments were telling us to justify
the coming attack on Iraq were lies.
Then something even more
extraordinary happened. The Observer failed to print the story. In
his book Flat Earth News, Nick Davies recounts that Vulliamy, one of
the Observer’s most trusted reporters, submitted the piece another six
times in different guises over the next half year. Each time the
Observer spiked the story.
As I have just pointed
out there were two exceptions, so "All" is not quite true, but "Most"
would have been.
But at the weekend maybe
the tables turned a little. The Observer gave Vulliamy a platform in
its comment pages to take issue with its editorial the previous week
savaging Jeremy Corbyn’s election as Labour Party leader.
cautious mode, Vulliamy called the paper’s stance towards Corbyn
“churlish”, warning that it had lost the chance to stand apart from the
rest of the British media, including the Guardian. All had taken
vehemently against the new Labour leader from the very beginning of his
And there is this:
circle of commentators, from Jonathan Freedland to Polly Toynbee, made
public that they were dead against Corbyn from the moment he looked
like he might win. When he served simply to justify claims that the
Labour Party was a broad and tolerant church, these commentators were
in favour of his standing. But as soon as he began to surge ahead,
these same liberal-left pundits poured more scorn on him than they had
reserved for any other party leader in living memory. In a few months
Corbyn has endured more contempt from these fearless
watchdogs of the left than the current Conservative prime minister,
David Cameron, has suffered over many years.
This may be a little
biased (I don't know, for I stopped reading e.g. Freedland and others,
like D'Ancona) but it seems mostly correct to me - and this is also why
I asked the question (without pretending to have the information
to answer this) whether perhaps some of these prominent journalists
were bought - since I do know that money "convinces" many of
things they would not be convinced of without payments.
The Guardian’s news
coverage, meanwhile, followed exactly the same antagonistic formula as
that of the rightwing press: ignore the policy issues raised by Corbyn,
concentrate on trivial or perceived personality flaws, and frame the
stories in establishment-friendly ways. We have had to endure in the
Guardian the same patently ridiculous, manufactured reports about
Corbyn, portraying him as sexist, anti-semitic, unpatriotic, and
Jonathan Cooke's lesson is this:
If it achieves
Corbyn’s campaign has highlighted a truth about the existing British
political system: that, at least since the time of Tony Blair, the
country’s two major parliamentary parties have been equally
committed to upholding neoliberalism. The Blue Neoliberal Party (the
Conservatives) and the Red Neoliberal Party (Labour) mark the short
horizon of current British politics. You can have either hardcore
neoliberalism or slightly more softcore neoliberalism.
I agree, in part because I
have thought so ever since Blair arose, and in part because I was
rather amazed by The Guardian's reception of Jeremy Corbyn.