Palestinian musical humanity denied

March 29, 2009 at 11:43 pm (anti-semitism, israel, Jim D, Middle East, music, palestine)

An orchestra of young Palestinian musicians plays for a group of holocaust survivers in Israel: a small step towards human understanding and reconciliation, you’d think: but no. It’s been sabotaged.

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Adult entertainment ‘chez Smith’

March 29, 2009 at 9:30 pm (Champagne Charlie, comedy, labour party, men, wankers)

With his wife spending so much time over at her sister’s place, you can’t really blame Mr Jacqui Smith for having a quick J. Arthur (inspired by, say, ‘Swedish Air Hostesses  On The Job’), now and then, can you?

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Epilogue to the boom

March 29, 2009 at 5:24 pm (capitalist crisis, literature, Max Dunbar, parasites, plutocrats)

Today’s recommended reading: Mark Thwaite’s review of William D. Cohan’s House of Cards: How Wall Street’s Gamblers Broke Capitalism.

Cohan’s book is subtitled How Wall Street’s Gamblers Broke Capitalism, but it is precisely that global, historically-situated, man-made, overturnable social system — capitalism — that he never defines or critiques. This is a thrilling narrative in parts but, like so many books about the credit crunch it is curiously incurious about the system that requires bankers to get up to their creative accounting in the first place. Certainly, the world financial meltdown came about because of perverse and ridiculous derivatives, collateralized debt, unrestrained mortgages and also because — as Cohan shows clearly — of the negligence, greed and criminality of individual bankers, but behind all of that is a social system that has always been blind to human need and based on the extraction and circulation of value. Wall Street’s gamblers haven’t broken that system, but they have broken the real economy where real people live and work. And when real people realise that Wall Street gamblers are merely an epiphenomenon of a system that is intrinsically inimical to their needs then it might be them and not a bunch of greedy, overpaid, blue-eyed white men who really break capitalism. For good.

I don’t think you can expect even the best finance writers to conclude: ‘Capitalism is the real enemy – to the barricades!’ Yet it is right to ask what the recession shows about the system that produced it. This is the end of doctrinaire freemarket capitalism, and the big task of the twenty-first century will be to find something better, something that actually works.


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March 29, 2009 at 4:36 pm (Caroline S, labour party, sex workers)

Well here’s an interesting development:As you all know, Jacqui Smith is very dedicated to ridding the community of the blight of the poor unfortunate ladies of the night, so blinded by patriarchy, they think it’s fair crack to sell their souls to the incubi kerb crawlers.

Meanwhile, her own husband is actively thwarting her plans to bring emancipation to these bad lasses by exploiting them even further. Yes – Mr. Jacqui Smith has downloaded prostitutes and charged the taxpayer for the pleasure of doing so!

I for one am sickened by the hypocrisy. If you can’t trust Jacqui’s husband, who can you fucking trust, eh? And that is £67 the taxpayer will not be seeing again.

Shall we see what the Sundays have to say?

The Sunday Times
goes with Jacqui Smith ‘mortified’ as adult movies put on expenses:

Jacqui Smith revealed she is “mortified and furious” after the cost of two adult films watched by her husband were paid for out of the Parliamentary expenses budget.

Yes, I bet she is.

The Sunday Telegraph, Jacqui Smith ‘claimed for husband’s adult movies on expenses’

The revelation is an embarrassment to Ms Smith, who last month faced criticism for claiming taxpayer-funded allowances for a second home while living with her sister.

Really not going well for Jacqui anyway, is it? This could [crosses fingers] finish her.

Next, the little buggers who broke the story – The Sunday Express with JACQUI SMITH PUT ADULT FILMS ON EXPENSES

As she fought for her political life last night, Ms Smith apologised after being confronted by the Sunday Express.

“fought for her political life…” [sparks up cigarette]

The MirrorHome Secretary Jacqui Smith submitted expenses claim for adult films watched by husband

A friend said the Home Secretary knew there was “no excuse” for the error but added: “To say she’s angry with her husband is an understatement.

“Jacqui was not there when these films were watched…”

I don’t want any shit head comments casting aspirtions on Jacqui’s integrity. If she said she didn’t watch them, she didn’t watch them. Mm’kay?

One more? Ok, The Sunday Mail with the very saucy headline – Blue movies on expenses: Jacqui Smith’s husband apologises for watching porn… paid for by the taxpayer. “Blue Movie”, bloody hell guys, bit much for a Sunday morning, that.

So, this is glorious. But let me tell you why it is glorious –

  1. She’s in trouble again.
  2. She’s saving the whores while her husband creates a demand for them – it has irony, hypocrisy and, just, y’know, beaucoup de lolz.

Now, let me explain why people should be pissed off –

  1. It was charged to her expenses.
  2. Which means she’s either really fucking careless or really fucking cheeky.

Problems? The porn bit. There’s the tempation there to chastise the dude for watching filthy dirty smut. The media have gloated over his humiliation at having to apologise, and to be fair I bet he was fucking mortified. But the actual watching of porn isn’t shameful nor is it a reason to apologise.

I think this is one to keep an eye on, not to laugh at Jacqui, cos we’ve done that, but to see how the media handles this. Fair enough to get on your high horse about the films being charged to her expenses, but simply moralising on the watching of pornography – FAIL.

(cross-posted at Uncooler Than Thou)

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March 28, 2009 at 3:29 pm (elections, Europe, Socialist Party, stalinism, unions, voltairespriest)

Myself and Mr Denham attended an interesting meeting in Coventry the other day, organised at short notice by the Socialist Party and attended by about 20-30 people, which in part dealt with the question of the upcoming Euro elections. Dave Nellist, the speaker at the meeting, is on the “No2EU – Yes to Democracy” slate in the West Midlands, and he spent much of his speech explaining this decision on behalf of himself and his party. He also, obviously, called on the meeting to support the slate in campaigning and at the polls.

It clearly wasn’t a comfortable case for SP comrades in the room to make: I get the sense that they have considerable misgivings about the top-down nature of the slate, its Stalinist political roots and the inevitable focus of its public image on the “No2EU” bit of its programme. The basic planks of Nellist’s case as I understood it were these:

1) There is a big pool of disenfranchised working-class voters at present. In various European countries this ground is contested between the reformed parties of the left (like the Left Party in Germany) and the far right (like the Freedom Party-Alliance for the Future of Austria opposition bloc in Austria). In the UK the BNP is in pole position to appeal to those voters: the left currently has nothing. This bloc at least gives us a chance to stop the BNP from getting MEPs elected.

2) No2EU was called by a major national trade union. This is the first such instance in political memory since the foundation of the Labour Party. As such socialists should intervene in it.

3) The EU is a capitalist entity in its essence. “Socialists” called for a no vote in the original EEC referendum, and there is no reason for that opposition to change.

4) If local campaigns gather some momentum then there may be a possibility to make the project bigger than it is at present.

The discussion and comments carried on along this line, with most people speaking in favour of the slate either pointing to the success of the SP’s intervention in the Lindsay oil strike (which was indeed superb) as an example of injecting progressive politics through engagement, citing the threat of the BNP, or pointing out that the actual manifesto of the slate is not as bad as one might think.

All of these things are good points, but they don’t add up to enough to persuade me to support the slate.

1) It is not true that all socialists now support a position of active opposition to the EU. The fact is that capitalist integration should not be opposed in terms of trying to roll it back to a lost world of powerful nation states. It should be opposed by demanding and building international structures of opposition which are powerful enough to challenge those institutions.

2) The EU is not some unique evil which merits the disproportionate amount of time spent on it by the UK left. Nation states are capitalist. The USA is capitalist. The IMF, World Bank and G20 are capitalist. Every major world economic institution in a capitalist world is capitalist. What needs to be done with all these things is to either place demands on them or to organise worldwide opposition to them in the name of something better, not to buy into the usual political dichotomies which surround debate about them.

3) The BNP issue is a thorny one and the threat of them gaining MEPs is real. However again they are tackled by presenting people with different ideas in which those people can feel a stake, not with a pre-fabricated political slate called “No2EU”. The reality is that most people do not vote in Euro elections, and those that do will not read the manifestos of the groups for whom they are voting. It therefore doesn’t matter particularly how progressive the SP can make the No2EU slate’s programme, because nobody in reality will see it and certainly most of the slate’s voters (such as they will be) will not make their decision to back it on the basis of that programme. The bulk of its exposure will be via the media, and the word that will stick in people’s minds is “No2EU”, not “Yes to Democracy”, which in any case is one of the most insipid slogans I have ever heard.

4) Regarding the RMT, at the risk of sounding flippant, if Bob Crow told you to jump off a tall building, would you do it just because he’s a union leader? I wouldn’t. The fact that a union calls for something doesn’t mean automatically that it’s a politically good thing.

5) This isn’t the same as Lindsay or Staythorpe. Political progressives do not have the forces to engage with enough voters to influence events in the way that the SP did in those disputes.

Sorry comrades, I’m with you on a lot of things but this time round you’ve lost me.

Update 29/3/09: Nellist has just appeared on the BBC Politics Show in a local segment about the Euro-elections and what a plethora of choices “anti-EU” voters have this time around. Again, in the context of a series of brief slots on the Europhobic parties (UKIP and the BNP) and nutters (Libertas) standing in these elections, it didn’t look good. He also spent rather a lot of his short bite of the cherry talking about the net cost of EU membership to the UK taxpayer. This surely proves my point that No2EU will not be able to get out much of a message beyond “No to the EU” in the course of this campaign.

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Amusing Weekend Shite

March 28, 2009 at 9:34 am (comedy, crap, deviants, sectarianism, voltairespriest)

For saddos and lovers of sectarian bun-fighting (and let’s face it, who isn’t on a Saturday morning?), there’s a treat over at Splintered Sunrise. He’s dug up an article by Sean Matgamna, who presumably dug it up himself for publishing recently in the AWL’s paper Solidarity. Splinty ruthlessly mocks the AWL for bothering to re-publish the 15-year old critique of WRP dictator Gerry Healy, and then promptly demonstrates his own commitment to contemporary and relevant blogging by going through the thing and fisking it. We are then presented with comments from an impressive left-wing zoo, all of whom of course have strong views to offer on the AWL, presumably due to their having nothing better to do than spend hours on end doing in-depth research into the fortunes and foibles of a UK-based Trot group. Particularly impressive is the way that (with the exception of Lobby Ludd, occasionally of this parish) they all don’t leap to slap down the notion that the AWL is in the pay of some group of people who use “shekels” (hmmm). Of course I have assured them all that I will ask our own Zionist Paymaster to ascertain the veracity or otherwise of this so Rothschild if you’re reading this then please let us know.

In other highlights, Andy Newman (displaying once again his deep understanding of theology and history) goes “tee hee hee Jim Denham said Protestantism is historically more progressive than Catholicism”, and Liam Mac Uaid replies “umm well he’s right about that actually”, which appears to end Andy’s participation in the fun. Dr Paul, who I’m told is a nice bloke, complains that the AWL were nasty to him when he compared them to the RCP. Someone else mentions Jane Ashworth. It’s like a smorgasbord for anoraks so what on earth are you all still reading this for? Grab a yellowing copy of Newsline and get in there!

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Bewitched, Bothered and Bowdlerised

March 28, 2009 at 1:32 am (music, Rosie B, Uncategorized) ()

I was having lunch in a pub last Saturday. The music in the background was selections from The Great American Songbook, sung by Frank Sinatra, which was absolutely fine by me.  I was alone, I hadn’t brought anything to read, so I was glad to hear some lyrics that were worth listening to.  I followed Sinatra through a couple of verses of Bewitched, Bothered and Bewildered, until he got to this verse:-

I’ll sing to her,
Each spring to her,
And long for the day that I can cling to her.

Hey!  What’s happened to worshipping the trousers that cling to him?  Oh well, I suppose it’s a bloke singing and they have to make the love object female.  But couldn’t he have worshipped the stockings that cling to her?  Or some other female garments?

When I got home I looked on YouTube, found a couple of versions sung by women, and it was the same soppy longing for the day I can cling to him.  Here’s one by Doris Day:-

She’s clinging all right.   She also:-

Couldn’t sleep,
Wouldn’t sleep,
Then love came and told me I shouldn’t sleep

when really she:-

Couldn’t sleep
And wouldn’t sleep
Until I could sleep where I shouldn’t sleep

Bewitched Bothered and Bewildered was written by Rodgers and Hart and is from Pal Joey (1940).  Later covers of this warm, juicy song were bowdlerised and soppified. It’s wasn’t written as a song of romantic fantasy, the one where you fall into Prince Charming’s arms for ever and ever.  It’s about shagging Mr All Too Real, and the woman, as well as being hot with desire, is ruefully amused at the spectacle of herself in love (yet again). 

Here’s Patty LuPone singing it with gusto, enjoying those sophisticated and sexy lyrics:-


I’ll sing to him
Each spring to him
And worship the trousers that cling to him.

When he talks he is seeking
Words to get off his chest
Horizontally speaking,
He’s at his very best

Vexed again
Perplexed again
Thank god, I can be oversexed again.
Bewitched, bothered and bewildered, am I. 

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Ben Webster, b: Kansas City, Missouri, 27 March 1909; d: 20 Sept, 1973 Amsterdam

March 28, 2009 at 1:22 am (jazz, Jim D)

Ben Webster was a living contradiction: well-behaved, chatty and friendly when sober; belligerent and sometimes violent when drunk. He carried a knife, and had been known to use it. His tenor sax was the same: on ballads he was breathy and romantic, but he could turn on a rough-edged, almost rock’n’roll sound when he felt like it. His nickname was “The Brute”. Here he is, probably in Copenhagen or Amsterdam, playing the ballad “How Long Has This Been Going On?”, a few years before his death:


…and here he is, playing his classic solo on “Cottontail” with the Ellington band in 1941 or ’42 (plus some amazing dancing!):


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One mo’ time: Let’s Bogle Again!

March 28, 2009 at 12:02 am (Champagne Charlie, Christianity, insanity, religion, religious right)

Due to various technical problems, Comrade Volty was unable to embed the following memorable moment from Channel Four News in his post “Doing the Bogle” (see below). He did provide a link, but some of you may have missed it or – more likely, you lazy shower – not bothered.

Now, thanks to Ms Comrade  Stroppy and the wonders of YouTube, we can present Joanna Bogle aka The Voice Of Reason, in all her left-footing glory:


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Daud Abdullah, the MCB and “freedom of speech”

March 27, 2009 at 11:20 pm (anti-semitism, Champagne Charlie, Free Speech, Guardian, islamism, israel, Livingstone, Middle East, palestine, wankers)

In a wacky and hysterical letter – even by the standards of the Graun‘s Letters and emails page – Ken Livingstone, Tony Benn, Lauren Booth (a recent star recruit to the ranks of the wackos), Bruce Kent, Jeremy Corbyn MP, Jenny Tongue, Anas Altikriti (British Muslim Initiative), Kate Hudson (Chair, CND), Andrew Murray (Chair, Stop the War Coalition) and 21 other apologists for clerical fascism, state that they “consider … the decision of the government to demand the removal of Dr Daud Abdullah from his elected post of deputy general secretary of the MCB (Muslim Council of Britain – CC) an attack on the democratic right of freedom of speech of every British citizen.”

To which this British citizen can only reply “bollocks.”

The government has not stopped, and has not attempted to stop, Mr Abdullah or other Hamas-supporters like the signatories of the Graun letter, from expressing (as they put it), “whatever lawful views views (they) wish in relation to the government’s foreign policy and the criminal actions of Israel in relation to the Palestinian people.”

“We note“, they go on, “that there is no suggestion by the government that Mr Abdullah has broken any British law.”  Precisely! What the government is doing is “suspending relations” with the MCB  – in other words, ending its privileged position as a body that is regularly consulted by government and whose activities and propaganda are subsidised by the government. Some attack on freedom of speech! (The letter, by the way, can be accessed via the link provided towards the end of this piece).

The government and the hapless Hazel Blears have not helped their own case by getting all confused about which of Mr Abdullah’s many nasty views, and which of the many dodgy sentiments expressed in the Istanbul Declaration “Against Global Aggression” that he signed, constituted the final straw: was it the the alleged call for attacks on British military forces, the apparent support for terrorist attacks on Britain, or the declaration’s unmistakeable incitement to attack Jews throughout the world?

As a matter of fact, the call for attacks on British military forces is not something that I personally would get that worked up about. They’re soldiers, after all. The call for attacks on civilians is another matter. And the anti-semitic calls for the destruction of Israel and for attacks on Jews everywhere are a disgrace – and it’s even more of a disgrace that so-called leftists and liberals defend it.

The coward and liar Abdullah now, of course, wriggles and squirms and tries to deny that he or the Istanbul Declaration ever said these things. In his letter to the Graun he denies, with particular emphasis, Blears’ claim that he advocates attacks on “Jewish communities”.

Best to let the Istambul Declaration, signed by Mr Abdullah, speak for itself; here’s point 7:

“The obligation of the Islamic Nation to regard everyone standing with the Zionist entity, whether countries, institutions or individuals, as providing a substantial contribution to the crimes and brutality of the entity; the position towards him is the same as towards the userping state.”

For all the convoluted language, I think we can all understand what that means.

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