Children

Who Cares If Bert and Ernie Are Gay?

Published by Anonymous (not verified) on Fri, 21/09/2018 - 5:00pm in


It’s not gross or weird. The rest of Sesame Street is.

Everyone is Talking About Blockchain But No One Does Anything About Knowing What It Actually Is

Published by Anonymous (not verified) on Fri, 21/09/2018 - 4:07pm in

If you read or talk tech you hear about blockchain everywhere, even in the context of fields of endeavor it wouldn’t seem to relate to. Cool. But what’s blockchain?

Private Eye on Frank Field Undermining His Labour Colleagues

Published by Anonymous (not verified) on Thu, 20/09/2018 - 10:04pm in

At the end of last month, Mike ran a story about the resignation of Frank Field from the Labour whip. Field claimed he was resigning the party whip because of the party’s supposed anti-Semitism problem and what he called ‘a culture of nastiness’.

In fact, as Mike pointed out, Field’s decision had nothing to do with any of that, and was actually spurred by him losing a no confidence vote held by his constituency party. They were angered by his decision to prop up May’s and her Tory government over Brexit.

Under party laws, Field had fourteen days to resign from the party completely or be thrown out. As for him standing as an independent, that’s an empty threat. Without the backing of the major parties, independent candidates stand little chance of getting elected. So the statement that his departure from the party could result in more right-wing Labour MPs leaving is an empty threat. They know perfectly well that if they do this, they too will vanish politically.

See: https://voxpoliticalonline.com/2018/08/31/dont-be-fooled-by-fake-news-frank-field-left-labour-rather-than-be-kicked-out/

As for Field’s allegation that the ‘culture of nastiness’ was being “driven, in part, by members who in previous years would never have been able to claim Labour Party membership”, this is less a description of his opponents and far more accurate as a description of him. Nearly twenty years ago, Field got into the pages of Private Eye’s ‘HP Sauce’ column because of his intriguing against colleagues in the Labour party, including urging voters to support a Liberal candidate instead.

the article was in the Eye’s edition for Friday, 21st August 1998, and ran

Frank Field’s apparent desire to speak the unspeakable on welfare reform is not the first time he has kicked against the pricks in his party.

Back in 1980 the Eye welcomed him into parliament (New Boys, 483) recalling his nickname of “Judas”. This was earned in Labour circles for his outspoken attacks on the Wilson government when he was director of the Child Poverty Action Group. This was nothing compared to the bizarre events associated with him during the Euro elections in north Wales in 1984, however.

Labour candidate Ian Campbell found himself discredited in a series of quarter-page advertisements in the local papers, which claimed that Frank Field MP urged Labour party supporters to support Tom Ellis, the candidate for the SDP/Liberal Alliance, who was then standing on a straightforward Liberal ticket.

Pleas from Campbell to Field to retract these reported views, and to canvas with him to disprove such presumably false claims, found no response. Neither did the diehards of the labour party’s general secretary for a retraction; he was forced in a conversation with Campbell to admit that Field was simply a “maverick” over whom the party had no control.

Labour lost the seat by a small margin and Field never denied the views attributed to him – views which, according to the rules, should have led to his expulsion from the party. (p. 8).

I realise the events are over thirty years ago, but they do seem to reflect very well what kind of character Field had. I could never work out why he remained in the Labour party, as he believed that life should be made even tougher for the unemployed. The Conservative Anglican blog, Cranmer, thoroughly supported him, and openly stated that Field would be welcome in the Conservative ranks if he crossed the floor.

Field’s resignation thus is no loss to the party. And as Mike points out, it leaves his constituency party free to elect a real Labour party worker to be their prospective MP.

Jimmy Dore and Secular Talk Tear Apart anti-Corbyn Smears about Bankers

Mike on Pollard’s Smears

On Monday, Mike put up a piece attacking the latest anti-Semitism smear against Jeremy Corbyn by the hard-right editor of the Jewish Chronicle, Stephen Pollard. Corbyn had made a video describing how the banks were propping up the Tory government, because they protected and supported them at the expense of ordinary working people. Ten years ago the banks caused the massive crash, which led to the Tories pushing their austerity programme, which is cutting services and pushing ordinary folks into poverty. But while millions of people, including nurses and other vital workers and employees are finding it difficult to make ends meet, the chief of Morgan Stanley last year gave himself a 21.5 million pound bonus, and the banks together have given themselves 15 billion pounds in bonuses. Corbyn concluded his piece by saying that when these people called Labour a danger and a threat, they were right: Labour is a threat to a rigged system. The party now has well over half a million members, and will work for the many, not the few, and Socialist Voice. They pointed out that it was Pollard, rather than Corbyn, who was the anti-Semite. Corbyn said nothing about bankers being Jewish. Pollard did. Therefore, it’s Pollard who believes the anti-Semitic lie that all bankers are Jewish.

Pollard and a number of other gullible bigots immediately blew their tops and decided that when Corbyn talked about ‘bankers’, he was really using dogwhistles to express his hatred of the Jews.

Pollard’s comment was immediately ripped apart on Twitter by David Rosenberg, Another Angry Voice, Kerry-Ann Mendoza, Chelley Ryan, Curious Chak, Martin Frowd, Revolution Breeze, and The MANY versus the Few.

After being torn to shreds, Pollard issued a non-apology. He sort-of admitted that his comments may have been way off beam, but that was what happened when anti-Semitism was allowed to flourish: you saw everything through its prism.

Mike pointed out that this changed nothing, that Pollard still held anti-Semitic views in that he considered bankers to be synonymous with Jews, and that he had claimed that Corbyn was an anti-Semite, even though he stated that he had no evidence to support it.

So the left-wing twitterati returned to the job of tearing bloody chunks out of him, metaphorically speaking. Vote Labour to save the NHS, Audrey, Kerry-Ann Mendoza, and Hajo Meyer’s Violin. They pointed out that Pollard hadn’t apologized and was still showing his own anti-Semitic prejudices. Another Angry Voice tweeted a speech by Marie van de Zyle at a ‘Say No to Anti-Semitism’ event in Manchester, which was a pack of lies from one end to the other. Kerry-Ann Mendoza also tweeted about how she had been accused of anti-Semitism at an event. She described how IDF soldiers kidnap and torture Palestinian children. So she was accused of using the anti-Semitic trope that Jews eat babies. Sara tweeted that she wished to send a message of solidarity to Corbyn, and Tom London said that the schism between the two sides of the Jewish community could be mended if they were prepared to meet in good faith.

Mike concluded his article by stating it was worth a try.

https://voxpoliticalonline.com/2018/09/17/accidental-anti-semitism-of-jewish-chronicle-editor-shows-the-lie-at-the-heart-of-recent-accusations/

Secular Talk and The Jimmy Dore Show

The accusations have crossed the Atlantic. They were repeated in the American Jewish newspapers, the Forward. And the American progressive news shows Secular Talk and the Jimmy Dore Show weighed in to rip Pollard and the other fanatics claiming Corbyn was an anti-Semite apart.

Both Secular Talk, fronted by Kyle Kulinski, and Jimmy Dore and his guests, Ron Placone and Steffi Zamorano, play Corbyn’s speech. Kulinski hows some of the twitter comments from ordinary Jews smearing Corbyn as an anti-Semite. He states that this is what happens to Progressives. Like they tried smearing Bernie Sanders as a sexist and racist, but they couldn’t smear him as an anti-Semite, because he was Jewish. But this didn’t apply in Corbyn’s case. He points out that they’re doing it to the BDS movement. And they’re only using the anti-Semitism smear because they have no real arguments against what he says.

Jimmy Dore and his friends say the same thing, though they take square aim at Stephen Pollard. One of the tweets they show asks how it is that the Jewish Chronicle in London and the Forward in New York say exactly the same thing, on the same day. It’s a good question. The answer is probably that both newspapers are running the same stories because they’re collaborating with the Israeli Ministry of Strategic Affairs, which has been exposed as organizing the campaign of anti-Semitic smearing against pro-Palestinian and anti-Zionist activists. Dore makes the same point as Kulinski, that these tweets don’t show that Corbyn is an anti-Semite because he never mentioned the Jews. All he mentioned was Morgan Stanley. Which doesn’t have a Jewish name. But it does show how Pollard and the other tweeters do believe the anti-Semitic lie that all bankers are Jewish.

Dore also makes the point that this attempts to stop any criticism of the banks, or income inequality or indeed any left-wing issues, because if you do so, you’re an anti-Semite. It’s crying wolf.

And worse, it reduces the value of real accusations of anti-Semitism. Because if you accuse Jeremy Corbyn of anti-Semitism, who stands up for working people, then obviously anti-Semitism can’t be a bad thing. Just like the attacks on Bernie Sanders undermine real accusations of sexism, because if he’s sexist and works for ordinary people, then similarly sexism can’t be all bad.

Here are the videos.

The Jimmy Dore Show.

Secular Talk

I am not at all surprised that they tried attacking Corbyn on the grounds that talking about bankers must be left-wing code for Jews. I’ve seen it done before on Kathy Shaidle’s extreme right-wing blog, Five Feet of Fury. Shaidle’s from the other side of the Atlantic, but her blog is aimed at Conservatives in America, Canada and Britain. She used the accusation to attack American and Canadian critics of the banksters, who cause the crash. I suppose it was only a matter of time before Conservatives and the Israel lobby over here used the same smear.

Old Advert in Private Eye with Very Clear Message to Blair

I know this is coarse, rude and therefore not at all adult, but I thought the advert below was still very relevant to today’s political situation. I found it on page 30 of Private Eye’s edition for 4th-17th February 2005. I haven’t reproduced all of the advert. The piece I’ve not copied contained details of how to pay for the shirts, and as I don’t know if the company still exists, I don’t really want to see people potentially wasting their money ordering stuff from a firm that may have vanished over a decade ago.

I think it’s obvious that the shirts and their slogan were aimed squarely at Tories bitter at Blair’s government and New Labour. However, it’s still relevant, because only a few weeks ago Blair stuck his head up from wherever he’s been skulking since leaving office and turning the Middle East into a bloody, smoking battlefield. As you will remember, he emerged to tell the media that the far Left had taken over the Labour party, and it may not be possible for ‘moderates’ to retake it. He therefore urged people to consider supporting a new, centrist party. This new, centrist party is presumably Unite For Change, the new party that’s been set up by what looks very much like people connected to Blair and New Labour donors. Blair appears to have been hoping that the ‘moderate’ Labour MPs – in reality, Blair’s supporters and therefore, like him, extreme-rightwing Thatcherite entryists – would leave the party to join this new outfit.

In fact, as John McDonnell has pointed out, Corbyn and his supporters are the real moderates. Corbyn’s proposals for renationalizing the NHS, giving workers better rights, reviving the welfare state, the nationalization of the railways and the partial renationalization of the electricity grid are traditional, centrist, Old Labour policies. These stressed a mixed economy, the nationalization of the utilities to serve the interests of the British public, not their owners or private investors, strong unions to protect working people, and a proper welfare state to support the poor and the disabled. They aren’t the policies of Trotskyites, Stalinists, Communists and the Hard Left, or whoever else Joan Ryan, the Blairites, Tories and the lamestream media feel they can use to smear Corbyn and his supporters.

As for Blair’s new centrist party, no-one is interested in it, it has precious few members, and its only policy so far seems to be that it wants Britain to remain in the EU. But apart from that, it seems simply to be a rehash of New Labour, where the party raised most of its money from rich, millionaire donors, who the party then did its best to please by adopting legislation that suited them, but not Britain’s working people, and placing the same donors or their senior management in positions of government.

I believe this country would definitely be better off if we remained in the EU. But Blair’s new centrist party has absolutely nothing to offer ordinary people except more poverty, more job insecurity, more welfare cuts, more privatization and the destruction of the NHS as it is sold off to private healthcare firms. Just as Thatcher, Major, Blair, and Cameron wanted, and which May is continuing.

The message is coarse, rude and nasty, but in a Britain in which 4.5 million children are in poverty, and a quarter of million people are using food banks to save themselves from starvation, it’s all too appropriate. It’s just a pity there isn’t a similar set of shirts now for May and the Tories.

Back-to-School Supplies for ICE Detainees

Published by Anonymous (not verified) on Tue, 18/09/2018 - 5:00pm in


Kids and their families are STILL in ICE custody, and it’s back to school time!

Good Parenting vs. Good Citizenship?

Published by Anonymous (not verified) on Fri, 14/09/2018 - 3:54am in

I’ve been a parent now for six months and change, and I have exactly nothing figured out. I have gotten pretty good at thinking of things in terms of stark tradeoffs. Hooray, he fell asleep while I was nursing him, and stayed asleep when he went into his crib! (Crap. This means a missed opportunity to put him down “drowsy but awake,” and thus to train him to fall asleep on his own.) Hooray, I am really enjoying singing this song to him right now! (Crap. This temporary alignment of my interests and his surely means I am losing all ability to discern my own interests when they diverge from his.)

Don’t judge me too harshly for this insanity. Everything written about parenting seems expressly intended to make its readers think of their choices in terms of tradeoffs. (Seriously. If you don’t want your kid to be sleeping in your bed when he’s sixteen, you must put him down drowsy but awake!)

And a lot about our social environment seems expressly intended to generate tradeoffs. Take just one example: Privileged parents generally face a choice between schooling options that middle-class parenting culture approves as best for their children, and schooling options that progressive politics regards as best ethically. A fair bit of attention has been paid to this choice in popular media over the past week, largely in response to a book by Margaret Hagerman about how progressive, middle-class parents make decisions—decisions about where to live and thus what schools their kids will attend, and with whom, etc.—that perpetuate racial inequality. This is to be welcomed. It’s an important issue. While the tradeoff is generated by policy-level decisions—our practices for funding schools, our willingness to tolerate residential segregation by race and social class, our willingness to tolerate the extreme social inequality that makes that residential segregation so consequential—the policy failure generates seriously difficult decisions for individuals.

The philosophical considerations that bear on those decisions are complex. I want to quibble with the way the ethical tradeoff is being framed in the popular media discussions of it, encouraged, perhaps, by the way Hagerman herself sometimes frames it. Consider this remark from her interview in the Atlantic:

“I really think—and this might sound kind of crazy—that white parents, and parents in general, need to understand that all children are worthy of their consideration. This idea that your own child is the most important thing—that’s something we could try to rethink. When affluent white parents are making these decisions about parenting, they could consider in some way at least how their decisions will affect not only their kid, but other kids. This might mean a parent votes for policies that would lead to the best possible outcome for as many kids as possible, but might be less advantageous for their own child. My overall point is that in this moment when being a good citizen conflicts with being a good parent, I think that most white parents choose to be good parents, when, sometimes at the very least, they should choose to be good citizens.” (Italics mine.)

Contrary to Hagerman’s worry, this does not sound even kind of crazy, and I hope her work helps to make it sound less crazy even to those who ultimately disagree with it. But we shouldn’t frame the tradeoff the way Hagerman does in this quote. It’s misleading and it’s bad marketing.

It’s misleading because it misplaces the real tradeoff. I said that I have figured out nothing about parenting since having a kid, but this one I knew long before the kid arrived: Good parenting is not about providing as much advantage for your kid as you can harness. It is also—it must be also—about making your kid a good person. I don’t care whether we say that good parenting is about maximizing your kid’s flourishing and insist that being a good person is part of flourishing, or instead say that being a good person is a distinct thing from flourishing but that being a good parent involves promoting both. The point is the same: Helping your kid become a good person is part of good parenting, and helping your kid become a good person requires modeling being a good person. Good citizenship is part of good parenting. But because sometimes being a good person and citizen is causally inert as an investment in your kid becoming a good person, a second point needs to be made: On either understanding, being a good parent does not require doing the things constitutive of good parenting at any cost. Even in cases where being a good person and citizen would be causally inert as an investment in your kid becoming a good person, then, being a good person and citizen is perfectly consistent with being a very good parent, even if it means passing up an opportunity to maximize your kid’s advantage.

For these reasons, the tradeoff that Hagerman’s work illuminates is not between being a good parent and being a good citizen. It is either a tradeoff between two different aspects of good parenting (investing in your kid’s advantage and investing in your kid’s moral development), or it is a tradeoff between plain investing in your kid’s advantage and being a good person.

(This formulation only makes sense if we don’t think of being a good person as a binary. If you sometimes favor your kid’s advantage over some benefit to someone who is unfairly badly off and just as morally important as your own kid, you are not necessarily thereby rendered a bad person, even if what you do is morally wrong. But you get the point. Maybe we say you’ve blamelessly or forgivably passed up an opportunity to do something morally good, or even morally required.)

I basically agree with the substance of Hagerman’s point, though, so why be a philosopher about it?

Because this bit of (what I take to be) infelicitous phrasing on her part is also bad marketing. I’m a few years off from having to make these difficult decisions. I know I will not be such a good person that I choose where to live based entirely on a judgment that my kid’s presence in that neighborhood’s schools would do the most good impartially construed. On the other hand, I hope I will live up to my principles enough to send my kid to public schools, even if I can afford (allegedly better) private schools. There’s a lot of space in between those options, and I don’t yet know where I’ll land. But I think I’ll do a lot better if I’m thinking of my choice as a decision about how to be a good parent in the social environment I inhabit, and in the context of my moral responsibilities in that environment, where good parenting does not mean optimizing my kid’s advantage, than I would do if I were to think of it as a choice between being a good parent and being a good citizen, where being a good citizen means failing to be a good parent.

It is the bizarre optimizing notion of good parenting that we should object to. Hagerman’s formulation in the italicized bit of the quote concedes far too much and forfeits too much persuasive potential. I suspect that Hagerman might be persuaded to agree. In the very same interview, she remarks on “this collectively agreed-upon idea in our society that being a ‘good parent’ means…providing the best opportunities you can for your own child.” At the very least, we need to be clearer that good parenting means doing that within the moral space we inhabit; probably in addition we need to think hard about how impoverished is the prevailing notion of “best opportunities.”

What’s Your End of Summer Parenting Strategy?

Published by Anonymous (not verified) on Thu, 16/08/2018 - 5:00pm in


We’re almost to the school year! You can make it.

Cards for these Uncertain Times

Published by Anonymous (not verified) on Thu, 02/08/2018 - 5:00pm in


May nothing but the inevitable rising of the seas cause you to part.

Sweet Dreams

Published by Anonymous (not verified) on Thu, 12/07/2018 - 5:00pm in


Goodnight cage. Goodnight ICE agent. Goodnight, President Trump.

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