Lazy Saturday Reads: Grown-Ups on the Left and Clowns on the Right

Beryl Cook: Tea in the Garden

Beryl Cook: Tea in the Garden

Good Afternoon!!

There’s big news today from the UK. The Brits have elected Jeremy Corbyn as Labour leader–which, according to the Guardian, means that “the party now has one of the most leftwing, anti-establishment leaders in its history.”

Jeremy Corbyn has been elected leader of the British Labour party, in a stunning first-round victory that dwarfed even the mandate for Tony Blair in 1994.

Corbyn won with nearly 59.5% of first-preference votes, beating rivals Andy Burnham, who trailed on 19%, and Yvette Cooper who received 17%. The “Blairite” candidate Liz Kendall came last on 4.5%.

Minutes after his victory, Corbyn said the message is that people are “fed up with the injustice and the inequality” of Britain.

“The media and many of us, simply didn’t understand the views of young people in our country. They were turned off by the way politics was being conducted. We have to and must change that. The fightback gathers speed and gathers pace,” he said.

The north London MP is one of the most unexpected winners of the party leadership in its history, after persuading Labour members and supporters that the party needed to draw a line under the New Labour era of Blair and Gordon Brown.

Wow! Could this be the beginning of the end for austerity politics in Europe? Reuters and other U.S. media outlets are calling Corbyn a “Marx admirer.”

Beryl Cook: End of Term

Beryl Cook: End of Term

Reuters: Marx admirer Corbyn elected UK opposition Labour leader.

Karl Marx admirer Jeremy Corbyn was elected leader of Britain’s opposition Labour party on Saturday, a victory that may make a British EU exit more likely and which one former Labour prime minister has said could leave their party unelectable.

Greeted by cheers from supporters in the room and hailed by radicals across Europe, Corbyn’s triumph opened up the prospect of deep splits within Labour with some fearing he will repel voters with radical policies that include unilateral nuclear disarmament, nationalization and wealth taxes.

“Things can and they will change,” Corbyn, who when he entered the contest was a rank outsider, said in his acceptance speech after taking 59.5 percent of votes cast, winning by a far bigger margin than anyone had envisaged.

“I say thank you in advance to us all working together to achieve great victories, not just electorally for Labour, but emotionally for the whole of our society to show we don’t have to be unequal, it doesn’t have to be unfair, poverty isn’t inevitable,” the grey-haired, bearded 66-year-old said.

His victory reflects growing support for left-wing movements across Europe, with Syriza winning an election in Greece in January and Spain’s anti-austerity party Podemos performing well in opinion polls.

Beryl Cook: The Dancing Class

Beryl Cook: The Dancing Class

Here’s a profile of Corbyn in Time Magazine: Meet the Man Shaking Up Britain’s Political Establishment (September 4, 2015).

Before announcing his candidacy for the Labour Party leadership, Jeremy Corbyn was a little-known member of parliament (MP) who had represented the same London constituency, Islington North, for 32 years. His career had always been more focused on left-wing activism than government — he is a member of the Palestine Solidarity Campaign, the Campaign for Nuclear Disarmament and the Stop the War Coalition — but this has not prevented him becoming the odds on favorite to become the next leader of the 115-year-old party, which has been without one since Ed Milliband resigned following a disastrous election campaign which saw the party all but eradicated in Scotland and far behind the Conservatives elsewhere.

The Labour Party governed Britain under Prime Ministers Tony Blair and Gordon Brown from 1997 to 2010 after they rebranded the party as ‘New Labour’, adopted more centrist policies and persuaded many formerly Conservative voters to back them. Corbyn was often opposed to his own government in power and he hopes to shift Labour from being a centre-left party to one that is decisively left wing.

Corbyn makes some in the Labour Pary nervous, according to author Tara John.

The Labour Party leader is elected by the membership from a shortlist selected by MPs. Many in Labour fear that if the membership elect Corbyn on Sept. 12, it will mean the end of the party as a viable candidate for government, instead devolving into a left-wing pressure group. “The party is walking eyes shut, arms outstretched, over the cliff’s edge to the jagged rocks below,” warned Tony Blair in the Guardian. “If Jeremy Corbyn becomes leader it won’t be a defeat like 1983 or 2015 at the next election. It will mean rout, possibly annihilation.”

Corbyn’s platform seems like a return to the postwar Britain of the 1950s, 60s and 70s, when the foundation of the welfare state was laid. Corbyn has called for the renationalization of rail and energy companies and funding increased government spending with higher taxes on the wealthy. He would also withdraw the U.K. from NATO and abandon its independent nuclear deterrent, which would be catastrophic for its relations with the U.S. and other nations and reduce the U.K’s role in international affairs.

Speaking at the Union Chapel in London to hundreds of supporters last month, Corbyn blamed the post-2008 policies of economic austerity on bankers and economists who were forcing the poorest and most vulnerable in the world to pay for the mistakes of the banking system. “We are saying something very very different in this campaign. And we are saying the problem was that Labour lost the election not because we were too left-wing or spent too much, because we were not offering a clear economic alternative. We want a new society where we all care for each other and everyone cares for everyone else; it’s called socialism,” he said to loud applause.

Read more at the link.


Of course many in the U.S. media are comparing Corbyn to Bernie Sanders. For example, in the Wall Street Journal, Ian Birrell called him “Britain’s Bernie Sanders,” (September 4). Birrell strongly disapproves of both candidates of course.

…in perhaps the strangest twist in modern British politics, this left-winger, now 66, finds himself at the helm of a youth movement that may sweep him to the head of the Labour Party when the summer-long leadership election results are revealed on Sept. 12. To call this a surprise would be massive understatement. Labour lost a general election in May because it was seen as too militant. Mr. Corbyn stood for the party’s leadership only reluctantly as the hard left’s token candidate. At first he struggled to find enough supporters to make the ballot, and was written off by bookmakers as a 100-1 shot.

But like Bernie Sanders in the Democratic presidential race, Mr. Corbyn has electrified disenchanted young voters, leading to a surge in support for his antiquated brand of socialism. New members have flocked to join the party, while his rallies overflow with fans enthralled by his “authenticity.”

It’s going to be interesting to see what comes of this surprising turn of events in Britain.

Back in the USA, the Clown Car will go on down the road to destruction with one less passenger.

Beryl Cook: Getting Ready

Beryl Cook: Getting Ready

Sam Reissman at The National Memo: Rick Perry Drops Out Of Presidential Race.

On Friday afternoon, Rick Perry became the first candidate in the congested Republican field to drop out of the presidential race.

In a concession speech delivered to the Eagle Forum in St. Louis, Missouri, the former Texas governor took aim at Donald Trump — without directly mentioning the business tycoon’s name. He challenged voters to resist the lures of celebrity, nativism, racism, false conservatism, and candidates who did not have true Christian faith.

He asserted that the U.S.-Mexico border can be secured “without inflammatory rhetoric, without base appeals that divide us based by race, culture, and creed.”

“Demeaning people of Hispanic heritage is not just ignorant,” he said. “It betrays the example of Christ.”

He nodded to Martin Luther King, Jr., saying in his prepared remarks: “We need to get back to the central constitutional principle that, in America, it is the content of your character that matters, not the color of your skin – that it doesn’t matter where you come from, but where you are going.”

“We have a tremendous field of candidates,” he said, faltering. “Probably the greatest group of men and women. I step aside knowing our party’s in good hands.”

Buh-bye Rick, and don’t let the door hit you on the way out. Who will be the next to fall by the wayside?

Now for the clowniest of the clown car riders:

Beryl Cook: Clubbing in the Rain

Beryl Cook: Clubbing in the Rain

Donald Trump claimed yesterday that he can kick out all the undocumented immigrants in 18 months to 2 years. From the Wall Street Journal:

Donald Trump estimated that it will take 18 months to two years to get the roughly 11 million immigrants living in the U.S. illegally to leave the country, and that he would then build a wall running along the border with Mexico.

The businessman’s statement made on a call with Alabama Republicans Thursday night added a bit of specificity to the Republican presidential frontrunner’s hardline stance on immigration….

Mr. Trump was asked for details about how long it would take to round up illegal immigrants living in the U.S., with the questioner asking if five or ten years was an appropriate timeframe. Mr. Trump said his two year benchmark could be met with “really good management.”

“We have to get them out. If we have wonderful cases, they can come back in but they have to come back in legally,” Mr. Trump said in an audio clip posted on YouTube Thursday night by a person on the call.

Mr. Trump said he would remove illegal immigrants from the country “so fast that your head will spin,” and long before he could embark on his plan to build a wall spanning the 1,900 mile border between the U.S. and Mexico.

Trump didn’t say how he would accomplish this or how much it would cost taxpayers, but he did say that Ben Carson would not be able to do it: “It wouldn’t work for him because he has absolutely no management capability.”

So that’s what’s happening in the lowest-common-denominator campaign . . . Sigh…

The Justice Department stuck a hatpin in the GOP MailGhazi ballon yesterday.

Beryl Cook: Strip Poker

Beryl Cook: Strip Poker

Ruby Cramer and Chris Geidner at Buzzfeed News: Justice Department Lawyers: Clinton Had Authority To Delete Personal Emails.

In a little noticed brief, filed on Wednesday to a federal court, Department of Justice lawyers outlined a comprehensive defense of the contentious decision by Hillary Clinton to wipe the private email server she used as secretary of state: The attorneys assert that, regardless of whether she used a personal or government account, Clinton was within her legal right to handpick the emails that qualified as federal records — and to delete the ones she deemed personal.

“There is no question that former Secretary Clinton had authority to delete personal emails without agency supervision — she appropriately could have done so even if she were working on a government server,” write the Justice Department attorneys, representing the State Department in the brief.

The lawyers add that under policies issued by the State Department and by NARA, the National Archives and Records Administration, government employees “are permitted and expected to exercise judgment to determine what constitutes a federal record.”

Be sure to read the whole thing!

And of course the NYT continues its tired attacks: Hillary Clinton’s Long Road to ‘Sorry’ Over Email use. Because they know more than the Justice Department and they only focus on gossip these days.

Other News, Links Only

Beryl Cook: Two on a Stool

Beryl Cook: Two on a Stool

Reuters: Russia to U.S.: talk to us on Syria or risk ‘unintended incidents.’

NYT: US Drops Charges That Professor Shared Technology With China.

MSNBC: Poll: Democrats claim resounding Latino support over GOP.

Jonathan Chait: Bobby Jindal Upset That Trump Is Stealing His Act. (funny!)

The National Memo: This Week In Crazy: Come Hell And High Water.

Reuters: At least 107 killed by falling crane at Grand Mosque in Mecca.

BBC News: India restaurant blast in Madhya Pradesh kills 89.

Buzzfeed: This Is What Refugees Are Given in Germany. (Nice, upbeat story)

NPR: Camerawoman Who Tripped Migrant In Hungary Apologizes. (What a horrible woman!)

NY Daily News: James Blake doesn’t want NYPD cop who tackled him to ‘ever have a badge and gun again.’ 

What else is happening?

7 Comments on “Lazy Saturday Reads: Grown-Ups on the Left and Clowns on the Right”

  1. dakinikat says:

    Interesting news today! I’ll be watching to see if Labour can return to power with an actual leftist. I was beginning to think none had survived the 1980s.

  2. bostonboomer says:

    Here we go . . .

    Sanders, Corbyn and the coming debate inside the Democratic Party, by Dan Balz

    The election of Jeremy Corbyn, the left-wing backbencher, as the new leader of the British Labour Party raises the inevitable question: Can it happen here? Can Bernie Sanders, the independent socialist senator from Vermont, capture the heart and soul of the Democratic Party?

    The immediate answer is, not likely. He remains an underdog candidate for the Democratic nomination. But some of the same forces that were instrumental in bringing Corbyn to power have powered Sanders’s rise from a hopeless cause to a candidate who now leads Hillary Rodham Clinton in New Hampshire and in one poll at least in Iowa, and who has closed the gap with her nationally.

    In a time of economic insecurity and an anti-establishment mood among so many voters here and elsewhere, the unexpected is no longer unthinkable. If Clinton’s problems and Sanders’s success are part of a surprising summer of politics here, the Corbyn victory was even more unthinkable only a few months ago after Labour suffered a historic defeat in the general election.

    I only wish the Democrats would have a serious internal debate, but I’ll believe it when I see it.

    • bostonboomer says:

      To American audiences, it is difficult to overstate the degree to which Blair is now an outcast in British politics. He may retain some affection here in the United States, but not in Britain. If there were any doubts about his current place in the politics of his country and particularly in the party he restored to prominence in the 1990s, it became clear with Corbyn’s landslide victory.

  3. bostonboomer says:

    Some Republican women in Iowa are fed up with Trump’s misogyny.

    USA Today: Some Iowa GOP women on Trump: ‘I’m over him’

  4. joanelle says:

    When will one of the media darlings point out the fact that this campaign seems to highlight voters navel contemplation. Will no one recognize that a leader who has no international experience/relationships will be of little use to us; and of course our ‘Girl’ is the only one who is significantly suited to a global role