Importing Ancient Greek democratic practices

By borrowing from the practice around which ancient Athens founded democracy – the involvement of ordinary citizens deliberating among their peers – we could transform Britain’s slow-motion agony into a triumph in which democracy was renewed to embody not just the will of the people, but the safer, more practical and generous notion of their considered will.

We’ll trade. You can have citizen juries if we also adopt another old practice. Anyone proposing a law which doesn’t then get passed is strangled on the floor of the debating chamber. Straight away.

Err, isn’t this the point?

Labour has been “completely taken over by a leftist clique”, one of the party’s most famous supporters has said, after the woman in charge of handling complaints was ousted and replaced by a controversial Jeremy Corbyn loyalist.

It’s a political party. Isn’t the point and purpose to be a leftist clique?

Greater love hath no man than to lay down his girlfriend for his career

Ukip leader Henry Bolton has ended his relationship with Jo Marney after it was reported she made racist remarks about Meghan Markle, he told ITV’s Good Morning Britain.

The leader of Ukip had been told to choose between his job and his new girlfriend after it emerged that she sent graphic messages referencing the sexual abuse of babies in an argument with a friend.

Robert Reich’s demand

But he’s been a great political conman. He conned 62,979,879 Americans to vote for him in November 2016 by getting them to believe his lies about Mexicans, Muslims, African-Americans, Barack Obama, Hillary Clinton, and all the “wonderful,” “beautiful” things he’d do for the people who’d support him.

And he’s still conning many of them.

Political conning is Trump’s genius. This genius – combined with his utter stupidity in every other dimension of his being – poses a clear and present danger to America and the world.

The 25th Amendment must be invoked before it’s too late.

Bloke Reich doesn’t like wins election. Therefore:

Whenever the Vice President and a majority of either the principal officers of the executive departments or of such other body as Congress may by law provide, transmit to the President pro tempore of the Senate and the Speaker of the House of Representatives their written declaration that the President is unable to discharge the powers and duties of his office, the Vice President shall immediately assume the powers and duties of the office as Acting President.

Thereafter, when the President transmits to the President pro tempore of the Senate and the Speaker of the House of Representatives his written declaration that no inability exists, he shall resume the powers and duties of his office unless the Vice President and a majority of either the principal officers of the executive department or of such other body as Congress may by law provide, transmit within four days to the President pro tempore of the Senate and the Speaker of the House of Representatives their written declaration that the President is unable to discharge the powers and duties of his office. Thereupon Congress shall decide the issue, assembling within forty-eight hours for that purpose if not in session. If the Congress, within twenty-one days after receipt of the latter written declaration, or, if Congress is not in session, within twenty-one days after Congress is required to assemble, determines by two-thirds vote of both Houses that the President is unable to discharge the powers and duties of his office, the Vice President shall continue to discharge the same as Acting President; otherwise, the President shall resume the powers and duties of his office.

So much for democracy, eh?

He’s got a point here

There has been international outcry after reports that Donald Trump described Haiti, El Salvador and some African nations as “shithole countries” in a meeting with US lawmakers on Thursday.

Some places are shitholes, others aren’t. Quite why this is causing so much pearl clutching is unknown.

Well, this is waking up even if not woke

This “externalisation” of the far right was at its height during the 2016 presidential campaign, in which Trump was portrayed as a political anomaly who had hijacked the Republican party. Conservatives and mainstream Republicans argued that he didn’t really represent what was at heart a moderate conservative party. They found much support among liberals, most notably Hillary Clinton, who focused much of her campaign on “moderate Republicans”.

However, for years surveys have shown that strong authoritarian, nativist and populist positions command pluralities, if not majorities, among Republican supporters. Positions on crime, immigration and Islam have hardened rather than weakened, while conspiracy theories that were at the fringes of the militia movement in the 1990s are now widespread.

Baby steps now, baby steps. But we do at least seem to have an admission that some large portion (a plurality of those who vote perhaps, this time at least) aren’t signed on to the Progressive ideal of America. At which point an interesting thought. Will that commitment* to democracy mean the vision changes? Or will the proles be told to shut up and get on with it?

*to ask this is to answer it really, isn’t it?

Scary is for Halloween, not these holidays

Jeremy Corbyn believes he will “probably” be Prime Minister within the next year, after failing to achieve his previous ambition of being in Number 10 before Christmas.

Commenting on his belief that there will be another election in the next 12 months, Mr Corbyn said: “I will probably win. I’m ready to be prime minister tomorrow.”

I’m tempted to say go for it. There’d be no cure for Teenage Trotism better then their actually having a go, would there?

A useful insight into Matthew d’Ancona

It is sensationally unfashionable to say so, but I am not sure that what is loosely called “the sovereignty of the people” is such a good thing. Since Rousseau hailed the “general will”, the history of those who have declared themselves its authentic voice has been, shall we say, patchy. The 20th century was an object lesson in the perils of populism and the autocracy and fascism it so easily leads towards.

“Out of touch”, the “political elite”, the dozy inhabitants of the “Westminster bubble”: MPs are called this and much worse. Indeed, some of them are now threatened with death and rape on a daily basis – and I hope those who encourage such threats, indirectly or otherwise, are proud of themselves.

Can you blame young, talented people who count themselves out of a political career? All the more credit, though, to those who do choose this life. Imperfect our parliamentary system may be, but it sure beats the populist babel that is the looming alternative.

Quite, quite, we can’t have the people just deciding for themselves now can we? We need that class of shining vanguards to lead them. Not anywhere, of course, in fact the direction doesn’t matter. But that those qualified to lead o so is very, yes vry, vry, important indeed.

The useful insight being that this really is how d’Ancona thinks. Thus his ability to, while wearing a pinstripe suit, write terrifyingly mainstream Wet Conservative columns for the Telegraph for years, then switch effortlessly into writing, while wearing shirt unbuttoned at the collar, terrifyingly mainstream Wet Labour columns for The Guardian.

It’s the leadership, the vanguard, of which he is a part, that matters, you see? The direction matters not one whit, only that the proles do as they are told.

Err, this is what whips do

Dark rumours have been circulating around Westminster this week about the government whipping operation, with talk of misdemeanour lists to keep troublesome MPs in line, and alleged attempts to put pressure on those threatening to rebel on Brexit.

The Conservative party was forced to deny the suggestion that one politician had been reduced to tears by “bullyboy tactics” before being gently steered through the desired voting lobby by a cabinet minister.

Back in Callaghan’s day (??) one Labour MP was carried through the vote on a stretcher (actually, his deathbed) in order to prevent a government defeat……

Damn these idiot hicks!

But tonight’s election results do not leave me comfortable with the state of American politics. If Moore had merely been a candidate who believed Muslims shouldn’t be allowed to serve in Congress, that the laws of the United States of America should be superseded by his interpretation of the Bible, that homosexuality should be illegal, he would have won in a landslide. Even multiple credible reports that Moore serially preyed on teenage girls were barely enough to lose him the election.

Like Donald Trump before him, Moore is proof that there is no depravity so unforgivable, no behavior so immoral, that it assures a candidate will lose his party’s voters. What cannot be condoned will be denied.

Ezra Klein bemoaning the manner in which American voters just won’t leave everything to the technocrats like him.

Not to wholly endorse but there’s a lot of truth here

What redeems Donald Trump, in my view, is the way he has played the media like a fiddle in the past 12 months. They have been consistently so eager to believe their own narrative, they’ve failed to sanity-check themselves, and now they seem to be left with a Russia-collusion investigation that’s going to fizzle to nothing, a raving Hillary Clinton who’s alienating more and more of her party with her insistence that nothing was her fault, and today’s Raftergate where a reporter was so keen to believe that Donald Trump’s audience in Pensacola was tiny that they didn’t do a basic check to confirm.

If Roy Moore gets elected in Alabama’s Senatorial special election on Tuesday, it’s mostly going to be down to the fact that the central-USA population has decided that they don’t believe a word that the media says. Moore seems to be a fairly distasteful candidate, but if you were a voter of average information level in Alabama then a natural tendency would be to assume that all the anti-Moore broadcasts were blatant lies, and if the media really doesn’t want him to be elected then he’s clearly the right man for the job.

Well, no, it’s known as being a Trot

Hide your kids: those dastardly undemocratic reds are coming again! The front page of one Murdoch outlet today carries wild reports of “Moderates forced out by hard left in Labour purge”.

What has actually happened is this: Labour is choosing candidates to stand as councillors in next year’s local elections. In some cases, members have democratically decided that some sitting councillors should face an open contest. This happened automatically until a rule change last year. Calculating that they will lose to a leftwing alternative, some have stood down. Others have lost. This is not a “purge”. This is what is known as “democracy”.

It’s a classic piece of the Trot methods.

Some half a dozen of the committed meet first to decide the agenda for a meeting, decide upon who the candidate is going to be. Only then does the wider interest group get presented with a hoice. In that manner the small group manages to control the process.

Well, of course

Theresa May is hated by many of her own MPs, a senior DUP figure has claimed as he insisted the Tories “cannot afford” a leadership election.

Sammy Wilson, the party’s Brexit spokesman and one of the 10 Northern Irish MPs propping up the Prime Minister’s minority government, said a lot of Mrs May’s Conservative colleagues “want to undermine her” and are “doing their best to trip her up”.

Near all MPs (the few who don’t being the honourable exceptions) believe they’ve the PM’s gavel in their briefcase. Thus anyone who does make it to No 10 is hated by all those who didn’t but think they should have done. Why the fuck was everyone dim enough to choose her over me?

Been going on since the Earl of Chatham was struggling with how to tie shoelaces.

Weird, just weird

This strong Democratic showing suggests that Virginia is entering a new era.
History is the foundation of the Old Dominion, one of America’s 13 original colonies. However, in my assessment, the 2017 gubernatorial election proved that forward-thinking Virginians now place a greater value on the future than on the past.
Although it is a southern state, Virginia rejected ads that sought to racially divide and frighten the electorate. Even the rallying cry of the Confederate flag and Civil War monuments did not deter voters from writing new history. With little fanfare, the state carried a black attorney into the office of lieutenant governor.

Sure, agreed, the basic analysis. More urban Virginia is more D than the rather R rural areas, population changes are making the state more D.

Sure. But Jeez, to think of a southern state becoming more D as being throwing off the Civil War?

Democrats’ sweep of Virginia shows the state is moving beyond its Confederate past


(For those who don’t know the Ds were the pro-slavery party in large part, they owned the south for the century after the civil war too. It’s that the south turned R which is the big change of the past 50 years.)

A certain wisdom here

Exploratory talks to form Germany’s next coalition government collapsed shortly before midnight on Sunday when the pro-business Free Democratic Party (FDP) walked out of marathon negotiations.

“The four discussion partners have no common vision for modernisation of the country or common basis of trust,” the FDP leader, Christian Lindner, announced after the four parties involved missed several self-prescribed deadlines to resolve differences on migration and energy policy. “It is better not to govern than to govern badly.”

Always going to be tough to get the rightish social democrats, the free market headbangers and the Greens into the same government, wasn’t it?

The only statement anyone needs to make about Roy Moore

Donald Trump has backed Republican Senate candidate Roy Moore remaining in the election race despite multiple claims of sexual harassment of teenage girls.

Mr Trump believes that “Alabama should take the decision” about their next senator and that Mr Moore should only quit if the allegations are proved.

Weird that it’s The Donald making it but still.

The important concept under discussion is “democracy.” That means that it’s the voters who get to say. There are no – barring actual proved criminal activities – preconditions upon who they may decide among. Because that’s what the system is, the voters getting to decide. Maybe they do care about a bit of ephebophilia, maybe they don’t – as with the Ten Commandments stuff for which he was rightly fired as a judge, not a politician – but it is up to them what they care about.