Ah, yes, the far right

Austria’s crisis is a lesson for Europe: far-right parties are unfit to govern
Julia Ebner

That particular party does indeed seem to have had more than just the one scumbag in it.

Leaked video recordings show the now-resigned vice chancellor HC Strache and parliamentary whip Johann Gudenus offer Austrian contracts and assets, including the country’s most widely read media outlet, Kronen Zeitung, to Russian oligarchs in return for campaign support.

So different from offering contracts and assets to prop up Cuba, as Chavez and Maduro have done, isn’t it? Corruption and idiocy being an entirely far right wing construct, obviously.

Those mystery Brexit Party donations

Gosh!

The Electoral Commission is under mounting pressure to launch an investigation into the funding of Nigel Farage’s Brexit party because of concerns that its donation structure could allow foreign interference in British democracy.

Before Thursday’s crucial European elections, Gordon Brown has written to the Electoral Commission calling on it to urgently examine whether the party has sufficient safeguards on its website to prevent the contribution of “dirty money”.

The former Labour prime minister will use a speech in Glasgow on Monday to say an investigation into the Brexit party’s finances is urgent and essential.

“Nigel Farage says this election is about democracy. Democracy is fatally undermined if unexplained, unreported and thus undeclared and perhaps under the counter and underhand campaign finance – from whom and from where we do not know – is being used to influence the very elections that are at the heart of our democratic system,” he will say, according to pre-released extracts.

“Now Mr Farage heads a new Brexit party, which is making questionable claims about the true source of its funding at a time when the Electoral Commission has warned of the dangers of multiple, small, anonymous donations being a cover for dirty money.”

While other parties require personal information from donors, the Brexit party allows donations of less than £500 via just a PayPal account, which critics said leaves the way open to abuse by foreign donors wishing to influence British elections.

Scandal!

13 paragraphs later we are told:

Only donations over £500 have to be declared under British law.

Good innit? Absolutely obeying the law preciselyt to every jot and tittle, is undermining democracy. Because, of course, it’s the wrong people obeying the law.

Sadiq Khan is absolutely right here

We are in the middle of a battle for Britain’s soul. On one side are those who want our country to continue to be forward looking, open to the world, tolerant, inclusive and progressive. On the other, those who want to pit our communities against each other, undo the social progress painstakingly made over decades, and who advocate a politics of division.

Therefore vote Brexit Party.

So universities should brand the socially suspect now, should they?

One of the little things about Stalin’s Russia – Soviet Union if you prefer – was the manner in which your social origins followed you through the system. Children of the bourgeois were deliberately overlooked for such things as university places, those entry portals into the professional classes. True sons of the proletariat were identified and promoted.

Some people seem to be taking Stalinist policies as a guide book, not a warning:

Universities should introduce “privilege flags” so admissions tutors know when students are from affluent backgrounds, it has been suggested.

Dr Rachel Carr OBE, chief executive of IntoUniversity, a charity that raises aspiration among underprivileged children, said this would allow institutions to see who has had a “better start” in life.

“Lots of universities already use participation flags to identify students,” she said. “How about we also use ‘privilege flags’ so we can see the students who already have a much better start and a much better likelihood of success.”

This would not apply to people of proven social value of course – Tony Benn’s grandchildren say, now the fifth – or is it sixth – generation of those to wibble about progressive politics and the necessity of overthrowing inherited privilege. I can’t actually recall Hilary Benn’s antecedents. Was he a third or fourth generation Cabinet Minister? Forth or fifth generation MP?

Can’t say I’m enamoured of such a system, to be honest. Neither the Stalinism nor the Benns.

How the left colonises

This is not least the case for victims of online abuse; sites like Facebook and Twitter have become breeding grounds for very real hate. New research by the disability charity Leonard Cheshire, released today, shows online disability hate crime has soared in the last year, with recorded incidents up by almost a third.

Leonard Cheshire himself simply took in and cared for someone who needed it. Then did it again, again, and built a system that has done it thousands of times.

He’s not been dead that long but now that provision of glorious charity is colonised by the sort of idiots who worry about Tweets.

Sad really, but then that’s colonialism for you.

Well, he would, wouldn’t he?

Donald Trump dramatically increased pressure on China to reach a trade deal on Sunday by saying he would hike US tariffs on $200 billion worth of Chinese goods this week and target hundreds of billions more soon.

The move marked a major escalation in trade tensions between the world’s two largest economies and sent markets tumbling.

It also heralded a shift in tone from the US president, who had cited progress in talks as recently as Friday.

The Wall Street Journal reported on Sunday night that China was considering cancelling this week’s trade talks in Washington in light of Mr Trump’s comments that took Chinese officials by surprise.

I think I’d call this “negotiating”.

Donald is stupid enough ti impose more tariffs, is ignorant enough to think that trade wars can be won. But throw a curve ball at one minute to midnight? That’s just rambunctious negotiating….

I didn’t know this – anyone can run for President

To declare as a presidential candidate, anyone can complete and sign an FEC Form 2, a single-page statement of candidacy. Once the FEC receives that document either online or in the mail, it assigns the applicant an identification number and post their name on the commission’s website. If a candidate expects to raise and spend more than $5,000 to promote their campaign, then an additional FEC Form 1, declaring a campaign finance committee, must be completed within 15 days of collecting the money.

Voila! That’s all it takes to be recognized by the federal government as an official presidential candidate.

It is not necessary to be eligible to be President in order to run for President.

Is America ready for something like the Monster Raving Loony Party?

Or, even, do they already have something like that? I know Canada had the Hippo Party. But the US?

Seems a good enough reason

Even a fair and accurate analysis of current political life:

Sir Tony Robinson, the actor and a former member of Labour’s ruling body, has quit the party after 45 years over Jeremy Corbyn’s leadership, anti-Semitism and Brexit.

Sir Tony, best known for playing Baldrick in the hit comedy Blackadder and as presenter of Channel 4 programme Time Team, is a former vice-president of actors’ union Equity and served on the NEC from 2000-04.

He tweeted: “I’ve left the Labour Party after nearly 45 years of service at Branch, Constituency and NEC levels, partly because of its continued duplicity on Brexit, partly because of its antisemitism, but also because its leadership is complete s—.”

Maybe Bobbie, maybe

Donald Trump is the living embodiment of the seven deadly sins – pride, greed, lust, gluttony, wrath, envy and sloth – and he is the precise obverse of the seven virtues as enunciated by Pope Gregory in 590 AD: chastity, temperance, charity, diligence, patience, kindness and humility.

Well now, can we run Bill and Hill past those same two lists? JFK and Teddy maybe?

Jeez, they’re desperate, aren’t they?

Now we know why. For the Mueller report is packed with damning proof that Trump and his team cheered on the “sweeping and systematic” Russian attempt to sway the 2016 presidential election, that they expected to “benefit electorally from information stolen and released through Russian efforts”, that they actively planned campaign strategy around each new release of emails hacked from Democrat headquarters by Russian intelligence, emails helpfully funnelled through WikiLeaks. (Mueller has the documents that show Julian Assange telling his acolytes as early as November 2015 that “we believe it would be much better for GOP [the Republicans] to win”.)

What’s more, Trump folk including the candidate’s eldest son met a Kremlin emissary promising dirt on Hillary Clinton; a Trump aide tried to establish a back channel to Vladimir Putin’s government; and all the while, the Trump campaign denied there was any Russian effort to meddle in US democracy. Still, none of this rose to the level of a crime for Mueller because “collusion is not a specific offense … nor is it a term of art in federal criminal law”. Mueller chose instead to set the bar so high that it was bound to be out of reach: he needed to see proof of an actual “agreement” between Trump and the Kremlin to break the law to fix the 2016 election. Absent that, Trump was off the hook of criminal misconduct.

Cheering on someone dishing your enemies is to be made a crime now is it?

And where does that leave Hillary who originally commissioned the report about the pee pee tape?

Freedland’s actual complaint being just because Trump didn’t break any laws doesn’t mean we can’t find him guilty.

Quite amazing

Peru’s former president Alan García has died after deliberately shooting himself in the head when police tried to arrest him in connection with a multibillion-dollar Latin American corruption scandal.

“I am saddened by the death of former president Alan García,” tweeted the country’s current president, Martín Vizcarra, confirming the news. “I send my condolences to his family and loved ones.”

Earlier, García’s lawyer, Erasmo Reyna, told local media his client “took the decision to shoot himself” early on Wednesday after officers arrived at his home in the capital, Lima, to place him under preventive detention.

Peru’s interior minister, Carlos Morán, told journalists García had told police officers he was going to call his lawyer and had “shut himself in his bedroom” before a shot was heard.

The 69-year-old politician – who faced accusations of taking bribes from the Brazilian construction giant Odebrecht during his 2006-2011 presidency – was admitted to a nearby hospital soon after, at about 6.45am, suffering from a gunshot wound to the head.

Before his death was confirmed Peru’s health minister, Zulema Tomás, told reporters García was in a “very serious” condition and had suffered three heart attacks from which he had been resuscitated. A 27-strong medical team, including neurosurgeons and intensive care specialists, was fighting to save the former president’s life.

Gun, head, self, not instant. But, you know, efficiency of politicians and all that.

Modern politics

Anyone desire a clue as to why a country run by politics and politicians is so shit?

I’ve just received an election leaflet from one candidate complaining about the Community Charge going up. Community Charge was abolished in 1993.

jgh in comments earlier.

We might be getting a clue here

Why are so many millionaires campaigning against millionaires?

One of the interesting things about this mania for dropping tax returns among the Democratic runners is how many of them are part of that 1% they so rail against. Bernie Sanders, Elizabeth Warren, Kamala Harris, they’re all there, securely in the top 1% of family or household incomes for the US. They all also rail against the incomes and inequality of the one percent which must take a certain amount of mental contortion.

Sure, there are several arguments that could be used to justify all of this. Perhaps such tribunes of the people – they’re all currently in the Senate – should be in that top 1%. Why shouldn’t those selflessly devoting themselves to the public good be well rewarded?

Another thought could be that if you can’t rip off $500k a year from senior office in a nation as rich as the US then you’ve not got the financial nous to run for dogcatcher.

It is also possible to make a rather more serious point about this more general whinge about inequality. It’s as it is in the UK, it’s not about the 1% and 99% at all. Which, given that the inequality gap here hasn’t changed much over recent decades seems fair. Rather, it’s about the inequality gap between the 0.9% and the 0.1%.

Something I don’t know but would like to

So, it takes a couple of years to run for major office in the US. Maybe not House, but Senate and Presidency, obviously so.

You’re not going to hold down a paying, wage slave, job while doing so. Not unless you’re already in the political system at some level.

So, can your own campaign funds pay you?

If not, how does someone running pay the mortgage etc? Because not everyone who does run is independently wealthy….

Yes, there’s more

Yes, I don’t disagree with the evidently worthy theory behind what you say, but your answers are just far too glib and simplistic. To take your example, landlords back then did not routinely charge “high” (sic) rents – we have a complete family record going back, in detail, to at least 1750 demonstrating that for instance – and in any event you are manifestly confusing tenant farmers on the one hand with farm workers on the other. And tenant farmers, too, who certainly cannot be categorised as rich for the most part and couldn’t back then, also need to make at least a modest profit for living and reinvestment purposes – and to be able to employ others, on fair and secure terms, of course. And to take care of that a decent and sliding scale tax system is and has always been by far the fairest way of ‘penalising’ the genuine robber barons in this country – not that the Tories have ever done that! – not just flooding the country with cheap grain etc. from abroad and thereby ruining a myriad farm etc. businesses of varying sizes and types, rendering environmental controls and support unaffordable and enriching infinitely bigger robber barons from the vast US and Canadian plains into the bargain. Great – I don’t think!
As for your “classical liberals”, well they cannot ever have done that much good over here – far too much of the old Whigs! – or else the Labour Party, the Co-op Movement and the Trade Unions would never have become the huge force it collectively did from the late 19th./early 20th. C. onwards. What is really disgraceful, however, is that all of your flagrant ‘bank/gster’ pals and their apologists like Farage, Minford et al. have managed to distract the entire British public (aided and abetted by that total posh-boy p.r. dimwit Tory Cameron!) into focussing exclusively on ‘Brexit’ for the past ‘x’ years non-stop whilst conveniently ignoring their own blatant role in the massive ruin and inequality of the UK of today, the fact that child etc. poverty (even according to the UN) has never been so high, that careers are now ‘gone’, the effects of ‘AI’ and atmospheric poisoning, etc. etc. And quite how all those afflicted people in the northern Labour heartlands of England can possibly think they will be better off without EU-ordained Regional Development Grants and relying on a Tory Government dispensing ‘largesse’ to them instead totally beats me! Dream on!! In any event, your modern-day “classical liberals” are now 100% synonymous with the neo-cons, sadly – e.g. focussing on the external so-called enemy Russia for the past 2-3 years non-stop again by way of covering up their own elitist, wilfully unequal and thoroughly corrupt and self-serving domestic policies and in the UK, as well as the US, too. What a supremely myopic, navel-gazing and typically insular (not to mention flagrantly xenophobic and racist) exercise ‘Brexit’ truly is: Orwell saw these periodic English (not British) paroxysms all too clearly, years ago, and thank God both Attlee and Thatcher of all people quoting him in support (both far more intelligent that our current ‘lot’) firmly ruled out referenda or ‘plebiscites’ in a representative parliamentary democracy such as ours many years ago as just a polite euphemism for ‘mob rule’. But then they both recalled Hitler (+ Goebbels) and his use of them as tools of propaganda and intimidation only too well………….!! I bet you that the English would vote to bring back hanging – and even, as a spectacle, public beheadings – given a referendum on those indeed!! And how much more complicated was the hugely multi-faceted ‘Brexit’ than that – as anyone even half ‘in the know’ like me (40+ years of EU Law) knew in a heartbeat whilst being afflicted by the wilful and grossly simplistic lies of Johnson, Farage, Gove et al. aided and abetted by all those shameful idiots and worse in our cowed and nowadays lazy and pig-ignorant mainstream media not excluding the increasingly Tory Party-/MI6-driven BBC indeed?!? Anyway, repeated surveys showed that the EU didn’t even feature with the public as a top 10 concern in the 2 GEs before Cameron went on his ludicrous Tory-promoting and anti-UKIP ‘frolic’; now, however, there appears to be no parliamentary bandwith for anything else however pressing. VERY damaging and dangerous!!

Must bring this exchange firmly to a halt now…………..!!!!