What, actually, does “Beloved” mean?

Why is beloved Joe Biden trying to squash a progressive debate?
Everybody loves Uncle Joe! But he wants to shut down the debate on Universal Basic Income with stern Dad politics

I think with respect to Joe Biden, that “beloved” means yes, sure, he’s an idiot but he’s our idiot, OK?

A slimmer and less articulate version of John Prescott perhaps.

Polly’s logic leap

Does money succeed in buying elections? This research suggests that it matters more than ever, with fewer doorstep volunteers. In both 2015 and 2017 it’s hard to imagine that the millions spent on relatively few voters didn’t swing the result. Many seats were won by low margins: Gower in south Wales relied on a swing of just 0.04%. In 2017, 10 constituencies were won by under 100 votes and 52 seats were won by under 1,000. Big money almost certainly “bought” key seats – critical to the result in 2017. The report calls for state funding of parties: rewarding mega-donors with “honours” has for years poisoned voter trust in politics.

Both the forensic detail and the broad thrust of this report make an undeniable case for urgent reform. It raises the great underlying electoral issue: the incentive to cheat will be propelled by the first-past-the-post system for as long as a handful of marginal voters, often as few as 200,000, decide the whole country’s fate. A proportional system would see every vote weighed equally, each as valuable as the next, no “safe” seats, no marginals. The only good lesson of the otherwise dismally fought referendum campaign was a reminder of the fairness in valuing each vote everywhere the same. When every vote mattered, more people came out to vote.

The leap being to assume that a PR system reduces election expenses or the ability to purchase the election. Where every vote has to be scrapped over nationally I’m not entirely sure that that would be the case to be honest.

There’s something that puzzles me about this Facebook, Russia and the election advertising thing

On Wednesday, Facebook revealed that hundreds of Russia-based accounts had run anti-Hillary Clinton ads precisely aimed at Facebook users whose demographic profiles implied a vulnerability to political propaganda. It will take time to prove whether the account owners had any relationship with the Russian government, but one thing is clear: Facebook has contributed to, and profited from, the erosion of democratic norms in the United States and elsewhere.

The audacity of a hostile foreign power trying to influence American voters rightly troubles us. But it should trouble us more that Facebook makes such manipulation so easy, and renders political ads exempt from the basic accountability and transparency that healthy democracy demands.

Americans are worrying about this, yes?

The U.S. has a long history of attempting to influence presidential elections in other countries – it’s done so as many as 81 times between 1946 and 2000, according to a database amassed by political scientist Dov Levin of Carnegie Mellon University.

That number doesn’t include military coups and regime change efforts following the election of candidates the U.S. didn’t like, notably those in Iran, Guatemala and Chile. Nor does it include general assistance with the electoral process, such as election monitoring.

Levin defines intervention as “a costly act which is designed to determine the election results [in favor of] one of the two sides.” These acts, carried out in secret two-thirds of the time, include funding the election campaigns of specific parties, disseminating misinformation or propaganda, training locals of only one side in various campaigning or get-out-the-vote techniques, helping one side design their campaign materials, making public pronouncements or threats in favor of or against a candidate, and providing or withdrawing foreign aid.

The Americans are complaining, yes?

From the Guardian

The demagogue is indispensable to any socialist movement if its members are to be inspired and held firm to their commitment to take to the streets and spill blood. Socialism does not arise from rational sources. It does not require rational argument to sustain its followers. Socialists are deaf to reason. They sneer at reasonable argument. It is the role of the demagogue to arouse and direct their rage towards the scapegoat, most commonly the class Other.

FTFY

Quite bloody right too

The committee recommended radical changes to the law before the next election, with the UK languishing at 40th in the world for female representation, though up eight places since the 8 June poll.

However, the government has rejected all six of the committee’s proposals, including any legislation to force parties to have a minimum proportion of 45% female parliamentary candidates in general elections, with the option to consider fines if targets were not met.

It’s the voters who get to decide who the MPs are. If that ends up being 100% Xes then so be it, it’s their choice, no one elses’.

Ain’t democracy a bitch, eh?

Please, Theresa May, for the sake of our country’s future, sack Boris Johnson. His continued presence as foreign secretary is a national humiliation. The influence of a leftwing Guardian columnist over the prime minister is, to put it mildly, rather limited. It is up to Conservative members and supporters to come to the conclusion that Johnson’s continued tenure as Britain’s representative to the wider world is a risk to the future of this country.

Owen doesn’t like him.

May knew the score and only appointed him as foreign secretary to manage the internal schism of her chronically divided party.

Ah, some number of other people do. Democracy sure is a bitch. And do note that this is the Owen Jones who thinks that the economy should be more democratised. Although perhaps he’s got some plan to make sure that people only get to vote for people or policies which he approves of?

43% of young Germans are mad

Merkel’s relatively open stance on refugees has also helped to convince left-leaning and young voters that the country is in good hands: an extraordinary 57% of 18-21 year olds prefer the conservative Merkel to Schulz as chancellor.

Yeah, I know it’s Merkel, and sure, the young can and possibly should be left wing. But 43% prefer sodding Schulzie?

Owen Jones surpasses himself

They pour the petrol and then wonder why it burns. Fascism is on the rise in the west, and it is emboldened, legitimised and fuelled by “mainstream” politicians and newspapers. When we mourn a hero like Bernard Kenny – who courageously tried to stop a fascist terrorist murdering Jo Cox – we have to ask ourselves: who are those with power and influence who helped create the conditions in which racists and fascists breed?

“Cannot believe we’re seeing Nazi salutes in 21st century America,” tweets Nigel Farage about Charlottesville, dragging a can of petrol behind him. Perhaps next the chief executive of a fast-food company will express disbelief at levels of obesity; or a tobacco company will issue a press release spluttering about lung cancer deaths. Farage: the man who stood, arms outstretched, in front of a poster featuring dark-skinned refugees and the words “Breaking Point”. Farage: the man who expressed his “concern” at having Romanians move in next door, and made apocalyptic warnings of Romanians and Bulgarians flooding Britain. Farage: the man who cheered on the ascendancy of Donald Trump, a US president whose most fervent supporters are now triumphantly chanting “Heil Trump!” as they menace minorities and progressives.

But Farage is the easy target. Across the western world a media and political elite scapegoats migrants for the crimes of the powerful, portrays Muslims as a homogeneous violent fifth column,

Of course, I, Owen Jones, aren’t portraying all those to the right of me as being the same knuckle dragging fascist goons, oh dearie me, no.

This sounds reasonable

Some fellow Republicans criticized Donald Trump’s remarks on Tuesday, in which he returned to blaming “both sides” for the deadly violence in Charlottesville, Virginia, while others instead broadly denounced bigotry, signs of a possible rift among elected Republicans.

No elected officials went so far as to defend Trump outright after his comments, including his insistence that some of those participating in a “Unite the Right” protest against the removal of a statue of Robert E Lee in Charlottesville were not neo-Nazis or white supremacists.

If they’re trying to unite the right then one would rather assume that they’re trying to unite different factions, racists, neo-Nazis, white supremacists and other groupuscules on the right as well. Unite the left does mean that all from social democrats through to the Stalinists, doesn’t it?

Charlie Dent of Pennsylvania, the leader of the moderate Tuesday group who also didn’t back Trump in 2016, shared this criticism. He tweeted “@POTUS must stop the moral equivalency! AGAIN, white supremacists were to blame for the violence in #Charlottesville.”

Actually, as far as I’ve seen at least, the car incident was the result of someone with rather more issues that just being a fascist activist – which he also appears to have been – :

Fields, according to records from the Florence Police Department in Kentucky, was previously accused of beating his mother and threatening her with a knife in 2011. The mother, Samantha Bloom, who is disabled and uses a wheelchair, told police he stood behind her wielding a 12-inch knife.

Bloom said that in another incident in 2010, Fields smacked her in the head and locked her in the bathroom after she told him to stop playing video games. Bloom told officers Fields was on medication to control his temper.

My initial, and near entirely uninformed of course, thought would be nutter who has found a cause rather than the other way around. We also have reasonably good evidence that the vast majority there were not in fact murderous. There were, as many have noted, rather a lot of guns around and so far at least I’ve not heard about any gunfire and certainly not of any gunfire injuries.

Yes, of course neo-Nazis are pinheads but heavily armed idiots not opening fire does tell us something.

Trump is from New York

Trump’s radio silence over the killing of Heather Heyer, allegedly by white supremacist James Alex Fields, is no accident. There are those with links to the far-right on his own team, including Steve Bannon and Sebastian Gorka. His entire movement relies on energising racism, not suppressing it. It was after all New Yorker Carl Paladino who said Michelle Obama should “return to being a male and let loose in the outback of Zimbabwe where she lives comfortably in a cave with Maxie, the gorilla”.

Therefore Trump is responsible for what some pinhead New Yorker says.

Fortunately we’ve a trained music teacher to point it all out to us.

Note that this is the Tory Party here

The Tories will lose the next election if they back “unbridled capitalism” and refuse to tax wealth to help the “struggling many”, one of Theresa May’s former advisers has warned.

Higher tax on sales of expensive homes, more rights for workers and curbs on immigration should all be backed by the Tories if they are to reach the voters who feel abandoned by globalisation, according to Will Tanner, the former deputy head of May’s policy unit.

Sigh.

Looks like that long march through the institutions has got a long way…..

Black footie bags here we come

Venezuela’s president has accused the company that provides the technological platform for the country’s voting system of bowing to US pressure after it said the official turnout figure in Sunday’s vote had been manipulated by at least a million votes.

Nicolás Maduro stood by the official count of more than 8m votes and said an additional 2 million people would have voted if they had not been blocked by opposition protesters. “That stupid guy, the president of Smartmatic, pressured to the neck by the gringos and the Brits, said there were 7.5 million [voters],” Maduro said in televised remarks. “I think there were 10 million Venezuelans who went out.”

Antonio Mugica, the chief executive of London-based Smartmatic, had said on Wednesday that results recorded by the company’s systems show “without any doubt” that the official turnout figure was tampered with.

Maduro provided no evidence to support his claim, but his remarks were received with resounding applause from a meeting of about 500 people elected to the assembly on Sunday.

One of these things is not like the other

A rough inventory of July’s contribution to the global collapse of democracy would include Turkey’s show trial of leading journalists from Cumhuriyet, a major newspaper; Vladimir Putin’s ban on the virtual private networks used by democracy activists to evade censorship; Apple’s decision to pull the selfsame technology from its Chinese app store.

Then there is Hungary’s government-funded poster campaign depicting opposition parties and NGOs as puppets of Jewish billionaire George Soros; Poland’s evisceration of judicial independence and the presidential veto that stopped it. Plus Venezuela’s constituent assembly poll, boycotted by more than half the population amid incipient civil war.

Overshadowing all this is a three-cornered US constitutional face-off between Trump (accused of links with Russia), his attorney general (who barred himself from investigating the Russian links) and the special prosecutor who is investigating Trump, whom Trump is trying to sack.

Let’s be brutal: democracy is dying.

One of those is really quite different – and yes, it’s the one about Trump. He may be many of the things that people accuse him of. But he’s not in fact anti-democratic.

That worked out well then

Anthony Scaramucciwas removed as Donald Trump’s communications director on Monday, ending a tumultuous eleven days in the role.

The president made the decision following a request from John Kelly, the new White House chief of staff, who insiders said wanted to make clear he was in charge.

“A great day at the White House!” Mr Trump tweeted.

So, the bloke sold his business and got divorced to take the job then lasts 11 days.

Because all politicians are righteously drowned in vitriol

Why is drowning in vitriol the price women pay for being in politics?
Suzanne Moore

Another in our ever popular series “Questions in The Guardian We Can Answer”

Politicians, by definition, set themselves up as the people who both know, and desire the power, to tell us how to live our lives. Why wouldn’t we despise them?

Seriously, why wouldn’t we have a certain expressed distaste for those who take 40% of everything we do in exchange for diversity advisers?

My word, isn’t this a surprise?

The pressure on Theresa May’s fragile leadership grew last night after she was reportedly described as “dead in the water” by a former Tory Cabinet minister.

Former chief whip Andrew Mitchell is claimed to have said at a private dinner that the Prime Minister “couldn’t go on”, adding she had “lost her authority” and was “weak”.

The serving MP is alleged to have made the comments on June 26, the day Mrs May struck a deal with the DUP to prop up her minority administration in Parliament.

Published in the Evening Standard where the guy sacked by May as Chancellor, one G. Osborne, is editor.