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Monday, 17 November 2014

Now Ebola.


Why should anyone take Bono and Geldof seriously? This is the same pair who, in 2005, claimed that the G7 had wiped away the debts of Africa. As if the West would ever allow that continent to start over. In actuality the G7 had agreed to takeover the repayments of $55 billion (out of Africa's collective debt of $295 billion) to the IMF, the World Bank and the African Development Bank. By the way Africa had already paid $550 billion in repayments from 1970 to 2002. Nearly a decade on and Africa is still weighed down with debt.

Sunday, 16 November 2014

The fourth party is a fourth problem.


The meteoric rise of UKIP and its charismatic leading man has been an irresistable subject for the British press and its insatiable desire for spectacle. It must be the fag in Nigel's hand, the twinkle in his eye, the mischevious grin, the accent of deepest, darkest Kent... Yet the full picture demonstrates quite well that the key to UKIP's success is in the mainstream.

It was only a few months ago that UKIP candidate Roger Helmer was easily defeated by mainstream candidates. It isn’t insignificant that it took an establishment candidate to secure the Party’s presence in Parliament. Douglas Carswell still stands as the kind of man UKIP sucks up in vast quantities. He stands opposed to universal healthcare and regulations on private enterprise. He wrote the Plan with fellow-traveling libertarian Daniel Hannan. It’s a free-market hymnbook for decentralisation and deregulation.

This is consistent with the reality of Farage’s success. The leap from 13 MEPs to 24 MEPs took five years, but the European elections only draw out 33.8% of the electorate. That’s half of the usual turnout in UK general elections. The entrance points are to be found in the weak spots of the Westminster consensus. Under these conditions the fringe parties can have greater influence.

UKIP gained 27.5% of the vote and outmatched Labour by a little over 2%. So that’s about 9.3% of the electorate. The Conservatives lost 4% of the vote, just as the Lib Dems lost 6% and were overtaken by the Greens at 8%. The vote for the BNP fell by 7%. Against this backdrop, it’s easy to see why UKIP bolstered its vote by over 10%. If you take the local elections, the Farage party lost 5% of the vote, but picked up 160 seats and gained no councils.

See the rest of this article at Souciant.

Saturday, 15 November 2014

To the new Clinton time.



As the race towards 2016 will soon be upon us the Democrat still seem likely to pick Hillary Clinton and no other contender on the Republican side seems to match her for reputation. The Clintons have a record and we should take a look back critically if we are to correctly perceive the next Clinton administration. Here's an excerpt from The Golden Age Is In Us (1995) of a piece written by Alexander Cockburn and Andrew Kopkind.

It's difficult to convey the feel of the Clinton culture. Like the Kennedy culture thirty years ago, it is a stir-fry of blatant self-promotion, unexamined idealism, cynical sophistication, suspect intellectual certainty and an arrogant race and class snobbery that can be oppressive to those without the necessary credentials. It comes on as hip and liberal, but it panders to the right (Clinton's embrace of the death penalty) and abhors any person or movement to its left. It is suffused with a gestural sentimentality about racial harmony, but its commitment is to white privilege. Its adherents protested the Vietnam war, if they were old enough, but they hold no internationalist values and, like Clinton, are ever-willing to sacrifice principle to 'political viability within the system'.

In many ways, Bonnie Greer was right to suggest that there has already been a second Clinton administration under Barack Obama. He has proven to be adept at triangulation as he has presented the Affordable Care Act as a progressive step towards universal coverage. Actually it shares a lot in common with the GOP alternatives to the Clinton proposal of the 1990s. The Obama administration has been even more hawkish than its predecessor as its foreign policy takes the form of reverberations on the Bush doctrine. And Hillary Clinton has played a significant part in it as Secretary of Defense.


We can expect not merely more of the same, but much worse. No end to drone strikes, or the NSA surveillance state, let alone the national security state. The reoccupation of Iraq seems well under way with airstrikes against Syria to boot. Given that she is even more hawkish than Obama and wanted to attack Syria over a year ago. That would have likely put ISIS in an even stronger position than they are in today. What more should we expect from the Democratic Party?