Saturday, December 22, 2007

Blair Derangement Syndrome - An example from A.C. Grayling

Jeff Weintraub: Blair Derangement Syndrome - An example from A.C. Grayling:
"Here in the US we have had to contend for a decade and a half with the peculiar phenomenon of Clinton Derangement Syndrome--a pervasive, almost obsessive hatred of Bill & Hillary Clinton that seems to have infected large numbers of people toward the right side of the political spectrum (and not only them). That's not to deny that people might have good reasons to disagree with either or both of the Clintons, or even dislike them. But in a great many cases the intensity of this hatred is not just irrational but, I must confess, inexplicable. Of course, the fact that CDS is irrational and often outright delusional (here is one especially ludicrous recent example) does not prevent it from beng a significant social fact that has had a real impact on US politics and may do so again.

Over in Great Britain, the equivalent phenomenon among wide swathes of the intelligentsia and sectors of the educated middle classes more generally is Blair Derangement Syndrome."
Read the rest.

Lots of good stuff

Lots of good stuff at the New Centrist lately. Check out: Striking guest workers in Jordan, Bangladeshi Muslim stepping up against antisemitism (story from Moderate Voice), Jihadi Rehab, Samuel Gompers' birthday.

Thursday, December 20, 2007

John Pilger on my dartboard

Flesh is Grass writes:
Lily Allen is allowed down - she’s not in the same league as this disgrace of a person.

Anti-Zionism and Antisemitism Cosmopolitan Reflections

30 January 2008

G2 SOAS, 7.00pm
Followed by a reception

Les Back, Professor of Sociology, Goldsmiths, University of London
Anthony Julius, Visiting Professor of Literature, Birkbeck, University of London
Jon Pike, Senior Lecturer in Philosophy, Open University
David Hirsh, Lecturer in Sociology, Goldsmiths, University of London

Chaired by Charles Small, Director of YIISA and editor of the Working Paper series

Responses to:

Working Paper #1, Yale Initiative for the Interdisciplinary Study of Antisemitism (YIISA)
The Yale Initiative for the Interdisciplinary Study of Antisemitism

Tickets are strictly limited. Email

Co-hosted with the Unit for Global Justice by the Centre for Jewish Studies at SOAS and YIISA.

Rush, Hillary and Mitt

A guest post by Jogo

Well, maybe he is not stupider than many others, but when you have his media power you can say stupid things very loudly, and without contradiction. And be read and heard by millions.

Rush Limbaugh is a moron.

Of all the things I have against Hillary Clinton, the fact that she is an aging woman is not one of them.

Actually, Limbaugh may in fact be correct in his premise. But he should use his power to elevate the conversation, not to make it even more stupid.

Why are Rush Limbaugh, Karl Lagerfeld and Liza Minelli alive, while Townes van Zandt, Eva Cassidy and Gram Parsons are not?

There is no God, this should be obvious. We're on our own.


PS: Isn't Mitt Romney FABULOUS looking?

Critical Secularism: A Reintroduction for Perilous Times

Critical Secularism: A Reintroduction for Perilous Times(pdf)
An essay by Aamir Mufti on Edward Said's "secular criticism". Interesting.

Tuesday, December 18, 2007

Ike Turner

Ike Turner was obviously not a nice human being, but what a musician! Jeff Weintraub has a perfectly pitched post about him, and MISB has four fantastic mp3s by Ike and Tina Turner. (I knew Nina Simone’s version of “Funkier Than A Mosquita's Tweeter” but didn’t know the Ike & Tina version).

Bob's beats genre keywords: soul, black music
Bob's beats artist keywords: Ike Turner, Nina Simone

Saturday, December 15, 2007

The best music of 2007

Here is part I of the official Bob From Brockley best albums of 2007. To be completely honest, there's only some of them I've heard all the way through - lots are ones I've heard bits of on the radio or via sundry downloads and streams. I'm planning to buy a bunch of them when I have time off work over the winterval.

4Hero Play With The Changes. Their warmly organic electronic music is sublime when at its best. They often work with great female soul vocalists, but their textured music lifts these singers to levels they often don’t reach in the dreadful world of contemporary soul music. Highlights: “Awakening” (featuring the wonderful Ursula Rucker), “Bed Of Roses” (featuring Jody Watley), “Morning Child” (featuring Carina Andersson). 4Hero’s remix of Nu Yorican Soul’s “Black Gold of the Sun” is part of the soundtrack to my life, and they are a great band for both remixing and being remixed; witness “Morning Child”, versioned by Massive Attack’s Daddy G among others. Analog Giant has another version, and sez: Get Playing with the Changes here. Check out more remixes like from Daddy G (of Massive Attack) here. Listen to tracks off the single here.

The Soundtrack of I'm Not There. I haven’t seen the film yet, but it sounds fascinating, and the soundtrack really makes you listen to Dylan’s music by reinterpreting it quite radically. The really stand-out track, by a mile, is “Knockin’ on Heaven’s Door”, a song whose covers (Clapton’s, Guns N Roses’) have become classics too, a song which you hear so many times it has been neutralised and rendered banal, like the Beatles’ songs have. Here, Anthony and the Johnsons really make you listen to it afresh, in their heart-rendingly beautiful version. Download the track at mp7. Other good tracks are "Señor (Tales of Yankee Power)" by Willie Nelson and Calexico, "One More Cup of Coffee" by Roger McGuinn and Calexico, “Just Like A Woman” by Charlotte Gainsborough and Calexico, "As I Went Out One Morning" by Mira Billotte and "Ballad of a Thin Man" by Stephen Malkmus and the Million Dollar Bashers. Yes, Calexico are one of my current favourite bands. There are also some weak tracks, like Malkmus’ “Maggie’s Farm” and Karen O’s “Highway 61”.

Herbie Hancock River: The Joni Letters/Joni Mitchell Shine. I haven’t heard these, just a few tracks that I’ve downloaded, so if anyone wants to get them for me for Christmas, feel free. River is a tribute to Joni Mitchell. What I like about it is that it’s not a tribute in the sense of a set of covers, but in the sense of being inspired by her, and thinking about music differently because of her. Unsurprisingly, been Grammy nominated, as it has the “serious, quality” aura that wins awards, that often turns me off music. And Hancock is too slick a fellow for me to really dig him, but he’s a great musician. The track I listen to a lot is the quirky spoken word “The Jungle Line” (featuring Leonard Cohen). Shine is, as far as I can tell, as good as anything Joni Mitchell has done in the last three decades. The title track is fantastic. A Tribute to Joni Mitchell was also released this year, with tracks by interesting artists like Caetano Veloso, Sufjian Stevens, and Cassandra Wilson. Audioblog links: Hero Hill: The River and the Harlem Experiment; Mainstream isn’t so bad (including “The Jungle Line”); Modern Music; Blog Critics, Shameless Complacency. Visit Herbie’s website, his label Verve Records, become his friend on MySpace, and buy the record at

Endless Highway: A Tribute to the Music of The Band. Another tribute thing. This features the Allman Brothers doing “The night they drove Ol’ Dixie Down” – how more perfect does it get than that? (mp3 from Born by the River). Otherwsie, the project is a bit too indie rock for me. Audioblog links: The Rich Girls Are Weeping (spot-on review), The Late Greats. Stream at the album’s website.

Merle Haggard Working Man’s Journey/Bluegrass Sessions. In Working Man’s Journey, one of my favourite country singers revisits his back catalogue, stripped of some of the gimmicky schmaltz that sugarcoated the more well-known versions. “Kern River”, “Are the Good Times Really Over For Good?” and “Workin' Man Blues” are my favourites. In Bluegrass Sessions, he makes a foray into old school bluegrass – but it isn’t bluegrass enough for the Grammy committee. Again, I’ve not heard the whole albums, just downloaded some tracks. Download great play lists including Haggard at Nine Bullets, Radio KGB, This recording, Good Bad and Unknown, Lonesome Music and Blogcritics.

Beastie Boys The Mix Up. The incomparable Beastie Boys purely instrumental. Over the years, as the Beasties “mature”, their instrumental tracks have become their strongest feature, so this is a treat for people like me who love the Beasties but can only listen to so much rap in one go. Great dub track “Electric Worm” and jazz-funk “Freaky Hijiki”. Stream at Brooklyn Vegan, buy from

Bettye Lavette Scene of the Crime. Betty LaVette truly is the Great Lady of Soul. How come I’d never heard of her before this year? I’m ashamed. The year has seen her being cool by pairing up with the Drive-By Truckers, a so-so Americana/rock outfit, who she way outclasses, but works well with. Actually, though, the track by her from 2007 which I really love is her version of Bruce Springsteen’s beautiful “Streets of Philadelphia” (which was itself the best thing about the dire film Philadelphia) on Song Of America. Audioblog links: Stereogum, KEXP, Large-Hearted Boy, KGB, Snuh, Brooklyn Vegan. Visit Bettye’s webpage, be her friend at MySpace, buy Scene of the Crime on

Devendra Banhart Smokey Rolls Down Thunder Canyon. Banhart is a complete nutter, and some of his music is unlistenable, but I love it when he goes all whimsical in Spanish or Portuguese, and becomes the mutant child of Caetano Veloso, as in “Cristobal” or “Samba Vexillographica”.

Sharon Jones and the Dap Kings 100 Nights. I’ll leave praising this one to Andrew.

Honourable mentions: Buddy Flett Mississippi Hill, Budos Band The Budos Band II, CéU CéU, Chromatics In the City, The Cinematic Orchestra Ma Fleur, James Blood Ulmer Bad Blood In The City: The Piety Street Sessions (for the song “Katrina”), The Harlem Experiment (see here), Keren Ann Keren Ann (great version of “Hallelujah”), Levon Helm Dirt Farmer (Favourite track: False Hearted Lover Blues. Bob links: Richard Manuel, Three Burials), Mary Chapin Carpenter The Calling, Radio Scotvoid Fae Ecosse, Spanish Harlem Orchestra United We Swing.

Look out for a second instalment of this feature before the end of 2007, featuring Mavis Staples, Oi Va Voi, Porter Wagoner and more!!

Bob's beats genre keywords: jazz, country music, hip hop, rock, soul, electronica,
Bob's beats artist keywords: Bob Dylan, Merle Haggard, Sharon Jones, Levon Helm

Thursday, December 13, 2007

The lobby with REAL power

The Bald-Headed Geek asks:"With all of the obsessive focus on the 'power of the Israel Lobby', it's fascinating to me how no one at all talks about the Saudi Lobby?" An excellent question.

More from Noga.

How many social anarchists does it take to change a lightbulb?

Shagya Blog has posted a number of politico jokes, mostly lightbulb ones. Check em out.

Angela Carter/Sarf London

Sarf London « Someday I Will Treat You Good

Great Angela Carter quote. Any of my US/elsewhere readers wonder what my neighbourhood (or my manor, as we like to say) is like, read it!

Wednesday, December 12, 2007

ignoblus, for the moment

A new blog for your edification: ignoblus, for the moment

I came across ignoblus on newsvine, but couldn't quite get newsvine (just like I can't quite get LiveJournal). I liked his posts there, and so am glad he is now in my part of the world wide web. Read ignoblus on: double bind antisemitism, the Martin Amis affair, and hate speech on newsvine.

Mini Me

A huge thank you to Lewisham Kate for creating this charming image of Bob From Brockley. Uncannily accurate. Here are the rest of the Lewisham bloggers.

Wednesday, December 05, 2007

Booze for Jews, South London

I'm feeling dead guilty, as I thought I had done this weeks ago, and looking back I realise I haven't, and have now left it until rather late. As the premier web-based news outlet focusing on both South London and Jewish issues, I have been asked to publicise the BOOZE FOR JEWS event at the Honor Oak THIS THURSDAY (which I suddenly realise is TOMORROW), which I'm hoping to go to. Here is the whole of the finely crafted press release:

An evening full of light, latkas and laughter with Bromley Reform Synagogue's ‘Southwark Triangle Group’. It will give Jews living in south east London the chance to meet informally to socialise, light Chanukah candles and sing Ma’oz Tsur.

Anyone is welcome whether you’re single, in a Jewish couple, have a non-Jewish partner or have a genuine interest in Judaism. The more the merrier!

For more details contact Harriet Posner at

A group of 20 and 30-somethings from Bromley Reform Synagogue have taken it upon themselves to flout the recent ‘lighting-up’ legislation and are arranging a Chanukah candle lighting and socialising evening on Thursday 6th December. It will be the only time you will be able to legitimately light up in a pub this winter.

The evening is the first of its kind arranged by the ‘Southwark Triangle Group’ from Bromley Reform Synagogue. It is aptly named Chanukah Booze for Jews and will take place from 8pm – 10.30pm on Thursday 6th December at the Honor Oak pub, 1 St. German’s Road, SE23. It will give Jews living in south east London the chance to meet informally to socialise, light Chanukah candles and sing Mo’az Tsur.

One of the organisers, Harriet Posner, says, “The event came about as a result of a local night out when we heard about the number of Jews in their 20s and 30s that reportedly live in the Southwark Triangle (Lewisham, Southwark and Lambeth). We thought Chanukah would be a perfect excuse to meet and get together with some fellow South-London Jews outside the usual synagogue setting, regardless of which borough they live in. Who knows, it could be the start of a Jewish social calendar to rival that of our North London neighbours!”

Rabbi Tony Hammond will be attending the event, not only to answer any questions about the Synagogue, but also help with distributing (and eating) valuable chocolate Chanukah gelt. Rabbi Hammond says, “I’m delighted that there are so many Jews in the surrounding area. I’m looking forward to having an informal setting in which to celebrate one of our traditions and to meet some of the local younger members of the Jewish community.”

We’d like to encourage everyone to join us for what we hope will be an evening full of light, latkas and laughter. Anyone is welcome whether you’re single, in a Jewish couple, have a non-Jewish partner or have a genuine interest in Judaism. The more the merrier at Chanukah Booze for Jews!


Meanwhile, the newly formed London Jewish Humanists Group is organising a humanist Hanukkah Seder, this Saturday (8 December 2007) 19:30 - 23:00 at Dizengoff Israeli Kosher Restaurant Golders Green. Phone 07921816101 for more information.

Bromley Reform shul, by the way, have been in the news recently with this moving and interesting case:
A black Jewish family from South London have been forced to delay their aliyah because of unexplained stonewalling by the Israeli authorities.

Carl and Maleka Levy — Reform converts to Judaism from Rastafarianism — had been set to begin a new life with their five daughters in Ashkelon three months ago.

Read the rest at the JC.


On a Hanukah tip (that's a word I really can't spell!), if you want to download some seasonal mp3s, how about: a dreidelicious podcast featuring The Klezmatics, Tom Lehrer and plenty more; Shirim's klezmer nutcracker suite, Woody Guthrie (and some Christmas stuff); Yo La Tengo; Nashville Pussy (not a family-friendly link to click!)*; Brigid Kaelin's "jewgrass" music; and some Ladino hip hop from last year.

*Evidently so family-un-friendly I failed to hyperlink, now rectified.

On attacking Iran (reposted, with the links this time), plus Lewisham blogger stuff

I totally failed to put in the two key hyperlinks on this post, to the publicansdecoy piece, making it slighly incomprehensible

publicansdecoy (who I failed to meet at the Lewisham bloggers meet-up last week, which I couldn't make) on the allegedly imminent US attack on Iran. Good stuff.

Also, go vote in the Arsehole of the Year contest.

Tuesday, December 04, 2007

Cosmopolitanism or nationalism?

I've been reading David Hirsh's excellent working paper on left anti-semitism (pdf here). At some point, a proper post about it. For the moment, just one thing.

Hirsh, drawing on thinkers like Robert Fine, Hannah Arendt, Hal Draper and Isaac Deutscher, talks of his analysis as a cosmopolitan one, "a framework for doing social theory which disrupts a methodologically nationalist tendency to view the division of the world into nations as being rather more fixed than it is."Fine, he writes, describes the appeal of cosmopolitanism as having to do with the idea that "human beings can belong anywhere, humanity has shared predicaments and … we find our community with others in exploring how these predicaments can be faced in common."

That's certainly a position I would endorse.


Jogo sent me this extaordinary piece on that paranoid delusional megalomaniac George Galloway, calling the police because two journalists who went to see him turned out to be agents of ZOG, the Zionist Entity (that's how he saw it). Listen to the audio clip.

Gorgeous George sets out his vision for what counts as just and understandable suicide bombing (settlers, soldiers) and what counts as unjust (pizza joints). He sees Hamas as a perfectly legitimate national liberation movement. Etc etc.

The thing I want to draw your attention to is in these passages:

Galloway explained Osama bin Laden is a terrorist since the al-Qaida chieftain, whom Galloway claimed was "armed and financed by the U.S." in the 1970s and 1980s, is a "pan-Islamic, nihilistic leader leading a nihilistic organization which seeks to bring about the collapse of national states and re-emergence of the caliphate."
Galloway stated Hamas, by contrast, is not a terror group:
"[Hamas] wants to liberate their country, which has been illegally occupied, and to reassemble their nation, which has been scattered to the four winds. That's an entirely legitimate goal," he said.

I have commented before on Galloway's racial nationalist worldview: a vision of a world divided into nation-states, each ruled by a fuhrer figure like, say, Hugo Chavez or George Galloway. This illustrates it perfectly: national(ist) movements good/global movements bad.

Galloway's nationalist methodology is of course just a slightly more extreme version of the nationally-minded "anti-imperialism" of much of the post-Cold War left: an internationalism which is not cosmopolitan but rather "inter-nationalist".

Within the Marxist left, this sort of "inter-nationalism" gets its authority from Lenin's belief in national self-determination as a fundamental right of nation-states (against Rosa Luxembourg's cosmopolitan view). There were a couple of steps from Lenin's views to Stalin's dogmatic, simplistic version of it, and then another couple of steps to Stalin's WWII embrace of Greater Russian nationalism and increasingly paranoid post-WWII obsession with the scourge of rootless cosmopolitanism. Increasingly, since the end of the Cold War, the "anti-imperialist" worldview has become even more theoretically impoverished, and able to embrace all and any reactionary movement that manages to portray itself as anti-imperialist, whether that is Milosovic's Serbian nationalism, Chavez's authoritarian nationalism or, as in this case, the theocratic-fascist Hamas.

This embrace of the nation-state as the ground for "resistance" to globalized capital, and the consequent demonisation of the figure of the cosmopolitan, serves as a common rallying point for the rococco left, Third Worldists, conservative European anti-Americans (like Jacques Chirac and Rowan Williams), and the far right . Galloway, in all the incoherence of his politics, exemplifies this convergence.


Bonus links: Judeosphere: Galloway's definition of terrorism, Revolutionary Times: Anti-imperialism and Third Worldism, Judeosphere: The anti-imperialism of fools, Flesh is Grass: Mousawi at A World Without War.

Tuesday miscellany: the Israel lobby, conspiracy theories and the left-right convergence

Two nuggets courtesy of Engage:

1. Jan Langehein of Jungle World spells out the Anti-German position for English readers in Shift magazine. Shift, now on issue 1, seems like an interesting venture, with a critical take on the "liberal hardcore" who hi-jacked the climate camp and the use of the anti-G8 movement by the far right. Looks like a similar kind of project to Three-Way Fight. [Actually, having just posted this, I notice that the Rob Augman piece on the G8 movement is the one I linked to a different version of, via Three-Way Fight, back in August.]

2. Frank Furedi on Walt and Mearsheimer: Is Israel the organ-grinder?
I have always loathed Furedi, as I've loathed all his fellow ex-RCPers, but I find myself agreeing with him a lot these days. However, after posting this, I read this by Will and thought twice about leaving it up...

Also, remaining on the theme of Israel lobby conspiracy theories, I was a bit disturbed to read Labour councillor Bob Piper, generally a sensible chap, indulge in this sort of bullshit.

Another Hugo Chavez post

I know this post is no substitute for reasoned commentary on the failure of Chavez's constitutional yes vote, but...

Two items sent in by Jogo:
"1. The Useful Idiots don't care about Los Caracas Nine.
But you might ... if you read this.

2. The Nation has lately been cautious in its writing about Chavez because they cannot quite figure out how to spin him in a truly progressive direction. Certainly you will read nothing in The Nation today anything like this fawning, triumphant shit written a year ago (from "The Land of Chavismo") by Chesa Boudin, the clone-son of homicidal maniac Kathy Boudin, herself the spawn of commie-lawyer Leonard Boudin. A veritable dynasty of wickedness."
And here is Matt Zeitlin: Chavez and history

And here are two more, Terry Glavin and Bald-Headed Geek, via Contentious Centrist.

Three for the blogroll

I am very honoured to be added to the blogroll of Greater Surbiton, a blog I strongly recommend. I half a long, half-written post responding to a couple of things on it, so I'll have to hurry up and finish them...

I also realise that I haven't yet added The Bald-Headed Geek to my link list, which I've been meaning to do for a while. I will do.

I also notice I have made Splintered Sunrise's blogroll, another link I will happliy reciprocate.

It pleases me to be linked to by bloggers from such a range of positions on the political spectrum!

Monday, December 03, 2007

London songs

WFMU's Beware of the Blog: 365 Days #337 - The London Nobody Knows (mp3s)
A couple of Sarf London ones, including Catford's own Spike Milligan, Dick Emery's "Bermondsey" and a dreadful version of Lambeth Walk.

P.S. More from Transpontine.