Tuesday, July 27, 2010

From Bob's archive: Whining Leftist/Grieving Mother

I am away for a couple of weeks and, as is my usual practice, am posting some old stuff from my archives. This is from February 2006, from when the blog was a year old. It was a guest post by our American correspondent Jogo. Please feel free to argue back in the comments while I'm away!

Note: the context is the second half of George W Bush's second term. The Democrats have failed to block the nomination of Samuel Alito to the Supreme Court. The Iraq war is raging, and Meryl Streep has a nephew serving there, while Cindy Sheehan's son had been killed there two years previously. In summer 2005, Sheehan became a national celebrity when she went to Bush's ranch in Texas and in January 2006 she was arrested at his State of the Union address.

Meryl Streep says:
"I'm so demoralised. I want a candidate to come out of nowhere and have no conflicts. I want major campaign reform. I want Jesus to come back and throw the money lenders out."
Leftism in a nutshell. Meryl nailed it with precision. What a sorryass existential cry. A childlike cry, don't you think? Leftism is religion. Why don't leftists admit it, and stop thinking they're better than the Christians?
One of Bush's biggest mistakes -- as President and as a man -- was not to have met with Cindy Sheehan when she first attempted to get his attention in Crawford. He, or someone very close to him, should have seen that Ms Sheehan was no ordinary angry citizen. She meant business. And she was fueled by a righteous fury, a John Brown-level fury, one might say a Sacred Fury.

A deeper and more thoughtful Christian would have seen in her the mysterious relationship between Fury and Grace ... let alone heard her cry and not turned from her.

At that time Ms Sheehan was only a private citizen, albeit a most resourceful and single-minded one. She did not then have, as she has today, the money, power and skills of the Organized Hate America Left behind her.

Of course she would not have permitted from Bush
the kiss she received from Hugo Chavez. But Bush might have touched her in some way that she could receive... were he a deeper and more thoughtful man. He might then have risen, in her eyes, to the level of a human being. But as things stand today, he is not even that to her.
In response to this, a Christian friend in Oakland writes:
"Yes, I agree that he does not have what it takes to unify our poor broken divided country. I pray that another Lincoln could emerge...and be able to speak to and listen to both sides."
The millionaire moisturized Leftist wants Jesus... while the Christian schoolteacher prays for another Lincoln.

Monday, July 26, 2010

Signing off

I'm off for a few weeks, but keep checking in, as I have scheduled some "controversial" old posts.

Here's some reading for while I'm going.

Post of the week: Finding something worth fighting for is harder than finding something to fight against.

Benism: On Roger Scruton on irony and forgiveness. (Possibly an opportunity for Martin to finish some unfinished business? See also Francis.)

Keithism: What drove Melanie Phillips to the right?, Post-democratic Israel?, On denial (click on the link for a pdf), Is Turkey the only villain in this piece?

Also on Israel and Turkey, a very well written piece by the Turkish-American scholar Seyla Benhabib, writing from Tel Aviv. And also on genocide denial: Max Dunbar on Edward Herman. And on a different genocide, the UN's shameful silence on Srebernica.

Martinism: No more burqas, no more bans. (For a pro-ban view, see the Eygptian blogger Mona Eltahway, found via Martin, especially this. For a robust left-wing view, see Coatesy.) And on Blair, Chilcott, Iraq and 7/7:  The baroness and the bombers.

Illiberalism: Pat Buchanan and Neil Clark.

Multiculturalism: The wrong way to celebrate diversity. Kenan Malik and engineered identities.

Rose-ism: David Aaronovitch on Jacqueline Rose on Dreyfus for today.

Fascism: Duncan on the current state of the BNP.

Secularism: In defence of hospital chaplains.

Wednesday, July 21, 2010

Austerity bites

I've already included some of these links in previous posts, but want to highlight them a little more. They are about some of the first casualties of the new regime of austerity in my neck of the woods, the borough of Lewisham. The specifics are primarily of local interest, but the generalities are the same across the UK, and below the fold I have some comments that relate to the more general issues.

Transpontine sums up the cuts here, along with details of some of the campaigns against the cuts, in Lewisham and Southwark. Deptford Visions and Hangbitch report on the protests in Lewisham. Jim reports the obscene contempt our directly elected mayor, Sir Steve Bullock, has for the protestors. 853 reports from neighbouring Greenwich.

Although not the most important of the cuts, one closest to my heart is the possible closure of Crofton Park Library. The library, built in 1905 and designed by the LCC's Emanuel Vincent Harris with money from by philanthropist Andrew Carnegie, who donated it to the people in perpetuity, is one of the architectural gems of SE4, as well as a wonderful resource for families, older people, unemployed people, and school students. Brockley Central reports here.

There are "consultation" meetings over the summer (when many parents, a key user group, are away). There is a petition here. Locally based children's author Andy Cullen makes the case well:
My wife and I use Crofton Park library regularly with our children. Often we take books home; sometimes we just stay for an hour in the lovely children's library and explore and read together. This beautiful local library continues to be a valued resource for local residents and schools. After many decades of service it still has a vital role as a people's university catering to all ages and types.
 Other libraries are under threat too, including Blackheath. Five altogether might close, out of 12.

Before I move on to the general issues, two local links for my local readers: Why are South Londoners the best bloggers? and Get a free glass of wine at the final screening in the Brockley Jack Film Club season. (The film club website, by the way, also features nice pics of lovely local folk at Blythe Hill and Brockley Max.)

There are three more general points I want to make about these things.

East London Line/Yiddish Sarf London: קריסטל פעלעס

Has anyone been to the newish Overground Uncovered exhibition at the Transport Museum, about life on the East London Line? I saw a flier in a local shop, and among the images is one of some Hebrew letters (קריסטל פעלעס) which spell Crystal Palace (or, rather Kristl Peles) in Yiddish. (I would have gone for קריסטל פאליס (Kristl Palis) myself, but I'm not a native Yiddish speaker. Can anyone shed any light on this?

Monday, July 19, 2010

The Bob drink: a preliminary report

Thanks to all of you who turned up on Saturday night. I counted 15 in all, including me, which is more than respectable. These were Jams*, Kellie*, Francis*, Max, Sue, Jim, Darryl, Mikey E, Carl*, Keith, Daniel, Flesh and two other halves of bloggers who are of course also human beings in their own right.(Asterisks denote posts on the topic of the drink.)

I got fairly drunk. No blows were traded. No papparazzi were present. No one was exactly as I imagined them. Everyone was nice. My main regret is there were too many people for me to manage to talk to everyone properly, or indeed anyone at any length.

A preliminary statistical analysis reveals more details on the demographic.

Saturday, July 17, 2010

Unfinished posts no.1: 2009's four star tracks

I have lots of unfinished posts in my drafts folder. I am never going to finish this one, which I started in December, and it is now rather out of date. My plan is to one by one post or delete my unfinished posts, until my draft folder is empty!

Highly unscientific version of a musical best of. I looked for 2009 music in my Media Player library and arranged them by star rating. I found that nothing in 2009 got five stars, but about three dozen tracks got four stars. I don't know if it says more about me or about 2009 that lots of it sounds like it comes from another era, specifically the 1970s. Dedicated to my friends Ali and Anamik. Arranged purely alphabetically.

Buguinha Dub "Fino da massa 1" and "Tubarao de bacia". Jamaican style dub from Brazil. Mp3s and info from Starfrosch.

DJ Mujava "Township Funk" (Crazy P Remix). An accurate description: "kwaito’s urban grime reborn as a chilled as fuck space disco roller". Listen at last.fm/mp3 from A Derogatory Term.

Donovan "Ventura". No, not that Donovan, the French chilled electro disco one. Found via partycmyk.

Levon Helm "When I Go Away" and "White Doves". From his wonderful Electric Dirt album. Southern boogie, bluegrass and deep roots. Sounds like it has always been there, in the landscape. Reviews from Popdose and Fiddlefreak. (Note: I realise Levon Helm has been overrepresented in previous annual round-ups.)

Malcolm Middleton "Call The Shots"
, a Girls Aloud cover. Scotland's great poet of misery and artist of chamber electro-folk minimalism shows that perfection can be improved upon. See Zeon, Another Form of Relief.

Nostalgia 77 featuring Alice Russell covering White Stripes’ “Seven Nation Army”. Heavy duty 1970s time-travelling sexy bassy jazzy funky soul. Actually released in 2004, it is on the 2009 Tru Thoughts Covers album.

Quantic y su Combo Barbaro "Mambo Los Quantic" and "Enyere Cumbara". Extraordinarily talented genre-hopping artists. MySpace/homepage/label. Bloggery: Motel de Moka, All the Way Live, Music Like Dirt,

The Ramirez Brothers "Sizzlin'" (featuring Karolina). Superb jazz funk from Tel Aviv.


Undomundo's Meta Best Lists of 2009.


P.S. have you listened to my radio programme yet? Over to the right I have added a feed for my tracks, and my Hype Machine tracks.

Thursday, July 15, 2010

Last orders at the bar

Just a final reminder of the Bob From Brockley drink on Saturday night. E-mail me if you want to get a sought after place on the guest list. Actually not that sought after, but if everyone comes who says they will it'll be in the high teens. (I'll re-paste here my original invite list, minus people I know can't come, including people who say they might and people who haven't answered: Kellie; Richard; Daniel; Mira, David and gang; Flesh; Francis; Marko; Martin; Martin; Keith; Courtney; Jams; Transpontine; Carl; Steve; the Estate agents; Dave and comrades; comrade DaveJim; Inspector Darryl; Clare; Sue; Max; Ross; Ken; Brockley Nick and co; Danny; Little Richardjohn; Nick; Paulie; Raven; Michael; James. And belatedly adding the Dame.)

In other news...

Remembering our dead: More Harvey Pekar tributes (some via Kellie): Kroninger, Molly Mew. More Tuli Kupferberg tributes (ditto): Kroninger, Molly Mew, Michael Ezra.Our other dead: Ken CoatesThe dead of 7/7. And againSrebernica 15 years on

To add to the blogroll: Radiator.

Other miscellanies: Poumista.

Wednesday, July 14, 2010

Death of a hero

I just opened an e-mail from Arieh:
It's with an overwhelming sadness that I share the news of the passing of both Harvey Pekar and Tuli Kupferberg.
May their memory, and their creativity in diverse media, be a blessing to us all, and future generations.
Tuli Kupferberg, for those who don't know, was a member of the Fugs, as well as an all-round important figure in the 1960s counter-culture. Harvey Pekar, however, is one of my true heroes.

I first encounted Pekar and his American Splendour comics in a Los Angeles bookstore, Amok (is it still there?), while visiting Jogo perhaps two decades ago. I remember standing there in the store unable to stop reading them. In particular, I loved this story.

When the film came out a couple of years back, I was very nervous, but the film captured the comics perfectly, and, I thought, really did him justice. I felt I knew him as a friend from the comics; I felt I knew him even better afterwards.

He was 70, and suffering from prostate cancer. His battle with cancer had been one of the themes of his recent work.

I will miss him.

Some appreciations: Daily Cross Hatch; Nick Abadzis; Jesse Hamm; Anthony Bourdain; Jeff Smith.

Saturday, July 10, 2010


The new Con-Dem austerity is beginning to hurt. Locally (in Lewisham), there are plans to close half the libraries in the borough, including my local one in Crofton Park. Details from Brockley Central and Blackheath Bugle. Other proposals include job cuts in the Early Years service, less youth workers, less refuse collections and job cuts among bin men, and replacing pay and display parking with a pre-pay system.

On the brighter side, the Overland train allows people in my neighbourhood to get to Tayyabs easily - although Tayyabs, in my view, isn't as good as it used to be.

Also on the bright side: BBC 6Music has been saved. A victory for people power and Web 2.0, or was the announced closure just a clever marketing ploy?

Loads of great stuff this week at Raincoat Optimist: Iranian law and the case of Sakine Mohammadi Ashtani; The troops and the ‘good muslim, bad muslim’ narrative: A reply to Richard Seymour; Philip Hollobone and the (il)logic of the burka debate. I think this post on Moazzam Begg and the left would be brilliant too if it was typed, but I can't handle the vlog formatI'm afraid. Am I old-fashioned?

Unrelated: The radicalism of the American revolution, with superb musical accompaniment. Pinkwashing Israel (relates to this/this).

Wednesday, July 07, 2010

Five years on

You Will Fail by Aldaron.

Today is five years after the 7/7 bomb attack on London. The fear of that day returned to me a couple of weeks ago when I was at London Bridge station and an Inspector Sands call came out over the tannoy, followed by an order to evacuate the station. I tried to remain calm, but I could feel the panic starting to flood through me. Other passengers, however, seemed completely calm - most had probably not noticed the Inspector Sands call and it took a while for the implication of the evacuation to sink in. I took out my phone and got my wife's number up, my finger ready to call with a final goodbye. And then I was out on the street, away from the station, and in Borough Market surrounded by tourists, and the moment had passed. I was back in normality.

I had a meeting at a large office building nearby, and the entrance way had the official threat level. It was "severe", but I checked later and severe, nowadays, is normal. It means "that a terrorist attack is highly likely." This is how we live in London today; we just carry on. Just like we did in the 1970s, 1980s and 1990s, when IRA bombings were going off regularly (I particularly remember the April 1993 bomb in the City, and feeling the ground shake even though I was way across town.)

So, here's to London. And here's to staying alive, to freedom, to diversity, to tolerance, to quirkyness. And here's to the dead, and to the survivors.
“Even after your cowardly attack, you will see that people from the rest of Britain, people from around the world will arrive in London to become Londoners and to fulfil their dreams and achieve their potential.

“They choose to come to London, as so many have come before because they come to be free, they come to live the life they choose, they come to be able to be themselves.

Whatever you do, however many you kill, you will fail.”
Other remembrances: Dave Osler, Hagley Road, Gordon Mac, Jane Griffiths.

Below the fold, my 7/7 posts.

Monday, July 05, 2010


Post of the week: a prayer for Hitchens by Rosie Bell. Read it.

The Enlightenment is where it's at right now, judging from a number of interesting posts in my neighbourhood of the blogosphere (here's Flesh, here's Paulie, here's LFF, here's Ben), mainly kicked off by Matthew Taylor of the RSA on "a 21st century Englightenment".

For me, a key element of a 21st century Enlightenment would be the cosmopolitan attitude Kant once associated with the English: an ethic of hospitality and conviviality. In the last decade, anti-immigrant politics has become common sense across the political spectrum in the UK. This excellent piece by Max Dunbar (who blogs here) looks at globalisation, localism and immigration. Also on the immigration question, Ben Gidley on Brick Lane and assimilation.

Max's post closely relates to the issues Flesh discusses in this post on communitarianism and liberalism, riffing on Jon Cruddas (and giving us a glimpse behind the Prospect paywall). If you are interested in that or in the Brick Lane post, you will also be interested in this post at on Tower Hamlets Labour Party, communalism and racism.

Sort of related to that is a post by Matt of Ignoblus, one of the most thoughtful and intelligent bloggers on my blogroll, entitled "On populism", on direct and representative democracy, with an excursus on Zionism.

And that in turn relates (as does the 21st century Englightenment) to the 4th of July. Martin plays some great music, while Arguing the World has some timely partial readings.

Another topic circulating in my corner of the 'sphere is "gay imperialism". Again, Max is an excellent guide to this topic, as is Kellie, who takes on not just "gay imperialism" but "gender imperialism" too.

Another of my obsessions: Hugo Chavez. I strongly recommend this post on him by James Bloodworth. Meanwhile, Judeosphere on Chavez's antisemitic "news" site.

Just a couple more notes on the English Defence League. First, this is a very coherent anarchist piece on the EDL, by Durruti02, on "Who are the EDL, what motivates them and why are we unable to connect with the very people they are attracting – the disenfranchised working class." I also re-read more carefully Contemporary Anarchist on the EDL, and want to recommend it more fully than I did before. It is not, as I suggested before, a conspirationist follow the money piece tieing the EDL to the "neoconservatives". Rather, the argument is about the ideological seeding of certain themes from the American new right in the soil of the European far right. This comment (hyperlinks added) by "Luther Blisset" at Engage captures the argument:
I think Tony Archer’s papers (RUSI) [pdf] on the counterjhad movements attempts to woo Europe’s far-right are pertinent to this discussion. He uses the policy and attitude change in the Vlaams bloc – from antisemitism to Islamophobia – as an example, and its interesting here to note that Vlaams are part of the Counter Jihad Europa project.
Counter Jihad Europa recently held their conference and two delegates from EDL attended (unsure as to whom). Counter Jihad Europa network provides the ideological well from which the far-right can drink.
This transformation from antisemitism to Islamophobia is alarming – see Salzberger’s 2007 opinion piece ‘With friends like these’-  and it’s been reassuring to see the CST and BoD vociferously reject their siren call.
As to the claims that EDL joined ZF that day – it is clear they did not join ZF en masse, however the EDL PR (American international student Matthew Kaplan) photographed himself within the ZF area, whilst someone involved with both the Counter Jihad Europa project and the semi-ficitious* EDL (Jewish Division), who is active in ideologising EDL members on their forum took photographs from within the ZF area. We know a small number of US Kahanist JTF are actively working within the EDL forums and on the semi-fictitious EDL (Jewish Division) facebook group and we believe it is one of the JTF who are in control of that group and that they also own the blog ‘Juniper in the Desert’. ‘Juniper in the Desert’ may be another of Matthew Kaplan’s nom-de-plumes, but we are only sure of the link between the persona who controls the facebook group and the blog ‘Juniper in the Desert’, not whom the real identity of that person may be.
*we love this label ‘semi-fictitious’ from Bob and use it at every opportunity!
Meanwhile, I have been having a discussion with Tony Greenstein on the EDL but also about a dozen other topics which you might or might not care to follow; I've more or less run out of steam, while the Harry's Place thread was dominated by EDLers. Far better to read Viz.

Also: George Readings on homegrown terrorism, Nathalie Rothschild on Israel's plans to boycott the boycotters, Contentious Centrist on the news we don't hear about.

Finally, if you didn't already follow the Sphere's recommendation, read this at The Onion about Noam Chomsky relaxing. LOL, as the young folks say.

Thursday, July 01, 2010

Gnome Chomsky 8: The plot thickens

For those of you who don't know what a Slip n' Slide is, it's time to trade your Noam Chomsky and pinot for some brisket and sweet tea, son! - August West
The supermodel Elle Macpherson says that Noam Chomsky's Manufacturing Consent was "a book that changed me". Interesting. How did this change manifest itself? The tome argues that the dominating cultural environment called the media is an infernal, insatiable machine that exists only to perpetuate its own commercial interests. Maybe Macpherson decided that, since she was in the game herself, she could flog expensive scanties safe in the knowledge that her products would be publicised with great enthusiasm, in order that likable and attractive pictures of her could be reproduced. Such as this one (above). A sterling intellectual exercise, surely, and one that's got the business bang to rights. - Deborah Orr
Scraping the bottom of the barrel? This month's gnome chomsky is from Tractor Facts:
For a clever man, Chomsky can be very stupid.