Friday Night Fun and Culture: Melanie Safka

Remember her from the late 1960 and early 1970s.  Like many hard working musicians not favored by the Music opinion makers she has kept on touring and making music.


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I Used to Work for Google. I Am a Conscientious Objector.

From The New York Times:

American companies continue to build surveillance tools that are used to violate human rights. Workers who refuse to comply deserve protections.

By Jack Poulson
Mr. Poulson is a former research scientist at Google.
April 23, 2019

“We can forgive your politics and focus on your technical contributions as long as you don’t do something unforgivable, like speaking to the press.”

This was the parting advice given to me during my exit interview from Google after spending a month internally arguing, resignation letter in hand, for the company to clarify its ethical red lines around Project Dragonfly, the effort to modify Search to meet the censorship and surveillance demands of the Chinese Communist Party.

When a prototype circulated internally of a system that would ostensibly allow the Chinese government to surveil Chinese users’ queries by their phone numbers, Google executives argued that it was within existing norms. Governments, after all, make law enforcement demands of the company all the time. Where, they asked their employees, was the demonstrable harm?

But the time has passed when tech companies can simply build tools, write algorithms and amass data without regard to who uses the technology and for what purpose.

Complaints from a single rank-and-file engineer aren’t going to lead a company to act against its significant financial interests. But history shows that dissenters — aided by courts or the court of public opinion — can sometimes make a difference. Even if that difference is just alerting the public to what these companies are up to.

Nearly a decade ago, Cisco Systems was sued in federal court on behalf of 11 members of the Falun Gong organization, who claimed that the company built a nationwide video surveillance and “forced conversion” profilingClose X system for the Chinese government that was tailored to help Beijing crack down on the group. According to Cisco’s own marketing materials, the video analyzer — which would now be marketed as artificial intelligenceClose X — was the “only product capable of recognizing over 90 percent of Falun Gong pictorial information.”

Despite the court’s acknowledgment that Cisco built “individual features customized and designed specifically to find, track and suppress Falun Gong,” several early rulings went against the plaintiffs. And the case is still pending before the United States Court of Appeals for the Ninth Circuit.

The failure to punish Cisco set a precedent for American companies to build artificial intelligence for foreign governments to use for political oppression. This year, an investigation by The Times found that an American company, Thermo Fisher, sold DNA analyzers to aid in the current large-scale domestic surveillance and internment of hundreds of thousands of Uighurs, a predominantly Muslim ethnic group, in the region of Xinjiang. After the story broke, the company said it would no longer sell equipment in Xinjiang.

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America’s Elderly Are Twice as Likely to Work Now Than in 1985

From Bloomberg:

Twenty percent of those age 65 and up haven’t retired. Many can’t afford to.

April 22, 2019

Just as single-income families began to vanish in the last century, many of America’s elderly are now forgoing retirement for the same reason: They don’t have enough money. Rickety social safety nets, inadequate retirement savings plans and sky high health-care costs are all conspiring to make the concept of leaving the workforce something to be more feared than desired.

For the first time in 57 years, the participation rate in the labor force of retirement-age workers has cracked the 20 percent mark, according to a new report from money manager United Income (PDF).

As of February, the ranks of people age 65 or older who are working or seeking paid work doubled from a low of 10 percent back in early 1985. The biggest spike in employment has gone to college-educated older workers; the share of all employees age 65 or older with at least an undergraduate degree is now 53 percent, up from 25 percent in 1985.

relates to America’s Elderly Are Twice as Likely to Work Now Than in 1985
Source: United Income; Current Population Survey

This rise of college-educated older workers has pushed the demographic’s inflation-adjusted income up to an average of $78,000, 63 percent higher than the $48,000 older folks brought home in 1985. By comparison, American workers below the age of 65 saw their average income rise by only 38 percent over the same period, to an average of $55,000. United Income’s calculations draw on recently released data from the Census Bureau and the Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS).

There’s a mismatch between older workers who need the income the most and those who are able to work and working, said Elizabeth Kelly, senior vice president of operations for United Income and a former special assistant to the president at the White House National Economic Council during the Obama administration.

“These are the more educated, wealthier individuals in better health who are continuing to work, but it’s probably their less-educated, working-class counterparts who need to work the most,” Kelly said.

The BLS expects the big wave of aging baby boomers to represent the strongest growth in the labor force participation rate through at least 2024. “By 2024, baby boomers will have reached ages 60 to 78,” a BLS report noted. “And some of them are expected to continue working even after they qualify for Social Security benefits.”

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Anti-Semitism Is Back, From the Left, Right and Islamist Extremes. Why?

From The New York Times:

By Patrick Kingsley
April 4, 2019

BERLIN — Swastikas daubed on a Jewish cemetery in France. An anti-Semitic political campaign by Hungary’s far-right government. Labour lawmakers in Britain quitting their party and citing ingrained anti-Semitism. A Belgian carnival float caricaturing Orthodox Jews sitting on bags of money.

And that was just the past few months.

The accumulated incidents in Europe and the United States have highlighted how an ancient prejudice is surging in the 21st century in both familiar and mutant ways, fusing ideologies that otherwise would have little overlap.

The spike is taking place in a context of rising global economic uncertainty, an emphasis on race and national identity, and a deepening polarization between the political left and right in Europe and the United States over the conflict between Israel and the Palestinians.

“There’s an ideological pattern that is common,” said Günther Jikeli, an expert on European anti-Semitism at Indiana University. “The world is seen as in a bad shape, and what hinders it becoming a better place are the Jews.”

Anti-Semitism has become a section of today’s political Venn diagram where the far right can intersect with parts of the far left, Europe’s radical Islamist fringe, and even politicians from America’s two main parties.

That confluence is new, experts say, as is the emergence of an Israeli government that has sidled up to far-right allies who praise Israel even as they peddle anti-Semitic prejudice at home.

“It creates a landscape that is very confusing and where things are more blurry than in the past,” said Samuel Ghiles-Meilhac, an expert on Jewish history at the Institut d’Histoire du Temps Présent, a government-funded research group in France.

Polling suggests that anti-Semitic attitudes may be no more widespread than in the past, particularly in Western Europe, where Holocaust remembrance has become a ritual for most governments.

Despite this, bigots have seemingly become more brazen, creating a climate that has made anti-Semitism far more permissible and dangerous.

In recent decades, Western anti-Semitism has tended to trace the contours of the Israeli-Palestinian conflict, spiking and ebbing in correlation with spasms of violence between the two sides. But since the 2014 war in Gaza, researchers say, anti-Semitic incidents have remained at high levels.

“And that’s kind of worrying because it means it has become normal to act in anti-Semitic ways,” Mr. Jikeli said.

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For Trans Jews, ‘A Community Of Our Own’

This is what I am talking about, building communities that are there for all ages and that go beyond “activism” or for that matter support groups.  Loneliness is a major problem along with being disconnected from the social institutions straight folks find sources of support.

From New York Jewish Week:

CBST conference — ‘a holy gathering’ — marks new sense of belonging.

By Shira Hanau
April 16, 2019

When Jillian Weiss first joined Congregation Beit Simchat Torah in 1998, she was one of the few transgender members of the LGBTQ synagogue.

Late last month, she was one of over 100 transgender and non-binary Jews filling CBST’s sanctuary on Shabbat as part of the synagogue’s first-ever Trans Jews Are Here Convening.

Weiss was a co-chair of the convening and is a board member at CBST.

“There were really no other out transgender people there,” she said of the synagogue circa 1998. “Now that it’s clear that transgender Jews are here, the vast majority of transgender Jews who are still thinking that they should stay away need to reconsider that because the world is changing.”

Weiss was a co-chair of the convening and is a board member at CBST.

“There were really no other out transgender people there,” she said of the synagogue circa 1998. “Now that it’s clear that transgender Jews are here, the vast majority of transgender Jews who are still thinking that they should stay away need to reconsider that because the world is changing.”

“One of the defining characteristics of being transgender in the United States and at this time is really being alone and being ostracized by communities of all types,” said Weiss. “So creating a community of our own is essential.”

“There’s so many of us who have wanted this for a long time,” said Rafi Daugherty, the convening director, who called the event “magical.”

Between Shabbat services and meals, attendees chose from workshops on topics such as trans rituals, queer readings of midrash and trans Jewish storytelling. The program, most of which was closed to the press due to the sensitive nature so the discussions, included special programming for trans and non-binary children.

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Friday Night Fun and Culture: Joni Mitchell




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Are LGBTQ seniors dying of loneliness? It’s possible, research says

I’ve long noted how the LGBTQ Community is a community of young people.  That there is little or no place for elders.

Part of that was due to how much the post-Stonewall Gay Liberation Movement was focused on sex.

Those LGBT folks in the faith communities sought to build institutions that paralleled straight religious communities.

For a time in the 1970s lesbians seemed to be doing the same.

The Internet is good at creating virtual aka illusionary  communities but isn’t a replacement for face to face contact.

Political activism isn’t the same as a community.  Pride Day comes closer but that is on a mega scale and only one weekend a year.

Some of us who are married find we aren’t that different from straight couples our age with whom we share common interests.

I’m back in contact with my brother and his family.  My cousins too.  My brother lives in a small town and maybe it is easier to have that sort of intimacy in smaller towns, things like community dinners and other events.

I don’t know.  But I do know there are many LGBT elders who live lives of crushing loneliness.

From The Seattle Times:

April 11, 2019

“At least someone knows I’m alive.”

Karen Fredriksen Goldsen read that line on a survey form and knew she was onto something. For the past 10 years, the University of Washington professor of social work and researcher has been conducting the first, national longitudinal study of aging members of the LGBTQ community called Aging with Pride.

Two years ago, survey data showed that older, married LGBTQ adults were happier and healthier than their single peers.

Fredriksen Goldsen’s survey showed that more than one-third of respondents were single and isolating themselves — so much so that their lives might be in danger.

“Social isolation is a public health issue,” said Fredriksen Goldsen, who is also director of the Healthy Generations Hartford Center of Excellence at the UW. Research has shown that social isolation puts people at a greater risk of heart disease, dementia and memory loss, and premature mortality. She compared it to smoking 15 cigarettes a day.

Last month, Fredriksen Goldsen announced plans for an April 25 lecture at the Frye Museum Auditorium called “Linking Lives: Disrupting the Cycle of Social Isolation.” It sold out in a day, which she takes to mean that loneliness isn’t just an LGBTQ problem.

“What we learn from this population is similar to all other adults,” Fredriksen Goldsen said. “And I’m glad people are interested because learning about these things can be the first step to making change.”

The problem of social isolation is intensified for marginalized populations like the LGBTQ community, whose older members have experienced social exclusion in less tolerant times and places; couldn’t get married until several years ago; may have been discouraged from parenting, and couldn’t always speak freely about their relationships.

Life has prepared them to keep to themselves.

All seniors are at risk for isolation and loneliness, but it is worse for LGBTQ people, especially as they age. Perhaps they have to move to a retirement or assisted-living community, Fredriksen Goldsen said. Rather than expose who they are, some slip back into the closet and close the door behind them.

This may make them self-reliant, she said. “But that also makes you vulnerable. It’s a barrier to asking for help.”

For the past decade, Fredriksen Goldsen has surveyed 2,450 LGBTQ people between the ages of 50 and 102 on an every-other-year basis.

“They want to share their life experience in order to improve aging and lifestyle in this community,” she said.

That’s how she discovered that older, married LGBTQ adults experience better physical and mental health, more social support and greater financial resources than those who were single. Her findings made international news.

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Dr. Richard Green, 82, Dies; Challenged Psychiatry’s View of Homosexuality

And Then There Were None…

Dr. Harry Benjamin, Dr. John Money, Dr. Robert Stoller, and Dr. Richard Green.  All seem to have fallen form grace in the 21st Century, Post-Modern World of Gender, Trans and Cis alike…

But fifty years ago there was a time when we called ourselves Transsexual.  Stonewall was yet a couple of months away, I was starting to blossom from the hormones I had started taking about a month and a half prior.

I was living in a commune, on Grayson St. west of San Pablo Ave.  A bunch of us took over a block of land just east of Telegraph Avenue in those final weeks of April 1969 and transformed it into People’s Park.  In May UC Berkeley sent in the police to take the land back, starting off the uprising that was an important milestone for me.  By the time it was over in mid-June I was full time.

Telegraph Avenue was filled with bookstores in those days, both new and used.

I had found the paperback edition of Dr. Benjamin’s book at Cody’s in late 1968.  Christine Jorgensen’s book too…  The information one needed to find one’s path as a transsexual person was there.  It was just a little difficult to find and while the books were in the card catalogs of libraries they always seemed to be lost.

Dr. Benjamin was still seeing patients in 1969 and up until about 1973.  I saw him in his office on Sutter Street in SF.

I think Stoller’s “Sex and Gender” was the second book I found.

I paid what seemed like a small fortune at the time for Dr. Green and Dr. Money’s book “Transsexualism and Sex Reassignment”.

Doctor’s actually debated whether or not we should have access to these books as we might use them to game the screening process.

While we see their flaws now it is rather important to remember that all four of these Doctors were advocates for people born transsexual.  (Or in modern language transgender)

They opened the doors of the University Medical Centers, engaged in studies that brought us legitimacy.  And like Marc Anthony’s soliloquy in  Shakespeare’s Julius Caesar, The evil that men do lives after them; The good is oft interred with their bones.

They deserve to be remembered for both the good and the evil.  Transsexualism and Sex Reassignment came years before The Sissy Boy Syndrome.  One did a world of good, the other was unethical and did a world of harm.

A half century ago their words helped me and others to find our inner truths and helped us create the world transfolks know today.

We created that world simply by living our lives.  Over 20 years ago Jacob Hale said to me: “Trans-lives were lived, therefore Trans-lives were livable.”

From The New York Times:

By Benedict Carey
April 17, 2019

Dr. Richard Green, one of the earliest and most vocal critics of psychiatry’s classification of homosexuality as a mental disorder, died on April 6 at his home in London. He was 82.

The cause was esophageal cancer, his son, Adam Hines-Green, said.

Dr. Green, who was also a forceful advocate for gay and transgender rights in a series of landmark discrimination trials, became aware of the marginalization of people because of their sexual and gender identities while training to be a doctor at Johns Hopkins University in Baltimore, a leader in the study of sexuality.

In 1972, shortly after completing his specialty in psychiatry, he defied the advice of colleagues and wrote a paper in The International Journal of Psychiatry questioning “the premise that homosexuality is a disease or a homosexual is inferior.”

At the time, three years after the protests against a police raid at the Stonewall Inn in New York, a turning point in the gay rights movement, psychiatry’s diagnostic manual classified homosexuality as a mental disorder, and publicly arguing otherwise came with professional risks.

“Those were times when, if you spoke up in support of homosexuals, people immediately thought that you were secretly homosexual yourself, or had unresolved sexual issues,” Dr. Jack Drescher, a clinical professor of psychiatry at Columbia, said in an interview. “Richard was very much heterosexual, and it took a lot of courage to argue for gay people.”

That paper and others set off a long dispute in the profession, much of it bitter and sarcastic. In one published debate, in The American Journal of Psychiatry, prominent figures on both sides took barbed shots at one another. The gay-rights advocate Ron Gold titled his commentary “Stop It, You’re Making Me Sick!” Dr. Green asked if heterosexuality should also be labeled a mental disorder.

“Styles of heterosexual conduct do indeed form much of what is dealt with by psychiatrists,” he wrote. He added that “instability in maintaining a love relationship and neurotic uses of sexuality — in which sexuality is used to control others — as a substitute for other feelings of self-worth, or as a defense against anxiety and depression,” account for a large number of cases.

In 1973, the American Psychiatric Association sided with Dr. Green and other influential figures, including Dr. Judd Marmor and Dr. Robert Spitzer, and decided to drop homosexuality from its diagnostic manual.

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Friday Night Fun and Culture: Steve Goodman

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Bernard-Henri Lévy’s latest book examines ‘America’s Abdication and the Fate of the World

From The Jewish News Syndicate:

In America, you have the most stupid and dangerous right you’ve ever had. And you have the growing left—the worst and most stupid and most virulent left we’ve had. For example, the extent of the BDS campaign in America, you can see the stupid left in front of the stupid right.

By Jackson Richman
March 28, 2019

From fighting for human rights to advocating for the Kurds and their desire for a homeland, Bernard-Henri Lévy, 70, has sounded the alarm on contemporary issues and issued warnings about the decline on the left to uphold liberal values.

A French public intellectual, media personality and author, he was one of the leaders of the Nouveaux Philosophes (“New Philosophers”) movement in 1976.

Q: You said recently, “There is no correlation between education and wisdom. You can teach remembrance of the Holocaust all you want, but that’s not going to protect us against the return of the Beast.” Does that imply that George Santayana was wrong when he said, “Those who cannot remember the past are condemned to repeat it?”

A: Of course, it is important to teach, but it is not enough. Those populists, those neo-fascists, those anti-Semites who raise their head again, they are beyond knowledge and truth. They cannot be taught. They will not change their minds. They say that the truth has been made up; that the truth has been doctored. They live in a parallel world full of conspiracy theories. And the more we say the truth, the more they say that it is fake. We live in a strange world where the very idea of the truth is threatened and under attack. That’s why I say that it is not enough to say the truth.

People who engage themselves in this new populist trend are driven by something else. They don’t seek the truth. They’re searching for something else. There is a terrible, frightening pleasure in hating, in going to crazy and simple identity politics. [British Labour Party] Jeremy Corbyn knows well what he says about the Jews and Israel is bulls***, but he does not care. He cares about inflaming the spirits of his supporters by spreading fake information about the Jews and Israel. This is the real deficit. This is what I say in my book.

Q: If Brexit were to fail, could we see Jeremy Corbyn elected prime minister?

A: Jeremy Corbyn can become prime minister. And Jeremy Corbyn is becoming the leader of the left all over the world. There is the Jeremy Corbyn-ization of the left everywhere, including in America.

Q: Is the bigger threat in Europe and America the Corbyn-ization of the left or the populism of the right?

A: In America, you have the most stupid and dangerous right you’ve ever had. And you have also on the other side, the growing left, which is Jeremy Corbyn-ized, and which is the worst and the most stupid and the most virulent left we’ve had. For example, the extent of the BDS campaign that you have in America, you can see the stupid left in front of the stupid right. In America, the true liberals have to face these two dungeons.

This is one of the last conversations I had with [the late Arizona Sen.] John McCain a few months before he died. He told me, “Beware. Be careful. You will have to confront and you will have to fight against the worst right and the worst left. And they will feed each other.”

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Brunei introduces death by stoning as punishment for gay sex

From The Guardian UK:

People in the tiny south-east Asian kingdom face draconian penal code based on sharia law

Thu 28 Mar 2019

Brunei is to begin imposing death by stoning as a punishment for gay sex and adultery from next week, as part of the country’s highly criticised implementation of sharia law.

From 3 April, people in the tiny south-east Asian kingdom will be subjected to a draconian new penal code, which also includes the amputation of a hand and a foot for the crime of theft. To be convicted, the crimes must be “witnessed by a group of Muslims”.

Brunei, which has adopted a more conservative form of Islam in recent years, first announced in 2013 its intention to introduce sharia law, the Islamic legal system that imposes strict corporal punishments.

It was a directive of the Sultan of Brunei, Hassanal Bolkiah, who is one of the world’s richest leaders with a personal wealth of about $20bn (£15bn) and has held the throne since 1967. He described the implementation of the new penal code as “a great achievement”.

Alcohol is already banned in Brunei, as are showy Christmas celebrations, and there are fines and jail sentences for having children out of wedlock and failing to pray on a Friday. However, a heavy international backlash against Brunei imposing some of the more brutal sharia punishments has slowed their full implementation over the past five years.

In 2014, Brunei’s promises to implement sharia law prompted protests in Los Angeles, outside the famed Beverley Hills hotel and Hotel Bel Air, both of which were owned by the oil-rich nation. The hotels were accused of the “height of hypocrisy” for offering packages to LGBT couples, while being bankrolled by a country that has condemned homosexuals to death.

Brunei was a British colony until 1984 and the two countries still enjoy strong ties. Homosexuality has been illegal in Brunei since British colonial rule but under the new laws it is now punishable by whipping or death by stoning rather than a prison sentence. Capital punishment will also apply to adultery and rape.

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See Also:

New York Times: Brunei to Punish Adultery and Gay Sex With Death by Stoning

Reuters: Brunei defends tough new Islamic laws against growing backlash

The Dallas Voice: Perez Hilton outs Sultan of Brunei’s son

LGBTQ News: Omar Sharif Jr. challenges Sultan of Brunei to execute his son if gays should be stoned to death

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Go Home to Your ‘Dying’ Hometown

Or out, away form San Francisco, Los Angeles and New York where the cost of living reduces the quality of life.

From The New York Times:

I did, and it isn’t what I expected. I am more involved in social and racial justice, economic development and feminism than I ever was in a big city.

By Michele Anderson
March 8, 2019

FERGUS FALLS, Minn. — My husband and I bought a new home last fall — a 1910 Colonial Revival on the edge of this central Minnesota town of 14,000 people. Down the hill from our place is downtown, which includes the library and a medical clinic. Go a quarter-mile in the opposite direction, and the houses end. You’re surrounded by wide-open prairie, and beyond that is Interstate 94, which gets you to the Twin Cities in about three hours.

We’re still unpacking boxes as we get ready for our first baby, due in late March. A few weeks ago, searching for ideas for what to name our son, I looked through a family genealogy book. The last 30 pages are a transcription of my great-great-great grandfather Walter’s diary from 1883 to 1907. He came to Minnesota via Canada and England and lived with his wife, Eleanor, and their nine children on a homestead in Clay County, about 40 miles north of where I live now.

I read excerpts from his diary out loud to my husband, and we soaked in the rhythm of his life:

Thurs. June 1, finished planting onion seed, planted potatoes. Went to J. Lamb’s dance. Fri. 2, rain. Finished planting potatoes. Father went to Sabin. Sat. 3. took cattle to herd. Helped Chas. Lamb haul manure. Sun. 4, went over to church. All McEvers S.S. were there. Mon. 5, cleaned out stable. Ploughed for beans and corn. Tues. 6, went to mill. Wed. 7, father called. I planted beets around house. Sat. 10, ploughed for turnips.

It was a humble sort of poetry, a reference book for the land he chose to commit himself to. He was a farmer, and he helped establish the area’s first Presbyterian church. And yet it’s strange to know every detail of what he planted, but not what he hoped or feared for his family or his community.

The Interstate splits the original homestead, so I drive through that farmland often. I catch myself romanticizing my family’s “legacy,” feeling both pride for what they built and regret that the land that defines my family was stolen from the Dakota people.

I feel conflicted about my role here. Rural places like this one are facing countless questions about the economy, about identity and about the environment. It’s hard to know what we need to be stewards of and sustain, and what we need to let go or confront, to build a strong future.

I am what you might call a “homecomer.” Wendell Berry, the Kentucky writer and farmer, uses that word to describe people who have spent some time away, usually to pursue better opportunities in cities, and then choose to return to their rural roots.

In a 2009 commencement address at Northern Kentucky University, Mr. Berry encouraged students to consider whether they might be better and more responsible citizens if they embraced the concept of homecoming rather than the desire for upward mobility, which lures them to places to which they have little connection, to participate in a destructive and extractive economy.

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Corbynism Comes to America

From The Tablet:

Wondering about the future of the Democratic Party? Just look at Britain’s Labour.

By James Kirchick
March 13, 2019

Less than four years ago, Jeremy Corbyn was an obscure backbencher in the British Parliament. In his 30 years as a member of the Labour Party, his greatest legislative accomplishment was paradoxically the lack of any: From 1997 to 2010, when Labour was last in government, Corbyn was the MP who voted against his own party more than any other. Despite his perpetual insubordinations, successive Labour Prime Ministers Tony Blair and Gordon Brown declined to expel Corbyn from their party. “There was no threat,” a deputy Labour chief whip told the Financial Times about Corbyn and his small band of hard-left rebels in 2016. “These people were tolerated because no one had ever heard of them.”

Today, everyone in British politics has heard of Jeremy Corbyn, who, as leader of Her Majesty’s Most Loyal Opposition, has utterly transformed the Labour Party. Once a broad-based movement that could command large parliamentary majorities, today it is a sectarian personality cult, offering meager resistance to a shambolic Conservative government. Once the party whose leaders created NATO and stood stalwart against the threat of international communism, today Labour is led by people who sing the praises of anti-Western despots and terrorists. And once the natural political home of British Jewry, Labour today is mired in an anti-Semitic morass, to the point where 40 percent of Jews say they would “seriously consider” leaving the country were Corbyn to become prime minister. Indeed, Labour has become so toxic that, last month, nine MPs quit the party, calling it “sickeningly, institutionally racist,” “a threat to national security” and “a danger to the cohesion of our society, the safety of our citizens, and the health of our democracy.”

How Labour reached this deplorable condition is one that should seriously concern liberals in the United States, where a similar dynamic is playing out in the Democratic Party. An insurgent progressivism favorably disposed to socialism, hostile to Jews and openly admiring of Jeremy Corbyn and all that he represents is steadily making inroads against an aging, centrist Democratic establishment. Here, a constellation of elected officials, media personalities, and activists are mimicking the tactics of their ideological comrades in Britain to take over and transform the Democratic Party into a vehicle for their extreme agenda.

The devotees of American Corbynism congregate around Vermont Sen. Bernie Sanders, the “democratic socialist” who, like the British Labour leader, has a long record of overlooking the depredations of left-wing authoritarians abroad. A recently discovered video from 1988 shows the future presidential candidate regaling an American audience with the highlights of a recent trip he and his wife Jane made to the Soviet Union, where he rode on the “very, very effective” transportation system and was wowed by train station “chandeliers that were beautiful.” Just a year before the collapse of the Berlin Wall, these two political pilgrims sounded like Beatrice and Sidney Webb, British socialists who ventured to Josef Stalin’s Russia only to report back smiling peasants and abundant harvests. Sanders, who initially had positive things to say about the late Hugo Chavez’s Bolivarian revolution, today stubbornly refuses to call his successor, the brutal Nicolas Maduro, a dictator.

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The Queen 1968

The Pageant took place in the spring of 1967.  I was taking exploratory steps towards coming out.

This film came out in 1968 and made my self denial even harder.  By this time in 1969 I had been on hormones for a month and had the glow and itchy tits as well as budding boobs.

This is history forgotten by those who think everything started with Stonewall, especially trans-history starting with Stonewall.

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Is Being Trans Like Being an Immigrant?

From The New York Times:

Both involve a journey. And both are under assault by this administration.

By Jennifer Finney Boylan
April 3, 2019

Last week, a 9-year-old American citizen, Julia Isabel Amparo Medina, was detained at the Mexican border for 30 hours. Although she had made the trip every school day from her home in Tijuana, Mexico, to school in California, authorities claimed they could not identify her.

Back in January, two British women angrily accosted the human rights activist Sarah McBride after a conference that had brought together members of Congress and the parents of transgender youth. The women, members of a group that denies the humanity of transgender people, referred to Ms. McBride with male pronouns and accused her of championing rape and the erasure of lesbians.

On the surface, it might seem as if the detention of Julia and the cruelty of transphobes is unrelated. But both hatreds, in fact, rise from the same dark spring.

“People who have transitioned,” those anti-trans activists seemed to suggest, “aren’t sending their best. They’re bringing crime. They’re rapists. And some, I assume, are good people.”

Actually, unless I missed something, they didn’t say a word about people like Sarah McBride and me being good people. Mostly they implied, as the president once said of undocumented immigrants, that we’re not people. That we’re animals.

Comparing the trans experience to those of other marginalized groups is awkward, and not least because gender and race and poverty have different, if entwined histories. We conflate them at our peril.

Still, the narrative of migration can provide a helpful metaphor for the lives of some trans folks. This isn’t true for all of us, to be sure. But for someone who transitioned midlife, like me, it works pretty well.

I’m 60 years old now. I was 40 when I set out on the dangerous crossing that led from the place where I was born to these green fields of womanhood.

From my earliest memory, the old country — so to speak — felt like a foreign place; for me it was, at least at times, a place of hunger. I knew that if I stayed in the country where I was born — dear old BoyLand — I would never survive. And so I set out for this new land, the place I’d been dreaming of, one way or another, since I was 6 years old. In 2000, when I came out, I finally got my green card.

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The Democrats Need a New Eugene McCarthy

From The Tablet:

Will we see a Democratic candidate like him—practically inclined to the liberal center, with a coherent moral outlook that used to be informed by a decent left—in the 2020 election cycle?

By Martin Peretz
April 2, 2019

The awakening Democratic presidential primary, with 14 declared candidates and at least nine possible more, amounts to a stark choice over the party’s future: left or center, identity-issue minded or pluralist, radical or incrementalist. In fact, we haven’t seen Left battle lines so dramatically etched for more than half a century, since 1967 and 1968, under the dual weights of a disastrous foreign war and a rising new generation determined for change. The hero of that Democratic primary, who pushed Lyndon Johnson out of the race, ignited the energy of America’s young, and set up the new fault lines along which the future of the party got fought, was Eugene McCarthy, Democratic-farmer-labor senator from Minnesota. For many of us who were part of the McCarthy campaign, it’s a new Gene McCarthy—not in form, but in values—that we want today.

For those who didn’t live it, it’s hard to imagine the sheer despair that crested in America in the summer of 1967. Vietnam was not just a quagmire but a killing field, sucking the potential of tens of thousands of Americans into a jungle war where rights and wrongs disappeared in the murk, even as its impacts scraped away at the country. All the buried fissures of a changing society—old versus young, producers versus consumers, suburbs versus inner cities, oppressed identities versus old solidarities—were rubbed raw, ready to bleed. And the political class wouldn’t listen—Lyndon Johnson was adamant about prosecuting the war, Richard Nixon was busy manipulating the social fissures the war exposed, and the most obvious candidate to challenge Johnson, Bobby Kennedy, was too canny a political animal to make a leap in the dark. 1967 didn’t feel like the apocalypse—but it felt like five minutes to midnight.

Into this atmosphere came Gene McCarthy, who, after spending the summer urging a personally remote and, in any case, a waffling Bobby to run, entered the race in the fall. Against the high drama of the times, his announcement was flat, basic, to the point: He said the war was immoral and wrong, he said it was eating away at the fabric of country, he said it had to end. But Gene, a second-term senator risking his reputation to challenge a sitting president in the middle of a war, believed in more than ending our involvement in Vietnam. A deeply contemplative man who’d been born into the lower-middle classes and come into intellectual maturity through Catholic education and postgraduate work in economics, Gene was a practical moralist: He held deep beliefs, but his appreciation of reality was too intimate to let those beliefs shade into didactic thinking. When he looked at Vietnam he saw not just a profound moral wrong but also a practically revealing one, of the fissures of a country not in freefall but in intricate transition. “We are no longer a frontier society,” he said, and he meant his campaign to both end the war and address the bigger change—to give more Americans more autonomy in a complicated world.

So, in an age where consumption and technology were becoming the main drivers of economic growth, Gene could imagine automated labor and high-skills-demanding employment putting a certain number of people out of work, and he thought you had to guarantee them an income: It wasn’t a sweeping theory, but Gene is, to my knowledge, the first major candidate to talk about limited universal basic income. He was also skeptical of the new military industrial apparatus and its tendency to promote systemic belligerence abroad, but he pushed back against people on the hard left who inflated that critique into opposition towards both international alliances of democratic societies and the capitalist system itself. Capitalism, he thought, had not just created the wealth we had, it was also the only system that was both independent of politics and could be politically corrected by democratic will. You can’t, Gene realized, deconstruct such a successful system: You have to work carefully within it.

On what we’d now call “identity issues,” Gene was similarly complex. Even as his campaign drew its strength from women, American Jews, high Protestants, middle class African Americans, and Irish Americans, Gene managed to respect historical differences without being imprisoned by them: Histories mattered, but people were individuals to him before they were anything else. He was suspicious of political actors who either papered over differences or made them the hinge on which politics turned: He thought they colluded in perpetuating segregations, not ending them. This focus on individuality meant he was a true integrationist: From the start of his political career, in the face of real intra-party resistance, he insisted that the only way to overcome centuries of segregation was to change zoning laws so that blacks and whites could live together. Alas, that turned out to be not as socially transformative as many of us had envisioned.

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