Saturday, September 12, 2015

Batting Cleanup, Big Mama Thornton

1. There's heartening news out of the UK where member of parliament from the Labour Party Jeremy Corbyn was elected the party's leader and by a big margin. This is something like Bernie Sanders winning the Democratic party nomination for president. If Labour ever gets the majority in parliament again and forms the government Corbyn would be prime minister, and he's now in a position to influence what the party does legislatively. Corbyn is an outspoken supporter of the Palestinians and will push back against Austerity, i.e. Neoliberalism. The photo below is Corbyn with the winner of a scholarship given by some UK Labour Party supporters  to Palestinians to study in the UK.

Jeremy Corbyn, R, with Raid Debiy

The Labour rank and file have become fed up with the party's rightward drift which matches that of Democrats in the US and began under Tony Blair, the British equivalent of Bill Clinton, and many voters have fled Labour in recent elections for smaller parties that espouse a native populism and anti immigrant racism. Clinton led the same kind of rightward shift of the Democratic Party during somewhat the same time frame, and oversaw a declining disillusioned electorate as his strategy of moving to the right economically but still espouse liberal views on some social issues, like abortion and gay marriage, to keep important donors and constituencies happy, gained hold of the party. The Labour Party establishment and Blair tried mightily to deny the leadership to Corbyn, even resorting to trying to purge members who intended to vote for him. Their displeasure with him will cause him problems leading his party in parliament despite his support among the rank and file.

This scolding by the Financial Times of Labourites who voted for Corbyn demonstrates how the media helps the conservative political establishment to limit debate and political possibilities, much as it does in the US; most of the population supports policies far to the left of those our politicians do but those policies are presented as outlandish and impractical in the media.

2. As you know, Rupert Murdoch, owner of Fox News and many other right wing media properties around the world, just bought the National Geographic magazine. Someone from Occupy Portland posted this:

3. People not just in the UK but other places in Europe are really getting fed up with their leaders. As European leaders fight over who can take the fewest refugees from the five ongoing Middle East wars they are participating in, there were big rallies all over Europe yesterday. In Copenhagen 40,000 people stood in front of parliament and shouted "refugees welcome." The Danish government had taken actions to prevent refugees from getting there, such as shutting down rail lines coming into the country from Germany., but as governments have in many places reversed itself in response to the public's disdain for them.

Copenhagen, Denmark - Mark B Knudsen photo

President Obama, who started three of the five ongoing Middle East Wars, has said he'd accept 10,000 refugees in the US -- of the millions of people he has made into refugees. No comment yet from the American people.

Pro refugee marchers approach 10 Downing St., today, London - Middle East Eye photo

Pro refugee rally in Glasgow, today - Socialist Worker photo

4. Big Mama Thornton was a Blues singer who came out of the Rhythm and Blues tradition. Her biggest hit was Hound Dog, written for her by Jerry Leiber and Mike Stoller after producer Johnny Otis brought them in to meet her. She recorded it in 1952 and a few years later it was recorded by Elvis to become his biggest selling single.

Such "cultural expropriation," as academics call it, or borrowing if you prefer was common and is how Rhythm and Blues became Rock and Roll -- this is still a pretty much untold story. Elvis and those guys didn't always spend their evenings on their own side of the tracks.

There's some of Big Mama's music at, where people can post and download music that's in the public domain, meaning the copyright has expired. Here's one nice collection - on the right of that page you an choose your download format. If you search Big Mama Thornton there are other recordings.

And here's a youtube video of Big Mama performing Hound Dog, then leading some people you've heard of in a harmonica band doing Down Home Shakedown.

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