Monday, November 13, 2017

2017 Killed By Police Passes 1,000


"Roach stepped out of his home with his shotgun at about 10:50 p.m and walked toward officers, who ordered him to drop it. After he refused, six officers fired at Roach."


Jerry Roach
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Jerry Roach of Lakeland, FL, was the 1,000th person killed by police this year, on November 2. In the 11 days since then the total has reached 1,040.

US cops kill more people in a month than British police kill in 25 years. US cops kill 70 times more people than cops in other "first world" countries do.

It's a bit simplistic to say police are looking for excuses to kill people. Police training teaches cops to shoot first, ask questions later. What probably more significant is that we are just a violent people. We have a culture that prioritizes money, where having a lot of it means the law no longer applies to you. All kinds of things are more important to Americans than caring for each other.

We own most of the world's guns and have a military ten times bigger than Russia's and we send it all over the world killing poor people so rich and powerful people can get richer and feel more powerful. Congress just voted to increase the $700 billion military budget by $80 billion per year. It's going to get worse, not better.






Sunday, November 12, 2017

Democrats Will Get Away With It

Republicans are working on legislation to give huge tax cuts to corporations and their wealthy shareholders. Democrats are criticizing it by complaining that it doesn't give big enough tax cuts to the "middle class."

So there will be tax cuts and they will cause the budget deficit to swell. Then, when the budget as a whole is being considered, Republicans will insist that congress cut programs like food stamps, Head Start, Medicare, Social Security and Medicaid. While they are insisting they will even blame the deficits on Democrat tax and spend policies.

At that time Democrats will be unable to respond because of what they're doing now -- they aren't saying anything about budget deficits or the vulnerability of the social programs that benefit their constituents.

They will vote for the cuts. You can argue about whether or not they intended to or not and about whether they intentionally screwed working people on behalf of their Wall Street funders.

You can certainly expect them to issue find sounding statements saying how they oppose the cuts to Medicaid, Social Security, etc., and are "fighting hard" to protect our interests, but as they've done in the past and as I've documented here, they will vote with Republicans and seriously harm many millions of working Americans. Democrat voters, who never think to check how their representatives actually vote on legislation and who hear only the fine sounding statements.

This is how it's been working for many years. Democrat voters never catch on. They remain embroiled in fear of Republicans. Their fear is constantly reinforced by Democrat politicians, whose role in the charade is never brought into question. But wealthy Democrat funders know, and that's why they keep Democrat campaign coffers full.






Wednesday, November 8, 2017

Yesterday's Elections - Democratic Socialism On The March

The University of Chicago chapter of the Democratic Socialists of America posted these lists of DSA members who won elections around the country yesterday. The Socialist winners range from Lee Carter (@carterforva) who was elected to the Virginia state house to Mik Pappas (@MikPappas) who was elected as a district judge in Pennsylvania to Lydia Edwards (@LydiaMEdwards) who was elected to the Boston city council.




These victories contradict the spin being put on the elections by the Democratic Party which points to the high turnout among well educated suburban women as meaning there's no need for economic populism.

"Economic populism" is a derogatory reference to economic justice, i.e. to working people getting a fair share of the wealth their labor creates, which is diametrically opposed to official Democratic Party policy of screwing the working class to keep the Wall Street money flooding into their bloated campaign coffers. 

Some of yesterday's winners ran as Democrats or Independents but they aren't shy about belonging to a Socialist organization such as the DSA, or to Socialist Alternative, the party of Seattle city council member Kshama Suwant, which one belongs to. Like Suwant these new elected officials will bring their values to the job with them and not the values elected officials from the two major parties have been bringing with them.

Just as important, these Socialists will be representing and publicizing working peoples' interests. When working peoples' interests get aired they aren't so easily ignored or slandered by Democrats. Not only that, the general public will once again be able to imagine policies that benefit them being enacted, and the Wall Street beholden Democrats won't be able to manipulate  peoples' expectations. Working people instead will begin to manipulate the Democrats.

Remember that most of the country's DSA chapters were formed in the last year while the DSA was growing from a few thousand members to more than 30,000 at last count.  Membership in DSA and similar organizations will likely soon be in the millions and will overtake and dictate public discourse.

Remember the tea party? Change occurs quickly sometimes. As Vladmir Lenin said: "There are decades where nothing happens and there are weeks where decades happen."











Saturday, November 4, 2017

Fats Domino And Socialism

Fats Domino in 1962
I noted a few posts ago that legendary Fats Domino had died and now Hiram Lee has a really good obit at the World Socialist Web Site that surveys Domino's career and life. It includes links to youtube recordings of the songs it refers to and is a very nice tribute to Fats.



WSWS

The World Socialist Web Site, WSWS, incidentally, represents one of the remnants of the worldwide Socialist-Communist movement that once had a strong footprint in the US before it was decimated by the legal and extra legal oppression of our federal and state governments and of course by decades of the intense anti Socialist Cold War propaganda that was hammered into Americans' psyches from birth until it became an actual part of American culture and identity.

WSWS has some really bright people writing for the web site though and is one thing I follow pretty closely - many of the articles are recorded and made into a daily podcast.

It's published by the International Committee of the Fourth International, the ICFI, but the ICFI isn't only group to lay claim to the title Fourth International.

The First International, or as it was called upon forming the International Workingmen's Association, which was was founded in 1864 and would eventually be led by Karl Marx, was a vehicle to unite the working class internationally and spread socialist ideas and revolution.

As things were debated such as the pros and cons of the Social Democratic approach to Socialism and whether or not Anarchists groups should be included the First International went through a couple of dissolutions and reconstitutiona so that when the USSR was formed after the 1917 Russian revolution and assumed the leadership of the International, it was called the Third International.

Andre Breton, Diego Rivera, Trotsky in Mexico
 As the USSR then began going down the path that would lead to Stalinism, one of its main leaders, Leon Trotsky, resisted the changes and was expelled from the Communist Party, the Soviet Politboro and the Third International, and was exiled. Trotsky then formed a competing Fourth International, and the Fourth International and Troskyite, or Trotsykist, are more or less synonymous.

You sometimes hear Trotskyists derisively called "Trots." They sometimes can seem doctrinaire -- i.e. theirs is the only true path -- but they are the keepers of what you could call the pure, unadulterated version of communism of Marx, Vladmir Lenin and Trotsky.

As people flood into socialist organizations and learn more about it there will be a lot of discussion about the meaning of Socialism. As things like, what place identity politics will have in it, what place Black Liberation struggles should play in it, are debated, the WSWS will be a valuable tool and reference and a player in those debates.

WSWS.org






Thursday, November 2, 2017

Inflation And Inflation

On several occasions, I have glibly referred to how it now takes two spouses working to equal the wages of a one-income family of 40 years ago. Unfortunately, that is now an understatement. In fact, Western wages have plummeted so low that a two-income family is now (on average) 15% poorer than a one-income family of 40 years ago.  Jeff Nielson


The US government has changed the way it calculates inflation several times over the last few decades in ways that conceal Americans' declining living standards, says Jeff Nielson, who owns a precious metals trading company and writes about economics for various investor centered publications.



This chart is from an article he wrote in 2012 for The Street.

The gray line at the bottom is our actual wages.

The blue line represents the same wages adjusted for inflation according to the US government's Consumer Price Index, CPI, which is the method they are always changing.

The green line shows the true buying power of the same wages. Nielson came up with the green line by taking one of the various inflation calculating methods the government has used and applying it uniformly to the whole time period.

Nielson didn't use some method he came up with. He just applied one of the government's methods for the entire time.

Democrats, having played a big role in this great downward trend of living standards with their support for economic policies designed to transfer wealth upward, never discuss it. Instead they put out a steady stream of politically sounding chatter about Russia, Trump, North Korea, the environment, Iran, terrorism, you name it, and put it out in a way to make you want to turn your political power over to them and never in  way to make you think that you had some kind of power yourself.

This is our political system, which isn't a democracy but a form of representative republic that was designed to protect a wealthy landowning status quo and ensure that the masses remained politically impotent. The system has been modified in various ways over the years, but always by the status quo and in ways that ensure their interests aren't affected.

Because we have this system the status quo now possesses more wealth than ever, much more, and wages continual wars to make itself even richer. The status quo doesn't wage any wars personally, of course.

Taking the attitude that we should work to reform our system doesn't work. That's how we got into this fix, where our living standard is in decline, our government commits mass murder in multiple far away countries without bothering to ask us or even tell us and the next generation's future is dim.

The only way our political system will change is if we the people decide there's a need to change it and if we can then figure out how to use our tremendous inherent power by acting collectively.

This is what we should be thinking about. If you let yourself be distracted by anything else you're just wasting your time. You're just making things worse.







Tuesday, October 31, 2017

Kids Raising Kids

Evolution has it that humans reproduce during a limited part of their life span, starting at around 13 when the sex drive shoots up and remains high for a number of years, and societies adopt to this biological imperative by rationalizing it with certain norms, institutions and ways of thinking. The upshot, though, is that kids are always having kids when they're still kids, essentially.

You really don't have a say in the matter so it's no one's fault, it's evolution's fault, but kids having kids is probably one of the reasons the world is as it is. There are other reasons, but some of the other reasons, especially that have to do with the way the world ends up being organized and run by certain kinds of institutions and individuals, also have their origin in the fact that kids raise kids.

What actually are the specific effects of kids having and raising kids? A couple of caveats come to mind. One is that people don't raise kids in a vacuum. They get advice from parents, grandparents, experts and others including people like me who never had kids. But parents and especially the prime caregiver exert the most influence on kids, and those parents are still at right around the juvenile stage of emotional-intellectual development.

Something to consider here is how grandparents treat their grandkids. Grandparents have had time to reflect on how they raised their own kids. They are aware at some level that their children are the result of how they raised them. Grandparents are known for showering grandkids with affection if not "spoiling" them. Is that because grandparents realize how important affection is to a child?

Before you get lost in that big maze of popularized emotionalized psuedo scientific rationalization that we spend our life in, remember that all this, from having kids to helping raise grandkids, we do because of our ego; it's one of many things our ego does to further itself and our image of ourself. There's nothing we do that doesn't have a selfish motive, OK? Including having kids, including helping with the grandkids, including what I'm doing. But what about love? you ask. Do we do nothing for altruistic, unselfish reasons? Well, yes, there is a crazy little thing called love. It's our ego purring to itself and thinking, 'This situation looks good. This situation has benefits for us.' It pleases us to receive and to give love. Specifically, it pleases our ego.



Humans as they've been constructed for the past hundred or so thousand years are what will soon be an unforgotten waystation on evolution's long winding road to perfection will this kids raising kids dynamic ever change? Will the parameters change? Will kids get wisdom sooner? Will people eventually start having children later? Or earlier? Stay tunee. Those things  can change fairly rapidly during times of crises.

We can make a forecast based on what we know and feel, is all, but it's likely to be wrong. One thousand years hence surviving humans will look back at us as we look back at those who came one thousand years before us and marvel at the beliefs and world views we constructed out of the naive and self serving crap we believed we believed.

For all we know the universe could be a watermelon floating somewhere between the kitchen and the dining room table. Most of what goes on in it is far beyond our ability to sense let alone understand. As far as we've figured out so far, we have sense organs that react to a small sliver of the energy types that exist and are around us all the time, and out of just that small sliver of awareness our little imagination has concocted its universe.


Looking at things this way is often called reductionist thinking, where reductionism represents oversimplification; minimizing to the point of obscuring or distorting. It's said to lead to  nihilism, believing in nothing.

It's said so by people who believe in things, of course. But by people who have beliefs, and perhaps fear examining them, and perhaps have an ego that prevents it. Thinking this way can seem dreary, but it can also be thought of as clearing away obstacles to our getting things done. It can be thought of as taking a realistic look at who we are, where we're at, and how change actually happens and why.





Friday, October 27, 2017

Thursday, October 19, 2017

Africom

The US mainstream media is busy asking itself what the four US servicemen who died in Niger recently were doing in Niger. Ignorance in our media is rampant. They only have to be slightly more well informed than the general public, so they're pretty ignorant.

The political class has nothing to do but read up on things and order underlings to make reports about things and brief them on things, but I'm pretty sure 99.9 percent of Americans have never heard of Africom. It's one of nine commands -- which are how our military forces around the world are organized geographically: the European Command, Central Command, Pacific Command, Southern Command, etc.



In the media that I read, Africom has been known about since it was created in 2006 and I assume military fanatics also have media outlets that talk about Africom. It was created to counter China, which has been busy forming alliances and making inroads in Africa since it became a wealthy manufacturing nation. China has been building dams, bridges, highways, hospitals, schools, etc., all over Africa. The US used to do foreign relations that way, but now that the political class has adopted Reaganomics, which has practically eliminated taxes for corporations and the wealthy, they no longer do foreign policy that way.

US foreign policy is based on our military might. It's almost exclusively about waging violence and death and destruction upon countries where brown skinned people live. We always have money for the military. Democrats and Republicans cut taxes for the rich and lavish the military and military contractors. Our two New Mexico Democrat senators joined most of their colleagues a few weeks ago in voting for a military budget that swells military spending by $700 billion -- that's right, increases it by that much -- most of which will go to contractors who line the pockets of both parties.

China and the US are interested in Africa, of course, because of those vast deposits of oil that were discovered not too long ago, and Africa generally has amazing mineral wealth -- such as gold, diamonds, and rare minerals that aren't found anywhere else, like tantalite, for example, which is used in smart phones.

Americans, including the media, know nothing of any of this, and you never hear a single word about it from our elected officials, who stand back and watch us whine about Trump and scream at one another about whether people should be forced to stand for the national anthem or not, and then go play tennis and dine and party with each other irrespective of political affiliation.

Incidentally, the Democratic Party's national committee just purged many of its progressive members -- i.e. people who think Democrats should look out for the interests of working people and the poor. This makes sense. I've been reading here and there that Democrats are prepared to start making big cuts to Medicaid. They'll keep their identity politics coalition intact by saving Social Security and Medicare, in some form at least, but as far as Democrats are concerned poor people are expendable, not worth even considering. At least they're not bombing them and destroying their homes, hospitals and schools and killing them by the hundreds of thousands. So far.






Sunday, October 8, 2017

Change

Despite everybody freaking out about what would happen when Trump was elected president, things haven't changed, according to two articles I came across today.

I've been going further, saying we're better off with Trump than Clinton and providing evidence, but for the sake of argument let us go with the words of Michael Dougherty of the mainstream, conservative National Review, who talks about how US foreign policy is the same under Trump and with those of independent journalist Caitlin Johnstone, who talks more about domestic politics.

You can come up with a long list off the top of your head. Our military is still involved in the same seven wars Obama was waging. Wealth and income inequality are getting worse, just as under Obama. Both major political parties are married to big business, the environment is getting worse, and racist cops still execute poor people, especially poor people of color, and get away with it virtually every time, all of which were the case under Obama, and the deep state is still there and our government is still spying in us.

Of course none of these things matter to those Hillary voters who still haven't accepted what happened to them. In their minds the world will end any day if it hasn't already. They think we've become a disgrace to the world, as if our government has suddenly flipped and done a 180 and as if we weren't already a warmongering bully of a nation that under Democrat and Republicans alike sucks the blood out of whatever place and whatever people we decide are too vulnerable to resist out mighty killing machine of a military that sucks more money from our pockets than do the next ten biggest militaries combined -- more than the combined total of Russia plus China plus eight more.

The disillusioned Hillary voters, being blind to the fact that the nation has been just as unequal and just as warmongering under Democrats as Republicans, cannot see and cannot admit that the betrayal of the Democrats make them the worse culprit. We depended on them and they let us down. We did  what we were told. Vote. We voted for Democrats and they sat silent while the Republicans said and did as they pleased.

There's another practical reason we're better off without Hillary. When a Democrat is president all the environmental and social justice groups shut down. The well paid people who run these organizations never say anything against the Liberals who invite them to the big beltway parties and have them out to their yacht on the Potomac, and the working class people who support the high living predators stop giving money because they think the Democrats have their backs when they don't.

But because Hillary lost, people are in the streets in record numbers. Outside groups of all kinds are starting up or growing rapidly, steadily building the power we need to bring about change, which, remember, always comes from outside the political system. We've been being distracted by the political infighting that goes under the guise of party politics. We're not taught and don't know that it wasn't the political system that brought change it was the Labor Movement, the Civil Rights Movement, the Women's Movement, the Black and Brown and Red Power movements, the Environmental Movement. They forced change on the political-corporate system.

Government was set up to prevent significant change, so you can't blame Democrats and Republicans for doing what they were created to do which is to protect the interests of the ruling class. But change is afoot and you see already that Democrats and Republicans alike are changing their tunes. Republicans left Obamacare in place and Democrats are talking about universal health care. They know.

We are the ones who bring about change. Trump tried but he hasn't anywhere near the power the establishment does. But we do, much more, in fact. We, our outside pressure, brought about the New Deal and ended the Depression. We ended the Vietnam War and we made people respect minorities and women and the environment. If you don't know that yet you ought to.











Friday, October 6, 2017

The Race War And Capitalism

A reporter who writes for the snotty toned conservative web site Daily Wire posted a tweet about football player Marcus Peters along with a picture of Peters sitting on a bench. Below is his tweet, followed by a reply by actor/comedian Richie Loco that's been re-tweeted more than 100 times as much as the original tweet.



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Under Trump, racism is getting to be where it's not disguised behind code words as much. It's more out in the open. That's where it should be and it's another reason we're better off with Trump than we'd have been with Clinton. For many years Republicans used racism through code words while Democrats, like the Clintons, and the media looked the other way. They call it "dog whistle" politics because they still can't bring themselves to call it racism.

So far no one has really been called out to any degree for this monumental cowardice and complicity in racism on the part of the liberal establishment. On the other hand, Democrats and the media are being called out for their abandonment of the working class to become water boys for Wall Street.

The calling out, and the public's awareness and knowledge, is happening largely through social media, where things that "go viral" are often more widely seen and heard than the official propaganda put out through the media and official government and corporate channels.

But social media now is also spreading Marxism, an analysis that brings to light the interrelations between Capitalism and racism. Connections are being made, and as more people understand them, the role racism plays in furthering Capitalism is becoming better understood.

Besides being a simple and effective way of dividing the working class, racism helps justify a fundamental ideological pillar of Capitalism; that people posses different amounts of wealth because they have different amounts of natural ability.

This article fleshes out these and other connections between racism and Capitalism. A similar and shorter article by economist Richard Wolff also explains why prisons are so full of Black people -- it's how the consequences of making Black people bear the brunt of Capitalism's inequality are managed. All these connections will become better known as Socialism and the Marxist philosophy behind it gain in influence, and that will only bolster the struggle against racism.

These relationships between racism and Capitalism is new to some of these young Socialists and other converts from identity politics, but despite being rancorous at times, the discussions being had are helping educate everyone. Different Socialist and Communist sects have given different weight to the race question, some not enough, so even old Socialists like me are learning a thing or two.