Friday, February 16, 2018

Good Democrat

Updated 12:33 A.M. 180217

Newly sworn in Philadelphia district attorney Phil Crasner sued ten big pharmaceutical companies today for their role in causing the city's opiod epidemic.

Before being elected in November Crasner was a defense attorney known for his civil rights cases which included 75 lawsuits against police. In 2011 he won a $200k settlement against Philadelphia on behalf of 50 Occupy protestors for false arrest and violating their first amendment rights after Occupy camps around the country were stormed by police under President Obama's orders.

Crasner got a lot of help campaigning from Bernie Sanders supporters and was called the Bernie Sanders of the DA race. In other words he's not like today's Democrats. Today's Democrats don't go after big pharma. Today's Democrats take money from big pharma and in return protect big pharma's financial interests.

We're going to be having fewer and fewer of these Democrats who say to hell with the Americans who die every day for lack of affordable medicine and more of the kind who put the peoples' interests ahead of their own selfish ambitions. And when the clintonite neoliberals who sold us down the river the last 30 years are gone their corporation bought and paid for policies will go with them.

Thursday, February 15, 2018

Let Them Throw Their Guns At Each Other

Updated below 2/16/18 6:30 p.m. MT

I've heard it said that you'd never be able to round up all the guns in this country. Forget about the guns. If you want to stop the massacre of children ban ammunition.

Ammunition has a shelf life because gunpowder slowly but surely absorbs moisture until it's too damp to ignite. You can theoretically keep it dry forever but with most ammunition the metal in the shells eventually corrodes enough to let moisture in. I mean, how many things do you see around today from even, say, the 1980s that are in perfect condition?

So ban ammo and then just wait. Fewer and fewer people will have dry ammo and there will be more and more people who want it. The black market price will be astronomical and the people who want ammo will just kill each other off maybe.

By the way, I do have a sawed off shotgun and if they rounded up all the guns I'd turn it in. Some places have tried gun buyback programs and Democrats have proposed national buyback programs. Some say they only net old and damaged guns but I've not seen any one way or another.

Speaking of sawed off shotguns, we always said they were illegal but they sell them that way now, it appears to me. They just take one of their lower priced models and put a short barrel on it. I bough this Mossberg 12 gauge pump with an 18 inch barrel from a pawn shop. Maybe a real sawed off is shorter but not very much. I guess if it could if it was a double barrel without that all that mechanism.

I once vowed never to own a gun again. I had a shotgun when I was younger and killed some ducks and geese and a few squirrels and rabbits and a pheasant or two but eventually gave that gun to my brother in law for doing my taxes.

I became a complete pacifist. But nowadays I wonder if it might not be a good idea for us to have guns.

It will take massive numbers of working class people acting in unison and literally forcing the ruling class hand over their money and power,. They won't hand it over unless it's absolutely life and death, that is the deaths of us and of military and law enforcement. They will have to join us. But some will stay on the other side. If massive numbers of people in the streets isn't enough it may come down to some guerilla warfare here and there until the ruling class can no longer feed their protectors.

Tuesday, February 13, 2018


I'm enjoying seeing what people in their teens and twenties are up to these days. With the explosion of interest in Leftist ideologies like Socialism and Anarchism there's are now a whole lot of people who are in opposition to the Capitalist establishment. That becomes part of their identities and also unleashes a lot of creativity, as it did in the 1960s, during the Beat Generation, and other times of change.

I came of age during the 1960s and 70s, a time of tremendous cultural and stylistic and intellectual activity. Because of the Counterculture, the New Left, the Black Power movement, the Women's Movement and a whole constellation of oppositional sub cultures many people were simultaneously becoming aware of the vast universes outside the limited world of the status quo they were used to.

It was exciting. Ideas fed off one another. Inspiration was everywhere and every day something new blew our minds -- new music, new fashion, the Beatles, Twiggy, polka dots, hip huggers, wig hats, tie dye and countless other ways in which  new ideas were spawned and expressed. Women, and Black people, and all kinds of people were doing and thinking and becoming all kinds of things the establishment seriously disapproved of.

And then came the backlash, and it kept growing until finally last year Donald Trump exploded it and now little pieces of it are flying all around us all the time and it's freaking a lot of people out. But here's the thing. The backlash didn't mean that all of the advances and gains went away. Most of those outlandish things we came up with became part of the culture at large. They are who we are now.

Yes, we have a lot of bad stuff right now and it seems really bad because it's unfamiliar. It's not the bad stuff we replaced. It's different. It still emanates from the same bad impulses that caused us to come up with bad stuff in the first place because those impulses are part of human nature, but it seems worse now.

Fear and insecurity blind us to the fact that some of the new bad stuff isn't as bad as it was. Black people aren't being lynched. Women can divorce their husbands. Gays can marry and adopt children, etc, etc, etc. But Nazis feel free to show their faces in public now and sometimes enough of them assemble in one place to make it easy for the media and opinion makers to make us think we're being overrun by evil and think it's all falling apart. It isn't. They always say empires eventually fall, but people don't go anywhere. Places like Russia and China have experienced upheaval after upheaval over the centuries and are still there.

These kids are brighter and more sophisticated than we were, too. These electronics help them in that. They're more advanced. They catch on faster. They consume information quickly and assimilate it into a better understanding of the world.

Much of the credit for that goes to us. We created the material condition s that made them what they are. The environment that has nurtured, scarred, and otherwise made them who they are was our doing. 

We sometimes harp about change and lapse into fondness for olden days. Until you get used to change you have a reaction to it. But at the same time older people are mixing it up with young people online. There's even a thing now called Ageism. It's not good manners to discriminate against people because of age, either.

I saw some interesting comments on a Facebook post tonight from two women of my generation. One said Donald Trump is a dick and the other said he's spineless and dickless. That way of publicly speaking is new for women, and it's because of the influence of young women who cuss as part of their normal discourse and otherwise make plain to everybody that they are in no way limited in what they can do.

Those olden days you yearn for don't really exist. They are a creation of our mind, and they keep evolving, changing. And the young peole are imagining and trying to create a world. It will be a different one than we imagined but we're part of it. We helped create it, too, by making the world these kids grew up in. Congratulations and hang on to something.

Saturday, February 10, 2018

Resisting The Resistance

Health care industry lobbyist and corporate Democrat Howard Dean lobbies his old pals in government and tries to shoot down anything that might impede the industry from piling up of bloated boatloads of profits. Since people die every day for lack of health care it goes without saying that pissants like Dean cause people to die and should be taken to a pond and drowned. Dean even wrote op-eds opposing Obamacare.

Today he was touting a new organization called United States of Care, a new NGO created to slow down the rapidly growing momentum for single payer health care. This outfit's board is packed with health care industry CEOs and conservative former politicians. It calls for talk and study, the textbook delay tactic for people who want to oppose something without having to say so.

Every day you see more and more tweets and posts by people who say they will not vote for any Democrat who doesn't support single payer. Democrats know the danger in this. Not the party's leadership, of course. They're still purging Bernie Sanders supporters and sabotaging Bernie type candidates and will protect Wall Street's profits until they're dead, but Sanders' Medicare For All single payer bill been co-sponsored by almost every Democrat who plans a future run for president.

Speaking of Democrats, if you want to know how often your senators and representatives vote with our current president and not against him, Nate Silver has a handy chart. Many of them are "resisting" in word only.

Wednesday, February 7, 2018

Ths History Of History

Louis Adamic's Dynamite: The Story of Class Violence in America only goes up to 1930 but many people say it's still the best history of the American Labor Movement we have.

That's because after 1930 the Labor Movement became something else. By 1930 Labor had become a force in America's economic and political life. Enough so that it would eventually raise the living standards of the American working class, not just union members but everybody, to the highest level in world history. It would compel congress to pass the legislation known of as the New Deal, most of which had been planks in the platforms of various Socialist parties that had elected hundreds of people to local and state offices and even to congress by then.

Not long after 1930 however, in 1936, Labor made a bad deal with the Democratic Party and from then on the story of the Labor Movement becomes a different story. As part of its one-sided deal with Democrats, Labor purged all of its Communist and Socialist members, betrayed its Socialist origins, began to support US Capital's imperialist wars on working class people in other countries. and began colluding with government agencies like the CIA in Western Capitalism's permanent assault on Communism and Socialism.

In Dynamite Adamic tells the story of how people living in a certain set of conditions, that included sleeping next to their machines and coming to work to find their pay had been cut in half, organized and used their collective power to improve their conditions.  Labor Movement history after that is the story of what happens when the conditions that led the people to organize and rise up changed or went away.

People move on, they die, they forget. Even of they tell the people who come along later what it was like, its not like living under those conditions yourself.

When the working class finally rebels against the viscous, Neoliberal Capitalism we're living under, whether it only exacts a list of concessions from Capitalism or overthrows it completely, a new set of conditions will come into being. Deals will be made, people will forget, they'll realize the new boss is just like the old boss, and there will be another uprising.

In other words, we're really missing the point. Take the example of racism. We tend to think of racism as something white people do to black people, as if racism has something to do with how white people are put together, as if white people are somehow different than black people, which is a textbook definition of racism -- attributing characteristics to someone based on their race.

We're either equal or we're not. We're either human beings who have something in us that becomes or causes racism -- however that works -- or we don't.

In the Rwandan genocide of the 1990s, one group of black people slaughtered another group of black people. They did it because they could. They had the power to do it. White people have power over black people in the United States, but if and when the power dynamics are reversed we'll be talking about black racism. It's the same thing with sexism and with all the rest of it. We're missing the point because we're looking in the wrong place.

Friday, February 2, 2018

Orange Dogs

This chart shows where the "progressive" potential Democratic 2020 presidential candidates get their money. Blue is from small donors. Orange is from corporations:

Bernie Sanders gets most of his money from the working class whereas Corey Booker gets almost all of his from the fat cats, the ruling class.

And these are just the "progressives," the people the establishment considers to be on the far left. The average corporate Democrat's intake looks much like Booker's.

This graph from the Pew Foundation shows the result of ruling class control of our politics and economy.

The bottom line is actual wages. The top line is inflation adjusted wages. No one really disputes these facts. There's no need to because MSNBC and the rest of the corporation owned media never talk about things like this. Your smiling Democrat politicians won't talk about them, either. Have you ever seen charts like this on the web site or social media feed of any Democrat? Nope.

Imagine how much popular support Democrats could be building for policies that would make things more fair and equal if they talked about pocket book issues like this instead of talking about Trump and Russiagate all the time.

Democrats, of course, don't want popular support to build for that kind of legislation because the corporations they get their campaign money from will stop giving it to them.

Note: The top chart is from a well researched article by Michael Corcoran that shows how the Democratic Party is freezing out progressive candidates as the 2018 elections approach. After the 2016 Democratic primaries in which Sanders and Hillary Clinton split the vote 44-56 the party promised its "Sanders wing" that it would make changes to its undemocratic primary process, which would allow candidates who reflect the will of the people to get nominated, but since then the proposed reforms have been quashed one by one.

Now the Democratic Party is actively purging progressive candidates by denying them funds, keeping them out of debates and even, in one case, by filing a lawsuit against a candidate. The Intercept reports that the party is elbowing out candidates who can't raise big corporate money. Instead of letting these newly engaged and enthusiastic people, who support policies supported by big majorities of Democrats and even by most Republicans, the party is pushing hand-picked, fiscally conservative, corporate friendly candidates onto the people, once more. 

Republican control of federal and state governments is likely to continue into the foreseeable future while the ongoing efforts of the working class to organize itself outside the two corporatist parties continues. Republican control is nominally worse than Democrat control but that's only for Americans. Of the two US parties Democrats wage far more war than Republicans. There are literally thousands of Syrians who are alive today only because Hillary Clinton isn't president.

Many Americans fret that America's role as a global leader is being undermined by President Trump, but America has fulfilled that role primarily by leading the world into regime change wars in order to open up markets for American Capitalism and feed a military industrial complex that literally eats the country alive -- half the US budget is wasted on its war machine. In other words America's decline is only bad for American's self esteem. It's good news for the world, and the ruling class doesn't much care because again, it makes out very well whichever of its two parties is in power.

Monday, January 29, 2018

The Stulls


At Uncle George's House near North Liberty. L to R: Agnes Conway, Maurice Conway, Marge Stull, Bob Conway, Sandy Mortenson, Bill Conway, George Stull, Frank Conway.

So that's Mom and Dad on the left and the kids are my brothers and sister, another of which came along later. The photo and caption were posted by brother Bob, who has been collecting some of the family photos particularly the side Mom, Agnes Stull, is from. We saw Stulls fairly often being they all lived in a 40 or 50 mile radius of each other in southern Michigan and northern Indiana. Out in the country and scattered around South Bend. Mostly farmers.

The Stulls are 2nd generation German. Mom's grandparents came from places in Germany like Baden state. Dad's family is half German so we're German along with more than half the US population last I knew who collectively absolve themselves of their Germanness by never mentioning it. I've studied German history extensively so don't have any problem being German. They have a gloried history., and they are who we, Americans, basically are. We are of them. All Europeans are. The Angles, Saxons, Jutes, Kelts, Franks, etc., were germanic tribes and German history is essentially European history. We in the US are Anglocentric to the extreme and know mostly English history if anything, and a little of Spain. The history of the Middle Ages is basically German history, when the Catholic Church owned roughly half of Europe and dozens of German princes owned the rest and they were duking it out and the Reformation happened. Martin Luther was a German priest. I was stationed in Mainz, the capital of Europe in the Middle Ages. It was the seat of the archbishop who during those times was more powerful than the pope. He named the Holy Roman Emporer. The archbishop's cathedral in downtown Mainz is 1,000 years old. Down on the banks of the Rhine his quarter mile long palace is now the house of the state legislature of Baden-Wurtenburg.

A lot of that story is glossed over in textbooks. I of course saw it but  got understanding of it by reading a lot after the fact. Libraries stock good histories of all types and those big 8 and 10 volume histories like Will and Ariel Durant wrote always have a lot of it, too.

Note: If you're in Germany , Mainz cathedral is worth seeing. That whole Rhine wine growing area, too. The cathedral is one of the three great Romanesque cathedrals of Germany, all on the Rhine, which was basically the only road back then and was why Germany was what it was.

The other two cathedrals are at Worms and Speyer. The one at Speyer may be the most beautiful thing I've ever seen. I stopped inside the door and my eyes were drawn to the long multi arched ceiling. Its light sky like color caused massive refraction of light that lit the entire place up. It seemed to draw you up. The feelings I was having weren't just from the lighting or the ancient paintings everywhere and the world class stained glass but came from the very shape of the space. Romanesque cathedrals have the same shape as a Roman temple, for which they are named, a very harmonious space. I kid you not I almost wept. Do a Google search for "Speyer cathedral ceiling" for inside views and for outside views "Speyer cathedral."

From the outside:

The Co-op Coffee Effect

Two articles have grabbed my attention of late. The first is a fascinating, to me, take on the state of our American nation written by Umair Haque, a former business writer who now writes philosophical books.

Sociologists and other kinds of academics will talk about how societies develop different kinds of pathologies, or illnesses, but Haque says that ours has developed some serious, never before seen sicknesses, and that they are the "human costs," of our tremendously unequal and violent society and emanate from the "despair, rage, and anxiety of living in a collapsing society." An example he uses is our mass shootings, which other countries don't have. It's not just that we have them but it's how we've come to react. After shaking our heads at the latest massacre we forget it and move on. We accept them as the usual course of events. This is not the behavior of a well people.

America, though having fallen short of its potential, is still a a unique, one of a kind country that has pioneered new ways of organizing and running a nation and a society, so it stands to reason we'd come up with unique pathologies. Despite being very interesting, the article isn't pleasant reading, but if Haque is on to something we'll have to understand it to do something about it. My brother Bob alerted me to the article.

The second article, re-posted on Twitter by Dennis Kucinich, is by New York magazine writer Eric Levitz and has the apt title Democrats Paid a Huge Price for Letting Unions Die.

It lists the things you always hear me saying about how Democrats sold out the Labor Movement but it also cites a study by two profs that found Democrats have given Republicans a built in 3.5 percent advantage in elections because they sold out the unions.

In New Mexico, of course, most Democrats won't even use the word "union." I've been tracking our federal legislative delegation for years now and they just stopped using the word. Most of them have even quit putting out traditional Labor Day messages. These are goddamn Democrats, or so they call themselves. They ain't the kind of Democrats we used to have.

They make themselves look ridiculous, in a way. My US Rep Michelle Grisham posted a picture on social media of an appearance she made with a union in Washington, DC, but in the caption she called the union an "organization." She's posted pictures of a campaign appearance she made at a local restaurant to meet members of a local union, whose endorsement and money she was soliciting, without even mentioning that it was a union, and the dummies still endorse her and give her money.

Our Senator Martin Heinrich not only does not issue a Labor Day statement any more, he's gone through his senate web site and scrubbed it of all of his past Labor Day statements. It's very strange. I was looking through the old posts for something and it's not just the union mentions that are gone. It's all gone. He has no past. There is stuff there, but it's PR fluff. There's nothing of substance.

It appears he's deleted everything that might conceivably get in the way of him running for president or that, more to the point, might get in the way of him raking in mega campaign dollars when he does run. He's one of today's Democrats.

Friday, January 26, 2018

Crimea Days


This cute little meme brings to mind another case of naked aggression by the US. Its regime change operation in Ukraine, the coup against the elected president that brought neo Nazis to power. The preident's offense was to be in the way of the massive US power grab that was taking place, the further expansion of NATO in its nearly completed encirclement of Russia's borders.

You'll recall that in the face of this and after moves by the neo Nazis to legalize discrimination against them, Crimeans voted overwhelmingly to secede from Ukraine, and to become part of Russia but there was an interm period where there was a Crimean government. Poklonskaya, who had resigned from the Ukrainian prosecutor's office when the neo Nazis took over, joined The Crimean government as its chief prosecutor.

These sick Neocon bastards are dragging us into a second Cold War with Russia for their personal political and financial gain. They have the compliant assistance of the mainstream establishment including the corporate owned Democrats and corporate owned media and the corporate world itself along with its Republican mascots.

Wednesday, January 24, 2018

Hero Sandwiches

"All this comes within the context of a separate Gallup poll, published last week, which shows global confidence in U.S. leadership has fallen to a new low of just 30 percent. That’s one percentage point below China and just three points ahead of Russia."

Up until now any US president who wanted to could get half the world to go to war with him against whatever helpless third world country the US wanted to destroy at the moment. This is indicative of the naked aggression at the Center of US foreign policy and for the sake of overall humanity the less the US is able to lead the better.

Donald Trump actually campaigned on a promise of peace and when left to his own devices he's made stumbling moves in that direction, but the Washington consensus and the Russiagate obsessed Democrats are continually pressuring him to be more aggressive, and in many cases Trump has succumbed to the pressure. It's not like it would be if competent, warmongering, well versed Neocon Hillary Clinton was in charge but it's not good.

Many people, of course, are freaking out about the loss of stature the US is suffering under Trump. That's because they feel it's a reflection on them. That's the problem with nationalism, which we like to call patriotism. It causes you to identify with a nation, and in our case it's one controlled by crooks who are only out to fleece us. Their control means that Americans line up behind their leaders savagery and and react in fear to the McCarthyite scare tactics they use. But tell a patriot it's the US that encircles the globe with 1,000 bases and has wars going in eight countries and intervenes in other countries' affairs more than all other countries put together and they look at you as if you're speaking in an alien tongue.

A famous line from a Bertolt Brecht play goes, Unhappy the land that has no heroes. It elicits the reply, No, unhappy the land that needs heroes.

We don't need heroes. We need to regain our own agency, but nationalism saps us of the will to act against the powers that be. It's time to get radicalized and declare yourself a citizen of the world and seek common cause with your real brothers and sisters who are not in Washington or on Wall Street.

(Updated Friday Jan 26)