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Sunday, March 29, 2015

Miss Republican

 I've been writing about the increasingly rightward drift of conservative Democratic 1st District representative Michelle Grisham, who I think is positioning herself to pull a Susana Martinez and ditch the Democratic Party to try to unseat one of our two Democratic senators, and today the Albuquerque Journal provides some of the details.

Grisham hanging with Republican congressman Kevin Yoder

Note that in this Journal account of recent votes in congress Grisham votes with conservative Republican Steve Pearce much more often than she does with Democrat Ben Lujan. Grisham not only voted against the budget put forth by the Progressive Caucus but also against one put forward by the Black Caucus, joining Pearce in opposing budgets that tend to the needs of the working class, which should be her natural constituency, instead of the wealthy. Lujan voted for both the Progressive and Black caucus budgets.

Incidentally, the Journal, a conservative, Republican paper, endorsed Grisham for re-election and always gives her plenty of favorable coverage in comparison to other Democrats.

This is copied directly from the Journal article.

Contact your legislators at the U.S. Capitol
Zip codes: House 20515, Senate 20510
Capitol operator: (202) 224-3121
Ben Ray Luján (D)
Steve Pearce (R)
Michelle Lujan Grisham (D)

BIPARTISAN HEALTH-CARE CHANGES: Voting 392 for and 37 against, the House on March 26 passed a bill (HR 2) drafted by Republican and Democratic leaders that would set higher reimbursement levels based on quality of care for doctors who treat Medicare patients.
The bill would also extend the Children’s Health Insurance Program for two years on a budget of $39.7 billion and fund rural and urban community health centers for two years at a cost of $7.2 billion.

The bill is projected to cost $200 billion over 10 years, with $140 billion to be deficit spending.
$35 billion coming from Medicare premium hikes on well-off seniors and the remainder raised through a variety of fees and cost-cutting measures.

The bill also would apply “Hyde Amendment” restrictions on the funding of abortion services provided by community health centers.

A yes vote was to send the bill to the Senate, where it stands a chance of passage.


10-YEAR REPUBLICAN BUDGET: Voting 228 for and 199 against, the House on March 25 approved a 10-year Republican fiscal plan (H Con Res 27) that seeks to balance the federal budget by fiscal 2024.

This blueprint rules out tax increases and relies on mostly unspecified tax and spending cuts to reach balance, leaving decisions affecting trillions of dollars to House committees.

The GOP budget would reduce spending by $5.5 trillion over 10 years through steps such as slashing domestic programs; converting Medicaid, the Children’s Health Insurance Program and food stamps to state-run block-grant programs; repealing the Dodd-Frank financial-regulation law; imposing work requirements onable-bodied adults as a condition of receiving certain federal benefits; devolving K-12 education programs to state and local governments; changing Medicare to a voucher program for persons now younger than 56 and repealing the Affordable Care Act without offering a specific replacement.

This budget would set 2016 federal spending at $3.79 trillion and provide $619 billion for defense.

It would reduce Highway Trust Fund payments to states; cut the top individual tax rate from 39.6 percent to 25 percent; reduce the corporate rate from 35 percent to 25 percent and cut taxes on corporate profits earned overseas.

The budget anticipates that Congress will reform the tax code to finance its tax cuts but offers no specifics on how that should be done.

A yes vote was to adopt the Republican budget.


DEMOCRATIC BUDGET PLAN: By a vote of 160 for and 264 against, the House on March 25 defeated a Democratic budget that differed from the main GOP plan (H Con Res 27, above) by not seeking balance while spending far more for education, job training, early childhood intervention, scientific and medical research, transportation, infrastructure repair, environmental protection and other domestic programs.

This budget would continue the Affordable Care Act, Medicare, Medicaid, food stamps and other safety-net programs as presently structured while ending special-interest tax breaks in a way that would raise $1.8 trillion over 10 years from corporations and wealthy individuals.
The Democratic blueprint would keep defense spending within statutory budget caps.

A yes vote was to adopt the Democratic budget.


CONSERVATIVES’ BUDGET PLAN: Voting 132 for and 294 against, the House on March 25 defeated a 10-year budget authored by the conservative Republican Study Committee that would reach balance three years earlier than the mainstream GOP budget (H Con Res 27) would get there.

This plan proposed deep cuts in domestic discretionary spending and entitlement programs.
It would repeal the Affordable Care Act, and unlike the mainstream GOP budget, it offered a replacement healthcare law.

Also in contrast to the mainstream plan, the conservative budget stayed clear of off-budget tactics for increasing the Pentagon budget.

The entire $6.4 trillion that it proposed for military operations over 10 years would be subjected to the regular appropriations process.

A yes vote was to adopt the Republican Study Committee budget.


PROGRESSIVES’ BUDGET PLAN: Voting 96 for and 330 against, the House on March 25 defeated an alternative to H Con Res 27 (above) offered by the Congressional Progressive Caucus.

With an emphasis on helping middle- and low-income families and workers, this so-called “People’s Budget” proposed to begin universal pre-K education, end tax breaks for companies that send jobs overseas, permanently extend the earned-income and child tax credits, raise taxes on the wealthy, increase funding for education and job-training programs, relieve student debt, increase spending to repair roads and bridges, raise the minimum wage and expand the use of renewable energy to address climate change.

This budget did not increase military spending or seek to reach balance over 10 years.


BLACK CAUCUS BUDGET PLAN: Voting 120 for and 306 against, the House on March 25 defeated an alternative to H Con Res 27 (above) offered by the Congressional Black Caucus.
This plan would reduce annual deficits by $1.9 trillion over 10 years while ending the sequester and robustly funding programs for science, technology, engineering and mathematics (STEM) as well as programs to boost road and bridge construction, small businesses, manufacturing, affordable housing, job training, voting rights and the social safety net.

This plan would increase the minimum wage and raise taxes on the wealthy, and unlike the mainstream GOP budget, it would continue traditional fee-for-service Medicare.

A yes vote was to adopt the Black Caucus budget.


Martin Heinrich (D)
Tom Udall (D)

10-YEAR REPUBLICAN BUDGET: Voting 52 for and 46 against, the Senate on March 26 approved a Republican- drafted budget (S Con Res 11) for fiscal 2016-2025 that would boost military spending, repeal the Affordable Care Act, retain traditional Medicare, prohibit tax increases, slash spending for entitlement and domestic programs, convert Medicaid and food stamps to state-run block-grant programs and require an unspecified reform of the tax code.
This budget would reduce non-defense discretionary and entitlement spending by $4.7 trillion over 10 years with the aim of balancing the federal budget by 2025.

To help reach that goal, the budget requires $1.2 trillion in unspecified cuts in entitlement programs and assumes over $1 trillion in new revenue will materialize to replace revenue lost by repealing the 2010 health-care law.

A yes vote was to adopt the Republican budget.


STUDENT-LOAN REFINANCING: Voting 46 for and 53 against, the Senate on March 25 defeated an amendment to S Con Res 11 (above) that would allow up to 40 million borrowers to refinance their student loans down to interest rates prevailing in the 2013-2014 academic year.

Those now holding Stafford undergraduate loans at 6.8 percent or higher, for example, could refinance to 3.86 percent.

To offset its $5 billion-plus annual cost, the amendment would impose a 30 percent minimum tax on households with at least $1 million in income from salaries and/or investments.

A yes vote was to make room the 10-year GOP budget for student-loan refinancing.


Note: I've also written about Grisham doing things that could be intrepeted as trying to gain favor with Republicans, such as voting with them recently when they tried to hold Homeland Security funding hostage in an attempt to block immigration reforms President Obama had enacted by executive order, or when she snubbed the president by attending a speech organized by Republicans by Israeli Prime minister Bibi Netanyahu intended to embarrass the president and to undermine his negotiations with Iran over its nuclear program..

Grisham also posts pictures to her Facebook page of herself schmoozing with congressional Republicans.

Grisham and Republican Rep Frank Lucas

Grisham and Republican Rep Kevin Yoder

Saturday, March 28, 2015

Post Melissa Deindustrialization

I'd gone for an evening ride on my new 2000 Moto Guzzi motorcycle with my then girlfriend Melissa on the back. We ended up crusing through downtown Kenosha when I noticed we were riding along a brand new trolley car line.

I was living in Kenosha, WI, in the late 90s and early 00s. I'd ended up in Wisconsin when I moved to Racine, a few miles north of Kenosha, to move in with Sandy, a woman I met on the internet. If you saw her, you'd understand. If you'd spent the night with her, you'd start packing. Why is it that the more beautifual a woman is the more uninhibited she is in bed? I don't know, but it's true. But when that ended, there I was, in Wisconsin. I'd gotten a pretty good job driving local in the Chicago area and had actually bought a house in Kenosha, a big hundred year old hip roofed house that looked like an old farm house the town had grown up around, that someone had converted to a duplex at some point.

Joseph McCarthy Transit center - looking toward downtown - across vacant lots

The trolley tracks made a little loop around the downtown lakefront area, which is practically deserted except for the city's lakefront development project with "upscale housing" and hopefully someday shopping and includes a marina full of sail boats owned mostly by people from the Chicago area who summer or live in Wisconsin. Kenosha, on Lake Michigan, has become basically a big bedroom community. It's at the far north end of the greater Chicago area and 40 percent of the the people of Kenosha work in Illinois.

It didn't used to be like that. Kenosha used to be a two-fisted, smoky Lake Michigan port, full of industry and economic activity, one of those old industrial towns you see all over the Midwest that's fallen, as they say, on hard times. Before deindustrialization. Deunionization. Outsourcing. Reaganomics. Jobs shipped overseas.

Those cities, for awhile anyway, tried various ways to revitalize themselves. They tried to recruit new industry, with land incentives and tax free economic districts and promises in lieu of taxes schemes. Downtowns were converted to pedestrian malls to try to bring back shoppers from the malls and big box stores. Sometimes they built convention centers, like the infamous one in Flint, MI, featured in Michael Moore's breakout movie Roger and Me, that drew no conventions and closed in a few years leaving the city even deeper in debt.

American Motors site
I followed the trolley tracks to the trolley garage, the nice new building in a post modern style pictured above. Along the front were big glass windows through which you could see the trolley garage and the brightly colored trolley cars parked inside. As we cruised past, something made me slam on the brakes. The name on the building. The Joseph McCarthy Transit Center.

Melissa saw it, too. We sat there in silence, staring.

Although she'd grown up in Mexico City, Melissa, having an American father, had dual citizenship. She'd lived in San Francisco. She was more what I thought of as world citizen. She was of the upper class and identified herself more as that than a citizen of any country. In my time with her I gained a lot of insight into that class of people. What was good for her was good. She had no moral compass whatsoever, except in an abstract intellectual sense. She told me how she had gone with her mother to take soup to the striking students in Mexico City in 1968. She was a Leftist, except when she wasn't.

But she was well informed about the US, especially its politics and culture. She knew who Joe McCarthy was and what the the McCarthy Era had been. It had gotten its name from Wisconsin senator Joe McCarthy who'd chaired one of two congressional committees, senate and house, that had conducted highly publicized Communist witch hunts in the 1950s. The committees were in practice part of Capitalism's efforts to roll back the New Deal. They were convened to root Communists out of the government -- i.e. holdovers from the Roosevelt Administration, those nasty people who came up with things like Social Security and Unemployment Insurance and created millions of jobs to get the US out of the Depression -- but the hearings ended up focusing on Hollywood and going after the many left leaning writers, actors and directors there.

American Brass workers in Kenosha
The committee members would ask those "hauled before the committee" if they were now or had ever been a member of the communist party. If they said yes, they'd be ordered to name other members.

If you refused to name names you were held in contempt, thrown in jail, and blacklisted from Hollywood. Those who didn't name names included folk singer Pete Seeger, writer Ring Lardner Jr., composer Elmer Bernstein, and the people who got together to make the iconic movie Salt of the Earth (now on youtube) about a strike at Empire Zinc Company's mine in Bayard, New Mexico, which is a good movie but is iconic primarily because it was made by people who were on the Blacklist.

If you named names, as did people like Walt Disney, or then president of the screen Actors Guild Ronald Reagan, or Burl Ives, director Elia Kazan, and writer Budd Schulberg, you were never forgotten by people on the Left, and never forgiven.

The hearings destroyed many careers and a few lives. The McCarthy Era still holds great symbolic importance for Leftists and is brought up any time anyone tries to argue that a little bit of security is worth giving up a little bit of liberty.

If you Google the Joseph McCarthy Transit center you find other people who've had the same reaction as Melissa and I did. They stop, take pictures and post them on their blogs with comments like "the only anti Communist transit center in America."

Except that it's not named after that Joe McCarthy after all, I've learned. It's named after a Jospeh McCarthy who'd directed the Kenosha Transit Department and who'd died of a heart attack while out rollerblading with his wife, whose dedications call him a "visionary," and who had come up with the idea for a trolley through downtown Kenosha.

Which is still deserted. If you drive around Kenosha you still drive by huge, open grassy areas where American Brass used to be, or where American Motors used to be, where union built Ramblers, AMC Javelins and Gremlins were made, and before those the Nash Rambler, considered the first compact car and a milestone car of the once formidable US auto industry.

1717 75th St today - the front porch was a nice place to have breakfast

Note: Being president of American Motors meant you were a prominent person. A past AMC president, George Romney, would later become Michigan's governor, and father to a kid named Mitt.

Thursday, March 26, 2015

1st District Rep. Michelle Grisham Votes With Republicans Again

Ambitious DINO May Be Eying A US Senate Seat

(Updated below at 3/27/15 10:21 a.m.)

Michelle Grisham is looking more like a Republican every day.

Yesterday she joined the GOP to vote down a Democratic budget put forth by the congressional Progressive Caucus that would have raised the federal minimum wage, given federal retirees back the money she voted to cut last year, increased child nutrition funding, restored food stamp cuts she voted for last year, and asked the rich to start contributing to our country again by putting their taxes back where they were when Bill Clinton was president -- not much to ask at all. 

Grisham joined people like right wingers Steve Pearce and Dana Rohrabacher in putting down the Democrats' alternative to the bloodthirsty Republican budget -- which based on yesterday's vote she presumably prefers -- that will gut our living standard and slash a multitude of programs for the needy to give tax breaks to the super rich. Although not all Democrats voted for the People's Budget, a majority did, but not Grisham.

Eyes On The US Senate?

Grisham's behavior could be simply that of a conservative Democrat until you consider it as a whole and in light of the political situation she faces in New Mexico.

Recall that recently -- March 2 -- Grisham voted with Republicans when they tried to use Homeland Security funding to block immigration reforms enacted by President Obama by executive order, a move that given the Democratic Party's demographic makeup is hard to fathom unless it was to ingratiate herself with Republicans intent on embarrassing the president at every opportunity.

Grisham has changed her Facebook photo to one of her wearing the red jacket traditionally worn by Republican women. Her snubbing of President Obama last month to attend a speech by Israel's hard right prime minister Benjamin Netanyahu was seen by some as pandering to deep pocketed campaign financiers. Grisham never utters the word "union" in public and has taken various other measures to distance herself from traditional Democrats and increase her fund raising potential, such as making frequent photo op appearances at large New Mexico businesses and repeatedly sponsoring legislation she then trumpets at "bipartisan," which given the uncompromising, extreme right wing nature of today's Republican Party means it's conservative legislation by definition.

An ethnic Hispanic, Grisham is aware of how Susana Martinez won high office -- Martinez beat a fellow Democrat to get elected district attorney on her way to the governorship by switching parties and running as a Republican, thereby splitting the Latino Democratic vote and picking up all the Republican vote. Grisham may see such a move as her only chance to unseat one of New Mexico's two Democratic senators, who are likely to hold their offices until they die or decide to retire -- unless Grisham runs as a Republican against one of them. If Grisham does have her eye on a US senate seat she's making all the right moves.

Update: Sure as shinola, Grisham sent out a fundraising appeal this morning that touts her "bipartisanship". Note that it doesn't criticize Republicans, only tea baggers. There's no mention of the Progressive Caucus budget that she voted down.

Dear Franklin, 
One step forward: Bipartisan passage of Medicare "Doc Fix" bill
One step back: The Tea Party Budget
Only this isn't square dancing.
I ran for Congress on the promise of building a stronger economy for all…but time and again, the Tea Party members of Congress do all they can to undermine any progress we’ve made. On Wednesday, the House passed a Tea Party budget that would give millionaires and billionaires a tax break while putting the burden on working class families.
If we’re to continue to fight back and defeat these unfair budgets, I need your continued support to stay in Congress.

Not only does the Tea Party budget raise taxes on working class families, it also:
  • Cuts funding for education,
  • Devastates Medicare and Medicaid,
  • Does nothing to rebuild our nation's crumbling infrastructure.
This budget was so extreme that the House majority even had a hard time passing it out of committee! New Mexico seniors, veterans and families can’t afford another Tea Party Congress.
Please donate whatever you can - $50, $25, $10 - before March 31st.
We need more steps forward and fewer steps back.
Thanks for your support,

Wednesday, March 25, 2015

Another Middle East Country Down The Drain, Another US Policy Failure

As Yemen disintegrates before our eyes, it's time once again to point out the fact of the colossal failure of US Middle East policy. Initiated by George W Bush and continued unabated by Barak Obama, it has left the region in ruins, and, as many on the Left warned it would at its onset -- the launching of the wars against Afghanistan and Iraq -- has caused an explosion of radical Islamic terrorism.

Supporters of anti-U.S. Houthi rebels, Sanaa, Yemen, 1/28. (Mohammed Huwais/AFP/Getty)
Afghanistan, Iraq, Libya and Syria are destroyed. The US did the first three itself, leaving behind failed states on a colossal level, and achieved the fourth with a proxy opposition in Syria. The US wages drone warfare on Somalia and Yemen. Somalia has been overrun by terrorists and Yemen is now in civil war.

The orange jump suits of the ISIS executioners are meant to recall the Muslim men the US has been torturing for over a decade at its Guantanamo Bay torture camp. The young men and women who are flocking to the Middle East to join what they see as a struggle for survival by Middle Easterners and Muslims are well aware of who their enemy is.

In a brief article Chicago attorney and De Paul University professor Leonard Goodman lays out why they hate us, not for our freedoms but for our violent Middle East policies.

Tuesday, March 24, 2015

Payback Time

American supporters of Israel's Zionist project to eradicate Palestinians from their native land are aghast at the first real pushback against Israel by a US president in decades, as President Obama and various members of his administration take advantage of Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netahyahu's demagogic campaign rhetoric to tee off on Israel's occupation of the Palestinian territories.

Although the Obama Administration has been somewhat outspoken in its criticism of Israel's relentless and ongoing theft of Palestinian land via settlement building, it has for the most part adhered to the Washington Consensus of unconditional support for Israel as it ethnically cleanses Palestine.

But it appears to be payback time for Netanyahu, who has slighted the president in various ways in word and deed during Obama's tenure including with last month's speech before a joint session of congress that Republicans used to publicly embarrass the president -- that was boycotted by NM Senator Martin Heinrich but which NM Rep Michelle Grisham  used to ingratiate herself with the Zionist Lobby by publicly snubbing the president.

For Grisham and the other Democratic members of congress who turned their backs on their president and party's leader by attending the speech and demonstrated their subservience to the Zionist Lobby the payback can't come soon enough.

Anita Darian

Multi-talented soprano Anita Darian, who provided the unforgettable counter-melody in The Tokens 1961 number one hit The Lion Sleeps Tonight,  died last month in Long Island, NY. I'd become curious about who the singer was on that song and looked it up a few weeks ago, and last night when I went to look up her name again learned of her Feb 1 death from complications during surgery.

Anita Darian during a 1962 Showboat cast recording

Darian, of Armenian descent and born in 1927 in Detroit, had a long and varied career that included Broadway, top opera companies and a solo recording career.

The song The Lion Sleeps Tonight, by the way, also has a long and varied career. Composed by a South African named Solomon Linda and first recorded by him in 1939, it was discovered and brought to America by Pete Seeger and has been recorded many, many times. I have to admit that I went on an iTunes buying binge one night and downloaded about 40 or 45 different versions of it. It was fun hearing the different ways people have done the song and I would have liked to set up some kind of a deal where I was woken up by a different version every morning. They are all good, especially some of the a capella ones; it's just a great song and apparently almost impossible to do badly. My favorite version is still The Tokens original 1961 recording, in no small part because of Darian, but not only that.

Sunday, March 22, 2015

A Telesur Article About US Government Efforts To Destgabalize Leftist Latin American Governments

An article at the Telesur (see note below) web site lays out a lot of what the US government does these days in terms of its efforts to destabilize Leftist Latin American governments. I've written about those efforts many times. They are talked about often in the Leftist media, but this article assembles a lot of it one one place and provides specific examples. Some of this makes it into the mainstream media sometimes; for example The New York Times might mention it in an article deep in the paper once in awhile. It's not a big secret except to most Americans.

Much of the US government's destabilizing work is done through a few agencies that are part of the State Department, such asThe United States Agency For International Development, USAID, and the National Endowment For Democraqcy, NED.

If you have any doubts about the ideological bent of US policy toward Latin American governments that are experimenting with Leftist or Socialist economic models, just consider the board of directors of the NED. It includes people like Elliot Abrams, a key Neocon in the Reagan and both Bush administrations who was involved trying to overthrow Nicaragua, Robert Zoellick, anotyher Bushie who served time as the president of the World Bank which has transitioned into one of the primary ways Neoliberalism (Reaganomics) is being imposed on developing countries, famed right wing author Francis Fukiyama and Moises Naim, a Venezuelan official during the days of pre Hugo Chavez oligarchic rule in that country. As I've mentioned her many times, Venezuela is one of the primary targets of destabilization efforts and the old oligarchy is the primary tool the US uses there. It controls most of the media there and is still very much in business despite some limited nationalization efforts by the Chavez and Maduro governments. The nationalizations get a lot of attention in US mainstream media which never mentions the oligarchy.

This article says that a lot of what the US government used to do clandestinely through agencies like the CIA it now does openly through agencies like NED and USAID. That might be so, but I don't believe the CIA doesn't have things going on in those countries. An agency like that doesn't just shrivel up and go away and has to keep justifying itself.

Just this week Ecuador's president Raphael Correa was talking about CIA involvement in organizing anti-government protests in his country.

US meddling in Latin America is almost as old as the US is, and few examples are listed in the article. It's important to not, though, that the meddling has always had a marked conservative ideological bent. We overthrow Leftists and install conservatives and fascists.

Similarly, in domestic affairs the US government (and many large law enforcement agencies) spy on, infiltrate, suppress, and beat the crap out of protesters and activists on the Left, and environmentalists, but leave right leaning groups and individuals pretty much alone. Recall how when the tea baggers had a big confab in Washington DC a few years back and they were running around with assault rifles and bis pistols strapped to their hips. There was hardly any law enforcement presence there at all. The difference is that the tea baggers are big supporters of Capitalism and its mission to get everyone's money and destroy the planet along the way.

Note: Telesur is funded primarily by the Venezuelan government, plus a few other Latin American governments. It's similar to Al Jazeera in that regard; it's not bad journalism but it's not going to say anything bad about the host governments, and it's propaganda in the way CNN or the New York Times are American propaganda. There's a lot of selective reporting in those, and you read something in them and either believe it or not. Like Al Jazeera, Fox News or CNN, Telesur employs actual professional journalists and is similar to them in the quality of the journalism. 

Saturday, March 21, 2015

Robin Hood Tax

Class consciousness: Identification with other members of one's own class and awareness of its relationship with other classes. According to Marxist theory, the proletariat will assume class consciousness when workers realize that they are being exploited by the bourgeoisie; then a proletarian revolution will be inevitable. Contrary to this theory, however, the American working class is primarily socially conservative. (

Olivia de Havilland, Erroll Flynn, 1938

There's a new push to institute a tax on Wall Street financial transactions, the buying and selling of stocks. Some are referring to it as a Robin Hood Tax. There's a #RobinHoodTax Twitter hash tag.

In my house in the 1950s we watched a television series called The Adventures of Robin Hood that I've long thought of as the beginnings of my own class consciousness. I remember Robin Hood and his band of men as stealing from the rich and giving to the poor, and it giving a healthy backhand to the class system in England.

Perhaps there was some Liberal Democratic parental interpretation going on while we watched, because seeing what's on the internet about that series, it wasn't a subversive Socialist propaganda tool but had more of a TV western good guys versus bad guys theme, which I've probably misremembered according to my own biases. I even misremembered the words to the theme song for the program.

There's a lot on the internet about the legend of Robin Hood, however, and its various screen adaptations, even some right wing harping that the legend has been "polluted" by the Left to legitimize the horrors of redistribution, but it's understood by almost everyone who writes about Robin Hood that he indeed stole from the rich and gave to the poor. But I don't see where the Left has really latched onto Robin Hood as a propaganda tool, and it should. Perhaps the theming of the Wall Street transaction tax is the beginning. The concept began in the UK in 2010 and is being promoted here by people like Minnesota Democratic Rep Keith Ellison, one of the few legitimate Liberals left in congress, who has re-introduced a Robin Hood Tax bill.

Incidentally, the Wikipedia article about Robin Hood has this to say about the surname Hood:

 The surname "Hood" (or Hude or Hode etc.) was also fairly common because it referred either to a Hooder, who was a maker of hoods; or alternatively to somebody who wore a hood as a head-covering. Unsurprisingly, therefore, reference is made to a number of people called "Robert Hood" or "Robin Hood" in medieval records. Some of these individuals are even known to have fallen afoul of the law.

Thursday, March 19, 2015

The End Of The "Two State Solution"?

During the just completed Israeli election's last days as Benjamin Netanyahu desperately sought votes he made some racist comments about Palestinians and announced he would never agree to a "two state solution."

Israel has always used the cover of negotiations with the Palestinians for the creation of a Palestinian state as cover to announce more settlement building and thus steal more Palestinian land. Some commentators are saying Benjamin's come from behind win may have a good side, including unmasking the fiction -- perpetuated for years by Israel and the US -- that Israel was ever serious about negotiating for a "two-state" solution to the Palestinian question.

This section from an article in Mint Press News summarizes some of the commentary going around:

As veteran independent journalist Robert Parry explains the dynamic, Netanyahu’s latest maneuvers have done the important job of “unmasking” the deceit of Israel’s position on the so-called “Peace Process”—birthed by the Oslo Accords in 1993—which has held the two-state solution as its perpetual and unattainable prize. According to Parry:

The truth is that the two-state solution has been a fiction for at least the past two decades, dying in 1995 with the assassination of Prime Minister Yitzhak Rabin. But the two-state illusion still served important political purposes both for Israelis, who would pay it lip service while continuing their steady encroachment on Palestinian lands, and for U.S. politicians who could point to the mirage as an excuse not to pressure Israel too hard on its human rights violations.
Yet, whenever any U.S. official actually tried to reach that shimmering oasis of a two-state solution, it would recede into the distance. Then, the Israelis would rely on their friends and allies in the news media and politics to blame the Palestinians. Now, however, the illusion of Israel seeking such an outcome in good faith has been lost in Netanyahu’s anything-goes determination to keep his office – a case of political expediency trumping strategic expediency.
Writing at Mondoweiss, Avigail Abarbanel, an Israeli-born activist and author living abroad, expressed a response similar to Munayyer’s regarding Netanyahu’s reelection. “So he won and I have to say I am relieved,” Abarbanel explained. “There wll be no more endless cycles of pointless ‘negotiations’ with Israel pretending that some day it will agree to a two-state solution while continually escalating both settlement (colony) building and the maltreament of the Palestinians. Now everyone will see that the Palestinians were right all along and that Israel has never been a partner for negotiations.”

Some supporters of Palestine also point to the strained relations between Israel and the Obama Administration as a sign of hope.

President Obama and most people in the Washington establishment are aware that the goal of Zionism, sometimes but most often not uttered aloud, has always been to drive the Arab inhabitants of historic Palestine from all their land and went along with the fiction of negotiations for a variety of reasons, the most important being the influence of the Israeli Lobby in US elections, and Israel's role as a friendly colonial outpost in the Middle East.

There is a solution to the problems of Israel that is sometimes offered up by idealists like Ali Abunima, editor of the Electronic Intifada online news magazine -- a one state solution, a single, democratic country where Jews and Arabs, including those Arabs driven from Palestine in 1948 and their descendants, are equal citizens.

But Israel and the Zionist project still have many enablers in the US, such as members of New Mexico's federal legislative delegation Michelle Grisham, Ben Lujan, Tom Udall and Steve Pearce, who demonstrated their subservience to the Israeli Lobby by attending Netanahu's speech before a joint session of congress last month, Grisham with a local rabbi in tow.

These people must be pressured to do the right thing and stop giving the Zionist project of the ethnic cleansing of Palestine their unconditional support, and people like Senator Martin Heinrich who have shown signs of doing so must be supported when they do, and be encouraged to be open and unambiguous in their support for justice in Palestine.

Monday, March 16, 2015

Privatization Under The Democrats

As Chicago's mayoral race heats up people are assembling data on "1 percent Rahm" Emanual (as he's called by a Chicagoan I follow on Twitter) the Neoliberal (ie Reaganomics) Democratic incumbent and former Obama Administration chief of staff.

 This graphic is from an In These Times an article How To Sell A City laying out some of Emmanuel's vast privatization accomplishments.

After I wrote an earlier post about this race in which I talked about his challenger, who would be Chicago's first Latino mayor, I considered writing a post about why I'd be interested in the Chicago mayor's race. I grew up in the greater Chicago area, across the lake in rural Michigan, and most of the media I was exposed to was Chicago media, and there were many Chicago ex pats living around me including some of my main drinking buddies who were Irish Catholic Democrats. Also, the election is a test case for whether people are going to get the message about Neoliberal Democrats and send it to the political establishment. The transition of the Democratic Party to a Neoliberal Reaganomics party has been gradual and ushered in by slick talking social liberals like Bill Clinton and people really never noticed, I don't think.

Maybe our NM elected officials didn't either. I wish just one New Mexico legislator would stand up and make a clean break from Reaganomics, but so far they are all still firmly on board with it and it's turning America into a third world country very quickly now. Democrats allied with Republicans are now trying to push through this Trans Pacific Partnership treaty, TPP, which is an updated version of NATFA for the Pacific rim, and another one with Europe, before Obama leaves office. NAFTA, recall, which devastated the American industrial base and small farming in Mexico sending millions north looking for work, was passed under Clinton, because Democrats are able to hold back the natural opponents of something like that.

I hope the people get the message and rise up, and when they do Democrats will change their spots in a big hurry, but Democrats could take it upon themselves to (a) stop selling us out to Reaganomics and (b) inform and organize against it.