Friday, October 31, 2014

American Uniformity

On my way to Holbrook last night I was listening to a podcast of talk by Allan Watts, who was an Englishman living in America who brought Eastern philosophies like Buddhism, Daoism and Confucianism to Western audiences and who for years had a show on the Berkeley, CA, Pacifica station, and he was pointing out that despite Americans' reputation for individuality we are quite conformist, and he demonstrated, by way of a story of an eight-year-old girl being repeatedly admonished by her mother to sit a certain way, how we are beaten into socially acceptable constraints that limit our behavior and eventually our thinking.

There are all kinds of examples of conformity in our society and there's even a fairly widely accepted belief, I think, that we've become increasingly homogenized as we've been able to move around the country more easily and as the mass media does its work.

I thought of the example of the "cowboy." Ranchers dress within a very limited range of styles. There's a uniform, an extremely limited range in cut of shirt, pants, boots, hat and coat. For Sunday go to meeting there's another uniform, and that's the limit of their wardrobe. The same goes for cowwomen.

This all occurred to me this morning as I was backing my compact Chevrolet S-10 pickup in next to one of these monster pickup trucks they sell now. A 3/4 ton or a 1-ton pickup isn't such a big one any more. I'm seeing 2 1/2 ton and 3 1/2 ton pickups, and more and more of them.

The big pickup is the standard mode of transportation for a certain segment of the Albuquerque working class male. Having one or not affects a man's entire mode of public being and psychologically defines his persona, and the same would go for any type of accessory or uniform that demarcates class, profession, or whatever identifies one to oneself. Think biker. Jock. Lawyer. Male and female. Individuals we are not.

I wear the "old hippie who wears certain items of western style clothing" uniform, which conveniently doubles for the "certain type of old truck driver who doesn't know what else to wear" uniform. My uniform lets it be known that I'm different only in that I belong to a smaller subset than some.

I once was somewhat non conformist, but the days when I would wear one kind of shoe on one foot and another kind on the other are long gone.

Wednesday, October 29, 2014

The Invisible Hand Of The Market

I'm seeing a few nationalist-minded media outlets promoting the fact that the Capitalist private for profit spaceship that exploded last night had Russian space rocket engines. One news outfit even kept alternating back and forth between exploding Russian powered spaceships and non exploding American powered spaceships. So, these patriot news gatherers are saying, it wasn't American exceptionalism that failed but Russian inferiority.

At least one report does acknowledge that the Russian engines are leftovers from the 1970s, which the Capitalist for profit private Orbital Science company had scarfed up at bargain basement prices.

In other words, if you privatize it, the cheapskates will come. Safety will suffer.

It has to. It's necessary for safety to suffer, when profit is the driving force. The stockholders demand it. The invisible hand of the marker ensures it.

The media isn't saying any of this, so the hand of the market remains invisible. People aren't made aware of what profit and greed had to do with the rocket ship explosion.

This is all about Reaganomics. Even government oversight suffers when Reaganomics is the driving force and Democrats and Republicans compete to see who can slash the most from government budgets. Ask someone who's had a family member die from eating tainted meat.

The privatization of electoral politics is even putting democracy in jeopardy, as Jim Baca points out in his Only In New Mexico blog today.

Tuesday, October 28, 2014

Long Live The Blockade

The United Nations General Assembly today voted 188-2 to condemn the US blockade of Cuba, with only the US and Israel voting no. This is the 23rd year in a row the UN has voted against the 54-year-old commercial, economic and financial blockade of the Socialist nation that sits off the coast of Florida.

Since the General Assembly yields no power not granted it by the UN Security Council the vote is symbolic, but it's worth noting that Palestine was cut in half and the state of Israel was formed only on the strength of a General Assembly vote. The Security Council never took up the theft of half of Palestine, and Israel is lawless from start to finish, from the massacres Zionist militia committed in 1948 to clear Palestinians off their land to this summer's massacre in Gaza.

Many commentators attribute the blockade of Cuba, which has always had and still has very harmful effects on the health and well being of ordinary Cubans, to Florida and presidential politics, that it's needed to secure the vote of the large community of Miami Cubans who are descended from Cubans who left the island.

At one time it was possible to argue that, but younger Cubam Americans, especially those with no family ties to the rich brothel owners and casino owners who the Castro brothers kicked out of Cuba when they took over, don't care about and don't vote on the basis of US-Cuba policy.

The blockade is to appease American Capitalists and old Cold Warriors who can't stand the fact that a Socialist country exists, and has existed for as long as it has, under their very noses. It's about the example Cuba sets, the one Capital fears most, that a group of people who are trying to find another way of living besides the dog eat dog, bell curve, incestuous way called Capitalism, where despite commonly held mythology the economic class you're born into is the one you'll die in, are proving that it can be done.

Viva Cuba.

Monday, October 27, 2014

Gary King To Working New Mexicans: You'll Settle For What I Tell You To Settle For

Yet another New Mexico Democrat has demonstrated his disdain for working New Mexicans by letting them know he won't risk a thing so they can have a better life. This time it's Gary King, Democratic candidate for governor, who is letting it be known he has nothing to do with unions.

Unions, as you'll recall, which in the post World War II decades bid up the price of labor in this country so as to give Americans the highest standard of living of any working class in history, and made us the envy of the world, have been under attack since Ronald Reagan was elected president, and following the example of Margaret Thatcher, who had declared war on Britain's strongest union the Mine Workers, and broke them, one of Reagan's first acts as president was to declare war on striking air traffic controllers. He broke them, too, signaling that open war on unions was underway and that government had taken the side of business in class struggle.

As a result, union membership is less than one-third what it was when Reagan took office, and Americans' living standards have declined in direct proportion.

Conservatism during this time has issued a steady stream of union-demonizing propaganda -- while Democrats stood mute. And just as no New Mexico Democrat ever utters the word "union" in public, Gary King is putting out literature that describes one of the most famous union  leaders in the world, the co-founder of the United Farmworkers Union, Dolores Huerta, whose very name -- like that of the UFW's other co-founder Cesar Chavez -- is synonymous with the United Farmworkers and unions and class struggle, as a "human rights activist."

No mention of the UFW. The word "union" does not appear. A human rights activist, indeed.

Only recently Michelle Grisham, the 1st District US congresswoman, described Senator Elizabeth Warren, the only prominent Democrat to call out the political elite for pandering to corporations and the wealthy and for bailing out the banks and Wall Street while letting underwater homeowners rot in foreclosure hell, as a "consumer advocate."

What Grisham and King are doing -- calling Huerta a "human rights activist" and Warren a "consumer advocate," is like saying Hitler was a political leader. It's like describing Hank Aaron as some guy who played sports.

There's no mistaking the intent of New Mexico Democrats. They're not doing this in the hope of getting a few Republicans to vote for them. They'd get many more votes if they ran as Democrats and as people who actually represent the economic interests of the vast majority of New Mexicans, which they do not.

This is being done to let corporations and the wealthy, where they get the vast majority of their campaign money, by the way, that they are solidly on their side. This is a wink and nod to the ruling class that Democrats are on board with Reaganomics, and they will round up the social liberals, and the pathetic union leaders who trot out their endorsements for Democrats, and keep them in line for them.

Grisham, King, Martin Heinrich, Ben Lujan, all of them are a disgrace. None of them ever do a thing to counter Conservatism, either in what they say or in what they do or in what votes they take. Grisham, Heinrich and Lujan all have voted to cut Social Security, Medicare, Head Start, veteran's benefits and federal employee retirement benefits.

That's what they stand for. Publicly, none of them stand for anything. All they ever do is mouth meaningless bile, such as that they are fighting hard to save the middle class, while doing exactly the opposite.

When Democrats behave like that and use the kind of language they use nowadays, when they bring in outsiders -- who Leftist and Progressive New Mexican know very well -- for the simple reason of pandering to their base, while letting it be known with language like Grisham and King and all the rest of them use that they are not with these Liberal and left-leaning outsiders, they don't support what they do, that they are solidly on the side of corporations and the wealthy, then there is no reason whatsoever to vote for any of them, and I will not.

Note: To give you an idea of who Dolores Huerta is and what she is known for here is a screen shot of the first few lines of a simple internet search for "Dolores Huerta."

Sunday, October 26, 2014

The Revolution In You

I had to put new numbers on Truck 131, the International, because it has a new hood, grill and other front end parts, owing to a young driver creaming my front end at the TA truck stop. I put the hand applied custom Home Depot numbers on while I was getting loaded the other night on Chappell Street, or Chappel Street depending on which street sign you're looking at. I'd picked up the truck that morning after work, slept and only had time during loading. You want those numbers on there when you go through the weigh station.

The kid who hit me wasn't watching his trailer as he swung around me. He tried to take off and I had to run him down and cut him off on the other side of the parking lot.

He works for one of the big carriers. It was kind of hard to make him go through it because I know what it will mean. I know the impulse to take off, believe me. In my first few months of truck driving I knocked down a stop light pole and kept going, but hitting someone's truck or car seems different and when I did that, I did stop and made it right. He probably didn't know what it would have meant to me. The bill was $11k. I paid $2,500 but should get that back from his insurance company.

For him, it goes on a record the US DOT keeps of you and goes on as an accident, and you don't want that. I've paid off a couple of truck drivers whose trucks I sideswiped on the spot out of my own pocket. One was a scratched mirror and one was a scratched chrome front bumper so I was lucky.

I think I gave the one $50 and the other $200 but it was money well spent. When times get hard, as they have during the recession, it's hard to get hired with an accident, or with more than one ticket on your record. Having two tickets on my record is how I ended up where I am. I had to take a job with a fly by night oil field company and then a fly by night distribution company and it eventually became this, owning two trucks, when the last job was contracted out and I bid on it because I knew I'd have trouble finding another job.

I was talking a few posts ago about getting out. This truck and the Freightliner had both been run into, both at the TA Truck Stop on University where I was parking the trucks at the time, both within a month, and that was on the heels of both trucks needing major work done in succession - a new turbocharger for the International and on the Freightliner a new power divider, which on those trucks is the splitter, i.e., the high-low range transmission, and the front differential in one unit. An extended warranty helped with one of them but I had to pay out several thousand for both, and on the body shop repairs I've had to pay the $2,500 deductible twice, although I could well get all that back.

The worst of it is, though, as far as I'm concerned, is that when one truck is in the shop I only have one truck and they're both older and breakdown prone and it's very nerve racking.

And there's the constant dealing with shysters at every point along the way, and the realization that if I keep going and keep buying trucks it won't get easier but likely harder. On the other hand, with both trucks running now and having survived the economic onslaught I'm likely to keep going, simply because it's easier that way, and if I'm feeling good about things when another opportunity presents itself I'm likely to go for it.

It's always been this way, carried along by currents I don't control. It's what I have to work with. I'm not alone in that. There was a time, as they say, when I couldn't support myself, couldn't make anything happen in my life.

This, of course, what I'm dealing with now, is "business." It's life. Everyone has their own version of the same struggle, but I seldom think about it that way. Perhaps no one else does, either. We're consumed by our own struggle.

People are apt to keep that aspect of their life out of public view, I think, because that's part of our natural defense mechanism. We can't show weakness if no one else is and if we do, someone will try to take advantage. And it's tied up with that primary agent of our self defense, our ego. Our ego likes to protect the idealized image we have of ourselves, to make us think that the self we put forth for the world to see is the way others actually see us.

That's a funny thing about human nature, and the ego. If we think people are buying what we put out there, it's the same, in terms of our own personal psychology, as if they're buying it. It's the same as when someone is blatantly lying to you and you, for whatever reason, let it go. It's the same thing, to them, in terms of their own psychology, as if they convinced you. If people can make it through a conversation with their bullshit uncalled out, they have not only survived but they have survived with their ideal image of themselves intact. The world, they think, bought their bullshit, and so did their ego. It's satisfied.

The significance of it all is this. People who wish for a better world and who don't think about it at the level of personal psychology are most likely wasting their time, I believe. Capitalism perpetuates itself generation after generation because it's the best system that's come along for managing the kind of species we are, that is, Capitalism closely corresponds with the psychology of the human species. If we've got the new car, the new house, the nice clothes, then we're projecting the kind of image our ego is satisfied with. If we're a CEO and the salary and the profits and laudatory comments and articles are all there, it doesn't matter what you had to go through to get those. The ego doesn't really care. It only cares what others think.

Marx knew all this. He said that anyone who was put in the place of a Capitalist would behave the exact same way. He and others like him, however, thought that it was the Capitalist system that formed our personal psychologies and not the other way around. It's the old nature/nurture question. Are we genetically hard wired to be like we are, or are we the products of our environment? Marx thought it was the latter, that another kind of system would produce a different kind of person.

So far the alternative systems people have tried haven't produced the desired results, and Capitalism has made sure that no one's attempt to try anything else has been allowed to play out except under conditions of severe stress because of the constant harassment and continual efforts to undermine it.

That's why the Revolution, really, is inside of us. It's the only place no one else can know about and get to. We are who we are, and if we try to live any other way than inside a Capitalist system we'll have to make it work with who we are until it has a chance to affect human behavior. It's not even known if that will work, but we have to try. It's in our nature to try.

So keep struggling. Try to resolve the contradiction, when you can, between who you are and who you'd like people to think you are and thereby free up a little space for someone else to do the same. When you can't do that, which will be most of the time, keep the faith. Never give up.

Saturday, October 25, 2014

New Mexico Democrats Hope To Turn Out Their Base By Bringing In Politicians Their Base Doesn't Hate

Last week it was Elizabeth Warren. This week it's Joaquin Castro.

Udall dons cowboy hat, Grisham and Lujan fold their arms
New Mexico progressives have no reason to vote for any Democrat up for re-election on the national ticket, Tom Udall in the senate or Michelle Grisham and Ben Lujan in the house, so Udall, Grisham and Lujan have resorted to bringing in popular politicians New Mexicans would vote for if they had the chance; last week it was classic Northeast Liberal Elizabeth Warren and this week it's nationally known Mexican-American politician and US Rep. Joaquin Castro from San Antonio, TX.

Warren, a freshman senator from Massachusetts, is popular with progressives for calling openly for re-regulating banking and finance capital (Wall Street), an idea Democrats like President Obama, Udall, Grisham and Lujan abhor because it would slow the river of campaign money they receive from those industries. Warren has openly criticized the Obama Administration for bailing out big banks while doing nothing to help the millions of working class homeowners who lost their homes during the recession, and also has called for taxing Wall Street transactions and using the money to subsidize public higher education.

Media: Elizabeth Warren drew the crowd for Udall - photo
No New Mexico Democrat favors anything like anything Warren is for, as evidenced by their never having advocated for any of it or campaigned on any of it. Udall, Grisham and Lujan all are solidly in line with the Reaganomics economics policies adopted by the national Democratic Party, as evidenced by their many votes to cut taxes on the wealthy and cut programs like Social Security, Medicare, Head Start, veteran's benefits and federal employees' retirement benefits to name but a few.

Castro, a former Texas state representative elected in 2012 to a newly created gerrymandered district that lies north and south of San Antonio, is a "Ready For Hillary" Democrat whose twin brother Julián Castro is San Antonio's mayor. The brothers are mainstream Democrats who have embraced their roles as nationally visible Latino Democrats as the party seeks to placate Latino voters and still sell them out on most matters that affect or interest them such as immigration reform or their economic well being.

Joaquin Castro is often mentioned as a possible vice presidential candidate should Republicans put up a Hispanic presidential or vice presidential nominee.

US Germ Warfare Lab In Sierra Leone Probable Source Of Ebola Outbreak

International law professor Francis Boyle, author of the book Biowarfare and Terrorism and the man who drafted the 1989 US Biological Weapons and Anti-Terrorism Act passed unanimously by congress, thinks the current, especially virulent strain of Ebola causing panic in the media came from a US germ warfare lab near the viruses' center in West Africa.

The current virus is centered in the West African countries of Sierra Leone, Guinea and Liberia, but the most common Ebola virus comes from an area 2,200 miles away in eastern Africa, Boyle tells Dave Lindorff, and is currently dormant, so media speculation that the virus came to life and jumped across the continent, carried by fruit bats, doesn't hold water.

The US also happens to have germ warfare labs in Sierra Leone, Guinea and Liberia. The current outbreak probably came from the one in Kenema, Sierra Leone, which has led the government of that country to shut down the lab, Boyle says.

An Oct. 15 article in Huffington Post, The Two Ebola Outbreaks In Africa Have Different Sources, perhaps unintentionally supports Boyle's claim. 

The US government at its covert germ warfare labs, which are often placed in countries that aren't signatories to the Biological Weapons Geneva Convention banning germ warfare, is using gene modification and gene splicing techniques that make viruses much more difficult to combat, Boyle says.

Read Lindorff's piece here. Lindorff is a member of the journalism collective This Can't Be Happening,  which consists of seasoned Philadelphia area reporters Lindorff, John Grant, Linn Washington and Charles M. Young and which, by the way, is the only media outlet to have been labeled a threat to national security by the Department of Homeland Security.

US Army's Germ Warfare Headquarters at Fort Derick, Maryland

Note: Government and media accounts of US biological warfare labs portray our government's germ warfare research as being done solely to defend us against biological attacks from others, and it's probably more reassuring to most people to believe that.

Just as it's more reassuring to believe that the now-continuous imperial wars the US wages around the globe, the flaming Middle East, the coup in Ukraine, the ongoing undercover operations against Socialist and Left leaning governments in Latin America, the ongoing encirclement of Russia with missile batteries by way of the ongoing expansion of NATO into eastern European countries, the encirclement of China, which has no military to speak of, by the armies and navies of the US that's euphemistically referred to as Obama's "Pivot to the East," are all defensive measures, too.

Wednesday, October 22, 2014

The State Of Voting Rights In The US From The UK

The Guardian has an article comparing access to voting in the various US states with a different kind of interactive map. At the bottom of the article are links to related articles they've done about voting in the US.

You won't see this kind of coverage in the US media, with its conservative bias. It ducks responsibility for telling the truth by taking the "he said she said" stance, putting misinformation and information on the same footing.

Which is it? The media's job is to find out and tell us.

I read the article on my iPhone. I've tried various news aggregator "apps" and haven't come across one I truly liked. This one is called News Free. It's not bad. At least it doesn't crash a lot.

I'm getting loaded on Chappell Street, or Chappel Street, depending on which street sign you refer to, and enjoying a pleasant Autumn evening in Albuquerque.

Monday, October 20, 2014

Ebola And The End Of Life On Earth

Major news organizations are now referring to the Ebola scare as the "Ebola Crisis".

There's some speculation going around about why, in a nation of 330 million where one person has died and two are infected with a very rare albeit very dangerous disease, it's being talked about as a crisis and talked about so much.

The obvious reason is that it's good for ratings. It's Capitalism. When you dissect that, however, and lump this story in with some of the other frivolous things the media has herd-reported on like the latest missing white women stories or supposed rampaging dark skinned people stories, the ill effects this kind of reporting has on society come to the surface.

On the Stephanie Miller radio program this morning they were lumping the Ebola story in with what has become standard coverage for big stories by the American media, which is to immediately couch everything in terms of how it demonstrates the failed Obama presidency or his lack of leadership, as in stories like Ukraine, Libya, Syria, Iraq and Afghanistan. In essence, the Stephanie Miller Show hosts were saying, the conservative media reflexively adopts a Republican talking points line on every story.

Left out of what have now been thousands of  Ebola stories are the effects 30 years of Reaganomics have had on business practices -- like at the private hospital in Dallas where the single Ebola death occurred and by the private company it contracts out its emergency room services to -- and the effects emasculating government has had on the general welfare, as Only In New Mexico blogger Jim Baca has pointed out.

Polls have found that Americans know virtually nothing about Ebola. They are being thrown into a panic by a media that also knows little about it, and knows little about or doesn't care about the ethics of Journalism.

Sunday, October 19, 2014

Texas Ebola Hospital Privately Owned; Emergency Room That Sent Away Nigerian Ebola Patient Is Contracted Out. CEO Of Hospital Chain Asks That We Pray.

Liberal talk radio personality Tom Hartman mentioned the other day that no one has questioned the CEO of the corporation that owns the hospital where the Texas Ebola outbreak is taking place.

Barclay Berdan - Ebola hospital CEO
That would be Barclay Berdan, who took over as CEO of Texas Health Resources on Sept 1.

Arlington, TX, based Texas Health Resources is a "non-profit" corporation that somehow managed a $40 million profit last year. The hospital  called "Presbyterian" where the outbreak is taking place -- one has died, two nurses are infected and dozens of others are being watched in quarantine -- is one of 25 owned by Texas Health Resources, which, like the private company that it contracts its emergency room services to, Emergency Medicine Consultants Ltd., which sent the Ebola patient away, has consistently scored below average on all kinds of performance measures.

Emergency room services at Texas Health Resources are contracted out to Emergency Medicine Consultants Ltd., which first looked at the Ebola patient, said he had sinus problems, gave him some antibiotics and sent him on his way. Emergency Medicine Consultants Ltd isn't responding to press inquiries and is referring questions to Texas Health Resources, which has hired "public-relations giant Burson-Marsteller" which is better equipped to deal with disasters of such magnitude, or had better be. But it was apparently when the Ebola patient returned and was admitted to a Texas Health Resources room that hospital employees were infected, which prompted "public relations giant Burson-Marsteller" to tell Texas Health Resources to issue a full page apology in the Dallas paper.

I couldn't immediately find out what Berdan's salary is. His predecessor was paid $5.71 million a year at a time Berdan was making $1.17 million as a vice president at Texas Health Resources. All the stories about him taking over the corporation, that I came across, are butt-kissing hagiographies whose authors are no doubt desperately begging for vacation leave, and make no mention of his salary or the hospital's troubles, although the Dallas Morning News has now come out with a semi hard look at Texas Health Resources, its practices, its ratings, and its behavior during the Ebola scare.

A couple days ago the first Texas Health Resources nurse who contracted Ebola issued a brief statement, which was widely reported, saying “I’m doing well and want to thank everyone for their kind wishes and prayers.” But it wasn't actually her statement. It was a press release from Texas Health Resources -- or rather "public relations giant Burson-Marsteller" -- that goes on to quote the nurse as saying she's "blessed to be cared for by the best team of doctors and nurses in the world here at Texas Health Presbyterian Hospital Dallas.”

Buried at the bottom of the press release and not reported as far as I can tell is this brief statement from Berdan:

“The hearts and prayers of everyone at Texas Health Presbyterian Hospital Dallas are with Nina Pham, and we are working tirelessly to help her in this courageous fight. The doctors and nurses involved with her treatment remain hopeful, and we ask for the prayers of the entire country.”

With staff morale in the dumpster, an army of TV crews stationed outside the hospital around the clock and patients fleeing the hospital in droves, Barlay Berdan is going to need them.

Saturday, October 18, 2014

Permission To Build In Your Own Country

A perhaps little known fact is that Israel won' allow Palestinians to build on their own land - I'm talking about the part of Palestine that was left to the Palestinians when over half of Palestine was given to Zionists in 1948 to form Israel.

The part left to Palestinians was militarily occupied by Israel in 1967, and since then Israel has demolished more than 11,000 Palestinian homes as well as businesses, farm buildings, factories, irrigation systems and wells. (See The Israel Committee Against House Demolitions.)

Israel then charges the Palestinian for the cost of the demolition.

Israel claims the demolitions are of buildings and projects for which Palestinians didn't obtain a permit - that is, a permit from the Israeli Occupation Authority. This isn't in Israel we're talking about, this is in Palestine.

The "Occupation Authority" never approves Palestinians' permits. The Israeli human rights group B'Tselem explains that Israel's construction policy for Palestinians is given a thin veneer of pseudo legality: the land is needed for a park, for an Israeli military zone, for more Israeli settlements, etc.

Palestinians, either because they object to asking for permission to build on their own land, or simply have to build and take the chance, build anyway, with no permit -- remember, permits are always denied -- and eventually Israel finds out and demolishes it.

This, along with the imprisonment of young Palestinians, the nighttime raids of houses where Palestinian families are marched outside to stand in the freezing air in their night clothes while Israeli soldiers ransack the house, defecate on the walls, steal things,  the periodic mass slaughters in Gaza, the restrictions on food and medicines Israel lets into Gaza and the West Bank, the assassinations of Palestinian leaders by Israel, many by rockets (more rockets go into Gaza from Israel than come out of Gaza, according to the UN) is often referred to as ethnic cleansing, but in fact it's genocide.

The status quo of 1948 was always seen by the more hardline Zionists as temporary. "Greater Israel," a term you sometimes come across in articles and opinion pieces supportive of Israel, is code for "We want all the land". "We want the Palestinians gone." "Gone, or dead."

The US government has aided and abetted the Greater Israel policy from the beginning, and unlike most Americans, always knew what was going on over there. Every president from Harry S Truman on knew. A few made feeble attempts to do something - Truman, GW Bush the first, and now Barak Obama, but the overall policy has always been the same - repeat the Zionist propaganda line, cover for Israel at the UN Security Council, keep modern weaponry flowing to Israel, turn a blind eye to the "settlement building" -- huge housing developments for Israelis on stolen occupied Palestinian land.

Note: Americans, particularly college students, have gone to Palestine to resist home demolitions or participate in other kinds of demonstrations. If Americans are present, Israel is usually more careful about killing people.

Rachel Corrie, a 23-year old from Olympia, Washington, was crushed to death March 16, 2003 by an Israeli army bulldozer (a special Caterpillar model made in America only for Israeli home demolitions) as she stood in front of a Palestinian home in Rafah in the southern Gaza Strip trying to prevent its demolition. Corrie, as seen in photos below, was wearing blaze orange. Witnesses say the bulldozer stopped, ran over Corrie, then backed up over her.

The Israeli army investigated and ruled the operator didn't see Corrie and that her death was an accident. Neither the US administration nor congress has ever complained about the death of an American citizen in a foreign country, or mentioned it, or investigated, or called for a thorough investigation by Israel.

Wednesday, October 15, 2014

Malala The Socialst

Missing from media accounts heralding 17-year-old Afghan Nobel Peace Prize winner Malala Yousafzai are her political views, as pointed out by the Socialist Worker.

They quote a message she sent back to comrades in Pakistan after attending a Marxist school there. The message has shown up on various Socialist and Marxist web sites and reads in part:

"I am convinced Socialism is the only answer and I urge all comrades to take this struggle to a victorious conclusion. Only this will free us from the chains of bigotry and exploitation.”

At a Marxist conference in Pakistan at which her message was read, one of the young schoolgirl friends she was riding with in the van the day she was shot by Taliban, who is also a Marxist, spoke and read poetry, according to

Malala opposes President Obama's drone wars and told him so in person, information that is also missing from the media, which instead has situated her story in a narrative in which the US needs to kill more people in the Middle East.

If you have a chance to read the SW article it also has a brief but interesting discussion of Malala's opposition to western Imperialist intervention in places like Afghanistan.

Marxist political parties, including Socialists and Communists, are common in Middle Eastern countries, although they have not held power in some time. A few examples: Mohammad Mosaddegh, the Iranian president overthrown by the CIA in 1953 -- which is the direct cause of most of the resentment of the US in Iran today -- was a Socialist who had nationalized Iran's oil, leading to his overthrow by the US and UK intelligence forces on the orders of President Eisenhower. Many sectors of Egypt's union movement, which played the major although mostly unreported role in organizing the protests that led to the downfall of Hosnai Mubarak, are Socialist. The PKK, the main Kurdish opposition group, which has been waging a several decades old guerrilla war for an independent Kurdish state that would encompass the large Kurdish homeland that overlaps Iraq, Iran and Pakistan, is Socialist. The Ba'athist parties in various Middle Eastern countries, including the one Sadaam Hussein controlled and the one that rules in Syria, are, ideologically, Socialist, Pan-Arab parties.  

Tuesday, October 14, 2014

The Greedy Poor

The problem with the economy is that working people haven't sacrificed enough. We paid for the bailouts of the wealthy, we've accepted stagnant wags and declining living standards, we've cheered the stock market gains that have increased income and wealth disparities to dizzying 1920s levels, and we think that's enough.

Well, we're wrong. Echoing the sentiments of the ruling elite all over, a big time investor quoted by Yahoo News said today,

"Clearly there is a problem in Europe. France and Italy are the EU's second- and third-largest economies and they are refusing to make the necessary structural changes. Both need structural labor reforms."

"Structural reforms" means lower wages, lower living standards and cuts to social services, and even lower taxes on the rich. It's what they say in Europe when they're talking about Reaganomics, Thatcherism, The Washington Consensus. what Democrats and Republicans are doing here. It's all the same thing. It's the way it is now.

Working people, listen up: If you want things to get better for the rich you're going to have to sacrifice.

Monday, October 13, 2014

British Parliament Votes 274-12 To Recognize Palestine

Following Sweden's announcement last week that it will recognize Palestine, and in the wake of this summer's massacre in Gaza by the Israeli military and shifting public sentiment against Israel, UK parliamentarians from Left and Right stood up to heavy lobbying from supporters of Israel and either voted in favor of the resolution or abstained, which in itself was a demonstration of lack of support for Israel.

Part of the significance of the vote, which won't change Britain's policies immediately, will be the rush to downplay its significance by Israel backers, particularly the US media and the US government and US elected officials. It's also significant because it was the "Balfour Declaration", during the time after WWI when the UK was in control of Palestine, that set in motion the process of taking half of Palestine away from its inhabitants for the creation of a Jewish state.

Primarily though, in my view, it marks the fact that the US was unable to keep a major ally in line and adhering to it own official policy, which is to refuse to talk about Palestinian statehood outside the context of "direct negotiations between the two parties," i.e. Israel and Palestine.

That farcical policy has been used for decades as cover to allow for the continued theft of Palestinian land through "settlement" building, and increasingly shows signs of unraveling.

Saturday, October 11, 2014

Truck Driving And Socialism

I've been intending to write a post in which I compared the title of my blog to what the blog has actually been about. I see that I've been blogging for a little more than four years. When I started this blog I wasn't working. I was looking for work but not constantly. It was the height of the recession. I had some spare time.

A balloon landed Tuesday morning next to the apartments on Los Volcanes Road as I was parking the truck on Airport Drive

I didn't have a clear idea of why I was starting a web log. I wanted to work on my writing in some way, and to express my political views in some way, or rather, agitate for them. I'd been keeping journals for most of my years in truck driving and I wanted to try turning some of the entries into short stories, but I didn't know how I was going to bring Socialism into it.

The title Truck Driving and Socialism appealed to me because it literally would encompass what I was doing but also contained a contradiction. Truck driving, generally speaking, is peopled by conservative people.

There have been well known writers who were consciously political in their fiction writing and who also gained wide acceptance, but not many. Jack London is among the few American writers to have pulled it off successfully. Internationally there's George Orwell. Writers like Gabriel Garcia Marquez, Toni Morrison, Alice Walker, are political people but in their writing are more unconsciously political, I would put it. They might set up situations that will lead the reader to conclude certain things politically, but they do not, as London and Orwell did, set up situations that make arguments for their political ideologies.

That's hard to do, for me at least, I've learned. I've tried it and it's come across as contrived, which it was. I started going back through my journals and found some that I was able to turn into short stories, but just doing that was such an overwhelming task that I never even thought about politics while I was doing it. The need to make it readable, interesting, believable, seemed to take over.

It wasn't long before I started writing commentaries about events in the news, like the Arab Spring, Occupy Wall Street, what the government was doing, or elections. I also started working full time again, which made it seem impossible to devote the kind of time short story writing demanded, of me anyway. I'm not very efficient with my use of time and I was working 12 hours a day.

Eventually the truck driving job I was doing by the hour was contracted out and I was given first stab at it and I decided to submit a proposal. It was accepted and I had to buy a truck and go into the trucking business, you could say, and I've been doing that for a year and a half now.

The business part of course adds another set of headaches. It's pretty profitable, at least compared to what my expectations were, but it couldn't be profitable enough to compensate for the aggravation it causes.  I'm still doing most of the driving and the driving part becomes more aggravating every night, it seems. Truck driving is changing, as it always has, as everything always has, and so it's me, probably, my inability to adapt to the ever changing nature of the truck driver's world. There's a new generation out there. There are new kinds of truck drivers; increasing number of Sikhs, Asians, Latinos, African Americans. I welcome those people, but I never know who it is that's riding the left lane, who gets out to pass a half mile back and takes their time coming up the left lane with their brighter nowadays headlights blinding me in my rear view mirror the size of a coffee table, but I know it aggravates me. The predominant mode in truck driving when I came in was the Southern driver. Things about that style aggravated me, but it was what I was used to, I suppose.

Several times in the past few weeks, as I was driving down the interstate at night, the idea of getting out of trucking altogether popped into my head. The daydreams are starting, the escapist fantasies, of what else I'd do, replacing the ones of what I wanted to do in the trucking business. For a long time I'd wanted to buy a sailboat and live on it. I'd looked into it. The cost of sailboats, what's the biggest one that can be sailed single-handed, the smallest that can be taken on the open ocean, what's involved in ocean-going, what boat making materials are best, what navigational and emergency equipment would you need. I have an application in my files for a dock space at Long Beach harbor where you can live on the boat - - they have showers on shore, electricity hookups  -- and the total cost for the slip and the extra amount for living on the boat is about what you'd pay for an apartment in Albuquerque.

I've also dreamed about having a little place on a dirt road, being off the grid, having a wood shop and a place to fix up old cars, doing solar and wind, having a garden and a greenhouse. I made a nice little wooden boat by hand once, an English punt, and I'd thought about making them to sell.

These things are starting to come back. I'll be 62 in November. I'm doing nothing now, but work. No living. No writing. The work is never done. After the driving there's the paperwork and the maintenance. There's taking care of things in the morning after I'm done driving and then not getting enough sleep. I do an occasional blog post about what's going on in trucking, the new regulations and such. I'll do a longer essay on the weekends sometimes or dash off an easy to finish commentary before I go to work. I often go four and five weeks without doing laundry. I just keep buying underwear. When I don't have time to buy underwear I have to wash them in the damn sink.

I've been keeping an eye out for how business would change me. I thought it would. I predicated it would. I wondered if it would change my politics. If it would change the way I thought about Capitalism and Socialism. It hasn't changed anything.

But one thing being in business has done is to make me more rational. I've had to face situations I didn't have to face in the past. I've had to take care of things because I had no other choice. I think it's sharpened my ability to make decisions. The other night, at the truck stop in Holbrook where I make the trailer exchange with the Phoenix truck, I'd got there an hour early and shut my truck off, and then just before the Phoenix truck arrived it wouldn't start. I haul very time critical freight and it's sensitive for other reasons. It's pharmaceutical supplies and some if it is controlled substances.

I didn't panic. I probably would have in the past. I knew what I should check first and did that, then got the truck stop's garage to get their service truck out there to try jumping it, and when that didn't work the mechanic and I went through the other possible causes and then suddenly it was running and I was back in Albuquerque well within my window. As anyone who has run a business or an organization can no doubt tell you, doing something like that is, in a way, solving a series of problems. The problems always come. They never stop. I'm better at solving them. More rational.

I suppose I see the dollars and cents of doing everything, now. I'm more calculating. The dreams are still there. They never stop keep coming, either. I have a better sense of what they'll cost, of what I might gain and what I might lose. I'll think about it, dream about it some more, think about it some more. I don't know what's going to happen. In other words, I've probably already made up my mind.

Thursday, October 9, 2014

Lunch Time!

As thanks for performing the public service of letting the people of New Mexico know what their elected governor and her staff were doing, Jaime Estrada has been sentenced to nine months in prison, according to today's Albuquerque Journal.

Estrada admitted to stealing emails, which were released to the public around the time Governor Susana Martinez' administration was being investigated by the FBI. The Martinez administration was being charged in media outlets with rigging the awarding of a multimillion dollar race track and casino contract and thuggishly intimidating wittnesses.

The account of Estrada's sentencing in the Journal, which has yet to publish anything negative about the governor, doesn't mention the scandal or provide any context for the email thefts.

Martinez herself appeared at the sentencing to urge the judge to sentence Estrada to the maximum term allowed, the Journal reported, saying her personal life had been "invaded."

“I don’t know how many emails are out there," the Journal quotes Martinez as telling the judge. "I truly believe this will never end.”

To assist Martinez in determining how many email are out there, the above is a screen shot from when the emails were published that shows part of several of the emails. One is from a company called Spanx that specializes in underwear meant to make women look thinner. On their web site it's called "shapewear" and includes such items as "mid-thigh shapers."

Another email is from Jockey, also a company that makes underwear intended to make it look like you haven't been chowing down every spare minute.

I hope this helps, governor!

The Journal article didn't indicate whether the reporter who wrote it asked Martinez if she thought she was being vindictive in making time in her schedule to go down to Albuquerque and sit through a sentencing hearing so she could call for Estrada to be sentenced to a long prison term, or whether the Journal reporter asked Martinez whether she had better things to do like try to improve on her performance in creating jobs in the state, which is among the poorest in the nation.

Martinez, a former Democrat, switched to Republican Party after some Republicans bought her lunch. Early in her administration her driver was pulled over for speeding on an Albuquerque frontage road while he was taking the governor to lunch.

Wednesday, October 8, 2014

Capitalism Versus The Climate

Capitalism has shown itself unable to deal with the periodic economic crises that are part of the cyclic nature of Capitalism. The Great Depression, for example. The government's response to the current downtown, half-hearted at first and then none, which continues with depression-like conditions for most of the populace, is blamed for the continuing stagnation in job creation (except in poor paying and part time jobs, and in the Temp industry, which if you noticed in the latest job statistics is the leading industry in job creation, as it has been for several years now) and the decline in working class living standards

 A few people on the Left are beginning to talk about the political opportunities for the Left that will become apparent as the effects of global warming set in. The most powerful tool the Left has ever had, Naomi Klein calls it in her new book "This Changes Everything." Conservatives already know this, which is why climate change denial is being pushed so hard by major conservative think tanks and media.

Jim Baca in his Only In New Mexico blog today points out the relationship between free market fundamentalism with its mania for cutting government spending and the Ebola outbreak. The Ebola scare is being overblown, as he points out. But the fact remains that free market fundamentalism is useless, helpless, in the face of something like a pandemic, and has done and can do and is doing nothing to generate the kind of radical changes that will be necessary at this late date to avert a global climate change induced disaster.

Like the other crises it caused, Capitalism only caused the climate change disaster. It can't and won't solve it.

More to come on this.

Monday, October 6, 2014


I was loading up the old iPod with podcasts and music for the coming week's driving and was casting about at for something new when it occurred to me to search for 1950s radio programs. There are many radio programs at that are music programs and I was thinking there'd be recordings of some of the popular radio stations of that era and I could see what it was like listening to the old Rock and Roll I love so much as it was played on the radio at the time. But I typed in "1950s radioprograms," mistakenly leaving out the space between "radio" and "programs."

This  returned numerous pages of programs anyway, a few of which I downloaded; several episodes of a Science Fiction program called X Minus One, which it says are derived from Sci Fi writers like Isaac Asimov, Ray Bradbury, Philip K. Dick, Robert A. Heinlein, Frederik Pohl and Theodore Sturgeon, and also a music program about African music.

Then I noticed my error, so I tried the search again with the space between the words. A completely different set of programs came up, but they didn't sound quite as appealing to me, I think because more of them were things I'd heard of. Dragnet and so forth.

I don't know. Try it yourself.

At the least it's a bit of an insight into how computers think, or how the people who program them think. Not like we think. I think it's like this Black Matter they've been talking about. A parallel way of thinking. It's there but invisible.

Here's Pia Zadora, thinking about it.

Saturday, October 4, 2014

America The Cultural

I criticize America a lot. Actually, I criticize Capitalism, and the way it manifests itself through our political system, but if you want to say I criticize America, that's fine.  People who say, "America, love it or leave it," are actually the ones who hate America's freedoms, not who George W Bush said hate America's freedoms. These people would love a country where it's against the law to criticize your country, and America doesn't have that, so they must hate America.

But today I won't criticize America, very much.

American Culture

It's usually when I'm thinking about music that I realize what an astounding contribution America has made  to the cultural enrichment of the world. We invented Blues, Jazz and Rock and Roll. (When I say "we" I mean African Americans, mainly. Sometimes I quip that when it comes to American music, if you took away our Black people and Jews, you'd have banjo music.) But we have Tejano, Zydeco, Cajun, the list goes on, and some of these forms are as popular in other countries as they are here. We also created Bluegrass and Country and our brand of Folk music has changed the world, you can argue.

But a web site I came across -- Open Culture -- that presents a mega helping of American films, as well as audio books and e-books from America and beyond, and courses from American universities,  reminds me we haven't only excelled and contributed in the field of music. This super-sized helping is nicely presented, too, and available for free to anyone with a computer and internet connection.

There's an amazing number of things here. They actually draw on some other such sites, some of which I 've mentioned before like and, but here they are arranged more handily than any other place I know of. This is a beautiful web site. (They don't have the music, and a good place to find that is still

By the way, when I was still on Facebook I was advertising to my Facebook friends and someone sniffed that they don't download free music. They give the artist their due. They don't cheat them out of their money.

As I quickly sniffed back, this is America, folks, the center of the Capitalist exploitation universe, and anything that's on the internet for free is there because people have run out of ways of making money off of it. Anything you put on the internet that's copyrighted, and that the copyright holders think they can still make money off of,  is quickly discovered by them. They have programs that constantly troll the internet looking for things like that.

Sites like and and Open Culture only have books and music that are in the "public domain," i.e., the copyright has expired. Take the works of Dostoyevsky at Librivox, for example, or early Rock and Roll music at, which are all free to download. People still sell copies of those, but the artist or writer or performer isn't getting any money from it. Their copyright has expired (and in the case of Dostoyevsky they are dead, too.) If you buy something like that in a bookstore or music bin you're paying your money to some Capitalist who has somehow got hold of the original master tapes or who has simply set a Dostoyevsky book into type and started selling it. People like that sometimes even copyright their copy -- but they can only copyright the way they present the material -- but you yourself can take Dostoyevsky's words or Little Richard's original recording of Good Golly Miss Molly, which aren't copyrighted any more, and do the same thing yourself.

Note: At Open Culture I came across this list of Stanley Kubrick's favorite movies from 1963. 

Friday, October 3, 2014

Salt In The Wounds

Sometimes you wonder just how ignorant people can be.

The United Steelworkers Union local in Bayard, NM, heirs to the workers who inspired the classic 1954 film shot in New Mexico, Salt of the Earth, have just voted to "decertify" the union.

They've voted to become non union. Each worker will go it alone against the $30 billion mega international gold and copper mining giant Freeport McMoRan and it's $19 billion in annual revenues that teamed with Indonesian dictator Suharto to murder any worker who wasn't subservient to the company.

The Bayard local is the same local -- although admittedly it's now part of a different, far less radical parent union  -- that risked and gave their lives fighting the mining corporation that paid Hispanics and Natives less than Anglos, that sent Hispanics and Natives into the mine alone, where cave-ins were frequent, while Anglos went down in teams. The same local that stood up against copper mine hired armed militia and against sheriff's deputies paid for by the mine, the members of the local that inspired a group of McCarthy Era blacklisted Hollywood filmmakers to come out here and turn their story of bravery into a classic movie, have just decided to take the bend over and grab your ankles approach to owner-worker relations.

Radical University of New Mexico Professor David Correia tells the outlines of the story in his La Jicarita blog, and the story of the Salt of the Earth film and the fierce struggle for justice behind it.

Freeport McMoRan as part of its union busting scheme has been giving generous bonuses to non union miners at its other mines, and apparently hired a right wing failed Deming businessman, Irving Shane Shores, who posed as a miner, filed the papers that required the vote, talked enough of his co workers into going along, then quit and left the mine.

A Hard Lesson For American Workers

The scary part of this story is that nobody twisted any arms. No one forced the miners at gunpoint to decertify the union. The vote wasn't close: 236-83.

No twisted arms, perhaps, but there are plenty of twisted minds running around out there. Look first in the Democratic Party.

Anita Torrez (Peoples World photo)
The Conservative movement and the Republican Party, of course, have done everything they can to make "union" a dirty word, because they represent the owners, not the workers. But Democrats, the supposed party of the workers, have never pushed back and in fact aid and abet it.

 I've written about how New Mexico's elected Democrats won't even utter the word "union" in public, and about how they go along with every Reaganomics economic and anti worker policy Republicans put forth and every cut to government benefits to help workers, particularly poor workers.

The "Help the Middle Class" Democratic Party is simply the socially liberal wing of the Republican Party, fiscal conservatives who support mainstream feminism and mainstream gay rights; the right to marry who you choose and the right to certain health services like contraception and abortion.

Compare modern pathetic Democrats to Anita Torrez, one of the leaders of the actual 1951 strike in Bayard depicted in Salt of the Earth, pictured above standing before a mural commemorating the film, who as part of the Mine Mill Union's Ladies Auxilliary helped organize the strike and then, after the government made it illegal for the miners to picket and began jailing them, walked the picket lines and kept scabs out of the mine and faced the hired goons and cops.

Compare today's Democrats, who are afraid to utter the word union, who are afraid to say anything that might make their big donors and Capitalist masters uncomfortable, to Torrez and her husband, Lorenzo, who had joined the Communist Party at the height of the Red Scare, and who didn't simply read Marxist literature in their living room but proudly and courageously led the struggle against Capitalism in the workplace.

In the American system, with only two parties able to make policy and only two parties having access to the media, it's up to Democrats to represent the interests of working Americans. It's up to Democrats to counter Conservative propaganda. It's up to Democrats to create the social space for unions. It's to Democrats to pass the Employee Free Choice Act that has has been languishing for years that would remove some of the formidable barriers to union organizing. It's up to Democrats to give voice to the hopes and dreams of working Americans, to inspire them to participate in the system, to get them interested enough so the Democratic Party has the political power it needs to represent working Americans interests. They don't do any of it. Period. They are utter and complete failures.

The film Salt of the Earth should be required viewing in New Mexico public schools, and it would be if there still existed a Democratic Party.

Former miner and current Bayard City Council member, 72-year-old Zeke Santa Maria, sums things pretty well in his comments to a Silver City Sun-News reporter:
Santa Maria said the mine workers voted overwhelmingly against the union, because "greed got to them." He claims mine workers receive a bonus at the Tyrone Mine which workers at Chino Mine did not because they were unionized. Freeport McMoRan did not confirm or deny this statement by press time.

Santa Maria said the mine workers at Chino Mine made a mistake.

"In time it'll work against them," Santa Maria predicted. "The union did a lot for this county."

The decertification vote comes as American workers have not advanced their living standard for 30 years, since the advent of Reaganomics, and as new evidence released today shows American workers losing even more ground. A Wall Street Journal headline of today reads "Job Growth Rebounds, but Wages Lag." An article in Peoples Pundit Daily explains that most jobs being created are at or close to minimum wage and/or part time, and that more workers have given up and stopped looking for work than at the "official" end of the recession. It also mentions that for the first time, retirees have better economic prospects than young people do.

None of this is in the headlines of the mainstream media as it breathlessly trumpets record stock prices, profits and mergers, nor is that fact that the sector doing the most hiring, as it has been for some years now, is the "temp worker" industry.  As Syracuse University professor Gretchen Purser showed in her study of the temp industry, where she actually worked as a temp for three years, workers must show up at the temp agency early in the morning and wait in a filthy waiting room to be dispatched to a job. Only while they are at the job do they receive minimum wage pay. A couple more hours of unpaid labor are spent going back to the agency and waiting for a check for that day's pay. From it the agency deducts transportation costs to and from the job and any other costs like required safety equipment. Workers end up with between $20 and $40 per day. Most live in shelters or on the street. This is the sector doing the most hiring, and how the government can claim the unemployment rate is falling.

We, the American working people, have let this happen to us. We have no one else to blame but us. We've demanded nothing of the Democratic party. We're in the process of learning a hard lesson. Our paid vacations and second homes, our Social Security and Medicare, weren't always there. People fought and died for them. It's probably too late for my generation to do do anything. The trend is established and it's getting worse. It'll be up to the young people who, like the miners in Bayard, NM, saw, will see what life is like when corporations run the country as they please, and when Democrats let them.

Wednesday, October 1, 2014

Democrats Come Out In Favor Of It

In an act of desperation, New Mexico's Democrats are appealing to the party's Liberal base to come out and vote in November. Senator Tom Udall is running around in jeans pretending to be in favor of appealing the Citizens United Supreme Court decision that legalizes bribery. Michelle Grisham, meanwhile, sent me an email today urging me to attend a rally featuring Udall and Elizabeth Warren.

Warren, a Democratic senator from Massachusetts, is a favorite of progressive Democrats because she wants to re-regulate finance capital and banks and wants to tax Wall Street transactions and use the money to forgive student loan debts. Grisham and Udall favor none of these things, evidenced by the fact that they have never uttered a word about them and are not campaigning on them, so Grisham in her email was careful not mention any of them and referred to Warren with the innocuous-sounding label "consumer advocate" which will not upset any of her big donors

Campaign disclosure forms show Udall's net worth to be $2.66 million and that in the less than two years she has been in office Grisham has doubled her net worth and is rapidly approaching millionaire status.