Saturday, February 27, 2016

The Evil Empire

Civilian homes in Sa'da, Yemen  - Amnesty International

Some 400,000 people have been killed in the US proxy war against Yemen, more than half of them civilians, according to Brown University's Watson Institute. There's an article in Salon that provides a rundown of the barbarity being committed against Yemen's civilian population by the US and Saudi Arabia. Doctors Without Borders clinics, hospitals and food warehouses are being intentionally bombed. At least half the population is starving, perhaps as much as 80 percent. Saudi Arabia does most of the actual killing but under US direction and with US arms, including deadly, inhumane cluster bombs made in Tennessee.

The US currently has at least five ongoing wars in the Middle East -- Yemen, Syria, Iraq, Afghanistan and Libya -- several more interventions ongoing in Africa, the Ukraine situation started and funded by the US continues and the US has destabilized Asia with Obama's "Pivot to Asia" and ongoing aggression against China and North Korea.

None of the presidential candidates would significantly alter our imperial, warmongering course; the fulfillment of the Neocon designed plan hatched by old cold warriors upon the dissolution of the Soviet Union to make up for our declining material prosperity by using our bloated military in a reckless and savage attempt to rule the world, and making we the people pay for it with ever declining living standards. 

Thursday, February 18, 2016

Democrats - Party Of Half A Loaf

"The superdelegates are exactly the sort of people that Sanders has positioned his campaign in opposition to -- the aristocrat class of the party, who for decades have offered a half loaf when people like Sanders have demanded a whole one."

This from Chris Cillizza of the Washington Post, the inside the beltway official cheerleader of the Democratic Party's imperial wars. The Post has already endorsed Hillary Clinton, standard bearer for those who have changed the Democratic Party from one based in working class Kenseyian Economics to one that promotes Reaganomics and made it a party of Republicans who are liberal on a couple social issues like abortion and gay marriage. Among the half loafers are superdelegates and Clinton supporters Michelle Grisham, Tom Udall, Martin Heinrich and Ben Lujan, all experts at sponsoring legislation that sounds good to voters but does nothing to improve their pocket books. Who see nothing wrong with their votes to cut the federal every single year of the Obama Administration while increasing military spending and starting new wars, while inequality skyrockets, wages fall and the American dream is shipped to foreign countries in empty container ships on their way back to the countries where Americans jobs have gone.

New Mexico's statewide Democrats, also official "aristocrat class" water toters, have for years been offering half a loaf if even that with their legislative agenda of tax cuts and free job training for businesses at taxpayer expense and nothing for the working class, and with their reliable opposition to ethics reform thereby ensuring continuation of a corrupt status quo.

Tuesday, February 16, 2016

New Mexico Democrats Favor Corrupt Status Qou

A bill that would have created an ethics commission to oversee New Mexico's corruption laden statewide elected officials died today in a Democratic controlled state Senate committee.

The bill died when its Republican sponsor withdrew it because the Democratic controlled committee made changes to it that rendered it toothless.

If you're looking for reasons for why the majority of New Mexicans don't bother voting, it's because there's no reason to. Republicans and Democrats officeholders are in office to cater to the interests of the ruling class, which they see as aligned with their own. New Mexico politics is a closed club. Ballot access is tightly controlled by the two parties and voter participation is discouraged. New Mexico isn't unique in this.

The majority of New Mexicans, by refusing to have anything to do with New Mexico politics, are making their voices heard loud and clear, and New Mexico politicians, as the Democrats in the senate did today, have again let us know what they think by keeping their hands firmly pressed over their ears.

Sunday, February 14, 2016

The Real Center Asserts Itself

It's interesting that young people are providing the bulk of the Bernie Sanders surge, when he's essentially talking about reviving New Deal policies that they've never experienced, while the Democratic Party establishment, most of whom did experience them, who grew up under and went to college and became prosperous because of them, are the ones desperately trying to beat Sanders back.

It's not Sanders they are trying to beat back, of course, but what he represents. It's the social unrest, the dissatisfaction with the status quo being felt by the mass of the American public. Sanders, and his minority party manifestation Donald Trump, are simply the latest vehicles through which that dissatisfaction and unrest are being expressed.

The Democratic Party political establishment's attempt to derail Sanders -- who is talking about traditional liberal policies, after all, not seizing corporations in the name of the state -- is a reminder that change doesn't come from the political establishment but is forced onto the political establishment by society; either in the form of social movements or more diffused societal attitudes, and both.

The status quo, which Clinton supporters have begun to refer to euphemistically as pragmatism or practical solutions, means Neoliberal economic policies --Reaganomics --  and a Neocon foreign policy; Clinton has no interest in interfering with the ability of corporations to make massive profits while paying their workers less and less, and she has promised not only to continue to use our vast military war machine to brutalize people across the globe but to increase its use.

All of New Mexico's federal legislative delegation are superdelegates pledged to Hillary Clinton with the possible exception of Ben Lujan, who perhaps because of his position as head of the Democratic Congressional Campaign Committee may have remained neutral; I've seen his status as a Clintonite superdelegate reported both ways.

But Martin Heinrich, Tom Udall and Michelle Grisham are on record as pledged to Clinton as superdelegates. That means they've pledged to maintain massive income and wealth inequality, and stagnant wages and living standards for American working people. Heinrich, Udall and Grisham have pledged to continue our warmongering in the Middle East and our reckless bullying of nuclear superpowers China and Russia by pretending that they're threatening someone or something somehow.

Heinrich, Udall and Grisham, by supporting Clinton, are saying, as they've been saying one way or another throughout their political careers, this is the way it is. We can tinker. Make insignificant reforms. But it's no use to dream of anything better.

Heinrich, Udall and Grisham have told us that we've got to suck it up, our best days are behind us, this county belongs to the rich. 

Note: I mentioned that the dissatisfaction and unrest, the rejection of the status quo, is being expressed on the Republican side by support for Donald Trump and the explicit rejection of status quo candidates such as "Jeb" Bush. A very cogent analysis of what the overall dynamics of the presidential primaries says about our current historical moment is provided in this article by Andrew Levine, an academic and author who now is with the Institute for policy Studies, a left leaning think tank.

The photo: I've been seeing it here and there, even as a painting on Amazon, but this series of photos in the UK's Daily Mail may be the source

Monday, February 8, 2016

Millenials and Socialism

From the Washington Post three days ago a chart -- from an article titled "Millennials have a higher opinion of Socialism than of Capitalism" -- showing results of yet another poll about Americans' attitudes towards Socialism and Capitalism, to bolster my last post where there are links to other studies.

Millennials -- our future -- and Democrats view Socialism favorably overall while everyone else views Capitalism more favorably, but if you click on a link in the article it leads to another piece that talks about polls over the past few years that show that attitudes on this are fairly rapidly shifting.

Sunday, February 7, 2016

Dialectics Dude Is Back

I had gotten my fuel the other night at Speedy's truck stop at the NM-AZ state line on the Navajo Reservation and on the way to the bathroom passed the the little laundromat where a big screen TV is usually on Fox News, and looked up to see a broadly grinning Newt Gingrich tell the host that the Democratic presidential candidate could well be an "open Socialist!"

Bernie Sanders is no Socialist but he hasn't run from the Democratic Socialist label, but maybe Newt Gingrich, despite surely being aware of polling that shows Sanders beating all of the Republican candidates by fairly wide margins, by bigger margins than Hillary Clinton would, thinks he can turn that around with some good old red baiting. At least he knew the Fox News audience he was playing to thrills at the mention of the word Socialism.

There are supporters of Clinton who've tried to instill fear into potential Sanders voters by raising the specter that he isn't electable because Republicans will smear him with the Socialist label. They, too, know about those polls, and it will be interesting to see how their efforts to use Socialism against Sanders pan out. It's no longer far fetched to postulate that the Socialism smears might even help him. Conservatism, the economic philosophy of the "New Democrats" behind Clinton, as a philosophy is losing ground to Socialism, especially among the young people who are taking the brunt of Capitalism's failure to provide a decent standard of living for increasing shares of the population, or even provide the hope for one in the future.

Capitalism just can't capture peoples' imagination like it once did, and there's reputable polling showing that young people have a more favorable view of Socialism than they do of Capitalism (Pew), which probably accounts for the fact that Sanders drew 70 percent of the youth vote in this week's Democratic Iowa primary. Polls even show that as much as 36 percent of the general population view Socialism favorably even when you include conservatives (Gallup.)

What we're seeing is a shift in the electorate that's partly generational and partly due to America's changing ethnic makeup. But it's also that, as the Cold War propaganda that once caused in Americans a knee-jerk aversion to Socialism fades from memory, people generally are realizing that Capitalism simply hasn't delivered on the promises made by people like Ronald Reagan and the Republicans an Democrats in his wake who have tried to purge all vestiges of Socialism from the US political-economic system.

Awhile back the local paper ran an article that described remarks made by Albuquerque's Republican Mayor, Richard Berry, after two heinous crimes had occurred -- a road rage incident in which a young child was shot and the shooting of a police officer. The article included this:

"Berry said no one is responsible for what happened to Garcia and Webster except the criminals who shot them."

The statement was completely foreign to the situation at hand, unless you understood it in a political context. Barry was making a political statement; attempting, by bolstering the philosophy of conservatism, to head off any talk about having to improving the lives of poor people or change society in some way.

Marx, in his philosophical writings, worked out how our economic system, Capitalism, because it sets the rules for how we live out our daily lives and how we make decisions about the future, creates the reality each of us lives. He called this dialectical materialism. The dialectic is a concept developed by Hegel that explains the complex interactions between all things. It shows how when A affects B, A is also affected by B. Marx took the concept of the dialectic further and showed how Capitalism fits into it, by affecting everything it comes into contact with.

In a way he was answering the age old "nature-nurture" question; Are we the products of our environment or are we hard wired by nature to act in certain ways? If, as people Berry maintain, we rob banks because we choose to, why do those type crimes predominant among the lower economic classes? Rich people commit crimes, too. Does crime in general have something to do with growing up in a certain kind of home and social environment? Many liberals tend to believe so, while conservatives steadfastly hold to notions about personal choice, which also happens to excuses their dog eat dog policies.

Marx of course came down on the nurture side. We're the products of our environment, and our environment is the Capitalist economic system and its attendant state, civil society and home life, all of which are conditioned by Capitalism.

But why did Berry choose to insert into remarks about two tragedies his assertion of "nature" over "nurture?" Why have that in the middle of a sometimes tearful talk in which he was trying to reassure the city?

On some level he's no doubt aware of the resurgence of Marxist thinking that's taking place, and that in it's various popular expressions Marxist ideas are providing, to more and more people, a different way of understanding what's happening around us and to us. He surely knows that spells trouble for people like him, who adhere to the "personal responsibility" ethic and who don't want anyone to blame society's problems on the economic system, or the economy, or his policies. He fears it and rightly so. New Gingrich fears it. "New Democrats" fear it. From city hall to the studios of Fox News to Clinton campaign headquarters, it's dawning on the powers that be that there's a reckoning coming, that blame for a fraying society, the obscene inequalities, and the millions of disappearing futures is about to be placed where it belongs. Dialectics Dude is back.