Monday, May 30, 2016

Remembering The War Dead

Six million people have died at the hands of the US war machine since WWII, as America celebrates militarism on Memorial Day.

That figure is a conservative estimate and includes civilians and soldiers, says the Washington Posts's John Tirman, who in a 2012 column wondered why we don't commemorate those war dead or even acknowledge them. He calls it "less oversight than habit." I'd accept that and add that we also have a habit of not considering foreigners as really being people, but then he may be less disgusted by it than I am.

Jeff Bachman, writing in The Hill two years later, acknowledged our lack of memory, too.

"Such callous disregard for the lives of others simply cannot be justified when one considers the unequivocal fact that the United States is by far the most militarily active nation in the world."

He says we've been at war continually in the Middle East since 1980, and during that time every president has initiated some kind of military action there.

And I'd add that to the Bush massacres in Iraq and Afghanistan Obama has added Libya, Syria and Yemen. More hundreds of thousands dead, three more countries destroyed.

So happy Memorial Day, and remember that this continues unabated and with our acquiescence, and please, join me in trying to stop it. Thank you.

Sunday, May 29, 2016

Donald Trump's Populism

Populism has a long history in the US, but the term is ambiguous as it's commonly used, and is often given a negative connotation. I use it in the sense that a Populists' support comes from the demos, the public, as opposed to from what we think of as the establishment, and has value for that reason.

Donald Trump's appeals to the racism and nativism of the common man get everyone upset, but he's not causing racism and nativism, only taking advantage of it. He may be making them worse to some degree, which is bad, but is also making people aware that they exist, which is good. People ignore that second part, perhaps because they don't want to own up to its implications. Nor are they acknowledging the good of the fact that the people are having their concerns aired, no matter what they are.

People sometimes say, 'Yes but Mussolini made the trains run on time.' In other words, there was some good to Italian fascism. That's the height of irony, but the trains did run on time.

People use the same logic to justify US Imperialism. It's not that explicit, and much of it is "internalized" and spoken more by how we live our lives.

We Americans have a higher standard of living than people in many places, but we have it in good measure at their expense, the expense of their cheap or stolen resources and cheap or stolen labor, and the expense of their lives sometimes.

Probably two million people have died across the Middle East in the past decade or so as a consequence of US involvement in that region. We don't say, 'Yes, but the trains that take commuters into New York City run on time,' but we might as well. We say the same thing by how we are so oblivious to those two million peoples' lives, by how we shrug off all the negative fallout of US Capitalist Imperialism in general.

Trump, and Bernie Sanders, both in their way are countering that shrug. They are a jolt to the system that embeds it in us. That's good. There's fallout, to be sure, but along with everything else Trump is saying, he's said we should talk to Putin and to North Korea and downsize US Imperialism. That's huge, and it's the opposite of Hillary Clinton, who participates directly in demonizing foreign leaders and killing foreigners.

Foreign policy isn't a focus of the media frenzy around Trump but it's central to how I see things because those two million lives mattered to me. If a few million Americans are upset by Trump, or inconvenienced because the US economy tanks, but two million people who live somewhere else but talk funny and have weird religions are alive, that's good.

I don't share the belief of many that Trump can cause harm to the country. There are many checks and balances in place to prevent this, both formal and informal. Formally there's the two houses and the courts. Informally there's the huge and vast government bureaucracy, the media, and last but not least public opinion. Public opinion served as a check on the most odious social engineering designs of Ronald Reagan and George W Bush. It doesn't stop US warmongering, which is a more significant problem, but that's the issue with Trump.

Trump is reviled by many because he injures their sense of self, which is tied up with nationalism or what we like to cal patriotism, and which, because it is, makes it easier for politicians to pursue foreign wars than to privatize Social Security, which would be less harmful on a global scale than any one of the several wars the US has launched in the past decade.

Wednesday, May 25, 2016

Unions And Democrats Officially Part Ways

The union representing Albuquerque and Bernalillo County firefighters has endorsed the Republican candidate in an important New Mexico House of Representatives election.

This is yet another indication of the pathetic state of the Democratic Party, which, nationally and in New Mexico has turned its back on the Labor Movement and abandoned the working class.

New Mexico Democrats won't even utter the word "union," lest they be accused of supporting unions. I've cited many instances of this on this blog, and recently posted a link to US senator Martin Heinrich's most recent annual Labor Day greeting, which doesn't mention unions.

Which constitutes a huge slap in the face not only to union members but to the countless workers who struggled and even died to raise living standards for American workers to point that American workers were the envy of the world, before Democrats like Heinrich decided to abandon them.

Sunday, May 22, 2016

The End Of The Democratic Party

Updated below

Conservative Democrats -- those people who think they're Liberals because they favor gay marriage and abortion but are fiscally conservative and militaristic -- are in the process of laying down the law to the Left wing of the party as represented by the 40 percent it who have backed Bernie Sanders in the Democratic primaries. The message being laid down by everyone from bloggers to the national media is to shut up and get in line.

And the unspoken part of the message is that the issues voiced by Sanders -- things like declining living standards for the majority of Americans and corporate ownership of the Democratic Party --  won't survive past the convention. Hillary Clinton's rhetoric and party policy will shift even further to the right for the general election to attract Republican voters and donors disaffected by Trump.

The shift in Clinton's rhetoric is happening already, contends Glen Ford, a long time political commentator well known to most Progressives and the publisher of Black Agenda Report and Black Agenda Radio, who in his latest column says he sees the end of both parties as we now know them. Ford, who is Black, also explains what significance it will have for Blacks, who, despite backing Clinton this time are much further to the Left than her. He sees new political formations coming and as many as four parties resulting from the fracturing of both the Republican and Democratic parties taking place simultaneously before our eyes.

The aim of the Clinton wing -- the Democratic Leadership Council wing -- was always to defeat and silence the party's Left, or Progressive wing. Party conservatives see in current developments the chance to deliver the final blow and they think they can get away with because of Trump.

They also seem to be unaware of how out of touch they are with the party's Progressive base, and the perhaps even larger number of Progressives who no longer identify as Democrats. They haven't taken heed either of the polling the past few years that shows unmistakably that a majority of young people harbor antoi Capitalist views and consider themselves more Socialist than Democrat.

Various scenarios along the lines Ford writes about are being openly discussed among Sanders supporters, many of whom absolutely will not vote for Clinton because of her views and because of how the party has treated them during the primaries. Going their own way is no longer a fringe position. The idea no longer seems far fetched. The hold the Democratic Party has long held over Progressives by evoking fear of the Republicans is breaking down rapidly and for several reasons:

  - The Republican Party itself is breaking down and is less to be feared
  - Progressives are beginning to understand how contemptuous the Democratic Party is of them and how little it thinks it needs them
  - With the Sanders campaign Progressives have gained a sense of their power
 - They have no choice. If they keep going along with the Democratic Party life will keep getting worse, especially for younger Americans who are bearing the brunt of the dismantling of the "American Dream." They understand that if they have any hope of avoiding a dismal future they must take matters into their own hands.

Update: A poll released today shows Donald Trump leading Hillary Clinton. The analysis attributes it to an advantage Republicans have in registered voters, and in Republicans coalescing behind Trump now that he's the nominee.

The war Democrats have been waging on Sanders supporters could end up being very ill advised.

Saturday, May 21, 2016

Monthly Fireworks Budget

I just saw a graphic on social media that points out what a low income person's budget would look like if they budgeted like the US government does. If they had $100 they'd spend $66 of it on fireworks.

The US of course spends more on its military, close to $1 trillion, than the next eight countries combined, which includes our so-called menacing enemies China and Russia.

You might argue that our massive military budget creates jobs, but we're dropping smart bombs that cost $1 million each from planes that cost $35 million each. Workers get none of that. It goes into rich peoples' bank accounts in Panama. It's not re-invested in the US economy and taxes aren't even paid on it.

Hillary Clinton wants more of this. How dare anyone say I have to vote for her.

Bernie Sanders and Donald Trump want less of it, but that's not the point. Being moral is the point. Being human is the point. Caring about average Americans, giving one single damn about the innocent people those bombs are landing on means you can't vote for Hillary Clinton.

Thursday, May 19, 2016


Bernie Sanders will hold a rally in Vado, NM on Saturday that I'd like to go to. Not so much because of Bernie Sanders. I've always liked Bernie Sanders because he never shied away from the Socialist label but I'm not a Sanders supporter, having become disillusioned with electoral politics generally.

It's not how change is achieved. Mass movements like the Labor Movement, Civil Rights Movement, Women's Movement and Environmental Movement cause change. Revolutions cause change. Big shifts in public opinion cause change. The political system is set up to prevent change, to protect the status quo.

I'd be interested in changing the political system but as it's constructed it's not going to make any difference if a Sanders is elected. I'll go and vote for him as a way to dilute the power of the Capitalist class. As a protest vote, as blogger New Mexican who sometimes comments here has said he and his wife will do.

Sanders will hold rallies in Santa Fe and Albuquerque on Friday. I'll have worked Thursday night, then Friday morning have to do my bi weekly banking quickly because at 9:30 I'll be closing on my little 1949 stucco South Valley house with the big south facing back yard, so I'm not likely to be in shape that afternoon to drive downtown, find parking, walk, and then wait in a long line for a long time with a bunch of people who wouldn't give me the time of day let alone make eye contact if we passed on the street. The reporter and writer in me would like to go and observe the Bernie Sanders phenomena as it plays out via his mostly Anglo "middle class" New Mexico supporters, to watch and take notes as they emit throaty roars in this latest manifestation of the crippled, subdued, and closely guarded liberal impulse they still have but are afraid to manifest by how they live and treat people every other day of the year.

Vado is different, at least my memory of it is. It's a little farming town along the river between Las Cruces and El Paso. I-10 goes through there now and at that one exit are two independent truck stops each with a nice Mexican restaurant. The independents are much nicer places generally than the cold, glaringly lit chain truck stops of the big truck stop corporations. When I was driving over the road I'd always stop in Vado if I had time. Before I ate I'd often go jogging on the road that goes past the truck stops. Going away from the river, after it crosses the interstate, it becomes dirt as it winds up into the rocky dirt hills. I almost never saw anyone up there. I like to run on dirt. It's better on the knees. I also like to run uphill. In running uphill on dirt I get more exercise per unit of time, I tell myself. Really it's because it does my ego a lot of good.

I've been doing the nightly relay, Albuquerque to Holbrook and back, east and west on I-40, for about five years now and haven't been to Vado in quite awhile. I wonder who will show up at the Sanders rally, which is being held at the elementary school. That's probably down on the old highway along the river that passes the farms and grain co-ops and supply stores. Sanders doesn't poll well among "Latinos" nationwide. There's a Sanders Las Cruces Facebook group. I suppose they'll be there and some supporters from El Paso will come over.

From the looks of Google maps both truck stops are closed now. I see no trucks or cars parked at either. Those little independents have been disappearing since I got into trucking 20 years ago. I wonder what the Hispanic girls are doing who used to work in them and who live in the mobile homes that dot the slopes along the river. They are doing the same, I assume, as they've been doing for the last 400 years. Marrying and having children. Living and abiding. People who are also guarded in their own way but who, compared to the Anglos who have come out here, in their ways are more forthcoming and honest. People whose company, when I have to have any, I've come to marginally prefer. People who are the seeds of the coming Latino majority that, if anyone does, will transform this country and make it live up to the promise its founders, if they ever intended to, were incapable of keeping.

Tuesday, May 17, 2016

You Tell Me

Martin Heinrich is boasting about getting more border guards -- although immigration has slowed to a trickle because the US economy is so bad.

Michelle Grisham is harping about women not being paid as much as men -- although no one can find a job that pays a living wage.

Ben Lujan is saying Democrats have brought the economy back -- but doesn't mention that it's only for the 1 percent.

Tom Udall is posting pictures of himself wearing a cowboy hat and smiling.

New Mexico Democrats never talk about the raw deal the American people are getting, and they've all pledged their convention votes to Hillary Clinton, who is now the standard bearer of the bipartisan coalition that brought about the current state of affairs, and who promises more of the same.

In private, an elected Democrat will say that their rationale is that the can't talk about certain things if they want to get elected, and that if they aren't elected they can't do anything, so they have to do what's necessary to get elected. It's an endless cycle. They never do anything so they can keep getting re-elected. It's about themselves.

So what are New Mexico Democrats good for?

Sunday, May 15, 2016

Voting With Their Futures

This chart simply demonstrates how the IMF has lowered its forecast growth rate (dotted lines) every year as growth itself has slowed.

Globalization/Neoliberalism/Reaganomics/Thatcherism/Austerity - whatever you call, some of us have been protesting it and trying to get others to be aware of it but to little or no avail. Fortunately it looks like it's killing itself. Unfortunately it will take a lot of us with it.

Gail Tverberg, who writes for solidly mainstream, Capitalist,, mostly analyzes and writes about supply and demand factors that affect the oil industry but a recurring theme in her articles is that as wages decline in countries like the US, as jobs are shipped to lower wage countries (and as union density declines I might add), growth not only in the US but everywhere must necessarily slow down. It's simple supply and demand. No money in the pocket, no demand.

Capitalism doesn't work unless there's growth. Period. People don't invest. They hang on to their money. Just as American consumers are, finally, saving, because they know that the economy hasn't recovered for anyone but the 1 percent. They can feel what's shown in the chart above, and in the fact that budget cutting Barak Obama is on his way to becoming the first president in US history to never have a single year with an annual growth rate of more than 3 percent.

The masses, however, aren't making the connection between cause and effect, in part because elected Democrats talk about everything but this, and so the masses keep electing fiscally conservative Democrats, like we do in New Mexico, and Republicans and people like the Clintons, all of whom believe their own propaganda and are too afraid not to.

Saturday, May 14, 2016

As Palestine Commemorates The Nakba (May 15)

A "Political Decision" by the International Community

Someone has put together a five minute segment from a talk by Israeli born professor of history Illan Pappé about the violent 1948 formation of Israel when Zionists took over half of Palestine and expelled most of the people living there. Here Pappé talks about how Israel got away with it. Pappé is one of the Israeli "New Historians" who began questioning the story of their country's founding after the Israel government in 1980 began releasing archives from the foundation period. Pappé was eventually hounded from his job at Haifa University in Israel and now teaches in the UK.

If you view this video at Youtube you can find Pappe's longer talk in the list of videos on the right hand side. Pacifica Radio has used this and other of Pappé's talks during their fundraisers and they're informative and fascinating, not least because Pappé is Jewish. Although support for Israel among Jews is said to be gradually eroding, especially among younger Jews, it seems there remains overwhelming cultural pressure among Jews to not criticize Israel publicly despite the fact that Zionism has never been universally supported by worldwide Jewry and in fact may even be a minority viewpoint. Groups like Jewish Voice for Peace are under continual bombardment from supporters of Israel as are authors like former Albuquerque resident Richard Forer, whose excellent book about his transformation from AIPAC member to supporter of Palestinian rights that describes in detail the formation of Israel I've reviewed here.

Friday, May 13, 2016

I'm Fighting Hard For You

That's what they always say in their political fundraising appeals and electioneering, but as New Mexico Democrats furiously seek out things to talk about besides declining living standards and massive income inequality, a Wall Street hedge fund manager warns of the social pressures they are creating. (Note: Steve Rattner, chairman of Willett Advisors, specifically cites these in the first couple minutes of this interview.)

Monday, May 9, 2016


I'm so proud of how the Democrats New Mexico sends to congress stand up and express their outrage at injustices like this, and through their speeches and writings other deeds inspire the social conscious latent in the people and lead them in the struggle for the betterment of mankind.


Friday, May 6, 2016

The America We Deserve

The local paper printed an article -- US productivity shrinks again in the first quarter -- in the business section a couple days ago about the ongoing decline in "productivity," which is an economic term meaning how much you can get out of a worker. The article states that rising productivity is necessary for higher living standards for workers, because it allows employers to make more money at a given level of expenses and therefore they can pay workers more.

Productivity has increased an average 2.2 percent per year over the past 68 years, but since 2007 its been headed downward, the article states.

Down at the end it says productivity is declining because wages are so low that it's cheaper for businesses to hire people to do things than to spend money to automate. It notes that the last time productivity shot up was during the 1990s when a lot of things were being "computerized."

In the 1990s I was driving local runs in the Chicago area. A distribution center where I picked up a load almost every day had just installed a computerized sorting system. Instead of sorting everything by hand, boxes moved around the warehouse on conveyors and then past the dock doors, which had semi trailers backed into them. Sensors read the bar codes on the boxes and when a box got to a certain place, an arm pushed it off the conveyor and down a roller and into one of the semi trailers. 

Now, I pick up a load two or three times a week in Albuquerque at a warehouse on Broadway near I-40. Everything is done by hand. Trucks are unloaded by hand, everything is sorted by hand, stacked on pallets by hand and shrink wrapped by hand. One or two workers and I roll the pallets into my truck with "pallet jacks", a kind of manual fork lift that you push by hand. 

All the workers in this warehouse are "temps," by the way.  That entire warehouse has only two employees, the boss and the assistant boss. Every afternoon they figure out how many workers they'll need the next day, and the next morning that many temps show up.

Who are these temps? People who couldn't find a job anyplace else. Presumable they are the people who were laid off in the 1990s when the warehouse in Chicago went fully automated. They've been going from warehouse to warehouse, and now temp agency to agency, their wages steadily declining until they make probably half what they made in 1990.

The article doesn't talk about that, or the fact that the extra money -- the money that used to be shared with the workers and steadily raised their living standards over those 68 years-- now all goes into the pockets of the 1 percent, or rather, into their bank accounts in Panama.

The article doesn't say that the living standards of Americans, on average, are on the way down. Because it's the business section. The paper doesn't have a labor section. No paper or TV or radio station has a labor section, and Democrats stopped uttering the word "union" a long time ago.

Monday, May 2, 2016

Superdelegates Get Stiffed

Bernie Sanders supporters awhile back were complaining that a fundraising scheme under which the Clinton campaign was sharing campaign cash with state parties was why so many "superdelgates" came out in support for Clinton so early. They were getting a lot of campaign cash out of the deal.

It appears, according to Politico, that the Clinton campaign is just keeping the money, and the arrangement now looks more like it was a Clinton money laundering scheme to circumvent campaign finance laws.

I wonder, myself, about something else. Sanders has actually out-raised Clinton by a hefty margin by getting multiple millions of small donations from working people fed up with economic inequality, imperial wars and the rest of what Clinton represents. Perhaps the Clinton campaign, when Sanders was reporting his record contributions while winning state after state, decided to keep the money out of a sense of panic.

The lesson, to me, however, is that if you want campaign cash, promote policies that benefit working people. That's where the money is. New Mexico Democrats, take heed. You do the opposite.

And if you sold your superdelegate vote and your soul for a few pieces of silver but never got them, it serves you right.

Sunday, May 1, 2016

Happy May Day!

International Worker's Day, also called May Day, although it has become known for being celebrated mainly in Communist and Socialist countries, has its roots in the American Labor Movement. That story can be read here. It was originally a commemoration of the 1887 state murder/execution of three Chicago labor activists on trumped up charges, men who were part of a massive working class uprising that gave us the eight hour day, among other achievements.

Alas, in America, as part of Capitalism's reassertion of its dominance over the working class under Democrats, the holiday was moved to September and renamed Labor Day. Echoes of that dominance and submission are witnessed every Labor Day when New Mexico's Democratic politicians issue their annual Labor Day greetings without ever mentioning the world "union." They don't even want their names appearing on the same page with the word "union." It's a sad and disgraceful ritual by people whose very living standard is the result of the struggles of the Labor Movement, and who should know that, and know that America became the world power it did because of the consumer buying power of its working class, as a direct result of the Labor Movement, and unions. Unfortunately to them it's all about them.

The beautiful bright red graphic above was posted on social media today by former Honduran President Manual Mel Zelaya, who after sitting out of politics for several years after the Hillary Clinton engineered coup that removed him from office in 2009, has reentered Honduran politics in a low key way.

In a better world Zelaya, a rich Honduran who as president put his own life at risk to better the lives of working Hondurans, and who is still fighting, would be a role model for our own weak-kneed, self centered, self serving political class.

But happy damn May Day anyway.