Wednesday, November 30, 2016

Indian Land And A Disgruntled Reader

A couple things. One, about that Dakota pipeline, the people there, the Sioux, say that pipeline was originally supposed to go through Bismark, ND, but the white people there didn't want it potentially messing up their water so it wasn't put there.

So what happened was, the army corp engineers and the pipeline company decided to put it through Indian land thinking there's nothing the Indians can do about it, unlike the white people in Bismark. It's pure and simple racism.

Meanwhile the police are out there at the pipeline site enforcing the Capitalists' profits and their right to ruin someone else's land like a private mafia and we're paying for and I've heard nothing about Bismark in the mainstream media, which is covering that after a fashion, which must be why Martin Heinrich decided to send me a mass fundraising email today that says nothing about Bismark either and basically says, whichever side you're on in that issue, I'm fighting hard for you.

He writes:

"There is a way to respect the Standing Rock Sioux and those that care deeply about these important resources, but setting a high stakes showdown with protesters is only going to create more provocation and violence."

"These important resources" is telling. What he's saying, if you read carefully, is that the people who own the rights to the "resources" have to be shown "respect". I.e., their right to profit from oil must be respected.

By all means. Glad you're on a side, senator.

He never says what should be done but wants you to sign his petition calling on the president to do something. I've read that those petitions never get delivered anywhere but are used for data collection by the professional fundraising companies these politicians hire.

Also, I've been criticized in a comment for being mean and venomous. I didn't publish it. I recently changed the blog so I have to approve of or "moderate" comments before I publish them to end being harassed by this same person.

I can tell you that as far as I know I've only been mean and venomous with people I have a history with and who have doublecrossed me in some way or in some other way conducted themselves like an asshole, and with whom I've run out of patience. I guess you can argue that I shouldn't be mean and vile to them on the blog. Go ahead, I don't care. But if you want the reason that's why.

Anyone who knows me knows I'm a pretty generous person and free with my compliments on what people say on their blogs, but if you say you're going to do something for me and then when it's time to do it ignore my emails and don't answer my phone calls and leave me in a serious lurch, or if you come after me and constantly act like some self absorbed asshole who's always trying to repair your own injured little ego at my expense, you're probably going to hear something from me eventually.

My motto is, I give no shit and I take none.

Sunday, November 27, 2016

Fidel Plus One

I'm still, of course, mourning the death of Fidel, not made any easier by the venom and hatred toward him that's coming, exclusively, from the United States that land of the Venal and Home of the Hateful. A country that, despite being opened up to the entire world and world of ideas by the internet is still a pretty self referential, brainwashed place. As Benjamin Dixon said in response to a particularly vile and hateful comment about Fidel from the uniquely vile and hateful Ted Cruz, the depth of American discourse is this: "America good. Capitalism good. Castro bad. Anything other than laissez faire Capitalism bad."

Or as I put it in a little meme I made up with two photos of Fidel, in one joking around with Mohamed Ali and another with Nelson Mandela, "The insignificant and soon to be forgotten have all hated Fidel. The historic figures of our time, the moral giants, have all loved him."

Of course the immense contradiction in that never dawns on Americans who hold up people like Mandela and Ali as moral giants and disrespect the man who was respected by them.

And the fact that Fidel has always been admired worldwide has little to do with what actually became of the Cuban Revolution, about which there can be at least some legitimate debate as long as you take into account things like the suffocating 50 year US embargo, the repeated and continual attempts by the US to assassinate Fidel, and the actual accomplishments, in spite of those hindrances, of the Cuban Revolution, like universal free education through college and universal free healthcare, which the richest Capitalist country ever can't manage to provide for its own citizens.

No, Fidel was admired in large because he stood up to imperialism and colonialism, not just against Cuba but wherever it was taking place. He' s a towering historic figure and an inspiration to millions because he stood up to El Norte, the US, which never ceased to be infuriated by him from the moment he kicked it and its whoremongering and mafioso lackeys out of Cuba and then tried to make Cuba into a place where everyone benefited from the national wealth. In other words, the opposite of the US. The US ruling elite couldn't countenance an example of what it should be doing on its very border, while it never ceased to demonstrate astounding hypocrisy by fawning over and supporting regimes 10,000 times worse than anything that ever happened in Cuba, like Saudi Arabia to take just one which beheads and cuts the hands off its own people and where women aren't permitted to drive a car, or go out in public without a male family member chaperone.

Speaking of Syria and of US hypocrisy and imperialism, the situation with the illegal and immoral US regime change war against Syria is evolving rapidly right now and things aren't looking good for the US' al Quaida linked jihadist proxies, who our government and the compliant lapdogs in the US press almost laughingly refer to as the "moderate Syrian rebels." They are in mass retreat in Aleppo, and when the Syrian army finishes with them there it will turn to smaller remaining strongholds of the US proxy Islamic fundamentalist jihadists -- no wait -- moderate rebels.

It's ironic in a way because by the time he takes office there probably won't be a Syrian war for Donald Trump to end. A lot of us on the Left who refused to support Hillary Clinton and preferred Trump over her did it because she's a warmongering Neocon and not least because of Syria. When she was secretary of state she was instrumental in starting that war and promised -- it was a campaign promise on her web site -- to escalate that murderous debacle which has already caused 250,000 innocent civilian deaths and displaced millions more, which displacement has caused the European refugee crises that's facilitating the rise of right wingers and neo fascists all over Europe, who have already taken power in some places and are about to take power in others and who were instrumental in Brexit and will be in the probable breakup of the European Union.

Yes, it's ironic alright. As many have pointed out, despite everything the US empire threw at Fidel he went out on his own terms. And went out revered and respected around the globe.

And went out just as exceptional, record wealth and income inequality America, even as it indulges in its day of strutting around like banty roosters heaping disdain upon the Socialist Fidel Castro, is about to be ruled over by the Fascist Donald Trump.

Who says there's no justice in this world?

Friday, November 25, 2016

Adios Comrade

Working Class

Wouldn't you know it. The term "working class" is being widely used again, but it's because it's being used as shorthand for "those white trash subhuman misogynist racist idiots who voted for Donald Trump and who are completely different from enlightened, very well informed and highly intelligent me."

As in a sneering Washington Post blog in which Paul Waldmon, who is nowhere near getting over the defeat of Hillary Clinton, tees off on the slobbering morons who didn't vote for her so he can re-establish his own compensatory sense of superiority.

I often use the term "working class" in it's traditional "Marxist" meaning where it means everyone who works for a paycheck or a salary -- as opposed to people who live off invested capital and rent -- and as often as not I include that "paycheck" meaning in the sentence, because I think the more recently invented term "middle class" has everyone confused as to the meaning of the term "working class."

What we think of as the "middle class" is part of the working class. It's a subcategory that has some descriptive value. The term came into use when the American working class -- as a result of the Labor Movement and its influence on Capitalism and on politics -- had achieved a standard of living that was substantially higher than it had had from the advent of Capitalism until then.

The term also has value because it means a working class that is using its power such that it has raised its standard of living to a particular if not a precisely defined degree, but it's a harmful term also. After "middle class" began being used you'd still hear the term "working class" but it had come to mean, in popular parlance, the working poor, a kind of underclass, that part of the working class that had been left behind or hadn't made it yet. And, in peoples' imaginations and in the way they defined themselves, i.e. the way they identified, it divided the working class into two separate and distinct groups. Not in the traditional sense. Everyone thought of themselves as middle lass and no one thought of themselves as working class, but every member of the working class then felt superior to some vague, undefined grouping of others and not as if there were any bonds or even common interests between them.

I use the term working class a lot because I want to try to normalize it and to fix its meaning in the traditional Marxist sense. Those are are almost necessary conditions for the working class to see itself as a class -- i.e. to attain class consciousness. The ruling class has class consciousness. It thinks and acts as a class, that is, it thinks and acts in ways that further the interests of the class and by which it practices class solidarity. The working class doesn't because it doesn't have class consciousness. It doesn't practice solidarity as the ruling class does.

The introduction of the term "middle class" served to divide the working class, but identity politics divides it even further, and that's one of the ways in which identity politics is harmful. It divides us into ever small groupings.

That's why the Democratic Party, which has as its historic role the suppression of class consciousness and the prevention of a working class uprising, adopted it as its central pillar, and why, now, the Democratic Party and larger Liberal establishments are striving mightily to cast their recent election defeat in terms of identity politics -- it was because of misogyny, or it was because of racism or it was both, depending on who's talking. It wasn't about class but it was because of that deplorable white working class.

Besides serving the useful function of denigrating Trump voters and discrediting the real and tangible reasons they voted for him, the sullying of the term "working class" heads off a class consciousness that would occur under the working class banner; it discredits the working class anger and the profound  disillusionment with the Democratic Party that resulted in and drove the Bernie Sanders candidacy, and which still has the potential to result in and drive something more well organized, is independent of the party, and would be extremely powerful.

The struggle over the meaning of the election, like the struggle over the meaning of the working class, is literally the struggle of the working class to achieve class consciousness. The ruling class and its bourgeois handmaids in the Democratic Party and the Liberal establishment know that if and when the working class achieves class consciousness, as large segments of it did by way of the Labor Movement, it could mean the end to their perks and privileges and cushy lifestyles.

If the working class succeeds in defining the meaning of the election it will at the least mean more Socialism and less unregulated no holds barred neoliberal Clintonesque Capitalism, but it will mean, necessarily, Socialism in one form or another.

Wednesday, November 23, 2016

The Emporer Has No Brains

This is a compilation of prominent politicians and celebrities saying that Donald Trump would never, ever be elected president. It was more of a shock to me than it was gratifying seeing this. I don't have a television so miss out on all this dazzling insight and analysis.

The liberal consensus, as represented in these video clips, has egg on its face, which can only be good news, as they are at the core of the terminal rot of our Capitalist system and one of the main reasons behind the election of Donald Trump, instead of a warmongering whore of Wall Street, as president, which is also good news for America and for hundreds of thousands of people in other countries who were in the way of its imperial ambition.

Not that they know they have egg on their faces. Glenn Greenwald's The Intercept has a piece on Maggie Haberman, the New York Times reporter shown in the video clip laughing in Democratic Rep Keith Ellison's face when he warned that Trump could win the election. Ellison is the left leaning Minnesota Muslim and Bernie Sanders supporter who wants to be the new chair of the Democratic National Committee. The Intercept piece shows how Haberman and the rest of the liberal consensus are undercutting Ellison and pushing for a conservative DNC chair. In other words, circling the wagons against the unwashed hoards who despite their every effort to rig the primaries almost propelled Bernie Sanders to power, and doubling down on the thinking that handed the election to Trump, the same thinking that has gutted the American working class and left young people staring into a bleak future of temporary employment at low wage jobs with no benefits. The rot leading to a future where increasing economic insecurity will ensure that the lesser parts of our natures only become more prominent and we'll be divided as a class into ever smaller groupings.

It's up to the American people to reverse this trend, working with workers in other countries and with workers of differing ideological persuasions in our country to wrest power from the elites in all nations. The election of Trump is good news in that it was a rejection of the system. It has given the people as sense of their power. But the wresting of power won't be accomplished through a political system but in the streets and in neighborhood meetings of citizens and civil society organizations like independent third parties, Arab-American cooperation leagues, Native American-Palestinian alliances and the like. As long as Republicans can divert working class anger into us loathing each other, and as long as Democrats are able to channel the basic human impulse to create a better world behind it's disastrous lesser of two evil-ism strategy and into identity politics, people will sit on their couches staring into TV screens thinking on some unconscious level that Republicans or Democrats are looking after them.

They aren't. Only we can do that. We have the power to do it.

Monday, November 21, 2016

A Chance For Peace

President elect Donald Trump met today with Democratic representative Tulsi Gabbard of Hawaii, a Bernie Sanders backer, to listen to her reasons for ending the US regime change war against Syria, which has killed hundreds of thousands of people for no reason and created the massive refugee crises that has propelled right wing and neo fascists to power all over Europe. Trump has already said he wants to end that war and have better relations with Russia and Syria. Gabbard is rumored to be under consideration for a cabinet position in a Trump administration.

Hilary Clinton, and presumably those who voted for her, wanted to escalate the war against Syria and further ramp up tensions with nuclear armed Russia. Clinton wouldn't have met with Gabbard or given her the time of day.

Sunday, November 20, 2016

Martin Heiinrich: I'm For The Subaru Station Wagon Crowd And Not For You

This "tweet" on New Mexico US senator Martin Heinrich's twitter page is getting some attention.

It's a "pinned" tweet, meaning it stays at the top of his Twitter page even if he posts other tweets after it. Heinrich wants to make sure people see it.

Heinrich also wants to make sure people see that he posts nothing on his Twitter feed that indicates he's the least bit concerned about any of the other reactionary policies likely to result from a Trump administration that will affect less affluent New Mexicans' pocketbooks, their futures, their childrens' futures, their childrens' chances of ever going to college or living a decent life.

Martin Heinrich claims that he'll die for the sake of public lands, which are of interest primarily to a small segment of upper middle class white people. You can look up and down his Twitter feed and you won't find him proclaiming that he'll die to preserve Social Security or Medicare, or anything else that helps the less fortunate and that a Democrat ought to be concerned with, such as the decline in working peoples' living standards and wages over the past 40 years.

Twitter is the social media platform that's followed by the movers and shakers, the big time media, the rich and famous, the people who matter, the important people. Heinrich wants these people to know that even though he got elected as a Democrat he'll do nothing to interfere with their cushy lifestyles. He wants them to know that even though he's a senator from one of the poorest states in the country, one that's getting worse all the time, that doesn't concern him. He wants the upper crust to know that as long as they, his true constituency, do well and as long as he has a place to do his elk hunting, those poor working class suckers, who can't spare the gas to drive out to his precious public lands, who won't be wandering around out there sullying up his scenery, who vote him into office, can go straight to hell.

Heinrich's attitude, by the way, which most establishment Democrats have, is what handed the election to Donald Trump. Working people, the few who bothered to drag themselves to the polls after working for peanuts for eight, ten, twelve hours not knowing if they'd even have job the next day, would rather the system go down in flames. Their silent desperation, which yes, they often express in racist or sexist terms, having no other outlet left to them for their fear and anger, has become so acute that they think anything will be better than the way things are now. Martin Heinrich isn't concerned about them or their futures. He and his constituency will get through a Trump administration just fine. They're all set up, and doing well.

And Who, You Ask, Is David Ortiz?

David Ortiz is a Dominican Republic born baseball player who retired from the Boston Red Sox this year at 40. He hit 38 homes runs in his final season and 541 during his career placing him 17th on the all time list. He was known as a clutch hitter and was much loved in Boston. Here he explains what baseball has meant to him. He had announced his retirement before the season ended and his final game was a Red Sox loss that knocked them out of the playoffs. After the game thousands of fans remained in Fenway Park and began chanting his nickname, Papi, Papi. Ortiz came back onto the field and stood on the pitcher's mound for about a minute and, surrounded by photographers, waved farewell to the fans.

Saturday, November 19, 2016

Blood And Propaganda

There's a flurry of articles today saying the "last hospital" in Aleppo has just been bombed by the Syrian government. Some articles say it's "the last four hospitals." This is a screen shot from Google News today that shows the headlines for some of the recent articles:

In response, someone I've been following on Twitter who goes by the handle "Tweets From Aleppo" tweeted a montage of previous announcements about the last hospital in Aleppo having just been bombed.

I don't know how well these screen shots show up on your computer, but they have the last remaining hospital in Aleppo being destroyed in June, July, August, October and November. The person who posted them this morning wrote, "Ok, so now the real question has to be, how many more "last hospital in Aleppo" stories before people realise it's total bullshit".

On social media there has also been circulated exposes of the so-called '"white helmets" as little more than paid propagandists created to further the US regime change agenda. Since the white helmets are supposed to be helping injured civillians in areas controlled by the so-called "moderate" US backed "rebels" it was surprising to see a video posted on social media of one of them at the scene of a beheading. Social media has also been responsible for the dissemination of articles that show the US backed "rebels" aren't moderate at all but are Islamic jihadists.

The internet has much potential, but it's parts are developing unevenly. Social media with its ability to deliver fast, unfiltered news and information, is arguably the most well developed part. It's made possible Occupy Wall Street, Black Lives Matter, the Bernie Sanders quasi insurgency and the election of Donald Trump. Without it the ruling class would have simply appointed the warmonger and handmaid of Wall Street Hillary Clinton as president.

Thanks to social media the US narrative about the good Syrian "rebels" now holed up in East Aleppo is being overtaken by the fact that the Islamic jihadists who our government organized and is funding and supplying and giving logistics assistance to are every bit as savage as the Assad regime. Twitter has apprised us, for example, that the bombings of aid convoys attributed to Syria were conducted by the US backed rebels and that the good, moderate Syrian rebels mowed down with automatic weapon fire scores of civilians who were trying to flee East Aleppo via safe corridors set up by Russia.

Of course, this oppositional counter narrative might be just as full of propaganda as the one that furthers the imperial regime change designs of the US government. The point is that they are now on a more or less equal footing because of social media, in the same way a Donald Trump with a cell phone sending out tweets that were reproduced by the millions put him on an equal footing with the entire ruling class with its billions and its mainstream media megaphone.

Friday, November 18, 2016

Why? What?

Dan O'Sullivan has written the best commentary on and analysis of the election I've read, by far. I'm not the only one who thinks this.

Tuesday, November 15, 2016

Hubert Horatio Humphrey - The Future Lies Behind Us

I've written several posts since the election, about the election and about the future of the Democratic Party. I've read many, many articles and columns that weigh in on the ongoing debate over what happened -- how did Hillary Clinton lose to Donald Trump and what should be done now. In my last post I broadened the focus and made my standard arguments about the need to organize outside the political system and about the likelihood that change will occur sooner or later, based on the fact of countless historic examples of revolution and uprising, which are in our nature as human beings.

On that last post, the Minnesota teacher, coach, sportsman and good Democrat whose internet handle is Troutbirder and whose blog I link to in the right hand column, left this comment:

Karl Marx must be smiling somewhere. That is if Trumps ascendance fosters The Revolution. Still, I wonder what the man, and my hero, H.H.H. who began the break with the Southern racists for the Democrats, would say now about it all. I'd listen very carefully....:) 

OK, so let's listen. This is Humphrey accepting the Democratic presidential nomination at the fabled 1968 convention in Chicago, where Chicago police famously beat anti Vietnam war protesters on live television outside the convention hall in what a subsequent investigation termed a police riot. In the previous year Martin Luther King had been assassinated and there had been riots across the nation. There was widespread worry, there was backlash, and massive, ongoing protests against the war. Republican Richard Nixon would run on a law and order, dog whistle qausi racist platform, the spiritual and factual template for how Donald Trump ran. Sitting president Lyndon Johnson had decided not to run for re-election and two people who opposed Johnson on the war, Eugene McCarthy and Robert Kennedy, were running in the Democratic primaries. When Kennedy seemed to be on the verge of winning he was assassinated and Vice President Humphrey entered the primaries late, and was propelled to the nomination by the machinations of party insiders who backed him in all the caucus states. So at the convention the party was deeply divided, on the war, the nomination itself, and significantly, on the race issue, over which southern Democrats had already begun bolting the party. 

This is the situation Humphrey faced when he made this acceptance speech. He had to try to unite the party and appeal to the widest possible voting public while putting forth the principled stands he was known for. Sitting in the audience was Chicago Mayor Richard Daley, whose police were ruthlessly beating demonstrators outside the convention but whose support Humphrey needed to win. Trying to address these myriad conflicting streams takes up the first part of Humphrey's speech.

But at about 29 minutes into the speech Humphrey starts showing the real HHH and laying out his vision for America, which, as I say was, like the party, in turmoil and deeply divided on the war, race and on what to do.

Humphrey says emphatically that every public official has the responsibility to guarantee basic rights like racial equality. "There can be no compromise," he says, on the right to a good education, the right to decent housing, the  right to a job "It is to these rights that I pledge my life and whatever capacity and ability I have."

Think of today's Democrats. Is there one who even comes close to this? The right to an education, to housing? To anything? The right to a job? Are you kidding? Today's Democrats don't believe anyone has a right to a job. You've never heard those words from the vast majority of today's Democrats. They believe in the right of the already filthy rich to get even richer and that's about it.

With the exception, maybe, of a few, like Bernie Sanders and Elizabeth Warren, both of whom at the moment, along with President Obama, instead of pledging to fight Donald Trump with every fiber of their being are groveling before Trump and pledging to work with him and ensure he's successful.

And New Mexico's Democrats? Not one word. Not a word of encouragement, no leadership, no ideas about what to do next, on how we might get to a better future. They are in their usual places at times like these, cowering under their desks in their offices, quivering in fear, hoping everything blows over and that this doesn't impinge on their fancy job and big salary and gold plated benefits, or their status, or on their lucrative future prospects.

Far, far from the ideal of a public official put forth by Hubert H Humphrey as guarantor of rights and a better life, far from the principled stands he took that probably cost him the presidency, New Mexico Democrats put themselves before their constituents, before the people of New Mexico and before their country.

Sunday, November 13, 2016

Only Bernie Sanders Can Save the Democratic Party Now

That's the headline for a prominently placed article at the New York Observer, the weekly paper owned by Donald Trump's son-in-law Jared Kushner, the real estate investor husband of Ivanka Trump.

The article is by freelance writer Michael Sainato, whose credits include the liberal Huffington Post. Sanders, Sainato writes, is widely trusted, free of scandal, currently the most popular politician in the country and carries none of the baggage the Democratic Party establishment caries because of its ties to wealthy donors and its disastrous error of forcing Hillary Clinton's nomination on the party, which, I might add, New Mexico Democrats participated in fully: many top elected officials here endorsed Clinton before the primaries even began and before they knew who else would be running. Hillary's going to be your nominee, they were saying, because we say so. To hell with democracy. It's also come to light that many of those early endorsements were bought by Clinton in exchange for money, campaign money, which with her Wall Street ties she was flush with.

Sanaito closes with: "The only hope Democrats have now in recouping the losses of these voters is Sanders leading a truly progressive movement. Whether that is done within the Democratic Party or a new third party remains to be seen, and depends on whether those leaders responsible for Hillary Clinton actually learn from their mistakes."

I make note of this article because it appears in the Observer, one of the first papers to endorse Trump, and with Kushner being in the Trump family and having played a central role in Trump's campaign, although according to his Wikipedia article Kushner donated exclusively to Democrats in the past. But Trump donated to Democrats, too. Maybe that's what it takes to do business in New York City, which is also known as being a place where, even today, you have to pay off the mob in some way to do business.

I also note this article because it's the first place I've seen Sanders held forth in this way, as savior of the party. He only joined it recently in order to run in the primary and stands for everything most Democrats nowadays do not, being, as Sainato rightly says, "the candidate of the people" whereas Clinton was "the candidate of the Democratic Party’s wealthy donors."

But can the Democratic Party be reformed? I've gone back and forth on this question. It went from being a liberal party to being a party that's fiscally conservative and only liberal on gay marriage and abortion, is how I always put it, and that's pretty close to the conventional wisdom on the Left, which usually sees the solution being in third parties, or in somehow changing our system of voting to proportional representation or something like a parliamentary system, both of which result in more ideological diversity than the two party "winner take all" system the US has.

But you can argue, as I have, that since the party changed to what it is, it can be changed to something else, or changed back.

But what was it, really? Was it really a liberal party? When I was growing up it was actually a coalition of liberals from the East and Midwest and conservative Southerners, a coalition based on the grand bargain that the Southerners would go along with things like the New Deal if the liberals went along with Jim Crow segregation.

When that bargain was called off is when the party began its long slow decent that has led it to the state of affairs of today, where Democrats can't win either house of the federal government, have lost most state legislatures and governorships and more or less trade the presidency with an increasingly conservative Republican Party.

What about Hispanics who will soon be the majority ethnic grouping, and who disproportionately vote Democratic? The conventional wisdom in the Democratic Party establishment is that when that happens the party will be sitting pretty.

But Hispanics are by no means homogeneous, as far as I can see. They range from liberals in big cities like Chicago and Los Angeles to conservatives in places like New Mexico and Florida, and as they become the majority, and presumably more affluent, they will presumably become more conservative overall. They have no obligation to the Democratic Party and will decide their own political futures.

The solution lies in movement building, movements that are based on economic class interests. Our political system, as are most poitical systems, is set up to protect the establishment and to prevent radical change. When it does change it's largely because it's been forced to change by movements outside "official" channels-- the Labor Movement, Civil Rights Movement, Environmental Movement, Gay Rights Movement, Women's Movement.

Those people who are in the streets now protesting Donald Trump's election have the capacity and potential to do more to thwart the radical agenda Trump campaigned on than the Democratic Party will ever have. It must be noted, too, however, that we have to come up with another way besides Capitalism of organizing our economy or else we'll always end up in the same conundrum that has led to the rise of Trump, and here's why.

So grab a placard. Attend a meeting. Agitate. Organize. Talk to your neighbors. And don't lose hope. It's in us to rise up, to rebel. There have always been revolutions and always will be. It's in our nature. Even us Americans. We were born in revolution.

Friday, November 11, 2016

Good News Parts I and II

Goodbye TPP. The Wall Street Journal reports that the Obama Administration today said it's giving up on trying to pass the Trans Pacific Partnership trade treaty. The big mess of a treaty was negotiated secretly between the US, its Pacific Rim allies and hundreds of corporations and was an attempt to cut China out of trade in its own neighborhood, as part of the Obama-Hillary Clinton "pivot to Asia" that seeks to subdue China and counter the threat it poses to unchecked US global hegemony with a combination of diplomatic, economic and military intimidation.

The TPP was negotiated to a large extent under Hillary Clinton when she was secretary of state and was almost rammed through congress on "fast track" authority by President Obama. Among other things it would have given foreign companies the ability to sue local governments in the US if they passed any laws or regulations, such as to protect the environment, if they would harm the company's "anticipated future profits". The lawsuits would have been decided by "tribunals" consisting of three corporate lawyers.

And some people still think the Democrats are on their side. A rapidly declining number of people, I think.

In more good news, The New York Times today reported on dramatic changes to US foreign policy regarding Syria that look to be in the works under a president Donald Trump. He'll essentially do what Leftists and Progressives and peace loving people have been calling for for a long time, which is to stop arming, financing and militarily supporting Islamic jihadists, which the US government refers to as "rebels", in the rouge attempt by the US to overthrow Syria's government.

Syria is another mess created in large part by Hillary Clinton when she was secretary of state and she had campaigned on the promise to escalate the conflict.

Besides saving countless lives, drawing back from Syria will help wind down the New Cold War the US has unilaterally launched against Russia. In fact, the article says, Trump wants to align with Syria and Russia to fight ISIS.

It's hard not to picture heads exploding throughout the Neocon dominated US foreign policy establishment and their propaganda arm, our foreign policy press. During the election campaign almost all members of these groups either backed Hillary Clinton or remained silent. She was their girl. Based on her record and statements she may well have been the most dangerous and deadly US president in a long time if not ever.

Here It Comes

In the Albuquerque paper this morning is a report of a female University of New Mexico student being attacked and called a terrorist by a male classmate wearing a Donald Trump shirt. The girl says he tried to tear her hijab off and that when she demanded to know what he was doing he said he'd better sit down before she threw a grenade at him. The university says it's investigating that and several other similar incidents. Why the university hasn't turned it over to law enforcement I don't know. Like many colleges UNM has been lax in reporting sexual assaults to the police. It's about the image, the endowment. Careers are at stake.

I've seen on the internet where a group that tracks hate crimes reports seeing an uptick in them since Trump was elected president on Tuesday. A friend of mine said this morning that he's seen that, too, and he's uneasy. He's a Mexican citizen in his early 30s who has lived here since he was four years old and has a green card.

He says his wife, also from Mexico, told him that their daughter, who was born here, came home from kindergarten yesterday and asked her, "Are we Mexican?" Yes, the mother said. "Why does he hate us?" the daughter asked, and she told her that the election of Donald Trump and the possible consequences was being talked about by her classmates.

It upset me to hear this, and all the more, I think, because I've argued that the world, overall, is better off with Donald Trump as president than with Hillary Clinton. I still feel that way despite these hate crimes, which are some serious business, I admit, and I don't doubt that racists have been emboldened by Trump's election and that we'll see more of this. It was to be expected.

But compare our situation to that of the thousands, hundreds of thousands if recent history holds true, of people in other countries who would have died if Clinton had been elected. In debates and on her campaign web site she promised to escalate our already extremely bloody war against Syria, where an estimated 200,000 have died already. She was instrumental in starting that war, and our war against Libya where 60,000 have died so far, people who would not have died if then secretary of state Clinton and assistant secretary of state Samantha Powers, currently our UN ambassador and an almost certain H Clinton administration player, hadn't pushed for that war. Not to mention Clinton's central role in America's unilateral resumption of the Cold War against Russia or it's provocations against China that started after the Obama Administration's "pivot to Asia," which then secretary Clinton played a central role in bringing about. Both of them are entirely unnecessary provocations taking place not in our backyard but in theirs and against countries each of which has enough nuclear weapons to fry the world several times over.

There's really no comparison. There's no argument to be made here. If you think there is you'd better do some introspection and try to figure out why you care nothing about several hundreds of thousands of dead people in the Middle East, who happened to get in the way of our government's bloody imperial projects. You need to try to understand why you get so riled up about the prospect of Americans going through some troubled times, that are really insignificant compared to what's being experienced by parents in Syria and Libya and Iraq and all those places who have been and still are putting their children into coffins in pieces.

I've been thinking about this. Someone who voted for Hillary Clinton knowing all this, which most people who half pay attention do, isn't just complicit by default in mass murder. On some level they must want it, and want more of it.

I suspect it has something to do with wanting America to remain number one, the supreme world power, dominant over the rest of the world. Our dominance is inextricably tied to us always having had the most, the best, and was at the heart of us thinking the prosperity would be never ending. It's about the bank accounts and the nice houses and the nice cars. It's just like this mythic Trump supporter who on some level can't accept not having a higher standard of living than black and brown people.

Those people being blown to bits over there are dark skinned. They're a little strange, unfamiliar. It's not really a life being lost, on some level. You see the headlines. You scan right past them. You know. You keep going. On some level they frighten you. They are a threat. You'd prefer they not be there, that they be vaporized, disappear, and they are, going away, disappearing into coffins, one after another. The more they do the better you sleep at night, and you sleep well.

Thursday, November 10, 2016

Battle For The DNC - Where Are New Mexico Dems?

(Update: Bernie Sanders is circulating a petition that urges the DNC to choose Keith Ellison as its chairman. Howard Dean is also interested.)

The (a) battle for the soul of the Democratic Party (see post below), the (b) battle over the narrative of why Donald Trump beat Hillary Clinton and the (c) battle over who will head the Democratic National Committee (DNC) are all running along parallel paths.

The narrative promoted by the mainstream media and Democratic Party establishment, both of which are heavily invested in identity politics, a narrative established before the election, really, is that uneducated white working class racists came out of the woodwork to vote for Trump, despite evidence that paints a different picture -- i.e., Trump's supporters were actually more affluent than Clinton's, and many white working class voters who came out for Barak Obama voted for Trump this time, which lends credence to the argument that the election was about class, not race.

There's also turnout. It may have been the main thing that swung the election. Hillary got 8 million fewer votes than Obama did last time, while Trump got about the same amount as Mitt Romney did. These two charts break the turnout down somewhat.

Keith Ellison, the Black Muslim congressman from Minnesota who supported Bernie Sanders and is one of the most principled and left leaning Democrats in congress, is being promoted by some on the left to be the new DNC chair. During the election campaign the DNC under Debbie Schultz worked actively to undermine the candidacy of Sanders and to promote Hillary Clinton. There was a lot of circumstantial evidence for this during the primary that later was confirmed in the leaked so called "Podesta emails" from the email account of Clinton campaign chairman John Podesta.

Connor Kilpatrick is the editor of Jacobin magazine. Park Slope is an upscale neighborhood in Brooklyn and home to such Democrats as New York mayor Bill deBlasio, who backed Clinton. Park Slope is known both for being very liberal and for being a highly gentrified neighborhood where working class people can't afford to live any more.

I don't expect a favorable outcome to this struggle. A case in point is New Mexico. There were actually some bright spots in the election for Democrats, such as the election of the first Latina to the US Senate, and there were other significant "down ballot" victories which are being used in places like The Nation magazine to talk about what direction the Democratic Party might go from here, but in New Mexico, the flood of emails I was getting from our Clinton backing, conservative Democratic establishment before the election -- i.e. from party headquarters, Tom Udall, Ben Lujan, Martin Heinrich and Michelle Grisham -- has ceased entirely. When leadership, inspiration and new ideas are most needed the state's Democrats are on their own.

Wednesday, November 9, 2016

Late Great Democrats

They didn't wait long. As soon as Florida started looking doubtful, pretty early, they went looking for scapegoats. They started blaming people. And they'll be doing that endlessly, until the day they die. Bet on it. Never once will they look at themselves.

It's funny. Not long ago they were talking about the Republican Party being toast. Finished. Now it's the Democrats who look finished. A regional, rump party, is what they'll become. They've lost most of the state houses, most governorships, they've lost the House of Representatives after they used to own it lock stock and barrel, they've lost the Senate, now they've lost the presidency, to a con man. How inept can one party be? The courts will be Republican for generations. But it's not their fault. No, it's those stupid Jill Stein voters. It's those stupid protests voters. It's those stupid Bernie Sanders supporters. They're all just too goddamn stupid.

Some of them will even try to say the party has to get even more conservative, like the Clintons, who were among those whose idea it was in the first place to turn the party into whores for Wall Street. They'll say we need to tell the working class to go screw themselves even harder, because they're stupid idiots anyway.

Bernie, who always polled better against all the Republicans than Hillary, wanted a $15 minimum wage. We could have been talking about a president elect Sanders today, but no, the DNC and the elected officials and the big shots decided we're too stupid to pick a nominee. It's right there in the emails. We'll tell you who your candidate will be. We'll rig these primaries in her favor and treat you like crap at the convention and you'll shut up and put up and vote for Hillary. Unless you want to be called stupid. Fifteen dollars? Where did you come up with that? You don't deserve $15. You ought to be happy with what what you're getting. College for your kids? Why? You want to feed your kids decent food? Pay all your bills? Why? You're stupid. You don't deserve to sit home with your stupid kids at night. You need to be out there working those two and three crap part time jobs we created. You'll get the candidate who thinks you're only worth $12 an hour because you're just too damn stupid, and you were too stupid in the 90s, in 2000, in 2004, in 2008, in 2012. If you don't want the Republicans you'll vote for who we say to vote for. Why? Because you're stupid, and you have no place else to go.

Except the voting booth, and that's where working class people went yesterday and gave the Democrats the biggest middle finger in history. The once great Democrats -- with their supreme arrogance, their moral superiority, their we know what's best attitude -- got the big eff you. And it's exactly what they deserve.


Tuesday, November 8, 2016

Put It In Neutral

Making Hysteria

Within five minutes of our meeting my feminist ex wife was ranting about the sexist origins of the word hysteria. Har.

I hadn't thought about her until I started casting about for a play on words for the title to this post. Seriously, I hope she and all the other feminists are happy tonight.

Asad Abukhalil, the University of California-Stanislaus professor who writes the much read blog The Angry Arab, has this Voting Day Top Ten, or Eleven:

And from one of the 3,300 people I'll be meeting at the barricades.

Saturday, November 5, 2016

Happy Birthday Eugene V Debs

Eugene Victor Debs, born this day in 1855, got involved in the labor movement as a young man while working as a clerk in a railroad office and eventually became head of and/or founded some of the most powerful unions in the US, including eventually the IWW, the Industrial Workers of the World.

Originally a Democrat he turned to Socialism after doing a lot of reading while serving time in prison for his union activities, and five times was the presidential nominee of the US Socialist Party, a legitimate force in those days, electing hundreds of people to local and state offices and a few to congress.

It took courage to be a union member then, when the government routinely sent out federal troops to violently break strikes, or if they didn't, the bosses sent out armed thugs like those from the infamous Pinkerton Agency to beat or murder strikers with impunity. But those union struggles gave us the standard of living we have in America today, which we are pissing away, incidentally, by not being as radical and active as this nation's workers were in Debs' time.

Debs died in 1926 but is remembered and revered by many on the Left, including former NBA star and long-time radical Bill Walton, who, besides  being famous for his days playing for UCLA and the NBA, spoke out against the Vietnam War when it wasn't very cool for people like him to do that. Walton in 2013 took his friend Larry Bird and his wife to see the Eugene V Debs home and museum in Terre Haute, Indiana, where Bird went to college, while they were there for the unveiling of a statue of Bird at the University of Indiana.

Tired Of The Election? Try Lesbian Sex

I caught a touch of the non fatal strain of election fatigue this week so it was a breath of fresh air to see Black mega super star Beyonce performing with the Dixie Chicks at the Country Music Association awards show the other night.

Not only was it not the election, it was a breath of fresh air because Beyonce is the wrong color and nothing like a hillbilly and her musical style is far from country music, and because the Dixie Chicks were actually banned from country music in 2003 when lead singer Natalie Maines criticized George W Bush's warmongering -- onstage and in another country fer crissakes -- right at the height of America's post 9/11 blood soaked orgy of nationalistic ecstasy.

The other two Dixie Chicks stood by Maines and they survived their banishment from country music thanks to non country music fans like me causing their next album, Take The Long Way, to go gold not to mention the fact that they're pretty talented. And the group has never backed down and Maines has since come out as gay -- yes, ho-mu-sex-shul -- but there they were Wednesday night, and there Maines was up there on country music's biggest stage with her gay looking hairdo and they were with that uppity big city black girl who honored Black Lives Matter at the Super Bowl and who Wednesday night was practically on her way to the big I'm With Hillary Clinton concert in Ohio Friday night, and from what I could hear and see the country music people loved them, most of them did, the people in the front row seats who the video cameras showed, the big stars of country music today.

The Big Ism Not Lesbianism

I guess things sometimes do change for the better because not only were the Dixie Chicks and Beyonce on that big CMA stage but the Cubs won the world series, which I got interested in having been a big Cubs fan in my youth, and neither of those things, Beyonce and the Dixie Chicks or the world series and the Cubs, had anything to do with the election.

Then again, professional baseball and country music are big businesses and we only think of them as entertainment because, as Marx pointed out, Capitalism creates the material conditions we live under and therefore creates our reality.

What's that you say? But sports and music are really entertaining. Yes, but before any ball players walk onto the field and before any records are recorded or any awards shows go on the air, the business arrangements have all been made. The deals have all been cut, the accounts have all been set up, and the contracts have been signed with the banks that will closely watch the money as it comes in, and those business arrangements that are put in place before anything else happens are the actual real cause of records being made and of baseball being played, and are what dictate what we see on the field and hear on the radio and even the fact that we see and hear it. It's not there because we wanted that kind of entertainment. It's there because someone found a way to make money from it, and not just anyone but someone with wealth and power in most of the cases despite what you hear about entrepreneurship, and besides, entrepreneurs get their money from where?

Capitalism is what sets the tone and calls the tune. We tend to think of things like baseball, country music, folk music, Tejano music, basketball, golf, tennis, quilt making, tortilla making, pie making, milk drinking, as arising out of American culture, as being expressions of who Americans are, and they do arise out of American culture but that culture is Capitalism, and we are Capitalism. If you don't believe me go down to the place in your town where the art galleries are. In Albuquerque there's a lot of them in Old Town and Nob Hill. What you see there by and large isn't what the artists feel like painting, it's what sells. Capitalism makes sure most artists feel like painting what sells, what pays the bills, and due to the way the creative process works our brains work, even artists who don't sell their work paint pretty much the same things in the same way and it's the same for all the arts.

If we weren't caught up in this Capitalist system that dictates the terms of society and of our relationship to it we might be able to create our own entertainment and our own culture, for free, and some people do create some of it in small ways but it's always influenced by the dominant culture created by Capitalism. For instance, to do it people have to buy things anyway so it's influenced by Capitalism in that way, but in many other ways its terms and conditions are dictated by the overwhelmingly dominant culture created by Capitalism, which because it dictates what the economic realities are and defines all our social relations is what creates the physical and psychological conditions of our existence -- the material conditions, as Marxists say -- and thereby creates our reality.

The same reality by the way, the same material conditions, the same American culture, created the 2016 election. You can't get away from it. It's you. It's the environment that created you and constantly re-creates you. It's who we are. But have a listen anyway.


Thursday, November 3, 2016

A Golden Opportunity

"I find it important how close this election is drawing…. Enough for the ruling class to pay attention. By that I mean the people who think they have it all together and think the regular people out there should leave them to run the show, letting them to continue alternating Democrats and Republicans.
If this election is close… if someone carrying his trainload of baggage is able to seriously challenge someone with Hillary Clinton’s resume…the people will have spoken very loudly…
It tells you something about the power of his message. I believe he was on to something in this race. I believe that half the people in this country, maybe more have had it with establishment elite politics, they’re tired of the same best and brightest who took us into Vietnam, went for broke there and have come back to take us into Afghanistan and Iraq and Libya and Syria and god knows what next desert war…"

That's mainstream media's Chris Matthew speaking last night during the TV program he hosts and using the phrase "ruling class." It's quite stunning. Here's a link to where his spiel of a couple minutes was posted on social media.

It's also remarkable to see millions of working class people on the right -- the conservative, dittohead, Rush Limbaugh-Shawn Hannity Fox News millions -- rejecting the Republican Conservative status quo, and, by extension, implicitly, their message that the only alternative we have is the brutal Neoliberal Capitalism that this bipartisan political elite has pushed on us that has resulted in record wealth and income inequality, the gutting of our manufacturing base, declining living standards, college being out of reach for most kids and all the rest.

The Tea Party actually started it by causing the disillusionment of  millions of working class voters with the Republican political class, but Donald Trump has expanded and furthered their disillusionment and redirected it. When you look at what working class conservatives are saying on social media, plenty of it is just hatred for Hillary, but there's a marked absence of what you used to see -- calling her and anyone else to the left of Hilter a socialist and communist. There's not the reflexive defense of Capitalism you used to see. The Tea Party doubled down on Capitalism, on tax cuts for the rich, on gutting social spending. That's gone now. Trump puts forth little in the way of programs. He just gets people in the mood to reject their rulers and what their rulers have told them. Now they are adrift, like working class leftists are as the result of Occupy, Black Lives Matter and the Bernie Sanders campaign. They are open to suggestion. The idiocy of putting Hillary Clinton in charge will only accelerate the discontent and disillusionment that's being felt by the working class on both the right and left. Now is the time to come forth with alternatives. Now is the time to look for ways to organize across political boundaries on the basis of the things all working people have in common.

We do that by putting forth the vision of a society that we run, we the people, the overwhelming majority, for our benefit. We do it by calling out the conservative Democrats that control that Capitalist party and pointing out that they and the half of the political elite that calls itself Republican are one and the same thing, nothing more than the lackeys of Capital and the handmaids of the rich and by that we foster class solidarity, class consciousness, and class unity, which means power, real power.

Wednesday, November 2, 2016

Propaganda And The Press

To the US foreign policy press Russia "is bombing schools, hospitals and civilians" in Aleppo, Syria whereas the US and its proxies are "liberating" Mosul, Iraq and face an enemy that uses civilians as "human shields."

Actually, the US and Russia are both trying to rid an allied country of terrorists who control part of the country and are using the exact same methods. They find the terrorists and bomb them. They try to kill them. If they happen to be near civilians the civilians are often collateral damage.

Even with the foreign policy press acting as our government's propagandists most Americans oppose their government's endless war and there's endless proof of that if you just Google some terms like this: "US public poll data war in middle east". One article that comes up says that even when the foreign policy press was reporting that Syria used chemical weapons on its own citizens, 60 percent of Americas said we should stay out it and only 9 percent said we should get involved.

By the way, when investigative reporter Seymour Hersch found the reports to be lies the foreign policy press ignored him. It now seems that Turkey, working through militias conducted that attack to try to get the west involved in Syria. The foreign policy press, however, isn't interested in anything that doesn't promote the narrative put forth by their sources in government and think tanks who make their living off of war.

Hillary Clinton, who wants to escalate the war against Syria and expand it to war with Russia, won't say that in so many words because, as she told Goldman Sachs top employees in one of her $250k private speeches, you have to have a public position and a private position. What we get is her public position. If you want to know her private position you can ask a family in a Middle Eastern country when they wake up to the whistle of an incoming American bomb.

Note: Clinton has defended herself on that 'public position-private position' statement by referencing a recent film about Abraham Lincoln and saying that's what Lincoln was doing when he was trying to end slavery. You must use different arguments for different people, she said. At least that's her public position.