Saturday, December 31, 2016

Happy Brave New World Year

In which we're about to find out what the country would have been like if it had been started by some of the founding fathers' cousins.

As we enter the new era our media will be of no help to us. It knows nothing but Neoliberalism and now it's gone berserk. Unable to accept the results of the election it's making wild claims about Russia every day that everyone buys into even though they're all retracted a few days later.

Nothing that's been written about Russian hacking has been true. None of it. There's no evidence for any of those so called CIA or any other spy agency conclusions whatsoever, and if you take the time to actually read what the spy agencies actually said, they only suggest things. They leave themselves a big fat out. The media printed it as if it was fact.

Russia didn't hack the election, it didn't hack the electric grid. That's all been retracted. What the media told us was Russian computer code, that was left in our computers, turned out to be common malware. It's nuts.

The good thing is that the Democrats lost the election. The long, slow, gradual, lesser of two evils decline during which people thought right up to the very end that the Democrats were on their side is finally over and done with. Hallueffinglujah.

Best Video Of 2016

I don't think I've posted this video here. I came across it back when I was still on Facebook and came across it again the other day. It's been re-posted a lot -- gone viral as they say. When I saw it first I seriously thought Moe Shama was a professional comedian or something but now I see that he's a truck driver in Chicago who just makes videos for fun - although they have gained him some notoriety in some parts of the media like Aljazeera.

Moe was born in the US but is of Palestinian descent. Note that his wife is wearing a hijab based on Palestinian flag; they're definitely making political statements, about Palestine and about Muslims, as does much of the work Moe has done that I've seen. Make sure you watch his kids in the video. Great kids. Great family.

Flint Sitdown Strike

Yesterday was its 80th anniversary and I wrote a long blog post that I ended up not posting expressing my anger that most Americans have no idea whatsoever what the Flint Sitdown Strike was or what its significance was in them having the living standard they have.

You can come up with some pretty good reasons for why that is, and that don't even cast Americans as damn fool idiots, but the fact that it's true means the living standard you have now won't be around when your grandchildren are your age. The anomaly that was the great golden age of the post World War II American and European working classes is finished and short of some miracle we'll return to the historical norms that Thomas Piketty and his colleagues have documented, where workers barely get by and wealth and income inequality remain massive generation after generation. 

As I say, the media will be of no help to us. Neither will any politician. It's all up to us, just like it always was. Voting, making signs, signing petitions, joining some organization, will do no good. We have to become entirely different people. Only when we do what those common everyday uneducated racist sexist workers who worked at the General Motors Flint Assembly Plant in 1936 did will we start to get ourselves out of this mess.

I don't think Americans have it in them. I could be wrong. I hope so, but I don't think so. Happy New Year!

Thursday, December 29, 2016

The Dirtbag Left

In the previous post I referred to the Chapo Trap House podcast and posted a rant by one of its hosts. The New Yorker awhile back profiled the hosts and the podcast and "The Dirtbag Left," the moniker writer Amber A'Lea Frost gave to the segment of the radical Left the podcast speaks for - Bernie bros, you almost might call them.

You hear from them many of the criticisms of the Democratic Party from its left that I often make here. There's a big numeric and ideological overlap among the listeners of media like this and the readership of radical Left/Socialist media like Jaccobin and the younger members of Bernie Samders support base and writers like Frost, and out of this mileu will come a lot of the resistance and energy and ideas of the coming period.

Tuesday, December 27, 2016

From Matt Christman

Someone transcsribed this rant by Matt Christman, one of the hosts of the Chapo Trap House podcast, a 'much listened to among certain segments' podcast by a group of young intellectually and politically engaged comics and writers who talk about the issues of the day, conduct interviews with interesting people, etc. I heard the episode this comes from the other night and when I got home transcribed a little of Christman's rant myself and was going to make a post out of it myself but someone has done the whole thing.

The Politico article Christman refers to is here. It tells how the Clinton campaign ignored warnings from people on the ground in Michigan, and other states, that she was in trouble there, but that an arrogance among top campaign officials who thought they had it all figured out and that Clinton would coast to an  easy victory caused them to ignore repeated pleas for assistance.

Christman, more importantly, by way of his rant, gets into why the Democratic Party itself is in so much trouble and why so many people who could be a vibrant part of it now openly loathe the party.

Later in the podcast they talked about how a person's economic security -- i.e. their work and their job and how they're doing and how they feel about the state of the economy and their own situation and so forth -- is easily the dominant factor in a person's life, and yet incredibly the Democratic Party has decided they can ignore all that and just run on identity politics.

Or, in the case of someone like Martin Heinrich, they can campaign on parks and recreation. It's all he talks about. Go look at his web site and his Facebook. You'll see nothing about economics. He's been making bravado proclamations about how Donald Trump will take away our parks over his dead body but he never says that about anyone taking away his constituents economic security, their jobs, their retirements. On all that, like almost every other Democrat, he's in effect saying, "You're on your own buddy."

They seem to be saying, "I've got my big salary, my fancy title, my gold plated retirement, my platinum plated health care that you will never, ever, dream of having. Four kids to feed? No husband? Working three or four piss poor jobs with no benefits? Glad I'm not you."

Monday, December 26, 2016

Israelis Talk About Greater Israel

I mention Greater Israel in the previous post. It's always been the unspoken aim of Zionism -- i.e., taking all of Palestine not just what was taken in 1948. Natasha Roth, one of the young Israelis who put out +972 magazine, talks about Greater Israel in light of the United Nations Security Council vote late last week that condemned Israel's settlements -- not the occupation only the settlements, she points out.

Roth mentions a Jewish settlement in occupied Palestine called Amona, also spelled Amonah. It's on Google maps. It's one of what are often referred to as illegal outposts, settlements Israelis began without official approval from the Israeli government. Some of them eventually gain official approval, a small handful have actually been dismantled. Amona has symbolic importance  within Israel because the Israeli government has tried to shut it down many times but it remains there, and also because because it was blatantly built on land the settlers stole from Palestinian farmers. Amona has been mentioned in several post-UN vote columns I've read in the Israeli press: here by well known writer Gideon Levy in his Ha'aretz column.

Here are two screen shots of it. Amona was begun by people from the official settlement of Ofra, which is in the lower center of the second map, with Amona about 3/4 mile directly above it. The other villages you see are Palestinian. The numbered roads are "settler only" roads built by the Israeli government. They are usually fenced their entire distance. Palestinians are arrested or shot if they go on them and in many places they hinder Palestinian travel and prevent access to their fields, orchards and olive groves. If you look near the lower left of the second map you can see where a Palestinian road curves to go through an underpass under a "settler only" road.

"Settlers" or colonizers as some call them include among them some of the most rabid Zionists, but also some young people who are attracted because they are low cost housing, subsidized by the Israeli government and by rich supporters of Israel in the US, but those too often become radicalized after living in a settlement. A woman whose podcast I sometimes listen to, Tamar Yonah, seems to fit that description. She works for a media outlet called Israel National News which is considered to be the voice of the settlers. Settlers often use vigilante violence against Palestinians in nearby villages and burn their fields and orchards, with the intent of getting them to leave. The Israeli Army, the occupying force, is stationed in outposts throughout Palestine and typically defends settlers as they make these attacks.

Saturday, December 24, 2016

Way Too Late, Way Too Little

Screen shots from an interactive map by Israeli army veterans group Peace Now of Israeli settlements on Palestinian land. To view the map click here: 

When the US abstained yesterday from a vote on a United Nations Security Council resolution that condemns Israel's theft of Palestinian land via its settlement project, the US political and media establishment went berserk and cast President Obama as antisemitic and an Israel hater, an outlier of some type.

But the resolution passed 14 to 0. All the other permanent Security Council members voted for it -- the UK, France, Russia and China -- and so did all the rotating members. Among them only Obama lacked the courage to vote for it and only in that sense is he an outlier.

Israel always uses the occasional "peace talks" it's dragged into, usually by the US, as a cover to greatly step up the pace of its settlement building/land theft. It has never had any intention of making peace with the Palestinians or of allowing a Palestinian state to be established, 

Incredibly, Obama's UN abstention is being met with with horror and disgust by US politicians and the media, who act as if not covering for Israel's theft of Palestinian land is somehow immoral. Nor are any of New Mexico's cowardly politicians stepping forward to say they approve of the vote or to show any support for the president.

It's worth noting that more Israeli housing buildings have been built on stolen Palestinian land during Obama's tenure than during the George W Bush administration. As Orly Azouay, columnist for Ynet News, Israel's largest media outlet, wrote about Obama after the vote, "Never has an American president embraced Israel like he had done with aid money, the Iron Dome and other forms of security cooperation that are best kept secret." Read her candid accounting of how Israel has lied repeatedly about its intentions regarding the "peace process." This isn't unusual for the Israeli press. In all the world it's only the US media and political establishment that outright lies about what Israel is doing to the Palestinians, a national disgrace New Mexico's politicians are full participants in.

Note: Israel takes Palestinian land besides what it uses for settlements. Some land theft is for settler-only roadways intentionally placed to separate Palestinian areas from one another. Other land is taken for "military purposes." It's all part of Zionism's longstanding "greater Israel" project (see below) of getting rid of the Palestinians by making their land unliveable. The following maps show the fragmentation of Palestinian land more clearly than the one above.

For more context on the settlements see below.

Settlements In Context

What are called "settlements" are Jews only cities and towns with a combined population of more than 800,000 now, close to a fifth of Israel's Jewish population, that are built on Palestinian land; that is to say, the somewhat over half of Palestine that wasn't given to Zionist colonizers in 1948 and that was supposed to be reserved for a Palestinian state. Israel took over that remaining land in in 1967 and has been kicking Palestinians off of it ever since, acre by acre, farm by farm, hilltop by hilltop, and building settlement after settlement.

US taxpayers pay for settlement building not only by funding the Israeli military that enforces it but because most settlement building is funded by US "NGOs," groups that are tax exempt, that is, American citizens who donate to these organizations don't have to pay taxes on that money. It's all deductible, so it lowers their taxes and the rest of us have to make up the difference.

The 14,000 plus settlement buildings built during the Obama years are on stolen Palestinian land the media rather disingenuously refers to as "occupied" or as being in the "occupied West Bank" or simply in the "West Bank." It's land that is totally under the control of Israel. Palestinians can't build house there or even a shed without getting a permit from Israel, and the permits are always denied.

This "occupied West Bank," outlined in green in the maps above, is what most people mean when they say "Palestine." It's the land a supporter of Israel or a Zionist is talking about when they use the term "greater Israel," which is a wink and a nod reference to the fact that it was always the intent of Zionism to steal every bit of Palestinian land and either kill the Palestinians on it or make them go away by making daily life unbearable.

Zionists have always considered the 1948 borders as temporary. They accepted what land they got then and have been busy stealing the rest of it ever since, always with the approval and complicity of the US government, the US media, and US politicians including New Mexico's current federal delegation -- Tom Udall, Martin Heinrich, Michele Grisham, Ben Lujan and Steve Pearce.

While the whole world acknowledges the immorality of the settlements and mass murder of Palestinians, in the US our public figures pretend none of it is happening. Members of New Mexico's federal delegation never acknowledge it or try to do anything about it. They always vote for the massive aid to Israel that funds the "occupation" and for those resolutions that say Israel is defending itself when it periodically slaughters thousands of defenseless Palestinians who are trapped in Gaza by Israel and can't go anywhere -- the periodic massacres that Israels call "cutting the grass," meaning trim excess Palestinian population, the most recent of which in just a few weeks in 2014 killed 2,200 Palestinians including 550 children.

Obama's "No" vote yesterday does break with the precedence of the US vetoing any resolution that criticizes Israel or even hints at the truth of what Israel has done in Palestine, but it has to be seen in context. Israel had completed one of its periodic slaughters in Gaza days before Obama took office. To that Obama uttered a mild demur. Then, during it's most recent, 2014 slaughter in Gaza, when Israel started running short of bombs to drop on Palestinians, Obama had a planeload of them rushed over.

No politician from New Mexico ever says a word about any of this.

Sunday, December 18, 2016

US Imperialism

As'ad abu Kahlil, the University of California professor who authors the widely read Angry Arab blog, posted a link to this picture of a Syrian bus driver killed by US backed "rebels." You may have seen news reports of a row of buses that had been sent by the Syrian government to evacuate civilians from east Aleppo that had been burned by US backed "rebels"

The US government's and the US media's narrative about the Al Qaida "rebels" who the US is funding and arming and using as proxies in its attempt to overthrow Syrian president Bashar Assad has been kind of falling apart over the last few weeks due to social media accounts from civilians who have made it out of "rebel" held East Aleppo. It's hard for the US media to ignore first hand witness accounts by the kind of everyday people they have been using as propaganda tools for the last five years.

I clicked on that picture of the bus driver and it brought up the complete photograph. You can see that the driver is wearing gloves with the fingers cut out. I know truck drivers who wear such gloves. They help the palms of the hands absorb the jolts of the road and they make it easier to grip the steering wheel over long stretches of driving while leaving the fingers able to perform tasks that require dexterity like working the controls or the radio or lighting a cigarette.

They also keep your hands warm. This guy in the picture looks like he's dressed for driving something without much heat in it. He's got the heavy woven shirt under his outer dress shirt and he has a muffler around his neck. He's wearing an insulated corduroy jacket.

Just some poor schmuck trying to do his job, under less than comfortable conditions, another of the hundreds of thousands and probably millions of innocent victims of the ongoing endless mad rampage through the Middle East by the exceptional imperial United States.

Saturday, December 17, 2016

Al Jazeera Imagines New Mexico

Pakastani immigrant Muhammad "Palomino" Malik at his motel in Tucamcari - Gabriela Campos/Al Jazeera

This photo is one of several by New Mexico photographer Gabriela Campos that ran with an article published the other day by Al Jazeera, the media conglomerate owned by the ruling family of the oil rich gulf emirate of Qatar. The Route 66 article centers on the New Mexican part of Route 66. It's one of a constant stream of Route 66 articles that get published, so people must love reading about Route 66.

There's an entire Route 66 travel industry made up of businesses, state and city tourist bureaus, historic places and a huge line of Route 66 souvenirs, but articles about Route 66, it seems to me, make up a separate industry. 

The two industries overlap but are distinct in that one has to do with thinking and one with doing. One with being and one with becoming.

We travel, and we imagine traveling. We need to do both. At any given time we may think we know who we are and what the world is, but when we go out into it we find something different, and think again. The continual interplay between what we think and what we experience, between being and becoming, keeps the light of our consciousnesses flickering and maintains the illusion of sanity.

We don't really see or touch or smell or hear things. We think "light" lights up the world when actually the universe exists in darkness. What happens is that through nerve endings in our eyeballs our brain detects certain wavelengths of a certain kind of energy -- what we think of as "light" -- and uses it to create images for our consciousness.

We think the world our brain creates for us is taking place in front of our eyes but only because that's where we imagine it to be. It's "taking place" if it takes place at all only in our imagination. This imagined world might be three dimensional, like the measurements and instruments we imagine are measuring it, or it might not be. It might be hot or cold or soft or hard.

But we enjoy, we derive pleasure, from imagining things like Route 66. We enjoy receiving these particular image stimuli, and we enjoy creating them. We all have our Route 66s, but this Route 66 works for a lot of people.

It's both being and becoming. As the article's author puts it, it represents both decay and resilience. It's solid and malleable. It's Palomino Malik and al Qaida, the flag and the fire. It's the world that's moving past us and the one we move through, one we see and one we dream. It's both the highway and the motel.


Tuesday, December 13, 2016

Godless Capitalist Dictatorship

It's been awhile since I've heard as good a take on the current state of affairs as that of British documentary filmmaker Adam Curtis who I heard interviewed last night while I was driving to Holbrook by the hosts of Chapo Trap House, one of the hottest podcasts going right now. With all this lying we hear from politicians and from the media, the fake news, the propaganda, we know things aren't as they're portrayed by the media and our leaders, and they know we know, and that's what's normal. You can listen to the interview here on Soundcloud or find the podcast on your podcaster app. It's a great podcast regardless, my favorite one right now.

Curtis calls our current condition Hyper Normalization and the Chapo guys mostly interviewed him about his recently released film by the same name. The documentary is in the present and goes into things like the rise of Donald Trump, but Curtis takes the term -- Hyper Normalization -- from University of California-Berkeley sociologist Alexi Yurchak who coined it for his book about the last years of the Soviet Union, when everyone knew the government was lying and the politicians knew everyone knew, and it was what was normal.

What interested me also in what Curtis said is that the man failing of The Left over its last 40 years of steady decline is that it refuses to acknowledge and confront power, which is also a theme of mine although maybe not in so many words.

He says power has moved away from government and has all been accumulated by Capitalism and primarily Finance Capitalism. That's those guys who robbed us blind during the financial crises of a few years ago, and everyone knew it and no one did anything about it, but that's normal now.

Hyper Normalization runs 2 hours and 40 minutes and was released by the BBC and is on YouTube.


Saturday, December 10, 2016

Confused And Frightened, The American Establishment Is Reeling

Anti-Russia-anti-Vladmir Putin fever -- the best explanation for Hillary Clinton losing establishment types can come up with that doesn't involve indicting themselves -- has reached another shrieking crescendo following news articles based on anonymous sources purporting that Russia influenced the US presidential election in favor of Donald Trump.

Just a week or so ago it was at an all time high -- at least for this one sided US instigated New Cold War we've been drug into by the Neocon dominated US foreign policy establishment and its slavishly obedient media amplifiers -- when another anonymously sourced article that was widely reprinted in the mainstream media accused much of the alternative media of being under Kremlin control.

No evidence was put forth for either case, and in the most recent one we're being told we should believe what someone said someone said the CIA said -- this is the CIA that's been caught lying time after time after time. Constitutional lawyer turned investigative news site publisher Glenn Greenwald of The Intercept breaks it down nicely here and points out the dangers of what he calls the New McCarthyism, which isn't the work of Donald Trump but of his detractors.

Billionaire Democrats

Since the November 8 election of billionaire Donald Trump as US president there's a been slow drip of articles saying Democrats are mulling over the idea of getting rich liberals to run for political office. I think I first heard the suggestion from filmmaker Michael Moore.

It's hard for me to imagine how making members of the Capitalist ruling class the face of the Democratic Party will get it more votes from the millions of working people who are so fed up with the party that either they voted for Trump or boycotted the election.

Rather, I think, Democrats should think about how they came to be the party for which it's more important that two men can get married than it is for working class people to pay their bills and send their kids to college. Instead of getting further into bed with the ruling class Democrats should think about why they're OK with the fact that a gay man who makes his living panhandling is more likely to die of AIDS or Hepatitis than enjoy the right to a gay marriage.

Today's Democrats should think about how they got to the place where it's more important for a woman to have the option of having an abortion than it is for a poor woman to take her daughter to the doctor, a woman who won't be having an abortion because she can't afford to take off work and ride a bus for ten hours to the nearest abortion clinic. Before they get even further into bed with the rich they should think about why they don't seem care that because that woman can't afford to take her kid to the doctor or provide her with a decent diet the kid may well end up with a disability of some kind that will saddle her for the rest of her life.

Friday, December 9, 2016

The Miami Mafia

In Cuba they call them the Miami Mafia. I, myself, always say that the Miami Cuban community that hated Fidel so much they spit up at the mention of his name are the whoremongers and mafioso and their descendants who the Castro brothers kicked out of Cuba in 1959, when their revolution overthrew the brutal dictatorship of Fulgencio Batista who ran Cuban like a whorehouse with gambling for rich Americans and was universally despised by all -- all but the Miami Mafia.

TeleSur has put together a very interesting short video that names some of the more prominent Miami Mafioso and tells who in the Batista regime they are related to; people like US House of Representatives member Ileana Ros-Lehtinen. If you follow Cuba you know who she is. Her very soul has been disfigured by a lifetime of pure hared for Fidel Castro.

The video starts playing automatically when you click on this link:


Wednesday, December 7, 2016

The Battle Of Aleppo Is In Its Final Stages

The US war against Syria might be over before Donald Trump has a chance to end it. I don't know if that's irony or what, but it's good news for the people of Aleppo, who  are happy to see the US backed "rebels" being routed from their last strongholds, according to some Twitter accounts from Aleppo I've been monitoring that tell a completely different story of that war than the one we're given by the US media. I've seen videos of civilians coming from the "rebel" held eastern Aleppo overjoyed to be lined up at government run relief centers telling how they had been held prisoner by the jihadist US-backed "rebels" with anyone who tried to leave being shot.

US backed "rebel".
This situation wouldn't be unfolding if Hillary Clinton, who played the central role in starting that war when she was secretary of state and who had promised to continue and escalate it and would have brought with her many of the warmongers who surrounded her in the state department and the Neocons who supported her, had won the presidential election. The Obama Administration seems to have given up on  trying to win and is looking for ways to save face, aided in that endeavor by the US mainstream press which still refers to the US' proxy fighting force as the "moderate" rebels. People in Aleppo say they were Al Qaida Islamic fundamentalists who beheaded people in the streets and expected everyone to live according to Sharia law and who the US, like it has in other places such as Libya and Afghanistan, merely enlisted to carry out its regime change ambitions.

There's no doubt an element of propaganda to what the pro-Assad Syrians are putting out on Twitter and on news sites but one thing is for sure, the US has caused a lot of civilian deaths over there, probably 250,000, trying to overthrow the sovereign government of a country it had no business interfering in. Along the way it risked starting a war with nuclear armed Russia and caused a massive refugee crises that has led to the rise of right wing and fascist parties all over Europe, some of which have already taken power already and some of whom are about to.

Sunday, December 4, 2016

He Showed That It Was Possible

As the world continues to mourn the passing of Fidel Castro, one of the most admired and respected men of the modern era everywhere in the world except the USA, Cuban President Raul Castro gave the eulogy for his brother on Saturday in Santiago de Cuba, the town on the southern Cuban coast where the revolution they led began that brought socialism to Cuba and freed its people from the iron hand of US colonialism.

Raul's message was that Fidel showed that it's possible. If your will is strong and your idealism is unwavering you can teach everyone to read, combat racism, have the best health care system in the world and have it serve everyone, have an infant mortality rate that's better than countries ten times as wealthy. The list went on and on. Fidel, he said, showed that it's possible to build socialism even as the most powerful imperial power in history is trying to destroy you.

"He showed that it was possible," Raul said, "that it can be done and that it will be possible to overcome any obstacle, threat or turbulence in our firm purpose to build socialism in Cuba."