Saturday, July 30, 2016

Peak Democracy

Is democracy in decline? Has the American experiment reached a dead end?



"Peak oil" is the theory that all the easy to get oil has been found and production will now steadily decline. Peak Democracy is the heading an editor at Eurozine gave to an overview of recent books and articles having to do with the general topic of recent elections of authoritarian governments in Europe, coups and Brexit type revolts of the working class. Writers and reporters are wondering whether democracy is in decline.

In America we don't need a list of articles. The "leaked DNC emails" demonstrate, like Republican efforts to suppress the vote do, that neither party has any regard for democracy, but that fact has been obvious for a long time.

The New Mexico Democratic Party doesn't even try to register new voters or to attract more people to get involved in party politics. The small pool of people who vote are enough democracy for them. New Mexico's elected Democrats always strictly avoid doing anything that might mobilize people. They never use the public podium and the access to the media they've been handed to those ends.

They want you to vote for them so they can "fight" for you, as they put it, without ever saying specifically what that means, and then proceed to offer and endorse no bills that would improve the economic lot of their working constituents; it amounts to turning your power over to them and letting them do what they want, which is to go along with policies that enrich the ruling class. When New Mexico Democrats Martin Heinrich, Michelle Grisham, Tom Udall and Ben Lujan endorsed Hillary Clinton months before they even knew who else would be running for president they were demonstrating that they've forgotten they're supposed to even pretend that they're in a democracy.

Hillary Clinton the other night in her "historic" acceptance speech gave the nation just over an hour of blather such as that when one person breaks through a ceiling, everyone benefits. Most women getting out of high school are wondering if they'll break through the ceiling of finding a job that pays enough to live on, even if they're one of the dwindling number who can go to college after which they'd face an average debt of around $30k. Clinton uttered no remark that hinted she has any intention of changing that situation or that she has any desire to halt the ongoing slide in our living standards, address the rapidly increasing wealth and income gaps or otherwise alter the status quo.

It's this status quo, after all, that was created by herself and other so called "New Democrats" like her husband, Joe Biden, Al Gore, Martin Heinrich, Michelle Grisham, Tom Udall and Ben Lujan.

To alter the status quo, of course, would require getting millions of people involved in civic life in ways that would amass their power, the way the Labor Movement, the Civil Rights Movement, the Women's Movement and the Environmental Movements did in decades past when, working outside the political system, they amassed sufficient power to bring about the only significant changes that have ever occurred in this country. They accomplished this by both directly forcing the political system's hand and by forcing it indirectly by changing public attitudes.

Those movements, unfortunately, have enmeshed themselves with the Democratic Party and become part of the status quo. Nothing has changed under Obama. The ruling class has had its way with him and will with Clinton if she's elected.

As Lucy Parsons famously said, "Don't be deceived that the rich will permit you to vote away their wealth."

Despite recent attempts by Americans to reject the status quo -- Occupy, Black Lives Matter, the Sanders and Trump campaigns -- democracy in America is pretty unhealthy and it's not hard to see why.

I've been listening to the Librivox reading of Democracy In America, Alexis de Tocqueville's breathtakingly thorough study of American democracy that most students are assigned to read and few do

De Tocqueville traveled the length and breadth of this country talking to people, reading documents, laws, all kinds of county and state constitutions and observing how American democracy worked, how it struck an intricate balance between individual liberty and the common good. He brought the classic, "objective" -- uninterested is a better term -- viewpoint that only the outsider can bring. Democracy was working for two basic reasons, he said; because it was highly participatory and because Americans, at the time, were relatively equal in terms of wealth compared to Europe. He warned, however, that it was beginning to unravel and would eventually fail because power was becoming centralized. And he could not of course foresee the vast inequalities of wealth we have now.

The US union almost came undone a few years after his writing with the Civil War. Southerners and their sympathizers like to say that the war was about "states rights," but ironically, the southern states were less democratic than the northern ones, according to de Tocqueville.

I didn't read de Tocqueville when it was assigned either, but hearing it now it's remarkably apparent how democracy has been corrupted by both political parties. By Republicans with their furtherance of economic inequality and by Democrats with their furtherance of centralized federal power to achieve their ends, and with, now, their acquiescence to economic inequality, and both parties actively discourage participation by the general public in making the decisions they make. To promote either political party now, instead of looking for and promoting ways to get people to participate in democracy, both from inside and outside the political system, and to decentralize power, put it back in the hands of the people, is to only hasten democracy's further deterioration and its ultimate demise.





Friday, July 29, 2016

Democrats Make History - Become First Major Party To Cheer Nominee Who Doesn't Wait Til After The Election But Gives Them The Finger During Her Acceptance Speech

Unions and activists had tried to get Hillary Clinton to denounce the draconian "NAFTA on steroids" TPP trade treaty -- the Trans Pacific Partnership -- during her acceptance speech last night, but Clinton refused to do it.

Activists signed petitions and union leaders made personal appeals to Clinton and hoped that getting her to denounce the TPP by name would thwart plans by President Barak Obama -- who has advanced the treaty thus far largely with Republican support -- to again team with Republicans to try to pass the TPP after November's general election.

Clinton, who as secretary of state helped negotiate the treaty and called it "the gold standard" for trade deals switched her position on it when Leftist Bernie Sanders entered the presidential election campaign to run against her on a platform that included opposition to the TPP. People who know her record as a Neoliberal, fiscally conservative Democrat who was instrumental in the Democratic Leadership Council, under whose influence the party abandoned working people and aligned the party with the interests of big business, have little doubt about her true intentions regarding economic policy.

Clinton at this point in time doesn't want to alienate Obama or his supporters and no doubt is hoping congress will kill the TPP when Obama makes his final push for it, but since the push will take place after the election expect many Democrats to support the TPP knowing their constituencies will have a long time to forget their betrayal of them.


Note: I've read several personal accounts of Clinton's speech and watched to first ten and last two minutes of it on YouTube but didn't watch the whole thing. It's reported she only said we must oppose "unfair trade deals."

What struck me about the speech were two things, one being the number of empty seats. Many delegates had already gone home by the time Clinton showed up. Another was the lackluster acceptance of the speech. Normally delegates cheer for many minutes after a candidate takes the stage and after they're done speaking, but not last night. The applause ended after less than a minute and the DNC organizers had to start playing loud music to compensate for the lull. 

Cameras zoomed in on several women who were in tears during the speech. Whether they were crying because a woman has broken through an important glass ceiling, or whether they were crying because they knew the cost of helping her do so was to sacrifice their hopes that their children could ever attend college or get a job that paid more than a minimum wage, I do not know.







Thursday, July 28, 2016

USAID

The Hillary Clinton campaign in an attempt to divert attention from email leaks that showed how the Democratic National Committee helped her win the Us presidential nomination accused Russia of leaking the emails. A chorus of outrage followed in the US media and by various Clinton supporters

For those who may have missed it, the US government for decades has directly influenced politics in other countries by numerous means, such as funding and advising candidates who oppose candidates it doesn't like through agencies such as the United States Agency For International Development, USAID.

Started by President John F Kennedy to administer programs like disaster relief, USAID has increasingly become a foreign policy tool of the state department and has been kicked out of various countries from Bolivia to Venezeula to, guess where -- Russia, for interfering in internal politics there.

This is not to mention the numerous coups directed or backed by the US government, such as the coup against Honduran President Manual Zelaya in 2009 when Hillary Clinton was secretary of state, which needless to say are an interference in a country's internal politics.








Taylor Swift Performs Her Hit Song "Forever And Always" Today On The View





The Albuquerque Journal ran this picture on its web site today and claimed it was New Mexico 1st District US Representative Michelle Grisham. And I'm Barbara Walters. Thanks for tuning in.


Below is the picture Grisham has been using for several years on her official government web site. It's still used in her article at Wikipedia, where it's titled "Michelle_Lujan_Grisham_official_photo."








She's recently selected another picture, however, for her official picture over there at  https://lujangrisham.house.gov/.









This picture wasn't considered. Probably because it's of someone else.











Tuesday, July 26, 2016

Democrats Make History, Nominate First Candidate Under FBI Investigation

It's a corrupt party, corrupted by big money and an uncontrolled lust for warmongering. It ran a rigged primary. Why not nominate a corrupt woman disliked by most of its own members?

"Her image has never been worse," states the Washington Post's Aaron Black, in running down Clinton's "brutal poll numbers" that are now even worse than her Republican opponent's terrible approval ratings.

What does this say about America? What does it say about the Democratic Party that nearly all elected Democrats, including all New Mexico's federal delegation, came out in support of this Neoliberal darling of the Neocons (in exchange for promises of campaign cash we learned later) even before they knew who else was going to run for president?

We are an irrational people. People are being called "stupid" for not wanting to vote for Hillary Clinton, who helped make the Democratic Party the party of Wall Street and convinced it to abandon working Americans.

The mother in Syria who was fleeing Clinton's war and saw her dead child wash up on a beach, the father in Libya who saw his child die while he tried to put its guts back into its belly after it got bombed by the warplanes Clinton sent, they don't see how it's "stupid" to not want this woman in direct control of the US military.

The hundreds of thousands of people who have been killed by the multiple wars she voted for and then started herself may not even know that Clinton is one of the biggest cheerleaders for war America has, or that she's been a central figure in unnecessarily, stupidly, for no good reason ramping up tensions with nuclear armed Russia and China, who don't have 800 military bases spanning the globe and aren't engaged in multiple wars, but they don't think it's "stupid" that many people prefer a candidate who says he won't do to them what has been done to them by Hillary Clinton, who promises even on her campaign web site to do more of of it.

Americans don't seem to think very clearly when they get swept up in the media hype about politics. We certainly don't think about the consequences of our actions, the dead people over there, the people having trouble getting by over here. We are an irrational people, and at the Democratic Party convention in Philadelphia today we just did something very irrational. We nominated Hillary Clinton for president.






Sunday, July 24, 2016

Leaked Email Story Eludes Establishment's Control

(Update: 4 p.m. - Schultz thrown overboard to save weight as Clinton ship sinks and Trump pulls ahead in some key swing states.)

The leaked DNC email story has overnight become the top topic at Google News, which means it has the most news outlets posting stories about it. I posted about the emails Friday and have since updated that post.

The media, eager to install establishment approved Hillary Clinton as president over Donald Trump, who doesn't have ruling class approval, had been playing down the email story but was forced to cover it when Democratic National Committee chair Debbie Schultz decided not to not speak at this week's convention in an attempt to prevent a revolt of Bernie Sanders supporters, who are very aware of the email story and have caused it to trend on social media repeatedly despite efforts by social media gatekeepers to remove the email story from circulation. Schultz, like most elected Democrats, including all of New Mexico's, openly supports the conservative Clinton and rigged the primary election to favor Clinton over Sanders, the upstart liberal.

The situation in the US parallels almost exactly what's happening in the United Kingdom where the conservative Labour Party establishment is trying to unseat the peoples' choice for leader Jeremy Corbyn. The Labour Party and the Democratic Party have for years furthered economic policies that go directly against the interests of their bases, and promoted never ending warmongering, and the people they depend on for votes finally got fed up with it and are in revolt.




Note: My local paper this morning, its lead story obviously filed before the leaked DNC email story got out of control, paints a picture of Democratic Party unity and doesn't even mention leaked emails.





The Ledgend of Georgia O'Keeffe

The first Georgia O'Keefe retrospective outside the US is underway in London and Michael Prodger of The New Statesman provides UK readers with an introduction to her that concentrates on her time in New Mexico. I've never paid much attention to O'Keefe so this was pretty enlightening. The New Statesman is similar to The Nation magazine in that it covers both Leftist politics and the arts.

Black Place II - Georgia O'Keeffe


Neither had I heard of Mabel Dodge Lujan who first brought O'Keeffe to the Land of Enchantment and who was an interesting character in her own right.

People like Lujan and O'Keefe make today's feminists seem tame and domesticated, just as many radicals of the past make today's seem clueless and timid. I think America having gone through the McCarthy and Reagan eras almost back to back and then immediately coming under the domination of Neoliberal Capitalism might have something to do with it.

Prodger mentions a couple other artists who like O'Keeffe were legends in their own time but whose artistic ability didn't always live up to their reputation -- he mentions Frieda Kahlo as one where it didn't-- whereas in some cases, he contends, as with Picasso and Georgia O'Keeffe, it did.





Saturday, July 23, 2016

Governor Martinez endorses Donald Trump from a balcony at the El Dorado Hotel






Actually I was only wishing this was Susana Martinez. It's is a Los Alamos, NM eye doctor but listen to a few seconds, especially around 2:30 where she starts getting wound up about Hillary Clinton, and imagine the governor at a staff meeting ordering her cabinet heads to get New Mexico's last in the nation economy moving. This is a well spoken and forceful woman and the only one I can think of who can be angry, smile and gesticulate all at the same time. She's quite remarkable but one has to wonder; is she just idiosyncratic or is everyone like this in a town where atomic bombs are made.



Note: For those unfamiliar with our governor she was busted last winter for throwing beer bottles off a hotel room balcony during a drunken Christmas party at a hotel on Santa Fe's historic old world plaza and has until now declined to endorse Donald Trump.





Friday, July 22, 2016

#DNCLeaks Confirm A Rigged Process

Update 7/23/16 9:20 p.m. - some lurid details have emerged, such as plotting at the DNC to use Bernie Sanders' "potential atheism" to undercut his chances against Hillary Clinton. In another email Debbie Schultz, DNC chair, calls Sanders an "ASS" for not dropping out of the race. The hash tag #BernieMustDisavow has been trending on Twitter all day with comments like this:





A trove of 20,000 Democratic Party emails released today by Wikileaks confirms what Bernie Sanders supporters complained about throughout the primaries -- the Democratic National Committee chaired by Hillary Clinton supporter Debbie Wasserman Schultz rigged the primaries in Clinton's favor. This is the overwhelming consensus on Twitter, anyway, and there's a lot to it.

First, though, interestingly, the hash tag #DNCLeaks, which had almost immediately shot to the top of Twitter's "trending" list, soon disappeared altogether. Now, it 's not even possible to type that hash tag into the Twitter search bar -- if you try, it "auto corrects" to #dncleaks bernie, which means anyone looking for tweets about the leaked emails won't find very many, therefore they'll no longer be widely circulated. Strange.

I say there's a "lot to it." Much of what people are finding in the emails so far is circumstantial and concerns smaller matters like the pettiness of Schultz and her staff. Even without the leaks, though, official, conservative Democratic Partydom was hardly secretive of its efforts to install the conservative neocon Clinton as the nominee over the heads of the mere citizens and without going through the messy process of democracy. One example is that the debates were limited to a few and scheduled on weekends and opposite things like sporting events, which dovetails with the conventional wisdom that the more people know about Clinton the less they like her.

Another is that elected Democrats, most of whom are also "superdelegates" like New Mexico's Martin Heinrich and Michelle Grisham, endorsed Clinton long before the primaries began. As it happened, this was more than an effort by elites to circumvent the democratic process and decide what's best for the common people. Those early endorsements turned out to be in return for cash and were part of a Clinton/DNC scheme by which state politicians were promised campaign donations in return for the endorsements.

Ironically, when Sanders began to give Clinton a serious battle for the nomination, the Clinton campaign ended up not coming through with the money. Which might be why Heinrich, Tom Udall, Ben Lujan and Grisham are sending out a flurry of email donation solicitations that talk about nothing but Donald Trump -- I get two per day sometimes from Heinrich.




Wednesday, July 20, 2016

Redtexsin Speaks

In the previous post I was musing about the contemporary trucker -- who are they -- after the respondents to an online poll in an industry publication overwhelmingly voted for Donald Trump. One trucker  left the following comment after an article about a Michigan pilot program that will let the state police conduct roadside saliva tests for drugs. The enabling legislation, passed by Michigan's Republican legislature and signed by its Republican governor, was named after a couple that was killed in a wreck with a  trucker who tested positive for marijuana use.






Red as in red? Well read anyway.





Truckers Want Trump





At least those readers of Overdrive Magazine's online version who responded to an online poll. I can't say with much precision how representative Overdrive's readers are of the trucking industry. The demographics of trucking are changing from what I see during my nightly run between Albuquerque and Holbrook. Southerners once dominated trucking. They made up am inordinate share of the drivers and set the tone for the culture. Think of all those truck driving country music songs and movies. Then came Rush Limbaugh, Clear Channel and the conservative domination of talk radio and eventually the TVs in truck stop restaurants were almost all tuned to Fox News.

But on I-40 in New Mexico and Arizona I see a lot of Asians, Indians, i.e. of India, especially Sikhs, and eastern Europeans -- Russians, Romanians and so forth. It might be a different story in the country overall. I just can't say now since I'm not around the country these days. A lot of the drivers I see are on their way to and from the West Coast, mostly California, and some drivers have stopped going to California because you have to own a newer truck that meets that state's stricter emissions regulations, and it appears to me that these other ethnicity are picking up the slack. A lot of the independents owner-operators and small companies are Asians and you're starting to see mid sized companies out there that have Indian sounding names, as in from India.

As for why truck drivers want Trump, the comment section under the article provides a few clues before it becomes, like most comment sections at truck drivers online magazines do, a President Obama critiquing contest.





Tuesday, July 19, 2016

Palestinian Genocide - Full Speed Ahead






Khalek here describes how during the Democratic Party platform process, proposals that the platform should call for an end to of the occupation of Palestine by Israel were repeatedly voted down by Clinton delegates, who emitted "“the loudest boos of the day,” according to CNN."

Clinton, in keeping with foreign policy positions that have drawn her the support of leading Republican Neocons, is probably the most pro Israel candidate ever.

Palestine, America's endless wars, the bloated military industrial complex that sucks resources away from Americans' dire needs at home, not to mention that the policies of low taxation on corporations and the wealthy that will ensure the bankruptcy of American schools and social needs, will continue.

Polls indicate that no working class constituency wants more war, but at least one party's platform and policies should reflect that. It's hard to see how you can vote for Hillary Clinton or any Democrat who supports her and her war mongering, take from the poor and give to the rich policies, and be for humanity.









Monday, July 18, 2016

Direct Democracy

The conservative Albuquerque Journal actually posted a guest column today by someone promoting direct democracy: let the people decide things and do away with politicians, we have the technology now, argues Robert Wright, who is described as an Albuquerque resident.

What Wright is postulating is essentially what Anarchists want. Power would be decentralized, spread among the people.

The term Anarchism unfortunately has picked up other, negative connotations, partly because of the other meaning that term has come to have but partly because it's considered a Leftist ideology, but it has a long and respected tradition as a philosophy and ideology. It shares many characteristics with Libertarian philosophy, which also has somewhat of a credibility problem, but much of that, I think, is that it's become associated with conservatism and the Republican party. Anarchists and libertarians actually have much in common. Both recognize that our current system of elected representatives, and the concept of the nation-state that precedes it, are designed to protect monied and landed interests -- rich people, in short.

Wright has thought out a lot of the ramifications and implications of such a system and admits he hasn't thought of everything. Such as, I'll toss in, the ability of some one or some group to demagogue such a system, but our current system can be abused that way, too.




Sunday, July 17, 2016

Arthur Berman


"The uprising seems to be about immigration and borders but it’s really about hard times in a failing global economy."

Petroleum geologist Arthur Berman has a column at OilPrice.com in which he lays out the role oil has played in the global economy in the post WWII period and says that good times follow lower oil prices, bad ones higher oil prices, period. And that also, the conditions that led to the "golden era" in the US during that period, that populists like Bernie Sanders and Donald Trump, and myself, often hearken to, aren't likely to return.

He says renewable energy "will be increasingly part of the landscape but its enthusiasts are also magical thinkers," and ends with:

"The future for oil prices and the global economy is frightening. I don’t know what beast slouches toward Bethlehem but I am willing to bet that it does not include growth. The best path forward is to face the beast. Acknowledge the problem, stop looking for improbable solutions that allow us live like energy is still cheap, and find ways to live better with less."

 I'd add that we might also think about transitioning to a kind of economy that's based on peoples' needs and not profit. It's been done before and can be again.







Saturday, July 16, 2016

Is the old order unraveling?

Martin Amaya, Motor Trend magazine reader - Motor Trend

Every day brings reports of another mass killing. In America, reality TV star Donald Trump, the Republican nominee, who seems to be running for president from his couch with a cell phone and a Twitter account, is neck and neck in the polls with the establishment candidate Democrat Hillary Clinton. Trump routinely refers to Clinton as "Crooked Hillary."

Boris Johnson - iImages/A Parsons
In the UK, Boris Johnson, a buffoonish former two term Conservative Party London mayor who led the "Brexit" campaign to leave the European Union, was yesterday named the foreign secretary, which is like our secretary of state, by the new prime minister, a woman who took over from a man who resigned in disgrace. Johnson once compared Clinton to nurse Ratchid from the film One Flew Over The Cuckoo's Nest and recently won a nationwide poetry contest with a poem that talked about Turkish president Racep Erdogan, who survived a coup attempt yesterday, as having sex with a goat.

But while all this happens, and even as Western Civilization with its Capitalist economic system is demonstrating it can deliver a "middle class" living standard to fewer and fewer people, its power is increasing and it gains control over more of the world economy day by day.

Many people are alarmed by Trump and Johnson and their unconventional ways. They expect the ruling class, or the ruling elite, whatever you want to call it, that constellation of wealthy and powerful people and the political establishment over which they exert a dominant amount of influence -- to act in a dignified manner and within established bounds of decorum.

But the nature of the Capitalist system is that it has dynamics of its own, irrespective of who is in nominal control of it. Not that Capitalism is divorced from humanity. It's internal dynamics are in fact the result of human nature, which for the most part operates below the level of conscious awareness. And human nature isn't just an individual characteristic. A group of people living in a society react to each other and with each other, also in ways that they often aren't very consciously aware of.

People worry about "stability." They worry about "the markets." The Capitalist system experiences periodic, regular, inevitable periods of crises: that is, regular recessions, every few of which is deeper and longer than the rest, a depression. Those happen because too many people have gotten on the Capitalism bandwagon, too much stuff has been produced, prices have to fall, and the too many factories and machines that have been bought on too much credit can't be paid for, people are laid off and can but less stuff, prices fall more, and there's a downturn, a process by which all the excess productive capacity gets cleared away.

Falls in "the market" are attributed to various causes, but they are in fact just reality catching up with peoples' optimism. Optimism is an irrational feeling that has been fueled by the hope that we can escape insecurity; it's that complex of human emotional and thinking patters we think of as greed. We have daily worries and fears, yes, and we waver back and forth all the time, but the overall thrust of our actions is that we act as if there's not going to be a downturn until the second we're sure there's going to be one.

Our massive military spending, which absorbs a lot of the "excess capacity" I mentioned earlier, helps keep the economy chugging along, until enough of us begin to think we have to spend the money on something else, or save it. The wars we conduct also play an emotional role. They are seen, and felt, as carrying with them a potential for investment and profit. New markets, new supplies of labor, more resources, etc.

The Capitalist system is an evolved state of an earlier succession of more primitive economic orders, and it replaced those earlier orders because of advances in travel, communications and technology. It might be supplanted by an even more advanced order, but it, too, will be dictated and limited by human nature, which is more or less constant. The system isn't unraveling, even if we might worry that it is. It will continue to play the role is has always played, until the moment there's something to take its place.

Faith, or confidence, is also an irrational complex of human emotional and thinking patterns, More people are questioning the existing system, at the moment, than they have been for a long time. They, overall, have less faith in the system and the people who have been running it and with the rigid and arbitrary traditions of decorum those people have conducted themselves by, which were only, after all,  contrived and artificial and meant simply to increase peoples confidence in the system and to heighten personal power, and can't see a problem with putting a Donald Trump or a Boris Johnson in charge.

There are other ways of ordering an economy and a society. There's the big Mondragon cooperative that dominates the economy and the society in a large part of western Spain. There's the landless peasant movement in Brazil, and the Zapatistas in southern Mexico. There are cooperatives and collectives here and there. These are all relatively unknown, but if enough people come to know enough about them to have more faith in them than in the existing order, something will happen like happens now and then, like happened in Turkey yesterday, and they will try to overthrow the existing order in favor of trying something else.

For now, out of habit, and convenience, and necessity, and for lack of an alternative, Capitalism will roll on like a giant mud slide, fine for those riding high and disastrous for those in its way.





Thursday, July 14, 2016

Police Violence: Not About Race

"Lapel cam" video released today (at the 4 minute mark) showing Fresno police killing a white man, Dylan Noble, for no apparent reason except that he didn't immediately submit to their commands gives pause to the prevailing narrative that police shootings are about race.

So do the many, now, citizen videos that show black police officers doing the killing, as on July 6 when an off duty black New York cop killed Delrawn Samll in what police first defended as a road rage case until video showed Small was shot without provocation, and recall that half the cops indicted for the death of Freddie Gray in Baltimore are black. (Gray died of a broken neck after being subjected to a treatment retired Philadelphia police captain Ray Lewis described as "shaking the can" - he was handcuffed and shackled and taken for a wild ride in the back of a police van.)

There's racism involved in many police killings, but remember that Blacks make up a disproportionate share of the working class and poor. The fact that police have leave to commit violence and death on members of the working class has its roots in basic Capitalist, ruling class exploitation. Nothing has changed since Victorian England when a "gentleman," a man of "good family" and "good breeding," could walk into a police station and order the arrest of a member of the working class, and police were bound to comply, on the basis of nothing but the wealthy person's word.

Today's police are kept busy and are most visible as enforcers of traffic and parking regulations, but the police were created to control the working class. Some of the first police forces in the United States were "slave patrols" that went after runaway slaves, but slavery was integral to an economic system, which race was used to justify. The Civil War was fought in an attempt to preserve that economic order.

Blacks public officials, like President Obama, have come to be some of the main defenders of a Capitalist system that today results in more economic inequality and lower working class living standards than it did when Blacks were denied the vote.

The prevailing narrative about race only serves to divide and distract the working class -- its unity is what the ruling class fears more than anything. The "freedom" we enjoy in this country doesn't extend much beyond our last paycheck -- we have to assure an income or run into all kinds of problems almost immediately -- which is why discrimination in employment was the main concern of early civil rights leaders like Martin Luther King, who was killed in Memphis having gone there to support a sanitation workers strike and at the time was in the process of organizing an anti poverty march on Washington.







Wednesday, July 13, 2016

I'm With Me

I'm happy to know that my elected officials aren't with her. They are for them and them alone.

I received exhilarating email donation solicitations from my two New Mexico Democratic US congress people today, Ben Lujan and Michelle Grisham, expressing their ecstasy that Bernie Sanders has endorsed their gal Hillary and will finally stop pointing out the fact that politicians like themselves never do anything to help the working people of this country.

From Martin Heinrich and Tom Udall, my two Democratic US senators, nothing yet. They so far have chosen to distract attention from the fact that they never do anything to help the working people of this country by sending out email donation solicitations in which they shout over and over, "Donald Trump! Donald Trump!"





Tuesday, July 12, 2016

Say It Ain't So

Now that Bernie Sanders has formally ended his quest for the Democratic Party presidential nomination and endorsed his opponent Hillary Clinton it will be interesting to see what form the anger and disillusionment with the Democratic Party that was a large part of the fuel that propelled his campaign takes. Sanders supporters, many of whom are angry and disillusioned over the seeming betrayal of their hopes for change, are discussing and debating the matter on social media at the moment. Some want to back Green Party candidate Jill Stein. Others are urging support for Republican maverick Donald Trump, who on economic matters more closely resembles Sanders than the fiscally conservative Clinton.

Trump today renewed his appeal to Sanders supporters with twitter comments like this:









Trump's reference to Occupy Wall Street is telling. That movement didn't involve itself in politics and endorsed no politician or party, and it generated more excitement among actual Leftists like myself than did the Sanders campaign. It's organizers realized what many Sanders supports haven't yet become aware of, that significant change can't come from within the political system, such as by turning your power over to a self interested, political insider like Bernie Sanders and then hoping he can manipulate the political system for your benefit, a system which is designed to prevent change and protect the status quo.

Change is forced onto the political system by large shifts in public opinion and by mass movements such as the Labor Movement of the early 20th century and the Civil Rights, Women's and Environmental movements of the mid 20th century, movements that have a lot to do with bringing about those shifts in public opinion, and can organize people into voting blocks, or massive street demonstrations or other organizational forms than can exert some real power.

Those who want change should observe how the Black Lives Matter movement operates. Most of its members are, like most members of the women's movement, mired in the dead end of identity politics, which doesn't seek to eliminate hierarchy but merely to change places on the totem pole with other groups, but it's not organized as a hierarchy. There are opinion leaders, but consensus is arrived at democratically, and like Occupy it doesn't have formal leaders  or endorse candidates or parties.

Watch also examples like the labor movement, which spent itself by becoming a hierarchy, with leaders dictating and making endorsements and eventually having more interests in common with the politicians than with their members.





Monday, July 11, 2016

A Night Of Heros















Three powerful images were making the rounds on social media Sunday night. The first, taken by Reuters photographer Jonathan Bachman, is of an unidentified woman at the Baton Rouge protests over the killing in cold blood by police of Alton Stirling, a Black man, that was caught on cell phone video. The second is of DeRay McKesson, a prominent Black Lives Matter activist, being arrested at the same protests. I think that was a still from McKesson's own live stream. He had been live streaming with his cell phone and handed it to someone else when he was arrested, I read on Twitter. I haven't seen the photo at any media outlet.

The third photo is of Serena Williams, the tennis superstar, who in winning Wimbledon for the sixth time this weekend tied Steffie Graf's record of 22 major tournament, or "grand slam" victories. On social media the picture of Williams was universally understood to be a photo of her giving the black power clenched fist after her Wimbeldon victory. That is the outfit she was wearing during the match.

Williams is a socially conscious person and posts comments on social media when there's news going around about yet another Black person being killed by the police. She's widely respected and greatly admired in the Black community for this, and for her athletic ability, and so is her friend, Beyonce Knowles, who was in the stands at Wimbeldon, for similar reasons; for her talent and her conscience. Although Knowles is more low keyed than Williams in how she expresses her social conscience and her solidarity with the generally working class Blacks who make up the bulk of the people affiliated with the Black Lives Matter and other activist groups.

I don't even see the photo of Williams posted anywhere except social media and see no attribution for it there. It's as if it's been censored by the mainstream media, in the way Martin Luther King's Socialism and his strident and vocal opposition to the Vietnam War and to US militarism and imperialism are never mentioned in mainstream tributes to him. He's been so sanitized that even Republican politicians can evoke him for their ends.

Those who control the media would rather Serena Williams be just a Black athlete who runs around on a tennis court for our entertainment. Not someone who thinks and has a conscience and knows exactly what goes on in this country and isn't afraid to bring it to the attention of her millions of social media followers who include, I read last night, Kate Middleton.




Sunday, July 10, 2016

The New Deal In New Mexico

The Albuquerque Journal today has a nice article about the National Park Service administration building in Santa Fe that was built with local labor under the Civilian Conservation Corps, one of the great New Deal programs that lifted the country out of the Great Depression during the Franklin W Roosevelt Administration and left behind a lot of remarkable art and architecture.

"Old Santa Fe Trail Building" - National Park Service
Also, the article refers to a web site called the Living New Deal, a project at the University of California-Berkely that began as a volunteer student effort to document New Deal sites in California but has expanded to map them across the entire country. This is a great web site not just because it documents the New Deal but to look around and try out its features.

Interestingly, as the site's history of itself states, the Living New Deal project's expansion was aided by "a bequest of Ann Baumann of New Mexico."

Baumann is the daughter of German born artist Gustave Baumann, who coordinated the New Deal's art funding projects, and who got off the train in Santa Fe one day in 1918 and stayed for 50 years until his death in 1971. Ann Baumann  was born in Santa Fe and is remembered for her long time support of the arts in New Mexico.

If you get into the Living New Deal's New Mexico section, which has 233 sites listed, it has a couple of articles about the National Park Service administration building, and photos, one of which I posted above.

New Mexico Democrats would do well to find out what the New Deal was and to study up on it. They seem to believe what Republicans have told them and think old buildings got there because someone gave a businessman a tax cut.





La Riva Arrested

I just wrote about this woman on Thursday and she's already been arrested.




Gloria La Riva is the presidential candidate for the Party for Socialism and Liberation and is a native of Albuquerque.






Conspiracies In Dallas

Was Micah Johnson, the man who Dallas police executed with a bomb delivered by a robot, just the fall guy?

Tonight I read the first article I've seen that questions the official version of the shootings of five police in Dallas on Thursday and was glad to see it because I've had my doubts about what happened. It's always suspicious when the only suspect is executed before any investigation is conducted, and aside from a general distrust of people in general and government officials in particular, the first notification I received on my iPhone from The Guardian Thursday night said there were two or three snipers, as I recall it now.

That notification is still on my iPhone and doesn't mention any snipers, although what it says could have been altered -- I just don't know one way or the other. But it now links now to a later article than it originally did -- one from the next morning -- but that morning after story still quotes the Dallas police chief as saying, during his first press conference, that there were two snipers. Some of the Twitter activity from that night talked about multiple shooters, too.

First reports are often confused, but there's already a Wikipedia article about the shootings and it can be read as being a bit confused also. It says there was one shooter, but that he fired from several different floors of a building, and also that he was a ground level. It also makes the strange, to me, assertion that he lured police to his position by firing many rounds randomly. Says who?

I've saved copies of the Wikipedia article and the Guardian article in case they change. Wikipedia articles usually do. They are a process. Media articles often don't change. There's no reason to change them because too many people already have copies. They are sometimes corrected but that's made clear, usually.
 

I generally suspect conspiracy theories, not because I think government and the media are honest or good but because I believe people generally are too inept to pull off complex conspiracies. I'm lucky to make it out of the house without making at least one trip back to get something I forgot.

I like conspiracy theories, though, for a couple of reasons. One is that they are fascinating stories. Another is that they show that people aren't afraid to question things.

And it's best, after all, to be skeptical about what you read in the papers, as they say. These latest shootings took place in Dallas, where in 1963 Lee Harvey Oswald was quite possibly made the fall guy for the assassination of John F Kennedy by one or another group of Kennedy enemies. Filmmaker Oliver Stone, who made a movie about the JFK assassination that develops the theory that the CIA did it, now thinks it was probably organized by Lyndon B Johnson, because he had the most to gain by Kennedy's death and he reportedly hated the Kennedy brothers and because it happened in LBJ's back yard.

I like this latest version of the workings of Stone's active and complicated mind because I know Texas politics is not gentile nor is Texas law enforcement. I saw that first hand when I was young reporter in Texarkana, where, for example, I'm pretty sure that at least once I sat across a desk from a police investigator who had murdered someone.

All you can say for sure is that the official Warren Commission investigation into the JFK assassination has been harshly criticized since its release, just like the official investigation into 9/11, and that much of the criticism comes from both having limits placed on them, for various reasons, by various interested parties.


San Ygnacio Road update

One reason I finally got around to buying a house is that I was tired of paying not just rent but rent on two storage units, one for a fairly cherry 1990 Chevy pickup I wanted to keep and one for my Moto Guzzi, and I got both of them home this weekend.

The pickup hadn't been started since 2009 so I had it towed. A nice young man who works out of one of the tire places on Bridge Boulevard and owns his own tow truck brought it down from Moriarty yesterday and set it right down in the carport. We had had burgers at the Moriarty Lotta Burger because he used to eat there when he was helping put a roof on Moriarty high school.

Today I loaded the Guzzi in the back of my little S-10 using a 2x10 as a ramp. It hasn't been running in years, either, and I need to do some work on them both before I try starting them. I tried several ways to get the bike, which weighs around 500 pounds, up that ramp but in the end was able to just get it rolling and coast it up because the storage unit I had it in on Central is on the slope, being just above Unser where the grade starts to get steeper. I got it into the kitchen through the back door on the same plank and that was much easier because it was pretty much level from the pickup bed to the kitchen door.









Thursday, July 7, 2016

Albuquerque Native And Socialist Gloria La Riva Makes New Mexico Ballot In Presidential Bid

Long time civil rights and union activist and Albuquerque native Gloria La Riva will be on the ballot in New Mexico running for president under the Party for Socialism and Liberation (PSL) ticket, according to the PSL.

Gloria La Riva - PSL photo
PSL members collected three times the number of signatures needed to get La Riva and her running mate Eugene Puryear on the ballot and learned they'd been successful June 30. I'm on the PSL mailing list and got an email about it today.

La Riva was born in Albuquerque in 1954, left to attend Brandeis University and now lives in San Francisco where she's the president of her printer's union. I've heard her being interviewed many times, on Pacifica radio programs, including their nearly mainstream program, Democracy Now, and on the PSL podcast, on matters like Cuba, anti war efforts and issues in general. She's very smart and knows the issues well. I also hear a lot from La Riva's husband, Brian Becker, a leading PSL figure who has a radio show in Washington, DC.

The PSL is one of the remnants of the US Communist Party. It came about as a split in the Worker's World Party, which had earlier split off from the Communist Party USA. The PSL has many small branches around the country, populated, usually, by mostly young people, and it may be the least doctrinaire of the communist parties in the US, espousing both socialist and social democratic positions and involving itself in alliances with other non socialist and non communist groups through advocacy efforts and things like the ANSWER Coalition. When there's any kind of a protest in Albuquerque, PSL members are usually involved in organizing and attending it.

You may recall that the 2012 PSL presidential candidate Peta Lindsay got coverage by some of the local media when she campaigned in Albuquerque. I don't see immediately on the internet how many states the PSL has qualified for this election cycle and New Mexico may be the first. I seem to recall that Lindsay made it on the ballot in a dozen or so states in 2012 and received some notoriety, including making the Jezebel 25: Kick-Ass and Amazing Women We Love, a kind of activist babe photo shoot by Jezebel, one of the leading feminist magazines. That's Lindsay seated on the left. Seated on the right you might recognize Sandra Fluke, the feminist reproductive rights activist and attorney who spoke at the 2012 Democratic National Convention after being made famous by being called a slut on the air by Rush Limbaugh. Photoshoot here and here.





Forget Trump And Brexit

Watching the American and European media and political elites ongoing fretting over the loss of their grip on an increasingly angry populace (Google "excess democracy") would invoke a sense of glee, were it not for the fact that at the same time, almost unnoticed, they're escalating tensions with nuclear armed superpowers around the globe and propelling us into a new Cold War.

It's almost drowned out by constant braying and wailing about Trump and Brexit but there's been a steady drum beat of ominous developments -- large troop buildups on Russia's borders, massive naval exercises in the Baltic, the "pivot to Asia" by which the US is trying to neuter China both militarily, with large redeployments of US forces and by arming allies in the region, and economically, with trade agreements with its regional neighbors, ongoing bellicose rhetoric from members of that elite including from people like Hillary Clinton. There was the US provocation in Ukraine, the ever eastward expansion of NATO and the resulting deployment of more and more missiles on Russia's borders, US provocations against China in the South China Sea.

Taken as a whole these developments are much more significant than who wins the next presidential election and Americans are barely paying attention.





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Monday, July 4, 2016

Happy Nationalism Day

When people, if they happen to remember to, reflect on the notion that the country they happen to have been born in just happens to be the greatest country on earth.

Why not celebrate by going to Twitter and and reading the back and forth under a hash tag called #AmericaNeverWasGreat. There are a lot of liberal people and a lot of conservative people on Twitter and the idea that people can actually consider the notion that America never was great really brings out conservatives' patriotism, if by patriotism you mean vile, seething hatred of liberals, and gays and commies and Blacks.


The topic, or hash tag, is "trending" now, meaning lots of people are tweeting, or posting about it, maybe because it's Nationalism Day and people are pissed off about displays of nationalism they're seeing, but it's been on Twitter for awhile and apparently was a reaction to Donald Trump's campaign slogan "Make America Great Again."

Meanwhile, I saved this from somewhere on social media awhile ago:




Saturday, July 2, 2016

Brexit Is Good

(Updated below - 7/2/16 11:45 p.m. Mountain Time)

Now that everyone's 401k accounts have regained their previous values and the price of oil is on the rise again, voices applauding the United Kingdom's decision to  leave the European Union are being heard amidst the panicked accusations of racism and stupidity that have flooded the media since the historic vote.

Margaret Kimberly in Black Agenda Report details how the European Union is a Capitalist and Imperalist project that was central to the 2014 coup in Ukraine and the raping and pillage of the European working class in countries like Greece, Portugal and Ireland. She writes:

"The post-referendum recrimination and political chaos benefit humanity. The latest trade deal monstrosity, the Trans Atlantic Trade and Investment Partnership (TTIP), is on hold for now and NATO provocations against Russia will take a back seat. Millions of people will get a respite from American meddling in their lives."

And

"While David Cameron and Barack Obama and the New York Times and the BBC all sneered at anyone who thought of leaving, ordinary citizens kept their own counsel. They watched as EU rules precluded deficit spending and created an austerity hell for the British people. Under American pressure the EU expanded its membership to include poorer countries whose people then had a right to immigrate to more prosperous countries like the UK. This race to the bottom for workers was not just the concern of xenophobes and racists but of people whose living wage jobs disappear."

And

"The media reaction to the vote is proof of how much the establishment want to stay within the bounds of the neo-liberal project. Voters who chose the Brexit route have been labeled as stupid, and we are told that 17 million people didn’t know what they were doing. Every instance of hate speech and hate crime is now blamed on the Brexit vote, as if there was an absence of racism and intolerance before."

In the same publication Glen Ford chastises "house negroes" all over the world for rushing to the aid of their former masters.

Those African Americans aren't convinced the Brexit vote was propelled by xenophobia and the immigration fears of dumb white Englanders, nor is a Greek immigrant to the United States and Phd candidate at the University of Texas writing in the Muslim owned Mint Press News, Michael Nevradakis, who says the Brexit vote "has nothing to do with racism or xenophobia":

"It was one year ago when “leftist” activists across Europe and around the world declared that the European Union had effectively staged a coup in Greece, blackmailing the Mediterranean country into accepting harsh austerity measures after it had already rejected a referendum against more austerity. Yet these same activists are now decrying the British referendum result in favor of a “Brexit.” I sense some hypocrisy here.
British voters bravely rejected a profoundly undemocratic, neoliberal EU, which is perceived as placing the interests of the financial elite ahead of the needs of ordinary citizens. Indeed, despite the claims of international media and numerous “intellectuals,” the British referendum result has nothing to do with racism or xenophobia."
Nevradakis, who describes the EU as "an arm of a corporate, imperialist empire" goes on to detail how vastly undemocratic the EU is and how it has ignored the wishes of voters in country after country while pushing the interests of the Capitalist elite.  


Update: I came across this article in Russia Insider that has excerpts from declassified US State Department  documents showing CIA involvement in the early stages of the formation of the European Union, which you may be aware evolved out of earlier phases of European integration such as the Common Market. The author ties that in with current US government support for the Remain camp. Russia Insider borders on pro Russia propaganda at times but is an independent business venture as far as I can tell and the state department documents part comes from The Telegraph, a mainstream UK media, and the quotes attributed to John Kerry, current secretary of the US State Department, are actual quotes.





Jihad Goes Uber

Peter Harling, recently of the semi official NGO the International Crises Group, has an article in Turkish Policy Quarterly not about Turkey but about the international Jihad movement that I found pretty enlightening. It's not too long and doesn't contain a lot of obscure minutia.

Other analysis of the Jihad movement, now primarily represented by ISIS, talk about how it uses the media, violence, and the predicted reactions of governing elites to its advantage. Harling places all this in a context of how jihadists are filling voids being created by a changing Middle East reality; the region is changing fundamentally, he says, because of western involvement, destroyed states, and the breakdown of traditional ways of doing things such as according to tribal systems or under authoritarian personality centered regimes. ISIS is barely religious at all, so seeing it in the context of the conditions existing in the modern Middle East is more helpful than thinking about it as Islamic fundamentalism.

He says ISIS is in some ways the opposite of Al Queda, the top down organization founded by Osama bin Laden that now completely lacks credibility to today's active and potential jihadists. ISIS is set up less like McDonald's, with franchises answering to an authoritarian central leadership, and more like Uber -- decentralized, with both more autonomy by and also more cooperation among its digitalized local leaders.

And although he says so only indirectly, it's pretty easy to apply what he says here to what our leaders and leading candidates are saying and rest assured that because of how they're approaching it, jihadism is here to stay.

Which of course many people believe is OK with them and is desired by them, being that it increases their power, allows them to build up the national security state and so forth. What the Soviet Union and the threat of global socialism use to provide is now conveniently provided by jihadism.




By the way, I saw this today on Twitter. 







Friday, July 1, 2016

A Victory For Workers

Delivering a good pistol whipping to New Mexico's ranchers and farmers the state supreme court said Thursday a state law exempting them from providing Workman's Compensation insurance to their employees is unconstitutional.

US law requires employers with two or more employees to provide workman's comp insurance. It only costs something like $7 or $8 a week per employee, but New Mexico's legislature had exempted ranchers, farmers and dairy owners from the law.

Lawyers for the defendants said the financial burden would be too severe for the ranchers, farmers and dairy owners, who are already required to ride around in $50,000 pickup trucks and wear $200 cowboy hats.

The case that came before the court was two cases that were combined; one filed by Noe Rodriguez against Brand West Dairy and one by Maria Angelica Aguirre, who broke her wrist while picking chili for M.A. & Sons Chili Products at $300 per week.

I couldn't find pictures of either woman, but here's a picture of Angelica Maria, the famous Mexican singer and actress and the only person ever to have sold out New York City's Madison Square Garden twice in one day.