Friday, September 30, 2016

One Of The Coercive Arms Of The State

For citizens it's illegal to commit any kind of violence. Government reserves for itself a monopoly on the right to commit violence, and our government is steadily ratcheting up its violence and violent capabilities and we are the objects. This picture, below, from today is how the government is dealing with peaceful protesters who don't want a pipeline ripping up their land and crossing the river that's their primary source of water.


This tactic, of treating we, the citizens, as enemies that have to be met with shows of military force, is exceedingly common now, a daily occurrence all across the country, and the federal government continues to hand out millions in military equipment to local law enforcement agencies, to legal killers who have eliminated 858 of us so far this year after the 1,207 they snuffed out last year and the 1,111 of us they neutralized the year before that.

The police have been given carte blanche to treat us as the enemy by a political class that pays for it all and then stands back and watches the violence unfold. Name one politician who has said one thing about cops becoming an army deployed against the citizens they represent.

We are a sick damn country and it matters not one damn whit who the next president is. This trend of worsening state violence will continue and the most violent and most massive death machine ever created called the US military will continue to destroy countries and kill the people who live in them by the hundreds of thousands.









Thursday, September 29, 2016

Blog Gone

All of the blogs I link to on the right hand column have disappeared. I wonder if they somehow got packed in Jim Baca's luggage and are headed to Spain.

It's a feature of the Google blog called the blogroll and it's probably a Google glitch and I'll get them back on there this weekend.  Also I've been noticing versions of my blog that use my web address but then add a country designator like de or uk. I clicked on one and it was a lot of ads. Some damn Capitalist.





Wednesday, September 28, 2016

Laborer

The Bracero (translated by Google to "laborer") program, a series of laws and policies that lasted from the late 1940s to the early 1960s, by which Mexicans were allowed to come to the US on temporary work permits, is sometimes mentioned in discussions about immigration. It didn't grant many rights to the Mexican workers. They couldn't stay and couldn't become citizens, and they were sometimes not paid what they had coming, and sometimes they even went on strike. The program, which brought around five million Mexicans here to work over its 22 years, has a legendary status among some on the Left, who usually talk about immigration from a macro economic or a Marxist viewpoint, namely in terms of how immigration policy has fluctuated back and forth according to the needs of Capital for labor.


 As with much of government policy, it's often difficult for the layman, let alone an experienced journalist, to see and to demonstrate direct lines between the wants and needs of Capitalists and what gets enacted as legislation, but that's where good academic work is so valuable and insightful, and that kind of work exists on the Bracero program and on immigration policy as it relates to other nationalities and over time. A lot of the back and forth between the rich and the politicians goes on behind closed doors, at fancy restaurants, or indirectly; maybe a Jaimie Dimon will write an op-ed for the Wall Street Journal that lays out in somewhat coded language what he and his class expect from their politicians, then a few weeks later another CEO will publish something in an obscure journal that mainly insiders read, etc. If you're not paying attention with a trained eye it all flows under the radar, but a diligent researcher can go back and show how immigration policy has changed as the needs of the economy for labor changed.



I somehow came across these photos and several others on the Department of Homeland Security web site, where this page has links to more photos and a lot of other information; historical, genealogical (some free, some for a fee), webinars, etc.

As you can see in the upper right of this screen shot I took that there's also one of those links you can click on to talk to someone. You can ask Emma.





Tuesday, September 27, 2016

Watch A Debate, Get A Job

A little more than 80 million people watched last night's Hillary Clinton-Donald Trump debate, somewhat less than the 100 million estimates bandied about beforehand by an excited media. That slightly beat a 1980 Reagan-Carter debate, when, I'd add, there were about half as many people living in the US.

By contrast, 530 million people worldwide watched the moon landing and more than 1 billion watched a cricket match in February between India and Pakistan.

All third party candidates were excluded from last night's debate, drastically reducing the points of view those 80 million were exposed to. Viewers last night heard slightly different degrees of Capitalism and Imperialism from two rich people.

Jobs

So-called "startups" account for about 1.9 percent of new jobs in New Mexico, which is only seeing the creation of about 2,000 jobs per year anyway, according to Albuquerque Business First, the local business journal.

A lot of taxpayer money is being spent on enabling these few startups. The university and the community college both have startup incubators, where taxpayer money goes to fund research that is then privatized so that it doesn't contribute to western civilization except to profit a couple of people.

There may be eventual "spinoff" benefits from startups. They may help the economy become more diversified and New Mexico workers become better able to advance our economy and our society in different ways, but for us to find out how it would require a political class more interested in the public good and an academic class more interested in something besides having nice houses on Nob Hill and where to find the best tasting cappuccinos in a big hurry. As it is now we don't even think of these things as a whole. Only how they make money. For a few people.

Remember that as long as we live in houses, eat food, drive cars, use electricity, gas and water and produce trash, most jobs will necessarily be traditional jobs. Our human needs dictate what jobs there are. Tech and all that is a minor thing but we don't know it because it gets all the media attention. Most people do traditional jobs and we ignore them and their pay and benefits.

And the traditional jobs will once again be enough to keep the economy peculating along and growing when workers get paid more for them, that is, when income distribution is more fair like it was in the few decades after the second world war when the US became the global economic powerhouse it is and after the Democrats of that time allowed and encouraged a healthy labor movement, which is the exact opposite of what today's Democrats are doing.

When people are doing well, confident in the future, secure, when their pay isn't forever stagnant and their benefits aren't always being taken away, society is much healthier. If you want to know why Obama will be the first president in history not to oversee a single year of 3 percent economic growth, and why people are turning the demagogues like Donald Trump, don't look at Trump or the media, look at the Clintons, Nancy Pelosi, Martin Heinrich, Michelle Grisham, Tom Udall, Ben Lujan and the Democrats in the New Mexico house and senate. Then look at yourself. You voted for them.

I don't blame you. You went on the information you had. But you were sold a bill of goods. Start thinking about what brought Trump about and don't let these Democrats fear monger you any more just so they can turn around and sell you out.






Um







If I have to see this every time I close my eyes you should too dammit.






Sunday, September 25, 2016

So Why Do They Rebel...Or As You Say, Riot?


Cell Phone Video Shows Charlotte, NC Cop Planting Gun Next To Police Shooting Victim Keith Scott





Media has been breathlessly reporting violence during street protests in Charlotte, NC, over the latest police execution of a Black man. We'll see if they pick up on this cell phone video that shows a cop planting evidence.

If you've been paying half attention you know this happens repeatedly, much of it now being exposed by cell phone video and people who are becoming more adept at shooting it and using editing software to highlight details. One well known case was when North Charleston, SC cop Michael Slager was shown planting a taser next to Walter Scott after he murdered Scott in cold blood while he was running away.




While an inordinate percentage of police violence victims are Black it's by no means limited to Blacks. Police forces weren't formed to give out tickets. The police predate automobiles. The police came about to round up property that ran away from slaveowners, to break strikes, to protect business property. The police are and always have been the enforcers of class war from above.





Saturday, September 24, 2016

Newsweek: Democratic Party Doomed


On the subject of millennials disapproval of Hillary Clinton Newsweek columnist Emmett Rensin writes:

"Hillary Clinton does not support single-payer health care; Young voters do. Hillary Clinton is among the more hawkish members of the Democratic Party; Young voters are not. Hillary Clinton is a capitalist, and even within a capitalist party, she is in both perception and in practice unusually comfortable with capitalism’s worst practices. Millennials, by contrast, reject the entire economic system by a bare majority."

Democratic Party members and liberal pundits berate millennials for not casting aside their beliefs in order to stop Donald Trump, but ignore the fact that Trump's support comes from older voters who abandoned the Democratic Party because it abandoned them.

They raise the specter of Ralph Nader costing Al Gore the 2000 election and ignore the fact that hundreds of thousands of Florida registered Democrats voted for George W Bush.

People talk about the Republican Party being doomed, but Rensin thinks the Democratic Party is the one that's in trouble. On that he may be underestimating how craven Democratic elected officials can be. Hillary changed her tune on a number of important issues to fend off Bernie Sanders, the TPP trade treaty for example. No one believes her, but she's Hillary. Democratic politicians generally are better liars than Hillary. Their supporters have little idea of what their elected representatives do once in office yet believe in their hearts that they're representing their economic interests.

Millennials, who have developed their own news sources and widely share their knowledge across social media, are more well informed than that, and Democrats who want to keep their fancy offices, their status, their hefty paychecks and gold plated benefits and retirement plans will eventually start paying millennials and their beliefs more attention and will start singing if not a different tune in a slightly less offensive key.





George Galloway

The inimitable George Galloway is back, hosting a program called Sputnik on RT, the Russian government owned CNN-type network. On his show the outspoken British politician and long time friend of the Palestinians and other victims of western imperialism, who was again voted out of the parliament in 2015 and is universally despised and derided by UK establishment figures including on the Left, interviews oppositional figures and comments on current UK politics.

RT, originally Russia Today, doesn't fare much better than Galloway even in its Wikipedia article which slams it for having a pro Russian editorial posture, although in reality RT does nothing that CNN, CBS, NBC and the rest of the US networks and print media do willingly for the US government and for free. It gives the Russian side of things, and less insidiously than the US media does when it uncritically promotes US foreign policy propaganda while it poses as being neutral. Remember the US media's drum beat coverage that helped lead us into the Iraq War Iraq war, the non existent weapons of mass destruction the US media told us existed, etc.?

RT has gained some reach in the US by giving a platform to people like Galloway, Larry King,  Thom Hartman, Ed Schultz and Pulitzer Prize winning former New York Times reporter Chris Hedges, whose views the US media doesn't care to hear. Galloway started off in the UK's Labour Party but was tossed out of it by Tony Blair for criticizing Blair and the Labour leadership when they were taking Labour to the right like top Democrats have done to the Democratic Party in the US. He later joined the small Respect Party and ws elected to parliament again. Galloway is also known for his contentious interviews on mainstream media outlets like this one with SKY News, the Rupert Murdoch owned UK equivalent of the Rupert Murdoch owned Fox News in the US. The first 27 seconds of this clip is classic Galloway.









Thursday, September 22, 2016

Register To Vote By Text?

In another indication of how modern technology is making life more convenient and wonderful you can now register to vote on your cell telephone.

Fight For The Future, one of the activist groups that's engaged in the ongoing battle to keep the internet free and open to everyone, sent me an email today with a link to a new system that lets you to register to vote by exchanging a series of text messages with a computer.



After you enter your phone number into this form, it sends you a text message and from then on it's all by text messages. It doesn't have to be a smart phone either.

I have to say it didn't work for me and they emailed me a registration form to print out and send in.





I moved recently and it might be that my updated registration information isn't on file at the "national data base" they checked. Maybe there are glitches that need to be worked out. When I did find my registration at the New Mexico secretary of states' office with a handy link Fight For The Future provided it says I'm registered at my current address.




The New Mexico secretary of state is keeping track of my voting history. I moved to New Mexico in 2000 and apparently didn't start voting here until 2004. I was driving over the road then and was only "home," a rented house outside of Moriarty, every couple months. I had a post office box out there and would sometimes come through New Mexico in the middle of the night and stop and get my mail but I rarely took time off as I was able to create time off for myself when I needed it by manipulating the dispatch system a little bit and I usually did that in southern California. For example, if I was delivering a load in California on a Friday and wanted to stay in California for a few days, I'd deliver the load but not tell my company about it until I knew that all the loads that were leaving California had been taken by other drivers. That meant I had to sit and wait until at least Monday morning, so it was off the the beach or the laundromat in Long Beach where I could park the truck on the Pacific Coast Highway or my favorite restaurants, malls, movie theaters and so on where I knew of places I could park the truck. And places where I could steal a free wifi signal; if you park outside a lawyers office, for instance. A lot of them are not very security conscious and you don't need a password to pick up their wifi signal. But many businesses are like that. Just drive around an industrial park with your computer on and eventually it will pick up an unsecured internet wifi signal.

The secretary of state link that shows your registration, by the way, also lists every kind of district you're in -- state house and senate, school board, water conservation, US house, etc., and your precinct number, which are all usually a mystery to me.

The battle to save the internet, incidentally, is a constant and ongoing struggle as corporations and the political class are constantly coming up with schemes to commercialize the internet and allow deep pocket corporations to push aside the web traffic of the little guy, activist groups and any kind of insurgency not to mention local garden clubs. They want most of all to be able to create fast and slow lanes. I.e., if you pay a fee your web site gets seen. If not it would be hard to find it.

As it is now, every web site from AT&T to my blog to Boeing to a community forum in Bangladesh all have equal access to the internet and travel over the internet at the same speed and download at the same speed. If our politicians and their Capitalist masters have their way a big company could pay to have their web site hog up all the internet space and little "free" sites would be difficult to find and download, or could even be eliminated altogether if they didn't pay or if the controlling authority didn't like their politics.

Find out more at Fight For The Future.






Wednesday, September 21, 2016

Energy Investment

This little pie chart shows where investment is going in energy sources through 2015, according to the IEA, International Energy Association.

Despite oil and gas still taking up half the pie, an accompanying article says a shift toward environmentally friendly energy sources is  actually occurring fast enough to keep global temperature rise below the 2 degree goal set by the Paris Climate Accords. That's good news for life on earth, bad news for some environmental groups' fundraising.

The article notes the shifts in investment from oil and gas to Renewables are due to a large degree because of government policies, whereas in places like China, where growth is the only goal, nuclear and coal are still getting big investments.

I saw a link to this chart in another article discussing the long term economic consequences of the decline in oil and gas prices and investment in those commodities, of which New Mexico lawmakers are well aware as they have a large budget deficit because of it. But the article says that although consumer spending ticks up when oil and gas prices drop, it's offset by the layoffs in those industries, so the economy doesn't really benefit overall.

Now, if we could take those trillions of cash American corporations have stashed offshore to avoid paying taxes on it and use it to lower the price of solar electricity, wind and thermal power, the economy would take off. Instead, our lovely Democratic congress members and Hillary Clinton want to declare a "tax holiday" for those corporations and are working on a deal to let them bring that money back to the USA and pay almost no taxes on it, and then lower the tax rate on them permanently. Democrats are doing this. This is happening under the radar, out of the light of day, down in the sewers where the cockroaches stay.




Tuesday, September 20, 2016

Foreign Policy Press

The airstrikes by the US and its allies that killed 52 Syrian soldiers over the weekend and started the unraveling of the cease fire have quickly been replaced  in the headlines by news of an aid convoy being bombed and by Angelina Jolie's divorce from Brad Pitt.

The airstrikes, however, may have been ordered by officers in the US military who were opposed to the cease fire, some outside the mainstream media are speculating. If that's true -- and several US top brass are on record as "having reservations" about the cease fire deal made by US and Russian politicians -- it would be something akin to a mutiny, an ominous development in an already ominous set of recent developments.

The US has ground troops in Syria. Russia and China have ground troops in Syria. US provocations in the South China Sea against China continue and US provocations against Russia continue in Eastern Europe as the buildup of US and NATO troops on Russia's borders continues largely out of the public eye. Another 4,000 NATO troops were deployed to Poland over the weekend, joining thousands recently stationed along Russia's borders along with their armament and missiles. Democratic Presidential candidate Hillary Clinton met yesterday with the puppet president of Ukraine who was installed after the US engineered 2014 coup against Ukraine's elected president.

Another ominous aspect of all this is that the foreign policy press, the reporters who cover the state department and are covering the US war against Syria, are nothing more than cheerleaders for the US state department and military. I've been following some of them on Twitter where they can share the views that have to disguise when they write their articles. In their Twitter comments back and forth they reflexively blame Russia and Syria for things when their government blames Russia and Syria for things. They've internationalized the US propaganda line.

I quickly found this tweet by Steve LeVine of Quartz, forwarded by his colleague Laura Rozen of Middle East Monitor. He accepts as undisputed truth the US government lines that the bombing of Syrian troops was accidental and that Russia bombed the aid convoy, even though there's no evidence for either assertion and LeVine has no way of knowing what happened in either instance.



As a former reporter I can tell you that that's pretty routine, really. Reporters do that for a couple of reasons. One is to keep their sources happy. Their "sources" are the people who will answer their phone calls and who will give them the inside details when they are under deadline pressure and who will give them a headline story now and then in the very competitive field of journalism, which even though its competitive is also a community.

Another reason reporters toe a common storyline is that they are a social group. They hang out out together. They see each other day in and day out at press conferences and news events and sit and shoot the bs for hours and hours waiting for an official to show up for press briefings and things like that. After work they go the bars together, sleep together, develop friendships and romances and so on. Almost no one wants to be an outlier from their social group. In their Twitter comments the foreign policy press even criticize "the media" for how it covers things like the presidential campaign. In other words, they somehow see themselves as being different from other reporters, not of them. From the way they talk to each other it's obvious that they see their peer group as being the foreign policy establishment, government officials, think tank employees, and military brass and military spokespeople.

Meanwhile common Middle Easterners keep dying by the thousands and the nuclear armed superpowers edge closer and closer to war.














Sunday, September 18, 2016

Stiglitz: Euro No Good

Stiglitz and Tom Clark - Paul Hertfield photo
Economist Jopeph Stiglitz is giving interviews in promoting his recently released book The Euro: How a Common Currency Threatens the Future of Europe in which he talks about the flawed economic fundamentals at the heart of the project that united Europe under a common currency and sought to integrate the European economies in one big border free economic zone. The experiment has failed, the former chief economist at the World Bank and a Nobel prize winner in economics says, because it caused capital to flow from poorer countries like Greece and Spain to richer countries like Germany, and because it increased inequality, which brings down upon an economy its own set of unfavorable consequences.

But the book is really an attack on Neoliberalism, the Thatcher/Reagan economic philosophy behind the Eurozone and behind trade deals like TPP and NAFTA and that guides current US economic policy and that the US political class, Democrat and Republican, have adopted, as Stiglitz concedes in an interview with Tom Clark at the UK's Prospect magazine.

If you'd like to listen to Stiglitz talking about all this the London School of Economics podcast interviewed him recently - podcasts are available in so many formats it's best to just search for it. If you go to Google News and search for Stiglitz many articles and interviews in print come up.

Stiglitz, who also served in the Bill Clinton administration, was originally behind Neoliberalism but he and a few other prominent economists, including Christine LeGarde who now heads up the International Monetary Fund, the IMF, have soured on it, and despite this and the fact that it has led to permanent economic stagnation -- what almost every economists is now calling "the new normal" -- Neoliberalism remains entrenched.

But the Capitalist class and its political enforcers will have to do something about Neoliberalism sooner if not later because the economic inequality and economic stagnation Neoliberalism has caused has also led to the rise of what they fear most, populism, in the US in the form of Bernie Sanders and Donald Trump and in Europe in the rise of UKIP Party in the UK and the National Front in France and in every other European country in some often frightening neo-Nazi form.

The Capitalist class and its political handmaids now have two choices; to ditch Neoliberalism or try to oppress populism. In the US, where the federal government including the Obama Administration has given multi-millions of dollars worth of of military equipment to local police forces and where every police department including Albuquerque's now trots out multiple SWAT teams, army tanks and legions of police on overtime in military assault costumes at the slightest hint of unrest or peaceful protest, and where protest movements like Occupy Wall Street, Black Lives Matter and the recent pipeline protests in the plains states have been met or put down with law enforcement violence, the route favored by our leaders so far has been oppression.

The presidential election now underway is inconsequential in this regard. Voters have a choice between a proven cold blooded killer who is 100 percent behind the Capitalist class -- Hillary Clinton -- and a con man -- Donald Trump -- who would do everything he's told to do but not nearly as effectively, or ruthlessly, I'd say. But oppression can't work forever, and the question is, if our rulers continue down the same path what form the decline and demise of the current system will take, being that the US population lacks a political  consciousness that would allow it to form some kind of alternative system and that the political class knows nothing but the Neoliberal/Reaganomics/Clintonism that it's been doing for more than 30 years now.






Former Republican Governor Meets Real World

Former Kansas Republican governor Bill Graves just stepped down after 13 years running the American Trucking Association, the owners' industry and lobbying group, and in an interview with a trucking industry publication gently asserted that Republicans need to stop lying and that the US has to double its spending on infrastructure or the economy just can't grow. Many in the trucking industry, owners and drivers, are conservatives so it's no surprise that a comment after the article said that if gub'mint didn't spend all its money on welfare it'd have enough to fix them roads and bridges.

So would we end up with better government policy if more politicians, like Graves, had to work in the real world for awhile? No. Graves' Wikipedia article says he was a "moderate" Republican governor who often tangled with his party's conservative wing. It also says his parents ran a trucking company. They most likely weren't the Chamber of Commerce types, or typical American Trucking Association member types, who reflexively oppose any taxes, any spending, any wage increases, any anything. Trucking owners and drivers work in the real world and it doesn't make them want to look at welfare statistics that show that half as many people receive welfare as used to before Bill and Hillary Clinton "reformed" welfare.

Kansas, once the heart of "prairie populism," is now a very conservative state and has led the nation in things like restricting abortion. Tomas Frank's watermark 2004 book "What's The Matter With Kansas: How Conservatives Won The Heart Of America," after all, used Kansas as its prime example. The problem lies with the messaging. Republicans found out how to make it appeal to the emotions. They understand that we're irrational beings.

Democrats got beat at the PR game and instead of figuring out how to fight back just gave up. Many of them, like the Democrats we have in New Mexico, have switched sides and become fiscal conservatives.

Meanwhile the ride to Holbrook and back gets bumpier every night. The recent monsoon season took a severe toll on the roads. Some of the "whoop-de-doos" as you come off of overpasses are truly frightening now, and dangerous. They still fix the potholes but they do it cheaper every time. They replace overpasses now and then. I don't want to think about how they're cutting costs on those.




Saturday, September 17, 2016

Snopes: Hillary's Health Is Just Fine More Or Less





I recently posted a link to a YouTube video put together by Ted Noel, a doctor in Florida, in which he shows clips of Hillary Clinton sometimes acting spasmodic or appearing to blank out -- the above clip is one of the spasmodic episodes -- and in his video Noel says she's exhibiting signs on Parkinson's Disease. The urban myth busting/fact checking web site Snopes.com has weighed in on Noel's claims and gives them its False label.

Snopes notes that Noel isn't qualified to make that diagnosis because he's an anesthesiologist. In common parlance that's the guy who puts you to sleep before an operation. Basically it's a doctor who specializes in treating pain.

Snopes has a good reputation but in this case I don't think Snopes refuted Noel so much as gave some valid alternative explanations for some of Clinton's behavior. I'm not convinced either way. I recommend watching the clips of Hillary and keeping an eye on her.

Snopes' medical degree, by the way, is in nothing, just like mine.


From the Snopes article



Note: A search at YouTube using the terms Ted Noel turns up various videos about Hillary's health including a recent one refuting her pneumonia claims and also videos refuting Noel.

Also, I'm starting to believe that Donald Trump doesn't really want to win. When the polls tighten up he comes out with something irrational and the gap widens again. After the polls narrowed to almost nothing this week following Hillary's fainting spell and questions about her health he brought up his birther conspiracy theories again. Before that the polls had tightened up and he brought up his wall ideas again. Maybe he changes his mind from week to week. He's a con artist and believes in nothing except himself, that's a given. I just think he can harm the world a lot less than Hillary can. She's a warmongering Neoliberal and a Neocon. He'd have everyone against him; the power elite, the political class, the media, the bureaucracy. She'll have all that behind her, enabling her, promoting her, making excuses for her, and facilitating her Goldwater Republican Wall Street pandering Israel supporting world conquering Imperialist schemes.





Wednesday, September 14, 2016

Trump Calls Out The Ruling Class



I just saw this on Twitter. It links to an article where Trump is quoted telling Fox News hosts things like:


"The problem we have right now—we have a society that sits back and says we don’t have to do anything. Eventually, the 50 percent cannot carry—and it’s unfair to them—but cannot carry the other 50 percent."


He certainly means people who live off the labor of others, off stock dividends and rents, who have clamored ceaselessly for the government to keep selling zero interests bonds so it can keep issuing fiat currency into perpetuity to keep the current stock market bubble going, who have sucked up 95 percent of the income gains from the current, bogus, "economic recovery" that allows their craven handmaids in the political class, Democrat and Republican alike including people like President Obama to say "America is doing pretty darn great," who never get their hands dirty and never have a sore back unless its from falling asleep on a loveseat.

Remember. Labor creates all wealth. There is nothing of value that wasn't made valuable because of someone's labor. The rest is just leaching and gambling. Americans grow up thinking the opposite and a thousand things in our culture make it seem like the opposite but Walter Huston, father of director John Huston, explained it all in this scene from Treasure of the Sierra Madre.









Tuesday, September 13, 2016

Not So Fast

Media is trumpeting the census bureau's release of statistics that say "median household income" jumped dramatically last year, 5.2 percent, putting it almost back where it was before the recession began. Median means half are below and half are above. Household means all incomes in the household combined. It's doesn't say what each income did. These statistics have to be gone over more closely than the media has done so far. If a wife, or a college student living at home, hadn't been working and was forced to get a minimum wage job, that would hike the family income significantly, more than 5.2 percent.

Near the bottom of the USA Today report on the statistics, we probably get a little better idea of what's going on.

"Median earnings for men rose 1.5% to $51,212, while women's earnings rose 2.7% to $40,742.

So a little less than the inflation rate for men, a little more for women. And those new women entering the workforce would account for the female increase. Just wait. Not to always be the harbinger of bad news, but more is coming on this.







Monday, September 12, 2016

Russia and China Pivot To Obama

President Obama's "Pivot to Asia" is being met with increased Russian-Chinese cooperation including for the first time joint military exercises between the two countries in the South China Sea that got underway today.

Russian fleet arrival in Zhanjiang, China, Sept. 12, 2016 - Xinhuanet.

Obama, or more accurately the US led Western imperial alliance that includes NATO, Australia, Japan, the Phillippines and a few other nations have been trying to assert control over China by surrounding it with military might, enacting treaties like the TPP deal and using forums like the ASEAN trade alliance.

China, and Russia, which faces a similar US strategy to contain it that includes the expansion of NATO to its borders, recent US troop buildups in places like Poland, the US-led coup against its ally Ukraine, and US and EU sanctions against it, have been responding with increased military cooperation and with the launching of the so called Silk Road, the massive infrastructure project that will include high speed rail lines across the Eurasian land mass to Europe, the Middle East and India that will allow Russia and China to trade with those regions and move oil, gas and other commodities to and from their countries and circumvent US efforts to control them by controlling the world's sea trade routes, as it is doing with its provocations against China in the South China Sea and against Russia in Eastern Europe, in the Ukraine, the Baltics, etc.

This situation is the unspoken context and backdrop for the US presidential elections. US workers, the nominal topic of discussion by the candidates, are irrelevant. It's all about US Capital and the decades-long now Neoliberal project to globalize US Capital and to convert US workers to just another low paid labor force that serves it.

North Korea plays a role in this, too, as the US tries to get China, the only country with any sway over North Korea, to make North Korea halt its nuclear weapons program. North Korea -- which is actually what's left of Korea after the US annexed its southern provinces in the so called Korean War -- has looked over its border for decades now at the US armies, landmines and missiles in South Korea, and has seen that the only countries the US hasn't destroyed or colonized lately are those with nuclear weapons. Iran recognizes that fact, too.






Sunday, September 11, 2016

President Trump - Get Used To It

I'll go so far as to say it's been a remarkable US presidential election campaign so far. Something that boggles my mind (not that hard to do, really) happens every day, although I'm skeptical when I hear comments like we're "entering a new phase". We're still the same species as we always were, and part of that is that we don't adapt very well to change, and having as the first serious presidential contender in a long time who hasn't been pre-approved by the Capitalist class and its media enablers, who after today is starting to look like a sure thing, is a big change. So what am I saying? Do things change or not? Well, even if all you do is sit and stare out the window you're always entering a new phase of sitting and staring out the window, but my oh my what goes by sometimes.

In looking for video of Hillary Clinton "buckling" and "almost collapsing" after the 9/11 ceremony in New York City today I found this video, and the person who posted it, called "Anti Esquerda," wrote in the notes: "this channel is from Brazil , but I sent this video here because youtube of north america , are removing this video , and also facebook."





(Update: an even better video is now posted at Real Clear Politics, a mainstream media site, which includes a close-up of a "mysterious piece of metal" falling out of Clinton's pants leg. When the different videos of the collapse started rocketing around social media, and #HillarysHealth began trending on Twitter, the Clinton campaign quickly released the statement saying she has pneumonia. "Collapse" was quickly replaced in headlines with "pneumonia." It was impressive to see, but some are saying Hillary is toast and I tend to agree. She was falling off in the polls already, down to a 3.1 advantage at Real Clear Politics the main poll aggragator.)

Does Hillary have Parkinson's Disease? A doctor who is not a Clinton fan has put together many video clips of her doing things like jerking and freezing up, things he says correspond to symptoms of the disease and reactions to the medication that treats it.


And someone tweeted out this several years old cartoon by conservative cartoonist AF Branco, saying it seemed apropos today.




This national anthem scene from a professional football game today also doesn't seem to have been covered by the mainstream media but citizen journalists are spreading it around.




 My favorite comment of the day though comes from stand up comedian Emma Haney. If you're not familiar with Twitter, the little symbols across the bottom color themselves in when you yourself have clicked on the tweet to "like" it (the heart) or to "re-tweet" (the circled arrows) the tweet. Although she has over 25,400 followers you can see that just four people have said they like it, including me, and one person has retweeted Emma's tweet, me.















.

Saturday, September 10, 2016

The Natives Are Restless

Updated 9/10 3:00 p.m. (I added two nice photos by Dallas Goldtooth below - one is going around on Twitter and I went to his Facebook page and saw the other.)

The protests in the Dakotas and Iowa by mostly Native American protestors I mentioned a couple posts ago against what's called the Dakota Access pipeline that have drawn the support of the Navajo Nation with Navajo president Russell Begaye and his vice president participating personally got some support from President Obama today when he halted pipeline construction. The US Army Corps of Engineers must now review the permit they previously issued, which protestors said was based on an environmental impact statement conducted by the pipeline company and completely ignored the concerns they had raised about the pipeline.

Screen shot showing entry way lined with participating tribes' flags - Unicorn media
If you can get it to play this is an interesting cell telephone video shot from a mini van driving past the protestors' main encampment and then passing through a national guard "checkpoint" down the road that's been set up in the middle of the highway.

With Obama just completing a swing through Asia devoted to bolstering Neoliberal Capitalism globally and strengthening America's Asian alliances in his "pivot to Asia" strategy to surround and contain China militarily and economically, while was sending back messages that he plans to start pushing the TPP trade treaty again, I doubt his halting of this pipeline has anything to do with appeasing working class protestors. More likely he sensed that the protests, which have been steadily increasing in size and just a few days ago started getting mainstream media attention, would impact Democrats in the November election.

The protests also had the potential to galvanize large segments of the working class in opposition to Capitalism and mushroom into something more widespread. There's widespread anger at the Capitalist system already, but the Sanders and Trump campaigns have been channeling it back into a political process that Capitalism has well under its control.

Cowboys and Indians protest - ABC News
The pipeline in question, like the infamous Keystone XL pipeline that drew widespread opposition and which Obama also halted by denying the federal permit for it, was being opposed on the grounds it would endanger someone's water supply.

The Keystone pipeline crossed a huge aquifer used by Natives and also by white farmers who were part of those protests, and in this case the pipeline will cross the Missouri River upstream from where several Native tribes draw water.

These pipelines are opposed by environmentalists simply because they are pipelines, period, and especially because they'd carry fracked oil in this instance and Canadian "tar sands" oil in the other, both of which are seen as particularly "dirty" oil.

Cowboys and Indians protest - National Geographic
The Keystone protests started getting a lot of mainstream media attention when the someone came up with the idea of putting cowboy hat wearing ranchers and Native Americans on horseback and making up some posters about Cowboys and Indians, either one of which is a powerful American methaphor and a selling tool that advertising has used endlessly.

Native Americans have controlled the narrative during these most recent protests. They use innovative methods that inspire the rest of the activist community and spark interest outside of it and because they are new and different are harder to counter by the ruling class and its police enforcement arm.

And they're Natives, after all. Millions of Americans have a romanticized fascination with them. All a Native has to do is say "our traditional religion" or "our ancestral burial grounds" and millions of Americans get wide eyed and nod their approval. I wouldn't be surprised if Natives have inside jokes about this.

The Dakota Access pipeline, if it ends up not being built, isn't going to change Capitalism. There are other ways to move oil. But whenever there's what's seen as a victory like this people get a renewed sense of their inherent power, and their ability to organize as a mass and successfully oppose Capitalism. Blacks Lives Matter and Occupy did that, but Native Americans introduce a new element. The very idea of them appeals to peoples' imagination. The Hollywood movies and paperback novels and New Age mysticism that made mush of millions of baby boomers' minds had done half the Natives work for them.

The American people had pretty much lost their sense of power over the course of the last 50 years. Americans last had it in the 1960s when they brought about civil rights changes and stopped the Vietnam War. Thy had it then because in the half century before that, the Labor Movement had instilled it in them by organizing millions of Americans in mass struggles to redistribute wealth.


Dallas Goldtooth photo

I've been listening to the Librivox reading of Alexis DeToqueville's classic study of our republic - Democracy In America. (We use democracy to run it but it is, as conservatives like to say, a republic). That book, published in two volumes in 1835 and 1840 just 50 years after the constitution was adopted, is a brilliant analysis of us -- our federal and state constitutional systems and why they were working very well for us, particularly, under our particular conditions. Many students are assigned that book but I doubt many actually read it. I did a report on it for a Journalism history class without reading it. Now that I am hearing it read I can see why it was assigned. I think many politicians used to read it and maybe a few still do.

As deTouqeville lays it out, pretty much all Americans used to participate in the governing of our country, and that had several consequences, one of which was that it gave people a sense of their own power, to the extent that rich people, although average Americans at the time didn't resent for their wealth, lived in constant anxiety. Because of that sense of power, which was part of Americans' identities, there could not be, in America, the rise of anything like the class of nobles in Europe where power is heredity, deToqueville said.

Dallas Goldtooth photo


Things changed though. The federal and the states' constitutions have been altered in various ways that have contributed to the establishment of a professional political class, and the wealthy layers at the top of American society have become a virtual ruling oligarchy with the now permanent political class acting as their servants and enforcers.

Because of those developments and the weakening, by the political class and the oligarchy, of the Labor Movement, which was been one of the central strategies of Neoliberalism, the American people have lost their sense of power and stopped participating in government. Meetings of elected bodies are most often pretty quiet affairs and Americans are ignorant of the internal workings of government. They talk about politics but only in superficial and symbolic terms, then they go vote and hand all their power over to a politician and participate no further.

The Labor Movement was organized mainly by immigrants who had been exposed to Socialist ideas and who in many cases were socialists, or anarchists, themselves. Socialism develops class consciousness, which is a way of saying that it gives people a sense of community with other people who have the same interests; and working class people have much more in common that the differences there are between them, but Democrats' identity politics and Republicans, and now Trump's more overt, racialized appeals cause people to focus on and be aware of only their differences.

The 1960s movements had a Socialist flavor and today, polling and survey data show that young people are more inclined toward Socialism than toward Capitalism. Occupy with its 1 percent and 99 percent dichotomy was overtly class based, and now that Obama is on his way out and Black Lives Matter is no longer under the onerous obligation not to criticize the first Black president and the Capitalist system he oversees is taking on a stridently economic critique that's in many aspects a Socialist critique of Capitalism, which I reported on here earlier.

All these developments taken together indicate that class consciousness among the working class -- people who work for a paycheck -- is on the rise. The ruling class already had class consciousness. They think and act as an economic class and are well aware of class. The working class is beginning to become aware of it and of the fact that Neoliberal Capitalism has been nothing more than class warfare waged on them from above.

Obama's cancellation of the pipeline was perhaps his signal to the the ruling class to start circling the wagons. He knew this time was coming. He's been militarizing local police for his entire term by handing over to them multi millions worth of military equipment and he has let them by and large have their way with us, voicing token concern about police killings while doing nothing to structurally alter anything.

As the violence visited upon the pipeline protestors this week demonstrates, the police know they haven't been called off yet. It may even be too late for that. Once a dog goes into attack mode it can't even hear its master calling.

Trump's divisiveness on the one hand, and the continual demonizing of him by the political class and the media on the other, will waylay the moment when working class power becomes sufficient to bring the police, and then Capitalism itself to heel, but the underlying prerequisites for that moment to come about are rapidly falling into place.

 





Wednesday, September 7, 2016

Realpolitik

Hillary Clinton and John Kerry, our immediate past and current secretaries of state, posing with Uzbekistan dictator Islam Karimov who died a few days ago.









These pictures were posted upon Karimov's death by Craig Murray, the former British ambassador to Uzbekistan, who got fired from that job by Tony Blair when he started exposing Karimov's widespread use of torture which included boiling people alive.

Craig Murray is in the news, well not the news but part of it, because he was denied entry to the United States yesterday by our state department. He had been invited here to hand out a whistleblower's award.

Realpolitick by the way is an interesting term. It's an actual German term but is used by our media quite often. It's been used in different ways. It's often used  to say that we do what's right when we can but when it's the national interest we do what we have to. It was originally coined to mean that foreign policy and politics is just about power. Same difference, really, when you subtract the hypocrisy.






Monday, September 5, 2016

Native Resistance To Fracking And Pipelines Is Growing Rapidly

I noticed in this article in Telesur that Navajo Nation President Russell Begaye and Vice President Jonathan Nez are at the protests taking place in the Dakotas and Iowa trying to stop a fracked oil pipeline that will cross the Missouri River just upstream from where some of the tribes in the area take all their water. Begaye and Nez know well what can happen. I was talking to a Navajo the other day, a supervisor where I deliver in the morning, and she said the big NAPI farm south of Farmington is shut down. They can't use the water from the river that the EPA polluted with water from an old mine last year.

That was shocking news. That's a big, big commercial farming operation up there covering many square miles. So that's why they've sued the EPA.

Anyway these protests in the Dakotas and Iowa are all over Twitter, partly because some security guards on hire from the pipeline company have been using dogs and mace on the protestors, apparently thinking well hell it's just some Indians. But the thing about social media though is that people already know the security guards names and their names and photos are circulating widely on the internet right now.

The New York Times has been transcribing verbatim the remarks of the sheriff up there that it's the protestors who are being violent, but that' being overwhelmed by social media and if what's been happening in these cases holds to form the Times will have to quickly change its tune. Quite a few people were bitten by dogs including one young child.




.

Labor Day

Happy Labor Day, the day set aside to recognize the accomplishments of organized labor and the struggles, often bloody and deadly even if they're largely unknown to most Americans, by union men and women that gave you the living standard you enjoy today.

The US Department of Labor's front web page today has the obligatory recognition of Labor Day and a link to a very sanitized history of the day guaranteed not to upset any conservatives and where you won't read this statement, which is from the much better Wikipedia article about Labor Day:

 "Following the deaths of workers at the hands of United States Army and United States Marshals Service during the Pullman Strike of 1894, the United States Congress unanimously voted to approve legislation to make Labor Day a national holiday and President Grover Cleveland signed it into law six days after the end of the strike."

I usually celebrate this day by reading the Labor Day statements issued by New Mexico's Democrats in which these so called Democrats don't even mention the word union. In fact I have never heard one of these jokers utter the word union and this year they haven't even issued Labor Day statements as of this writing. Indeed, I was looking through the archives at one of our Democrat senators official web pages, Martin Heinrich, and I can't even find any of his previous statements about Labor Day. Which is interesting and a reminder that those people are entirely free to create whatever history of themselves that best serves their interests. Long gone from Heinrich's bio, for example, is the story he used to tell about how his mother's union wages were what made it possible for their single parent family to survive. In other words, he'll disrespect the struggles his own mother went through in even being a union member in his conservative home state of Missouri if it serves his interests. A pathetic, weak man this is.

You'll find plenty of statements from him, of course, about the "bipartisan" bills he's backing -- bipartisan meaning half Republican -- as you will on the web sites of Tom Udall, Michelle Grisham and Ben Lujan, the other so called Democrats from New Mexico who are supposed to be representing the interests of the working class by, among other things, promoting unions but are not. They therefore contribute to the declining living standards of Americans that, as Seattle Times columnist Jon Talton pointed out this Labor Day weekend, are primarily being caused by declining union membership, and I might add by the decades long assault on unions by the Capitalist class aided and abetted by politicians like the conservative Republicanish New Mexico variety of Democrat.

Finally, however, there is this statement from New Mexico's Democratic Party Chairwoman Debra Haaland that actually does contain the work union. I've criticized this woman before but on this Labor Day I thank her.


New Mexico – This Labor Day Weekend, Democrats across the state will be honoring and celebrating the contributions the labor movement has fought for throughout the history of our country.
Democrats in New Mexico defeated harmful right-to-work legislation pushed by Governor Susana Martinez and N.M. House Republicans, and continue to work to make it easier for workers, public and private, to exercise their right to organize and join unions.




Note: The graphic I used for this post is the cover of what many consider to be the best history ever written of the US Labor Movement even though it was published in 1931, i.e. Louis Adamic's Dynamite: The Story of Class Violence in America. Which is in print and available at the usual Capitalist outlets but also from AK Press, the worker owned publisher of Anarchist, radical and Socialist literature in Oakland, CA, from which I got my personal copy. Adamic was a journalist but also an Anarchist and a member of the anarchist union the IWW.

The book is also available for free in a pdf file that looks pretty easy to read at Libcom, one of several good Anarchist/Socialist online libraries. (Marxism.org is another.)







Sunday, September 4, 2016

The Best Way To Cook Capitalism

Updated Sunday Sept. 4 5:25 P.m.

In what will be a stunning admission that Neoliberalism has utterly failed, the Federal Reserve has been preparing to adopt a negative interest rate policy, as some European central banks are doing in a last ditch effort to stimulate growth. It's not a certainty yet, as James Maudlin writes in Yahoo Finance, but fed members are taking necessary first steps if it's needed.

As you know, Barak Obama will be the first president in US history to not oversee a single year of three percent economic growth but the US economy looks like Elon Musk's customized 1963 Rambler (I don't know what that means) compared to Europe.  Europe of course is where Neoliberalism/Thatcherism/Reaganomics/Austerity was first imposed, under Iron Maggie Thatcher, who you can think of as Ronald Reagan's daddy, and the Germans under Angela Merkel love it and what Merkel says goes in the European Union and she refuses to give it up despite years now of no growth at all.

Draining workers' pocketbooks and their future pocketbooks to make the filthy rich even richer, which in a nutshell is what Neoliberalism is, has made the filthy rich even richer alright but cannot lead to growth over the long term because there's no consumers any more. We the people just don't have enough spare cash to fuel growth. But who cares? Say the filthy rich who are doing just fine.


On a happier note, Los Angeles Times columnist Steve Lopez wrote a nice column about taco wagons after spending a day eating at them and, apparently when his mouth wasn't full of delicious food, talking to their owners and customers, following a statement by the founder of Latinos for Trump that Latinos have a "dominant culture" and if something isn't done to keep it down "you're going to have taco trucks on every corner."

Interestingly, taco trucks have proliferated on west Central Avenue lately. At night on the weekends there's at least one per block between Old Coors and Coors, although when Mayor Berry's rapid transit pedestrian mall makes left turns on Central impossible they may all go out of business, as the evening managers at Mac's La Sierra and Golden Pride told me they fear will happen to them.

"Sixty percent of my business is drive through," says the woman at Golden Pride who fears the mayor's project will devastate business. Get yourself some steak in a basket and some smoked ribs and chicken while you can.

I guess I lied when I said this would be a happier note.

Incidentally, I became hooked on taco wagons when I was going to Laredo a lot in the early 2000s. In the part of town where most of the customs brokers are there's not much to eat except from taco trucks, most of which come over the border every morning. Most truck drivers get to Laredo the night before and every morning they're lined up at the taco trucks. It was there that I learned that in order for it to taste right a tortilla must be cooked in lard.

Incidentally, most of the people who work at those broker houses come over every morning, too. Apparently they know the business and it's hard to find Texans who do. I've always wondered, too, if the Mexicans who commute to those jobs know someone on the other side who can get their shipments moving faster. Remember a few years ago when Wal Mart's Mexico division got into some trouble for budgeting some millions of dollars for bribes?


OK, here's a happier note. The TPP and the equally nefarious but lesser known TTIP may both be dead, according to Kate Aronoff writing in In These Times.

Hillary Clinton, of course, initiated and oversaw the negotiations for both while she was secretary of state and used to refer to the TPP as "the gold standard" for trade treaties, but then reversed herself -- on the TPP at least because it was the one that was in the news -- when Bernie Sanders got into the primary contest and made it a campaign issue.

You can be sure that none of the Wall Street boys who have continued to line up behind her believe she's really changed her mind about these trade treaties, or about her preference for any part of Neoliberalism, but whether she can revive the treaties or impose a Neoliberal economic agenda on the country like Barak Obama did and her husband Bill did before him is now in question, because working people have finally caught on to the fact that the Democrats are not their friends any more.


You may have heard the West Jordan, UT has backed out of a deal to lure a Facebook data center there with massive giveaways in the form of tax forgiveness when school board members voted against part of the deal that would have undercut education funding. The Deseret News has an article that goes into detail about why the school board, and some of the other elected bodies involved, decided it was a bad deal. (I'm not sure from this whether that's the end of it over there.)

Los Lunas, NM is also trying to get the data center and is offering even more giveaways than Utah did. Despite some progressive sounding elements that would obligate New Mexico utilities to supply the center with renewable energy, the New Mexico contingent is offering Facebook 100 percent tax forgiveness; i.e. free use of our infrastructure -- in other words, we'll make our working people pay for everything needed to operate your corporate facility like roads, bridges, sewer, water, electricity systems, police, fire and ambulance protection, etc., and all we ask is that you keep all the profits and enjoy them.

Facebook and all those big companies are already parking most of their profits offshore so they don't have to pay federal income taxes on them so they get a free ride at all levels, and working class soldiers are dying to make sure this system keeps functioning unimpeded by any notions about society being organized so the majority of its members benefit.






Saturday, September 3, 2016

Women Will Try To Break Israel's Blockade Of Gaza

The "Woman's Boat To Gaza" will launch from Barcelona on Sept 14 .

The two boats sailing from Spain are part of an effort in which supporters of Palestinians periodically launch "freedom flotillas" of mostly smaller boats and attempt to land in Gaza, Palestine, the coastal strip of land that along with the so-called West Bank constitutes what Palestinians still posses  of historic Palestine.

The flotillas bring things like medications and building materials that Israel doesn't permit to enter Gaza but even in that are symbolic efforts to bring greater attention to the plight of Gaza, which usually only makes the news when the Israeli air force launches one of its periodic month-long bombardments of the Gaza Strip -- the most recent being in 2014 when more than 2,200 Palestinians were massacred while Israel, which controls the entrances and exits to Gaza, prevented anyone from fleeing, and while Israeli citizens watched from the surrounding hills in lawn chairs and ate picnic lunches.

The Flotillas often include a few prominent people like former congresswoman Cynthia McKinney or Greta Berlin, co-founder of the Free Gaza Movement, whose ability to draw media attention gets the effort more publicity. Israel, aware the flotillas damage their efforts to stealthily colonize the parts of Palestine they haven't already stolen via illegal settlements, has increasingly tried to prevent the flotillas from getting close to Gaza by intercepting them at sea and some of those encounters have been violent. In 2010, for example, Israeli commandos attacked a flotilla and killed 10 activists.

Joe Catron has an article about the Women's Flotilla in Truthout and an article about the flotillas in general here, and the women's flotilla web site is here.




Thursday, September 1, 2016

Roseanne And Donald Trump

In one of the more bizarre twists in this bizarre season domestic goddess and ultra liberal Roseanne Barr is promoting Donald Trump for president. If you go to her Twitter feed -- @therealroseanne -- pro Trump and anti Hillary posts are all over the place.

Roseanne early in the year was for Bernie Sanders but soured on him when he began to talk about the plight of the Palestinians. Roseanne is a die hard supporter of Israel, a fanatic supporter -- I mean, one of those who when anyone says anything in support of the Palestinians it's anti semitism in her book -- but since she's Jewish I've always overlooked it. That kind of support for Israel from a Jew is understandable to me.

I've always liked Roseanne's comedy but wasn't a big fan, but then started checking in on her now and again after she started doing a radio program on the Los Angeles Pacifica station, KPFK, that I heard now and then when I was going to California a lot. It wasn't an especially good show, and after awhile she started phoning it in from Hawaii where she lives, and then it just petered out, but I liked it that she put her star power behind Pacifica. And although it was the typical drive time talk show and she espoused mainstream liberal viewpoints most of the time, now and she'd make offhand mentions that made it sound like she might be a socialist at heart, or at least had that favorable if naive view of socialism that a lot of 1960s radical had, and that I had for many years before I started getting serious about educating myself and began to think of myself as more of an actual socialist.

Something about Roseanne being all in for Donald Trump, though, gives me a sinking feeling. I don't want my leftist icons being for Trump. In fact I'm feeling a little ill. I don't want Trump. I don't want Hillary. I don't want Jill Stein. I don't want Gary Johnson. I want George Washington.