Friday, February 17, 2017

The Obama Legacy

Federal Reserve figures for 4th quarter 2016, Obama's last, show Americans deeper in debt, back where they were during the great recession, especially students whose debt has set another record.

But the "Obama Legacy" isn't that during his tenure Americans' economic situation worsened in terms of rising debt, declining living standards and wealth and income inequality that are at record highs. It's not that Americans were thrown out of their homes at rates that topped 1 million per month sometimes while Wall Street got bailed out and was lavished with years of quantitative easing that went straight into the pockets of the tiny minority who own the vast majority of stocks. Obama's legacy isn't his seven wars, the hundreds of thousands he killed, the extrajudicial assassinations by drone, the massive increase in domestic spying, the vastly expanded new powers he added to the imperial presidency.  The Obama legacy is that liberals sat on their asses and said nothing. It's that they wanted more of it under Hillary Clinton.

But Trump, they say. Trump. Trump.

What about Trump? He's hit a stone wall everywhere he's turned because people we the people are angry, and Democrats and Republicans and even judges are frightened by the peoples' ire and have pushed back against Trump, and unlike it was during the Obama years the media has become one giant fact checker and is finally doing its job. So Trump is on the run, because liberals and all kinds of people who sat idly by all those years are finally awake and in the streets and in airports and picking up their phones and sending emails.

But Trump. Trump. American democracy. That's all a liberal can say because they've done nothing about the family debt and student debt Americans ran up under Obama, or his wars, his Cold War escalations, the living standards that declined, the utter abandonment of workers by Democrats. Liberals have nothing to say because they've never even thought about any of it, and they won't. They're a broken record repeating Trump, Bernie Sanders, Comey, Russia, Trump, Trump, Trump.
 







Bernie Would Have Won








Susan Sarandon was trending on Twitter the other night with over 26,000 tweets. The impetus was an MSNBC politics program earlier in the evening where she said the usual Bernie supporter things that rile up Hillary Clinton fans and re-ignite their collective anger. For hours she was being called a delusional bitch who should be punched in the face.

These collective outbursts have been spreading through social media in wave after wave. They get nasty, a simultaneous savagery unleashed in every direction - at Trump, Russia, Putin, Sanders supporters, Ralph Nader, the King of Sicily, four barrel carburetors, tortilla chips, anything and everything that didn't fervently expectantly hope Hillary would win. It goes the other way, too. It goes in all ways.

This anger, the anger of millions, that put Trump in the White House, is controlling the agenda. No politician, commentator or lawyer has caused any nominee to withdraw or any court to issue an injunction. Democrats and Republicans shrink from it, the sense that the people sense of their own power, the anger of the Trump voters, the Bernie and the Hillary voters, the non voters, the young Blacks, the people of all ages swelling the ranks of the Democratic Socialists of America, marching on the capital, screaming at their representatives at town hall meetings, swamping switchboards, crashing servers, chanting en masse at airports, all of them with bellies full of food and hearts devoid of empathy, and all in need of the love and fulfillment that Capitalism can't provide.

All Capitalism can give you is Youngstown.



 All it can give you is Syria.



















The video is the work of Andrew Callaway.

The music he used, appropriately, Girls Just Wanna Have Fun, made into a super monster mega hit by Cindy Lauper, was written by a guy named Robert Rimato, a musician from Pennsylvania who went by the stage name Robert Hazard. Read about his interesting, short life here. He only ever recorded a scratchy demo of the song, here.






Thursday, February 16, 2017

Gringo Imperialism To Continue Under Trump

Some things never change, like US government interference in the political processes of other countries.

The woman in the picture is Lilian Tintori, celebrity wife of Leopoldo Lopez, who is in jail in Venezuela for organizing violent anti government protests that killed at least 40 people including several police officers.

Lopez currently is the public face of the old oligarchy that used to run Venezuela and that with US government organizational and monetary assistance -- some secretly through the CIA and some overt and open via US state department agencies like USAID -- has been trying to topple elected Socialist governments of Venezuela by various means ever since Hugo Chavez was first elected president in 1998 -- an effort taken up by Barak Obama and his secretaries of state Hillary Clinton and John Kerry and shamefully by New Mexico's federal delegation with their votes and by repeating misinformation about Venezuela.

Now that Lopez is in prison Tintori fronts the Venezuelan opposition, and Trump is giving the full oval office photo-op presidential backing to this symbol of US meddling in the internal affairs of other countries even as the US political class and its media megaphones squeal about interference in US elections (and infiltration of the Trump government) by Russia, for which -- one more time -- no evidence has been put forth, a crucial fact now and then conceded by the mainstream media even as it whips up anti Russia frenzy day in and day out.

Update 2/16/17 8:52 pm: Venezuela Analysis, an independent outlet generally supportive of Venezuelan Socialism, has posted an article about Tintori's White House visit.




Tuesday, February 14, 2017

Murder In The Mayhem City


 Albuquerque has a whole lot of killing to do before it comes close to places like Chicago and Indianapolis when it comes to piling up dead bodies according to an article and nifty little interactive chart put together by The Economist that lets you compare the other top 50 most murderous cities in the US with the home of not being able to make a left turn into my favorite barbecued ribs and chicken place thanks to our idiot mayor's bus lane down the middle of iconic Route 66 Central Avenue monument to himself wanted by exactly no one besides himself and a city council that's being blackmailed by Russia.


Monday, February 13, 2017

To Marxist Writers And Theoreticians. You Can Stop Writing And Theorizing

















Radio

It's World Radio Day, according to the internet. It's trending on Twitter and if you click on the #worldradioday hash tag there are many nice posts, some of a historical nature and some of people working at radio stations and listening to the radio, like this of two girls in Mozambique dancing to their transistor radio while carrying water.






The radio has a place in my heart and my psyche. Like many kids I had a transistor radio. It looked almost exactly like this one but was a whitish color. It was a cheap one but it had a case which enhanced its status. The other day I was in the bath tub listening to music on my cell phone without headphones or ear buds, just holding the puny speaker up to my ear, and suddenly realized that the sound was pretty much that of my old transistor radio. Oh ye technophiles.




After I got a car, of course, I listened to billion of hours of rock and roll on a car radio. Chicago Top 40 stations WLS and WCFL beamed straight across Lake Michigan into my little Michigan town of New Buffalo. Some of those disc jockeys have legendary status among radio aficionados. Clark Weber. Dick Biondi. There are many, many old radio web sites.



When I went on the road in the semi I again listened to a lot of radio. Eventually I'd go to border towns and start finding Mexican stations and listening to a lot of what was, to me, exotic and incredibly beautiful music.






My flagship station was La Ranchera de Monterray. These last pictures are from their Facebook page and a web site where you can listen to their broadcast. On some nights it beams out across much of America. It's of course all in Spanish and in order to be sure I'd actually found it I'd have to wait for their station identification announcement. Then there it was. A man with a deep, wonderful radio announcer's voice intoning, almost singing; "La Ranchera" (slight pause) "de Monterray."










Saturday, February 11, 2017

Relax

The world isn't coming to an end after all. Not today. You know an administration is on the back foot when the mainstream media can call you a cuckold, which Talking Points Memo publisher John Marshall does in the headline for his article about three key issues Donald Trump has backed down on and adopted more mainstream positions on in the past two days -- China, the travel ban and the Iran deal.

These are all big deals and the news that Trump will honor Barak Obama's nuclear agreement with Iran is especially significant. Trump has surrounded himself with Iran haters like Mad Dog Mattis who along with the Israel lobby and key members of the Neocon dominated foreign policy establishment have been trying to pressure Trump into starting a war with Iran.

It's also significant that the one area European Union leaders are still concerned about is that Trump hasn't become a Russia hater --i.e. hasn't caved to tremendous pressure from the US establishment and its media megaphones which put out a nonstop narrative that Russia is about the take over the world, with a military 1/10 that of the US and that it mostly keeps within its own borders unlike the US which has close to 1,000 military instillation spanning the entire globe.

Neocon Hillary Clinton was Russia hater and Putin demonizer Numero Uno and if she'd been elected president the US would have ground troops in Syria and the US and Russian war machines would be on high alert.



Note: Taken with the post below about Trump not buying into the dangerously idiotic concept of "American Exceptionalism" -- which him being the president of the US de A is the most refreshing wind to waft down the pike in a large while --- it's safe to say things are turning out pretty much the way I thought they would. That is, when the rest of the world is figured into the equation, and not just you, we are far far better off with Trump as president than Hillary Clinton.






Friday, February 10, 2017

A President Who Doesn't Believe In American Exceptionalism?


When told by O’Reilly that the Russian leader is a “killer,” Trump replied that the U.S. has killers too. "What do you think? Our country's so innocent?"

While the Donald Trump media circus rolls on, the benefits of Trump instead of Hillary Clinton being president continue to mount. This latest benefit may be the most significant yet.

The sentiment quoted above by Trump is that there's a moral equivalency between the US and Russia, between the way the US often pursues its self interest with violence just like Russia does, and it's truly remarkable for a US president to publicly state this as a fact.

The idiotic notion of "American Exceptionalism," the idea that America is somehow morally superior to other countries, is the underpinning for all the justifications for the ways the US furthers the interest of US capitalism, especially through its wars of aggression, and American exceptionalism is espoused in one way or another by every mainstream Democrat who seeks public office.

One of American Exceptionalism's main uses has been to drum up support for war, to foster the human tendency to be nationalistic. It usually, most likely, used cynically by politicians, but if not it's even worse: a politician who thinks Americans are better or morally superior to other people is irrational and delusional.

For a president to contradict this caustic notion can only hinder its propaganda value and could have significant impact on public discourse and the way Americans relate to the outside world. Who knows, it might hasten the breakdown of the divisions that prevent the working classes of the world from cooperating across national boundaries the way Capitalists do.

So we now have a president who:

* Doesn't believe in American Exceptionalism

* Wants to end our brutal, bloody and completely unnecessary criminal war against Syria.

* Wants to get along with nuclear armed Russia.

* Wants to get along with nuclear armed China, too, according to reports over the weekend that Trump has told Chinese premier Xiu that he'll adhere to the "One China" policy.

*Meanwhile, hundreds of thousands if not millions of Americans have taken to the streets, many for the first time, in wide ranging protests that have mobilized broad segments of the population.

* Activist groups by the thousands are sprouting up all over the country.

* Newspaper readership is up.

None of this would be happening if Hillary Clinton was president. None of it. If she'd been elected people would have already gone back to sleep. They'd be sitting on their couches watching police dramas while Democrats and Republicans colluded to make things better for their Capitalist masters and worse for us, just like they've been doing since this ungodly Reagan Era began in the 1970s.

People wail ceaselessly about Trump and his cabinet of billionaires and generals, and it's terrible alright, but it's even more terrible when Democrats do it. Trump is finally laying bare the fact that US foreign and domestic policy isn't conducted for humanitarian reasons or to promote freedom and democracy or to help working Americans, but simply for profit. It is when a Democrat is in power, too, but people don't even notice. With a Republican they do.

And blessedly, because Hillary Clinton isn't president, thousands of innocent girls and boys, women and men, grandmothers and grandfathers, won't be getting blown into little pieces in order to save a rotten, corrupt, rigged and declining US-based global Capitalist system while millions of Americans sit on their asses not caring one single bit.







This painting is one of those paintings I see once in a great while that just gives me that peaceful, easy feeling simply because of the way the components are arranged; the effect the color/shape/light/dark balance has on my psyche is a calming one, you might say.

It's by Ivan Bilibin, a Russian illustrator of fairly tales who was also at various times a stage designer and drawer of revolutionary cartoons and who was one of hundreds of thousands of people who starved to death during the German army's 1942 siege of Leningrad.







Sunday, February 5, 2017

Pippa-Bismol


Watching this actually makes me ill.






I came across it looking for pictures of the Matterhorn.



Then I see an article that says Pippa Middleton climbed the Matterhorn in July. "The 32-year-old made the climb in honour of the younger brother of her fiance James Matthews, whose life was lost when a Himalayan storm engulfed his assault on Everest in 1999."



Well I'll be. Pippa was "humbled," according to Pippa. More than 500 people have died climbing the Alpine peak with the German name on the French-Italian border.

And why would I be interested in the comings and goings of a privileged member of the ruling class who's lived off the toil of the working class her entire life?

We've all been humbled at one time or another.




 


Everyone has another side.







Saturday, February 4, 2017

War Games




I guess it's Super Bowel Sunday weekend, the culmination of US fourth quarter ritualized violence and war, i.e. football season.

The US is a very violent country and we just got rid of an extremely violent president as outlined in Mint Press News (a nice little online news site run, by the way, by a Muslim woman.) Barak Obama killed hundreds of thousands of people and a lot of the responsibility for that is shared by his first warmongering secretary of state, Hillary Clinton, who intimidated him into waging wars against Libya and Syria and promised during her campaign to be an even worse warmonger than he's been.

Very few Americans cared about Clinton's warmongering or give a damn about the brown skinned people who made the mistake of being born in the countries our imperial war machine has destroyed and is destroying and have been and are getting blown into little pieces in our name, but one advantage of having Donald Trump as president in place of Obama and instead of Clinton is that the media now publishes reports about some of the innocent victims of our warmongering, which means some Americans will feel like they have to pretend to care about the deaths of at least a few of the brown skinned people who get blown into pieces by our military and intelligence agencies. It probably won't amount to very many Americans but it will be better than none.

The same Americans, hundreds of thousands of them it looks like, who never expressed a bit of concern about Democrats Clinton and Obama blowing up brown skinned people, are now pretending to be outraged that Trump is delaying brown skinned people at airports and sending them back to countries they came from, even though all of the people being delayed and sent back, as far as I've seen, are still in one piece and are alive.

Are these suddenly-caring-about-brown-skinned people hypocrites? Yes and no. Many things about our culture, not just football, work to make us immune to the pain of others and to discount the value of certain kinds of life, such as that of brown skinned people, and even brown skinned Americans can be socialized to discount the value of brown skinned people.

When confronted with the fact of their non caring people always react in ways intended to protect themselves -- not just in terms of material things and financial security but their sense of themselves -- because the initial act of devaluing lives of others had at its core the same motivation. Fear. Of losing what you have, what you struggled and toiled and cheated and lied and compromised yourself to get and who you have become as a result.

We as a species in general don't have much potential to do much better than we're doing. We can do better but it requires a little will power and a lot of emotional maneuvering and  rearranging and many don't have that capability because it requires a degree of humility, and that requires a degree of self honesty.








Is Heinrich Trump's Handmaiden?





US representative Earl Blumenauer, from Portland, OR, who wrote this tweet, is a real Democrat.

In New Mexico we have politicians who run as Democrats but they're only liberal on gay marriage and abortion. On economic issues they vote with the Republicans. They vote for budgets that slash social spending. They've voted to cut Head Start, federal retirements, Social Security and many other things.

One of them, senator Martin Heinrich, joined with Republicans the other day to kill a Bernie Sanders amendment that would have allowed Americans to buy, from Canada, the exact same medicine they pay a whole lot more for here. Then he voted for Donald Trump's nominee for defense secretary, a guy who many people consider to be a multiple war criminal.

When Neil Gorsuch was nominated for the Supreme Court, Heinrich, who will vote on the nomination, instead of saying something like Earl Blumenauer said, emailed this out:


Franklin,
 

Last night, President Trump announced his nominee for the Supreme Court: Neil Gorsuch.

Now it is up to the Senate to ensure that Gorsuch will uphold the Constitution and the rule of law or if he will bend to the whims of Donald Trump.

We have already seen alarming steps from Donald Trump to interfere with the rule of law. This week he fired the acting Attorney General who refused to defend his Muslim travel ban.

Public servants who apply or defend our laws should do so based on the Constitution, not on the political arm bending of Donald Trump.

As I review Gorsuch’s credentials and views, I will ensure that the Constitution and the rule of law comes first to any nominee for the highest court.

Thank you for your dedicated support,

Martin

P.S. Follow me on Facebook and on Twitter for the latest updates on my work in the Senate and fight for our values.




As you can see, Heinrich says nothing in his email about the slimy way the Republicans blocked President Obama's nominee in order to leave Anton Scalia's old seat on the high court open. He doesn't argue that Republicans set a precedent Democrats could justifiably use, if they could somehow find the guts, to keep the seat open indefinitely.

Heinrich says none of that. If you read what Heinrich writes, he's not vowing to oppose Gorsuch at all. He doesn't even come close to saying that.

On the contrary, if you look past the meaningless platitudes about upholding the constitution and read what he's actually saying, Heinrich is essentially saying he'll vote for Gorsuch unless Gorsuch gives him some outlandish reason not to.

For the good of the people of New Mexico and the people of America I hope he finds out what's been coming out about Gorsuch, who wrote that horrible Hobby Lobby decision that gives employers the right to make up their own laws and call it religious freedom. I hope Heinrich learns about some of the bizarre decisions Gorsuch has written that have serious authoritarian undertones in the way they expand the power of corporations and the state and strip away citizens' rights. I hope he figures out Gorsuch is just the kind of judge a president with fascist tendencies would want.






Friday, February 3, 2017

Fukishima Now Leaking "Unimaginable" Levels Of Radiation

It's being reported by multiple media outlets that radiation has begun leaking through a "gaping hole" in one of the damaged Fukishima nuclear reactors on the Pacific coast in Japan and has spiked to many times the levels seen even immediately after the 2011 disaster; going from a previous record of 73 sieverts per hour to 530 sieverts per hour. Even at the lower levels that radiation has been showing up in sea life and up and down the west coast of the US and is suspected to be causing illnesses in babies.

So let's make more radioactive material that has a half life of a quarter million years, ten times the length of the longest known human civilizations. Yessiree, so that we can light a light bulb for ten minutes let's make another few million tons of that tumor causing crap and then bury it under the desert so that long, long, long, long after we're gone, if by some miracle it hasn't already spread to the water supply down there that we live off of, some earthquake or volcano or fissure in the earth's crust or maybe the rising seal level can expose it and kill off what's left of life on earth.