“WHY DO YOU SPEND SO MUCH TIME CRITICIZING THE DEMOCRATS?”

10 01 2021

First of all, I want to say a few words about last week’s events in Washington, D.C., and elsewhere, which occurred too close to show time for me to pull together a story about them. I see several underlying causes for the polarization that has had such gut-wrenching manifestations as what happened in Washington, and will have something to say about them for next month’s show.

 

As a Green,I get into heated discussions on Facebook and MeWe sometimes, and there are a couple of questions that the people I debate pose fairly often. I think they’re worth a response that isn’t written on the fly in the middle of one of those intense internet threads, where the format, in some ways, limits the level of detail and nuance that can be expressed.  Let’s face it–both Twitter, with its length limitations, and being on the internet on your phone, with its small screen, have the effect of shortening their users’ attention spans. That relates to a subject in that I’ve been meaning to address for some time–why I don’t have a so-called “smart phone.” For now, however, I want to focus on these two questions. They are inter-related, so I think it’s important to answer them together and show their connection.

The first question is, “Why do you spend so much time criticizing the Democrats–more, it seems, than the Republicans?”

The second is, “Why do you insist on voting for Green Party candidates who aren’t going to win?”

To answer the first question, we have to look at the overall political spectrum, understand what its two ends are, and locate the Republicans, the Democrats, and the Greens on that spectrum. The right end of the spectrum is anchored in the notion that the most important functions of government are protecting its borders and protecting the wealth of its citizens, or, in practice, the wealth of its wealthy citizens. On the left end of the spectrum is the view that government’s function is to ensure the wellbeing of society as a whole in its broadest, most ecological sense–i.e., human wellbeing seen as one facet of a healthy planetary ecology. This includes making sure that nobody lives in poverty. The most radical way to end poverty is, first, by redistributing the wealth and power amassed by the few, and then mandating that the best-paid people in a society cannot earn more than, say, ten times what the lowest-paid people in a society earn. Why should somebody who’s flipping burgers full time make less than $30K a year? What is a surgeon or a movie star going to do with more than $300K  a year? The wealth and power of the few should be, in the view of the left side of the spectrum, socialized–i.e., the wealth should be used for the benefit of society as a whole–and  the power, too, should be redistributed to create an economy based in democratically-run worker, user, and consumer co-ops, rather than our current regime of managerial dictatorship. Read the rest of this entry »





DON’T BELIEVE EVERYTHING YOU THINK

10 01 2021

This blog is called “Deep Green Perspective” because I do my best to look at immediate issues through not just a longer-term focus than they are usually viewed, but from a whole different, well, perspective. Here’s a metaphor that may help explain the difference between “long-term focus” and “different perspective.”

“Long-term focus” is pretty simple. It means understanding the historical context of events, including the extent to which similar things have occurred before, what kind of trend they are part of.

“Different perspective” is a little more complex. Let’s approach it this way:

If you stay on the ground and look at the world around you, you are essentially viewing it as if it were flat. What is close to you looks big. What is further away seems smaller. What’s behind that house? You can’t tell. But, if you climb a tower, or ascend in a balloon, your view of the landscape changes dramatically. It’s all down there, and you’re up here, aware of it all, but not engulfed in it. I think it’s important to maintain that perspective on “the news”–to be aware of it without being taken over by it. Doing that takes a certain amount of learning–an intellectual understanding what the helpful techniques are, and enough self-discipline to practice them regularly enough to get them down–like playing a musical instrument, riding a bicycle, or getting good at basketball. This post is an attempt to lay out the basic technique I use in order to not be emotionally overcome by the fascinating swirl of daily headlines and lead stories.

It wasn’t my idea to write this down, however–I was asked. My wife and I were having a conversation on the subject, and she so appreciated what I said that she asked me to put it in writing so she could share it with some of her friends, and so I did. That was several months ago. Now, the start of a new year seems like the right time to offer something deeper than who done what to whom and what the results were, or may be. So, here goes…. Read the rest of this entry »





Top 10 Ways Neera Tanden Has Been Misunderstood

13 12 2020

 

This is a guest post by David Swanson.

When Neera Tanden emailed her colleagues in support of forcing Libya to pay for the privilege of having been bombed, many misunderstood, including one of her colleagues who emailed back objecting to creating what he supposed was an obvious financial incentive for bombing more countries.

Now that Tanden has been nominated for high office and will face confirmation hearings in the U.S. Senate, we have an obligation to get this right. The top ways in which Tanden has been misunderstood are:

  1. Tanden had already supported bombing Libya. The damage was done. It was her responsibility to find some source of funding to pay for it, and she was simply not as free as you ordinary schmucks might be to propose taxing billionaires or corporations because she was running a think tank funded and controlled by them.
  2. Tanden actually got the idea from a handful of deranged Republicans, and there is nothing whatsoever more respectable than right-wing figures labeled leftists in the media seeking common ground with right-wing figures labeled right-wing in the media. You can’t complain about the shortage of such outreach and then object when it happens!
  3. Libya at this point was becoming a hell on earth, a weapons bizarre bazaar, a host to open-air slave markets. No money left in Libya was possibly going to be used for anything good or decent. It was far more moral and sensible to try to steal some of Libya’s money to fund the government that had brought Libya to that state.
  4. Tanden’s scheme, surpassing your miserable understanding, was to give oil profits a bad name without offending the brutal oil dictatorships funding her think tank. But you had to pretend you understood these subtleties and stick your nose in and muck it all up with your tree-hugging bleeding-heart opposition to incentivizing bombing people. Didn’t you?
  5. the rest of the post    

Rolling Stones “Cool, Calm, Collected

Jefferson Airplane, “Greasy Heart

 





RE-ELECTING HERBERT HOOVER

13 12 2020

Suppose that, in 1932, in the depths of The Great Depression, a fascist demagogue had contested Herbert Hoover’s re-nomination as the Republican Presidential candidate, and succeeded, thrusting Hoover aside? Suppose, in 1932, the Democrats had decided that, with the country in such perilous shape, New York Governor Franklin Roosevelt’s proposals for social programs and some kind of pie-in-the-sky “New Deal” seemed just a little too, well, socialist? So, instead of nominating Roosevelt, who was wildly popular, the Democratic leadership smeared him as “Moscow’s favorite,” and gave the party’s nomination to Hoover, endorsing his conservative strategy of stimulating the economy by offering financial stimuluses to banks and large businesses, and avoiding large-scale government handouts to impoverished families and individuals. Suppose that, in spite of their disappointment with this choice, a majority of Americans voted for Hoover over the demagogue, even as they hoped that Hoover, once in office, would see the wisdom of Roosevelt’s approach? Does this scenario sound at all familiar?

(Photo by William Thomas Cain/Getty Images)

I’m not going to take that metaphor too much further, but what I will do in this essay/talk is lay out some of the many ways Biden has always had fairly Republican policy goals and intentions,look at the conflicts this will engender and whether they might cause any kind of reassessment, and try to lay out a scenario or two about where all this could be leading us.

So, here we are. We’ve just re-elected Herbert Hoover, er, elected Joe Biden. In  either case, we’re looking at a President whose policy priorities are Republican. I’m not the only one who sees that–there’s a whole website devoted to demonstrating its truthThat website starts with his record on Social Security, and goes on from there:

  • 1983 Joe Biden floats the idea of raising the retirement age.

  • 1984 Joe Biden partners with Republicans to co-sponsor a freeze on social security.

  • 1995 Joe Biden says he’s tried four times to freeze Social Security, Medicare, Medicaid, and veterans’ benefits.

  • 1995 Joe Biden votes for Balanced Budget Amendments that cut Social Security, Medicare, Medicaid, and veterans’s benefits

  • 1996 Joe Biden floats the idea of chained CPI cuts to Social Security.

  • 1997 Joe Biden votes again for Balanced Budget Amendments that cut Social Security, Medicare, Medicaid, and veterans’ benefits.

  • 2007 Joe Biden brags that he’s proud of his support for a Social Security age increase.

  • 2007 Joe Biden tells NBC’s Meet the Press that cuts to Social Security and Medicare should “absolutely” be on the table.

  • 2018 Joe Biden says Social Security and medicare “still need adjustments.”

So, we have a President who, while spouting rhetoric about making things better, seems firmly committed to doing things that will make matters worse. The country is incredibly polarized, not just between the privileged few and the dis-empowered many, but between those whose response to our difficulties is to retreat into authoritarianism (as long as the authority shows some deference to them), those who envision a better way, and those who want to stick with what we’ve got because it would work if you ne’er-contents would just stop your complaining and drop your perfectionism and be grateful for what you get. Yes, that’s a three-way polarity. American politics tends to be extremely bipolar, but reality does not, which may help explain why our political system seems so poor at figuring things out. Read the rest of this entry »





Whatever Happened To Left Solidarity?

8 11 2020

A few months ago, a letter signed by a large number of prominent Americans who are considered “leftists” was published on the Common Dreams website, urging the Green Party not to run a Presidential candidate this year. The article was widely reprinted, but,to their great discredit, neither Common Dreams nor the vast majority of the sites that reposted the letter were wiling to publish Green Party Presidential candidate Howie Hawkins’ response. In the wake of an election that is clearly not going to be the rout of Trump and the GOP that many liberals were hoping for, and may even end in Trump’s re-election, I think it’s worth revisiting Howie’s response. In the second part of the show, I’ll offer my own observations on our post-election situation.

(note:  Because I made some edits to this in order to improve its clarity, I am printing the whole article on my blog, rather than publishing a teaser here and linking to the body of the text. You can find the original here and here.)

By Howie Hawkins

In 2004, a number of prominent progressives issued statements calling on people to vote for Democrat John Kerry in the close states and the Green Party candidate in the so-called safe states where the outcome would not be close. In 2020, many of these same people have moved further to the right and now call for a vote for Biden without any support for a Green vote in the so-called safe states.

In 40 states, the vote for the Green presidential ticket determines whether the Green Party retains or gains ballot line for the next election cycle. In most states, it’s 1%, 2%, 3%, or 5%. But there is no support for the Green Party this year from these progressives. What happened to left solidarity? Read the rest of this entry »





AND THE WINNER OF THE UNPOPULARITY CONTEST IS……

8 11 2020

As Donald Trump prepares to have his servants pack his bags and sends scouts out to locate a nice villa in Brazil, there are a couple of distinctions and numbers in which he can take some satisfaction. One is that he won the unpopularity contest, not just for this election season, but, at least so far, for all time: a record-breaking seventy-three million Americans, and counting, do not want him to be President any more. On the other hand, he can take some comfort in being the third most-popular Presidential candidate in American history, and the most popular Republican Presidential candidate of all time,  with only Biden this year and Obama in 2008 ahead of him, as the votes of a not-quite record-breaking sixty-nine million, and counting, Americans, attest.That’s eight million more votes than he received in 2016. But Biden, um, scared up the support of eleven million citizens who hadn’t voted in 2016–or should we say Trump scared them up for Biden?

It’s worth noting that the real winner of the election was “neither of the above.” Election turnout is estimated at around 67%, which means that eighty million eligible voters didn’t vote, down from a hundred million in 2016. That’s the base we in The Green Party are attempting to tap into. We’ve got a long way to go. Howie Hawkins received around 330,000 votes, making him a very distant fourth in the Presidential race. Considering the complete media blackout and the big push to hold your nose and vote for Biden, even in “safe” states, that’s actually pretty good, far better than the Green Party did in the years between Ralph Nader and Jill Stein.

Speaking of he Green Party…I just played “Solidarity Forever,” and I have no doubt that, if any Democrats who know me bother to read or listen to this, they are shaking their heads in disgust, saying I’ve got some nerve playing “Solidarity Forever” after stiffing all their arguments, pleas and threats to me to get in their One Big Tent and vote for their candidate. So many other “leftists” and “socialists” did, after all! What’s wrong with me? Am I some kind of privileged purist? Read the rest of this entry »





CURIOUSER AND CURIOUSER

18 10 2020

Last month I concluded with these words:

Survey after survey reveals that the peoples’ wishes are far more radical, and fair, than what our corporate parties are willing to enact. These tensions, and others, are building to a pitch in the US, and I am not the only one who sees our current situation as tending towards a civil war, if not an outright revolution. The November election this year, far more than in most years, is looking more and more like a doorway into unknown territory rather than a solution to the national debate, no matter whether Trump or Biden wins, orif  the outcome is debatable. That’s a complex topic, but I’m out of time for this month. Unless something breathtaking occurs between now and mid-October, let’s take that as the starting point for next month’s show.

Well, here we are, five weeks later, two weeks and a few days ahead of Election Day, and sure enough, yet another black swan has landed, introducing a twist I, and others, are calling “The Republican Party’s Masque of the Red Death.” If you are not familiar with Edgar Allan Poe’s 1842 tale, it’s the story of a prince who, with a large contingent of his uninfected friends, isolates himself while a plague ravages his country. In the midst of a big costume party, an infected individual breaks into the castle and, with incredible stamina, lives long enough to infect, and kill, the prince and all his friends.

Our current version of this tale has two twists–the first being that the plague involved is rarely fatal, although it does seem to come with debilitating long term effects in many cases. The other is that, in our case, it is the prince himself who is infecting his friends, as he tried to bully his way through  a dangerous, highly infectious illness while promoting his Supreme Court nominee, who has exactly three years of judicial experience and who seems to have stepped out of the pages of Margaret Atwood’s A Handmaid’s Tale. She has also already had covid, meaning she is unlikely to be reinfected, but Trump succeeded in infecting enough of the Republicans involved in her nomination process to slow it down, but not to stop it–unless there are further unforeseen developments, of course.

There’s a lot going on here. In the last year of the Obama government, Mitch McConnell, the Republican Senate Majority leader, declined to move forward on Obama Supreme Court nominee Merrick Garland, “because it’s too close to an election.” But, when a Republican President makes a Supreme Court nomination right before an election which it’s starting to look like he could lose, it’s vitally important to damn the torpedoes and ram the nomination through, even knowing that it’s enraging millions of voters (who weren’t going to vote for Trump anyway) and possibly contributing to a Biden victory in November.

The Trump regime’s notably inept handling of the virus in the US has been a world-wide scandal that, unlike many of his violations of common sense, seems to be turning some voters off on him, but his egregious carelessness in infecting members of his own staff and the leadership of the Republican Party  may well have cost him dearly in the eyes of voters. And, win or lose, there is a good chance that he, as an older, overweight, high-blood pressure coronavirus victim, may encounter, according to The Mayo Clinic, “organ damage to the heart, lungs, and/or brain,” “blood clots and blood vessel problems”, and “problems with mood and fatigue.” They warn

Even in young people, COVID-19 can cause strokes, seizures and Guillain-Barre syndrome — a condition that causes temporary paralysis. COVID-19 may also increase the risk of developing Parkinson’s disease and Alzheimer’s disease.

So, our bull elephant of a President is now a wounded bull elephant. If he dies, or becomes obviously incapacitated, and Mike Pence becomes the GOP standard bearer, before or after the election, win or lose, we’re looking at several different uncharted territories. To deal with this, the Democrats have been playing “war games” as part of what they call “The Transition Integrity Project.”  According to Microsoft News, Read the rest of this entry »





On Vote Shaming: 21 Ways Supporting The US Establishment Is Worse Than Voting Third Party

18 10 2020

This is a guest post by Caitlin Johnstone.

The vote-shaming engines have predictably kicked into high gear in America as the presidential election approaches, with shitlib pundits like Bill Maher doing their part to paint third-party voters as the most toxic people in the world.

Which is of course ridiculous. I have no strong opinions about how Americans should vote in November, but it’s obvious that in terms of toxicity third-party voters are not on the list of people who are worthy of criticism. The dire situation humanity now finds itself in under the leadership of the US hegemon is not the fault of a small fringe faction which doesn’t want to support oligarch-coddling ecocidal warmongers, it’s the fault of those who help preserve America’s oligarchic ecocidal warmongering status quo.

Contrary to the stock template lines that establishment spinmeisters are regurgitating to bully the left into submission, here are 21 things which are in fact a lot more crazy, selfish, stupid and privileged than voting third party:

1. Supporting a two-headed one-party system in the most powerful government on earth which has plagued our planet with endless war and ecocide and marched humanity to the brink of extinction.

for the rest of the story, go to





THE EDGEHILL RAID

13 09 2020

After Nashville police pulled a battering ram and rifles raid on the wrong house, allegedly to serve a warrant on a sixteen-year-old for truancy, I sent this letter to all members of the Nashville Metro Council:

A few weeks ago, I wrote to you to encourage you to keep considering the proposals in “The Nashville People’s Budget.” To my great disappointment, I only heard back from two of you. My own district council member, Jonathan Hall, was among those who did not respond.

Now we have the example of the botched raid at Edgehill Apartments, where three male police officers,armed with rifles, knocked down the door of an apartment the person they were searching for hadn’t lived in for about a year. They found the apartment’s current resident lying nude on her couch, and refused to allow her to even so much as put a robe on while they figured out that they had screwed up really badly. We are all very lucky that Ms. Hines didn’t have a hair dryer, TV remote, cell phone, or anything else the officers might have mistaken for a weapon, or we would have a Breonna Taylor-level tragedy on our hands instead of this farce.

What makes it all the more farcical is that they were conducting this raid to serve….a truancy warrant. Three police officers, rifles in hand, first thing in the morning for a TRUANCY WARRANT?? This sounds like something written by Monty Python or Saturday Night Live.

The Edgehill Raid has revealed a lot of embarrassing facets of the Nashville Police Department, but there’s one I want to focus on: It’s an excellent example of what I, and all the others in the “defund the police” movement have been saying–that a great deal of what police officers do would be more appropriately handled by a social worker. A kid who is not showing up for school does not need to be arrested. S/he needs a concerned friend to find out what the problem is, and help fix it to whatever extent it can be fixed. There are a great many reasons why a young person today might feel discouraged about continuing their education. Some of those reasons are structural–there are a lot of Americans alive right now for whom our society doesn’t seem to have much use, and many of them are ill-equipped to find a purpose of their own. However, there are problems that can be fixed, including giving kids a way to deal with societal rejection of “underprivileged” young African-Americans.

Giving somebody an arrest record for not showing up for school is not that kind of help. It pulls young people in the wrong direction by sucking them into the prison system and getting them even more out of synch with society.

I have personal experience with this. When one of my sons, as a teenager in the 80’s, refused to go to school, we were able to hook him up with friends in the construction trades who took him on as an apprentice. He showed talent for the work, and soon became a skilled and sought-after carpenter. My high school dropout son is now worth more than his college graduate father. Would that have happened if he had, instead, been jailed for truancy? I very much doubt it.

So, I hope you will take the lessons of “The Edgehill Raid” into account as you consider how to spend our tax money to insure public safety and social cohesion in the coming years.

Thank you for your service,

Well, this time I got only one response, from Ginny Welsch, the council member who introduced “The Peoples’ Budget” at a Metro Council meeting, where it was voted down. Perhaps there’s a  technical reason or two. When I initially read about this, I was quite sure that “truancy” was listed as the reason for the raid. Truancy, in Tennessee, is a misdemeanor, punishable by a $50/day fine levied on the child’s parents. Nobody goes to jail for truancy–well, a kid might end up in “juvie,” AKA “jail for high school kids,” if s/he’s really persistent about being truant. More inaccurately, when I went back to write this story, the Nashville Scene article I recalled as having used the word “truancy” instead read, “a nonviolent crime,” and other news stories claimed the 16-year old was wanted for a series of car break-ins, caught on surveillance cameras, and that in some of the footage he was carrying what may have been a gun. I asked The Scene’s editor about this, and he said they had never written anything but “a nonviolent crime.” So, maybe a lot of Metro Council members just thought I was flaky and didn’t bother responding. I believe in admitting my errors, so I wrote another letter to Metro Council and said: Read the rest of this entry »





WHEN AN ABSTRACT PRINCIPLE IS MORE IMPORTANT THAN VERY REAL LIVES

13 09 2020

In a social media conversation I was involved in recently, somebody made this comment:

Voting 3rd party is a good way to let marginalized groups know that your abstract principles are more important than their very real lives.

I thought it was B.S. at the time, and said as much, and did my best to reply “on the fly,” as they say. Since it’s a meme I’ve encounter several other times, it seems worth exploring the role “abstract principles” play in politics, as well as the effects they have on everybody’s “very real lives,” whether they are in a “marginalized group,” or one of the marginalizers. So that’s what I’m going to be addressing here.

The Green Party’s “four pillars” are ecological wisdom, social justice, grassroots democracy, and nonviolence. Ourten key values“add to that list “decentralization,” “community-based economics and economic justice,” “feminism and gender equity,””respect for diversity,” “personal and global responsibility,” and “future focus and sustainability.” I suppose you could call these “abstract principles,” but, at a level, that’s what being a political party is about–a group of people agree that, if certain principles were applied to the way societal decisions are made, the results would be an improvement on the current situation. In those places where Greens have governed, mostly in foreign countries, but in a few lucky cities and towns in America, we have done our best to apply these principles, and I think that, by any reasonable standard, the way we have applied our “abstract principles” has improved the “very real lives” of not only “marginalized groups,” but the whole community.

Democrats, and the Republicans as well, also govern by applying an abstract principle. Yes, they share the same principle, although they differ in the details of applying it and the rhetoric with which they surround it. Let’s take a look at what that “abstract principle” is, and how it has affected the lives of not just “marginalized groups,” but most Americans–because here, in late stage capitalism, everybody outside of the top 10% of wealth holders has been, or is about to be, “marginalized.”

The first thing to do, obviously, is name and define the “principle.” Its name is “neoliberalism,” and here’s the beginning of Investopedia‘s fairly extensive definition/discussion:

Neoliberalism is a policy model that encompasses both politics and economics and seeks to transfer the control of economic factors from the public sector to the private sector. Many neoliberalism policies enhance the workings of free market capitalism and attempt to place limits on government spending, government regulation, and public ownership.

Neoliberalism is often associated with the leadership of Margaret Thatcher–the prime minister of the U.K. from 1979 to 1990 and leader of the Conservative Party from 1975 to 1990–and Ronald Reagan, the 40th president of the U.S. (from 1981 to 1989). More recently, neoliberalism has been associated with policies of austerity and attempts to cut government spending on social programs.

I think there’s one qualifier that needs to be added to this definition: neoliberalism likes to place “limits on government spending” in all areas except for military spending. That said, let’s look at how the Democrats and Republicans have applied neoliberal principles to America, and the world, and see what kind of results neoliberal principles have produced for “marginalized people.”

Way back in the nineteen eighties and nineties, in accord with the neoliberal principle of “transferring the control of economic factors from the public sector to the private sector,” the Democrats, led by Joe Biden, changed the way we help college students from a being mostly a grant and government loan program to a private loan program run by for-profit banks, with loans that cannot be renegotiated by declaring bankruptcy. This has sunk a whole generation of college students into a lifetime of debt, leaving them unable to buy houses and making it difficult for them to marry and raise children. For what reason? As Joe Biden said at the time, Read the rest of this entry »








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