DEMOLITION DERBY

8 03 2020

note the position/condition of the blue vehicle….this is the first thing hat came up on a search for “demolition derby pictures”! How’s that for synchronicity?

So…here we are, watching the dust settle from “super Tuesday,” the latest episode in the Democratic Party’s demolition derby, which, to use the notorious Russian doll analogy, is nested inside the American empire’s foreign and domestic demolition derbies, which are nested inside the worldwide neoliberal economic demolition derby, which is nested inside the worldwide fossil  fuel-burning demolition derby….and, inside the Democratic Party’s demolition derby, we find the Sanders campaign’s own demolition derby, in which Bernie basically buys in to the “Russian asset” smears against him and, under pressure from corporate Democrats,  gradually retreats from the radical, innovative programs and views that have made him, it seems, the last great hope for a decent future for America. and the world.

With a great deal of support from African Americans, whom he has voted to imprison and impoverish in large numbers, Joe Biden racked up a significant number of delegates from the southern US, states he is unlikely to carry in a general election. He also scored a big win in Virginia, whose Democratic voters include a large segment of the anti-Bernie privileged class that infest the Washington, DC, area, and, mysteriously, he, not Bernie, carried the liberal crown jewels of the eastern US, Massachusetts and Minnesota. How many of these wins were due to the Democratic Party’s “It’s our primary and we’ll cheat if we want to” attitude? How many were due to actual voter choice? And how many of those voters were swayed by the “Putin wants Bernie” nonsense that was loudly unleashed shortly before the election, followed by the faint admission that “we don’t actually have any evidence of that”? It will take an investigative reporter with more resources and time than I have available to sort that out. In any case, it is much more likely now that Biden and not Sanders will be the Democratic nominee.

Biden already has three strikes against him with the voting public. The first is his record, which reveals that he has, as one wag put it, supported nearly every bad law and government policy of the last forty years–the same policies that Obama, and then Ms. Clinton ran on. In Obama’s case, they turned the electorate so sour on the Democrats that the party lost nearly a thousand political seats of various kinds to the Republicans over the course of Obama’s Presidency. In Ms. Clinton’s case, running on “more of what Obama did” was enough to cause around eight million Obama voters to switch to Trump, so that she lost what was supposed to be a shoo-in election. Do the Democrats think those voters are now disgusted enough with Trump to return to the Democratic fold in spite of there being no change? I wouldn’t bet on it.

The second factor about Biden is that he seems to be deeper into dementia as Reagan was by the time he  left office. He sometimes seems to think he is running for a Senate seat, forgets what state he’s in, and babbles nonsense. I have a feeling that a Biden-Trump debate will be a lot like a debate between a cat and a mouse, with Biden as the mouse. Then, when Biden loses the election, the Democrats will blame everybody who couldn’t muster up any enthusiasm for this mockery of a candidate, and, probably, the Russians for inspiring people to say bad things about him. The Democrats seem to have adopted the line that any criticism of their pathetic “resistance” to Trump is a defence of Trump. That is not a good sign, either for their viability as a party or for the future of free speech in this country should they get back in power.

The third factor is his tendency to lie about his record. He was drummed out of the 1988 Democratic Presidential race for demonstrably, and repeatedly, making things up, and he hasn’t gotten any more honest in the last 32 years.

And, if by some miracle Biden does beat Trump, it won’t make a significant difference in any of the ongoing demolition derbies I started out talking about. Democrats will feel even more self-righteous, Republicans will be angrier, but the destruction of our economy, our culture, our country, and our planet will proceed apace. Well, it will make a difference in our government, which will make sympathetic clucking noises about the destruction it is causing instead of saying “Nyah, nyah! You deserve it!” as the Republicans tend to do.

I have to note that a great deal of this confusion is due to America’s apparently iron-clad two party system, which makes it difficult for any party other than the two basically similar, corporate-friendly D’s and R’s to get on the ballot not to mention in the pubic eye. In a recent case in Maine, the changes made by the corporate parties to ballot access laws made it “all but impossible” for  a Green Party candidate to get on the ballot as a Green, so she is running as an “independent” instead. In The Soviet Union, there was one party, and all other options besides the Russian “state capitalism” view of communism were off the table. Here, it’s private capitalism that rules, and our “choice” is limited to choosing between a party that gives preference to white, heterosexual, Judeo-Christian male servants of the empire, and a party that is fine with people of any color, sexual preference, or sexual identity–as long as they are willing to serve the empire. Ending the empire, which is the core of the Green project, is off the Democrats’ table.

I want to spend the rest of this hour revisiting a story I covered a year and a half ago, which I think is important enough to bear repeating. I call it

TRUMP, LOOSE NUKES, THE RUSSIAN MAFIA, SEYMOUR HERSH, AND THE MYSTERY OF THE MISSING LINK





TAKE YOUR GREENSHAMING AND SHOVE IT!

9 02 2020

Once again, we Greens are being told that “the stakes are too high” for us to risk “spoiling the election for the Democrats.” Progressive activist Michael Albert wrote an “open letter to Howie Hawkins and The Green Party,” asking us not to get in the Democrats’ way, and then got a number of other writers and activists to sign on to it, including luminaries Barbara Eherenreich and Noam Chomsky. Hawkins wrote an impressive, eloquent, detailed response. Here’s my two cents on the question. It’s an expanded version of the response I submitted to Truthdig, one of the sites that published Michael Albert’s letter.

This article displays such ignorance of the facts of the matter, from the vote results to the Green Party’s strategy, and so blithely accepts the US media/electoral system as if fair, that I am surprised and disappointed that Prof Chomsky and Ms. Ehrenreich, both of whom I hold in the highest respect, would put their names to it.

In his letter, Albert accuses the Greens of depriving Ms. Clinton of the votes she needed to win the election. Let’s look at the numbers: in 2016, just under a million and a half people voted Green. Approximately seven million people switched from voting for Obama to voting for Trump, and ninety million potential voters stayed home. Even more stayed home in the 2018 midterms. To focus on the one and a half million out of that ninety-eight million who voted for the kind of radical change this country needs, as the ones bearing the onus for the Democrats’ loss, is a peculiarly biased way to write recent history. The Democrats spent a billion dollars in their effort to elect Ms. Clinton. We Greens spent three million on the Stein campaign, which may sound like a lot but is 0.3% of what the Democrats spent. And somehow their loss is our fault? That’s right up there with a few amateurish clickbait ads from a Russian source being the problem. In other words, The Greens are not the Democrats’ problem. (Howie Hawkins wrote an article by that title, but I didn’t know it when I wrote that sentence.)

Albert’s letter repeats the readily-refuted canard that “the number of people who voted for Jill Stein in Pennsylvania, Wisconsin, and Michigan would have given Hillary a win in those states if they had voted for her.” In Pennsylvania, 50,000 voters chose Jill Stein, while nearly four million didn’t vote at all. In Wisconsin, 31,000 voted for Stein and nearly a million and a half stayed home. In Michigan, 51,000 voted Green and about 2.75 million stayed home. In the face of such massive voter indifference, the Biblical phrase “straining out gnats and swallowing camels” comes to mind. The camel, in this case, is that in all of these states, and a great many others, more people declined to vote than voted for the “winning” candidate. The message here, I think, is that our established political parties each inspire only about a quarter of the voters, leaving a large plurality of the voting public feeling unrepresented. Something is missing from our political spectrum, and to attempt to suppress those who are trying to advocate for the missing ideas is to miss the point. Perhaps those who are deeply committed Democrats or Republicans are not missing the point so much as refusing to acknowledge it. Read the rest of this entry »





A LOOK AT THE GREEN PARTY’S PRESIDENTIAL CANDIDATES

9 02 2020

There are seven people seeking the Green Party Presidential nomination in 2020. Their names are Sedinam Moyowasiza-Curry, Howie Hawkins, Dario Hunter, Dennis Lambert, David Rolde, Ian Schlakman and Chad Wilson. Sorry, Hillary, neither Jill Stein nor Tulsi Gabbard is among them, and, obviously, neither is Jesse Ventura. Not only that, none of these “big name” candidates could join the race at this point, because the nominating process has a long timeline, and the deadline for seeking the nomination has passed.

The links on the names I just mentioned lead to the candidates’ web pages. All but one of them has also responded to a questionnaire from the national Green Party, and the information I’m presenting you will be drawn from those sources. I’m going to go through the list alphabetically.

We’ll start with Ms. Sedinam Kinamo Christin Moyowasifza- Curry, who is the only woman in the running. She doesn’t say much about herself on the questionnaire, but in a video interview mentions that she was born and raised in “South-Central,” the Los Angeles ghetto, and is the sixteenth of her father’s twenty children. She has been “a card-carrying member of The Green Party for eighteen years.” She, like many of the other candidates, is an embodiment of the party’s grass-roots organizing efforts.

Howie Hawkins‘ questionnaire bio states:

I became active in “The Movement” for civil rights and against the Vietnam War in the 1960s as a teenager in the San Francisco Bay Area. Repelled by the racism and warmongering of both major parties, I committed to independent working-class politics for a democratic, socialist, and ecological society. Outside of electoral politics, I have been a constant organizer in peace, justice, union, and environmental campaigns. When my draft number was called in 1972, I enlisted in the Marine Corps while continuing to organize against the Vietnam War. After studying at Dartmouth College, I worked in construction in New England in the 1970s and 1980s. I was a co-founder of the anti-nuclear Clamshell Alliance in 1976, active in the anti-apartheid movement, and helped develop worker and consumer cooperatives. I have continued organizing in Syracuse since 1991, where I worked as a Teamster unloading trucks at UPS until retiring in2018.

That’s quite an impressive history. One qualm I have about Hawkins is that, in some ways, he seems to buy in to the Russiagate fraud, as revealed in this video interview, in which he says he generally doesn’t trust the Russians and thinks the notorious Stein-Putin dinner table photo was a setup. Shortly after that interview, however, he clarified his position in an essay that begins: Read the rest of this entry »





THE IMPEACHMENT SPECTACLE CONTINUES

8 12 2019

I said in last month’s show that the “tree of possibilities” stemming from the impeachment effort was more complex than I had time for in that particular program. Since then, I have found an excellent expression of it at one of my favorite news blogs, “Moon of Alabama,” and I’m going to take the liberty of quoting that blog and offering my comments on what Moon’s author has written.

Here’s some of what “Mr. Moon” wrote:

If more Democratic swing-state representatives defect from the impeachment camp, which seems likely, House Speaker Nancy Pelosi will have a big problem. How can she proceed?

  • If the House votes down impeachment Donald Trump wins.
  • If the House holds no vote on the issue Donald Trump wins.
  • If the House votes for censure Donald Trump will have won on points and the issue will be over.
  • If the House votes for impeachment the case goes to the Senate for trial.

The Republican led Senate has two choices:

  • It can decide to not open an impeachment trial by simply voting against impeachment. Trump wins.
  • It can open an impeachment trial, use it to extensively hurt the Democrats and, in the end, vote against impeachment. Trump wins big time.

Should the House vote for impeachment the Senate is likely to go the second path.

During impeachment the whole Senate sits as the High Court. The House of Representatives sends ‘managers’ who act as prosecutors. The chief justice of the U.S. presides. A vote for impeachment at the end of the trial requires a two-thirds majority.

The Republican majority in the Senate could use such a trial to bring disarray into the Democrats’ primary. Elizabeth Warren, Bernie Sanders, Kamala Harris, Cory Booker, Amy Klobuchar and Michael Bennet are all senators and Democratic primary candidates. They would probably have to stop campaigning to attend the trials. Another leading Democratic candidate would be a top witness.

The Republican senators would immediately call up a number of people for questioning. These would include Joe Biden, Hunter Biden, his business partner Devon Archer, John Kerry who was Secretary of State when Biden intervened for Burisma owner Mykola Zlochevsky and of course the CIA spy and (not-)whistleblower Erik Ciaramella. It would also be of interest to hear how deeply the former CIA director John Brennan was involved in the issue.

The Senators could use the impeachment trial to dig into all the crimes the Democrats under Obama committed in Ukraine. They would concentrate not on the Maidan coup but on the aftermath when the deals were made. There surely is a lot of dirt out there and it is not only Joe Biden’s.

Then there is Russiagate. Did the Obama administration use illegal means to spy on the Trump campaign? Sincethe issue is related to whatever Trump did there, there is good reason to include it into the trial.

The circus the Senate would open if the House votes for impeachment would play for many many months. The media would be full of this or that crime some Democrat or deep state actor supposedly committed. All this would play out during the election season.

An impeachment trial in the Senate would be a disaster for the Democrats.

I can not see why the Democrats would want to fall into such a trap. House leader Nancy Pelosi is experienced enough to not let that happen. But she will have to do some serious talking to convince the party that a vote on impeachment is not the best way to proceed.

In the week and a half since this was written, Ms. Pelosi has made the decision to go ahead with impeachment. This may turn out to be the equivalent of General Custer deciding that he had what it took to wipe out that Native American encampment on Little Big Horn Creek. Read the rest of this entry »





WHY IS ANYBODY STILL LISTENING TO HILLARY CLINTON?

10 11 2019

billy-butcher-trump-clinton-pop-characters-5

Hillary Clinton made big news this month when she accused Rep. Tulsi Gabbard and former Green Party Presidential candidate Dr. Jill Stein of being. “Russian assets.” Let’s unpack that statement.

“Assets” has a specific meaning in “intelligence” circles. An asset is a person who is knowingly taking payment from an intelligence service in exchange for providing information or doing other services for that agency.

Rep. Gabbard is a Major in the US Army Reserve. If she is taking money from the Russians, Ms. Clinton is charging her with treason. Considering the wide publicity her accusation received, and considering the high improbability that there is any truth to it, the smear is potentially libelous. Libel, according to a legal dictionary I consulted, is

Read the rest of this entry »





SIX WAYS FROM SUNDAY

10 11 2019

bigbrother

“Let me tell you, you take on the intelligence community, they have six ways from Sunday at getting back at you,”

That’s what Chuck Schumer said to Rachel Maddow shortly before Trump’s inauguration. Now, after the false dawn of the Mueller investigation, that Sunday appears to be arriving for Donald Trump.

As near as I and the plague-on-both-their houses commentators I read can figure, if Trump did what the Democrats say he did, then they’ve got him dead to rights. There is, however, some wiggle room on whether he did what the Democrats, and various “witnesses,” many of whom have axes to grind, say he did.

“Axes to grind” are definitely at work here. The “whistleblower” who reported on Trump’s conversation with Ukrainian President Vlodimir Zelensky is a CIA officer who previously worked in The White House during the Obama administration, and who is strongly opposed to Trump. Facebook and Youtube are censoring posts and videos that use his name. That’s an interesting contrast to the way other whistleblowers, who revealed things the corporate media and our security services did not want revealed, have been treated. Who, or what, will be censored next?

Moreover, there are fairly reliable reports (Note to readers: this is not the kind of website I would necessarily trust for information, but I trust the individual writing this piece, and trust the source that referred me to him.) that the CIA had a secret task force, established by John Brennan,for  the purpose of taking down Donald Trump. That’s why Schumer’s “six ways to Sunday” quote is relevant here. I am not a fan of Donald Trump, but I think that having him removed through the machinations of a secret “intelligence services” task force is even more dangerous than Trump. If they can do it to him, what’s to stop them from doing to Bernie Sanders or Elizabeth Warren?

Beyond that, the impeachment story raises some simple questions with very interesting answers. Those questions are:

Read the rest of this entry »





NASHVILLE ELECTION REFLECTIONS

11 10 2019

Twenty-one percent of Nashville’s voters turned out on September 12th, meaning that John Cooper’s “landslide victory” over David Briley boils down to 15% of our adult citizens choosing Cooper, while only six percent of the city’s voters preferred Briley. The initial round of voting produced a 24% turnout rate, enough of a decline to demonstrate the advantage of ranked-choice voting, but still such a light turnout that, if all of those who didn’t vote could have weighed in as  “abstaining,” or voted for “neither of the above,” the election could have been declared null and void. But the threshold for election is not 50% of all potential voters, it’s a majority of the actual voters, and so John Cooper, “the choice of 15% of Nashville,” is now our mayor. I’ll have more to say about him a little later.

Why is there such a marked lack of interest in local government? Is it because most people presume that, no matter who is officially in charge, things will remain about the same? That’s a dangerous presumption to make as climate chaos increases and resource depletion and economic collapse loom on the horizon. I once approached an intelligent, innovative, outspoken member of Metro Council, and told her I’d like to see her run for mayor. Her response was, “Got a million dollars? Cos’ that’s what it takes to run for mayor in this town.” She is no longer involved in Metro politics. This election certainly proved her point. Both Briley and Cooper are members of the millionaires’ club. “Who wants to be ruled by a millionaire?” You could call that the “reality show” we’re involved in, like it or not .The drawback to this arrangement is that millionaires, almost no matter how hard they try, are going to have difficulty relating to the kind of problems the rest of us face, and consequently will have difficulty coming up with ideas that speak to the needs of the rest of us.

We need radical change, because it’s well documented by now that “business as usual” is going to get us all killed. On the other hand, it’s difficult for the elite of Nashville, or the elite anywhere, to conceive of anything but the “business as usual” that has made them wealthy and keeps them wealthy. Beyond our ruling class’s limited vision, adherence to “business as usual” here in Tennessee is enforced by our micromanaging state legislature, which seems determined to smother any rising progressive tendencies anywhere in the state.  I should mention that our state government, like our mayor and metro council, are elected by a minority of the state’s voters. In other words, Tennessee is a “red state” not not because a majority of its citizens vote Republican, but because the Democrats are so uninspiring, and the two corporate parties have such a lock on ballot access, and media access, that trying to get a third party going in this state is a truly Sisyphean task. As I’ve chronicled here, we Greens have tried,failed,  and, frankly, all but worn ourselves out in the process. I think we might properly refer to the phase our country is in these days as “the twilight of democracy.” Some people would disagree with me, I’m sure, saying that the sun set long ago on American democracy. I think they have a point. Not just in Tennessee, but nationally, the two corporate-friendly political parties  have, um, “colluded” with our corporate owned and consequently corporate-friendly media to exclude everyone but themselves from the levers of power, even as their support dwindles. Need I remind you that, nationwide, turnout in the 2016 election was 55-60%, depending on how you count it, and around 50% in 2018?  It was less than that here in Tennessee. That means that, in 2016, about 40% of the adult public didn’t care whether Trump or Clinton became President, and then, in 2018, after two years of Trump showing how dangerous he is and the Democrats showing how ineffectual they are at opposing him, even fewer voters thought the Democrats were an alternative worth voting for. When half the adult population sits out the election, the problem we have is not about how easy, or difficult, it is to vote. The problem is that neither party inspires the voting public. Sure, the Republicans were running on a program of brute corporate domination, but all the Democrats had to offer was kinder, gentler corporate domination. Apparently, about half of our voting population is savvy enough to say, “Neither of the above, thank you!”

If only we could get them to vote Green…..

I think that what I just laid out also also explains why, over the last seventy years, political power has pretty reliably flipped from one party to the other every eight years, as well as why Nashvillians, to the extent that we cared at all, dumped Briley and elected Cooper. Read the rest of this entry »








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