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 »





COME YE AMATEURS OF WAR

12 01 2020

I want to start with The Green Party’s official press release about the murder of  Iranian Major General Qassim Soleimani.

Greens joined demonstrations in at least 80 cities in 38 states over the weekend in response to the assassination of Iranian Major General Qassim Suleimani on Iraqi soil, which the Green Party has called an act of war and an unconscionable escalation of hostilities in a region where the U.S. has already wreaked immense devastation over decades.

Lisa Savage, seeking the U S Senate seat from Maine and Bruce Gagnon, Coordinator Global Network Against Weapons & Nuclear Power in Space, spoke at a demonstration on Saturday in Portland, ME.

“U.S. military aggression serves war profiteers, not the people,” said Savage in a recent statement. “We cannot bomb our way to a peaceful resolution of the conflict zone our nation has created in Iraq, nor is deliberately provoking Iran in our best interests as a nation. Diplomacy and the restoration of congressional authority over the president’s use of the U.S. military are urgently needed. We need senators and congresspeople willing to stand up to the Pentagon and the executive branch of government to say no to more warmongering.”

Suspicion among peace advocates that the drone attack was designed to move Iran, Iraq and the U.S. even further to the brink of all-out war has since been borne out by President Trump’s abhorrent threat to destroy Iranian sites that are “important to Iranian culture.”

Greens are also alarmed by reports that the Department of Homeland Security has ordered Customs and Border Protection to “’report’ and detain anyone with Iranian heritage entering the country who is deemed potentially suspicious or ‘adversarial,’ regardless of citizenship status” (source: Council on American-Islamic Relations).

Several state Green Parties also issued statements and calls to action.

The Green Party categorically opposes measures ‘authorizing’ preemptive or illegal military actions, or delegating to the president sole power to commit acts of war. Greens have called for the repeal of the Authorization for Use of Military Force (AUMF) 2001 to restrict the president’s ability to direct more attacks.

A great deal has already been written about this, much of it pure dissembling. The Democrats are outraged, not so much about the murder and the effects it is likely to have, as about the fact that they weren’t consulted first. Only few deeply principled Dems have denounced it wholeheartedly–Bernie Sanders and his deputy Ro Khanna, Tulsi Gabbard, Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez, and Ilhan Omar, mostly. Some of the more libertarian Republican–Mike Lee and Rand Paul, f’rinstance–are also not pleased.

Corporate media have mostly framed Soleimani as a “terrorist with blood on his hands,” conveniently ignoring the fact that part of the job description for “general” is “being wiling to get ‘blood on your hands’ by ordering the soldiers under your command to risk their deaths in order to kill other people.” Every general in the world–Iranian, American, wherever, has blood on his, or, these days, her hands, or at least has indicated a willingness to do so. Disparaging a general for having “blood on his hands” is like criticizing a farmer for having dirt under hir fingernails. It comes with the territory.

Generals are willing to “get blood on their hands,” but generally recognize that it’s better not to–it’s better to outmanoeuvre your  opponent, and better still to find a way to make peace. That, in fact, is what Soleimani was doing in Iraq on the day he was murdered. According to the Prime Minister of Iraq, Soleimani was on his way to meet with him about getting together with the Saudis and de-escalating tensions in the region, and the US government knew it–in other words, all those top US government officials who are braying that Soleimani was “planning the deaths of more Americans” are either lying, or haven’t done their homework. The US has given the rest of the world yet another in the long list of reasons not to trust Uncle Sam.

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:

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JOE BIDEN AND ME

11 08 2019

in his own write….

I have a confession to make. While I’ve been a very faithful Green Party supporter for nearly twenty years, if by some fluke Bernie Sanders became the Democratic nominee, I would almost certainly vote for him, just in an effort to widen the scope of permissible political discourse in this country. But it looks like it’s not going to be Bernie, but Joe Biden. Sorry, Joe, the answer’s no.

“What? Not even to get Trump out of office? How could you?”

Why won’t I, under any circumstances, support Joe Biden as a Presidential candidate?  Because he has championed numerous laws and policies that have had a direct negative effect on me, my family, and my friends. Let me count the ways:

Biden supported the drug war and mandatory minimum sentencing that entrapped, imprisoned, and impoverished several of my best friends–not to mention my oldest son–for victimless crimes involving substances that are now recognized as harmless, valuable sources of healing, and are, in many cases, completely legal. And then there’s the crack-cocaine sentencing disparity, also his baby. I’m grateful nobody in my family has gotten mixed up with cocaine, and I don’t know that I know anybody who was directly affected by this law, which amounted to legislated discrimination against lower-class African-Americans, but just because I don’t know any of Joe’s victims for this one doesn’t mean I’m giving him a pass on it.

Biden was one of the leaders of the drive to switch from grants to loans for students, admitting that he was doing this to enrich the banking industry, ensnaring a huge number of young people in this country (including another of my children and my son-in-law)) in debt peonage that hobbles every aspect of their lives, from their ability to buy homes and start families to their ability to embark on projects that are exciting and creative, but not necessarily remunerative, like working for social change. Joe Biden made sure that student debt, unlike any other debt, cannot be erased by bankruptcy. That, and the high level of debt a young person must take on to get a college degree, are what I mean by debt peonage.  Yeah, I think that the unspoken motive behind what Joe did was the establishment’s desire to choke off the counterculture. In fact, he even spoke it.  Here are Biden’s exact words:

“We’ve got to make education a profit center for the banks. Our purpose is not to educate the population, it’s to create a situation where in order to get a job, in order to get a union card, they have to go into a lifetime of debt to the banks that cannot be wiped out by bankruptcy.”

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“MAKING THE ECONOMY SCREAM” IN VENEZUELA

10 02 2019

“We’re going to make their economy scream.”

Richard Nixon, on US plans to overthrow the government of Chilean President Salvador Allende in the early  1970’s

I am outraged about the way the US is treating Venezuela, a country whose worst crime seems to be spending its oil revenue to elevate the living standards of its poorest people, instead of feeding an oligarchy like The Great God Mammon intended.

Nicolas Maduro, and “the Bolivarian Revolution,” are just a few steps to the left of Bernie Sanders, and yet we have a bipartisan effort to overthrow them. Sanderistas, and all you other “Democratic Socialists,” please note: this is what Schumer and Pelosi really think of you.

Democrats who have fulminated for two years about “covert Russian meddling” in the US and styled themselves “the Resistance” to Pres. Turnip’s hard right agenda for the US have no problem openly colluding with a radical right politician in Venezuela, overtly sending him millions of dollars, confiscating Venezuelan state assets in the US and turning them over to this self-proclaimed, not particularly popular, “President” and US puppet, and coordinating a de-legitimization campaign against the legally, and honestly, elected government of a sovereign nation that, oh horrors, has been forthright in its criticism of US foreign policy, and, in the face of US sanctions, started selling its oil for Chinese yuan instead of American petrodollars.

Gee, I seem to remember, back during the Democratic primary debates, that Ms. Clinton accused Bernie Sanders of “supporting the overthrow of the legally constituted governments of Cuba and Nicaragua.” Apparently, she and the rest of her wing of the Democratic Party think it’s not OK to do that to legally constituted, highly oligarchic, US boot-licking dictatorships, like the Batista and Somoza regimes that once ruled over Cuba and Nicaragua. But hey, if it’s a legitimately elected, broadly popular socialist government, as in Venezuela or modern Nicaragua, or even faintly populist, like the unfortunate Mr. Zelaya in Honduras, why, go right ahead and kill it before it spreads. “Kill” is not a metaphor here. I’m assuming that’s why Elliot Abrams has been made the US government’s point man on Venezuela. He has shown no hesitation in his willingness to kill the poor in order to save the rich.

 

And saving the rich is definitely what is happening in Venezuela. The
“anti-government uprising” is largely a revolt of the middle- and upper classes, who have seen their standard of living slip as Chavez, and now Maduro,  do what they can to help the poorest members of Venezuelan society. And make no mistake about it–the upper classes in Venezuela are more European, i.e., whiter, than the lower classes, and despise Maduro and his predecessor Hugo Chavez as “black Indians,” whose rule they resent the same way some white Americans couldn’t abide having even a lackey of the corporate system like Barack Obama as US President, because he was black. The reaction against Maduro is flat-out racist.

We Greens get a certain amount of pushback from people who think we ought to work within the Democratic Party. The Democrats’ hypocrisy around this Venezuela caper is a prime example of the kind of conduct we Greens are unwilling to tolerate. The Green Party rejects the Democrats’ hypocrisy of claiming to be opposed to racism at home, while supporting what amounts to white supremacy in Venezuela (and Palestine, too–but that’s a whole other subject.) We are an anti-imperialist party as well as an anti-capitalist party, and the Democrats’ willingness to join with the Republicans in bullying Venezuela is imperialism pure and simple–not to mention that the US government is clearly stating its intention to turn Venezuelan oil production, now managed by a mostly state owned company, over to multinational, um, “oiligarchs.” The Green Party is about freeing this country from oil addiction, while the Democrats are happy to mug one of our neighbors to make sure our oil fixes keep on coming.

I want to include a few caveats here. The first is that I, and most other supporters of Venezuela, don’t necessarily agree with every detail of their overall plan, and also can see ways in which the country’s rulers have not done a good job, even by their own standards. Nevertheless, I am broadly supportive of their intentions, which are, to quote Professor Greg Albo,

(to) deepen.. democratic proceduralism, indigenous and human rights and citizen initiatives. But it also embraced an alternate economic model in linking participatory democracy with cooperatives and worker self-management.

That’s exactly what The Green Party is about, and it’s also the program on which Bernie Sanders rose to prominence. So, when I said that those in control of the Democratic Party are willing to kill to stop democratic socialism, I think my concern is well-founded. I hope that adds to your understanding of why Greens cannot be Democrats.

The second caveat is that, of course there is corruption in Venezuela. The Bolivarian Revolution was, and remains, a political movement which pays little attention to psychological transformation. When you try to make change happen merely by passing laws, anyone who is more or less governed by the flaws in their personality–greed, jealousy, desire, selfishness, for example–will continue to do whatever they can to work the system for their personal advantage, especially when it is clear that the system is being stressed by outside parties, like the US, who want to destroy it, and that makes peoples’ lives difficult and uncertain.

The third caveat is that, from my point of view, the worst crime Venezuela has committed has been to extract all that oil….the same crime that the US, Canada, Saudi Arabia, Russia, and a whole lot of other countries are committing….but who’s gonna bell that cat? You can be sure our government has no intention of shutting down Venezuelan oil production for good. The administration has said outright that it intends to turn Venezuelan oil production over to US oil companies.

But of course, it’s not entirely about oil. Our government has also announced that Venezuela is just the first domino–they plan to go after largely oil-free Nicaragua and Cuba next–can Bolivia, Mexico, Uruguay, and any other non-submissive Western Hemisphere governments that remain be far behind? If a New Democrat-Green coalition takes over the government of Canada, will the US invade? Will British Prime Minister Theresa May negotiate the surrender of the Maduro government, and, on her return to England, tell the press that she believes her actions have brought “peace in our time”?

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PAY NO ATTENTION TO THE OLIGARCH(S) BEHIND THE CURTAIN

17 06 2018

In 2014, a pair of highly respected political scientists at Princeton and Northwestern Universities jointly researched and published a study on the influence of the extremely wealthy in American politics, which confirmed what a great many of us political activists knew in our guts: the United States is an oligarchy, a country whose political process is controlled by, and largely benefits, the wealthiest Americans, be they flesh-and-blood or corporate persons, or whether they are American or Saudi citizens. It was kind of a “duh” moment for most of us. It’s been obvious for decades that corporate capture of our government is fairly, or should I say unfairly, all-encompassing.  It takes money to win elections, and the corporate sector’s ability to accumulate money, and use the power of that money to change the laws and enable them to accumulate even more money and exert even more influence just keeps growing, like the balance on your credit card debt. As I said last month, accumulating money tends to be extremely addictive.

Another way the corporations have sought to consolidate their hold on the country is through ownership of our news media. All those big corporations that advertise on TV? Those ads are like the brand on a cow, telling the world “we own and control this station.”

And then, there’s the “brands” they advertise. Brands of cars, or beer, or whatever, are a little different from brands on cows. The difference is, the cow brand is seared onto the cow, while the product brand is seared into your mind, if you are exposed to it often enough. But I digress….  When the news sources most readily available to the average citizen spout nothing but approval for the corporate agenda even though they may report critically on some of the effects of the corporate agenda, but never question the validity of that agenda, it becomes difficult for those average citizens to imagine that there might be any more equitable alternatives. You know, like what the US says North Korea does to its people.

I discovered an example of concealed corporate propaganda while researching this story. One of the articles that showed up near the top of the list when I did a search on “Princeton oligarchy study” was on Vox, claiming to rebut the Princeton study. I read the Vox story carefully, and noted that it seemed to kind of nibble around the edges of what the Princeton-Northwestern study had claimed, seemed to use its statistics somewhat disingenuously, and it ignored the voluminous real-world evidence that corroborates the Princeton statistical study. I recalled that Vox is part of the same media conglomerate that puts out Daily Kos. This conglomerate, with its many faces, is widely regarded as the voice of the corporate Democratic Party, and one of those “reliable sources” frequently recommended by those who caution us against the kind of “fake news” that does question the validity of corporatism and/or advocate serious alternatives, like cooperative democratic socialism, AKA The Green Party, among others. That Vox should be so eager to rebut the reality of American oligarchy only emphasizes what I have to say in this post. Read the rest of this entry »








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