Sunday, December 4, 2016

He Showed That It Was Possible

As the world continues to mourn the passing of Fidel Castro, one of the most admired and respected men of the modern era everywhere in the world except the USA, Cuban President Raul Castro gave the eulogy for his brother on Saturday in Santiago de Cuba, the town on the southern Cuban coast where the revolution they led began that brought socialism to Cuba and freed its people from the iron hand of US colonialism.

Raul's message was that Fidel showed that it's possible. If your will is strong and your idealism is unwavering you can teach everyone to read, combat racism, have the best health care system in the world and have it serve everyone, have an infant mortality rate that's better than countries ten times as wealthy. The list went on and on. Fidel, he said, showed that it's possible to build socialism even as the most powerful imperial power in history is trying to destroy you.

"He showed that it was possible," Raul said, "that it can be done and that it will be possible to overcome any obstacle, threat or turbulence in our firm purpose to build socialism in Cuba."


Wednesday, November 30, 2016

Indian Land And A Disgruntled Reader

A couple things. One, about that Dakota pipeline, the people there, the Sioux, say that pipeline was originally supposed to go through Bismark, ND, but the white people there didn't want it potentially messing up their water so it wasn't put there.

So what happened was, the army corp engineers and the pipeline company decided to put it through Indian land thinking there's nothing the Indians can do about it, unlike the white people in Bismark. It's pure and simple racism.

Meanwhile the police are out there at the pipeline site enforcing the Capitalists' profits and their right to ruin someone else's land like a private mafia and we're paying for and I've heard nothing about Bismark in the mainstream media, which is covering that after a fashion, which must be why Martin Heinrich decided to send me a mass fundraising email today that says nothing about Bismark either and basically says, whichever side you're on in that issue, I'm fighting hard for you.

He writes:

"There is a way to respect the Standing Rock Sioux and those that care deeply about these important resources, but setting a high stakes showdown with protesters is only going to create more provocation and violence."

"These important resources" is telling. What he's saying, if you read carefully, is that the people who own the rights to the "resources" have to be shown "respect". I.e., their right to profit from oil must be respected.

By all means. Glad you're on a side, senator.

He never says what should be done but wants you to sign his petition calling on the president to do something. I've read that those petitions never get delivered anywhere but are used for data collection by the professional fundraising companies these politicians hire.

Also, I've been criticized in a comment for being mean and venomous. I didn't publish it. I recently changed the blog so I have to approve of or "moderate" comments before I publish them to end being harassed by this same person.

I can tell you that as far as I know I've only been mean and venomous with people I have a history with and who have doublecrossed me in some way or in some other way conducted themselves like an asshole, and with whom I've run out of patience. I guess you can argue that I shouldn't be mean and vile to them on the blog. Go ahead, I don't care. But if you want the reason that's why.

Anyone who knows me knows I'm a pretty generous person and free with my compliments on what people say on their blogs, but if you say you're going to do something for me and then when it's time to do it ignore my emails and don't answer my phone calls and leave me in a serious lurch, or if you come after me and constantly act like some self absorbed asshole who's always trying to repair your own injured little ego at my expense, you're probably going to hear something from me eventually.

My motto is, I give no shit and I take none.

Sunday, November 27, 2016

Fidel Plus One

I'm still, of course, mourning the death of Fidel, not made any easier by the venom and hatred toward him that's coming, exclusively, from the United States that land of the Venal and Home of the Hateful. A country that, despite being opened up to the entire world and world of ideas by the internet is still a pretty self referential, brainwashed place. As Benjamin Dixon said in response to a particularly vile and hateful comment about Fidel from the uniquely vile and hateful Ted Cruz, the depth of American discourse is this: "America good. Capitalism good. Castro bad. Anything other than laissez faire Capitalism bad."

Or as I put it in a little meme I made up with two photos of Fidel, in one joking around with Mohamed Ali and another with Nelson Mandela, "The insignificant and soon to be forgotten have all hated Fidel. The historic figures of our time, the moral giants, have all loved him."

Of course the immense contradiction in that never dawns on Americans who hold up people like Mandela and Ali as moral giants and disrespect the man who was respected by them.

And the fact that Fidel has always been admired worldwide has little to do with what actually became of the Cuban Revolution, about which there can be at least some legitimate debate as long as you take into account things like the suffocating 50 year US embargo, the repeated and continual attempts by the US to assassinate Fidel, and the actual accomplishments, in spite of those hindrances, of the Cuban Revolution, like universal free education through college and universal free healthcare, which the richest Capitalist country ever can't manage to provide for its own citizens.

No, Fidel was admired in large because he stood up to imperialism and colonialism, not just against Cuba but wherever it was taking place. He' s a towering historic figure and an inspiration to millions because he stood up to El Norte, the US, which never ceased to be infuriated by him from the moment he kicked it and its whoremongering and mafioso lackeys out of Cuba and then tried to make Cuba into a place where everyone benefited from the national wealth. In other words, the opposite of the US. The US ruling elite couldn't countenance an example of what it should be doing on its very border, while it never ceased to demonstrate astounding hypocrisy by fawning over and supporting regimes 10,000 times worse than anything that ever happened in Cuba, like Saudi Arabia to take just one which beheads and cuts the hands off its own people and where women aren't permitted to drive a car, or go out in public without a male family member chaperone.

Speaking of Syria and of US hypocrisy and imperialism, the situation with the illegal and immoral US regime change war against Syria is evolving rapidly right now and things aren't looking good for the US' al Quaida linked jihadist proxies, who our government and the compliant lapdogs in the US press almost laughingly refer to as the "moderate Syrian rebels." They are in mass retreat in Aleppo, and when the Syrian army finishes with them there it will turn to smaller remaining strongholds of the US proxy Islamic fundamentalist jihadists -- no wait -- moderate rebels.

It's ironic in a way because by the time he takes office there probably won't be a Syrian war for Donald Trump to end. A lot of us on the Left who refused to support Hillary Clinton and preferred Trump over her did it because she's a warmongering Neocon and not least because of Syria. When she was secretary of state she was instrumental in starting that war and promised -- it was a campaign promise on her web site -- to escalate that murderous debacle which has already caused 250,000 innocent civilian deaths and displaced millions more, which displacement has caused the European refugee crises that's facilitating the rise of right wingers and neo fascists all over Europe, who have already taken power in some places and are about to take power in others and who were instrumental in Brexit and will be in the probable breakup of the European Union.

Yes, it's ironic alright. As many have pointed out, despite everything the US empire threw at Fidel he went out on his own terms. And went out revered and respected around the globe.

And went out just as exceptional, record wealth and income inequality America, even as it indulges in its day of strutting around like banty roosters heaping disdain upon the Socialist Fidel Castro, is about to be ruled over by the Fascist Donald Trump.

Who says there's no justice in this world?

Friday, November 25, 2016

Adios Comrade

Working Class

Wouldn't you know it. The term "working class" is being widely used again, but it's because it's being used as shorthand for "those white trash subhuman misogynist racist idiots who voted for Donald Trump and who are completely different from enlightened, very well informed and highly intelligent me."

As in a sneering Washington Post blog in which Paul Waldmon, who is nowhere near getting over the defeat of Hillary Clinton, tees off on the slobbering morons who didn't vote for her so he can re-establish his own compensatory sense of superiority.

I often use the term "working class" in it's traditional "Marxist" meaning where it means everyone who works for a paycheck or a salary -- as opposed to people who live off invested capital and rent -- and as often as not I include that "paycheck" meaning in the sentence, because I think the more recently invented term "middle class" has everyone confused as to the meaning of the term "working class."

What we think of as the "middle class" is part of the working class. It's a subcategory that has some descriptive value. The term came into use when the American working class -- as a result of the Labor Movement and its influence on Capitalism and on politics -- had achieved a standard of living that was substantially higher than it had had from the advent of Capitalism until then.

The term also has value because it means a working class that is using its power such that it has raised its standard of living to a particular if not a precisely defined degree, but it's a harmful term also. After "middle class" began being used you'd still hear the term "working class" but it had come to mean, in popular parlance, the working poor, a kind of underclass, that part of the working class that had been left behind or hadn't made it yet. And, in peoples' imaginations and in the way they defined themselves, i.e. the way they identified, it divided the working class into two separate and distinct groups. Not in the traditional sense. Everyone thought of themselves as middle lass and no one thought of themselves as working class, but every member of the working class then felt superior to some vague, undefined grouping of others and not as if there were any bonds or even common interests between them.

I use the term working class a lot because I want to try to normalize it and to fix its meaning in the traditional Marxist sense. Those are are almost necessary conditions for the working class to see itself as a class -- i.e. to attain class consciousness. The ruling class has class consciousness. It thinks and acts as a class, that is, it thinks and acts in ways that further the interests of the class and by which it practices class solidarity. The working class doesn't because it doesn't have class consciousness. It doesn't practice solidarity as the ruling class does.

The introduction of the term "middle class" served to divide the working class, but identity politics divides it even further, and that's one of the ways in which identity politics is harmful. It divides us into ever small groupings.

That's why the Democratic Party, which has as its historic role the suppression of class consciousness and the prevention of a working class uprising, adopted it as its central pillar, and why, now, the Democratic Party and larger Liberal establishments are striving mightily to cast their recent election defeat in terms of identity politics -- it was because of misogyny, or it was because of racism or it was both, depending on who's talking. It wasn't about class but it was because of that deplorable white working class.

Besides serving the useful function of denigrating Trump voters and discrediting the real and tangible reasons they voted for him, the sullying of the term "working class" heads off a class consciousness that would occur under the working class banner; it discredits the working class anger and the profound  disillusionment with the Democratic Party that resulted in and drove the Bernie Sanders candidacy, and which still has the potential to result in and drive something more well organized, is independent of the party, and would be extremely powerful.

The struggle over the meaning of the election, like the struggle over the meaning of the working class, is literally the struggle of the working class to achieve class consciousness. The ruling class and its bourgeois handmaids in the Democratic Party and the Liberal establishment know that if and when the working class achieves class consciousness, as large segments of it did by way of the Labor Movement, it could mean the end to their perks and privileges and cushy lifestyles.

If the working class succeeds in defining the meaning of the election it will at the least mean more Socialism and less unregulated no holds barred neoliberal Clintonesque Capitalism, but it will mean, necessarily, Socialism in one form or another.

Wednesday, November 23, 2016

The Emporer Has No Brains

This is a compilation of prominent politicians and celebrities saying that Donald Trump would never, ever be elected president. It was more of a shock to me than it was gratifying seeing this. I don't have a television so miss out on all this dazzling insight and analysis.

The liberal consensus, as represented in these video clips, has egg on its face, which can only be good news, as they are at the core of the terminal rot of our Capitalist system and one of the main reasons behind the election of Donald Trump, instead of a warmongering whore of Wall Street, as president, which is also good news for America and for hundreds of thousands of people in other countries who were in the way of its imperial ambition.

Not that they know they have egg on their faces. Glenn Greenwald's The Intercept has a piece on Maggie Haberman, the New York Times reporter shown in the video clip laughing in Democratic Rep Keith Ellison's face when he warned that Trump could win the election. Ellison is the left leaning Minnesota Muslim and Bernie Sanders supporter who wants to be the new chair of the Democratic National Committee. The Intercept piece shows how Haberman and the rest of the liberal consensus are undercutting Ellison and pushing for a conservative DNC chair. In other words, circling the wagons against the unwashed hoards who despite their every effort to rig the primaries almost propelled Bernie Sanders to power, and doubling down on the thinking that handed the election to Trump, the same thinking that has gutted the American working class and left young people staring into a bleak future of temporary employment at low wage jobs with no benefits. The rot leading to a future where increasing economic insecurity will ensure that the lesser parts of our natures only become more prominent and we'll be divided as a class into ever smaller groupings.

It's up to the American people to reverse this trend, working with workers in other countries and with workers of differing ideological persuasions in our country to wrest power from the elites in all nations. The election of Trump is good news in that it was a rejection of the system. It has given the people as sense of their power. But the wresting of power won't be accomplished through a political system but in the streets and in neighborhood meetings of citizens and civil society organizations like independent third parties, Arab-American cooperation leagues, Native American-Palestinian alliances and the like. As long as Republicans can divert working class anger into us loathing each other, and as long as Democrats are able to channel the basic human impulse to create a better world behind it's disastrous lesser of two evil-ism strategy and into identity politics, people will sit on their couches staring into TV screens thinking on some unconscious level that Republicans or Democrats are looking after them.

They aren't. Only we can do that. We have the power to do it.

Monday, November 21, 2016

A Chance For Peace

President elect Donald Trump met today with Democratic representative Tulsi Gabbard of Hawaii, a Bernie Sanders backer, to listen to her reasons for ending the US regime change war against Syria, which has killed hundreds of thousands of people for no reason and created the massive refugee crises that has propelled right wing and neo fascists to power all over Europe. Trump has already said he wants to end that war and have better relations with Russia and Syria. Gabbard is rumored to be under consideration for a cabinet position in a Trump administration.

Hilary Clinton, and presumably those who voted for her, wanted to escalate the war against Syria and further ramp up tensions with nuclear armed Russia. Clinton wouldn't have met with Gabbard or given her the time of day.

Sunday, November 20, 2016

Martin Heiinrich: I'm For The Subaru Station Wagon Crowd And Not For You

This "tweet" on New Mexico US senator Martin Heinrich's twitter page is getting some attention.

It's a "pinned" tweet, meaning it stays at the top of his Twitter page even if he posts other tweets after it. Heinrich wants to make sure people see it.

Heinrich also wants to make sure people see that he posts nothing on his Twitter feed that indicates he's the least bit concerned about any of the other reactionary policies likely to result from a Trump administration that will affect less affluent New Mexicans' pocketbooks, their futures, their childrens' futures, their childrens' chances of ever going to college or living a decent life.

Martin Heinrich claims that he'll die for the sake of public lands, which are of interest primarily to a small segment of upper middle class white people. You can look up and down his Twitter feed and you won't find him proclaiming that he'll die to preserve Social Security or Medicare, or anything else that helps the less fortunate and that a Democrat ought to be concerned with, such as the decline in working peoples' living standards and wages over the past 40 years.

Twitter is the social media platform that's followed by the movers and shakers, the big time media, the rich and famous, the people who matter, the important people. Heinrich wants these people to know that even though he got elected as a Democrat he'll do nothing to interfere with their cushy lifestyles. He wants them to know that even though he's a senator from one of the poorest states in the country, one that's getting worse all the time, that doesn't concern him. He wants the upper crust to know that as long as they, his true constituency, do well and as long as he has a place to do his elk hunting, those poor working class suckers, who can't spare the gas to drive out to his precious public lands, who won't be wandering around out there sullying up his scenery, who vote him into office, can go straight to hell.

Heinrich's attitude, by the way, which most establishment Democrats have, is what handed the election to Donald Trump. Working people, the few who bothered to drag themselves to the polls after working for peanuts for eight, ten, twelve hours not knowing if they'd even have job the next day, would rather the system go down in flames. Their silent desperation, which yes, they often express in racist or sexist terms, having no other outlet left to them for their fear and anger, has become so acute that they think anything will be better than the way things are now. Martin Heinrich isn't concerned about them or their futures. He and his constituency will get through a Trump administration just fine. They're all set up, and doing well.

And Who, You Ask, Is David Ortiz?

David Ortiz is a Dominican Republic born baseball player who retired from the Boston Red Sox this year at 40. He hit 38 homes runs in his final season and 541 during his career placing him 17th on the all time list. He was known as a clutch hitter and was much loved in Boston. Here he explains what baseball has meant to him. He had announced his retirement before the season ended and his final game was a Red Sox loss that knocked them out of the playoffs. After the game thousands of fans remained in Fenway Park and began chanting his nickname, Papi, Papi. Ortiz came back onto the field and stood on the pitcher's mound for about a minute and, surrounded by photographers, waved farewell to the fans.

Saturday, November 19, 2016

Blood And Propaganda

There's a flurry of articles today saying the "last hospital" in Aleppo has just been bombed by the Syrian government. Some articles say it's "the last four hospitals." This is a screen shot from Google News today that shows the headlines for some of the recent articles:

In response, someone I've been following on Twitter who goes by the handle "Tweets From Aleppo" tweeted a montage of previous announcements about the last hospital in Aleppo having just been bombed.

I don't know how well these screen shots show up on your computer, but they have the last remaining hospital in Aleppo being destroyed in June, July, August, October and November. The person who posted them this morning wrote, "Ok, so now the real question has to be, how many more "last hospital in Aleppo" stories before people realise it's total bullshit".

On social media there has also been circulated exposes of the so-called '"white helmets" as little more than paid propagandists created to further the US regime change agenda. Since the white helmets are supposed to be helping injured civillians in areas controlled by the so-called "moderate" US backed "rebels" it was surprising to see a video posted on social media of one of them at the scene of a beheading. Social media has also been responsible for the dissemination of articles that show the US backed "rebels" aren't moderate at all but are Islamic jihadists.

The internet has much potential, but it's parts are developing unevenly. Social media with its ability to deliver fast, unfiltered news and information, is arguably the most well developed part. It's made possible Occupy Wall Street, Black Lives Matter, the Bernie Sanders quasi insurgency and the election of Donald Trump. Without it the ruling class would have simply appointed the warmonger and handmaid of Wall Street Hillary Clinton as president.

Thanks to social media the US narrative about the good Syrian "rebels" now holed up in East Aleppo is being overtaken by the fact that the Islamic jihadists who our government organized and is funding and supplying and giving logistics assistance to are every bit as savage as the Assad regime. Twitter has apprised us, for example, that the bombings of aid convoys attributed to Syria were conducted by the US backed rebels and that the good, moderate Syrian rebels mowed down with automatic weapon fire scores of civilians who were trying to flee East Aleppo via safe corridors set up by Russia.

Of course, this oppositional counter narrative might be just as full of propaganda as the one that furthers the imperial regime change designs of the US government. The point is that they are now on a more or less equal footing because of social media, in the same way a Donald Trump with a cell phone sending out tweets that were reproduced by the millions put him on an equal footing with the entire ruling class with its billions and its mainstream media megaphone.