Archive for March, 2010

Obama Does Dirty Work Oil, Nukes and More Coal

Wednesday, March 31st, 2010

Obama takes another step backwards by giving the Republicans and the energy companies free reign in developing offshore oil on the South Atlantic, the Gulf of Mexico and the Alaska coast. This is exactly what Bush tried to push through and couldn’t so the Democrats do the heavy lifting for the power elites, just as Clinton did the heavy lifting for passing NAFTA and eliminating welfare, something the Republicans could not touch.
He has already been shilling for the nuclear industry and so called clean coal. What happened to clean energy? What happened to the climate change legislation? Its buried.

It seems that financial reform legislation which has been weakened by Dodd, is now being trounced by the Republicans as having too much consumer protection and not enough protection for the banks. That is what Senator Corker from Tennessee said. Barney Frank on Keith Olbermann’s show, claims that the Republican leadership told Corker to pull the plug.

So this is the game. The progressives make suggestions that might really benefit people. The Republicans refuse to go along. The administration comes up with a compromise that gives the corporate interests what they want by passing legislation that is populist in name only. This is one step forward and two steps back. At some point people might get wise to this game and refuse to play. Then perhaps we might get real change.
At least in the good news front the Bush Administration warrantless Wiretaps have been declared illegal by a Judge. The Obama administration has

Right And Left For Revolution-Reaching Across The Divide

Tuesday, March 30th, 2010

This interview with Naomi Wolf in Alternet speaks to issues that I have brought up myself.
A) Elitism in the left, not speaking in a language understandable to many Americans.
B) Direct Democracy emerging on the right, and how do we deal with it when they take positions leftists would take, just with a different rationale behind it.
C) Militancy on the right mirrors the kind of militancy I remember on the left back in the sixties and seventies. Are they out radicalizing us?
D) Unifying issues that the Right and Left agree on. Emerging police state, restrictions on civil liberties, gulags, military tribunals, need for a revolution and returning power to the people.

“AlterNet / By Justine Sharrock COMMENTS: 112 Naomi Wolf Thinks the Tea Parties Help Fight Fascism — Is She Onto Something or in Fantasy Land?
Naomi Wolf, author of ‘End of America,’ talks about why she has become an improbable Tea Party darling, and if progressives can learn from the conservative activists.
March 30, 2010 |
In her bestselling End of America, Naomi Wolf outlines the 10 warning signs that America is headed toward a fascist takeover. Using historical precedents, she explains how our government is mimicking those of Mussolini, Hitler and Stalin through practices like surveillance of ordinary citizens, restricting the press, developing paramilitary forces and arbitrarily detaining people.

The book was lauded by liberals under Bush: the Independent Publishers gave it the Freedom Fighter Award; John Nichols at the Nation named it the most valuable political book of 2007. Now, under President Obama, Wolf’s book is providing ammunition for the Tea Partiers, Patriots, Ron Paul supporters and Oath Keepers, who also warn of impending tyrannical government. Even when the book first came out pre-Obama, Alex Jones, Michael Savage and Fox News invited her on their shows, and agreed with her.

It’s not just her message. She speaks their language, referring to the Founding Fathers and American Revolution as models, admitting to a profound sense of fear, warning of tyranny, fascism, Nazism and martial law. When Glenn Beck warns of these things we laugh. When Wolf draws those same connections, we listen. How can both sides be speaking the same language, yet see things so differently? Or are we just not listening to each other? I telephoned Wolf to ask her what it means when your book ends up bolstering policies you oppose.

Justine Sharrock: First off, is your book still relevant under Obama?

Naomi Wolf: Unfortunately it is more relevant. Bush legalized torture, but Obama is legalizing impunity. He promised to roll stuff back, but he is institutionalizing these things forever. It is terrifying and the left doesn’t seem to recognize it.

JS: Did you realize that your book is being lauded within the Tea Party and patriot movements?

NW: Since I wrote Give Me Liberty, I have had a new audience that looks different than the average Smith girl. There is a giant libertarian component. I have had a lot of dialogue with the Ron Paul community. There are [Tea Partiers] writing to me on my Facebook page, but I figured they were self-selective libertarians and not arch conservatives. I am utterly stunned that I have a following in the patriot movement and I wasn’t aware that specific Tea Partiers were reading it. They haven’t invited me to speak. They invited Sarah Palin.

JS: If they did invite you, would you speak at a Tea Party?

NW: I would go in a heartbeat. I’ll go anywhere to talk about the Constitution. I believe in trans-partisan organizing around these issues. When I went on Fox News people asked me why I was going on those shows. Are you kidding? You have to go, especially to people you don’t agree with. We need to get back into grappling with people we disagree with if we want to restore the Republic.

I was invited by the Ron Paul supporters to their rally in Washington last summer and I loved it. I met a lot of people I respected, a lot of “ordinary” people, as in not privileged. They were stepping up to the plate, when my own liberal privileged fellow demographic habituates were lying around whining. It was a wake-up call to the libertarians that there’s a progressive who cares so much about the same issues. Their views of liberals are just as distorted as ours are of conservatives.

JS: Why do you think the sides don’t understand each other?

NW: Frankly, liberals are out of the habit of communicating with anyone outside their own in cohort. We have a cultural problem with self-righteousness and elitism. Liberals roll their eyes about going on “Oprah” to reach a mass audience by using language that anyone can understand even if you majored in semiotics at Yale. We look down on people we don’t agree with. It doesn’t serve us well.

There is also a deliberate building up of two camps that benefits from whipping up home team spirit and demonizing the opposition. With the Internet there is even more fractioning since we are in echo chambers. With so much propaganda it is hard to calm down enough to listen.

JS: What do you think is the biggest misconception about the Tea Parties?

NW: The Tea Party is not monolithic. There is a battle between people who care about liberty and the Constitution and the Republican Establishment who is trying to take ownership of it and redirect it for its own purposes.

JS: In your essay, “Tea Time in America” you said that some of the Tea Party’s proposals are “ahead of their time.” What are some examples?

NW: I used to think “End the Fed people” were crackpots. The media paints them as deranged. But it turned out we had good reason to have more oversight. Or take their platform about states’ rights. Demographically, I’m a hippie from San Francisco and I’m not culturally inclined to be sympathetic to states’ rights. My cultural heritage is FDR and Medicare and federal government solutions. But if you think through the analysis, strengthening state rights is a good corrective of the aggregation of an over-reaching federal power. Take California’s challenge of the Patriot Act or states like Vermont leading the way with addressing the corruption of the voting system. It’s a good example of the Tea Party thinking out of the box on how to address a problem.

JS: That’s interesting because strengthening states’ rights is key to their entire platform, including protesting health care reform. Would you call yourself pro-Tea Party?

NW: Even though I’m appalled when racism surfaces, and I personally don’t agree with certain policy solutions and a lot of what they believe in, as someone who is very concerned about reinvigorating democracy the Tea Parties are an answer to what I asked for.

I was basically saying don’t sit around waiting for the two corrupted established parties to restore the Constitution or the Republic. The founding generation was birthed by the rabble of all walks of life that got fed up and did risky things because they were captivated by the breath of liberty. There is a looming oligarchy and it is up to the people to organize a grassroots movement and push back. You guys have to do it yourself. Their response is the most visible and the initiative they show is the most recognizable. People of all kinds are waking up. Even people passionate for Obama realize even that knight on a white horse isn’t enough to roll back the oligarchy. I’m seeing a lot of action on the left as well that is never reported. But the Tea Party response is the most visible and the initiative they show is the most recognizable.

JS: How do you feel about your books bolstering a fight for policies you don’t agree with?

NW: If people are taking my book seriously and organizing, getting into office, caring about the constitution, and not waiting for someone else to lead them, I think, God bless them. All of us should be doing that. The left should be doing that. There is always the risk in advocating for democracy that the first people to wake up might not be your team, but that is a risk worth taking. I would rather have citizens I don’t agree with organized and active than an oligarchy of people that I agree with.

JS: These days the kinds of comparisons you make in your book between America and Nazis and fascists are mostly coming out of the mouths of people like Glenn Beck and Alex Jones. What do you make of the commonality of the rhetoric?

NW: There is no question that the right-wing idea machine saw how that message was resonating in the run-up to the last election. A YouTube video of a speech I gave went viral and got 850,000 hits. I’m not saying that is the only thing that caused this, but there is no question that the Republican and the right wing are quick to co-opt the strategic language that’s resonating on the other side and turn it against itself.

JS: How is your comparison of Obama to Hitler any different from someone at a Tea Party holding up a placard of Obama with a Hitler mustache?

NW: Those signs are offensive. If only the Holocaust was just about imposing health care on my people. Obama has done things like Hitler did. Let me be very careful here. The National Socialists rounded people up and held them without trial, signed legislation that gave torture impunity, and spied on their citizens, just as Obama has. It isn’t a question of what has been done that Hitler did. It’s what does every dictator do, on the left or the right, that is being done here and now. The real fight isn’t left or right but between forces of democracy across the spectrum and the forces of tyranny.

JS: People criticize Beck’s use of that kind of language as incendiary and hyperbolic. Why is your use any different?

NW: Every time I use those analogies, I am doing it with a concrete footnoted historical context. When people like Glenn Beck throw around the word Nazi without taking that kind of care, they are engaging in demagoguery. There’s an important difference.

JS: What about your warnings about concentration camps and martial law? How do they compare to conspiratorial fears about FEMA concentration camps?

NW: With the FEMA rumor, I have heard some suggestive first-person accounts that some good reporters should follow up on. But until I see two well-documented sources of it, I can’t speak to it at all.

JS: Well, more generally, you talk about the possibility of concentration camps and martial law.

NW: I think we have gone very far down that road. I met Muslim immigrants in Brooklyn who were swept up in 9-11 raids, held in abusive conditions, beaten, denied rights. That’s how things started in Germany. Guantanamo was modeled after what Stalin developed for the Gulag. Why are we engaged in psychological denial that it’s not a concentration camp? In terms of martial law, my god. Since the book came out they deployed a brigade in the U.S. and suspended the Posse Comitatus Act. There is no question that it’s something to take seriously. People have a histrionic view of what martial law will look like.

I’m not worried that tomorrow there will be a battalion outside your Greenwich Village apartment. I’m worried about things like the McCain Liberman bill that would define enemy belligerents so loosely it would include Americans, which is just like Stalin and Hitler and Mussolini. If Obama tries people with military tribunals, setting that precedent, that is what a military state does. That is what martial law looks like. From a constitutional point of view Bush passing through the Patriot Act is no worse than Obama renewing it.

Editor’s note: This piece originally said that the Nation had called “The End of America” the best political book of 2007. In fact, John Nichols said that Wolf’s book was “the most valuable political book” of 2007 in a blog post on the”

At the anti war rally on March 20 in Hollywood sponsored by the ASWER Coalition, there were more “911 Truth Out” banners than any other. Now I personally think that whole theory is full of holes and yet for many on the left and the right, the belief that the American government is directly responsible for 911 is what radicalized them.
The problem is one of our view of what is legitimate information and what is disinformation or unverifiable guesswork. Much of what we all believe is myth. It is stuff we pick up along the way by our associations, by what we remember from what we read somewhere and the sort of sources we tend to go to verify our data. Increasingly we reference from the internet. Wikipedia has become a major source of so called factual information. Recent theories of history have emphasized the influence of subjectivity, a sort of Heisenberg Uncertainty Principal applied to our understanding of reality.
As our information sources become more plastic and let us call them flexible, our hold on hard and true facts becomes more and more relative to the data we choose to weave the web of reality that makes us feel comfortable. As we get older and question our perspectives less, we become more and more settled in the viewpoints we have accumulated. This is true of any set of beliefs.
I try to change it up. For instance I am reading a book about the Red Army Faction, an English translation of their documents, a Catholic version of the Bible and a book on the Caliphate of Islam by a sympathetic western academic. This gives me a hard line ultra leftist communist view, an establishment Christian view and an academic Islamic view. But I realize that I am primarily influenced by my childhood. Therefore life on the farm and the routines and responsibilities of farm life provides an undergirding to all my perspectives. That includes a sense of relationship with animals, an understanding that some things just have to be done, as unpleasant as they might be, day in and day out. I don’t live on a farm now but I certainly understand rural concerns.
But who cares about that. The point I am making is that people have backgrounds that lead them to points when they are ready to bring about change. We may come to it from completely different paths but when we arrive, what is important is that we are there. For instance many anarchists from Southern California who were teenagers in the 1980’s had been strongly influenced by libertarianism and who had always seen communism as the enemy. Mark Potok of the Southern Poverty Law Center is saying on Hardball that Reagan brought this anti government thinking into the mainstream.
People who were teenagers in the sixties and seventies who came to radicalism generally came from the marxist left or the yippie cultural revolutionary perspective. For us the Stalinist state Communists betrayed the revolution and we would argue endlessly over when that point was reached. But for those who came out of the libertarian tradition, there never was a time when the Bolsheviks were good guys. They came to collectivism as a result of working in consensus group process learning the ropes from the lefties who had worked their way to democratic process. But then everyone has their own tale of how they came to the radical position. I am curious how the Christian Fundamentalists in rural Michigan came to the same ontological position regarding police as an inner city gang banger. Did it come from a common love of hip hop culture? Did it come from a common interest in guns? Did it come from a simple desire to be allowed to go ones own way and finding it being frustrated by the realities of modern urban civilization as it impacts on a rural lifestyle? Or it could simply reflect a lack of opportunity in an economy where there are no jobs and people have too much time on their hands. The point is this group in the Midwest an armed militia wanted to spark a revolution by killing cops if you can believe the FBI.
The problem is not having a revolution. Plenty of people seem to be ready for that and once the military has been infected by leftist and rightist radicals who turn them, the government will fall. But the problem is can we work out our differences and transform the society? Leftists seem to be more willing to let the Government repress the right, than make an alliance with them to overthrow the government. That means to me that leftists are not serious. Or let us put it another way, leftists are so concerned with correct conditions that they would rather not join in a real revolt if it happens to come from an element of society they are alienated from. In other words if there was a working class revolt in America it would be messy and it would be a mixed bag of neo-Nazis, militia members, inner city gang bangers, disaffected military, a smattering of communists and anarchists and plenty of regular working people who are fed up, and just refuse to put up with it any more.
It won’t be anything like what we imagine it to be, It won’t be the revolutionary masses rising up from out of some Russian Revolutionary propaganda film version of the Revolution. It won’t be a Francoist Coup that Anarcho-syndicalist unions unite to oppose. And there is no Soviet Union to send us aid in our revolt. There might be an Islamic underground ready and willing to hook up with a Christian underground on principals of unity that include traditional roles for women, suppression of gay rights and an end to usury, pornography and support for Israel. What would we do on the left if they offered to unite with us to overthrow the government. Would we refuse? Would we turn them in? Would we insist on supporting the Capitalist system because it has reformed itself enough to allow rich gays and women civil liberties? What is more important lifestyle rights or overthrowing a system that represses the vast majority of the world so that a few privileged percentages of the population can have an easy life?
The left by becoming identified with niche lifestyles and minority privileges, became distracted from the essential issue of the welfare of the vast majority of the people. The right has been able to become the party of the people and the left has become the party of the elite and the protected minorities. We need to see how we are perceived by the world. We are not seen as the liberators, we are seen as the dilettantes who hypocritically talk about rights when we hide behind our police state and our vast military machine pretending to oppose it but in reality retreating from any real change that might threaten our privilege. This is something I constantly noticed as a youth when all the radicals I met were children of affluence and the few truly poor radicals soon discovered that the need to earn a living often trumped idealism and many turned bitter and to the right simply because they could not stand the hypocrisy of rich leftists who did not speak to the needs of a family man with mortgage payments to meet, an unstable non union job and a wife who has to work to keep a roof over the head and kids who have fewer and fewer opportunities for the good life as the competition increases for the remaining decent paying jobs.
Liberals talk a good game but when it comes down to making policy that really helps the working families, they do very little. Mega churches offer more real help to average americans than any left wing government programs besides perhaps food stamps and unemployment. Social Security is about the only program that benefits all Americans and that doesn’t kick in until you are ready to retire. A real peoples program would mean free and universal education for all right through trade school or the university. A real program for all would mean guaranteed employment or a serious unemployment subsidy that considered unemployment a government problem not a personal problem. Free health care for all, a military budget that was concerned only with defense and not imperial projection around the world would be a good start. Economic policies that emphasized saving jobs and not maximizing profits for a few bosses. Maternity leave paid for all and stipends for families. These are a few things that would show we had a government that cared for the people. Not a trick government that constantly does a bait and switch and is placing the interests of international capital over the people. Then issues like Gay rights and equality before the law would be moot. When all the people are treated fairly and priorities are putting families first, then people will become generous and will certainly want all people to feel they have a place in the society. But when the government creates artificial scarcities and turns black against white and pits the educated against the disadvantaged and forces people to compete on a dog eat dog basis simply to survive, well then you get a society where groups are pitted against one another with winners and losers. We can change that. We have to reach out to our brothers and sisters who believe in Jesus and Mohamed and whatever and tell them that we respect them and find a common ground or a way to work through our differences and make America a republic of, by and for the people.
I am not saying the civil rights movement was wrong. No I am saying we got side tracked by the right when they killed great leaders in the sixties and turned the working class against the racial minorities, the left fell for it and instead of finding points of unity they retreated into alternative lifestyle views that became irrelevant to the main stream culture. Not all of it, pot smoking has become mainstream, but in the process of gaining our lifestyle privileges those of us on the left have alienated millions and given ammunition to the right wing. Now it is time for us to admit that we need our right arm just as much as our left and if we are going to have a nation of Americans we need to come together and stop allowing the media and capitalists divide us over petty lifestyle issues.

Moscow Subway Blasts, Islam & Terror, Why?

Monday, March 29th, 2010

I guess everyone knows about the Russian subway explosions. It is assumed that they were caused by North Caucasian Islamic Separatists but nobody knows for sure since they did not leave a message, only the bodies of two women that are claimed by the Russians to be from that region. Some 38 persons were killed by two women bombers it is believed.
This is from CTV Ottawa…
“Terror tremors

Moscow’s battle with rebels in the Caucasus region has heated up recently, with Russian police reporting the death of one militant leader in the Kabardino-Balkariya region last week.

In February, Chechen rebel leader Doku Umarov told an interviewer that “the zone of military operations will be extended to the territory of Russia…the war is coming to their cities.”

In the same interview, Umarov said his fighters were behind the November bombing of a passenger train that killed 26 people.

The aim of militants in the Caucasus is to establish an Islamic state in the region. Al Qaeda has long offered moral and financial support to Chechen rebels.

The Associated Press reported Monday that at least three al Qaeda-affiliated websites posted messages that praised the Moscow subway attacks.

Terrorism expert Alan Bell said Russia worked to drive many Chechen rebels out of Chechnya about two years ago, as part of an intensive crackdown on their activities.

But the rebels ended up regrouping in North Caucasus, which has bred the current problems in that region, he said.

Neither Putin, nor Medvedev, made mention of any specific actions that Moscow would take in the Caucasus region, though Bell suggested that the government will not hesitate to act.

“The Russians don’t mess around with terrorism like a lot of other countries do,” Bell told CTV’s Canada AM during an interview in Toronto.

“When something happens, they will go in, they will find who is responsible and they will deal with this in a very cut and dried manner.” ”

How did this happen? Back when I was a young radical communists and anarchists avoided harming people when they set off bombs. These were targeting institutions that could be clearly related to as being part of the mechanism that was oppressing people, especially third world people. When the target what a human being it was normally an attempt to kidnap a person in power to effect the release of captured comrades. Only when the state killed radicals, was there any vengeance killing and then it was always targeted to persons in positions of responsibility and there was an explanatory leaflet that would explain to the people why this or that person or institution was targeted.
At some point civilians became targets. We know that in World War 2 the United States began bombing civilians in Germany and Japan. The Germans used randomly directed V-bombs and rockets on Great Britain. Germany famously bombed Guernica in Spain during the Spanish Civil war and that is one of the first modern episodes of indiscriminate killing of civilians.
Historically it was considered ok for the victors in any conflict to treat the losers as they pleased. This often meant killing the adult males and enslaving the women and children. It didn’t always happen, you could buy your way out of being slaughtered if you submitted without resistance, many cities did that only to find themselves punished by their nominal rulers for surrendering. Rulers would have to weight the value of resisting until aid came vis. surrender and suffering punishment when the enemy left. Islam actually offered a great advance over the old system. People of the book, i.e. Christians and Jews were given the option of submitting and paying a tax, converting and joining the Moslems or being defeated in battle. That third choice was a very civilized advance on the ancient code. It was not until the 30 Years War and the subsequent devastation of Germany that Europeans adopted conventions to protect civilians. That was in the 17th century, a thousand years after the Moslems proposed their tax on people who submitted.
So what happened to the liberal Moslem approach to their enemies? I searched the web for answers but only found propaganda for various factions. Most seem to blame the Muslim Brotherhood founded in Egypt in the 20th century for the theoretical right to kill secular Moslems as well as infidels. I did find one interesting review of a book on the occupation of the religious shrines in Mecca.
A reporter pierces Saudi secrecy about a seminal event in the evolution of radical Islam.

The Forgotten Uprising in Islam’s Holiest Shrine And the Birth of Al Qaeda
By Yaroslav Trofimov
Reviewed by Thomas W. Lippman

Perhaps the 1979 takeover of the Great Mosque in Mecca by heavily armed fanatics has been forgotten here, but in the Muslim Middle East, it was a seminal event of the most traumatic year in modern times.

That year began with the Iranian revolution and ended with the Soviet invasion of Afghanistan. In between, Egypt signed a peace treaty with Israel, radicalizing the Palestinians. Saddam Hussein took power in Iraq. And the former prime minister of Pakistan, Zulfiqar Ali Bhutto, was hanged by the general who overthrew him, Mohammed Zia ul-Haq — the leader who would turn the battle against the Soviets in Afghanistan into a religious war that inspired zealots such as Osama bin Laden.

The struggle over the mosque in Mecca, birthplace of Islam, is the least known event in that sequence because most of the radicals who seized the shrine were executed and just about everyone else involved, including senior Saudi officials, long refused to talk about it. The seizure humiliated the Saudi regime, which bases its legitimacy on its role as upholder of Islam and keeper of the faith’s holy places; the kingdom’s leaders at first refused to acknowledge that it had happened and later tried to minimize its importance.

In a remarkable feat of reporting, Trofimov, a foreign correspondent for the Wall Street Journal, has pierced that veil of secrecy. He found and interviewed Saudis who wished to stay unknown, persuaded French adventurers to talk, and used the Freedom of Information Act to pry loose U.S. documents. He unearths many new details about the uprising, including the reasons the Saudis spurned offers of help from neighboring Jordan and turned instead to France, as well as the exact role played by French commandos in ending the siege and capturing the rebels — but the book’s value goes well beyond these findings. It establishes two points essential to understanding the turbulence in today’s Middle East and the rise of al-Qaeda:

First, the Islamic extremists who seized the mosque on Nov. 20, 1979, and their leader, Juhayman al Uteybi, represented a crucial link in an unbroken chain of radical Islamic violence that runs from the fundamentalist warriors who helped Abdul Aziz ibn Saud take over the Arabian peninsula and create Saudi Arabia early in the 20th century, through the rise of the Muslim Brotherhood, to the group that assassinated Egyptian president Anwar Sadat after he made peace with Israel, to the Taliban in Afghanistan and, finally, to al-Qaeda and today’s terrorists. None was an isolated phenomenon; all are part of the same movement. Their tactics differ, but their aspirations are the same: a return to a pure, pre-modern Muslim society as they imagine the Prophet Muhammad would have run it, untainted by Western civilization.

Second, Uteybi and his surviving companions, who were publicly beheaded after French commandos helped Saudi authorities retake the mosque, may have lost the battle, but they won their war. Saudi rulers, terrified by what Uteybi represented, essentially gave in to his demands that the country’s drift toward liberalization be reversed. Women were taken off television, theaters were closed, and huge amounts of cash were disbursed to the country’s most xenophobic, reactionary preachers and teachers. Therein lie the roots of the terrorism that arose from Saudi Arabia two decades later and brought down the twin towers of the World Trade Center.

“At the time,” Trofimov explains, “such an embrace of the Wahhabi orthodoxy seemed like a wise survival policy for the House of Saud. It was only after decades of this indoctrination produced a new generation of al Qaeda radicals that some senior princes realized the extent of the folly.”

As for the errors of the United States, Trofimov is equally blunt. Policymakers in Washington completely misunderstood what Juhayman represented — he was a home-grown Sunni Muslim, but they thought he was a Shiite agent of Iran’s Ayatollah Khomeini — and drew the wrong conclusions. Trofimov is especially critical of Zbigniew Brzezinski, President Carter’s national security adviser, who envisioned the rise of violence-prone Muslim zealotry as a tool that could be useful in combatting Soviet communism rather than as a threat to the West.

Trofimov explains who the radicals were, what they wanted, how they smuggled their weapons into the mosque, why the takeover traumatized the Saudi royal family. And most importantly: why the story still matters.”

I am not convinced by this. It is of course an important incident but it is not all that was going on. This is from Wikipedia on the Muslim Brotherhood.
“The Muslim Brothers, full title The Society of the Muslim Brothers, often simply الإخوان al-ikhwān, the Brotherhood or MB) is a Sunni transnational movement and the largest political opposition organization in many Arab states, particularly Egypt. The world’s oldest and largest Islamic political group was founded by the Egyptian schoolteacher Hassan al-Banna in 1928.

The Brotherhood’s stated goal is to instill the Qur’an and Sunnah as the “sole reference point for … ordering the life of the Muslim family, individual, community … and state”. Since its inception in 1928 the movement has officially opposed violent means to achieve its goals with some exceptions such as in the Israeli-Palestinian conflict or to overthrow secular Ba’athist rule in Syria (see Hama massacre). This position has been questioned, particularly by the Egyptian government, which accused the group of a campaign of killings in Egypt after World War II.

The Brotherhood has been described as both unjustly oppressed and dangerously violent. Members have been arbitrarily arrested; in Egypt the government has obstructed the party’s attempts to field candidates in elections, with arrests or harassment of activists and obstruction of voting in Muslim Brotherhood strongholds.

Outside of Egypt, the group’s political activity has been described as evolving away from modernism and reformism towards a more traditional, “rightist conservative” stance. For example, the Muslim Brotherhood party in Kuwait opposes suffrage for women. The Brotherhood’s official opposition to terror against civilians and condemnation of the 9/11 attacks is a matter of international controversy. Its position on violence has also caused disputes within the movement, with advocates of violence at times breaking away to form groups such as the Al-Gama’a al-Islamiyya (The Islamic Group) and Al Takfir Wal Hijra (Excommunication and Migration).

Among the Brotherhood’s more influential members was Sayyid Qutb. Qutb was the author of one of Islamism’s most important books, Milestones, which called for the restoration of Islam by re-establishing the Sharia and by using “physical power and Jihad for abolishing the organizations and authorities of the Jahili system,” which he believed to include the entire Muslim world. While studying at university, Osama bin Laden claimed to have been influenced by the religious and political ideas of several professors with strong ties to the Muslim Brotherhood including both Sayyid Qutb and his brother Muhammad Qutb. However, once Al Qaeda was fully organized, they denounced the Muslim Brotherhood’s reform through nonviolence and accused them of “betraying the cause of Islam and abandoning their ‘jihad’ in favour of forming political parties and supporting modern state institution”. ”

My own view is that the Palestinians became hardened by the lack of response from the peoples of the world to their plight in the camps after being expelled from Palestine by the Israelis. The German botched response to the kidnapping of the Israeli athletes during the Munich Olympics in which all the athletes were killed was the direct result of the Germans unwillingness to negotiate in good faith. But it was the aid the US gave to Israel and the defeats of the Arab secular powers of Jordan, Syria and Egypt, with the eventual betrayal of the Palestinian cause by the Jordanians with their assault on the PLO and the Egyptian peace made with Israel that drove many Muslims into a more desperate and radical camp.
Many see Sayyid Qutb as the theoretical source but I would say it is more a result of 100 years of Islamic defeats at the hands of the west. First the British betrayal of the Arab cause when they promised a homeland if the Arabs rose up against the Ottoman Turks. Britain then took the land as their own dividing it with the French. The Caliphate was destroyed something that struck Muslims in India particularly as they had believed that the Versailles peace treaty would leave them with a Caliph at least in name. Lands that had been ruled by fellow Moslems for a thousand years were now in the hands of western imperial powers and puppet regimes were put in their place. This provided much of the background.
When the secular states failed with Soviet aid to stop Israel the religious fundamentalists saw their opportunity to win the masses for a return to the religious fundamentals. But what really did the trick was the American response to the invasion of Afghanistan by the Russians and the Islamic Revolution in Iran. The CIA and American politicians decided to arm the Mujahideen and concocted with the Saudi’s and Pakistani Intelligence a dangerous mix of well trained fundamentalists who became Al Qaeda. Once they had been trained and armed by the west they realized under the leadership of people like Osama Bin Laden that now was their opportunity to restore the Caliphate and with it the Islamic honor in the world lost after a century of domination by the western powers.
This is about Israel but it is more about British, French, Russian and American international policy and their imperial oppression of the Islamic world. When the Socialist secularists failed and Russia was targeted by the west, the fundamentalist wave was given an opportunity to become the next wave in Islam. We are reaping the whirlwind. This is blowback on a grand scale.

At the same time as talk about Moscow on Pacifica, NPR and the BBC, there is on MSNBC reports covering the arrests of the Militia persons in Michigan, Ohio and Indiana. They sound like real flakes if you can believe the media accounts of them. Apparently they were attempting to start a revolution of Christians against the Satanic American Government starting out by killing a few cops with IEDs. Now that is really bringing the war home, Christian Fundamentalists using Moslem Fundamentalist tactics both independently attempting to bring down their version of the great Satan.
Nine people have been indicted and eight of them are in custody. Perhaps that ninth one is the government agent and he is out looking for another band of extremists to round up. When the Republicans are in power the FBI goes after Earth First and Animal Rights activists. When the Democrats are in power they go after militia members and Klansmen. I am not sure if the country is becoming more polarized or if the media is only making it seem so. When I was a kid I had beer cans thrown at me from passing cars and red necks would try to beat me up. Now they just think about how they would like to beat me up. Obesity has its advantages.

NPR picked today to do a report on Lashkar-e-Taiba, the group that attacked Mubai in 2008. This is from Wikipedia….
” (Urdu: لشکرطیبہ laškar-ĕ ṯayyiba; literally Army of the Good, translated as Army of the Righteous, or Army of the Pure) — also transliterated as Lashkar-i-Tayyaba, Lashkar-e-Tayyaba, Lashkar-e-Tayyiba, Lashkar-i-Taiba, Lashkar Taiba or LeT — is one of the largest and most active Islamist militant organizations in South Asia.

It was founded by Hafiz Muhammad Saeed and Zafar Iqbal in Afghanistan. It is currently based in Muridke (near Lahore, Punjab, Pakistan) and operates several training camps in Pakistan-administered Kashmir.

Lashkar-e-Taiba members have carried out major attacks against India and its objective is to introduce an Islamic state in South Asia and to “liberate” Muslims residing in Indian Kashmir. The organization is banned as a terrorist organization by India, Pakistan, the United States, the United Kingdom, the European Union, Russia and Australia. As of December 2008 U.S. intelligence officials believed that Pakistan’s main intelligence agency, the Inter-Services Intelligence (ISI), continued to give LeT intelligence help and protection.”

The story focused on the American who provided intelligence for the group implying that they are everywhere and have allies in all walks of life. I am not sure what this was meant to do other than to convince the American populace that the President knows what he is doing and that the invasion of Afghanistan, the continued presence in Iraq and the incursions into Pakistan are necessary and correct. This just after President Obama’s trip to Afghanistan and his recess appointment of 15 officials exactly the same number as President Bush placed in office when there was a recess in his administration. It was a tit for tat, announcement to the Republicans and their friends that the President is going to push hard for his policies over the next few months. He does not want to see a Republican landslide in November so he is standing tall.
Lets see if he stands tall enough to block the Insurance companies as they already are working to undermine the health care bill trying to say that children under six are not covered unless they already are insured. That was not what the President said. He said they would all be covered within 6 months. Lets see if he is true to his word.

Christian Militants Arrested In Midwest.

Sunday, March 28th, 2010

According to CNN, also today a right wing Christian militia has been raided. The group called Hutaree has a My Space page with links to many militia groups. Apparently they were arrested attempting to see pipe bombs to government agents. Personally I am no fan of right wing groups out to kill the Anti Christ. Who might that be? Anyone who might happen to be the President of the United States? On the other hand when the government comes down on any group we need to know if they are a popular people’s movement or if they are representing the interests of capital.
This can be a problem for leftists when popular movements are founded on fundamentalist Christian or a neo-fascistic basis. Are they potential allies against the state or are they simply tools of the state for repressing racial minorities and participating in anti union activities. If on the other hand there is a real attempt to defend peoples liberties then it is the responsibility of radicals and leftists to attempt to see if there is any basis for unity. Most likely not but before we write them off totally, as many write of the Libertarians and the Truth Out about 911 people, we must deal with the issues they bring up and attempt to make some kind of political sense out of what is happening. When we have totally lost the white working class is that because the white working class is hopelessly reactionary and collaborationist or has there been a failure on the left to deal with issues that this large mass of the population is concerned with?
Back in the 1970’s many in the Maoist New Communist Movement went into the factories to attempt to organize where the old left had abandoned the field or been hounded out by the Mafias in alliance with the Capitalists. But their influence has been limited and the offensive against labor, begun when Nixon drove a wedge between the white working classes and the blacks and youth of America and further exploited by the Reagan anti Labor strike breaking and the emergence of the professional union busting movement that has been used effectively by corporate America to intimidate workers to stay clear of Unions. Only among the most dispossessed workers in the service industries and among government workers has the labor movement retained any strength. Among the vast majority of white workers labor organizing has become seen as an elitist function of fat cat state employees who get great benefits and great salaries in the minds of workers in private industry who are facing increased pressure to cut back on benefits and salaries.
The fact that state workers are being furloughed and having their pay cut by up to 15% does not seem to register and the massive layoff of teachers is almost seen with glee on the part of white workers who feel that these workers are getting some kind of subsidy coming out of our taxes. It is true that state workers salaries come out of our tax dollars but their contracts are hard won benefits gained from negotiation with state and federal governments. These workers for the most part cannot strike by law, they can only negotiate.
One of the biggest problems has been the growth of the prison industrial complex. This has soaked up massive amounts of state budgets when over the last 30 years there has been a radical increase in sentencing for relatively victimless crimes such as drug consumption. dealing and prostitution. Related crimes of theft to support drug habits would disappear with legalization of most substances. The war on drugs, started under Nixon and increased under Reagan has left us with a massive prison population that our tax dollars have to support at the cost of $30,000 or more a year. Not to mention the prison guards, the prison construction and the legal prosecution and defense industry that has grown around these newly created crimes.
Adding fuel to the fire was the CIA importation of illicit drugs to fund black operations around the world through the flooding of American Cities with Southeast Asian Heroin in the early seventies and Columbian Cocaine in the early eighties. Even the LSD fad in sixties can be traced back to CIA mind control experiments. The main manufacturer of illicit LSD in the late sixties and early seventies after Owsley’s operation was shut down is accused of having CIA connections according to the new book “Orange Sunshine”, at least as reported in the article in the Orange County Weekly on the subject.
We are seeing the government using counter insurgency tactics on its own domestic population, considering many inner city youth to be throw away populations that after the Black and Latino middle classes were extracted from the urban environment over the course of the sixties and seventies, then the remaining under class were considered to be free fire targets for manipulation. There was blowback in the arming of the gangs both inner city black and Latin American based Hispanic gangs. As long as they did not become politicized as the Columbian revolutionaries were, there was little problem with simply criminalizing these inner city gangbangers and then feeding the newly expanded prison industrial complex with these youth. This provided a solution for the excess male population, forcing minority women to work to support their children while their men went to prison. This would provide an excuse for not spending on social welfare programs as the funds were now required to deal with the rapid increase in armed inner city gangs. This logical led to more funding for police and for an increased militarization of the police with SWAT teams, and tanks etc being sent into inner cities which were now considered to be war zones.
When an economy is growing through the expanded imperial presence of the American military around the world recouping territory long lost to communist insurgencies starting in the eighties with the Soviet Union’s getting stuck in the Afghanistan quagmire and continuing with the mobilization of fundamentalist Moslems in a Jihad against the cosmopolitanism of the Soviet Union. This has led to a blowback in that these Muslim fundamentalists are just as opposed to American Cosmopolitanism as they were to the Soviet version. What we have done has been to awaken the tiger of Islam that has begun to develop their own third way between Capitalism and Socialism. The question is, are they offering a progressive move away from western imperialism or a step back into feudal oppression of women and non believers. Just as fundamentalist Christianity is not necessarily the enemy of socialism, neither is Islam. But if communists insist upon atheism and a rigid application of outmoded concepts of Marxism and Atheistic Humanism, we may be missing out on the next wave of the human struggle for liberation from the forces of oppression that now have the world gripped ever more tightly in the grip of capital. It is time to think hard and long about what we want and how to get there.
Obama went to Afghanistan, told Karzai that he wants progress on the civilian front and to bolster the military efforts. Various regional players are making their presence felt in Afghanistan. Iran has a major presence in the capital, Kabul along with the Pakistani’s and India. We can expect the Russians to come back when they get a chance. Obama seems to have wanted to put pressure on the Afghani’s to bring about reforms that will allow the Americans to begin to withdraw in time for the 2012 elections. Obama does not want to be stuck with a long term conflict in Afghanistan without at least the impression of progress being made by that time. The American people are weary of wars overseas and want a return to the more subtle methods of imposing our will on the world that existed under Presidents like Clinton. Although there are some elements who want nothing more than an all out new cold war, and they have succeeded in demonizing the Arab world as the new communists, this effort will require an increasingly sophisticated logic as Obama painted himself as a semi peace candidate and most Americans who voted for him expect some peace dividend. Will we be able to force a reorientation to spending on domestic concerns or will we be bamboozled into one foreign adventure supporting the interests of Capital after another? Lets fight for a world without the dominance of Capital.

Rambling On Accidents, Insurance, Mafias and Change

Saturday, March 27th, 2010

Took a walk down memory lane with a friend of mine. He and I have both been to India. We both appreciated the culture. He is a collector. I am not much of a collector. I just collect my books. That is about all and then I sell them when I get too much stuff. I am semi nomadic. I like to be able to move when I want but I have less reason to move now than before. I like my southern California home, and as much as I miss the Bay Area, New York, and Boulder, I am fairly content here, except for the traffic and the taxes that don’t seem to pay for much except road maintenance and emergency services.
I am glad for the emergency services. A couple weeks ago I was in a accident. Someone rammed into my car from behind and my car was in the shop for almost two weeks. The cop and ambulance service came to see if we were ok. My girlfriend was shook up but she didn’t want to go to the hospital. Our tax dollars paid for them to show up. Her fear of getting a bill because she had no health insurance, I am sure influenced her decision not to go for a ride to the hospital. Now she is attempting to sue the other driver. He didn’t even give me his insurance information. The cops had to get it from him. What a jerk. He probably didn’t even have insurance. Auto insurance, like health insurance should be a basic. Although I am not sure they should be burdens of individuals. I would prefer to see that each person is given auto insurance when they get their drivers license by the state. They should be part of the same thing. Health insurance should be part of the medical process something you get at birth from the hospital.
Another way of putting it, taxes should cover health and auto liability. Since we need cars to get around and we have no alterative way to get to our places of employment the state should be responsible for the accidents that occur and they should cover the expenses out of our taxes. The lack of adequate mass transit is a result of government decisions to subsidize the auto industry by the massive construction of a highway infrastructure that benefits the auto industry. It was done by President Eisenhower under the aspects of building a national defense highway network. At the same time mass transit systems were underfunded or as in Los Angeles they were ripped out to give workers little alternative to the automobile. The social cost of this, pollution, hours spent in traffic and innumerable accidents and deaths are absorbed by the citizenry as simply the cost of living in the modern world. But this world was created by government planners in conjunction with the captains of industry and these costs should be borne by those who created them.
Where do our taxes go? We subsidize a massive military machine that eats up half of the disposable budget. Other than money that is diverted to basic research, from which trickles out some socially useful inventions, this is money spent to subsidize the extraction of cheap resources for international capital. It doesn’t even go to support jobs in the USA anymore, the jobs are in China. Our military protects the shipping lanes and extraction of raw materials in the third world to send them to the second world where they are processed into products that are then sold to us in the first world. What exactly do we produce anymore here? We produce debt. We produce soldiers who protect those who work and we produce a vast number of people who work in the service industry. But essentially what the USA does is provide a protection/extortion mechanism that keeps the flow of goods and services and capital moving. The rest of the world may not like it but as long as our military machine is as powerful as it is, nobody dare oppose the USA.
Marxist revolutionaries in the last century attempted to overturn this system and fascist dictators attempted to take a share of the market but both were soundly defeated. The problem is that the logic of the system of capitalist accumulation leads to more and more concentration of wealth in fewer hands. Also with the logic of sending the work to places with the lowest labor costs inevitably led to the loss of manufacturing jobs in the USA, the workforce found itself under increasing pressure to lower its expectations of remuneration or to move to the sectors where there was still some opportunity, ie the high end service of Capital as financial workers, lawyers, doctors, accountants, civil servants and the military. But this only requires a fraction of the populace. The remainder are encouraged to get educations, to become more and more indebted to a system in which their degrees will buy them less and less as the ,market becomes glutted with well educated fast food chain employees.
To some extent the government has forced some of the foreign corporate entities to open manufacturing plants in the USA to keep some labor here in exchange for access to our vast market of accumulated wealth. But as that wealth is drained and we produce less the attraction will dissipate and as local markets emerge for the consumption of goods in the second and third world the incentive to get into the American market will become less until it will be seen as simply a liability, imposed by the United States military for protection. At that point there will be a revolt and the USA will find itself opposed again by a world that does not need an American Mafias in control.
At some point perhaps before the world reaches that stage people here will find the burden of supporting a military machine and a Capitalist system that benefits the few at the expense of the many becoming intolerable. We may voluntarily withdraw from the world as the military mafia and restart industry at home. That may be seen as protectionism by the big capitalists but it will simply be seen as common sense by most people. What are we about after all the needs of the capitalist few or the many who make up the American people? When we decide to stop letting them bamboozle us with all their fear mongering and flag waving and take a look at where the money is going. Then perhaps we will give all these political hacks and their bosses the boot. Until then we will be paying for things like the privilege to drive, when we were forced by them to get into cars to provide for their plans for a future that has turned into a nightmare. We can stop it but we need to realize that the first thing we need to do is say no. Then we need to get together and organize a general strike to topple their control over us and replace them with committees of regular folks who will sort it all out and restructure the wealth of the country for the benefit of the people who live here. Most revolutions can be done with a minimum of violence when the people have had enough. I say lets stop working for the man and start working for ourselves and our communities. Nuff said.

Modern Humanity, Lost In Space And Time

Wednesday, March 24th, 2010

Seems like the media is creating some kind of hysteria around the people who are making nasty comments about and too the democrats. Some of these right wingers have even resorted to radical tactics that we used to see on the left. They are throwing bricks through windows with messages wrapped around them. Hmm who used to do that sort of thing? Hell I did back in my days as an anti-gentrification and antimilitarism activist. Now they are using it against the Democrats for passing health care legislation.
Who are these people? Are they employees of the insurance industry? I doubt it. They like to lobby directly at the main troth in Washington, DC. Are they Republican Party activists? Possibly, Republican thugs roughed up the vote counters in Florida back in 2000 when they were trying to force the count to support Bush. They succeeded then. They failed this time. Dick Army and his minions were able to scare some Democrats but not enough of them.
I am sure some of these people are the same sort of white trash that don the KKK uniform and obey their local superiors in the white establishment who send them on missions to intimidate and terrorize blacks, Jews and Catholics. These are people who have such low self esteem that they consider being a flunkey to be a step up from being a human being. But they don’t see it that way, they wrap their nakedness in the flag. They consider hatred of others, and especially hatred of those who would upset the traditional social order as being evil and deserving of whatever horrible fate these thugs can impose upon them.
But then there are people, good normal hard working Americans who are just trying to pay their bills and live a decent life. They are feeling squeezed by the system and instead of turning to working mans associations like unions, political action groups etc, they turn the new opposition. This is an interesting phenomenon. As the right starting with Goldwater and continuing with great success under Reagan, unions and labor groups were painted as un American, mafia’s. Government was even attacked as inefficient and incapable of spending the tax payer’s dollars wisely. These right wingers gained control of the Republican party in the late 1970’s and with a platform of radical fundamentalist Christianity to give it a moral base, with corporate funders who crafted the message to make sure that labor was suppressed, consumption and debt encouraged and the concept of democratic government to be equated with totalitarianism. Only defense is seen as the true purpose of the state.
This has been a theme that has been reiterated continuously from at least the 1960’s until now. We are seeing the fruit of this propaganda with the Tea Party movement, the Birthers, the revival of the militia movement and the ongoing activities of the right to lifers and anti-gay fundamentalists. They coalesce around the concepts of limited government, lower taxes and a strong defense.
Because they attract persons who feel that they are loosing out in the social order, people who see gays, feminists, immigrants, and minorities as threats. Who does that leave? White Christian Males and the women who love them. When Bush was president these people felt that they had a voice in the White House, but he bungled the job. He let his guard down and the economy slipped. Who do they blame, probably a Jewish banking conspiracy. But this let Obama gain control of the country. In the eyes of these people the Gay Jews and Niggers are now in charge and as far as they are concerned that means Satan is in charge of the White House.
This is the rage you hear in the voices of those poor souls who call and threaten politicians with hellfire. They read their Bible, they drink their beer and they see the bills piling up and they turn on Fox TV and Rush Limbaugh and listen to voices that channel their anger to the symbols of their hatred. Gay, liberal and black politicians are the immediate targets. House Minority Speaker Bonner spoke up today on Fox saying that the anger although justified, is not an excuse for violence. Other Republicans claim that the health vote was the result of bought votes. Republicans have called for all hearings in the Senate be canceled because of their desire to stop the Senate from doing its work as part of their being pissed at the passing of the Health Care bill.
I am having a hard time articulating the exact nature of this but it is an upwelling of the primitive in humanity. It is more than that it is the voice in each person who calls any attempt to better the conditions of the world to be hubris. It is the voice that says all is vanity and that the corollary to that is that we need to leave affairs to our betters, those who have been handling things all these many generations. It is the voice of the powers that were, wishing to retain the powers that they see slipping away. Now there are those who are smart and who will simply make a deal with the reformers and find an angle from which to retain some leverage. That is what these fundamentalists would call the cosmopolitan position. That is a code word for Jew. The hard right will not compromise, they simply refuse to allow any of these new people to have a place at the table of power. They don’t want to share the pie. They don’t see why they should. This is complicated by the voice of these right wing pundits who get average people, not players, not people with big bucks, but just working stiffs with debt, they get them riled up and blaming these obvious targets, blacks, gays, Latinos and Jews. These are targets that are easily stereotyped.
Jews have been blamed as Christ killers, gays for being an abomination, blacks for being runaway slaves, Latinos for being foreigners who steal jobs, and on and on. The reasons are all irrational and have more to do with the fears of the people projecting those attitudes than the reality on the ground. They are old fears, traditional grudges carried on almost in the genes of white people, like festering sores waiting for an opportunity to become inflamed by a circumstance like the economic downturn and a match like the Fox commentators and the Republican congresspersons striking on the tinder of the health care bill that has been carefully smoldering as the spark of outrage that ignites the righteous indignation of the masses. Why this right wing revolution? What happened to the left?
The left has been discredited at least since the end of world war 2. With the working class movement of the 50’s it could at least thrive in the labor movement but in the 60’s when the hippies came out against the war, labor went to the right, labor defended the defense jobs and the workers remembered the patriotic war against the Nazis and they thought these kids were bums. They didn’t make the connection and the New Left and the New Communist movement never were able to make inroads in labor. They had become the representatives of the youth and the minorities who were trying to steal the good jobs. They were blamed by the workers who were manipulated by cynical corrupt union bosses and the machinations of the bosses who saw nothing better than to see the workers turned against the students and their own children.
In the 60’s southern whites were taken from the Democrats as revenge against giving blacks civil rights. White southerners have been Republican ever since, despite the fact that the Republicans is the party of the hated Yankees. But since the 70’s that old Yankee faction of the Republican party has been gutted and now what we have is a born again Republican party of the south and west. They represent the white resistance to liberal progressivism. It is not anti-technology, just anti-social liberalism. Technology in their hands is a tool for making war, making babies and doing business. They manage to be able to be anti science when science goes against their cherished fundamentalist religion. But when it comes to exploiting the environment or coming up with a better bomb, they are all for technology. It is technology aimed as a weapon at the heart of nature and at all that is different. Technology to reinforce conformity, increase productivity and security. This is Prometheus on a short leash. These fundamentalists are afraid of the world and the future, they hope for the second coming before all hell breaks loose and they are sure hell is breaking loose all around them.
I can feel it inside me. It is like a snake this fascist beast. I see it in my coworkers who rail against unionized state workers who are making more money and get better benefits than they do and on their tax dollars, or so they think. They rail against anyone who is doing better except those who deserve to do better, the bosses, the movie stars, the ones their media have blessed. The ones their media have cursed they hate and displays of hate are becoming more and more common.
Trapped like rats on a sinking ship. That is the American White working class. They don’t see teachers and state workers as allies, no they see them as enemies taking their tax dollars. They see themselves as being trapped by the inexorable forces of capital, in doomed industries where the Chinese with their cheap labor are taking more and more market share and they have to work harder and harder for less. They growl and listen to Limbaugh blame the liberals, the Democrats, Obama, but they never want to blame the bosses, or the system itself. They blame Jewish bankers but not the financial system. They curse the debt they are in but not the reason for it. They cannot conceive that capitalism itself is the problem because they have been told the alternative communism doesn’t work and anarchy is well anarchy a dream.
This is how it went. In the 1930’s we had a near revolution. The communists were powerful the unions were ascending, people were out of work and were organizing. Roosevelt saw the writing on the wall and began a series of social programs to by time and to buy off some of the workers and leave the rest with enough hope so they would not revolt. Then came the war and the Nazis gave everyone a boost. The war ended the depression and they got rid of enough excess capacity to prime the pump of the economy for another 20 or 30 years. The War brought about worker discipline, the most active were sent overseas and got shot. Women and blacks got jobs, for the first time in a major way. When the war ended the men were sent off to college, or given back jobs, women were sent home to have babies and blacks resisted being sent back to the country. The civil rights movement took off. Labor was allowed to prosper as long as they got rid of the pesky commies in the ranks. The 50’s saw labor prosperity and repression of the left that had led the labor movement in the 30’s and 40’s.
In the 60’s the babies born after the war when all those women went home came of age. They had been raised in prosperity and times of rising expectations. They grew up as Spock Babies and they thought the world was their oyster. The bosses encouraged them to become consumers and fashionistas. Somewhere in there the CIA gave one too many patients an acid trip and the stuff became an underground sensation. The youth wanted the world and they got pot and acid and heroin and cocaine. They were turned off to the bread and butter struggles of their parents and by the time they got serious about making a living it was too late, the labor movement was co-opted and then crushed. Communism was crushed, capitalism reigned supreme and the youth as they grew to middle age turned inward or to splinter identity politics. The French theory of deconstructionism became the ideology of the day and all of a sudden there were no more absolutes. There was no more good or bad, only relativity. Capitalism became good, chasing the buck became the only dream worth following and one scheme after another was foisted on these lost souls who had no sense of solidarity, no class consciousness, nothing but a desire to emulate the rich that they saw on TV. It is a miracle that any value has survived this period at all.
Some out of desperation clung to that crutch old time religion. And with a fervor many of these well educated youth became mind numbed born again Christians waving their hands in the air in Pentecostal paroxysms of relief just to believe in something. Even if it is babbling in tongues. And we have reached the 21st century with a technologically sophisticated world of babbling idiots with no sense of history or class or place. They are in the cloud of the internet waiting for the second coming to make them void where prohibited, which is anywhere the real world might intrude. Enough of my ranting, if you don’t get my point by now then I am going to have to try again another time.

Reading The Red Army Faction Volume 1

Monday, March 22nd, 2010

This is my alternative to the Bible. I go back and forth, I am in the middle of the Book of Job and found this Book about the RAF at the Anti-war rally last weekend. I had just seen the movie Baader Meinhoff Complex and was reminded of what it felt like to be a fire breathing radical. I was a very short step away from picking up the gun myself in the late 70’s and early 80’s. I even went so far as to get a .45 automatic and a Navy Seal Dagger. I used to walk around San Francisco with that dagger strapped to my belt. But I got rid of that stuff when I became a family man and since then weapons and I have parted company.
I have taken a non violent position and when I have seen comrades like some of the local Anarchists pick up guns and get busted for carrying weapons, I have been critical. I have taken the position that weapons are both premature, but they also may be out dated means of wining an argument. Once a gun is pulled that is the end of the argument for any sober person. I was drunk last time I argued with someone who pulled a gun on me. Some gang kids in Loisada wanted all my money and I wanted them to leave me with cab fare. They thought I was a crazy white man for arguing when I had a pistol stuck in my balls, but I was thinking about the long walk to the upper east side if I didn’t have cab fare. The finally agreed to let me keep enough money for the subway. I guess I wore them down or they figured if I was too drunk to be scared then they would have to shoot me or let me keep some money. I didn’t have to walk home that night. If I had a gun on me, it could have ended up sadly instead of on a humorous note.
Generally I am opposed to guns because they end conversations by giving a person a false sense of power and more importantly a gun removes you from reality. It makes you no longer just one human interacting with another. A gun makes you an extension of itself. You become an explosive delivery device. If that is what you want to be, then a gun is a good way to go about becoming a dangerous device. But when the revolution is upon us. and there are hard choices to make, I am not sure my winning trickster personality will convince the powers that are about to not be, will let me be without putting a hole in my head. But that is a risk that is taken by every honest person who is determined to stand up and speak the truth to power. But is that truth more powerful when it is coming from the barrel of a gun? Or does that naked power without the guilelessness that comes with appealing to your enemies better nature turn it to its evil twin, simply the exercise of force.
I am thinking of the example of the Jewish people. When they were disarmed and simply living among people they were dependent upon the good nature of their hosts. Through history Jews have been oppressed, they have had the moral high ground and they have been exemplary models of people who have persevered despite adversity. But then the Germans took the whole persecution of Jews too far, they decided that Jews were like cockroaches, something to be exterminated. The world turned a blind eye and allowed it to happen. It was an accident of the war that the allies liberated the survivors in the camps at the end of the war. There was no morality on the part ot the west in defeating the Nazis, it was a matter of political survival to defeat the Nazis. It had nothing to do with saving the Jews. That was a simple felicitous turn of fate.
Now the world was guilty. Now Jews wanted to say never again. Never again would Jews be victims and they were able to leverage a nation state out of the debris of the war. But again this was seen as a convenience in the west. Instead of trying to reintegrate Jews into a Europe that had so recently proven to be so willing to condone the extermination of the Jews, it became convenient to let the Jews simply become somebody else’s problem. They were schlepped off on Palestine. Let them sort it out with the Arabs. Let them sink or swim in a sea of people who were not Europeans and thus not our problem as far a the rest of the world was concerned.
But the Jews thrived. They turned out to be as tough as cockroaches. They kicked Arab butt, kicked British Imperial butt and with the help of Jewish people from America and the rest of the world, they were able to survive and thrive in Israel.
But now the Jews have become the oppressor. They have kicked out the Palestinians and if you read the Old Testament Yahweh tells the People of the Lord to exterminate the people who were inhabiting the promised land. That mentality which justified the Israelites conquering Canaan 3000 years ago, has been used through history to exterminate enemies such as the native Americans who were seen as Canaanites by some of the Christian settlers. Spanish Conquistadors gave the Natives a choice between conversion and slavery or death. Some choice, many chose death.
So what am I saying here? In my long winded way I am saying that guns and power, although they may be expedient and may even up the odds, even give you a superior position also means a loss of much of the moral high ground that you might have. But as I pointed out just because the Jews were the morally offended party in Nazi Germany, it did not make a bit of difference in the world except for some handwringing on the part of liberals with a sensitive nature.
Was the serendipitous result that Israel was reborn out of the smoke and flames of the gas chambers? Was it some sort of cosmic righting of a great wrong? Is there a deity up there who says oh shit that was really fucked up, I am going to tip the scales a little in favor of my chosen people? That is what a lot of fundamentalist Christians believe, some variation of that. I don’t know if any Jewish people are that gullible.
I could use the example of the Polish people and their relationship with the Russians and Germans, or black people and whites, or Native Americans and Europeans. Anyone who has been oppressed and then finds the tables turned by some twist of fate and is now in control of the gun, do they remember and learn or do they simply play the part of the oppressor. What happened in the Soviet Union when the Communists gained the upper hand? And now that the capitalists are in the drivers seat, as they have been for about 200 years, what about the royalty and gentry who ruled before? Some of them morphed into capitalists, and some became poverty stricken Samurai attacking windmills.
Is there a historical process that is marching us forward towards the inevitable socialist paradise? If that is the case then groups like the Red Army Faction would be martyrs to the cause. Then any actions that move the world in the direction of the socialist future is working for the future. Just as the Christian fundamentalists see Israel as part of the historical process that leads to the rapture and salvation and the second coming of Jesus, for Communists any move to the dictatorship of the proletariat is a move in the direction of fulfilling the purpose of man dialectically. I am deliberately mixing religious and political terminology because they both come out of the same tradition. They both have a millennial end of times goal of salvation. One is heaven on earth and the other is earth going to heaven.
Practically speaking what is important, is that the cadre, the believers are motivated to pursue the good cause, the truth, the goal, whatever you want to call it. But motivation is essential. The carrot must be held up to keep that nose firmly planted in the work. Spiritualists say it doesn’t matter what path you choose as long as you choose a path and follow it diligently. From their viewpoint they all lead to the same place. That same place if we look at it cynically is death. We all die and then our efforts cease.
So what is the value of our efforts if they all end in the grave? Must we for the sake of appearances make an effort, for the children’s sake? That rings hollow if all we are doing is digging our way into a grave or a funeral pyre. So what do we do? Go out with a blaze, firing a machine gun at all the perceived enemies in the world? Are we to chase our shadows like a dog chasing its tail? Will the revolution be televised and will we see ourselves on the tube as we go out in a fiery episode of our favorite adventure story, mine! That is if we have not become so alienated that we no longer even see ourselves as the protagonist of our own lives.
Alienation is a motherfucker. Narcissism is deadly. It leads to inaction. So how do we find a way out. Well as the spiritualists say find a path and then follow it. This path may not be one that anyone else happens to be taking. It may be a lonely track in the desert. Or it may be a freeway in LA with backed up traffic. It is not quite as pointless as Sisyphus and his rock. But it does have elements of that. There is no guarantee that the path leads anywhere. Gurus will tell you that they have a path that will take you where you want to go. But that may only be where they want to go. Some paths demand a group effort. You cannot build a communist society on your own. What would be the point? On the other hand you can seek personal liberation from karma without depending on a crowd of associates. It depends on what path you take and where you are going. The problem is that we don’t know where we are going. We only know what path we are on at the moment we are on it.
The Red Army Faction founders became martyrs to the revolutionary struggle for communism and as long as people value that goal they will be heroes. They gave their lives for the cause and if you believe in it then there is no higher service you can give to your fellow man and they should be honored for that. Were they right? Who knows? In a century they might be seen as prophets, or they might be totally forgotten and Jesus might be reigning for his thousand year Reich. I can’t tell you which is true. I can only tell you that when you pick up the stick of life you get the clean and the dirty end at the same time. So throw it to the dog and teach him to fetch.
But I am happy that we are at least starting on providing health care as a right for all in America. Now if we can get over this gun fetish or get on with the revolution and develop a people’s militia. That is the alternative to the guerrilla. An honest people’s militia of young and old communist, socialist and anarchist all standing together and armed to the teeth ready to face down the forces of fascism and evil wherever they dare to appear. Sort of an anti-right wing militia. But this is what happened in Germany just before the Nazi take over, the left and the right armed and the right beat the left to the punch.
I don’t know if we have the cohunes to stand up and form a force of fighters but if we don’t then we might as well become like the victims of the Nazis praying that someone out there cares. Fat chance of that.

Health Insurance Showdown, House Passed Senate Bill.

Sunday, March 21st, 2010

Political charades are being played out in Congress today. The final vote on health care reform is now down to the wire. I am watching CSPAN where there is live coverage of the House of Representatives debate, if this can be called a debate. It is a series of polemical arguments repeating ad nauseam the same positions over and over. Because the public option has been eliminated and all they are debating is whether or not the insurance companies will get a larger pool of patients or not. The benefit, perhaps the insurance companies will no longer be able to deny coverage eventually. The immediate benefit is that youth can stay on their parents plans for a few extra years. That should win the Democrats some of the youth vote.
The increase in PEL Grants and the government take over of student loans should make it more affordable for more persons who want to on to an University education. This also is a handout to the youth of America, especially middle and lower class youth who are being priced out of a university education because of spiraling costs and budget deficits that are forcing schools to cut back and raise fees.
What we are seeing work out is the conservative white establishment and their lackeys in the working classes twisting in the wind as people of other colors with different values gradually change the direction of the ship of state. This is the direction we were headed in 30 years or more ago, before the Reagan revolution of radical capitalists took over the state.
Now I am going to take a somewhat classical Marxist view. I think that what we have is a historical process here working out. There is a pendulum that swings first one way then the next but there is also a gradual movement in a direction, sort of a spiral movement to increased recognition of interdependency as the population pressure on the planet increases the need for wealth redistribution to prevent an increased outbreak of violent revolt. The ruling classes try to clamp down the expectations of the people on the one hand while they try and come up with measures that will allow them to retain power while not having to give up too much to the mass of the people.
Because of the extent of the bailout for the financiers, the Democrats have to come up with something that shows there is some concern for the average citizen. That is the health care bill. Without that there is only the bail out for the rich. That would be politically devastating for the so called party of the people. Now we know that there is no real benefit for the average person, there is only a shell game, a bait and switch. The senate bill taxes the good benefits of union workers to help pay for the new benefits for the uninsured. The House version that would have taxed the rich seems to have disappeared. There is no public plan that would give the government real power to influence the insurance companies.
It is interesting that the Republicans are calling simply for no change. The Insurance companies win with no change, They also win with change. The Democratic plan or the Republican plan, both work for the Insurance companies. Real reform, like what the government is doing with student loans, is not happening with health care. It is interesting that the banks and loan associations that have been controlling student loans were out maneuvered but the insurance companies were not. Is this is because Obama slipped it in before there was time for resistance to be organized? I think not. This was a result of some back room deal. Essentially the banks were told that this was part of the cost of getting the government bailout and they seem to have gone along with little resistance.
This insurance bill is a mole hill that is being touted as a mountain. There is very little reform here. So this kabuki theatre being played out is over incremental changes. The Republicans presented us with a great rhetorical defense of freedom of choice, when the only choice they are defending is the freedom of the corporate interests to act without restriction. The only change that the bill offers is one that says we are all in this together when it comes to health care. That is good. It is only sad that we have to bribe the insurance companies with more fees to get them to do the right thing. They should be simply driven out of business but then I am in favor of socialism. This is a far cry from that. It is simply more capitalist muddling in the fields of reality. But this is what we have in America. The Senate Bill has passed. What about the reconciliation to fix the Senate bill mess? Reconciliation passes. Lets see what the Senate does to that over the course of the week.

Local Politics

Saturday, March 20th, 2010

China is getting ready to take out Japan. This is a matter of pride and revenge. People in the west barely remember things like the Rape of Nanking and the years of the Japanese invasion of China. But the Chinese remember and they keep tabs. The Chinese remember every slight from the past couple of centuries when the western powers lorded over China. They are not particularly vicious or cruel. They just have long memories and they will extract their pound of flesh from Japan. But as it has been said revenge is a dish best served cold. They have time and economics on their side. All they have to do is wait for the American commitment to protect Japan to waver, and then they will make their move.
The Japanese know this and they are just about shitting in their pants worried that the USA might be overextended with these wars in Afghanistan and Iraq. That is one reason why the Japanese are buying up American debt. They want to make sure good old spend thrift Uncle Sam appreciates the help from their little buddies in the Orient, to rephrase a line from the Skipper in Gilligan’s Island. The Japanese know that short of remilitarizing in a hurry, there is little they can do to stop China so they need the American Nuke shield and even though domestically that is not popular, the Japanese ruling classes know what side of the loaf their bread is buttered on and that is in the hands of the Americans.
Once China asserts itself, the Japanese are afraid it will be with a vengeance and they are only hoping for a few more generations of time to pass expecting the Chinese to mellow out with capitalist prosperity and loose that desire for revenge. Money they hope will trump face.
As someone who admires India and its spiritual traditions a lot and the Communist Chinese only a little, and the Japanese Capitalists not at all, I can only say the USA had better be aware of its role as peace keeper in the world and as it withdraws from that advanced strategic position in the orient and Europe, that it prepares for some radical changes as the Chinese exert their dominance in Asia. India, is in no position to challenge that and if the USA is playing the India card in the hopes that the worlds’ largest democracy will come out swinging if China makes a move on Japan, well I think American policy makers need to be disabused of any illusions there. India is barely capable of keeping Pakistan in check and would be quickly beaten if China made a serious assault. Israel is interestingly enough more of a protector of India than the USA is, and Russia is always a presence to be felt and a long time friend of the Indians that goes back to the days of the great game when Great Britain was the oppressor and Russia was in the side lines waiting to offer succor. Russia stands like a great shadow over all of central Asia waiting for another opportunity to regain what it was forced by the west to divest from its empire with the collapse of the Soviet Union.
The Russians have a long memory too. But unlike the Chinese they have no great beef with anyone except perhaps the USA. And that is more of a friendly rivalry than anything. They know we are top dog right now and they don’t have the good luck Americans have. Their land is tougher and harder to pull the wealth out of. But the Russians are not to be discounted. They want respect, a place at the table more than anything else. They don’t want to be reminded of how far they have fallen.
Dreaming of revolution doesn’t make it happen. We are caught in the undertow if great currents that sweep us out to sea and throw us back upon the beach. But as they say where there is movement there is life and where there is life there is hope.
Look at the Greeks. They have a socialist government tasked to bring capitalist austerities to the people. That is a betrayal of the peoples’ desires. It engenders rebellion. That rebellion is a spark that may send shock waves across Europe and across the world. Or it may be doused by the repressive forces that still remain loyal to capital. We shall see.

LA Antiwar Protests ETC

Saturday, March 20th, 2010

I went to the protest today in Hollywood. Small turnout only a few thousand people. It was weird being on Hollywood Blvd. in front of Grauman’s Chinese Theatre with all the wannabe super heroes posing with the tourists and our band of scraggly anarchists and communists and 911 truthers and Ron Paul or is that Rue Paul followers all protesting the war in Afghanistan and Iraq. This is something that most Americans barely are even aware of. This is seven years after the invasion of Iraq and we are still there. It was sort of pathetic, watching the same people make speeches that made speeches seven years ago. Do the Repubocrats care? Not a bit. We are not even a blip on the radar.
I did get to rehash some arguments over when the Russian Revolution failed and why with some Marxists. I always enjoy that. I can out commie almost any of them. I picked up a great book on the Red Army Fraction that some anarchists were selling. I had to go to an ATM they didn’t take plastic. The Irony of asking a cop where an ATM was while he guarded the inner sanctum of consumerism, the mall on Hyland and Hollywood struck me with every step I took in that labyrinthine structure. Each step was taking me further away from revolutionary solidarity and another back into the fold of modern consumerism. I finally found a Bank Of America machine and withdrew the cash I needed. As usual the anarchist gave me more money back that the face value of the book. Right on brother!
Then I watched a punk band called Mass Murder play some pretty decent hard core in the middle of Hollywood Blvd. Some kids formed a mosh pit and slammed on the pavement while the cops looked on from a block away. Nobody was up for property damage. This was a peaceful protest. But the music got my blood up and I felt some passion in my cojones and thought man, this is fucked up. This was a gnat up against a mega-machine, while most people when on about their touristing oblivious, perhaps even thinking this was part of the normal Hollywood weirdness, something cute for their vacation stories when they got back home.
I don’t feel rage, I don’t feel complacency, the whole edifice could come down tomorrow. Lots of us are rooting for its collapse. But too many good people are still sold on it. Hell even I go to work every week day, and I get there early. I don’t like it but I have no illusions. Until the mass of people are fed up and the army refuses to fight, we are stuck. A few piss ant radicals blowing smoke about the revolution won’t make it happen. When people are pissed, really pissed it will happen. Until then we just have to suck it up and take it or get our asses killed in some foolish premature adventurism. But we should be prepared. Have our blades sharpened if that is what we use, and be ready when the time comes. I have been waiting most of my life. I guess I can wait a little longer.

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