My "big fundamental" is that being _left_ means working for a more egalitarian, democratic society, but also for fairness, not ethnic or other kinds of favoritism. Because the left has turned away from fairness it is lost and unpopular. I'm a small voice hoping to push the left back toward its basics and its natural popularity.

Saturday, December 01, 2007

Shut up! (Cuban Heel edition).

Shut up! (Cuban Heel edition).

Sun Dec 04, 2005 at 07:32:18 AM PST

Blogs, in many ways, are contentious versions of the larger world, so it probably shouldn't be a suprise that so-called "community" blogs reflect the tendency that we humans, as a herd species, have of demanding a common conformity and uniform direction of "rogues" who don't follow the direction of the herd.

Many of us didn't want this to be so, myself included. There was something exciting about large "communities" like Daily Kos when I first found it, and the addition of diaries served to make it seem more like a real community, but without all that pressure to dress like everyone else or go to the same restaurant, like we have to deal with in the meat world.

Of course, without superficial things for people to build cliques around, they found other things, and as that blog (and others of the big boy bloggers) became more closely alligned as a "netroots" army aimed at helping the Democratic Party, those cliques began to enforce a MESSAGE conformity. The latest version of this went up last night at DK, with the usual bullying and use of the silly rating system to try to use community shunning to reinforce group behavior.

There are some topics that are targeted for particular bullying, downrating and "banning" (how far we've come from the days when people were led to the edge of the village and cast into the wilderness). We're supposed to accept, I guess, that those topics are the very same ones that the feckless Democratic Leadership in Washington LEAST wants to deal with: vote tampering in the 2004 (and 2000!) election; abortion; the outsized influence that the Israeli right and AIPAC have on our government; questions about September 11 and whether there was complicity on the part of the Bush Administration.

This is dangerous, especially on the part of a blog that has become, THANKS TO ITS READERS, one of the biggest destinations on the internet for politics. It is especially dangerous when the "opposition" party is seemingly unwilling or unable to actually oppose a criminal regime that is destroying the very underpinnings of our government and our society. As the party toward the left abandons women to the vagaries of patriarchical religious nuts; as it abandons black Americans to vote suppression & the floodwaters of neglect; as it kow-tows to Likud and AIPAC along with the Republicans; as it continues to refuse to confront the very real fact that the Republicans failed badly on 9/11 and it's aftermath ... the need to confront these questions has never been higher.

There has been crowing over the last year, since Kerry punted the run, that sites like daily Kos participate on conference calls with party leaders. They tell us that the site can have an influence, that the netroots can be a power, but there are certain ways that are acceptable to exert that power. We can send money ... always more money ... piles and bats and rising thermometers of money. We can pepper the media and DC offices with emails, faxes and phone calls, preferably with a general script designed after those conference calls.

Phone calls with ELECTED officials should not be sources of talking points to be vomited out in pixels hours later. They should be used to question those officials, and press them to be more responsive to the needs of the people. Of course, if that happened, there is a chance there wouldn't be anymore calls. One could argue that the heady feeling of having that brief connection, that access, might lead some to avoid hard questions, and to put pressure on others to avoid hard questions too, again in the fear of losing that "insider" connection. Nagging doubts that the calls may serve only to manufacture consent are pushed out of mind:

In totalitarian societies where there's a Ministry of Truth, propaganda doesn't really try to control your thoughts. It just gives you the party line. It says, "Here's the official doctrine; don't disobey and you won't get in trouble. What you think is not of great importance to anyone. If you get out of line we'll do something to you because we have force." Democratic societies can't work like that, because the state is much more limited in its capacity to control behavior by force. Since the voice of the people is allowed to speak out, those in power better control what that voice says--in other words, control what people think. One of the ways to do this is to create political debate that appears to embrace many opinions, but actually stays within very narrow margins. You have to make sure that both sides in the debate accept certain assumptions--and that those assumptions are the basis of the propaganda system. As long as everyone accepts the propaganda system, the debate is permissible.

Oh, wait, I just quoted Chomsky. That will get me labeled as a nut or conspiracy theorist or some kind of purist. See how it works? As I presumably want people to listen to what I say, I might be better served to quote someone approved by the party and the mainstream media, say a consultant or pundit or pollster. In fact, if I were to do so, I might get some "mojo" and other digital pats-on-the-head, and the feeling of belonging will doubtless fill my heart with glee. "They like me, they really, really like me!"

Well, that's not what motivates my blogging, and I think it's not what motivates the blogging of a lot of people disturbed by what our herd has become, frightened by the cliff we are heading toward. However, the increasing willingness on the part of some to try to meet the expectations of the poobahs in DC, the self-censorship and imposition of virtual speech codes will bleed the blogs of the very thing that makes them exciting, that makes them the descendents of the pamphleteers:

And yet, for all this...the pamphlets of the American Revolution that seek artistic effects are not great documents.

First and foremost, the American pamphleteers, though participants in a great tradition, were amateurs next to such polemicists as Swift and Defoe. Nowhere [were there writers who were]... capable, that is, of earning their living by their pens... [The closest were some of the printers, but other than Franklin they weren't principles in what was going on.]

The American pamphleteers were almost to a man lawyers, ministers, merchants, or planters heavily engaged in their regular occupations.

...it is this amateurism, this lack of practiced technique, that explains much of the crudeness of the Revolutionary pamphlets considered simply as literature.

But there is more than amateurism behind the relative crudeness of the artistic efforts in the American pamphlets. For if writers like Adams and Jefferson were amateur pamphleteers, their writings in other ways display formidable literary talents...The more deliberately artful writings were in a significant way -- for reasons that reach into the heart of the Revolutionary movement -- peripheral to the main lines of intellectual force developing through the period.

The American writers were profoundly reasonable people. Their pamphlets convey scorn, anger, and indignation; but rarely blind hate, rarely public fear. They sought to convince their opponents, not like the English pamphleteers of the eighteenth century, to annihilate them.

The Americans had allies in the Parliament in England. Suppose these allies had been able to convince the passionate writers who fed the fertile soil for change to be less confrontational. What if they had been convinced by those allies to be more "moderate", to only print pre-approved "facts" (and leaving the definition of 'fact' to those with a vested interest in the status quo)? Would there have BEEN a Revolution? Would we have the government the Republicans are now destroying if hadn't been for tracts of sometimes intemperate language?

It is true that there are plenty of other outlets than the big community blogs. It's true that the master of the site has a right to set the rules in his own house, but is it wise when one claims to be operating an open forum with the goal of creating a movement for reform? Especially when such a site becomes shorthand in the mainstream media for "liberal blogs"? There is little "liberal" about the front page of dailyKos, and it certainly doesn't speak to any liberal values that I hold. It is a center-right party organ, with a little ghetto of sometimes liberal diaries that are tolerated AS LONG AS THEY STAY WITHIN THE RULES. Sounds like just what Chomsky described, doesn't it?

Speech codes seek to pummel people into conformity, and conformity is a poor soil for the growing of freedom.

Liberal Street Fighter: Putting out fire with gasoline

Wednesday, October 03, 2007

Alan Greenspan _and_David Sirota, Immigration Assholes

David Sirota – in his Huffington Post Greenspan Says Solution to Inequality is to Lower U.S. Wages – highlights a statement by Alan Greenspan from a long interview recently on Democracy Now (no, I don't know why Democracy Now is providing a megaphone to America's No. 1 enemy of its working class):

Listen to the former Chairman of the Federal Reserve 39 minutes into this clip for his solution to America’s economic problems going forward [emphasis added by Sirota]:

"We ought to be opening up our borders to skilled labor from all parts of the world because if we were to do that we would increase the supply of skilled workers that our schools have been unable to create and as a consequence of that we would lower the average wage of skills and reduce the degree of income inequality in this country."

But Sirota is also an a$hole based on the following, his entire reaction to Greenspan (my emphasis):

Beyond his dishonest trumpeting of the Great Education Myth, notice that Greenspan's solution to economic inequality in America is to drive down the wages of the dwindling number of good-paying jobs that remain, by importing more foreign workers who have no basic rights to bargain for good wages, and who are thus paid much less than American workers in the same jobs.

Alan Greenspan: One of the truly great class warriors of his time.

(h/t Progressive Geek)

David, DAVID, DAVID!! No, wages don’t increase simply with a right to organize. Look at labor history 101, Dave, unionization rates for legal workers have been plummeting for decades. Unionization and union wages in the real world require more than the right to organize, you need labor shortages. You know the real solution, don't you Dave, but you just can't politically correctly say it . . .

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Bobby Kennedy and Cesar Chavez, a strong opponent of illegal immigrant labor.

Cesar Chavez knew how to get and defend unionization; his union succeeeded by the 1970s in organizing much of U.S. agribusiness. But that was a time when illegal immigration had slowed to a trickle. However, his union was eventually destroyed by a 1980s wave of immigrant workers willing to work for much less than union wages. Of course U.S. farmworkers maintained their right to join a union, but a lot of good it did them.

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Illegal immigrant percentages of U.S. job sectors

Across the country construction workers continue to have a right to join a union, but very few do anymore, because they immediately price themselves out of competition with a vast over-supply of non-union workers.

Or, hey, look at the only recent increase in union organizing: it happened in the late 90s during Clinton’s bubble economy when there were worker supply shortages.

So Dave, whose side are you on? The side of Cesar Chavez and the U.S. working class ... or is your side the corporations and their Latino elite buddies?

LAST QUESTION, Dave: would corporations support an easy track to legalization for the 11 to 20 million illegal immigrant workers in the U.S. if they thought those workers would quickly organize and get union-scale wages? OF course not, the corporations know that won’t happen. Instead, they know an over-supply of workers means the right to join a union will be meaningless because it won’t be used.

By the way, the CIS study linked to by Sirota (“paid much less”) focused on H-1B visa computer programmers. Some lowlights:

In spite of the requirement that H-1B workers be paid the prevailing wage, H-1B workers earn significantly less than their American counterparts. On average, applications for H-1B workers in computer occupations were for wages $13,000 less than Americans in the same occupation and state.

Wages for H-1B workers in computer programming occupations are overwhelmingly concentrated at the bottom of the U.S. pay scale. Wages on LCAs [approved Labor Condition Applications] for 85 percent of H-1B workers were for less than the median U.S. wage in the same occupations and state.

A recent CIS editorial – subtitled As immigration enforcement takes hold, jobs begin to open up to less-skilled Americans – notes (what obvious supply-demand economic theory would predict) that recent anti-immigration enforcement measures …

… are improving the economic bargaining power of less-skilled American workers. The Rocky Mountain News reported that in Greeley, Colo., "the line of applicants hoping to fill jobs vacated by undocumented workers taken away by immigration agents at the Swift & Co. meat-processing plant . . . was out the door.

New England Cable News reported that only after a raid on a plant making leather goods for the military in New Bedford, Mass., were Americans and legal immigrants able to get hired. As one new employee said of the raid: "In a way, you know, it's sad, and then in a way it's good because at least it gives people that were not employed for so many years . . . a break to be able to work and support their families."

When illegal aliens were removed from a Crider Poultry plant in Stillmore, Ga., the Atlanta Journal Constitution and the Wall Street Journal documented the benefits to local workers. The plant raised wages significantly, began offering free shuttles from nearby towns and provided free rooms in a company-owned dormitory. For the first time, Crider sought applicants from the state unemployment office and began hiring probationers and men from a local homeless mission. And, as the Journal noted, "for the first time since significant numbers of Latinos began arriving in Stillmore in the late 1990s, the plant's processing lines were made up predominantly of African Americans."

Good news, right Dave, the Jerry Springer rabbl – I mean the working class and working poor – are already benefiting from decreased immigration! DOES NOT COMPUTE DEM POWER SAYS OPEN BORDERS GOOD DOES NOT COMPUTE NO ALTERNATIVE TO GLOBALIZED HELL DOES NOT COMPUTE WORKER PROTECTION GOOD? NO, MUST BE B-A- DOES NOT COMPUTE

By the way, CIS provides an army of less anecdotal studies demonstrating that the anecdotes reflect the truth: if you greatly increase worker supply then wages go down, and if you do the opposite wages go up.

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State by state locations of illegal immigrants

Monday, October 01, 2007

Iran Labels CIA 'Terrorist Organization'

Iran Labels CIA 'Terrorist Organization'

By ALI AKBAR DAREINI – 1 day ago

TEHRAN, Iran (AP) — Iran's parliament voted Saturday to designate the CIA and the U.S. Army as "terrorist organizations," a largely symbolic response to a U.S. Senate resolution seeking a similar designation for Iran's Revolutionary Guards.

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Abu Ghraib, assault by dogs, as the CIA instructions ordered

The parliament said the Army and the CIA were terrorists because of the atomic bombing of Japan; the use of depleted uranium munitions in the Balkans, Afghanistan and Iraq; support of the killings of Palestinians by Israel; the bombing and killing Iraqi civilians and the torture of imprisoned terror suspects.

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Warrant issued by Italy for the arrest of CIA officer Bob Lady

"The aggressor U.S. Army and the Central Intelligence Agency are terrorists and also nurture terror," said a statement by the 215 lawmakers who signed the resolution at an open session of the 290-member Iranian parliament. ...

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Husband and father killed by Abu Ghraib guards

While the [U.S. Senate resolution] attracted overwhelming bipartisan support, a small group of Democrats said they feared that labeling the state-sponsored organization a terrorist group could be interpreted as a congressional authorization of military action in Iran.

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Iran Prime Minister Mossadeqh, murdered by the CIA
Lebanon's senior Shiite Muslim cleric also criticized the Senate's resolution, saying Sunday that it amounted to "a war declaration" against Tehran.

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Iraq chaos, all sides funded at one time or another by the CIA

The "classification of Iran's Revolutionary Guard as a terrorist organization, even though it (the Guard) represents the Iranian army and is a major reserve of the Iranian armed forces, cannot be viewed except as a war declaration," Grand Ayatollah Mohammed Hussein Fadlallah, the top religious authority for Lebanon's 1.2 million Shiites, said in a statement.
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Syrian foreign minister asserts a CIA connection to the 2005 London bombings

Iran defense minister Mostafa Mohammad Najjar: "Today, the US army and CIA agents are trying to justify their illegitimate presence in the region through assassination, abduction and the massacre of innocent people, and through smuggling weapons and setting off explosions, while they accuse Iraq's neighbors of the crimes that they themselves commit."

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Terrorism instruction manual, CIA-supplied to the Nicaraguan contras

Other CIA crap, illustrated:

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The CIA assassinated Lumumba

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The CIA subverts democracy and funds a fake left; it has done so for over a half century.

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Illegal funder of Central American death squads, CIA-connected Negroponte is back!

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CIA enlisted the mafia to assassinate Fidel Castro.

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The CIA drugged individuals unawares with LSD, causing one suicide.

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To fund its illegal activities in Central America, the CIA aided crack imports to the U.S.

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The CIA organized and funded the Bay of Pigs invasion of Cuba.

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The CIA executed the 1954 coup in Guatemala, overthrowing the democratic government.

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The CIA spied on and harassed citizens who opposed the war in Vietnam.

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Y' got that right: "The CIA are state sponsored terrorists who perpetuate dirty tricks against any nation the US dislikes..."

Thursday, September 27, 2007

Kerouac: "all thru playing the American"


Poem written on a bus April 1954
from S. F. to New York

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EAST Society has good intentions Bureaucracy is like a friend

years ago - other furies other losses -

trying to control the uncontrollable Forest fires, Vice

essential smile In the essential sleep Of the children Of the essential mind

all thru playing the American
Now I'm going to live a good quiet life

world should be built for foot walkers

rivers Of spiney Nevady

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am Jake Cake
Write like Blake

horse is not pleased Sight of his
gorgeous finery
in the dust Its silken
did disgust

arent kind Kiddies arent sweet

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in Nevada - Investigating Dismal Cheyenne Where the war parties
In fields
of straw
Aimed over oxen At Indian Chiefs
In wild headdress Pouring thru
the gap
In Wyoming plain
To make the settlers
Eat more dust than dust
was eaten In the States From East at Seacoast Where wagons made up To dreadful
Of clazer vup

Anxious to masturbate The Mongol Sea (I'm too tired in Cheyenne -
No sleep in 4 nights now, & 2 to go)

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Jack Kerouac

Wednesday, September 26, 2007

'What religion tells you to occupy a country and kill its people?'

In that 'should be infamous' CBS 60 Minutes interrogation, near the end Scott Pelley, doing his best Abu Ghraib interrogator imitation, repeatedly and inanely badgers Ahmadinejad to say what he admires about Dear Leader Bush. Finally Ahmadinejad strikes back pretty f@#$kin brilliantly. Here's the transcript in case you missed it (emphasis added):

PELLEY: What trait do you admire in President Bush?

AHMADINEJAD: Again, I have a very frank tone. I think that President Bush needs to correct his ways.

PELLEY: What do you admire about him?

AHMADEINEJAD: He should respect the American people.

PELLEY: Is there anything? Any trait?
AHMADINEJAD: As an American citizen, tell me what trait do you admire?

PELLEY: Well, Mr. Bush is, without question, a very religious man, for example, as you are. I wonder if there's anything that you've seen in President Bush that you admire.

AHMADEINEJAD: Well, is Mr. Bush a religious man?

PELLEY: Very much so. As you are.

AHMADEINEJAD: What religion, please tell me, tells you as a follower of that religion to occupy another country and kill its people? Please tell me. Does Christianity tell its followers to do that? Judaism, for that matter? Islam, for that matter? What prophet tells you to send 160,000 troops to another country, kill men, women, and children?

You just can't wear your religion on your sleeve or just go to church. You should be truthfully religious. Religion tells us all that you should respect the property, the life of different people. Respect human rights. Love your fellow man.

And once you hear that a person has been killed, you should be saddened. You shouldn't sit in a room, a dark room, and hatch plots. And because of your plots, many thousands of people are killed.

Having said that, we respect the American people. And because of our respect for the American people, we respectfully talk with President Bush. We have a respectful tone.

But having said that, I don't think that that is a good definition of religion. Religion is love for your fellow man, brotherhood, telling the truth.

[Oh my gawd what will our boy Pelley say as a comeback to _that_?]

PELLEY : I take it you can't think of anything you like about President Bush.

AHMADEINEJAD [finally dismisses the stupid question]: Well, I'm not familiar with the gentleman's private life. ...

By the way, in case many of you aren't fully aware of Bush's planned criminality, the U.S. is planning "Full Spectrum" Mass Murder Against Iran. What we plan is reported here pretty clearly:

Study: US preparing 'massive' military attack against Iran. The neocons rationalize that just attacking Iran's supposed nuclear facilities will leave Iran too many options for counterattack. Besides the fact that the basic 'problem' for the neocons and Israel is that Iran is an economically powerful and united state. Here is an excerpt from the article:

The paper, "Considering a war with Iran: A discussion paper on WMD in the Middle East" - written by well-respected British scholar and arms expert Dr. Dan Plesch, Director of the Centre for International Studies and Diplomacy of the School of Oriental and African Studies (SOAS) at the University of London, and Martin Butcher, a former Director of the British American Security Information Council (BASIC) and former adviser to the Foreign Affairs Committee of the European Parliament - was exclusively provided to RAW STORY late Friday under embargo.

"We wrote the report partly as we were surprised that this sort of quite elementary analysis had not been produced by the many well resourced Institutes in the United States," wrote Plesch in an email to Raw Story on Tuesday.

Plesch and Butcher examine "what the military option might involve if it were picked up off the table and put into action" and conclude that based on open source analysis and their own assessments, the US has prepared its military for a "massive" attack against Iran, requiring little contingency planning and without a ground invasion.

The study concludes that the US has made military preparations to destroy Iran's WMD, nuclear energy, regime, armed forces, state apparatus and economic infrastructure within days if not hours of President George W. Bush giving the order. The US is not publicising the scale of these preparations to deter Iran, tending to make confrontation more likely. The US retains the option of avoiding war, but using its forces as part of an overall strategy of shaping Iran's actions.

* Any attack is likely to be on a massive multi-front scale but avoiding a ground invasion. Attacks focused on WMD facilities would leave Iran too many retaliatory options, leave President Bush open to the charge of using too little force and leave the regime intact. ...

... Plesch and Butcher dispute conventional wisdom that any US attack on Iran would be confined to its nuclear sites. Instead, they foresee a "full-spectrum approach," designed to either instigate an overthrow of the government or reduce Iran to the status of "a weak or failed state."

Monday, September 24, 2007

blathertown, noalternativeland

I wanna waste a fuckofalot of time and blather on and on about the stuff near the end of the following blatheringmoron comment:

isn't part of the point that the US is not only discombobulating the fuck out (5.60 / 5)

of Iraq, but that it's also discombobulated the fuck out of the US?

Don't recall the exact quote, but it's at the end of the Shock Doctrine film....about the best way to survive the shock treatment is to be aware of what is going on.

But the subtext, for me at least, is the contrast between what is going on in the leftwing blogosphere and that statement. I think you can hardly deny that leftwing bloggers -- whatever else most of them may or may not be--are some of the most informed of American citizens, esp when it comes to sham government and corporate involvement therein. We are the ones most acutely aware of what is happening.

So we sit around wasting time on petty squabbles and personality cult issues in what we'd all have to agree has been a pretty ineffectual "movement" in terms of getting anything done.

Seriously, what have we really "accomplished" here? Aside from wasting a fuckofalot of time, blathering on and on about nothing. (I include myself in the broadstroke condemnation).

Is this just a coping mechanism?

Is it the only thing we can come up with in our sham-shocked state of paralysis?

Sometimes I think so.

by blatheringmoron @ Sun Sep 23, 2007 at 09:41:42 AM PDT

Well, I think you're right at the end there, except for the "sometimes" part. Let me splain ya.

There are roughly two reasons why somebody who really wanted 'TO DO SOMETHING' would come to an in-fact lefty blog like this:

1. Cuz he/she hadn't figured out what the hell was exactly was wrong with the US and/or how the hell exactly to fix what he/she knows is wrong. Confusion by confusion, a 'DO SOMETHING' lefty blog would argue and discuss and throw around evidence and ideas till it got reasonably close to best answers.

2. Shehe has got "1." basically right but can't figure out the power thing, how to marshall forces and create the real world changes that we've all figured out need to be accomplished real soon.

3. Figuring out the facts of the relationship between 1. and 2.

By and large, I don't see any of that here, or at myleftwing, or at booman, or much of anywhere. Essentially, even here, we have a self-selected group comfortable with the 'fact' that on no major issue is the let's say Dennis Kucinich position wrong. On "2" above, I think the consensus position is that there is no hope, so why contemplate the gory details. As for "3" that would've involved working on either or both "2" and "1".

The left will need to rethink or just compromise on its standard 'Kucinich' positions (not that I ain't probably gonna vote for him) if it is to have any success at "2" above. I think it's obvious, despite it never being discussed, that the compromise would involve the 'white working class' and its 'special interests'. Here or anywhere else 'lefty' we haven't taken even the first step toward figuring out what to do about that, in other words about "3" above. I tried to with The U.S. Power Matrix & An Immigration Test but got ignored at boomantribune and at politicalfleshfeast (by everyone except David Byron), and got the politically correct and racism-tinged 'misunderstanding' and abuse treatment at myleftwing.

Not that immigration is the heart and soul of the change and compromise the left needs to make in order to create a winning AND LEFTIST (it's not about dkos-DNC compromises) electoral coalition, there's a lot of other hard work to do too, populist work. But there's no taste for that here. Yup, we're in blathertown, noalternativeland.

Tuesday, November 07, 2006

I mostly blog on dailykos these days

At http://www.dailykos.com/user/fairleft

Hey, I hope that's alright. Get a response there, not much of one here.

Thursday, June 08, 2006

U.S.-India Nuke Deal & [Not] 'Great Game'

The following (minus minor editing) was written in response to a tpmcafe.com post by Michael Levi called "Debating the U.S.-India Nuclear Deal":

On June 7, 2006 - 10:12am fairleft said:

Excuse me for pointing out the obvious, but the nuclear deal with India once again shows that nuclear weapons nonproliferation is not an important US policy goal except when it can be caboosed onto the Great Game (the 100 years competition by outside powers to dominate the Middle East and Central Asia, the world’s primary gas and oil region). So, from merely a PR perspective the timing of the deal _could_ be better, when the US seems ready to go to war with NPT signee Iran over its nuclear _energy_ program.

And, you don't have to read Robert Kagan too closely to understand how excited Beltway schemers are about making new moves in the Great Game: "Imagine that this powerful, prosperous, democratic nation sits on the same continent with Russia and China, two huge geopolitical problems waiting to happen. Imagine that this nation possesses a navy capable of helping patrol strategically vital waterways and a military force capable of acting as a deterrent against powerful neighbors."

So the concept is to sign up India to ally with the US and against China and Russia, make it dependent on US supplied energy (which we ‘promise’ to keep flowing) with no overland energy connections to any ‘bad’ countries allowed, enlist it in miltary adventures or intimidation against 'powerful neighbors', and in exchange we allow it to develop nuclear weapons to its heart's content.

It would be better for all to go a different direction, and let the Great Game to die. Let's call the whole immoral thing off, let the Middle East and Central Asia control their own energy resources, and rationally share (whoever pays the most gets the oil) the world’s remaining oil and gas in a conservation-oriented, peaceful future. This future will probably be imposed on the US eventually anyway, but why not get ahead of the game and save some lives and weapons expenditures? I know Central Asia, the Middle East, China and Russia (and probably India) would jump at such a deal, and right now on terms the US might like. The only centers of power this alternative future might be hard on are militaries and war industries...

[I replied to my own comment with the following:]
On June 7, 2006 - 10:32am fairleft said:
Asia Times' M K Bhadrakumar writes very knowledgeably on this topic in "'The Great Game' comes to South Asia":

"... The ultimate nightmare for US regional policy would be if the SCO were to grant full membership to Iran, Pakistan and India. Iran is manifestly keen on SCO [Shanghai Cooperation Organization] membership. So is Pakistan....

"The US strategic thinking remains obsessed with minimizing the Russian and Chinese presence in Central Asia. The strategy is fundamentally flawed in so far as it lacks the dynamism and creativity that can only come out of positive energy. It overlooks what is apparent to the naked eye.

"The US, in effect, having lost its petty squabbles and having been slighted time and again in the Central Asian capitals, has evacuated itself to South Asia, bringing with it the entire baggage of the Great Game. From the South Asian perspective, Washington may prove to be putting spokes in the wheel of the region's promising cooperation with the SCO."

Tuesday, June 06, 2006

Are Minutemen Leaders the Real Left?

I thought the following was one of my best summaries of some of the problems the politically correct 'left' has with immigration. Give the provocative title a break, by the way, I'm not _really_ saying that about the Minutemen. Anyway, it's a response to a portion of "A Guided Tour of Class War" by Tom Engelhardt of Tomdispatch.com, an interview with Barbara Ehrenreich that I found on Alternet.org.

R Minutemen Leaders The Real Left?
Posted by: fairleft on Jun 6, 2006 8:48 AM
BE: ... the [Minutemen] leaders talked a very big anti-corporate line: The corporations are crushing us, we're the real Americans, and so forth. In their minds, the immigrants are part of the thing that's crushing them...

And the Minutemen leaders are right, illegal immigrants willing to put up with low-wages and terrible benefits and working conditions, causes a race to the bottom and forces the whole working class to accept those conditions or not have jobs. Besides the fact that mass immigration creates terrible over-supply-of-labor conditions for organizing unions. The simple solution: heavily fine and throw employers in jail for employing illegal immigrants. The _only_ reason it is impossible for BE to say this is because she knows it would damage her pseudo-left heroine career.

On the other hand it is very easy for her to say the following:

BE: "If you were going to take on the immigration issue seriously, you'd have to look at what NAFTA did to the economy and agriculture for working-class Mexicans. Much of the immigration stuff is standard scapegoating. I mean, we're not going to begin to get at the problem until we take a serious look at the economies of the countries that are exporting people."

Well, what business is it of the US left, which I would think is non-imperialist, to tell Mexico how to manage its economy? Mexico can pull out of NAFTA, and I hope it does, but that's _their_ business. We Americans can _easily_ protect our economy from a damaged Mexican economy by simply doing what I outlined in the previous paragraph. This is 2 + 2 = 4 stuff.

So why is it the Minutemen talk better economic sense than Barbara Ehrenreich and the best and brightest of the pseudo-left? We all had better learn in a hurry, or we're in for more of the same, more of the Clinton-era pro-NAFTA Democratic Party, more of the current anti-US-working-class, pro-illegal-immigration pseudo-left. The American working poor and working class need real help, and that stuff is only causing more pain.

Monday, April 03, 2006

Neoliberalism & Immigration Hurt US Workers

The following, with minor modifications, was a response to an article by Maria Louisa Tucker,"The zero-sum game of immigration economics" which largely consisted of an interview with a mainstream economist saying immigration has little effect on the US economy.

Mainstream economics has long been a profession that requires belief in neoliberal economic theory that just happens only to help the rich get richer in the real world. Be that as it may, the dispassionate real life data from The Center for Immigration Studies shows that immigrants take jobs from millions of Americans who need jobs the most, the working poor and Americans without college education. The Center "reports that immigrants account for almost 26 percent of construction and extraction workers. The unemployment rate for native-born Americans in those industries is 12.6 percent and 11.3 percent, respectively." In addition, "data collected by the Census Bureau show that... there were almost four million unemployed adult natives (age 18 to 64) with just a high school degree or less, and another 19 million not in the labor force. Perhaps most troubling, the share of these less-educated adult natives in the labor force has declined steadily since 2000 [when legal and illegal immigration began a steep trend upward]." Facts like these, and others below, show that massive legal and illegal immigration effects tens of millions of Americans.

And construction and extraction work is not low-skill: the jobs can range from highly skilled to no-skill, and that too is a function of the availability of cheap labor: industry doesn't invest in skilling up its labor force (and making middle-class wages possible) when very cheap labor is widely available. Another scenario we saw in the failed farmworker union struggle: when immigration dropped in the 60s and 70s, introduction of technology made middle-class wages for every farmworker a real possibility. Cesar Chavez's union organizers took advantage of the labor shortage and brought unionization and middle class wages to many US farmworkers. (Chavez was a prominent opponent of illegal immigration when he was alive). Nowadays middle-class wages for farmworkers is a distant dream, with the fields swamped by cheap illegal labor.

Here are some additional facts from the cis.org site:

"• Looking first at all workers shows that between March 2000 and March 2005 only 9 percent of the net increase in jobs for adults (18 to 64) went to natives. This is striking because natives accounted for 61 percent of the net increase in the overall size of the 18 to 64 year old population.

• As for the less-educated, between March of 2000 and 2005 the number of adult immigrants (legal and illegal) with only a high school degree or less in the labor force increased by 1.6 million.

• At the same time, unemployment among less-educated adult natives increased by nearly one million, and the number of natives who left the labor force altogether increased by 1.5 million. Persons not in the labor force are neither working nor looking for work."

The easy, obvious and humane way to restrict immigration is to hammer employers with huge fines, no "ifs, ands, or buts" allowed. (I think the Sensenbrenner bill is a deliberate nonstarter, designed to fail but make know-nothings feel he and the Republicans are on their side.) To be even more humane, the employer sanctions can be delayed a year to give illegals time to make some money before they go home and pressure their own country's leaders to fix (i.e., de-neoliberalize) their home economies. (The remittances of cash back to illegal immigrants' home countries doesn't help those economies, only nurturing and protecting local industries would; see Latin America's Faulty Lifeline, alternet's only 'good' article on immigration).

The big picture humane solution to the problem of neoliberalism's race to the bottom economics is to end its rule here and overseas. Then replace it with enough protectionism to create and nurture industry & technology based societies. We need to get democratic control over cross-border movements of capital and labor, and manage both for the people's overall benefit. I'm sure the mainstream economist will disagree, but the real world tragedy of neoliberal economics speaks louder than he does.

Thursday, November 10, 2005

Labor Power vs Property Power, Not Rights

The following is a comment on a free trade and intellectual property rights versus labor rights discussion on TPM Cafe:

No one questions a right to intellectual property, the entire matter is the strength of the right. A United States dominated by its big businesses argues for international rules in their favor, and so for 'excessive' intellectual property rights that will funnel greater profits back to US international corporations. It's just a matter of power and who benefits. This matter of degree is not a fundamental philosophical/theoretical dispute.

Again, I hope no one questions basic rights for labor (let's say, for example, a right not to be a slave, or the right of a child not to work full-time), so the idea of labor rights is not the question. Once again the strength and number of the rights protected is what matters (for the United States, by not importing or by applying a large tariff to goods from places with weak labor rights). Those in favor of expanded benefits and incomes for the working and middle classes in the US argue for restrictions on imports from nations not allowing a certain amount/degree of labor rights. In this way, it is argued, US jobs are protected.

Making this matter an argument over rights avoids the obvious: power over the US political system is what matters. The majority of the population needs to take that away from the wealthy and big business. The left needs to get clear-headed about this: we don't need to argue _against_ any group's rights: we need simply to argue for reshaping domestic rules in favor of those of us here with incomes in the bottom 80%.

I admit that even the photo above is misleading: the central concern for leftist US advocates of import regulation should be the protection of US workers from unfair competition, not the plight of poor child laborers in other countries. Of course, like anybody I'd be very happy if such regulation benefited children overseas. But those side benefits are a strategic loser when engaging the American electorate nowadays, in our selfish right-wing political culture.

Thursday, October 20, 2005

Joan Rivers, Anti-Racism Warrior

Joan Rivers became an anti-racism warrior a couple nights ago. One of Britain's leading "professional black guys," Darcus Howe, insinuated that she was a racist, and she went off, yet with exactly the right language such accusations deserve. The 72-year-old sustained her attack until Mr. Howe retreated. (Very hard to do, by the way: her performance is a great argument against age-ism.). A transcript of the exchange is in the Guardian.

I think professional black guy was first irritated when Joan interrupted his race-based slant on how poorly he'd raised his kid with the following: "I'm so, so bored of race. I think people should inter-marry. Everybody should be part this, part that and part everything. Race doesn't mean a damn thing. Everybody should just relax, take the best of their cultures and move forward."

Read more in the Telegraph and Independent.

Wednesday, August 17, 2005

Howard Dean, You Need Cindy Sheehan

Any Democrat who wants to be President needs to get their a-s-s down to Crawford and make solidarity with Cindy Sheehan. At this point, _she's_ the number one candidate for 2008. Boneheads Clinton/Biden/Kerry should fire all their DLC loser advisers, and propose an Iraq solution other than more troops and staying the course. But those DLC-bots are hopeless, probably. I'm most disappointed with Howard Dean, who is politically astute; there's only one place where he needs to be right now.

Sheehan's simple protest, and the public support she is receiving, is a huge public relations disaster for the Bush regime. Just last night some Bushista drove his truck over many of the 300 crosses set up to memorialize Texans killed in Iraq. The picture above shows Cindy supporters repairing the damage.

It would be remarkable, except they already screwed up in 2002 and 2004, if the Democrats go into a third election season as supporters of getting Americans killed in unprovoked invasions of countries that are not a threat to us. This time, Dean, as head of the Democratic National Committee, will get the blame for the 2006 missed opportunity. Get smart Howard, get with Cindy.

Monday, July 25, 2005

High School Anti-Recruiting in September? No?

The Achilles heel of the neo-con empire wars is military recruiting. The most recent reports, from June, show it way under target four, five, six months in a row. And the reason is reassuring: the Iraq war is very unpopular, and a strong majority of young people do not want to fight and die there. What if recruiting dips still further, could this force our nation to come home, soon, from its oil and blood soaked crusades? I think so.

We must anti-recruit, however, in our nation’s high schools, not the much more familiar and comfortable college campuses, because that is where the vast majority of potential recruits are. Unfortunately peace activist anti-recruitment (or counter-recruitment) is minimal. I searched reasonably diligently on the internet for organized activities at high schools during the critical first two or three weeks of school. I googled, and checked out major peace organizations and minor. Finally, the fruits of my labor: The Lehigh Valley Peace Coalition plans to leaflet several of the area’s bigger high schools. And there’s something planned for Albuquerque. I’m sure there’s more, but at this point there won’t be much anti-recruitment going on in America’s high schools in the first weeks of class.

What a tragedy, which is particularly acute because of a matter called opting out. “Opting out” allows parents to fill out a form and get their children off the military recruiters’ call and visit lists. Yet this option is best taken, and often can only be taken, in the first few weeks of class. In any case, the military recruiters show up when school starts, in force, and they will have already contacted many seniors in the summer. Will the graphic truth about Iraq be there to counter the lies? Simply exercising our right to post the truth on a school bulletin board might turn someone the right way. But how many students will sign away their souls before hearing of other options?

Finally, where is the national leadership on this issue? Where the heck are the big national peace organizations? Planning for the big march September 24 is fine, but empire seems to withstand big marches. The Achilles heel is in the halls and classrooms of our high schools.

Our goal is to get our troops out of Iraq, and we may be able to help make that happen, soon! We just have to attack our enemy's weak point, and help squeeze dry the supply of cannon fodder. That is what is so exciting about early September: it is the first opportunity since June to speak directly to the potential cannon fodder.

Saturday, July 23, 2005

John Roberts & The President as War on Terror Dictator

The Judge Roberts hearings being 4-6 weeks away, what is important right now for concerned liberals and leftists is to urge Congress not to renew the Patriot Act.

But at the hearings, I hope Democrats raise hell about the near-dictatorial powers the President has been handed (as Commander in Chief of the endless & "not really a war" War on Terror) by the Patriot Act and similar laws, and through Bush's assertion of executive powers without the aid of laws, _and_ the fact that the judicial branch has not thrown out most of this cr-p as unconstitutional or illegal.

Roberts is part of the problem. For example, he has signed on to the Hamdan v Rumsfeld decision, which makes US disobedience to the Geneva Conventions meaningless, with no negative consequences. Hamdan was a case where precedents were more than ambiguous enough to allow his court to do what needed to be done: use judicial power to enforce Geneva Convention POW rights at America's Guantanamo concentration camp. (Of course, the very existence of the concentration camp is an indication of a huge failure of our Supreme Court).

But unfortunately Roberts is most consistent in one thing: the Executive branch is boss and the Judiciary and Congress gotta get out of the way. This is a terrible time in American history -- with Gitmo, the Patriot Act, Jose Padilla, Abu Ghraib and so on all crying out for judicial intervention -- for another executive branch uber alles type to join the Supremes.

Raise hell, Demos.

Friday, July 22, 2005

Vision of Buffalo: A Natural Beauty

Here are some of my many positive impressions of the city in no particular order: super friendly, celebrates Halloween and Christmas better than anywhere else, the awesome Niagara River, the Lake Erie coastline, big beautiful winter snow, great summer weather, the mountains an hour south, Tonawanda's Canal Fest. Oh, and several comfortable, established neighborhoods. I've left out negative impressions, because that's my worst impression about the area: Buffalonians' negative attitude toward their city.

Bufalo is having one of its usual, less than visionary mayors' races right now, so I think the time is right (well, it's been the right time for awhile, actually) to urge a radical, creative vision of the city's future. My fundamental belief (as you might guess from the previous paragraph) is that there is tremendous natural beauty and even more _potential_ natural beauty in and around Buffalo. The city (and Erie County, for that matter) should commit itself to gradually repairing the immense damage wrought by heavy industry and planning fiascos to its waterways, to Delaware Park, and to much else. At the same time, Buffalo should gradually and entirely re-orient itself toward the magnificent Niagara River and Lake Erie. Obviously this means a massive long-term clean-up and (neighborhood-friendly) urban renewal. So let's get started (!), raise the money and make clear and inspiring five, ten, and twenty-year plans. Oh and one more suggestion just to expand your minds a little: establish a big artificial hot springs resort just north of the new Peace Bridge: the region's many Asian tourists will _love_ it in the wintertime!

Finally, we need to revel in the region's awesome winter snowfall! Create festivals and a dog sled race from Buffalo to Toronto or Cleveland. Whatever shows a tremendous positive attitude toward the massive beautiful snowfall. If you want tips, check out how Minneapolis deals with its winter snow and cold.

Isn't the Tonawanda canal area beautiful this time of year? The Tonawandas' people and governments should be justifiably proud of what they have accomplished, and excited about the future of the area. Buffalo needs the same spirit and same direction: it could be a natural beauty nestled by a great river and lake.

Darfur: No Genocide Or Humanitarian Crisis

The following is a "reality-based community" response to the latest harassment of Sudan by Secretary of State Rice and Illinois Senator Obama.
It does not take very much research to find out that there definitely is no genocide in Darfur now, if there ever was. Simply read the World Health Organization website. In June, 2005, the WHO surveyed more than 3000 Darfur families and found the mortality rate had dropped more than three-fold from a year earlier. It was now "below the threshold... usually observed in humanitarian crises." The WHO report duly credited its own efforts and the public health efforts of Sudan's government. There has not been an increase in these mortality numbers since that time. So, the facts tell the WHO that not only is there no genocide, there is not even a humanitarian crisis anymore. As the WHO website reports, and as needs to be recognized, the great improvements in the Darfur situation "clearly demonstrate that international humanitarian assistance has made a dramatic impact in Darfur."

The 2004 charges of genocide appear to be based, at least in part, on exaggerated estimates of the number of people who have died in the region. In October of 2004, the WHO estimated that 70,000 had died up to that time in the crisis. Read also the press conference by a USAID official in July of 2004, who estimated that 30,000 had been killed in acts of violence (by both sides in a brutal civil war), and another 50,000 had died from malnutrition and related causes. Darfur's population is an estimated 6 million, and since late 2004 the situation has dramatically improved. Based on these facts, where is the genocide? Finally, note that both the UN and the European Union investigated the Darfur humanitarian crisis, and neither found genocide had taken place.
It's a matter of life and death that the genocide charge be refuted when it is at radical and documented variance with reality. As I'm sure you will all understand, the rest of the world suspects ulterior motives and hears the rumbling of the deadly American war machine when the US ignores the facts and persists with incendiary charges.