Do’s and Don’t’s.
When was the last time you got upbraided for doing something you either didn’t do, or failed to do, or forgot to do, or did the opposite of doing, or actually did do but in your own mind felt justified in doing? Yeah, I know. This is a classic example of a martyr complex or guilt by dissociation; a self-imposed behavioral conditioning programmed by our socialization process that puts our ego at the center of our own universe vis a vis that of the “greater good”.
I do not remember the last time it happened to me but I do remember the first occasion. It was during a Kindergarten assembly at a small public school in Michigan’s “Thumb District” run by a close friend of my mother. The class had just finished having lunch and the daily regimen was to then break out a small throw rug that each student was required to bring to class, spread it out on the floor and lie down for a 30 minute nap so we kinder could both digest our food and give the teacher a brief respite for her own repast.
Like in all pre-school and kindergarten classrooms, unless you had siblings or neighborhood gatherings, this was the first time I had been exposed, not only to a group of children my own age but also to girls, since my sister Anita was still a toddler and our future siblings had yet to take their first breath.
Anyway, lying next to me on her own rug that afternoon was a local girl, and though I do not recall who she was or even what she looked like, we must have had some kind of interaction that awakened some of our more base instincts. Maybe she didn’t like the way I smelled or maybe she just wanted me to pay attention to her. I don’t know.
So there we were lying there peacefully on our respective throw rugs, when the girl pulled out a safety pin from somewhere in the folds of her frock and started to jab my leg with it. They were little pricks, more annoying than harmful. Maybe she did this to non-verbally engage her siblings or maybe she was genuinely frustrated with something I either did or didn’t do, but after the third or fourth pricking she finally succeeded in provoking me to snatch the safety pin from her grasp and thrust its point in her bottom.
Well that got a response from not only her but the whole class including the now livid teacher who took me into another room, pressed me against a wall and angrily lectured me for several minutes on how to behave in her classroom. What do I remember quite vividly was that, in my simplistic and ultimately selfish sense of which actions qualified as right and wrong, I felt vindicated in retaliating for this perceived injustice. Plus all I could focus on was the teacher’s angrily contorted face framing her bad teeth. That was my last day in that class. My mother arrived soon after, took me be the ear, deposited me into my grandparent’s ’37 Chevy and scolded me all the way home.
I never went back to that schoolhouse since within a fortnight we had moved South to the big city of Detroit but I always wondered whether my parents had fled the small community for the relative anonymity of the city because of what I had done.
The Lesser of Two Evils.
Back in 2016 – in what was then and has become now an interminably long primary election cycle — (it seems to re-start as soon as the previous one ends) — a group of like-minded supporters of Bernie Sanders completely crowd-funded campaign, via the Revolt Against Plutocracy website, banded together to form the Bernie or Bust Movement, pledging to either vote Green or abstain altogether should Bernie not be nominated by the Democratic Party’s incestuous insider-dominated nominating process. And to be fair, the similar nominating process conducted by the RNC is just as inbred.
The Bernie or Bust movement was created by pro-participatory democracy activists as a reaction to abundant evidence – then completely verified by the Wikileaks disclosures of DNC internal email traffic – of overt voter suppression on the part of both the DNC and state-run election committees whom had been invalidating registrations because of technicalities, coupled with allegations of internal DNC campaign funding irregularities by the Clintonites; rampant mass media bias in favor of the establishment candidates that lambastes voters with wall-to-wall propaganda coverage depicting The Donald as the re-incarnation of Mussolini (though in some caricature-like photos and the manner in which he composes himself while delivering a spiel to his unmasked faithful – the resemblance is uncanny); not-to-mention primary/caucus rules manipulations on the part of both the national and state DNC-run primary committees – the most egregious being those in New York (where Bernie won 50 of 62 counties) and Nevada where several dozen Bernie delegates were banned from even being seated thereby giving the nod to HRC.
The Bernie or Bust movement (subsequently disowned by Bernie himself) had provoked angry reactions from Clintonites — especially after HRC became the Democratic Party nominee — who demanded that the party faithful band together in support of their neoliberal candidate. However the DNC email scandal brought to light by Julian Assange and Wikileaks, detailing the internal campaign of personal attacks, disruption, distortion, disenfranchisement and collusion with the MSM, all aimed at undermining the Sanders campaign and its supporters, thereby exposing the lengths to which the Rentier Class would go in order to prevent even a burgeoning progressive socialist movement to take root.
Pot Calls Kettle.
Among the responses that came from the DNC then – and still being touted as evidence of foreign interference in our domestic elections without offering the public a shred of evidence – was the discredited trope blaming the leaks on computer hackers from Russia! When searching for an external enemy as the cause for a disaster or a scandal, why not blame the Russian Bear? It worked after WW II, coupled with the myth that the US “won” the European theatre (apt term) of that appalling display of mass genocide when in fact it was the Russian people that wore down and eventually crushed 200 divisions of the Wehrmacht – at the frightful cost of 27 million lives. And it worked again both during the ensuing Cold War and the Cuban Missile Crisis. Now this same bogeyman is being blamed for the disintegration and diaspora in the Middle East, interfering in domestic elections causing the Democrats to lose the election, when in truth Russia, run by the same Deep State kleptocracy that dictates foreign and economic policy here in the West, is just a corporate competitor in the supra-national neoliberal agenda to funnel wealth from public coffers into private hands. The Russians probably wear different colored ties and their athletes shoot steroids for breakfast, so why not blame Putin for leaking confidential emails leaked from the DNC? Never mind that the emails in question actually exist. But as we are programmed to believe via our tautologically-riven social media:
“The Truth Is What I Say It Is – and the more often I repeat it the Truer it becomes”.
Another comment I read from a DNC staffer was that the DNC was a private corporation and does not need to disclose either its funding or its communications to the public. Yeah, it’s true. Both the DNC and the RNC are private corporations – not public entities at all. So is the entity that organizes the national debates and the SuperPACs that fund the whole shebang.
Thanks to Julian Assange the Democratic Party stands naked for all to see, a stake driven though its heart – if it even has one. A Dorian Gray “en flagrante”.
May The Grid bless and save Julian Assange. He’s going to need all the help he can bet now that the Deep [Shit] State has him behind bars in TINA Land AKA The United Kingdom – which is still trying to divorce itself from Europe – but of course keep its status as a global partner in crime.
The Politics of Fear.
The assertion that an abstention or a vote for the Greens is a vote for Trump is the latest incarnation of the bankrupt arguments used both to extend the status-quo policies of perpetual war coupled with endless austerity, and to vilify third party candidates like Ralph Nader whom could allegedly siphon off enough votes from those for establishment candidates and thereby ensure victory for the other side of our current corporate-run political duopoly.
Arguments in favor of an electoral strategy based upon the politics of fear are in essence yet another form of voter suppression via narrowing and eliminating choices. The right to vote for candidates and issues and have that vote counted, is the sole opportunity for an electorate to voice its opinions regarding those proffered choices. Some on the Right want the act of voting to be re-cast as a privilege like our “Founding Fathers” laid out in the Constitution — open only to an elite, preferably white male plutocracy,
The problem is that the electorate has no voice whatsoever in initially vetting either the issues or the candidates themselves. Those choices have already been made by the very same elite class of political insiders whom are insulated against the vox populi by a thick veneer of corruption, and whom want to limit who gets to cast a vote in the first place.
In order to stay in power candidates need money, because political status and those that crave it are just commodities to be bought and sold, and that means having to serve those whom have enough Capital to provide that status. And that in turn means funding propaganda campaigns aimed at bombarding the electorate with messages laced with dire predictions of impending doom and immanent destruction, keeping voters distracted, disunited, and desperate for either saviors or scapegoats or both. There have been tens of millions of votes cast for the regressive neoliberal policies of the Right and sadly for progressives, tens millions of these votes were made by Democrats.
What still exists of the Progressive wing of the Democrats, personified in 2016 by the Bernie or Bust movement have been painted as either traitors to the party politic or irrelevant or worse – radical socialists, much like the labor movement has become to the Beltway-centric DNC; but not irrelevant enough to avoid being blamed for HRC losing to Trump; the old lesser of two evils meme. Well the Clintonites and the DNC establishment either didn’t get the Bernie or Busters or, based upon the evidence of both the party platform and the nomination of neoliberal Tim Kaine as running mate, didn’t even care. Thus for progressives, voting has become an act of expressing political will; the act of participating in the building of a movement and certainly not a capitulation to corruption and to the neoliberal status quo.
In a 2016 pre-election post for Rolling Stone Magazine entitled Democrats Will Learn All The Wrong Lessons From Brush With Bernie, journalist/author Matt Taibbi intimates that the establishment Pols and insiders of the Democratic Party have their heads up their asses because they think all will be business as usual inside the Beltway once Bernie is out of the way.
People are sick of being thought of as faraway annoyances who only get whatever policy scraps are left over after pols have finished servicing the donors they hang out with at Redskins games. Democratic voters tried to express these frustrations through the Sanders campaign, but the party leaders have been and probably will continue to be too dense to listen.
“The maddening thing about the Democrats is that they refuse to see how easy they could have it. If the party threw its weight behind a truly populist platform, if it stood behind unions and prosecuted Wall Street criminals and stopped taking giant gobs of cash from every crooked transnational bank and job-exporting manufacturer in the world, they would win every election season in a landslide.
“[T]he uprising among Democratic voters this year wasn’t an organic expression of mass disgust, but wholly the fault of Bernie Sanders, who within the Beltway is viewed as an oddball amateur and radical who jumped the line. Nobody saw his campaign as an honest effort to restore power to voters, because nobody in the capital even knows what that is.
Well Matt was right. The bloom is off the rose. The curtain has been pulled back on the Bernaysian propaganda machine for all to see. The meme that by supporting establishment dictated parties and policies one becomes a model citizen has been stripped of its veneer and exposed for what it really is: an artfully concealed lie. That’s what propaganda does. Propaganda conceals the truth in order to perpetuate the myth of the status-quo.
Our political duopoly has no interest in promoting or even tolerating change, let alone progressive programs such as Medicare-For-All, A Green New Deal, Nuclear Disarmament, an UBI, and eliminating student debt. These and other public services have now been re-branded as privileges that are to be bought and sold like other commodities.
Elections have become lengthy, uber-expensive tax-free marketing campaigns for not only promoting the putative leader of the free world, but also have morphed into a kind of Ice 9 virus out of William Gibson’s Neuromancer; a Trojan Horse engineered to infiltrate the public consciousness and perpetuate the hegemony of a neoliberal Free Market ethos at the expense of any and all economic alternatives.
Let’s have a look at the checkered and often violent history of the suppression of progressive movements by Empire – the one we cast our votes in. Empire has gone out of its way in a decades-long Forever War on The Third World; violently striking down any and all progressive movements in its lust for power and control.
Here’s a list – just in this hemisphere: Guatemala, Nicaragua, Panama, El Salvador, Cuba, Honduras, Haiti, Dominican Republic, Grenada, Chile, Argentina, Bolivia [which has since voted to reject neoliberal capitalism], Venezuela, Brazil, Colombia, and the territory of Puerto Rico – all of these “independent” countries were once owned lock, stock and barrel by transnational US corporations until popular uprisings altered the political climate in each of these countries and ushered in such “insurrectionist” programs as free education for youth, universal healthcare for everyone, the elimination of poverty, the re-distribution of wealth, and the ultimate sin — nationalization of the exploitation of its own resources. As a result, every one of these countries was invaded and had their economies “re-patriated” by Empire. And here’s the kicker; none of these independent nations or territories were a military threat to Empire. Not one. But hey, Neoliberal Capitalism brooks no rivals. Neither does the DNC nor the RNC.
Electoral Goat Rodeo.
The electorate has become wise to what’s going down and are disgusted by the perception that the establishment wants no part of any successful progressive or socialist agenda. The rentier class that funds these quadrennial dog and pony popularity campaigns is determined to wage a war on democracy because a true participatory democracy would amount to an insurrection against neoliberal policies and programs. The electorate has become hip to the fact that The Forever War, at its core is a class war, and has always been about the power over and the control of … economics. And under capitalism and its predatory neoliberal narratives, the lumpen have been subjected to a bête noire of income disparity, racial/sexual bias, political suppression, and socio-economic inequality that is getting worse by the second. Witness the 2020 COVID relief package currently stalled in Congress in an election year by partisan bickering really over who will take the credit or the blame for its potential impact.
Back in 2016, neither HRC nor The Donald could be mistaken for a revolutionary and that is likely what was [and still is] really needed. Maybe that’s why half of the electorate then decided to sit that election out. Since then it has become quite clear that the Trumpian spectacle of MAGA nationalism is nothing more that a re-imagining of Germany’s National Socialism Aryan movement – although The Donald has taken great pains to dissociate himself from the neoliberal-instigated stigmata of socialism. However he has not denounced or distanced himself from the Neo-facists he liberally curries favor with in his tweets and public rants – publicly posturing himself as the next “Il Duce“.
As Professor and author Gabriel Rockhill points out in a recent post:
In the reactionary political culture of the U.S., which has attempted to redefine the Left as liberal, it is of the utmost importance to recognize that the primary opposition that has structured, and continues to organize, the modern world is the one between capitalism—which is imposed and maintained through liberal ideology and institutions, as well as fascist repression, depending on the time, place and population in question—and socialism. By replacing this opposition by the one between liberalism and fascism, the ideology of false antagonisms aims at making the fight of the century into a capitalist spectacle rather than a communist revolution.
Take the 2020 DNC virtual convention – thanks to COVID – Zoomcast to millions during which SuperDelegate Neoliberal candidates Joe Biden and Kamala Harris were vetted and feted to the faithful absent any reference to the corporate overlords who control the party’s platform. No mention of The Green New Deal, or Black Lives Matter, or Universal Basic Income, or Forgiving Student Debt, or Medicare For All, or Unemployment subsidies, or for that matter – complete silence on legislation reversing the Citizens United Supreme Court ruling that codified corporate political contributions as Free Speech in the party’s platform. Not a word.
Then there’s the theatrics surrounding the 2020 election “debates” – a goat rodeo – in which two white geezers, adorned with red and blue ties, fought over who was the strongest opponent of Medicare-For-All and the movement to ban fracking. Meanwhile the economy teeters on the brink of collapse. One in four families in Texas face ‘food insecurity – evidenced by long lines of cars queuing up for handouts furnished via local food banks, and the privately-owned and run go-it-alone energy grid confederacy has collapsed with frozen assets and burst water mains. Of course, like with the health insurance industry, it doesn’t stop them from billing for services users remain on he hook for. You have to ask, why is the United States the only major economic power without a national power grid and healthcare system? Fill in the blanks.
And now …. post Two Thousand Twenty election we are presented not only with a collapsed economy due largely to the COVID pandemic, but also with an election whose outcome is being challenged by the evangelical-led Far Right – including 18 States Attorneys General joined by 126 members of Congress whom petitioned the Supreme Court to invalidate the vote count in several key states. Not happy with those results, Trump – backed by his sycophants Ted [Cancun] Cruz and Josh Hawley in the Senate together with more than 100 Republican members of the House have provoked a mob of flag-draped thugs – a few even waving Confederate colors – to assault not only the Capitol building and challenge our governing principles defined in the Constitution, but to attack our democratic rights and our republic itself – which can only be called what it is – an insurrection.
This revolt has been enabled by a Republican Party completely in the thrall of ultra-conservatism and Christian fundamentalism plus a Democratic Party subservient to a neoliberal economic/political system gerrymandered via a “college” of elite-chosen electors whom are the real voters – whose votes are the only ones that count. As a result, these appalling and frightening events not withstanding, it remains unlikely that there will be passage of any “socialist” legislation such as the Green New Deal – for the foreseeable future – perhaps decades; add to that the distinct possibility of having Roe v. Wade overturned by a “packed” conservative Supreme Court.
Since the Clinton era the Democratic Party has been perceived by many as a party of bi-coastal elites having ceased to represent the working class – the Precariat – whose lives have been and continue to be substantially impacted by the twin pandemics of health insecurity and wealth inequality; a notion re-kindled recently by the revelation that California Governor Gavin Newsome attended a birthday party held at a posh Napa Valley bistro in honor of close friend and lobbyist Jason Kinney whom – as Jeremy B. White and Debra Kahn report in a recent Politico post – “continues to advise Newsom on politics even as his lucrative, newly launched lobbying firm Axiom Advisors works on bills that could land on Newsom’s desk”. The role of “voice” of the underclass has now presumably been adopted by the GOP via a masterstroke smoke-and- mirrors media blitz proving once again that money and BS are opposite sides of the same populist coin.
We have a new Biden administration — tabbed Obama II by the pundits — which, if recent appointees are harbingers of future party policies, means that neoliberalism is the mantra, meritocracy still rules, and nothing will change. There will be no Blue Wave of progressive programs: no Green New Deal; no Medicare-For-All [which – by the way – is neither “free” nor “socialist”]; no student debt forgiveness; no UBI; and – in the very near future – no Social Security or Medicare for the generations to come because an estimated 40% of pre-pandemic jobs – including retail and mid-management positions – will just disappear as neoliberal capitalism accelerates its drive towards automation.
Then there is the unmitigated disaster of the COVID-19 vaccine rollout with reports of doses being sabotaged, non-existent backup stockpiles, no detailed plan for distributing existing supplies, no intent of the part of the austerity hawks in both parties to fund that distribution, added to the new strains of the virus accelerating infections. Let’s face it. The problem is the system. Capitalism is not designed to shower its largesse on the many; only filter it upwards to the few.
Then there is the 2020 Census debacle. As The Intercept’s Ryan Grim in a recent post points out:
The immediate stakes are these: Democrats currently hold 223 seats in the House. They need 218 for a majority. When all the vacancies are filled, they’re likely to have a cushion of six or seven seats, not much to sit on comfortably. Once the Census is released, House seats will be reapportioned. Partly because of the way the American population is flowing, and partly because the Trump administration deliberately rigged the Census, Democrats are going to get pounded. These nine states, once the new Census figures are released, are set to lose a congressional district: California, Illinois, Michigan, Minnesota, New York, Ohio, Pennsylvania, Rhode Island and West Virginia. Broadly speaking, blue states are losing seats, and red states are gaining seats.
In two years there will be a mid-term election in which the GOP will take back control of the House and as well as the Senate and by design, the precariat will – as now – be left standing in line for food handouts and medical care courtesy of Médecins Sans Frontières. Capitalism is a meritocracy that rewards only those with capital.
The rentier class has won the first skirmish of many battles to come. It got the Democratic candidate it wanted in both 2016 and 2020 – one of its own – by hook and by crook literally — and the president it needed to continue the charade of a free democracy. As filmmaker Josh Fox reported from the 2016 DNC orchestrated convention floor, there were several lawsuits pending in New York, New Jersey, Nevada, California and other states back then for election fraud. Apparently exit polls in these states varied wildly from machine vote counts strongly suggestive of the possibility that these machines were rigged to produce a given output. And in literally every case, these results benefitted HRC’s campaign. Of course the only one brought to “justice” for election interference [and other crimes against Empire] was Julian Assange.
For the sheep doggers, understand this — “viddy it well, my brothers and sisters” (with apologies to Anthony Burgess) — progressives, together with all of you, have been punched in the face by the rentier class. They’ve knocked a few teeth out and as a result, to their infinite regret, have awakened the dragon. Remember compatriots, it is only round one. We will not forgive. We will not forget. We will fight on.
Policy vs Personality.
The MSM is now hard at work shaping elite-generated rhetoric aimed at convincing the electorate that “stronger together” the DNC/RNC anointed candidates will “make America great again”; deploying propaganda to elicit feelings of guilt to promote indecision with physical threats; to obfuscate the depravity of racial, gender, and wealth inequality, and to ridicule “unbelievers” when all else fails. Our quandary is a common reaction to the lesser of perceived evils options that are presented to voters – literally every election cycle, which seemingly starts immediately after the previous cycle ends. For me, the US election process is plagiarized from Orwell -“doublespeak”, “big brother” and all. A good citizen falls in line with the crowd and votes for the common good – all of these terms being defined by The Party.
Ultimately, casting one’s vote is a personal choice; an opportunity to voice an opinion about issues, policies, and the future. My choice was then and is now The Greens; not because of a choice between candidates, but because of the Green platform and agenda. I’m attempting to focus on the future (one that I will never see) — especially the future for the coming generations as well as for millennials who hold the fate of human race in their hands. The Democrats however, offered only more of the same neoliberal agenda of corporate hegemony and austerity that has enslaved us all.
As Glenn Greenwald commented in a recent post on The Intercept:
A failed, collapsed party cannot form an effective resistance. Trump did not become president and the Republicans do not dominate virtually all levels of government because there is some sort of massive surge in enthusiasm for right-wing extremism. Quite the contrary: This all happened because the Democrats are perceived — with good reason — to be out of touch, artificial, talking points-spouting automatons who serve Wall Street, Silicon Valley, and the agenda of endless war, led by millionaires and funded by oligarchs to do the least amount possible for ordinary, powerless citizens while still keeping their votes.
My generation really fucked things up, having allowed the dystopian plague of neoliberalism to engulf the planet, a legacy that as a generation we will always be associated with. This is why, for me, the choice will always be policy over personality. It is not about “leaders”. It is about participatory democracy. Remember the Bob Dylan lyric:
“Don’t follow leaders. Watch your parking meters”.
Progressives must be determined to end the hegemony of neoliberal capitalism – not through establishment dictated and controlled “politics as usual”. It will be ended where it hurts the rentier class the most — economically — with a focused BDS movement coupled with a progressive tax levied upon all of that accumulated Capital, which will serve to confront the root cause for economic disparity; not just income disparity, but wealth disparity.
“If you find yourself in a dancehall where the orchestra is playing out of tune, it is time to change the dancehall”.
— Recently-coined Ruthenian proverb.
It’s The Economy, Stupid
One only has to look at history to factor out some basic truths about HRC and her husband. First the Party of the Asses wouldn’t even discuss any of Bernie’s 2016 and current proposals. They anointed as their figurehead in 2016 a libertarian Goldwater Republican – this country’s version of Margaret Thatcher. HRC has publicly stated at one point that she intended to put Bill in charge of the economy. Remember what happened the last time he had that power?
Let’s see. First and foremost there is NAFTA that has resulted in millions of jobs being shipped off-shore. Then there was the elimination of the Aid to Families with Dependent Children (AFDC) program that crippled the Welfare State and kicked 40 million mothers and their kids off of public subsistence programs. Add to that the creation of the Carceral State that imprisons the poor and racial minorities many of whom have committed victimless crimes, whom are then sentenced without due process, and as Pulitzer Prize winning journalist Chris Hedges reports in his post Lock Up The Men, Evict the Women and Children, are subsequently made into functional slaves in a for-profit penal system that charges them for everything from phone calls to clothing to food while forcing them to work for a dollar a day producing consumer goods for the corporate state.
Then we have the repeal of the Glass-Steagall Act that further exacerbated the rise of financialized monopolies culminating in the 2008 mortgage crises and world-wide market meltdown and helped supplant public welfare with corporate welfare.
Sorry, Bill. Now you and Hillary can go find a job like giving lectures on how to fuck over your citizenry, how to rob them of their land and resources, how to sell those public assets to your neoliberal cronies in exchange for a tax-deductible contribution to your foundation while getting taxpayers to foot the bill for your fees so you can use the money to get your wife nominated to run the most exceptional country on Earth. Oh wait. She lost. Bummer. Can we get out money back?
Gloria Steinem is spot on. No thanks, Clintons. We’ve already choked on enough of your bullshit.
Bernie and Friends 2016.
So on June 6th 2016 , we had the opportunity along with some ten thousand other like-minded Bernie Or Busters, millennials, geezers, hucksters (selling everything from t-shirts to rolling papers), and even members from the pre-revolution Revolutionary Communist Party, to assemble en masse in the fog at probably the most inaccessible, inhospitable place in The City — Crissy Field — and witness history.
A socialist Jew speaking truth to power, supported by a bevy of celebrities, activists, and a smattering of progressive politicos, including Congresswoman Tulsi Gabbard and Nina Turner. Conspicuously absent were any mainstream Democratic Party members, officials, or state-wide elected representatives. No Nancy Pelosi. No Barbara Boxer. No Dianne Feinstein. No Gavin Newsom. No Governor Jerry Brown. No Mayor Ed Lee. No Kamala Harris. No DNC.
Dr. Cornell West was present as was actor Danny Glover as well as musicians Dave Matthews and Fantastic Negrito. There was a ton of media ensconced in their own gated-off area with prime views of the stage. The rest of us had to stand, some for several hours, heel to toe, warmed only by the proceedings. Here is what we saw.
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Revised from the original post.