Thursday, October 19, 2017

Africom

The US mainstream media is busy asking itself what the four US servicemen who died in Niger recently were doing in Niger. Ignorance in our media is rampant. They only have to be slightly more well informed than the general public, so they're pretty ignorant.

The political class has nothing to do but read up on things and order underlings to make reports about things and brief them on things, but I'm pretty sure 99.9 percent of Americans have never heard of Africom. It's one of nine commands -- which are how our military forces around the world are organized geographically: the European Command, Central Command, Pacific Command, Southern Command, etc.



In the media that I read, Africom has been known about since it was created in 2006 and I assume military fanatics also have media outlets that talk about Africom. It was created to counter China, which has been busy forming alliances and making inroads in Africa since it became a wealthy manufacturing nation. China has been building dams, bridges, highways, hospitals, schools, etc., all over Africa. The US used to do foreign relations that way, but now that the political class has adopted Reaganomics, which has practically eliminated taxes for corporations and the wealthy, they no longer do foreign policy that way.

US foreign policy is based on our military might. It's almost exclusively about waging violence and death and destruction upon countries where brown skinned people live. We always have money for the military. Democrats and Republicans cut taxes for the rich and lavish the military and military contractors. Our two New Mexico Democrat senators joined most of their colleagues a few weeks ago in voting for a military budget that swells military spending by $700 billion -- that's right, increases it by that much -- most of which will go to contractors who line the pockets of both parties.

China and the US are interested in Africa, of course, because of those vast deposits of oil that were discovered not too long ago, and Africa generally has amazing mineral wealth -- such as gold, diamonds, and rare minerals that aren't found anywhere else, like tantalite, for example, which is used in smart phones.

Americans, including the media, know nothing of any of this, and you never hear a single word about it from our elected officials, who stand back and watch us whine about Trump and scream at one another about whether people should be forced to stand for the national anthem or not, and then go play tennis and dine and party with each other irrespective of political affiliation.

Incidentally, the Democratic Party's national committee just purged many of its progressive members -- i.e. people who think Democrats should look out for the interests of working people and the poor. This makes sense. I've been reading here and there that Democrats are prepared to start making big cuts to Medicaid. They'll keep their identity politics coalition intact by saving Social Security and Medicare, in some form at least, but as far as Democrats are concerned poor people are expendable, not worth even considering. At least they're not bombing them and destroying their homes, hospitals and schools and killing them by the hundreds of thousands. So far.






Sunday, October 8, 2017

Change

Despite everybody freaking out about what would happen when Trump was elected president, things haven't changed, according to two articles I came across today.

I've been going further, saying we're better off with Trump than Clinton and providing evidence, but for the sake of argument let us go with the words of Michael Dougherty of the mainstream, conservative National Review, who talks about how US foreign policy is the same under Trump and with those of independent journalist Caitlin Johnstone, who talks more about domestic politics.

You can come up with a long list off the top of your head. Our military is still involved in the same seven wars Obama was waging. Wealth and income inequality are getting worse, just as under Obama. Both major political parties are married to big business, the environment is getting worse, and racist cops still execute poor people, especially poor people of color, and get away with it virtually every time, all of which were the case under Obama, and the deep state is still there and our government is still spying in us.

Of course none of these things matter to those Hillary voters who still haven't accepted what happened to them. In their minds the world will end any day if it hasn't already. They think we've become a disgrace to the world, as if our government has suddenly flipped and done a 180 and as if we weren't already a warmongering bully of a nation that under Democrat and Republicans alike sucks the blood out of whatever place and whatever people we decide are too vulnerable to resist out mighty killing machine of a military that sucks more money from our pockets than do the next ten biggest militaries combined -- more than the combined total of Russia plus China plus eight more.

The disillusioned Hillary voters, being blind to the fact that the nation has been just as unequal and just as warmongering under Democrats as Republicans, cannot see and cannot admit that the betrayal of the Democrats make them the worse culprit. We depended on them and they let us down. We did  what we were told. Vote. We voted for Democrats and they sat silent while the Republicans said and did as they pleased.

There's another practical reason we're better off without Hillary. When a Democrat is president all the environmental and social justice groups shut down. The well paid people who run these organizations never say anything against the Liberals who invite them to the big beltway parties and have them out to their yacht on the Potomac, and the working class people who support the high living predators stop giving money because they think the Democrats have their backs when they don't.

But because Hillary lost, people are in the streets in record numbers. Outside groups of all kinds are starting up or growing rapidly, steadily building the power we need to bring about change, which, remember, always comes from outside the political system. We've been being distracted by the political infighting that goes under the guise of party politics. We're not taught and don't know that it wasn't the political system that brought change it was the Labor Movement, the Civil Rights Movement, the Women's Movement, the Black and Brown and Red Power movements, the Environmental Movement. They forced change on the political-corporate system.

Government was set up to prevent significant change, so you can't blame Democrats and Republicans for doing what they were created to do which is to protect the interests of the ruling class. But change is afoot and you see already that Democrats and Republicans alike are changing their tunes. Republicans left Obamacare in place and Democrats are talking about universal health care. They know.

We are the ones who bring about change. Trump tried but he hasn't anywhere near the power the establishment does. But we do, much more, in fact. We, our outside pressure, brought about the New Deal and ended the Depression. We ended the Vietnam War and we made people respect minorities and women and the environment. If you don't know that yet you ought to.











Friday, October 6, 2017

The Race War And Capitalism

A reporter who writes for the snotty toned conservative web site Daily Wire posted a tweet about football player Marcus Peters along with a picture of Peters sitting on a bench. Below is his tweet, followed by a reply by actor/comedian Richie Loco that's been re-tweeted more than 100 times as much as the original tweet.



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Under Trump, racism is getting to be where it's not disguised behind code words as much. It's more out in the open. That's where it should be and it's another reason we're better off with Trump than we'd have been with Clinton. For many years Republicans used racism through code words while Democrats, like the Clintons, and the media looked the other way. They call it "dog whistle" politics because they still can't bring themselves to call it racism.

So far no one has really been called out to any degree for this monumental cowardice and complicity in racism on the part of the liberal establishment. On the other hand, Democrats and the media are being called out for their abandonment of the working class to become water boys for Wall Street.

The calling out, and the public's awareness and knowledge, is happening largely through social media, where things that "go viral" are often more widely seen and heard than the official propaganda put out through the media and official government and corporate channels.

But social media now is also spreading Marxism, an analysis that brings to light the interrelations between Capitalism and racism. Connections are being made, and as more people understand them, the role racism plays in furthering Capitalism is becoming better understood.

Besides being a simple and effective way of dividing the working class, racism helps justify a fundamental ideological pillar of Capitalism; that people posses different amounts of wealth because they have different amounts of natural ability.

This article fleshes out these and other connections between racism and Capitalism. A similar and shorter article by economist Richard Wolff also explains why prisons are so full of Black people -- it's how the consequences of making Black people bear the brunt of Capitalism's inequality are managed. All these connections will become better known as Socialism and the Marxist philosophy behind it gain in influence, and that will only bolster the struggle against racism.

These relationships between racism and Capitalism is new to some of these young Socialists and other converts from identity politics, but despite being rancorous at times, the discussions being had are helping educate everyone. Different Socialist and Communist sects have given different weight to the race question, some not enough, so even old Socialists like me are learning a thing or two.






Friday, September 29, 2017

Paul Craig Roberts

Some chilling words from Paul Craig Roberts, a former assistant secretary of the US Treasury and Wall Street Journal associate editor, about the future prospects for the American economy when there's no growth and no wage growth, as the case is now and has been for years. The unemployment rate is officially 4.4 percent. That "tight" of a labor market should be pushing wages up, but so many people have left the labor market -- some say the real unemployment rate could be as high as 20 or 25 percent -- that the upward pressure isn't there.

That explains the lack of wage growth. And of course the economy doesn't grow because of lack of demand. Ours. Not enough spare change to spend to keep the economy moving.

We the people have no say at all in any economic matters. Now the robots are coming to put more people out of work. With few workers paying in, programs like Social Security and Medicare will collapse, the now record wealth and income inequality is going to get ever worse, Roberts says, and the likely end point of the path we're headed down is not pretty.

Our political leaders have no clue as to what they're doing when it comes to the economy, but they've had a hand in getting us to this point by buying into that cockamamie Reaganomics aka Neoliberalism economic model we're under, one of the prime elements of which is that it drives down wages. Roberts has no faith in them because they answer to the ruling oligarchy -- i.e. the ruling class.

We are not without hope, however. Socialist sentiment is on the rise. The people might get it together enough to take control of government, the economy, all of it, and to one way of thinking that would be quite logical. It's a matter of survival.

Will you do your part? Will you support these mainly young people who are joining socialist organizations and parties in droves and who've had it with the establishment? They don't want advice, and they may screw it all up, but their way, whatever it turns out to be, might be the only way. You can weigh in with your knowledge, experience and wisdom and try to help them succeed. We may have no other choice.






Monday, September 25, 2017

JC Whitney

Anyone from my generation who worked on their own car probably knows about the JC Whitney catalog. You could get just about any part for any car — clutches, piston rings, even rebuilt engines -- and at a low price.

And then there were the accessories. Pages and pages of fancy hub caps, pages of car stereos, of car horns, just about any car accessory you could think of and many I'd never imagined. There were no photos in the catalog. Each item had a little pen and ink drawing of the part or accessory and they were a marvel, too.

They'd put out a new catalog several times a year and when I got mine in the mail I'd spend hours going through it and dreaming of how I could gussy up my old hand me down family sedan. My favorite all time accessory was a compact little 45 rpm record player that mounted under the dashboard like a car stereo would, but I never got around to being able to afford one.

JC Whitney was actually the mail order division of an old Chicago parts dealer, Warshawsky and Company. They had a big store on the south side at State St and Archer Ave (an area just south of downtown that's been well gentrified since) where you could walk in and pick up any item they sold in the voluminous catalog. The Warshawsky & Co sign in the picture below used to hang out over the sidewalk.



Sometime after the 60s or 70s Warshawsky moved its operations 100 miles west of Chicago to LaSalle, IL. I hadn't been aware of that and had kind of lost track of them, but then in the late 90s I made a delivery to the place, and the old sign was sitting out back by the loading docks.

I'd first seen the sign in the late 1960s or thereabouts when I rode into Chicago from SW Michigan with my brother Bob, who if I'm not mistaken was picking up the parts to overhaul his VW Beetle. To enter the store you walked right under the big old sign. To me it was a marvel, but then 30 years later to be able to walk up and be close enough to touch it was simply bedazzling. The already ancient technology was a marvel, the bulk and weight of it was a marvel, the work and expertise that went into building a one of a kind, what was to me a masterpiece... It struck me the way one of those old steel bridges or old brick factory buildings do that are as much artistic expressions as utilitarian construction projects. I remember that it seemed like there were a hundred incandescent light bulb sockets in it.

I've always wanted to stop there again out of curiosity to see if the sign still existed but until a recent post retirement trip to Michigan I never did. I had come up from New Mexico and continued north all the way across I-80 to see the eclipse, and after the eclipse angled back down to catch I-80 at Omaha and so went right through La Salle. This time I had time to stop and see if the fabulous sign was still there, and there it was, standing out in front of the new store in a place of honor on big steel girder legs.










This last picture is looking back toward the loading dock driveway. The landing gear, what used to be called the dolly wheels, on that Fedex trailer is down so he's probably doing a drop and hook - drop your empty trailer, probably in a dock door, and find your loaded trailer parked somewhere nearby. In this case out on the street.

LaSalle is in that great Midwestern prairie. Mile upon mile of corn fields interrupted now and then by a soy bean field or small town. 




PS. After I got to Michigan I was helping Mom sort through some old boxes so she could have a garage sale and she held something up and asked if I wanted it. An old JC Whitney catalog. Of course I did!

This one is from the 1980s and is 278 pages long. They're still around -- I bought a cover for my old Chevy pickup last summer from their web site -- but apparently they've gone full internet because I don't even see where you can send for a catalog anymore.



















Ask And It Shall Be Given You

It's not too surprising that Germany's anti immigrant nationalist far right fascist leaning party Alternative for Germany (Alt Germany?), which got enough votes this weekend to win seats in parliament for the first time, receives most of its support from what was formerly East Germany. Since re-unification the former East Germans have been relegated to being a source of cheap labor for German industry.

Alternative for Germany marching - AFP photo
The far right has made headway all over Europe, taking over governments in some places, like Belgium, and in the US we hear about President Trump's "core" of prejudiced people and white nationalists. One thing the US and European countries have in common is that they've all adopted Neoliberal economics and its policies that drive down wages, shrink government social services and basically screw workers so rich Capitalists can get richer. And the economic gap between the 1 percent and 99 percent is growing at an increasingly rapid pace.

In America Socialist parties and organizations are growing and repeated polls indicate younger Americans favor Socialism over Capitalism. That's fine as far as I'm concerned, but it's the last thing the US ruling class and its political handmaids wanted to happen.

And while Socialism is regaining its foothold, white supremacists and neo Nazi Trump supporters are marching openly in the streets. The radical poles of the political spectrum are growing larger.

That's what you get when you pursue policies that have kept living standards level for 30 years and then they begin to fall. That's what you get when you abandon workers and unions and cater to Wall Street the way the Democrats did. You get Fascism and Socialism.






Thursday, September 21, 2017

This is Launch Pad Over

These are from a story about what Twitter has come up with for Rocket Man











I have entirely no beef with Kim Jong Un or North Korea. They have done nothing to me. They don't attack and destroy countries all over the world and slaughter hundreds of thousands of people. That would be my country. Kim Jong Un is sane compared to the average US citizen who is emotionally immune to the carnage we commit and sends a constant stream of politicians to Washington to spend our money to send the world's worst killing machine of all time on its never ending rampages.












Tuesday, September 19, 2017

Drenched In Blood

The US senators who didn't vote for the blood drenched military spending bill that passed 89-8 today:

Corker (R-TN)
Gillibrand (D-NY)
Leahy (D-VT)
Lee (R-UT)
Merkley (D-OR)
Paul (R-KY)
Sanders (I-VT)
Wyden (D-OR)


Both houses have now passed $700 billion annual 2018 warmongering budgets that they fattened by $30 billion over what even deranged President Trump had requested. Defense World has a little story about all the bipartisan crap congress members from both parties padded it with to make it $30 billion more than Trump asked for. Ajamu Baraka remarked:




The US is involved in seven wars and congress wants even more war. As you know the US was already spending more on its military than the next 10 countries combined, providing these same elected officials with permanent excuses for cutting social spending.

Republicans and Hillary supporters are saying we can't afford for everyone to have health care, but they're fine with Americans dying so we can use that money to kill innocent men, women and children all over the world. What a disgusting spectacle the United States must be to the rest of the world.









Sunday, September 17, 2017

We Are The Ninety-Nine Percent

It's the six year anniversary of Occupy Wall Street, which made us aware that we're the 99 percent and against the 1 percent, and just that one little dose of class consciousness has transformed America and altered the political landscape beyond recognition.

Am I giving them too much credit?

It was demonstrated that Occupy changed the discourse in the following election and it's easy to argue that it led to Bernie Sanders, but before I go too far in praising it I think it's better to see Occupy as part of an overall trend that we're still in the middle of.

I can think of two good reasons why Occupy Wall Street was an important development in the current trend, a critical phase in it that has led us to the current political/social moment. First, while it was in operation, it provided the voice for the growing radicalism in the country. It caused it to grow and grow in certain directions. It's become more well organized and is now driving a political swing to the left.

But what allowed Occupy to do that has also caused the turmoil that has led to Trump.

The other reason Occupy was important is that it let people know they don't need the news media and the political parties to tell them what's going on and what to do about it.

They kept saying on the news that Occupy was organized by "social media." I didn't know what that was but eventually found out and signed up for Facebook so I could follow the local Occupy groups and see what they were doing. Social media caught on and millions of people came to use the Occupy Wall Street model and learned to create their own online communities.

This independence of thought and action has allowed the leftward swing to happen and also allowed Trump to happen because working people from the right, the left, young, old, all learned how to make and find online communities and it's left politics in an uproar.

Turmoil is the logical and healthy result of listening to everybody for the first time, but that's what we've needed in this country. A democracy's highest ideal should be that everyone has a voice and deserves to be heard. That's true for just humanity's sake, too.

Listening to everyone means hearing from people you haven't heard from before. You can hear things you don't like. It's up to us to decide what to do about it. We don't need anybody to tell us what's right. We can find our way to that.

We are finding our way, and learning that we the people have some power, which will lead to more confidence and more self sufficiency. We've learned some things because Capitalism and the political system it owns abandoned us and we've had to fend for ourselves, but we're also learning we can run our own lives and run this country. We we have the power. and we know it. We are the 99 percent.








 

Tuesday, September 12, 2017

Jeezus Effing Christ

This is unbelievable. I had to come in here and sit down. NM Political Report just tweeted out that both our senators, Martin Heinrich and Tom Udall, will sign on as co-sponsors of Bernie's Sanders' Medicare for all bill. Single payer health care.

The article is here.

"Just this week," writes Matthew Reichbach, "Democratic Senators Cory Booker of New Jersey, Kirsten Gillibrand of New York, Sheldon Whitehouse of Rhode Island and Jeff Merkley of Oregon announced they support the proposal by Sanders."

Add Heinrich and Udall and that's almost 1/3 of the Democratic senators and in a short period of time.

I won't say my constant criticism of these guys had anything to do with it but I did predict the other day it would happen eventually. Not that it's not pretty apparent that the tide is turning and the Democratic Party as a whole is beginning to shift to the left. I just never thought Heinrich and Udall would move this soon. You can argue, of course, that it will cost them nothing. No other conservative democrat will vote against them for this, and they will pick up a lot of the disaffected Bernie voters. Maybe even a Socialist or two who think even Bernie is too conservative. But these guys are on board pretty early and the weight they carry will make a difference to some of the politicians and media opinion leaders. Good for them. Pretty soon they'll stop backing Reaganomics economic policies and start getting more money into working peoples' pockets like good Democrats should.