Daily Archive: 09/01/2013

Sep 01 2013

Anti-Capitalist meetup: Solidarity Forever (A Sing Along) by EK Hornbeck

An Annual Tradition at The Stars Hollow Gazette and Docudharma.

Solidarity Forever is perhaps the most famous Union anthem yet it’s composer, Ralph Chaplin, came to hate it, writing-

(T)here is no one (among the International Workers of the World, or Wobblies) who does not look with a rather jaundiced eye upon the ‘success’ of ‘Solidarity Forever.’



I didn’t write ‘Solidarity Forever’ for ambitious politicians or for job-hungry labor fakirs seeking a ride on the gravy train.



All of us deeply resent seeing a song that was uniquely our own used as a singing commercial for the soft-boiled type of post-Wagner Act industrial unionism that uses million-dollar slush funds to persuade their congressional office boys to do chores for them.



I contend also that when the labor movement ceases to be a Cause and becomes a business, the end product can hardly be called progress.

For you see, the essence of the song is class consciousness as laid out in the Preamble of The Little Red Book which says, “The working class and the employing class have nothing in common.”  Between Labor and Capital “a struggle must go on until the workers of the world organize as a class, take possession of the earth and the machinery of production, and abolish the wage system.”

By this analysis any Union that did not at it’s core embrace syndicalism, the most famous examples of which in the United States are the craft unions of the American Federation of Labor and the industrial unions of the Congress of Industrial Organizations, was betraying the movement by giving workers the false impression that they have interests in common with and could control the employing class through contracts.

Instead of the conservative motto, ‘A fair day’s wage for a fair day’s work,’ we must inscribe on our banner the revolutionary watchword, ‘Abolition of the wage system.’

Likewise the IWW opposed participation in politics as mere compliance with an inherently corrupt system, “by organizing industrially we are forming the structure of the new society within the shell of the old.”

Now the lyrics I like best are the original 1915 version in which these revolutionary arguments find their clearest expression.

Chorus

Solidarity forever,

Solidarity forever,

Solidarity forever,

For the union makes us strong.

Verses

When the union’s inspiration through the workers’ blood shall run,

There can be no power greater anywhere beneath the sun;

Yet what force on earth is weaker than the feeble strength of one,

But the union makes us strong.

Is there aught we hold in common with the greedy parasite,

Who would lash us into serfdom and would crush us with his might?

Is there anything left to us but to organize and fight?

For the union makes us strong.

It is we who plowed the prairies; built the cities where they trade;

Dug the mines and built the workshops, endless miles of railroad laid;

Now we stand outcast and starving midst the wonders we have made;

But the union makes us strong.

All the world that’s owned by idle drones is ours and ours alone.

We have laid the wide foundations; built it skyward stone by stone.

It is ours, not to slave in, but to master and to own.

While the union makes us strong.

They have taken untold millions that they never toiled to earn,

But without our brain and muscle not a single wheel can turn.

We can break their haughty power, gain our freedom when we learn

That the union makes us strong.

In our hands is placed a power greater than their hoarded gold,

Greater than the might of armies, magnified a thousand-fold.

We can bring to birth a new world from the ashes of the old

For the union makes us strong.

Alas hardly anyone uses them anymore, instead substituting various bowdlerized and watered down versions of the more controversial parts.  Even Pete Seeger (by far the best YouTube version) skips the master and own verse Solidarity Forever:.

Sep 01 2013

Syria: Kerry Says Obama Can Act Without Congress

On  Friday President Barack Obama, citing “proof” that the Assad government used chemical weapons on his own people, said that he will go to congress for approval for authorization to use military force in Syria. The purpose, according to the president, is to send a message to Syrian President Bashir Assad not to do that again.  

He appeared to acknowledge some potential pitfalls when he called on members of Congress to “consider that some things are more important than partisan differences or the politics of the moment”.

The president did not say whether he would launch a military attack without congressional approval.

The question of whether a US president can launch military action without congressional backing is subject to dispute. While it is argued a commander-in-chief cannot constitutionally declare war without Congress, in recent decades presidents have used executive powers to sanction military action. When running for president in 2007, Obama said the president “does not have power under the constitution to unilaterally authorise a military attack in a situation that does not involve stopping an actual or imminent threat to the nation”. He added that “in instances of self-defence, the president would be within his constitutional authority to act before advising Congress or seeking its consent”.

Obama came under serious criticism for attacking Libya in 2011 that led to the overthrow and assassination of Moammar Gaddafi.

On this morning talk shows, Secretary of State John Kerry told the talking heads that the US has evidence that sarin gas was used but could not cite precise evidence that it was the Assad government that used it or that Assad had ordered its use. Kerry also said that the president has the right to act regardless of the congressional vote:

Less than a day after the president vowed to put an attack to a congressional vote, secretary of state John Kerry said the administration was determined to act against the regime of Bashar al-Assad, and did not need the backing of Congress to do so.

Kerry, one of the leading advocates of a military assault on dictator Bashar al-Assad, claimed the US had identified the type of nerve agent used in the 21 August attacks on 12 neighborhoods outside Damascus. [..]

The secretary of state stressed that President Obama had the right to take action “no matter what Congress does”. He said he could “hear the complaints” about presidential abuse had Obama not gone to Congress, but that its backing would give any military action greater credibility: “We are stronger as a nation when we act together.” But he added: “America intends to act.”

Incredibly, there are some congress critters who believe the president should attack Syria. Rep. Peter King (R-NY) clearly stated that Obama was “undermining the authority of future presidents”;

“President Obama is abdicating his responsibility as commander-in-chief and undermining the authority of future presidents. The President does not need Congress to authorize a strike on Syria. If Assad’s use of chemical weapons against civilians deserves a military response, and I believe it does, and if the President is seeking congressional approval, then he should call Congress back into a special session at the earliest date,” King said in a statement. “The President doesn’t need 535 Members of Congress to enforce his own redline.”

While his rhetoric may be the most charged, King is not alone in calling for Congress to come back immediately. House Foreign Affairs ranking Democrat Eliot L. Engel of New York said something similar in his own statement.

“The President has laid out a strong and convincing case to the American people for action in Syria. However, I understand his desire to seek explicit authorization to do so from Congress,” Engel said. “I call on the Speaker to immediately recall the House back from its August recess and debate this critical issue as soon as possible.”

So just who it that’s abdicating his Constitutional responsibilities?

One of the biggest problems with the justification for the action is the assertion that it is the Assad government that used the weapons. After the lies told by the Bush administration and the faked intelligence of yellow cake, there is little confidence in the integrity of the intelligence community not to tell the truth and do the bidding of an administration determined to start another war.

The ghost of “Curveball” is haunting the Obama administration and undermining its efforts to marshal strong foreign and domestic support for military strikes on Syria.

Curveball was the code name given Iraqi defector Rafid Ahmed Alwan, who claimed in 1999 that Saddam Hussein had deployed mobile biological weapons labs to evade international detection of his manufacture of weapons of mass destruction. His testimony, even though viewed as dubious, was used by the George W. Bush administration to justify the 2003 U.S.-led invasion of Iraq.

As Americans and their allies debate the wisdom of making military strikes against the government of Syrian President Bashar Assad, the phony pretext for the Iraq invasion is being dredged up by those fearful of being lured into another protracted Middle East war.

Asia Times roving Correspondent, Pepe Escobar has covered the Syrian conflict since it began almost two and a half years ago. He appeared on RT news to discuss Obama’s determination to attack Syria

Obama Set For Holy Tomahawk War

By Pepe Escobar

The ”responsibility to protect” (R2P) doctrine invoked to legitimize the 2011 war on Libya has just transmogrified into ”responsibility to attack” (R2A) Syria. Just because the Obama administration says so.

On Sunday, the White House said it had ”very little doubt” that the Bashar al-Assad government used chemical weapons against its own citizens. On Monday, Secretary of State John Kerry ramped it up to ”undeniable” – and accused Assad of ”moral obscenity”.

So when the US bombed Fallujah with white phosphorus in late 2004 it was just taking the moral high ground. And when the US helped Saddam Hussein to gas Iranians in 1988 it was also taking the moral high ground.

The Obama administration has ruled that Assad allowed UN chemical weapons inspectors into Syria, and to celebrate their arrival unleashed a chemical weapons attack mostly against women and children only 15 kilometers away from the inspectors’ hotel. If you don’t believe it, you subscribe to a conspiracy theory.

Evidence? Who cares about evidence? Assad’s offer of access for the inspectors came ”too late”. Anyway, the UN team is only mandated to determine whether chemical weapons were deployed – but not by who, according to UN secretary-general Ban Ki-moon’s spokesman.

As far as the Obama administration and UK Prime Minister David ”of Arabia” Cameron are concerned – supported by a barrage of corporate media missiles – that’s irrelevant; Obama’s ”red line” has been crossed by Assad, period. Washington and London are in no-holds-barred mode to dismiss any facts contradicting the decision. Newspeak – of the R2A kind – rules. If this all looks like Iraq 2.0 that’s because it is. Time to fix the facts around the policy – all over again. Time for weapons of mass deception – all over again.

h/t Edger at Docudharma

Sep 01 2013

Peace In Our Time?

Glenn is one of our favorites and this piece is actually a pretty fair reflection of the current state of our temporarily postponed war of aggression on Syria.

Obama, Congress and Syria

Glenn Greenwald, The Guardian

Sunday 1 September 2013 07.01 EDT

It’s a potent sign of how low the American political bar is set that gratitude is expressed because a US president says he will ask Congress to vote before he starts bombing another country that is not attacking or threatening the US. That the US will not become involved in foreign wars of choice without the consent of the American people through their representatives Congress is a central mandate of the US Constitution, not some enlightened, progressive innovation of the 21st century. George Bush, of course, sought Congressional approval for the war in Iraq (though he did so only once it was clear that Congress would grant it: I vividly remember watching then-Senate Foreign Relations Chairman Joe Biden practically begging the Bush White House to “allow” Congress to vote on the attack while promising in advance that they would approve for it).

But what makes the celebratory reaction to yesterday’s announcement particularly odd is that the Congressional vote which Obama said he would seek appears, in his mind, to have no binding force at all. There is no reason to believe that a Congressional rejection of the war’s authorization would constrain Obama in any way, other than perhaps politically. To the contrary, there is substantial evidence for the proposition that the White House sees the vote as purely advisory, i.e., meaningless.

Recall how – in one of most overlooked bad acts of the Obama administration – the House of Representatives actually voted, overwhelmingly, against authorizing the US war in Libya, and yet Obama simply ignored the vote and proceeded to prosecute the war anyway (just as Clinton did when the House rejected the authorization he wanted to bomb Kosovo, though, at least there, Congress later voted to allocate funds for the bombing campaign). Why would the White House view the President’s power to wage war in Libya as unconstrainable by Congress, yet view his power to wage war in Syria as dependent upon Congressional authorization?



It’s certainly preferable to have the president seek Congressional approval than not seek it before involving the US in yet another Middle East war of choice, but that’s only true if the vote is deemed to be something more than an empty, symbolic ritual. To declare ahead of time that the debate the President has invited and the Congressional vote he sought are nothing more than non-binding gestures – they will matter only if the outcome is what the President wants it to be – is to display a fairly strong contempt for both democracy and the Constitution.

There are few things more bizarre than watching people advocate that another country be bombed even while acknowledging that it will achieve no good outcomes other than safeguarding the "credibility" of those doing the bombing. Relatedly, it’s hard to imagine a more potent sign of a weak, declining empire than having one’s national “credibility” depend upon periodically bombing other countries.

Sep 01 2013

Rant of the Week: Phillip Agnew, Dream Defenders

At the commemoration of the 50th anniversary of Martin Luther King, Jr.’s March on Washington, a very short but significant speech was cut from the program. It was only two minutes long, to be delivered on the steps of the Lincoln Memorial by Phillip Agnew, the head of the Dream Defenders, who have been occupying the Florida governor’s office to protest the Zimmerman verdict and calling for the repeal of the “Stand Your Ground” law. It was only two minutes. Mr. Agnew felt it important enough to record the speech on a balcony over looking DC then posting it to You Tube. Before he started the speech, Mr. Agnew asks the viewers to record their two minute with hashtag #OurMarch to share with the world the future of America and The Dream.

Two Minutes – #OurMarch

h/t Chris Hayes @ All In

Sep 01 2013

On This Day In History September 1

This is your morning Open Thread. Pour a cup of your favorite morning beverage and review the past and comment on the future.

Find the past “On This Day in History” here.

September 1 is the 244th day of the year (245th in leap years) in the Gregorian calendar. There are 121 days remaining until the end of the year.

On this day in 1897, the Boston subways opens, becoming the first underground rapid transit system in North America. It was the inspiration for this song by the Kingston Trio.

Sep 01 2013

Punting the Pundits: Sunday Preview Edition

Punting the Punditsis an Open Thread. It is a selection of editorials and opinions from around the news medium and the internet blogs. The intent is to provide a forum for your reactions and opinions, not just to the opinions presented, but to what ever you find important.

Thanks to ek hornbeck, click on the link and you can access all the past “Punting the Pundits”.

Follow us on Twitter @StarsHollowGzt

The Sunday Talking Heads:

Up with Steve Kornacki: Guests were not listed for this Sunday’s show.

This Week with George Stephanopolis: Guests on “This Week” are: Secretary of State John Kerry; ABC News Chief Foreign Correspondent Terry Moran; ABC News Global Affairs Anchor Christiane Amanpour; ABC News Chief Global Affairs Correspondent Martha Raddatz; former Joint Chiefs of Staff Vice Chair Gen. James Cartwright USMC (Ret.), and Dean of the Johns Hopkins School of Advanced International Studies Vali Nasr.

The political roundtable guests are: political strategists James Carville and Mary Matalin; Wall Street Journal columnist Peggy Noonan; and television and radio host Tavis Smiley.

Face the Nation with Bob Schieffer: Mr. Schieffer’s guests are: Secretary of State John Kerry; Sen. John McCain (R-AZ); Sen. Tim Kaine (D-Va.); and Sen. Saxby Chambliss (R-Ga.).

Meet the Press with David Gregory: On MTP, the guests are Secretary of State John Kerry; Sen. Rand Paul (R-KY); and NBC’s Ann Curry.

At the roundtable, the guests are: editor of the Weekly Standard, Bill Kristol; co-anchor and managing editor of “The PBS Newshour,” Gwen Ifill; former White House Press Secretary, Robert Gibbs; and anchor for BBC World News America, Katty Kay.

State of the Union with Candy Crowley: Ms. Crowley’s guests are Secretary of State John Kerry; Sen. Chris Murphy (D-CT); Rep. Eliot Engel (D-NY); Rep. Scott Rigell (R-VA); Centcom Commander General Anthony Zinni; Middle East analyst Robin Wright and Jeremy Bash, former Chief of Staff to Leon Panetta.

Joining her for a panel discussion are Donna Brazil, David Frum, Cornel Belcher and Ross Douthat.

Sep 01 2013

Six In The Morning

On Sunday

Nelson Mandela discharged from South African hospital

1 September 2013 Last updated at 09:06 GMT

 The BBC

Nelson Mandela has left hospital and has gone to his Johannesburg home, where he is continuing to receive intensive care, the South African presidency says on its website.

The announcement came a day after officials denied reports that the 95-year-old had already been discharged.

The statement says Mr Mandela condition remains critical and at time unstable.

South Africa’s first democratically elected president has been in hospital since June with a lung infection.




Sunday’s Headlines:

China accuses state assets chief

How the UN plans to provide clean drinking water for everyone in Rwanda

Femen founders flee Ukraine ‘fearing for their lives’

Brazilian YouTube satire emerges as force in nation’s political debate

Preserved for millennia, Egypt’s artifacts fall prey to Egypt’s protests

Sep 01 2013

Three Things On The Internet

Each night on his MSNBC show “All In, Chris Hayes shares three things from the internet that are sent to him by his fans.

This Friday’s show: the GOP excuses for their conspicuous absence at the 50th anniversary of MLK’s March on Washington; Patrick Stewart teaching the “quadruple take”; and the scattering of 51 pictures of Nick Cage through a house.