10/12/2014 archive

Anti-Capitalist Meetup: Redux On The National Question … Scotland and Kurdistan by NY Brit Expat

Two more different places do not come to mind, yet what we have been witnessing are two instances of the national question which have been in the news recently. I was originally going to write only on Scotland, but the immediacy of the catastrophe that is happening to the Kurds in Syria and the fight being waged against great odds while the world watches (and literally the Turkish army sits in its tanks watching while prevented Turkish Kurds from joining the fight in support of those fighting in Kobaně) needs to be addressed. So I decided to discuss both issues and to ask where the left stands and where it should stand on what should have been termed historically the national question and what criteria we should use to ascertain whether there is a legitimate issue that should be supported.

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As we watch the power of states in the advanced capitalist world be weakened through the internationalisation of capital beyond national borders, one would think that the national question (a question arising at the end of the 19th century with the consolidation of nation states like Germany and Italy in the 1870s in the context of the consolidation of bourgeois nationalism and then the creation in the early 20th century of new nation states following the collapse of the Hapsburg and Ottoman Empires, e.g., Hungary, Greece, Czechoslovakia) would have ceased to be a relevant consideration. However, even as we sit here and watch the control over “domestic” capital weaken in state by state (this can be easily seen in the inability to control taxation of profits of MNCs), the issue of the national question still raises its head.  This is not only the situation in the post-world war II period of anti-colonialist struggles (e.g., India, Algeria, Mozambique, Zimbabwe), nor the struggle against neo-colonialism and imperialism’s attempts to control the economic and political situations in other countries, but also includes the issue of the rights of nations currently in union, through historical circumstance, or forced through being conquered historically to be part of a state (e.g., The Basque, Catalonia, Scotland, Wales).    

Since both questions impact significantly on the issue of anti-imperialist in theory and practice, they bring to the fore issues that the Left needs to address. Inevitably, there will be differences among the Left due to different perspectives on the both the acceptance of the right of self-determination, the issue of nation-state themselves, and how this impacts upon anti-imperialist struggles.

Rant of the Week: Jason Jones – The Fault in His Speech

Jason Jones – The Fault in His Speech

Joe Biden Apologizes for Telling the Truth

By Carol Giacomo

It used to be that lying got politicians into trouble. For Vice President Joe Biden, it’s truth-telling that causes a stir.

The latest furor started after he spoke at Harvard University’s John F. Kennedy School of Government last Thursday. Mr. Biden said American allies including Turkey, Qatar and the United Arab Emirates had extended unconditional financial and logistical support to Sunni fighters trying to oust the Syrian government of President Bashar al-Assad. [..]

There is little doubt that his basic facts are accurate, confirmed by news reports in The Times and other media and by Western officials. Yet Mr. Biden was forced to officially apologize to Turkey late Saturday after Mr. Erdogan demanded it. He issued another apology on Sunday after the United Arab Emirates also took umbrage. [..]

In the current instance, Mr. Biden should have exercised some restraint and not publicly shared his conversation with President Erdogan. But the basic truth – that Turkey and other countries enabled Islamic State and other extremists – can’t be wished away. The United States, Turkey, Qatar, the U.A.E. and other countries in the region have a mutual need to work together to counter ISIS or ISIL. That means owning up to the mistakes that have allowed the group to flourish and correcting them, including shutting down Turkey as a transit corridor for ISIS revenue, weapons and foreign fighters.

Indigenous Peoples’ Day

It always puzzled me why schools continue to teach historical myths as factual. One of the bigger myths that is taught to American school children is about the Christopher Columbus and the discovery of America. In an article at Common Dreams, author and historian William Loren Katz lays bare the real story and it isn’t pretty.

Christopher Columbus Driven by Ill Winds

Columbus’s Nina, Pinta and Santa Maria were driven across the Atlantic by the same ill winds that from 1095 to 1272 launched nine Eruopean Crusades to capture Moslem Jerusalem. Defeated and humiliated the invaders suffered staggering human losses, left royal treasuries depleted, and convinced Christian leaders to only pay lip service to another try.

Except for Christopher Columbus. Born Christopher Colon this ambitious Genoese craved adventure, was given to religious mysticism to the point he accepted God’s personal command to free the Holy Land. He also saw God’s hand in cloud formations, splashing waves, and distant stars, and had read a religious book that convinced him the world would end in 150 years. He claimed at sea he once saw three mermaids dancing on waves, and was sure in distant lands he would meet men with tails or heads of dogs. God had chosen him specifically to see Christianity victorious “throughout the universe.” And he would follow His command to convert or destroy Moslems, Jews and other non-believers. Columbus’s earliest sea experiences were as a youth serving on Portuguese slave-trading ships along Africa’s Atlantic coast. He learned men, women and children could be captured and sold for enormous profits. With enough slaves and gold, even a lowly Columbus could finally end the infidel grip on Holy Land. [..]

Columbus’s voyage eastward to seek the riches of Asia has been called the momentous journey in history. To him it was only first step toward his larger goal. After five weeks in the Atlantic, his food supplies running low and lying to grumbling crewmen he was not a man lost at sea, Columbus stumbled on an island in the Bahamas named Guanahani. On the morning of October 12, 1492 with a crew in heavy armor bearing swords and muskets, he left the Santa Maria for the sunny shore and a military and nationalist mission. He planted Spain’s flag in the soil, took “possession of the said island for the king and queen,” and renamed it San Salvador. “With fifty men your Highness would hold them all in subjection and do with them all that you could wish,” he wrote in his Diary. The Admiral was applying the new European “doctrine of discovery” that granted its merchant adventurers the right to claim distant lands and their inhabitants. Papal bulls of the time also divided “discovered” lands between Spain and Portugal, and in 1494 the Vatican specifically drew a line dividing the Americas – and the slave trade – between these seafaring powers.

Columbus and his expedition was also a product of Spain’s painful “final solution.” Since 711 Spain’s Moslem Arab rulers shared their cultural wealth with and practiced toleration of the country’s diverse citizenry. Catholics, Jews and Moslems lived peacefully with neighbors, as Spain became a world center of books and learning.

Then Catholic King Ferdinand of Castille and Queen Isabella marshaled an army to impose Christan rule. Castillian soldiers charged into battle with the cry “Santiago Matamoros” or “Kill the Moors.” By January 1492 Christian soldiers stood poised for victory and an era of ethnic cleansing.

The article goes onto to describe how Columbus and his men were welcomed and responded with treachery. Columbus’ voyages were the opening salvo in what would become a holocaust across the North and South American continents that continued for over 300 years. It is time that we stopped celebrating this slaughter. On Monday, celebrate Indigenous People’s Day, also known as Native American Day and learn the real history of America’s discovery and about the culture of its native people.

On This Day In History September 12

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

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

October 12 is the 285th day of the year (286th in leap years) in the Gregorian calendar. There are 80 days remaining until the end of the year.

On this day in 1810, Bavarian Crown Prince Louis, later King Louis I of Bavaria, marries Princess Therese von Sachsen-Hildburghausen.

The Bavarian royalty invited the citizens of Munich to attend the festivities, held on the fields in front of the city gates. These famous public fields were named Theresienwiese-“Therese’s fields”-in honor of the crown princess; although locals have since abbreviated the name simply to the “Wies’n.” Horse races in the presence of the royal family concluded the popular event, celebrated in varying forms all across Bavaria.

Oktoberfest is a 16-18 day festival held each year in Munich, Bavaria, Germany, running from late September to the first weekend in October. It is one of the most famous events in Germany and the world’s largest fair, with more than 5 million people attending every year. The Oktoberfest is an important part of Bavarian culture. Other cities across the world also hold Oktoberfest celebrations, modelled after the Munich event.

The Munich Oktoberfest, traditionally, takes place during the sixteen days up to and including the first Sunday in October. In 1994, the schedule was modified in response to German reunification so that if the first Sunday in October falls on the 1st or 2nd, then the festival will go on until October 3 (German Unity Day). Thus, the festival is now 17 days when the first Sunday is October 2 and 18 days when it is October 1. In 2010, the festival lasts until the first Monday in October, to mark the 200-year anniversary of the event. The festival is held in an area named the Theresienwiese (field, or meadow, of Therese), often called Wiesn for short, located near Munich’s centre.

Visitors eat huge amounts of traditional hearty fare such as Hendl (chicken), Schweinsbraten (roast pork), Schweinshaxe (ham hock), Steckerlfisch (grilled fish on a stick), Würstl (sausages) along with Brezn (Pretzel), Knödel (potato or bread dumplings), Kasspatzn (cheese noodles), Reiberdatschi (potato pancakes), Sauerkraut or Blaukraut (red cabbage) along with such Bavarian delicacies as Obatzda (a spiced cheese-butter spread) and Weisswurst (a white sausage).

First hundred years

In the year 1811, an agricultural show was added to boost Bavarian agriculture. The horse race persisted until 1960, the agricultural show still exists and it is held every four years on the southern part of the festival grounds. In 1816, carnival booths appeared; the main prizes were silver, porcelain, and jewelry. The founding citizens of Munich assumed responsibility for festival management in 1819, and it was agreed that the Oktoberfest would become an annual event. Later, it was lengthened and the date pushed forward, the reason being that days are longer and warmer at the end of September.

To honour the marriage of King Ludwig I and Therese of Bavaria, a parade took place for the first time in 1835. Since 1850, this has become a yearly event and an important component of the Oktoberfest. 8,000 people-mostly from Bavaria-in traditional costumes walk from Maximilian Street, through the centre of Munich, to the Oktoberfest. The march is led by the Münchner Kindl.

Since 1850, the statue of Bavaria has watched the Oktoberfest. This worldly Bavarian patron was first sketched by Leo von Klenze in a classic style and Ludwig Michael Schwanthaler romanticised and “Germanised” the draft; it was constructed by Johann Baptist Stiglmaier and Ferdinand von Miller.

In 1853, the Bavarian Ruhmeshalle was finished. In 1854, 3,000 residents of Munich succumbed to an epidemic of cholera, so the festival was cancelled. Also, in the year 1866, there was no Oktoberfest as Bavaria fought in the Austro-Prussian War. In 1870, the Franco-Prussian war was the reason for cancellation of the festival. In 1873, the festival was once more cancelled due to a cholera epidemic. In 1880, the electric light illuminated over 400 booths and tents (Albert Einstein helped install light bulbs in the Schottenhamel tent as an apprentice in his uncle’s electricity business in 1896). In 1881, booths selling bratwursts opened. Beer was first served in glass mugs in 1892.

At the end of the 19th century, a re-organization took place. Until then, there were games of skittles, large dance floors, and trees for climbing in the beer booths. They wanted more room for guests and musicians. The booths became beer halls.

In 1887, the Entry of the Oktoberfest Staff and Breweries took place for the first time. This event showcases the splendidly decorated horse teams of the breweries and the bands that play in the festival tents. This event always takes place on the first Saturday of the Oktoberfest and symbolises the official prelude to the Oktoberfest celebration

In the year 1910, Oktoberfest celebrated its 100th birthday. 120,000 litres of beer were poured. In 1913, the Braurosl was founded, which was the largest Oktoberfest beer tent of all time, with room for about 12,000 guests.

I have very fond memories of Oktoberfest. If you ever have the opportunity to visit Europe, do it in late September because this is a must see and experience.

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:

This Week with George Stephanopolis: The guests on Sunday’s “This Week” are: Chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff Gen. Martin Dempsey; Rep. Mike Rogers (R-MI);  Dr. Anthony Fauci, Director of the National Institute of Allergy and Infectious Diseases; ABC News Chief Health and Medical Editor Dr. Richard Besser; and Julián Castro, Secretary of Housing and Urban Development.

The roundtable guests are; Democratic strategist Donna Brazile;, ABC News political analyst Matthew Dowd; and Weekly Standard editor Bill Kristol.

Face the Nation with Bob Schieffer:Mr. Schieffer’s guests are: Dr. Tom Frieden, director of the CDC; Rep. Michael McCaul (R-TX); CBS News Chief Medical Correspondent Dr. Jon LaPook; CBS News Correspondent Debora Patta; and former CIA Director and Secretary of Defense Leon Panetta.

His panel guests are: Peggy Noonan, The Wall Street Journal; Susan Page, USA Today, David Rohde, Reuters; and David Ignatius, The Washington Post.

Meet the Press with Chuck Todd: The guests are National Security Advisor Susan Rice; former Secretary of State James Baker; Former Secretary of State/War Criminal Henry Kissinger and who knows who else, not that this isn’t bad enough.

State of the Union with Candy Crowley: Ms. Crowley’s guests are RNC Chairman Reince Priebus and DNC Chairwoman Debbie Wasserman Schultz.

Her panel guests are S.E. Cupp, Newt Gingrich, Neera Tanden and Marc Lamont Hill.

Now you can all sleep in, spend time with family and friends or, if the weather is nice, get some exercise and fresh air.  

Six In The Morning

On Sunday

Cyclone Hudhud pounds India’s Andhra Pradesh and Orissa

 12 October 2014 Last updated at 08:07


Cyclone Hudhud is pounding the eastern Indian coast, causing extensive damage and prompting the evacuation of some 300,000 people.

The cyclone, classed “very severe” and bringing winds of up to 195km/h (120mph), is passing over the coast near the city of Visakhapatnam.

Hundreds of trees have been uprooted and power lines brought down in Andhra Pradesh and Orissa states.

Two people have so far been reported killed in Andhra Pradesh.

It is feared a storm surge of up to two metres could inundate low-lying areas and hundreds of relief centres have been opened in the two states. Disaster relief teams have also been sent.

Sunday’s Headlines:

Girls worldwide are ‘living in fear of abuse’

Italy’s city mayors go to the barricades to defend same-sex marriages performed abroad

The fight to keep ‘macho men’ off election ballots in Bolivia

China detains scholar on charge of troublemaking

Gunther Holtorf’s journey around the world could be the longest road trip

Formula One: Sochi

There are 4 big stories heading into today’s race, Bianchi’s accident, Vettel leaving Red Bull and being replaced by Kvyat, Alonso leaving the Scuderia to be replaced by Vettel, and Lotus/Renault dumping Renault power in favor of Mercedes.

In it’s simplest form, Suzuka was a predictable mess.  Formula One cars are good, but they are not boats meant to be driven around in typhoons and all the weather forecasts agreed that at the scheduled race time it was going to be coming down in buckets.  It was race promoters, not the FIA, that insisted on keeping the original start despite the FIA’s greater investment in the global audience.

As a result the bulk of the race took place behind the safety car, nothing much changed from qualifying, and at the end when they started racing a bit during one of the lighter downpours there was a rash of accidents one of which sent Jules Bianchi sliding underneath a crane removing another wreck.  He suffered generalized brain trauma with the neurons literally ripped apart and whether he survives or not he will certainly never drive again.

Automobile racing is inherently dangerous.  For all the hand wringing, lamentations, and proposals for new regulations, Formula One has an exceptional safety record, especially compared with Turn Left Bumper Cars.  I hope Bianchi has a complete and speedy recovery and that any reforms don’t ruin the sport.

The Vettel and Alonso stories are intertwined.  If you ever needed proof that Vettel is unbelievably stupid and arrogant you have it now.  He’s never shown the slightest bit of talent for anything except taking the most superior car on the track and qualifying well enough to get out in front and drive away in clean air.  Faced with the slightest deviation from this scenario he’s a massive failure.

So, after a mere season of disappointment, he petulantly decides to abandon the team that has nurtured him and made him look much better than he really is since he was a mere go-carting teen.

And for what?  He moves from a car that is arguably the 3rd fastest (except Ricciardo makes him look bad by beating him with the same equipment) to a team with a rabid swooning fan base that doesn’t care that for at least 5 or 6 years they’ve been putting bricks with square tires out there.


And what of Alonso?  You know, I hate him, but even I have to admit the man is a genius driver who can take a brick with square tires and make it look like a racer.  Scuderia Marlboro are a bunch of clueless dopes with inferior chassis and power plants and that’s unlikely to change in the near future as the suits from Fiat boot the last of Enzo’s F1 boys.  Fitting that Vettel should spend the rest of his career in hopeless purgatory spiraling the drain.

But Alonso has a problem now too.  There are not many competitive seats out there and while he’d be an ideal replacement for Rosberg (who’s good, but not great), Rosberg has a year left on his contract.  Kvyat has already grabbed the second seat at Red Bull behind Ricciardo (better than Vettel, but who isn’t?) and then…?

Williams is doing better, but that’s not saying much.  McLaren is coasting on the fumes of past greatness which are in shorter supply for them than the Scuderia.  Toro Rossa is looking racy at the end of the season, but they’re saddled with that crappy Ferrari engine, which leaves…?

Lotus?  Used to be called Benneton, then Renualt, then Lotus/Renault, and now they’ve done a deal with Mercedes for their clearly superior power plant.  As noted Alonso has a talent for making cars race better than they should so it might be a good fit.

I’d rather he not have to sit out a year since he might just be the best driver out there (besides Hamilton of course).

Mediums and Softs.  1.5 seconds per lap Delta.  Mediums will last forever but take several laps to warm up.

The Breakfast Club (More like an omelet)

Welcome to The Breakfast Club! We’re a disorganized group of rebel lefties who hang out and chat if and when we’re not too hungover  we’ve been bailed out we’re not too exhausted from last night’s (CENSORED) the caffeine kicks in. Join us every weekday morning at 9am (ET) and weekend morning at 10:30am (ET) to talk about current news and our boring lives and to make fun of LaEscapee! If we are ever running late, it’s PhilJD’s fault.

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Today in History

Breakfast Tune

Hal Wylie, Fred Swedberg & Roger Sprung performing “The Dummy Song”.

Breakfast Retro Commercial

Breakfast News & Blogs below