Daily Archive: 11/03/2014

Nov 03 2014

Election Eve

You know, I’ve voted in every election (except once, when I was involved in an accident on the way to the polls)- local, state, national, and primary since I was eligible to do so, sometimes with great enthusiasm and others less so.  Many of my ballot choices I’ve come to regret, most of my candidates have been defeated.

The reason I keep banging my vote against this wall is summarized by Stockton-

Politics is the art of controlling your environment. That is one of the key things I learned in these years, and I learned it the hard way. Anybody who thinks that ‘it doesn’t matter who’s President’ has never been Drafted and sent off to fight and die in a vicious, stupid War on the other side of the World – or been beaten and gassed by Police for trespassing on public property – or been hounded by the IRS for purely political reasons – or locked up in the Cook County Jail with a broken nose and no phone access and twelve perverts wanting to stomp your ass in the shower. That is when it matters who is President or Governor or Police Chief. That is when you will wish you had voted.

The fact that the institutional Democratic Party, the neolibs and corporatists, are actively more interested in purging any semblance of left wing populist thought and non-conformity than they are in any so-called ‘electoral victory’ (amply demonstrated by Gaius Publius today, and also here and here) is very discouraging.  The lesser of two evils is still evil.

I know that a vast majority of people are disgusted by these corrupt, lying, cowards and criminals, all you have to do is look at their approval rating to see that they’re less popular than a Root Canal.  I know the system is designed to make it virtually impossible for a candidate to succeed outside of the two party system.

It has never been my position to urge you to vote for a particular politician, or indeed to vote at all.

What I would urge is that you try and find a way to let your dissatisfaction be known.  Without action things will never change except for the worse.

My personal choice is to vote third party wherever I can so that my outrage is at least tabulated.  You can do whatever you want.

We’ll have an Open Thread up on Election Night (tomorrow) to record the debacle and undoubtedly some analysis as the results sink in.  Don’t be afraid to contribute your personal thoughts, we publish lots of stuff with which we don’t necessarily agree.

Nov 03 2014

Punting the Pundits

“Punting the Pundits” is 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

Trevor Timm: Does the CIA want Republicans to win the midterms?

If it’s hard to imagine an intelligence committee chair less inclined to provide the spy agency with any oversight, just Google ‘Richard Burr’

Will we ever see the Senate’s 6,000 page report on CIA torture without someone leaking it? A leak always been the most likely resolution for the transparency-seeking public, but, in this case, it’s increasingly looking like the only one.

In a surprise to absolutely no one, the CIA has, for the fourth time, asked a federal court (pdf) for more time to make a decision about releasing the torture report. The ACLU and journalist Jason Leopold have separately sued for the report’s release, while the White House and Senate Intelligence Committee continue to haggle over what to redact and what to release since the committee voted it be declassified all the way back in April. While the Obama administration continues to say it wants the report released, their actions continue to show the opposite. [..]

Some people, including a former Senate staffer, think that this is actually what the Obama administration is hoping for. Since most of the Republicans on the Intelligence Committee dissented from even releasing the report, a Republican Senate majority could make sure that the report gets buried indefinitely.

Robert Kuttner: The Dems and the Avoidable Election Rout

The Dems and the Avoidable Election Rout Barring a miracle, Tuesday is likely to be an unhappy Election Day for the Democrats. They will need to win virtually every close race to hold the Senate, and that seems unlikely. They are on track to suffer losses in the House as well.

Could it have been different? I think so.

Working against the Democrats is the six-year jinx. Six years into an incumbent’s tenure, the president’s party almost always loses seats in Congress. The Republicans got clobbered in Eisenhower’s sixth year, 1958, and in Bush II’s sixth year, 2006. Even Franklin Roosevelt’s Democrats lost massively in his sixth year, 1938.

Can you guess the one recent exception? It was Bill Clinton in 1998 — right after the Lewinsky sex scandal and Clinton’s impeachment, no less. The Dems actually picked up five House seats.

David Cay Johnston: Safety-net programs soften blow from stagnant economy

Per capita income drop would be more than twice as bad but for New Deal programs under attack by conservatives

Americans made significantly less money in 2012 than in 2000. That decline, as disconcerting as it is, would have been more than twice as bad if it weren’t for three New Deal era safety net programs that largely offset falling wages and vanishing interest income.

Income per American, measured in 2012 dollars, fell more than $1,000 from 2000 to 2012. That decline would have been close to $2,200 per person but for increased payouts from Social Security, unemployment insurance and traditional pensions, my latest analysis of the official data shows.

Those increased benefit payments saved Americans from much more human suffering and stopped the worst recession in eight decades from descending into a vicious cycle of falling incomes that reduced sales of goods and services, which in turn would have savaged corporate profits, forcing even more layoffs and ultimately threatening social stability.

Glen Ford: For Moment, the World Embraces the Cuba Model – and Slaps the Empire

“For Cuba, service to oppressed and exploited peoples is a revolutionary act of the highest moral caliber.”

Revolutionary Cuba has always been a miracle and gift to all humankind. This week, the nations of the world – with two savage exceptions – instructed their emissaries at the UN General Assembly to tell the world’s self-designated “indispensable” country to end its 54-year-long trade embargo against Cuba. The virtually unanimous global rebuke to the American superpower, in combination with the extraordinary breadth and depth of acclamation accorded Havana, tells us that it is Cuba, not the U.S., that is the truly “exceptional” nation on the planet.

It was the 23rd time that the United Nations has rejected the embargo. The outcome was identical to last year’s tally, with only the United States and Israel voting against the non-binding resolution. Although the list of American allies on the Cuban embargo issue could not possibly get any smaller – Israel, after all, can only exist if joined at the U.S. hip – this year’s political environment was even less deferential to the reigning military colossus. In recognition of its singular commitment to the fight against Ebola in Africa, Cuba soared, once again – the hero nation.

Despite having suffered cumulative economic damages of more than $1 trillion at U.S. hands over the last half-century, the island nation of 11 million people has made itself a medical superpower that shares its life-saving resources with the world. No country or combination of nations and NGOs comes close to the speed, size and quality of Cuba’s response to the Ebola crisis in West Africa. With 461 doctors, nurses and other health professionals either already on site or soon to be sent to Liberia, Sierra Leone and Guinea, Cuba sets the standard for international first-response. The Cuban contingent of medical professionals providing direct treatment to sick people outnumbers that of the African Union and all individual countries and private organizations, including the Red Cross.

Nov 03 2014

TBC: Morning Musing 11.3.14

I’ve got 3 articles for ya this morning from my weekend reading.

First up, an excellent speech on the Middle East that is right on target:

The Collapse of Order in the Middle East

So many great paragraphs in it, but here’s a couple:

“U.S. policy should encourage the nations of the Middle East to develop effective political, economic, and military strategies to defend and advance their own interests, not rush to assume responsibility for doing this for them. Part of such a policy adjustment toward emphasizing the primary responsibility of the countries of the region for their own security would involve weighing the opinions of our partners in the region much more heavily in our decisions than they have in since 9/11. Had we listened to our Gulf Arab friends, we would not have invaded Iraq in 2003. Iraq would still be balancing Iran. It would not be in chaos and it would still have a border with Syria. The United States needs to return to respecting the views of regional powers about the appropriate response to regional threats, resisting the impulse to substitute military campaign plans made in Washington for strategies conceived by those with the greatest stake in their success.

The need for restraint extends to refraining from expansive rhetoric about our values or attempting to compel others to conform to them. In practice, we have insisted on democratization only in countries we have invaded or that were otherwise falling apart, as Egypt was during the first of the two “non coups” it suffered. When elections have yielded governments whose policies we oppose, we have not hesitated to conspire with their opponents to overthrow them. But the results of our efforts to coerce political change in the Middle East are not just failure but catastrophic failure. Our policies have nowhere produced democracy. They have instead contrived the destabilization of societies, the kindling of religious warfare, and the installation of dictatorships contemptuous of the rights of religious and ethnic minorities.”

Jump!

Nov 03 2014

On This Day In History November 3

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.

November 3 is the 307th day of the year (308th in leap years) in the Gregorian calendar. There are 58 days remaining until the end of the year.

On this day in 1964, residents of the District of Columbia cast their ballots in a presidential election for the first time. The passage of the 23rd Amendment in 1961 gave citizens of the nation’s capital the right to vote for a commander in chief and vice president. They went on to help Democrat Lyndon Johnson defeat Republican Barry Goldwater in 1964, the next presidential election.

Washington, D.C., formally the District of Columbia and commonly referred to as Washington, the District, or simply D.C., is the capital of the United States, founded on July 16, 1790. Article One of the United States Constitution provides for a federal district, distinct from the states, to serve as the permanent national capital. The City of Washington was originally a separate municipality within the federal territory until an act of Congress in 1871 established a single, unified municipal government for the whole District. It is for this reason that the city, while legally named the District of Columbia, is known as Washington, D.C. Named in honor of George Washington, the city shares its name with the U.S. state of Washington located on the country’s Pacific coast.

On July 16, 1790, the Residence Act provided for a new permanent capital to be located on the Potomac River, the exact area to be selected by President Washington. As permitted by the U.S. Constitution, the initial shape of the federal district was a square, measuring 10 miles (16 km) on each side, totaling 100 square miles (260 km2). During 1791-92, Andrew Ellicott and several assistants, including Benjamin Banneker, surveyed the border of the District with both Maryland and Virginia, placing boundary stones at every mile point. Many of the stones are still standing. A new “federal city” was then constructed on the north bank of the Potomac, to the east of the established settlement at Georgetown. On September 9, 1791, the federal city was named in honor of George Washington, and the district was named the Territory of Columbia, Columbia being a poetic name for the United States in use at that time. Congress held its first session in Washington on November 17, 1800.

The Organic Act of 1801 officially organized the District of Columbia and placed the entire federal territory, including the cities of Washington, Georgetown, and Alexandria, under the exclusive control of Congress. Further, the unincorporated territory within the District was organized into two counties: the County of Washington to the east of the Potomac and the County of Alexandria to the west. Following this Act, citizens located in the District were no longer considered residents of Maryland or Virginia, thus ending their representation in Congress.

The Twenty-third Amendment to the United States Constitution was ratified in 1961, granting the District three votes in the Electoral College for the election of President and Vice President, but still no voting representation in Congress.

Nov 03 2014

ACM: Capitalist “Skin and Beat ‘Em” Tactics Against Students and Teachers in Mexico by Galtisalie

Mexico has a lot more to be fearful of than its rural educators and those rural young people who try to make the best of things and both learn and fight to make a just society where students do not have to fight over bones with other students. However, to capitalists, naturally when a poor Latin American country is being destroyed by the capitalist drug war, after being weakened to the point of desperation by capitalist neoliberalism, after being exploited for nearly two centuries by the big neighbor to the north for purposes of capital accumulation, it is time to start changing the subject. Because, after all, Mexico’s problems, as we all know, emanate from the failure of its public school system. That darn Mexican public school system is slow to emulate the wise and knowing educational plans cooked up in conservative Washington think tanks to distract U.S. residents from their own systemic problems, which, among other things, create massive amounts of insecurity and stress which drive demand for legal and illegal hard drugs among U.S. residents, which provides the irrational rationale for the never ending, never succeeding drug war.

Capitalists are so darn smart, handsome, cuddly, and good (except when they get to murderin’ and such) that the Washington Consensus keeps rearing its dapper head–even if it means Mexican teenagers must now lose theirs, and faces too, after standing in solidarity with poor teachers who stand in solidarity with Mexico’s poor. But first, the U.S. Presidential Campaign of 1848 in a nutshell:

◾ Henry Clay, frustrated by Taylor’s popularity as Old “Rough and Ready,” the war hero of Buena Visita, sighed: “I wish I could slay a Mexican.” Don’t sell yourself short dear Henry dear Henry. The U.S. is the gift that keeps on giving–Freeeeeeeedom!

Ah yes, who can forget the son of Freeeeeeeedom, Zachary Taylor, Rumadum Dum? “He’s the boy can skin and beat ’em. … Everybody!” Sounds vaguely familiar, if you are the parent of a missing Mexican college student.

And who can forget the need for the accumulation of U.S. capital (why did Rosa Luxemburg have to go and talk about that?) in our neighbor to the south (which led to all that debt, which led to the Washington Consensus to get debtor nations out of debt so they can incur more debt), which led to resentment by Mexican landed gentry and capitalists, so that, to this day, the Mexican people totter between exploitation by foreign and domestic capitalists–when they are not dodging bullets, heh heh.

I digress (or do I?):

◾”Crisis in Mexico: Could Forty-Three Missing Students Spark a Revolution?” Well, yes, they could. But let’s consider the dry kindling to which the spark has been applied, shall we?

We in the U.S. “know” all about the drug violence. Hell, we know a lot about Mexico. We “know” about the dirty water, heh heh.

Little known in the U.S. is that some Mexican teachers want SYSTEM CHANGE and are paying for it with their careers and even their lives.

“Those thousands of teachers you see blocking the streets of the City have the courage millions of workers in other industries have not had in recent years.”

Alvaro Cueva.

Mexico City August 30, 2013.

http://www.seccion22.org.mx/20…

L, the logo of the Coordinadora Nacional de Trabajadores de la Educación (CNTE), the leftist teachers’ group working in Mexico’s poor southern states which is the radical offshoot of the sell-out Mexican teachers’ union, SNTE:


Radical teachers’ syndicate returns to Mexico City streets

School strike in Oaxaca, Chiapas enters sixth week, as far left union continues disrupting the capital …

               

SNTE demands firing of CNTE teachers

In a related development today the president of another educators’ union, the Sindicato Nacional de Trabajadores de la Educación (SNTE), called for all CNTE strikers to be fired immediately in accord with the just enacted reforms. The new laws provide that any school teacher who fails to show up in the classroom for three consecutive days will be automatically terminated. In Oaxaca state alone 74,000 CNTE teachers have not worked a single day since the new school year opened on Aug. 19, but none have been dismissed. SNTE staged its own work stoppage in Yucatán in early September, but members very responsibly returned to the classroom a week later after reaching an agreement with the PRI state government. “There are thousands of teachers looking for work who would love to fill those spots so children can return to classrooms,” SNTE’s president noted in a public appeal.

CNTE is a splinter group that broke off from SNTE in 1979. Since then union leaders have taken the membership down an increasingly radical political course, often far removed from educational issues.

So reported the conservative Mexico GulfReporter.com over a year ago (http://www.mexicogulfreporter.com/2013/10/radical-teacher-syndicate-returns-to.html)

CNTE provided not only a courageous voice on the streets but also a detailed and thoughtful analysis (Note: the analysis is 218 pages long, so don’t open it if you are in a hurry and don’t read Spanish or wish to use a Translator) of neoliberal educational reforms implemented as part of Mexico’s implementation of the Washington Consensus. And it was a lesson the students of Ayotzinapa learned. The “background” for the students’ own protests and resulting kidnapping was the earlier, and continuing, protesting by the CNTE, joined in solidarity by the sympathetic students.

In an especially chilling twist, the violence seems to have been partly set in motion by the students’ plans to travel to the capital for the commemoration of modern Mexico’s most notorious incident of political violence: the Tlatelolco massacre of Oct 2, 1968.

The Tlatelolco slayings took place 10 days before the opening of the Olympic games in Mexico City. After days of anti-government demonstrations, police and soldiers opened fire on a group of protesters, killing dozens or possibly hundreds. The massacre has been a rallying cry for rights activists and student radicals ever since.

In Iguala, a group of 80 to 120 students from the local teaching college gathered Sept 26 to demonstrate against education reforms and to raise money for their trip to Mexico City.

At the end of the day, they allegedly forced their way onto three buses. It’s unclear if they intended to commandeer them for a trip back their college or all the way to Mexico City.

http://www.washingtonpost.com/…

Could capitalist divide and rule be backfiring in Mexico? Is this marching, so solemn and sad, part of the march to real “freedom,” not U.S.-mandated freedom to be hungry and hopeless at home or invisible and hated on the streets of the U.S.? Where oh where are our leftist divisions in a potentially-revolutionary time like this? Can “WE” finally start sharing our hard-won quasi-jurisdictions and terms of art? E.g., dirt poor Trotskyite teachers, “of all people,” sending of what little they have to provide anarchist-like “mutual aid” to the suffering families of Ayotzinapa, as Zapatistas also now overtly struggle with their non-agrarian comrades.

The mass crime of the 43 missing students and related murders of students may, in its enormity, reinforce efforts to unite the serious Mexican left, something which has not been achieved for much of Mexico’s post-Spanish-independence history. Tragically, over a hundred years ago, agrarian anarcho-communist ancestors of the present-day Zapatistas were rebuffed partly because they did not fully understand factory worker demands but also because many urban anarcho-syndicalists would not accept the Catholic religious traditions of their rural comrades. (For an excellent review of Mexican revolutionary history, focused on 1870-1920, see http://www.selfed.org.uk/node/…

Meanwhile, “I” search for the clicker, and I like think, in between doses of my favorite mind-numbing substance:

What? Mexico is too far away from Nowheresville for me to give a damn (except when it is invading our sacred border, now at the Rio Grande, with Ebola-carrying brown people). Who is Trotsky anyway? Zapatistas? And “anarchy” sounds bad, almost, uh, “Mexicany.” What the hell is “mutual aid”? I got your mutual aid right here. Get me my AR-quince!

“I” may be about to learn a lot more about Mexico and revolution south of the border.

Please go below for a brief caveat from this writer sitting comfortably numb north of the border, far even from Mom’s Opa-Locka, finally trying not to be another brick in the wall.