Tag Archives: capitalism

Why has Warren surged?

Image result for elizabeth warren hillary clinton
Reuters news photo

I posit that one of the reasons for Elizabeth Warren’s current surge in the nationwide polls of 2020 Democratic Party presidential preference is the leftover pain and anger from women voters who didn’t see the first female president elected in 2016.

There was a time not so long ago that I believed that Elizabeth Warren probably should just drop out of the 2020 presidential race already, as she was languishing in the polls and was unable to put the “Pocahontas” bullshit behind her.

However, that has changed, at least for the time being. She now is poised to overtake Bernie Sanders, who has been at second place (behind Joe Biden) for quite a long time now. Here is the graph that accompanies Wikipedia’s page on nationwide polling for the 2020 Democratic Party presidential nomination:

Nationwide opinion polling for the 2020 Democratic Party presidential primaries (higher candidates).svg

Warren is represented by the red line, which sharply is trending upwards. (Biden is the sharply dropping red line and Bernie is the slightly declining orange line.)

If the trend continues, Warren will overtake Bernie, as so many Bernie-haters hope will happen.

Why is Warren surging now? Matt Taibbi’s theory, as to at least the media coverage of Warren’s surge, seems about right to me. He recently wrote for Rolling Stone that

… Warren’s obvious [current] appeal to the conga line of think-tankers and D.C. political consultants currently swooning over her campaign is her perceived utility in helping remove Sanders from the race. It’s why Bernie’s in almost every headline about her rise.

The Sanders campaign has come to expect the doom-saying headlines, even taking them as validation. Echoing the famous FDR quote, “We welcome their hatred,” Sanders campaign manager Faiz Shakir suggested it’s all par for the course.

“This isn’t bean-bag politics,” he said. “It’s a war for what vision of the country you believe in.” …

Indeed, as Taibbi also notes, “Horse race coverage exists so commercial news can cover presidential races without talking about issues.”

Indeed, let’s set up a false horse race between Sanders and Warren instead of talking about the status-quo-disrupting structural reforms that they have advocated. You can’t expect the corporately owned and controlled mass “news” media to advocate for the loss of their own power, can you?

To be clear, as would Taibbi, I would be fine with Warren in the White House.

However, after her fellow Massachusettsans Michael Dukakis and John Kerry lost their presidential bids because they were depicted as clueless eggheads, I’m not at all sure if Warren could beat “President” Pussygrabber, but she has been my second choice, behind Bernie, for a long time now.

Warren is my second choice because she was a Repugnican as late as the 1990s and because she calls herself a capitalist while I see present-day capitalism as very probably beyond anything like meaningful reform. Capitalism is evil, and “reforming” it only means making it a little less evil (if that’s even possible).

Also, of course, I still hold it against Warren that she didn’t have the balls to challenge Repugnican Lite Billary Clinton for the nomination in 2016, and I still believe that Bernie deserves the 2020 nomination in no small part because he did have the balls to go up against the Clinton machine.

If Warren actually ends up getting the nomination, which seems to be a real possibility, since she now is in third place (and since at least for right now both Biden and Bernie are dipping in the polls), it probably will be because she successfully has straddled both worlds: that of the (probably dying) Democratic establishment (in which one dare not to have opposed Queen Billary in 2016) and that of those of us who actually are progressive (and thus, in my book, the only true Democrats; corporate whores, in my book, are not Democrats, not at all).

Part of the reason that Warren appears to be surging now also might be from the lingering disappointment that in 2016 we didn’t get our first female president.

I was fine that we didn’t, as DINO Billary would have been a very disappointing first female president, but I know that millions of American women were crushed to see the first female presidential candidate of either major party be defeated by the likes of Pussygrabber. (And the fact that he lost the popular vote by almost 3 million votes but still ascended to the Oval Office was only salt and lemon juice ground into the wound.)

I’d be fine if Elizabeth Warren were our first female president, but today I’m still backing Bernie.

My third choice probably would be Pete Buttigieg, but I don’t see him getting the nomination, even though he’s surging lately, too. (He is represented by the blue line in the graph above, which shows him at fourth place.)*

I find Joe Biden to be utterly unacceptable, and even if he won the 2020 nomination, I would not vote for him. You can’t whine that the Democratic Party has become too much like the corporate whores who comprise the treasonous Repugnican Party and at the same time support a corporate whore like Joe Biden.**

P.S. I would be remiss if I didn’t mention as a possible if not probable factor in Warren’s current surge the fact that she doggedly has been putting forth progressive policy proposals.

I acknowledge that hard work of hers.

It’s that I rather doubt, in our corporately owned and controlled mediated environment, which is all about personalities and the horse race, that Warren’s hard work much benefits her.

Indeed, in our anti-intellectual national environment, stoked by the likes of fascist and treasonous “President” Pussygrabber and his band of treasonous and fascist grifters, being an intellectual often counts against you, not for you.

*Buttigieg is in third place for me because although the then-young Barack Obama promised “hope” and “change” but delivered only more of the same, I suppose I’m still at least a little susceptible to the supposed political promise of a young upstart.

But perhaps because I felt perpetually punk’d by Obama after he actually took office, I’m still gun shy enough to keep Buttigieg in third place.

**Before you fucking say (or even think) a word, please remember (or educate yourself for the first time…) that the U.S. president is selected under the Electoral College, not by the popular vote, and that the Democratic presidential candidate, whoever it is, will win my very blue state of California and thus all of its electoral votes, no matter how I fucking vote.

Under the awful Electoral College I could fucking vote for Pussygrabber in November 2020 and that wouldn’t at all change the fact that every single one of my state’s electoral votes will go to the Democratic candidate, regardless of who it is.

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Politico: Bernie Sanders has made 2020 presidential announcement video

Image result for bat signal

Bernie Sanders apparently is about to put out the official signal.

Politico reports today:

Bernie Sanders, inching closer to a second bid for the White House, has recorded a campaign video in which he says he is running for president in 2020, according to two people familiar with the spot.

It’s the latest sign the independent senator, the runner-up in the 2016 contest for the Democratic nomination, is nearing a presidential announcement.

Another hint that Sanders is getting closer to a launch: As Politico reported this week, the Sanders team has been interviewing people for top staff positions. Chuck Rocha, a political consultant who advised Sanders’ 2016 campaign, is expected to join him again if a second bid materializes.

It is unclear when, or even whether, the Sanders video will be released. It’s possible that Sanders could launch a 2020 campaign with an exploratory committee and then formally declare his candidacy later, a route other presidential candidates, such as Sen. Elizabeth Warren, have taken. …

I long have assumed that Bernie would run again. As I noted recently, he’d be crazy not to.

Bernie didn’t go away after his surprisingly narrow loss to Queen Billary in 2016. He has remained in the spotlight, introducing such progressive legislation as Medicare for All, most notably (most of the top-tier candidates for the 2020 Democratic presidential nomination signed on to Bernie’s Medicare for All bill), and he released three books after the November 2016 election and has traveled to numerous states since then.

Bernie remains popular — he remains the most popular elected official in the United States — and takes second place only to Joe Biden in reputable nationwide polling of 2020 Democratic Party presidential preference.

If Joe Biden runs, once he starts running his center-right mouth again, the voters will be reminded of why they passed him up on his first two runs for president in 1988 and in 2008, I predict, so Bernie is a strong contender for the nomination.

Not only that, but fivethirtyeight.com’s Nate Silver recently noted that past elections indicate that the more candidates who run in a presidential primary, the more difficult it is for party establishmentarians to ensure that their favorite candidate emerges as the nominee. Silver concludes:

… But the past electoral cycles where the field was nearly as big as this one shouldn’t exactly be comforting to [establishmentarian] Democrats, and it should be particularly worrying for next-in-line candidates such as Biden.

Democratic voters like a lot of their choices and feel optimistic about their chances of beating Trump in 2020. The large field is both a sign that there may not be consensus about the best candidate and a source of unpredictability.

Indeed, 2020 won’t be 2016, in which Bernie and Billary were the only two viable candidates for the Democratic presidential nomination. Recall that no other high-profile Democrat, including Elizabeth Warren, dared to run against Queen Billary in 2016; Bernie was the only U.S. senator who had the balls to do that.

So while Bernie isn’t polling at No. 1 (yet), again, Joe Biden, with his stale Clintonian pro-corporate centrism, is, in my book, a weak candidate given the Democratic Party base’s ongoing shift to the left. Billary either didn’t see that shift or believed that she safely could ignore it, and instead offered only rehashed Clintonism (always served cold) — and look how that turned out for her.

And (along with what Nate Silver stated) with so many Democratic candidates running, of course Bernie stands to gain from not having to face just one establishmentarian opponent, as he faced only Queen Billary in 2016, but in 2019 and 2020 he faces several establishmentarian opponents who are splintering the establishmentarian vote, including five other sitting U.S. senators.*

And, of course, because Bernie won 22 states and 46 percent of the democratically earned delegates in the 2016 primary battle, he starts off already fairly strong. Indeed, unlike the other, weaker candidates who already have announced, Bernie hasn’t had to jump in yet because he already has a sizable base of support.

Finally, the Democratic National Committee that rigged the game for Billary in 2016 — both Elizabeth Warren and Donna Brazile have said that the DNC indeed rigged the game for Billary — is not the same DNC of today.

Former DNC chair and Billarybot Debbie Wasserman Schultz, who was incredibly corrupt, resigned in disgrace, and new chair Tom Perez is much more decent and fair; Team Bernie got some important DNC reforms, most notably the reining in of the anti-democratic “super-delegates” who helped Billary “win” (by making her appear to be inevitable [like with the Borg, resistance reportedly was futile]) before we peons even got to participate in a primary election or caucus; and Clintonism, for the most part, died when Billary tanked in November 2016.

My guess is that once Bernie’s second presidential bid is official, not only will his poll numbers go up and Biden’s and (most) everyone else’s will go down, but his pre-existing army of supporters from 2016 will flood his campaign coffers with individual donations (I sure will!).

We Berners aren’t dead; we are diehards and we’ve just been waiting for Bernie’s bat signal, and once it is illuminating the sky, it’s on.

*Those five senators are Cory Booker, Kirsten Gillibrand, Kamala Harris, Amy Klobuchar and Elizabeth Warren.

Booker, Gillibrand and Klobuchar indisputably are establishmentarian party hacks, and Harris, in my book, is just co-opting Bernie’s positions in order to try to siphon off some of his support.

I have lived in California for more than 20 years now, and Harris never has been a remarkable progressive. She never has taken a position that wasn’t politically safe for her. (She publicly opposes such things as lynching — as though that were a bold, controversial stance, as though a majority of Americans support lynchings and as though lynchings still were commonplace. [Next, she’ll boldly come out against slavery!])

And Elizabeth Warren — I’m falling out of love with her. Not only is she not campaigning well, including the “Pocahontas” stuff, but she was too much of a party hack to oppose Billary in 2016 and she won’t call herself a democratic socialist, but either truly believes that capitalism can be reformed (it cannot be) or is just too fucking cowardly to embrace democratic socialism, as she was too cowardly to face Billary in 2016.

Liz Warren is more of an establishmentarian Democrat than anything else. (Also, of course, she used to be a Repugnican as late as the 1990s. Oh, yeah.)

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Focusing on racism, real and contrived, will ensure that ‘shitholes’ remain so

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Image from trumphole.tumblr.com

“President” Pussygrabber on Thursday told a group of U.S. senators and representatives that he doesn’t want people from “shithole countries” immigrating to the United States. I always thought of a “shithole” as that hole in the “president’s” face that continuously spews out shit, but whatever…

The definition of a “shithole” is “an extremely dirty, shabby or otherwise unpleasant place.”

In comparison to standard (that is, at-least-middle-class) U.S. living conditions, there are many “shitholes” outside of the United States and, of course, within the U.S.

Haiti, for instance, would be a “shithole” as defined above. There’s no calling Haiti a fucking paradise, methinks. And most of the world’s most impoverished nations indeed are in Africa.

However, there is a difference between you or I using the term “shithole” and the “president” using the term, and there is a difference between (fairly objectively, once we have defined the term) calling a place a “shithole” — and then thereby deeming its inhabitants to be inherently inferior (which pretty much is the definition of “racism”).

“President” Pussygrabber’s mere use of the term “shithole” obviously is not presidential (but nothing about him is presidential), but it’s not necessarily racist in and of itself. Again, if an impoverished region or nation accurately can be called a “shithole,” then, indeed, “shitholes” abound.

That said, Pussygrabber’s professed preferences among the world’s nations from which he believes we should accept immigrants absolutely reeks of racism.

The Washington Post yesterday indicated that during a meeting with lawmakers in the Oval Office on Thursday, Pussygrabber referred to Haiti, El Salvador and African nations as “shitholes” from which he wants no immigrants and proclaimed that he prefers immigrants from nations like Norway.*

I don’t know how else to translate that except that Pussygrabber, like his supporters and most of the members of the Repugnican Party, prefers white immigrants (especially those with money**) to non-white immigrants, especially brown-skinned immigrants (and especially those without money).

The United States is supposed to be a welcoming nation. At the Statue of Liberty is this plaque of Emma Lazarus’ poem “The New Colossus”:

File:Emma Lazarus plaque.jpg

The poem goes:

Not like the brazen giant of Greek fame,
With conquering limbs astride from land to land;
Here at our sea-washed, sunset gates shall stand
A mighty woman with a torch, whose flame
Is the imprisoned lightning, and her name
MOTHER OF EXILES. From her beacon-hand
Glows world-wide welcome; her mild eyes command
The air-bridged harbor that twin cities frame.

“Keep, ancient lands, your storied pomp!” cries she
With silent lips. “Give me your tired, your poor,
Your huddled masses yearning to breathe free,
The wretched refuse of your teeming shore.
Send these, the homeless, tempest-tost to me,
I lift my lamp beside the golden door!”

The second stanza is the most-quoted, but the first stanza is important, too: “Not like the brazen giant of Greek fame, With conquering limbs astride from land to land” is an anti-imperialist and anti-militarist sentiment, a sentiment that has been largely to mostly lost; for many if not even most American citizens, the U.S. is and always should remain the conquering colossus, not the “mother of exiles.”

And “Keep, ancient lands, your storied pomp!” sounds pretty fucking anti-aristocratic to me. Yet “President” Pussygrabber blatantly proclaims that he much prefers “your storied pomp” to “your tired, your poor, Your huddled masses yearning to breathe free, The wretched refuse of your teeming shore.” Don’t send these! he repeatedly proclaims.

But ironically, the standard of living that most Americans enjoy largely to even mostly comes at the expense of those from poorer, exploited nations whose inhabitants Pussygrabber and his supporters want to keep out.

Indeed, the United States is not the “mother of exiles,” but is that conquering colossus that helps to create exiles. Many if not most — probably most — of us U.S. citizens, in order to deny our role in poverty here and abroad, tell ourselves and each other that poverty primarily is caused by individual laziness and stupidity (and perhaps also by racial inferiority).

To further exculpate ourselves, we callously ignore major factors in global poverty, including the brutal effects of European colonialism that still grip billions of people today, including brutal global capitalism and the insane income inequality that it creates, climate change (caused, of course, by capitalism) and other environmental devastation (caused, of course, by capitalism) and otherwise harsh environments that make it difficult to impossible for human beings to thrive.

Indeed, many to most (probably most) U.S. citizens are perfectly fine with insane income inequality from capitalist exploitation and with environmental devastation from capitalist exploitation — as long as they are not among the worst victims of these wrongs.

Our moral duty as U.S. citizens is to try to help those around the globe — by living more sustainably and more responsibly and less selfishly ourselves, if nothing else — not to shut out those who aren’t as materially successful as we are and who aren’t as materially successful as we are in no tiny part because of us.

In our current environment of toxic identity politics, though — which is aided and abetted by many if not most who call themselves “Democrats” — all that we want to see is racism (and/or sexism/misogyny), real and even fabricated, because focusing only on identity politics, which keeps capitalist exploitation perfectly intact, allows us to continue to blithely ignore the socioeconomic devastation that plagues billions of human beings around the globe for our own selfish benefit.

We’ll say that we oppose racism, that you shouldn’t be judged based upon the color of your skin, but we’ll still gladly allow you to die en masse because of the excessive lifestyle that we refuse to relinquish.

“Mother of exiles”? Hell, no! We’re the motherfucking U. S. of A., the conquering colossus!

P.S. Race and class are indeed closely intertwined. There very apparently is a close correlation between race and income level in the United States, for example. Per Wikipedia, in 2015 the median household income for Asians in the U.S. was $74,245; for whites, $59,698; and for blacks, $36,544, the lowest median household income for all races.

As I have noted many times before, it rankles me that while we American commoners are too busy discussing race, often fighting among ourselves over it, our plutocratic overlords continue to increase income inequality, which harms people of all races.

That said, we have to walk and chew gum at the same time; we have to fight both racism and income inequality at the same time. Thing is, you can’t legislate a racist becoming a non-racist.*** You can, however, pass legislation (eliminate tax loopholes for corporations, raise taxes on the super-rich, keep raising the minimum wage, etc.) to reduce income inequality.

Finally, because race and class are so closely intertwined, in the case of “President” Pussygrabber, who was born into wealth (apparently he inherited his family’s real-estate business), to me it’s difficult to tell how classist he is vs. how racist he is.

For example, is his main problem with Haitans that most of them are black — or that most of them are poor?

Despite the fact that he was born with a platinum spoon in his mouth, Pussygrabber apparently equates being poor with being a loser, and, perhaps because of his German background, he sees the poor as being weak and thus undesirable, and he always has shown a Nazi Germanic obsession with strength as he defines it.

After all, Pussygrabber advocates that immigrants to the U.S. already be rich, very apparently missing the fact that for many if not most of these already-rich immigrants, coming to the U.S. would be a step down.

*Pussygrabber is OK with some Asian immigrants, WaPo quotes the White House, since Asians tend to have and to make money. Pussygrabber apparently really has it out for the Haitians, probably because they’re the most impoverished nation that’s closest to the United States (as well as because of their race, of course), but, to be fair, U.S. immigration policy long has been rough on Haitians, including the historical preference for Cuban immigrants over Haitian immigrants, even though the island nations are neighbors.

**Why the fuck would white immigrants who live in nations whose governments actually believe in taking care of their inhabitants and their environment want to come to the United States, only to be thrown, like chum, to the corporations for their shark-like, treasonous profiteering? (Western nations whose per-capita wealth is higher than that of the United States include Norway, Ireland and Switzerland.)

***That said, anti-discrimination laws and hate-crime laws are critically important; perhaps you cannot change a racist’s mind, but you have to punish a racist’s crimes against others.

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‘President’ Pussygrabber sets fascist, deregulatory, anti-government tone

“These smug pilots have lost touch with regular passengers like us. Who thinks I should fly the plane?”

Cartoon from The New Yorker

I watched “President” Pussygrabber’s inauguration speech live today out of a sense of obligation to know exactly what toxic propaganda the fascist in chief is spewing into the political environment.

Thankfully it was a fairly short speech, and right off the bat Pussygrabber showed us the direction he’s dragging us in: Gub-mint baaad!

To hear Pussygrabber tell it, the nation’s ills are due to the craven, selfish gub-mint workers in D.C. (federal elected officials and federal civil servants, I presume) who for the past several years have been working for themselves instead of for the American people (I’d thought that it was the Mexicans and the Muslims whom we need to dispose of in order to Make America Great Again, but whatever…).

Pussygrabber huffed and puffed:

… For too long, a small group in our nation’s Capital has reaped the rewards of government while the people have borne the cost.

Washington flourished — but the people did not share in its wealth.

Politicians prospered — but the jobs left, and the factories closed.

The establishment protected itself, but not the citizens of our country.

Their victories have not been your victories; their triumphs have not been your triumphs; and while they celebrated in our nation’s Capital, there was little to celebrate for struggling families all across our land.

That all changes — starting right here, and right now, because this moment is your moment: it belongs to you. …*

It’s funny, because I could have sworn that our corporate and other plutocratic overlords, most of them not in government, committed these crimes against us commoners — including by, yes, buying off way too many of those in D.C. — and it’s not that Pussygrabber truly believes that the government hasn’t helped the citizenry enough; no, it’s that the government has helped the citizenry too much, has been too regulatory.

The treasonous profiteers have a harder time treasonously profiteering at the expense of the people and of the planet when the government effectively is regulating bad actors.

Thus, we must put an anti-Environmental Protection Agency guy in charge of the EPA, an anti-Department of Energy guy in charge of the Department of Energy, an anti-public-school woman in charge of the Department of Education, and a white supremacist in charge of the Department of Justice, to name only some of the examples of Pussygrabbers’ having appointed rabid foxes on crack to guard the hen house.

And, of course, the filthy rich — Pussygrabber’s cohorts — want their massive tax breaks, and doing good, beneficial things for the citizenry takes tax dollars; therefore, we must convince the citizenry that the government spending tax dollars on them (even their own tax dollars) is bad.

And of course Pussygrabber and his deregulatory ilk have to falsely frame their deregulation schemes in terms of helping the average U.S. citizen when, in fact, deregulation more often than not harms the average citizen.

It’s all good, though; when the United States of America becomes a complete fucking free-for-all, a treasonous profiteer’s wet dream of deregulation, there will be wailing and gnashing of teeth among the vast majority of those who incredibly stupidly voted for Pussygrabber. (Unfortunately, there also will be suffering for the millions of us who did not vote for Pussygrabber, and about 3 million more of us did not vote for him than did.)

Of course a billionaire never had any intention whatsofuckingever of helping the little guy. After all, he stole his billions from the legions of little guys. (You don’t get filthy rich by working; you get rich via the legalized thievery that is capitalism.)

In short order I expect the nation to go right back to the state it was at the end of “President” George W. Bush’s eight illegitimate years (or worse). I expect another nationwide economic collapse and environmental catastrophes (natural and man-made) for which the government is wholly unprepared and/or unwilling to manage effectively.

And, of course, we’ll probably have at least another unnecessary war; after all, as BushCheneyCorp knew fully well, the war profiteers can’t profiteer without a war, and it’s not that hard to fabricate a casus belli; a relentless campaign of propagandist lies will do the trick, as it did for the Vietraq War.

I mean, Pussygrabber already has started out just as Gee Dubya did: with a stolen presidential election. Nothing good follows a stolen election; a stolen election can be nothing else but a harbinger of doom. An individual who loses the popular vote but who takes office anyway isn’t a democratically elected individual.

And an individual who becomes president with the help of a foreign, enemy nation is a traitor — we’ll see how hard “President” Pussygrabber works to quash all further investigation into his very apparently treasonous ties to Russia and to his apparent puppeteer Putin.

With a patently fascist and treasonous “president” in the White House yet once again — yes, thank you, Gee Dubya, for helping to prepare us at least to some degree for Donald J. Trump — I am happy that I live in California, where regulation by the government makes our citizens’ lives better, not worse (if it decreases some bad corporate actors’ profits, oh, boo fucking hoo), and where I at least somewhat will be protected from the worst excesses from the unelected Pussygrabber regime.

We Californians, who reside in by far the most populous state in the nation and who voted for Billary Clinton over Pussygrabber by a margin of almost two to one, are not having this Pussygrabber bullshit and we plan to resist him the way that the Repugnican Teatards treasonously resisted the actually democratically elected Barack Obama every fucking step of the way.

As unpleasant as it is for me to hear “President” Pussygrabber speak even a short sentence, while he sickens me, as all neo-Nazis do — seriously, listening to even his short inauguration speech, one of the worst ever given, was work for me — I don’t feel that I didn’t do enough to try to prevent a “President” Trump.

From Day One I was a strong supporter of actual populist Bernie Sanders, whom I always saw as more likely to win the White House than the unlikable, corrupt, faux populist, Democrat in name only, Repugnican Lite Billary Clinton.

I gave Sanders’ presidential campaign more than $1,000 over time and spent countless hours writing about him and discussing him with others. I even stood on my feet for at least two hours waiting to see him at a rally attended by thousands here in Sacramento in May.

But in the end, the “Democratic” dead-enders shoved the coronation of Billary Clinton down our throats — even though the nationwide polls, right up to the end of the Democratic Party presidential primary elections and caucuses, consistently showed Bernie Sanders doing much better against Donald Trump than she — and as a result of that colossal collective “Democratic” stupidity, we now have “President” Pussygrabber.

Yes, blame the fucktards who voted for Pussygrabber in the general election, but blame the fucktards who supported Billary Clinton in the Democratic Party presidential primaries and caucuses, too.

Clintonism finally is dead now, thank Goddess, but now we have to deal with “President” Pussygrabber and the damage that he is going to wreak through his systematic dismantling of our institutions in order to benefit himself, his family and his rich cronies.

We survived George W. Bush, but I don’t know whether we’ll survive Pussygrabber.

I only know that I am part of the resistance, even though my conscience is clear and even though I can say, Don’t blame me — I voted for Bernie!

*Of course corruption, fraud, waste and abuse and even inefficiency should be rooted out in all levels of government and corrected, and of course in some states and locales (the vast majority of them Repugnican-controlled) the governments actually don’t do the people’s business but do the plutocrats’ business, but on the whole, all levels of government do the citizenry much more good than harm.

Government is all that stands between us peasants and our corporate overlords getting absolutely everything that they want from us and doing absolutely everything that they want to do to us.

This is why “President” Pussygrabber and his ilk want to destroy, or at least seriously cripple, government: So they can get to us more quickly and more easily.

“President” Pussygrabber must distract the angry hordes carrying torches and pitchforks from the real enemy: our millionaire and billionaire corporate overlords like Pussygrabber. Indeed, as the new head of the Repugnican Party, this is one of Pussygrabber’s chief jobs: to keep the faux populist propaganda flowing and to keep publicly identifying the wrong enemies of the people (Mexican immigrants, Muslims, and now, apparently, government workers and elected officials) so that our treasonous corporate overlords can continue to fuck us over blind.

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RIP, Fidel; if you were a monster, the United States of America created you

Image result for fidel castro

Fidel Castro, the “dictator” next door to the United States for decades, died yesterday. If Castro was a monster — and like almost all human beings are, he was, of course, neither a devil nor an angel but a mixed bag — then the United States of America created him.

As I’ve written before, love him or hate him, Cuban leader Fidel Castro was a survivor. He made it to 90 years before he died yesterday.

Within the United States, Castro very mostly was a bogeyman — but rarely have we Americans been given much, if any, detail as to why we’re supposed to hate him blindly obediently. (At most, we’re told simplistically that he’s a “bad” man, a “Commie,” a “dictator,” a “tyrant” who “hates the United States of America,” “hates freedom,” etc., etc.* Even to question this knee-jerk, right-wing narrative is to risk being called anti-American.)

All of that is because intellectually and ethically honest detail would reveal how the United States of America has meddled anti-democratically in Latin American affairs for decades, having imperialistically and anti-democratically considered the entire Western hemisphere subject to its own jurisdiction at least since the Monroe Doctrine was issued in 1823.

There were so many attempts by the United States to assassinate or otherwise topple Castro — we’re talking not just the Bay of Pigs (the miserably failed U.S.-backed attempt to overthrow Castro in April 1961), but also numerous unsuccessful assassination attempts that were perpetrated by the Central Intelligence Agency, the U.S. Department of Defense and the U.S. State Department — as well as by the American Mafia — that it’s no fucking wonder that over the years Castro became more autocratic.

You’re not paranoid if they really are trying to kill you or oust you, and had Castro not ruled Cuba with an iron fist, no doubt his greedy, self-serving detractors would have done their damnedest to turn the sovereign nation of Cuba into an American colony for corporate profiteering once again.

We saw the dynamic with Fidel Castro repeated with the late socialist Venezuelan President Hugo Chavez; a U.S.-backed anti-democratic coup attempt against Chavez in April 2002 failed (Chavez was only briefly deposed and replaced with an unelected right-wing oil magnate before the people of Venezuela took to the streets and demanded Chavez’s return), and that failed anti-democratic coup attempt (which was a bit like a Bay of Pigs 2.0) no doubt made Chavez more autocratic, and of course Chavez’s detractors conveniently acted thereafter as though the failed 2002 coup attempt by anti-democratic right-wingers had never happened at all.

The United States made Chavez, and before him it had made Castro.

If a Latin American nation wants a left-of-center, truly democratic government that, entirely unlike the U.S. government, actually does its job — which is to serve the needs and wishes of its people instead of the greed of American and transnational corporations and the treasonous plutocrats and kleptocrats who own them and profiteer from them — then it must protect itself from anti-democratic, toxic capitalist infiltration from abroad.

American wingnuts criticize Latin America for simply defending itself from foreign invasion and infiltration, although of course the United States always reserves the right to protect itself from such. Latin America is to disarm unilaterally, you see, and just allow American and other corporate robber barons to destroy it.

Fidel Castro stood up to the foreign anti-democratic and capitalist invasion and infiltration of his nation for decades. He was so hated because he was so successful; he was so hated because he refused to simply hand over his nation’s resources and well-being to the American and transnational corporations in exchange for for his own selfish, treasonous enrichment, like a “good” Latin American leader “should.”*

None of this is to simply and wholly overlook Castro’s wrongdoings.

Amnesty International’s nutshell on Cuba is this:

Government critics continue to be imprisoned; many report that they were beaten during arrest. Restrictions on freedom of expression is widespread. The government curtails freedom of association and assembly. The U.S. embargo against Cuba remains, despite increasing opposition to it within and outside the U.S.A.

Human Rights Watch’s nutshell on Cuba is similar:

The Cuban government continues to repress dissent and discourage public criticism. It now relies less on long-term prison sentences to punish its critics, but short-term arbitrary arrests of human rights defenders, independent journalists, and others have increased dramatically in recent years. Other repressive tactics employed by the government include beatings, public acts of shaming, and the termination of employment.

I don’t defend all of this, but at the same time it’s not ethically or intellectually honest to strip Cuba from its historical, sociopolitical context, including having the world’s most imperialist nation ever-lurking and ever-looming just to its north.

If Castro had governed Cuba with a laissez-faire philosophy, as the capitalists always have claimed that he should have, how long would Cuba have been free from foreign corporate domination?

Um, yeah.

We Americans can hate Fidel Castro all that we want, but we can’t deny that we created him.

Cuba’s first struggle was to free itself from imperialist Spain; then its struggle was to free itself from the imperialist United States of America.

And Cuba still struggles to be free, because the “freedom” that the United States would impose upon it — and yes, the United States ironically and hypocritically believes in imposing “freedom” — would only once again make it a slave to the United States.

P.S. I would be remiss of me not to note Cuba’s world-class education and health-care systems.

Cuba’s literacy rate of 99.8 percent and high-school graduation rate of 94 percent is higher than the United States’ official literacy rate of 99 percent (which some believe is quite inflated) and high-school graduation rate of 82 percent, and Cuba’s life expectancy of 79.1 years puts it just behind the United States’ life expectancy of 79.3 years.

Castro’s Cuba achieved this despite the United States’ having tried to destroy it (again, in the name of “freedom,” ironically and hypocritically) — and having desired to turn it back into a subservient slave state — for decades.

*And let’s fucking face it: Whether the American right wing calls you a “dictator” or a “tyrant” or the like depends not upon whether you were democratically elected, but depends entirely upon whether you have done the bidding of the American right wing.

Brutal Chilean dictator Augosto Pinochet, for instance, was a mass murderer and torturer who most definitely was not elected but who — with the help of the U.S. government (surprise, surprise!) — overthrew the actually democratically elected socialist Chilean President Salvador Allende in 1973 and ruled Chile until 1990.

However, the American right wing (as well as the fascist Margaret Thatcher) loved Pinochet because he did their bidding.

The right wing hated Castro because unlike Pinochet did, Castro refused to be their lapdog.

May the sovereign nation of Cuba continue to resist colonization by the rapacious, imperialist United States of America — and work on improving human rights while preserving the gains of the Cuban Revolution.

P.S. I didn’t even need to mention Pinochet, although he’s a textbook example of a U.S.-backed dictator in Latin America. I could have stayed within Cuba itself.

Most “news” write-ups of Fidel Castro’s death conveniently ignore the fact that Castro overthrew the U.S.-backed dictator Fulgencio Batista, who ruled Cuba in the 1950s while unelected.

Wikipedia notes of Batista’s reign (links are Wikipedia’s):

… Back in power, and receiving financial, military, and logistical support from the United States government, Batista suspended the 1940 Constitution and revoked most political liberties, including the right to strike. He then aligned with the wealthiest landowners who owned the largest sugar plantations, and presided over a stagnating economy that widened the gap between rich and poor Cubans.

Eventually it reached the point where most of the sugar industry was in U.S. hands, and foreigners owned 70 percent of the arable land. As such, Batista’s increasingly corrupt and repressive government then began to systematically profit from the exploitation of Cuba’s commercial interests, by negotiating lucrative relationships with both the American Mafia, who controlled the drug, gambling, and prostitution businesses in Havana, and with large U.S.-based multinational companies who were awarded lucrative contracts.

To quell the growing discontent among the populace — which was subsequently displayed through frequent student riots and demonstrations — Batista established tighter censorship of the media, while also utilizing his Bureau for the Repression of Communist Activities secret police to carry out wide-scale violence, torture and public executions; ultimately killing anywhere from hundreds to 20,000 people. …

Again: In the right-wing United States of America, drunk on toxic capitalism, a dictator is called a dictator only if he isn’t a right-wing dictator and doesn’t do what the American right wing wants him to do. Treasonously selling out his own nation to American profiteers makes him a “good” dictator (only, of course, in that event, we don’t even call him a dictator).

It doesn’t matter in and of itself if a dictator suspends his nation’s constitution, revokes his nation’s citizens’ rights, tortures and kills his political dissidents, refuses to stand for election, etc.; all that matters is whether or not he does the bidding of the hypocritical assholes of the United States of America.

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88 years for a U.S. president to travel 90 miles; Cubans still have more to lose

President Barack Obama, right, shakes hands with Cuba's Foreign Minister Bruno Rodriguez as first lady Michelle Obama stands behind, right, upon arrival to the airport in Havana, Cuba, Sunday, March 20, 2016. Obama's trip is a crowning moment in his and Cuban President Raul Castro's ambitious effort to restore normal relations between their countries. (Cubadebate/Ismael Francisco via AP)

Associated Press photo

The caption for the AP news photo above reads: “President Barack Obama, right, shakes hands with Cuba’s Foreign Minister Bruno Rodriguez as first lady Michelle Obama stands behind, right, upon arrival to the airport in Havana, Cuba, [today]. Obama’s trip is a crowning moment in his and Cuban President Raul Castro’s ambitious effort to restore normal relations between their countries.”

The caption for the AP news photo below reads: “A poster features portraits of Cuba’s President Raul Castro, left, and U.S. President Barack Obama and reads in Spanish, ‘Welcome to Cuba’ outside a restaurant in Havana, Cuba, [on Thursday]. Obama is scheduled to travel to the island [today], the first U.S. presidential trip to Havana in nearly 90 years.”

Steps Obama has taken to ease US restrictions on Cuba

Associated Press photo

If I can’t say much that’s positive about the Obama years — and I can’t* we at least can note that today Barack Obama historically became the first sitting U.S. president in 88 years to visit our island neighbor of Cuba. (Before today, Calvin Coolidge last visited Cuba, in 1928...)

It is pathetic that the United States remains so largely inimical to a nation only 90 miles away from it, but the history of Cuba and the United States (and Spain, too) is, um, complicated.

In its report on Cuba for 2015, Human Rights Watch noted:

The Cuban government continues to repress dissent and discourage public criticism. It now relies less on long-term prison sentences to punish its critics, but short-term arbitrary arrests of human rights defenders, independent journalists, and others have increased dramatically in recent years. Other repressive tactics employed by the government include beatings, public acts of shaming, and the termination of employment.

There are elections in Cuba, in which those 16 years and older may vote, but as only the Communist Party is allowed to exist, these elections are fairly bullshit; Cubans are allowed to chose only from those who pay fealty to the Communist Party (again, the only party that there is).

That said, here in the United States of America we have elections, but since the corporations give most of our elected officials obscene amounts of campaign cash and other monetary rewards to do their bidding instead of to act in the public good, and since this treasonous bullshit has been going on at least since the first (and hopefully the last) President Clinton, our corporately owned and controlled parties have become pretty indistinguishable — the Coke Party and the Pepsi Party, I think of them lovingly — and so our so-called democracy is pretty fucking hollow, too.

For all intents and purposes, we Americans pretty much have one-party rule, as do the Cubans.

How else to explain that the lives of us American commoners never get better? If we had an actual democracy — a socialist democracy — instead of a corporatocracy/kleptocracy, our lives would actually improve.

Wingnuts, who want to turn Cuba into a wage-slave capitalist nation like the United States is (and who also, of course, want to turn Cuba into an island resort for wealthier Americans, as it used to be), routinely uber-hyperbolically claim that the Castro regime routinely executes its political opponents, but I see no mention in the Human Rights Watch report on Cuba linked to above that executions continue there.

(And, of course, our buddy Saudi Arabia continues to execute people — by public beheading, no less — and we Americans are perfectly fine with that, because we want fuel for our gas-guzzlers.

Also, I should add, the Cuban government since 2001 has had a moratorium on capital punishment, from which it made one exception in 2003, when it executed three people. The United States executed 22 people alone in 2015. [Texas is the most bloodthirsty state, having executed more than 525 people since 1976, whereas since 1976, 16 states have executed fewer than eight people each.])

Wikipedia does report that in the early years of the Castro regime there apparently were executions, with estimates ranging from around 220 executions from 1959 to 1987 (per Amnesty International) to many thousands (most of these latter accusers are anti-Castro wingnuts with an ax to grind, I surmise).

Wikipedia notes that

The Cuban government justified such measures on the grounds that the application of the death penalty in Cuba against war criminals and others followed the same procedure as that seen in the trials by the Allies in the Nuremberg trials.

Some Cuban scholars maintain that had the government not applied severe legislation against the torturers, terrorists, and other criminals employed by the Batista regime, the people themselves would have taken justice into their own hands.

and that

The vast majority of those executed following the 1959 [Castro] revolution were policemen, politicians and informers of the [Fulgencio] Batista regime accused of crimes such as torture and murder, and their public trials and executions had widespread popular support among the Cuban population.

Scholars generally agree that those executed were probably guilty as accused, but that the trials did not follow due process.

Fulgencio Batista, the U.S.-backed, right-wing dictator whom Fidel Castro and crew overthrew in 1959, is credited with having executed anywhere from 1,000 to 20,000 of his political opponents, but because he was right-wing, the right wing doesn’t talk about that.

Besides, to the wingnuts, right-wing dictators aren’t really dictators, since they are right-wing — as long as they obey American capitalists, that is (usually, this means handing over their nations’ natural resources [and human resources, in terms of very cheap labor] to American corporations for their profiteering, no matter how much this harms the host [“host” as in the victim of a parasite] nations) — and surely the left-wing rabble whom right-wing dictators have slaughtered had it coming.

So Cuba has a long way to go in terms of human rights — it must move to allow freer speech and political dissent, including allowing the existence of opposition parties and holding real, meaningful elections — but I understand, I believe, why the Cuban government is so closed off and so authoritarian: It knows that if the capitalists from the north can get their greedy fingers on the island and turn it into a wage-slave nation in which only a few prosper while the working-poor masses suffer from the obscene profiteering of the few, they will.

For this reason, as I have written**, while I welcome at least some opening up of Cuba (where I’d like to visit one day), I fear for the people of Cuba, too, lest the virulent pestilence that is anti-democratic wage-slave capitalism (masquerading as “democracy” and “freedom”) infect their sovereign island nation from the north.

The Cuban people would fare worse as wage slaves to American (and other) corporations than they fare now. 

Capitalistic oppression is no better, in terms of what it does to the human spirit, than is (big-“C”) Communist oppression.

*As I’ve noted here a million times, he had the opportunity and the political capital in 2009 and 2010 to push through a progressive agenda, and he spectacularly declined to do so, and once the Repugnican Tea Party traitors took back the House in 2010, that meant gridlock for the remainder of Obama’s presidency (and “Obamacare,” his “signature” “achievement,” contains virtually nothing that the for-profit health-insurance industry didn’t want it to contain).

**I wrote back in December 2014:

One of U.S. President Barack Obama’s best moves is his decision to open diplomatic relations with the government of Cuba after more than 50 years of a pointless cold war with the island nation.

For all of the selfish whining of the tiny but loud minority of Cuban-American wingnuts — who always have been a bunch of fucking ingrates who believe that they should control U.S. foreign policy — ironically, Cubans have a lot more to lose than do Americans should the United States and Cuba ever become super-cozy.

The typical Cuban, after all, has better access to higher education and health care than does the average American. The typical Cuban’s life expectancy is close behind the typical American’s and Cubans’ life expectancy ranks No. 1 among the Latin American nations.

Cuba has universal health care (yes, health care is a human right, and shouldn’tbe an opportunity for profiteering) and Cuba’s literacy rate of 99.8 percent beats the United States’ rate of 99 percent.

Not that Cuba is perfect, perhaps especially on the measure of freedom of speech, but, of course, the United States, which, among other things, calls torture “enhanced interrogation” (someone recently remarked that that’s like calling rape “enhanced dating”) and slaughters scores of innocent civilians by drones in the name of “democracy,” isn’t exactly a paragon of human rights itself, is it?

However, would it benefit most Cubans for American corporations to muscle back into the nation and turn most Cubans into wage slaves, like most Americans are? (Capitalism is, after all, wage slavery that of course creates insane socioeconomic inequality.) Are Cubans really just itching for such wonderful imported American “freedoms” as crushing student-loan debt, wage slavery and bankruptcy from insane health-care costs?

You’d think the rabidly wingnutty Cuban Americans would salivate over the idea of turning Cuba into a cash cow for the corporations again, as it was when darling-of-the-right-wing dictator Fulgencio Batista, who couldn’t sell out the people of Cuba enough to American corporations for his own benefit and the benefit of his fellow elites, was in power.

But what’s up the right-wing Cuban-American ingrates’ asses is that they expect the U.S. government to maintain a cold war with Cuba on their behalf for eternity. They believe that their bitterness against Fidel Castro, who overthrew dictator Batista in the Cuban Revolution of the 1950s, should be reflected by U.S. governmental policy toward Cuba in perpetuity.

(Batista, by the way, fled Cuba on January 1, 1959, with hundreds of millions of dollars he’d taken through obscene corruption and after having slaughtered as many as 20,000 of his political opponents. This is the kind of man, like murderous Chilean dictator Agosto Pinochet, who gets the support of the right wing.

If you think that I’m full of shit, know that President John Kennedy said of Batista that his was “one of the most bloody and repressive dictatorships in the long history of Latin American repression” and that Kennedy wrote this:

I believe that there is no country in the world including any and all the countries under colonial domination, where economic colonization, humiliation and exploitation were worse than in Cuba, in part owing to my country’s policies during the Batista regime.

I approved the proclamation which Fidel Castro made in the Sierra Maestra, when he justifiably called for justice and especially yearned to rid Cuba of corruption.

I will even go further: to some extent it is as though Batista was the incarnation of a number of sins on the part of the United States. Now we shall have to pay for those sins.

In the matter of the Batista regime, I am in agreement with the first Cuban revolutionaries. That is perfectly clear.

Um, yeah.)

To open diplomatic relations with another nation is not to agree with everything that nation does and has done. Certainly the U.S. government and the governments of China and Russia don’t agree on everything, but they maintain diplomatic relations nonetheless.

The teeny-tiny minority of right-wing Cuban-Americans and their supporters (including, of course, the craven politicians who want right-wing Cuban-Americans’ money and votes, such as right-wing Cuban-American scumbags U.S. Sen. Marco Rubio and U.S. Rep. Ileana Ros-Lehtinen of Florida) need to shut the fuck up and put the greater good of the American people and the Cuban people above their own selfish political agendas, and they need to wake the fuck up and stop expecting the rest of us, the vast majority, to maintain their insane cold war of more than five decades.

I support diplomatic relations with Cuba because Cuba has much to teach the United States, which, of course, just might be just what the Cuban-American wingnuts fear most.

But, again, it is Cubans, not Americans, who have the most to lose in significantly close ties between the two nations.

The specter of Cubans once again being oppressed by the craven corporate America is, in fact, the only reason that I would or could oppose diplomatic relations with Cuba.

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Michael Moore’s new film on socialism* opens across the nation tomorrow

Where-to-Invade-Next_poster_goldposter_com_3

Michael Moore’s new film “Where to Invade Next,” which interestingly coincides with democratic socialist Bernie Sanders’ campaign for the presidency, starts tomorrow. You can see if it’s playing near you by visiting the film’s website (click or tap here) and clicking or tapping on “screenings.”

In my fifth decade of life, not much excites me anymore, but I’m still excited by a new Michael Moore movie.

I saw Moore’s breakthrough film, “Bowling for Columbine,” here in Sacramento at one of our historical art houses when it came out — and Moore himself made an appearance inside of the movie theater and spoke for a while during the showing, which was a great treat.

(“Columbine” went on to win the Oscar for Best Documentary for 2002. “Sicko” was nominated for Best Documentary for 2007, and Wikipedia notes that “Fahrenheit 9/11, at the time the highest-grossing documentary film in movie history, was ruled ineligible [for an Oscar nomination] because Moore had opted to have it played on television prior to the 2004 election.”)

While Bernie Sanders has stopped mentioning Denmark in his public appearances (Sanders does take feedback and he fairly rapidly adjusts accordingly), Moore’s newest film, “Where to Invade Next,” at least on its face seems to be an ad for Bernie, as in the film Moore apparently doesn’t travel to Denmark but does travel to Finland, Iceland and Norway (and to Germany, Italy, Portugal and France and other nations) and points out the areas in which these other nations do a much better job of taking care of their peoples than the United States does of taking care of its own.

The popularity of “Fahrenheit 9/11” didn’t prevent “President” George W. Bush from getting a second term, but in November 2004, Bush “won”** with a “mandate” of a whopping 50.7 percent of the popular vote.

(“Fahrenheit 9/11” helped to keep Bush’s margin of “victory” quite slim, I surmise — recall that in 2004 the “war on terror” was still fresh enough for the right wing to use fear tactics with the voters quite effectively and that the Repugnicans in 2004 also used same-sex marriage as a wedge issue and scare tactic — but despite its having been the top-grossing documentary of all time at that point, “Fahrenheit” wasn’t enough to boot an incumbent president, which is difficult to do.)

We’ll see how much of an effect “Where to Invade Next” has on the current presidential election cycle. I expect it to boost Bernie, whom Michael Moore has endorsed, of course.

I plan to see “Where to Invade Next” tomorrow, its opening day — at the same theater where I saw Michael Moore discuss “Bowling for Columbine” all of those years ago — and I plan to post a review of it no later than on Saturday or Sunday (probably Saturday).***

Yes, if I don’t like it, I’ll say so. Some of Moore’s films are better than his others. I rank his bigger films thusly, from my most favorite to less favorite: “Fahrenheit 9/11” (2004), “Bowling for Columbine” (2002), “Capitalism: A Love Story” (2009), “Sicko” (2007) and “Roger & Me” (1989).

*We shouldn’t run away from the “s”-word. If the United State of America were so fucking free, then why do we commoners not have the freedom to discuss alternative socioeconomic models?

And if capitalism were so inherently and self-evidently great, and since it preaches competition, why can’t the capitalists handle any competition in the marketplace of ideas?

**I put “won” in quotation marks since you can’t win re-election if you never legitimately were elected in the first place (Al Gore won in November 2000 by more than a half-million votes, and Florida’s electoral votes were stolen blatantly) and because in 2004 there was plenty of electoral fishiness in the important swing state of Ohio, whose then-secretary of state, Kenneth Blackwell, was a Repugnican operative, much how swing state Florida’s former secretary of state, Katherine Harris, was a Repugnican operative in 2000 who delivered the state to Gee Dubya, with help from his then-governor brother Jeb! and the right-wing U.S. Supreme Court, among others.

***Some time ago I used to post movie reviews regularly, but I’ve really dropped off from that, out of lack of time and out of my inability to see new movies as quickly as I’d like to sometimes. But I have to review a new Michael Moore movie…

 

 

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