Tag Archives: Chris Hedges

Why I’m on board with Bernie

Democratic presidential candidate and U.S. Senator Bernie Sanders acknowledges the audience's applause at a campaign event in Des Moines

Reuters photo

Presidential candidate Bernie Sanders waves to his audience at a packed Drake University auditorium in Des Moines, Iowa, on Friday. Sanders has surged in recent New Hampshire polling but still has work to do in Iowa toward winning the 2016 Democratic Party presidential nomination. 

Americans apparently still are hungry for the hope and change that they ubiquitously were promised back in 2007 and 2008. That, I think, helps to explain why U.S. Sen. Bernie Sanders of Vermont is doing better in his quest for the White House than even he ever had anticipated that he would.

Initially written off as a dark-horse candidate at best and a joke at worst (replete with mad-scientist-like flyaway hair), Sanders is in the news lately for polling quite competitively in New Hampshire, the first state to hold a presidential primary election (on February 9), right after Iowa’s caucuses (on February 1).

Sanders (who as of late has had his flyaway hair under remarkable control) reaps not only the allegiance of those of us (including yours truly) who still are waiting for that once-much-promised hope and change, but reaps also the anyone-but-Billary vote, since the likes of Elizabeth Warren and Joe Biden very apparently aren’t running.

This is no poor reflection upon Sanders; you – or at least I – go with the most-progressive-yet-still-viable presidential candidate, and Sanders fits the bill. And kudos to Sanders for not being too timid to compete against Queen Billary, who deserves a coronation now no more than she did in 2008.

It is to Sanders’ credit that until now, with his presidential run, he has not identified with the Democratic Party, but has been an independent, a self-identified democratic socialist (I’ve seen “democratic” there capitalized by some, but that’s quite incorrect), ever since he joined Congress in 1991.

Not that this is good enough for everyone.

Fellow leftist Chris “Chicken Little” Hedges, with whom I agree on most things but whose frequent hysteria and hyperbole make me look quite tame by comparison, has remarked that Sanders “lacks [Ralph] Nader’s moral fortitude” and that Sanders “will, when it is all done, push his followers into the vampire-like embrace of Hillary Clinton. He is a Pied Piper leading a line of children or rats — take your pick — into political oblivion.”

Wow. Condescending and reductionist. (And again: hyperbolic and hysterical.) I support Sanders now (he’s a Democrat in name only, but in a good way, for once), but I won’t vote for or otherwise support Billary Clinton (who’s a Democrat in name only in a bad way) in any shape, way, manner or form. Sanders is not a gateway drug who will lead me into the Billary camp; he will not lead me, like a mindless child or rat, into “political oblivion,” as I’m quite capable of thinking for myself.

Sanders has stated that he had to decide whether to run for president as an independent, as Ralph Nader* has done, or to run as a Democrat, since it’s much harder for an independent to run for president than it is for someone who is aligned with one of the duopolistic parties. I don’t fault Sanders for deciding to run on the Democratic Party ticket, and while Ralph Nader, as much as we might want to vaunt him (and I do admire Nader quite a lot), never has won elected office**, Sanders has been in the U.S. House of Representatives (from 1991 to 2007) and in the U.S. Senate (from 2007 to present), at least pressing for progressive change (Sanders co-founded the Congressional Progressive Caucus his very first year in Congress and chaired it in its first eight years of existence), albeit with the constriction of being the only self-identified democratic socialist in Congress and more or less being able to caucus only with Democrats.

Chris Hedges proclaims that in November 2016 he most likely will vote for the Green Party presidential candidate, whomever that turns out to be, and that’s fine; that’s Hedges’ choice. I voted for Ralph Nader when he ran on the Green Party ticket in 2000, almost voted for Nader in 2008, and I voted for Green Party presidential candidate Jill Stein in 2012. (In 2004 I voted for John Kerry, as ousting George W. Bush from office was my No. 1 goal, and from the get-go I saw Kerry as the candidate best able to oust the incumbent [and ousting an incumbent president is usually quite difficult], and in 2008 I fell enough for the promises of “hope” and “change” to vote for Barack Obama.)

If Sanders doesn’t win the 2016 Democratic Party presidential nomination, there’s a good chance that, like Hedges, in November 2016 I’ll vote for the Green Party presidential candidate, of which I have a history.*** (I know that I won’t vote for Billary, no matter what. No, I never would vote for a Repugnican, but that doesn’t mean that I’d have to vote for Billary, because I don’t and I won’t.)

But let’s face it: the Green Party is incredibly politically weak. True, that’s in no small part because the duopolistic parties do their best to kill third parties and independent candidates (which is why the independent Sanders isn’t running for president as an independent or on a third-party ticket), but at the same time, Hedges and his ilk encourage us to tilt at windmills (such as by supporting the Green Party) to the point that it’s abusive.

It strikes me that the Green Party had an opportunity to grow since 2000, but has squandered the opportunity – in no small part, of course, because getting leftists on the same page is like herding cats on crack on a hot tin roof.

Chris Hedges calls for all-out revolution, and while an all-out revolution would be great (indeed, I’m reading Hedges’ current book, Wages of Rebellion: The Moral Imperative of Revolt, right now), it seems to me that we’re still fairly far away from the critical mass that is necessary for one. “Every action we take now must be directed at ripping down the structures of the corporate state. This means refusing to cooperate [such as in the duopolistic electoral process]. It means joining or building radical mass movements,” Hedges proclaims, and again, while I’d love a progressive revolution, and while I suppose that a revolution (a progressive or a regressive one) could erupt in the United States (revolutions often erupt taking everyone by surprise), the fizzle of the Occupy movement leads me to surmise that a progressive revolution isn’t going to happen in the United States soon.

And to paraphrase war criminal Donald Rumsfeld, you go to political war with the army that you have, not with the army that you wish you had. Just as I saw John Kerry as the best “army” to defeat incumbent George W. Bush in 2004, I see Bernie Sanders as the best shot for an actually progressive White House come January 2017.

Hedges, of course, disagrees. “Any further energy invested in these elections, including championing Bernie Sanders’ ill-advised decision to validate the Democratic Party by becoming one of its presidential candidates, is a waste of time,” Hedges, whose columns so often read like fatwas, proclaims, but real-world politics is about getting the most that you can get under the conditions that you actually have while doing your best to improve those conditions. Real-world politics is not about pouting and repeatedly supporting the Green Party candidate who has a snowball’s chance in hell of ever winning, which is tantamount to scooping up all of your marbles and storming home in a huff. (And isn’t supporting the Green Party candidate still participating in the system that needs to be overthrown?)

I don’t see that Bernie Sanders is “validating” the Democratic Party by having become one of its presidential candidates, especially when he has identified himself as an independent and a democratic socialist since at least 1991 and clearly has explained why he is running on the Democratic ticket (again, it’s a procedural thing, not his agreement, tacit or otherwise, with the direction in which the Democratic Party has gone). I see that Sanders apparently is trying to change the Democratic Party from within, which is much more likely to succeed than is the national electoral success of a progressive third party. (Again, the Green Party remains weak and will remain weak for some time; only under a parliamentarian system, it seems to me, could the Green Party flourish in the United States.)

Bernie Sanders might not succeed in winning the 2016 Democratic Party presidential nomination. While he obviously is politically stronger than he has been considered to be (even by himself, apparently) – he seems to have roused a sleepy giant, one that has been disappointed profoundly by Barack Obama – I concede that of course he might not succeed in his quest for the White House.

But it is a worthy quest to at least try to elect the most progressive president that we can, and while that’s still a possibility, I’m on board with Bernie Sanders.

P.S. I found it interesting to read that musician Neil Young, who has a problem with plutocratic jackass Donald Trump having used his song “Rockin’ in the Free World” without permission during his bogus presidential campaign rollout, supports Bernie Sanders…

*Nader ran for president on the Green Party ticket in 1996 and 2000 and as an independent in 2004 and 2008.

**That’s not a slam, and perhaps Nader has been most effective fighting from the outside. In any event, the fight can and should be fought from both within and from without the current corrupt system, it seems to me; this either-or, puritanical bullshit doesn’t sit well with me. Politics isn’t pure; it’s a dirty game.

***Having lived in the very blue state of California since 1998, it doesn’t matter whether I vote for the Democratic presidential candidate or not; the Democratic presidential candidate always wins California and all of its electoral votes in the winner-takes-call Electoral College, which needs to be scrapped for a simple popular vote of the U.S. president. (The last time that a Repugnican presidential candidate won California was in 1988.)

Leave a comment

Filed under Uncategorized

U.S. now produces only corpses

The body of Libyan dictator Moammar Gadhafi lies on a mattress in a commercial freezer at a shopping center in Misrata, Libya, Friday, Oct. 21, 2011. The burial of slain leader Moammar Gadhafi has been delayed until the circumstances of his death can be further examined and a decision is made about where to bury the body, Libyan officials said Friday, as the U.N. human rights office called for an investigation into his death. (AP Photo/Manu Brabo)

Associated Press photo

This is all that the crumbling American empire produces and exports these days: death and destruction. Gooooo USA! 

A column that Salon.com’s Glenn Greenwald posted yesterday is pretty spot-on about what the United States of America has become. Greenwald notes that “there is something very significant about a nation that so continuously finds purpose and joy in the corpses its government produces, while finding it in so little else.” (The occasion of Greenwald’s column is the latest U.S.-government-produced corpse, that of Libyan dictator Moammar Gaddafi [pictured above], whom, like other dictators, the U.S. government opposed, then cooperated with, then opposed again.)

Greenwald begins his column by reminding us of the uber-creepy language that President Hopey-Changey used in early May after the U.S. government summarily had assassinated Osama bin Laden in violation of justice and of international law:

When President Obama announced the killing of Osama bin Laden on the evening of May 1, he said something which I found so striking at the time and still do: “tonight, we are once again reminded that America can do whatever we set our mind to. That is the story of our history.”

That sentiment of national pride had in the past been triggered by putting a man on the moon, or discovering cures for diseases, or creating
technology that improved the lives of millions, or transforming the Great Depression into a thriving middle class, or correcting America’s own entrenched injustices.

Yet here was President Obama proclaiming that what should now cause us to be “reminded” of our national greatness was our ability to hunt someone down, pump bullets into his skull, and then dump his corpse into the ocean.*

And indeed, outside the White House and elsewhere, hordes of Americans were soon raucously celebrating the killing with “USA! USA!” chants as though their sports team had just won a major championship. …

Speaking of sports teams, that is all that the Democratic Party has become: a sports team that many Americans identify with. This is evidenced by the fact that even when Barack Obama violates the U.S. Constitution (e.g., denying assassinees and detainees due process, unilaterally declaring war, etc.) and international law (e.g., assassinating individuals on foreign soil without the consent of that sovereign nation’s government) and sits on his hands in the face of catastrophe (Obama handled British Petroleum’s destruction of the Gulf of Mexico as effectively as George W. Bush would have) — even when President Hopey-Changey acts or fails to act in the same illegal and/or immoral and/or ineffectual manner of which the Dems would have been critical had it been a Repugnican president in power — the Obamabots, if they can’t exactly find it within themselves to celebrate Barack Obama’s George-W.-Bush-like ways, at least keep their mealy mouths shut, and thus empower and enable the lawless, immoral, pro-plutocratic and militaristic Obama regime through their complicity.

This amorality and immorality is why, as Chris Hedges writes, the liberal class (as he calls the Democrats in name only, those who claim to be liberal or progressive but who don’t actually lift a fucking finger for progressive causes, and who, if they don’t actually engage in evil themselves, at least enable the evils encouraged and perpetrated by the right wing) is in its death throes.

The reason that Obama’s re-election prospects are dim, you see, is that the wingnuts prefer actual wingnuts to “liberal” sellouts like Obama — no matter how many baddies/“baddies” he assassinates with our tax dollars as though he were some Big Fucking Badass — and the so-called “independents”/“swing voters,” the majority of whom actually are center-right or even pretty far to the right, also prefer the actual Repugnican candidate to the Repugnican Lite candidate (like Barack Obama).

Actual progressives like me and the millions of other Americans (and those abroad) who are participating in or who at least sympathize with the Occupy Wall Street movement also have no use for Obama — stick a fork in him, because we are done with him and his false promises and his true allegiances — which leaves President Hopey-Changey only with his mealy-mouthed Obamabots, who are so fucking worthless that they might as well donate their organs now so that others can make better use of them.

We actual progressives can thank Obama, however, for thoroughly exposing how much the Democratic Party, since Bill Clinton, has sold us Americans out to our corporate/plutocratic overlords. Chris Hedges asks us:

What kind of nation is it that spends far more to kill enemy combatants and Afghan and Iraqi civilians than it does to help its own citizens who live below the poverty line? What kind of nation is it that permits corporations to hold sick children hostage while their parents frantically bankrupt themselves to save their sons and daughters? What kind of nation is it that tosses its mentally ill onto urban heating grates? What kind of nation is it that abandons its unemployed while it loots its treasury on behalf of speculators? What kind of nation is it that ignores due process to torture and assassinate its own citizens? What kind of nation is it that refuses to halt the destruction of the ecosystem by the fossil fuel industry, dooming our children and our children’s children?

An Obamanation, I might answer.

And Hedges answers, I think, the question of why the Occupy Wall Street movement has been so successful:

The liberal class functions in a traditional, capitalist democracy as a safety valve. It lets off enough steam to keep the system intact. It makes
piecemeal and incremental reform possible. This is what happened during the Great Depression and the New Deal. Franklin Delano Roosevelt’s greatest achievement was that he saved capitalism. Liberals in a functioning capitalist democracy are at the same time tasked with discrediting radicals, whether it is [Martin Luther] King [Jr.], especially after he denounced the war in Vietnam, or later Noam Chomsky or Ralph Nader.

The stupidity of the corporate state is that it thought it could dispense with the liberal class. It thought it could shut off that safety valve in order
to loot and pillage with no impediments. Corporate power forgot that the liberal class, when it functions, gives legitimacy to the power elite. And the reduction of the liberal class to silly courtiers, who have nothing to offer but empty rhetoric, meant that the growing discontent found other mechanisms and outlets.

[All emphasis in this block quote is mine. Indeed, the success of the Internet as a political organizing tool is due to the fact that the duopoly of the corporate-ass-licking Coke Party and Pepsi Party stopped addressing the common American’s needs and interests long ago, and thus the common American has found alternative routes, has flowed around the obstruction that is the partisan duopoly that masquerades as “democracy” in the United States of America. And now we see Occupy Wall Street as yet another adaptive response to the utter ineffectiveness refusal of the two parties to represent us, the people.]

Liberals were reduced to stick figures, part of an elaborate pantomime, as they acted in preordained roles to give legitimacy to meaningless and useless political theater. But that game is over.

Human history has amply demonstrated that once those in positions of power become redundant and impotent, yet retain the trappings and privileges of power, they are brutally discarded. The liberal class, which insists on clinging to its positions of privilege while at the same time refusing to play its traditional role within the democratic state, has become a useless and despised appendage of corporate power. And as the engines of corporate power pollute and poison the ecosystem and propel us into a world where there will be only masters and serfs, the liberal class, which serves no purpose in the new configuration, is being abandoned and discarded by both the corporate state and radical dissidents. The best it can do is attach itself meekly to the new political configuration rising up to replace it.

An ineffectual liberal class means there is no hope of a correction or a reversal through the formal mechanisms of power. It ensures that the frustration and anger among the working and the middle class will find expression now in these protests that lie outside the confines of democratic institutions and the civilities of a liberal democracy. …

[T]he liberal class, by having refused to question the utopian promises of unfettered capitalism and globalization and by condemning those who did, severed itself from the roots of creative and bold thought, the only forces that could have prevented the liberal class from merging completely with the power elite. The liberal class, which at once was betrayed and betrayed itself, has no role left to play in the battle between us and corporate dominance. All hope lies now with those in the street. …

Yup. Because although the United States of America quickly is on its way to becoming something like the way that it is portrayed in the very dark movie “The Road,” we Americans aren’t ready to become cannibals quite yet, and we would prefer that the trillions of our dollars that are being used to kill people abroad (mostly so that the oil corporations can steal and profit obscenely from other nations’ oil) instead would be used for necessities here at home, such as health care, shelter and food.

Because even if we were to feast upon the corpse of Moammar Gaddafi, which reportedly cost us more than $1 billion to obtain, it wouldn’t feed very many of us Americans for very long.

*On May 2, I similiarly wrote:

… More chilling than the words and actions of my jingoistic cohorts, of whom I expect precious little, however, are those of President Barack Obama, of whom, despite his string of broken campaign promises, I still expect more.

“Today we are reminded that as a nation there is nothing we can’t do,” Obama proclaimed today about the snuffing out of bin Laden. (“We do big things” is one of the campaign slogans that Obama rolled out during his last State of the Union address, since “hope” and “change” don’t work anymore.)

Jesus fuck.

When we make such feel-good statements as “as a nation there is nothing we can’t do,” are we really supposed to say that about the killing of one individual? Even someone like Osama bin Laden?

Is this what “American greatness” has come to: our ability to kill one man after 10 years, hundreds of billions of dollars and the killing of tens of thousands before him? (That’s a rhetorical question, but I’ll answer it anyway: Yes.) …

Leave a comment

Filed under Uncategorized

Burn your race cards, Obamabots!

Gee, I guess that I’m a big fucking racist for expecting more of Melissa Harris-Perry than her race-baiting article in The Nation.

All kinds of excuses have been put out there to cover for Barack Obama’s lackluster presidency:

He inherited a huge fucking stinking, steaming mess from the unelected Bush regime. The Repugnican Tea Party traitors in Congress have been fighting him tooth and nail, have been doing everything in their power to ensure that he is a one-term president, regardless of the damage that this is causing the nation.

These excuses are legitimate enough. Obama did inherit a huge fucking stinking, steaming mess. The Repugnican Tea Party traitors have done all that they can to cripple him.

But Obama won’t win re-election on excuses. I know of no president who ever won re-election based not upon his actual accomplishments while in office, but upon his making even a strong case that others were responsible for his lack of accomplishments.

And although he’s not responsible for what he inherited, the fact of the matter is that when the iron was red hot, Obama didn’t strike. While he should have come in with guns a-blazin’, Obama instead has used a drinking straw and spitballs. Timidly.

The result is that although he had both houses of Congress in his party’s control for all of 2009 and 2010, and when he had the nation’s good will for most of that time, Obama did diddly squat. Oh, he achieved health care “reform” — “reform” that the health care weasels gave their blessing to and “reform” that isn’t scheduled to kick in until 2014, for fuck’s sake.

Obama is guilty of having squandered spectacularly what probably will turn out to have been his one and only shot at making a big difference. He had his big opportunity and he blew it. Forever.

But no. The problem actually is that white liberals are actually racist.

That is the poisonous talking point that Nation writer and MSNBC talent Melissa Harris-Perry has injected into the national conversation. The title of her Nation piece pretty much says it all: “Black President, Double Standard: Why White Liberals Are Abandoning Obama.”

My God. (And I don’t even believe in God.)

Um, for starters, we white liberals didn’t abandon Obama. Obama abandoned us. Or, perhaps more accurately, he punk’d us from the very beginning, telling us what he’d figured we wanted to hear in order to get our money and our votes.

The main idea of Harris-Perry’s piece is that white liberals have been harder on Obama than they ever were on Bill Clinton because Obama is black and whites generally are harder on blacks than they are on other whites, that whites expect more of blacks than they do their fellow whites.

Certainly that phenomenon can manifest itself in some situations. Certainly racism continues in the United States of America, not only against blacks but also “illegals” and other racial minority groups. Certainly there is no “level playing field” in the United States. Blacks, kept down for generations, never had the wealth or other privilege to hand down from generation to generation, like many whites did, so the “level playing field” argument is bullshit.

Of course the majority of the “tea party” fascists are white supremacists and racists whose gatherings look and feel like KKK rallies. I agree 200 percent with Morgan Freeman on this. I’ve written about it many times.

But to pull out the race card on your allies?

Really?

So basically, to the race-card-carrying Obamabots, Barack Obama is beyond reproach. Anyone who has any problem with him must be racist. There can be no other possible explanation.

This is convenient for Obama and his Obamabots, of course. The race card in this case would serve as a perpetual get-out-of-jail-free card for Obama. He would out-Teflon right-wing icon Ronald Reagan, whose praises Obama can’t sing loudly or frequently enough. (You never heard George W. Bush worshipping a Democratic president, did you?)

Or maybe instead of calling it the race card, we should call it the race mace — you know, you hit someone over the head with a mace.

Anyone who even thinks of being critical of Obama will keep his or her mouth shut, lest he or she be clobbered publicly with the race mace.

You know, this is, in spirit, thuggery. This is, in spirit, terrorism (which I define, broadly, as the use of intimidation on others in order to get one’s own way). Oh, and it’s slanderous or libelous, too. It’s not much different, in spirit, from the right wing’s calling someone a Communist in the 1950s in order to silence him or her. Defamation is fun!

But the race mace doesn’t work on this white liberal.

As someone who has had black boyfriends, charges by people who don’t know me that I’m a racist fall off of me like water falls off of a duck’s ass. And as someone who gave Barack Obama hundreds of dollars and my vote in 2008 — not because I’m a guilty white liberal but because I truly believed that he was the best viable candidate — I really don’t need some race-mace-carrying terrorist calling me a “racist.”

Why did I give Obama hundreds of dollars and my vote? Well, most if not all of the money that I gave him for the 2008 cycle I gave to him during the drawn-out 2008 Democratic primary contest. Why? Because I wanted him, not Billary Clinton, to be the 2008 Democratic presidential nominee.

Why?

Because I’d figured that a Billary Clinton presidency would be just like the first Clinton presidency. I didn’t want another sell-out, triangulating Democrat in name only in the White House. I wanted a progressive in the White House.

And although Obama and the Obamabots deny it now, Obama did offer himself up as the anti-Billary, as the true progressive in the race. “Hope” and “change” are about progressivismnot about maintaining the status quo or speaking softly and carrying a tiny twig.

Now, however, in Obama’s third year, many have speculated that he has governed even further to the right than Billary would have governed had she become president. Many have speculated that a President Billary would have smacked down the Repugnican Tea Party traitors in Congress, unlike the balls-less Obama, who stupidly only spoke about singing kumbaya with the Repugnican Tea Party traitors while their supporters portrayed him as a witch doctor with a bone through his nose, as a chimpanzee or a monkey, as a cultivator of watermelons on the White House lawn, etc. These aren’t people you try to play nice with. These are people you take down.

Comparing Bill Clinton’s presidency to Obama’s presidency is comparing apples to asparagus. I don’t need to go into the details of that — writers David Sirota and Joan Walsh (both “racist” white liberals, don’t you know) did a pretty good idea of deconstructing Harris-Perry’s bullshit thesis, and so I don’t need to do that here, but mostly, the economic times of the two presidencies are so different that it renders the comparison of the two fairly pointless.

Obama is not being judged by white liberals based upon the color of his skin, but based upon the content of his character. His character defects include his unwillingness to fight for those who put him where he is with our money, our time and energy, and our votes; his breaking one campaign promise after another; and his habit of throwing his former supporters under the bus when he finds it politically expedient to do so.

He threw the Rev. Jeremiah Wright, Van Jones and Shirley Sherrod, all of them, under the bus. As soon as the white supremacist fascists on the right started to attack these individuals, Obama just dropped them like flaming dog shit. That alone speaks volumes about his character. (To be fair and balanced, when Bill Clinton very similarly threw former surgeon general Jocelyn Elders under the bus, that was a travesty of justice, too. And again, I’d supported Obama over Billary to prevent that kind of thing from happening again. And speaking of the Rev. Wright, you really should read his recent interview with Chris Hedges. Wowser.)

The fact of the matter is that whether they like it or not, blacks need the support of us white liberals. Blacks can’t afford to alienate us en masse. They just can’t. Politics is a blood sport — not a kumbaya marathon — and you need as many players on your side as you can get.

(We gay people, too, can’t do it on our own. We need the support of heterosexuals. It would be incredibly fucking stupid of us to alienate those liberals who support us by claiming that in actuality they are
homophobes.)

What I’m saying is: Burn your race cards, Obamabots.

The president of the United States of America, whoever that is at the time, must be open to criticism from the left and from the right. No president or other leader should be exempt from criticism because of his or her gender, race or sexual orientation.

A leader should be judged for such things as his or her accomplishments — or lack thereof — and for his or her character. On these measures, white liberals (and black liberals and other liberals) have not judged Barack Obama unfairly.

To give Obama a break because he is black is as racist as is expecting him to outperform his white cohorts, although since there can be only one U.S. president at a time, and as every presidency is different because times change, Obama doesn’t have any true cohorts, and certainly not Bill Clinton, whom he at least tacitly promised us he wouldn’t be.

To support Obama primarily because he is black is as racist as opposing him primarily because he is black.

Ironically, those who so casually try to pin the slanderous or libelous label of “racist” on white liberals who dare to criticize the nation’s first black president are racist themselves.

I still love Melissa Harris-Perry, though. I’ve seen her on MSNBC and I like her.

Her Nation article and the shit that she has stirred up, though — not so much.

Leave a comment

Filed under Uncategorized

Stop lynching Cornel West and hold Barack Obama accountable for once

 Harsh words: Professor Cornell West, seen here with then-senator Barack Obama on the campaign trail in New York, has turned on the president

So many black progressives have been thrown under Barack Obama’s bus (Jeremiah Wright, Van Jones, Shirley Sherrod, et. al.)  that the bus no longer can move an inch. Let’s not add the corpse of Cornel West (pictured above with Barack Obama when Obama was campaigning for the White House) to the under-bus body count.

Left-wing activist and scholar Cornel West is under fire for, among other strong statements, recently having called President Barack Obama “a black mascot of Wall Street oligarchs and a black puppet of corporate plutocrats,” adding, “And now he has become head of the American killing machine and is proud of it.”

I have no real problem with those words because I have no problem with the truth. The truth is the truth, even if only one person in a thousand (or ten thousand or a hundred thousand or a million or…) is willing to utter it in a sea of lemmings. (Or, as Ted Rall aptly calls Obama’s allegedly left-of-center followers, “Obamabots.”)

The only exception that I can take to calling Obama “a black mascot of Wall Street oligarchs and a black puppet of corporate plutocrats” is that I don’t know that it’s necessary to emphasize “black.” A mascot of Wall Street oligarchs or a puppet of corporate plutocrats is a problem, regardless of the mascot’s or puppet’s race, sex, sexual orientation, religious orientation, age, etc.

Maybe West emphasized “black” because at least on some level he expects a fellow black man to be progressive, like he is. But, as West himself has acknowledged, Obama “[grew] up in a white context,” so “all he has known culturally is white.”

Because Obama is not the descendent of African slaves and because he was raised by his white mother’s family, it is unfair for descendents of African slaves, like West, to expect Obama to be a carbon copy of themselves*, and, it seems to me, because he is half white and half black, it always has been Obama’s own prerogative to embrace one half more than the other, even if he had a choice in the matter, but, given his upbringing, I don’t see that he had much of a choice. (Children don’t get to pick who raises them.)

My problem with Obama is that he has betrayed his progressive base. He made campaign promises — promises that I took seriously, not cynically, as in the assertion that all politicians make and then break their promises, and so you’re stupid if you believe otherwise — and then he systematically proceeded to break his promises, denouncing his left-wing critics as hopelessly delusional about political reality as he did so (and his “bots” dutifully, blindly follow his lead in that).

Obama promised “hope” and “change,” and because of his promises I gave him hundreds of dollars and my vote. But instead of “hope” and “change,” we still have an economy in shambles, we still hand over billions of dollars to corporate welfare recipients, and we still give the war profiteers billions of our tax dollars via the bogus warfare in the Middle East and elsewhere while the American empire rots from within here at home.

Oh, but we got Osama bin Laden! But that and a quarter won’t even buy us a Coke and a smile.

I don’t claim to agree with West on everything, because I don’t know everything that he has proclaimed, but I like him. I saw him speak here in Sacramento (where he was raised) some years ago, and I was moved by his talk about the black American experience to the point that I got tears in my eyes. (Unfortunately, I was one of the only white people in the audience, and maybe even the only one, and brother West was, for the most part, preaching to the choir; those who really should have been there, who really needed to be there, were not there. [But doesn’t it almost always seem to go that way?])

Yes, I consider Cornel West to be a brother, but I am concerned that perhaps he and I define the term “brother” differently. I consider someone who shares my progressive values and worldview to be my brother or sister, regardless of his or her race, age, sexual orientation or even religious orientation. As a fellow democratic socialist, I consider West to be my brother. But, because I am white, would West call me “brother”? I would like to think so, but I’m not certain.**

I can’t know what it’s like to be a descendent of black slaves, and I would never, like Bill Clinton or at least John Kerry did, insinuate that I, who although I’ve always been middle class was born into some degree of white privilege, truly feel black Americans’ pain. I have not walked in their shoes, so I cannot, and so I do not, make that claim. (Bill Clinton was called by many as “the first black president,” and Kerry once stupidly stated that he wanted to be “the next black president.” I find such faux familiarity to be disrespectful as well as false.)

Even if he would not call me “brother,” I am not going to jump on the bandwagon of throwing Cornel West under the bus like Barack Obama threw his former pastor, Jeremiah Wright, under the bus, and then Van Jones and then Shirley Sherrod. I think that such rhetoric as that of Salon.com editor Joan Walsh (who was a staunch Billary Clinton ’08 supporter before she became an Obamabot) that West has had a “tragic meltdown,” not only is overblown but is deleterious to progressivism.

Walsh writes of “the unrealistic left” (which is, I surmise, akin to the Obama administration’s “professional left”) and proclaims:

I’m on record saying that despite my disappointments on the economic and civil liberties front, I support Obama’s re-election: He’s as progressive a leader as we’re able to elect right now, and if you have issues with him – as I do – it’s time to work to elect strong Democrats at the state and local level. I’m pro-Obama – and also pro-reasonable organizing efforts to push him left.

“[Un]reasonable.” “[Un]realistic.” These are interesting terms. Fucking fact is, Obama had the nation’s good will and both houses of Congress controlled by his party for two fucking years, and he squandered that rare opportunity to push through a progressive agenda.

For that alone he does not deserve re-election, but sellouts — Obamabots — like Walsh, who actually make such statements as “despite my disappointments on the economic and civil liberties front, I [still] support Obama’s re-election” since Obama is the lesser of the politically viable evils, are destroying what’s left of the left.

How can we actual leftists have “unrealistic” expectations when so-called “Democratic” sellouts like Obama don’t even try? How can you know what’s possible and what’s impossible to achieve, what is realistic and what is unrealistic, when you surrender from the very fucking beginning? The establishment Democrats almost always surrender before the game even begins. Meanwhile, the Repugnican Tea Party traitors roll out such radical ideas as decimating Medicare. Yes, they are stupid, but they’re bold.

As the Repugnican Tea Party traitors succeed in pushing the nation’s politics further and further to the right, Obamabots like Joan Walsh help the wingnuts by contributing to the rightward drift of the Democratic Party, which began under Bill Clinton, by excusing anything and everything that establishment/Clintonesque Democrats do or don’t do, simply because they use the “Democratic” label — and because these Democrats in name only are, the Obamabots assert, the best that we can do. (And besides, what do you want? A Repugnican president?)

That Barack Obama isn’t as bad as are the Repugnican Tea Party traitors who want to be president just doesn’t fucking cut it for me. He’d have to do much better than that for me to give him another penny or my vote again.

Obama’s new campaign in which you can buy a T-shirt or a mug displaying his birth certificate and the words “MADE in the USA” under his portrait —

— is clever, but the nation needs an awful lot more than more clever Obama campaigns right now, and on the heels of having been punk’d by the “hope” and “change” campaign, I, for one, am just not in the mood to fall for yet another clever Obama campaign. (Although if I were working on the Obama campaign, my snappy slogan might be something like: “Barack Obama 2012: Really This Time!”)

I suppose that I have to give props to Team Obama for finding a way to turn the pathetic and racist birth certificate bullshit into a fundraising campaign, but I cannot, in good conscience, give Team Obama even a penny, as clever as the new campaign is.

At some point this sellout shit has to stop. I, for one, don’t want to be responsible, even minutely, for its perpetuation — even by buying one of the clever T-shirts or mugs.

But back to brother West.

Let’s not make him into a scapegoat for the serious failings of Barack Obama as president of the United States of America. Instead, let’s continue to talk about identity politics versus political ideology and what roles they have and what roles they should have in rescuing the American experiment from the edge of the abyss.

As a gay man, for instance, while it would be great to have a gay or lesbian president, I’d much rather have a heterosexual president who actually is progressive than a gay or lesbian president who, like Obama, is too cowardly or too personally comfortable (or both) to pursue a progressive agenda.

Similarly, I’m not impressed by the mere fact that Obama is the first actual (half-)black president. There are plenty of wingnutty black men, such as (not in any certain order) U.S. Supreme Court “Justice” Clarence Thomas, recently booted Repugnican National Committee chair Michael Steele, former Ohio Secretary of State Kenneth Blackwell (who delivered the pivotal state of Ohio to George W. Bush in 2004 much as how Katherine Harris had delivered the pivotal state of Florida to Bush in 2000), and presidential aspirants Herman Cain and Alan Keyes, and I’d never want any of them anywhere near the White House, not because of the color of their skin, but because of the content of their character. (On that note, I once saw Al Sharpton speak here in Sacramento [in early 2005, I believe it was], and I still remember his quip that “Condoleezza Rice [yet another black wingnut, as well as a war criminal] is of my color but is not of my kind.”)

The problem with Barack Obama isn’t that he isn’t “black enough.” The problem is that he isn’t progressive enough — and that he had promised to be progressive, but broke that promise.

That is the discussion that we need to be having instead of kicking around brother Cornel West.

P.S. I highly recommend the article on Cornel West by Chris Hedges that stirred the West brouhaha. It is here. In the article, Hedges quotes West as having said other things that are making people butt-hurt, such as that Obama “feels most comfortable with upper middle-class white and Jewish men who consider themselves very smart, very savvy and very effective in getting what they want,” which to me more or less seems to be true, whether it’s considered politically correct or not, but Hedges also quotes West as having said other things that aren’t being repeated as much as are his “controversial” statements, such as

“This [Obama’s presidency] was maybe America’s last chance to fight back against the greed of the Wall Street oligarchs and corporate plutocrats, to generate some serious discussion about public interest and common good that sustains any democratic experiment.

“We are squeezing out all of the democratic juices we have. The escalation of the class war against the poor and the working class is intense. More and more working people are beaten down. They are world-weary. They are into self-medication. They are turning on each other. They are scapegoating the most vulnerable rather than confronting the most powerful.

“It is a profoundly human response to panic and catastrophe. I thought Barack Obama could have provided some way out. But he lacks backbone.”

and

“Can you imagine if Barack Obama had taken office and deliberately educated and taught the American people about the nature of the financial catastrophe and what greed was really taking place?

“If he had told us what kind of mechanisms of accountability needed to be in place, if he had focused on homeowners rather than investment banks for bailouts and engaged in massive job creation, he could have nipped in the bud the right-wing populism of the tea party folk.

“The tea party folk are right when they say the government is corrupt. It is corrupt. Big business and banks have taken over government and corrupted it in deep ways.

“We have got to attempt to tell the truth, and that truth is painful. It is a truth that is against the thick lies of the mainstream. In telling that truth we become so maladjusted to the prevailing injustice that the Democratic Party, more and more, is not just milquetoast and spineless, as it was before, but thoroughly complicitous with some of the worst things in the American empire.

“I don’t think in good conscience I could tell anybody to vote for Obama. If it turns out in the end that we have a crypto-fascist movement and the only thing standing between us and fascism is Barack Obama, then we have to put our foot on the brake. But we’ve got to think seriously of third-party candidates, third formations, third parties….”

Yup. This perhaps was our last chance to turn it around, and Obama thus far has only blown it. Ironically, West could have been talking about himself when he noted that the people “are turning on each other,” “scapegoating the most vulnerable rather than confronting the most powerful,” because right now they’re scapegoating West instead of confronting Obama, who apparently likes the presidency only for its perks. He certainly has no stomach for the hard work that a truly progressive president has before him or her.

Anyway, I also recommend Chris Hedges’ book Death of the Liberal Class, which is about “liberal” sellouts like Joan Walsh who in their cowardice, laziness, selfishness and hypocrisy aid and abet the right wing in the right wing’s destruction of the nation and the planet.

*West also remarked that “Obama, coming out of Kansas influence, [with] white, loving grandparents, coming out of Hawaii and Indonesia, when he meets these independent black folk who have a history of slavery, Jim Crow, Jane Crow and so on, he is very apprehensive. He has a certain rootlessness, a deracination. It is understandable.”

“Deracination”? Is an identification with a history of slavery required to be considered to be black? Is Obama really required to identify with the descendents of black slaves when he is not such a descendent and was not raised by the descendents of slaves? Is this not demanding too much of Obama?

**West has referred to economists Joseph Stiglitz and Paul Krugman as “brother Joseph Stiglitz and brother Paul Krugman,” and so I tend to believe that his definition of “brother” is about ideology, not race, but he also has referred to Obama as “brother,” yet rather clearly disagrees with Obama’s politics, so I am uncertain as to his own personal definition of the term.

Leave a comment

Filed under Uncategorized

To hell in a handbasket — on crack



This the is “vision” that the Repugnican Tea Party has for the United States of America.

The members of the Repugnican Tea Party in the U.S. House of Representatives promised to make jobs and the economy their No. 1 issue. But let’s tick off what they’ve actually “accomplished” thus far:

  • They read the U.S. Constitution to us aloud — minus those unpleasant portions about slavery, of course.
  • They have attacked Planned Parenthood and women’s rights.
  • They have attacked the Environmental Protection Agency.
  • They are engaged in a nationwide union-busting campaign that benefits only their corporate and plutocratic benefactors pimps.
  • They have attacked our public servants, even our public-school teachers.
  • They have attacked National Public Radio, and got the scalp of NPR’s president and CEO.
  • Tomorrow they are to began McCarthyesque hearings on what a danger to the nation Muslim Americans are.

In short, the Repugnicans in the House have done nothing substantial toward bringing about national economic recovery.

They know that this is what they should be addressing, however, because they frequently are using the economy as their bullshit excuse to fulfill their Wingnut Wish List.

We can’t afford NPR, they claim, when in fact, the Corporation for Public Broadcasting (NPR’s parent) — and Planned Parenthood — get a fucking pittance from the federal government compared to the bloated military-industrial complex, which is draining our nation of its lifeblood, a huge threat to the continued existence of our nation. (Many other empires collapsed due to military overextension and concomitant domestic rot.) Our public servants, too, get a negligible portion of the federal budget, and they’re worth every penny of their underpaid salaries.

The treasonous Repugnican Tea Party House members’ intent in these aforementioned instances isn’t to save us money — it’s to censor/silence NPR (and the Public Broadcasting System), to deny women their right to self-determination of their own fucking uteri, and to destroy every last governmental hurdle to complete corporate control of the nation.

It’s about the wingnuts in the U.S. House of Representatives throwing huge chunks of red meat to their base of plutocrats and “Christo”fascists. (The upcoming House hearings on “the Muslim problem” — remember Adolf Hitler’s “Jewish problem”? — especially are an early Christmas gift to the “Christo”fascists.)

If the Repugnican Tea Party members of the House were serious about tackling the nation’s federal budget deficit that “President” George W. Bush created by giving tax breaks to the rich and the super-rich while wasting hundreds of billions of our tax dollars in bogus warfare, they would make the rich and the super-rich pay their fair share of taxes and they would seriously, meaningfully cut the bloated budget of the military-industrial complex.

Instead, the Repugnican Tea Party is on a campaign to make the United States of America more and more like a third-world nation:

  • Get rid of the Environmental Protection Agency — so that climate change accelerates, making the entire planet resemble the planet in the movies “The Road” or “WALL-E” or “Idiocracy.”
  • Get rid of Planned Parenthood and outlaw abortion — so that we have many more mouths that we can’t feed and many more consumers of the planet’s limited resources, accelerating climate change and other environmental catastrophes.
  • Privatize all of the public schools so that only the children of the rich and super-rich can get a decent education, and institute only right-wing and pro-corporate curricula in what remains of the crumbling, old public school system.
  • Destroy all of the labor unions so that the corporations have no barriers in their mistreatment and exploitation of their wage slaves.
  • Get rid of NPR and PBS — so that the only source Americans have of “news” and “information” is Faux “News” and the other right-wing, pro-corporate media.
  • Continue to ignore homelessness and continue to build gated communities, in which the rich and the super-rich live, protected by their private security thugs, while everyone else lives in crime-infested squalor.
  • Attack Muslims, literally and figuratively — so that we have perpetual enemies/“enemies” and thus perpetual warfare, a la George Orwell’s 1984.

This is some serious shit. Life as we know it — indeed, the very ability of the planet to sustain human life itself — is at stake if we, the people, don’t fight back against the traitors who spend every waking hour calculating how they can destroy us for their own selfish benefit.

We, the people, cannot depend upon the members of what excellent writer Chris Hedges calls the “liberal class” in his book  Death of the Liberal Class.

Members of the so-called liberal class* include such hypocritical cowards as the supposedly pro-labor Barack Obama, who has remained mostly silent while tens of thousands of pro-labor Wisconsinites are in their third week of protests to keep the middle class and the working class in Wisconsin alive, and Vivian Schiller, the CEO and president of NPR who, instead of holding her ground against the right-wing assault on NPR, cut and run in order to appease the right-wing fascists who are out to destroy the nation.

We’re on our own.

No one is going to save us from the fascistic onslaught that we are witnessing now — except ourselves.

*I have a problem with the term “liberal class,” since these cowardly, self-serving hypocrites aren’t actually liberal. They pay lip service to liberal ideals, but their actions and their inaction only help the right wing. They are part of the problem, not part of the solution.

Leave a comment

Filed under Uncategorized

War on right is war on ignorance

 

My boyfriend and I were in a Borders bookstore last night, and in the politics section I saw a paperback copy of Hannah Arendt’s The Origins of Totalitarianism on a shelf right above Glenn Beck’s hardcover Arguing with Idiots. (That Glenn Beck should accuse others of being “idiots” with “small minds” — that’s mind-blowing…)

I picked up and placed the copy of The Origins of Totalitarianism immediately to the right of Beck’s Arguing with Idiots, giving something of the effect above, as it seems so appropriate: If Beck wants to dress and act like a Nazi, well, then, if the jackboot fits, then he should wear it (and he probably does wear jackboots, prancing around in them in private…). And further, it seems to me that Beck and his ilk indeed could be the originators of an American totalitarianism that would make the Taliban jealous.

Of course, the battle between the left and the right rages beyond the politics sections of bookstores, where it’s common to see books representing the political opposition (usually progressives) turned around so that their covers are obscured. (Books featuring the visages of our lesser-evolved primate cousins also have appeared juxtapositioned to books whose covers feature Barack Obama’s face. Ha ha ha! Racism is so funny!)

President Obama has even chimed in on the national political “vitriol,” but the common assertion that the left is just as guilty as is the right in denigrating the national political discourse — a myth that even Obama himself occasionally parrots, in an apparently well-meaning but woefully misguided attempt to be fair and balanced, to spread the blame around, whether it’s actually factually accurate to do that or not — is fucking bullshit.

The right always has been more rabid, more racist, more ignorant, more hateful and more willing to resort to aggression to get what it wants than has the left. In the past decade alone, the American right resorted to stealing presidential elections, started a bogus major war, and gave the rich such tax cuts that, coupled with the hundreds of billions of dollars sunk into the bogus Vietraq War, resulted in a record federal budget deficit that the right now blames on Obama, and the right has created a surreal, down-the-rabbit-hole national political climate in which it’s deemed perfectly fine to piss hundreds of billions of the taxpayers’ dollars away on the war profiteers, such as Dick Cheney’s Halliburton, but it’s “socialism” to actually spend a fucking penny of the taxpayers’ money on the taxpayers

And I don’t recall any leftists having spat on Repugnican lawmakers on Capitol Hill during the eight long nightmarish years of the Bush regime’s unelected rule, or calling them epithets, or hurling bricks through their office windows. I don’t recall any Democratic politicians talking about “reloading” and using the symbol of a gun-sight crosshairs to target their political opponents.

I only wish that the peacenik lefties were nearly as guilty as are the wingnuts in being rhetorically or even actually aggressive.

Lefties almost always have to remain above it all, such as how Al Gore had to remain above it all and just allowed Team Bush to steal the White House in late 2000.

The results of “remaining above it all” and just allowing the wingnuts to wreak their havoc upon the nation are plain to see in the smoking ruins of the nation that the treasonous members of the unelected Bush regime left behind when they finally were forced from the White House. There comes a point where “remaining above it all” no longer is remaining above it all at all, but is a dangerous dereliction of duty to democracy.

Also at Borders last night I saw a copy of Chris Hedges’ Empire of Illusion: The End of Literacy and the Triumph of Spectacle, the premise of which, I understand from its back cover, is that the switch from a primarily print culture to a primarily audiovisual culture has resulted in a dangerous dumbing down of the United States of America, a danger to the nation’s democracy, which cannot survive when so many of its citizens are dumbfucks. (I’m buying Hedges’ book on amazon.com, as paying full cover price when I don’t have to pains me too much.)

I’m all for greater literacy, but just as it has hijacked our democracy, the right wing has hijacked what remains of the print culture. Chillingly, I long have seen far more wingnut books than progressive books on amazon.com’s top-100-selling books list.

The right wing is busily rewriting American history to suit is ideology in a way that would make George Orwell’s history-revising Big Brother jealous. And the stupid-white-male authors and broadcast pundits who have the audacity to liken themselves to the nation’s founding fathers are as much like the founding fathers as the likes of Pat Robertson and the pedophile-protecting Pope Palpatine are like Jesus Christ.

Sure the wingnuts read books, you say — but they read right-wing revisions not only of American history, but right-wing revisions of American principles. And then they inflict their ignorance upon the rest of us.

In their “tea party” bullshit, the wingnuts actually equate the nation’s declaration of its independence from the oppressive English monarchy to their dislike of the democratically elected American president whom they don’t like primarily because he’s black and because their old-white-guy candidate lost the election, 46 percent to Obama’s 53 percent. 

The wingnuts also have hijacked the term “common sense,” both as a noun and an adjective. Sarah Fucking Palin-Quayle can’t shut the fuck up about “common-sense” this and “common-sense” that, and, of course, Glenn Beck put out a book titled Glenn Beck’s Common Sense, as though a dry-drunk baby boomer like Glenn Fucking Beck is really on the same level as is Thomas Paine.

And that’s what the term “common sense,” as the wingnuts use it, is meant to achieve: It’s meant to say that you don’t have to be educated, that you don’t have to work at attaining knowledge and wisdom. “Common sense,” as Beck and Palin-Quayle and their ilk use the term, means that whatever utter bullshit that you pull out of your mentally lazy, ignorant, wingnutty ass is the gospel fucking truthbecause you say so.

In her chapter titled “Junk Thought” in her worthwhile The Age of American Unreason, author Susan Jacoby talks about “the folk belief in the superior wisdom of ordinary people.”

“Folk belief” there is the key.

Ordinary people can become intelligent and wise — but not without doing the work.

There are no shortcuts, although that is what the right wing promises its followers: Simply wearing a lapel pin of the U.S. flag makes a politician “patriotic,” and simply reading a book by Sarah Palin-Quayle or Glenn Beck makes one “politically educated.” (And, of course, simply declaring onself “saved” makes one “saved.”)

Listening to — or even reading — the likes of Beck or Palin-Quayle or Rush Limbaugh, because their retrogressive, reality-evading worldview is comforting in rapidly changing, rapidly diversifying times, doesn’t cut it.

Ignorance will destroy the nation, and the fight against the right wing ultimately is the fight against ignorance.

A return to a fact- and reality-based print culture, as many authors (such as Jacoby and Hedges and yes, even Al Gore) have recommended probably is the answer. The Internet, I suspect, already has been playing a large role in bringing Americans back from the purely audiovisual, purely one-way medium of television to an interactive print culture. Sure, there’s plenty of garbage on the Internet, but there’s plenty of quality stuff available, too. 

I, for one, stopped watching television years ago, after all of the major, corporately owned and operated TV networks treated the unelected Bush regime’s illegal, immoral, unprovoked and unjust March 2003 invasion of Iraq as an entertainment or sporting event (“shock and awe!”) instead of covering it journalistically — that is, critically, intelligently and objectively. And I credit the Internet with having facilitated my political knowledge and activism.

Of course, the wingnuts are on the ’Net, too.

But the more that the nation returns to a fact- and reality-based national political dialog, the less the right wing can survive.

Ignorance is the right wing’s oxygen, and the way to snuff out the right wing is to deprive it of its oxygen.

2 Comments

Filed under Uncategorized