Tag Archives: left wing

Thank Goddess for the ‘alt-left’

What Is Antifa? Anti-Fascist Protesters Draw Attention After Charlottesville

Getty Images news photo

Anti-fascists showed up on Saturday in Charlottesville, Virginia, to counter the neo-Nazis who ostensibly wanted to protest the removal of a statue of traitor Robert E. Lee but who in reality are just domestic terrorists. I love these guys, whose hearts are in the right place if I don’t always agree with their tactics.

Today “President” Pussygrabber, doubling down on his false equivalence between the neo-Nazis who are part of his base and the anti-fascists/anti-neo-Nazis, coined the term “alt-left.”

“What about the ‘alt-left’ that came charging at the, as you say, the ‘alt-right’ [in Charlottesville, Virginia, on Saturday]? Do they have any semblance of guilt?” Pussygrabber said at an impromptu news conference in the lobby of Trump Tower, Politico reports.

Part of me might recommend that we on the left embrace the term “alt-left,” except that the neo-Nazis already have come to give “alt-” the connotation if not the denotation of white supremacism and white nationalism, and thus have pretty much ruined the prefix “alt-.”

And, of course, usually it’s best not to allow your enemy to name you, but to name yourself. (On that note, Pussygrabber said, “as you say, the ‘alt-right,’” but “alt-right” is the name that the fucking neo-Nazis have given themselves.)

And the “alt-left” already has named itself: Antifa, for anti-fascist, and it doesn’t need a new name.

And I say thank Goddess for the Antifa.

No, I don’t condone every action and every word that everyone who might call him- or herself a member of Antifa might commit, but on the whole, I’m quite happy that there is an active opposition to the neo-Nazis. (As I have written, I reject the term “alt-right” as unnecessary because we already have the term neo-Nazi.)

Fact is, as so many have observed and reported, the police often do little to nothing when there are clashes between the neo-Nazis and the Antifa (and/or other anti-neo-Nazis). That’s because many if not most cops are right-wingers (if not also actually white nationalists/white supremacists) themselves, I surmise, and therefore they aren’t all that enthusiastic about protecting us, the people, from the neo-Nazis. To a large degree, we have to do it ourselves.

I’m sure that there are some who fairly fairly could be called thugs among those who call themselves Antifa — that is, some individuals who are looking for a fight at least as much as they care about a sociopolitical cause. Of course, there probably are far more such individuals among the neo-Nazis.

While both groups routinely show up with weaponry (homegrown and professional) when they expect a confrontation, when there are casualties, they usually are on the left, not on the right, such as the case of 32-year-old Heather Heyer, who was killed on Saturday when a neo-Nazi cowardly ran her down in his car.

And to my knowledge, Heyer was not a member of the Antifa (or, to Pussygrabber, the “alt-left”), but was just a citizen who had shown up to demonstrate her opposition to neo-Nazism, which she had the right to do (even though I question, for safety reasons, the wisdom of showing up anywhere where there are neo-Nazis).

While I have no personal interest in having a physical confrontation with a neo-Nazi, not seeing what ultimate good it would do, and while I hate to think of any good-hearted (if misguided) member of Antifa (or anyone else) being harmed or even killed by a neo-Nazi, I just can’t bring myself to condemn the Antifa, because I don’t know how far the neo-Nazis would take it if they knew that they faced no opposition in our streets.

The neo-Nazis need to know that should they get too big for their khakis (and thanks for ruining khakis for the rest of us, assholes!) and start harming people on the streets, they’re going to face pushback.

As a gay man, an atheist and a member of the Democratic Socialists of America, one day I just might need protection from neo-Nazis myself, and so I’m not going to condemn the Antifa and the overall important sociopolitical role that they play in these, um, interesting times.

I would only ask the members of Antifa and all of those who oppose the neo-Nazis, as I do, to pick their battles and to put their personal safety first.

The pathetic neo-Nazi losers aren’t worth it.

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

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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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Anarchists and skinheads clash again in Sacramento — this time with stabbings

Updated below (on Monday, June 27, 2016)

Members of the group called ANTIFA Sacramento (Anti-Fascism Action) stage a counter-protest against the Traditionalist Worker's Party and the Golden State Skinheads at the State Capitol on Sunday, June 26, 2016 in Sacramento, Calif.

Members of the group called ANTIFA Sacramento (Anti-Fascism Action) walk onto west steps of the State Capitol as they stage a counter-protest against the Traditionalist Worker's Party and the Golden State Skinheads on Sunday, June 26, 2016 in Sacramento, Calif.

Sacbee.com photos

Above: Anarchists and other anti-fascists demonstrated against neo-Nazis at the California state Capitol in Sacramento today. I love the sign with the swastika with the dagger plunged into it, and I’m on board with stopping fascism, but we must spell correctly… Below: In a melee that was quite predictable but not prevented by law enforcement, five people (three of them shown here) were stabbed during the confrontation between the two groups at the state Capitol today. From what I can tell, most or all of those stabbed were anarchists or other anti-fascists stabbed by the neo-Nazis, and at least two of them were black.

Sean Moore, 23, of Sacramento waits for medics with a friends after being stabbed by neo-Nazi protesters at the State Capitol in Sacramento, Calif., on June 26, 2016. Medics later said it was a three inch incision.

A protestor is comforted after stabbed during a clash between members of the group called ANTIFA Sacramento (Anti-Fascism Action) against theTraditionalist Worker's Party and the Golden State Skinheads at the State Capitol on Sunday June 26, 2016 in Sacramento, Calif.

A victim is attended to by counter protesters after he was stabbed during a neo-Nazi rally at the State Capitol in Sacramento, Calif., on June 26, 2016.

Sacbee.com photos

So there was quite a ruckus here in Sacramento today.

Anarchists reportedly crashed a rally of white supremacists before the neo-Nazis could even begin their little pageant, and in the melee at least five people were stabbed.

We’ve had at least one anarchist-on-neo-Nazi clash at the state Capitol before; I wrote about it in February 2012, when it last happened, but at that time there weren’t any stabbings. Just anarchists (incorrectly identified not as anarchists but as members of the Occupy movement) throwing things at the retreating neo-Nazis.

More details of today’s melee will come out, at least in the local media, but have we really come to stabbings? Shootings can’t be far behind, can they?

Thing is, two of my co-workers had told me about the planned crashing of the white supremacist gathering by anarchists around two weeks ago. (No, these two co-workers aren’t anarchists, to my knowledge, but apparently are anarchist sympathizers, as I am, for the most part.*)

So the word was out there that the anarchists would confront the neo-Nazis at the Capitol today, and I knew immediately upon hearing that that would be a combustible mix, yet the state police (the California Highway Patrol) seemed ill-prepared for today’s violence.

I have to wonder if that’s because they’re OK with it.

Seriously — the one thing that the ne0-Nazis and the anarchists do have in common is that they tend to be younger and poorer and quite disgruntled over the sorry state of affairs here in the United States of America; they are quite anti-establishment (and, of course, law-enforcement officers are quite pro-establishment).

Of course, that’s where the similarities between the anarchists and the neo-Nazis end; the neo-Nazis blame all of the wrong people (non-whites, Jews and Muslims and other non-“Christians,” feminists, non-heterosexuals, socialists, et. al.) for all of our nation’s and world’s ills while the anarchists correctly identify our enemy: the plutocrats and the corporatocrats — and yes, the members of the right wing, including the neo-Nazis, who treasonously aid and abet the treasonous plutocrats and corporatocrats. (Indeed, the plutocrats and corporatocrats couldn’t commit their evil without the help of the right wing.)

Unshockingly, the neo-Nazis visited Sacramento today at least in part to show their support for Der Fuhrer Donald Trump, and indeed, the opposing camps of Donald Trump and Bernie Sanders are much like the opposing camps of the neo-Nazis and the anarchists: Both camps are comprised of justifiably disgruntled individuals, but, again, while the neo-Nazis and Trumpites have incredibly misidentified our true enemies, the Berners and the anarchists have identified them correctly.

Having been a Berner who refuses to cast a vote for pro-establishment sellout Billary Clinton, it’s difficult for me to criticize what the anarchists did today, although I do find it to be a bit disturbing that multiple stabbings occurred at the state Capitol today, where I have attended several protests myself (sans any stabbings) and which is within two blocks of my workplace.

(No, I was nowhere near the Capitol today, and nor would I have been, not with our triple-digit weather, which, I surmise, contributed to today’s heated tempers.)

I am of two minds on the recent spate of violence that we have seen between those on the left (anarchists, Berners and others) and those on the right (Trump supporters and other assorted neo-Nazis): Had the budding Nazis in Germany faced significant violent pushback from good Germans (were there any good Germans?), Nazi Germany might never have risen.

I don’t see why history couldn’t repeat itself today in the United States of America. If the American neo-Nazis of today didn’t get violent pushback, how far would they go? Are they not dipping their white-supremacist toes in the water to see how far they can go?

We just might have the anarchists to thank for keeping the treasonous skinheads in check.

On the other hand, I don’t know how much political power the neo-Nazis actually have and thus what actual threat they pose. For my entire life they haven’t had much power, not nationally, anyway — most Americans consider (correctly) the neo-Nazis to be maladjusted social fucktards, like Trekkies and fantasy gamers (although, of course, generally more armed and thus potentially dangerous) — and so I don’t know how important it was for the anarchists to confront them today.

Thing is, where it comes to fascism and the rise of Nazi Germany 2.0 here in the United States of America in the present, I would rather overestimate than underestimate the risk.

And I have the sentiment that it’s too bad that some young anarchists today were knifed by a domestic enemy that too many of the rest of us “good” Americans won’t significantly confront.

P.S. At this point I’d be fine with a ban on neo-Nazis appearing at the state Capitol, now that we’ve had stabbings, most or all of which appear to have been perpetrated by the neo-Nazis.

This isn’t free fucking speech anymore. This is just hate speech, and hate speech predictably ends up in violence — as I noted, today’s violence in Sacramento was completely predictable and thus probably preventable — and therefore, in my book, hate speech, which exists in order to deprive others of their constitutional rights, is not protected by the First Amendment.

And, of course, I hope that they catch the cowardly skinheads who stabbed the true patriots today and throw the scumbags into prison, where they belong — behind bars, like the animals that they are.

Update (Monday, June 27, 2016): The Los Angeles Times reports that seven people were stabbed during yesterday’s melee in Sacramento, and The Sacramento Bee reports today:

Protesters on both sides of [yesterday’s] bloody riot at the state Capitol say police intentionally held back from intervening as a planned neo-Nazi rally spun out of control and left 10 people injured, including at least five who were stabbed.

The claims come despite statements by Sacramento police and the California Highway Patrol that officers knew in advance of the potential for a confrontation and that more than 100 police and CHP officers were standing watch on the perimeter of the Capitol grounds.

The flurry of violence began before the scheduled start of the noon rally organized by the neo-Nazi Traditionalist Worker Party, which had fewer than 30 members set to hold their event on the west steps of the Capitol. Confrontations between the two groups began before the event. More than 350 anti-fascist protesters descended on the Capitol grounds, vastly outnumbering the others and police.

Sacramento police say at least 10 people were injured in a series of melees. A bystander later turned in a loaded pistol found on the Capitol grounds.

None of the injuries are considered life-threatening and no arrests have been made. …

Again, I wasn’t there, but as I noted yesterday, I have to wonder how quickly the cops intervened and how well they were prepared; after all, the probable combustibility of the situation indeed had been known well in advance.
That said, while I agree with the anarchists on much, such as their anti-fascist and anti-rascist philosophies, I can’t say that I condone all of their actions, and it seems pretty clear that at least some of them went to the neo-Nazis’ little public appearance wanting a fight.
Admittedly, the line between fighting (literally) for social justice and just thuggery can be thin and/or blurry.

*I wrote back in February 2012:

… I have nothing against the anarchists. Anyone who goes after white supremacists who dare to spew forth their filth in the public square is fine with me, and the imagery of a bunch of supposedly bad-ass white supremacists fleeing from a mob of Occupy/“Occupy” protesters (most if not all of them actually anarchists) — the way that blacks have had to flee from mobs of white supremacists — is gratifyingly amusing.

And who knows? When/if the shit really hits the fan, I might join the anarchists’ ranks. (Black is slimming anyway…) …

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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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KKK/Neo-Nazi/Trump rally in Chicago shut down by true American patriots

A demonstrator is removed by Chicago police during a rally for Republican presidential candidate Donald Trump at the University of Illinois at Chicago Pavilion in Chicago on Friday, March 11, 2016. Trump canceled one of his signature rallies on Friday, calling off the event in Chicago due to safety concerns after protesters packed into the arena where it was to take place. (Chris Sweda/Chicago Tribune via AP)

Analysis: Chicago chaos tests Trump promises of unity

Associated Press photos

In the top news photo, police remove a protester (the black guy in what appears to be a dark-green hoodie, I’m guessing) from the audience gathered yesterday for a rally for Der Fuehrer Donald Trump on the campus of the University of Illinois-Chicago, where the KKK rally was called off by the Trump campaign because of the anti-fascist protesters who had thronged to it. In the bottom news photo, an anti-fascist protester holds up a sign reading “Derail Trump!” (I quite concur) on the university campus while police officers keep the peace after the KKK rally was canceled.

The fascists who support Donald Trump, and Der Fuehrer Donald himself, claim that their First Amendment rights were violated when anti-fascist protesters shut down one of their KKK rallies in Chicago yesterday.

Oh, boo fucking hoo!

The First Amendment is indeed important — especially when it’s the stronger who are trying to oppress the weaker by suppressing their freedom of expression — but had the good people in Germany manned (and womaned!) up and shut down Adolf Hitler and his Nazi Party early on, then millions of innocent people wouldn’t have been persecuted, tortured and mass-murdered as a result of the Germans’ inaction.

American fascists don’t get to hide behind the First Amendment while they try to reinstate Nazi Germany here in the United States of America.

The prevention of the quite predictable grave harm that these far-right, nationalistic, jingoistic, xenophobic, white supremacist, misogynist, homophobic, theocratic, ironically treasonous pieces of shit who support Donald Trump (and other fascists within the Repugnican Tea Party) would cause to millions of people, should they successfully grab power, is far, far more important than are the First Amendment rights of these evil pieces of shit.

The welfare of the many outweighs the welfare of the few, especially the few who are trying to jeopardize the welfare of the many.

Of course, Der Fuehrer Donald himself, never one to take any responsibility for anything himself, being a fucking sociopath and one of the most evil “human beings” walking the planet — a billionaire, perhaps, but a human-sized walking, blathering piece of shit nonetheless — has blamed yesterday’s fracas in Chicago on — wait for it — Bernie Sanders.

Reuters reports:

… Trump, who has rallies in Ohio and Missouri [today] canceled [his] Chicago event [yesterday] after it turned chaotic, with scuffles breaking out between protesters and backers of the real estate magnate.

The clashes follow a slew of recent incidents of violence at Trump rallies, in which protesters and journalists have been punched, tackled and hustled out of venues, raising concerns about degrading security leading into the November 8 election.

“All of a sudden a planned attack just came out of nowhere,” Trump said at a rally in Dayton, Ohio, [this] morning, calling the protest leaders “professional people.”

He said his own fans “were taunted, they were harassed by these other people, these other people by the way, some represented Bernie, our communist friend.”

“Now really Bernie should tell his people … he should really get up and say to his people, ‘Stop, stop,'” he said.

A spokesman for Sanders, a self-described democratic socialist, did not immediately respond to a request for comment. …

Let’s see. How about the stupid, old, racist, fascist white man — a Trump supporter, of course — who quite offensively rather than anything like self-defensively punched a young black man (a protester) in the face at a Trump/KKK rally in Fayetteville, North Carolina, this past week?

None of Trump’s Brownshirts was punched in the face in Chicago yesterday, to my knowledge; to my knowledge there weren’t even any arrests.

The stupid old pro-Trump white man who punched the young black man in the face this past week, however, has been arrested (probably only because his crime was captured on video).

When is Der Fuehrer Trump going to get up and say to his (goose-stepping) people, “Stop, stop”?

And of course the probably-too-pacifistic Bernie Sanders did not organize any sort of anti-Trump protest in Chicago yesterday (although I would be fine with it if he had). Bernie Sanders is just one of millions and millions of Americans who share his values and beliefs, and non-fascist Americans are free to act as they — we — will. We don’t have to wait and we won’t wait until we get the pretty-please permission of Bernie Sanders or anyone else to fight the real and present danger of domestic fascism, and yesterday we proved that.

Trump knows all of this, of course; it was just an opportunity for the neo-Nazi leader to blame Bernie Sanders — to blame someone, anyone else — for the fact that his fascist, neo-Nazi campaign for the White House stirs up violence, and it was an opportunity for grand propagandist (as well as Grand Wizard) Trump to brand Bernie Sanders a “communist.”

(Nothing like reaching back to the 1950s and before for some scare tactics! It’s as woefully outdated as it is wholly inaccurate, but our audience is comprised of nothing but abject, retrograde morons who are easily lied to and who are moved easily by fear and scare tactics, so no matter!)

Actually, now we Bernie Sanders supporters are, I believe, more likely than we were before yesterday to disrupt Trump’s KKK rallies, now that he has taken to attacking Bernie Sanders in trying to blame Sanders for the violence for which he is solely responsible, and now that he is employing Red-Scare-era slurs against Sanders.

For the record, I don’t see Billary Clinton’s supporters as being anything remotely resembling effective in fighting the likes of Der Fuehrer Trump and his jackbooted lemmings, since the Billarybots accept an awful lot of evil in a leader, as long as he or she just says nice things, as evidenced by their support of Billary, whose entire political career has been comprised of panderingly saying one nice thing but doing another, evil thing.

Not that we supporters of Bernie Sanders need the worthless, brainless, spineless, ineffectual followers of Billary Clinton in the fight against fascism here at home; indeed, we Berners have outnumbered Trump’s Brownshirts for a long time now.

In any event, preventing the rise of a new Nazi Germany here in the United States of America under Der Fuehrer Donald is something to be proud of. (If you are heterosexual, it would be something to proudly tell your grandchildren.)

The shame would be in just allowing yet another fascist demagogue to rise again and to, with his henchfascists, persecute and murder millions of people. Let the eternal shame of the German people in their colossal dereliction of duty to derail Adolf Hitler and his henchmen, their eternal shame for their unconscionable failure to nip that one in the bud, be our guide now.

Preventing that level of evil is worth dying for, and we, the good Americans, the real Americans, must stand up to Der Fuehrer Trump and his Brownshirts and say, loudly: Over our dead bodies!

And if we need to employ violence against the neo-Nazis, then so be it. They need to know that we, the true patriotic Americans, will not take that off of the table, that we can speak their language too, only even better than they can, and that if they want a rematch of the Civil War, we are ready to hand their own sorry asses to them again.

P.S. You’ve probably seen this already, but in case not:

P.P.S. Apparently many counter-Trump protesters were shouting “Bernie! Bernie! Bernie!” in the university arena in Chicago yesterday, and at least one protester had a Bernie campaign sign:

The Latest: Cruz says Trump bears some responsibility

Associated Press photo

Two things on this:

One, it’s nothing to disavow; to the contrary, it’s something to be proud of. (Unsurprisingly and tellingly, I’ve yet to see any report that any of the anti-fascist protesters were shouting, “Hillary! Hillary!” or displayed one of her campaign signs.)

Two, even if it were something to disavow, which it is not, neither Bernie Sanders nor his campaign has control over its supporters, who number in the millions.

And nor should a candidate or his or her campaign have any such control. Campaigns for elected office exist for the people; the people do not exist for campaigns for elected office. (This is, of course, the opposite philosophy of the jackbooted, goose-stepping Trumpians, who obediently give Der Fuehrer Trump their familiar one-armed pledge of allegiance.)

Finally, I just stumbled across this news photo from the fracas in Chicago yesterday and I love it. It’s one of the most iconic news photos that I’ve seen in ages:

Trump protesters cheer after GOP front-runner cancels rally

Associated Press photo

Seriously. Kudos to this young man for standing up like he did (and kudos to all of the many others, too, of course), and the photographer deserves a photojournalism award.

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The Obama years 7/8 the way through: He’s been our caretaker in chief

Note: I’ll probably be tinkering with this post over the next several days (mostly, adding new thoughts and new points and details). After all, it’s difficult to include everything significant that transpired (or didn’t transpire) in seven years of a presidency.

Obama's executive actions could open a door for successors

Associated Press photo

President Barack Obama is shown above in Washington, D.C., on December 10. Salon.com writer Walker Bragman has deemed Obama “the first liberal (not progressive) Democrat to be president in years,” and that’s probably an apt short summary of the Obama years, if by that Bragman means that Obama has espoused liberal ideals but has done little to nothing to move the nation forward to ensure greater socioeconomic equity and greater opportunity for all (which is progressivism).

In November 2008, when I went to my polling place, it was going to be Barack Obama or independent presidential candidate Ralph Nader* whose oval I would blacken with my ballpoint pen on my paper ballot to be scanned.

In the end, I voted for Barack Obama. He would win my state of California and all of its electoral votes anyway, and I was happy to be one of the millions of American voters who had the opportunity, for the first time in the nation’s history, to vote for a presidential candidate who is not a (full) white man. That was long past due.

I strongly had supported Obama over Billary Clinton in the primary. I’d donated hundreds of dollars to his campaign to help him knock Billary out of the primary, which he did.

But I didn’t support Obama over Billary because he’s half-white and half-black. I supported him over her because I’d believed his ubiquitous presidential campaign promises of “hope” and “change.” I viewed him as the most progressive yet still viable presidential candidate (as I view Bernie Sanders now). That is why I supported him in the 2008 Democratic primary and why I voted for him in November 2008.

I believe in actually holding an elected official to his or her campaign promises, and so when Obama spectacularly squandered his huge amount of political capital in 2009 and 2010 by trying to sing “Kumbaya” with the Repugnican Tea Party traitors in Congress who never were going to cooperate with him in the first place because he’s a Democrat and because he’s half-black, I was incredibly disappointed.

In 2009 and 2010, when both houses of Congress were in the Democrats’ control, Obama could have accomplished a lot more than he actually did. He pushed “bipartisanship,” which always had been a non-starter, instead of pushing a progressive agenda.

And in 2009 and 2010 getting “Obamacare” pushed through Congress took all of the oxygen in the room, and, in the end, “Obamacare,” supposedly Obama’s “signature” “achievement,” apparently contained nothing that the lobbyists for the wealth-care industry didn’t want it to contain. (Indeed, “Obamacare’s” individual mandate requires everyone to have health insurance; what mostly-for-profit industry wouldn’t love such a requirement?**)

Then, in November 2010, the Dems lost control of the House of Representatives, and then, in November 2014, they lost control of the Senate (and lost even more seats in the House).

There are at least a few reasons for those losses, including the incredibly shitty “leadership” of Democratic National Committee head Debbie Wasserman Schultz, but I still believe that had Obama pushed the progressive agenda that he at least indirectly had promised with his “hope” and “change” slogans, the Democrats would have kept the House and the Senate.

Indeed, it primarily was Obama’s dithering in 2009 and 2010 that lost the Dems the House in 2010, I believe, thus crippling any progressive agenda for the remainder of Obama’s two terms, since the Repugnican Tea Party traitors in Congress have held on to the House since January 2011.

Since January 2011, with the House controlled by the Repugnican Tea Party traitors and the White House controlled by Obama, we’ve had nothing but even more gridlock, and since both houses of Congress fell to Repugnican Tea Party control after the election of November 2014, Obama was guaranteed a final two years of more whimper than bang.

I give Obama faint praise for being the first U.S. president to jump on board with same-sex marriage in 2012, although that was overdue and was coming sooner or later anyway. And as with Billary Clinton, it did take Obama a long time to “evolve” on the issue, even though the U.S. Supreme Court this past June finally ruled that same-sex marriage is a right guaranteed by the U.S. Constitution.

Something is a constitutional right or it is not; the recognition of a constitutional right might be denied and delayed for even generations, but nonetheless it remains a constitutional right, and further, constitutional rights are not up for a vote or even for a public-opinion poll. Again, same-sex marriage inherently was a constitutional right long before the foot-dragging U.S. Supreme Court finally ruled that it is, so yes, Obama fairly led from behind on that issue; history led Obama more than Obama led history.

(That said, I can’t imagine that Obama’s having been the first president to voice his support for same-sex marriage wasn’t a significant factor in the U.S. Supreme Court finally following suit three years later. Wikipedia notes that Obama’s second inaugural address in January 2013 marked “the first time that a president mentioned gay rights or the word ‘gay’ in an inaugural address.”)

I applaud Obama for his work in opening up Cuba after decades. It’s beyond ridiculous that a Latin American nation 90 miles away from the United States should remain locked in a perpetual cold war with the U.S., which is what the right-wing traitors have wanted.

However, as I wrote a year ago, Cubans have much more to lose in closer ties with the United States than vice-versa. (As I wrote, “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? … 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?”)

Obama’s other notable accomplishments include seating our first Latina or Latino U.S. Supreme Court justice, Sonia Sotomayor, in 2009, and, with the seating of Elena Kagan in 2010, Obama gave us the first Supreme Court with three female justices (we need at least one or two more of them).

The Matthew Shepard and James Byrd, Jr. Hate Crimes Prevention Act of 2009 also was an accomplishment, even if it again seems that history led and that our politicians finally caught up. Ditto for the Don’t Ask, Don’t Tell Repeal Act of 2010. (And it’s hard to say that the abolishment of something hateful and unconstitutional that never should have been instituted in the first place is an “accomplishment,” but we’ll call it one, I suppose.)

Obama hasn’t been able to accomplish enough on climate change, in no small part because his dithering in 2009 and 2010 lost the Democrats control of Congress. And with “Democrats” like the former Louisiana Sen. Mary Landrieu, Big Oil, with its Big Money to politicians who sell us out to them, combatting climate change remains a political mountain to overcome.

But/and on that note, Obama was stunningly ineffectual in confronting British Petroleum when its underwater oil well belched an estimated 5 million barrels of crude oil into the Gulf of Mexico over almost three months in 2010. It was his first huge test of his campaign promises of environmental protection, and he failed miserably.

Perhaps at least in part because of his failure to deal with the BP oil disaster effectively, Obama did veto the Keystone XL oil pipeline earlier this year, in what Wikipedia calls “his first major veto.” That would be in the “plus” column of Obama’s environmental record, but overall, has Obama done enough in combatting climate change and otherwise protecting the environment? Of course not.

Profound income inequality persists under Obama. It’s yet another critical national problem that became fairly insoluble after the Dems lost control of Congress in the election of 2010, and it’s ironic that the nation’s first (half-)black president has done so little to improve the lot of black Americans (who, for the most part, support him steadfastly nonetheless, apparently more out of identity politics than for his actual accomplishments for them).

Obama hasn’t done a lot more for black Americans for many reasons, that I can tell. One, he’s never wanted to come off as an “angry” black man, knowing that he couldn’t have won the presidency had he done so. (I can’t say that that has been his fault, but that that has been the cards that he has been dealt in this still-racist nation.) Two, Obama was raised by his white mother and her side of the family, so his experience growing up was different than has been the experience of most black Americans. (That’s not some sort of a slam; it’s just the truth as far as I can discern it.) And three, again, after the Dems lost the House in the election of 2010, Obama’s ability to do much for black Americans and other Americans in need was seriously weakened anyway.

On foreign policy, which could be its own blog post — and I think that a heavy focus on foreign policy too often is just a distraction from our disastrous domestic policies — I need only point out, I think (aside from my earlier remarks on Cuba), that while 9/11 happened on the unelected “President” George W. Bush’s watch, the United States has not sustained a large terrorist attack from abroad under Obama’s watch.

So desperate have been the uber-hypocritical Repugnican Tea Party traitors to try to claim that Obama hasn’t kept us safe from the Big Bad Terrorists that they have focused on the four Americans killed in Benghazi, Libya, in September 2012, while they wholly ignore the fact that almost 3,000 Americans died on 9/11 and that more than 4,000 of our troops died pointlessly in the unelected, treasonous Bush regime’s illegal, immoral, unjust, unprovoked and wholly bogus Vietraq War.

Those 7,000 or so deaths on George W. Bush’s watch are nothing, you see, but those four deaths in Benghazi on Obama’s watch are everything. (Indeed, racism is behind this; a white, right-wing president is responsible for thousands of preventable deaths of Americans — almost 2,000 Americans, disproportionately black Americans, died in Hurricane Katrina in 2005, so we can add them also to the body count under George W. Bush — and he is excused, yet four deaths under a black president is an inexcusable travesty!)

Obama also received less public praise than George W. Bush would have received had 9/11 mastermind Osama bin Laden been exterminated by Bush when he still occupied the White House instead of by Obama in 2011. Don’t get me wrong; the whole bin Laden extermination affair remains fishy (pun intended), as bin Laden would have been more valuable alive than dead, and the supposed disposal of his body in the ocean was unnecessary and, dare I say, weird and therefore suspect.

The Middle East remains a mess, of course, and while I always have opposed Obama’s use of killer drones, and the use of killer drones in general (and the United States’ over-militarization in general), the bloodshed in the Middle East on Obama’s watch has been much, much less than it was on George W. Bush’s.

(If you say that Well, 9/11!, then I say that On August 6, 2001, while he was on vacation at his ranch in Crawford, Texas, Bush had been given a presidential daily briefing titled “Bin Laden Determined to Strike in US.” Um, yeah. [Similarly, there had been plenty of warning that Hurricane Katrina might hit land and kill scores of people. Bush in effect had been issued a presidential daily briefing titled “Katrina Determined to Strike in US,” but he ignored that warning, too. After all, on the day that Katrina made landfall, he was too busy celebrating John McCainosaurus’ 69th birthday in Arizona.)

I acknowledge, of course, that the president of the United States of America can do only so much, that much is beyond his (or her) control, such as congressional gridlock and the separation of powers (which would include a center-right U.S. Supreme Court that has done such things as pick George W. Bush as president even though Al Gore had won the presidential election of 2000 and proclaim that corporations have the First Amendment right to make unlimited monetary contributions to political campaigns [corporations are not people and therefore don’t have First Amendment rights that even actual people don’t even have].)

But given Obama’s limitations of the presidency, I still don’t see that he much tried to deliver very substantially upon his promises of “hope” and “change,” and that would be his fault. He has had some restrictions, we must acknowledge, but has he maximized what he has been able to do around those restrictions? Methinks not.

And yes, of course Obama has been head and shoulders (and torso and legs) above the unelected George W. Bush, but I refuse to allow Bush II to have set the bar for the presidency that low; besides, he never legitimately was elected anyway, so, although death and destruction (including the collapse of the nation’s economy) were the result of his having stolen the 2000 presidential election, I don’t really even count Bush. He never should have happened in the first fucking place.

An aggregate of historians’ (and political scientists’ and political pundits’) rankings of the U.S. presidents puts President Obama at No. 17 out of 43. (Obama is called No. 44, but Grover Cleveland had two non-consecutive terms as president, and thus is called our 22nd and our 24th president, so we’ve actually had only 43 presidents.) Obama ranks in the top half, but for “hope” and “change” I expected much better. (George W. Bush, if you were wondering, ranks at No. 34, in the bottom 10, where he belongs, although I’d put him lower. Ronald Reagan ranks two notches above Obama, with which I disagree, and Bill Clinton ranks three notches below Obama.)

Obama’s race has never mattered to me. While history probably will most remark that he was our first non-all-white president, to me his presidency mostly has represented squandered opportunity; to me he mostly has been, at best, a caretaker in chief. I came to that conclusion no later than the close of 2010, when the Democrats lost the House.

And that is why I could not bring myself to vote for Obama again in November 2012. (I voted instead for the Green Party presidential candidate, which is something that I’d done before and something that I would do again; I owe the Democratic Party nothing.) I’d felt quite punk’d by those ubiquitous promises of “hope” and “change,” and to continue to vote for politicians who don’t follow through on their campaign promises is only to contribute to even more such broken campaign promises. If there is no penalty, how will it stop?

That and I knew that in November 2012 Obama was going to win California and all of its electoral votes anyway. (Yes, many Americans, ignorant of how their own nation and government function, don’t understand the Electoral College, under which if you live in a solidly blue or red state, as I do, your vote for president pretty much doesn’t count; we need a popular vote for the presidency, just as we have for the governorships, for the 100 seats in the U.S. Senate and for every other elected office in the nation.)

I still believe that Obama, although overall he has been a rather disappointing, rather lackluster president, more of a caretaking president than a groundbreaking president, has made a better president than Repugnican Lite Billary Clinton would have, and because my principles haven’t changed — among which, I don’t support Democrats in name only, as that doesn’t solve the persistent problem of Democrats in name only — I cannot and will not support DINO Billary Clinton in any way.

(Again, if she wins the 2016 Democratic Party presidential nomination, she’ll win all of California’s electoral votes in November 2016 anyway, regardless of whether I vote for her or not, so save your misinformed, dead-wrong assertion that if I don’t vote for DINO Billary I have helped whomever the Repugnican Tea Party presidential candidate will be.)

So Barack Obama goes out in his final year not with a bang, but with a whimper. Already we’re looking ahead of him, with incessant media coverage of Donald Trump and to a lesser degree Billary Clinton.

I began with words from Salon.com’s Walker Bragman and I’ll end with more of his wise words:

… If Hillary gets the nomination, and is elected, she will inadequately address the problems this country faces, [problems] that are angering people, by negotiating from the center/right and then moving right as a compromise, to give us mere half-measures or quarter measures. I fear, given her New Democrat background, that she will likely use social programs and financial reform as bargaining chips.

I strongly believe that Hillary will kill the momentum that has been generated over the last eight years by Barack Obama, the first liberal (not progressive) Democrat to be president in years – and that will do more damage to the Democratic brand than four years of a Republican president would do to the country.

I am not saying that four years of a Republican would not be worse for the country than four years of Hillary in the immediate; I am saying that four years of Hillary will do more long-term damage by prolonging the Democratic realignment. [Absolutely agreed.]

Americans want real change – and they’re looking to the Democrats to provide it. But if we only put a Band-Aid on issues like the wealth gap and financial reform, which is essentially Hillary’s plan, Americans will not be satisfied. As much as politically minded people remind us that change is slow, what Hillary offers is too slow. Her kind of change is weakness.

If the New Deal taught us anything, it’s that unprecedented sweeping government action can happen quickly. FDR achieved significant reforms within the first hundred days of his presidency. Hillary’s supporters have not learned from Obama’s biggest blunder: negotiating from the middle with opponents on the far right. These people insist that we have to just keep making slow progress because all we can hope for are small gains.

They point to the weakness of the Democratic Party since the 1970s as evidence of their position. However, this is a common misunderstanding of history and the lesson of the Democrats’ decline from the 1970s to the 2000s. …

Yup.

FDR is listed as the second-best president on that aggregate of presidential rankings that I mentioned (he’s just behind Abraham Lincoln). Again, Bill Clinton is ranked at No. 20. We don’t need another President Clinton.

We need another FDR, and the closest that we have to that is Bernie Sanders.

*I had voted for Nader when he ran as the Green Party presidential candidate in November 2000, something that I’ve never regretted, and it’s not my fault that Americans just allowed BushCheneyCorp to steal the 2000 presidential election. They should have been rioting in the streets over that treasonously, blatantly stolen election, but they did not. And, of course, Team Gore should have fought much, much harder than it did instead of wanting to appear to be above the fray.

**My general stance on health care is that it is a human right and that no one should have to pay for it (or, minimally, that it should be free of cost to those whose annual income falls below a certain amount) and that health care never should be allowed to be delivered on a for-profit basis. “Obamacare” did nothing, to my knowledge, to solve the overarching problem of health care having fallen victim to profiteering, to greed — and thus having become wealth care.

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Keeping Sanders in the White House would be harder than getting him there

Associated Press photo

Leftist Jeremy Corbyn yesterday won the leadership of the United Kingdom’s Labour Party by a larger margin than the center-right Tony Blair won in 1994 when he became the party’s leader. Corbyn won the election despite the predictions of doom by the center-right assholes who use the Labour Party label, much as how the center-right assholes here in the United States who use the Democratic Party label predict doom should democratic socialist Bernie Sanders win the party’s 2016 presidential nomination.

It’s interesting how the political climates of the United States and the United Kingdom so often mirror each other.

Right-wing, pro-plutocratic, anti-working-class U.S. President Ronald Reagan of the Repugnican Party was in office from early 1981 through early 1989, and right-wing, pro-plutocratic, anti-working-class UK Prime Minister Margaret Thatcher of the Conservative Party was in office from mid-1979 through late 1990. They were two fascistic peas in a pod, and the socioeconomic (and other) damage that they wreaked upon us commoners in the U.S. and the UK remains today.

Probably at least in part due to how long wingnuts had reigned (recall that Reagan was followed by four years of King George Bush I), “Democrat” Bill Clinton, part of the small movement to move the Democratic Party to the right (namely, the now-thank-Goddess-defunct Democratic Leadership Council) — the “thinking” apparently was that if you can’t beat ’em, join ’em — turned the Democratic Party into the Repugnican Lite Party, or, as I like to think of the two duopolistic parties, the Coke Party and the Pepsi Party. (If you can’t tell the difference between the two, don’t worry; many if not most of the rest of us can’t, either.)

Tony Blair, UK prime minister from mid-1997 through mid-2007, apparently was quite inspired by Bill Clinton’s electoral success from having politically triangulated the United States and dragged the Democratic Party to the right. Given Blair’s blindly obedient support of King George Bush II’s illegal, immoral, unprovoked and unjust Vietraq War, you would think that Blair had been affiliated with the UK’s Conservative Party, but nope, he was affiliated with the Labour Party.

It’s no shock that Tony Blair, who had sold the Labour Party out just as the Clintons and Barack Obama have sold the Democratic Party out — I mean, it’s awfully interesting that Billary Clinton in October 2002 voted for the Vietraq War, so she was in lockstep with Tony Blair as well as with the unelected, fascistic Bush regime — had warned hyperbolically that the election of true progressive Jeremy Corbyn as leader of the Labour Party would mean the party’s “annihilation.”

For all of Blair’s self-serving blather, Slate.com notes that yesterday Corbyn “won 59.5 percent of the more than 400,000 votes cast, meaning he won leadership of the UK’s main opposition party by an even larger margin than Tony Blair’s historic 1994 victory, when he got 57 percent of the vote.”

The Washington Post’s Dan Balz notes of Tony Blair that:

To American audiences, it is difficult to overstate the degree to which Blair is now an outcast in British politics. He may retain some affection here in the United States, but not in Britain. If there were any doubts about his current place in the politics of his country and particularly in the party he restored to prominence in the 1990s, it became clear with Corbyn’s landslide victory.

The Labour Party has been in turmoil since the general election in May, when Prime Minister David Cameron’s Conservative Party scored a surprising victory, securing an outright, if narrow, parliamentary majority when almost all polls predicted another hung Parliament and the possibility of a back-door path to power for Labour under its then-leader, Ed Miliband.

The election proved a wipeout for the Labour Party. Miliband resigned immediately, and as the party began the search for a new leader, it was plunged into a tumultuous debate about its future direction — a debate that hardly will be settled with the Corbyn election.

Blair weighed in days after the general election, warning that Labour had veered too far left under Miliband and that the road back to power required the party to recapture the center ground it had held from 1997 until 2010. As polls showed Corbyn rising, Blair warned of the potentially fateful consequences of an even sharper left turn. …

Again, Blair is like the Clintons, arguing that to succeed, the Labour Party/Democratic Party must mimic the Conservative Party/Repugnican Party. And like the self-serving Clintons, the self-serving Blair very apparently is wholly untroubled by how repulsive many if not most members of his party (the party that he claims but whose ideals he has sold out) find this ongoing “argument” to be.

And, of course, the comparison of the leftist Corbyn to the leftist U.S. presidential aspirant Bernie Sanders inevitably has been made, because Sanders now faces what Corbyn also has faced: being a member of a formerly progressive, formerly pro-working-class party that was taken over by self-serving, center-right assholes who over several years turned the party into a shadow, a husk of its former self — indeed, into a paler imitation of the opposition right-wing, anti-working-class, pro-plutocratic party to the point that the term “opposition party” no longer has meant much of anything.

For all of Blair’s self-serving blathering and for all of the self-serving, center-right conventional “wisdom” in the UK that making the Labour Party progressive again would mean its DOOM!, Corbyn has prevailed.

The self-serving, center-right conventional “wisdom” here in The Mirror Land of the United States of America also is that making the Democratic Party actually progressive again would mean its DOOM! Therefore, for Democrats to elect democratic socialist (gasp!) Bernie Sanders instead of Repugnican Lite Billary Clinton as their 2016 presidential nominee would Destroy the Democratic Party!

Except that the Democratic Party was destroyed long ago.

Ever since the 1990s, the Democratic Party, first under the Clintons and now under Caretaker in Chief Obama (who, even when he was running for his first term couldn’t say enough about how great Ronald Reagan was [again, there is no meaningful “opposition party” in the United States anymore]), has served the plutocrats and the corporate fat cats more than it has served the working class and what’s left of the decimated middle class.

The Democratic Party talks about caring about us commoners, but for years now that’s all that we commoners have received: talk. Talk, lots and lots of talk, such as of “hope” and of “change.”

So when Billary claims to wuv us so much, against the mountains of evidence to the contrary, it rings hollow.

But the game is up, which is why those who benefit from playing the center-right game for some months now have been ignoring and dismissing how well Bernie Sanders might do and indeed how well he is doing.

Nationally, Sanders remains in second place to Billary, but her national numbers have been falling for weeks now. Talk of Joe Biden perhaps jumping into the fray apparently has lost both Billary and Sanders some support in the nationwide polls (in which Biden now comes in at third place), but I don’t expect two-time presidential-contest loser Biden to jump in, not with Iowa and New Hampshire less than five months away.

(If Biden does jump in, one must ask which group he appeals to more: those of us who are beyond sick and tired of the Democratic-in-name-only establishment and thus who are going to stick with Bernie Sanders, come hell or high water, or those who still plan to hold their noses and stomach the DINO establishment, of which Biden and Billary are huge parts, believing that that is the best that they — and we — can do against the Repugnican Tea Party fascists.)

Sanders has been leading Billary beyond the margin of error in New Hampshire, and for weeks now Sanders’ polling numbers in Iowa have been going up while Billary’s have been going down. It seems to me that if Sanders wins both Iowa and New Hampshire in February, Billary’s campaign most likely will collapse like the house of cards that it is.

Team Billary has been jabbering about its supposed “firewall” in the South (the fourth state and the first Southern state to weigh in is South Carolina, in late February, and then in March, almost all of the rest of the South weighs in), which is awfully interesting, because is the Democratic Party really supposed to be about Southern values? What does it say about Billary Clinton that she would do better in the South than in the actually Democratic states?

And if Billary were so strong, why does she need a “firewall”?

Don’t get me wrong; I don’t predict a cakewalk for my chosen candidate, Bernie Sanders.

Now that Jeremy Corbyn has won the leadership of the Labour Party and is poised to return it to its roots, he will face certain opposition not only from the Conservative Party, but also from the center-right supporters of Tony Blair and his ilk who will do their very best to politically cripple Corbyn and who then will blame it on the supposed inherent unworkability of his political ideology and practices.

This is what the United States of America long has done to the sovereign socialist nation of Cuba, for example: Do everything possible to cripple it and prevent it from succeeding and then blame any and all of Cuba’s problems entirely on its leaders’ political ideology and practices, entirely ignoring the blatant sabotage of Cuba by the wingnutty, capitalist swine in the U.S.

This dynamic is most likely what a President Sanders also would face: opposition and sabotage not only from the Repugnican Tea Party traitors, which goes without saying, but also opposition and sabotage from the embittered center-right DINOs whose years of privilege (gained by blatantly having sold the rest of us out) had ended with Sanders’ election and who now wish to show that their center-right way of doing things is the best way of doing things, as evidenced by the failure of the Sanders administration, which they have done their best to bring about.

Seriously: It’s bad enough to face opposition from the fascists on the right, but to have to face opposition also from the Fascist Lites who also use your party’s name is a special insult to injury.

Again, this is what Sanders is up against.

Not only is it going to take an all-out political revolution to put Bernie Sanders into the Oval Office, but it’s going to take an ongoing revolution to keep him there.

A truly populist revolution — a revolution in which a government that truly reflects the best interests of the majority of the people (that is, an actually democratic government) is established — always is vulnerable from attacks by those who benefited, at the expense of the many, from the old way of doing things.

Again: Getting Sanders there would be, in the scope of things, the easy part. Keeping him there will/would be the real battle, as we Americans have a tendency to show up for presidential elections every four years and that’s it (if we even do that much).

I, for one, am ready for the long haul.

Years and years of damage by center-right party sellouts aren’t reversed in one election.

In the meantime, I am inspired by Jeremy Corbyn’s win, and I see it as indicative that the winds in the West are blowing leftward.

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