Tag Archives: Plutocrats

Walker might walk away with his party’s nod for the White House (Part 2)

Wisconsin Governor Scott Walker participates in a panel discussion at the American Action Forum in Washington

Reuters photo

Wingnut Scott Walker (photographed above about a week ago in Washington, D.C.) tops recent polls of Repugnican Tea Party presidential preference in both Iowa and New Hampshire. Those traits of his that his party’s base sees as bonuses, however, would be deadly to him in a national race. 

Sure, it’s still just a bit less than a year before the first 2016 presidential primary season contests begin in Iowa and then New Hampshire (Iowa’s caucuses will be on January 18 and New Hampshire’s primary will be on January 26), but Repugnican Tea Party Wisconsin Gov. Scott Walker is maintaining his momentum for his party’s nomination.

In a recent poll of New Hampshire voters, Walker came in at No. 1, with 21 percent, followed at second place by Jeb of the Bush Dynasty, with 14 percent.

After a first-place win in Iowa and/or New Hampshire, the front runner’s momentum exponentially snowballs, so Walker must be happy about how he is polling in Iowa and New Hampshire right now (No. 1 in both states).

Prognosticator/god Nate Silver, meanwhile, gives Scott Walker and Jeb Bush each a 25-percent chance of winning the 2016 Repugnican Tea Party presidential nomination.

(Silver also, unfortunately, gives Billary Clinton a 78 percent chance of winning the Democratic Party’s 2016 persidential nomination, with Elizabeth Warren at a distant second place, with a 7-percent chance. [If Warren actually were to announce, I think, we’d see her polling jump.])

Jeb Bush’s challenges, of course, include the fact that the last “President” Bush (I have to use the quotation marks, since George W. Bush never was elected legitimately in the first place) was one of the worst presidents in our nation’s history (we still are recovering from his debacle in Iraq, replete with the resultant blowback that is ISIS, and from the economy that he thoroughly wrecked) and the fact that Jeb is considered to be too liberal by his party’s far-right nut jobs.

Also, Jeb’s been out of elected office for a bit more than eight full years now, adding weight to the argument that he’s running primarily because of his surname.

Walker’s biggest challenge (aside from the fact that he is an evil, heartless, soulless, lying, thieving, colossal asshole bought and paid for by the Koch brothers and other plutocrats) is his lack of charisma; however, none of these qualities that we sane individuals would consider to be negatives (such as being evil, having no charisma and being the plutocrats’ puppet) should harm Walker in the Repugnican Tea Party primary season (where, in fact, these qualities are considered to be bonuses).

Walker tosses around the word “God” enough and mouths enough 1950s-era platitudes about Capitalism, God’s Chosen Economic System (despite the mountains of evidence to the contrary), to keep his party’s deeply fucktarded base of “Christo”fascists, pro-plutocrats and jingoists happy (and, of course, his whiteness appeals to his party’s white supremacists, of which there are many).

And while Walker is despised by many if not even most in Wisconsin, to the majority in his party, even though he’s just yet another stupid white man running for the White House, as a presidential contender he has that fresh-car smell (as Barack Obama might put it).

But can Walker win the White House?

Oh, hell no. Very most likely not.

The fairly-charisma-free Billary Clinton (who, indeed, very most likely will win her party’s 2016 presidential nod if Warren stays out) is a giantess of charisma compared to Walker, and the national electorate as of late has been rejecting right-wing white men, such as John McCainosaurus and Mittens Romney. Those of us who aren’t right-wing white men (and that’s most of us Americans, and a growing number and percentage of us Americans) are sick and fucking tired of these stupid white men running the show. (Which is why it’s necessary for the millionaires and billionaires to buy elections and for the Repugnican Tea Party to pass legislation in the states ensuring that only the “right” people are able to cast a vote.)

Also, the centerpiece of Walker’s politics has been his relentless attacks against the working class and the middle class, to blame them (us) for his state’s (and, presumably, the nation’s) economic ills. He has been able to make this work in Wisconsin, with the help of his billionaire sugar daddies, but in a nation that still is recovering from the economy that the last Repugnican occupant of the White House destroyed, a candidate whose political history has consisted of blaming the victims of our economic problems for our economic problems won’t go over very well on the national level.

And, of course, there is, I believe, a hunger for our first female president. While I wish that our first female president were an actual progressive, and not a sellout DINO-weasel like Billary Clinton, with a Billary Clinton presidency, at the minimum we could say that finally, a woman was in the Oval Office (and not as a secretary or as first lady).

The fact is that our system of “democracy” has become so corrupt, and our collective political imagination has become so fucking bankrupt, that it indeed is fairly easy to predict, a year out, how things are going to pan out in Iowa and New Hampshire in January 2016.

Scott Walker will, I believe, emerge as his party’s 2016 presidential candidate. While Nate Silver gives Walker and Jeb an equal chance, no one, that I can see, has the appetite for a third Bush presidency — except, perhaps, for those whose surname is Bush.

And Billary will, I believe, emerge as her party’s candidate — unless Elizabeth Warren jumps in soon. If she does, she has a fighting chance, but if she doesn’t, it’s all Billary’s, for better or for worse.

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Notes on the mess in Ferguson

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A screen grab (above) from a video apparently showing Michael Brown roughing up a convenience store clerk on the date of Brown’s shooting death by a white police officer apparently belies the idea of Brown having been a gentle giant, at least on the day of his death, but of course the unarmed Brown didn’t deserve to die for allegedly having stolen cigarillos. And law enforcement officers need to adopt non-lethal means of subduing subjects they deem dangerous or possibly dangerous, and of course we have way too many white cops shooting unarmed black men. All of that said, though, shit like torching police cars, as was done in Ferguson, Mo., last night (see news photo below), accomplishes exactly nothing.

A man runs from a police car that is set on fire after a group of protesters vandalize the vehicle after the announcement of the grand jury decision Monday, Nov. 24, 2014, in Ferguson, Mo. A grand jury has decided not to indict Ferguson police officer Darren Wilson in the death of Michael Brown, the unarmed, black 18-year-old whose fatal shooting sparked sometimes violent protests. (AP Photo/Charlie Riedel)

Associated Press photo

I’ve yet to write about the shooting death of Michael Brown in Ferguson, Mo., for several reasons, including the fact that I wanted to wait for things to play out and the fact, to be honest, that I’ve been Fergusoned out, much like I’ve been Benghazi’d out. Not to compare the two (one is an event that is a symptom of our broad and deep societal ills, and the other a comparative non-event drummed up by the right wing), but because the sensationalist media have beaten both into the ground.

First: Let’s acknowledge, as taboo as it is to do so (on the left, anyway), that Michael Brown apparently was no angel. There very apparently is surveillance video, for fuck’s sake, of the 6-foot-4-inch, almost 300-pound 18-year-old (whose nickname apparently was “Big Mike”) very apparently roughing up a convenience store clerk on the day that he later was shot and killed by former Ferguson police officer Darren Wilson (that day was August 9), and Wilson has claimed that when he encountered Brown, Brown had a handful of cigarillos that he’d apparently stolen from the convenience store.

(Whether this is true or whether Wilson was lying in an attempt to retroactively “justify” his shooting of Brown by trying to link Brown to a crime that Wilson has claimed he had been aware of is quite in dispute. [It seems to me that it’s quite possible that Wilson had had no knowledge of the convenience-store robbery before he encountered Brown on that fateful day in August, and if memory serves, early news reports [such as this one] indeed were that Wilson had not known about the convenience-store robbery when he encountered Brown.])

I’m no angel myself, but the exact number of times that I’ve roughed up a convenience store clerk while stealing from him is, um, zero. As there not only is surveillance video, but as Michael Brown’s companion on that fateful day, Dorian Johnson, apparently also has testified that Brown committed the convenience-store robbery (to Johnson’s surprise), that Brown committed the crime is, methinks, fairly indisputable, and it is not “character assassination” to divulge unflattering facts about Brown’s unflattering actions on that day, as Brown’s defenders have alleged. Brown’s character, at least as it was on that particular day, it seems to me, rather speaks for itself. On that day, anyway, very apparently, Brown was no gentle giant.

But: Did Michael Brown deserve to get capped, even if he had committed a crime? Brown was unarmed, and photos of Darren Wilson’s “injuries” allegedly caused by Brown show only some red marks (maybe one light facial bruise) that appear as though they even could have been pre-existing. (Wilson, by the way, is 6 feet, 4 inches tall, weighs around 210 pounds and is 28 years old.)

The fact that it’s verging on the year 2015 and despite all of our technological advances we still have no widely used non-lethal way of effectively subduing those whom law enforcement officers deem need to be subdued is testament to what degree life (especially non-white life) is considered to be cheap here in the United States of America.

Sure, we have Tasers, but those are good for only a limited range, and whenever cops claim, correctly or incorrectly, truthfully or untruthfully, that they feared for their lives, they don’t use Tasers or the like, but they use live rounds. With all of our technological advances, why do we allow this beyond-sorry state of affairs to continue? Why don’t we care enough to force the cops to change their tactics?

And, of course, it’s inarguable that black men are treated as automatically guilty by many if not even most white cops, who often act as judge, jury and even executioner, and that cops disproportionately are white males, like Darren Wilson.

It’s also inarguable that Ferguson is just the tip of the iceberg. The main function of cops is to protect the socioeconomic interests of the plutocrats, the ruling elite. Cops serve and protect, all right, but whom do they serve and protect? Cops are tools of the elite, whether the cops know this or not, and whether the cops even care if they do know this.

So there is that dynamic that’s baked into the socioeconomic dynamics of the United States, as well as is the dynamic of institutionalized racism.

That said, while institutionalized racism rages on, we still must view every incident as an incident, with its unique details and factors and with its unique, individual actors, and we have to be careful not to allow individuals to become standard-bearers or stand-ins for our own views on race.

Just as Michael Brown apparently was no angel, I’m sure that Darren Wilson is no angel, either, and so to see black Americans portray Brown as what he apparently wasn’t (an innocent angel) and to see white Americans portray Wilson as what he probably isn’t (a “hero” who was just doing his job and protecting himself from a dangerous thug) has been disappointing, to put it mildly, because this is much more about sticking up for one’s own race than it is about any respect for the truth.

Indeed, the Ferguson case has been turned into a race war, in which Brown has been the proxy for black Americans and Wilson the proxy for white Americans – to the point that the grand jury’s decision, to many if not most Americans, apparently was supposed to go far, far beyond the very specific events surrounding Wilson’s shooting of Brown on August 9 in Ferguson, and was supposed to be a decision, a judgment, on whether or not American cops (most of them white) on the whole treat black American males unjustly, or even, more broadly, on whether or not the United States still has problems with racism.

That’s an understandable misunderstanding, I suppose, but it is a huge misunderstanding of the purpose of the grand jury nonetheless.

There was or there was not enough evidence to show that Wilson, in his capacity as a law enforcement officer, probably illegally shot Brown. (If the laws governing this question are fucked, that’s something else, and if the laws are fucked [and they are], then we need to change the laws.) That, however, was what the grand jury was to have decided: whether or not Wilson probably violated the letter of the law. That was the only job of the grand jury, and it was a narrow job.

And neither you nor I was there when Wilson shot Brown, which is another reason that I’ve yet to write about Ferguson until now: Most of us have an opinion on an event that we didn’t even witness, and for which we have only significantly different claims from different parties as to what did (and did not) transpire. Lacking that specific information, we fill the vacuum with our own opinions and prejudices and our biases that stem primarily from our own racial-group identity. Which is a sort of mob mentality.

Speaking of which, lobbing rocks and bricks and bottles and Molotov cocktails and smashing store-front windows and setting cars and buildings ablaze, while perhaps loads of fun for the participants, doesn’t do anything, that I can tell, to even begin to change the entrenched socioeconomic ills that plague the nation, the socioeconomic ills that are behind Michael Brown’s death.

I’m not staunchly against the use of violence as a political tactic – the plutocrats, our overlords, certainly never rule out the use of violence against us commoners, so we commoners never should rule out the use of violence against our plutocratic overlords, either – but violence, if used, should be strategic and it should get results. I don’t see that vandalizing store fronts and blocking roads and even setting businesses and other buildings and cars, including cop cars, ablaze do anything to even begin to change our corrupt system.

While the sources of the rage that induce individuals to take it to the streets are entirely understandable – those sources include institutionalized racism, ridiculous socioeconomic inequality from an economic system (capitalism) that is all about screwing others over for one’s own selfish gain, and the police state that we live under that protects and preserves this ridiculous socioeconomic inequality and institutionalized racism – again, I don’t see that the tactics that most of the enraged use on the streets actually are effective in bringing about real change.

Our fascistic, plutocratic overlords don’t exactly quake in their jackboots at the specter of small businesses having their front windows smashed out, and of course if a police car is torched, it is we, the taxpayers (which doesn’t include the tax-evading plutocrats), who will pay to replace that police car, of course. What do the plutocrats lose in these cases?

The plutocrats are perfectly willing to sacrifice a small, token amount in periodic property damage in order to perpetuate their ongoing socioeconomic rape, pillage and plunder of the masses and of the planet itself. (And it goes without saying, of course, that our plutocratic overlords are entirely untroubled by the periodic shootings of black men by white cops. After all, thus far the responses to these shootings, while they gain plenty of media coverage, haven’t threatened in any serious way the plutocrats’ iron grip on wealth and power.)

Finally, we Americans need to recognize that it wasn’t only Darren Wilson who killed Michael Brown. Almost all of us killed Michael Brown. (Ditto for Trayvon Martin, as I have stated, and for many others.) Because we have continued to allow the inexcusable bullshit to continue, and as long as we continue to do so, as long as we continue to refuse to dive more deeply than the surface (such as by looking primarily or even solely at race and not nearly enough at class, and by failing to effectively hold accountable the plutocratic puppet masters who always are hiding behind the scenes and thus always get away scot-free), and as long as we continue to refuse to do the long, hard, sustained work of making – of forcing, if necessary – significant systemic changes (yes, including up to true revolution [“reform” always leaves the power structure intact, doesn’t it?]), there will be plenty of more Michael Browns and Darren Wilsons.

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Bernie Sanders for President 2016 (thus far, anyway)

Sen. Bernie Sanders, I-Vt., center, joined by Congressional Democrats, and others, speaks at a news conference on Capitol Hill in Washington, Monday, Sept. 8, 2014, calling for an amendment to the Constitution aimed at curbing special interests' financial clout in elections. From left are, Robert Weissman, president of Public Citizen, Margery F. Baker, executive vice president for policy and program at People for the American Way, Sen. Tom Udall, D-N.M., Sanders, Sen. Sheldon Whitehouse, D-R.I., Rep. Ted Deutch, D-Fla., and Sen. Al Franken, D-Minn. Members of the Senate and the House of Representatives return to Capitol Hill today after a five-week vacation. (AP Photo/J. Scott Applewhite)

Associated Press photo

Progressive U.S. Sen. Bernie Sanders, probable 2016 presidential candidate, speaks at a news conference in Washington, D.C., earlier this month geared toward overturning the right-wing U.S. Supreme Court’s disastrous Citizens United decision, which declared that corporations are people and as such have the “First-Amendment” right to spend lavishly on political candidates who will do their bidding.

Independent/democratic socialist U.S. Sen. Bernie Sanders of Vermont is the sole individual on the planet who thus far has raised the prospect of running as an actually progressive presidential candidate against pseudo-progressive/Democrat in name only Billary Clinton. (It’s not about Billary, he has claimed, but oh, methinks, ’tis.)

“A, I don’t know if Hillary Clinton is running, and B, I don’t know what she is running on,” Sanders said on “Meet the Press” yesterday. “But this is what I do know: I know the middle class in this country is collapsing. I know the gap between the very, very rich and everybody else is growing wider. I know there is profound anger at the greed on Wall Street, anger at corporate America, anger at the political establishment — and anger, by the way, at the media establishment. The American people want real change, and I’ve been taking on the big-money interests and special interests all of my political life.

“The issue,” Sanders added, “is not Hillary Clinton.” But since Sanders’ actually progressive agenda is antithetical to Billary’s actual agenda – whether she’ll cop to possessing her actual center-right, pro-plutocratic, pro-corporate, pro-Wall-Street-weasel, pro-military-industrial-complex agenda or not – it is about Billary.

I’m fine with having our first female president, but I don’t want just any female president, just so that we can say that we finally have had our first female president. We’ve been there, done that with our first black president, haven’t we?

I want a progressive president. The other demographics – skin tone, the possession of ovaries or testes, age, religion, etc. – I don’t much give a flying fuck about. I’m a gay man, and sure, from a purely selfish, tribalistic standpoint I suppose that it would be great to have our first openly gay male president (and if he is married, perhaps our first First Husband in the White House, too), but if he were a wingnut or even a so-called “centrist” or “moderate” (translation: sellout), no thanks; give me the actually progressive heterosexual president instead, hands down.

I’d be fine with Democratic U.S. Sen. Elizabeth Warren of Masschusetts as our first female president, but although she put a book out not long ago, she seems unlikely, to me, to run against Billary in 2016.

That’s because the unspoken but very understood rule within the Democratic Party establishment is that you don’t run against Billary, even though she has zero charisma, zero accomplishments, and her unlikeability (under which falls her apparent inability to generate an iota of actual human warmth) means that she’d be a risky candidate to put up against the Repugnican Tea Party not only in 2016, but in any presidential election year. (Besides, as I have noted, Billary acts like a Repugnican Lite, and why would the voters choose Repugnican Lite when they can vote for an actual, full-bodied Repugnican?)

After seeing Barack Obama’s ubiquitous promises of “hope” and “change” crash and burn, my bet is that the voters are hungry, starving, for an actually progressive Democratic — that is, real Democratic — presidential candidate right about now.

For millions of actual progressives like me, if we’re going to just coronate Queen Billary already, there is no reason whatsoever for me to pay attention or to become involved in the 2016 presidential race in any way (except, of course, to blog about how awful Billary is). That “At least Billary isn’t a Repugnican!” isn’t an effective talking point for the Democrats anymore, because she essentially is a Repugnican. She ran to the right of Obama in 2008 and she’s running to the right of him again — and he’s already right of center.

And I truly want a truly progressive candidate to win the 2016 Democratic presidential nomination. No, I don’t just want Billary to be forced by a progressive/actually Democratic challenger, during the upcoming presidential primary season, to pretend to be the populist that she never has been and never will be, only to go on to the White House to govern like her husband did or like Obama has: as a Democrat in name only, driving yet another nail in the coffin of the Democratic Party. I want Billary “Crown Me Already!” Clinton to be denied the Democratic Party presidential nomination in 2016 just as she was in 2008. I want her pathetic, sorry, right-wing, self-serving, pro-plutocratic ass to be defeated once again. (Again, though, should she emerge as the 2016 Democratic presidential candidate, I can see the Repugnican candidate beating her.)

Bernie Sanders stated yesterday that he’s still considering which course of action would be better for him, should he decide to run for president for 2016 (and it sounds to me like he already has decided that he will): to run on the Democratic Party ticket (although he isn’t a Democrat, as an independent/democratic socialist he always has caucused with the Democrats in D.C. [what other choice has he really had?]) or to run on an independent ticket, a la Ralph Nader.

Given the uphill battle of running as an independent presidential candidate in all 50 states, it seems to me that Sanders would run as a Democrat.

Either way, if it comes down to Bernie or Billary, I’m going with Bernie.

No way in hell am I going to hold my nose and suppress my gag reflex while I cast a vote for Billary Clinton. I want to feel good (not guilty and dirty) about my vote, and I would feel great voting for Bernie Sanders — hell, if for no other reason than that for a long time now, it has looked as though no one else left of center would have the cajones to challenge Queen Billary in 2016, with the conventional thinking being that because she came in at second place in 2008, 2016 automatically is rightfully all hers.

A run for the White House by Sanders — especially as a Democrat, but again, I would support him as an independent — would represent to me a glimmer of hope, the possibility that the teeny-tiny ember that is all that is left of what the Democratic Party used to be still, even at this late hour, even after what Bill Clinton (with Billary) and what Barack Obama have done to the party, can be stoked to its once-flaming glory.

P.S. A Bernie Sanders-Elizabeth Warren or Warren-Sanders ticket would, I think, be my dream ticket for 2016. And I’d still entertain a return to the presidential arena by Howard Dean, although that seems unlikely.

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Affirmative action: Two wrongs don’t make a right (and yes, Paul Ryan is racist)

Updated below (on Monday, March 17, 2014)

The Sneetches are out in force with the warming weather.

Ah, springtime approaches, which means that it’s time for all of us to emerge from hibernation — and engage in more race wars!

The topic of affirmative action is rearing its ugly head again here in California, and Pretty Boy Paul Ryan is in some trouble (rightfully so) for a blatantly racist remark that he recently made.

In 1996, California’s voters approved Proposition 209, which made affirmative action by the state government, including at the state’s universities, illegal, by writing this prohibition into the state’s Constitution. Of course legal challenges followed, but the courts have upheld the constitutionality of Prop 209, whose language remains in the California Constitution today (if often ignored by those who still practice affirmative action, illegally, in California anyway).

Affirmative action is, I think, for the most part well-intended: to right the wrongs of the past, especially where adverse racial discrimination is concerned.

But, like Communism, affirmative action has looked much better on paper than it has in practicality. Did it ever achieve the equality that it promised it would? Um, yeah, no.

Practicing affirmative action now doesn’t help those who were harmed by racial discrimination in the past. It only creates even more racial discrimination in the present. Only it’s “nice,” “good” or “beneficial” racial discrimination, you see.

Bullshit, in my book. In my book, racial discrimination, whether intended to harm or to benefit someone, is wrong.

And of course the plutocratic powers that be love it when we commoners are fighting each other based upon our race, just like Dr. Seuss’ star-bellied (and plain-bellied) Sneetches. Because when we commoners are fighting each other (perhaps especially over something as superficial as our race), we’re divided, we’re not united in fighting the plutocratic powers that be.

The problem in California is that there are more who want to go to a state college or to a university than there are resources for those individuals. When scarcity arises, people want to start making cuts, but cuts based upon race is not the way to go.

If we truly want to be a post-racial society, then race has to stop mattering. (It will stop mattering — at some vague point in the distant future, the proponents of affirmative action argue. Um, yeah, no. The only time is right now.)

Asian students, for instance, are significantly over-represented in California’s state universities based on the Asian population in the state as a whole. And many if not most Californian Asians oppose the re-legalization of affirmative action in California because a return to a race-based quota system — and that’s what affirmative action creates, no matter what its short-sighted proponents may claim otherwise — would cut their admission numbers drastically. And, of course, many if not most (mostly non-Asian, of course) Californians view these Asian Californians as assholes for appearing to wish to perpetuate their “unfair” advantage.

What, exactly, is their “unfair” advantage? That they are Asian or that they are academically gifted — or that they are academically gifted while Asian? If they are academically gifted, why must they be penalized for that fact if they happen to be Asian?

I don’t see that it’s any more fair to shut out Asians than it is to shut out any other racial group. Racial discrimination is racial discrimination.

True fairness and justice have to come on a one-on-one, case-by-case basis, not based upon one’s racial group.

And like Communism was (let me emphasize that I’m talking about big-“C” communism and not about democratic socialism, which I support), affirmative action has been another failed attempt at social engineering. Human beings aren’t lab rats; they, we, are human beings, not some fucking lab experiment.

All Californians who have demonstrated the aptitude for college-level work should have the opportunity to go to college or to a university, regardless of their race. If the problem is that there aren’t enough resources for all of those individuals who wish to do so — and that is the problem here in California — then the solution is to expand that opportunity for everyone of all races by demanding that it be expanded, demanding that our tax dollars stop going towards things like the bloated-beyond-belief military-corporate complex and start going toward actual human needs, not to obscene human greed.

(And, of course, if part of the problem is that our public elementary and high schools are failing too many of our students, and I understand that they are, then we need to tackle that problem, too. [No, for-profit/charter schools are not the answer. Whenever profiteering is the No. 1 goal of any enterprise, that enterprise always will suffer, since profiteering is its main reason for existing at all.] And let’s not blame it all on our public schools; we lazy, selfish Americans are failing our young people as a whole, and it’s not fair for us to blame that on our public schools and their underpaid employees to the degree that we do!)

The solution to the scarcity of spots in California’s state universities is not the Procrustean bed of insisting that the racial composition of state university enrollment strictly matches the racial composition of the state at large.

This “solution” superficially seems fair, but it’s deeply unfair to many, many individuals, unfair to too many individuals for us to be able to deem it “fair” overall.

Two-thirds of the California Senate not long ago voted to put the repeal of Prop 209 on the statewide ballot. The state Assembly also would have to vote by a two-thirds margin to put the repeal of Prop 209 on the ballot for the state’s voters to decide whether to reinstate legalized affirmative action, but the state Assembly has yet to take the matter up. (Hopefully, it never will.)

Should the repeal of Prop 209 it make it to the ballot, I will vote against it and otherwise fight it. Affirmative action is a poorly thought-out practice that takes us further from, not closer to, a truly post-racial society (an ideal that, quite admittedly, we human beings might never meet before we annihilate ourselves).

And then there is former vice presidential candidate Paul Ryan, Repugnican Tea Party U.S. representative from Wisconsin, who recently remarked that here in the United States we have a “tailspin of culture, in our inner cities in particular, of men not working and just generations of men not even thinking about working or learning the value of work.”

Reuters reports that

[U.S. Rep.] Barbara Lee of California, a member of the Congressional Black Caucus, called Ryan’s remarks a “thinly veiled racial attack.”

“Let’s be clear, when Mr. Ryan says ‘inner city,’ when he says, ‘culture,’ these are simply code words for what he really means: ‘black’,” Lee said in a statement.

I agree with Lee — not just because Ryan is a Repugnican Tea Partier and I abhor the Repugnican Tea Party and its adherents, but because Ryan’s remark was meant to convey two false ideas:

(1) That certain individuals, based upon their race, inherently, even genetically, are lazy, do not want to work (while others, of course [like Ryan, of course], inherently, even genetically, are industrious); and

(2) That if someone does not want to slave in a minimum-wage job on which he or she cannot even live — and this is the only kind of job that the vast majority of the Repugnican Tea Party traitors want the vast majority of us Americans to be able to have (the Repugnicans and their allies always have opposed even modest increases in the minimum wage, and they vehemently oppose a living wage) — then this means that he or she is “lazy.”

No, this means that he or she simply wishes to be paid the fair value of his or her work, and not be a fucking wage slave in perpetuity.

That’s what this means.

This is how the plutocrats long have defended their theft of our wealth: by calling us, the victims of their theft, “lazy.” Should we commoners point out the simple fact that the plutocrats have been robbing us blind forfuckingever now, the plutocratic traitors among us then accuse us commoners of waging a “class war,” when, in fact, they have been waging a class war forfuckingever in order to maintain their unfair lofty, gilded status. In fact, there is no other way for them to maintain their 1-percent status other than by waging their class war against the rest of us. And they wage this class war against us in a thousand fucking ways every fucking day.

So Paul Ryan told a dual lie: he insinuated that the members of certain races (and while Barbara Lee apparently was looking out for her own racial group, I don’t believe that Ryan was referring only to black Americans) inherently are lazy (a blatantly racist belief, a textbook, dictionary-definition example of a racist belief), when, in fact, because of institutionalized racism and white supremacy since the nation’s inception, some if not many members of the historically-socioeconomically-oppressed-by-the-white-majority groups have to a large degree just given up on chasing the so-called “American dream,” which, should they pursue it, they institutionally are set up by our plutocratic overlords to fail to catch. (And, to be fair, this trap catches most white Americans, too. Too much discussion of race presumes that most white Americans are wealthy when that is not the case, and the national discussion of class has long suffered at least in part because it has been so overshadowed by the national discussion of race.)

Yes, besides his racist lie about one’s level of industriousness being inherent (that is, race-based), Ryan retold the long-running lie that the United States of America is a meritocracy (and not a plutocracy), a system where your hard work actually will get you somewhere.

We commoners are acutely aware of the value of our hard work — our hard work indeed is so valuable that the plutocrats like Ryan and his ilk institutionally/systematically steal the value of our work from us, leaving us only crumbs. (This blatant thievery is called “capitalism,” which is deemed to be “good” — so “good,” and so inherently and intrinsically and self-evidently “good,” in fact, that we commoners may not even discuss the goodness or the lack of goodness of capitalism.) The plutocrats’ historical, blatant theft of the value of our commoners’ hard work demonstrates that they value hard work, too — our hard work, of course.

And, of course, when the far-right likes of Paul Ryan talk about “the value of work,” I cannot help but remember the signs that the Nazis erected above the entrances to their concentration camps: “Arbeit macht frei” — German for “Work makes you free.”

In Nazi Germany, it was the members of the Nazi Party telling their concentration-camp victims that work would set them free.

Today in the U.S., it’s the members of the Repugnican Tea Party assuring their victims that work will set us free.

Of course, it’s never the Nazis or the Repugnican Tea Partiers who are doing the hard work, is it?

And under their thumbs, no matter how hard we should work, we’ll never be free.

Update (Monday, March 17, 2014): California Assembly Speaker John Perez has announced that he will not allow the repeal of Prop 209 to come up for a vote in the state Assembly now, so that the repeal of Prop 209 will not appear on the November statewide ballot.

Three state senators who previously had been among the two-thirds of the state Senate to vote for putting the repeal of Prop 209 on the ballot reversed their positions and asked Perez not to proceed with issue in the Assembly, where Perez apparently wouldn’t have been able to muster the necessary two-thirds vote anyway.

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A Solomonic solution for Ukraine

Take the entirely unscientific poll below!

I am not an expert on geopolitics, or even on world history, but, as loath as I am to adopt the right wing’s concept of “common-sense solutions” (which, interestingly, almost always turn out to be right-wing “solutions”…), it seems to me that you don’t have to have a PhfuckingD to call some shots.

The best solution where Ukraine is concerned is, methinks, a Solomonic solution* — cut that puppy in two.

Crimea, the southernmost, peninsular area of Ukraine (see map below), according to Reuters is “the only part of Ukraine with a Russian ethnic majority, which has often voiced separatist aims.”

Reuters further reports today that

Russian President Vladimir Putin secured his parliament’s authority [today] to invade Ukraine after troops seized control of the Crimea peninsula and pro-Moscow demonstrators hoisted flags above government buildings in two eastern cities.

Putin’s open assertion of the right to deploy troops in a country of 46 million people on the ramparts of central Europe creates the biggest direct confrontation between Russia and the West since the Cold War. …

Yikes.

It seems most fair to me that Crimea go to Russia, since most Crimeans apparently want this. This past week I listened to a Crimean woman interviewed on NPR state emphatically that she and her fellow Crimeans do not want to be part of the European Union (or the West in general), but want to preserve their culture and their language, and thus want to remain with Russia. If she truly represents the majority of Crimeans, then it should be majority rule. That’s called “democracy.”

So Crimea seems easy to me: it’s pretty fucking Russian already, and forcing the Crimeans to remain with an increasingly Westernized Ukraine against their will would be just as evil and wrong as it would be for Putin to try to force Ukrainians who want a Western, and not a Russian, alliance to remain with Russia.

My understanding is that that river that runs right down Ukraine at least metaphorically roughly splits it into very different nations, a pro-Western half and a pro-Russian half. Indeed, a map of the 2012 parliamentary election results in Ukraine looked like this:

File:Ukr elections 2012 multimandate okruhs.png

My understanding is that the pink areas represent pro-Western sentiment, while the blue and orange areas represent pro-Russian sentiment.

Indeed, the major dueling parties in the 2012 Ukrainian election were the pro-Russian Party of Regions and the “Fatherland” Party, which now is headed by the recently-released-from-prison Yulia Tymoshenko (often pictured in her Princess-Leia-like hairdo). I’m pretty fucking leery of Tymoshenko, who, according to Wikipedia, “Prior to her political career … was a successful but controversial businesswoman in the gas industry, becoming by some estimates one of the richest people in the country.”

Hmmm. George W. Bush and Dick Cheney had been heavily involved in the oil industry before they stole the 2000 U.S. presidential election, and usually when a filthy rich person (or at least a pro-filthy-rich-people person) rises to power, it smacks of fascism — a right-wing collusion between a government and corporations (usually with nationalistic overtones) — if it isn’t downright fascism, so I’m not hopping on the Tymoshenko bandwagon today.

I mean, “Fatherland” — I can’t help but think of the Nazis when that word is evoked. Indeed, Wikipedia notes of “Fatherland” that “the English word is now associated with the [fascistic] Nazi government of Germany [and usually] not used often in post-World War II English unless one wishes to invoke the Nazis… Prior to Nazism, however, the term was used throughout Germanic language countries without negative connotations…”

I have found the fascistic, unelected Bush-Cheney regime’s term “homeland,” as in “homeland security” and “the Department of Homeland Security” to be chilling enough, to be too close for comfort to Hitler’s “Fatherland,” and now here are Tymoshenko and her supporters touting their “Fatherland.”

Still, even though what admittedly little I know of Tymoshenko gives me great pause, if the northwestern region of Ukraine wishes to be free of Russia and (try to) join the European Union, as appears to be the case, I’m pretty OK with that, as you can’t advocate democracy only when the majority of the individuals in the situation at hand agree with you. (I see the wingnuts here in the United States do that all the fucking time, and I wish that phenomenon on no one else.)

It seems to me that the best solution for Ukraine, the solution with the least amount of bloodshed (including perhaps preventing a third world war…) and the solution that offers the best possible outcome for all parties involved, is for Ukraine to split into two nations.

Again, it is at least as outrageous for the United States and its European allies to try to force the pro-Russia portion of Ukraine to remain with a Western-bent Ukraine if the clear majority of those pro-Russian individuals do not wish to do so as it is outrageous for Russia to try to force the pro-Western portion of Ukraine to remain with a Russian-bent Ukraine if the clear majority of those pro-Western individuals do not wish to do so.

Yes, my proposed solution smacks of East Berlin and West Berlin (although, of course, I propose no wall…) — or, at least, of a messy divorce, replete with the concurrent division of property and the custody battle — and while I’m probably oversimplifying the matter of Ukraine, again, from what I know of it, the best solution seems to be to create two nations from it, and to allow one to remain, if it wishes, with Mother** Russia, and to allow the other, if it wishes and if the European Union wishes, to join the European Union.

*Admittedly, this is an imperfect metaphor, since in the story of King Solomon and the baby, of course only one of the women could have been the infant’s biological mother.

I use the metaphor because Solomon has become a symbol of wisdom, including wise arbitration, and because, per Wikipedia, “The expressions ‘splitting the baby’ or ‘cutting the baby in half’ are sometimes used in the legal profession for a form of simple compromise: solutions which ‘split the difference’ in terms of damage awards or other remedies…”

**Admittedly, I’m much more OK with the term “Motherland” than I am with “Fatherland,” and while the term “homeland” is fairly neutral, because fascists coined the term as it is used in the United States today, I can only think of it as the equivalent of “Fatherland.”

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An Astroturf uprising in Venezuela

Venezuelan opposition leader Leopoldo Lopez speaks to supporters before handing himself over in Caracas

Reuters photo

The U.S.-educated, right-wing, pro-plutocratic Venezuelan Leopoldo Lopez is no revolutionary — he is a traitor who actively participated in the anti-democratic, treasonous right wing’s failed treasonous attempt to unseat duly democratically elected Venezuela President Hugo Chavez in 2002. Lopez’s pro-plutocratic supporters likewise hardly are revolutionaries, unless we now are defining the overprivileged, anti-democratic 1 percent as “revolutionaries.”

I’m no expert on Venezuela, but not being an expert on a topic often has not stopped me from talking or writing about it before, and my intuition about a person and/or situation is usually spot-on.

So in the news coverage of the street fracases that are being reported in Venezuela right now, my main question has been: Is this really a populist uprising of the typical Venezuelan against socialist President Nicolas Maduro, or is this yet another show put on by right-wingers with a political agenda?

Then I spotted these tidbits of information in a Reuters news story from today:

… Tensions [in Venezuela] have escalated since opposition leader Leopoldo Lopez, a 42-year-old Harvard-educated economist, turned himself in to [government] troops this week. He is being held in Caracas’ Ramo Verde military jail on charges of fomenting the violence.

“Change depends on every one of us. Don’t give up!” Lopez’s wife, Lilian Tintori, said on Twitter.

Local TV channels are providing almost no live coverage of the unrest, so Venezuelans are turning to social media to swap information and images, though falsified photos are circulating.

Both sides rolled out competing evidence of the latest violence [today], with ruling Socialist Party governors showing photos and video of charred streets and torched vehicles, while the opposition posted footage of brutal behavior which they said was by national guard troops.

Maduro, elected last year to succeed [the late] socialist leader Hugo Chavez, says Lopez and “small fascist groups” are in league with the U.S. government and want a coup. …

Street protests were the backdrop to a short-lived coup against Chavez in 2002 before military loyalists and supporters helped bring him back. There is no evidence the military, which was the decisive factor in 2002, may turn on Maduro now. …

Detractors call Lopez a dangerous hothead. He has frequently squabbled with fellow opposition leaders and was involved in the 2002 coup, even helping arrest a minister. [Emphasis mine.]

Though the majority of demonstrators have been peaceful, an increasingly prominent radical fringe has been attacking police, blocking roads and vandalizing buildings. …

Sounds like textbook right-wing thuggery to me: start a fight, provoke a response, and then blame the leftists whom you oppose for their “oppression” of you.

Leopoldo Lopez is lucky to still be alive. Had he been a leftist who had participated in a failed coup of a right-wing leader in Latin America, the right-wingers most likely would have executed him for his treason, or at least imprisoned him for life. But despite the late Hugo Chavez’s having relentlessly been called a murderous dictator by his detractors, even after his political opponents quite treasonously tried to overthrow the duly democratically elected Chavez in 2002, he had not one of the traitors executed.

So here is anti-democratic, right-wing traitor Leopoldo Lopez, back again, trying to subvert the will of the majority of the voters of Venezuela. He and his right-wing cohorts can’t win presidential elections in Venezuela, and so they’ll try to treasonously and anti-democrtically seize power again, just like they did in 2002.

Lopez doesn’t deserve to be allowed to continue to draw breath, since he’s a fucking traitor, but here he is, trying to commit even more treason.

The world — including, of course, the Obama White House — needs to recognize this tattered and faded old page from the right-wing playbook for what it is; when the wingnuts stir up shit abroad in order to try to get sympathy from abroad by playing the “innocent” “victims,” we need to open our eyes, not be taken in by superficial appearances or rumors, and examine the facts, and see them, clearly, for what they are.

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Warren-vs.-Walker deathmatch in 2016?

The release of this book yesterday can only fuel speculation that Repugnican Tea Party Wisconsin Gov. Scott Walker has presidential aspirations. While I loathe the man (who is a man only in the strict, dictionary-definition sense of the word), a presidential match-up between progressive Democratic U.S. Sen. Elizabeth Warren of Massachusetts and the pro-plutocratic Walker would, I surmise, be awesome.

Many if not most say that it’s way too early to start speculating about the November 2016 presidential election.

I mostly disagree with that.

Especially if you haven’t been anointed by the D.C. establishment, as, say, Republicrat Billary Clinton has been, you probably need all of the campaigning time that you can get between now and November 2016.

And if Barack Obama had delivered substantively on the “hope” and “change” that he relentlessly and ubiquitously had promised during his campaign for 2008, and if we hadn’t all given up on him already because as president he’s been so fucking lazy and worthless (at best), we (especially us progressives) probably wouldn’t already be looking past Obama and forward to 2016.

All of that said, the latest 2016 presidential speculation is that Repugnican Tea Party Wisconsin Gov. Scott Walker might run for his party’s presidential nomination.

The release of Walker’s (probably ghost-written) book — Unintimidated: A Governor’s Story and a Nation’s Challenge (reminiscent to me of the smug, pseudo-triumphant title of Mittens Romney’s No Apologies) — yesterday should only fuel speculation that he’ll be a 2016 contender.

(Walker reportedly says that “his new book … is not a campaign book [right…] but that he’s not ruling out a run for president in 2016 or promising that if re-elected [as Wisconsin governor] next year he’ll serve out his term.”

Walker also reportedly stated recently that the 2016 Repugnican Tea Party presidential nominee must “be an outsider,” adding, “I think both the presidential and the vice presidential nominee should either be a former or current governor — people who have done successful things in their states, who have taken on big reforms, who are ready to move America forward.”

Walker just coinky-dinkily, in his mind, anyway, matches that description.

So there you go.)

Could Walker win the White House?

My guess is that no, he could not, but the fact that Walker was elected governor in 2010 and survived a gubernatorial recall election in June 2012 in a state whose denizens cast the most number of votes for the Democratic presidential candidate in every election since at least 1988 suggests, at least on the face of it, that the smug, heartless, union-busting, Koch-brother-loving/pro-plutocratic Walker might be a stronger 2016 contender than many if not most realize.

I can’t really see Walker doing well in the national forum, as I don’t detect a milligram of charisma in him, but he is a masterful liar, doing the bidding of the billionaires who fund him while pretending that he does everything in the best interests of the commoner.

That is, of course, how the “tea party” operates: excuse the “hard-working” billionaires who have been dismantling the middle class for some decades now — and blame and punish instead the working class and what’s left of the middle class for all of our socioeconomic ills.

Pathetically, that shit actually sells, especially among right-wing and right-leaning stupid (by definition) white men, the Joe the Plumber types, and other similar types (most of them, though, poor, white trash) who think that it’s a great idea for the chickens to support Colonel Sanders, and who apparently are too fucking stupid to realize the simple, basic, obvious fact that they, too, are chickens.

A Elizabeth-Warren-vs.-Scott-Walker 2016 presidential contest would be, to say the least, interesting.

It would be a battle by proxy between us progressives and the “tea-party” dipshits, a battle between us progressives, who fully realize that it’s the Wall Street weasels and other assorted plutocrats and their supporters (like Scott Walker) who have been destroying the nation (many of us found a voice in the Occupy movement), and the teatards, who are too fucking stupid to realize that we of the working class and the middle class are not actually the enemy, but are the victims of our plutocratic overlords.

Such a battle would have my full engagement.

If the uniquely uninspiring and uncharismatic and waaay-overrated Billary Clinton actually got the 2016 Democratic presidential nomination, however, you pretty much could count me out.

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