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I wrote this aesthetically ugly little diary Sunday morning from New Orleans and first published it Sunday night for Anti-Capitalist Meetup. Now that I have returned to Nowheresville, Deep South, out of the flood plain, I thought I would give it another whirl on the day, and add a word about the people of a sad place that is special to me. This republishing is dedicated to the people of the Ninth Ward, past and yes present. Whether they live in the Ninth Ward still or are scattered to some other southern ghetto, materialism has dictated that they will live very hard lives. After hurricanes, from the Redneck Riviera to Fire Island, the wealthy rebuild, courtesy of federal and state socialized programs. I am all for getting at the root causes of why people live in places like the Ninth Ward to begin with, but the truth is, if "we" as Amurikka are going to redline places in our country and our world vulnerable to hurricanes/Climate Change and not worthy of protecting and rebuilding, political power will dictate that this means where "they" live and not where those with the power live. And where is that Jobs Program that the poor people of New Orleans and all of Amurikka so obviously need? Is our plan to avoid "love thy neighbor" by getting rid of the neighbors who don't have jobs and nice places to live, out of sight and out of mind? Sorry for the buzz kill, but for me Lent is beginning a day early. I am sorry brothers and sisters, we have let you down and chosen the easy path of spreading the lies of the powerful who look down at you and blame you for being the necessary byproducts of their own system of organized fear and greed.

Krewe of Iris beads
"I can see that we're going to have a great deal of trouble capturing the conservative rural redneck Calvinist vote." Reilly, I.J., facetiously summarizing the failure of his address to the inattentive dancing assembled prospective members of the newly formed Peace Party.
Toole, J.K., 1980. A Confederacy of Dunces. Louisiana State University Press.

Dear Communiss Readers:

I had high hopes for this diary. Although I love this beautiful mess of a city, some things about New Orleans make me want to unsheath my scimitar, and I wanted to tell you about them in a scholarly manner.

Like the fact that the brilliant Republicans who allowed much of it to be destroyed in a predictable natural disaster and then watched as 1,464 people died used this very destruction to lay off thousands of public school teachers and destroy the cash-strapped public school system in order to complete the ushering in of a charter school takeover, which siphons needed money away from children and teachers into the pockets of privateers, destroying neighborhood schools that were often the only glue holding communities together, replacing imperfect but still somewhat democratic school board representation with thoroughly undemocratic boards of directors, many of whom send their children to private schools, and serving as an example of the marvels of the marketplace for similarly gutting other cash-strapped public school systems. (http://america.aljazeera.com/...
http://www.nola.com/... http://www.nola.com/...
http://www.washingtonpost.com/... http://en.wikipedia.org/...) Apparently there is gold, or at least copper, in them thar hills, and below-sea-level wards. (http://www.nola.com/...)

Like the fact that NOLA is forced by the ALEC bullies of Baton Rouge to avoid the ugly truth of the hallowed marketplace: that many if not most young African Americans in this city who live in poverty and extreme poverty will never have decent paying private enterprise jobs that will lift them and their siblings or the next generation out of poverty and extreme poverty, but they will be implicitly invited by the wonders of capitalism to resort to self-medication and coping strategies and to fight with each other not only in bread and drug wars but also over Mardis Gras throws when they are not being incarcerated or expelled from those same charter schools. (http://socialistworker.org/... http://www.sourcewatch.org/... http://www.nola.com/... http://archive.theadvertiser.com/...)

Like the fact that the parades were founded in racism and still can reveal racism, like the "nice" "white" woman I talked to while we were watching the Krewe of Iris, founded in 1917, which I understand was a rather important year for anti-capitalists, who was herself on the Krewe of Muses and who smiled and politely explained to me when I asked her if the shooting deaths of two young African American men had placed a damper on the occasion, "Nah, it was just like any other day in Nyoo Ahhlyins." (http://www.amazon.com/...
http://www.nola.com/...
http://www.nola.com/...)

Like the fact that almost nothing from the hotel, restaurant, and booze taxes goes to actually help New Orleanians living in poverty and extreme poverty but instead goes to pay for advertising, improvements to serve tourists, and maintenance of edifices that primarily benefit corporations, the wealthy, and the tourists. (http://theadvocate.com/... http://philanthropynewsdigest.org/... http://www.louisianaweekly.com/... http://m.bestofneworleans.com/... http://www.nola.com/...)

Like the fact that in Jefferson Parish, where during Katrina the mayor of Gretna blockaded the bridge, halting New Orleans evacuation (http://articles.latimes.com/...), one small but apparently thriving business boasts of producing the highest quality metal barricades in the world to go to places like New Orleans and New York City to restrain the public and ensure that they do not become true rebel cities. (http://www.newyorker.com/...) I am, however, reminded of a piece annieli did for this group a year ago about, among other things, how barricades have from time to time been used for revolutionary purposes. (http://www.dailykos.com/...)

But I won't be able to get into those details in a scholarly manner, as I type in the early morning darkness and courteously try to avoid waking other nearby parade-goers. We all need our sleep, although I find that a teetotaling socialist reporter needs less. Fear me lurking boregeoise.

Until later, Gary, Your Militant Working Boy

P.S. I learned recently that a hundred years ago when unemployed workers came to New Orleans during Mardis Gras they did not feel particularly welcome.  
(https://books.google.com/...) Now we, their comrade descendants, whether we live in NOLA or elsewhere around the world in neoliberalism/austerity's grasp, must do our parts as species-beings and true rebels (http://www.versobooks.com/...) and rise up in this neo-Confederacy of dunces, however silly the Rebels, those so often of masks, and hoods, mercenaries of the 1%, with no causes other than barely-disguised fear and greed, would like it (the rising up, not them, their neo-Confederacy, or their fear and greed) to look. First as tragedy, then as farce, then not so funny.

Discuss
Krewe of Iris beads
"I can see that we're going to have a great deal of trouble capturing the conservative rural redneck Calvinist vote." Reilly, I.J., facetiously summarizing the failure of his address to the inattentive dancing assembled prospective members of the newly formed Peace Party.
Toole, J.K., 1980. A Confederacy of Dunces. Louisiana State University Press.

Dear Communiss Readers:

I had high hopes for this diary. Although I love this beautiful mess of a city, some things about New Orleans make me want to unsheath my scimitar, and I wanted to tell you about them in a scholarly manner.

Like the fact that the brilliant Republicans who allowed much of it to be destroyed in a predictable natural disaster and then watched as 1,464 people died used this very destruction to lay off thousands of public school teachers and destroy the cash-strapped public school system in order to complete the ushering in of a charter school takeover, which siphons needed money away from children and teachers into the pockets of privateers, destroying neighborhood schools that were often the only glue holding communities together, replacing imperfect but still somewhat democratic school board representation with thoroughly undemocratic boards of directors, many of whom send their children to private schools, and serving as an example of the marvels of the marketplace for similarly gutting other cash-strapped public school systems. (http://america.aljazeera.com/...
http://www.nola.com/... http://www.nola.com/...
http://www.washingtonpost.com/... http://en.wikipedia.org/...) Apparently there is gold, or at least copper, in them thar hills, and below-sea-level wards. (http://www.nola.com/...)

Like the fact that NOLA is forced by the ALEC bullies of Baton Rouge to avoid the ugly truth of the hallowed marketplace: that many if not most young African Americans in this city who live in poverty and extreme poverty will never have decent paying private enterprise jobs that will lift them and their siblings or the next generation out of poverty and extreme poverty, but they will be implicitly invited by the wonders of capitalism to resort to self-medication and coping strategies and to fight with each other not only in bread and drug wars but also over Mardis Gras throws when they are not being incarcerated or expelled from those same charter schools. (http://socialistworker.org/... http://www.sourcewatch.org/... http://www.nola.com/... http://archive.theadvertiser.com/...)

Like the fact that the parades were founded in racism and still can reveal racism, like the "nice" "white" woman I talked to while we were watching the Krewe of Iris, founded in 1917, which I understand was a rather important year for anti-capitalists, who was herself on the Krewe of Muses and who smiled and politely explained to me when I asked her if the shooting deaths of two young African American men had placed a damper on the occasion, "Nah, it was just like any other day in Nyoo Ahhlyins." (http://www.amazon.com/...
http://www.nola.com/...
http://www.nola.com/...)

Like the fact that almost nothing from the hotel, restaurant, and booze taxes goes to actually help New Orleanians living in poverty and extreme poverty but instead goes to pay for advertising, improvements to serve tourists, and maintenance of edifices that primarily benefit corporations, the wealthy, and the tourists. (http://theadvocate.com/... http://philanthropynewsdigest.org/... http://www.louisianaweekly.com/... http://m.bestofneworleans.com/... http://www.nola.com/...)

Like the fact that in Jefferson Parish, where during Katrina the mayor of Gretna blockaded the bridge, halting New Orleans evacuation (http://articles.latimes.com/...), one small but apparently thriving business boasts of producing the highest quality metal barricades in the world to go to places like New Orleans and New York City to restrain the public and ensure that they do not become true rebel cities. (http://www.newyorker.com/...) I am, however, reminded of a piece annieli did for this group a year ago about, among other things, how barricades have from time to time been used for revolutionary purposes. (http://www.dailykos.com/...)

But I won't be able to get into those details in a scholarly manner, as I type in the early morning darkness and courteously try to avoid waking other nearby parade-goers. We all need our sleep, although I find that a teetotaling socialist reporter needs less. Fear me lurking boregeoise.

Until later, Gary, Your Militant Working Boy

P.S. I learned recently that a hundred years ago when unemployed workers came to New Orleans during Mardis Gras they did not feel particularly welcome.  
(https://books.google.com/...) Now we, their comrade descendants, whether we live in NOLA or elsewhere around the world in neoliberalism/austerity's grasp, must do our parts as species-beings and true rebels (http://www.versobooks.com/...) and rise up in this neo-Confederacy of dunces, however silly the Rebels, those so often of masks, and hoods, mercenaries of the 1%, with no causes other than barely-disguised fear and greed, would like it (the rising up, not them, their neo-Confederacy, or their fear and greed) to look. First as tragedy, then as farce, then not so funny.

Discuss

January 31, 2015 is the 100th anniversary of Thomas Merton's birth, a fact my Episcopal priest informed me of this past Sunday. He knows that no one, other than Jesus, I have never met has had a more profoundly positive influence upon me.

It hurts to read about him in a "bad" light, but is learning the truth "bad"?

Let's start our "rock star" list with Merton, still promoted as one of the most famous Catholic monks in history due to his having written more than 70 books and advocating what he calls the "contemplative life." Despite a sordid pre-monastic past filled with sinful deeds including fathering an illegitimate child and adultery, and illicit behavior during his monastic years that included womanizing and finally a forbidden love affair with a nurse half his age, the Catholic Church and the Merton Legacy Trust continue to insist he is something akin to a plastic saint. His autobiography, promoted as true, isn't, yet the enablers don't care. Insist that the book be recalled? You have to be kidding.
And, now that he is mentioning it, why do we give anyone, including rock stars, rock star status, including everyone from that friendly local parish priest to that presidential candidate, etc. Please, no more rock stars.

In true honor of Merton's contribution to humanity it is time to recognize the humanity of him and others like him, which is to say, all of us. I certainly suspect that he, and we, would have been better off if he had been able to openly profess his love of and sexual attraction to "M." That assumes, of course, that she shared the enthusiasms and that no power relations led to the naked champagne party in Dr. Wygal's office, assumptions which I am not entirely comfortable making.

I have been to the Abbey of Gethsemani twice. It was Merton's home. It is my favorite place on earth. When I wrote my bungling poetic ode to the constricted humanitarian potential of Pope Francis as evidenced in Evangelii Gaudium, I placed it at the Abbey. But it must not be idolized. Nor should the generally silent people who live there, whom, to the extent I know them, I love, but not in that way.

When I was, this evening, preparing to write a little personal birthday tribute to "Fr. Louis," I happened upon the disturbing news from last May, of which I had somehow been unaware, that there had been a sex scandal at my favorite place on earth. Although the accuser was a crooked accountant, I must assume there was a lot of sad truth in the accusations, motivations aside. Could the scandal had been avoided had Merton and his spiritual descendants not been expected to deny their sexuality?

I grew up in, and with great relief at the age of 27 walked away from, Christian fundamentalism. That walking away was a far better profession of faith than the fear of hell that drove me to "come forward" and make my "public profession of faith" at the age of 6. Merton's meditative walk allowed me to find Jesus in the stars and wind again. I will never stop mystically thanking him for planting these seeds of contemplation.

And then, when I found my inner democratic socialist demanding to get out and insistent that I do my part to demand true liberty and justice for all, Merton's seeds of destruction were there to lend strength. For, "The contemplative life is not, and cannot be, a mere withdrawal, a pure negation, a turning of one's back on the world with its sufferings, its crises, its confusions and its errors. First of all, the attempt itself would be illusory."

Yet, I wonder, is the "attempt itself" of celibacy not the most commonly illusory proposition of all the expectations imposed upon the priest, nun, and monk in many religious traditions. Assuming Paul was not unhappy with his supposed asexuality ("I wish that all were as I myself am."), he recognized that "each has a particular gift from God, one having one kind and another a different kind."

There are enough awful temptations for the devout on the mountaintops of life and in the valleys of the shadow of death without expecting them to repress who they really are as human beings. They may choose silence, but sexuality will not be silenced. No one should try to cage their sexuality like a dangerous beast except for those manifold situations where it is in fact dangerous or otherwise improper to share that sexuality, as with unwelcome, power, and other exploitative relationships. But, in general, to want to love and engage in sex with another truly consenting adult who is not in any way in a position of inequality and exploitation is not bestial but part of the everyday sainthood of humanity.

Everyone from kind strangers to manipulative jerks or worse, saints none, sinners all, can drive buses, repair doors, plant corn, teach school, drive cop cars, and yes, write wonderful books that change our lives forever. Idolize no thing--and no one, including you and me, pope and football star, and even "my hero" Eric Arthur Blair. Why must Mary be immaculately conceived? Why couldn't Jesus have been married?

Good grief.

We are all equals down here, although you would not know it looking at our world.
Discuss

January 5, 2015, one day later, late at night postlude/preface: I probably in writing this post let my duty to socialism take too much of a backseat to my religious idiosyncrasies and natural tendency to be flippant and cynical. But I hope that I have at least been honest in my imperfections. The comments to this post at Daily Kos have caused me to think a lot. As I more or less mentioned in an update to the post early this morning, I have been concerned about the immature and strident nature of the post, and especially at the possibility that it would be divisive to Catholic brothers and sisters on the left. I want to be an instrument of peace with respect to my world and do deeply appreciate all those on the left, including Catholic leftists, some of whom are dear friends or otherwise directly or indirectly have had a profoundly positive personal influence on me. And I do have hope for the first time in a long time that, because of Pope Francis, this amazing and highly imperfect institution of the Catholic Church, with its 1.2 billion members, might be made to be less of an instrument of oppression and reaction and more of an instrument of human solidarity, equality, and justice in the service of love for all of "God's" humans and other creatures. Bottom line, though, is that I am, for now at least, going to leave this post just the way I originally published it, and trust that my brothers and sisters, be they Catholic or otherwise, will forgive me for where I have strayed (or, if you think it fits, sinned). Please do not hesitate to send me a pointed message, email, or comment. I think that our personal dialectics sometimes have to be played out publicly to get the best result, so I am leaving it all hanging out there and feel that I am by doing so testifying the best I can. Peace and justice dammit, Francisco aka Galtisalie

There can be no immaculate conception of socialism ...
[Aneurin Bevan, 1945]
or of our posts about socialism.  

I had hoped this post would be the fabulous coming out ceremony for a pamphlet I have been working on in my spare time for over a year on the need for a global social compact. I view Pope Francis as being a potential key Gramscian player in this prospect. I was going to highlight how Cuba may present a unique opportunity for the global social compact paradigm. But, as they sometimes do, real world events in my little world have taken precedence over the Holidays, and the pamphlet is not complete. Nonetheless, I feel I can still take an abbreviated stab at the post I mentioned week before last in a comment on MrJayTee's excellent Cuba post:

a look at the Cuban constitution, Cuba's survival of the fittest/meanest capitalist island neighbor immediately to its east, and the potential helpful role of Pope Francis
(My patient, kind but busy tovarishch MrJayTee prefers I keep my posts short anyway, so perhaps this is divine providence.)

Before I get into the meat of this post, I need to get some slights, and caveats, out of the way. Let me begin by "apologizing" to socialists who happen to be Catholic for the Immaculate Conception invocation, but it seemed to fit my situation, and, 55 years into both experiments, it seems to fit Cuba's as well. That cultural reference got Aneurin Bevan, the founder of Britain's National Health Service, in trouble with this important left subgroup seventy years ago. But what the hell, Bevan, and after him the Castro brothers, did more to help the working class have earth as it is in heaven than any pope or archbishop of Canterbury in my estimation. So, please accept my laurel and hardy handshake and nonpology.

As for caveats, for stinging critique by me of the Catholic Church's anti-women, anti-GLBT, and in general anti-human policies, and its tendency to produce smarmy moralizing with little or no praxis to produce change, please see here and here, respectively, including ditty about:

the unelected Constantinian conservative RC majority of the SCOTUS, the Republican Party’s politburo, the vanguard in robes of U.S. political corruption and global neoliberalism, his humble flock, who put capital unction into the grotesque shunning of humanity that is institutionalized social repression
In a nutshell, while I have taken the gloves off with Pope Francis's street cred, I believe in working with him too.

I do need to add one last preliminary sting:

No, Pope Francis, I do not buy that you did all you could to protect your own priests from right wing killers/torturers in Argentina's Dirty War. I will not battle that history out in this post, but suffice it to say that you could have placed your prestige, and your body, on the line to protect them, but failed to do so.
To see how a real moral leader leads by example, please read Gramsci's 1925 speech directly to the face of Mussolini and the Italian parliament.

Moving right along ...

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Why I Write Personally and Plainly About Democratic Socialism


Note: This is an excerpt from a lengthy essay on Cuba I wrote around eighteen months ago when, without my knowledge, the U.S. and Cuba entered secret negotiations to reestablish relations. It was part of my political coming of age pamphlet I published later that summer, which can be obtained in English or Spanish at gardenvarietydemocraticsocialist.com. (To read about my Cuban American ancestors, including my radical ancestor tío Pancho and his sobrina, my very own wonderful Cuban American Granma, mi abuela Laura, please go to the pamphlet!) I republish now the parts of the essay that most relate to Cuba's future and the future of socialism--in celebration of this historic moment, and also in hope that the future will not be an end to the socialist revolution, much less a capitalist takeover, but a new glorious phase in Cuba's history that can be an example of deep democracy to the entire world. I dedicate this republication to the revolution my Cuban American ancestors dreamed of, and helped pay for twice, and to my dear close Cuban-born friend mentioned in the essay.

The Granma was invincible, like the spirit that moved within its deck! There were forces at work in addition to purely physical ones, and they too withstood the storms and drove the boat onward to its destination. One thought, one common ideal, one single desire, was projected in a single direction: the soil of the enslaved homeland.

Pérez, F.

I have no doubt that the voyage of that nearly sinking yacht, grossly overloaded with filthy and seasick would-be liberators, represented the dream for Cuba of my ancestors and hundreds of other forgotten families like them who came to the U.S. during the 19th century to provide workers for the newly-established domestic cigar industry. That is why the year before the voyage Fidel Castro came to Hillsborough County, Florida for several days to raise money. By then most of my West Tampa ancestors were only in the memory of mi abuela and a few other scattered relatives, their gravesites long since placed beneath a highway by the City of Tampa. All Granma-related propaganda and superstition aside, it is nice to think that they were part of a universal spirit of deep democracy that “moved within its deck!”

As we cautiously begin to improvise the next voyage of our Granma, this one to provide deep democracy to the whole earth, it is important to search for this spirit. One way to find it is to remember that the roots of the Cuban revolution extended beneath the Florida Straits to poor Cuban-American working families who were socialized to believe that they were part of something that included more than them and their own serious crises. They were militant labor people, and many of them were also socialists, communists, anarchists, and various mixed versions of these uniting in anti-capitalist views.

Their dream was not the hollow U.S. corporate version of freedom still ruling Cuba when the 82 revolutionaries set their feet on Cuban soil. That version of freedom had repressed them just as it continued to repress those in Cuba when Castro and his comrades came ashore. That version of freedom, in typical reckless boom-and-bust circumstances discussed by Marx generations before, had caused the Depression that variously put them out of work. Then that version of freedom became cozy with Franco. When Castro came to town, that version of freedom was Batista’s. Thus, by the time Castro got there to solicit funds, generations of cigar workers and their families in West Tampa and Ybor City had never hesitated to collect from what little they had in mutual aid to each other and to the causes of true freedom in Cuba and Spain.

Some of my family probably walked to and from the factory not only dreaming of a better day but also whistling the Internationale. Over a century of demagoguery and repression in the U.S. repels most of its inhabitants at the mere mention of the name Karl Marx. Capitalists who Marx aptly described snicker at their own cleverness. They thank mammon that Stalin, Mao, and other exemplars of totalitarianism practiced their inhumanity as “communists” and “socialists” with some words twisted from Marx and inverted to their own ends. I do not agree with some of the things I have learned about Marx’s beliefs, and he certainly failed to work out a mature system for socialism. But he was a humanitarian and not a promoter of cruelty or totalitarianism.

Under the combined daily influences of the corporate media, the pressures of consumerism, and a host of opiates, literal and figurative, good people can be unconsciously converted into forces of reaction. They are kept in debt, in fear of layoffs, and quick to consciously or unconsciously do their masters’ bidding—which include avoiding any rational discussion of the pros and cons of capitalism, socialism, or some reasonable blend thereof. The daily pornography of giveaways to transnational corporations, global financial gamesmanship, economic injustice, the defense industrial complex, cow-towing to dictators who control dwindling supplies of irreplaceable resources, and global warming escape notice.

In the streets of West Tampa and Ybor City beginning more than a hundred years ago, the working people were taking keen note of the world near and far and were not repelled by Marx or other leftist intellectuals. They were politically-oriented, actively participated in electioneering when political institutions were open to them, and wanted to learn the alternatives to capital exploitation. They saw capitalism as a system that potentially fed them but also one of racism, oppression, and imminent abandonment, the deeply flawed heir to imperialism.

Capitalism wanted to treat them like things—just like other things such as Cuban tobacco, but ideally more expendable. Tobacco leaves were not hated, beaten, and fired for striking. Tobacco was a valuable commodity always desired. Skilled cigar makers had some clout for a time, but this only incited greater rage on behalf of the capitalists who hated having to treat workers as human beings. Always vulnerable to oppression, unredeemable union people to the end, by the 1930’s many of them were out-of-work and completely destitute, forced to piece together one meal at time before moving on, if they were lucky, to low paying jobs outside the cigar industry, locally or in other cities like New York, or in the case of mi abuela, Miami. Vicious anti-labor firings and repression, machine production of cigars, consumer shifts to smoking cigarettes, and for the lectors, replacement by radios emitting non-confrontational advertising-fueled pablum—all of these contributed to the end of a now forgotten major portion of Florida history. This history was a major part of the great labor struggle in the U.S. during the 19th and 20th centuries, which for the most part capital won, using any means necessary.

In the early 21st century and still in the southeastern U.S., at least one of the descendants of the losing side is now a socialist. I have learned of and will not forget their lives and values—and the U.S. roots of the Cuban revolution, which is in turn a continuing inspiration to the desperate throughout Latin America and the world.

I hope that Cuba is not at the end of its socialist journey. I strongly believe that the world as a whole is not. The socialists of tomorrow in Latin America and elsewhere will generally come to and hold power through voters’ freed minds. Cuba is a paternalistic authoritarian state with a lot of problems but also a lot of humanitarian accomplishments. It needs to change in the interests of, not in repudiation to, the sacrifices of the revolution and, most importantly, the futures of Cuban people.

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Mon Dec 15, 2014 at 08:05 PM PST

So David Brooks Says Warren Can Win

by Galtisalie

http://mobile.nytimes.com/...

It must be a Republican plot to spur a pointless wasteful Democratic primary. Or "sell newspapers." Or ingratiate himself to ... Me?

Jeez. Maybe he"s right. Regardless of his motivations, maybe he's right.

At any rate, I like his focus on this simple point:

The memoir is called “A Fighting Chance.” The words “fight” or “fighting” appear in the book 224 times. In high school, Warren writes, she couldn’t play a musical instrument or a sport, “but I did have one talent. I could fight — not with my fists, but with my words. I was the anchor on the debate team.” Of her tennis game she writes, “Once I had a weapon in my hand, I gave it everything I had.”
So Mr. Brooks recognizes the zeitgeist requires a fighter. I'd agree with that. But then again, HRC's a fighter too. Except that she'd fight ... Me ... Us ...:
Clinton is obviously tough, but she just can’t speak with a clear voice against Wall Street and Washington insiders. Warren’s wing shows increasing passion and strength, both in opposing certain Obama nominees and in last week’s budget fight.
David Brooks has obviously been won over by a major vested interest ... the koolaid company. I'll drink to that.
Discuss

Surely, great racial progress has been made in the U.S. since 1972. After all, the racial epithet is now deleted. Just looksee above. So, I get some credit, right?

Indeed, some of us grow as human beings, and that is to be valued and encouraged. In 1972 living in Lake County, Florida, raised to be an unquestioning Preacher's Kid who considered conservative Republican politics to be synonymous with morality, and unquestioningly accepted that Richard M. Nixon, the One, was right on Vietnam and everything else, I never would have imagined that I would eventually grow to reject nearly everything I had been taught. Even my fundamentalist dad has grown, thanks in part to learning to accept the true selves of my lesbian little sister and her partner, although telling him I had become a Democrat a quarter century ago seemed like it would give him a heart attack. He even expressed some remorse last month with the prospect of voting for Rick Scott a second time, although I am so glad to still have him around and talking again (after thinking early this year that he was gone to us for good) that I can forgive him for his long-established rote voting pattern.

Certainly, when he reflects back on his ministry today, my dad expresses greatest remorse for the Southern Baptist church's reactionary positions and actions on the matter of race. So, forgiveness is in order. And please dear Jesus, don't let Dad find out that I am a frigging democratic socialist, that truly would kill him, especially with the Dolphins certain to not make the playoffs when they almost certainly lose to the Patriots later today. In our family, the only thing we loved more than conservative Republican politics was the Dolphins, so obsessively following the football team is the one theoretically enjoyable pastime we all still have in common. So, uh, Fins up, even though the 1972 "Perfect Season" seems not only long ago but also ironic given what was happening to the north of Miami in Lake County at the time.  

Willis V. McCall, after 28 years of racist treachery, union busting, and anti-commie/liberal demagoguery as the lawandorder sheriff of Lake County, Florida, where I spent grades 7-9, did not grow as a human being. In 1972, he still had time in office to kick and beat to death in a Tavares jail cell Tommie J. Vickers, an intellectually-disabled African American prisoner who made the mistake of not having the self-control to avoid smarting off to a real southern lawandorder man.

The remains of Mr. Vickers, who apparently had roots in Georgia just like my "white" mother, lie forgotten in a historic cemetery affiliated with an African American version of the supposedly Christ-like fundamentalist denomination I was raised in. He would not have been at all welcome in the church my dad pastored in Leesburg in the early 1970's.

The Dixiecrat Sheriff McCall was soon to be suspended by the progressive Democratic Florida Governor Reubin Askew. Meanwhile, between the time he was suspended and would lose reelection on the same day Nixon, the One, won big time over that hippie-loving McGovern, he would remain de facto in control. The evil man's banality in the same county commission meeting that announced "Letter from Frank X. Gliozzo, Attorney, concerning the claim in regard to Tommie Vickers was referred to [the county attorney]" made it difficult to tell whether it was the acting or the suspended sheriff's requests that were being respectfully rubber-stamped:

Sheriff Meech and a representative of Motorola were present and informed the Board the radio equipment in the Sheriff’s Department tis [sic] antiquated.  Mr. Meech advised suspended Sheriff McCall had instituted a study of needed equipment, and the study had been completed.  The Motorola representative described the necessary equipment including two closed circuit television cameras at a cost of $21,412 with 6 to 8 weeks delivery.  Chairman Windram said this will be considered when the budget is finalized.   The Sheriff also recommended that a security screen be installed over the windows in the Jail and requested permission to obtain a price for same.  Request was granted.
I never knew Mr. Vickers or learned about his death. I doubt we would have prayed for his mourning family, although I can find no record that the matter of his unfortunate "passing" for the act of dissing the sheriff ever made it into the Leesburg Daily Commercial. But, that's all in the past, right?
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First and foremost, we are a nation built on the rule of law. And so, we need to accept that this decision was the grand jury’s to make.
President Obama, 11/24/14, Transcript.

Thus President Obama began his "few words suggesting how we might move forward" after the grand jury deliberating the death of Michael Brown issued its decision. I believe that this "first and foremost" ranking and associated word choices have seriously harmful cultural resonance, and I hope that he abandons them immediately when referring to the nationwide crisis centered upon Ferguson. Although the president quickly, but somewhat superficially, shifted the focus onto the wishes of the Brown family, a giant opportunity was missed to acknowledge at the outset the core principle involved, which was and is not the "rule of law" but "freedom from fear."  

Now more than ever we must begin to know and insist upon our rights as human beings, U.S. "rule of law" be damned. Where human rights are not being protected, as they were not on the streets of Ferguson when Michael Brown was slaughtered, and as law enforcement in the U.S. has shown no propensity to do, suggesting that the rule of law is the defining principle is inaccurate. The rule of law is to avoid compelling human beings as a last resort to rebel against oppression, not to mask barbarous acts of oppression.

While the president is famous for slow starts and strong finishes, now is not the time for a slow start, much less a chide. And, sadly, chide is what he did. Undoubtedly he would have been called a white-hating Kenyan dictator had he begun with the truth, but, as we have learned, he will be called that anyway.  

Rather than first voicing the primary need at this time for solidarity with those who have been and are harmed and threatened by police brutality--a fact that President Obama certainly knows based on his own life experiences and years as president responding to repeat instances of law enforcement violence against African Americans--he began with a chide to those who recognize this so-called "rule of law" for the hypocritical mask of oppression that it is.

It was as if the most important message at the time was the need to prevent the breaking of windows, so apparently hallowed under the rule of law and much more important under our system of government than preventing police and police wannabes from killing young African American men. The latter must grin and bear the constant unequal risk that they will be stopped, frisked, and even shot by "demonizing" white cops. But we here in the U.S. of A. expect our cops are going to protect those Swisher Sweets, priority number one.

The Preamble to the Universal Declaration of Human Rights voices a much more candid message about the pitfalls of proffering a hollow rule of law that does not prevent oppression:

Whereas recognition of the inherent dignity and of the equal and inalienable rights of all members of the human family is the foundation of freedom, justice and peace in the world,

Whereas disregard and contempt for human rights have resulted in barbarous acts which have outraged the conscience of mankind, and the advent of a world in which human beings shall enjoy freedom of speech and belief and freedom from fear and want has been proclaimed as the highest aspiration of the common people,

Whereas it is essential, if man is not to be compelled to have recourse, as a last resort, to rebellion against tyranny and oppression, that human rights should be protected by the rule of law,

FDR captured this through the "freedom from fear" concept in the Four freedoms speech, which made it into the preamble:

The ideas enunciated in the Roosevelt’s Four Freedoms were the foundational principles that evolved into the Atlantic Charter declared by Winston Churchill and FDR in August 1941; the United Nations Declaration of January 1, 1942; President Roosevelt’s vision for an international organization that became the United Nations after his death; and the Universal Declaration of Human Rights adopted by the United Nations in 1948 through the work of Eleanor Roosevelt.
 

While President Roosevelt on January 6, 1941 in his state of the union speech was focused on a world at war and accordingly "translated" the concept "into world terms," freedom from fear definitely applies at the individual "neighbor" level as well as at the international level.

The fourth is freedom from fear—which, translated into world terms, means a world-wide reduction of armaments to such a point and in such a thorough fashion that no nation will be in a position to commit an act of physical aggression against any neighbor—anywhere in the world.

That is no vision of a distant millennium. It is a definite basis for a kind of world attainable in our own time and generation. That kind of world is the very antithesis of the so-called new order of tyranny which the dictators seek to create with the crash of a bomb.

To that new order we oppose the greater conception—the moral order. A good society is able to face schemes of world domination and foreign revolutions alike without fear.

Since the beginning of our American history, we have been engaged in change—in a perpetual peaceful revolution—a revolution which goes on steadily, quietly adjusting itself to changing conditions—without the concentration camp or the quick-lime in the ditch. The world order which we seek is the cooperation of free countries, working together in a friendly, civilized society.

This nation has placed its destiny in the hands and heads and hearts of its millions of free men and women; and its faith in freedom under the guidance of God. Freedom means the supremacy of human rights everywhere. Our support goes to those who struggle to gain those rights or keep them. Our strength is our unity of purpose. To that high concept there can be no end save victory.

Freedom from fear properly was cast in moral terms, so that, by implication, denying the Brown family and other African American families freedom from fear is itself immoral and outside the intent of having a so-called rule of law. Thus, any rule of law that exacerbates the Browns' fear and the fear of millions of more families like the Browns is not worthy of respect and we need not and indeed MUST NOT "ACCEPT" IT. So no Mr. President, we do not "accept" the outcome of that grand jury.
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I am republishing a new version of this diary, first published last Sunday night for Anti-Capitalist Meetup before it was ready to see the world. I have extensively rewritten it in light of the pointed feminist left analysis of Geminijen. She was right--I was inconsistent in simultaneously empathizing with the victims of the Japanese "comfort women" mass crime while mentioning the Clinton-Lewinsky scandal without acknowledging the associated dynamic of workplace exploitation--and the emerging horrific decades-long Bill Cosby workplace scandal just makes that more apparent. Exploitation of women, in its many shameful forms, is a huge part of human injustice to the vulnerable that should never be overlooked or minimized. The very point of my diary is to pull back layers of illusion in our society. I hope I have now done the topic greater justice.

In the late 1960's, when I was in about the fourth grade in South Florida, one Sunday night a Japanese "foreign missionary" named Shoji Honda came to speak at the Southern Baptist Church where my conservative Hispanic dad was pastor. Long before the cars with that last name became commonplace on U.S. streets, I knew about the motorcycles. Meeting this friendly and intelligent young man was about the most interesting thing that had happened in my life up to that point in time.

Shoji taught me and the other kids how to sing "Jesus Loves Me" in Japanese and Spanish. If we met again I would like to ask him if Jesus loved the "comfort women" the imperial Japanese Army forced into sexual slavery during and after WWII or the undocumented Latin American families who are trying to feed and house themselves in the town in the Deep South where I live today. As a leftist who also happens to be Christian, if there is anything that keeps me loving my version of Jesus (liberating socialist) it is that the answer in both instances would be yes. But by the example of many conservative religious people of yesterday and today in Japan and the U.S., the answers would be "What comfort women?" and a spittle-flaked "Hell no."  

Many of the Christians in my town still are part of the tarnished Tea Party set spouting about the imminent Stalinist state that soon will be in control in the good ole U.S. of A. (The thought that President Obama now is allowing some of the poor brown workers we see every day to become documented and remain here with their families has them in a reactionary tizzy.) I am tempted to tell them that they have it about half right. Arguably a variation on a creeping dictatorship is increasingly in place in the U.S. It is not state capitalist but late market capitalist in nature, and its dictator is not Barack Obama (an empathetic human being of humble beginnings and a big heart with whom I, as a democratic socialist, disagree on many things), nor even one person, elected or otherwise, but the system itself, currently archetypically embodied in the Tea Party's own funders. But, bad as the Koch Brothers are, it is never good to bandy about comparisons to "Stalin" or that other person whose name is usually mentioned by the Tea Partiers in the same breath. And the Koch Brothers are by no means the only powerful plutocrats in the U.S., although they are among those spending the most to control U.S. politics. They are major multi-tenacled suppliers in chains driven to maintain capitalist exploitation for as long as natural resources last. You and I have roles too--most prominently as wasteful followers of mass-marketed taste, "consumers" in the Wholly Walton Empire.

Interestingly, we rarely think about much less question the family of emperors who hold great sway in our own consumer empire. I do not think this is a coincidence. Our hierarchical economic system is undergirded by a constrained cultural dialectic of illusion and scandal largely controlled by those who have wealth and power and thereby control the commercial media. Scandals sometimes erupt, sometimes even deserving ones, but society has an inability to diagnose and treat root causes embedded in the system itself. When the system finds a scandal beneficial or at least unavoidable, the system, through the commercial media, immediately commodifies the scandal 24/7 while maintaining its own core of self-perpetuating illusions.

So why is this objectionable? Human suffering is not something that truly exists in a digital format, in a hologram, or even on charmingly old-fashioned film or paper. It exists in the lives of billions of real human beings.

On the other hand, illusions, although not tangible, can be powerful and real because they are by definition in the realm of ideas, however stilted. These illusions are not democratically determined but rather plutocratically disseminated to each one of us, often appealing to our most base or self-centered instincts. Societies do not pick their most fundamental illusions, the rulers do.

Some illusions are both inaccurate (I know, atheist friends, I am on some level wishfully "believing" in a Jesus of my own conception and therefore "delusional," but I still love the thought that Jesus loves me and you) and not good. Keeping up appearances can be dangerous.

As priority number one, if we are to be free, we should have the courage to admit that we or those we love or should love are in need. A political party that is too afraid to speak this message is nearly worthless. Too often illusions are only shattered when it becomes "profitable" to do so. It is a serious moral flaw of capitalist democracy (take it from Reinhold Niebuhr) that even trying to win an election for "the good side" can involve a cold-hearted cost-benefit analysis. We won't talk about those in the most dire straights because "most people," as in 50.1% of a given electorate, don't want to think about them. Messages are shaped as if the weak and vulnerable are nonexistent, mere expendable chits, or dead weight on the mighty otherwise robust shoulders of capitalism--a supply-side Galt-ish whopper of a lie that is not only fictional but also morally-repugnant.

Eventually those people who are forgotten in political messaging are forgotten in our collective heart, in the cultural hegemony of our society. And some of us, the for now more fortunate, are left to wander in a decaying wilderness of selfish consumerism until we go broke and our planet chokes to death.

Those who suffer are left to suffer in silence, with silence not golden but a constant flashing reminder in the psyche of injustice. Under such circumstances the void of the abandonment often will be filled with self-medication rather than revolution, and sometimes with faux rebellion in the form of acts of violence directed at innocent persons rather than mindful acts directed at a system needing deep change. Self-medication takes the commercially available products, whether purchased at Walmart or a street corner, and consumes them to ease the pain of being ignored and seemingly unimportant if not despised and rejected. Faux rebellion idiosyncratically takes the available woman, child, or other innocent and subjects her or him to scapegoating for the sins of an empire which already mass exploits then ignores women, children, and other innocents.  

To put a smiley face on mass exploitation by ignoring the suffering of others is a great but common sin of capitalism. We sense this societal sickness, but again, the nausea does not rock the boat but our own internal seas. The Wholly Walton Empire, which seeks to perpetuate illusion and avoid scandal involving its own nobility and the system that gives it wealth and power, is perfectly happy with mass self-medication and faux rebellion. Japan, a slightly more healthy society with a parliamentary system and a vibrant left wing, reduces self-medication and faux rebellion but tends toward the same silent indifference to injustice when exposure of cherished reactionary lies is threatened. Telling and accepting deep truths could hurt the system, slightly if not deeply. Mass honest global exposure of deep lies would leave the global neoliberal system itself exposed as subject to change or even rejection. The human story is potentially malleable. And malleability begins with humane rather than indifferent cultural hegemony.

I love the honest moment many critics hate in Akira Kurisawa's One Wonderful Sunday (1947) when the director, through the female co-lead, confesses the act of creating for the public good by turning to us, the viewers, and begging for help for the poor lovers of post-WWII Japan: "There are so many poor lovers like us."

Generations later, the Japanese left is by and large retaining its moral courage against a denialist onslaught that would have fit right in with Fascist days gone by. In a vicious campaign of moral inversion that would make Karl Rove proud, those who dare to stand by the historical veracity of the exploitation of "comfort women" are themselves scandalized. The current conservative Japanese effort to expunge from history the Japanese military's mass brutalizing of women during WWII is, needless to say, itself deeply shameful. But this need for maintenance of societal illusion is by no means a new creation. Nor can the U.S. exempt itself from criticism with respect to its own deep and wide illusion at home and abroad, and in particular with respect to Japan.  

In these sad days (which can become a little less sad when the U.S. president does the right thing, as with the recent immigration pronouncement, which brings a measure of justice to millions of desperate people), it is difficult to remember except with sadness that not too long ago a first term presidency was won on a simultaneously discomforting and audacious vision--

The title of The Audacity of Hope was derived from a sermon delivered by Obama's former pastor, Jeremiah Wright. Wright had attended a lecture by Dr. Frederick G. Sampson in Richmond, Virginia, in the late 1980s, on the G. F. Watts painting Hope, which inspired him to give a sermon in 1990 based on the subject of the painting - "with her clothes in rags, her body scarred and bruised and bleeding, her harp all but destroyed and with only one string left, she had the audacity to make music and praise God ... To take the one string you have left and to have the audacity to hope... that's the real word God will have us hear from this passage and from Watt's painting."
While "her" audacity is commendable, where is "ours"? Can we look on at a person in such a condition and not ask why and then do all we can to change those conditions?

This vision, which was ultimately an appeal to assess honestly the requirements of justice in the service of love, has been diminished through a societal psychosis brought about only in part by an opposition party strategically incapable of telling the truth on anything serious. The Republican Party is built on lying, to be sure. But it has received decades of assistance from the pathetic unwillingness of the U.S.'s so-called liberal party to have the audacity to honestly call even for old time liberal religion and from the pathetic unwillingness of the so-called liberal media to have the audacity to expose lies on a prolonged basis, except, irregularly, those involving sexual scandal. In Akira Kurosawa's Scandal (1950), about the libel of a fictitious "famous female singer" for a sexual liaison that did not happen, the desperate post-WWII Japanese commercial press was exposed for its tendency to expose the titillating, truthfully or not, because this is commercially profitable.  

As with the continuing repression of comfort women history in Japan, sexual scandal generally does not get mass coverage if this would implicitly challenge the bedrock of gender exploitation that underlies much of capitalist society. The true sacrosanct issue in the capitalist media is capitalism. For instance, the Bill Clinton-Monica Lewinsky situation was covered extensively as a matter of "the sex" but not as a matter of what Geminijen correctly describes as

the sexual compliance of a low level worker with her boss on the job. Although the right wing chastised Clinton on the basis of some Puritan Christian morality about adultery and licentiousness, the issue should have been discussed on the basis of power differentials and the explicit sexualization of women in the workplace.

In this context, a relationship between two consenting adults becomes impossible to determine since Clinton (as president) had total power over his subordinates. Even if Lewinsky "consented" or initiated the encounters (possibly in some sort of opportunistic - consciously or unconsciously - way to curry favor with the boss), it sets up a dynamic and expectation for all other females in that workplace to have to "put out" or be sexually attractive (i.e., young & thin)to get or keep their jobs. It was not a question of Quid pro quo" but a hostile work environment (see I think it's title seven of the 1964 civil rights act). That this assumption is prevalent, in fact assumed, in workplaces around the world is made even clearer by the way it is dismissed.

 
The same could be said for the Bill Cosby scandal, pushed under the rug for decades as he sold television commercials and, on the show that bore his name, gave the U.S. television audience a depiction of African American life sure not to challenge the dominant capitalist culture. While it was nice to see the Cosby family each week, and until a couple of weeks ago reruns of the show were still a favorite on HulaPlus in my own house, social climbing and getting ahead were presumed ideals on the show, poverty was pushed under the rug, and the continuing struggle for liberty and justice for all was unmentioned.

So what to do? Is a tendency to derive mass titillation from sex "scandal" but not to challenge the status quo of a society that gives rise to the exploitation of women to begin with just one more frustration to self-medicate over? Can we not finally begin to tell the truth about the system itself, not only the 800 lb. gorilla but the room itself?

I do not live in Japan but I do live in the heart of the Deep South, the center region of the Wholly Walton Empire. I think it is worth pondering who is really running this sickly thickly syrupy daytime theatre of life in the U.S.--so comfortable with societal psychosis once reserved for dreams of a heavenly one--while we put on our daily generally modest costumes. We have lost the will to pray, oh Lord, for a Mercedes Benz or even a new pickup, although we may still feel this unexplained ungratified compulsion to purchase new gizmos with whatever is left over after the tank of gas that will get us from our trailer to our part time jobs if we can get them.  

It can sometimes be difficult, however, to tell the actors from the playwrights, for even the playwrights have to play dress up, or, more typically, dress down. When you are an imperial family, it is important to look the part, which will vary according to the needs of the occasion. If your power is mainly cultural, with pretentions of divinity, your plumage may need to be bold. While living large you may feel compelled to use your women and children more like props than actors on the stage of your pampered world.

If your power is economic, you may need to dress like regular small business folk on the way to the quaint grand opening of a new five and dime, complete with soda fountain. Your appearance should reflect the business needs of your milieu, even if that means you too must look like you eat tons of that processed corn-shit you sell to us at everyday low prices.

Before I come back to them, I want to mention again the customers. You may wholly or partly not realize it, but, if you are reading this, you are likely sitting or standing (pray not driving) in the Wholly Walton Empire. You won't actually get to "[m]eet the 6 Walton Heirs at the [t]op of the Walmart [e]mpire," but it is important to their tight hold on power in the U.S. that you and hundreds of millions of species-beings like you remain alienated and not develop class consciousness of them and moral consciousness of the ends and means of their empire.

Now back to our story ...

The Walton family are just regular folk, plus lots of money and power. They are at the pinochle of a homestyle capitalist family built on the illusion of choice. They are mere country vendors.

Other small town folk make the stuff that they vend, which we stuff into our bodies and souls to the limit of our credit and physiological and psychological capacity to intake stuff.

These ultra rich "regular folk" use slick mercenary politicians from both U.S. ruling parties to carry out their policies in exchange for chump change and neoliberal-circumscribed political power implemented through the kabuki theatre of "aw shucks, pass me them taters" known as U.S. "democracy." A broad spectrum of "regular folk," sometimes already wealthy but usually not "ultra rich," compete within this mercenary class. Enter folks like Jeb (make no mistake, Jeb does not come to Arkansas because he cares about education)

and "our" very own HRC.

Now what in tarnation does this have to do with Japan?

Continue Reading

Some illusions are not good. Keeping up appearances can be dangerous. We should have the courage to admit that we or those we love or should love are in need. A political party that is too afraid to speak this message is nearly worthless.

I love the honest moment many critics hate in Akira Kurisawa's One Wonderful Sunday (1947) when the director, through the female co-lead, confesses the act of creating for the public good by turning to us, the viewers, and begging for help for the poor lovers of post-WWII Japan: "There are so many poor lovers like us."

Generations later, the Japanese left is by and large retaining its moral courage against a denialist onslaught that would have fit right in with Fascist days gone by. In a vicious campaign of moral inversion that would make Karl Rove proud, those who dare to stand by the historical veracity of the exploitation of "comfort women" are themselves scandalized. The current conservative Japanese effort to expunge from history the Japanese military's mass brutalizing of women during WWII is, needless to say, itself deeply shameful. But this need for maintenance of societal illusion is by no means a new creation. Nor can the U.S. exempt itself from criticism with respect to its own deep and wide illusion at home and abroad, and in particular with respect to Japan.  

In these sad days it is difficult to remember except with sadness that not too long ago a first term presidency was won on a simultaneously discomforting and audacious vision--

The title of The Audacity of Hope was derived from a sermon delivered by Obama's former pastor, Jeremiah Wright. Wright had attended a lecture by Dr. Frederick G. Sampson in Richmond, Virginia, in the late 1980s, on the G. F. Watts painting Hope, which inspired him to give a sermon in 1990 based on the subject of the painting - "with her clothes in rags, her body scarred and bruised and bleeding, her harp all but destroyed and with only one string left, she had the audacity to make music and praise God ... To take the one string you have left and to have the audacity to hope... that's the real word God will have us hear from this passage and from Watt's painting."
While "her" audacity is commendable, where is "ours"? Can we look on at a person in such a condition and not ask why and then do all we can to change those conditions?

This vision, which was ultimately an appeal to honestly assess the requirements of justice in the service of love, has been diminished through a societal psychosis brought about only in part by an opposition party strategically incapable of telling the truth on anything serious. The Republican Party is built on lying, to be sure. But it has received decades of assistance from the pathetic unwillingness of the U.S.'s so-called liberal party to have the audacity to honestly call even for old time liberal religion and from the pathetic unwillingness of the so-called liberal media to have the audacity to expose lies on a prolonged basis except of the inconsequential variety--such as the covering up of the pathetic sex life of a president with a consenting intern. While I hope most of us would agree that Bill Clinton was a putz, our collective political lives should not turn based on what he does with his. Had he turned to the camera and said "There are so many poor [so to speak] lovers like us" we all should have clapped, laughed, or yawned, but certainly immediately moved on.

It is worth pondering who is really running this sickly thickly syrupy daytime theatre of life in the U.S.--so comfortable with societal psychosis once reserved for dreams of a heavenly one--while we put on our daily generally modest costumes. We have lost the will to pray, oh Lord, for a Mercedes Benz or even a new pickup, although we may still feel this unexplained ungratified compulsion to purchase new gizmos with whatever is left over after the tank of gas that will get us from our trailer to our part time jobs if we can get them.  

It can sometimes be difficult, however, to tell the actors from the playwrights, for even the playwrights have to play dress up, or, more typically, dress down. When you are an imperial family, it is important to look the part, which will vary according to the needs of the occasion. If your power is mainly cultural, with pretentions of divinity, your plumage may need to be bold. While living large you may feel compelled to use your women and children more like props than actors on the stage of your pampered world.

If your power is economic, you may need to dress like regular small business folk on the way to the quaint grand opening of a new five and dime, complete with soda fountain. Your appearance should reflect the business needs of your milieu, even if that means you too must look like you eat tons of that processed corn-shit you sell to us at everyday low prices.

Before I come back to them, I want to mention the customers. You may wholly or partly not realize it, but, if you are reading this, you are likely sitting or standing (pray not driving) in the Wholly Walton Empire. You won't actually get to "[m]eet the 6 Walton Heirs at the [t]op of the Walmart [e]mpire," but it is important to their tight hold on power in the U.S. that you and hundreds of millions of species-beings like you remain alienated and not develop class consciousness of them and moral consciousness of the ends and means of their empire.

Now back to our story ...

The Walton family are just regular folk, plus lots of money and power. They are at the pinochle of a homestyle capitalist family built on the illusion of choice. They are mere country vendors.

Other small town folk make the stuff that they vend, which we stuff into our bodies and souls to the limit of our credit and physiological and psychological capacity to intake stuff.

These ultra rich "regular folk" use slick mercenary politicians from both U.S. ruling parties to carry out their policies in exchange for chump change and neoliberal-circumscribed political power implemented through the kabuki theatre of "aw shucks, pass me them taters" known as U.S. "democracy." A broad spectrum of "regular folk," sometimes already wealthy but usually not "ultra rich," compete within this mercenary class. Enter folks like Jeb (make no mistake, Jeb does not come to Arkansas because he cares about education)

and "our" very own HRC.

Now what in tarnation does this have to do with Japan?

Continue Reading
I guarantee it. I am that trouble. I am making that trouble. And so should you.

I feel our pain. I am sorry. It was sad. We try so hard. The deck is stacked. Turnout so low. Lies are told. Again and again. Commercials bombard us. Messaging is targeted. Divide and rule. Impeccably done.

Thank you for fighting. The goals are just. The punishment is not. Mid-term blues hurt. Real people are hurting. We won't deny it. Two years of garbage. Triumphal reactionaries.

So it really happened. And it will keep on happening.

We must change the system. While working tactically to make the best sausage, we must also think strategically. We must also have a second set of simultaneous tactics. We must figure out ways to take that frigging sausage grinder and break it into pieces.

The system we have inherited is rigged. So, at least some of OUR focus should be on OUR need to change THEIR system to OUR system. Participatory self-rule of the masses of the workplaces, of the planet, of the spaces, high and low, where we have to survive, if we are to live, much less thrive.

So, I fight those sad battles of political engagement. I get out the vote. I strive for marginal advantages. I get it.

Participation in [ed.] the system is necessary in the short run. But changing the system is necessary in the short run too. Changing the system is not just a long run goal. The pain is real. The pain is now. The pain is widespread. The pain has no valid driver's license or green card. The pain has no job. The pain lives in fear and need. The pain is all around us.

So we try to ease the pain, not just with indirect action but also with direct action. We strike. We march. We sit in. We occupy. Where opportunity presents itself, we fight for minimum wage ordinances at the local level. We band together the best we can to provide each other mutual aid. We learn about our commonality with people all around OUR world who also do not benefit from the neoliberal hegemony.

I don't know very much--I know. I am mindfully naïve. I bring my best as a species-being to share it with you and all my sisters and brothers of OUR world. That is all I can do, and I refuse to do anything less. I refuse to settle for the hamster wheel. I refuse to be a hamster. I may look like a hamster to you. You may look like a hamster to me. But it is because we have allowed the creators of the wheel to convince us that we are hamsters and not truly free species-beings capable of breaking their hamster wheel.

So there you have it. Mixed metaphors. Not very palatable. Sausage grinding. Revolting hamsters. Eat crow if you want to. You did not deal these cards much less create that deck. Fight the power.

Discuss

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

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

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

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

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

I digress (or do I?):
◾"Crisis in Mexico: Could Forty-Three Missing Students Spark a Revolution?" Well, yes, they could. But let's consider the dry kindling to which the spark has been applied, shall we?

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

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

"Those thousands of teachers you see blocking the streets of the City have the courage millions of workers in other industries have not had in recent years."
Alvaro Cueva.
Mexico City August 30, 2013.
http://www.seccion22.org.mx/...

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

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

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

So reported the conservative Mexico GulfReporter.com over a year ago (http://www.mexicogulfreporter.com/...)

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

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

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

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

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

http://www.washingtonpost.com/...

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

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

Meanwhile, "I" search for the clicker, and I like think, in between doses of my favorite mind-numbing substance:
What? Mexico is too far away from Nowheresville for me to give a damn (except when it is invading our sacred border, now at the Rio Grande, with Ebola-carrying brown people). Who is Trotsky anyway? Zapatistas? And "anarchy" sounds bad, almost, uh, "Mexicany." What the hell is "mutual aid"? I got your mutual aid right here. Get me my AR-quince!

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

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

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