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Socialism is becoming popular with US voters...and candidates

Did Bernie Sanders break down doors for new US socialist movement?

 

Philadelphia -– Last month, a major earthquake shook the bedrock of New York City politics, sending shockwaves that were felt across the US as 28-year-old Brooklyn-born Puerto Rican socialist Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez trounced Rep. Joe Crowley, a 10-term House of Representatives member who was widely presumed to be the likely successor to long time House leader Nancy Pelosi.

A socialist winning an important House race in a country that just elected billionaire capitalist Donald Trump as president, and handed control of both houses of Congress to the Republicans – a party dedicated to unfettered capitalism? How can this be?

  Anastasia Osario-Cortez (2018) and Eugene Debs (1932)Socialist candidates in the US: Anastasia Osario-Cortez (2018) and Eugene Debs (1932)
 

Clearly, some kind of tectonic shift is underway in American politics, because Ocasio-Cortez is not the only socialist winning elections and ousting establishment Democrats. Four incumbent members of the state legislature in Pennsylvania, a state that narrowly voted for Trump in 2016, were defeated this year in primaries by insurgent candidates – all of them, like Osario-Cortez, members of Democratic Socialists of America, a little-known political group that has suddenly grown in membership from 6000 prior to 2016 to over 40,000 this year.

And as if that weren’t enough, in a stunning aftershock following her initial win in Brooklyn, Ocasio-Cortez learned that she had won a primary in a neighboring district in the Bronx on the Reform Party line. That minor party had no candidates running and had urged voters in the district to write in Osario-Cortez’s name, which they did in large numbers.

Socialism as a political force has never had an easy time in the US, a country that mythologizes the go-it-alone entrepreneur and the iconoclastic loner. For a brief time in the period between the two world wars, socialism was popular enough among US workers that American Socialist Party leader Eugene Debs was able to win almost a million votes for president in 1912 (about 6 percent of the popular vote at that time). But after two brutal government anti-red campaigns in the ‘20s and ‘50s that included Debs’ arrest, the blacklisting of many actors, teachers and journalists in the 1950s on charges of being Communists, and finally decades of government and media propaganda equating socialism with Communism, Bolshevism and Maoism, socialism has had few adherents and little public acceptance among most Americans.

Until now, that is...
 

For the rest of this article, which appeared today as an op-ed on the RT-TV website, please go to: Rt.com

Socialism is becoming popular with US voters...and candidates

Did Bernie Sanders break down doors for new US socialist movement?

 

Peace is a Good Thing, Whoever Manages to Achieve It

Undermining Trump-Putin summit means promoting war

 

Timing isn’t everything, but in politics it’s important, and the indictment of 12 Russian intelligence officials for allegedly being behind the supposed hacking of the Democratic National Committee in 2016 in an alleged effort to skew the election in favor of Donald Trump over Hillary Clinton, announced today by Mueller “Russiagate” probe overseer and Associate US Attorney General Rod Jay Rosenstein just before President Trump’s planned summit meeting Monday in Finland with Russian President Vladimir Putin — reeks of politics.

It is also rather thin on the announced evidence of a “hack” despite mainstream journalism’s breathless reporting that it the indictment cites “hard evidence” of such hacks.

In fact, little or nothing of what evidence is released — supposed use of a server in Malaysia, for example — proves anyting, since the Vault 7 release of CIA hacking tools last year showed that the CIA has developed software that lets its hacking teams disguise themselves as anyone, from a lone crank in a Chicago basement to a Russian GRU hacking team in Moscow. It’s all pretty meaningless — especially since to date the FBI has reportedly never even demanded to see, much less confiscate, the DNC’s servers, which could provide real evidence that they were, in fact hacked at all.

When two leaders, each with the ability to destroy the world, agree to get along, that's a good thing. Period.When two leaders, each with the ability to destroy the world, agree to get along, that's a good thing. Period.

As the Veteran Intelligence Professionals (VIP) organization, whose membership includes former NSA experts like William Binney, who helped design that agency’s internet tapping systems, have declared, their own investigation, which looked at download speeds of the DNC hack, showed that it couldn’t have been done over a remote internet cable, but had to have been an inside job downloaded onto a thumbdrive or portable hard drive.

So we’re no further down the road in the so-called Russiagate hacking scandal, but the indictment of a dozen persons who can never be interrogated and brought to trial because they are safely in Russia does effectively do one thing: it undermines any chance that President Trump might reach some agreement with his Russian counterpart Putiin to ratchet down the growing hostility between the two countries, as Trump repeatedly said during the 2016 campaign that he wanted to do.

Say what you will about Trump and his fascist tendencies — for example his monstrous policy of jailing people entering the US surreptitiously who have legitimate refugee status claims that should be properly adjudicated, and even worse, grabbing their children and separating them — a process which is continuing even as courts have ordered the return of at least those children younger than five to their anxious and imprisoned parents, or the threat to invade Venezuela. It can only be a good thing to ease tensions between the two nations on this planet who have the capability to destroy it and render it a smoking ruin incapable of supporting life thanks to their stockpiles of thousands of nuclear weapons.

Yet it seems clear that forces in what has been called the “Deep State” or the “Permanent Government” of the US appear hell-bent on preserving that state of hair-trigger edginess between the US and Russia, no doubt because it keeps the financial taps wide open for the arms industry, the Pentagon, the intelligence agencies, and the politicians of both parties who feed on the campaign funds (bribes) offered by the industries that stand to benefit from cold war and myriad small hot ones.

The Politics of Cruelty

Our Enlightenment Legacy On the Ropes

 

Cruelty is the expression of hate and of the will to power. … The sadistic traits, the tendency to barbarousness, the impulse to destroy, manifest themselves in a manner that is senseless, brutal, scornful of every cultural achievement. … The sadist revels in the fear, the anger, the humiliation of his victim. … The sadist pictures to himself what is happening in the mind of his object, whose resistance he calls forth and breaks. Only this feeling of himself into the affective life of the object brings him the expected pleasure.
          - Wilhelm Stekel, Sadism and Masochism: The Psychology of Hatred and Cruelty (1929)
 
[T]he powerful often turn to torture in times of crisis, not because it works but because it salves their fears and insecurities with the psychic balm of empowerment. . . . Once torture begins, it seems to spread uncontrollably, particularly during times of crisis, in a downward spiral of fear and self-empowerment.
          - Alfred W. McCoy, A Question of Torture: CIA Interrogation, from the Cold War to the War On Terror (2006)
 

The way the Trump administration has gotten tough with immigrant families and children from Central America and Mexico shares something with psychological studies of sadism and the United States government’s own research on torture tapped by the George W. Bush administration to justify its cruelty in a moment of perceived crisis. Cruelty and torture are like pornography; as a famous Supreme Court justice put it: “I know it when I see it.” Cruelty as policy -- ie. the inducing of suffering among the powerless by the powerful -- is an ancient reality that hinges, as Dr. Stekel put it in 1929, on “the expression of hatred and of the will to power.” Stekel was an Austrian and a student of Freud's; it's noteworthy he wrote his 430-page work on sadism synonymous with the rise of European fascism. Trump’s Make America Great Again campaign can be seen in such a psychological and mythic light as a return to the “greatness” that presided over this land during the days of slavery, Jim Crow and Manifest Destiny, an expansive period when the politics of cruelty prevailed as a necessary tool for the capture and control of a wild land. As McCoy suggests, above, the politics of cruelty appears in times of crisis. For the atavistic populist, there's no need to articulate this clearly; since it's all there buried deep in the loam of US history and myth, dog-whistling will do.

The wall separating the two Nogaleses seen from the US; two boys on the Mexican side.The wall separating the two Nogaleses seen from the US; two boys on the Mexican side.

Boom!

A poem for Independence Day:

 

July the Fourth
Sallies forth
And people blow up gunpowder devices
Indulge all cheapshit vices
Gobble down cows and pigs
Smoke clouds of pot and cigs
Fornicate and regurgitate
Bloviate and crepitate
Making America great again
Increasing sewage rate again
Trash landfill refill
Plastic bottle overkill
Rivers of wrappers and
overflowed crappers
Run to the ocean
Crippling wave motion
Paralyzing currents
Making you wish that you weren't
Living among buffoons
Sending earth to doom
So lift a can of American beer
To still being here
In the land of the me
and the home of depraved
Where all is instant gratify
'Cause pretty soon, in the bye-and-bye
Jesus gonna fly you home
Where nobody got to moan
About houses you can't afford
and being fired and being bored
And kids and teachers blown apart
By some alt-think punk upstart
With a forty-seven AK

Ready for a New ‘Missile Gap’ and Trillion-Dollar Arms Race?

The fireworks next time!

 

It’s July 4. Do you want fireworks? You’re in luck, because that’s what your militarist government wants to deliver.

You may have to wait a bit, but what’s in store is a new arms race, a new era of super instability with the chance for, or even likelihood of a catastrophic ending in the form of a global nuclear war.

It’s all about a new race between the US, Russia and China to be the first to develop a fleet of intercontinental hypersonic cruise missiles capable of flying low to the ground at speeds of between 4-15,000 miles per hour while maneuvering and even changing targets along the way, making them virtually unstoppable.

A new 'missile gap' and a new arms race are underway, this time over hyper-speed nuke-tipped cruise missiles (government image)A new 'missile gap' and a new arms race are underway, this time over hypersonic nuke-tipped cruise missiles (government image)
 

Apparently spending 60% of our annual tax payments on the military and on pointless wars around the world that only seem to create more chaos and more hatred of the US as we already do now isn’t enough. We need to blow even more of our hard-earned income on weapons and war in another pointless arms race that never should have even been contemplated, much less launched. Back in the late 1950s and early 1960s it was the so-called “Missile Gap” threat that led to a paroxysm of massive spending on developing ever larger missiles and nuclear bombs to be carried by them, the construction of costly missile silos to house them, and a fleet of huge missile-launching Poseidon and Triton submarines to bring them closer to the coasts of the Soviet Union and China. There actually never was a “gap.” US intelligence knew from satellite and U-2 spy plane overflight photos that the US always had more ICBMs and shorter range IRBMs capable of delivering H-Bombs to Russia than the Russians had, but the fake story that the Soviets had more missiles than the US did the trick. The missile arms race was on.

Now we’re getting new scare stories out of the Pentagon and militarist members of Congress claiming that a new “missile gap” is developing: Those sneaky Russkies, we’re told, “are building ultrafast missile technology at a quicker speed than the U.S,” and have jumped ahead of us, developing hypersonic maneuverable long-range nuclear cruise missiles that could be launched in waves, fly at multiple times the speed of sound, and alter their course significantly at low altitude to avoid detection and interception while reaching targets in the US.

Assaults On Red Hen Restaurants Evidences Overlooked Epidemic In America

Trump effect oozes again

 

An epidemic is sweeping across America at record speed.

This epidemic is ignorance -– a fatuousness way beyond the malady of merely ill-informed.

Alarmingly, this epidemic of ignorance has received too little attention despite the quintessentially existential danger it presents to the very existence of America. America’s Founders proclaimed that an ‘informed electorate’ was essential for democracy to flourish. It is an immutable fact that ignorance floods the flourishing of that element for democracy- – informed electorate –- the Founders deemed essential.

The latest example of the debilitating impacts of this epidemic of ignorance is the vile and violent reactions to a recent incident in rural Virginia that involved President Trump’s ever-prevaricating press secretary, Sarah Sanders.

Red Hen Restaurant -- No, not 'that one'  LBWPhotoRed Hen Restaurant -- No, not 'that one' LBWPhoto
 

The owner of that restaurant asked Sanders to leave because workers in that eatery, who are gay, expressed discomfort with the presence of The-Public-Face of the Trump Administration that has taken discriminatory stances on gay rights and other issues.

Reaction to that perceived slight of Sanders from Trump loyalists involved ire directed not only at that Virginia establishment but ire dumped on many restaurants with the same name: Red Hen.

Exhibiting clinical levels of ignorance, complete with willful disdain for facts, Trump supporters unleashed a variety of assaults/insults on Red Hen named restaurants in Connecticut, New Jersey, Washington, DC, and even in Ontario, Canada -- all far from Virginia and all having absolutely no affiliations with that Virginia restaurant beyond sharing a name.

High Court Killing of Closed-Shop Public Employee Contracts a Needed Wake-Up Cal for Business-Model Unions

Stop whining and start organizing!

 

The wailing you hear from public sector unions and from trade unions in general in the wake of the Supreme Court’s Wednesday Janus decision banning the mandatory payment of fees to unions by workers who choose not to join them in the public sector is overwrought. In many states with strong public sector unions, this has been the case long before this ruling came down.

It’s also the way things have long been for unions in the private sector, as “open-shop” rules, called “right-to-work” rules by their advocates, have become increasingly popular with state legislatures. Nevada, for example, has had an “open-shop” or “right-to-work” law on the books since 1952 and unions remain strong and common in that state.

It is certainly true that having an “open-shop” rule banning contracts that require all employees to join the union once one is formed at a company, or in the case of public sector unions, at some government or university workplace, can make organizing new workers harder, and can put a financial strain on unions which also by law have to represent all workers, for example those who have a grievance with the employer, whether or not they are full dues-paying members.

But there is a downside too to the once wide-spread practice of negotiating contracts requiring all member in a unionized workplace to join the union, or to pay some kind of agency fee to the union in lieu of dues in the case of workers who simply don’t want to be union members. That downside is that it encouraged a shift during the last half century or more away from unions as part of a vast political movement of workers to a kind of business-unionism featuring well-compensated executives and staff, costly office buildings, and expensive annual conferences held in places like Orlando or New Orleans or Las Vegas — generally all-expenses-paid for those attending as representatives of their locals.

Norwich and Norfolk University Hospital workers on strikeNorwich and Norfolk University Hospital workers on strike
 

One big problem is that if it has a closed shop at a workplace, the union doesn’t have to go to work to organize those workers who don’t want to join. It has their money, and all too often, that’s all union leaders care about since it pays their salaries and perks. But a union that only has 50-60% of a workforce as willing dues-paying members is not a strong union. It can’t count on the other 40-50 percent of non-willing members to support a strike, for instance. Far better to work and earn the support of those members than to just compel them to pay dues or agency fees and remain disgruntled about the union.

Such business unions then often have also lost their democratic roots, and have become sinecures for comfortable union leaders, who lost any visceral connection to the membership, live in better houses in better neighbors than their members, send their kids to better schools and to private colleges, and in general are in a different class than their members.

By undermining the ability of unions to collect that much revenue from members and non-members at workplaces, Justice Sam Alito, who wrote the Janus opinion for the Supreme Court’s conservative majority, and the right-wing movement to attack unions whose attorneys supported this case, may have actually done the slowly vanishing US labor movement, such as it is, a favor with this swift kick in the head.

Why is the Six-Sigma Management Model Still Praised When It Led to GE’s Collapse?

A recipe for disaster

 

Over a generation ago, engineer Bill Smith, working at Motorola, developed a management system called Six-Sigma, designed to help companies avoid quality problems in their products and business processes. His system caught morphed into a general theory of management, and became a catch-word and marketing goldmine at business schools as well as requirement for promotion at large corporations.

In 1995, Jack Welsh, CEO of GE, made Six Sigma central to his company’s whole management approach. If you wanted to be promoted at that leading Fortune 100 industrial firm, you needed to be certified in Six Sigma -- a situation that continued under his successor and protege Jeff Immelt who retired as CEO last year. Other companies followed suit and today most large US corporations and many abroad, as well as some public organizations (including the US military), claim to adhere to the model, and to promote management personnel based upon their having achieved so-called “black belt” or “green belt” status in understanding its precepts.

Indeed, GE’s success in growing rapidly and achieving record profits year after year made Welsh and Six Sigma (a trademarked term owned by Motorola) a leading model for top-level managers everywhere.

US Army personnel receiving Six Sigma training (US Army Public Affairs photo)US Army personnel receiving Six Sigma training (US Army Public Affairs photo)
 

Jump forward, though, and GE is now being called an epic management disaster by analysts. The company, with Welsh at the helm, famously expanded into banking and financial services, got caught with its corporate pants down in the Fiscal Crisis and Great Recession that hit in 2007, and is now going through a wrenching divestment and break-up process that has seen its stock price fall from a high of $87 a share in August of 2000, when everything seemed to be humming along nicely, to today’s low of $12.88, a level that valued the company at 50% of what it had been worth just a year ago. (The day's latest 2.3% share price drop was largely an investor response to the company's announcement that it was selling its profitable distributed power unit for $3.25 billion in another seemingly desperate effort to pay off its mountain of debt from years of ill-conceived acquisitions)

Last week, in a final indignity, the company, which had been one of the original Dow Industrial Average listings when that index was created back in 1896, was kicked off that widely followed list of Wall Street’s largest and most important firms, embarrassingly replaced by the pharmacy chain Walgreens.

Baby-Snatching Practice Blocked Motherhood For 20-million Seconds

Justice system abuses mothers with no apologies

Debbie Africa with son Mike Jr. (right) and lawyer Brad Thomson (left). LBW PhotoDebbie Africa with son Mike Jr. (right) and lawyer Brad Thomson (left). LBW Photo
 
The piercing, bone-deep pain for a parent from having their child forcefully snatched away by authorities is a hurt Debbie Sims Africa knows in horrific ways.

The immense suffering some immigrant parents currently experience -- triggered by the child-snatching/ family separation anti-immigration policies pursued by the Trump Administration on America’s southern border – is something that impacts Africa very personally.

On August 8, 1978 authorities in Philadelphia, literally snatched Africa’s two-year-old daughter from her arms.

A few weeks later when Africa gave birth to her son, Philadelphia authorities snatched him away also.

For more than 39-years Africa could not do what she wanted to do all her life: be a lovingly embracing, nurturing and protective mother.

Those 39-plus years Africa lived with that agony of unfulfilled motherhood are more than 467-months: more than 14,200-days, more than 341,640-minutes and more than 20.5-milion seconds.

On August 8, 1978 Philadelphia police arrested Africa following a shootout between police and members of the radical MOVE organization where a policeman was killed. Africa is a member of MOVE – in fact, a niece of MOVE founder John Africa. (All MOVE members utilize Africa as their last name.)

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