Friday, January 15, 2021

Three Cheers For "Baseless"

Whether Donald Trump's behavior on January 6 actually meets the legal definition of "coup" or "insurrection," or merely represents the umpteenth "triggering" of Democrats eager to benefit from the latest whirlwind of Trumpian chaos, remains to be seen.

While this weighty matter is sorted out, perhaps we can take a moment to reflect on the bright side of having had Donald Trump as president. One thing we ought to appreciate is that his fast-flowing river of verbal bullshit has finally persuaded the media to call out a presidential assertion for being "baseless." This constitutes a long-overdue advance in our national political vocabulary, one that should be applied to previous occupants of the Oval Office in the following manner:

George W. Bush's baseless claim of Weapons of Mass Destruction in Iraq led directly to killing hundreds of thousands of innocent people.

Barack Obama's baseless view that Wikileaks publishing accurate information constituted an attack on the United States means that journalism is actually treason in his mind.

Bill Clinton's baseless notion that blowjobs are not sex raises the possibility that Gore Vidal died a virgin.

George Herbert Walker Bush's baseless claim that Saddam Hussein's troops disconnected babies from incubators and left them on the cold floor to die was used to invade Iraq and kill 200,000 people (Pentagon estimate).

Ronald Reagan advanced the laughably baseless claim that tiny Nicaragua posed a national security threat to the United States. 

Born Again Jimmy Carter promoted the baseless view that Bronze Age religious legends are an appropriate real estate guide to the contemporary Middle East.

Richard Nixon stuck to his baseless view that lowering U.S. troop deployments while carrying out technological extermination of hundreds of thousands of people throughout Indochina constituted a policy of peace and honor.   

Gerald Ford claimed without evidence that pardoning Richard Nixon's criminal conduct and papering over wholesale extermination in Vietnam was a form of national healing.

Lyndon Johnson's baseless allegation of "open aggression on the high seas" by North Vietnam was a transparent attempt to justify his own far broader aggression in Indochina.

In order to invade the island, John F. Kennedy baselessly claimed that Cuba was a "dagger" pointed at the United States.

President Eisenhower baselessly accused Julius and Ethel Rosenberg of causing the Korean War.

Harry Truman claimed without evidence that sit-in protesters at lunch counters in Greensboro, North Carolina were Communist-controlled.

Franklin Roosevelt baselessly claimed that Benito Mussolini was an "admirable Italian gentleman" in a letter to a friend.

James Polk claimed without evidence that Mexico "shed American blood on the American soil" after U.S. soldiers invaded Mexico in 1846. 

Teddy Roosevelt baselessly claimed that the Anglo Saxon annihilation of Indian nations was an act of world benefaction, in that it replaced a "savage" race by a "virile" race. 

In 1783, George Washington said baselessly that wolves and Indians were both "beasts of prey," differing "in shape," but not substance.

Andrew Jackson baselessly asserted that "civilized" white settlers could not be bound by "treaties with the Indians," who he insisted were savages. 

Abraham Lincoln baselessly claimed that "there is a physical difference between the white and black races" that prevents social and political equality.

Thomas Jefferson never overcame his baseless view that black people were intellectually inferior to whites.

Woodrow Wilson enthusiastically endorsed the baseless KKK view (depicted in D. W. Griffiths's "Birth of a Nation") that elected black legislators were glorified apes, black house servants doddering idiots, and all black men racially programmed to rape white women. 

While replacing Spanish colonial rule with U.S. imperial rule, William McKinley baselessly claimed that "the spirit of all our acts" in Cuba "has been an earnest and unselfish desire for peace and prosperity."

The consistent adoption of this single word to take note of our presidents' endless parade of lies, distortions, and absurdities could transform American political life from top to bottom. Instead of regarding them as exceptionally meritorious "public servants" devoted to wise stewardship of the nation, which view cannot begin to account for our present circumstances, we might - by consistently calling out the empirical bankruptcy of their views - more accurately see them as pathological liars and conceited frauds whose dedication to profit, flag, and anthem directly undermines "the general welfare" the Constitution supposedly obligates them to promote. At that point the indignation currently targeting Donald Trump for trying to overturn a single election might more appropriately be directed at the entire political class and its lapdogs in the corporate media, whose accomplishments in successfully rigging electoral outcomes on behalf of rich moral imbeciles vastly exceed Donald Trump's most ambitious imaginings.


Friday, January 8, 2021

The Majority Minority

 We've had four years of a rolling coup AGAINST Trump by the "liberal" establishment which refused to recognize the legitimacy of his 2016 election. Now Trump's counter-coup has failed. Note the language Trump used to address the mob: "You are very special." This is the language of identity politics, in which victim minorities are used to fragment a working-class majority and insure that it never rules. Now the white mob loyal to Trump is declaring - loud and clear - that as the biggest "minority" group of all - the "majority minority" if you will, it has the right to rule. The majority minority voted against Biden, so Trump should continue as president, they think. To achieve a real majority we need an identity in common, that is, an experience of democratic citizenship that unites us all. We've got work to do.

Thursday, January 7, 2021

Sick and Twisted Rhetoric Stuns Democratic Governor

Representative Mary Miller (R) Illinois is being widely condemned for favorably quoting Hitler at a pro-Trump rally yesterday. What was the Nazi dictator right about? Allegedly this:

 

"Hitler was right on one thing." said Miller. "He said, whoever has youth, has the future." 


This was too much for Illinois Governor J. B. Pritzger, who is Jewish, and immediately called these remarks "unfathomable" and "disgusting." "Hitler got nothing right," said an indignant Pritzger. 


"This reprehensible rhetoric has no place in our politics." (italics added)

 

Next up: Goering condemned for sick views on water being wet.

 

Source: Democracy Now, January 7, 2021

Sunday, January 3, 2021

New Year's Resolution: Abolish Capitalism

 "Since money does not disclose what has been transformed into it, everything, whether a commodity or not, is convertible into gold. Everything becomes saleable and purchasable. Circulation is the great social retort into which everything is thrown and out of which everything is recovered as crystallized money. Not even the bones of the saints are able to withstand this alchemy; and still less able to withstand it are more delicate things, sacrosanct things which are outside the commercial traffic of men. Just as all qualitative differences between commodities are effaced in money, so money, a radical leveller, effaces all distinctions. But money itself is a commodity, an external object, capable of becoming the private property of an individual. Thus social power becomes private power in the hands of a private person."


                                          -------Karl Marx


Source: Lewis Mumford, Technics and Civilization, (Harcourt, 1934) pps. 23-4

Saturday, January 2, 2021

Defund The Pentagon: Refund The People

 


 

“When profit determines every outcome of social and economic life, the minority politics of lesser evil wins again, and again, and again.”

Anonymous

 

 

The pandemic has heightened public awareness of the injustice of a political economic system that profits private wealth at massive loss to the public good. All talk of change that simply involves different individuals serving in positions of responsibility but committed to maintain rather than radically transform that system are support for a status quo that will eventually destroy more people and the rest of nature than has so far been the case. We need political representation dedicated to that transformation and not simply trading fake right wing loonies and hustlers for fake left wing hustlers and loonies. Further attempted maintenance of a system that grows food not to feed people but to be sold for profit at the market, that transforms forests into lumber not to bring people into shelter but to be sold for profit at the market and provides overwhelming force to enable more profit making for some at increasing loss to most spells ultimate doom for all.

 

 These essentially anti-social practices which are very profitable for some of us, as was slavery, are highly unjust and disastrous to many more, as was slavery. It’s time for a change of substance and not just symbols.

 

Purging language of hurtful speech is important but calling poor people millionaires or hungry people well fed or tearing down a statue or monument while continuing to build slums and bombs are only change for those who can afford to privately profit from such things.  The socially responsible things some of us do and support can make us feel good about ourselves by forgetting or remaining ignorant of a system that only does good for some by causing dreadful suffering to others.

 

 

The horrible image of a non-resistant man having his life smothered by a policeman’s knee on his neck has been seen by millions and provoked pain and outrage leading to demonstrations calling to “defund the police”.  Defund the police? How about defunding the pentagon? Which institution is sought for protection of Americans by other Americans and how often does it murder innocents in the process? And to which institution do taxpayers contribute hundreds of billions of dollars every year? We spend 100 billion a year on the police and local defense but more than 700 billion on international defense. Where do you feel less safe and more in need of protection?

 

Anyone ever phone the pentagon if they were burglarized? Their car was stolen? They were assaulted, robbed or raped? Heard a scream or gunshot in the night? How much do we pay for the “protection” allegedly given us by the military industrial complex, aptly named by a republican president, by comparison to the local police? But it turns out that poor strangled victim was very safe from attack by Russia, which we surround with military bases on its border, thousands of miles from our own, or China, where we sail an armada in the South China Sea, so named because it is south of China, not California, New York or Mississippi. Thankfully, that poor victim was kept safe by the pentagon. But how threatened by racist low income American reality was he? And how many more like him who are brain washed into fear of Russia and China while ducking American bullets in neighborhoods and communities that would make most Russians and especially Chinese gasp, “They tolerate this? And fear us?” That’s what all the demonstrators pay for, along with the rest of

us, whether we support, oppose, daydream or go hungry during the foreign wars which we fight every single day, slaughtering thousands of innocents at enormous expense and mostly oblivious to public consciousness and action.

 

We also hear justifiable calls to cancel student debt. But why not all debt for earners of less than 100K? How many of them could even qualify for a student loan or even entertain thoughts of going to college where a majority of Americans never go unless they are there to make a delivery or clean toilets?

 

 

 

 

Voter fraud is also an important issue but voter purchase is an infinitely larger problem in an alleged democracy with billions spent on national elections, hundreds of millions on state votes, and hundreds of thousands on local elections. This farce dominated by great wealth to entice ordinary people into maintaining support of criminal inequality is as democratic as the corona virus is a sign of good health. We just had more than 6 billion dollars spent on a presidential election and more than 14 billion on electing congress and state “representatives” overwhelmingly by and for private wealth under that name of democracy. If that is democracy then rape is a cost effective form of dating. Just have someone with a doctorate in economics explain how skipping dinner and the movie and getting right to the sex can profit the aggressor. Sure it’s at loss to the victim but hey, everyone can’t profit in a private profit system. That may seem a stretch but it isn’t to those hundreds of millions slaughtered in our (?) wars who might, as we vote for polio to avoid cancer, choose rape over death. No one sleeping in a doorway, under a highway overpass or in a tent is doing so because they chose it in something alleged to be a free market, though absolutely nothing at the market is free unless you steal it.  And even then, unless your theft is in the millions, you can end up in jail, prison, or underneath that overpass or in that doorway.

 

The identity of a person or a group, the current method of ruling class division to prevent human class democracy, is far more influential with money than without. If you owe, you owe, no matter your skin tone, genitalia, religion or language. A near moron born into the 5% share of American millionaire households is in far better economic condition than a brilliant child born to the other 95%, whether in slums, the projects, middle class gated communities or lower class gated jails. The rich kid is a massive property owner at birth; the poor kid will be lucky to survive as a renter. This is a lousy social reality put over on all of us as an equal rights democratic society and those who claim to be “woke” who are not hip to this dirty “joke” are as regressive in essence as their supposedly sleep walking opposition.

 

The all-powerful cosmic force of nature under assault by a demented social system threatens to foreclose on humanity. It is time for the peasants to take over the plantation, the workers to take over the mills and the people to take over the banks, united in democratic action to do that and more. Taking back the money they have taken from us and using it for the things we most need is a truly democratic project a majority of us can join in transforming reality from the present growing nightmare into a blossoming of humanity.

 

We all need food , clothing, shelter and health care but none of us are served by market forces governing our ability to get  them. The public good should be served before any private profit is even allowed. Taking hundreds of billions away from warfare that protects capital and murders humans will not just save money to be better used on what humanity really needs. We could have better trained police working in far less dangerous and more humane communities and far more and better paid teachers, health care workers and bus drivers to serve the overwhelming majority of people’s real needs.  Businesses owned and run by their employees, public banks, an end to poverty and the beginning of real equality and social justice will be far more achievable once we reclaim our funds and use them for majority humanity’s well being and not for minority  inhumanitarian profits.

 

Monday, December 28, 2020

British Medical Educator Aghast At Mass Travel During Raging Pandemic

 "I've just listened to a popular news report. There's one hundred and fifteen million people traveling for Christmas and New Year in the United States. One hundred and fifteen million people traveling. Can this be true? Can an intelligent, sophisticated nation like the United States embark on this suicidal path? It appears so. One hundred and fifteen million people are traveling. So let me tell you what this means. It means the infection is spreading rampantly. It means we're going to get a massive increase in diagnosed cases in the next week or two. It means that cases are going to absolutely surge in January, the beginning and the middle of January. The first three weeks in January cases are going to absolutely surge and that means hospitalizations and deaths will surge towards the end of January. This is like night follows day. This will happen."

 

        --------Dr. John Campbell, December 24, 2020

Saturday, December 26, 2020

Debating Chomsky on Lesser Evilism, BLM, Stolen Elections, and Responsibility For WWII

Noam Chomsky has long stated that the judgment as to which of two candidates represents the lesser evil is a virtual no-brainer, requiring no more than a few minutes time to make. So how come he himself can't make it? To wit:

 

In a July, 2020 interview he declared that there “was a big difference” between Hubert Humphrey and Richard Nixon in the 1968 presidential elections, a difference “you could count in several million corpses in Indochina.” But, Chomsky added, “a lot of the young people on the left said, “I’m not going to vote for Humphrey. He’s a corporate Democrat. I can’t sully my hands on that. So I won’t vote.” In effect, said Chomsky, this meant that they “help[ed] Nixon win,” and more specifically, they “help[ed] kill a couple million people in Indochina, plus a lot of other (bad) things.”
 

In other words, Humphrey was the lesser evil in 1968.

 

Twenty years ago, speaking with David Barsamian of Alternative Radio about the very same elections, Chomsky said the opposite:
 
“I could not bring myself to vote for Humphrey. I did not vote for Nixon. But my feeling at the time, and in retrospect I think it’s probably correct, was that a Nixon victory was probably marginally beneficial in winding down the Indochina wars, probably faster than the Democrats would have. It was horrendous, but maybe less horrible than it would have been.

 
In short, Nixon was the lesser evil in 1968.

 

So Chomsky disagrees with himself on this topic. The question is why.

 

Unless he's lying, which is extremely unlikely, the answer has to be that determining the lesser evil between two appalling choices is not so easy, and certainly not the no-brainer Chomsky claims it is.  

 

A further contradiction involves what Chomsky calls an "organizing space," which he claims it is very important to have. Under Biden, he alleges, organizers will at least have some room to present their case and agitate for it to be adopted, whereas under Trump he claims this space does not exist, or won't be effective, which amounts to the same thing.

 

But for years he has said that organizing is a function of popular will, not of what already exists to be taken advantage of. He's pointed out that "people have gotten themselves organized" in far more difficult circumstances than those that prevail in the United States, mentioning El Salvador in the 1980s as an example. There, a largely peasant society was subjected to near-genocide, but got itself organized and became part of the power structure, though the basic class conflict is far from resolved even today. Still, Chomsky is right to point to it as a success of popular organizing.

 

But today, he says, effective organizing is an impossibility in the U.S. because Donald Trump. 

 

Tell it to the ghost of Archbishop Romero.

 

Furthermore, the phenomenon of Democratic Party "tolerance" for mass movements raises other issues. For example, this past summer Democratic leaders sanctioned mass protests of the George Floyd murder, but this contradicted their previous warnings that mass congregations were deadly super-spreader events. New York Mayor Bill de Blasio absurdly announced that all mass gatherings were banned for public health reasons, except for BLM protests. Chomsky implicitly praised the BLM protesters by observing that they were risking their lives (in a presumed noble cause), but made no mention of their infecting and killing other people, which public health warnings indicate they inevitably did.  Subsequent announcements to the effect that American race relations are a public health emergency, too, and therefore BLM protests deserve to be excused from coronavirus guidelines, were unconvincing in their partisanship, inasmuch as small business owners protesting the destruction of their livelihoods failed to qualify for a similar exemption. 


This can only encourage the conclusion that liberals and leftists are interested in virtue-signaling for their pet causes, not in justice for all. 

 

Yet more double standards emerge from the whole issue of Trump's brazen attempt to steal the 2020 elections, which are not over even now.  After all, Chomsky concedes that JFK stuffed the ballot in order to win the 1960 election, but praises Nixon's forbearance in accepting the illegitimate result for the good of the country. This is a curious stance. The implication would seem to be that we should just accept it if Trump fails to vacate the Oval Office come January 20. 

 

 Yes, for the sake of consistency, folks, a second term for the Donald -  an unearned one, just like JFK got! 

 

And unlike JFK, Trump actually won legitimately - in 2016 - but the DNC, the entire corporate media (except for Fox), and the intelligence agencies refused to concede the fact, spending four years carrying out a rolling coup d'etat against him. Attempts were made to make electors in the electoral college vote for someone other than Trump, show trials were carried out in the media (Russiagate, etc.), tech giant censorship was eagerly promoted, and on and on and on.  

 

But now the only thing that allegedly matters is Trump's counter-coup. Long live hypocrisy. 


Finally, Chomsky likes to remind the American left of the 1932 German elections, when social democrats and Communists failed to come together to stop Adolf Hitler from taking power. He places the blame primarily on the Communists for this, as they called everyone but themselves "social fascists," thus suggesting that there was no essential difference between social democrats and Nazis. 


Here Chomsky omits any mention of how the Social Democrats might have come to be so labeled.  For example, in 1924, political scientist Michael Parenti reports, Social Democratic officials in the Ministry of Interior used Reichswehr and Free Corps fascist paramilitary troops to attack left-wing demonstrators. Seven thousand workers were jailed and Communist newspapers were suppressed. Maybe this is why Chomsky concedes that the Social Democrats "weren't much better" than the Communists he condemns.

 

In fact, they may have been worse.  In the December 1932 elections there were three candidates in the running:  the conservative Hindenburg, the Nazi Hitler, and the Communist Thaelmann. Thaelmann argued that a vote for Hindenburg was essentially a vote for Hitler, and would result in war. The Social Democrats joined with the bourgeois press in denouncing this view as "Moscow inspired." Hindenburg was re-elected while Nazi support in the Reichstag dropped by about two million votes from its previous peak. The Social Democrats refused to form a last-minute coalition against Nazism, preferring to side with reactionaries rather than "Reds." 

 

Meanwhile, the right coalesced behind the Nazis, and Hindenburg shortly invited Hitler to become chancellor.

 

After that, it was a long, complicated path to world war, with blame falling on many sides; and without world war, it's extremely unlikely that truly massive killing of Jews and other minorities would have occurred. In other words, the German left's failure to stop Hitler's ascension to power, while lamentable, can't reasonably be held responsible for crimes committed during wartime a decade later. War always has deep roots and multiple causes, and can't be said to be the product of a single election, however important.

 

So there was plenty of blame to go around for the coming of war. For one thing, the fanatical anti-Communism of what later became the Allied powers made it impossible for them to join in a united front with Stalin until far too late, though the overture was repeatedly made. They preferred to turn Hitler loose in the East, where it was happily anticipated he would be massacring Communist hordes, not human beings, who were assumed to exist only in the West.

 

Failure to perceive our common humanity unleashed the demons of our common inhumanity. By the end of the "good war" the "morals of extermination" (Lewis Mumford) emerged as the property of the proud victors as much as they were of the vanquished, witness the mass cremation of Dresden, Hamburg, and Tokyo, and the atomic incinerations of Hiroshima and Nagasaki. 

 

Maybe we should blame American voters for unleashing a genocidal FDR on an unsuspecting world?

 

 Sources:

 

On the 1932 German elections, see Michael Parenti, Blackshirts & Reds - Rational Fascism & the Overthrow of Communism (City Lights, 1997) p. 5 

 

On Humphrey being the lesser evil in 1968, see WowFEST: Lockdown Presents Noam Chomsky “A Letter From America,” You Tube, July 14, 2020

 

On Nixon being the lesser evil in 1968, see Noam Chomsky and David Barsamian, “Propaganda and the Public Mind,” (South End, 2001) p. 136