Friday, October 8, 2021

Legalienate Shocker! Wisdom Appears in a High Place . . .

"The best way to dominate and gain control over people is to spread despair and discouragement, even under the guise of defending certain values. Today, in many countries, hyperbole, extremism and polarization have become political tools. Employing a strategy of ridicule, suspicion and relentless criticism, in a variety of ways one denies the right of others to exist or to have an opinion. Their share of the truth and their values are rejected and, as a result, the life of society is impoverished and subjected to the hubris of the powerful. Political life no longer has to do with healthy debates about long-term plans to improve people’s lives and to advance the common good, but only with slick marketing techniques primarily aimed at discrediting others. In this craven exchange of charges and counter-charges, debate degenerates into a permanent state of disagreement and confrontation."

                                  

                         ----------Pope Francis

Friday, October 1, 2021

We Are More Than Our Ethnicity, Race, Religion, Gender, and Nationality, Much More

" . . . to accept nativism is to accept the consequences of imperialism, the racial, religious, and political divisions imposed by imperialism itself. To leave the historical world for the metaphyiscs of essences like negritude, Irishness, Islam, or Catholicism is to abandon history for essentializations that have the power to turn human beings against one another; often this abandonment of the secular world has led to a sort of millenarianism if the movement has had a mass base, or it has degenerated into small-scale private craziness, or into an unthinking acceptance of stereotypes, myths, animosities, and traditions encouraged by imperialism. Such programs are hardly what great resistance movements had imagined as their goals.

 " . . . it is impossible to avoid the combative, assertive early stages in the nativist identity - they always occur: Yeats's early poetry is not only about Ireland but about Irishness - there is a good deal of promise in getting beyond them, not remaining trapped in the emotional self-indulgence of celebrating one's own identity (emphasis added). There is first of all the possibility of discovering a world not constructed out of warring essences. Second, there is the possibility of a universalism that is not limited or coercive, which believing that all people have one single identity is - that all the Irish are only Irish, Indians Indians, Africans Africans, and so on ad nauseam. Third, and most important, moving beyond nativism does not mean abandoning nationality, but it does mean thinking of local identity as not exhaustive, and therefore not being anxious to confine oneself to one's own sphere, with its ceremonies of belonging, its built-in chauvinism, and its limiting sense of security."

"In any case nativism is not the only alternative. There is the possibility of a more generous and pluralistic vision of the world, in which imperialism courses on, as it were, belatedly in different forms (the North-South polarity of our own time is one), and the relationship of domination continues, but the opportunities for liberation are open.  . . . In this phase liberation . . . is the new alternative, liberation which by its very nature involves, in Fanon's words, a transformation of social consciousness . . .. " 

 

--------Edward Said, Culture And Imperialism, pps. 228-230 

Wednesday, September 29, 2021

The Joy of Living In a "Free Market"

"How in the hell could a man enjoy being awakened at 6:30 a.m. by an alarm clock, leap out of bed, dress, force-feed, piss, brush teeth, and fight traffic to get to a place where essentially you made lots of money for somebody else and were asked to be grateful for the opportunity to do so?"

Charles Bukowski, Factotum, 1975

Monday, September 27, 2021

Kareem Abdul Jabbar Calls For Player Vaccine Mandate In NBA

 “The NBA should insist that all players and staff are vaccinated or remove them from the team. There is no room for players who are willing to risk the health and lives of their teammates, the staff and the fans simply because they are unable to grasp the seriousness of the situation or do the necessary research. What I find especially disingenuous about the vaccine deniers is their arrogance at disbelieving immunology and other medical experts. Yet, if their child was sick or they themselves needed emergency medical treatment, how quickly would they do exactly what those same experts told them to do?”

 

--------Kareem Abdul Jabbar, September 26, 2021

Saturday, September 11, 2021

The Hopeless Stupidity of 9/11 Conspiracies - by Matt Taibbi

 

Matt Taibi in  Rolling Stone : THE LOW POST: The Hopeless Stupidity of 9/11 Conspiracies.

9/11 Truth is the lowest form of conspiracy theory, because it doesn't offer an affirmative theory of the crime.

Forget for a minute all those Internet tales about inexplicable skyscraper fires, strange holes in the ground at Shanksville and mysterious flight manifestoes. What is the theory of the crime, according to the 9/11 Truth movement?

Strikingly, there is no obvious answer to that question, since for all the many articles about "Able Danger" and the witnesses who heard explosions at Ground Zero, there is not -- at least not that I could find -- a single document anywhere that lays out a single, concrete theory of what happened, who ordered what and when they ordered it, and why. There obviously is such a theory, but it has to be pieced together by implication, by paying attention to the various assertions of 9/11 lore (the towers were mined, the Pentagon was really hit by a cruise missile, etc.) and then assembling them later on into one single story.

The specifics vary, but the basic gist of what They Say Happened goes something like this:

A group of power-hungry neocons, led by Dick Cheney, Paul Wolfowitz, Bush and others and organizationally represented by groups like the Project for the New American Century, seeks to bring about a "Pearl-Harbor-like event" that would accelerate a rightist revolution, laying the political foundation for invasions of Afghanistan and Iraq.

Your basic Reichstag fire scenario, logical enough so far. Except in this story, the Reichstag fire is an immensely complicated media hoax; the conspirators plot to topple the World Trade Center and pin a series of hijackings on a group of Sunni extremists with alleged ties to Al Qaeda. How do they topple the Trade Center? Well, they make use of NORAD's expertise in flying remote-control aircraft and actually fly two such remote-control aircraft into the Towers (in another version of the story, they conspire with Al Qaeda terrorists to actually hijack the planes), then pass the planes off as commercial jetliners in the media. But it isn't the plane crashes that topple the buildings, but bombs planted in the Towers that do the trick.

For good measure -- apparently to lend credence to the hijacking story -- they then fake another hijacking/crash in the Pentagon, where there actually is no plane crash at all but instead a hole created by a cruise missile attack, fired by a mysterious "white jet" that after the attack circles the White House for some time, inspiring the attention of Secret Service agents who point at it curiously from the ground (apparently these White House Secret Service agents were not in on the plot, although FBI agents on scene at Ground Zero and in Shanksville and elsewhere were).

Lastly, again apparently to lend weight to the whole hijacking cover story, they burn a big hole in the ground in Pennsylvania and claim that a jet went down there, crashed by a bunch of brave fictional civilians who fictionally storm the fictional plane cabin. The real-life wife of one of the fictional heroes, Lisa Beamer, then writes a convincingly self-serving paean/memoir to her dead husband, again lending tremendous verisimilitude to the hijacking story. These guys are good!

Just imagine how this planning session between Bush, Rummy and Cheney must have gone:

BUSH: So, what's the plan again?

CHENEY: Well, we need to invade Iraq and Afghanistan. So what we've decided to do is crash a whole bunch of remote-controlled planes into Wall Street and the Pentagon, say they're real hijacked commercial planes, and blame it on the towelheads; then we'll just blow up the buildings ourselves to make sure they actually fall down.

RUMSFELD: Right! And we'll make sure that some of the hijackers are agents of Saddam Hussein! That way we'll have no problem getting the public to buy the invasion.

CHENEY: No, Don, we won't.

RUMSFELD: We won't?

CHENEY: No, that's too obvious. We'll make the hijackers Al Qaeda and then just imply a connection to Iraq.

RUMSFELD: But if we're just making up the whole thing, why not just put Saddam's fingerprints on the attack?

CHENEY: (sighing) It just has to be this way, Don. Ups the ante, as it were. This way, we're not insulated if things go wrong in Iraq. Gives us incentive to get the invasion right the first time around.

BUSH: I'm a total idiot who can barely read, so I'll buy that. But I've got a question. Why do we need to crash planes into the Towers at all? Since everyone knows terrorists already tried to blow up that building complex from the ground up once, why don't we just blow it up like we plan to anyway, and blame the bombs on the terrorists?

RUMSFELD: Mr. President, you don't understand. It's much better to sneak into the buildings ourselves in the days before the attacks, plant the bombs and then make it look like it was exploding planes that brought the buildings down. That way, we involve more people in the plot, stand a much greater chance of being exposed and needlessly complicate everything!

CHENEY: Of course, just toppling the Twin Towers will never be enough. No one would give us the war mandate we need if we just blow up the Towers. Clearly, we also need to shoot a missile at a small corner of the Pentagon to create a mightily underpublicized additional symbol of international terrorism -- and then, obviously, we need to fake a plane crash in the middle of fucking nowhere in rural Pennsylvania.

RUMSFELD: Yeah, it goes without saying that the level of public outrage will not be sufficient without that crash in the middle of fucking nowhere.

CHENEY: And the Pentagon crash -- we'll have to do it in broad daylight and say it was a plane, even though it'll really be a cruise missile.

BUSH: Wait, why do we have to use a missile?

CHENEY: Because it's much easier to shoot a missile and say it was a plane. It's not easy to steer a real passenger plane into the Pentagon. Planes are hard to come by.

BUSH: But aren't we using two planes for the Twin Towers?

CHENEY: Mr. President, you're missing the point. With the Pentagon, we use a missile, and say it was a plane.

BUSH: Right, but I'm saying, why don't we just use a plane and say it was a plane? We'll be doing that with the Twin Towers, right?

CHENEY: Right, but in this case, we use a missile. (Throws hands up in frustration) Don, can you help me out here?

RUMSFELD: Mr. President, in Washington, we use a missile because it's sneakier that way. Using an actual plane would be too obvious, even though we'll be doing just that in New York.

BUSH: Oh, OK.

RUMSFELD: The other good thing about saying that it was a passenger jet is that that way, we have to invent a few hundred fictional victims and account for a nonexistent missing crew and plane. It's always better when you leave more cover story to invent, more legwork to do and more possible holes to investigate. Doubt, legwork and possible exposure -- you can't pull off any good conspiracy without them.

BUSH: You guys are brilliant! Because if there's one thing about Americans -- they won't let a president go to war without a damn good reason. How could we ever get the media, the corporate world and our military to endorse an invasion of a secular Iraqi state unless we faked an attack against New York at the hands of a bunch of Saudi religious radicals? Why, they'd never buy it. Look at how hard it was to get us into Vietnam, Iraq the last time, Kosovo?

CHENEY: Like pulling teeth!

RUMSFELD: Well, I'm sold on the idea. Let's call the Joint Chiefs, the FAA, the New York and Washington, D.C., fire departments, Rudy Giuliani, all three networks, the families of a thousand fictional airline victims, MI5, the FBI, FEMA, the NYPD, Larry Eagleburger, Osama bin Laden, Noam Chomsky and the fifty thousand other people we'll need to pull this off. There isn't a moment to lose!

BUSH: Don't forget to call all of those Wall Street hotshots who donated $100 million to our last campaign. They'll be thrilled to know that we'll be targeting them for execution as part of our thousand-tentacled modern-day bonehead Reichstag scheme! After all, if we're going to make martyrs -- why not make them out of our campaign paymasters? Shit, didn't the Merrill Lynch guys say they needed a refurbishing in their New York offices?

RUMSFELD: Oh, they'll get a refurbishing, all right. Just in time for the "Big Wedding"!

ALL THREE: (cackling) Mwah-hah-hah!

You get the idea. None of this stuff makes any sense at all. If you just need an excuse to assume authoritarian powers, why fake a plane crash in Shanksville? What the hell does that accomplish? If you're using bombs, why fake a hijacking, why use remote-control planes? If the entire government apparatus is in on the scam, then why bother going to all this murderous trouble at all -- only to go to war a year later with a country no one even bothered to falsely blame for the attacks? You won't see any of this explored in 9/11 Truth lore, because the "conspiracy" they're describing is impossible everywhere outside a Zucker brothers movie -- unbelievably stupid in its conception, pointlessly baroque and excessive in its particulars, but flawless in its execution, with no concrete evidence left behind and tens of thousands keeping their roles a secret forever.

We are to imagine that not one of Bush's zillions of murderous confederates would slip and leave real incriminating evidence anywhere along the way, forcing us to deduce this massive crime via things like the shaking of a documentary filmmaker's tripod before the Towers' collapse (aha, see that shaking -- it must have been a bomb planted by the president and his ten thousand allies!). Richard Nixon was a hundred times smarter than Bush, and he couldn't prevent leaks and cries of anguished pseudo-conscience from sprouting among a dozen intimately involved conspirators -- but under the 9/11 conspiracy theory, even the lowest FBI agent used to seal off the crime scene never squeaks. It's absurd.

I challenge a 9/11 Truth leader like Loose Change writer Dylan Avery to come up with a detailed, complete summary of the alleged plot -- not the bits and pieces, but the whole story, put together -- that would not make any fifth grader anywhere burst out in convulsive laughter. And without that, all the rest of it is bosh and bunkum, on the order of the "sonar evidence" proving the existence of the Loch Ness monster. If you can't put all of these alleged scientific impossibilities together into a story that makes sense, then all you're doing is jerking off -- and it's not like no one's ever done that on the Internet before.

Whenever anyone chooses to dismiss 9/11 conspiracy theorists, accusations fly; the Internet screams that you've aided and abetted George Bush. I disagree. To me, the 9/11 Truth movement is, itself, a classic example of the pathology of George Bush's America. Bush has presided over a country that has become hopelessly divided into insoluble, paranoid tribes, one of which happens to be Bush's own government. All of these tribes have things in common; they're insular movements that construct their own reality by cherry-picking the evidence they like from the vast information marketplace, violently disbelieve in the humanity of those outside their ranks, and lavishly praise their own movement mediocrities as great thinkers and achievers. There are as many Thomas Paines in the 9/11 Truth movement as there are Isaac Newtons among the Intelligent Design crowd.

There's not a whole lot of difference, psychologically, between Sean Hannity's followers believing liberals to be the same as terrorists, and 9/11 Truthers believing even the lowest soldier or rank-and-file FAA or NORAD official to be a cold-blooded mass murderer. In both cases you have to be far gone enough into your private world of silly tribal bullshit that the concept of "your fellow citizen" has ceased to have any meaning whatsoever. It may be that America has become too big and complicated for most people to deal with being part of. People are longing for a smaller, stupider reality. Some, like Bush, sell a prepackaged version. Others just make theirs up out of thin air. God help us.

 

Monday, September 6, 2021

 
 

Seeing the Forest for the Trees
 
On this Labor Day 2021, we need to think long and hard about our unprecedented planetary climate crisis and how it affects working people.  While many of us are organizing on important discrete issues and movements, it's important also to look at the big picture, and "see the forest for the trees." Working people have most too lose and most to gain by coming together in these times.

On August 9, 2021, UN Secretary-General António Guterres has stated that a recent UN report is "a code red for humanity. The alarm bells are deafening, and the evidence is irrefutable.” See his full statement HERE.

Scientists are taking an urgent tone because serious action has not yet materialized.

The reality is that we are heading full-speed into a brick wall if we don’t act swiftly and boldly to prevent a climate catastrophe. Already, we see the consequences. There are hurricanes, tornadoes and massive flooding in the U.S and around the world, as we speak. In California, we are all too familiar with the unprecedented wildfires and of course ongoing droughts. People have lost their loved ones, their homes and their livelihoods. This at a time where we are still feeling the health and economic impacts of a global pandemic. And in many ways, the pandemic has deepened our understanding of a system that no longer serves us – a system that puts profit before human life. We must transfer this knowledge of an inept system that brought us COVID (which continues to haunt us) to the climate crisis which threatens our very survival on this planet.

How did this climate crisis happen? Who is most responsible?

I agree with Jeremy Corbyn (Britain’s Labour Party member of parliament) who stated:  “The political and economic system we live in does not produce climate change by accident but by design, rewarding big polluters and resource extractors with superprofits.”

That is why I believe that this climate crisis is indeed a class issue. It is the richest among us who have created it, and it is poorest among us who are suffering the most and will continue to suffer deeply if we don’t stop those most responsible.

What are our choices?

While many talk about the need for stopping this run-away climate crisis, and various policy changes and models of organizing have been suggested and some actions taken, the fact of the matter is that we are not doing enough.
I think the future requires us all to play a role and that means class struggle. Class struggle in the climate crisis means forcing corporations to stop harming our planet.

The choice is up to us. Do we recoil in fear and hope that somehow things will work out?  Do we think those profiting most from our society (big corporations, including the fossil fuel industry) will somehow make the right decisions and bring us out of the climate crisis before it’s too late? Or do we chart out a new path, one that is inclusive of all working class people fighting together for a livable planet and a future that puts life and dignity first?

The fact is that we live in a system that has allowed the top 1% of Americans to have about 16 times more wealth than the bottom 50% of us. See this recent article HERE.

But this should not cause us to feel overwhelmed or recoil in fear. There is much we can do. We can make transformative change!

While we are faced with enormous challenges, it is essential that we operate not from fear but from courage. We must not run from the truth. And the truth is that the profit-system will not save us. We can be our own saviors if we act from a place courage, love and solidarity rather than fear. We can push oil companies to start de-commissioning their refining capacity and to make whole cities in which these oil profiteers have made their billions over the past century with exploitation of communities and the environment.

Richmond – a city with a history of working class struggle

In Richmond, we have struggled for decades for health, justice, sustainability, opportunities, peace, and prosperity. We have made some great strides in past years, including in 2021 thus far (see HERE), but the gravity of the crises we face require much more from us all. These strides must continue and must be ramped up.

Soon we will have a consultant on board the City of Richmond that will be reaching out to the community to discuss a local Green-Blue New Deal and a Just Transition from a fossil fuel based economy.

Connecting the dots – how we move forward

While we need to draw on the experts and consultants in terms of how best to shift our policies, our economy and our lifestyles into a sustainable future, nothing will make a difference unless we organize. It is possible and we have no time to waste to bring together a mass base, a working class coalition. Climate change affects all the material conditions in which we, as working class people, live. It affects housing, energy, food, and transport. Traditional working class demands for a job guarantee, decent wages, good benefits, working conditions, and leisure time intersect fully with the struggle for a sustainable climate.

By focusing working-class power (which is the power of the vast majority of us) on winning the climate struggle, we can and will move forward.
The labor movement needs to connect with the climate movement and visa versa. Our lives and our future are indeed at stake.

On this Labor Day, as we celebrate our successes and we recommit to the ongoing struggle for workers’ rights, let’s hold our heads high as the champions who will ultimately win the battle for a sustainable planet for each and every one of us and our descendants to live healthy and productive lives.

In solidarity,
Gayle McLaughlin
Richmond City Councilmember, District 5
www.gayleforrichmond.org


Friday, August 27, 2021

As A Last Resort U.S. Finally Does the Right Thing: Turns Tail and Runs From Afghanistan

"One of the reasons Biden is having such a hard time making the case for the U.S.'s exit from Afghanistan is that he is congenitally inarticulate and he has no one around him who can make the case for him. Nearly everyone in both parties has been corrupted by this war: voted for it, funded it, planned it, rationalized it, stood silent as it started, very early on, to go bad, closed their eyes to drone killings, torture, and an occupation with no end. Even Bernie Sanders and Ron Paul. They own this war and the war ended up owning them. Aside from Barbara Lee, there aren't any heroes in this 40-year-long fiasco. But if Biden can stand firm as he's ambushed from all sides, not retreat from his retreat, and finally bring the occupation to an end, he'll go down in the history books a lot more credibly than the jackals who are assailing him."

----Jeffrey St. Clair, "Hour of the Goat," Counterpunch, 8/27/21