Saturday, February 23, 2019

Bombshell! . . . Trump Era Over As Legalienate's Editors Proclaim Themselves "Rightful Democratic Rulers" of U.S.

Inspired by Venezuelan opposition leader Juan Guaidó, who proclaimed himself president of Venezuela a month ago, Legalienate editors Frank Scott and Michael Smith have announced that they are the legitimate leaders of the United States and have begun performing executive functions to "restore democracy" and bring the era of "capitalist usurpation" to an end. At a press conference in a bus terminal in Richmond, California, the two men took turns swearing each other in, after which they denied that their action constituted a coup d'etat.

"The people are with us," said Scott. "We represent the majority: Those that refuse to vote, plus those who back candidates opposed to the fake democracy. We are deeply humbled to be the first truly popular government in U.S. history."

"In spite of unique and massive advantages, the country is in disastrous shape, and has been for some time," added Smith. "That alone justifies regime change - check with Thomas Jefferson."

After a brief power struggle, Scott emerged as foreign policy czar and Smith democratic emperor of domestic affairs, although experts warn that further self-proclamations in the near future may alter this state of affairs.

"This is a democracy," said Smith. "Everything belongs to the head of state." 

"That's us," observed Scott.

The two men immediately began forming their cabinet, giving appointments to friends and family members with long records of public service undermining capitalism and imperialism.

"My cousin Vinnie punctured both his eardrums to avoid the mass slaughter in Korea," said Scott. "He has trouble listening to advice, or listening to anything, but at least he knows war is our enemy," said Scott. 

"He'll have peace in a week," added Smith. 

An urgent text message from Kim Jong Un quickly lent credibility to the prediction: "I'll scuttle the nukes for season tickets to the NBA!!!!" Reached for comment, newly appointed ambassador to Pyonyang Dennis Rodman said, "I think that can be arranged."

In order to bring an end to the "pointless wars" Donald Trump promised to terminate but never did, Smith has frozen U.S. government bank accounts around the world.  Newly sworn in Defense Secretary Tulsi Gabbard, ordered by Scott to "cut the crap" about Putin, Assad, and other stand-ins for Satan, announced that the Pentagon will be converted to peaceful production, principally hash pipes and male birth control.

"Make love, not war," said Gabbard, who served in Iraq in 2005 and saw the worst of it. 

In a spiteful move, Donald Trump has refused to leave the White House, citing his "democratic" election in November 2016 as justification. But those elections are widely regarded as fraudulent. "Trump got 46% of the vote in an election that had 58% turnout," said Scott, "which means he won less than 27% of the electorate. That's lower than Nicolas Maduro in Venezuela, who got 31.7% of the electorate there."

"And just look at the mass demonstrations against Trump," added Smith. "Overwhelming numbers of women, ethnic minorities, youth, and gay and transgender people openly dispute his right to rule."

"That's why we have to take over," said Scott, who called upon the armed forces to cooperate with the transition to people power and "do the right thing" with ex-president Trump.

"With that hair of his he actually looks good in an orange jumpsuit," said Smith.

Smith and Scott face accusations that their calls for international "humanitarian aid" to help Americans dying of opiode addiction, poisoned drinking water, and lack of access to medical care, are a Trojan Horse to allow foreign interests to take over the country.

"They're a front for Vladimir Putin," declared Rachel Mad Dog, a popular television talk show host. "Just because we can't give people clean water, medical care, a decent wage, or relief from constant despair, doesn't mean Russian troll farms aren't our biggest problem."

Saturday, February 16, 2019

Horrifying Lack of Democracy At Root of Venezuela Crisis!

Candidate            % of votes       % of reg.

Trump (USA)             46%                 27%
May (Britain)             42.3%              29%
Sanchez (Spain)         22.6%              15%
Macron (France)        24%                 11.69%
Maduro (Venezuela)   67.84%            31.7%
Guaidó (opposition)    0%                  0%

Source: Doug Nicholls, Venezuela Solidarity Campaign (London), quoted on Telesur English, "The World Today With Tariq Ali - No War in Venzuela," You Tube, 2/15/19

Wednesday, February 13, 2019

Why We Need A New Political Party

Seven Major Ways that Progressives have Sought to Reform the Democratic Party Since 2016. And how the Party has Thwarted them All

Alan Benjamin, Editorial Board of The Organizer, interviews Nick Brana, national director of the Movement for a People’s Party and organizer with the Labor-Community Campaign for an Independent Party. Brana lobbied the Democratic superdelegates for Sen. Bernie Sanders on his 2016 presidential campaign. He went on to help found Our Revolution as its first Electoral Manager. Originally printed in The Organizer.

Alan Benjamin: Three months ago, the Democratic Party took back the House of Representatives. Now the media is full of stories about how the Democrats have “shifted to the left” and how “progressives” are poised to take back the party from the “establishment Democrats.” What is the reality behind these stories?

Nick Brana: There is a lot of ground to cover from the past three years, all indicative of how much the Democratic Party has been doing to undermine progressives and working people.

Let me begin with the bigger picture going back to the 2016 election:

As generations of progressives have done before them, Bernie supporters embarked on a renewed mission to reform the Democratic Party after it rigged the presidential primary election. Their first thought was, “What if we try to get a strong platform out of the Democratic Party?"

It turns out that the platform is nonbinding and meaningless. That is why the Party just scrapped the platform passed by the delegates the following year and replaced it with a more conservative one called the “Better Deal.”

Well, next, progressives said, “What if we try to elect a DNC chair to take over the Party apparatus?” It turns out again that the Democratic Party’s members and voters have nothing to do with selecting the leadership of the Party. The DNC members (corporate lobbyists, consultants, and superdelegates) get to pick the Democratic National Committee chair. The Party donors supported Tom Perez, so that’s who we got. Once again the progressives were thwarted by the Party.

So progressives then said, “How about if we replace the DNC members and get a majority?” Well at the DNC’s fall meeting in 2017, the Party simply picked out the progressives and purged them from the National Committee.

The shocked progressives then said, “What if we try to reform the presidential primary process ahead of 2020?” So they pushed for the elimination of superdelegates, open primaries, same-day party registration, and progressive influence on the key Rules Committee, which oversees the primary process. And the DNC Unity Reform Commission was put together to level the playing field and create a fair primary process.

But right from the start, the Democratic Party rigged the commission itself. The Party stacked it with a bunch of consultants, corporate lobbyists and people who participated in rigging the 2016 primary (like Donna Brazile). It also gave all 30 seats on the Rules and Bylaws Committee to establishment loyalists. Not surprisingly, the DNC ended up expanding its control over the primary process.

It kept closed primaries to shut out independent voters who lean progressive. It kept joint fundraising agreements between the DNC and presidential campaigns, which allow establishment candidates to control the Party throughout the primaries like Hillary Clinton did. It slashed the number of states that hold caucuses, which favor progressive candidates. It refused to eliminate superdelegates, moving them to the second ballot at the convention but reserving the right to force a second ballot if they choose.

It introduced a loyalty oath that allows the DNC chair to deny progressives access to the ballot if he deems that the candidate has been insufficiently “faithful” to the Party during their life. And most important, it did nothing to remove corporate and billionaire money from the primary or the Party, ensuring that Wall Street can continue purchasing its politicians.

These rules will have a huge impact on the 2020 Democratic primary. Take the caucuses for instance. Bernie won two-thirds of the caucus states in 2016, while Hillary won three-quarters of the primary states. Bernie was competitive thanks to the caucuses. So the Party leadership said, hey, let’s get rid of them. And that’s what they’re doing.

Undeterred, some of the most hard-core individuals trying to reform the Democratic Party thought, “Well now we’re at the midterms so let’s try to elect some progressive Democrats and take power legislatively.”

When the dust settled in November of 2018, it turned out that the “Blue Wave” had been a corporate wave. The party establishment had successfully blocked all but two of the progressives who challenged incumbent Democrats. Only two progressives unseated House Democrats in all of 2018: Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez and Ayanna Pressley. There are 435 members of Congress.

The other two progressives who are often discussed in the media basically swapped seats with progressives who used to sit there: Rashid Tlaib took John Conyers’ seat and Ilhan Omar took Keith Ellison’s seat.

Dejected progressives thought, “In that case, let’s replace Pelosi as speaker of the House. She is deeply in the pockets of Wall Street and has enriched herself to the tune of $100 million in the course of her public service.”

The Party responded to the dissension by threatening to pick an even more conservative Speaker of the House than Pelosi, someone from the Blue Dog Caucus, for example. This needs to be understood: The opposition to Pelosi becoming Speaker of the House was coming from the right wing of the Party. The majority of the Democratic House Caucus considers Pelosi to be out of step with the Party because she is too far to the left. The Democratic Party is so conservative that Pelosi is now left of center.

As a result, the progressives capitulated and voted to make Nancy Pelosi Speaker again. But they went beyond endorsing her reluctantly. The handful of new progressives launched a campaign to rebrand her as a progressive.

“Pelosi comes from a space of activism and organizing,” said Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez. “No one can really doubt Pelosi’s progressive chops,” stated Pramila Jayapal. “Pelosi has a progressive track record,” added Rashida Tlaib. “Pelosi will play an important role in advancing the agenda of progressives,” said Ilhan Omar.

Over the past three years, progressives have engaged in various efforts to gain influence in the Democratic Party, democratize the Party, and elect progressives to office — and the Party has thwarted them and consolidated its power at every step of the way.

In the midterms, the Party that came back to Washington looks virtually indistinguishable from the one that existed before the midterms. In fact, there the Democrats are more corporate than ever, as they were the ones that the DCCC picked to run. The DCCC in turn worked with the finance-friendly Blue Dog Democrats on candidate recruitment.

The “Blue Wave” was another corporate wave.

So here we are three years after progressives embarked on this venture to try to reform the Democratic Party, and we’re back to square one essentially, with many saying, “Well, let’s try and run a presidential candidate again and hope for the best.”

That’s why the work we are doing as the Labor-Community Campaign for an Independent Party (LCCIP) is so important. We and working people are saying, enough is enough, we’ve learned our lesson: What we need in this country is a major new party, a mass-based party of working people, in order to make change.

Alan Benjamin: Since the midterms, the Democrats have put forward a number of policy positions which, yet again, show their true corporate colors. Could you tell us about PayGo, for example.

Nick Brana: The issue of PayGo is critical. It’s a balanced-budget austerity policy. It stipulates that the government has to offset any increase in spending with an increase in revenue. PayGo makes it virtually impossible to pass progressive legislation, including Medicare for All, free public college, a Green New Deal, and a federal jobs program.

The Democrats pushed to institute this as a rule in Congress. On January 3, the House of Representatives approved PayGo. Only three members of the House Democratic Caucus voted against PayGo, that is one percent of the House Caucus.

All of the new freshmen “progressives,” with the exception of Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez, voted for PayGo. They voted against their own agenda on their first day in office.

Many House Democrats have been saying they support Medicare for All or a Green New Deal — and yet all of them voted to adopt a set of rules that ensures those policies will never see the light of day.

This shows that the Democratic Party is playing the same game it has always played: When it is out of power, as it was after 2016, the Democratic Party turns to Single Payer and other rhetorical progressive promises to win its way back into government. The minute they get into office, they toss those commitments out the window.

Obama and congressional Democrats did the same thing when they were out of power during George W. Bush’s administration. They promised to pass Single Payer and the Employee Free Choice Act, cap carbon emissions, bring the troops home, end mass surveillance, and get money out of politics. Voters put them back into office with a filibuster-proof majority. They reneged on everything.

Alan Benjamin: What ever happened with the Green New Deal Committee?

Nick Brana: That’s another case in point. Nancy Pelosi promised a Green New Deal Committee to the progressive freshmen in exchange for their support of her nomination as House Speaker.

The Democratic Party, however, reduced the much-anticipated committee to a public relations stunt for the fossil fuel industry. It was stripped of the power to pass bills or subpoena speakers, which are the basic powers of any committee. It was reduced to a gimmick.

The Democrats went further. They packed this new committee with corporate Democrats who take fossil fuel money. When progressives objected, the establishment chair of the committee replied that it would be a violation of their First Amendment rights to ask Democratic members of the committee to not take oil and fracking money. In the spirit of Citizens United, she basically said that it’s their right to be bought off.

This novel Democratic precedent states that elected officials can never be asked to relinquish their Wall Street cash — which is important because studies have shown that virtually all of the Congressional Progressive Caucus members take corporate money, as does the rest of the Party.

It is worse than nothing to have a committee that pretends to be doing something, while ensuring that nothing gets done to address climate change and other urgent environmental crises. The fossil fuel companies were quite pleased.

Alan Benjamin: Let’s talk a bit about the Democrats and U.S. foreign policy. There was a vote in the House of Representatives in mid-January on U.S. support for NATO, one of the U.S. government’s major war instruments not only in Europe but across the Middle East. And not a single Democrat voted to oppose NATO. There were 208 votes in favor of NATO, with 26 not voting. All the supposedly militant “progressives” — including Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez — voted to support NATO.

This is one more sign of the militarism that carries the day in the Democratic Party. In 2017, the Democrats authorized more money for war spending than Trump had requested. And there are enormous repercussions for social spending here at home. The war budget, euphemistically called “defense budget,” siphons billions of dollars away from schools, infrastructure, hospitals, and other vital programs.

Now the Trump administration, with full bipartisan support, has orchestrated a coup d’etat in Venezuela and is poised to send 5,000 U.S. troops — in addition to proxy troops from Brazil and Colombia — into Venezuela in the name of “restoring democracy” and “ensuring the delivery of humanitarian aid.” The hypocrisy of it all is sickening.

Nick Brana: Accepting militarism is the price of admission into the Democratic Party. The Party will not allow you to operate if you challenge this.

The war budget consumes 56 percent of federal discretionary spending, a figure that is rising and hollowing out the U.S. economy thanks to bipartisan support. It’s also making the world a much more dangerous place. Just two weeks ago the Bulletin of the Atomic Scientists put humanity at 2 minutes to midnight. Swept up in the new McCarthyism, the U.S. is withdrawing from the Intermediate-Range Nuclear Forces Treaty, a centerpiece of Cold War arms control. Prior to Trump’s withdrawal from the treaty, Obama and the Democrats had already announced plans to spend more than a trillion dollars modernizing U.S. nuclear weapons.

The support for NATO, a military alliance outside of the global U.N. framework, is particularly distressing given that its counterpart, the Warsaw Pact, dissolved with the Soviet Union. Its encroachment on Russia over the past three decades is at the heart of rising international tensions. The bill that recently got unanimous support from the Democrats went beyond expressing support for NATO, it called for an increase in military funding from member countries.

In Venezuela, this is the second coup that the U.S. has orchestrated against the government in the past couple decades. Venezuela has the largest oil reserves in the world and Western companies want to take those resources out of the country’s hands like they did in Iraq. The U.S. and Wall Street have engaged in sanctions and economic warfare to starve the country and provoke a coup, one that they finally orchestrated last month. The coup has not been as successful as Washington hoped, seeing as millions of working poor are loyal to the government, which has dramatically improved their standards of living over the past couple decades. The U.S. corporate parties have celebrated the coup with near-unanimous bipartisanship.

Alan Benjamin: Is there anything else you would like to add to this discussion?

Nick Brana: Yes. I want to emphasize one of the points I made earlier. Many progressives aiming to reform the Democratic Party are trying to get Nancy Pelosi and the current Party leadership out of the way in the hope that they can get a fresh new progressive generation of Democrats to take their place.

But it’s important to understand that the successors to Pelosi and the Party leadership have already been groomed and decided, and they are more right-wing than Pelosi. This includes Ben Ray Lujan, a Democratic Representative from New Mexico who was just made Assistant Speaker of the House. He ran the DCCC for the past four years, where he turned over candidate recruitment and mentoring to the ultra-conservative Blue Dog Democratic Caucus.

It also includes Hakeem Jeffries, a Representative from New York who is now the Chair of the House Democratic Caucus and who got his start as a corporate lawyer for Viacom and CBS.

Also in line for Party leadership is Illinois Representative Cheri Bustos, who received the DCCC Chair post and was an executive in the healthcare industry before she came to Congress.

The next generation of congressional Democratic Party leaders is more conservative than Pelosi, Steny Hoyer and the sitting leadership. They are in their 40s and will literally run the party into the 2050s.

Alan Benjamin: You have talked about the need to have a dynamic Labor-Community Campaign for an Independent Party so that when the 2020 election comes and goes, with yet again another primary rigged against “progressives,” there is something in place so that people can gravitate toward a new mass-based independent party of working people. Why is this so important today?

Nick Brana: We’re on the brink of two major crises. One of them is the fact that the Democratic Party presidential primary has already been rigged, again. The other is that, as many economists are predicting, we are due for another recession. The signs are there, beginning with the recent extreme volatility and loss of confidence in the stock market.

That means there will be these great shocks that will lead to a greater erosion of confidence in the establishment parties that have pushed people to the brink since the Great Recession. Eighty percent of Americans live paycheck to paycheck with little to no savings. So it is vitally important that those of us who understand this history with the Democratic Party be prepared to create a mass-based and corporate-free party of working people. That is the work that LCCIP is engaged in, with 14 union and community organizations representing more than 100,000 members.

The majority of Americans already want a major new party, including an even greater number of young and working people. A large plurality of Americans are also independent, with millions having left the Democratic and Republican parties over the past 15 years. This has happened before another recession and rigged primary rock the country.

Neglecting to form a left alternative to the establishment parties leaves a rapidly widening void in political representation that the far right happily fills. That’s how we got Trump. As horrific as he is, the public’s desperation and rage will only grow as their lives descend further into precarity and distress.

I’ll finish by saying this.

America’s unions have spent billions of worker dollars propping up the Democratic Party over the past several decades. In return the Party has given us plummeting wages, skyrocketing healthcare costs, crushing student debt, job-killing trade deals, and inequality surpassing the Gilded Age. The corporate bosses would never tolerate that kind of return on investment, and neither should we.

Unions couldn’t take over the Democratic Party when 35 percent of the workforce was unionized in the 1940s and 50s. But they have always held a far greater, untapped power — the strength to replace it entirely with a labor-based party. From child labor laws to the 40-hour workweek, America’s greatest victories have been won when unions and social movements joined forces to declare their independence from the parties of Wall Street.

Friday, February 8, 2019

Murder Inc. = U.S. Foreign Policy

The Mafia, a Sicilian-Italian criminal gang that moved to the USA in the late 19th century along with much larger numbers of law abiding immigrants, has become the stuff of romantic Hollywood glorification and demonic media fables. These are a part of grossly over-simplified American mythology about immigrant minorities bringing crime and violence to America’s shores, or delightful multi-cultural social excitement, while avoiding the fact that the overwhelming majority provided cheap foreign labor far more profitable to capital than an American working class. But just as all stereotypes are based on verifiable facts which are then grossly exaggerated, the existence of this crime cartel, especially its subsidiary called “Murder Inc”, has become a synonym used for governments or enemies likened to a “mafia” as though that label settled the case that they must be evil and therefore worthy of American disdain or worse. But a global Murder Inc existed long before these immigrants arrived on our shores and has been infinitely more menacing than this over-dramatized small crime business, relative to the worldwide massacres of conquest and exploitation of its mother country: The USA.

The men in what was called Murder Inc were cold-blooded killers who didn't mind getting rid of anyone who might stand in the way of their pursuit of profit. Sound familiar? But where these criminals,and contrary to much folklore they were Jewish as well as Italian, were limited to local and at best national domination of only some businesses, the nation to which they or their parents had migrated was about much bigger victims. More important, when it comes to inflicting violence the actual Mafia amounts to a pacifist humanitarian NGO by comparison to the massive bloodletting of capital’s greatest organized crime syndicate: the U.S.A.

It began with the nation’s origins as a colonial outpost of foreign wealth, an unexpected result of an early capital financed voyage to find trade routes to the east stumbling upon an entire continent previously unknown to Europeans.The Chinese had arrived years earlier, glanced about and left without disturbing the inhabitants or the terrain.

It continued through the establishment of a land that became a colossus among nations and a homeland to first Europeans, later Africans, Asians and others, all arrivals after being dumped by their native lands as poor and rejected masses, or sold in markets and arriving in physical chains as well as economic bondage. The upside was the progress that resulted to the wealthy owners, some of which was then “trickled down” to the previous poor so that they eventually became a working class of people able to survive at higher material standards than any previous generations, though never remotely close to achieving the comfort level of their rulers.

That situation of having enough survival material, or at least enough  drugs, meds, alcohol or debt, to enable dreams of slightly better life for common folk, has presently reached a point of no return both in America and in the wider world. The system treating earth and its people as simple commodities of profit and loss at something called a “free” market where nothing is available for free nears its end; or humanity’s, which ever comes first.

The massive slaughter of the indigenous people who’d lived here for thousands of years, followed by conquests of the rest of the continent, killed more people in a day than Murder Inc amassed during their brief careers in the crime market. And it got worse as our warlords were given mightier tools to conduct mass murders beyond the imaginations of all but some of the inventors, agents and perpetrators of these crimes.

After two world wars of the 20th century which left most of Europe and Asia in varying stages of destruction, the USA was placed in a position of global dominance, actually having prospered from both those massive international massacres by remaining totally free of their dreadful carnage at home. It remained in that position only by constant subversion of dominated nations which proposed to break from its control, doing so militarily or politically and keeping a majority of ruling powers in foreign countries under its domain. On the one hand, helping wrecked societies by financing – at great profit – their rebuilding, and on the other by collecting interest and resource payments from colonial properties and helping fake democracies elect, in pretense of our own minority rule, a class of leaders performing as puppets and lap dogs, while selling out the interest of their own people in obedience to a global minority getting richer while most of the world and especially their nations grew poorer.

The death toll inflicted on humanity in all wars may amount to astronomical, if unknown numbers, but we can arrive at close to real results of massive bloodlettings like our own 19th century “civil” war, which, we are told, killed some 500,000 of us under the direction of a great man named Abraham Lincoln. This, as opposed to an alleged 500,000 murdered in a 21st century “civil” war in Syria, we are told, led by a terrible monster named Bashir Al Assad. Who runs the nation doing the killing and whether it commits positive or negative murder is decided by those that rulers employ in the labeling class who are of the scholar - propagandist job title. However we may have been led to think of past mass murders and mindful of the fact that distortion of reality is the job of a stenographer class employed by ruling wealth to control mass consciousness, we can compare numbers from many sources and arrive at something close to what actually happened. In the Second World War, for instance, and counting only three bombing raids, we killed more than 200,000 in Dresden, Hiroshima and Nagasaki. We had British accomplices in Dresden while we performed the slaughter of the Japanese all by ourselves. And we only dropped the atomic bomb on Hiroshima in order to save lives, since the invasion of Japan would have killed many more people. Or so we were told by the propagandist-scholars. In fact, when we saw how many lives we’d saved by killing 85,000 in Hiroshima, we dropped another bomb on Nagasaki only three days later and killed another 50,000. Since we only had two atomic bombs at the time, who’s to say how many lives we could have saved by dropping still more bombs and killing more evil Japanese? Who later turned into great friends and profit makers for our banks as we loaned them money to finance their rebuilding, along with Germany’s.

America’s participation was in that collective war which is said to have killed as many as 60 million but we went on conducting massive blood baths mostly on our own in Korea, Viet Nam and currently in the Middle East where millions more lives were taken. And billions in profits were accrued.

At the present moment, when some liberals surpass conservatives in foaming at the mouth over an alleged threat to our freedom originating in Russia and China, two nations which lost more than 40 million lives in War Two and whose combined military spending at present is less than half of our own, we place weapons and finance troops on Russia’s borders and parade our warships off the coast of China, complaining of their alleged menace while doing so. The USA lost nearly a half of one percent of lives compared to Russia and China in that massive massacre so we can well understand its sensitivity.

The cold-blooded killers of Murder Inc, were they alive now, might become hysterical and need a priest, rabbi or secular therapeutic helper at confronting the monstrous crimes committed by their adopted country, our great democracy. They could probably never conceive of such massive brutality as destroying entire cities and hundreds of thousands of people. But they were just ordinary small time killers who knew nothing about the defense of freedom , justice , and most importantly, the profit margin, on a national, let alone global basis.