Monday, October 30, 2017

Beto O’Rourke Vs. Sema Hernandez: 2016 Dem Primary Repeating Itself In TX

This was written by Collin Hannah from, and copied to here with his permission.
Beto O’Rourke is a U.S. Senate hopeful aiming to take down Ted Cruz. Beto has garnered a large amount of attention because he’s running a very populist and grassroots oriented campaign. Beto supports legalizing recreational marijuana, ending the drug war, Medicare For All, overturning Citizens United, his campaign doesn’t take corporate PAC money, and he’s charismatic and charming. It’s very easy to see why Beto gets progressives excited. Kyle Kuklinski of Secular Talk even referred to Beto as a “Bernie-style Democrat.”

I liked Beto as a candidate a lot at first. To be completely honest, there are still a lot of things I do like about him. However, when examining Beto’s actions, it becomes readily apparent he has adopted Bernie’s style of running a campaign, thus lending him the credibility of being a true anti-establishment progressive.
However, his actions dictate he is more of a Clinton-style corporate-friendly centrist Democrat. Beto also has a very progressive primary challenger,  Irasema “Sema” Hernandez, who you have probably never heard of.

Breaking Down Beto’s Centrism

Beto Is A Member Of The Centrist New Democrat Caucus
In the late 1980s the Democratic Party felt the need to shift away from their progressive roots and promote “centrism.” What eventually emerged from this was Bill Clinton’s New Democratic Caucus. The New Democrat Coalition has dominated Democratic Party politics for three decades. The New Democrats regularly use Republican talking points about the economy, referring to themselves as being “committed to pro-economic growth, pro-innovation, and fiscally responsible.”
Frequently that translates into tax cuts for the wealthy, and minimal regulation protecting the environment, consumers, and workers. Rather than being a part of the Congressional Progressive Caucus, Beto opted for membership to the Congressional New Democratic Caucus. Beto’s record reflects his choice in Caucus membership.
Beto Has Only Shown Nominal Support For Medicare For All
Beto has refused to cosponsor John Conyers’ H.R. 676: The Expanded & Improved Medicare For All Act no matter how frequently people tell him they want him to do so. Beto’s refusal to cosponsor H.R. 676 infuriates me so much that I confronted him about it myself at one of his town halls. Beto’s stated reason for not cosponsoring H.R. 676 is that the bill does not reimburse for-profit healthcare companies.
To be fair, I now agree with Beto: H.R. 676 needs to be amended. Without Medicare either reimbursing for-profit healthcare establishments or simply nationalizing the healthcare industry, H.R. 676 would likely leave a massive hole in our healthcare system. It’s difficult to say how big that hole would be without an analysis from the nonpartisan Congressional Budget Office (CBO).
I also no longer believe Beto has refused to cosponsor H.R. 676 because of “big money” donations. If you are wondering why, read Nic’s comment on the article I wrote.
However, Beto’s refusal to cosponsor H.R. 676 is still extremely concerning. If Beto supports Medicare For All, single payer, universal healthcare, as he often claims he does, why not simply cosponsor H.R. 676 and work to make it better or introduce his own single payer health-care legislation? It just makes me (and other people in the Democratic Party’s left flank) feel like he doesn’t actually support Medicare For All.
Former President Obama pushed for a public option, then he gave up on it. Without Beto cosponsoring H.R. 676, or at least introducing and actively pushing for his own version of Medicare For All in the House, progressives have every reason to believe he’s going to go back on his promise—just like Obama did for the sake of “getting a bill passed.”
Beto Has Yet To Demonstrate He Is Dedicated To Progressive Causes
If Democrats actually ran (and followed through) on their ideas, they would win every time. Large majorities of the American people want universal healthcare, a raise in the minimum wageraising taxes on the wealthyreducing military spending, the list just goes on and on. Beto is running these ideas, but you will see he isn’t following through on them.
In the Summer of 2017, a large number of grassroots organizations put together the project Summer For Progress. This effort culminated into the People’s Platform. The People’s Platform is a collection of eight bills promoting economic and social equality.
The People’s Platform includes Medicare For All, a $15/hr minimum wage, free college tuition, ending private prisons and more. The Summer For Progress called all Democratic members of congress to cosponsor these bills, thus demonstrating their dedication to progressive causes. The petition received over 140,000 signatures.
Beto has only cosponsored two out of eight bills on the People’s Platform. Given the current political climate, getting progressive legislation passed is next to impossible. Progressive legislation is unlikely to even come to the floor of the House or Senate for a vote.
To be fair, cosponsoring a bill is not the same thing as actually voting for or supporting a bill. However, cosponsoring the bills on the People’s Platform is the most effective way to demonstrate your support for progressive causes, which is something Beto has simply not done.
Beto Voted For The Drastic Increase In Military Spending…
One of the bills on the People’s Platform, H.R. 118, The College For All Act, would effectively make college tuition free for students coming from households making under $125,000 annually. There is no logical reason for Beto to have failed to cosponsor a bill which would cost half of the recent increase in military spending.
Beto has failed to cosponsor H.R. 676 because he’s worried about for-profit healthcare companies not being reimbursed by Medicare.  Additionally Beto has failed to cosponsor five other bills on the People’s Platform, but he voted for a drastic increase in military spending without a second thought. All of this combined makes it difficult for progressives like me to believe Beto will fight for progressive causes.
… But He Has Trouble Cosponsoring The College For All Act.
The list of things Beto says he supports but has yet to cosponsored a bill which would do exactly what he wants goes on and on. Beto’s website says he’s against private prisons. But he hasn’t cosponsored H.R. 3227, the Justice Is Not For Sale Act.
Beto’s website also says he wants to end the federal prohibition on Marijuana. I was actually surprised to find out he has cosponsored H.R. 1227, The Ending Federal Marijuana Prohibition Act. But that just goes to show if Beto truly does feel strong about something, he makes sure to cosponsor the bill to show his support.

Beto Has A Questionable History With Eminent Domain

As A City Councilman Beto Pushed For A Revitalization Project In Downtown El Paso…
Beto has an extremely questionable history with eminent domain. Beto’s father-in-law,  Bill Sanders,  is a wealthy real estate developer. In 2006,while Beto was on the city council, he and Bill Sanders were pushing a “revitalization project” in Beto’s downtown district. It’s unclear whether or not Beto and Bill Sanders were pushing this for their own personal gain.
…When He Potentially Had Financial Ties To The Project Through His Father-In-Law, Bill Sanders.
One business owner in the revitalization area by the name of Gil Kimmelman certainly believed that to be the case. Kimmelman stated, “Beto’s got to get out of the scene. That’s not fair that he’s sitting there on the council as a spy for his father in law. That’s outrageous. That’s horrible. It’s a clear conflict of interest that he’s sitting there in meetings on behalf of his father-in-law and not on behalf of his constituents” (April 17th, 2006).
Beto’s Father-In-Law, Bill Sanders, Was Not Supposed To Be Investing Downtown…
In response Beto stated, “Bill (Sanders) is not going to invest in downtown, for sure. He’s made that clear… So, honestly, I just don’t see where a conflict exists. Yes, he’s my father-in-law, but if he can’t profit from it and I can’t profit from it, I’m not sure where the conflict is” (April 17th, 2006).
However, in October 2006 Bill Sanders changed his mind and decided he would be investing his own money in the revitalization area. Mayor of El Paso at the time, John Cook, recommended Beto recuse himself on votes related to the revitalization project from then on. However, on January 29th, 2007, Beto did not recuse himself in a deciding 4 to 3 city council vote to prohibit the city government from seizing and condemning buildings in the revitalization area.
…But Reversed That Decision And Decided He Would Invest In The Revitalization Area.
The ordinance would have prohibited the city government from seizing and condemning buildings in the revitalization area as “blighted” regardless of the condition of the building.
On April 17th, 2006 Bill Sanders made his intentions clear, stating that if they had to they would use eminent domain to forcibly remove folks from the revitalization area. Bill Sanders stated they would give residents options but if necessary “we have to flex muscles, if you will, and use eminent domain.”
Bill Sanders Talked About ‘Flexing Our Muscles And Using Eminent Domain’…
Why would Bill Sanders be talking about the possibility of using eminent domain to force people out of their businesses? Bill Sanders didn’t have the power to do that himself; only by proxy because his son-in-law, Beto, was on the city council.
…When He Couldn’t Do That Without Beto’s Help.
When I confronted Beto about this issue myself, he stated, “I [Beto] never voted for the use of eminent domain. All of those communities are still there and they re-elected me. Those are my friends. Neighbors, and other people I care about.”
It does appear to be true Beto never actually voted for the use of eminent domain. However, Bill Sanders April 2006 comment about having to “flex muscles, if you will, and use eminent domain,”  coupled with his October 2006 decision to invest money in the revitalization area, while in April 2006 claiming he would not be doing so, gives us reason to believe Sanders may have intended on using his relationship with Beto to forcibly remove people from the revitalization area for his own personal enrichment the entire time.
This Was Just An All Around Ethical No-No
Being realistic, almost every politician has their faults. Most, if not all of them, are going to be corrupt in some way at some point in time. Even some of my favorite members of congress, Tulsi Gabbard, Keith Ellison, and Elizabeth Warren have done things that made me angry.
This entire thing is sketchy, but when it comes down to it there simply isn’t enough proof to definitively conclude Beto intended on using his power to enrich himself and his father-in-law, Bill Sanders. Nonetheless, it is still extremely concerning and eyebrow raising. This is something that I personally would be willing to forgive, on the condition that nothing like it ever happens again. Ever.

Beto Has A Progressive Primary Challenger: Sema Hernandez

When I found out Beto has a primary opponent, Sema Hernandez, it thrilled me to death. I found Sema through a Berniecrat Facebook group. I had asked Beto if he supports single payer healthcare, the response I got is below. I liked that Beto said he supported single payer healthcare, but not cosponsoring H.R. 676 really bothered me. I posted the conversation with Beto below in the Berniecrat Facebook group to get their opinion, and that’s how I found out about Sema.
Sema supports all of the planks of the People’s Platform. Sema may believe there is room for improvement, but if she were in Congress she would still cosponsor the platform and work to improve the components. Sema wouldn’t have voted for the uncalled for massive increase in military spending either. She is a strong progressive on every single issue you can think of.
Sema Is The Type Of Person To Fight For Everybody
Sema has a history of political activism. In summer 2017, Sema, alongside other Pasadena, TX residents, protested outside City Hall until the city would sue the state of Texas over SB4.
At the launch of Sema’s campaign Jessica Rangel, founder of Eyes of a Dreamer, an organization aimed at fighting for Immigrant rights, testified on her behalf.
“Sema was automatically stereotyped as an undocumented woman. We (all of the protesters) were told we should be sitting in the back of an ICE bus. Even though Sema and no one and her family would be affected by SB4, she was still there to fight for us. That was when  I knew I had to support Sema in her bid for the Senate.”
Why Did Sema Decide to Run? Why Not A Smaller Office First?
Sema received an unexpected phone call one day from Our Revolution, a nonprofit 501(c)(4) founded by Bernie Sanders aimed at championing progressive causes and electing progressive candidates. Our Revolution told Sema they wanted her to run. Sema thought to herself “I don’t know how I can run, I have no political experience and no money.”
That changed when Sema was watching Bernie Sanders debate Ted Cruz during a CNN town hall. Sema was so angry she was yelling at the TV. Ted Cruz spreading misinformation infuriated Sema so much she decided to run against Ted Cruz herself.
Sema called the national DNC to find out who was running in Texas. They told her “we don’t know, you’ll have to call the Texas Democratic Party.” Sema called them and asked who they were running, and they said “we don’t know,  we’re currently discussing Beto O’Rourke and Joaquin Castro’s feasibility.” Sema replied “With all due respect… I am running, and I don’t need to see if it’s feasible.” Sema never heard back from the Texas Democratic Party.
People often ask Sema why she isn’t running for a smaller office first? The answer is simple: Sema wants to take down Ted Cruz. Sema can’t take down Ted Cruz by running for the Pasadena City Council or local school board.

The Texas Democratic Party And Beto Are Not Taking Sema Seriously

Sema has been gaining traction and her support base is growing. Despite this, Beto and most of the Texas Democratic Party has largely ignored her existence.
Kevin Price, Gulf Coast Regional Director of the Texas Young Democrats, invited Beto to debate Sema on her behalf. The response? “Thanks so much for reaching out. Regretfully, I do not have any available dates for this event. We appreciate your kind invitation and support.”
Beto Essentially Told Sema “I’m Too Busy Campaigning To Debate You”…
This explanation doesn’t make any sense. Beto is taking the time to visit literally every single tiny town in Texas (which is excellent and to be commended), but he can’t find time in his schedule for a 90-minute debate with his only primary opponent.  Beto doesn’t even necessarily have to debate Sema in person; they could do a series of debates over a live stream.
Beto recently flew out to Los Angeles, California to do an interview with TYT’s Cenk Uygar. Beto has all the time in the world to do things which will improve his chances of beating Ted Cruz. At the 31:00 mark Cenk asked “I assume you guys (Beto and Ted Cruz)  are going to be having debates,” Beto replied “I really we so.”
…But Beto Wants Ted Cruz To Debate Him.
Of course Beto wants Ted Cruz to debate him—this would give him more name recognition, and the opportunity to make Ted Cruz look stupid. But does Beto have time to debate his only primary opponent, Sema Hernandez, potentially giving her exposure so people can choose between two candidates? Apparently not.
Beto stated, “I’m a super delegate and I hate that we have we superdelegates. I don’t think I should have more of an influence on the outcome than any other American. So I waited until the primaries were over to endorse Hillary Clinton.” (He said this at about the 32:00 minute mark in the TYT interview.)
This statement, coupled with the facts that Beto doesn’t accept PAC money and makes a point of talking to ordinary citizens in the state of Texas, demonstrates that a central component of his campaign is restoring fairness to our democracy. If Beto supports fairness in our democracy, he should have no problem with debating Sema and allowing other people to know she exists.
The Texas Democratic Party Is More Interested In Promoting Beto Than Having A Primary
Other than Kevin Price (the Gulf Coast Regional Director of Texas Young Democrats and the person who invited Beto to debate Sema) and some members of the Texas Young Democratic Socialist Caucus, very few leaders in the Texas Democratic Party have demonstrated any interest in getting to know Sema as a candidate. They have all made up their minds that Beto is who they like, and who they are going to push.
I don’t blame the TDP for wanting Ted Cruz gone so badly; he’s awful in so many ways. One wouldn’t reasonably expect individual members of the Texas Democratic Party to support Sema when they have known Beto for years and like him.
What one would reasonably expect is for the Texas Democratic Party to welcome Sema to the race, make her existence known, and give voters the chance to choose between her and Beto based off of who they think would be a better leader.
Bernie’s Situation Was Extremely Similar To Sema’s
There’s no doubt that Sema is the underdog in the primary. At the same time, when Bernie first challenged Hillary Clinton, he was polling at around three to four percent. Bernie was well known in his home state and in some progressive circles nationally, but compared to Hillary Clinton he was virtually unknown.
Sema has very few resources, name recognition, and political experience in comparison to Beto in the state of Texas. But literally the same exact thing can be said when comparing Bernie to Hillary at the national stage when he first started campaigning in January 2015.
Bernie gained traction because people loved his message and his history of political activism. Sema captured my attention for all of the same reasons Bernie did: she doesn’t just say the right things, she does the right things as well.
For Many Progressives, Beto Is Simply Far Too Centrist. Someone Like Sema Is Our Candidate Of Choice
Beto talks a great game, but far too frequently he fails to put his money where his mouth is. He sits somewhere between being a Clinton style corporate centrist and Berniecrat. He’s what Kyle Kuklinski would refer to as a “Bubble Boy”—someone that is a corporate Democrat like Hillary Clinton, but to a lesser degree.
When I referred to Beto as the lesser of two evils, my friend and fellow progressive Austin protested, “There is a difference between someone who isn’t ideal and someone that is the lesser of two evils.”
When I really begin to think about it, he’s right to an extent. Beto is definitely above average for a Democrat. I would personally have to give him a grade of “C-.”
But when it comes down to it, Beto is still part of the establishment and the political elite. That coupled with Beto’s centrist tendencies makes it extremely difficult for progressives like me to support him. We want to be given an opportunity to make a real choice.  A meaningful choice. We are tired of choosing between candidates hand picked by the political establishment.
Someone like Sema is not part of the political establishment,  and she will fight relentlessly for progressive causes. That’s why someone like her will always be our candidate of choice. Some of us would reluctantly vote for a person like Beto, just like we did with Hillary Clinton. But large numbers of us would refuse to “fall in line,” resulting in another Democratic loss in a race they should have won.
The Democratic Party can’t continue to snub it’s base and expect to win. Especially when the things the base wants are overwhelmingly popular. Instead of shaming us and expecting us to fall in line, maybe they should actually run (and follow through) on the things we and the American people want.
Maybe the Democratic Party should stop trying to hand pick who is going to be the party candidate, and actually acknowledge the existence of all potential contenders. If America is actually going to be of the people, by the people, and for the people, we need representation from all walks of life. Not just people the political elite think can win elections.

Saturday, October 28, 2017

The American Privilege Of Ignoring U.S. Wars

Opposing the U.S. military empire, and the repression and inequality it reinforces, requires making a choice between accepting or rejecting a comfortable false reality. The state gains the people’s complacency with endless war by drastically reducing casualty numbers, like with the pentagon’s absurdly low Iraq War death counts. By perpetually manufacturing foreign threats, which is being done right now around VenezuelaIran, and North Korea. By teaching white Americans, much like white Germans were taught during the moral collapse of their country, that they’re an exceptional people who deserve the world’s subservience. And by hiding the atrocities of the empire from a public saturated in vapid political punditry and media distractions.

Blacks, Hispanics, immigrants, Muslims, poor people, and active dissidents are groups that the state no longer, or never has, granted the privileges used for creating this complacency. Militarized police disproportionately slaughter people of color, who have included children like Tamir Rice. Toxins from fracking projects, oil spills, and led contamination poison the residents of poor black cities like Flint. Surveillance, police violence, and mass arrests are used against those who protest for the environment and the rights of working people. 
U.S. prisons, which hold more people than China or North Korea, can execute prisoners based on false charges and send them into solitary confinement for trivial reasons. The next logical phase of this American fascism involves the methods of Joe Arapaio, the Arizona sheriff pardoned by President Trump that’s detained people for their skin color, subjected his prisoners to cruel humiliations, and calledhis prison a “concentration camp.”
The minority of the population that still enjoys American privilege is given easy access to voting, while corporate media bombards them with propaganda in between tightly policed elections. This lets the despots ruling the country claim their operation is a democracy. The academics, media figures, public intellectuals, religious leaders and politicians that promote this operation warn about looming enemies threatening to destroy society-enemies like the Russians, the socialists, the Muslims, and the immigrants. This is to distract from how the American corporate state is the greatest threat to our future.
It’s the neoconservative government officials, including the ones in the Obama administration, that have armed and trained Al Qaeda forces to secure U.S. oil interests in Syria. That have backed the 2014 rise of the neo-Nazi regime in eastern Ukraine so that a new Cold War against Russia could be started. That have raineddepleted uranium onto tens of thousands of innocents in Syria and Iraq, hideously deforming newborn babies in the affected areas. That have created a drone program which has slaughtered suspected terrorists without trial, including five U.S. citizens, while several hundred civilians have been killed by drone strikes the government describes as “surgical.” That have ignored the ethnic cleansing and illegaloccupations of the corrupt Israeli government so that the U.S. can have an ally in the middle east. That have desecrated human rights agreements by refusing to prosecute the Bush architects of torture and by massacring Libyans in 2011 for gold and oil.
Glenn Greenwald has observed that “It’s hard to find a more potent sign of a weak, declining empire than having one’s national ‘credibility’ depend upon periodically bombing other countries.” The business interests benefiting from that empire, found in modern times with companies like Halliburton and Raethon, have reacted to this decline by lashing out more and more violently. 
The Trump administration has taken into power a uniquely corrupt and dangerous war profiteering contractor called Blackwater, which has been prosecuted for sending its mercenaries to carelessly kill civilians in Iraq. The CIA, whose director Mike Pompeo recently promised is to become “a much more vicious agency,” has vastly expanded its drone strikes in the last few months while conducting regime change psy ops against Venezuela, North Korea, Syria, Iran and Russia.
A sustained mass revolt can reverse the collapse and transform our society. But the attacks from the corporate state imperil that possibility. Facebook, Twitter, You Tube and Google are partnering with their allies in the government to censordissenting voices. The FBI has required reporters from RT, which features vital independent journalists like Chris Hedges, to register as foreign agents or else be removed from the airwaves. The media, which has grown more monolithic and power-serving than ever after decades of corporate consolidation, increasingly demonizes dissidents as Russian operatives. This makes the wars go largely unnoticed by Americans while the Deep State tries to reassert its hold on the national consciousness.
These kinds of propaganda tactics have been used to lead people toward self-annihilation. Jim Jones, the paranoid and narcissistic cult leader that got 909 people to commit suicide in 1978, prepared his followers for that act by affirming them of God’s favor for their ideology, granting privilege to those showing the most loyalty to his “Peoples Temple,” and having them intensely watch and study his propaganda films. Their last instruction, imposed on all of them under duress, was nonetheless glorified by Jones as a “revolutionary suicide.” The instructions we’re getting to continue the ravaging of the biosphere, fulfill the appetite of American empire, and purify neoliberal capitalism include similar rationales. The power structure has every instrument against our resisting these instructions, but we must resist them for our survival.

Tuesday, October 24, 2017

We Are In The Dying Years Of Climate Change Denial

Climate change denial, created with the most asinine and dangerous series of lies any power elite has ever pushed, can’t last much longer. Reality won’t allow it to. As places like Miami are now under permanent submersion in some sections, the Trump administration reassures its supporters of the climate’s stability by calling these water encroachments “recurrent flooding.” Three in ten Americans, saturated in the propaganda of garbage sites like Brietbart, can believe this explanation. But these are the last years where they’ll be able to keep believing it.

The final shift toward awareness of what’s happening will no doubt come sometime in the 2020’s, since sea levels are projected to rise around half a foot in American coastal cities by 2030. As flooding in these areas becomes more and more common, climate change will finally become acknowledged within all social circles. Starting in Miami and other places closest to the ocean, this awakening has been already going on for years.
For many people, especially those who denied the planet’s illness, the changes in the landscape will represent a dramatic and disorienting moment. But these human emotions will look insignificant amid the larger upheavals we’ll be seeing take place-the expanding of deserts, the newly routine appearance of extreme hurricanes and tornadoes, the submersion of low-lying regions, and the drastic change in temperatures will humble, terrify, awe the human imagination.
As this collapse takes place, the history of the period that preceded it will be scrutinized like a religious myth. In the last years before the crisis, future people will observe, society oriented itself the most toward the behaviors creating that crisis. At the start of the 2010’s, when the catastrophe deadline for the climate was just a decade away, this society’s unelected rulers the Koch Brothers had put billions into making climate change denial dominant in Republican politics. 
Just a few years away from that deadline, this society had expanded its military-the largest consumer of fossil fuels-so much that there were 800 U.S. bases around the world and an American drone program that helped drop tens of thousands of bombs yearly. Even in the year where unparalleled hurricanes and fires were pummelling North America, this society’s political leaders from both parties agreed on advancing the corporate capitalist system that put earth in peril. And the parts of this society that tried to change its direction were attacked with electoral fraud, media marginalization, online corporate censorship, and assaults from a militarized police.
Why, they’ll wonder, didn’t this society correct its behavior earlier on? Why didn’t it use the outrage over the Vietnam War to dismantle the military industrial complex? Why didn’t it reject to the calls for neoliberal economic reforms during the 1970’s? Why didn’t it manage a popular resistance against starting the drug war and mass incarceration? Why didn’t it abandon fossil fuels when the dangers of climate change and the finite nature of an oil economy first became clear? We failed to take these actions because a culture of compliance, which can be manufactured on mass scales with modern propaganda tools, leaves power roles open to despots and sociopaths. But this culture can be changed. 
The climate crisis is the ultimate repudiation of any exploitative or elitist system. It proves a social order that enslaves, represses, or endlessly extracts will destroy itself. Last year those who protested the construction of the Dakota Access Pipeline used that repudiation to bring change. Despite police bludgeonings of the protesters, attacks from the corporate media, the complicity of Democrats in the pipeline, and paid infiltrators to disrupt the protests, they lit the nation’s psyche and created a movement that continues to block fossil fuel ventures. Their achievement is a hint of how humanity will react to the coming catastrophe.

Saturday, October 21, 2017

The Classist Cruelty Of Neoliberal Democrats

While the New York Times published an article last week called “Why Democrats Need Wall Street,” tens of millions of people in this country were living in unacceptable conditions. 51% of American workers now make less than $30,000 a year, not enough for them to afford basic needs without going massively into debt. 80% of Americans are in some level of debt, and 70% have less than a thousand dollars in savings. This is making the country regress into a developing world lifestyle for the majority of the population, with most unable to afford a new car and one third unable to afford food, shelter or medical care.

When the Times endorses economic terrorism against the poor like it did in the mentioned article, or denies the collapse of our democracy, or makes false intelligence claims that help create genocide in the middle east, it doesn’t try to appeal to those lower class people. It talks to the top ten percent of Americans, targeted in the upper class metropolitan areas whose lifestyle the paper often identifies with, that still feel comfortable aligning with neoliberalism. But the class that the Times ultimately works for is that of several hundred billionaires, who also own the government and its military, the intelligence agencies, and the vast majority of the world’s wealth.
As this class has imbibed on luxury and power, it’s developed a pathology to rationalize endless exploitation. This pathology makes the poor, and even the middle class, look like undeserving commodities that can be made into fodder for the successful. The plan to bring about our current oligarchy was rationalized in this way from the start, with one of neoliberalism’s architects James McGill Buchanan having taught 1970’s elites that lower class people don’t deserve to have a voice in government.
The corporate coup that’s since taken place, like with all gradual despotic takeovers, has involved leaders always claiming commitment to liberty and fairness while dismantling freedom. This tactic of inverted totalitarianism, exemplified so well in the corporate Democrats’ presenting themselves as working class allies, can no longer persuade those outside that privileged top ten percent. 
Through a criminal justice system that Michelle Alexander calls the New Jim Crow, black, brown, and poor Americans live under threat of being arrested for petty offenses so that they can serve private prisons with free labor. Police forces that have been heavily militarized routinely shoot people of color, assault leftist protesters while enabling neo-Nazi protesters, and increasingly harass or kill people at random. This fascist state was elevated recently when Attorney General Jeff Sessions gave all police the right to seize property from people without any cause.
The votes of poor people, African Americans, and anyone else who might want to change the power structure have been suppressed or flipped on mass scales in all the recent election cycles. Their disenfranchisement, especially in the case of last year’s stolen Democratic primary, has been aggressively buried by neoliberals that want to hide their ideology’s lack of support.
The bitterness and political disengagement that this creates resulted in the election of Donald Trump last year, who won as 90 million registered voters declined to participate and his opponent had been nominated through massive electoral fraud. Trump’s plutocrat-filled administration has expanded the police state, further bloated the impunity of large corporations, and expanded Obama’s wars, all of which has been virtually ignored by the corporate media. And the liberal elites that produced all this can only keep putting out their dry defenses of the old order while retreating to their enclaves.
Censorship, voter disenfranchisement, and police violence are what the ruling class have ready for those who aren’t convinced by its propaganda. But those dissidents are mobilizing right now. And every action they take, no matter how small, makes the corporate state a little less powerful.

Thursday, October 19, 2017

Burying America’s War Crimes Is Similar To Denying The Holocaust

Americans are kept compliant with endless war the same way white supremacists and anti-semites rationalize their actions. With both there’s an effort to deny or dismiss past atrocities that have come from holding these worldviews. In neo-Nazi circles, the Holocaust is revised as an event that’s been either exaggerated or completely made up. And the much larger (and right now far more threatening) white supremacist culture constantly affirms that slavery happened too long ago to be relevant, while blocking out the militarized police assault on black and brown people that continues to this day.

There’s a similar motive between those who want us not to believe in past racial genocides and the propagandists of the U.S. war empire. Pentagon officials have regularly refused to confirm civilian deaths from airstrikes in Iraq and Syria; neoconservative public figures like Sam Harris insist on Iraq War body counts that are implausibly low; Obama’s record seven warsdepleted uranium bombings, and barbaric drone program go unconfronted by Democratic Party loyalists. These aren’t isolated incidents. They’re the continuation of a decades-old project to erase history, driven by leaders with the same motives of white supremacist demagogues: to maintain their control.
Two generations ago there was the censored media coverage of the Vietnam War; a generation ago there were the pro-war psy ops the U.S. was starting to flood the world with; this propaganda effort has gotten more expansive and tinged with violent imagery over the years, but it overall molds into one long deception. I’ve reiterated this in all of my articles lately because Americans need to be aware of it urgently right now. Partly from the suppression of the last Korean War’s atrocities, wherein nearly three million people were killed as the U.S. pummeled North Korea with bombs and artillery, the president is able to threaten an unprovoked nuclear holocaust against the North Korean people.
The wild irrationality of that plan, added onto America’s preparations for war with Iran and rapid expansions this year of the existing conflicts, is how an empire reacts to its own decline. “Historians of empire call these military fiascos, a feature of all late empires, examples of ‘micro-militarism,’” wrote Chris Hedges this month about the fall of American power. “The Athenians engaged in micro-militarism when during the Peloponnesian War (431-404 B.C.) they invaded Sicily, suffering the loss of 200 ships and thousands of soldiers and triggering revolts throughout the empire. Britain did so in 1956 when it attacked Egypt in a dispute over the nationalization of the Suez Canal and then quickly had to withdraw in humiliation, empowering a string of Arab nationalist leaders such as Egypt’s Gamal Abdel Nasser and dooming British rule over the nation’s few remaining colonies. Neither of these empires recovered.”
Hoping for the power structure to defeat itself in this way would be what an impotent opposition does, similar to the minute ritual many on the left went through last year of debating whether Trump or Clinton might be best for our cause. Without a unified, active major movement towards radical progressive change, the bargains we make with the future will still end in our destruction. Multiple climate research sources published a report in April saying the last year where catastrophic climate change is avoidable will be 2020. If carbon emissions continue to rise or stagnate after then, temperatures will inevitably go up more than two degrees Fahrenheit, making sea levels rise meters by the end of the century and making large parts of the planet uninhabitable.
Even the poorest people can take part in the movement to stop this, since it starts with questioning corporate state propaganda, spreading suppressed information, and speaking out against racism and bigotry in our immediate lives. Next we need to seek out or create our local progressive organizing groups, and use them to transform the country city by city. Ultimately we’ll have to take drastic actions toward revolt, like refusing to pay taxes, protesting amid risk of police retribution, and not going to work or buying products for days at a time. 
The encouragement we can take for these struggles is that we’re building onto a risein popular movements that’s been happening for several years, and that clearly scares the elite. But these movements aren’t strong enough yet, and without massive mobilization toward them, the worst atrocities will be yet to come.

Monday, October 16, 2017

Perpetual War Will End When Ignorance About Perpetual War's History Ends

Americans have had the recent past presented to them dishonestly for a long time now. With the takeover of the military industrial complex in the 1930’s and 40’s, the government has started omitting the realities of modern imperialism from school textbooks. This purging of history has since gotten worse with the rise in private schools and corporate-run education, which have especially taken place in the lower-class public schools that are most desperate for funds. The corporate consolidation of U.S. media and the rise of CIA psy ops have reinforced this trend.

While the nationalistic messages of American textbooks have had little effect on students, this education system has been chillingly good at keeping certain facts out of people’s minds. The unspoken outrage from the North Korean people is that nearly 20% of their country’s population, or three million people, were killed when the U.S. essentially burned down all of North Korea sixty-three years ago. The average American has little idea that the last Korean war was so horrendous, which explains why so many support Trump’s unprovoked threat to finish the North Koreans off.
This reality of Americans usually knowing very little about modern wars and their perpetrators was illustrated in James Loewen’s 1995 book Lies My Teacher Told Me, where he accounts many Americans’ enforced ignorance of how the Vietnam War happened. The same can now be said for how Americans remember the Iraq War, which started with the same kinds of theatrical allegations against a foreign country that we’re currently seeing around IranRussiaSyria and North Korea
Then there’s the undeclared wars against Pakistan, Iraq, Laos, and several other countries started in recent years, fought with the more than 800 American military bases around the world and the American income tax dollars that almost totally gotoward the military. These realities are kept safely out of most people’s minds, filled in with vague statements from neoconservative propagandists about the world needing American influence. Those propagandists have recently normalized perpetual war by taking the word “war” out of most mainstream foreign policy discussions, making it look like obscene militarism is an unremarkable part of how the country runs.
Korea, Vietnam, Iraq, and all the others shouldn’t be thought of as separate incidents. These are parts of a singular war that the power elite has been perpetuating for around three generations, and that they’ll try to keep perpetuating for as long as possible. The task of the American anti-war movement compares to the one of those who wanted to end American slavery; we are fighting something that’s been practiced for so long that many people see it as immovable, and whose effects will keep being felt centuries after it officially goes away. But we have to fight it.
Protest has been unable to harm the workings of the war machine for a long time, as we learned when the biggest demonstrations in history couldn’t prevent the Iraq invasion. Neither has been hoping for the supposed dysfunctionality of Washington to make the power elite impotent-both parties represent neoliberalism and imperialism, making them perfectly able to work together in these areas. The way we defeat an enemy like this is by making the population intensely aware of its presence, and then intensely involved in fighting it. 
Militarism and corporatism are zombie ideologies, kept in motion by despots that ignore their lack of support from most people and the tragic future they’re bringing us toward. This makes them vulnerable, even when the opposition to them has been long forced to the margins. Exposing the details of the war machine and its propaganda methods is how we create a populous that’s engaged and mobilized in the anti-war effort, and by extension in the efforts to end fossil fuel consumption and corporate power.
Until this revolt brings drastic change, we’ll continue to be in the current situation, where Trump and the neoconservatives encouraging him could attack North Korea with a “preemptive” nuclear strike. If they do this, the planet will be dramatically changed. As tens of millions in east Asia are massacred within a few hours, nuclear rain would pummel the Korean Peninsula, toxins would flood the west coast, and a nuclear winter would settle around the world that cools the planet and drives down crop yields for years. Hopefully those damages, like the ones that have been done so far, can be reversed.