Making America Great Again, Step by Perilous Step:

November 30, 2016


Step 11: Donald Trump—with the active active buttressing of his enablers in the comatose capitalist “press”—offers up tweet after bizarre tweet (If you burn the American flag, goddammit, you should face consequences—“perhaps loss of citizenship”) sending the media into a frenzy of elaborate reporting, “deep thinking” about the constitution and sober commentary about settled law, while behind the curtain he and his crew work tirelessly to steal everything they can get their hands on, and erase any semblance of the common good or the public square. But, what the heck, let’s just talk about the flag.

Step 12: Donald Trump nominated Representative Tom Price of Georgia—fierce advocate of privatizing Medicare and slashing Medicaid, repealing Obamacare and relying strictly on “free market principles” in all aspects of health care and wellness—to the post of Secretary of Health and Human Services.

Step 13: In order to fulfill his promise to “drain the swamp,” Donald Trump is offering donors a dazzling menu of options: for a million dollars (or more) you can get four tickets to an “intimate dinner” with the vice-president elect and his wife, and eight tickets to a “ladies luncheon” with the “women of the first family,” among other perks; for half a million (or more) you can get four tickets to the “ladies luncheon” plus more.

Step 14: Steven Mnuchin, Donald Trump’s campaign finance chief and a former partner at Goldman Sachs, will become the newTreasury Secretary, further “draining the swamp.”

Step 15: “Draining the swamp” continues with the selection of Elaine L. Chao—Washington insider, Republican functionary, and the wife of the Senate majority leader Mitch McConnell—was selected to be the new Transportation Secretary.

Fidel on the Environment

November 27, 2016
Fidel Castro: Fight the ecological destruction threatening the planet!
Climate & Capitalism joins millions of people around the world in mourning the death and honoring the life of Fidel Castro Ruz.
He lives in our memory as a champion of, and an active participant in, the global fight against poverty, ignorance and oppression, and for a sustainable world.
In this short talk at the 1992 Earth Summit, Fidel described the Earth System crisis and identified its causes more powerfully than any other delegate.
Mr. President of Brazil Fernando Collor de Melo;
Mr. UN Secretary General Butrus Butrus-Ghali; Your Excellencies;
An important biological species is in danger of disappearing due to the fast and progressive destruction of its natural living conditions: humanity.
We have become aware of this problem when it is almost too late to stop it.
It is necessary to point out that consumer societies are fundamentally responsible for the brutal destruction of the environment. They arose from the old colonial powers and from imperialist policies which in turn engendered the backwardness and poverty which today afflicts the vast majority of mankind.
With only 20 percent of the world’s population, these societies consume two-thirds of the metals and three-fourths of the energy produced in the world. They have poisoned the seas and rivers, polluted the air, weakened and punctured the ozone layer, saturated the atmosphere with gases which are changing weather conditions with a catastrophic effect we are already beginning to experience.
The forests are disappearing. The deserts are expanding. Every year billons of tons of fertile soil end up in the sea. Numerous species are becoming extinct. Population pressures and poverty trigger frenzied efforts to survive even when it is at the expense of the environment. It is not possible to blame the Third World countries for this. Yesterday, they were colonies; today, they are nations exploited and pillaged by an unjust international economic order.
The solution cannot be to prevent the development of those who need it most. The reality is that anything that nowadays contributes to underdevelopment and poverty constitutes a flagrant violation of ecology. Tens of millions of men, women, and children die every year in the Third World as a result of this, more than in each of the two world wars. Unequal terms of trade, protectionism, and the foreign debt assault the ecology and promote the destruction of the environment.
If we want to save mankind from this self-destruction, we have to better distribute the wealth and technologies available in the world. Less luxury and less waste by a few countries is needed so there is less poverty and less hunger on a large part of the Earth. We do not need any more transferring to the Third World of lifestyles and consumption habits that ruin the environment.
Let human life become more rational. Let us implement a just international economic order. Let us use all the science necessary for pollution-free, sustained development. Let us pay the ecological debt, and not the foreign debt. Let hunger disappear, and not mankind.
Now that the alleged threat of communism has disappeared and there are no longer any more excuses for cold wars, arms races, and military spending, what is blocking the immediate use of these resources to promote the development of the Third World and fight the threat of the ecological destruction of the planet?
Let selfishness end. Let hegemonies end. Let insensitivity, irresponsibility, and deceit end.
Tomorrow it will be too late to do what we should have done a long time ago.
Thank you.

From a high school classmate of our kids…

November 27, 2016

Watch “Karim Sulayman – I trust you” on Vimeo:

Fidel, Presente!

November 26, 2016
Fidel Castro has passed away.
Revolutionary, companero, visionary, inspiration.
Fidel Castro rose up for humanity against empire.
Fidel, Presente! Live like him!
Rest in Power, Comrade.

Ta-Nehisi Coates on the recent election:

November 25, 2016
“This is who we are. If you understand the history of this country, this is nothing new so we should not be shocked. If we look at 250 years of slavery, you look at Frederick Douglas during reconstruction seeing it overturned, you look at Ida B Wells going south to document lynching, and all the violence we always suffer. Then you would know it is the same country and we just need go get up in the morning and get ready to fight.”

Happy Indigenous People’s Day!!

November 24, 2016

Stand With Standing Rock!


November 23, 2016
“In the dark times
Will there also be singing?
Yes, there will also be singing.
About the dark times.”

Making America Great Again, Step by Step

November 23, 2016

Making America Great Again, Step by Step:

Step 6: Pressed about recent meetings with Japanese, Indian, and British officials in which business affairs were apparently discussed, Donald Trump opined that “The president can’t have a conflict of interest,” and “The law’s totally on my side.”

Step 7: Donald Trump told the British government who he would prefer to be their next ambassador to the US, and the British response was very British: “There is no vacancy.”

Step 8: Donald Trump thought Alec Baldwin’s portrayal of him on Saturday Night Live was one-sided and not funny, and so he asked NBC for “equal time.”

Step 9: Donald Trump felt that the cast of “Hamilton” was way out of line in urging from the stage that the vice president-elect, who was in attendance, adopt a more enlightened immigration policy than the campaign had advocated, saying the theater must be a “safe space” and issuing a demand: “Apologize!”

Step 10: Donald Trump appointed Michigan billionaire, hard-right wing public school opponent and voucher advocate Betsy DeVos, 58, to the post of Secretary of Education. The former chairwoman of the Michigan Republican Party, she was a driving force behind a failed 2000 ballot proposal to amend the state Constitution to create a voucher system allowing taxpayer funds to support students attending nonpublic schools. Her brother, Erik Prince, is the founder and former CEO of the security firm Blackwater Worldwide that was banned from Iraq after the fatal shootings of 17 Iraqi civilians in 2007.

More to come.

Another Excerpt from Demand the Impossible! A Radical Manifesto

November 20, 2016

[DEMAND the IMPOSSIBLE! is available from Haymarket Books or any local bookstore. I thought I was finished a month ago posting excerpts from the book, but when I read to students and comrades this week in Roma, Bologna, Napoli, and Milano, Italy, and when the talked turned inevitably to the rise of a fascist movement, I felt compelled to share the following. Thank you.]

Here, then, is a partial diagram of the known world, a rough sketch of what is, but certainly not a picture of what could be or should be:

*  An empire unapologetically resurrected in a cauldron of deliberately constructed fear, and in the name of renewed patriotic nationalism.

*  Unprecedented military expansion, a state of permanent war and the creation of a war culture, a gulag that stretches the length and breadth of the country, where mass incarceration is a defining characteristic in the “land of the free,” and white supremacy reigns triumphant in the “home of the brave.”

*  Militarized police forces acting as aggressive occupying armies in poor communities, and the never-ending serial shootings of Black citizens.

*  The identification of opaque and ill-defined enemies—“illegal” immigrants, border violators, Muslims, Arabs, foreigners, queers, Black people, independent women, terrorists—as a unifying cause.

*  A panopticon-like existence in which we are all aware of being under constant surveillance—cameras everywhere, mountains of data from our purchase and travel patterns to reading and information preferences accumulating in some dark basement or shiny supercomputer—but have been forbidden from watching them watching us. We’re assured by the state and the media (as well as by our families and friends and neighbors on occasion) that if we aren’t doing anything wrong, we have nothing to hide, and should, then, have no objection to standing naked under the bright lights and ceaseless scrutiny of the state.

*  Ritual searches, ID checks, and pat downs (“Assume the position!”) at airports, train stations, and athletic events, which do little or nothing to enhance safety or security but serve a serious purpose nonetheless, functioning as metaphor and theater, a reminder that we are always at war, always at risk, and always observed—the threat level for many years a never-changing if ill-defined and meaningless “orange”—and as dress rehearsal for police and military actions that can override liberties and rights without constraint or objection.

*  The eclipse of the public, the frantic pace of privatization and the fire sale of the public square—the public schools and public housing, prisons and the military, and in Chicago, the bridges and parking meters—all of which represent the triumph of corporate power and a kind of fatal entangling of corporations with the state, leading to a thieves’ paradise in government with the arid ideology of capital and the “market” promoted as the truest expression of authentic participatory democracy.

*  Galloping disparities between the haves and the have- nots—the metaphoric 1 percent and everyone else— both at home and on a global scale.

*  A steady drumbeat of “public secrets”—obvious lies issued by the powerful like, “We don’t torture” or “We don’t spy on Americans” or “We shot him because he was a clear threat to the officer” or “We don’t bomb civilians,” whose purpose is both future deniability and evidence of power’s arrogant ability to have its way regardless of truth or evidence, law or popular will.

*  Disdain for the arts, for intellectual life, for reason and evidence, for historical insight, and deep contempt for the necessary back and forth of serious argument or discussion in favor of a nasty dialogue of the deaf.

*  Formation of “popular” movements in the streets, apparently spontaneous but in reality well funded and highly organized, based on bigotry, intolerance, and the threat of violence, all of it fueled by the demonization of targeted, distinct racial, religious, or gendered vulnerable populations and the creation of convenient sacrificial scapegoats.

*  Cataclysmic man-made climate change—hurricanes, melting ice caps, raging wildfires and deforestation, rising oceans, the shredding of the earth’s protective shield, and more—driven by unchecked extraction, reckless acquisitiveness, and the everyday operations of predatory capitalism.

Countless contradictions abound: appalling poverty and unprecedented wealth, acts of war and words of peace, liveliness and chronic social depression, hope and despair. Reality TV and then reality itself. It’s a land of wild diversity, extremes and opposites, conflict and contestation, moments of personal joy, happiness, and ecstasy against times of collective rage and anguish.

Still, the bullet points above—and I use the term deliberately— are pistol shots that represent a bright thread that is recognizable and knowable. The US juggernaut is headed for catastrophe, either a new and sophisticated—dare we say it?—form of friendly-looking and familiar fascism, or some other form of extreme social disintegration. Another world is surely coming—greater equality, socialism, participatory democracy, and peace are all within our reach, but nuclear war, work camps, and slavery are also possibilities. There are still choices and options, and nothing is guaranteed. Where do we go from here? A season of light or a season of darkness? Chaos or community? Barbarism or socialism?

Making America Great Again! Step by Step

November 20, 2016

Step 1: Donald Trump appointed Steve Bannon to be his chief strategist and Senior Counselor. Bannon was formerly the head of Beitbart News, the premier platform for the alt-right movement, a white nationalist, nativist, anti-“political correctness,” xenophobic, antisemitic, homophobic, antifeminist, Islamaphobic, anti-multiculturalist, and anti-immigrant formation that includes the KKK and other crypto- or wanna-be fascists.

Step 2: For Attorney General Donald Trump appointed Jefferson Beauregard Sessions III who had failed to win Senate Judiciary Committee approval for a federal judgeship due to his well-known habit of making racist comments and other slurs against the NAACP and the ACLU, among many others.

Step 3: For his chief of staff, Donald Trump tapped Reinhold “Reince” Priebus, long-time Chairman of the Republican National Committee, a right-wing functionary who enjoys the benefit of seeming moderate in the company of fascists.

Step 4: Donald Trump appointed Michael Flynn to the position of National Security Advisor. General Flynn was former director of the Defense Intelligence Agency (appointed by Barack Obama), and then forced into early retirement because of his extreme militaristic attitudes and practices, as well as his loose relationship with the truth, a steady stream of dubious assertions that his associates referred to as “Flynn Facts.” Keep your eye out for Flynn Facts, Bannon Cannons and Trump Dumps in the weeks and months ahead.

Step 5: Donald Trump settled the zillion law suits against him and his fraudulent Trump University for $25 million, presumably enabling some of the plaintiffs to vacation at one of Trump’s resorts—well, not likely, but it’s all part of Making America Great Again.

More to come!