The Dear Leader on the Media

February 18, 2017

When Trump calls out the “lying media” he’s not offering a criticism of any kind concerning the many ways the bought, capitalist media distorts reality and spins a consistent narrative that is solidly pro-US empire, pro-war, and pro-Wall Street. Nothing of the kind. His message is the opposite, and it’s the cry of every autocrat and authoritarian who ever lived: I alone have access to the Truth! Listen to your Dear Leader and no one else! Kneel!

The Autocrat Speaks

February 17, 2017

Donald Trump’s signature narcissism (as well as his excessive carnival barker personality) was on full display at his first solo press conference on February 16. It was an elaborate and colorful show—and yet, I refuse to be entertained. The Big Lies, the misdirection, the chaos, the doublethink were all present in every one of the 77 minutes His Highness held forth. But the response cannot simply be to point out the lies; we must remember that lying in public is a hallmark of authoritarian propaganda, and that the real message under every little lie is this: “I can lie in public, over and over again, and no one can stop me; you must bow before me because I’m the god who creates the world you live in—get used to it.” Here’s the autocrat pointing to a reporter who contradicted a relatively minor falsehood: “I would be your biggest fan in the world if you treated me right.” Ah, yes. Clarity.

Black Labor After Slavery

February 13, 2017

The “Reichstag Fire” Redux

February 11, 2017

In late February, 1933, the German parliament building was struck by an arson attack that caused serious damage to the chamber, and a young unemployed immigrant (and a communist) from the Netherlands, was arrested, and eventually tried and executed.

Adolf Hitler had become Chancellor of Germany a month earlier, his minority party having won a plurality in national elections. The “Reichstag Fire” was the rationale for President von Hindenburg, at the Chancellor’s urging, to issue an emergency decree suspending civil liberties in order to counter the rising threat of communism, and the young Dutch worker had conveniently filled the role of terrifying danger in a narrative already well-rehearsed and widely repeated. Communists were rounded up, arrested, and attacked, including every Communist Party delegate sitting in the parliament, and with the Communist seats vacated, the Nazi Party transformed from a plurality party to the majority party—in the blink of an eye.

Hitler consolidated Nazi power, and you know the rest.

There are a thousand differences, of course, and yet history is being made right here and right now.

Donald Trump called the federal judge who put a stay on his ill-conceived and illegal “Muslim Ban” a “so-called judge” (this from the “so-called president”) and much more ominously tweeted, “If something happens blame him and the court system.”

The fear is being amped up from the heights of power; the sense of an embattled nation on the precipice of destruction is peddled in a steady stream; the scapegoats are lined up; and the torches and pitchforks are being distributed.

Any precipitating event (manufactured or coincidental, deliberate or random) could be single spark that sets the house on fire. Unless we are aware, mobilized, and ready.

Mansplaining in the US Senate

February 10, 2017
The ruling elite silences an uppity woman, and mansplains:
“She was warned. She was given an explanation. Nevertheless, she persisted…”
Every woman should…


February 7, 2017
The difference is that Liberals fundamentally accept the system of capital and empire as it is, and hope only to limit excesses here and there; Radicals want to go to the root of things, to upend the system of injustice itself, not merely the extreme symptoms. We see the choice before us as between Chaos or Community, Barbarism or Socialism.
I like this short video. Thanks to Bob Tom for sending it my way.

Rick Ayers on DeVos and the Dems

February 7, 2017

The Gathering Storm (annotated)

February 1, 2017
Keep your eyes open, your heads up, your minds alert and your bodies ready. Trump ran an explicitly fascist campaign, and no one should now be surprised that he’s moving quickly to promote a fascist program and consolidate a fascist government. It’s not fascism yet, but demonstrably pre-fascist, and what we do now will be decisive.
The fight-back is inspiring—but we must keep organizing, gathering, staying mobilized, joining hands and rising up.
An authentic and effective opposition (I repeat myself) will not be led by the Democrats, because a bipartisan effort got us to this spot: permanent war, austerity, privatization, trade unions destroyed, mass incarceration, income inequality, hyper-segregation, and more. Take education…Democrats and Repulsicans alike have agreed that education is a product to be sold at the market place; yes Betsy DeVos is a monster, but she stands at the end of a long road taken decades ago.
So we must build the opposition, unite all who can be united, and offer an alternative to both neoliberalism and fascism. The US empire is in a steady and irreversible decline, a moment of great danger and real possibility.
Here we go!
Forges national unity under an autocratic, authoritarian leader—the classic Strong Man—who will “solve all your problems” as he implements a program advocating stability, law and order, and more and more centralized power, claiming all of this is necessary in order to defend the homeland, and to respond effectively to economic instability.
Trump’s inauguration speech is a textbook: “America first;” depicting the country as damaged—“American carnage”— and in need of radical restoration; claiming legitimacy exclusively from the people who voted for him; stating that he alone stands above the corrupt political class and has a mandate to sweep the slate clean and start over.
Trump issues an executive order denying federal funds to “Sanctuary Cities.”
White nationalist and top Trump advisor Steve Bannon is appointed by Trump to a permanent seat on the National Security Council, as the head of the Joint Chiefs of Staff and the Director of National Intelligence are removed.
Trump purges most of the top officials at the State Department in a single day.
Attempts to mobilize a mass base through deliberately constructed fear and hatred as the leader prepares for armed conflict and permanent war, holding the military as a unifying model of organizational excellence, expanding the carceral surveillance state, glorifying national greatness and appealing to patriotic nationalism, and militarizing the police and security forces and all aspects of society; agitates bigotry, intolerance, and threats as it fuels violence by demonizing targeted, distinct racial, religious, or gendered vulnerable populations, and creates sacrificial scapegoats who are repeatedly blamed for every social or economic problem people experience.
Trump signs an executive order to build his $20 billion border wall, and promises aggressive efforts to round up and deport millions of undocumented workers and families.
Trump signs an executive order codifying his long-promised Muslim ban, barring indefinitely Syrian refugees from entering the US, suspending all refugee admissions for 120 days, and blocking citizens of seven Muslim-majority countries (Iran, Iraq, Libya, Somalia, Sudan, Syria and Yemen) from entering the US for 90 days. The US is currently bombing five (Iraq, Syria, Yemen, Libya and Somalia), has troops deployed and military bases in another (Sudan), and imposes harsh sanctions and frequent threats against the last (Iran). No one from those targeted countries ever killed a US citizen. Notably missing from his scapegoat list: Saudi Arabia, Egypt, and the UAE—places where Trump has extensive business dealings.
Trump reinstates and massively expands the “global gag rule” punishing any foreign family-planning organization that uses its own money to provide, or even discuss, abortion services; millions of poor women will lose birth control access, and thousands will die from unsafe abortions in the name of pro-life.
Reince Priebus, Trump’s chief of staff, defends the unusual failure to mention Jewish people in a statement recognizing Holocaust Remembrance Day: “I mean, everyone’s suffering in the Holocaust including obviously, all of the Jewish people affected and the miserable genocide that occurred — it’s something that we consider to be extraordinarily sad.”
Criminalizes whole communities and populations.
Trump issues a warning on day one, saying that his is a law and order regime, and anyone who disrespects the police or questions their legitimacy is “on notice.”
“If Chicago doesn’t fix the horrible “carnage” going on, 228 shootings in 2017 with 42 killings (up 24% from 2016), I will send in the Feds!”~~Donald J. Trump (@realDonaldTrump) January 25, 2017
Promotes disdain for the arts, for intellectual life, for reason and evidence, as well as deep contempt for the necessary back and forth of serious argument or discussion.
White nationalist Steve Bannon, Trump’s Joseph Goebbels, issues a directive to the press: “The media should keep its mouth shut for a while.”
Kellyanne Conway, a top Trump advisor, argues in a televised interview that the administration is looking at “alternative facts” to bolster the bosses ongoing lie that a million or a million and a half people attended his Inauguration, according to Sean Spicer, Trump’s press secretary and official mouthpiece who always looks like his head is about to explode, “the largest crowd in history, period!”
Trump says repeatedly—Big Lie style—that 3-5 million votes were cast illegally.
Kellyanne Conway demands that journalists who “talked smack” about Trump be fired.
Suppresses or crushes dissent.
Trump asks the Department of Energy for the names of climate scientists; tells the Department of Agriculture’s Agricultural Research Service to put in a ban on “any public-facing documents,” including “news releases, photos, fact sheets, news feeds, and social media content;” freezes all Environmental Protection Agency grants and suspends its Twitter account; scrubs the White House web pages of references to climate change or energy alternatives to fossil fuels; deletes Tweets about climate change from Badlands National Park; calls the director of the National Park Service to ask why his staff had released data about the inauguration crowd, which Trump insisted was the largest ever, a lie repeated by his terrified press person.
Trump signs orders advancing the dangerous Keystone XL and Dakota Access Pipelines and cancels a federal conference on the health impacts of climate change.
200 protestors and several journalists are arrested during the Trump inauguration and are charged with felonies.
Conservative legislatures from coast-to-coast are introducing legislation that will criminalize protest, turning traditional civil disobedience into felony crimes, sometimes defined as “economic terrorism.”
Trump fires his acting Attorney General when she tells him that his travel ban is illegal.
Entangles corporations, the military, and the state, creating a military/industrial/corporate complex that takes over the instruments of government while it works to destroy the commons or a free and public space (public schools, public health, public safety), and disappear any sense of a public or a collective need in favor of hyper-individualism.
Exxon Mobile is in charge of the State Department, Goldman Sachs at Treasury, Amway at Education, and the uniformed military—not civilians—in charge of Defense.
Civil Courage is Needed Now!
Organize! Organize! Organize!
Resist! Rise Up!