Archive for June, 2011

Review: Crashing the Tea Party

By Paul Street and Anthony Dimaggio; Paradigm Publishing, 2011, 239 pp.

The 2012 elections are gearing up. Liberals are already going on the apologetic defensive for Mr. Hopey Change who is now begging Wall Street: Brother, can you spare a dime for my re-election? At the same time, the Tea Party will likely “surge” back into the spotlight to “take back America” and to whine incessantly about the budget, taxes and big government. These clowns have been around for a couple of years now and the general public still doesn’t know diddley squat about them (outside of the false images provided by the media). Thankfully, Paul Street and Anthony DiMaggio have a new book out that does just that: Crashing the Tea Party: Mass Media and the Campaign to Remake American Politics (Paradigm Publishers; 2011).

What readers will find in this book—and don’t judge it by it’s size because despite it being less than two hundred pages of content there is a volume of information carefully packed into it—is a historical understanding of the real Tea Party that happened in Boston back in the late 1700s. The real Tea Party actually was a bottom-up movement controlled and directed by the lower classes, and was not a political front for the ruling class to garner public support of unpopular policies. You find a big company going through economic hard times and who the ruling class sees as being “too big to fail” and so they are bailed out at the expense of the powerless, who fight back. A stark contrast to today’s Tea Party who doesn’t want to fight power and the dominant social, political and economic order, but enhance it.

You will also find that the Tea Party is way to the right of the general population. Which is good and bad, because as Street and DiMaggio write,

We certainly see little point in mocking or jeering at the Tea Party and agree that it should be taken with deadly seriousness. However, we do not believe that the Tea Party has meaningfully mobilized and connected with the working-class and disadvantaged people that ‘the Left’ should be organizing in common opposition to concentrated wealth and corporate-state power. (pg. 21)

The good news here is that with the general population being considerably to the left of the Tea Party (and even the Democrats) the prospects of ‘the Left’ organizing them is greater. The bad news is ‘the Left’ is pretty much non-existent. There is no organized leftist grassroots movement trying to build a social power out of the poor and working class. So what is around to appeal to the poor and working class is a hardcore right-wing Astroturf movement funded and directed by billionaires and Republican strategists getting favorable treatment from the press leaving false impressions in viewers that this is an anti-establishment popular uprising.

Crashing the Tea Party is a very methodical account of these Republican stooges. Early on, Street and DiMaggio waste no time in calling it like it is:

The real Tea Party phenomenon discovered here is relatively well off and Middle American (not particularly disadvantaged), very predominantly white, significantly racist, militaristic, narcissistically selfish, vicious in its hostility to the poor, deeply undemocratic, profoundly ignorant and deluded, heavily paranoid, wooden-headed, and overly reliant on propagandistic right-wing news and commentary for basic political information. (pg. 9)

And they skillfully document each of these statements. They provide a wide range of opinion polls that clearly demonstrate all of the above, and the authors even went so far as spending time with Tea Partiers and interviewing them at Tea Party events in and around the Chicago area.

On the issue of race I would like to have seen them reference this video—A Time for TEAHAD—by a Tea Party member. While the guy does the usual “we’re not racist!” routine he apparently doesn’t get that “Teahad”—a word play on jihad—is racist. The cultural ignorance of what jihad really is, is one thing, but the usage in this video is clearly to convey a violent message (that and his tee-shirt)—which fits nicely with the bigoted view of Muslims as violent and depraved. Then there is the singling out of black political figures; how convenient. Or, his use of “niggrah” to describe African Americans. When you end a sentence with “all the niggrah race pimps out there” and then say without batting an eyelash that, “On behalf of the Tea Party, we are sick and tired of being called racist” you shouldn’t be surprised one bit at being called a racist. In other videos this same racist can be found saying such gems like, “You [President Obama] have declared war on the white man in America” and “Barack, you, your advisers, pollsters, pundits, talking heads, have wanted to know: Who are the pissed-off people in this country? Well, the pissed-off people, sir, are the white people. It’s the white people, stupid.” However, referencing this would only have been icing on an already rich cake, considering how well they did to highlight the racism inherent in the Tea Party.

Crashing the Tea Party also takes an indepth look at the 2010 midterm elections where the Democrats took a hit. A popular narrative has been that the supposed grassroots Tea Party movement handed the Republicans back the House of Representatives. But the number of total votes the Democrats lost between the 2006 and 2010 midterm elections is greater than what the Republicans gained. As Street and DiMaggio put it,

The average vote in stateweide primaries in 2010 was the lowest ever recotrded for Democrats during midterm election cycles […] This permitted the Republican average statewide primary turnout to exceed Democratic primary turnout for the first time since 1930. (pg. 156)

One of the chapters (Chapter 5) was on the paranoia and ignorance of the Tea Party supporters. From the claims that President Obama and the Democrats are “socialists” and “Marxists” and “Communists” to the absurd claim that taxes are high or that “Obamacare” is a socialist takeover of our healthcare system to the profound historical ignorance of who our Founding Fathers were or what the Constitution even says gets a lot of attention. All of this can hold scary outcomes as the writers note:

America is dangerously bereft of a really existing relevant Left capable of countering right-wing stereotypes, pushing the Democrats to enact effective and progressive programs that might keep right-wing critiques at bay, and capturing legitimate popular anger that is dangerously seized and misdirected by right-wing activists and personalities. It’s not a pretty story. (pg. 125)

In closing with the book the authors point to the labor uprising in Wisconsin earlier this year as hopeful signs of an actual grassroots people’s movement that challenges power, not serves it. Both authors traveled to Madison, Wisconsin to witness it themselves and the absence of, or obliviously small opposition of the Tea Party showed in clear terms whose side they are on.

Ultimately, Crashing the Tea Party reminds me of the kind of work Noam Chomsky and Edward Herman did with the Propaganda Model in Manufacturing Consent: The Political Economy of the Mass Media (1988). It explodes the popular narrative and is academic in its research and presentation to the point that they really have crashed the Tea Party and it’s undeniable.

Michael McGehee is an independent writer and working class family man from Kennedale, Texas. He can be reached at

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For the Record: The Truth of being Pro-Life

“Touch my sign and I’ll kill you.”

Like many leftists, discussing whether women should have reproductive rights or not is a dead issue. Of course they should. It’s their bodies and if they do not want to be a mother—whether it is for the first time or not—that is their decision. Not mine. Not the religious institutions. Not some politician’s.

You see, I come from what may be called the “participatory left.” This is a branch of radical leftist politics highly influenced by the economic model Participatory Economics, which is a classless system based on social ownership, participatory planning, equitable remuneration and divisions of labor. It has five basic values that it was created to uphold: (1) solidarity; (2) equity; (3) diversity; (4) efficiency; and (5) self-management.

It’s this last value that is related to the issue of abortion. In particular, we call it “participatory self-management” (in fact we put “participatory” in front of a lot of words to clarify our meaning). What is meant by this is that everyone should be empowered to control and manage their lives to the degree that they are affected. And considering we are a social species and almost all of our decisions affect others, we feel it is only fair that all affected parties should participate in managing their affairs. So, when two people have a baby it is the woman who is, by far, most affected by the pregnancy. Therefore, the bulk of the decision-making power in regards to the pregnancy ought to be with the woman.

But this piece is less about arguing in favor of abortion than it is about exposing the fraud of so-called “pro-lifers.” Being from the American south, and with another election coming up, I encounter them routinely and just wanted to share my thoughts.

These “pro-lifers” are often Christian and of the political right (this holds importance). When someone calls themselves Pro-Life they are really trying to do a couple of things.

First, they are trying to cast themselves in positive light so that others who don’t agree with them are by default: negative. Framing the narrative is a very effective technique to propaganda, good or bad.

Second, they are exploiting people’s sensibilities to push through another agenda which the pro-life community is really about. In particular, a Christian Right agenda.

This is very simple to establish. All you have to do is look at the rest of “life” to see the views of these people. From there you get a big clue into just how much they are “pro-life.”

Take war, for example. If you know any self-proclaimed pro-lifers ask them, if you don’t already know, their views on America’s wars. Ask them how many anti-war groups they are a part of, or how many rallies, marches or acts of civil disobedience they have under their belt. America’s imperial wars—either directly or via proxy—have violently killed tens of millions of people (and still are) who had already developed a nervous system, and all thanks to trillions of American taxpayer dollars.

Or, what about the death penalty? Surely pro-lifers are also opposed to capital punishment. Their position isn’t based on accruing data that shows many innocent men and women on death row, but on moral grounds that life is sacred. Now, I am from Texas and there is a abolition movement, albeit small, and I am willing to bet that there aren’t very many “pro-life” people involved.

Finally, what about poverty, hunger, preventable and treatable diseases? We should be asking our pro-life friends, family members, coworkers, acquaintances and so on about their views of Capitalism, or single-payer health care reform. Surely they are outraged at how wealth is so inequitably dispersed in capitalist systems and how it feeds on exploitation, or how the health care system in the US sees nearly 125 people die every day due to lack of health care.

The obvious point here is that being pro-life is a smoke screen. In a word: bullshit. It is less about being pro-life as it is using a highly emotive topic to get public support so the real work of a rightwing, neo-fascist agenda can be advanced. All you have to do is look at the other ravages of life in our world to see they are full of it. To the degree that these people are “pro-life” stops once the fetus is a newborn baby, and from there life is no longer sacred and can be consumed by war, the state, poverty, or a predatory economic system that puts profits before people. And more often than not you will find these pro-lifers on the side of death.

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US moves to sanction Palestine in case they declare independence

For years the US government has put the blame and responsibility of the Israel-Palestine conflict almost entirely on the Palestinians shoulders. Our political leaders from both parties told us they could have a state and the conflict would end if Palestinians would just renounce violence and recognize the state of Israel. Over time the cynicism and hypocrisy of this has just grown to something obscene and perverse.

Before I go on I want to provide some historical background.

World War 1 was over and the British was carving up the Middle East into colonial states. Prime Minister Lloyd George was overheard as saying out loud to himself, “Mesopotamia . . . yes . . . oil . . . irrigation . . . we must have Mesopotamia; Palestine . . . yes . . . the Holy Land . . . Zionism . . . we must have Palestine; Syria . . . h’m . . . what’s there in Syria? Let the French have that.”

And so it began that the UK took land that was already inhabited and began giving it away to foreigners, a “catastrophe” that culminated in 1948 with Israel taking more land and kickstarting their ethnic cleansing that directly led to the 1967 war where more land was taken, and Gaza and West Bank have been occupied ever since while Israel builds settlements.

Of course the UN Security Council has tried to stop this for years but the US has been there all along to veto any resolution (41 times since 1972, and that’s just in regards to Israel). There have been countless peace offers by Arab states, the international community and even the Palestinians. Some notable ones were the so-called “peace offensive” of the PLO in the 1980s that provoked Israel into attacking Lebanon to weaken the group. And following the free and fair elections of Hamas five years ago in 2006 a “hudna” (a long-term ceasefire) has been offered if Israel would go back to the 1967 borders. The logic being that if Israel would make a good faith effort to fulfill their obligations under international law it would be a good foundation to begin exploring peace. Even President Obama has recently said basically the same thing by calling on Israel to go back to the 1967 borders, the only legally recognizable borders.

Map shows Palestine in 1946,
1947, 1948 and 2000

You see, Israel is not a fixed state. It changes daily. The Israeli government is trying to derail any chance for peace or a viable Palestinian state by continuing to build illegal settlements so that when they can no longer go on they will say, “We can’t give up this land because we have people living there!”

Imagine you have a home and your neighbor breaks in and continually takes over more and more of your home, confining you to a closet. Imagine the local government is helpless because one of the members is providing the necessary aid to your criminal neighbor. Imagine your neighbor imposing a sort of “embargo” on you that blocks food and medicine from reaching you in the prison that is the closet of your own home. Imagine other citizens trying to break that embargo to bring you assistance but this neighbor violently attacks them and even kills some of them and escapes punishment because of that goverment member who provides them cover.

This is the reality of Palestine. They resist. In some ways, in fact in most ways, the resist nonviolently but some have used violence. To be sure, Israel’s use of violence has always far succeeded that of Palestinians. Take the Gaza War of late 2008, early 2009. Israel used considerably more violence and the results show it. Of the nearly 1,500 Palestinians killed 2/3 were civilians. Of the 9 Israelis killed by Palestinians only 3 were civilians, or 1/3.

The US government responds by saying Palestinians must recognize Israel and renounce violence. This cynicism really drives decent people up a wall. Why doesn’t the US put pressure on Israel to adhere to international law, to renounce violence and to recognize Palestine? How can Palestinians recognize Israel when it exists on illegal settlements and steals more land each and every day? How can we ask them to renounced violence while Israel uses massive state violence against them? Don’t they have a fundamental right under international law to use force to protect them from an armed attack?

They would if they were a member of the United Nations, which they are now doing. Not that this is their motivation for seeking membership, but it is one of the perks (though international law is not really enforced fairly or impartially as the use of force by certain states shows). Clearly this is another form of nonviolent struggle to end the occupation and reclaim their lives. If Israel won’t accept peace and if Israel won’t renounce violence then Palestinians will look to the rest of the world for help. But the US Congress is threatening to sanction Palestine if they take this route. We refuse to recognize them and will punish them if they don’t do as we say. We keep supporting and funding and arming Israel to pulverize them, as we have been doing for more than forty years. Yet they continue to resist.

Palestinians recently used nonviolence to mark the 63rd anniversary of “the catastrophe,” and Israel responded with violence, shooting unarmed peaceful protesters.

It’s hard to say whether the tide is turning in America or not, and this is where it needs to turn because ending US support of Israel is key to stopping them. But, when it does it will probably happen quickly. Those who are aware of what is going on need to keep doing what they are doing and that is constantly trying to bring the facts out in the open. Because like a little girl named Anne Frank, I too feel that humanity is essentially good. I sincerely feel that dedicated efforts that appeal to the good side of people can have meaningful results.

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Review: A Queer History of the United States

By Michael Bronski; Beacon Press, 2011, 288 pp.

 Michael Bronski’s new book A Queer History of the United States (Beacon Press; 2011) is to the history of sexuality in this country as Howard Zinn’s classic A People’s History of the United States is to the history of class struggle. And while Bronski’s book is not officially a part of the A People’s History series it really should be. Like Zinn’s work and those who have followed in his foot steps, Bronski’s new book is about providing a more complete account of our history.

American History, as taught in our public education system, is often presented in a very narrow fashion that tells the stories of presidents, members of Congress, military leaders and leaders from the business community (with a sprinkle of everyday people who made a big impact). History is often left to the study of political events and students are simply taught to learn names, dates and places. Then they take a test and that is all. To make matters worse, history is often sanitized so that students only learn what is “proper,” or as it is for my state of Texas:

Throughout social studies in Kindergarten-Grade 12, students build a foundation in history [that] enables students to understand the importance of patriotism, function in a free enterprise society, and appreciate the basic democratic values of our state and nation as referenced in the Texas Education Code (TEC), §28.002(h).

Students learn that Martin Luther King Jr had a “dream” but they do not learn that he was growing more radical against war, militarism and capitalism. And students learn that Hellen Keller overcame the adversities of being blind, deaf and mute and learned to communicate but learn nothing of her socialist and feminist views. And what of the sexuality of Walt Whitman or Eleanor Roosevelt? There is a wide gap in what students learn for it is these ignored social elements that were a big part in defining who these people were. This gap, at least in regards to sexuality (though he does touch on race, gender, culture, class and politics) is what Bronski goes a long way to fill in with his book.

Michael Bronski is quick to point out that history is more than politics or economics, it’s not always sanitary (it can be very messy and outrageous to prevailing senses of normalcy) and it’s not about just knowing general information of particular events. It’s about knowing who we are, even those considered to be on the fringe, and how who we have been and where we have gone has brought us to where we are today, and where that is leading us, or whether it’s a place we want to go. Do we want right wing Christians using mob rule to limit the constitutional rights of other citizens, or for the government to use epidemics to police the sexuality of those deemed deviant simply because they do not reflect the lifestyles of the “general community”?

And as far as our collective sense of sexuality is concerned Bronski does just that—he richly explores our history from the earliest days of when Europeans stepped foot on the continents of the Western Hemisphere to 1990, at which point he says we are leaving history and entering the realm of “news.” In this reviewers opinion the book is a valuable contribution to American History. In fact, when I finished reading the book last night I thought to myself, “I may not be queer [outside of my absence of bigotry I am a pretty “normal” heterosexual male] but if I were I would be loud and proud about it.” Because what Bronski shows is that a liberated sexuality—the advancement in personal freedom to explore and discover one’s self is always a good thing—has come a long way from colonists dismembering indigenous people to feed to dogs because those Europeans were disturbed by the natives different culture of sexuality. The social purity movements, the wars, the urbanization, the move from biological families to social communities, the emergence of a consumer market for LGBT people, and the social achievements in labor and race and gender have all impacted the queer community—because they too were workers or of a certain skin pigmentation or were women or were natives or immigrants—and helped give them a sense of identity and community.

And that’s another thing: these social achievements of the oppressed, the persecuted and disenfranchised have a rich history in civil disobedience, agitation, and direct action. Bronski touches on these actions and I bring this up becaue it is something students are too often robbed of understanding. The progress we have made in this country has not been by voting or leaving our struggles to political leaders to decide the outcomes. Just as slaves did not vote for abolition so too did women not vote for suffrage or workers for labor rights or African Americans to end Jim Crow laws or LGBT people for broader tolerance, acceptance and equal protection under the law. The ongoing issues of getting protection from the law while also getting government out of our personal lives is likely to come from a variety of tactics to aid our struggles, and though voting may in some settings be a useful tool, community organizing, civil disobedience, direct action and other activities outside of lobbying politicians or voting will undoubtedly be necessary, as history ought to show us.

I would like to imagine that one day our government under pressure of successful social movements will establish a Queer History Month so that students can learn about our history of sexuality and Michael Bronski’s A Queer History of the United States will be an important reference. That would be the first step and who knows? Maybe from there it—as well as Black History Month or maybe even Class History Month—won’t be limited to a month but will be incorporated into history classes as a complementary view of history. Because as Bronski concluded in his epilogue:

All of which goes to prove that LGBT people are simply Americans—no less and no more. The idea of America has existed, in some form, for five hundred years. LGBT people, despite enormous struggles to be accepted and to be given equality, have made America what it is t oday—that great, fascinating, complicated, sometimes horrible, sometimes wonderful place that it was in the beginning.

Their history is our history and ought to be recorded and taught as such.

Michael McGehee is an independent writer and working class family man from Kennedale, Texas.  He can be reached at

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When will Spring come to America?

While things continue to get worse for the US working class, in Greece, Spain, Syria, China and other countries in Europe and the Middle East there are signs of a vibrant popular revolutionary movement demanding democracy and people’s power. I keep wondering when it will be our turn. We were close in Madison but labor bosses effectively got their unions to forgo a general strike and kill the potential. Unemployment remains high and while the bailed out banks hoard their nearly $2 trillion of American taxpayer money we are forced to endure governments on the federal and state levels who want to cut taxes for the rich and then tell the public they no longer have money for social programs in which they propose to cut spending. It’s all very cynical.
And of course there is the American Empire factor. The US is 5% of the world’s population yet we account for nearly half of global expenditures but even that is misleading because if you account for all the related costs to maintaining our nuclear-armed imperial police state we no doubt account for much more than 50%. But sticking just to the military spending and the wars these bills account for more than 80% of our individual income taxes. If there is any spending that needs to be cut it’s the military spending. In fact, cutting the funding of our Military Industrial Complex by a factor of ten—which would still leave us with the highest expenditures per capita—there would be no budget crisis.
We shouldn’t stop there either. We should also be undoing the decades long class war assault via tax cuts to the rich should be undone and the taxes for top income earners reinstated, as well as we should pass a single-payer healthcare reform bill, negotiate fair drug prices and not only remove the cap on Social Security but tax all income for the program, not just earned income.
This would free up a lot of revenue to pour into creating a carbon-free energy economy and get people working with higher wages making a solar energy economy. We should also bring back our manufacturing base, which would resolve the trading deficit, boost wages and thus increase tax revenue.
There’s a lot we could and should do but it’s not happening right now because the American public is not organized and too apathetic and inactive, but as things continue to deteriorate that might change.
What should we expect when we do take on Wall Street, the White House and Capitol Hill? Looking at Greece, Spain, China and the Middle East I would say we better expect a violent confrontation with the police and possibly the National Guard or even the military. Excuse the pun but we should bank on it. We can be as unarmed and non-violent as a cute little bunny rabbit but the police will be armed and they will use force to stop us from winning. If we try to takeover these centers of political and economic power much as workers did the state capitol in Wisconsin I would find hard to believe if we were not responded to with some level of force.
First things first, we need to do more to reach out to our co-workers, our friends, our families, our neighbors and get organized. We need to understand the problems we face, the solutions and begin looking at ways we can communicate with our government and law enforcement to let them know that this is inevitable. We can’t go on this way. Democracy is not just about voting. It’s about having a meaningful say and involvement in managing the affairs of our lives together, and to have a decent standard of living.
The group Anonymous put it best in a recent letter to NATO:
We do not wish to threaten anybody’s way of life. We do not wish to dictate anything to anybody. We do not wish to terrorize any nation.
Our message is simple: Do not lie to the people and you won’t have to worry about your lies being exposed. Do not make corrupt deals and you won’t have to worry about your corruption being laid bare. Do not break the rules and you won’t have to worry about getting in trouble for it.
Do not attempt to repair your two faces by concealing one of them. Instead, try having only one face – an honest, open and democratic one.
You know you do not fear us because we are a threat to society. You fear us because we are a threat to the established hierarchy. Anonymous has proven over the last several years that a hierarchy is not necessary in order to achieve great progress – perhaps what you truly fear in us, is the realization of your own irrelevance in an age which has outgrown its reliance on you. Your true terror is not in a collective of activists, but in the fact that you and everything you stand for have, by the changing tides and the advancement of technology, are now surplus to requirements.
Finally, do not make the mistake of challenging Anonymous. Do not make the mistake of believing you can behead a headless snake. If you slice off one head of Hydra, ten more heads will grow in its place. If you cut down one Anon, ten more will join us purely out of anger at your trampling of dissent.
Your only chance of defeating the movement which binds all of us is to accept it. This is no longer your world. It is our world – the people’s world.
We are Anonymous.
We are legion.
We do not forgive.
We do not forget.
Expect us…
This is really what it is coming to: revolution. Our political and economic systems have been a tool for the ruling classes to dominate the working class, and it has got to stop. If there is to be democracy there can only be one class. There is no room for a hierarchy that empowers a minority to exploit the disempowered working class and the environment in a fully functional democracy. When enough of the working class is fed up with their lot in life we will take on the Lords of Capital and their political stooges and they will have their security guards we call “police” at the gates waiting for us in full riot gear. They will shoot tear gas at us. They will arrest us. They will beat us with batons. But unless we stand up and take action to empower ourselves, which can only be done by disempowering the ruling classes with an organized revolutionary movement, we will continue taking “cuts” so they can have their profits and power.
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Listen, Liberal!: Reflections on our jacked-up political system, liberal apologetics and a modified Bill Blum quote

Hail Ceasar!
Hunter S Thompson once said that, “It’s a strange world. Some people get rich and others eat shit and die.” The world is stranger still, not to mention frustrating, when considering the intentional ignorance of liberal apologists of the Democratic Party who pretend every two years like clock work that if they vote for the Democrats then all our troubles will be solved. And every time the Democrats get control of Congress or the White House and they bail on the working class but bail out the ruling classes, their supporters find convenient ways of putting all the blame on the dastardly Republicans—in all fairness the Republicans are pretty dastardly and certainly are responsible for a lot of our problems. But come on, comparing the Democrats to the lowest common denominator is not the best way to defend them. The degree to which the Democrats are “better” than the Republicans is nothing to brag about, and besidies, it’s not as if the difference amounts to the considerable change that is needed. Simply put: no working class person should defend them. Instead, liberals mesmerized by the Democrats need to break the spell that has them believing the Democrats are champions of the working class.

Bill Blum, author of Killing Hope: US Military and CIA Interventions Since World War II, Freeing the World to Death: Essays on the American Empire, Rogue States: A Guide to the World’s Only Superpower, and the monthly Anti-Empire Report once wrote of American jingoism that,

For some Americans, belief in the nobility of US foreign policy may have taken a kick in the stomach by the release of the photos in the spring of 2004 showing abuse and torture of Iraqi prisoners, but for most a lifetime of inculcated loyalty, faith, and conviction does not crumble without a great deal of resistance. Such people should be asked this question: “What would the United States have to do in its foreign policy that would cause you to forsake your basic belief and support of it? In other words, what for you would be too much?” Most likely, whatever dreadfulness they might think of, the United States has already done it. More than once. Probably in their own lifetime. And well documented in an easily available publication.

A fellow Facebooker, Doug Tarnopol, posted something that resulted in thinking of this quote of Blum’s in relation to liberal apologists for President Obama or the Democratic Party in general. I ran the modified quote by Blum and he quickly responded with: “Very good, Michael, run with it!” Okie dokie. 10-4.

So without further ado:

For some liberals, belief in the nobility of Democratic Party policy may have taken a kick in the stomach by the Obama administration, but for most a lifetime of inculcated loyalty, faith, and conviction does not crumble without a great deal of resistance. Such people should be asked this question: “What would the Democratic Party have to do in its domestic and foreign policies that would cause you to forsake your basic belief and support of it? In other words, what for you would be too much?” Most likely, whatever dreadfulness they might think of, the Democratic Party has already done it. More than once. Probably in their own lifetime. And well documented in an easily available publication.

In just under three years we have collected a considerable amount of examples to pull from to highlight the appropriateness of this quote. From Israel to unemployment to Cuba to climate change to the wars in Afghanistan, Pakistan, Yemen and Iraq to health care reform to financial reform to Honduras to bailing out auto companies and Wall Street to Iran to Libya to Bahrain to tax cuts for the rich to Social Security to our public schools to Bradley Manning to torture to the Patriot Act to the illegal and counter-productive execution of Osama bin Laden and much, much more. Obama has consistently kicked the working class, the environment and the third world in the gut with the continued nuclear-armed imperial police state policies that defined the Bush adminstration, of which liberals delusionally believed Obama to be the “change we can believe in.”

This delusion and inability of liberals to come to terms with the reality of the Democratic Party is rooted in a misunderstanding of how our political system actually works (and for GOP apologists the same holds true as well). The best place to start is with Thomas Ferguson’s Investment Theory of Party Competition, sometimes referred to as the Investment Theory of Politics. What this political science theory shows is that in a reprenstative democracy like ours where private contributions to political campaigns are permitted, and where no organized public force exists, we should expect to the political parties compete not so much as for voters as for the campaign funds needed to finance their elaborate hoodwinking. Thus, Obama won a marketing award for his 2008 campaign (and is expected to raise $1 billion in this post-Citizens United v. Federal Election Commission electoral climate, which predictably is the result of sucking up to Wall Street—the mortal enemy of the working class—for the 2012 midterm election).

Presumably, what should be drawn from this is the recognition that government responds to the demands of power, and there are two main sources of power: (1) the power of money, of which the working class is short of thanks to the considerable success of the class war that his distributed wealth in such inequitable ways; and (2) the power in numbers, which is the comparative advantage of the working class. The working class faces a determined, organized and well financed foe. Our struggles exist on numerous fronts but are all intertwined together in a social-ecological conflict between the Have’s and the Havenot’s. But powered with bodies using civil disobedience, agitation, disruption, and direct action we don’t have to resign in cynicism and defeat, nor do we have to delusionally put our “hope” in the Democrats. We only have to look to ourselves to escape Dystopia.

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Voting is the Least of Our Struggles

Here we go again. Electioneering is upon us once more.

The other day I told a joke that, “The guy who made (millions on) the ‘if you dont vote then you cant complain’ bumper stickers actually misheard the person—who was in fact an anarchist—who said the phrase. What the person—the anarchist—really said was, ‘If you dont revolt then you cant complain.’ Just imagine if he would have heard him right. The world might have been a different place.” I was just being silly but it made me want to say something about voting since the 2012 campaign has already begun (I have also joked that “Anthony Weiner was following the social media trend when he used twitter to launch his new erection campaign,” but I’ll stop here with the jokes since I don’t want to undermine my best political joke which is that the best ones get elected!).

The major news channels should stop covering elections and give it over to its rightful heir: ESPN.

Voting is a spectator sport and should be recognized and treated as such.

I can just see Michael Buffer standing in a Las Vegas boxing ring as a microphone slowly descends toward his head before he grabs it and says, “Ladies and Gentlemen—voters of the 2012 election—let’s get ready to rummmmbbbbllllleeeee. In the red corner weighing in at one hundred and forty pounds we have straight from Alaska, Sarah Palin. . .” and then he can go through the talking points of the Republican Party before saying, “. . . and in the blue corner weighing in at one hundred and eighty pounds, hailing from Chicago, Illinois is the 44th president of the United States of America, Mr. Hopey Change himself, Barack Obamaaaaaaaa.”

It has just gotten too depressing—this charade where we pretend something serious is going on and the health of the nation weighs in the balance between two opposing forces, and all we have to do to determine fate is to vote. That’s it. Vote and then go home and watch your “shows,” or go out to dinner and have a few drinks with some friends.

This spectator sport is not democracy, but before we can begin to understand what it is or how voting is the least of our struggles we must understand the political system in which we endure.

Our polity exists in a highly marketized climate. In markets you vote with your dollars and those with the most money tend to have their interests more carefully catered to. Why does so much grain grown in the US go to biofuel and not feeding the hungry? Answer: markets. Markets don’t give a shit about anything but one thing: maximizing gains. By pegging the price of corn to gas you can make more money than feeding the hungry at taxpayer’s expense. So it is in our electoral system that the candidate who raises the most money usually wins because he or she can finance the most elaborate PR scam to hoodwink voters into thinking they are our savior. And since candidates and parties are really competing for investor’s money—to hoodwink you into voting for them—what we have is two highly commercialized political parties that are nearly indistinguishable in that they both worship Mammon and hook for the Lords of Capital.

This upcoming presidential election is expected to raise over a billion dollars for President Obama alone. Any lingering thought that he is the champion of the working class is just delusional. We have nearly three years of experience and countless opportunities for him to show his true colors. He is, as he has proven to be, a faithful representative of the business community and he knows better than the rest of his kind—<in a sneering tone>politicians</in a sneering tone>—not to bite the hand that feeds him. The Cuban embargo remains and the Cuban 5 are still in prison. Israel still has a free reign to terrorize the region, even killing unarmed American kids in international waters. Honduras still doesn’t have their president. Haiti still doesn’t have theirs. Obama carried out a “humanitarian intervention” in Libya to help former regime officials carry out a coup d’état while no humanitarian intervention rushed to the aid of black Africans who were tormented and massacred by the rebels (or who drowned in the sea while trying to flee to safety even though NATO ships were near by). Even Obama himself admitted Obamacare and financial reform was a gift to the industries by saying he collaborated with them so they would know the rules (what about us?) and following his illegal raid in Pakistan that culminated in the execution of Osama bin Laden he admitted that his only worry for his illegal adventure was whether the victim would turn out to be “a wealthy,” thus acknowledging that justice is class conscious. Wall Street can hoard over $2 trillion of the $13 trillion we gave to “bail” them out of their own mess but federal workers get a “freeze” to pay for that and the wars and the tax cuts. Then there is the tortures and Bradley Manning. Obama’s list of crimes and injustices can fill a book (and Paul Street is no doubt archiving it).

The working class doesn’t have the kind of disposable income needed to bribe politicians. We simply can’t buy elections like banks and oil companies. Forget the fact that we make up the bulk of this country. Income and wealth inequality has gotten so out of control after decades of tax cuts for the rich that the top 1% account for more than one-third of our wealth while the bottom half don’t even amount to 3%.

And you got to understand that the core of this is power. How is power structured? Is it horizontal, participatory and democratic? Or is it hierarchical, authoritarian and tyrannical?

There is a language to power and that language has two dialects. (1) The power of money, which adheres to the Golden Rule: those who have the gold make the rules; and (2) The power in numbers.

For the vast majority of us we speak the second dialect, though judging by the absence of an organized popular movement in this country you might think we have taken a vow of silence. And this holds certain significance for our fate. Voting is not speaking. Remember, “If you don’t revolt then you can’t complain.”

I am not suggesting we not vote. Sometimes the differences between candidates or the issues being voted on at the local level really do matter but voting in and of itself is a largely irrelevant matter. Voting is the least of our struggles. We, the working class, don’t have the money to finance campaigns and to lobby government to listen to us. When President Obama or his administration give speeches the backdrops say things like AIPAC or The Heritage Foundation, and not or Amnesty International.

A friend told me yesterday he calls our country The United (Goldman) Sachs of America. He’s about right. Wall Street speaks its dialect. In fact, we can’t seem to get them to shut up.

Our comparative advantage—of which is largely in disuse—is organizing, agitation, direct action, civil disobedience. However, it just sits there on the shelf, collecting dust waiting to expire.

I exaggerate. There is some activity going on but not nearly enough. I have a feeling though that it is coming. Our wars, the healthcare reform betrayal of Obamacare, tax cuts for the rich, the unemployment, the foreclosures, and the realization that the economy has a spring in its step for corporate America but is still in a deep recession for the working class while telling teachers and workers we don’t have enough money for them is fanning the flames of discontent. At the same time it’s worth keeping in mind that just as we are well served by understanding the limitations of voting, so too would we be well served by understanding the limitations of popular movements. Unless we have a clear idea of what we want and how we plan to go about getting—that is, unless we have direct control over our movements and we have a balanced division of labor within it that accomodates our direct control then we risk reinforcing the same old authoritarian trappings of past experiences. In a comment to Mike Albert, Tom Wetzel made an excellent point on these matters:

In regard to electoral politics, I think we already know enough to know that creates the wrong dynamics, tends to focus on leaders, tends to bureaucratize movements, discourages direct collective action. Look at the way the union bureaucrats in Wisconsin were able to push advancing actions such as strikes off the table by pushing people into electoral politics, via the recall.

But it is only thru participation and collective action that the working class can develop its own social power. And only through developing mass organizations that the oppressed & exploited control directly. And thru this development of direct working class social power, people can overcome fatalism and develop relevant skills and so on.

The problems we face are that we are not in control of our own affairs. That’s what has got to change. Along the way—while we build this new participatory, democratic, socialist society—the powers that be will sense their demise and will begin offering some paltry reforms to appease us. We should gladly accept them but we should keep going because our gains will not be secure nor our goals fully realized until the old order is removed from the current affairs shelf at (the expropriated) Barnes & Noble and placed in the history section.

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