Sunday, March 12, 2017

Turkey Massacres Its Kurds

Thomas Riggins

Reading this could give you a sense of déjà vu as the UN is describing exactly the same type of behavior by the Turks as is described as being done by the Syrian government and what the US and its allies do in Yemen, Afghanistan, Iraq and Pakistan with drone strikes and bombings. Kudos to the NYT for reporting this. The US government will not make this a major issue, as with Syria, because Turkey is a NATO ally and in any case the US only pretends to care about "human rights" and only makes a major issue about them with governments it doesn't support. One of the reasons we gave for going into Iraq was that Saddam Hussein was "killing his own people" (the Kurds)-- I don't think the Turks need to worry about killing their own people (the Kurds) as they lack one thing that Saddam had -- oil.

Turkish security forces also caused 500,000 people to be displaced in a campaign of torture, rape and destruction, a new report says.

Saturday, March 04, 2017

Why?

Why?

I make no judgements. 
I only ask "why?"
Why does Russia have to give back the Crimea?
Why does Israel get to keep the West Bank and Golan Heights?
Why can Turkey keep its puppet government in Cyprus?
Why is it ok for the US to arm rebel groups in Syria?
Why are the Russians bad for arming rebel groups in Ukraine?
Why do Russian bombs deliberately kill civilians?
Why do American bombs only accidentally kill civilians?
Why were Islamists freedom fighters against the Russians in Afghanistan?
Why are Islamists terrorist fighters against the Americans in Afghanistan?
Why are Russia and China always wrong to veto US proposals in the UN?
Why is the US always right to veto Russian and Chinese proposals in the UN?
Why are US and NATO invasions of other countries peace keeping missions?
Why are Russian invasions or interferences in other countries acts of aggression? 
Why is it ok for the US to hack and spy on the whole world?
Why is it outrageous for Russia to hack and spy on the US?
Why is the US a democracy when most of the voters voted against Trump?
Why is Russia a dictatorship when most of the voters voted for Putin?
Why is Saudi Arabia part of the "free world" and Iran isn't.
Why are US naval ships off the coasts of Russia defending freedom of navigation?
Why are Russian naval ships off the coasts of the US provocations?
Why is it ok for Israel to develop nuclear weapons on its own?
Why is it not ok for North Korea to develop nuclear weapons on its own?
Why is the US the greatest country in the world instead of the Netherlands?

Why can't we agree on the answers to these questions?

Friday, March 03, 2017

The Bee Brain is not a Pea Brain

Thomas Riggins

Insects have memory and they can learn. They may have consciousness and self awareness i.e., they may be little persons in their own right. The moral implications of this may be worrisome but only if morals are important. If our species is any indication that does not seem to be the case. We will continue to kill and slaughter other life forms as merrily as we do each other: hunting (it's fun to kill), for food (we have a taste for blood), war ( we want other people's stuff ), murder (no respect or some genetic flaw), causing famines, extinctions and climate change (profits before people and the environment). On top of all this is an irrational rejection based on ignorance and greed of the only possible moral system that could be constructed in the real world that might end all this; humanistic socialism based on Marxism-Leninism and this has the inevitable drawback of having to use many of the very methods it wants to extirpate in order to eventuate.
Scientists trained bumblebees to move a ball to the center of a platform to gain a sugary treat.
NYTIMES.COM
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Thursday, March 02, 2017

Trump, Fake News, and the Press

Thomas Riggins

Donald Trump is absolutely correct when he says the main stream news media lies, purveys fake news, and is the enemy of the American people. The organizations he banned from the White House informal "gaggle" -- The New York Times, L.A. Times,  CNN, etc., are all guilty as charged. But the organizations not banned by Trump, CBS, NBC, Fox, ABC, One America News Network, The Wall Street Journal, McClatchy, Breitbart and Washington Times are equally guilty.

The problem with Trump's denunciations of the lies and fake news spread by the corporate media is not that they are false, but that he has given the wrong reasons.
His accusations are based on their criticisms of him and his policies. All they would have to do is give him some flattering coverage and all would be well.

There is a more honest politician who also shows that the corporate media are liars, purveyors of fake news, and the enemy of the American people, although he does not use the intemperate (though accurate) language of Trump. That politician is Senator Bernie Sanders and his charges are detailed in his recent book Our Revolution.

He opens his chapter on the Media ("Corporate Media and the Threat to Our Democracy" with a quote from A.J. Liebling (1904-1963: a famous journalist at The New Yorker from 1935 to 1963): "Freedom of the press is guaranteed only to those who own one."

The basic point of this chapter is this. Almost all the "news" and information the American people read, hear or see comes from the corporate media which is run in the interest of profit making and not with any overly solicitous concern with the truth or in being objective. The news is filtered to support the interests of the rich and powerful and the interests of the vast majority of the American people are ignored and the issues that concern them are either not reported or under reported, or falsely reported. The media also shapes the way people think, and the values they believe they have arrived at on their own are actually implanted in them from a life time of media  propaganda from the corporate Establishment [reinforced by the education system and religion]. 

In other words the corporate media lies to us to get us to accept the world outlook of the 1%, publishes fake news to make itself and its system look good (especially it's class controlled political system and elections) and since the corporate media manipulates the "news" to further its own interests, the interests of Wall Street and corporate America at the expense of the American people who are kept in ignorance of what is really going on, they are, indeed, the enemy of the American people.

All this can be summed up by another quote from A.J. Liebling -- one not used by Sanders but one I am sure he would also like: "People everywhere confuse what they read in newspapers with news."

I will now append some quotes from Sanders' chapter to substantiate my summation of his views above and then draw some conclusions concerning the veracity of Trump's statements with respect to the media. The numbered sentences are all direct quotes.

1. Media shapes our political consciousness, and informs us as to the scope of  what is “realistic” and “possible.”
2. In other words, it is time for the American people to understand that corporate media in America is not some kind of “objective” entity that sees its function as providing, as best it can,”truth” to its viewers, listeners, and readers”
3. Today as a result of massive mergers and takeovers, six corporations control 90 percent of what we see, hear, or read. [Comcast, News Corp, Disney, Viacom, Time Warner, CBS: And they tell you what they want you to know and believe: the “truth” is what they say it is —tr]
4. The current media situation in America, where a handful of giant corporations controls the flow of information, is a very serious threat to our democracy.

To be clear: those who threaten the democracy of the American people are the enemies of the American people. These 6 corporations, the Sinful 6, are the ones flooding us with fake news, alternate facts, and propaganda designed to further their profits and the interests of the 1%.  They want us to believe the threats to our democracy come from the Russians and Putin, the Chinese, the Iranians, the North Koreans, immigrants, anti-capitalists, radical Islam, Palestinian and other terrorists, and all the time it’s the Sinful 6 themselves who are the greatest threat because they distort and warp all the information about these other groups, and our domestic problems as well, so that 90 percent of us don’t understand what they are really like and whether they are real or imaginary  problems and threats. The Sinful 6 are responsible for Trump being the president, for Clinton not Bernie being the Democratic candidate, for Bush’s wars in the Middle East, and for the abysmal ignorance of the American people about the world outside of the U.S. and of the history of their own country.

So reality is even worse than portrayed in Our Revolution (though that reality logically follows from the book’s conclusions) and Trump is not completely wrong when he attacks the corporate press. His error is thinking they only lie about him  and his views and that one of the Sinful 6 is in fact not sinful at all — News Corp when in fact it is the most sinful of all. He also paints smaller independent news organizations and local media outlets with the same brush as he does the corporate media he dislikes. In other words, his criticism is self serving and phony.

So, who are more or less independent? Here are some that Bernie mentions (there are many others, including People's World, Countercurrents, The Intercept, OpEd News, The London Progressive Journal, Mother Jones, The Independent in NYC)  Media Matters for America (Blog), The Nation, The Young Turks, Democracy Now, In These Times, The Progressive. 

You take pot luck with the mass media. If you don’t believe me, read Bernie Sanders’ book.

Wednesday, March 01, 2017

Bias in Job Promotions in Professional Education

This is an example of structural racism within the system. Bias has to be eliminated by education but bias prevents proper education from taking place. What to do? This requires State intervention and a quota system until the bias is eliminated as biased structures are perpetually perpetrated. There is no doubt, based on the Trump administration appointments, that no effort to eliminate structural racism is to be expected and, in fact, Trumpism is structural racism incarn...
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Race and sex still matter when public school teachers seek to become principals, a new study has found.
SCIENCEDAILY.COM

Thursday, February 09, 2017

On the meme "Putin's a killer"

Thomas Riggins

"Putin's a killer."
"You think our country's so innocent?"
So, let's get real. Since the collapse of the USSR and under Yeltsin, Medvedev and Putin about 165 journalists have been murdered and 47 to 50 political opponents of the Russian government. None of these murders have ever been proven to have been ordered by any of the three Russian presidents, nevertheless the Russian government is far from exemplifying the ideal of a state completely subject to the rule of law and Russian security forces have been known to have employed assassination and murder as tools of statecraft from the Middle Ages up to the present. Putin, unlike Obama, is not known to have a list of enemies that he goes over every week and then orders killed by drones. Not counting Chechnya (unreliable figures) if we just add up Russian political and journalist killings plus civilians killed in Syria by the Russian military (under Putin's control) [about 2686 including 368 children have been killed -- up to 2015) the Russians have murdered about 2895 citizens (their own and others). In this regard Putin is a killer.
Over the same time period the United States under Bush and Obama has assassinated many "enemies of the state", including children, using drones and its security forces and military alone. In the Middle East not counting Iraq or Syria the US has killed 13,500 civilians including 2,908 children (mostly in Afghanistan and Pakistan). In this regard both Bush and Obama are killers. All these figures have been gleaned from news sources on the internet and they are constantly being changed and modified!
Killer Scorecord: Team Putin: 2895 Team Bush/Obama: 13,500
Conclusion: NO our country is not so innocent. The "Putin killer" meme is simply hypocritical US right-wing propaganda whether mouthed from Republicans or Democrats and spread by either deliberate lies or ignorant know nothings -- if it is meant to imply there is some sort of special "evil" about Putin that is not found in US politicians OR there is some sort of moral equivalency between the US and Russia: the US is much worse morally than Russia with respect to the wholesale killing of children and innocent civilians. But none of these leaders can be particularly proud of what their military does nor how they treat innocent civilian populations. Trump will be no different as his failed exercise in Yemen indicates.

Monday, February 06, 2017

TRUMPISM AND THE WORKING CLASS


Thomas Riggins

Trumpism is not a uniquely American phenomena. It is the local variant of an ultra-right anti-establishment ideology that has a worldwide manifestation. In Europe there are right-wing anti-EU parties growing in many of the member states in the EU based on anti-immigrant policies and appeals to nationalism and economic protectionism to preserve jobs for native born citizens, as well anti-Islam propaganda , and paranoia over terrorism. The term neofascism has been used to
describe these movements and to differentiate them from traditional conservative and liberal, including social democratic parties. 

There are also left-wing objections to the EU as an antidemocratic neoliberal institution for the concentration of capital and the more efficient exploitation of the working class for the benefit of monopoly capitalism. This allows the right to pirate legitimate concerns and demands of the workers to build their own faux populist base. This explains the appeal, in the US, of Trump’s denunciations of Wall Street bankers on the one hand to gain popular support, and on the other to appoint these same bankers to positions in his administration to allay suspicions within the ruling class that he might be a real threat to the capitalist system.

Unique circumstances  in the US allow us to understand the differences between Trumpism and European neofascism. After WW2 Communist states ruled in Eastern Europe allied with the Soviet Union. Western European states were reconstructed on a social democratic model with many social benefits to placate the workers and the middle class so as diminish the lure of Communism which promised full employment and universal medical care,  subsidized education, affordable housing and other social "safety net" features. 

With the collapse of Communism the Western European ruling elites no longer saw the need to maintain social benefits at the pre-collapse level  and with the economic crisis beginning in the US in 2008, and quickly spreading world wide, austerity programs began to be instituted that negatively impacted the general population. These programs were instituted by the traditional ruling parties, conservative or liberal, and have resulted in a backlash against establishment rule, immigration, and the European Union which is the transnational governing political entity the European ruling class has constructed to better solidify and institutionalize its dominance. 

Neofascism is a throwback to the nationalistic authoritarian populist political movements of the pre WWII era which had developed as a result of the economic failures gripping Europe as a consequence of the destruction caused by WWI. Left populist socialist and Communist movements are also being energized in the wake of the fightback against austerity instituted by the social democratic as well more traditional pro capitalist parties as the ruling class eliminates the post WWII gains made by the working class in the wake of the Soviet victory over fascism in 1945.

Trumpism has a different origin. It is based on the historical development of US capitalism and the slave system and the virtual genocide of the native cultures and societies found within the territories settled and conquered by Western Europeans who founded and expanded the US. Defeat in war and the growth of Communist political power within its borders were not the causative agents of its appeals. Its base is rooted in the endemic institutional racism of American society and the demagogic appeal to the ignorance of masses of deliberately under educated people whose jobs and incomes are threatened by the continuing crisis of the collapse of the neoliberal economic policies instituted by the two major political parties, Republican and Democratic, of monopoly capitalism. 

These policies  enrich the 1% at the expense of the mass of working people and are maintained by fostering ignorance of the true causes of the economic crisis through ruling class control of the media, education system, and circuses (without the bread) provided by the entertainment and sports complex created to induce intellectual narcolepsy in the population at large. These policies seek to cast the blame for the economic woes facing the working people on minorities, immigrants, radical movements demanding unrealistic labor changes (higher wages, more unionization at the cost of jobs), Islamic terrorism, illegal voting fraud, climate change hoaxes, fake news, gay rights, and repression of religious freedom. 

These are the issues both Democrats and Republican focus on taking either liberal or conservative sides but neither party questions the fundamental basis of the capitalist society based on the private appropriation, by a small minority, of the socially created wealth sweated out of the vast majority of the American working people who stand outside and starving without decent housing or medical care  or education midst the wonders they have made.

Trumpism, the subspecies of neofascism peculiar to the US, has come to power prematurely. It, along with the Tea Party were nurtured for a future contingency of a breakdown of the establishment parties and their ability to rule in their accustomed manner. The Sanders movement and distrust of HRC, however, panicked elements of the ruling class into to supporting Trump (some now have buyers remorse) and the freakish Electoral College system of determining the presidency  allowed the executive branch to fall into Trump’s hands while the Republican Party also captured both houses of Congress.

Updating Georgi Dimitrov’s explanation of the victory of Fascism in Germany and Italy in the 1930s (Main Report: Seventh World Congress of the Communist International, 1935) we can cast some light on the nature of Trumpism today. Here are the relevant quotes from the opening of his report. Keep in mind they have reference to the economic crisis of capitalism in the 1930s and the need to keep the masses of working people in a repressed state so they would not be attracted to radical movements questioning the capitalist system and the right of the ruing bourgeoisie to plunder not only the domestic population but to engage in military adventures and wars abroad.

It is also important to note that these quotes describe full blown fascist governments set up by the ruling class to replace constitutional democratic governments which could not the solve the economic crisis of capitalism by normal parliamentary methods and needed Draconian measures to maintain control of the population. This is the situation that the US was headed for but had not yet matured to the extent that a fascist government was called for and a Clintonist corporate center right alliance  masquerading as a progressive coalition was the perfect solution for the contemporary problems facing US monopoly capital. The unexpected appointment of Trump as president by the Electoral College disregarding the popular vote was thus a premature assumption of power of a crypto-fascist movement whose role was not to win the election but to prepare the way for a more stringent and intelligently structured future fascist government should the Clinton alliance fail to reestablish the uncontested sway of US imperialism.

Dimitrov maintained that fascism was needed because: "The imperialist circles are trying to shift the whole burden of the crisis onto the shoulders of the working people." So far the ruling political establishments of the "free world" have been able to do this without fascism but ultra-right and neofascist political movements have been growing in the expectation of achieving future political power.

"They are trying to solve the problem of markets by enslaving the weak nations, by intensifying colonial oppression and repartitioning the world anew by means of war. That is why they need fascism."  The beginning of this stage is well underway with the US involvement in trying to realign the entire Middle East to its interests and thus being forced to confront Russia's interests (thus the trumped up charges against Putin "hacking" our elections to fuel a new Cold War). We are also challenging Chinese regional interests in the South China Sea (not  a US Mare Nostrum). We are likewise building up NATO forces along the Russian border in retaliation to Russia's push back against a US sponsored ultra right coup in Ukraine. 

Finally, the Trump victory is a modern day  exemplification of the weakness of both the working class and the ruling establishment in the face of deteriorating conditions of world capitalism which can only maintain its profitability through military spending and environmentally destructive industrial practices that threaten the continuing existence of civilization as we know it. When capitalism is squeezed fascism and human destruction drip out as naturally as orange juice from an orange.

The growth of fascism is related to the disruption and disorganized behavior of the working class due to "a policy of class collaboration with the bourgeoisie"(the result of poor leadership) as well as "the weakness of the bourgeoisie itself, afraid of a united struggle of the working class" and afraid of its loss of power (Sanders political revolution?) it finds itself "no longer in a position to maintain its dictatorship over the masses by the old methods of bourgeois democracy and parliamentarism." Well, these old methods worked for the Republicans in this last election for the Congress and on the state level, but the premature and unexpected Trump victory has put the working  and progressive people of America on notice of what the future portends. We have two years to organize and fight back to regain the Congress and many of the states in the 2018 bi-elections: la lucha continua!