Wednesday, March 21, 2018

Putin Reelected President of Russia

"There was no real need for extensive rigging, however, because of Mr. Putin’s genuine popularity." It's difficult for many to believe, brought up on much anti-Putin reportage in the MSM, that Russia has actually conducted a free and fair election, as far as these kinds of elections occur anywhere, and a popular president has been democratically reelected by the Russian people. I know it's difficult to believe, but this particular Russian election was more democratic than our own in which the winner was the person with the lesser number of votes than the loser. All the comments about election sham, rigged election, voter suppression, etc., is better reserved for the US electoral system than for the election that has just been won by Mr. Putin.
The CPRF got 13% of the vote -- what kind of undemocratic authoritarian government allows a Communist Party to openly exist, run in elections, and be the second largest political party in the country?
Voters came out in smaller numbers than the Kremlin had hoped, but the result showed that President Vladimir V. Putin of Russia enjoys broad approval among the people.

Saturday, March 17, 2018

For Fans of Bertrand Russell

  1. An article on Russell's trip to Soviet Russia to meet with Lenin (Google has 2015 but it really is 2017!)

    Spring 2015 Bulletin - The Bertrand Russell Society
    Thomas Riggins, and Peter Stone. ... Bertrand Russell Society Bulletin Spring 2017 1 ... BertrandRussell’s Impressions of Soviet Russia by Thomas Riggins, p.

Monday, March 12, 2018

How Democrats Can Regain the House

"In their quest to pick up 24 seats, congressional Democrats have focused heavily on courting moderate, suburban voters who dislike Mr. Trump, and for whom issues like trade and union rights are remote considerations." To focus on this group of basically middle class professionals to the neglect of an equal focus on the blue collar union and non union working class would be fatal to any Democratic attempt to retake the House. The Party has to undo its Clinton era blunders resulting in its retreat from the traditional alliance with the union movement. The Left should be agitating for working class issues both within and outside of the confines of DP thus exerting a progressive "gravitational pull" on wavering so-called moderate Democrats.
After President Trump won a landslide there in 2016, Ohio has become a crucial test for populist Democrats seeking a comeback in the midterm campaign.

Sunday Meditation

(Women and minorities around the world are still waiting for this Proclamation of the French Revolution to reach them -- including those in France!)
"Freedom consists in the ability to do everything which injures no one else; hence the exercise of the natural rights of each man has no limits except those which assure to the other members of the society the enjoyment of the same rights. These limits can only be determined by law."-- "Declaration of the Rights of Man and of the Citizen" French National Constituent Assembly, 1789.

Sunday, March 04, 2018

Democrats & Republicans Team Up to Help Wall Street Not Main Street

"In the typically gridlocked Congress, with the Trump legislative agenda mostly stalled, members of both parties will come together to roll back financial rules, during the 10th anniversary of the biggest banking crisis in nearly a century. And it’s happening with virtually no media attention whatsoever." The article also points out that some "populist" center-left Democrats are sponsors of this anti-people and pro Big Banks legislation. The author concludes that if a "populist Democrat feels they can sponsor such a bill and see political benefit — or at least not face much pain — [it] represents a stark failure on the left to adequately frame and define the conversation around banking, Wall Street, inequality, and the economy." Some think we failed miserably in our duty to the working class by not so framing these issues enough in the 2016 election; let's not repeat our mistakes in the upcoming midterms by uncritically supporting candidates on the Center-Left we are working to elect when they support measures that put profits before people.

Thursday, March 01, 2018

Xi Jingpin and the "Forces of History"

"That history [term limits] suggests that Beijing’s leaders are on what former Secretary of State Hillary Clinton once called a “fool’s errand”: trying to uphold a system of government that cannot survive in the modern era." Granted that Ms. Clinton is an expert on fool's errands, both she and this article are way off base. The mystical and unmeasurable "forces of history" are always trotted out to cover up ignorance of the real situation and to justify mere speculation as knowledge. China introduced term-limits in 1982 to stabilize and strengthen the political situation in the aftermath of the Great Proletarian Cultural Revolution. Nevertheless, Deng Xiaoping remained the "paramount leader" both in and out of office until his death in 1997. The real source of a leader's political power today is in the office of General Secretary of the CPC which is not subject to term limits. The change being proposed is purely cosmetic and all the hoopla in the Western press is nonsense. The stability of the Chinese government is due to the CPCs ability to properly perceive the economic and political realities of the modern world and to guide the Socialist project embarked upon with the triumph of the revolution in 1949.
China kept a half-century of global democratic growth at bay by at least nodding to the importance of institutions and rules. Now what?

Sunday, February 25, 2018

Neanderthals and Art

The view that Neanderthals were backwards and slow compared to us is the result of the same racist attitudes that put forth the notion that even within our species there are some groups that are backward and slow compared to others. "Artefacts whose functional value lies not so much in their practical but rather in their symbolic use are proxies for fundamental aspects of human cognition as we know it." That's fine -- but cave art may have been part of a tradition of sympathetic magic in which success of the hunt depended on ceremonies performed involving these art works making them practical as well as symbolic. Taking the knee at football games may be symbolic but it is also practical if it raises consciousness of hypocrisy .
Scientists have found the first major evidence that Neanderthals, rather than modern humans, created the world's oldest known cave paintings -- suggesting they may have had an artistic sense similar to our own.


Sunday Meditation

Sunday Meditation
 (In remembrance of Billy Graham)
"They prate of God; believe it, fellow creatures,
There's no such bugbear; all was made by Nature.
We know all came from nothing, and shall pass
Into the the same condition once it was,
By Nature's power; and that they grossly lie
Who say there's hope of immortality. 
Let them but tell us what a soul is, then
We will adhere to these mad brain-sick men"--
"Christmas Carol" of the Ranters(1650)

[The Ranters were one of a number of nonconformist dissenting groups that emerged around the time of the English Commonwealth (1649–1660). They were largely common people, and there is plenty of evidence that the movement was widespread throughout England, though they were not organised and had no leader.-- Wikipedia]

Monday, February 19, 2018

Iran Threatens Israel?

Thomas Riggins
"But as the rebels have lost ground and no clear threats to Mr. Assad's rule remain, Iran and its allies have stayed, shifting their focus to creating an infrastructure to threaten Israel, analysts say." But Turkey remains anti-Assad and has invaded areas of Syria. The US has bases in Syria and is reported to be planning a permanent (!) presence using Kurdish surrogates, Israel continues to occupy Syrian territory (the Golan Heights), and bombs the country whenever it feels like it, and the US continues to fund the remnants of Syrian rebels to keep alive the fiction of widespread anti-Assad resistance. Israel has been advocating a preventive war against Iran for years so rather than "creating an infrastructure to threaten Israel" the NYT should have said "to deter Israel" -- but we know which side of the conflict the NYT is on. If Israel wants peace all it has to do is give back land it has stolen contrary to international law, quit bombing its neighbors, give up its occupation of the West Bank and let the Palestinians have their independence with East Jerusalem as their capital (and stop calling them 'cockroaches' -- they are human beings). What are the chances that U.S. imperialism, which thrives on war and military conflicts, and it's Israeli hand puppet will take the road to peace rather than exacerbate the situation ? [ Is 'puppet' too strong? Israel takes U.S. handouts and he who pays the piper calls the tune.] Both Israel and its neighbors can live together in peace if that's what the U.S. decides it wants (really wants).
Iran is training thousands of militiamen in Syria and deploying drones and precision weapons. Its goal, say analysts: a united front in any war with Israel.