Sunday, July 30, 2017

Cold War Games

Thomas Riggins
Just substitute USA for Russia, CIA for KGB and other relevent substitutions and this article could be a Russian oped about the US and its attempts to interfer and subvert the Russian government. This is what the cold war was all about and it really is not in Russia's interests to start it up again but it seems that both military and political forces in the USA that benefited and profited from the cold war would like to restart it. The Russians are reacting to our pokes and pushes, they are not deliberately trying to antagonize us. (New York Times Comments)
Russian intelligence was probably behind Donald Trump Jr.’s meeting with Kremlin-linked people last year, and they meant for it to be discovered.

Tuesday, July 25, 2017

Richard Dawkins and Free Speech

Thomas Riggins
Considering all the different views people have it seems impossible not to express religious and political views that might "hurt people." Richard Dawkins has said some incredibility stupid things about Islam and Moslems but should he be banned from giving a talk on evolution, or science, or atheism when he is internationally recognized as a scholar in these fields? 
The station's general manager says “We believe that it is our free speech right not to participate with anyone who uses hateful or hurtful language against a community that is already under attack.” So he cancelled Dawkins' talk. His comment amounts to "We believe in free speech as long as we agree with it." Well we couldn't use "hurtful" language against the Nazi movement since it's a community being attacked.
Granted that as a scientist Dawkins should not get carried away with his emotions and make really dumb unscientific pronouncements about Islam but pointing them out should be sufficient remedy without attacking free speech rights.
Examples: Nobody calling himself a "rationalist" would make this stupid Dawkins tweet: "I think Islam is the greatest force for evil in the world today. I've said so, often and loudly." There is no such thing "Islam" tout court -- there are Sunni's, and Shites, and Alawites, and Sufi's, etc., and many permutations of all the above -- saints and sinners just like any other group of humans. Such a general tweet is just foolish ("evil" isn't even a useful term for a rationalist).
" In 2015, he wondered whether Ahmed Mohamed — the boy in Texas who was suspended after bringing a homemade clock to school that officials said resembled a bomb — wanted to get arrested given that the episode led to an invitation to the White House and crowdfunding." Dawkins must think the young man has prescience.
Just like the rest of us Dawkins says stupid things and doesn't always let logic and science overrule his emotions. As a "passionate rationalist" we can hope he will be more rational and less passionate but even if he isn't he shouldn't be censored and have his talks canceled by hypocrites.

A Berkeley radio station canceled an event promoting Mr. Dawkins’s new book, citing past comments and tweets that it said had “hurt people.”

Wednesday, July 19, 2017

Chit-Chat or After Dinner Conspiracy?

Thomas Riggins

Undisclosed? They sat and talked in full few of the people at the dinner. This article is so slanted it looks like the liberal version of a report by Bill Riley. Look at this ridiculous comment the NYT reproduces from one of its hearsay sources who wasn't even there: “We have the worst relationship as a country right now with Russia that we have in decades, and yet we have these two leaders that, for reasons that do not make sense and have not been explained to anyone’s satisfaction, are hellbent on adoring each other,” Mr. Bremmer said. “You can take everything that’s been given to us, and it doesn’t add up.” Really? 1. It makes perfect sense to try and improve the "worse relationship" so Trump's initiating a one on one talk at a dinner is a positive development. The idea that he was lured into this by Putin (expressed elsewhere in the article) is laughable -- he went over to talk with him on his own. 2. Nothing either of them has done indicates that Putin is "hellbent on adoring" Trump (or vice versa). This is just propagandist hyperbole more suited to the NY Post but becoming more frequent these days in the NYT as well. What doesn't add up is the nonsense passing as "news" concerning Russia and Putin in the mainstream media. There are millions of our fellow citizens completely ignorant of anything going on outside of their own backyards, their occasional contact with the press should alleviate not reinforce this ignorance. They should especially check out, online, The People's World (while occasionally succumbing to this meme it provides a much more realistic portrayal of realty than the mainstream corporate reality).
There is no official American record of the prolonged discussion between the two presidents on the sidelines of the Group of 20 summit meeting.

Thursday, July 13, 2017

Democratic Party Base Must Oust Corporate Leadership

Thomas Riggins

There are two sides to every story and this one by Robert Parry (one of our best investigative reporters) points out that while the Clinton campaign, and past presidential candidates, have all engaged in the same kind of "dirt search" as Trump Jr, the Russiangate narrative of the corporate media and reactionary Clinton-wing of the DP is ignoring the past to make Trump's behavior stand out. Seen in historical context, this is what is going on. Trump is an ultra-right domestic extremist who has an anti-working class agenda and must be fought against with all means possible. The focus must be on his disastrous environmental policies and betrayal of the interests of the people on behalf of private business interests. The DP under Clinton essentially abandoned its alliance with working people and sought a new base in the upper middle class professionals and moderate to liberal independents. A major sector of the US economy is based on the military industrial complex [MIC] and prospers from military spending and the active promotion of armed conflicts and confrontations around the world. The MIC uses three main sticks to beat the American people into line in supporting its goals --1) Iran is one of the major sources of Islamic terrorism and is a major threat to the US, 2) Russian aggression is an on going problem and needs to be constantly resisted, 3) China is a growing threat to American interests. All three of these are political myths to keep the MIC in power and to befool the American people. The Clinton wing of the DP and the Republican establishment promote all three of these myths as does the corporate mass media. Trump is not a whole hearted supporter of #'s 2 and 3 (as were the Clintons, Bush and Obama) and the MIC worries that real rapprochement with Russia and not confronting the growing power of China will threatened its monopoly of power and wealth. This entire attempt to drum up a new cold war and new McCarthyism with regard to Putin is based on this and has two aims 1. to whip Trump into line or replace him with Pence 2. to sabotage the resistance of the American people to the dominance of the ultra-right by keeping the Clinton corporate wing of the DP in the leadership position of the party (which is manifested by trying to split the popular fightback by advocating alliance with the reactionary corporatist Democrats instead of exposing them for they are). The left should ignore the Russiagate red herring and concentrate on the domestic struggle against Trumpism and continue to support the peace movement internationally.
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Wednesday, July 12, 2017

Academic Effort and Social Class

Thomas Riggins

"What this implies is that in order to promote meaningful sustained academic effort, researchers, educators and policymakers should consider what sorts of systemic changes to the educational environment might provide these students with concrete routes to mobility that are viable for students from their backgrounds." [In our capitalist caste system background is usually destiny.]
Beautiful! Educate the poor for "viable routes to mobility" considering their low social economic status. We already have a defacto two tier educational system -- one for the well off and one for those who wait on them (and a diminishing middle class of waiters striving to become more waited upon).
This article shows that those groups within our capitalist society that do poorly academically do so because society has stacked the chips against them and they know it. The social "science" solution of the bourgeoisie is not to get rid of capitalism but to modify "the educational environment" to make the poor better satisfied with their role at the bottom of the heap. Betsy DeVos is doing her job.

Tuesday, July 11, 2017

Trump. the NYT, and the Great Hearsay Email

1. The email itself wasn't sent by any Russian entity but by "Rob Goldstone, a publicist and former British tabloid reporter."
2. The email doesn't seem to be available so we have to rely on the hearsay evidence of " three people with knowledge of the email."
3. There is no evidence that this incidence has anything to do with the alleged hacking of computers by the Russian government.
4. It seems Goldstone sent his email based on hearsay he got from a chain of other people with hearsay evidence: ''One person who was briefed on the emails said it appeared that he was passing along information that had been passed through several others.'' I.e., the NYT story is about hearsay about an email containing hearsay.
5. The rest of the article is speculation about who said what and why to Mr Goldstone and what sort of information was involved other than what might have been some secret financing from Russia to the Clinton campaign (no interest in following up on that).
6. As to the notion that a political campaign might be interested to checking out some info to get dirt on another campaign, the NYT thinks " such a meeting was unusual for a political campaign.'' Really. The morally pristine high standards of American politicians and their campaign supporters may have been sullied by this meeting. This hearsay gossip of collusion is more troublesome than the actually available emails showing collusion at the top of the Democratic Party with the Clinton campaign to derail the Sanders campaign. Well, the ruling class decides what news is fit to print and if a footnote should be a headline. Marx said the ruling class determines the "truth" and ours doesn't trust Trump and hates the Russians for interfering with its plans for how the world should be run.
Trump is doing enough real damage, we don't need red herrings to distract us.
The president’s son was told in an email that the Russian government wanted to help Donald J. Trump’s election bid last year.

Saturday, July 08, 2017

Proof is a Diversionary Tactic -- The New York Times

Thomas Riggins

An amazing editorial wherein the NYT just accepts as "truth" what the CIA et al announces it to be and then adds "... Mr. Putin denied involvement in the election, as he has in the past, and asked the Americans fogr proof — a familiar diversionary tactic by Russians caught red-handed." Being caught "red-handed" implies unassailable proof of an action but the reason Putin asks for proof of Russian government hacking is because the US has never provided any real proof -- just allegations that we are supposed accept because the CIA etc., says it's so! This is the same thing Trump expects when he asserts one of his alternate reality factoids and the NYT now decides that CIA factoids are acceptable and peddles its own alternate reality based on its adherence to outmoded anti-Russian cold war policies! It's nice to know that if someone asks either the US government, or now the NYT, for proof of what it says the new paradigm is "Asking for proof is a diversionary tactic." All the news fit to print indeed!
The president, meeting with his Russian counterpart, seems too eager to put the hacking issue behind him.

Monday, July 03, 2017

Racism, Housing, and the Government

Thomas Riggins

"What this means [i.e.,only putting projects and funding in minority neighborhoods] fair-housing advocates say, is that the government is essentially helping to maintain entrenched racial divides, even though federal law requires government agencies to promote integration." This is an example of the system's structural racism: the racial divide is automatically perpetuated due to the economic "laws" of supply and demand plus the function of bourgeois democracy within a pre-existing racist cultural environment. The democratic rights of upper income people living in a specific area have to be curtailed (their rights to vote on the zoning rules and building codes enacted in their area) since their pre-existing cultural prejudices lead them to vote for discriminatory laws that curtail the democratic rights of low income people to be able to choose where to live. Under capitalism the two rights are in conflict. The solution involves a lessening of income inequality and a strengthening of public state controlled education to ensure equal educational opportunities for all. These two factors, at the present time, are exactly the opposite of what the capitalist state is promoting. The solution can only be provided by a socialist alternative and that is why the struggle to change the present top leadership within the Democratic Party and replace it with a progressive working class leadership is so important as one of first steps (along with other progressive civil society movements) in the direction of a truly enlightened democratic socialist solution (based on Marxist principles) to the structural racism in the United States.

In Houston and in other cities, efforts to build low-income homes in wealthy, majority white neighborhoods have stalled.