Friday, February 15, 2019

A Real National Emergency

If The Current Occupant was serious about addressing a real national emergency, he would be well advised to turn his attention to the ongoing environmental crisis brought about by increasing global warming and the accompanying climate disruption experienced throughout the world. Instead, he continues to be oblivious to and ignorant of the distinction between human induced climate change and the weather at any given moment. As a result, we need not look any farther than the White House to properly locate the source of our most dire threat to national security.

Combating the Crisis

It's more than a bit curious if not downright dubious (okay, call it specious) that our president will spend the first few days of our 'national emergency' playing golf in his Florida resort.

Thursday, February 7, 2019

The Turning of the Tide

It is a testament to the effect progressive influence has had on the current Democratic Party to hear longtime establishment apologist and regular MSNBC commentator Lawerence O'Donnell sing the praises of the contribution American socialist have made to the quality of life in this country. In response to the latest vilification of Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez, O'Donnell reminded his viewers that the eight hour work day along with the 40 hour work week were products of the efforts of thousands of early American socialists (Eugene Debs being a notable 20th century example although not specifically mentioned by O'Donnell). He went on to make note of the formation and popularity of such socialist programs as Social Security and Medicare and the specific contribution of FDR's Secretary of Labor, Francis Perkins, in the enactment of the former while noting the historical roots of the latter.

O'Donnell's declarations represent an abrupt change of attitude from at least this sector of the Democratic mainstream. It was only a few short months ago that O'Donnell was attempting to minimalize AOC's historic defeat of 20 year incumbent and party kingpin, Joseph Crowley, and, in so doing, hope to marginalize her accomplishment. In the ensuing months, O'Donnell has apparently come to realize the very real depth of appeal that current socialist ideas and programs enjoy among an ever growing majority of Americans. As alluded to by O'Donnell, socialism, its ideas and benefits, have been an essential part of the American societal fabric throughout much of our history although not always identified by name. We might add to this list the very publicly financed and proudly American institutions of the National Park Service; the vast and largely well functioning system of highways, roads, and bridges; the much lauded and often revered US military; our police and fire service; a network of public libraries; a public educational system at once filled with promise and in need of even greater attention and the promise of the restoration of fully finance higher education to compete on the world stage with other industrialized nations of the world. In the light of these existing socialistic realities, the introduction of the Green New Deal as proposed by Bernie Sanders, Ms Ocasio-Cortez and scores of other members of Congress appear not as outlying concepts but rather ideas consistent with ongoing and successful programs with which we are all well accustomed and familiar. These ideas echo a rich and vibrant heritage forged throughout our history by the efforts, sacrifices, and vision of the likes of Mr. Debs, Samuel Gompers, social activist Dorothy Day, the great Paul Robson, our would-be Vice President Henry Wallace, and the legendary vision of Martin Luther King. They and thousands of other American socialist forefathers must look upon the current iteration of those who strive for the full and authentic expression of democracy with pride and hope for the fulfillment of a dream once conceived and still yet to be fully realized.

Of course, there exists now, as then, a formidable opposition to this movement...a very well organized and financed effort to maintain the status quo of wealth disparity and the preservation of a system that protects the 1% of elites...American oligarchs dedicated not to the common good but rather to the perpetuation and continuance of their narrow, myopic, and destructive vision based upon greed and self aggrandizement. They are currently represented by the familiar Koch Brothers, the Waltons, Robert Mercer, and Leo Leonard and the Federalist Society just to cite a few notable examples. They will do their best to demonize the harbingers of change in the upcoming election cycle now already upon us with vile insult, misinformation, and outright defamation in an attempt preserve a hold on an unjust system increasingly viewed with disfavor. When mainstream representatives like Lawrence O'Donnell begin to accept the need for real change and link this need with reference to the heritage of past struggle and the existence of ongoing successful programs that benefit the many, we may look forward to a future where a consensus will be achieved to turn the tide and enjoy a day when, in the words of Mr. Dylan, 'the sun will respect every face on the deck; the hour when the ship comes in!' The ship is indeed on the horizon.

Tuesday, February 5, 2019

It's a Both/And Proposition

In response to the need to identify the most authentic progressive candidate for 2020, I'm in agreement with the the assertion that policy and ideology matter and that the continuation of the neo-liberal model as represented by the recent Democratic establishment needs to be replaced by a genuine progressive who better embodies the principles and vision inherent in a new and emerging base. That said, it is also true that electability matters and we must be mindful to balance our need to effect real change with a deep understanding of the political landscape in which we both operate and hope to transform.

Monday, February 4, 2019

Socialists Love Baseball Too!

Note to all Progressives: in spite of the heavy-handed capitalist marketing, the excessive allusions to and promotions of militarism implicit in American sports (please read Howard Bryant's The Heritage), the billionaire franchise owners, and the excessive salaries paid to a selected few...it's still okay to support your favorite teams and the individual athletes who populate them. It's not a mutually exclusive proposition to embrace Bernie Sanders while idolizing Sandy Koufax; hold Marx and Montana in high esteem; extol the virtues of Paul Robson and the Raiders; and sing the praises of George Bernard Shaw as you marvel at the exploits Georgie Best!! Remember: a well functioning team embodies the principles of collective effort and egalitarian regard for its constituent members while pursuing a common goal!

Friday, January 25, 2019

An Ignoble Legacy

With the imminent threat of yet another United States engineered coup d' etat looming in Venezuela, the Trump administration is poised to join the ranks of several past US administrations in orchestrating a regime change in Latin America. The ongoing political chaos under the leadership of current president Nicolas Maduro is a result of an unhappy mixture of governmental mismanagement, crippling economic sanctions unilaterally imposed by the US without United Nations authorization, and a relentless internal opposition by the US backed ultra right resistance which successfully undermined a recent agreement by members of the moderate opposition to negotiate a peaceful settlement with the Maduro regime in a peace conference in the Dominican Republic. At this point the National Assembly leader, Juan Guaido, is being touted by Secretary of State Mike Pompeo as the rightful heir to the presidency without the benefit of an actual democratic election...the classic trappings of a coup d' etat. Additionally, the election which brought Maduro to power was boycotted by the radical right opposition in an attempt to delegitimize Maduro presidency and pave the way for the coup we are now witnessing in real time.

This flaunting of international law which serves to protect the sovereignty of nations and protect against the illegal intervention of one nation into the internal affairs of another is, of course, perfectly consistent with past practice by the United States under the leadership of Democratic and Republican alike. The current inference of the US in the affairs of a sovereign nation reminds one of the CIA directed military coup against the democratically elected president of Guatemala, Jacobo Arbenz, in 1954 under the leadership of President Eisenhower and his Secretary of State, John Foster Dulles. It should be noted that an earlier attempt to unseat Arbenz was conducted during the administration of Harry Truman, which was successfully albeit temporarily thwarted by the Guatemalan government.

The Nixon/Kissinger regime became infamous in giving approval to the CIA backed assassination of the democratically elected president of Chile, Salvatore Allende, in September (11th, no less) of 1973. This resulted in one the most repressively brutal regimes of the 20th century under the dictatorship of Augusto Pinochet.

This legacy of illegal intervention continued under Bush the Elder (in 1991) and repeated itself during the regime of Bush the Lesser (in 2004) as they twice moved to undermine the popular presidency of Jean-Bertrand Aristide by presiding over his removal from office and his forced exile to Africa. It might be remembered with a degree of shame when then Secretary of State, Colin Powell, boldly announced on PBS, as an acquiescent Jim Lear passively looked on, that...'Aristide really has to go'. It was as if he was announcing to the world on behalf of the current, past, and future generations of American leaders that 'sovereignty be damned when we decide a regime change is in our best interests'! Of notable interest in the case of Haiti is that the ensuing chaos emanating from this coup led the way for the insertion of the Clinton Foundation in the 'rebuilding' of Haiti which resulted, instead, in further devastation of one of the poorest nations on the face of the Earth and the aggrandizement of Bush's predecessor.

A more recent example of our involvement in the removal of a democratically elected leader of a sovereign nation was 2009 military coup in Honduras, which ousted President Manuel Zelaya from office and replaced him with the US/CIA backed Roberto Micheletti with the full endorsement of then Secretary of State, Hillary Clinton, under the direction of the Obama/Biden administration. The resulting dissolution of this society has brought endless suffering to the Honduran people and yielded an environment in which lawlessness and gang violence has thrived to this day. We see clearly the effects of this societal deterioration in the form of the multitudes of refugees fleeing the country, often seeking asylum in this country...a cruel example of the blowback from unintended consequences.

It cannot be lost on even the most inattentive reader that these examples of orchestrated regime change were perpetrated against leftists governments not ideologically allied with the United States. It follows that these incursions into the politics of these sovereign countries were done in order to re-assert a kind of ideological and economic hegemony in the Southern Hemisphere against the will of the people and in service of our more narrow geo-political ambitions.

The current situation is essentially no different than the cases cited above in that, however flawed the Maduro administration might be as a result of internally and externally imposed forces, Venezuela, much like Guatemala, Chile, Haiti, and Honduras before them, has its own unique set of issues with which it must deal and must be allowed, as an independent and sovereign entity, to resolve their challenges by reference to their own electorate, free from foreign interference, violence, and malicious intent.

Thursday, January 24, 2019

A Thankless Task

Taking a moment here to express appreciation and gratitude to my friend Rich Osborn (among others) who works tirelessly to sort through the muck, mire, and minutiae of the unseemly residue left behind daily by The Current Occupant and his band of decidedly unhappy and incompetent minions.

During the past three years, I've written well over one hundred pieces about TCO and have reached a point best described by Mr. Dylan where: 'you're sick of all this repetition...' and await the metaphorical arrival of 'Queen Jane' (save the rather obvious symbolic reference).

Meanwhile, Rich persistently, determinedly, and with great insight exposes the various ways in which our democracy is threatened and undermined by this ill-informed, directionless, and thoroughly corrupt administration.

Thank you, Rich and others, for staying true to the task of exposing the incessant mendacity endemic to this regime and pointing the way forward...away from this darkened moment in time.