Tuesday, March 28, 2017

Apartheid exists Now

A great discussion of the UN report shelved last week.  

In the comments I learned about Rabbi Elmer Berger, an early American anti-Zionist.  (I have previously written about the many early 20th century anti-Zionist rabbis in Europe and their dire forecasts for the future of a premature* Jewish State, forecasts that seem to following course as to now.  The tragedy of Israel subjugating Palestine is as likely as anything to foster even greater anti-Semitism in the future.)

(*Zionism as per Herzog is a secular nationalist doctrine.  Religious Judaism prior to the Holocaust had tough conditions intended to ultimately lead to a proper Jewish national return to Israel; it would happen when the conditions were met--sometime in the perhaps distant future--without requiring compromising 'deals' with secular powers, not to mention terrorist acts or state terrorism.  Zionism was more lets just do it now--the end justifies the means--and Herzog was especially denounced by European rabbis.)

There is some filling in about the anti-Zionist arguments against JVP, who ultimately couldn't decide what to do about the word Zionism and ultimately shut down a discussion about it.  And against Chomsky, who does not accept the arguments of BDS promoters (he hopes for an ultimate 2 state solution, for one thing, and retains respect for the fundamental idea of Zionism, a Jewish State, if achieved through means respecting the rights of all).  Though it was not mentioned in defense of Chomsky that Chomsky has long called the practices of Israel to be Apartheid (or--worse), the initial topic of this thread.

I think I've supported JVP in the past, but no more.  Chomsky is still as worth reading as ever, with the caveat that he does have a somewhat romantic view in at least one area (despite co-authoring book with Pappe and so on).

From time to time in the past I've had membership in Rabbi Michael Lerner's Tikkun.  I have never seen Lerner as anti-Zionist, in that regards he might well be further from that than Chomsky.  And with an even more romantic view, which I have sometimes enjoyed reading.

And the disgrace of Princeton, under pressure from JVP (and others--of course--as commenter fails to mention) turning away Miko Peled (he came to a university near me and I bought his book).

More than just a few bad apples

Judging by the account in the New York Times, Donald Trump fired the very best of federal attorneys when he fired Bharara Preet.

But according to well informed Professor Bill Black, however good Preet may have been relatively speaking, on an absolute scale he was simply not prosecuting many big crimes that insider whistleblowers presented to him.

Professor Black presents two well documented cases that Preet didn't touch.  In general, we know that the US Government did very little to prosecute banks and bankers in the wake of the 2008 financial collapse.  Preet was part of that overall dearth of prosecution, despite what has been said by the Times.

As the last commenter says:

Not for nothing, but Preet came out of Schumer’s office who has parlayed being Wall Street’s senator into dejure leadership of the Senate Dems and defacto control of the Democratic party.
Picking off egregious individuals like Madoff, who can be described as “bad apples” while ignoring systemic fraud is the playbook.

Indeed, picking off a few bad apples only is always the approach of a corrupt system.

Near the end of World War II, spymaster Allen Dulles, who was stationed in Switzerland, attempted to negtotiate an end of the war with Himmler, a deal which would essentially leave the Third Reich in place but remove Hitler as the Bad Apple.  Roosevelt understood this temptation years earlier, and had already established a firm position of accepting unconditional surrender only.  Now we know how bad such a deal as Dulles and Himmler were attempting would have been.

Sunday, March 26, 2017

Fillibuster Neil Gorsuch

Democrats should refuse to grant cloture for a vote on Neil Gorsuch until...after the next Presidential election.  After all, that's what Republicans did last time.  The Constitution sets no mandatory number of Supreme Court Justices, nor timetables on the Senate.

There's no need to tie this to any investigations.  Just until the people do see a nominee who is actually concerned about the People and not so fond of using technicalities to dismiss established rights.

Friday, March 24, 2017

Athiests have many different political orientations

Over at Crooked Timber, a good post about Trumpism and Religion was followed by mind provoking comments as usual, but this time including one commenter who kept railing that American Athiests "are Libertarians" meaning they are not concerned about economic inequality or positive rights.  There has also been much demonization of Democrats and Liberals (as compared with Leftists) wrt their insufficient concern about economic inequality.  I wrote 3 replies as follows:

  Self-appointed Atheist spokespeople such as Sam Harris can more freely engage in anti-theist rhetoric (and therefore sell more books) precisely if they don’t need to care about working with them in electoral coalitions like the Democratic Party.
If you live in the USA and hope to keep things from getting disastrously worse in the short term with regards to inequality, bigotry, or worse, you pretty much need to be involved with the Democratic Party, despite it having always been a (now somewhat lesser) part of the ruling plutocracy. 
And that describes fairly well my friends here in the red state of Texas, almost all of whom could be described as Atheists, Leftists, Liberals, and Democrats. We’re people who marched with the local Occupy, and yet still voted for Hillary Clinton in the general election (after having vigorously supported Sanders until after the Convention). The Democratic Party is the only big tent that most of us could find remotely tolerable, and 3rd party politics is one step above or below worthless in the modified Madisonian system (there’s a very long shot one of the two parties could be replaced…but it’s a very long shot, and “disciplining” the party has been very difficult under the circumstances of the past 37 years, and not looking like it’s getting better). 
I’ve grown more and more suspicious of people who can only demonize Atheists, Liberals, and Democrats, though many of my friends frequently do demonize liberals and Democrats (but not always). We all need to work together (not that we need to be fully “united”). 
I’ve listened briefly to some of the speeches of Madalyn Murray O’Hair, and at first pass she sounds more like a New Dealer than a Libertarian. She had notable concerns about the environment and voted for Democrats. Her organization was called American Atheists (fwiw) though I’m not sure of that organizations left/right orientation on economic policy and the like now. 
But most activists attempt to draw as many as possible into the fold based on the area(s) of their greatest concerns, without trying to filter them out based on other issues. 
For me, the economic policy issues have always been at the top (by which I mean better jobs and less inequality), however I’m beginning to think some kind of greater rationalism would be useful also. In the past, I hadn’t really cared about people’s other beliefs. But taking this broader view looks even more hopeless.
(Second comment)

Atheism or at least anti-clericalism has been the general tendency of the left since the French Revolution. Marx was Atheist and declared Socialism and Communism must be. And so it seems that in most times and places far more leftists were and are Atheist than otherwise. Why should it be different in America?
Now at the same time, Ayn Rand was an atheist, and there has been an Atheist streak in the American Objectivist and Libertarian camps from the beginning. And there has been an Atheist streak among other groups for self-selection reasons, people who believe in Civil Rights for example.
So if you are going to generalize about American Atheists and say they are almost entirely Libertarian, you are also saying something about the relative sizes of these communities.
But why should you be making such generalizations about American Atheists? It would seem to go along with being critical of American Atheists, for one thing, and unfairly so, because there are obviously American Atheists of many stripes.

(Third comment, really just a correction of the first.)

 Humanism (not Rationalism) is what’s needed in facing down a fascist impulse.

Absurd Penalties for Just Looking at Pictures

And sometimes, just looking at pictures at a party sponsored by the FBI.


Wednesday, March 22, 2017

Fat Cats First

I see the Trump "budget" documents stamped with a title "America First," but it seems to me it looks more like Fat Cats First.

Articles on Robots



I'm not sure what to think.  I doubt the implicitly cornucopian ideas Economists seem to have, the ones which don't take into account physical limits and claim essentially infinite substitution possibilities.  OTOH, a lot of people don't see that material intensity is not necessarily an essential part of spending, there are endless immaterial possibilities.

In anything like the still essentially consumer economy we have, robots would appear to be a plus.  It's only when we get to deeply unequal falangist societies, even more unequal than today, that robots take the place of, and don't add to the need for, more human labor, and there isn't a support system for the non-rich.

Sadly, we generally seem to be taking the latter route.

Sunday, March 19, 2017

Must Reads

Myths about Iran

An Eisenhower Conservative talks about Zionist influence in America and BDS.  This one is peculiarly interesting to me as he discusses his original reaction to Gore Vidal's essay on the Podhoretz's, which I have recently been reading, and his updated thinking on it.

Friday, March 17, 2017

My feelings about gay and lesbian

My frame is the same as Gore Vidal, himself noted for same sex companions, who said there are no homosexuals, only homosexual acts.  In other words, we're all capable of homosexual acts, we're all essentially bisexual, and who does and doesn't is ultimately and should ultimately be something like choice.   As a practicing homosexual, and a radical liberal opposed to all prohibitions (aka victimless crimes), he thought that was fine, there should be his version of liberalism everywhere, especially in the USA where we are supposed to be able to "pursue happiness."  Of course, he personally had the means to escape from places when and where that wasn't true, living much of the time in Italy.

However, this framing hasn't been popular in the great leaps of gay liberation that occurred after the murder of Harvey Milk.  Instead, gays have latched onto the idea that homosexuality is a genetic trait, something which they inheirited.  Since they had no control over it, and it's part of their basic identity, they shouldn't be forced to change it, which has essentially been the nature of the legal arguments banning discrimination against homosexuals.  Not the Vidal approach, which I would have preferred, which would eliminate laws against all victimless crimes as themselves representing an unconstitutional establishment of religion (Vidal believed American prohibitions derived from the ill influences of monotheisms, variously called sky god or abrahamic, or sometimes he'd single out Chrisitianity).

Technically speaking there are no "genetic" traits, all traits are mixtures of heredity and environment.

I continue to have no ill feelings toward homosexuals, especially male homosexuals (good for you, two more women for me) but toward lesbians I may feel resentment if they are committed to lesbianism rather than bisexuality.

I did once meet a heterosexually married former lesbian during my year in San Francisco, and FWIW she felt that exclusive lesbians (as she had been) were not experiencing all of the potential in life, a heterosexual relationship being far more difficult, but in the end, far more rewarding as well.  That has always sounded correct to me, and applicable to male homosexuality as well.  But this is not to say that all are cut out for hetero acts (and relationships) and vice versa.  I feel my own disinclination toward homosexual acts is more like my disinclination toward eating shellfish than an essential part of my being.

I walked into a Lesbian Bar right across from my Hotel when I was staying in Amsterdam for a week in 2004.  I didn't at the time realize it was a lesbian bar, I think somebody had told me beforehand but it went in one ear and out the other.  For 5 minutes, I found myself talking openly to a number of women and liking it very much, not like a regular bar at all.  It was a great feeling, like I had finally found home.  But then the bell went off.  I hadn't found "a friend" in 5 minutes, and since I was male, I was therefore required to leave.  Everyone I thought was my new friend turned their backs on me.

I've never been shut out of a male gay bar, but never had that magic feeling either.

None of this is good reason for "bathroom bills."  I trust what gender people have chosen, that's what counts for society is what people have chosen, and those people who have made the difficult choice to change and all the investment that it has required to make that change and obviously how much they care about it all mean they are the ones least likely to set a bad example for their chosen gender.

The point is, in social affairs choice is not just "a" think, it is "the" think which makes the difference between an oppressive society and one with positive and creative potential.  The notion that prohibitions can make people make the "correct" choices, or even have the moral authority to determine what those are, is wrong, and part of a sky god religious outlook.  With regards to forcing people to make the correct choices, the tendency in adults and relatively independent persons is to dig in, to establish their differentiating identity even more.

Saturday, March 11, 2017

Electoral College

I've been reading articles by the late Gore Vidal as published in Nation magazine.  He remarked that Benjamin Franklin's take on the Constitution (when he said, "you have a republic, if you can keep it" his meaning was he wasn't betting it would last long).  Then, he projected Franklin's take on the Electoral College as a system that would nuture the worst sort of corruption.

And so it is today.  I'm among those who recognize that it's somewhat pointless to bemoan the Electoral College because the same anti-majoritarian number work against ammending the constitution.  Combine that with political polarization, and it looks pretty hopeless.

But perhaps I should reaffirm that the case should always be made.  What's wrong with one person one vote across the entire country?  Is that really the most representative of The People's choice for the President?  Isn't that what a democratic republic should be like?  Why must we stick with a system whose origin was strongly anti-democratic: the preservation of slavery and the preservation of elite rule?

At some point, if and when the cross-state political polarization has declined somewhat, now possibly if Trump brings the country back to some sort of common ground, for starters what a horrible President Trump was.  When we get to that point, if we get to that point, and suppose the GOP is way flushed out of congress and the excutive, then perhaps we might be able to positive ammend the constitution on this point.

A few more thoughts on the Electoral College.  Beyond the wierdness of the weighting of the importance of votes being heavily skewed toward smallest states, and of the importance of small margins of vote percentages in large states, and more, the Electoral College also negates the effect of statewide turnout.  Having everyone turnout in a particular state essentially makes no difference, the state gets the same number of Electoral College votes either way.

The effect of this is to give a license for statewide voter suppression of minorities.  If you can ensure only that only particular elites are able to vote, you get the elite vote.  In this case, the political elite who mostly controls state governments, the GOP.

How long it will take for all this to crumble and fade, with the collapse and abandonment of the GOP, is uncertain.  And by that, I mean human society might collapse first from the effects of global heating or nuclear war before that.  The GOP has their hands on the machinery of power, with at least one widespread and well organized group--evangelical christians--on their side.  And sufficient control of the machinery of opinion--Fox News and the Wall Street Journal, to keep it running on fumes for quite awhile.  Here's hope that people in the future remember that when I was first trying to get a job, in 1979, it was surprisingly easy to start on a wonderful career which has been good to me ever since.  That was what it was like before the Reagan Revolution.  My mother born in 1915 made major moves from city to city just on whim every 14 years, never worried about finding a new job in a new city.  That's what it should be like.

Caitlin Johnstone on the Russia Conspiracy Theories

Who is Caitlin Johnstone and why does she think exactly like me about the reasons why hysteria over Russia is unwarranted, as she spells out in great detail here.

And she reprises what we know about Seth Rich here, I think it's pretty plausible Seth Rich was the actual leaker (not hacker, since he worked there and had access to them) of the DNC documents, and that his death was somehow related to that.  Officialdom has decided that no conspiracy was behind this, move along, but following the details Cailtin shows it seems unlikely this was actually a "robbery" as officially claimed.  The fact that Julian Assange has offered a reward for information about Rich's killer also suggests that he suspects Rich was involved, and Assange knows more about it than most of us do (though some have interpreted this as Assange merely trying to point away from the Russians...who Assange has specifically denied being involved).

Why would Seth be murdered?  I don't know, but just to show there are many very different kinds of possibilities:

1) Someone wanted to set an example for other leakers, don't leak or this will happen to you.
2) Someone who accepted the documents didn't want their identity to be known.
3) Some other person involved, perhaps in setting up the meeting, or having heard about it, didn't want their identity to be known.
4) The documents had been promised to "A" but were delivered to "W."  "A" was very upset AND possibly compromised or scooped.
5) The payment received from the leak was insufficient to pay someone else who had given an ultimatum for payment.

Tuesday, March 7, 2017

Candidates and Ambassadors

A former US ambassador to Russia (under George H.W. Bush) says that Presidential candidates and their advisors should talk with foreign ambassadors.  He felt it was his job to cultivate friendly relations with both Gorbachev, whom the US supported  and Yelsin, the opposition candidate.*  And that is especially important wrt the US and Russia because we must do everything possible to prevent nuclear war.

I completely agree with Ambassador Matlock on this.

(*I've always believed GHWB secretly supported Yelsin as part of the plan to collapse the Soviet Union.  So then it was especially important for the Ambassador to cultivate relationships with both candidates, for the appearance of fairness if nothing else.)

Investigative Reporter Robert Parry compares the current "madness" in Washington (now with Trump making unfounded accusations of his own in response) with previous episodes of documented wrongdoing, such as when Kissinger foiled the end of the Vietnam War under Johnson, and when Reagan aides foiled an early settlement of the Iranian Hostage Crisis.  In these and similar instances, substantive evidence of actual wrongdoing (and not merely conversations) was found and reported before official inquiries were demanded.  He says that unless some evidence is presented, people are calling for a politically motivated witch hunt or fishing expedition.  Parry also defends the known actions of both Flynn and Sessions.  I agree Flynn did nothing improper and simply failed to remember all the details of an earlier conversation, whereas Sessions denied even having conversations he had actually had, which does not look good for the chief US law enforcer, though it is not grounds for an investigation as such, because there is no other evidence he did something improper.

Parry also quotes from an interview with James Clapper, the US intelligence director under Obama, that there is no evidence of collusion between the Russians and Trump to win the election.

Sunday, March 5, 2017

Is the IWW worth joining?

Here's an interesting discussion from two years ago.

It sounds interesting.  I'm a member of DSA (Democratic Socialists) but there is no local DSA in my area.  I briefly attempted to organize one, but I'm not that committed I decided.

IWW may be more go getting now, it's actually a younger organization, and is said to be faster growing.

It's said to not impose an ideology beyond class struggle, so you could be socialist, communist, or anarchist, though it seems most members are anarchists nowadays, according to reports above.

And the seas will rise to swallow "democratic" Capitalism and everything else

The main thing that needs be made clear is that the Antarctic is not fundamentally floating ice. It is glacial ice that is supported, at least in a central area, by land mass. When pieces of antarctic ice break off into the ocean, they raise sea level. This is not true of arctic ice, which is floating ice. But it is true of Greenland’s glaciers and other land mass supported ice.
Alarmist or not, if all the ice of antarctica were to melt, it would raise sea level by about 60 meters. Combined with other ice that would likely be melted by then also, like Greenland ice, and expansion, the ultimate total potential for sea level rise is 80 meters. Lack of permanent ice was the norm in the previous history of earth, and there was a correspondingly higher sea level also. We live in a peculiar era, which has served us well but we are hastily disposing of. Actually if we could have moderated global heating correctly, we could have simply prevented a otherwise forthcoming ice age. But that hope is distant now. From this point, there may not be any more ice ages going forwards. More immediately, on the order of a few thousand years or less, the ultimate sea level rise will make most of human establishment worthless, as a large proportion of human habitation and essential physical plant are less than 80 meters above current sea level, including structures which support essential trade. OK so this won’t happen tomorrow, but what will be happening tomorrow, and every day afterwards long into the future, is a halting rise, coupled with increased storms and surges which will chip away at what we have bit by bit, and moreso each coming year.
We’re only saved if you want to call it that by the time which would be required to melt all of the ice, which is often guesstimated on the order of 1000’s of years. But it seems every day we find this or that bit of glacial ice is melting faster than expected. Water flowing under the ice or in cracks can accelerate the process. So how long this is actually going to take is a deep unknown. It might well take less than 1000 years.
Global heating is also a millenial process by which I mean that even if we quit burning fossil fuels today (and that would still be too late, as by now a crippling 2C or so of rise is already baked in) it will take a millenia or so merely to reach the new equilibrium created by the higher level of CO2 we have created.
I’m sorry that most world politics doesn’t want to deal with this, but mine does. I work to make my own activities carbon neutral, and try to push society in general in this direction as much as I can. I always try to think of the very long term, and not just the next 50 years.
The reason politics can’t deal with this is that it is controlled by money, and there’s still a lot of money which could be made by more fossil fuels, and a lot of rich people are expecting return on their civilization destroying investments.
This is the ultimate test of “democratic” capitalism, and it will almost certainly fail to deliver a good outcome.
And sea level rise is only one small part of this outcome.

Saturday, March 4, 2017

Taxes and Spending

Everyone seems to have this wrong.  Modern Monetary Theorists come close to the correct approach, but don't spell it out like I do.

If the government were to just "print money" and not borrow it from a private bank (the Fed) it would never have to pay interest.  Furthermore, so long as the money so printed (without being canceled by incoming taxes) was being invested wisely, it could so be done without limit.

The problem of course with our current system is that (by Truman's design) we spend vast amounts of money (and that also means brains and time) on "defense" (never seen before WWII) simply to maintain something like the full employment economy of WWII (never mind there were many other regulations in WWII).  All this military spending generally makes us less safe, by creating actual enemies in the rest of the world.  If we simply left the rest of the world to itself, or did our small share that could be agreed to by the UNSC, we would actually be safer, by not creating enemies.  In addition, or diplomatic and other support of Israel creates enemies, and it costs money too.  Some theorize many of the wars in the middle east have to do with Israel, certainly Al Qaeda originally specified US support of Israel as being one of 3 principal reasons it needed to attack the US.  NATO is another big troublemaker, creating trouble that needs to be solved by NATO, ad infinitum.

We would be safer spending as much as Germany does, per capita.  Maybe less, since we have a naturally secure location on earth.

Anyway, none of this military spending is useful spending.  It doesn't create future wealth.  It makes us poorer, and without WWII style regulations it also makes us more unequal.

On the other hand, if we used the same humanpower to build renewable energy and free transportation everywhere, it would be of immense future value and pay for itself in future saving (or otherwise, we basically have no future).

As long as people are unemployed, or not employed to their highest capacity, there is room for more productive spending.

And that is the only limit.

Anyways, if we don't need taxes for investment spending, we do need it for war spending.  And we also need taxes, progressive taxes, to prevent people from getting too rich.

There's an essential problem in capitalism: it's rigged so rich people keep on getting richer, far more than any contribution to society.  In recent times, we've even dropped the idea about contribution to society part, rich people are "supposed" to be getting richer just because they deserve it.

Crap!  Balzac had it correct: behind every great fortune is a great crime.  Nobody deserves to be rich for very long, and especially not to create a dynasty.  Our best tax on wealth, the estate tax, is expressly for that purpose.  This may be the single most important tax, regardless of how much money it brings in (and it does bring in a lot).  And it need only apply to extremely big estates, such as $10M and up.

There should be no tax on spending, as this is a direct tax on the economy itself, and production for that matter.  Spending taxes are almost always regressive.  Remember the purpose of a tax system should be to help restore the justice the economic system, which rewards the powerful for being more powerful, takes away.

Social Security taxes are not properly considered part of the government.  They are part of a self contained retirement system, which has worked well for 75 years, starting from nothing, and can pretty well keep working without large changes forever.  It was originally, and could at any time return to being, a pay as you go system.  Of course, it has now built up a large extra endowment to cover demographic change costs.  Those will help maintain benefits, but actually the tiniest of increased taxes can keep it going as the system it is, which is the best kind of system for a public system, forever.  Angry Bear had a detailed proposal how 10 year reviews could add the required tiny change, simply to keep the next 10 years going, no need to obsess now about 30 years away.  However, the big issue here is pay equity.  If people in the future are paid well, the system is very sound.  We should obsess mainly about keeping good pay for people in the future.  The way to do that is through unions and the like, and full employment in domestic production and investment.  I do favor raising the cap on social security taxes, but also along with a corresponding progressive increase in the maximum benefit too, so nobody can feel this is a welfare system, though it produces enormous added welfare in society through income security for the elderly and others.  I would prefer keeping Social Security as it is and abolishing the rest of the US government to the reverse, not that I prefer abolishing the government at all, only the trillion dollar a year useless and dangerous military.

And the way to maintain the future incomes needed to keep social security healthy, is primarily by achieving optimal employment now, and as much as possible, always.  This is primarily inhibited by concerns about inflation, which should only be a tertiary concern.

Mainly, we got people, and putting them all to good use is only way we can be as wealthy as possible.

My letter to Tom Perez

Hi Tom,

A high priority for me would be to continue marijuana legalization across the country, not push it back as Trump's people seem poised to do.

The biggest priority for all should be ending the permanent wars, bases, and war economy, cutting ongoing military spending to about the level of Germany, and using all the displaced funds to build out renewable energy and free transportation everywhere.  But that's dreaming about what people could do if we had leaders, not corporate shills from the I'll be gone, You'll be gone school.  If other countries need defense they can't provide for themselves, they should try the UN.  Looks to me like Ukraine should be split, but first and foremost, it's not our problem.


A friend wanted me to read this.  I struggled to do so.  It's hard for an old leftist like me not to feel sympathy what what Bookchin is saying in 1991.  He was was way ahead of me.  He expresses the specific angst about revolutionary feelings divorced from coherent analysis everywhere.  We need a relatively shared coherent analysis, and he isn't actually trying to provide one, he's begging that we will come together and create one.

Amongst all the deep thinking and expression, however he is making one fundamental claim.  And that is that class based analysis is insufficient, we must reject all hierarchies.

Curiously, while he believes we can reject all hierarchies, he is calling for a new intelligensia, a clear sign of a new hierarchy.

And this small example illustrates my thinking that total rejection of hierarchy is impossible, even in a world of equality and freedom, hierarchies remain here and there...we need being to have mutually beneficial hierarchies--it is basic to association.  Like dogs, and even cats, we are naturally hierarchical, and barely work at all together without at least some kind of structure.  When there is no formal structure, informal structure arises.  While consensus approaches to group decision making (as used by Anarchists and Occupy) are great in small groups of equally participating partners, in larger groups, like mass movements, it devolves to dictatorship of the argumentative.  It is a recipe for failure in ever getting anything done to improve society too.  In practice, for all their flaws, majoritarian approaches generally work better at getting things done than requiring 100% consensus. I wonder if direct democracy might be the solution to the kind of corruption we see in our republics.  Not to say there may be situations where consensus is required, however, such as in apportioning rights.

Meanwhile, I believe a class based analysis can illuminate where are our oppression, hierarchical or not, ultimately comes from.  Other oppressions are created because they serve the ruling class in one way or another.

So it is obviously with racism and so on, which serve the ruling class by creating divisions among the working class.

It gets trickier with bigotry and misogyny.  Few people see the connections here.

Naturally females have the upper hand in social relations, males seek to serve at their pleasure.  Paleoconservative ruling classes use their power over the entire working class to give (or at least pretend to give) males an upper hand.  This then gives the ruling class power over the lives of the working class males, to fight in imperial wars and sacrifice in the workplace and sacrifice other freedoms.  Religions are usually the mechanism that enables this multiple displacement of power.

In the end, it's not such a deal for the males either, who not only sacrifice their lives in war, they face a daunting package of restrictions on their behavior: no drugs, prostitutes, masturbation.  I reject the paleoconservative deal, as I think most men would if it were completely explained to them.  I would reject it in principle because I don't want stolen power...I want freedom for myself and the freedom to accept others as they are.

From the Paleo deal, females get a formal subordination and an actual lack of freedom over their own bodies, certainly not a good deal at all, even if there is free lunch after you make it and clean up.

But all the oppression is ultimately propelled by the ruling class, not by "angry white men," they are the useful idiots and mere instruments of the paleo tendency of the ruling class.


Readers will know, I think it was generally good that many members of the Trump administration are friendly with Russia.

However, lying under oath is not the sort of thing the Attorney General should be known to do.

I've been reading this at Crooked Timber.

My personal beef against Sessions has nothing to do with Russia, it's his (and apparently Trump's) apparent stand on rolling back the marijuana legalization which has been accomplished in quite a few states now.  Drug prohibition is immoral in many senses of the word, it creates corruption, a wild west marketplace for consumers, causes greater harm from drug use, and is applied excessively to non-whites.  It's reasonable to regulate recreational drugs, since regulated markets will always outperform illegal markets.  It's not reasonable to prohibit personal drug use.

There's a connection here, between the willingness to perjure oneself and the willingness to be part of a corrupt use of state power.

Thursday, March 2, 2017

I'm a Democrat too

It surely is disappointing to me: the loss of Sander's preferred chair Ellison to the one preferred by Clinton backers.  After several votes failed to find a winner, there was much made by some about the desire of Ellison for Palestinian rights, and voila, a final vote made him the loser.

So I sympathize with friends who are drifting or running away from the Democratic Party.  But I am not.

I will continue criticizing as I see fit, however I'm fine with even identifying as a Democrat.

Why?  Well how's that Revolution thing going, anyway?

Not confusing clear headed (and fair and contextual) critique with all the meaningless, effortless genstures, why not support the lesser evil?  As Chomsky says, a lesser evil is a greater good.

Further, the point is that electoral politics isn't everything.  It's not even the main event.  The main event is creating class solidarity.  Now class solidarity has been fractured, mainly by highly successful campaigns of disinformation.  THAT is what leftists mainly need to counter.  They need replace misinformation with truth, and ultimately solidarity.

Electoral politics should most people be a small sideshow.  There your accomplishments are highly limited, but so your effort may be as well, just a few hours a year to vote in all elections.  It's not a day a week job like being the least committed leftists (I rarely qualify myself).

So, it's an easy thing to say, and it has a nice ring.  I'm a democrat.  And now I can work with a spectrum of other Democrats to resist and curtail the oppression of Trump.

But even there, I'm picking my fights.  I'm not just pushing because this or that is "the Democrat" thing to do.  I'm doing those things which also matter to me as a leftist.

So I'm ignoring all this Russia stuff, which I think is high theater, consider what the US has been doing in other countries with little mention (here) for more than half a century.  It was our meddling which led to the so-called "collapse" of the Soviet Union, we directed an ill-conceived "reform" which only brought suffering, lots of suffering.

Now true, we need to get rid of Trump, but I don't see much good from combining Sessions with a drive to war with Russia.

So tell me about the sell outs at the EPA, don't bother me about Trump's friendship with Russia.

The Democratic Party is a big tent, I can be highly critical, critical as I want about the Clintons, for example.

All I don't do, is ever say, I'm not a Democrat, and Democrats aren't almost universally better than Republicans, enough to bother voting for them, and generally not making votes as personal statements, though that is sometimes (possibly when in a non-swing situation) called for.

I voted for Clinton, even though Texas turned out to be solidly behind Trump, that wasn't entirely clear at the time, there was a distant chance a surprise victory in Texas could have been decisive (it would have been--if it occurred) and many Texas cities went for Clinton also.

I think the popular vote number...in which Clinton won by millions of votes...is more reflective of popular opinion than the results of the highly slanted electoral college system, and even that number underestimates support for Democrats as Hillary had far more negatives than many, and other factors like the Comey revelations didn't help.

To be best primed for social change, it's best to try to fit in the biggest tent that at least has some value.  I know fellow Democrats who are zionists, the tent is that big, but there's little I can do, pouting isn't generally the way forward, and it's not my style.  Most Americans would identify broadly in zionist terms, but wouldn't be offended by Palestinian rights either, if asked.

Meanwhile, with a President having so many negatives, do you think he can get away with the really bad stuff, like privatizing Social Security?  (I feared Hillary might try, and she would probably be in better position to get away with it.)

Maybe there's some value in having as blindingly awful a President.  But I'm going to keep my eyes trained on things of interest to my leftist values, not my campaign button mask.  There already is plenty of real stuff to really be upset about, starting with the immigrants and pipeline stuff.  In both cases, we were better with Obama and would be with Clinton also.

Wednesday, March 1, 2017

Sources of Oppression

Although the oppression of capitalism, which I consider equivalent in moral terms to slavery, occupies a great deal of my thinking, I would have to confess that in my own life, I haven't found it to be particularly oppressive.  I accept that this is primarily because I'm fairly lucky in the scheme of capitalism, and most others aren't so lucky.  But also I should probably consider other sources of oppression more often.

My resentment at government oppression meanwhile is limited essentially to unwarranted intrusion into my personal behavior.  I strongly feel that in such matters as they do not affect others, people should be allowed to do as they please.  So I resent all the prohibitions, on drugs, sexual behaviors, and prostitution.  Had this been a society with legal drugs and prostitution, I feel my life could have been much better in that regards.  I imagine "coffee shops" and "brothels" where I might have spent much time in my youth, instead of depression.

Taxation has not been a problem IMO, nor government regulation, and more especially of the latter would be just fine in many cases IMO.  I would generally prefer to pay more for safer foods and other things, and my preference isn't reflected very well in the rigged "marketplace."  However a considerable source of oppression arguably has been extended copyright terms, and patents which in some cases have kept useful ideas from being as much used as they could be.  Since it is a certain class of capitalists who have clamored for unreasonably long copyright terms (I think the original 17+17 terms in US law were correct), I could blame these laws on capitalism.

And in similar terms, the prohibitions arguably stem from religion, and represent a failure of church and state.  Gore Vidal makes this argument, and specifically blames monotheisms.

And there's another clear area of oppression, which has only been of hypothetical concern to me: the restrictions on abortion.  Actually I consider this particularly oppressive not so much directly (as I could get around them, being fairly well off, I could fly to another country if needed) but in the general milieu of opinions.  In a better world, someone my age (61) might be able to try for their first child through possibly more than possibly one fertilization attempt, checking for genetic defects, and using abortion unless and possibly until clean genes are achieved.  In a better world, not oppressed by anti-abortion, I might be able to convince a female partner that this would be the way to go.

Religion has also been a factor in creating the current anti-sciencism, and being tolerant of global warming denialism, which dooms future civilization (and not perhaps me personally so much).

In short, though I generally haven't felt religion to be such a big deal, people can "believe" what they want as far as I am concerned, but in fact, pressure from religion, and in particular failures of separation of church and state that occur through prohibitions, have been the most pervasive oppression in my life.  The oppressions that have resulted from capitalism--private ownership of the means of production--have not been so great in my life.

And separating out religion from state, the secular state (not including the prohibitions) has not been oppressive to me at all, and has done at least a little to protect me.  Now here I'm lucky simply being white, perhaps.  If I were not white, I would find the inevitable racial profiling to be oppressive, especially if I were latino nowadays.

Gore Vidal also lays blame for the racism at the door of monotheism also, including the racism in laws such as immigration laws.

I am sad to see the rise of what I consider ill conceived political ideas, in almost complete antithesis of my ideas, in the 3 US branches of government.  Attacking what I consider worthy and promising to make the oppressive things moreso.  But I do not consider the principal fault in the principle of government itself.

What about gender oppression as such.  As a male, some might again say, I'm lucky, and perhaps so in some ways as employment and expectations, which also involve capitalism and state.  That's probably also from the monotheistic influence on those institutions again.  But within actual sexual relationships, and starting said relationships, I feel more on the unlucky side.  But had religion never entered this picture, and prohibited coffee shops and brothels, I don't think I would ever have felt much if any sexual oppression, as alternative social outlets would exist for the same surplus male sexual energy.  As it is, with the level of toleration for erotic images increasing over time--freedom of erotic images is a very important one for males especially--the oppression has also been diminished that way.  So for me at least, here again, the oppression is either naturally unavoidable for me (as a male) or due to religious influences on government and commerce.