Saturday, June 27, 2015

She's no fun, she fell right over

I apparently missed linking this a month ago, but Stuart Zechman and Marcy Wheeler really got into it in the wake of passage of the USA Freedumb Act and the Second Circuit Court of Appeals ruling that the Patriot Act didn't authorize wholesale sucking up of everyone's data as is claimed, but most interestingly, they talked about why the US has this bizarrely intimate relationship with the odious regime of Saudi Arabia, on Virtually Speaking Sundays.
* And this week, Susie Madrak and Sara Robinson on Conversations with Conservatives, and why we need to start having them in this teaching moment.

Well, so much for the great Democratic rebellion and all that. Barack is triumphant, and, strangely, those horrible obstructionist Republicans cooperated with him magnificently.

"Bernie Sanders on Obama's 'Biggest Mistake'" - Well, except it was no mistake, of course. Obama wanted to pen up all those activists and shut them up so he could impose his "centrist" policies without any push-back.
"When Bernie met Hillary [...] They got their meeting at the White House that month, and the two doctors laid out the case for single-payer to the first lady. 'She said, "You make a convincing case, but is there any force on the face of the earth that could counter the hundreds of millions of the dollars the insurance industry would spend fighting that?"' recalled Himmelstein. 'And I said, "How about the president of the United States actually leading the American people?" and she said, "Tell me something real."'" And there's the difference between them right there - Bernie thinks you fight until you win, Hillary thinks you give up before you even try. But we always used to beat them with our message even though they had more money than we did. The DLC told us to stop trying, and they did that thing.

"Democrats Who Move Right Lose Elections - There Is No 'Center" - "Centrists" tell a story where there are these people in the "center" who are swing-voters or independents who would vote for Democrats if only our candidates were right-wing enough. It's implausible for more reasons than one, but the fact that most indies already identify with one party or another is a big one, and they've rebelled not because they see their party as too extreme, but because they see it as too "moderate" - that is, too wishy-washy and too compromising with the other side.

"Another Blue Dog Admits He's Just A Republican-- Switches Parties [...] Over time, Democratic voters start to understand that their Blue Dog congressman is a Republican and they either defeat them in primaries (example: Tim Holden) or sit on their hands and let a Republican win (example: Chris Carney). Sensing impending doom, many Blue Dogs, including some the founders of the rotten organization, have covered up their membership-- like Steve Israel and Adam Schiff most recently-- or have just admitted they're nothing but a Republican, jumping the fence and reregistering as such."

"Guess who's being groomed for a promotion? If you said Patrick Murphy, you'd be right. Chuck Schumer is very high on Murphy to fill Marco Rubio's Senate seat. You see, only in the Democratic Party do they go out of their way to promote from among the top 10 congressmen who vote with the other party for the Senate. This can only be because they like that voting pattern and would like more of this, (which just happened last week)"

Surely it is patently illegal to make people train H-1B immigrants to replace them. Those visas exist to bring in workers specifically when no Americans can be found to do the same job. If you are laying Americans off and replacing them with H-1Bs, you're fraudulently getting those visas for them.

All 50 states fail to meet int'l standards on lethal force by police - Amnesty

"The Saudi Finger-pointing at Iran: Parroting Israel and Saudi Arabia, much of Official Washington blames Iran for the current instability across the Mideast, but that may rank as one of the most inside-out explanations imaginable, as Flynt and Hillary Mann Leverett explain."

Ray McGovern says Obama is no Jack Kennedy. Hell, I coulda told him that.

The US agency plundered by Chinese hackers made one of the dumbest security moves possible: Contractors in Argentina and China were given "direct access to every row of data in every database" when they were hired by the Office of Personnel Management (OPM) to manage the personnel records of more than 14 million federal employees, a federal consultant told ArsTechnica."

10 Stories That Were Missed While Everyone Was Talking About Rachel Dolezar

Here's how much more you'd make if you were in a union

Farmers find healthy soil works for crops, bottom line

Jon Stewart, unfunny, about Charleston.
In a similar vein, the Onion headline from last year: "‘No Way To Prevent This,' Says Only Nation Where This Regularly Happens"
Tom Tomorrow on A Confederacy of Denial

RIP: At the Firesign Theater site, it says, "Phil Austin 1941-2015: Nick Danger has left the office. Our dear friend and Firesign Theatre partner for over 50 years succumbed to various forms of cancer early this morning at his home on Fox Island, Washington, with his wife Oona and their six beloved dogs at his side. It is a tremendous and unexpected loss, and we will miss him greatly; but in keeping with his wishes, there will be no public memorial. Rest in Peace, Regnad Kcin."
Volkswagen ad

Lee Camp, The TRUTH About GMOs, The Insanity of The G7, & The Fun of Child Poverty

"What Would Jesse Ventura Do?: Declassify 9/11 Now."

The Night Tube is coming to London.

Graffiti tribute to Terry Pratchett in Shoreditch completed three months after author's death

22 Incredible Facts About The Life and Career Of Sir Christopher Lee

Wow, you could get a Lego professorship at Cambridge!

25 Of The Most Creative Sculptures And Statues From Around The World

Simels managed to find some newly-unearthed Beatles footage I've never seen, and it's the best lip-sync performance ever.


  1. Who are you talking to ?
    And how do you make your voice do that ?

  2. If you are laying Americans off and replacing them with H-1Bs, you're fraudulently getting those visas for them.

    I expect Obama's DOJ will get right on this.

  3. Surely it is patently illegal to make people train H-1B immigrants to replace them.

    I thought so too but when I looked at the requirements (, this is legla.

  4. Watch the whole thing if you have 26:29 to spare [LINK]:

    [8:45] Richard Wolf: You know, people who have been involved in politics know that to get 94,000 votes to win in an urban area you have to have an organization. You have to have gotten together a sizable number of people with an extraordinary commitment, and to win again, and to have a sustaining movement, without which an election comes and goes, requires a focus on organization. Tell us what kind of organization you had built, and tell us how your are continuing to build an organization as, in the end, the basis for what you're trying to do.

    Kshama Sawant: I'm so glad you asked me. This is one of the most important questions we need to spend time on. And I think, at the outset, I should say that one very fundamental difference in our campaign than most of what people see as politics, or what most people see as politicians is that this campaign was not launched in the service of one individual's political and personal career. It's not like I woke up one morning and said, "I'm going to run, and I'm going to have some personal glory out of this." What we did was in Socialist Alternative, which is a nation-wide organization of social and economic justice activists, we, coming out of the Occupy movement realized, like some others did, that there was a huge opening for the Left.

    There's a vacuum, there's a political vacuum. You know the Democratic Party Establishment and the Republican Party Establishment are out here, they're on their own planet, completely out of touch with the needs of the vast majority of people and there's this vacuum where most others exist, where the people are looking for something different. And so we decided that the best way of showing to the Left nationally that there is this vacuum and we'd better fill it before the Right fills it, was to run an actual campaign. So we ran at the city council level and everything we've seen happening through the campaign and after the victory has proven us right, has proven the Left has an extraordinary opportunity, a historic opportunity to really build itself, not just in Seattle, but nationally.

    So, I think that one of the take away messages from our campaign is first of all, there has to be an organizational structure which includes a multitude of people, a collective of voices that is able to democratically decide: we should run in this election, and this should be our candidate, and this is how we're going to run our campaign platform. So development of every step of that campaign has to be a truly democratic process. So, when we developed our campaign it was a product of a democratic engagement by everybody in Socialist Alternative; that we're going to call for a Fight for 15, we're going to call for taxing the wealthy to fund mass transit and education, we're going to call for various other measures like rent control. All of this was a product of democratic engagement.

    1. Sawant continues: And then when we launched our campaign, its success was absolutely determined by how much we were able to engage the broader public. And so by the end of our campaign we had more than 400 volunteers, dedicated volunteers really plastering the entire city with our red posters. I mean, again, such a thing hasn't been seen in decades. And so we really tapped into this grass roots potential. And I do believe that going forward, the most important question to grapple for the U.S. Left is how are we going to get back in touch with those tens of millions of people who are looking for an urgent shift in politics. And one of the things you mentioned, which is very crucial, is connecting electoral campaigns to ongoing social movements. We have to absolutely be rooted in social movements. Otherwise, not only will we not get any success, it will not create any meaningful change.

      You know meaningful change can not come from one electoral campaign. That can be a building block, but there is a lot more to do. That is why we thought it was very important for us to be rooted within social movements and that's why we have been, and I have been an intergral part Occupy, through my union, the Teacher's Union, I have been an intergral part of the the fight against budget cuts and student debt. We were an essential part of the Fight for Fifteen in Seattle along with the labor movement, along with other organizations. And we are now really, we believe the Black Lives Matter movement is also necessary. We have to integrate these social movements and make them strong.

    2. [13:12] Richard Wolf: Well let me pick up on one of those things. You mentioned the labor movement. If I understand correctly you had a relatively small number of locals in that area support you back in 2013 but a much larger number of Union locals are supporting you for re-election in the coming autumn election. Could you tell us both why there were relatively few to begin with and why there are many more now. Have you become, in effect, Labor's candidate or is that an exaggeration?

      [13:44] Kshama Sawant: I don't think, first of all, it would be an exaggeration at all to say that I am Labor's candidate. I am definitely Labor's candidate both in terms of the official support that we now have, we have more than 30 different locals supporting us openly, and donating to our campaign; we also have the King County Labor Council, the local AFL-CIO, that has just voted, the delegates have just voted to endorse our campaign.

      But also, I am labor's candidate because I have unambiguously and boldly declaring my loyalty to workers, to the labor movement. I mean it's not, one of the points I make often is that you have Democrat, Democratic Party Establishment candidates that we have on the Seattle City Council. It's not that they are not complete- It's not that they are completely out of touch with labor. What's true is that while they take money from Labor, they also take money from the Chamber of Commerce, they take money from the big developers, from the big...

      [14:46] Richard Wolf: For their campaigns.

      Kshama Sawant: For their campaigns. So, the point is though, that even though they're getting money from both sides, who wins? At the end of the day if you look at the policy outcomes, you know in a city like Seattle which is by no means unique in its social and economic outcomes, there is deep wealth and income inequality. Housing is unaffordable to the vast majority of workers now. You know, the city has become unaffordable and unlivable. On whose doorstep does this lie? This lies at the doorstep of the Democratic Party Establishment which, for decades has got unquestioning support from the labor movement.

    3. Sawant continues: So our message, shared message, to everyone of our sisters and brothers in labor is that we all, for decades, have tried this out, this strategy of pouring money into the Democratic Party and bringing out hundreds of thousands of foot soldiers for their campaign -you know, Get Out the Vote- has failed for us.

      Because at the end of the day the money that speaks louder is the money of Wall Street, is the money of the developers. And so, whether you're talking about Seattle or at the national level, I think, what a fundamental step that needs to happen is the breaking of the labor movement from the Democratic Party Establishment and the labor movement using the tremendous resources that it has at its disposal, both financial and political, to put those resources squarely and fully to build a left alternative party for people in the United States.

      [16:17] Richard Wolff: But don't sell short: again, the history. It is very important for everyone watching and listening to understand that your victory as a self-proclaimed socialist has enabled- despite that, despite all the years of demonization of everything having to do with socialism, has led the labor movement in that area to contribute money, to contribute its official endorsement to a socialist candidate. It does suggest, as it ought to, for people in many other parts of the United States what is, in fact, possible, that we might think about. And if the labor movement plus the organization you developed before your election, and that you now can use your position to help develop further, can come together in some way, in coalition with the labor movement, we're talking about social forces in position to change the United States. This is very, very important.

    4. Kshama Sawant: It is extremely important, actually, and I absolutely appreciate you stressing the fact that this- We've shown that it can be done, the first time with minimum labor support, although I have to say at that time a lot of the labor unions were privately telling me, "I absolutely agree with everything you stand for but I'm afraid of that if you don't win the Democratic Party will take revenge on us." And I think that's very telling.

      This is the strangle hold, the political strangle hold that the Establishment polticians have had the labor movement and the rest of us in. We have to continue pouring money into their campaigns, at the same time we're not supposed to demand anything.

      I mean look at the whole charade with the TPP and Fast Track. The entire labor movement has been against it but that does not stop Obama and the Democrats from having the temerity to go out to Nike to sell TPP as some sort of great thing for labor and the environment. I mean this is the shamelessness with which the Democratic Party Establishment engages on these issues.

      And that is why what I think what's powerful about what we've shown is that we can win as an independent left alternative having broken from the two party Establishment and that we can get the labor movement to stand squarely with us this year and I think this such an inspiring message for the labor movement nationally, that we should, this is what we should be doing.

      It's important, critically important that the labor movement is standing with us. This is going to be one of the backbones of the fight against the Ruling Class which is going into battle against us this year.

      But I think while this message is inspiring, as it should be, we should also inject a sobering note into it. We've just seen the national AFL-CIO['s] Richard Trumka,* declaring his unconditional support to Hillary Clinton's campaign. That should be pointed out as a problem.

      We have gained nothing by supporting Establishment candidates of the Democratic Party. We need the labor movement to chart a different course for the next several years to really bring out these historic break throughs that we've had [in Seattle] in a much bigger way. Nationally we need the labor movement to put its support into an independent Left alternative.
      * Actually, I'm pretty sure Trumka has not, at least not as yet, declared "his unconditional support to Hillary Clinton's campaign" this cycle.

      And my apologies to Prof. Wolff for not spelling his last name correctly on my first three attempts to do so.