Monday, August 13, 2012
This forum was created to combine our belief in the soundness of the Second Amendment of the Constitution and our commitment to socialism, whatever specific form we adhere to. Some of us favor Marxism, others Anarchism, still others are Social Democrats, or are just interested in social justice.
Formerly many of us were affiliated with the Liberal Gun Club but felt that our opposition to the Obama administration's half- hearted reforms and full- hearted warmongering was being greeted with more and more hostility, increasing in step with the fear mongering frenzy that has been unleashed by the upcoming presidential election.
The next step was obvious: form our own club.
Some of us still have ties with the LGC, and that is a good thing for both clubs fight the stereotypes manufactured by the immense right- wing propaganda machine that Liberals and Leftists do not own firearms and want to ban them. If you check out how many members the LGC has, you would change your mind about that in a hurry.
So we wish the LGC luck. Some of us left in anger, but we still have the same mission: protect the 2nd Amendment and promote firearm ownership among our fellow leftists.
BTW, Rude Reds has now switched back to its old title. Now that we got the forum up and running we will try to combine the two.
Monday, April 16, 2012
On February 26, 2012, in Sanford Florida, an unarmed African-American male named Trayvon Martin was shot dead by an armed White or Hispanic American (his mother is from Peru, his father is a white man and a retired judge) named George Zimmerman. Trayvon Martin had been walking home from a convenience store. George Zimmerman was in his car, called the non-emergency police dispatch line, and reported that there was a youth acting strangely and dressed suspiciously. He left his vehicle and followed Martin, despite the dispatcher telling him he shouldn’t. There was a fight, and Martin wound up dead. Zimmerman was taken into custody by police but not arrested. Police did not perform a background check at that time. No drug or alcohol screen was performed. The lead homicide investigator recommended that Zimmerman be charged with manslaughter. Instead, Zimmerman was released.
Nothing more was going to be done about this until the family of Trayvon Martin, and their attorney, successfully brought national attention to the issue, through the use of a Change.org petition. I’ve heard from people that this entire thing was a media creation for bigger ratings and money. I find it hard to believe that, absent a public outcry, the media would have cared about just another dead black man. They certainly have not in the past. People die in horrible ways in this country all the time, the only time it becomes a major media issue is when it’s either a lot of people dying at the same time, or if it’s a missing angelic blond (or more rarely brunette) white girl.
Now sides are being taken, and that’s messed up. There are a lot of people who seem to think, and say things to this effect, that it’s okay that Trayvon Martin died, and that George Zimmerman killed him. Others aren’t willing to come right out and say it, so they blame the media for making this news, or for editing a tape to remove a meager bit of context, or for running old pictures of Martin. White supremacists are lining up around the block to support Zimmerman, and black supremacist groups are doing the same to oppose him. But I think they miss the group here that really dropped the ball. A lot of fault should lie with the Sanford police department.
Stand Your Ground laws have taken a lot of heat in this case because the police department used them as justification to let Zimmerman walk. If you get out of your vehicle and pursue somebody, you are no longer standing your ground. You’re acting like a cop. Zimmerman had completed a Sheriff’s department course in “citizen’s law enforcement”, and was captain of the neighborhood watch, it’s quite possible (but this is speculation) that he considered himself a sort of unpaid police officer. However, he was not, he was a private citizen who tried to be a cop and got somebody else killed; although it could just as easily have been Zimmerman who died, if Martin had actually been a criminal. The people who should have pointed out to Zimmerman that he was not a police officer but was instead a private citizen who got an unarmed youth killed were the police who arrested him.
Instead, the police kept him and questioned him for a few hours, but they ultimately let him go. And that was a mistake. No background check was run, or they may have found that Zimmerman had a history of domestic violence. That was a mistake. The investigator who recommended manslaughter charges was ignored. That was a mistake. If Zimmerman had been charged, and faced trial, then none of this would have gone as far as it has. But the police fucked up.
I’ve seen people holding up cases where African-Americans have beat up white people in the wake of Martin’s killing as… something. They claim that black community leaders would never speak up about it or the media make a big deal over it, but the reason there was such a big deal over the Martin killing was because nobody was charged. A person was dead and it looked like nobody would be held accountable for it in the eyes of the law. In all the cases so far I’ve seen where white people get beat up or mugged, the people responsible have been charged. There are people looking at jail time for it. Prior to very recently, that wasn’t the case in the Martin killing.
I think what is being missed in all the sides-taking over this incident is the core issue at stake here: In America, we have two different sets of law, two different faces to the police force, two different standards of criminal justice. There’s the standard for whites, and the standard for minorities. By way of example, John McNeil was a black man in Georgia who shot a white man who had come at him with a knife in his pocket, on McNeil’s property, and who was a man who had previously threatened McNeil repeatedly. John McNeil is now in jail on a life sentence.
As a white man, I have little to no fear of being stopped “randomly” by police for a variety of minor reasons. I have even less fear of winding up dead as a result of that traffic stop. If I’m ever caught with an illicit drug, I’m statistically significantly more likely to get probation than face jail time. These are the benefits of what Kurt Vonnegut described in his novel Hocus Pocus (an excellent read for familiarizing yourself with racial injustice in America) as the “uniform of the skin”. Meanwhile, for African-Americans in the US, it is harder for one without a criminal record to get a job than it is for a white with a criminal record.
If Zimmerman had been more clearly a minority, if Trayvon Martin had been a white kid named Steve Gustafson or something, and if Zimmerman’s father was not a judge, I have little doubt that the case would go differently. If the suspicious youth had been white and Zimmerman had been black, he would probably be facing the death penalty. Or perhaps already dead, shot by police after they arrived on the scene.
This is the heart of the problem. There are two separate sets of laws in this country, and there are plenty of people out there who think that’s just fine. That needs to change, but instead we look like we’re speeding towards a culture/race war, an unending cycle of action and reaction that can only be ultimately destructive.
Monday, February 20, 2012
Furthermore, compromising photos are going to get out. It's just a fact of the 21st century. Maybe you should be more concerned with reducing our dependence on such potentially lethal and vulnerable edifices and monuments to vertical power.
Instead of being ostentatious with our power and technology, it would be much less of a headache to simplify and ... I dunno, "deconventionalize"? Make less formal? Stop playing such high stakes games at home and around the world? Maybe then it would be easier to have a transparent society.
Or maybe not. But it's worth a try ...getting beat out of shape to maintain a poisonous status quo doesn't seem to be getting us anywhere.
Friday, February 10, 2012
Wednesday, February 8, 2012
From the very beginning, Mr. Obama castigated the US Supreme Court’s decision in Citizens United (read the court’s opinion, Citizens United v. Federal Election Commission) less than a week after it was handed down. In his January 2010 State of the Union message, Obama said thus:"Last week, the Supreme Court reversed a century of law to open the floodgates for special interests – including foreign companies – to spend without limit in our elections. Well, I don’t think American elections should be bankrolled by America’s most powerful interests, and worse, by foreign entities. They should be decided by the American people, and that’s why I’m urging Democrats and Republicans to pass a bill that helps to right this wrong."
So fast-forward to late Monday night, when news broke that Obama, in the words of POLITICO, offered a “reluctant blessing” for his campaign to raise money for the main – but flagging – Democratic super PAC, "Priorities USA."
The Obama campaign retort to this is a statement on Obama's website saying We will not play by two sets of rules, which would have been an insufficient argument in WW2 and Vietnam, and is an insufficient argument now. To quote,
In 2010, the Supreme Court's decision in the Citizens United case opened the door to a new wave of so-called Super PACs—non-candidate political committees that can receive and spend unlimited money from special interests. For the first time, these committees could accept money from corporations, not just wealthy individuals.
The decision has accelerated a dangerous trend toward a political system increasingly dominated by big-money interests with disproportionate power to spend freely to influence our elections and our government.
Buuuut then we decided we like money also
But this cycle, our campaign has to face the reality of the law as it currently stands.
Over the last few months, Super PACs affiliated with Republican presidential candidates have spent more than $40 million on television and radio, almost all of it for negative ads.
Last week, filings showed that the Super PAC affiliated with Mitt Romney's campaign raised $30 million in 2011 from fewer than 200 contributors, most of them from the financial sector. Governor Romney personally helped raise money for this group, which is run by some of his closest allies.
That last paragraph there would be a great platform from which to launch attacks on Romney. It would be excellent moral high ground from which to highlight that Romney is the candidate of the wealthy and the 1%, and that he doesn't care about the working class. This would be especially powerful if the Obama campaign was to point out that, over 2008, Obama raised $778 million dollars, an unprecedented amount, overwhelmingly from individual donors making donations in the $5-$250 range.
Instead, that high ground was surrendered to the enemy, as the Obama Administration leapt down to try to fight Republicans at their own level. Many Democrat activists have lauded this, but one Progressive has dared to criticize, and that person is Russ Feingold:
The President Is Wrong -by Russ Feingold
The President is wrong to embrace the corrupt corporate politics of Citizens United through the use of Super PACs – organizations that raise unlimited amounts of money from corporations and the richest individuals, sometimes in total secrecy. It’s not just bad policy; it’s also dumb strategy.
Democrats have tried this strategy before, when enormous amounts of soft money were raised by Democratic Leadership in the 1990s. The result was the enactment, with active Democratic support, of a corporate-dominated policy agenda that included trade policies that shipped millions of family-supporting jobs overseas, fiscally reckless tax laws that greatly increased our long-term debt, and the disastrous banking and financial deregulation that paved the way for the worst recession since the Great Depression.
Just as importantly, this corrupting tactic will gut a winning, progressive strategy. When Democrats play by Republican rules, people see our party as weak, and a false alternative to the power of rich individual and corporate interests that are increasingly dominating our government.
This is dancing with the devil. I know a lot of Democrats in D.C. don’t agree, and I understand the desire to do everything possible to win. But this decision will push Democrats to become corporate-lite, and will send us head-on into a battle we know we will lose, because Republicans like Mitt Romney and his friends have and will spend more money.
Two years ago, the President was right to chastise the Supreme Court for its lawless ruling in Citizens United. Now, he and his campaign need to live up to those principles and reject the support of any Super PACs.
"Politics" as practiced in America have become not about the issues, not about any objective sense of right or wrong, but about the Teams. When the Red Team uses lobbyists, it's wrong and an outrage. When the Blue Team uses lobbyists, it is an essential and expected part of the operation of government, and any pragmatist would tell you that it can't be changed. When the Red Team uses SuperPACs, it's the End of Democracy. When the Blue Team uses SuperPACs, it's essential and necessary; any pragmatist will tell you that we have to use the weapons of the enemy if we are to defeat that enemy. If we don't become the enemy, the enemy wins. You don't want that to happen, do you?
I remember in 2008 when I supported and donated to Obama, donating a paltry $250 (half of that was during the primary season), but I was among countless others who did so. Our small individual contributions helped Barack Obama break fundraising records. The Koch Brothers have committed $60 million (1/783rd of their combined fortune) to defeating Obama? Obama raised $778 million from individual contributions, and that was before he had the bully pulpit of the presidency from which to make his points. He could publicize the Koch Brothers donations to Romney. He could make a campaign ad highlighting it and further strengthen the existing media narrative that Romney is a wealthy elitist with the backing of the 1%. He did not, he abandoned this opportunity in order to do what Democrats always do: Try to be Republican Lite and then wonder why there are many people who don't see a difference.
As a supporter of Justice Party candidate Rocky Anderson, and one of his volunteers working in Ohio to get him on the 2012 presidential ballot, this would be a great time for me to point out that Rocky Anderson refuses PAC money. And SuperPAC money. And any individual donation in excess of $100. Period.
Cross-posted to Liberally Geeky
Tuesday, February 7, 2012
- Nano bots which perform micro surgery eliminating the need for doctors providing free healthcare.
- Fully automated hydroponic farms eliminating the need for farmers and providing free food.
- Fully automated water processing plants providing free water.
- Fully automated mines and pumps providing free resources to continue building as needed.
- Fully automated systems of renewable sources of energy.
- And of course the maintenance bots necessary to keep the system together.
A response to Chris Hedges:
Today it was brought to my attention that Chris Hedges, a notable figure within the Occupy Movement, and celebrity liberal published an article in Truthdig titled “The Cancer in Occupy.” The article is essentially a hit-piece against “Black Block anarchists.” Don’t be fooled, as the black bloc does not only include anarchists, as it is simply a blob of black wearing anti-capitalists. This is an attack against the entire militant anti-capitalist left.
Some analysis of the article
Hedges opens his piece declaring these activists as “the cancer of the Occupy movement,” and continues, “The presence of Black Bloc anarchists—so named because they dress in black, obscure their faces, move as a unified mass, seek physical confrontations with police and destroy property—is a gift from heaven to the security and surveillance state.”
Quite a strong accusation, can Hedges back this up?
“The real enemies, they argue, are not the corporate capitalists, but their collaborators among the unions, workers’ movements, radical intellectuals, environmental activists and populist movements such as the Zapatistas”
Hedges here exposes his awareness that there are currently two opposing forces within the Occupy Movement: Capitalist “collaborators” and those who are fighting those collaborators. Hedges mention of worker’s movements, environmental activists, and the Zapatistas are nothing more than fluff to add weight to his claim that collaborators are not our enemies and therefore should be ignored. Hedges uses the immense credibility of the Zapatistas in his article to discredit those who take part in militant activity—essentially he uses the logic: If Anarchists would attack a movement as cool as the Zapatistas, then the anarchists are undeserving of any credibility. Here’s the flaw, Hedges quotes from an article written by an author named, “Venomous Butterfly” published in an anarcho-primitivist magazine called “Green Anarchy”. Hedges himself admits that the magazine is defunct, so is it really a representation of the various tendencies that make up any particular bloc?
“Because Black Bloc anarchists do not believe in organization, indeed oppose all organized movements, they ensure their own powerlessness.”
The black bloc in itself is a visual demonstration of organization. Is the ignorance in this quote even worth replying to? While there is a thread of anti-organizational thought within the Anarchist movement, it is clearly not demonstrated by the black bloc. Furthermore, of the tendencies that make up the black bloc, or the militant left for that matter, anti-organizational thought remains a tiny minority. Perhaps Hedges was attempting to touch on something other than organization in general, but rather centralized organization. If this were the case, by this logic Hedges would be arguing that those in the militant left are against centralized organization and are thus powerless—while those who are for centralized organization (capitalist collaborators, unions, progressives etc) are powerful. Is it a false sense of power that Hedges seeks? Does he seek the power that comes with collaboration with the ruling class?
Huey P. Newton and Bobby Seale defined power together after much discourse as, “the ability to define phenomenon then in turn make it act in a desired manner." By that very definition, neither the black bloc, nor the forces that Hedges represents wield power. While some anti-capitalists may be well on their way to defining the phenomenon, no one has been able to make it act in a desired manner.
Hedges does make an important point about the rigidity and dogmatism of sects here:
The Black Bloc movement bears the rigidity and dogmatism of all absolutism sects. Its adherents alone possess the truth. They alone understand. They alone arrogate the right, because they are enlightened and we are not, to dismiss and ignore competing points of view as infantile and irrelevant. They hear only their own voices. They heed only their own thoughts. They believe only their own clichés. And this makes them not only deeply intolerant but stupid.
The problem with this point is that it is directed at those who participate in a tactic, a temporal gathering of anti-capitalists and recreational rioters. This quote about absolutism can be applied to nearly all sects within Occupy including the pacifist and progressive sects.
While I think that there is a worthy critique to be made of silly actions that have been used by participants of black blocs, to suggest that the blocs are self-aware in any collective sense would be to imply organization--and while yes, there is some rudimentary organization, the blocs have not been in my experience, "self-aware."
It is important to understand that Hedges did not have to openly attack the black bloc. There wasn’t any reason for an attack or condemnation on this level. Rather than write a comradely critique with suggestions, Hedges wrote that “The Black Bloc Anarchists are a cancer of the Occupy movement.” He states in those words that they are an enemy that cannot be compromised with.
Why did Hedges pick now to attack militants?
I found the article to be a very weak analysis from Hedges which was surprising to me. Hedges while on the pseudo left, generally writes with a little more depth. Recently in Seattle, the militant anti-capitalists of the Marxist tendency found themselves on the receiving end of a hit piece written by Socialist Worker titled, “The Solidarity We Need for Longview”. I've written several activists about this.
To me, the piece by Hedges is an extension of that attack by the pseudo leftists against the militant anti-capitalists. The tip off was not that the Black Bloc was criticized, but rather in the way it was criticized--through well publicized libel and smear. There was an effort by Hedges to drive a wedge between militant anti-capitalists and “unions, workers’ movements, radical intellectuals, environmental activists and populist movements such as the Zapatistas” In a sense, Hedges like the Socialist Worker, joined the capitalist media’s campaign against militant anti-capitalists.
By publicly breaking with the black bloc; the tendency of reformism and capitalist collaboration that Hedges represents hopes to usurp the “undecided” proletariat within the occupy movement—that is, those persons who have not firmly sided with either the anti-capitalists or the reformists. The capitalist collaborators hope to take advantage of any weakness in theoretical understanding by the militant anti-capitalists, arrogantly pushing for a premature split. Unless anti-capitalists can learn to work together, create trust, open lines of discussion, comradely critique, and forge a unified alliance and network—we will be divided and conquered.
For more information on the ISO attack against the militant anti-capitalists please read the Black Orchid Collective’s response to the ISO’s SW article:
The quality of comments are well worth the time reading.
This repost was originally published at artfrancisco.wordpress.com 2/7/2012