Building Alternatives to Capitalism in Latin America
| August 2, 2015 | 2:19 pm | Action | No comments

Wake Me When It’s Over
| August 2, 2015 | 2:00 pm | Bernie Sanders, political struggle | No comments
  – from Zoltan Zigedy is available at:
Mainstream commentators– both liberal and conservative– would like us to believe that Presidential contests are like beauty pageants. Primaries allow the two-party “beauties” to appear before the judges (the voters) to show their wares. Televised debates are meant to expose the contestants’ political personalities. And, in the fine tradition of high-school-civics-book democracy, the people are allowed to decide the winners.
As polished and innocent as this shallow imagery appears, it hides a far more insidious process.
A far better comparison would be with the delightful humbuggery of the Wizard of Oz. Like Dorothy, we are deceived into confusing fantasy with reality. And our corporate media refuses to pull back the curtain to expose the deceit.
Take the Republican primary, for example. With 16 (or more) candidates announced as primary contestants, it looks like the textbook-picture of democracy: a political flavor for every Republican. Of course the truth is that most of the candidates have no hope of winning the nomination, but do hope to gain political advantage, jobs, or future consideration. Many candidates appeal to the storm troopers of the Republican Party, the angry bigots, religious zealots, and unhinged war mongers; these forces serve as a social base for a future fascism. But they present a painful contradiction for the Republican Party, a party first and foremost serving the interests of monopoly capital. They can, and have won regional and local power, but they will not win a national election. The leaders of the Republican Party know this. They also know that the vulgar xenophobic right will not necessarily or consistently carry out the corporate agenda.
That’s why the Donald Trump campaign is such a problem for the Republicans.
A recent lengthy Wall Street Journal commentary (July 25/26, 2015) featured on the front page of the week-end Review section addresses this problem. Written by a prominent senior fellow at the right-wing Hoover Institute, Peter Berkowitz, the article expresses the tensions in the Party and calls for reconciliation, while promoting the interests of wealth and corporate power. Clearly, the Trump phenomenon is of big concern to Republican king makers. Berkowitz euphemistically distinguishes between “social conservatives” and “limited-government conservatives.”
His social conservatives are the Republican neo-fascists, the Doctor Strangeloves, who would like to boil minorities in oil, nuke the Iranians, and impose Old Testament law on the US. Since World War II, they have been both an essential element of the Republican electoral effort and a hindrance to winning national office. Republican leadership trumped nuke-happy General Douglas MacArthur with the saner, business-friendly, and genial General Dwight Eisenhower in 1952. When Barry Goldwater, a nuclear terrorist and neo-segregationist, won the 1964 nomination and was crushed in the general election, the point was driven home: the wacky-wing of the Republican Party must be mollified, but kept out of national contests.
While Reagan courted and appeased the social conservatives, his imprint is most felt with his restructuring of the relation of labor-to-capital, to the benefit of capital. To that extent, he was the ultimate limited-government (read: corporate) Republican. He served capital well, while fostering a small-town, Midwestern tradition-loving image to appease the rabid-right. While he may have been the ultimate con man, his ease in constructing images and his persuasiveness account for the respect won from supposed political adversaries like Bill Clinton and Barack Obama.
The Reagan approach– attack taxes, unions, public services, benefits, pensions, etc. while coddling the haters and those rushing toward Armageddon– served as the template for Republican national politics until our time. Unfortunately, Donald Trump– a figure with B-grade acting chops rivaling Ronald Reagan’s– threatens to break the template. Trump’s independence imperils Party stability. His open disdain for the rules and conventions demanded by the Republican leadership upsets the process. His imperviousness to Party criticism frightens the Party’s watchdogs. His freedom from financial entanglements beyond his own resources erases possible leverage. But most of all, Trump’s threat to run in the general election terrorizes Party big wigs.
Trump has brought Republican social conservatism to center stage, presenting a possibly fatal problem to the Party. While some polls show him with a lead, that lead constitutes, at best, 16% of the possible Republican primary voters. Republican leaders know that that will not translate into a majority in a general election, given an electorate largely hostile to the Republican Fringe. Berkowitz, fearing a debacle, urges moderation. He cites rising star Governor Nikki Haley as an example of the kind of tactical acumen needed in this campaign. Her ready sacrifice of the symbolic Confederate battle flag at the South Carolina state capital demonstrated her “maturity,” while safely securing the symbol for “…’those who wish to show their respect for the flag on their private property’.” The games our politicians play!
For Berkowitz, the options are clear. The candidates best representing Republican interests are the limited-government (corporate) candidates, namely, Jeb Bush, Marco Rubio, and Scott Walker. At the same time he believes that they must be good at “blending and balancing the demands of both schools.”
No one should be confused by the conciliatory tone. Berkowitz and the Republican leadership prefer, insist upon a candidate dedicated first and foremost to serving monopoly capital. They will not allow a campaign sacrificed to nut-case principles. But insofar as Trump may provoke a bloody split or bolt the Party, they are filled with dread.
Undoubtedly, they will get a corporate candidate (likely Jeb Bush, who is raising funds at an unprecedented pace), but at what price?
Leftists can only wish that the Democratic Party had these issues. We can only imagine that Hillary Clinton wakes up every night in a cold sweat, dreading the next morning’s news about Bernie Sanders. That is not happening.
Unlike the Trump campaign, there is no danger of the Party’s left wing (the so-called “progressives”) bolting or disrupting the general election. Sanders has assured the Party establishment that he will not run independently of the Democratic Party or attack the Party or the primary victor. He guarantees that he will remain loyal to the Party throughout the general election– a loyal soldier. He refuses to attack Clinton, arguing that he prefers the high road. In other words, he eschews Trump’s independence.
Like Trump, Sanders polls as high as 16% among Democratic primary voters, far below Clinton’s numbers. But unlike Trump, his most loyal followers pose no threat, make no demands on the Party leaders.
As millions of dollars flow into Clinton’s campaign coffers, she benefits from both the Sanders and the Trump campaign. The afterglow of the Sanders’ populist revival will deflect critics of her corporate allegiances and rabid foreign policy. Trump’s rousing of the Republican Taliban will rekindle the “defeat the ultra-right” crowd who always accept the Party’s tacking to the right to win over the “vital” center. We’ve seen this script before.
So we stand in 2015 in the same position we stood in 2007. The media and commentariat are doing their best (hundreds of millions of advertising dollars are engaged) to create the excitement of a contest where the outcome will ultimately be decided more by fundraisers than by voters. Campaign veterans in both parties estimate that the winning candidate and (her) opponent will spend over a billion dollars before the election.
In this context, a polite “insurgency” within the Democratic Party will not leave a lasting mark on the political scene. To make a difference, an insurgent would need to begin years before an election and build a formidable mass base to counteract the power of money and the entrenched Democratic leadership. The candidate would need to commit to building a movement that would encompass state and local organizations while promising to sustain movement building beyond the current and even future elections. That has not happened in the past and appears most unlikely with the Sanders campaign.
For young idealists inspired by Sanders’s departure from political banality, one can only hope that they will learn valuable lessons about the institutional inertia of the two parties and shed any illusions about “knights in shining armor.” Less optimistically, quixotic campaigns like Sanders’s, and Howard Dean’s before him, can leave a stain of cynicism and inaction.
Is Bernie-mania a second coming of Obama-mania, an exercise of fantasy politics on the part of the left? The test for Sanders supporters who are seasoned veterans of the political wars will come when Clinton wins the Democratic primaries. Will they docilely rally behind her and work for another pro-corporate, war-mongering candidate offering a dubious lesser-of-two-evils? Or will they seek a principled third party candidate (like Jill Stein) who offers a long, unsure, and arduous path, but a path possibly offering real change?
Zoltan Zigedy
POLICE VIOLENCE: Two Black Women Died In Police Custody This Week, Here’s What We Know So Far | Neo-Griot

Bernie Sanders did not allow Chuck Todd to spin his false narratives
| July 29, 2015 | 8:36 pm | Bernie Sanders, political struggle | No comments

Sun Jul 26, 2015 at 08:52 AM PDT

byEgberto Willies

attribution: Screen Shot

Chuck Todd did what Chuck Todd does on today’s Meet The Press. He attempted to drive a false narrative favorable to the one the plutocracy wants served. Bernie Sanders did what Bernie Sanders does. He bombastically prevented his words from being twisted. He refused to play nice by deferring to a false narrative or even letting it get into the ethos unchallenged.Chuck Todd first used the tragic killing in Lafayette, Louisiana to try to sandbag Bernie Sanders. “You’ve  continue to walk, straddle a line here,” Chuck Todd said. “You talk about, you are sort of pro NRA votes in Vermont having to do with being about Vermont, not about the nation as a whole.”

Bernie Sanders did not allow Chuck Todd to finish the setup of the false narrative. “Chuck, that’s not what I said,” Bernie Sanders interjected. “I come from a state that has virtually no gun control. And I voted to ban certain types of assault weapons. And I voted to close the gun show loophole. And I voted for instant background checks. And what I said is that as a nation we can’t continue screaming at each other or else we have to find common ground.” Sanders then went on to describe what finding common ground looks like. It is similar to the explanation he gave when confronted in an orchestrated fashion at a recent event.
Chuck Todd then attempted to play a clip from Netroots Nation where the Black Lives Matter protesters interrupted both Martin O’Malley and Bernie Sanders. Chuck Todd was trying to spin it as a confrontation. Sanders did not allow that clip to be misrepresented. He responded factually. “I didn’t have a confrontation,” Bernie Sanders said. “I was there to speak about immigration reform. And some people started disrupting the meeting. And the issue that they raised was in fact a very important issue — about black lives matter, about Sandra Bland, about black people getting yanked out of, in this case of Sandra Bland, getting yanked out of an automobile, thrown to the ground and ending up dead three days later because of a minor traffic violation. .. This is an issue that is a very important issue, an issue of concern that I strongly share.”Chuck Todd then attempted to create a chasm. “Some people think you were too dismissive,” Todd said. Bernie Sanders again interrupted and did not let a false narrative fester. He pointed out that he was a part of the civil rights movement for decades. Likewise when Todd tried to reinforce the message that Sanders is only about the economic message, Sanders used Martin Luther King’s parallel actions on poverty to make his case. He said they were parallel issues.

To be frank, Bernie Sanders has been a constant on economic issues for decades. Likewise he has always supported civil rights. In fact he was an active participant. What Black Lives Matter did at Netroots Nation was important. It put an existential problem endemic in the black community that has been unresolved for decades into the platform. The good thing is that Bernie Sanders heard the message. Chuck Todd was trying to create a wedge where there isn’t one.

Latest national poll shows Bernie Sanders beating Scott Walker, Donald Trump and Jeb Bush
| July 29, 2015 | 8:23 pm | Bernie Sanders, political struggle | No comments
 Zaid Jilani
Source: Raw Story
27 Jul 2015
Of all the arguments the Democratic establishment has thrown out against Bernie Sanders’ candidacy, perhaps the most recurring one revolves around electability. “Sure, you agree with him,” they argue, “but he can’t win.”
A just released CNN poll finds Sanders out-polling all of the GOP’s major candidates, though pretty much tied with Jeb Bush. Here’s how Sanders stacks up:
BUSH: 47%
TRUMP: 38%
If you limit the poll sample to just registered voters, Bush defeats Sanders by a single point. Either way, this credible poll suggests that Sanders is not just some pie-in-the-sky general election candidate. His more uphill battle may be the primary. But even there, he has some strengths. Polling out last week shows he’s the only candidate from either side who has a net favorability rating.
For the Republicans, too, the race is being turned upside down. Celebrity billionaire Donald Trump is now beating his rivals in national polls; the CNN poll has him at 18 percent to Jeb Bush’s 15 percent. In state polling, Trump is the leader in New Hampshire in the Marist poll, at 21 percent, with Jeb Bush at only 14 percent. In Iowa, Trump is at 17 percent and Scott Walker is at 19 percent.
The race on both sides is slowly in the process of being turned on its head — a sign voters are frustrated with the status quo.
USA/Africa: Obama Visit Roundup
| July 29, 2015 | 8:21 pm | Africa, environmental crisis, Health Care | No comments

AfricaFocus Bulletin
July 29, 2015 (150729)
(Reposted from sources cited below)

Editor’s Note

In analyzing high-profile presidential visits, it is difficult to
sort out symbolism from substance in the sheer volume of news
coverage and commentary. And despite the flurry of announcement of
“deals” at each stop, the main lines of policy are rarely altered
and often reflect continuity not only within one presidential
administration but also from one administration to another. The
content of private conversations of lower-level officials as well as
others involved in the visits may be just as significant as the
formal meetings of presidents. Even more significant may be the
issues not discussed because common assumptions go unquestioned on
both sides.

For a version of this Bulletin in html format, more suitable for
printing, go to, and
click on “format for print or mobile.”

To share this on Facebook, click on

As regular readers know, AfricaFocus seeks to select and repost
particularly insightful news and commentary that readers might not
have seen elsewhere. With such a visible event, that is difficult.
The “news” is available to anyone who has internet access and is
paying attention. And almost all the commentary is predictable and

So this issue of AfricaFocus is different, and consists primarily of
links for readers to explore as they wish, to supplement what they
have already seen or read.

I have included (1) links to the speeches that seemed to me most
significant, (2) suggestions for custom google searches that might
turn up a wide variety of other sources, (3) links to a few
commentaries, including audio from radio programs in which your
editor was included, and (4) links to previous AfricaFocus Bulletins
covering questions that were “off the radar screen” in the visit as
well as in media commentary.

++++++++++++++++++++++end editor’s note+++++++++++++++++

President Obama’s Speeches

Among the speeches and other events made available by the White
House in video form or transcripts, these stand out, particularly
the first. Unfortunately neither the introduction by his sister in
Kenya nor the remarks by African Union Chairperson Nkosazana Dlamini
Zuma were kept on-line by the White House, although they were
available in the live webcast.

President Obama’s Speech to Kenyan People, July 26, 2015

President Obama’s Speech to African Union, July 28, 2015

Custom Google Searches

Note: With the “site:” operator, one can limit a google search to a
single website or to all websites with the same country code, to get
a better idea of how an event or a topic is covered. Some examples
for President Obama’s trip include these, including the two
principal international organizations focusing on human rights

* Obama visit to Africa 2015
* Obama visit to Africa 2015
* Obama visit to Africa 2015
* Obama visit to Africa 2015
* Obama visit to Africa 2015 (includes many
articles from African press)
* Obama visit to Africa 2015
* Obama visit to Africa 2015  (from websites in Kenya)
* Obama visit to Africa 2015 (from websites in Ethiopia)
search web not news since .et not well-represented in news)

Additional country codes can be found at

Several short articles I found worth noting:

Simon Allison, “Barack Obama’s convenient truths,” Daily Maverick,
July 27, 2015

Simon Allison, “Obama at the African Union,” Daily Maverick, July
28, 2015

Hassen Hussein, “What exactly is Obama’s Africa legacy?,” Al
July 28, 2015

Paul Korin, “A visit of firsts, but Obama’s Africa policy mostly
symbolic,” Globe and Mail, July 28, 2015

Audio of radio interviews in which I participated:

KPFA Sunday Show, July 26, 2015, 1st hour, interview with William
Minter, Editor, AfricaFocus Bulletin

KPFA Upfront, July 27, 2015
Horace Campbell, Syracuse University and William Minter, Editor,
AfricaFocus Bulletin
Audio: (start at 34 minutes)

WPFW, July 29, 2015 1pm-2pm Eastern US time – Mwiza Munthali with
Nii Akuetteh and William Minter – will be live at

and later archived at

Aspects of Topics Avoided, with some links to previous AfricaFocus

* On Counter-Terrorism

With the exception of President Obama’s diplomatic critique of
Kenyan and Ethiopian use of the threat of terrorism as an excuse
human rights violations, there was little reference to other
critiques of the policies of USA, Kenya and Ethiopia.  For
alternative views, see in particular the background history and
commentary on the USA, Kenya, and Ethiopian involvement in Somalia
at, particularly,,, and

* On Corruption & “Illicit Financial Flows”

While President Obama spoke eloquently about corruption in Africa,
and briefly mentioned “illicit financial flows” in response to a
remark by African Union Chairperson Nkosazana Dlamini Zuma, there
was clearly no recognition of the critical role played by
multilateral institutions in the United States and the international
financial system more generally in extracting capital from Africa.
For coverage of this, see, in particular, the recent
AfricaFocus Bulletin on “Stop the Bleeding”
( as well as previous
AfricaFocus Bulletins on related issues

See also the July 27 article by Soren Ambrose of ActionAid
International, “Opinion: Developing Nations Set to Challenge Rich
Ahead of SDG [Sustainable Development Goals] Summit,”

* On Economic Policy

Despite brief mentions of the need to address inequality and jobs,
the dominant assumption in President Obama’s speeches was the
“trickle-down” theory that all “trade and investment” will
eventually pay off for all, and that the primary engine of growth is
the private sector. And while there was much mention in the press of
the competition between China and the United States, there was scant
mention, if any, of alternate African and global perspectives on
sustainable development strategies deviating from the dominant U.S.
market fundamentalism.

For previous AfricaFocus Bulletins including material on economic
growth and strategies, visit

* On Climate Change

Although there was much talk of “Power Africa,” the approach
paralleled the Obama administration’s domestic policy in its stance
toward fossil fuels and renewable energy, namely “all of the above.”
Despite brief references to off-the-grid and renewable energy, much
of the private investment to come under the “Power Africa” label is
likely to support traditional fossil fuels, particularly natural gas
power generation. And there were no new commitments to major
increases in global funding to support climate change mitigation.

For a wider discussion of these issues in previous AfricaFocus
Bulletins, visit

* On Health

In spite of token references to AIDS and Ebola, the visit did not
focus major attention on health challenges, including the need for
adequate financing for major investments in public health

See for AfricaFocus
talking points and previous Bulletins.


AfricaFocus Bulletin is an independent electronic publication
providing reposted commentary and analysis on African issues, with a
particular focus on U.S. and international policies. AfricaFocus
Bulletin is edited by William Minter.

AfricaFocus Bulletin can be reached at Please
write to this address to subscribe or unsubscribe to the bulletin,
or to suggest material for inclusion. For more information about
reposted material, please contact directly the original source
mentioned. For a full archive and other resources, see

“Grassroots Dems Love Bernie Sanders. They Just Don’t Think He Can Win,” Clinton Supporters Say
| July 29, 2015 | 12:44 pm | Bernie Sanders, political struggle | No comments
By A. Shaw
Mark Blumenthal and Ariel Edwards-Levy,  Huffington Post reporters, produced a piece about Bernie Sanders.
The bourgeois media, of which The Huffington Post is an outlet, support and oppose political candidates like other campaigns.
They condensed many of Sanders supporters into DPs [i.e., Democrats].
There is a sector of voters out there that is neither DPs nor GOPs.
That Sanders is running on the DP ticket is purely incidental or, better still, completely beside the point.
Bernie is pullling support from this sector of former abstentionists as well as from traditional voters who identify with the DP.
Clinton, identified as major voice in DP establishment, doesn’t pull well from this sector.
This sector is well over half of the eligible electorate, at least half of the registered electorate and swarmps the likely voters.
Can Bernie GOTV them in the primaries?
Only if Bernie builds a mass movement with a revolutionary spirit, then he can GOTV this sector, real good.
If Bernie fails to build this movement, unlikely voters will be hard to GOTV.
So far, Sanders is outstandingly successful in building a revolutionary movement that accompanies his campaign.
Let’s be real.
If Bernie’s campaign and accompaning movement can get shockingly large turnouts at campaign events all over the USA (including the South and Southwest), then it is likely that the campaign and movement can also get shockingly large turnouts in its GOTV operations, because virtually the same tactics are used to promote campaign event turnout and to promote GOTV turnout.
Now, if anybody thinks I’m daydreaming, then what do they say about the preceding paragraph?
The two Huffington reporters underestimate the heart of a champion like Bernie.
The two Huffington reporters contrast Sanders and Clinton’s bases as follows.
Sanders has some supporters and many, many doubters who somehow wildly admire him.
Clinton, on the other hand, has many, many supporters who are firmly confident Clinton will win the primaries.
The two reporters overlook the mass of doubt that Bernie has already implanted in Clinton’s supporters.
Few of Clinton’s supporters believe she can out run Bernie. As Bernie runs her down, Clinton  waits before she breaks down [again] and lies flat on the ground.
“With months still to go before anyone casts a primary ballot or votes in a caucus, it’s premature to write off any candidate’s chances. Even among these highly engaged activists, preferences can change. For the moment, however, Democratic activists see the race for their party’s nomination as a two-candidate contest, and Clinton is winning,” the two Huffington Post reporters said.
Listen here, Clinton ain’t winning.
Clinton is just leading.
But her lead has shrunk recently.
And she’s gonna keep on shrinking.
The two reporters are crazed because the change Clinton is undergoing is a shrinking, not a sweeping.