Response to “Bernie Dreaming and the Hillary Money Machine”
| March 27, 2015 | 11:32 pm | Analysis, Bernie Sanders, political struggle | No comments
By A. Shaw
Paul Street sees Sen. Bernie Sanders candidacy for the 2016 Democratic Party (DP) presidential nomination as an “unworthy endeavor ” and as a dream. Sanders ran for mayor of the largest city in his state. He won the city. He next ran for the U.S. House of Representatives. He won the House seat. He ran for the U.S. Senate. He’s now serving his second term in the senate.
His successes aren’t dreams. They are realities. Clearly, they are far above the level of accomplishment of which Paul Street is capable. Sanders’ accomplishments are only dreams to Mr. Street.
Paul Street says the 2016 DP nomination is unworthy of Sanders, not that Sanders is unworthy of the nomination. Street evidently sees Bernie as so grand and so glorious that even the office of president of the USA is beneath Bernie’s dignity. Fortunately, Bernie is so down-to-earth and modest that he will gladly accept the presidency.
“In recent months, “Progressive Democrats” have been hoping to breathe new life into the United States’ hopelessly 1%-dominated “two party system,”  Mr. Street writes.
Street confuses Sanders’ campaign with the DP-GOP  “system.” The people in Sanders campaign couldn’t care less if this so-called “system” breathes or doesn’t breathe. The people in the campaign care whether campaign breathes or doesn’t. The campaign picks the campaign manager, raises its own funds, hires its consultant, assembles its staff, prepares the all-important strategy and budget — with no input or output what so ever from the  DP or from the so-called “system,” treated by Paul Street as an omnipotent and demonic angel.
This systemic angel has to be something that Mr. Street encounters only in his nightmares.
“Leaving aside Sanders’ terrible record on Israel-Palestine and U.S. imperial policy more broadly and focusing just on domestic policy, it is a complete waste of time – not a worthy endeavor,” Street writes.
Street shouldn’t leave aside anything.
Sanders’ record on the Middle East is lamentably representative of the whole of bourgeois regime, the “system,” and the mass of the US people, especially the Left opportunist element. As for U.S. imperial policy, Sanders consistently and vigorously fights for deep cuts in the bloated U.S. military budget, a tactic designed to undercut imperial policy in the Middle East and imperial policy more broadly.
The left opportunist element always struggles against deep cuts in the bloated US military budget, falsely alleging that such cuts are a complete waste of time as well as an unworthy endeavor.
“Both of the nation’s dominant political “parties” now stand well to the right of majority public opinion and in accord with the views of the elite political “donor class on numerous key policy issues,” Street writes.
Isn’t stating the obvious a complete waste of time?
“Basic candor requires acknowledgement that the Democratic Party has in recent decades become an ever more full-fledged and unabashed rich folks’ party, not to mention a longstanding party of war and empire,” Street writes
Almost everybody has acknowledged in recent centuries –19th, 20th, and 21th — that the DP is and has been a full-fledged bourgeois and imperialist party.
Where has Paul Street been? He just discovered that the DP is a bourgeois party. Before his discovery, what did he think the DP was?
 “As such, it will never allow a candidate sincerely committed to progressive and populist domestic policy goals – much less, one who calls himself (however vaguely) a socialist – become its standard-bearer,” Street writes.
Apparently, Paul Street does only what he is “allowed” to do. He wrongfully attributes the same limitation to Sanders. But sanders intends to become the “standard-bearer” even if the DP incumbents, major contributors, top consultants, and bureaucracy don’t allow it. Street sounds like  somebody who is used to quitting when something is improperly disallowed. Sander plans to rise to state power by strict compliance with constitutional principles and democratic process. So, the constitution and democracy will entitle the rightful winner to assume the role of “standard-bearer.”
” Why help the dismal dollar Dems disguise their oligarchic essence?” Street asks.
Since when has the DP “disguised” its class essence? To the contrary, the DP always shamelessly but proudly exposes itself as a bourgeois party. Indeed, the DP at every opportunity or even in the absence of opportunity, not only conspicuously but also promiscuously exposes itself  — and all of itself with utter vulgarity.
“Why abet their attempt to seem to have had a full and open debate over the issues that concern ordinary Americans?” Street asks..
Sanders debates in a full and open manner with any opponent who dares to confront Sanders. If his opponents flee from a full and open debate, then Sanders cannot compel their participation. The subject of these exchanges is always, at Sanders insistence, the issues that concern ordinary Americans. Sanders isn’t trying to abet “their” attempt to seem to be full and open. Sanders is being full and open himself in political discussions no matter what his opponents and their mouthpieces choose to do.
“As Sanders;’ adviser Tad Devine recently told Salon’s Luke Brinker, “We have not really raised money…” Street writes.
Obama wasn’t the most endowed candidate in the 2008 primary or the 2008 general. He was the most endowed in the 2012 primary but not in the 2012 general. So, being most endowed doesn’t assure victory. Sometimes money wins, other times money loses. True, GOP trash or, in other words, the majority of the judges on the U.S. Supreme Court recently rigged the political scales to favor endowment, but this change does not supply cause for quitting, just because winning is now harder.
“Also significant, the corporate media is highly unlikely to treat Sanders as a “serious” and “viable” candidate – an additional and related death blow to his chances,” Street writes.
The big bourgeois media, like “both of the nation’s dominant political ‘parties’ now stand well to the right of majority public opinion.” The mass of the US people, especially working and middle class liberals and moderates, view the bourgeois media with contempt and suspicion. In other words, the lying cappie press is not as influential as it used to be.Yes, the cappie press is still influential, but  it’s losing credibility real fast.
[Cappie refers to capitalist or pro-capitalist with the same affection and honor that commie refers Communist or pro-communist.]
“A saving grace for a Sanders run would if he were to drop in advance all hopes of winning and using the presidential campaign stage as an educational platform,” Street writes.
Saving Grace! That’s not a saving grace. That’s just a disgrace. Sanders would be adopting the quasi-anarchist and buffoonish stunt of aiming to lose rather than aiming to win. Perhaps instead of aiming either to lose or to win, he aims merely to run. And, of course, he “educates” people. Consider the lessons he would have to teach if he squares with people. How to be a phony candidate. How to perpetrate a political fraud. How to palm-off a campaign as a school or vice versa. How a stuntman impersonates an actor.
Paul Street’s phony campaign is an unworthy endeavor for a person of Sanders’ character.
If Sanders wins, it won’t be the first time. His earlier wins weren’t stunts, dreams, or unworthy endeavors. They were real acts of high accomplishments.
Paul Street sounds like somebody who has never run or helped out in a campaign.
Bernie Dreaming and the Hillary Money Machine
| March 27, 2015 | 11:29 pm | Analysis, Bernie Sanders, political struggle | No comments

Weekend Edition March 27-29, 2015

http://www.counterpunch.org/2015/03/27/bernie-dreaming-and-the-hillary-money-machine/

For a People’s Caucus Beyond the Quadrennial Extravaganza

by PAUL STREET

The Violin Model

The late and formerly Left provocateur Christopher Hitchens once usefully described “the essence of American politics” as “the manipulation of populism by elitism”: the cloaking of plutocratic agendas, of service to the rich and powerful, in the false rebels’ clothing of popular rebellion; the hidden and “unelected dictatorship of money” (Edward S. Herman and David Peterson) masquerading in the false rebels’ clothes of the common people. “That elite is most successful,” Hitchens added in his study of the classically neoliberal Clinton presidency, “which can claim the heartiest allegiance of the fickle crowd; can present itself as most ‘in touch’ with popular concerns; can anticipate the tides and pulses of public opinion; can, in short, be the least apparently ‘elitist.’ It is no great distance from Huey Long’s robust cry of ‘Every man a king’ to the insipid ‘inclusiveness’ of [Bill Clinton’s slogan] ‘Putting People First,’ but the smarter elite managers have learned in the interlude that solid, measurable pledges have to be distinguished by a reserve’ tag that earmarks them for the bankrollers and backers.”

The Democrats have no monopoly on such manipulation in the two-party system. The Republicans have long practiced their own noxious version. Still, the division of labor between the two dominant corporate and imperial political entities in the US party system assigns the greater role to the Democrats when it comes to posing as the political arm of the working class majority, the poor, women, and minorities at the bottom of the nation’s steep and interrelated hierarchies of class, race, gender, ethnicity, and nationality. For the system-serving task of shutting down, containing, and co-opting popular social movements and channeling popular energies into the nation’s corporate-managed, narrow-spectrum, major-party, big money, and candidate centered electoral system, the Democrats are by far and away “the more effective evil” (Glen Ford’s phrase). For the last century, the Marxist political analyst Lance Selfa notes, it has been their job to play “the role of shock absorber, trying to head off and co-opt restive segments of the electorate” by masquerading as “the party of the people.”

The Democratic Party has been most adept at ruling in accord with what David Rothkopf (a former Clinton administration official) in November 2008 called (commenting on then President Elect Obama’s corporatist and militarist transition team and cabinet appointments) “the violin model.”  Under the “violin model,” Rothkopf said, “you hold power with the left hand and you play the music with the right.” In other words, “you” gain and hold office with populace-pleasing progressive-sounding rhetoric even as you govern in standard service to existing dominant corporate and military institutions and class hierarchies.

The Obama administration has been an especially revolting but instructive violin lesson to say the last. Compare the 2008 Obama campaign’s progressive-sounding “hope” and “change” rhetoric and imagery/branding with the Obama administration’s predictably ugly corporate and imperial record, including such highlights:

* The bail out and protection of the Wall Street financial institutions and chieftains who collapsed the US and global economy.

* The passage of a Republican-inspired version of health insurance reform (the absurdly named “Affordable Care Act”) that only the big insurance and drug companies could love.

* The undermining of urgent global efforts to impose binding limits on world carbon emissions and its related approval and encouragement of the United States’ emergence as the world’s leading producer of gas and oil.

* Obama’s embrace of the expanding US-totalitarian national security and surveillance state and his related and unprecedented repression of leakers, whistleblowers, and journalists.

* Obama’s relentless and reckless military imperialism within and beyond the Muslim world – something that has fueled the dramatic expansion of extremist Islamic jihad and sparked a dangerous new confrontation with Russia.

An Unworthy Endeavor

In recent months, “Progressive Democrats” have been hoping to breathe new life into the United States’ hopelessly 1%-dominated “two party system” by running the nominally socialist, technically Independent, and genuinely populist and domestically progressive US Senator Bernie Sanders (I-VT) to challenge the Clinton-Obama arch-neoliberal and imperial corporate Democrat Hillary Clinton in the Iowa 2016 Democratic Presidential Caucus and the New Hampshire Democratic Presidential Primary. Leaving aside Sanders’ terrible record on Israel-Palestine and U.S. imperial policy more broadly and focusing just on domestic policy, it is a complete waste of time – not a worthy endeavor. Both of the nation’s dominant political “parties” now stand well to the right of majority public opinion and in accord
paulstreetwith the views of the elite political “donor class” on numerous key policy issues.

Basic candor requires acknowledgement that the Democratic Party has in recent decades become an ever more full-fledged and unabashed rich folks’ party, not to mention a longstanding party of war and empire. As such, it will never allow a candidate sincerely committed to progressive and populist domestic policy goals – much less, one who calls himself (however vaguely) a socialist – become its standard-bearer. It will nominate either Hillary Clinton or (in the chance of highly unlikely developments) some other corporate Democrat in the summer of 2016. Why help the dismal dollar Dems disguise their oligarchic essence? Why abet their attempt to seem to have had a full and open debate over the issues that concern ordinary Americans? Why assist any effort to make either of the two dominant political organizations that Upton Sinclair all-too accurately described as “two wings of the same [Big Business-dominated] bird of prey” seem more progressive than they really are? Why lend a hand to the corporate-captive Democrats’ efforts to manipulate populism in service to elitism?

“Not Emblematic of a Democracy”

Thankfully, perhaps, the ever-escalating hyper-plutocratic cost of presidential campaigning seems to be turning Sanders against making a run for the White House either outside or inside the Democratic Party. Sanders has become increasingly reticent about the effort. It’s not because he thinks that Hillary Clinton or any other Democratic candidates are likely to advance anything remotely like a progressive agenda to tackle the issues of poverty, inequality, and climate change (issues that Sanders sincerely holds dear, I think). As Sanders;’ adviser Tad Devine recently told Salon’s Luke Brinker, “We have not really raised money…He [Sanders] has absolutely no rapport with the people giving him money…As a matter of fact, he’s spending most of his time trashing them.” By Brinker’s calculation, Sanders’ Senate campaign committee possessed a modes $4.5 million while his political action committee, Progressive Voters of America, raised just over $535,000. “Meanwhile,” Blinker noted:

“ Jeb Bush and Hillary Clinton each aim to raise well north of a cool billion for their campaigns; Bush’s financial juggernaut is already on track to collect $50 million to $100 million for the first three months of this year, and while his party’s base is decidedly skeptical of him, his cash cow of a campaign may ultimately be too much for his rivals to overcome. As for Clinton, there’s no doubt that much of her strength in early polls reflects goodwill among Democratic voters — of course, 2008 attests that such sentiment can be fickle — but is that what’s really behind the recent spate of headlines that for all her flaws, Democrats have no other alternative? Hardly. Above all else, the party apparatus is loyal to Clinton because, in the unlikely event that she doesn’t run, they don’t see any other candidate who could build anything like her money machine, and in the near-certain case that she does enter the race, strategists don’t see how any potential rival would compete against it. So why alienate a potential president by backing someone else” (emphasis added).

Also significant, the corporate media is highly unlikely to treat Sanders as a “serious” and “viable” candidate – an additional and related death blow to his chances.

Never mind that much of what Sanders advocates – genuinely progressive taxation, restoration of union organizing and collective bargaining rights, single-payer health insurance, strong financial regulation, public financing of elections, large-scale green jobs programs to put millions to decently paid work on socially and ecologically necessary tasks and more – is popular with the US working class majority of citizens. That’s technically irrelevant under “our” current system of 1% elections, 1% lobbying, and 1% media, etc As Blinker notes, “the question of who counts as [a] ‘serious’ [presidential candidate] cannot be separated from the question of money. What we’re witnessing is a vicious circle whereby candidates struggle to raise money and therefore struggle to get their messages out and rise in the polls, and because said candidates’ polling numbers are nothing to write home about, it’s difficult to get donors to pay up…The implications of such an order are nothing if not pernicious….Economic inequality and political inequality, it turns out, are indelibly linked….Call it what you will — a plutocracy, an oligarchy, a corporatocracy — but this state of affairs is not emblematic of a democracy.”

Gee, you don’t say. A saving grace for a Sanders run would if he were to drop in advance all hopes of winning and using the presidential campaign stage as an educational platform. He could exploit the process to relentlessly expose the authoritarian and dollar-drenched absurdity of the nation’s oligarchic 1% elections and party system. He could advocate for a powerful new popular sociopolitical movement beneath and beyond the big money-big media-major party-mass-marketed candidate-centered quadrennial electoral spectacles that are staged for as yet another method for marginalizing and containing the populace ever four years – a movement that would include in its list of demands the creation of a political party and elections systems worthy of passionate citizen engagement.

Imagine a Democratic Society

Sanders or other potential electoral “saviors” aside, backing a “progressive” (whatever that term means anymore) candidate in Democratic presidential Caucus and primary race is not the only way to oppose Hillary and other corporate-imperial fake-progressive Democratic presidential candidates in Iowa and New Hampshire. “Progressives” in those states could simply ignore or more actively resist Democratic campaign events. They could disrupt and protest those events, making statements against the plutocratic and militarist nature of the Democratic Party today and against the farcical, corporate-crafted charade that the US elections process has become. (It’s a charade that is featured for an absurdly long period of time, particularly in Iowa and New Hampshire – the “first in the nation” caucus and primary states). Alternately, and more positively, they could do something along the lines of what Noam Chomsky suggested to Occupy Boston activists in October of 2011 – hold local people’s caucuses and primaries based on issues, not candidates and their marketing entourage:

“We’re coming up to the presidential election’s primary season. Suppose we had a functioning democratic society (laughter). Let’s just imagine that. What would a primary look like, say, in New Hampshire? … The people in a town would get together and discuss, talk about, and argue about what they want policy to be. Sort of like what’s happening here in the Occupy movement. They would formulate a conception of what the policy should be. Then if a candidate comes along and says, ‘I want to talk to you,’ the people in the town ought to say, ‘Well, you can come listen to us if you want…we’ll tell you what you want, and you can try to persuade us that you’ll do it; then, maybe we will vote for you…What happens in our society? The candidate comes to town with his public relations agents and the rest of them. He gives some talks, and says, ‘Look how great I am. This is what I’m going to do for you.’ Anybody with a grey cell functioning doesn’t believe a word he or she says. And then maybe people for him, maybe they don’t. That’s very different from a democratic society.”

With the first $5 billion presidential campaign contest coming around corner, an “electoral extravaganza” (Chomsky) very possibly pitting two dynastic families (the Clintons and the Bushes have together have held the White House for 20 of the last 26 years) against one another in an ever more openly oligarchic New Gilded Age, now seems as good a time as ever to embrace a different, genuinely popular type of politics from the bottom up. The top-down method has failed miserably and not incidentally threatens to wipe out life on Earth in the not so distant future.

Paul Street’s latest book is They Rule: The 1% v. Democracy (Paradigm, 2014)

Traitor vs. Patriot

Traitor vs. patriot

 

By James Thompson

 

Much has been made in the right wing, bourgeois media, about who is a traitor and who is a patriot in the United States today. Glenn Beck, Rush Limbaugh and other bourgeois cheerleaders connect the dots by declaring that communists/socialists are traitors and the right wing fringe of the GOP are patriots.

 

Before we examine this proposition, it is important to clarify the definition of the terms.

 

The Merriam-Webster dictionary defines a traitor as:

 

“a person who is not loyal to his or her own country, friends, etc. : a person who betrays a country or group of people by helping or supporting an enemy”

 

The Merriam-Webster dictionary defines a patriot as:

 

“a person who loves and strongly supports or fights for his or her country”

 

The bourgeois media sidesteps these definitions when identifying traitors or patriots. They also failed to clarify who constitutes a “country.”

 

When examining these concepts, it is important to keep in mind that a “country” is composed of its residents. In the United States, the populace is composed of very diverse groups who have different interests. There are many ethnic groups in the United States to include Anglos, African-Americans, Latinos, Asians, Native Americans and many others. People also belong to various socio-economic strata to include bourgeois and proletarians, in other words owners of the means of production and workers. Another way to put it is wealthy and poor.

 

Some people have drawn attention to the fact that the 1% owns the vast majority of the wealth in the United States and the rest is divided among the 99%. Many people have pointed to the vast inequality in personal wealth in the United States.

 

When examining the concepts of traitor and patriot, it is important to keep in mind which socio-economic sector of the population to which the individual is loyal. It is also important to consider the policies advocated by the individual in question and how these policies apply to the interests of the various sectors of the population.

 

For example, Sen. Ted Cruz, who just announced his candidacy for the position of President of the United States, has taken very strong positions from the starting line. He has made clear that he favors shutting down the US government, especially the IRS. He has also taken an uncompromising anti-immigrant stance, even though he, himself, is an immigrant. Ted Cruz was born in Canada.

 

Let us examine Sen. Cruz in terms of the traitor/patriot dialectic.

 

What would it mean to the people of the United States if the federal government was shut down? It would mean that all social programs to include Medicare, Medicaid, Social Security, Veterans Affairs, Federal Bureau of prisons, Federal Aviation Administration to include air traffic controllers, federal highway programs, public health service, the military, Bureau of Indian affairs, to nothing for the executive branch of the government, legislative branch and judiciary. Also, the border patrol would be shut down. This element of his policies is particularly contradictory. In other words, Sen. Cruz advocates chaos. It should be remembered that the IRS is the agency that provides the funding which makes it possible for this country to function as a sovereign nation.

 

Most working people with any understanding of the functioning of the United States easily understand that the eradication of the federal government would result in extraordinary hardship for workers and their families. Meanwhile, the people in the 1% would benefit tremendously from the eradication of the federal government. It would mean lower taxes and lower labor costs. For the working class, the eradication of the federal government would mean lower wages and lower social benefit programs. In other words, only the wealthy would be able to afford education for their children, only the wealthy would be able to afford healthcare, the criminal justice system would be reduced and travel would become very difficult or impossible if one was not extremely wealthy. Discrimination against immigrants also benefits the 1% because both immigrant and citizen workers can be manipulated to accept lower wages

 

So, Sen. Cruz’ positions would clearly define him as a patriot to the 1% and a traitor to the 99%.

 

Conversely, for example, Sen. Bernie Sanders who advocates an expansion of social programs and a reduction in the inequality of income could be considered a traitor to the 1% and a patriot to the 99%.

 

In the coming elections, it will be important for people to ask themselves the question “Which side are you on?” and vote accordingly.

Reminder: Sun., March 29 in Winnipeg: The Good Soldier – Lunch and Talk
| March 27, 2015 | 7:59 pm | Canada, Communist Party Canada | No comments

Dear Friends,

Who wants to hear a knock on their door at 2 a.m.? The Key family does not know when or if they will hear a knock followed by Joshua Key being escorted across the border and sentenced to decades in a U.S. military prison for the ‘crime’ of opposing war crimes.

You are invited: “The Good Soldier” – a lunch and talk – this Sunday, March 29, 2:00 pm at the U of Winnipeg Bulman Centre; tickets are $25.

Time is short, so purchase or reserve a ticket right away:
Phone: 792-3371, email livinginlimbo2014@gmail.com or go to:
- Bison Books (cash or cheque), 424 Graham Ave. (at Vaughn)
– Organic Planet (cash or cheque; surcharge for debit), 877 Westminster (at Evanson)
– North End Socialist Centre (cash or cheque), 387 Selkirk Ave. (at Salter) [phone to confirm office hours: 586-7824]

It will be a chance to discuss why the Conservatives are deporting U.S. military veterans opposed to war crimes – regardless of the huge humanitarian cost, as common criminals, and to lengthy and undeserved prison sentences.

If you asked me, the Conservatives are using these courageous military veterans – who should receive medals – to spawn examples of dreadful consequences should Canadian or NATO soldiers be tempted to complain about war crimes.

In short, the Conservatives are terrorizing our own soldiers to follow orders, no matter how criminal.
Ignoring the lesson of the Nuremberg trial (1946), they are copying Hitler’s methods how to carry out a war.

To me, it is another sign of capitalism’s plummeting economic and political health.

– Darrell Rankin
Leader, Communist Party of Canada – Manitoba.

* * * * * *
All the details:
Sunday, March 29, 2:00 pm
The Bulman Centre, University of Winnipeg
Tickets are $25; a late lunch will be served
Children under 12 are free
The funds are badly needed. Please buy a ‘solidarity ticket’ or more if you cannot attend!

Please help by inviting your friends: Forward this email and invite and share this event page:
https://www.facebook.com/events/1595419437369012/

Well-informed speakers about the campaign to win U.S. military veterans refuge in Canada:
Joshua Key, outspoken American veteran. Joshua came to Canada in 2005 after serving in the initial invasion of Iraq. He wrote about the atrocities he witnessed in “The Deserter’s Tale” (2007).
Michelle Robidoux, a founding member of the War Resisters Support Campaign.
Alyssa Manning, passionate immigration lawyer who represents U.S. military veterans in Canadian courts.
Dr. Amar Khoday, Faculty of Law, University of Manitoba

Chuy Garcia and the right to a city

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Chicago is abuzz these days as incumbent Mayor Rahm Emanuel is in an unexpected and fiercely competitive election runoff with challenger and longtime progressive Latino leader Jesus “Chuy” Garcia. What was supposed to have been a waltz into a second term for Emanuel has turned into a fight for his political life.

Garcia got a late start, is behind in the polls, has nothing close to the deep pockets or name recognition of Emanuel, and is up against the city’s political establishment and “Gold Coast,” but – and this is what makes the Windy City’s elites lose sleep at night – he is gathering momentum and support from many unions and community leaders and organizations. And it is entirely possible that he comes out on top when the ballots are counted on April 7.

Here’s why.

Cities are increasingly turning into battlegrounds, where different models – people versus neoliberal (corporate-elite friendly) – and their associated political coalitions clash. In recent years, The neoliberal model, of which Emanuel is a zealous advocate, is more and more encountering stiff and broad-based resistance. The few dissenters of yesterday are turning into the many today.

A telling example of this trend was the election of Bill de Blasio in New York’s mayoral race in the fall of 2013. De Blasio, who unhesitatingly described himself as a progressive, decried the city’s widening income inequality, gentrification, and the rise of two New Yorks – one living in grand style, the other struggling to make ends meet. He also opposed racist “stop and frisk,” policing, the shrinkage of affordable housing, the lack of pre-kindergarten programs, and the unfair system of taxation that favors Wall Street and the 1 percent.

Supporting his candidacy was a diverse coalition that grew rapidly in the course of the campaign (something that Garcia’s supporters should take inspiration and draw lessons from). So much so that it was evident in the final days of the campaign that de Blasio would win by a landslide as part of a broader progressive electoral sweep.

The outcome was an emphatic rebuff of the previous two mayors – the billionaire Michael Bloomberg and the utterly reactionary Rudy Giuliani. But our analysis can’t be left here. It was, if we dig a little deeper – and we don’t have to dig too far – a repudiation of pro-corporate neoliberalism and the rise of the neoliberal city, which were hallmarks of both Bloomberg’s and Guiliani’s governing strategy and style.

In voting overwhelmingly for de Blasio, New Yorkers said “enough” to a form of political and economic governance that favors commercial, real estate and banking interests, facilitates gentrification and the reconfiguring of urban space to suit the interests and sensibilities of the 1 percent, scales back public sector services, jobs, and union contracts, ramps up “aggressive” policing, promotes privatization of functions that previously were in the public sphere, especially public education, and deepens inequality.

As much as de Blasio’s landslide victory was a repudiation of neoliberal urban governance, it was in equal measure an affirmation by voters, even if not fully articulated, that they have a right to a livable, vibrant, just, and sustainable city (much like people have a right to a job, livable wage, health care, housing, equality, etc.).

Moreover, “right” in this instance, much like the right of workers to the products of their social labor, doesn’t rest on some abstract notion of justice, nor some general societal obligation (although society has such obligations). Instead it is grounded in material practices and activities of millions of New Yorkers who inhabit and create and recreate the city each and every day with labor and neighborly reciprocity in a multitude of paid and unpaid forms. That includes everything from raising children to transporting people, constructing skyscrapers, tunnels, bridges and roads, providing countless services, taking care of the sick and the elderly, creating art and culture, organizing sports, maintaining parks and green spaces, cleaning up environmentally hazardous sites, helping neighbors and coworkers, addressing disabilities needs, going to church, educating the young, engaging in politics, and on and on.

I wondered at the time of the New York elections if Emanuel, seeing the sea change that carried de Blasio into the mayor’s office, might consider a political reset in order to better position himself for a successful run for a second term in Chicago’s elections, which were coming into view. After all, he had to know that his closing of so many public schools was causing widespread discontent in the city as was his relentless push to turn over schools to private charter operators and contract out school janitorial services to major corporations.

Moreover, Emanuel’s refusal, despite promises, to reform the city’s notorious Tax Incremental Finance program and to stop the flow of public monies to subsidize corporations (Hyatt Hotels in Hyde Park) and big real estate interests also was leaving more and more people wondering if Emanuel was the right person to lead the city.

Most people in this situation would adjust their persona and policies to this brewing storm, but not Emanuel. As if to prove that it’s difficult to teach an arrogant, tone deaf, and well-heeled dog new tricks, he pressed fast-forward on his neoliberal plans and made no effort to tamp down his grating, me-first personality. Chicago’s elites hailed his intransigence and determination to stay the course. But many ordinary Chicagoans, when given the chance to express their displeasure in the first round of the mayoral primary in February, denied Emanuel a simple majority, thus forcing the April runoff with second-place finisher Garcia.

While it is uncertain if Emanuel will have to pay the ultimate price for being the loyal soldier for Chicago’s elites when voters go to the polls again, the contested nature of this election no matter what the outcome signifies the growing opposition to economic inequality, neoliberalism, and the neoliberal city, an emphatic assertion of the people’s right to a city, and a scaling up of the class and democratic struggle.

It has already given a shot in the arm to the broader movement and the progressive and left currents within that movement in Chicago as well as elsewhere. And it is serving notice, as did the election in New York, on the centrists in the Democratic Party as well as the right-wing-dominated Republican Party that the political dynamics that have shaped the country’s trajectory over the past 35 years are changing.

Admittedly, these changes don’t yet possess transformative power – that is, the power to deeply, boldly, and creatively consolidate a new governing model that accents people’s self-organization and needs, whether at the local, or, even more so, at the national level.

Nor are the changes in political dynamics in Chicago and New York – or Newark, N.J., Richmond, Calif., Seattle, or Los Angeles – observable in Lubbock, Texas, or Lincoln, Neb., or Cincinnati, Ohio, or, for that matter, Detroit. In other words, the process isn’t broad in scope either.

And yet, I can’t help but believe that the anger at the growing inequality and outlandish class privilege on display in a growing number of cities is also felt by tens of millions elsewhere. Maybe not to the same degree, maybe not to the same extent, but expressing nonetheless a rejection of the economic orthodoxy – neoliberalism – of the past four decades, ideologically embraced and politically facilitated by the top circles of the Democratic Party as well as every section of the Republican Party.

Of course, nothing that has happened in Chicago, New York, or anywhere else puts on the back burner in any way the overriding imperative of decisively defeating right-wing extremism. For the fact is the crisis bedeviling Chicago and other cities – not to mention the country as a whole – cannot be fully, or even significantly, resolved without politically crushing this extreme reactionary political movement that now commands the Republican Party. And it is both very mistaken and dangerous to think that islands of urban progressivism can be established in a surrounding and churning sea in which the most zealous and adventurist prosecutors of a form of neoliberalism that disdains even a passing rhetorical nod to democratic rights, social protection, or equality are increasingly riding the biggest waves.

But that discussion, as important as it is, is for another day. Right now, the challenge in Chicago, if New York’s experience is any guide, is to expand and deepen the cross-class, multi-racial, and multi-ethnic coalition that supports the insurgent campaign of Chuy Garcia.

While a strategy of reaching and mobilizing black, brown, and progressive white voters underpinned the historic 1983 election of Harold Washington, the city’s first Black and undeniably great mayor, a different strategy – and a far more likely winning strategy this time – is necessary to carry Garcia across the finish line in the first place.

A lot has happened since that historic night of Washington’s victory three decades ago. We’ve seen the election and reelection of an African American president that many thought impossible, by a multi-racial coalition of voters; the growing rejection of racism by significant sections of white people; the changing attitudes and new initiatives in the labor movement to address racism inside and outside of its ranks; the greater resonance of class in the thinking of working people, and more. And to this we should add the broad coalition of labor – the Chicago Teachers Union in the first place – communities of color and many of their leaders, reform democrats, independents, progressives, and sections of the left that are the mainstays of Garcia’s campaign.

This argues for an even more inclusive strategy than was employed to elect Harold Washington. In particular there is no good reason to write off a large section of white people without a struggle and in doing so run the risk of conceding many of them to Emanuel. That’s not a formula for success.

Yes, many white people, bombarded by the subtle and not so subtle racist message that Garcia doesn’t have the political or intellectual heft to be mayor – “not up to the challenge,” will have to be convinced that Chuy’s worst day as mayor will be better than Rahm’s best day. The way to do that isn’t by righteously exclaiming on the “backwardness” of white people, but rather by persuading them on the basis of their experience, common sense, better angels, and deeply felt and existential needs for jobs, livable wages, quality public education, and so on, that Chuy Garcia is best equipped on the basis of his vision, experience, and ordinary roots to lead the city.

And when combined with sustained efforts to acquaint voters throughout the city – North Side, West Side, South Side – with Garcia and his vision as well as mobilize those same voters to go to the polls on Election Day, Chicago will make history again in electing Jesus Garcia as it did decades ago when Harold Washington was elected. And in doing so the people of that great city will take another vital step to reclaim their city and future.

Photo: Chicago mayoral candidate Jesus “Chuy” Garcia’s at a televised debate with current Mayor Rahm Emanuel, March 26. Jesus “Chuy” Garcia for Chicago, Facebook.

Iran, Russia demand immediate halt to Saudi-led Intervention in Yemen

Published time: March 26, 2015 17:34
Edited time: March 27, 2015 00:19

http://rt.com/news/244373-iran-yemen-saudi-airstrikes/
Iran and Russia have called on Saudi Arabia to halt airstrikes on Yemen as supporters of Yemen’s ruling Houthi militants stage demonstrations throughout the country, protesting against the Saudi-led military intervention.

Speaking to Iranian President Hassan Rouhani, Russia’s Vladimir Putin called for an “immediate cessation of military activities” in Yemen and increased efforts to find a peaceful solution to the crisis, the Kremlin said in a statement on Thursday.

Iranian Foreign Minister Mohammad Javad Zarif said that military operations against Yemen will only lead to further destabilization of the region, which has fallen under Houthi control after an onslaught of increased violence in recent months.

READ MORE: Oil surges 6% after Saudi launches military airstrikes in Yemen

“We demand an immediate stop to the Saudi military operations in Yemen,” he said in an interview with Iran’s Arabic-language al-Alam news network on Thursday. “We will spare no effort to contain the crisis in Yemen.”

Iran is suspected of providing supplies and training to the Houthi rebels, but Tehran has publicly denied these claims.

A United Arab Emirates official, however, expressed concerns about Iran’s influence in Yemen.

“The strategic change in the region benefits Iran and we cannot be silent about the fact that the Houthis carry their banner,” UAE Minister of State for Foreign Affairs Anwar Mohammed Gargash tweeted on Thursday.

Lebanon’s Hezbollah has decried Saudi intervention as “unjust aggression.” The Shiite group urged Saudi Arabia and its allies to cease the strikes immediately.

“This adventure, [which] lacks wisdom and legal and legitimate justification and which is led by Saudi Arabia, is taking the region towards increased tension and dangers for the future and the present of the region,” the group said in a statement.

Followers of the Houthi movement demonstrate to show support to the movement in Yemen's northwestern city of Saada March 26, 2015. (Reuters / Naiyf Rahma)

Followers of the Houthi movement demonstrate to show support to the movement in Yemen’s northwestern city of Saada March 26, 2015. (Reuters / Naiyf Rahma)

Saudi-led strikes, launched early Thursday morning, targeted the country’s capital Sanaa as well as a southern base. Following the strikes, a Houthi revolutionary committee called for mass rallies to stir up public support for a military response to the Saudi intervention.

“We will react against Saudi oppression in all ways we are capable…Yemeni blood is not cheap. Saudi has announced war in Yemen,” said Ali Al Kohom, a member of the Houthi Political Council.

Houthi leadership has also maintained that the country is ready to ward of Saudi aggression without help from Tehran.

“Yemeni people are prepared to face this aggression without any foreign interference,” Houthi politburo official Mohammed al-Bukhaiti told Reuters.

Meanwhile, EU foreign policy chief Federica Mogherini has said that a military response will not solve the crisis in Yemen, and urged all parties to act “responsibly.”

“I’m convinced that military action is not a solution,” she said. “At this critical juncture, all regional actors should act responsibly and constructively to create as a matter of urgency the conditions for a return to negotiations.”

International intervention in Yemen is likely to result in “the rise of sectarian strife and prolonged civil unrest,” political analyst Ibrahim Alloush told RT. Casting doubt on the possibility of a ground invasion in Yemen, Alloush said that such a move would end in a “war of attrition” because of Yemen’s geographic and demographic “complexities.”

He also noted that Saudi Arabia’s own stability is at stake because the airstrikes target those with connections back in the Gulf kingdom.

Though Washington is not involved directly in the operation, the White House has authorized “logistical and intelligence support.”

Yemen’s ousted President Abd Rabbuh Mansur Hadi left the country’s southern city of Aden on Thursday, where he had been holing up since fleeing Houthi custody in February. Saudi state TV said he has arrived in the Saudi capital Riyadh and will later head to Egypt under Saudi protection, where he is expected to attend an Arab summit on Saturday.

An escalating conflict in Yemen could bode badly for global oil supplies, as oil prices spiked more than four percent on Thursday.

‘Drug lords danced with joy, when US blacklisted me’ – Russian anti-drug chief
| March 26, 2015 | 9:53 pm | International, political struggle, Russia | No comments

http://usfriendsofthesovietpeople.org/archives/1701