In a New York Times Magazine article about the future of the Democratic Party, Sen. Bernie Sanders was asked what he thinks the party stands for. “You’re asking a good question, and I can’t give you a definitive answer. Certainly there are some people in the Democratic Party who want to maintain the status quo. They would rather go down with the Titanic so long as they have first-class seats,” Sanders said.
Sanders is right that the Democratic Party is a sinking ship. It seems that the Democratic leadership would prefer to destroy the party in its entirety rather than concede political power to progressives in order to start recouping their losses. Since Hillary Clinton lost the presidency, every push for reform has been ignored by the Democratic establishment. Wall Street puppet Sen. Chuck Schumer was elected as Senate minority leader over more popular progressive options. House Minority Leader Nancy Pelosi, who has presided over the Democrats losing over 60 seats in the house, was re-elected easily. The establishment selected their own DNC chair candidate, former Secretary of Labor Tom Perez, who sabotaged Sanders’ candidacy. The DCCC and DSCC leadership has been virtually unchanged. The DNC has doubled down on the establishment’s failed politics by hiring staffers from Clinton’s poorly run presidential campaign, and it has granted Clinton campaign Chairman John Podesta’s Center for American Progress and Clinton propaganda hit man David Brock even more influence over the Democratic Party.
The focus of the Democratic Party’s resistance to President Donald Trump and the Republican Party has primarily revolved around Russian election interference allegations and sensationalizing any links between Trump officials and Russian diplomats. The narrative has served as a useful marketing and fundraising tool to rally its loyal supporter base without taking meaningful actions on policy.
The Democratic Party doesn’t stand for anything, and—as long as fundraising from wealthy and corporate donors remains the party’s focus—this won’t ever change. Exit poll data reveals that, despite the American population becoming more diverse, Democrats have been losing voters in every voter demographic since 2008. Favorability polling data shows that the Democratic Party’s ratings and those of its leaders—including Nancy Pelosi and Charles Schumer—are even lower than Trump’s and the Republican Party’s ratings. Every opportunity that the Democratic Party has had to rebuild itself has been abandoned in favor of preserving the status quo.
Sanders’ criticisms of the Democratic Party have been few since being named the party’s outreach chair, but his opinions of the Democratic Party and its leadership have remained relatively unchanged since the Democratic primaries. Democrats ingratiating themselves with Sanders’ popularity will only carry the party so far, especially as establishment partisans maintain a bitter attitude toward Sanders and his supporters, who they perceive as “not real Democrats.” The Democratic leadership made the principles of the party clear when they rigged the Democratic primaries in favor of Hillary Clinton.
The Democratic Party stands for its wealthy donors, their preferred candidates and centrist policies. It consistently fails to adopt bold, meaningful reforms to address the worsening issues facing individuals and communities across the country like lack of healthcare, poverty, increasing wealth inequality, stagnant wages, aging infrastructure and a disappearing middle class. This has been demonstrated by the Democratic Party’s refusal to take a stand against Wall Street, instead opting to court Wall Street bankers as donors and lobbyists. When issues have demanded action, the Democratic Party has refused to take a stand. For example, the party says it champions environmental issues, but it failed to fight construction of the Dakota Access Pipeline, the Keystone XL, and other pipelines constructed across the U.S. The Democratic Party has resisted fully supporting a $15 minimum wage, providing universal healthcare through a single payer system, holding the big banks accountable, and taking a stance on the TPP while defending NAFTA. The Democratic Party sits on the sidelines of the fights led by grassroots movements to not upset the billionaires and millionaires that have taken over the Democratic Party and have turned it into a shell of its former self.
A USA Today/Suffolk University poll, conducted in the first week of March, shows Trump’s approval rating at 47 percent, and his personal favorability at 45 percent. Sixty percent of respondents disapprove of his temper, and 59 percent think he tweets too much.
While USA Today called Trump’s approval “a poor rating by historic standards,” the numbers looked even worse for his opponent in the November 2016 presidential election and the opposition Democratic Party: Hillary Clinton recorded only a 35 percent approval rating, while the Democrats were at 36 percent.
“This is a disaster. At a time when Donald Trump is the least liked president ever measured at this point in his first term, the Democratic Party has found a way to be even less liked than him. This is how Donald Trump wins a second term,” progressive activist Shaun King wrote in the New York Daily News on Thursday.
The Democratic party “struggles to hear the truth about itself,” King added, and pointed out that most Democrats he spoke with could not tell him what the party stands for.
Last month, the Democrats elected former Labor Secretary Tom Perez as their new National Committee chair. Perez was backed by Clinton and former President Barack Obama, while his principal rival, Rep. Keith Ellison (R-Minnesota) enjoyed the support of the left wing of the party, led by independent Vermont Senator Bernie Sanders.
The party’s poor showing in the Suffolk poll is even more significant when considering that the sample of 1,000 registered voters included 352 Democrats, 330 Republicans and 318 independents.
Broken down by party affiliation, Trump’s approval rating is much higher among Republicans (88 percent) and is higher than disapproval among independents by 2 percentage points. More Democrats (11 percent) approve of Trump than Republicans disapprove (8 percent).
Slightly fewer Democrats (7 percent) and Republicans (86 percent) have a favorable opinion of Trump personally, with independents holding steady at 44 percent.
A whopping 93 percent of Republicans, 61 percent of independents, and even 15 percent of Democrats have an unfavorable view of Hillary Clinton, while slightly more independents (57 percent) disapprove of Democrats than of Republicans (51 percent).
While the respondents mostly disagreed (59 percent) with Trump’s description of journalists as “enemies of the people,” the majority of Republicans (78 percent) and independents (56 percent) had an unfavorable view of the media, along with 19 percent of Democrats.
Most of the respondents disapproved of Trump’s temperament (60 percent) and thought he was tweeting too much (59 percent), but 55 percent agreed that he has “shown leadership” and 46 percent believe the country is headed in the right direction – a 12-point swing up from the same poll in December 2016.
International Women’s Day: News From the US
Election of Donald Trump: Its Effect on International Women’s Day 2017
This year marks the 104th anniversary of International Women’s Day started by communist Clara Zetkin. Though American women have made some gains since that time there are many more that still need to be fought for. To this day, women in the US are not entitled by Federal Law to maternity leave, sick days for themselves or for ailing children or parents, vacation time, daycare services, or welfare benefits that help women take care of their own children or their ailing parents. This shows a complete disregard for the position of women and of the family.
Under President Donald Trump women’s rights are continuing to erode. Donald Trump has threatened to appoint Supreme Court judges who would repeal Roe v Wade and to exempt Big Corporations from providing birth control to female employees.
Women represent the backbone of the family and society. They help raise the next generation of workers. Yet, women continue to live in a state of constant crisis, going from a paid job at work to an unpaid job at home without any time of their own due to low wages, high inflation, and constant cuts in social services.
Trump’s cabinet is stacked with multi-billionaires whose policies, such as housing, job creation, job safety, healthcare, environmental protections are against working people. Under the Trump Administration there will be further drastic cuts to social services, such as Foodstamps, headstart programs, and Medicaid and also privatization of social security and education. These cuts are not being made because there is a lack of money; but because the government’s priorities are for the profits of big corporations, not for the benefit of society. Over $1 trillion continues to be spent on wars that benefit military contractors; while over ½ trillion is spent on government subsidies to billionaire Big Corporations like Exxon and Wal-Mart. Yet while officially 57% of the US budget goes towards military spending, the Trump Administration is demanding cuts be made to the Foodstamp program that represents a mere 1% of the budget. A program that is literally a lifeline to 1 in 7 hungry Americans; 83% of which are: children, seniors, and the disabled.
Since Trump’s inauguration, there have been many women’s rights marches throughout the country; mainly organized by the Democratic Party whose motto is “Voting Democratic will ensure Women’s Rights”. However, Let’s not forget that it was Democrat President Jimmy Carter who voted against the Equal Rights Amendment and for the Hyde Act; Democrat Bill Clinton who destroyed Welfare; and Lastly Democrat Barack Obama who in 2011 during a high inflationary period that was combined with high unemployment slashed Foodstamps & also turned around and signed an act virtually eliminating it in 2021. Capitalism is based upon cheap labor and exploitation. The Democrats and Republicans represent the left and right wing of the same bird. Under such conditions, women with hungry children are the easiest to exploit and there is little economic incentive for either party to change the system.
Although Hillary Clinton’s Democratic Party is using these marches for its own ends, other truly progressive women’s groups like Code Pink, and smaller groups like Women Warriors, PSL, and PC USA (Party of Communists USA) have been able to come forward to refocus the spotlight on the conditions of working women under capitalism and to try to mount an offensive; not only to maintain the rights women currently have, but to demand greater rights. If perhaps nothing more, Trump’s presidency has had the affect of mobilizing women on the streets and opening up the subject of Women’s Rights in a way not seen since the 1970’s; something that would not have happened if Hillary Clinton had been elected to office.
Correspondent for Labor Today
Women’s Commission, Party of Communists USA (PCUSA)
Although Hillary Clinton lost the political race, the so-called Clinton email scandal continues to smolder. The reason behind this phenomenon is pretty obvious: too many questions still remain unanswered.
After the Federal Investigation Bureau (FBI) closed the Clinton email case for the second time on the eve of the US presidential election it seemed that it was over.
However, in early January FBI quietly released the fifth batch of Hillary Clinton documents while the nation was enjoying the NFL Wildcard Playoffs.
”FBI quietly releases new Hillary Clinton investigation documents (part 5) [as yet, no announcement],” WikiLeaks tweeted on January 9.
On February 4 the sixth part of the FBI’s Clinton investigation was published on the agency’s website, signaling that the probe is still under way.
That was confirmed by House of Representatives Oversight Committee chairman Jason Chaffetz, who told journalists on January 26 that the investigation continues.
“There are still a lot of unanswered questions. We don’t have literally tens of thousands of documents that we still need,” Chaffetz told Fox News.
However, it appears that not all of the documents related to the Clinton email investigation will find their way out.Politico.com reported on February 21 that conservative watchdog Judicial Watch’s request to release some of State Department records about Clinton’s use of a private server during her tenure as Secretary of State was denied by a federal judge.
The Clinton email scandal erupted back in 2015 when it became publicly known that Hillary Clinton had used her private email server for official communications during her tenure as Secretary of State.
It turned out later that Hillary Clinton deleted about 33,000 emails by the time she handed over work-related correspondence from her private server to the US State Department in 2014. Predictably, it added more fuel to the fire and prompted the question why she decided to delete them.
There is a lot that the deleted emails could have told us, Jan R. Weinberg, founder of Show Up! America, believes.
While carrying out his major research on the Obama administration foreign policy initiatives known as the “Pivot to Asia” and the Trans Pacific Partnership (TPP), Weinberg stumbled upon the National Center for Public Policy Research’s (NCPPR) investigation into an alleged honest services fraud on the part of the Boeing Company and General Electric.Back in 2015 the conservative think tank shed light on the suspicious pattern of the defense contractors’ cooperation with the Clinton Foundation and then Secretary of State Hillary Clinton.
The NCPPR assumed that Hillary Clinton lobbied foreign governments on behalf of companies including GE and Boeing at the time when these companies were making generous donations to the Clinton Foundation.
For example, the watchdog referred to the fact that “GE donated between $500,000 and $1 million to a health partnership with the Clinton Foundation. [Secretary of State] Clinton’s subsequent actions helped GE obtain a contract with the Algerian government to supply turbines for six power plants to the tune of $1.9 billion.”
Likewise, the Boeing Company was also spotted pouring money into the Clinton Foundation during Hillary Clinton’s tenure as Secretary of State; the State, for its part, helped Boeing secure a Russian contract, according to the watchdog.
To remove all doubts about the nature of this collaboration the NCPPR asked GE and Boeing to release any email correspondence the companies had with the US State Department and the Clinton Foundation.
The watchdog suggested that some of these emails could have originated from Secretary Clinton’s private server. It was also assumed that these emails could have duplicated some of those deleted by Hillary Clinton. In this context the potential release would take on a new significance.However, the defense contractors refused to make the documents public.
It remains unclear whether the NCPPR managed to obtained the emails in question and whether they surfaced during the recent FBI inquiry. The watchdog didn’t respond to Sputnik’s questions on the matter.
“I remain skeptical that our government officials will, on their own, separate themselves from the undue influences of corporations particularly of the armament industry and their associated lobbyists,” Weinberg told Sputnik commenting on the issue.
“While other concerned citizens such as Charles Ortel have been diligently investigating the issues of alleged Clinton Foundation charity fraud, I have made concerted efforts to communicate my own particular concerns to the FBI, Judicial Watch, and various members of the United States Congress, including Senator Bernie Sanders, Senator Chuck Grassley, Representatives Jason Chaffetz and Representative Trey Gowdy; specifically the interrelationships between President Barack Obama, Secretary of State Hillary Clinton, Boeing CEO Jim McNerney, GE CEO Jeff Immelt and Marillyn Hewson of Lockheed Martin,” he said.
“In part, my concerns focused on the vulnerability of then Secretary of State Hillary Clinton’s email server; and that certain of emails with both Boeing & GE, may have been labeled classified (or should have been) and yet seem to have been inexplicably deleted from Hillary Clinton’s email server,” he suggested.
“There may very well have been risks to our [US] national security interests. Perhaps the emails reflect ‘quid pro quo pro quid’ relations with the Clinton Foundation — which is a concern highlighted in the NCPPR press releases,” Weinberg noted.
Weinberg believes that the American omnipotent military-industrial complex had a substantial influence on the Obama administration, and, most notably, then Secretary of State Clinton.He recalled that during his election campaign Barack Obama pledged that Washington lobbyists would never ever again set the White House’s agenda.
However, it was US major defense contractors who headed the President’s Export Council, the Business Roundtable and the President’s Council on Jobs and Competitiveness under Obama.
“President Obama assigned James McNerney to be the Chairman of the President’s Export Council while Mr. McNerney simultaneously served as the President and CEO of Boeing and while James McNerney served as the Chairman of the Business Roundtable. James McNerney was also a member of the President’s Council on Jobs and Competitiveness,” Weinberg underscored.
“Marillyn Hewson was a member of the President’s Export Council, while Ms. Hewson simultaneously acted as President and CEO of Lockheed Martin and as a member of the Business Roundtable,” he pointed out.
The question then arises what compelled President Obama to set aside his ethical concerns and open the door to the powerful military industrial lobby.
“I cannot help but wonder what advice Jim McNerney, Jeff Immelt and Marillyn Hewson gave to President Obama, Secretary of State Hillary Clinton, and Secretary of Defense Ashton Carter,” Weinberg said.
“I cannot help but wonder what information and subject matter was addressed in the emails between Hillary Clinton, the Department of State and Boeing & GE. I cannot help but wonder if indeed the Congressional representatives, the Department of Justice and the FBI are investigating the aforementioned information or if it has been ignored, and investigations will ultimately be suppressed in the name of protecting ‘national security interests,'” he pointed out.
“The skeptic in me says that nothing will be permitted to curtail the influences of power, money & prestige within politics,” Weinberg concluded.
The views expressed in this article are solely those of the author and do not necessarily reflect the official position of Sputnik.
On February 2, Sen. Bernie Sanders spoke at the 2017 Sister Giant Conference in Washington D.C. In his speech, he voiced his harshest criticism of the Democratic establishment since his presidential campaign.
“Let me suggest to you, and some will disagree with me and that’s okay, too. But let me suggest to you that what happened on November 8th. Trump’s victory was not a victory for Trump or his ideology. It was a gross political failure of the Democratic Party,” said Sanders, who went on to explain his perspective on why Donald Trump won and where the Democratic Party has gone astray.
“Let me also tell you something again where people may disagree with me. If you think everyone who voted for Donald Trump is a racist or a sexist or a homophobe, you would be dead wrong,” he said. “Many of those folks—and I met them all over this country—are hard-working, decent people, but they are asking questions like how does it happen I am working longer hours for lower wages? How does it happen that almost all of the new income and wealth in this country is going to the top one percent? How does it happen that as a single mother I cannot afford childcare for my baby? How does it happen that my kids will in all likelihood have a lower standard living than I will, and they’re leaving school deeply in debt? How does it happen that I’m working for 9 bucks an hour and nobody gives a damn about whether or not I can put food on the table or pay my rent? How does it happen that the crooks on Wall Street destroy the economy, yet kids who smoke marijuana get prosecuted, but the CEOs on Wall Street who destroyed the lives of millions of people, not one prosecution of a Wall Street executive, how does that happen?”
By William Blum – Published February 4th, 2017
“Why, sometimes I’ve believed as many as six impossible things before breakfast.” – Alice in Wonderland
Since Yalta, we have a long list of times we’ve tried to engage positively with Russia. We have a relatively short list of successes in that regard. – General James Mattis, the new Secretary of Defense
If anyone knows where to find this long list please send me a copy.
This delusion is repeated periodically by American military officials. A year ago, following the release of Russia’s new national security document, naming as threats both the United States and the expansion of the NATO alliance, a Pentagon spokesman declared: “They have no reason to consider us a threat. We are not looking for conflict with Russia.”
Meanwhile, in early January, the United States embarked upon its biggest military buildup in Europe since the end of the Cold War – 3,500 American soldiers landed, unloading three shiploads, with 2,500 tanks, trucks and other combat vehicles. The troops were to be deployed in Poland, Romania, Bulgaria, Germany, Hungary and across the Baltics. Lt. Gen. Frederick Hodges, commander of US forces in Europe, said, “Three years after the last American tanks left the continent, we need to get them back.”
The measures, General Hodges declared, were a “response to Russia’s invasion of Ukraine and the illegal annexation of Crimea. This does not mean that there necessarily has to be a war, none of this is inevitable, but Moscow is preparing for the possibility.” (See previous paragraph.)
This January 2017 buildup, we are told, is in response to a Russian action in Crimea of January 2014. The alert reader will have noticed that critics of Russia in recent years, virtually without exception, condemn Moscow’s Crimean action and typically nothing else. Could that be because they have nothing else to condemn about Russia’s foreign policy? At the same time they invariably fail to point out what preceded the Russian action – the overthrow, with Washington’s indispensable help, of the democratically-elected, Moscow-friendly Ukrainian government, replacing it with an anti-Russian, neo-fascist (literally) regime, complete with Nazi salutes and swastika-like symbols.
Ukraine and Georgia, both of which border Russia, are all that’s left to complete the US/NATO encirclement. And when the US overthrew the government of Ukraine, why shouldn’t Russia have been alarmed as the circle was about to close yet tighter? Even so, the Russian military appeared in Ukraine only in Crimea, where the Russians already had a military base with the approval of the Ukrainian government. No one could have blocked Moscow from taking over all of Ukraine if they wanted to.
Yet, the United States is right. Russia is a threat. A threat to American world dominance. And Americans can’t shake their upbringing. Here’s veteran National Public Radio newscaster Cokie Roberts bemoaning Trump’s stated desire to develop friendly relations with Russia: “This country has had a consistent policy for 70 years towards the Soviet Union and Russia, and Trump is trying to undo that.” Heavens! Nuclear war would be better than that!
The entire emphasis has been on whether a particular news item is factually correct or incorrect. However, that is not the main problem with mainstream media. A news item can be factually correct and still be very biased and misleading because of what’s been left out, such as the relevant information about the Russian “invasion” of Crimea mentioned above. But when it comes to real fake news it’s difficult to top the CIA’s record in Latin America as revealed by Philip Agee, the leading whistleblower of all time.
Agee spent 12 years (1957-69) as a CIA case officer, most of it in Latin America. His first book, Inside the Company: CIA Diary, published in 1974 revealed how it was a common Agency tactic to write editorials and phoney news stories to be knowingly published by Latin American media with no indication of the CIA authorship or CIA payment to the particular media. The propaganda value of such a “news” item might be multiplied by being picked up by other CIA stations in Latin America who would disseminate it through a CIA-owned news agency or a CIA-owned radio station. Some of these stories made their way back to the United States to be read or heard by unknowing North Americans.
So much cheaper. So much easier. So much more humane. So much more popular. … Just stop overthrowing or destabilizing governments south of the border.
And the United States certainly has a moral obligation to do this. So many of the immigrants are escaping a situation in their homeland made hopeless by American intervention and policy. The particularly severe increase in Honduran migration to the US in recent years is a direct result of the June 28, 2009 military coup that overthrew the democratically-elected president, Manuel Zelaya, after he did things like raising the minimum wage, giving subsidies to small farmers, and instituting free education. The coup – like so many others in Latin America – was led by a graduate of Washington’s infamous School of the Americas.
As per the standard Western Hemisphere script, the Honduran coup was followed by the abusive policies of the new regime, loyally supported by the United States. The State Department was virtually alone in the Western Hemisphere in not unequivocally condemning the Honduran coup. Indeed, the Obama administration refused to even call it a coup, which, under American law, would tie Washington’s hands as to the amount of support it could give the coup government. This denial of reality continued to exist even though a US embassy cable released by Wikileaks in 2010 declared: “There is no doubt that the military, Supreme Court and National Congress conspired on June 28  in what constituted an illegal and unconstitutional coup against the Executive Branch”. Washington’s support of the far-right Honduran government has continued ever since.
In addition to Honduras, Washington overthrew progressive governments which were sincerely committed to fighting poverty in Guatemala and Nicaragua; while in El Salvador the US played a major role in suppressing a movement striving to install such a government. And in Mexico, over the years the US has been providing training, arms, and surveillance technology to Mexico’s police and armed forces to better their ability to suppress their own people’s aspirations, as in Chiapas in 1994, and this has added to the influx of the oppressed to the United States, irony notwithstanding.
Moreover, Washington’s North American Free Trade Agreement (NAFTA), has brought a flood of cheap, subsidized US agricultural products into Mexico, ravaging campesino communities and driving many Mexican farmers off the land when they couldn’t compete with the giant from the north. The subsequent Central American Free Trade Agreement (CAFTA) brought the same joys to the people of that area.
These “free trade” agreements – as they do all over the world – also resulted in government enterprises being privatized, the regulation of corporations being reduced, and cuts to the social budget. Add to this the displacement of communities by foreign mining projects and the drastic US-led militarization of the War on Drugs with accompanying violence and you have the perfect storm of suffering followed by the attempt to escape from suffering.
It’s not that all these people prefer to live in the United States. They’d much rather remain with their families and friends, be able to speak their native language at all times, and avoid the hardships imposed on them by American police and other right-wingers.
Mr. T., if one can read him correctly – not always an easy task – insists that he’s opposed to the hallmark of American foreign policy: regime change. If he would keep his Yankee hands off political and social change in Mexico and Central America and donate as compensation a good part of the billions to be spent on his Great Wall to those societies, there could be a remarkable reduction in the never-ending line of desperate people clawing their way northward.
Amongst the many repeated denunciations of Russian president Vladimir Putin is that he can’t be trusted because he spent many years in the Soviet secret intelligence service, the KGB.
Well, consider that before he became the US president George HW Bush was the head of the CIA.
Putin, we are also told, has his enemies murdered.
But consider the case of Seth Rich, the 27-year-old Democratic National Committee staffer who was shot dead on a Washington, DC street last July.
On August 9, in an interview on the Dutch television program Nieuwsuur, Julian Assange seemed to suggest rather clearly that Seth Rich was the source for the Wikileaks-exposed DNC emails and was murdered for it.
Julian Assange: “Our whistleblowers go to significant efforts to get us material and often face very significant risks. A 27-year-old that works for the DNC, was shot in the back, murdered just a few weeks ago for unknown reasons, as he was walking down the street in Washington, D.C.”
Reporter: “That was just a robbery, I believe. Wasn’t it?”
Julian Assange: “No. There’s no finding. So … I’m suggesting that our sources take risks.” (See also Washington Post, January 19, 2017)
But … but … that was Russian hacking, wasn’t it? Not a leak, right?
If you’ve been paying attention over the years, you know that many other murders have been attributed to the Clintons, beginning in Arkansas. But Bill and Hillary I’m sure are not guilty of all of them. (Google “murders connected clintons.”)
President Trump signed an executive order Friday to launch what he called “a ‘great rebuilding of the Armed Forces’ that is expected to include new ships, planes, weapons and the modernization of the U.S. nuclear arsenal.”
This is something regularly advocated by American military and civilian leaders.
I ask them all the same question: Can you name a foreign war that the United States has ever lost due to an insufficient number of ships, planes, tanks, bombs, guns, or ammunition, or nuclear arsenal? Or because what they had was outdated, against an enemy with more modern weapons?
Senator Jeff Sessions, Donald Trump’s pick for Attorney General, declared two years ago: “Ultimately, freedom of speech is about ascertaining the truth. And if you don’t believe there’s a truth, you don’t believe in truth, if you’re an utter secularist, then how do we operate this government? How can we form a democracy of the kind I think you and I believe in … I do believe that we are a nation that, without God, there is no truth, and it’s all about power, ideology, advancement, agenda, not doing the public service.”
So … if one is an atheist or agnostic one is not inclined toward public service. This of course is easily disproved by all the atheists and agnostics who work for different levels of government and numerous non-profit organizations involved in all manner of social, poverty, peace and environmental projects.
Who is the more virtuous – the believer who goes to church and does good deeds because he hopes to be rewarded by God or at least not be punished by God, or the non-believer who lives a very moral life because it disturbs him to act cruelly and it is in keeping with the kind of world he wants to help create and live in? Remember, the God-awful (no pun intended) war in Iraq was started by a man who goes through all the motions of a very religious person.
Christopher Hitchens, in 2007, in response to conservative columnist Michael Gerson’s article, “What Atheists Can’t Answer”, wrote: “How insulting is the latent suggestion of his position: the appalling insinuation that I would not know right from wrong if I was not supernaturally guided by a celestial dictatorship … simply assumes, whether or not religion is metaphysically ‘true’, that at least it stands for morality. … Here is my challenge. Let Gerson name one ethical statement made or one ethical action performed by a believer that could not have been uttered or done by a nonbeliever.”
Gerson, it should be noted, was the chief speechwriter for the aforementioned very religious person, George W. Bush, for five years, including when Bush invaded Iraq.
I was turning the pages of the Washington Post’s Sunday (January 29) feature section, Outlook, not finding much of particular interest, when to my great surprise I was suddenly hit with a long story about Phil Ochs. Who’s Phil Ochs? many of you may ask, for the folksinger died in 1976 at the age of 35.
The Post’s motivation in devoting so much space to a symbol of the American anti-war left appears to be one more example of the paper’s serious displeasure with Donald Trump. The article is entitled “Phil Ochs is the obscure ’60s folk singer we need today”.
My favorite song of his, among many others, is “I ain’t marching anymore”:
Oh I marched to the battle of New Orleans
At the end of the early British war
The young land started growing
The young blood started flowing
But I ain’t marchin’ anymore
For I’ve killed my share of Indians
In a thousand different fights
I was there at the Little Big Horn
I heard many men lying, I saw many more dying
But I ain’t marchin’ anymore
It’s always the old to lead us to the war
It’s always the young to fall
Now look at all we’ve won with the saber and the gun
Tell me is it worth it all?
For I stole California from the Mexican land
Fought in the bloody Civil War
Yes I even killed my brothers
And so many others
But I ain’t marchin’ anymore
For I marched to the battles of the German trench
In a war that was bound to end all wars
Oh I must have killed a million men
And now they want me back again
But I ain’t marchin’ anymore
For I flew the final mission in the Japanese sky
Set off the mighty mushroom roar
When I saw the cities burning I knew that I was learning That I ain’t marchin’ anymore
Now the labor leader’s screamin’
when they close the missile plants,
United Fruit screams at the Cuban shore,
Call it “Peace” or call it “Treason,”
Call it “Love” or call it “Reason,”
But I ain’t marchin’ any more,
No, I ain’t marchin’ any more
Ironically, very ironically, Donald Trump may well be less of a war monger than Barack Obama or Hillary Clinton.