Monthly Archives: April 2016

What Bill Clinton Did in Africa

As African Americans all over this country fall in line to vote for Hillary Clinton because she is good for them, among the many sins of her husband was the continuing of the rape of the Democratic Republic of Congo begun by Belgian King Leopold in the late nineteenth century. Long before Slick Willy became president, back in the early ’60s, the CIA ousted the democratically elected president of that country, Patrice Lumumba, because he intended to keep the resources of his country for his people to have the benefit from them. Among the minerals present in large quantity was cobalt, an element necessary in most electronics, including American weapons systems and military aircraft. Our government was involved in the assassination of Lumumba and installation of the tyrant Mobutu Sese Seko.

Clinton came into the picture after 30+ years of CIA support for the dictator, who was responsible for the deaths of as many as six million of his subjects. Why? Because Mobutu was becoming an embarrassment, and was talking, like Lumumba, of nationalizing the mineral extraction from his country. Under Clinton’s NSA. funds for a coup and training were given to Laurent Kabila, then a rebel against Mobutu, with the understanding that western access to the minerals would be maintained at the level necessary for western corporations. Laurent Kabila became President of the country, and continued brutal oppression of various ethnic groups , of which there were over 450 in that large land.

Abby Martin, the journalist behind The Empire Files, has created a wonderful entry into her series, called How the World Runs on Looting the Congo.   I recommend it highly. She goes into much greater detail than I can here, and has as her guest one of the many exiles from the Congo since the Kabila family took over.

The US has taken an unhealthy military stance in Africa, and has gone to great lengths to hide it. The Intercept, Glenn Greenwald’s current haven for investigative journalism in this era of corporate ownership of the mass media and the dumbing down of network news, has given us the lively story of how a journalist was blackballed by the Pentagon for pursuing evidence of the US military presence in Africa, How a Simple Request Got Me Blackballed by the Pentagon, a horror story of abuse of FOIA procedures intent on keeping evidence of the military’s vast and growing presence on that beleaguered continent still struggling to find its way clear of its colonial past.

These stories dovetail, and do not tell a pleasant story about how our politicians and military have decided that Africa is too important to our military-industrial complex to be allowed to control itself and its own destiny. This is the price we are paying as a nation for allowing the corporatization of politics and the hegemony of the Defense Department. If we want to stay uninformed about this atrocity and put our heads in the sand, we can continue to waste so much of our income on the military and corporate welfare, costing lives and societies in Africa their freedom and self-determination without interference from the wealthy of this world. Or we can join Bernie’s revolution and fight against the dehumanizing effects of our country’s misdeeds, and at the same time, help a continent that has been abused too long by the Western World.

Hillary bashing

People have accused me of Hillary bashing, and I would argue that truth is a defense to the charge. I have researched Hillary rather thoroughly to see if I could find a way to vote for her in the event of her nomination. As this is looking likely, much as I hate to say it, it is a serious question that needs to be addressed. I have said I won’t vote for her based on actions she took in the 1990s, but there is much more to it than that. My researches discovered enough to make me doubt my ability to vote for her and I was preparing to write a lengthy and complete diary of my researches with trepidation.

Then, on YouTube I found someone had done it for me. This is a half hour video, but if you’re game to watch it, Abby Martin’s Empire File on Hillary and what she really represents, is as good as it gets. It begins with Hillary’s early history and covers most of the ground I would have. Plus, she’s pretty and has bunches of video support for her arguments. Why should I repeat the work already done by someone so well?

Bill Clinton is a joke

Ex-presidents come in all sorts, from loved and revered, to astonishing, to awkward, to ill, but none has had a more unfortunate transformation than Bill Clinton. He used to have the political sense to speak well of those who could help him or support him, but that had clearly run in short supply in 2008 when his wife first sought the presidency. Then he made a number of bizarre and racist comments about the man who has become our current president. He faded into the woodwork after that, coming out only to find ways to make money off his Foundation. But he’s loose again and he’s lost whatever political sense he ever had.

Two recent incidents show that he has lost it and should be put out to pasture. The first is his now famous confrontation with Black Lives Matter protesters at a speech he gave a week or two ago. I’m sure we’ve all seen the video, probably more than once, where he ended up saying in more direct fashion what he intended with his draconian criminal justice rule in the 1990s. The unintended consequences of that law have been ably discussed in Michelle Alexander’s excellent The New Jim Crow.

The law was passed with incredibly harsh penalties aimed at urban crime. It was the statute about which Hillary Clinton made her now notorious claim about superpredators  who needed to be brought to heel. The dogwhistle in that comment was painfully obvious to those of us who lived through it. It was the beginning of my disdain for Hillary and she has done nothing to redeem herself over the intervening years. Bill tried to argue that she was referring to the gang leaders who sent juveniles out to do crimes, hopped up on crack, because they would face lower penalties if caught.  He also said that the juveniles had killed the lives that the protesters were saying mattered. He went on for some time, digging his hole deeper and deeper, although most videos only showed the first few comments he made. He’s lucky. The whole performance was appalling in its insensitivity to the fact that his law created the society in which police could take lives so cavalierly.

What made it worse was his condescending statement the next day when he said he “almost” wanted to apologize, but decided instead to turn it into a teachable moment.Yeah. I groaned as he began to explain that we would accomplish a lot more if we listened to each other and didn’t yell at each other. It would have better if he had kept that pearl of wisdom to himself.

Now I believe he has gone too far. His latest loose comment was to suggest that Bernie Sanders’ followers want to shoot every third Wall Street worker. It was, I believe, meant to be facetious but it was wrong on so many levels that there is no excuse for his having uttered it. He now claims it was a “total joke.” Really? When his wife was hammering Bernie for his views on guns the night before, and speaking over Bernie when it was his turn to respond? That’s another whole rant. Bernie is now being told that he shouldn’t have interrupted her by saying “Excuse me.” Everyone who watched that debate knew that Hillary was pushing her way into Bernie’s time and protesting what he was saying while he was still talking.

To make a joke the next day that Bernie’s supporters want to shoot people on Wall Street was so Trump-like as to shock the conscience. To make a joke out of gun violence when one of the primary stories in the news is the ongoing lawsuit by the families of Newtown, CT, against the makers of the guns that killed their family members is so outrageous that I would hope that Hillary would muzzle this attack dog if she has any hope of gaining support from Sanders’ supporters should she win the nomination.

I was never a big fan of Bill Clinton. He got my vote because the alternative was appalling after the Reagan-Bush 41 years. But a randy, smarmy lothario was not my ideal candidate for president. He could take some clues from Jimmy Carter about how to be an ex-president with dignity and concern for the future of the world. But Jimmy Carter was the last true Democratic president. The Ronny Raygun revolution converted the Third Way Clintons into Republicans-lite. Obama is a continuation of that trend without the venal nature of the Clintons. Obama has bought into the corporatist mindset of the new Democrats, and many current Democrats seem to have accepted the unlimited money from big business as one of the perks of being in politics.

If Bernie has proved one thing with his campaign, it’s that there is another source for money to run a campaign that does not require compromising one’s ethics by being bought and paid for by lobbyists. We are turning into a corporate run society. I suspect that only lip service will be given to our civil rights if this trend is not nipped when we have such a great chance to do it.

Most people go through their lives without thinking overly about being stopped and frisked or pulled over by cops while driving a little bit aggressively. They rely on their money being in the bank when they go to get it, and will kvetch when new barriers are put in the way of getting their money when they want it. They’re not very put out by what is happening in other parts of the country or other police departments, because there hasn’t been a shooting in their town recently. We are comfortable. We have great inertia. It is in times like this that we won’t pay as close attention to our rights as we should. We let Patriot Acts get passed. We let ill-intentioned people talk us into a war that costs lives, treasure, and a realistic hope for peace. In the second world war, we had concentration camps (no, don’t call them internment camps) to lock up American citizens out of an excess of xenophobia, without rights or recompense for the horrendous losses they suffered for out comfort.

We cannot afford to be comfortable. I don’t know who first said it, but I believe our duty on this earth is to comfort the afflicted and afflict the comfortable. We can all do more to help those less advantaged than we are. Naysayers like Bill Clinton are no longer relevant, only inconvenient remnants of a time when money ruled. If this revolution of Bernie Sanders works, it will be the end of the excesses that allowed such facile use of Bill Clinton’s intellect to smother debate and denigrate honest and worthy people.

They Opened The Floor, And You Won’t Believe What Happened Next

This is a wonderful take on trolls, and I commend it to you all. And it’s funny, which makes it worth reading!

Tara Sparling writes

Do you remember a time when Letters To The Editor were the only form of outrage? When we read things, raised our eyebrows, and promptly went about our business?

No, neither do I.

This is a half-post, half-poll, because I want to know what it is that’s making you so upset on the internet. What affronts you? What does it take for you to see red?

What's Getting You So Upset On The Internet?It’s partly inspired by this rather excellent Guardian article (I know, I know. I’m a salady sandal-stroking Guardian whore. There are worse things I could be) called The dark side of Guardian comments”,which analysed over 70 million comments left on their website in order to find out who or what had elicited the most trolling and abuse over the past 9 years.

Amongst other conclusions, the analysis found that writers for the paper who were women, or who were black or gay men, were more likely…

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The conflicts this spring

I spent several hours at Bernie’s HQ this morning doing data entry. There was a couple visiting from Colorado who wanted some swag and they got a fair amount. We had the kind of conversation about Hillary that Bernie probably doesn’t approve of, and we lauded the fact that we finally had a candidate we could vote for instead of against. One thing I find when I encounter women of my age who support Bernie is that the primary motive is positive, that he is saying things we want to hear, that he has a history of consistency and strength in the areas we want, and that he is winning rather nicely of late.

I came home after  doing my work, and found that my kitties had, as usual, wreaked havoc in my apartment and were in the process of creating a motor speedway through my living room. They had snarled a few balls of yarn, knocked some books out of a bookcase, and gotten the cupboard door open that conceals their dry food. Their rambunctiousness is caused by the lengthening day and higher sun. They spend mid-day lolling on their climbing tree in the heat through the windows. They had only been running around for a short while when I got home and that was all to the good.

The Red Sox  are playing so that my evenings are now committed in front of the TV. Tomorrow night, I will go to my writers workshop knowing that I am missing my boys of summer.It is hard to think of summer when the wind blows and still gives a windchill, but seeing the men at Fenway gives me hope of a sirocco wind in a few months time. Then I will undoubtedly complain about the heat and humidity.

The problem with all this activity is that I cannot find the inclination to write. I am reworking the novel I thought I would publish a year ago, and I’m not making much progress. I work in fits and starts, without much to show for it.  I have about 20,000 words down, but am already reworking them because they are not detailed enough to entice the reader. This part of writing is not particularly inspiring for me, in fact, more like a slog, and I find little desire or motivation.

Bernie and the Sox are much more interesting to me right now. But it will happen, when the newness of the baseball season has worn a little thin, and the race for president will be more clear in a few weeks. It is sometimes difficult to convince myself that I’m a writer.

Wyoming joins the crowd!

I suppose I shouldn’t celebrate too much. It’s a western state and a caucus which means the MSM will dis it completely. Bernie spent the day in NYC, holding rallies that attracted bunches of people, while Hillary was upstate raising more money from the well-to-do. I got in some money and so Bernie got his $27. He gets the first money in my checks, then the cats, and then food for me. If there’s any left over, I might buy a book or two, but that seems like a luxury while Bernie is a necessity.

The fundamental reason I support Bernie is that he is the first politician in a long time not to take money from the monetary elite, the ones who run this country in an oligarchy. The Clintons are part of that with their machine funded by Wall Street, Monsanto, Saudi Arabia and others. Monsanto has sued my tiny state because we are the only ones with the cojones to pass a GMO labeling law without wiggle room. It goes into effect in a few months, and some of the big companies are going to start labeling, but not Monsanto.

Monsanto is probably responsible for two of my cats getting bizarre forms of cancer within a very short time of each other, both dying withing three weeks of each other because of contact with Round-up. Round-up has been labeled as probably carcinogenic by the World Health Organization. This has not been widely reported by the MSM because Monsanto is a big player in the oligarchy. Hillary lost my vote, even if she is the nominee, because of her connections with Monsanto. There are plenty of other reasons, but that’s the big one.

So Wyoming, another tiny state, at least population wise,  has stood with Bernie against Hillary and so I applaud them. I wish Hillary would drop out for the good of the liberals, both Democratic and independent, who will otherwise be placed in the position of not voting for her. Her negatives are just too high. Without us, she cannot win. It is her sense of entitlement that keeps her in this race. She cares only for her ambition to be president. This has been painfully clear when her campaign put out the message that she was taking off the gloves, and going to fight to disqualify and defeat Bernie in any way necessary and look for unity thereafter. What unity can she possibly expect if she turns ugly, as she did in 2008, when Bernie’s youthful supporters will not join her? Many of Bernie’s older supporters, like me, will also not support her.

One of my favorite fantasies, in fact, is that Vermont will write-in Bernie, and Hillary will be deprived of our measly three electoral votes.I doubt that enough will do it, but wouldn’t it be loverly? (with apologies to “My Fair Lady”)


Losing patience?

Hillary is losing patience with Bernie, or so she says. Excuse while I chortle. Her campaign has done everything it can to trash Bernie at every step of the way, and she’s the one losing patience? Have at it, Hillary, because you won’t look any better being nasty, if what’s come before is your sweet.

It started with the ridiculous debate schedule. In spite of the pundits and their claims that she’s a great debater, the internet has decided that Bernie has won every debate so far. The mainstream media has picked up the narrative of Hillary’s excellence as a debater, ignoring the groundswell of public opinion in the other direction. Of course, very few people watched the debates since they were placed at such inconvenient times.

Then there was the weekend when both Hillary and Chelsea gave speeches, in New Hampshire, no less, in which they claimed that Bernie was against ChIP and Medicare, since he was going to wipe them out with his own plan. This was so misleading as to cause howls from anyone who had read Bernie’s position papers.  It backfired on them, but was indicative of the tortuous reading they gave to Bernie’s plans.

Next, she decided to put out her college plan to compete with Bernie’s. While he offered Bachelor level degrees in his plan, Hillary would only stump for community colleges, and they would not be free. Poor students would pay for their education with work-study programs. Notice how Hillary’s plan again creates a two-tier system, one in which poor students have to do twice the work to get the same benefit as the wealthier students.

Hillary is now opposed to climate change. This is a lesson she learned from Bernie, too, although she’ll never admit it. It’s very hard to make a credible case for being against climate change when you spent four years traveling the world, impressing on developing countries the benefits of fracking, as if using a slightly cleaner fossil fuel is the answer to four hundred years of using coal and other dirty fuels. Of course she’s now against the TPP, after having called it the gold standard in treaties for the past several years.

Could her loss of patience have anything to do with Bernie’s recent streak of wins? Good grief, even the Democrats Abroad were strongly for Bernie.

If anyone should have lost patience, it should be Bernie. Hillary has ripped off his positions, dumbed them down a little, and offered them as her great experience-driven takes on the subjects involved. Bull pucky. Bernie was right about the Iraq war, and right about our treaty with Panama. Hillary has apologized for the first. It will be very interesting to see what the Panama Papers reveal as more is disclosed. Can you say private server? Can you say speeches to Wall St. firms? Hillary has so much more work to do before she’s earned the right to lose patience with Bernie.