Friday, June 10, 2011

The sit-down strikes

The sit-down strikes by Sharon Smith at

The years 1936 and 1937 represented the highest point of class struggle in the U.S. to date--when a wave of sit-down strikes swept across U.S. industry. Those strikes built the Congress of Industrial Organizations and changed the face of the labor movement.

Ever watched a modern corporate manager try to handle the job of someone beneath them? Its usually pretty funny. I first worked in the restaurant industry, and there it was very common for a restaurant manager to be able to do any job in the place if needed. They could step in and cook, or tend bar, or wait tables or whatever. I found the corporate world to be very different. Most corporate managers would be able to very little of the work that the people who work from them do every day.

Wonder what they'd do if they came out of the conference rooms and found no one there?

Thus, the Flint sit-downers had daily meetings of all strikers in the plant. They organized routine clean-up rituals, defense drills, recreation and even "courts" where grievances could be raised (many, apparently, in jest, as a form of entertainment.)

Strike supporters and families organized the picket lines and food supplies, and raised money for the strikers. Solidarity networks of union activists organized unionists to come to Flint to take part in solidarity actions and mass picketing.

In short, factory occupations give workers a taste of taking real control over their own lives. That's why after the strike was over, many of the Flint sit-downers recalled their experience inside the plant with genuine affection.

As one worker, quoted in Jeremy Brecher's book Strike, put it, "We are all one happy family now. We all feel fine and have plenty to eat. We have several good banjo players and singers. We sing and cheer the Fisher boys and they return it."

According to one historian, there were 170 sit-downs in GM plants alone between March and June 1937. One GM worker later recalled, "every time a dispute came up, the fellows would have a tendency to sit down and just stop working."

The use of the sit-down made the strike wave of 1936-37, which built the CIO, the highest point of class struggle in the history of the U.S. labor movement. And the workers who were involved were changed forever by the sit-downs, in their awareness of their own power as a class.

Thursday, June 9, 2011


The Club of Torturers had an informal meeting at the White House yesterday.

White House affirms relationship with Bahrain, detentions and prosecutions continue

As the Bahraini government continued its crackdown on largely Shiite pro-democracy groups, the Obama administration reaffirmed its friendship with Bahrain this week.

More Shiites were arrested and about 50 medical workers were charged by the Bahraini government this week. The government has accused the doctors and nurses of supporting the pro-democracy protests that the government has been trying for months to stop. Reuters reported yesterday that the medics have been denied access to their attorneys.

The Crown Prince of Bahrain, Salman bin Hamad Al-Khalifa, paid a visit to the White House yesterday and met with State Department officials as well as President Obama. There, the Obama administration’s soft touch on Bahrain continued, with Obama urging the Sunni monarch to “hold accountable” those responsible for human rights abuses without specifying who be held accountable, the Los Angeles Times reported.

Gee, could it be that the first person to hold accountable is the Crown Prince who's sitting in the expensive chairs at the White House as an honored guest? No, let me guess, at some point the Crown Prince will declare that after much investigation it was determined that it was the victims fault that they were tortured. As a remedy, he'll round up any survivors and punish them further for causing themselves to be tortured.

I wonder if Obama's club of torturers and assassins has official t-shirts and hats? Does the secret handshake  include breaking the fingers of a prisoner? Is there a minimum number of people you have to torture before you get invited to the White House for your initiation into the club? The bad news is that Mistress Hillary is in charge of your initiation ceremony. From the look on the Crown Prince's face, this may be something that has only just occurred to him.

What's Missing in This Story?

U.S. wants ‘joint bases’ in Afghanistan, Gates says by Karen De Young in the Washington Post.

I won't quote any of this corporate media piece. That's because my comment isn't about what's written in the article. The article covers Gates' announcement of plans for a nearly permanent occupation of Afghanistan.

No, the key is what's missing from this article. If you read this article, what is the important bit of information that the article never covers?

Why is the US going to have a permanent occupation of Afghanistan? After all, this started as a raid to go get Osama Bin Laden after he attacked us on 9-11. Osama is dead. Whatever bases he had in Afghanistan have long since been found, destroyed or abandoned. If another band of terrorists were to set up a base there, we could always bomb it or missile it any time we wanted. So, why on earth is it in the US national interests to permanently occupy Afghanistan? Why is occupying Afghanistan somehow more important to us as a nation than paying teachers for our children?

Wednesday, June 8, 2011

Pentagon Papers Online

Before you give over any cash to the Nixon Library, realize that most of the Pentagon Papers are already available online.

Daniel Ellsberg points out to CNN that all of the illegal acts that Nixon did against him are now perfectly legal.

Tricky Dick was just ahead of his time.

These days, when you find yourself thinking about Richard Nixon, what comes to mind?

Richard Nixon, if he were alive today, might take bittersweet satisfaction to know that he was not the last smart president to prolong unjustifiably a senseless, unwinnable war, at great cost in human life. (And his aide Henry Kissinger was not the last American official to win an undeserved Nobel Peace Prize.)

He would probably also feel vindicated (and envious) that ALL the crimes he committed against me–which forced his resignation facing impeachment–are now legal.

That includes burglarizing my former psychoanalyst's office (for material to blackmail me into silence), warrantless wiretapping, using the CIA against an American citizen in the US, and authorizing a White House hit squad to "incapacitate me totally" (on the steps of the Capitol on May 3, 1971). All the above were to prevent me from exposing guilty secrets of his own administration that went beyond the Pentagon Papers. But under George W. Bush and Barack Obama,with the PATRIOT Act, the FISA Amendment Act, and (for the hit squad) President Obama's executive orders. they have all become legal.

There is no further need for present or future presidents to commit obstructions of justice (like Nixon's bribes to potential witnesses) to conceal such acts. Under the new laws, Nixon would have stayed in office, and the Vietnam War would have continued at least several more years.

Likewise, where Nixon was the first president in history to use the 54-year-old Espionage Act to indict an American (me) for unauthorized disclosures to the American people (it had previously been used, as intended, exclusively against spies), he would be impressed to see that President Obama has now brought five such indictments against leaks, almost twice as many as all previous presidents put together (three).

He could only admire Obama's boldness in using the same Espionage Act provisions used against me–almost surely unconstitutional used against disclosures to the American press and public in my day, less surely under the current Supreme Court–to indict Thomas Drake, a classic whistleblower who exposed illegality and waste in the NSA.

Drake's trial begins on June 13, the 40th anniversary of the publication of the Pentagon Papers. If Nixon were alive, he might well choose to attend.

My introduction to politics was the time of the Watergate hearings. Back when there were only four networks, my Mom always had the PBS live broadcasts of those hearings on in the house. Little did I realize then, that forty years later all of our Presidents would make Tricky Dick look like a choir boy. And that it would become perfectly legal for them to do so.

What we've seen in Washington is an apparent agreement that neither party will challenge or prosecute the other party for crimes committed. They seem to have reached a deal where everything goes, as long as its for both parties. And, along the way, they've made every awful thing that Tricky Dick did legal.

For someone who's first lesson in politics in America was a litany of the crimes of Tricky Dick, that does really make one pause and realize just how far down the slippery slope we've slid since the days of the Watergate hearings.

"Tin Soldiers and Nixon coming
We're finally on our own.
This summer I hear the calling
Four Dead in Ohio."

These days, President Obama would just have to declare the Kent State students to be terrorists and then order in a drone strike.

Tuesday, June 7, 2011

But They Are Our Death Squad States.

Obamaland in this hemisphere. And yes, it involves more dead bodies.
The Killing Continues as US Doubles Down on Failed Trade Policies by Dan Kovalik

Colombia remains a death squad state - with the full support of the U.S. -- a "Genocidal Democracy," in the words of renowned Colombian human rights advocate Father Javier Giraldo. That Colombia is nonetheless the closest ally of the U.S. in the Hemisphere, however, should not be surprising as the U.S. has never seen a death squad government in this Hemisphere that it hasn't liked or sponsored. Indeed, the violence happening in Guatemala today is a continuation of the violence that the U.S. unleashed decades ago when, at the urging of United Fruit (now Chiquita), it overthrew the democratic government of President Arbenz and installed a military dictatorship which proceeded to kill around 200,000 civilians in the succeeding years.

Against this background, Secretary of State Clinton announced this past week that she is certain that the Colombia FTA will be introduced by the Obama Administration in the very near future. Bill Clinton's own confession before the Senate last year that such free "trade policies have failed everywhere they have been tried," should ring in Secretary Clinton's ears and in the ears of President Obama. And, recent events in Guatemala prove how such policies have been a failure in guaranteeing labor and human rights. Still, the Administration seems doomed by its own ideological dedication to free trade and free market principles to push through another bad trade deal with Colombia - a deal which will ratify Colombia's continued gross violations of human and labor rights.

Everyone should see the picture clearly. The reason this occurs is money. Some people make a lot of money off these 'free trade deals'. Those people give some of that money to the politicians that make the deals happen. That's why this happens. The left seems to like to wander off into vague generalities about an "Administration seems doomed by its own ideological dedication to free trade and free market principles". The problem with that, is that if you don't see the problem clearly and if you don't define the problem clearly, then you don't have much more than a prayer of solving the problem.

Defining the problem as a vague 'idealogical dedication' leaves the answer to the problem even more shrouded in vagueness. But, if you say the problem is simply that people who make a lot of money off cheap labor and raw materials from Latin America are buying off our politicians so they get the trade deals they want, not withstanding the murders and the bodies and the immigrants fleeing poverty that the trade deals bring, then at least you know what the problem is.

And the solution. We still have elections in this country. Stop voting for the politicians who do stuff like this. Learn to look at the money before the election so you can then predict that since Obama had wall street's millions behind him that a vote for Obama was a vote for these sorts of policies.

There are usually other candidates on the ballot. And there's at least a chance that if you elect one of these then you might at least get someone honest enough to not be bought. Especially if they are running a broke campaign without any money. Then you know they haven't been bought. That's who to vote for if you want to change this.

Party Guests Who Stay Too Long

Planet Earth Doesn't Know How To Make It Any Clearer It Wants Everyone To Leave by The Onion.

EARTH—According to a statement released to the press Tuesday, the planet Earth has "just about run out of ways" to let its roughly 6.9 billion human inhabitants know it wants them all to leave.

Following a recent series of disastrous floods along the Mississippi River and destructive tornadoes across much of the United States—as well as a year of even deadlier natural catastrophes all over the world—the Earth said its options for strongly implying that it no longer wants human beings living on it have basically been exhausted.

"At this point, I think I've stated my wishes quite loudly and clearly," the Earth's statement to all of humanity read in part. "I haven't exactly been subtle about it, you realize. I have literally tried to drown you, crush you, starve you, dehydrate you, pump you full of diseases, and suck your homes and families into swirling vortices of death. Honestly, what more is it going to take for you people to get the message?"

"Do I have to spell it out for you?" the statement continued. "Get the fuck out of here. I want you to leave now."

Anyone got a copy of The Hitchhikers Guide to the Universe handy? Seems like we need to find a new planet for this party. The landlady here is getting mad.

A Frat House With Guns.

How Not to Withdraw From Iraq by Peter Van Buren via

Peter Van Buren spent a year in Iraq as a State Department Foreign Service Officer serving as Team Leader for two Provincial Reconstruction Teams (PRTs). Now in Washington, he writes about Iraq and the Middle East at his blog, We Meant Well.

He details what Obama's and Hillary's vision for the new and improved occupation of Iraq will look like. If, and its a big if, the military can be convinced to actually withdraw and hand Iraq over, its Hillary's State Dept that will be running the show in Iraq in the future. And SOS Hillary will have an army of mercenaries at her disposal. Gee, wonder what these guys will be paid to do?

The past mayhem caused by contracted security is well known, with massacres in public squares, drunken murders in the Green Zone, and the like. Think of the mercs as what the Army might be like without its NCOs and officers: a frat house with guns.

Most of them are Americans, though with a few exotic Brits and shady South Africans thrown in. They love 5.11 clothing and favor fingerless leather gloves. Think biker gang or Insane Clown Posse fan boys.

Popular is a clean-shaven head, no moustache but a spiky goatee teased straight out. You know the look from late-night convenience store beer runs. They walk around like Yosemite Sam, arms out as if their very biceps prevented them from standing straight. They're bullies of course, flirting inappropriately with women and posturing around men. Count on them to wear the most expensive Oakley sunglasses and the most unnecessary gear (gold man-bracelets, tactical hair gel). Think: Jersey Shore rejects.

Aggressive tattoos on all exposed skin seem a prerequisite for membership in Club Merc, especially wavy inked patterns around the biceps and on the neck. They all let on that they were once SEALS, Green Berets, SAS, or Legion of Doom members, but of course they "can't talk about it." They're not likely to disclose last names and tend to go by nicknames like Bulldog, Spider, Red Bull, Wolverine, or Smitty.

If arrogance was contagious they'd all be sneezing. All Aryan, all dudely, and now all that stands between those thousands of State Department personnel and Iraq. Oh yes: the seersuckered and bow-tied diplomats are supposed to supervise the mercs and keep them on the right diplomatic path, kind of like expecting the chess club to run herd on the football team.

Doesn't Hillary's Iraq sound just wonderful?

Now, think back to the last election and all the wonderful talk you heard about how Hillary was this super wonderful progressive who would make the world better if we'd only give her the power to do so. She instead becomes the paymaster for mercenaries. Its not that Hillary has changed a bit. Its that you were lied to during the last elections.

Clinton: I won't fund Iraq war without withdrawal plan turns out to be SOS Hillary signing the paychecks of the mercenaries in Iraq to keep us there forever.

The key lesson is that Democrats always run as progressives in the primaries, and always appeal to that base as needed in the general election. The problem is, the track record is that they are lying when they do so. This means in a future election, when you hear some Democrat saying all these wonderful progressive things, you have to remember that they are lying. Their calls not to fund a permanent occupation of Iraq will become their ruling actions of becoming the paymaster of the mercenaries for the permanent occupation of Iraq.

Just remember, (D) is for Liar.

One in four US hackers 'is an FBI informer'

One in four US hackers 'is an FBI informer' by Guardian(UK)

The underground world of computer hackers has been so thoroughly infiltrated in the US by the FBI and secret service that it is now riddled with paranoia and mistrust, with an estimated one in four hackers secretly informing on their peers, a Guardian investigation has established.

Cyber policing units have had such success in forcing online criminals to co-operate with their investigations through the threat of long prison sentences that they have managed to create an army of informants deep inside the hacking community.

And of course, the FBI is a beauracracy that will re-use the same playbook when dealing with any organization.

Monday, June 6, 2011

Thou Shall Not Kill

Thou Shall Not Kill

Christianity, Judaism, and Islam (see comment) all recognize the Ten Commandments.  And, high on the list is, "Thou Shall Not Kill."  Even if you aren't religious, and you look at those stone tablets as one of civilization's first attempt to establish a set of rules under which we might all peacefully live, surely its worth noting that "Thou Shall Not Kill" is prime rule to live by.

Meanwhile, "Thou Shall Not Attempt to Cross a Fence" doesn't seem to have made God's top ten list of things to forbid.  It was probably on his mind, as its not a bad rule for helping to keep the peace, but it didn't make his final top ten list.  Of course, for me growing up as a country boy, crossing fences while roaming the area was a pretty normal thing to do.  Glad there weren't snipers in East Tennessee shooting at anyone who got too close to a fence.

But, in terms of trying to create a set of rules by which to exist as a society, "Thou Shall Not Cross A Fence" didn't make the cut against such classics as "Thou Shall Not Steal", and "Thou Shall Not Fuck Thou Neighbor's Wife."

And, there's nothing in the list that says you get to break commandments just because someone else did.  And it especially doesn't say that the "Thou Shall Not Kill" commandment is waived in cases of someone breaking another commandment.  For example, there was no fine print on the stone tablets about how the "Thou Shall Not Kill" provision of Section 3, paragraph A, sub-section i, was null and void upon your neighbor violating the "Thall Shall Not Fuck Thy Neighbor's Wife" provision of Section 4, paragraph A, sub-section i.

Since the Ten Commandments don't seem to allow for the commencement of killing of other people for other serious offenses such as 'Coveting thy neighbor's donkey', then it seems doubtful that God wanted people opening fire with snipers and machine guns because they were violating a commandment that didn't even make God's Top Ten List such as "Thou Shall Not Cross A Fence."

At Least 23 Golan Protesters Killed, 350 Wounded as Israeli Troops Opens Fire

Israeli soldiers attacked protesters along the Syrian border with the occupied Golan Heights today, killing at least 23 protesters and wounding some 350 others. The protesters were marching to commemorate the 44th anniversary of the 1967 invasion of Golan.

Just to show what a strange and surreal place this world is, by and large, the same people who insist on posting the Ten Commandments in public spaces will also be applauding Israel's killing of 23 people. I'm starting to think that I'd agree on letting them post the Ten Commandments if they'd agree to actually read the things for a change.

Sunday, June 5, 2011

And Yet Still More Catastrophe

Update: 20 killed, 360 Injured as Israeli Troops Attack Naksa Protests

On Sunday 20 civilians were killed and 360 injured when Israeli soldiers opened fire at protesters marking Naksa across the West Bank, Gaza Strip, and the Syrian border.

Israel decides its a death penalty offense to walk up unarmed to a border in protest. The US reaction is of course to treat this as a Syrian provocation (the official Israeli line) and defend Israel's right to "defend its borders".

Shooting down unarmed protesters who get near a fence is not a nation "defending its borders". So what if they crossed the border. Contain them and don't let them go anywhere. Since they aren't bringing any truckloads of food and water with them, they'll soon get bored and hungry and thirsty and go home. Just because some unarmed people walk up to a fence in protest is not an excuse for snipers and machine gun wielding infantry to start murdering people.

If you neighbor walks up to your fence, does that give you a right to shoot him? Yet, that's the logic of Israel. Which means its also what our own State Department is trying to peddle in our name as our beliefs.

Israel seems determined to try to keep up with Syria and Libya as to how many protesters they can kill. But, don't hold your breath waiting on a NATO "No-fly Zone" to protect Palestinian protesters. Not all murderous regimes who kill unarmed protesters are treated equally. In this case, the US is paying for the bullets with the billions of military aid we send to Israel. And making solemn statements defending the murder of unarmed protesters as 'defending borders'.