Saturday, February 11, 2012

What the Aftermath of a Violent Revolution Looks Like

“Or Your Lying Eyes…” Truth and Fiction in the News Business by Alexander Cockburn.

Any struggle to overturn established power consists of two phases. The first is the struggle to overthrow that power. In this face, since the established power is strong and established, the only way it can succeed is if all the various opposition groups come together and struggle together. Its a Them aganst Us struggle of everyone trying to work to overturn a strong power that is fighting for its own continued existence.

Then, there's what comes next.

Mr. Cockburn quotes a NYT article as follows ....
“‘Nobody holds back the Misuratans,’ said Jumaa Ageela, an elder there. Bashir Brebesh said the same was true for the militias in Tripoli. On Jan. 19, his 62-year-old father, Omar, a former Libyan diplomat in Paris, was called in for questioning by militiamen from Zintan. The next day, the family found his body at a hospital in Zintan. His nose was broken, as were his ribs. The nails had been pulled from his toes, they said. His skull was fractured, and his body bore signs of burns from cigarettes.

“They’re putting themselves as the policeman, as the judge and as the executioner,’ said Mr. Brebesh, 32, a neurology resident in Canada, who came home after learning of his father’s death. He inhaled deeply. ‘Did they not have enough dignity to just shoot him in the head?’ he asked. ‘It’s so monstrous. Did they enjoy hearing him scream?’

“The government has acknowledged the torture and detentions, but it admits that the police and Justice Ministry are not up to the task of stopping them. On Tuesday, it sent out a text message on cellphones, pleading for the militias to stop.

“‘People are turning up dead in detention at an alarming rate,’ said Peter Bouckaert, the emergencies director at Human Rights Watch, who was compiling evidence in Libya last month. “If this was happening under any Arab dictatorship, there would be an outcry.’”

The one sense I get from history is that it matters how you act during a revolution, and how you achieve your victory in a revolution. If the revolution is a peaceful, non-violent movement for change, then those are the forces that are powerful and respected in the chaotic aftermath of the collapse of the established power. It doesn't guarantee a peaceful and non-violent transition to a stable society in the future. But at least there's a chance it can happen.

On the other hand, if the struggle for change is a violent one, where the most violent and most ruthless of the rebels are the most successful, then these are also the people and groups who are most powerful and if not respected at least feared during the aftermath. And, since they are the ones setting the tune, the chances of a peaceful and non-violent transition to a stable society in the future are pretty much zilch.

On one hand, to achieve real change, what's needed is a mass movement of all opposition groups. But at the same time, it matters how a struggle is conducted, and what examples are set during the struggle. If the day that's remembered is the day that the people came together as a mass and who through their non-violent resistance overthrew a tyrant, then that's what's remembered in the future. That will become the legend.

On the other hand, if the day that's remembered is the day when people with guns fought with the forces of the tyrant, eventually succeeding and overthrowing him/her, then that's what will be remembered. It will be the heroes of that fight, often the most violent, callous and ruthless people, who become the heroes of the new state.. Which means they, and their violence, will likely be calling the tunes in how the new society is created.

Of course, the tyrant also has a say in this. A tyrant like Quaddafy who fights violently and brutally to stay in power, and who fights down to the last breath of the last fool that supports him, tends to force a final violent fight for power in their society, and thus create the sort of aftermath where the most violent and ruthless people who could fight to overthrow him become the creators of the next thing to happen there.

Wednesday, February 8, 2012

Vegas Odds

Want a real poll to tell you what's up in the Presidential elections. One that isn't spun by some media conglomorate or defense contractor or political party or campaign that isn't exactly neutral in the fight? Well, check the Vegas Odds.

Obama ------- 5/9
Romney ------ 17/10
Santorum ---- 15/1
Gingrich ---- 30/1
Paul -------- 50/1

Now, just to be clear, that's what the bookmakers have to put out in order for them to get a spread of money across the choices. But, in that sense, its an honest read on how the American people, or at least those willing to place a bet in Vegas, feel about the Presidential race. The Vegas bookies have to offer about 3.5 times better pay-outs to get people to wager on Romney instead of on Obama. Obama is still the clear favorite to be re-elected.

Tuesday, February 7, 2012

Government of the Rich, By the Rich, and For the Rich.

Of the rich, by the rich, for the rich by

As usual with the socialists, they are outstanding when it comes to identifying the problems we have in our society. But then, when it comes to what to do about it, they are dead wrong.

CALL IT the 1 percent election.

They may feign interest in the lives of ordinary people in their drive to win votes--visiting small-town diners and hobnobbing with the "common man"--but the leading contenders for the Republican nomination rake in enough money every year to rank at the very top of the U.S. income ladder.

And it's not just the Republicans--top Democrats, including Barack Obama, may talk more often about economic fairness, but they certainly don't deny themselves the kind of wealth that the vast majority of Americans won't see in a lifetime.

That's because from top to bottom, both parties in Washington are committed to protecting the wealth and power of America's elite few. And why not? The vast majority of them are a part of it.

Very, very true. A majority of the people in DC are millionaires. So, is it any wonder that they all got together and compromise on issues like extending the Dubya/Obama tax cuts for the rich, or for constantly lowering capital gains taxes, or that in general its the working people of this country that have to pay all the bills.

This provides a stark lesson about capitalism: An entire class of people does no actual work, but still makes fortunes--and it can buy an entire political class to protect and expand its wealth at the expense of workers and the poor.

That's exactly the system we have today. We have a class of people who do zero real work. They don't really have a job, except managing their 'investments' and spending their money. But we have a political system that is so tilted towards money that they dominate it. And of course, its tilted towards money and their domination because they made it that way.

However, this article falls apart on two counts. First is that it completely ignores the Ron Paul campaign. A very typical thing on the left these days, as his campaign isn't very useful for this sort of propaganda. Its the pin that punctures their balloon.

And, the conclusion it makes is that elections don't matter and that no one should bother with elections, and that instead the way to change the world is to go camp in a city park. Wrong!

Abandoning elections just leaves the rich and powerful even more firmly in power. Once they the rich and powerful win the elections that the left seems to want to abandon, they then use their authority as Mayor or Governor to send in the police to break up the campground in the city park. So, while the left will then churn out even more propaganda about how awful this is, they tend to forget or ignore the point that the reason these people were in charge of the police was because the left ran around telling everyone that elections don't matter.

Elections do matter. And there's a very simple path forward through elections. Teach voters that not only do elections matter, but the easy rule to follow for change is simply to stop voting for rich people. And not to vote for the candidates who have lots of the money of rich people backing them. STOP ELECTING THESE PEOPLE. That's the answer.

There's other names on the ballot. Heck, to even create this propaganda piece the socialists had to ignore the Paul campaigns presence on the ballot. Everywhere I've lived, there's usually at least one name on the ballot of someone who isn't rich and who doesn't have millions of rich people's money behind them. Try voting for these people for a change.

In electing Obama, the voters picked a millionaire who was backed by huge amounts of Wall Street and corporate money. In 2008, the money had shifted so completely to Obama that the McCain campaign declared that they'd accept public financing because they weren't able to raise money. The most bizarre political sight I've ever seen was the left, and especially the unions, working so hard to elected a millionaire backed by corporate millions. What a surprise that this didn't bring change. I'm shocked.

Try not voting for rich people sometime. Try voting for people who live in your neighborhood. Or who work the same jobs as you do. If they aren't on the ballot, help put one there. Elections do matter. And elections can be a powerful tool for change in this country. People just need to learn how to use them.

Sunday, February 5, 2012

Orwell's Obama

Obama's Drift Toward War With Iran by David Bromwich

This article is an interesting mix of Democratic propaganda and bs about Obama and a nice analysis of the real situation with Iran. And, in many ways that illustrates the confusion that infects the Democratic left. The problem is that they still have this inherent belief that Obama is the great progressive saint that was the campaign image of the 2008 primaries.

That leads to long discussions about Obama's supposed flaws, of the sort that occupies much of this article. Obama's slow to act, and never jumps ahead of his opponents. Obama has personal flaws that make him less effective as a President.

The president has made no comment on the situation. He has let it heat up for three years now, while the public mind grows swollen with false facts, and while negotiations, to the extent that there are negotiations, proceed under cover and in secret. As if negotiation were a shameful thing. Time does not tell for Obama. He will always have time. That was his philosophy in drawing out the health care debate for twelve months as his popularity sank from 70% to 45%. It was his policy once again, in catastrophically misjudging the odds for an agreement on the debt ceiling. In that affair, Obama hung back. He left it all in the hands of William Daley before sacking Daley and heading out on the campaign trail.

Yet, all of this seems to stem from an inherent mis-understanding about who Obama is politically. Obama is wall street money. Obama is the Israeli lobby. Obama is the pro-war President who during the last general election campaign supported Dubya's drone strikes inside Pakistan, called Afghanistan the right war, and that all along promised an expansion of the Army, the Marines and the Special Forces, as well as of the alphabet soup of competing intelligence agencies. And what the Democratic Left is incapable of understanding is that the real goals of Obama's policy towards Iran are being achieved by what the Democratic Left calls Obama's flaws.

The article does an excellent job of pointing out the real actions that Obama has taken, such as putting a very pro-Israli operative in charge of his policy. Then Obama sits back and says little publicly.

The way to regime change in Iran (so the strategy dictates) must pass through the destruction of the Iranian economy and a mixture of violence and menace to provoke the Iranian government. The Likud and neoconservative hope is simply to reach a point (if possible, before November) where Iran hits out first against the powers that are choking its trade, undermining its industry, assassinating its citizens and serving up serial ultimatums.

Those who read enough history to know the steps America took against Japan in the year or so before Pearl Harbor will find that a very depressingly familiar scenario.

The problem the Democratic Left has is that they fail to fully understand and appreciate the real Obama. They fail to see that Obama was always the candidate of wall street money, vetted and approved by the various 'defense' industries, and also the candidate of the Israeli lobby.
Obama was the candidate who before the 2008 elections supported Dubya's drone strikes into Pakistan, called Afghanistan the 'right war', and promised to spend what money America would have in a collapsing economy on a bigger Army, Marine Corp and Special Forces and increasing defense budgets. This is precisely the electoral coalition that was the backbone of the Obama campaign.

Yet, the Democratic left seem to have an amazing ability to see that Obama. Instead, they head off into tortured descriptions of Obama's personality flaws. Since they still believe the primary campaign image of Obama as a progressive saint, they can't just accept that maybe Obama is actually a rather skilled craftsman who manages to achieve the policies that his backers desire while convincing the Democratic Left that he really wants the opposite to occur.

The Democrats now have their own versions of Orwell's famous contradictions from 1984. Obama is the President who put Wall Street in complete command of the economy by naming their people as the leading economic advisers, but he's still somehow the progressive who's on our side. Obama is the guy who took millions from big health care corporations and then passed a 'reform' bill that made them even richer at our expense, but who is portrayed as a health care reformer. Obama is the guy who's continued the path of Dubya's wars and started many other new wars, but he's still somehow the anti-war President.

Wall Street = Prosperity
Big Corporate Profits = Health
War still equals Peace.

So, thus you hear all the excuses from the Dems about bad tactics and how Obama's personality doesn't let him do what the mythical Obama supposedly wants. Unfortunately, the reality is that Obama is the guy who took millions from all of Dubya's backers in 2008 and who has realiably executed the policies they wanted all along. The reality is that as always the President and his team are some of the best political operatives in the country, and to constantly assume that they are inept and incapable of doing their jobs is to miss the fact that they do their jobs very well in service of the people who paid for the campaigns that put these people in the White House.