Wednesday, September 9, 2009

Not Clear On the Concept

Saturday, I spent time petitioning at the Illinois State Fair in DuQuoin. The Green Party space was off (way off) the main path. We were near the track where the Motocross and Demolition Derby were held. So we tried to get those on their way to watch vehicles crash to sign the petition.

A surprising number of people claimed that they were registered to vote. Is this possible? Do people so incredibly uninterested in politics actually register to vote? Why bother?

It really didn't matter whether they signed or not. Almost all offered their opinion of the US morass in this way "This country is going socialist".

How is giving public money to capitalists - socialist? This is a clear contradiction. Socialism wants to overthrow capitalism and replace it with a worker owned and run society. I am unable to comprehend how giving billions of dollars to capitalists could possibly be socialist. Somehow, the American people have been convinced that the ownership of the country's wealth by a very small minority is "socialist".

Local schools didn't show Obama's speech because it was, you guessed it, "socialist".

Let's see. He informs the children that it is their responsibility to educate themselves. He informs them that if they fail to work hard and study and go to college, they won't get a job. He informs them that they need to be smart and educated so that the US can prevail over all other countries in the world.

Sounds pretty capitalistic to me! You're on your own, kid. If you fail, you deserve to sleep in the streets. We will use your brainpower and your labor to take over the world, but all you get out of it is a job.

I can't see how Obama could have made it any plainer to kids that they live in a dog eat dog capitalist society, and it is their problem if they can't make it to the top. (Of course, if they understand math, they will know that, by definition, if there is to be a top 1%, there has to be a bottom 99%).

I tip my hat once more to the amazing propaganda masters of the media. They are outstanding in their field!

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Monday, September 7, 2009

Living Outside the Green Zone

Iraqis who live in the Real World try to carry on their everyday lives without knowing if they will survive ordinary ADLs (activities of daily living). Will they be blown away on a trip to the market?

Americans who created the Iraqis living hell live safely in the Green Zone, complete with Subways and Burger Kings.

How about the good ol' USA? Sunnis and Shiites have nothing on us, divided between black and white, native born and immigrant, employed at this time and unemployed. We've had death squads, but we called them the KKK and the Pinkertons, so we don't acknowledge their functions, which were to keep the oppressed in their place.

Friday night my small town had five gunshot wound victims! As the economic victims of the US economy mount, the small time criminals increase. The first guy was robbed of all his money, but shot anyway. This is a breakdown in a transaction. Traditionally, it's been "your money or your life". These small time criminals tried to take both!

The large criminals are breaking the rules. Banks fail and get bailed out instead of filing for bankruptcy. Cheney authorizes torture and goes on national TV to justify it, instead of going to prison for breaking international and national laws. The US invades multiple countries in violation of international law and rakes in the booty, instead of facing World Court prosecution.

So is it any wonder that small time criminals break the rules? Your money and then your life. You don't like it, tough. If Cheney can shoot someone in the face, why can't everyone else?

But the rich who created this living hell for us, live their lives safely in gated communtities, with security guards and armored limousines. They won't be partaking of the blood letting in the streets of America, just like they don't partake of the bloodletting in Iraq or Afhanistan.

Their posh lifestyles and lavish parties will continue, while the dispossessed fight it out on the streets and in the prisons.

It's no fun living outside the Green Zone! Although here, the Subways and Burger Kings are on the outside.

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Thursday, September 3, 2009

Saving Afghan Women

While Obama did bring up in a speech last week, the prospect of dragging Osama out of the dialysis-enabled cave in Afghanistan where he has been living for the last eight years, the main justifications for increasing the attack on Afghanistan have moved beyond that implausible scenario and on to the new one - "saving Afghan women".

This is something that sends me to sputtering rage in record speed. The US, which destroyed the hopes and lives of the progressive people of Afghanistan; by destroying their revolutionary government, bent on improving the lives of all its people, including women; by funding fringe groups of reactionary mullahs in the wilds of Afghanistan, now uses the resulting misery of the women to justify more death and destruction to their country.

Last Friday, we showed the movie, "Afghan Women, A History of Struggle", which gave a succinct and graphic history of the sordid history of American intervention in the hopes and dreams of the Afghan people. It showed scenes from the 70s -the streets of Kabul filled with cheering people waving red flags, women, bareheaded, arguing politics with their male comrades, women teaching other women and children. Then it showed the mullahs, sullen and bearded, soon to be showered with money and arms by the US and the Saudis. It showed Brzezinski and Carter, who started the flow, which increased to a flood with Reagan. It showed the Soviet invasion, the civil war and the fall of the Afghan government in 1992 and the coming of the Northern Alliance, which the women state was the beginning of their loss of rights, not when the Taliban took over in 1996. The Taliban only worsened the women's position. Then the invasion of the US, in 2001. Paper changes were made, but, as we know, women's lives in Afghanistan continue to be horrible.
So here's my point. How can you possibly look at 3o years of intervention on the side of the religious fundamentalists, and 8 years of literal occupation of the country, with women much worse off today than they were in the 70s, and use their oppression as an excuse for more intervention? Is this not illogical on its face?

So, of course I, with my continuing deluded belief in the 18th century ideals of Enlightenment, was sure that if people could see the history for themselves, they would realize that the US was cynically exploiting the conditions that they had helped create in order to further their imperial goals. Surely, anyone who saw the movie would be enlightened and would oppose US military escalation.

I hung flyers and passed out leaflets, and publicized the movie as much as I could. Ironically, one event I attended was a history of the American suffragettes in their own words. Starting in 1776, with Abigail Adams entreating her husband to "remember the ladies", to 1848 and the Seneca Falls Declaration, to the words of the women imprisoned, beaten and forcefed for demonstrating for the right to vote, and talking about the importance of the right to birth control and the right to equal employment,the event was a powerful reminder that American women weren't given the rights that we have by a benevolent government, or by the corporations that run our country. We didn't wear the veil (except for Catholics), but we did wear corsets, and dresses and we weren't allowed to work freely, and if we did, our wages belonged to our husbands, as did our children. It took a couple of hundred years to win women's rights in the US, and I could argue that it wasn't until the corporations realized that they could get two workers in a family for the price of 1.57 that "women's liberation" began to be publicized and heavily promoted.

In any case, people should realize that a woman in a patriarchal society is not better off when her man is killed or imprisoned. Do Americans really believe that killing an Afghan women's husband frees her? Does she then throw off her burka and get a job?

With all my publicity, 2 new women showed up, and one promptly left when she realized there was no air conditioning. We showed the movie. It was very moving.

Then I asked for comments and the new woman asked what I thought should be done, and I said, the US should leave Afghanistan to the Afghans, and she said that "we" had a responibility to "help". She parroted the "Pottery Barn" slogan, we broke it and we should fix it. I pointed out that she was assuming that the role of the US Army is to help and that is not true. It is the armed repressive enforcer of the ruling class. It kills people to make the country safe for profits or pipelines, as Major General Smedley Butler pointed out years ago.

There were other people attending who also firmly believed that the US military could be used as a force for good, and pointing out facts and history did not dissuade them from their beliefs.

I can't tell you how depressing it is to know that this self-selected group of people interested enough to come out to a documentary on a Friday night is still so brainwashed that they believe in American benevolence, even after a long movie documenting the opposite.

Sometimes, I lose hope.

OK. I found another resource debunking the "we have to save the women by destroying them" propaganda.

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Tuesday, September 1, 2009

Corporate Killing - Murder or Sacrifice?

The Christian Taliban in America longs for an official theocracy, based on fundamentalist Christianity, complete with stonings for adulterers and heretics. More inclusive theocrats talk of our "Judeo-Christian heritage". They are partially stymied by the Constitution, that "god damn piece of paper", but not much, since their followers are largely illiterate, reading only the Bible.

Actually, the American religion is not monotheistic. We, like the ancient Greeks and Mayans, worship many gods. What's more, we eagerly sacrifice children to them. Not in open volcanoes. That's barbaric. With lead and mercury, cluster bombs and land mines, sulfur dioxide, herbicides and pesticides, and plain old crushing of small bodies with automobiles.

I went to an EPA meeting to oppose Peabody Coal from opening a new coal fired power plant in Illinois. A health official from Maine was there to plead for the children of Maine, downwind from the proposed plant. I stood up and talked about watching children gasping for breath from the horrible disease of asthma. The assembled unemployed coal miners listened impassively. It was pretty clear that the children of Maine didn't stand a chance next to their own children's need for an income. They were to be sacrificed to the great god Peabody, who wanted to open the plant without pollution decreasers, since pollution decreasers are also profit decreasers.

Americans worship the corporate gods, for we believe that they bring money and goods. We don't sacrifice for rain or good harvests. We sacrifice for "jobs". Wave a corporate promise of opening a factory or big box store in front of city leaders and watch the offerings begin. Tax breaks, free land, citizen monies for utilities and roads leading to said holy sites.

How do a people become so brainwashed? We used to understand that all value came from labor working on the fruits of the earth. We used to understand that the capitalists siphoned wealth from labor, and that there was a class struggle to stop them from taking too much. Now we believe that they provide jobs and we give them communal riches in order that they will allow some money to trickle down upon a few.

It is very clear in the US that killing for money is sanctified. Occasionally you see a headline "Man killed for $3.00". This is understood to be not enough money for murder. It is never stated how much is enough, however. Clearly, the profits of Union Carbide were worth more than the approximately (because not important enough to count) 10,000 Indian lives at Bhopal.

Killing 10,000 Indians or 1,000,000 Iraqis is not even called "murder". So what do you call it? I call it corporate sacrifice.

In 1982, (2 years before Bhopal), seven Americans were killed by a horrible fiend who poisoned some bottles of Tylenol. He was villified in a media firestorm. What kind of horrible less than human would deliberately kill random people? This was incomprehensible! To put out a product that would kill certain people unlucky enough buy it was evil beyond belief.

The same year, it was proposed that there be a warning label on aspirin warning parents that giving children aspirin for fever could lead to Reyes Syndrome. The drug companies were incensed. This could lead to a fall in profits. The Reagan administration put a stop on the proposal.

It is estimated that 1,470 children died in the four years between 1982 and 1986, when the warning label finally was placed on the bottles.

Were those children murdered or sacrificed? If the seven Tylenol victims were murdered, why weren't the one thousand, four hundred and seventy aspirin victims?

My Dad bought a Pinto in the 70s. He drove it for years. No one ever rearended him and he is still alive. He didn't buy any Tylenol either. But the man who poisoned the Tylenol and killed seven people is still considered a monster, while the man who commissioned the Pinto and decided that it was cheaper to pay for the dead victims than to fix the gas tanks is lionized as an American hero. Yes, Lee Iococca, President of Ford Motor Company, who chose to kill hundreds of people for profit, is a hero. Even more ironically, he's a hero because he managed to get the US government to bail out Chrysler! Yes, Americans not only sacrificed tax money to the corporate gods for jobs, they deify the head priest who obtained the blood money!

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