Monthly Archives: June 2019

A Quick Note on the Democratic Debates

While I am horrified by the current political situation, I am proud that my participation in Occupy Wall Street, alongside the participation of tens of thousands of other people across the country, has led the emergence of Democratic candidates at all levels of government willing to fight this.
 
The moments being singled out as highlights of the first two Democratic debates for president were entirely unthinkable less than ten years ago. Supporting abolishing private health insurance entirely was considered a “no-go” during the Obama administration, but in the last two nights has emerged as a basic prerequisite to be considered seriously as a Democratic presidential candidate.
Bernie Sanders and Elizabeth Warren deserve all the support we can give them and then some. That said, the groundwork that primed the general public to realize they don’t need to tolerate being treated like shit by the self-appointed masters of the universe happened in Zuccotti and dozens (hundreds?) of other Occupy Wall Street groups who, like myself, sacrificed their time, their sleep, and frequently their future employment prospects to guide the US away from the precipice of oligarchic fascism.
 
Alexandria Ocasio Cortez would not be the trailblazing progressive celebrity she is now if we all hadn’t spent months living in public/mixed-use parks educating the public that the rich and their sycophants were in the process of eating us all alive. She has used the platform she’s been given to tremendous effect and she refuses to back down when the truth is threatened. The migrant detention facilities ARE concentration camps.
 
Meanwhile, the old guard of the Democrats are promising a substanceless “return to the past” not that far from what Trump was selling. If we get a Biden presidency where Biden decides to ignore GOP obstruction/fascism tactics to play to optics about us all “getting along”, then Mitch McConnell is still effectively the POTUS.
 
Obama did this repeatedly, rolling over whenever McConnell whined enough, first on single-payer in the ACA negotiations and then by deciding not to inform the public about Russian election interference until it was too late. Governance by “When they go low, we roll over.”
 
The result? Obama is now watching his political legacy burn to the ground. The Dem party constituents no longer buy the idea that we need to make constant concessions to the GOP just because they’re there and have the backing of racist rich people and corporations. The ACA will probably get mangled. His protections for National Parks were unilaterally thrown out the window. His buddy buddy, former “Diamond” Joe, is being outed as a racist, sexist, and extremely ineffective legislator by other 2020 candidates.
Unlike “Diamond” Joe, they recognize we’re in a crisis situation that calls for strong and aggressive leadership from the left.

Times They Are A-Changin’…in Roselle

Terrific Article about my Hometown of Roselle, New Jersey. Abraham Clark, who sighed the Declaration of Independence, isn’t exactly a household name, but is a fascinating character nonetheless. An “anti-Federalist” and a “people’s lawyer” you might do worse than thinking of him as the closet thing the Founding Fathers had to William Kunstler.

clarkegrizzer

Growing up in a post-war cookie-cutter housing development so typical of 1970’s suburban New Jersey, I would often “garbage-pick” old bicycles, or parts thereof, and construct functioning machines that while not quite as aesthetic as my friends’ new Schwinn Stingrays or Orange Krates, nonetheless afforded me my single most important means of independence. My teenage friends and I would pedal our bikes to the extremes of our neighborhood, continuously expanding those limits with each passing summer until finally earning our drivers licenses on our seventeenth birthdays. For many years, North Wood Avenue, a heavily trafficked street just four-blocks west of my house, served as one of our unofficial boundaries, as that avenue formed the border between my hometown of Linden and the neighboring Borough of Roselle. Since crossing the traffic on a bicycle could be dangerous, and since the other side was a different town populated by different kids who…

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FBI agent accidentally reveals own 8chan posts; attempts to redirect white supremacist rage against Russia

The FBI promotes Russiaphobic conspiracy theories on 8Chan? I’m shocked.

Current Events Inquiry

The unsealing of an application for a search warrant by the federal government on 8chan’s servers has unintentionally revealed that a federal agent has been trolling the site and attempting to redirect the users’ conspiracy theories against the Russian government instead of the CIA or Mossad.

The legal case stems from the April 27th shooting at a California synagogue by white supremacist and 8chan user John Earnest. The day of the shooting, Earnest is believed to have posted to 8chan a link to an anti-Semitic Pastebin manifesto and a not-so-cryptic suggestion that he was about to commit a murderous act of violence to back up his beliefs. In the accompanying affidavit to the search warrant application, FBI Special Agent Michael J. Rod requests the “IP address and metadata information about Earnest’s original posting and the postings of all of the individuals who responded to the subject posting and/or commented about…

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A Bit Too Close to Home

Ever since the Sandy Hook Massacre I’ve followed mass shootings in the news with a mixture of three emotions: horror, disgust, and relief. The horror needs no explanation. The disgust I feel is about the Second Amendment and gun fetishists who always seem more concerned about “muh guns and muh freedom” than about the victims, even if the victims are innocent grade school kids. But horror and disgust inevitably give way to relief. I live in New Jersey, a state with a high level of education, and, as a consequence, strong gun control laws, not some hell hole in the South or the Midwest. Yeah. We may have elected Chris Christie governor, twice, but at least we’re smart enough not to let our citizens stockpile military grade weapons.  Mass shootings  don’t happen here. That’s what makes this story so disturbing. This is quite literally down the block from where I live.

A 46-year-old Delaware man was arrested at an elementary school parking lot in Westfield on Thursday after being found in his SUV with a loaded gun and additional ammunition, officials said.

Wilkie was holding a .45-caliber handgun loaded with hollow-point bullets, authorities said. He also had two more loaded magazines of ammunition in his possession while 130 additional rounds were in the vehicle’s trunk.

Westfield police learned the man, identified as Thomas J. Wilkie, was at the Tamaques School after getting a tip from New Castle County cops in Delaware just before 4 p.m., the Union County Prosecutor’s Office said. Officers took Wilkie into custody and searched the school, which was placed under lockdown with after school activities taking place.

https://www.nj.com/news/2019/06/delaware-man-found-with-loaded-gun-100-rounds-of-ammo-in-nj-elementary-school-parking-lot.html

Fortunately his brother tipped off the cops. Also, he doesn’t seem to have made any moves to bring his guns into the school, where his ex-girlfriend teaches. For all anybody knows he could simply be a moron who likes driving around with an arsenal in his trunk, not a potential mass murderer. But the one thing most mass shooters have in common is violence towards women. They come in all colors and religions, but they’re almost always domestic abusers. So the fact that he drove all the way up to northern New Jersey from Delaware with a 45 automatic and a trunk full of hollow points is not a good sign.

The father of the Delaware man arrested outside a Westfield school Thursday, who police say had a handgun and more than 100 bullets, said his son may have traveled there to see a former or current girlfriend. He also said another of his sons called police Thursday about the brother.

https://www.nj.com/union/2019/06/dad-of-man-arrested-with-gun-ammo-at-nj-school-heard-son-was-there-to-see-girlfriend-or-ex-and-brother-called-police.html

I sometimes remark that the first time I knew Trump was going to win the election was back in October of 2016, when I cycled across Massachusetts and noticed that ever other house in the Berkshires seemed to have either a Ron Paul or a Trump/Pence sign out front. If Trump was that popular in Pittsfield and Springfield, I imagined, what was going on in Birmingham Alabama. But looking back at 2012, I should have realized that the moment that the history books will record that we made the inevitable slide into fascism was December of 2012, and the right-wing’s use of the Sandy Hook Massacre as propaganda, the conspiracy theories about that horrific event being a set up by Barack Obama to “take muh guns and muh freedom,” the gaslighting in the media about whether or not it meant we needed gun control. Of course we did. Of course we do.

What’s more, after the callous attitude so many conservatives showed towards white grade school kids in Connecticut, is it really any surprise that it would all end up with a white supremacist President locking up Central American families in concentration camps along the border? Sandy Hook will go down as a central event in American history. Fortunately, the alert brother and father of a potential mass shooter prevented us from having a sequel right here in New Jersey.

Mike Pompeo Threatens to Intervene in British Democracy to Stop Corbyn Becoming Prime Minister

I suppose this is OK because it’s not the Russians.

Counter Information

Global Research, June 10, 2019

US Secretary for State Mike Pompeo has come under fire after a recording emerged of him saying he’d intervene to stop Labour Party leader Jeremy Corbyn becoming Prime Minister. In the recording first reported by the Washington Post, Pompeo suggests he won’t wait for Corbyn to be elected, rather he’ll attempt to stop it from being possible.

The off the record meeting was from when The Secretary for State met Jewish leaders to discuss Donald Trump’s proposed Peace Deal between Palestine and Israel.

Apart from appearing un-optimistic about the Peace Deal, he found time to comment on UK politics. When asked by an attendee;

if Corbyn “is elected, would you be willing to work with us to take on actions if life becomes very difficult for Jews in the U.K.?”

Pompeo gives a very clear response. Considering the allegations…

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Japanese Incels

The man who went on a “mass stabbing” last week and killed two people — fortunately the Japanese are smart enough to have gun control — is also a “hikikomori,” an adult so unable to cope with society that he’s remained dependent on his parents well into his 20s and 30s, and even his 40s and 50s. While the New York Times writer doesn’t directly attribute the condition to the Japanese economy or to Japanese culture, she does note that there is a correlation between a long-lasting recession, and a large population of adults who simply can’t cope with society.

I’m not exactly a “hikikomori” but I do identify with the condition. I’ve always had a hard time dealing with society. I’m in my 50s and unmarried. I’ve never had much of a career or social life. In the United States we largely take a moralistic view of the “hikikomori.” Men, especially young men, who can’t socialize with women are just bad people. They’re just sexist assholes. They should stop playing video games. They should just go out and get a job. On the flip side, a lot of radicals take an overly economistic view of the problem. The long term recession in the United State and the economic redistribution of wealth upward spurred on by neoliberalism has created a whole generation with no prospect of getting a real job or establishing a family. People struggling under massive student debt are unlikely to buy a house or get married any time soon. Some will just give up.

Personally, I think it’s both. If I had been part of my grandparents generation, I would have been far too concerned about struggling to make a living to worry about my social problems. If I had been part of my parents generation, I the rising tide would have lifted all boats, mine included, and my “white privilege” would have made it almost impossible not to joined the middle class. But as an early Gen Xer, I grew up with neoliberalism and the destruction of New Deal America. Our society has gone from one with a broad middle and upper working class to one that puts the upper middle class and the very wealthy up on a pedestal and consigns everybody else to social oblivion. Most people will work though it and do the best they can. But some people, people who were the victims of childhood bullying and abuse or people on the autism spectrum, will simply give up. In Japan, there’s enough wealth and enough of a structured civil society to give these people their old bedrooms to hide in. In the United States, they kill themselves with prescription opiates or wind up in prison. But in the end, it’s pretty much the same.

Congressman Thomas Malinowski in Cranford, New Jersey

Click that little icon up on the left hand corner for the entire playlist. I had to break these videos up into five parts to stay under YouTube’s 15 minute limit.

Thomas Malinowski and the Seventh Congressional District of New Jersey represent many of the contradictions of the Democratic Party and American liberalism. The Seventh District of New Jersey is a wealthy, gerrymandered district that stretches from urban Westfield/Cranford (both part of the New York Metropolitan area) all the way out to the Delaware River and Eastern Pennsylvania. It’s always been a competitive district, but until 2018, when Malinowski won a very narrow victory against Republican Leonard Lance, the Democrats had been unable to flip the seat. To the east are Elizabeth and Newark. To the west are the blue collar and traditionally Democratic areas of Eastern Pennsylvania that Hillary couldn’t hold in 2016. Basically, the Seventh District of New Jersey is made up of the rich white people between the “white working class” of Scranton, Easton, and Allentown, and the black and immigrant population of Newark and Elizabeth. It’s “liberal” but only to a point

So what do I mean “liberal but only to a point?” There were no people of color of any kind at the meeting. It was the whitest crowd I’ve ever been a part of. Even though person after person at the meeting talked about defending Central American refugees against Trump, the current hot political topic in Cranford is keeping “high-density housing” (dog whistle for “black people”) from being built in a now vacant office park on the eastern side of town. Everybody gave lip service to supporting single payer, but nobody seemed to be willing to fully commit to fighting for it. As of this point, Thomas Malinowski is the only member of the New Jersey Congressional delegation to come out in favor of impeaching Donald Trump, and yet he’s a Nancy Pelosi loyalist unlikely to challenge the leadership of the Democratic Party that’s blocking the impeachment resolution he claims to support. He states that moving to a single payer system would eliminate most of our deficit. Yet he’s unwilling to come out firmly in support of of “Medicare for all” because a.) he believes the health care system is to entrenched and complex to change and b.) he believes “as Americans we prefer choice.” Therefore, instead of “Medicare for all” he supports “Medicare for all who want it.” And so on.

The overwhelming impression I got of Malinowski, a former Undersecretary of State under Barack Obama, is that he’s basically a clone of his boss. Even though he jumped up on  a table like Beto O’Rourke, everything about his speech and style of delivery reminded me of the 44th President of the United States, and I don’t mean this as a compliment. In another time, in the 1950s, for example, Obama might have been a great President. But in 2008 we really needed a Franklin Roosevelt or dare I say a Bernie Sanders. Now more than ever we need a partisan leftist who will fight not only the Republican right but the entrenched Democratic Party establishment. Malinowski, while articulate and likeable, is not that man. In fact there was a point during his presentation I was so bored I half wanted Joe Biden to jump out from behind a table and sniff my hair.

Tulsi Gabbard Outs Herself as a Neoconservative

gabbard

John Walker Lindh is not exactly a hero of mine, but he’s no threat. He’s done his time. He should go free, and not have to put up with anything so totalitarian as “round the clock surveillance.” Jesus Tulsi, 1984 was a warning, not an instruction manual. Gabbard seems to believe in either life in prison or the death penalty for anybody convicted of anything related to Islamic terrorism. Up until now she’s cleverly masked her neoconservative, Islamophobic ideology, but here she’s outed herself. I apologize to all of her critics I was dumb enough to defend her against.