Showing posts with label barack obama. Show all posts
Showing posts with label barack obama. Show all posts

Monday, February 27, 2023

"The Times Are Out Of Joint"- I Am Already Tired, Heartily Tired, Of The Obamiad


Well, never let it be said that this blogger doesn’t give everyone his or her “fifteen minutes of fame”, as the late Andy Warhol is said to have put it. That goes for the lowliest worker to the American imperial president. With the exception of the very pressing issue of the fight against the Obama Afghan war policy, both as to troop escalation and funding, this writer has held off from in-depth comment about the new regime. However, ever since the dust has settle on the last Inaugural ball, if not before then I have had this aching feeling that something is not right here. As the headline to this entry says- “the times are out of joint”.

Readers of this space are aware that the fundamental political axis that drives the commentary here is an oppositional anti-capitalist perspective. Thus, last fall, during the lead up to the November 2008 presidential elections I called for a NO vote for Obama, McCain, Nader (Independent) or McKinney (Green). However, Obama’s victory led me to a ‘feeling’ that a new wind was blowing in the American political universe that, sooner or later would, accrue to the benefit of leftist militants. I encapsulated that ‘feeling’ in the slogan, somewhat jokingly- "After Obama, Us". The truth of that slogan right now is neither here nor there for what concerns me is that right from the Inaugural Address this Obama ship has been listing, badly. I came of political age with John F. Kennedy’s Inaugural Address with its soaring rhetoric and call to the “better angels of our nature” in modern times. Although I long ago, as I have detailed elsewhere in this space over the past year or so, gave up on the Democratic Party as a vehicle for social change that speech still stands as a benchmark for bourgeois political rhetoric.

And this is not merely some nostalgia for the good old days (that did not exist, in any case). Nor is it a rebuke at the new technologies that have created the Obama aura or changed the nature of the way bourgeois electoral politics are practiced here. What bothers me is rather those continuing pictures from places like New Orleans, Detroit or other “Rust Belt” cities where formerly employed, mainly black, workers are lining up for charity, or in order to fight ‘pursue’ minimum wage careers as places like Wal-Mart. Or the continuing occupation of the black ghettos by hostile police forces prone to shoot first and ask questions later, as recent headlines have made apparent in places like Oakland, California . The outlines of that alleged “post-racial” society that was supposed to be ushered in by Obama are beginning to look very thin on the ground.

On another front we can all have a good laugh over the arrogance of the muffed Cabinet choices, grind our teeth at Obama’s emphasis of the forces that are to benefit form his stimulus package and rage at the misplaced mechanics of the financial bail-out plans that continue to reward those finance capitalists who got us into this fix in the first place. All of the above have given me a very different ‘feeling’ from that of last fall that Obama and his cohorts are in way over their heads. Only in comparison with the out-going Bush regime do they look good. That, my friends, is a very low bar to cross. All of this makes me think that we may not have the luxury of that “After Obama, Us” slogan. We had best get to that task of building a workers party that fights for a workers government. Pronto.

Monday, October 15, 2018

For Bob Dylan *The Long Ago It Seems “Age Of Obama” Talkin’ Blues-

Click On Title To Link To Erato (Greek Muse Of Poetry, although she may be blushing) Wikipedia entry.

The “Age Of Obama” Talkin’ Blues

I don’t know if the music of this message comes out the same on the page as the music in my head as I write it but I send my thanks to Mr. Woody Guthrie who made an art form out of the talking blues, and to Mr. Bob Dylan for continuing the tradition.

A Talkin’ Blues, Of Sorts

I’ve got the blues, and I’ve got ‘em bad.
I’m out here ramblin’, scamblin’ and far from home.
Not from the wood and brick shelter that has never failed to provide some sustenance in good weathers, or bad.
Nah, not that home.
No, I’m talking about being far from my American home that I have long loved.
And, at times, had to hate.
The home that I have fought to change since my youth.
To fight for that social utopia that always seemed to be just over the next mountain.
The one that our forebears long ago fought to create by a revolution and preserve by civil war.
And that we now need to update.
Yes, that one.
Today, though, I feel like an exile on Main Street.
And I’m starting to feel a hating spell coming on.
I am adrift in the Age of Obama.

Strange, not that long ago I thought I smelled a sweet, fresh wind drifting across the political oceans.
Hell, it seems like just yesterday that it cooled my brow after some forty or so years of being out in the wilderness condition.
That was sure a strong little breeze that I had not felt since my youth back in the days of the fight for “new frontiers” and the times of “seeking newer worlds”.
I thought, at last, I was finished with my exile on Main Street.
But, damn.
I am adrift in the Age of Obama.

Back then I never got tired of saying, to all who would listen, that this breeze that went by the name of “Hurricane Obama”.
It swamped all before it and although I knew it was not the breeze that would lift all boats it was the one that would bring the next breeze that would.
I kept my own heart still easily enough because I knew that this was not, after all, my breeze.
But the people I wanted to reach, the ones that will create that social utopia that I have longed dreamed of, did have their hearts fluttering.
And, despite the mounting evidence to the contrary, still like what they see in Washington.
As for me though,
I am adrift in the Age of Obama.

That was then and this is now.
Now we are saddled with Obama- sized wars, “good wars” we are told in the Af-Pak (or is it Pak-Af?) theater where more money, materials and manpower are going down the drain.
I need hardly mention the “bad war” in Iraq.
To even speak of that little mess in this Age is so very passé among those in the know.
It is no longer mentioned in polite society.
Yet again we are being asked to pay the piper for the errant dreams of the American imperium.
And a compliant, complaisant so-called anti-war Congress is ready to grease the skids.
When the right answer, just like when a sated kid asks for more, is to “just say no”.
I am ready to scream to high heaven against these war budgets.
No, there is now no question now.
I am adrift in the Age of Obama.

And there is more smoke and mirrors.
This regime is fully committed, and gladly, to putting major triage on the moribund capitalist system that got us into this current mess in the first place.
We are told that somehow if capitalism fails the very low bar stress tests imposed on it then all of us will go to hell in a hand basket.
I say, rather, if your system failed then move on over and give the rest of us a chance to breathe. Let our dreams get an airing.
But the Commander-in- Chief of the American enterprise and his cronies don’t get it.
And so I need not wonder about the why.
I am adrift in the Age of Obama.

Day by day it becomes clearer that the people in charge are clueless about what to really do on the pressing needs of the day.
Healthcare proposals that will not produce health.
Education that does not educate.
Jobs that are not jobs but makeshift.
Hopes tied in ribbons that turn out be merely press releases.
And the elephant in the room.
Black faces in high places or not,
Blacks and Latinos are still at the back of the bus.
This is the age of the technocrat, the bureaucrat and the chattering class.
Tomorrow they say.
After this, that or the other thing is done, they say.
And then tomorrow, tomorrow.
I may be alone today confronted with this agenda.
I am adrift in the Age of Obama.

Know this though:
the blow back is coming.
Substance will out over style.
Here is the real deal.
A man like Malcolm X spoke more “truth to power” in one day than Obama ever did in his whole sorry life.
I am embarrassed to even mention their names on the same page.
Yet there is hope.
I see some small signs even now.
People are starting to wake up, just a little, to their still empty wallets,
to their very much here today-gone tomorrow jobs,
to their constant struggle to keep a roof, any roof, over their heads and
… to question the why of their shattered dreams.
If I was wrong to think that last year’s breeze was the breeze of my youth, damn, I do not want what is happening now to be the breeze of my old age.
Hell, I am ready to fight for that next new breeze right now.
Then I will not be adrift in the Age of Obama.

Today, though, I’ve got the blues, and I’ve got ‘em bad. 

Once Again Haunted By The Question Of Questions-Who Represented The “Voice” Of The Generation Of ’68 When The Deal Went Down-And No It Was Not One Richard Millstone, Oops, Milhous Nixon

By Seth Garth

I have been haunted recently by various references to events in the early 1960s brought to mind by either seeing or hearing those references. First came one out of the blue when I was in Washington, D.C. on other business and I popped in as is my wont to the National Gallery of Art to get an “art bump” after fighting the dearies at the tail-end of the conference that I was attending. I usually enter on the 7th Street entrance to see what they have new on display on the Ground Floor exhibition areas. This time there was a small exhibit concerning the victims of Birmingham Sunday, 1963 the murder by bombing of a well-known black freedom church in that town and the death of four innocent young black girls and injuries to others. The show itself was a “what if” by a photographer who presented photos of what those young people might have looked like had they not had their precious lives stolen from them by some racist KKK-drenched bastards who never really did get the justice they deserved. The catch here, the impact on me, was these murders and another very disturbing viewing on television at the time, in black and white, of the Birmingham police unleashing dogs, firing water hoses and using the ubiquitous police billy-clubs to beat down on peaceful mostly black youth protesting against the pervasive Mister James Crow system which deprived them of their civil rights.
Those events galvanized me into action from seemingly out of nowhere. At the time I was in high school, in an all-white high school in my growing up town of North Adamsville south of Boston. (That “all white” no mistake despite the nearness to urban Boston since a recent look at the yearbook for my class showed exactly zero blacks out of a class of 515. The nearest we got to a black person was a young immigrant from Lebanon who was a Christian though and was not particularly dark. She, to my surprise, had been a cheer-leader and well-liked). I should also confess, for those who don’t know not having read about a dozen articles  I have done over the past few years in this space, that my “corner boys,” the Irish mostly with a sprinkling of Italians reflecting the two major ethic groups in the town I hung around with then never could figure out why I was so concerned about black people down South when we were living hand to mouth up North. (The vagaries of time have softened some things among them for example nobody uses the “n” word which needs no explanation which was the “term of art” in reference to black people then to not prettify what this crowd was about.)
In many ways I think I only survived by the good graces of Scribe who everybody deferred to on social matters. Not for any heroic purpose but because Scribe was the key to intelligence about what girls were interested in what guys, who was “going” steady, etc. a human grapevine who nobody crossed without suffering exile. What was “heroic” if that can be used in this context was that as a result of those Birmingham images back then I travelled over to the NAACP office on Massachusetts Avenue in Boston to offer my meager services in the civil rights struggle and headed south to deadly North Carolina one summer on a voting drive. I was scared but that was that. My guys never knew that was where I went until many years later long after we had all gotten a better gripe via the U.S. Army and other situations on the question of race and were amazed that I had done that.         
The other recent occurrence that has added fuel to the fire was a segment on NPR’s Morning Edition where they deal with aspects of what amounts to the American Songbook. The segment dealt with the generational influence of folk-singer songwriter Bob Dylan’s The Times They Are A-Changin’ as an anthem for our generation (and its revival of late in newer social movements like the kids getting serious about gun control). No question for those who came of political age early in the 1960s before all hell broke loose this was a definitive summing up song for those of us who were seeking what Bobby Kennedy would later quoting a line of poetry from Alfred Lord Tennyson call “seeking a newer world.” In one song was summed up what we thought about obtuse indifferent authority figures, the status quo, our clueless parents, the social struggles that were defining us and a certain hurried-ness to get to wherever we thought we were going.
I mentioned in that previous commentary that given his subsequent trajectory while Bob Dylan may have wanted to be the reincarnation Plus of Woody Guthrie (which by his long life he can rightly claim) whether he wanted to be, could be, the voice of the Generation of ’68 was problematic. What drove me, is driving me a little crazy is who or what some fifty plus years after all the explosions represented the best of what we had started out to achieve (and were essentially militarily defeated by the ensuing reaction before we could achieve most of it) in those lonely high school halls and college dormitories staying up late at night worrying about the world and our place in the sun.
For a long time, probably far longer than was sensible I believed that it was somebody like Jim Morrison, shaman-like leader of the Doors, who came out of the West Coast winds and headed to our heads in the East. Not Dylan, although he was harbinger of what was to come later in the decade as rock reassembled itself in new garb after some vanilla music hiatus but somebody who embodied the new sensibility that Dylan had unleashed. The real nut though was that I, and not me alone, and not my communal brethren alone either, was the idea that we possessed again probably way past it use by date was that “music was the revolution” by that meaning nothing but the general lifestyle changes through the decade so that the combination of “dropping out” of nine to five society, dope in its many manifestations, kindnesses, good thought and the rapidly evolving music would carry us over the finish line. Guys like Josh Breslin and the late Pete Markin, hard political guys as well as rabid music lovers and dopers, used to laugh at me when I even mentioned that I was held in that sway especially when ebb tide of the counter-cultural movement hit in Nixon times and the bastinado was as likely to be our home as the new Garden. Still Jim Morrison as the “new man” (new human in today speak) made a lot of sense to me although when he fell down like many others to the lure of the dope I started reappraising some of my ideas -worried about that bastinado fate.  

So I’ll be damned right now if I could tell you that we had such a voice, and maybe that was the problem, or a problem which has left us some fifty years later without a good answer. Which only means for others to chime in with their thoughts on this matter.         

Sunday, March 13, 2016

*From The Archives- Why I Will Not Be A United States Presidential Candidate In 2012...Or 2016

Click on title to link to Spartacist No. 61 Spring 2009,a publication of the International Communist League, for a very full discussion about the question of running for executive offices in the capitalist state, "Marxist Principles and Electoral Tactics", that forms the backdrop to my commentary.

Media Flash: A. F. Markin, long time anti-capitalist, pro-socialist militant and creator of the blog “American Left History”, has announced today that under no conditions will he be a candidate for President of the United States in 2012. Paraphrasing the great 19th century Northern Civil War general, William Tecumseh Sherman, Markin stated that 'if drafted he will not run and if elected he would not serve' in that post. He, however, did not rule out the possibility of running for some legislative office like the United States Senate or House of Representatives.


I know that the long suffering readers of this blog have been waiting breathlessly for me to announce my intentions for the presidential campaign of 2012. Wait a minute! What kind of madness is this on my part to impose on readers who I am sure are still recovering from the shell-shock of that seemingly endless and mendacious 2008 presidential campaign. Well… Okay, as usual I want to, for good or ill, make a little point about running for the executive offices of the bourgeois state now that I have gotten ‘religion’ about the necessary of radicals and revolutionaries NOT to do so. I think this point can really be driven home today now that we have a ‘progressive’ Democratic president, one Barack Obama, as a foil.

I have detailed the controversy and checkered history in the international workers movement, and especially in the Communist International in its heroic days in the early 1920's, surrounding the question of whether radicals and revolutionaries, on principle, should run for these executive offices of the bourgeois state. I need not repeat that argument here. (See June 2008 Archives, "If Drafted I Will Not Run, If Elected I Will Not Serve-Revolutionaries and Running For Executive Offices", dated June 15, 2008). I have also noted there the trajectory of my own conversion to the position of opposition to such runs. Previously I had seen such electoral efforts as good propaganda tools and/or basically harmless attempts to intersect political reality at times when the electorate is tuned in. Always under the assumption made clear during the campaign that, of course, if elected one would not assume the office.

In any case, I admit to a previously rather cavalier attitude toward the whole question, even as I began to see the wisdom of opposition. But having gone through the recent presidential campaign and, more importantly, the inauguration and installation of a ‘progressive’ black man to the highest office attainable under the imperium I have begun to wipe that smirk off my face.

Why? I have hardly been unaware throughout my leftist political career that Social Democratic and Communist (Stalinist/Maoist varieties especially) Party politicians have, individually or in popular front alliances with capitalist parties, wreaked havoc on working people while administrating the bourgeois state. I have, in particular, spent a good part of my political career fighting against the notion of popular front strategies as they have been forged in the past, disastrously in places like Spain during the Civil War in the 1930’s or less disastrously in France in the 1980’s. However, this question of the realities of running the imperial state in America really hit home with the coming into office of Barack Obama.

Certainly, Obama did not have, and in the course of such things could not have any qualms about administering the bourgeois state, even if such toilsome work contradicted his most basic principles. Assuming, for the sake of argument here, that Obama is not the worst bourgeois politician, progressive or not, that has come down the pike. Already, in a few short weeks in office, he has escalated the troop levels in Afghanistan. He is most earnestly committed to bailing out the financial heart of the imperial system, at the long term expense of working people. Where is the room for that vaunted ‘progressive’ designation in all of this? Oh yes he has is against torture and illegal torture centers. That, dear readers might have passed for progressive action- in the 17th century. Jesus, is there no end to this madness in taking grandstanding kudos for stuff that Voltaire would have dismissed out of hand. So the next time someone asks you to run for President of the United States (or governor of a state or mayor of a city)take the Markin pledge - Just say NO!

Thursday, October 11, 2012

Who Is Barack Obama?

The World Can't Wait
Stop the Crimes of Your Government
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Funds Urgently Needed NOW to Publish Anti-NDAA Statement

If you haven’t donated already, your contribution is needed now to publish the ad for the “Call to Stand Together to Oppose the Obama Administration’s Assault on Fundamental Rights.” $4,000 is needed by this Thursday to secure a full-page ad (the entire back cover) in The Nation. The ad would appear at the end of October.

Publishing the Call now is crucial. Far too few understand that the NDAA is an assault on basic rights or that it’s now in full effect! The ad is crucial in reaching many more people to sound the alarm and affirm the principle that we must stand together in resisting repression.

Again, if you haven’t donated already,
click here now! Reach out to others and encourage them to donate.
Dear ,

Dennis Loo writes:
As Rebecca Solnit put it in admonishing the Left to support Obama’s re-election: Obama may be killing innocent children abroad, but that’s not new for American presidents (!!), and Obama at least is promoting health care in ways that Mitt Romney wouldn’t.

In other words, even if the Democrats and the Republicans are not distinguishable in terms of foreign policy, at least with the Democrats you get more humane domestic policies.These supposed differences in domestic policies between the two parties are taken for granted as conventional wisdom, but upon closer examination a very different picture emerges.

Continue reading:
Who is Barack Obama Really? An Examination of Obama’s Domestic Policies

Protesting Obama's Wars this Past Weekend

From the speech by Stephanie Tang for the San Francisco rally against the war in Afghanistan:

Yesterday I was at a high school with a young army vet on the We Are Not Your Soldiers Tour. We spoke in 3 classes, telling the students the truth about America’s wars.

These students were between 4 and 6 years old the day the U.S. attacked Afghanistan. Now they see military recruiters prowling their campuses because the empire needs them to fight, kill, and die for it. I am outraged - Are you?

We here know the story of these 11 years. How Bush launched illegal illegitimate war in Iraq/Afghanistan. How Obama’s expanded those wars into 3 more countries.

In Pakistan, 45 drone bombings during the entire Bush Regime. During Obama’s first year alone he sent 51 – and he’s now up to 284 in Pakistan alone.

Afghan casualties are higher now than at any other time since the invasion. Special Forces, military operations that terrorize those they don’t kill, night raids, the ongoing use of torture, and mythology spun by the mass media to make the public think all this is OK.

Obama himself has declared this will continue for at least another ten years. This is happening in our names. Are you for this or against it?Continue reading...

News coverage from San Francisco, where activists have been conducting We Are Not Your Soldiers presentations in schools, protested the war this past weekend, and interacted with thousands of Obama supporters lined up for a fundraiser on Monday:
Protesters gather in Civic Center Plaza for Obama fundraiser (KTVU)Obama pursues base, bucks in California (SFGate)
Evening News (
Pacifica Radio)
Protesters Gather Outside Obama Fundraiser (SF Appeal)
More photos

Photos from
Times Square NYC, where we gathered with a replica drone, shoes symbolizing the countless civilians being killed, and chalk for passersby to contribute their messages:
In Chicago, protesters had a die-in in Tribune Plaza amidst the crowds downtown for the marathon. They then marched on Obama's campaign HQ where they chanted "Obama, Romney, all the same, no more war crimes in our name!"
Meanwhile, in Pakistan, anti-war activists from the U.S. joined a march of thousands against US drones in the tribal areas, drawing further attention to this hidden—and bipartisan—terror inflicted on the people of the region. Read Kevin Gosztola's report, Peace March Against Drones in Pakistan Ends with Rally After Convoy Stopped by Army:

To show solidarity with the people of Waziristan in Pakistan, who have experienced and been victims of US drone strikes, thousands of Pakistanis marched in the Federally Administered Tribal Areas (FATA). Pakistan Tehrik-i-Insaf (PTI) chief Imran Khan led the march. Thirty-one American peace activists affiliated with CODEPINK participated in the march as well.

The motorcade, which left Islamabad on October 6, took a route that ended in Dera Ismail Khan (DIK) on the first day. There was a rally in DIK at the end of this phase of the march. Then, on October 7, the motorcade continued onward and passed through Tank, a city nearby Waziristan, where tens of thousands of people met the march as it arrived.

October 16: Stop the U.S. Drone Wars Protest @ Presidential Debate

As Barack Obama and Mitt Romney debate foreign policy at Hofstra University, we will be outside with Reaper drone replicas. More information: 866-973-4463. Also sponsored by
More Protest in Upstate New York:
Read the press release from Upstate Drone Action about their recent action at the Hancock Air Base.

Join the conference call with Gregory Koger

On the phone Thursday October 11
10pm Eastern / 7pm Pacific

Gregory Koger, activist and videographer from Chicago will join us for a special conversation on his case, his activism as a former prisoner struggling against all forms of injustice, and the "criminal justice" system which has cruelly persecuted him for years now. Find out more about his conviction and add your support to a statement which will be delivered to Cook County officials very soon. We look forward to hearing directly from this dedicated and principled human being, who has said,

"...outrages happened in a political prosecution in my case, but they happen on a daily basis to millions of people herded through the courts into the United States’ historically unprecedented system of mass incarceration. Our struggle to defeat these charges has been a small part of the broader struggle against this oppressive system that inflicts monumental suffering on the people, here and around the world."
Debra Sweet, Director, The World Can't Wait
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Wednesday, April 07, 2010

Sunday, April 04, 2010

*The Latest From The "Progressive Democrats Of America" Website

Click on the headline to link to the "Progressive Democrats Of America" Website.

Markin comment:

This internal "left" grouping within one of the two main imperial governing parties is a "bell weather" these days on the Obama presidency. Right now this recently passed, totally inadequate and, frankly, ugly heath care legislation has them back on the Obama team. The little "dust up " over the imperial war budget and Obama troop escalation in Afghanistan which had them screaming in the night a while back are on hold. Compare this slogan though to what passes for "progressive" health care legislation just enacted- Free, quality health care for all! Socialism, yes. Necessary, yes. Case closed.

Thursday, January 21, 2010

*From The "SteveLendmanBlog"- On The Massachusetts U.S. Senate Election Results

Click on the title to link to a "Steven Lendman Blog" entry that deals with the fall out from the recent special election in Massachusetts to fill the unexpired term of the late Democratic Senator, Edward Kennedy.

Markin commnet:

I leave it to ace commentator Steve Lendman to do the bang-up job of analysis of this benighted bourgeois special election. Thanks, Steve.

Monday, January 18, 2010

*Year I Of The Obamiad- A Very Unscientific, If Revealing, Poll- A Short Note

Click on the title to link to the "Daily Kos" home page. This site is valuable, mainly, to get the polls and other technical information that major party politics thrives on.

Markin comment:

Unlike the major political parties, academic institutions and think-tanks I have neither the time, financial resources nor inclination to take the pulse of the American electorate via some ‘quasi-scientific’ poll, and draw conclusions accordingly. Primarily, whatever the value of such polls as a general proposition, I do not, and those who are likewise struggling for a communist future should take note, do not need such general information. Our area of concentration, assuming that we are looking for such information, is that extreme left wing of the political population that is today sitting, for the most part, uncomfortably at the edges of the Democratic Party (and, perhaps, a little overflow into the Green party, but that is really the same thing for our purposes). And without the aid of reams of data, a slew of telephonic conversations, e-mailings and “exit” polls I am here with some information. Not all is well in Obama-land as Year 1 of his reign comes to a close. Here, my friends, is our opening and why.

As readers of this space are aware, one of my interests is folk music, old- time music, roots music or whatever you would like to call it, as well as connecting that cultural strand in with our leftist heritage. Therefore, I attend more than my fair share of folk concerts, coffeehouse performances and “open mics” (ad hoc performances) in the local area. Once a year, usually around this time there is a grand gathering of devotees in the area in one place and for a long night of free-for-all singing and playing. (And maybe not so grand, as the numbers are beginning to dwindle as the old time devotees die off and are not replaced by Generation Xer’s, or whoever is not attached by the umbilical cord to some new technological device). The number this year was probably around one hundred and fifty to two hundred. Thus, a fair 'poll’ sampling for my purposes.

Those familiar with the devotees of the folk revival of the early 1960s know that this milieu was made up of, usually, highly educated, slightly radical (or at least left-liberal), kind of quirky types from good homes with some financial security who were not ready to march in step to whatever ‘vanilla’ commercial music was available to youth consumers at the time. The gathering I attended the other night was the ‘remnant’ of that folk revival crowd. Older, grayer, weaker, on the whole less driven by some political vision, although as they will be the first to tell you, their hearts are still in the right place.

Why is this important? Well, figure it out. This group and their kindred in little enclaves throughout the country, my friends, was one of the key early social bases from which the Obama drew in 2008 (and Hillary to lesser extend, but Obama was their real choice from the get-go). These are people who in their youth worked, one way or the other, in the civil rights campaigns, North or South and the Obama candidacy and then election were the epitome of what they fought for back then. Thus at the 2007 and 2008 (held just after the inauguration) gatherings the songs, the talk, the spirit in the air were all keyed to this changing of the guard under the guise of anybody-but-Bush. These last couple of years, I could hardly contain my anger at their naiveté, especially on the question of that pending Afghanistan escalation that Obama made no effort to hide as he campaigned.

Fast forward to this year (2010). For several hours of songs and other such doings, in contrast, not one political comment was made (except by me, of course), not one reference to anything political in song or presentation. Nada. This is important. Not, as one might think, because it is prima facie evidence that Obama is on the ropes with the left wing of the Democratic Party. Nor that there is to be a left -AARP (American Association of Retired People) uprising to throw the scoundrel out. No, what is important here is that these people have children, mainly college students now, or a little older. Just the kids who formed the shock troops for Obama. And these kids, unlike when we were kids in the 1960s, listen to their folks. That is where Obama’s trouble is going to come from. And I needed neither a crystal ball nor a “scientific poll” to come up with that wisdom.

What is more problematic is what we communists do about it. After all, one of the truisms of politics is that it abhors a vacuum (which may be one of the few true generalizations that you can make about the subject).
Some of Obama’s problems will come from the right: racial, political or just plain ornery, the Tea Party-crowd. But for us of the left, the communist left in particular, we might be able with some work pick up some of those left-liberal kids. Hey, where do you think the radicals of the 1960s, including this writer, came from? I will repeat what has become something of a mantra for this space. After Obama, Us. Or at least we better act that way.

Monday, December 21, 2009

*From The Steve Lendman Blog- Obama At One

Click on the title to link to an analysis of Barack Obama's first year in office as Commander-in-Chief of the American imperium.

Markin comment:

I am glad Steve Lendman found the time and interest to do this analysis of Obama's first year. (There is a second part of the blog that you can link to as well). I know I did not want to, nor did I intent to take on such a worthless project. The only thing I could add here is the general proposition that I have been guided by since it looked like Obama was going to become the next American imperial president- After Obama- Us!

Wednesday, November 25, 2009

*The Lines Are Drawn-Neck Deep In The 'Big Poppy'- Down With The Obama Afghan War Policy-Immediate Unconditional Withdrawal Of All U.S. Troops!

Click on title to link to a "The Washington Post" article on the movement toward escalation in Afghanistan, spear-headed by U.S Afghan commander McChrystal and the good ol' boys lining up Congress for Obama.

Markin comment:

Things are looking grim, very grim. Apparently the inside story all along was not whether to increase troop levels but rather by how much and from what sources. In any case this is now, without question and in plain view for all to see, Nobel 'Peace' Prize winner Barack Obama's war

This is a repost of an entry I have placed on this site many, too many times. Today, unfortunately, it bears repeating:

Every once in a while (more frequently than I would like) old Pete Seeger's song about his World War II adventures that served as a parable for President Lyndon Johnson and his constant Vietnam escalations, "Waist Deep In The Big Muddy” just seems appropriate. This is one of those occasions. Just switch "Big Poppy" for "Big Muddy" and you will have it just about right.

"Waist Deep In The Big Muddy"-Pete Seeger

It was back in nineteen forty-two,
I was a member of a good platoon.
We were on maneuvers in-a Loozianna,
One night by the light of the moon.
The captain told us to ford a river,
That's how it all begun.
We were -- knee deep in the Big Muddy,
But the big fool said to push on.

The Sergeant said, "Sir, are you sure,
This is the best way back to the base?"
"Sergeant, go on! I forded this river
'Bout a mile above this place.
It'll be a little soggy but just keep slogging.
We'll soon be on dry ground."
We were -- waist deep in the Big Muddy
And the big fool said to push on.

The Sergeant said, "Sir, with all this equipment
No man will be able to swim."
"Sergeant, don't be a Nervous Nellie,"
The Captain said to him.
"All we need is a little determination;
Men, follow me, I'll lead on."
We were -- neck deep in the Big Muddy
And the big fool said to push on.

All at once, the moon clouded over,
We heard a gurgling cry.
A few seconds later, the captain's helmet
Was all that floated by.
The Sergeant said, "Turn around men!
I'm in charge from now on."
And we just made it out of the Big Muddy
With the captain dead and gone.

We stripped and dived and found his body
Stuck in the old quicksand.
I guess he didn't know that the water was deeper
Than the place he'd once before been.
Another stream had joined the Big Muddy
'Bout a half mile from where we'd gone.
We were lucky to escape from the Big Muddy
When the big fool said to push on.

Well, I'm not going to point any moral;
I'll leave that for yourself
Maybe you're still walking, you're still talking
You'd like to keep your health.
But every time I read the papers
That old feeling comes on;
We're -- waist deep in the Big Muddy
And the big fool says to push on.

Waist deep in the Big Muddy
And the big fool says to push on.
Waist deep in the Big Muddy
And the big fool says to push on.
Waist deep! Neck deep! Soon even a
Tall man'll be over his head, we're
Waist deep in the Big Muddy!
And the big fool says to push on!

Thursday, October 29, 2009

*From Steve Lendmen's Blog- Obama's 'Peace' Prize

Click on title to link to Steve Lendmen's entry on the selection of Barack Obama as the recipient of this year's Nobel Peace Prize. Brother Lendmen says it all, or at least all that needs to be said on the subject while we get back to the real task of opposing Obama's bloody imperial wars.

Wednesday, September 30, 2009

* Sometimes It Takes A Song To Tell The Political Truth- Lead Belly's "Bourgeois Blues"

Click on title to link to YouTube's film clip of Lead Belly performing "Bourgeois Blues". Those offended by the "n" word, as I am for a whole bunch of current social, political and personal reasons, hold your noses BUT listen this is the artist at work. Let him tell it his way.

Markin comment:

Some days it takes a song to kind of put things in political perspective. I ran across this old Lead Belly tune written by him after he was constantly subject to Jim Crow legal and social segregation sanctions in Washington, D.C. and elsewhere. Although today there is a black face in the White House for most blacks (just look at the scary unemployment numbers for blacks for one thing), other minorities and the rest of us this song is a simple truth about where we stand today. Change the "n" word and it fits many of us. Time to get moving on that socialist agenda to turn things around. And by the way, Mr. President, get the troops the hell out of Afghanistan now.

"Bourgeois Blues"

Me and my wife went all over town
And everywhere we went people turned us down
Lord, in a bourgeois town
It's a bourgeois town
I got the bourgeois blues
Gonna spread the news all around

Well, me and my wife we were standing upstairs
We heard the white man say'n I don't want no niggers up there
Lord, in a bourgeois town
Uhm, bourgeois town
I got the bourgeois blues
Gonna spread the news all around

Home of the brave, land of the free
I don't wanna be mistreated by no bourgeoisie
Lord, in a bourgeois town
Uhm, the bourgeois town
I got the bourgeois blues
Gonna spread the news all around

Well, them white folks in Washington they know how
To call a colored man a nigger just to see him bow
Lord, it's a bourgeois town
Uhm, the bourgeois town
I got the bourgeois blues
Gonna spread the news all around

I tell all the colored folks to listen to me
Don't try to find you no home in Washington, DC
'Cause it's a bourgeois town
Uhm, the bourgeois town
I got the bourgeois blues
Gonna spread the news all around

Friday, August 28, 2009

*The Controversy Over Revolutionaries Running For The Executive Offices Of The Capitalist State-Do You Really Want To Be In Obama's Shoes-Hell, No!

Click on title to link to an earlier entry in this space concerning my “getting religion” on the question of revolutionaries running for the executive offices of the capitalist state.

Markin comment:

As detailed in that entry I, for a very long time, had held to the classic communist view (including previously to their new turn, the International Communist League) that there was some propaganda value in running for such offices under the assumption that, of course, if victorious the office would be rejected. Even saying that last sentence now, in my post-conversion period, makes me realize just how absurd the old position honorably held or not, really was given our relationship to the capitalist state. The exchange below from the pages of “Workers Vanguard” and a reader only emphasize that problem. Like many a late “convert” I am now ‘more Catholic than the Pope’, as the old expression used to be put in my grandparents’ house. The reader’s argument is so, well lets’ say it straight, naïve (at best) that it is hard to believe that there would be any opposition to this particular line change among revolutionaries. Let’s just put it this way-”Down With The Executive Offices of the Capitalist State!”. Needless to say, down with the capitalist state as well.

Workers Vanguard No. 940
31 July 2009

On Executive Offices and the Capitalist State: An Exchange


To the editor:

You take the position in Workers Vanguard (No. 918 [1 August 2008]) that Socialists should not run for executive office. You argue “To run for executive office means to aspire to be the next Commander-in-Chief who decides who gets tortured, who gets bombed, who gets invaded.”

On the contrary, a Socialist President would have the torturers arrested and prosecuted, starting with those who authorized the torture, to wit, Bush and Cheney et al.

He would immediately end the wars in Iraq and Afghanistan and bring all the troops home. And he would do everything in his power to advance the struggle for Socialism and oppose Capitalism and U.S. Imperialism.

U.S. military bases around the world would be shut down and all U.S. forces returned home and demobilized. Guantánamo would be returned to Cuba and the embargo ended. U.S. support for right wing regimes and Israel would end. The Pentagon and CIA budgets would be reduced to close to zero and the money saved would be used to better the lives of the American people.

All Federal political prisoners would be pardoned and so called “enemy combatants” would be freed or tried in Federal courts. Military commissions would be abolished. Spying on Americans would be immediately stopped. The crimes and lies of the Bush administration and its predecessors would be brought to the attention of the public. The practice of rendition would be ended. Left wing attorneys would be nominated to the Federal Judiciary.

Obviously if a Socialist were elected to the Presidency it would mean a tremendous leftward shift in U.S. politics, brought on no doubt by an economic crisis of severe proportions. The workers would be looking to Socialism as the answer to their problems.

A Socialist President by himself could not bring about Socialism, but he would explain what Socialism is and what would be needed to bring it about.

He would propose nationalizing the key industries, services and banks and operating them under workers control. If these proposals were blocked by Congress, the executive powers of Eminent Domain could be used to take over key industries etc. without Congressional approval.

He would fight for and mobilize the workers to achieve: Single Payer National Health insurance, a 30 hour week at 40 hour pay, repeal of all anti-labor laws, an indefinite moratorium on home mortgage foreclosures, a ban on companies relocating outside the country, shifting the tax burden off the workers onto the wealthy and the corporations, free college education, a guaranteed job for all, etc.

Incidentally, you might recall that both Marx and Engels believed that at least in the case of the United States and England, because of their long democratic traditions, Socialism could be achieved electorally and peacefully.

However, should a workers revolution develop in the United States, wouldn’t its chances of success be far greater if the President, who is Commander-in-Chief of the armed forces, were a Socialist? Think about this.

Running for the Presidency gives Socialists a wonderful opportunity to educate the American people about Socialism.

And if a Socialist were elected President it would represent a giant step toward a Socialist America.

Yours truly,
Concerned Reader

WV Replies:

The starting point of the above letter, using the example of the American imperial presidency, is that the working class can utilize the existing state apparatus to implement beneficial policies and gain political supremacy. In fact, the tasks that the author proposes for a “socialist” president are hardly revolutionary. Such proposals on torture, spying, the economy and health care read like a liberal or social-democratic wish list, while the call for a ban on companies relocating abroad echoes the “Buy American” chauvinism of the Democrats and the trade-union bureaucracy. More fundamentally, the differences we have with the letter are not only over the question of running for executive offices but the very basis of our opposition to running for such offices: the nature of the capitalist state. As we wrote in our extensive article (to which we refer readers), “Marxist Principles and Electoral Tactics” (Spartacist [English-language edition] No. 61, Spring 2009):

“Behind the question of running for executive office stands the fundamental counterposition between reformism and Marxism: Can the proletariat use bourgeois democracy and the bourgeois state to achieve a peaceful transition to socialism? Or, rather, must the proletariat smash the old state machinery, and in its place create a new state to impose its own class rule—the dictatorship of the proletariat—to suppress and expropriate the capitalist exploiters?”

Bourgeois politicians, sociologists and academics have utterly distorted what the state is, presenting it as a body that stands above society with the purpose of organizing it and arbitrating its class antagonisms. In reality, as Marxist leader V.I. Lenin outlined in his 1917 work, The State and Revolution, “the state is an organ of class rule, an organ for the oppression of one class by another; it is the creation of ‘order,’ which legalises and perpetuates this oppression by moderating the conflict between the classes.” In modern capitalist society, the state exists to defend the rule and profits of the bourgeoisie against the working class and oppressed. At its core, the state is made up of armed bodies of men and their adjuncts dedicated to that task: the cops, the military, the prisons, the courts.

The letter writer betrays huge illusions in bourgeois democracy. Such democracy is, in fact, for the bourgeoisie against the proletariat and oppressed. Lenin observed, “A democratic republic is the best possible political shell for capitalism, and, therefore, once capital has gained possession of this very best shell…it establishes its power so securely, so firmly, that no change of persons, institutions or parties in the bourgeois-democratic republic can shake it.”

History has repeatedly demonstrated that the bourgeois state cannot be made to serve the interests of the proletariat and the oppressed. This was shown by the 1871 Paris Commune—when the Parisian proletariat held power for nearly three months before being crushed at a cost of over 20,000 lives. Lenin pointed out that Karl Marx and Friedrich Engels found only one point from the 1848 Communist Manifesto that they considered “out-of-date.” Based on the experience of the Commune, Marx wrote in The Civil War in France (1871) that it had become clear that “the working class cannot simply lay hold of the ready-made state machinery and wield it for its own purposes.” Lenin underlined in The State and Revolution, “The working class must break up, smash the ‘ready-made state machinery,’ and not confine itself merely to laying hold of it.” The capitalist state must be smashed through a socialist revolution that erects in its place a workers state—i.e., the dictatorship of the proletariat, based on democratically-elected workers councils (soviets). It will take the victory of proletarian revolution on an international scale to lay the basis for the creation of a classless communist society and the withering away of the state.

To bolster its argument, the above letter states that “Marx and Engels believed that at least in the case of the United States and England, because of their long democratic traditions, Socialism could be achieved electorally and peacefully.” In fact, in those instances where Marx asserted that in the U.S. and England “workers may achieve their aims by peaceful means” (“On the Hague Congress,” 8 September 1872), he did not base himself on these countries’ “long democratic traditions” but rather on his belief that these countries lacked militarist cliques or significant bureaucratic apparatuses.

However, Marx’s speculation was in error. Britain had a vast colonial empire requiring large bureaucracies and military forces. In the U.S., the post-Civil War period produced an enormous boost to Northern capital, so that by the time of the Ulysses S. Grant administration all the pieces were in place for the development of full-blown U.S. imperialism in the coming decades (see “The Grant Administration (1869-1877) and the Rise of U.S. Imperialism,” WV Nos. 938 and 939, 5 June and 3 July). At any rate, whatever Marx may have speculated, we are now in the imperialist epoch. Today, the idea of a peaceful, parliamentary transition to socialism is worse than a pipe dream; it is a noose placed on the proletariat by the reformists and other enemies of workers revolution.

Writing in 1899, after French Socialist Alexandre Millerand took a ministerial post in the government, revolutionary Marxist Rosa Luxemburg underscored: “The government of the modern state is essentially an organization of class domination, the regular functioning of which is one of the conditions of existence of the class state. With the entry of a socialist into the government, and class domination continuing to exist, the bourgeois government doesn’t transform itself into a socialist government, but a socialist transforms himself into a bourgeois minister.”

This point has been repeatedly confirmed, with tragic results for workers and the oppressed. In 1970 in Chile, the Socialist Party’s Salvador Allende and his Unidad Popular—a coalition government that subordinated the workers to their deadly class enemies through a bloc of workers parties with a mythical “progressive” section of the bourgeoisie and the “democratic” officer corps—won a major electoral victory. When Allende became president, reformists across the globe hailed this as a great victory in the advance to socialism. But as we warned in “The Chilean Popular Front” (Spartacist No. 19, November-December 1970): “It is the most elementary duty for revolutionary Marxists to irreconcilably oppose the Popular Front in the election and to place absolutely no confidence in it in power. Any ‘critical support’ to the Allende coalition is class treason, paving the way for a bloody defeat for the Chilean working people when domestic reaction, abetted by international imperialism, is ready.”

It was the Chilean masses that paid for the reformists’ betrayals. Backed by the U.S., General Augusto Pinochet, whom Allende had appointed as Commander-in-Chief of the Army, led a military coup on 11 September 1973 that overthrew the government, assassinated Allende and slaughtered tens of thousands of workers and other militants. Allende was not simply a martyred victim of the CIA and Chilean generals; he and his reformist supporters, with their promotion of a “peaceful” (i.e., parliamentary) road to socialism, led the Chilean working masses directly into this defeat.

Our position is that communist deputies can, as oppositionists, serve in bourgeois legislative bodies as tribunes of the proletariat. But assuming executive office means taking responsibility for the administration of the machinery of the capitalist state. And to stand for executive office carries the implication that one is ready to accept such responsibility (no matter what disclaimer one makes in advance). This can only lend legitimacy to prevailing and reformist conceptions of the state.

The 1917 Russian Revolution led by the Bolshevik Party of Lenin and Trotsky proved the validity of the Marxist theory on the state and made it a reality. In reaching our position on not running for executive offices, we are fulfilling and extending the work of the Communist International of Lenin and Trotsky’s time. As Lenin put it in The State and Revolution, “A Marxist is solely someone who extends the recognition of the class struggle to the recognition of the dictatorship of the proletariat.”

Thursday, July 30, 2009

*Once Again- Immediate Uncondtional Withdrawal From Afghanistan Mr. Obama

Click On Title To Link To United For Justice With Peace (UJP) Poster Of Obama And His Afghan War Policy. Now I Have Made Clear, Very Clear I Hope My Differences With UJP and Other Coalitions That Want To Treat These People Who Run The American Imperial State As Fellow Rational Human Beings But This Poster Kind Of Says It All (For Now)About The Need To Oppose Obama "The Charma's" War Policy.

Tuesday, July 28, 2009

*U.S. Troops Back On Patrol In Iraq On The Low- Immediate Unconditional Withdrawal Of All Allied Troops From Iraq- Loudly

Click On Title To Link To BBC Story About The Situation With The So-called "Incredibly Shrinking U.S. Troop Presence" In Iraq. Miracle Or Myth? Let Me Just Say We Had Better Start Getting Our Grandchildren Ready To Face The Music In Iraq When Their Time Comes. John McCain and Before Him One George W. Bush Said It Would Take A Generation Or More To Stabilize The Situation In Iraq. They May Have Not Been Far Off The Mark. But Just To Be On The Safe Side- Obama-Immediate Unconditional Withdrawal Of All U.S./Allied Troops From Iraq!

Tuesday, June 30, 2009

*As American Troops Draw Down From The Cities In Iraq- The Need To Continue The Fight Against The Obama War Policy-U.S. Out Of Iraq And Afghanistan

Click On Title To Link To New York Times News Article About The Increased Insurgent Activity In The Wake Of The Scheduled U.S. Troop Draw-down From Iraqi Cities On June 30, 2009.


Okay, the eyes of the world lately have, rightly, been focused on the struggle of the Iranian masses and the need to stand in solidarity with them in their fight against the rigged elections and police and para-military weapons of the theocratic Islamic Republic. And there has been plenty of hoopla over the current American legislation to effect climate change, assumedly for the better. Added to that the crush of news about the struggle for an American national healthcare policy and a few tears in the direction of Michael Jackson and his seemingly tragic life and the political air appears to have little room for what is seen as “old” news. Still, I have this compelling need to offer this quick little reminder about those quirky little American wars that nevertheless still go blazing away in places like Iraq and Afghanistan (to speak nothing of the escalations in Pakistan but that are is not “our” war- yet).

The immediate purpose of this little reminder is that today, June 30, 2009, is the date that American (and allied, if there is such a thing anymore) troops are scheduled to withdraw from the major Iraqi cities and for the Iraqi security forces to take over. That said, the position of labor militants and other progressive forces must continue to be for immediate unconditional withdrawal of all American troops from that benighted country. That is the slogan we of the anti-imperialist left started off with almost seven years ago , and notwithstanding many liberal illusions in the good will of one Barack Obama, President of the United States, that remains our position until that task is accomplished. Oh, by the way, we might as well add for the sake of completeness- Immediate Unconditional Withdrawal Of All American/Allied Troops From Afghanistan. There, I have been short and sweet today, but let us stay focused. More later.

Saturday, June 06, 2009

*The Three Hands Of Barack Obama- The Cairo Speech

Click On Title To Link To Barack Obama's Speech At Egypt's Cairo University on June 4, 2009.


What is this? Has Markin gone off the deep end and forgotten that humankind is only gifted, officially, with two hands (although even a child knows that every bourgeois politician has had a third grafted on- you know-on the one hand, and on the other and on the…., well, you know the rest)? Moreover, why is he spilling any ink on the subject of some lanky bourgeois politician’s, United State President or not, off-hand professorial speech on the hellish fate of the Muslim world to invited guests at Egypt’s Cairo University? Good questions.

In the normal course of events I would peruse such speeches and then move on, sometimes, as here, having felt that I had wasted precious time by even doing that much. Furthermore, being a newshound of sorts, I would have already had my fill of pundits, bloggers, and anyone with some half-baked opinion on the subject and been ready to go screaming into the night. This little Obama set speech, however, has set my teeth on edge. Frankly, I am irked (I am being polite, as this is a family-friendly site) at this bombastic little (okay, not so little) twerp going on and on about the problems of the Middle East, Islamic/Western tensions and the like without so much as raising one concrete proposition to “solve” the problems in that benighted region. Enough!

From some of the person-on- the- street interviews of Muslims in its aftermath I am not alone in seeing that “the emperor has no clothes”. You know, little things like getting the historically oppressed Palestinians out of the refugee camps of Gaza and the West Bank and into their own state, getting the United States the hell out of Iraq and Afghanistan (and as is becoming more apparent, Pakistan), stopping the drone attacks on civilians, Muslim civilians, everywhere in the region and stopping one, just one, concrete block headed toward building of yet another Israeli settlement in the Occupied Territories. I could go on and on, but you get my drift.

One thing about being the Commander-in-Chief of the American imperium is never having to really say you are sorry. Mr. Obama did his duty in Cairo and then to show his even-handedness (or rather three-handedness) he showed up at the Buchenwald concentration camps in order to shore up his Israeli/American Jewish flank. Get it. This is worth no more ink though, except this. U.S. Out Of Iraq And Afghanistan! Defend The Palestinian people!

Tuesday, April 14, 2009

*Vote NO On The Bush (Oops!) Obama Iraq/Afghan War Budget

Click On Title To Link To "Common Dreams" Site And An Analysis Of The Obama Afghan War Budget. I Pass This Link Along For Informational Purposes Only. I Do Not Know What Their Political Perspective Is But I Doubt That It Is In Accord With Mine. The Budget Breakdown Is Interesting, Though. It Has The 'Wonkish" Aspect To It That Comes In Handy When Making Arguments Against The Bush (Oops, Again)Obama Administration's' War Policy.


The latest news out of Washington on the Iraq/Afghan war front is that President Obama (unlike the “dovish” Illinois Senator Obama) is asking Congress for some 85 billion additional dollars to cover the cost of his war projects in Iraq and Afghanistan (Associated Press, Andrew Taylor, Friday, April 10, 2009).


I am so sorry for my almost error in the headline to this commentary above concerning which presidential administration, Bush’s or Obama’s, is asking for a supplemental war budget of some 85 billion dollars to cover incidental war expenses in Iraq and Afghanistan over the next year or so. Over the past several years we have gotten so use to seeing this little ploy used and having to make an additional fight against the imperial war budget that I felt that I was in something of a time warp.

However, you can hardly fault me for my little mistake when the Obama administration takes a page from the Bush playbook and tries to do an “end around” by special pleading for separate funding for these little military adventures. The Obama administration does, however, promise according to the AP report that this will be the last time this little ploy will be used. So next time instead of an overall military budget of say, 500 billion dollars, it will be an overall budget of some 600 million dollars. Thank heaven for tender mercies. Then we will only have to do one propaganda fight to call for a NO vote on the war budget. Nice, right?

But enough of all this emphasis on the bloody Obama administration. The crux of the matter here is that the Congress must appropriate these funds and that is where the struggle lies. I have spilled no little ink each year around this time dealing with calling for a NO vote on these bloated imperial war budgets, supplementary or other wise. This year is no exception. Here is one of the good things about the Internet though; one can save information readily without the muss and fuss of spending a lot of time looking for it. Thus, I was able to conger up some old commentary from 2006 and 2007 around the question of the fight against the war budget.

I repost some of that commentary here. I have not done much editing so where its says Bush put Obama, where it says Republicans put Democrats and where it says political con job put political con job. The funny thing is that except for changing a few of the names of the politicians in charge, a few of the purposes that the money to be appropriated for and the fact that we are a couple of more years into this Middle Eastern quagmire they could have been written today. So maybe, just maybe, it was not some Freudian slip (or other psychological quirk of mine) when I make my 'mistake' in the headline. To be on the safe side let’s just leave it at this- Obama- Immediate Unconditional Withdrawal Of All U.S. / Allied Troops From Iraq/Afghanistan. Vote NO on Funding For The War Budget.


“Hold Their Feet To The Fire”, April 22, 2006



The election cycle of 2006-2008 has started, a time for all militants to run for cover. It will not be pretty and certainly is not for the faint-hearted. The Democrats smell blood in the water. The Greens smell that the Democrats smell blood. Various parliamentary leftists and some ostensibly socialists smell that the Greens smell blood. You get the drift. Before we go to ground let me make a point.

The central issue in the 2006 elections is the Iraq quagmire. As we enter the fourth year in the bloody war in Iraq many liberals, and some not so liberal, in Congress and elsewhere are looking to rehabilitate their sorry records on Iraq and are having a cheap field day. As militants we know that the only serious call is- Immediate, Unconditional Withdrawal of all U.S. and Allied Forces Now (or rather yesterday). Many politicians have supported a pale imitation of this slogan-now that it safe to do so. These courageous positions range from immediate withdrawal in six months, one year, six years, etc... My personal favorite is withdrawal when the situation in Iraq stabilizes. Compared to that position, Mr. Bush’s statement in May, 2003 that the mission in Iraq was accomplished seems the height of political realism. Hold on though.

After the last slogan has faded from the last mass anti-war demonstration, after the last e-mail has been sent to the last unresponsive Congressman, after the last petition signed on behalf of the fellowship of humankind has been signed where do we stand in 2006. When the vast majority of Americans (and the world) are against the Iraq war and it still goes on and yet the “masses” are not ready for more drastic action we need some immediate leverage.

The only material way to end the war on the parliamentary level is opposition to the continued funding for the occupation. For that, however, you need votes in Congress. Here is my proposal. Make a N0 vote on the war budget a condition for your vote. When the Democrats, Republicans, Greens, or whoever, come to your door, your mailbox , your computer or calls you on the telephone or cell phone ask this simple question- YES or NO on the war budget.

Now, lest I be accused of being an ultra left let me make this clear. I am talking about the supplementary budget for Iraq. Heaven forbid that I mean the real war budget, you know, the 400 billion plus one. No, we are reasonable people and until we get universal health care we do not want these “leaders” to suffer heart attacks. And being reasonable people we can be proper parliamentarians when the occasion requires it. If the answer is YES, then we ask YES or NO on the appropriations for bombs in the war budget. And if the answer is still YES, then we ask YES or NO on the appropriations for gold-plated kitchen sinks in the war budget. If to your utter surprise any politician says NO here’s your comeback- Since you have approximated the beginning of wisdom, get the hell out of the party you represent. You are in the wrong place. Come down here in the mud and fight for party workers can call their own. Then, maybe, just maybe, I can support you.

I do not believe we are lacking in physical courage. What has declined is political courage, and this seems an irreversible decline on the part of parliamentary politicians. That said, I want to finish up with a woefully inadequate political appreciation of Karl Liebknecht, member of the German Social Democratic faction in the Reichstag in the early 1900’s. Karl was also a son of Wilhelm Liebknecht, friend of Karl Marx and founder of the German Social Democratic Party in the 1860’s. On August 4, 1914, at the start of World War I the German Social Democratic Party voted YES on the war budget of the Kaiser against all its previous historic positions on German militarism. This vote was rightly seen as a betrayal of socialist principles. Due to a policy of parliamentary solidarity Karl Liebknecht also voted for this budget, or at least felt he had to go along with his faction. Shortly thereafter, he broke ranks and voted NO against the war appropriations. As pointed out below Karl Liebknecht did much more than that to oppose the German side in the First World War. THAT, MY FRIENDS, IS THE KIND OF POLITICIAN I CAN SUPPORT. AS FOR THE REST- HOLD THEIR FEET TO THE FIRE.





I can hold out no longer. It seems like a political eternity since I have commented on the question of the Democrats and their response to their Iraq war. I have been waiting patiently for my liberal political friends to cry “uncle” over my prediction, made in the wake of the midterm elections, that when all the hoopla died down their Democrats would take a political dive on the Iraq question. Oh, yes I forgot the House of Representatives did pass a non-binding ‘softball’ resolution that even my mother, a life long Republican, was in favor of-as long as it had not teeth. Be still my heart, that one sure had President Bush shaking in his cowboy boots. While my liberal friends wait until Iraq freezes over for their Democrats to turn the corner those of us who really want to end this damn war need to take stock.

For the past year I have been propagandizing for the formation of anti-war soldier and sailor solidarity committees in order to lead the way out of Iraq. If one thinks about it for a moment in that time anti-war soldiers and sailors have done more to end this war than all the parliamentary actions of Democrats and all the anti-war demonstrations put together. As noted in an earlier commentary in this space (SEE THE CALIFORNIA SOLDIERS MUST NOT STAND ALONE in the January 2007 archives) many anti-war service personnel have signed onto a petition for the redress of grievance- and that grievance is the continuation of the war in Iraq. That is a good start but more will have to be done than petitions to get out of Iraq before hell freezes over. More on this later.

The next matter is getting a little redundant, that is of having to bring up the question every time the war appropriations are up for a vote, but I will repeat it once again. In wartime the only parliamentary question that matters is the question of funding the war budget. You know, the way the war gets paid for. A few thoughtful Democrats know that but, more importantly, President Bush and his coterie damn well know it. And have thumbed their noses at Congress whenever any slight rumbling about ending the war funding comes on the horizon.

There is a Democratic-sponsored bill before Congress now that speaks to tying war funding to some specific exit date. It is, however, as is true of much such legislation, so filled with loopholes, exemptions, exceptions and fallback positions as to be worthless. This is not a supportable bill. Moreover, it has as much chance of passing the Democratically-controlled Congress as Iraq freezing over. Here are the ABC’s of the situation. For those who still suffer a belief in the Democrats pose this question, STRAIGHT UP-on the war budget – YES OR NO. I fear you will not like the answer. And if you do not like the answer then you had better hurry along and form those anti-war soldier and sailor solidarity committees. Forward.





On Friday March 23, 2007 the United States House of Representatives by a narrow vote of 218 to 212 voted for a 124 billion dollar war budget for funding the Iraq and Afghanistan wars, among other things. That is more than the Bush Administration requested. However, attached to this budget was a binding (finally, something other than smoke and mirrors) resolution for withdrawal of troops from Iraq no later than August 31, 2008. President Bush in response stated unequivocally that he would veto this budget due to the withdrawal resolution and the fact the war budget was more than he wanted. Who would have thought?

Militants call for a straight no vote to any capitalist war budget. That is a given. However, some comment is required here. Clearly a war budget that was patched together with little goodies by the Democratic House leadership in order to get a majority vote is not supportable. Nor is a budget that is passed on the basis that the President is going to veto it anyway but everyone gets to look good for the folks back home. That is cynical but hardly unusual in bourgeois politics. What I find important out of this jumble is the amount of pressure that the House leadership felt was on it to carry out its mandate from the mid-term elections about doing something to get the hell out of Iraq. Unfortunately this is not the road out of Iraq. Increasing the war budget and then leaving it up to Bush to veto the damn thing smacks of parliamentary cretinism. Forget the Democrats (on this one the Republicans are not even on the radar).

A semi-kudo to Democratic presidential candidate Ohio Congressman Dennis Kucinich for voting against this charade. At least he had the forthrightness to state that if you wanted to end the war you needed to vote against the measure. That he is a voice in the wilderness and is in the wrong party is a fact of life. That his candidacy is thus not politically supportable by militants does not negate the fact that he is right on this one. NOT ONE PENNY, NOT ONE SOLDIER FOR THE WAR! UNITED STATES OUT OF IRAQ AND AFGHANISTAN! BUILD A WORKERS PARTY THAT FIGHTS FOR SOCIALISM!

Friday, February 27, 2009

He's Got Them "Bourgeois Blues"- Kudos to Lead Belly

As today's commentary "The Times Are Out Of Joint" indicates I am in a peevish mood concerning the doings (or not doings) in Washington, D.C. I'll just take a note from Lead Belly, the old folk singer, and let him give the 'skinny' on this mood of mine.

Lead Belly - The Bourgeois Blues Lyrics

Lord, in a bourgeois town
It's a bourgeois town
I got the bourgeois blues
Gonna spread the news all around

Home of the brave, land of the free
I don't wanna be mistreated by no bourgeoisie
Lord, in a bourgeois town
Uhm, the bourgeois town
I got the bourgeois blues
Gonna spread the news all around

Well, me and my wife we were standing upstairs
We heard the white man say "I don't want no n----rs up there"
Lord, in a bourgeois town
Uhm, bourgeois town
I got the bourgeois blues
Gonna spread the news all around

Well, them white folks in Washington they know how
To call a colored man a n----r just to see him bow
Lord, it's a bourgeois town
Uhm, the bourgeois town
I got the bourgeois blues
Gonna spread the news all around

I tell all the colored folks to listen to me
Don't try to find you no home in Washington, DC
`Cause it's a bourgeois town
Uhm, the bourgeois town
I got the bourgeois blues
Gonna spread the news all around