PROUD AND ANGRY: A member of the 15 Now Tacoma organizing committee, I spent a bit more than an hour Sunday collecting signatures on our petition to the Tacoma City Council demanding the minimum wage inside this municipality be raised to $15 per hour.
In that brief span of time – never mind I am 74 years old and visibly crippled – I filled two petition-pages, front and back, with a total of 48 signatures complete with addresses and contact information.
The venue was very much in 15 Now's advantage – an annual celebration of Tacoma's diverse ethnicity, a food-and-music festival in a large and pleasant city park near my dwelling, and I should have brought many more than two of our petition-sheets with me, but alas I did not. It was my first time working alone as a signature-gatherer, and I had foolishly under-estimated the campaign's popularity.
Meanwhile, “15 Now” is becoming a slogan of the increasingly radicalized Working Class, not just in Washington state but throughout the U.S. imperial homeland, and minimum-wage data tells why.
Here, where the minimum wage is set by the legislature, it is $9.32 an hour. The federal minimum wage is $7.25 per hour. But neither provide a so-called living wage, the sum required for self-support without reliance on food stamps and other subsidies the ever-more-unabashedly Ayn-Rand-fascist federal and state governments are relentlessly slashing or eliminating entirely.
(Note: the above-linked wage and cost-of-living data is not current. In one place the source-website says it's data is from the year 2010; in another it says it was updated in 2012. Thanks to bureaucratic lag – the increasing reluctance of U.S. governance to acknowledge how bad things truly are – these are the last full years available. However, the site is nevertheless useful as it does show the relationship between minimum wage and living wage.)
Had the federal minimum wage kept pace with inflation – that is, were the capitalists and their political servants not gleefully lining their own pockets by savaging workers and working families – the federal minimum wage would be $23 per hour.
Combine that with the fact at least half the population of Tacoma is lower income – 60 percent of the children in Tacoma schools are on free or reduced-price lunches – and it becomes easy to understand why it took me only 75 minutes to gather all those signatures.
Despite my error in not bringing more petition-pages to the park, I am fiercely proud of my effort today. I frankly had no idea I could be continuously on my feet without serious discomfort for anything approaching that span of time and distance, equivalent to walking about three miles.
I was also reveling in the exquisiteness of my new eyesight, 20/20 in my right eye due to cataract surgery, its result a re-familiarization with the sensuality of seeing that is tantamount to discovery of a fountain of youth – an experience I would be denied had I not applied for, and gotten, a special medical-expense grant.
At the same time, I am again forced to confront the fact the United States of America – once a nation of which I was proud to be a citizen – is again expanding at every level its traditional economic hostility toward people of color. But now it has gone much further. It has become the enemy of all working peoples everywhere, at home and abroad, regardless of our race and ethnicity.
It is from this perspective – pride in what I did today, pride in the fact I am able to remain defiantly active, anger in what this nation has become – I devote my Sundays to writing this blog.
On the Rise of Theocracy and Fascism in Obama's U.S.
Here is an analysis that reveals the connections beneath five seemingly unrelated reports:
“Right-Wing Militias Are Thriving - and the Media Won't Talk About It.” Nor is the Obama Regime protecting us against the depredations of these latter-day storm troopers.
The report's most revealing passage is frightening indeed:
“The problem is much more one of inter-agency coordination, leadership and simple recognition of the widespread threat of right-wing violence—a failure epitomized by the Obama administration’s knee-jerk disavowal of a Department of Homeland Security report on right-wing extremism, leaked to right-wing media in April 2009. As Potok noted, this disavowal came despite two basic facts: first, that a similar report on the virtually nonexistent radical left had been issued six months earlier, and second, the fact the report itself was “a fair, sober and prescient analysis of what was going on.” In fact “virtually everything that was written in that report came to pass in one way or another. But it’s not just the government that’s been caught flat-footed. The media’s sensationalist approach obscured as much or more than it revealed...”
AlterNet's Paul Rosenberg, who wrote this otherwise excellent summary of material from the Southern Poverty Law Center, nevertheless failed in two significant ways.
He seems to regard the government's inactivity and the media's dissemination of disinformation as separate phenomena – never mind the fact governance and mass media in today's U.S. are each wholly owned subsidiaries of the One Percent. In other words, it appears the militia are – no doubt in anticipation of their future function as defenders of capitalism – definitively under Ruling Class protection.
And – though Rosenberg does report the intimate connections between the new storm troopers, the imperial war machine and Christian fanaticism – he fails to place these disturbing facts in the context of the much larger, lavishly financed, increasingly successful effort to impose biblical-law theocracy on the United States.
Predictably, here too the U.S. government demonstrates its servitude to the One Percent. There's the Hobby Lobby case – which is turning out to be the Dred Scott decision not just for women but for the entire U.S. 99 Percent. There's also President Obama's dramatic increase in funding for religion-based social-services that notoriously discriminate against non-believers.
Most of all there's the story implicit in “US Air Force Prepares to Cry Havoc and Let Slip the Dogs of Fundamentalist Christians Proselytizing War,” which details the forcible conversion of the imperial war machine into an onward-Christian-soldiers force of heretic hunters and infidel eliminators. These modern-day Crusaders are tasked with converting the world, not at swords-point as in the previous Dark Age, but with cluster-bombs, napalm, depleted-uranium munitions, torture, deliberate collateral damage and other such technologies and tactics suitable to the new Dark Age in which we are befallen.
Here's the report's key paragraph:
“Look, let's just call it what it is. 'Spiritual rape' perpetrated by 'fundamentalist Christian religious predators' is how we at the civil rights organization I lead — the Military Religious Freedom Foundation (MRFF)— describe the profound sense of vicious, personal violation that is being mercilessly inflicted upon tens of thousands of our MRFF military clients, 96% of whom are practicing Christians themselves. Forced religious indoctrination, mandatory prayer sessions, active, abusive measures towards the promotion of one or another fundamentalist Christian sect, the shaming and savaging of freethinking, atheist, and agnostic service members – these barbaric tactics define the monstrous modus operandi of the Christian dominionist hegemony that lies as a cancerous plague metastasizing briskly across the whole of the Air Force and the U.S. Military.”
Another aspect of the theocracy issue – made so by the bottomless hatred of women that defines all Abrahamic fanatics whether Judaic, Christian or Muslim – is obliquely covered by “What I Learned Growing Up in the South as a Feminist, and the Problems With Today's Feminist Movement.” An essay by Lynn Stuart Parramore on the present-day plight of feminism, its most noteworthy paragraph promises much but delivers little:
“Part of this I blame on the Democratic Party, which often embraces a superficial 'hooray for women!' attitude while kicking women, particularly those at the lower rungs of the economic ladder, under the bus. Too often, mainstream moderate women's organizations seem to be class-blind and oblivious (or even hostile) to the need to confront economic structures that oppress both women and men.”
Too bad Parramore did not detail how the Democratic Party, beneath its never-ending Big Lie of progressive politics, proves itself to be as bad (if not actually worse), than the Republicans in effective hostility to women. How many millions of women have been robbed of their reproductive freedom – forever – by the loss of their jobs, and therefore the loss of their health insurance, as the direct result of Democrat “free trade” policies?
And now how many women who desperately hoped Obamacare would restore those freedoms are now suffering the cruelty of Hobby Lobby – the permanent, theocratic destruction of their hopes via Obamacare, the now-officially unconstitutional legislation presumably written and approved by the president whose first claim to fame was as a Harvard Law School constitutional scholar.
Given the innumerable shape-shifts from Obama the Orator to Barack the Betrayer that prove the president to be the most brazenly dishonest occupant of the White House ever, who can doubt the Hobby-Lobby outcome – the denial of free contraception to untold numbers of women – was intended from the very beginning?
The last two reports in this anthology, “Elderly Veteran Arrested For Asking County Officials To Speak Louder,” here and “We're Arresting Poor Mothers for Our Own Failures,” here, each illustrate the ever-more-zero-tolerance police-state malevolence that now increasingly afflicts the (increasingly Christian, hence increasingly brutal) imperial homeland.
Outside Agitation Elsewhere (in Case You Missed It)
“Obama Administration Eyes Significant Direct Involvement in Ukrainian Civil War,” Reader Supported News' republication of a terrifying New York Times report of looming escalation on behalf the neo-Nazis in the Ukraine War, sparked an unusually vitriolic comment thread, to which I added my own analysis:
Don't let the quibbling...obscure the terrifying fact escalations of this sort are bound to trigger World War III.
Because Russia is not North Vietnam – because Russia has a genuinely global military capability – U.S. intervention on behalf the neo-Nazi regime in Ukraine can only lead to thermonuclear holocaust.
Remember too the sole purpose of the U.S. government (and therefore of the CIA or any of its agencies whether foreign or domestic), is the advancement and perpetuation of U.S. capitalism and its global empire, the de facto Fourth Reich. This role it now fulfills perfectly.
Capitalism today has only three goals, all subsets of its mandate for absolute power and unlimited profit. These goals are: (1)-total control of global resources; (2)-extermination of surplus populations (that is, of all workers and working families rendered unnecessary by automation); (3)-reduction of the remaining workers to de facto slavery.
These goals are evident wherever there is a U.S. presence – Vietnam, Chile, Iraq, New Orleans, Ukraine – anywhere the empire exerts itself.
That's because the U.S. government is capitalism personified: infinite greed elevated to maximum virtue, the rejection of every humanitarian precept our species ever set forth – moral imbecility writ into foreign and domestic policy.
Later on the same thread a poster screen-named “geraldom” seemingly tried to lead three of us into criminal statements: “So what you, lorenbliss, and dsepeczi are basically saying (bottomline) is that Putin should surrender control of Russia to the U.S. in order to avoid igniting a hot-war and certain destruction of all life on earth.”
To which I responded:
The maliciously provocative nature of this false assertion – a statement to which nearly any rational response would be actionable by the secret police as treason – makes me wonder for whom geraldom is working.
Never forget Lev Bronstein's axiom: “in any gathering of three revolutionaries, there is at least one agent of the Okhrana.”
“Fear and Retaliation at the VA” exposes vindictive management within the Department of Veterans Affairs – a grim reality no different from the oppressive management that characterizes the entire Obamanoid bureaucracy and indeed governmental bureaucracy throughout the United States. The excellent report, by Lydia Dennett of the Project on Government Oversight (POGO), was reprinted by Popular Resistance.org, a website that is always worth reading. On the comment thread I pointed out how bureaucratic malevolence whether internal or external is one of the ways capitalist governance ensures itself against socialism:
As I said on Outside Agitator's Notebook...a few weeks ago, the problems with VA health care are a microcosm of the problems with U.S. health care in general – (scroll down), an analysis that, whether coincidentally or not, was repeated by Paul Krugman 10 days later.
But these problems are also what is wrong with all government bureaucracies – federal, state and local – that are responsible for providing services to the Working Class people of the United States.
The ultimate source of these problems is class warfare – the fact that managers (who presume themselves to be part of the Ruling Class elite), are indifferent if not outright hostile to the needs of the people they are theoretically responsible for serving.
This hostility is a logical byproduct of extent to which the U.S. population – particularly the college-educated elite – have been trained in (indeed brainwashed in), the morally imbecilic credo of Ayn Rand.
Hence the attitude in the bureaucracies from the top down is essentially the same as on Wall Street: infinite greed as ultimate virtue – the conscious and deliberate rejection of every humanitarian precept our species has ever set forth.
As a consequence, management is focused not on serving the people but on maximizing earnings while minimizing personal effort. Moreover, the same attitude applies, in varying degrees, at all levels of bureaucracy.
The result is one of the many ways the One Percent perpetuates the popular hatred of government that perpetuates hostility to socialism. It is also yet another dimension of the methodical reduction of the 99 Percent to abject serfdom.
“Coal exports from Bellingham could ramp up rapidly” reveals that railroad tracks are already being upgraded to carry billions of tons of coal to a proposed new international port near Bellingham, Washington. But Crosscut's usually skillful reporter Floyd McKay sidesteps entirely the obvious implication of the new construction – that the proverbial fix is already in, and the coal port will be built regardless of local opposition. I commented accordingly:
Anyone who doubts the Bellingham coal port is not already a done deal need only note how BNSF is upgrading the relevant rail lines.
The upgrading proves the associated political process – environmental-impact statements included – is nothing more than another charade of the sort that now exemplifies the Big Lie of U.S. democracy.
Under the new paradigm of U.S. governance, anything the capitalists want, the capitalists get – no matter how many will suffer or die as a consequence.
Were the fix not already in, the railroad would not be spending the money to bolster its tracks to support increased traffic.
“The Secret Government Rulebook for Labeling You a Terrorist,” by Jeremy Scahill and Ryan Devereaux, of The Intercept, reports the ugly details of how easily a political activist* can be damned forever as a public enemy. I damn the government in response:
By these standards, anyone who exercises the First Amendment right to protest can be labeled a terrorist or terrorist sympathizer – and that is obviously the government's intent.
Participate in a demonstration wherein a few secret-police thugs trash a building to create an excuse for mass arrest, you're on the list – your life destroyed forever unless you manage to escape to political asylum somewhere else.
What this makes clear is that Obama will not be content until all of us in the 99 Percent regardless of ethnicity or gender are reduced to the endless fear and total subjugation that was originally the wretched lot of minorities in the Ku Klux Klanfederacy whether south or north.
Indeed, that very kind of terror-state (so akin to Tsarist Russia or Nazi Germany), seems to be the Obamanoid model for good governance.
And in Obama's wanton and willful embrace of tyranny – never mind the clamor of deliberate lies and misinformed protests by DUDs (Democrats Uttering Denials) – the Republicans can no longer be blamed as initiators.
Once again, in his transition from Obama the Orator to Barack the Betrayer, the president proves himself to be infinitely more tyrannical than Richard Milhous Nixon ever dreamed of being.
*Under the Obama Regime, this applies only to activists on the Left. Those on the Right – even those advocating violence against the government – are clearly exempt. See “Right-Wing Militias Are Thriving,” above.
“How Anonymous Cops Online Are Reacting to the Death of Eric Garner” gives us an insider's glimpse of the savagery characteristic of capitalist governance. My response gets right to the point:
Envision these remarks as part of a dialogue amongst soldiers in an army of occupation inside a conquered nation and you have at last glimpsed the core truth of life in the imperial USian homeland.
“Federal Appeals Court Deals Blow to Obamacare” is a Washington Post report that discloses what I suspect is yet another deliberate betrayal of lower-income people maliciously built into the so-called Affordable Care Act. Thus my comment:
It ain't just “the Republicans.”
The Affordable Care Act was written by Democrats – or more specifically by insurance-monopoly lawyers empowered by Democrats.
Which means this newest “failure” – actually another example of Obama the Orator shape-shifting into Barack the Betrayer – was intended from the very beginning.
Because Obama is the quintessential capitalist. Because he is the biggest Big Liar ever to occupy the White House. Because he rules by capitalism's credo of Ayn Rand moral imbecility: infinite greed as maximum virtue – the deliberate rejection of every humanitarian precept our species has ever set forth.
Mostly because it's yet another truncheon with which to beat the Working Class into submission.
The victims of mandatory Obamacare – the people who cannot afford insurance without government subsidies – will be ruined by bankruptcies, foreclosures, families flung into permanent homelessness.
Meanwhile – with the subsidy money diverted to more profitable forms of corporate welfare – there'll be even bigger payoffs for Obama's One Percent masters.
Wake up, people. It's capitalism in action: absolute power and infinite profit for the Ruling Class, total subjugation for all the rest of us.
Later, in response to a hostile poster, I added this:
I'm well aware of Obamacare's Republican origins.
So let's be honest about who inflicted it on the people of the United States. (It was Barack the Betrayer and the Democratic Party).
Also let's be honest about why it was inflicted on us.
(It pays off the health care cartel and the prescription drug lords with the most obscene windfall profits in their obscene-profit histories.)
(Plus – let us not forget this all-important point – Obamacare perpetuates forever the definitive USian policy of health care as a privilege of wealth.)
Lastly, let's be honest about why the Republicans pretend to oppose it.
(Opposing anything with a “Democratic” label is the Republicans' predetermined, carefully scripted role in maintaining the Big Lie of USian "representative democracy” – their function in the One Party of Two Names.)
Wake up, people. There is no democracy here. There is only the tyranny of the One Percent – camouflaged by charades performed by its wholly owned servants in government at every level.
And my next retort was unapologetically antagonistic:
I see by the negative numbers I'm getting, there's a bunch of DUDs – Democrats Uttering Denials – on this thread. Hmmmm...must be an election year, as the defenders of the indefensible are again out in force, trying once more to sell us their Big Lie of “change we can believe in” – never mind our reality is exactly as Audre Lorde said: “the master's tools will never dismantle the master's house.”
Likewise my concluding comment, though its animosity was directed at the Democratic Party and not at the poster to whom I was responding:
...Wyden sounds like a male clone of the Patty Murray/Maria Cantwell duet here in the state of Wishywash.
But that's the sort of marionette mediocrity we get – Democrat or Republican it matters not – now that the Soviet Union is no longer around to scare the capitalists into a pretense of humanitarianism.
“No, Obama Has Not Failed” is a short essay by Charles Pierce of Esquire, republished by RSN, that disputes the growing conviction on the Left the president is “an incompetent, a sellout, or an incompetent sellout.”
My response is equally blunt:
Obama is also the best president the Bankers Plot conspirators ever had.
(These never-prosecuted criminals of 1934 wanted an officially fascist United States as part of a Rome/Berlin/Tokyo/Washington D.C. Axis and Hitler's New Order, a four-part global empire that was the conceptual forerunner of Bush's New World Order, the neocons' American Century and the Democrats' Global Economy.)
Indeed I would not be the least surprised if in the privacy of his own smugness, Obama already thinks of himself as “Imperator Mundi” – emperor of the world – not just POTUS but IMPOTUS.
LB/27 July 2014