Category Archives: Democrats

COVID-19 Crisis Failure, People Must Save Themselves and the Economy

Positive COVID-19 Test (Shutterstock)

The US is at a moment of truth. This week, Congress has to face up to a pandemic that is out of control and an economy that is collapsing. The Republican’s and Democrat’s proposals show they will fail this test. The people will need to protect themselves and lead from below.

The pandemic is worsening with more than 60,000 new cases and approximately 1,000 new deaths daily. Deaths, now over 158,000, are spiking across the sunbelt and increasing across the Midwest. By Election Day, the US could have 250,000 deaths making COVID-19 the third largest killer after cancer and heart disease.

The economy shrank at a record 32.9% annual pace in the second quarter, the largest since records were first kept in 1947. Jobless claims increased for the second week in a row with 1.4 million new people seeking unemployment benefits and continuing claims have risen to 17.06 million. More than 35 million people have lost their jobs since March.

In the face of these depression-era numbers, neither the Democrats nor Republicans are planning enough spending to rebuild the economy. President Trump, who has botched the response to the pandemic, is unable to lead but seems willing to sign anything that passes Congress.

Boxes of food are distributed by the Greater Pittsburgh Community Food Bank, at a drive thru distribution in downtown Pittsburgh, 10 April, 2020 (AP Photo/Gene J. Puskar.)

Republican HEALS Act Will Spread the Virus, Deepen Economic Collapse

The Republican Health, Economic Assistance, Liability Protection, and Schools (HEALS) Act seeks to push people back to work and reopen schools even if it is not safe to do so. Their proposals to cut unemployment benefits are designed to make workers desperate so they will work in conditions that put their health at risk. A large portion of school funding is restricted to schools that physically reopen forcing unsafe schools. Here are some of the details of the bill:

Health care: The inadequacy of for-profit healthcare has been magnified by the pandemic. The loss of jobs resulted in millions of people losing their health insurance on top of almost 30 million people who were already uninsured. Republicans do not include a funding increase for Medicaid, which 70 million people rely on. The National Governor’s Association reports states are experiencing budget shortfalls ranging between 5 and 20 percent. The Republicans do not provide any funding to state and local governments to make up for this loss of income. Without new funding, states will have to cut Medicaid eligibility, reduce benefits, or reduce payments to providers at a time when the economy and virus mean more people need it.

Food: The Census reports 26 million people do not have adequate food. Food banks are reporting shortages and 14 million children are going hungry but the Republicans did not extend funding for food assistance programs. The Republicans did not extend either the Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program (SNAP), known as food stamps, or the Pandemic EBT program, a benefit for households with children who have temporarily lost access to free or reduced-price school meals, which ended in June. In contrast, they did propose a 100 percent deduction on business meals through the end of 2020.

Housing: The eviction moratorium expired last week. It protected an estimated 12 million renters in federally-backed properties. The HEALS Act does nothing to prevent evictions from restarting. There are 110 million Americans who live in rental households. Twenty percent of them, 23 million people, are at risk of eviction by September 30 according to the COVID-19 Eviction Defense Project. With the cut in unemployment benefits, the Census Bureau estimates 24 million people will be unable to pay next month’s rent, including 45 percent of Black and Latinx households.

Worker safety: As workers are being forced back to work, the HEALS Act cuts their ability to sue at a time when worker-safety is at its greatest risk in a century.  Senator McConnell calls this a “red line” that must be in the final bill. His proposal would preempt the few state workplace safety laws that exist and supersede such federal worker safeguards as the Occupational Safety and Health Act of 1970, the Fair Labor Standards Act of 1938, and the Americans with Disabilities Act of 1990, among others. The Republican proposal would erect almost insurmountable obstacles to lawsuits by workers who become infected at their workplaces and limit damages. To be immune, employers would merely have to show they were  “exploring options” to comply with federal law, or they found the risk of harm to health could not be “reduced or eliminated by reasonably modifying policies, practices, or procedures.” A worker whose lawyer issues a demand letter and settlement offer would find themselves potentially facing litigation by the employer against them. If employers sue workers, there is no limit to punitive damages. These provisions would be retroactive to December 1, 2019, and remain in effect at least until October 1, 2024.

Student debt: The HEALS Act doesn’t extend the interest-free payment pause on federal student loans or halt debt collection on government-held student debt, two forms of relief in the original CARES ACT. Without extending the relief Congress first granted to student loan borrowers through the CARES Act, 40 million people are likely to have to resume payments on September 30, 2020 at a time when there are Depression-like levels of unemployment.

Business support: The Act provides $100 billion more for the problematic Paycheck Protection Program, which has been rife with corruption as members of Congress and the administration as well as their friends, families, and donors got payouts. Big businesses got loans even though the program was intended for small businesses, making small business owners furious. Black and minority businesses were denied loans. Money is needed for main street businesses but PPP needs major changes rather than just pouring more money into the failed program.

The bill also includes $1.75 billion for the FBI building. This was added at the insistence of the Trump administration because the president’s hotel is across the street from the FBI. Without funding to refurbish the building, the FBI could move to Virginia or Maryland, leaving the current building to be torn down and likely replaced with a hotel that would compete with Trump’s hotel.

Military spending: Nearly $30 billion in the HEALS Act would be allocated in a brazen giveaway to the military. The bill includes billions for the Pentagon including $686 million for F-35 stealth fighters, $650 million for A-10 ground attack airplane wing replacements, $1.4 billion for four expeditionary medical ships, and $720 million for C-130J transport aircraft, $375 million for armored vehicles, $360 million for missile defense, and $283 million for Apache helicopters. This is reportedly being added to make up for money taken from the Pentagon for the border wall and comes after Congress recently passed a record military spending bill.

Paramedics taking a patient into an Emergency Room at Maimonides Medical Center in Brooklyn (Andrew Kelly/Reuters)

The Democrats Fail To Use Their Power

The Democrats control the House of Representatives. Nothing can pass the Senate without Democratic Party support. The Senate Republicans are divided and Trump is desperate to sign a bill. Polls show Republicans could lose the Senate so they need to pass a good bill. The political alignment favors the Democratic Party but it still isn’t doing what is needed.

The Democrats passed the HEROES (Health and Economic Recovery Omnibus Emergency Solutions) Act in May, a $3 trillion proposal compared to the $1 trillion HEALS Act. Two months ago this may have been adequate but now that figure needs to be increased as more jobs have been lost, state and city governments have lost income, and the cost of treating the virus has increased with more cases.

A “red line” for the Democrats should be funding state and local government with at least $1 trillion to continue basic services. More than 20 million people work for state and local governments such as firefighters, teachers, police, sanitation workers, and transportation workers. The Economic Policy Institute estimates 5.3 million jobs will be lost without state and local funding. President Trump and the Republicans do not want another massive increase in job loss, so the Democrats are in a strong position to make this demand.

The decrease in unemployment benefits should be another unacceptable “red line” as this will further shrink the economy. The Economic Policy Institute finds the loss of the extra $600 of unemployment benefits, which people are currently spending on basic needs, will result in the loss of an additional 3.4 million jobs.

One area where the Democrats can build on some agreement is the $1,200 COVID-19 relief payment to individuals. These payments are too small. A good COVID-19 relief package would increase payments to $2,000 per person monthly for the duration of the pandemic and recession for households earning under $150,000 as suggested by Sen. Bernie Sanders. This would slow the economic collapse and ease suffering.

It is essential to extend the moratorium on evictions not just for federally-subsidized housing, but the federal government should also cover rent and mortgage payments for the duration of the crises. Otherwise, millions of families will lose their homes in an election year, which should be politically unpalatable for both parties.

Health workers give people free Covid-19 tests in Arlington, Virginia, on May 26 (Olivier Douliery/AFP via Getty Images)

We Need a Plan

What is missing from both the Republican and Democratic bills is a strategy to control and stop the pandemic. The virus is 7 months old and still spreading rapidly. President Trump has failed to lead so Congress must do so. The bill should include a massive investment in making rapid testing available across the country. Every business and school should have rapid testing capability before they reopen. This should be combined with hiring 500,000 public health tracers so those who have been exposed to COVID-19 can be tracked to prevent further spread of the virus.

Everyone wants to restart the economy but this must be done safely. In addition to testing and tracing, workplaces and schools must be safe. School districts should decide whether to restart or continue web-based learning and should be supported by the federal government whatever they choose. Hundreds of thousands of tutors who can do one-on-one teaching to support web-based learning are needed. With high unemployment, especially among recent graduates and college students, there are people available to take on this task.

Congress should authorize OSHA to rapidly enact stringent standards for workplaces to reopen, along with funding for necessary safeguards. There should be increased funding for OSHA workplace inspections and investigations of inadequate safety. Employers who meet the standards for a safe workplace should have legal protection from frivolous lawsuits but employees should also have the right to sue if workplaces do not meet safety standards. This approach protects both workers and employers and will reduce the spread of the virus.

Neither party handled healthcare well even before the pandemic. COVID-19 has magnified the failure of for-profit healthcare. To stop the spread of the virus, Congress needs to break away from its privatized approach to healthcare. With the widespread job loss, 5.4 million workers lost their health insurance as did millions more family members. This is the largest decline in health insurance coverage in US history. The rapid response to this healthcare crisis should be the expansion of Medicare to everyone in the United States. Ideological opposition to publicly funded healthcare should not block this essential step. The long term failure of our healthcare system and widening health disparities demonstrate why we need a community-controlled, public, universal healthcare system.

Workers strike over safety (Yahoo Finance)

he People Must Rule, and Protect Ourselves

Congress and the President are unlikely to enact the laws needed to confront the pandemic and economic collapse. As a result, both will worsen. We will have to take action to protect ourselves and build popular power to win our demands.

We need to organize mutual aid to people meet people’s basic needs, such as for food and housing. Many cities have vacant buildings owned by the local and federal governments. As homelessness rises, these should be taken over to house people. We discuss the practical steps for taking over homes with Cheri Honkala this week on Clearing The FOG, (available as a podcast on Monday).

We build popular power by taking the streets as people have been doing for over two months now across the country, only buying essentials, refusing to pay rent or debt payments, blocking evictions and by building in our workplaces for a general strike.

Our actions must not be about which presidential candidate from the two parties of the millionaires to elect. Only one serious presidential campaign is right on COVID-19 and the economy, the Green candidates Howie Hawkins and Angela Walker. Our actions need to be about building a people’s movement that grows in power before and after the November elections. No matter who is elected, the people will need to resist, create new systems and rule from below.

Is a Second Trump Presidency a Lesser Evil Than a Biden Presidency?


In this essay I will sketch an outline for an argument that, from a left-wing and especially an environmentalist perspective, a second Trump presidency will be a lesser evil than a Biden presidency. Before doing so, I will discuss my personal views on lesser-of-two-evils voting, protest voting, and the article that led me to stumble onto the argument that voting for Trump is a lesser evil than voting for Biden.

For as long as I can remember I have been opposed to lesser-of-two evils voting. I have not voted for a Democrat for president since the first time Bill Clinton ran. In each of the subsequent presidential elections I have voted for the Green Party candidate.

On the one hand, over the years I’ve been involved in some intense arguments on the topic of lesser-of-two-evils voting. I have a vague recollection of a group argument in which someone was agreeing that lesser-of-two-evils voting was bad and that he would never do so after the upcoming election, but that the upcoming election was an exception because of how unusually bad the Republican candidate was. At that time the Republican candidate was George Bush, Jr. I am confident that this person probably backed off his claim, and voted for Hillary Clinton on a lesser-of-two-evils theory.

On the other hand, I often engage in self-reflection and question my view on the subject of lesser-of-two-evils voting as circumstances change. With an irrationally dangerous, and what I believe to be a mentally ill, candidate like Donald Trump I do question my official stance. While it is probable that I will vote for the Green Party candidate in the next presidential election, I won’t be positive until the time arrives. At this point we don’t know for sure that Biden will be the Democratic candidate. And we can’t be sure that Trump will be the Republican candidate. But Trump is clearly a problem and I note that, since Trump recently threatened to use the military to “dominate” protesters and/or rioters, both Kyle Kulinski and Krystal Ball have moved away from an inclination to not vote for Biden. Thus in the realm I somewhat misleadingly refer to as “left-wing millennial Internet TV,” that leaves Tim Black to hold down the fort.

While I do not know how all advocates of lesser-of-two-evils voting think, the ones I have encountered in person and in the press are implicitly arrogant. Their arrogance is reflected in their assumption that all rational people accept lesser-of-two-evils voting. The view seems to be that if someone votes for a third party they do so for one of two reasons. One is for the purposes of protest voting. The other reason is that the voter does accept lesser-of-two-evils voting but has simply run a different calculus. In other words, the arrogant assumption is that the second reason for voting for a third party, or not voting at all, is that the voter has applied a lesser-of-two-evils analysis and concluded that neither the Democratic or Republican presidential candidate is more or less evil than the other. This can be seen in what amounts to the at times somewhat hostile accusations: “for you there is no difference between the parties,” and “you don’t think there’s any difference between Hillary Clinton and Donald Trump.” The lesser-of-two-evils advocates I have seen cannot come to terms with a voter who will concede that the Republican party is generally worse than the Democratic Party, or that Donald Trump is worse than Hillary Clinton, and still not vote for the Democratic candidate. That is, the lesser-of-two-evils advocates that I have encountered simply cannot conceive of a reason to vote for a third party candidate other than on a basis of a lesser-of-two-evils calculus (or as a protest).

I used to think I understood the concept of protest voting. I knew what voting is and I knew what a protest is, and so I figured a person might somehow protest by voting. But then I saw the term “protest voting” applied to people like me who voted for third parties. This confused me because I had never seen my voting Green as a protest. And when I thought about this I realized that I didn’t know what protest voting was.

I thought of my voting in terms of the old fashioned view of liberal democracy that we learned in school. We live in a democracy and can vote for the president. So we study the issues, keep abreast of current events, and vote for the candidate or party that represents our values, political views or interests. In that way, by voting for a Green for president I didn’t see myself as any different from a Democratic or Republican voter.

And the more I thought about the concept of protest voting I began to wonder if such a thing is even possible. After thinking about it, I concluded that it is possible to protest by voting. I think I can do a protest vote by writing in a candidate’s name. So, for example, in the upcoming presidential election I can write in the name “Vladimir Putin” as my choice for president of the United States. That has to be seen as a protest. Even though the vote will not be associated with me personally, the local vote counters will see that there’s been a protest of some kind. And once they see it, the local press might be called in to report the protest. I’ve never tried that, but it might work as some sort of protest.

So my voting strategy is not to protest. As I’ve said, I vote for what I consider the best candidate or party. One of my original additional motivations for voting Green was to help build a true left-wing party. For that reason I did not agree with Ralph Nader’s strategy when he ran for president as the Green Party candidate. Nader’s strategy was to “nudge” the Democratic Party to the left. It’s not my project to nudge the Democratic Party anywhere. I don’t want to have anything to do with the Democratic Party. The point, however, is that my voting strategies have led me to reject lesser-of-two-evils voting.

In recent years I’ve developed an additional reason for rejecting lesser-of-two-evils voting. Lesser-of-two-evils voting allows the Democratic Party to move to the right. That is because if the Republican candidate is more reactionary than the Democratic candidate, then the Democratic candidate can move further to the right and still be the lesser evil as long as he or she does not become as reactionary as the Republican candidate. And the Democratic Party’s move to the right allows the Republican Party to move even further to the right. In other words, lesser-of-two-evils voting sets certain causal forces into operation and the result is to further reactionary values and corporate interests.

I now consider the argument that a second Trump presidency is a lesser evil than a Biden presidency. The argument is based on an article by Thomas Neuberger. In his article Neuberger does not even mention lesser-of-two-evils voting. Neuberger instead addresses the question stated in his article’s title: “What’s the Earliest a Progressive Democrat Can Be Elected President?” The article was originally published at Down With Tyranny. It was republished at Naked Capitalism. To answer the question, Neuberger considers five possible electoral scenarios and then derives four conclusions, or four answers, to the question. While I will list all of the conclusions, I will explain only two of the scenarios Neuberger considers. If I were to explain them all, I’d be repeating the short article. So I have chosen the scenarios that result in the soonest a progressive Democrat could be elected and the scenario that results in the longest period of time that Neuberger considers. These two examples will illustrate Neuberger’s methodology.

In Neuberger’s view the soonest a progressive Democrat can be elected president is in 2024. The scenario that leads to this possibility is that Trump beats Biden in the 2020 presidential election. Obviously with Biden out of the way a progressive Democrat can run and win in 2024. In the longest period of time before a progressive Democrat can be elected we have to wait until 2040. In this scenario Biden beats Trump in 2020 but does not run in 2024. In 2024 a neoliberal Democrat wins in both 2024 and 2028. This president’s neoliberal vice president wins in 2032 and 2036. So we have to wait another four years before a progressive Democrat can run and be elected.

Neuberger’s conclusions are as follows:

“We can run a progressive against a non-incumbent Democrat:

• In 2024 if Biden loses to Trump [in 2020].
• In 2028 if Biden wins [in 2020 and doesn’t run in 2024] and [Biden’s] VP[-cum Democratic presidential candidate] loses in 2024.
• In 2032 if Biden wins [in 2020], his VP wins next [in 2024] but loses in 2028.
• In 2036 or later in all other cases.”

This is a depressing article. Neuberger is, with good reason, a pessimist. Here’s what he says: “In other words, unless the Democratic Party becomes suddenly anti-neoliberal, the answer to our initial question—What’s the earliest a progressive Democrat can be elected president?–is Never or Too Late.” But why the pessimism? Why would it be too late? The answer lies in a political cartoon that appears in both versions of the article.

The cartoon depicts a small island on which someone says, “Be sure to wash your hands and all will be well.” About to crash on the island are three successive waves, any one of which will swamp the island. Each wave is massively larger than the one preceding it. The first wave is labeled “COVID 19,” the second is labeled “Recession,” and the third is labeled “Climate Change.” The carton suggests that the island will not survive.

The unstated premise in all of this is something the reader knows; that some experts say that we have only ten or twelve years in which to solve the problem of global warming or else it will be too late. Twelve years from 2024 is 2036. So Neuberger’s pessimistic conclusion is supported by the idea that a progressive Democrat will not be elected in time to prevent utter catastrophe.

Now some people, further left on the political spectrum than Neuberger, might think he’s being over optimistic. Why do we think a progressive Democratic President will take the necessary radical action? The term “progressive” is vague. But Neuberger explains what he means: “…a true progressive president, a real FDR, an unbought, skillful champion of the people who ‘welcomes the hatred’ of the rich and destructive and means it. Not a pretender; the real thing.” Some on the left will say that if we look at the role of progressive Democrats in passing the economic reform legislation in response to the COVID-19 crisis; they have not, with the exception of Pramila Jayapal, acquitted themselves well. But I have focused on the environmental issue and some progressive Democrats are making bold proposals with regard to environmental remedies. Let’s put aside leftist objections to Neuberger’s faith in progressive Democrats. Let’s beg all questions in Neuberger’s favor. We will assume that a progressive Democratic president is just what we need.

So we now need a progressive Democratic president. But after reading Neuberger’s depressing conclusion my eyes were focused on the line showing the the solution may come as soon as 2024. All that takes is Biden losing in 2020! So then why wouldn’t all enlightened voters, whatever their political views; conservative, centrist, liberal, socialist, communist, anarchist, whatever, vote for Trump? I may not be in the same political space Neuberger is in, but I think he’s raised some good points. To the extent Neuberger’s article has validity, I think it shows that voting for Trump is a lesser evil than voting for Biden.

I will now consider two objections to the thesis that voting for Trump is the lesser evil. The first has been raised by two friends.

The first objection arises from the view of Trump as agent of the Götterdämmerung. The idea is that Trump will become a dictator and so there won’t be an election in 2024. That results in an objection because if Trump becomes “president” in perpetuity, then there will be no action on global warming to prevent the third wave from crashing on the island. There will not be action within the ten to twelve years remaining to stave off catastrophe.

I’ve encountered two versions of the view that Trump is an agent of the Götterdämmerung. The strongest version of the view is simply irrelevant to the issue of lesser-of-two-evils voting. The strong view claims that there will not even be an election in 2020. That’s because Trump will postpone the election based on a claim of some emergency. Another variation of the view is that Trump will allow the election but declare it invalid on the basis of vote tampering by the Democrats if Biden receives more votes. Under either of these two scenarios whom one votes for, or wants to vote for, doesn’t matter. For that reason lesser-of-two-evils theory doesn’t come into play in a meaningful way.

So the objection to my argument is that there is an election in 2020, Trump wins the election, but then sometime between 2020 and 2024 establishes a dictatorship. In an argument with a friend holding the strong view of Trump as agent of the Götterdämmerung I suggested that a dictatorship was not plausible because the highest ranking members of the military probably took their oaths to the constitution seriously. My suggestion was shrugged off. But recent public statements by ex-generals in response to Trump’s threat to use the military to quell civilian riots suggests that the highest ranking members of the military do take seriously their oaths to support the constitution. So if Trump wants to establish a dictatorship, it’s not clear where the power to do so will come from.

The second objection has to do with the courts, especially the Supreme Court. The objection is that Biden is the lesser evil because if Trump is elected he and Mitch McConnell will continue appointing right-wing judges. The result will be the the Supreme Court will nullify any reforms adopted under a future progressive Democratic president and Congress. The court will do this by maintaining the notions that corporations are persons and that property ownership is a form of liberty. If remedial legislation to protect the environment sufficiently interferes with a corporation’s use of property, then the corporation’s liberty has been infringed. Therefore, the legislation is unconstitutional. The effect will be to delay action on the environment until it is too late.

If this objection is valid, then I acknowledge that it refutes the argument that Trump is the lesser evil. But it also fails to show that Biden is the lesser evil. That’s because of what Neuberger’s analysis shows; time is running out. Thus if the objection refutes the claim that Trump is the lesser evil, it also undermines the relevance of the lesser-of-two-evils theory to the upcoming election. That’s because both candidates present such an existential threat to life on the planet that lesser-of-two-evils theory does not determine who to vote for.

7/20/20: The Moment of Truth Is Now for COVID and Economic Relief

The US Senate returned to work this week after a two-week vacation during which COVID-19 exploded and the economy imploded. The moment of truth has now arrived. Will the House and Senate now bring forth a Covid relief package adequate to the Covid health and economic crises?

The last six months of the pandemic and economic collapse show that the two governing parties are presiding over a failed state. Most other organized societies have test, contract trace, and quarantine programs that have suppressed community spread of the virus and enabled a safe reopening of businesses and schools. The two major parties in the US have continued their dogmatic faith that private enterprise alone can deliver health care and economic recovery. It has been a dismal failure.

With 4% of the world’s population, the US has 25% of the world’s Covid deaths, more than 140,000 deaths so far, with public health experts predicting as many as 800,000 deaths by the end of the year.

Trump gave up. Covid won. Trump is a loser. But where is Biden? He lives within commuting distance of the White House press corps. He can command their attention as the presumptive Democratic nominee. Why isn’t he holding press conferences to pound away on the need for a test, trace, and quarantine program to suppress the virus and safely reopen the economy? He has only done one press conference with questions and answers since he became the presumptive nominee four months ago.

Meanwhile, the economy is now in a depression, with over 35 million unemployed, over 32 million receiving unemployment benefits, and six million dropping out of the labor force entirely since February. With tax revenues collapsing, the failure to provide federal funding to state and city governments risks the jobs of 22 million public sector workers. As of May, states and cities needed nearly $1 trillion in federal aid by this summer to keep operating without big layoffs of public workers.

The last COVID-19 bailout, the Paycheck Protection Program (PPP), turned into a feast of corruption by members of the Trump administration, Congress, and their families, donors, and political cronies. The disgrace was made worse because one-third of the people could not make their rent payments. 14 million children went hungry in June, three times the number of children who went hungry during the Great Recession, according to an analysis of Census data. The US government is infested with corporate crooks and flunkies. The next COVID-19 relief package must put in place protections against the theft of government funds by politicians, government insiders, and their confidants

Direct federal payments to individuals and small businesses are urgently needed if the US is to prevent long-term job loss by the destruction of Main Street small businesses, which accounted for nearly half of all jobs going into the COVID-19 economic lockdown.

The impact of the economic collapse will hit even harder next week because the temporary weekly increase of $600 in unemployment benefits ends on July 25, as does the federal moratorium on evictions from federally-subsidized housing.  The Census Bureau Household Pulse Survey found 30 percent of renters had little or no confidence that they could meet housing payments in August. 28 million people could face eviction by September. An estimated 27 million people have lost their employer-linked health insurance.

In April we put forward an urgent agenda to address COVID-19 and the economic collapse. The health and economic crises have only deepened since. This updated agenda for the duration of the crises needs to be enacted by Congress now.

  • Medicare to Pay for COVID-19 Testing and Treatment and All Emergency Health Care
  • Defense Production Act to Rapidly Plan the Production and Distribution of Medical Supplies and a Universal Test, Contact Trace, and Quarantine Program to Suppress the Virus so the Economy and Schools Can Be Safely Reopened
  • An OSHA Temporary Standard to Provide Enforceable PPE Protection for Workers
  • $2,000 a Month per Individual (Including Children) Making Less Than $120,000 a Year
  • Loans to All Businesses and Hospitals for Payroll and Fixed Overhead, To Be Forgiven If All Workers Are Kept on Payroll
  • Moratorium on Evictions, Foreclosures, and Utility Shutoffs
  • Cancel Rent, Mortgage, and Utility Payments; Federal Government Pays Those Bills; High-income People Pay Taxes on this Relief
  • Continue the expanded unemployment benefits that provide $600 to the amount received when people receive benefits.
  • Suspend Student Loan Payments with 0% Interest Accumulation
  • Federal Universal Rent Control
  • Aid to State and Local Governments Sufficient to Keep Essential Services Running
  • Emergency Funding to Cover US Postal Service Revenue Shortfalls Due to the COVID-19 Pandemic
  • Universal Mail-in Ballot Option for the 2020 General Election

The US needs to immediately hire several hundred thousand people to test and contact trace those infected or exposed to COVID-19. This program is essential to re-opening the economy and schools safely. It is unpardonable that the leadership of both governing parties have failed for six months into the pandemic to implement this basic public health measure to suppress the virus.

The housing crisis is becoming more acute. Even before the economic collapse, US cities suffered from chronic homelessness for hundreds of thousands of people. The homes for all program in the Hawkins/Walker Ecosocialist Green New Deal is a 10-year, $2.5 trillion program to build 25 million units of public housing to ensure that every person has access to affordable housing within a decade. The private housing market has never provided affordable housing for all.

Direct support to people must increase. Hawkins/Walker supports Senator Bernie Sanders’ Monthly Economic Crisis Support Act that would provide a monthly $2,000 check to every person, children included, making less than $120,000 a year. This support must continue until the US achieves economic recovery.

With consumer demand depressed, private investors are not risking job-creating new investments. Economic recovery requires public investment, with an immediate investment on the order of $4 trillion and a long-term public investment of the same yearly scale to sustain an economic recovery and to address the looming economy-killer in the background, the climate emergency.

Hawkins/Walker have called for the Green New Deal to be the engine of the recovery. The 10-Year, $42 Trillion budget for an Ecosocialist Green New Deal would create 38 million new jobs by rebuilding all our production systems for zero-to-negative greenhouse gas emissions, zero-waste recycling, and 100% clean renewable energy by 2030 in order to reverse the climate crisis and other environmental problems. It will employ public enterprise and planning, particularly in the energy, transportation, and manufacturing sectors, in order to make the clean energy transformation in a decade. The Economic Bill of Rights in the program will end poverty and economic insecurity through a job guarantee, a guaranteed income above poverty, Medicare for All, and doubling of Social Security benefits to provide a secure retirement for all seniors.

The COVID-19 health and economic crises are devastating. But they also present us with the opportunity to institute economic justice, public health, and climate protection measures that will build a sustainable prosperity for our future.

Tweedledee, Tweedledum, COVID-19, and China in the U.S. Election

Trump’s Main Crime is Criminal Negligence

Trump cannot turn back time and re-do February and early March. He cannot undo the damage caused by his inaction on the virus. The fact is, tens of thousands of people in this country became infected while the president pooh-poohed the problem. He showed ignorance and indifference, acting belatedly–as we (some of us) now know, too late to successfully contain the pandemic.

COVID-19 is now out of control, not peaking, not leveling off but rising. Projections of 200,000 dead by October now seem wildly optimistic as we pass 140,000 July 15. The insistence of the president on the reopening of schools next month, and his threat to deny them funds if they refuse, seems under the circumstances both foolish and cruel, and bound to spread the virus.

The Democratic Party, enraged at its failure in 2016, could not blame itself and its decision to nominate a vicious militarist and stalwart of the Wall Street establishment, Hillary Clinton. So it selected the traditional bugaboo–the Soviets (oops, the Russians)–accusing Trump of colluding with an “adversary” to undermine American democracy and shockingly deny the rightful queen her coronation.

Failing to find a case for impeachment on such grounds (2017-2019), they impeached Trump for delaying the shipment of weapons to Ukraine (to be deployed against Russian-backed forces) (2019-2020) but again failed to drive him from office. The Democratic leadership has combined its criticisms of the president with a solid defense of the anti-Russian foreign policy of past administrations, expressing outrage at his troop withdrawals, his rejection of “regime change” in Syria, his questioning of NATO’s ongoing relevance, his churlish behavior towards allies, his failure to heed dubious intelligence about Russian “bounties” paid to Taliban forces to kill Americans, etc.

They promise a return to normalcy–think Hillary Clinton normalcy in foreign policy.

Trump deserves to be defeated for his main offenses, including the forcible separation of immigrant parents and children, the violent clearing of a street filled with demonstrators to allow him to wave a Bible in front of a church, and most of all, criminal neglect in his response to the virus. His mishandling of COVID-19 has been such a spectacular failure that you’d think it would doom his prospects for reelection. Indeed talking heads on cable TV seem increasingly confident that Trump’s inept handling of COVID-19, along with his racist response to Black Lives Matter protests, will insure his defeat in November. They seem always to be talking about how Trump is dropping in the polls.

But It Doesn’t Matter to His Base

However, FiveThirtyEight.com shows Trump’s approval rate–which began at 45.5% (on Jan. 24, 2017) and has at its very lowest been 36.7% (Dec. 16, 2017)–has been over 40% since February 2020. It was as high as 45.8% as recently as April 1! On July 14 it was 40.4%. Thus throughout the period of the plague, the president has enjoyed consistent support, especially among under-educated males. The fact that face masks have become politicized speaks volumes on the power of the uneducated.

In other words, the thing that should most damn Trump in fact leaves his fans unfazed. So far, at least. And in the difficult months ahead, as the virus spreads, producing unexpected new tensions and turmoil, they may blame not Donald Trump but CHINA and think Trump’s much better able to handle China than Biden.

Another recent poll shows that 33% of respondents support Trump’s response to the coronovirus and 32% his handling of race matters. This is the one-third of the electorate that accepts Trump at his most ignorant and racist. To retain Trump he will continue to downplay the virus and undermine the authority of his medical advisors, including Dr. Fauci (as he has done indirectly through his trade advisor Peter Navarro’s USA Today editorial attack on the doctor). He will deflect attention from his inaction by harping on the Chinese origins of the virus, the alleged “cover-up,” and Chinese delay in reporting human transmission. He will keep alluding to the “Chinese Communist Party” as somehow culpable. He will allege a Chinese plot to destroy the western economies with the plague while China itself keeps infection numbers low (and laughs at us in our pain).

Both Trump and Biden Are Mired in the Cold War

Thus while the Democrats maintain a Cold War mentality towards Russia as the eternal “adversary,” Trump is coming to depict China–“Communist China”–in that role. Regardless of his personal rapport with President Xi Jinping, whom he has not spoken with for months, he has to blame somebody for his problems. He plainly resents the virus for ruining the best economy in the history of the world, something NOT HIS FAULT as he keeps repeating, and jeopardizing his reelection prospects.

Trump’s inclination is to ratchet up tensions with China. U.S. measures to punish Hong Kong following the passage of the new national security law; provocative naval missions in the South China Sea; attacks on Chinese firms; criticism of human rights all keep Sino-U.S. relations tense. This is not good news for, say, soybean farmers who have permanently lost the Chinese market to Brazil. But it works with much of the base–the sort of supporters who will accept Trump’s claim that “China wants Sleepy Joe sooo badly … Joe is an easy mark, their DREAM CANDIDATE!”or more recently in a Rose Garden homily: “Joe Biden’s entire career has been a gift to the Chinese Communist Party and to the calamity of errors that they’ve made.”

But meanwhile, in our Tweedledee-Tweedledum political system, the Democrats depict Trump as the dupe. A Biden ad from April claims that in the early days of the virus Trump “rolled over for the Chinese.” Over footage of Chinese security forces Biden declares: “I would be on the phone with China and making it clear: ‘We are going to need to be in your country. You have to be open. You have to be clear. We have to know what’s going on.’” (The Trump administration did repeatedly offer to send specialists to China to help investigate the outbreak. Biden implies that he should have insisted; surely countries if told by the U.S. “we need to be in your country” should obey!) Biden is loudly condemning Chinese actions in Hong Kong and against Uighurs, threatening sanctions.

Do not expect the Democrats to mitigate the Republicans’ China-bashing; the two parties will compete to promote the image of China as a frighteningly powerful economic giant that got that way by not playing fair, stealing our intellectual property, taking our jobs, manipulating exchange rates, and using prison labor. The PRC’s effort to develop islands it claims in the South China Sea will not be discussed in intelligent historical terms but Beijing will be accused of illegally building on and militarizing dozens of islands it claims. (The current policy, which the State Department retains from the Obama era, is to challenge all Chinese claims in a region traversed by Chinese mariners for 2000 years instead supporting the claims of the other claimant parties including Vietnam and the Philippines.)

Some of the more “left” people around Biden including Asian-American activist Cecilia Wang protested the China ad, warning that Biden was “already trying to out-Trump Trump.This kind of fearmongering,” she added, “is causing violent attacks on Asian Americans.” But he’s doubled down on China criticism in recent days. Biden wants to draw in progressives, BLM, former Sanders supporters etc. But he remains a Wall Street politician with a lifelong record of service to the military-industrial complex and support for imperialist wars.

Biden: Arrogant Opportunist, Imperialist, Entitled, Doddering Old Fool

Biden poses as the sensitive guy, the candidate African-Americans love, a decent man equipped to lead the campaign against COVID-19. Surely he thinks he will win. And advisors no doubt tell him (as the disgraced MSNBC commentator Chris Matthews used to say), “Americans don’t care about foreign policy.” They don’t need to know Biden’s advisors oppose Afghan withdrawal; still want Syrian regime change; still want Ukraine and Georgia to join NATO; support the Jerusalem embassy move and recommend a “more unified and robust defense of U.S. and allied security interests wherever Moscow challenges them” (as Victoria Nuland wrote the other day in Foreign Affairs). The hope is that the masses will reason: Trump is a moron and a racist. Biden is slowing down mentally but decent and not so racist.

(As evidence of the latter: when to balance the ticket, Obama needed a white Wall Street insider–with a history of opposing school busing, working with southern segregationists, representing credit card companies, cultivating police unions, supporting wars based on lies, mistreating Anita Hill–he offered the job to Biden. Biden agreed to accept it and serve as the First Black President’s loyal sidekick. That has endeared him to the church hat ladies in the Democratic Party, although not to African-American youth who like white and Hispanic youth favored Sanders in the primaries. Many find Biden’s record on race wanting.)

But what if the masses think: Biden–while decent in some ways–is more likely to start another war? What does it mean when a Biden aide says Biden will review the decision to pull 9,500 troops from Germany because he has “profound problems” with the move? Some of us think that there should be no troops in Germany at all. What does it mean that Biden advisors want to maintain the Afghan base of Bagram permanently? Or that they advise “pushing back against Chinese expansion” in the body of water called the South China Sea? Or a “more robust response” to Russia in its own immediate periphery?

I’m not suggesting such considerations will determine the election. Chris Matthews was probably right. But those who suppose it obvious that Biden represents a return to decent normalcy should recognize that Trump’s five predecessors all started wars–in Grenada, Panama, Iraq, Bosnia, Serbia, Afghanistan, Iraq again, Libya, Syria–and that this is part of capitalist-imperialist normalcy. The normalcy that should be ripped down along with the racist monuments, erased with the renamings.

Obama retains a reputation in some quarters as a decent man. Perhaps. But he hired Hillary Clinton, a vicious war-monger, again in his need to “bring people together” in a “cabinet of rivals….” Recall how totally centrist he tried to be! And when Hillary begged him to bomb Libya (as she had begged Bill to bomb Bosnia), he agreed. In consequence North Africa’s most advanced state was totally destroyed. Decent Joe could similarly hire Victoria Nuland or someone of her ilk hell-bent on projecting U.S. power in the world after this wimpy period of Trump’s inaction.

Not Necessarily Better than Trump

I do not agree that Trump is worse than Biden. Forgive me, friends, but I am thinking about the impact of the U.S. president in this world that has suffered racist terror from the United States and its military forces throughout this century. There is a long distance between Wounded Knee, South Dakota and Fallujah in Iraq. But there’s an unbroken thread between the ideology of massacre of Lakotas in 1890 and the ideology of massacre of Iraqis in 2003. It’s called white supremacy.

Maj. Beau Biden “served” (as they say) in the bleeding, destroyed, Iraq in 2008-9, helping to put down resistance to the illegal invasion based on lies supported by his dad. (He was there when the famous Abu Ghraib prison was reopened for about 10,000 prisoners.) His father was so proud of him! And all the media people ever talking to dear Beau thanked him for his service as they must do….in this free society in which everybody is free to praise and thank the military.

Trump is disgusting, moronic, ridiculous, and misanthropic, a pathetic inarticulate buffoon. His mind is narrow, dark and solipsistic; he resents all slights like a pampered child. He has the mentality of a middle school bully-cum-high school rapist. It is painful to watch his sneering presentations in which he strains the viewer’s patience with his infantile proclamations delivered in that pompous lecturing tone punctuated by the jerky body language, persistent nasal snorts and sometimes slurred speech. He is a hideous person, a representative of a grotesque heritage of racism, sexism, misogyny, homophobia, and religious bigotry. Plus the buffoonish reality-TV-show and beauty-pageant showmanship. The mix of smirky expansiveness–that broad flashy grim–with mental vacuity (both not unique to him, by the way; he shares these with George W. Bush) make me sick to my stomach as I think of him back in office.

But Biden is disgusting too, in different ways. He’s also cocky, in an a old-white-man sort of way. He also thinks he’s charming and feels entitled. Elected to the Senate at age 30, running for president in 1988 (curtailed abruptly as you recall by the plagiarism scandal) and again 2008, he obtained the number two position and did what he needed to do. The next natural step–that Beau had urged upon him!–was to seek the presidency. As the most conservative figure among the huge field of Democratic prospects this year, he deserved the support of the DNC–whose main purpose (as you know) was to crush Bernie Sanders and any discussion of “socialism” in this country, ever. He’s just what the doctor ordered: anti-single payment healthcare; anti-police defunding; anti-free college education if willing to compromise to win support.

He’s also on board the traditional bipartisan consensus that never, ever even thinks to challenge the need to maintain 800 military bases in 177 countries when all the other overseas military bases in the world number fewer than 30.

Biden is short-tempered, and has been caught on tape acting like an angry drunk. He shows signs of dementia. He reportedly touches inappropriately. Like Trump, he sometimes says things that make no sense. (With Biden, you notice, he loses track of the end of the sentence and gives up, laughing at himself. With Trump, it’s a matter of looking at the teleprompter, misreading and making no sense but delivering anyway with a stupid form of confidence hoping no one will notice.) His response to radio host Charlamagne in his May 22 interview tells us a lot. Biden cut short a 20-minute interview because he had other things to do, so Charlamagne invited him back for more discussion.

“You’ve got more questions?,” asked the visibly annoyed Biden. “I’ll tell you, if you have a problem figuring out whether you’re for me or for Trump, then you ain’t Black.” That he almost immediately apologized after being drowned in angry criticism does not negate the fact that Biden thinks Blacks owe him. And that everybody who pukes at Trump will automatically embrace him because “our system” only allows two choices, between two Wall Street parties. He imagines perhaps that the masses love him as the only savior.

Mercutio

But I return again always to Shakespeare’s Mercutio, in this plague year. Stabbed by friend Romeo in the Verona town square, victim of a quarrel that had nothing to do with him, Mercutio swore: “A plague on both your houses!”

May this multi-tiered crisis undermine the system itself, such that we can dream beyond the aging airheads Tweedledee and Tweedledum. Whoever wins, in the real world (as opposed to the world of the ballot box) we will in the aftermath need to tear down not just statues but institutions. We could begin with closing military bases and defunding police. In these matters Biden is surely no better than Trump.

A plague on elections that offer no future, and candidates whose integrity can’t match that of the principled window-smasher or focused arsonist. People who wouldn’t be talking about police murder as they do recently had not the youth of Minneapolis shocked the shit out them by torching the police precinct office where George Floyd’s murderers had been headquartered. This at least is my personal assessment. There was a rapid arc between street demonstrations and the occupation of the area, clashes with police, police retreat, the storming of the building and its systematic, controlled cremation of the building while mostly white people looked on somberly. That was a powerful moment. A statement of rage and loss of patience.

Would that the energy in the streets remain in the streets; my adult children are out there. (I worry about them, being bi-racial, in LA, and potentially in risky situations with police.) I should be out there too; I can in good conscience march around Boston Common. But I can’t vote for Biden or Trump.

Good News from Washington: AIPAC, Israel Losing to Progressive Democrats

While the US administration of President Donald Trump remains adamant in its support for Israel, the traditional democratic leadership continues to employ underhanded language, the kind of ‘strategic ambiguity’ that offers full support to Israel and nothing but lip service to Palestine and peace.

Trump’s policies on Israel and Palestine have been damaging, culminating in the outrageously unfair ‘Deal of the Century’, and his administration remains largely committed to the trend of growing affinity between the Republican establishment and the Israeli right-wing camp of Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu.

The views of the Democratic leadership, represented in the presumptive Democratic challenger in the upcoming November election, Joe Biden, are still those of a bygone era, when the Democrats’ unconditional love for Israel equaled that of Republicans. It is safe to say that those days are drawing to an end, for successive opinion polls are reaffirming the changing political landscape in Washington.

Once upon a time, America’s political elite, whose politics diverged on many issues, wholeheartedly agreed on one single foreign policy matter: their country’s blind and unconditional love and support for Israel. In those days, the influential pro-Israel lobby group, the American Israel Public Affairs Committee (AIPAC) ruled the roost, reigning supreme in the US Congress and, almost single-handedly, decided on the fate of Congressmen and women based on their support, or lack thereof, of Israel.

While it is too early to proclaim that ‘those days are over,’ judging by the vastly changing political discourse on Palestine and Israel, the many opinion polls, and the electoral successes of anti-Israeli occupation candidates in national and local elections, one is compelled to say that AIPAC’s tight grip on US foreign policy is finally loosening.

Such a statement may seem premature considering the current administration’s unparalleled bias towards Israel – the illegal US embassy move from Tel Aviv to Jerusalem, the dismissal of the ‘Right of Return’ for Palestinian Refugees, and the administration’s support of the Israeli plan to illegally annex parts of the West Bank, and so on.

However, a distinction must be made between support for Israel among the ruling, the increasingly isolated clique of politicians, and the general mood of a country that, despite numerous infringements on democracy in recent years, is still, somewhat democratic.

On June 25, a whopping number of nearly 200 Democratic House members, including some of the most staunch supporters of Israel, called, in a letter, on Netanyahu and other top Israeli officials to scrap their plan to illegally annex nearly 30 percent of the West Bank.

“We express our deep concern with the stated intention to move ahead with any unilateral annexation of West Bank territory, and we urge your government to reconsider plans to do so,” the letter said, in part.

While the wording of the letter was far from being dubbed ‘threatening’, the fact that it was signed by stalwart Israeli allies, such as Florida Congressman, Ted Deutch and Illinois Congressman, Brad Schneider, speaks volumes about the shifting discourse on Israel among the center and even conservative corners of the Democratic Party. Among the signers were also prominent figures in the Democratic establishment, like Congresswoman Debbie Wasserman Schultz and House Majority Leader, Steny Hoyer.

Equally important, is that the influence of the younger and more progressive generation of Democratic politicians continues to push the boundaries of the party’s discourse on Israel, thanks to the tireless work of Rep. Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez and her colleagues. Along with a dozen Democratic lawmakers, Ocasio-Cortez issued another letter on June 30, this time addressed to US Secretary of State, Mike Pompeo.

Unlike the first letter, the second one was assertive and markedly daring. “Should the Israeli government continue down this path (of annexation), we will work to ensure non-recognition of annexed territories as well as pursue legislation that conditions the $3.8 billion in US military funding to Israel to ensure US taxpayers are not supporting annexation in any way,” the letter read, in part.

Imagine if this exact wording was used by Democratic representatives in July 1980, when the Israeli Parliament unlawfully annexed East Jerusalem in an action that was – and remains – contrary to international law. The fate of these politicians would have been similar to the fate of others who dared to speak out at the risk of losing their seats in Congress; in fact, their political careers altogether.

But times have changed. It is quite unusual, and refreshing, to see AIPAC scrambling to put out the many fires ignited by the new radical voices among Democrats.

The reason that it is no longer easy for the pro-Israel lobby to maintain its decades-long hegemony over Congress is that the likes of Ocasio-Cortez are, themselves, a byproduct of the generational and, likely, irreversible change that has taken place among Democrats over the years.

The trend of polarization of American public opinion regarding Israel goes back nearly twenty years, when Americans began viewing their support for Israel based on party lines. More recent polls suggest that this polarization is growing. A Pew opinion poll published in 2016 showed that sympathy for Israel among Republicans morphed to an unprecedented 74% while falling among Democrats to 33%.

Then, for the first time in history, support for Israel and Palestinians was almost equally split among Democrats; 33% and 31% respectively. This was a period in which we began seeing such unusual mainstream news headlines as, “Why Democrats are abandoning Israel?”

This ‘abandonment’ continued unabated, as more recent polls have indicated. In January 2018, another Pew survey showed that the Democrats’ support for Israel dwindled to reach 27%.

Not only are the rank-and-file of Democrats walking away from Israel as a result of the growing awareness of Israel’s relentless crimes and violent occupation in Palestine, young Jews are also doing the same.

The changing views on Israel among young American Jews are finally paying dividends, to the extent that, in April 2019, Pew data concluded that Jewish Americans, as a whole, are now far more likely (42%) than Christians to say that President Trump was “favoring the Israelis too much.”

While many Democrats in Congress are increasingly in touch with the views of their constituencies, those at the helm, such as Biden, remain stubbornly committed to agendas that are championed by AIPAC and the rest of the old guard.

The good news from Washington is that, despite Trump’s current support for Israel, an incremental, but lasting structural change continues to take place among Democratic Party supporters everywhere and throughout the country. More sobering news is that Israel’s traditional stronghold over the country’s Jewish communities is faltering – and quickly so.

While AIPAC is likely to continue using and improvising on old tactics to protect Israel’s interests at the US Congress, the long-dubbed ‘powerful lobby’ will unlikely be able to turn back time. Indeed, the age of total dominance of Israel over the US Congress is likely over, and hopefully, this time, for good.

Will Biden Remain Tone Deaf to Palestinian Rights?

Joe Biden wants you to believe that he is opposed to Israel’s likely annexation of parts of the West Bank that Netanyahu plans to carry out in July. “I do not support annexation,” he said during a call with American Jewish donors on June 16. But only a month ago, Biden senior foreign policy advisor Tony Blinken insisted that under absolutely no circumstances, not even the annexation of the West Bank, would Biden consider reducing or withholding U.S. military aid to Israel. And contrary to the position of his former boss, President Obama, Biden also pledged that if elected, he would keep disagreements with Israeli policies private.

That’s not what the American people want. In a new Washington Post poll, 67 percent of respondents said that it is “acceptable” or actually the duty of elected representatives to question the Israeli-American relationship. Among Democrats, that number was an overwhelming 81 percent.

The call to be more openly critical of Israeli policy reflects Israel’s continued lurch to the right and President Trump’s embrace of that, as well as diligent campaigning by Palestinian-Americans and progressive American Jews. Another factor was the example set by Jewish presidential candidate Bernie Sanders, who talked passionately about Palestinian rights.

This sentiment that U.S. leaders must take a critical look at Israeli policies is reflected in a letter recently sent to Biden by over 100 groups, calling on him to adopt policies toward the Israeli government and Palestinian people “based on the priciples of equality and justice for all.” Endorsers of the letter include the American Friends Service Committee, American Muslims for Palestine, CODEPINK, Council on American-Islamic Relations (CAIR), If Not Now and Jewish Voice for Peace.

The letter came out of concern that Biden’s positions on Israel/Palestine are to the right of those of President Obama—who openly clashed with Israel regarding such issues as settlements and the Iran nuclear deal—and only a pinch less hawkish than those of Trump.

Biden’s positions were made painfully clear in a May 18 statement on his campaign website entitled Joe Biden and the Jewish Community: a record and a plan of friendship, support, and action. It opened by conflating the Jewish state with Jewish values, and went on to brag about Biden’s role in increasing military aid to Israel at the end of the Obama administration. It also promised that Biden, in violation on the First Amendment, would continue attacks on individuals and organizations that boycott Isrrael for political reasons and referred to Palestinian “choices” to commit violence.

Within days of the statement’s release, the backlash was so fierce that the degrading language of Palestinian “choices” was removed. But the statement remains a testament to Biden’s unwavering support for the right-wing Netayahu government.

While Biden represents a candidate who is tone deaf to changing U.S. sentiment towards Israel, many in the Democratic party are leaving him in the dust. The sea change among Democrats in general, and young Jews in particular, was best captured in a few key moments during the Democratic presidential race. The first was in March 2019, when eight out of the ten Democratic presidential candidates refused to attend the conference sponsored by the American-Israel Public Affairs Committee (AIPAC), recognizing the pro-Israel lobby as an impediment to achieving a just and lasting peace in Palestine/Israel. Another key moment was at the October 2019 conference organized by the liberal Jewish group J Street, when the audience burst into applause after then candidate Bernie Sanders suggested leveraging the $3.8 billion the U.S. gives to Israel towards pushing Israel to respect Palestinian human rights. On the debate stage during the primaries, Bernie Sanders was also lauded for accurately referring to Saudi Arabia’s Mohammed bin Salman as a murderer and Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu as a racist.

When Sanders suspended his run for the Democratic nomination, Biden indicated that he would integrate some of the politics of the party’s progressive wing to reflect the energized grassroots movement the Sanders campaign had built. He set up task forces to focus on health care, immigration, education, criminal justice reform, climate change and the economy, and tapped popular politicians such as Progressive Caucus co-chair Rep. Pramila Jayapal and Rep. Alexandria Ocasio Cortez. But no task force was set up for foreign policy, and Biden has done nothing to incorporate progressive concerns into his Israel/Palestine platform.

That’s why the letter to Biden by over 100 organizations is so critical. It points out that by giving Israel “unlimited diplomatic protection and massive military financing,” the US “has enabled the country to entrench its occupation, expand its illegal settlements, impose a 13-year-long siege and wage three wars against Gaza, pass laws that officially deny equal rights to Israeli citizens who are not Jewish, all under the veneer of peacemaking.” The letter lays out the tenets of a strategy based on fairness and equality, including:

  • explicit opposition to Israel’s occupation of the West Bank, including East Jerusalem, and its unlawful blockade (abetted by Egypt) of the Gaza Strip;
  • recognition of Israel’s obligations toward the inhabitants of the Gaza Strip, a protected population, according to international law;
  • support for conditioning U.S. military funding to Israel on an end to Israeli violations of Palestinian human rights and adherence to all relevant U.S. laws;
  • support for H.R. 2407, the “Promoting Human Rights for Palestinian Children Living Under Israeli Military Occupation Act,” to ensure that no U.S. dollars contribute to Israel’s a military detention, interrogation, abuse and/or other ill-treatment of Palestinian children;
  • calling on Israel’s government to repeal the Jewish Nation-State Basic Law and to ensure that Palestinian citizens of Israel and other non-Jewish citizens in the country enjoy equal rights with Jewish citizens by passing a basic law guaranteeing those rights;
  • opposition to the use of U.S. security assistance against protected populations, including in Gaza, and calling on Israel’s government  to protect civilians from settler violence;
  • support for Palestinian refugee rights consistent with international law and relevant UN resolutions;
  • promise to relocate the U.S. Embassy back to Tel Aviv until such time as the international status of East Jerusalem has changed from its current status as occupied territory;
  • a promise to provide full U.S. cooperation with the International Criminal Court’s investigation into alleged war crimes committed by all sides in the West Bank, including East Jerusalem, and the Gaza Strip;
  • rejection of U.S. recognition of Israeli sovereignty over any territories now occupied, absent an internationally recognized final agreement with the Palestinians.

The groups want Biden to oppose illegal and immoral Israeli policies such as annexation with deeds, not just words. To be fair, Biden is far from the only Democratic Party leader paying lip service to opposing annexation while acting to maintain the status quo. Recently, 120 lawmakers in the House and 30 in the Senate sent letters voicing their opposition to annexation. They include such stalwart backers of Israel as Chuck Schumer, Robert Menendez, Ben Cardin, and Steny Hoyer. Hoyer is known for being the closest member of Congress to AIPAC and Schumer, Cardin, and Menendez were three of the only four Senate Democrats to support Israel’s opposition to the Iran nuclear deal in 2015. They are also leaders of the Israel Anti-Boycott Act to outlaw the boycott, divestment, and sanctions movement, even at the expense of the First Amendment. While it is a remarkable achievement that so many Democratic lawmakers registered their opposition to annexation, without measures to hold Israel accountable such statements are toothless.

With annexation imminent, a case pending in the International Criminal Court for war crimes, and Gaza trapped in a 12-year-long siege complicated by a pandemic, the stakes are high. Biden’s unconditional support for Israel’s rightwing government is not only less and less popular among Americans, but it guarantees continued repression against Palestinians and continued unrest in the region. Let’s hope this letter from over 100 organizations shows Biden the widespread support for him to shed his ”Israel-right-or-wrong” position and instead openly and explicitly distinguish right from wrong.

Do Not Belittle Protesters in the U.S. by calling their Struggle a “Color Revolution”

For almost a decade, I have been covering “Color Revolutions” in virtually all parts of the world. While making a film for TeleSur, I was facing Egyptian tanks, risking my life under sniper fire, getting roughed-up in the middle of clashes of the supporters of al-Sisi and Morsi.

Together with Syrian commanders, I was also facing the terrorists in Idlib; challenged the Ukrainian fascists; encountering Bolivian indigenous elders high in the Altiplano after the revolution of Evo Morales and MAS was crashed by the U.S.-sponsored coup in 2019. I regularly worked in Venezuela, Lebanon, and Iraq. And, of course, again and again, I have been returning to Hong Kong, reporting on systematic Western attempts to radicalize SAR’s youth and to harm China.

I mention all this just in order to establish that I am very well aware of how those “Color Revolutions” are triggered and implemented.

“Color Revolutions!” Unlike many “analysts” who are now tossing this term left and right, often without ever experiencing the events first hand, I spoke with the people on the ground, examining dynamics, asking endless questions. On many occasions, I was risking my life to get a philosophical context and the story right.

Frankly, I am sick of conspiracy theories, ignorance, clichés, and arrogance of those “analysts” who, from the comfort of their couch, somewhere in Europe or North America, are passing judgments and conclusions, with that proud look of superiority.

Since the police murdered Mr. Floyd in Minneapolis, since the United States literally exploded, since the African Americans, Native Americans and other appallingly oppressed people went to the streets in hundreds of the cities demanding justice; a substantial group of mainly white ‘we-know-everything’ ‘analysts’ began belittling protesters, calling them ‘violent,’ calling them ‘riots,’ calling them ‘creations of Soros and the Zionists’! And at the end, with dark sarcasm, declaring that the United States itself is now suffering from what it has been spreading all over the world for years – from the so-called “Color Revolution.”

Many of those ‘analysts’ became so aggressive and vocal that they literally managed to monopolize the ‘alternative narrative.’ Suddenly, there was hardly any space left for those of us who were continuously writing, using traditional internationalist, left-wing perspective.

*****

First of all, even the term itself – “Color Revolutions” – became a bad cliché.

The Western empire has been destroying the world for some 500+ years, in the most brutal ways imaginable. Hundreds of millions of lives were lost. Entire continents were plundered. People have been enslaved.

At the end of the colonial era, in various parts of our planet, at least some semi-independence was achieved. But countless governments in Africa, Asia, the Middle East, and Latin America were still taking diktat directly from Washington, London, Paris, and other Western capitals.

After the collapse of the Soviet Union, the situation looked desperate. But with the rise of China and Russia, as well as Iran, great hope returned, and many countries embarked on the second stage of de-colonialization.

The process was confused and confusing. Each country was different. There were attempts to trigger real revolutions (Egypt), but there were also some clearly anti-revolutionary and right-wing movements (Syria, Ukraine) born.

In many countries where genuine grievances of the people brought masses to the streets, masses which were demanding mainly social and political reforms, the West quickly infiltrated several movements and literally kidnaped the revolutions. This is what happened in Egypt, but also, a few years later, in Lebanon and Iraq.

But to claim that Egypt had not attempted a revolution would be insulting, patronizing, and incorrect! Egypt was suffering from the terrible pro-Western regime and from the military. Egyptian people rose. I was working with a group of Marxist doctors during the process; I saw it all, from the ground, so to speak. But the revolution was infiltrated and finally destroyed.

Cairo battles

In Lebanon, too. For five years, I was based there; in Beirut and Asia. People were fed up with the so-called ‘confessional democracy,’ of the religions tearing-apart the nation, of savage capitalism, collapsed infrastructure, and non-existent social services. Hezbollah, hated by the West and Israel, has been the only solid provider of social services to all deprived Lebanese people, for years and decades. And so, in Lebanon, too, people rose. Late, in 2019, but rose. Sure, a few weeks after, I began spotting clenched fists of “Odpor” and “Canvas” on the Martyr’s Square (those used in Serbia, when President Milosevich was forced out of power, with full sponsorship of the West). Sure, the West began supporting rebels, because it wanted to get rid of Hezbollah, which has been part of the ruling coalition. But people of Lebanon do have thousands of legitimate grievances; reasons to rebel. However, the West has been skillfully infiltrating and, to some extent, manipulating the uprising, which is still going on until this day. And we have no idea where it is all going to lead.

Lebanon

Do you see how complex the situation is? It does not fit any of the simplifications, and clichés! And, of course, it is even more complicated than how I describe it here. It takes entire books to explain.

Syria

Syria: another totally different story, and absolutely distinctive species of “Color Revolutions,” if it is how you want to call it. Some grievances, yes. But also, a solid pan-Arab socialist state, which the West, Saudis, Qataris, Israelis, and other allies of Washington wanted desperately to destroy; government they were aiming to overthrow. After a relatively mild rebellion in Aleppo and Holms, supported by Gulf states coalition, and the West, Saudis and Turks began injecting monstrous, murderous combat forces into Syria from ISIS to Uyghurs, and everything in between.

All these cases of interference from the West are totally distinctive, although some patterns can be detected. And we are still in the same cultural and geographical area.

Maidan from above

Now look further away: Bolivia, Cuba, Venezuela, Iran, Hong Kong (China).

In all these places, there are direct interventions, clear counter-revolution! It is financed, supported, and coordinated from Washington, London, Berlin, Paris, and other Western capitals.

Victims of the coup: indigenous elders

In Bolivia, white, racist, fundamentalist Christian elites overthrew, with the full support of the White House, the legitimate multi-cultural, democratic, and enormously successful government of President Evo Morales. It was done after agitation by a small sector of Bolivians, clearly financed from abroad and by the local elites. One month after the coup, I was working all over the Altiplano, taking down testimonies of indigenous people who were humiliated, tortured, abused, even killed by a new illegitimate regime.

That’s quite different ‘scenario,’ isn’t it; different from that in Lebanon, Syria, and Egypt? Is it really legitimate to hide it all under one single “Color Revolutions” label?

Look at Cuba: decades and decades of terror against this marvelous island! Passenger airplanes being blown out of the sky. Countless assassination plots against its leaders. Chemical warfare, biological warfare, the bombing of cafes, restaurants, and hotels. All proven and documented. And constant attempts to recruit, radicalize Cuban citizens – to force them against their own government.

Venezuela, a nation that offered tremendous hope to the entire divided continent. Venezuela compassionate, brave, built on solidarity. Look what has been done to her. One coup attempt after another. Embargos. Recruitment of treasonous cadres. Attacks from neighboring Colombia. Another “Color Revolution?” Or merely a campaign of terror?

Hong Kong love for the US

Hong Kong:  a city, former British colony, which has been ‘sacrificed’ by the West, while literally converted into a battleground against the most optimistic country on Earth – China. There, the symbol used to be umbrellas, not colors. Now, there seems to be no symbol, whatsoever, just spite and violence and hate.

It is easy to understand that somehow the label of “Color Revolutions” is trivializing everything.

I am surprised that some conspiracy theorists did not come up with a scheme yet that would say that the very term – “Color Revolutions” – has been invented to belittle what has been done to the world by the imperialist West. To throw everything to one bag and to confuse everything.

*****

Back to the United States.

“Color Revolution” there, too? For heaven’s sake, really?

After the murder of Mr. Floyd, protests are being discredited, again and again, by the people who, one would believe, should be standing by the side of the oppressed. Instead, they call rebellion ‘riots,’ they claim that they are backed by Soros, Gates, others!

The terrible truth emerged: in the United States, there is almost no left anymore. No real left. No internationalist left.

Instead, there are tons of conspiracy theory sites.

Significantly, on the streets of Minneapolis, Atlanta, New York, black people are not just demanding justice for themselves; they have been shouting internationalist slogans, demanding justice for the world. It is something new, something marvelous, something you hardly hear in Paris or Berlin.

But this fact goes unnoticed, hardly reported.

The explosion of rage, brave uprising all over the United States, has been targeting those basic foundations of over 200 years long monstrous history on which the country is based. First, the colonialist invasion by the genocidal Europeans, then extermination of the great majority of native people, and simultaneously the most repulsive slavery which was endorsed and used by the founding fathers.

The state of the oppressed people in the U.S.A. today is clearly and directly related, connected to that past. But not only that: the entire state of the world could only be comprehended if viewed in the context of what has been done to the native people and brutalized black slaves in the United States, itself.

Colonialism, extermination campaigns in Asia, Africa, and Latin America, are inter-connected with the plight of non-white people in the United States.

Now, black people in the United States are fighting for themselves and their children, but also for their brothers and sisters in all corners of the world, which is still colonized and plundered by Washington and London.

Do all of the protesters know this? Some do, some don’t, and many feel it, intuitively.

Now, to the point which is made by those who are trying to discredit this uprising: is all this also a power-struggle inside the U.S. establishment? Are Democrats, for instance, trying to manipulate the situation, using it to their advantage?

I have no doubt that there are such attempts. Almost everyone in the United States is always using things, looking for advantages. This is what people are taught to do, living in a savage capitalist system.

But these are two distinct issues!

Even if Gates, Soros, deep state, Democrats, mass media outlets, and who knows who else, wants to kidnap the narrative and derail the uprising, it changes nothing on the fact that the peoples whose lives were, for generations, ruined, are now pissed off no end, and that their rebellion may shake the foundations of the entire country, and the terrible world order!

Even now, as this is being written, the uprising in the U.S. already inspired new movement @PapuanLivesMatter, which is referring to an ongoing genocide in West Papua, performed by the Indonesian state on behalf of Western governments and mining companies.

And this is just a beginning.

Grievances are legitimate. Struggle for justice is legitimate. The essential thing now is to separate the fight against racism, colonialism, and imperialism, from the political interests of the establishment, or part of it.

This separation can only happen on the barricades. And since the education has been kidnapped by the regime, there has to be an accelerated injection of the revolutionary education administered to both protesters and the general public. Education about both the past and the present.

But we should not give up on the protesters!

And calling their uprising “Color Revolution” is disrespectful and, yes, racist!

Their rage is legitimate. And, of course, the rage of the people all over the world is legitimate, too, without any doubt.

Conclusion

Point one: Blanket term “Color Revolutions” is wrong. Those who are promoting it are actually confusing the situation. During the last years and decades, the West has been using many different tactics on how to overthrow governments, subvert legitimate movements and revolutions, and deter revolutionary and anti-colonialist struggle. Each has to be examined and exposed separately, individually. Otherwise, it would create indigestible, on purpose confusing mass, and further damage independence struggle. Otherwise, nihilism would be spread, and revolutionary zeal deterred.

Point two: in the United States – the ongoing struggle against racism, segregation, and imperialism is a legitimate struggle, which is having a tremendous and positive influence on the entire world. If there are political interests that are trying to undermine and derail it, they should be exposed by the people in the United States. But it does not mean at all that the protesters should be discouraged, let alone ridiculed. Those who are fighting for justice, and for the entire world, should be embraced and full-heartedly supported!

• All photos by Andre Vltchek

Beware the hijacking of U.S. Protests into a “Color Revolution”

The May 25th killing of George Floyd, an unarmed African-American man, at the hands of a white police officer in Minneapolis, Minnesota shocked the world and set off mass protests against racism and police brutality in dozens of cities from the mid-western United States to the European Union, all in the midst of a global pandemic. In the Twin Cities, what began as spontaneous, peaceful demonstrations against the local police quickly transformed into vandalism, arson and looting after the use of rubber bullets and chemical irritants by law enforcement against the protesters, while the initial incitement for the riots was likely the work of apparent agent provocateurs among the marchers. Within days, the unrest had spread to cities across the country including the nation’s capital, with U.S. President Donald Trump threatening to invoke the slavery-era Insurrection Act of 1807 to deploy the military and National Guard on American soil, federal powers not used since the 1992 Los Angeles riots following the Rodney King case.

The debate over the catalyst for the uprising into its period of lawlessness has drawn a range of theories. The suspicious placement of pallets of bricks in the proximity of numerous protest sites have spurred rumors of sabotage by everything from white supremacist groups to “Antifa” to law enforcement itself. Predictably, liberal hawks such as Susan Rice, the former National Security Advisor in the Obama administration, made ludicrous assertions suggesting “Russian agents” were behind the unrest, a continuation of the narrative that the Kremlin has been behind inflaming racial tensions in the U.S. that began during the 2016 election. While Democrats like Rice and Senator Kamala Harris of California have revived an old trope dating back to the Civil Rights movement of Moscow exploiting racial divisions in the U.S., Trump and the GOP have similarly resurrected the ‘outside agitators’ myth attributed to segregationists of the same era. Hypocritically, many of those claiming to be in support of the protests have denounced the latter theory while endorsing the former, when both equally show contempt for the legitimate grievances of the demonstrators and deny their agency. However, both false notions overlook the more likely hidden factors at play attempting to hijack the movement for its own purposes.

Believe it or not, there could be a kernel of truth in accusations coming mostly from the political right as to the possible role of the notorious liberal billionaire investor and “philanthropist” George Soros and his Open Society Foundation (OSF). Ironically, if any of the right-wing figures of whom Soros is a favorite target were aware of his instrumental role in the fall of communism staging the various CIA-backed protest movements in Eastern Europe that toppled socialist governments, he would likely not be such a subject of their derision. The Hungarian business magnate’s institute, like other NGOs involved in U.S. regime change operations such as the National Endowment for Democracy (NED), is largely a front for the CIA to shield itself while destabilizing U.S. adversaries, the spy agency’s preferred modus operandi since the exposure of its illicit activities in previous decades by the Rockefeller Commission and Church Committee in the 1970s. In the post-Soviet world, nations across Central Asia, Eastern Europe, the Middle East and beyond have become well acquainted with the political disruptions of the international financier and his network. In particular, governments that have leaned toward warm relations with Moscow during the incumbency of President Vladimir Putin have found themselves the victims of his machinations.

Under Putin’s predecessor Boris Yeltsin, Soros made a killing off the mass privatization of the former state-run assets in the Eastern Bloc, as journalist Naomi Klein explained in The Shock Doctrine:

George Soros’s philanthropic work in Eastern Europe — including his funding of (Harvard economist and economic advisor Jeffrey) Sachs’s travels through the region — has not been immune to controversy. There is no doubt that Soros was committed to the cause of democratization in the Eastern Bloc, but he also had clear economic interests in the kind of economic reform accompanying that democratization. As the world’s most powerful currency trader, he stood to benefit greatly when countries implemented convertible currencies and lift capital controls, and when state companies were put on the auction block, he was one of the potential buyers.

 In contrast, the Putin administration over a period of two decades has since restored the Russian economy through the re-nationalization of its oil and gas industry. Its two energy giants, Gazprom and Rosneft, are state-controlled companies serving as the basis of the state machinery‘s reassertion of control over the Russian financial system, a move that has gotten Mr. Putin branded a “dictator” by the West. As a result, most of the notorious Russian oligarchs enriched overnight during the extreme free market policies of the 1990s have since left the country, now that such rapid accumulation of wealth to the rest of the nation’s detriment is no longer permitted. While economic inequality in Russia may persist, it is nowhere near that of the Yeltsin era where the average life expectancy was reduced by a full decade.

In the last decade, the United States has gotten its own taste of the incitement and agitations that have previously fallen upon governments across the global south. Instead, domestically the CIA cutouts in the non-profit industrial complex have played a pivotal counterrevolutionary role in co-opting and ultimately derailing such uprisings meant to bring systemic change to the U.S. political system. In late 2011, the Occupy Wall Street movement emerged at Zuccotti Park in New York City’s financial district against the deepening global economic inequality following the Great Recession and the protests quickly spread to other cities and continents. In just a few months, the sit-in was expelled from Lower Manhattan and the anti-capitalist movement itself largely was diverted towards reformism and away from its original radical intentions. It was also revealed the origins of OWS and its marketing campaign were traced to Adbusters, a media foundation that was the recipient of grants from the Democratic Party-connected Tides Foundation, a progressive policy center which receives significant endowments from none other than George Soros and the OSF.

Emerging just two years later, the roots of Black Lives Matter were not just in community organizing but partially took inspiration from the Occupy movement. Unfortunately, the similarities between them were not limited to a shared lack of clarity in their demands but facing the same dilemma of being absorbed into the system. While OWS was quickly suppressed after hopeful beginnings, the BLM leadership became career-oriented apparatchiks of the Democratic Party and left grass-roots organizing behind. Through the non-profit industrial complex, the Democratic Party has mastered bringing various social movements under its management on behalf of Wall Street in order to funnel public funds into private control through various foundations. Along with the Ford Foundation which has given BLM enormous $100 million grants, Soros and the OSF have been one of the principal offenders. Still, many who correctly identify right-wing protests such as the Tea Party movement and the recent ‘anti-lockdown’ demonstrations as the work of astro-turfing by the Koch Brothers and Heritage Foundation seldom apply the same scrutiny to seemingly authentic progressive movements assimilated by corporate America.

One figure who mysteriously appeared on the scene in the early days of OWS connected to Soros was the Serbian political activist Srđa Popović, the founder of Otpor! (“resistance” in Serbian) and the Center for Applied Nonviolent Action and Strategies (CANVAS) political organizations which led the protests in 2000 which ousted the democratically-elected President of Serbia, Slobodan Milošević, known as the “Bulldozer Revolution.” Not long after Popović’s consulting of activists in Zuccotti Park, Wikileaks documents revealed the Belgrade-born organizer’s significant ties to U.S. intelligence through the global intelligence platform Stratfor (known as the “shadow CIA”), exposing the real motives behind his involvement in U.S. politics of outwardly supporting OWS while trying to sabotage the popular movement. Since their role as instruments of U.S. regime change in Serbia, Otpor! and CANVAS have received financial support from CIA intermediaries such as the NED, OSF, Freedom House and the United States Agency for International Development (USAID), as well as the Boston-based Albert Einstein Institute founded by the American political scientist, Gene Sharp.

Despite ostensibly professing to use the same civil disobedience methods of Mahatma Gandhi and Martin Luther King, Jr., Gene Sharp‘s manual for “non-violent resistance” entitled From Dictatorship to Democracy has been the blueprint used by political organizations around the world that have only served the interests of Western imperialism. Beginning with the Bulldozer Revolution in Serbia, the successful formula which ousted Milošević spread to other Central Asian and Eastern European nations overthrowing governments which resisted NATO expansion and the European Union’s draconian austerity in favor of economic ties with Moscow. These were widely referred to in the media as ‘Color Revolutions’ and included the 2003 Rose Revolution in Georgia, the 2004 Orange Revolution in Ukraine and its 2014 Maidan coup d’état follow-up, as well as the 2005 Tulip Revolution in Kyrgyzstan, among others.

Subsequently, Srđa Popović and CANVAS also lent their expertise in Egypt during the predecessor to its Arab Spring in the April 6 Youth Movement which appropriated Otpor!’s raised fist logo as its emblem. In preparation for the organization of anti-government demonstrations, the activists pored over Gene Sharp’s work in coordination with Otpor! whose fingerprints can be found all over the Arab Spring uprisings which began as protests to remove unpopular leaders in Egypt and Tunisia but were carefully reeled in to preserve the despotic Western-friendly systems that had put them to power initially. Where Sharp’s “non-violent” template failed, countries with U.S. adversaries in power such as Libya and Syria saw their protests rapidly morph into a resurgence of Al-Qaeda and a terrorist proxy war with catastrophic consequences. This recipe has also been exported to Latin America in attempts to remove the Bolivarian government in Venezuela, with self-declared ‘interim president’ and opposition leader Juan Guaido having received training from CANVAS.

While the right seems to have a bizarre misconception that the parasitic hedge fund tycoon is somehow a communist, there is an equal misunderstanding on the pseudo-left where it has become a recurring joke and subject of mockery to naively deny Soros’s undeniable influence on world affairs and domestic protest movements. Less certain, however, are the claims from conservatives that Soros is a supporter of “Antifa” which Trump wants to designate as a domestic terrorist organization, a dangerous premise given the movement consists of a very loose-knit and decentralized network of activists and hardly comprises a real organization. Various autonomous chapters and groups across the U.S. may self-identify as such, but there is no single official party or formal organization with any leadership hierarchy. While the original Antifa movement in the 1930s Weimar Republic was part of the Communist Party of Germany (KPD), the current manifestation in the U.S. has a synonymous association with black bloc anarchism (even inverting the colors of the original red and black flag), though it is really made up of a variety of amateurish political tendencies.

Amidst the ongoing nationwide George Floyd protests, the demonstrations in Seattle, Washington culminated in the establishment of a self-declared “autonomous zone” by activists in the Northwestern city’s Capitol Hill neighborhood — known as the Capitol Hill Autonomous Zone (CHAZ). In response, Trump doubled down on his threats to quash protests with the use of the military while blaming “anarchists” in “Antifa” for the unrecognized commune occupying six city blocks around an abandoned police precinct. Anyone who has paid close attention to the war in Syria for the last nine years will find this highly ironic, given the U.S. military support for another infamous “autonomous zone” of Kurdish nationalists in Northern Syria’s Rojava federation. The Kurdish sub-region and de facto self-governing territory purports to be a “libertarian socialist direct democracy” style of government and has been the subject of romanticized praise by the Western pseudo-left despite the fact that the autonomous administration’s paramilitary wing, the People’s Protection Units (YPG), were until recently a cat’s paw for American imperialism as part of the U.S.-founded coalition, the Syrian Democratic Forces (SDF).

Not coincidentally, many of those who use the Antifa vexillum are enthusiastic supporters of and even volunteer mercenaries fighting with the YPG/SDF in an ‘International Freedom Battalion’ which claims to be the inheritors of the legacy of the International Brigades which volunteered to defend the Spanish Republic from fascism in the Spanish Civil War. Unfortunately, these cosplayers forgot that the original International Brigades were set up by the Communist International, not the Pentagon. Meanwhile, despite their purported “anti-fascism”, there are no such conscripts to be found defending the Donetsk or Luhansk People’s Republics of eastern Ukraine against literal Nazis in the War in Donbass where the real front line against fascism has been. Instead, they fight alongside a Zionist and imperial proxy to help establish an ethno-nation state while the U.S. loots Syria’s oil.

Prior to Trump’s decision last October to withdraw troops from northeastern Syria which preceded a Turkish invasion, Ankara and the U.S. repeatedly butted heads over Washington’s decision to incorporate the Kurds into the SDF, since the YPG is widely acknowledged an off-shoot of the Kurdistan Workers’ Party (PKK), the militant and cult-like political group regarded as a terrorist organization that has been at war with Turkey for over forty years. It is also no secret that jailed PKK founder Abdullah Öcalan’s theories of “democratic confederalism” are heavily influenced by the pro-Zionist Jewish-American anarchist theorist, Murray Bookchin. So when Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdoğan told Trump that there were links between the U.S. protests and the PKK, there was a tiny but core accuracy in his exaggerated claim. As Malcolm X said, “chickens coming home to roost never did make me sad.”

The George Floyd protests, like previous uprisings in Ferguson and Baltimore, certainly began spontaneously, nor does any of this discount the legitimate issue of ending the militarization of U.S. law enforcement which disproportionately victimizes black Americans. Nevertheless, time and again we have seen how bona fide social movements become political footballs or quickly go to their graves. Like BLM, it is practically inevitable the protests will become a partisan tool for the Democratic Party in the coming 2020 election when it has no concrete political articulations of its own, even if it does bring substantive change to domestic policing. In January, Trump was impeached for temporarily withholding security aid to the Ukraine and Democrats advocated his removal because he is regarded as insufficiently hawkish toward Moscow. Since 2016, they have actively diverted all opposition to Trump into their own reactionary anti-Russia campaign and soft-coup attempt in the interests of the military- intelligence community, a shared agenda with Soros. When all of corporate America, the media, and even the NED have publicly declared their support for a movement, it is no longer just about its original cause of getting justice for Mr. Floyd, whose funeral became a virtual campaign rally for Trump’s opponent, Joe Biden. It is too early to say determinedly whether what is taking place in the U.S. is indeed a ‘Color Revolution’, but by the time we realize it, it may too late.

Liberal Hypnosis and Graveyard of Protest

Spellbound. Hypnotized. Entranced. Narcotized. Captivated. Anesthetized. Mesmerized. Fascinated. Mystified. Stupefied. From literature to film, our culture is rife with stories of men and women coming under the mental sway of diabolic schemers. Wielding the conditional clauses like a wand, Iago spellbinds Othello to a state of jealous rage, which leads him to kill Desdemona, his innocent wife. In the German series Perfume, a master of scent-making conjures fragrances unique to a particular person, and which makes him or her completely irresistible. In the film Inception, ingenious thieves implant formidable ideas in the subconscious of unwitting targets. Anywhere we look along the cultural horizon, we see myriad forms of mental control enacted by hypnotists, enchanters, occultists, witches and wizards. Of course, none of these appellations carry anything but contempt in the public realm. Except that the idea of mentally hijacking the consciousness of another person, or many persons, is no myth. It is real, and it happens daily, typically through the various apparatuses we’ve liberally scattered through our homes. Televisions, mobile apps, podcasts, magazines, books, even Amazon echoes, which are being made to recognize emotional states (in order to monetize them). We are eminently suggestible. We are prey to the charisma of the sociopath, susceptible to the pressure of peers, tender-minded before the majestic visions of religious seers.

And one needn’t turn to Othello to read of a man held under the sway of a deviant marplot, though it is perhaps our best embodiment of the phenomenon. French Marxists and sociologists have left a shelf of helpful tomes to apprise us of how we have ourselves been bamboozled. Louis Althusser proposed Ideological State Apparatuses (ISAs) that condition populations to accept the ruling ideas of society (ruling ideas courtesy of the rulers, of course). Jacques Ellul described a kind of “current events man” whose entire attitude and mood is determined by the streams of news media he or she consumes. When we move into the literature of propaganda and social control, we may swap the more pedestrian term ‘social conditioning’ for the titillating one, ‘wizardry’, but they really do amount to the same.

The Friendly Liberal

I’d like to look at one particular form of brainwashing that we have fallen for. This brand of brainwashing is important to spotlight because without seeing through it, without unmasking it, the full-throated cries for justice issuing from the streets will come to naught.

Though it is easy to disagree with conservatives, with their stridency and purblind allegiance to transparent frauds like Donald Trump, they often see across the aisle better than the liberal left sees itself. There is absolutely something akin to Trump Derangement Syndrome (TDS) in this country, a special kind of trance that has overwhelmed an outsized share of the American mind. It is a capacity to attribute nearly all wrongs in society to a singular figure, the president. Into that cipher of spray tan and hairpiece we deposit blame for all perceived injustices. Against that visual figment on the screen we aim all of our aimless fury at the state of the nation. So much so that the majority of us, it seems quite plausible to suggest, have narrowed our political purpose to a single act: Get Trump. As a result, many of us will likely vote Democrat in the fall, gently shepherded into the booth by gatekeepers like Bernie Sanders, hectored by a fiendish alarmist media, until we pull the proverbial lever for Joe Biden, the more effective evil marketed as the lesser. Given this likelihood, what can we expect in terms of positive progress from the mass uprisings across America, having now encompassed 500 cities and towns?

Uprising and Upshot

Here we are, weeks into the George Floyd protests, and what has been accomplished? The demand to defund the police is a powerful and intelligent one. It has exposed the budgets that have sandbagged municipal and state policy. One hundred billion dollars annually goes to police departments around the country. Nearly six billion alone goes to the NYPD. Education, healthcare, and other services are happily cut even as police funding either advances unscathed or is improved upon. Budget increases in PDs have outpaced population growth. The Pentagon’s 1033 program has facilitated the transformation of police from beat cops with billy clubs to mercenary urban soldiers with body armor, chemical agents, tasers, and machine guns on their bodies. Federal spending on police, prison, and courts of law have grown significantly since the 1970s, even as presidents Carter, Reagan, Clinton, and Obama slashed welfare, from temporary assistance to food stamps.

On the heels of the widespread call for defunding, residents of Capitol Hill have created the Capitol Hill Autonomous Zone, or CHAZ, that is free of police, or the enforcement arm of state fascism. CHAZ was established after the police were chased off the Hill and abandoned their precinct there, something not even the WTO protests of 1999 could achieve. If the CHAZ plays its cards right, they could be an incubator for a new kind of community policing, or at least something akin to what’s been done in Camden, New Jersey. It only strengthens the call for defunding if there is a model for community-based security ready to receive reallocated funds from the draconian city PDs. Yet this concept represents an existential crisis for PDs across the country, which suggests they will push back hard. Already we’ve seen an unhinged, half-comic, half-swinish piece of theater from the NYPD union boss insisting people “stop treating us like animals and thugs and start treating us with respect.” Tit for tat, one might reply.

Crumbs for the Craven

It also goes largely unremarked that the police forces in LA, NY, and Boston are presided over by biddable Democratic liberals. In Manhattan, Bill De Blasio’s administration spends more on policing than health, homeless services, job development put together. At the same time, he has gone out of his way to lavish sycophantic praise on the precinct after precinct, even as his daughter is assaulted. Like all neoliberal handmaidens, he responds to calls for justice with promises to listen, provide answers, and deliver inclusive dialogue. None of which will amount to anything more than mounting frustration as more people realize the carceral state is the brainchild of the Clinton administration and a longtime segregationist and punitive enthusiast who happens to be our lesser evil candidate for November.

Given the lay of the land, what has the duopoly given us in response? A tepid reform bill that renders illegal a police action that has long been banned. An array of Congressional Democrats delivered a contemptible show of unity with the protestors, donning multicolored Ghanaian kente stoles and kneeling (unsteadily) on the hard marble floor of Emancipation Hall on Capitol Hill. Joe Biden, the presumptive Democratic presidential nominee, having survived a likely loss to Bernie Sanders thanks to backroom DNC chicanery, has littered the cultural landscape with garbage of a particularly repulsive kind. One day he tells an audience if they are black and don’t vote Democrat, they aren’t black. Then he announces that he opposes defunding police departments and declares that they actually need more money to do their job.

Has ‘radical’ democratic ‘socialist’ Bernie Sanders rallied his once-formidable movement in support of the protests? No, Sanders has endorsed Biden, the man who supposedly represented all that he opposed. He has joined Biden in calling for more money for police. He scolded his followers for being “irresponsible” when many declared they wouldn’t support Biden. He allowed his staff to create a Super PAC to funnel money into the duplicitous DNC. He warned his delegates they needed to back Biden or risk being removed. His empty calls for police reform mirror those of the establishment. He is precisely the “sheepherder” that the late Bruce Dixon of Black Agenda Report said he was five years ago.

The New York Times declares a reckoning has hit “boardrooms, classrooms, streets, and stadium”, but its lead evidence is that Merriam-Webster is changing its definition of racism; a university dance coach was fired; NASCAR banned the Confederate battle flag; and Nike made Juneteenth a paid holiday; “The Bachelor” finally picked a black bachelor to lead the next edition of the show after 18 years of wonderful whites. Forgive us for being underwhelmed.

Aside from this token reform and tepid theater, the only other things protesters have received from the liberal establishment — the side of the establishment that is supposed to be on their side — are calls to vote Democrat in November. Even veteran critics like Noam Chomsky are insisting we must vote for Biden this fall or the planet will be extinguished by climate change. As if rejoining the non-binding but lavishly hyped Paris Accords will fix things, and as though the Democratic Party is not beholden to the energy industry. Lesser evilism is tantamount to treading water in the sea. Sooner or later, you either swim for shore, or you drown.

Meanwhile, paid-up liberal apologists at places like The Atlantic trot out their timeless quadrennial refrain: our candidate has changed, he has evolved over time to embrace the better angels of our nature. This tawdry platitude can be dismissed as easily as it is proffered. As the late Christopher Hitchens pithily remarked (probably while on his barnstorming anti-Yahweh tour), “What can be asserted without evidence can be dismissed without evidence.” True and necessary in a time of wanton fabrication. As one poster on social media remarked, these ‘changes of heart’ in our candidates are merely signals that our jejune political lifers have spied the political weathervane moving in a different direction. They are amoral at core, bereft of conviction in a business that demands the most pliable moral posturing.

Yet the “he’s evolved” argument, trotted out every four years, is really a psychological salve for the cognitive dissonance of liberals, if they feel any. When the “evolved” candidate wins office and promptly betrays his progressive promises, they can simply say they had been naive. They had had too much faith in human nature. What can I say, I took the man at his word. In other words, they’re exempt from blame for his odious backtracking. But this ignores the history of lies that Democrats have fed liberals for decades. Only by deliberately eviscerating that history from their memories could liberals claim any sort of legitimate naivete. Otherwise, they are consciously facilitating a gross imposture. They move safely within the establishment realm while maintaining a patina of progressivism and a facade of ignorance about the near universal likelihood that Democrats will govern well to the right of their campaigns.

Shouting into the Void

Prediction: It is unlikely anything of significance will emerge from these weeks of protests. As noted, both parties have quickly refused to defund, with Biden calling to increase funding, either a brazen act of elite defiance, or the tone-deaf ignorance of a political hack. The CHAZ will likely be overrun like Obama coordinated with states to violently uproot Occupy, before co-opting their message for his re-election campaign. This is not to mention his blasé disinterest in Standing Rock, another sign that the man simply did not identify with minorities or, crucially, the working class. His was a tribe of rulers.

Until a critical mass of citizen-consumers recognizes outright that neither party supports them, episodic uprisings will change nothing. Just tepid critiques, token reform, and facades of institutional progress. As veteran activist Angela Davis points out, that aside from the woeful inadequacy of reformism, “…reforms have often rendered the institution itself more permanent.” Was not Obamacare a move to forestall demands for Medicare for All, and an attempt to help shift the burden of healthcare from the shoulders of corporate America onto those of ordinary taxpayers, who already pay a higher percentage of their incomes to the IRS than do most corporations?

Given the Democrats’ slavish servitude to corporate money, there is no evidence they have the moral fortitude to unhitch themselves from the coffers of the global oil and gas industry, meaning they will never effectively address climate change. Given the Democrats’ subjection to the patronage of Wall Street, there is no evidence they will meaningfully restrain financialization and the crushing meltdowns that confirm the moral hazard of ceaseless bailouts, meaning the next collapse will only further immiserate workers in order to enrich hedge fund barons who have never known indigence but are happy to inflict it on others and reproach them for their lack of industry. Given the Democrats’ fealty to the garrison state, there is no evidence they will willingly take on the Pentagon budget, let alone shrink the metastasizing scope of our foreign wars, meaning they will continue to clandestine slaughter of poor people of color in points abroad.

It was Biden, after all, who was point man for the unseating of Victor Yanukovych in Ukraine, implanting U.S.-friendly puppets in Kiev, as a stepping stone into Russia in the ongoing energy war for control of European pipelines. In other words, Biden is the right man to ensure the continuation of the hegemonic strategy that Donald Trump unwittingly threatened, when he speculated about friendlier relations with Moscow. The entire Russiagate fiasco was a steady state action to control the Executive. A majority of bourgeois liberals have fallen for the ruse, even as their beloved Democrats have wedded themselves to the intelligence community in a cynical alignment that should have, once and for all, established the party as the servants and hirelings of imperialism. But it didn’t. For reasons of consciousness.

Class Unconscious

Effecting real change will require the facade of bourgeois liberalism to be unmasked. Liberals are not truly on the side of the working class. Liberals, the bourgeoisie professional class who gain the most from elitism, have loudly proclaimed their solidarity with minorities. They’ve waved flags, blown horns, leaned out of windowsills and chanted their support. But we know how far these virtue signals go. They go all the way to the threshold of the voting booth, where they are gently set aside while professional whites vote their class interest. They then console themselves with the baseless belief that whistle-stop rhetoric can be believed and tell themselves that the moral arc of the universe bends toward justice, however incrementally. So, liberals are not real friends of the African-American. They will vote for the system, not against it.

For them, everything flows back to the figure of Donald Trump. Blind to the symptomatic nature of his presidency, they cannot temper their bloodlust. They will back any steady state program to unseat the orange beast. Spying on a presidential campaign and assembling fake kompromat? Done. Treason investigation? Done. Impeachment trial? Done. Color revolution? Done. Nothing has yet ejected the scourge from the White House. That will likely happen in November. But the result will be a forfeiture of outrage. A celebration of the return to the quietude of the continuous manufacture of inequality. Beneath a banner of multiculturalism, the gap between rich and poor will widen exponentially, while efforts at bridging the gap will happen in small increments. The gap will grow, incremental ‘progress’ notwithstanding. This is the hypnotic facade that needs shattering before a popular front, built on class, themed by diversity, and empowered by numbers, can deconstruct and reconstruct the state in its own image. It’s time to break the spell.

Why This is Not an Emmett Till Moment

Why is this not an Emmett Till moment?

The quick, simple response is because the Democratic Party is where social movements go to die and this will be absorbed into their own conservative narrative.

The open casket for Emmett shocked the nation, the white nation that is. It was neither shocking nor surprising for the majority of black Americans. They’ve seen it all too often before, just not with the exposition that Mrs. Till orchestrated in order to shock the world with an open casket. Many would rightfully say the civil rights movement truly began with this horrific murder and necessary showcase.

Attitudes were different back then. Polite society (liberal whites) knew the black American was being treated unfairly but for many it was an acceptable situation. Of course, many people in the mainstream abhorred the treatments and fought along with their brothers and sisters to reign in the oppression. But for the longest time after Reconstruction, there was a status quo.

Lynchings rarely made the papers but how many editorials regularly railed against Jim Crow enough to change attitudes? All Americans had to deal with WW1, the booming 20s, the Great Depression, and then WW2. The plight of the poor and minorities was of little concern to all who held power, as it is in many ways still today, thanks to our capitalist system.

Then came the horrific killing of Emmett Till and the subsequent kangaroo court trial that acquitted the murderers. There were many sensational cases throughout the 20th century but often it involved either the rich and famous or those already of national fame, or infamy. There was Sacco and Vanzetti, Leopold and Loeb, Scopes Monkey Trial, Hauptmann’s trial for allegedly killing Lindbergh’s baby, Ethel and Julius Rosenberg, and a few others involving heirs and big name custody fights. When it came to the Emmett Till trial, race was the issue and the first of its kind to kindle the flames of social revolution or upheaval.

The brutal murder of George Floyd was very different. We won’t know until the trial, but it could very well be that race may actually have played a minor role. Chauvin knew Floyd and there was talk of bad blood between them, especially regarding pay at the club where both served as bouncers. And, yes, he may have had animus for him just because he was black. The reaction by the entire world, enhanced by an already existing Black Lives Matter movement, is clearly focused on race, as it should, and police brutality against all, as all are seeing how thuggish the police are to all protesters for social change, regardless of color. What we’re seeing is the conflation of the issue that the police are the greatest threat to civil society that specifically targets blacks and the poor, because they know they can get away with it, and the larger picture that the police primarily serve the interests of the wealthy, of property, and the economic system of capitalism that requires a substandard living for many to prevent any form of egalitarian society and true upward mobility for the masses.


Many would say that there is a sea change. “Defund the police” is popping up everywhere. Billboards and buildings throughout the world, not just in the US, are defaced with this slogan. Racist statues are being taken down or torn down in larger numbers than before. Many go so far as to say abolish the police, and even the right wing, capitalist, war mongering paper, the New York Times, had an editorial arguing for its abolition. City councils are taking the defunding to heart. Of course, Minneapolis is the most prominent but we see it being proposed in, of course, Seattle, home of the modern day Paris Commune, known as the CHAZ, and Los Angeles, Chicago, New York, Detroit, Baltimore and DC now, etc. Almost sounds like “Dancing in the Streets”. Mayors are called to resign for supporting the police.

It’s very likely that there will be budget cuts and perhaps re-allocations of funds to social services that do a hell of a better job than police work in order to alleviate the causes of crime. But overall, that’s window dressing. Will training by Israeli IDF thugs stop? Will enough school boards nation-wide cancel their school police presence? Certain tactics might not be permitted, like choke holds and maybe even tear gas, a weapon outlawed by the Geneva Convention, but will they return their tanks and other weapons of war as to not appear as an occupation army?

At a protest, will they continue to be dressed for war? Will peaceful and unarmed white and black protesters be treated in the same respectful way as armed white, right wing, often white supremacists, protesters?

The icing on the cake is time. Time is ripe for revolution like very few times in our past. And it looks like our brothers and sisters in the streets have the upper hand. Considering that schools (public and universities) are out for the summer, there’s still a pandemic keeping people away from leisurely living, and so many are out of work, one would expect our American Spring to roll into summer. But there’s something else on the calendar which will kill the momentum. November’s election. With Bernie Sanders playing the dutiful role of sheepdog for the Democratic Party and giving up on the idea of revolution, and Trump becoming more insane by the minute, the focus of so many, including the protesters, might very well be centered on removing him. Like it or not, Biden will probably be the Democratic nominee and so many noses will be held as they pull the lever or mail in their ballots, just to remove Trump. It doesn’t matter that Biden opposes everything, including defunding the police, that the protesters demand. It doesn’t matter that his heroes are America’s past, notorious racists. It doesn’t matter that people are losing their jobs and health care and Biden openly opposes universal, tax paid, health care. And it doesn’t matter that so many black people are so threatened, not just by the police, but by the entire judicial system, that Biden past legislative history will be momentarily forgiven, just so that a Democrat can remove Trump.

It’s also very likely that more black Americans than ever before will refrain from voting for the Democrat, but strategically, they don’t really count all that much. The big cities with large black populations are in states that normally vote Democratic, but they are a minority within. Where they may be majority in certain cities are often located in the South, which would mostly vote for Trump, anyway. It is the white liberal, the suburban white moms, the Blue No Matter Who people, who will divert attention away from George Floyd and all the others, as they have been doing for so many years. And considering that many of these horrific murders before Floyd also happened under the Obama/Biden administration, with no long lasting consequences, it’s hard to see Mr. Floyd being the start of something real and long lasting. Maybe the rest of the world that has seized this moment in history will carry through to see that their demands are met. But as stated above, the Democratic Party is where social movements go to die. This is not an Emmett Till moment. It’s just another footnote in American history.