briefly noted

short notes from my reading

To the Heart of the Beast

“It was the workers in these industries who taught me that there was a systematic conflict between profits and health.… When you start thinking that, when you start to interfere with the forces of production, you’re going to the heart of the beast.”

Tony Mazzocchi, leader of the Oil, Chemical and Atomic Workers International (OCAW), who was instrumental in passing the 1970 Occupational Safety and Health Act (OSHA).

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On my return

As the 2012 presidential election geared up, it seems, I lost the stamina to keep a regular political writing habit. My support for Obama was waning due to his failure to prosecute anyone for the Bush torture regime or the fraudulent housing bubble, his ongoing drone war and vigorous prosecution of whistleblowers, and the complete lack of real support for people who lost everything in the financial crash. Of course I supported him against Mitt Romney, but the Hope of 2008 was long gone by the time I wrote “the total destruction of the radical left in this country is long complete.”

Still, I maintained optimism in that essay that the left could be resurgent by pushing a politics of egalitarianism, committing to nonviolence, and working to take over the Democratic party through organizing. I stick to most of that: Bernie Sanders showed that egalitarian politics can turn out the vote, and the left is better off trying to gain power via the Democratic Party rather than a third party (at least at the national level).

But I am no longer committed to nonviolence, nor do I condemn those who engage in violent defense of human rights. When the Nazis come to town, we need to meet them in the streets and shut them down. Ignoring them doesn’t work, arguing with them is pointless (they believe some people are not people), and the weak-tea, “all-sides” liberals who condemn anti-fascist “violence” (window-breaking, for example, is not violence) are anyway not swayed when Black Americans peacefully demonstrating against police murder are violently crushed by police.

No, my friends, we must punch the Nazis. It is the good and right thing to do.

Look what we have wrought. Obama decided, even in the face of a near-depression, not to waver from the neoliberal path. Through charisma and oratory (and by getting Obamacare passed, a considerable feat), he managed to keep the left-liberal coalition intact. But few could have maintained that balance, especially not Hillary Clinton and the strong negatives that she carried with her from a long political career of triangulation, and as the object of hatred for a deeply misogynist society. It shouldn’t have been that hard to beat Trump, and yet, we lost. There are Nazis in the White House.

Things are bleak, but they are not hopeless. The egalitarian left is resurgent, and it is more radical than it has been in a very long time. Democratic Socialists of America now boasts over 25,000 members (of which I am one), a massive increase made possible by the Bernie Sanders campaign but already looking way beyond that inspiring, but imperfect, event. Through the hard work of organizing, we will not only field candidates to take local power, but we will engage our communities to take power for themselves through collective action.

For five years this website has lay dormant while I followed the end of Occupy Wall Street and the beginning of Black Lives Matter. With the election of Trump, battle lines have been drawn, and no one can remain silent and not be complicit. I will return to my regular political writing, and do all I can to organize for a better future for all of us.

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Prison Profits

“The demand for our facilities and services could be adversely affected by the relaxation of enforcement efforts, leniency in conviction or parole standards and sentencing practices or through the decriminalization of certain activities that are currently proscribed by criminal laws…”

-Corrections Corporation of America, in their annual report. Chris Hedges excoriates the company and its role in the National Security State.

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Afghan End-Game

Other consequences, all deleterious, flowed from the militarization of foreign policy. In Afghanistan and the United States, so intimately ensnarled over all these years, the income gap between the rich and everyone else has grown exponentially, in large part because in both countries the rich have made money off war-making, while ordinary citizens have slipped into poverty for lack of jobs and basic services.

-Ann Jones, writing from Afghanistan.

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The Foreign Policy “Community”

So given this extreme human suffering and repression imposed by the Saudi monarchy in multiple countries, what should the US – the Leader of the Free World and the self-proclaimed Deliverer of Freedom and Democracy – do? To Riedel, the answer is obvious: work even harder, do even more, to strengthen the Saudi regime as well as the neighboring tyrannies in order to crush the “Arab Awakenings” and ensure that democratic revolution cannot succeed in those nations.

-Greenwald skewers another

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A Plea

“It is our plea that the drone attacks upon us be stopped. Because the American government is oppressing us without reason.”
-Resident of Waziristan, in this film.

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The Avengers

“There’s just no other word for it. It is a campaign of terror – highly effective terror – regardless of what noble progressive sentiments one wishes to believe reside in the heart of the leader ordering it.”

Glenn Greenwald on Obama’s drone program. A new report highlights the ways it terrorizes the people of Pakistan.

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From the Dock

“I am very grateful for your support and humbled by your ongoing efforts.”

-Bradley Manning, via his lawyer, to his supporters

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From the Bottom Up

You don’t end war by encouraging a parliament to pass a resolution, or by swapping politicians and governing forms, but by creating a culture that finds blowing innocent men, women and children to bits as abhorrent as pushing an old lady into oncoming traffic. Those in power can’t start wars if they don’t find anybody willing to fight them.

-Charles Davis on social revolution

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Covert War

“That’s a legal issue. In U.S. law, it’s a covert action when the president says it’s a covert action. I think if you’re on the receiving end of the covert action, it’s an act of war.”

-Richard Clarke on US actions against Iran.

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