Saturday, December 27, 2008

Santa's helpers disable naughty cameras in Tempe

Creative protest against the surveillance state.

Sunday, November 30, 2008

The Indypendent � Change from Below: Dutch Socialists Build a Grassroots Movement

The Indypendent � Change from Below: Dutch Socialists Build a Grassroots Movement

Brenda Stokely

I just met Brenda Stokely in this online video. I'm guessing she
comes from the Maoist tradition. Nevertheless, I enjoyed
watching this video from 2005. It's apparently a speech given at
a conference organized by Worker's World.
She seems to have a realistic assessment of the revolutionary left,
and she has some good ideas on organizing. I'm not sure of her
perspective on how to overcome our divisions but it's interesting.

Brenda Stokely: "Dailymotion - Brenda Stokely

I found a link to other videos from the same conference
for those interested.

Sunday, November 16, 2008

How to Run a Con (or become a powerful politician, among other things)

"My laboratory studies of college students have shown that two percent of them are "unconditional nonreciprocators." That's a mouthful! This means that when they are trusted they don't return money to person who trusted them (these experiments are described in my post on neuroeconomics). What do we really call these people in my lab? Bastards. Yup, not folks that you would want to have a cup of coffee with. These people are deceptive, don't stay in relationships long, and enjoy taking advantage of others. Psychologically, they resemble sociopaths. Bastards are dangerous because they have learned how to simulate trustworthiness. My research has demonstrated that they have highly dysregulated THOMASes."

How to Run a Con

Saturday, October 4, 2008

Best Headline on the Bailout

No bailout for banks - seize their profits!, UK - Sep 30, 2008
by Chris Bambery Would any sane person bail out a bank
in order to take control of its debts but not its profits? No. 
Yet that’s exactly what George Bush, ...

Two Step Jim Strikes Again

McDermott switches vote on bailout

Posted: Oct 3, 2008 02:50 PM

WASHINGTON. - Congressmen Jim McDermott of Seattle is the only member of the House delegation from Washington to switch his vote on the financial bailout plan.

He voted yes earlier this week when it failed but voted no today when it passed.

He says the tax breaks that were added to attract votes made it worse.

Four stuck with their yes votes: Democrats Brian Baird, Norm Dicks, Rick Larsen and Adam Smith.

Four others stuck with their no votes: Democrat Jay Inslee and Republicans Dave Reichert, Doc Hastings and Cathy McMorris 

Saturday, September 27, 2008

Three Way Presidential Debate - Obama, McCain, and Nader

Dennis Perrin is right. This is the most inspired political ad of this election season.

Saturday, August 30, 2008

Ingesting Lenin, or is Che the only revolutionary who can sell stuff?

Lenin didn't do well selling burgers:
1993, Dallas, TX:
The first sighting of an attempt to use a decommissioned cold-war era Lenin statue for marketing purposes here in the USA occurred in Dallas Texas in 1993. The owner of Goff's Burgers picked up his 800 pound Lenin trophy in Odessa, Ukraine, shipped it to Texas, slapped a plaque on it reading, "AMERICA WON" and waited for the cheesburger starved curiosity seekers. No word if they ever showed up but the statue was sold on Ebay two years later. Roadside America

Lenin has done better selling tacos, gellato ice cream,
and more recently boutique beer in Seattle
1995, Seattle, WA:
In 1995 a 30 ton statue of Lenin, from Poprad, Czechoslovakia found it's way to the Fremont neighborhood of Seattle, WA where it stands today in a mini mall selling taco's and ice cream. It has been alternately decorated as a Christmas Tree, a clown and John Lennon. Most recently a likeness of the statue has been placed on bottles of a beer called "Red Menace" brewed by Seattle brewer Hale's Ales. Lenin may have found his market niche with this new advertising pitch: "'Red Menace Big Amber' is out to revolutionize the world of Amber ales... Taste one and you'll want to join the party". His visage has now penetrated even the aisles of Costco.

Caviar and Vodka, now we're talking:
2005, Atlantic City:
"And, as Ms. Jove discovered, in its new incarnation, Atlantic City is no longer just about gambling. High-end stores like Brooks Brothers, Burberry and Louis Vuitton have set up shop or plan to within the year. Restaurants like Red Square at the Tropicana Casino and Resort, complete with a 12-feet-tall statue of Lenin at the front door, serve $200 caviar appetizers and Kurobuta pork and give vodka drinkers a choice of more than 100 brands on a frozen bar."
New York Times

2005, Las Vegas:
"Mandalay Bay: The towering statue of Vladimir Lenin standing in front of Red Square, the casino's tony vodka-and-caviar lounge-restaurant, is missing a head that was lost, then found in a thrift-shop warehouse. The head now sits in the restaurant's vodka freezer in an acrylic block that serves as a table. The head of the statue, a replica of one in the real Red Square, was removed shortly after it was erected because of complaints that it lionized the father of international communism – and to mimic the fate of so many Lenin statues throughout Eastern Europe after the fall of communism. The head had been accidentally packed up with other items the casino was donating to the thrift shop; warehouse workers discovered it."
The San Diego Union Tribune

Conclusion: As long as you poke fun at him or cut off his head, old Lenin
statues can be used as "cigar store Indians" of luxury consumables in the Good 'Ole USA.

Friday, August 29, 2008

Rep. McDermott finally admits his support for Iraq War Funding

JEREMY SCAHILL: Congressman McDermott also defended the continued funding of the war, despite his stated opposition to it, reflecting a common argument made not only by Republicans but by many leading Democrats.

REP. JIM McDERMOTT: You can’t cut off the troops’ food and medical supplies, but you can keep trying—but we have to change somebody at the top. If you don’t change the thing at the top, you’re going to have the Commander-in-Chief continue to run a game and make—force you into supporting it. And I know there are some who think what we should have done is just stop funding the war, but that’s like Newt Gingrich trying to shut down the government as a way of—a blunt instrument like that is not a way it works in a democracy. You have to keep pressing and pressing and pressing. And we’re going to have a new president, and we will start the process.

DemocracyNow August 26, 2008

Monday, August 18, 2008

A Tale of Two Gated Communities

An entertaining story involving our local power structure
by Seattle author Charles Mudede

A Tale of Two Gated Communities: An African Memoir
"When one looks too closely, the truth about this kind of power
and wealth is never pretty. We did our best to remain in the haze".

Saturday, July 12, 2008

Washington Wages Up 5% Last Year

Wages rose 5 percent last year, says Washington

Puget Sound Business Journal (Seattle)

Annual wages in Washington state rose last year from 2006, but not as much as in the previous year.

According to the Washington Employment Security Department, annual wages rose to $44,721 last year from 2006, an increase of 5 percent. That's less than the 5.4 percent growth recorded from 2005 to 2006.

Average weekly wages rose to $860 last year from $818 in 2006. The state uses the average wages to compute unemployment insurance benefits, which will go up next month.

State officials said the minimum weekly benefit will go up from $122 to $129 and the maximum weekly benefit will go up from $515 to $541.

© American City Business Journals Inc. All rights reserved.

Sunday, June 8, 2008

Rep. Jim McDermott serves the war machine

Is Jim McDermott a loyal cog in the Imperial war machine?

The anti-war movement in the sixties fought for and won the elimination of the draft.
The warmongers are against bringing it back now, not because they would not enjoy
access to more cannon fodder, but because with an already deeply unpopular war
they do not think they could get away with it.

On the other hand, if supposedly left-wing, anti-war crusaders like McDermott are willing
to dress up a Draft proposal in a cloak of progressive values like fairness and equality it
might eventually become feasible to bring it back without stimulating an outburst of protest.
This is the service the ever loyal Charlie Wrangle and now Jim McDermott are providing to the imperial war machine.

It does not make any sense for the left to support the reinstatement of
the draft just so we could once again enjoy a high level of protest as we once
again campaign to eliminate it. It's like arguing for an increased use of the
death penalty so we could fight to reduce it.

Here is a reminder of a few more betrayals of the anti-war movement perpetrated by McDermott that got almost zero coverage in the press and that consequently very few people ever heard about:
When Jim McDermott was asked by Ross Reynolds on the Seattle KUOW Conversation show on March 16, 2007 if he was going to vote against the Iraq War Supplemental he said, "I haven't voted for a supplemental since I [inaudible] since the war began so it would be unlikely I would vote for it". Seven days later when Pelosi's funding bill needed just a few more votes to stay alive, McDermott sprung to the rescue with a vote in favor. On the next round of voting when Pelosi had all the votes she needed, McDermott turned around and voted against it.

McDermott's assertion that he had never previously voted for an Iraq war funding bill was an outright lie. According to the Washington Post voting database, the House of Reps. voted for passage of H R 1559 , the Emergency Wartime Supplemental Appropriations Act on April 3, 2003, at exactly 10:59 p.m. This was 2 weeks after the invasion of Iraq began. Nine Representatives voted against the measure. They were Earl Blumenauer, Peter DeFazio, Sam Farr, Raúl Grijalva, Dennis Kucinich, Barbara Lee, John Lewis, Diane Watson, Lynn Woolsey. Jim McDermott's name was not among them.

Why do "progressives" like Jim McDermott never make any headway within the confines of the Democratic Party? Because, despite the name, there is virtually nothing democratic about the internal structures of the party and people like McD know when to bow down like loyal puppies.


Monday, May 26, 2008

What Would A Socialist Society Look Like?

The main point is that Socialism would fix that small oversight in our "Democratic Society" of a lack of democracy in the workplace. -Dg

JONATHAN NEALE, longtime activist and socialist, spoke to a huge meeting organised by Globalise Resistance at the European Social Forum in Florence on ...
What would a socialist society be like?

ON ALL of our demonstrations we chant “Another world is possible”. But what does this mean? On one of the anti-capitalist marches in London last year several people arrived with a big home-made banner that said “Overthrow capitalism and replace it with something nicer”.

That’s where millions of people in the worldwide movement are at now. We know what we’re against, but there is endless debate and searching for what we are for. Here is one view, my view, of what another world would look like.

First, it would be absolutely nothing like the old dictatorships in the Soviet Union, China, Vietnam and Cuba. Our alternative is not a police state. But nor would it be like the parliamentary democracies in Italy, Britain or India. It’s not that I’m against voting. The problem is partly that we only get to vote every five years and, whoever we elect, they never do what they promised.

But the real problem is that, although we have democratic parliaments, work is a dictatorship. From the moment you clock on to the moment you leave, you do what you’re told. “If you don’t like it, Jonathan,” they say, “you can go.”

We spend the majority of our lives getting ready for work, going there, working, coming home, and then slumping to recover ourselves. So the dictatorship at work means our fundamental experience of life is not democratic. And the corporations and the employers run the political world anyway.

It starts long before we’re old enough to work. School and university are dictatorships too, preparing and disciplining us for the world of work. So we would start another world with democracy at work. We would elect the managers from among ourselves, replacing them whenever we want.

Ordinary people can do those jobs. We already make the trains run on time, run the hospital wards, design buildings. People would grow into those jobs, and we’d need fewer managers if people were doing their jobs voluntarily. But that alone would not be enough. There is still the world market.

I worked for ten years for a feminist abortion clinic. We were a co-operative. We shared jobs. We had equal pay. But we were competing with other clinics in a market, and in the end we had a management that sacked all the union members. The same thing has happened to whole countries that try to have democracy in the middle of a world market.

So the workers in each company or government department would have to take over the whole place. Then we could elect representatives from each workplace. These would be people like ourselves, cleaners and carpenters and teachers, not lawyers and politicians parachuted in from outside. They would work alongside us, be people we could know and weigh up.

The representatives from every workplace could meet together in each city every week to make decisions about what to do with the economy. In most towns the only place big enough to hold them would be the football stadium. Then they could elect reps to a national meeting, and that national meeting could elect reps to international meetings.

At the base of this would be meetings at each workplace every week. Every week we could replace our reps if we wanted, at every level. Of course some people don’t work. Retired people could elect reps at clubs, and so could children at school.

All these meetings would make decisions about what to do with our work. In capitalism every company must compete, and profit is the criterion. In our new world we could make decisions based on what we need, not on profit. There would be endless debates in those meetings.

Some people will want to put a lot more work into looking after old people. Others will want a lot more musicians and artists. Some will want to work only four days, and abolish Monday straight off. Others will want to keep working hard to bring the poor countries of the world up to the level of the rich. Some will want to put all our energy into the environment.

There will be endless debates, and we will settle them by consensus when we can, by votes when we must. There will be compromises, mixes and matches. Some of our decisions will turn out wrong. The key is that they will be really democratic. One of the glories of our movement, and one of the surprising things, is that we all seem to be agreed on the central importance of democracy.

I don’t know exactly what those meetings will decide. I think we’ll want equality, with everyone earning the same. I think we’ll want to share out jobs, so everyone spends part of every week or every year doing the really good jobs, and everyone takes a turn at the boring, hard, difficult jobs.

I’VE LIVED and worked in six countries on four continents. From talking to working people in all those countries, I’m absolutely sure a central thing they will want is freedom from fear.

We spend our whole lives ruled by fear now-fear of being humiliated by the teacher, fear of looking stupid, lying awake at night worrying about money, fear of the gas bill, fear of not being able to get your ageing father into a decent hospital, fear of losing your job and having to come home and tell your husband or wife and your children that you can’t bring home any money, and being ashamed.

Losing your job may happen to you only once or twice in your life, but the fear of it is with you every day. In another world we would make sure that those fears were gone, that everyone lives in security.

It wouldn’t be a perfect world. People would still die, or feel unloved. There would still be problems. But it would be a far, far better world. And in time we would create new people. Two things will help here. First, the people we are now could not create this new world. In fighting for it, and in winning it, we would become quite different people – not just us here in this room, but the majority of people in the world.

Think how much you have changed just by being in Florence, just by this one experience of the European Social Forum, the confidence and hope you have. Then think of that multiplied a thousand times or more in far bigger struggles, and you have some idea how we would change.

But also we would create a new generation, raised in a new world. We have all grown up under capitalism. We carry the scars of much suffering, of grief, of being made to feel small. I smoke. I’m overweight. But each of us carries that suffering in our bodies, in the way we stand and walk.

Look at any baby, at their great eyes drinking in the world in wonder and excitement. Not any baby – not the ones who do not have enough to eat. But the others. And then look at the adults. We would create a world where that wonder could last into adulthood. And those people, raised in a new way, could go on to create yet another world.

I don’t know if we’ll do this in families or not. It may turn out everybody wants a standard family with 2.4 children and a white picket fence. Maybe half the population will turn out to be lesbian or gay. Maybe all the lesbians and gays will want the 2.4 children and the picket fence. I don’t know. But I do know we will be able to make these decisions democratically, with the right to choose what we really want.

It won’t be easy to make this new world. We are now at the beginning of the anti-capitalist movement. Before us is a long hard road, with many ups and downs. We will win victories we cannot now imagine, and live through shattering defeats. In the process, we will grow in numbers, and all of us will change profoundly.

No one can say we are bound to win a new world. Our slogan is “Another world is possible”, not that it is certain. But I do know this. I’m 54 years old, and have been a revolutionary all my adult life. Until a year ago I didn’t think I’d see another world in my lifetime. Ever since the great demonstration in Genoa last year I have known that it is now possible.”

Jonathan Neale is the author of You Are G8, We Are Six Billion: The Truth Behind the Genoa Protests, £9.99, from Bookmarks – phone 020 7637 1848 or online from

Article stolen from here:

Sunday, May 25, 2008

The Perils of Racial Solidarity by Kevin Alexander Gray

Read the full article at Black Agenda Report

Kevin Alexander Gray ends his article with this:

Ask me to pick between Wright or Obama? Well I agree with history.
“The United States of America government, when it came to treating her citizens of Indian descent fairly, she failed. She put them on reservations. When it came to treating her citizens of Japanese descent fairly, she failed. She put them in internment prison camps. When it came to treating citizens of African descent fairly, America failed. She put them in chains. The government put them on slave quarters, put them on auction blocks, put them in cotton fields, put them in inferior schools, put them in substandard housing, put them in scientific experiments, put them in the lowest paying jobs, put them outside the equal protection of the law, kept them out of their racist bastions of higher education and locked them into position of hopelessness and helplessness. The government gives them the drugs, builds bigger prisons, passes a three-strike law…”
Wright said that, and I agree with all of it.
And like Wright, I agree that progressive politics in the last 40 years has affirmed the Cuban peoples' revolution, aided the anti-apartheid movement, opposed Reagan's war in Central America, and have maintained that Zionism is racism. But I’m an unapologetic secularist. I’m not into ‘damning’ or waiting for God’s wrath to smite anybody. I believe the people, on earth, are responsible for change. And just as important, I believe Obama is a piece of the story not the whole story.
In the end, I’m against unthinking, uncritical and blind solidarity be it racial, gender or sexually-related, etc. If solidarity makes you fall in line without asking where you’re going, don’t be surprised if you end up lost, or worse.
Kevin Alexander Gray
Read the full article here

Monday, May 19, 2008

Marxists on Global Warming - 3 MP3s

Stop Global Warming, Changing the World? by Jonathan Neale
Neale argues that climate change could possibly be halted short of a global socialist revolution, but the enormous obstacles we face will at least require a global mass movement. Hear his strategic ideas on how we get there.
-A ResistanceMP3 from Marxism 2007

Marxism and Ecology by Alison Smith
Marx didn't know about Global warming but Alison Smith argues that Marx's historical materialism has a lot to offer the climate change debate, particularly his concept of the "metabolic rift" produced by Capitalism. She ends her talk with this key quotation from Karl Marx: "The only answer to the ecology of destruction of Capitalism is to revolutionize our productive relations in ways that allow for a metabolic restoration. This will require a break with Capitalism's own system of social and metabolic reproduction, ie the logic of profit. Because capitalism creates a contradiction within it's own reproduction that means that it cannot be sustained, and the only means to creating sustainable society is to restore this rift through revolutionizing the means of production, ie to gear production to distribution according to need as opposed to distribution for the market.
-A ResistanceMP3 from Marxism 2007

A Really Inconvenient Truth by Joel Kovel.
"In this new film Kovel argues that we need to go far beyond Al Gore's reading of the climate change crisis. The author of 'The Enemy of Nature,'
Kovel contends that global warming is directly related to the workings of capitalism."
-Against the Grain Wednesday, May 7th, 2008

Saturday, May 17, 2008

The Working Class is Back. And Guess What. It's White.

Carl Bloice
Thursday, May 15, 2008

After decades of the major media's refusal to link the
word "working" with "class," the print pages and
airwaves are now alive with talk about the conditions,
aspirations and views of working people. Journalists,
who only a few weeks ago would have scoffed at the mere
mention of there being a "working class." are now
throwing the term around with abandon. The problem is
that it being employed to only cover part of that class;
African American, Latino, Asian and Native American
working people are somehow being left out of the
demographic equation.

Up until quite recently there was only the "middle
class." The term always defied precise definition. In
contemporary U.S. mass media parlance it has come to be
defined by income. That is, people - no matter what they
do nine-to-five - who make too little money to be rich
and too much to be poor.

On the other hand, traditionally and more logically the
working class is defined as being made up of people
employed by someone else - usually the rich, but
sometimes the government - making refrigerators, waiting
tables or data processing. In it are people of all races
and creeds. However, as this year's presidential
campaign got rolling, "middle class" began to give way
to "blue collar" as the nom-de-choice for describing
working people. But that didn't last long. Soon the
group whose votes the candidates were targeting became
not just the working class, but the "white working
Article Continues Here

Wednesday, May 14, 2008

NW Winter Soldier event, May 31

Saturday, May 31st from Noon to 4:15pm
Seattle Town Hall, 8th Ave & Seneca St
Find Out More: G.I. Voice

Anti-war Marches: Who Goes and Why?

"Rachel Cohen has been surveying anti-war protesters on recent demonstrations – and uncovering a few surprises in the process"

Monday, April 28, 2008

Nader Runs Again

Ralph Nader is once again providing an antidote to Democratic Party lesser-evilism. Many on the left have been swept up in the mass media induced Obama-mania, going so far as to call the Obama campaign a "movement". As Glen Ford of Black Agenda Radio explains succinctly: "The Obama campaign is not a movement - it's a parade." The Nader campaign, by contrast, is assisting the development of a mass movement by inserting left wing ideas and solutions into the mainstream discussion.

Reacting to the right-wing shift of the Democrats in recent decades, Nader has moved beyond his traditional role as the nation's premier citizen-reformer. While stepping into electoral politics, he has not abandoned his traditional stance as a maverick. For example, when running on the Green Party ticket in 1996 and 2000 he never actually joined the party. In 2004, when the Green Party lost it's nerve under pressure from the Democrats and the "Anybody But Bush" mentality, Nader lost the Green Party nomination but forged ahead as an Independent. In 2008, Nader is again running as an Independent and has withdrawn his name even from consideration as a Green Party candidate.

Nader's independence cuts both ways. He has faced off against corporate power for over 40 years and continues to do so today. Since his run in 2004 he has come under criticism for his lack of party building or leaving behind much organization. It's certainly true that Nader is not a party animal. On the other hand he has never been adverse to other organizations building under the shadow of his campaigns, the Green Party being the most obvious case in point. Whether any new organization develops from Nader's 2008 run remains to be seen. But even if nothing formal takes shape, radical supporters can involve themselves and network for the future.

While electoral campaigns like Nader's can never be the primary stage of struggle against this corrupt undemocratic system, the Nader campaign can help expose the emptiness of Democratic Party rhetoric and aid in the building of a real opposition. It would be unwise for activists of various stripes to completely abandon their efforts outside the electoral arena during this long drawn out electoral season, support for Nader will greatly assist in the rebuilding of the left. Any support for the pro-war, corporate controlled Democrats will have an effect that is just the opposite.