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Member since: Sat Sep 15, 2012, 01:49 PM
Number of posts: 36,709

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You can't be serious

This is a long post, but I take challenges to my integrity very seriously and have a great deal to say.

I don't attack people for being "left." I'm a Marxist, for Christ sake. The difference is I understand the nature of the capitalist state, and now I get lectured by people who can't tell Marxist analysis from the Sunday newspaper.

I demonstrate my principles often in my posts. I post about social justice, violence, human equality, feminism, racism, empire, and war, even Marxist theory. I clearly express my principles in those threads. If I did not have principles, I would engage in group think and go along with the prevailing view at the time. That is something I have never done. What I do not do is focus entirely on contests among political elites. I know that social change doesn't emanate from the presidency down. As someone with training in social history and social movements in particular, I know that social change comes from the bottom up, and that politicians only respond when compelled to by the people. You see, focusing on the presidency to the exclusion of particular causes reflects a conservative (not as in GOP but in the more traditional meaning, as in great man view of history and social change) worldview. For example, people present FDR as a savior, the only real Democrat, yet show no awareness that FDR acted because he was forced to by widespread social movements. He saved the capitalist system by creating the New Deal that has assuaged many of the excesses of capitalist exploitation. If not for him, it is possible the country might have turned to social revolution at that time. He made sure it did not.

I did not grow up upper-middle or middle-class, so I have never been among the people who expected government to cater to me. I expect for people who grew up in more advantageous circumstances, there probably was a time when they saw government representing their interests. It has never represented the poor, and the days some here hearken back to were a time when the majority of the population was denied basic civil rights and existed outside the body politic.

My academic background in the history of nation building and national identity also enables me to see national mythology at work. Much of the frustration I see here is from people who buy into the national mythology of government for the people and by the people and think that government's failure to serve the needs of common people is new. It is not new. It is endemic to the capitalist state, a state that was never intended to serve common people, which is clear from how the framers set up government. While it is true that the cash nexus between capital and state is more naked than in the past, the fundamental relationship is much the same. A key difference today is that capital is increasingly global, and its accumulation is no longer dependent on nation. That has generated a new host of contradictions that we are witnessing today.

I don't see a lot of principal in endless fixation on contests among political elites. I do not see disputes about individual politicians as reflective of principle. In fact it avoids a discussion of broader and more systemic problems that cannot be solved by a President. When people identify one individual, like Clinton, as responsible for the ills of capitalism, it frustrates me because it reduces a systemic problem to a caricature and thus allows no possibility of addressing it. I consider that a very narrow political worldview.

I have never known of a politician in this country who expressed my views. The closest globally is Salvador Allende, but I know the nature of the country I live in. I look at electoral politics quite pragmatically: my principles are not expressed within the confines of the governmental structures of the capitalist state. When I was younger, I wouldn't identify as a Democrat for that reason and often voted third party. Bush changed that. He was so awful I realized I had to consistently vote for Democrats. I'm all for progressive reform of the party, and time and time again I have suggested that people get involved at the local level to make that happen. Expecting a president to spontaneously transform society is folly and impossible under the confines of our system.

I live in one of the most progressive states in the country, a state that has gotten a lot of press about its governor lately. Yet missed in that coverage is that we have the most politically engaged population in the country: not only do we have the highest voter participation rates in the country, we organize around issues like marriage equality, defeating voter ID and retaining election-day voter registration, an increase in the minimum wage linked to inflation, requiring employers to pay sick leave, funding for the arts and parks. That is all possible because the population organized for it, not because we waited for a governor to give it to us. If we are to have progressive reform, people need to do that all around the country. Sitting back and waiting for the perfect president to bestow it is a fool's errand. Worse yet, people who think that not voting constitutes a form of activism only make the situation worse.

I think part of what is happening here is we have a fundamental disagreement about what constitutes left. For me, leftism is Marxism, socialism. It is not liberalism, and it is not embodied in a particular US presidential candidate or arguments over individual public figures. And in fact when that is accompanied by hostility to the rights and interest of the subaltern (eg. racial justice, gender equality, and full civil rights for LGBT), I consider it right-wing.

Russian Newspaper publishes Kremlin strategy paper on plans to annex the Ukraine

Drawn up before the fall of the government in Kiev.

First the link to the original publication in Russian: http://www.novayagazeta.ru/politics/67389.html

Translation of the article and document as published on a Ukranian website:

"Novaya Gazeta" is publishing Russia’s plan for the annexation of a number of territories of Ukraine, which were drawn up when Yanukovych was still president of this country.

The document that has come into the possession of Novaya was presumably “brought in” to the Presidential Administration in the period between February 4 and February 12, 2014.

Now excerpts from the document:

2. Russia’s policy toward Ukraine must finally become pragmatic.

First, the regime of Viktor Yanukovych has gone totally bankrupt. Its political, diplomatic, financial, and information support from the Russian Federation is no longer meaningful.

Second, as a sporadic civil war in the form of urban guerrilla of the so-called “supporters of the Maidan” against the leadership of a number of the country’s eastern regions has become a fact, while the disintegration of the Ukrainian state along the line of geographical demarcation of regional alliances - “western regions plus Kyiv” and “eastern regions plus Crimea” - has become part of the political agenda, in these circumstances, Russia should in no way limit its policy toward Ukraine only to attempts to influence the political situation in Kyiv and the relationship of a systemic opposition (A. Yatsenyuk, V. Klitschko, O. Tyagnybok, P . Poroshenko, etc.) with the European Commission.

Third, in an almost complete paralysis of the central government, unable to form a responsible government even facing threats of default and of Naftogaz lacking funds to pay for Russian gas, Russia is simply obliged to get involved in the geopolitical intrigue of the European Community directed against the territorial integrity of Ukraine.

First of all, this is because otherwise our country risks losing not only the Ukrainian energy market, but also indirect control over Ukraine’s gas transportation system, which is much more dangerous. This will endanger the position of Gazprom in Central and Southern Europe, causing huge damage to our country’s economy.

3. The Constitution of Ukraine is in no case able to provide for a mechanism that could legitimately initiate the integration of Ukraine’s eastern territories and Crimea into the state-legal framework of the Russian Federation.

. . .
Current events in Kyiv convincingly show that the Yanukovych’s time in power could end at any moment. Thus, there is less and less time for an appropriate Russian response. The number of dead in riots in the capital of Ukraine is direct evidence of the inevitability of civil war and the impossibility of reaching consensus if Yanukovych remains president. In these circumstances, it seems appropriate to play along the centrifugal aspirations of the various regions of the country, with a view to initiate the accession of its eastern regions to Russia, in one form or another. Crimea and Kharkiv region should become the dominant regions for making such efforts, as there already exist reasonably large groups there that support the idea of maximum integration with Russia.

4. Of course, taking the burden of supporting Crimea and several eastern territories, Russia will be forced to take on budget expenses, which would be cumbersome in the country’s present position.

Undoubtedly, this will affect macroeconomic stability and the prospects for economic growth. However, geopolitically, the prize will be invaluable: our country will gain access to new demographic resources, highly qualified industry and transport personnel will be at its disposal. In addition, it can count on the emergence of new eastward Slavic migration flows - as opposed to the Central Asian migration trends. The industrial potential of the Eastern Ukraine, including the military-industrial sector, once included in the Russian military-industrial complex, will allow for the faster and more successful implementation of the program of rearmament of Russia’s military forces.

What is equally important, Russia’s constructive, “smoothing” participation in the highly probable disintegration of the Ukrainian state will not only give new impetus to the Kremlin’s integration project, but will also allow our country to retain control over Ukraine’s gas transportation system, as mentioned above. And at the same time, it will allow there to be significant changes in the geopolitical situation in Central and Eastern Europe, allowing Russia to regain its major role there.

5. To start the process of a “pro-Russian drift” of Crimea and eastern Ukrainian territories, events should be created beforehand that can support this process with political legitimacy and moral justification; also a PR-strategy should be built that draws attention to the forced, reactive nature of the actions of Russia and the pro-Russian political elites of southern and eastern Ukraine.

Read more on UNIAN: http://www.unian.info/politics/1048525-novaya-gazetas-kremlin-papers-article-full-text-in-english.html

The document lays out the strategy for annexation of Crimea and parts of the Eastern Ukraine, as well as Russia's clear economic and geopolitical motives--"the prize"--for doing so.

One Perfect Tweet Shows Just How Ridiculous Everything Is

Hemal Jhaveri ✔ @hemjhaveri
People are losing their shit over Patricia Arquette saying that women deserve equal rights. Like this is how low we are right now.
9:13 PM - 22 Feb 2015


Look pretty and thank the Academy, dear. Remember your place.

OMG, there is actually a driver worse than my mother

and the person is in Calgary. This is hysterical.

I find it ironic that on the same day we have a thread lambasting Obama

for not delivering on a single payer promise he never made while running for President, we have yet another skewering the only potential candidate who actually sought to implement single payer.

The arrogance involved in thinking you can predict the future candidate for elections that have not yet happened is stupefying. I don't know who is going to run much less who is going to win, but I can tell you with absolutely certainty the last place I will look for insight into the candidates is here. You people have been carrying on the same inane fantasy presidential election games for years and watched the Senate go to the GOP in the process, with barely a notice save a celebration thread or two for the defeat of Mary Landrieu.

The idea that a president can transform a society is an absurdity. You all are fantasizing about Warren as you did about Obama, and know just as little about her as you did him. If by some miracle you get your wish and she is elected, in a couple of years time you'll be complaining about how she is a sell out because she didn't deliver what she never promised. A president is not Santa Claus and it isn't mommy or daddy. It is a limited constitutional position that has to work with congress, a congress some here helped turn GOP by telling everyone not voting was some act of political protest. Sure it is. It's a protest that benefits the GOP, the party that won.

I don't know how it is possible to have such little awareness of the country or political system one lives under. I don't know how one let alone a group of people can imagine the power to unmake the political elite (which is what fucking electoral politics is) and corporate capitalism lies in a presidential candidate. You live in a capitalist state, in a country built around capitalism, and have fantasies that a president is going to unmake the very nature of the state he or she serves? No wonder you all spend so much time complaining. You haven't even figured out what country you live in. Or perhaps you all don't really have an issue with capitalism at all. Perhaps the reason you never before figured out that the American political system serves capital is because many of you are privileged enough that until recently you were on the winning side of that class struggle, and what you're really pissed off about is not inherent inequality in the system but that your own position has slipped a bit to where you are a bit closer to being like the rest of us.

There have been changes under the current president, an end to don't ask don't tell, a rapid growth in marriage equality, equal pay for equal work, vigorous defense of the voting rights act, enforcement of Title IX on college campuses to help keep women somewhat safer from sexual assault; national health care, and an opening of diplomatic relations with Cuba. People here have called that crumbs. They don't care because it's not about them.

Why cannot we denounce specific acts and practices

and beliefs rather than indict an entire religion and it's people? I am more than willing to denounce practices like female circumcision, denying women education, the ability to move freely in public, etc.... That doesn't mean I need to indict all of Islam. How does that help Muslim women whose religion is important to them?

I despise war. Does that mean I need to hate America? Should Muslims who resent war hate all of America? Are all Americans imperialist assholes who deserve what we get? Is America and democracy itself imperialist concepts? It's the broad brushing that's the problem. Yes, America is imperialistic, but that is not all we are. Yes, part or much of Islam is misogynistic, but that is not all it is.

The stereotypes people are repeating in this thread have been carefully inculcated in us by our government and the media. People use religion as an excuse for bigotry against great swaths of the population. It enables us to round them up and detain them, torture them, and bomb them to kingdom come. But they are misogynistic terrorists who practice a barbaric religion, so that makes it okay. No, it doesn't. The indictment of Islam is the ideological arm of the military war against parts of the Middle East. I support neither the propaganda or the war.

Charlie Hebdo, Don't pretend your new issue does not disrespect Islam

Charlie Hebdo has the right to publish what it likes within the confines of French law. I don't dispute their right to free speech, and under no circumstances do I condone or excuse the murders. Pretending, however, that there is something respectful or conciliatory about this second edition is farcical.

"We didn't know how we were going to start," he said. "I didn't know if it was going to be possible for me to draw, quite honestly."

But he did. First a cartoon that served as "catharsis," and then, after many iterations, he drew a cartoon of Islam's Prophet Muhammad shedding a tear and holding a sign with what's become the slogan of this tragedy: "Je Suis Charlie," or "I am Charlie." Above it all, there's a headline that reads, "All Is Forgiven."

Charlie Hebdo chose to be defiant. They also chose to disrespect Islam and French Muslims. Depictions of the Prophet Mohammad is seen as blasphemous under Islam. Edit: The question of depicting images of Mohammad is more complicated that I originally thought. Oberlinger links to some very interesting articles below, while this article shows that many Muslims were indeed bothered by the second cover. http://www.democraticunderground.com/1014989137

Many Muslims believe their faith forbids depictions of the prophet, and reacted with dismay — and occasionally anger — to the latest cover image. Some felt their expressions of solidarity with Charlie Hebdo after last week's attack had been rebuffed, while others feared the cartoon would trigger yet more violence.

Aniconism in Islam not only deals with the material image, but touches upon mental representations as well. It is a thorny question, discussed by early theologians, as to how to describe God, Muhammad and other prophets, and, indeed, if it is permissible at all to do so. God is usually represented by immaterial attributes, such as "holy" or "merciful", commonly known from His "Ninety-nine beautiful names". Muhammad's physical appearance, however, is amply described, particularly in the traditions on his life and deeds recorded in the biographies known as Sirah Rasul Allah. Of no less interest is the validity of sightings of holy personages made during dreams.

Titus Burckhardt sums up the role of aniconism in sacred Islamic art as follows:

"The absence of icons in Islam has not merely a negative but a positive role. By excluding all anthropomorphic images, at least within the religious realm, Islamic art aids man to be entirely himself. Instead of projecting his soul outside himself, he can remain in his ontological centre where he is both the viceregent (khalîfa) and slave ('abd) of God. Islamic art as a whole aims at creating an ambience which helps man to realize his primordial dignity; it therefore avoids everything that could be an 'idol', even in a relative and provisional manner. Nothing must stand between man and the invisible presence of God. Thus Islamic art creates a void; it eliminates in fact all the turmoil and passionate suggestions of the world, and in their stead creates an order that expresses equilibrium, serenity and peace."


In the great traditions of Islamic art and architecture, the human figure is rarely depicted, while Allah and Mohammad never appear. Note, for example, the Sheikh Lotf Allah Mosque in Isfahan, Iran in comparison to the Sistine Chapel.

It does not matter if the Prophet is crying or holding a machine gun. All images are seen as blasphemous. Certainly journalists operating in a country with a significant Muslim population know something so basic. In exercising their rights to free speech, Charlie Hebdo chose to disrespect Islam and French citizens of the Muslim faith. Their legal right to free speech even allows them to cloak that disrespect in the language of forgiveness, while my rights to free speech enable me to say I find their explanation disingenuous and willfully ethnocentric. Charlie Hebdo, you are full of shit.

National Mythology: The Melting Pot

There are a number of mythologies that people don't seem to understand for the myths they are, but here I will address one: The melting pot. It was never a cultural ideal. It was instead a cultural mechanism to induce immigrants to assimilate into Anglo-American cultural norms. Henry Ford used to stage plays at his factory: immigrants walked onto the stage in immigrant garb, entered the melting pot and emerged dressed as "Americans"--adopting the dress and mannerisms of Anglo-American culture and thereby signaling they knew how to be American.

Not everyone was, of course, capable of melting. Nineteenth-century images of the melting pot often portrayed an Irishman on the edge, refusing to melt.

Then there was the fact that African Americans, Hispanic Americans, Tribal Peoples, and Asian Americans were kept out of the pot.

Some seem to think Civil Rights meant everyone was supposed to melt, to become like the dominant culture. Following the Civil Rights movements of the 60s, a new metaphor emerged to describe America, the mixed salad bowl. Americans come from a wide array of cultural backgrounds. While part of the same country, we are not all the same ethnically, racially, or culturally. The salad bowl was meant to convey the idea that people could be part of a common nation without having to assimilate, to become like Anglo-Americans, in order to be productive members of society. They could speak native languages and engage in distinct cultural practices without being un-American. America was better off as a mixed salad because the various elements all contributed to the whole. They didn't have to erase their identities and "melt" in order to belong.

Now some here long fondly for the good old days when everyone was like them, didn't express cultural difference, and didn't talk about concerns about cultural appropriation. Those good old days were good for a select few, but not for most of us. They were good for the dominant culture, race, and gender, but not the majority of Americans. The good old days were an era of Jim Crow segregation. I do not long for those days. Being part of an inclusive society means that you are going to be exposed to ideas that make you uncomfortable. A diverse society means that people of color, of different immigrant or ethnic backgrounds, are going to talk about their experiences in ways that make many of you uncomfortable. To never be uncomfortable is to never learn. My plea is that you try to embrace that discomfort and learn something about the lives of others.

false, there is an active arrest warrant for sexual assault

In which the victim says he forcibly held her down and compelled her to have sex with him.
On 13th – 14th August 2010, in the home of the injured party in Stockholm, Assange, by using violence, forced the injured party to endure his restricting her freedom of movement. The violence consisted in a firm hold of the injured party’s arms and a forceful spreading of her legs whilst lying on top of her and with his body weight preventing her from moving or shifting.

Arrest warrant:


British high court rulings on Sweden's request to extradite Assange: http://www.bailii.org/ew/cases/EWHC/Admin/2011/2849.html

The condom story is one widely circulated to trivialize the charges of assault.

I have seen people repeatedly refuse to read the warrant and continue to spread false information. It really comes down to this: they refuse to believe someone they admire could be a rapist and will not look at evidence that contradicts what they want to believe. The fact is people we like and admire are rapists. If one only holds accountable for rape those we do not admire, that means there is no effective prohibition against sexual assault, which is in fact the current state of affairs, the rape culture members of this group comment on. This could be about a football player or a movie director, and the story would be the same, as it is the same for all accused rapists. People make excuses for them and in so doing ensure that rape is not effectively prosecuted. Everyone believes their reasons are just, but the fact is courts determine guilt, not random chatter on the internet. Assange has chosen to evade questioning rather than face Swedish authorities. That is why he has been held up in the Ecuadorian embassy all these years.

Man Stabbed For Asking Someone to Stop Catcalling His Girlfriend

But catcalling is just men showing their affection for women, really. It's about power, power maintained through violence when necessary. Suggesting that women be treated as human beings has become dangerous in a society where misogynists will go to any length to keep the majority of the population down in order to convince themselves they aren't nothing. Fact is, they are less than nothing, pathetic losers who see the world around them changing and like the Klan and similar groups will do anything to try to maintain their illusion of power.

Man Stabbed For Asking Someone to Stop Catcalling His GirlfriendQExpand

A San Francisco man was stabbed and sustained life threatening injuries simply because he dared to ask a catcaller to leave his girlfriend alone.

On Nov. 15, Ben Schwartz, 31, was brutally stabbed nine times in the Tenderloin district of San Francisco after he asked a catcaller to stop harassing his girlfriend. Via SF Gate:

Daniela Saavedra, a friend, said that the group had passed the man twice before and that he had catcalled Schwartz's girlfriend each time. "

All he said was, 'Can you please just stop?'" Saavedra said. "The man then sort of trailed behind them, and that's when he attacked."

The man stabbed Schwartz nine times in the back, face, neck and arms, puncturing a lung, Saavedra said. She said gashes on his arms required about 60 stitches each, while the cuts to his back just missed his spinal cord.

According to police, Schwartz's request ignited an argument with the man who apparently is willing to kill someone just for his perceived goddamn right to tell a girl how she makes his boner feel.

So far, no one has been arrested for the crime. Police are asking anyone with information about the stabbing call police at (415) 553-0123, call their anonymous tip line at (415) 575-4444, or send a text to TIP411 with "SFPD" at the beginning of the message.

SF Gate reports that Schwartz, an advertising student at the Art Institute of California, is a decent guy who goes out of his way to do nice things for other people.

In February, as reported in The Chronicle, he went out of his way to buy a bicycle on the street that he thought was stolen, then searched for its rightful owner. The owner, a freelance photographer for The Chronicle, had been desperately searching for it when Schwartz contacted him.

All he did was ask "can you please stop."

There is a fundraising page set up to help with his medical bills and according to the page, Schwartz is recuperating from his injuries:

People should be aware that when they defend catcalling, this is the order they seek to maintain. Of course they know that, which is why that have worked so hard to pretend that feminism is anti-democratic and that their ideology is anything but propaganda for violent degradation of human beings, men and women alike. This is what they work so hard to maintain; they know without violent control they have nothing because they are nothing.
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