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arendt's Journal
arendt's Journal
May 22, 2016

The Media Show Trial of Sanders Supporters Continues

What has happened since NV is much more than a one-time lie. This is a propaganda campaign orchestrated in the corporate media, backed up by on-line trolls, and generally presented as "reality". The lie is being repeated incessantly on comedy shows. Other names for this are "The Big Lie", "total immersion propaganda", and the Show Trial (favored by Stalin).

I saw them, two little paperback brothers, the UK or Criminal Code, and the UPK or Code of Criminal Procedure, on a newsstand in the Moscow sub…I read them today touched with emotion. For example, the UPK — the Code of Criminal Procedure:

"Article 139: The accused has the right to set forth his testimony in his own hand, and to demand the right to make corrections in the deposition written by the interrogator."

Oh, if we had only known that in time! But what I should say is: If that were only the way it really was! We were always vainly imploring the interrogator not to write "my repulsive, slanderous fabrications" instead of "my mistaken statements," or not to write "our underground weapons arsenal" instead of "my rusty Finnish knife."

- Alexander Solzhenitsyn, The Gulag Archipelago

This "re-writing" is exactly what we are seeing after NV:

Booing and cursing after being shutdown by rules violations is rewritten as "violence".

Actual violence by an HRC supporter - who was arrested, BTW - vanishes from TV coverage. The corporate media certainly does not ask HRC to apologize for that high-profile actor. But anonymous plebs who really did nothing but yell? Bernie MUST apologize.

Zero evidence of chairs thrown, physical violence, or arrests of anyone is rewritten as "a riot".

Sen. Boxer flipping people off (video DOES exist) is rewritten as "I was in fear".


This campaign season is done with politics. It is now down to propaganda, whichever side can shout the loudest and longest. After the primaries, prepare for an absolute shitstorm of propaganda. Do not expect to be enlightened.

As Jacques Ellul said:

"It is sometimes said that two competing propagandas cancel each other out; if, however, one regards propaganda not as a debate of ideas or the promulgation of a doctrine, but as psychological manipulation designed to produce action, one understands that these two propagandas, far from canceling each other out because they are contradictory, have a cumulative effect. A boxer, groggy from a left hook, does not return to normal when he is hit with a right hook; he becomes groggier

........Jacquess Ellul, "Propaganda, the Formation of Men's Attitudes", pp 181-2


May 19, 2016

The Great Recession, the Rust Bowl, and the New Okies - The Grapes of Wrath Redux

Today, eight years after the Crash of 2008, we are witnessing a somewhat less brutal echo of the desperate decade of the Great Depression. The echo is only "somewhat less brutal" due to the few bits of New Deal legislation that remain intact, not yet having been stripped from the books by the rabid government haters and profiteering privatizers.

The Okies

As the title indicates, I want to talk about the striking similarity of the economic inequality between then and now. I do not want to be distracted by arguments about which group today is in the most desperate economic straits. So I am going to use the "Okies" of the Great Depression to examine what is happening to all desperate unemployed people today.(Footnote 1) "Okie" started as an insult, like "mick", "kike", "wop", etc. The stereotypical Okie was an ignorant hillbilly who was lazy and liked to drink and fight. Sound familiar? Today we hear that millenials are lazy, stupid, expect too much. Bernie Bros are "violent". According to TPTB, expecting to find work to pay off your student loan is expecting too much.

Disparaging an Okie wasn't about race: Oakies were white. It wasn't about gender: they treated men, women, and children with equal cruelty. The sneering was about MONEY. The same kind of sneering directed at "losers" and "moochers" today by stone-hearted neoliberal ideologues.

Like most terms that disparage specific groups, it was applied by the dominant cultural group…what native Californians failed to realize at the time was that these Okie migrant farm workers had not always lived in the conditions that the Dust Bowl left them in. In fact, often these families had once owned their own farms and had been able to support themselves.

- Wikipedia Okie

The Dust Bowl was a natural/manmade (Footnote 2) disaster that happened in the midwest at the same time as the depression. To the Okies, it was like being hit by a car after your house burned down. After half a decade of families going broke, farms getting foreclosed, and health getting worse from breathing the dust that hung like a pall for literally years, people had enough. (Can you say "enough is enough"?) They were either already evicted, or they abandoned their worthless property. They packed their worldly possessions into their cars and trucks and struck out for California, which handbills touted as a land of opportunity and jobs. They wound up as migrant labor.

The Rust Bowl and the mirage of the sharing economy

In America today, the former Rust Belt has gotten even worse, as factories and jobs continue to be shipped overseas en masse, as entire states are bankrupted (and their infrastructure left to rot or be privatized) by radical rightwing economic theories, put in place by right wing gangsters like Scott Walker and Sam Brownback. Those people (young, old, of all races and genders) who have had enough of the thirty year long Rust Bowl - people whom I shall label the New Okies - have heard that the "gig economy", a.k.a. "the sharing economy" was a wondrous place where you could find jobs, and by sheer hard work become rich.

Of course, if you have a degree from Stanford and billions of free cash (see "unicorns") from the Venture Capital industry, these fairy tales might come true. But if you are trying to make a living as an Uber driver or renting your house via AirBnB, or cooking meals for EatWith - or any of the other illegal-on-their-face schemes to simply vaporize regulations and reimpose completely unregulated capitalist predation - you will find yourself working for chump change.

Meanwhile, as a customer of these unregulated businesses, you may be raped or robbed by an Uber driver, you may get bedbugs from your "hotel room", or the rentor may suffer vandalism, theft, or violence, or you may get food poisoning or hepatitis from a "take-out joint". If you try to sue Uber, they dump all the blame onto their "independent contractor", thereby dodging any legal liability. Such are the wonders of unregulated capitalism.

The conditions of the workers

The "sharing economy" is really a share-cropping economy - in the same league with the migrant camps that the Okies were forced into upon arrival in California. The gig workers are just another variation on migrant workers, waiting desperately at the collection point for some strawboss to pick them out of the lineup for a day's work.

Because of the minimal pay, these families were often forced to live on the outskirts of these farms in shanty houses they built themselves. These homes were normally set up in groups called Squatter Camps or Shanty Towns…Due to this lack of sanitation in these camps, disease ran rampant among the migrant workers and their families. Also contributing to disease was the fact that these Shanty Town homes that the Okie migrant workers lived in had no running water, and because of their minimal pay medical attention was out of the question.

- Wikipedia

In the "somewhat less brutal" Great Recession, the New Okies live in their parents' houses, try to piece together some dead-end jobs, try desperately to pay off non-dischargable student loans, and generally watch their lives slip through their fingers. They are forced to postpone starting families. Even with ACA, healthcare is precarious. The 2010s, in some ways, more cruel than the 1930s. Many of the New Oakies have college educations. They can look things up on the Internet. They did the things they were told should give them a shot at a good life. They know what they are missing. They know they have been robbed.

The Grapes of Wrath

The New Okie generation has yet to have a movie of the quality of "The Grapes of Wrath"(GoW) to describe the organized wretchedness imposed on an entire population for the benefit of a few landowners, and to appeal to the public for justice.

Steinbeck wrote: "I want to put a tag of shame on the greedy bastards who are responsible for this [the Great Depression and its effects]."

The non-existence of such a movie is hardly surprising. Hollywood wouldn't make any money from such a movie, given the movie audience are 12-year old boys who like sex and violence. Besides, who can afford to go to the movies anymore?

The movie version of GoW itself was self-censored, leaving out some of Steinbeck's more devastating critiques:

the producers decided to tone down Steinbeck's political references, such as eliminating a monologue using a land owner's description of "reds" as anybody "that wants thirty cents an hour when we're payin' twenty-five," to show that under the prevalent conditions that definition applies to every migrant worker looking for better wages.

"Steinbeck was attacked as a propagandist and a socialist from both the left and the right of the political spectrum. The most fervent of these attacks came from the Associated Farmers of California; they were displeased with the book's depiction of California farmers' attitudes and conduct toward the migrants. They denounced the book as a 'pack of lies' and labeled it 'communist propaganda

The Grapes of Wrath

Meet the new boss, same as the old boss

In the end, the Okies were rescued by war work in California factories. We could do the same thing with an alternative energy buildout plus a massive infrastructure restoration program. The problem is such work is not going to materialize under today's political leadership. Not under "pragmatic, incremental" Hillary. Not under lunatic Trump.

Understanding that that is reality is why there is a vast anti-elitist sentiment afoot in America today. It crosses all political boundaries. People know they have been robbed - robbed by Wall St. and the WH bailout, robbed by the constant outsourcing of jobs, robbed by Draconian drug laws and massive bills for jails, robbed by diverting half the budget to endless no-win wars that enrich the elite and starve the public infrastructure.

Just as in the 1930s, people are at their economic breaking points. Although right-wingers are willing to support demagogues like Trump and theocrats like Cruz, there are many left wing folks doing the equivalent of labor organizing. I say "the equivalent of" because organized labor has been absolutely shattered by forty years of union-busting laws, union-busting corporations, and union-busting neoliberal ideology. We have strikes without unions (Market Basket), job actions without unions (Fight for $15). We have guerilla pro-worker agitation as an asymmetric strategy against the overwhelming firepower of corporate law.

Where is this all going? I make no prediction about the future; but I see nothing but trouble if we, as is likely, stay on our present course. Just one final point:

The title (Grapes of Wrath) is a reference to lyrics from "The Battle Hymn of the Republic", by Julia Ward Howe:

Mine eyes have seen the glory of the coming of the Lord:

He is trampling out the vintage where the grapes of wrath are stored;

He hath loosed the fateful lightning of His terrible swift sword:

His truth is marching on.

These lyrics refer, in turn, to the biblical passage Revelation 14:19–20, an apocalyptic appeal to divine justice and deliverance from oppression in the final judgment.

Whatever happens is going to be YUGE.


1. Please, please. I am not disparaging the Okies themselves, or the current cohort of totally screwed over people whom I will call the New Okies. I respect the struggles of impoverished workers at all times and in all places. Okie is merely a label. Today, Okie is a badge of pride ("I'm an Okie from Muskogee.&quot Of course, someone could raise the dreaded flag of identity politics to reduce this entire thread to a food fight. I can't stop that; but I can say up front that it is nothing but ratfucking.

2. I say partially manmade because the Southern great plains were too arid for sustainable farming, which had only begun in about 1880 during a wet spell. Fifty years on, mother nature returned to the normal climate and stripped the soil off the parched fields.

May 19, 2016

How is thanking people and admitting I screwed up "disruptive meta"?


The definition of disruptive is "complain". I did not complain. I said nothing negative about anyone, except myself. When people said I had been alert stalked, I said no. I deserved it.

I also offered a mathematical definition of "stochastic", which was asked for after I had been locked out of the original thread. How is that "disruptive".

It is truly stretching the definition of "disruptive" to thank people for the #1 greatest thread on the board, and for trying to clarify the definition of a mathematical term.

Please explain the arbitrary application of the rules here. The rules say "complain". I did not complain.


I am going to LOCK this thread as Disruptive meta.


Threads complaining about Democratic Underground or its members; threads complaining about jury decisions, locked threads, suspensions, bannings, or the like; and threads intended to disrupt or negatively influence the normal workings of Democratic Underground and its community moderating system are not permitted.

PLEASE note that this is a late night hosting decision. As such, few hosts have weighed in, and it is possible that later more could log in and this decision could be reversed.

If that happens, I will unlock this thread. If not, it shall remain locked.

Thank you.
May 10, 2016

Maybe Progressives Should Go On Strike

I am not a member of any organized political party. I am a Democrat.

- Will Rogers

The Democratic Party used to be a Big Tent, and party leaders used to develop compromises to keep people inside the tent. There used to be plenty of room for dissenting opinion and horse-trading. The leadership used to be impartial during primary races. That is why I used to be a first-class member of that party. The party used to be an active promoter and supporter of organized labor.

These days, the Democratic Party is run like a business. Hillary is the CEO. Debbie Wasserman Shultz is the COO. Wall St. is the CFO. And the rest of us are supposed to do what we are told, like workers without a union or a minimum wage law. Case in point, Democrat Obama never set foot in Wisconsin to stop the smashing of the unions there. We workers/voters are supposed to have no alternative and to like it. In these circumstances, I am not a valued party member anymore. I am just a greasy mudsill. That realization has caused me to write this diary in language that union members, and most working Americans, will intuitively understand.

Slave Wages

The Progressive workers (aka the activist base) keep asking what they are getting in return for their work for the party, e.g., organizing, contributing, voting. (Bernie Sanders is behaving like a polite shop steward, taking grievances to management within the established labor-management framework.) The embarrassing and unspoken answer is that the party "pays" them (to use a metaphor that good neoliberals will understand) chump change. Obama and the Clinton's give pretty speeches to the Rotary Club, much as Robber Baron factory owners did. Then they turn around and enrich the C-level (i.e., themselves) via ever more neoliberal and neocon policies. They campaign to the left and govern to the right.

The Clintons inserted neoliberalism into the Democratic Party. Neoliberal policies (especially corporate coup d'etat "trade" deals) are explicitly anti-union, anti-regulation, and anti-worker. Some are even anti-social because, according to Margaret Thatcher, "there is no such thing as society". To neoliberals, workers are not an equal partner or a stakeholder. Workers are a cost to be minimized by outsourcing or underpaid immigrant insourcing.

Hillary Clinton has both been endorsed by neocons and appointed them to key positions in the State Department. Neocon policies pour our resources and our lives down the drain to generate a revenue stream for the MIC - the conglomerate which is the owner of both political parties. They endanger our country by inflaming and inviting blowback from our "good guy" terrorists.

Again with the B-school speak: what is the bottom line here? Well, when your self-proclaimed union boss admits taking tens of millions dollars in speaking fees from management, when you are denied honest bargaining and paid crap wages, and when your work is used to pay for Pinkertons to suppress you, it is only natural to think about striking. It's the only recourse you have left. Of course, party leaders know that and have preemptively deployed the classic strikebreaking tactics: the lockout and scabs.

The Lockout

A lockout is when a business closes its doors to its own workers in order to either drive unemployed workers into penury or in order to bring in scabs. The DNC closed the doors the minute they realized that the Sanders candidacy was not a joke, and could not be ignored or ridiculed away. Since that realization, the DNC has actively obstructed Sanders access to decent debate schedules; blocked Sanders access to voter rolls over a manufactured "violation"; refused to reconsider an early primary calendar that favored one candidate; actively ignored massive and repeated voting irregularities; and, in a blatant instance of partisanship and potential illegality, is running a slush fund for Hillary (the Hillary Victory Fund) to circumvent campaign finance rules. The DNC and their media shills (like the odious David Brock) have been demanding that Sanders quit months before the delegates have been selected.

The fact that Sanders brings Independents into the party is not looked upon as a feature. To management, more informed, motivated workers mean nothing but trouble. Better to lock them out. Hence the insistence on maintaining registered-voter -only primaries with gotcha registration rules and computerized voter suppression via last minute registration changes.

The lockout's latest move is to blatantly and unapologetically pack the convention committees with pro-DNC appointees, completely ignoring the fact that literally half the delegates will be voting against the DNC candidate. Here's a news flash: the DNC should not have a candidate. They are supposed to be neutral until the convention has decided the party's direction.


As has been demonstrated for months, Sanders is not penurious. He out-raised Hillary for several months running. He has all the money and workers he needs to run his campaign and get his message out via non-corporate media outlets on the internet. So, the lockout has failed, even though it continues. In response, management has now decided to call in the scabs.

People said that Hillary should reach out to the Sanders voters to try to get them on board. Instead, she has reached out to REPUBLICANS. She wants more money from Wall St REPUBLICANS to support her neoliberal and neoconservative policies. She wants these conservative-to-reactionary scabs to replace the progressives in the Democratic Party. That way, she will be able to drum the progressives out of the party IF she wins the GE.

Quite clearly Clinton has told the progressives to drop dead. She thinks she doesn't need us because she has GOP scabs to vote for her.

The Strike

In response to these latest behaviors from the DNC camp - confirming everyone's previous suspicions - Progressives, out of sheer disgust, edge ever closer to sitting out the election, much as exploited prison laborers have gone on strike:

Alabama Inmates on Strike, Say They Will "No Longer Contribute to Our Own Oppression"
"We will no longer contribute to our own oppression," Kinetik told Solitary Watch. "We will no longer continue to work for free and be treated like this." People incarcerated at the prisons are paid $0.17 to $0.30 an hour to perform a variety of functions.


The first indication of the strike has been the "Bernie or Bust" campaign. Nuf said.

The next indication has been the active promotion of Hillary's vulnerabilities by Democrats - the constant posting of the fishy to outright illegal behavior of Hillary as SoS. That started with the illegal, easily hackable private server and the emails that vanished from it. Now it has extended into the pattern of pay-to-play contributions to the Clinton Foundation immediately preceding an action by Hillary as SoS.

Why the hell should Progressives run interference for the Clintons on these shady deals? It is just more triangulation: Clinton does something to get the GOP mad at her/him, the GOP goes with their typical behavior: ham-handed overkill, and then the Clintons run screaming to the Democrats to save their ass. We have all seen this bullshit act before. The enemy of my enemy is not necessarily my friend. But, since we have never seemed to learn that in the Middle East no matter how many countries we burn to the ground, I am not sanguine on the chances of people seeing through the Clintonian fog machine.

The Pitfalls

The problem with the strike is that while it may succeed in bankrupting Clinton, Inc., it could merely cause those assets to be bought at bargain basement prices by Trump, Inc. Meet the new boss, same as the old boss. If lame duck Obama doesn't do it after the election, either one of these corporate entities will sign off on on the TPP, TTIP, or other democracy-killing "treaties" that basically let corporations veto laws, even laws that are on the books. Then, workers truly will become disposable commodities and striking will be treated like in the Gulag - with forced labor, exile, and executions.

The Progressives are in a horrible spot. Neither Trump nor Clinton is acceptable to them***, but there is no viable third party alternative. Going on strike in the General Election guarantees either Clinton or Trump. I am all for building a progressive party. However, that is like saying the anti-aircraft missiles will be ready in two weeks, but the bomber with the H-bomb will be over the target in two hours.

We need, right now, a coalition of people who oppose corporate rule, the complete militarization of our society, and the ongoing looting by an un-prosecuted gang of Wall St. crooks. It would seem that is still, just barely, a majority in this country. The problem is finding a candidate that both extreme liberals and extreme conservatives can both hold their nose and vote for. The strike needs a leader that is solidly supported, or it will be smashed.

So far, all I've got is Jimmy Carter. He's been president. He is very Christian, in the best sense. He is too old to be ambitious. He is already on record that America is an oligarchy.

Your suggestions to the union organizing committee are welcome.

*** or to a lot of sane people, not necessarily only in the Democratic Party:

We can’t vote for either one: On world stage, Clinton and Trump present different, but serious, dangers


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