Posts Tagged ‘NRA’

Donald Trump Predicted in Stephen Baxter’s 1995 Novel ‘Titan’

July 16, 2017

I’ve been making my way through Stephen Baxter’s SF novel, Titan, these last few weeks. Baxter’s a British SF writer, with degrees in maths and engineering. He applied to be an astronaut on the Anglo-Soviet mission to Mir in the 1980s, which went to Helen Sharman. He’s probably best known for his Xelee-sequence books. These are set in a universe dominated by the extremely advanced, but mysterious Xelee, who are engaged in a war across the entire universe with the Photino Birds, dark matter creatures determined to age and extinguish the universe of ordinary matter. He has also written other novels about a variety of parthenogenic humans, descended from a lost troop of Romans, a catastrophic flood in the Bronze Age, and the books The Long Earth and The Long War, about parallel worlds, with the late, great Terry Pratchett. His novel, Voyage, an alternative history in which NASA launches a final manned expedition to Mars, was adapted for Radio 4 by Audio Movies in the 1990s. He was also the scientific advisor for the 1990s BBC SF series, Invasion Earth, about aliens from the higher physical dimensions invading the planet.

Titan is also about a last, crewed NASA mission. This time its put together by a team of astronauts, space scientists and ground control crew as the Agency’s last, great space expedition before it is closed down following a shuttle disaster. It’s set in what was then the near future – 2004 onwards – in America increasingly falling into right-wing extremism, irrationalism and Christian fundamentalism. The leading politician and subsequent president, is Xavier Maclachlan, a Texan with standing on an aggressively anti-science platform. Here’s the description of the man and his policies on pages 284-5.

Hadamard was in Washington during the inauguration of Xavier Maclachlan, after his wafer-thin win in the 2008 election.

Maclachlan called it a ‘liberation of the capital’.

Armed militia bands came in from Idaho and Arizona and Oklahoma and Montana, to fire off black-powder salutes to the nationalist-populist who promised to repeal all gun control laws. In the crowd, Hadamard saw a couple of Ku Klux Klan constumes, a sight he though had gone into an unholy past. Come to that, there was a rumour that a former Klan leader was being made ready to become a future White House chief of staff. And in his speech Maclachlan appealed to the people to end what he called the ‘Israeli occupation of Congress’…

And so on.

As soon as Maclachlan lifted his hand from the Bible, US peacekeeping troops in the Balkans and Africa started to board their planes to leave. Foreign aid stopped. The UN was being thrown out of New York, and there was a rumour that Maclachlan was planning some military adventure to take back the canal from Panama.

Army engineers – set in place during the handover from the last Administration – started to build a wall, two thousand miles of it, along the Mexican border, to exclude illegal immigrants. White it was being built, troops brought home from peacekeeping abroad were operating a shoot-to-kill policy.

There was chaos in the financial markets. Machlachlan had withdrawn the US from the North American Free Trade Treaty, from the World Trade Organisation, from GATT. Reviews of the country’s membership of the World Bank and the IMF had started – arms of an incipient world government, Maclachlan said, designed to let in the Russians. He had raised tariffs – ten per cent against Japan, fifty per cent against the Chinese – and world trade collapsed.

The Chinese, particularly, screamed. And so Maclachlan sent the Seventh Fleet to a new station just off the coast of Taiwan.

Meanwhile all the strategic arms treaties with Russia were torn up, as Maclachlan orderd his technicians to dig out the blueprints for Reagan’s old dream of SDI. In fact, Maclachlan wanted to go further. He was inviting ideas for what he called his ‘da Vinci brains trust’. The press was full of schemes for fantastic new weapons: smart remote sensors; dream mines that could shoot at passing traffic; smart armour that would use explosive tiles to deflect incoming projectiles; maybe even an electrical battlefield in which electricity-propelled shells would be zapped in by low-flying aircraft.

And back home, Machlachlan had cut off any remaining programs which benefited blacks and other minorities, and any funding that appeared to support abortion, which had been made illegal in any form.

Xavier Maclachlan was a busy man, and he was fulfilling his campaign promises.

Clearly, much of this is an extrapolation from the policies and attitudes of the Republican party and the American extreme Right in the 1980s and 1990s. Reagan had brought right-wing Christian fundamentalists into the Republican party, who had previously stood aloof from politics as part of a corrupt, fallen secular order. He had also begun to wind up government welfare programmes, particularly those aimed at benefiting minorities, such as Black Americans. Fears of an imminent apocalypse, social breakdown and Russian invasion, even after the collapse of Communism, had resulted in the emergence of the survivalist and then Militia movements, armed right-wing paramilitary groups. These had a bitter resentment of the federal government, which culminated in McViegh’s bombing of the Federal Building in Oklahoma. They also tended to be bitterly racist and anti-Semitic. They believed and still believe in stupid Nazi conspiracy theories that claim that the Jews are trying to destroy the White race through racial intermixing and that America is covertly controlled by the Jews through the ‘Zionist Occupation Government’, or ZOG. These groups and right-wing American fundamentalist organisations also believed that there was a secret, Illuminati conspiracy to create a one world Satanic superstate centred on the UN. Phyllis Schlafly, who was actually a Democrat, regularly denounced the UN as well as women’s rights. And one leading figure in the militias – I think it may have been Bo Gritz, who supposedly served as the model for ‘Rambo’ – stated that the way they would clear America’s international debt would be by minting a single coin with the legend ‘1 Trillion Dollars’. As for the Klan, there were a series of scandals in which senior Republican politicos were revealed as having links to or membership in the White racist terrorist group. The most notorious of these was David Duke in Louisiana, who is unfortunately still around and blaming the Jews for everything even today.

And political scientists and economists were predicting the rise of China and the other ‘tiger economies’, which would dominate the ‘Pacific Century’ even then.

Of course, there are things Baxter failed to predict, like 9/11 and the invasions of Afghanistan and Iraq. He also takes the conventional view that the various free trade agreements and UN organisations, like the IMF and the World Bank, are nice, liberal, benefificial institutions, rather than the way corporate America imposes its own neoliberal policies on the rest of the world, particularly the developing nations.

Not that the Democrats have been much different. Counterpunch has reported that Obama was considering removing the ‘No first strike’ policy towards a nuclear confrontation, and Killary has been every bit as aggressive in her stance towards Russia and China as the Republicans, perhaps even more so.

As for the White extremist and racist groups supporting the new president, all that’s different is that the Klan has been largely replaced, or subsumed, into the internet-based Alt Right. But the hysterical fear of gun legislation, promoted and lavishly funded by the gun manufacturers and the NRA, against the desires of the majority of Americans, and even the NRA’s own rank and file membership, remains strong.

It shows how long the attitudes held by the American right, and which led to the election of Donald Trump, have been around. Since his election, left-wing news sites such as The Young Turks, Secular Talk and the David Pakman Show have reported that Americans have become increasingly dissatisfied with Trump. Sixty per cent of the American public want him impeached. This dissatisfaction even extends to Republican voters.

Trump, however, in his racism, his isolationism, aggressive nationalism and hatred of the welfare state and women’s rights, is very much in line with the general political stance of post-Reaganite right-wing American politicians. Indeed, he’s so much a part of this political trend that, with caveats, his election – or rather, the election of someone like him – was predicted by Baxter over two decades ago.

No wonder an increasing number of young Americans are looking to progressive politicos like Bernie Sanders for leadership and the redemption of their country against a corrupt political elite and the military-industrial complex. And I fervently hope they win, and that humanity will continue to reach out to the cosmos in a spirit of genuine exploration and wonder, and not as another arena for warfare.

Nazis Planned Armed March against Jews in Montana

January 8, 2017

The two videos below, from TYT Nation and the David Pakman Show discuss an armed march that the neo-Nazi website, The Daily Stormer, has announced will take place in the town of Whitefish, Montana against the Jewish community. The mother of the leader of the Alt-Right, Richard Spencer, lives there, and the Nazis are claiming that they will be marching to protest against her business being cheated by Jews. The organiser has stated that the march will be perfectly legal, due to Montana’s liberal laws regarding bearing arms openly, and so they intend to carry high-power rifles. He also predicted that 200 people would attend and that the march would be against ‘Jews, Jewish businesses, and those who support them.’ A local Montana newspaper, the Mazumian, stated that the Nazis had offered to call off the march, provided that certain demands were met.

Discussing the news, the show’s hosts Jeff Waldorf and Ron Placone state that they don’t know what the Nazis’ demands were, but they were probably that the Jews should leave town. Waldorf makes the point that he’s in favour of people’s right to march and demonstrate, but he’s not in favour of the Nazis’ march, for the same reason he’s not in favour of people marching armed against Blacks or Hispanics, or indeed, armed marches. Placone states that such a march would not be protected by the First Amendment anyway. He states that it is not a free speech issue, as the legislation would view it as an incitement to violence. Waldorf notes that the ACLU has defended the Klan’s right to hold peacefully marches on occasion. Waldorf states that he would despise a peaceful march by the Klan, but would accept that they have the right to hold it. However, this is far more menacing. It would be a large number of men attempting to intimidate what is likely to be a very small community in a small town.

Waldorf also states that the situation is made worse by some of the media coverage of the Nazis. He cites one mainstream news programme that referred to the Alt-Right as ‘dapper’, because they looked like ordinary people now, instead of the usual Nazi thugs. The programme seemed to assume that because they looked normal, they should be treated as normal people, despite their abhorrent views. The Alt-Right is simply the same old Nazism, but with a friendlier face.

Waldorf makes the point that this is entirely predictable. Every time hatred towards one group is permitted, such as Hispanics or Blacks, eventually it reaches the Jews. He notes that a number of Jewish journalists have been attacked and threatened, along with non-Jews. He says that he’s been called a Jew by the Alt-Right, which he finds funny as a staunch atheist who has no time for any religion, and that he has an Austrian ancestry going back to the Middle Ages. And even if he were a Jew, he still cannot understand why this would make any difference. He mocks all the stupid anti-Semitic conspiracy theories about how the Jews supposedly run everything, and control banking – which, he notes, is itself an anti-Semitic stereotype. He notes that their anger at this supposed conspiracy means that anti-Semites are nonsensically angry at success. They also can’t be the master race, if the Jews are in charge. He also points out that they miss the fact that there are plenty of White non-Jews running things, including the banks.

Waldorf then makes the distinction between real and fake anti-Semitism. He observes that you will be called an anti-Semite if you protest against the government of Israel, its construction of illegal settlements and that it is an apartheid state. That’s not anti-Semitic, as Jews are separate from the Israeli government. It is, however, genuinely anti-Semitic to claim that Jews are involved in a vast conspiracy against White people.

David Pakman in his segment notes that the march is planned for either this coming week or the week after. The publisher of the Daily Stormer website is Andrew Anglin, and it is his lawyer, who has advised him about the legality of carrying weapons, and that they intend to bus in skinheads from the bay area.

Pakman and his co-host, Pat, state that there’s something actually very funny about the Nazis having to bring in thugs from the Bay area. Pat makes the point that this may have a bright side, in that news of the planned march may result in more countermarches. He gives the example of a planned march by the Klan, which was called off after it was announced shortly after Trump’s election. People responded to the news by organising a massive wave of opposition marches to the racist organisation. Pakman states that the FBI is aware of it, but believes that if carrying arms on the march is legal, there may not actually be much that can be done about it. Pakman makes the point that anti-Jewish sentiment tends to be ignored as it is believed that Jews in America are doing well. However, Jews have been and are the largest group of victims of religious hate crime. In 2014 60 per cent of all crimes were committed against Jews, compared with 14 per cent against Muslims. He is concerned that anti-Semitic hate is becoming increasingly acceptable. He also states that it’s peculiar that the march is being held in Montana, which has very little ethnic diversity. In 2016 there were only 6,000 Jews living in the entire state, 0.77 per cent of the population, compared to the national average of 2.2 per cent.

Pakman doesn’t know what the solution is, as a counterdemonstration, may be equally heavily armed, seems a recipe for disaster. Pat makes the point that they’re probably marching in Montana because of the absence of diversity – there are far more people who look like them, and few Jews, whereas it would be different in somewhere like New York. But Pakman also says that even Andrew Anglin has stated that the march is a joke.

This is a problem, which could only happen in America, where the Second Amendment defends citizen’s rights to own firearms, and where there is a very vocal and aggressive minority defending this right. In Britain the NF have been allowed to march, but the government cracked down very hard in the 1960s when it was revealed that the stormtroopers were organising paramilitary-style training events and were suspected of making bombs to kill Jews. Part of the evidence was a can of weedkiller found in the organisers shed, which had the word ‘weed’ crossed out and replaced with ‘Jew’.

I’ve no doubt that the march, if it goes ahead, will be extremely threatening to Jews and pro- or non-racist gentiles. Racist skinheads in both Britain and America have a reputation for extreme violence. And some of the right-wing gun nuts in America have also shown themselves willing to behave in a threatening manner towards their opponents. A little while ago The Young Turks ran a story about how a group of women demonstrating against pro-gun legislation were harassed by a group of men from the NRA. They surrounded the women carrying high powered assault rifles, and shouted ‘lock and load’. Pat Buchanan, who was a member of Reagan’s team back in the 1980s, and who also had a reputation for anti-Semitism, became notorious for doing the same stunt. Buchanan was so racist and right-wing, that when he won an election in New Hampshire during one of the presidential contests in the 1990s, Joe Queenan opened an edition of Radio 4’s Postcard from Gotham with a clip of a speech by Mussolini, which he joked was il Duce congratulating Buchanan on his electoral victory.

If this march is allowed to proceed, it will embolden Nazis in America and beyond, and we’ll see more armed marches by them and similar hate groups, like the Klan, until there is violence and bloodshed.

The Young Turks have said before about the rise in anti-Semitism following Trump’s attacks on Mexicans and Muslims, that as soon as that box is metaphorically opened, sooner or later it comes round to Jews. It’s probably because of this that the Anti-Defamation League, the Jewish organisation that campaigns against anti-Semitism, has also defended Muslims against rising hatred. And Waldorf is exactly right when he distinguishes real anti-Semitism – like Spencer and his fellow goose-steppers – from perfectly legitimate criticism of Israel and its government’s murderous persecution and ethnic cleansing of the Palestinians.

But who knows – perhaps the Israel lobby will be delighted with such a march. They seem to have seized on similar attacks in Europe to try to encourage European Jews to leave their homelands and settle in Israel. And during the Third Reich Herzog and the other Zionist pioneers were all too glad to see German and European Jews persecuted and murdered, and hated the patriotic German Jewish organisations that stood up for their members’ rights to live in peace in Germany, their homeland. They cynically viewed the Nazis’ butchery of their people as simply another way of increasing emigration to Israel.

Reichwing Watch on Hillary Clinton as the Republican Democrat

November 15, 2016

The world was shocked last week by the election of Donald Trump over Hillary Clinton as the next president of the United States. The news showed footage of Clinton and her supporters weeping at the result. Yet as this documentary from Reichwing Watch shows, Clinton herself was no liberal. They describe her as a Republican Democrat. The description is accurate. As this documentary shows and concludes, she is like her Republican opponents a corporatist militarist, backing powerful companies, the military and the armaments industry against ordinary Americans, the environment, and the smaller nations of Latin America and Iraq, which have had the misfortune to feel the boot of American imperialism. And far from a supporter of women and ethnic minorities, the documentary also shows how she cynically sponsored the punitive legislation that has seen the mass incarceration and denial of federal welfare support to Blacks, defend truly horrific rapists and cover up Bill’s affairs and sexual assaults. All while claiming to be a feminist. The documentary also shows how Hillary was also extremely cynical about gay marriage, opposing it until the very last minute when it was politically expedient.

The documentary is divided into several chapters, dealing respectively with imperialism, Black rights, the gun lobby, the war on women, LGBT rights and corruption. It begins with a quote from Christopher Hitchens urging people not to vote for Hillary, as it is a mistake to support candidates, who are seeking election for therapeutic reasons. He then cites her husband, Bill, as an example.

Chapter 1: Building an Empire

This chapter begins with Killary’s support for the Iraq invasion, despite admissions from other members of the US Congress that the full scale industrial equipment needed to produce weapons of mass destruction was not found, and opposition to her and the invasion from Congressmen Kucinich, Bernie Sanders, Gravett, and the liberal news host, Jon Stewart. It also shows clips of Obama and Christopher Hitchens stating that she had the support of the Republicans for her stance on the Iraq invasion, including Henry Kissinger. Kissinger is rightly described by one of the speakers in this documentary as ‘the greatest unindicted war criminal in the world today’. It discusses how the US supported coup in Ecuador recalls the Kissinger sponsored coup in Chile that overthrew Salvador Allende in favour of the Fascist dictator, General Pinochet. It also mentions Killary’s sponsorship of the military coup in Honduras and the assassination of the indigenous rights leader, Berta Carceres. After the coup, Killary ensured that the regime received American aid, including military, in return for which American corporations also received lucrative contracts, especially in the construction of the dams. This section of the documentary also shows how Killary is absolutely ruthless and single-minded when it comes to pursuing her own projects, even at the possible expense of her husband’s interests. When Bill Clinton was finally considering intervening in Bosnia in the 1990s, Killary refused to support him until the very last minute as she was also afraid that this would affect her own healthcare reforms. She was also a firm supporter of No Fly Zones in Syria, despite the view of many others that these would lead directly to war with Russia.

Chapter II: Black Lives Matter

The title of this section of the documentary is highly ironic, considering that for much of her career, Shrillary hasn’t been remotely interested in Black rights, and indeed began her political involvement actively opposing them. She herself freely admits that when she was in college, she was a Goldwater Girl, supporting the segregationist Republican candidate Barry Goldwater. When Bill Clinton was governor of Arkansas, he and Hillary continued to celebrate Confederate Flag Day along with the rest of the reactionaries. There’s also a clip of her describing the threat of urban ‘super predators’ connected to the drug gangs. This was a term that at the time was used almost exclusively to describe Black men. There’s a clip of Michelle Alexander, the author of The New Jim Crow, about contemporary legislation designed to marginalise and impoverish Black America, denouncing the extremely punitive legislation Killary and Bill introduced as part of the war on drugs. These deny federal welfare aid to those convicted of drug offences for going to college, access to public housing and even food stamps. This was part of the Clinton’s strategy to win back swing voters, who had voted for Reagan and the Republicans. Clinton herself continued her strategy of appealing to White voters at the expense of Blacks. In 2008 she credited White voters for supporting her against Barack Obama. She also at one point discussed the assassination of Bobby Kennedy when answering a question about how long she planned to continue her campaign against Obama. She was viciously attacked for this by Stewart, who was outraged that she should mention this at a time when Obama was receiving death threats because of he was a Black man aiming at the presidency. Hillary was also herself extremely cynical in mentioning Obama’s Muslim background and upbringing. Without ever quite saying that he was a Muslim, and therefore shouldn’t be president, she nevertheless reminded people that he had been, thus reinforcing their prejudices.

Chapter III: The Gun Lobby

This begins with Hillary denouncing the armaments industry. However, once in power, she approved $122 million in sales for the gun firms, many of which produced the weapons used by Adam Lanza to shoot his mother and the other children at Sandy Hook school. She also managed to raise American armament sales abroad by 80 per cent over her predecessor, Condoleeza Rice, approving $165 billion of armaments sales in four years. These companies then invested part of their profits in the NRA, which sent lobbyists to Washington, several of whom, including representatives of Goldman Sachs, then went and attended a fundraising dinner for the Clintons.

Chapter IV: The War on Women

This concludes with a clip of Madeleine Albright urging women to vote for Clinton as ‘there is a special place in Hell for women, who do not help other women’. Yet Clinton’s own feminism and support for women is extremely patchy. This part of the documentary begins with her making a speech about how women’s rights are human rights, and vice versa. Which is clearly true. However, it then goes on to play a recording of her talking in 1975 about how she successfully defended a monstrous rapist, who had attacked a 12 year old girl. The girl was left in a coma for several months, needed considerable therapy to help her back on her feet afterwards. She has been on drugs, never married or had children. Her life has been ruined because of this monstrous assault, by a man Clinton knew was guilty, but successfully defended. Due to plea bargaining, he only served a derisory two months in prison.

This part of the documentary also shows how Hillary covered up for Bill’s affairs, and his sexual assault of Juanita Broderick. Broderick, then married, was a nurse at a nursing home, who had done some campaigning for the Clintons. They visited the home, during which Clinton sexually assaulted her in one of the bedrooms. Afterwards Killary approached her, caught her by the hand, and said that they appreciated how much she meant to her husband. Broderick clearly, and not unreasonably, considers this to be a veiled threat, and states that Killary frightened her. The section concludes with a piece about her support for another Democrat, Cuomo, and how this candidate was really another Republican in the guise of a Democrat, who believed in trickle-down Reaganite economics.

Chapter V: LGBT Rights

This begins with a clip from an interview with a gay serviceman, stating how it was very difficult initially in the navy when his sexuality was first known about. This section of the documentary shows how she actively opposed gay marriage until she thought there was votes in supporting it. She is seen supporting her husband’s ‘don’t ask, don’t tell’ policy towards gays in the military as a progressive position, despite the fact that Bill himself said it was only a compromise. It then shows her making speeches declaring that she believed marriage should only be between a man and a woman, and that New York State should not recognise gay marriage.

Chapter VI: Corruption

This part begins by discussing how the Clinton’s took money from Tyson’s, one of the major poultry producers in Arkansas, and one of the agri-businesses credited with polluting 3,700 miles of the states’ waterways. Clinton passed laws setting up a task force to looking into the problem, while ensuring that about a third of the seats on this quango went to Tyson’s. Tyson’s were an important contributor to the Clintons’ campaign funds, in return for which Bill passed laws favouring the firm, and allowing them to grow into the state’s biggest poultry firm.

And the corruption didn’t stop there. It goes on to show how Killary did absolutely nothing to challenge Walmart’s ban on trade unions when she was on their board, and the company still lags behind others in promoting women to important positions. She was also hypocritical in her ‘Buy American’ campaign to persuade Americans to buy domestically produced goods. While she was at Walmart, the company continued to sale imported goods, some of which were even misleadingly labelled as ‘made in America’. This included clothing made in factories in Bangladesh which employed 12 year old girls.

Elsewhere, Killary also campaigned against a bankruptcy bill promoted by the credit card companies in their favour, in a reversal of her previous policy. The also made $675,000 from three speeches to Goldman Sachs, speeches which she refused to release.

She has also been duplicitous in her support of the NAFTA and TPP free trade agreements. She accused Obama during his election campaign of supporting NAFTA, while secretly reassuring the Canadians that she really backed it herself. There is also a clip of Elizabeth Warren, another Democrat politician, attacking the TPP. Warren states that this free trade deal isn’t about developing commerce, but in giving more power to multinational companies at the expense of national governments and hard-working ordinary Americans. America already had free trade deals with very many of the countries included in the treaty. And about half of the TPP’s 30 chapters are devoted to giving more power to the companies.

This section of the documentary also includes a clip of Mika Brzezinski, the daughter of Carter’s foreign policy advisor, Zbigniew Brzezinski, talking about how Killary has no personal convictions of her own, and will say anything to get herself elected. This is followed by the veteran radical, Noam Chomsky, stating that Clinton’s Democrat party is really that of moderate Republicans. President Truman, who warned about the threat of the military-industrial complex, is by their standards now far to the Left. It also has a clip from an interview with one of the multibillionaire Koch brothers describing how they liked Bill Clinton over many Republicans. This one is, admittedly, rather more hesitant when it comes to whether he’d support Killary. There’s then footage from a speech by Bill Clinton promoting small government and how there isn’t a programme for every problem. This is followed by footage of Hillary herself stating that she isn’t dogmatically Republican or Democrat. The documentary ends with the description of her as the worst of the two defects of the American political system. She is both a militarist, and a promoter of corporate power.

Donald Trump is a monster, and his election has brought fear to many millions of ordinary Americans, particularly those from ethnic minorities. The Beeb yesterday reported that 300 racially motivated incidents had been recorded since he was elected last week. Non-white children have been bullied at school, racist slogans sprayed on Black and ethnic minority people’s property and vehicles, and the Nazis from Alt-Right have crawled out from their pits to spew hatred against the Jews. Trump’s even appointed Steven Bannon, a racist and anti-Semite executive from the right-wing news organisation, Breitbart, his ‘chief strategist’. America and the world are facing the prospect of a Nazi in the White House.

But Hillary herself is no angel. She’s a corporate, militarist monster, who supports the very big businesses that are bringing poverty to working people in America by lowering wages, denying union rights, polluting America’s great natural environment, and shipping jobs overseas.

And abroad, her pursuit of American imperial power, as expressed in the American military complex’s own jargon of ‘full spectrum dominance’ – in other words, absolute military power over the rest of us – has threatened to plunge the world once again into a Cold War and the prospect of nuclear annihilation. And her embrace of Henry Kissinger should be a mark of shame to any decent human being. This is the man, whose firm support of dictators in Latin America and Asia, and whose conduct of the Vietnam War, brought death and torture to tens, if not hundreds of millions of innocents.

And Killary herself has blood on her hands through her support of the Iraq invasion, and the coups in Ecuador and Honduras.

Quite frankly, considering the millions she’s threatened with torture, assassination, disappearance and the Fascist jackboot, I really honestly don’t have any sympathy with her weeping over her election defeat. She’s lucky. She didn’t get to be president, but no-one will be rounding her or her husband up to be raped or tortured by the secret police, before being murdered in a concentration camp. She doesn’t have to worry about Chelsea being murdered by a death squad. She gets to live, and enjoy her very privileged life as a major politico and businesswoman. The people she and the rest of the administrations she served and supported, who’ve had their lands invaded and governments overthrown, haven’t been so lucky.

Trying to Make Sense of the Senseless in Orlando

June 14, 2016

Yesterday, the world was shocked by the news that Omar Mateen from Afghanistan had gone into Pulse, a gay nightclub in Orlando, Florida, and opened fire with a gun. 50 people were killed and another 50 were injured before the thug was finally shot by the cops. Today, people have been lighting candles in remembrance, and sending their hopes, prayers and best wishes to friends, lovers and relatives of the victims and the people of Orlando. People around the world, whatever their sexuality, are standing with the gay community to show their hate and disgust at the crime.

Unfortunately, some morons over here have chosen to learn the wrong lesson. Mike put up two posts yesterday about the effect this would have on the Vote Leave campaign. In the first he expressed his fears that they would seize on it to promote more fears of immigrants. And in the second, he expressed his disgust at finding them realised. Some idiots in the ‘Leave’ campaign had stuck up a piece warning that if Britain didn’t leave the EU, something like it would happen here.

See: http://voxpoliticalonline.com/2016/06/13/will-misunderstanding-of-orlando-shootings-give-brexit-campaign-a-xenophobic-boost/

No, you numbskulls! The message of Orlando is that the US needs to ban guns, not that the UK should leave the EU!

This last piece has an eye-opening, and eye-watering list of the stupid reasons some people gave for shooting others. These include domestic arguments in which one spouse has grabbed the gun, so the other grabbed it and shot the other one.

In fact, Britain already has had something like the mass killing in Orlando. This was 7/7, when four suicide bombers killed and maimed hundreds on a bus and in the tube. Those four butchers weren’t immigrants, however. They’d been born here, and were 2nd or 3rd generation. They certainly weren’t recent arrivals off the boat or plane. And many of the idiots, who’ve gone off to join al-Qaeda or ISIS, and so dedicate their lives to ending those of others in the name of a crazed misinterpretation of Islam, have been exactly like them: the British-born children of immigrants.

As for the crime itself, unfortunately there have been more than enough White Americans fouling the airwaves over the other side of the Pond with demands and exhortations for their compatriots to do something similar. One of the videos Secular Talk put up a few days ago was about a right-wing radio host – or politico – who asked why they didn’t shoot trans people anymore. Well, I guess there are a variety of reasons, but I would think that the main one was that people had sympathy with those, who felt they were of the wrong biological gender, because they had medical condition that was causing them distress, rather than that they were wicked or perverted.

Secular Talk also put up a piece from another right-wing talk radio programme, in which a frothing nutter ranted about how people should be rioting in the streets about gay marriage and the rise of gay equality in America. He seemed to think it was a cause for bloody revolution. My guess there is that many people have come to realise that whatever their own views on homosexuality, it’s with a consenting adult and doesn’t affect a person’s moral worth. Being attracted to one’s own sex does not mean that they don’t pay their taxes, support their local sports teams, give to charity and otherwise behave exactly like the rest of the population. One Christian American woman expressed her absolute lack of support for banning gay marriage by stating that she was in ‘a Christ-centred marriage’ with her husband. Now gays had the right to marry. So she had to check her own. ‘No,’ she said, ‘still in a Christ-centred marriage with my husband’. Another man from one of the Southern states put up a video in which he went poking around looking for any gays that might suddenly have fallen out of the sky, to inundate America with gayness. Nope, despite the passage of gay marriage, he couldn’t find any more gays suddenly materialising around the place. It was an ironic attempt to show what a non-issue it all was.

I’ve also no doubt that this atrocity would have delighted Jerry Falwell. Falwell was a right-wing televangelist with the usual hatred of anything to the left of Ronald Reagan. He also hated feminists and gays. When Orlando started holding gay pride marches, Falwell started frothing out the mouth and declared that they couldn’t shake their fists at God like that. Instead, the Almighty would punish them with an asteroid, or earthquake or tsunami. Or something. The local newspaper asked the town’s Roman Catholic bishop what he thought of it. The reverend gentleman opined that he thought, overall, the people of his fair city were decent, god-fearing folk. ‘If God was going to send an asteroid,’ he thought, ‘you’d think He’d start with Las Vegas’. Good point.

You can also bet that over the next few days and weeks you’re going to hear mass whining from the NRA and the gun lobby about how liberals are unfairly using this to deprive decent, law-abiding Americans of their right to have high calibre, military-grade firearms. When massacres like these have occurred, including those at schools, they’ve immediately seized on them to go on the offensive. Often highly offensive. Instead of depriving people of guns, more people should have them, including school children. Then the little mites could shoot back the next time a maniac walked in, or one of their fellows went berserk, and opened fire. We’ll probably here something similar now, with gun-nuts asserting that at least all the men in the nightclub should have been packing, ready to defend themselves and the women.

Given what human nature is like, is should be obvious that the last thing that makes places like schools and nightclubs safer is idiots coming in tooled up. Bullying and gang fights tend to be a fact of school life, which parents and teachers and school staff have to deal with. Now imagine what would happen if all of the little darlings involved had guns, and started blazing away.

It’s the same with nightclubs. Fights break out in pubs and nightclubs, when people have drunk too much, spilled someone’s drink, tried to move in on their partner, or simply looked at them the wrong way. People can get seriously hurt, but most of the time, they ain’t fatal. Now imagine what would happen if a boozed-up lout suddenly started to wave a gun around in a roomful of other drunken, gun-toting louts. You don’t have to be a genius to see how that could easily end in mass carnage, rather than the weight of overwhelming firepower forcing the other dude to put his gun away.

Quite apart from the fact that schools should be for learnin’, and nightclubs for dancing away the evening and generally having fun. Guns should have no place in either.

Gun Rights, the Second Amendment and Early 20th Century Preparations for Revolution in Britain

March 6, 2016

One of the major issues that concerns the Republicans, and particularly the extreme right-wing of that party, is gun rights. They point to the Second Amendment in the Constitution guaranteeing American citizens the right to bear arms, which they view as one of the key democratic freedoms in America. They see it as the article in the Constitution that enables Americans to fight back against a tyrannical government. Hence the hysterical rage amongst the NRA and people like the conspiracy theorist, Alex Jones, at the mere mention of gun legislation. This is always greeted with cries of ‘They’re coming for our guns!’ and the defiant snarl that they’ll only be able to take the weapon, ‘from my cold, dead hand’.

I’ve also seen a quotation from George Orwell trotted out to support gun rights. I can’t remember the exact quotation, but it’s something like the household gun on the wall being the mark of the free worker. Now Orwell’s quote could be a remark on many things. In the 19th century the poaching laws introduced by the wealthy farmers during the Napoleonic Wars were bitterly resented, because many agricultural workers believed they had the right to poach rabbits on their employer’s land as part of the perks of the job. And this became more important as the economic situation deteriorated and poverty and starvation more common.

It was also an attitude shared by the Social Democratic Federation, an early British Socialist party, which was one of the organisations that formed the Labour party. The SDF was Marxist, although its founder, Hyndeman, had fallen out with Marx himself as he had not credited Marx with the party’s programme. Pelling in his ‘Short History of the Labour Party’ notes that in period running up to the First World War and the debate about rearmament, several members of the SDF, most notably Will Thorne, believed

in a form of conscription known as ‘the citizen army’, which was based on the idea that a revolution could best be effected when all members of the working class had some training in the use of arms. (p. 29).

Now I’ve no doubt that the idea of radical, working-class Marxists bearing arms ready to start the revolution is something that scares the right witless. Gun rights are all right for right-wing Whites, but when Blacks and the radical Left get them, it’s a major threat to decent American society. The Young Turks and Secular Talk have pointed out that the authorities in America suddenly became interested in limiting access to guns after the Black Panthers started walking around with them. The Panthers had read the Constitution, and found that nowhere in it did it say that only Whites could carry firearms. And so even before they started shooting people the American government got very alarmed, and started passing laws to limit gun ownership.

Back in the 1990s parts of the Survivalist movement grew so concerned about what they saw as the new Communist threat and the imminent collapse of society, that they started forming informal ‘militias’. Somehow I doubt very much that the same people, who formed and joined these, would be comfortable knowing that their opponents on the radical left back in the very beginning of the 20th century, shared their ideas and desire to acquire firearms training to overthrow a tyrannical government. The only difference being that it was a right-wing, economically conservative government that they viewed as oppressive. I can’t see them being terribly enthusiastic about that little episode of British history at all.

TYT on Bernie Sanders Winning by Getting Funding from the People, Not Corporations

February 15, 2016

This is another fascinating and thought-provoking clip from The Young Turks on the other side of the Pond. Bernie Sanders, the ‘Democratic Socialist’ contender for the Democrat party’s presidential candidate, won the New Hampshire primary by 22 points. After his victory, Mr Sanders announced that he was going to New York to raise funds.

But he was not going to curry favour to the big corporations. Instead, he appealed to the American people to go directly to his website, and contribute to his election campaign fund. In a few hours, $6.4 million had been raised. Sanders’ campaign received 26,000 donations. The average amount of $34.

As Cenk Uygur points out, this is truly astonishing and confounds Conservative expectations utterly. They expect politicians, like Sanders’ rival, Hillary Clinton, to go to them. Clinton is a bog-standard Wall Street stooge, despite her pretensions to Progressive views. It’s been remarked that when she gave her speech on Saturday, she sounded like a Goldman Sachs executive, her remarks about the company were so glowing. But Sanders has raised $5 million more than her in January by going to the American people. Not corporations, but Mr and Mrs Ordinary Joe and Josephine America.

This is one of the reasons why Bernie should get in. Americans do not trust their politicians, because too many of them have been bought by the corporate donors. For example, something like 90 per cent of Americans support some form of gun control, including a plurality of people in the NRA. But you’d never know it, because the NRA is funded by the gun manufacturers, and who in turn fund politicos. And so when the question of gun legislation comes up, there’s a lot of shouting about the right to bear arms, and nothing gets done. And then someone else is shot and killed by a crim or rampaging loony.

And the dependence on corporate donations is killing American democracy. There’s a long article on it in Lobster, where they point out that because American politicians pursue the big corporate donors, they’ve neglected their grass roots supporters to the point where that’s withering. In some states there are only 2-3 activists. And Congress’ approval rating is abysmally low – only 15%. It was even at one point as low as 9%. Princeton University even issued a study declaring that America was not a democracy, but an oligarchy.

And it’s exactly the same over this side of the Atlantic as well. Since Bliar, politicians in the Labour party have also actively pursued wealthy donors, at the cost of their grassroots membership. Politicians are bought and sold by corporate donors and lobbyists. And the public know this, no matter how hard Cameron tries to make it seem that he’s actually doing something about it with specious lobbying and transparency bills, which actually stop charities from petitioning parliament while leaving the professional lobbyists unscathed.

Jeremy Corbyn is doing something to reverse this trend. Under Corbyn, membership of the Labour party is actually going up. But you ain’t going to hear it from the corporate media, and especially not from the Beeb.

So, go, Corbyn and Bern! They’re the only people, who stand a chance of making Congress and parliament respectable and respected by ordinary people again.

The Young Turks on the Need for Gun Control in America

December 5, 2015

This is another excellent piece from The Young Turks, which I thought needed reblogging after the latest terrorist outrage in San Bernardino in Los Angeles. This happened a few days ago when Syed Farook and his wife, Tashfeen Malik, went on a rampage killing 14 and wounding at least 14 others at the Inland Regional Centre. It’s been reported in the I today that Malik may have pledged allegiance to ISIS’ leader, Abu Bakr al-Baghdadi, on Facebook.

In this video the Turks’ anchor, Cenk Uygur, puts this atrocity into its proper context, as one of the long line of mass shootings in America committed by Muslim and Christian religious extremists, like Dear, who blew away several people at a Planned Parenthood clinic, just plain loonies, and others, including shootings of unarmed suspects by American police. And the stats are shocking. He points out that in the same week that Farook and Malik murdered their co-workers and the cops sent to take them down, there were three other mass shootings in the US. This is according to the FBI’s definition, which considers a mass shooting an incident where four people or more have been shot. So far this year there has been 315 such mass shootings this year. He also quotes the stats from an organisation campaigning for some gun control laws, showing the thousands of people, who have been killed individually by guns.

He makes the point that this provides more than enough evidence for the need for gun control. However, every time someone tries to introduce some form of gun control, like mandatory background checks, this is blocked in congress by politicians, who have been funded by the NRA. Uygur at one point describes Congress as their ‘wholly owned subsidiary’. It’s why, he says, we need to take the money out of politics through initiatives like WOLFPAC. WOLFPAC is a pressure group devoted to passing legislation block companies from funding politicians’ campaigns in order to prevent such corporate corruption and pork-barrel politics.

The situation is so grotesque that when Dianne Feinstein, a Californian senator, attempted to introduce legislation banning those on the FBI’s list of suspected terrorists from buying firearms, it was blocked by the Repugs. The list is of individuals considered so dangerous, that they are legally banned from flying. The Republicans voted against it, arguing that it was unacceptable because the list wasn’t accurate.

This is how insane the pro-gun lobby is in the US. These are people considered too dangerous to fly, but they can legally buy guns, including armour piercing bullets. Way back in the 1980s Robin Williams joked about how ludicrous that decision was in his show at the New York Met.

‘According to the NRA, you have the right to armour piercing bullets. Why? How many bears do you know drive around in tanks?’

And this kind of stupidity isn’t just confined to America. There are parts of the Conservative party, who would like to bring it over here. This shows the kind of carnage that’ll occur if they do.

Here’s the video.

R.I.P. Robin Williams. He had a varied career, but I think he was one of the greatest comedians of the 20th century. And his show at the Met is a classic. If you get a chance to see it on video, or as repeat, do so. You’ll have a great laugh with the man at his prime.

American College Professor Quits After Legislature Allows Guns on Campus

October 16, 2015

It’s a cliché that America has a gun culture, and that the American right is absolutely determined to protect gun ownership and will go to extreme lengths to do so. This piece from The Young Turks shows how absurd the right’s determination to allow American citizens to carry firearms has become. A professor of economics at Texas University has decided to spend part of next year teaching in Australia, as he fears for his safety. The Texas legislature has just passed a law allowing people to carry concealed guns on university campuses. The lecturer, Daniel Hamermesh, teaches microeconomics and is afraid that under this law, a disgruntled student could shoot him with a gun he had legally brought to class.

I realise that after the recent horrendous school shootings in America, some people believe that students should have the right to carry guns for their self-defence. Universities are places of learning and culture. They are the very last places people should take firearms. It might be thought that Mamermesh’s reaction to the law is somewhat exaggerated in itself, but I think it’s quite reasonable. Over here in Britain there are a terrible number of assaults every year on school teachers by angry pupils or their parents. I haven’t heard of any university lecturers being assaulted, but it wouldn’t surprise me if some were. There’s the same pressure at Uni to get good grades, and this has increased with the massive increase in tuition fees. Like their fellows on this side of the pond, many American students are trapped in ‘generation rent’ because the expense of their university education and the immense debts they have accrued mean that they will never be able to afford to buy their own home. Some academics have also commented on the sense of entitlement of some of their students, and the ill grace and bitter resentment they feel when their expectations of a good mark are not fulfilled. Going back to the 1980s, there was a case where one doctoral student blew away his rival with a gun after the rival student won a particularly prestigious scientific award for which they had both been competing. So, I don’t think it at all unreasonable that the professor should feel worried for his safety. And even if the students don’t decide to take a pot shot at a particularly annoying lecturer, there’s always the danger of accidents. I realise that the NRA stress that guns aren’t toys and urge gun owners to treat them responsibly, but not everybody has that mentality. People have been injured or killed messing around with firearms, and unfortunately there have been a number of scandals already at some universities from the drunken antics of some of the boys in university fraternities. So, rather than the new law making campus more secure and safer, it’s made it a much more dangerous place.

Here’s the video about it by The Young Turks.

I know that this is very much an American issue, but Piers Morgan aside, there are people over here in the Conservatives, who share the Republicans’ love of guns and would want Brits also to have the same right to bear arms. The legal ability to carry guns also carries with it the dangers of death or severe injury through deliberate malice, stupidity or simply sheer bad luck. The threat of gun violence is simply too high a price to pay. Especially in a place of learning, which should be preparing young men and women for their lives, rather than endangering them.