Friday, August 31, 2007

The War of 1812, Andrew Jackson and Slavery

The one thing most people can remember about the War of 1812 is that the U.S. won the war as demonstrated by the Battle of New Orleans. In that battle British troops marched in tight ranks towards some well-barricaded American troops and 2000 or so were mowed down by rifle fire. Hurray for the good old U.S.A. The troops were led by the gallant General Andrew Jackson, the Hero of New Orleans, who later went on to become the first Democratic Party President of the United States of America.

Any longer gloss of the war tends to mention a few more discouraging facts. The peace treaty had already been signed before the Battle of New Orleans, but the news before radio and telegraph traveled slowly. British troops burned Washington D.C. In fact, the only major battle clearly won by U.S. troops was the final one in New Orleans.

What caused the war? Why, those evil Brits. They could not stand the fact that we had wupped them in the American Revolution. They were harassing our merchant shipping and impressing our sailors. It was a war of defense against British aggression. That, at least, is the red-blooded American view.

Before I get to what was really important about the War of 1812, consider the standard British point of view. Feel free to recall that the peace-loving British government conquered a larger empire than any other nation, before or since. The red-blooded British point of view is that they were locked in a war with the evil Napoleon Bonaparte. America was welcome to trade with Britain; we just were not welcome to trade with France. In fact on June 16, 1812 Lord Castlereagh announced that Britain would no longer seize U.S. merchant ships heading to France. As to the impressed U.S. sailors, they had been enrolled in the British Navy and had no right to desert it in time of war, or under their service contracts. Britain did not start the war. The U.S. Congress declared war on June 18, 1812 because it wanted to add Canada to the United States. It was a naked war of U.S. aggression. The British army, what little could be spared from fighting Napoleon's legions, acquitted itself quite well, repelling the U.S. invasion of Canada. Napoleon abdicated the French throne in April 1814. Having failed to take Canada, and having lost France as an ally, the U.S. was eager for peace, resulting in the Treaty of Ghent on December 23, 1814.

Some other facts need to be filled in in order to understand what was really going on in the U.S. when war was declared. Which is why these facts are almost never filled in.

The United States of America had been founded on the principles of slavery and racial inequality after the Somerset Decision of 1772 had threatened to impoverish men like George Washington and Thomas Jefferson. True, the ending of slavery within the British Empire had then been delayed by economically powerful men who owned stakes in Caribbean sugar plantations. But the gradual abolition of slavery had been made law in Canada in 1793, and the anti-slavery movement in England was quite strong by 1812. Racial inequality also took the form of near total disregard for native American Indian rights, in particular their rights to their ancestral land.

Britain had drawn a line to protect Indian tribes, the Line of 1763. George Washington and other speculators claimed to own what were actually Indian lands that were beyond this line. In the settlement of the Revolutionary War the new U.S. government was given sovereignty over the Northwest Territory, but in fact needed to engage in wars of aggression (now recognized as war crimes) to control the land and allow speculators to sell it to white settlers. Canada did not recognize U.S. seizures of Indian lands. Led by Tecumseh, in 1811 the Indians began fighting to defend their lands and take back the lands already stolen from them in Ohio. Of course to America's ruling class Indians defending their land was savagery, whereas killing Indians to take their land was just good sensible economics. The war of 1812 was a draw for the British, but Tecumseh was killed and the Indian tribes of the midwest defeated.

Even in it most evil days, America has had people who showed a high degree of ethics. In 1812 there was already a substantial minority of Americans who wanted to abolish slavery and treat native American Indians fairly. There were two major political parties at the time, neither of which exists today: the Republicans and the Federalists. Yet the original grounds for division between those parties were wilting away. Both parties were dominated by rich white males. But slave owners were more likely to be Republicans and the rich merchant and manufacturers were more likely to be Federalists.

This ruling, political elite was divided about the war. Most war votes in U.S. history have been unanimous, but in the U.S. House of Representatives the vote was 79 for, 49 against declaring war. The slave state representatives were mostly for the war, but there were some Republicans who were not slave owners who did vote with their political party, for the war.

Andrew Jackson had been a significant, but not prominent, officer in the war, but as the victor in the Battle of New Orleans he came out of the war a national hero. He was a greedy, dishonest man who made his living by speculating in lands stolen from Indians, lawyering, and by running a plantation using Negro slaves. He was elected as the state's first Representative to Congress in 1796. In 1812 Jackson first commanded the Tennessee militia, then was made Major-General of American forces in the South.

Many Indians still lived in parts of the southern United States. Some tribes tried to remain neutral; others fought on the American side. Finding himself desperately short of fighters, Jackson enlisted Cherokee fighters, promising them future protection against more land theft. With them his army defeated the Creeks who were fighting on the British side at the Battle of Horseshoe Bend in 1814. Jackson's army then marched to New Orleans.

While Canada remained a problem for America's slavers, Florida was more of a problem because it was close to large populations of slaves. While Spain still allowed slavery, the practice in Florida was to free escaped American slaves if they would convert to Catholicism. Jackson led U.S. troops into Florida in 1818 in the First Seminole War. In 1819 the U.S. government purchased Florida from Spain, thus strengthening the cause of the Slave states. Andrew Jackson became the first American governor of Florida in 1821.

The ultimate result of the War of 1812 was the formation of the Democratic Party, a party devoted to the principles of Slavery and Genocide. For more on the history of the Democratic Party see my pamphlet on the subject. As President Andrew Jackson would order the Cherokee Tribe, that he promised to protect in 1814, expelled from their lands.

The key thing to remember about the War of 1812 was not who won the battle of New Orleans. The War of 1812 was about 2 U.S. war aims: taking more territory (Canada and Indian lands) and enlarging the institution of slavery.

Learn more: Internet Biography of Andrew Jackson

Wednesday, August 29, 2007

Bush and Beyond

I don't like President George W. Bush's politics, but I try to stay away from the kind of emotional Bush-bashing that delights many leftists, Greens, and Democrats. I don't think W. is the worst president ever. Bad in a mediocre way, sure. I can't think of one single ex U.S. President I would put in the "good" category. Certainly not President-for-Life Franklin D. Roosevelt, the closest thing the U.S. has had to a dictator. War crimes? Sure, George W. Bush committed them by bombing and then invading Afghanistan and Iraq, but I doubt even a half dozen U.S. Presidents who had a full term of office failed to commit some sort of war crime or crime against humanity. General Jackson, founder of the Democratic Party, was a model war criminal and destroyer of humanity. President Truman, a Democrat, is the only world leader who has ever used an atomic weapon against people, thus managing to commit both a war crime and a crime against humanity.

Harry Truman also split up Korea with Stalin the same way Hitler and Stalin partitioned Poland. Koreans had been fighting the Japanese and expected to be allowed to form a free and independent nation.

But just because George W. Bush is a model of mediocrity doesn't mean we should not strive for better, or at least try to avoid worse. Mediocrity has its merits at times. You might hate the fact that the President promoted fundamentalist and evangelical Christianity, but it could have been worse. Look at the record. Women can still get abortions and birth control pills and own property. You don't get shot for not going to church on Sunday, or for going to the wrong Church. We still don't force children to say prayers in public schools.

If anyone failed to benefit from the George W. Bush presidency, it was the Christian Right. These guys asked for religion and got tax cuts for the rich. A few of Bush's cronies made out like kidnappers in Baghdad, but very little tax payer money went straight to religious nutcases below the assistant-to-the-secretary-of-the-department level.

On the environment Bush was also a study in mediocrity. The air is still mostly what would pass for breathable, especially if you compare it to what passed for air in 1965. Cleanups of waterways and toxic waste sites continued at the same generally slow pace we saw under Clinton, Carter and Reagan. Anti-environmentalist victories, while occasionally real, tended towards the symbolic. They were more a tool for raising funds for the Republican Party than any real attack on the environment (beyond the general, background attack from industrial civilization). Just like the greenish reforms passed by Democrats tended to give environmental groups symbolic wins that allowed the Democrats to raise money for their partying.

Probably the most important achievement of the Bush administration was the revival of Islam. In Iraq and most Islamic nations people were moving towards a secular society where most people were peace-loving atheists or nominally Islamic. The various sects were more concerned with slowing this secular erosion than they were with fighting each other. Has that ever changed in a big way. Now it is dangerous to not at least to pretend you believe in Islam and Mohammed in Iraq. Fanaticism is rampant. And this rallying around the black flag of the Prophet has spread to almost the entire formerly nominally Muslim population of a world. Osama Bin Laden and Muktar whatever converted a net of about 87 people to Islam (subtracting out the back sliders) before Bush came along. Bush converted about 600 million people to Islam.

Now that is outstanding. So maybe that Yale education and all the helping hands from Dad's friends were not wasted after all.

[find more of William P. Meyers's thoughts at]

Sunday, August 26, 2007

Mother Teresa, Hitler, and Stalin

Recent revelations that Mother Teresa, probably the world's most famous 20th century Catholic, may have been a secret atheist, are certainly thought provoking. To many atheists it is no surprise that one of their number could have saint-like qualities. For many Catholics and other members of religious organization it may grant permission to examine their own doubts about God's existence. I'd like to use this occasion to examine the relationship between religious organizations, belief systems, and the more general question of good and evil.

To help illuminate the situation I'll be drawing on my knowledge of two other landmark personalities of the 20th century, Adolph Hitler, who many people think was an atheist or Pagan, but who was actually a Catholic (see Catholicism and Fascism), and the most infamous atheist of the 20th century, Joseph Stalin, former dictator of the U.S.S.R.

Good and evil get defined differently by different people and organizations. There are difficulties even if you stand by old basics (which I do). Let us grant that killing people is bad, and hurting people (physically or economically) is also bad. Helping people is good. The world is complex; helping one person can hurt another. Helping the Nazis, who started as a small band of impoverished former ex-soldiers, hurt other people. Hitler argued that hurting Jews was okay because they were hurting Germans. Stalin argued that killing enemies of the Soviet State (he thought they were real, but mostly they were imaginary) was necessary to insure the safety of other soviet citizens.

I believe people do have a right to self-defense, but I also know that murders, of the single-murder type and the entire spectrum up to mass murderers like Hitler and Stalin (and Truman and Johnson and Nixon and Andrew Jackson and ... and ... and ) always claim, and usually believe, that they are engaging in legitimate self-defense. The Catholic Inquisition was believed by its practitioners to be an unfortunately necessary self-defense of the Catholic Religion, without a belief in which people would be tossed into Hell when they died.

Mother Teresa did not practice self-defense. I don't know what her thoughts may have been on the subject. She worked to help the poor people of India. When she doubted not just in the Catholic Faith, but in the very existence of God, she did not use that as an excuse to bale out and lead a different, more pleasant life.

I have long believed that atheists would be more generally accepted by the religionists of the world if they would set up recognizably Atheist charitable organizations. I know a lot of atheists give to charity and while others work for non-profit organizations. But that work is invisible to the world's judgmental eyes. There was no overtly atheist organization set up to help poor Indians; atheists should be ashamed of that.

It does not surprise me that a monster like Hitler and a saint like Mother Teresa could be found in the same organization, the Catholic Church. It is a big organization. Most people are in it because their ancestors are in it.

While atheism may have truth on its side, it has some serious problems. How do you teach people to be kind and peaceful when there is no God to send them flaming down to hell if they stray from righteousness?

I was going to say if you raise a child as an atheist, how do you prevent him from becoming a Joseph Stalin, but there is a problem there. Joseph Stalin was raised Eastern Orthodox (very similar to Catholic) and even studied in seminary to be a priest before he became an atheist Marxist.

I don't think atheists should take any credit for Mother Teresa. Her atheism was secret; it was her own. Catholics should not be ashamed of Mother Teresa. She worked within their organization; without the support of the Church she could not have helped so many people.

Yet there is a similarity in the work of Mother Teresa, Adolf Hitler, and Stalin that needs to be further examined. Mother Teresa was in India doing good because the Catholic Church wanted to make converts. They have been trying, with varying degrees of success, to convert Indians since the 1500's. They have not been as successful as they were in Latin America because they have never controlled the Indian government. They have never been able to use the convert-or-be-killed scenario that has made Catholics of much of the world. The Nazis had a similar outlook: convert-or-be-killed, except that certain people were put in the be-killed category. Stalin was worse: conversion was insufficient. The first party member to stop clapping was suspected of being a Trotskyist (a slightly different brand of communism), and, well, they clapped a really long time when talking about Comrade Stalin in Russia. They may well have been able to out-industrialize the United States if they hadn't had to spend so much time clapping. Like a flock of birds turning at the same instance, they all had to learn how to stop clapping at the same instance. Other Catholics, in the past, who might have been happy being like Mother Teresa found themselves murdering masses of people because the Church (or a pro-Church government) ordered it, just as otherwise good atheists became murderers under Stalin because they feared for their own lives if they refused to follow orders.

My only advice at this point is that humanity needs to look for a common definition of good and evil that is not based on religious beliefs or political cults.

Wednesday, August 22, 2007

Ron Paul's Crazy Gold Standard Proposal

I like many of the stances of Ron Paul, currently in the U.S. House of Representatives for Texas and seeker of the Republican nomination to become President of the United States. I even agree with him on some of his critique of the Federal Reserve System. But his idea of returning to the gold standard for money is crazy, and it is important to understand why.

Let me begin by asking this: what would you think of a candidate that urged returning to the wampum standard? What do the gold standard and wampum standard have in common, and how are they different? What does the U.S. Constitution say? How does Ron Paul's proposal differ from the gold standard used in the 19th century in the United States? Finally, having covered that extensive ground, I

First of all, you should know that none of Ron Paul's ideas are new. They have been discussed by those interested in monetary policy since before Alexander Hamilton laid out the blueprint for the U.S. financial system (though he did not foresee the need for a Federal Reserve).

Wampum (see Wampum) is a kind of money made from sea shells that used to be used by Native American Indians. It had value because it was believed to have value. Like other forms of money, it could facilitate trade, lifting an economy above the pure barter level. While the shells themselves might have some ornamental value, mainly they were a symbol for work done. Much like a modern dollar bill. There were two problems with using wampum for money that would have shown up in a more trade-oriented, modern society. One is that there could be a shortage of wampum if not enough of the appropriate shells could be found. That could constrain trade. The other is that either too much wampum could be produced, or that it could be counterfeited. Then the value of wampum would fall relative to real goods; in effect, you can have inflation even on the wampum standard.

Gold (see Gold) is a metal used for ornamentation and other purposes; it used to be used as money. While more difficult to counterfeit than wampum, it had the same problems when used as money. It did not always prevent inflation. For instance, when the Spanish conquered Mexico and Peru, so much gold and silver was mined that there was inflation in Europe. In the 19th and 20th century, with major veins of native (metallic) gold mostly tapped out, there was not enough gold available to facilitate the rapid growth of commerce. With the introduction of modern methods of extracting low-grade gold ores a related problem arose: the high cost of producing metallic gold.

Even paper money is becoming obsolete; most money today is tracked electronically.

Ron Paul proposes to fix the problem of gold by allowing the value of gold relative to silver to float in value as determined by markets shows how far his mind has wandered from reality. This was a real issue in the U.S. in the 1880's. The Democratic Party, having lost the Civil War (it was the party of Slavery), tried to get back in power at a national level by changing the official silver-to-gold exchange ratio, as exemplified in (losing) presidential candidate William Jennings Bryan's famous Cross of Gold speech. The problem with gold and silver used as money lies not in their exchange ratio, but in the fact that the supply from mining varies over time and does not match the variation in economic activity.

So forget the gold standard.

Ron Paul does remind us that the U.S. Constitution does not clearly allow for paper money, much less authorize the Federal Reserve System. It specifically states in Article I, Section 10 "No State shall enter into any Treaty, Alliance, or Confederation; grant Letters of Marque and Reprisal; coin Money; emit Bills of Credit; make any Thing but gold and silver Coin a Tender in Payment of Debts." However, here "state" is specifically one of the states, not the federal government. In Section 8 it had already given Congress the power "To coin Money, regulate the Value thereof, and of foreign Coin, and fix the Standard of Weights and Measures;
To provide for the Punishment of counterfeiting the Securities and current Coin of the United States;" which seems to give it the power to issue securities, which could be bonds, but has been interpreted as the ability to issue paper money. Why allow issuance of federal paper money and then prohibit the states from accepting it for the payment of debts? This issue was got around for a time by issuing paper money backed by gold or silver. As in so many cases, when the Constitution should have been amended, it was simply re-interpreted.

As to the Federal Reserve, I agree there are problems with it. It is supposed to allow for creation of a money supply sufficient to allow the economy to improve, but not so great as to cause inflation. But it is composed of bankers. Bankers are not like the rest of us. They have a long history of being far more sympathetic to the perceived problems of the rich than to the very real problems of the poor, the working class, and the middle class.

So sure, let's talk about reforming the Federal Reserve to make it responsive to all the people, not just the banks and Wall Street. Let us make it more transparent and find a way to hold those running the Federal Reserve System accountable. But forget the gold standard.

More data:

Ron Paul's Presidential campaign site

Saturday, August 18, 2007

Review of The Black Swan, The Impact of the Highly Improbable Nassim Nicholas Taleb

This week the stock market did poorly. Many people pay no more attention to financial markets than they do to politics. The first inkling they get that something systemic has gone wrong comes only when they are directly impacted. Perhaps they lose their job; perhaps they find their credit has reached its limits. But most Americans have enough education and experience to know that a stock market crash can have a negative impact on their lives.

This would seem to be a vindication of Nassim Nicholas Taleb, who has a life-long relationship with what he calls Black Swans, which are unexpected events. He is also the author of Fooled By Randomness, the Hidden Role of Chance in Life and in the Markets (which I have not yet read).

The funny thing is, what is unexpected to one person can be expected by another. One person prepares for hurricanes, another can't be bothered until it is time to hang onto a tree for dear life. The current market turmoil has been expected by many for years; it was only a question of timing. I warned people not to take out adjustable rate mortgages on houses that were becoming increasingly unaffordable. Even when the Federal Reserve started raising interest rates in 2005 people kept on willfully ignoring the likely future. In 2007 the chickens, who know a hurricane when it starts to rain, have come home: defaults on home loans have led to institutional owners of the mortgages losing money; in turn those who borrowed money to make these investments have had to liquidate perfectly good investments, including blue chip stocks.

In fact true Black Swans, I gather, are not so easy to predict. The destruction of the World Trade Center was a Black Swan even though we knew there were organizations determined to fight what they saw as U.S. tyranny. Intelligence agencies, informed citizens, and maybe even President Bush knew about Al Qaida beforehand. The Trade Center had already been bombed by Islamic extremists. The only thing surprising was the method and timing.

Global warming, even though some scientists saw it coming decades ago, is a Black Swan. A global epidemic that kills more than 5% of the population would be a black swan to economists and financiers, but it probably would not be a big surprise to an epidemiologist. The only surprise would be the specific nature of the disease and the specific class of victims.
The Black Swan is an interesting and worthwhile read, but it is handicapped somewhat by occasionally confusing sentence structures. Taleb is best at narrating interesting stories from his own life, but there is seldom a truly dull moment in the book. It is as much about politics, the human mind, and philosophy as about economics and investing. His thoughts on history are quite engaging. I did not always agree with his analysis, but I found most of it thought provoking.

That said, we do have to plan for the future, and we should count our chickens before they hatch. Otherwise we will not be ready to care for them. The Black Swan link

Monday, August 13, 2007

And the War Goes On #2

Last fall the voters sent the Establishment a message: get our troops out of Iraq. So much for Democracy. For my earlier take you can see my first And the War Goes On blog.

Democratic Party apologists, of course, blame our continuing presence on the Republicans and in particular George W. Bush. The Democratic Party majority in the House of Representatives could have ended the war by cutting off funds for Iraq, but most of these party hacks only used the public's turning against the war as a means to get votes.

Norman Solomon, critic of the U.S. media and of U.S. militarism, spoke in my town, Point Arena, California, last week. His solution: elect different, anti-war, democrats to Congress. He claimed it was a mistake in the 1960's to not vote for the Democratic Party. He was relying on the mainly-progressive-Democrats in the audience mistaking their myth for what actually happened back then.

In, say, 1963 the Democratic Party was run by a racist majority. It was anti-women's rights. It was anti-gay. It was intimately interwoven with the military and arms industry; it invaded Vietnam.

Who then changed the direction of the country? Not Democrats, and certainly not Democratic Party politicians. The people who fought for change were socialists, communists, anarchists, radical feminists and black nationalists. I am pretty darned sure that Malcolm X was not a Democrat; neither were the members of the Black Panther Party.

But hey, why not take credit for things once they have happened and the opinions of voters have changed? That is all the Democratic Party did. It turned against the war - once Richard Nixon was President. It came out for civil rights for blacks and women - once it was clear that the votes of blacks and women could only be gotten that way. And no one noticed the Democratic Party in the forefront of pushing for gay rights.

And the Vietnam War went on, and on. The Democrats had the votes in Congress to end it all along, but they did not. Not under Lyndon Johnson, not under Richard Nixon.

Founded on the principle of slavery and a genocidal policy against Native Americans, the Democratic Party has had no redeeming moments in its history. It's two Patron Saints, Woodrow Wilson and Franklin Delano Roosevelt, could not be bothered to give African Americans the right to vote in the South. It created the Atomic Bomb program and is the only party to ever use nuclear weapons in war, and at that it chose civilian targets to "test" its new weapons of mass destruction.

Make no mistake: the Democratic Party loves war. Al Gore wanted to invade Iraq but felt restrained by public opinion. Barack Obama talks about peace but actually plans to keep U.S. troops in Iraq if he is elected President and has promised to widen the war to Pakistan, just as Richard Nixon promised to end the War in Vietnam but instead extended it to Laos and Cambodia.

American citizens, wake up and get off your asses. We need new parties to represent us. The war crimes organizations, the Democratic Party and Republican Party, need to be defeated. Then they need to be categorized as what they really are: criminal organizations.

I would like to make the Green Party into an organization that the voters can trust and empower. If other parties emerge that are against war and meet my standards for social justice, I think that would be great.

People say this is a two party system, so your only choice is to work for change within the Republican Party or the Democratic Party. But if you look at the U.S. Constitution, it names neither party, nor does it restrict us to two parties.

And if you look at U.S. history, really looking rather than just accepting generalizations that are meant to discourage truth seeking, you will see that two parties are not really the norm. Most significantly, the Republican Party was started in the 1850's in response to the Democratic Party's continuing promotion of slavery. There have been many third parties that have elected some officials. There have been regional third parties, meaning that they were the leading party in their region, and one of the two "major" parties was typically runner-up. And in the South, after the Civil War until about 1968, there was really only one party, the Democratic Party.

Here's a plan: help make northern California and other "liberal" areas into a two party system where the two parties are the Greens and the Democrats. This has already taken place in San Francisco. But it did not happen because people sat around and waited for it to happen. It happened because thousands of people who care about social justice and the environment went out and worked in elections. They lost a lot of elections before they elected the first Green to the San Francisco Board of Supervisors; they missed electing Matt Gonzalez to be mayor by a hair. But there have been Green mayors elected to a number of smaller cities in northern California.

I think that once the voters are able to choose freely between Green Party candidates and Democratic Party candidates, without worrying about the Republican Party spoiling the elections, Green candidates are going to win a lot of offices. This will undercut the gravy train of corruption that both the Democrats and Republicans depend on to control this nation. It will be the beginning of the end for the Republicans, and hopefully the death of the Party of Slavery, the Democrats, will be long in following.

And the war goes on. You can stop it, but only by supporting genuine anti-war candidates. And if someone has joined the Democratic Party, they have shown their weakness and willingness to be corrupted.

Friday, August 10, 2007

Cindy Sheehan Takes on Nancy Pelosi

When you ignore the spectrum of what really should be done, and look within the spectrum of what actually is done in U.S. politics and government, Nancy Pelosi, Representative of San Francisco and current Speaker of the U.S. House of Representatives, can look pretty good. Representative Pelosi is a favorite target of hate-talk right wing radio; she represents a kinder, gentler, and not rabidly fundamentalist Christian establishment that is good on social issues like women's rights, racism, and to a tiny extent social justice.

Cindy Sheehan was a political unknown until after her son Casey died military service in Iraq on April 4, 2004. She gradually became a well-known anti-war activist; if you missed that somehow you can get a bit of background at the Cindy Sheehan Wikipedia article.

On July 8, 2007 Mrs. Sheehan announced she would run for the U.S. House of Representatives in the 8th Congressional District of California, a seat currently occupied by Nancy Pelosi.

The usual wisdom in that Mrs. Sheehan does not have a chance. Since she does not have a chance, she will get little money and support, so she will not be able to enlarge her chances.

Only the 8th Congressional District covers about 3/4 of the city of San Francisco.

Anti-war sentiment is extremely strong in San Francisco. Although the city is overwhelmingly registered to vote in the Democratic Party, the voters are very issues-driven. A Green Party member, Matt Gonzalez, who had already served on the Board of Supervisors (City Council in most Cities) came close to winning the race for Mayor in 2003. Gonzalez received 47% of the vote. Ross Mirkarimi, another Green Party member, currently serves on the Board of Supervisors.

Mrs. Pelosi, with the rest of the Democratic Party leadership, voted for the wars in Iraq and Afghanistan. I believe she has genuinely turned against the wars, but it does not seem like she is against wars of aggression. She is only against unpopular wars of aggression that don't work out for the U.S. establishment. She is playing a game the Democrats so successfully played during the Hoover administration, when they prevented Herbert Hoover's relief programs for the Depression from passage so that they could blame Hoover and the Republicans for the nation's suffering. Mrs. Pelosi and the Democratic Party majority in the House had, and has, the power to stop the war by cutting off its funding. Instead she postures against the war and then watches as George W. Bush and the Republican Party become increasingly unpopular. The gravy will be hot and plentiful if the Democrats can win the race for President in 2008 and retain control of Congress.

Well, the Republicans can burn in Hell for all I care, but the Democratic Party is a war crimes organization too.

I hear a lot of people whine about the Democrats and Republicans, but then they won't pitch in to get Greens and Independents elected to office.

I know that Cindy Sheehan has little or no prior experience in government. I don't care. I want to Send Them a Message: No more U.S. Wars of Aggression.

So I am going to send Cindy's campaign some money, as soon as they are set up to receive it.

Nancy Pelosi was born to a life of privilege (her dad was once Mayor of Baltimore; you can guess what that was like if you've seen The Wire). She married a guy whose brother was already on the San Francisco Board of Supervisors; she and her husband have oodles of their own money and plenty of rich and powerful friends.

Cindy's campaign web site is Nothing is up yet, but you can bookmark it and go back. And give money. Voting is not enough. Volunteering is great, but it is not enough. Every campaign needs money, even a grassroots rebellion. Let's kick everyone who voted for the invasion of Iraq, Democrats and Republicans alike, out of office. Let's see how some fresh people can do in office.

More data:

Nancy Pelosi Wikipedia article
Nancy Pelosi's campaign donations

Saturday, August 4, 2007

Barack H. Obama's True Colors

The Democratic Party's long history of war crimes and crimes against humanity is nowhere near complete, not if the junior Senator from Illinois and Presidential (okay, vice-presidential) nomination seeker Barack Hussein Obama gets his way. This week Barack proved his national security credentials by threatening to bomb Pakistan if elected.

How much do you want to bet that the left wing of the Democratic Party, the people who style themselves "progressive," and "for peace," abandon Barack and seek a new candidate. I am betting against it. Because every Democrat I have ever met has been willing to rationalize Democratic Party war crimes and crimes against humanity. Otherwise they would not be Democrats.

Barack is seeking to become the first black, or sort-of black, President of the United States. Most African-American politicians are Democrats, and most African-Americans vote for Democratic Party most of the time. If you know anything about history that might seem strange. Boiled down, it comes to this: the Democratic Party was the party of slavery. The Republican Party was the party that ended slavery. (For details see my Brief History of the Democratic Party and my Brief History of the Republican Party). Most African-Americans are descended from slaves.

Before analysing Mr. Obama's war on Pakistan, which would become part of the ongoing U.S. War Against Asia, and which fits perfectly with long-standing ruling class policies, I want to state why I think African Americans are mostly Democrats. Most were Republicans in 1930; at that time they could not even vote in states dominated by the Democratic Party. But in 1932 the Democrats swept into power and set up the New Deal. African-Americans were allowed to receive welfare benefits under the New Deal (denying them that would have hurt white Democratic Party businessmen in the South). Politics is mainly about gravy-trains, and the Democrats controlled the gravy trains. So in the north, where blacks could vote, most black politicians became Democrats. In the South, well, anyone wanting to be a black politician was lynched by the Democrats, so most politically active blacks remained Republicans or were non-partisan or joined a socialist or black nationalist group.

In the 1950's the Republicans aided the fight for civil rights for African Americans in the South; Vice-President Richard Nixon deserves a great deal of credit for this. But the Republican Party had voting base in the South (hence it could afford to support civil rights and alienate white southern voters).

In 1961 Democrats controlled both houses of Congress, the Presidency, and the Supreme Court. Yet civil rights for southern African Americans were not high on their agenda. True, John F. Kennedy and others realized the tremendous propaganda value that Communists derived from advertising the practice of segregation in the Democratic Party-controlled southern states. But he knew that the segregationists in Congress had enough votes to derail any and all of his programs (a situation President-for-Life Franklin Delano Roosevelt had shared). So he did what self-serving politicians always do: he talked about civil rights without doing anything much about civil rights.

After Kennedy's death President Lyndon Johnson, a Democrat, did push for black civil rights; despite being a war criminal of epic proportions, this was a good and brave thing he did. But I don't think that is why blacks in the South joined the Democratic party. They joined it because their leaders joined it, and their leaders joined in because that was where the gravy was. There was no Republican Party in the South at that time worth joining. In addition the southern Democrats knew a flood was about to hit them; black political leaders were needed to keep the flood in acceptable channels.

Given the economic conditions of black Americans at the time, the choice becomes more understandable. Convert the charge of "tax and spend" Democrats to "tax and buy votes" Democrats, and you have boiled down reality pretty well. I like Lyndon Johnson's Great Society program, but effectively it taxed the middle class to buy the votes of poor (not just black) Americans with various forms of welfare. And in the long run we have learned it was not the best solution. But neither was the Republican attitude that once you removed legal barriers blacks would just start little businesses and soon be millionaires. There were tens of millions of poor whites living in the U.S. back then, as now; poverty has other causes besides legal barriers.

So most black Americans are Democrats today, and most of them, so far, are supporting Hillary Clinton. It is a simple equation: bet on the most likely winner. That is where the gravy is.

How removed is Mr. Obama's threat to bomb Pakistan from George W. Bush's threat to bomb Iran? To me they are one and the same, a combination of lunacy and criminal intent. But to the left wing of the Democratic Party they are very different, because one was proposed by a Republican, and the other by a Democrat.

Who, exactly, would we bomb in Pakistan? Doesn't anyone remember that the Taliban soldiers were all, to a man, orphans brought up in religious orphanages? Is creating more orphans and more people pissed off at the U.S. going to solve this problem? It's like bombing Pendleton, New York because that is where Timothy McVeigh grew up. In Afghanistan we learned that many of our bombing targets were proposed by confidential informants who were simply settling old tribal scores. Do we have no learning curve?

How often to you get to test the moral character of the left wing of Democratic Party by seeing if they will withdraw their support from candidates who premeditate war crimes and crimes against humanity (because that is what aerial bombing amounts to)?

I think the left-wing of the Democratic Party is as morally bankrupt as its "centrist" leadership, and in many ways more bankrupt than the Republicans. Just registering Democrat is an act of self-corruption because you are becoming an apologist for its past war crimes and crimes against humanity.

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Wednesday, August 1, 2007

Natural Liberation and Harry Potter

I saw Harry Potter and the Order of the Phoenix last night, and it was entertaining. Evil, of course, is out in the world. The foolish government refuses to admit it. Harry Potter has to train a bunch of teenage wizards in secret to be ready to combat evil, because the school he attends, Hogswarts or something like that, is teaching from books rather than allowing the kids to actually practice black arts.

So you could read it as a metaphor encouraging teen rebellion. But against what? School, to be sure. The government, a least in this particular episode. Evil, but then Hitler, Stalin, and General Franco also imagined they were rebelling against evil. Evil is whoever is opposed to you.

If the book upon which this film was based had been written by an American author, I would say it was about rebelling against the public school system, a thought endearing to both the far right and the far left. The government take over of the wizard school sounds like how the teachers unions view No Child Left Behind. Many charter schools believe in project-based learning, and the elitism of Hogswarts matches how charter school parents think about their little wizards.

That is all very well and good, but I doubt it is the intended message of the movie. I also don't think the intention is to get kids meeting in secret pointing at each other with wooden sticks and practicing Latin.

Evil must be fought, and fighting is exciting. Wow, maybe the movie is about the War on Terror. Maybe the idiots in the government are Bill and Hillary Clinton. Maybe English and American kids should be secretly training with automatic weapons and Latin prayers to fight Islam.

Well, teen angst can be turned in many directions. To me the evil of the world is the destruction of Nature, including global warming, species destruction, and the general collapse of ecosystems we are seeing all around us right now (those of us who care to look). It isn't just George Bush and pals that are ignoring or minimalizing what is happening. It is most of the human race, and most of the leadership of the Democratic Party.

Wars, including civil wars, are a toss of the dice. The U.S. invaded Vietnam and murdered two million people to save the world for capitalism in the 1960s. Instead Communism triumphed and Americans became unwilling to use force, for a decade or so. Then, unpredictably, without the capitalists firing a shot, Communism collapsed.

Rebellion in America could take many forms. It could gain a Christian racist edge. It could be directed at the Republicans and for the Democrats. It could be against both parties, or it could take an anarchist turn against all parties and government itself. The rebellion could be confined to the ballot box, or it could take to the streets, or it could arm itself and start a civil war.

But most likely nothing will happen. Order of the Phoenix is, after all, just a movie. Playing at being wizards is a big ego trip for children, but the real idea is to get them to read, go to college, and fit right into the corporate system. The message of any one movie, even if clear, is quickly submerged in the next movie or TV show or hot band idol.

Meanwhile, ecosystems are collapsing. A sane government would put in place an immediate ban on all cutting of trees; stop the production of SUVs and encourage people to walk, bike, or ride a motorcycle; prohibit couples from having more than two children; and re-orient the industry of people into ecological restoration.

Do not expect sane government. Do expect slowly rolling eco-collapse. Don't expect the economy to collapse, until we are much closer to the end, but expect escalating food prices. Expect the unexpected. We are going non-linear, we are going chaotic. It may not be supernatural, but it is nature as humans have not had to face it since the paleolithic. Nobody knows what is worth packing for this trip: but a little revolution might make us feel like we are humans, not just pawns in corporate growth games.

For more on natural liberation philosophy see