The Democratic charade

Yesterday, I was trapped in a hotel room, unable to escape, while my wife listened to this joke of a “news” program on CNN in which they semi-randomly assembled the Democratic debate roster. I was ready to scream. They drew it out to a ridiculous degree, selecting candidates one by one live on air, while reading little blurbs about them. With commercial breaks. They, of course, saved the most significant candidates for last — Sanders, Warren, Harris, and Biden — and what killed me was that before they did the final draws they sat there and yammered speculatively about what match-ups they might get in the next few minutes. Shut the fuck up and just do it.

They don’t seem aware that the process of randomizing candidates into two nights is trivial, uninteresting, and not news. It is, however, representative of how our benighted, self-involved news media deals with an election. They have made themselves the center of the process as a group of people who have to babble about the horserace. I hate it.

This was the final outcome of their blithering idiocy, and it’s ridiculous.

I don’t care. Most of the faces up there shouldn’t be there — they are wasting our time. Go run for congress, or governor, or school board and get something done. CNN was aware of that, too, because they arranged the debate specifically to split up the top four equally. If, by chance, Biden, Harris, Sanders, and Warren all ended up together on one night, no one would bother to watch the other debate, and there goes the advertising revenue.

You also cannot have a debate with 20 sides to it. There will be no substantive discussion. This will be a mob of people vying for the 10-second sound bite that will be picked up by the news the next day.

I have to say as well that using money in the form of donations as a criterion for who gets to be in the debate is offensive and puts the whole silly affair on an absurdly capitalist foundation, and clearly fails as a useful criterion for winnowing the field anyway. Bring back the cursus honorum — you don’t get to run for consul until you’ve run a gamut of lower offices in government.

I won’t be watching any part of the second “debate”, by the way.

So that’s what a philosophy degree is good for

You remember creepy ol’ Colin McGinn, the philosopher who wrote icky sexual messages to his students and assistants, fantasizing about them giving him handjobs and suggesting that they have sex precisely 3 times over the summer. He’s sort of in disgrace now, except…

McGinn has just opened a consultancy firm to give professional ethics advice to businesses. You read that right. One of the skeeviest philosophers around is selling his dubious ethical skills to corporations. Sounds like just the right kind of thing that corporations might want, but isn’t what they need.

He has a stunning rationale.

McGinn is best known for his work in philosophy of mind, but believes he’s well placed to advise on a variety of business issues, including sexual harassment. “I have insider knowledge of that,” he said. “I consider myself an expert in that subject, having gone through a process, and discussing it with lawyers and so forth, and having to learn about it in detail.”

I was blatantly guilty of sexual harassment, therefore I’m exactly the right person to advise you on sexual harassment. Brilliant.

(R) stands for (RACIST)

If you are a Republican, you’re racist. If you vote Republican, you are a racist. If you live in a county that voted for Trump, you live in a racist county. Trump himself is an unabashed racist.

That isn’t name-calling. That’s simply an obvious fact at this point. Our incompetent bigot of a president is letting it all hang out.

At an arena rally in Greenville, North Carolina, on Wednesday evening, President Donald Trump quadrupled down on his recent racist attacks on four female Democratic lawmakers. He also chastised one of them for using “the big, fat, vicious…F-word” against him, alleging, “that’s not somebody that loves our country.”

“She looks down with contempt on the hardworking American, saying that ignorance is pervasive in many parts of this country,” the president said of Rep. Ilhan Omar (D-MN), to cheering from the crowd, many of whom began chanting, “Send her back,” enthusiastically joining in on the collective anti-Omar hate.

Ilhan Omar is a hardworking American. How dare he treat her as something else. “Send her back” is a shout of racism. There are no dogwhistles necessary anymore — the Republican party is openly drawing on the ugliest strain of American politics and is amplifying it.

The president’s comments came at a time of his announced nationwide raids on undocumented immigrants, as well as his recent asylum plan that could pose his gravest threat to migrants. This week, his racist tirades were defended, excused, or even laughed off by major players in the national Republican Party, with Team Trump arguing that the president didn’t mean it, or that he was correct to say it, or that he was merely being his typical, funny self.

It seems like it was just a few months ago that conservatives and centrists were wringing their hands over whether it was fair to call these people new American nazis, and they were splitting hairs over whether they were really fascists or not. Can we at least regard that argument as over? We’ve got a demagogue holding rallies (Why is he still doing that? Doesn’t he have work to do?) and leading mobs in racist chants, threatening to deport or jail people, journalists and opposition politicians, for being brown. He’s laughing at us. He knows the Democratic party is spineless and will do nothing. If we accuse him of being a new Hitler, I wouldn’t put it past him to grow a toothbrush mustache to mock us.

It’s 1932. What are you doing?

Puerto Rico shows us how it’s done

The governor of Puerto Rico is one sorry sexist homophobe, and that fact was exposed when the contents of some of his messages was revealed.

In the chats on the encrypted messaging app Telegram, governor Rossello calls one New York female politician of Puerto Rican background a ‘whore,’ describes another as a ‘daughter of a b****’ and makes fun of an obese man he posed with in a photo. The chat also contains vulgar references to Puerto Rican star Ricky Martin’s homosexuality and a series of emojis of a raised middle finger directed at a federal control board overseeing the island’s finances.

What do you think happened then? Puerto Ricans rioted for days!

Of course, it wasn’t just that Governor Rossello was a demonstrable ass, it was also the corruption.

‘Chatgate’ erupted only a day after Rossello’s former secretary of education and five other people were arrested on charges of ‘steering federal money to unqualified, politically connected contractors’.

In contrast, here on the mainland USA we have an even worse president, an incompetent cabinet, and widespread corruption. We aren’t tearing up the streets, although we should be. Instead, we’re trying to play by the rules, work out resolutions in a formal, lawyerly way, which ought to be a good thing. I would be quite satisfied if we were making progress towards resolving the problem of the bigoted asshole-in-chief in the White House through such cautious means. But we’re not. The Republicans are a solid bloc who stand behind Trump no matter what he says and does, while the Democrats … oh god, the Democrats are Democrats. They struggled to put together a censure motion in the House against Trump’s racist tweets, which ought to have been a given.

But as with most attempts to show disapproval with the president, Tuesday’s efforts proved to be ham-fisted. House Democrats formally condemned Trump for his social media missive. But the path getting there was complicated by internal disarray, and overshadowed by the absence of an agreed-upon strategy that culminated in a massive blow-up on the House floor, with Speaker Nancy Pelosi accused of violating House rules in her attempts to peg the president as a racist.

It was, in the grand scheme of things, a bureaucratic misstep. But for many Democrats it symbolized something far more: yet another illustration of the party’s ineptitude and, ultimately, its timidity in confronting Trump.

“Trump wins all these fights for the simple reason that he’s not getting impeached,” said Adam Jentleson, former chief of staff to former Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid. “Every half-hearted attempt to hold him accountable just highlights that Democrats are choosing not to use the most powerful accountability tool available to them.”

Jentleson added, “This is an untenable strategy for leaders who promised real accountability.”

We sit here placid and pacified by the delusion that there is an Official Resistance Party that will persevere to make things right, and we don’t have one. We have a nominal opposition party that is dominated by conservative/centrist/moderates that would prefer to do nothing, in hopes that someday they’ll get a majority and then they can take the place of the Republicans. That’s all they aspire to, getting more committee leaderships, more money from lobbyists, more power to maintain the status quo.

Some Democrats see ominous signs in the minefield that faces the party going forward.

“Trump threw us a lifeline and unified us for now,” a senior House Democratic official told The Daily Beast. “But I think what you’re seeing here is what is going to play out national during this election: progressives feeling like they’re always getting pushed aside for the more moderate position and the frustration will continue to boil over.”

“I don’t think our problems are going away anytime soon.”

I see ominous signs in Puerto Rico. If the Democratic leadership can’t pull their heads out of their asses and lead, I see fires in the streets and gunfire in the capitol.

It can happen here

MIRAC — the Minnesota Immigrant Rights Action Committee — reports.

At 7:20 a.m. Monday morning, July 15, 2019, MIRAC members got notice that ICE was outside a home around 42nd and Portland Ave. S., Minneapolis. Three of us arrived there within minutes to witness two unmarked all-black SUVs and 1 pickup stopped in the far left lane blocking traffic surrounding a car.

We were too late. This person was most likely following the ‘know your rights’ advice that has been given to the community and did not open his car door. The ICE officers then proceeded to bust out the back window of his car to reach in, unlock the doors and drag this man to the ground.

An observer was across the street, yelling over two lanes of traffic, telling ICE that she wanted to see the warrant. The ICE officer moved his hand over his holster and told her not to dare to cross the street or move any closer to them. At one point the man told the ICE officers to please give his car keys to the observer and ICE told her that if she wanted to see any paperwork to meet them at their “office”.

After ICE left, we talked to a neighbor who witnessed the entire incident. He was very distraught and kept repeating himself, “So this is really happening…” We then took pictures of the damaged window on the car of the man who had been detained. You can see how all the glass fell into the car filling his child’s car seat. He left his work bag in the front seat and his coffee mug in the holder still steaming with hot coffee.

The widely reported ICE raids that President Trump has promised are reported to be targeting 2,000 families with existing removal orders. It is also being reported that there will likely be collateral arrests of individuals in proximity of targeted individuals.

What we witnessed in Minneapolis this morning may or may not have been part of a broader ICE operation. Minneapolis was not on the list of cities that were supposed to be targeted. But this is an important reminder that ICE takes people away every day in our communities, not just when the president publicly announces it. And it’s an important reminder that everyone should know their rights, and everyone has the right to not say or sign anything before talking to a lawyer.

TAKE ACTION:

1. Share ‘know your rights’ information on social media and in your neighborhood and with people you know. Here is good information in multiple languages: http://bit.ly/conocetusderechosndlon

2. Consult this guide before posting about ICE operations on social media to avoid spreading unclear or false information: https://www.facebook.com/…/a.56963099638…/2716313601715498/…

3. Contact local mayors and police chiefs to ask them to reiterate their commitment to refuse to participate or in any way coordinate with ICE operations, and ask that they immediately inform the public if they receive notification that ICE operations will be carried out in their jurisdiction.

Minneapolis Mayor Jacob Frey
612-673-2100
Twitter: @Jacob_Frey

Minneapolis Police Chief Medaria Arradondo
Phone: 612-673-2735
Twitter: @MinneapolisPD
Email: policepio@minneapolismn.gov

Hennepin County Sheriff Dave Hutchinson
Phone: 612-348-3744
Twitter: @HennepinSheriff
Email: Sheriff@hennepin.us

Saint Paul Mayor Melvin Carter
651-266-8510
Twitter: @mayorcarter_

Saint Paul Police Chief Todd Axtell
Phone: 651-266-5588
Twitter: @ToddAxtell
Email: Todd.D.Axtell@ci.stpaul.mn.us

Ramsey County Sheriff Bob Fletcher
Phone: 651-266-9333
Twitter: @RamseySheriff
bob.fletcher@co.ramsey.mn.us

That “know your rights” info is a little discouraging, because it tells you all the things ICE is not allowed to do, yet as this example shows, they go right ahead and do them anyway.

It’s the last day of Prime Day…resist!

Demonstrators shout slogans and hold placards during a protest at the Amazon fulfillment center in Shakopee, Minnesota, on December 14, 2018. – A group of Amazon workers in Minnesota who are Somali refugees resettled in the Midwestern US state demanded better working conditions during a protest outside one of the retailer’s warehouses. Dozens braved frigid temperatures to demonstrate outside of the Amazon warehouse in the Minneapolis suburb of Shakopee — home to a sizable Somali immigrant population from which Amazon has heavily recruited. (Photo by Kerem Yucel / AFP) (Photo credit should read KEREM YUCEL/AFP/Getty Images)

The serfs in Minnesota who work long hours for low pay are on strike. You wouldn’t cross a picket line, would you?

Anyway, read the story, it’s an eye-opener. Workers there have grueling schedules, like having to race through the warehouse to pick an item every 8 seconds, or to pack 230 items an hour. It’s demanding and unreal, and Amazon uses the threat of firing and replacing people as a whip to keep them in line.

This isn’t the first time Amazon has faced accusations about improper working conditions. A 2015 New York Times exposé described Amazon as a “bruising workplace.” Multiple reports claimed that Amazon warehouse jobs are grueling and extremely taxing, both physically and mentally, due to ever-increasing demands. Journalist James Bloodworth wrote that there were workers who peed in bottles to avoid taking bathroom breaks. A Verge report revealed that “hundreds” of workers in a Baltimore facility were fired for not meeting productivity levels. Amazon, for its part, has denied many of these reports, insisting it is a “fair and responsible” employer.

Yet, thousands of workers in Europe have gone on strike in the past to protest increased work hours, the reduction of bonuses and an unhealthy work environment. That hasn’t really happened much in the US — Amazon workers in Europe are unionized, while US workers are not — but the workers in Shakopee could help change things.

Also interesting is that Minnesota became a hotbed of resistance to Fuhrer Bezos because they recruited workers heavily from our Somali population…and they organized to fight for the right to prayer breaks. I may not be sympathetic to the idea of prayer, but I am entirely sympathetic for workers’ right to have a little time free to do as they will during the day. Anything less is inhumane.

But it all boils down to one thing: UNIONIZE.

Truth be told, a single warehouse going on strike will likely not affect Amazon’s bottom line very much, even if it does happen on Prime Day. But it’s a sign of a much larger shift in how Amazon workers across the country are attempting to organize for a better workplace. Some workers in the Staten Island warehouse are trying to unionize, for example, as are Whole Foods employees. As Amazon introduces more automation and attempts to retrain its staff, the need to negotiate better working conditions might be more important now than ever.

Jeff Bezos would not have a hundred billion dollars if he hadn’t ripped it from the backs of labor. Imagine a country with strong unions — we wouldn’t have so many billionaires, and we’d be productive without treating human beings as automatons.

Antifa, we have a missile gap

The most damning thing about antifa is that we have photographic evidence of them mixing up lots of milkshakes — it’s so pathetic that the fascists had to make up a lie about them adding quick-set cement to them, just to make it seem like maybe they were a little bit dangerous.

Contrast that with the fascists. A police raid on a fascist group in Italy found this:

The article says it’s an air-to-air missile. I don’t think the arms race has gone so far that they have an air force yet, but maybe they just want to peel the warhead out of its shell for 500 pounds of explodey evilness.

There was also this fine collection of armaments.

I guess they’ve seen too many Avengers movies, and need a fascist shield to counter Captain America. The guns are going to be an effective response to getting milkshakes thrown on them, for sure.

If you don’t like punching Nazis, you’re going to hate this

What do you think of a man who threw flares at ICE vehicles and buildings?

An armed man was fatally shot Saturday after throwing what authorities called “incendiary devices” at an immigration detention center in Washington state and trying to set a commercial-size propane tank on fire, according to Tacoma police.

About 4 a.m., 69-year-old Willem Van Spronsen threw “lit objects” at buildings and at cars in a parking lot, police said, causing a vehicle to go up in flames. Court records show the man was arrested last year at a protest at the privately owned detention center, and Immigration and Customs Enforcement called the man an “anti-immigration enforcement protester.”

There’s an argument to be made that he was committing acts of violence and that he was a terrorist. I’d disagree; a terrorist is trying to intimidate civilians with fear, while Willem Van Spronsen was targeting the tools of institutional oppression to stop terror. Violent, yes; terrorism, no. Read further in the article, and buried in bland language is the purpose of his act.

The attack came as thousands protested at ICE facilities nationwide ahead of the agency’s planned mass arrests of undocumented immigrants on Sunday. The Trump administration has said it will target about 2,000 families for deportation, focusing on as many as 10 cities. Seattle is not among the cities reportedly being targeted.

The Northwest Detention Center on the Tacoma Tideflats is owned and operated for ICE by a private company called the GEO Group, according to the Northwest Immigrant Rights Project, which puts the facility’s capacity at 1,575 — one of the biggest immigration detention centers in the country, the group says. As ICE faces calls to improve conditions for migrants in its custody, some have called on the government to stop using privately run detention centers.

There is the truly criminal act, the state terrorism we stand by and watch: private companies paid by the government to imprison innocents for being born in the ‘wrong’ place.

He wrote a farewell letter. He knew he was going to die.

He wrote,

there’s wrong and there’s right.
it’s time to take action against the forces of evil.

evil says one life is worth less than another.
evil says the flow of commerce is our purpose here.
evil says concentration camps for folks deemed lesser are necessary.
the handmaid of evil says the concentration camps should be more humane.
beware the centrist.

He was right. Will Van Spronsen is a human being who acted against evil.

ICE imprisons, tortures and deports hundreds of thousands of people and the brutality and scale of their harm is only escalating. We need every form of resistance, solidarity and passion to fight against ICE and the borders that they defend. Will gave his life fighting ICE we may never know what specifically was going through his head in the last hours of his life but we know that the NWDC [Northwest Detention Center] must be destroyed and the prisoners must be freed. We do not need heroes, only friends and comrades. Will was simply a human being, and we wish that he was still with us. It’s doubtless that the cops and the media will attempt to paint him as some sort of monster, but in reality he was a comrade who fought for many years for what he believed in and this morning he was killed doing what he loved; fighting for a better world.

Sciencing the accusations against antifa

I approve this use of the scientific method to debunk the Portland police. They fed this stupid rumor that antifa was mixing quick-setting cement into milkshakes to do more harm to the fascists they were protesting. There was no evidence of such behavior, but it quickly became a right-wing talking point.

So Willamette Week tested the assertion. They made vegan milkshakes, then stirred in cement. It can be done! Unfortunately for the accusers and the credibility of the Portland police, it can’t be done surreptitiously.

Neither the Portland Police Bureau nor any witness has been able to produce credible evidence that a single cement milkshake was thrown June 29. But a concrete milkshake is distinctive, as we learned. It’s gritty, clumpy and a dark color. If such concoctions weren’t seen June 29, that is almost certainly because there weren’t any.

Cement milkshakes also won’t set, confirming what I heard from many people that sugar interferes with the process.