What just happened in Iowa caucus elections?

Sanders in Iowa

If there’s anything more rigged than a craps game, it’s the US electoral system. We’re hearing all about the election results in Iowa, like it meant something, but few could tell you what actually took place. The Iowa caucus elections that took place last night have nothing to do with popular democracy but instead play a role in the ruling elite’s method for vetting the electability of candidates.

Iowans did not go to the polls. Those who voted in the one-hour procedure were a tiny minority of people from both parties who actually attend infrequent meetings called precinct caucuses. Neither party is a membership organization; they’re elite apparatuses for electoral purposes. The caucus structure of the two parties is a hack job that gives a semblance of democratic control that does not exist.

How I know this is only because I worked my way through college & one of my jobs was for Margaret Harding, the former head of the Minnesota Democratic Party (DFL), & a preeminent snob. Though she disdained me as working class, she encouraged me to join a DFL precinct caucus prior to the 1968 elections. People who have illusions in that party should join a caucus because you will see what I did: that it had nothing to do with my life or my political & economic interests.

The people who attended were snobs, hacks; half of my caucus were members of the Communist Party (CP) who I knew from the antiwar movement. At the same meeting they voted for withdrawal from Vietnam & endorsed pro-war candidate Hubert Humphrey for president–contradictions principled people cannot live with. The members of the CP were in the DFL because they are committed to changing it from the inside. But it changed them & not for the better.

What happened in Iowa is significant to the power brokers in both parties in order to gauge what to do in this election which has become a fiasco. Even if Sanders took the caucus vote in a sweep, it doesn’t mean those who really run the Democratic Party would nominate him as candidate. They can’t deliver on his rhetoric. The GOP power structure would be down on their hands & knees thanking God that Trump lost but it’s more likely they engineered the outcome. That’s how rigged the game is.

Tribute to Shaimaa al-Sabbagh & all who died for Egyptian democracy

Shaimaa al-Sabbagh

Shaimaa al-Sabbagh was an Egyptian socialist & activist who was shot to death on January 24th 2015 when police attacked a peaceful protest with tear gas & bird pellets. The protesters were marching to commemorate those many activists killed during the Egyptian uprising of 2011 that ousted dictator Hosni Mubarak.

Many have drawn cynical conclusions from the reversal of the Egyptian uprising. It’s easier to be a cynical smart-ass than it is to sustain hope because the latter doesn’t rely on miracles or deus ex machina solutions but requires diligent commitment. That’s why al-Sabbagh has become a symbol of resistance to Egypt’s military junta–because despite massive repression, she dared defiance. That’s what makes Palestinians & Kashmiris so politically vital–that they dare defiance against what seems all odds.

We should take a moment to honor Shaimaa al-Sabbagh & all those who lost their lives in the Arab uprisings that began five years ago. The revolutions against tyranny aren’t over. Social transformation is not child’s play nor for smart-alecks so the forces of change need time to recover from the blows, assess what happened, & reassemble under conditions of extreme repression.

The image on the left is a photograph of the moment of the police murder of Shaimaa al-Sabbagh at a peaceful protest commemorating the 2011 revolution ousting Hosni Mubarak. She was part of a protest going to lay flowers in Tahrir Square in honor of those who died. The moment of her death has become a political icon & a grafitti call to arms now appearing on Cairo’s streets.

Our deepest respect & fullest solidarity with the democracy movement in Egypt.┬áMay we learn from them how to stand against tyranny as they did–without flinching.

(Photo from Reuters; stencil from twitter)

(This is repost from February 2nd, 2015)

Bombing of Yemen is attempt to destroy every vestige of Yemen uprising of 2011

Yemen uprising 2011

The justifications given for the barbaric bombing siege of Yemen, now gone on for nearly a year, include the threat of the Houthi insurgency & role of Iran. Somewhere along the line, they appear to have dropped the fear-mongering about Al-Qaeda which the US used for years to justify drone bombing in Yemen & restrictions on civil liberties in the US.

The massive destruction is an attempt to wipe out every trace of the Yemeni uprising in 2011 that was massive, determined, powerful, defiant, & often led by women in burqas. Even after it was thwarted by the intervention & maneuvers of other regimes in the region (most prominently Saudi Arabia), protests continued, including to demand the release of Yemeni citizens held in Guantanamo. Stealth graffiti was often the only form of protest.

The monarchical & military regimes involved in this barbarism against Yemen, including Saudi Arabia, Jordan, Egypt, Bahrain, Morocco, Kuwait, Qatar, Sudan, UAE, along with the US & UK, are terrified at the prospect of democracy in the Middle East because it is at odds with the best interests of tyranny in all its many forms.

The scope of the relentless savagery against the people of Yemen is to signal not just to people in the Middle East but around the world that resistance to tyranny will be crushed without mercy. Those of us not under the bombs have every obligation to stand with the people of Yemen by rebuilding the international antiwar movement. They led the way where we must follow.

Our deepest respect for the people of Yemen; our most heartfelt regrets the antiwar movement is too weak to stop the violence against you.

(Photo is protest in Sana’a on March 30, 2011 as part of Yemeni uprising, by Muhammed Muheisen/AP)

Haute couture leads the way to Armageddon

Paris fashion show ( Patrick Kovarik:AFP:Getty Images) Feb 1 2016

Isn’t creativity supposed to be capitalism’s vaunted selling point? Is there a problem with the creativity thing developing in haute couture? Has neoliberal degeneration begun to manifest on the runway? Will the fashion world get to Armageddon before the rest of us? And is this how we’ll all be dressed?

(Photo by Patrick Kovarik/AFP/Getty Images)

When it comes to refugees & asylum rights there is only one option: solidarity or barbarism

Refugees at Idomeni, Greece (Alexandros Avramidis:Reuters) Feb 1 2016

Is any commentary on this photo necessary? Because we are speechless in condemnation of European refugee policies. This is Idomeni, Greece at the border with Macedonia where nighttime temperatures are just above freezing. These refugees–already exhausted, traumatized from loss, afraid for their children, elders, disabled, infirm, & their futures–are still forced to endure inhuman conditions–with miles & months to go before the ordeal ends. Most have no idea where they will end up.

Sixty-million people across the globe on the move fleeing from war, bombing, impoverishment. They present only one option to humanity: solidarity or barbarism.

(Photo by Alexandros Avramidis/Reuters)