The reactionary politics of Tulsi Gabbard

General Sisi and Tulsi Gabbard

Rep. Tulsi Gabbard, the congresswoman from Hawaii who endorsed the Sanders campaign, spoke at The People’s Summit last weekend in Chicago where Sandernistas met to discuss perspectives after their candidate bombed out.

Gabbard has a strong anti-interventionist stance which went over well with the Sandernistas & also goes over strong with supporters of Assad who are circulating her videos opposing US intervention in Syria because she supports Assad.

This is a real bad case of laying down with flea-bitten dogs. She has some progressive views. For that matter, so does Drumpf. But when she goes sour, she goes to a very dark place & associates with the most loathsome, reactionary forces in world politics: General Sisi, Narendra Modi, Netanyahu, Assad.

She is an Islamophobe-supremo just as rancid as Pamela Geller. Frequently she calls out Obama for weakness in the fight against Islamic terrorism & is adamant that the roots of ISIS are in Islamic theology.

She is also staunchly pro-Israel & hateful to Palestinians so to see her videos endorsing Assad circulated by Palestinian supporters is deeply disturbing. Last November, she traveled to Cairo, Egypt in a congressional delegation headed by stone-cold reactionary, racist, & xenophobe Rep. Dana Rohrabacher to meet with General Sisi & discuss with the junta how “to strengthen a vital alliance against Islamic terrorists.”

She converted to Hinduism & has developed strong political connections to Indian prime minister Modi, a nationalist extremist implicated in the 2002 pogrom of Muslims, but she also has connections to BJP, the rightwing Hindu nationalist party, including financial support from members. The deeper connections are political–hatred of Islam–not to Hinduism.

That’s quite a résumé for a woman only 35-years-old. She’s almost reactionary enough to serve as Clinton’s vice president. She isn’t however the kind of political person who has any place in progressive circles–regardless of her incidental liberal views. That would be taking lesser evil politics to their worst extremes.

(Photo is Gabbard with Sisi and Rohrabacher in Cairo)

Saudi Arabia, which beheads, publicly flogs, & crucifies dissidents & legally defines atheists as terrorists, has been chosen to head a UN panel which selects officials to formulate human rights standards & monitor violations internationally. Earlier this year they tried to assume leadership of the entire 47-member UN Human Rights Council but lost.

Many marvel at the insanity of this & there is widespread objection. But in its own way it makes perfect sense. Who else would the UN select to head it up? The US with its Guantanamo, other torture prisons & many wars? Russia, which is bombing hospitals in Syria? Mexico, which has killed over 100,000 civilians in the past several years & is now shooting at unarmed striking teachers? Kenya, which is shooting down unarmed students? China, with the legacy of Tiananmen Square? Apartheid Israel? God forbid, the UK? Almost all 47 members have extensive criminal rap sheets.

Marx is famous for the aphorism that ‘history repeats itself first as tragedy then as farce.’ Neoliberalism, the barbaric phase of capitalism, preempts irony with the damnation that it’s now impossible to distinguish between the two.

DACA & DAPA: deferred deportation scams

McAllen holding center

Let’s just cut to the chase on the US Supreme Court deadlock on the Texas v US case which thwarts Obama’s executive orders in 2012 & 2014 regarding undocumented immigrants. The executive orders set up two programs: Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals (DACA) in 2012 & Deferred Action for Parents of Americans & Lawful Permanent Residents (DAPA) in 2014. After 26 states challenged the legality of the executive actions, a Texas court issued an injunction halting their implementation & expansion. This Supreme Court deadlock upholds that injunction.

Anybody with an ounce of skepticism should have seen all this coming like a Mack truck going the wrong way in a rose garden. DACA & DAPA were always scams. They are deferred deportation programs where you hand the government your identity & location without receiving any promises or legal commitments in return. That way they know just where to pick you up when DACA & DAPA are reversed. We are told this Supreme Court action does not signal the beginning of massive deportations but that is small comfort when immigration agencies are now engaged in a massive deportation campaign.

What it does mean immediately is that several states will employ their ‘prosecutorial discretion’ to deny driver’s licenses & the employment & educational opportunities opened to DACA & DAPA recipients. Under the destructive 1997 Clinton welfare reforms, undocumented immigrants were not made eligible for benefits like food stamps, Medicaid, or Obama Care even if they registered for DACA or DAPA.

The reason these legal challenges should not come as a surprise is that Obama made clear DACA & DAPA were not an amnesty. They were provisional & had several restrictions, including age, residency, & time restrictions. One must register & reregister every two years to become eligible for a work permit. It was certain from the outset that they would be legally challenged & reversed.

According to estimates, about 3.7 million immigrants were eligible for DACA & DAPA (out of the nearly 12 million undocumented immigrants in the US) but by December 31, 2015, only 700,00 were recipients. According to US immigration services, by June 2014, 24,000 applicants had been refused. It would be important to know what happened to those who were refused since they were undocumented & immigration officials now knew where they & their families lived & worked.

Apparently many undocumented immigrants were skeptical about registering since the overwhelming majority did not. That was probably because the Obama administration had already deported more immigrants & conducted more workplace raids hunting for undocumented workers than even Bush. His deportation policies flout child welfare by deporting parents & forcing thousands of children into a dangerous, bloated foster care system. Meanwhile, thousands of unaccompanied minors caught trying to cross the US-Mexico border are offered detainment in place of social services.

This is a photo published in 2014 by the conservative Brietbart website of immigrants in a US Border Patrol holding facility in the Rio Grande Valley on the Texas-Mexico border. In any sane society, stuffing stressed, exhausted human beings like sardines into such conditions would be called human rights crimes.

Immigration is a human right. Open the borders.

Kashmiri children grow up in shadow of military violence

Kashmir kids from Aabi Malik

American parents wrestle with the issue of allowing their kids to play with toy guns–which is an irony in a nation steeped in militarism & gun culture. But it’s the parental way of shielding kids, hoping they won’t be caught up in it.

These are Kashmiri kids who grow up in “the most militarized region in the world.” They can’t be shielded since they are the targets.

How unspeakable it is that children in places like Kashmir & Palestine are deprived of the carefree days of childhood & forced to face the gruesome barbarisms of occupation.

Long live Kashmiri Intifada! Long live Palestinian Intifada!

(Photo from Aabi Malik)

My little birds are so cute. They used to surround me & tweet their little hearts out if I missed the time for their treats. Now they attack me until I put it out. 

“I Protest” by MC Kash, Kashmiri rapper

There is nothing a senior rebel likes more than seeing rebellion against injustice emerge among the young. It’s better than all the longevity elixirs combined. So I am delighted that Dorian Haqmoun & Rollie Mukherjee have introduced me & others to the marvelous Kashmiri rapper 26-year-old MC Kash–who has things to teach seniors about resistance to occupation & oppression.

I’ve now watched YouTube interviews with him & a documentary titled “Take It In Blood.” This video titled “I Protest” is about protests that began in June 2010 when tens of thousands of Kashmiris took to the streets to protest that Indian soldiers set up & murdered three young men in a staged encounter. Indian riot police responded to the protests with tear gas, rubber bullets, & live ammunition, killing 112 unarmed protesters, including teenagers & an 11-year-old boy.

Kash is a political rapper who said, “When you’re sad, you do nothing. You probably cry over it. When you’re angry, you try to make a difference.” He raps in English because “English is a universal language. Kashmiris know how they have suffered. So if I went on to rap about it in Kashmiri, that would be useless.”

He was inspired to write a work titled “Moment of Truth,” after watching a documentary about Gaza. In 2014, after the murderous Israeli bombing siege in Gaza, he said “”Gaza & Kashmir are related. A stone relates us. Humiliation relates us. Occupation relates us. Anger relates us. The human rights violations relate us. Intifada relates us.”

CBS news yesterday showed a US war room for Syria where they electronically monitor exactly what is going on militarily. There were computer screens. infrared cameras, & control panels of all kinds. They can tell the movement on the ground & in the air & who it is that’s moving; they can target a pimple on the butt of a camel. All you have to recall is Obama, Clinton, & other US officials sitting in the White House watching the assassination of Osama bin Laden in Pakistan.

So people should ask themselves why US officials are cagey when asked if Russia is bombing hospitals. They know exactly who is doing what & where. They know exactly who is bombing those hospitals. When they dummy up & fumble for words, that is not evidence in Russia’s denial but suggests some kind of US complicity in supporting Assad.

It may sound snotty, but did you ever notice how many people are really eloquent writers but don’t have anything to say & use a lot of words to not say anything well? It gives being a blowhard some style. That’s good.

Whither goeth the left? Syria will decide.

Child and white phosphorous

Whither goeth the left? Syria will decide.

The left has been in sustained crisis for nearly forty years now–since the end of the Vietnam War really. It has long been divided & factional but for nearly 100 years the decisive rifts have always involved war & where you stood. So perhaps it shouldn’t be surprising that a crisis is emerging so sharply among progressives about where you stand on Assad, on Syria, & on foreign military intervention.

Partially, the problem is reliable media sources of information in a complex situation; partly it’s the theoretical bankruptcy of celebrity left leaders who appear to be coasting on memes rather than political scholarship; & partly it’s the debating style of leftists who ridicule & taunt opposing views rather than politically anatomize them. Macho one-up–man-ship has replaced sharp, coherent analysis.

Quite frankly, most of us don’t know squat about the organizational & military character of ISIS. It’s very difficult to unravel the political character of the Syrian popular militias & who is arming them. Most of us can’t agree on who is actually bombing Syria or whether those bombers are going after Assad or ISIS of civilians.

But one thing is clear & that is Syria is a watershed moment for progressives–socialist & others. How we are responding, including the theoretical methods we use to understand, are creating rifts & divisions from which there will be no rapprochement–but from which many young people will learn & will emerge as new theoretical & political leaders to replace those veterans who substitute assiduous analysis with strutting. As it stands today, there is no left on Syria but only a cacophony of competing rationalizations depending on which military you support.

What’s going on in Syria is complex & confusing. Antiwar activists need to understand if this is, as some allege, a regime change situation like the US in Iraq & Libya–& if so, what can we do about it without supporting the dictatorship of Assad. There needs to be discussion on this, not snide, smart-aleck repartee where analysis is required.

But there are some red alerts that should be noted in the ongoing cacophony that can hardly be called a debate: If you support the Assad regime & sneer at the popular revolution against him, you might be a redneck. If you support or advocate military intervention by any regime for or against Assad, you might be a redneck. If you take Russian propaganda like RT as the gospel truth & sneer at the testimony of Doctors Without Borders, Amnesty International, & other Syrian human rights groups, you might be a redneck. If you vilify first responders digging through rubble to rescue civilians & slander them as al-Qaeda, you might be worse than a redneck. If you slander the deceased Jo Cox as al-Qaeda for supporting those first responders, you might as well bend over & kiss your ass good-bye as a progressive.

Photo is (r) Syrian child suffering white phosphorous burns & (l) rain of white phosphorous from Russian bombers from FB wall of Syrian Organization for the Defense of Human Rights.

The historic imperative remains: rebuild the international antiwar movement.

Heil mein fuhrer Trumpf!

Drumpf in his Mein Kampf pose (Nancy Wiechec, Reuters )

Last Sunday on the CBS program “Face the Nation,” Drumpf said the US should consider racial profiling of Muslims. “It’s not the worst thing to do,” he said, & cited Israel as a successful model of profiling along with France where police are closing down mosques.

Drumpf reiterated his support for banning Muslims from entering the US, for increased surveillance at mosques, & for enhanced scrutiny of Muslims who purchase weapons. Does that mean there’ll be a religion check now when you buy a gun?

In response, Clinton said the comments show Drumpf to be unfit for president. She has a better strategy: bomb the hell out of them overseas.

(Photo of Drumpf in his heil mein fuhrer pose by Nancy Wiechec/Reuters)