Sunday, June 4, 2017

Criticism of Certain Contemporary Opportunist Views on the State

Lenin highlighted the fundamental importance of this issue for those that understand the existence and determining role of the class struggle in social progress, noting that "particular attention should be paid to Marx's extremely profound remark that the destruction of the bureaucratic-military state machine is "the precondition for every real people's revolution" and stressing that "Only he is a Marxist who extends the recognition of the class struggle to the recognition of the dictatorship of the proletariat. From ML Today

Saturday, January 23, 2016

Some call it Death caused by depraved indifference; I call it murder by willful neglect

Last year on March 23rd, 2015 - After listening to hours of personal and expert testimony, the Forward Together Moral Movement People's Grand Jury returned with indictments of the North Carolina Governor and his gang sitting in Raleigh. This is in regard to the governor and his decision to turn down Medicaid expansion to cover people who cannot afford medical care. The Robert Wood Johnson Foundation and The Urban Institute released reports showing that the 24 states that have refused to expand their Medicaid programs under the Affordable Care Act and will miss out on $423 billion in federal health care dollars through 2022.Under the law, the federal government picks up all of the costs of the expansion through the first three years and then its share gradually drops to 90 percent. Without those federal dollars coming in, a number of hospitals that serve low-income populations in refusing states have already been shuttered; one being Belhaven hospital, in Belhaven N.C. where since it’s closing, preventable deaths have occurred. In essence, he and his regime cause the deaths of many. One case that of know I of personally occurred just in the last few weeks. A friend’s life partner succumbed to cancer at 62 years of age. This was a hard working couple who had their own home remodeling, two person repair business, since the crash of 2008 things haven’t been going so well in the business due since sickness. The problem was no money for a doctor to see what was going on. Only when it got to the point desperation did someone agree to see him; too late, cancer. Something that might have been treatable now couldn’t be. Two weeks ago he died but they were “nice” enough to treat him at hospice for his last two weeks of life. If I were so inclined I could wish horrible things for him in his next life, but since I don’t ascribe to that kind of thinking or belief, people like this must be brought to justice in the here and now. Until we get rid of this corrupt anti poor and working class, racist system, I fear will see and hear more of this. Legal definition of depraved indifference; To constitute depraved indifference, the defendant's conduct must be 'so wanton, so deficient in a moral sense of concern, so lacking in regard for the life or lives of others, and so blameworthy as to warrant the same criminal liability as that which the law imposes upon a person who intentionally causes a crime. Depraved indifference focuses on the risk created by the defendant’s conduct, not the injuries actually resulting. , the Forward Together Moral Movement People's Grand Jury returned with indictments of the North Carolina Governor and his gang

Friday, February 20, 2015

Reverend William Barber: Leader of the Biggest Social Movement the Media Won't Talk About - by Carl Gibson

This is the first installment in a three-part series on Reverend Barber and the Forward Together movement in North Carolina. On Feb. 14, roughly 30,000 people got up early on a cold Saturday morning to march on the North Carolina state house in Raleigh to demand anti-poverty legislation, voting rights, healthcare access, LGBT rights, environmental justice, criminal justice reform, and reproductive rights. #MoralMarch, the official hashtag of the protest, was a top national trend on Twitter, and an image of the march posted on the US Uncut Facebook page was shared over 12,000 times and reached almost 1.5 million people. (Full disclosure: I’m one of the admins for US Uncut.) Meanwhile, the lead story in the next day's Raleigh News & Observer, complete with a spread of 97 photos, was about a five-mile run in which participants ate a dozen Krispy Kreme donuts halfway through. Anchors of corporate-owned local TV news stations each spent 40 seconds talking over video of the march, briefly mentioning that it happened, and the News & Observer later gave the march a brief two-sentence summary on its website. So what is it about the Forward Together movement the media is so scared to talk about? As Reverend Dr. William Barber, president of the North Carolina NAACP and voice of the Forward Together movement, calls it a “deeply constitutional, deeply moral” battle against the worst forms of injustice, led by young people, minorities, and people of multiple faiths – the exact groups the current political regime is working to disenfranchise. “The attacks are happening out of fear. They’re not attacking us because we’re weak,” Barber said during an extensive interview at his hotel. “They’re attacking us because when that demographic forms, we can fulfill the hope of Dr. King and form that demographic bloc that can shift the politics in the South. And if you can shift the South, you can shift the whole nation. After the election of Barack Obama, that demographic formed in places like North Carolina, Virginia, Florida and South Carolina. And the extremists saw that, and they said, 'we’ve gotta stop this.'” The Forward Together movement is officially known as the Historic Thousands on Jones Street (HKonJ) coalition, made up of 170 member organizations spanning multiple issues. HKonJ unites these groups under a 14-point agenda emphasizing an intersectional approach including: high-quality public education, living wages, healthcare for all, racial justice, voting rights, affordable higher education, fairness for state contracting, affordable housing, criminal justice reform, environmental justice, collective bargaining and worker safety, immigrants’ rights, a new civil rights act, and bringing the troops home. Rev. Barber encourages other movements to adopt a similar approach and focus on pressuring state legislatures and governors, not Washington politicians. “Most of the threats in this country are coming from the statehouses. It isn’t coming from Congress. Congress isn’t passing anything,” Rev. Barber said. With the financing of billionaire retail emperor Art Pope, extreme right-wing Republican politicians took a majority in the legislature in 2010 – the first post-Citizens United election in which multiple campaign finance laws were eradicated. In 2012, Pope funded Pat McCrory’s successful campaign for governor, cementing the first Republican supermajority in North Carolina in over a century. “I call them extremists, I don’t call them Republicans,” Rev. Barber said. “I know good Republicans, and these people aren’t it… This extremist, Koch brother, tea party ideology is dangerous for the future.” McCrory reciprocated by making Pope his administration’s budget director, and not long after, budgets for schools, healthcare, housing, environmental regulation, unemployment compensation, and social safety nets for the impoverished were slashed in favor of generous new corporate tax breaks for big businesses like Pope’s. Governor McCrory refused to expand Medicaid under the Affordable Care Act, which effectively signed the death warrants of anywhere between 400 to 1,100 North Carolinians, according to a Harvard study. North Carolina also passed one of the nation’s most draconian voter suppression laws, which limited early voting, ended same-day voter registration, and included strict requirements on what kind of photo ID is acceptable for voter registration (student photo ID is not accepted). The North Carolina NAACP has since filed a lawsuit against the State of North Carolina in federal court challenging the restrictions on voting. The group won an injunction in the 4th circuit and is taking the case to trial on July 6. “Extremists, in their hubris, they won’t back off. They keep making mistakes. They’re trying to stop a future from coming that they cannot stop,” Barber said. “You’re attacking the dreams of these children’s grandparents, and they understand that. When you roll back voting rights, you’re telling these children, ‘We’re gonna dishonor your grandmama and your mama,’ and you just don’t do that.” In comment threads on News & Observer articles, the Forward Together movement’s detractors claim that despite constant protests, Republicans won the U.S. Senate election in North Carolina last November. However, Rev. Barber pointed out that despite all of the restrictions on voting, two traditionally red counties – Hyde County and Jackson County – turned blue last election for the first time since 2008, and that Republican Thom Tillis only beat Democrat Kay Hagan by 1.7 percent. “We’re changing the politics of the state,” Barber continued. “We’re challenging our legislators and governor to be true to the constitution and true moral values – not to put their hand on the bible, swear to uphold the constitution, then violate the basic principles of both.” The facts back up Rev. Barber’s case. Multiple surveys conducted by Public Policy Polling found that a majority of North Carolinians (54 percent) think giving teachers a raise should be a bigger priority than cutting taxes. Fifty-five percent of North Carolinians thought that those teacher raises should come from increasing taxes on people making more than $250,000 a year as opposed to the state senate’s proposal of cutting teachers’ assistants. Gov. McCrory’s approval rating was once at 50 percent, but dipped as low as 39 percent. The Republican legislature had polled as high as 40 percent, but after the consistent protests at the capitol, they polled as low as 18 percent. “It wasn’t that way when we started. But the movement has shifted the culture. And we hope that more of those who are against us will continue to turn,” Rev. Barber said. “Lyndon Baines Johnson didn’t want to pass the Voting Rights Act, but Dr. King and the NAACP shifted the consciousness of the nation and made him do it.” Stay tuned for part II of this series, which compares the organizing efforts of Martin Luther King Jr. and the Civil Rights movement of the 1960s to the organizing efforts of Reverend Barber and the Forward Together movement today. - See more at:

Tuesday, January 13, 2015

thoughts from podunk: Cuba beware

Cuba beware · Written by Ken Fuller · Tuesday, 13 January 2015 · Daily Tribune The news last month that the remaining three of the imprisoned Cuban Five had been released from their unjust incarceration in the USA was understandably welcomed by people around the world. Also welcome was Obama’s decision to re-establish diplomatic relations with the small Caribbean socialist republic. While Obama is able to unwind some of the blockade measures which have been in place for half a century, however, it will fall to the US Congress to dismantle the whole disgraceful apparatus, as it is embedded in legislation. It would almost certainly be a mistake, though, to interpret this development as marking a fundamental shift in Washington’s strategic designs. This is readily demonstrated by looking first at the global context in which the USA’s new Cuba policy was announced, then taking a closer look at Obama’s public announcement of said policy. A few days earlier, Obama approved a bill imposing sanctions against Venezuela on the hypocritical basis (for a country which tortures its perceived foes and where police kill unarmed civilians with impunity) that the government of Nicolas Maduro had condoned human rights violations when it responded to anti-government protests earlier last year. Washington’s new measures triggered mass demonstrations in Caracas, while other Latin American nations rallied to Venezuela’s defense. Bolivian president Evo Morales charged that Washington, having failed politically in its campaign against Maduro and his late predecessor Hugo Chaves, was now waging “economic aggression” against Venezuela. Shortly after announcing the new policy on Cuba, Obama issued an executive order banning exports to Crimea and imposing further sanctions against Russian and Ukrainian companies and individuals (the European Union had agreed similar measures a few days earlier). It is probably safe to assume that the Ukraine’s largest private gas producer, which last year appointed US Vice-President Joe Biden’s son to its board of directors, will not be affected. Let’s just remind ourselves, stating the matter bluntly, just how the situation in Ukraine came about. In late 2013, Ukraine’s president’s Viktor Yanukovych had second thoughts about signing an agreement with the European Union (EU), calculating that this would involve forsaking the undoubted economic benefits of Ukraine’s association with Russia. The EU was upset, and doubtless encouraged the demonstrators who soon began to assemble in Kiev. This would lead to the toppling of Yanukovych in February 2014. Quite apart from EU involvement, it is now clear that the demonstrators in Kiev (who, it should not be forgotten, were extremely violent) were funded by the USA. Such was acknowledged by Assistant Secretary of State Victoria Newland, who stated in a speech in Washington in December 2013 that Washington had provided $5 billion. More recently, George Friedman, founder and CEO of “intelligence” company Stratfor, has said that the USA was behind the coup against Yanukovych, as it was concerned about Russia’s growing influence in the Middle East, and in particular by its pro-Assad position on Syria. The anti-Yanokovych forces contained neo-fascists, and these now made their way into government. It was in these circumstances that the population in Crimea voted overwhelmingly to rejoin Russia (it had been transferred to Ukraine in 1954 by Khrushchev). At the same time, people in the eastern Ukraine were equally concerned by the re-emergence of neo-Nazi elements in Kiev and began to agitate for separation (although not, as repeatedly reported in the West, necessarily union with Russia). It should never be forgotten that the former Soviet Union lost almost 30 million people in World War II; this indelible memory has informed the actions of people in Crimea and eastern Ukraine and has also conditioned Russia’s own position, as it has watched Nato forces, despite agreements to the contrary, move ever-closer to its borders. We now have a situation, therefore, where Washington and the EU, having interfered in a sovereign nation and caused the overthrow of an elected president (good or bad, honest or corrupt — none of this was their business), now impose sanctions on Russia and Crimea for taking measured and moderate steps to safeguard their interests. Rightly or wrongly, many suspect that the hand of Washington is behind the recent steep fall in oil-prices which, along with sanctions, is having a major depressant effect on the Russian economy. The fact that Venezuela, another oil-producer, is similarly affected has done nothing to dispel such suspicions. So, coming as it did in a period when Washington was following up its previous regime-change adventures in Venezuela, Ukraine and now Russia (to say nothing of Libya and Syria), and braying about the right of Hollywood “comedians” to conduct international diplomacy, what must we look out for in the USA’s new tack toward Cuba? There was, in Obama’s speech, no hint of neighborliness toward Cuba’s regime, no note of apology for past crimes committed in the name of “demarkracy.” Alan Gross, the American released from a Cuban jail on humanitarian grounds, was portrayed as an innocent hero, and warmly welcomed home. Gross had been employed by a contractor of US Aid for International Development (USaid) which had been awarded a $6 million government contract for “democracy-promotion” in Cuba, for which Gross himself received over $500,000. The Cuban Five, on the other hand, were merely referred to as “agents.” Not a word about the fact that they had penetrated terrorist groups run by Cuban exiles in Florida, or that their evidence had been handed to the FBI at a meeting in Havana. The all-important question: why? Why now? Was it because Washington had undergone a Damascene conversion and would no longer interfere in the internal affairs of other nations? No, we have seen above that this is certainly not true. Obama himself stated quite flatly that the previous policy of isolation and embargo had simply not worked and thus needed to be discarded. But what had been the aim of the previous policy? Regime change, and that has not altered, as evidenced by the recent revelation that USaid, the same outfit for which Gross was working, had infiltrated Cuba’s hip-hop fraternity with the notion of recruiting dissidents, leading to a youth revolt. Thus, the new policy will be directed at achieving that aim by alternative means. Although, if the embargo is lifted, there will be economic opportunities for Cuba, it is perhaps no exaggeration to say that it is entering its most dangerous period yet. Cuba beware! thoughts from podunk: Cuba beware