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

Saturday, January 4, 2014

Gets to the Root

From the Jewish daily forward: At first glance, it seems that Ani DiFranco has become the latest example of how a mix of star-fueled insulation from the real world and white privilege can lead to bad public relations. After an Internet-inspired backlash, the feminist singer-songwriter has canceled a musical retreat at a former slave plantation in Louisiana, now a resort that promotes the quaint imagery of antebellum life. But the dreadlocked diva isn’t to blame. Many have wondered how the normally socially progressive artist could be so insensitive. The answer is that for more than a century, since the South lost the Civil War, it has buried the horror of slavery to such an extent that celebrating at a site of such human suffering doesn’t seem so absurd. That a place like the Nottoway Plantation, where DiFranco wanted to have her event, exists as a luxury destination for weddings and other celebrations is telling enough. This is just one example of both collective amnesia and resilient pride in a racist ideology. The fact is that it’s not that hard for a society to publicly condemn its own past and actively work toward a better future. As Jews, we know that Germany’s monuments to the Holocaust explicitly define the dead as victims of the nation. Those who resisted have museums in their honor. The death camps, both in Germany and outside, remind us of the dark possibilities of the human spirit, a sign that regular people can participate in unspeakable evil. Nothing about that era is celebrated. By contrast, the South only concedes that it suffered a military defeat — burying the fact that the Confederacy was explicitly defending the ownership of people and white supremacy — and never admits that since the Confederacy waged war against the United States government, generals like Robert E. Lee share a lot in common with Osama bin Laden. That’s unfair, actually. Bin Laden wasn’t responsible for anywhere near the number of American deaths caused by Lee and company. Instead, Lee’s birthday is a holiday in several Southern states, which just happens to fall near Martin Luther King Day. There is also a separate Confederate Memorial Day, in part because the federal Memorial Day, which honors American troops who died in war, was started by Union veterans. The Confederate battle flag is still a common site. The likeness of Lee, along with Jefferson Davis and Stonewall Jackson, is engraved on Stone Mountain, serving as a Confederate version of Mount Rushmore. I recently joked to a friend in my hometown of Atlanta that I should move back and open a Union Army-themed bar called Sherman and Grant’s, named for the top Union commanders. He suggested that I buy fire insurance. Meanwhile, monuments to the civil rights struggle in the South are pushed to the dustbin. The MLK memorial center in Atlanta has descended into mediocrity. A few years ago, I was biking in New Orleans and stopped to read a historical marker in a landscape defined by rusted train tracks and overgrown lots. It was the site of Homer Plessy’s arrest for sitting in a whites-only train car in 1892, which resulted in the Supreme Court case that validated racial segregation. The South’s defensiveness in it rosy remembrance of its own past is grounded in the excuse that the Union Army ravaged the South, including burning down Atlanta, in the final days of the war and during its occupation afterward. This doesn’t pass moral muster. It is true that civilians suffered as a result of the war, but it was a war the South started. And no war comes without crime, even on the side maintaining the moral high ground. The Allies committed atrocities during World War II, but this did not vindicate the Nazis’ quest for world domination. Until there is collective contrition in the South about slavery and the Confederacy’s war against America in order to preserve one race of people as property of another, we’re never going to see an end to things like the DiFranco incident. And the will to make amends, to make the Nottoway Plantation look more like Auschwitz does today, has to come from within the South. If it comes only from Northern residents like myself, any effort to change consciousness will be seen in terms of an outside culture imposing its norms onto the South. And we know how much will the South has to resist something like that. Read more:

Thursday, July 11, 2013

Jailed for justice at July 8th’s Moral Monday

by: HARVEY SMITH july 11 2013 LILLINGTON, N.C. - On Monday July 8th, over 4,000 North Carolinians came together during the first day of the workweek to protest and participate in acts of civil disobedience as we have for the last 9 weeks. This was my 5th Moral Monday protest action. The Thursday before the prior Moral Monday I had made a conscious decision (which was not taken lightly) to take part in an act of civil disobedience that might mean arrest and detention. My daughter Tanya upon hearing this, jumped at the chance to join me (Political activism runs in our family genome). We arrived at Christian Faith Baptist Church before the protest (all of those who were interested in participating in civil disobedience are asked to meet beforehand) and met with others who were participating, as well as with the leader of Moral Monday, the Rev. Dr. Barber. There were 64 of us; young, old, black, brown, white, LGBT, and straight. A real snapshot of the citizens of North Carolina! Voices were raised and there was clapping and shouting in response to rousing talk by Dr. Barber, members and guests. Doctor Barber then gave a news conference to the media. Some were local, some from NY and some were from as far away as Sweden. Mark Thompson, who has a radio show on XM radio-left, was there and Broadcast his program from The Moral Monday protest. Everyone was treated as family and given water and other substance for our journey that evening. Upon arrival at the protest site at Halifax Mall, we saw thousands upon thousands of people already there! What an amazing sight! Every Monday there is a focus and a topic. This Monday's was "The Numbers Matter," a protest against the actions of the extreme right wing running our state and education: Who have they hurt? What have they cost us? What are the numbers? Speakers included Dr. Barber, the NAACP, Planned Parenthood and students as well as Mark Thompson who all focused on the NUMBERS. As Dr. Barber stated, we can all yell and protest, but we better KNOW the facts we are protesting against. The only thing that is worse than being wrong is being LOUD and WRONG! . Going forward to more Moral Mondays July 15, the date of next weeks rally will focus and be run entirely by the sisters on women's health issues. All others will attend to support our sisters in struggle against the onslaught. The following weeks after will be an interfaith rally lead by members of all clergy, including rabbis, Imams, pastors, priests, and more. The following weeks will be bringing it home. Rallies will be held in each of the 13 congressional districts of North Carolina to register the unregistered voters and organize for the battles that will surely be in front of us. Everyone at the rally was asked to take a vow for that each person will help register 50 people to prepare for the next election. At the close of the general rally on Halifax Mall, all who volunteered to participate in civil disobedience lined up behind flag bearers, one carrying the American flag, one carrying the North Carolina flag and one carrying the Veterans for Peace flag. The huge crowd parted and we marched down the middle. It was just like the biblical story of the Red Sea. Everyone was cheering and clapping and it was an extremely proud and humbling moment for me. We entered the Legislative building and took our place with Dr. Barber, and the gallery above soon filled with supporters singing songs: "We shall not be moved," and "We shall overcome." After Doctor Barber's address to the crowd and media, the chief of the capital police announced on his bullhorn a five-minute warning to clear the building. At that point there was booing and hissing against the chief. Rev Barber became visually upset; he quieted the crowd and said, "We will have none of this disrespect!" He continued, "The chief is a friend and is only doing his job and we will not disrespect the police." He then asked for applause for the officers who were only carrying out their jobs because this was not personal thing and said we must take the moral high ground. With that the crowd erupted into thunderous applause. A few minutes later, the Chief of the Capital Police gave a two-minute waning on the bullhorn letting everyone know they must leave the building or be subject to arrest. With that warning, everyone who was not going to participate cleared the galleries and building, leaving just us 64 people and the approximately 15 police officers, both from the capital and Raleigh police departments, in the chamber. One of the first to be arrested was a gentleman dressed like and who actually looked like Uncle Sam. The second person who was cuffed and led away was Mark Thompson who was leading us in protest songs. They could have none of that so they declined to go in order while making their arrests and got him out of there as quickly as possible! This didn't work though, as we were not derailed from our chanting and singing. Mark may have started it but he gave us the power to continue it. Then, two by two we were cuffed behind out backs and led to the legislative cafeteria to begin being processed for transport to the county jail now called a detention center. In the cafeteria we were frisked, our personal belongs placed in an envelope and then we had our mug shots taken. After my mug shot was taken and I returned to my chair I noticed they didn't take my cell phone which I had on my belt. Knowing I would be frisked again at the jail I informed the chief who happen to be passing by they forgot my cell phone during the frisk, he looked at me, smiled, asked my name. He then took it and said it will be placed in my envelope that I would get back later. Thankfully my daughter was in eyesight all the time, she is a grown woman but still my baby. We had some good conversations with some of the police who were "guarding" us -- some of them intimated if it weren't for their jobs they would be standing with us in protest. After a wait of about a half an hour we were taken to the prison transport buses for our trip to the jail. As we stepped out into the daylight where the buses were waiting to take us to our new fate I saw something beautiful. To my surprise there were hundreds of people across the street with the press applauding and singing as we were placed on the buses! Solidarity is great!! The bus ride was uneventful as what are people who agreed to civil disobedience going do? Take over the bus? One funny thing did happen though. When we arrived at the jail before being taken off the bus, the officer who was our escort and whose demeanor was more of a kindly grandmother asked if Mr. so and so was on the bus. When he said yes he was, the officer said, "Your wife called and you forgot to leave her the car keys." With that the bus erupted in laughter and comments from the others as to how he might want to stay in jail for a few days to let the smoke clear at home. Inside the jail we were once again frisked and the cuffs were removed before we were placed in holding cells. We waited about a half an hour, and then were told to line up outside the cells. Wrist shackles were applied so there would be ten of us shackled together. Our group was led by the person dressed as Uncle Sam. What a sight we were as we marched to the part of the complex containing the magistrate's offices! Uncle Sam leading older black and white guys chained together; even the prison guards got a kick out of the irony of the situation. We arrived at the magistrates holding area and were again placed in a holding cell. Another half an hour went by and we were all called by name to see the magistrate; all 7 of us in our holding cell were told to make a semicircle in front of the magistrates window (which was like a window you see at a bank) as he would read the charges and then ask each one in our group to hand out the paper work to the rest of the group so we can be released. Mark Thompson volunteered to be our clerk to make sure all received their paper work. After signing the document we were escorted to the lobby to pick up our belongings and leave the building. As we left the building one by one, a huge roar came from supporters waiting for us outside, including Dr. Barber who was there to welcome us back along with the NAACP legal team who did an excellent job with everything. My daughter was released 15 minutes before me and was waiting on the outside with my son-in-law and my youngest grandson Jonathon -- who by the way turned 6 years old that day. Dr. Barber on hearing Jonathon was 6 called everyone together outside of the jail and everyone sang happy birthday to Jonathon who was hoisted up on his daddy Anthony's shoulders. A birthday Jonathon will never forget! Conditions of my release As for the future, I cannot step foot on the Legislative property until after my court day. Here are my charges as printed on my condition of release statement: 2nd degree trespass Failure to disperse upon command Violating legislative building rules The conditions of signing myself out on promise to appear state that I must not return to the legislative property at 300 N. Salisbury Street and 16 W. Jones Street until the final disposition of this case. But I can and will return to the sight of the protest every Monday. I will have my day in court as will all others and the state will be forced to bend to the will of the people since we aren't going away. And a branch that won't bend will break because "The People united will never be defeated!" Even though this was easy and in no way can be compared to the martyrs actions who have gone before such as Dr. King, Medgar Evers, John Lewis, Rosa Parks, Susan B. Anthony, W. E. B. Du Bois, Cesar Chavez and too many other to list, it is an honor to stand and fight and continue the struggle for those that came before.