The Company We Sadly Keep

“It is difficult to get a man to understand something when his salary depends upon his not understanding it.” ~ Upton Sinclair

A triple-threat epidemic is sweeping the land—not just some deadly virus, water-born disease, or auto-immune reactions to toxins, although those too plague us—but of secrecy, unaccountability, and impunity, bypassing checks and balances, impervious to any outside scrutiny or supervision. This cancer on the Republic has metastasized throughout halls of power and workplaces almost everywhere.

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NPR, the CIA, and Assault of Corporatism

In her five-minute interview with Ursula Wilder, a CIA psychologist whose job there involves counseling returning spies, NPR’s Mary Louise Kelly (their alleged National Security Correspondent) went over what makes someone who reveals state secrets tick. Kelly failed big-time to probe Wilder about whether she ever thought an insider might ever have a patriotic motivation to inform the public of illegal behavior on the part of the agency. Based on Wilders’ profile of leakers, the answer would surely have been No, but it sure would have been nice to ask.

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Trump for Dummies

Just when a consensus—including certain Republican and cabinet officials—is emerging that electing Donald Trump was a big mistake, a new book shows up to tell us how to make more mistakes like it. It’s from the creator of Dilbert and his crew of corporate miscreants and details how one won the 2016 presidential election. But Scott Adams’ Win Bigly is more than that; it’s sort of a Machiavelli for Dummies meets Fortunetelling for Dummies. It purports to demonstrate how readers can forecast outcomes, as he did of the 2016 election (emphasis his):

On August 13,2015, I predicted that Donald Trump had a 98 percent chance of winning the presidency based on his persuasion skills.

He proceeds to explain the way he came to that conclusion, including the number, and—Sad—how he suffered personally for having done that. Although, he asserts, Blogging and tweeting of The Donald’s inevitability cost him street cred, new licensing deals and speaking engagements, and half his friends, he stuck to his guns.

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Harvard, the CIA, and All That

After Harvard’s John F. Kennedy School of Government rescinded its invitation to Army whistle-blower Chelsea Manning (whom Obama sprung from the brig by pardoning her), a chorus of protest (led by 19,000 Harvard alumni and 169 professors) ensued. The main issue, according to them and the press, was how the Institute of Politics (IOP) at the Kennedy School of Government (KSG) caved to deep-state pressure. Specifically, current CIA Director Mike Pompeo cancelled his talk at the school, and former CIA deputy director Michael Morrell tendered his resignation to Harvard’s Belfer Center, saying “I cannot be a part of an organization…that honors a convicted felon and leaker of classified information,” apparently believing that only the best and brightest war criminals deserve such honorifics (horrorifics?). When, after all, has the CIA ever taken Harvard publicly to task for slack on the national security front?

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Creating a participatory system of economic democracy in Rojava

(Reblogged from Systemic Disorder, 8/30/17)

Out of repression has emerged one of the world’s most interesting experiments in democracy. And by democracy, what is meant is not the formal capitalist variety of elections every few years in which consumption of consumer products is substituted for participation in societal decisions.

Surrounded on all sides by hostile forces intent on destroying them, in a part of the world that Western pundits claim can only be ruled by dictators, the Kurds of Syria are intent on creating a society more democratic than any found in North America or Europe. This is not simply a matter of creating institutions of direct and communal, as opposed to representative, democracy but, most importantly, democratizing the economy. In the words of the imprisoned Kurdish leader Abdullah Öcalan, “In self-government, an alternative economic system is necessary, one that augments the resources of society rather than exploiting them, and in that way satisfies the society’s multitude of needs.”

The many sides of that equation are explored in detail in Revolution in Rojava: Democratic Autonomy and Women’s Liberation in Syrian Kurdistan,* a study of Rojava’s experiment in radical democracy by three activists who spent months in Rojava studying the society being constructed, and who themselves have been involved in Rojava in various capacities. One of the authors, Anja Flach, spent two years in the Kurdish women’s guerrilla army. Her co-authors are Ercan Ayboga, an environmental engineer, and Michael Knapp, a historian. Although the three authors make clear their sympathies for the Rojava revolution, their book is not hagiographic, but rather a serious analysis of a developing process.

See the full article here. A version of it also appears on today’s edition of CounterPunch.

The Curious Case of Citizen Grayson

The thing that saddens most in politics isn’t Donald Trump, the Republican Party, racism, xenophobia, or other alt-right affronts. No, as destructive as these forces are to the nation, what truly distresses me is the Democratic Party, and in particular opportunistic progressive politicians. Especially those tainted by corruption. The left doesn’t need that kind of skàta. We have enough tsouris as it is without shady standard-bearers.

The other day I received another email blast from Alan Grayson. He has kept relatively (for him) quiet after leaving Congress at the beginning of the year but is now gearing up, it seems, but for what? In his take-no-prisoners style, it begins:

We need an organization dedicated to ending the Trump Administration.

So here it is.  Welcome to the Resistance Movement! We want Donald Trump indicted, or we want him impeached and convicted, or we want to force him to resign.  Any way it happens, the Angry Creamsicle has got to go.

This is not an organization for people who have mixed feelings about Donald Trump, or who worry about whether VP Pence would be better or worse, or are willing to let Senate Republicans “investigate” Trump and leave it at that.  No.  This is an organization for people who have decided that TRUMP MUST GO – and are ready to take action to make that happen.

The left-populist Orlando rapscallion is at it again. The four-term ex-congressman and failed Florida Senate candidate, the self-styled “congressman with guts,” appears to have a new and unsurprisingly unique field operation. His Resistance Movement is not to be confused the “resistance” to Trump that Nancy Pelosi claims to spearhead while refusing to play the impeachment card. Grayson may or may not have created or authorized a website calling itself The Resistance (http://www.lockhimupnow.org/) but he’s certainly promoting it and, if true to form, intends to capitalize on it…somehow.

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Zombies Demand Healthcare

As promised, on Thursday the Senator from Coal and Tobacco released his chamber’s close-to-the-vest health care bill, and you know what? It isn’t actually a health care bill. It’s a government spending and taxation bill that incidentally screws up access to health care. Differing from the House’s American Health Care Act bill only in detail, it so severely limits Medicare spending as to totally undo almost all of the limited good that Obamacare instigated. Even the establishment-happy Senator McCaskill was moved to observe that it would remove life support from elderly and disabled Missourians and force the sick into emergency rooms in a state already losing rural hospitals. To her credit, she told off Chairman Orrin Hatch from her perch on the Finance Committee the other day, but of course nobody who matters cared.

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Jam a Brand, Fan a Brand

Hardly a week passed after Donald Trump was sworn in as President when the tribute videos began pouring in from all over the world. Maybe you’ve seen some of them. They are just great. Fabulous. All of them. I mean it. So many that NPR lost track of some of the best ones when they reeled them off back in February. But you know NPR. Such losers. Should stand for Not Progressive Reporting.

One of the best tributes, which NPR overlooked for some odd reason was Iran’s. So, ICYMI, as a public service Progressive Pilgrim Review presents it here.

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Letter to an Erstwhile Comrade

Dear Alexander, wherever you are,

Happy birthday, comrade! How’s the struggle going out there? Tell me, cuz we need your help, now more than ever.

For reasons I could enumerate but can’t concretely substantiate, I’m writing via Celestial Post rather than virtually. I’m not sure what has made loquacious me, unlike you, fraught to propel words across the Net. Perhaps fear of blowback from the minions of ascendant reactionary forces, armed and eager to smite dissidents with Puritan vengeance. There’s no way to get through to them but one can still try to get around them. Continue reading “Letter to an Erstwhile Comrade”

Channeling Molly

Newspaper columnist and Texas raconteur Molly Ivins’ mortal coil left this plane on January 31, 2007 (Oh Lord, have we been without her for a decade?), dubious that she was bound for greater glory. Alas, she never got to witness the accidental ascendance of Donald R. Trump, not that it would have surprised her. She surely would have had plenty to say about the state of affairs that allowed yet another buffoon (the last one being “Shrub,” her affectionate moniker for Bush Lite) to leave the middle class behind as he terrorized the planet.

Most of the right-wing pols who had to pull her barbs from their behinds considered her a fifth-columnist, but all she was was a dogged, sharp-tongued reporter of liberal persuasion who took down political bloviation and chicanery with devastating down-home humor. She is sorely missed, and in her absence the self-awareness of the politicking class in the Republic of Texas—if not everywhere—has sunk below irony. As Molly once said, the thing about holes is when you’re in one, stop digging. Oh sure, we have Stephen Colbert, John Oliver, and Andy Borowitz to deliver unto us outrage over political jackassery, but who remains to make us giggle by exposing political mendacity in regular columns syndicated in hundreds of newspapers? But then, does anyone read newspapers anymore? Continue reading “Channeling Molly”