Learning from Wisconsin

Today’s New York Times published a photograph of Mad Tea Party favorite Guvnor Scott Walker signing legislation designed to further undermine the workers movement in Wisconsin. In the photo, Walker is surrounded by other neo-fascists who are as solemn—yet happy—as Klansmen at a cross burning.
When the right-wing launched the first stage of their attack Public Sector unions in Wisconsin, back in February 2011, militant workers raced to Madison, ready and willing to shut the capital down. At one point as many as 100,000 trade unionists protested what was euphemistically called the “Wisconsin Budget Repair bill,” one that would dramatically undermine the power of public employee unions by stripping them of the right to collective bargaining. Yes that was the “Budget Repair bill,” an assault against Labor. And looking back, clearly the Fix was In.
Leading Democrats made a few calls and convinced the most powerful public employee labor leaders that they needed to recall Guvnor Walker and everything would be fine! “Go home!” they told the workers as tens of thousands demonstrated and camped out, occupying the capital building for weeks, workers more than ready to exercise their democratic rights and resist the attacks!
“Go home!” the so-called “leaders” said, “get out your checkbook, send money to us and we’ll go toe-to-toe in an election campaign and recall that SOB Walker!”
So the workers went home. They went home and walked precincts, circulated petitions, and, at the urging of their “leaders” (and many who meant well) used precious union resources to fight what was essentially a media battle against billionaires who had set the trap—neocons and neo-fascists recently set free by the Supreme Court—men like the Koch brothers, who had been waiting for the moment for decades, wicked scheming reactionaries released like crazed criminals, now able to spend as much money as they wanted on election campaigns where they knew they could prevail.
It was the first round in a fight where the rich set the rules. The workers didn’t have a chance.
If the people and their unions had organized and sticked to their guns, the unions of government employees could have prevailed, and it would have been very unlikely that Walker and his sponsors, the Koch brothers, could have turned the tide so dramatically  that Wisconsin would become an anti-union “right to work” state. What’s more, if the workers had exercised their power, if unions across the state — including in the private sector — had joined together in solidarity, Guvner Scott Walker would not be a leading candidate for the RepubliKlan nomination for president.
MORE ABOUT A GENERAL STRIKE
The general strike is a powerful weapon but one that should only be used when the workers are tightly organized, when they are ready to act, and, of course, when it is truly appropriate. All these conditions existed in Wisconsin back in February, 2011.
Instead the thousands of workers who were organized, who were ready and willing to act, who had on their own initiative gathered to fight for the rights of their union brothers and sisters who were under attack—instead they were sent home and told to recall the Govnor, to vote for the democrats and everything would be just fine.
Now here we are in 2015, and Labor has taken additional blows to the head— and not only in Wisconsin, but in Michigan! Yes Michigan, the birthplace of industrial unionism, the Flint Sit-Down Strike of 1937, where the CIO was launched in a big way. Wisconsin and Michigan were bastions of the trade union movement in the United States. In just four short years, the RepubliKlan changed that. Or did they?
Not so fast Koch brothers!  Back Off Mad Tea Party! Step back crazed reactionaries!
We’ve been beat up before and, unlike you rich folks in your mansions, on your yachts,  flying around in your private jets, we are tough as nails.
Oh we know you have a physical trainer and your own personal gym! We know you are armed to the teeth!
Yes you slapped us in the face, you rubbed our nose in shit, you did just about everything you could to undermine our confidence. But we’re awake now, and we understand that despite all the talk about democracy we can now see exactly where we stand. And we stand with each other, with our class brothers and sisters, all nationalities, male and female, with papers and without; we will gather ourselves together and we will rekindle the fight for our rights. We will do ever so much more than that: we will knock you off your pedestals
And so brothers and sisters, what do we need to do now?
We need to call in the troops all across the nation and rebuild the Trade Union Movement from the grassroots up. Sure let’s use social media and all tools that will help. But we have to get back to basics and not rely on any one tool, thinking that somehow if there is a great website and we send out enough tweets and emails that will by itself build a mighty movement. Sure, we need to use social media. But more than anything, we need to rebuild our unions from the shop floor up, organizing inside, from the company gates, going from one worker’s home to another, using other proven tools such as house meetings, organizing around concrete issues, forming trade union organizations where we can all learn our history, develop our strategy and tactics, link up with other brothers and sisters that want fundamental social and economic change.
And we need to create a vibrant new working class culture, one with music, literature, new magazines and newspapers, online AND the old-fashioned type you can hand to someone at work, in your neighborhood. And for those of us that are union members, we need to get very active in our locals: go to meetings, form militant caucuses, and begin the long arduous task of rebuilding the labor movement.
And let’s begin by defining what that means: We are not “the middle class.” That’s a bullshit term used by politicians and others that attempt to hide our true class identity. We are the multi-national working class. Power to the People.

Marion Smith

Marion Smith — a funny, charismatic, talented and beautiful woman, honest to a fault and a founding member of the Voodoo Vamps — would have been 87 years old May 27.

Marion was the life of the party. Yet she never knew what she had or who she was. How could she? As a lonely young mother stuck at home all day and night, her husband working long hours, doctors wrote her endless prescriptions for tranquilizers, amphetamines, sleeping pills and other drugs — as they did many unhappy working class women back then.

Among many talents Marion was a natural born artist. Pushed by her third husband — an arrogant businessman who felt she lacked sophistication — she took up oil painting. Though she had no experience and little training, Marion created several lovely landscapes.

Presented by her third husband as a trophy wife at a bourgeois cocktail party, an aristocratic woman in firs and pearls approached her, martini in hand, wearing an expression that Marion described this way: “She sneered as if she had a shit mustache.” The aristocrat looked Marion over and then said, “Oh, I understand you paint. What sort of work do you do?” “Bathrooms, living rooms, hallways, mostly,” she replied, much to bourgeois woman’s chagrin. Two years later, husband three left Marion; he took every penny she had and much more.

After one more failed marriage Marion decided she didn’t need a husband. She lived alone the rest of her years, happy to see her friends — Vivian, Marylyn, Ron, and her two adult boys, though they lived five hundred miles away. She dearly loved her two sons, daughter-in-law, María, and her two darling grandchildren.

Marion tried to be happy her entire life. Maybe she tried too hard.

I was at her bedside when she died. It was an agonizing, drawn-out death. After battling to breathe for several hours, Marion took one long difficult breath, opened her eyes wide and gazed skyward with a sublime, radiant expression, as if she was gazing into the grandeur of heaven itself — though I could see nothing there.

I love you, mom, I said. Then Death slipped in beneath the door and took her away.

International Worker’s Day (May Day)

International Worker’s Day (May Day) is observed around the world. Though it was born in the U.S.A., the corporate media has convinced many folk in the U.S. that May Day originated in Russia.

What follows is the true history of MAY DAY as best i can relate it:

On May 1st, 1886, 80,000 workers in Chicago joined a parade in support of the movement for the Eight-Hour Day.

The wealthy and powerful owners of industry seethed in anger at the sight. They made plans.

Prior to the success of the Eight Hour Day Movement and hard-won efforts at union organizing, many workers were forced to labor as long as 18-hours a day, six or seven days a week, just to make a living.

As part of a national effort to win the Eight Hour Day, workers went on strike at the McCormick Reaper Plant in Chicago. On May 3rd, police attacked and killed four striking workers on the picket line there.

The next day, May 4th, a rally was organized to protest the police attack and murders. The rally was held at Haymarket Square, also in Chicago. Near the end of the meeting, as it began to rain and folks began to head home, nearly 200 rifle-carrying policemen attacked the dwindling crowd.

Someone — name unknown to this day — set off a bomb; police panicked and started shooting. Four workers were killed as were seven policemen, all but one from gunshot wounds.

The ruling millionaire class and their henchmen in the press blamed eight labor organizers for the melee, though many of the accused were nowhere near the site that day.

Martial law was declared around the nation. Union and other radical labor leaders were hunted down, newspapers closed, homes searched without warrants. In Chicago, eight men — all labor leaders — were arrested and blamed for the death of the policemen at Haymarket Square.

During the sham trial, The Chicago Tribune offered to pay jurors if they found the men guilty. The Haymarket Eight, as they were known, were all convicted, seven sentenced to death.

Labor leaders George Engel, Adolph Fischer, Albert Parsons and August Spies were all hanged on November 11, 1887.

Louis Lingg, a member of the Haymarket Eight, also sentenced to death , died in jail the day before his comrades. Prison officials claimed he blew his head off with a dynamite cap.

After world-wide pressure, and a petition filed by Clarence Darrow, on June 1893, Gov. John Altgeld pardoned the other three accused men. He also declared that the trial against all eight labor leaders was rigged from day one.

At a meeting in Paris of the First International in July 1889, labor delegates from many parts of the world declared that May First — May Day — would be set aside in memory of the Haymarket Martyrs and to celebrate the international unity of the working class.

 

Standing Rock

It’s terribly sad — and infuriating — to see what the government did at Standing Rock after all the great work people did there, suffering through a bitter winter and now a brutal defeat. Sometimes progressives have no choice but to withdraw, to temporarily retreat from a battle. When we lose a fight — as the movement will many more times before things really change — we need to summarize what happened, why, and draw lessons from our efforts (for example, the government represents the billionaire class and not the people); to develop new tactics given the neofascist reality (organize and unite all who can be united to fight fascism); to learn what other successful progressive movements have done (study history and revolutionary political theory); regroup and prepare for a long difficult struggle knowing now very clearly who our friends are, who are our enemies, and what we need to do to be victorious. It will happen, brothers and sisters, if we learn from our experiences, from history, and organize!

Real Fake News

The New York Times recently ran an extensive piece that claimed to prove Putin and the Ruskies interfered in the U.S. general election on behalf of soon-to-be-anointed Führer, Donald Trump.

Predictably the Times didn’t prove anything except that it has an axe to grind.

Now leading members of the “Democratic” Party such as, well, Hillary Clinton are saying, “You See? It was all Putin’s fault!” that she lost the election. In fact Clinton, Inc. had a helluva lot to do with why folks will soon have to see Der Führer Trump’s racist, adrenaline-stretched face on TV every single day, with the title “President of the United States” beneath it.

If that isn’t depressing enough, now Clinton, Inc., and their comrades in the billionaire class are asking: “Why is it that there’s no more talk about Benghazi, Hillary’s emails, speeches to the billionaire class, etc.?” Why? Because that was all “FAKE NEWS” they declare!

WELL Hillary may NOT have tried to paper-over details about the killing of the U.S. ambassador to Libya, as claimed by the RepubliKlan, but as Secretary of State, she did play a huge role in developing U.S. policy there. And what was that policy? To interfere in the internal affairs of Libya — and in a much more direct and decisive manner than just hacking emails.

What exactly did the U.S. do in Libya? They helped NATO bomb the hell out of it, for starters. The CIA also provided intelligence to the so-called “rebels” there — you know, the “democratic” forces. That “intelligence” allowed them to locate the on-the-run head of state, Mumamar Gaddafi. U.S. allies then beat and tortured Gaddafi, and finally, with brutal barbarism, jammed a knife into his rectum.

Ah yes: Democracy in action.

And all the red white and blue details are displayed in vivid color on your “smart” phone. So is a video of then-Secretary of State Clinton gloating after Gaddafi’s murder. “We came, we saw, he died!” she declared, erupting in exuberant celebration like a gambler whose team just kicked the winning field goal, eyeballs nearly popping out of her head.

Days later, the Times and other corporate media began yet another transparent propaganda campaign, declaring their outrage — OUTRAGE!  that Russia or ANY foreign power would DARE interfere in American  elections!

Ironically buried in that same story is an admission that the U.S. has “attempted” to rig elections in other nations.

That’s putting it mildly!

One need not look far back into history to recollect that the U.S. supported the coup that overthrew the democratically elected president of Honduras, Manuel Zelaya.  The spokesperson who announced the U.S. policy supporting the coup was Secretary of State Hillary Clinton, who argued the Honduran military was “following the law” when they arrested Zelaya — still in his pajamas — and spirited him out of the country.

Hacked emails, Russia, fake news, look over there! Did you see that? What’s up with the Kardashians?

Focus, brothers and sisters!

What DID those “hacked” emails show, anyway?

They revealed that the Democratic National Committee (The DNC), which is the general staff of the “Democratic” Party, interfered in the US electoral system. And what exactly did they do? The DNC did their darn best to undermine the campaign of Vermont Senator Bernie Sanders.

The Times piece reported that Debbie Wassermann Schultz, the former head of the DNC, was forced to resign DUE to the very same hacked emails. Those darned Ruskies!

Why exactly did Debbie Wasserman Schultz step down? Because the hacked emails, which the TIMES admitted (by omission) were Debbie Wasserman Schultz’s ACTUAL EMAILS — showed that Debbie Wassermann Schultz — yes, her — and the DNC INTERFERED in the Democratic primaries on behalf of Hillary Clinton! 

Even more astonishing, during the primary season, the DNC and Clinton, Inc. used their connections to encourage the corporate media to promote Donald Trump. That’s right! When CNN, MSNBC and others cut to “LIVE” Trump events, they did it in part because the Clintons thought Trump would be the easiest candidate for Hillary to beat. So we can thank Clinton, Inc., and their operatives for setting the stage for victory of Donald Trump.

If the “Democrats” had only fully embraced democratic institutions and let them work freely it is very likely that Bernie Sanders would have been the nominee of the that  Party — and if that had happened, the corporate media would be busy attacking President-elect Sanders rather than blaming the Russians for hacking DNC emails.

Conclusion:

“FAKE” news comes from many different sources. The New York Times should know: They published false claims by the Bush Administration that Iraq and Saddam Hussein had weapons of mass destruction. As a result, the U.S. invaded Iraq, destroyed much of it, killed hundreds of thousands of their citizens AND sent brave American soldiers to their deaths. The war also wrecked the lives of those who survived.

The US invasion of a sovereign state — the State of Iraq — also unleashed a new force in the Middle East, one that both President Obama and the soon-to-be Führer, Donald Trump, declare must be destroyed. The “democratic” forces that “liberated” Iraq let the genie out of the bottle, settling loose ISIS/ISIL, otherwise known as the Islamic State.