ga('send', 'pageview');
John Passant

Site menu:

July 2016
M T W T F S S
« Jun    
 123
45678910
11121314151617
18192021222324
25262728293031

Tags

Archives

RSS Oz House

Share

Authors

Subscribe to us

Get new blog posts delivered to your inbox.


RSS Blog RSS

Site search

Miniposts

Keep socialist blog En Passant going - donate now
If you want to keep a blog that makes the arguments every day against the ravages of capitalism going and keeps alive the flame of democracy and community, make a donation to help cover my costs. And of course keep reading the blog. To donate click here. Keep socialist blog En Passant going. More... (4)

Sprouting sh*t for almost nothing
You can prove my 2 ex-comrades wrong by donating to my blog En Passant at BSB: 062914 Account: 1067 5257, the Commonwealth Bank in Tuggeranong, ACT. More... (12)

My interview Razor Sharp 18 February
Me interviewed by Sharon Firebrace on Razor Sharp on Tuesday 18 February. http://sharonfirebrace.files.wordpress.com/2014/02/18-2-14-john-passant-aust-national-university-g20-meeting-age-of-enttilement-engineers-attack-of-austerity-hardship-on-civilians.mp3 (0)

My interview Razor Sharp 11 February 2014
Me interviewed by Sharon Firebrace on Razor Sharp this morning. The Royal Commission, car industry and age of entitlement get a lot of the coverage. http://sharonfirebrace.com/2014/02/11/john-passant-aust-national-university-canberra-2/ (0)

Razor Sharp 4 February 2014
Me on 4 February 2014 on Razor Sharp with Sharon Firebrace. http://sharonfirebrace.files.wordpress.com/2014/02/4-2-14-john-passant-aust-national-university-canberra-end-of-the-age-of-entitlement-for-the-needy-but-pandering-to-the-lusts-of-the-greedy.mp3 (0)

Time for a House Un-Australian Activities Committee?
Tony Abbott thinks the Australian Broadcasting Corporation is Un-Australian. I am looking forward to his government setting up the House Un-Australian Activities Committee. (1)

Make Gina Rinehart work for her dole
(0)

Sick kids and paying upfront

(0)

Save Medicare

Demonstrate in defence of Medicare at Sydney Town Hall 1 pm Saturday 4 January (0)

Me on Razor Sharp this morning
Me interviewed by Sharon Firebrace this morning for Razor Sharp. It happens every Tuesday. http://sharonfirebrace.com/2013/12/03/john-passant-australian-national-university-8/ (0)

Advertisement

Links:

Orlando – a letter from a socialist in America

I reproduce below a Facebook note from a socialist in the United States. Facebook banned them for this and they re-posted it.

John

So I just got released from Facebook prison after they banned me for 3 days for my post on the Orlando shooting. I basically just tried to sum up some facts, counter the dominant narratives, provide some alternative explanations and make some connections. You know, things journalists should be doing. For that, I both went viral and was censored in a matter of 24 hours.

Meanwhile pages like that of fearmongering politicians like Donald Trump and of extremist far-right groups can spread their mind-numbing bigotry, and racist hatred on Facebook unchallenged and go scot-free despite all their offensive posts.

That’s why, stubborn as I am, I’m re-posting the post I got banned for, in defiance of this blatant double standard of Facebook. Here it is:
__________________________________

 

So after a couple of days of reports and testimonies, we know the following about the Orlando shooter:

He was a child of immigrants, born and raised in the United States.

He pledged allegiance to Hezbollah, Al-Qaeda AND ISIS, 3 organizations that are de facto at war with each other, showing he was ignorant about all 3, let alone politics in the Middle East in general.

He knew practically nothing about Islam and according to his wife, father and community he was not religious in the slightest.

He struggled with his toxic masculinity, had an alcohol problem and beat up his wife for which he was never charged.

He was racist towards Blacks, Latin@’s and other minorities and in the shooting killed predominantly queer people of color.

Despite his own alleged queer inclinations, he was a homophobe in a country where still 1 in 5 LGBTQ people are victims of hate crimes and there are more than a 100 anti-LGBTQ bills (from anti-gay marriage to bathroom bills) pending in dozens of states.

He idolized the NYPD, one of the country’s most well-known and cherished institutions that has an army bigger than ISIS, is known to indiscriminately and disproportionately spy on Muslims and which engages in systematic violence against Blacks, Latin@’s and other minorities.

He beat juveniles in detention centers over the head for a living as he worked for and got his training from the private security firm G4S, which is not only one of the foremost stakeholders in the Prison–industrial complex, but is also invested in mass deportations as it runs immigration detention centers and participates in the occupation of Palestine, training other mass killers in Israel to target and imprison Palestinians.

He staged a mass shooting in a country that has seen a 1,000 mass shootings in the last 1,200 days.

So basically he was ignorant, self-conflicted, racist, sexist, homophobe, had a sick admiration for authority and was obsessed with guns and violence, eventually acting upon all of that.

Sorry folks, but your supposed “Islamic radical terrorist from Afghan” is as American as apple pie made with homegrown apples and baked in an American made oven.

 

Some socialists to vote for in NSW, Victoria and WA

 

 

 

 

The workers’ movement that could destroy France’s ‘Socialist’ government

France work law

 

Writing in Socialist Worker UK, and republished in Australian socialist magazine Solidarity, Dave Sewell starts off by saying:

‘A wave of strikes and protests to defend workers’ rights is causing a crisis for France’s Labour-type government. President Francois Hollande’s proposed Work Law increases working hours and gives bosses more power to sack workers.’

To read the whole article in Solidarity magazine click here. The French resistance that could take down a government

Labor and fairness

Image via freeimages.com

 

A pre-occupation with Triple-A ratings mean Labor’s economic policies are only marginally more considerate of Australia’s rising inequality than those of the Coalition, writes John Passant in Independent Australia. I say, among other things:

‘Maybe Shorten should explain why it is that Labor now accepts $52 billion in health cuts while the Government accepts $54 billion in cuts. He avoided a question about the $57 billion shortfall and muttered something about tough choices being necessary. Shorten said Labor could not fund all the cuts the Abbott/Turnbull Government had unleashed. In other words, the conservatives’ cuts are doing Labor’s work for them.

‘And therein lies a hint as to what is going on. Labor, too, will cut spending on health but just slightly less than the Liberals. Labor’s “fiscal consolidations” are like having your throat cut with a scalpel rather than the Liberals’ rusty old knife. You are still dead. The lesser evil is still evil.

‘I look forward to hearing the Opposition Leader’s weasel words on what Labor identified as the Government’s $23 billion shortfall in spending on schools and how we now can’t afford the fullGonski.

To read the whole article click here. How can there be fairness in an unfair economy?

No to homophobia; no to Islamophobia

Nicole Colson in Socialist Worker US reports on the outpouring of solidarity for the victims of a horrific mass shooting–and the need to challenge the tide of racist scapegoating of Muslims.

HORROR.

The word alone isn’t enough to describe the feeling as the country woke up to news of the worst mass shooting in modern U.S. history. For three hours in the early morning of Sunday, June 12, 29-year-old gunman Omar Mateen kept killing at Pulse, a popular Orlando, Florida, gay nightclub. By the time he was killed himself, 50 people were dead and at least 53 wounded–one out of every three people who had been at the club.

The response was immediate and overwhelming. Amid the shock and grief, thousands in Orlando and elsewhere turned out to donate blood (despite federal guidelines that bar gay and bisexual men from being allowed to donate blood) or offer any help they could.

In cities across the U.S., vigils took place the night of the terrible crime–drawing dozens in some places, hundreds in others, but all with a sober determination to stand up against hate.

Often, the Muslim community took a lead to push back against the right-wing narrative already taking shape–and with a plea: Don’t turn a horrific tragedy into an excuse for scapegoating and Islamophobia.

– – – – – – – – – – – – – – – –

NATURALLY, THE first question on most people’s minds was how anyone could commit such a terrible crime. But individuals and organizations with an agenda of war and racism were ready with an answer.

They fed the assumption, eagerly taken up by the media, that Mateen–a resident of Port St. Lucie, Florida, and native of New York City, whose parents emigrated from Afghanistan–was connected to “Islamic terrorism.”

Police said that Mateen was well prepared for the attack, equipped with an AR-15-type assault rifle. He had reportedly been employed as a guard in a juvenile detention facility by G4S Secure Solutions, one of the largest global mercenary firms and security contractors. He was licensed to carry firearms and had legally purchased a handgun and another weapon in the past week, though it isn’t clear yet whether these were the same weapons used in the attack. Photos of Mateen from social media showed him posturing in shirts emblazoned with NYPD logos.

As this article was being written, it remained unclear to what extent Mateen was connected to reactionary organizations such as the Islamic State in Iraq and Syria (ISIS). Law enforcement officials say that just before he carried out the attack in Orlando, Mateen called 911 and pledged allegiance to the leader of ISIS, Abu Bakr al-Baghdadi, and also referenced the Tsarnaev brothers, who carried out the 2013 bombing of the Boston Marathon.

But as of now, there is no evidence that Mateen was directed by ISIS. The theory being pushed is a new favorite of “terrorism experts”–that Mateen was “self-radicalized,” an isolated individual who gravitated to aspects of fundamentalist ideology and violence, and acted on that basis.

But the theory has some holes in it. According to Mateen’s ex-wife, during the time they lived together, he was abusive and violent toward her. She said Mateen wasn’t particularly religious and showed no indication of subscribing to radical Islamism.

A friend told the Washington Post that Mateen became more devout after his divorce and a pilgrimage to Saudi Arabia, but that he never expressed any sympathy for ISIS or other terrorist groups.

At the mosque he attended, Imam Shafiq Rahman told reporters that Mateen “was the most quiet guy; he never talked to anyone,” and never asked for any spiritual guidance. Rahman stressed repeatedly that violent ideology had no place at the mosque.

Federal authorities revealed that Mateen had been investigated by the FBI twice before, in 2013 and 2014, but their inquiries didn’t turn up any evidence to back up charges against him.

Following the killings, Mateen’s father, Mir Seddique, told NBC News that the rampage had “nothing to do with religion,” but was sparked by his son’s bigoted response to seeing two men kissing.

This corroborates the statement of a former co-worker, Daniel Gilroy, who, according to the New York Times, said Mateen often talked about killing people and frequently used racist and bigoted slurs.

Mateen’s massacre is described commonly as an act of “madness”–ignoring that those who are mentally ill are far more likely to be victims of violence than perpetrators of it–yet it is obvious that Mateen’s actions have their roots in a society dripping with bigotry and hate. Regardless of his connection, if any, to terror groups, Mateen’s rage–whatever its precise sources–coalesced into a toxic mass of violence that ended in a bloodbath.

But unlike other mass shootings in U.S., the Orlando attack is already being used to assign guilt to Islam–and, by extension, all Muslims.

– – – – – – – – – – – – – – – –

ANTICIPATING THE tide of Islamophobia to come, leading Muslim figures and organizations responded with unequivocal denunciation.

“We condemn this monstrous attack and offer our heartfelt condolences to the families and loved ones of all those killed or injured,” Rasha Mubarak, Orlando regional coordinator for the Council on American-Islamic Relations, said in a statement. “The Muslim community joins our fellow Americans in repudiating anyone or any group that would claim to justify or excuse such an appalling act of violence.”

It shouldn’t need to be said that the action of one individual–whether a religious adherent or not–doesn’t reflect the entirety of the world’s 1.6 billion Muslims or the 3.3. million Muslims living in America. Yet the political climate in the U.S. ensures that some public figures will try to ascribe collective guilt.

Most predictable was the Republican presumptive presidential nominee Donald Trump, who has made bigotry, Islamophobia and shameless opportunism defining features of his campaign. In the hours after the massacre in Orlando, Trump’s social media postings included: “Appreciate the congrats for being right on radical Islamic terrorism, I don’t want congrats, I want toughness & vigilance. We must be smart!” and “Is President Obama going to finally mention the words radical Islamic terrorism? If he doesn’t he should immediately resign in disgrace!”

In a longer statement from his campaign, Trump doubled down on his call late last year for a ban on Muslims entering the U.S.–ignoring the fact that Mateen was born in the city Trump claims as his home.

Trump also claimed, “Since 9/11, hundreds of migrants and their children have been implicated in terrorism in the United States.” That’s a flat-out lie, but one that will undoubtedly incite violence and vigilantism against Muslims, including “their children.”

By comparison, Hillary Clinton sounded more human in her response to the killings. But she couldn’t help using the massacre as a political opportunity, not only implying a link to terrorism without any evidence, but promoting her personal bona fides in fighting the so-called “war on terror” and promising to stop “attempts to recruit people here and everywhere, and hardening our defenses at home.”

Even Bernie Sanders, the left-wing candidate for the Democratic presidential nomination who many hoped would bring a different view into the conversation about Orlando focused on gun control and “destroying ISIS”–without saying anything about the need to challenge anti-gay bigotry or push back against the demonization of Muslims.

– – – – – – – – – – – – – – – –

AT THE heart of the Orlando massacre is an uncomfortable reality that most media and political figures won’t examine: The way that toxic bigotry can metastasize into violence, especially in a society with easy access to the most deadly of weapons.

Consider Marco Rubio, the Florida senator and failed contender for the Republican presidential nomination. Rubio grabbed headlines by lamenting that LGBT people were targeted in Orlando “because of the views that exist in the radical Islamic community about the gay community,” as he said on CNN.

Anyone listening to those words might imagine that Rubio cares about the rights of the LGBT community. But he doesn’t. Rubio and any number of other Florida politicians want to restrict LGBT rights–often on the basis of their own fundamentalist religious beliefs, though of the Christian variety.

Not only is Rubio an opponent of same-sex marriage, but he supports a “right” for business to discriminate against LGBT people on the basis of “religious freedom.” He’s called allowing LGBT parents to adopt children “a social experiment.” And Rubio has helped raise funds for the Florida Family Policy Council, a right-wing organization that promotes abusive “reparative therapy” that classifies gay sexuality as a “mental disorder.”

At a time when Republicans in particular have whipped up hysteria about the supposed threat that transgender people pose by using bathroom facilities corresponding to their self-identified genders, any who now claim to be outraged by bigotry against the LGBT community are the rankest kind of hypocrite.

For his part, Barack Obama, said in a press conference following the shooting that it was “an act of hate. And as Americans, we are united in our resolve to defend our people.”

In fact, Omar Mateen was “our people”–an American whose views of LGBT people was irreparably warped by bigotry, whatever inspired it.

At his press conference, Obama warned, “This massacre is…a further reminder of how easy it is for someone to get their hands on a weapon that lets them shoot people in a school or in a house of worship or a movie theater or in a nightclub.”

But Obama won’t question the relentless violence, both extra-judicial and state-sanctioned, directed by American institutions of power against the oppressed at home and around the globe–from dropping bombs abroad to the unrestrained brutality of police and, yes, prison guards like Omar Mateen. That violence is woven into the fabric of U.S. society.

Even if Mateen did commit mass murder in the name of his twisted understanding of Muslim religious doctrine, that is no excuse for accepting the dominant ideology generated by academic and political elites about a “clash of civilizations” between Western societies and those of the Middle East.

Reactionary organizations like ISIS have everything to gain from perpetuating this conflict. In fact, their attacks in Paris last year and Brussels this year did not generally target those who wield power or commit state-sanctioned violence. The attacks engineered by ISIS–and again, there is, as of yet, no evidence of any connection between Mateen and ISIS–are meant to provoke Islamophobia, and ultimately discourage Muslims from hoping for any form of peaceful existence in the West.

There is an alternative to hate and bigotry. In cities across the U.S., from San Francisco to New York and beyond, people turned out on short notice to pay their respects to the victims and consider what can be done now.

In New York City, some 400 gathered at the Stonewall Inn–the historic birthplace of the modern fight for LGBT liberation. Chants broke out of “No hate!” and “Orlando–we got your back!” As one young queer Muslim woman told the crowd: “I see people on the street shouting ‘Kill all the Muslims.’ I came to this country to be safe, and I found safety in this community, in the LGBT community. We need to keep that love. We cannot stop things like this from happening by adding to the hate.”

As Steven Thrasher wrote for the Guardian website: “Terrorism works because it makes people afraid of our fellow human beings. Let us not let terrorism work this time. As our ancestors did not at Stonewall, let us not fall to fear.”

Sean Larson contributed to this article.

Don’t turn homophobia into Islamophobia

 

We are deeply pained and saddened by the atrocities in Orlando. Gay bars and clubs are often places of refuge in a society that scorns, harms and demeans queer folks — and that makes this violence all the more horrific. No doubt, racists are already trying to exploit this tragedy to whip up more violence, more hate, more marginalization. But we won’t stand for it. No to all forms of oppression. No to all right-wing forces that thrive on hate. No to Islamophobia and homophobia. Solidarity.

 

From Kevin Ovenden on Facebook.

The horror in Orlando is an awful reminder of the world we live in and the reality of homophobia.

It is heart-rending to look at the images from Orlando. It is frightening to look at the sordid efforts by racists and fascists to spread further hate even as vicitms hover between life and death. .

I am relieved to see the statement of solidarity and sympathy below rushed out so quickly by friends in LGBT+ Against Islamophobia in Britain.

These atrocities can leave us feeling powerless and scared.

The coming together of our communities, of the LGBT and anti-racist movements, and of the forces of the left which fight all oppression is hugely valuable at this time.

This is an appalling illustration of all that we are up against, but also of the value of all of us who are seeking to confront it – in unity, and with renewed commitment, and in commemoration of those who have been killed.

>>>>>>>>>

STATEMENT ON ORLANDO ATTACKS
From LGBT+ Against Islamophobia 12/06/16

“Our sympathy and solidarity go out to the victims, their families and friends after the horrific attack at an LGBT nightclub in Orlando.

It is a stark reminder that despite the many gains in attitudes and legislation that have been made over the last decades, LGBT+ people continue to face threats of violence and murder.
We do not yet know anything about the attacker. The FBI have been quick to declare the incident ‘terrorist’ and whilst they claim to be pursuing ‘multiple leads’ the only organisation named for ‘possible links’ is ISIS.

We in LGBT+ Against Islamophobia will oppose any attempt to use this atrocity to whip up hatred against Muslims.

For many of us the massacre will bring back memories of the bombing of the Admiral Duncan pub in Soho in 1999, carried out by a British Neo-Nazi. We will be reminded of the dreadful shootings carried out by the self-proclaimed fascist Anders Brevik in Norway in 2011, and numerous gun-related mass killings conducted by white Christians in America.

This should be a time for us all to come together and reject homophobia and transphobia wherever it comes from.

Murderous homophobes, from any religion or none, do not represent entire communities. If we allow ourselves to be divided now we will be weakened in our fight to eradicate oppression – a fight that now more than ever needs to continue.”

ENDS

We stand with Martin Hirst

Martin Hirst

 
They have sacked another Marxist. This time it is Deakin University, and the academic is Martin Hirst, an old friend and comrade (even though we are in different groups.)

Martin posted some twitter comments and a photo which, to put it frankly, I would not have.

According to Amanda Meade in the Guardian:

‘Deakin found that content posted to Hirst’s private Twitter account @ethicalmartini was “offensive and/or disrespectful and/or threatening and had the potential to damage the reputation of the university”.’

The irony of course is that overreacting by sacking staff for what are in my view stupid but not offensive let alone threatening comments itself damages the reputation of the University. So what had Hirst done and said? The Guardian again:

‘The university received a complaint about an exchange on 20 March 2016 in which Hirst said “so are you happy to fail commerce?” to a Deakin University student, Lachlan McDougall, who had insulted his teaching.’

The claim was that Martin was threatening the student with failure. Martin said he didn’t know McDougall was a student at Deakin and it wasn’t a threat. It was a comment on his intelligence. It is also unclear to me how an academic in one School (the School of Communication and Creative Arts) who is not actually teaching the student can threaten the academic progress of that student when they are apparently in another School and Faculty (Commerce or some such.)

Martin also posted a photo on Twitter with the words “fuck it” on a beanie he was wearing. He wrote underneath “Back to work after the Easter break? You need this beanie. I’ve got mine on today, it’s a subtle hint to your boss.”

Martin’s other ‘crime’ was to re-tweet a post from Mark Colvin from the ABC about the very very small size of Andrew Bolt’s audience on the Sky News channel.  Martin wrote: ‘reassuring, masturbating chimps.’

Hirst was already on thin ice. In 2014 The Murdoch Press began attacking him. They used a a photo of Hirst standing beside Marx’s grave in Highgate Cemetery. Martin engaged on twitter about the photo with a troll and, as Melissa Davey in 2014 in the Guardian put it:

‘Hirst adopted a tweet by US actress Kirstie Alley: “… dear stupid as fuck people who just like to be stupid, go be stupid with other stupid people. #stupidfuckcity”.’

Bolt complained to the University and Hirst was suspended without pay for 3 months.

Now he has been sacked. The University took into account his previous 2014 exchanges.

It appears that the University has reacted, again, to not just publicity but a campaign from the most right wing mainstream media organisation in Australia, the Murdoch media. This has implications for all left wing academics. It means that if Murdoch hacks (what more appropriate word to describe the sort of institutional journalism that hacks the phone of a dead girl or lies about the Hillsborough tragedy?) trawl through the personal public accounts (or even blogs) of left wing academics and find some offensive comments those academics can be sacked under the McCarthyite moniker of offensive, or disrespectful,  or threatening, or even the catch all of ‘having the potential to damage the reputation of the University.

As to the latter, the lawyer in me thinks that frankly every action has the potential to damage the reputation of a University, especially if the judge and jury are reactionaries form the Murdoch stable and their cheer squad of right wing nut jobs.

There is a pattern developing here. The Murdoch Press revealed Roz Ward’s Facebook post about the racist Australian flag and La Trobe suspended her before backing down in the face of a strong union and community campaign.

Frist they came for Roz, because of their desire to smash one of the drivers and defenders of the Safe Schools program. We beat them back. Then they came for Martin, and Deakin University has sacked Hirst. Which academic will be next?

We appear to be on the verge of an outbreak of McCarthyism.

I am pretty certain the Murdoch ghouls have been and will be trawling through the Facebook and twitter accounts of other Marxists and leftists to expose them for calling trolls fuckwits or for other ‘crimes.’ These will then be used to call for the employer (University or otherwise) to sack these people for bringing the employer into disrepute. Some leftists jobs will Í think be at stake.

One problem for Universities is that if Hirst’s comments are a sackable offence, what will they do to all the other academics who have posted angry responses in a private capacity and perhaps even a work capacity to right wing nut jobs and others attacking them? I suspect Hirst is not alone in making this type of comment. If so, how does Deakin University propose to enforce its interpretation of its standards and its expectations of appropriate behaviour?

Will some prominent right-wing figure at the University be investigated for his or her non-work comments? Will the University perhaps set up an in-house Un-University Activities Committee to investigate all words and actions that have the potential to damage the reputation of the University? Will it not only rely on Murdoch and other informants but actively investigate the personal lives and views, as captured on public outlets like Facebook and twitter, of its staff? After all if it good enough for Martin, why not apply the same standards to all staff? Having set that standard is it not beholden on Deakin to now begin policing it, with, one can imagine, Orwellian consequences that the University may itself have set in train through sacking Hirst?

I am not for a moment suggesting this happen, just pointing out the dangers that arise from sacking Martin for his comments.  Coming on top of the suspension of Roz Ward at La Trobe for stating what to me is a self-evident truth, that the Australian flag is a symbol of racism, it seems to me that a dark environment is developing at universities.

This dark environment is the consequence of the ongoing and deepening commodification of higher education, a process both major parties have been deeply involved in. When your Grundnorm is profit, ideas which challenge that, however expressed, are a threat to the very essence of the machine that is now the University sector. That machine is destroying the University as the seeming bastion of difference and the dissemination of often currently unconventional and unpopular ideas.

To defend academic freedom we must defend Hirst. His union, the National Tertiary Education Union, has released a statement in support. This must be the first step in building a campaign to stop Deakin University sacking him.

When that campaign gets up and running I urge you to join it. I will provide support details as they become available.

The NTEU is holding a public meeting at La Trobe on free speech (which is part of a wider freedom – academic freedom). I hope this will be part of building the campaign to defend Martin.

 

Historical Note: The History of Taxation is Written in Letters of Blood and Fire

Historical Note: The History of Taxation is Written in Letters of Blood and Fire
 
Tax, war, democracy and rebellion intertwine down the ages. In this paper I introduce readers to the reasons why tax history is important and the concepts underpinning later articles. The four tax history articles that will be published in total over the next four issues (from September 2016 to June 2017) will look at history from the Magna Carta to Australia today through the prism of tax. A key theme is the role ordinary working people (peasants, artisans, workers for example) play in protests against oppressive taxes and how that anger can spark rebellions and revolutions. These rebellions and revolutions often have democracy as their main demand.
 
Passant, John, Historical Note: The History of Taxation is Written in Letters of Blood and Fire, Australasian Accounting, Business and Finance Journal, 10(2), 2016, 93-101.

 

 

 

 

Hillary’s ‘I’m not Trump’ campaign

Hillary Clinton on the campaign trail in Arizona (Gage Skidmore)

The June 7 primaries finally settled the Democratic nomination race, but Elizabeth Schulte in Socialist Worker US explains why the outlines of the general election are already well in focus.

HILLARY CLINTON did well in the final major day of the Democratic presidential primaries, winning all but one state, though the outcome in California, the biggest contest of the whole season, was still in doubt as this article was published.

Even if Clinton were to lose California to Bernie Sanders, she will get enough delegates from the June 7 primaries to reach the 2,383 threshold–a majority at the party’s nominating convention in July–with only delegates awarded based on the outcome of primaries.

Sanders, whose left-wing campaign surpassed all expectations and inspired huge numbers of people, has promised to continue his campaign, possibly through the convention. But on election night, there were signs–including reports of a Thursday meeting between Sanders and Barack Obama, scheduled at Sanders’ request–that he might relent and concede.

Either way, though, the Associated Press (AP) wasn’t waiting around.

On Monday night–with hours to go before polling places opened on the day with the second-largest number of Democratic delegates at stake–the news service announced that Clinton had enough pledged delegates plus “superdelegates” supporting her to have a lock on the nomination.

AP based its findings on a survey of the superdelegates–the party’s high-level officials, officeholders and operatives who get a vote at the convention just for being Very Important. Clinton has been piling up superdelegate support since long before the first primary. The 571st to promise to vote for Clinton at the convention put her over the top, according to AP.

So voters who took a look at the New York Times before they went to the polls were treated to a front-page banner headline broadcasting Clinton’s “historic” achievement – of winning the election they had yet to vote in.

If they voted at all. On election night, analysts speculated, based on still-incomplete returns, that turnout in the Democratic contests may have fallen compared to other states, probably because of the AP projection.

In California, Long Beach resident Arie Gonzalez told the Los Angeles Times, “It’s like, why vote?…I can’t believe Democrats have all these superdelegates and that we vote consistently always with Iowa first and California has no voice by the time it comes down to it. We’re a tenth of the population. It’s ridiculous.”

In fact, the media were merely ratifying what Hillary Clinton’s supporters have been preaching for months–more and more frantically when their candidate kept losing to Sanders, who was harangued endlessly about the need to shut up so Democrats could “unify.”

“It’s time to stand behind our presumptive candidate,” Michael Brown, a superdelegate from Washington, D.C., who came forward in the past week to back Clinton before the District’s June 14 primary, told the AP. “We shouldn’t be acting like we are undecided when the people of America have spoken.”

Except that quite a few “people of America” didn’t speak. As the Intercept commented, it was a fitting end to a race where party leaders and prominent liberals relied on their control of the party and media apparatus to steer the nomination to their choice: “Anonymous Superdelegates Declare Winner Through Media.”

– – – – – – – – – – – – – – – –

THE PREEMPTING of the actual vote by superdelegate math overshadowed coverage of the wave of enthusiasm that Sanders rode going into the final big primaries. In California, a campaign event in Oakland drew 20,000 people, and another in LA turned out 13,500, despite being moved to a different venue at the last minute.

This has been the story since the start of the campaign. From the moment he said he would run for the Democratic nomination, Sanders, the self-declared socialist, drew crowds eager to hear a candidate who talked about taking on corporate greed, challenging the corruption of the U.S. political system and putting working people ahead of Wall Street profits.

Suddenly, Clinton–a fixture of the Democratic Party establishment since before her husband occupied the White House and the presumptive nominee in 2016 since just after Barack Obama won re-election in 2012–had a fight on her hands against a candidate who connected with the disgust with the status quo felt by millions.

All along, Clinton was looking forward to the general election campaign against whatever right-wing monster the Republicans nominated–and when it turned out to be Donald Trump, Christmas came early in Clinton-land. It’s a lot easier for Hillary Clinton to convince people she’s the right choice against a billionaire reality TV star than a serious left-wing challenger.

That’s why, since mid-April, when it became clear that–thanks to the superdelegates, at least–Clinton would stave off the Sanders challenge, she’s all but ignored Sanders, focusing instead on Trump in her stump speeches and public appearances. While most people can barely stand to look at Trump, Clinton can’t wait to put him in an even brighter spotlight.

She could do this, of course, because she knew that the Democratic establishment and a corporate media loyal to the status quo wouldn’t ignore Sanders–that they would keep up the shrill chorus demanding that Sanders be reasonable and surrender.

– – – – – – – – – – – – – – – –

A CLINTON-Trump match-up gives Clinton the opportunity to camp out on the turf where she’s comfortable–the so-called middle ground, as defined by the Washington consensus. Clinton’s ideological territory is located to the left of Trump’s on most, though not all, issues–but it’s quite a hike from where Sanders made his left-wing stand.

We got a preview of the general election “debate” to come with Hillary Clinton’s celebrated speech on foreign policy last week. Most of the corporate media lapped it up, declaring that it showed her command of the issues, compared to Trump. But the only thing Clinton’s speech demonstrated was her ability to land one-liners about a way-too-easy target.

“This is not someone who should ever have the nuclear codes,” Clinton warned of Trump, “because it’s not hard to imagine Donald Trump leading us into a war just because somebody got under his very thin skin.”

But what she didn’t talk so much about is where Hillary Clinton stands on foreign policy issues–and for good reason. If she did, it might seem less like Clinton is fighting the right, and more like she’s a part of it.

As secretary of state, Clinton supported the coup-makers in Honduras who overthrew democratically elected President Manuel Zelaya; the deadly 2009 troop surge in Afghanistan; and the Obama administration’s escalation of drone welfare. She used her position to travel the world convincing governments to start fracking for natural gas and oil, among other priorities of Corporate America.

Clinton says she’s ready to stand up to Trump and his agenda, but when ordinary people do just that with actions, not just words, she’s on the other side.

When immigrant rights protesters and others mobilized in San Diego and San Jose to protest Trump’s message of bigotry and hate, the media trained their cameras on a handful of altercations. There was little mention of rabid Trump supporters heaping racist abuse on demonstrators, calling them “gang members”–and usually none at all of the overreaction of armed-to-the-teeth local police.

And true to form, both Clinton and Barack Obama chastised protesters. “It is very important for us to remind ourselves of who we are and what is best about American democracy, and not slip into some of the bad habits that currently manifest themselves in the other party,” Obama said at a private DNC fundraising event in Miami.

According to the Democrats’ logic, opposing Trump is Clinton’s job, not people in the streets. So the immigrant rights supporters who turned out in large numbers in San Jose when Trump descended on their multiracial city are supposed to rely on Clinton, who voted for strengthening the U.S. border with Mexico, to take on Trump and his plans to build a border wall.

No way. The people who have mobilized to challenge Trump in several cities are showing that there’s another way to confront bigotry and reaction than waiting for a Democrat to stand up for justice–only to see them fold.

– – – – – – – – – – – – – – – –

THE MESSAGE to the Democratic Party’s more liberal voting base is already clear: Sure, you may have some criticisms of Hillary Clinton, and you may have liked what Bernie Sanders had to say–but it’s time to get real and start helping ensure the victory of the “lesser evil” in order to stop the “greater evil.”

But everything about Clinton’s political career is further evidence that voting for the “lesser evil” leads to evils of both kinds.

Take the issue of immigration, where Trump’s open bigotry is, indeed, frightening. The truth, though, is that Barack Obama campaigned for president in 2008 promising that he would stop the Republicans from carrying out their reactionary enforcement-only immigration policies. But in office, he’s adopted many of the right’s proposals, while failing to fight for better measures in legislation. Now, with less than a year in office, he’s deported more people than any president in history.

During the coming campaign, the liberal organizations and political figures will ask us to forget all that and vote for the Democrats anyway. They’ll make the appeal to the party’s liberal base that Clinton stumbled so badly in making during the primaries.

And the time is coming soon when Bernie Sanders will join those voices. When he finally concedes that he’s lost the nomination–probably sooner rather than later–he will do what he’s promised all along and urge his supporters to support one of the prime symbols of the status quo that he called on them to rebel against.

Clinton, meanwhile, will make the Democratic presidential nominee’s time-honored “move to the center”–though after a primary where she turned into the “No we can’t” candidate on health care, college tuition and more, she doesn’t have far to go.

Clinton will take the support of liberals and progressives for granted, and start concocting strategies to win over moderate and conservative “swing voters.” So get ready for more speeches like her foreign policy address where it’s hard to see what distinguishes her from a more mainstream Republican than Trump.

But this campaign strategy might not work out so smoothly. Clinton is sending her stick-with-me-America-is-already-great message to a population of working people whose lives are far from great, and getting even less so all the time.

A recent poll by the NORC Center for Public Affairs Research illustrates growing dissatisfaction with the political process and the two political parties. The May study of registered voters, Republicans and Democrats, showed that 90 percent lack confidence in the U.S. political system. Some 40 percent said it was “seriously broken.”

“The views of ordinary voters are not considered by either party, according to most Americans,” the study stated. “Fourteen percent say the Democratic Party is responsive to the views of the rank-and-file; 8 percent report that about the Republican Party.”

But as Fairness and Accuracy in Reporting pointed out, the corporate media didn’t report on this poll. They were too busy conducting a survey of anonymous superdelegates so they could tell primary voters that Clinton was already the winner, so they don’t need to bother.

This exposes the gap between what the Democrats are offering and what the people who are expected to vote for them want. Supporting Hillary Clinton won’t close that gap. We need to start organizing for an alternative–in politics and in all the protest movements throughout society–that can.

Feminists like Turnbull and refugee women on Nauru

 

Malcolm Turnbull is a feminist. Don’t laugh. It must be true. He told us he was.

So if he is really a  feminist why is he locking up innocent women and girls on Nauru and Manus Island and subjecting them to rape, torture and other abuses?

Bring them here. Let them stay.  That is what a feminist would do.

To read the report by Wendy Bacon, Pamela Curr,Carmen Lawrence, Julie Macken and Claire O’Connor on Women at Risk on Nauru click here Protection Denied Abuse Condoned