Monday, December 31, 2007

A little basic history for U.S. Progressives About Pakistan by Norman Markowitz

Presidential candidates are talking vaguely about the crisis in Pakistan and the TV stations and the press are busy reporting on the crisis, and murder of Benazir Bhutto, who did it and why. Everybody knows that General Musharraf is a military dictator. The politicians and the media keep on saying that the U.S. is for "democracy" but this must be weighed against the dangers from "Islamic terrorists" who control substantial territories in the Pakistan-Afghanistan border areas. And the discussion goes round and round, even though most Americans and all of the major political candidates (in terms of what they are saying at least) really don't know anything about Pakistan, South Asia, or for that matter what the U.S. has been doing there since the 1950s.

First Pakistan today. It is one of the poorest and most backward countries in the world. According to statistics that U.S. politicians and mass media are uninterested in, nearly 50% of its male population and nearly 75% of its female population are illiterate.

Child labor is very widespread, heroin addiction, a legacy of the last military dictator, General Zia's alliance with Ronald Reagan in the war in Afghanistan in the 1980s, is very widespread, and a subculture of violence, with large number of people owning weapons permeates the society. By all standards, it is far more backward than the India of of which it was carved in the late l940s, an India which is is a parliamentary democracy and, with all of its huge problems, including poverty, has made great strides in education and general social economic development.

Pakistan is also a theocratic state in that Islam is the state religion and while their may be ostensible "religious freedom" for non-Muslims, the significant non Muslim population that existed in the late 1940s when Pakistan was carved out of majority Muslim regions by the initiative of the Muslim League of India, with the support of the British empire, which was withdrawing from India after three centuries of colonial rule

Why did Pakistan come into existence? The idea of a Muslim homeland on Indian soil only came into existence after WWI and had very limited early support among Indian Muslims. The idea was also subject to many interpretations--an autonomous or semi-autonomous area for Muslims in a larger India, a pan Islamic state or empire that would include both Indian Muslims and Muslims from regions bordering India, a separate Muslim state.

British colonialism had long played the large Muslim minority against the Hindu majority and other Indian communities, defining its "mission" in India as one of "protecting" the Hindu and Muslim communities and the "princely" (feudal) states. The radicalizing influence of Mohandas K. Ghandi and the anti-colonial mass movement he led on the Indian National Congress, and the influence of Marxist and Communist activists and movements in India became a major problem for the British colonialists, who often found it useful to favor and work with the more conservative Muslim League, led by North Indian landlord interests, which claimed to represent the interests of India's Muslim minority.

Further radicalization of the Indian masses in the 1930s, the emergence of Gandhi's colleague, Nehru, as a major political leader of the Indian National Congress with a commitment to a secular, independent, and socialist oriented India. created even greater problems for both the British colonial authorities and the Muslim League, who in local elections in the late 1930s (the most significant elections to that point in the long history of British colonial rule) did very poorly among Indian Muslims.

It was at this point, with the movement for an independent India ascending and left forces ascending with it that the Muslim League began to seriously contemplate a Muslim homeland or Pakistan, meaning literally "land of the pure" in order to maintain its power in the country, both with British authorities and with the Muslim population. In 1940, for the first time, the Muslim League at its Lahore Conference, formally committed itself to establishing "Pakistan" although what this meant remained unclear and many scholars believe that the League was attempting to gain concessions from the British colonial authorities as Britain had its back to the wall in 1940 in its war against Nazi Germany.

Muslim League support for the British war effort during the war along with the Indian National Congress's refusal to grant support unless Britain commit itself to "quit India" led the British to arrest the leadership of the Indian National Congress and intensify its alliance with the Muslim League, undermining attempts to establish a post colonial united India.

In 1946, Mohammad Ali Jinnah, longtime leader of the Muslim League whose political career had taken many twists and turns, committed fully himself to a separatist Muslim state on Indian soil and stimulated widespread ethnic religious violence by calling for a national day of "direct action" to advance that goal. The violence then became a sort of pretext for British support for partition, which Gandhi, Nehru, and the Indian National Congress actively opposed but could do nothing to prevent if they were to gain British withdrawal and an independent India. Lord Mountbatten, the last British Viceroy, declared both the Independence and the Partition in 1947, as the British withdrew in ways that greatly intensified ethnic religious violence as millions of people fled the homes and villages that their families had lived in for centuries to go to either India or Pakistan.

The partition was in many respects British colonialism's final insult to the people of India. There was never a referendum as such on whether or not to divide the country. Areas became part of India or Pakistan depending on the majority ethnic religious composition of the area, not necessarily the will of the people. In some provinces, feudal rulers chose. Pakistan until 1971 was divided into West Pakistan and East Pakistan, the latter a region separated from the rest of Pakistan by a thousand miles of Indian territory with a heavily Bengali population which faced extensive discrimination at the hands of the Pakistani central government.

The British empire had obviously hoped to use Pakistan as an ally for its larger imperial interests in the region, as against socialist oriented India. Under the rubric and guise of defending the "free world" in fighting the cold war, the U.S. absorbed the British empire and everyone else's empire. India became a leader of the non-aligned nations in the 1950s. continued to be socialist oriented under Nehru, and developed good relations with the Soviet Union. Pakistan developed what has essentially been a military junta state, the kind of state that the U.S. long supported in Latin America, in which political parties and elections do exist from time to time but are routinely suspended when the "wrong" parties and leaders appear to have a chance to win.

Since Pakistan loyally supported every cold war alliance system the U.S. and Britain created in the region, repressed workers and left organizations on its own territory, it became a "free world" ally of the U.S. who either ignored or praised its string of military dictators, who, in the Latin American tradition, became somewhat more "liberal" or somewhat more "conservative," depending on who was in power in Washington.

In 1971, after the military ruler General Yahya Khan canceled elections that had produced an overwhelming defeat for him and the Muslim League in East Pakistan and arrested the leaders of the victorious party, a popular uprising in East Pakistan was savagely repressed by the Pakistani army (although the numbers are subject to debate some figures go as high as 1.5 million) until Indian intervention led to the surrender of the Pakistani army and Independence for East Pakistan, which is Bangladesh today. In the aftermath, a non Muslim League parliamentary government was formed by Benazir Bhutto's father, a centrist politician who improved relations with the Soviet Union and other socialist countries and undertook some limited reforms but continued to identify himself with Pakistani nationalism against India.

He was overthrown and executed by General Zia, a tyrant whose limited support, even among the traditional reactionary landlord class which had always been the central force within the Muslim League, led him both to turn to extreme clerical elements for support, brutally repress domestic opposition and, through his support of right-wing Muslim guerrillas in Afghanistan in alliance with the Reagan administration and the Central Intelligence Agency, help set the stage for the eventual establishment of Al Qaeda and the Taliban government in Afghanistan.

Benazir Bhutto became Prime Minister after Zia's death in a mysterious plane crash at the end of the 1980s, failed to seriously address the economic and social problems of the people, was defeated in elections and then brought to power once more after her Muslim League opponents failed in their policies. General Musharraf established a military dictatorship at the end of the 1990s in the country and remains, in effect, military dictator, as U.S. media and politicians talk about scheduled elections in Pakistan (Pakistan has had all kinds of elections over the years, but elections have been stolen, canceled, or simply declared null and void when the dominant allied factions of the Muslim League and military didn't approve of the results).

Progressives should know this about Benazir Bhutto. Although her death is tragic and, a little bit like a centrist Democratic party politician in the U.S. she was a lesser of two evils as against Musharaff, she did not seek any real resolution of the conflict with India while she was Prime Minister and in her second government gave de facto support and recognition, from my reading, to the Taliban regime in Afghanistan, as part of its anti-Indian policies. The Bush administration and its Dr. Strangelove "neocon" advisors probably wanted to see some Bhutto-Musharraf coalition take shape, since Bhutto was in no way an opponent of U.S. imperialism in the region.

Continued support for Musharraf and the reactionary ruling groups in Pakistan strengthens Al Quada and the Taliban forces in the region and intensifies the misery of the people of Pakistan. Denial that Pakistan and India were part of the same national community and that there must be a larger policy of reconciliation and development for all of South Asia, the three states that represent what was once India, has been a hall mark of U.S. imperialist policy. A progressive U.S. policy for the region, one that works for and builds peace, must begin by withdrawing its military support for Pakistan, its adventures in Kashmir and other places against India, and making regional cooperation and disarmament, including nuclear disarmament the centerpiece of its policy

Norman Markowitz

Tale of Two Economies

The unfolding crisis in imperialist finance has the potential of plunging the world into unprecedented economic, political and social turmoil.

read more | digg story

Saturday, December 29, 2007

Benazir Bhutto and the Bush Admin.'s False Choice

From an op-ed by Bhutto for WaPo last March:

When the United States aligns with dictatorships and totalitarian regimes, it compromises the basic democratic principles of its foundation -- namely, life, liberty and justice for all. Dictatorships such as Musharraf's suppress individual rights and freedoms and empower the most extreme elements of society. Oppressed citizens, unable to represent themselves through other means, often turn to extremism and religious fundamentalism.

Restoring democracy through free, fair, transparent and internationally supervised elections is the only way to return Pakistan to civilization and marginalize the extremists. A democratic Pakistan, free from the yoke of military dictatorship, would cease to be a breeding ground for international terrorism.

Read the rest...


Thomas Riggins

Paul Krugman's article in the NYT on 12/28/07 raises some interesting points. Briefly:

It seems that globalization's international trade policies benefit billions of people around the world and helps third world workers improve their incomes. At the same time it "reduces the real wages of many and perhaps most workers in this country [the US]."

Free trade can make a country as a whole richer but not necessarily all the different groups within a country. In other words, it benefits one class at the expense of another, or even parts of one class as opposed to another. The capitalists and highly skilled educated workers in the US benefit but low skilled and less educated workers do not.

How can American wage workers compete with workers in Mexico who are paid 11% of the average American wage, or China at 3.5%? Capitalism is obviously going to favor relocation to low wage areas whatever pro labor American politicians have to say.

Is protectionism the answer? Marxists are internationalists and US Marxists would not want to be put in the position of denying opportunity to foreign workers on a nationalist basis. Krugman says "keeping world markets relatively open is crucial to the hopes of billions of people."

Yet American workers are clearly suffering. "The highly educated workers who clearly benefit from growing trade with third-world economies are a minority, greatly outnumbered by those who probably lose."

Krugmen thinks the best solution is "strengthening the social safety net."
It is clear that as long as the American working class does not have its own political party it will be subject to the dictates of the two major parties of capitalism which alternate in political power in the US.

The first step is to convince the American people of the absolute class hostility of the Republican party towards their interests. The 2008 election can be a milestone if the Republican anti-labor and pro-war policies are completely repudiated. This would give the progressive forces the breathing room necessary to push the Democrats leftward and to plan more advanced strategies for the future.

Thursday, December 27, 2007

The Murder of Bhutto and "Charlie Wilson's War" by Norman Markowitz

I had written an angry satirical article about the new film Charlie Wilson's War, which I have not seen yet, except for extensive excerpts on a History Channel documentary, which purported to be the "real" story of the late Charlie Wilson, and had him chortling "I love it" as the rightwing Muslim guerrillas whom he and the Reagan administration massively funded through Pakistan and hailed as "freedom fighters" were about to triumph over the "evil Soviet empire."

I was advised to keep my review on tap until I had seen the film, which is reasonable advice, even though I doubt that my original title, Springtime for Charlie Wilson: From the People who Gave You the World Trade Center, will change that much, since the film appears to be a send-up of Charlie and his fun loving good ole boy and good ole girl buddies hustling politicians and funny CIA men into "winning the cold war in Afghanistan( a few of the reviews do mention that the film does suggest that Charlie's "freedom fighters" later became something of a problem as terrorists but that this doesn't really change the great fun of the film, it clever satire and cool put downs of everything and everyone.

/ /

Benazir Bhutto was murdered in Pakistan yesterday and the murder, as I see it, has a direct relationship to the war in Afghanistan in the 1980s, the subject of "Charlie Wilson's War," which was no comedy.

Afghanistan's history from the late 1970s to the present is very complicated. The country itself was one of the poorest in the world, divided along ethnic "tribal lines" and long a battleground among great powers (in the nineteenth century the British and Czarist Russian Empires).

Afghanistan bordered the Soviet Union and ethnic groups who also were part of the Soviet Union were minority populations in Afghanistan. The Soviets had helped to educate a significant number of Afghanis and an influential Communist party existed in the city of Kabul. Feudal and pre feudal nomadic elites were predominant in much of the country and the Muslim religion was the primary unifying force.

Afghani Communists in effect took power in Kabul in 1978, faced both with threats from the newly established brutal military dictatorship in Pakistan, and also hoping to advance a social revolution, bringing mass education, land reform, and other vital social reforms to the people. The Pakistani military dictator, General Zia, had public ally executed Muhammad Ali Bhutto, the civilian Prime Minister whom he overthrew (father of Benizar Bhutto). Zia wasn't the first Pakistani military dictator but he was the worst. His regime turned more and more to rightist clerical elements as a base of support and also worked with Saudis to establish rightwing religious primary schools in a country where large sections of the population, including a large majority of the female population, were totally illiterate

Afghani Communists tragically were unable to achieve the unity that is a prerequisite for all Communist parties everywhere—they were divided into rival factions, which fought each other fiercely over policy. Along with important gains, there were disastrous errors in seeking to advance the revolution into the countryside, great ineptitude in the land reform policy among cadre with a limited understanding of agriculture and an aggressive self –defeating anti-clericalism in response to the clerical opposition to the revolution.

With the Pakistani military dictatorship under General Zia aiding right-wing Muslin guerrillas, National Security advisor Zbigniew Brzezinski in effect defeated Secretary of State Cyrus Vance and gained President Jimmy Carter's support to use the CIA to provide aid to the guerrillas. Brzezinski saw this aid as creating an "Afghan trap" for the Soviets, manipulating them into a military intervention which, he hoped, would be their "Vietnam."

The Soviets did intervene at the end of 1979 to both save the Kabul government, an ally, and advance a social revolution against fiercely reactionary clerically based forces. For the Soviets, the intervention was both a protection of their own borders and also a re-assertion of "proletarian internationalism" aid to be people seeking to make a social revolution against the forces of internal reaction and foreign imperialism.

CIA aid to the Afghan "freedom fighters was picking up under the Reagan administration, which used the advertising term "Evil Empire," before the real Charlie Wilson got into the act, although Charlie did play the role of a political fixer, using his position on the House Intelligence Committee to get more and more money and military aid to the "freedom fighters" while he ran around Afghanistan for many colorful photo ops. Wilson liked to take credit for getting the "freedom fighters" aka terrorists the hand held Stinger missiles to shoot down Soviet aircraft (which, by the way were and still may be around in Taliban hands) as did Brezinski before the September 11 attacks but in reality the Reagan administration and the CIA deserve the lion's share of the "credit" for the "victory" in Afghanistan that led to both Al Qaeda and the Taliban and the present "war against terrorism."

There were large numbers of refugees created by the Afghan war and great atrocities, as there virtually are in all modern wars. In the U.S. and capitalist media, the Soviets were blamed for these atrocities and large sections of the Euro-American left pretty much went along with the view that this was a battle between David and Goliath in which the social issues were unimportant compared to the Soviet "bad guys and the Afghan
"anti-imperialist" good guys.

Indian media particularly along with other non Soviet sources emphasized the fanaticism and crimes committed by the guerillas, the atrocities that they committed against Soviet military personnel, their families, and those Afghani people whom they saw as collaborators—women seeking to go to schools that the Communist government had established, people seeking to free themselves from the domination of CIA supported gunmen who might beat them brutally if their beards weren't long enough.

While the real Charlie Wilson was running around shucking and jiving with U.S. Congressmen, General Zia, and Afghan "mujahedeen," the CIA was recruiting tens of thousands of foreign fighters from Muslim countries and training them in the Afghan-Pakistan border areas to attack Afghanistan. Money for this war was not only raised from the U.S. appropriations but from Heroin traffic that led Pakistan in the 1990s to have the highest per capita number of Heroin addicts in the world. Benizar Bhutto became Prime Minister briefly after General Zia's death and the restoration of civilian rule. She returned as Prime Minister in the mid 1990s, only to be overthrown by the present military dictator, General Musharaff. The people of Pakistan less directly than the people of Afghanistan but more so than any other people, suffered from the counter-revolutionary guerrilla war that Reagan and Zia carried forward against Afghanistan.

As Mikhail Gorbachev began a policy of withdrawal from Afghanistan in the late 1980s, Al Qaeda or the Base was founded in 1988 under the leadership of Osama bin Laden, leader of the Saudi Arabian contingent of fighters, scion of one of the wealthiest capitalist families in the region, and both fund-raiser and major logistical man for the guerrillas, much admired at the time by the CIA with whom he had worked for many years.

The Communist led government in Kabul was eventually destroyed. In Afghanistan, a warlord terror regime was followed by the ultra-right clerical Taliban regime, whose attempts to terrorize its own people into accepting universal female illiteracy, the primacy of a literalist interpretation of religious law and misery and poverty in this life as a necessity for the next shocked the people throughout the world.

With the dismemberment of the Soviet Union, Osama bin Laden, who regardless of his CIA friends, had long seen the U.S. and the "West" as both a sink of sin and a legion of Christian Crusaders and Jewish Zionists seeking to conquer Islam, substituted the U.S. for the Soviet Union as his main enemy, and, setting himself up in Afghanistan with the wholehearted support of the Taliban government that he and the CIA had largely created, began to launch the attacks that led eventually to the destruction of the World Trade Center.

By then, the CIA was much more interested in covering up its long term relationship with bin Laden than really doing much about him, its Pakistani intelligence "allies" were heavily compromised and infiltrated with Al Qaeda and Taliban supporters, and bin Laden family money was around so that U.S, authorities weren't that keen on investigating the activities of the bin Laden black sheep Osama.

Today, Al Qaeda and Taliban forces attack the U.S. backed government in Afghanistan from the base areas that the CIA and the Pakistani ISI used to attack the Soviet supported Communist government over twenty years ago, Benizar Bhutto, the former Prime Minister, has been murdered under the regime of the present military dictator, who imprisoned and held her husband in jail for years without formal charges, along with many other opponents of the dictatorship, just as her father was in effect murdered by the previous military dictator. And of course, Pakistan does have "weapons of mass destruction," nuclear weapons which it has developed as part of its ongoing conflict with India

I said at the beginning that I wasn't going to write a review of "Charlie Wilson's War" until I see the film, but I think this final comment on its advertising is merited. In the commercials for the film on television, a narrator says with a straight face without Charlie Wilson "history would have been sadly different." Different perhaps, but unless one is a sadist a masochist, or a reactionary "internationalist" who loves war and destruction for the hell of it, whether it is the destruction of the World Trade Center or the invasion of Iraq, not happily, not sadly, different.

Norman Markowitz

Wednesday, December 26, 2007

2007 Congressional Victories

Contained in the budget bill recently passed out of Congress were some small but important gains in health care funds, especially for women, veterans, and low-income working families.

These groups have seen federal funding for needed programs that affect them starved, slashed and cut and ignored by the previous Republican Congress and President Bush year after year.

But in a signal that electing a new Congress can shift political power away from the right and see benefits for working people, the recent omnibus bill contains much-needed new funding for programs.

The bill adds new funds to Title X family planning programs and eliminate funds for disastrous and wasteful abstinence-only programs. These Title X services provide millions of low-income patients in with such health needs as contraceptive services; breast and cervical cancer screening; sexually transmitted infection (including HIV) prevention, testing and education; and related counseling services.

The bill funds S-CHIP through 2008, but, because of repeated Bush vetoes, Congress could not provide a basis for expanding and reauthorizing the program to cover more children who lack health insurance.

Billions have been added for the first time to provide for veterans health (including mental health) needs. as well as job and education benefits. Under Bush services have been ignored: see Walter Reed Army Hospital and waiting lines for six months at most veterans health care facilities as only one example.

Most social programs that benefits working families such as subsidies for home heating costs in the winter or food distribution to poor seniors, Head Start, and more received new funding or reauthorization.

Now I know there are some people on the left who will say none of this matters because the Democrats didn't end the war. Well I think that is wrong. I think the Democrats can be criticized for failing to force some change in US policy toward Iraq.

But to say these other issues – with that one could include the push for universal health care, union rights, and civil rights protections, or raising the minimum wage, expanding access to college entrance by reducing the cost of student loans, etc. – are less important is simply wrong.

Who is it that doesn't need to have their home heating costs subsidized, or to have the benefit of a higher minimum wage, or who cares nothing for health services that directly benefit women, or who is it that really has no need for protecting the right to organize a union, or who is it that has never really thought much about the value of Head Start? Who is it that is privileged enough to say, "Civil rights protections – whether gay rights, reproductive rights, affirmative action, immigrant rights – are so less important."

I think these things are important – earth-shatteringly important. And the point is that a serious change in the presidency and the make-up of Congress (and subsequent make-up of the courts) will see a real transformation both in how working families are able to live their lives and in the political terrain on which we can fight for social transformation on a greater scale.

This is the essence of the real victories that congressional Democrats, led by Speaker Nancy Pelosi really more than anyone else, have been hammering out over the las few months. One might even say she picked up a reluctant House and an even more reluctant Senate and carried them on her back as far as she could.

Now it is up to the rest of us to give her the tools, the mandate, the overwhelming political victory in November 2008 that includes an increased number of progressives, a stronger Democratic majority in both House, and the presidency to not only complete the agenda of the New Direction Congress but to win the right of working people to join and organize unions, to win universal health care, to end the war in Iraq, and to protect and strengthen key social institutions like public education, Social Security, Medicare. This is a stepping stone from which working families united with an all-people's coalition will really change our country.

Tuesday, December 25, 2007

A Little More on Barry G and the Mothers of Reaction

My esteemed fellow editor Tom Riggins excellent In Your Guts You Know He was and is Nuts article on sentimental memories of Barry Goldwater got me to think about some serious and not so serious questions.

First the the left and the great majority of people in the political center do owe Barry a debt of gratitude. His 1964 presidential campaign led to an overwhelming victory for the Democrats, particularly the Northern liberal labor Democrats, broke the power of the conservative coalition to veto legislation in Congress (a power that they had gained when they stalemated the New Deal after the 1938 elections) and made possible legislation like Medicare, Medicaid, the Voting Rights Act, the creation of the Department of Housing and Urban Development, serious federal aid to education, the first national environmental protection legislation, and other programs under the rubric of the "Great Society" which Lyndon Johnson proclaimed to be the goal of his administration in the spring of 1964, a "Great Society "whose major military endeavor would be to fight a an "unconditional" domestic war against poverty.

Barry helped make all of this possible by denouncing the TVA in Tennessee, Social Security which he dreamed of privatizing in Florida, and in general associating himself with expanding the war in Vietnam, possibly giving field commanders the "right" to use "tactical nuclear weapons" without Washington's authorization, and in general making what was the greatest political commercial ever used in a presidential election by the Democrats, the little girl in the field as the nuclear countdown began, something that tens of millions of Americans saw as a real possibility. we should remember that this contemporary "founding father" of the ultra-right once said that we could end the cold war by lobbing a hand grenade into the men's room at the Kremlin (if he meant this as a joke, he said it too soon after the Cuban Missile Crisis for anyone in his or her right mind to take it as a joke)

Would that the GOP, now that they have fully embraced Barry's philosophy and added fundamentalist theology(which to be fair to him Barry never espoused) would run a candidate in Barry's image in 2008, a candidate who would call for repeal of the minimum wage laws and the establishment of federal "right to work" legislation as a way to deal with the economic crisis, turn the FTC, SEC, and FCC into faith based voluntary agencies, and give the Department of Homeland Security the right to use tactical nuclear weapons to fight terrorism in the United States. That would truly honor Barry's memory by making his and the right wing Republican defeat in 1964 look like a victory compared to the political carnage that they would face in 2008.

There are a few serious points (not so much about Barry but about the policies that led to the establishment of right-wing political power in the 1980s) that should be raised if one is to understand why Barry is today seen, at least compared to Bush W and Ronald Reagan, as a lesser of evils.

Lyndon Johnson squandered the enormous victory that Barry's campaign gave him by escalating the Vietnam War, which Barry had promised to do and he had promised not to do, compromising his Great Society program, dividing his party, and enabling the Republicans to regroup around "law and order" themes and develop the "Southern strategy" that turned the segregationist white supremacy Democratic "solid South" into the present post segregation Republican "solid South." Richard Nixon carried forward these strategies, Ronald Reagan perfected and consolidated them in not only reviving the conservative coalition but giving the ultra-right virtual hegemony in that coalition (which with the addition of the "new" fundamentalist religious right became a political machine with rightwing churches becoming de facto political clubs) and Bush W has led this ultra right political machine which controls the Republican party into far reaching disasters for the American people and the people of the world.

Given subsequent events (let us raise the serious question of historical relativism) one can cherry pick from Barry's career and see him, given his ability at times to put down his sword and support the Bill of Rights and his keeping the fundamentalist religious right at arms length, as better than those that are currently in power, just as some sophist scholars pasted together some of Richard Nixon's domestic economic policies to see him as "the last liberal" president of the U.S (an interpretation which in the Hell that he is surely in if there is an afterlife, he would deny to the devil, tapes or no tapes).

The only way to ensure an end to the the now nearly forty year vicious cycle of reaction, Democratic Party appeasement of reaction, and further reaction that makes the reactionaries of the past look better than the reactionaries of the present, is to have the political equivalent of a real "New Deal," to create a new political alignment that will advance labor, progressive civil rights and civil liberties programs, dismantling the Military Industrial Complex at least as much as the Goldwater-Nixon-Reagan-Bush HW and Bush W forces dismantled the old New Deal nad the never consolidated great society programs.

The only way to accomplish that is to strengthen and advance peoples movements in the next year to the point that even Hillary Clinton, who was a Goldwater girl in 1964 (as the daughter of a wealthy reactionary Illinois businessman that wasn't so remarkable) and the present front runner for the Democratic presidential nomination, will have little choice but to advance such a program.

Norman Markowitz

P.S. Barry, for me, did have one shining moment which, in the ecumenical spirit, deserves to me remembered on this Christmas day. He was once denied membership in an exclusive Arizona Country Club because his father had been born Jewish (what ingrates, after everything that Barry, who was raised an Episcopalian, had done for the class that belongs to country clubs). Barry lifted a line from Groucho Marx(the only "Marxist" he ever knew about) and said that since he was only half Jewish, would they let him play nine holes of golf!


by Thomas Riggins

Princeton University has reissued, as a "classic" Barry Goldwater's 1960 book "The Conscience of a Conservative." This book was BG's ideological basis for his 1964 run for president-- one of the biggest crushes ever for the Republican Party. But it laid the basis for the new ultra-right Republican Party that gave us Bush in 2000 (without the benefit of actually having to win an election.)

Here are a few quotes from the book. "Conservatism, we are told, is out of date. The charge is preposterous and we ought boldly to say so. The laws of God, and of nature, have no dateline." Not only is God a conservative, but nature herself has a soft spot for the Republicans.

BG, basing himself on God and nature, was able to conclude that not only did the Almighty dislike welfare, he was also opposed to racial integration. "Every man, for his individual good and for the good of his society, is responsible for his OWN development." Welfare "transforms the individual from a dignified, industrious, self-reliant SPIRITUAL being into a dependent animal creature without his knowing it." The bulk of welfare was going to poor children (little animals) it should be noted.

Interestingly, BG also maintained that "Throughout history, government has proved to be the chief instrument for thwarting man's liberty." These quotes, and what follows, come from, or is based upon, Thomas Sugrue's review in The London Review of Books for 3 January 2008. Not all of the views expressed are his.

What is of note about this bluster on welfare and the government, is the fact BG's backward and underdeveloped little Sun State was built up and developed by Federal subsidies, tax rebates and all other forms of corporate welfare and government assistance.

Sugrue points out that dams and power plants, housing developments, highways, defense plants were all built with Federal aid and grants: "a redistribution of national wealth from the tax-rich, populous states of the North-East and Midwest to the tax-poor, underdeveloped Sun Belt." The God whose laws BG extolled was Mammon.

The hypocrisy and phoniness of the man and his followers is beyond belief. While giving lip service to equal rights, BG and his followers were active opponents of BROWN v. BOARD OF EDUCATION and attacked it on the basis, not of racism which was the real reason, but on the grounds of "states' rights."

It was this issue that cracked the Solid South which had hitherto voted Democratic and held the party of Lincoln in contempt. In 1964 BG carried Alabama, Georgia, Louisiana, Mississippi and South Carolina. Southern Racism, no longer happy with the Democrat's embrace of the Civil Rights Movement, was about to find a new home in the Republican Party where it thrives to this day. This is not to imply that the Democrats are free of Racism, but the epicenter is in the Republican dispensation.

The right-wing Xtian fundamentalists took over the Republicans in the 1980s, and this unholy alliance of Racism and Fanaticism is what runs the party to this day. The defeat of BG in 1964 was thus only temporary. While the man himself was sidelined, his noxious ideas still festered in the American political system and right-wing racist zealots slowly rebuilt the party in their own image after the '64 defeat.

The poison of Goldwaterism has now mutated into the more virulent form of Bushism-- called by Sugrue "Goldwaterism on steroids." BG may be the spiritual Godfather of Bushism, but in comparison to Bush he appears as a conservative moderate. The outer most extreme of one era is the moderate of the next. A chilling thought when we contemplate what a Republican victory might bring to the world in another ten or twenty years. The Progressive movement has its work cut out for it.

Monday, December 24, 2007

The News of the World On Christmas Eve from a Jolly Somewhat Subjective Marxist Perspective

For PA blog readers I thought that I would look over the news of the
world on Christmas Eve. Don't expect a Wonderful Life. Don't expect
St. Karl in his Red Suit coming down your chimney with gifts of the
Marxist classics wrapped in the Peoples Weekly World. Don't even
expect Christian Dior gowns(given the anti-working class policies of
the Sarkozy government, there are stories, perhaps apocryphal, that
Bush is negotiating with Sarkozy to have Christian Dior put out a new
line of J. Edgar Hoover unisex gowns, perfect for interrogators
engaging in waterboarding at selected prison camps this Christmas) but
here is the news of the world.

First I came across a TV ad from the Christian Broadcasting
Network(Pat Robertson's old outfit) asking viewers to send in money to
support food, education, housing, employment training, for the very
poor people of the world, all of which are admirable policies, but
policies that should be the work of international agencies and
governments, not private charities.

The commercial, after citing all of these positive goals, said that
"most importantly" the contributions would help "bring the Gospel to
people living in darkness." I swear. This old 19th century
imperialist term that Mark Twain made fun of more than a century ago
in opposing the U.S. annexation of the Philippines. This term that
brings back such bad memories for the people of Africa, Asia, the
colonial regions of the world, where the missionaries followed and
blessed the gunboats in order to bring civilization, progress, free
trade, and the Gospel to the people living in darkness(Mark Twain saw
some bitter humor in the policy of shooting and killing them and
burning them out of their villages as the way to bring the Light to

Rudyard Kipling, the Irving Berlin of popular imperialist writing, in
what was perhaps his greatest hit, "the White Man's Burden," did call
upon the soldiers of the Empire to "fill full the mouth of hunger and
bid the sickness cease." My Christmas message to Pat, Rudyard et al,
and especially to the exploited and the oppressed of the world would
by an oldy and a goody(which I am paraphrasing) When I gave food to
the poor the called me a saint. When I asked why the poor were
hungry, they called me a Communist.

If "faith" to play a role in solving the problems of the world it must
be rooted in the material world, connected to policy, and broad
enough to respond and adjust to empirical realities. The name of that
materialist belief system, whom the capitalist world declares smugly
to be dead(more smugly by the way than any atheist declares God to be
dead) is socialism, and it offers not a better life in the next world,
but the possibility of living a productive one(life, liberty, and the
pursuit of happiness as a famous document stated two hundred and
thirty one years ago) for all people. That would be my holiday message
for all holidays.

Marxists reject anarchism of course as a very impractical policy to
end capitalist exploitation however well intentioned individual
anarchists may be, but "anarchists" are in the news in connection
with Christmas shopping. Anti-advertisers(I have known and worked
with student groups like this at Rutgers and have a good deal of
respect and affection for them) are engaging in anti-consumerist
guerrilla theater against the commercialization and commodification of
all areas of life, which reaches its symbolic peak in Christmas

These activists have been dropping T shirts, canned goods, Cd's, and
other commodities with "subversive" anti-consumerist commercials of
their own. Like the IWW, who a century ago were often in competition
with the Salvation Army(Joe Hill's most famous song, "The Preacher and
the Slave," was initially written as an anti-Salvation Army satire)
these "infiltrators" of discount houses, book stores, and department
stores have been in competition with religionists, particularly
rightwing fundamentalists, who do things like dropping religious
pamphlets into literature aimed at Gay and Lesbian readers. In one
book store, the anti-consumerists have switched the religious
literature to the science fiction section.

Spokespeople for Target and other stores are up in arm about this(I am
a lot more angry about the large amounts of money the owners of Target
and like minded realtors selling products made with cheap labor from
abroad give to the Republican party) But I have one Marxist complaint
on this Christmas eve. One of the teeshirts that that has been
"infiltrated" into stores has Marx, Che Guavera, and the 19th century
anarchist Mikhail Bakunin as the Three Wise Men with the caption
"Peace on Earth. After We Overthrow Capitalism." I have no quarrel
with the sentiment and the aspiration, but Bakunin, whom Marx saw as
an enemy(and he was) isn't the best Christmas fit, at least for
non-Anarchists. Another Russkie, Vladimir Lenin, belongs with Marx
and Che, since he led the first socialist revolution in history and
also, unlike Bakunin, was committed to replacing capitalism with

Also, as evidence that advanced technology does not in itself lead to
modern political forms, Queen Elizabeth has inaugurated a new
channel, the Royal Channel, on You Tube, where videos of anything and
everything is posted. She will present her annual Christmas message
on the new Royal Channel of You Tube along with her broadcast in
regular television. If she were wise, or wished really to change the
image of the monarchy with youth, she would say to the You Tube
audience, "Peace on Earth, After we Overthrow Capitalism," but I doubt
it. That might create something of a crisis inside the Church of
England of which she is the head, although it would probably lead
former Prime Minister Tony Blair of the Labor Party(which he helped to
make the former Labor Party) more certain that his recent conversion
to Catholicism was the right thing to do.
There are less pleasant albeit predictable stories, from the Pakistani
dictatorship continuing to play the U.S., using billions in aid to
fight "terrorists" for its military provocations of India, to
Christmas bailouts for the Wall Street Scrooges(whom the Bush
administration equates with tiny Tim) but Merry Christmas to all and
Peace on Earth(maybe) after we abolish capitalism and establish
Norman Markowitz

Saturday, December 22, 2007

J. Edgar Hoover's "Second Palmer Raids"

There is breaking news story that, using a declassified document, states that J. Edgar Hoover proposed to Harry Truman to suspend habeas corpus and arrest 12,000 people right after the outbreak of the Korean War in 1950. The article's author Tim Weiner, who often writes perceptively on intelligence related issues, discusses the events but in this first response article, doesn't present much of the historical context. Let me, in my first response with a very different political framework than Weiner's, make some points that our readers, as they come across this story, should be aware of.

First, I assume that virtually all of the 12 thousand Hoover wished to arrest in the Summer of 1950 were CPUSA members or regarded by the FBI as "fellow travelers" (in the jargon used by red-baiters at the time). Weiner mentions they were part of an existing index. Actually, it is important to note Hoover had been compiling such a list for many years, and, when ordered by New Deal Attorney General Francis Biddle to end it during WWII, told Biddle that he did, hid it under another label, and continued it. Even during WWII, the list, which eventually numbered hundreds of thousands, was comprised overwhelmingly of Communists and other leftists whom the bureau regarded as "fellow travelers."

In September 1950, Congress passed the McCarran Internal Security Act, whose key sponsor was the right-wing Nevada Democratic Senator, Pat McCarran, whom some, myself included, believe was the role model for the corrupt Nevada Senator in the classic U.S. film, The Godfather II. The Act was essentially a reworking of the right-wing Republican sponsored Mundt-Nixon bill, which had crashed and burned in 1948. Along with establishing a "Subversive Activities Control Board" to list, search, and destroy mass organizations that it declared to be "Communist fronts," The McCarran Act called for the establishment of what were political detention camps (its opponents called them concentration camps) in the event of a "national emergency," that is, mass arrests and imprisonment. This was not carried out but which remained a serious threat at a time when the national leadership of the CPUSA had already been convicted in a political show trial under the Smith Act, state and local leaders of the CPUSA were soon to be brought to trial,and cold warriors were calling for a great extension of these purge trials (the attack on civil liberties was so extensive that some "liberals" were taking the position that the arrests and trials should be continued against CPUSA leaders, but not members).

It is also important for our readers to remember that what J. Edgar Hoover wanted authorization for in July, 1950, the mass arrest without habeas corpus and imprisonment of thousands of Communists and their allies, he had accomplished as a young attorney and head of the General Intelligence Division of the Justice Department when he convinced the Attorney General, A. Mitchell Palmer, to approve of mass arrests, imprisonment, and deportation of "alien radicals" whom he linked to Bolshevik conspiracies in early 1920.

These "Palmer raids" resulted in the arrest of 10,000 people (the majority of whom were U.S. citizens) and the eventual deportation of hundreds to what was then Soviet Russia, including the anarchist Emma Goldman, who never was permitted to return to the U.S. in spite of her subsequent writings which were very critical of the Soviets. In 1919-1920, Hoover spread stories of Bolshevik conspiracies to launch a Soviet style revolution in the U.S. in order to intensify the postwar Red Scare which targeted trade unionists and African-American veterans returning from WWI. Hoover used the wild stories of Bolshevik conspiracies to bomb government installations and assassinate leaders to win support for his plans for mass arrests and deportations.

Hoover became director of the FBI in 1924 (appointed ironically by a new Attorney General and later progressive Supreme Court Justice, Harlan Fiske Stone, who had opposed the then discredited Palmer Raids but didn't know that Hoover was behind them)and essentially created the FBI in his own twisted image as a political police force, holding the position of director until his death in 1972. After WWII, Hoover fed his friends in the press and friendly politicians like Richard Nixon and Joe McCarthy stories of Communists acting as Soviet spies in and outside of government to both expand his power and also to the arrest and imprisonment without constitutional rights of the people who were on his ever expanding lists (the espionage theme had much more oomph after WWII than mad Bolshevik bombers, assassins, and rioters that he he had used in the post WWI Red Scare.

Tim Weiner concluded his story by saying that neither Truman or any other president approved Hoover's plans. While that is true Hoover usually worked without the specific knowledge of Attorneys General and Presidents when he had to, always seeking to create a climate of fear to sustain his activities. The left generally and the CPUSA particularly were his major targets from WWI to the late 1960s, when he made the Black Panther Party his number one target and in alliance with federal, state, and local political elites and law enforcement agencies launched a campaign to destroy the BPP by fomenting terroristic violence against it and arresting its leadership on a variety of usually trumped up criminal charges.

The Bush administration has used the Patriot Act to continue what was J. Edgar's life work, proclaiming its right to do openly what he most of the time had to do covertly, although he tried to get presidential and congressional approval for his acts, as this document shows. This history is important to remember, both in understanding Hoover's 1950 overture to Truman and the present policies of the Bush administration, since the Bill of Rights is not now nor has it ever been a given in U.S. history. Constitutional Rights, including elemental rights of habeas corpus, protection against warrantless searches and seizures, cruel and unusual punishments, have to be won and won over and over again from the predatory politicians and police agents for whom they are barrier to protecting their power and the interests of the exploiting classes which they serve.

Norman Markowitz

Ready to Make the Big Leap to Compact Fluorescent Bulbs?

The online environmental magazine, Grist, has some info that can help you with issues like recycling, waste disposal, price, and more. Author Katharine Wroth's "unscientific standards":

"What's the packaging like? How does the light look on a book page? How does it look through a lampshade? How does it look reflected on the walls and ceiling?"

Read the full story here.

Happy Holidays.

Welcoming the Children of 2008

Is it true that There Is No Alternative [TINA] to capitalism? Let's hope not. I don't know how many children will be named Tina next year, but according to a report in THE WEEK for 12/28/07, of all the babies expected to be born in the world next year ONE THIRD will be born in slums. How can such a condition be sustainable?

Friday, December 21, 2007

GAO Report: Bush Obsessed More with Cuba than with Terrorism

The New York Times is again behind the curve. Today it reported on a GAO study that found the Bush administration to be so obsessed with Cuba that it "may be distracting some American government agencies from higher-priority missions like fighting terrorism and combating narcotics trafficking."

The article goes on further to note that the GAO report asks "Treasury Department to scrutinize the priorities of its Office of Foreign Assets Control," which is supposed to enforce trade sanctions, especially by tracking the assets of terrorist groups. Over the past few years, the Times reports, of "the office opened 10,823 investigations into possible violations involving Cuba and just 6,791 investigations on all other cases."

In other words, the US systematically harasses and investigates the 37,000 Americans who go to Cuba annually but who have nothing to do with terrorism, but still can't tell you where Osama bin Laden is. Recall their investigation into Michael Moore's trip to Cuba to make his film Sicko.

Little, old Cuba. 11 million people. No longer a platform for Soviet missiles. Just a country that wants to be free from US influence and seeks expanded trade and business with farmers and other business persons in the US and other countries. Cuba is struggling to build a democratic society based on socialist principles rather than capitalism. But this is not the US government's business. Cuba poses no threat. It is time to lift the embargo and respect the fundamental human right of the freedom of travel.

But the point is that Political Affairs reported on the Bush obsession with Cuba a while back. This is not a new story.

Thursday, December 20, 2007

ANC Conference Draws to a Close

By Joe Sims

The African National Congress national conference drew to a close today as votes were being counted for a new national executive committee and with a public address and press conference by its new president Jacob Zuma.

Winnie Mandela topped the list of votes in the polling for the new leadership body. Communist Party leader Blade Nzimande also received a high vote and was 11th. Communist leaders, Charles Nqkula and Ronnie Kasrils, both of who hold important post in the current government, however were not re-elected, but others were.

Zuma, in a conciliatory address stressed the need to build unity in the post conference period: "The conference is now behind us and we will continue to work together to unite and build a stronger ANC," he said.

The new ANC president stressed continuity in terms of economic and political policy:

"We have taken various resolutions at this conference, which will guide us on our way forward. ANC policies, including economic policies that have been adopted at this conference do not indicate a fundamental shift from the policies that the ANC has adopted since it has come into power. Let me reiterate that decisions with regards to policies in the ANC are taken by conference and not by an individual."

Prior to the conference Zuma visited India, Great Britain and the US to insure investors that the new leadership’s economic policy would not shift. The conference however did reaffirm its earlier policy conference decision to embark on a new industrial policy, public works, and more state investment. The Stratfor Corporation, an intelligence company among whose biggest client is the CIA, sponsored Zuma’s US visit.

In an important policy plank Zuma highlighted the importance the new leadership took to the issue of land reform:

"Comrades, the conference has taken an important resolution on agrarian revolution, calling for a 30% redistribution of land by 2014 and support for subsistence farming and food security while maintaining a productive agricultural sector."

Zuma returned to the unity theme a number of times in his speech, noting the role of President Mbeki, calling him "brother," "comrade," and "my leader". On the unity of the organization he stressed that the meet was not:

"ANC Conference of victors and losers. As the newly elected NEC we will endeavor to work with all the comrades who did not make it to this NEC to ensure that the unity of the ANC is strengthened. We are all ANC members who just happened to prefer a different set of leadership collectives as it is our democratic right. It is our collective task to repair whatever damage or harm may have been caused as we were building up towards the conference. Let me emphasize that the leadership collective will serve the entire membership of the ANC, regardless of whether a person voted for Thabo Mbeki or Jacob Zuma or any other member or leader. We cannot have a Zuma camp or a, there is only one ANC. None among us is above the organization or bigger than the ANC."

The South African Communist Party in a press statement, pointed to the significance of the conference and the great responsibility it placed on the new leadership to address the grave problems faced by the poor:

"ANC delegates have sent a clear message, but the electoral outcome of this conference does not mean that the underlying challenges of our society have gone away - poverty, unemployment, deepening inequality. As an alliance leadership, we will be failing the hopes and aspirations of the thousands of ANC branch delegates if we do not use the new reality as a platform to address with an even greater sense of urgency and determination these realities that impact upon millions of South Africans".

The SACP also addressed the issue of unity, declaring:

"This is not a moment for triumphalism or factional revenge. Those inclinations will simply plunge us into another cycle of inward-focused maneuvering. Let us devote our energies to uniting around the tasks of transformation."

The statement went on to indicate the need for reflection on why delegates decided to elect a new leadership pointing to frustration building from below.

Indeed it seems that great economic and health challenges that ordinary South Africans face – massive unemployment, HIV/AIDS, lack of adequate housing, became a material force at this conference, crying out for solution.

With pressure mounting and given the maneuvers of forces hostile to South African revolution the ANC faces a daunting challenges. New efforts to prosecute President Zuma on corruption charges floated Thursday only underscore the problem. The world watches with hope and anxiety.

Republican Government Continues to Go Out of Its Way to Prove Marx and Lenin Right

The Republican majority on the FCC has voted to ease "restrictions" on cross ownership of newspapers, radio and TV stations outside of the 20 largest markets, against both the Democrats and media anti-monopoly activists who literally booed the ruling, denouncing it has a further step on the road to increased media concentration that the Bush administration embarked upon in 2003.

Senate Democrats are saying that they will develop legislation against the ruling and anti-monopoly media activists are threatening to fight the case in court. Conservatives are saying that this will help struggling media outlets survive outside of major markets and some on the left are saying ho hum, this is another move toward concentration that the Democrats will huff and puff against but do nothing about and the courts, under conservative control will bless.

Concentration it is, and concentration is the economic foundation of modern industrial capitalism which doesn't mean, as Marx and Lenin would say, you shouldn't fight against it by using the law and the state to restrict it, but does mean that concepts like "free markets" and "competition" which are used both to strengthen and oppose corporate consolidation and concentration have little meaning under contemporary
capitalism. Even if progressives do staff regulatory agencies with opponents rather than friends of monopoly who would apply and seek to strengthen existing anti-trust legislation, not pretend such legislation either doesn't exist or exists to strengthen monopoly, capital's drive to destroy competition as a way to maximize profit would not change.

Capital creates bigger and bigger concentrations whose purpose is profit, even if it means (as it has in the U.S. and other countries for decades) that media moguls own hockey teams and enterprises that have no direct relationship to each other are owned by conglomerates who dispatch managers to maximize profit to book stores, factories, sports teams, even publishing houses that carry Marxist magazines. Media is about consumer markets, not citizens who have rights to have access to information, and the present FCC looks at all media the way the present FTC looks at all commodities produced by corporations, that is, helping those who already control a great deal of capital to extend their control, since they have by their "success" proven their superiority in the market place and what is good for them, as an old GOP secretary of defense and former General Motors said about General Motors, is good for the USA.

Speaking about the FTC, they just let Google purchase Double Click, a Major Internet Advertising enterprise, for 3.1 billion. As an example of capitalist concentration, those most opposed to this sale, which the FTC approved without conditions and claimed was no violation of U.S. anti-trust laws (to the Bush administration, what is) is most opposed by those two sterling representatives of free competition, Microsoft and AT& T. The decision, to go into effect, has to be approved by the European Union, which has a history of being less compliant to monopoly concentration than the present U.S. government, although one analyst noted, tongue somewhat in cheek, that given the European Union's anti-monopoly battles against Microsoft, the opposition of Microsoft may help Google, because "with enemies like Microsoft, you don't need friends when you are in Europe."

What about the public interest? Marx and Lenin would both probably laugh and say that it no more exists under capitalism than an all powerful Spirit God does. Capitalists do business with each other, fight with each other the way Microsoft and Google are now fighting for internet advertising revenues and newspaper and TV radio station owners are scooping up competitors.I guess George Bernard Shaw's comment over eighty years ago in defense of his fellow socialists who were being accused of everything under the sun still holds true: those who preach the doctrine of the class struggle are constantly attacked by those who practice it. In this case, Marx and Lenin, who developed the theory capitalist concentration as a law of capitalist development (Marx) and applied that law to the great trusts of the early twentieth century and the rise of imperialism (Lenin) are today mocked as "irrelevant" and "old hat" by those whose policies are proof that they were theoretically and practically, not to mention politically, very correct.

Norman Markowitz


Thomas Riggins

Was it just seven years ago that the new millennium dawned? I remember all the talk about how this new era would give us a chance to escape from all the follies of the 20th century. Well, it didn't take long to realize that all the old follies were still with us, waiting to be repeated.

World hunger is one of them. The last century was dotted with mass famines, all of them man made. Surely the UN and the leading nations of the world would not let that sorry record repeat itself?

It appears, however, that they will. The UN is doing its part to help prevent famines, but the UN can only do what the leading nations, represented on the Security Council will allow it to do. We must remember that any criticism of the UN is in reality a criticism of the five permanent members of the SC.

At any rate, the UN has warned us that a famine of Biblical proportions may be on the way. Tuesday's New York Times has the story. "World Food Supply is Shrinking, U.N. Agency Warns," by Elisabeth Rosenthal (12-18-07). Here is the gist of it.

Jacques Diouf, who runs the UN Food and Agriculture organization has stated that there "is a very serious risk that fewer people will be able to get food" in the coming years. That doesn't sound very good at all. Rosenthal, reporting from Rome, says his reason for announcing this is that because of "an 'unforeseen [?] and unprecedented' shift, the world food supply is dwindling rapidly and food prices are soaring [good old supply and demand] to historic levels."

There appears to be only 12 weeks worth of wheat and 8 of corn left in storage (based on world wide consumption levels.) to feed the world in case of an emergency. One reason for this is that it is more profitable to grow non food crops than food crops. There has been "a shift away from farming for human consumption to crops for biofuels and cattle feed" [more McDonald's burgers for the First World obese]. And, don't overlook the fact that "the early effects of global warming have decreased crop yields in some crucial places."

The leader of the World Food Program, Josette Sheeran, is quoted as saying, "We're concerned that we are facing the perfect storm for the world's hungry." Other experts are equally glum. A major, crop disease or climate change in an important area would put the hungary in "a risky situation." This has already happened in Australia (lack of rain) and In Ukraine (also climate change) with less food being produced.

The UN's Diouf thinks the advanced countries will have to come up with new ideas to reflect the new economic and environmental realities. New ideas are in the works, but they may be based on putting people before profits. When has the US done that lately?

But not to worry here in the USA. We will be able to ride it out. Ms. Sheeran noted that, "In the U.S., Australia and Europe, there's a very substantial capacity to adapt to the effects on food -- with money, technology, research and development. In the developing world, there isn't." It's comforting to know that if disaster strikes it will be the poor of the Third World who die off while we will continue to pollute the atmosphere, destroy the climate, and have all the junk food we need to see us through.

Kucinich Campaign Needs Your Help

For all those people who blame the big media and the Democratic Party leadership for holding Rep. Dennis Kucinich back and not letting him get his message out, this is the perfect opportunity to make a difference. Rep. Kucinich was kept out of the latest Iowa debate because he did not have staff in Iowa by a certain deadline. Now that may seem like an arbitrary rule, but the plain fact is that if you don't have people staffing your campaign somewhere, it suggests you don't really have a lot of support, so why should you be in a debate? So to everyone in the northeast who thinks that is just plain wrong, check out the following from the Kucinich for President Campaign:

We need volunteers in New Hampshire

Working on a presidential campaign is always exciting; whether working locally or traveling to another state.

We're asking people from all walks of life to come together in New Hampshire and help the volunteers already working here to elect Dennis Kucinich as the next President of the United States. We need you.

This is even more exciting because Dennis will be in New Hampshire with you, meeting people in town halls, going door to door to introduce himself, asking voters to take part in the First in the Nation Primary and reminding people a vote for principles is always a vote that counts, and making his presence known at polling stations across the state.

There are lots of jobs that need to be done, some of this work you may already be doing, some of it may be new and we have experienced leaders in the field who welcome your presence. To all those who can come to New Hampshire we'll provide lodging.

Your presence can make a difference in New Hampshire and news of that difference will spread across the nation on January 9th, 2008 and make a difference for the entire nation!

To find out more, or to sign up now please contact:
Amanda Harrow at 603-792-0053 or

Strength through Peace
Kucinich for President Campaign

Wednesday, December 19, 2007

Morgan Stanley and the "China Market"

On a day when the Bush administration is denouncing the New York Times for publishing further accounts on the CIA's destruction of torture tapes to suggest that some leading figures in the administration were for it (it is getting harder and harder to analyze the administration, since the liars are having difficulty keeping their lies straight) and Bush justice department and judicial would-be appointees are keeping mum on the torture technique known as waterboarding (which the Democrats are trying to fight and Senate Republicans are in effect defending), the really big news for U.S. state monopoly capitalism is that Morgan Stanley recorded its first quarterly loss ever, thanks to its financing of subprime loan predators, and sold an investment in itself to the China Investment Corporation, a Chinese State Company, of nearly five billion dollars.

Morgan Stanley is of course the successor a few times removed of J.P. Morgan Co., which was one hundred years ago the leading syndicate of finance capital, in the U.S. In those days, J.P. himself was still with us (when he died in 1913, his syndicate, challenged only in the U.S. by John D. Rockefeller's rival syndicate of finance capital, controlled 13 percent of the investment capital of the world) and forcing in 1907 his political enemy, Theodore Roosevelt, to turn to him to bail out the U.S. government in the midst of a financial crisis.

The Morgan Syndicate was also to be involved with other finance capitalists from other countries in "banking consortiums" that sort to exploit and control the collapsing Chinese empire, turning to various war lords to protect their interests, using Chinese middle men for economic purposes, and benefiting from the gun boat diplomacy of the imperialist powers who protected their various commercial concessions and extra territoriality (their right to set up cities within Chinese cities and administer them by their own rules) in China while they did with Chinese currency and the Chinese economy pretty much what they wanted, fighting among themselves for wealth and power over Chinese resources and labor.

Besides saying the obvious, "oh, how the mighty have fallen," we as Marxists might raise some difficult questions. If the Chinese state invests in Morgan Stanley, what does that mean in regard to Chinese state involvement in Morgan Stanley's global and U.S. policies? Also, can the Chinese state as it, according to economic reports, seeks to keep Chinese currency relatively cheap in order to foster increasing exports, control its own capitalists and keep from getting deeper and deeper intertwined with global imperialism (even if it doesn't want to be, will not its investments force it to be)?

Can China's commitment to a social market economy really develop, or will it become a Chinese version of state monopoly capitalism, albeit when where the state plays a more central role and is not so clearly controlled by capitalists?

Also, is it possible that China can use this growing economic power in leading global capitalist syndicates like Morgan Stanley to effect progressive changes in their policies, the way many liberals and progressives in the U.S. seek to steer investments toward what they see as socially useful causes?

I don't have any answers to these questions, but I am asking them on a day that old J.P. Morgan would be turning over in his grave, if he were informed by the stock ticker of what had happened.

Norman Markowitz

Film Review: "Arranged" A Film for Everyone to See

By Eric Green


Film Movement
Produced and Directed by Diane Crespo and Stefan Schaefer
Story by Stefan Schaefer and Yuta Silverman
Screenplay by Stefan Schaefer

This is one of those rare films that deserves the description, "the little movie that should/just might move millions." It is a film for all ages, backgrounds and especially those needing a boost for world peace and friendship.

The subhead of the film says: "Friendship Has No Religion."

The screenplay coupled with the remarkably casting decisions is amazing. Include a great job of film editing and photography and you have a great 90-minute film that should be seen by commercial audiences and then become the teaching material for public and parochial schools across the country. I am sure the creaters of the film were tempted to do more, I am glad they kept it the hour and half.

The description of the film does the best job:

"Rochel is an Orthodox Jew, and Nasira a Muslim of Syrian origin. They meet as young teachers at a public school in Brooklyn, ad find out they are both going through the process of getting 'arranged marriages' through their respective religions. With both families pressure on the one hand, and the rejection of traditional values by the outside world on the other, they will rely on each other and their friendship to pull through this difficult time of their lives. They will eventually prove to everyone around them that they can be strong women in charge of their own happiness, while keeping their deep religious and cultural convictions. Most importantly, thy will show the world that friendship doesn't discriminate."

This will not be easy film to find. In NYC it is being shown at the Quad on 13th Street. But its last day is in early January.

If you agree that this film needs to be seen, go to the website and see what you can do.

Of course, a DVD will be available.

Cast and Crew:
Starring: Zoe Lister-Jones as Rochel
Starring: Francis Benhamou as Nasira
Supporting: John Rothman as Matan
Supporting: Mimi Lieber as Sheli
Director: Diane Crespo
Director: Stefan C. Schaefer
Writer: Stefan C. Schaefer
Producer: Diane Crespo
Producer: Stefan C. Schaefer
Director of Photography: Dan Hersey
Production Designer: Keren Kohen
Editor: Erin Greenwell
Music: Sohrab Habibion
Music: Michael Hampton

They all deserve to be cited and thanked for a great work of art.

Sen. Clinton: Racking Up Labor Endorsements

By Joel Wendland

Today the 160,000-member
International Union of Painters and Allied Trades (IUPAT) announced its endorsement of Senator Hillary Clinton for president.

This endorsement follows last week's endorsement by
the Theatrical Stage Employees union (IATSE).

In all, Sen. Clinton has won endorsements from 12 international unions affiliated with the AFL-CIO. These include: AFSCME (1.4 million public employees), AFT (1.4 million teachers), Amalgamated Transit Union (180,000 members), the Bricklayers (100,000 members), National Association of Letter Carriers (300,000 members), International Association of Machinists (700,000 members), Office and Professional Employees (125,000 members), Sheet Metal Workers, Transportation Communications International Union, and the United Transportation Union. (Sheet Metal Workers and UTU are set to combine in Jan. 2008 and will have a membership of 230,000.)

Side note: The Machinists also endorsed Mike Huckabee (yuck) for the Republican nomination.

Sen. Barack Obama so far has not been endorsed by any internationals, though his list of locals and state chapter supporters is very long, among them some large Service Employees International Union state chapters. SEIU has decided to endorse candidates by state rather than making a single endorsement during the primaries. Other Change to Win unions like UNITE HERE have made no endorsements yet.

John Edwards has been endorsed by the United
Mine Workers of America (105,000 members), Transport Workers (200,000 members), and United Steelworkers (1.2 million members), and the United Brotherhood of Carpenters (700,000 members--non-AFL-CIO affiliated).

Most of the endorsements for all the candidates resulted from union-wide membership surveys. Though, Sen. Clinton's relationship with labor (including her relationship by association during her husband's administration) gives her a distinct advantage over the other leading Democratic candidates in terms of winning labor's support.

Labor's support is crucial. As one of the core forces of the working class, its opinions should not be dismissed lightly. In 2004, labor gave $60 million to the effort to defeat Bush and the Republicans. In 2006, labor's volunteers got out the vote in record numbers despite declining membership totals. Indeed, union households totaled about 1/4 of the vote in 2006, and about 75% voted to change Congress and stop Bush.

Latvia and the Collapse of the USSR

By the end of 1990, it was quite obvious that the Soviet Union, as it was then, would not last long. At the time I was a member of the Politburo of the Soviet Communist Party, which was elected under Gorbachev several months before.

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After Annapolis: Press for Real Negotiations Now

The vast majority of the people of Israel, Palestine, the United States and the world want something done to bring peace with justice to Israel and Palestine, and feel there is a chance the recently concluded Annapolis conference can accomplish something toward that aim.

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Tuesday, December 18, 2007

Zuma Scores Big Win At ANC Meet

By Joe Sims

Jacob Zuma was elected as the new president of the African National Congress scoring over 800 more ballots than the incumbent Thabo Mbeki. A total of 3983 votes were cast. The voting seemed to roughly repeat the results of the provincial elections meetings. Mbeki joined Zuma on the stage in a show of unity and congratulations, as did all the candidates as results were announced.

The Zuma list’s candidates won each of the six top positions of the ANC, including the current chairman of the Communist Party in the position of secretary-general of the ANC. Mbeki scored the highest vote of losing candidates. The voting patterns suggested that delegates were voting on the basis of lists, with the winners receiving upwards of 2300 and the losers 1500 or less.

Delegates greeted the announcement with songs and dancing. Wednesday will continue with elections for the ruling party’s national executive committee. Commissions on different aspects of ANC policy will continue to meet. No significant changes are expected.

Department of Defense –– no accountability necessary

By Terrie Albano

You know that saying about what a great day it will be when the Pentagon has to have a bake sale to raise money for a B1 bomber? Well, let's take it just one step further. What if the PTA's bake sale money was never accounted for? Or if high school fees were in such a disorganized state that there couldn't be proper accounting? Headlines would abound in the local press. TV and radio and blogs would abound with broadcasts about the corruption in our public schools.

Yet, not a peep about the recent Government Accountability Office recent press release that stated the Department of Defense has "serious financial management problems" and is one of three major impediments that prevents the GAO from being able to clearly audit government spending.

Comptroller General of the United States and head of GAO David Walker said yesterday at the National Press Club, "If the federal government was a private corporation and the same report came out this morning, our stock would be dropping and there would be talk about whether the company's management and directors needed a major shake-up."

The GAO is a nonpartisan watchdog agency "that works for Congress and the American people" and "studies how the federal government spends taxpayer dollars."

I've been getting GAO reports for a while now. I look them over quickly. Once in a while one really catches my eye and I know it's going to wind up on the front page of the NY Times. Like, 'Government agency says 190,000 weapons shipped to Iraq disappeared.' Yeah, I saw that and thought – ohhhh that's a good one.

But this special press release sent out yesterday didn't garner the big headlines. Actually the headlines from it stated there had been "some progress" and the GAO was able to express "an unqualified opinion on the fiscal year 2007 Statement of Social Insurance, which includes the Social Security, Medicare, Railroad Retirement, and Black Lung programs."

But that Department of Defense is too opaque and an obstacle for any financial accountability!!!!

When right-wingers go on the rampage about government spending and fiscal accountability how come it never includes the Pentagon? This is a huge part of the budget. Let's see – the largest military spending budget ever just passed: some $500 billion, which doesn't even include the 100s of billions for the disasters in Afghanistan and Iraq!

Where does this money go? We know it doesn't go to take care of soldiers and their families. It goes to arms and weapons contractors and related services. Billions of tax dollars goes to Halliburton, Blackwater, Bechtel, Lockheed Martin, Boeing and so forth. WITHOUT ANY OVERSIGHT!!!! Where is the accountability? How come they are getting away with this!

On ANC: New York Times Can't Get It Right

By Joe Sims

The New York Times sure has a hard time of getting it right. Its recent Monday article on the ANC Congress is replete with erroneous comparisons and lightweight political analysis.

The beginning of the article is a good place to start: The author alleges the ANC conference is "not unlike an American presidential primary". How so? In a US presidential primary, candidates compete in state contests for delegates whom then meet and vote at a national convention. The ANC conference is the culmination of this process, not its beginning as the primary comparison alludes. It is closer to Republican or Democratic Party convention than anything, but primary season it is not.

The writer then says incredibly, "But even at its quirkiest, American presidential politics has seldom been like this. More telling, never has South Africa's."

Excuse me? How about the Republican vote stealing gangs led by George Pataki in Florida. Or voter suppression in Ohio? Does anyone remember the Clinton impeachment fiasco? Talk about quirky. And then there was the Gingrich-led Republican shutdown of the federal government. Ok maybe it narrowly misses "presidential politics" but not by much, after all they were trying to overthrow a president, which they pretty much did with the presidential coup authorizing G W's selection. And by the way did the writer mean by "More telling, never has South Africa's" presidential season been like this? That's either the biggest understatement of the year or the stupidest thing ever written. Have they forgotten that this is only the second free party convention process in South Africa's history? After all apartheid did kind of put a hamper on things. But if even that isn't enough, historically it's inaccurate. In the late 1940s the ANC had another fierce internal debate when the "Africanists" refused to adopt the Freedom Charter and went on to form the PAC.

Then in the fifth paragraph, they completely mischaracterize the politics of the top contenders for ANC office:

Never have such polar opposites vied for power. Mr. Mbeki, the distant, pipe-puffing, capitalist intellectual, was schooled in British universities during exile under apartheid. Mr. Zuma, a rough-edged, unschooled and occasionally socialist populist whose scant education was gained in an apartheid prison, is as charismatic as Mr. Mbeki is cold.

Through all the talk about style and attitude, the central idea here is that Thabo Mbeki and Jacob Zuma's politics are polar opposite. Nothing could be further from the case. Both come out of the same political schools and have a shared ideological history. Both accept and articulate the main policy and political aims articulated by the ANC. More than that: they are its authors. While the style is different, at least on a collective policy level, the substance is the same.

The attempt to characterize Mbeki as a "capitalist" intellectual flies in the face of his own pronouncements and writings should anyone take the time to study them. One might begin with his speech to the special South African Communist Party convention two years ago. What kind of capitalist intellectual has called the ANC's alliance with the SACP and COSATU "an objective need created by history?"

Jacob Zuma too comes out of an ideological collective that allows him critically access the objective patterns shaping the political conjecture of the moment. At a recent SACP meeting, I heard him lecture with great eloquence and insight on the need for Communists to concentrate their efforts on "strategic" sectors of the working class. "There are unions, and then there are unions" he said.

Here I am not arguing that the both politicians are the same. Clearly there are differences, yet one suspects that they are more matters of degree and not of kind as the paperweight analysis of the New York Times would have us believe.

Monday, December 17, 2007

ANC Tug of War

By Joe Sims

It's the end of the second day of the ANC conference and voting for the top officers is about to start. If some of you are wondering why it took so long to write the answer is simple: no internet access.

Who know what's going to happen with both sides confident of victory. I wonder though if in these circumstances everyone loses. It's clear Jacob Zuma has a lot of support on the street. "Everyone should have their chance" seems to be the watch word, meaning that President Mbeki should step back after two terms.

Others though are backing Thabo Mbeki, among them lots of women – at least these are some of the voices I've heard. Whatever the case, the country seems pretty evenly divided on the issue.

A last ditch effort by Winnie Mandela to broker a compromise seems to have fallen on deaf ears. With final nominations being approved tonight, and ballots printed up, the notion of a compromise seems out of the question.

The eyes and ears of the country are very focused on the event. It's the subject of conversation everywhere. The country seems very politicized from that point of view, specially at the grass roots. Many are wondering how did it come to this? Others ponder, how can we get the hell out of it? Some are posing the need for a greater theoretical elaboration. One said to me: "We need to discuss this issue of the national democratic revolution and socialism. I mean, the national democratic revolution is a transition, right? And socialism is a transition, right? Well how can you have a transition to a transition?" Well, I was a little stumped. It all seems a little transitional to me.

We'll see what tomorrow holds. One thing that is bothersome is that all the factional fighting has turned off a lot of good people from politics. I've heard that several times now, from people who were outstanding ANC, SACP, and COSATU activists. One said today, "I'm just not into ANC politics anymore." I replied, "If all good people said that about politics, who would be left?

Some Good News, Some Bad News, and Some In Between

New Jersey abolished the death penalty today, a huge step forward for the state and nation, since ending the death penalty has become a hallmark and a benchmark of a civilized society in the twenty-first century. As a faculty adviser to Rutgers students who fought for this for years, I would like to thank all of them for their efforts in the state, first to establish a moratorium and then to achieve full repeal.

In Laos, there is a particularly ugly story of the "Good Old Days" of the Indochina war, which claimed millions of lives. Beginning in the Kennedy administration, the CIA, which was fighting its own open "secret war" in Laos, recruited thousands of members of the Hmong minority and paid them to fight against their government in the name of fighting against "international Communism." Some allegedly (I stress allegedly) are still around fighting against a Laotian military which, given the devastation that the country suffered, is not ready to forgive and forget, even though U.S. money and weapons pretty much ended in 1975. The Laotian government denies this, claiming that the jungle fighters are bandits (a reasonable point, since they were at the very least be in their fifties today.

What is so wretched about the story is the "memories" of former CIA handlers of the Hmong about their "loyalty" and bravery (to the CIA as against the country in which they were a part) and also the usual comments about the "Communist takeover" in 1945( no Communist movement ever makes a revolution or unites a country but wins out through conspiratorial "takeovers," a term which derives from the Nazi 1933 Machtergreifung (or seizure of power, translated as takeover) since the Nazis didn't want anyone at the time to confuse them with Communists, which postwar cold warriors did for propaganda purposes.

That a minority group was cynically manipulated in this way, which did them a great deal of damage and helped to keep a war going many years after it should have and could have ended, isn't mentioned. Nor is the death and destruction that the U.S intervention brought to the people of Indochina mentioned.

Finally, Joe Lieberman has endorsed Arizona's John McCain (not quite like Strom Thurmond in 1964 endorsing Arizona's Barry Goldwater, but in the same vein). Actually, I was hoping that he would endorse Mitt Romney or Huckabee who might nominate him for Vice President, making him the only man to run for the Vice Presidency of both major parties without really having too much to do with either of them.

Norman Markowitz

Sen. Hillary Clinton, a New Gay Icon?

She's got fabulous hair and (sometimes) fabulous outfits, but there may be more to why lesbian, gay, and bisexual people are lining up with Sen. Hillary Clinton in the Democratic primaries, according to a recent survey conducted at Hunter College in New York.

The survey shows that 63% of LGB voters (this survey, funded by the Human Rights Campaign, did not include transgender individuals) support Sen. Clinton, while 22% back Sen. Barack Obama, and 7% support John Edwards. LGB voters also have higher rates of political interest and awareness than the general population and place "gay rights" high on their list of priorities, the survey results indicate.

Only about 4 in 10 LGB voters see John Edwards as "gay friendly" (only slightly better than Rudy Giuliani), while 7 in 10 view Sen. Clinton as such. This may very well have to do with Edwards' cultivation of a Christian evangelical image (appearing recently on Pat Robertson's 700 Club, yuck!) that obscures his record of supporting most current issues of import to the LGBT community, such as expanded funding for health care needs, support for domestic partnerships and civil unions and the like.

Overall, to expose the Democratic Party's "gay agenda," 9 in 10 LGB voters say they will vote in the Democratic primaries.

In sum, though, candidate analysis conducted by the Human Rights Campaign as well as public statements on key issues show that all of the Democratic candidates share similar positions on gay rights. Two candidates stand out: Rep. Dennis Kucinich is alone in supporting full marriage equality. Gov. Bill Richardson has been caught making offensive statements about LGBT people, but contradictorily has a policy and legislative record of supporting equality.

Because all of the Democratic candidates share strong pro-equality values, why do LGB voters support Sen. Clinton in such numbers? I suspect that her husband's record of being the only president in US history to be open to talking about the LGBT community and its needs puts Sen. Clinton by association into a class of her own.

Sen. Clinton has also refused to shy away from speaking for equality (up to full marriage equality), despite the nastiest and most hateful invectives from the ultra right.

To be sure, a concerted effort by Sen. Obama and Mr. Edwards (and the others) to reach out to the LGBT community and to specify the kinds of policy changes they would take the lead on could significantly alter these numbers.

After all, as the survey's analysis of the political awareness and activism of LGB voters indicates, Sen. Clinton won't just get by with great hair and outfits. She's got guts, and soon the other candidates are going to have to show they've got guts too or sit down.

Rumors, gossip and the morning news

Well, that's it for Mitt. In this morning NY Times, he not only sounded ridiculous on racism in the Mormon Church, he admitted to crying!!!!

From the Times: "Asked whether he had struggled with the fact that his church excluded blacks from its priesthood until 1978, Mr. Romney said that he supported civil rights and remembered hearing about the change in policy on the radio while he was driving. "I pulled over, and literally wept," he said. "Even to this day it's emotional," he said, tearing up." Forget about it. Men don't cry... That's the kiss of death in he-man, macho U.S. politics.

Also worth noting in the same article is the thin-skinned nature of U.S. business, according to the Des Moines Register. They criticized John Edwards for his "harsh, anti-corporate rhetoric..." that would make it hard to "work with the business community."

What? Do the suits whine and say, "You talked bad about us and now we can't work with you...?"

Coming from Illinois, let's give it up for our junior senator!!! He is, shall I say, surging??? Oprah and Obama - flexing Midwest muscle.

And boy is Hillary she is a "change" agent....trying to glob onto Obama's message.

But Mr. Krugman is a bit cranky on Obama and his health care plan. All these health care plans are quite similar - Clinton's, Obama's and Edwards' - as I understand it - they all keep the for-profit insurance companies in the picture at some level. But Krugman is really pissed about Obama's plan and says it ruins the whole progressive agenda...Frankly, if it's going to be about being pure on corporations then Dennis Kucinich is the only one who supports totally cutting out profit from the health care scene. I think Mr. Krugman is missing a certain forest for the trees by placing a candidate's stand on health care reform as the central nature of the progressive agenda. There is something else that is central: fight against racism...and that puts Obama's candidacy itself at the center of progressivism.

Tell me if I'm wrong!!!

Sunday, December 16, 2007

The Steroids Witchhunt

By Terrie Albano

It's a witchhunt.

That's what I told my baseball-loving husband when I saw the headlines and heard the radio reports about the widespread abuse of steroids in professional baseball.

I said replace steroids with communists and you have a witchhunt. Federal officials getting baseball coaches and players to name names. Players photos splattered across the front pages: Bonds, Clemens, Pettitte, Giambi, etc., etc. All tried and convicted of being RoidHeads.

And they may be.

Just like there were leftwingers and communists in all sorts of jobs and industries.

There is a difference though. Political opinions weren't illegal, although the forces that be wanted to outlaw the left, especially in the union movement. Yet steroid use, without a prescription, is illegal. So where did these guys get all these steroids? And how come they were being injected with them in the clubs' locker rooms by coaches on the teams' payrolls?

Come on ...why aren't the owners photos splattered on the front pages? They allowed it. Encouraged it. Profited from it.

Or why aren't the CEOs of Big Pharma on the front page...come on where do all these steroids come from in the first place?

The drive for profits corrupts everything. Even America's sport. My husband is angry with the athletes who allowed themselves to be corrupted. These multi-millionaires made choices too. Yet at the same time he goes through a litany of reasons why these were limited choices for them. Plus every steroid injection affects THEIR health, THEIRbodies. Not the owners or Bud Selig's.

I still think it's a witchhunt. The whole thing is about naming names.

And who is going to come out weaker? The Players Union. And who will come out stronger? The Owners.

Unfortunately sports fans are probably disgusted with both players and owners. Fans see ticket price increase, corporate suites at the ballparks and have been alienated from the sport they love by this multi-billion dollar industry.

Maybe all the cities should flex their muscle and declare eminent domain on the sports teams. Since they are an economic necessity to cities. And instead of the profits going to investors, they could go to city and county and state services like mass transit and public schools. Ticket prices could be slashed along with corporate salaries. Players would get more than enough salary to live a comfortable life. And there would be public oversight - made up of players representatives, consumer advocates, health care experts, maybe even fan representation - if they organize themselves - to make sure no illegal steroid or other drug use is pushed.

Even if these guys caved in to the corruption, I still think it's a disgusting witchhunt with corporate profits at the root of it all.