Saturday, May 31, 2008

Results of DNC-RBC Cmte.

The Democratic National Committee's Rules and By-laws Committee, after vigorous debate, basically voted to seat the Michigan and Florida delegations with 1/2 vote per delegate (pledged and super).

According to the findings, Clinton will gain 87 pledged delegates and Obama will gain 63 and Edwards will gain 6.5 (from Florida). If one assumes Edwards' delegates will shift to Obama based on Edwards' endorsement of Obama, Obama will gain a total of 69.5, not including the handful of super delegate from each state that have already endorsed him but had also been excluded from the total.

Before the new math on MI and FL, Obama had 1985 total delegates with 2026 needed to win. After the new math, something like 2105 delegates will be needed to win. Today's events give Obama just under 2055, meaning that he will carry the nomination by Tuesday's contest in Montana and South Dakota with an assist from Puerto Rico – even without securing another superdelegate endorsement before then.

I suspect the Obama campaign prefers to win the nomination as a result of an electoral contest rather than on a superdelegate's endorsement. So look forward to an awesome speech Tuesday night!

Interestingly the vote to seat the Michigan delegation, perhaps the most contentious challenge of the two as Obama's name wasn't on the ballot there and which was pushed by the Clinton campaign, won 19-8 with no abstentions out of 30.

The Clinton campaign sought to block the motion to seat the Michigan delegate, ironically, because it wanted to have the delegates given their full vote at the convention. But only 8 Clinton supporters voted that way, meaning that 5 Clinton endorsers sought to avoid a divisive and contentious outcome.

Only 8 members of the committee have endorsed Obama.

Another point of information: the proposal to seat the Michigan delegation with one-half vote each came from a joint proposal made by both Obama and Clinton supporters in the Michigan Democratic Party.

Despite the heated contest over the past year or so, the Michigan Democratic Party showed maturity and a strong inclination to unite around the nominee and the campaign to defeat John McCain in the fall.

But the process of the Democratic Party and heated discussions should not obscure the fact that this week, Barack Obama is going to win the nomination of the Democratic Party. It is an historic moment in our country's life, and the beginning of a new journey toward victory for the people and the working class in November.

[Update 1] Huffington Post has a similar total count with even fuzzier math, but you get the point.

Friday, May 30, 2008

How to travel to Cuba

Originally posted here

Bush-McCain Challenge

Top McCain Campaign Adviser Outsources U.S. Jobs

This week, it comes out that McCain is taking his economic advice from a former lobbyist for a bank with interests in the housing market. And already there’s another revelation about someone on McCain’s campaign staff: One of his top money men is responsible for outsourcing thousands of jobs.

read the whole story here...

Thursday, May 29, 2008

Sharon Stone, Jerry Falwell, Hagee and Religion by Norman Markowitz

There is an absurd story in the news today which appealed to my always dormant anti-capitalist satirical sensibility. Christian Dior, the famous French fashion house, has dropped Reagan era Hollywood star Sharon Stone as a spokesperson because she referred to the devastating Chinese earthquake as "Karmic Retribution" for Chinese policy in Tibet?

That reminded me a little of Pastor Hagee, John McCain's rejected supporter, who called Hurricane Katrina God's revenge on New Orleans for its Gay population. Or Jerry Falwell's grotesque appeal to ignorance and hate by calling AIDS God's retribution on Gays. And then there was Pat Robertson making general comments about the 9/11 attacks as retribution for America's sins.

Pre modern, press mass literacy society is filled with such proclamations announcing that natural disasters, plagues, droughts, great storms are the result of some spirit getting even with some group of humans for not following the spirit's dictates, at least as those dictates are presented by the spirit of spirits human brokers and managers.

But capitalism bifurcates institutional and ideological religion, taking away the independent wealth of the clergy in the form of great estates and control over labor, turning the various institutional religious sects into servants of the capitalist class and organizing them around capitalist profit maximization principles instead of having their leaders functions as an important part of the ruling class as in feudal societies.

Sharon Stone is a commercial product, a "piece of meat" as one Marxist critic of the Hollywood studio system once termed its stars, dressed up to stimulate the appetites of consumers and sold to them as filet mignon (A movies) or hamburger (B movies).

What does she know about Tibet or China? I doubt much of anything.Does she have any idea about Tibet's brutal feudal system over the centuries or China's nearly eight hundred years involvement in Tibet, its struggles over the last hundred and seventy years against European and U.S. imperialism, its revolution and development.

Ronald Reagan, another, lesser "piece of meat" in the Hollywood system (a B movie actor) told a group of California businessmen once that he didn't know if he would make a good governor because he never played a governor in the movies. Sharon Stone never played Queen Victoria during the Opium Wars, the unequal treaties, the bloody suppression of the Boxer rebellion. She never played China's Empress Dowager Madame Chiang K'ai-shek, or the Dalai Lama in drag.

I don't know if she was a better movie actress than Mao's famous and, to many, infamous wife, Chiang Ching, an actress in 1930s Shanghai cinema, although she certainly was in bigger budget films and didn't change her career to join a revolutionary movement, unless Christian Dior is a "front" for the French left.

Sharon Stone isn't a religious leader, even though in contemporary advertising the religious term "icon" is used loosely for her and other celebrities (no one ever called Pat Robertson an Icon to the best of my knowledge) But her use of the mystical religious concept of Karma (or fate/luck inspired by spiritual forces rewarding or punishing conduct in this or previous lives) to explain the deaths of tens of thousands of Chinese people through a natural disaster is as arrogant, vindictive, and self-righteous as the reactionary comments of the late Jerry Falwell, Hagee, or Robertson.

So why is she out of a job (at least this one) while, even with the repudiation of some embarrassed friends, they go on. First, the China market is much more important to capitalism than the Gay market (and certainly much easier to define geographically). Hagee and Robertson are also selling building their spiritual businesses by taking contributions from believers/supporters/fans, even though Robertson branched out into television in a very big way. Christian Dior is a global enterprise and China has the ability to boycott those who both vilify and seek to do business with it. Gays and others attacked by the religious right don't have that power, although entertainers, "pundits," etc. who make racist, or sexist public remarks often find themselves under sharp attack because such comments are unacceptable.(since open homophobic attacks are still part of both political and religious discourse in the U.S., bigotry against gays is still considered "normal" by larger sections of the population and less subject to punishment than racist or sexist prejudice

Sharon Stone should study some Chinese and Tibetan history (she certainly can afford it). She might even learn a little more about the concept of Karma (I am certainly no expert on it or someone who believes that any mystical ideology has any meaning except its influence on the people who do believe in it) which,from my understanding isn't so clearly about retribution and revenge of the kind that Falwell and Robertson (who perceive a merciful God for themselves and their supporters and a wrathful God for those who oppose them) routinely cite. Meanwhile, we should all be seeking to assist the Chinese governmnent and people as they seek to recover from this disaster.

Scott McClellan's Juicy Revelations about Karl Rove's Role in the Valerie Plame Affair


Former White House press secretary Scott McClellan says George W. Bush’s political guru Karl Rove arranged a private meeting with Vice President Dick Cheney’s chief of staff I. Lewis “Scooter” Libby in 2005 when the two men were under mounting suspicion for leaking the identity of CIA officer Valerie Plame Wilson.

Calling the scene “one moment during the leak episode that I am reluctant to discuss,” McClellan writes in his new memoir that “in 2005, during a time when attention was focusing on Rove and Libby, [the meeting] sticks vividly in my mind. …

“Following [a meeting in Chief of Staff Andy Card’s office], Scooter Libby was walking to the entryway as he prepared to depart when Karl turned to get his attention. ‘You have time to visit?’ Karl asked. ‘Yeah,’ replied Libby.”

Read the rest here...

Oil companies pump profits: governments sit by and watch

The price of crude oil more than doubled in 12 months and more than quadrupled in five yeas since May 2003. The big oil corporations empty people’s pockets and pump out record profits, while the government sits by and says there is little else it can do.

read the whole story here...

Wednesday, May 28, 2008


Thomas Riggins

Well we have learned lately that we have a global warming crisis and we must do something about carbon emissions (CO2 and other greenhouse gases) or else the earth is doomed.

But we also know that capitalism exists to make profits and that given the choice of making money now and killing off the planet in a hundred years or so, profit now wins.

Environmentalists who had hoped the high coast of oil and gas would limit consumption and help reduce pollution will be disappointed. All over the world governments and companies are turning to coal for new power plants. Coal is the worse of all the carbon based pollution sources-- much worse than oil and gas.

Knowing this one would expect coal to be off limits due to the global warming emergency. But the NYT 5/22/08 reports just the opposite. An article in the Business Section ("A Global Comeback for Coal: Oil Prices Spur a Surprising Surge In Mining Operations" by Martin Fackler) gives the details. The bottom line: oil is getting scarce and expensive, coal is cheaper, there is lots of it, lets get it and use it-- to Hell with the environment.

All the floods, storms, tidal waves, famine, diseases, and deaths resulting from increased global warming will take place in the Third World (hopefully). The tornadoes in the US midland and hurricanes like Katrina are just flukes-- not to worry.

Remember folks, this coming election for CEO of America, Inc. is about us and the economy-- the planet is someone else's problem. You don't agree? Then take a look at McCain's environmental record. He's at the bottom of the barrel as a US Senator, if he becomes CEO of America, Inc. things can only go down hill.

Missouri: Anti-Affirmative Action Petition Defeated

Missourians accomplished something this month no other state has when faced with a similar challenge. The people of the "show me" state scored a major victory May 4th when a campaign led by California millionaire Ward Connerly failed to deliver the required number of signatures to get an initiative on the November ballot.

read the whole story here...

"Bomb, Bomb, Bomb Iran" McCain's Chant Becomes Closer to Fruition

Thomas Riggins

I remember a few months back seeing McCain on TV doing this little chant for his fellow moral defectives at a rally. Our intelligence agencies seemingly put the kibosh on this when they announced it looked like Iran had abandoned its nuclear weapons program, if it ever had one, several years ago. Then the International Atomic Energy Agency said they had no evidence of an arms program and that Iran was cooperating. Israel continued to insist the Iranians were trying to make the bomb and so did the Bushites here at home. The fact there is no evidence of the bomb is itself evidence of the bomb and the cleverness of the deceitful Iranians. So goes the logic of imperialism.

Now a wonderful gift has been handed to Bush. The NYT headlines on page 1 for Tuesday May 27:


The new IAEA report has fallen like manna from Heaven to feed the war frenzy gripping Bush-Cheney-McCain and their followers. They will assume a "We told you so" righteousness and the bombing plans will be revived with a vengeance. Already the TV news has reported a "high official" in the Bush administration has said that a bombing attack on Iran could come in a matter of a few months.

In the body of the article we are informed that the IAEA says much work must "still be done before definite conclusions about the nature of the program can be made." This will take many months.

There is one definite conclusion we can draw. The lack of definite conclusions will not stop Bush-Cheney-McCain from drawing definite conclusions. Iran should be more forth coming with the IAEA because the war maniacs in Washington are chomping at the bit and looking for any excuse to widen their middle east war.

Tuesday, May 27, 2008

Films in Review: 2008 at Cannes

Film Review: Comment on Cannes

Eric Green

Cannes' 61st Season

Cannes is a term that has come to represent celebrities, new international films, recognition of actors and actresses and, of course, money and power as reprented by the outrageous expenditure of money in that Souther French town.

Most US theater goers who have an interest in Cannes events look forward to the desgniation of the best films and acting performances. The titles of the awards are in French and are often confusing. But, this year one film has captured the attention of the whole festival and much of the international theater world. That film is the 41/2 hour film by Steven Soderbergh, "Che." The comments from US commentators are predictabley mixied.

"…but, his brutal role in turning a revolutionary movement into a dictatorship goes virtually unmentioned." Leave it to the NY Times to inject their anti-communism into tCannes. Given the myriads of NY Times articles against the widening array of Commmunist and progressive Central and Latin America, this kind of comment is to be expected. But, even with that cold ward caveat, A.O. Scott, leading Times film reviewer had to give the impression that it was a good film. On the last day of the Cannes, Benicio Del Toro was awarded the best actor award for playing Che Guevara.

British filmmaker, Steve McQueen, received the Camera d'Or for best feature film. The film is about the Irish hunger strikers and especially, Bobby Sands. The film takes place in the early 1980s. Needless to say this not the Steve McQueen people in this country are familiar with. He is a well known Black filmmaker from England.

But, the Palme d'Or was awarded to French filmmaker Laurent Cantet. His film is about life in a French school through the eyes and life of Francios Begaudeau, whose autobiography the film is based on. To complete the picture, Begaudeau plays himself in the film. When this film was awarded the best him award, kids who are both students at the school and also play themselves in the film were invited on to the stage. It was reported as a very wonderful experience.

This year Sean Penn chaired the awards committee.

At the time of the Festival, "Che" still did not have a US distributor. That will change soon. The next hill to climb will be theater goers to settle down to a rather long film.

Book Review/Summer Reading: The Silence of the Rain

Book Review/Summer Reading

Eric Green

The Silence of the Rain
Luiz Alfredo Garcia-Roza
Picador; $14.00
261 pages

Inspector Espinosa is the focus through which readers can get a glimpse into the criminal and "family" life of Rio de Janeiro people. The plot is a rather simple one with some twists and turns that readers will not have any trouble following. The book was written in Portuguese and then translated into English by Benjamin Moser.

The plot involves life insurance policies, life in the corporate world in Brazil and Espinosa's real and imagined love life. There are enough murders to keep your interest.

This book is a real summer read whether you'd be in the mountains or at the beach or resting at home given gasoline prices.

Film Review: The Fall

Film Review: The Fall

Eric Green

The Fall
Tarsim Singh

The Fall is one of those movies that you wish could have been done in a different way. All the ingredients were there. They just needed to be put together in a more effective way.

The film takes place in the 1920s, in Hollywood, with the backdrop being the use of stunt men in films. The historic film footages used are very entertaining.

Another interesting aspect of the film is that it was produced over a 4 year period in 18 difference countries and locations. Amazingly, none of the locations was in Hollywood or anywhere in the US.

The plot is a rather simple one. A stunt man falls and gets seriously injured and ends up in a hospital where he is very depressed about his future, not the least of which losing his lover, a key film actor to a competitive actor.

While this character, played by Lee Pace, an young, new actor from the US, born in Oklahoma, is sort of central to the film, young character, about 5 years old, is played by the actress, Catinca Untarn.

Untarn plays a precocious girl in the hospital also due to a fall. She is an incredible actor. Her character is a daughter of Romanian farm workers in Los Angeles.

The fantasy part of the film is quite gigantic. While the footage in the hospital is all black and white, the fantasy worlds of both main characters are gloriously colorful.

Tarsim Singh, the co-writer, director, a financier of the film it is reported has a very well known career in the advertising field in India.

The film has many ups and downs, yes, uneven. It is a good example, why, very creative people like Tarsim Singh, who clearly have plenty of money could have used a different director.

Yet, I would recommend seeing the film. It will hold your attention.

John McCain: Mission Accomplished

"I am saddened by the way we misled the American people, but I certainly wasn't a part of that." -- John McCain on his role in promoting the Iraq war.

See the video:


Monday, May 26, 2008

Memorial Day Reflection

Thomas Riggins

Here is just a snipet from the New York Times today "...Given public indifference to a war that refuses to end..." This is standard media baloney. The Times goes on to make points based on this "indifference", but it is the Times, not the public that is indifferent. The American people threw the Republicans out of the Congress and put the Democrats in power to END THIS WAR.
It was not the public that was indifferent. The leaders of the Democratic Party have turned out to be the ones who are indifferent.
If Obama wants to win he must respond to the will of the people. There could be no greater disaster than a win by McCain. It would be like the Manchus, the Dowager Empress retains power, Dynasty doomed. Franklin said, "You have a Republic, if you can keep it." If McCain wins you can kiss it goodbye. Its Memorial Day-- all those who died for "freedom"-- betrayed by their own government. Its the progressive movement that honors them.

FARC Confirms Longtime Leader, Manuel Marulanda, is Deceased

FARC leader Manuel Marulanda has been reported as deceased by his organization. FARC has waged a guerrilla war for decades against the pro-US regimes in Colombia.
Originally uploaded by Pan-African News Wire May 26, 2008

BOGOTA (AFP) - - Colombia's leftwing FARC guerrilla army on Sunday confirmed that its founder and longtime chief, Manuel Marulanda, has died after leading a bloody, four-decade long campaign against Bogota.

The announcement by the Revolutionary Armed Forces of Colombia came a day after the Colombian government said Marulanda, nicknamed "Sureshot" by his comrades, had died on the evening of March 26.

"The great leader has gone," a member of FARC's secretariat, Timoleon "Timochenco" Jimenez, told Venezuela's Telesur, which was picked up by Colombian television.

Marulanda, 80, died after from an apparent heart attack and Jimenez said he would be succeeded by Alfonso Cano, the group's ideological chief who is seen as more of a moderate and intellectual.

The death of FARC's leader represented a major setback for the rebels, already struggling from battlefield defeats at the hands of the US-backed Colombian government forces, and prompted speculation the guerrillas might release hostages.

Bogota's report on Saturday of Marulanda's death had been followed by an announcement by President Alvaro Uribe, who said that some FARC leaders were ready to free high-profile hostages such as French-Colombian politician Ingrid Betancourt.

Defense Minister Juan Manuel Santos on Sunday called on the new FARC leader, Cano, to enter into negotiations and abandon the group's armed struggle which he said had come to nothing. "The door to achieve peace is open," Santos told a press conference.

"Three of your leaders are under ground, use this opportunity to demobilize, otherwise we will pursue military operations with more intensity," he warned.

The government said earlier that Marulanda's death "would be the hardest blow that this terrorist group has taken, since 'Sureshot' was the one who kept the criminal organization united."

The elusive Marulanda founded the FARC over four decades ago and has been rumored to be dead at least 17 times.

Marulanda turned a group of 48 armed farmers in southern Colombia into a thousands-strong organization which has fought the government and right-wing paramilitaries in a civil war that has claimed more than 200,000 lives.

The FARC has become South America's longest-running and largest insurgency. The rebels are believed to hold an estimated 750 people hostage, and traffic drugs to fund their insurgency against the government.

Uribe said on Saturday he had received "calls from the FARC in which some of the leaders announced their decision to leave the FARC and hand over Ingrid Betancourt if their freedom is guaranteed.

"The government's answer is 'yes, they are guaranteed freedom'" if they handed over hostages, Uribe said.

In a speech carried live on national television, Uribe said those leaders of the FARC who free the captives could be turned over to authorities from "France, so that they enjoy that freedom there."

French Foreign Minister Bernard Kouchner on Sunday called Uribe's comments "very good news" but expressed concern that Bogota may be preparing to launch an army assault on rebel territory.

The FARC have in their control Betancourt, a former Colombian presidential candidate who is both a Colombian and French national, three US nationals and dozens of Colombian police and military staff. They want to swap the hostages for some 500 imprisoned comrades including three in US jails.

Betancourt was seized by the FARC in 2002 while campaigning for the presidency, and has been held ever since.

In Paris, Betancourt's mother and sister immediately launched a fresh appeal for her release, calling on the new FARC leader to make history.

Such a release would "trigger decisive action from France and the international community to reach a humanitarian accord and put Colombia on the path of peace", their statement said.

Pictures released in November showed her looking frail and the French government has warned that she may be gravely ill.

Fox "jokes" about murdering Senator Obama

Many liberals and progressives have long regarded Fox News as a "blast from either the McCarthyite (at best) or Hitlerite (at worst) past, but the "joke" by a Fox News commentator that Senator Obama (whose name she scrambled with Osama) should be "knocked off" (she then smiled that both of them should be) is a lot closer to Adolf than to Joe. Or, if it doesn't offend Fox white supremacy mentality, the Japanese militarists who in the 1930s when Japan still had elections and a civilian government, assassinated officials whose policies they didn't like.

Is this statement racist? Sure. Is it an appeal or at the very best a smug wink at terrorism directed against a U.S. Senator and Democratic presidential nominee? Sure. If a private citizen made such a statment in a letter or before the Democratic convention would he or she not be arrested? Of course. If the commentator had said "Murdoch, McCain" instead of "Osama Obama" would she now be fired and also unemployable in the media that the rightwing calls "liberal?"

You bet.

I doubt that the commentator will be arrested under the Patriot Act and put into preventive detention at Guantanamo (I would not support that although if the shoe were on the other foot I am sure Fox would). I doubt there will be an FCC investigation, given the composition of the FCC. I also doubt that the INS will launch a deportation case against Murdoch for using his media empire to foment terrorism (the present government in Australia anyway would not be to his liking). But what the Democatic Party and all progressive and anti-racist groups should do is call upon advertisers to end their advertising on Fox and call for a boycott of the products of those who don't. That Murdoch would understand.

Sunday, May 25, 2008


READING LENIN: Materialism and Empiro-criticism [ 16 ]
Thomas Riggins

Using our editor's blog to further Marxist education seems like a good idea. So here is a famous work of Lenin's that outlines what Marxist philosophy is all about. It's 100 years old this year and we might ask ourselves what is still valid in this classic. Have new philosophic developments in the last 100 years made this work outmoded? I'm going to post some reflections on the book section by section and anyone who wants to read along and comment is welcome to do so. I hope to post weekly updates and Sunday seems the best day to this as it is a free day for me.



How is this philosophy doing 20 years on from its hay day with Mach and Avenarius? Like any ideology, Lenin says, it "is a living thing which grows and develops," so let us see what it is doing today (1908). Lenin picks a book to look at ("Introduction to Philosophy",1903) by Hans Cornelius. Cornelius is recommended by Mach himself. Well, Cornelius ends up with
immortality and God, yet claims to be neither an idealist nor a materialist!

This shows that Lenin's contemporary, Bogdanov is all wet in understanding what is going on in philosophy as he makes the claim that God, free will, and immortality cannot fit into Mach's philosophy. How then can Mach see Cornelius as a disciple?

The whole thrust of this section is show how, in philosopher after philosopher, English, French, or German, Mach's and Avenarius' philosophy of empirio-criticism is used to justify fideism and all sorts of religious notions. We need not go over these philosophers as they are not particularly well known today (2008). The Russian Machist "Marxists" seem oblivious to all this and write as if Machism is new form of philosophy outside of the confines of fideism.


Bogdanov claims to be following Engels' views (referred to as "the sacramental formula of the primacy of nature over mind") but Lenin will show that this is hooey. In "Empirio-monism" Bogdanov writes that "he regards all that exists as a continuous chain of development, the lower links of which are lost in the chaos of elements, while the higher links, known to us, represent the EXPERIENCE OF MEN -- psychical and, still higher, physical experience."

But this is not Engels and it certainly is not materialism. "Nature," Lenin points out, "is in fact reached [by Bogdanov] as the result of a long transition, THROUGH ABSTRACTIONS OF THE 'PSYCHICAL'." A few lines later Lenin says, The essence of Idealism is that the psychical is taken as the starting-point; from it external nature is deduced, AND ONLY THEN is the ordinary human consciousness deduced from nature." We know that the "elements" referred to in the "chaos of elements" are equal to "sensations."

Bogdanov denies all religions, yet his philosophy is a gateway to fideism since the inchoate elements/sensations have a physical origin from which the human mind deduces the physical world. No matter how "atheistic" a philosopher may be, this road always lead to "God" in one form or another.

Bogdanov speaks of "cognitive socialism" arising as a result of humans socially organizing their experiences. This is "insane twaddle" according to Lenin. "If socialism is thus regarded, the Jesuits are ardent adherents of 'cognitive socialism', for the starting-point of their epistemology is divinity as 'socially-organised experience.' And there can be no doubt that Catholicism is a socially-organised experience; only, it reflects not objective truth (which Bogdanov denies, but which science reflects), but the exploitation of the ignorance of the masses by definite social classes."

However, no philosophy is stagnant and Bogdanov's has evolved over the years from his first book (1899) to the present (i.e., Lenin's present, 1908). There have been four stages in the development of Bogdanov's thought: 1) a "natural-historical" materialist phase when he was "semi-consciously and instinctively faithful to the spirit of natural science; 2) he became a follower of Ostwald's "energetics"* described by Lenin as "a muddled agnosticism which at times stumbled into idealism." Ostwald's "Lectures on Natural Philosophy" is dedicated to Mach. 3) Bogdanov, without completely leaving Ostwald behind, soon went over to Mach. 4) Trying to eliminate the subjective idealist elements in Mach, Bogdanov wrote his "Empirio-monism" in order "to create a semblance of objective idealism."

Lenin says that Bogdanov is now 180 degrees from his starting point. He now has a 5th stage to go through and he can return to the ranks of the materialists. He must reject all that remains of Machian idealism in his thought. Lenin will have to wait and see if he does. [But you can check out the Bogdanov article in Wikepedia to see what happened to him.]

*Wilhelm Ostwald (1853-1932) won the Nobel Prize in chemistry in 1909.
There is a short but interesting article about his life at:
HYLE--International Journal for Philosophy of Chemistry, Vol. 12, No.1 (2006), pp. 141-148. HYLE Biography Wilhelm Ostwald (1853-1932)
by Mi Gyung Kim-- you can just google: Wilhelm Ostwald energetics.


This section is a supplement dealing with some crticisms from the Machist side of propositions coming from the Marxist side. Our old friend Bazarov has a good time making fun of an error of Plekhanov's-- namely his theory that sensations are symbols or "hieroglyphs of real things and not their copies and images. Sticking with Engels, Lenin says, "Engels speaks neither of symbols nor of hieroglyphs, but of copies, photographs, images, mirror-reflections of things."

Bazarov attacks Plekhanov, however, not to correct him according to the views of Engels, but to indirectly attack Engels by making fun of materialism from a Machist standpoint disguised as "Marxism." To clarify what is going on, Lenin will discuss Helmholtz's* ["a scientist of the first magnitude"] theory of symbols (symbols, hieroglyphs, are the same) and how it was criticized by both materialists and Machists, as well as by other idealists.

Like most scientists Helmholtz's philosophical opinions are confused and inconsistent, according to Lenin. But let's see if we can give Helmholtz the benefit of the doubt. The following quote from his "Physiological Optics" Lenin cites as an example of "agnosticism": "I have ... designated sensations as merely SYMBOLS for the relations of the external world and I have denied that they have any similarity or equivalence to what they represent."

Helmholtz is seemingly contradicting Engels. But let us agree our sensations give a "photograph" like image of reality. But a photograph of a cat is completely different from a cat. To actually be an agnostic Helmholtz would have to say that he doesn't know if there is anything in the external world responsible for his "cat" image (or "symbol") and that perhaps it comes from some internal psychic process that we do not know about. But he does not say that.

Here is what he says, "Our concepts and ideas are EFFECTS wrought on our nervous system and our consciousness by the objects that are perceived and apprehended." Lenin says this is "materialism." The objects exist independently of us. But this does not contradict the previous statement. When I see a red rose I do so because my eyes have evolved to react to visible (to humans) light which is a small band of waves on the electromagnetic spectrum along with radio waves, X ray, infra red and ultra violet waves, etc. Bees have evolved eyes that can see ultra- violet waves which we don't detect. Our "red rose" looks very different to a bee. The rose is red for us, in itself it is much more than it is for us. This is the sense which Helmholtz means by our sensation being a symbol.

Lenin and Helmholtz may be just having a verbal disagreement and not a disagreement of substance. Lenin says because Helmholtz says our sensations are symbols of the external world which, when we learn to read them properly can "direct our actions so as to achieve the desired result....," he has lapsed into "subjectivism" and a denial of objective truth and reality. This is too strong and I believe it is incorrect. The rose is part of objective reality-- it is red for us and ultra-violet for the bee. That the red rose is a symbol of my love-- is that objective or subjective?

I also think Lenin is wrong to say that Helmholtz presents a "flagrant untruth" when he says "An idea and the object it represents obviously belong to two entirely different worlds...." Helmholtz is only saying, more or less, what Plato (I think truthfully) would have said, viz., when I look at the "Mona Lisa" my sensation is not the same as the picture on the wall, and the picture on the wall is not anything like the woman painted by Leonardo.

That this is so is seen when Helmholtz says, "As to the properties of the objects of the external world, a little reflection will show that all the properties we may attribute to them merely signify the EFFECTS wrought by them either on our senses or on other natural objects." Lenin also says this is materialism.

All these terminological arguments are rooted in the Kantian background of many German thinkers. Most of whom would be on exhibit in Lenin's Museum of Reactionary Fabrications of German Professordom. Lenin wants us to believe that our knowledge comes from interaction with the real world and is not a priori (google this term)-- i.e., given to us before any possible experience. But is not the following an a priori statement, even a Kantian one (!)-- before you see anything at all in the world you know it must reflect a certain narrow band in the electro-magnetic spectrum. If it doesn't it may exist but you will never see it, just as you will never hear the sound your dog hears from the dog whistle. And if this is an a priori truth gained from experience then it is a synthetic a priori truth, and Kant's philosophy is back on the table. Materialism will have to deal with it.

Lenin concludes that Helmholtz is a "shame faced materialist" with a Kantian slant, just as Huxley, save that the latter's slant was towards Berkeley. That Kantian element in Helmholtz is totally non necessary because he has a basically realist (materialist) position. Lenin provides a quote from Feuerbach's student Albrecht Rau to back this up. "Had Helmholtz remained true to his realistic conception, had he consistently adhered to the basic principle that the properties of bodies express the relations of bodies to each other and also to us, he obviously would have had no need of the whole theory of symbols; he could then have said briefly and clearly: the sensations that are produced in us by things are reflections of the nature of those things." Helmholtz has fallen victim to Ockham's razor.

Lenin ends this section by noting the critics of Helmhottz from the Machist side object to his being too much of a materialist, and concludes that Plekhanov did make a mistake when he was explaining materialism, but that Bazarov only muddied the waters and finally, from Kant and Helmholtz "the materialists went to the left, the Machists to the right."

Next week we will take up with section 7 "Two Kinds of Criticism of Duhring."

Hermann Ludwig Ferdinand von Helmholtz (August 31, 1821 – September 8, 1894) was a German physician and physicist who made significant contributions to several widely varied areas of modern science. In physiology and physiological psychology, he is known for his mathematics of the eye, theories of vision, ideas on the visual perception of space, color vision research, and on the sensation of tone, perception of sound, and empiricism. In physics, he is known for his theories on the conservation of energy, work in electrodynamics, chemical thermodynamics, and on a mechanical foundation of thermodynamics. As a philosopher, he is known for his philosophy of science, ideas on the relation between the laws of perception and the laws of nature, the science of aesthetics, and ideas on the civilizing power of science. A large German association of research institutions, the Helmholtz Association, is named after him.-- from Wikipedia. The whole article is worth reading. Helmholtz University was one of the major institutions of the DDR.

See Reading Lenin 15 here...

Thursday, May 22, 2008

Editorial: Hypocrisy on veterans

This Memorial Day, we think about the more than 4,000 U.S. soldiers dead and the tens of thousands wounded in body and mind in a war based on lies, pushed by a clique of right-wing militarists and their corporate backers.

rread the full story here...

Wednesday, May 21, 2008

Barack Obama and the working class

The media loves to talk about how the working class isn't behind Barack Obama, or at least the whites in the working class. Of course, they ignore the fact that more than 9 in 10 African Americans and Latinos are working class, and that the millions of whites who have already cast their votes for Obama are not all capitalists – birkenstocks and lattes aside.

It is convenient for them to ignore the 17 million working class whites, African Americans, Latinos, Asian Americans, Native Americans, and Pacific Islanders, all across the country who have made Barack Obama the presumptive Democratic nominee and will be there on November 4th full of enthusiasm and joy to make him the next president.

Yesterday in Oregon, which is 85% white, for example, Obama won 57% of whites. 26% of Oregon voters were members of "union households" and by a margin of almost two-to-one, Obama collected their support. He won voters who live in families that earn less than $50,000 by 9 points.

Today, Obama collected the endorsement of the United Mine Workers of America, which has thousands of members in Appalachia where Obama supposedly lacks support from white Democratic voters.

In a press statement, UMWA President Cecil E. Roberts said, "Senator Obama shares the values of UMWA members and our families. He understands and will fight for the needs our members have today and the hopes our members have for a secure future for themselves and their families," union president Cecil E. Roberts said in a press statement.

"Senator Obama will fight to preserve American jobs, not ship them overseas in greater and greater numbers," Roberts said. "Senator Obama will make sure that the nation's mine safety and health enforcement agency actually enforces the law, instead of coddling mine operators who repeatedly and willfully violate the law."

UMWA is the 9th AFL-CIO affiliated union to back Obama. So far, 13 labor unions whose memberships total more than 7 million people have backed him.

Clearly, Obama has the ability to bring different sections of the electorate and the working class together to win this thing. The media has to stop showing its ignorance and biases by trying to divide up the working class by race, as if we don't share many of the same aspirations and the same aim to end the Bush years and to prevent more of the same from John McCain.

Tuesday, May 20, 2008

UN Millennium Development Goals Review

by Mike Tolochko

The Millennium Development Goals [MDGs]
Third World Summit

Monday, May 19, 2008
Location, Conference Room 2
United Nations, USA

A brief report.

It was not clear who was in charge of this important meeting where Kofi Anan's epic initiative on the MDGs would be discussed and possibly evaluated. The three-hour meeting was brought to order by the head of the powerful UN Department on Economic and Social Affairs, ECOSOC. But, then in her introductory remarks she drew attention to the Virtue Foundation and a group called, Women Together as the launchers of the meeting. It was hard to figure out what was going on.

The Virtue Foundation was established and is essentially run by a NYC dental philanthropist and Women Together is a NGO working mostly out of Barcelona, Spain.

At the outset it was clear that this would not be what many had hoped for, i.e., an evaluation of the progress being made by each of the 8 MDGs. The MDGs were launched about 8 years ago and there are just 7 more years to go.

It turned out that those reporting on the goals would be showing some examples, very limited examples, of how each of the Goals could be achieved. They did not seem to be charged with evaluating progress on that Goal.

Goal #1 Ending Poverty

A leader from an international credit agency called, Microcredit Summit Campaign, showed how lending a few dollars to people in dire poverty significantly help elevated that person out of poverty. The solution was clearly a market solution and not one that would be government driven.

The role of the International Monetary Fund, the World Bank and the World Trade Organization were not even mentioned.

While this report, probably the most important of the MDG, was clearly not getting very far, the representative of the group stepped out her role as a banker. She made it clear to everyone in the room that the recent skyrocketing cost of food is setting back all efforts to move toward the elimination of poverty by 2015. She said the cost of food is up 30% and rice is up 50%. This is very bad for the most impoverished countries. She said that, for example, in Sri Lanka where 80% of income is spent on food; the percent is now far higher. In developed countries, the percent is in single digits. The year of 2007 up to present is a food crisis period that must be addressed.

Goal #2 Primary School Education

This report focused only on limited progress in a few Central America countries. The educational conditions in Nicaragua were reported as being very poor. They reported that for this Goal Costa Rica, Panama and Honduras are doing pretty good.

Goal #3 Gender Equality and Empowerment of Women

This reporter focused on Brazil where she said progress was being made, but a backlash was taking place against the progress. She called for help there. The reporter was very distressed at these developments.

Goal #4 Child Mortality

The example here was pediatric hospital in Barcelona where administrators made the atmosphere a better place to delivery services. Barcelona is a very advanced developed country with resources far greater than the countries that are receiving MDG attention. Somehow, this example bore little resembles the tremendous problems of child mortality in developing and exploited countries.

Goals #5 & #6 Maternal Death and HIV/AIDS

The physician, from a major NYC academic medical center, delivering this case example spoke about the value of drugs to curb the HIV/AIDS crisis. The report was more pure research and clinical rather a policy driven. That was about it.

Goal #7 Environmental Sustainability

A corporate representative gave this very brief presentation. No mention was made of the UN's concentration around Climate Change and other environmental problems.

Goal #8 Global Partnership for Development

The only reporter to actually deliver a policy approach to the MDGs and one, which former UN Secretary-General would have been proud of, was Mireia Belil, from Barcelona and head of a group called Forum de las Culturas Foundation. Her brief comments were right to the point. She quoted Albert Einstein in regard to how to achieve the MDGs by the year 2015, "No problem can be solved from the same level that created it." This is probably her version that if your part of the problem, you cannot be part of the solution.

She showed a lot of fire by her very aggressively stating that, "Money is NO excuse for not achieving the goals." She added, "The money is there; redistribution is the issue." She received strong applause.

NGOs Speak UP

During the very brief question and answer part of the day, each NGO representative expressed frustration at the day's reports. One representative was particularly angry that there was not even one mention of the Goals and African and Southern Asia.

Whither the MDGs?

Given the nature of the Reports and the very poor turnout, less than 100 were in the large room, the future of the MDGs doesn't look good. The three-hour meeting was extremely disappointing.

Book Review: Human Traces by Sebastian Faulks

Book Review/Summer Reading

by Eric Green

Human Traces
Sebastian Faulks
Vintage International Books; $15.95
Page 655

The remarkable ability of Sebastian Faulks to keep readers at the edge of their minds when he develops his characters within extremely difficult periods of time is once again present in his new novel, Human Traces. His war, I would say anti-war, trilogy starting with the great World War I epic, Birdsong, continuing through the mid years with The Girl at the Lion d'Or and finishing with the also great book on World War II, Charlotte Gray, constitutes a masterpiece of literature.

Faust's honest and forthright approach has made all of the novels very significant. For leftists, his honest portrayal of the great historic role of the French Communist Party in Charlotte Gray gave filmmaker, Gillian Armstrong, the opportunity to repeat the heroic role on the silver screen, Hollywood. Billy Crudup played Julien Lavade, the symbolically key role during the resistance; and in her film using the same name; Armstrong made it crystal clear that he was a Communist Party leader. Revisionist history, especially since 1991/92 has tried to all but eliminate Communist Party involvement in these struggles.

The recent republication of H.L. Humes', 50 year old novel, Underground City, made that role all the more significant.

It is that same, matter-of-fact honesty through which Faulks takes readers in "teaching" many of us about the medical practice and research that took place in the latter half of the 19th Century and into the early part of the 20th.

At he conclusion of this book, Faust gives readers his "references" that put fact to the novelized fiction of his fictionalized medical scientists. This is a Faulks trademark of literature.

Human Traces involves English families coupled with French medical scientific counterparts, but given the emerging times, international characters creep in from Austria, Germany and even Russia. A trip to California is even included.

Oh! I failed to mention Faulks' medical scientists are mental health specialists, alienists of the day. Mental health topics either repel or attract readers; or, often at the same time.

The often-grim circumstances of mental illness those days are not glossed over, nor are it romanticized. "It is as it is" or was as Faulks sees it. As the novel continues these doctors end up being labeled psychotherapists and psychiatrists in the 20th Century.

The two future psychiatrists, Thomas and Jacques, standout as medical students with very strong academic and professional goals and then achievement. Oh, those goals. But, Faulks doesn't allow these future leaders to exist solely in their medical scientific successes and failures. The reader is also drawn into their very personal lives.

Faulks is also know for having strong woman characters in his novels, and Human Traces is no exception. Sonia, Thomas's sister, the center piece of the novel, has a wondrous and lively family life. Kitty survives the mental health systems of the times to also enjoy a good family life. Mom's clubs even existed in those days. Both Sonia and Kitty also become strong administrators and teachers. Faulks includes patients like Daisy and Mary in his lexicon of strong women.

The epic nature of the novel goes over a 70-year period, couple with the dramatic events taking place in Europe at that time.

As the novel moves into the 20th Century and disagreement between nations began to surface and confrontations started, my mind drifted to Birdsong. It was clear that that "War to end All Wars," would again exact its toll.

Again, the Batter of Somme turns up. I am reminded of Charles Todd's series of English detective, mysteries with detective Ian Rutledge, a living victim of the Somme.

I don't believe it is an accident that the Iraq War along with the worldwide threat of imperialism, especially US imperialism didn't keep these focuses on war by modern novelist and mystery writers.

The book is a little long, but the writer gets you through quickly so that you would like more at the end.

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George Bush, John McCain Think Israelis are Appeasing Terrorists

According to Israeli news sources:

Israeli Vice Premier Haim Ramon said Monday that the Jewish state is holding talks directly with the Palestinian movement Hamas, despite a government decision forbidding such moves.

This is the first time that Israel has officially admitted any direct contact with the militant group that the Jewish state regards as a terrorist organization, local daily Yedioth Ahronoth reported on its website.

The talks "are in direct defiance of the government's resolution, according to which Israel would agree to talk to the group only after it accepts the conditions set by the Quartet," Ramon admitted at a meeting of lawmakers from the Kadima party.

The Quartet of the United States, Russia, the European Union and the United Nation has demanded Hamas recognize Israel, renounce violence and ratify past agreements and the road map.

Israel is negotiating a possible ceasefire in the Gaza Strip and the release of kidnapped soldier Gilad Shalit with Hamas, apparently with Egypt being the middleman, in a manner, the report said not to breach the "political siege" Israel imposed on Hamas since its violent takeover of the coastal strip in June last year.

Commenting on the stance of Israeli Prime Minister Ehud Olmert and some other ministers that Shalit's release must be included in the truce deal, Ramon, however, said the two issues should not be linked together, as "a humanitarian one" has nothing to do with "the war on terror."

Monday, May 19, 2008

Obama's Visit to Portland, Ore.

Police in Portland estimated that 75,000 people came to this event:

Sunday, May 18, 2008


READING LENIN: Materialism and Empiro-criticism [ 15 ]
Thomas Riggins

Using our editor's blog to further Marxist education seems like a good idea. So here is a famous work of Lenin's that outlines what Marxist philosophy is all about. It's 100 years old this year and we might ask ourselves what is still valid in this classic. Have new philosophic developments in the last 100 years made this work outmoded? I'm going to post some reflections on the book section by section and anyone who wants to read along and comment is welcome to do so. I hope to post weekly updates and Sunday seems the best day to this as it is a free day for me.


SECTION TWO: "How the 'Empirio-Symbolist' Yushkevich Ridiculed the 'Empirio-Criticist' Chernov"

Yushkevich attacked Chernov for saying that Mikhailovsky* (who was influenced by Comte and Spencer) was a forerunner of Mach and Avenarius. He appears to think Mach and Avenarius are very different birds from either Comte or Spencer.

Lenin says this shows that Chernov is an "ignoramus in philosophy." The idealist and agnostic trends in philosophy are represented by Hume and Kant as well as by Comte and Spencer, Mikhailovsky and Mach and Avenarius, and also the Neo-Kantians.

Materialists reject this whole trend however it appears as Neo-Kantianism or as "positivism (Comte). Yushkevich's hairsplitting differentiation's cannot change the fact Mach and Avenarius regularly praised both Hume and Kant and so his attack on Chernov is meaningless. Yushkevich is trying to focus us away "FROM THE ESSENCE OF THE MATTER to empty trifles."

Lenin also notes that among the idealists and agnostics various eclectic mixtures of Kant, Hume and Berkeley are possible with different philosophers stressing different combinations.

He particularly mentions T.H. Huxley ("the famous English scientist") who came up with word "agnostic." The English agnostics, Lenin says, probably inspired Engels' term "shamefaced materialists." Huxley, for example, while rejecting materialism and claiming that if forced to choose an outlook would choose idealism because "our one certainty is the existence of the mental world", nevertheless also says "there can be little doubt that the further science advances, the more extensively and consistently will all the phenomena of Nature be represented by materialistic formula and symbols."

Huxley mixes up Hume and Berkeley just as much as Mach or Avenarius, but the latter two are out and out idealists and subjectivists in their intentions, while for the former "agnosticism serves as a fig-leaf for materialism."

*Nikolai Konstantinovich MIKHAILOVSKII, 1842-1904: "Russian publicist, sociologist, literary critic, and one of the theoreticians of the Narodnik (Populist) movement."-- from the Great Soviet Encyclopedia

SECTION THREE: "The Immanentists as Comrades-In-Arms of Mach and Avenarius."

Lenin now turns to the philosophy of the immanentists (W. Schuppe 1836-1913, A. v. Leclaire, J. Rehmke 1848-1930, & R. Schubert-Soldern 1852-1924) little remembered today. For them truth comes from within not from without and Lenin says they are in the same trend as the empirio-criticists. Lenin writes it is "Mach's opinion that this 'new' philosophy is a broad CURRENT in which the immanentists are on the same footing as the empirio-criticists and the positivists." The immanentists, for their part, have a similar view about their relation to Mach and Avenarius. They are milk siblings.

Charles Renouvier (1815-1903 French neo-Kantian, foundedr of "neo-criticism") is next on Lenin's list. His philosophy is a mixture of Hume and Kant. He supports religion, ultimately, and completely rejects any independently existing thing-in-itself. The Russian Machists face a charge of "guilt by association" [not always out of place] since they rely on Mach, and F. Pillon (1830-1914), a follower of Renouvier, says that to a great extent "Mach's positive science agrees with neo-critical idealism." One of Renouvier's ideas is that the present universe (!) came into being when a primitive humanity fell out of harmony with the Cosmic Order thru egotism and injustice. "Birds of a feather...."

Lenin says the Russian Machists are "ashamed" of their relationship to the immanentists and fudge what the latter say; they "are afraid to tell the plain and clear truth" about them. Which is that, "There is NOT ONE of them who has not FRANKLY made his more theoretical works on epistomology lead to a defense of religion and a justification of medievalism of one kind or another."

The section closes with a few more examples of what these philosophers peddle. Lenin says their views will end up in "the museum of reactionary fabrications of German professordom" A few Russians, I think, may also be exhibited as, for instance, Bazarov who says "sense-perception IS the reality existing outside us."

As for the German speakers, we have Schuppe maintaining that the external world "belongs to consciousness" and Schubert-Soldern holding forth against the "metaphysics" of a really independent objective world. We needn't quote the rest of gang.

Lenin has made his point that the Russian "Marxists" trying to blend Mach and Marx are unwitting reactionaries in philosophy. "Only among the handful of Russian Machists does Machism serve exclusively for intellectual chattering. In its native country its role as a flunkey to fideism is
openly proclaimed."

Next week we will start off with Section 4 of Chapter 4: "In What Direction is Empirio-Criticism Developing"

See Reading Lenin 14 here

Saturday, May 17, 2008

Is it Monty Python or Just Another Day in the McCain Campaign

by Norman Markowitz

The news of the day was filled with surprises. John McCain addressed the National Rifle Association and mocked Barack Obama's knowledge of duck hunting, while putting while proclaiming his unyielding support for the only amendment of the Bill of Rights that the rightwing wholeheartedly supports--the second amendment (he said that it was "unique" in the world).

It would be foolish to even suggest to McCain that the second amendment was not enacted to insure every citizen the right to accumulate weapons in a free and open market (at the time, fire arms were very primitive even by late 19th century standards and the majority of people couldn't easily afford to purchase them) but as a protection against illegal searches and seizures, detentions without warrants, coerced self-incriminating testimony, arbitrary denials of speech and assembly, and other actions associated with the British colonial rule that most of the rest of the Bill of Right adressed and that today resemble contemporary Bush administration policies. McCain, in the past he acted more like conservatives in the rest of the world in supporting restrictions on some weapons purchases. However, as an NRA leader said on his behalf, he opposed in the Senate a ban on contemporary assault weapons with which, I would say, an individual could possibly take out the Minute Men standing at Lexington.

Meanwhile, the news tells us the Bush administration is preparing for its own little Devil's island or perhaps little Siberia, a huge new prison on the U.S. base in Afghanistan to house foreign terrorists(but if history is any judge, who knows who will eventually end up there). I guess it makes a certain sense. More weapons here and abroad mean more crime here and abroad mean more prisons here and abroad to deter crime and fight "terrorism."

By the way, McCain was speaking before the NRA with two of his former opponents, Mitt Romney and Mike Huckabee (whose grotesque "joke" against Senator Obama tells you pretty much what he thinks of both his audience and himself) the ever popular Karl Rove, and Oliver North, the big sucker in the arms for hostages deal that the Iranians tricked the Reagan administration into and. of course, the "statesman" who concocted the scheme to siphon off some of the illegal funds gotten from the arms deal to the Nicaraguan "contras."

Perhaps McCain will advocate the globalizing of the Second Amendment as the essence of U.S. democracy, establishing an inalienable human right to own firearms and committing the U.S. to work to help developing nations gain the mass purchasing power so that their citizens can purchase firearms (from American firms). McCain may also call upon the NRA to work directly with the United Nations, the IMF, and the World Bank to advance this policy. It is probably the only national and international economic policy that his new found ultra right friends could wholeheartedly support. Monty Python would understand. So would Jonathan Swift.

Hawai'i Hotel Workers Appeal for Solidarity


We've been asked by a union representing hotel workers in Hawaii to help bring a successful end to a six year long struggle for union recognition.

Pacific Beach Hotel workers have had enough of management lies, threats, intimidation and bribes. Their campaign has won the full support of unions in both the United States and Japan, as well as global union federations (the ITF and IUF). Now that we have an online campaign to put pressure on management, it's very important that all of us take a moment to send off a short message of protest:

Our experience shows that hotels are particularly vulnerable to this kind of online campaign -- which why it's so important that we make a big push to get thousands of supporters.

Whole Foods Breaks Their Promise

From the United Farmworkers:

On April 14, a delegation of workers from Beef Northwest met with Whole Foods' Vice-President Edmund La Maccia and presented a copy of the online petition that more than 13,000 people signed. During the meeting, the Whole Foods representative said he was moved by the workers' stories. He said he would contact Beef Northwest and urge that they sit down with the UFW to resolve this issue. He told the workers he'd let us know how Beef Northwest responded.

His promises excited the workers. However, it appears they were only words. To date, Whole Foods is back to ignoring the UFW’s e-mails and phone calls.

Meanwhile, the Beef Northwest continues to pressure farm workers who support the UFW. Workers are afraid for their jobs and tired of company pressure. Fortunato Diaz, one of the workers who went to Austin, tells us about the increasing pressure he must endure since he went to talk to Whole Foods. He said, "The attention in my work has been more towards myself from the supervisors of this company because they are checking my work more that what they used to. Basically what they are doing is spying on me and the supervisors are just waiting for any little mistake from me so they can fire me."

Whole Foods sells approximately 60% of all Country Natural Beef produced at the Beef Northwest Feedlots. Tell Whole Foods that their lack of response is not acceptable.

Send Whole Foods an e-mail today. It's time for Whole Foods to do the right thing and not just talk.

Friday, May 16, 2008

John McCain's ties to tyrants

McCain Campaign Threatens Oregon Union Members with Arrest

John McCain paid a visit to Portland, Ore., this week. As usual, AFL-CIO union members came out to try to speak to the presumptive Republican presidential nominee about important issues—and, as usual, they were turned away.

read the whole story

Film Review: Redbelt

by Eric Green

David Mamet film

Don't miss this film. But, when you sit down in the theater, make sure you have a good seat belt [regardless of the color].

This is another David Mamet film that will excite you and put you on the edge of your nerves for the entire time of the film.

Granted, you have to like the Mamet style of film making; and, in this instance, you have to have some interest in the philosophy of martial arts. The emphasis on and the struggle to maintain its original philosophy is what sets this film apart from other martial arts films.

Remember, Mamet dialogue is very quick, repetitive and raw. Transitions between scenes and within scenes are quick….you have to be very attentive. Some filmgoers will remember his House of Games and the Spanish Prisoner films. Mamet is a very unique filmmaker.

Turns out that Mamet is something of a martial arts fan and participant. That is another aspect that makes this film all the more realistic.

The other part is the Brazilian/Japanese connection. No, not the Japan on its homeland island thousands of miles away. This refers to the highest concentration of Japanese people outside of Japan itself, that being Sao Paolo, Brazil.

Redbelt is held together by the amazing acting performance of Chiwetel Ejiofar an English actor of African descent and with a flawless U.S. California accent. He did that incredible performance in the gripping film about the unlawfull international trading in human organs, kidneys, "Pretty Dirty Things."

Most of the Mamet film assemble is back together again lead by Joe Mantegna, Tim Allen and Rickey Jay. Another English actor, Emily Mortimer, plays a lawyer who keeps Ejiofar to his principles. Alice Braga is cast at Ejiofar's Brazilian wife. Alice Braga is a niece of the incredible Brazilian actor, Sonia Braga.

This film will end up within the Academy Awards orbit; just how many they receive will depend on other films. No question that Ejiofar will be high on the list.

Rebecca Pidgeon created the music for the film. The score and lyrics were an excellent mix of Brazilian lyrics and music and California sounds, the location of the film. She also sings a couple of the songs that she wrote, one along with her husband, David Mamet.

Let the contest begin.

Thursday, May 15, 2008


PA has a backlog of good books we need to review so we are asking for volunteers. We will send you the book and you will send us an 800 word review within a couple of months. This is a great way to get new books and sharpen your critical skills. Depending on need your review will appear in the print edition of PA, the on-line PA or the editor's blog. No matter where, you will be doing us and yourself a favor. The following 5 books are available now-- please contact me at

1. The War for Wealth: The True Story of Globalization, or Why the Flat World is Broken by Gabor Steingart.

2. Soldiers of Reason: The Rand Corporation and the Rise of the American empire by Alex Abella

3. International Justice and Impunity: The Case of the United States ed. by Nils Andersson

4. Democracy's Prinsoner: Eugene V. Debs, The Great War, and the Right to Dissent by Ernest Freeberg

5. The Last Campaign: Robert Kennedy and 82 Days that Inspired America by Thurston Clarke.

Steelworkers Endorse Obama

Announcing its "respect" for Sen. Hillary Clinton, the United Steelworkers of America (USW) endorsed Barack Obama for president today.

The USW statement reads:

"Now is the time for contention and division to cease, and for us to unite behind the changes for which Senator Obama and our members are calling."

The USW had previously endorsed John Edwards, and this announcement comes a day after Edwards endorsed Obama.

The USW is the eighth AFL-CIO affiliated union to back Obama and has 600,000 members. Its strongholds are in Ohio, Pennsylvania, Indiana, and Michigan.

Take U.S. Forces out of Iraq to Achieve Peace

The U.S. Bush administration is taking steps toward perpetuating the stationing of U.S. forces in Iraq ostensibly to forge cooperation with Iraq at Iraq’s “request.”

read the whole story here...

Keith Olbermann Slams Bush for Golf Comments

Wednesday, May 14, 2008

It's Over

by Norman Markowitz

John Edwards is about to endorse Barack Obama for President. Edwards will release his pledged delegates, who presently number 18. Although they don't have to vote for Obama, most are expected to. But Edwards endorsement should really end the contest.

It should convince Hillary Clinton that she cannot win the nomination whatever happens in the remaining primaries; whatever settlement is made over Michigan and Florida. Although the estimates vary, the well respected McClatchy News Service sees Obama needing around 150 delegates before the Edwards endorsement and Clinton 313 delegates after her West Virginia victory. Edwards endorsement will add delegates to Obama's column directly. The remaining primaries will not significantly enable Clinton to cut into Obama's delegate lead (his lead may even widen).

Edwards endorsement should (and probably will) encourage senior party Super Delegates to follow George McGovern and endorse Obama now. Obama may have the necessary majority weeks before the convention. He will inevitably have it at the convention.

As someone who has little sympathy for Clinton's campaign or her larger role in politics, all that I can say is that she should withdraw for herself, for her political future if she wants one. As of now, the more she hurts Obama, the more she hurts herself. It is in her interest to withdraw as graciously as possible and support the national ticket as fully as possible. Even a politician with no real interest in anything beyond self advancement would do that at this point. Richard Nixon might not, but I don't think that Hillary Clinton is the type to make a "You Won't have Clinton to Kick Around Anymore" farewell address to the

NARAL Endorses Obama

By Joel Wendland

Hopefully, the announcement today by the National Abortion Rights Action League (NARAL) of its endorsement of presumptive Democratic nominee Barack Obama will put to rest persistent but erroneous rumors started by some within the Clinton camp that Obama is bad on women's reproductive rights.

Of course the endorsement would have been much more helpful in avoiding some of the recent divisiveness if it had been made sooner.

The announcement reads in part:
We have been so fortunate to have two fully pro-choice candidates running for the Democratic nomination, and we praised both Sen. Clinton and Sen. Obama for their leadership in standing up for women's reproductive rights.


To win in November, NARAL Pro-Choice America will educate swing voters who can tip this election: Republican and Indepdendent women. And we cannot let one more day go by without comparing Sen. Obama's fully pro-choice record to Sen. McCain's anti-choice record.

On one hand, we have Sen. Obama—who has been a fully pro-choice ally from day one and whom women can trust.

And on the other hand, we have Sen. John McCain—who has gone even further than George W. Bush in his anti-choice rhetoric by directly calling for the Supreme Court to overturn Roe v. Wade.

Demand Congressional Investigation into Signal International

From Jobs with Justice:

After Hurricane Katrina, billions of dollars poured into the Gulf Coast region to rebuild.

Unfortunately, many corporations used these funds to enrich themselves instead of investing in the devastated communities. When Signal International needed workers to rebuild the shipping industry, they did not hire and train the local population. Instead, Signal used the exploitive ?guest worker? visas and corrupt recruiters to hire cheap labor.

Welders and pipe-fitters from India paid recruiters up to $20,000 for the promise of temporary visas for themselves and their families. Upon arrival to the U.S. these workers were placed in cramped, unsanitary housing, charged exorbitant rent, had their passports taken from them, and were even physically beaten when they spoke out against these unacceptable
conditions. Their working and living conditions in the Gulf Coast amounted to modern day human slavery.

On March 6, more than 100 workers broke the human trafficking chain and quit their jobs at Signal in protest. These workers, together with the New Orleans Workers Center, are carrying
forward the struggle for justice not only for themselves, but also for all immigrant workers in the U.S. by exposing the fundamental injustices of the guest worker program. These workers have toured the U.S. telling their stories and have appealed to Federal Government to investigate Signal International and their recruiters, only to be surveilled by Immigration and Customs Enforcement.

Today, Wednesday April 14th, these brave workers are starting a hunger strike to demand action from our elected officials.

You can help! Please urge your Representatives in Congress to hold hearings on Signal International and to grant asylum to the workers.

You can take action via the web at:

"Change" Happening in the Deep South

He may not be the next member of the Progressive Caucus, but the newest member of the House of Representatives Rep. Travers Childers (D-MS) added to the Democratic majority after a huge victory in a special election May 13 in a traditional Republican stronghold.

Signaling their likely campaign rhetoric for the fall general congressional elections, the Republican candidate linked Childers to Obama and Nancy Pelosi. It would be simply delightful if exit polls could be taken to show that many Mississippi voters must have thought, "Hey, that's right. Childers is like Obama and Pelosi," as they went out to the polls to vote for him.

[Update] In fact according to the LA Times, the Republican commercials played clips of Rev. Jeremiah Wright, attempting to link Childers via Obama to Wright. Obviously Mississippi voters aren't as stupid as the Republicans think they are.

This is the third special election for Congress in the past month or so in which a Democrat has won in a traditionally Republican district, including in neighboring Louisiana and in former House Speaker Dennis Hastert's old district in Illinois.

Tuesday, May 13, 2008

Young workers discuss future in labor movement

“Why don’t young workers have an affiliate within the AFL-CIO?” This was one of the questions raised on May 3rd in a strategy session held at the National Conference of Jobs with Justice.

read the whole story here...

Monday, May 12, 2008

Data on Bush's Wars


1,668,000 service members deployed to the Iraq and Afghanistan wars, about one-half of one percent of the 300 million U.S. population.

Nearly 100 percent involved in combat for more than six years in Afghanistan and more than five years in Iraq.

600,000 estimated casualties from both wars so far, where only half sought medical care.

500,000 deployed twice or more into combat – which increases risk of post traumatic stress disorder by 50 percent.

300,000 treated at VA hospitals after their return home – and VA still lacks a plan to handle the flood of casualties.

288,000 filed claims against VA for military-related disabilities, and again VA has no plan.

58,300 forced to remain in war under stop loss – military orders that force a soldier to remain in the military past the end of their enlistment contract.

43,000 deployed combat after they were already declared unfit by a doctor – with broken legs, brain damage, and post traumatic stress disorder.

120 veterans complete a suicide every week. And 1,000 attempt suicide while under VA care each month. This is VCS in action, working hard to ensure that America does not forget about the sacrifices of our servie members, veterans, and families make.

Sunday, May 11, 2008

Film Review: Iron Man

by Eric Green

Iron Man Exposes the Disastrous Arms Race as perpetrated by the United States.

Film Review: Iron Man

If moviegoers get past the Hollywoodisms and the other "distractions" they will learn something about the military industrial complex.

John Favreau, as the Director and Executive Producer of Iron Man, has a major success on his hands. Fortunately, the message of the film is a direct response to the out-of-control U.S. arms merchants. The special effects, lighting, coloring and general computerization of life is almost bewildering, but just inside the realm of disbelief.

Jeff Bridges plays the role of the profit-thirsty corporate executive who has no redeeming qualities. He does a great acting job.

On the other hand, Robert Downey, Jr., in probably an academy award-winning role, is cast in the role of Tony Stark, the heir to the arms merchant, with all the accompanying playboy failings. Downing is far older than he actual character. But, he makes it work.

But, after an inspection of his corporation's weaponry in Afghanistan he uncovers a side of his business, Stark Industries, that he was unaware. He is captured and interestedly tortured, he goes through a transformation that moviegoers will very much enjoy. It is all sort of predictable, but enjoyable anyway.

Terrence Howard is the decorated Air Force general and the military advisor to the arms merchant; and, does a great job.

Gwyneth Paltrow does an admirable job as Downey's assistant and close confident.

The movie is a simple moralist film, but the message, hopefully most of the moviegoers get the message, is an important one.

Marvel Studios, which produced Spiderman and other major productions, is behind this one also. The grist of the film comes from a Marvel comic book. In the comic book, which starts in the early Reagan period, 1980, the writer cast he is hero as an anti-communist fighter, but rather quickly that image changed. I never was a comic book reader, but delving into an Internet search, you'll find the whole history of iron man and his sequels.

It was good to see Downey, once again, back at the top of his acting after his heart rendering personal struggles. I believe we have a lot to look forward to him. We can only hope he is offered roles like his amazing performance at Charley Chaplin.

Book Review: Finn

by Eric Green

Finn In the Time of the Year 2008 Elections

Summer Reading: "Finn" by Jon Clinch
Random House Trade Paperback, $14.00

This won't be a long book review. It would have been a long one had I read the original Mark Twain's, Huckleberry Finn, but I didn't. With the Tom Sawyer books, these were often considered the first novels in this country.

In fact, when I starting reading Finn I had to keep my eyes to the page/grind stone; and, I am very happy I did. I generally don't like reading deep regional dialects and these related words that accompany such dialects from the deep South, especially during that time period. But, this book is very different. Maybe, I should revisit Mark Twain. After all this year 2008 elections certainly deals with many of the same themes.

The writer, Jon Clinch is able to transport the reader back in time into a Southern era among working class people where life was raw and unforgiving. The human emotions of love and hate couple with the raw reality of racism, slavery and gender jumps out at you….page after page after page. The often confusion that surrounds these emotions and cultural issues morphs together around characters as drawn by Clinch in an amazing manner.

Clinch fashions a novel around the early years of Huck Finn through the life and times of his father simply referred mostly to as just, "Finn." You learn a lot about the Black women whom Clinch has made his mother. This is a truly remarkable woman. Finn on the other hand is not a sympathetic person, on the contrary, you want to reach in to the book and ring his alcoholic, racist and anti-woman neck. But, he was Huck Finn's father, at least, in this book.

In the book's epilogue, Clinch provides the reader some insights into previous literary assertions in regard to the possibility that Huck Finn was the son of a Black mother and a white father.

The raw and forthright writing of Finn reminds one of Cormac McCarthy novels; Jeanette Walls', "The Glass Castle;" and the Pulitzer Price winning novel by Juno Diaz, "The Short Wondrous Life of Oscar Wao."

Get this book for your summer reading, you won't be disappointed.


READING LENIN: Materialism and Empiro-criticism [ 14 ]
Thomas Riggins

Using our editor's blog to further Marxist education seems like a good idea. So here is a famous work of Lenin's that outlines what Marxist philosophy is all about. It's 100 years old this year and we might ask ourselves what is still valid in this classic. Have new philosophic developments in the last 100 years made this work outmoded? I'm going to post some reflections on the book section by section and anyone who wants to read along and comment is welcome to do so. I hope to post weekly updates and Sunday seems the best day to this as it is a free day for me.


SECTION SIX: "Freedom and Necessity

This is a short section but exceedingly interesting. It begins with a quote from Lunacharsky praising Engels for having a "wonderful page" in "Anti-Duhring" which he says is a "wonderful page of religious economics." Lunacharsky says this might lead a non-religious person to "smile." Lenin says it rather leads not to a smile but a feeling of "disgust" with his (Lunacharsky's) "flirtation with religion." This, along with the last section, is giving me the impression that Lenin didn't care much about religion.

The passage from Engels is so important that Lenin quotes it in its entireity, and I must also if we are to see how wacked out Lunarcharsky's interpretation is. Here is what Engels wrote:

"Hegel was the first to state correctly the relation between freedom and necessity. To him, freedom is the appreciation ["recognition" is usually used] of necessity. 'Necessity is BLIND only INSOFAR AS IT IS NOT UNDERSTOOD.' [Actually, Hegel got this from Spinoza. It ultimately derives from the Stoics.--tr] Freedom does not consist in an imaginary independence from natural laws, but in the knowledge of these laws, and in the possibility this gives of systematically making them work towards definite ends. This holds good both in relation to the laws of external nature and to those which govern the bodily mental existence of men themselves --- two classes of laws which we can separate from each other at most only in thought but not in reality. Freedom of the will therefore means nothing but the capacity to make decisions with knowledge of the subject. Therefore the FREER a man's judgement in relation to a definite question, the greater is the NECESSITY with which the content of this judgement will be determined.... Freedom therefore consists in the control over ourselves and over external nature, a control founded on knowledge of natural necessity."

According to Lenin, Engels is making four important points in this passage (none of them having anything to do with being soft on religion). First, the recognition of objective laws of nature and natural necessity-- i.e., materialism. Second, "the necessity of nature is primary and human will and mind secondary." Third, he accepts "blind necessity" i.e., "the existence of a necessity UNKNOWN to man. Fourth, he jumps from theory to practice and it is this practice which "provides an OBJECTIVE criterion of truth."

All this adds up to the fact that Engels' views are entirely based on the philosophy of dialectical materialism. The Russian Machists take a little bit of diamat from Engels (the "wonderful pages"), a dash from Marx, then some idealism and agnosticism from Mach, mix it all together "and call this hash a DEVELOPMENT of Marxism." As far as Lenin is concerned they are nothing more than "philosophical obscurantists." The Russian "Marxists," inspired by Mach, continue to see him and empirio-criticism, not as a part of the subjective idealist movement or as an eclectic mix, but as compatible with the ideas of Marx and, for most, those of Engels as well. Now it is time to move on to Chapter Four.


SECTION ONE: "The Criticism of Kantianism from the Left and from the Right"

The first point Lenin makes is that Mach himself states, in "Analysis of Sensations," that he started out as a Kantian and then identified more with Berkeley and Hume. So there is no doubt about his relation to the Idealist tradition. But what of Avenarius?

Avenarius claims that as far back as 1876 he, though liking Kant, was the first to "purify" him by getting rid of the a priori nature of reason (i.e., the categories or filters by which we MUST experience the world) and by dumping the "thing-in-itself" because it is not experienced but, he writes, "imported into it [experience] by thought."

Lenin says that Avenarius' views are the same as Mach's and that it is not true that he was the first to object to apriorism and the "thing-in-itself." In 1792 Schulze-Aenesidemus [Aenesidemus, an ancient Skeptic, was the pen name of Gottlob Ernst Schulze 1761-1833, Schopenhauer's teacher at Gottingen] had made the same objections. They had also been made by Fichte. The "thing-in-itself" was too much of a concession to materialism and the categories were not themselves experienced, being preconditions.

The Russian Machists have missed the point that Avenarius and Mach have criticized Kant from the Right (idealism) not the Left (materialism). What is more, they have made (they being Bogdanov, Bazarov, Yushkevich and Valentinov) the charge that Plekhanov has made a "luckless attempt to reconcile Engels with Kant by the aid of a compromise -- a thing-in-itself which is just a wee bit knowable." Lenin says this quote from their works shows a "bottomless pit of utter confusion'' both of Kant and of classical German philosophy [one of the three component parts of Marxism].

Lenin says, "The principal feature of Kant's philosophy is the reconciliation of materialism with idealism, a compromise between the two, the combination within one system of heterogeneous and contrary philosophical trends."

Yes, but here is a question to think about. Why is this not a dialectical unity of opposites, a synthesis of a thesis (idealism) and antithesis (materialism), making Kantianism a higher philosophy than either of the others? Why is dialectical materialism so hostile to Kantianism rather than trying to make a synthetic unity with it?

At any rate, the Russian Machists did not notice, I think, that Lenin is saying when Engels or Plekhanov use the term "thing-in-itself" they are not referring to Kant's transcendental noumena but to the objective independently existing objects we find in the real world. Plekhanov is not trying to "reconcile Engels with Kant."

Lenin ends this section by quoting Feuerbach and his follower Albrecht Rau (can't tell you much about him: if you are not in Wikopedia you do not exist) and Engels' disciple Paul Lafargue as well as Kautsky (his book "Ethics") about the perils of Kantianism and he concludes by saying, "Thus the ENTIRE SCHOOL of Feuerbach, Marx and Engels turned from Kant to the left, to a complete rejection of all idealism and of all agnosticism."The Russian Machists may call themselves "Marxists" but they are far from Marx and his ideas in philosophy.

Next week we will pick up with Chapter 4 Section 2.

See Reading Lenin 13 here.

Saturday, May 10, 2008

Bush and Blackwater: Is this the a new stage of "Repressive Tolerance"

by Norman Markowitz

The State Department has renewed Blackwater's contract to "protect" its diplomats in Baghdad. Why is this significant? It means that all of the U.S. and international press exposes have not had any meaning whatsoever. The House Investigation of Blackwater's activities did not have any meaning whatsoever. The denunciations of the Iraqi government (which believes that Iraqi civilians and, even worse, a bodyguard to the Iraqi Vice President, were killed by out of control Blackwater employees) have not had any meaning whatsoever (what a lesson for the Iraqis in "democracy").

The State Department says that it needs Blackwater because it is the only private contractor with the capacity to protect State Department officials in Baghdad. Why can't the U.S. military do it, as it has through U.S. history? The State Department doesn't say. Why are private armed forces operating throughout Iraq, sometimes as cross purposes with the military? Why is the State Department giving contracts to firms whose actions undermine its diplomatic activities and humiliate the government which it is trying to prop up? Nobody in the government is talking.

These questions can best be answered by following the money. Even the military is a public sector enterprise and the more its services can be outsourced and privatized, the better in terms of capitalist profit. If this makes the job of policing Iraq and controlling its oil harder, so what? This will only mean more troops and more contractors and more profits. You may call this vulger Marxism but this is a pretty vulger government representing the most reactionary, warlike, and pretty vulger sections of the capitialist class (I hope Texas oil men don't see that comment as elitist).

But these weren't the questions that came to my mind when I read this story. I immediately thought of the philosopher Herbert Marcuse, a Marxist influenced German refugee whose writings became influential in some New Left circles in the 1960s Marcuse in books like One Dimensional Man developed the concept of repressive tolerance in capitalist countries like the U.S. By that he meant that anti-capitalist organizations and publications are not banned as such but marginalized and ghettoized – you can find them only if you look for them very hard. You can subscribe to them if you have the courage to but they are not on news stands and they won't be commented on in the media. Opponents of the establishment are not banned from participating in elections, but they get no air time. The society is organized top down to ignore them, to give them the right to speak and never listen to them and then proclaim that the fact that they can speak and write without going to jail is proof that we are living in an "open society" and a "free country."

But "repressive tolerance" in the U.S. was aimed at Communists, socialists, class conscious trade unionists and before the 1960s Civil Rights activists and environmentalists, even medical researchers publishing studies that showed the dangers of smoking. Mainstream media and elected politicians were its practitioners, not its targets.

What does it mean when the crimes of a Blackwater or a Halliburton are exposed over and over again and the federal executive does absolutely nothing, except to continue to reward the firms? Can we say that we have a "free press" because of the exposes? That we have a "two party democracy" because House Democrats led by Representative Henry Waxman (D-CA) gave the Blackwater CEO a going over and investigated his company's sorry activities?

The repressive tolerance that Marcuse analyzed was about marginalizing free and critical thought while pretending to defend free and critical thought. It was about taming and repressing dissidence. The Blackwater story is about marginalizing mainstream media as anything more than a propaganda organ, and simply not hearing anything from Congress that the executive doesn't want to hear. As such, it is about taming and repressive much of the center, ignoring the forms of what Marxists and Communists call bourgeois democracy, which, if it is "tolerated" over a long period of time, will take the form of a de facto and possibly de jure open dictatorship.

Friday, May 9, 2008

What We Can Do to End the Race for the Democratic Nomination

by Norman Markowitz

I thought that I would respond through the blog to a reader's
thoughtful comments on my last blog article, suggesting that Clinton
was at checkmate. Here in New Jersey, where virtually the entire
Democratic organization backed Clinton and she did win the primary, I
and others are calling our congresspeoples' offices, our Senators'
offices, and the Governor's office and calling upon them to change
their endorsements now and endorse Senator Obama in the name of party
unity and the necessity of preventing a bitter battle at the
convention which will only aid McCain and the Republicans. We are
also trying to access various Superdelegates(many of whom are party
leaders) and tell them the same thing.

From press reports, it is becoming clear that after Clinton's
failures in North Carolina and Indiana, Democratic party leaders who
previously endorsed her are beginning to quietly withdraw her support.
The mass media, which has been overwhelmingly for her in its
coverage, is also beginning to say that her situation is impossible
and becoming more critical of the campaign that she has and is running.
Our readers who support the Obama campaign should begin to call their
Democratic representatives, Senators, Governors, Clinton supporters
and uncommitted, and call upon them to endorse Obama now. McCain, in
his recent outrageous attack on Obama on Hamas and support for Israel,
knows that Obama will be his opponent in the fall. All that Clinton
can accomplish through her campaign now is to join with McCain in
attacking Obama

As for Michigan and Florida, there is no conceivable way that she can
get those delegates except through a coup at the Democratic
convention. No political organization can permit or does permit
chapters of the organization to openly violate the organization's
rules for their own purposes and then be rewarded by getting what they
wanted by their violations. The state Democratic parties in Florida
and Michigan brought this on themselves.

As a U.S. political historian, I know that convention battles in the
past over disputed delegations have hurt parties(in 1912, it led
Theodore Roosevelt and his supporters to walk out of the convention
and form a third party, the Progressive party) Clinton won't do that,
but the talk that I have been hearing from her supporters here, that
she would stage some kind of picket and protest of her unseated
Florida and Michigan delegates outside the convention, is exactly the
kind of scenario which all Democratic Party leaders, including her
supporters who want to win the election in the fall, should be worried

So, I do see Clinton in reality at checkmate, even though she can
refuse to concede that and, unlike chess, continue to move in ways
that hurt Obama, to in effect try to take him down with her. She has
no moves left that can win her the nomination and this is point that
we should be making to those who endorsed her and those who remain
Norman Markowitz