2016 Election, GOP, history, Nations, News, Socialism, Uncategorized, Writing

Notes Under The Pavement: 1/10/17

The US media, or at least that vast Nixonian [un]silent majority that represents the media Left of Center to  Right of Center and every CNN & TIME Magazine in between, now seem content with dryly reporting the bare facts of Trump’s misdeeds pre-Presidential misdemeanors with aw shucks faux shock. The insufferably bourgeois hip-Left news dumping ground Huffington Post (or “HuffPo” to the denizens of the portmanteau saturated social media world) posted a headline, Trump Denies Mocking Reporter With Disability, Even Though It Appears He Did, attached to a bricolage of links and tweets mixed into a brain dead snark-filled navel gazing exercise disguised as click-bait. “Appears” to have? APPEARS TO HAVE? Not only did “HuffPo” plaster the drooling, spasmodic pantomime performed by Trump all over their front “page”, they lionized themselves for their moral superiority in denouncing this obviously horrid abuse of his privilege & power for weeks on end. Giving even the hint of self-doubting deference now to a living, toupee abusing example of confirmation bias shows how low the media mojo has sunk in the age of right wing reactionary driven”Facts are what you FEEL” information nihilism.

This Barney Fife approach to media due diligence may keep their readership (or the firewall flouting “Nine of Ten articles remaining this month” group which plays the part well enough) mollified & with enough full of self-righteous pride to keep clicking past the pleas to subscribe & keep the first amendment alive, but it is not what a republican system descending into kleptocracy needs to survive. There is such an  air of affected incredulity emanating from the offices of the Times, Post & Co. that one would be forgiven in believing Claude Rains’ ethically pragmatic Capt. Renault had returned from the dead in order to run the UPI wire.

The refugees from the erstwhile Grand Obama Coalition are still milling about, shiftless, abandoned by their great Pant-suited Hope, desperate for a political gong to bang which will summon forth a new New Deal (or at the very least a new Great Society) but settling instead for gloomy Wednesday (Thursday, Friday…) quarterbacking over an election that was lost as soon as the rust belt & the Jim Crow 2.0 voter suppression Governors heard dog whistle to end all others, “Make [White] America Great Again.” With the swearing in of Trump less than two weeks away, the White Liberal base is getting more and more enamored with token gestures of “Resistance”, lapping up the trickle down pat public declarations and demonstrations of safe, easily retweeted self righteous indignation by aging and burgeoning Progressive Icons™ like Meryl Streep, Mark Ruffalo, and Rob Reiner, or Elizabeth Banks. All the while, the newly panicked Liberal popular vote majoritarians continue, as they always do, to ignore, turn up their noses to, or pay lip service towards true examples of resistance and push back from the radical Left, LGBTQ, Black, and Native American communities. Ms Streep gets a million twitter bromides and a heroic profile on every major media front page while the concrete, community driven direct revolutionary actions of Black Lives Matter or the continuing pogrom against Trans women of color are brushed aside with a heart emoji or a generous “like”.

To top it all off, Russia has emerged once more as the Great Foreign Adversary of the moment, bedeviling the inexorably collapsing Pax Americana with the specter of sexy Russian spy/spin masters & crafty hacker-warriors electronically burgling an electronic Watergate. we are told to be afraid, very afraid for our “democratic values”, which are only ever invoked when they are justifiably sneered at by our fellow nation states/Masters of the Universe. This time it is the turn of the Liberal Left to take up the McCarthyite torch, and they are not wasting any time red-baiting grammatically and intellectually challenged Right Wing Depolorable media personalities, whose only familiarity with Lenin consists of their belief that he declared long ago that “Happiness is a Warm Gun”. Ostentatious Patriotism is once more the hobby horse of jack-asses.

—L’Ennemi

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Civil rights, Politics

We White Liberals Need To Listen & Learn

Marissa Johnson, left,  Mara Jacqueline Willaford and Sen. Bernie Sanders, far right  (AP Photo/Elaine Thompson)

Marissa Johnson, left, Mara Jacqueline Willaford and Sen. Bernie Sanders, far right (AP Photo/Elaine Thompson)

I will say upfront that I like a lot of what Bernie Sanders says he stands for: I support his position on student debt relief and free college tuition, he says the right things and supports the relevant bills regarding financial regulation and the breaking up of the big banks. He seems to be supportive of LGBT Rights and has a relatively sane point of view when it comes to foreign policy (with the exception of a little too friendly attitude to Israel, who I actually see as an enemy to the interests of our country). I will consider voting for him in the Illinois Primary next year, and I probably will end up voting for him as I will cut off my own hand before voting for that hawkish corporatist shill Hillary Clinton…

Here comes the “But”…

I am concerned about the response Bernie Sanders has had to the black activist movement in particular and the Black voting bloc in general. African Americans are THE key voting block that lets the Democratic Party get into power at all. Without the almost unified Black Vote in presidential elections, every President after Lyndon Johnson would have been a Republican. Bernie Sanders seems to have the “all lives matter” mentality when it comes to his policy prescriptions i.e. if we reform the economic and regulatory systems of the US everyone will benefit and advance equally. US History has shown that is never the case. From the New Deal to Federal Housing Assistance to the Great Society to Welfare Reform in the 90s, every upgrade or expansion of the welfare state has either passed black Americans behind, ignored them entirely, or in the case of Housing actively held them back. I am not saying that Bernie Sanders’ remedies will have the same issues, but there is no historical or logical reason to believe they will be any different. If Sanders wants to really address the true institutional racism problem in the US he will embrace the Black Lives Matter movement’s values totally, and start an ongoing dialogue with the black communities across the US in order to understand what THEY think must be done to address the deeply racist United States government and society. He is a older, White, Upper Middle Class, man in a position of power.That is a fact, not a condemnation, and this fact comes with its fair share of privilege and biases. Take his tone deaf response to the Black Lives Matter disruption of his appearance at the Netroots conference:

Instead of addressing the actual concerns of the Black Lives Matter protesters or even debating them on the merit of their positions, he let his privilege get the better of him and he scolded the activists. A quote from a Salon article on the Netroots debacle quotes Sanders as saying this in response to the Black Lives Matter disruption: “But I’ve spent 50 years of my life fighting for civil rights. If you don’t want me to be here, that’s okay.” He then went on to “remind” people that he “marched with MLK” and was a big supporter of Civil Rights back in the good ol’ days of white liberal activism. This is the political rhetoric equivalent of the “but some of my best friends are black” argument against examining ones own privilege. Sanders repeated this sort of defensive white liberal guilt speak when he was confronted once again at his speech in Seattle. When interrupted by protesters who said they were with the Black Lives Matter Movement (which is very much a grassroots and decentralized movement) he reacted like a deer caught in the headlights and eventually left the stage. Instead of saying he respected the fact that they were outraged over institutional racism and that he would devote his campaign to addressing the concerns of the one voting block he CANNOT afford to alienate if he wants the nomination, he harrumphed off stage and muttered aloud “I guess I’m not wanted hear.” One could almost hear the collective black political activist head slamming into the desk. Black voters are savvy, perhaps THE most savvy political bloc in the entire country (Black Women especially vote at a higher rate than any other group in the nation). They know when they are being pandered too, and also when they are being taken for granted. The response of White Bernie Sanders supporters online is not helping. When I deigned to criticize (rather gently) Sen. Sanders’ response to the disruption, I was inundated with dozens and dozens of responses saying that black voters should “know why their real friends are” and that “Bernie is the ONLY person” who can “solve” structural racism. Some even said that “those people” are not acting intelligent and don’t know how to protest “the right way” so as not to “force” white voters to not support black issues. Talk about taking a group for granted…

Political activism is messy, it is often annoying to outsiders and unpleasant. It is rarely polite or even civil. That is exactly the point though: activism is never effective unless it galls and disrupts, especially those with authority, especially those who actually have the potential to do something and the willingness to listen if pestered enough. Black Lives Matter doesn’t bother protesting Donald Trump or Rick Santorum for the same reason SNCC or MLK didn’t bother showing up at Strom Thurmond or George Wallace rallies: those on the racist and bigoted Right and Far Right will NEVER care what black protesters and activists have to say, not matter what they do or how much they disrupt or protest. They have already decided that black people are the enemy and nothing will change them. It is a waste of time, creativity, and energy to try and get the attention of folks who already see you as less than human. You make REAL change happen by embarrassing, manipulating, disrupting and petitioning moderates and liberals, people who may actually do something concrete if they see that the political stakes are too costly to ignore. But no establishment leader, no matter how progressive, will act on the issues important to a oppressed minority, even a politically essential one, unless they are MADE TO. This was proven over and over again during the Eisenhower, JFK, LBJ and Clinton administrations. Black activists have never gotten the desired results for themselves and their communities by “playing nice” with the white liberal savior of the moment. Bernie Sanders is on point with a lot of things, but he is not the “only person who can save us” or the “solution to institutional racism”. SNCC and MLK had to agitate against and antagonize liberals all over the country, from the White House and the Justice Department on down, before they deigned to do things like send in the national guard to desegregate schools or sign the Voting Rights Act. These things did NOT come about because of the beneficence of White Liberal politicians.

The great political commentator and activist Imani Gandy  got right to the heart of the issue of White Liberal privilege and political entitlement in an article on her “Angry Black Lady Chronicles” blog (which I will link to at the bottom of this post):

“As a white liberal of adult age in the 1960s, [A White Liberal was] politically required to do these things, right? And if the answer is yes—and we all know that it is—why the hell are you tossing Bernie Sanders’ record of doing them in Black people’s faces in order to shut down conversations about structural racism, police brutality, and the #BlackLivesMatter movement?”

White Liberals may have good intentions and many good ideas, but they DON’T understand what is “best” for the black community and black activists, who are as varied and diverse in their interests and issues as any other segment of the population. We have to realize that it is not Black Lives Matter who needs white liberals, but white liberals who need Black Lives Matter.

Here is a Link to the positively genius article Imani Gandy wrote about Bernie Sanders and his supporters response to Black Lives Matter: http://rhrealitycheck.org/ablc/2015/07/22/youre-white-marched-dr-king/ 

UPDATE 8/10/15

At his 27,000 person rally in L.A. tonight Bernie Sanders opened by inviting #BlackLivesMatter activists onto the stage to speak to the crowd. This information comes from Los Angeles Times politics reporter Kurtis Lee. I have to say, that is a very impressive and prompt response to the criticism leveled against him by #BlackLivesMatter and people on the far left like me. Very Impressive.

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Civil rights

Boycott Indiana!

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The people of the US have spoken, through their words, their actions, and through the actions of business that are panicking at the idea of alienating their customer base: The Indiana Religious Freedom Restoration Act is an unconstitutional, unconscionable violation of human rights and dignity.

Some have claimed that the law goes no farther than the (in my opinion superfluous and useless) Federal RFRA, but that is blatantly untrue. The Atlantic has pointed out that the law differs from the Federal one in some subtle, but key ways, namely in that it makes it much easier for a discriminating business to make their case in court that their discrimination is protected by the 1st Amendment and it gives business the right to free exercise of religion that they have never before had in this context (see this link for more details http://www.theatlantic.com/politics/archive/2015/03/what-makes-indianas-religious-freedom-law-different/388997/)

There is much confusion about the Federal Law as well. The right to refuse exists federally only in so far as it does not contradict or violate existing Civil Rights Laws and Statutes. So no, federally, you cannot refuse to serve someone based on sexual orientation and expect to get away with it in court because that is protected at the federal level and the Supreme Court has ruled that the Federal Religious Freedom Act does not apply to the states. Basic federalism. The point with this bill is that it makes it so that a person cannot sue a business for being discriminated against using civil rights violations as a basis. This goes FAR past the scope of the federal statute. It violates the 14th Amendment protection of equality under the law. A free society is not one that caters to individual beliefs and prejudices, but that which strives for equality before the law and a balance of civil rights with personal liberty. The arguments made for this bill are structurally the same as those made for segregation in the late stages of the Jim Crow south. Telling a person they cannot refuse service to someone based on an immutable part of their humanity is not communism, it is not fascistic, and it is not anti-democratic. It is not even close. It is civil libertarianism, the very antithesis of an anti-democratic philosophy. The right to refuse exists as a term of law, as a defense in a civil judicial proceeding. It is not a blank check to discriminate based on religious whims. Again, the Indiana law is actually ANTI-constitutional in that it bypasses the judicial structures that are put in place for someone discriminated against to sue for damages if they feel that the business owner wrongfully refused service.

It is heartening and inspiring that so many Americans are now standing up and refusing to accept this sort of discrimination against their LGBT friends, family members, and associates. I do not believe this sort of outcry would have happened 10 or 15 years ago, and the fact that this backlash is happening the way it is shows how much progress has been made by LGBT activists, their supporters, and in the culture at large. The expansion and acceptance of LGBT rights in the US is one of the most positive developments this nation has ever seen, especially within my lifetime (I was born in 1987, during the nadir of the Reagan regime). Let’s keep up the pressure, we must not give up the fight. This movement will not a be a success until our LGBT brothers and sisters enjoy ALL the rights straight citizens do. This is non-negotiable in the same way African American Civil Rights were, and movements like #boycotindiana are an important way that everyday citizens can make a difference. Refuse to do business in Indiana until this law is repealed! Send a message to the bigoted Governor of Indiana, Mike Pence. Together we can make this country a more accepting place.

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Middle East, Politics

The End of the Conflict Must Start Now

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I consider myself a cultural Jew. Someone who feels a close and growing affinity for this religious cum cultural tradition. I must be clear from the start. I do not believe in god, God, or gods or great spirits or unmoved mover or prophets or massiahs or gurus. The Old Testament is 95% vile and misogynistic bullshit, 2% passable to genius poetry, and 3% philosophical exploration of psychology through mythological tropes. It is that 5% together that makes the Jewish theological foundation, like the majority of Sikhism (my personal favorite religious theology) and elements of early Buddhist philosophy, essential to human art, law, culture, and modes of thought. I wish I were a Jew sometimes, in the sense that I wish I had that deep cultural tradition, a shared sense of philosophy and community. It is compelling, and at its best, beautiful. There really are too many Jewish geniuses to be listed in one sort political tract, but I must acknowledge the genius of whomever wrote the Song of Solomon, the creators of Klezmer music, Larry David, Jerry Seinfeld, the Mendelssohn siblings, the Marx Bros., Kirk Douglas…and on I could could for paragraphs. The world, which, has taken so much from the Jewish people and humanity, owes the Jewish people an incalculable debt. I love Jewish culture and the Jewish people.

Which is why it is Ironic, then, that I will most likely be denounced by many as an “anti-semite” (a terrible and in many cases completely deserved condemnation) for what I am about to say:

The United States should support an amendment in the United Nations (such as it is now with the current permanent member veto charade) calling on any nation that considers itself “free” or “humane” to send peace keeping officers, health and mental healthcare personnel, and a court of inquiry into charges of crimes against humanity committed by the Government of Israel through its racist and xenophobic colonizing laws and executed by its military arm the Israeli Defense Force (IDF). Jerusalem should be made into an internationally protected and neutral city, with equal right of access to those of all religions, philosophies, and creeds. There will be no weapons allowed in Jerusalem. A truth and reconciliation commission will be established to allow for a process of regional and cultural healing. The Palestinian people will be allowed to travel and live freely throughout what is now known as Israel and the same goes for the Jewish people still living there. Jews will be allowed unlimited emigration to the region of Palestine with the understanding that all people must live together and as political and social equals. Israel/Palestine will be an international protectorate policed and defended by a UN force headed by soldiers from the 5 permanent members of the UN Security Council amounting to no more than 20,000 soldiers and 5000 Military Policemen at any one time. The military element of the protectorate will be headed on a revolving basis by an independent council of retired officers from the armed forces of each of the 5 permanent members of the UN Security Council. The people of Israel/Palestine are free to leave the state or enter it at will, and each permanent resident over the aged 16 or older would be eligible to vote for representatives to a regional assembly to govern regional economic, social, cultural, and healthcare concerns. A local police force composed of members of all of the ethnic and religious groups of the region will be maintained. All political and military prisoners on either side will be unconditionally released.

This is a beginning. Only a beginning. This is not about Jews. This is not about Palestinians or Muslims or Christians. This is about fascism, racism, and injustice. This is about a festering sore on humanity, the conflict of the Monotheisms in the Levant, must come to an end. Now. Let us have a Middle East that can truly embody the blessing

ברכת הבית:
בזה השער לא יבוא צער.
בזאת הדירה לא תבוא צרה.
בזאת הדלת לא תבוא בהלה.
בזאת המחלקה לא תבוא מחלוקת.
בזה המקום תהי ברכה ושלום.
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Socialism

On Austerity and Power

USSR

Are there any parallels in recent history that will help us understand the predicament that the US finds itself in regarding systemic corruption and capitalistic power? At the dawn of the 1990’s the Soviet Union seemed to be on the verge of true change in favor of civil liberties and more economic democracy. Gorbachev was dragging the USSR and the political cabal that ran it kicking and screaming towards a less authoritarian state socialism. We sadly never got the chance to see a former dictatorial superpower open up and reform its system. A right wing and capitalist sponsored coup toppled Gorbachev and killed the Soviet Union and ended a flawed but ongoing experiment towards state socialism and revolutionary reform. Boris Yeltsin and his capitalist supporters took pains to make themselves appear to be the harbingers of change and hope for Russia and they took steps they felt were justified by their show of force to speak “for” the people and “revolutionize” the Russian/Soviet system from the top down.

Certainly the USSR was no more or less violent than the US in its projection of power abroad and imperial expansion internally. It was at least founded upon an ideal of human equality and workers rights, whereas the USA was founded as a Republican and Capitalist state that depended upon slavery and economic exploitation for its very existence. The Russian Revolution showed that a nation could kill absolute state power and control by popular protest and revolutionary action. It also showed that the people must be wary of trusting power to brash and egotistical “leaders” who want to create a top down state socialist system. Utopian aims were used as an excuse to acquire and abuse enormous amounts of state power and cultural control. While the US consumed the resources and people of the non-”western” world and exploited its minority communities at home the USSR consumed its own people as a resource for societal engineering on a horrifying and awe-inspiring scale.

In 1990-91 there was a chance for a new stage of the Soviet experiment but that chance was smothered in its cradle. Today as a result Russia is a gang-ridden, crony-capitalist big brother state with a dictator at the helm and the people more exploited and impoverished  now since they have been since the collapse of the Soviet system. The state that once enforced loyalty to the state socialist system now enforces loyalty to the pary of Putin, the Billionaire State-Subsidized energy barons, and the increasingly bigoted and radical Russian Orthodox Church. LGBT people and their supporters are beaten openly in the streets, political groups are banned or harassed, journalists are threatened or “disappeared” and artists, like the revolutionary anarchist artist collective Pussy Riot, are persecuted and imprisoned. Rates of alcoholism, domestic violence, homelessness and poverty are through the roof and if you happen to be an ethnic minority your chances for a stable safe life are even lower. Corporations own the natural resources of the nation and write the laws that allow them to manipulate and exploit workers. Russia is a Neo-Feudal kleptocracy on a scale not seen since the Czar and his family were dragged from their palaces and shot.

Does this seem like a problem unique to Russia? Are the “dirty reds” paying the price for their flawed socialist delusions? Is this sort of societal and economic collapse unique to the Russian experience? It is worth looking at the conditions extant in the other superpower on the world stage in order to investigate. The United States has been shaken to its core by a series of economic disasters of epic proportions. The political system is deadlocked and the people are beginning to demand reform of the Market System and the government that manipulates and profits from its continuation and expansion. Capitalism itself is facing a crisis as more and more power is placed in the hands of fewer and fewer companies and individuals. The government supports, incentivises and promotes this monopolization of all industry and all resources. This leads to a state where the worker as alienated as is possible from the product of his labor and the means of production itself. The American working public must “compete” against the miniscule wages and abysmal working standards of the corporate slaves employed in the “third world”. As Lenin observed in his Imperialism: The Highest Stage of Capitalism

 

Free competition is the basic feature of capitalism, and of commodity production generally; monopoly is the exact opposite of free competition, but we have seen the latter being transformed into monopoly before our eyes, creating large-scale industry and forcing out small industry, replacing large-scale by still larger-scale industry, and carrying concentration of production and capital to the point where out of it has grown and is growing monopoly: cartels, syndicates and trusts, and merging with them, the capital of a dozen or so banks, which manipulate thousands of millions 1

 

With the banks that finance the monopolies guaranteed a “bailout” by the “democratic” government there is no incentive for reform within the capitalist edifice. The “concentration”, as Lenin put it, is therefore inevitable as are the side-effects of a fully consolidated capitalist oligarchy. With full financial support from the government and with an enormous corporate welfare system in place the financial and corporate sectors have rebounded dramatically with no commensurate increase in worker pay or employment prospects. The corporations demand more and more cheap unskilled labor and demand a level of unemployment that will make it easier for them to use “market forces” as an excuse to further suppress wages and workers rights. In Chapter 25 of Das Kapital Marx tells us

 

It is the absolute interest of every capitalist to press a given quantity of labour out of a smaller, rather than a greater number of labourers, if the cost is about the same […] The more extended the scale of production, the stronger this motive. Its force increases with the accumulation of capital.

 

The explosion of debt that comes from the glut of spending on behalf of Corporate and financial interests plays into to a conservative reaction against all government spending, which is erroneously seen to weighted in favor of the poor and working classes. This conservative backlash is encouraged by “libertarian” businessmen and political leaders who stoke conservative fears of draconian “wealth confiscation” by the government in favor of the “freeloaders” (assumed to be racial minorities, immigrants, young people, and the poor)  in order to have further support for their austerity plans. Austerity is essentially regressive tax on the working classes and the poor. While public sector spending on social welfare programs, education, healthcare and poverty is cut or eliminated entirely spending on corporate welfare increases exponentially and the cycle repeats itself ad nauseum. Increased poverty, desperation and the closing off of “economic/social mobility” leads to desperation in the population, with some turning to nationalistic, jingoistic and radical libertarian movements as way to express their rage and frustration. This sort of angst is easily manipulated by the political parties into any number of bigoted policies against hated or feared minorities and the working poor.

Whether it is Obama or Yeltsin or anyone else the problem is that politicians of any political persuasion will always seek to personify “hope” and “change” in order to usurp the legitimate power of the people. They will tell us that circumstances dictate what must be done and that they alone (or at least with the token support of those people allowed the vote and choose to exercise it) can bring about needed reform and administer justice. This is a false paradigm and one that must be overthrown. The people must dictate what is to be done and they must be central to the process of reform and revolution. Change cannot come from the top down and it cannot come from political operatives who claim the mantle of “hope”. Any man who claims to be the personification of human striving and dignity is most likely the one who will destroys hope and demeans the people in the name of preservation of the status quo. These are the real facts on the ground and they do not change from person to person or from place to place.

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Constitution, Politics

Proposed Voting Amendment to the Constitution of the United States of America

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The following is a proposal for a Voting Rights Amendment to the US Constitution. That language is preliminary and subject to revision.

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Section 1. No person shall be required to present any official form of identification when they arrive at the polls to vote in any election within the United States

 

Section 2. All people who arrive the polls to vote will be assumed to be eligible to vote; it will be the responsibility of the appropriate officials and jurisdictions to challenge and/or invalidate a vote if there is a reasonable suspicion of fraud

 

Section 3. All people eligible to vote in the United States will be registered to vote when issued their Social Security Number and Card. This registration will never lapse

 

Section 4. All legal residents of the United States over the age of sixteen (16) will be eligible to vote

 

Section 5. There shall be no laws establishing a test, written, oral, or otherwise, for establishing eligibility to vote

 

Section 6. The second (2nd) Tuesday of June will be the day on which state and federal elections take place. This date will be a national and federal holiday

 

Section 7. The Electoral College is hereby abolished in favor of a direct popular vote for President of The United States

 

Section 8. If convicted of voter suppression and/or intimidation a person shall lose their eligibility to vote until they have served the duration of their sentence or they have been released on parole

 

Section 9. If during the previous election the voters polling location had a wait of more than one (1) hour the voter will be eligible to cast their ballot on a date before election day, to be set by the local jurisdiction, or by mail

 

Section 10. Voting will be mandatory for federal elections with a tax penalty not to exceed One Hundred and Fifty (150) Dollars levied in the event of violation of this statute. Inability to vote due to injury or employment or childcare obligations will not be considered a violation of this statute. It is the responsibility of the local jurisdiction to report and prove a violation of this statute and the voter will have the right to challenge the accusation before a magistrate

 

Section 11. Any official, elected or otherwise, who votes for or signs a law or decree restricting the franchise will be removed from office and will henceforth be ineligible to hold public office

Section 12. Neither conviction of a felony, nor status as a felon, except for conviction for voter suppression or intimidation, will impact an individual’s eligibility to vote. Those imprisoned in state, federal or county prisons or jails will be allowed to vote either on site at the facility in which they are incarcerated or else be allowed to vote absentee

 

Section 13: Any proposed changes to polling locations or hours must be submitted to the voters for approval or rejection. Changes will be considered approved if ⅔ of the voters vote in favor of the changes. These changes, if approved, shall not go into effect until an election has intervened

 

Section 14: The residents of Puerto Rico, Guam, The U.S. Virgins Islands and all other United States territories and dependencies over the age of sixteen (16) will be eligible to vote for the office of President of the United States

 

Section 15: The 22nd Amendment to the Constitution of the United States of America is hereby repealed


Section 16: The Congress shall have the power to enforce this article by appropriate legislation

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Israel, Middle East

I am Done Apologizing For Justice: A Response to Rabbi Menachem Creditor

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The Following is a response to the Essay “I’m Done Apologizing For Israel” written by Rabbi Menachem Creditor. That essay can be found here:

 http://www.huffingtonpost.com/rabbi-menachem-creditor/im-done-apologizing-for-i_b_5606650.html

The Palestinian people are done apologizing for daring to not be Jews. Ever since the Western Imperial powers gave into pressure from the Conservative Christian, Zionist Jewish, Cold War Hawk and Corporate lobbies and recognized Israel, the Middle East has been most troubled and violent of regions. After the evil that was the Holocaust the Western Powers made “never again” their mantra and bought into the absurd and racist ideology of imperialist Zionism as a way to assuage their own guilty consciences for not acting to save the Jews of Europe when they had the chance. It did not hurt that the West now had a non-Arab/Muslim foothold in the oil and gas rich Middle East, a foothold in the form of an expansionist, violent nation that owed its very existence to Western support and eventually largesse. Eastern European Jewish survivors of the horror that was the Holocaust joined with wealthy zionists from the diaspora and forged a nation whose only legitimate justification could be found in a covenant with an unknowable deity which led to an ancient campaign of genocide and brutal expansionism against a native pagan population described in a 3,000 year old book of religious fables and theology. Using intimidation, economic exploitation and outright terrorist tactics (like those of the Stern Gang and others) the zionists were able to force a conflict which led to the Nakba, the ethnic cleansing of Arab Palestine to make way for Zionist settlement and expansion.

The Palestinians were forced to flee, forcibly evicted from their homes and property and in many cases were outright killed. Many ended up in ghettos and many more in refugee camps in poor and despotic nations that did not want them. The colonizers, who named their “nation” after the ancient semitic Kingdoms of Israel & Judea, broke their promise to the international community, and to the Palestinians themselves, by refusing to compensate the dispossessed Palestinians for their land and property and by refusing to allow them the right to return to the land of their birth. Many of these Palestinian Arabs had lived in the area for generations, even centuries. They had lived in peace, or at least in absence of conflict, with Jews, Christians and others for centuries under Ottoman authority. This was their home and the Zionist colonizers stole it from them based on a mythical contract executed by a mostly mythical man with an invisible and implacable god. This new nation went on to defend itself against an Arab world that saw a threat in the powerful, colonizing, advancing and Western backed ethno/religious state. That a crime had been committed against the Palestinians was never denied, indeed some Israeli leaders admitted that the Palestinians had legitimate grievances against their conquerors. David Ben Gurion himself stated

 

A people which fights against the usurpation of its land will not tire so easily… it is easier for them to continue the war and not get tired than it is for us… The Palestinian Arabs are not alone. The Syrians are coming to help. From our point of view, they are strangers; in the point of law they are foreigners; but to the Arabs, they are not foreigners at all … The centre of the war is in Palestine, but its dimensions are much wider. When we say that the Arabs are the aggressors and we defend ourselves — this is only half the truth […] the fighting is only one aspect of the conflict which is in its essence a political one. And politically we are the aggressors and they defend themselves […] The country is theirs, because they inhabit it, whereas we want to come here and settle down, and in their view we want to take away from them their country, while we are still outside.

 

The Zionist vision has always been an imperial vision, a vision of an ethno-religious liberal republic (at least for those who bow down to overall Jewish superiority in the nation) built upon the territory of people who are seen as “occupiers” of a land they and their ancestors worked, improved, and lived on for generations. Zionism in its most militant form is remarkably similar to Nazism: it is based on a conception of race & heritage that is completely artificial, it is based on the idea of a national living space for a growing and virile master race, it is militaristic and based upon the appropriation of land thought promised to the chosen race under a spiritual, moral covenant that is coherent only to those whom it benefits. These two ideologies create aliens out of people who have lived within the land for all their lives, creates terrorists and militants out of people fighting for their lives, their dignity and their land, and makes hypocrites and charlatans out of a proud Jewish people who have historically fought for dignity and for the right to live in peace.

It is said that those who are hurt in turn hurt others…if we look from this perspective the Zionist mission is understandable if not forgivable. That the Jewish people, or at least a large segment of them, wish to do to Palestine what the Americans did to the Native Tribes, what the Spanish did to Native Empires of South America, and what the Chinese did to the kingdoms of central and southern Asia, is understandable if not forgivable. But 3000 years of imperialist wrongdoing does not make what Israel did and continues to do to the Palestinian people right. As desperate, as violent, as seemingly misguided as the resistance against Israel by the Palestinians is, and as foolish, opportunistic and bigoted as their chosen representatives, like Hamas, are, that does not mean the Palestinian fight is any less righteous, any less just. If Israel has the “absolute right” to defend itself, then what of the Palestinians, the ones who are truly dispossessed? A cheap rocket coming from Gaza is a weapon of terror but a million dollar bomb dropped from a billion dollar Israeli F-16 is righteous and justified by the “facts on the ground”? Were the Afrikaaners justified in keeping the native population of South Africa in check? Was the African National Congress and other black African groups “terrorists” for violently resisting their oppression and the theft of their land? If we say that Israel is morally justified in its mission in Palestine then what basis do we have to deny the same stamp of approval to what the Whites did in South Africa? Remember that the ANC was once known as a terrorist group and Nelson Mandela and his fellow Black African freedom fighters were as vilified and hated as the leaders of Hamas and the Palestinian Authority are today. It is moral relativism of the most disgusting, the most self-serving sort to give the mandate of a just cause to one while rightfully condemning the other as an international embarrassment.

And now we have Rabbi Creditor with his cloying, solipsistic and morally repugnant apology for his support of the Zionist cause. We are asked by the author to pity him for having to defend the actions of an international pariah who has defied the international community and waged aggressive war against the people whose land they occupy. We are told were are “anti-Semitic” (a tired intellectual strawman if there ever was one) for daring to point out atrocities committed in the name of a nation claiming the mandate of heaven. We are told that because the Israelis treat some of the scores of people, mostly civilians and children, they maim and slaughter with weapons of war they extreme violence should be excused. We are told with a straight face that people in a crowded city that has been blockaded for a decade who shoot rockets into a nation with nuclear weapons and missile defense systems is a sign that the latter nation is “under-siege”.  We are told that a group, as odious as it may be to some, chosen in internationally recognized and administered democratic elections to represent the Palestinians of Gaza is “illegitimate” and must surrender this authority because it dares fight back against an occupier. We are told that lack of enthusiastic support for the nation of Israel is essentially the same thing as morally condemning all Jews, everywhere. To coin a phrase—enough of this mashugana!

To equate the great Jewish people of the world and all that they have given to the shared cultural and scientific heritage of earth with a violent, xenophobic and imperialist nation state is an insult to Jews everywhere and throughout time. The real, and totally disgusting, crimes committed against Jews as a people do not justify the actions of the nation of Israel nor do they add any legitimacy to its theological justification for existence. To admit this fact is not to commit any violence against the Jewish people. Jews must be held to the same standards of moral culpability and agency that every other nation is, or should be, held to. Rabbi Creditor, and anyone who supports imperial violence, xenophobic hate and ethnic cleansing under whatever banner it chooses to wave, should have to apologize, and vociferously at that, for such support. I, and millions of others, are done apologizing for our pursuit of justice for the people of Palestine under siege.

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