A Brief Interview With Elijah D. Manley on The Democratic Party, Centrists, and Neoliberalism

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This is the second of an ongoing series of brief, generally five-question interviews with Elijah D. Manley, who made history as the youngest person to ever run for President of the United States, at age 17, which he did as a candidate on the Green ticket in 2016. I was proud to be his campaign manager, especially after he managed to make the ballot on the Green primaries in two states and the District of Columbia, and acquired 41% of the votes among the Greens in his home state of Florida, along with three of his state’s seven Green delegates (the rest of the votes and delegates in Florida went to Green powerhouse Jill Stein). He also received strong support from fellow Green presidential candidates Sedinam Curry, William Krempl, and Darryl Cherney, with the first two giving up their allotted minutes to speak at the 2016 Green National Convention to allow Elijah to speak. He was thus able to take the podium and speak to his fellow Greens against the insistence of one of the ageist national committee members that this would never come to pass. Boo-yahh!

Elijah speaking at the Green National Convention, Houston, Texas, 8/16/16 (Elijah comes in at roughly the 12:26 time stamp, and unfortunately the sound quality of this video is poor, so turn up your speakers on max, mute the volume of your TV in the background, and listen carefully!)

Elijah has recently announced he will be running again in 2020, and I’m honored to be his campaign manager once again. As a result, this young man will soon be more relevant than ever, and this leads to our second interview, where he discusses his reasons for not supporting the Democratic Party and why true progressives and socialists cannot find a lot of common ground with centrist neoliberals.

Without further ado, let’s start:

1: Do you feel that social democrats and socialists, and the centrists/neoliberals who dominate the framework of the Democratic Party, have enough common ground to work together as allies towards mutually desired goals?
No. I don’t believe that they can work in the framework of the Democratic Party. Democrats still believe in capitalism, which is a failed system. Anyone who believes in the failed and oppressive system of capitalism are enemies of the working class/proletariat. Democrats and socialists are polar opposites. On certain issues they can work together, but on dismantling the oppressive system that enables these issues to thrive, they won’t.
2: You will often hear Democrats and their centrist constituents talk about the importance of being “pragmatic” and reminding us not to expect “miracles.” Do you think their “play it safe” strategy on both certain social and (largely) economic issues is a problem rather than a better alternative to more radical policies to completely overhaul the system?
Their approach is bullshit, just like their policies for the last 8 years, and the last 20 years. A fascist was just sworn in as President a month ago, and we can’t afford “pragmatic” solutions. We need more radical solutions to the rise of the alt right and fascists. The Democrats and their failed “resistance” got us Rex Tillerson, CEO of Exxon Mobil, in as Secretary of State, it got us do-do Betsy Devos in as Secretary of State, Goldman Sachs in 3 cabinet positions, and many more disappointments to come.

3: So do you think that the 99% should seek a radical third party alternative outside of the Duopoly rather than continuing to support and attempt to reform the Democratic Party to make it more labor-friendly?
Yes. As long as we feed the Democratic Party, they will continue to bite our hands. They will continue to crush unions, bail out banks, deregulate the banks, the media, the [big corporations], and take millions from Wall Street while destroying the Earth.
4: What do you feel about the Bernie Sanders campaign overall? Do you think he accomplished something despite — or maybe even because — he ran on the Democratic ticket instead of as an Independent or for a truly pro-labor class party like the Greens?
I admire Bernie Sanders. I really do. He did endorse Hillary, which was terrible, and he didn’t live up to the expectations on many issues that I am passionate about. I am grateful that he did awaken many people and spread the word of socialism. But I will always disapprove of his stance on Palestine and on other issues that I am passionate about. He must denounce the Democrats, or risk human existence.
5: One policy you and your campaign have stood behind is to repudiate rather than embrace capitalism. This puts you at odds not only with the neoliberals, as noted above, but also against the economic policies of the Libertarians, who have a notable number in the youth liberation movement that you advocate. What made you ultimately decide that capitalism is a system that needs to be rejected and overhauled rather than supported and fully deregulated, as American capitalists and Libertarians favor?
Seeing millions suffer on a daily basis despite claims for change. On the campaign trail, I met hundreds, maybe thousands, of young people like myself that had stories of how they suffered at the hands of this system. One young man, who is undocumented, is forced to work in the shadows for $3.17/hr to support his mother and family. His father was deported. Some have had to turn to crime just to feed their families. And the judges would punish them, rather than addressing the socioeconomic system that enables their suffering. Watching the environment be destroyed. Watching parents work 2 or 3 jobs just to support their families while politicians live comfortably and crush unions. And the thing that got me was: it was all for profit.
5.5 So basically, your personal experience and research has not convinced you that a system based upon the profit motive; competition between workers for limited jobs; access to required services and products based solely on the individual ability to pay; extreme degrees of disparity regarding access to our plethora of resources; the inevitable crime and oppressive punitive law enforcement system that comes into being to deal with said crime; and frequent wars based on competition between separate nations run by different ruling classes with competitive rather than cooperative economic interests; and virtually no product or service being provided unless someone can make a profit off of it, etc., et al., does not have some sort of benefits to the world that outweigh the above problems?
I believe that this system has to go, and so does the ruling class. They have cooperated on how to keep what I like to call the “parasiteousioue” in power while crushing workers worldwide. This must be an inter-sectional movement where we stand in solidarity with workers and non-workers internationally, and with all oppressed groups.
Thank you to Elijah for giving his time to this latest interview!

A Brief Interview With Elijah D. Manley on Education in America

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This blog is the first of a planned series of brief interviews where I will discuss various youth rights and other assorted political issues with Elijah D. Manley, the first underager to run for President of the United States, which he did as a nominee in the 2016 Green Party primaries at the “mere” age of 17. The interviews in this series are intended to be short enough that most people can consume them in a single sitting. As a few examples of his political exploits over the past year, here is Elijah speaking at the 2016 Green Party National Convention in Houston, Texas (Elijah’s speech starts around the 12:44 time stamp; unfortunately, this video has a poor and inconsistent audio quality, so listen carefully on a device with a good sound system!); and here is his interview on The Young Turks.

 


Though the nomination went to Jill Stein, Elijah did quite well for a campaign that was radical even by the progressive standards of the Greens. He managed to get on the ballot of two states and the District of Columbia, and gained an impressive 41% of the votes and 3 of the 7 Green delegates in his home state of Florida, with the rest of the votes and the state’s other 4 delegates going to Jill Stein; and this despite all 6 Green primary candidates being on the Florida ballot. As an additional surprise, he was given a quarter of a delegate from among the District of Columbia’s 2 delegates (with another quarter going to Bill Kreml, and the rest going to Jill Stein).

 


I was honored beyond words when I was asked by Elijah to be campaign manager for his historic run, and needless to say, it was quite a ride! As expected, Elijah is far from done with politics, and I thank him for graciously giving his time to my blog for this series of interviews. Let us now begin! The interview was conducted via instant messaging, and is edited only for grammar and clarity, with no change or modification in content or context.

 

CN: As a major participant in the youth liberation movement who also happens to be legally “underage” and still in high school, do you think the American schooling system teaches students to be good critical and independent thinkers, or is it more about encouraging a conformity of thought?
 I believe that the education system in America does not encourage free thinking. It instead encourages conformity. This education system is undemocratic, particularly because it is hierarchical. Instead of helping students think for themselves, it discourages thinking.
CN:  Based on your personal observations and discussions with many other students across the U.S., do you feel that the small number of students who are naturally critical and independent thinkers are treated well by the adult staff at the schools?
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 No. I believe that students who are independent and free thinkers are seen as a threat in schools. These students are likely disrespected, disciplined for not conforming, and/or watched.
 —
CN:  There are some who believe that the hierarchical, top-down nature of the contemporary schooling environment in America — where older adults are treated as always knowing best, having full control over the school curriculum, etc. — has a lot to recommend it as long as there is mutual respect between the adult staff and students. Do you believe that the hierarchical, adult-controlled structure of the current schooling system allows for or encourages much mutual respect between the adult staff and students?
No. I believe that in order for there to be a successful schooling system, students must have a full say in all decision-making. It must be what I call a “vertical structure of power.”
CN: Would you describe the vertical structure of power as a bottom-to-top command structure where students share decision-making power with teachers and other staff, including participating in team teaching efforts?
 —
 Yes, exactly. This requires a say in the formulation of curriculum.
CN: Do you believe that equal say should include the rules of the school related to attire, which programs funding is allocated to, etc.?
 —
 Yes. All decisions made by school administrations and boards should be approved or rejected by student bodies.
CN: Many have complained that contemporary youths are very vapid in terms of their interests, i.e., only interested in modern fashions, the latest trendy movies (or trends in general), an over-interest in consuming all the latest technology (useful or otherwise), and almost sole interest in modern movies, books, and music with little interest in the classics in each of these mediums. Do you believe that what passes for “youth culture” today has anything to do with how the schooling system is formulated and conducted?
No. I believe that youth culture is developed as time goes by, and if it has anything to do with school, maybe it is the social setting in school. Attacking youth culture is what I consider to be “gentrification of youth.”
CN: How would you personally define “gentrification of youth” if asked to elaborate?
 Outside groups or age demographics attacking, targeting or trying to influence or change youth culture.
 —
CN:  Having been in the contemporary schooling system for at least 12 years now, do you feel that it gives you and other students a positive attitude towards learning and education?
 —
 No. It honestly makes us hate school and the education system even more. Most of us do not feel like we really learned valuable information to prepare us for life after HS. We also feel that the info we have learned is in part irrelevant. I doubt that many students are enthusiastic about the schooling system.
CN: Any last things you would like to add about your experiences in the American schooling system for those outside the nation who may be wondering about it?
 The biggest problems I have evaluated about the American schooling system is that it is run like a big corporation, and not a school. There is too much standardized testing, and not enough learning time. Failure should not even be a way to refer to children who have not succeeded in acquiring a certain level of knowledge. The biggest problem of them all is that the students’ concerns and voices are ignored.
 —
CN: I think the video you put up that recorded your experience with the school board may well attest to that.
Yep [laughter] there are a lot!
CN: Cases in point are here and here.

 —

My thanks to Elijah for his time!


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Moving forward against all odds!

Money: The Root of All Evil and One Hell of a Lie

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What our entire world runs on: “money, money, mon-eyy… mooonee-eey!” (cue “The Love of Money” by the O’jays.)

The O’jays said it better than I ever could.

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The following blog is a guest rant of the political kind from my long-time friend Brian Rebmann, who has earned a degree in Business Management and has a lot of experience working within the system. He’s also a recovered capitalism-supporter, and you can consider this blog part of his penance 🙂

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Money, the thing which we go into the world to earn and which is an essential component to our survival in the world, is nothing more than paper in most instances. In a more global context, money doesn’t even have to be paper in the literal sense; it’s just one computer talking to another and transmitting sets of numbers between each other.

It’s all just a lie; smoke and mirrors. Money is paper. Money is a supposed to be a medium of exchange. However, in my experience, money is a tool to be used and manipulated by others to achieve certain ends such as control and power. We need money to survive and/or otherwise live. And, the money supply in any country is controlled by a handful of people who are politically savvy. In any business or organization you have overspending, mishandling, bad investment/lending practices and, in general, spending more than you take in while dealing with crippling debts and over-extended lines of credit, which should surely mean the end of the organization.

Well, I’ve got news for you: that is the state the United States is in as a fiscal entity. And, in spite of all this, the fiscal entity keeps leading money to others who can’t or won’t pay it back. So, due to the government bailing out major financial institutions in 2008, the economy still struggles and has not recovered and/or returned to prosperity [that’s the Great Recession, dewd! – CN].

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businessman01

“You can’t afford the electric bill this month, Mrs. Parker? Well, I sympathize, but I hope you’re prepared to freeze your little elderly ass off until you come up with the cash! Yes, I know it’s winter, but I do not  get paid to care!”

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There is an episode of Star Trek: Deep Space Nine  called “Past Tense” which illustrates my points here quite well. In brief, the main characters of DS9 get transported back to the early 21st century, maybe a decade into our own future. There, they encounter an Earth wherein the economy had collapsed; the homeless, unemployed, and mentally ill were secluded into walled areas of the city called Sanctuary Districts where they were not provided for properly, re: food and medical care. In the plot of this episode, technology had taken jobs away from people, which caused massive unemployment. And, because the homeless and unemployed were out of sight and out of mind, no one in power thought to do anything about the social problems that the situation caused.

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“God may control the heavens, but we CEOs control the material world that all mortal men actually live in. And they worship us just the same! Let’s see you top that, Mr. Jehovah!”

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I believe that like any overworked system, no matter how many fixes or patches you apply to it, eventually, I believe, the United States and its economy will collapse and descend into chaos because of poor management. Considering all of the above, that’s to be expected, as all things end and begin anew. However, while the economy may collapse, I’m confident the human race will live on and thrive. I wish I could say that the human race would evolve into the fine people Gene Roddenberry envisioned, but something tells me that we will never reach that “fictional finalism,” as my therapist would call it [nice to see that both you, and the shrink who is treating you, are both such cynics, my friend! Remember Monty Python’s classic theme from the ironically named film Life of Brian: “always look on the bright side of life * cue whistling chorus*”… if a group of men crucified on crosses could try to see the bright side of things, so can you and your shrink! 🙂 – CN].

Japanese and French Spree Killings Repudiate the Anti-Gun Fanaticism of the American Left

Prohibited sign - gun ban

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Sadly, we live in an age where the militarization of American culture, and the worship of violence and reverence for the military in an economic global order that thrives on perpetual war, is at an all-time high. Even worse, we have now reached a point where these horrific spree killings have spread beyond the U.S. and into other Western nations, as well as nations in the East that have become increasingly influenced and indoctrinated into Western cultural values and consumerist behavior.

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LOOKING BEYOND GUNS TO THE TYPE OF SYSTEM WE LIVE UNDER

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Of course, part of the reason that the problem persists is because the American Left utterly refuses to put emotion aside and take a hard, logical look at the true sources of the problem. The perpetrators of these spree killings range from individuals sympathetic with terrorist organizations spawned by the imperialist policies of the West; gang members warring to achieve power, territory, and control over resources (read: the recreational drug industry) in a microcosm of what the governments of the current world order regularly engage in with each other; terribly bullied and ostracized young people rejected by a deeply conformist and hierarchical culture who are motivated by retribution and react in the only way they feel possible; disgruntled employees thrown out of work and cast into the extreme poverty that is a worldwide feature of the capitalist system and its private ownership of the essential services and its characteristic refusal to disperse any items or services unless one has the financial resources to purchase them, regardless of need; and a surfeit of mentally ill individuals who have gone over the edge due to all of the alienation, extreme economic insecurity, and abusive hierarchical social institutions that naturally mirror the economic hierarchical, top-down chain of command which all but a lucky few are forced to live under and exist in life-long servitude to.

In other words, different types of individuals whose mad actions are influenced by the same basic set of economic and social forces serving as a catalyst. This, as noted above, includes a glorification of the military (as long as they wear the “right” flag emblem on their uniforms) and the importance our culture places on using violence to solve issues both abroad and domestically, the latter courtesy of our heavily armed and increasingly militarized police whom the communities they monitor have no control over, and who thus have a strong penchant for profiling oppressed minorities as easy targets to meet their arrest quotas and personal need to vent their own mental issues upon.

Of course, whenever a spree killing occurs in America, the majority of the Left cannot be counted on to even consider taking a deep and uncomfortably honest analysis of the above aspects of the system. This is, in part, because the Left has become increasingly inured to the system and have become its sometimes reluctant supporters rather than opponents ever since Reagan, the Clintons, and Obama divested them of most of their idealism, optimism, and willingness to embrace fundamental change and move onto a better system. It’s also in part because the Left, much like their sometimes opponents/rivals/semi-collaborators on the Right, are prone to emotion on certain issues which detract from logical, common sense analysis of the system and the manifold problems it causes.

Instead, the simplistic reaction and explanation for any spree killing in America is always a knee-jerk, emotionally charged condemnation of guns. They will start spouting sometimes dubious statistics on how awful guns are, how many accidents they cause per year, and sometimes the claim  that only a total “nutjob” would ever perceive the need to own a firearm, let being capable of using one responsibly and within reasonable circumstances in the impoverished streets common to a system whose inequality breeds crime, brutal competition, any number of neuroses,  mass insecurity, and severe mistrust between members of the working class. And this in an environment where American police insist they must be more heavily armed than a typical infantryman in Afghanistan in order to safely conduct their job on the streets of a typical large city where the “dog eat dog” mindset of our vaunted capitalist system rules over virtually every aspect of our day-to-day lives.

Every gun owner is compared to the wacky members of the right-wing NRA by the Left, even as many of them simultaneously cheer any soldier taking orders from the U.S. government who lays waste to a Middle Eastern city street or drops a salvo of cluster bombs on innocent families to get maybe one or two suspected terrorists; and likewise applaud them as heroes even if their courage is genuine but terribly misdirected, or amounting to nothing more than a “soldier” operating a lethal drone from the safety of a cabin located literally thousands of miles away. Not all liberals and progressives are hypocritical in this fashion, of course, and many steadfastly denounce pre-emptive imperialist war and militarized domestic police as much as they do the right and competence of common citizens to bear arms. More than enough of them display this contradiction of values, however.

These liberal Democrats are so overwhelmed by emotion on this single subject, they will boldly initiate a  24-hour sit-in at the House of Representatives until the Republicans agree to enact anti-gun legislation, while lacking the will or the kahunas to do the same in regards to compelling House Republicans to pass legislation for universal health care, a federal $15 minimum wage, a guarantee of jobs for everyone under a system of public works, the diminishing of our bloated military spending and re-disbursement of funds for needed social programs, paid maternity  and  paternity leave, free universal college education and forgiveness of college debt for all current and former students, the creation of community committees to oversee the conduct of local police, etc, et al.  One so-called progressive recently mentioned the Democratic sit-in over gun legislation to me and said, “if that’s not progressive for the Democrats, then I don’t know what is.” In my typically long-winded fashion, I not-so-simply pointed to all of the above progressive measures the Democrats have refused to stand up for in a similar fashion, and told him, “if they stood up for all of that  with the same determination they did for gun control alone, then not only would this be a far more progressive nation, but the main source of all forms of violence, including these spree killings, would be greatly diminished.”

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KEEP TRUCKS AND SHARP OBJECTS OUT OF THE HANDS OF COMMON CITIZENS!

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As I write these words, yet another of these horrible spree killings has occurred in America, this one once again in Florida, where a popular teen club in Fort Myers was subject to a mass shooting which took the lives of two confirmed patrons and injured as many as 16 others, some of them being in critical condition as of yesterday morning. This particular shooting was believed to be gang-related, rather than terrorist-inspired like the recent Florida spree killing at a gay nightclub in Orlando.

Of course, this latest tragedy in Fort Myers can be expected to cause the Left to typically blame availability of guns as the main or sole culprit, and ignore everything I discussed above. This is because their emotional attachment to the issue surrounding the production and sale of any item that is specifically designed to be used as a weapon by civilians causes them to fear and hate guns based on  what they represent in their minds. This is why we will also hear nary a word on the far greater number of accidents per year involving automobiles, power tools, or swimming pools, and what can be done to reduce such tragedies, nor anything about the many items that can be used as weapons as readily as any gun (e.g., sledgehammers, sharp screwdrivers, weighted flashlights, hardwood walking sticks, baseball bats, steak knives, box cutters, or vicious dogs), because each of these things have utility purposes and are not explicitly designed for use as weapons even though they can, and often do, serve as very deadly makeshift weapons. But because of their primary purpose, they fail to elicit the same degree of emotional response as do guns. As a result, their proven serious threat potential is either seriously down-played in comparison to guns, or completely overlooked.

Two further spree killing tragedies, however, recently took place in nations where guns are far more difficult to come by than in America. These horrible incidents throw a major monkey wrench into the simplistic and emotion-based argument of the American Left that availability of guns to civilians is the main cause of this incessant violence, as if simply looking at a gun is enough to provoke murderous tendencies in people who would otherwise have no inclination — or at least no capability — of launching a murder spree.

The first such incident occurred in Nice, France earlier in July of 2016, courtesy of 31-year-old Mohamed Lahouaiej Bouhlel, who was responsible for 84 confirmed deaths, a far greater number than the Orlando and Fort Myers spree killings. This tragedy was also said to be terrorist-inspired. But there’s a major twist in this particular act of horror which throws some major aspersions on the pet focus of the Left that strict gun control is the primary solution to this problem: Bouhlel didn’t use a gun to conduct this obscene death toll. He used a perfectly legal and not-too-difficult-to-acquire 2o-ton truck. 

Yes, think about that for a minute, fellow progressives, and let it percolate in your mind for a bit, hopefully giving pause to unbridled emotional hatred and fear of guns and acting as a catalyst for some much-needed rational thought and analysis. This incident garnered but a minimum of coverage in the American press, and I suspect it was because the liberals had no emotional basis for which4 to latch onto this story. Were they supposed to demand a ban on trucks? No, not because it was unreasonable to do so, but because as deadly a weapon as this incident proves certain vehicles can make — much more so than even a high-powered assault rifle — trucks are not designed for the specific purpose  of being used as weapons.

As a result, this incident lacked any serious emotional impact on the matter of the worsening culture of violence and spree killings that is now plaguing the entire world, because it didn’t involve the symbolic spectre of guns  for the liberals to build the necessary emotion to rally around. This, despite the truly horrific number of deaths caused by this particular murder binge despite not involving a firearm of any kind.

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This weapon of death must be banned, lest further spree killings occur!

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And of course,  the liberals didn’t bother to find this incident as any reason to conduct a thorough analysis on the economic and social aspects of the current global order which creates a culture of violence. Is that perhaps because doing so would offer clear evidence that a simple near-obsessive focus on banning guns or attacking all gun owners as irresponsible, violence-promoting spree killings waiting to happen is not  the ultimate solution to this problem? Is it because doing so would make it clear that a much more incisive and nuanced analysis into the very system we live under, and which so many modern day Democrats misguidedly if sometimes reluctantly dedicate themselves to preserving, would be in order? Would it maybe undermine the anti-gun mania of the Left by offering proof that guns are not necessary for even the spree killings with the highest death tolls, and that you have to look to the system itself because you can’t ban or disparage absolutely every item which can  be used as a deadly weapon no matter the reason it was actually designed?

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Take a guess which image the typical American Liberal considers the main source of all violence in the world today… the one in the funny burglar’s right hand, or the one in his left? 

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A LESSON TO LEARN FROM THE OTHER SIDE OF THE PACIFIC

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Now let’s take a look at the second, even more recent spree killing which occurred in July of 2016, this one all the way in the Eastern domain of Japan.

Satoshi Uematsu, a 26-year-old unemployed man of Sagamihara, a city located 30 miles west of Tokyo, went on a terrifying and tragic killing spree at a care centre for disabled people, where he was previously employed. He slaughtered 19 people and injured another 25 — 20 of them seriously — before regaining some semblance of calm and quietly walking into a police station to turn himself in. Uematsu’s killing spree, and the number of seriously injured in addition to the murders, is right up there in number with the two Florida killing sprees which likewise occurred in July of ’16. This incident was neither terrorist nor gang-related, but most likely the result of a disgruntled ex-employee who went off the deep end due to his insecure financial circumstances and suddenly connected disabled people (as opposed to gays, blacks, etc.) to the source of his problems (as opposed to the global system which he lived and was forced to work within). But here is the major twist that puts a further damper on the “blame the availability of guns” mantra so often spouted by the American Left when something like this occurs: Uematsu, who lives in a country where guns are much more difficult to come by than in America, utilized a single knife  to conduct this slaughter.

Yes, you read that right. Due to growing up in a quiet area of Japan (until now, that is), Uematsu likely never even saw a gun outside of television and video games, yet the lack of a firearm in his possession, and the general lack of accessibility to guns in his country, didn’t stop him from improvising and using a readily available and very deadly weapon to carry out the worst mass murder to occur in Japan for many generations. Is it any coincidence that it happened around the same time as the spree killings occurring not only in the U.S., but also the one that ensued just a week earlier in France? And like the similarly horrific killing spree in France, is it any coincidence that this happened without a firearm being involved?

Let’s also note this incident while I’m on the subject: in 2001, after killing sprees first became a tragically recurring phenomenon in the present era of the neo-liberal militarization of world culture and the economy as a whole after the 1999 Columbine massacre, a mentally unbalanced 37-year-old man named Mamoru Takuma, described as a drifter and a sufferer of schizophrenia, entered an elementary school in Ikeda, Japan, located ten miles north of Osaka, and launched a brutal spree massacre on the students and teachers within, murdering eight children and injuring 15 other kids and school staff. And he did this all of this not with a firearm, but with a kitchen knife  — yes, not simply a knife, but one that was readily available and not designed for combat or use as a self-defense weapon, but as a typical utility item.

Of course, this incident garnered a similar lack of focus or deep analysis by the American Left, because it didn’t involve a gun, and thus lacked any emotional or political resonance, and thus no incentive to put aside the anti-gun mentality and take a hard look at the type of world order we’re now living in, and what it does to so many members of the working class. And it provided further uncomfortable evidence that the availability of guns is not the prime cause of the problem, and that even completely banning guns and criminalizing all gun ownership wouldn’t bring an end to the problem.

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“Just looking  at this thing makes me want to run out and stab a whole retirement home full of senior citizens! What possessed me to think I was responsible enough to have one of these things in my kitchen?”

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PUTTING THE SYSTEM AND THE CULTURE IT BREEDS INTO THE PROVERBIAL CROSS-HAIRS

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American liberals can boast all they want that mass killings do not occur with the same regularity in countries where availability of guns is far more restricted, as that situation seems to be rapidly and tragically changing. It may simply mean that spree killings with firearms are more rare in these other countries, as individuals in largely gun-free nations are quickly beginning to make due with the multitude of readily available items (e.g., vehicles, common kitchen knives) that can easily be turned into a deadly weapon in the hands of a madman, and inflict a comparable degree of damage (if not worse) than even an assault rifle equipped with a mega-clip magazine. And this is beginning to strongly indicate that not only are the availability of guns far from the main source of the problem, but if strict gun control legislation is finally passed in the U.S., those members of what Marx labeled the lumpenproletariat  who are driven over the edge by the forces endemic to this dog-eat-dog, military-worshiping system will easily find ways of making do with various utility-items-cum-potential-deadly-weapons, much as their foreign counterparts are beginning to do, and have in fact been doing for over two decades and even longer.

 

Maybe the American Left can take some inspiration from how some individuals quoted in the Japanese media reacted to the above 2001 incident and a series of similar, previous spree killings during the 1990s (one of them involving not firearms, but sarin gas released in a Tokyo subway by a “death cult” which left 12 people dead), as noted by journalist Calvin Sims in the above linked article he penned: “In recent years, Japan has experienced a growing number of violent attacks, including bus hijackings, child abuse, murders of parents and juvenile assaults, that have caused many Japanese to worry that their country is in a state of social decline. Japan is also undergoing wrenching social change widely attributed to the country’s long-term economic downturn and shifting values.”

Further, Sims quoted Prime Minister Junichiro Koizumi as saying, ”We have to ask for the opinions of experts on what we should do about the collapse of a safe society.”

Hmmm, considering that perhaps the blame may be the problems caused by the unstable economic system we live under and the type of “shifting” (euphemism for “increasingly corrupt”) values it encourages, rather than on the easy accessibility of kitchen knives, heavy trucks, and sarin gas, let alone the mostly non-existent firearms to be found in the Land of the Rising Sun? That is quite novel by the standards of the American Left, their media, and their political parties, and I’m hoping there is a valuable lesson for them to take from the less emotional and more logically reasoned statements from Sims and Koizumi.

Regarding certain isolated incidents of senseless murders occurring in Japan during the 1990s, Sims recorded this:

“Last year, a 17-year-old boy, angry after a fight with his father, bludgeoned a passer-by at a Tokyo shopping district. Another teenager beat his mother to death with a metal bat, and a third stabbed an elderly neighbor to death because he said he wanted to experience killing someone.

“Attacks in schools and subways have also been increasing. In 1999, a young man stabbed a 7-year-old boy in Kyoto to death in front of his classmates in a school playground.”

In deference to the concerns of a colleague of mine who actually lives in Japan, he disagreed with an  earlier draft of this blog, saying there are specific aspects of Japanese culture which explain these murders, including the spree killings in 1995, 2001, and 2016, and which cannot put the blame on Western cultural and political tampering. He believes that my connecting these incidents to the Western spree killings is comparable to a conspiracy theory. I will note his concerns and mention the following in response, out of fairness to both his opinion and my intentions here:

1. No doubt Japan has a culture quite distinct from anything in the West, as well as specific political events, which combined to influence people there, including the spree killers being discussed on this blog. But I believe and maintain my stance that the above evidence strongly suggests a connection between these similar acts of violence, many of which happened literally within days of each other in different parts of the world. Despite the differences in culture and political history between the West and an Eastern nation like Japan, the fact remains that they share an economic system based on private ownership of the industries and production for profit, and are all heavily involved in a global interconnected market system. The effects on the common people by these capitalist policies — unemployment, inequality due to strict class divisions, fierce competition between workers for jobs, dehumanizing work conditions, financial insecurity and instability, a heavy militarization of their respective societies to  operate within a global system based on perpetual war — result in all types of anxieties and neuroses among the labor class citizens, so I do  not believe this is all a coincidence.

2. I think the evidence clearly shows that you cannot blame the availability of guns alone for the problems of spree killings, nor isolated incidents of brutal violence, because guns are not required to do such killings. Banning guns would not solve the problem; it would simply result in spree killers and other murderers using implements not designed to be used as weapons which nevertheless provide lethal substitutes for guns which can provide the same number of victims.

 

So what will the reaction of the American Left be to the state of affairs represented by these recent killing sprees in France and Japan? Will they once again give into emotion, and this time insist that the solution is a simple banning of trucks over a certain size and weight, or kitchen knives of a certain length, or power tools that operate for a particularly long time under a single charge, or at least strict background checks on anyone who wishes to purchase these items for their kitchen or garage? Or will they perhaps take a cue from the people of Japan circa the 1990s to the present and conduct a strong, honest, and distressingly objective analysis of the system we live under, the the type of culture it creates seemingly everywhere, and what it does to a growing number of 99 percenters the world over? I’m hoping the evidence I present here, and which others have presented elsewhere, will spur my fellow progressives into putting aside the emotion to consider taking the latter route.

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spree killer

The average gun owner in the eyes of the American Left. He just can’t wait to shoot somebody, even if it’s his own image in a mirror! (He recently shot the last mirror in his house to pieces, so he now has a picture of his mom in the cross-hairs.)

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To My Fellow Progressives: Stop Defending Hillary!

Hillary Clinton and Bernie Sanders01
Hillary: “Pssst! And don’t you ever  bring up universal health care, free college tuition, or the word ‘socialism’ ever again, Bernie.” 
Bernie: “Okay, I told you, Hillary, I’m sorry, I’m sorry… ‘stronger together,’ remember?”
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This particular political tirade is in response to some conversations I’ve recently had both on and off Facebook with individuals who present themselves as fellow progressives. The subject is in regards to their continued misguided support for Hillary Clinton, and/or their insistence that she is the “lesser evil” of Donald Trump rather than an individual of equal demerits to take up the Power Throne in the Oval Office. Some of these individuals I had these exchanges with were valued friends and family, others mere acquaintances, and others simply individuals who participated in certain threads or comments sections of political sites I was also engaging in discourse on.
Most importantly, however, this blog is about providing good evidence to back up my statements, particularly in the absence of any evidence on the end of the opposing view, and to hopefully convince as many people on the Left as possible why they need to give up any respect for Hillary they may be holding onto.
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I. “HILLARY’S NOT AS BAD AS YOU MAKE HER OUT TO BE, CHRIS! BE THANKFUL SHE’S NOT TRUMP!”
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The first of my delightful (yea, right!) tirades will be in response to too many of my fellow progressives who insist on supporting Hillary Clinton by saying, “She’s not the monster that so many make her out to be.” Seriously? I have to ask people who say this: where, exactly, did they acquire the information to back up such a statement? Or perhaps more importantly, are they in fact basing it on any actual information or evidence, or could their defense of her possibly be based on any of the following factors:

 

1. Are you simply supporting Hillary because she is “not Trump”? If so, that may make you a good Democrat, but certainly not a good progressive. Have you seriously looked at Hillary’s policies and conduct over the many years since her family took power in Washington? Warning: you’re about to see a lot of that presented here! Please consider what you will see objectively before you conclude she is a lesser evil than Trump, rather than simply a rival who wants essentially the same policies but speaks less forthrightly and more in “code” than The Donald does.

 

2. Are you defending Hillary in deference to her gender rather than her behavior in office? If so, that is not progressive or feminist thinking, but identity-biased, anti-egalitarian, and even thinly veiled misandry. It constitutes a school of thought which is increasingly coming to be called “oppressive liberalism” — the negative, reactionary side of the Left, which twists honorable platforms favoring progressive change and female empowerment into policies which canonize and demonize individuals based upon their identity category rather than their actual behavior or the content of their character. If you fancy yourself a true progressive and feminist who wants to see a female president, why not prove your honor and scruples by voting NOT simply for the most powerful and “electable” female candidate, but one who actually supports progressive values and feminist empowerment by virtue of their principles and behavior such as Dr. Jill Stein or Sedinam Curry, both of whom are presidential nominees for the Green Party? Or again, do you favor powerful  women over that of principled women who actually support the 99%? Please ask yourself the above questions, and demand you give yourself an honest answer! Also please note the difference between female power  and female  empowerment, and understand how one is the mere inversion of hierarchy whereas the other is the full repudiation of it..

 

3. Or is it because Hillary is a Democrat, and you insist that this second party of Wall Street can still be “reformed” to give up all of that lucre thrown into its coffers by the corporate lobbyists, divest itself of the numerous pro-corporate centrists who dominate and control the inner workings of the party via the Democratic Leadership Council (DNC), so that it it will ever again stand up for the 99%? Or do you think being a centrist yourself in any way benefits a person belonging to the 99%? Or that supporting a puppet of Wall Street and the Democrats as they are today is the best we can actually achieve in this country, or worse, the best we should  actually achieve?  If you’re one of the millions of centrists who are having severe financial problems, and can’t find a job that pays enough so that you do not have to continuously choose between rent and groceries, then you need to do some serious thinking and re-assess your political loyalties.  That honestly makes as much logical sense as a group of politically active people of color supporting the Ku Klux Klan by insisting that it has an important place in the world even if they must concede that the Klan is “imperfect” and sometimes does things they do not particularly care for. That analogy is by no means outlandish if you honestly think about the logic or wisdom of a member of the labor class supporting a politician or political party which stands for the interests of the capitalist class. The majority of the 1% is comprised of privileged individuals who consider themselves superior to the 99% much as the Klan was comprised of white people who considered themselves superior to individuals of color, so the comparison is very apt. Yet how many black people would be foolish enough to vote for a political party based on support for the Klan’s ideologies and policies? So why are so many members of the labor class continuing to align themselves with political parties who serve the interests and agendas of the capitalist class, and seek to perpetuate and even escalate the conditions that are crushing both ourselves and the biosphere itself?

 

I wish all of you Hillary supporters would seriously ask yourselves the above three questions before you put any portion of your heart and soul into Hillary, as opposed to, say, supporting and helping build a third party with candidates and platforms which actually represent the interests of the 99% (the Green Party being the largest example). Didn’t the eight-year debacle of Obama in office teach you a lesson? Please learn from your mistakes instead of insisting on repeating them every election year ad nauseum and ad infinitum.

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II. NOW, FOR THE EVIDENCE…

TELL MORE LIES, TELL MORE SWEET LITTLE LIES!

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Here we start the fun part: providing the evidence so many of you need to see and heed.

This video consists of a straight 13 minutes of news footage featuring the numerous times Hillary has been caught on camera lying and backpedaling with the flow of politics. Think of it as a detailed video history of how often she backtracks on various positions depending upon what is politically popular at any given time (e.g., gay marriage rights, her position on NAFTA, her non-support for universal health care), about whether or not she is a progressive or centrist (yes, Virginia, there is a difference!), about how she lied about being under gunfire upon arriving in Bosnia circa 1996 (this one was epic!), and how often she was caught contradicting herself during Senate hearings on her recent shameful e-mail scandal… yes, the one the Senate decided not to go forward with charges on despite all of these stated contradictions! But I guess we all agree that powerful politicians and average people should be subject to different standards when it comes to criminal activity, right? And it doesn’t matter if Hillary is a liar, untrustworthy, or a chronic flip-flopper as long as she “gets things done,” as the narrative claims, huh?

Let’s close this section of the blog by reading author and journalist Michael Walsh’s article for the New York Post  exposing a long laundry list of Hillary’s lies, thus making it all the more baffling as to why so many people on the Left insist on trusting her in the most powerful seat in the world. Remember Whitewater? Remember her claims of attempting to join the Marine Corps. in 1975? Click on the link and revisit Hillary’s long history of doing what she does best (hint: it’s not  enacting sensible foreign and domestic policies for a democratic nation).

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Hillary Clinton looking puzzled

“Hey, you act like it’s my fault these people keep believing my lies!”

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III. HILLARY’S GREATEST ACCOMPLISHMENTS AS SECRETARY OF STATE ARE NOTHING YOU’D WANT ON YOUR RESUME!

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Very telling is this PJTV video where several Hillary supporters are asked what they think Hillary’s greatest accomplishments as Secretary of State happen to be. Note how none of them can actually point out anything substantive, instead giving numerous statements of how cool it would be to have a woman president (Jill Stein and Sedinam Curry, please!); or how one of them said it would be cool to have a Clinton family legacy in the White House just like we already had a Bush legacy; or how one interviewee mentioned that Hillary did “many” great things as Secretary of State, but he would be damned if he could name one, since he’s not up-to-date on politics (in other words, he has no idea what she did as Secretary of State, but who cares,’cause “Hillary is cool” and that’s the “in” thing to say!). Another says she made “no major mistakes” as Secretary of State… huh?! Um… Libya! Syria! Women’s rights activists in Honduras! (Sorry, feminist supporters of Hillary!) Baiting Russia and China! Need I go on?

 

Please note the numerous actions and policies, both domestic and foreign, which incited people to protest Hillary when she visited her home town of Chappaqua in this video. In particular is how she is taken to task for the cover-up and lies she was responsible for in Benghazi, when she refused to offer aid to four American journalists trapped there.

But now let’s look at what may arguably be her greatest accomplishment of all time: the brutal sustained and agonizing torture and murder of deposed Libyan leader Muammar Gaddafi.

Here is a link to a video of Hillary gleefully saying in an interview, “We came, we saw, he died!” regarding Muammar Gaddafi when the latter was barbarically beaten and sodomized with a spear by NATO rebels whose coup of the Libyan government was supported by the U.S. government, and largely orchestrated by Hillary circa 2011 during her reign as Secretary of State. And yes, that is seriously Hillary laughing about this in the interview; she is not  being taken out of context here! But c’mon now, Hillary isn’t the monster so many people try to make of her, right? Puh-lease, people! Look at her conduct in this video!

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Hillary Clinton with thumbs up

Hillary watching the video-taped mob murder of Muammar Gaddafi as she waited for her servant to finish making the popcorn.

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IV. BUT AT LEAST HILLARY’S NOT RACIST LIKE TRUMP, RIGHT? 

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Those among you who are actually informed about politics yet continue to say Hillary is a lesser evil than Trump often argue that unlike The Donald, she is not racist. That claim, of course, only holds the metaphorical H2O if you judge Trump by what he verbalizes forthrightly to what Hillary only says in code, and  you ignore the nature of the policies she has enacted and endorsed.

Someone whose intelligence and knowledge I greatly respect also recently told me to ask any black voter I know about this matter, and they will say they support Hillary Clinton. This must mean she cannot possibly be racist, right? Well, again, that’s only if you look past the self-serving networking Hillary has done with the black community due to her connections with the Democratic ticket and look at her coded statements and the end results of her policies.

 

Let’s take a look at both of these thing now.

 

We’ll start by revisiting Hillary’s statement about the group people chiefly targeted by the infamous, very conservative “three strikes and you’re out” Crime Bill of 1994, enacted by   her husband and endorsed heavily by First Lady Hillary herself, specifically the group of young people she referred to as “super-predators”. Here is Exhibit #1. It quickly became evident that the term “super-predator” was a loaded slur against young black people. In case you want to argue that it was not young black people she was referring to with that word, consider this uncomfortable fact: that 1994 legislation resulted in mass incarceration of a disproportionate number of young black males, which made it quite clear whom these laws were heavily targeting. I would wager that the large number of black people who support Hillary are ignorant of this fact, just like the bulk of everyone outside of the 1% who continues to support her.

 

Let’s now look at this Exhibit #2, a video where we see young black activist                           Ashley Williams (not to be confused with that guy on Starz who kills the Deadites!), who paid $500 to attend one of Hillary’s speeches (hey, the rich have to make a living, right?) and there demanded an apology for underhandedly referring to young black people as “super-predators” while endorsing legislation which resulted in a record number of incarcerations for young blacks, particularly males. Please note that a huge amount of these incarcerations were not due to gang violence or theft of property, but for non-violent drug-related crimes such as purchasing or smoking marijuana. It’s been estimated that four times as many young blacks were arrested and incarcerated under these drug laws than white youths, despite it being well-known that white people partake of recreational drugs more often than black people. Note Hillary dismissing Ashley’s questions in that video, and how the young woman ended up escorted out for her confrontational questions (after spending $500 to attend! For that, was she supposed to just listen and not be heard?).

 

Hmmm, I wonder if Ashley Williams would be one of those black voters who are quick to endorse the woman who endorsed this legislation. Or how about the Latino activists telling Hillary she isn’t welcome for all of her many atrocities during her speech recorded in this video? I see no great love for Hillary there among minority activists.

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Hillary Clinton going military

“My major regret is that I couldn’t be there taking pot shots at those silly little Syrians myself! I’ll have to spend another 48 hours straight playing  Call of Duty  and  Full Auto  to get me out of this melancholy mood…”

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V. OWNING UP TO THE EVIDENCE

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With all of this evidence made clear, I would like to respectfully ask all Hillary supporters to take a hard, objective look at this evidence, and at the same time, to take a hard, objective look at their reasons for supporting her. While you’re at it, I ask you to please take an equally hard look at why you continue to support the Democrats, and why despite your personal situation — both social and financial — you continue to remain center-of-left in the political spectrum. As a member of the 99%, supporting Hillary and the Democrats in general benefits you in no way whatsoever, regardless of your gender, race, or job.
If you’re of feminist leanings, consider the true equality for women that would result if we achieved the eco-socialist objectives fought for by the Green Party and various smaller socialist organizations in the U.S.

If you simply want to better your situation in a material sense, then your continued support for one of the two major parties of capitalism are going to leave you exactly in the situation you and millions of your fellow 99% are in, and endanger those of the “middle class” into ending up in precisely the same situation during when the next capitalist economic crisis strikes, and President Hillary Clinton (or one of her successors) spends billions of taxpayer dollars to bail out the multi-billionaire culprits — just as Obama did with the bankers in 2008.

If you are suffering from health problems and worry about how you’re going to pay for it, then consider how Hillary callously boasted during her sparring with Bernie Sanders (who has now capitulated to her) that it’s improper to have a  “theoretical debate” about universal health care, since it’s something that will “never, ever come to pass” in the U.S… that is, if she and her fellow Democrats and centrists in Washington have anything to say about it.  How is this benefiting you as a member of the 99%, who is going to have to pay out the arse for expensive health insurance and pharmaceuticals to even hope to partially cover any medical expenses you may incur? And how does this make Hillary even remotely a decent person who is in any way capable of looking beyond the perspective of Wall Street?

If you actually want to see terrorism and the cycle of violence plaguing the U.S. and elsewhere in the Western world finally end; and, if you should also happen to care about the lives of innocent families in the Middle East who routinely see their homes and family members blown to bits by U.S. drones as a result of the government’s present policy of perpetual war and a capitalist system which thrives on war profiteering, then you need to realize that an inveterate war-monger like Hillary Clinton and her fellow centrist Democrats are going to continue with these policies and the general militarization of our culture and social mindset that is the main source of terrorist spree killings (sorry, but it’s not the mere availability of guns alone which causes the problem! The typical, emotionally driven fear of guns by Democrats — so long as they are in the hands of civilians, that is — are both hypocritical and ineffective considering the militarization and pro-violence mentality which so many Democratic politicians gleefully support when it’s soldiers abroad and police officers on our own streets literally taking the shots).

Consider all of the following. Hillary and company are going to continue committing numerous war crimes in your name, and continue to spend 57 cents of every single tax dollar on the Pentagon to fight numerous wars that will in no way benefit the 99% at home. Now please ask yourselves the following questions:

What is going to happen as a result of her continued baiting of Russia and China? What is her continued support for Israel and its war crimes against the Palestinians going to mean for the U.S.’s standing in the world? Do you seriously believe that Hillary will cease supporting the ruling family of Saudi Arabia, which a lot of evidence suggests is the true supplier and financier of most fundamentalist Middle Eastern terrorist groups? Do you seriously think she is going to reverse Obama’s blocking of the 9/11 families suing Saudi Arabia for its complicity in the 9/11 tragedy? (And you gotta love his business-oriented rationale for opposing this legislation! And how it will “open the doors” to the many foreigners who lost family and property to the U.S. government’s drones from suing the U.S.! Who wants to leave themselves open to the consequences for their actions, right, Mr. President?) How can you possibly argue that those who cover for terrorist-supporters for what amount to business and P.R. reasons, and falsely blame and attack sovereign nations who had nothing to do with it for similar business reasons (it’s all about the oil and establishing oppressive regimes friendly to U.S. corporate interests!), are “not the monsters some people claim they are”?

Seriously, why do you give that much moral deference to those who have sizable political and economic power over and above the 99% of us who do not? Would you think as highly of your fellow labor class neighbor if he blew up a tenement full of innocent people to get maybe one or two vicious drug dealers? Conversely, would you call the police on any of your working class neighbors and have them harshly incarcerated and indicted simply for smoking a joint? Would you trust a neighbor who was constantly caught lying to house-sit for you when you were away? How much respect would you have for a fellow 99 percenter neighbor who paid a bunch of thugs to slowly beat and torture someone who refused to do business with them to death, and ended the whole thing by shoving a sharpened blade up their rectum? Would someone who was commander-in-chief of the U.S. military that did such things be more  or less  of a threat than one of these hypothetical working class neighbors who did the same thing?

I respectfully ask everyone who supports Hillary and bothers to read this blog to reflect on the above questions and seriously think about them. If you fancy yourself a true progressive, I ask you to reflect on why you continue to be loyal to this economic system and one of the two parties who continue to represent the interests of its small handful of beneficiaries (and that’s not  you, my fellow 99 percenters!). Finally, ask yourself this: how does being a centrist benefit you in any way, shape, or form?

And in closing, considering all of the above, why not support constituents of a third party who truly represent the 99%, and actually supports fundamental change in the structure of the economy that are geared towards ending rather than perpetuating the economic equality which is the source of all the major problems in human civilization, including those making your own life so difficult? Think about it, people, the next time you give Hillary, or any other Democrat, such a firm defense.  I also ask those who choose to wash their hands of the entire political process and vote for  no one at all  to likewise consider these important questions.

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Hillary Clinton doing the LOL

Hillary: “Bwah-ha-hah!” 

Off-panel commentator: “Okay, okay, Hillary, I won’t bring up universal health care again. But you will cancel this $180,000 of college debt I incurred to become a journalist, right?” 

Hillary: “BWAH-HAH-HAAHH!” 

Off-panel commentator: “Okay, alright, I’ll get back to the subject of improving drone technology…” 

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Nine-Year-Old Reporter Stands Up To Adult Bigotry

Hilde responds to critics02

 

Adults can get very  hostile and vicious with anyone “underage” who breaks type and challenges the very strict ageist paradigms that our society imposes on children and younger teens. They will claim they are out to “protect” these kids and look out for their “best interests,” but the extremely vitriolic behavior they exhibit if a youth refuses to adhere to the artificial limitations and restrictions society places on them suggests something else entirely. That type of behavior sounds a lot more like waves of harassment, condescending insults, hate-mongering, and sheer venting than anything resembling “protection” or well-intentioned advice.

In fact, this type of horrendously mean-spirited behavior, which has recently become an online trend described as “call-out culture,” regularly goes beyond anything that anyone could call “helpful” or “protective,” or anything that a rational person could possibly perceive as having any type of positive emotional effect on the younger person it’s directed at.

Call-out culture is certainly not aimed at younger people alone, and it’s part of a wider problem in the way politics plays out on social media that I will doubtless address in a future blog. This particular blog, however, is dedicated to a major recent example of the type of behavior that adults can exhibit towards underagers who “rock the boat” and do something great and positive that threatens the framework of our adult-dominated society and the “proper place” that younger people are expected to keep themselves quietly tucked away in. And as noted above, these cruel attacks are clearly anger, resentment, and venting masquerading as “concern” for the well-being of younger people.

The particular case in point is a brilliant and motivated American nine-year-old reporter and digital newspaper publisher named Hilde Kate Lysiak, founder of the Orange Street News (it has a community Facebook page and YouTube channel, so I ask all of my readers to look up both and give her your support, whether you’re fellow youth liberationists and anti-adultists or simply mainstream thinkers who happen to be greatly impressed by Hilde’s hard work and gumption!).

How Hilde’s interest in reporting came to pass is interesting to note. Her father, Matthew Lysiak, is himself a reporter who worked for the New York Daily News, and he got his daughter interested in the vocation during the course of his work with the paper, which included sometimes bringing her to the office with him. This leads to a segue that I believe is important to mention, as this aspect of Hilde’s story has some important relevance to the youth liberation platform in regards to education.

I believe that the origin of Hilde’s career in reporting proves that our current autocratic schooling system isn’t the only way a young person can acquire an education, and in fact, its strict standardized methodology is not actually designed to identify a student’s individual talents and interests and then nurture them. However, Hilde got the equivalent of the apprenticeships younger people used to routinely receive prior to youths losing all of their rights and being all but excluded from the job market once the Industrial Revolution came of age. Unfortunately, modern progressives continue to shamefully brag about how their predecessors helped establish child labor laws as we know them today, citing the sweatshop conditions of America’s early factory environment as being the justification — as opposed to making the more humane and conscientious choice of fighting and ending sweatshop conditions for all  laborers instead.

So I ask all of my readers to please note that nothing about the conditions under which Hilde works is remotely indicative of a sweatshop, or inhumane in any way. She is in charge of her own work conditions, and she finds it both enjoyable and intellectually stimulating, not to mention very educational on many levels. Most people’s hobbies can be turned into a marketable job skill (for as long as we’re stuck with capitalism), and provide a job that is personally meaningful. This builds skill and individual drive in a positive way that no classroom in the current system can possibly teach.

Modern apprenticeships for younger people can easily take such a form in a youth liberated society. Hilde is undoubtedly very bright and talented, but I’d wager she is not  a prodigy. Many younger people her age could likely use modern technology to do useful and important forms of work for the community, and they fully deserve to earn both monetary and academic credit for doing so. More on this in future blogs (yup, brace yourselves! Mwah-hah-hah!).

Back to the main topic, and the point of all of the above. After Hilde found that she shared her father’s talent for reporting, the Orange Street News was born. Hilde proved that an eight-year-old (her age at the time) with a knack and dedication for this work is fully capable of handling all of the writing and interviews. She has help from her dad with editing (all writers need an editor) and (presumably) transportation to and from places that are too far for her to go via bicycle; and from her 12-year-old sister Isabella Rose, who helps via her own talent for video and photography.

All went well for the first six months, as long as Hilde only covered local news that the paper’s adult readers considered “cute.” But as soon as she decided to cover serious stories, beginning with a local suspected murder which she beat all of her competition in breaking the story on, Hilde evidently committed a cardinal sin in the mind of many of her adult readers/viewers: she did something that society feels a “mere” child of nine shouldn’t be doing. To their horror and abject disapproval, she was becoming a real  reporter instead of “just a kid doing something ‘safe’ and cute.” Or, to use late 19th century and early 20th century Southern pejorative parlance, she became the modern socio-political equivalent of an “uppity nigger.”

After she broke that important story is when all the hostility and condescending remarks began. One commenter said, “You are nine fucking years old. Seriously, what the fuck is going on?” Others said: “I am disgusted that this cute little girl thinks she is a real journalist. What happened to tea parties?”; and “Nine-year-old girls should be playing with dolls, not trying to be reporters.”

Yanno, because that’s what society expects (or insists) that girls her age should be doing, even if they want to make more out of their lives and start on the path before they turn 18, as if their life doesn’t truly begin until that arbitrarily designated age. Even the former mayor of the town of Selinsgrove, where the murder took place, added to the deluge of hostility by calling Hilde’s story “sensationalist trash.”

Anyone who seriously tries to argue with me that these are well-intentioned words of genuine concern for the girl’s well-being that simply went a little “off-color” or a trite overboard needs a serious wake-up call. This is not the lingo of rational, thoughtful people, but a bunch of angry adults who are spewing venomous ad hominems  at Hilde for being a mere “child” who stepped out of line from what adult-dominated society considers to be her proper place. As long as she confines all of her activities to tea parties, or playing with the latest Barbie doll, or sequestered away in the heavily state-controlled mandatory classroom learning only what the adult staff wants to teach her, she and her fellow youths are not in any position to make waves or prove what they are truly capable of.

In other words, to use another Southern American analogy, she is the modern equivalent of a person of color who dared enter an establishment with a “whites only” sign attached to the front door. If you seriously try to argue that these reactions do not parallel those used against other minority groups in the past for similarly stepping out of line, then you need to read them again and make honest comparisons to the similar statements made in the past. You simply have to replace words like “child” with terms like “nigger.” In either case, the dominant group in society feels threatened and offended by a member of a minority group overstepping their perceived place in the societal hierarchy, and the identical type of behavior predictably ensues. It’s simply directed at a different group in today’s world.

Hilde defiant - I Love Free Speech

The face of an uppity rabble rouser and target of derision by many “concerned” adults, who fail to believe that the message on her lapel button applies to people of all ages.

Of course, Hilde didn’t take the attacks sitting down, or allow herself to be backed into a corner sobbing in compliance, like these “haters” probably counted on her doing. She instead proved what she is made of  — which is certainly something far stronger than “sugar and spice, and everything nice” — by responding to these comments on video, and strongly refuted them. With the tenacity of a knightress in glittering armor, she stood up for her right to be recognized for her proven merits and talents regardless of being “too young” in society’s eyes, and for breaking type and daring to challenge the paradigm (by proving it wrong).

She said, “It kind of gets me angry because, just because I’m nine doesn’t mean I can’t do a great story. It doesn’t mean I can’t be a reporter.” Then she said, “I know this makes some of you uncomfortable, and I know some of you just want me to sit down and be quiet because I’m nine. But if you want me to stop covering news, then you get off your computer and do something about the news. There, is that cute enough for you?”

reporter

“OMG, who  did you just say is horning in on my privileged territory here? I’ll have to send histrionic, expletive-filled attacks to the comments section of her newspaper! Yup, once she sees all of that she’ll probably start crying like a baby and go back to spending her time having tea parties or breaking in her newest Dora the Explorer jungle play set! And I’ll look like a good guy for showing ‘concern’ over her well-being! Ha ha yup, that’s exactly how it’ll go down…”

You go, girl! It’s nice to see that Hilde is not bowing before relentless adult hostility and pressure to only be what they want her to be, on their terms and on their pre-determined, standardized time table (i.e., not until she turns 18). And kudos to her father for being unlike these other adults who feel so threatened and outraged by a nine-year-old girl proving she is capable of doing something so awesome. Mr. Lysiak took all the usual flack for this as well, as one might expect of a member of the dominant group acting much more enlightened than a typical member of his demographic for this particular time period. Nevertheless, he represents hope for the future in his own way as well, and offers further proof that adults in general, and parents in particular, are not destined to be at odds with showing youth proper respect and personhood.

Hilde’s brave and determined stance was eventually rewarded by other commenters supporting her, one of them calling her a “hero” and one of her YouTube followers telling her, “You go tiny newsperson, don’t let them get you down.” Hope for a better world in the future was offered by some of the more thoughtful and enlightened adults who were themselves able to break type, and they showed this youth reporter all the respect she had rightfully earned.

Hilde delivering paper

Warning to all ageist people: if you get in this  girl’s way, she will ride straight over you! And you won’t be the first opponent she’s crushed. Hah!

Of course, Hilde is far from alone in dealing with something like this when an “underager” dares to go against the expectations of an adult-dominated system. And once again, any attempt by these adults to say they are genuinely concerned is negated by the obvious degree of anger and resentment in their voices, and the clear intent to inflict emotional pain. I urge all who reacted this way to Hilde’s career, as well as those who may be reading this who find themselves tempted  to react that way, to please take a step back, consider your actions, and ask yourselves some very difficult questions about your own state of thinking.

 

One final segue of relevance I’d like to bring up before closing this blog.

I believe this situation neatly answers the following oft-heard question from detractors of youth liberation: “If younger people really wanted their ‘freedom’, why aren’t more of them standing up for it?” Well, they are! They are simply not doing it by running around with picket signs in front of City Hall or Capitol Hill. They know they would be dragged home by squads of police if they did that, and then likely grounded by their parents (except for those who may have cool and more enlightened parents, like Hilde does). Others rebel in an anti-social manner by “acting out” in various ways similar to how pre-Civil War chattel slaves would do on the Southern plantations (e.g., by secretly destroying equipment, injuring livestock, quietly talking resentfully about the more privileged house slaves, etc.).

 

I will quickly note that one of the great things about this particular case is how it proves that children, as well as younger teens, are capable of accomplishing great things and handling responsibility if given the opportunities and support. The youth liberation movement currently and understandably focuses much of its energy on emancipating adolescents, but it’s clear that children below the “teen” prefix are also quite worthy of the movement’s support.

 

But still others are doing what Hilde is doing, i.e.,  showing what they are capable of against all of the hateful barbs projected at them by adults. This is similar to what 17-year-old Elijah D. Manley is doing by running for President of the United States, with the similar degree of vicious harassment he has endured from mostly adult detractors, and why I’m proud to chair his campaign team much as I’m extremely proud of Hilde and the growing number of other youths are working so hard to break type and prove their mettle in an adult-dominated world.

This story was picked up by The Guardian, and is linked here as my source. Here is a link to the Columbia Journalism review of Hilde’s paper, soon after she started it at the age of eight.

Hilde responds to critics

Hilde Lysiak responds to critics in a YouTube video. The young warrior smites the opposition!

How Modern America Resembles The Roman Republic During Its Twilight Years (Guest Blog)

Roman Republic01

“Are all of us related by blood at this point?”

The following is a guest blog courtesy of fellow author and playwright David MacDowell Blue. It’s an article he posted on Facebook circa November 28, 2012 under the title “Roman/American Republics,” but hardly out of date in its relevance. It’s edited only for grammar, not content. You can see more of David’s work at his blog http://zahirblue.blogspot.com/.

Let us begin following the triple asterisks.

***

 

During the Bush Administration, many complained of the US sliding towards fascism.  We engaged in an aggressive war on a flimsy, later totally dis-proven premise.  We suspended civil liberties.  The White House authorized the use of torture.  Today, with a different President, another group makes the same accusation because of health care reform and increased regulation, coupled with extreme paranoia about what they evidently see as a “cult of personality” surrounding Barack Obama.

This is a gigantic set of issues, and I don’t intend to explore them in full.  But I would posit that references to fascism seem off-target.  Actual fascist states of the past–Germany, Spain, Italy, Japan, Cambodia, Revolutionary France, etc.–arise with little or no tradition of democracy or civil liberties.  This does not describe the United States of America, not even a little bit.  The USA reveres its Constitution, the Founding Fathers, and the whole idea of “rights” in a way akin to religious faith.

Which makes us far more similar to another historical precedent.  One we therefore should study a bit more.  I refer to the Roman Republic.

Rome adored the fact that it had cast out its kings.  Even to hint at taking a royal crown was to touch on a deep reservoir of genuine rage–as Julius Caesar discovered at the business end of a few dozen daggers.  His successor proved more canny, preserving all the mechanisms of representative government and providing lip service to its ideals while retaining all actual authority in his own hands.  Many blame Caesar and Augustus both for ending the Republic.  In fact, they were merely the culmination of a long process that took several centuries.  And here we get into an important parallel.

Having a legislature is no guarantee of political freedom.  Nor is having a Bill of Rights.  The Weimar Republic of Germany had both.  The military pledging absolute loyalty to one unelected official who serves for life is likewise not an indication of tyranny; every single member of the armed forces of the UK do precisely that.  Not that structure and institutions don’t matter!  They do!  Very very much!  But without the attitudes, the sense of what remains “beyond the pale,” the emotional commitment by large enough segments of most parts of society–it all comes to nought.  We don’t simply “have” legal rights and civil liberties.  They don’t exist outside of a social context.  In actual practice, we grant those things to each other and our emotional commitment to what maintains them keeps them real.  In the old Roman Republic, one of the key problems that led to their end was a class.  More precisely, the ideas inherent in such a class.  I’m speaking of the Patricians.

As a group, Patricians regarded themselves as aristocrats, the best of the best and inherently superior to others–be they foreigners or merely those from “younger” or poorer families.  They looked upon privilege and special treatment as part of the moral order, at least as long as they themselves received the same.  Looking upon non-Patricians, they saw inferiors: lazy, dirty, foolish, unimportant.  Barely people at all, but just tools to support the Patricians.  Workers to build and maintain Patrician homes, soldiers to fight and die in order to increase Patrician wealth and power, and voters to be manipulated into keeping Patricians in office.  And this seemed in no way hypocritical.  After all, the Constitution was a contract and it (quite rightly) could be manipulated to give Patrician individuals and families more and more and more.  That sometimes others used it to make their own lives better was a distortion of the proper order, to be repaired as soon as was feasible.

Keep in mind, plenty of individual Patricians disagreed with this world view, e.g., the Gracci brothers, when they took up the cause of the lower classes, demanding equal rights and reform. First one, and then the other, were assassinated.  An eerie coincidence, yes?

 

Roman Republic03

“Who the pluto just just dumped off a bull killed in the arena and a pleb run over by one of our chariots in the middle of the street here? Garbage pickup isn’t until next Juno’s Day! They’re going to attract all kinds of flies in the meantime! We need to write a bill prohibiting the dumping of garbage more than two days before pickup day.”

“Aye, fellow Senator, you’re right as Jove about that! Say, is that a real gold bracelet around that pleb’s ankle?”

 

At heart, Patricians saw themselves as the state, the nation, and the natural leaders of same.  Laws existed to be manipulated for personal gain.  Ideals of equality and protection of other classes were not to be taken seriously.  So they gradually whittled away at constitutional protections.  They turned Rome’s military increasingly into mercenary armies dedicated to Patrician leaders rather than the nation as a whole.  Laws became subject to exceptions, not just now and then but routinely.  Politics increasingly became about whipping up the mob and aiming them at opponents, usually amid scandalous charges that often had nothing whatsoever to do with truth.  Anyone who might regard this as somehow wrong became viewed as being guilty of rank naivete.

 

Roman Republic02

‘Cause everyone loves hockey and hierarchies…

I think that is the real threat we face.  The rise of just such a class.  Surely one of the most obvious symptoms of this would be the recording published by MOTHER JONES magazine of Mitt Romney’s comments about the “47 percent” (and believe me, he said a lot more along the same lines).  It also shows in the frankly absurd idea that somehow cutting taxes on the wealthy (whose taxes are already at an all-time low) will somehow fix a large deficit.  C’mon.  Who can buy nonsense like that?  Another symptom is the use of private contractors (i.e., mercenaries) for American military operations in Iraq.

 

Roman soldiers01

“All right, everyone hired by the Black Wreath Co. can take a lunch break now as per company policy… but as for the regular enlisted centurions, keep fighting! For Rome and all its glory, waah-hooo!! Oh, and praise be to Mars!”

But lest any think I’m just picking on the Republicans or Conservatives, let us not forget the equally troubling but more subtle growth of political dynasties.  Look at how many people want Hilary Clinton, Andrew Cuomo, or Jeb Bush to run for president in 2016!  There’s a seat in the Senate literally known as the “Kennedy Senate Seat.”

This may sound like a lot of doom and gloom, but it isn’t meant as such.  Rather I offer this comment in the hope that we shall avoid Rome’s fate.  But right now, the growth of a Patrician class–not in terms of wealth but in attitude–seems to represent the single biggest threat to our nation’s character and future.

 

Roman Republic05

 This one speaks for itself 🙂