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Friday, October 21, 2016

Dump Trump, Defeat Racism and Misogyny, Build the Left

Republished from In These Times, 17 October 2016

Right now it feels like we're in an "emperor has no clothes" moment. A lot of us see something really clearly, but few of us-radical and revolutionary organizers-are willing to say it out loud.

So we’re going to say it. Defeating Trump in the presidential election is a top priority for the left. And at a minimum, that means mobilizing voters for Hillary Clinton in swing states even if you vote for another candidate in a safe state. We’ve got to beat Trump and Trumpism while building movements that will fight, resist and disrupt a Clinton administration that will be militaristic and pro-corporate.

Most of us on the left feel about the Clintons the way we feel about leftovers that have been sitting in the fridge for too long: repulsed. NAFTA, mass incarceration, Palestine, the 2003 Iraq invasion, legitimizing the coup in Honduras, cozying up to Wall Street—take your pick of crimes that can be laid at the Clintons’ feet. And judging from the DNC, the Clintons will talk a good game on economic inequality while resorting to jingoism and nationalism throughout the election. But if the Clintons’ neoliberal politics induces nausea, then Trump's brew of racism and misogyny makes us projectile vomit.

Many of our friends believe that Democratic and Republican parties, and their candidates, are both worthless, and the left should focus in this election on breaking the two party system; or they believe that a Clinton administration will just create more working-class disaffection and strengthen the extreme right. We disagree. And when we talk to people—whether community activists or simply our neighbors—about this election, we need to be clear about the stakes. When we hear people say they don't know who to vote for because both candidates are equally bad, we get worried.

At every opportunity, Trump has doubled down on racism, sexism and bigotry, to the delight of David Duke, the American Nazi Party, and others like them. A Trump victory—do we even need to say this?—would embolden hard-core racists, Islamophobes, misogynists, and anti-immigrant groups, while promising an assault on workers' rights and intense, perhaps very violent repression of the inspiring social movements that have erupted in the past several years. If you have any doubt about this, listen to his speech at the Republican National Convention.

As many have emphasized, we're not voting for the candidate; we're voting for the terrain our movements operate within. This election will set the stage for our future struggles. In the past eight years, movements— from Black Lives Matter to Fight for Fifteen, Occupy Wall Street to Standing Rock and Ni Uno Màs—have surged and changed the way we talk about everything from police accountability to student debt to deportations to the minimum wage. And more and more activists have learned that it is not enough to elect “good” politicians, that social change requires constant struggle. Under a Trump administration, our movements will be back on the defensive: His Supreme Court appointments alone could mean rollbacks on voting rights, reproductive rights, labor rights, and immigrant rights. And we can expect people to revert to blaming social inequality and systemic injustices mainly on Trump and the Republicans.

What kind of left do we want?

Can we leave the business of defeating Trump and electing Hillary Clinton to others —liberals or progressives—while we concentrate on the genuinely radical work of stoking protest and opposition from Clinton’s left? Can we bank on Trump's low poll numbers? It depends on the left we want to build. The vast majority of union activists and people of color view this election as a battle against open racism. If we want to build a left that engages and is part of these sectors—if we want a left that contends for leadership among the country as a whole—then we can’t afford to leave the basic task of defending democratic rights to others, even as we continue to criticize and protest.

Ideally, we would work to defeat Trump without volunteering or working directly for Clinton’s campaign. We should be able to send people to kick-ass grassroots organizations in swing states to help with election day turnout, organize phone banks from safe states to support their efforts, or maintain a presence at the polls to ensure voters of color are not intimidated. But whatever we choose to do, sitting out this election is not an option.

As we mentioned at the beginning, defeating Trump is not enough. We need movements strong enough to fight a Clinton administration on several fronts—whether Israel/Palestine, free trade agreements, climate change, a $15 minimum wage, or the prison-industrial complex. And neutralizing the appeal of the far right means we need to both strengthen our movements for racial justice andwin over white workers to a progressive class politics as an alternative to Trump’s racist economic nationalism. Finally, we need to build a left that can help anchor a visionary alternative to corporate Democrats. It won’t be easy, but we’ve come this far. Let’s defend what we’ve got in this election, and keep our eye on collective liberation.

In unity and struggle,

Moumita Ahmed, Millenials for Revolution*
Michael Albert, Z Communications*
Thomas Assefa, LeftRoots*
Austin Belali, organizer
Gary Broderick, Durham Association of Educators*
Meghan Brophy, Young Democratic Socialists*
Andres Celin, youth organizer
Reece Chenault, national coordinator, US Labor Against War*
Jung Hee Choi, nonprofit consultant
Christine Cordero, LeftRoots*
Chris Crass, anti-racist author and educator, Kentucky
Sendolo Diaminah, Freedom Road Socialist Organization*
Dan DiMaggio, labor journalist, Democratic Socialists of America*
Louis Head, Southwest Organizing Project*
Ashkaan Kashani, Young Democratic Socialists
Jason Negrón-Gonzales, labor activist
Abdul-Basit Haqq, Local 1067, Communications Workers of America*
Gregory Hom, SEIU 1021*
Sarah Hughes, PSC-CUNY, AFT 2334*
Lynn Koh, War Times*
Emily Lee, LeftRoots*
Charles Lenchner, People for Bernie*, act.tv*, Democratic Socialists of America*
Jack Suria Linares, immigrant rights and labor activist, Democratic Socialists of America*
David Littman, University of Georgia Young Democratic Socialists*
Timmy Lu, environmental justice organizer
Meredith Martin-Moats, McElroy House: organization for Cultural Resources*
Rev. Allyn Maxfield-Steele, faith-based organizer, Virginia
Ariel Morales, housing organizer
Shelby Murphy, Lamar University, Young Democratic Socialists*
Kayla Pace, Young Democratic Socialists*
Shameka L. Parrish-Wright, It's What We Do Special Project, LLC*, Carl and Anne Braden Memorial Center Board*
Cynthia Peters, LeftRoots*
Jardana Peacock, Liberatory Leadership Project*
Maria Poblet, executive director, Causa Justa/Just Cause*
Manju Rajendran, Anti-Oppression Resource and Training Alliance*, Ready the Ground Training Team*
Rapheal Randall, youth organizer
Merle Ratner, Vietnam Agent Orange Relief and Responsibility Campaign*
Spencer Resnick, LeftRoots*
Marc Rodrigues, Student/Farmworker Alliance*, Young Workers: Tampa Bay*
Ashley Rodriguez, Sanders national delegate, El Paso, Texas; Democratic Socialists of America el Chuco del Norte chapter*
Joel Solow, Vote Mob*
Alex Tom, community organizer
Carla F. Wallace, Showing Up for Racial Justice Action, Inc.*
Jayanni Webster, community organizer, Memphis, TN
Zoë Williams, community organizer, Denver, CO
Winnie Wong, People for Bernie*
Chris Zepeda-Millan, scholar activist

* organization affiliation for identification purposes only

In These Times is dedicated to providing an accessible forum for strategic debate on the Left. In this Up for Debate series, we host a range of views on what has become a divisive question: how to approach voting in the November presidential election.

Tuesday, October 18, 2016

Trump Super Predator behavior is Workplace Sexual Harassment writ large

Michelle Obama is absolutely right that Donald Trump's claims that his bragging about sexual assault amounted to "locker room talk" was an attack on men and well as women because most men don't talk that way. Athletes felted particular offended. LeBron James, of the Cleveland Cavaliers called Trump's remarks "trash talk" and said:
What is locker room talk to me? It’s not what that guy said. We don’t disrespect women in no shape or fashion in our locker room. That never comes up. Obviously, I got a mother-in-law, a wife, a mom and a daughter and those conversations just don’t go on in our locker room.

Coming up with her own version of "locker room talk," Melania Trump does a great disservice to both women and boys when she excuses his bragging about sexual assault as just "boy talk." I heard her tell this to Anderson Cooper on CNN about the time kids get out of school. I thought of the damage this could do to an adolescent boy trying to navigate complicated relationships with the opposite sex. How do you approach girls? What's proper and what's not okay? And he hears this beautiful woman, and potential First Lady, tell him that grabbing girls pussies is quite ordinary, just "boy talk." This "excuse" is very harmful and should be widely condemned. Young men growing up and paying attention to a presidential election for the first time, as I did in 1964 at the age of 16, must be told, in no uncertain terms, that what Donald Trump bragged about doing, and in now being widely belittled or denied by his surrogates, is sexual assault, morally repugnant and criminal.

On the other hand, Michelle Obama's speech was excellent. It didn't mention Trump by name and it soared above petty politics to make some very important points about this episode. I highly recommend you catch it if you haven't yet.

But there is one important point that Michelle Obama missed and I have yet to hear said by all the pundits discussing this: What Donald Trump has been doing for years should be viewed through the prism of workplace sexual harassment and violence. He has been aggressively sexually assaulting women, and not only has he gotten away with it for years, he has gotten away with bragging about it for years. He has been able to do this because he was the actual, virtual, or possible future employer of these women. Or simply because he was a big shot in the world they had to make it in. With his power and connections, they knew that he didn't have to be their direct employer to get them fired, and they knew he loves to fire people. This is what workplace sexual harassment looks like in the age of the independent contractor. The short story is that he could grab women by their pussies and get away with it because he was a capitalist in a class based society.

Donald Trump's accusers
The New York Times has reported that nearly 1 in 5 women in the US have been sexually assaulted. That doesn't mean that 20% of men in the US have commented sexual assault - far from it. The vast majority of these sexual assaults have been committed by a handful of sexual predators. Men like Donald Trump. As this does to press, 10 women have already come forward to charge Trump with sexual assault and word on the street is that the media has been talking to many more not yet willing to go public. It would not be surprising to learn that someone like Donald Trump has victimized hundreds of women over the past 30 years.

Not only would few men brag about sexually assaulting women, most men couldn't get away with it for long without being called on it and sent to jail for it. Very few women would put up with such behavior from a man that had no particular leverage over her, and even in cases where Trump didn't have direct power,  such as Jessica Leeds, who says Trump molested her in the first-class cabin on a flight to New York, they knew he was a powerful and vindictive person willing to resort to any lie to discredit them.

Leeds, certainly found that out the hard way this week even though it took her 36 years to go public. No sooner than she told her story to the media, than Trump and his surrogates were on that same media calling her a liar. Their proof? She said Trump raised the armrest between them and they said that was impossible because armrests couldn't be raised in 1st class. This was a lie made up on the fly. Armrests did raise in 1st class in the Braniff 727 Leeds shared with Trump. Once a CNN Money reporter did the legwork to find the facts they quietly dropped that line of attack but they are still doing everything they can to destroy her.

Donald Trump owns beauty contests for the same reason pedofiles run Boy Scout troops, it is a way to use his wealth to give him access to young women. Miss Washington USA 2013 Cassandra Searles told Rolling Stone how he “lined up [contestants] so he could get a closer look at his property.” Paromita Mitra of Mississippi said she saw this too. Searles also claims, in a facebook post, Trump grabbed her ass and invited her back to his hotel room.
Donald Trump owns beauty contests for the same reason pedofiles run Boy Scout troops.
Former Miss USA contestant Temple Taggart McDowell says Trump kissed her on the lips twice without her consent when she was 21, and four women in the 1997 Miss Teen USA beauty pageant have said Trump would walk into the contestants dressing room while they were changing. He bragged about this practice on the Howard Stern show in 2005 saying “Before a show, I’ll go backstage and everyone’s getting dressed, and everything else, and you know, no men are anywhere, and I’m allowed to go in because I’m the owner of the pageant and therefore I’m inspecting it.” He is clearly aware that his misogynistic practices are enabled by his ownership of capital. He called Alicia Machado, Trump's Miss Universe 1996, who is Venezuelan, "Miss Housekeeping," and when she gained weight, "Miss Piggy." Then he tried to slut-shame her in a series of 5 AM tweets. When Kamie Crawford, who is black, won Miss Teen USA in 2010, she was told prior to meeting him "Mr. Trump doesn't like black people. So don't take it the wrong way if he isn't extremely welcoming towards you. If he is, then u just must be the "type" of black he likes."

Although none of the women that have come forward so far worked directly for Trump, their employment contracts probably prohibit it. Most were in positions that made them vulnerable to Trump's power. Rachel Crooks was a receptionist at Trump Tower in 2005 when she says Trump assaulted her in a tower elevator. She didn't work for Trump directly but for a real estate company in the building. Natasha Stoynoff said Trump forced himself on her in 2005 at his Mar-a-Lago Club in Florida. She worked for People magazine, which certainly would have wanted to maintain access to The Donald. Mindy McGillivray was groped 2 years earlier at the same club as she was assisting a friend, the official club photographer. Cathy Heller was molested by Trump at Mar-a-Lago in 1997. Summer Zervos, a former “Apprentice” contestant, was hoping to get a job from Trump when he molested her. Jill Harth was beauty pageant producer that says Trump tried to rape her in his daughter's bedroom.

And so it goes in the Trump Towers. He is the Super Predator and every women in his domain is fair game. Trump's behavior reflects more than simple male chauvinism, it is the chauvinism of the emperor towards his subjects, the chauvinism that said the king could take any women in his empire at will. The problem revealed by this episode isn't just the bad behavior of one man. The larger problem is the accumulation of wealth and power by the 1% that enables the record of crimes we've seen from Donald Trump.

My other recent posts relating to this unique election cycle:
Is US Green Party's Jill Stein a holocaust denier?
Jill Stein now claiming Donald Trump is less of two evils
Did Dishonest Jill Stein change her Syria statement on the sly?
Republican support for Green Party @DrJillStein is emerging
Why "Jill not Hill" is a pro-Trump slogan
Donald Trump can only win if Jill Stein stays in

Syria is the Paris Commune of the 21st Century!

Click here for a list of my other blogs on Syria

Thursday, October 13, 2016

Green Party @DrJillStein Tweets about Trump's attacks on women

Sorry for the bait and switch. I know I promised you a collection of Green Party candidate Dr. Jill Stein's tweets about Donald Trump's outrageous attacks on women, but I couldn't find any. The whole country is talking about it. Michelle Obama's speech on this from earlier today is not to be missed. Jill Stein tweets almost as much as Donald Trump. I thought sure she would have some good tweets that contributed to this national dialogue, instead I have come up as empty of Gerardo Rivera when he opened the door to Al Capone's hidden vault. Anyway, this is all that I did find on Trump or Clinton, mostly on Clinton. I don't think she really opposes Trump at least not the way he treats women.

In this C-SPAN interview done two days ago she says nothing about Trump's sexual attacks on women. Jill Stein definitely sound's like Donald Trump is the lesser evil, which may be why C-SPAN titled it Jill Stein: Donald Trump is Better on Russia. While those who see in this clip a Stein endorsement of Trump are technically wrong, they definitely should be excused for getting that impression.

My other recent posts relating to this unique election cycle:
Is US Green Party's Jill Stein a holocaust denier?
Jill Stein now claiming Donald Trump is less of two evils
Did Dishonest Jill Stein change her Syria statement on the sly?
Republican support for Green Party @DrJillStein is emerging
Why "Jill not Hill" is a pro-Trump slogan
Donald Trump can only win if Jill Stein stays in

Syria is the Paris Commune of the 21st Century!

Click here for a list of my other blogs on Syria

Was Wikileaks dump a diversion from Trump Super Predator revelations?

I actually wrote the post below several days ago but I didn't publish it because the point it makes, that the first WikiLeaks release of Podesta-Clinton emails on Friday was about an hour after the Trump grope tape was published, was inconclusive. Although that timing can be used to support the claim that WikiLeaks released these emails as a Trump counter measure, it is also possible that it was indeed coincidental, given the rapid pace of developments in this campaign and Wikileak's earlier promise to make new Clinton email releases ahead of the second debate.

But I just heard Donald Trump make the argument at a rally today that turns this timing on its head. He is now claiming that the exposures of Trump as a sexual predator were started in response to the email dump. The timing I document below puts the lie to that.

There's an old cop saying: Never believe in coincidence. For example, it is almost certainly no accident that this tape got leaked days before the second debate. A little after 20:00 UTC on Friday 7 October 2016, the Washington Post released a lewd Trump tape that threatens to rock the Republican campaign to its core.

Less than an hour later, tt 20:32 UTC Wikileaks released the first 2050 of well over 50000 emails from Clinton Campaign Chairman John Podesta

This tweet was followed it quick succession by 20 others detailing revelations about the Clinton campaign from the released emails. Obviously this release had to have been planned well in advance. There is no question that it was a lucky break for the Trump campaign that this story broke just when they badly need a distraction from the lewd tape story.

Was it just fortuitous?

RT was first to report, just 13 minutes later:
Wikileaks releases over 2,000 emails from Clinton campaign chair

Published time: 7 Oct, 2016 20:45
The internet whistleblowing group Wikileaks released over 2,000 emails involving Hillary Clinton campaign chairman John Podesta. The release comes the same day the State Department published 350 emails previously deleted from Clinton's private server.

At first inspection the emails date as far back as 2008 to 2016 and cover the gamut from the mundane like "Hillary Clinton’s Chipotle Order” to “Call with HRC” to “My position on the Iran deal” sent from Nancy Rotering to John Podesta. More...
Syria is the Paris Commune of the 21st Century!

Click here for a list of my other blogs on Syria

Tuesday, October 11, 2016

Is US Green Party's Jill Stein a holocaust denier?

If you have no sympathy for human pain
The name of human you cannot retain

                        - 13th century Iranian poet, Sa’di Shirazi.
For several years now I have been saying that the Syrian conflict was turning into the first holocaust of the 21st century. Sunday, that conclusion was echoed by Martha Raddatz at the second presidential debate went she asked:

MARTHA RADDATZ: Mr. Trump, we’re going to move on. The heartbreaking video of a five-year-old Syrian boy named Omran sitting in an ambulance after being pulled from the rubble after an airstrike in Aleppo focused the world’s attention on the horrors of the war in Syria, with 136 million views on Facebook alone. But there are much worse images coming out of Aleppo every day now, where in the past few weeks alone 400 have been killed, at least 100 of them children. Just days ago, the State Department called for a war crimes investigation of the Syrian regime of Bashar al-Assad and its ally, Russia, for their bombardment of Aleppo. So this next question comes from social media, through Facebook. Diane from Pennsylvania asks: "If you were president, what would you do about Syria and the humanitarian crisis in Aleppo? Isn’t it a lot like the Holocaust, when the U.S. waited too long before we helped?"
Monday morning Democracy Now hosted Green Party presidential candidate Jill Stein for an extended show call Expanding the Debate in which Stein was given a chance to answer the same questions as those that were posed to the two contenders. In responding to the question above, Jill Stein did not even acknowledge the humanitarian crisis. Since it can't be said that she answered the question, it is good that Amy Goodman just asked her for comments:
AMY GOODMAN: Jill Stein, your final comment, presidential nominee of the Green Party, on this issue of Syria?

DR. JILL STEIN: So, Syria is a disaster, and it’s a very complicated disaster. It is a civil war. It is a proxy war among many nations. It is a pipeline war also between Russia and the Gulf states, who are competing to run their pipelines with fracked gas into Europe across Syria. So, this is a very complicated situation, and there is a hornets’ nest, a real circular firing squad of alliances here that’s, you know, extremely, extremely complicated.
Notice that ordinary Syrians are not mentioned. They exist neither as fighters against the Assad regime nor its victims. The phrase "civil war" hardly covers it, and it is not a "pipeline war", in spite of the attention she gives it. This is an Assad regime description she is parroting, and she is not providing leadership by telling us its "a very complicated disaster." We already know that! This conflict was growing the last time she ran for president four years ago, so there has been plenty of time for her to learn about the situation, particularly the humanitarian war crimes, and at least mention Syria in the Green Party platform.
To present a no-fly zone here as a solution is extremely dangerous.
This would seem to be an odd thing to say because, generally speaking, a no-fly zone is only proposed when civilians are being attacked from the air. The point of a no-fly zone is to protect people from danger, but Stein says creating a no-fly zone could be extremely dangerous. Dangerous to who? Is Stein saying a no-fly zone would be extremely dangerous for the people under the Syrian and Russian killing machines today?
Raising the spectra of "holocaust denier" was my hook. More important than the question of whether the half-million and growing death toll of the Syrian tragedy has risen to holocaust levels yet is whether the main Left candidate for president is in denial about the mass murder of civilians by Russian and government forces in Syria. Her, shall we say, "response" to the question "what would you do about Syria and the humanitarian crisis in Aleppo," contains not the slightest recognition that there even is a humanitarian crisis. She skips over the reason a no-fly zone is needed to arguments against one:
A no-fly zone means we are going to war with Russia, because it means we will be shooting down planes in the sky in order to create this no-fly zone, which is where Russia has a commitment to defending the Assad government.
Odd that she claims to run a moral campaign that asks voters to put principle above the practical, but then, while avoiding the need to come to people's aid, she promotes fear of what the killers might do to us if we interfere as the main reason to do nothing. There were those who opposed doing anything to stop the Nazis from killing Jews for the same reason.
So, remember, there was a ceasefire, which was very hard-won, and that ceasefire was destroyed by the action of the Americans bombing, apparently by mistake, although some people say not by mistake, but it was our bombing of the Syrian troops that destroyed that ceasefire.
This is what happened according to Vladimir Putin, Bashar al-Assad and Jill Stein. Others report that there never was a real ceasefire because Russia reserved the right to bomb terrorists and Russia only bombs terrorists, so while less bombing took place during the "ceasefire," it never really stopped. Aid and food was suppose to be allowed into besieged Aleppo during the seven day "ceasefire," but the Syrian government never allowed it, and the Russians bombed the aid convoy. The US has never targeted Assad's forces and everyone knows the US bombing of Syrian troops 18 Sept. was an accident, although Assad supporters find it useful, for propaganda purposes, to imply otherwise. In anycase, how this can be used to justify the resumption of the slaughter of women and children days later by Russian planes is something awaiting further explanation from Jill Stein:
We need to redouble our efforts here. And we need to acknowledge that war with Russia is not an option. There are 2,000 nuclear weapons on hair-trigger alert. And who was it that dropped out of the nuclear arms control? That was George Bush. That was our part, the U.S., in allowing the nuclear arms race to re-engage. Mikhail Gorbachev, the former premier of the Soviet Union, said last week—
Is she saying that Russia should be able to do whatever it wants in the world, invade and bomb whoever, and never be forcefully opposed because they've got nukes? This is a stand based on fear, not principle or any responsibility to protect human life. If the nuclear arms race re-engages, that will be the fault of the US according to Stein, but who is responsible for Russia's growing military aggression in Ukraine and Syria?
AMY GOODMAN: Ten seconds.

DR. JILL STEIN: —that we are now at a more dangerous period regarding nuclear war than we have ever been. So, it’s really important for the warmongers in the Democratic and Republican parties to be cooling their jets now and for us to be moving forward towards a weapons embargo and a freeze on the funding of those countries that are continuing to fund terrorist enterprises.
And that's what the Green Party candidate for president thinks of what is clearly the worst humanitarian crisis of the 21st century -- not much! This is because she is on the side of Bashar al-Assad. She has even said the US should help "to restore all of Syria to control by the government." From this we can assume that she supports the government's current campaign to crush any opposition in Aleppo and that is the reason for her silence about the humanitarian crisis this is causing. Her stand on Syria raises a couple of questions:

1) Why should people vote for such a person?

2) Is this the best example of leadership the Left can present?

@DrJillStein has dropped from 4% to 2%, meaning not only did she start at the bottom, she has lost support at a greater rate than any other candidate. That's no way to build a party. The Left should be able to do better than that. For more on her foreign policy see: Meet Green Party's Jill Stein, Putin sock-puppet & Assad apologist

Syria is the 1st holocaust of the 21st Century!

Click here for a list of my other blogs on Syria