Featured Post

The white-Left Part 1: The two meanings of white

Monday, December 26, 2016

Trump picks Jill Stein supporter as White House Press Secretary

Okay, this is a bit of a trick headline. Donald Trump has named Sean Spicer his new press secretary. Sean Spicer is best known as the communications director of the Republican National Committee, but his responsibility to see to the election of Donald Trump, as well as his own personal advancement, led him to be a strategy driven supporter of Green Party candidate Jill Stein, as exampled by these tweets:
Of course, he really wasn't a Jill Stein supporter in the sense that he actually wanted her to be elected president, but since she had absolutely no chance of that, those wants were immaterial. He most definitely was a Jill Stein supporter in the sense that he wanted to see her get as many votes as possible. Since he knew those votes would come from Hillary Clinton, he saw no contradiction between being a Trump supporter and a Stein supporter. He understood clearly, even if the fake Left didn't, that Jill Stein and the Green Party were helping to put Trump in the White House. Sean Spicer was smart to support Jill Stein. Post election results show that without Green Party help, Donald Trump would have lost.

This post will be successful if it gets across two important points: 1) Trump was just appointed a press secretary that is skilled at playing the Left, and 2) The Left can be played. This post is a warning.

My other recent posts relating to this unique election cycle:
fake Left's "Peace Candidate" starts a new nuclear arms race!
Jill Stein & US Green's make the Left look like a clown act
@DrJillStein now officially 'the Ralph Nader of 2016'
Where #NoDAPL covers for mass murder
Did Wikileaks call this election 10 years ago?
Did @DemocracyNow help elect President Trump?
Did the Green Party's @DrJillStein help Trump win?
How Green Party's Jill Stein tells two lies at once
Donald Trump wants to be the Last US President
Trump/Stein -- Stronger Together
Will Wikileaks "salt" the Clinton-Podesta emails before the election?
Trump Super Predator behavior is Workplace Sexual Harassment writ large
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
Does Donald Trump's secret plan to defeat ISIS involve using nukes?
Why doesn't "What's the Triad?" trump "What is Aleppo?"
Green Party Jill Stein's campaign in context
What should the Green Party do?
Greens could give White House to Trump as poll numbers even
Why Green Party's Jill Stein should drop her presidential bid
Amy Goodman should address this extremely important statement by her guest
How Jill Stein Tweets for Trump
HuffPost item shows how @JillStein campaign whitewashes @realDonaldTrump
Trump tells his '2nd Amendment people election will be stolen to prepare for insurrection
Trump didn't threaten Hillary, he threatened violent insurrection
Meet Green Party's Jill Stein, Putin sock-puppet & Assad apologist

Syria is the Paris Commune of the 21st Century!

Click here for a list of my other blogs on Syria

Friday, December 23, 2016

fake Left's "Peace Candidate" starts a new nuclear arms race!

The beginning of the Trump Presidency is now less than a month away and already it's clear that this will be the most reactionary and dangerous White House in living memory. In his cabinet picks he has surrounded himself with billionaires and generals, and his very closest advisers are well known white nationalists. This is how Amy Goodman described his pick for Defense Secretary:
Donald Trump referred to retired General Mattis by his nickname "Mad Dog," which he reportedly received after leading U.S. troops during the 2004 battle of Fallujah in Iraq. Mattis enlisted in the Marines at 19. He fought in the Persian Gulf War, in Afghanistan and then in Iraq, where he served as a major general. In May 2004, Mattis ordered an attack on a small Iraqi village that ended up killing about 42 people attending a wedding ceremony. Mattis went on to lead United States Central Command from 2010 to 2013, but the Obama administration cut short his tour over concerns Mattis was too hawkish on Iran, reportedly calling for a series of covert actions there. Mattis has drawn criticism over his apparent celebration of killing, including saying in 2005 about the Taliban, "It’s a hell of a lot of fun to shoot them."
In his campaign, Donald Trump promised to greatly strength the US military and yesterday we had this very troubling tweet from The Donald:
That same day, Russian President Vladmir Putin said:
"We need to strengthen the strategic nuclear forces, for that we should develop missiles capable of penetrating any current and prospective missile defense systems."
When asked to clarify the tweet, Trump told MSNBC's Mika Brzezinski:
“Let it be an arms race, we will outmatch them at every pass … and outlast them all.”
All recent US presidents have worked to lower the world's stockpile of nuclear weapons, realizing that the seven thousand plus nuclear warheads held by both the US and Russia are more than enough. Now it looks like that trend it to be broken and we off to a new nuclear arms race.

There are two great threats to humanity's future on this planet. One is global nuclear war and the other global warming. One is a quick death, and the other a slow one but either could definitively end this million year experiment we call human life on Earth. Compared to these two show stoppers, everything else can be overcome, everything else can be resolved, given enough time.

We are now to have a president intend on increasing the first danger while denying the second! He clearly sees a relationship between the two, connecting them is a constant theme of his:

Green Party presidential candidate Jill Stein didn't find Donald Trump's position on global warming particularly troublesome, she told an incredulous Washington Post Editorial Board:
the country would be no better off electing Ms. Clinton, who promises to continue Mr. Obama’s progress on warming, than Mr. Trump, who has said the whole thing is a hoax invented by the Chinese.
Then her campaign targeted Hillary Clinton as the most dangerous:

The fake Left helped put these fascists in the Oval Office by asking people not to vote for the lesser of two evils and even by painting Donald Trump as the lesser of the two evils. Before the election we heard a steady drumbeat from this fake Left, calling Clinton the "Warmonger" and trumpeting "The Donald" as "The Peace Candidate." Below is a sampling of Left rhetoric from Election Year 2016 some would just as soon we forget. I am publishing this because it is important that we remember.

Rosa Brooks called Donald Trump "The Peace Candidate" in Foreign Policy, 28 July 2016:
He alone can end 70 years of dangerous tensions with Russia — by extending a hand of friendship to our longtime adversary.

Justin Raimondo, writing for AntiWar.com, 29 February 2016, thinks the military-industrial complex is finished now:
If Trump secures the nomination, the way is paved for transforming the GOP from the party of perpetual war to the party that honors the long-forgotten “isolationist” Sen. Robert A. Taft, who used to be celebrated as "Mr. Republican." And if Trump actually wins the White House, the military-industrial complex is finished, along with the globalists who dominate foreign policy circles in Washington.
Glen Ford claimed in Black Agenda Report, 30 March 2016, that Trump is way to the Left of Clinton on foreign policy. Ford said "he's damn near anti-empire":
“Trump has rejected the whole gamut of U.S. imperial war rationales, from FDR straight through to the present.”

First, Donald Trump’s campaign showed that his white supporters couldn’t care less about the Republican elite’s economic agenda – in fact, they hated it. Now, “if Republican voters accept Trump’s assault on the ideological rationale undergirding U.S. foreign policy and its imperial structures, there will be nothing left of the GOP for the corporate rulers to defend.” If only the Democrats would split along the same lines.

William Greider, writing in The Nation, 23 March 2016, thought Donald Trump could be the military-industrial complex’s worst nightmare:
The Republican front-runner is against nation building. Imagine that. Trump wants to get the United States out of fighting other people’s wars. He thinks maybe NATO has outlived its usefulness.
John Pilger writing in counterpoint, 23 March 2016, said the war danger came from Clinton, not Trump:
He says the invasion of Iraq was a crime; he doesn’t want to go to war with Russia and China. The danger to the rest of us is not Trump, but Hillary Clinton.
Jean Bricmount writing, in counterpunch, 30 March 2016 called Trump a non-interventionist:
He is the first major political figure to call for “America First” meaning non-interventionism. He not only denounces the trillions of dollars spent in wars, deplores the dead and wounded American soldiers, but also speaks of the Iraqi victims of a war launched by a Republican President. He does so to a Republican public and manages to win its support. He denounces the empire of US military bases, claiming to prefer to build schools here in the United States. He wants good relations with Russia.
Stephen F. Cohen, The Nation, 6 April 2016
Cohen argues that only Donald Trump has said anything meaningful and critical of US bipartisan foreign policy. In effect, Trump has asked five fundamental (and dissenting) questions. Should the United States always be the world’s leader and policeman? What is NATO’s proper mission today, 25 years after the end of the Soviet Union and when international terrorism is the main threat to the West? Why does Washington repeatedly pursue a policy of regime change, in Iraq, Libya, possibly in Ukraine, and now in Damascus, even though it always ends in “disaster”? Why is the United States treating Putin’s Russia as an enemy and not as a security partner? And should US nuclear-weapons doctrine include a no–first use pledge, which it does not include? Cohen argues that Trump’s questions are fundamental and urgent,

William Blum writing on his blog, called Clinton "a war criminal who should be prosecuted:" 
“My main concern is foreign policy. American foreign policy is the greatest threat to world peace, prosperity, and the environment. And when it comes to foreign policy, Hillary Clinton is an unholy disaster. From Iraq and Syria to Libya and Honduras the world is a much worse place because of her; so much so that I’d call her a war criminal who should be prosecuted.”
John V. Walsh writing in Consortiumnews, called Trump "the relative peace candidate":
“My main concern is foreign policy. American foreign policy is the greatest threat to world peace, prosperity, and the environment. And when it comes to foreign policy, Hillary Clinton is an unholy disaster. From Iraq and Syria to Libya and Honduras the world is a much worse place because of her; so much so that I’d call her a war criminal who should be prosecuted.”
Time will tell but I think these Leftists are dead wrong.
The fake Left also did quite a bit of fearmongering in this election year. It became a propaganda staple that Hillary Clinton's call for a no-fly zone to protect Syrian civilians might involve shooting down Russian planes and that could lead to World War III, so we dare not do that. But when the slaughter in Aleppo was reaching a fever pitch, its not the United States that is able to negotiate a ceasefire with Russia, it was Turkey, a country that actual has shot down a Russian warplane in recent memory. They should also learn the lessons of this history.

My other recent posts relating to this unique election cycle:
Jill Stein & US Green's make the Left look like a clown act
@DrJillStein now officially 'the Ralph Nader of 2016'
Where #NoDAPL covers for mass murder
Did Wikileaks call this election 10 years ago?
Did @DemocracyNow help elect President Trump?
Did the Green Party's @DrJillStein help Trump win?
How Green Party's Jill Stein tells two lies at once
Donald Trump wants to be the Last US President
Trump/Stein -- Stronger Together
Will Wikileaks "salt" the Clinton-Podesta emails before the election?
Trump Super Predator behavior is Workplace Sexual Harassment writ large
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
Does Donald Trump's secret plan to defeat ISIS involve using nukes?
Why doesn't "What's the Triad?" trump "What is Aleppo?"
Green Party Jill Stein's campaign in context
What should the Green Party do?
Greens could give White House to Trump as poll numbers even
Why Green Party's Jill Stein should drop her presidential bid
Amy Goodman should address this extremely important statement by her guest
How Jill Stein Tweets for Trump
HuffPost item shows how @JillStein campaign whitewashes @realDonaldTrump
Trump tells his '2nd Amendment people election will be stolen to prepare for insurrection
Trump didn't threaten Hillary, he threatened violent insurrection
Meet Green Party's Jill Stein, Putin sock-puppet & Assad apologist

Syria is the Paris Commune of the 21st Century!

Click here for a list of my other blogs on Syria

Tuesday, December 20, 2016

White rage among Louis Proyect's "Marxist Scholars & Activists"

This is the time of year when accounts must be reconciled, summaries calculated, and the books closed on various chapters of the past so as to start the new year fresh. As 2016 draws to a close, I must account for my experiences with one small corner of the Left around  Louis Proyect's "Marxist Scholars & Activists" email list serve. I am documenting this history because it is a good example of the way in which white supremacist domination of the Left is blocking progress towards a much needed revolution in the United States, and has actually help put a white nationalist regime in the White House.

So who is Louis Proyect and why is it important that he calls himself a Marxist?

Karl Marx 1818-1883
Friedrich Engels 1820-1895
Louis Proyect is a Jill Stein supporter and occasional writer for counterpunch. He has also run an active Marxist email discussion list for about eighteen years. The basic critique of capitalism made by Karl Marx and Fredrick Engels over a hundred years ago remains valid today and the fundamental scientific theories and methods pioneered by them still remain essential to revolutionary progress. It is precisely because of this that they have been so badly maligned, distorted and misused over the decades. I was active on this list for most of the past year and it gave me an up close look at how this election played out in at least one Marxist circle.  Frankly, the main problems with the people's revolutions in Libya and Syria is that Marxism, also known as scientific socialism, isn't guiding them. Clearly, the wisdom of Marx and Engels didn't counsel the Green Party this year either. In all cases, the reason is the same, the corruption of those who claim to be Marxists. So in the interest of rooting out this corruption with history and exposure, I offer this inside look at how the election discussion developed among one small group of Green Party Marxists.

The National Question and the Election on Marxmail

In a heated discussion thread Subject line: [Marxism] victims of Trumpette violence? Kevin Lindemann and Cathy Campo ended a reply to me with:
It is somewhat presumptuous of you to make confident assertions about the dynamic between experienced organizers and new activists in Chicago. Marilyn Katz has first-hand knowledge of it; Joe Iosbaker has first-hand knowledge of it; you don't.

I fear this thread is becoming repetitive.
To which Louis Proyect chimed in:
On 3/15/16 11:55 AM, Kevin Lindemann and Cathy Campo via Marxism wrote:
I fear this thread is becoming repetitive.
And that prompted this eloquent response from Manuel Barrera, 15 Mar:
These two replies are exactly why Clay (and I) often comment about the "Whiteness" of these kinds of discussions. How dare someone like Clay press a point when he is challenged and how convenient it becomes for White radicals to judge such responses as "repetitive" and others assenting so as, essentially, to signal "they" have ended the conversation for us. I was about to reply to Clay for what I believe were his mistaken views on issues of "localism" and the perception that he is being challenged because he has nothing to say if he isn't "there". However, the discussion is considered ended because it is "repetitive", which to any activist of color engaged in numerous political debates has always meant that "our" desire to engage in debate is subject to dismissal at the behest of Whites who simply don't [want] to hear what we have to say or consider a contrary view: especially from people of color or women.

I do not even agree with Clay on the issues in this thread, but not because I believe that his method--to disagree by metaphor or short commentary indicating a point of view--is "repetitive" or otherwise exhausting the conversation. I have more in common with Cathy's and Kevin's (glad to see that the last message from Cathy was in her own voice rather than as a "couple"). However, I am forced to come to Clay's defense because of the utter dismissive, thoroughly privileged, "entitled" attitude that "repetitive" and "yup" so drippingly convey.
Louis's reply to Manuel was:
Nonsense. I can recognize when people are repeating themselves. If there is anything I have learned after moderating Marxmail for 18 years on May first, it is that.
Manuel Barrera had boldly criticized white chauvinist practises on the Marxmail list and Louis dismissed him with the one word "Nonsense." That thread drew the interest of 21 comments to that point and continued for a couple more. After that, I pretty much stopped posting to the list until August. Louis Proyect didn't like it when I started posting again.

Louis Proyect and the Green Party

Louis Proyect saw the election as an opportunity to build the Green Party and didn't think the Left should concern itself with the outcome because it wouldn't make any difference who won. Just days after Trump was nominated he posted this to his blog:
For many on the left, politics has become personality-driven as if our vote in November will have any major impact on what the ruling class decides to do about wars, the economy, killer cops, global warming or any of the other major problems facing us. In the final analysis, the state is the executive committee of the ruling class and will remains so as long as capitalism exists.
If Trump is elected, we have to mobilize to stop him in his tracks. The same thing goes for Hillary Clinton. As the economic situation continues to favor the billionaires they represent, we will have the opportunity to get across a radical message in a way that we haven’t since the 1930s. Let’s not waste that opportunity on ill-conceived maneuvering in the two-party system that needs to be abolished with the capitalist system it stands upon.
Like many in the Green Party Left, he saw no significant differences between the two evils, but he directed this critical fire against Clinton far more than Trump, probably because he assumed Clinton would win and he was just bringing forward the artillery he expected to be using against her after the election. That he fully expected Clinton to win was revealed by comments he made on the Marxmail list as early as June when he replied to Max:
I will buy you a bottle of Johnny Walker Black if Trump gets elected.
Ironically, he also posted this very prophetic warning from Micheal Albert, ZNET, 27 June 2016:
"What I should say is, yes, a large turnout for the Greens (and perhaps the abstention vote, too) can help inspire and even develop an organized, sustained opposition. But, to accumulate Green votes or abstentions and have Trump win would undo any benefits of the dissident tally under a mountain of debits due to Trump wielding state power. If we have lots of Green votes and lots of abstentions, but we get Trump in the Oval Office, we have not achieved the best possible outcome we could. More, nothing about wanting to develop a powerful, organized, sustained, left opposition is inconsistent with wanting Clinton to win the election itself. In fact, wanting Trump to lose is one aspect of wanting the most powerful left after the election."
Louis Proyect's three word rebuttal was: "what a jackass," and he poo-pooed talk of Trump's support for Putin:
If Trump truly was in bed with Putin, there would be a Trump Tower in Moscow by now, if not several.
And made fun of any suggestion we should support Clinton just to stop Trump:
So we need a popular front against Trump with Clinton standing in for FDR. Tragedy... Farce...

The National Question in August

5 August 2016, one of the few non-white members of this list, Joaquin Bustelo, left a very critical comment, all of which is quoted below:
So, like, I decided to drop in on one of my old haunts, the Marxism List. Lots of posts about Syria, so I decided to do a little research with the CTRL-F key combo.

Posts containing the word Syria since Aug. 1: 10

Posts containing the word Latino or Hispanic or Mexican or undocumented: 1, but actually that was the one I just sent so it doesn't really count because I sent it precisely because as far as this list is concerned, it looked like we'd met the same fate as Columbus's fourth ship: not only had we fallen off the edge, but everyone pretended we never even existed.

So make it:

Syria 10
Spics 0

And you can go back in the list archives and your count for Syria will keep rising, and your count for beaners won't.

Except for that one excerpt from an article about how dare a greaser spic like Lin Manuel Miranda not just play Alexander Hamilton, but conceive and write the whole damn musical about the man.

Maybe I'll write something more about that, generally on the theme of, scratch a liberal and find a pig. But for now I'm done.

Amith R.G. responded sarcastically:

How are we doing
Fortunately, Manuel Barrera called him to account:
Amith, check the bourgeois national chauvinism. Joaquín is Puerto Rican, I am Chicano, there are a few White guys playing pretend "Mexicans" on this list and, you know, Cuba is full of Cubans. Such racist epithets only expose your backwardness and render anything you say insupportable.
Amith replied that he was just trying to increase the search count for Manuel, as if that was his real complaint.

How I got banned from Marxmail

I joined Marxmail in April 2012 at Louis Proyect's invitation after he discovered my writings on Libya and Syria and saw that my views closely aligned this his, then. But even then, I found this Marxist group less than comradely. One of my first posts about Libya drew this comment:
Perhaps Claiborne has confused it with Sesame Street?
Four years later, when I suggested that black people saw very good reasons for supporting Hillary Clinton as a less evil alternative to Donald Trump, Louis Proyect replied, pointing to her husband's record:
So Clinton is "better" for Blacks. Well, she says so. Does it matter that her husband put an end to Aid to Families with Dependent Children that according to researchers reduced the average life span of a mother by a half a year? Probably not since the Black church, the Black political class, Black celebrities, every white liberal and most Black radicals are in agreement that she is "better" than Trump.
In my response, I summed up my basic stand on the election in one paragraph. This was 10 August 2016:
The problem is, that while Hillary Clinton may be just another Democrat, Donald Trump is the leader of a while supremacist movement of birthers and more that has hijacked the Republican party. While it is true that Hillary Clinton, like Barack Obama, supports the fundamental policies that support the white supremacist system, Donald Trump represents a much more aggressive form of white supremacy and if he is elected, it will be almost exclusively by white voters who supported this campaign that is making white chauvinism its center piece. These are critical realities of election year 2016 in the United States that Jill Stein's campaign is seeking to obscure in its very dangerous claim that it really doesn't matter if Donald Trump becomes our next POTUS
This drew the response from Louis Proyect that explains why I quoted Joaquin extensively above. In fact, I had to look it up to understand his reference below. It also contained his first threat to ban me from the list:
I don't need this demagogic race-baiting bullshit from either Clay or Joaquin. The next time I get even a whisper of it from them or anybody else, I will begin unsubbing people. After 18 years of moderating Marxmail, I have learned to figure out when people are tired of the list.
I will vote for Hillary Clinton on the same day I will hail the Chinese bureaucrats.
I replied:
Louis, Just to be clear. If Trump would win because Clinton was one vote short, would you still refuse to vote for her?
To which Louis Proyect responded:
I don't deal in hypotheticals. More to the point, I am for a left party in the USA.
Finally, isn't it time to recognize that the Trump campaign is toast? The numbers are devastating.
Another reason he so strongly opposed Hillary Clinton is that she was one of 75 senators that voted to give President George Bush the authorization to use military force in Iraq 13 years ago:
As senator, Hillary Clinton voted for the invasion of Iraq and Afghanistan that has led to a million deaths. Whatever faults there are in Jill Stein's position on Syria, it is only a position. I would never back a candidate for president who voted for the invasion of Iraq and Afghanistan. Clay, of course, is entitled to his own opinion.
Jill Stein and most of the Green Party Left base their claim that Hillary Clinton is warmonger first and foremost on her support for the armed protection of civilians in Libya and Syria, but Louis Proyect is "plagued" by relative clarity on those questions, so he is condemned to use this relatively feeble argument to call her a warmonger.

Then Carl G. Estabrook chimed in as to why Trump was really the lesser evil:
Clinton is both a neoliberal (more inequality) and a neocon (more war); Trump isn’t.
On 1 Sept, Louis Proyect again stated his strong opposition to Clinton:
I would rather be waterboarded than vote for Hillary Clinton.
And a few days later he tried to end all discussion on this political mailing list of a presidential election still more than two months away:
This thread on whether or not to vote for Clinton has reached the saturation point. People, including me, are repeating themselves. We may come back to it at some point but I want to close the discussion on it for the time being.
But when I called Black Agenda Report pro-Trump, after it published "Trump Way to the Left of Clinton on Foreign Policy – In Fact, He’s Damn Near Anti-Empire," Louis Proyect came back with:
Yeah, well, BAR is as "pro-Trump" as me, Jill Stein, and anybody else who doesn't want to join the Hillary Clinton express. If you want to use Marxist language to make this bogus argument even slightly credible, you need to say that we are "objectively pro-Trump". When you throw in "objectively", it gives you the necessary wiggle room.
Look again at the BAR headline, and by all means, read the article, for example:
“Trump has rejected the whole gamut of U.S. imperial war rationales, from FDR straight through to the present.”

If the Bernie Sanders campaign has propelled the word “socialism” – if not its actual meaning – into common, benign American usage, Donald Trump may have done the world an even greater service, by calling into question the very pillars of U.S. imperial policy: the NATO alliance; the U.S. nuclear “umbrella”;...
No wiggle room is necessary.

Mid-September Louis Proyect posted a piece "written on FB by [his] old friend from Bard College Richard Greener" titled "The presidential horse race" that claimed all the polling that showed a tight race were bogus. It ended:
When the totals are in and Hillary Clinton is easily elected you will not hear one word from the “pretend journalists” on TV about how badly they missed the results.
I only recall this because central to this so-called Marxist Green Party strategy was the faulty conclusion that Hillary Clinton was a shoe-in, so beating up on her could do no harm, and because now Louis Proyect is saying that he never expressed an opinion as to who he expected to win. The next day he posted another piece about the election to the list Hillary Clinton Takes Aim at Voters Drifting Toward Third Party, but after I replied:
a vote for a third-party candidate is a vote for Donald Trump
That is the bottom line in this election
Glenn Kissack remembered the new rules:
This is really getting repetitive. I got it the first time, the tenth time, the twentieth time: Vote for Hillary.

Weren’t we supposed to refrain from debating this?
To which Louis Proyect replied:
I should have said something about this. I decided that I couldn't impose a ban on "lesser evil" voting for Clinton because it is impossible to block discussion of the 2016 elections since they are just too dominant in the news and analysis on the left to ignore. I certainly resent Clay making the same points over and over again but at least we can assume that after November 2nd, he'll move on to other matters.
November 2nd? Did he know something about that date that I'm unaware of, or was he just confused about when the election he wanted to ban from discussion was actually taking place? As we shall see, he couldn't wait until November 8th, or even November 2nd to silence me on his list.

Louis Proyect began October by implying that if the Green Party was mostly white, the problem wasn't with them, and restating his absolute revulsion at the thought of voting for Hillary Clinton:
The CPUSA had a very mixed record on Black liberation. While being on the front lines of the civil rights movement, it was hostile to Black nationalism--accusing Malcolm X of dividing the working class, etc. It also propagandized for supporting Democrats just like Clay is doing now.

If the Greens have a mostly white membership, it is not because of its program. For example, Jill Stein favors reparations for slavery as opposed to Hillary Clinton supporter Adolph Reed, who despite his brief membership in the Trotskyist movement, argues that the call for reparations will divide the working class.
supporting the Democratic Party candidates in 2016 would make me feel irreparably damaged. Clay of course is entitled to his own opinions.
Presumably now with the alternative Trump presidency, he doesn't feel so bad.

On 4 October, the English language Middle East website Muftah published Louis Proyect's The Green Party and Syria, in which he attempts to defend Jill Stein.
Less than four hours after I announced plans on his list to submit this response to Muftah, Louis Proyect invited me to unsubscribe myself, warning:
Clay, the next time you make this kind of outrageous amalgam between Marxmail subscribers like me who back Jill Stein and fascism, I will unsub you. Once upon a time you were a constructive member of the list.
He was referring to this statement I'd made in an earlier post in which I pointed to the "chauvinist attacks" on the Libyan revolution being promoted within the Green Party attacks on Clinton, and said:
Louis may embrace his new friends but I stand by my defense of the Libyan revolution...Its no accident that US Greens turn out to be big supporters of fascism worldwide.
Jill Stein and Ajamu Baraka are the US Green Party standard bearers, and they both support Assad and speak well of Putin. Both of those leaders are fascists, so the facts are undeniable, but speaking truth to power usual results in a penalty. Six minutes after he warned me against stating such "outrageous" facts, he went ahead and unsubscribed me before I could post anything else to the list, saying:
Just after posting this [the public chastisement and warning - Clay], I realized that there is no point retaining Clay Claiborne on Marxmail and unsubbed him. 3 months of his provocations were tolerated by me because he hadn't caused problems in the past.
FYI 3 months ago, I started causing problems by penning responses like this:
The failure of the [White] Left on racism is not to be mocked. It is a tragedy and the main problem holding back world revolution.
Maybe, the point of not unsubbing me immediate after warning me could have been standing by his "warning" as if it was his word. It would seem a Proyect "warning" has something in common with a Putin "ceasefire." The problem is corruption on the Left.

After I had been banned, and couldn't respond, the Greens felt free to pile on like this from Thomas F Barton:
The labeling of US Greens as "big supporters of fascism" is slander, of the kind pioneered by the Stalinist filth who denounced the followers of Trotsky as agents of Hitler. The stench and methodology are no different.
and Mark Lause:
A simpler explanation than Stalinism is that it's simply a variation of the stupidities the Clinton camp peddles ...there's no way to have a rational discourse when the contest is about proving the strength of your feelings with a willingness to be irrational.
Well, allusions to "filth" and "stench"; "stupidity" and "irrationality" have been central psychological underpinnings of the white supremacist characterization of black people since they first brought us here on slave ships, and I've been kicked out of better places than that.

Louis Proyect's defense of Jill Stein's betrayal of the Syrian people is weak, and he has no response to my rebuttal except to try to shut me up where he can. Its his list so he can play dictator, but his banning me from it just provides one more example of why the corrupt US Left remains small, white and ineffective.

Pre-Election Witch Hunt

6 November 2016 after Jeff Meisner wrote :
It is sickening to see much of the American left playing out the anti-Clinton theme as if they can't figure out that this is the way you increase the vote for the (near-) fascist Trump. After all, no one has much nice to say about either viable candidate, so the way you support the one is by trashing the other so they will lose the "unpopularity contest" that the US election has become.
Amith R. G responded:
Also, if I remember correctly Clay was banned for reducing anti-Clinton sentiment to Trump apologetics. How about some equal treatment? God knows the list would lose nothing.
The point is simple: focusing on Trump's disgusting record has in fact been used to obscure Hillary Clinton's warmongering
7 November 2016 after Jeff posted a link to my piece in Muftah, with the comment:
Personally I don't think the Stein campaign is of great importance, but this piece also takes on broader questions of Syria and the (Western) left, and the way principles can be so easily compromised.
Louis Proyect responded:
Jeff, I have no idea of what your connection to Marxism is but when you speak of principles, there is none more sacrosanct that refusing to vote for bourgeois parties.
and told him to read V.I. Lenin on the Cadets. These Marxist scholars think words written by Lenin over a hundred years ago decide the important questions of this election when Lenin himself was only addressing this struggle of his times, not writing a bible for all revolutions. To this Jeff responded:
I'm glad you used the word "sacrosanct" rather than "well thought through in relation to the immediate context." Indeed, if you had asked me in previous years I would have used your exact formulation. Now I would change the "sacrosanct" principle to refusing to SUPPORT bourgeois parties. People should vote against Trump in order to stop what could be a fascist take-over (a danger that also exists if he loses the vote), and Clinton should absolutely NOT be supported. Marxists should tell the truth about her, and also the truth about Trump, neither of which deserves support, and then choose the best voting TACTIC. Just saying that they are both pro-capitalist could be a repeat of the ultraleft Stalinist tact in 1933 where Hitler was just another bourgeois politician, in fact one that would be easier to defeat subsequently. Right.
He then went on to suggest that if Bernie Sanders had been the Democratic candidate, the vocal Bernie supporters on the Marxist list would have voted for him. Addressing only Jeff's comment about Hitler, Louis responded:
You need to read Leon Trotsky on the rise of fascism in Germany. I can't waste bandwidth explaining the ABC's to you but you at least need to be more familiar with Marxism on such matters before embarrassing yourself.
If there is one annoying thing about most revolutionaries of all stripes it is that they are always trying to recruit you, but not these Marxist Scholars, if you're not quite their cup of tea, they want to drive you away. Other list members threw in some more quotes from Marx they thought settled the matter of what to do today, but when someone remembered that Karl Marx supported Abraham Lincoln, writing to him:
We congratulate the American people upon your re-election by a large majority. If resistance to the Slave Power was the reserved watchword of your first election, the triumphant war cry of your re-election is Death to Slavery.
David Walters went ballistic:
It is absolutely historically GROTESQUE to compare voting for Abraham Lincoln to Hillary Clinton. Are you stark raving mad, Thomas?
The day before the election was a busy one on Marxmail. Ken Hiebert wrote:
A vote for Clinton is not only a wasted vote for the status quo, it is a vote against the Green Party’s challenge to the two-party system of corporate rule.
Then added:
In order to vote for the lesser danger, you need to establish who is the lesser danger.
Gary MacLennan posted his opinion from afar:
I argued with all the power I could that in no shape or form should we buy into any variation of the lesser of two evils rubbish. [That for me is 'sacrosanct'btw]. If I lived in the States I would vote Stein, if I could. Otherwise I would abstain and loudly at that.
Mark Lause writes that the real question
is whether the party has actually built anything out of this campaign?
and then says about "voting for the lesser danger":
It's the nature of the beast that this is a fruitless exercise.

Post-election recover

Two days after the election Louis Proyect recommended Bob Buzzanco on the Trump Victory on his blog, which made it sound something like a proletariat win:
Donald Trump was opposed, vigorously, by Wall Street, by the media, by the ruling class, by other mega-billionaires like Cuban, Buffett, Gates. And he won. In a very fucked-up and dysfunctional way, it means democracy won out. The people beat the oligarchy.
Never mind the pesky facts like the Dow Jones soared to over 19,000 with small cap stocks up 11% between 11/8 and 11/22, so Wall St. wasn't too unhappy. Newsbusters reported that Trump got "1,773 minutes of evening news airtime during the first eight months of the year, far ahead of Clinton’s 1,020 minutes of coverage." Hr had plenty of billionaires behind him and has since brought many more on board. "The people beat the oligarchy"? Well, we will see about that.

When I reminded Louis Proyect of his prediction in a tweet:
He commented on the list he had banned me from:
Clay is funny. He tweeted about me predicting a Clinton victory as if I had any real idea of who would win. The only thing I brought to the table was a hostility to bourgeois parties that I learned in the Trotskyist movement in the 1960s
Checking Marxmail readonly online one last time just before publishing this I can see little has changed. Louis Proyect certainly has a unique way of building Marxist unity. 1 December 2016  he replied to a comrade who had criticized a piece on a website with which Louis Proyect is associated:
I wonder what you were writing 50 years ago that was so brilliant. North Star is trying to relate to young radicals not people like you who probably put their teeth in a jar before going to sleep at night.
So-called Leftists like these are controlling the institutions revolutionaries should be fighting from. This is why they must be dislodged and a new Left built.

Syria is the Paris Commune of the 21st Century!

Click here for a list of my other blogs on Syria

Monday, December 19, 2016

Bana Alabed has been evacuated from Aleppo

Bana Alabed, the seven-year-old girl who has been tweeting from eastern Aleppo, has been safely evacuated. She was among the first groups out after evacuations resumed from Aleppo late on Sunday.
BBC News is reporting:
Bana Alabed, Aleppo's tweeting girl, safely evacuated

19 December 2016

Bana and her family - mother Fatemah, father and two younger brothers - were airlifted to Turkey on Monday afternoon, the BBC has been told.

The little girl joined Twitter in September, tweeting about her life in the besieged part of the city. It captured everything from the death of her friends to her attempts to live a normal life.

Along the way, she has picked up more than 325,000 followers, including JK Rowling, who sent her an electronic copy of Harry Potter to read.

'Thank you'

However, as pro-government forces began to close in on rebel-held east Aleppo, the family began to fear for their safety.

In recent days, the Twitter account had appealed for rescue.

The last tweet signed by Bana read simply: "Please save us now." More...

Nobel Peace Prize winner Malala Yousafzai's statement on Aleppo:
Today I feel as though I’m watching the worst of our past repeat itself.

When I look at Syria, I see the Rwandan genocide. When I read the desperate words of Bana Alabed in Aleppo, I see Anne Frank in Amsterdam.

History shows us the same children suffering, the ones we always say we surely would have helped, if only we had been there. But history does not fall from the sky, it is us who make it.

To the children under siege in Aleppo, I pray that you will get out safely. I pray that you will grow up strong, go to school and see peace in your country some day.

But prayers are not enough. We must act. The international community must do everything they can to end to this inhumane war. The Syrian regime must give safe passage to people who want to leave and allow aid workers into Aleppo to save as many lives as they can.

May God be with the children of Aleppo, even if our world leaders are not.

BBC News did an extensive piece about her in October before her life was completely destroyed:
Meet the seven-year-old girl tweeting from Aleppo

2 October 2016
By David Molloy

Seven-year-old Bana Alabed tweeted a photo a week ago, sitting at a desk with a book, her doll in the background. "Good afternoon from Aleppo," the caption read. "I'm reading to forget the war."

Aleppo, Syria's second city, has been split in two during the country's long conflict. Daily life has become a struggle for those still living there, caught in the fight between rebel and government forces.

Bana's tweets in English - helped by her mother, a teacher - are bringing fresh attention to the struggles they face in rebel-held eastern Aleppo.

In one, Bana appears with her brothers - five-year-old Mohamed, and Noor, three - with the message "drawing with the brothers before the planes come. We need peace to draw."

A short video shows the three together in a bedroom. "We will live forever together," Bana says, before laughing and hugging her brothers. More...

Bellingcat has a good piece debunking the vicious pro-Assad campaign against Bana:
Finding Bana – Proving the Existence of a 7-Year-Old Girl in Eastern Aleppo

14 December 2016
By Nick Waters
This article was written collaboratively with Bellingcat contributor Timmi Allen.

Bana Alabed is a 7 year-old girl who lives in East Aleppo. Through her broken English and simple messages alternating between fear and hope, she has become a representation of the suffering that children face every day within Syria. She is also a star on Twitter. In the three months Bana Alabed’s account has been active it has amassed 284,000 followers, including J. K. Rowling, multiple news reports and over 580 tweets. She also posted multiple videos on Periscope which show her daily life, as well as the bombing that E. Aleppo has endured. Her rapid rise to prominence has resulted in questions from some about the veracity of Bana Alabed, her account and the subject matter she covers. This report will examine the media she has posted, the context in which it is posted, and its probable veracity. Due to the possibility of Bana’s account being deleted, all the tweets we have linked to are screenshots from cached pages. More...
Syria is the Paris Commune of the 21st Century!

Click here for a list of my other blogs on Syria

Sunday, December 18, 2016

General Wesley Clark & the Bruce Tanner Standard of Evidence

My Monday blog post, Save the civilians of East Aleppo, started a long email debate with one reader, Bruce Tanner about the Syrian conflict. Readers of this blog are already familiar with my POV on this question. Bruce's is decidedly different. For example, on Tuesday he wrote me:
If the Syrian government has been so savage against the people of the country, how can you explain the massive turnout for the presidential election in 2014, documented by international observers, under attacks by salafi terrorists who were doing truly indiscriminate bombardment with mortars, hell-cannon bombs, grad missiles, etc., to vote overwhelmingly for the continued administration of Assad?
Needless to say, the debate proceeded along familiar lines leading nowhere. After having denied any claim that I made in favor of the revolution, including refusing all citations from Al Jazeera simply because its from Qatar, Bruce began his last letter to me by saying what standard of proof he might be inclined to accept:
I abhor any violence against innocent civilians done by anyone, anytime. For instance, that against the civilians in Yemen currently being attacked indiscriminately with U.S. bombs while the American Air Force refuels the Saudi planes in the air.

If you have any actual evidence of deliberate attacks against Syrian civilians by their government (not including mistakes made in the course of the necessary combating of the invasion of the country by foreign-sponsored militias), I will be interested to see it. But only real, vetted evidence from sources that can be proven to exist. And of course, if there have been any such attacks, I certainly denounce them.
A half million Syrians dead and Bruce Tanner still doubts if the Assad regime has carried out any deliberate attacks against civilians! Then he goes on to repeat, at some length, his view that a legitimate Syrian government is the victim of a US regime change plot - and that's all there is to it:
Can you entertain the possibility that a decision was made, long in advance of the phony "Arab Spring" in Syria, to destabilize the country so that a puppet regime amenable to U.S./NATO/Israeli interests could be put into place? (as evidenced by this:
And the evidence that meets Bruce Tanner's high standard is that tired old 2007 Democracy Now interview in which General Wesley Clark, the fired four-star general who was the supreme allied commander of NATO during the Kosovo War, says that in 2001 an unnamed friend at the Pentagon told him he had a memo, which Wesley Clark says he never saw himself, which outlined a plan for regime change in seven countries, "starting with Iraq, and then Syria, Lebanon, Libya, Somalia, Sudan and, finishing off, Iran" in five years:

Here's a transcript:
About 10 days after 9/11, I went through the Pentagon, and I saw Secretary Rumsfeld and Deputy Secretary Wolfowitz. I went downstairs just to say hello to some of the people on the joint staff who used to work for me, and one of the generals called me in. He said, "Sir, you’ve got to come in and talk to me a second." I said, "Well, you’re too busy." He said, "No, no." He says, "We’ve made the decision we’re going to war with Iraq." This was on or about the 20th of September. I said, "We’re going to war with Iraq? Why?" He said, "I don’t know." He said, "I guess they don’t know what else to do." So I said, "Well, did they find some information connecting Saddam to al-Qaeda?" He said, "No, no." He says, "There’s nothing new that way. They just made the decision to go to war with Iraq." He said, "I guess it’s like we don’t know what to do about terrorists, but we’ve got a good military and we can take down governments." And he said, "I guess if the only tool you have is a hammer, every problem has to look like a nail."

So I came back to see him a few weeks later, and by that time we were bombing in Afghanistan. I said, "Are we still going to war with Iraq?" And he said, "Oh, it’s worse than that." He said—he reached over on his desk. He picked up a piece of paper, and he said, "I just got this down from upstairs," meaning the secretary of defense’s office, "today." And he said, "This is a memo that describes how we’re going to take out seven countries in five years, starting with Iraq, and then Syria, Lebanon, Libya, Somalia, Sudan and, finishing off, Iran." I said, "Is it classified?" He said, "Yes, sir." I said, "Well, don’t show it to me." And I saw him a year or so ago, and I said, "You remember that?" He said, "Sir, I didn’t show you that memo! I didn’t show it to you!"
Accordings to Bruce Tanner, the Arab revolts of 2011 and the resulting revolutions in Libya and Syria didn't come from the people's struggles against their oppression but instead had their origins in a five-sided building outside of Washington, DC, and Wesley Clark has given us the evidence. For many in the fakeLeft this interview is like a talisman they can wave at anyone calling upon them to support the revolutionary struggles of the people of the Middle East and Africa. It's their ultimate proof that those people aren't even masters of their own fate, white people in the Pentagon are. If I had a dollar for every time it has been waved at me over the past five years, I could have a much richer holiday season. There must be thousands of US Leftists that think they can disprove everything we have written about MENA in hundreds of posts since 2011 simply by offering these words of Wesley Clark as their "evidence."

I really can't believe that people are still sending me this video when it's almost 2017 and about a half-million Syrians have been killed, 95% by Assad and his Russian and Iranian supporters. With all the leaks from Wikileaks, Snowden, and others since 2001, this memo which Wesley Clark was only told about, has never surfaced, and the five year plan it was alleged to have laid out was almost over in 2007 when he revealed it, nevertheless it still is being promoted as some sort of ultimate truth that justifies how the US Left has letting down the people of Libya and Syria. In listening to this video and especially in reading the transcript, one would expect that it should have discredited itself in the eyes of any thinking person long ago, but some will always find it easy to believe what makes them feel good, so I guess the job of cleaning the stables is never done.

But before we get into that, just for the purposes of review, here is the people's agency those on the fakeLeft and altRight are intent on denying, as thousands turned out to demonstrate their support for the Syrian Revolution this week, even after all they've been through to this point:

Thousands rally in Turkey over east Aleppo | 17 Dec 2016

Hero of Homs Abdel Basset Sarout Leads Protests in Idlib | 16 Dec 2016

Taking Wesley Clark's statement at face value, the claim is that in early October 2001, an unnamed general at the Pentagon showed Wesley Clark "a piece of paper," and said it was a plan to carry out regime change in seven specific Middle East and African countries in five years. Because it was classified, Clark said he refused to look at it, although he apparently didn't admonished his friend for revealing it, so Wesley Clark has never even been in a position to testify that this memo actually existed. That rests entirely on the word of one unnamed general who Wesley Clark is vouching for. He really should have looked at it for himself, classified status be damned, if he was going to talk about it in open court.

Now consider this: Of all the hackers and leakers that have rocked our world since 9/11, none have had as great an impact, or paid as great a price, as Chelsea Manning. It is said that while she had access to Pentagon and State Department files, she gave us 482,832 documents on the Iraq War, 91,000 documents on the Afghan War, and 251,287 classified State Department cables, but not the one page memo that has been reported to be the master plan of all this that followed. If one believes Wesley Clark, that piece of paper has got to be the Holy Grail of all government documents, and yet in 15 years, not a trace of it has been leaked or hacked. WikiLeaks hasn't found it, Anonymous hasn't found it, Richard Snowden doesn't have it, and yet Bruce Tanner can promote it as the evidence that the deaths happening in Aleppo today were planned by the Pentagon 15 years ago! Such utter nonsense would be laughable if conditions in the world weren't so tragic.

There is also the question of how well this alleged plan actually correlates with reality. Wesley Clark supporters say that is the point, it explains what has been happening with the Arab Spring and in Libya and Syria. But that is such a stretch. It was a five year plan "starting with Iraq, then Syria and Lebanon, then Libya, then Somalia and Sudan, and back to Iran." So if it kicked off in 2003 with the invasion of Iraq by over 300,000 coalition troops, we should have seen a serious effort to overthrow Assad, second on Clark's list in the next year or so, if this bold plan to carry out seven regime change operations, consecutively by 2008, was to stay on track. Obviously that is not what happened. The post 2011 events this revelation is generally proffered to explain, took place after this plan was suppose to have ended and it was the government of Libya that fell second when it was fourth on Clark's friend's list. If he was a betting tout, a lot of clients would be asking for their money back and looking elsewhere for advise.

No doubt, supporters of the conspiracy theory would explain these discrepancies, together with the fact that this five year plan in now apparently going into fourteenth year, by necessary real world revisions forced on the Pentagon. If that were the case, we could expect to have found documentation of those revisions and at least references to the original memo Wesley Clark has made famous. Where are they?

The bottom line is that there isn't anything like a shred of evidence that this memo ever existed, let alone the grand plan it is reported to have outlined. This whole story, which has gained a life of its own, rests on the words of one man. So who is Wesley Clark? This is what Murtaza Hussain said about him in The Intercept, 20 July 2015 after Wesley Clark shocked his liberal supporters by calling for a revival of internment camps to help combat Muslim extremism:
The comments were shockingly out of character for Clark, who after serving as supreme allied commander of NATO made a name for himself in progressive political circles. In 2004, his campaign for the Democratic presidential nomination was highly critical of the Bush administration’s excessive response to the 9/11 terror attacks. Since then, he has been a critic of policies that violate the Geneva Convention, saying in 2006 that policies such as torture violate “the very values that [we] espouse.”

In a memoir written the following year, he also famously alleged that the White House under Bush had developed a massively imperialistic plan for the Middle East, which would see the administration attempt to “take out seven countries in five years,” beginning with the invasions in Iraq and Afghanistan.
This image of Wesley Clark as the progressive anti-war general is of a more recent vintage. Jeffrey St. Clair and Alexander Cockburn give us a pre-9/11 perspective on him in Gen. Wesley Clark Fights On and On, CounterPunch, 12 Nov 1999:
At the beginning of the Kosovo conflict, CounterPunch delved into the military career of General Wesley Clark and discovered that his meteoric rise through the ranks derived from the successful manipulation of appearances: faking the results of combat exercises, greasing to superiors and other practices common to the general officer corps.
In their further discussion of him, phrases like "gross distortion of the truth" and "sleight of hand" are employed enough to let us know that these authors didn't see him as a man that should be taken at his word.

We also know he had a history of bragging about his inside knowledge. On 11 September 2001, Clark, spoke as if he saw this coming, he told CNN:
Retired Gen. Wesley Clark, former supreme NATO commander, said the aircraft appeared to hit the southwestern side, or the Army side of the building, the area responsible for planning and logistics. "We've known for some time that some group has been planning this," he said, adding that "obviously, we didn't do enough" to prepare for such an attack.
After General Wesley Clark was "forced into retirement," he reinvented himself as the anti-war general and the liberal peace candidate, but his bombing campaign in the Kosovo War is said to have been brutal, Human Rights Watch put the number of civilians killed at between 488 and 627. It was also poorly executed, as in when he accidentally bombed the Chinese embassy. The CounterPunch authors continued:
Despite such embarrassments, Clark can take heart from the fact that his influence on warfare already transcends the Balkans. Since Operation Allied Force laid waste to the Serbian civilian infrastructure, the targeting of such infrastructure has become routine and acceptable. The Israelis, who have for years shown relative care in avoiding the Lebanese infrastructure in their raids, were quick to change tactics, citing the Balkan operation as a legitimizing precedent. More recently the gangsters in the Kremlin have used the same justification for their terror-bombing of Chechnya.
But they wrote that in 1999, so we are obliged to add the attacks on civilian infrastructure that characterized the US Wars in Afghanistan and Iraq, as well as Qaddafi's war against Libya, Saudi Arabia's war against Yemen, and especially the current war in Syria to that list of modern diseases for which Wesley Clark's War was Patient Zero.

I deeply regret having to write any of this. It seems so ridiculous that so many should claim these very questionable comments from a war criminal with a history of fraud and deception, explain anything about our modern world.

Syria is the Paris Commune of the 21st Century!

Click here for a list of my other blogs on Syria