Creating a better world through words and images

Artwork/Political Cartoons
Artwork/Political Cartoons
Artwork/Political Cartoons
Artwork/Political Cartoons

From the excellent CounterPunch article by Rob Urie:

“Two years plus of taunting Donald Trump from the right has left the left holding the baggy for untethering his steely anti-interventionist resolve from the hitchin’ post. And while it’s proper to question the metallurgical integrity of said resolve, he did ask questions in his run for President that landed like an oriole’s chide at Spring’s late arrival apropos the American military’s history of cluster-fuckery.”

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It’s a sad state of affairs when only one presidential candidate in 2016 acknowledged the existence of Washington’s second “Mujaheddin” army (created after the disastrous 2003 invasion of Iraq for the purpose of regime-change operations guided by the U.S.) — and it was Donald F’g Trump!

But after President Obama needlessly rescued Bush/Cheney’s radical agenda in his first term, the neocons reunited with their first love, the Democratic Party, which they have since overtaken — save for a few members of “The Squad.”

And that is why the liberal class is so lost and disoriented, right now: they’re “resisting” Donald Trump by championing the warmongering agenda of modern Nazis. While the mainstream-left slept, the worst war criminals under Bush/Cheney were rehabilitated and raised to new levels of power by President Obama. Torture, rendition, indefinite detention, mass-surveillance, domestic propaganda, and due process-free assassinations were all normalized, as was the Global (permanent) War of Terror.

The uniforms have changed, but the neocons — associated with the GOP during the Bush years — emerged from the Obama era more powerful than ever, and more closely affiliated with Democrats than Republicans. (They had, after all, had their way with Obama almost as much as Bush, instigating wars in Libya, Ukraine, and Syria; erecting siege-like sanctions regimes against Venezuela and Iran, paving the way for future confrontations; unleashing genocide in Yemen, putting millions of innocents at risk; birthing RussiaGate, inviting global war…)

Today, with the duopoly’s backing, the neocons still seek total control over Donald Trump, with varying degrees of success. But Trump, like President Obama, is not fully on board with the neocon agenda (distinguishing both presidents from Sec. Clinton and most of today’s Russia-gating “liberals”).

Ironic as it may be, Donald Trump — like Obama before him — is feebly, sporadically resisting the fascist elements who’ve largely run the U.S. since 1963, following their murder of President Kennedy.

Imagine if the “left” in 2017 had rallied around Trump’s few liberal and statesmanlike impulses — while fighting his regressive domestic policies and court appointments, tooth and nail — instead of lining up behind the modern equivalent of Nazis and pushing for WWIII over a bunch of inflated, generally risible claims (comporting themselves just like a reactionary, partisan mob of conservatives).

Donald Trump wouldn’t be poised for reelection today. And John Bolton wouldn’t be anywhere near the White House.

Talk about lost opportunities!

ARE WE SUPPOSED TO THINK THAT BILLIONAIRES ARE STUPID?

Listen to Niko House and tell me, honestly, whether you think he’s full of crap or Sen. Warren is… The answer is not hard to reach.

When neoliberal and neoconservative billionaires fund Hillary Clinton and Elizabeth Warren (to the tune of millions) — but not Bernie Sanders or Tulsi Gabbard (ever) — are we supposed to think that’s an accident?

Are we supposed to think that these privatization/war-obsessed oligarchs are morons? Incapable of recognizing the politicians who will do their bidding?

Sen. Elizabeth “Cherokee” Warren (who tells Palestinians and Native Americans alike to f’ off) is nothing more than Hillary 2.0 — a neoliberal politician funded by billionaires and oligarchs, and totally willing to lie about it. But she’s “progressive,” says the center-right! (Same as they said about far-right Hillary Clinton in 2016, despite all the evidence that Sec. Clinton spent her career in the neocon vanguard and was the candidate of Wall Street and the .01% in 2016, running well to the right of Donald Trump!)

Sen. Elizabeth Warren — who I’ll grant is not the worst of the worst — is about as “progressive” as Barack Obama, the president who normalized torture, assassination, full-society surveillance, journalist-persecution, and the permanent War on Terror.

Even her election, defeating Donald Trump (highly unlikely), would prove a defeat for the left, in the long run.

She’s willing to take PAC money and is funded by the same neo-fascists who backed Sec. Clinton. Because she has never fought for the left, the bourgeois simply love her, and the establishment trusts her implicitly. The genocidal neocons know that they have a champion in Elizabeth Warren.

(All the best reasons we should fear this serially dishonest agent of the far-right.)

Now on display at the Sun Gallery in Hayward...

Statement of the Artist: James O’Donnell III

If one has spent decades obsessively following politics, economic trends, cultural shifts, and global war, as this artist has, one ends up witnessing an infinite galaxy of plundering Orwellian swine murderously choking The Green, Gaea, Liberty, the Future, the Life, out of our planet… gobbling up the biosphere.

In painting this piece — mindful of James Cone’s The Cross and the Lynching Tree, Michelle Alexander’s The New Jim Crow, James Baldwin’s writing/activism, David Talbot’s The Devil’s Chessboard, and Ta-Nehisi Coates’ acclaimed essays — it occurred to me that if we were honest about our country’s historical and spiritual essence, we wouldn’t have a Lincoln Memorial in Washington, DC, but a Ku Klux Klan Memorial, acknowledging our nation’s white-supremacist, Christian Dominionist heritage and dark soul. (In this painting, that “KKK Memorial” is depicted sunk to the bottom of the ocean, decaying, as befits such a monument.)

This painting bears witness to what its author has painstakingly observed over decades: that the absence of progressive/liberal institutions in a period marked by rising oligarchy and inequality — under a brutal, corporatist establishment (serially racist, endlessly warmongering, bankster-abetting, and democracy-subverting) — has contributed mightily to the rise of modern FASCISM.

The moral and intellectual collapse of the institutional left hasn’t merely given us the Bush/Cheney regime, Donald Trump, Theresa May (U.K.), the Le Pens (France), Netanyahu (Israel), Modi (India), bin Salman (Saudi Arabia), Bolsonaro (Brazil), El-Sisi (Egypt), Macron (France), et al. — and brought us to the precipice of World War III on a barrage of neo-McCarthyite hysteria — the dismal duopoly has also given us melting glaciers, acidifying oceans, Colony Collapse Disorder, and CO2 levels that no credible scientist considers sustainable. It has ushered in Earth’s Sixth Mass-Extinction event, putting millions of species at risk.

It’s likely that the despotic, frack-happy duopoly has given our civilization and world a terminal prognosis, with little chance of survival for any of us in the long run, let alone the millions of people currently in our empire’s crosshairs (Russians, Koreans, Syrians, Venezuelans, Iranians, Yemenis, Somalis, etc.).

These “PIGS” — today’s fascists — are DEVOURING OUR WORLD.

(A child could see it. Millennials, who are not children, see it clearly: Ecology 101 is for the woke.)

Last chance to save the planet, people. No more dawdling. Our final exam is today.

“Hope and Change” redux (fool me twice, shame on me)…

Forget her recent policy flip-flops marked by a fair amount of backtracking and waffling on key proposals (including Medicare-for-All), here is a fundamental truth about Sen. Elizabeth Warren’s education stance: the Massachusetts senator has long stood with Betsy DeVos, Arne Duncan, and the school privatization crowd. Specifically, Warren has long supported a universal school voucher system and other ways of draining funds out of the public education system — giving public monies to private interests (a policy priority she makes clear in her 2003 book, The Two-Income Trap).

Despite being able to decline to enroll special-needs students — to select their student body from the higher-performing ranks — charter schools generally perform the same or worse than public schools. Meanwhile, the privatization agenda is already turning the public school system into a warehouse for discipline cases, English language learners, and the disabled — all while being held to testing regimes and other metrics designed to break teachers’ unions and close down schools, especially in communities of color.

But that stench of failure doesn’t faze the white-privilege reeking, corporate neoliberal class (nearly all Republicans before the Third Way Democrats took over the party and wiped out traditional liberalism in favor of… whatever the Koch brothers wanted).

For decades, Elizabeth Warren has stood with the oligarchs who are waging an all-out assault on the public arena — the neoliberal cabal that wants to deregulate and privatize virtually every American institution, from the United States Postal Service to FAA inspections to Social Security (which President Bill Clinton and his Republican partner, Newt Gingrich, were keen to privatize).

Nonetheless, her frighteningly slick campaign has become quite adept at offering the right platitudes while cleverly hiding Warren’s true policy preferences, which include: school privatization; greenwashing (rather than ending) the neocons’ genocidal wars in the Middle East; shielding PhRMA and the health insurance industry from the threat of single-payer healthcare; persecuting journalistic “bad actors” and whistleblowers; passing record-setting Pentagon budgets (voting to give Donald Trump more Pentagon funds than he requested); supporting official propaganda and coup attempts against democratic regimes; and promoting RussiaGate and the new McCarthyism.

All of which makes it clear that, despite her new progressive image, she hasn’t changed much from the Republican she was for a quarter of a century. She’s had no problem voting for extreme right-wingers, Ronald Reagan, George H.W. Bush, in the 1980’s and 1990’s — and Nixon and Ford, before them. And she only moved to the Democratic Party after its leadership had been taken over by the Koch brothers (with Bill Clinton passing everything the far-right ever wanted, in the name of “centrism”).

But Diane Ravitch — an education policy expert in the vanguard of protecting the public school system from the disastrous neoliberal assault — has questioned Sen. Warren’s sincerity on this issue. Ms. Ravitch, a true hero of educators for many years, continues to use her platform to give voice to lifelong public educators, as follows.

From Ms. Ravitch’s site:

“Carol Burris, executive director of the Network for Public Education and a lifelong educator, has a message for Senator Elizabeth Warren:”

(Ms. Burris’s message, in its entirety)

There has been much discussion on this blog and elsewhere regarding Elizabeth Warren’s campaign’s choice of a former charter school teacher to introduce Ms. Warren in Oakland. She was a fellow at GO Oakland, an organization funded by billionaires such as the Walton Family, Arthur Rock and Michael Bloomberg––billionaires who are bound and determined to charterize American public schools. After leaving as a fellow, she continued her relationship by blogging for the organization in 2018, including in her blog links to get readers to sign up for GO emails.

Why does any of this matter?

It matters because when a presidential campaign asks someone to introduce their candidate. It is a carefully vetted and deliberate choice. It is naive to think the introducer is picked from the air in any competent campaign, and the Warren campaign is highly competent.

When Bernie Sanders issued his bold platform calling for a charter moratorium, Elizabeth Warren responded by saying that she too was against for-profit charter schools with no response on Sanders’ call for a moratorium.

Warren said she does not want to fund for-profits. Well, the only funding program she could influence as president, the Charter Schools Program, already does not.

No bold, progressive stand there.

What progressives need to hear from Elizabeth Warren is the answer to these two simple questions.

1. Do you support the NAACP’s charter moratorium?

2. Do you support funding the federal Charter Schools Program–which funds the expansion of non-profit charter schools?

Sanders has made his position clear. When we hear from Warren, it will no longer matter who introduces her…

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While it’s good to have an open mind and give people the benefit of the doubt, I feel that progressives already have all the information we need about the lifetime cultural appropriator and longtime conservative, Ms. Warren.

POLITICAL COWARDICE

Unlike Rep. Tulsi Gabbard, who resigned from her Vice-Chair of the DNC position to support Bernie Sanders in 2016, Elizabeth Warren has demonstrated zero political courage and has consistently refused to fight for the left.

On November 2, 2017, this allegedly bold leader admitted (first to CNN’s Jake Tapper and then to PBS’s Judy Woodruff) that the 2016 Democratic Primary “process was rigged.”

Then she folded, chastened by the corrupt political establishment she dutifully serves. On November 10th, Warren asserted that the 2016 primary “process was fair.”

And she has never raised the subject again (way to fight for honest primaries and “democracy,” Senator!).

KID GLOVES FOR WALL STREET

Outside of a history of grandstanding and wagging her finger at the banks, Elizabeth Warren has done astonishingly little to champion the 99%. Watching her scold Wall Street executives may be cathartic for some partisans, but it doesn’t amount to much when the Senator proceeds to endorse one of Wall Street’s all-time favorite politicians, Hillary Clinton.

And she endorsed Sec. Clinton after a year of snubbing her natural ally — the only FDR-style candidate in the race, Bernie Sanders — who was filling huge stadiums, bringing millions of new voters into the party, and promising to beat Donald Trump by 9-15%, on average. In 2016, Sen. Sanders was positioned to utterly trounce two of the right’s most loathed figures, Hillary Clinton and her family chum, Donald Trump. Yet Elizabeth Warren spent the entire season on the sidelines, until the most conservative Democrats needed her, at which point, she finally stood up… for the historically racist candidate running to Trump’s RIGHT!!!

Warren’s bloviating at Wall Street execs means even less when one considers that she has never pushed to prosecute in a court of law (like she wants to do with Trump) the criminals whose fraud brought the Western banking system to its knees in 2008. She merely grandstands and scolds bankers for the cameras.

Even more devastating to her “anti-Wall Street” image is the fact that Warren lent her name to the merest fig-leaf “reform” of banking practices (the much vaunted, yet toothless CFPB) — while the leader of her party was bailing out Wall Street on Main Street’s back to the tune of $16 trillion and wiping out the post-Civil Rights Era gains of African-American households, per the Pew Research Center.

While I applaud the Senator’s call for a reinstatement of Glass-Steagall (which would separate commercial banking from investment banking), why hasn’t Warren proposed legislation to repeal the Commodity Futures Modernization Act — a law that legally prohibits the regulation of derivatives (aptly dubbed “financial WMDs” by Warren Buffett)?

As long as the CFMA stands, another crash, far more devastating to our economy, is inevitable.

Yet Elizabeth Warren, bane of the bankers, is silent.

DEPLORABLE FOREIGN POLICY/COMMITMENT TO HUMAN RIGHTS AND DEMOCRACY

Sen. Warren has always stood with the oligarchs, at home and abroad, the corporatocracy, and the Military Industrial Complex: on matters of war, the surveillance/police state (she praised Obama’s revised NSA-spying program), and with regard to persecuting independent journalists and whistleblowers (whom she condemns as “bad actors” whose revelations damage national security: the classic right-wing, neo-fascist line, regarding such heroes).

She has voiced support for the continuation of U.S. sanctions on Venezuela — sanctions that the United Nations Special Rapporteur for Human Rights likened to a “medieval siege,” calling Washington’s policy a “crime against humanity.”

And like the rest of the neocons in our pernicious duopoly, Sen. Warren demands new elections for Venezuela.

(Why? So the violent faction run out of Washington can bomb more pro-government voting precincts and government buildings? Burn more POC alive? Hang more barbed wire across busy thoroughfares? Firebomb more aid trucks? The U.S. empire has been seeking to nullify the majority of Venezuelans’ votes — by coup or by crook — for decades. And yet, Warren sees Maduro as the problem.)

SO WHAT GOOD IS SHE? HONESTLY?

And recently, she’s backtracked on student loan forgiveness and M4A (Medicare for All). And she’s working overtime to divide the progressive vote for Sanders, paving the way for Joe Biden’s campaign and the DNC to rig 2020 for another sure loser, giving Trump another four years in office.

So, what good is she? Honestly?

Returning to Warren’s history of supporting school privatization…

While some establishmentarians (who LOVE Warren) have tried to muddy the issue, the truth is quite simple: In Oakland, CA, Sen. Warren and her campaign chose to elevate an individual who has long worked to promote charter schools, the think-tank policy fellow, Sonya Mehta. In doing so, Warren was signaling to The Walton Family, Mr. Bloomberg, and the rest of the billionaire-privateer class that she’s still on their side, not the public’s, when it comes to education matters.

Even if she were capable of defeating Donald Trump in 2020 (a dubious prospect, at best), “President” Warren won’t just continue the neocon wars and the neoliberal looting of our society, she will continue the Clinton-Bush-Obama-Trump assault on the public education system. She will continue shoving our children into an unregulated private school system that doesn’t require its teachers to have credentials — and is broadly failing — consistently outperformed by a public education system that is weathering a full-scale assault from the corporate class and morally bankrupt politicians like Elizabeth “Cherokee” Warren.

The “Native American” who refused to stand with the Standing Rock Sioux even when they were being brutalized by police, under President Obama, for trying to defend the Ogallala Aquifer from the fossil fuel industry… not Warren’s fight (she’s got bigger fish to fry, aspiring to help “Cuppa” Joe court those moderate Republican votes in 2020).

Select one:

A) I like Joe Biden and think he is our strongest candidate if we want to defeat Trump in 2020!

B) I’m not crazy about Biden, but I’d sure as heck vote for him over Trump!

C) I like Buttigieg/Harris/Beto/Gillibrand/Booker/Klobuchar/Hickenlooper/DINO #9-21 the most!

D) I think Sen. Elizabeth Warren is a strong liberal candidate and our best hope for defeating Trump!

E) I like Sen. Warren a lot, but I think Bernie Sanders is our best hope for defeating Trump!

F) Nearly all of the contenders are just as horrifying as Donald Trump — and Elizabeth Warren is an obvious fraud and warmonger — so I’m enthusiastically backing Bernie/Tulsi!

G) Rep. Tulsi Gabbard is the strongest candidate with the best platform, by far, but I would accept her as Bernie’s running mate, if I had to… and Sen. Warren as Secretary of the Treasury or head of the SEC.

Answer key: If you selected (A) or (B) your lobotomy scar has reopened because you won’t stop picking at it with your “Blue No Matter Who” DNC-membership card; if you selected (C) you are a low-grade moron and probably can’t spell Identity Politics, even though you’re extremely susceptible to it; if you selected (D) you’re not a total moron, but an extraordinarily gullible/naive person, with no apparent concern about the anti-Muslim/Arab holocaust that “President” Warren would clearly escalate; if you selected (E) you have precisely half a brain, making you considerably more intelligent than the average American voter (congratulations!); if you selected (F) you’re actually a pretty bright cookie and deserving of several gold stars; and finally, if you selected (G) for Gabbard, you might not be a Genius, technically, but you clearly have an exceptionally high PIQ and a pragmatic mindset, to boot — and you know the surest way to unseat Donald Trump in 2020 (Gabbard/Sanders or Sanders/Gabbard) and pull the U.S. back from the neo-fascism cemented by Bush-Obama… Well done!

Unsurprisingly, Donald Trump has continued where President Barack Obama and Sec. Hillary Clinton left off, pushing natural gas at home and abroad, ultimately dooming the biosphere… only Trump calls it “freedom gas,” because that’s what his political brand demands.

(Obama called it a “bridge fuel” essential to leaving dirty coal behind… a bogus industry talking point, but the mainstream bought it!)

From the Common Dreams article, “Gas Is a Loser, and It’s Time to Move On — Report Debunks Myth that Gas Can Help Fight Climate Crisis”:

“While acknowledging that methane leakage from natural gas infrastructure is a serious problem, OCI argues that merely reducing methane emissions—a solution pushed by the Obama administration—would not make natural gas a climate-friendly energy source.

“OCI’s report—titled ‘Burning the ‘Gas Bridge’ Myth: Why Gas is Not Clean, Cheap, or Necessary’ (pdf)—details five reasons why natural gas cannot be part of any solution that aims to confront the climate crisis with the ambition that the latest science says is necessary to avert catastrophic warming:

“1. Gas Breaks the Carbon Budget: The economically recoverable oil, gas, and coal in the world’s currently producing and under-construction extraction projects would take the world far beyond safe climate limits. Further development of untapped gas reserves, including new shale wells, is inconsistent with the climate goals in the Paris Agreement. Even if global coal use were phased out overnight, already-developed reserves of oil and gas would push the world above 1.5°C of warming. There’s simply no room for more gas.

“2. Coal-to-Gas Switching Doesn’t Cut It: Climate goals require the energy sector to be decarbonized by mid-century. This means that both coal and gas must be phased out. Replacing coal plants with new gas plants will not cut emissions by nearly enough, even if methane leakage is kept to a minimum. Current plans for gas production growth drastically overshoot climate safe models and are a bridge to climate disaster.

“3. Low-Cost Renewables Can Displace Coal and Gas: The dramatic and ongoing cost declines for wind and solar disrupt the business model for gas in the power sector. Wind and solar are already cheaper to build and operate than coal and gas in most markets. Cost is clearly not a prohibitive factor to adding renewable generation capacity, whether to replace fossil fuel capacity or to meet rising demand.

“4. Gas Is Not Essential for Grid Reliability: Wind and solar require balancing, but gas is not the only, nor the best, resource available for doing so. Battery storage is fast becoming competitive with gas plants designed for this purpose (known as ‘peakers’). Wind and solar plants that are coupled with battery storage are also becoming a competitive ‘dispatchable’ source of energy. Managing high levels of wind and solar on the grid requires optimizing a wide range of technologies and solutions, including battery storage, demand response, and transmission. There is no reason to favor gas as the primary solution.

“5. New Gas Infrastructure Locks In Emissions: Multibillion-dollar gas infrastructure built today is designed to operate for decades to come. Given the barriers to closing down infrastructure ahead of its expected economic lifespan, it is critical to stop building new infrastructure, the full lifetime emissions of which will not fit within Paris-aligned carbon budgets.

“‘Despite desperate attempts by the oil and gas industry to persuade policymakers that their products have a future in a climate-safe world, a rational look at the data clearly shows otherwise,’ Lorne Stockman, report author and senior research analyst for Oil Change International, said in a statement. ‘Any way you slice it—be it cost, reliability, or climate—gas is a loser and it’s time to move on.’

“OCI’s report comes as natural gas production and exports are reaching new heights under the Trump administration’s polluter-friendly agenda.

“In a press release on Tuesday, U.S. Under Secretary of Energy Mark Menezes touted the White House’s efforts to spread ‘freedom gas throughout the world by giving America’s allies a diverse and affordable source of clean energy.’

“According to OCI, such efforts are a ‘recipe for climate breakdown.’

“With the Trump administration aggressively pushing natural gas at home and abroad…”

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With the Trump administration aggressively pushing fossil fuels at home and abroad… we’ve seen virtually no change from one administration to the next. Sec. Clinton’s State Department was notorious for pushing other nations to adopt fracking. Trump is merely following suit, doing precisely as his old chum, Hillary, did.

And President Obama became the #1 president in U.S. history for domestic oil production, which he increased 88%, per Forbes Magazine. Number One, even as the climate catastrophe was exploding — whereas Texas oilman, George W. Bush, ironically, presided over annual declines of U.S. oil production.

And when Obama became the first U.S. president to open up the Arctic for oil drilling, climate experts, including Bill McKibben, responded unequivocally, saying that such a move “absolutely had to be off limits if we are to have any hope” — that opening up the Arctic for Shell and friends “fatally undermined” Obama’s environmentalist rhetoric and record.

Typical Obama: extinguishing hope and undermining his eloquence with policies worthy of Donald Trump. Policies nearly identical to Trump’s, in fact… buried under artful words and considerable personal grace and dignity.

But what more could we expect from the president who fought to make the Paris Climate Accords a toothless placebo, while millions of American “liberals” cheered? Obama destroyed the international consensus that had formed behind legally enforceable carbon emissions limits and legal liability for polluters. And yet the faux-left pretended he’d accomplished something major for the environment! (Making politicians like Obama more dangerous, ironically, than a scumbag like Donald Trump! At least people notice when Trump tries to surrender the biosphere and future habitability of the planet to industry marauders. Whereas under smooth-talking Democrats, the center-left nods approvingly and goes to sleep while the planet burns.)