Sunday, November 20, 2016, Issue #233
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1. From the Editor re Trump
2. Photo of the Month
3. What Hath Trump Wrought?
3A Inauguration Protest Jan. 20
3B Washington Women's March Jan. 21
4. Queen Offers to Restore British Rule over U.S.
5. Trump, Standing Rock, And The Environment
6. Where The Democrats Go From Here
7. Trump's Election: The End Of Liberal Capitalism?
8. The Fight Back Begins!
9. Clearing Out the Political Establishment
10. UN Paris Climate Agreement Takes Effect
11. Student Protest in New Paltz
12. The Largest Oil Deposit Ever Found U.S.
1. FROM THE EDITOR:
How are you holding up? It's still sinking in and seems to get godawful worse every day, doesn't it? We should all feel grateful that the fightback began within hours of Trump's transformation from vulgar, know-nothing loud mouth to the position of the most powerful individual in the entire world with a finger on the nuclear trigger.
We are extremely proud of all the people in the millions who are making their disapproval known. We must keep this up at long as it takes. As we note in the article below, fightback coalitions will form in time and continue the struggle throughout Trump's reign. It was great to see all the young people — high school, college and working youth of all colors, creeds, and points of view on the march throughout the country; and all the other age groups including the veterans of the Sixties and earlier who will continue to fight until they drop.
But we can't just go back to the way things were with the U.S. political structure that created this wretched situation. It's time to expand and move our part of this structure to the left. This is the only thing that can defeat the right/far right's total control of the federal government, most state governments, the Supreme Court and increasingly the lower federal and state courts as well.
We can win this struggle!
2. PHOTO OF THE MONTH
Demonstrators at Rutgers University protest the immigration policies of Republican president-elect Donald Trump, New Brunswick, New Jersey, Nov. 16, 2016. (AP Photo / Mel Evans)
3. WHAT HATH TRUMP WROUGHT?
By Jack A. Smith, editor
Double, double toil and trouble;
Fire burn and caldron bubble.
Mass protest demonstrations have been taking place across the United States after dangerous right wing billionaire Donald J. Trump unexpectedly defeated Hillary R. Clinton in the U.S. election Nov. 8. She was the first woman candidate of a major party to run for the presidency in the 227 years since American elections have been held.
The protests will continue indefinitely in one form or another and movements will develop over the next four years in strong opposition to the far right wing takeover of the White House, Congress and soon the Supreme Court. Both left and right will grow.
Many existing social programs that serve the interests of the people will be overturned. The police state will be strengthened. Racial minorities are justly worried about their safety and rights under a Trump regime. The rich, as usual, will get richer as the needs of the poor will be further neglected. The working class as a whole will be further set back, despite the illusions of the white sector of that class who mistook Trump for a savior who would extricate them from decades of neglect, low wages and an increasingly stagnant way of life.
All this is a difference in degree, not kind, within the existing neocapitalist system. The right wing Republican party was horrendous well before this election. The far right takeover by Trump and his minions is not fascism. But it contains elements of proto-fascism. That is, it harbors fascist leanings in its ideology that in time could meld into the basis for full fascism under different circumstances. It must be fought with this in mind.
The reactionary Christian radical religious right wing strongly backed Trump and is represented in the new government by Vice President-elect Mike Pence, who will oversee all policies and programs.
The reactionary Christian radical religious right wing strongly backed Trump and is represented in the new government by Vice President-elect Mike Pence, who will oversee all policies and programs.
The Democratic party is just beginning the process of reinventing itself after a humiliating defeat that basically repudiated the way it has governed from the center-right for decades — financed by and principally serving the interests of Wall Street, the big banks and the 1%. The Economist magazine, a strong backer of Clinton during the campaign, noted with British pride that she was politically like a member of their Conservative party. At the same time of course the Democrats constitute the lesser evil to the far right in our restrictive two-party system.
At issue is the degree of change that is coming from the left. It may amount to quite little if the Democratic party establishment remains in control of the politics. The designation of New York Sen. Chuck Schumer to be the Senate Minority Leader is an unfavorable sign. The website Wall Street on Parade reported Nov. 17: "Schumer is considered the poster boy for Wall Street — as their mouthpiece for lax regulation and a reliable Senate confirmation vote for Wall Street cronies to lead regulatory agencies...."
hold signs during action against Trump'selection |
in downtown Seattle on Nov. 9. (AP)
Fight The Right
Why shouldn't the Democrats fight the far right from at least the center-left and do something for the masses for a change? The forces around social democratic Sen. Bernie Sanders want this to happen. The Democrats were center-left for part of the 1930s and the 1960s under reformist Presidents Franklin D. Roosevelt and Lynden B. Johnson. These were periods of exceptional social reform. Some of these reforms and the impetus behind them — a basic sense of caring about the people — were explicitly repudiated during the eight Bill Clinton years in the 1990s."
Very little has been accomplished in the last eight years under Democrat Obama. Republican obstructionism was a factor but his center-right politics, pronounced anti-liberal bias and willingness to bend the knee to Republicans was another reason. Remember, he even offered to cut Social Security. As the Washington Post reported July 6, 2011: "Obama is pressing congressional leaders to consider a far-reaching debt-reduction plan that would force Democrats to accept major changes to Social Security and Medicare in exchange for Republican support for fresh tax revenue."
Obviously, a new and fairly large left wing third party would shake things up, but it will take considerable left unity to do so, and that's a rare happenstance. The last time a truly left Progressive party participated in a national presidential election was in 1948 when it gained 2.4% of the of the popular vote despite intense red-baiting. The party opposed the nascent Cold War with Russia, called for an end to Jim Crow segregation and sought equality for women.
While we have criticized Hillary Clinton politically — particularly for supporting U.S. global hegemony, regime change and war — we respected the importance of her intention to become America's first woman president. It is certainly well past time. Misogynist Trump treated the first woman candidate for this office like trash. "Lying Hillary. Lock her up. Nasty woman." His abuse of Clinton, backed by many of his benighted supporters, was shocking and unacceptable. And just because more women voted against her than for her doesn't mean there's no enormous constituency and an absolute need for a woman to seek and gain the highest office as soon as possible, either as a Democrat or third party candidate.
Clinton was not the only woman seeking the presidency. Of the others I'll mention two. The Green party's Jill Stein ran throughout the country and garnered 1% of the national tally with 1,310,929 votes. This is more than double her vote in 2012. Gloria LaRiva, the left socialist candidate of the Party for Socialism and Liberation (for whom I would have voted were she on the New York ballot) ran in California and seven other states. Votes are still being counted in California but her total so far is 64,918.
Historically, the Republican leadership was worse than the Democrats, managing to be overtly anti-working class without interruption for more than 100 years. They were as surprised as the Democrats when Trump, a former Democratic himself, entered that party's primary and crushed at least 15 viable ultra-conservative opponents in a series of debates, including supposed front runner Jeb Bush. Trump had not thought he would win when vanity impelled him to enter the race but it quickly became apparent that a large white working class and white middle class GOP constituency was strongly behind him.
of anti-Trump protesters shut down 5th Avenue Nov. 9 in front of Trump |
Tower in Manhattan as New Yorkers react to the election.
Left And Right Populism
Indeed, the two ruling class-approved parties were the subjects of two populist uprisings, one from the left, the other from the right. Populism arises in distressed societies where there is considerable discontent and opposition to the national leadership and its economic and political programs. In this case neither party had any intention of improving the appalling plight afflicting over half the population.
Left wing populism, such as the liberal uprising in the Democratic party led by Sanders, generally seeks to improve the lot of all the people in multinational America with concrete social and economic programs financed in part by taxing the excess wealth of the ultra-rich. It is not an anti-capitalist movement but it contains elements of democratic socialism, that could in time expand. After Bernie was defeated in the primary, Clinton proceeded to wage a conventional Democratic campaign with big money, big talk and big names but which hardly addressed the problems afflicting working people.
Right wing populism, such as the anti-liberal uprising for social change in the Republican Party, seeks to improve the lot of white American workers, who indeed have been exploited and pushed around for decades. This movement, however, shows no concern for the many millions of non-white workers experiencing even worse conditions. It is heavily imbued with racism against blacks and Latinos, with colossal misogyny, contempt toward immigrants and refugees of color, abhorrence toward the LGBTQ community, and with Christian prejudice against Muslims and a touch of anti-Semitism, among other deficits. The KKK and most extremist hate groups support and are part of this coalition directly or indirectly.
I am sure there are voters for Donald Trump who do not share any or many of these negative aspects but who believe he will at least take some action to alleviate the problems confronting workers.
This article will cover most of the details of Trump's calamitous victory, including the fact that while at least 90% of his program is a racist, sexist, anti-gay assault on working people in the U.S., about 10% seems to contain positive aspects. This is because he rebelled against the Republican leadership and disregarded some of its favorite programs, such as the Trans-Pacific Partnership.
Also in this category is Trump's expressed willingness to make peace with Russia, his critique of NATO, and inclination to end Washington's support for regime change in Syria. Anti-imperialists support this aspect of Trump's program as has this writer beginning years before Trump made his views known. I have deplored the bipartisan hatred of Russia and President Vladimir Putin a number of times in recent months out of a concern for the possibility of blundering into a war. For readers who have an interest in U.S.-Russian relations see the article in the September 26 Activist Newsletter titled "Must They Be Enemies? Russia, Putin And The United States." The article notes that both governments have shortcomings but that "There should be a closer relationship and far more cooperation between Washington and Moscow instead of ever greater hostilities that could eventually lead to a most regrettable conclusion." (http://activistnewsletter.blogspot.com/2016/09/09-25-16-newsletter-russia.html)
The Telegraph (UK) reported Nov. 14: "Putin and Trump spoke for the first time today and vowed to establish a new relationship between the U.S. and Russia based on 'mutual respect,' the Kremlin has announced. The Russian president and U.S. president-elect agreed to 'assess the current unsatisfactory state of bilateral relations,' develop trade and economic ties and establish joint efforts to fight international terrorism." Warhawk Sen. John McCain, chairman of the Senate Armed Services Committee, said Nov. 15 that any attempt to "reset" relations with Russia is unacceptable.
Trump is alleged to have supported a working class uprising for better pay and jobs, but this is nonsense. He is a lifelong enemy of the working class. Trump exploited a spontaneous uprising of disgruntled white workers to attain power for himself. In the process he appealed to every vulgar instinct possible to convey the impression that their main problem derived principally from a decline in "white power" (during eight years of a black president), from workers of color, from Latino immigrants, from Muslims, from Syrian and other refugees, and from the rights of women, including the right to become president.
He also blamed the banks and Wall Street with about the same degree of sincerity required for him to declare, “This was locker-room banter," instead of the braggadocio of a male supremacist serial molester.
Sen. Bernie Sanders likewise rebelled against the Democratic leadership, but with concrete liberal program including several social democratic elements, but lost the primary — and now he is back in a stronger position, not least because the party establishment has been weakened by the defeat of Hillary Clinton. In hindsight there is speculation that Sanders — who was passionately devoted to positive social change for the masses and had a program to prove it — may have defeated Trump's far right Republicans. He probably would have received many votes that ended up in Trump's camp. Bernie would have been red-baited and the target of anti-Semites, but this isn't 1950s America when such prejudices could destroy a candidate.
The grave of women's suffrage leader Susan B. Anthony
is pictured covered with "I Voted" stickers from the U.S.
presidential election at Mount Hope Cemetery in
Rochester, New York, on November 8, 2016.
Photo: Adam Fenster / Reuters
The Main Reason This Happened
There are many reasons why Trump won the U.S. election and we will discuss them all. But the main reason is that various Democratic and Republican parties have systematically ignored for 40 years the mounting needs of an increasingly desperate working class, lower middle class, sections of the middle itself, and of course the millions of people who now are low income or poor.
Keeping in mind that one-tenth of the top one percent of American families possess almost the same household wealth as the bottom 90%, read these figures:
In 2014 — and the statistics are about the same or worse this year — 38% percent of all American workers made less than $20,000 a year; 51% of all earned less than $30,000; 62% received less than $40,000; 71% of all earned less than $50,000.
Referring to the 51% majority of Americans who occupy the lowest two categories, Oxfam America puts it this way:
"Today, millions of Americans do arduous work in jobs that pay too little and offer too few benefits. They serve food, clean offices, care for the young and elderly, stock shelves, and deliver pizza. They work these jobs year after year, while caring for their children and parents, trying to save for college, and paying their bills. And yet despite their best efforts, these low-wage workers fall further and further behind.
"In the past 35 years, the very rich have seen an astronomical increase in income, while the middle class and low-wage workers have seen their wages stagnate or even decline. As this divide has grown, the wealthiest people and companies have gained disproportionate power in our economy and our government; low-wage workers have seen their access to power and their ability to influence dwindle."
The Democratic party remained functionally indifferent to this growing reality for four decades until last year when independent Sanders became one of six Democratic candidates seeking the nomination. He soon began amassing millions of primary votes from liberals long suppressed by a party establishment determined to nominate Hillary R. Clinton, of whom President Obama insisted at the Democratic convention that there was "nobody more qualified than Hillary Clinton to serve as president of the United States of America."
Clinton swiftly and opportunistically adopted a number of Bernie's programs even though she opposed them until that moment and in my opinion had no intention to seriously fight for them when elected. Party leaders sought to undermine Sanders' campaign, as the Wikileaks documents showed. They had no desire to oppose Wall Street and the big corporations that were going to heavily bankroll her primary and election campaigns, as they did the two terms of her predecessor, Obama.
In the end voters didn't believe the widely distrusted and strongly disliked center-right Clinton would change the intolerable status quo.
There is a long history behind these current developments. Between the end of World War II in 1945 to about the mid-70s there were sufficient jobs, unions were relatively strong and pay and benefits were basically acceptable for most workers. Then began the reversal — by design. Big capitalist corporations decided the unions were too strong and workers were taking home too much pay. They then separated pay raises from increases in productivity, which had been more or less keeping pace for 30 years, and cut back on new benefits. The White House and Congress contributed with an unwillingness to create important new social service programs that benefit working people.
By the time the Great Recession started in late 2008 scores of millions of Americans were experiencing depressed economic straits. Over 4 million families then lost their homes before it ended. Obama dithered about the problem but hardly did anything for the most afflicted. The biggest government program was to bail out the banks. No big banker, corporate boss or Wall Street hedge fund manager ever went to jail for causing the recession, but the working class paid a terrible price.
At that point many people began to wise up. They heard about the 1%, the big bonuses, and the CEO salaries. The new jobs were scarce, and pay was low. They realized that the factories where workers made things were gone for good due to trade deals that created billions in profits for U.S. corporations paying a pittance to foreign workers in several countries. Workers held their anger back and reelected President Obama in 2012. But nothing changed. This year members of both parties demanded change.
No one can predict what's next and next after that, but more surprises are on the way. The political left and progressive forces had best get their act together and work in relative concert toward defeating the far right, winning over and enlightening a sector of the white working class now backing Trump, and pushing the Democratic party as far left as possible.
Trump has modified some of his rhetoric in an act of deception to appear "presidential," the way a growling dog emits tranquil tones when offered a juicy slab of meat. President Obama evidently served the slab in his historic meeting with Trump in the White House Nov.10 when he declared: "I want to emphasize to you, Mr. President-elect, that we now are going to do everything we can to help you succeed because if you succeed then the country succeeds."
Succeed in what? He plans to attain as many reactionary goals as possible — from ending all measures to reduce global warming, to terrorizing immigrants and Muslims, to legalizing torture, ending the right to abortion and breaking the Iran agreement — and that's just the beginning. The President-elect was so flattered by what he construed to be the president's public surrender to his self-promoted significance that he promised to retain one or two provisions of Obamacare while he destroys the rest and announced he would also include some smaller fences along with his huge wall between Mexico and the U.S.
Obama continued his ruminations on Trump when he told reporters Nov. 14: "I think it’s important for us to let him make his decisions.... I think the American people will judge, over the course of the next couple of years, whether they like what they see and whether these are the kinds of policies and this is the direction that they want to see the country going... I think he’s going to try as best he can to make sure that he delivers not only to the people who voted for him but for the people at large."
What are we to make of this? Tens of millions of Democratic and left voters have been listening to this uncouth narcissist for a year and a half and are well aware that most of his program amounts to a vicious right wing attack on our ever-withering democracy. Why should they sit back calmly and wait to see how all turns out over the next four years?
|West Virginia coal miners and families. Trump promised to "end the war on coal."|
The First 100 Days
Trump's original plan for his first 100 days in office starting Jan. 20 has undergone some revision, with certain programs moved back and others forward; Here is how it was a month ago: Take away almost all of Obamacare insurance from millions Americans. Nominate a Supreme Court justice who will vote to end legal abortion. Pass new libel laws targeting critical journalists. Begin mass deportation of 11 million undocumented immigrants, starting with over 2 million alleged criminals. Enact national “stop-and frisk” laws. Prosecute and potentially jail Hillary Clinton.
The impending regime also has its eye on nullifying or gravely weakening a number of President Obama's executive orders and departmental rules early in first term if possible. These include at least four environmental and energy measures, Dodd-Frank regulations, overtime pay for somewhat higher earning workers, Labor Department's rules requiring federal contractors to disclose past labor violations when they compete for government business, a ban on mandatory arbitration, rules on payday loans and debt cards, Net neutrality, menu labels, and expanded tobacco rules.
Judging by Trump's selection of top officials and advisers he has every intention of fulfilling most of the program he campaigned about. Were Shakespeare designated to describe the president-elect's top seven executives named so far he would undoubtedly turn to his play Macbeth for the appalling ingredients in the witch's brew being steeped where "Fire burn and caldron bubble" in the dark of night at Trump Tower:
· Wool of bat: Steve Bannan, Trump's Chief Strategist, the wealthy alt-right extremist and former head of Breitbart News, known for his adherence to white nationalist ideology, anti-Semitism, anti-Islamic attitudes, rudeness toward women and more. Of Bannan, Democratic House Minority Leader Nancy Pelosi observed: "There must be no sugarcoating the reality that a white nationalist has been named chief strategist for the Trump administration.” Said Michael Keegan, president of People for the American Way: “By choosing Bannan... Trump has made clear that he intends to carry the racism and anti-Semitism of his campaign straight into the White House."
· Tongue of dog: Reince Priebus, Trump's Chief of Staff, former head of the Republican Party who is considered a go-between the new party leadership and the old. Supposedly they are co-equals.
· Lizard's leg: Vice President-elect Mike Pence is the fanatical Christian fundamentalist governor of Indiana, and a far right conservative who will do most of the administration's work while Trump — who is mostly ignorant of the issues and solutions and who has a very short attention span — gives orders.
· Howlet's wing: House Speaker Paul Ryan, a far right wing ideologue who will share the work of running the government with Pence. He is most anxious to privatize Medicare.
· Adder's Fork (the forked tongue of a snake): Warhawk Rep. Mike Pompeo, a right wing extremist who advocates the use of torture to extract information from prisoners, will now head the CIA.
· Toe of frog: Extreme warhawk John Bolton, former U.S. Ambassador to the United Nations, is under consideration as the next Secretary of State. On Nov. 17 he called for the U.S. to overthrow the existing government in Iran.
· Fillet of a fenny snake. Sen. Jeff Sessions of Alabama, a well known racist, will become the next Attorney General. The Nov. 18 Times reported that George Washington University Professor Jonathan Turley said: “The Justice Department is likely to be one of the most transformed departments in the cabinet in a Trump administration, and with an Attorney General Sessions, you’d obviously see a very strong law-and-order figure at the top,”
Waiting impatiently in the wings for some kind power job are:
1. New Jersey Governor Chris Christie. Even though he is the President-elect's boot-licker par excellence he seems to have been sabotaged by Jared Kushner, Trump’s son-in-law and close adviser, who evidently was behind Christie's firing as chief of the transition team. As a prosecutor, Christie had sent Mr. Kushner’s criminal father to jail.
2. Newt Gingrich, a hard core rightist who served as House Speaker during part of the Bill Clinton administration in the 1990s, is now awaiting Trump's decision to name him to a high Cabinet post — or not.
3. Rudy Giuliani, the former Mayor of New York City and a prosecutor is an extreme authoritarian said to be — according to the Nov. 14 Washington Post — "a man whose career has been marked by prosecutorial excesses, knee-jerk defenses of abusive cops and an affinity for using the power of his political offices to get vengeance on his enemies." He wants to be Secretary of State the the odds are heavily against him.
An article in the Nov. 13 New York Times described the extreme importance of these leading appointees: "Trump comes into office with no elective-office experience, no coherent political agenda and no bulging binder of policy proposals. And he has left a trail of inflammatory, often contradictory, statements on issues from immigration and race to terrorism and geopolitics. In such a chaotic environment, serving a president who is in many ways a tabula rasa, the appointees to key White House jobs like chief of staff and cabinet posts like secretary of state, defense secretary and Treasury secretary could wield outsize influence."
Liberal Sen. Elizabeth Warren noted Nov. 16: "Trump ran a campaign that lambasted Wall Street and the established financial elites — but his transition team is chock full of lobbyists and corporate insiders."
Thomas Piketty, the internationally eminent economist, summed up Trump's program this way in Le Monde Nov. 12: "Trump’s victory is primarily due to the explosion in economic and geographic inequality in the United States over several decades and the inability of successive governments to deal with this. The tragedy is that Trump’s program will only strengthen the trend towards inequality. He intends to abolish the health insurance laboriously granted to low-paid workers under Obama and to set the country on a headlong course into fiscal dumping, with a reduction from 35% to 15% in the rate of federal tax on corporation profits, whereas to date the United States had resisted this trend, already witnessed in Europe."
The abandoned and decaying manufacturing plant of the Packard Motor Car company[
in Detroit, Michigan. (Photo Eric Thayer/Reuter.)
Trump has put forward a privately financed infrastructure plan "to rebuild America" and provide jobs. This sounds good, but the financing and most of the details are missing. Hillary Clinton's less expensive plan was to be financed by the government. Trump is a famous builder but he also exaggerates an has little use for the truth, so it is best to wait for full information to become available.
Business writer Faisal Hoque wrote Nov. 17 that "within his first 100 days in the Oval Office, Trump has vowed that he'll not only introduce but sign into law a bill intended to pump $1 trillion in private investment into rebuilding the nation's roads, bridges, tunnels, and airports. The plan would offer $137 billion in federal tax credits over the next decade to support those development projects and impose a 'repatriation' fee meant to lure back corporate profits parked overseas — a strategy similar to the one Obama has unsuccessfully lobbied Congress to support, and which Clinton had endorsed as well." Theoretically, this project will create hundreds of thousands of jobs. Obviously, this is not a Republican party plan and there is no certainty it will be successful or even get off the ground.
Trump has also said he would not change Social Security, Medicare or Medicaid — all of which are usual GOP targets. This, too, has to be carefully watched. According to Dave Johnson writing Nov. 17 in Our Future.org: "Now that the election is over things are different. Trump is freed from having to say what voters want to hear. Republicans are talking about privatizing Medicare and replacing it with vouchers to purchase private insurance. (In other words, they want to turn it into programs that work the same as the Obamacare they are vowing to eliminate.) The Republican platform calls for a 'premium support' for Medicare, also known as 'vouchers.' Under this system the government’s role is eliminated and people get an 'income-adjusted' voucher to use to buy private insurance — privatization. Income adjusted means the guarantee of health care for all goes away. The voucher would not necessarily be enough to actually buy a private policy."
According to Dr. Margaret Flowers, a full-time advocate for a state and federal single-payer health care system, "opening the sale of health insurance across state lines may lower prices (as Trump suggested), but at the expense of coverage. Block grants for Medicaid mean states will sacrifice coverage in times of economic stress."
Trump is coming under scrutiny for what Robert Weissman, President of Public Citizen, called Nov. 17 "The Most Blatant Conflicts of Interest in the History of American Politics." He continued: "As the owner of numerous companies spanning the entire globe, Donald Trump could take office with what might well be the most blatant conflicts of interest in the history of American politics. The scope of Trump’s empire means that his businesses are impacted by a wide range of government policies, including taxes, consumer protection, civil justice, financial regulation, employee rights, foreign policy and much more. Trump has proposed transferring control to a misnamed “blind trust” under the direction of his children. That’s more like an all-seeing trust! It would do nothing to eliminate the staggering conflicts of interest. Making matters still worse is that it is apparent that his children will be heavily involved in administration policy making. The American people need to know that Trump is not running the government to benefit his own corporate empire.... The only solution to this problem – the commonsense solution – is for President-Elect Donald Trump to divest his business holdings."
Ignoring Climate Change
Trump absurdly claims that the very notion of climate change is a Chinese plot to harm American business interests. He has pledged to withdraw from the Paris agreement by about 200 countries to increasingly replace fossil fuels with renewable sources of energy. In January he will be the only head of state in the world who remains a climate denier.
In contrast, Science Daily reported Nov. 10: "Changes in temperature due to human-induced climate change have already impacted every aspect of life on Earth from genes to entire ecosystems, with increasingly unpredictable consequences for humans — according to a new study published in the journal Science. The study found a staggering 80% of 94 ecological processes that form the foundation for healthy marine, freshwater and terrestrial ecosystems already show signs of distress and response to climate change. Impacts to humans include increased pests and disease outbreaks, reduced productivity in fisheries, and decreasing agriculture yields."
The UN Climate Change Conference in Morocco that ended Nov. 18 was shaken by the election but remained determined to move forward. Trump won't find it easy to attain his goal. Many big U.S. corporations have awakened to the danger of climate change and are challenging his intentions.
For example, Trump obtained a large amount of votes from unemployed and desperate miners after he promised to "end the war on coal," implying that the Obama administration was at fault. Actually, according to Laura Bliss writing in CityLab Nov. 17: "Trump wants to 'end the war on coal,' the most climate-unfriendly of all fossil fuels, but the energy market probably won’t let him. In the past two years, wind and solar power have become juggernauts on the energy scene. Prices on these sources have fallen dramatically, enough so that they’re competitive with 'dirty' fuels like oil and coal. Capacity for wind electricity generation grew more than 100% between 2009 and 2015 — growth that is projected to continue, according to the U.S. Energy Information Agency. Solar grew more than 900%. of all the new capacity added to the grid in 2015, nearly one third was solar."
Clinton, of course, received up to 2 million more votes than Trump and in effect won the popular election — but that isn't how it works in America. The elitist Electoral College intermediary, based on the state votes and not the national vote, first took effect in the election of 1789 and is still the constitutional law despite being totally out of date. It provides for the indirect election of the president with the states determining how many votes the electors have. Four presidential candidates in history, including Clinton and Democrat Al Gore in 2000, lost with vote majorities. The undemocratic nature of the U.S. system is well known and should be changed.
Almost half the eligible voters in U.S. did not vote. New York Times reporter Michael Wines noted Nov. 13: "So few Americans cast ballots that a new president was elected by barely 25% of registered voters. Some of those who did vote waited in line for hours. Others were told they needed an ID to vote under a law the courts had nullified months ago — and sometimes, under laws that never existed to begin with.
"Amid the ruins of the ugliest presidential campaign in modern history, Democrats are bemoaning an election apparatus so balky and politically malleable that throngs of would-be voters either gave up trying to cast ballots or cast ones that were never counted.
"This was the first presidential election in a half century that was held without the full protection of the Voting Rights Act of 1965. Voting rights advocates spent the year in court battling, with incomplete success, to roll back restrictions on the franchise enacted by Republican legislatures in state after state."
The most important undemocratic aspect of American elections remains the billion dollars or more contributed to the presidential candidates by a relative handful of donors from the 1% ruling class, corporate and banking leaders and Wall St. They mainly determine who wins and who loses the White House, Congress and many state contests.
3A. PROTEST TRUMP ON INAUGURATION DAY
January 20, 2017 at 7 a.m.
Freedom Plaza 1355 Pennsylvania Ave. NW (14th St. and Pennsylvania Ave)
Washington, DC 20004
Progressive people from all over the country will be descending on Washington, D.C. on January 20, 2017 to stage a massive demonstration along Pennsylvania Avenue on Inauguration Day. It is critically important that we keep building a larger grassroots movement against war, militarism, racism, anti-immigrant scapegoating and neoliberal capitalism’s assault against workers’ living standards and the environment.
BUSES WILL BE COMING FROM THE HUDSON VALLEY. CONTACT THE ACTIVIST NEWSLETTER IF YOU WISH TO TRAVEL WITH US, firstname.lastname@example.org. Send us your name, address and contact information. We will get back to you as soon as we can with bus information, pickup, delivery and cost. From other parts of the country, contact http://www.answercoalition.org.
3B JAN 21. WOMEN'S MARCH ON WASHINGTON.
This event is being organized on Facebook and we are not familiar with the organizers.
The 10 a.m. to 5 p.m. march and rally starts at the Lincoln Memorial. The main contact address is https://www.facebook.com/events/2169332969958991/
From there you can find a page for your state. The New York Times had an article about the event recently at http://www.nytimes.com/2016/11/19/us/womens-march-on-washington.html. ————————————————————————
5. TRUMP, STANDING ROCK, AND THE ENVIRONMENT
[Over 200 demonstrations took place in the U.S. and internationally Nov. 15 in solidarity with water protectors at Standing Rock in North Dakota. The actions were called by Native American leaders around the country to cancel or reroute the Dakota Access Pipeline. Many of the actions were at offices of the Army Corp of Engineers, which ruled a day earlier that more analysis and discussion with the Standing Rock Sioux tribe is needed before construction can take place under the Missouri River.]
|Dakota Access construction site and Standing Rock water protectors. |
P(hoto by Rob Wilson Photography.) From Yes Magazne.
By Tom Goldtooth and Annie Leonard, Nov 18, 2016
With Donald Trump’s presidency on the horizon, it is now more important than ever for President Obama to stop the $3.7 billion Dakota Access pipeline, which is slated to carry 470,000 barrels of Bakken crude oil per day, with a growth potential of up to 570,000 barrels. It is the only solution that truly respects the treaty rights of the Standing Rock Sioux, protects the tribe’s sacred areas, defends the water of life, and takes into account the pipeline’s devastating climate impacts.
There is no doubt that Trump poses an urgent threat to our climate, to our environment, and to the integrity of Mother Earth. He will try to fast-track fossil fuel projects across the country, including the Dakota Access pipeline and other transport infrastructure. That makes the final months of President Obama’s term more important than ever. President Obama’s legacy must include sending a resounding message to the world that we will not stand for fossil fuel pipelines that threaten the rights of indigenous peoples and our very existence. To avoid the worst impacts of climate change, it is absolutely imperative to keep the world’s remaining fossil fuels in the ground.
The Army Corps of Engineers announced this week that it was delaying until further analysis and consultation with the Standing Rock Sioux tribe a final easement that would allow the drilling for the pipeline to go under the Missouri River at Lake Oahe. President Obama has previously stated that the Army Corps is exploring options for rerouting the pipeline. Unfortunately, simply rerouting the project does not go far enough. The administration should revoke the permits, pull the easement, and order a full environmental impact statement. There are no safe routes for carrying this fracked and highly volatile oil. Any other proposed alternatives, such as drilling deeper under the Missouri River or double-lining the steel pipe, do not provide a guarantee against the prevention of future leaks and spills.
Already this year, we have seen over 220 significant pipeline spills in the U.S. alone. Pipelines by their very nature are threats to the land, water, and climate. If the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers had completed a proper full environmental impact statement assessment, it would have come to the conclusion that this project poses an immediate threat to Native communities in the region, who are already experiencing disproportionate health and environmental impacts from failed federal policies and practices. Additionally, it threatens the drinking water for millions of people downstream on the Missouri River.
There are no safe routes for carrying this fracked and highly volatile oil.
Many don’t realize that an early proposal for the Dakota Access pipeline called for the project to cross the Missouri River north of Bismarck, North Dakota, a city that is mostly white. That plan was scrapped because of the potential threat to the city’s water supply. Instead, the company chose to reroute the pipeline to cross just north of the Standing Rock Sioux reservation, a sovereign Native nation that had not given its consent for construction of the pipeline. This suggests that people were concerned enough about the threats the pipeline posed to Bismarck water supplies that they used political power to move it downstream; they didn’t care if it impacted the Lakota and Dakota of Standing Rock. This is environmental racism. The United States has an executive order indicating it would not discriminate on the basis of race, color, or national origin in its environmental decision-making processes. This project is a glaring violation of that order.
The Obama administration should pull the plug on this project immediately. Members of the Standing Rock Sioux, along with other Native water protectors and supporters, are under constant attack for peacefully resisting the destruction of their water, land, and sacred sites. We have seen an over-militarized police presence using tear gas, dogs, rubber bullets, bean bag shotgun rounds, and riot-control sound cannons on water protectors, medics, and journalists. These attacks have come while Energy Transfer Partners ignored the administration’s request for a voluntary halt to construction, instead continuing to build right up to Lake Oahe. Currently, equipment is poised for drilling under the lake.
If these climate deniers choose to move forward with dangerous fossil fuel projects, we will fight back.
We have also started to see the financial institutions backing this project begin to waver, noting their concerns about a project that tramples all over indigenous rights as well as the human rights of peaceful supporters. Norway’s biggest bank, DNB, said Nov. 17 that it is divesting its assets in the project after previously announcing that it is also reconsidering the credit it is providing, which amounts to 10 percent of the total funding. Other major players, including Citibank, TD Securities, Wells Fargo, and SunTrust, must be held accountable for continuing to finance the destruction of sacred treaty lands and our climate. If you have money in any of the institutions financing the Dakota Access pipeline, reach out to them to reconsider their decision or consider banking elsewhere. We hold the power to push them to divest and pull their loans.
And there’s more to be done.
President-elect Trump certainly poses a threat to the climate, and we have urgent work to do before he takes over the White House. That starts with urging President Obama to do everything in his power to stop this pipeline. His remarks last month about “letting the process play out” cannot mean kicking this down the road to our next president. We also need to continue to make it undesirable for financial institutions to invest in fossil fuel infrastructure, especially those projects that contribute to human rights violations. We need to mobilize millions of people to ensure the next administration faces up to the reality that the movement for climate justice and the Native nations movement for indigenous peoples’ rights will only continue to grow stronger. If these climate deniers choose to move forward with dangerous fossil fuel projects, we will fight back—peacefully—at every opportunity. Climate change is Mother Earth’s call for a real revolution, an awakening of humanity to reevaluate its relationship to the sacredness of the Earth, the water of life, and nature.
— Tom Goldtooth and Annie Leonard wrote this article for YES! Magazine. Tom is executive director of the Indigenous Environmental Network.
Annie is executive director of Greenpeace USA.
6. WHERE THE DEMOCRATS GO FROM HERE?
By Bernie Sanders, Nov. 11
Millions of Americans have registered a protest vote on Nov. 8, expressing their fierce opposition to an economic and political system that puts wealthy and corporate interests over their own. I strongly supported Hillary Clinton, campaigned hard on her behalf, and believed she was the right choice on Election Day. But Donald J. Trump won the White House because his campaign rhetoric successfully tapped into a very real and justified anger, an anger that many traditional Democrats feel.
I am saddened, but not surprised, by the outcome. It is no shock to me that millions of people who voted for Mr. Trump did so because they are sick and tired of the economic, political and media status quo.
Working families watch as politicians get campaign financial support from billionaires and corporate interests — and then ignore the needs of ordinary Americans. Over the last 30 years, too many Americans were sold out by their corporate bosses. They work longer hours for lower wages as they see decent paying jobs go to China, Mexico or some other low-wage country. They are tired of having chief executives make 300 times what they do, while 52 percent of all new income goes to the top 1 percent. Many of their once beautiful rural towns have depopulated, their downtown stores are shuttered, and their kids are leaving home because there are no jobs — all while corporations suck the wealth out of their communities and stuff them into offshore accounts.
Working Americans can’t afford decent, quality child care for their children. They can’t send their kids to college, and they have nothing in the bank as they head into retirement. In many parts of the country they can’t find affordable housing, and they find the cost of health insurance much too high. Too many families exist in despair as drugs, alcohol and suicide cut life short for a growing number of people.
President-elect Trump is right: The American people want change. But what kind of change will he be offering them? Will he have the courage to stand up to the most powerful people in this country who are responsible for the economic pain that so many working families feel, or will he turn the anger of the majority against minorities, immigrants, the poor and the helpless? Will he have the courage to stand up to Wall Street, work to break up the “too big to fail” financial institutions and demand that big banks invest in small businesses and create jobs in rural America and inner cities? Or, will he appoint another Wall Street banker to run the Treasury Department and continue business as usual? Will he, as he promised during the campaign, really take on the pharmaceutical industry and lower the price of prescription drugs?....
I am deeply distressed to hear stories of Americans being intimidated and harassed in the wake of Mr. Trump’s victory, and I hear the cries of families who are living in fear of being torn apart. We have come too far as a country in combating discrimination. We are not going back. Rest assured, there is no compromise on racism, bigotry, xenophobia and sexism. We will fight it in all its forms, whenever and wherever it re-emerges.
I will keep an open mind to see what ideas Mr. Trump offers and when and how we can work together. Having lost the nationwide popular vote, however, he would do well to heed the views of progressives. If the president-elect is serious about pursuing policies that improve the lives of working families, I’m going to present some very real opportunities for him to earn my support.
Let’s rebuild our crumbling infrastructure and create millions of well-paying jobs. Let’s raise the minimum wage to a living wage, help students afford to go to college, provide paid family and medical leave and expand Social Security. Let’s reform an economic system that enables billionaires like Mr. Trump not to pay a nickel in federal income taxes. And most important, let’s end the ability of wealthy campaign contributors to buy elections.
In the coming days, I will also provide a series of reforms to reinvigorate the Democratic Party. I believe strongly that the party must break loose from its corporate establishment ties and, once again, become a grass-roots party of working people, the elderly and the poor. We must open the doors of the party to welcome in the idealism and energy of young people and all Americans who are fighting for economic, social, racial and environmental justice. We must have the courage to take on the greed and power of Wall Street, the drug companies, the insurance companies and the fossil fuel industry.
When my presidential campaign came to an end, I pledged to my supporters that the political revolution would continue. And now, more than ever, that must happen. We are the wealthiest nation in the history of the world. When we stand together and don’t let demagogues divide us up by race, gender or national origin, there is nothing we cannot accomplish. We must go forward, not backward.
7. TRUMP'S ELECTION:
THE END OF LIBERAL CAPITALISM?
THE END OF LIBERAL CAPITALISM?
Even before Donald Trump’s election victory it was becoming clear that we are living in an age of disintegration. Nation states are returning to relationships based on rivalry and friction when the trend was meant to be in the opposite direction. The internal unity of country after country is under stress or has already broken down. Governments and universities used to set up institutions to study greater integration and cooperation, while in fact they might have been better looking at how things fall apart.
The phenomenon is most obvious in the wider Middle East where there are at least seven wars and three insurgencies raging in the swathe of countries between Pakistan and Nigeria. But in Europe and the U.S., foreign and domestic antagonisms are also becoming deeper and more venomous. In this more rancorous political landscape, the election of Donald Trump as U.S. President feels like part of a trend, toxic and dangerous but wide-ranging and unstoppable. Distinct though the political and economic situation in the U.S., Europe and the Middle East may be in many respects, there is the same dissatisfaction or rejection of the status quo without much idea of what should be put in its place.
Political shocks like the election of Trump can produce apocalyptic forebodings that in retrospect turn out to be misplaced or exaggerated. But, in this case, grim expectations about the future may be all too justified and unlikely to evaporate. Trump’s promises of radical change may be phony or opportunistic, but they have a momentum of their own which will be uncontrollable.
For all his demagoguery, there was a sense that Trump was often nearer to the issues that concerned voters than Hillary Clinton. In the final election rallies of Trump in Michigan and Clinton in North Carolina, he was promising voters the return of factories and well-paid jobs while she was repeating kindergarten waffle such as “love trumps hate” and “build bridges not walls”. He will find it difficult to retreat from these pledges and this is bound to bring confrontation with other trading nations. Overall, the high days of liberal capitalism since the fall of the Soviet Union in 1991, which continued despite a battering from the financial crisis of 2008, are finally finished.
It is an age not just of disintegration but of extremes, with proponents of the status quo either weakened or discredited, as shown by the Brexit vote in Britain. The beneficiaries are mostly on the right: from the 1980s on, the mainstream left in Britain, France and Germany abandoned socialism for liberal free market capitalism as the proven recipe for human happiness, which meant that after 2008 they had no alternative system to advocate and could no longer provide a credible vehicle for protest. The political beneficiaries of disillusionment with things as they are have almost invariably been on the right as with Trump who, along with other rightist insurgencies, can plug into resurgent loyalty to the nation state in the wake of discredited globalization.
There are similarities — so long as the analogies are not overstrained – between the forces behind the Arab Spring protests of 2011, the Brexit vote and Trump’s electoral victory today. In all cases, the ruling establishment was weaker and more unpopular than even the most critical observers had imagined: the triumphant protesters were astonished by the extent of their own success. More ominously, it swiftly emerged in the Middle East that the proponents of change had little idea what it should be and had relied wholly on demonization of their opponents as the source of all evils.
There is another parallel between what happened in the Arab world five years ago and events in the UK and the U.S. this year. The old regimes were battered or discarded but there was nothing to replace them with. There is no consensus on what to do. Travelling to Britain from the Middle East, it is striking how the political, social and geographical divisions expressed by the Brexit vote have only deepened with time, whatever pretenses there are to the contrary. Political commentators in the UK and U.S. who endlessly proclaimed that, whatever the rhetoric, elections were won by those who seized the centre ground turned out to be wrong because there was not much centre ground to seize.
These are not the only political shibboleths which should be discarded. Shocks like these usually provoke jeremiads from the “commentariat” about how all is chaos and the centrer. cannot hold. Such dire warnings are swiftly followed by more hopeful commentary about how things have not changed as radically or dangerously as first feared. But, unfortunately, in the case of the US election, the first gloom-filled predictions may be the most accurate.
It is true that Trump’s authority will be thwarted by the division of powers laid down by the U.S. constitution — though this is somewhat contradicted by Republican control of both Houses of Congress as well as the presidency. Presidential powers are also diluted by those of other state institutions such as the Pentagon and the Treasury. But these comforting thoughts are probably wishful thinking. The extent of the rejection of the American establishment — Democrats, Republicans, celebrities, media — by US voters underlines its weakness. The U.S. media in particular is so much part of the political class that it had become an echo chamber in which it heard only its own views.
Leaving aside these dangerous historical trends, there is another more immediate menace stemming from election of Trump in the U.S. and the Brexit vote in Britain: it empowers and legitimizes the crackpots and the cranks, those who want to roll back the verdict of past elections since the New Deal if not the Civil War. Those around Trump are not just the Team “B” of American politics but the Team “C” or even lower down the alphabet. They may not want to blow up the world but, out of sheer idiocy, they could do just that.
I am writing this in the Iraqi Kurdish capital Irbil which is 60 miles from Mosul, where rival armies are fighting their way into the Islamic State's last great stronghold. Nobody expects this to be the end of the wars in Iraq and Syria or the multiple crises tearing the region apart. The experience is evidence of the fragility of states and how easily they can be capsized, not just by domestic divisions and foreign enemies but by avoidable political errors. With Donald Trump soon to be in the White House, it is difficult to avoid the feeling that the world has just become a lot more dangerous place.
—Reprinted from The Independent UK) by permission.
8. THE FIGHT BACK BEGINS!
Sasha Savenko and Sydney Kane, both students at the University of Washington, join thousands
of protesters marching down 2nd Avenue on Nov. 9, in Seattle, Washington.
Donald Trump is the next President of the United States. It is of utmost urgency that all progressive people take to the streets in defense of immigrants, Muslims and people of color, and to advance an alternative vision of working-class unity and solidarity in the struggle against the ravages of neoliberal capitalism. That is the only way to counter Trump’s demagogy, and expose the fact that he has no real program to improve the living conditions for those who are looking to him to bring change.
How could a racist, sexist xenophobe, a billionaire reality TV star with off-the-charts unfavorable ratings, who lacked the support of the political establishment and the ruling class, win the presidency?
The biggest single cause of Clinton’s defeat was the fact that more than six million fewer Democratic voters went to the polls in 2016 as compared to the election between Barack Obama and Mitt Romney in 2012.
Trump won as a result of the complete and utter failure of the Democratic Party and Wall Street elites to address the biggest issues facing large parts of the working people in the country. That elite took large sections of the electorate for granted, including their own base. Bernie Sanders would have crushed Trump in the general election but the elites vanquished his insurgent campaign and put forward a candidate that epitomized the status quo, while treating working-class communities with extreme arrogance. Trump, the racist and sexist, actually won a greater percentage (29%) of the Latino and (8%) African-American vote than Romney did in 2012.
But 93% of counties nationwide are economically at or below where they were in 2008. Under Obama’s two terms in office, the stock market has tripled in value but wages are stagnant and economic polarization is well documented. This was the sentiment that powered the Bernie Sanders rebellion within the party but the DNC put it down. Then Clinton ran to the right and ever since the entire election cycle has been devoid of any meaningful discussion about the core issues facing working-class and poor people in the United States.
This election result was about turnout. Millions of poor, oppressed and working-class young people, who came out for Obama in large numbers in 2008 and 2012 were not motivated or inspired by a fundamentally untrustworthy person who has been circling in the highest summits of power for a quarter century, and is clearly the preferred candidate of the powers that be.
The shallow politics of symbolism was not sufficient to rally the Democratic base. The country did not magically all turn into Trumpites on Election Day, and there is little evidence of long-time Democrats flocking to Trump. The popular vote, when it’s all counted, may in fact show Clinton pulling even. (Of course, some 31 million people in this country are excluded from the franchise due to being incarcerated or on probation, or due to immigration status.)
gather to protest a day after Trump's victory, at a
rally outside |
Los Angeles City Hall, California, Nov. 9.
Like with the Brexit vote across the Atlantic, many of the voters who cast their ballot for Trump were expressing a rejection of the elite, without a clear program of what they are voting for....
Clinton was the favored candidate of Wall Street, the Military-Industrial Complex and the right-wing neoconservative foreign policy elites who made up the core of the George W. Bush team. Not one of the CEOs of the Fortune 100 donated to the campaign of the Republican candidate. Almost universally the ruling class did not trust Trump, a small time real estate mogul and reality show TV huckster, to be in possession of the keys to the capitalist castle. Wall Street presumed Trump would only be out for himself which is the real reason they thought he was “unfit” to perform as the CEO for the entire capitalist class. As Karl Marx incisively wrote in the Communist Manifesto: “The executive of the modern state is but a committee for managing the common affairs of the whole bourgeoisie.”
What will a Trump Administration mean for working people?
Trump is an erratic and unpredictable leader and the extreme reactionary forces his campaign has emboldened will not be appeased by his taking the White House. The Trump campaign has facilitated the rise of a new right-wing trend in U.S. politics that has as its defining characteristics open racism and misogyny coupled with anti-establishment rhetoric (and oftentimes conspiracy theories).
This has provided fertile ground for the growth of fascism, even though Trump’s victory in and of itself does not herald the arrival of fascism in the United States. Whether this trend continues to operate primarily inside the Republican Party or develops its own organizational form remains to be seen.
The far right presents a serious danger, but we will only make the problem worse if we tail behind the Democrats. By mobilizing immediately and independently against the incoming administration, we can prevent the right wing from gaining any additional traction.
Right now it is critically important for millions of people to join together in a movement to cancel student debt, dismantle private health insurance organizations and make health care either free or affordable, raise the minimum wage, and organize millions of unorganized workers into unions. Millions of working-class people and youth agreed when Bernie Sanders called out Wall Street as a criminal enterprise. Millions of people oppose any new war in Syria or anywhere else. These issues remain critical regardless of who sits in the Oval Office.
For the PSL, our work begins right away as we, along with people from all over the country, mobilize for the Jan. 20 protest at the Inauguration. As political tensions are heightened in the United States and internationally, the coming period will be a crucial test. The challenge before the left is to lead this struggle. Unless the left provides real leadership, right-wing demagogues and fascists will continue to fill the void. The stakes are high. The time to act is right now.
9. CLEARING OUT THE POLITICAL ESTABLISHMENT
A political earthquake has just ripped through the world. There can be no doubt that Donald Trump’s victory in the U.S. presidential elections marks a historic breaking point for American politics and the liberal international order established in the wake of World War II. Things simply won’t be the same after this. And yet it’s crucial to remind ourselves that this moment has been a long time in the making.
In recent years, the twin pillars of the postwar world system — global capitalist markets and liberal democratic institutions — have been steadily decaying under the strains of a structural crisis of financialization and a deep legitimation crisis of the neoliberal political establishment. Yesterday’s shock election result indicates that this dual crisis has finally come to a head. Trump himself will eventually move on, but the crisis he speaks to will fester and ultimately overflow the regulatory capacity of even the world’s most powerful state. We are now steadily moving towards the kind of world-systemic chaos predicted by sociologists Giovanni Arrighi and Beverly Silver at the turn of the century.
Here we should immediately dispense with a pervasive and dangerous myth: Trump’s rise cannot simply be blamed on the supposedly extremist and backward views of the American working class. In the U.S., at least, the rush to right-wing populism appears to be a middle class response to the dual crisis of global capitalism and liberal democracy. As Paul Mason puts it, “Donald Trump has won the presidency — not because of the ‘white working class,’ but because millions of middle-class and educated U.S. citizens reached into their soul and found there, after all its conceits were stripped away, a grinning white supremacist. Plus untapped reserves of misogyny.”
It was this white middle class, especially men, that handed Trump the presidency: the majority of those making less than $50,000 a year voted for Clinton, while a majority of those making more than that voted for Trump. Almost two in three white men, 63 percent in all, voted for the far-right Republican candidate. But while these numbers certainly do reveal a disconcerting picture about the deeply embedded racism at the heart of American society, Trump’s popularity should neither be overstated nor naturalized. All in all, Trump actually garnered a lower share of the popular vote than either Bush, Romney or McCain. Trump didn’t win because he was popular; Clinton lost because she was so extremely unpopular.
The question we should be asking right now is why white middle-class voters would still be comfortable with electing an openly racist and sexist candidate like Trump. And here we cannot bypass the complex interactions between cultural and economic factors. The academic literature on right-wing populism and anti-immigrant sentiment has all too often treated this relation as some kind of dichotomy. In truth, the two are deeply intertwined and cannot be separated from one another: it is the existential fear generated by intense socio-economic insecurity that causes deep-seated ethnocentric biases to resurface. In a climate of pervasive anxiety, wrought by decades of neoliberal restructuring and years of economic crisis, the lure of a strong leader and the identification of a set of scapegoats may be too much to resist for many.
While Trump is clearly neither charismatic nor honest, Noam Chomsky essentially foresaw the general development that would lead to a “crazed” right-wing Republican electoral victory six years ago:
"If somebody comes along who is charismatic and honest, this country is in real trouble because of the frustration, disillusionment, the justified anger and the absence of any coherent response. What are people supposed to think if someone says ‘I have got an answer, we have an enemy’? There it was the Jews. Here it will be the illegal immigrants and the blacks. We will be told that white males are a persecuted minority. We will be told we have to defend ourselves and the honor of the nation. Military force will be exalted. People will be beaten up. This could become an overwhelming force. And if it happens it will be more dangerous than Germany. The United States is the world power. Germany was powerful but had more powerful antagonists. I don’t think all this is very far away. If the polls are accurate it is not the Republicans but the right-wing Republicans, the crazed Republicans, who will sweep the next election."
Ultimately, the “frustration, disillusionment and justified anger” that fed into Trump’s victory has its roots not only in the botched handling of the global financial crisis and the Great Recession that followed it, but goes back to the four decades of economic globalization and democratic decline that preceded it. This is a crucial point. After all, if Trump were merely a symptom of the financial crisis, a sustained economic recovery could eventually undermine him. But if, in contrast, his rise is actually the result of a much more deep-seated set of contradictions in global capitalism and liberal democracy, the factors that fed into his electoral victory are likely to persist — and the anti-establishment backlash is likely to further intensify.
In The Great Transformation, Karl Polanyi famously identified a very similar set of developments leading to the breakdown of the liberal world order in the early-twentieth century. As he pointed out, the rise of fascism was not just a result of the Great Depression, but more importantly of the extensive liberalization of world markets in the first wave of globalization of the late-nineteenth century. For Polanyi, it was the “disembedding” of economic relations from all social constraints, the commodification of spheres of life that had hitherto been protected from the “vagaries of the market,” and the intense social insecurities generated by this “great transformation” that finally propelled the rise of nationalist countermovements to economic liberalism — a popular backlash against cosmopolitan haute finance, personified by the racist stereotype of the greedy Jew, and against the political establishment of the day.
Donald Trump, the billionaire real-estate mogul with his lavish and unconventional cosmopolitan lifestyle, is clearly not a straightforward fascist or national-socialist of the 1930s variety. But while history may not literally repeat itself, there is at least one important respect in which today’s situation at least rhymes with Polanyi’s times. What we are witnessing at the moment appear to be the early stages of a long drawn-out process of political fragmentation, ideological polarization and institutional decomposition that will be marked by intensifying systemic chaos and an escalation of political conflict across the board. It is not altogether unlikely that these developments will eventually culminate in the gradual breakdown of the Pax Americana, just as the global disorder of the interbellum period lauded the end of the Pax Britannica.
This crisis, in other words, is structural — and Trump should not be viewed in isolation. Between Brexit, Le Pen, Alternative für Deutschland, Golden Dawn, Geert Wilders and Viktor Orban, the nationalist far-right is on the rise on both sides of the Atlantic. If we include the constitutional coup in Brazil and Erdogan’s counter-coup in Turkey, we can even extend that same line of analysis to emerging markets. The political disorder predicted by Arrighi and Silver is steadily becoming generalized. Clearly the crisis of national democracy and the revival of economic nationalism are international phenomena. The political economist Mark Blyth rightly refers to it as “Global Trumpism.”
This groundswell of anti-establishment anger will continue to spread, and we should expect further shockwaves in the months and years ahead — perhaps most acutely in Italy, where Prime Minister Matteo Renzi looks set to lose a constitutional referendum later this year, possibly resuscitating the Eurozone debt crisis that has been lying dormant ever since EU governments crushed yet another short-lived anti-establishment government in Greece last year. There is little doubt, then, that 2016 will go down in history as the political corollary to 2008. The crisis of global capitalism and liberal democracy will continue to deepen, and things will probably get a lot worse before they get any better.
Our response to this crisis must be guided by Walter Benjamin’s observation that the rise of every fascism is always an index of a failed revolution. Now more than ever we need a reinvigorated left and strong social movements to build collective power from below. Only a radical democracy can clear away the ruins of a decaying liberal order and defeat the proto-fascist right before it wreaks irreversible damage on our planet and the world population. This is the point at which we get organized and intensify our struggles.
— Jerome Roos is the founder and editor of ROAR Magazine, and a postdoctoral researcher in political economy at the University of Cambridge. For more on his research and writings, visit jeromeroos.c
10. UN PARIS CLIMATE AGREEMENT TAKES EFFECT
By the Activist News
When President-elect Trump assumes office in January he will become the only leader of nearly 200 world countries who denies climate change. All the other countries made it clear at the climate conference in Marrakech, Morocco, Nov. 7-18 that they will continue to reduce fossil fuel consumption and work toward UN goals.
The Paris agreement under the U.N. Framework Convention on Climate Change entered into force Nov. 4, UN Dispatch reported. The deal was formulated in December 2015 and would put a cap on greenhouse gas emissions. In order to take effect, it had required that 55 parties whose emissions totaled to 55% of the world total ratify the pact.
The pact's objective is to maintain global warming at below 2 degrees Celsius (3.6 degrees Fahrenheit) since the start of the Industrial Revolution, with 1.5 degrees Celsius as the goal.
The Paris agreement on its own will not significantly alter countries' behavior with regard to climate change. Instead, a variety of political, economic and technological factors will determine how different regions change their energy consumption to mitigate the threat of global warming.
The transition beyond oil is already underway, and the world's energy systems are shifting toward renewable wind, solar and thermal energy as well, alas, as natural gas and nuclear energy.
11. STUDENT PROTEST IN NEW PALTZ
SUNY New Paltz students march go protest the relection and racist graffiti. Phot Lauren Thomas.
By Frances Marion Platt, November 14, 2016
Spurred in part by anguish over the results of the presidential election and partly by the appearance of racist graffiti on campus, hundreds of SUNY New Paltz students walked out of their classes at noontime Nov. 11 for an energetic demonstration against the policies of Donald Trump. Protesters rallied on the quad outside the Humanities Building while a smaller group trooped through the building’s staircases and hallways chanting slogans. Then they regrouped outside and marched into town, streaming six deep along the sidewalks and spilling over into the street.
According to student Oren Korashvili, who coordinated the event’s Facebook page, the demonstration had been organized by a coalition of campus groups including the Black Student Union, the Afro/Latino Community and the SUNY New Paltz chapter of New York Students Rising. “While we understand that Donald Trump was elected democratically, we’re looking to repudiate the hateful rhetoric targeting minorities,” he told the New Paltz Times when asked what the marchers hoped to achieve. “We want to show unity with groups that have legitimate reasons to fear now.”
Campus police chief David Dugatkin sized up the crowd at “somewhere around 500,” while the Times Herald-Record and WPDH estimated the number of protesters between 600 and 800. The group was racially diverse and mostly college-aged, although several SUNY faculty members reportedly participated as well. Many of those assembled wore safety pins, identifying themselves as “safe” persons to whom someone being bullied or harassed could turn for immediate assistance.
Homemade signs were in abundance, with “Not My President” and “Love Trumps Hate” among the more popular slogans. Nate Christian, a marketing major in his senior year, held aloft a Trump-shaped piñata. Shepherded by student organizers bearing megaphones, the group chanted a few slogans that would evoke nostalgia among Vietnam War protesters, such as “The people united will never be defeated,” along with many more topical chants including “Trump, you’re fired,” “Donald Trump go away / Racist, sexist, anti-gay” and “You can’t build the wall / Your hands are too small!”
As the line of march headed down Plattekill Ave., turned east on Main Street and returned to campus via South Chestnut Street, one group of female students chanted “My body, my choice,” while a group of their male allies followed, echoing “Her body, "her choice.” Voices could be heard chanting along with the protesters from the windows of an apartment buildings as they passed....
—From HV1. Continued at http://hudsonvalleyone.com/2016/11/14/racist-graffiti-in-suny-new-paltz-dorm-galvanizes-anti-trump-protest-march/
Pix Oil Map
12. THE LARGEST OIL DEPOSIT EVER IN U.S.
President Obama continuously supported the extraction of oil and fracked gas in the United States throughout his eight years in office, even as he sought to project the image of himself as a leading opponent of fossil fuels and global warming.
Now President-elect Donald Trump says he doesn't even believe that human-induced global warming exists, and indicates he's going full speed ahead with polluting the world — overturning Obama's better environmental regulations, encouraging drilling and fracking wherever possible, and allowing construction of the Keystone XL oil pipeline from Canada to Texas.
And just in time, by unfortunate coincidence, the U.S. Geological Survey said Nov. 15 that it found what could be the largest deposit of untapped oil ever discovered in America. Billions, perhaps trillions of dollars will now further enrich the big energy companies and the 1%. Here's the story from Business Insider by Akin Oyedele:
An estimated average of 20 billion barrels of oil and 1.6 billion barrels of natural gas liquids are available for the taking in the Wolfcamp shale, which is in the Midland Basin portion of Texas' Permian Basin.
Based on a West Texas Intermediate crude oil price of $45 per barrel, those deposits are worth about $900 billion. [When oil prices rise again to $75 or $100 a barrel profits will double.]
U.S. oil exploration companies have flocked to the superrich Permian Basin in recent years and used shale-drilling technology to create an oil boom that simultaneously helped trigger a price crash two years ago. The count of active oil rigs fell with prices, but has risen over the past few months, mostly in the Permian. Bloomberg noted that the Wolfcamp, where this deposit was found, has been one of the primary targets of shale drillers.
"The fact that this is the largest assessment of continuous oil we have ever done just goes to show that, even in areas that have produced billions of barrels of oil, there is still the potential to find billions more," Walter Guidroz, program coordinator for the USGS Energy Resources Program, said in a statement.
More than 3,000 horizontal oil wells have already been drilled and completed in the Midland Basin Wolfcamp section, according to the USGS. To get the oil, producers fracture, or "frack," the earth below with a high-pressure liquid mixture to untap oil and gas from shale rock.