CARL SCHURZ, AMERICAN SOCIALIST, ON “TRUE AMERICANISM”

Carl-Schurz 13th Sec of the Interior
Revolutionary, Soldier, Diplomat, Senator and 13th Secretary of the Interior, Carl Schurz was a dedicated reformer and patriotic American Socialist.

Carl Schurz was an American politician, soldier and diplomat, and a dedicated Socialist. He was born in Liblar, Germany and after attending a gymnasium, in 1847 he began pursuing a doctorate in History at the University of Bonn, with a view to ultimately teaching in a university. His studies were interrupted by the German Revolution of 1848. Like many idealistic students, 19 year old Carl became imbued with revolutionary fervor and Schurz became a leader of a student movement that promoted Social Democracy, being strongly influenced by Gottfried Kinkel. He joined the revolutionary socialists, fighting in several battles against the Prussian Army which had vowed to stamp out all political reform.

When the revolutionary army was finally crushed at Rastatt in 1849, Schurz escaped to Switzerland, aware that the Prussians intended to murder all their prisoners. He returned to Germany on a secretly to free his revolutionary mentor Kinkel from prison. The political climate in Europe after the suppression of the rebellions being hostile to all political reform, Schurz migrated to America, marrying and becoming involved in American politics, where he found like-minded folk such as himself in the new-born Republican Party.

Moving to the upper Mid-West, he reunited with a number of former “Forty-Eighters” who had settled there, many of whom were becoming involved in growing reform movements there such as Abolitionism and Women’s Suffrage. Schurz joined the Republican Party and actively campaigned for Lincoln in the election of 1860.

Carl Schurz in dashing Hussar uniform while serving under General Fremont Missouri Hist Soc

When the Civil War broke out, Schurz, with his previous military experience, volunteered for the Union Army and was active in motivating fellow German immigrants to also join the army. Eventually he rose to the rank of general, fighting in a number of battles. Lincoln  sent him back to Europe as Ambassador and after the war Schurz served in various capacities in government and politics.

Throughout the late nineteenth century, the Republican Party remained a haven for Socialists and other Progressive thinkers, of whom Schurz was one of the most prominent. He often aroused the ire of political opponents for his attempts at political reform, his championing of Native American rights, and his opposition to Imperialism. This speech, made later in life, reflects his views on true patriotism–versus the boastful and bellicose “jingoism” that was becoming popular.  Many of the sentiments expressed by Schurz in this speech are–unfortunately–as relevant today as when he spoke them.

“The True Americanism”

— Carl Schurz, The True Americanism“, address delivered in New York City at a meeting of the Chamber of Commerce of the State of New York, January 2, 1896.

What is the rule of honor to be observed by a power so strongly and so advantageously situated as this Republic is?

Of course I do not expect it meekly to pocket real insults if they should be offered to it. But, surely, it should not, as our boyish jingoes wish it to do, swagger about among the nations of the world, with a chip on its shoulder, shaking its fist in everybody’s face.

Of course, it should not tamely submit to real encroachments upon its rights. But, surely, it should not, whenever its own notions of right or interest collide with the notions of others, fall into hysterics and act as if it really feared for its own security and its very independence.

As a true gentleman, conscious of his strength and his dignity, it should be slow to take offense. In its dealings with other nations it should have scrupulous regard, not only for their rights, but also for their self-respect.

With all its latent resources for war, it should be the great peace power of the world. It should never forget what a proud privilege and what an inestimable blessing it is not to need and not to have big armies or navies to support.

It should seek to influence mankind, not by heavy artillery, but by good example and wise counsel. It should see its highest glory, not in battles won, but in wars prevented.

It should be so invariably just and fair, so trustworthy, so good tempered, so conciliatory, that other nations would instinctively turn to it as their mutual friend and the natural adjuster of their differences, thus making it the greatest preserver of the world’s peace.

This is not a mere idealistic fancy. It is the natural position of this great republic among the nations of the earth.

It is its noblest vocation, and it will be a glorious day for the United States when the good sense and the self-respect of the American people see in this their “manifest destiny.”

It all rests upon peace. Is not this peace with honor? There has, of late, been much loose speech about “Americanism.” Is not this good Americanism?

It is surely today the Americanism of those who love their country most. And I fervently hope that it will be and ever remain the Americanism of our children and our children’s children.

 

You Might Be A Socialist If…

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Oh No Socialism

With the defeat of Bernie Sanders’ FDR-Style “Democratic Socialist” candidacy and the modest reforms he proposed complete, all the affluent  Silicon Valley sycophants, Latté Liberals, NeoLib Corporatists and others posing as Progressives or Liberals can now breathe a collective sigh of relief in their wine caves now.

We can all relax, confident in the knowledge the right-wing “Centrist” candidacy of Uncle Joe has safely been propped up by the DNC’s creative vote counting in all the Super Tuesday States and with the remaining primaries halted only halfway through.

And what does it matter if #DementiaJoe can’t tell his wife from his sister, occasionally gropes other men’s wives, gets really creepy around pre-pubescent girls and occasionally rapes naïve young female staffers, why “Joe Biden is Joe Biden,” as Nancy Pelosi cryptically reassures us.

“Nothing Will Change” is the one campaign promise we can count on with MBNAJoe, as he surrounds himself with only the fattest of the fat-cat lobbyists and banksters in his proposed dream team cabinet. Yes, rest assured that not one iota of genuine reform will ever see the light of day should Big Bank Biden be elected come November. Of course, no matter how crooked, how demented, how much of a sexual predator he is, who ya gonna vote for–the Insane Clown President? The Duopoly again presents us with two evils and asks us to choose the lesser. There IS a better way and they know it.

However, even should The Not Trump candidate not win in November, hey, that’s OK too. ‘Cause Chuck, “I’m Helpless to Stop Them,” Schumer and Nancy, “Let Them Eat Jeni’s,” Pelosi will continue to have cover for giving the Republicans everything they want, all the while railing against The Insane Clown’s boorish behavior and his retarded rants. Meanwhile, both vote for bloated giveaways to billionaires, approve trillions for foreign wars, and write blank checks for fatally flawed war machines.

It would be good at this juncture, however, for us to do a brief self-assessment from the safety of our collective wine-cave quarantine, just to make sure no genuine progressive ideas have somehow insinuated themselves into our psyche. Of course, identity politics and virtue signaling are fine, providing those vague affirmations of moral superiority never result in real change. 

With all this in mind, following is a checklist of Progressive-Socialist ideas that have somehow managed to seep into the Corporatist bubble that has been carefully constructed around the American public over the past half century.

Much of it was originally introduced by those vile class traitors, the Roosevelts, both Teddy and Franklin Delano. Thankfully, Neo-Liberals, working on behalf of their Billionaires benefactors, have managed to expunge most of these dread reformers’ legacy since the 1990’s, even as they pretended to be carrying forward their ideals.

Review this list, and if you don’t say nay to most of it, there is a very real danger that you might be a closet Socialist without even realizing it!

So here goes, YOU MIGHT BE A SOCIALIST IF:

1)   You believe that healthcare is a basic human right or, worse still, that Medicare For All is somehow a viable alternative to the For-Profit Healthcare Industry, whose main goal is not to provide affordable health insurance but to maximize profitability for shareholders. 

No, our venerable employer-based healthcare was good enough for grandpa, (who died at the age of 55) and so it damn well better be good for your grand-children, whether they have a corporate job or not. And recession, what recession? Never happen! Cough once if you agree, cough twice or more and collapse in a high fever if you disagree.

2)   You might be a Socialist if you believe all people should be paid a living wage. This is one of those insidious ideas, like Unions, that really should have been stamped out by now.

For years, our Good Friends in the GOP—the Grand Ole Plutocrats—tried to sneak in a “sub-minimum” wage as a way of getting people used to starving, after working their butts off in dangerous working conditions, or be glad to work overtime just to be able to pay the rent.

The way the Clinton and Dubya Administrations handled the demand for higher wages (ya know, that good ole law of supply & demand) was to CHEAT. Without changing any laws, both presidential NEO’s chose not to enforce immigration rules and opened the floodgates to illegal immigration.

In truth, immigration had already been boosted manifold by the United States’ own awful “free” trade deals, which hurt workers in poor countries as much as it hurt workers in the US. That, combined with our never-ending regime change coups and wars, had made life a living hell in Third World countries.

In the late 90’s and into the Oh-Oh! Decade, where a skilled Union tradesman might have gotten thirty dollars an hour, unskilled  illegal immigrants, desperate for work, were glad to do the same labor for thirty dollars a day, although not as well. And if the roof of a million-dollar home suddenly came off in high winds because a construction crew of unskilled illegals hadn’t nailed it properly to the beams, well, after all, you get what you pay for—and the developer made his profit, didn’t he?

Of course, once Dubya left office, suddenly illegal immigrants became demonized and refugees became convenient scape-goats for the, by now, obvious de-industrialization of America. Jobs that paid high wages became fewer and farther between, regime-change wars remain a boom industry (or I should say KA-BOOM!) and Globalist George Soros’ billions quietly subsidizes worldwide floods of desperate immigrants, enabling them to travel thousands of miles in search of work.

And what did Mr. NICE GUY Barack Obama do? Why, more awful trade deals and more regime change wars, even as he upped deportation’s for those who were fleeing devastation, death, disease and famine. Having turned a blind eye for years, the Republicans did a 180 and now immigrants became the villains, not multi-national corporations. How better to keep people in line than by setting one group of underpaid workers against another, even more destitute group?

Trump may gloat over putting children behind bars, but let’s not forget that MR. CLEAN, Barack Obama, was the one who first came up with that idea and despite the Insane Clown’s bluster and BS, Obama still reigns supreme as “Deporter in Chief” of Illegals.

Now Wall Street and Silicon Valley have had another great idea: why have employees at all? The growth of the “independent contractor” model, which Silicon Valley loves so much, frees Capitalists from any worries about being forced to pay $15 an hour, or $12 and hour or even the beloved good ol’ $7.25. Hell, in some cities, Uber drivers are lucky to net $3.00 a hour in real income! But that’s the American Way, ain’t it? And if you don’t think so, you MUST be a Socialist!

Unions, a living wage, affordable housing: all dread Socialist traps for the unwary! Begone, I say! Let them eat Jeni’s ice-cream!—providing you can get past the security guards of Nancy Pelosi’s gated community, or the electrified wire and the attack dogs.

3)   You might be a Socialist, for sure, if believe we should have Free College Education.

For those too young to remember the bad old days, this Dread Red idea had actually been a reality in the USA once upon a time, but fortunately, since the beloved advent of St. Ronald Reagan and Trickle Down Everything, state universities and colleges have been charging ever-increasing tuition, assuring the huddled masses remain in blissful ignorance—and low paying jobs. Then came the for-profit colleges that provided expensive educations in fields for which there was absolutely no demand. And, thanks in large part to Creepy Uncle Joe, the DINO who is currently being beatified as the patron saint of child molesters, the NEO’s made it impossible for anyone burdened by huge student debts to declare bankruptcy, even if you’d been scammed by these for-profit shyster schools.

Oh, did I forget to mention that free public college education was originally put into law in 1862 by a political party founded by Socialists? Today we call it the Republican Party. Like the Democrats, the Republicans have changed a bit since they were founded.

4)   In a similar vein, mainly the jugular, you might be a Socialist if think the US could and should forgive all student debt.

Since the Federal Government subsidizes almost all student loans, this is one of the more do-able Socialist programs. Unfortunately, the mantra used against this and other Socialist reforms of “how ya gonna pay for it” which had served as a bulwark against any and all humane proposals to make life in America better, was made inoperable by the Congress’ transfer this spring of TRILLIONS of dollars to the big banks and other big businesses with no strings attached. Not that Congress has ever worried about funding bloated defense budgets and regime change Oil Wars.

5)   You might be a Socialist if you believe the government should subsidize rail transportation, both locally and nationally.

In Europe, citizens and tourists can ride comfortably and cheaply from city to city by train, while mass transit within cities have long been a given of modern civilized society. Not only do all modern nations have national rail systems, fully funded by their governments, the United States of America actually paid to rebuild western Europe’s railroads after World War II, which was only fair, since we bombed the crap out of them during the war. Still, what we could afford to do for Europe was NEVER done for our own passenger rails, which have withered on the vine since the 1940’s. Thank GM and the Laissez Fairies for that.

The argument against this Socialistic subsidized rail system one commonly hears is that if passenger trains can’t pay their own way, the government has no business subsidizing them. Which leads us to:

6)   You might be a Socialist if you believe the government should provide a free transportation systems in the form of Federal, state and local highways, not to mention more pedestrian Socialist conveyances such as sidewalks.

Depending on where you live, you might know roads with names like Gallatin Pike, Hillsboro Pike, Murfreesboro Pike, and the like. Or, say, do you favor Tollhouse Cookies? All these are vestiges of a time when the main roads in the nation were for-profit ventures, organized by private stock companies to enrich their investors, and tollhouses were where the fares to travel those roads were collected.

Before that, the only way to get long distances was on The King’s Highway, which was actually owned by the king (or queen) and mainly reserved for sovereign lords to transport armies from one place to another to bash disloyal subjects. Only as a secondary benefit were ordinary folk allowed to travel those roads. So, no, the government building and maintaining roads, highways and interstate freeways was not always a given and are definitely socialistic in their very conception.

7)   You also might be a Socialist if you believe the government should provide fire and police protection, water and sewer services and assorted other public utilities most Americans now take for granted.

Recently Joe Rogan had a dufus of a politician on his show who, when confronted with the fact that such things are inherently Socialistic in nature, tried to counter that no, they were a “public service.” When Joe pointed out that, as a public service, they were paid for by the government, Congressman Dufus countered that no, they were a “public good.” Rogan kept pressing him on his obtuse illogic, but, as the saying goes, you can’t fix stupid.

In the early Republic there was no organized police or fire services in the cities and as far as drinking water went, people dug their own individual wells, often within feet of public latrines. Then they wondered why Typhus, Diphtheria, Yellow Fever, Smallpox and a host of other deadly diseases broke out so often! The glaring defects of Laissez Faire policies in running modern cities soon became apparent to many people.

In the late nineteenth century, “Sewer Socialists” and other reformers increasingly replaced corrupt graft-ridden city governments staffed by cronyism and not only instituted honest governments run with an apolitical civil service, but promoted government-funded (that is Socialistic) public water and sewer systems as a way to combat the deadly pandemics that beset the burgeoning American urban landscape.

There were volunteer fire-fighting companies in early American cities, to be sure, but these were often for-profit entities, being paid by insurance companies to only put out fires on homes that were insured, and as often as not the volunteer companies were more interested in fighting each other than fighting the fires . These volunteer groups, like the early street gangs, also served as political organizations. Boss Tweed got his start as Captain of one such volunteer fire-fighting company: Americus Engine Company Number 6 (“The Big Six”). The idea that professional full-time firemen, dedicated to fighting fires no matter who owned the property, may seem common sense today, but it took a number of devastating city fires in nineteenth century American for this Socialistic institution to take hold.

Likewise, in the early Republic, there were no organized police forces. In New England, town Constables existed, but they were unarmed and generally more concerned with public drunkenness or making sure citizens attended church than fighting crime. The true first police force wasn’t formed until 1838, with other cities following suit soon after. These early police forces were less than stellar institutions, with graft and corruption endemic, and in any case their main job was to protect the private property of the wealthy elite, not  to keep the peace or protect citizens from harm.

In the rural South, the situation was worse, since the county sheriff’s departments had their origins in the ante-bellum “slave patrols” whose main job was to keep slaves from running away or rebelling. Members of slave patrols were often far more violent and sadistic than the slave owners themselves, being drawn from poor whites, who as a class tended to be resentful of having to compete for employment with an unpaid Black workforce.

In post-war era, Progressives and Socialists, including leaders like Teddy Roosevelt, pushed to “clean up” the police and have them serve the general good, not just the needs of the affluent. 

8)   You might be a Socialist If you have ever recited the Pledge of Allegiance.

OK, this is a trick question. But ever since the NEO’s have brought back the McCarthy-Era smear tactic of  “guilt by association” so that anyone, left or right, can be tarred as a Russian “bot” who dares to point out the simple truth that the Russians didn’t “hack” the DNC emails in 2016, we can safely include anyone who recites a pledge written by a Socialist to be also tainted with Socialism. 

The Pledge of Allegiance in its present form was created by a Christian Socialist.   Francis Bellamy, was a devout Christian, but also a dedicated Socialist and also quite patriotic. He wanted to inculcate a greater sense of loyalty, especially among children and recent immigrants.

Bellamy had considered using the slogan of the French Revolution, Liberté, égalité, fraternité as a basis for the national pledge, but he thought that fraternity was “too remote of realization.” Likewise with equality; while he was for equality in principle, he was aware that, at that point, neither women nor blacks were treated equally in America, so that it would be a “dubious” word in a national pledge. Finally, Bellamy concluded, “Liberty and justice were surely basic, were undebatable, and were all that any one Nation could handle. If they were exercised for all. They involved the spirit of equality and fraternity.”

The Pledge was first published on Sept. 8, 1892 and quickly became universally accepted, although it would still be decades before it was made official. Although Bellamy was a Protestant minister as well as a dedicated Socialist, the pledge as he composed it did not include the phrase “under God.” That wasn’t added until the 1950’s during the “Red Scare” to weed out lefties, ‘cause, don’t ya know, all them Socialists is Godless.

in fact, a previous pledge had included God in it, but Bellamy, although a devout Christian, deliberately excluded it because he wanted the pledge to be as inclusive as possible. Well, that’s a “godless socialist” for you!

9)   You might be a Socialist if you have ever sung “America the Beautiful.”

Yup, here again, we have a beloved patriotic song—which many would prefer as the National Anthem to the racist and bellicose Star Spangled Banner—that was penned by a Socialist. In fact, the author was Christian Socialist and, many say, a Lesbian. We should also add that not only was the author a Socialist, but an ardent foe of American imperialism as well, plus she was an activist for immigrants, minorities, the poor, unions, women’s rights, and education among other causes. A dangerous foe of Capitalism if ever there was one!

The author of this almost-the-national-anthem paean to American patriotism was Katherine Lee Bates—no relation to actress Kathy Bates of “Misery” fame. Katherine was inspired to write a song that virtually every schoolchild knows and which is sung in many churches as a hymn, during a train trip to Colorado to teach a summer college class.

Bates, unusual for her day, was a highly educated professional woman, a Professor of English at Wellesley College, and her trip was something of a busman’s holiday. A number of the sights on her trip inspired her, including a visit to the Columbian Exposition in Chicago, the so-called “White City,” and traveling farther west she viewed the vast wheat fields of Kansas growing and blowing in the wind. Above all she was inspired viewing the “fruited plains” from high atop Pikes Peak, where the words of the poem began to flood into her mind. All that natural beauty is apparent in the opening lyrics of “America the Beautiful.” But a closer reading of the stanzas also reveals her distinctly Socialist and Progressive ideas about how our nation should be.

There are no “rockets red glare” in “America the Beautiful.” Rather, we hear of “amber waves of grain” and “the enameled plain,” as well as “thine alabaster cities gleam” (that White City she saw in Chicago). But Ms. Bates also asked God to bless the country with moral reform, end injustice and to avoid Imperialism: “God mend thine every flaw/Confirm thy soul in self-control/Thy liberty in law,” that those Alabaster cities should not only gleam, but “gleam/Undimmed by human tears!” Bates’ poem also calls out the greed of the Robber Barons Capitalists and asks that God shed His grace, “Till selfish gain no longer stain/The banner of the free!” Nor did the Professor shy from summoning the image of fraternity as well as equality: “And crown thy good with brotherhood/From sea to shining sea.”

For Christian Socialist Bates, America being great was not enough; observing that “countries such as England failed because, while they may have been ‘great’ they had not been “good.” She asserted that, “unless we are willing to crown our greatness with goodness, and our bounty with brotherhood, our beloved America may go the same way.” The Socialist’s poem was first published in the religious journal, The Congregationalist, in 1895, but it wasn’t married to its current melody until 1910. It’s been a patriotic staple ever since.

katharine-lee-bates meme

10)   Finally, you might be a Socialist if you believe either of these statements: 

  1. “The value of any commodity, therefore, to the person who possesses it, and who means not to use or consume it himself, but to exchange it for other commodities, is equal to the quantity of labor which it enables him to purchase or command. Labor, therefore, is the real measure of the exchangeable value of all commodities.” Or, that: “Labor alone, therefore, never varying in its own value, is alone the ultimate and real standard by which the value of all commodities can at all times and places be estimated and compared. It is their real price; money is their nominal price.” (Adam Smith, Wealth of Nations)
  2. “… value can, does and should increase in relation to the amount of labor which has been expended in the improvement of commodities” (St. Thomas Aquinas, Summa Theologiae)
  3. “all goods, considered economically, are only the product of labor and cost nothing except labor” (Karl Marx, Das Kapital)

organize-and-take-the-big-bag

 

If this list has issues or institutions you find congenial, DON’T PANIC! There is still time to purge yourself of the double-speak that infects your psyche. While I don’t advocate taking a Chloroquine enema or swallowing UV light-bulbs, you might consider a double shot of Grey Goose as antiseptic, coupled with a massive dose of Bloomberg News, followed by an eye-wash of fresh copies of Forbes and the Wall Street Journal. Then read back issues of WAPO or the NYT and let their “unnamed high placed sources” in the Intelligence Community (probably the reporter’s local bartender) reassure you that’s it’s all a plot by the Ruskies to rig the elections, or the economy, or the alt right/alt left media or whatever con they currently have running. Because the Military Industrial Complex NEVER lies, right?

And before you return to watching Rachel Maddow, or Loveable Ellen, or pseudo-Liberal Joy, don’t forget to go to your 25k freezer and consume several pints of Jeni’s artisanal ice cream to clear the palate of any lingering bad taste that these Socialist ideas may leave in your mouth.

 

 

Continue reading “You Might Be A Socialist If…”

Ambrose Bierce on Immigration

Ambrose-Bierce
Ambrose Bierce.  Cynic, observer of the human condition, disappointed idealist.

 

“Think what a better world it would be if we all-the whole world-had cookies and milk about three o’clock every afternoon and then lay down with our blankies for a nap. Or if all governments had as a basic policy to always put things back where they found them and to clean up their own mess.  And it is still true, no matter how old you are-when you go out into the world, it is best to hold hands and stick together.” Robert Fulghum

It seems like some issues in American politics never go away, they just change their context.  One such issue is the question of Immigration Policy.

This election year we hear the Republican candidate spewing racial stereotypes and absurd solutions to the problem of illegal immigration.  While members of his own party have condemned his statements, the truth is that for the last eight years their own stand on illegal immigrants has not been that much different than his.  Before the Great Recession of 2008, moreover, they positively welcomed “undocumented” immigrants because, they said, “we can’t get Americans to do hard work” and similar excuses for allowing cheap unskilled labor to undercut the American worker.

Conversely, the Democratic Party has embraced illegal immigrants–supposedly–even as President Obama has deported more illegal immigrants than his predecessors combined.  To be sure, some humane immigration policies have been temporarily put in place by the present POTUS, but this is like putting a topical anesthetic on the skin to cure an internal tumor.

The truth is, many American blue collar workers have seen their good paying jobs disappear over the years, only to be replaced by low wage, no benefit jobs.  Americans are not lazy, nor they unwilling to do hard work; they simply want to be paid a decent wage, something the multinational corporations who run our government and who are writing the international “Free” Trade deals that continue to ship whole factories overseas don’t want.  What most working class Americans don’t understand is that each wave of illegal immigrants flooding into our country are the byproducts of these phony trade deals, which are neither free, nor even much about trade.  NAFTA spurred a flood of illegal Mexican workers, displaced by the deal, who came north seeking work; CAFTA did the same thing to Central Americans, also desperate for work at any price.  Nothing spurs ethnic animosity like the perception that these new arrivals are here to take your already substandard paying job.

The moral philosopher and humorist, Robert Fulghum, once observed that “All I Really Need to Know, I learned in Kindergarten.”  Consider, if you will, the game of Musical Chairs; every time the music stops, everyone scrambles for a chair and someone ALWAYS LOSES. Then another chair is taken away and the music starts again;  again and again, the music stops and another chair is taken away, until only one person wins.  Do you all remember how many fights and arguments broke out over that game?  I do.  Our “rigged” economy is very much like that game of Musical Chairs.  So, yes, a lot of working class Americans are bigoted against immigrants, legal or illegal, because they blame them for the loss of their once prosperous and affluent lifestyle, without ever stopping to think who it is that is really manipulating the music and the chairs.

What has all this got to do with Ambrose Bierce?  Actually, precious little; but in the late nineteenth century many “real Americans” were also concerned about immigration and worried that the furriners were going to ruin our country. Having delved into Ambrose Gwinnett Bierce’s life and works for over six years as I worked on my current book, whenever I see a current political issue heatedly debated, it naturally reminds me of something Bierce said or did.  For you edification, therefore, I present Bierce’s take on immigration:

“America has issued a general invitation. Whether that may have been judicious or not is not for them to say who have accepted it. If we keep open house, we do not need, neither will we tolerate, an intimation from a guest that the company is not sufficiently select.” In other words, only Native Americans have a right to complain about more recent immigrants.”  AGB

Things have changed greatly from the day Bierce uttered his observation, but I would aver that his words still contain much wisdom.

 

Ambrose Bierce and the Period of Honorable Strife cover
Ambrose Bierce and the Period of Honorable Strife, due out in 2016 and available at all the better bookstores.

 

 

 

 

 

WHAT IS A POLITICAL CONVENTION FOR IF NOT TO CHOOSE A CANDIDATE?

Hillary Dumpty

The question of what is the purpose of a political convention may seem a trifle simplistic to modern media pundits, but as three generations of teachers—and Democrats—in my family were want to say, there are no stupid questions; just stupid answers.  So to all the politically savvy “experts” in the media and the Democratic political establishment nationwide, I recommend that you seriously consider—or reconsider—your own answer to this question, as well as my own answer below.

Thomas Nast dead elephant and Donkey over cliff
The GOP is a dying beast but can still do great harm; meanwhile, the Democratic Party establishment seems bound and determined to follow Hillary Clinton over the precipice.  Their convention in July is the place to correct their mistake.

For a number of years, the presidential convention has simply been one giant publicity event, a raucous but essentially meaningless cheerleading rally for the pre-anointed candidate of the respective political party.  We now have a prolonged and incredibly expensive process for selecting a presidential candidate, a process which is neither designed to choose the best possible person for the job, nor even the most electable candidate; and if the current Democratic Presidential nominating process is any guide, it is also not reflective of the wishes of the rank and file members of that political party, but the cynical will of a small circle of political bosses and their financial handlers.  

Traditionally, the purpose of a presidential political convention has been to select a candidate; how the candidate was chosen has varied over the years, but in essence the convention was the medium through which this was done.  Caucus, primary or smoke filled room have all been methods for selecting a suitable candidate; but the purpose has always been to choose the best person for the job, not to acquiesce to the political operative most acceptable to the billionaire class.

 

Hurricane image royalty free
The Democratic Party is traveling straight into the Perfect Storm with #CrookedHillary and can’t see it.  Only the nomination of Bernie Sanders can save the day.

Since the late 1970’s, the leadership of the Democratic Party—the party of Jefferson and Jackson, the party of the common man, the working man—has transformed it into a “me too” party, mimicking the Republican Party, perhaps a little less austere and still giving lip service to American workers but in fact undermining them at every turn, but has been gradually abandoning the values of FDR and the New Deal, the very programs and values that had made the Democratic Party the dominant political party for half a century; the programs and policies that had not only reformed a broken economic system, but ushered in an era of unprecedented prosperity for most Americans. 

Mind you, the wealthy also benefited from the economic programs of the New Deal, since we are a consumer economy and the more money American workers have, the more they spend. 

The reverse, however, is not true: giving the wealthy undeserved tax breaks and various “corporate welfare” schemes to not result in wealth trickling down to the American worker.  They never have and never will: Trickle Down economics, or whatever label you rebrand it with, is a proven failure and just a con to rob the middle class of their wealth and transfer it to the top 1%.  What is a billion dollars in political contributions when it will return you in 100 billion in tax breaks, government subsidies and assorted outsourcing and off-shoring schemes?

 

Stuffing-The-Ballot-Box
The only way Hillary has gotten the primary wins she has was by out and out cheating.

 

Bernie Sanders portrays himself as a “Democratic Socialist” and that is fine if he wishes to characterize his solid New Deal derived programs and policies in those terms.  Perhaps all these years the Democratic Party should have been more forthright to the American people about all those “socialistic” programs which created wealth and prosperity in this country.  Those programs, and a strong Union movement, created the record postwar prosperity we enjoyed between 1945 and into the 1970’s.  Perhaps then the Repugnican NeoCons would never have gotten to first base with their vile economic voodoo even in the Republican Party. 

 

Now both the GOP NeoCons and the DINO Democrat NeoLibs are attacking Social Security and Medicare as “entitlement programs” that need to be cut to balance the budget.  Even Ronald Reagan laid it out in simple terms that, while Social Security is technically in the Federal Budget, it DOES NOT contribute to the deficit; it is fully funded by the American people and their employers. YES IT IS AN ENTITLEMENT: YOU ARE ENTITLED TO THAT MONEY BECAUSE YOU PAID INTO IT YOUR ENTIRE WORKING LIFE, NOT THE BILLIONAIRES!  However, every American should be aware that over the years Social Security has been raided by the Republicans and some Dems as a giant slush fund to finance Billionaire tax cuts and otherwise unfunded wars (like Hillary’s Iraq War).  So, no Social Security is not “going broke” but the Billionaires and their Congressional toadies have been stealing from the till and need to put the money back,

Reagan Defending Social Security: reagan

Bernie Sanders Defends Social Security

bernie-sanderssmiling
Why is this man smiling? Guess.

However, to learn what the Repugnicans and the NeoLib Democrats have been doing with your Social Security money, listen to this radio show: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=kqxMCjZxXYM

 

Hillary Clinton is a DINO—a Democrat In Name Only—and she and her fillandering husband have worked very hard to transform the Democratic Party in the Republican Light Party.  Even many progressives in the party—and they are fewer every year—are largely afraid to cross the Clinton Crime Family or run too strongly against the NeoLiberal lies that the Clinton organization has made the new party dogma.

 

Delacroix Liberty at the Barricades
aux la barricades in July and take the Democratic Party back from the Oligarchs, America.

 

The Democratic Party needs to get back to its roots; nominate Bernie Sanders, move heaven and earth to get money out of politics and push through financial reforms and all the regulations that were put in place after the “free market” bankrupted America.  The only reason these safeguards were removed was because of sheer greed.  During World War II, FDR proposed a Second Bill of Rights, also known as the Economic Bill of Rights.  Call it Socialism if you wish—but bear in mind the Pilgrims and the Puritans were socialists too and they never heard of Karl Marx.  Karl & Abe Book

 

Needless to say, all the phony trade treaties like NAFTA, the TPP and the upcoming TTIP and some 45 or so other scams to benefit multi-national corporations all need to be repealed and renegotiated into FAIR TRADE plans, where corporations are excluded and American workers benefited.  Then, and only then, can this nation come back from the precipice and begin to return to a prosperous and just society.

 

Unless the Democratic Natonal Convention in July does its true duty and nominate Bernie Sanders as their standard bearer, our nation is headed for an even bigger financial collapse than we experienced in 2008.  Hillary Clinton is a large part of the problem—her and the Republican NeoCons—and it is hard to say which would be worse, her or Trunp.  If Hillary is nominated, there is a strong chance the Democratic Party will go down to defeat; if she wins, it is almost certain she will be impeached.  Whatever vestige of Democracy we have is on the verge of disappearance.  The Democratic Convention can reverse this dangerous situation, but not if it nominates the worst candidate they have had since the era of Boss Tweed.

Hillary vs Bernie on Panama Trade Agreement