Friday, April 28, 2017

Murder for Hire, American Style

I need not remind anyone reading this of the horrors that forever changed our world on 9/11. We lost 2,977 innocent souls that day, due to the cowardly acts of 19 (mostly Saudi Arabian) hijackers.
That day would be scarred into the nation's collective memory, and it changed the way we live, and travel, and think. We waged wars as a result of it that still rage on, and according to the CBO, we have spent an estimated $2.7 TRILLION in Iraq and Afghanistan.  

Remember this gem from the war, when we were sending airplanes filled with cash for contractors, and how we lost billions in cash that has still not been accounted for to this day? But we're not counting money today, we're counting bodies.
Together, in Iraq and Afghanistan, we had direct troop losses of 6,877 American soldiers. In Iraq, it is estimated that fatalities of soldiers and civilians topped 500,000 souls, and over 20,000 in Afghanistan, not to mention the tens of thousands of US soldiers who were injured, and the thousands sent home missing pieces.
Despite 17 of the 19 hijackers coming from Saudi Arabia, and despite initial funding being traced back to the same nation, we never did anything there at all. But never mind that either, right now, because we are talking about over half a million people having lost their lives, and having spent $2.7 trillion because some people killed 2,977 Americans. And NOBODY EVER gets away with killing 2,977 Americans. Not on our Toby Keith loving, flag waving watch... unless you're a capitalist, that is.  
Because remember those corporate raiders with that big table full of Uncle Sam's cash during the war effort? As it turns out, they and their company owning friends back home, managed to kill 4,836 in the workplace in 2015, and 4,821 the year before that, and between 4,551 and 5,840 American workers each and every year for the last decade. Prior to OSHA being passed in 1970, those numbers skyrocket to an estimated 14,000 workers every year.
So, what is the point, you ask? Excellent question. The point is that in a capitalist, corporate dominated America, when someone kills 2,977 Americans, we are more than happy to throw literal mountains of cash at it, and send untold thousands to their deaths as long as we can rake in ever greater profits as a result. But when it comes to the almost 5,000 workers who die needlessly in the workplace each and every year, nobody in corporate America gives a fuck.
Even now, President Chump is looking at every conceivable way he can deregulate, deregulate, deregulate. Maybe now is a good time to tell you that OSHA is one of those pesky regulatory agencies that cost corporations money to comply with, and his hardline, yes man, Acosta, just got appointed as head of the Department of Labor, of which OSHA is a part. Already notoriously underfunded and understaffed, keep a sharp eye out for how they gut this regulatory agency of manpower, funding, and what precious little teeth it still has to punish employers.  
Remember all of the resources we threw at those 9/11 deaths? To protect American workers, we issue fines of about $2,500 for "serious" penalties under OSHA, and have about 1 inspector for every 60,000 workers. And in Donald Trump and Toby Keith's America, that is 1 too many inspectors, and that's $2,500 that employer could have used to buy a weekend getaway package at one of Trump's luxurious golf resorts, so fuck the workers they kill.
Not to worry though, because those 13 American workers who die every day and are tossed out like yesterday's garbage by capitalists are not alone. Because remember those wars we fought to avenge our 2,977 Americans? Our young WORKING CLASS men and women who fought those wars, and who didn't get their share of those huge piles of money, have spent the last decade committing suicide at a rate of 22 per day.
You can almost set your watch by it. With over 7,000 US Veterans killing themselves each and every year, you can anticipate that another one just gave in to the effects of war almost every time your clock ticks off one hour. The suicide rate is cut in half when veterans receive their care at VA facilities, instead of the private sector, but that doesn't stop the capitalists, whose aim is to continue to underfund and starve the VA system into submission, all with the intent to privatize healthcare and pass off billions to the corporations who will be happily killing them because they lack the expertise to treat them all.
And why? Because those same greedy fucks who were figuring out how to load stacks of hundred dollar bills into their private jets in Iraq, are now looking at our working class veterans, and trying to figure out how they can profit off of them again before they die off, without actually stopping them from dying off, because just think of how much money we save when they continue to do so.  
While we always have trillions of extra dollars lying around gathering up dust when it comes to wars, we never quite seem to have enough to pay the people who fight them for us. And while we can always afford another tax break for corporations, we can never seem to find the cash to fully fund things like OSHA, or, well, anything that might accidentally benefit the masses. 
Do not be fooled by the false prophets of flag waving patriotism, brothers and sisters. And do not be fooled by every time you hear them say things like, "we should take care of our veterans before we take care of... __________." Because, neither the capitalists, nor congress, nor Chump, nor his flag waving, Toby Keith loving, all American followers, are doing a fucking thing to prioritize the welfare of the working class, or to avenge OUR deaths in combat or in labor. That is up to us.
Another war looms large on the horizon with North Korea, and elsewhere. DO NOT be distracted. The real war is being waged right here on our own soil every day. It is a war between the classes, and only one side is fighting it, and ALL of the casualties are ours.  

Make no mistake, when the next big, money laundering war does come, NONE of these people will be fighting it. It will be, same as it always is, our sons and daughters who pay the price. The top of another hour draws near. What have you done to stop it?

Some Christmas time working class fatalities:

12/19/16 Peter Kubek drowned when his front end loader toppled over into a canal. Killed by RKC Land Development of Loxahatchee, FL

12/19/16 Gilbert Villanueva died in a fall from scaffolding. Killed by DD&B Construction of San Antonio, TX

12/20/16 David Ambrose was crushed between a transfer cart and a doorway. Killed by Graham Packaging Company of Cartersville, GA.

12/20/16 Curtis Popkey was struck and crushed by a piece of equipment during loading. Killed by Central Florida Underground of Altamonte Springs, FL

12/21/16 Mario Morales was struck and killed by a pipe. Killed by Womble Co., Inc. of Houston, TX

12/21/16 James Loran was struck and killed by a tractor. Killed by Quality Implement Company or Newcastle, TX

12/21/16 Bobby Sellars was crushed between two port cars. Killed by Nucor-Yamato Steel, Inc. of Blytheville, AR

12/21/16 Jose Hernandez was killed in a fall from a roof. Killed by Jorge Perez Construction of Galveston, TX

12/21/16 Mike Kane was struck and killed by a crane basket. Killed by Jamison Construction, LLC of McEwen, TN

12/21/16 John Brooks was fatally crushed by pipes. Killed by Diamond Plastics Corporation of Macon, GA

12/22/16 Randy Skaluba was struck and killed by a train. Killed by Elite Express of Selah, WA

12/23/16 Angel Tubens was struck and killed by a box truck. Killed by Superior Vending, LLC of Brooklyn, NY

12/23/16 Delbert Lisk was killed in a fall from a roof. Killed by Roof-Over America, LLC of Sanford, FL

12/23/16 Mahamoudon Marega was killed in a fall from height while he was pouring a concrete floor. Killed by Highbury Concrete, Inc. of New York, NY

12/24/16 James Rogers was directing traffic when he was struck and killed by a vehicle. Killed by TDOT of Nashville, TN

12/24/16 Shannon Guinn was killed in a fall through a skylight. Killed by Barnard Roofing Company, Inc. of Johnson City, TN

No one bothers to try and list all of the names of the fallen veterans who succumb to the war through suicide. It is up to us to remember them.

Sunday, April 23, 2017

Rising Socialist Threat to the Dems

There are a lot of alarm bells sounding about the rise of socialism among younger Americans. None seem to be louder than those being rang by the Democratic establishment. With the bad taste in their mouths and still blaming Bernie and his supporters for having lost the election, the party elite is going about business as usual, hopeful that this fad will simply dissipate, and that Trump and Comp. will be enough to push voters back into the lesser of two evils politics that has dominated the landscape since time immemorial.
You would have to be living in a cave as a leftist not to have heard the arguments and debates, with so many wondering now, will the Socialists vote Democratic? The answer I find most likely is... it depends on the Democrats.
While I am certainly no millennial, I feel like my own experience is a pretty good example of what is happening, and why the incremental politics of the two party, corporate dominated system just isn't going to cut it any more. For me, it all started with this guy...
Then Presidential Candidate, US Senator John Kerry. When I first saw this on the news during his campaign, I said, "Oh fuck. We just lost the windsurfer vote now, too.
I was a 31 year old organizer for a construction union when John Kerry ran for President. I had only recently been plucked from a world of pouring concrete and digging ditches, where men suffered unimaginably to most, simply to earn their daily bread. It was my first election cycle as a union staffer, and being in Iowa, that meant the cycle started long before everyone else in the country had really put much thought into it.
As Iowans, you get a lot of attention from candidates. If you are any kind of union official, or party hack, they will come and mow your lawn during the caucuses. They practically live in the state, and it seemed pretty cool to be hanging out with senators and governors all of a sudden. In fact, when the union (LiUNA) I worked for at the time came out as an early endorser of House Leader, Dick Gephardt, I got to follow him around to all of his events. I thought it was awesome hearing about how his dad was a Teamster and a milk truck first.
Sixty days into it though, and I would rather stab my own ears out with campaign pin back buttons than hear the same speech again. I mean, nice guy, but he literally only had one fucking speech, and after twenty or thirty times, it started sounding cheap, and pandering, and less authentic all the time. I was actually almost secretly relieved when someone else got the nomination... until I got to spend some time around John Kerry.
Not that Kerry was a bad guy. He was fine as far as Democrats go, but he was so fucking dry. Like stale, white toast left on a window sill in Arizona on a hot windy day, dry. He was rich too. Really rich. I remember being asked about that time and again on jobsites where I went to talk to our members about him on their lunch breaks.
"What's the difference between one rich fuck, or the other rich fuck," one guy said to me. "Aren't we pretty much screwed either way?"
"No," I said, explaining the nuanced differences between one party that wanted to crush our unions, and strip America of what was left of the middle class, and the other party that would at least slow the hemorrhaging. Of course, rhetorically speaking they were worlds apart, but to a guy who stands out in the heat of the sun, and the cold of the Iowa winter, and works with his hands and his back for a living, I was forced to wonder, what is the fucking difference to him, really? I mean, we all knew that Bill Clinton and NAFTA had crashed our collective boat into the rocks. Is that the kind of thing we were working for again?
When Bush Jr. was elected, I got to see the differences, of course. His administration was able to use the attacks of 9/11 to undermine our collective strength as unions, attacking pension funds, weakening regulatory agencies, and allowing big business to wreak havoc upon workers through the further erosion of rights and protections, and starving the agencies meant to protect us. Not to mention, he was the dumbest guy I had ever seen in politics. I mean, he literally couldn't complete a sentence.
Governor Culver. Iowa Democrats answer to Bush's dumbness.
 And, on that dumb note, along came a Senator's son to run for Governor of Iowa. He seemed to us like a lump of clay that we could mold and shape to get real gains for working people. We worked our asses off for him and gave him a truckload of cash.
The same week he got elected to the governor's mansion, Culver came to one of LiUNA's larger staff meetings, took the stage, and began talking about how our relationship was going to get even better after he was elected to the US Senate. I mean, here is a guy that just won the governor's race and he is already talking about the senate instead of the job he was literally just elected to perform. What a piece of... work.
During Culver's administration, labor worked our asses off and won him the trifecta in Iowa. We had a Democratic Senate, House, and the Governor who Labor had elected. It was the perfect storm. And in the end, we got absolutely NOTHING to show for it. That's right. We won nothing, nada, zero, zilch. In fact, the only real piece of labor legislation we managed to squeeze through the weasels in the statehouse, this prick vetoed, because he had a hard-on for the guy over at AFSCME.
It was then that the LiUNA national leadership (who fucking loved Culver because for $100k per cycle, he would go golfing with them any time they came to Iowa), does exactly what national leadership always does. They said, "we need to get a bigger majority in the house!"
There it is. Right there. It's where labor and the party fails every single fucking time to "get it." In the field, we had been working the rank and file over like crazy to get them out door knocking and phone banking and opening their wallets to these pricks. We got two out of three and said, we just need one more piece of the puzzle and then Iowa workers will win big. We filled in that piece, won the trifecta, got nothing out of it, and then had to go back, look those same members in the eyes, and say, "we need a bigger majority in the statehouse and THEN Iowa workers will win big!" We as staff didn't even believe it by then, and neither did they.
Most Labor Union Leadership to every buffoon with a 'D' behind his name.
I have said it before. Organized Labor, and the two parties, are the ONLY business model in the world that will invest $10 million dollars in something, get absolutely nothing out of it, and then think it wise to double down on that investment the next cycle. I have literally sat in meetings and listened to national presidents of building and trade unions say, "last cycle we gave $8 million dollars to candidates. Next cycle, we are going to try and double that to $16 million so we can really make a difference and be players!" But when the fuck does it all end, and when do workers start winning in this game?
In 2006, I drove to Illinois to sign a petition started by Senator Dick Durbin, to get a young Senator to run for President. I had the good fortune of having met this guy, and after bums like Bush and Culver, I wanted somebody I knew was smart and had the interest of working people in his heart. I was the first Democratic County chair in Iowa then to endorse Senator Barack Obama for President. I was also the first union official to do so. When he announced on the steps of the old capitol in Springfield, Illinois, I was there freezing my ass off with my family. When his staffers came to Iowa to setup shop, I was the first one to go and meet them even before they had an office. I was a believer.
As far as Democrats go, I still believe he was among the best. As far as the two party political system goes, I still doubt that anyone could have done much more with Congress. But when it came right down to it, and when working people's rights were being threatened in Wisconsin, he never showed up. He never "laced up his sneakers and walked the picket lines" like he had promised me to my face and had promised many others during his campaign. He never said much of anything about it at all. And that, for me, was the last straw.
With the Iowa trifecta, and Obama disappointments fresh, and the members of the local I was then president of seeing raises disappear into rising healthcare and pension costs, and their living standards continuing to decline, I simply couldn't stand in front of them, look them in the eyes, and tell them again that anyone with a 'D' in front of their name is going to really do much of anything for them beyond NOT attacking them like a Republican would. But this just isn't enough for me any more. It wasn't enough for the men and women of my local then, and it shouldn't be enough for anyone struggling to survive and make ends meet in America's working class any more. We all deserve something better.
That year, I resigned my post as the County Democratic Chair. That same year, I took tens of thousands of PAC dollars under my control that would have gone to Iowa Democrats, and gave every last penny of it to local charities instead. It was the best PAC money I ever fucking spent, too, and accomplished more for actual working families than it ever could have if I had merely handed it off to every lump with a 'D' behind their name who showed up with a hand out.  
Now, don't get me wrong. I am still a registered Democrat. I still work to get candidates elected. I still give a little money to union PAC funds too. But if I am ever going to be expected to go all in again for Democrats, or anyone else for that matter, it will be on my terms, and not the terms established by the Democratic establishment.
My terms are simple really. Candidates need to recognize that labor (union or otherwise) and corporations have absolutely nothing in common. If a candidate accepts money from corporations, then he or she hadn't ought to expect my support, financial or otherwise. If a candidate accepts PAC moneys or party moneys that include bundled corporate moneys, then he or she hadn't ought to expect my support. Then, and only then, can we begin to have a reasonable expectation that a candidate might actually be working for we, the people again.
So, in answer to the question plaguing the left at the moment, of will Joe Socialist support Democrats in coming elections, while I can't speak for all of them, I can tell you with absolute certainty that what I will do, or not do when it comes to future elections will depend entirely upon the actions, or lack thereof, of the party itself. And right now, I'm not seeing anything that might draw me back into the fray and have me pushing all of my chips into the middle of the table to once again support a  lesser of two evils candidate.
The establishment has always held it over our heads that, while they might suck, imagine how much worse it would be if the other side won? It worked for a long time, too. But the worst case scenario is here and now with Republican dominated states and total GOP control of Washington. The slow downward spiral of the working class has finally plummeted into a deep abyss, and the incremental politics of a two party, corporate dominated system, is not going to bring us back, or undo the damage in any of our lifetimes.
So, what am I going to do on election day? Maybe I'll be busy voting, or doing GOTV work for certain Democrats. Or maybe I'll just be protesting somewhere instead. The answer to what happens to all of the Bernie Democratic Socialists is not a choice for any of us to make. It is entirely up the Democratic Party at this point. But I can promise you this much: the status quo isn't fucking cutting it any more, and if you think it still might hold water, then figure on another great big surprise come November of 2018.
Fiat Justicia Ruat Caelum  


Monday, April 17, 2017

Absolute Must Read for Radicals

Every hundred books I read, or so, I discover one to be so important and influential that I add it to my "legacy" collection. These are books that I will ultimately buy dozens of copies of to give to fellow activists, radicals and union leaders, as well as rereading it myself multiple times. Nelson A. Denis' War Against All Puerto Ricans, is now among that small handful of books.
You may be wondering how a book compiling events from decades ago in Puerto Rico is relevant today. It is relevant, because author Nelson A. Denis, in War Against All Puerto Ricans, has painstakingly researched and reported on events that represent a microcosm of every movement from our shared history that has ever sought to alter the status quo and threaten the status of unrestrained capitalism and the American government that exists, first and foremost, to protect profits over people.  

Pedro Albizu Campos,  leader of the Nationalist Party of Puerto Rico,
who devoted his entire life to the independence of his country
While Denis has the rare ability to compile historical evidence and facts into a compelling tale about the Puerto Rican Nationalists and their struggle for independence, the modern significance of this book for all of us is really about opposition research. It is, again, a condensed microcosm of how the United States Government and the capitalists it represents, have historically responded to every threat in the form of people's movements, trade unionism, and any activism that seeks to put the interests of people or the environment ahead of capital and the profit motive.
There have been hundreds of times when rights activists in this country were imprisoned, beaten, shot, harassed, followed, surveilled, hunted, and murdered. The story of the Puerto Rican people and the Nationalist fight for independence has all of this and more, in a condensed time-frame, and in a place where the American press showed little interest in reporting on the facts as they occurred. In short, it is THE manual to illustrate how far the 1% will go to achieve greater profits.
Again, this book is not merely another history book. It is a guide for modern activists, and modern radicals, providing real opposition research, and an understanding of exactly what to expect from capitalists, the government, local police, and every entity we, the people, are taught to believe in.
I urge every LGBT activist, every trade unionist, every civil rights activist, and every environmental warrior, to buy and read this book. Our shared interests are in our singular common enemies.
Link to buy this book on Amazon:
Author's Book Website: