Friday, February 26, 2016

Stop the global crackdown on academic freedom! Act now!

   Gilbert Achcar sent me the following important note, to which I immediately added my signature and urge you to do so, also.

Subject: Stop the global crackdown on academic freedom! Act now!
Dear Friends,

The statement below is a call for action, which will be published in various outlets.
Please consider signing it (link at bottom) and circulating it to your contacts.
We would also be grateful if you translated it for circulation in other languages.
We also suggest that you organise protest meetings in your institutions.

Best wishes

Stop the global crackdown on academic freedom! Act now!
The undersigned are university teachers concerned over recent events that point to a serious reversal of gains in democracy and academic freedom achieved over the last decades in many countries.
Three cases have been most prominent in that regard since the beginning of 2016: the crackdown by Turkish authorities on the more than 1200 signatories in Turkey of the petition by “Academics for Peace” criticizing the anti-Kurdish war drive launched by the Turkish government; the crackdown by Indian authorities on students involved in a non-violent campus protest against the death penalty at Jawaharlal Nehru University and Hyderabad University, and an attempt to shoot and kill a professor by groups affiliated to the ruling party; and the savage torture and assassination in Cairo of Italian research student Giulio Regeni.
When they are not tacitly approving it, governments of countries where academic freedoms are better respected and which include most global powers have turned a blind eye and a deaf ear to calls on them to protest against this repression. The worst attitude has been displayed in Italy where the government kept stressing the importance of its economic ties with Egypt while a gutter press accused Giulio Regeni’s supervisors of letting him gather dangerous information, thus resorting to an old worn-out paranoid argument of all dictatorships and tacitly making the student himself responsible for his own atrocious death.
Academic freedoms are a key indicator of the overall status of political freedom and democracy. The acceleration of privatisation across the public higher education system is undermining these freedoms on a global scale. The events described above point to a much deeper and sweeping onslaught on democratic freedoms, which must be halted immediately lest it leads to increasingly tragic events and a most nefarious consolidation and extension of the authoritarian turn in global politics.
We call on the global community of teachers and students to join us in protesting against this most dangerous trend by signing, translating and circulating this statement, and organizing protest meetings in all universities.

Initial signatories:
Dr. Maha Abdelrahman, University of Cambridge, UK
Prof. Gilbert Achcar, SOAS, University of London, UK
Dr. Anne Alexander, University of Cambridge, UK
Dr. Subir Sinha, SOAS, University of London, UK
Dr. Andrea Teti, University of Abderdeen, UK
Dr. Veli Yadirgi, SOAS, University of London, UK
To sign, fill out the form on the link below:

Thursday, February 25, 2016

A big turnout for the Right2Rest, voted down 6 to 5 (property against democracy)

Tuesday, February 23, 2016

Come support the Right to Rest Act - stop the "illegality" of being homeless - tomorrow at the Colorado State Capitol

      Each individual has a right not to be murdered and a right to a place to rest or sleep. These are core basic rights.   But the Denver City Council and Mayor Hancock, as well as much of Colorado, at the behest of corrupt business people, arrests or rousts people from being on the streets  or even from sleeping in cars in parking lots, public or private (Walmart).  Colorado also spends about a 20th of what Seattle, a smaller city, spends to take care of people who have fallen off the edge (lose a job or have only a minimum wage job, and there is no longer affordable housing; you - and often your children - are out on the street):

Colorado Right to Rest Act to be Heard in Local Government Committee Wednesday February 24th - Come! 

Inline image 1

Wednesday February 24th
Rally 12:30pm in front of Colorado State Capitol (Colfax and Lincoln)
Hearing 1:30pm in State Capitol Building (room to be determined) 

Remind our legislators all people need the right to rest! 

Send a letter and call of support to the Local Government Committee for HB 1191 TODAY!! – This committee will vote on whether we should have the Right to Rest on Wednesday 2/24 at 1:30pm. They need to know the people support the Right to Rest! Ask them to vote yes on HB 1191!
See talking points and more info here 

Here are the Committee Representatives’ names, districts, emails, and phone numbers:

Rhonda Fields, Chair – dist 42 –

Steve Lebsock, Vice-Chair – dist 34 –

Jani Arndt – dist 53 –

Jessie Danielson – dist 24 –

Gordon Klingenschmitt – dist 15 –

Clarice Navarro – dist 15 –

Kim Ransom – dist 44 –

Paul Rosenthal – dist 9 – paulrosenthal5280@gmail.com303-866-2910

Lori Saine – dist 63 –

Jonathan Singer – dist 11 –

Dan Thurlow – dist 55 – danthurlow55@gmail.com303-866-3068

Inline image 2


Friday, February 19, 2016


         for Sarika Singh

         In a large lecture hall in Denver, she spoke of the lifelong painting of tangkhas - a living with the sacred.  It lifts you, painter or observer, out of dailiness, accepts mortality.


      An Indian art, mother of Asia, no longer in India.

      Caves bear witness.


      One of the six Indians present said: the caste system is gone.  We have places reserved, in each university, for shudras.  Like America.

      How many of you are of shudra ancestry, she asked?

      No one raised her hand

      How many brahmans?



If you marry a Buddhist

and you are an outcaste

Brahmans burn

are you accepted

incense if you are present

as an equal

are you a shudra

DJ Ambedkar


if you are fighting

avoid your presence

clean up their shit

even a wind’s breath

for opportunity

they did not

no matter how smart

no matter how hardworking

no matter how beautiful

(they might rape you)

you must stand aside

burn incense


open sewer

they will use force

as in Mississippi

drove Buddhists out

as if there were a hope

of India long centuries


said W.E.B. Dubois

a brahman

burning a big

pile of incense

a bonpyre

that even their ashes

in the Ganga

could be clean

Wednesday, February 17, 2016

A further note on Hillary's Gulf War/anti-Russia/3:AM reflex...

     Tracy Mott sent my post to Mark Johnson whom he describes below - an old friend of Hillry's though perhaps not so very close - and is very active for single payer health coverage.  Mark sent the lively account just below that description - one which again warns that  Hillary is dangerous in world affairs and the assumption that she is a smart and "overqualified commander in chief"  misses her record and disposition entirely.  That she is like the Republicans in global policy is true; that she is worse even than Trump is doubtful (though his remarks on Iraq last Saturday were far more straightforward than anything she has said).


I sent your debate post to Mark Johnson, a friend of mine from grad school, who also was good friends with Hillary in grade school and high school.  They also kept in touch in college, as Mark was at MIT and Hillary at Wellesley.  Mark, however, is willing to give up the chance for him and his wife to spend a night in the Lincoln Bedroom as Hillary's guest in order to support Bernie, and below he tells why. 



'Re: [Democratic-indv] A debate with Jeanette Baust over the movement for Bernie - see here

Rather weak defense of Hillary for sure.  But, the anti-Hillary side missed out on what i think are even bigger negatives. she has unlike Bernie never criticized any aggression by the US, except in 2007 when she said her vote in 2002 was a "mistake."  Five years to figure that out and only after Obama was challenging her and making her look like the war-monger she is.   Her pro-war wishes include a desire to further encircle Russia.  Even though Russia has shown restraint when the democratically elected government of Ukraine was overthrown.[this is US/NATO pushing foolishly up against Russia, though Russia in return ate part of the Ukraine...]  But, only a fool would think that Russia would not use nuclear weapons if it thought its survival was at stake.  So, what is the point of such belligerence?  Don't such dangerous idiots see that WW III could be just around the corner?  it is no wonder that many thoughtful observers are comparing 2016 to 1914.  Personally I would rather have Trump as President than the ex-GW girl because I think she is a bit crazy when it comes to foreign policy.  Of course, tens of millions of dollars from the Gulf kingdoms may be warping her views but I think not.  I think GW never left the GW Girl; it's her mind's go-to resting place.  
    On domestic policy, there is no mention of single payer throughout the email you sent.  Single payer is supported over 3-2 voters according to a recent poll.  Among Democrats it is supporter by over 4 to 1.  But, Hillary takes on the cloak of Reagan and says "it will raise taxes."  And, let us not forget Bernie's filibuster against the pro-1% Bush tax cut extension (another obama WTF that i am sure Hillary and bill must greatly appreciate).  She readily takes the pro-austerity neo-lib position while Bernie talks about being a Keynesian.  
 The Hillary "accomplishments" listed are very small, and her role not that big anyway, compared to the Hillary disasters such as support for the overthrow of the elected government in Honduras or the blocking of rapprochement with anti-IS countries in Western Asia or the overthrow of Gaddafi.  She is very scary to me and I imagine there are a lot of Republicans who will gladly support her war efforts but wonder how many Democrats would vote against them if proposed by a Democrat, if they were even given the chance to vote.  

Yes, a Republican would bad but why vote for a very scary one in the Democratic primary or even in November when there are alternatives?  
Kind regards, Mark Johnson Single Payer, Healthcare for need not greed:  promotes health, saves lives, reduces costs"


     Under challenge from Bernie, Hillary is getting better and better on naming racism.  But as this letter suggests, Bernie is a Keynsian; the real public works program he advocates would give a chance to millions, with an emphasis on young, African-Americans,  to be usefully employed...

     Mark misguidedly ignores the Trump's grotesque racism toward Syrians and Mexicans, among many others; Hillary, though dangerous, would be better than any of the Republicans.

     But Bernie would be positively good.

Tuesday, February 16, 2016

My tongue is ready to fall off - a poem by Kaysang

     The Tibetans are a poetic community - Tsering Tsundue being one striking example but there are many - but the voices of women are just coming to the fore.  Here is a striking poem by Kaysang which challenges patriarchy - also a fact - even in this oppressed community:

my tongue is ready to 
fall off — 
so often have i had to 
bite it.
not these words,
not that tone,
not so loud,
not too angry.
my face must be
but not too much 
make up,
i must not stand out.
my body is a battleground:
puts pants upon legs after work, 
shackles them in
5 days a week.
not allowed.
absolutely scandalous! 
pants must not be 
too tight.
come to dharamshala
and lose wars.
swallow your words,
always smile,
wear your 'good girl' badge.


    Kaysang also points to the lack of free discussion in Dharmsala, something fostered by the Dalai Lama's attempt to create a parliamentary government, due to the anti-democratic attitudes of its leadership.  Tibetans need a strong debate about rangtzen (independence) for exactly the reason Kaysang says.  Even though what His Holiness suggests would be wiser for the Chinese as a world power, interested in green energy and not in conquest (the oppression of Tibet and ostracism of the Dalai Lama makes China much more widely hated and feared than it would be otherwise), only the stirrings for below for independence and the return of the Dalai Lama, promoted by action internationally (internally in Tibet, in Dharamsala, all over India and the world) may bring the Chinese leaders to a more humane position, or be recognized in the likely event of a Chinese spring...


"published on the site of the Tibetan Feminist Collective:


By Kaysang
Our exile system of government claims to be a democracy, but recent events have proven it to be quite the opposite. Yes, His Holiness the Dalai Lama has brought about a fundamental change in the system of government, transitioning from a theocracy to a parliamentary theocracy, to one that he hoped, after the devolvement of his political power, would become a truly democratic one. 
The truth is that we have failed to make his vision of a democratic and pluralistic exile community a living reality. We have been holding elections for our chithues for decades and this is the third katri/sikyong election to take place. There have been a great many changes and I think public participation in the elections this time around has been much higher than previously seen, probably due to social media and the easy access to information it gives people seeking and disseminating it. To the untrained eye, it would appear that the Tibetan political environment has started to resemble more the democracy that we aspire to.  As a participant in our so-called ‘democracy’ and someone who was brought up in this exile system being taught that we were ‘awarded’ democracy, that our society was really a democratic one, I couldn’t help but have certain expectations and believe certain things about our “mangtsoe chitsok”.  My faith in the system was eventually shattered as my exposure developed and I began to acquire the ability to think critically about these issues (one that our education system neither teaches nor encourages).
Due to the ongoing conflicts and controversies within the exile polity, I have been forced to question whether our people truly understand the meaning of democracy. Do we recognize democracy as merely the right to vote for a leader of our choice? Will we embrace a multi-party democracy and accept vocal opposition to the majority? Does it mean just the rule of the majority as we are so used to thinking, as evidenced by the tagline so common in our own personal interactions within a group of friends, where we put things to a vote when making mundane decisions, like which restaurant to go to for dinner: ‘mangtso rey, mangwa doepa ghari yoepa jheya rey’ (it is democracy, we should do what the majority wishes to)? Do we recognize the importance of the protection of minorities of all kinds, be it religious, racial or political? Do we agree that a democracy should guarantee its people a safe space to exercise the right to have extremely conflicting views from each other? Will the Tibetan elite political establishment accept pro-Rangzen leaders and advocates within the halls of government?
When the current Sikyong took office in August 2011, I remember the kind of excitement and hope that he generated, especially among the youth, and despite my personal misgivings about him, I had to admit that the election of a secular Sikyong seemed to be quite a positive step towards democracy. 
The recent string of disasters engineered by the administration proves to us that we are still deeply mired in exclusionary, non-democratic politics. And yet Sangay has the galls to encourage Tibetans and Tibetan support groups to highlight Tibetan democracy on the world stage, holding it up almost as a near-perfect epitome of a success, even juxtaposing our system against that of Egypt under Mubarak (during the opening address of the Asia Regional Meeting of International Tibet Network this year). To use his own example, “The Egyptians say that they have the freedom to vote but Mubarak has the freedom to count as he wishes.” There is but a tiny difference between our systems then. And when confronted about the absurdity of his statements in the face of the recent elections and the administration’s knack for making extremely inflammatory statements against those who do not comply with everything that CTA deems appropriate (the most recent being Kashag’s 10th December statement against “crazy” talk by people criticizing His Holiness), Sangay told us a couple of children’s stories to fill up 3 minutes with absolute non-answers and then later stopped on his way out to ask me if I was not satisfied with his answer.
If we put it to a poll, probably a hundred percent of the exile population would say that they believe everyone should have the right to the freedom of speech, belief and expression as long as your words, beliefs and actions do not harm others. That is what we grew up learning. What we have actually seen in practice in our society, however, goes against that very belief. Differences in thought and conflict in opinion are only natural in any society and, in a democracy, a characteristic that makes up for the essence of it; but we have managed so successfully to foster homogeneity of thought, language, customs, religion and politics in our community that we are now walking dangerously close to the edge of a cliff called intolerance beyond which lies only “tyranny of the majority” (Tocqueville). The uniform narrative of Tibet and the Tibetan identity has been so successfully fed to and adopted by the Tibetan public and the world at large that any diversion from that common narrative is seen as not being Tibetan at all.
An increasingly huge part of this narrative is being played now by conformation with the policy of seeking genuine autonomy under China, a Middle Way proposed by His Holiness and spun in such a way by politicians that rather than choosing to follow a political ideology that agreed with their own conscience and one that they could decide upon critically by themselves, it became a choice about following our tsawe lama no matter what. This can be evidenced most clearly by the fact that a “unanimous resolution” was adopted by the Members of Parliament on 18th September, 1997:
“An Excerpt from the Official Resolution No. 12/4/97/46 Passed by the Assembly of Tibetan People’s Deputies:
Be it unanimously Resolved that-
  1.         …suggestions were solicited from all the Tibetan people, within and without Tibet, on the procedure and options of the referendum from 2 September 1995 to 31 July 1997. Based on the overwhelming majority of the suggestions received, the Assembly of Tibetan People’s Deputies implores His Holiness the Dalai Lama to withdraw his call for a referendum, and use his wisdom to decide from time to time the future cause of Tibet and the means to achieve that;”
There was no referendum at all. The people chose to give up their political agency, choosing instead to let their spiritual belief in our leader decide the political future of Tibet.  
One cannot help but raise a few questions. Whose “suggestions were solicited”? How far-reaching was the poll within Tibet, since the Tibetan population outside Tibet is believed to be less than 5% of the total? How many people exactly is the “overwhelming majority”? What about those who did not wish to give up Rangzen personally? This happened around 20 years ago. What would the “overwhelming majority” say now? How many youth were consulted at the time? What about the aspirations of all the people like me who were too young at the time to understand politics but have grown up now and are starting to take more responsibility in the movement? What does the “overwhelming majority” inside Tibet feel now, especially after the events following 2008 and the huge changes in political climate that it brought about in their hearts? These are questions that the people in positions of authority in the CTA must answer.
These questions become even more important in the face of blatant suppression of plurality of politics, religion and thought in our community.
Rangzen advocates have been persecuted socially for years. An Indian friend of mine had an Amala she didn’t even know yell at her to stop putting her nose in our businessbecause she had allegedly seen my friend at events organized by pro-Rangzen groups. I myself have personally had people on numerous occasions remark derisively, ‘So you’re saying that you’re going to get back our independence’ (‘Tah kherang rangzen lenki yin lapki yoe repa’) just because I had volunteered for Students for a Free Tibet (SFT)throughout high school and college.  These might be just the smallest kinds of examples I can give, but these things have the power to have a profound effect on one when repeated for days on end for years and years. The scariest thing to realize though is that these are the effects of conscious, concentrated efforts by politicians who abuse His Holiness’s name and actually strive to either change public opinion by stressing upon the ‘wishes of His Holiness’ over and over again during official functions and in their speeches, or to change the pro-Rangzen organizations in exile from the inside out. But would His Holiness really wish his name to be used as the biggest weapon in the oppression of those with different political and religious views?
Personally, I do not subscribe to either. I believe that the policy of Umay-lam makes sense when you think of pragmatism in maintaining diplomatic relationships, but that Rangzen organizations are instrumental in keeping the Tibetan movement alive, in rejecting Beijing’s legitimacy and hopefully gaining us leverage one day soon through successful campaigns to actually bring the Chinese to the table for negotiations. This actually helps the official policy of the Tibetan government, who themselves have failed to devise practical plans both on how to gain a little bit of an upper hand on the processes of dialogue and on how to attract the large population of Tibetan youth to this core official policy. Going around settlements and boarding schools just to indoctrinate students is not going to work. The call for Rangzen is deemed to be radical and foolish and treated as going against the principles of nonviolence that the Tibetan movement is known for. The irony lies in the fact that activists working for Rangzen have always been the ones who have actively looked for solutions to our problems; they’re the ones who have actually studied nonviolent direct action, read countless books and applied it practically by setting up an institute, training the youth in nonviolent resistance (through programs like the Lhakar Academy, in which I took part, where no one tries to brainwash people – in fact, they don’t even talk about ideology), enabling people to use this training in organizing campaigns against the Chinese government and empowering Tibetans with knowledge on digital security. Many in higher positions of power in the CTA are merely using nonviolence to not do anything concrete when it comes to pushing the movement forward and keeping it from dying. For them, nonviolence seems to be synonymous with non-action. We are political refugees, a people whose country is being strangled to death by China. It is not just enough that CTA is taking care of those in exile; they also need to look at ways to first enable themselves to negotiate politically and actively involve the youth.
Most importantly, I see the enormous potential for growth that our movement has if we could – impossible though it seems right now – remember that the less than 5% population fighting over ideology does not really serve our ultimate goal: to relieve the suffering of the Tibetans inside Tibet who are living a life that we cannot even begin to imagine. I think it would bring amazing results if the CTA could put aside their fear of antagonizing the Chinese and find a way to work with pro-Rangzen organizations on bigger collaborative campaigns. 
It is entirely possible that my views are indicative of my tendency to look at the positive in everything in life (some might even call it naïveté). After all, I am no expert in politics. But one thing I can be sure of is that our society is being polarized to such an extent by self-serving politicians and self-appointed protectors of the common good of the Tibetan people in the name of ‘respecting the Dalai Lama’s wishes’ and ‘unity’ that I am scared to speak up even for more tolerance in our community lest I be labeled a radical as well, which has actually already happened (I have been called Lukar Jam’s ‘aptuk’ several times, ‘jokingly’). The proponents of Umay-lam seem to be missing the whole point of the concept of the Middle Way on which it was based and Rangzen advocates are convinced that their way is the only way. Yet both sides seem to be forgetting that this is the kind of ideological debate that is so complicated and multi-layered that one or the other would never triumph over the other in the foreseeable future.

*Note: The views expressed in the article are solely those of the author’s and do not represent those of her employer or TFC.

Sunday, February 14, 2016

A debate with Jeanette Baust over the movement for Bernie

      This was a post on Brother Jeff’s facebook page by my friend and fellow activist Jeanette Baust (extended by another friend, Carroll Watkins Ali).  I offer her account of Hillary/discounting of Bernie in full, and offer some strongly contrary thoughts.  There is a great movement now unfolding for Bernie; I and my wife were at a stunning rally of at least 20,000 people for Bernie – electrified by his honesty and straightforwardness about many burning issues – yesterday at the Denver Convention Center.  Despite the corporate media and the corporate Democratic apparatus, this movement will not be stopped.

“Jeannette Baust:

‪I hear the Bernie hype. I hear the bashing on Hillary. I believe in many of Bernie's ideas, but think he'd make a better organizer and cheerleader than commander in chief and executive leader. Why?

‪1) He has zero foreign policy, other than don't nation build or do war? Huh?

‪2) He's not put forward a real economic fiscal policy or told us who his advisors will be [great strategy if you don't want to be vetted for your actual plan]. (I think he has 8 pages on collapsing our insurance companies & creating Medicare for all, and 4 pages on reforming banking. Seriously?

‪3) Bernie has worked for 30 years in the US Senate, & he is hardly an outsider, though he paints Hillary as "the inside.". That said, all but a couple of Bernie's long term Congressional colleagues, who know him and his work for decades, have endorsed Hillary Clinton, including some of the most progressive like Sherrod Brown and Al Franken.
‪Also Elizabeth Warren and 12 other women Senators in a letter asked Hillary Clinton to run for President & Warren refused to run against her. (In respect of her friend Bernie, she hasn't formally endorsed either.)

‪4) Hillary has a list of accomplishments that Bernie cannot match including: a) getting the CHIP program passed bringing money for food to millions of children, b) significant education reform for poor schools in Arkansas when nobody knew her and no one was watching, c) changed the culture and prioritized the concerns about women worldwide in every US embassy. I have heard the reports of some who have said, "If not for Hillary Clinton, I'd be dead or in prison," d) worked her butt off in the 90s to create what essentially morphed into the Affordable Care Act, which added in the past 5 years 19 million more people to our health care rolls, many of those people Black, Brown, poor, single women with kids ... e) Worked on pro-choice, equal pay for equal work, affordable birth control, health and safety for women & children not just recently, but ever since she graduated from college
‪f) Has changed over time when information and sensibilities changed. I don't care if she once didn't support gay marriage. I didn't either, and I'm gay. I did care that she supported the first attempts to overturn military discrimination, job discrimination, & ultimately did support gay partnerships and marriage. It's no secret that the Human Rights Campaign for lgbtq people has endorsed her and that Planned Parenthood has (their first endorsement in 100 years) g) Along with many in Congress, including some from the Congressional Black Caucus, which just endorsed her, like John Lewis, she and Bill Clinton worked for civil rights laws and issues for years. h) Has backed labor union laws for years and has the endorsement of many of the country's largest unions.

‪5) Hillary has been pummeled and vetted and truthfully for decades, but the country and Republicans have not even turned their attention to Bernie. In a country where 50% of the people have been told to be suspicious of government, he's going to have to explain a government run insurance system and how his socialism works. In addition, he calls himself a secular Jew. When questioned, he says this means "we're all in this together." This country has a belief in God ratio of as high as 80%. I do not believe that much of middle America will be okay that this Jewish candidate is secular, meaning he does not believe in God, in any way close to what they do. This hasn't come up, because the GOP think they're running against Hillary, but I believe if Bernie gets the nomination, these two things could bury him in the general, If not many other things I've already mentioned.

‪There is a whole list of many more, but I'll end with this,
‪I could give a long treatise in response to Cornell West or Michelle Alexander. I love academics. I love radicals. Many days that's where my time is spent, with organizers on marginal issues. But people who think this nation will go from the extreme drag to the right we've been in for 30 years to radical, socialist rule, I think are smokin' something, or more likely are traveling around with people who think exactly as they do. The President has to be everybody's ... The corporate CEO, the soldier in Iraq, the evangelical Christian, the atheist humanist scientist, the Muslim cleric and pro-Israel rabbi, etc.,

‪The smear campaign against Hillary has been her entire career. I've heard it all. And I hear Bernie people now too often treating her like FOX news and I find it often mean-spirited and frequently inaccurate factually.

‪People said of George Bush, "They wanted to have a beer with him." Of Bernie I hear, "He's real, I like that." Really? This is the presidency of the country. It takes a way bigger resumé than "He's authentic, he hates corporate greed, and he'll stand against the establishment." Wow. Really? Barack Obama to this day is called a socialist by at least a 3rd of the country ... and he's no where near this. What do people think the nation in the general election will do with a secular socialist?

‪Hillary's earned it.
‪Bernie is nice, but hasn't.

‪Whichever wins, I'll work for them and vote for them. But I believe there is a very formidable, very well financed force coming and it's as close to fascism as we've seen for a long time, & I hope those who want a purist candidate, and a politically exciting, passionate ideologue, understand the danger in trashing either Hillary or Bernie. Let's be careful who we dismember out of our various contempts, because we may be dismembering ourselves in Nov.

‪You asked, Jeff.

‪Carroll Watkins Ali‪ Jeanette Baust. Thank you for taking the time to lay your argument out. I thought "Whew, how am I going to break it down?" I agree with you whole heartedly point for point, including your comments about the academics (Michele Alexander and Cornel West)--such a limited scope. As an African American woman who is an academic and who has lived the history, I will also say that I hope Black folks don't fall for the Bernie hype--sounds good but he cannot begin to get the job done. I have, however appreciated the depth of the dialogue between the two; the issues are clearly in front of us. I don't have a lot of faith in anyone, but I am betting on Hillary in this instance and expecting Black peoples to hold her feet to the fire, if Black folks deliver the election to the Democrats again.


    And here is what I responded:

    “Jeanette, you are someone I much admire, since the hunger strike at Iliff you led many years ago.  And I agree with you that fascism is a danger here. And I think Hillary Clinton has fought importantly on the oppression of women and done some major things, and would be happy to see a woman President. But I and my wife waited for 2 hours with at least 20,000 people, many of them young (talked with three high school women in the line) at the Convention Center tonight and heard Bernie’s powerful speech, one which said the truth about many domestic issues, which brought tears to people’s eyes (at least mine) and were registered in fierce, electric applause.  This is a great movement which came out of nowhere but  Sanders beginning to speak out about these things, whited out in the mass media and by the Democratic National Committee; thousands of young people have been going to his rallies since last April; he raises more money than Hillary now through small contributions and has come from 40 points behind to tie or best her in caucus and primary states. People are thankful to hear the truth spoken plainly (what Bernie has done for years…).   This movement is the proverbial awakened sleeping giant and Hillary, and her operatives and the New York Times, in trying to suppress it, will not make her a strong or winning candidate (they tried to ignore and suppress his candidacy; and now depend on professional “superdelegates” to limp through to a nomination, with young people mostly turned away – bad move…).

      You raise many issues, but let’s take Hillary on foreign policy. First, she has pledged herself to defend Netanyahu who pursues ugly racist/fascist policies toward the Palestinians.  I speak as a Jew who went to Palestine, on a civil rights delegation with Dorothy Cotton and Vincent Harding, and has seen Israeli ethnic cleansing and nonviolent Palestinian resistance up close.  The way Israel deals with the occupied territories is analogous to the treatment of Native Americans and blacks by the American regime.  Sanders is not strong on this issue, but back to the Jesse Jackson campaign, he has been concerned about the Palestinians and is nowhere close to Hillary.

      Second, Hillary’s view of Iran is pro-Netanyahu and hostile to working toward resolutions through diplomacy.  She supports Israel and Saudi Arabia (who are particularly reactionary forces in the Middle East) which would tie the US further and very destructively - with the most reactionary forces in the Middle East – Saudi Arabian Wahhabism bred Bin Laden and ISIL; Israeli oppression of the Palestinians - and strengthen ISIL.

    Sanders spoke strongly for further diplomacy with the Iranians over time – talking with enemies as he put it – though, in the context of arguing with her, he shared her vitriol toward the Iranians.  The Shia – Iran and Iraq – are only 10% of Muslims; despite Israeli/American phony panic, they are no threat to conquer the Middle East...And the terrorists who strike against Americans – Al Qaeda and ISIL – are Sunni.  Both Hillary and Bernie were badly wrong (along with the American media) about the dangers here.  A central feature of the Iran deal, to Obama’s great credit,  was an opening for the US to try to pursue a more balanced policy in the Middle East, i.e. not just to be dependent on Saudi Arabia and Israel - and exert some pressure on Israel to settle with rather than committing ethnic cleansing against the Palestinians.  Only one of these candidates, Sanders, is intent on this far wiser alternative.

     Third, the Middle East is totally destabilized by US arming of reactionaries like the Egyptian military and its series of invasions in the area.  The name of these policies going back 50 years is regime-change.  Bernie Sanders has named this – alone among candidates for the Presidency in the last 50 years, from Iran and Guatemala to Libya – and wisely opposes it.  This is the most important innovation that an American President could make – one fiercely opposed by militarists. Hillary is effectively a neo-con who believes in regime change, and advocated not only the American aggression in Iraq but intervention in Libya, a mistake by Barack, which took out Qaddafi, but left chaos and Al-Qaeda.  I, too, hope Hillary has learned something (you suggested this on my facebook page), but I can’t for the life of me see why, even about the Iran treaty, which she surrounds with immediate belligerence against Iran, you think she has.  This is the woman of the “3:am phone call” and would have bombed Iran in contrast to the cooler Barack.

       Fourth, Hillary does say she wouldn’t send American troops – except special forces, but aren’t they, too, American soldiers? – into conflict against ISIL.  I wouldn’t bet on it. 

         Fifth, domestically, Hillary is a relentless defender of the police state (NSA surveillance of all of us), of militarism, and of the privatization of the military.  At least Bernie pointed to the Pentagon budget – roughly $1.7 trillion in real terms – as something to be cut. And Bernie opposed the Patriot Act on both occasions (Hillary was a supporter).

          So I find the casualness with which you endorse Hillary in these matters, refusing to speak to her dangerousness, and dismiss Bernie remarkable.

       Two other points.  First, Vincent Harding brought Michelle Alexander to speak about The New Jim Crow here. He told me she is the new Ida B. Wells.  I have used the book and have gotten to know Alexander and I think so, too. All the candidates for DA in Colorado were forced to read it by the organizers of a recent debate, and began to speak to these issues. The casualness with which you dismiss Alexander – the most important scholar/activist against the prison-industrial complex along with Angela Davis – is also remarkable. I note: Michelle did not endorse Bernie (as Ta-Nehisi Coates did).  She speaks for something more revolutionary (I don’t think we will get real change without mass nonviolent resistance and think Black Lives Matter is the hope of the future).  But sadly, she is right about Hillary and Bill.

     And just as a note, Bernie on political revolution and why the movement is important is not good enough in the sense of just being electoral, but in mobilizing all these new and fired up folks, with deep and apt grievances around a program, he is doing a lot to build the movement. And all these people turning out to vote, especially if they are joined and better led, as Killer Mike and many others have urged so eloquently, by the black community, are likely to win an election. And Bernie has a program that appeals to poor whites as well, and as an independent, quite a lot of attraction (he won the votes with “under $50,000 a year in income” in New Hampshire 60%-40%).  Yes, he will be attacked, but how effective will the attacks be?  Trump opposes a minimum wage hike: how much demonizing of Bernie will it take to sell that program? Unfortunately, Hillary is often tone-deaf, not to say brazen, about what people will think of her as her speaking fees from Goldman Sachs over the past year – she knew she was going to run for President, why do it? - or her choice to run State Department emails through a private server show.  No candidate will have a picnic in the fall…

      And in contrast to Bernie, Hillary is defending her candidacy against what every one who is enthused about Bernie would like to fight for (ask yourself whether, given the struggle for $15 an hour minimum wage by workers all over the country, Hillary’s proposal of $12 an hour over 5 years is going to bring out enthusiastic support.  Yes, being scared of racist, self-aggrandizing imbeciles like Trump (except on the Iraq War last night) or the shady and ugly Ted Cruz (the slippery, pseudo-Christian, soft porn cheat) or Rubio or Bush will get many of us to vote for Hillary unenthusiastically, but will it be enough to win?

       Now Bernie says that black youth unemployment is 51% (among white high school grads, 33%, Chicanos 36%).  He proposes to provide a works program to rebuild Flint and other American cities financed by a tax on Wall Street speculation.  That, as you omit, is a Keynsian proposal that could get the economy going again, provide decent jobs and income to ordinary people and a stronger basis for self-respect (unemployment eats at the soul…). He explicitly links unemployment to mass incarceration.  He calls for free public universities for all.  At best, Hillary is not explicit about these figures and connections if she understands them (her financial ties to Wall Street – she often speaks for the elite – are way too strong).  In contrast to Hillary, what Bernie is proposing has a serious chance of getting people to work, to school and out of prison.  When people give Bernie a chance, they are very impressed (latest poll from Nevada today: a tie, 45% each…).  Jeff, I urge you and others to give him a chance, and Jeanette and Carroll, I hope you will reconsider.