Scurrying Fascist Cockroaches

…is the title of a recent essay of John Steppling’s, and I contacted him at his website  (http://john-steppling.com/) to ask if given its length and breadth if I might use more of it than is strictly Fair Use as neither the Café nor c99% are for profit.  He wrote back and kindly said, “Use what you want from any of my writings”.  So I’ll most all of his Feb. 25 essay at DissidentVoice, although there’s a version at Counterpunch as well.
It may not be an easy read for those who are uncomfortable reading about the clay feet of the political heroes of the realm, nor for those who are blind to how Capital Rules the Realm.  You might want to consider this essay as a one-hour class you’ve decided to check out, and stay and hang on for the ride; he’s an excellent writer as well as playwright and director as well; he writes from Norway, not far from the Arctic Circle.

Now On with the Play!

“Suppose it was discovered tomorrow that the greenhouse effects has been way underestimated, and that the catastrophic effects are actually going to set in 10 years from now, and not 100 years from now or something. Well, given the state of the popular movements we have today, we’d probably have a fascist takeover-with everybody agreeing to it, because that would be the only method for survival that anyone could think of. I’d even agree to it, because there’s just no other alternatives right now.
— Noam Chomsky, Understanding Power, 2002

We’re under attack from climate change—and our only hope is to mobilize like we did in WWII.
— Bill McKibben, The New Republic, 2016

…the survival of National Socialism within democracy (was potentially more dangerous than) the survival of fascist tendencies against democracy.
— Theodor Adorno, quote by Enzo Traverso, The New Faces of Fascism

The question of the appropriation of Environmental movements by Capital is one that has been resisted even more than I had anticipated.

Now this stuff links directly with the rise of the newest wave of sheepdogging Democratic Party hopefuls. Alexandria Ocasio Cortez and now, Ilhan Omar, are the darlings of liberal media and punditry. Omar read (haltingly) from a prepared text as she questioned war criminal Elliot Abrams. She essentially called him a liar, which he is, but which is also what the US government itself already calls him. And she mentioned El Mozote. But, when push came to shove, as they say, Omar like Ocasio Cortez, signed on for regime change in Venezuela.

Now, Ocasio Cortez is floating something she calls the Green New Deal (which, in another form, was already promoted by Green Party candidate Jill Stein) and which is a nakedly pro capitalist bit of three card monte that will provide a boost to the nuclear power industry and line various corporate pockets. It’s capitalism. Omar and Ocasio Cortez also signed the odious Code Pink letter condemning US involvement in coups while at the same time slandering and fabricating stories about Maduro. The logic of the letter was that US proxy forces and covert activities had a counter productive effect and only helped to shore up the credibility of the Maduro government. In other words, fascism is OK, is just fine, only please do it in ways that will not bruise my delicate sensitivities.

Now please note: Ocasio Cortez and Omar are nearly identical physical types. Both are wildly telegenic (until they open their mouths, but maybe that’s not as a big problem as I make it out to be) and both are sort of pixie like, lithe and slender. When I point this out I am told there is nothing wrong with being slender. At which point I silently scream and tear the flesh from my face. The point is only to describe the similarities in presentation of these two political products. In other words, they are manufactured political commodities. And as Madison Avenue knows, such marketing works, even when everyone is on the manufacturing process.

The spectacle is capital to such a degree of accumulation that it becomes an image.
— Guy Debord, Society of the Spectacle

All life is theatre, to some degree of other. I have written before that theatre did not come out of religion but rather religion came out of theatre. And the short explanation is that our psychic formation is tied to a self narration that must take place on stage…even if just in our heads. The scene of the crime. It is Ur-theatre. So in contemporary life I am constantly reminded of just how caught up in the spectacle… or rather…in the streaming of the spectacle, is everyone, and that it is one that occurs 24/7. And even when the smarter among us notices this facsimile existence, nothing happens. For it is ever harder to crawl up and out of capital. Out of accumulation. Out of the spectacle.

And set against this is the rising tide of Fascism. Global fascism. Chomsky, long a suspect figure and sort of the honorary chair of political gate-keeping emeritus, openly and none too timidly advises fascism as perhaps (!) the solution to “getting things done”. As in, the environmental crises — let’s use that term for now — is dire and suddenly (as they say in Hollywood story conferences) there is *a clock on it*. Meaning there is exactly no time to spare. In fact, it’s too late. Etc.

Now, there is a clear necessity for western societies to change how they live. Just a ban on the manufacturing of plastics, or pliable plastics even, would do an enormous amount of good. But that means a lot of very big and rich plastic manufacturing businesses would go out of business. Hence there is no movement toward that. Instead you get The Green New Deal. And what, you might ask, is this going to really achieve?

“Today’s climate emergency mobilization must be recognized for what it is: a strategically orchestrated campaign financed and managed by the world’s most powerful institutions – for the preservation of capitalism and global economic growth. This is the launch of a new growth industry in the Global South coupled with the creation of new and untapped markets. Leading up to this precipice, The B Team, the Open Society Foundation, Oxfam, and many others that serve as the human face of capitalism, have moved their offices or set up new divisions in both Africa and Latin America.”
— Cory Morningstar and Forest Palmer, “Wrong Kind of Green”, Part IV

and…

“…the above plan and language mirrors that in the strategy document “Leading the Public into Emergency Mode: A New Strategy for the Climate Movement” being led by organizations whose affiliations with the Democrats, the Sanders and Ocasio-Cortez campaigns are publicly disclosed. Second, we must recognize that behind large institutions and media outlets such as Grist, branded as both “left” and “progressive”, are power structures subservient to capital. Grist CEO is Brady Walkinshaw. Prior to his role of CEO in 2017, Walkinshaw a former US State representative, worked as a program officer at the Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation. Before his tenure at the Gates Foundation, Walkinshaw, a Fulbright scholar of the US State Department, worked as a special assistant to the World Bank. Within the Grist board of directors is 350.org founder, Bill McKibben – defacto foot soldier for Bernie Sanders and the Democrats in general.”

The same fingerprints are always found. The Gates Foundation, 350.org, the US state department and an assortment of varied NGOs of the moment (all based in the West). Western capital is in transition phase. And riding along in the propaganda wing is a clear new focus on fascist iconography and symbol, and on metaphors of war and the military. Getting things done!!

The rehab of fascism is laying the groundwork for various states of emergency to come. Most will be given a token coat of green paint. The worst thing you can be…even worse than an apologist for Harvey Weinstein or something, is a climate denier. It has already superceded Conspiracy theorist as most toxic appellation available today. Pedophile, Conspiracy Theorist, and at the top…Climate Denier.

In a society in which public education is a shell of its former mediocre self, and one in which science is not much emphasized, it is amazing how many times I have had complex statistics and calculus quoted in regard to global warming or rising sea levels or methane bubbles etc. It has become a kind of incantatory recital of belief. And it is about shaming and stigmatizing. And about self righteousness. And again, the trouble with all this is that there IS a climate crisis. There is massive environmental decay and pollution. And there is, in the U.S. certainly, a crumbling material infrastructure. Clean water will be ever more of a problem. There is ample but very general evidence for all of this. But I am not a scientist. And I have to say I have a healthy suspicion of professional science overall. The planet is very very very complex. And again, I may have missed it, but where are the scientists pointing fingers at the military? I ask that one sincerely. I’d like to know. For there is one thing I do feel pretty confident about: And that is..the military produces pollution, kills sea life, poisons the ground and humans both. And on a massive massive massive scale. So why is that never a target do you suppose?

“As a major turning point in the history of Europe, total war introduced mass violence into everyday life, ‘brutalized’ societies, and accustomed them to industrial massacres and anonymous mass death. As a nationalist political movement, fascism grew out from this trauma. Mosse sees it as a product of the ‘nationalization of the masses’ that was powerfully accelerated during the war. In fact, anti-communism characterized fascism from the beginning to the end of its historical trajectory. It was a militant, radical, aggressive anti-communism that transformed the nationalist ‘civil religion’ into a ‘crusade’ against the enemy.”
— Enzo Traverso (The New Faces of Fascism)

When Trump said “Make America Great Again”, what he meant, of course, was make America white again. But not just white, but a fascist white. For the very idea of *greatness* resides in that exceptionalism that is connected at its roots to manifest destiny and slave owning. The appeal to a manufactured nostalgia of greatness is an appeal to a white hierarchical martial heroism that is today reflected in Marvel and DC comic super hero movies. And this rehabilitation is neo-colonial as well. Communism fought against the colonial European powers, while the US and western capital fought on the side of apartheid and colonial powers. Make America colonial again. Make America a land of plantations, again. Make it a land of *Indian killers*. All of this is running through popular culture today. The masculine panic of Liam Neeson is the same one, on a cruder level aesthetically, found at Trump rallies, but also found on Wall Street and in the industrial usage of escort services those brokers are known to indulge — and in fraternities at universities across the U.S. It is tied to a virulent misogyny. And it is, indeed, tied to Harvey Weinstein — though, problematically, it is also found in much of the lynch mob mania of #metoo.

“…fascism comes to power in stages, beginning with attacks on the democratic rights of working people, the imprisonment of communists and trade unionists, hostility to national minorities and immigrants, and the gradual erosion of democratic institutions. It relies on its mass supporters, mostly from the middle class but also including workers and intellectuals, to carry out these policies. Once fascism has consolidated power, it begins to build up the fascist state and engages in expansionary imperialist wars. The terrorist dictatorship of finance capital is only fully established when all opposition has been outlawed and a fascist state machinery has been completely developed.”
— Fabian Van Onzen, Monthly Review, February 2019

There is a constant drum beat that compares communism to fascism. And it has taken a quality of desperation. So insistent are the authors of this familiar trope of “totalitarian” societies ‘all being the same’ that it is sort of now in another phase that might be labeled *secondary conflations*. And it is important to observe the liberal and urban educated bourgeoisie and their emotional connectivity to Green ideas and policy. This is the collaborationist class Gramsci wrote about so trenchantly. But the level of emotional attachment and reaction to questions of Climate Change or Global Warming (and related environmental issues) needs to be explored a bit more.

For it is as if suddenly the bourgeoisie deeply “cares” about Nature and mother earth. About the planet, about saving mankind. The emotional responses one finds here are not only disproportionate to the specific issues that arise, but they are psychologically prophylactic mechanisms that seem to keep actual political analysis buried. There are knee jerk responses that look to stigmatize those now demonstrating insufficient environmental awareness. Those not invested enough, or in the right way, with Green policy. These are going to be the people who line up behind Ocasio Cortez and The Green New Deal. This outrage is almost never displayed against US bombing “errors” when, say, a wedding party is obliterated and a half dozen children are killed. But maybe it’s a genuine personal fear. Maybe this is a class now afraid and that is a new experience for them.

What haunted them {the Frankfurt School thinkers} was the evidence, everywhere to be found in the Federal Republic of Germany to which Adorno returned in 1949, that the fascist era was being airbrushed from history, erased from collective memory in an act of repression. The fear was not only that it was being forgotten in itself, but that if not remembered, it was likely to resurface in unpredictable forms.”
— Stuart Walton, “Theory from the Ruins”, Aeon Magazine 2017

The Democratic field is forming for the 2020 run at Trump. Think about who is running. I mean, let’s do a quick survey…very quick.

Bernie Sanders is another glaring example of the cognitive dissonance operating at the collective level. Sanders who famously referred to Hugo Chavez as “that dead communist dictator” was also the guy who demanded the Saudi’s “get their hands dirty”. One of the things that seems not to register on the public, both pro Sanders and contra Sanders, is that Bernie just isn’t very smart. He is not a particular fluid speaker nor does he do very well off script. But Bernie has never seen a defense contract he didn’t want a piece of. Never.” [snip]

“But Bernie is, again, not in it to win (I don’t think). He is too well fitted to his one specific role; sheepdog for the DNC. But Beto O’Rourke, another youthful Democratic pseudo leftist who, like AOC is telegenic and comely — his hair alone is pure Madison Avenue stuff. Vote for the hair! Which might be a useful slogan for O’Rourke because his voting record is appalling and deeply reactionary. But Beto is looking to find traction as the new JFK or RFK, and is in it to win.

O’Rourke has also gone out of his way to praise Israel and promise fidelity to “our shared values”. None of this is any sort of surprise. At some point the public has to learn being a Democrat means being pro war and an Imperialist.

“The Fasci di combattimento were born in the aftermath of the war. They were imbued with the petit-bourgeois character of the various veterans associations which arose at that time.

Due to their trenchant opposition to the socialist movement they obtained the support of the capitalists and the authorities. This aspect of the Fasci was inherited in part from the conflict between the Socialist Party and the ‘interventionist’ associations during the war years.

They emerged during the same period when the rural landowners were feeling the need to create a White Guard to tackle the growing workers’ organisations. The gangs that were already organised and armed by the big landowners soon adopted the label Fasci for themselves too. With their subsequent development, these gangs would acquire their own distinct character – as a White Guard of capitalism against the class organs of the proletariat.

Fascism still conserves this trait of its origins. But until very recently, the fervour of the armed offensive kept a lid on the tensions between the urban cadre – who are predominantly petit-bourgeois, orientated on parliament, and ‘collaborationist’ – and the rural cadre, which consist of the big and medium landowners and their tenant farmers.”
— Antonio Gramsci, The Two Fascisms, 1921

Now O’Rourke is another supporter of the Green New Deal. Quelle surprise.”

He then exposes  the utterly leaden feet of Kamala Harris, likely-to-declare Kirsten Gillibrand…then:

“Tulsi Gabbard is the *identity* candidate. A pacific islander, and a Hindu. On the plus side she spoke positively about US enemies like Assad… except for when she was, you know, calling him a brutal dictator. And she was at least mildly respectful of the DPRK. Sort of. And she was right about the murder, by the US, of Gaddafi. But in all this she is still on the side of the Imperialist overlords. In a sense, Gabbard is the new Obama. The comprador candidate. Oh, and she is an aggressive supporter of Israel and highly critical of the BDS. She is the rational Imperialist. I know it’s a buzz kill to point out all these things, but she also happens to be a major in the US Army, a member of the Hawaiian National Guard, and significantly, a member of the House Armed Services Committee. She also did TWO tours in Iraq. Not one, but two. Meaning she volunteered to go back and do it again. She has also praised the BJP party in India, and its neo-fascist president. Richard Spencer admires her (sic) for what that is worth. And Gabbard also signed to enforce sanctions on Iran and Russia. But so bankrupt is the electoral landscape in the U.S., that Gabbard is routinely described as a radical voice.

“The worker, the peasant, who for years has hated the fascism that oppresses him believes it necessary, in order to bring it down, to ally himself with the liberal bourgeoisie, to support those who in the past, when they were in power, supported and armed fascism against the workers and peasants, and who just a few months ago formed a sole bloc with fascism and shared in the responsibility for its crimes. And this is how the question of the liquidation of fascism is posed? No! The liquidation of fascism must be the liquidation of the bourgeoisie that created it.”
— Antonio Gramsci, Neither Fascism nor Liberalism: Sovietism! 1924

The Green New Deal is the fig leaf that provides material for this manufacturing of a new fascist narrative. The green fascism of these new ‘products’ from the Democratic Party laboratories is pretty much in line with what Bill Clinton ushered in and what Obama sort of perfected.

There is no potential for change in electoral movements in the U.S. That system is closed. Any radical third party would be quickly stopped, on that Mitch McConnell and Nancy Pelosi both agree. And the idea of an American gilets jaunes (or Occupy redux) would likely lack both leadership and, more importantly perhaps, a narrative. The disaffected in the U.S. have no way to imagine an end to the system that oppresses them. And this is partly where the Soviet Union is so acutely missed. But one senses this is also why Maduro and Venezuela must be shut down. Sure oil, that’s a nice bonus, but the threat is, even if partly unconscious for the ruling class, an ideology where the slaves revolt. Same as Milosevic had to go. Same as they tried for decades to eliminate Fidel. Independence is not tolerated.

“Luc Boltanski and Arnaud Esquerre noted (for France) that for what they call the *post fascist* ….“The ‘bad’ people— the immigrants, the Muslims and Blacks of the suburbs, veiled women, junkies, and the marginal—merge together with members of the leisure classes who have adopted liberal mores: feminists, the gay-friendly, anti-racists, environmentalists, and defenders of immigrants’ rights. Finally, the ‘good’ people of the postfascist imagination are nationalist, anti-feminist, homophobic, xenophobic, and nourish a clear hostility toward ecology, modern art, and intellectualism.”
— Quoted by Enzo Traverso, Vers l’extrême: Extension des domaines de la droite, Paris: Editions Dehors, 2014; Gérard Mauger, ‘Mythologies: le “beauf” et le “bobo”

And here is also where Green issues become a kind of fulcrum around which the NGOs and marketing firms fully understand the ambivalences. The sudden compassion about the Earth and Global Warming is a narrative that is being appropriated very rapidly right now. For the bourgeoisie ‘going green’ is a cause they can get behind, and one that costs them almost nothing. It also provides cover for their new tough love of the underclass (meaning they get to be more openly racist and contemptuous of the poor). The educated urban liberal is borrowing heavily from the Health Food Co-op back room.

For the right, bad people are those with environmental concerns; i.e., the affluent urban liberal who is experienced as the class looking to take away the working class and poor’s small pleasures. First all those *sin* taxes, on tobacco and booze, and then restrictions on muscle cars, and all sort of stuff is given a crude story line by folks like Steven Bannon. Good people are those who deny any of this environmental stuff. Thereby in their Evangelical piety the flyover state working poor (and unemployed) justify their ignorance and more to the point, can stop having to wrestle with complicated and often ambivalent ideas to which a destroyed public education system never exposed them.

Because of this mutual disconnect, the emotional cathexis of the liberal educated classes in both Europe and the U.S. identify with their ‘superior’ concerns, their belief in science, which they understand no better than those sitting in the seats at NASCAR races, but who are encouraged to practice what they see as “sober” thinking, “tough love”, and “responsible” telling of hard truths. What this means is they increasingly are now finding permission to express more openly what they have kept silent about (cue Liam Neeson). And that is a virulent racism, but one now more tilted toward antisemitism, and most significantly Islamaphobia. The affluent bourgeois class is experiencing great relief in being given permission to vent their buried xenophobia. The Muslim is a structural replacement (though not really a replacement so much as an addition but in perception management terms it’s a replacement) for Jew in this new liberal antisemitism. It is not expressed in quite the same way as those in the flyover states, but it’s there all the same. And yet these classes recognize nothing of themselves in the other.

“The idea of a healthy and prosperous Green New Deal (part and parcel of the fourth industrial revolution) for the world – is a lure to keep you believing in the system.”
— Cory Morningstar (in conversation).

When Gramsci wrote of hegemony he never forgot that bourgeois rule, even when it advanced behind ‘mere’ coercion, still had physical violence as an option. The increased surveillance state and police militarization are linked, in the end, to policing of the inner cities (black and latino neighborhoods) and to US imperial policing and pacification of the global south.

But in looking at the narratives today, the ruling class and their collaborationist allies in the bourgeoisie, have refashioned environmental concerns so that its truth is always about protecting capital and capitalism while the narrative is about their own virtues. It’s an investment opportunity. Nothing more. And part of the problem (often a large part) is transferred to the victims of capital; the very poorest in the world, the very people who consume the least and pollute the least. This is the logic (and always has been) of eugenics and its contemporary trope “overpopulation”. And the cruelty and ruthlessness of the overpopulation meme is given a cosmetic make-over to resemble compassionate white saviour stories. The superior white expert come to stop the savages from having too many children.

To fix or at least manage, to some degree, the worst environmental problems will actually require drastic socialist programs. Not fascism as Chomsky suggests…or as Bernie or AOC or any of the rest of these capitalist sock puppets….but socialist. And nothing, NOTHING of any good is ever going come out of the Democratic Party. And nothing of any significance can happen via the US electoral theatre. The amount of energy wasted in endless debate about the virtues or “electability” (sic) of Elizabeth Warren vs Bernie Sanders or Kamala Harris vs Tulsi Gabbard etc is breathtaking. Imagine that time spent on something useful. Like, oh, how to prevent more war and carnage. And how to create a sustainable form of human development.

“Socialism, in its most radical form, is about substantive equality, community solidarity, and ecological sustainability; it is aimed at the unification—not simply division—of labor.

Once sustainable human development, rooted not in exchange values, but in use values and genuine human needs, comes to define historical advance, the future, which now seems closed, will open up in a myriad ways, allowing for entirely new, more qualitative, and collective forms of development. This can be seen in the kinds of needed practical measures that could be taken up, but which are completely excluded under the present mode of production. It is not physical impossibility, or lack of economic surplus, most of which is currently squandered, that stands in the way of the democratic control of investment, or the satisfaction of basic needs—clean air and water, food, clothing, housing, education, health care, transportation, and useful work—for all. It is not the shortage of technological know-how or of material means that prevents the necessary ecological conversion to more sustainable forms of energy.103 It is not some inherent division of humanity that obstructs the construction of a New International of workers and peoples directed against capitalism, imperialism, and war. All of this is within our reach, but requires pursuing a logic that runs counter to that of capitalism.”
— John Bellemy Foster, Monthly Review, February 2019”

John Steppling’s extensive CV is at the bottom of the page.



And a few relevant items from the Twittersphere referencing some of the above:

(cross-posted from Café Babylon)

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Naomi Wolf walks thru the GND step by step and there is a lot to worry about in it, starting with the selection of fifteen people to be in charge, not to mention the creating new banks that deal solely with the funds to be used and it is worth noting that a lot of things in this resolution have nothing to do with environmental solutions.
It reads like a redesign of the entire Country with the interests of "businesses" involved with things like the actual power over the design of some towns, and what if the towns chosen don't want to be one big wifi hot spot?
Not to mention that has that nothing to do with finding environmental solutions, just like the parts about racism,income inequality, etc. that all belong in a different discussion in which the parties involved need a voice.
So much more but I'll Naomi Wolf run them down and if anyone is interested the text of the proposed bill is linked to just below the video.
https://dailyclout.io/greennewdeal-astonishes-vast-for-vcs-new-banks-fed...

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wendy davis's picture

@aliasalias

you've brought it. i'd seen it on twitter some time ago, and simply backed out of the video because of its length. i just don't retain anything much in audio, and i'd hunted and hunted for a transcript, but nope. maybe i'll just have to try harder, i dunno.

but i did send it to someone here who watched and said it was a lot like what i'd stuck in from whitney webb that i'd used in my earlier 'green capitalism aglow' piece:

Corporations See a Different Kind of “Green” in Ocasio-Cortez’s “Green New Deal”’; Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez’s “Green New Deal” initiative was unveiled on Thursday and quickly became the target of disingenuous ridicule from both sides of the aisle. But as Whitney Webb highlights in this Dec 18, 2018 piece, there are very serious reasons to be concerned.'

but yes, it's focus on social engineering is designed to appeal to the liberals who want to feel they'd be helping the downtrodden. plus, as one commenter noted at her site: ocasio is about 30 years too late (i'd usually posited two decades too late), which tallies with much of what john steppling said, i.e.:

"For it is as if suddenly the bourgeoisie deeply “cares” about Nature and mother earth. About the planet, about saving mankind. The emotional responses one finds here are not only disproportionate to the specific issues that arise, but they are psychologically prophylactic mechanisms that seem to keep actual political analysis buried."

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@wendy davis https://docs.google.com/document/d/1jxUzp9SZ6-VB-4wSm8sselVMsqWZrSrYpYC9...

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wendy davis's picture

@aliasalias

and i'll add these:

"It’s NOT a draft bill — it’s 11 pages of a Google doc with shocking surprises. It assigns a vast “wartime footing” level amount of taxpayer money to private entities — VCs, the private Federal Reserve, “new banks” and any “financial instrument” the 15 members of the committee decide ‘appropriate.” It creates a national SMART GRID — which is terrible for human health and great for telecoms and surveillance. It gives the 15 committee members the right to not hold any public hearings about the “green new deal,” if they so choose. It creates loopholes that leave them free to not have normal term limits.

It hands vast sums to air and ocean carbon capture, which is an experimental geoengineering tech for which silicon valley investors own IP. It states that the “green new deal” will be released on a website and a publication — not on govtrack, where public transparency is assured (and where we at DailyClout get our API). It transfers “unlimited” resources at the will of the 15 and their chosen partners in business, industry etc to groups defined by race, gender and rural-ness, thus violating the equal protections in our Constitution. It’s a shocking document."

took me some time, but i'd eventually realized that VCs = Venture Capitalists.

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I read it at Counterpunch but it needs to be read more than once, at least for me. And I have to agree with pretty much all of it. There may be some minor points he made in the full article that I could argue with but not many. I really should send this one out to friends, and I may, I wish to hell they'd really read it but all I can do is point the way.

Thanks for putting it here.

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wendy davis's picture

@lizzyh7

read it more than once. one part i didn't agree with was the ever-burgeoning BugPocalypse, so...i didn't use it. ; ) but here where we live we know only too well what a dearth of flying insects has meant. last year there were three butterflies here, because they head to the high mountains to feed and pollinate, but the temps now are so much higher that the wildflowers have bloomed and died when they get there. of course he's in norway, so there's that to consider.

and it's nice to have bees of all stripes back, even if far fewer than other seasons. thanks for taking the time to read it again, lizzyh7.

but NO mention of the US military as the largest global carbon footprint on the planet is just one of the reasons i'd said 'Pfffft' to mckibben and klein.

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@wendy davis @lizzyh7 about our military destroying people and ecosystems all around the world 24/7.
But in the video Naomi Wolf mentions that concerns for the environment from fracking and the military aren't anywhere in the text of the resolution,so she points that out.

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wendy davis's picture

@aliasalias

i can't even to pluck out of my earlier 'green capitalism aglow', 'what else isn't in the deal', but right outta the door: it doesn't even limit fossil fuels, just speaks the fake solutions:

“The primary goal of the AOC-Markey Green New Deal (GND) Resolution is to “achieve net-zero greenhouse gas emissions”. We reject net-zero emissions language (as well as carbon neutral and zero-carbon) because it implies the use of carbon accounting that includes various types of carbon pricing systems, offsets and/or Payments for Ecological Services (PES). The use of this language opens up space and opportunity for fossil fuel industries to continue the business-as-usual practices of extraction, transport and combustion. In addition, the industry’s most responsible for climate change – fossil fuel industries – obtain more profits through the use of market mechanisms built into carbon pricing systems that include offsets and PES. This language is the opposite of what we have been demanding. It appears that the policy-makers who use this language are failing to listen to us. First and foremost, if we are to stop climate change, we must create a plan to keep fossil fuels in the ground that includes cutting off subsidies and tax breaks.", etc.

feel the sham of it? geoengineering, carbon capture, all dolled up in red lipstick and no place to go.

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@wendy davis I would argue with. I actually saw a few monarchs up here last year, had not seen any in a while. I also see lots of geo-engineering flights up here and I've watched while several trees have died quick deaths and been removed from my condo grounds. We've got at least 3 more evergreen types that will probably die out this summer, one right behind me. There are simply too many of them going quick for this to be "natural."

But he is so right that even our hearing more about climate catastrophe is used for a purpose, and not a good one. That comment you just made upthread regarding the text of that PDF alias attached just goes to show. They'll use climate panic, justified climate panic, to take control. When I try to tell friends such things some just do not want to hear it, period. I do get that but my God, the time to ignore it is so fucking long gone. And doing it in increments, you know at least it's a start right, is what got us here. We're out of time and our fascist owners know it good and well. Bastards. Savages.

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wendy davis's picture

@lizzyh7

cordeliers on the Margaret Klein Salamon clinical psychologist' report. she learned ed bernays well, didn't she? or maybe: neurolinguistic programming?

but i/we weren't speaking about the chemtrails intentional fucking w/ the climate, but more 'mitigating carbon' on this order. i you need more examples, i could dig out my three part climate change part that explains it better. carbon capture, storage, and the rest. and with great graphics to boot!

on edit: here it is, i had to go nine pages back; verbose blogger that i Yam. ; )

a current climate chaos compendium: Part II: geoengineering

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QMS's picture

“The idea of a healthy and prosperous Green New Deal (part and parcel of the fourth industrial revolution) for the world – is a lure to keep you believing in the system.”

As opposed to fixing it our own damn selves.
Sheesh

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Listen to your higher mind.

wendy davis's picture

@QMS

and what is that system? Capital Rules! (double entendre intended)

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wendy davis's picture

but A-team and obama-esque shephard fairey posters? jeeze-louise.

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Big Al's picture

@wendy davis They're admitting it's all about marketing and propaganda, probably not even realizing what the fuck they're doing. The controllers have to be laughing their asses off. Like little lemmings in a row.

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wendy davis's picture

@Big Al

my apologies to carlos and rob thomas, but let's let this stand as tonight's homage to the 'creator' of the green capitalism deal:

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Big Al's picture

From the manufactured AOC to the imperialist Gabbard to the absurdity of the democratic party primary starting almost two years before the election. But the bottom line, "NOTHING of any good is ever going come out of the Democratic Party.", while true, is even worse than that imo. As seen with the early indications of the dem party green new deal, they'll lead us to disaster if given the chance, while the unrepresentative politicians get rich off photo shoots and book deals.

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@Big Al and I didn't bother with the article, but Common Dreams had something about an AOC comic book... Good God.

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wendy davis's picture

@lizzyh7

but a sick one, but true. look at one of the covers i stuck in, mirroring steppling's "oh strangle christ" tweet at the end of the text. she's fightin' the GOP with her zena warrior princess super-powers! Branding. Branding. Branding. and from the other diary kenn orphann had quoted john steppling's quoting:

“Modern business must have its finger continuously on the public pulse. It must understand the changes in the public mind and be prepared to interpret itself fairly and eloquently to changing opinion.”

― Edward L. Bernays, Propaganda, 1928

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@wendy davis if you want an ipecac look at all their offerings

https://thehill.com/blogs/in-the-know/in-the-know/426832-kamala-harris-a...

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wendy davis's picture

@Dr. John Carpenter

"Earlier this month, the Brooklyn-based manufacturer announced the release of its special counsel Robert Mueller action figure. It’s also fashioned figurines bearing the likenesses of Harris’s fellow 2020 White House contender Sen. Elizabeth Warren (D-Mass.), Supreme Court Justice Ruth Bader Ginsburg, Sen. Bernie Sanders (I-Vt.) and former President Obama. The current president has an “Evil Trump” figure — complete with a pointed middle finger — made in his image.

“Think of the impact California has had on our culture,” FCTRY CEO Jason Feinberg said in a statement about the company’s Harris doll. “Same-sex marriage. Computers, of course. Movies. Even small things like avocado toast! As a proud New Yorker, it’s a little hard to admit this, but California always figures things out a bit before the rest of us.”

“Right now it’s hard to look at Kamala Harris and not get that same sense,” Feinberg said.

FCTRY boasts that the 6-inch Harris figures are “a perfect size for all uses” whether “you want to keep her on your desk for all to see, or bring her to your next Senate hearing.”

on edit: i should have said "thanks, i need that." i swear we must have a paper bag of STNG action figures in the cellar. yanno, worfie, guinan, a ferenghi...oh, maybe that was kamala!

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wendy davis's picture

@Big Al

techno fixes that don't begin to address climate chaos. but that's the thing with any Big Brands, including the climate gods klein and mcKibben: once reified, they're home free. i often think of craig murray's "look where they don't want you to look" (only said in a different context). or: be brave enough to look behind the curtain.

wish i'd save the tweet, but ocasio was saying that when she was asked by high schoolers what they could do personally toward helping the climate, she'd said "at least once a week you should take your own cup and bag when you go to starbucks" (or close to that).

but cripes, even c-span is on her Twit account w/ video of her testimony or questioning cohen (?) about trump's son or some such. talk about a Big Brand.

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The bourgeoisie" means killing them right? It doesn't mean separating them from their capital through non violence. That's why socialism fails and fascism never dies because it is all but impossible to kill them all and in any event, none of you have the stomach for it.
Yet.

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@Battle of Blair Mountain You have no idea what I will do in a crunch.

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wendy davis's picture

@Battle of Blair Mountain

the author what he'd meant, i reckon. but he sure doesn't seem like a violent man to me, so i don't have a clue why you assume to know either way. but boots riley and the coup had some fun imagining it ...the french way.

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wendy davis's picture

@Battle of Blair Mountain

about the context of your quote, as i hadn't recalled it. i'd tried and failed to use Find text im my word document to see, but mr. wd finally sussed it out in a quote by italian neo-marxist political theorist antonio gramsci:

“The worker, the peasant, who for years has hated the fascism that oppresses him believes it necessary, in order to bring it down, to ally himself with the liberal bourgeoisie, to support those who in the past, when they were in power, supported and armed fascism against the workers and peasants, and who just a few months ago formed a sole bloc with fascism and shared in the responsibility for its crimes. And this is how the question of the liquidation of fascism is posed? No! The liquidation of fascism must be the liquidation of the bourgeoisie that created it.”

— Antonio Gramsci, Neither Fascism nor Liberalism: Sovietism! 1924

i suppose steppling's premise is that in the current political milieu, the D team is acting in such a way. as bourgeois compradors, iow.

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...what our country needs right now; at least if we're going to deal effectively with climate change. It's not about being sheepdogs for the DNC (Bernie's not a DNC sheepdog). It's about being effective sheepdogs for humanity...

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"Freedom is something that dies unless it's used." --Hunter S. Thompson

Big Al's picture

@bobswern (sheepdogs for humanity) as opposed to being sheepdogs/dupes for the capitalist class as the democratic party has always been (see below) and as many are pointing out about this dem party green new deal. And it assumes the democratic party, and this duopoly political system, can be the vehicle to make major changes like the effective addressing of climate change, a nationalized health care system, a halt and reversal of extreme wealth inequality, and democracy itself, which we don't have, while representing the capitalist class, of which there is little evidence that can be the case. As the author points out, "nothing of any good is ever going to come from the democratic party".

That is the major point of disagreement on this non-partisan blog, and on the left. Some feel the democratic party, and that includes ALL of it's political unrepresentatives, is part of the opposition in the class war being waged and won by the rich, i.e., non-partisans. Some feel it is on the right side and/or can be if only more progressives can successfully "reform" the party and that it is our only avenue to address major issues, i.e., partisans. That's two different sides of the battle right there. There are also those on the fence. It's really no different than republicans vs democrats, but in this case it's democrats vs independents/third party adherents. We might agree on the problems, but not on the options for addressing the problems, especially when it comes to duopoly politicians.

Whatever Sanders is doing, he is in effect a lead cheerleader for the democratic party at this point, with his stated goal of removing Trump and the republicans from power. As Glen Ford of Black Agenda Report states:

"The best evidence of the profound weakness of the “left” in the United States is that it is necessary to credit Bernie Sanders with making “socialism” a benign term in national political discourse. The price of socialism’s admission to polite conversation here in the belly of the hegemonic capitalist beast is that it must always be chaperoned by the word “democratic” so as to distinguish it from supposedly “authoritarian” ideologies of the same name. The “democratic” modifier works wonders, magically enlarging the historical “socialist” camp to include President Franklin Roosevelt, a wealthy guy that never thought of himself as a socialist but whose 1944 Economic Bill of Rights is the verbatim source of Bernie Sanders’ brand of socialism. At the same time, almost all the actual socialist movements and governments in human history are demonized.
Under this “democratic” form of socialism, the capitalist ruling class is never overthrown, but nevertheless acquiesces to reforms that grant working people basic economic and political rights. Seeing no necessity to overthrow the Lords of Capital at home, the Sandernista socialists have no principled objection to the military-political-economic structures of global capitalism -- a system most people in the world call imperialism. But American “democratic socialists” don’t like that word because it tends to upset the U.S. ruling class. Moreover, Bernie’s brand of “socialists” carry around much the same list of enemy nations as their right-wing and “centrist” corporate comrades: Libya, Syria, and now Venezuela – the “authoritarian” socialists.

“The Sandernista socialists have no principled objection to the military-political-economic structures of global capitalism -- a system most people in the world call imperialism.”

https://blackagendareport.com/

quote-the-republican-and-democratic-parties-or-to-be-more-exact-the-republican-democratic-eugene-v-debs-91-44-91.jpg

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@Big Al in this thread (it's either above or below this comment), which I'm posting now.

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"Freedom is something that dies unless it's used." --Hunter S. Thompson

wendy davis's picture

@Big Al

excellent. @Big Al

i'd add from a recent diary will morrow's 2018 'the political fraud of AOC's green new deal' at wsws semi-jocularity about the Deal:

“The original “New Deal,” which included massive public works infrastructure projects, was introduced by Democratic President Franklin Roosevelt in the 1930s amid the Great Depression. Its purpose was to stave off a socialist revolution in America. It was a response to a militant upsurge of strikes and violent class battles, led by socialists who were inspired by the 1917 Russian Revolution that had occurred less than two decades before.

American capitalism could afford to make such concessions because of its economic dominance. The past forty years have been characterized by the continued decline of American capitalism on a world stage relative to its major rivals. The ruling class has responded to this crisis with a social counterrevolution to claw back all gains won by workers. This has been carried out under both Democratic and Republican administrations and with the assistance of the trade unions.”

can a crisis caused by capitalism and (in this deal's case) imperialism...be solved thru capitalist mechanisms? 'system change not climate change' depends on who defines it, doesn't it?

at least the green party deal called for slashing the military budget in half, closing all 900-1000 bases world wide. thru all of this,i keep thinking about dennis kucinich (and maybe mike gravel) having campaigned on creating a Cabinet Level Dept. of Peace.

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wendy davis's picture

@bobswern

video. and while i respect your right to hold that opinion, i'd like to address your comment:

"a good herd of Democratic Socialist sheepdogs is just...what our c..what our country needs right now; at least if we're going to deal effectively with climate change.

now the text i've bolded is fascinating for any number of reasons. one is that it's all been baked in by now, see: nasa global climate signs here, co2 ppm already at 441, global temps, ocean temps rising and rising, melting more of the polar ice caps, warmer water attracting even more heat in the seas...and all the while the #GND never even addresses fossil fuel use, just market mechanisms like cap and trade, carbon capture/sequestration...to end up with the vaunted "zero-sum carbon emissions".

not a word about fracking which not only is an environmental disaster for poisoning aquifers, but takes millions of water for each drill hole. in the next county east of here folks in fracked areas can light their tap water on fire as it comes out of the tap. evidence is showing that fracking also causes small earthquakes under ground, produces methane as well. in the north pole region the melting permafrost if releasing even more methane, and the calthrates are creating additional hell as they feed back, causing more melting, more methane, even releasing some form the ocean beds.

but what on earth? *even* if it all made one whit of difference in amerika, climate chaos is a global issue, but yes, ocasio's team wants to export it all to...other nations, or something.

but in my 'green capitalism aglow' report, i'd pasted in the (then) house cosponsors, and actually featured some of the provisions of the deal. fancy the cost and reality of this one:

E) upgrading all existing buildings in the United States and building new buildings to achieve maximum energy efficiency, water efficiency, safety, affordability, comfort, and durability, including through electrification’

these were the first ecosocialists i'd ever met while i was covering the rio 2012 sustainability conference, although the indigenous of the south weren't allowed into the Elite Conference, they held site meetings on their own. but they brought their own manifestos with them; this is one of them: the 2010 People’s Agreement of Cochabamba. as i've said before, it was the indigenous who taught me the evils of capitalism and the ruination of this once beautiful, big, blue green ball.

the cochabamba one opens:

"Today, our Mother Earth is wounded and the future of humanity is in danger.
If global warming increases by more than 2 degrees Celsius, a situation that the “Copenhagen Accord” could lead to, there is a 50% probability that the damages caused to our Mother Earth will be completely irreversible."

and the global temp seems to be hovering just under those 2 degrees now.

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...positions on multiple issues are now considered to be mainstream; as opposed to just two years ago, when those same issues positions did little more than provoke feigned outrage among "mainstream" Democrats. Now, this is (for the most part, still) all talk, until it morphs into passed legislation. But, it is progress, albeit slow progress.

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"Freedom is something that dies unless it's used." --Hunter S. Thompson

Deja's picture

@bobswern
I think you need this -- about 2 minutes.

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@Deja ...but, maybe you should read my extensive comment, down below, which is, mostly, a reproduction of something Corey Robin posted on his website, about three weeks ago.

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"Freedom is something that dies unless it's used." --Hunter S. Thompson

@bobswern @bobswern ...from less than three weeks ago... (Every time I've asked/communicated with him [maybe 8-10 times], he's allowed me to republish his work, in its entirety, and I believe I do have written/blanket authorization from him to excerpt his work, with exceptions, already; but, I'd have to look it up, since I took about 18 months off--more or less--from blogging, after doing that for almost 11 years, nonstop. Which reminds me, by the way, that Henry Giroux is another highly respected intellectual on the "real left"--I have blanket authorization to reproduce his work, as well, also with restrictions [I've communicated with Giroux around 30-40 times]--and he's a big fan of John Steppling. So, that does impress me. Personally, however, the fact of the matter is that Steppling's a brilliant, professional playwright. Giroux and Robin are brilliant, professional educators, focused upon history, political science, sociology, education and media, etc.)

"Beer Track, Wine Track, Get Me Off This Fucking Train"
Corey Robin
coreyrobin.com
February 10th, 2019

Yesterday, on Twitter, I tweeted a version of this claim:

Beto, Harris, Klobuchar, Biden, Gillibrand, Booker: The basis of their candidacies is ultimately them, their person. That’s what they all have in common.

Sanders and Warren are the only two candidates whose basis is a set of ideas, well worked out over the years, about the economy and the state.

The tweet was one part of a much longer Facebook post, in which I elaborated the point. Here’s a short excerpt from that post:

Among the many reasons that I have no time for the first set of candidates is that I’m so tired of these quintessentially American campaigns that are so wrapped up in the personality of the candidate, tied up in a bow of banalities—Biden as the white working class Joe! Harris as a woman of color who’s a prosecutor for the people! Beto as the white man on a horse! Klobuchar as the abusive boss (maybe she’s hoping to give Trump a run for his money)! Booker as the man of love—as opposed to mounting a comprehensive political argument about our world.

One of the things I’ve always found so strange about liberals and Democrats is how much they make fun of Ronald Reagan as an intellectual and political simpleton—when the slightest review of his speeches and writings (many of which he wrote himself) would show just how intense was this man’s worldview, how slowly and carefully he worked it out over the years and decades of his move to the right—while running to embrace candidates almost entirely for their charisma (or putative charisma; I’ve never understood how people could persuade themselves to fall in love with a John Kerry or a Biden or a Gillibrand) and life story.

I’ve said this before and I’ll say this again: the last successful Democratic candidate who had an actual story to tell about American politics and the economy, about where we were and where we were going, was Bill Clinton. I hated that story, but it was an analysis. Even Obama, whose speeches I’ve been reading so closely, didn’t really have much of an analysis of American politics and the economy, despite his populist nods throughout the 2008 campaign.

Without the larger context of my Facebook post, however, some Twitter Democrats were angered by the initial tweet. And let me know in no uncertain terms.

So let me try to set out a broader account of what I’m getting at here.

I think some part of the pushback I got on Twitter (where people rushed to assure me that Beto or Booker or Gillibrand has a long list of serious policy proposals under their belt or on their website) reflects the larger parlous state of our political discourse and analysis. When it comes to presidential elections, people seem to have only two ideas of how it is that a candidate runs. I’m going to borrow from one of the more irritating usages from the 2008 Democratic primary and call it the beer track analysis and the wine track analysis.

The beer track analysis holds that politics and elections are above all about personality. Voters, in this theory, respond to some elusive notion of who the candidate is, is she like me, can I identify with her, is she likable? (As if Richard Nixon or Jimmy Carter were likable. And if you’re thinking of Habitat for Humanity Jimmy, you need to go back to Christian scold-y Jimmy of the 1970s. He really wasn’t likable.) It’s basically the “Would I like to get a beer with this person” that we heard so much about during George W. Bush’s first presidential run in 2000.

Now the people who proffer this kind of analysis never think of themselves as being motivated by such jejune considerations. No, personality and likability are just how the rubes and masses respond to politics. It’s unfortunate, of course, but rubes are going to rube.

No, the people who proffer this analysis think that they’re interested in a different, more sophisticated, set of considerations. They’re part of the wine track, you see, and what they care about is that all-important, Ivy-League-credentialed, wonk-mystical and stat-esoteric concern called “policy.”

Got that? The beer track cares about personality, the wine track cares about policy.

Despite what I’m sure is a case of massive self-deception on their parts, the wine track folks really do believe that they, rational beings that they are, spend hours on end researching carefully all the policy planks and proposals of the various candidates. And that they only reach a determination of which candidate to choose based on their close reading of a meta-data study they found on J-STOR that confirms the viability of said candidate’s toolkit of policies.

These are the types of people who will tell you, after much careful study, and with no apparent sense of irony, “I really think that Klobuchar’s tax-advantaged savings account proposal is the sweet spot of this campaign: it’ll do more than anything for poverty alleviation but it’s got real electoral juice.” They’re the people who’ll tell you, when you say you don’t understand why candidate x is running, go to their website. And think they’ve done something in doing so.

What I think both accounts—the personality and the policy, the beer track and the wine track—miss is the role of ideology, of political argument, of collective story-telling.

Now just so I’m clear: When I say ideology and argument, I don’t mean a candidate needs to channel Rawls. I mean, does she have a story about the American polity, about how we’ve come to the impasse we’re in (Trump, rampant inequality, rampant incarceration, a party of unadulterated nativism and racism and misogyny, the 1%, non-existent unions, winnowing voting rights, growing strike waves, impending extinction of the planet, etc.), about who is responsible for it (not just a villainous Republican Party but also a larger political economy and set of social actors), and how we’re going to reverse and undo this development.

The great realigners had such a story. Read FDR’s Commonwealth Club speech. Read Lincoln’s Cooper Union address. What you take away from those speeches is not a list of policies but a narrative, an ideologically-laden narrative, of the last however many decades of American politics, and how those years need to be brought to an end. Above all, they locate a variety of social ills (in Lincoln’s case, not just slavery but also winnowing democracy, constitutional decline, and so on; in FDR’s case, the end of the frontier, the Depression, reaching the limits of capitalist expansion) in a socially malignant form: the slaveocracy, in Lincoln’s case, the economic royalists, in FDR’s case. Again, they didn’t give you a laundry list of issues (sexual harassment here, taxes there, voting rights over there); they wove the whole thing into a single story, a single theory, locating each part in a larger whole.

Some non-realigners also have such an analysis. I’m not a fan of these, but you could definitely say Bill Clinton had such a story, Richard Nixon had such a story. And I would say that Obama had such a story in his speech on Jeremiah Wright.

So to bring this back to my original post: I don’t doubt that all of the candidates in the Democratic primary have their itemized list of policy proposals (many of them, of course, responses to Sanders’s 2016 campaign and the subsequent take-off of AOC and other Democratic Party politicians), as a lot of their supporters on Twitter rushed to point out to me. But policy is not ideology; a list of issues is not a political analysis or argument; a website is not a story. I don’t hear from most of them what I’m talking about here. So I stand by what I said: only Warren and Sanders have the kind of analysis I’m talking about, the kind of analysis that can mobilize voters to do what must be done.

Now it is possible, as my friend Alex Gourevitch pointed out to me in an email, that a candidate like Harris has a story. We saw a version of that story in a couple of the speeches she’s given over the last decade in which we she celebrated her work in prosecuting the parents of truant schoolchildren. As near as I can tell, these are, to date, her most elaborated narrative of how she thinks about the state and society. They’re clear, coherent, and tell you exactly how she thinks about the world—where the problems lie, where the solutions lie—and what policies go with it.

The problem, of course, with that narrative is that it is now in bad odor. It may express the truest version of what Harris thinks, but carceral capitalism is not a winning platform, the way it was under Bill Clinton. This isn’t Harris’s fault; like a lot of other candidates of her generation, she came up as a politician under the hegemony of the Clinton New Democrats. They had developed a once-in-a-generation political story or analysis, and now that story/analysis is not acceptable. Hillary Clinton found herself in a similar boat. So Harris can’t run on the one story we have some reason to believe she really believes. So she’s got to get another one, or failing that, a laundry list of platform items, or failing that, a compelling story about herself.

But that’s the thing about stories and ideologies and analysis: unlike Medicare for All, or some other issue you’re willing to support (at least rhetorically) because it polls well or because Bernie has shifted the discourse, an ideology or analysis is not something you come by over night.

Lincoln, Reagan (I’m less certain about FDR on this, I’ll confess) worked their way over the years to what they said. We mistake that point for authenticity; I don’t think that’s the significance here. What I’m talking about is not the authenticity of a candidate’s positions, how anciently or recently she’s adopted those positions (FDR’s, of course, changed radically over the course of his first and second term) but the credibility and depth of their analysis. Voters will forgive all sorts of adaptations and policy revisions; they find it harder to accept the idea that yesterday you thought this—where this is not support or opposition to a healthcare policy, but something more fundamental about the relationship between states and markets and society—and today you think that.

Developing a story or analysis or ideology takes time; it’s not something you crib and adapt in response to polls. It doesn’t mean a candidate needs to be as ancient as Sanders (Bill Clinton, of course, was quite young, but he nevertheless had a whole analysis of the problem). But it does mean that her political voice has to have some sense of continuity, and if she’s changed her positions or policy (as Reagan did, as Warren has), that she has a credible story about how she came to that new position.

So, at the end of the proverbial day--and the point Robin's making--is that we appear to be at one of those rare junctures in our country's political history where a "Great Realigner" may have an opportunity to greatly realign the direction of our country; and along with the likes of China and Russia, etc., greatly realign the future of our planet.

Only time will tell (about 19 months, to be more precise).

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"Freedom is something that dies unless it's used." --Hunter S. Thompson

Pluto's Republic's picture

@bobswern

...it needs lot of channeling and massaging. Although I think it leads to the essential dilemma in our political process. It's strange that discussions about the qualities of Enlightened Leadership are so uncommon in our national discourse. Our criteria for evaluating and judging a candidate to lead us have degraded so — and all we have left are a candidate's stated policies (which are mutable slogans, as we have seen) and personality (which is entertaining, I suppose). Yes, Corey Robin's analysis captures the dilemma:

What I think both accounts—the personality and the policy...miss is the role of ideology, of political argument, of collective story-telling.

Now just so I’m clear: When I say ideology and argument, I don’t mean a candidate needs to channel Rawls. I mean, does she have a story about the American polity, about how we’ve come to the impasse we’re in, ...about who is responsible for it (not just a villainous Republican Party but also a larger political economy and set of social actors), and how we’re going to reverse and undo this development.

He's talking about an overarching philosophy. The entire philosophical debate has dropped out — or been edited out — of political dialogue in the US. There is no space allotted for the essential philosophical questions. The answers are what form our national Vision.

Is the government benefiting all of the people? Why are they fearful and economically insecure? What specific goal is the government striving so hard and using so many resources to achieve? What social improvements are in our long-term plan? Do we have a plan? What will our society look like in ten, twenty years? Why are the people so uninformed and disenfranchised? Have we been raising strong, healthy, educated, and mentally sound citizens to secure our future? Why are other nations around the world fighting with us? What is our VISION for ourselves and for our future?

Armed with a collective VISION, selecting the proper leader would be more likely. Or perhaps, more good leaders would step forward. If we perform a formal reality check — then we can take control. For decades we have been led to a places we do not want to be. We have been captured. Our candidate choices are compromised by this system and they will not "reverse and undo this development." It shall be more of the same.

We need to find the Vision that we lost as a nation, and teach it to ourselves again. Maybe do more of our own leading and less following. Shared visions tend to manifest.

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@Pluto's Republic

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"Freedom is something that dies unless it's used." --Hunter S. Thompson

@Pluto's Republic (I had attempted to publish a comment, late last night, where the freakin' coding took on a life of its own. Had to play around with it just to get it to publish, at all. Then continued to do same to have it presented as intended. Took me four or five attempts.)

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"Freedom is something that dies unless it's used." --Hunter S. Thompson

Pluto's Republic's picture

@bobswern

And my posts are long and tedious lately. Can you imagine my dismay when I saw it repeated four times. It triggered me. Heh.

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Pluto's Republic's picture

@Pluto's Republic

...I suppose, that could bring empowerment organically, without the need for people to think too hard. In fact, I'm pretty sure without this political solution, the nation will go into a full crisis mode. That is to end the archaic 18th century "winner take all" non-representational voting system and adopt Proportional Representation Voting — like the rest of the 21st century democracies do.

The effect of that could be profound. Finally, 40 percent of American voters (Independents), along with many non-voters, might actually have someone to vote for. Additional parties will form organically and third-party candidates will potentially realize robust votes counts. Here's why:

Under the US archaic winner-take-all voting system, the candidate with the most votes wins the whole election — even if that candidate did not get a majority of the votes. The punitive Duopoly cartel really likes this arrangement, which gives them a monopoly control over the multi-billion dollar campaign cash flow. To discourage third-Party candidates, they and third-party voters are blamed and smeared and denounced as "Spoilers" who handed the election win to the less popular of the two major party candidates. This continues for years and years.

As a result, winner-take-all voting suppresses third parties — and third-party candidates are almost always doomed to fail. Thus, the wealthy Elite eliminate the populist policy views they abhor, they are free to play the two parties that they fund off against each other. This is how they socially engineer their endless wars and their sweeping tax cuts and their police state. A majority of voters experience this as a rigged democracy that does not represents their will. They have withdrawn consent and are increasingly unwilling to compromise. As Pew describes it:

Bernie Sanders and Donald Trump understood the constraints of the winner-take-all system. Sanders, an Independent-Socialist-Democrat, and Trump, an Independent-Democrat-unaffiliated-Republican, figured the odds of successfully infiltrating a major party’s primaries were higher than the odds of successfully running as third-party candidates The popularity of party-outsiders Sanders and Trump shows voters are looking for views outside the two major parties’ orthodoxies. But when the voting system works against third parties, third-party candidates can’t win, third parties can’t grow, and voters who prefer third parties can’t vote their conscience without feeling like they are throwing away their votes.

...winner-take-all voting prevents independents from winning elections in part because voters are afraid to spoil the election for their preferred Democrat or Republican candidate. Practicality propels us to keep voting for the Democrat or the Republican....

In most stable Western democracies, Sanders and Trump wouldn’t have to foist themselves on hostile parties; they could just run on their own parties’ platforms. Simple. Most Western democracies use a form of voting that enables three or four viable parties. Of the 34 OECD countries, only the United Kingdom and its former colonies Canada and the United States still use winner-take-all voting—an eighteenth-century system that enables two parties to disproportionately dominate elections. Almost all other prosperous democracies use some form of proportional representation — a twentieth-century voting system that enables multiple parties to accurately represent voters’ views.

For people in the five eyes countries, the veil on faux democracies has lifted. In the UK, calls calls for adopting a more modern voting system have been continuous since the wildly unrepresentative 2015 UK election that dropped Brexit in their laps.

Canada has vowed that 2015 will be the last first-past-the-post election it ever holds. In 1996, New Zealand broke its eighteenth-century English winner-take-all voting bondage and adopted twentieth-century proportional representation voting, immediately adding several viable parties and making the legislature represent the full range of voters.

It is time for the United States to join the civilized world and shed its archaic voting system.

Simply changing the voting system, like Maine did in the last election, would put significant power back in the hands of the people. And it solves a great number of problems automatically, fostering fairness and equality.

So, there's that.

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Cant Stop the Macedonian Signal's picture

@Pluto's Republic

do have overarching narratives, just incredibly crappy ones. So crappy, that you probably don't even recognize them as narratives, since they have only slightly more complexity than simple scapegoating.

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The issue is patriotism. You've got to get back to your planet and stop the Commies. All it takes is a few good men.
--Q

Exit polls not involving George W. Bush or Hillary Clinton tend to be quite accurate.
--Doug Hatlem

wendy davis's picture

@bobswern

"(aside from cory robin)...Which reminds me, by the way, that Henry Giroux is another highly respected intellectual on the "real left"--I have blanket authorization to reproduce his work, as well, also with restrictions [I've communicated with Giroux around 30-40 times]"

please understand that the only reason i'd opened this diary noting that john steppling had kindly offered that i could use any of his work here (and where i showed him i cross-post here (noting that neither are for profit sites) was to let readers and esp. JtC know that it was the reason i'd used almost of all of his essay.

but i'm sure steppling (and other readers who admire him) would love being disrespected by the text i've bolded i favor of the academics you've mentioned. good night nurse. but giving credit where credit is due: at least you hadn't said (but only implied) "merely, etc.".

--and he's a big fan of John Steppling. So, that does impress me. Personally, however, the fact of the matter is that Steppling's a brilliant, professional playwright. Giroux and Robin are brilliant, professional educators, focused upon history, political science, sociology, education and media, etc.)

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wendy davis's picture

@wendy davis

a brilliant playwright steppling. i'd had cause due to a quote kenn orphan had included in a diary i'd pasted together, close to 'trust nothing', steppling 2019

anyhoo, here's the poor poet and playwright john steppling's 'The Shrug, or Who’s Your Daddy?' January 15, 2019

he only knows film, philosophy, psychology, art, literature, intellectualism, the amerikan zeitgeist at certain key time in history, the father figure as authoritarian violence (echoing psychologist swiss psychologist alice miller), cultural products as identity, and even amerikan crime teevee as exemplifying so much .

just one outtake:

"Identity has shifted, I think, from being primarily an unconscious product to one in which people consciously *shop* for various characteristics and qualities, the better to assemble a final self-created idea of themselves. But this latter process is not illusion. The unconscious is now front loaded with the artificial. And Hook notes that Freud in his study of mass psychology (where he borrowed rather heavily from LeBon) makes clear that crowd behaviour is a kind of emotional surge, one that includes the loss of clear intellectual discrimination, and also that the libido affixes itself in ways that encourage inflated feelings of invulnerability, but also of love — some form of, anyway. Hook adds…“This libidinal focus, which Freud will repeatedly associate with love of the father, will provide the much needed factor of a shared interest, of group cohesion, indeed, of mass identification.”

which is very similar what he'd alluded to in the Cockroaches Play i'd featured, as did cordelier's catch on 'This paper by Margaret Klein Salamon, a clinical psychologist who is
founder and director of The Climate Mobilization, outlines a strategy for terrifying the public into "emergency mode."

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Big Al's picture

@bobswern and gives credit to Bill Clinton. Ugh.

I don't know what he's trying to say, Sanders/Warren - good, the rest of them, not good? Sanders and Warren have a "vision" or ideology and the rest of them don't? I think this guy has his head so far up the democratic party's ass he can't see the real problems. As someone who believes the office of the president should be abolished, I'm not into a "Great Realigner" with an ideology, particularly not neoliberal imperialists like Sanders and Warren. Shit, we've got one of those now with Trump. I'm more into finding a way for the people, like me and my family, to have a say in things, i.e., democracy. Fuck their ideologies, what about ours? The democratic party is an opponent of democracy as seen by it's constant opposition to any improvements or major changes to this system, like allowing third parties to compete. Talk is cheap, the verdict on the democratic party came in long ago.

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Cant Stop the Macedonian Signal's picture

@bobswern

in 2004, let me assure you that almost nobody supported Kerry for his personality.

Those of us who were moved by his personality, or character, were emphatically in the minority even among his supporters.

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The issue is patriotism. You've got to get back to your planet and stop the Commies. All it takes is a few good men.
--Q

Exit polls not involving George W. Bush or Hillary Clinton tend to be quite accurate.
--Doug Hatlem

wendy davis's picture

@bobswern

on this, but only as per *domestic policy*, and even then, mostly small asks, not truly close to egalitarian. that the term 'socialism' has become acceptable to more amerikans, the DSA sort is just reform capitalism, nibbling around the edges.

on later edit: i should have added that the memes were first born in the Occupy Movement, although many claimed to have invented the '99%'mathematics, including liz warren and david graeber, i forget who all else.

true socialists are anti-imperialists, and support equality for the global working class, which is why the socialists/tankies on twitter are so vexed with the stars of the DSA. as in: they're place holders for what could be, should be. but they threaten no one except a few R blowhards, and i'm in total solidarity with the tankies on that. the system is the issue.

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wendy davis's picture

as commenter bob swern wanted everyone to read his long contributions, but wouldn't respond to any rejoinders. as kurt vonnegut was wont to say: 'and so it goes...' ; ) but then he'd spent part of wwII underground as the allies fire-bombed dresden, and learned to be both philosophical and incredibly funny...

still, thanks much to those in solidarity w/ j. steppling here, and tonight's closing song will be from hiphop commie rapper boots riley:

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Cant Stop the Macedonian Signal's picture

and there's so much that I strongly agree with and so much I strongly disagree with that it would require an essay of my own to express my reaction.

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The issue is patriotism. You've got to get back to your planet and stop the Commies. All it takes is a few good men.
--Q

Exit polls not involving George W. Bush or Hillary Clinton tend to be quite accurate.
--Doug Hatlem

wendy davis's picture

@Cant Stop the Macedonian Signal

may feel the same; to that, i can't say. but thanks for reading half, in any event, Miz Signal.

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Cant Stop the Macedonian Signal's picture

@wendy davis

At least he's talking on a level far above most political discussion today, whether I agree with his points or not.

He's not picking between two pre-fabricated sets of talking points, and then using them as a club to bludgeon anyone who disagrees, which is basically the state of American politics right now.

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The issue is patriotism. You've got to get back to your planet and stop the Commies. All it takes is a few good men.
--Q

Exit polls not involving George W. Bush or Hillary Clinton tend to be quite accurate.
--Doug Hatlem

wendy davis's picture

@Cant Stop the Macedonian Signal

is the 50% you strongly disagree with down to not believing what steppling had said, say about elected officials and/or candidates, or that some of what he'd brought...didn't matter?

big differences to me.

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Cant Stop the Macedonian Signal's picture

@wendy davis

sense that we are not approaching a climate catastrophe...not really.

I'm aware that scientists are sometimes pressured by the politically powerful, and that often those doing the pressuring are attempting to achieve horrendous, and indeed fascist, goals. I'm sure that this pressure is exerted on scientists both directly, through intimidation and character assassination, and indirectly, through professional/economic consequences. I'm just not sure I'm comfortable concluding that, ergo, the threat of climate catastrophe as stated by scientists worldwide must be exaggerated, and that that exaggeration must be in service of the fascists. If there's one thing the fascists are certainly protecting, it's the petrochemical industry. Methane and petroleum barons exist in an ugly symbiosis with the military industrial complex and the banks. The CIA, the NSA, and the Pentagon, the Booz Hamiltons and Lockheed Martins, the Kochs and Buffets and BPs, and the financiers who invest in them all...they are the ones driving this train. Yes, there are others of note--Monsanto and other Big Ag corps, pharmaceutical corporations, and Big Data acting as a happy handmaiden to them all...but the fundamental dynamic of the system we inhabit is the relationship between oil and methane barons, weaponsmakers, bankers, and what used to be the war elements of the state. (I call them "the war elements" rather than the military to keep from getting sucked into a pointless discussion of how the CIA and NSA are "civilian agencies.")

I am particularly uncomfortable with the means he's using--at least in the first half of his essay--to diminish the gravity of the climate crisis. I've seen less reputable people use the same techniques. Techniques like mocking notions without providing evidence that the notions are wrong (as he does when he discusses the insect die-off) or using tone to diminish the importance of a thing while stating that you aren't really against it, of course not, but...

That doesn't make me conclude that he's an untrustworthy narrator. Anybody could pick up those habits of speech (or writing) in the discursive hellhole we currently inhabit; these are, after all, the new verbal norms of our times. But it does make me more guarded.

I get the feeling that this guy is a genuine socialist who got mad because of criticisms leveled at the yellow vests. Probably he's also sick of the moralistic witch hunt that is basically the way we do politics these days, which does, occasionally, use belief in the climate crisis as one of its measures of sanctity. I don't agree with him that "not believing in climate" has the same force as being called racist, sexist, or a pedophile. I don't know of anybody who has lost their job because they don't believe in "the science." But obviously, being an climate unbeliever can incur a similar witch hunt, a similar lust to smash a person's character to pieces. It just doesn't happen as often or with as much force.

I think what frustrates me most about his essay, right now, is that the environmental movement should be critiqued. It should be criticized, and harshly. It is failing, and not only failing. Many parts of it are protecting the very structures that are destroying the earth. The environmental movement has been turned into a religion, and a very hypocritical one. The author knows that, just as I've known it for the past four years or so. It's a very good idea to point that shit out, and I salute him for doing what I haven't been able to do.

But connecting his critique with a poo-poohing of the threat to human life posed by chemical reactions to pollution in our atmosphere has the potential to compromise the critique itself, to turn it into nothing more than a more urbane version of hoax theory.

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The issue is patriotism. You've got to get back to your planet and stop the Commies. All it takes is a few good men.
--Q

Exit polls not involving George W. Bush or Hillary Clinton tend to be quite accurate.
--Doug Hatlem

wendy davis's picture

@Cant Stop the Macedonian Signal

that you seem to be reading him wrong. he isn't minimizing the burgeoning climate apocalypse, he just hates (as so i) that this green new deal amounts to fascistic capitalism, as in the three opening quotes. sorry i don't have the time or energy to explain further, save to say that This is Democratic Socialism: let the masters of capitalism profit, all the while the Deal never even intends to stop fracking, coal mining and use, nor natural gas us. it's all the market gimmicks about carbon trading, carbon sequestration, 'clean nuclear', and techno fixes like geo-engineering.

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Cant Stop the Macedonian Signal's picture

@wendy davis

and the Green New Deal, without question. He and I are absolutely on the same page as regards what's being passed off as acceptable reform politics--and acceptable reform policy. We're also on the same page as regards these new "socialists" who are actually social democrats, but only if it's a form of social democrat that supports war, torture, imperialism, mass surveillance, and a crackdown on whistleblowers.

I keep reaching back into American history to try to figure out where I'd place Sanders at this point. I thought maybe Teddy Roosevelt was a good comparison--but then I reflected on the fact that Teddy Roosevelt would almost certainly have objected, strenuously, to inflicting an authoritarian police state on the American public (he really did believe that American lives and rights were more important than anybody else's.)

Sometimes I think Nixon is the more apt comparison, which is both ironic and sad, if true. Nixon actually believed in energy independence for the United States; while far to the right of my environmentalism, he signed the EPA into existence and probably would have had little problem with developing renewable energy technologies. He also claimed to be a Keynesian, and from what I recall of him, it doesn't seem to me like he'd have objected to creating some jobs with decent pay. Nixon's sins were different; they had to do with war, human rights, the rule of law; most of them arose from his paranoia and penchant for relying on dirty tricks.

Nixon was horrible and corrupt and authoritarian; he was a warmonger. But I'm not sure, in retrospect, whether he would have had a problem with Medicare for All, renewable energy, or job creation.

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The issue is patriotism. You've got to get back to your planet and stop the Commies. All it takes is a few good men.
--Q

Exit polls not involving George W. Bush or Hillary Clinton tend to be quite accurate.
--Doug Hatlem

Cant Stop the Macedonian Signal's picture

@wendy davis

that Bill Clinton had "a vision." In other words, that Bill Clinton had an ideological, or philosophical, political narrative that drew people into its story.

That is not how I remember his success. Quite the opposite: Bill Clinton came to office proclaiming that ideology was stupid, bad, and divisive and wouldn't it be better if we had far less of it? (After 12 years of Reagan and George H.W. Bush, my generation agreed, from a position of profound weariness). We were told that Bill Clinton, unlike all those ideological sorts, was a pragmatist who would get things done.

Now of course you can say that that's a narrative; but then almost anything can be said to be a narrative, because story is how the human animal thinks. However, you can't get much closer to offering no visionary political narrative than Bill Clinton, who rode a wave of anti-partisan disgust to prominence while claiming, as his moral basis, that he was a non-ideological pragmatist--a statement that's about as vacuous as any I've seen. Pragmatism literally means nothing without a specific context. There is no such thing as pragmatism in the abstract. Advocating for pragmatism while setting yourself against those silly creatures who invest in ideological or moral principles means simply that you don't intend to be held to any moral standard--nor any ideological one either. Of course, it's different if you ground your claim of pragmatism in a specific set of aims and then pursue those aims devotedly. Then the aims themselves provide your moral compass, and "pragmatism" simply becomes the measure of your devotion to those aims.

But when you're a Clinton (because both Bill and Hillary do this), and you call yourself a pragmatist, or a pragmatic progressive, and tout your ability to "get things done" without saying what those things might be, without, indeed, grounding yourself in anything, what you're doing is taking advantage of a people's moral exhaustion, hoping that their desperate desire to escape the constant pounding of hateful reactionary ideology will make them miss the fact that you are a sociopath. And that hardly counts as a political vision, a grand narrative that draws people in. The two presidents who had such a narrative in my lifetime were Reagan and Obama. And Bernie, I suppose, but that is a much more complex question and I've babbled long enough.

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The issue is patriotism. You've got to get back to your planet and stop the Commies. All it takes is a few good men.
--Q

Exit polls not involving George W. Bush or Hillary Clinton tend to be quite accurate.
--Doug Hatlem

wendy davis's picture

@Cant Stop the Macedonian Signal

respond to: all of that clinton vision stuff was in bob swern's 'corey robbin' stuff. your long one above it i don't have the time right now to respond to except that steppling was not minimizing climate chaos, just the green new dealers, their big brands, and used 'science' never mentions the military's carbon footprint' to guide it. i.e., the green new deal's capitalistic pseudo fixes.

i'll try to come back, but RL's gotten a little more real just now. thanks for responding, maybe i can answer tomorrow. right now there about nine issues i'd like to write up soon as well.

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wendy davis's picture

@wendy davis

as representative of insect die-off ('there seems to be plenty of honey'), i agree, and said so. but as i said, he also lives in norway...

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wendy davis's picture

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