Monday, August 31, 2015

Ted Cruz Threatens Birthright Citizenship


By David Starr

If "U.S. President" Ted Cruz had his way, the 14th Amendment of the U.S. Constitution would be altered to deny citizenship to those born in the U.S. of illegal immigrants. It's quite ironic what the Canadian-born Cruz is proposing. (Where are the birthers now? I haven't seen any signs saying, "Cruz, Go Back to Canada!")

The 14th Amendment, Section 1, is as follows: "All persons born or naturalized in the United States and subject to jurisdiction thereof, are citizens of the United States and of the state wherein they reside. No state shall make or enforce any law which shall abridge the privileges or immunities of citizens of the United States." (There is more, but this is the jist of it.)

The 14th Amendment clearly states the obvious about birthright citizenship.

Cruz and his fellow exceptionalists make illegal immigrants and their U.S.-born children scapegoats for a problem that has been exacerbated by economic policies imposed by the World Bank, the International Monetary Fund and U.S. foreign policy. The problem is poverty in other countries, and anyone desperate enough would want to escape it somehow. If Cruz were on the level, he'd realize that the real cause of illegal immigration is poverty and that austerity measures are at the root of it. This is what Cruz should be opposing.

But Cruz (and other politicians) will stay oblivious to this problem. He doesn't want to alienate his base and his donors as he contends for the Republican nomination for president. But more tragic, Cruz doesn't seem to sympathize with the powerless. His and the GOP's xenophobic attitude toward illegal immigration pushes them to step on those with no institutional power, illegals and citizens.

What about deportation? There are 11 million illegals in the U.S. How could this be done? A mass deportation of millions of people, legal and illegal, as a final solution to the problem? A gradual deportation? Either way, it sounds impossible. For one thing, there are simply too many to begin with. What about citizenship for illegals? Would that be a better, and fairer, solution?

The GOP, the party of the rich (with Democrats sharing that distinction), feed, and feed off of, the current world order of capitalist chaos. So, why should someone like Cruz pay attention to its consequences, like perpetuating poverty? No, the Canadian-born Cruz will carry on, acting like a "True American," i.e., an ultra-nationalist patriot (which perverts the idea of patriotism).

Fortunately, the odds of Ted Cruz actually winning the presidency are remote. (No candidate on the Republican side is qualified to take on a job like the presidency.)

His proposal for denying citizens of their birthright is an unfair and intolerable solution, given the circumstances. Stop the austerity measures, eliminate (or greatly curb) the poverty, and you will stop illegal immigration. If not, it will continue.

David Starr writes on various issues, both national and international

Thursday, August 20, 2015

Levin's Folly: the U.S. Democratic Party is to the Left of the Socialists?!


By David Starr

On Fox & Friends, right-wing talk show host Mark Levin made one of those bizarre comments the right is known for. He claimed that the Democratic Party is to the left of the socialists. "It's this hard-left, radical party," Levin said, that once supported blue collar workers. It is a kooky statement in which Levin has gone out on a thin limb.

Given Levin's "shock and awe" statement, it is necessary to write the following to counter his view:

Since 1992, with the ascendence of the Clinton "new" Democrats, the Democratic Party has gradually shifted rightward. President Clinton supported fast-track legislation to enact the North American Free Trade Agreement (NAFTA), which has resulted in the loss of 700,000 U.S. jobs. Also, jobs going to Mexico pay poor wages. The real benefit has been to the corporations taking advantage of the poverty there.

There were those among the "new" Democrats who participated in and contributed to the wild speculation that occured when increasing deregulation spread. Former Clinton cabinet member Robert Rubin was one of them. The speculation was a major part of the problem leading up to the 2008 Great Recession where the masses were the real victims. (Inside Job, directed by Charles Ferguson, gives a "nuts-and-bolts" look at the overall situation.)

When Barack Obama became president, he overly-compromised with the GOP. But almost any proposal he put forth for consideration was greeted with a no answer from the Republicans (the Party of No). Still, Obama was behaving like a "new" Democrat. That was his first term. In his second term, Obama did come out fighting on some issues. His refusal to go to war with Iran is one of them.

But he has been in lockstep with Republicans on other issues. Obama's signing of the National Defense Authorization Act (NDAA)-which militarized the police- was supported by Republicans. And the Trans Pacific Partnership(TPP), which Obama actually called "progressive" but is based on corporate domination, was supported by the GOP. 

There are a few progressives in the Democratic Party, but it has been difficult for them to carry out their agenda to fruition. Elizabeth Warren, e.g., has been outspoken about women's rights, Wall Street reform and other issues. But it is a tough struggle having to deal with both Democrats and Republicans who want to maintain the status quo overall.

While the Democratic Party has moved rightward, the Republican Party has moved near to the far right. The GOP's agenda is like some Gilded Age/Medieval mutation. It wants 19th century-like economics and way less government, like it was during the 1890s. It also wants a 14th century-like, blind conformity to religion. 

Meanwhile, socialists go further than Democrats when it comes to "bread and butter" issues, justice and equality.  (The left has traditionally prioritized these kinds of issues.) Socialists generally want free and/or affordable education and healthcare, union representation, favor workers control over the means of production and are anti-imperialists. Democratic socialist Bernie Sanders is more or less one example. 

With both Republicans and Democrats entangled with big capital, and being both capitalist parties, they are ideologically the same. They differ, however, in TACTICS, but agree on the same objective: "free" trade.

Levin's claim is way off base. Saying that the Democrats are on the left side of the political spectrum is like saying that socialists are on the right side. But that's the crazy, mixed up world of the right-wing.

David Starr writes on various issues, both national and international 

Monday, August 17, 2015

WTF Happened in Seattle?


The two activists who stormed on stage to shut down a Bernie Sanders rally may have a justifiable message but not a justifiable method. Sanders is an ally and should have been treated as such. Their action came off as grandstanding, and may hurt the Black Lives Matter movement.

They should take their action to the GOP candidates. The latter deserve to be shouted down given the amount of racial neglect, and greed, in the Republican Party. That would be a more appropriate target. (Even despite security.)


Monday, August 10, 2015

The Absurd Claim That the Newtown, CT Shootings Were a Punishment for Abortion

(Image: Mike Nicht,

By David Starr

Outrageous, bizarre and nonsensical statements continue to be heard, and read, from the right-wing.

Among them, Bryan Fisher, founder of American Family Radio, and James Dobson, founder of Focus on the Family, claimed that the shootings in Newtown, Connecticut was God's way of punishing us  for the practice of abortion (and the gay lifestyle). Fisher quoted from the Book of Isaiah to back his claim: "[O]ur iniquities have made a separation between you and God and your sins have hidden his face from you so he does not hear, your hands are defiled with blood." Dobson said," I think we have turned our back on the Scripture and God Almighty and I think he has allowed his judgement to fall upon us."

As with other passages in the Bible, the Isaiah quote is so vague that Fisher could conjure up anything as an interpretation of the quote. I could just as well say that God is punishing us with the Newtown (and other) shootings because of the million Iraqi deaths in the Iraq War. Whatever the case, Fisher and Dobson are crazy to make such a claim for the obvious reason that the Newtown shootings and abortion are two unrelated issues.

Another way to question the claim is to put forth the idea that God could have prevented the shootings, life being precious, rather than let them happen.  Fisher called God a "gentleman" who doesn't go where he/she/it isn't wanted. First, millions have worshipped God rather than turn their backs on him/her/it. Second, in the Old Testament, God is no gentleman, ordering the Israelites to slaughter neighboring tribes because he/she/it is vengeful and jealous. In this case, it sounds like God isn't too concerned with the living.

Fisher's and Dobson's claims aren't anything new. Religious zealots have made absurd claims before, and will probably continue to do so. They are reminiscent of the charlatans of the 19th century who sold "magic" potions to cure anything and everything. And they always seem to find an audience willing to listen. Fisher and Dobson do have their audiences. But it's based on the prioritization of ignorance, rather than reasoning. That's how religious empires have been built a la the Jimmy Swaggerts and Ted Haggertys.

Fisher, Dobson and other religious fanatics mentally live in a medieval past. In a 21st century world with its high technology and major gains in science, Fisher and Dobson are passe in when it comes to their religious claims. They adhere to 2,000+ year old writings whose authors couldn't even imagine what the world would be like today. Their claim is on par with using leeches as a medical aid or throwing someone into a lake to see if he/she is a witch. (If he/she floats, that's a witch. If not, then he/she is innocent, but dead.)

It goes without saying, but I'll say it anyway, that Fisher's and Dobson's goal is to outlaw Roe v Wade. Similar to a pre-Roe v Wade world, a post-Roe v Wade world would bring back "back alley" abortions, coat hangers, unclean procedures and quite a number of women's deaths. It would be especially hard on low-income women as opposed to high-income women (who can get an abortion secretly and with the proper procedures).

The murders in Newtown were the result of a sick individual who finally cracked. Like other shootings, it is predicated on an acceptance and the glorification of violence in society.

It is a comedy of the absurd that Fisher and Dobson preach in. It's a shame that it's also tragic.

David Starr writes on various issues, both national and international

Tuesday, July 21, 2015

Supporting Right-wing Nationalism in Ukraine

Svoboda march in honor of WWII Nazi collaborator Stepan Bandera
(Image: www.tennisforum,com)

By David Starr

The Obama Administration and U.S. neoconservatives are supporting democracy and freedom fighters in the Ukrainian conflict. So they say. 

They and the U.S. media have pegged Russia as the aggressor in the conflict, while downplaying the fact that the Ukrainian government the U.S. is supporting contains neo-fascists and neo-Nazis. Professor Michel Chossudovsky (Global Research, 2/26/2015) put it more bluntly: "The U.S. has installed a Neo-Nazi government in Ukraine."

Two major entities, Svoboda (meaning "Freedom"), formerly the neo-Nazi Social National Party of Ukraine (the name inspired by WWII Nazi collaborator Stepan Bandera), and the neo-fascist Pravy Sektor (Right Sector) have de facto control over key government posts such as the Armed Forces, Police and Justice, and hold positions in Education, Defense, Law Enforcement, Education and Economic Affairs, Chossudovsky wrote.

One of the common threads within the Ukrainian Nazi/fascist movement is that it's anti-Russian. The armed conflict between the Ukrainian army and right-wing paramilitaries against ethnic Russian rebels in Ukraine bears this out. One major reason for this conflict was revealed by Robert Parry (Consortium News - republished in Reader Supported News, 7/13/2015): "[W]e now know that Kiev [Ukraine's capital] has dispatched a military force spearheaded by neoNazis, who are eager to ethnically cleanse those ethnic Russians from Ukraine..."

In an RT interview (2/20/2015), journalist Neil Clark condemned the West for not spelling out what is really being supported in Ukraine. "We are not supposed to notice the very strong element of neo-Nazism, fascist and far-right elements on the pro-Western side in UKraine." He added, "[T]he West knows what is going on and we are supposed to turn a blind eye..." The Obama Administration is compliant in this.  

And Obama has allowed neoconservatives to take a lead in directing his foreign policy. They have insisted that the U.S. defend the Ukrainian government. This ties in with the U.S., the EU and NATO wanting to control Ukraine with a wishful, long-term strategy, being on Russia's border. They would then want to impose regime change in Russia itself, if it were possible. And regime change are code words for imperial war. Russia, knowing this, supports the ethnic Russians in Ukraine (seeing that Ukrainian Nazi/fascist movement is an obvious threat) and is protecting its own interests (which are not entirely altruistic). One doesn't need to wonder what the U.S. would do if Mexico or Canada established a socialist government on its borders. Besides, there already is an imbalance of power in the world today, with the U.S. leading it.

While Ukrainian sovereignty is an important factor, it is comprised of right-wing nationalism, given those who are in power along with their supporters. It is, thus, equally, if not more, important to oppose neo-fascism and neo-Nazism in Ukraine, whether it is in the government or not.

As Robert Parry concluded, if Obama doesn't change course on his policy toward Ukraine and Russia, "he will leave behind a grim legacy of a bloated military-industrial complex and a new Cold War."

David Starr writes on various issues, both national and international

Wednesday, July 15, 2015

Thursday, July 2, 2015

John McCain's Fetish for War


By David Starr

John "Bombs Away!" McCain is the prototype of the gung-ho, imperial war monger. He is fetishistic about war. Whether dealing with Iran, Syria, Russia or Ukraine, McCain salivates as a sabre-rattler.

McCain wants the United States to get more involved in the Ukraine. Having rubbed elbows with its neo-fascist rulers, McCain wants weapons sent to Ukrainian forces and threatens Russia's President Vladimir Putin with imperial war. McCain also wants military intervention in Syria to support the "Free Syrian Army." And McCain isn't in the mood to have dialogue with Iran, wanting military action against it.

On these "fronts," McCain has chided U.S. President Barack Obama for not accepting McCain's "final solutions." "This is more of the same old, same old from ultra-hawk McCain," writes Justin Baragona in Politicus (4/22/2014). "Whatever POTUS decides, McCain has to make the talk show rounds and point out how wrong Obama is."

In the Daily Banter (6/03/2013), Ben Cohen makes eight points to show that McCain is "an unhinged warmonger":

"1) McCain is trying to up American involvement in the civil war raging in Syria. Apparently not bothered by the disasters of U.S. involvement in Iraq and Afghanistan, and the raging anti-Americanism in the Middle East, McCain thinks more involvement will improve the situation. Or maybe he doesn't care about that either, and just wants more war.

2) He helped the Bush Administration build a case for war in Iraq, despite any evidence of WMDs or Saddam's links to Al-Qaeda, building a fictitious case against Saddam that led to one of the greatest strategic disasters in U.S. military history.

3) Unwilling to accept that America's role in Iraq was increasingly pointless, McCain was a huge supporter of 'the surge' in 2007.

4) McCain believes in America's divine right to occupy a country for as long as it likes in order to achieve its objectives. [He favored occupying Iraq for 100 years.]

5) McCain has long been a proponent of attacking Iran, being 'a) fabulously uninformed and b) dangerously bellicose' [quoting Joe Klein].

6) Regardless of its illegality, McCain has advocated bombing the infrastructure of enemy countries. Under Article 54 of Protocol I of the 1977 Geneva Conventions, it is prohibited to attack, destroy, remove or render useless objects indispensable to the survival of the civilian population.

7) McCain doesn't believe in torture unless the CIA does it.

8) There is good evidence to believe that John McCain's thirst for war is almost entirely down to political ambition."

McCain's service in Vietnam earned him numerous awards and citations. But the "war hero," before being captured, "spent his 22 missions bombing mostly civilian targets in North Vietnam," according to Phillip Gerardi in a Global Research article (6/01/2013). (Gerardi's article also asserts that McCain was possibly a collaborator for the North Vietnamese, getting preferential treatment for his information. Alexander Cockburn also provides details in Counterpunch, 4/19/2008.)

It is high time that U.S. citizens stop supporting imperial war. And that means not supporting John McCain and other warmongers.

David Starr writes on various issues, both national and international 

Thursday, June 18, 2015

Right-Wing Libertarianism: A 19th Century-Like Disorder

(Image: Chatanooga Times Free Press - Bennett)

Less or no government and individual rights; these would be things among others that provide a general description of libertarianism.

But under the surface of these things, it's a different matter. As with other philosophies, libertarianism has its tendencies. The libertarianism that exists in the United States is of the right-wing strain. Under the surface, there is the anarchy and chaos of a depraved world contradicting a utopian vision of people pursuing their self-interests which benefits all.

RW (right-wing) libertarians sound similar to conservatives when obsessing about government. They say government is too big with its social programs, the EPA and other "boondoggles." They obsess over government interfering with business. Thus, they want deregulation.

But years of deregulation was one factor that ultimately caused the 2008 Great Recession.

RW libertarians want a "bare-bones" government, if any. But government has a public obligation to promote the general welfare; to uphold laws enacted in a legislature that benefit the public, to implement free/affordable healthcare and educational systems, to implement regulation against corporations that are more likely to be held unaccountable than otherwise. It is rather perverse to profit off of healthcare and education. But RW libertarians support this kind of profiteering.

Government also helps to protect a country's sovereignty. Federalism helped the U.S. to organize into a secure nation. It helped lead into discarding the Articles of Confederation (the latter of which allowed near-chaos and kept the newly-formed states vulnerable to potential attack by European colonial powers) and implementing the U.S. Constitution. Thus, a strong central government has had its positives. (But that's not to say that it should control everything.)

Government isn't going away anytime soon. So, we may as well put it to good use.

The perception of individuality from a RW libertarian position is rather simplistic. They say you can do anything you want, as long as it doesn't hurt other people. This doesn't take into account how humans interact with each other and how that interaction relates to the current world order. A person may, e.g., be head of a corporation that imports bananas. This person may feel fulfilled about the work he/she is doing. This individual feels satisfied. But what about the workers who are paid slave wages to pick the bananas? Here there are people whose individuality is not respected. But the head of the corporation ignores this and follows his/her own self-interest.

A negative trait, in this case selfishness, is prioritized within human nature. Strictly following one's self-interest will have negative traits prioritized over positive traits. Inevitably, this causes conflict, particularly class conflict.

Today we have a bourgeoi