Worthy Victims? Two Professors Fired in Texas…..mostly crickets

Outrage over Nathan Robinson is fine….but others need help too

To begin, I have no issues with Nathan Robinson, have never met him, and think that The Guardian’s cancellation of his column over a sarcastic comment about U.S. support of Israel is an outrage--and he deserves support from the Left and from anyone who believes in free expression.

And he’s getting that–lots of it. Since the episode blew up last week, I’ve seen countless social media posts about it, from some of the biggest names in the lefty media pundit celebrity world, and articles about it in various media internationally. I’m glad. People who criticize Israel have been the targets of smear campaigns for too long (I have my own personal experience with that–from the allegedly radical Pacifica Network no less). So, Nathan Robinson is a worthy victim–as Herman and Chomsky wrote about long ago….no doubt.

But while the Left is publicizing the cancellation of Robinson, another episode, one with a much worse outcome in fact, has been taking place at Collin College, a community college a bit north of Dallas. Two Professors there, Suzanne Jones and Audra Heaslip, HAVE BEEN FIRED for questioning the school’s COVID reopening, asking for a COVID dashboard, and for simply being union members. I wrote an article about this, “Profs Fired for COVID Concerns,” and Scott Parkin and I interviewed the two professors on the Green and Red Podcast, “Professors Fired from Collin College, Retaliation in Texas.”

These two women are also worthy victims. In fact, they price they have paid–getting fired means you have no paycheck and no healthcare, along with the intense levels of stress and anxiety and potentially career-destroying attacks on your reputation–has been far greater than Robinson’s. While the context of being sacked by The Guardian, punishing any type of criticism of Israel, should appall us all and motivate action, Robinson should be fine–he’s the Editor-in-Chief of Current Affairs Magazine, he has a J.D. from Yale and is working on a Ph.D. from Harvard, and he’s already published several books. And he’s a luminary on the Left whose own reputation from this unfair debacle has been elevated.

Jones and Heaslip….not so much. Not much at all. When Scott and I wrote about and interviewed them, we put it out all over social media, with over 150 names specifically tagged. We asked, by name, people who are known Leftist media experts, faculty and others involved in the Academic or just education world, and activists. I made it clear that I was tagging people with whom I’ve had issues in the past and I acknowledged that they might not support me or the Green and Red Podcast, but the issue of two profs being fired superseded all that, and Audra and Suzanne deserved our support, with no reservations.

With all those efforts, we got maybe a couple dozen people to share the article and podcast–more activists than any other group, and more profs from small Texas colleges than elsewhere. How many left media pundits and Brooklyn radicals came to the support of these two profs from a small community college outside Dallas? Near as Scott and I can tell, zero

If you’ve read my blog or listened to our podcast, we clearly let people know how we feel about Jacobin, Chapo, Jimmy Dore, Krystal Ball, and other lefty media celebrities.

Well, this proves our point.

We do realize that we are mini-Davids, specks of dust,virtually unknowns, on the left media scene, but the issue at hand is a huge one. And two profs being terminated, losing it all, in the hinterlands of Texas doesn’t register on the radar in Brooklyn and its media-Lefty satellites.

If Jacobin believes it’s more important to publish an embarrassing, cringe-inducing, onanistic ode by Micah Uetricht to celebrate Bernie Sanders zinger during a debate with Clinton five years ago–“Henry Kissinger is not my friend”–and suggest that a single soundbite made it “all worth it”–that “all worth it” would be $180 million raised, millions and millions of human labor hours volunteered, immense psychological investment and often depression–but can’t even share a call for support for two female profs who were fired for simply criticizing COVID policies, what purpose does it serve, other than self-promotion and reveling in its media-recognized status as the voice of the Left? Maybe Jimmy Dore could give a shout out to a couple profs being crushed by the new McCarthyism instead of canoodling with the Boogaloo Bois?

Nathan Robinson should be defended….he’s a worthy victim. And he has been.

Suzanne Jones and Audra Heaslip are worthy victims; they have impeccable teaching and service credentials, are popular with and respected by their student, and held in the highest regard by their colleagues. They should be defended too, even if they’re “just” community college profs in Texas and not a well-known columnist an an internationally-famous newspaper.

In fact, it would be awesome if someone could tell Nathan Robinson about them and get a statement of support from him. He seems to understand the importance of solidarity, and I bet he’d do it.

So help out. To start, you can send a message to the Collin College Board of Trustees, click here

Or you can email them individually….










Posted in Civil Rights, Education, Free Speech, Politics, Repression, Uncategorized | 1 Comment

Professors Fired for COVID Concerns

President Neil Matkin doesn’t care about health, safety, or free speech at Collin College


[Green and Red Podcast interviewed Professors Heaslip and Jones today about this issue, and it will be published shortly. You can find it at https://bit.ly/greenredpodcast . You can follow Green and Red on Facebook, Twitter, IG, etc. Visit the Green and Red Media page on Medium. You can find us on YouTube. Please share, rate and review, subscribe, etc.].

For a list of articles and other resources on this issue, visit https://linktr.ee/knowyourcollege


Audra Heaslip and Suzanne Jones are well-established and highly-regarded professors at Collin College…..for the time being.  Both were fired this past week by Collin’s President, Neil Matkin, for expressing their concerns about the college’s (non)response to COVID, as well as for their union activities.  It’s a textbook case of retaliation and Matkin and the College administrators aren’t really trying to hide it.  If Heaslip and Jones can be terminated and possibly lose their jobs, their careers, their security, paychecks, healthcare, then everyone in the academic world is at risk—a tenured professor at celebrity university, or an instructor at a community college, or a K-12 teacher anywhere in America……..

We are all Audra Heaslip and Suzanne Jones right now

When the COVID pandemic first struck last spring, Collin College, a multi-campus institution north of Dallas with administrative headquarters in McKinney and about 60,000 students, shifted to online classes, but Matkin immediately made plans to get in-person classes going as soon as possible, COVID be damned.

Many faculty had other ideas, and Heaslip and Jones were among the most important critics of Matkin’s recklessness.


On June 30th of last year, the Collin Faculty Council passed a resolution against holding in-person classes on campus.  Matkin waited two weeks to respond, made no commitment to considering remote learning, and created a difficult bureaucratic process for professors who wanted to teach online for health or other reasons, forcing them to go through HR and get permission.

Image result for neil matkin
Matkin, far right, next to Gov. Abbott

Matkin himself is hardly the stereotypical college president.  He looks like a 1960s sheriff out of central casting (kind of a cross between Bull Connor and Herb Tarlek). He has a degree from Ambassador College, a school run by the Worldwide Church of God, founded by Herbert W. Armstrong, one of the first televangelists to get a national following in the 1960s and 1970s. So his ideological foundation is pretty obvious. There’s nothing remarkable, to be charitable, about his background.  While his political connections are not clear, he does seem fond of having his photo taken with Texas’s right-wing governor Greg Abbott, whose COVID non-responses have created a humanitarian disaster throughout the state.  And as faculty concerns over COVID rose, Matkin’s response, like Abbot’s, became more harsh and retributive.

It’s also worth noting that Heaslip and Jones are active in the Texas Faculty Association (TFA), and have been campus representatives and organizers. Texas is one of the states more hostile to labor and especially with unions like the TFA, or my union, the  TSEU (Texas State Employees Union), which have, in effect, a consultive and symbolic role.  At one point the state TFA website included a list of the campuses at which they had members and Jones and Collin College were included on that roster.  Matkin would later use that to make the case against her termination (but as soon as Jones was told that the website affiliation was an issue, she had TFA take it down). By the way, I am a professor at the University of Houston and a union member. According to Matkin, that statement is a firing offense.


To muddy the whole episode up a bit more, another professor at Collin, Lora Burnett, has been put on notice that her job is in jeopardy because, during the Vice-Presidential debates she put out a tweet basically calling Mike Pence demonic.  She received the now-to-be-expected online attacks and threats, and the school essentially joined in, condemning her words and not defending her right to have her own opinions. Burnett’s Tweet, Matkin said, was “hateful, vile, and ill-considered.”  Like unionization, free speech is in Collin College’s crosshairs too.

Amid all the Burnett furor, the COVID issue became even more important, and ultimately cost Heaslip and Jones their jobs.  In an August letter to Collin Trustees, Matkin wrote that “the effects of this pandemic have been blown utterly out of proportion across our nation and reported with unfortunate sensationalism and few facts regardless of which news outlet one tunes into.”  With such little regard for a disease that had caused about 200,000 deaths at the time, it was not surprising that Matkin ignored a faculty request to create a COVID dashboard—a record of the number of cases and deaths by COVID at the college.  At a faculty meeting in mid-September the Vice-President of Campus Operations, Toni Jenkins, saw  “no reason to promote and report presumed cases” and the adminstration simply rejected the dashboard suggestion. 


At the beginning of Fall semester, 130 Collin faculty also supported a resolution, authored by Heaslip, calling for the school to switch to online classes as COVID numbers remained huge, another requested rejected by Matkin.  Frustrated and frightened, many faculty began to speak about the COVID issue more publicly, especially Heaslip and Jones.  In November they began to speak to media about the COVID dashboard issue and Collin’s general refusal to do anything about campus safety regarding the Coronavirus. 

The Collin administration was angry of course.  Matkin, for his part, sent out a “Happy Thanksgiving” email to the entire campus community and in the 22nd (yes, twenty-second) paragraph notified them that a Collin faculty member had died of COVID a few weeks earlier.  The media began to pursue the various Collin stories with more energy and was told by PR person Marisela Cadena-Smith that the school would not comment on personnal matters “in concert with Collin College core values, particularly dignity and respect.”  That would not be the last time the Collin leadership would team would talk about “personnel matters”……


Heaslip and Jones continued to bring attention to the COVID issue at Collin, however, and that cost them their jobs.  Last week, on January 28th, both were called into private meetings with administrators and HR representatives and told that their contracts, which had been renewed in the Fall but not yet “stamped” (that would happen in March) would not be renewed (January 28th, by the way, was also the date of the first TFA organizing meeting of the semester). 

Both Heaslip and Jones have exemplary reputations and teaching records.  Their slate is absolutely clean.There are no legitimate grounds on which to dismiss them.   And Collin didn’t try to hedge about the reason for its actions.  It cited Heaslip and Jones for violating “personnel matters,” telling them that questioning Matkin’s COVID policies and going public with their dashboard concerns was hurting morale at Collin and making it look bad in the public, and that having Collin included on the TFA website was a firing offense too.

In Jones case, they added another cause—in 2017 she had been a signatory to a public letter, with Collin used as an identifier, calling for the removal of Confederate statues.  You read that right.  Matkin included Jones’s public opinion that confederate statues should be removed as a cause for firing—so on that issue Heaslip and Jones are on the same side as the JCS, most Republican senators, NASCAR, and pretty much every corporation in America, while Matkin is on the same side as Trump and most of the thugs who invaded the capitol on January 6th.  They were fired for their COVID concerns, union activities, and signing a public letter.  The administration said all that.

That’s not the interpretation of an angry victim. That was Collin College’s public rationale.


If you’ve ever been a professor or instructor or grad student, this story might not appear to be so shocking, even though it’s clearly horrible, but it should outrage you.  Universities, despite the rhetoric of free expression, are authoritarian to the core and anyone who irritates the chancellor, president, provost, dean, chair, etc. can get in grave danger. There is generally no due process, as Heaslip and Jones have discovered.  Complaints can be made anonymously. Your typical American courtroom, as terrifying as it can be, often offers you better protections than a university or college disciplinary hearing.  To some point, that’s the job of administration—to make life difficult on faculty, especially left-wing, or radical, or activist faculty and grad students (one of my proudest moments came when someone told me, long ago, that a higher-up in the Provost’s office said I was “the biggest asshole on the entire UH campus”). 

But there are recognized lines that can’t be crossed—and Matkin and Collin have blown past them here (repeatedly, it would seem).  Heaslip and Jones are doing what they do because it’s the right thing to do, protecting the health and safety of a much larger community.  No one who’s ever endured anything like this would do it for kicks. It’s all-consuming, scary, and potentially destructive.  Amid a horrific pandemic they sought to make themselves, their colleagues, and the students safer. They sought information.  They believed in solidarity among the various parts of the campus community. 

And they were fired—for asking too many questions, criticizing too many policies, seeking too much information, and telling people at the daily hazards of life on Collin’s campuses. They were fired for their ideas, not deeds.  As one would assume, the entire campus has been rocked by this.  “If they’re willing to get rid of people like us just because we disagree,” Heaslip said, “then I really fear for the future of the culture at the college.”  She added,  “It’s getting really bad. I mean, the fear is just out the roof.”

Establishment media loves to write stories about silly leftist campaigns on campus to cancel a speaker or get a safe zone created because they distract from the far more frequent, and damaging, campaigns waged by presidents, provosts, and deans against professors who challenge university administrators on issues of workplace safety or unionization, among other concerns. Fortunately for Heaslip and Jones, the media has been talking to them and covering this story, and the response has been very positive. Their union and the Foundation for Individual Rights in Education (FIRE) have also been on top of this and supporting their efforts to get their jobs back (See FIRE letter to Collin, February 4th).

The rest of us have a role to play here too. If you’re in any way connected to the academic world–like if you sat in a classroom one day–this is an important issue. The email addresses for the Collin College Board of Trustees are below, so contact them to insist that they reinstate Heaslip and Jones. If you’re a tenured professor, or in you’re in a Texas union, you can do more. They don’t have tenure at Collin College so those of us who do can use it on their behalf.

Martin Luther King often said that long after we’ve forgotten the angry words of our enemies, we’ll still remember the silence of our friends. If you can lose a job at which you’ve excelled for years because you got on the wrong side of a college president who refuses to protect the health and safety of his campus, who is aggressively anti-union, and who simply does not respect the idea of Free Speech, then you’re never going to be safe at anytime or place ……

Posted in Education, Free Speech, Politics, Repression, Uncategorized | 3 Comments

The Reality of the Tet Offensive: Military Failure and Economic Crisis

Tet was a pivot point of the Vietnam War, and it’s been misrepresented ever since……

At the end of January the media will commemorate one of the more important and decisive events of the Vietnam War, the Tet Offensive. On January 30th, 1968 the combined enemy forces of the Viet Cong, the People’s Liberation Armed Forces in the South, and the People’s Army of Vietnam from the North attacked virtually every center of military and political importance in the Republic of Vietnam, even invading the U.S. Embassy grounds. Within sixty days, President Lyndon Johnson would reject a request for a massive reinforcement of troops to Vietnam, begin to de-escalate the war, and withdraw from the 1968 presidential campaign. Tet was as determinative as any event in the Vietnam era and has maintained near-mythic status since.


Tet Attack on the Embassy

The consensus, still, is that Tet was in fact a great military victory for the United States but it was derailed by political factors at home, especially the media, symbolized by Walter Cronkite who famously spoke to America on February 27th, 1968 imploring Johnson to negotiate a way out of the war. While the enemy did suffer huge losses in 1968 (particularly in the so-called Tet II and Tet III offensives later that year), the reality was that grave American vulnerability had indeed been exposed and the U.S. could not expect future success, and there were people with more influence than Cronkite saying that.

American military officials, in their reports to their commanders and to the White House, were candid and pessimistic about the war in the aftermath of the enemy’s audacious offensive. In fact, for some time, senior officers had expressed misgivings about the war and warned that things were getting worse. They pointed out that the ally in the South lacked broad public support, the enemy was more integrated into local populations, and that U.S. soldiers were not well-suited for a war in Vietnam. Even U.S. Commander General William Westmoreland warned in early 1965 that sending ground troops to Vietnam would “at best buy time” and lead to more reinforcements “until, like the French, we would be occupying an essentially hostile foreign country.”

The Marine Commandant Wallace Greene attacked the U.S. strategy of attrition, comparing it to a “grindstone” turned by the enemy as the Communists had enough manpower to keep the stone going, even while suffering big casualty rates. Army Chief of Staff Harold K. Johnson thought likewise and commissioned his staff to prepare a study, the so-called PROVN Report, to suggest a shift from a strategy of attrition, search-and-destroy operations, and free-fire zones, among other tactics, to one of pacification, political warfare, and a de-emphasis on conventional military operations.

With this anxiety over the war already established, Tet hit the military hard, and despite public claims of success—Westmoreland had famously predicted “light at the end of the tunnel” in November 1967—the offensive reinforced many of its bleak views.

westy cong

“Light At The End Of The Tunnel”

Throughout the Tet crisis, military officials in Washington and Saigon recognized America’s perhaps-intractable dilemma in Vietnam. At the outset, Westmoreland reported that, “from a realistic point of view, we must accept the fact that the enemy has dealt [South Vietnam] a severe blow,” bringing the war to the people, inflicting heavy casualties and damage, and disrupting the economy. President Johnson, alarmed by the reports coming from the military in Saigon, media criticism, and the largest casualty counts of the war, dispatched Chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff Earle Wheeler to Saigon at the end of February to assess things.

Wheeler claimed the media was unduly alarmist, but his report, presented to the president on the same day as Cronkite’s televised special, recognized and admitted the grave problems post-Tet. The enemy was strong and capable of continuing its attacks; the southern Army meanwhile had lost about one-quarter of its strength; the pacification program had been badly undermined; and the Vietnamese government was in peril as it confronted massive problems such as desertions, refugees, and reconstruction. “In short,” Wheeler concluded, “it was a very near thing.” Harold K. Johnson did not resort to euphemism. “We suffered a loss,” he cabled Westmoreland, “there can be no doubt about it.” Wheeler nonetheless requested another 206,000 troops for Vietnam and the activation of 280,000 reservists, and immense escalation that Johnson was sure to reject.

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Posted in Foreign Policy, History, Military, Uncategorized, Vietnam, War | Tagged , , , , | 1 Comment

This Is Not a Coup

The Treachery of (Words and) Images

Wednesday’s events were horrible, dangerous, infuriating, and predictable.  People with weapons easily breached the Capitol, gallows were hung (perhaps performative, maybe not), and people were attacked and five are now dead.  The country was stunned, and both establishment and social media have been deeming this Trump’s “coup” or an “insurrection” from the first.  It’s hard to talk about this. Trump is horrid, detestable, and dangerous, and any time you try to reel the rhetoric back, you can be accused of being an apologist for a cruel, racist, inhuman bigot who happens to be president—which all makes sense. But doing awful things doesn’t mean we have fascism, and vandals and thugs breaking into a sacred public building doesn’t mean we’ve had a coup. There’s no saving grace to any of this, but it needs to be viewed in a clearheaded and coldblooded way.

Words matter and what happened was awful and surreal, and can be analyzed with a sense of history and politics, not in a media-induced frenzy.  Hysteria, panic and fear have been the Left’s approach to virtually everything Trump’s done, and he’s done a lot to freak people out, and what’s that gotten us?   Political awareness and action can certainly feed off fury—like much of 2020’s protest—but panic and utter fear aren’t good strategies. Now is the time to stay as calm as possible and plan for the future.

The imagery of January 6th was more intense and brazenly violent of any during the Trump era, because of the target—the Capitol, a genuinely terrifying sight.  Otherwise we’ve seen this before in  Charlottesville, the Michigan Capitol building, anti-mask rallies, or when groups like the Proud Boys attacked protestors in cities like Portland. We’ve witnessed immense numbers of Americans, Black Lives Matter and Antifa most often, but even 9 year old kids and Walls of Moms, beaten, gassed, shot with “less-than-lethal” weapons, rammed with cars, you name it.

And this, despite the anguished cries of talking heads, is nothing close to 9/11–and think about the way we talk about 9/11 now compared to 2001–the more distance one gets from events like this, the more realistic rather than frightening they become. Katrina was a humanitarian disaster. Read contemporary accounts of Nixon’s final days. Remember the stunning impact of the OKC bombings. We’re now seeing over 4000 people die, daily, more than 9/11, from COVID and these same bigoted thugs who ransacked D.C. have had countless riots over mask-wearing. 

For that matter, we’ve seen dozens of public massacres at malls, bases, and of course schools—with no meaningful response.  A classroom of second graders was slaughtered, and legislative crickets…. And of course the country was built upon the massive bloodshed of the indigenous, slaves, and immigrant workers. It would help to exhale.   If this is the worst day in American history, we’ll be blessed.

Seeing this as a normal event in America in 2021 is a better, and actually more radical, way to analyze and plan going forward than treating it like a coup d’etat, which has a far more unique and ideological quality to it. Violence, like H. Rap Brown said, is as American as cherry pie. 

The language of the Ruling Class:  The street protests of 2020 were called “riots” by much of the political class and media and “uprisings” or “rebellions” by people on the Left.  American history is full of conflict, with words creating interpretation.  “Mobs” and “Crowds” or “rabble” don’t imply class or political consciousness, and a riot is an angry passionate uprising which denies people agency.  Insurrection is not just a word but a legal term, used against the Left throughout the various Red Scares in American history.  You insist on calling the action of Trump’s thugs an insurrection, you can be damn sure they’ll say that that the next time you’re protesting the police killing an unarmed Black man or woman. A “coup” is in fact empowering, and gives an estimable status to people who deserve absolutely no respect.

If the ruling class called people who were righteously protesting, maybe 30 million of them, all over America, a “mob” that was starting “riots,” why turn around and call partisans of their side—more violent and without any social or political justification—an insurrection or a group staging a coup?  Why give them that stature, using the language of the ruling class.  People who defend the elite will never be charged with insurrection. People who reveal state secrets, like Julian Assange, or make antiwar speeches, like Gene Debs, will. At the same time, many people are exercised about “blowback” right now–the idea that any Lefty who calls for action against the mob is playing in to the hands of state by legitimating its repression.

I understand the concern but the State doesn’t have to look hard to find excuses for repression, and we on the Left should absolutely want to see the people involved in Wednesday’s actions be arrested (though of course not cooperate with authorities in any way to make that happen). I have no problem defending BLM and Antifa actions from this summer, while attacking Trump’s crazed mobs. To suggest that the Left should have sympathy for them is the same false equivalence we get from the corporate media. But in the end, the ruling class will do what the ruling class wants to do and it will find a reason to do it.

People who are willing to defend ruling class interests will always be called “patriots”; the Left will never own that word and needs to put it away.  Same with “traitors.”  There’s some utility in turning the tables on Trump and the rest of them and referring to these people as “thugs” and “looters” and “scum.”  People who foment a coup would have some brains and skills.  Why give them undeserved credit for the events of January 6th?  And if you want to be terrified, keep in mind that a real “coup” would make Wednesday look no different than Black Friday at Wal-Mart or, courtesy of a Facebook friend, a kegger when Dad was out of town.  When you use the language of the ruling class, you’re already in the hole.

The Coup That Couldn’t Shoot Straight:  By Wednesday, Trump’s inner circle, the people who continued to fight to overturn the election, consisted of him, an Adderall-addicted madman; his son, a coke-addicted madman; Giuliani, a pre-embalmed madman; Sidney Powell, a madwoman now facing a $1.3 billion defamation lawsuit, and Mark Meadows. By that time, everyone else had jumped ship. It was as if only Neidermeyer and Marmalard were left and the float was barreling right at them. So Trump incited a big group of people (which was small, tiny,infinitesimal compared to the Black Lives Matter protests last year) who were raged out, and they marched on the Capitol and mayhem ensued, abetted by some police acting more like maîtres d’ than law-and-order types.

One does not make a blueprint for and carry out a takeover of government on Twitter for weeks ahead of time, in the open, with no actually planning; but he can certainly incite the mob that way, and Trump surely did, as always. That was not an organized Coup d’Etat.  It was not an insurrection. It was not unpredictable. It was violent and it was ugly, like Trump’s language.  Some scary shit went down, no doubt. But look beyond the spectacle of horrifying images and think about the larger political context.

The people who breached the Capitol for the most part walked around like gawking tourists from Peoria, many looking amazed like the dog that caught the car, taking selfies, live-streaming (and doxing themselves), walking into the chambers, going into Pelosi’s office, carrying Confederate flags and doing other odious things.  Some got violent and pipe bombs were found.  This wasn’t a group of peaceful protestors holding a vigil.  It was a mob. They vandalized the place.

Though a horrifying sight, they had no plan, no organization. They smeared feces on the walls. They had bloodlust fantasies, but no way of carrying them through.   No organization, no reinforcements on the way. They were as much capable of fomenting a coup as Giuliani and Powell were an “elite strike force” ready to take on the Supreme Court. When the National Guard finally arrived—called by Pence, the Vice-President of the guy who was stirring up the thugs—the crowd was gone quickly, snowflakes with no stomach for a real confrontation. That doesn’t mean they should be allowed to walk away. They’re seriously violent and incited by an unhinged cult leader. I’ve seen voiced on the Left express concern about the federal government going after them. Really? They need to be all arrested and dealt with harshly.

If you’ve ever read about a real coup, or a real crisis in government, it does not consist of a mob of people storming a building and taking selfies by which law enforcement can identify them. Seriously, I’m not downplaying it.  It was horrific and fury-inducing. But there was never any possibility above Zero that the election would be overturned, Biden’s victory would be canceled out, Trump would remain in office, or that some government force would march down to the Capitol to stage a coup, or that “American democracy was in the balance,” as the more hysterical media people and the experts they brought in screamed.  That was not happening and the media who kept ratcheting up the alarm and anxiety and fear got good ratings from it.

Trump’s Allies Were the Target: When the MAGA thugs broke into the Capitol they started shouting “Where’s Pence” and there were people calling for the Veep to hang on the gallows.  Inside the Trump Death Cult, Mike Pence, Mitch McConnell, and now Lindsey Graham had become the main enemies for rejecting Trump’s begging to change the Electoral College.  Indeed, as Trump became more unhinged and desperate in the last week, he shifted away from the Democrats and put a laser focus on RINOs, in his fetid mind, like Kemp and Raffensperger, then Thune and Romney of course, and finally Pence and McConnell.  After being in the crosshairs of the mob and seeing their names on hit lists, you can be assured they’ll start taking right-wing violence more seriously, after years of inciting it. The chickens truly have come home to roost.

At the same time, it’s been reported that pretty much everyone in the White House outside of 5 or 6 madpersons were trying to talk Trump down.  Again, if they didn’t expect this and were trying to extinguish it (for their own self-serving reasons) it’s not a coup.  It’s political violence, but more like a scene out of a dark political comedy than Guatemala City, Tehran, or Santiago or …..

The Ruling Class … Again—the Military: Along with Green and Red Podcast co-host Scott Parkin, I’ve been discussing the ruling class’s role in Trump’s demise ad nauseum for months now, in print and on the air.  We’ve written about it and done a podcast on it.  People, even the Left, focus on Trump’s words and the ball of string he’s using to bait us, that they don’t look beyond that to see who’s actually making decisions, who has power, who will decide Trump’s fate.  Ugly tweets have accomplished more than ever thought imaginable, but that’s because there were important people benefiting from the environment Trump created and were willing to tolerate him while McConnell, Barr and other polecats did the dirty work.

When the military rebuked Trump last summer after the shameful and violent photo op, when Mattis and other retired generals and then Milley himself castigated Trump and apologized, when the Secretaries of Defense and the various services made statements on behalf of racial justice, when Trump kept insisting on keeping Confederate base names and recently vetoed a defense budget for that reason, it was obvious, with no doubt, that he had no force with which to remain in power.  Trump wasn’t trying to overthrow a government, he was trying to stay in the White House to lead a government that despised him. 

It was clear that the military was never going to help him do that.  And then just a few days before the Electoral College certification, the ten living defense secretaries, in an effort led by Dick Cheney (yeah, what were the odds in Vegas on that?) warned Trump not to try to overturn the election and called on the military to stay out of politics.  And just today, Pelosi told the media that she talked to Milley to “discuss available precautions for preventing an unstable president from initiating military hostilities or accessing the launch codes and ordering a nuclear strike.”

And the Bankers: Just a couple weeks after the election, in mid-November, various ruling class groups—Wall Street banks, the Chamber of Commerce, fatcat donors, and others—began to tell Trump to go away, even threatening to withhold donations to the GOP in the future if he kept inciting the mob with insane claims of a rigged election.  Trump did keep the flames going, and the failure of the oligarchs to step in at that point, along with Biden’s “just ignore him” strategy, were huge errors.  Trump was allowed to own the narrative for two months because he was just viewed as a souped-up version of a crazy uncle.  People should have been in the streets too.  There are a lot of lessons to be learned there.  The events of January 6th could have been prevented well ahead of time.

But this week, the dam broke.  Various business groups began to more vocally call for Trump to stand down, and GOP senators, hoping to avoid Trump’s twitter wrath up to that point, finally went public with their plan to certify Biden.  Koch-backed groups weighed in as well, telling Trump to give it up.  Then, most stunningly, on Wednesday, as the mobs ransacked the Capitol, the National Association of Manufacturers, as intensely anti-labor and anti-liberal as any group in Washington, the people who brought you Taft-Hartley, led by a longtime GOP operative, dropped the big one and put out a press release with the title “Manufacturers Call on Armed Thugs to Cease Violence at Capitol,” warning that “Anyone indulging conspiracy theories to raise campaign dollars is complicit,” and called on the Cabinet and Mike Pence to invoke the 25th Amendment—as if Snoop quit weed, Shrodinger’s Cat died, and Satan had a Come-to-Jesus moment, all at the same time.

From there, the oligarchs piled on, culminating on January 7th with a call from the Wall Street Journal itself for Trump to resign. And on Wednesday, the 7th, as the Capitol was “under siege,” the Dow went up 437.80  and the next day,  211.73.  As I write this, Dow futures are +161.00. Just today, the Grey Lady reported that “the party faces a threat to its financial base, too. Several of the most powerful business federations in Washington denounced the chaos this week in stinging language” such as the “extraordinary” statement from NAM. The ruling class got even richer from Trump and then ditched him and is secure and feels like it has things under control now.

This “dissent” from the military and ruling class, and even some elements within the Republican Party, are important, and should not be dismissed.  When the ruling class shows fissures, you have to do whatever you can, no matter how seemingly small, to act on them. Capitalists aren’t going to overthrow themselves and hand power to you (they wouldn’t be much of a ruling class if they did….).  People need to organize, outside of the Democrats and The Squad, in the streets and beyond the venue of electoral politics, to get things done. 

Getting rid of Trump was important.  Time spent on social media or elsewhere complaining about Biden and his party will be wasted energy.  Our needs are great and time is short, and should not be used chasing the chimera of a Democratic epiphany or some kind of bipartisanship or reconciliation (two more words that should be retired).  Last summer, when corporations waved BLM banners and set up scholarship funds and such, or when the NBA and WNBA went into their bubbles and conducted virtual seminars on Black history, that wasn’t revolutionary, but it did expose many people, surely millions, to ideas they would not have known otherwise, and they can act on those. It’s our job to follow up on that, to exploit in any way, even if it seems trivial at the moment, those spaces, those openings to introduce new ideas and actions and make them legitimate and eventually accepted.

It’s Not Over:  In the coming months we’ll see countless post-mortems on this, with breathtaking headlines about how close we came to losing America and such.  This needs to be analyzed absolutely, and with more reason than passion.  But we already know what caused it—years of austerity and Democratic failure to help the working class and its commitment to Wall Street, Clinton’s “triangulation,” and Obama’s political fecklessness—leaving the field open to someone like Trump, who used it to incite angry people who felt dispossessed by elites and racial minorities. As the great Gil Scott-Heron told us, “America leads the world in shocks.  Unfortunately, America does not lead the world in deciphering the cause of shock.”

Groups like the Proud Boys and QAnon offered a response and they aren’t going away, and in fact are now in Congress and other legitimate political spaces, while Trump’s flunky Ronna McDaniel will stay on as RNC Chair. Trumpism is here and we have to meet it with strength, in the streets if need be, but not count on Pelosi, Garland, The Squad or other politicos to do it for us.

I think it’s more than a quibble to reconsider what we call things like this.  A “coup” gives too much credit and political oxygen to a group of violent miscreants and thugs.  Talk of insurrection and sedition can boomerang back against the Left. Insisting on calling everyone a “terrorist,” be it a crazed guy with a van in Nashville or QAnon devotees in a Viking costume in the halls of congress, makes it easier to use that word against protestors in Portland and Seattle and New York and everywhere else.  For what it’s worth, the public response to Black Lives Matter, Antifa, Defunding th Police and other “snappy” ideas is now better than it’s ever been, so this summer’s actions did matter.

ABC News kept referring to the vile mob on Wednesday as “anarchists,” and that’s a greater cause for anger, and action, than a word like coup or insurrection.  The people, the groups, and the language that led to the world today won’t fix the current crisis.  That’s up to us–doing mutual aid, forming affinity groups, organizing unions a ton of associations, and getting into the streets.  They’re a mob causing a riot, we are leading a rebellion. 

Other relevant articles:




Posted in Constitutional Crisis, Elections, History, Liberals, Military, Politics, Protests, Trump, Uncategorized | 1 Comment

Swipe Left on the Democrats and Electoral Politics

They’re Just Not That Into You


There are currently two feuds dominating the Left—Jimmy Dore vs. AOC  in “The Brawl Over Medicare-for-All” and various segments of the Left vs. The Squad on its vote to re-elect Pelosi as Speaker of the House. 

If you want/need better evidence of the futility of the Left, it would be hard to find.  There’s a huge ongoing dispute over whether “The Squad,” a group of about 6 elected officials (hell, throw Sanders and Markey in there and make it 8) out of 535, should force Congress to have a vote on socialized medicine to put everyone on the record, and another argument over whether to vote against the incumbent (and politically inept) speaker of the house.  Social media is still in in an uproar over these issues with “support AOC” and “The Squad is dead to me” opinions seeming to alternate in frequency and intensity.

The Left continues to be hung up on electoral politics, despite not just its shortcomings but clear inability to make any kind of effective change.  One would think that two Sanders campaigns, the latter blowing through $180 million, the Clinton and Obama maneuvering to kill him off politically, the attacks on AOC and her cohorts by the Democratic leadership, AOC’s big defeat for a seat on the Energy and Commerce Committee, constant scapegoating of The Squad, “Defunding the Police,” and “Socialism” by establishment Democrats since November 4th, and so on would convince the Left about the futility of its efforts.  There’s not an issue with voting, per se, but once you’ve cast the ballot, it’s time to move on and begin movements, organize, go into the streets.

But, like Charlie Brown kicking the football that Lucy’s holding, they go back for more.  Sure, we all know how hapless Liberals are, but sadly it looks like self-described radicals and even people who claim to be Socialists are in the same camp—bitching about the Democrats and obsessing over electoralism.

No one will convince people not to vote or get involved in electoral politics, much as it might be a useful experiment.  But people on the Left need to realize that voting is a tactic—and that means a vote for Biden against Trump was a tactic too, which was okay—and it’s not sacrosanct.  And we’re at a juncture now where it’s clear, or ought to be, that voting and electoral politics—like forcing a floor vote on M4A—is so far from the kind of effective action that we need, especially amid a pandemic and an economic crash, that it’s a big drain of valuable time and resources and no way to attain or increase any political credibility. 

So, yeah, let’s just step aside from the Democrats, from The Squad, from electoral politics all together.  There’s a little more space on the margins to organize and do direct action and create community political groups with Trump out, but it has to start now.  The needs are great, the time is short.

It Doesn’t Matter

At an elementary level—like most lefty hysterics about the actions of elected officials—these disputes just don’t matter, they’re a big “so what!”  So many  Liberals and the Left think the politics of symbolism will make or break them.  They live in a world in which they believe that public actions by small groups will help or harm their causes. 

Antifa?  A gift to the Right….  

Impeachment?  That’s going to only help Trump ……

Punching Nazis?  Makes us all look bad; we should be nonviolent…..

“Defund the Police”?  Toxic, snappy words that will just turn people off…..

Tagging Pelosi’s and McConnell’s houses?  Childish behavior that will create negative public perceptions of us…..

Here’s the thing….. It doesn’t matter. Antifa was crucial in the summer rebellions and even got decent media play. Impeachment had no bearing on Trump’s future or the election.  Punching Nazis inspired some young anarchists, pissed off some older Lefties, and in the end it meant little if anything.  The movement to defund the police angered a lot of people for whom optics or “toxic words” is their only politics, but you could have called it the “Free Ice Cream and Whiskey If Cops Kill Fewer Black People” program and it still would have been trashed.  Left scolding has no particular virtue and when people are in the streets, literally risking their lives, they deserve support, not reprobation.

The likes of Spanberger, Lamb, Ruy Teixeira and the CAP clan, and Democratic talking heads have always, and will always, deride the Left for its language and action.  The Democrats have spent about a half-century now waging an aggressive internal campaign against anything to the Left of corporate shills like Biden, Dick Gephardt, Gary Hart, Mike Dukakis, Pelosi and so many others. 

So what are the politics of this Dore v. AOC uproar?  What’s the political calculus?  If you force a vote, you can put people on record, that’s it?  But the Democratic Party’s already made it clear that it’s against M4A, amid a global pandemic that’s exposed the utter failure of the U.S. healthcare system.  Biden said he’d veto it if it came to his desk (which is even more telling because he could have punted on the questions since there was always zero chance of that happening).  So it doesn’t matter. (Continue to page 2).

Posted in Constitutional Crisis, Elections, History, Liberals, Politics, Protests, Repression, Trump, Uncategorized | 4 Comments

December 7th, a date of infamy for East Timor…….

On December 7th, 1975, Indonesia invaded East Timor, the first step in what would become a brutal 24-year occupation in which it would kill over 210,000 East Timorese, over 30 percent of the population, with significant U.S. support throughout the entire period.

Up to April 1974, “Portuguese Timor” was a colonial outpost of the central government in Lisbon, but then the left-wing “Carnation Revolution” occurred and the new Portuguese government announced its commitment to decolonisation for all its colonies including East Timor, Mozambique, Angola and others.  West Timor was part of Indonesia.


With Portugal gone, East Timor saw a surge of political activity, with the conservative Timorese Democratic Union (UDT) and the Leftist Revolutionary Front of Independent East Timor, or Fretilin established first, with Fretilin more popular among the Timorese, much to the dismay of neighboring Indonesia and Australia, as well as the United States.  The two parties did enter a coalition in early 1975, but Indonesian destabilization operations saw the UDT accuse Fretilin of turning East Timor into a communist front and the agreement fell apart in August. With the support of Indonesia, the UDT began to forcibly take over radio stations, internal communications, transportation hubs, and the police, and it began a civil war against Fretilin, which appealed to East Timorese military forces that had been trained by Portugal.  With those reinforcements Fretilin forced UDT troops into West Timor and seemed to be in control of East Timor…..but that would soon change.

East Timor lay at the southern tip of the archipelago of Indonesia and Fretilin was clearly a target of the brutal Suharto regime in Jakarta.  Indonesian government and military officials saw East Timor as a threat now, despite being small and significantly weaker militarily.

Fretilin’s program of mobilizing East Timorese villagers would have created a popular democratic alternative within the Indonesian archipelago. The Suharto regime described Fretilin as communists. The reality, as Australian intelligence observed, was that most of its leaders were practicing Catholics; of the ten main Fretilin leaders, at least four attended mass daily. Indonesia feared secessionist movements within other provinces—the “threat of a good example”. In addition to what Jakarta saw as the negative example of an independent East Timor, Indonesian government and commercial leaders also believed that there might be abundant reserves of oil and natural gas under the Timor Sea (there were), and Suharto hoped to become a closer military ally to Washington in the aftermath of the Vietnam War.


Jakarta’s message about the “threat” of Fretilin met responsive ears in Australia and the United States, which was looking to maintain a presence in the region after its defeats in Indochina. American President Gerald Ford and Secretary of State Henry Kissinger supported the plans to crush Timorese independence and offered aid.  In September 1975, Indonesian special forces thus began incursions into East Timor, with conventional military assaults, and even the executions of five Australian journalists, within a month.  With that as prologue, Indonesian forces attacked and invaded East Timor on December 7th, 1975. Indonesian naval forces bombarded the capital of Dili as paratroopers landed and engaged East Timorese military forces, and by noon had taken control of the capital.Timor_-_Indonesian_Invasion

Days later a second wave of Indonesian forces captured Baucau, the second biggest city, and by Christmas another 15,000 troops were in East Timor.  By April 1976, that number had risen to over 35,000, with another 10,000 in Indonesian West Timor ready for reinforcement.  Inside East Timor, Indonesian troops began wholescale slaughter (not unlike they had done after the 1965 coup that deposed Sukarno), with reports of rape and assassinations of women and children and ethnic Chinese as specific targets.  The Bishop of Dili described “soldiers who landed started killing everyone they could find. There were many dead bodies in the streets – all we could see were the soldiers killing, killing, killing.”

Though the Indonesian forces were causing massive bloodshed, East Timorese forces had moved into the mountainous interior and conducted a guerrilla campaign that lasted throughout 1976 and early 1977.  At that point, the Indonesian navy had purchased armed patrol boats and submarines from the U.S., Australia, the Netherlands, South Korea, Taiwan and West German, and 13 Bronco aircraft from Rockwell International with military credits from the administration of Jimmy Carter. Jakarta send another 10,000 troops in to conduct what Indonesian officials called the “final solution.”

Indonesia’s final solution involved encircling and annihilating villages and mountainous hideouts, while defoliating the ground cover and causing widespread famine.  When villagers fled and moved out of those areas, Indonesian forces just massacred them.  In some cases, entire villages were killed, with allegations of chemical weapon use common.  By 1978, the resistance was finally quashed, at a massive cost in human life among the East Timorese.  Australian Prime Minister Malcolm Fraser was the first head of state to formally recognize Jakarta’s annexation of East Timor, though both Canberra and Washington had been on board from the start of the invasion.


While the invasion was ongoing, reports of the atrocities and a famine reached the outside world, and even became the subject of congressional hearings in the United States.  While critics alleged that the U.S. “looked away” as Jakarta killed tens of thousands in East Timor, the reality was more stark.  In fact, the Carter administration provided heavy support—military, financial, diplomatic—to Jakarta.  Indonesian troops in East Timor “were armed roughly 90 per cent with our equipment,” the Department of State acknowledged.  As they ran out of military materiel with their escalating operations, Carter authorized additional arms sales of $112 million for 1978, and Vice-President Walter Mondale visited Jakarta to announce new arms sales.  Throughout, the Carter administration denied that the situation in East Timor was dangerous.

Congress, led by Representative Donald Fraser of Minnesota, conducted hearings on the Indonesian invasion and famine and Carter officials denied that the situation was even serious.  In March 1977, American officials Robert Oakley and the renowned Richard Holbrooke told congress that the White House had accepted Indonesia’s  annexation by Indonesia and that “allegations” of atrocities were “greatly exaggerated.”  When a former Australian Consul to East Timor, James Dunn, testified about the “brutal operations” that had already killed perhaps 100,000 Timorese along with rape and torture, a state department official, David Kenney claimed that the Indonesian forces were “maintaining a defensive posture,” that “there was no ‘search and destroy operation,’” and that the Timorese “can move about” the country at will.


While Indonesia, Australia, the United States and most of the world whitewashed Jakarta’s crimes in Timor, there were outsiders who brought the crisis to the attention of the world, as a small guerrilla resistance continued to fight against Indonesia throughout the 1980s and 1990s.

While the United Nations passed resolutions in 1975 and 1976 calling for Indonesian withdrawal and recognizing East Timor’s right to self-determination, Jakarta, and virtually every other western state,  just ignored them.  By the late 1970s, largely due to the efforts of the journalist Arnold Kohen and activist Noam Chomsky, as well as Fraser’s efforts in congress, some Timorese refugees were brought to the U.S. to meet politicians, journalists, and human rights groups.  More attention, and support, was given to East Timor throughout the 1970s and into the 1980s but it still existed mostly on the margins of the Left. By the end of the Reagan administration, East Timor was becoming a bigger issue, and 182 house members and a group of senators sent letters to the White House demanding an inquiry into human rights abuses by Indonesia.  Reagan increased arms sales to Jakarta.

The Santa Cruz Massacre (or Dili Massacre) of 1991 marked a major turning point in the public campaign for East Timor. Indonesian forces found resistance leaders in a church and killed Sebastião Gomes, a pro-independence activist.  During a memorial service for Gomes on November 12th, over 200 Indonesian soldiers opened fire at the graveyard and killed over 250 East Timorese in a massacre that was witnessed by western journalists and camera crews.

Jakarta called it a “misunderstanding,” but the international outcry over East Timor grew exponentially. In early 1998, beset by political scandals and an economic crisis, Suharto resigned and that helped give  East Timor more political space. In 1999, almost 80 percent of East Timorese voted for independence in a national referendum and ended 24 years of brutal Indonesian occupation—supported and paid for in part by Australia and the United States—and centuries of colonial rule by Portugal.

Huge crowds of East Timorese defied threats of violence to flock to polling stations, dressed in their Sunday best, clutching their identification papers.

Read more at the National Security Archive: https://nsarchive2.gwu.edu/NSAEBB/NSAEBB62/

University of New South Wales, Canberra, Australia, “Companion to East Timor,”  https://www.unsw.adfa.edu.au/school-of-humanities-and-social-sciences/timor-companion

And at Swarthmore’s NVDA Database: https://nvdatabase.swarthmore.edu/content/us-activists-campaign-support-east-timorese-independence-movement-1991-1999

This is a Green and Red history moment. To get more G&R, check out www.greenandredpodcast.org

Posted in Uncategorized | Tagged , | 1 Comment

Jimmy Carter is a Liberal Saint Now, Was a War Criminal Then…..

For a deeper discussion of this, check out Green and Red Podcast’s episode on Jimmy Carter as Liberal Saint/Neo-Lib War Criminal, at https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=krp2XygLxgo&t=17s

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Jimmy Carter as ex-President has built homes for the poor, brokered peace agreements, overseen elections, and engaged in humanitarian acts without fail.  He never cashed in like most ex-Presidents do with huge media deals or constant P.R. appearances.  And that’s good on him.

But in the interests of historical accuracy, and to understand why today’s political system has (d)evolved for the past four decades or so, looking at his time as president really tells us a lot about how we got to where we are today.

I’ve been tweaking some lectures in the past few days on the latter stages of the Cold War and was reminded of the turmoil and disorder Carter brought to the global scene.

Carter might be a secular saint to many in the 21st Century, but when it came to engaging with the world during his one-term presidency, he was a war criminal.  In Africa, in Asia, in Latin America, Carter created violent programs, aided terrorists, and contributed to death and destruction at a high level. His stewardship over the empire also is instructive in the ways of Liberal militarism and imperialism. 

>He put the belligerent, Kissinger wannabee Zbigniew Brzezinski in charge of foreign policy and consistently made the Secretary of State, the more moderate Cyrus Vance, less important.

>Indonesia/East Timor: Contrary to the widespread belief that the U.S. “looked away” as Indonesia slaughtered tens of thousands in East Timor, an ex-Portugese colony it sought to annex, the Carter administration provided heavy support—military, financial, diplomatic—to Jakarta.  Indonesian troops in East Timor “were armed roughly 90 per cent with our equipment,” the Department of State acknowledged.  As they ran out of military materiel with their escalating operations, Carter authorized additional arms sales of $112 million for 1978, and Vice-President Walter Mondale visited Jakarta to announce new arms sales.  Throughout, the Carter administration denied that the situation in East Timor was dangerous.

>Angola: In South Africa, Carter continued support to the apartheid regime there and, even more, made a deal with the China to send it 800 tons of military equipment which it would transfer to the notorious Jonas Savimbi-led UNITA  to fight against the Marxist government in Angola, the MPLA, in battles that included air attacks, raids on refugee camps and a massacre at Kassinga in 1978 in which forces backed by the U.S. killed 800 people.

>Vietnam: Carter, who said that the U.S. had no obligation to help Vietnam after the war because “the destruction was mutual” in one of his first press conferences in 1977, then continued to assault the new socialist government in Hanoi.  After Vietnam intervened in Kampuchea to oust the murderous Pol Pot/Khmer Rouge government, Carter began cooperating with China, again, to do something about it.  In a January 29, 1979 conversation with Deng Xiaoping, Carter expressed his desire to punish Vietnam by encouraging other nations to reduce aid to Hanoi “as long at the Vietnamese are the invaders,” increasing military aid to Thailand, reaching out to Association of Southeast Asian Nations (ASEAN) members to unite against the SRV, and warning the Soviet Union that continued support of Vietnam would harm relations with America.

Deng e­xpressed his concerns over Vietnam as well and told Carter that “some punishment over a short period of time will put a restraint on Vietnamese ambitions” and that “we need your moral support in the international field.” The American president understood clearly what China intended but cautioned that “invasion of Vietnam would be very serious destabilizing action.” Deng reassured him that “we have noted what you said to us, that you want us to be restrained. It is not that we did not consider this.  . . .We intend a limited action. Our troops will quickly withdraw. We’ll deal with it like a border incident.”

And so, on February 17, 1979 hundreds of thousands of Chinese troops struck along the Vietnamese border. The incursion did not last long, about a month, but it was costly to both countries as the Chinese had about 25,000 or more killed and over 40,000 wounded and the Vietnamese had about 10,000 killed. Financially, however, the toll was greater.  The burden of fighting against China right after intervening in Kampuchea, and then the immense occupation costs of keeping Phnom Penh under control would plague the SRV economy for years.

>Nicaragua and the Contras: Though the Contra War and U.S. destruction in Nicaragua was mostly a Ronald Reagan product, Carter set the stage for later intervention in the summer of 1979, when the Sandinista Revolution made its final push to take over Managua and then deposed Somoza in July. Earlier, when the Sandinistas were in a larger popular front group, Carter insisted it take a more moderate position, which prompted the FSLN to leave the bloc.  Then, in June, he directed Cyrus Vance, the Secretary of State, to urge Somoza to leave but be replaced by a broad-based government and an OAS peacekeeping force, conditions that would deny a Sandinista victory.  Once the FSLN took over on July 19th and began receiving aid from other socialist states Carter authorized the CIA to support resistance forces in Nicaragua, the genesis of the Contras.

>Iraq: Though there has been no official documentary confirmation, various Middle Eastern politicians and diplomats have maintained that Carter had state department officials reach out to Saddam Hussein, who’d had long-standing grievances and skirmishes with the new Islamic Republic of Iran, to encourage him to ratchet up Iraqi pressure and aggression against Tehran in the aftermath of the Iranian hostage crisis, the failure of an armed rescue mission by the U.S., and increasing hostility from the Khomenei government. While proof of the “greenlight” to Baghdad to start the Iraq-Iran War is still speculative, it’s clear that the Reagan program to support Baghdad against Khomenei did not emerge out of nowhere.

>Afghanistan and the Mujahadeen: In Carter’s most militarist, hawkish, and ultimately consequential, move, he intervened heavily in Afghanistan after Soviet intervention there at Christmas 1979.  He took a hard line on Soviet involvement in Afghanistan, which removed the bloody Hafizullah Amin government in favor of the more reformist Babrak Karmal faction, in spite of the likes of George Kennan  and the editorial page of the Wall Street Journal urging caution, comparing Moscow’s relation with Kabul to the American role in Guatemala. 

In short order he then decided to boycott the 1980 Olympics scheduled for Moscow and dramatically increased military spending for 1980-81, providing a prologue and rationale for Reagan’s even more-immense buildups.  And, as Islamic fundamentalists from throughout the region poured into Pakistan to fight against the Soviet-backed government in Kabul, he began funding these mujahadeen groups and famously sent Brzezinski to the Pakistan-Afghanistan border where he told the fighters there that “God is on your side” and that they would defeat the Karmal government.  This of course led to the most stark example of “Blowback” in the era—the ultimate creation of al Queda and the Taliban.

So Carter has been unique since he left office in his dedication to peace and justice, especially in supporting Palestinian rights (see his book, Palestine: Peace not Apartheid), helping broker a nuclear agreement with the North Koreans, and including the idea of human rights into foreign policy considerations in places like Argentina during the Dirty War. 

Especially compared to many other recipients (Kissinger, Begin, Obama) his Nobel Peace Prize in 2002 was well-deserved. You won’t find two ex- (or soon to be ex-) presidents more unlike Carter and Trump in terms of their personal ethics and morality. Yet, as caretakers of the American empire and the military-industrial complex, they acted more similarly than not.

So Carter, who did present a different approach to foreign relations to some degree, also also operated within, maintained, and strengthened American hegemony and imperialism, and global instability, during his time in office.  It’s a great study in the structural imperatives of the American government, and Liberalism, and how even people with a good heart are war criminals when conducting affairs of the state.

Posted in Colonialism, Foreign Policy, Liberals, Middle East, Military, Muslims, Repression, Russia, Vietnam, War | 1 Comment

Hysteria about Fascism and Coups Hurts the Left

Since 1/20/2017 huge numbers of people, liberals and on the Left alike, have been adamant, and often apoplectic, that Trump was guiding the U.S. toward fascism, that he was the new American Hitler, and that his followers were Nazis.  More recently, we’ve been inundated with increasingly-panicked warnings that a coup was imminent because he was unlikely to win the election fairly or he’d refuse to leave office if he lost.

And we’re not just being told that Trump is a fascist. Some people on the Left have gone further and insisted that nobody should even question that perspective, that fact–as they see it. The most extreme, unhinged example of attacking coup skeptics was probably Counterpoint’s feature write Paul Street, who shrieked that “any asshole ‘radical left’ douchebag who goes around posting and publishing denialist bullshit based on the absence of full on parallels with the Third Reich disgraces themselves and pollutes the discourse with ahistorical drivel.” I guess then I’ll cop to being a disgraceful polluter.

To the people to whom I talk regularly and listeners of the Green and Red Podcast, the error of these views has been clear for some time.  As I recently wrote in a piece on this blog, Trump never displayed the basic traits of fascism—control of the state, a solid relationship with financial and industrial oligarchs to plan out the economy, mass repression of dissent, and so on. While far too many people ignored the historical and political nature of what fascism was, it was perhaps more disturbing that those who often vociferously argued that Trump was a fascist or Nazi urged people to…..vote, in 2018 and 2020, as the response to this growing threat. 

If you really believed in early 2017 that Trump was a fascist, why not act immediately and decisively, in the streets (which in fact many people were doing, spontaneously, as in the rush to jam airports after the Muslim ban or bum-rushing congress members’ meetings on health care before the mid-terms)?  But waiting until the 2018 elections and a presidential election almost 4 years in the future?  That’s a pretty empty and in fact dangerous response to fascism.

Trump is a cruel, ignorant, racist, detestable human…..who’s enacted some really awful programs and policies that have harmed people, and surely incited and encouraged some really horrible people who carried Swastika flags and believed QAnon theories.  But that doesn’t make him a fascist.  It makes him a cruel, ignorant, racist, detestable human…..who’s enacted some really awful programs and policies that have harmed people, and surely incited and encouraged some really horrible people who carried Swastika flags and believed QAnon theories.  Despite the fantasies of the Lincoln Project about the GOP before 2016, Trump emerged from political sewers that already had rewarded the traits he was demonstrating–from Nixon (Goldwater, really) onward–and, yes, including Clinton and Obama.  

Trump was not a departure from a pristine GOP past, but was a pure-bred “born in the USA” product of the past half-century of American politics. 

As as for the coup . . . now that we’re precisely two weeks away from the election, we’re seeing every lawsuit fail, Trump’s blustering being condemned by the media, large majorities of Americans rejecting his claims that he had the election stolen from him, and more and more of his own people—some GOP officials (most powerfully, the hard-core conservative Secretary of State of Georgia), some judges, some Republican members of state legislatures where there were “plots” to send their own slate of electors to vote for Trump–start to bail on his schemes.  Even if you believe in a Trump coup (and a new delightful term for such people is “BlueAnon”) it certainly died on the grounds of the Four Seasons…..Landscaping Company.

So what’s the big deal, why be so adamant and cranky about a couple words like “fascist” and “coup,” why not let it go?  Because the people who have pimped these views for the past four years have really harmed the Left in many ways.

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Posted in History, Liberals, Politics, Protests, Uncategorized | 1 Comment

Is Your Outrage Pure?

Planned Election Protests Shouldn’t Have Been Postponed

First, there’s not going to be a “coup” or any other type of stolen election.  The hysterics surrounding this issue have frankly become embarrassing on the Left.  No reason to go into the particulars here (though I did in a lengthy piece a few weeks ago), but it’s not going to happen.  Trump won’t be president after January 20th, 2021.    

But coup-or-no-coup is a pretty weak line on gauging political success. The standard for Pass/Fail shouldn’t be the worst possible outcome—the actual theft of government power.  The way some people are sizing this up, anything short of tanks rolling down Pennsylvania Avenue flying Confederate flags with the Proud Boys and Q him- or her-self leading the attack with Kid Rock providing the marching music would be a victory.

Having said that, there are reasons to be angry.  The great Alexander Cockburn, one of the founders of the once-great Counterpunch, used to ask interns and activists “is your hate pure?”  Is it unadulterated—are you willing to hate putative or contrived friends as much as obvious enemies.

Today, the Left needs to decide if its outrage is pure.  Outrage against Trump is easy.  He’s the most outrageous human on earth.  Hating on Trump is like enjoying ice cream and whiskey—it’s innate and the easiest thing in the world to do.

But there are others who deserve outrage, a couple targets in particular.  Obviously, Biden and the Democrats lead the pack here.  There may have been some virtue in Biden’s initial approach to Trump’s blathering about a rigged election and his lawsuits and unhinged tweets that he won easily.  Letting him air his grievances for a while did no harm.  More GOP officials and others are now shoring up the plain fact that Biden won the election. 

In that sense—no harm, no foul.  In a different political universe, I’d even assume that Biden and his political allies have been having long-term contact with backchannels in the Pentagon, Justice Department, even the White House, as well as having constant chatter with Wall Street.  But these are the Democrats, who I long ago ordained the #WashingtonGeneralsofPolitcs.

So it’s time for Biden’s appeasement to end.  Polling on the legitimacy of Trump’s defeat has been erratic—I’ve seen one poll suggesting less than 10 percent believe he won the election but another that suggest well more than 50 percent of Republicans believe he did.  Those numbers have gotten bigger as this has dragged out.  Biden needs to stop the nonchalant “I won and I’m just going to go ahead with my transition whether Trump’s officials recognize it or not” and do whatever he can—maybe just rhetorically—to say this absurdity has to end.  Even if it’s just sounding tough, he needs to do it. 

Trump has ridden his “tough guy” act pretty far, especially for a spoiled privileged rotund rich boy who never worked a day in his life, never succeeded at anything other than running for president in 2016, and ran every business he touched into debt.  The GOP loves to act tough, and the Democrats are the party of “civility” and morality.  Civility and morality are great—surely in grave deficit today—but the Democratic Party’s constant, open, intentional weakness has been perhaps its greatest political liability. 

Does anyone take anything that Pelosi, Schumer, Clyburn, Hoyer, or other Dems say seriously?  When Pelosi said the Dems said they would use all the arrows in their quiver to stop the nomination of Amy Coney Barrett, was there a single GOP official in American not laughing? Why do you think Pelosi hates “The Squad?”–Because it’s actually an oppositional, and assertive, group.

Liberals love the theatrics of the Speaker clapping at Trump or tearing up his speech, but real resistance?–Not so much.  So some kind of unequivocal and strong stand against Trump—“you lost, accept it, and get out” at least has some symbolic value.  As my mom said to my dad a million times, “Nick, the door swings both ways, so don’t let it hit you in the ass on the way out.”  Sure, we laughed, but we all got the point too.

Lefties have no problem dogging on Biden and the Dems, so that part is easy for them, and Liberals need to learn it too.  For the Left, we’ve gotten as much out of Biden as we were ever going to get–Trump’s defeat. An expanded public health program, let alone M4A, or significant laws to restrain police violence, or meaningful regulations on banks and corporations were never in the offing. Anyone a little left of the “center” that Biden inhabits has to realize that he’s just not into you.

But the second object of outrage is more internal—Lefty groups which had been organized to defend the election against any Trump chicanery or “coup” (it’s just absurd that that term has become the de facto description for an operation best exemplified by Rudy G’s speech at the Four Seasons Landscape Company next to a porn shop) all decided to stand down on the morning of November 4th because it was clear by then that Biden was going to win.

Several groups had been planning for months and had organized at least tens of thousands of people to pledge to go into the streets to protect a secure vote and a fair election—and they stood down.  To better understand the dynamics of that retreat see an excellent Twitter thread by the labor organizer Jane MacAlevey at https://twitter.com/rsgexp/status/1324021379440599041 .   

If you’ve had gut-wrenching anxiety for months about a “coup,” if you’ve been terrified by Trump being a “fascist” since January 2017, if you’re existentially certain that Trump will do something horrific and he’s an evil genius and he’s not going to leave the White House, why would you postpone your operations because Biden had a lead in a few key states less than 12 hours after the polls close?

Why, after all that fear and panic and drama, would you give the “all is well” sign and then call “at ease?” 

There’s virtue in intimidation, as the Right only knows far too well.  A couple dozen crazy people with AKs at the state capitol get immense media coverage and terrify liberals (and anyone who’s sane to be honest) yet the people opposing them—on the streets of Minneapolis, Portland, Seattle, New York, and a hundred other places—always outnumbered them exponentially.  Public polling always supported the people standing up for Black Lives Matter or wearing masks by big numbers. 

Yet, the Right intimidated and terrified Liberals in every encounter.  It, as it’s done for decades, created its own reality and then sold it to the country in general. Conservatives are the ultimate Paper Tigers, as the Chairman would have said, but they owned the spectacle.

Imagine hundreds of thousands of protestors, defiant and even angry, in the streets at 6 A.M. on Wednesday morning after the election?  Trump is easily intimidated despite the tough guy bravado and he’d have been in the Bunker in an instant. That’s not speculative–that’s what happened just a few months ago. But the protest groups stood down. 

If they’d maintained their plans, this whole absurdity might be much further along, or over.  And Trump can still wreak havoc–pardons, executive orders, firing and hiring people–without a “coup” and has plenty of time to do it given the long interregnum before the inaugural (and to think it used to be March 4th), so street actions could be directed not just at the past (the election) but the future (Trump insanity and Biden’s sure-to-be-corporate administration).

Trump’s playing with house money—he can do all these bizarre things that aren’t going to work, but he buys time to get MAGA crazies more riled up, to help two thuggish Republicans in Georgia run their senate campaigns, to confront the real possibility of myriad legal problems when no longer sheltered in the White House, and to continue his life-long grift by getting people to donate to his “fair election” slush fund.

The sights of people who spontaneously went out to celebrate Trump’s defeat was joyous, and they deserve fanfare, and not criticism. Not only did they enjoy deposing Trump, but went hardscrabble against the much fewer number of MAGA people who went out to harass them.  But organized political groups who’d spend the past couple years freaking people out about fascism and a coup, only to go to brunch instead of the barricades on November 4th, need to be confronted with outrage, pure outrage. 

The GOP isn’t going to suddenly revert from the party of Trump to Mr. Rogers, and the resistance better be ready, like yesterday, to get into the streets, because while the president’s days are numbered, the struggle for a better life is already underway and the bad guys have a head start. Bowing out of street action because of something as simple as projections that showed Biden winning Pennsylvania and Georgia is a really bad sign…..

Posted in Constitutional Crisis, Elections, History, Politics, Protests | 1 Comment

Green and Red–the Scrappy Podcast for Scrappy Lefties

Green and Red on YouTube

Green and Red Podcast

Green and Red Podcast isn’t hooked in to the hip Brooklyn political scene.

Green and Red Podcast doesn’t score cheap points by insulting Noam Chomsky and others who have been involved in the struggle longer than many self-described radicals have been alive.

Green and Red Podcast doesn’t have East Coast institutional or financial support to power its way to huge listening numbers and big donations.

Green and Red Podcast doesn’t get the publicity that trendy Left stars like the Young Turks, or Krystal Ball, Chapo, or the bros at the Jacobin Soviet do.

Green and Red just brings you hardcore activists, people in the streets, movement people, scrappy activists who are working with the poor, homeless, hungry, unions, environmental groups and other people who want to create a radical world.

Green and Red Podcast isn’t the biggest or best-known Left podcast, it just has the most important activists talking about the most crucial issues facing us today, both politically and historically.

Please check out the Green and Red Podcast, so the revolution can be televised.

We’re committed to talking with people who are doing the most vital work–activists in the streets in Portland, Seattle, New Orleans and other areas where the struggle is being waged; people doing mutual aid; environmental organizers ; union progressives; Left scholars who do great work but don’t get the attention they deserve. We feature radical politics and radical history. We’ve recently done shows on the rebellion in Portland, anarchism, the problem of cop unions, the Atomic Bomb, the New Left, the violent right-wing street militias, Trump and the election, and Indigenous Peoples Day nee Columbus Day, among others.

Please watch and listen and please SHARE, so the people we talk to can get the word out about all the great stuff going on in various Left communities.

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