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Post What is "Abolition Democracy"? From Gary Moore
Created by John Eipper on 12/30/21 3:55 AM

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What is "Abolition Democracy"? From Gary Moore (John Eipper, USA, 12/30/21 3:55 am)

Gary Moore writes:

A classic fast-shuffle occurred on WAIS on December 28th, deserving examination.

Our moderator replied to Francisco Wong Díaz:

"Francisco, sorry always to be sassy in my coletillas, but who in the world believes that Putin has created a Marxist Utopia? In the US, nobody on the left is a Putin fan, although some on the right admire his strength and chutzpah."

The shuffle is in John's remark that nobody "believes Putin has created a Marxist utopia"--a proposition so obvious that it's like saying the sky is blue. But unfortunately, Francisco had not been claiming that "Putin has created a Marxist utopia." He was saying that Stalin's example discredits the idea of Marxist utopia (with Putin obfuscating in retrospect).

It's an ancient rhetorical trick to first mischaracterize or distort an opponent's argument, and then, second, to reply to the distortion as if they really had said that, to show how supposedly crazy or illegitimate the opponent is. In this case the switch was clearly an inadvertence, but its seemingly unconscious nature becomes all the more important.

JE's switching of these two ideas--taking Francisco's denunciation of Stalin and turning it into a crazy claim that American leftists are somehow exalting a laughable Putin utopia--suggests evasion on a grand scale. A bewildering mental defense mechanism glimpsed here may be increasingly representative of our emerging era. John wryly feels "sassy" in reminding that "nobody on the left is a Putin fan," and thus he dismisses, or obscures, any warning at all that communism's past may have relevance to today's United States. If he really feels such cavalier dismissal is logical, a selective blindness is at work, which can be eloquently answered.

For instance, listen to Patrisse Cullors, the main founder of Black Lives Matter:

"I read, I study, adding Mao, Marx, and Lenin to my knowledge," Cullors explained of her recruitment in the early 2000s by aging former Weatherman Eric Mann. By now, she has focused on Marx's concept of Abolition Democracy, as Cullors has explained in none other than the Harvard Law Review, April 6, 2019. She wrote:

"For our political strategies and struggles against racism, patriarchy, and capitalism to be effective, we must deeply ground ourselves in an abolitionist vision and praxis. The combination of theory and practice takes consistent and committed work to upend the systems that make prisons, policing, and domestic and international warfare possible. These phenomena spell displacement, despair, diasporas, trauma, and death for our families and communities in the United States and globally."

Cullors and Marx don't use the term "abolition" as Harriett Beecher Stowe did for the abolition of slavery.

"Abolition Democracy," the envisioned utopian goal, is to be reached by abolishing the entire American social and political system, only part of which process is abolition of the police and abolition of prisons. However unlikely it might seem that the enthusiasts could ever reach such a goal, they are definitely going for it--whether or not our moderator might feel sassily confident in not seeing it--and the damage could be considerable along the way.

Academics from USC to Georgetown to Columbia have been outspoken in pushing the Abolition Democracy agenda. Cullors's 2018 book When They Call You a Terrorist (the title itself is a red herring) has a foreword by Angela Davis, as doctrinaire in dotage as back in the old Black Panther days. Abolition Democracy is the fine-print version of "woke." Cullors's bizarre Harvard Law Review article was only one of several in an entire issue in which professors at mainstream universities explained and promoted this concept as the way forward. Cullors continues:

"We organizers and freedom fighters believe that an abolitionist framework and strategy is necessary to challenge the conditions faced by Black communities in this country, and that only through an abolitionist struggle will we repair our communities and undermine the systems of oppression we know have facilitated devastation, from the transatlantic slave trade through the prison industrial complex."

Time magazine summarized Cullors' stated synthesis of writers including Marx, Lenin and Mao: "Reading those social philosophers ‘provided a new understanding around what our economies could look like,' she says."

What Cullors does not say is that trained Abolition Democracy visionaries like herself and the other two founders of Black Lives Matter can count on an interesting segment of American opinion that doesn't see the doctrinaire goals and views, and doesn't want to see such unpleasantness. This segment, that has already helped radical, if not abolitionist candidates to capture district attorney offices in many major cities, winning election on the idea of dismantling or demonizing law enforcement, may signal the wave of the future. If it is also an eerie nationwide revival of the Stockholm Syndrome, the Abolition Democracy Marxists would not see it that way. They might instead speak of the necessary captivation of middle-ground bourgeois opinion with sentimental rhetoric. And it's true: American prisons are too crowded, and something has to be done. And yet nothing seems to work. So the Marxists have an answer for that. And if the nice people they court, who are only a bit left of center, become desperate enough to buy the perfect world program, evasion can always smile and say it's not utopian.

Our moderator daily faces the herculean task of saying something thorough, thoughtful, and enlightening on each entry in a flood of posts on a daunting array of subjects. He does this with amazing skill. However, the challenge of dashing off all those coletillas so rapidly may sometimes reveal inadvertently.

JE comments:  Gary, you and I read Francisco's "confirmation of Russian reality" in a different time frame.  The reality of Stalin's murdered millions--or the reality of Putin's ruthless suppression of dissent?

Regardless, your criticism is both valid and keeps me on my toes.  What's more, you raise the important matter of "Abolition Democracy."  Finally we have a potential theoretical basis for Black Lives Matter.  And it's informed by Marxism.  Do the BLM footsoldiers have a clue about Cullors?  I very much doubt it--but not many of the stormers of the Hermitage had read Lenin, either.

Here's the Cullors Harvard Law Review essay.  Let's assign it to the WAIS Reading Circle for discussion.  Bizarre?  Delusional?  Terrifying...or visionary?

Abolition And Reparations: Histories of Resistance, Transformative Justice, And Accountability - Harvard Law Review

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  • Unpacking the Cullors Essay, "Abolition and Reparations" (from Gary Moore) (John Eipper, USA 01/01/22 8:24 AM)

    Gary Moore writes:

    John E invited WAISers to read the Harvard Law Review essay by Black Lives Matter founder Patrisse Cullors, "Abolition And Reparations: Histories of Resistance, Transformative Justice, And Accountability."

    The article, emoting about personal and
    family disasters, is typical of her writing.
    She's got a degree in philosophy/religion and
    is basically a preacher, using emotion to cover
    the loose ends. That's also a Marxist technique:
    howl about horrors to avoid describing the
    kind of world you want to build.

    The other
    articles in that same HLR issue focus a little
    more sharply on Abolition Democracy, but they too
    are tantalizing. Is it because the anarchists simply
    don't know or care what will come after the world
    is burnt down? Or is it because, like the medieval
    pope, they feel the squeamish populace isn't ready
    for the details? Or is it because all this is simply an
    enthusiasm, or powerful fashion, and has no center to describe?

    With so many high-powered people buying into the woke program or its diluted promotional face, the possibility remains open that somehow what had seemed to be discredited Marxism may be
    an instinctively grasped next step for a changing world. I wouldn't want to relive Venezuela for a decade to find out, but growing opinion
    may leave no alternative to giving the benefit of the doubt.

    It was hard to articulate my misgivings about John's exchange with Francisco Wong Díaz,
    but it wound up giving an important opportunity for putting an issue
    on the table: Why do few people who are buying the obscured 
    Abolition Democracy package have any knowledge of what it is,
    when so many activists and academics are talking about it openly?
    The faithful are betting that confusing times can have revolutionary
    results. Is it just the current fashion or the real future that has brought
    back Angela Davis?

    JE comments:  Prior to reading the essay, I threw some adjectives out there for WAISer consideration:  Bizarre?  Delusional?  Terrifying...or visionary?  I finally got around to reading the Cullors essay, and I would characterize it as unfocused:  although it claims to offer a Marxist "abolition" model for social justice, it never says what this model will look like...no Day in the Life of the Brave New Abolished World.

    The bulk of the essay is a series of personal anecdotes of marginalized people getting a bad shake from our institutions.  Cullors' repeated appeals are for more compassion and a better safety net.  Hard to argue with that...but what does it have to do with "abolition"?

    Last year Cullors left her post as Executive Director of BLM after a controversy surfaced about her purchase of several expensive properties.  No embezzlement has been proven, but the "optics" are disastrous.  It's hard to finance millions in real estate on the salary of an adjunct professor.

    Here, once again, is the essay:


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    • Three Remarks for Patrisse Cullors, BLM Founder (Tor Guimaraes, USA 01/02/22 3:42 AM)
      Interesting WAIS discussion about the Harvard Law Review essay by Black Lives Matter founder Patrisse Cullors, "Abolition And Reparations: Histories of Resistance, Transformative Justice, And Accountability" and Gary Moore's statement regarding "so many high-powered people buying into the woke program or its diluted promotional face, [and] the possibility remains open that ... discredited Marxism may be an instinctively grasped next step for a changing world."

      Please allow me three remarks:

      1. It seems quite Capitalist-like for Cullors "to finance millions in real estate on the salary of an adjunct professor." As an objective tutor, my advice to her is to either keep her bleeding-heart BLM nose clean or go all out into the alternative world of Trump supporters with no hesitation or conscience. No middle-of-the-road behaviors can succeed in today's America.

      2. Numerous times on WAIS I have preached that discussing any "ism" philosophies or ideologies is a waste of time because they are just dreams on someone's mind, not reality. JE put his finger on this common problem. Even proposing general needs like "more compassion and a better safety net" is too vague to get any traction. We need to know how the particular ism or solution to a need will be implemented, specifically.

      3. It seems as if all of the right-wingers on this Forum speak with great self-righteousness about the evils of discredited Marxism, fake news, bleeding hearts against racial, gender, and religious bigotry while implicitly accepting the dismal social political economic state of our beloved nation. They elected a President with a MAGA mandate who in four years accelerated the process of social political economic division of our nation, and now they still offer no ideas for improvement, just negative name-calling and rhetorical nonsense.

      I should expect better from WAIS members.

      JE comments:  Evita Perón used to say that her jewels and furs were a vicarious way for her descamisado supporters to celebrate their victory--that somebody like them could live in opulence was a triumph for all.  It is a creative argument.

      Tor, your first remark defines our age:  middle-of-the-roadism just no longer cuts it.  Not since the 1930s has the world seen such political extremism.  And yet--yet--the US in 2020 opted for the mainstream, ossified Joe Biden over his more radical opponents (Bernie Sanders or Elizabeth Warren, or Trump on the other side).  A question for the WAIS crystal ball:  are we in store for still more extremism, or will the ship steer back to the center?

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      • Enrique Krauze on Messianic Political Saviors (from Gary Moore) (John Eipper, USA 01/04/22 5:55 AM)

        Gary Moore writes:

        Almost at the moment when I opened Tor Guimaraes's (January 2) anguished reflections on the contradictions presented by Patrisse Cullors (the founder of Black Lives Matter, who uses the millions thus gained as a multi-millionaire real estate investor, right along with Marxist exhortations for a post-America world of rigorous praxis, abolition democracy, and no international borders)--at just about that moment, I chanced onto a dog-eared old essay from the pre-woke cave days of 1993, by the eminence among historians of Mexico, Enrique Krauze.

        Krauze's essay was about the emergence in 1993 of Mexico's latest spectacle, the Zapatista guerrilla movement, in the jungle-cloaked southernmost outpost of Chiapas. Staffed by marginalized Tzeltal Indians (whom I had met in the jungles years earlier), but led by a mysterious pipe-smoking urban-academic Marxist calling himself Comandante Marcos, the Zapatistas intentionally timed their coming-out attack to coincide with and discredit then-President Salinas's vaunted message that Mexico had stabilized to become no longer an "under-developed" nation but now a "developing" nation, soon to be on equal footing with the giants. This euphoria was so empty (Salinas himself was about to flee into exile as one of modern Mexico's most corrupt presidents) that it was not so difficult for the Zapatistas to discredit Salinas's techno-capitalism by shooting up a few jungle trading posts, whereupon the Zapatistas quickly truced with the government and, over the coming years, receded to barely a memory. Comandante Marcos or his legatee may still be sitting in a coffee house somewhere smoking a pipe and telling sophomores how the new world will come.

        Historian Krauze pointed out in his essay that periodic messianic saviors have been luring the much-abused Indians into visionary movements at least since 1712, when self-described messenger of God Sebastián de la Gloria led the Tzeltal-Tzotzils on a brief rampage aiming to kill all whites, and massacring and looting isolated plantations. Sebastián was certainly no Marxist, but Krauze noted a commonality of magical religious agenda, calling on the invisible as supposedly unstoppable help for the otherwise unlikely.

        Our colleague Tor, seeming to label as a "right-winger" anyone who ventures that Marxism is discredited, might recall that Marx's program officially calls itself "scientific socialism," as it claims with 19th-century confidence that meticulously "scientific" analysis has proven the new world will come. To hold that this form of scholasticism wasn't discredited with St. Thomas and his ninety pages on angels, or the Millerites in the cave saying the end of the world had been precisely calculated to come in 1843--or L. Ron Hubbard's "scientific" Scientology that reveals, if you pay the thousands of dollars, that humans are descended from extraterrestrials--to complain that it's "right-wing" if one points out such difficulties, sounds a bit like Sir Arthur Conan Doyle delighting in the Cottingley Fairies. Sir Arthur knew they were there. Because somehow it worked for him. And mountains of intellect could then be expended on avoiding the fact that, well, actually they weren't there.

        Tor is ready to indignantly drum Patrisse Cullors of BLM out of the hallowed orthodoxy of Marxism because she has capitalistically leveraged her millions (probably not all from diverted donations, but partly from income off her also-doctrinaire Marxist book). However, Cullors has much better-founded Marxist credentials, including the requisite years of praxis, than the now-horrified critic, who seems to forget the Dacha Principle: the leaders of the new world, once it comes, will need expensive comforts to keep their leadership strong, and if this looks much the same as the oligarchs they used as targets to get the oligarchic leverage in the first place, well, deal with it.

        There are several ways out of all this for Tor. The Millerites, for example, looked at the uncooperative new day when the world did not end in 1843, and they hurriedly recalculated it to 1844--and then, when 1844 came uneventfully, and some diehards still insisted that no possible miscalculation could become a disacreditation, the remnant became the Seventh Day Adventists. That's one way.

        Or, as historian Krauze found with one Latin American guerrilla comandante, there is the rejoinder apparently appealing to large parts of Latin America right now, even as we speak. The resourceful comandante said he didn't have to worry about any discrediting lessons from the past, because, he said: "Our case will be different. Here it will work."

        JE comments:  "This time it will work"--how many populists of all political stripes have made this claim?  Or at least by implication.  My favorite Krauze book is his Siglo de Caudillos, with the "caudillo" being the embodiment of strongman populism.  Krauze posits the Caudillo as the central figure of Latin American history.  And with the renewed appeal of populism internationally, we could observe a certain Latin Americanization of the rest of the world.

        Returning to Patrisse Cullors, her nods to Marx notwithstanding, I would classify her as more of a classical anarchist.  Weren't they the original "abolitionists"?

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      • Are We Due for More Extremism, or a Pivot Back to Center? (Tor Guimaraes, USA 01/05/22 3:06 PM)
        In my opinion, and I can back it up with evidence as much as anyone wishes, John Eipper's statement is not properly framed. John wrote, "Not since the 1930s has the world seen such political extremism. And yet the US in 2020 opted for the mainstream...over [Biden's] more radical opponents (Bernie Sanders or Elizabeth Warren, or Trump on the other side)."

        In the early 1940s through the early '70s, American Capitalism was saved by FDR progressive policies which built a strong American middle class and set the stage for our nation's greatness. Under Nixon the US dollar peg to gold was broken and the Lewis Powell Memorandum was implemented, starting the slow squeeze of the middle class by major corporate interests which accelerated over the decades. As the power of big business over the government, consumers and workers grew, the left and the right ideologies were kept in balance by strong US institutions and healthy and fair cultural forces.

        This fine balance was reasonably maintained until the middle class got so frustrated by not understanding how their situation deteriorated so badly over time: poverty, racial turmoil, sense of powerlessness over government corruption, special interests abuses, etc. Thus, they became amenable to more extremism; but the extremes now are defined quite differently: one side characterized by socio-economic FDR-like policies which worked in the past (now called Marxism, Socialism, etc. blared at by fake media) and the other extreme claiming freedom and patriotic slogans while working as hard as possible to gut all American institutions, the Constitution, the rule of law, etc. to create a dictatorship by a narcissistic, sociopathic Messiah.

        These are the clearly defined extremes now. Before the extremes behaved.  Now the right-wing extremists apparently want a dictator and have already tried to install him through violence and insurrection. That would be going too far by most Americans so we chose sleepy, corrupted Biden over the mentally disturbed sociopathic Narcissus.

        JE asked, "are we in store for still more extremism, or will the ship steer back to the center?" Depends what you mean by the center. If by that you mean the situation just before Trump where big business controls both parties to make billionaires and keep squeezing the middle class to a banana republic status, then I say probably yes. If you mean back to the center because major percentages of Trump supporters will become constructive toward honest democracy (you know, the BS about government for the people, by the people) and stop lying with a straight face about reality, I would say you are dreaming. These are religious zealots with a direct line to their god, fanatics about racial superiority with no hint or interest about a truly constructive agenda for America the Beautiful. They only have a blind but short-lived faith on a narcissistic leader which immediately promotes their hateful hearts and purposes.

        Compared to our great history, we are doomed to decay as a nation, so I am glad I am relatively an old man. Good luck to you all, but I have warned you for the last twenty years to no avail.

        JE comments: Earlier today Bert Westbrook mentioned Cassandra of Troy, who was blessed with the gift of prophecy but the curse of no one believing her. Tor Guimaraes has been warning us of impending doom for years--Tor of Tennessee?

        Seriously now, Tor, I don't see how I was "unframed," as your comments above seem to agree that we are in the most politically extreme times since the 1930s.  I believe you take issue with my characterization of the Biden victory as a return to the center. 

        Be that as it may, tomorrow we'll wake up on January 6th, the first anniversary of the Great Insurrection.  Some questions for reflection:  Why have few, if any, of the ringleaders been held accountable?  Is our democracy stronger now, or even shakier?  And have we learned anything from the experience?

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        • "Days of Infamy" and "Great Insurrections" (Francisco Wong-Diaz, USA 01/07/22 3:45 AM)
          So here is one for all WAISers claiming to have credentials as historians or serious students of history: Mentally challenged (in my humble opinion) Kamala Harris proudly standing next to age-challenged Joe Biden has just compared the still inconclusively investigated Capitol riot of January 6 to the December 7, 1941 Japanese attack on Pearl Harbor and called them both dates of infamy to be remembered.

          All I can say in the form of a JE "non-coletilla" is "how low can we go" with disinformation?

          In response to John Eipper's misrepresentation of the occurrences of January 6th (which he calls a "great insurrection"), I submit and encourage the reading of this piece latest by Victor David Hanson. He is clear and concise about the topic at hand.


          JE's coletilla:  How else should we describe January 6th?  Pearl Harbor resulted in a united nation with a common sense of purpose.  In the Churchillian sense, it was our Finest Hour, the opening act of an epic that included Midway, Iwo Jima, and Normandy.  Last year's attack on the Capitol was a threat to our very democratic institutions.  This time, the enemy is us.  Sounds infamous to me.

          The intelligentsia of the Trump Right faces the challenge of how to sympathize with the spirit of January 6th, while distancing itself from the tactics.  Hanson in his essay dismisses the rioters as loud buffoons.  I'm not convinced:  a loud buffoon is a drunken uncle at a family reunion. 

          On a related note, here's an irony.  Somehow my name got on Trump's mailing list.  Yesterday (January 6th) I received a letter from The Donald himself, dated "Wednesday Morning" and addressed to a Fellow Patriot.  Trump asks me to pony up $2900 to elect "Trump Republicans" in November.  Note how one of the country's major political parties transitions into a personal brand.  Shouldn't genuine Republicans be concerned by this cult of personality?

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          • Thoughts on Fools and Days of Infamy (Eugenio Battaglia, Italy 01/08/22 3:54 AM)
            I read the post of Leo Goldberger, 7 January, who convinced me that Trump was affected by "serious psychological disorders," and that his followers are also psychologically troubled. On the same day I read the post of Francisco Wong-Díaz, who convinced me that Biden is "age-challenged" while Kamala Harris is "mentally challenged"--as are, one presumes, their followers.

            By this logic, practically the entire population of the US consists of fools.

            What a pity that when I lived in Chicago I never noticed this.  Probably because I am a fool myself?

            Anyway, if the riot of 6 January 2021 was supposed to be a coup, the silly rioters have still a lot to study and learn about coups.

            Our esteemed moderator correctly wrote, "Pearl Harbor resulted in a united nation with a common sense of purpose... It was the opening act of an epic that included Midway, Iwo Jima and, Normandy."

            However, what is the meaning of "Day of Infamy"? The infamy of Japan or of Franklin D. Roosevelt?

            Someone said: the country shooting first is not necessarily responsible for the following war.  The real responsible party is the country pushing the first into a situation from which the only way out is to shoot.

            JE comments:  As Francisco Wong-Díaz recently reminded me, FDR described December 7th as a "date of infamy."  The popular memory long ago opted for "day."  

            My Quaker ancestors (the Eastburns; see my response to Pat Mears, January 7th) would argue that there is never a situation in which shooting is the only way out.  US-Japan relations prior to December 7th were bad, but how was Japan "pushed" to send in the Zeros?

            Here's a philosophical question for the WAISitudes:  can there ever be such a thing as a pre-emptive "defensive" war?  I cannot think of a single example in history.

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        • Are Republicans Turning on Each Other? (Tor Guimaraes, USA 01/08/22 10:57 AM)
          I thank God the Universe that after having to live along a large percentage of the Americans living in an alternative reality where scientific knowledge is disrespected and authority comes from chronically lying psychopaths, I finally had a glimpse of a possible way out: the alternative reality folks are turning on each other.

          Mind you, it is still just a possible trend but it is somewhat encouraging. It was brought to my attention that Trump cancelled his planned speech supporting the traitors who desecrated our Capitol and the Constitution. He canceled it reportedly under pressure from Republicans in Congress, who are increasingly concerned that the House Select Committee on Jan. 6 sill subpoenas more witnesses and gather more evidence on the leaders of the attempted coup. In his brilliant speech, Trump was planning to label the House investigation as another "witch hunt" by Nancy Pelosi and defend those who assaulted police, smashed the Capitol, and called for Mike Pence to be hanged as patriots whose actions were a "legitimate reaction to a stolen election." However, Republicans seeking office in 2022 are increasingly concerned their support for Trump might make the upcoming election about the insurrection.

          Recently a USA Today/Suffolk poll still finds 58% of Republicans saying Biden "wasn't legitimately elected." In another poll, 40% of Republicans now believe violence against the government is justified. Thus Republicans running in 2022 are being forced to defend the Big Lie, but going around the Jan. 6 violence, to secure the support of their base for the primary and general elections. On the other hand, an ABC News/Ipsos poll finds 72% of Americans believe that the insurgents were a threat to American democracy, and 58% thought that Donald Trump is "a great deal" or "a good amount" responsible for the insurrection. Imagine that, we still have a strong percentage of fact-based, logical Americans. Thus, 2022 candidates are squeezed by the reality in the minds of thinking people and the alternative reality of Trump, the right-wing extremists within their party, the right-wing media like Fox News preaching the Big Lie, and pushing the Republican base to believe that the attempted coup was a clever false flag operation by the FBI or Antifa, or just a "peaceful protest."

          Nationally Trump Republicans have been very effective passing laws restricting voting in the 2022 election, changing rules at the state level allowing them to purge Democrats from election boards, they have harassed and threatened election workers from county boards to secretaries of state, forced partisan gerrymandering redrawing districts in ways that give Republicans a substantial advantage. Just like in the 2020 Presidential elections, they've done everything to make it clear to their base that their victory in 2022 and 2024 are foregone conclusions, or to be stolen elections. But now the big challenge for these traitors to Democracy, the Constitution and the rule of law, is that to win in 2022 they must hide their violent criminal actions for authoritarian rule, and their attack on all this nation has considered sacred since its foundation.

          They do have a plan, an agenda for after their victories. From social media, Fox News, GOP fundraisers, Republicans will create a "real Jan. 6 commission" whose purpose is to investigate how Nancy Pelosi is actually responsible for not providing security for Congress, how the FBI or other government agencies were secretly involved in stirring violence outside the Capitol, and how the ranks of Trump supporters were infiltrated by antifa and BLM. Further, Republican "commemorations" of Jan. 6 will include a very special podcast from Steve Bannon where he co-hosts with a Carlson's "Patriot Purge" broadcast producer. Fox News continues to put millions into conspiracy theories defending the insurgents.

          Republican 2022 and 2024 candidates love the money flows and present excitement, they just don't want to have to answer questions about Trump's behavior, the Jan. 6 Capitol smashing, or all the evidence that continues to trickle in regarding the widespread Republican coup attempt.

          JE comments:  Everyone knows that the party not in the White House almost always scores a big victory during the Midterms.  The question is whether the electorate will reward or punish candidates who espouse the Big Lie.  With many bitter Republican primary battles all down the ballot (Trump Republicans vs Traditional Republicans), we're entering uncharted waters.

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          • The Case Against Biden (Francisco Wong-Diaz, USA 01/09/22 7:15 AM)
            As an independent who believes that both Trump and the Biden/Kamala team should stay home and out of politics, it makes me first laugh and then cringe to read another distorted reality post from Tor Guimaraes. Tor implies that the Democrats, led by the corrupt Pelosi and semi-demented Biden, are the Second Coming leaders and Trump the Devil.

            I cannot understand those who applaud the Bidenistas for their accumulated failures. Apologists overlook the current normalization of violent crime on the streets by DAs funded by Soros money; the thousands of Americans killed by Chinese-produced and cartel-distributed Fentanyl, the past riots in Democratic-led cities, rampant inflation, teachers' union disregard for students and control over schools and local politicians, wokeism, open borders with illegal immigration and the secretive distribution of the migrants throughout the nation, the incoherent and constantly changing Covid 19 policies; plus a whole panoply of additional socioeconomic policy failures in the first Biden year.

            Tor and others of similar views need to stop blaming Trump and the GOP for everything wrong under the sun, and pray to God for help in regaining some common sense.

            JE comments: Francisco, please provide one morsel of evidence that teachers unions have a disregard for students.  Do you yearn for a return to the Betsy DeVos days?  Since Elizabeth Holmes fleeced her of $100 million, she might be looking for work.

            (Apologies for the heat here, but this one strikes close to home.  I should point out that Tor G has never expressed his love for Biden, either.)

            My tantrum concluded, let's talk inflation.  Of course the present rates are "owned" by Biden in the public imagination, but price increases are everywhere.  The Eurozone is just behind the US rate, and Latin America is three or four points higher.  My parents-in-law in Poland are on fixed incomes and are really feeling the pain at the grocery store.  Can we really blame anything other than the pandemic and the disruptions in production, supply chain, and transportation?

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            • Worldwide Inflation: Are Sanctions (Partially) to Blame? (Eugenio Battaglia, Italy 01/10/22 6:51 AM)
              Commenting with his usual wisdom on the quite interesting post of Francisco Wong-Díaz, our esteemed moderator wrote:

              "[As for the causes of inflation] Can we really blame anything other than the pandemic and the disruption in production, supply chain, and transportation?"

              I have an idea: forget self-defeating sanctions and let's go back to relying on free markets. The US used to send Navy ships around the world to open ports (good old Commodore Matthew C. Perry); now the US is using the most powerful fleet of all times to support sanctions. Furthermore, a review of the foreign policy of the Empire since 1991 could be another idea too.

              JE comments: Eugenio, you invariably use "self-defeating" to describe sanctions, with the assumption that they cause pain all around. Usually we think only of the "sanctionee" as suffering the economic hardship.  What about the Trump-era tariffs?  These increased costs--some $50 billion per year--invariably trickle down to the consumer.

              The bottom line:  free trade leads to lower prices, but...at what (social, political) cost?

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            • Chicago Lawsuit Against Teachers' Unions (Francisco Wong-Diaz, USA 01/11/22 3:27 AM)
              JE should note that in Chicago parents have just filed a lawsuit against the teachers' union.

              In my college and university teaching and Administration days I helped organize, but then refused to join two closed union shops due to lack of freedom of choice. A successful statewide lawsuit settled that situation in favor of many of us. The most radical part-time teachers were also the core activists who eventually gained control and tried to run the union, hoping also to run the university. They mostly pushed for full benefits, higher wages, less supervision, smaller classes, no testing, and the elimination of tenure and review committees. What is today called critical race theory was their purview and they used their own students to criticize and try to fire colleagues with opposing political views. Students were used as pawns in a power game.

              In a different context, as a Cuban youth I had a school friend whose uncle was a leader of the CTC--the largest national union. He supported the Castro revolution and welcomed Fidel's entry into Havana in 1959. Castro knew about unions, however, and within two years he had purged, jailed or shot many union leaders...including my friend's uncle.  I never saw them again.

              JE comments:  The Chicago standoff between Mayor Lightfoot and the Teachers' Union had to do with Covid-19 safety and protocol.  After a compromise was reached, classes will resume tomorrow, with some of the district's higher-infected schools holding virtual classes.

              What is the present situation for other teachers in WAISdom?  Adrian College is presently in full "f2f" mode, but Oakland University (Aldona's employer) is on-line through the end of January.  This is also the case for Michigan State and Wayne State.

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            • To Understand Today's Inflation, Look at the Money Supply (Cameron Sawyer, USA 01/12/22 3:44 AM)
              Regarding the present worldwide phenomenon of inflation, John E asked, "Can we really blame anything other than the pandemic and the disruptions in production, supply chain, and transportation?"

              Does anyone really think that we can expand the money supply to an unprecedented extent, and keep stable prices?

              The relationship between money supply and prices is not one-dimensional; there are other factors like the so-called "velocity of money." But that does not mean that we can print money merrily for as long as we like, and prices will never spike up. They will spike up. And that is what we are seeing.

              Inflation was nudged by pandemic disruptions, but built fundamentally on the balance between money and that which money buys. The pandemic disruptions were the spark, but excess money supply is the fuel. When that which money buys cannot be expanded as fast as the money supply, the result is, as should be obvious to almost anyone, inflation.

              JE comments: We could say that macroeconomics, like the truth, eventually and invariably comes out. The global crisis after 2008 probably taught us the wrong lesson, as there was a massive increase in the money supply without inflation.  Back then the powers that be thought this was a neat trick, but the encore hasn't been as successful.  The big question is, would we have the current levels of inflation, had there been no "stimmies"?  And at what cost in human misery?

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          • January 6th Was Not an Insurrection (Cameron Sawyer, USA 01/10/22 8:53 AM)
            I have to disagree with the application of the term "insurrection" to the 6 January 2021 events. An insurrection is an attempt to overthrow a government. That's not what happened on 6 January. 6 January was simply a riot and vandalism by an angry mob which had been stirred up by preposterous statements of the outgoing president. There was no plan to take over power. These events did not nearly rise to the level of an actual insurrection, and thank God for that.

            JE comments: I heard the "insurrection" label used in a neutral fashion yesterday on National Public Radio, a liberal news bastion to be sure. Ditto with CNN and Time. The I-word has now become a political litmus test.

            Cameron, is there a clear distinction between seeking to overturn a democratic election, and overthrowing a government?  Not all insurrections look like storming the Bastille or the Winter Palace.

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            • January 6th Was About Vandalism and Whining (Cameron Sawyer, USA 01/14/22 6:04 AM)
              Regarding the events of January 6th, 2021, John E asked: "Is there a clear distinction between seeking to overturn a democratic election, and overthrowing a government? Not all insurrections look like storming the Bastille or the Winter Palace."

              I think there is. But the participants in the 6 January events didn't even "seek to overturn a democratic election." They sought to smash things up in the marble halls of our legislature, defile Nancy Pelosi's office, and take selfies amongst the destruction and defilement for social media. There was no plan for anything beyond this. 6 January was vandalism and riot par excellence, nothing more.

              And going beyond the 6 January events, not much of anything concrete was done to "overturn the democratic election," beyond whining. This is Trump's style, however, going back to even before all of this, going back even to the 2016 election which brought him to power in the first place, which surprised no one more than it did Trump himself.

              Trump never intended to win, and then be faced with the job of actually governing; he was, rather, prepared to whine about losing (in fact, was already whining about losing, just before he won) and profit from the publicity of having run. Perhaps he thought that he would be surprised in January 2021 by the election magically overturning itself, a parallel to the 2016 elections perhaps, but this was not to be. Like the perpetrators of 6 January, Trump does not rise to the level of an actual insurrectionist.

              JE comments: The "Great Whine" of January 6th? Yet I would add that placing phone calls urging Secretaries of State to "find votes" and the spate of junk lawsuits goes beyond mere whining.

              If you cannot win, whine...?

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              • Give Trump Credit for January 6th (Francisco Ramirez, USA 01/15/22 3:56 AM)
                I beg to differ with Cameron Sawyer (January 14th).

                January 6th did not simply happen and was not merely a riot and vandalism. It will not do to pretend this was like the riot and vandalism that followed the acquittal of Rodney King or other similar incidents.

                I can think of no prior riot in which the participants were encouraged to assemble by a defeated presidential candidate who convinced them that the election was rigged. They were there to overturn what they perceived was a rigged election. That perception had been cultivated for a long time and they were primed to believe in rigged elections.

                In 2016, Candidate Trump warned his supporters against the dangers of a rigged election. And even after he won, he insisted he also would have won the popular vote were it not for millions of illegal votes. A committee was created to find evidence of massive illegal voting. The committee was dissolved because there was no such evidence. But the massive fraud and rigged election narrative did not die.

                In 2020 the narrative continued and really flourished in the months leading up to January 6th. Give Trump credit for being that successful in convincing that many people that the election was rigged. To believe there was massive fraud you had to ignore the fact that the courts rejected this argument (some of the plaintiffs are now defendants), that the Supreme Court opted not to hear the case--and no, this is not because of the inherently reticent character of the Supreme Court (not reticent in Gore v Bush), and that Republican Secretaries of State in Georgia and Arizona found no evidence of massive fraud. But apparently six out of ten Republicans believe this to be the case. (I assume that some WAISers do as well.)

                I am not thinking about those who say the election was rigged for political reasons but know otherwise. I am thinking of those who really believe. For them January 6th was the last chance to right a wrong and save America. They were urged to show up and fight by Trump and by Trump allies. They were repeatedly urged and Trump and allies showed up on January 6th to further legitimate their presence. Not all the participants anticipated the successful invasion of Congress, but I think it is fair to say that all were there to stop the steal. More concretely they were there to get Pence to not move forward and confirm the election. Trump had leaned on Pence and Pence sought legal advice as to whether he had the authority to do so. I doubt Pence really thinks January 6th was just a riot.

                There was indeed a lot of crazy expressive behavior, but from the perspective of Trump and allies there was an instrumental goal: overturn a rigged election.

                As is getting clearer with further evidence revealed, this was not the only overturning avenue explored in the White House. A military option was considered.

                I agree with Cameron that Trump did not expect to win in 2016 and was prepared to profit from the publicity. But in 2020 Trump really wanted to win. Why else would he phone the Georgia Secretary of State and ask him to find the precise number of votes he needed to win?

                It is a mistake to think of Trump as an inept clown. His bombastic style is misleading. He was deadly serious about staying in power and very successful in cultivating the rigged elections/massive fraud narrative.

                It is also a mistake to think of January 6th as nothing more than a riot and vandalism. The bombastic style of some of the rioters should not obscure their goal to overturn the rigged election and save America.

                Give Trump credit for January 6th.

                JE comments:  Francisco Ramírez draws a line between the cynics who sought to reverse the election for political gain, and those True Believers in the Big Lie.  It's fair to say that most of the rioters of January 6th were in the latter camp.  Did they really think they could have coerced Pence to refuse the certification?  Is there any other way to explain the zeal of many in that crowd?

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                • How Can So Many be Duped by a Disgraced Leader? (Henry Levin, USA 01/16/22 6:10 AM)
                  Francisco Ramírez (January 15th) gave an excellent and sensible interpretation of January 6th.

                  It also reveals a mythic view of the symbolism of "democracy" when so many can be duped by a disgraced and dishonest "leader" with a complete absence of evidence on the purported scam that is at the heart of Republican justification.

                  We all ought to be ashamed that the democratic claims of our nation can be undermined by such an obvious perversion.

                  JE comments:  I cannot understand the attempts to downplay the gravity of January 6th, 2021.  At the same time, I confess that my dislike for Trump wouldn't be any less had there been no insurrection/riot/disturbance.

                  The DC "thing" of January 6th has become an intensifier of one's take on Trump:  those who loathe him have the perfect "told you so" moment, while his partisans either deny his potential involvement, or argue that the riot wasn't so serious in the first place.  Or both.

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              • What Was the January 6th Mob's Intention? (Patrick Mears, -Germany 01/15/22 7:07 AM)
                Just a brief comment on the post authored by my friend, Cameron Sawyer. Regarding the event of January 6th, Cameron states, without it seems any concrete evidence, that "there was no plan for anything more after this."

                First, God only knows what the plan would have evolved if this mob had interrupted the certification process that they so passionately sought to stop in its tracks. The insurrectionists clearly expressed their desire to "Hang Pence." What more proof beyond this does one need before reaching a conclusion concerning the mob's desires?

                Hopefully, the criminal prosecutions will ferret out all of this, and I am eagerly awaiting the report.. Second, from what I have been reading in the media to date, it appears that this mob had much more in mind other than just "touring the Capitol." This entire attack via mob violence on the Capitol's doorsteps and even inside the Capitol itself reminds me of the attempted putsch against the French Assembly in the 1930s, which we have discussed recently on WAIS. I see no distinction whatsoever between these two events, other than one occurred in Paris and the other in Washington, DC.

                JE comments:  Or--sorry to venture into Godwin territory--the 1923 Beer Hall putsch in Munich.  That event was deadlier (20 dead), but the number of rioter/insurrectionists was about the same (2000 to 2500).

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                • Seditious Conspiracy Charges, and a 1954 Precedent (Patrick Mears, -Germany 01/17/22 4:14 AM)
                  See this quote from yesterday's Washington Post:

                  "Hundreds have been charged after a pro-Trump mob stormed the United States Capitol, but on Thursday federal prosecutors filed seditious conspiracy charges for the first time in connection with Jan. 6 investigations, against the leader of the far-right organization Oath Keepers and 10 suspected associates.

                  "It marked one of the few instances in which the law--aimed at protecting the government from attacks--has been applied in the nation's history. While seditious conspiracy charges are rare, they were often used throughout the 20th century--to persecute Puerto Ricans.

                  "Before the Oath Keepers, there were Lolita Lebrón, Rafael Cancel Miranda, Andrés Figueroa Cordero and Irvin Flores Rodríguez--armed Puerto Rican nationalists who opened fire against members of the U.S. House of Representatives in 1954."

                  JE comments: Sedition charges are notoriously hard to prove.  Are conspiratorial-sounding e-mails, texts, and fiery social media enough for a conviction, or does the sedition have to go from theory to "practice"?  I hope one of WAISdom's JDs can give us a legal analysis.

                  Access the Washington Post piece below.  The four shooters in the 1954 attack (no one was killed) spent twenty-five years in prison before being freed by Jimmy Carter.  Rafael Cancel Miranda was the most recent to die, in 2020.

                  Sedition charge against Oath Keepers for the Jan. 6 riot previously used against Puerto Rican nationalists - The Washington Post

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            • Trump Tried to Overturn the 2020 Election: Hard Evidence (Tor Guimaraes, USA 01/15/22 3:25 AM)
              I never thought I would be arguing with the great lawyer Cameron Sawyer over words, but I must. Cameron does not agree with using the term "insurrection" to describe the 6 January 2021 events, because an insurrection is "an attempt to overthrow a government, [and] that's not what happened."


              An insurrection is an act or instance of revolting against civil authority or an established government. What Trump and his minions did clearly fits the definition. He was in charge of governing the country, but he did not own the nation, its Constitution, its institutions, etc.

              January 6th, 2021 has two connected attempts to overthrow the lawful government of the United States. The first, a deadly insurgency that injured 140 police officers at the US Capitol building, to capture and kill legislators and the Vice President. The second, an internal coup involving state and federal officials, to falsify the results of the 2020 presidential election. Both attempts had one target for destruction, the certification of Electoral College votes that showed Joe Biden had clearly won the election. More than 700 people have been indicted for their role in the first attempt, and a few hundred more are being hunted by the law. In the second, Trump went after state and county election officials, governors, secretaries of state, state legislators, and Republican members of Congress, to recruit them for a coup attempt. However, no one has been charged yet.

              The Guardian reports that after the select committee received documents from former chief of staff Mark Meadows, interest in Trump's role in a criminal conspiracy has increased. Despite some obstacles, the committee has enough to connect the dots on several pieces of Trump's plans: documents of Trump's briefing members of Congress on their proposed roles halting the count of the Electoral votes, the recruiting of other Republicans, and instructing them on how to act in order to cause a breakdown and take advantage of the electoral process. Also, there are a few more items providing clear and overwhelming evidence of Trump's involvement:

              --Trump directly contacted local election officials in Wayne County, Michigan, to get them to overturn certification of votes in the county;

              --He summoned Michigan state legislators to Washington to get them to interfere in the election results for the state;

              --He tried to get Republican legislators in Wisconsin to "decertify" the election results;

              --He made repeated calls to Georgia's state attorney general, threatening him with unspecified charges if he didn't "find" the specific number of votes giving Trump victory in that state;

              --He tried to make a US attorney in Georgia help pressure state officials, causing that attorney to resign;

              --He tried to make Georgia's Governor Kemp overturn the presidential election results and call off the state's Senate election;

              --He attempted to halt vote-counting in Maricopa County, Arizona, even before that state could certify Biden's victory;

              --He called election supervisors in Arizona to make them change the election results;

              --He tried to call Arizona's Governor Ducey to halt the certification of votes, right in the middle of the ceremony when Ducey was signing the election results certification;

              --He supported a scheme to throw out his own attorney general and replace him with a stooge who would use the Department of Justice to oppose certifying the election;

              --He invited Michael Flynn into the White House to outline a plan that involved throwing out the election and using the military to "supervise" a new election; and

              --He gave Sidney Powell a security clearance to allow her to better interfere in certifying election results.

              The above is a short list, but it is a reminder that Trump's criminal conspiracy with Republican legislators is still going on.

              Further, the select committee is considering charges of obstruction against Trump, for failure to take action to stop the violent attack on the Capitol. There is no doubt everyone understood exactly who was behind the violence, and that is why everyone involved in the conspiracy called and texted Trump, begging him to make it stop. That is what happens when your leaders can't spell the word democracy.

              I am not a lawyer but I thought that blatantly interfering with US elections was a serious crime. As Mike Wilson's book Everything Trump Touches Dies has warned, Trump has killed the Republican party, almost killed democracy in 2020, but for his sole benefit, he is still trying to kill our constitution and make a banana republic out of our great USA. Wake up before it is too late.

              JE comments:  We still don't know Trump's exact connection to January 6th, but as Tor Guimaraes documents above, there is ample evidence of a conspiracy to overturn the election.  Yesterday, Maryland representative Jamie Raskin of the Select Committee promised to "blow the roof off the House" with the Committee's next moves, which may involve subpoenas at the highest levels.  Although the wheels of government grind very slowly, so far the Committee has left the roof intact.  And given that November will be here before you know it, time is running out.

              Take your pick of two possibilities:  1)  The Committee hasn't found any smoking gun, or 2) Raskin and Co. are sitting on a bombshell, and are waiting for the right time for the maximum impact on the Midterm elections.  For that, we may be looking at late spring or summer.  Pay attention to that roof, folks.

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