Coming Soon to a City Near You

From aa440 Flickr
The Baltimore Police Department has secretly deployed a privately funded surveillance system using planes and powerful cameras that can continuously record 30-square-mile sections of the city at once. ACLU Attorney David Rocah had this to say.

The surveillance program itself is a privacy nightmare come to life and precisely what we have warned against for years. It’s the equivalent of requiring each of us to wear a GPS tracker whenever we leave our homes, something that would never be tolerated in the physical world.

Read More:

Police Secretly Put Large Part of Baltimore Under Constant Aerial Video Surveillance | American Civil Liberties Union

Baltimore Police Secretly Running Aerial Mass-Surveillance Eye in the Sky | ACLU BLog

Secret Cameras Record Baltimore’s Every Move From Above | Bloomberg Business Week

Jacobin Interview with Jill Stein

There is a voter revolt going on in the same way that there is a revolt against the rigged, corporate capitalist economy and the devastation that that’s bringing to working people, to students, to immigrants, to communities of color, that we’ve reached a breaking point and people are not only ready to listen to alternatives, but are ready to mobilize and to work to create real structural change.

Source: “The Spoiler” Speaks | Jacobin

The Angel of History

A Klee painting named Angelus Novus shows an angel looking as though he is about to move away from something he is fixedly contemplating. His eyes are staring, his mouth is open, his wings are spread. This is how one pictures the angel of history. His face is turned toward the past. Where we perceive a chain of events, he sees one single catastrophe which keeps piling wreckage upon wreckage and hurls it in front of his feet. The angel would like to stay, awaken the dead, and make whole what has been smashed. But a storm is blowing from Paradise; it has got caught in his wings with such violence that the angel can no longer close them. The storm irresistibly propels him into the future to which his back is turned, while the pile of debris before him grows skyward. This storm is what we call progress.

– Walter Benjamin

The Good Revolution

4th-of-july

Did you ever read in your school textbooks that there were times during our Revolution when there were more Americans enrolled in the British forces than under George Washington?

In 1962, for KPFA radio, Hal Draper revealed the facts behind the story of our nation’s founding.

Read the speech: Hal Draper: A Fourth Of July Oration (1962)

P.S.: “There has been only one revolution in the history of the world which took place after a registration of revolutionary sentiment by vote.” It wasn’t in 1776. It was in November of 1917.

Happy Independence Day!

The Rigged Game: New Report on Inequality

The Economic Policy Institute has published a new report on income inequality in the United States. Here’s a quick summary of the findings.

Income inequality has risen in every state since the 1970s and in many states is up in the post–Great Recession era. In 24 states, the top 1 percent captured at least half of all income growth between 2009 and 2013, and in 15 of those states, the top 1 percent captured all income growth. In another 10 states, top 1 percent incomes grew in the double digits, while bottom 99 percent incomes fell. For the United States overall, the top 1 percent captured 85.1 percent of total income growth between 2009 and 2013. In 2013 the top 1 percent of families nationally made 25.3 times as much as the bottom 99 percent.

It’s important to understand that none of this is happening by accident, nor by the hand of God, nor even because of the effects of an impartial marketplace. The ruling class decides who will win and who will lose. So it’s no wonder who wins and who loses.

Read the full report: Income inequality in the U.S. by state, metropolitan area, and county | Economic Policy Institute

Response to DSA’s 2016 Electoral Strategy

never-clinton

The National Political Committee of the Democratic Socialists of America released bullet points of the organization’s 2016 electoral strategy a few weeks ago. They ask that DSA members who don’t agree “articulate these points as the organization’s perspective and then indicate where the individual member disagrees.”

You can read all of their points for yourself at the link included below. I have to say that I am deeply disturbed by what I interpret to be their (at least tacit) encouragement of strategic voting and organizing for the Democratic Party ticket.

…DSA will work with the emerging labor, immigrant, and anti-racist-led “Dump Trump” movement. For this reason, we do not endorse the #BernieOrBust tactic, though we understand the sentiment behind it. Our perspective can best be summarized as: “Dump the Racist Trump: Build the Left from the Grassroots Up.”

Although I certainly agree that a Trump Presidency would be a disaster, I also believe that a Clinton Presidency would be a disaster. The NPC’s strategy does call for turning a critical eye toward Clinton should she win, but placing emphasis on opposition to Trump alone during the campaign is a mistake, in my opinion. Socialists ought to take a principled stand to oppose both Trump and Clinton between now and November.

My own efforts will be in support of the Green Party candidacy of Dr. Jill Stein. It’s way past time to break with the Democratic Party and build a true party of the people.

I hold no illusions that someone other than Trump or Clinton shall prevail in 2016, but I cannot in good conscience lend my support nor my vote to someone I consider to be an enemy of working people. In the words of the great Eugene V. Debs,  “I’d rather vote for something I want and not get it than vote for something I don’t want, and get it.”

I am thankful that the NPC anticipated and explicitly allowed for dissent within our ranks, and am certainly thankful that they didn’t endorse Clinton. This is one of those times, though, when I wonder whether I’m a member of the right organization.

Read the DSA Strategy Points Here: Talking Points for DSA’s Electoral Work between May and November 2016 – Democratic Socialists of America

★ ★ ★

Here are a few more relevant links.

This is why a Clinton Presidency cannot defeat Trump.

This is why I broke with the Democrats, and quit voting for the “lesser evil.”

This is why I voted Green in 2012. I’ve since joined the Green Party and am actively working for Jill Stein’s campaign.

Help Pass The LaSalle Street Tax

lasalle-street-tax

We are now in the twelfth month of an unprecedented budget crisis in the State of Illinois. It’s past time to move toward a progressive system of taxation that will ensure that the needs of the people are met, and the wealthy pay their fair share.

On Tuesday, June 7th, a joint Illinois Senate and House Subject Matter hearing on the proposed LaSalle Street Tax will be held at the Bilandic Building, 160 N. LaSalle in Chicago. The legislation would impose a very small tax on the trading of financial assets such as stocks, bonds, currencies and their derivatives. The average person pays more than six percent sales tax on purchases of daily necessities in our state, and yet the rich speculators pay absolutely no tax when buying or selling on the financial exchanges in Illinois. Although the proposed tax rate is very low, since the number of trades is so large, the LST would raise between 10 and 12 billion dollars per year for Illinois. Here’s a fact sheet on the tax from the Chicago Political Economy Group.

If you’d like to help advocate for this important step forward in Illinois, now is the time. Here’s how you can help.

  1. Fill out a witness slip stating simply that you are a SUPPORTER of the proposed legislation. It only takes a few minutes to complete the slip online saying that you support the bill (not that you’d like to appear as a witness).
  2. If you can spare some time tomorrow, rally with us at a press conference outside the Bilandic Building at 1 PM.
  3. If you can spare a little more time, attend the hearing at 2 PM. It’s scheduled to run until five o’clock, but if you can’t stay for the entire three hours, that’s alright.

If you’re concerned about our pensioners, our schools and effective human services in Illinois, please join in this important struggle.