Moon of Alabama Brecht quote
January 19, 2016

Open Thread 2016-04

News & views ...

Posted by b on January 19, 2016 at 17:53 UTC | Permalink

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@55 Penelope
Just as PavewayIV predicted. Not good indeed when you combine that with reports of US occupation of Rumelei air base in Hasakah province, SDF advances on Manbij plus Turkish activity around the Jarabulus border post.. Sigh..

Posted by: Lozion | Jan 21 2016 4:04 utc | 101

Yeah, right. Stein has even less of a chance than Sanders (with whom she seems to share any number of platform planks, BTW). FWIW, a kinder, gentler, greener capitalism doesn't quite cut it for me. I think she, Clinton, Sanders, and the Rethuglicans are all equally committed to electoralism. I am not.

The 7 bil. need to develop their own organic intellectuals (to use Gramsci's phrase) and other leaders from their ranks and take it to the streets. This requires patience, a unity around a program, and a clear analysis of political realities. Let's all hope that we have enough time.

The Tea Party Republicans have a certain edge of brutality, cruelty, and self-righteous intolerance that was previously lacking amongst most conservatives. Their trigger-happy ammosexuality (see the Bundy standoffs) is a real problem, domestically and internationally.

They are a product of the moderate intensification of the "long crisis of capital" marked by the 2008 recession (it has been waxing and wanning since 1914). If the crisis further intensifies (and Wall St. is signalling that it may well be doing so), the danger grows.

It could be a fatal error to dismiss or even downplay fears of the sort of government that they would conduct. Present polling suggests that a Republican presidential victory is unlikely -- at this time. Ten months of crisis from now....

Posted by: rufus magister | Jan 21 2016 5:05 utc | 102

med at 79, 86

Thanks for bringing it up.

Red Star over Donbass has a number of reports detailing both the imposition of the government and resistance to it, as well as political trials of leftist opponents. But I've not had the opportunity to look into it.

Posted by: rufus magister | Jan 21 2016 5:49 utc | 103

in re 100 --

Such a touching faith in bourgeois parliamentarianism. If you were any sort of real progressive, and not a poseur, you would know that we socialists believe that revolutionary change does not come through electoral politics, but through mass struggle.

You know, the kind of stuff Syriza is undercutting.

For example, my preferred tendency, the Spartacists, holds that socialists should run only for legislative posts, not executive ones. Participation in these campaigns (and in parliamentary debates, should one gain seats) is an opportunity to publicize socialism. Holding executive offices in bourgeois states makes one responsible for the system and its operations.

Rather like Tsipras and the implementation of austerity, no?

Posted by: rufus magister | Jan 21 2016 6:07 utc | 104

Headlines read Litvnenko assassination 'probably' approved by Putin

Posted by: aaaaa | Jan 21 2016 12:40 utc | 105

59;The Zionists want no part of Trump;He is too unpredictable,and a possible nationalist,the thing they fear most in America,sovereignty.Every day they have articles expressing his unfitness for POTUS.
If we don't elect a nationalist,the next cycle will bring a worse ultranationalist,the old man down the road,a Hitler.
America is about to blow.
Rosa Luxemborg;Why do have the feeling she'd be living in Israel,a dowager Zionist,after realizing the goyim wouldn't cooperate in her command and control?

Posted by: dahoit | Jan 21 2016 15:16 utc | 106

Genius David Bowie impersonates Springsteen, Lou Reed, Tom Waits, Neil Young, Iggy ...

Posted by: b | Jan 21 2016 15:50 utc | 107

@107 I'm no fan of Trump but it is interesting to watch the media trying to deal with him. Seems the more they attack him the stronger he gets.

Posted by: dh | Jan 21 2016 15:59 utc | 108

What the hell, is this a joke or is the propaganda so sick?!

U.K. inquiry: Litvinenko was ”probably” assassinated for claim that Putin is a pedophile

Dying KGB spy told Scotland Yard that Russian president destroyed video evidence of sex with underage boys

Posted by: Sefed | Jan 21 2016 16:35 utc | 109

And only tangentially connected to killing baby Jesus lovers but screaming about the hypocrisy like b's latest posting title.

As many here know I despise religions and one of the obvious reasons is that they don't walk their talk, nor point out when purported followers are acting dishonorably.

Posted by: psychohistorian | Jan 22 2016 2:00 utc | 110

And then there is this about the Trump racist heritage

Posted by: psychohistorian | Jan 22 2016 2:03 utc | 111

And one more link about my pet issue (private vs sovereign finance) and its future

Posted by: psychohistorian | Jan 22 2016 2:05 utc | 112

state of union

*As a black man, you had an unprecedented opportunity to address the issues of Blacks, but you didn’t. You showed no care for Black lives or for the lives of Blacks in America. You said little and did even less to stop the killing of Black men [and women] and the mass incarceration of Blacks. You said nothing and did nothing regarding the over due payment of reparations to the descendants of slaves, men and women upon whose backs the US economy was built. And, if any proof was needed, the outcry of the [Black Lives Matter] movement shows that your priorities were elsewhere*

Posted by: denk | Jan 22 2016 6:09 utc | 113

@114 denk

Thanks for the link.

Obama is to Blacks what Hillary will be to Women, if elected/annointed or whatever it is we are allowed to do these days.

Posted by: psychohistorian | Jan 22 2016 6:21 utc | 114

psychohistorian 115

the trouble with murkka is that all of its *elected leaders* spend all their time ruling screwing the world instead of improving life at the home front.
it was truely amusing watching the euphoria and pride surrounding obama's election trail, wow, *we'r gonna get a black prez, u wont find this in china or russia !*
poor sheeples just never learn, every potus was chosen by the puppet masters for a specific purpose,
obama's job was to *do* africa !
cuz africans were so smitten by the rise of one of their *son* in white house , they wont even realise they are being re-*penetrated* !

Posted by: denk | Jan 22 2016 6:57 utc | 115

Until and unless Israel to brought to responsibility for its social genocide of the Palestinians the world will let the hurt Jewish people do this:

Is our seeming disrespect for each other greater or smaller than our seeming disrespect for the universe we live in?

Posted by: psychohistorian | Jan 22 2016 6:57 utc | 116

@@ Wayoutwest | Jan 21, 2016 4:06:45 PM | 76

I will respond to your excretion on the other thread here where it will not interfere with those who want to stay OT. In a way I am offended that you cannot show the least ability to be original in your comments, or not an originality that a prepubescent adolescent isn't developing out of reliance upon. "FOS" ? really? is that the best you can manage? Actually you cannot even get that correct. Even a very old zombie ear-worm of a joke does better: Definition of people - as 12 meter long tubes, half filled with sh*t. Kissing - sucking on a 12 meter long tube half filled with sh*t - AND it was original in its day. As for pegging and pigeonholing no-one can or has done a better job than yourself - blame the person you see in the mirror the next time you look there. Also the commentator I responded to had taken your shite to task with direct quote and rebuttal - absolutely nothing amiss with agreeing with that effort. Your retort was a figment of your fevered imagination - consider getting professional help.

Your second sentence/paragraph hasn't the substance to respond to - the rambling, disjointed mumblings of the ill educated and misinformed, exacerbated by dire reading AND comprehension skills.

That you are supplied with a forum here is a tribute to tolerance and forbearance of the site's host, opinion is not illegal even if misinformed, and is certainly (for some) a doG given right - exercise it with wisdom (and a little bit of judgment as well). I have no intention of continuing this particular issue with you.

Posted by: Formerly T-Bear | Jan 22 2016 11:37 utc | 117

@ 118 original link used but not transferred

Wayoutwest | Jan 21, 2016 4:06:45 PM | 76 Seria - Some Preliminary …

Posted by: Formerly T-Bear | Jan 22 2016 11:42 utc | 118

The effects of the sex ratio in societies and in migration - what a feminist foreign policy would mean.

Posted by: somebody | Jan 22 2016 14:19 utc | 119

pat @ ssr.. the guy is a lot more immature then i could give him credit for! he acts like a spoiled little brat actually.. it's impressive..

Posted by: james | Jan 22 2016 17:18 utc | 120

state of union,

*After a decade in which we fought two wars that cost us dearly, in blood and treasure,
its time for a sober re assessment of our priorities.
shouldnt we turn inwards and start working on the myiad problems at home instead of trying to rule the whole fucking world ?

the United States is turning our attention to the vast potential of the Asia Pacific region….As we end today’s wars, I have directed my national security team to make our presence and mission in the Asia Pacific a top priority*


Posted by: denk | Jan 23 2016 5:08 utc | 121


Some may remember the fabulous "fauxreal" and all that she added to this site. We'd lost touch and I didn't even know she was unwell and I never knew that we'd lost her until this morning. I thought that b and some others might want to know. She loved this place.

Best to all of you.

Posted by: beq | Jan 24 2016 18:15 utc | 122

thanks beq. i will never forget our trip...

Posted by: annie | Jan 24 2016 20:11 utc | 123

I 'remember' fauxreal, from the faux real world of words with 'names' written beneath them. Sad to hear she's gone. She was an enthusiast, as both of you were then. Glad you're both still 'here'. That was a different age, so it seems now.

Posted by: jfl | Jan 24 2016 23:07 utc | 124

Response to rufus' comment.

As usual, you are twisting things. So, once again, I feel that I have to respond.

I'm more interested in socialist politics and proletarian leadership ...

And yet ... you support Hillary.

Your boy Tsipras ...

I'm not a Tsipras supporter, as much as you try to push that falsehood. In fact, you plagiarized from my comment that described why Tsipras' call for elections proved beyond a doubt that he was a betrayer.

And since then you have tried to twist my support for Syriza's resistance into support for Tsipras. Even to the point of disputing what I wrote above: that the Troika made an effort to undercut support for Syriza, and that the lack of support from outside Greece greatly reduced the chances that Syriza could prevail. And you add the laughable claim that support from the left would not help Greece.

... who are your vaunted "progressives," and what exactly would you have had them do?

Snearing at "progressives" again. What a good socialist you are! But you're not really, are you? AFAICT, you are a zionist marxist (in that order) - essentially, an elitist.

In fact, a major Euopean leftist organization declined to support Syriza at a crucial point. Who were they? hint: it was covered by NakedCapitalism - which you claim to read everyday.

They were clearly intimidated. The Troika NEEDED to beat Syriza as a lesson to others so the Troika unleashed a media campaign that let it be know that the Greeks were unworthy of support and would be defeated.

... why do you address remarks at me?

I respond to your attacks against me. On a few occasions last year I initiated interaction when you made wrote comments that were insensitive or just plain wrong-headed.

You ALWAYS fight back with BS - as you are now - to the point of ridiculousness (hence my "fool in mouth disease" quip). Now you have chosen to OWN it, with the slogan: "bull shit beats Jack shit." LOL!

... are you again going to try to get me banned?

I thought that you should be banned for excusing Israeli state murder. It is insensitive and an affront to the MoA community - some of whom may take real risks when writing critically about human rights and government wrong-doing.

But as you know its not up to me, so your question amounts to taunting b.

Posted by: Jackrabbit | Jan 25 2016 15:46 utc | 125

@beq - thank you for letting us know. May fauxreal rest in peace.

She was smart and funny in her own way.

Insisted on her personal pillow before you all visited and so I had to buy one for her. We bought a few pop-up books together. I had to push her bit to buy a big Spanish one in Berlin. It was too expensive but she really wanted it and needed some help from me to justify the expense.

Too bad she could not fulfill her big dream. I would have loved to rummage through the bookstore she would have stocked.

Posted by: b | Jan 25 2016 19:42 utc | 126

in re 126 --

Which major leftist organization; link please? I find "not the man but the resistance" disingenuous. He was elected to lead resistance, and he wound up campaigning and now governing on compliance.

Posted by: rufus magister | Jan 26 2016 1:16 utc | 127

Podemos backed away from support for Syriza. As described here: Ties with Syriza could leave Podemos in a bind.

Yet Podemos suffered anyway: Has the party ended for Podemos? After a meteoric rise, Spain’s radical left loses its luster.

As intended:

El Mundo: Isn’t it true that one of the main reasons Europe treated Greece in a such hard way was to try to prevent the growth of Podemos in Spain?

Yanis Varoufakis: Of course.

Greece found NO support from peripheral countries that were hit hard by austerity. The political establishment in these countries didn't want their failure to represent their people to become widely known. Podemos was influenced to do take a 'wait and see' approach instead of fully supporting Syriza.

Together, Syria and Podemos could've led an EU coalition against austerity. Something like what is now taking shape with Blockupy and Yanis' DiEM.

Also note: Anti-austerity Socialists in Ireland are also finding renewed support as the establishment doubles down on austerity measures with regressive tax measures. And, of course, Portugal has also turned against austerity.

Posted by: Jackrabbit | Jan 26 2016 5:10 utc | 128

Well hey, that's some sort of response. I don't think they demonstrate your point, however.

Podemos is not (yet?) a governing party. So what could this new party have done in opposition?

I/m not a FT subscriber, so can't read that link. But your other link suggests that EU acted to prevent Podemos's growth, which, given it's recent electoral gains, doesn't seem to have worked.

My fellow sectarians at WSWS I think would disagree with your characterization as well. They see Podemos patterning itself after Syriza, though blowing smoke otherwise.

Podemos, regardless of its rhetoric, has cheered Syriza’s austerity measures in Greece, making clear its readiness to facilitate the imposition of similar attacks in Spain. For the past two years it has invested huge amounts of energy in promoting itself as a serious party to rule in the name of the bourgeoisie. It has included former judges, police and even a former Chief of the Defence Staff in its leadership; made patriotic speeches in defence of national salvation; and horse-traded the formation of regional governments and local town councils with the Socialist Party and other parties.

Of course, maybe the discussion at NC that you alluded to but have yet to cite says different.

And I believe I've posted about Varoufakis' response to Blockupy, they're getting together before the 4 Feb. kickoff of Varoufakis' new grouping. But it's too late in the eve. for me to dig it up.

Posted by: rufus magister | Jan 26 2016 6:32 utc | 129

You don't have to be an ft subscriber. Google allows free access. Put the title into google.

* a trick that is frequently mentioned at NC, by the way.

Posted by: Jackrabbit | Jan 26 2016 6:39 utc | 130

I presume you mean Sinn Fein -- I saw an MEP of theirs a few days ago on Max Keiser. The Irish goverment opposes relief for Greece, you know. See here.

That new Portugese coalition now opposes austerity is a good thing (new pres. says he'll work to defeat the left; again too late to find the link, IT was in my bookmarks). But present events don't support arguments about folks actions in the past.

I just had a quick look, though, and I get alot of links that said "Podemos close ally of Syriza," like this one.

Posted by: rufus magister | Jan 26 2016 6:44 utc | 131

It is Irish socialists and Sinn Fein.

Look at the ft article.

Posted by: Jackrabbit | Jan 26 2016 6:54 utc | 132

Let's hope the IT guys over FT don't fix that bug. BTW, I don't read every link or article at NC everyday, and I certainly don't frequent the comments. And it's often esoterica, like this. I got into industrial history in grad school.

The article contains no evidence that anyone in the Troika pressured Podemos into doing anything.

Before I start "High quality global journalism requires investment. Please share this article with others using the link below, do not cut & paste the article."

Sure. I'm thinking, Fair Use. But I'll be sparing, considering the delicate sensibilities of FT copyright lawyers.

In the weeks leading up to the Greek elections, the Spanish group showed itself consistently keen to emphasise the common ground with Syriza: the two parties form a common bloc in the European Parliament, and their leaders have spoken at each other’s campaign events. On Sunday, Podemos hailed Syriza’s victory as the beginning of a new political era for Europe.

In the days that followed, however, the tone has shifted — still supportive, but a little more detached.

So again, please, exactly what might the recently-formed ally, sitting in opposition, with then-uncertain politics done differently?

Posted by: rufus magister | Jan 26 2016 13:25 utc | 133

Oops should read --

In the weeks leading up to the Greek elections, the Spanish group showed itself consistently keen to emphasise the common ground with Syriza: the two parties form a common bloc in the European Parliament, and their leaders have spoken at each other’s campaign events. On Sunday, Podemos hailed Syriza’s victory as the beginning of a new political era for Europe.

In the days that followed, however, the tone has shifted — still supportive, but a little more detached.

Now I'm sure to get Legal all over my back, quoting them twice.

I'm rushing out the door to work. It's the curse of the drinking classes, you know, said Oscar Wilde.

Posted by: rufus magister | Jan 26 2016 13:32 utc | 134

Here is Costas Lapavitsas in yesterday's Guardian: One year on, Syriza has sold its soul for power.

I disagree with Costas when he says that there was no "... coup engineered by conservative politicians and EU officials, determined to eliminate any risk of contagion." The 'coup' occurred over many years - it was merely revealed via Greece's negotiations. And most observers agree that there WAS a determination to make an example of Greece.

Costas is trying to draw a bright line between him/his group and Tsipras/Yanis/Syriza. He doesn't want to acknowledge ANY benefits from their failed strategy.

With that said, here is the part that is relevant to our discussion:

A year ago the Syriza leadership was convinced that if it rejected a new bailout, European lenders would buckle in the face of generalised financial and political unrest. The risks to the eurozone were, they presumed, greater than the risks to Greece. (emphasis is mine)

Podemos had the most to gain or lose outside Greece. Their fate was largely tied to the outcome of Greece, whether they liked it or not. They could've chosen to support Syria completely with the message: "the Greek struggle is OUR struggle". And they could've helped to build a Euro-wide movement. If they had, Greeks would not have been isolated and Tsipras' referendum would've meant much much more.

Syriza was counting on, among other things, the threat of "political unrest" - which means little when it occurs in Greece but means a lot if it occurs in bigger countries and/or across the EU.

The ft article that I linked to shows that Podemos was hesitant to provide support. The excuse is that Podemos wanted to go "mainstream". But that amounts to running away from their base and ignoring the clear linkage to other anti-austerity movements and Parties across the EU (especially Greece).

I mentioned other countries anti-austerity efforts to show that others could have / would have risen to support Greece also. It seems that the European Left is only coming together AFTER the Greece debacle. But the need for unity could easily have been anticipated and brought to fruition much sooner.

I don't have a 'smoking gun', but IMO, Podemos was intimidated. The Spainish political establishment, as in other peripheral countries, was opposed to any special concessions to Greece. "Moving to the center" was Podemos excuse for supporting the establishment point of view. Instead of making a CLASS argument, they acceded to the nationalist argument of the establishment.

Yes, Syriza made many mistakes. Chief among these was that they didn't foresee Troika moves to nullify Greek advantages. The ECB started QE (which didn't include Greece!); bailout funds were withheld to put pressure on Greece (which was running a surplus at that time); and the establishment-friendly MSM painted Greeks as not worthy of support and Yanis as incompetent.

A secondary failure (as pointed out by Costas) was not preparing for failure in the negotiations. What Syriza offered the EU was NOT very radical. Debt for equity swaps and debt forgiveness have been used many times in the past when debt burdens have reached a point that it suffocates the debtor.

And that fact makes Podemos' hesitance more stark. Syriza's approach was NOT actually so radical that it would taint Podemos. But Podemos knew that solidarity with Syriza meant drawing class distinctions that would make it subject to attacks from many quarters.

In the end, the biggest support came from an unlikely source: the right. Marie LePen said that if Greece were to exit the Euro, France would be next out the door. This prompted the French government to be somewhat supportive of Greece. THIS support plus a promise of meaningful debt relief(tm) might have worked to keep Greece in the Euro. But that now seems to have been a ruse - and one which Tsipras accepted (to his everlasting shame).

The ONLY saving grace is that the Euro establishment overplayed their hand. Stomping on Greece like a cockroach raised awareness of the cruel and undemocratic nature of the EU. IF the EU had been less harsh, Podemos might have fared much worse at the polls last month. But if they had been more supportive in the Spring, they might be ruling Spain today.

Posted by: Jackrabbit | Jan 26 2016 22:44 utc | 135

in re 136 --

A very good case study on my point -- to change reality, one must understand it first. I saw the link at NC this morning, but work interfered....

Here's what I took as the bottom line. Emphasis added.

Lapavitsas notes that the EU had a "rigid set of institutions with their own internal logic that would simply reject demands to abandon austerity and write off debt," but Syriza did not see this. Their negotiating strategy merely annoyed the Troika, actually hardening their attitude.

Greece could not negotiate effectively without an alternative plan, including the possibility of exiting the monetary union, since creating its own liquidity was the only way to avoid the headlock of the ECB. That would be far from easy, of course, but at least it would have offered the option of standing up to the catastrophic bailout strategies of the lenders. Unfortunately, the Syriza leadership would have none of it....

Syriza attempted one last throw of the dice in July, when Tsipras called a referendum.... Tsipras had campaigned for a rejection but when the result came in he realised that in practice, it meant exiting the euro, for which his government had made no serious preparations. To be sure there were back-of-the-envelope “plans”... but such amateurish ideas were of no use at one minute to midnight. Furthermore, the Greek people had not been prepared and Syriza as a political party barely functioned on the ground [and that likely goes for its Left Platform, too - rm]. Above all, Tsipras and his circle were personally committed to the euro. Confronted with the catastrophic results of his strategy, he surrendered abjectly to the lenders.

Frankly, I'd say if they had had good organization and had prepared the masses, that sketchy nature of their plans might not have mattered. But if wishes were horses, we beggars would ride.

And of course, as I noted at the time, they could have resigned, leaving the others to implement the austerity program that they could not forestall.

You're going to need a stronger base of data to show that Podemos put any real daylight between themselves and Syriza. That they remain in the same Europarliamentary group suggests not.

Posted by: rufus magister | Jan 27 2016 0:14 utc | 136

Oops, time pressures caused this omission in 137 --

Lapavitsas on Tsipras' expectations -- "If Syriza negotiated hard, it would be offered an 'honourable compromise' relaxing austerity and lightening the national debt."

Rather like two noble gentlemen dueling.

Posted by: rufus magister | Jan 27 2016 0:20 utc | 137

@@ Jackrabbit | Jan 26, 2016 5:44:55 PM | 136

Podemos has received a political pummelling since its first appearance upon the Spanish political scene. It seems the Party Popular (PP) is all to willing to share its incorrigible corruption with the new party - theoretically to create a level playing field between. Corruption assertions have flown ceaselessly from the PP to discredit Podemos leadership and have succeeded in retiring some of the original Podemos leadership since which may shed light on the appearance of distance between Podemos and Syriza. In today's El País a report on how Podemos MPs are being treated in the Spanish Parliament by PP caretaker government (link to El País/English site).
El País (Spanish) site
Am including both for finding archives of Spanish political reporting (El País is leftist influenced of Spanish news media spectrum). Happy hunting.

Posted by: Formerly T-Bear | Jan 27 2016 10:20 utc | 138

@139 FTB

Thanks for the link!

Posted by: jfl | Jan 28 2016 12:58 utc | 139

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