Tuesday, August 18, 2020

Truest statement of the week

 Under these conditions, enormous pressure is being brought to bear to convince workers and young people to support the campaign of Biden and Harris. Whatever reservations they may have over the right-wing character of the Democratic Party and its candidates, the argument goes, this is the only way to get rid of Trump. Everything else must be subordinated to this electoral outcome.

This is hardly the first election in which such “lesser evil” arguments were advanced. In 1988, it was a matter of voting for Dukakis, the right-wing governor from Massachusetts, to finally put an end to the Reagan years. After Dukakis lost to George H.W. Bush, the following election in 1992 became a matter of putting an end to the Bush years by electing Bill Clinton, whose right-wing policies cleared the path for Bush II in 2000. In 2008, the argument became the need to elect Obama, the “candidate of hope and change,” in order to end the disaster produced by Bush II, above all, the war in Iraq.

Obama continued the most right-wing policies of George W. Bush (with whom, by the way, he has established a close personal friendship), including the wars in Iraq and Afghanistan and the overseeing of the Wall Street bailout following the 2008 financial collapse. It was the right-wing policies of Obama and the nomination of Hillary Clinton on the basis of a prowar program, glossed over with identity politics, that created the conditions for the election of Trump in 2016.

This act, in other words, has been played out before, and each time the result is a further shift to the right of the entire political establishment.

In this case, amidst all the hoopla over the “historic” character of the Biden-Harris ticket, attributed entirely to the race and gender of Harris, the nominees have been selected through the machinations of the Democratic Party against the candidacy of Bernie Sanders and even Elizabeth Warren.

That is, the Democratic Party’s campaign is founded on a repudiation of any suggestion that it will carry out a policy of social reform. The Democrats are not even making the pretense of providing a program to address the catastrophe unfolding in the United States.

-- Joseph Kishore, "The Biden/Harris campaign and the dead-end of “lesser evil” politics" (WSWS).

Truest statement of the week II

 But we might be permitted to ask: Is there any figure the Democrats could nominate that Jacobin and the DSA would not claim could “gesture [!] leftward under pressure”? If they selected Genghis Khan, Jacobin would perhaps find something positive to say about the role he played in uniting the tribes of Northeast Asia. Or perhaps Donald Trump himself, (who, it should be noted, donated to Harris’ campaign in 2016), if he were to jump political ship again and run on the Democratic ticket, would be discovered to have some saving grace.

The aim of organizations like Jacobin and the DSA is always to maintain the political domination of the Democratic Party. Whether it is the idea that the Democratic Party is the “lesser evil,” advocating for its reform, or “pressuring” its representatives to the left, the goal is the same: to block what they fear the most--an independent working class mobilization.

As the Democratic Party moves further to the right, the task of these figures becomes all the more challenging. They must attempt to maintain their political credibility among young people who are disillusioned with the Democratic Party while at the same time keeping workers and youth tied hand and foot to the political establishment. They are constantly calibrating their message based on what is necessary to sell it.

-- Genevieve Leigh, "Jacobin Magazine on the selection of Kamala Harris: Stick with the Democrats!" (WSWS). 


A note to our readers

 Hey --

Early Tuesday morning.  At last. 

Let's thank all who participated this edition which includes Dallas and the following:

The Third Estate Sunday Review's Jim, Dona, Ty, Jess and Ava,
Rebecca of Sex and Politics and Screeds and Attitude,

Betty of Thomas Friedman Is a Great Man,
C.I. of The Common Ills and The Third Estate Sunday Review,
Kat of Kat's Korner (of The Common Ills),
Mike of Mikey Likes It!,
Elaine of Like Maria Said Paz),
Cedric of Cedric's Big Mix,
Ruth of Ruth's Report,
Wally of The Daily Jot,
Trina of Trina's Kitchen, 
Stan of Oh Boy It Never Ends,
Isaiah of The World Today Just Nuts,
and Ann of Ann's Mega Dub.

And what did we come up with? 


-- Jim, Dona, Ty, Jess, Ava and C.I.

Editorial: Good thing the prime minister is defending protesters right?

 Since May 7th, Mustafa al-Kadhimi has been the prime minister of Iraq.  Even before he became prime minister, he made noises about protecting the protesters.

So why are they still being targeted?

"Activist Tahseen Osama is assassinated while Turke..." brought the news that Tahseen Osama had been assassinated:

Tahseen Osama: A peaceful demonstrator from Basra / Iraq, Iran's militias in Basra killed him by firing 20 bullets at him, tahseen wanted a free state, he wished punished killers of peaceful protesters in Iraq, his assassination caused anger of all revolutionaries in Iraq. RIP
9:33 PM · Aug 15, 2020

When there is a response from the prime minister, it seems like it's just not enough.  Ruba Ali al-Hassani notes:

#Iraq PM Kadhimi relieves #Basra Police Chief Rashid Fleih of his position. This comes after the assassination of activist Tahseen Osama and the targeting of more activists. Of course, this is not enough, and the people want accountability. #IraqProtests

Two more were targeted today.  Yousif al-Hashimi Tweets:

JUST IN: A ‘failed’ assassination attempt to the activists, Lodia Raymond and Abbas Subhi, by unknown gunmen #Basra at the same time of an ongoing protest condemning the killing of activist Tahseen Osama.
10:03 AM · Aug 17, 2020

That's two who were targeted today.  A third turned the table on her assailants.

Ruqayya Al-Dossari, an engineer and activist in the protest movement, survived from an assassination attempt today in Basra after confronting the militias with her own gun. . #WAS #help !
1:06 PM · Aug 17, 2020

When does the government plan to start leading?



 The Muppets have been around forever and, sadly, that's part of the problem with DISNEY+'s new series MUPPETS NOW. Jim and Jane Henson created the original Muppets back in the 50s and they appeared on the TV show SAM AND FRIENDS from 1955 to 1961.  Kermit the Frog made his debut on that program along with 13 other puppets.  Kermit's really the only one still around today but we should note that the 14 characters including only one female character (Henrietta).  The Muppets followed the cancellation of their TV shows the way many new celebrities do: Appearing on talk shows.  In 1969, they started appearing on SESAME STREET.


In all these years on SESAME STREET, the Muppets did multiply.  But note the figures.  At least 96 individual characters were created.  Only 28 of those were women -- and most were one-shots or side pieces -- girlfriends, a mother who shows up very rarely, go down the list.

In 1975, they moved over to SATURDAY NIGHT LIVE for one season.  The sixteen episodes featured six brand new Muppet characters and, for a change, females weren't vastly outnumbers -- though they were outnumbers.  Two of the six characters were female.  1974 saw ABC air THE MUPPETS VALENTINE SHOW featured twleve named and individual characters -- only three were female.  As had been the pattern up to this point, none of the women mattered.  They were side pieces.  Female character brought on to reassure audiences that all the men show revolved around were not homosexuals (see last week's piece).  Honestly, that's the only reason, get real.  Doubt us?  In 1975, ABC aired another special: THE MUPPETS: SEX AND VIOLENCE.  A little over 39 characters with names were featured -- we're leaving out 'emotions' -- and only three were women.   Janice, the guitarist in the band, made her first appearance on this special.

Female Pig also appeared in the episode.  She would later morph into Miss Piggy (1976) but for now she was just another unnamed female Muppet with nothing to do.  In 1976, THE MUPPET SHOW debuted in England on ITV and in the US in syndication.  Miss Piggy was the breakout character.  A female character (voiced by Frank Oz) was finally given something to do and, no surprise, audiences loved her.  There are 35 main, supporting and minor characters on the show.  How many are female?  Two.  Miss Piggy was the only main female character, Camilla the Chicken was listed as "supporting" and Janice existed in a state of flux (and was performed by two different men).

The show ran for 128 episodes.  They had 133 hosts (the troupe Mummenschanz and the duo of Shields and Yarnell were among the hosts).  133 people hosted.  How many were women.  Fifty-nine.

THE MUPPET SHOW failed to feature female characters beyond Miss Piggy as leads and they had women for only 44.6% of their hosts.  And the women had to be big names -- we're talking legends like Diana Ross, Liza Minnelli, Leslie Uggams, Lola Falana, Madeline Khan, Rita Moreno, Lena Horne,  etc. 

The Muppets branched out into film with the first being 1979's THE MUPPET MOVIE.   25 characters showed up.  Three were females.  Miss Piggy was the only female prominently featured.  Camilla the Chicken was briefly part of the film as was Janice.  The film was a huge success and, though a film franchise was launched, the TV series ended.  They don't show up as series regulars again until 1985 on the ill-fated LITTLE MUPPET MONSTERS (a Saturday morning program that lasted only 3 episodes and mix live-action with animation).  1989 saw another failure: THE JIM HENSON HOUR -- airing on NBC in the US, it lasted only eleven episodes.  Miss Piggy was featured prominently on only one episode.  The less said, the better.

They returned in 1997 when MUPPETS TONIGHT runs for two seasons (and 22 episodes).   Twenty-six established characters show up for this season -- only two are women: Miss Piggy and the minor character of Polly Lobster (who showed up in the film MUPPET TREASURE ISLAND).  31 new characters are created for the show -- only three are female.

Think it couldn't get worse?  You must have missed 2015's THE MUPPETS which ABC aired for one season.  An attempt to rip off Christopher Guest's mockumentary genre (as MODERN FAMILY, PARKS AND RECREATION, THE OFFICE and so many others already had), it did offer a significant new female character -- for six episodes.  Well, not really a character.  More of a dream.  Her name was Denise and she existed to be a threat -- nightmare -- for Miss Piggy as Kermit fell for Denise.  

It was an awful addition and it was an awful show. 

They're now back in a live action series.  MUPPETS NOW airs on DISNEY+ so you'd think there would be some sort of realization that they needed more female characters.  You would be wrong.

Miss Piggy, Camilla the Chicken and Janice return for the series.  There are even six new female characters (all performed by a woman for a change): Yolanda the Rat, Beverly Plume, Margaret, Rosie the Sheep, Priscilla the Chicken and Brie the Cheese.  Of the six, only Beverly Plume appears in multiple episodes thus far. 

Nine female Muppets.  22 male Muppets are also featured.  

Is DISNEY not committed to diversity?  Has their popular line of princesses left them unaware that little girls (and boys) like to see female characters?  

In 2020, why are we forced to tackle this topic?  

At what point are corporations going to start responding with portrayals that -- if only symbolically -- reflect the culture we live in today?

The six episodes are erratic.  Three have aired so far, DISNEY+ is releasing one episode a week. And erratic?   That's true within each episode itself, by the way.  The strongest segment is always LIFESTY(LE) WITH MISS PIGGY and that's because Miss Piggy is a well defined character.   PEPE'S UNBELIEVABLE GAME SHOW is a hit-or-miss.  Sometimes it's funny and sometimes you're just counting the minutes until it's over.  It's a shame the series features no real music production numbers or film and TV send-ups.  

The Muppets have a lot of life in them.  But the show needs to be better.  It needs to be funnier and it needs to be stronger.  The characters need to be fleshed out -- if you weren't part of the 1976 series, chances are you're really just a sketch and not an actual character.  The audience deserves that, the beloved characters do as well.

But most of all, the show needs to be adding female characters.  This is a show geared for children -- that's why it airs on DISNEY+ -- and it's a shame that there are so few female characters on the show and even more of a shame that the few on the show are badly used. 


Film and TV send-ups forced them to use female characters (Miss Piggy in PIGS IN SPACE, BAYS OF PIGWATCH and PIGS IN SPACE: DEEP DISH NINE; Darci in THE REAL WORLD MUPPETS; and Miss Piggy and Janice in VETERINARIAN HOSPITAL, for example).  They also provided easy laughs even the humor was less than sharp because audiences caught the reference points.  

Instead, the skits are presented as internet moments (YOUTUBE uploads), ZOOM calls or test segments DISNEY wants approved first by the old men in the balcony -- not not Gene and Roger, Statler and Waldorf. The regular skit that always works is LIFESTY(LE) WITH MISS PIGGY.  MUP CLOSE AND PERSONAL is funny (but the funniest is with Aubrey Plaza and has a lot to do with the fact that Miss Piggy does that interview).  The skits that flounder the worst are Pepe's game show and MUPPET LABS FIELD TEST. 

What works best?  

Letting Muppets be Muppets.  2015's THE MUPPETS drained the characters of what made them special by trying to turn them into the Dumpheys on MODERN FAMILY.  We didn't need a mockumentary format and all that did was take away the magic and the excitement these characters have always had built-in.  This go round, the taping of this internet show plays more like the original series putting together their variety show at the Muppet Theater.  And they get to be zany.  Gonzo, for example, is back to life after limping through THE MUPPETS.  It would be great to see them do big productions moments that pulls dozens of Muppets in but instead, in a reflection of the coronavirus times we live in, Muppets are doled out sparingly and socially distanced. 

In terms of format and execution, the series feels like it had to be made today, could only exist today.  More than any other series in the last 12 months, MUPPETS NOW reflects the world we're living in and more than any other series in the last 12 months, MUPPETS NOW seems trapped in a time capsule buried decades ago.


Joe Biden and his empty bag of tricks

Felix The Cat carried a bag.  It was a bag full of tricks.  Joe Biden?  His bag is empty.  

Last week, he announced that Senator Kamala Harris would be his running mate (he's the presumed Democratic Party presidential nomination).  And with that announcement, all the interest in his campaign vanished.

Since Bernie Sanders dropped out of the race for the nomination back in April, even a Biden-friendly press has been unable to find anything interesting about Joe so the coverage has instead focused on who he might choose?

Eeny meeny miny moe . . . now where will the camera go?

Joe's done nothing for months.

Green Party presidential candidate Howie Hawkins pointed out last week, "I put out a statement on Monday because I'm really getting mad at Joe Biden. You know, we know Trump gave up on covid, tens of thousands of people are dying, Trump is a loser.  But where is Joe Biden? He lives within commuter distance to the White House.  He could convene them [the press] for a news conferences to pound away at Trump for what we need to suppress the virus: test, trace and quarantine program.  And, while he's at it, he could defend the postal office.  He could talk about the need for mail-in ballots.  He could talk about the need for $600 supplement for unemployed people who lost their benefit this week.  And, instead, he's AWOL and Trump is dominating the airwaves with his stupid press conferences."

He could talk about mail-in ballots, yes, but wouldn't that just expose what a hypocrite he actually was?  As Katie Halper (JACOBIN) noted last March:

Donald Trump is the single individual in US society most responsible for spreading dangerous misinformation about COVID-19 in the midst of a global pandemic. Anyone who echoes him, or his administration’s entreaties to not take going out in public too seriously, is engaging in public endangerment. Anyone who actively encourages people to gather in mass, and in close proximity, is doing so at a mass scale.

So why, in contravention of Center for Disease Control (CDC) guidelines and health experts’ urgings, did the DNC and Joe Biden’s campaign do just that at immense scale earlier this month, as major cities were already closing public spaces? And why have media that have deservedly taken Trump and his administration to task for their fatal failures not done the same with Democratic leadership?

If a senior adviser to President Donald Trump falsely claimed on national television that the CDC had declared that it was safe to vote in person, despite its actual recommendation to the contrary, the adviser and the president would be rightly condemned by much of corporate media as, at best, incompetent and ignorant, and, at worst, dishonest and reckless in encouraging people to put their lives at risk.

And if poll workers had contracted COVID-19 at locations which violated CDC recommendations, the adviser and the president would be rightly blamed for exposing them to the virus.

Yet after the CDC on March 15 advised the public to cancel all gatherings of more than fifty people, a senior adviser to Joe Biden, the current frontrunning Democratic presidential candidate, went on CNN and claimed the CDC had deemed in-person voting safe. And not a single major media outlet reported on it.

Nor did they report on the actual dangerous conditions at multiple primary voting sites, and the exposure of trusting citizens to the coronavirus that the adviser’s reckless advice had encouraged. And it wasn’t just one irresponsible adviser that put people at risk: DNC chair Tom Perez made misleading statements, downplayed the dangers and exaggerated the preparedness of voting sites, and criticized and threatened states which wanted to postpone their primaries. The Biden campaign as well as the DNC put politics over people, exposing countless voters to a fatal virus.

We now know that at least two poll workers at locations described as safe by Perez and the Biden campaign have contracted COVID-19. It’s unknown how many more poll workers, voters, and the people they came into contact with will also contract the virus.

Senior Biden campaign adviser Symone Sanders made the dishonest statements during a post-debate interview on Sunday night, March 15. This was hours after the CDC released a statement (3/15/20) that advised canceling all gatherings of fifty or more people. The CDC advisory was mentioned at the very beginning of the debate, and also during Anderson Cooper’s post-debate interview with Bernie Sanders.

Joe can't call out anyone who doesn't support mail-in ballots too loudly because of his own past actions.

Senator Kamala Harris slammed Donald Trump last week.  C.I. offered an analysis which included the following:

And how does that play out with an electorate that's concerned about a number of issues -- including the pandemic?

Are people going to want to change horses mid-stream?

If the person looks capable, maybe.

But Joe doesn't look capable.  He's hidden himself away.  He's had one proposal and then another -- he was talking in June about an executive order needed by a president to make masks a mandate and this week he changed it to letting the governors decide and issue.  He's done nothing to lead and, yes, he is supposed to be the leader.  He's not just the presumed nominee, he's a man who spent decades in the US Senate and then went on to be vice president for two terms.  Supposedly, he's spent his entire adult life training for this moment.

And what he's shown isn't impressive at all.

Kamala's attacking Donald Trump.  Repeatedly now.  For the coronavirus.  It should be attack and move on.  The longer she repeats the attack, the more people wonder why Joe has had so little to say and when she starts talking about the early days of this pandemic?

Joe Biden and his campaign said it was safe to vote -- deaths proved that wrong.  Joe was all go out and vote for me.  It's safe.

It wasn't.  Joe's history on the pandemic is not a strong one.  

And when Kamala hits Donald Trump on this issue, it not only brings up Joe's own bad behavior, it also makes people think, "Wait, for months and months, it's been patty-cakes and now Kamala's going after Trump?"  Meaning, "Where's Joe Biden been with the hard hitting criticism?"

Joe's history is not a strong one.  He's done so little.  America deserves better.  So much better.

The strong need for make up

We never realized how important make up was on TV until now. And we're not trying to take anything away from the excellent work done by this yearn's nominees: Zena Shteysel Green, Angela Moos, Patti Ramsey-Bortoli, Sarah Woolf, Julie Socash, Alison Gladieux, Donna Bard and Nadege Schoenfeld (DANCING WITH THE STARS), Bruce Grayson, Angela Moos, Jennifer Aspinall, Julie Socash, Valerie Hunt, Tym Buacharen, Jennifer Nigh and Robin Beauchesne (THE LITTLE MERMAID LIVE!), Bruce Grayson, Angela Moos, Jill Cady, Peter D'Oliveira, Zena Shteysel, Jennifer Aspinall, James MacKinnon and Deborah Huss Humphries (THE OSCARS), Natasha Marcelina, David Petruschin, Jen Fregozo and Nicole Faulkner (RUPAUL'S DRAG RACE) and Darcy Diana Gilmore, Kathleen Karridene, Alexis Walker, Nikki Carbonetta, Erin Guth, Gregory Arlt, Michelle DeMilt and Gloria Elias-Foillet (THE VOICE).

Those people were nominated for an Emmy this year in the category of Outstanding Contemporary Makeup for a Variety, Nonfiction or Reality Program (Non-Prosthetic) and they are all deserving.

But . . .

If the pandemic has done anything for TV, it should have brought huge and tremendous appreciation for the make up and hair work of others.


For example, before the pandemic, did you realize how hard they had to work to make Stephen Colbert look anything other than beige?

What about the work required to make John Oliver look like something other than the pimply kid picked on in high schools across the country?


Worst of all?  Those who work on Seth Meyers.



They deserve hazard pay.

If you ever suffered from an illusion that men on TV don't wear make up or that it wasn't needed, the pandemic should have corrected your faulty impressions.


#WikiLeaks' Iraq War Logs and what it means for #PressFreedom


Online discussion with @iainoverton and @chrisjwoods this Saturday 15 Aug 6pm BST. #FreeAssange #DontExtraditeAssange

Other campaigns react to the news that Kamala Harris is Joe's running mate

 Last week, Joe Biden, presumed Democratic Party presidential nominee, announced that he was picking Senator Kamala Harris as his running mate.  The other presidential campaigns reacted.

Libertarian Party presidential candidate Jo Jorgensen  issued the following statement:

Presumptive Democratic presidential nominee Joe Biden, who has stressed that he wanted to pick a running mate who is “simpatico” with his own views, has chosen former prosecutor Sen. Kamala Harris. By choosing her, Biden, who was the architect of the 1994 crime bill, has “doubled down on his penchant for using the law against people who commit nonviolent, victimless crimes,” said Dr. Jo Jorgensen, the Libertarian candidate for president.

During her tenure as attorney general for California, Kamala Harris oversaw the incarceration of over 1,500 people convicted of cannabis violations.

“What Kamala Harris did in the courtroom would put her in good company with the most brutal police on the streets,” said Jorgensen. “She is guilty of prosecutorial brutality, the silent partner of police brutality.”

“Compare a typical episode of police brutality–getting slapped around and thrown in jail for a night–with being thrown in prison for ten years,” said Jorgensen. “That’s the kind of prosecutorial brutality for which Kamala Harris is notorious.”

In 1998, Daniel Larson was wrongfully charged and convicted of possession of a knife. After ten years in prison, the Innocence Project took his case and got him exonerated. Kamala Harris fought his release every step of the way. To add insult to injury, her office put the kibosh on Larson’s suit to get compensation for wrongful incarceration.

Harris also liked using her power as a D.A. to threaten parents whose kids were absent from school. From 2004-2011, she sent a letter to every San Francisco parent of public-school students, threatening to prosecute them for truancy under a law that punishes the parents if their child is more than 30 minutes late for school, 20 times.

“Kamala Harris’s idea of helping kids who don’t show up for public school is to threaten their parents with a $2,500 fine or jail time,” said Jorgensen.

“The president sets the tone for law enforcement in our country, and the vice-president is next in line,” said Jorgensen. “If we want to put an end to police brutality, the last thing we need is a champion of prosecutorial brutality one heartbeat away from the White House.

Green Party presidential candidate Howie Hawkins offered:

Former Vice President Joe Biden’s selection of Senator Kamala Harris as his running mate shows Biden doubling down on his long history of excessive law enforcement and support for the war on drugs. 

In a year of national uprising against police violence, Kamala Harris who spent 25 years in law enforcement is an ironic selection. Her campaign for president ended quickly as she dropped out of the race two months before the Iowa Caucus and three days before the filing deadline to be on the ballot in her home state of California, where she was behind in the polls. Part of her decline was caused by voter dismay at her reversal on Medicare For All, when she flip-flopped to a policy that subsidized private health insurance and misleadingly continued to call it Medicare for All.

While Joe Biden was the principal legislative architect of the drug war and mass incarceration from his time on the Senate Judiciary Committee, Harris’s record as a prosecutor and Attorney General was as a foot soldier in the drug war and mass incarceration. As the San Francisco  District Attorney drug-related prosecutions increased from 56 percent in 2003 to 74 percent in 2006. In 2019, she admitted smoking marijuana in college but while Attorney General of California from 2011-2017, Harris sent at least 1,560 people to prison over marijuana-related offenses. In 2014, a week after the New York Times called for legal marijuana, Harris laughed when asked if she supported it. Now, she supports ending federal laws against marijuana, a position not held by Biden.

While Biden sponsored mandatory sentencing, Harris defended one of the worst mandatory sentencing laws in the US, California’s ‘three strikes law’ that also applied to “minor” felonies. She campaigned against a voter initiative that would have reformed this to require serious or violent felonies for life sentences. Harris did not take a position on two ballot initiatives in 2012 and 2014 that would have reduced punishment for low-level crimes and given judges more flexibility at sentencing. Both initiatives passed without her support.

After the killing of Michael Brown in Ferguson, MO, police accountability was on the agenda in the California legislature. Harris refused to take a position on racial profiling by police. As Attorney General she refused to investigate highly questionable police shootings in Los Angeles 2014 and in San Francisco in 2015.

The Socialist and Equality Party's presidential candidate Joseph Kishore wrote a column:

With the selection of Kamala Harris to be the running mate of Joe Biden, the framework of the 2020 elections has been set. As was to be expected, the Democrats have chosen the most right-wing candidates to run the most right-wing campaign possible.

There is a certain inevitability to the choice of Harris. In July of last year, the World Socialist Web Site—based on a survey of who would be the worst, most reactionary and at the same time most suitable choice for second spot on the Democratic Party ticket—predicted that Harris would most likely be named the vice presidential candidate if she failed to win the nomination. She had all the ruthlessness, narcissism and careerism requisite for the job, plus the ethnic background to suit the Democrats’ obsession with racial and gender identity.

Kamala Harris is a dyed-in-the wool political reactionary.

This year has seen mass demonstrations throughout the country in response to the police murder of George Floyd. As a direct result of the policies of the ruling class, nearly 170,000 people have died to date in the coronavirus pandemic, with the daily death toll now at more than 1,000. There is growing anger in workplaces over the homicidal back-to-work campaign and broad opposition among teachers to the efforts to reopen the schools. Tens of millions of people are unemployed, and they have been cut off from federal benefits and face being evicted from their homes.

In the midst of this monumental political, economic and social crisis, and against the backdrop of so much suffering, the American people are to be offered the “choice” between the fascistic Trump, the conman from New York, and a Democratic Party ticket headed by a corporate shill from Delaware and an ex-prosecutor from California. This says everything about the degraded state of American politics.

Following the announcement by Biden on Tuesday, the media leapt into action with its nauseating effusion of state propaganda. The selection of Harris has been universally proclaimed to be “historic,” a watershed moment.

In terms of her politics, there is clearly nothing “historic” about Harris. As district attorney in San Francisco (2004-2011), attorney general in California (2011-2017), and, finally, US senator (2017 to the present), Harris has compiled a track record of backing the police, locking up workers and immigrants, covering up for the banks and supporting militarism and war.

Wall Street is certainly happy with the choice. “A VP pick that big business can back,” ran a headline on the inside pages of the New York Times. As for the military, its main concern is what will happen if the aging Biden doesn’t make it through a full term. Since the beginning of the Trump administration, opposition from the Democratic Party has been focused on issues of foreign policy. Harris, who has no other agenda than her own self-promotion, will be silly putty in the hands of the military-intelligence apparatus.

The “historic” character of the Harris nomination is premised entirely on her race and gender. She would be the “first African-American vice president,” the “first Asian-American vice president” and the “first female vice president.” She already is the “first Black woman on the national ticket of the Democrats or Republicans.” Everything is about the symbolism involved in the choice of Harris, with not a word about the program of a Democratic Party administration.

As if any of this makes a bit of difference for workers, whatever their race, gender or ethnicity. As if, moreover, the world has not already had the example of Obama, not to mention Clarence Thomas, Condoleezza Rice, Susan Rice, Hillary Clinton and many others.

The selection of Harris exposes the utterly reactionary character of politics that bases itself on race, gender and other forms of identity—anything but class. In response to the eruption of protests against police violence, the Democrats did everything they could to obscure the class issues, promote racial divisions and propagate the lie that the violence of the police is an expression of the oppression of “black America” by “white America.” The outcome of this racialist campaign is the selection as their vice-presidential candidate of a right-wing ex-prosecutor who once covered up evidence to keep an innocent man on death row and worked to tear immigrant children from their parents.

Those invested in the racialist campaign have jumped on the bandwagon to declare the selection of Harris “historic.” Ibram Kendi, author of How to Be An Antiracist and one of the chief inspirers of the New York Times’ 1619 Project, wrote on Twitter that “the Democrats now have a presidential ticket that reflects the American people better than the GOP ticket and every presidential ticket in US history.”

According to Kendi, politicians “reflect” the American people not because of the socioeconomic forces they represent, but solely by their racial and ethnic background and their gender. Interests are determined by race. This is not progressive politics, but right-wing and racialist politics, which shares much in common with the fascistic politics of Donald Trump.

Black Lives Matter activist Shaun King wrote that he was “incredibly proud to see a brilliant Black woman, and HBCU [historically black colleges and universities] grad, chosen as a vice presidential nominee.” This was, he added, the stuff “dreams are made of.”

Commenters on Twitter quickly pointed to the contrast between this statement and his declaration in November 2018 that he would never support Biden or Harris because “they both helped build & advance mass incarceration.”

Political principles have never been a strong suit of Democratic Party hacks. They look forward to positions within the Biden administration and other opportunities that will reap financial rewards.

Then there is Bernie Sanders. In the Democratic Party primaries, Sanders won widespread support for his attacks on social inequality and his calls for a “political revolution” against the establishment. On this basis, he emerged as the main contender against Biden for the Democratic Party nomination. In the end, however, the “Sanders wing” of the Democratic Party got nothing.

This has not, however, stopped Sanders from praising the outcome. Sanders tweeted that Harris “will make history as our next vice president.”

Since packing in his campaign in mid-March, Sanders has assumed his assigned role as principal cheerleader for the Biden campaign, along with Elizabeth Warren, et. al. The more that social anger grows, and the more the Democrats are exposed, the more determined is his support for the Democratic Party.

What an exposure of the Democratic Socialists of America (DSA), Jacobin magazine and other political agents of the Democratic Party who claimed that Sanders was the path to the transformation of American politics and even the realization of socialism! They make fools of themselves every election. They will tag along with the Democratic Party in one form or another, no doubt accompanied by talk about how they are building a “progressive movement” inside that party of American imperialism, along with other varieties of political fraud. Every four years, the same play is performed.

There is something incredibly degrading and shameful about the whole process, testifying to the intellectual and cultural collapse of American politics.

Certain conclusions must be drawn from this experience, not only about Sanders, but about an entire type of pragmatic politics that hopes for easy answers to the crisis confronting the working class without a direct challenge to capitalism and its state apparatus.

The politics of the working class must begin with a serious theoretical understanding, rooted in a Marxist and class analysis. The Democratic Party is a party of Wall Street and the military-intelligence apparatus. The politics of race and gender identity, which it relentlessly promotes, gives expression to the interests of layers of the upper-middle class, which employ this right-wing ideology in their fight for positions of power and privilege in the state, academia and corporate boardrooms. The pseudo-left, including the DSA and associated organizations, represent this social layer.

All of this is directed against the working class and the development of a genuine movement for socialism. Objective conditions, however, have created the conditions for a powerful eruption of class struggle, in the United States and internationally. The coronavirus pandemic, as the Socialist Equality Party has explained, is a “trigger event in world history that is accelerating the already far-advanced economic, social, and political crisis of the world capitalist system.”

Nothing progressive will emerge except through the intervention—the interference—of the working class. The Socialist Equality Party and our election campaign are oriented to the development of a socialist leadership in the working class. Our campaign is the only campaign that raises critical questions of perspective, exposing the reactionary promoters of racial conflict and the cheerleaders of Sanders’ “political revolution.”

The SEP is spearheading the organization of workers against the homicidal policy of the ruling elite, in opposition to all factions of the ruling class, on the basis of a revolutionary program to put an end to inequality, war, dictatorship and the capitalist system. This is the way forward.

To support our election campaign and join the SEP, visit socialism2020.org.

Joseph Kishore—SEP candidate for US president

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This edition's playlist

 Women In Music Pt. III



6) Harry Style's FINE LINE.  

7) Brandy's B7.

Tweet of the week

 Honor goes to John Stauber.


 #Bernie doing what he does best, delivering his flock to the Dem slaughter house.

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