March 26, 2020

Ring Around the Rosie

The pandemic is upon us, and there are not enough of anything that could save lives. Respirators, masks, testing kits, ICU beds: who knew that we would be needing this stuff?

Certainly not our Commander in Chief, who can't even get a two sentence tweet right. As the months went by, playing golf and hosting rallies, life was too good to worry about a flu that was a hoax anyway. His budget requests for next year cut funding for the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention by 16%, and he planned to trim an extra $50 million from global health security.

Trump's cuts started back in 2018 with the elimination of disease security programs and an 80% reduction in CDC funds for preventing global disease outbreaks. $30 million was cut from the Complex Crises Fund that was to deploy disease experts in time of health epidemics. Overall in 2018, Trump called for a $15 billion in reduced healthcare spending. Who knew this would be such a bad idea?

There are 80 million Americans who are underinsured or have no health coverage at all. No other developed nation has left such a mass of citizens unprotected from a health catastrophe. For weeks Trump downplayed the danger, and did nothing to remediate the shortages of respirators and test kits. It was like there was nobody home.

In a system bought and paid for by the major corporations, we have the most egregious incompetent in charge of the public good. Ring around the rosie.

Fred Nagel

March 23, 2020

Their enslavement is becoming our own

March 19

GUEST: Fadhel Kaboub, associate Professor of economics at Denison University and President of the Global Institute for Sustainable Prosperity, talks about neocolonialism in Africa, and how third world countries are driven into debt and their citizens robbed of all wealth. 

Big Structural Adjustments with Fadhel Kaboub

We spent a good deal of the interview outlining how First World countries strip their African colonies of everything they have. While supposedly free, these colonies are tied to European currencies, suffer under staggering debt, and watch helplessly as everything in their county is privatized for some foreign profit. It is called neoliberalism when whole Third World countries are completely structured to transfer wealth to their First World overlords. My almost any measure, these African countries are not free.

We reviewed several economic mechanism that effectively robs the wealth of colonized African nations. There is the push for mono-crops that leaves these countries unable to feed themselves. There is the discouragement of manufacturing, so that these countries are dependent on European corporations for all goods. Then there is the predictable balance of payment deficits that push nations into an ever increasing debt load, held by European banks. Life in these African countries goes from underdevelopment to worker exploitation and the destruction of the natural environment. The richer the country is in resources, the worse this hell becomes for most of its citizens.

In the last several decades, this economic exploitation has come home to the European and American economic systems. Areas within these First World nations have become exploited, repressed and grossly polluted. Areas with non-white populations have seen their water privatized, their schools closed down, and their cities bankrupted. Neoliberalism is alive and thriving here in the US, while the billionaire class keeps expanding and workers lose more and more of their incomes.

It is no wonder that the people of this country (apart from the Washington insiders and their corporate media) are ready to try something else. Bernie represented something different, the first time in decades that a presidential candidate threatened the capitalist stranglehold on the rest of us. No wonder the media attacked him at every turn. Let's face it, neoliberal Democrats would much prefer another four years under Trump than an actually shift towards equality and worker's rights.

It is time to build a united front against neoliberalism. We must join such movements in the Third World, while realizing that their enslavement is becoming our own.

March 19, 2020

We really don't want to know

March 12

GUEST: Karen Spring, human rights defender, researcher and currently the Honduras-based Coordinator for the Honduras Solidarity Network (HSN), talks about the country's history and the ongoing oppression of the US backed dictator there. 

Hillary promoted the Honduras coup and era of violence

Karen Spring is a dedicated activist who is not afraid to tell the world what she and others have seen in Honduras. It is a familiar story of a US coup against an elected president, and the US backed repression of the people under a brutal dictator.

Part of the story is about US business interests that dictate our neoliberal foreign policy. These corporations are killers, and join the dictator in torturing and disappearing labor, environmental, and human rights activists.

What stories of countries in Latin America are any different? Our country is always the oppressor, and always it is about money to be made through debt, coercion and violence. The empire has always moved through Latin America like the Corona virus. Stack up the bodies, build the dams, mine the natural resources, establish the mono-crops.

The last step is for US citizens to remain ignorant. The national media works overtime to keep our limited curiosity satisfied with neoliberal economic reasoning. Maybe we really don't want to know.
Few of us can easily surrender our belief that society must somehow make sense. The thought that the State has lost its mind and is punishing so many innocent people is intolerable. And so the evidence has to be internally denied. - Arthur Miller

March 10, 2020

What media could be

March 5

GUEST: Abby Martin, well known journalist, former commentator on RT, and founder of the Empire Files, talks about her documentary Gaza Fights For Freedom and how the Israel lobby threatens freedom of speech in the US.

The Empire Files with Abby Martin

We were very appreciative of Abby's guest interview on Activist Radio. She represents what non-corporate media would look like. Her opinions probe the open wounds of the US Empire: racism at home, war crimes overseas, and the gradual disintegration of our democratic process.

So is she a Russian agent? A vector of "fake news" meant to make America less great again? I think she is a very capable journalist who knows that she wouldn't last for a week on mainstream media. Not because her writing and interviews are substandard, but because she has taken her propaganda blinders off. Where local NPR has its "Round Table" of conventional wisdom, Abby's reporting can show how narrow that Public Radio view really is. She reports the facts about Palestine, Venezuela, and US wars abroad, while the Round Table swoons over Biden's latest victory in the primaries.

Abby is good at being provocative. Some of it is just anger at the injustice she sees around her. Part of it is her niche. She is not on the corporate payroll, so she has to scramble to survive. Here latest movie, Gaza Fights for Freedom pushes the envelope in a similar way. It is a brutal and heartrending view of the Empire's ethnic cleansing in the Holy Land. Not something that mainstream media would dare touch.

Abby Martin shows us what media could be in America. Turn off NPR and find out a little more about the world we live in. 

March 6, 2020

The fight isn't over yet

On their yachts in foreign ports, the billionaires are raising their champagne glasses to toast Biden's victories, as they triumph once again over the vast majority of America's working class. 

Voters will once more be faced with the lesser of two evils, both firmly affixed to the teat of corporate influence. Maybe voters will go with Sleepy Joe, that doddering champion of elite financial interests. That pro-war, pro incarceration, pro financial deregulation member of the good old boys on Wall Street. 

Or maybe voters will prefer a more primitive version of a corporate sellout, the reptilian current occupant of the White House. Is there a greater of two evils that even comes close to our misogynist, racist, and mendacious president? 

It doesn't matter to the billionaires. The country can go to hell for everyone else, while they and their immense fortunes float freely out of reach. Biden and Trump are both long time members of that putrid swamp in Washington; they will do what they are told. 

Perhaps the ultra rich will also toast their newspapers and TV news outlets for never giving Bernie a break. Did The New York Times ever have a positive word to say about him? When he was down, there was no coverage at all. When he won, its headlines called him a "threat." The billionaires know that the establishment media is their most important asset.

The oppression of the wealthy elite will only get worse. But the fight isn't over yet.  

Fred Nagel

March 2, 2020

Perhaps we will come to that conclusion ourselves

February 27

GUEST: Salvatore Engel-Di Mauro, Fulbright Scholar and Associate Professor of geography at SUNY New Paltz, talks about the writings of Joel Kovel and how capitalism is the enemy of the emerging eco-socialist movement to save our planet.

The Enemy of Nature

As global warming continues unabated and the planet becomes more unlivable, people are giving socialism another look.

Perhaps large majorities are now realizing that capitalism makes billionaires, but does nothing for the rest of us. And as our neoliberal system gets more and more extractive, there is less and less for the vast majority to live on. As the richest country in the world, there has always been some excess left over for the middle class. But greed has no logical boundaries, and much of the US population is now living paycheck to paycheck.

Revolutions are born of desperation. There was the desperation of the electorate that put the demagogue, Donald Trump, into the White House. Perhaps voters in 2020 will put Bernie Sanders into office too. Polls of Democratic voters all across the country show that they now view socialism more favorably than capitalism, the latest one being from Texas and California.

Will a revolution in values save our planet? Certainly not the phony revolutions of Clinton, Obama or Trump, all puppets of the rich elite. But just maybe Bernie will create something different, some evolution of our democracy before we give up on it entirely.

Joel Kovel wrote that capitalism is incapable of saving itself or the planet. Devastation is in capitalism's DNA. Perhaps we will come to that conclusion ourselves as our world collapses around us and we desperately look for another way. 

February 24, 2020

Generations following behind us

February 20

GUEST: Steve Hoffman, labor activist in the Washington Federation of State Employees, and former Freedom Socialist Party candidate for US Senate from Washington state, talks to us about the return of the strike, and how labor is "getting its mojo back."

Freedom Socialist Party candidate

Yes, there are the billionaires, who dominate our political discourse as well as elections. It is a natural consequence of a society that puts no limits on the greed and plunder at the top. A fascist society as it turns out. To "drain the swamp," we elected a demagogue who just might put an end to the entire democratic charade.

But there is a resource in our country that is pushing for something different. We saw it in Occupy, when the labor unions marched in to protect the Wall Street encampment. It was early morning just before the first sunlight came through the trees. There were thousands of us standing in a huge circle around Zuccotti Park as thousands more union members came down the street to join us. I remember thinking that this is what the end of neoliberalism will look like. Here was joy that we all had worked so hard to achieve.

Occupy was crushed by the plutocrats, led by the biggest sellout of them all, our President Obama.   How could the Democratic Party show its face after such a betrayal?

The left, however, remained standing. People like Steve Hoffman who will always be there to fight another day. If we can't change the Democratic Party by nominating Bernie, we will go on to break the two party system for good. We will all be there another day, and this time there are generations following behind us.