November 20, 2020

The rich vain of hatred

November 19

GUEST: Jason Stanley, Jacob Urowsky Professor of Philosophy at Yale University and author of five books, including How Fascism Works: The Politics of Us and Them, talks about the Trump presidency and the threat it poses to American democracy.

Pandemic offers Trump a dangerous opportunity to seize power

Like slaves to the tabloids, we can't stop following the fool that we elected four years ago. And almost elected again. If it were up to white people, Trump would be off starting new wars by now. 57% of white voters pulled the lever for Trump this time, and if it wasn't for voters of color, he would be planning his next four (or maybe twenty four) years right now.

What does it mean when the majority of whites people vote for a candidate that they know is a racist? Not a hidden racist either. Trump is a full blown, violent hate-monger, and the only people who are still unaware are the ones lying in the morgues and refrigerator trucks, the victims of his deadly lack of concern about COVID.

I don't know what I would do as a Black person. It wasn't ignorance that led to Trump's 57% of the white vote. It was that a majority of white are basically racist. No wonder the polls were so for off. It is one thing to vote in secret, and quite another to let your racism be seen in the light of day. These are the folks who used to wear those pointy white hats at night. And they are the majority of whites in America. That must have been what the Jews felt as Hitler tightened his grip. It wasn't just Hitler; he had discovered a rich vain of hatred in the German people, and had mined it all the way to the top.  

If we want a real democracy, white America must come to terms with its centuries old fear and hatred of Blacks. Jason Stanley's How Fascism Works shows us the way it has been done before. Can we the people, both Black and white, save ourselves from the fate of the Germans?

Stopping the empire's blood lust

November 12

GUEST: Rory Fanning, US Army ranger with two tours in Afghanistan, peace activist and author of Worth Fighting For: An Army Ranger’s Journey Out of The Military and Across America, talks about Pat Tillman, Army recruiters, and his support for Israeli refuseniks.

Worth Fighting For: An Army Ranger's Journey

Rory is a bright, sensitive person who discovered morals in Afghanistan. He, of course, had morals before. He joined the US Army willing to risk his ownlife for the privilege of serving his country. It's just that once in Afghanistan, he realized that he was terrorizing and killing people for being in the wrong house at the wrong time. The troops he served with realized this too, but what was to be done? They all had become killing machines, in the service of god knows what. Or, as Kathy Kelley puts it, in the service of "the most powerful warlord" in that devastated country, the US military.

His friend, Pat Tillman, was killed by "friendly fire" for his consistently speaking out against how the occupation was unfolding. What is another US soldier's death in the grand scheme of things? We have troops all over the world, spending America's treasure on subjugating or killing native peoples. And killing a lot of them. Two or three million in Vietnam. Another million or so in Iraq and Afghanistan. The Korean War cost at least two million lives. And those are the big wars, not the mini invasions and occupations that are too numerous to mention. 

Rory discovered his country in the Middle East, and he discovered himself. Never more would he serve the empire. Or maybe he would serve it in a different way, by going to high schools and telling seniors not to enlist. He is also serving his country by exposing the billions made by weapon makers, huge corporations that live off the jugular vain of the Third World. Why would they ever stop the empire's blood lust?

November 11, 2020

Quote from Activist Radio guest, Dr. Monica Gandhi

In a report updated Tuesday, the CDC says that is still the primary intention of wearing masks. But it also cites growing evidence that even cloth masks can also reduce the amount of infectious droplets inhaled by the wearer.

"This messaging is key to increase adherence and interest in mask wearing. I am thrilled!" Dr. Monica Gandhi, an infectious disease physician with the University of California, San Francisco, said in a tweet Tuesday.
Ghandi argued in a recently published paper that wearing masks can reduce the severity of illness with COVID-19, even if the wearer does become infected.

November 9, 2020

Buying and selling every inch of the track

November 5

GUEST: Tiokasin Ghosthorse: a member of the Cheyenne River Lakota Nation of South Dakota, international speaker on Peace, Indigenous and Mother Earth perspectives, and host of "First Voices Radio," talks about the lessons of Standing Rock and the way forward for indigenous peoples.

Living With Relativity

It was an honor having Tiokasin Ghosthorse on Activist Radio. His program, "First Voices Radio," is syndicated to at least seventy stations in the US and Canada. 

His is also a master musician who has performed worldwide and has been featured at the the Cathedral of Saint John the Divine, Lincoln Center, Madison Square Garden, the Metropolitan Museum of Art, and the United Nations. I will be playing some of his music in the coming weeks.

Tiokasin is unassuming in person. He talks easily and openly about indigenous wisdom, something so missing in our neoliberal world. Everything in our society must have a price tag, and we grow up being able to estimate the "value" of objects without reading their little white tags. Even our environmental efforts must be turned into "pollution credits" to be bought and sold in the public market. 

Tiokasin tells us about the laws passed by the US in years past that demanded that all tribal land be individually owned, so it could be bought up by whites. Indigenous people have a history of being forced off their lands again and again. 

First Voices Indigenous Radio comes at a time when many of us look at the growing climate catastrophe and think about a better way. Can we connect to the land fast enough to save our species? Or must we go over the edge, buying and selling every inch of the track?

Nobody cared when they piled on board

And the doors snapped shut and the engines roared

They pushed to the front

Some fell to the back

Buyin and sellin every inch of the track

Deep in the engines fire in the hole

Dark skinned workers shovelin coal

All singin their sad refrain

We'll never get off this runaway train

Runaway Train by Eliza Gilkyson


Relying on a Democratic Party more enamored with corporate cash

October 29

GUEST: Margaret Poydock, Policy Associate for the Economic Policy Institute, and member of the policy team that focuses on initiatives for building a more just economy, talks about Trump's dangerous attacks on workers' safety, wages, and rights. 

The Economic Policy Institute’s mission

This interview was done right before the election. And this is the most obscene cartoon I could find. We have been through four years of Trump's vileness, and I think we all feel slimed.

It is just the right time to talk about unions too. If the nation had strong unions, Trump never would have captured the white working class. Unions focus workers' attention on what is going to improve their lives, rather than on racial hatreds and tinsel patriotism, the spewings of vile demagogues like Trump. 

We will be here again if we rely on a Democratic Party more enamored with corporate cash than public good. In four more years of Hillary/Obama sellout of the working class, we could well be seeing another fascist movement, but this time so much stronger.

The players are all there. Let's remember that the majority of white voters went for Trump by as much as 57%. It was people of color that made the difference, and succeeded in putting Biden in the White House. All the subsequent talk about not defunding the police might just lose the only thing the Democratic Party has going for it. 

So rather than helping centrist Democrats, we should be forming unions, the only way to win back enough white voters to really change the neoliberal system. 


October 28, 2020

Crossing the Rubicon

October 22

GUEST: Joe Allen, author of "The Package King: A Rank and File History of UPS" and writer of numerous articles published in Jacobin Magazine, talks about unions, workers' rights and the key issues that the socialist movement faces in the United States.

A threshold has been crossed – Tempest

We are waiting around for what could be our last election in a while. It has happened in so many countries. What makes us think it won't happen in ours? And we have all the trappings: armed rightest groups supported by much of the nation's police forces; an assault on voting rights to deny people of color access to the ballot; special militaried forces like ICE that are controlled by the president; and finally an obscene gap between the very richest and the rest of this nation's working people. 

Joe Allen takes us through how we got here, and I think it takes a socialist like Joe to reveal the underlying problems of our supposed democracy. For the last forty years the very wealthy have used every trick in the book to strip wealth from the vast majority. Now that we are at the peak of deprivation and anger, the elites need a demagogue like Trump to blame our economic malaise on immigrants and minority groups. Of course, we have seen it all before as fascist leaders took over Europe in the 1930s. 

In fact we have seen it in so many empires that have started out with some form of democracy. With wars in numerous countries and our national treasure spent on weaponry, our empire may be making that same transition itself. Will this election be the crossing the Rubicon, when Caesar brought his Roman armies into the homeland? Perhaps the "die is cast," as Caesar is supposed to have said as he watched his army cross this famous river. 

October 16, 2020

Crazy thinking, and irresponsible too in an epidemic

October 15

GUEST: Monica Gandhi MD, MPH, Professor of Medicine and Associate Division Chief of the Division of HIV, Infectious Diseases, and Global Medicine at UCSF/ San Francisco General Hospital, talks about the paramount need to wear masks, socially distance and track the contagious if we hope to stop the Pandemic.

Dr. Gandhi on Democracy Now

We were privileged to have Dr. Gandhi on Activist Radio to talk about COVID and the battle to contain the virus in this country. The science is there, of course. Wearing masks, socially distancing and tracing are the way to contain the pandemic. It is just that the Trump White House has so politicized the disease and lied about its dangers that millions of Fox News followers think that COVID is a hoax. It is no wonder that America is number one when it comes to COVID deaths, despite the fact that we spend so much more on our healthcare than other countries do. 

But it is not just right wingers who refuse to wear masks. There are any number of conspiracy addled folks who think that Big Pharma, the medical establishment, and international financiers are somehow behind efforts to make people wear them in public. They tout the joyous "freedom" to gather together and socialize without worrying about masks or social distancing. They urge others to resist the "deep state" tyranny by attending rallies that turn out to be superspreading events. The freedom to not only die of COVID, but to infect all your freedom loving friends. 

I thought I would share what some listeners have written in about Activist Radio's COVID coverage. One listener claimed that masks make it easier to catch the virus, and included a medical study to prove her point. Here is my response:

The abstract you sent me is typical. The study in question reviews the "difference between medical masks and cloth masks," and obviously, medical masks are more effective. But the study never says that cloth masks in themselves are harmful to the wearer. It speculates that masks worn "on every shift for 4 consecutive weeks" might harbor virus. Rates of infection were higher with cloth masks, but there is no control group that didn't wear masks at all. Who would be that stupid not to wear some kind of mask working around infected patients?

That study looks like it was published in 2015. There have been hundreds of studies since then that have measured the efficacy of wearing some type of cloth face mask, especially since COVID 19.

The study was done in Hanoi, Vietnam. Vietnam has been one of the best countries in the world when it comes to controlling the pandemic. Have you looked at a picture of Vietnam during the last several months? Everyone is wearing a mask.

When challenged for some sort of proof that masks, social distancing and tracing don't work, the response has always been the same. I have watched my share of flaky videos, with dubious white coated "experts" applying their tortured logic to completely unfounded theories (please don't send us any more). 

Is our neoliberal system corrupt? Are some doctors and pharmaceutical companies willing to kill people for profit? Will they distort their own science to make money? There are so many examples of this that I don't know where to start. Maybe I do. Dr. José Baselga, the chief medical officer at Memorial Sloan Kettering Cancer Center was caught failing to disclose: "millions of dollars in payments from drug and health care companies in recent years, omitting his financial ties from dozens of research articles in prestigious publications like The New England Journal of Medicine and The Lancet (NYT Sept. 8, 2018)." That is how our current kleptocracy works.

That doesn't mean all doctors are on the take. Nor does it justify believing that there is some international conspiracy to rob the American people of "freedom" by making them wear face masks. That is just crazy thinking, and irresponsible too in an epidemic as dangerous as COVID 19.