A People’s History of the United States by Howard Zinn

book jacket with portrait of Howard ZinnA People’s History of the United States (1980 original, most recent 2010)
by Howard Zinn (award winning author)

Considered a modern classic for good reason. Every page an eye opening experience to the “real” history of America and you just know it is all true, especially the parts you have lived through but didn’t understand at the time, this book makes the behind the scenes and suppressed or avoided factual presentation in school books.

This is a MUST BUY AND READ BOOK. I say buy because it is over 700 pages long. Plus good to have as a reference. I checked it out from the library but someone else put a reserve on it (!!!) so have to take it back so will be buying it myself. I am kind of flummoxed by the number of times recently that books I have checked out get reserved limiting my renewals. It seems statistically unlikely, especially for an older book like this. And since I had never heard of him before coming across his name in another book, that is strange too. I still can’t believe I lived through this time and did not realize how significant or even who he was! Amazing man, superb research and writing.

book jacketThere is even a graphic novel version of the book that is pithy and fun to see various topics illustrated.

 

 

 

So here are a few passages from the full book that I really thought made excellent points or revealed things that too many people do not know or do not remember.

Slavery without Submission, Emancipation without Freedom (p. 209+)
The average wage of Negro farm laborers in the South was about fifty cents a day, [Thomas] Fortune said [testifying before Senate committee in 183]. He was usually paid in “orders,” not money, which he could use only at a store controlled by the planter, “a system of fraud.” The Negro farmer, to get the wherewithal to plant his crop, had to promise it to the store, and when everything was added up at the end of the year he was in debt, so his crop was constantly owed to someone, and he was tied to the land, with the records kept by the planter and storekeeper so that the Negroes “are swindled and kept forever in debt.”

Fortune spoke of “the penitentiary system of the South, with its infamous chain-gang. . . . the object being to terrorize the blacks and furnish victims for contractors, who purchase the labor of these wretches from the State for a song. . . . The white man who shoots a negro always goes free, while the negro who steals a hog is sent to the chain-gang for then years.”

Another black man, who came to teach at Atlanta University, W.E.B. Du Bois, saw the late-nineteenth-century betrayal of the Negro as part of a larger happening in the United States, something happening not only to poor blacks but to poor whites. In his book Black Reconstruction, written in 1935, he said:

“God wept; but that mattered little to an unbelieving age; what mattered most was that the world wept and still is weeping and blind with tears and blood. For there began to rise in America in 1876 a NEW CAPITALISM AND A NEW ENSLAVEMENT OF LABOR.”

Du Bois saw this new capitalism as part of a process of exploitation and bribery taking place in all the “civilized” countries of the world:

“Home labor in cultured lands, appeased and mislead by a BALLOT whose power the DICTATORSHIP OF VAST CAPITAL strictly curtailed, was bribed by high wage and political office to unite in an exploitation of white, yellow, brown and black labor . . . .

Was Du Bois right — that in that growth of American capitalism, before and after the Civil War, whites as well as blacks were in some sense becoming slaves?

Well, that answer is pretty firmly resolved to be YES. The 99% of Americans who work for hourly wages, but even most salaried jobs, are absolutely wage slaves BECAUSE THERE IS NO ALTERNATIVE. Work or die. Social Darwinism is alive and well. And the 1% are determined to keep it that way, especially evident in this 2016 election year. Koch brothers spend billions and have over 86 billion in wealth while school lunch programs are under funded or eliminated as “unaffordable” and oil subsidies are $50 million or more each year.

We cannot afford social justice but we can afford perpetual war.

THE OTHER CIVIL WAR (p. 211+)
This chapter refers to essentially the rich against the poor. The rise of unions and the price gouging and supply restrictions causing suffering among the majority of people. Once again, immigrants (Irish) were held to be at fault for some aspects of the issues which also had the added divisiveness of bringing religion into the fray.

Weavers in Philadelphia in the early 1840s — mostly Irish immigrants working at home for employers — struck for higher wages, attacked the homes of those refusing to strike, and destroyed their work. . . .

Soon, however, antagonism developed between these Irish Catholic weavers and native-born Protestant skilled workers over issues of religion. [Religion ruins everything!] In May 1844 there were Protestant-Catholic riots in Kensington. . . . Middle class politicians soon LED EACH GROUP into a DIFFERENT POLITICAL PARTY (the nativists [Protestant] into the American Republican party, the Irish into the Democratic party), party politics and religion now substituting for class conflict.

Hmm. That almost sounds like a conspiracy to create diversion from the owner class. I will have to check if anyone has done any research on what in today’s politics of trolling would be an obvious move. All they would have to do is infiltrate and spread lies that were believed by each side. And the weavers destroy their own chance to succeed because of some bullshit dogma variations that essentially worships the same god.

Earlier in the chapter he provides some eye opening facts, even if you were not familiar with Lewis Hine photographic documentation of conditions in the tenements or writers of the time. For example:

In Philadelphia, working-class families lived fifty-five [55] to a tenement, usually ONE ROOM PER FAMILY, with NO GARBAGE REMOVAL, no TOILETS, no FRESH AIR or WATER. There was fresh water newly pumped from the Schuylkill River, but it was going to the homes of the rich.

In New York you could see the poor lying in the streets with the garbage. There were no sewers in the slums, and filthy water drained into yards and alleys, into the cellars where the poorest of the poor lived, bringing with it a typhoid epidemic in 1837, typhus in 1842. In the cholera epidemic of 1832, the rich fled the city, the poor stayed and DIED.

He cites the impact of the opening of the West and mechanization. “A man with a sickle could cut half an acre of wheat in a day; with a reaper he could cut 10 acres.” [!!!] The rich became concerned about the security of their property and equipment and worried about uprisings of the poor. There were also better-paid workers — the beginnings of white-collar workers — who had just enough extra to choose to align themselves with the rich. This was a tumultuous time.

In an ECONOMIC SYSTEM [Capitalism] NOT RATIONALLY PLANNED FOR HUMAN NEED, but developing fitfully, chaotically out of the PROFIT MOTIVE, there seemed to be no way to avoid recurrent booms and slumps. . . . One way to ACHIEVE STABILITY was to DECREASE COMPETITION, organize the businesses, move toward MONOPOLY. In the mid-1850s, price agreements and mergers became frequent: the New York Central Railroad was a merger of many railroads. . . .

Another way to minimize risks was to MAKE SURE the government played its traditional role, going back to Alexander Hamilton and the first Congress, of HELPING THE BUSINESS INTERESTS. State legislatures gave charters to corporations giving them legal rights to conduct business, raise money — at first special charters, then general charters, so that any business meeting certain requirements could incorporate. Between 1790 and 1860, 2,300 corporations were chartered.

Railroad men traveled to Washington and to state capitals armed with money, shares of stock, free railroad passes. Between 1850 and 1857 they got 25 MILLION ACRES OF PUBLIC LAND, free of charge, and MILLIONS OF DOLLARS IN BONDS — loans — from the state legislatures. In Wisconsin in 1856, the LaCrosse and Milwaukee Railroad got a MILLION acres FREE by distributing about $900,000 in stocks and bonds to fifty-nine assemblymen, thirteen senators, the governor. Two years later the railroad was bankrupt and the bonds were worthless.

Paraphrasing and citing some facts:
…by 1850 fifteen [15] Boston families controlled  20% of cotton spindelage…39% of insurance capital in Massachusetts. 40% of banking resources in Boston.

It would be fascinating to trace the lineage of wealth and politics. Someone probably has done it, I just have to find out where and in what form. But think about how often we ended up with dynastic lineages in government, fathers and sons, brothers and husbands of wives who were daughters of some, and it is not just a recent phenomena like the Bushes or the novelty of the Clintons, the Adams, the Roosevelts, and more were all intricately connected, one might argue, by wealth. Barrack Obama, and Jimmy Carter were two exceptions to the rule. Or another characteristic might be war time service as generals: Grant, Eisenhower, J. F. Kennedy hit dynasty and money and was a war hero.

“In schoolbooks, those years are filled with the controversy over slavery, but on the eve of the Civil War it was money and profit, not the movement against slavery, that was uppermost in the priorities of the men who rand the country.”

[As Cochran and Miller] describe the Boston rich:

“Living sumptuously on Beacon Hill, admired by their neighbors for the philanthropy and their patronage of art and culture, these men traded in State Street while overseers ran their factories, managers directed their railroads, agents sold their WATER POWER and real estate. They were absentee landlords in the most complete sense. Uncontaminated by the diseases of the factory town, they were also protected from hearing the complaints of their workers or suffering mental depression from dismal and squalid surroundings. In the metropolis, art, literature, education, science, flowered in the Golden Day; the industrial town children went to work with their father and mothers [AND NOT FOR DAY CARE BUT TO WORK], schools and doctors were only promises, A BED OF ONE’S OWN WAS A RARE LUXURY.”

Words that are as true today as they were in 1827 were written “probably by a young shoemaker:”

“We find ourselves oppressed on every hand — we labor hard in producing all the comforts of life FOR THE ENJOYMENT OF OTHERS, while we ourselves obtain but a SCANTY portion, and even that in the present state of society depends on THE WILL OF THE EMPLOYERS.

Well said good anonymous sir!

Frances Wright of Scotland, an early feminist and utopian socialist, was invited by Philadelphia workingmen to speak on the Fourth of July 1829 to one of the first city-wide associations of labor unions in the United States. She asked if the Revolution had been fought “to crush down the sons and daughters of your country’s industry under . . . neglect, poverty, vice, starvation, disease. . . .” She wonder if the new technology was not lowering the value of human labor, making people appendages to machines, crippling the minds and bodies of child laborers

Every word of this book is worth citing, but as I said, just buy it and read it. You will recognize that was true then remains true today. Especially about the labor movement.

During those years, trade unions were forming. (Philip Foner’s History of the Labor Movement in the U.S. tells the story in rich detail.) The COURTS CALLED them [unions] CONSPIRACIES TO RESTRAIN TRADE and therefore illegal, as when in New York twenty-five [25] members of the Union Society of Journeymen Tailors were found guilty of “conspiracy to injure trade, riot, assault, batter.” The judge, levying fines, said “In this favored land of law and liberty, the road to advancement IS OPEN TO ALL [!!!!]. . . .Every American knows that or ought to know that he has no better friend than the laws and that he needs no ARTIFICIAL COMBINATION [aka corporate monopoly!] for his protection. They are of FOREIGN ORIGIN [!!!!] and I am led to believe mainly upheld by foreigners.”

Not that that made unions a bad idea!! Fear of foreign forces has ever been endemic it would seem.

(p. 228)
Of the country’s work force of 6 million in 1850, half a million were women: 330,000 worked as domestics [of course! grrr], 55,000 were teachers. Of the 181,000 women in factories, half worked in textile mills. [deadly on many levels see Norma Rae with Oscar winning performance by Sally Field]

They organized. Women struck by themselves for the first time in 1825. . . .

The “Lowell system,” in which young girls would go to work in the mills and live in dormitories supervised by matrons, at first seemed BENEFICENT, SOCIABLE, a welcome escape from household drudgery or domestic service. Lowell, Massachusetts, was the first town CREATED FOR THE TEXTILE mill industry; it was named after the wealthy and influential Lowell family. But the dormitories became PRISONLIKE, controlled by rules and regulations. The supper (served after the women had risen at four in the morning and worked until seven-thirty in the evening) often consisted merely of BREAD AND GRAVY.

For which, no doubt, they paid dearly as well as for board.

So the Lowell girls organized. They started their own newspapers. They protested against the weaving rooms, which were poorly lit, badly ventilated, impossibly hot in the summer, damp and cold in the winter. In 1834, a cut in wages led the Lowell women to strike. . . [no reason is given for the justification of the wage cut; presumably just because they could] But the [ever present] threat of hiring others to replace them brought them back at reduced wages (the leaders were fired).

One of the girls — and I mean GIRL — was 11 years old that “turned out” in 1836 “against a raise in boarding house charges.” Reminds me of the Pullman town too. Her recollection was recorded. Her widowed mother was fired from her job as matron in the boarding house because her child, Harriet Hanson, went on strike. No followup of what became of them is included.

In 1877, the same year blacks learned they did not have enough strength to make real the promise of equality in the Civil War, working people learned they were not united enough, not powerful enough, to defeat the combination of private capital and government power.

THE SOCIALIST CHALLENGE (p. 321+)
A strike in Kansas that I had never heard of before had about 50,000 people (a lot of women) of the area’s 86,000 population on strike. Food became a challenge despite contributions from all over the country in solidarity. When their children became too hungry, they decided to send them away to willing families to care for so that the strikers could carry on. Hundreds of children were sent to New York and some to Barre, Vermont. So naturally, “the city officials in Lawrence, citing a statute on child neglect, said no more children would be permitted to leave Lawrence.”

Despite the city edict, a group of forty children assembled on February 24 to go to Philadelphia. The railroad station was filled with police. . . .

Predictably, the police brought out their clubs and began beating the mothers and children without regard to injuring them or if children were trampled. Proof that the concern of the city officials was not for that of the children but the killing of the strike. This strike featured help of the IWW known as the Wobblies.

He has a solid section on the intersection of feminism and socialism and it was interesting to me that he said at 80 Susan B. Anthony went to hear Debs speak, and they met again for the first time in 25 years when he had gone to hear her speak! Helen Keller was also active in the movements.

And Helen Keller, writing in 1911 to a suffragist in England [said]:
“Our democracy is but a name. We vote? What does that mean? IT MEANS WE CHOOSE BETWEEN TWO BODIES OF REAL, though not avowed, AUTOCRATS. We choose between Tweedledum and Tweedledee. . .

You ask for votes for women. What good can votes do when ten-elevenths of the land of Great Britain belongs to 200,000 and only one-eleventh to the rest of the 40,000,000? Have your men with their millions of votes freed themselves from this injustice?”

And I loved the quote he had on the really serious, sometimes reviled, but not wrong Emma Goldman:

“Our modern fetish is universal suffrage. . . . The women of Australia and New Zealand can vote, and help make the laws. Are the labor conditions better there? . . .

The history of the political activities of man proves that they have given him absolutely nothing he could not have achieved in a more direct, less costly, and more lasting manner. As a matter of fact, every inch of ground he has gained HAS BEEN THROUGH A CONSTANT FIGHT, a ceaseless struggle for self-assertion, and NOT THROUGH SUFFRAGE. There is no reason whatever to assume that woman, in her climb to emancipation, has been, or will be, helped by the ballot. . . .

Her development, her FREEDOM, her INDEPENDENCE, must come from and through herself. First, by asserting herself as a personality [personhood]. Second, by refusing the right to ANYONE OVER HER BODY; by REFUSING TO BEAR CHILDREN, unless she wants them; by REFUSING TO BE A SERVANT TO GOD, the STATE, society, the HUSBAND, the family, etc. by making her life simpler, but deeper and richer. . . . Only that, and not the ballot, will set woman free. . . .”

“War is the health of the state” is a chapter that covers the forced deportation of thousands of socialists and anarchists, or just poor peasants caught up along in the sweep. Emma Goldman was one I know, but there were other stories. Like Andrea Salsedo who was arrested and held for eight weeks by the FBI in their offices “on the fourteenth floor of the Park Row Building, not allowed to contact with family or friends or lawyers. Then his crushed body was found on the pavement below the building and the FBI said he had committed suicide by jumping from the fourteenth floor.”

While this might have been questioned by ordinary people of the time, we in the post McCarthyism, Watergate, and Iran-Contra, and the Iraq war know better. Of course he was killed. Probably after being tortured horribly for sport. The really interesting bit is the next thing Zinn tells:

Two friends of Salsedo, anarchists and workingmen in the Boston area, having just learned of his death began carrying guns. They were arrested on a streetcar in Brockton, Massachusetts, and charged with a holdup and murder that had take place two weeks before at a shoe factory. These were Nicola SACCO and Bartolomeo VANZETTI. They went on trial, were found guilty, and spent seven years in jail while appeals went on, and while all over the country and the world, people became involved in their case. The TRIAL RECORD and surrounding circumstances suggested that Sacco and Vanzetti were sentenced to death because they were anarchists and foreigners. In August 1927, as police broke up marches and picket lines with arrests and beatings, and troops surrounded the prison, they were electrocuted.

 

He concludes the chapter with a phrase I particularly liked: “the class war was still on in that supposedly classless society, the United States.”

The book includes history up to the Bill Clinton presidencies ending in the 2000 election. Bill Clinton does not fair well, but it is factually true.  (p. 648+)

The reform spirit of the sixties had led to an easing of restrictions on immigration, but in the nineties, DEMOCRATS and REPUBLICANS alike PLAYED ON THE ECONOMIC FEARS OF WORKING AMERICANS. Jobs were being lost because corporations were firing employees to save money [I would argue this should be to INCREASE PROFITS and overwork remaining employees who quite rightly feared for their jobs] (downsizing) or moving plants out of the country to more profitable situations. Immigrants, especially the large numbers coming over the southern border from Mexico were blamed for taking jobs from citizens of the United States, for receiving government benefits, for causing higher taxes on American citizens.

Deja vu all over again.

Both major political parties joined to pass legislation, which Clinton then signed, TO REMOVE WELFARE BENEFITS (food stamps, payments to elderly and disabled people) from not only illegal but legal immigrants who were poor, old, or disabled, warning them that their food stamps and cash payments would be cut off in a few months unless they became citizens.

Which of course had a whole set of barriers. He goes on to cite a 1996 “Anti-Terrorism and Effective Death Penalty Act,” that allowed deportation of “any immigrant EVER CONVICTED OF A CRIME, no matter how long ago or how serious [or not serious]. Lawful permanent residents who had married American and now had children were NOT EXEMPT. . . .There was a certain irrationality to this new law [I would say, a lame excuse], for it was passed in response to the blowing up of the Federal Building in Oklahoma City by Timothy McVeigh, who was native born.

In the summer of 1996. . . . Clinton signed a law to end the federal government’s guarantee, created under the New Deal, of financial help to poor families with dependent children. This was called “WELFARE REFORM,” and the law itself had the DECEPTIVE TITLE OF “Personal Responsibility and Work Opportunity Reconciliation Act of 1996.” . . .

The aim of “welfare reform” was to FORCE POOR FAMILIES receiving federal cash benefits (many of them SINGLE MOTHERS WITH CHILDREN) to go to WORK by cutting off their benefits after two [2] years, LIMITING LIFETIME benefits to five [5] years, and allowing people without children to get food stamps for ONLY THREE MONTHS in any THREE-YEAR PERIOD. (p. 649)

(p. 650)
There was a simple but overwhelming problem with cutting off benefits to the poor to force them to find jobs. There were NO JOBS AVAILABLE.

He doesn’t address the ramifications of the fact that BEING A MOTHER IS A JOB. Just like being a full time student is a job. There is no merit in forcing a student to sacrifice sleep and study to earn a pittance when they have huge and numerous papers to write, etc. There is no point in making a mother work only to have half or more of her pay go to pay another woman to care for her children. And this also was apparently before the popularity of DRUG TESTING welfare recipients and then denying them benefits if they fail. Kick ’em when they’re down! It’s the American Way! Pull that ladder up after you have made it lest someone else get a share of the pie as well.

Clinton’s foreign policy included support of aid to Indonesia “despite the country’s record of mass murder (perhaps 200,000 killed out of a population of 700,000) in the invasion and occupation of East Timor.” Remember East Timor? probably not.

Anyway, it goes on to cite numerous things that make it clear that his policies were not glorious. And it is fair to say, my expectations of the next potential Clinton, Hillary, will not change much for women, the poor, immigrants, bombing and regime change. Zinn point out the irony of the House to impeach for sexual activity but “NOT FOR ENDANGERING THE LIVES OF CHILDREN BY WELFARE REFORM, or violating international law in bombing other countries (Iran, Afghanistan, Sudan), or allowing hundreds of thousands of children to die as a result of economic sanctions (Iraq). ”

One important historical consequence I had not appreciated was the fact that the DEBT ACCRUED UNDER THOSE MISERABLE FUCKS BUSH the 1st and St. RONNIE REAGAN, meant that Clinton did not have a chance to develop a “bold program of expenditures for universal health care, education, child care, housing, the environment, the arts, or JOB CREATION. So those bastards triple fucked us by giving the tax breaks to the rich, supplying untold billions to the military industrial complex for wars for oil, and stealing money from the Social Security Trust fund to pay the bills for military interference in other countries. Then throw the BUSH the 2nd wars and further cuts on the pile, the financial meltdown and outright theft, and we are even further and further behind.

And now this CLINTON (Hillary) expects us to vote for MORE OF THE SAME, even less, “half a loaf” as she herself stated. She now says SINGLE PAYER is an impossible dream. Well of course, when you accept the status quo of tax distribution as entitlements to corporations that pay you more than some people earn in a lifetime for speeches — RELEASE THE TRANSCRIPTS!

Argh.

In the chapter on the 2000 election, another deja vu, he describes how similar Gore and W were — no big health care plans etc. but Ralph Nader’s third party option was notable to raise enough money (thankfully Bernie does not have that problem) and of course, he was cut out of debates, and so people, disenchanted, chose not to vote in droves thinking their votes didn’t matter, but then it turned out, each VOTE DID MATTER. Of course, this case is also why there should not be winner take all states, but nothing was done to change anything. Average people wouldn’t know where to begin. There is an intermingling of sorts between party machines and statutes and constitutionality. Scalia even went so far as to declare the “originalist” interpretation as one that does NOT give the people the right to vote, presumably on the original restriction to white men of property basis. But of course that is just stupid. Originalists, to be true to their beliefs, would have to disenfranchise most of the country, of course all the women, and return slavery (instead of relying on wage slavery or debt peonage to corporations).

Bush had this advantage: his brother was governor of Florida, and the secretary of state in Florida, Katherine Harris, a REPUBLICAN, had the power to certify who had more votes and had won the election. Facing claims of tainted ballots, Harris rushed through a partial recounting that left Bush ahead.

An appeal to the Florida Supreme Court, dominated by DEMOCRATS, resulted in the Court ordering Harris NOT TO CERTIFY A WINNER and for recounting to continue. Harris set a deadline for recounting [unreasonable but legal apparently], and while there were still thousands of disputed ballots, she went ahead and certified that BUSH  was the winner by 537 votes. . . .With Gore ready to challenge the certification, and ask that recounting continue, as the FLORIDA SUPREME COURT HAD ORDERED, the Republican Party took the case to the U.S. Supreme Court.

I am still not clear on why the Republicans were allowed to do that. After all, Florida’s court had made a reasonable ruling. Katherine Harris had to have violated the direction of the court to continue counting with no deadline mandated. I have read a few books on the topic, but it was awhile ago, so I don’t recall much of the details beyond the fix was definitely in and corruption abounded by the Republicans. I even wonder if Jeb! moved to Florida in the first place as a long term strategic mover for his own campaign, but then his nasty brother W jumped the gun and, with the help of Karl Rove, managed to gain traction, instead of being laughed back to the bumbling incompetence he otherwise displayed as Governor of Texas and all his other “jobs.

The Supreme Court was split along ideological lines, thanks to Pappy Bush and predecessors who stacked the court, most notably Scalia and Thomas, but the others as well.

The five conservative judges [sic] (Rehnquist, Scalia, Thomas, Kennedy, O’Connor), despite the usual conservative position of noninterference with STATE POWERS, overruled the Florida Supreme Court and PROHIBITED any more counting of ballots. [!!!!] They said the RECOUNTING VIOLATED the constitutional requirement for “equal protection of the laws” because there were different standards in different counties of Florida for counting the ballots.

Well whose fucking fault was that? And since the standards had not been changed, and we still have variations all over the country, ALL voting through history has been a failure of “equal protection.” What a crock of shit. The twisting that took. I will have to read the opinion and the dissents sometime.

The four liberal judges (Stevens, Ginsburg, Breyer, Souter) argued that the Court did NOT HAVE THE RIGHT TO INTERFERE WITH WITH the Florida Supreme Court’s interpretation of state law. Breyer and Souter argued evenif there was a failure to have a UNIFORM STANDARD IN COUNTING, the remedy was to let there be a new election in Florida with a uniform standard. [!!!!]

This is hysterically funny in a bad way given that now, 16 years later, we are still dealing with the same crap. Or worse. For example the serious issues of fraud in Arizona among other states, like New York. The whole superdelegate crap developed specifically to keep the party machine picks in power rather than allow a grassroots campaign get leverage (as the evil ambitious Debbie Wasserman Shultz admitted). Why oh why was NO UNIFORM STANDARD EVER IMPLEMENTED IN THE U.S.? Because the Founding Fathers left it to the states, stupidly, since the right to vote should not depend on geography any more than race or sex or property ownership. And the fact is, that 90% of the people don’t give a damn for various reasons. Also it is very expensive to participate and costs a lot of time when you are working multiple jobs and have a family and so on. Allowing the election to be run by volunteer amateurs is completely without merit. The problems I am having now trying to figure out what I am supposed to do without knowing I will be elected to the National — or the very fact that I have to “run” for the National delegation even though I am our local district delegation is bizarre, but I understand that the quantity of delegates has to be winnowed down to a practical number. But seriously, with DWS in charge of the DNC and being as how she is a devotee of HRC, all kinds of shitty stuff is happening. For example, the used to be half-way okay Barney Frank (supporting HRC) being put in charge of the Rules committee — and he is a superdelegate. Gee, ya think there’s a chance that there will be a packed HRC committees membership in favor of HRC. The answer is YES — Bernie sent in the names of 40 people to be put on the committees and only 3 were selected and NONE were selected for the crucial RULES committee. And the people organizing the whole thing are an incoherent mess as far as I can tell. They picked a hotel in another CITY that requires a bus ride of 1 to 2 hours to get to the convention center. AND THEY EXPECT YOU TO GET UP AT 7 A.M. TO GET YOUR CREDENTIALS AT THE HOTEL. So you can’t stay cheaply with friends or make alternative arrangements because as far as I can tell YOU ARE REQUIRED TO STAY AT THE HOTEL. And even if you did not, you would have to rent a car to drive to the hotel location to get credentials and then take their bus to the convention center. So it would take hours on the road plus hours at the events. Not DISABLED FRIENDLY CONCEPTS!!!!! Also, the state party or the national DNC does not PAY FOR ANYTHING. All those millions and billions of dollars given to support the candidates but fuck the delegates — democracy for the wealthy!!! MOST AMERICANS CAN’T AFFORD TO BE DELEGATES. Women and people of color make less than white men so the “inclusiveness” policy is a bit on the sounds good on paper because LIKE THE BERNIE CAMPAIGN, THIS IS A CLASS ISSUE. And even more so for the lack of consideration for what it means to be inclusive for disabled people. I have joined that subgroup so will see what they accomplish, but oddly enough, that requires a fee, albeit $10 or something. The Feminist subgroup I joined does not. And of course, it had a meeting in the Twin Cities, and that makes it hard to participate when you live elsewhere. Get up to date and use Skype for pity’s sake.

But I digress.

The fact that the Supreme Court refused to allow any reconsideration of the election meant that it was determined to see that its favorite candidate, Bush [2nd] would be President. [FUCK FUCK FUCK] Justice Stevens pointed this out, with some bitterness, in his minority report: “Although we may never know with complete certainty the identity of the loser is perfectly clear. It is the nation’s confidence in the judge as an impartial guardian of the rule of law.”

Scalia was many things but impartiality was NEVER NEVER NEVER in his playbook. Thankfully he is dead; much to the consternation of the Republicans that expected to cheat their way to victory on numerous illegal statutes the minions in the state legislatures have passed that are coming before the court.

Bush, taking office, proceeded to pursue his pro-big-business agenda with total confidence, as if he had the OVERWHELMING APPROVAL of the nation. [grrr] And the Democratic Party, its fundamental philosophy not too different, became a timid opposition, going along completely with Bush on his foreign policy, and differing from him only mildly on domestic policy.

Words cannot express the aggravation I felt every time I heard that bastard pronounce how he had a “mandate” from the people for his policies, and of course, God told him what to do. Also Dick Cheney, Donald Rumsfeld, Karl Rove, and the rest of the Wrecking Crew. HE LOST THE POPULAR VOTE. This does not equal a freaking mandate.

Al Gore received HUNDREDS OF THOUSANDS OF votes more than Bush, but the Constitution [written in a time when many people could not read] required that the victor be named by the ELECTORS in each state. The electoral vote was so close that the outcome was going to be determined by the electors of the state of Florida. This difference between popular vote and electoral vote had happened twice before, in 1876 and 1888.

But I guess it will take a Constitutional Amendment to switch to an alternative. And there was some rational basis for it in terms of equalizing rural and city populations, but I don’tr recall now exactly how that was better than a direct election now that we have the technology to do it. We just have to get it out of the party machines and corporate owned voting machine hardware and software with no audit trail and lack of proof your vote actually was counted and for whom you voted was correct.

And we all know what happened next, tax cuts for the rich, efforts to privatize and ruin Social Security, and the war he wanted to wage to punish the Iraqis for trying to assassinate his “daddy.” AND OF COURSE, OIL. Cheney and his company Halliburton with no bid military contracts made billions. He ignored warnings from Clinton’s administration because he didn’t need no stinking advice from an egghead with God on his side. And he therefore enabled the attacks of 9/11/2001. Funny too how that gave him the support of Congress to rush support for “military action WITHOUT THE DECLARATION OF WAR THAT THE CONSTITUTION REQUIRED.” Where was Scalia on this!? Who could have stopped this rush to war? And they had learned the lessons of Vietnam. We did not see any bodies of soldiers coming home or the grievous injuries that they suffered yet thanks to medical technology, survived.

But the full extent of the human catastrophe caused by the bombing of Afghanistan was not being conveyed to Americans by the mainstream press and the major television netowrks, which seemed determined to show their “patriotism.”

The head of the television network CNN, Walter Isaacson, sent a memo to his staff saying that all images of civilian casualties should be accompanied with an explanation that this was retaliation for the harboring of terrorists.  (p. 679) 

And then there was the Patriot Act. And then there was the “jingoism” of wartime and the condemnation of anyone critical of the government, when we should have known by now that the government has been a bad bad boy for a long time.

Congress passed the “USA Patriot Act,” which gave the Department of Justice the power to DETAIN NONCITIZENS SIMPLY ON SUSPICION, without charges, without the procedural rights provided in the Constitution. It said the SECRETARY OF STATE could designate ANY GROUP as “terrorist,” and any person who was a member of or raised funds for such an organization could be arrested and held until deported.

Of course bad shit happened subsequently. “A retired telephone worker in California who, working out in his health club, made a remark critical of President Bush, was visited by the FBI and questioned. A young woman found at her door two FBI men who said they had reports of posters on her wall criticizing the President.” Now that is also what I call terrorism. Neighbors and strangers and friends “reporting” on people who have every right and indeed were right to criticize Bush 2nd. It was his bad bad bad foreign policy that caused the hatred the people of the Middle East had for us, and deservedly so. And now we also know that W and is gang lied about everything and they have rightly been convicted in International Court for war crimes. Obama should have prosecuted the bastards.

We need to get the fuck out of everybody all the quagmires we are in now, and give up the Empire of Exceptionalism the corporatocray deludes people into believing that we are the best. WE ARE NOT THE BEST. WE HAVE STARVING CHILDREN, BROKEN BRIDGES, people dying from lack of healthcare and lack of ability to pay unregulated insanely overpriced medication. AND IT COMES FROM TAXPAYERS. But instead of hating the victims, like myself with multiple sclerosis that needs very expensive medication to keep from becoming a complete cripple, blame the allocation of resources and failure to regulate corporate greed. Instead of paying for one $80,000 dollar missile with tax dollars that kills thousands of innocent civilians across the world, lets spend our tax dollars on Americans and stop being the bully that we are while thinking we are the hero in the story. We spend more on military (at least “$300 to $400 billion a year”) than the next 26 countries combined. [Bernie Sanders said this I think.] This is why we can’t have nice things, like healthcare for all, government paid school K-20 years, and so much more.  Sweden can do all that it does for its people in part because they do not try to militarize and police the world. They spend their money on their people. As do many others. One of the reasons Japan became such an economic success is that they were FORBIDDEN to spend money to re-militarize, so they had the opportunity to rebuild and build and outperform U.S. products for quality and innovation. We, on the other hand, blow ridiculous sums on completely stupid shit like $400,000 million dollar balloons that don’t work and have to be shot down and wasted.

The United States, by such a drastic change in its policies, would no longer be a military superpower, but it could be a humanitarian superpower, using its wealth to help people in need. (p. 682)

Do no evil is a good motto. However, we have been doing evil for a long time, and hiding it somewhat in plain sight. We cannot stop the terrorism that exists now, fully exploded into madness thanks to Bush 2nd and this crew of war criminals. But maybe, if we stopped spending money on bombs and killing other people, they would have less reason for recruitment and fighting onwards. We defeated the British by disobeying the “rules of warfare” (stupid stupid stupid concept) and hid behind trees and shot there bright red coats among the green trees. We are fighting a losing battle in countries we don’t understand, we don’t look like them, we don’t speak the languages, we can’t tell a terrorist from an innocent child, or a professor doing math while on an airplane [while looking “foreign”].

We really really need to elect Bernie Sanders. HRC is far to eager to prove how “muscular” she is, such as her vote for the spurious Iraq war. And Tump is so sensitive that he’ll nuke Putin for joking about his tiny hands or anything else, because like a two-year old, he gets cranky when people “disrespect” him in some fashion. He is also clueless how government actually works. Plans to outsource to the conservative Heritage Foundation the selection for the next Supreme Court Justice, although in a recent update HE ASSIGNED THE IDIOT BEN CARSON TO seek the replacement for Scalia. A man who has NO GOVERNMENT EXPERIENCE OR LAW education or even brains to choose, you know, because God made the world 6,000 years ago and people and dinosaurs co-existed until the Flood. And the pyramids were, according to his theory, as opposed to actual scholarship, grain silos. There can be no God on the basis of the mess were are living though. Almost all the Republican candidates said they were chosen by God to run for President. I guess because it worked for W. But God must have been having a joke on them since clearly Walker, Rubio, and Cruz among others are no longer (theoretically) in the running. There is still the terrifying specter that Trump will pick the nightmare of “Lucifer” for Vice President, or the pig hating Chris Christie, or one of the other also rans, mostly all terrifying.

It was funny, at one point in the book Zinn remarks that the 2000 election was the craziest ever in our history. He may not have been able to foresee what truly bat-shit crazy election years could be like had he lived to see the 2016 election. With Trump in charge, it may be our last. He is a nut, an extremist, incapable of making a reasonable policy decision on almost every issue. He likes himself way too much and believes he is infallible. He demands strict loyalty and ABSOLUTELY NO CRITICISM. Hitler, or Mussolini, or Stalin reincarnated. Or maybe Franco. I am not sure who would win the biggest fascist tyrant and I sure as hell don’t want to find out where Trump would land in this list of horrors.

 

 

 

 

 

There is an extensive bibliography that could take a lifetime to read all of it. So many books, so little time.

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