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The Official Presidency of Domestic Abusers and Rapists

[ 23 ] March 25, 2017 |

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I too am shocked that President Pussy Grabbing Fascist would create fascist policies that facilitate the crimes of domestic abusers and rapists.

Latinos in Los Angeles are making dramatically fewer reports of rape and domestic violence amid a climate of fear over increased immigration enforcement, according to the city’s Police Chief Charlie Beck.

Since the beginning of 2017, reports of rape among the city’s Latino population have declined by 25 percent, compared to the same period last year. Domestic violence reports have dropped nearly 10 percent. According to statistics provided by the Los Angeles Police Department, no other ethnic group experienced a comparable decrease.

At a press conference on Tuesday, Beck said there was a “strong correlation” between the Trump administration’s new immigration rules, which empower federal agents to more aggressively deport those without documentation regardless of whether they’ve committed a serious crime, and the deflated numbers.

“Imagine a young woman—imagine your daughter, sister, mother, your friend—not reporting a sexual assault because they are afraid that their family will be torn apart,” he said during an appearance with Mayor Eric Garcetti.

The Pew Research Center estimates that the Los Angeles metro area has one million undocumented immigrants, more than any other area in the country except New York. In a press release, the LAPD cautioned that while “there is no direct evidence that the decline is related to concerns within the Hispanic community regarding immigration, the department believes deportation fears may be preventing Hispanic members of the community from reporting when they are victimized.”

And hey, when the fascist shock force known as Immigration and Customs Enforcement starts arresting women at their domestic violence hearings, turns out it will stop women from protecting themselves through the legal system. I wonder how many women Trump will kill because of this. A feature, not a bug, no doubt.

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The Next Step in the Health Care Debates

[ 57 ] March 25, 2017 |

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Above: Hells yeah!

Yesterday was a great day. But let’s be clear–Trump and Ryan will treat the ACA as well as they treat any other part of the government, which means trying to undermine its effectiveness. And given how insurance companies are dropping out of the exchanges, there are real problems that need to be fixed. It’s not really on Democrats to defend the ACA as a static program because they originally passed it. What they should be saying is that the ACA was the best that could be in 2010 and yes it does have problems that need fixing. And they should be saying that the way to fix those problems is universal Medicare. And while I get that single-payer has been simplified on the left as the only possible solution for health care when in reality there are many possible roles, expanding Medicare into a single-payer type system does have certain advantages.

It also makes an excellent organizing signpost. Medicare for all is simple, easy to understand, and hard to argue against or distort. Most people know someone on Medicare who can testify to the generally good care, or who is counting the days until they can enroll and have the peace of mind that comes with quality coverage. Fabricated agitprop like the mythical ObamaCare “death panels” will be a much harder sell.

As Republicans do their level best to make sure as many poor people as possible go bankrupt from medical debt or die of preventable diseases, a single-payer counter-offer makes perfect policy and political sense. Even if you think it’s a bit hasty on the merits, it’s still a splendid way for the Democrats to demonstrate, loudly and clearly, that they are for quality health care for all.

That makes plenty of sense to me.

Also, organizing works. Keep doing it. If you flooded congressional phone lines for everything like for this bill, or even 10% of like this bill, we would have a far better nation.

2016 Nostalgia

[ 32 ] March 24, 2017 |

In case you were wondering what Ha Ha Goodman was up to these days.

This Day in Labor History: March 24, 1934

[ 23 ] March 24, 2017 |

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On March 24, 1934, President Franklin Delano Roosevelt signed the Tydings-McDuffie Act. Better known as the Philippine Independence Act, Tydings-McDuffie initially sounds like a victory for anti-colonialist forces. However, a look at the history of law demonstrates that it actually came out of the deep anti-Asian racism of the West Coast who saw Asian populations both as competition for white labor and competition for white women.

From the beginning of Anglo-American occupation in California, white workers defined the state as a white man’s republic. This was basically repeated in Oregon and Washington. And yet from the very beginning, the polyglot population of the region challenged those assumptions. The arrival of Mexicans and Chinese along with whites into California freaked out the white population, which quickly sought to take over the diggings. The Chinese were pushed into menial labor, as well as the most difficult and dangerous labor, such as railroad building. White workers saw these workers as a direct threat, committed murderous violence against them, and lobbied for the passage of the Chinese Exclusion Act, the first major legislative victory for unions in American history. But California employers continued their search for cheap labor, turning to the Japanese. But the same anti-Asian sentiment rose up against the Japanese, especially as these workers began organizing as well, and the Gentlemen’s Agreement cut that labor off in 1907. But western employers now had a new source of labor: Filipinos. This was much more difficult for anti-Asian zealots to organize against, for Filipinos had the right to immigrate as colonial subjects of the United States since the 1898-1902 war of subjugation.

By the 1920s, Filipino immigration to California expanded rapidly, with over 24,000 coming between 1925 and 1929, mostly young men to work in the fields. In response, the San Francisco Chronicle editorialized, “There is a serious immigration problem involved in the introduction of large numbers of person who are unassimilable yet who are given a statue little short of full citizenship.” They lived in the same terrible camps that other workers suffered through in the fields, with housing that was basically chicken coops. The growers liked them because they worked hard and made little trouble on the farms. But the new arrival of non-whites infuriated many Californians. To make it worse for white Californians, many Filipino men, and men made up 94% of the migrants, ended up having sexual relationships with white women. This was not what their cheap, exploitable labor was supposed to do. Said Fred Hart, a farmer from Salinas, “The Filipinos will not leave our white girls alone…Frequently they intermarry.” That these new workers had status as Americans made their brazenness even more outrageous for white California.

So whites did what whites do so frequently in American history–they turned to violence against the people who color who dared stand up for human rights and labor rights. On January 21, 1930, about two hundred white Californians tried to raid a Filipino-owned club near Monterey where nine white women worked as entertainers. The mob expanded to about 500 people and the next night they started attacking Filipinos they found on the streets and in the orchards. On January 23, the mob killed a farmworker named Fermin Tobera, who had come to California in 1928 to work in the fields and send money back to his impoverished family. The bunkhouse in which he slept on the Murphy Ranch near Watsonville was set upon by whites who started firing into it. Tobera was shot in the head. This outraged the Filipino community working for the rights of their people in Washington, as well as Filipinos in Manila. Other violent incidents popped up around California over the next couple of days, leading to beating and a stabbing. On January 29, someone blew up the Stockton headquarters of the Filipino Federation of America. Although several people were sleeping inside, no one was killed. Given the trans-Pacific anger this violence caused, California law enforcement had to do something. Eight men pleaded guilty for incitement to riot; four of them served thirty days in prison and the rest of the sentences for all of them were suspended.

This violence is the context in which the U.S. considered granting the Filipinos their independence. Both supporters and opponents of Filipino migration to the U.S. thought independence was probably the best solution by the early 1930s. The Watsonville Evening Pajaronian editorialized that it hoped the Philippines would get their independence so Japan would invade them and turn them into a new Korea. Given the rapidly growing availability of white labor as the Great Depression deepened, the California growers wouldn’t struggle to find a new labor force either.

The law itself granted the Philippines independence after ten years. In exchange, Filipinos would have to abide by the racist immigration quota system of the 1924 Immigration Act immediately. A whopping 50 immigrants from the Philippines a year were allowed into the United States. They were also denied citizenship rights. A 1946 law, the same year that the Philippines actually received independence, doubled the quota to a whole 100 immigrants and restored the ability of Filipinos to become citizens. A year after Tydings-McDuffie, Congress passed the Filipino Repatriation Act that provided free transportation for Filipinos who wanted to return to the islands but could not afford to do so. The nation didn’t quite get to the point of rounding up these workers, but they can awfully close.

In conclusion, the United States was actually too racist and too concerned about interracial sex to remain a colonial power.

Of course, Filipino labor did not disappear from the United States after Tydings-McDuffie, even as new immigration did. These workers would play a critical role in the early farmworker movements that eventually led to the United Farm Workers, even as Latino workers supplanted the Filipinos in the movement.

I borrowed from Dorothy B. Fujita-Rony, “Empire and the Moving Body: Fermin Tobera, Military California, and Rural Space,” in Bender and Lipman, Making the Empire Work: Labor and United States Imperialism in the writing of this post.

This is the 212th post in this series. Previous posts are archived here.

Sweet 16 Open Thread

[ 97 ] March 23, 2017 |

I am sure you are all rooting for Oregon against Michigan and its Trump voters. Regardless, we can all agree that it’s great that Duke and its seemingly endless supply of privileged white players lost.

To start the conversation, here’s a question generated out of a conversation with a friend recently. Who is the best college hoops coach since John Wooden? This conversation started as the 2nd best coach of all time, but then I imagine it’s probably Adolph Rupp. And it’s hard to know based on a distant era of all-white teams and the like. So since Wooden. Coach K? Dean Smith? Boeheim? Knight? Pitino?

Chelsea Clinton

[ 213 ] March 23, 2017 |
NEW YORK, NY - APRIL 17: Chelsea Clinton speaks at the Clinton Foundation's No Ceilings: The Full Participation Project at the Lower Eastside Girls Club on April 17, 2014 in New York City. Sharing the stage with her mother Secretary Hillary Rodham Clinton, the project is the first in a series of live and virtual dialogues designed to hear directly from girls and women, men and boys about their hopes  and fears for the future. The event, which took live questions from schools around the country, is working to advance progress for women and girls around the world.  (Photo by Spencer Platt/Getty Images)

NEW YORK, NY – APRIL 17: Chelsea Clinton speaks at the Clinton Foundation’s No Ceilings: The Full Participation Project at the Lower Eastside Girls Club on April 17, 2014 in New York City. Sharing the stage with her mother Secretary Hillary Rodham Clinton, the project is the first in a series of live and virtual dialogues designed to hear directly from girls and women, men and boys about their hopes and fears for the future. The event, which took live questions from schools around the country, is working to advance progress for women and girls around the world. (Photo by Spencer Platt/Getty Images)

I suppose I am kind of indifferent as to Chelsea Clinton’s possible desire to run for Congress. Political dynasties are an unfortunate annoyance of politics but are pretty unavoidable, be they Democrats or Republicans, Americans or other nations. It’s not the sign of endless neoliberal triangulation some of the left are claiming (guess what: it’s not 1997!), but it’s not like she has done anything to deserve election either. Still, it’s not ideal. Of course, if she does want to serve the public, that’s great. But I do agree with Alyssa Rosenberg that she should start at the bottom and earn it.

So if Clinton does want to run for office, or to be a successful advocate for an issue, or even just to continue to be credible when she tweets or speaks on a subject, the most strategic thing she could possibly do would be to disappear (as much as it’s possible for a famous person to do in the United States these days). She should decline graciously when she’s asked to be an award recipient and send substantial checks to the relevant charities instead. She should stick to publishing substantive volumes such as her previous “Governing Global Health,” written with Devi Sridhar, rather than the sort of children’s volume public figures dash off all the time. And she should find an issue-oriented job that she goes to every day, and at which she has significant, substantive responsibilities.

Even if Clinton does all of this, there will still be plenty of Americans who dislike her or would be disinclined to vote for her. We’re suspicious of dynasties, and overall, I think that’s a healthy element of our politics. But even if lying low and reemerging doesn’t get Clinton elected to anything, or doesn’t win her a platform, a carefully-calibrated retreat might at least put her on an actual career path. There’s more than one route to doing all the good you can, for all the people you can, in all the ways you can, as long as ever you can.

She should also start by running for some low-level position, not Congress. Even if she doesn’t stay there very long, understanding how local politics work and building a resume there is really ideal. Even George P. Bush, scion of an endless political family, sort of understands that as he slowly but inevitably rises in Texas and Republican politics, starting with Texas Land Commissioner, not Congress. Chelsea Clinton can do the same.

Sanctuary

[ 39 ] March 22, 2017 |

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Today, I am participating in an event at my university about supporting immigrants against Trump’s racist and fascist immigration regime. In preparing for it, I thought this piece on the sanctuary movement of the 1980s and its relevance today was quite useful and important.

In Guatemala, the decades-long civil war would eventually claim 200,000 lives, with state forces responsible for 93 percent of the violence, according to a UN report; in El Salvador, 75,000 were killed, with state forces responsible of at least 85 percent of the crimes. The Reagan administration also covertly and illegally armed and supported paramilitary “contra” forces against the Sandinista government, financing this illicit venture through clandestine arms deals with Iran.

As these anti-communist proxy wars ravaged Central America, a massive grassroots response arose in the United States.

This movement, sometimes referred to as the Central America solidarity movement or the Central America peace movement, encompassed a vast and diverse amalgamation of organizations and tactics fighting to halt U.S. support for the wars, defend the revolutionary projects of Central American popular movements, and protect Central American refugees seeking a safe haven in the United States.

As part of the movement, activists traveled to Sandinista Nicaragua under siege from the contras, indigenous communities facing genocidal violence in Guatemala, liberated guerilla territory in El Salvador, and Salvadoran refugee camps in Honduras to witness first-hand the collective organizing for social and economic justice so fiercely opposed by the “Free World” and to gather testimonies on the depredations of U.S. foreign policy. In the United States, they engaged in collective acts of civil disobedience, put their lives on the line in courageous direct actions, waged national political campaigns, provided aid and services for victims of the violence, and organized mass mobilizations.

As an array of forces again raise the mantel of “sanctuary,” it’s important to remember that the sanctuary movement of the 1980s was but one component of a broad-based, cross-border, anti-imperialist liberation struggle. This is the radical heritage that our organized responses to mass deportations, refugee bans, and imperialist wars must claim today.

There are of course critical differences between the sanctuary movement then and now, the most important of which is that the movements of the 80s were closely connected to particularly awful Central American governments. Those governments aren’t that great today, but protecting people from Efrain Rios Montt and Jose Napoleon Duarte gave very concrete targets because of their relationship to Reagan’s horrendous Central American policies that the drug wars don’t. That said, breaking the law to protect people’s rights to stay in this country is going to be absolutely necessary for resisting Trump’s whitening of America. I’m not entirely sure of quite what that should look like of course, but past movements ranging from the Underground Railroad to ACT-UP to the sanctuary movements of the 1980s provide real, concrete examples we can learn from. Because if we care about protecting our immigrant neighbors, that might mean hiding them in our houses, allowing them to stay in our churches, and shuttling them to Canada for their safety.

Feminism and Class at Harvard

[ 179 ] March 21, 2017 |

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This is an outstanding essay about the class divisions within feminism, using Harvard as a background. Sarah Leonard and Rebecca Rojer note that both famed Harvard graduate Sheryl Sandberg and Harvard president and historian Drew Gilpin Faust talk about feminism but neither of them cares at all about the 90 percent female workforce at the Doubletree that Harvard owns in Cambridge. Noting how the workers and their student allies had to fight for years to finally win a union while Sandberg spoke repeatedly to rich women at the school and Faust has done everything in her power to hurt the school’s workers, the essay gets at a critical issue in feminism: a feminism that only speaks to rich white women really isn’t a feminism at all.

 What the majority of women want has, in many ways, not changed—economic security, good and accessible childcare, freedom from violence, the pleasures of life with enough education and leisure time to allow us to flourish. But intractable problems remain: Pregnancy is penalized by lack of time off, or time off for women but not for men, which exacerbates the wage gap. Childcare has been deemed unaffordable by the Department of Health and Human Services in every single state. Ninety-eight percent of women in abusive relationships are subject to financial abuse, and a woman without an income has a hard time getting away—a topic that was the subject of Sandberg’s own undergraduate thesis, “Economic Factors and Intimate Violence.” Luckily, we actually know quite a bit about how to fix these things. In Sweden, women and men are motivated to take parental time off (if the man doesn’t take his time, they both lose some), ensuring family time and a smaller wage gap. We know that universal childcare, as organized in Norway, produces happy kids and greater gender equity. In fact, America almost had something comparable in 1971, when a bill for universal childcare passed both houses, only to be vetoed by Nixon under the influence of a young Pat Buchanan.

Lobbying for universal childcare, unionization, or any of the other things we know help most women would mean making enemies in a way that advocating for “empowerment” or “banning bossy” never would. It would mean a fight not just with Republicans (Sandberg gives money mostly to Democrats, although she has paid into Olympia’s List and Facebook’s PAC, both of which have supported several Republicans), but with Democrats, too, and maybe even some of Sandberg’s pals on the Davos circuit. It would mean being political, and it would not serve her as PR. It would not help Facebook. But it would place her considerable resources in the service of women. Without solidaristic feminism, in the words of Osorio, “you haven’t solved the problem. You’ve just solved your problem.”

When I asked Lemus what she would have Sandberg do, she offered that Sandberg had enough money to make the government listen to the needs of women. Osorio noted that Sandberg might listen to women who are unlike her. The problem is not that women like Sandberg and Faust have failed to be saviors; as the DoubleTree workers have shown, working-class women are leading their own movements and stand at the head of their own struggles. It’s that women like the DoubleTree housekeepers are doing the concrete work of increasing equality, and women like Faust and Sandberg are thwarting instead of helping them. It is possible for a woman to sound like a feminist, and serve the function of The Man. We don’t need them to lead us, but if they aren’t going to express solidarity, they can at least get out of the way.

That’s the conclusion but the whole thing is really well worth your time. I will also say that Faust is an embarrassment to the reputation of historians. Faust herself works on issues of justice in her writing and yet has sold out all the way. I really struggle to understand how you can know everything she knows and then want to treat pregnant hotel workers or impoverished dining hall workers in this way. I guess that’s why I will never climb the corporate ladder.

The Republican War on Workers: Iowa Edition

[ 105 ] March 21, 2017 |

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Colin Gordon has an excellent if depressing summary of the horrors Iowa Republicans have pushed through this year, which has included an anti-union bill that makes Scott Walker look like a piker and the repeal of local ability to set wages or other progressive standards. The state’s workers comp system is next. Why? Because unions support Democrats.

In this sense, ALEC is accelerating the “risk shift” brought about by the growth of precarious employment and the fraying of the social safety net. The assault on workers’ compensation in Iowa, for example, is animated not by “out of control” claims and costs but by a desire to further shift the burden from employers onto the backs of injured workers and taxpayers, as uncompensated claims end up on the balance sheets of Social Security Disability Insurance, Medicare, and Medicaid. The prohibition on bargaining over health care, in turn, is widely regarded as the first step in the state’s retreat from offering any meaningful health coverage via public employment.

The final, and perhaps decisive, motive for Iowa Republicans is starkly political. The peculiar enmity for public-sector workers and their unions is less about fiscal constraint than it is about their critical role in the Democratic Party. The state’s largest public-sector unions (AFSCME and ISEA, the teachers’ union) contributed nearly $1 million to Democrats in the 2016 cycle. The collective-bargaining law (especially the dues and recertification provisions) is simply meant to turn off that faucet. This is what has played out in Wisconsin, where public sector unions have lost almost half their members (from 175,000 in 2010 to 91,000 in 2016): AFSCME has retreated to a single statewide council, and political contributions—and energies—have withered. The icing on this cake, unsurprisingly, is a new voter-ID law whose burden would fall largely on Democratic supporters.

Some in the statehouse may genuinely believe that this path makes sense for Iowa, but the evidence suggests otherwise. This is a frighteningly destructive agenda, virtually guaranteed—as we have seen play out in Kansas and in Wisconsin—to undermine the prosperity, security, and mobility of most Iowans. State Republicans and ALEC know this, which is why they’ve made sure to pair their economic agenda with measures designed to defang and defund their political opponents. The warm epigram from Field of Dreams—“It’s not heaven, it’s Iowa”—now sounds like a cruel joke.

This is of course the national Republican agenda and there’s a very real chance much of this goes nationwide by 2020.

Comments

[ 14 ] March 21, 2017 |

We are aware that most comments are going into moderation right now. We don’t know why. Probably the Russians. Don’t tell Glenn Greenwald, he’ll accuse us of McCarthyism. Anyway, we are working on it.

What Should Socialists Think about Godzilla?

[ 216 ] March 21, 2017 |

king-kong

I am so excited that Jacobin movie reviews are not just a one-off. Evidently, having a Haymarket Books guy write film reviews about how socialists should think about popular movies is not a one-off thing. First there was the classically bad review of Get Out. And now, we have the all-important question about how socialists should consider monster films.

By setting most of Kong: Skull Island in 1975, just days after the end of the war in Vietnam, and by enlisting a Marine Corp helicopter regiment to transport a band of plucky scientists to the uncharted Skull island, Vogt-Roberts makes very clear that he’s not just making a monster movie. Not much for subtlety, the movie practically bludgeons us with its intention to do politics. Its marketing material, its inclusion of a character named after Joseph Conrad, and its plethora of lines aspiring to profundity (“What was this even for?” asks one of the soldiers; “We create our enemies” opines another; “You never come home from war” Hiddleston waxes during a pause in the action) all serve this purpose.

Vogt-Roberts thinks he’s riffing on Apocalypse Now, or maybe Heart of Darkness more directly, and it’s obvious that Kong is supposed to figure in his allegory somehow. But our king of the jungle’s symbolic content is more confused than it is polysemic. By Skull Island’s conclusion there is no question that viewers are supposed to be rooting for Kong as he does battle with both the skull crawlers and Samuel L. Jackson’s deranged Col. Preston Packard, but whether he represents the Viet Cong, or nothing other than himself, is anyone’s guess.

It is also worth noting that while it’s not possible to read this version of Kong as a metaphoric stand-in for black men, the movie has hardly escaped the racism present in earlier incarnations. In fact, this very comparison slips back in by way of the decision to pit the entirely sympathetic giant ape against an ornery Sam Jackson hellbent on revenge. During their showdown the camera zooms in on the furrowed brow of Jackson and then of the ape, asking us to question which them is truly the monster.

And then there are the island’s indigenous inhabitants who get neither names nor lines — though, admittedly, their portrayal is less outright offensive than in the original (which is not saying much).

So, should socialists reject Kong: Skull Island for its inability to shed the racism inherited from its source material? And if so, does this undermine the allure of watching Viet-Kong smash down American attack helicopters? Others have addressed the issues of how to approach contradictory and even downright reactionary works of art more eloquently and at greater length than can be accomplished in this review, so I won’t attempt an answer to these questions.

Suffice it to say that if one goes in to this movie looking for a political perspective to get behind it will sorely disappoint. If, however, you go in looking for giant monsters fighting other giant monsters, Kong: Skull Island will more than meet expectations.

I’m glad that’s cleared up. One can just enjoy a movie and still be a socialist!

Republican Pollution Policy

[ 18 ] March 21, 2017 |

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Your Republican congresscritters:

Rep. Scott Perry was asked at a town hall in Red Lion on Saturday if he supported President Donald Trump’s proposed cuts to the Environmental Protection Agency in light of Pennsylvania’s “history of environmental problems.”

“Don’t we need a stronger EPA to protect the environment?” the questioner asked.

Perry, who has worked to restrict and limit the EPA’s abilities, didn’t directly answer the question.

Instead, he spoke of the Chesapeake Bay strategy, which he said was “forced on” the state and “left some violators out.”

Then he added:

“And by the way, some violators ― if you believe in, if you’re spiritual and you believe in God ― one of the violators was God, because the forests were providing a certain amount of nitrates and phosphates to the Chesapeake Bay.”

The crowd can be heard shouting in disbelief as Perry spoke.

“Oh, c’mon,” one person cried out.

The first thing everyone should learn about politics is that there is zero correlation between political success and intelligence.

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