Category Archives: Liberal Pursuits

Special counsel Robert Mueller was born and bred to torment Donald Trump.

​If you hope (and think) Trump will get a fair shake from special prosecutor Robert Mueller, you might hope harder and think again when you read a leftist writer making this claim:​

​[T]​here’s one more thing about Mueller that’s going to make it impossible for Trump to show him any respect: The former FBI director is practically blood brothers with James Comey.

Great.

Laer:   Same article, writer adds:

Odds are good, in fact, that Trump will use Mueller’s closeness with Comey to accuse him of bias and question the legitimacy of his inquiry.

Really. Now why would anyone do that?

As I say, it’s fun to eavesdrop on someone’s echo chamber.

Rope-a-dopey Obama feds have tiger by tail

Not the first time, needless to say, but this one’s a doozy.

The objection made by many people opposed to establishing a right of the transgendered to use the bathroom or shower of their choice is not so much about the occasional transgendered person using a facility.

It is that by making someone’s gender choice unquestionable, you are actually saying that anyone, at any time, can use the facilities of the other gender, and if challenged, can simply claim to be transgendered.

So any middle aged man who wants to shower with the girls’ soccer team at the local community college will now have a federal right to do so.

And if anyone asks him to leave, they will be violating his legal rights. (Some have argued that social norms will keep people in line in bathrooms; but it seems hardly worth commenting on the uselessness of social norms when the underlying policy is meant to destroy social norms.)

Gender choice out of bounds for discussion. (Just live with it, young ladies taking shower.) 

The bloke makes the claim, no one dare stop him. (DOJ is on his case in the flash of a towel ping, ACLU providing the court case.)

Social norms? Forget about them! Right now!

Get a job and define it so it’s a lifetime gig

Which is what this Loyola U.-Chicago assoc. prof did when named diversity advisor to  the university’s president.

The first thing an institution—or even a person—needs to do is recognize that notions of inclusivity and diversity are not static. They are constantly changing.

That’s why we want to make sure the diversity statement we’re working on has the idea of change embedded in it, that it doesn’t just speak to respecting a list of diverse populations.

That holds us accountable as a community to constant growth and lets us work toward change, rather than setting a numerical goal and just stopping when we reach it.

There will be no stopping this fellow.

More of this socialism going around . . .

. . . . so (this time) I ambled over to the Loyola campus for a talk on “Women and Socialism” March 31. It was a gathering of neighborhood socialists, the Rogers Park Chapter of the Chicago Socialists, who meet Thursdays, 6:30 pm, at Willye B White Park, 1610 W. Howard Street. (There is also a Loyola branch of the International Socialists, FYI.)

Several references were made to this group being “revolutionary” socialists, which caught my attention as something I remembered from my reporting days in the early ’70s, when demonstrations had not yet petered out, as at the old McCormick Seminary across from the Seminary Restaurant in Lincoln Park, and at Northwestern in Evanston.

Speaker for this meeting, Sharon Smith, wrote the book, Women and Socialism Class, Race, and Capital, which had been praised by a U. of Texas-Austin professor as offering a “valuable and uncommon perspective on the oppression and liberation of women.”

On this night Smith presented the 1917 Bolshevik victory in Russia and other Marxist solutions as the model of how to release women from the bondage of monogamy-throttled capitalism.

Keenly disposed to be educated in these matters, I made my way over to Loyola, a mile or so from our apartment in Andersonville. It was the eve of the Chicago teachers union’s one-day wildcat strike. I wanted to hear about socialism. There’s a lot of that going around these days, as I have said; so what the hey? I decided I’d like to know more.

The 90-minute session was in a classroom, I assumed rented for the occasion, or made available as a good will gesture to the ‘hood. I got there just before the 6:30 start time, sat in the back, followed by a young guy in a ball cap, late 20s, I’d say, who took a chair to my right and chatted me up.

The author had an earlier book, about “working-class radicalism,” he told me. I nodded “Oh” in appreciation. Then the speaker lady was introduced by a very pleasant young woman in her 20s, who called the speaker’s book “amazing.”

Smith began. All here are for Planned Parenthood, she assumed, laying the groundwork,  and “fed up with fucking contempt for women,” which she called “a disease.”

Her attention was to women in general, yes. Hillary Clinton, for instance, has been “oppressed,” yes, “but nothing like the poor and women of color.” Supplying particulars, she concluded with “and the list goes on. It makes your head spin.”

In general, women have been “glorified” as homemakers, she said. This ideal has been “imposed on girls.” Opposing this “nuclear family” ideal is “the Marxist viewpoint,” rebutting as it does “the Christian-based matrimony until death do us part” ideal.

Not so the prehistoric “hunters and gatherers,” for whom men and women shared each other without marital bonds, she said. (Try this for a more complete discussion of this matter.) But then came the first “class society” — ancient Greece and Rome, where “the patriarchal family” became the norm. It was also “a slave society,” Smith added. And with this society came the “rise of prostitution.” She added, “Monogamy and prostitution go together.”

She cited Marx’s collaborator, philosopher Friedrich Engels, on condemning the right of the husband “to kill his wife” as had been upheld as far back as the ancient Greek and Roman patriarchal family. In this she traced the evolution of man-woman relationships from cavemen for whom the nuclear family had no meaning to the “class society” of those Greeks and Romans.

At issue was the ideal imposed by society in which women are “glorified as homemakers” and cheerful cleaner of toilets as in TV commercials — “and yes, I’m bitter” about that, she said. “The nuclear family ideal continues today,” canonizing “a life devoted to homemaking,” though the nuclear family “never was [the ideal] for black families in slavery.” (More later on this.)

Having children is “reproducing labor power” for capitalism. For women it means “second-class status,” signified by fact that “we abandon our last name” in marriage.

The cause of black women was set back by the 1965 Moynihan Report, in its arguing against women working “outside the home,” as “emasculating men.” Since the ’60s, she said, there has been “an increase of [anti-women] bigotry along with class inequality.”

But “the traditional family will disapear as a vehicle of capitalism,” she promised, citing the aftermath of the “Russian revolution” of 1917, before it was “crushed by an embargo that starved the population.” (More also on this later.)

From 1920, nevertheless, the new Russia declared abortion legal, repealing “all laws regarding sexual behavior.”

Smith spoke of raising a son, now age 20, “motivated a lot by guilt and shame.” She took a shot at Donald Trump for saying days earlier that a woman having an abortion should be punished as a law breaker.

She also criticized the mainstream women’s movement in which household names were Betty Friedan and Gloria Steinem when such headliners should include black lesbian and socialist feminist Barbara Smith.

In question time, a man bemoaned Obama as reformer. Under Obama, he said, there have been “more restrictions” in women’s issues than before. Why not “free abortion on demand,” he asked, as the 1920 Bolsheviks offered?

Smith nodded approval at these and other comments, which were followed by murmured agreement among the audience.

“Bombs fall . . . destroying the lives of women around the world,” another man said, growing increasingly engaged and excited as he spoke.

Later, Sharon Smith picked up on this, noting that former National Organization for Women president and publisher of Ms. Magazine Eleanor Smeal and other feminist leaders favored the war in Afghanistan, so as “to help women by dropping bombs on them.”

A pregnant woman quietly but severely criticized Hillary Clinton as one who “acts to make capitalism better,” aiding and abetting “the ruling class.”

The man next to me (who commented to me earlier) spoke up for family life. “Many of us rely on our families,” he said, but the state is trying to tear families apart. Families are a support thing. We rely on them,” he repeated. “People should be able to choose,” but family life “is regulated by the state, which hits our collective sense.” (Interferes with families’ ability to help its members.)

A man spoke up as the meeting drew to a close, telling of a demonstration in Austin TX at the state capitol when legislators were to vote on closing abortion clinics. The protesters made so much noise, the building “rumbled” and “politicians couldn’t hear themselves,” he said with a chuckle.

They “shut down the government process,” he said. It was “a people’s filibuster. A sense of power was felt by everyone there. It stopped people ruining everybody’s lives.” (Actually delayed it to the wee hours of the next calendar day, when legislators approved the shutdown of abortion clinics.)

Speaking very rapidly, he said, “This is what we mean by power. We shut it down.” He said he is glad when “a mass movement gets into the streets.”

A woman spoke of a “huge rally” she had attended which she found “super-exciting.”

Another reminded the group of a Black Lives Matter rally coming a few days later at the Cultural Center.

The meeting drew to an end. Sharon Smith asked how many would be voting for Hillary Clinton. No one raised his or her hand.

 

Lot of this socialism going around, so . . .

. . . this pursuer of truth decided to make some rounds. First in order of reporting, last night, 4/9/16, at College of Complexes, meeting these days at Dapper’s East, 2901 W. Addison, in the Addison Mall, where I heard a few things.

Speaker Charley Earp, executive committee chair of the Chicago Socialist Party, was winding up a short opening statement for the 35 or so on hand in a back room of a restaurant.

I heard something about Ronald Reagan being a benchmark for suspicion of socialists, which had begun to boom in the ’50s, and something else about U.S. being a tabula rasa compared to Europe, where traditions militated far less against socialism.

Oh. Yes, we are different. Nice to see that recognized, even if as a drawback.

Then the conversation began. It’s important to “transcend the wage system,” Earp said in answer to the first question — replacing it with a system that would not “cramp creativity.”

He works in the travel industry himself, but lives in a commune, though he’s not a member of the commune. This he said in answer to a question about starting socialism one group, or “colony,” at a time, which he called building communism “from below.” He rejected this strategy because all is interconnected and you can’t do it piecemeal.

Nor would he attempt socialism through partisan politics, which he said “only keeps the rich in power.” Hence his declining to support Bernie Sanders. “The rich will still run the government even if Bernie is elected,” he said. He does not feel the Bern.

What’s more, socialism is international or it’s not socialism at all. So the Soviet Union has not been a socialist country since Stalin chose a path of national socialism — one country at a time. But the term, which he did not use (it was Hitler’s), is provocative, is it not? Neither was China ever socialist, because it too was a national venture. World socialism is the true Marxist goal.

“Where does socialism work?” asked an old fellow. We were mostly old fellows, let me tell you, in stark contrast with my first socialism-learning venture a week or so earlier, where in a book talk the median was closer to 25, among a similar size group, 30 or 35 people. More later on that session.

Another asked whether Norman Thomas was a CIA agent. Earp did not dismiss the idea, but noted that suspicions lurked about Thomas, who headed U.S. socialists for decades between wars and into the post-war years. Hmm.

“Seems like we need a revolution,” muttered a woman at my table, one of a dozen or so tables he in this back room, where the working-class waitress bustled about efficiently in pursuit of her wage through friendly service. (Three-dollar cover charge, she told me when I declined a menu. I forked it over next time she flew by. It was College of C. “tuition,” which I already knew.)

A questioner used the term “democracy and freedom,” meaning the two together as peas in a pod. Earp asked, “Do you feel free?” but smiling as he said it and was in no way dismissive. Throughout, he was the pleasantest, most reasonable-sounding Marxist I ever listened to. Not sold on himself or on his cause, for that matter. It made easy listening.

He is “not a Trotskyist,” he said, in one of several byroads into theory cum autobiography,. Theory actually came through as his chief interest, and that contributed to the easy listening part. Nor did he espouse Lenin’s “left communism,” by which the founder meant “too left,” somehow overdoing it.

Talk like this, with perfectionism built into it, led to questions about what he had in mind. He admitted he’s been called “defeatist” in his letting the perfect be enemy of the good (my phrase here).

His personal goal? By now, at age 53, not knowing “all the answers” and no longer wanting to change the world, he wishes only to add to the membership of the Socialist Party of Chicago — whose Rogers Park branch, by the way, had hosted the Loyola-campus book talk, about which more later, as I said.

Asked if stock ownership can be socialistic, in that it means ownership of the means of production, Earp said not if it’s for profit. So the motive is the thing, said the questioner. Yes, motivation, Earp replied.

But more than that, of course, is ownership by whom? Not by some goldarned Wall Street investor, that’s for sure.

End of partial coverage of:
Bernie Sanders and Democratic Socialism: 
Beyond the 2016 Election
Meeting # 3,369 – Charley Earp of the Chicago Socialist Party who says:  “It’s debatable whether Bernie Sanders is an actual socialist, but those of us who advocate democratic socialism can’t afford to focus on merely getting Bernie elected. A real socialist movement isn’t reducible to one candidate or even a presidency, the working people of the world have to fight capitalist exploitation on many levels and fronts.”
Coming up, coverage of the book talk by Sharon Smith, discussing her latest book, Women and Socialism: Class, Race, and Capital at Room 217 of Cuneo Hall, Loyola U. Lake Shore Campus, 3/31/16.
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