Thursday, 18 January 2018

Questions To Laura Pidcock MP, by David Lindsay

The following purely journalistic piece was sent on Monday as a letter to the Northern Echo, to the Morning Star and to The Guardian. I have not had sight of the Star this week, due to a combination of the snow and waiting for the gasman. But it has certainly appeared in neither of the others. So here it is. The Lanchester Review offers Laura Pidcock MP the right of reply:

Dear Sir,

With others, my name has appeared alongside that of George Galloway on your letters page in the past. Mr Galloway has become an enthusiastic supporter of my recently elected MP, Laura Pidcock. I therefore pose these questions, to ascertain whether or not Ms Pidcock agrees with Mr Galloway.

Does Laura Pidcock support justice for those 472 of Durham County Council’s Teaching Assistants who have lost 23 per cent of their pay? Does she advocate and practise crossparty friendship? Would she appear regularly on a Murdoch-owned radio station, and write for the Mail newspapers? Would she answer “No” to the question, “Are you a Marxist?” Is she opposed to Scottish independence? Does she advocate a vote for Sinn Féin on both sides of the Irish Border? Would she hand over the Falkland Islands to Argentina?

Is Laura Pidcock in favour of much tighter immigration controls? Would she describe anthropogenic global warming as “a tall tale”? Would she not have voted either for Donald Trump or for Hillary Clinton? Would she welcome a State Visit by President Trump, as it would be met by the largest demonstrations in British history?

Does Laura Pidcock support a legal presumption of equal parenting, and does she support Fathers 4 Justice as an organisation? Is she totally opposed both to abortion and to assisted suicide? Is she strongly opposed to the legalisation of drugs, to prostitution, to pornography, and to the lap-dancing clubs that have been an issue in this constituency in the past? And does she reject the idea that gender is a matter of self-identification?

Is she does in fact hold those views on drugs, on the sex industry, and on gender identity, then, while Laura Pidcock agrees with George Galloway, she disagrees with Owen Jones, who recently proclaimed her a potential Prime Minister.

Yours faithfully,

David Lindsay

Monday, 15 January 2018

Why Senator Cardin Is A Fitting Opponent For Chelsea Manning, by Norman Solomon

The top Democrat on the Senate Foreign Relations Committee, Ben Cardin, has become a big star in national media by routinely denouncing Russia as a dire threat to American democracy. The senior senator from Maryland personifies the highly dangerous opportunism that has set in among leading Democrats on the subject of Russia. 

Chelsea Manning confirmed on Sunday that she is challenging Senator Cardin’s re-election effort in the Democratic primary this June. Her campaign has real potential to raise key issues. One of them revolves around the kind of bellicose rhetoric that heightens the dangers of conflict between the world’s two nuclear superpowers.

In a typical foray into reckless hyperbole, Cardin told a public forum in November: “When you use cyber in an affirmative way to compromise our democratic, free election system, that’s an attack against America. It’s an act of war. It is an act of war.”

Cardin is far from the only member of Congress to use “act of war” rhetoric about alleged Russian cyber actions. Republican ultra-hawk Arizona Senator John McCain has hurled the phrase at Russia. But the most use of the phrase comes from a range of Democrats, such as Connecticut Senator Richard Blumenthal and the normally sensible Northern California Representative Jackie Speier

As his party’s ranking member of the key Senate committee on foreign policy, Cardin is at the tip of the anti-Russia propaganda spear. After three decades in Congress including nearly a dozen years in the Senate, he’s an old hand at spinning. No one has worked harder to get political mileage out of “Russiagate.”

Last week, Cardin upped the ante with the release of a report that he commissioned. In effect, it’s a declaration of red-white-and-blue jihad against Russia. The report -- which accuses Russian President Vladimir Putin of “a relentless assault to undermine democracy and the rule of law in Europe and the United States” -- received massive coverage in U.S. news media. Conservative and liberal punditry voiced acclaim.

“Never before in American history has so clear a threat to national security been so clearly ignored by a U.S. president,” a solo statement by Cardin declares on the opening page. With the truly repugnant President Trump in its crosshairs, the report’s most polemical claims -- no matter how debatable or ahistorical -- have predictably gotten a pass from mass media. But the much-ballyhooed report is a carefully selective and distorted version of history.

The expansion of NATO up to Russia’s borders, the U.S. interference in dozens of countries’ elections (including in Russia during the Clinton administration), Washington’s support for repressive regimes in the past and present -- such realities didn’t merit consideration or mention. Nor did facts such as the USA’s role as the world’s biggest arms merchant. Or the aggressively deadly U.S. military interventions in the recent past and present, from Afghanistan to Iraq to Libya.

Such omissions are essential to the self-righteous tone of the Russiagate frenzy. Only with silence about basic truths of U.S. foreign policy can officials in Washington pose as leaders of an angelic nation that must confront satanic Russia. In light of what is at stake for human survival – with the odds of nuclear war shifting ominously because of the agenda that he’s helping to push – Senator Cardin can be understood as someone who avidly fits into patterns of nationalistic and militaristic madness.

The sad fact is that he has plenty of company on Capitol Hill. Lemmings are bad enough, but conformists who would drag all of humanity over the cliff with them are far worse. Democratic leadership used to be much saner. Five decades ago, it was the fanatical Republican standard bearer Barry Goldwater who scorned reaching out to the Kremlin – while Democratic President Lyndon Johnson wisely sought détente with Russian leaders on behalf of peaceful coexistence and reducing the risks of nuclear conflagration.

Right after being sentenced to prison in August 2013 for heroic whistleblowing that exposed many U.S. war crimes, Chelsea Manning released a statement that quoted Howard Zinn: “There is not a flag large enough to cover the shame of killing innocent people.” A nuclear war between the United States and Russia would do more than kill vast numbers of innocent people. Scientific research tells us that a nuclear holocaust would make the Earth “virtually uninhabitable.” 

The extreme hostility toward Russia that makes such an outcome more likely must be rejected. Senator Ben Cardin is one of the loudest and most prominent voices for such hostility. He should be challenged.

Friday, 1 September 2017

My MP, Laura Pidcock, Has An Awful Lot To Learn, by David Lindsay

Laura Pidcock is my MP. I am almost alone among her constituents in having known her before she was imposed as the Labour candidate for North West Durham immediately before the General Election. As a firm left-winger myself, I have always got on with her, and I wish her well. But she has an awful lot to learn. 

“It never did Dennis Skinner any harm” is all well and good. But Skinner has never held a front bench position in 47 years and counting. Whereas the Constituency Labour Party here in North West Durham is accustomed to Ernest Armstrong, Hilary Armstrong and Pat Glass.

That CLP is now quite left-wing, having nominated Ed Miliband in 2010, Andy Burnham in 2015, and Jeremy Corbyn in 2016. But it had no say in the selection of Pidcock, and it barely campaigned for her. Instead, she bussed in the members of various Hard and Far Left networks, some of whom prided themselves on never having been members of the Labour Party (I left it many years ago, but that is another story). And now, she informs the nation that she could never be friends with a Tory. To her, they are “the enemy”. 

North West Durham is a mostly rural constituency in which the largest town is Consett. Consett has steelworking, rather than primarily mining, roots that in any case ended several years before Pidcock was born. This constituency’s, and not least that town’s, population is still fairly fixed, but it is now vastly more fluid that it was even at the turn of the century, and it is becoming more so all the time. 

While obviously this area is nowhere near back to its pre-Thatcher levels of prosperity, nevertheless it is visibly becoming more affluent, and it always did have quite sizeable pockets, so to speak. Thanks to a Corbyn effect that benefited candidates across the Labour Party, Labour did just about win over 50 per cent of the vote this year. But that had not happened since 2005, and a thumping great majority has not been seen since 2001. 

In the territory of the old Consett Urban District Council, Labour’s performance at local elections has been downright poor since as long ago as 2003. As a result, in its last years, Derwentside District Council remained under Labour Overall Control due to wards in the neighbouring North Durham constituency. That authority was run in practice, and rather well, by a de facto coalition between the mainstream left-wing Labour Leadership in Consett and the countryside, and a body of broadly Tory-inclined Independents.

All of those Independents were in North West Durham. Their Leader kept his deposit when he contested this parliamentary seat in 2005 and 2010. In 2005, he took 9.8 per cent of the vote. He remains a member of what is now the unitary Durham County Council, fewer than half of the members of which for this constituency are members of the Labour Party. 

Derwentside was a Labour council throughout its history, but the greater part of this constituency’s area, although the smaller part of its population, was in neighbouring Wear Valley. Between its last elections in 2007, and its abolition in 2009, that authority was under No Overall Control while being led by the Liberal Democrats. They had enjoyed Overall Control of it from 1991 to 1995.

At the 2010 General Election, the Lib Dems cut the Labour majority in half here. Even in 2015 and 2017, that same candidate, a well-known local figure, retained more than three thousand votes. This year, even a Conservative candidate with an address in Sussex managed 16,516 votes, or 34.5 per cent. It is quite something for a Member of Parliament to define more than one third of her constituents as “the enemy”. 

Of course, all that a parliamentary candidate needs to be is the First Past the Post. But having been imposed rather than selected in the first place, and then having made such a start in office, it is very far from clear that the 29-year-old Laura Pidcock can expect to be even that for the six, seven or eight electoral cycles that she and her social media cheerleaders seem to presuppose.

Wednesday, 8 February 2017

Labour Could Be Driven Out of County Durham, by David Lindsay

Late last year, Durham County Council’s Teaching Assistants, without whom primary schools in particular simply would not function, went on strike twice.

Theirs was and is the most important industrial dispute in Britain today. When was the last time that two thousand people in this country went on strike, and that twice in three weeks?

They had faced being sacked at Christmas and reappointed on a 23 per cent pay cut. That, despite being paid far less than their counterparts in neighbouring areas.

Meanwhile, the Council had written off its loan of £3.74 million to Durham County Cricket Club, which provides the most powerful Councillors and Officers with a private box.

The late Davey Hopper of the Durham Miners’ Association gave invaluable support until his sudden and untimely death last July. That Association retains considerable clout both locally and in the wider trade union movement. It continues to be central to the struggle.

The fabulous Durham Miners’ Hall has hosted rallies of a size and energy not seen since the Miners’ Strike, and the Teaching Assistants marched in their hundreds, to tumultuous applause, at last year’s Durham Miners’ Gala.

That is the largest festival of working-class culture in Europe, and 2016’s was itself the largest since the 1960s, with at least 150,000 present. The Teaching Assistants’ cause was endorsed from the platform by speaker after speaker, including the rapturously received Jeremy Corbyn.

All of this has led to a stay of execution. Fresh negotiations are ongoing, with those affected at last in the room. But the fight goes on, with enormous political ramifications.

Durham County Council was the first local authority of which Labour ever won Overall Control. That has never been lost, in more than 100 years. The Labour Group on that authority is the largest in local government.

But that Council is now the Mike Ashley of the public sector, and the twenty-first century version of Margaret Thatcher’s National Coal Board. This May, it should be taken to No Overall Control.

Very large numbers of Labour Councillors have absented themselves from the votes on this issue. But enough of them have attended to ensure that the Teaching Assistants have been betrayed.

The Councillors, all of them Labour, who have thus voted ought all to lose their seats to whoever was best placed to remove them, very preferably activists in the Teaching Assistants’ remarkable campaign.

Several have already announced their “retirement”, in one case at the ripe old age of 23. There will be more.

The Liberal Democrats and the Independents have been stalwart supporters of the Teaching Assistants. Therefore, they deserve to be re-elected. That leaves only the Labour absentees, plus a mere four Conservatives who abstained.

Whoever the new Leader and Deputy Leader of Durham County Council were to be, they must not be members of the Labour Party.

The Teaching Assistants’ flag, which is now ubiquitous in County Durham, must fly from County Hall every day for the following four years, at least.

This victory will rank alongside the election of Ken Livingstone as Mayor of London in 2000, the election of George Galloway (a strong supporter) as MP for Bethnal Green and Bow in 2005, Galloway’s election as MP for Bradford West in 2012, the election of Jeremy Corbyn as Leader of the Labour Party in 2015, and Corbyn’s re-election in 2016.

Or, if you prefer, it will rank alongside any of the great Liberal Democrat by-election victories, or the election of Douglas Carswell in 2014, or his re-election in 2015, or the election of Mark Reckless in 2014, or the election and re-election of Caroline Lucas in 2010 and 2015, or the result of the referendum on EU membership.

That is not hyperbole. Labour’s loss of this unitary authority for half a million people would be very big news, and it would set the scene for the 2020 General Election.

For reasons that will by then be 25 years old, but which retain currency, I shall be contesting the new seat of Durham West and Teesdale, most of which is where Pat Glass MP will be retiring.

I shall be doing so without any party designation, not even the word “Independent”. I am not a member of any political party, but I am part of numerous overlapping networks of political interdependence, not least the Teaching Assistants’ campaign.

Since he has taken to reasserting himself in British politics, I challenge Tony Blair to declare that he is the Labour candidate for this open seat here in his old County Durham stomping ground. Either that, or to shut up and go away.

It is imperative that Grahame Morris, who has given the Teaching Assistants stalwart support, be re-elected at Easington. But there has been no such support from any of the other MPs who intend to stand again, all of whom are Labour.

Likewise without any description next to their names, candidates from among the Teaching Assistants, the Lions of Durham as once there were Lions of Grunwick, need to stand against those MPs, and they need to be sent to a House of Commons that their presence would transform.

A similar dispute is ongoing in Derby, where the former MP Chris Williamson needs to return to Parliament for whichever constituency he chose, and where, again, Teaching Assistants or their supporters need to be elected on this same basis for every other seat.

The Liberal Democrats are on course to deprive the Conservatives of dozens of Remain-voting constituencies in the South.

Aside from this dispute, at parliamentary elections in the North, Labour’s support holds up enough to win under First Past the Post.

That system will also secure the SNP’s continued strength in Scotland. Wales will still be pretty much as it has always been. All bets are now off in Northern Ireland.

A hung Parliament in 2020 is a very distinct possibility. I fully intend to be there. We should all want the Durham and Derby Teaching Assistants to be there.

Let’s make it happen.

Monday, 9 January 2017

The Democratic Party Line That Could Torch Civil Liberties… and Maybe Help Blow Up the World, by Norman Solomon

Many top Democrats are stoking a political firestorm.

We keep hearing that Russia attacked democracy by hacking into Democratic officials’ emails and undermining Hillary Clinton’s campaign.

Instead of candidly assessing key factors such as longtime fealty to Wall Street that made it impossible for her to ride a populist wave, the party line has increasingly circled around blaming Vladimir Putin for her defeat.

Of course partisan spinners aren’t big on self-examination, especially if they’re aligned with the Democratic Party’s dominant corporate wing. 

And the option of continually fingering the Kremlin as the main villain of a 2016 morality play is clearly too juicy for functionary Democrats to pass up -- even if that means scorching civil liberties and escalating a new cold war that could turn radioactively hot.

Much of the current fuel for the blame-Russia blaze has to do with the horrifying reality that Donald Trump will soon become president. Big media outlets are blowing oxygen into the inferno. 

But the flames are also being fanned by people who should know better.

Consider the Boston Globe article that John Shattuck -- a former Washington legal director of the American Civil Liberties Union -- wrote in mid-December. 

A specter of treason hovers over Donald Trump,” the civil libertarian wrote

“He has brought it on himself by dismissing a bipartisan call for an investigation of Russia’s hacking of the Democratic National Committee as a ‘ridiculous’ political attack on the legitimacy of his election as president.”

As quickly pointed out by Mark Kleiman, a professor of public policy at New York University, raising the specter of treason “is simply wrong” -- and “its wrongness matters, not just because hyperbole always weakens argument, but because the carefully restricted definition of the crime of treason is essential to protecting free speech and the freedom of association.”

Is Shattuck’s piece a mere outlier? 

Sadly, no. 

Although full of gaping holes, it reflects a substantial portion of the current liberal zeitgeist. 

And so the argument that Shattuck made was carried forward into the new year by Robert Kuttner, co-editor of The American Prospect, who approvingly quoted Shattuck’s article in a Jan. 1 piece that flatly declared: “In his dalliance with Vladimir Putin, Trump’s actions are skirting treason.”

The momentum of fully justified loathing for Trump has drawn some normally level-headed people into untenable -- and dangerous -- positions. 

The “treason” approach that Shattuck and Kuttner have embraced is particularly ironic and misplaced, given that Trump’s current course will soon make him legally deserving of impeachment due to extreme conflicts of interest that are set to violate the Emoluments Clause of the Constitution.

Among the admirable progressives who supported Bernie’s presidential campaign but have succumbed to Russia-baiting of Trump are former Labor Secretary Robert Reich and Congressman Keith Ellison, who is a candidate for chair of the Democratic National Committee.

Last week, in a widely circulated post on his Facebook page, Reich wrote: “Evidence continues to mount that Trump is on Putin’s side.” 

But Reich’s list of “evidence” hardly made the case that Trump “is on Putin’s side,” whatever that means.

A day later, when Trump tweeted a favorable comment about Putin, Rep. Ellison quickly echoed Democratic Party orthodoxy with a tweet

Praising a foreign leader for undermining our democracy is a slap in the face to all who have served our country.”

Some of Putin’s policies are abhorrent, and criticizing his regime should be fair game as much as criticizing any other. 

At the same time, “do as we say, not as we do” isn’t apt to put the United States on high moral ground. 

The U.S. government has used a wide repertoire of regime change tactics including direct meddling in elections, and Uncle Sam has led the world in cyberattacks.

Intervention in the election of another country is categorically wrong. 

It’s also true that -- contrary to conventional U.S. wisdom at this point -- we don’t know much about a Russian role in last year’s election. 

We should not forget the long history of claims from agencies such as the CIA that turned out to be misleading or downright false.

Late last week, when the Obama administration released a drum-rolled report on the alleged Russian hacking, Democratic partisans and mainline journalists took it as something akin to gospel. 

But the editor of ConsortiumNews.com, former Associated Press and Newsweek reporter Robert Parry, wrote an assessment concluding that the latest report “again failed to demonstrate that there is any proof behind U.S. allegations that Russia both hacked into Democratic emails and distributed them via WikiLeaks to the American people.”

Even if the Russian government did intervene in the U.S. election by hacking emails and publicizing them, key questions remain. Such as:

* Do we really want to escalate a new cold war with a country that has thousands of nuclear weapons? 
* Do we really want a witch-hunting environment here at home, targeting people with views that have some overlap with Kremlin positions?
* Can the president of Russia truly “undermine our democracy” -- or aren’t the deficits of democracy in the United States overwhelmingly self-inflicted from within the U.S. borders?

It’s so much easier to fixate on Putin as a villainous plotter against our democracy instead of directly taking on our country’s racist and class biases, its structural mechanisms that relentlessly favor white and affluent voters, its subservience to obscene wealth and corporate power.

There’s been a lot of talk lately about refusing to normalize the Trump presidency. 

And that’s crucial. 

Yet we should also push back against normalizing the deflection of outrage at the U.S. political system’s chronic injustices and horrendous results -- deflection that situates the crux of the problem in a foreign capital instead of our own. 

We should reject the guidance of politicians and commentators who are all too willing to throw basic tenets of civil liberties overboard, while heightening the risks of brinkmanship that could end with the two biggest nuclear powers blowing up the world.

Norman Solomon is co-founder of the online activist group RootsAction.org. His books include “War Made Easy: How Presidents and Pundits Keep Spinning Us to Death.” He is the executive director of the Institute for Public Accuracy.

Monday, 12 December 2016

Media Complicity Is Key to Blacklisting Websites, by Norman Solomon

We still don’t have any sort of apology or retraction from the Washington Post for promoting “The List” -- the highly dangerous blacklist that got a huge boost from the newspaper’s fawning coverage on November 24.

The project of smearing 200 websites with one broad brush wouldn’t have gotten far without the avid complicity of high-profile media outlets, starting with the Post

On Thursday -- a week after the Post published its front-page news article hyping the blacklist that was put out by a group of unidentified people called PropOrNot -- I sent a petition statement to the newspaper’s executive editor Martin Baron.

“Smearing is not reporting,” the RootsAction petition says. 

“The Washington Post’s recent descent into McCarthyism -- promoting anonymous and shoddy claims that a vast range of some 200 websites are all accomplices or tools of the Russian government -- violates basic journalistic standards and does real harm to democratic discourse in our country. 

“We urge the Washington Post to prominently retract the article and apologize for publishing it.” 

After mentioning that 6,000 people had signed the petition (the number has doubled since then), my email to Baron added:

“If you skim through the comments that many of the signers added to the petition online, I think you might find them to be of interest. 

“I wonder if you see a basis for dialogue on the issues raised by critics of the Post piece in question.” 

The reply came from the newspaper’s vice president for public relations, Kristine Coratti Kelly, who thanked me “for reaching out to us” before presenting the Post’s response, quoted here in full:

“The Post reported on the work of four separate sets of researchers, as well as independent experts, who have examined Russian attempts to influence American democracy. PropOrNot was one.

“The Post did not name any of the sites on PropOrNot’s list of organizations that it said had -- wittingly or unwittingly -- published or echoed Russian propaganda. 

“The Post reviewed PropOrNot's findings and our questions about them were answered satisfactorily during the course of multiple interviews.”

But that damage-control response was as full of holes as the news story it tried to defend.

For one thing, PropOrNot wasn’t just another source for the Post’s story. 

As The New Yorker noted in a devastating article on Dec. 1, the story “prominently cited the PropOrNot research.” 

The Post’s account “had the force of revelation, thanks in large part to the apparent scientific authority of PropOrNot’s work: the group released a 32-page report detailing its methodology, and named names with its list of 200 suspect news outlets…. But a close look at the report showed that it was a mess.” 

Contrary to the PR message from the Post vice president, PropOrNot did not merely say that the sites on its list had “published or echoed Russian propaganda.” 

Without a word of the slightest doubt or skepticism in the entire story, the Post summarized PropOrNot’s characterization of all the websites on its list as falling into two categories: 

“Some players in this online echo chamber were knowingly part of the propaganda campaign, the researchers concluded, while others were ‘useful idiots’ -- a term born of the Cold War to describe people or institutions that unknowingly assisted Soviet Union propaganda efforts.”

As The New Yorker pointed out, PropOrNot’s criteria for incriminating content were broad enough to include “nearly every news outlet in the world, including the Post itself.” 

Yet “The List” is not a random list by any means -- it’s a targeted mish-mash, naming websites that are not within shouting distance of the U.S. corporate and foreign policy establishment.

And so the list includes a few overtly Russian-funded outlets; some other sites generally aligned with Kremlin outlooks; many pro-Trump sites, often unacquainted with what it means to be factual and sometimes overtly racist; and other websites that are quite different -- solid, factual, reasonable -- but too progressive or too anti-capitalist or too libertarian or too right-wing or just plain too independent-minded for the evident tastes of whoever is behind PropOrNot. 

As The New Yorker’s writer Adrian Chen put it: 

“To PropOrNot, simply exhibiting a pattern of beliefs outside the political mainstream is enough to risk being labeled a Russian propagandist.” 

And he concluded: 

“Despite the impressive-looking diagrams and figures in its report, PropOrNot’s findings rest largely on innuendo and conspiracy thinking.” 

As for the Post vice president’s defensive phrasing that “the Post did not name any of the sites on PropOrNot’s list,” the fact is that the Post unequivocally promoted PropOrNot, driving web traffic to its site and adding a hotlink to the anonymous group’s 32-page report soon after the newspaper’s story first appeared. 

As I mentioned in my reply to her: 

Unfortunately, it's kind of like a newspaper saying that it didn't name any of the people on the Red Channels blacklist in 1950 while promoting it in news coverage, so no problem.” 

As much as the Post news management might want to weasel out of the comparison, the parallels to the advent of the McCarthy Era are chilling. 

For instance, the Red Channels list, with 151 names on it, was successful as a weapon against dissent and free speech in large part because, early on, so many media outlets of the day actively aided and abetted blacklisting, as the Post has done for “The List.” 

Consider how the Post story described the personnel of PropOrNot in favorable terms even while hiding all of their identities and thus shielding them from any scrutiny -- calling them “a nonpartisan collection of researchers with foreign policy, military and technology backgrounds.”

So far The New Yorker has been the largest media outlet to directly confront the Post’s egregious story. Cogent assessments can also be found at The InterceptConsortium NewsCommon DreamsAlterNetRolling StoneFortuneCounterPunchThe Nation and numerous other sites. 

But many mainline journalists and outlets jumped at the chance to amplify the Post’s piece of work. A sampling of the cheers from prominent journalists and liberal partisans was published by FAIR.org under the apt headline “Why Are Media Outlets Still Citing Discredited ‘Fake News’ Blacklist?” 

FAIR’s media analyst Adam Johnson cited enthusiastic responses to the bogus story from journalists like Bloomberg’s Sahil Kupar and MSNBC’s Joy Reid -- and such outlets as USA Today, Gizmodo, the PBS NewsHour, The Daily BeastSlateAPThe Verge and NPR, which “all uncritically wrote up the Post’s most incendiary claims with little or minimal pushback.” 

On the MSNBC site, the Rachel Maddow Show's blog added another breathless write-up hours later, repeating the catchy talking point that ‘it was like Russia was running a super PAC for Trump’s campaign. 

With so many people understandably upset about Trump’s victory, there’s an evident attraction to blaming the Kremlin, a convenient scapegoat for Hillary Clinton’s loss. 

But the Post’s blacklisting story and the media’s amplification of it -- and the overall political environment that it helps to create -- are all building blocks for a reactionary order, threatening the First Amendment and a range of civil liberties. 

When liberals have green lighted a witch-hunt, right wingers have been pleased to run with it. President Harry Truman issued an executive order in March 1947 to establish “loyalty” investigations in every agency of the federal government. 

Joe McCarthy and the era named after him were soon to follow. 

In media and government, the journalists and officials who enable blacklisting are cravenly siding with conformity instead of democracy.

Norman Solomon is co-founder of the online activist group RootsAction.org. His books include “War Made Easy: How Presidents and Pundits Keep Spinning Us to Death.” He is the executive director of the Institute for Public Accuracy.

Tuesday, 22 November 2016

In Resistance to Trump, “Community” Should Be a Verb, by Norman Solomon

Against a Trump regime that is totally unacceptable, we’ll need resistance that’s sustainable.

Like a healthy forest, the resistance will depend on great diversity to thrive -- a wide range of people engaging in a vast array of activities.

And our resistance will need community.

I’m not talking about the facile gloss of the word “community” that often follows an adjective denoting race, religion, ethnicity or sexual orientation.

The kinds of community that will make ongoing resistance possible have little to do with demographic categories.

The most powerful, most vital bonding will be transcendently human.

Facing a Trump presidency, we’ll have an imperative opportunity to go deeper as individuals and groups of people working together -- nurturing and growing the social, cultural and political strength that can overcome the Trump regime.

Our resistance has got to be broadly inclusive, offering and inspiring a great variety of nonviolent tactics and approaches, whether they emerge with a few people around a kitchen table or with many thousands of people at a public protest.

The strength of the united front that we need will depend on the extent of truly cooperative efforts.

Trump and his allies have already injected huge quantities of toxins into the body politic, with much more on the way. The antidote is democratic engagement from the grassroots.

Right now, as the new regime rolls out its top henchmen, early steps include doing all we can to block Trump’s horrendous Cabinet picks.

To challenge the enemies of democracy who have gained power, we’re just getting started.

What’s at stake for U.S. society includes basic social decency, human rights, economic justice, civil liberties, rule of law -- in short, democracy. Also at stake: climate change, nuclear weapons, the fate of the earth.

Trump has clearly shown his intention to destroy many decades of progress for the rights of women, people of color, Muslims, undocumented immigrants and many other people, while tightening the knot of the corporate state and the warfare state.

From Wall Street to Pennsylvania Avenue to the Pentagon, the purveyors of mega-corporate technocracy, oligarchy and militarism have given “power” a bad name. 

And yet the solution to anti-democratic power is power -- truly democratic power -- from the grassroots, from the bottom up -- really our only hope. 

From protests and electoral work to public education and lobbying and legal interventions and so many other forms of organizing and activism, countless essential tasks await us. 

During the presidency of Popular-Vote Loser Trump -- maybe more profoundly than at any other time in our lifetimes -- we’ll need each other to make resistance personally sustainable, socially viable and political effective.

This is all about energizing ourselves and each other, now and for the long haul.

That’s why community should be a verb.

Norman Solomon is co-founder of the online activist group RootsAction.org. His books include “War Made Easy: How Presidents and Pundits Keep Spinning Us to Death.” He is the executive director of the Institute for Public Accuracy.