Wednesday, July 17, 2019

WTF Series #8 - Trustlessness


Minneapolis 2040 Housing Plan

This is a zoning plan that allows any lot in the city of Minneapolis to have a 3 story apartment building.  It is being looked at across the nation as a model.  These are the reasons this plan will not stop gentrification and will enable a cruel kind of ‘density.’  Added to this is what to really do about high rents, taxes and mortgages, homelessness and how to stop gentrification:

19th Century Paris
   1.    The plan is market-based and profit-based.  It is essentially a gift to landlords and developers.  The banks gain either way.
   2.    The definition of ‘affordability’ is vague.  One person’s ‘affordability’ is another's ‘way out of reach.’  Plans like this always fudge affordability. 
   3.    Replacing a large old house with 3 apartments with 1 of them ostensibly ‘affordable’ might displace MORE people.  Many working-class people and youth live more ‘densely’ in old large houses than white-collar office workers living as singletons or couples.
   4.    Tax money (public-private partnership) will benefit private real estate capital.  I.E. this is corporate welfare.
   5.    The national track record for prior ‘affordable’ housing and ‘dense’ housing efforts administered by ‘the market’ and pro-market Democrats is poor and actually has increased gentrification.  The Minneapolis City Council is no different.
6.    The subtext is that the lowest cost working-class areas of the city with individual houses will see those houses bulldozed for apartment buildings, not in upscale neighborhoods.
7.    There is no mention of rent control.
8.    There is no mention of building control. (I.E. not allowing tear-down replacement by large, expensive houses that drive up taxes.)
9.    There is no adjustment to what property taxes pay for…like education.  Property taxes cannot be the source of school funding.  Property taxes result in rent rises and increased housing costs.
10.                       There is no mention of building more public housing or raising the number of Section 8 vouchers.
11.                       There is no mention of the city stopping the selling of empty buildings to house flippers and developers for peanuts.  They should become public housing or cooperative community land trusts.
12.                       There is no foreclosure bar, especially on illicit foreclosures of houses by banks.
13.                       Go to Chicago and see how ‘density’ has worked, as brick apartment buildings line street after street and costs are still high.
14.                       No questioning why rural areas and rural towns are being depopulated while corporations concentrate in urban areas.   I.E. capital concentrates both financially and geographically and this plan enables that.  Minneapolis is the capital of 5 states, which is the reason behind this plan.
New York apartment blocks
   15.                       No mention of co-operative housing or community land trusts.
   16.                       Unused park land could be used to install small trailer or shipping container homes for the functional homeless, which is about 80% of the homeless.
   17.                       Nothing about empty properties.  Tax or prohibit empty properties run as AirBnB or owned by speculators or corporations as temporary housing.
   18.                       Change laws to give tax breaks to people who rent out parts of their house as permanent housing.
   19.                       Bring industry back to Minneapolis.  This lowers land costs.
   20.                       Raise wages by law to an actual livable wage, which is higher than $15 in many cities.  In Minneapolis it is around $19.
   21.                       Legalize squats if the squatters preserve the property.
   22.                       Housing is a right.  Ultimately all land should be socialized under common ownership.  End rentier capitalism.
23.                       Allow people to sleep in their vehicles in chosen locations.

Basically, few trust the real estate industry in league with neo-liberal politicians to deal with these issues.  The verbal cover of anti-discrimination and anti-NIMBYism is just that - a sheen over the real end result.

Other reviews on this subject, use blog search box upper left:  “Nomadland,” “Capital City,” “Cade’s Rebellion,” “Rebel Cities,” “How to Kill a City,” “Tales of Two Cities.”

Red Frog
July 17, 2019

Tuesday, July 9, 2019

"The Blow From Below!"


“No Is Not Enough – Resisting Trump’s Shock Politics and Winning the World We Need,” by Naomi Klein, 2017

If you’ve never read Naomi Klein, this book reads like a collection of her greatest hits.  It combines the method of “No Logo,” her first book about branding with “The Shock Doctrine” that laid out how disaster capitalism works and finishes with “This Changes Everything,” – whose main theme was that the environmental emergency must lead to a total makeover of capitalism.

Essentially Klein says that Trump and his gang of petro-capitalists and thieves is the logical culmination of the neo-liberal political economy that has existed since the late 1970s.  Going back to the corporate ‘normal’ will not actually solve any basic problems.  So her approach goes against the centrist Democratic line and the heroes of “The Resistance®.”

Klein traces Trumps history from being a predatory real estate developer to a ‘brand’ – essentially putting his glitzy-cheap name on anything he could – universities, steaks, golf balls, buildings, menswear, mattresses, water, cologne – and for all we know, a line of golden toilets.  Besides becoming nationally known as a vicious boss who fires people, (the perfect capitalist reality show) she also reminds us of his role in World Wrestling Entertainment fights.  Essentially his political rallies are similar to mass entertainment wrestling events – with insult names and simple heroes and villains.  Even his family has become part of the ‘brand’ – sort of the semi-legal version of the Sopranos. 

Which reminds me that the parts of the Harley sub-culture crowd who support Trump are also covered with logos from their boots to their hats.  They are ‘branded’ too.  “Branded, branded, branded”!

Klein focuses on the theme of ‘shock’ – essentially when capitalists use a terrorist attack (9/11), a natural disaster (Katrina & Puerto Rico), a war (Iraq), an economic catastrophe (the Great Recession) or a border crisis to QUICKLY implement extremely repressive, privatizing and exploitative policies.  She is trying to prepare us for an even bigger ‘shock’ coming in the future.  In response, Klein thinks the environmental crisis can be used by the left to ‘shock’ the capitalists.  In other words, 'shock' can be used both ways.  After all, what is revolution but a terminal 'shock' to capital?

The point of the book’s title is that you have to be FOR something, not just against something.  As part of this, she was instrumental in creating a “LEAP” Manifesto for Canada which was signed by 200 organizations.  Its focus is against ‘single-issuism’ – as all issues are connected – and for broad organizational unity instead of single-organization isolation.  The Manifesto shies away from tiny incremental reformist steps - which is why it is called 'leap.'  It intends to counter dystopia with a bit of ‘utopia.’ The “LEAP Manifesto” is in the back of the book and seems more of a broad aspirational document for a rosier future than a focused list of demands.  As such, it fails to be a modern transitional program though perhaps it presages one. 
 
Brazilian Workers Party
Klein almost never uses the word ‘capitalist’ in this book, because as I’ve noted before, she wants a ‘humane’ capitalism, not a rapacious one. She substitutes ‘neo-liberalism’ for the term capitalism.  The word ‘socialism’ is also conspicuously absent, though the descriptions of a future society certainly sound somewhat socialist.  Nor is the subject of fascism ever brought up in the book, although the violent right-wing has been especially active since Trump’s election. She is speaking at the DSA convention in Chicago this summer and that should give you an idea of her social-democratic politics. 

Nor does Klein address the idea of a people’s party or a labor party or even an independent social-democratic party, similar to the NDP in Canada or labour parties, social-democratic parties or communist parties in Britain, Scandinavia, Australia, Brazil and almost everywhere else. She herself ‘could’ be in the left wing of the NDP, but there is no sign of this.  By default, this leaves the political field in the U.S. to the Democratic Party – which is her intention. 

But that is Klein.  She specializes in a somewhat hopeful, gauzy movementism, thinking that listing the attendees at the massive women’s marches, name-checking indigenous elders or compiling the same roster of organizations again and again will inspire the reader.  Yet we have seen how many of those organizations have faded since she wrote this book.  Nevertheless, this book is a good compendium of her thought.  So come in and buy it!

Other reviews on this subject below, use blog search box, upper left:  “The Shock Doctrine,” “This Changes Everything,” (Klein) “The People’s Summit,” “Why the U.S. Will Never Be a Social-Democracy,” “Up From Liberalism,” (Jacobin) “The Unwelcome Guest,” “Viking Economics.”

And I bought it at May Day Books!
Red Frog
July 9, 2019  

Friday, July 5, 2019

WTF Series #7 – Memorialize This!


Workers Memorial Day in April

Can you remember ever hearing the corporate media report on “Workers Memorial Day”?  I'll bet not.  It was a day developed first by a Canadian union and later by the AFL-CIO.  In the U.S. and now the world, it is on April 28 every year, a month before that ‘other’ U.S. Memorial Day.  In the U.S. 5,147 workers died in 2017 according to the Bureau of Labor Statistics and 3.6 million were injured to varying degrees in 2016.  This does not include occupational illnesses, physical or mental.  I doubt it also includes heat deaths. Here is the list of 2018’s 20 most dangerous occupations - from Business Insider:

    1.    Loggers
    2.    Fishermen
    3.    Aircraft pilots and flight engineers
    4.    Roofers
    5.    Refuse/recycling handlers
    6.    Structural iron and steel workers
    7.    Truck drivers
    8.    Farmers and ranchers
    9.    Construction supervisors
    10.                       Ground maintenance workers and agricultural workers
    11.                       Mechanical supervisors
    12.                       Construction laborers
    13.                       Police and sheriff’s officers and electrical line workers
    14.                       General maintenance and repair workers
15.                       Taxi drivers
16.                       First line supervisors of grounds crews
17.                       Telecommunication line installers and repairers
18.                       Athletes
19.                       Operating engineers / equipment operators in construction
20.                       Electricians

What you notice is that nearly all of these occupations are blue collar. The rest of the list going up to #36 is nearly all blue collar too.  White collar workers in offices are not dying of paper cuts, inhaling white-out or falling onto their computer keyboards.

Oddly there seems to be 3 supervisors listed – perhaps because they are not as prepared as regular workers at a construction site.  And at #3, who knew flying a plane was so dangerous?!  At #18, athletes, these must be football / hockey / rugby players …

Of most interest is the police and sheriff deaths, at #13.  The police are in a dark 'tie' with electrical line workers - they are not #1 as you might think by the constant talk about them.  The corporate media never lets us miss the death of a police officer, while U.S. “Memorial Day” is dedicated to war dead.  These are both aspects of the U.S.’s militarist mentality.  Regular workers are never mentioned except incidentally, yet they are the ones who are ‘the fallen.’

We also saw this yesterday on July 4th when Trump saluted the military extensively, pulling the curtain away from the ‘pacifist’ image the U.S. wishes to have.   It was clear from this that dead workers don't count, nor does their 'service.'

Red Frog
July 5, 2019

Wednesday, July 3, 2019

Colonizing the Factory


“Living and Dying on the Factory Floor – From the Outside In and the Inside Out,” by David Ranney, 2019

This is a wonderful political memoir about Ranney’s 7 years working in south Chicago factories in the late 1970s and early 1980s.  As a university professor he decided to quit academe and get jobs at factories instead, inspired by his political understanding and sequential membership in 4 left organizations - the New American Movement, Sojourner Truth Organization, Midwest Action League and News & Letters.  He had no mechanical tools or experience, was not a burly fellow and had never done this kind of labor before.  But this was the time of the hard left’s turn to the factories, when every organization either sent or encouraged their members to get hired on. 
 
Chicago’s workplaces were somewhat segregated, with whole plants or job categories reserved for certain skin tones or genders.  Sort of like an American caste system. The worst jobs went to African-Americans, Latinos or women.  Ranney got himself hired as a machine maintenance person and later after training, a welder – jobs that still could be toxic, hot, dangerous and exhausting.  He worked at 7 factories, getting fired from 4 for activism and once by not passing probation.  He participated in one strike at a shortening plant led by dark-skinned workers.  The picture on the front of the book was taken during the strike.  Unions were in many of the plants and while working at Solo Cup (that Solo Cup) he participated in a failed union drive. 

The book shows hostility between white, black and Latino workers that only broke down as they struggled against the bosses, their common enemy. Management was almost uniformly greedy, crude and vindictive.  Crooked or weak unions collaborated with the companies, while pro-labor lawyers made unsuccessful legal maneuvers.  The book hints at environmental and health damage to workers and consumers from some of the factories.   Ranney worked at one plant with born-again Christians, finding out they were all pro-company. 

On a personal level, Ranney made sure to combat white bigots on the job.  He worked closely with various coworkers when they stood up to the companies. Many of the African-American and Latino workers had little education but understood the class and color caste system quite well and were the most militant.  Ranney had ties to the south-side Workers Rights Center and the lawyers there, so was able to help with leaflets, meeting space and legal aid.   He was injured once by boiling steam and jailed once during that strike.  He has fond memories for those he worked with and who stood against the firms. 

Ranney last job was on 3rd shift.  This brutal sleepless schedule made him decide to go back to academe.  I suspect the ‘dying’ in the title really relates to the damage sustained through the work itself. 

Closed factory in Chicago
I myself worked about 13 years in northwest Chicago factories starting in 1981 while being a supporter or member of 3 socialist organizations, so this book is familiar.  For all the socialist cadre who went into plants, this memoir will strike an emotional chord.  For those who never did, it provides a window into the factory working class you won’t get on TV.  Only one plant that Ranney worked in making railroad cars still exists.  The rest of the work was sent overseas or to the U.S. south, was automated, downsized or went extinct. For the relocated factories in the global South, these Chicago conditions are now replicated on a new workforce, but still under the rule of the same logic, capital. 

Other reviews on this subject below.  Use blog search box, upper left:  “Factory Days” (Gibbs); “Night Shift” (Kolm); “Night Shift – 270 Factory Stories” (Macaray); “The Unseen” (Belestrini): “Red Baker” (Ward); “Facing Reality” (CLR James - Lee) “Mistaken Identity” (Haider); “Revolution in the Air,” (Elbaum). Also the non-reviewed but hilarious book "Rivethead" (Hamper).

And I bought it at May Day Books!
Red Frog
July 3, 2019

Friday, June 28, 2019

The Class Battle Over Land


“Capital City – Gentrification and the Real Estate State,” by Samuel Stein, 2019

This book discusses the role city government, city planners, finance companies and the real estate industry have on increasing gentrification.  Stein lives in New York, so most of the book is focused on how New York gentrified – by running industries out of town, by giving huge tax breaks and rezoning to developers and landlords, by changing laws and by lying to the public. In New York this has been done by both Bloomberg and de Blasio, though with different tactics.  Stein has a chapter on the role of the Trump family, as Donald Trump is not only a sleazy real estate capitalist but president.  Stein seems to have a thin understanding of single family homes in smaller cities and so focuses on tenants and landlords.  He does include a section on certain reforms that can slow gentrification.

Stein is a city planner by training.  He points out that U.S. real estate has become a major repository for wealth, as 60% of world assets are in real estate.  As a capitalist economy fails to profit from production, it moves assets into either market speculation (finance capital) or the rentier economy (real estate capital).  In this it is closely aided by the state.  These are mainly politicians who sit on city councils, mostly Democrats at this point. This is what he identifies as the ‘real estate state.’ 

I’m going to bullet-point this one, as the book is loaded with facts that fighters against gentrification can use:

1.     “Affordability” is never defined at a level that is actually affordable for many.  Mixed-class developments allow many more higher-end units to be built while being billed otherwise.
2.                ‘Density’ as practiced has not cured affordability and sometimes not even increased density!  Like building an extra lane on the freeway, it just increases traffic on that road, including big trucks. 
3.                Cities and residents lose large amounts of money in tax giveaways for ‘development.’  This is corporate welfare or in his term, ‘geobribery.’
4.                Mega-projects always displace working-class and darker-skinned residents.  As do large density projects.
5.                Hedge fund Blackstone is now the world’s largest homeowner.
6.                Industrial zones depress land prices, which is why city governments try to remove them.  With them go jobs.  Gentrification can then proceed.
7.                “Market economies require planning.”
8.                “One of the tasks of urban planning … is to make capitalist development appear to be in the rational best interests of workers and bosses alike.”
9.                ‘Participatory planning’ by neighborhoods is used as a charade and is never decisive.  The City Council can ignore it. Essentially the process is “open but rigged.”
10.           “Real estate went from being a secondary to a primary source of capital accumulation.”
11.           “Art and cultural production” … are ways “to bring people with money into their cities.”  (The ‘creative class’ then gets removed as prices go up.)
12.           Stein supports the ‘right to stay’ – similar to what David Harvey called “the right to the city.”

Stein discusses the ‘rent gap,’ the ‘value gap’ and the ‘functional gap’ which allow for gentrification economics in a market context.  He explains the uses of ‘upzoning,’ ‘downzoning’ and rezoning.  He describes ‘value recapture’ from private projects, which are the window-dressing used to justify privatization.  And several other wonky terms.  This level of detail is useful for anyone attending a city hearing on a project or debating a real estate lackey.

We'll Squeeze You In Somewhere...
Stein’s immediate answers to gentrification all operate within the capitalist system, but are transitional demands.  He does not use the phrase ‘housing is a right’ but I’m sure he’d agree.  He doesn't deal with the immediate issue of homelessness.  Why cities in a capitalist economy are so large is not addressed.  Ultimately Stein wants to socialize the land.  This he sees as the end product of a mass anti-capitalist movement that repoliticizes land and rent as social issues, not 'natural' events.

His immediate solutions?  1.  Make ‘inclusionary zoning’ apply to richer neighborhoods too.  2.  Institute rent control.  3.  Stop privatization with ‘community land trusts,’ a real estate form of a co-operative.  4.  Cities should stop selling empty properties to landlords for a pittance, and instead include them in public housing.  5.  Build more public housing.  6.  Stop using property taxes to fund so many things.  7.  Pass laws or taxes against empty apartments owned or run by AirBnB landlords, empty 2nd homes, the overseas wealthy and speculators.  8.  Bring industry back to the city.  9.  Raise wages to pay the rent. 

P.S. – An excellent editorial by Ginger Jentzen against the Minneapolis 2040 Comprehensive Plan, which rezones the whole city to allow building 3 story apartment buildings everywhere.  This plan is being looked at nationwide.
http://www.citypages.com/news/minneapolis-housing-plan-rewards-developers-punishes-working-people/479556123

P.P.S - Trump's HUD has just endorsed a plan to fight for 'affordable housing' by getting rid of barriers to construction. So Minneapolis Mayor Jacob Frey has a new ally.   

Other reviews on this issue:  “How to Kill a City,” “Cade’s Rebellion,” “Tales of Two Cities,” “Rebel Cities,” “Nomadland,” “Notes on Local Politics in Our Town.”

And I bought it at May Day Books!
Red Frog, June 28, 2019

Tuesday, June 25, 2019

The Modern Fight Against Fascism


“Serekeftin – A Narrative of the Rojava Revolution” – by Marcel Cartier, 2019

Cartier visited northern Syria for about 6 weeks in what is now casually referred to as Rojava.  He writes this book from both a factual and emotional place.  He’s a self-described “Marxist-Leninist,” a British hip-hop artist and journalist who participated in Occupy in New York. This was one of a number of visits he has made to the Middle East. 
 
“Serekeftin” means victory in Kurdish.  This is what has been accomplished by force of arms against Daesh (ISIS) – a necessity for survival of the peoples living in Syria.  Cartier calls Daesh a fascist force, and indeed it is.  For any leftist who knows a bit of history, the situation in northern Syria brings to mind the Spanish Civil War, the 1917 Kornilov events in Russia, present day Venezuela, even WW II.  One could see the battle of Kobani as a smaller version of Stalingrad.  One is reminded of the Lend-Lease program through Murmansk. The unity of anarchists and socialists in Rojava as an improvement over that in Spain.  The Bolshevik and Petrograd Soviet’s block with Kerensky against Kornilov in August 1917.  The mass communes of Venezuela (and China) against reaction. 

Cartier defends Rojava as a radical leftist response to ethnic brutality, hatred of women, religious intolerance, centralist control and capitalist methods in Syria.
 
    1.    The Federal government of Rojava (“Democratic Federal System of Northern Syria) supports a multi-ethnic society and as part of this, is against an independent Kurdish state.  In the area Kurds, Arabs, Assyrians, Turkmen, Yazidis and Armenians serve in the armed units and have control in their own cities.  This is their form of internationalism.
     2.    Women have autonomous organizations, including military ones.  The leadership of the communes is always divided in half between men and women.  Forced marriages and polygamy have been outlawed.
3.    While most Kurds are Muslim, there is no official religion – religion itself seems absent in public. 
4.    The governing structures are similar to mass democratic councils / communes / assemblies, with membership and voting from the ground up.  Each neighborhood has one.
5.    Lastly, cooperatives are the basic form of economic organization, although Cartier’s details on this are incomplete.  He only mentions two examples – a bottled water plant and a large agricultural cooperative.  The issue of oil and the presence of small businesses and farmers is not remarked upon.

All this has been done in the face of war, but Rojava was years in the making.

One of the main threads running throughout the book is a polemic against the coffee-shop Facebook warriors who denigrate Rojava because it accepted military help from the U.S.  As Cartier points out, the survival of the peoples of northern Syria was at stake.  Any cursory glance at history shows a number of very important military blocks by leftists with anti-fascist bourgeois forces, WW II being the most prominent, but Spain, Venezuela, Nicaragua and the Russian revolution providing more evidence. 


YPG Improvised Vehicle
Rojava is surrounded by enemies – the nationalist Kurds in Iraq; the Turkish army; Daesh, al-Nusra and other Salafist forces in Syria, including elements of the FSA; perhaps in the future the Syrian Army. They have no doubt the U.S. will join that list when the military role of the YPG and YPJ is over. After all, these Rojava organizations were the key ground force crushing Daesh.  During the celebration of the victory in Raqqa over Daesh, the U.S. was very perturbed when the fighters rolled out a large portrait of the libertarian socialist Abdullah Oclan, the inspirational leader of the PKK.  Oclan has been jailed on a Turkish island for 20 years - very similar to the experience Nelson Mandela went through. 

The book also serves as a guide to the various organizations in the region. Cartier talks to internationalists who visited Rojava with him, along with international volunteers who came to fight fascism and for Rojava, some from the U.S.  He also meets many soft-spoken Rojava comrades during his weeks of education, touring and visits to a number of cities in the area.  This is an intentionally personal book, but it has enough facts to convince anyone paying attention that Rojava is a positive expression of current socialism and should be supported.

Other reviews on this subject, use blog search box, upper left:  “Rojava,” “The Management of Savagery,” “The Death of the Nation,” “What is the War on Terror and How to Fight It,” “War With Russia?” 

And I bought it at May Day Books!
Red Frog
June 25, 2019    

Friday, June 21, 2019

WTF Series #6 - Funny Money


Multi-Millionaire Comedians Who Love the System

Here is a list of top political or semi-political comedians in the U.S., sorted by net worth and color-coded by assumed political affiliation.  Most of these comics have large contracts with corporate media.  While you are laughing at their sometimes accurate or lame yet well-paid jokes, remember this chart:

Name - Last
Name - First
Date
Net Worth
Per Year
Stern
Howard
2019
$650,000,000
$90M
Letterman
David
2019
$400,000,000

Leno
Jay
2019
$350,000,000

Maher
Bill
2019
$100,000,000
$10M
O'Brien
Conan
2019
$85,000,000
$12M
Stewart
Jon
2019
$80,000,000

Colbert
Stephen
2019
$45,000,000
$4.5M
Degeneres
Ellen
2019
$45,000,000
$75M
Goldberg
Whoppi
2019
$45,000,000
$5M
Lopez
George
2019
$45,000,000
$12M
Handler
Chelsea
2019
$35,000,000
$10M
Kimmel
Jimmy
2019
$35,000,000
$10M
Miller
Dennis
2019
$30,000,000

Noah
Trevor
2019
$30,000,000
$8M
Fallon
Jimmy
2019
$25,000,000
$11M
Meyers
Seth
2019
$12,000,000
$3M
Garofalo
Janeann
2019
$10,000,000

Hughley
D.L.
2019
$10,000,000

Oliver
John
2019
$10,000,000
$5M
Bee
Samantha
2019
$7,000,000
Unknown
Wolf
Michelle
2019
$3,000,000

Bell
W Kamau
2019
$1,100,000
Unknown
Dore
Jimmy
2019
$1,000,000
Unknown
Camp
Lee
2019
Unknown
Unknown

I’ve graded them Blue for Democrat of some sort; Pink for Republican; Green, some kind of lefty-liberal.  This data is mostly taken from the Celebrity Net Worth site, which is updated frequently.  It is pretty clear that Republicans have a very poor sense of humor from this data.  Right-wingers evidently never laugh except at people with disabilities, providing a poor and tiny audience.  You would too, if you were waiting for The Rapture®, or spent too much time cleaning your gun.

At the top is the execrable jerk-off, Sirius XM's Howard Stern.  This is the guy who just got a fawning profile in Rolling Stone and was interviewed with respect on CNN.  He’s like some kind of elder statesman now.  In the CNN interview with Anderson Cooper (heir to Vanderbilt fortune, but not an intentionally funny man), Stern stated his long-time love for the Clintons.  But he interviewed Trump 40 times on his show, building Trump’s media image. Stern is the guy that wanted to A-bomb a Muslim country after 9/11.  None of this is shocking, it is normal functioning in corporate culture.

Aahhh... how cute.
After retired money hogs Letterman and Leno, we have AT&T / HBO's Bill Maher.  Maher still occasionally talks positively about atheism and weed, but mostly he’s got a terrible case of only-Trump comedy dementia.  Present and ex-CIA, FBI, Army and Republican guests; belt-way think tankers and journalists; right-wing and moderate Democrats – all guest on his show staffing an unending “Resistance®” patrol who want to ‘go back to a time before Trump.’  Yet Trump was produced by that ‘time.’  But if you had $100M, this might be a reasonable strategy!

The rest of the list contains other network late-night comedians whose focus on Trump’s lies, cruelties and idiocies makes comedy easier.  Trump’s a very soft target, as they say.  This is the endless modus operandi of Saturday Night Live.  Perhaps only AT&T/HBO's Jon Oliver actually handles a broad variety of issues that hide behind Trump.  He and his staff actually do research! Then we have gendarmes of Democratic Party bourgeois feminism, Comcast/NBC hosts DeGeneres and especially Goldberg, who castigate anyone to the left of the DNC.  You’ll notice Bee is working her way up the charts, as her regular show on Turner Broadcasting should upgrade her wealth.  So should W Kamau Bell’s regular gig on AT&T/CNN.  His wide-eyed interviews with various racist scumbags or African-Americans that know more than him are mostly fluff. At a live show, Bell made it clear he dislikes atheists (‘a white thing’) and thinks no African Americans are atheist.  Think again. 

At the bottom of the list are two prominent liberal-lefty comedians, Dore and Camp, whose regular gigs on You Tube and RT are not lucrative.  It’s a life though.  They go way beyond Trump humor, as the whole system is actually funny and corrupt.  One of Dore’s co-thinkers mentioned that guest comics cannot do political comedy on some of the late night shows, as that is reserved for the ‘host.’  This is one way left-wing humor does not get aired on mainstream TV.

Comedy is politics by other means, and certainly openly political comedy doesn’t even hide it anymore.  As funny as these people are – and remember, they are professionals just like your lawyer, with a huge writing staff – we should know where they are coming from.  They are part of the multi-millionaire class, the 2-5%.  They have a vested material interest in a capitalist system that exists behind Trump.  He’s making that system look vicious and stupid, which is the reason he is fodder for endless jokes.

Happy Summer Solstice!

The Kulture Kommissar
June 21, 2019