Stop Brett Kavanaugh— A Corporation Masquerading as a Judge

By Ralph Nader
In the Public Interest

Observers say that confirmation of Judge Brett Kavanaugh to become President Trump’s second pick for a lifetime job on the Supreme Court will make the Court more conservative. It is more accurate to say Kavanaugh will make the Court more corporatist.

With Kavanaugh, it is all about siding with corporations over workers, consumers, patients, motorists, the poor, minority voters, and beleaguered communities.

Repeatedly Kavanaugh’s judicial opinions put corporate interests ahead of the common good—backing the powerful against the weak, the vulnerable, and the defenseless.

Apart from his declared views pouring power and immunity into the Presidency (which is why Trump wants him), Kavanaugh could be the most corporate judge in modern American history. Two meticulous reports on his judicial decisions, one by the Alliance for Justice (AFJ) and one by Public Citizen demonstrate that for him it’s all about corporations uber alles.

Here is AFJ’s summary:

Kavanaugh has repeatedly ruled against efforts to combat climate change and the regulation of greenhouse gases. He also repeatedly ruled against protections for clean air. He has repeatedly sided with the wealthy and the powerful over all Americans. He has fought consumer protections in the areas of automobile safety, financial services, and a free and open internet. Kavanaugh has also repeatedly ruled against workers, workplace protections and safety regulations.

Do you want him to be on the Supreme Court?

Kavanaugh is a corporate supremacist to a fanatic level of protecting corporate cruelty and greed. Giving him an unaccountable lifetime position on the Court will weaken our democracy and empower the corporate state.
Whole story at this link
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Are Young Chinese Communists too Communist for Communist Party of China?

Instead of following her friends into a white-collar office job in a glistening new Chinese skyscraper after she graduated with a masters degree in mathematics and computer science from the elite Sun Yat-sen University in 2015, Shen Mengyu became an assembly-line worker in a car parts factory.

“My career choice is not whimsical,” she wrote about her factory job. “It’s deeply planted in my understanding of the current conditions of the workers and in my belief that they must be changed.”

“Should I be entitled to a brighter future simply because I was born into a well-off family?” she wrote. “I am thinking of the 40,000 fingers cut off every year in the Pearl River delta, and the 280 million peasant workers who have devoted their youth to the cities but are not allowed to stay there.”

Ms Shen became a worker’s representative at the plant but was fired in May weeks after negotiating hard for better pay for her fellow workers.

This summer she helped inspire dozens of similarly-minded and highly-educated Chinese students and graduates to travel across the country to the southern city of Shenzhen to support workers at a welding company demanding the right to form an independent union.

Ms Shen, who is in her late 20s, has become a star of China’s burgeoning labour movement, a cause attracting some of the country’s best-educated young people.

View the whole story on The Times UK
(you will be asked to start a free one-month trial and perhaps you’ll want to get a paid subscription if you find their content worthwhile)

Nearly three decades after Chinese students erected a statue of liberty in Tiananmen Square and demanded a better government, the country’s post-Tiananmen generation has come of age, threatening to break the hiatus of youth activism that followed the bloody crackdown on the 1989 student protests.

Having grown up in a far more affluent country than the young activists of 1989, the Chinese youth of today don’t necessarily look up to the West for answers, especially when many believe western democracy is itself in crisis. The country’s internet firewall and propaganda have spawned an entire generation with little appetite for ideas from the outside.

Instead, Beijing’s promotion of Marxism and Maoism, the sacred scripts of the ruling party, has helped create a generation of young left-wingers, committed Marxists and anti-capitalists, who have found the plight of Chinese workers contrary to the socialist principles they’ve been taught. This new left wing has found a receptive audience in a broader swathe of the population, many disgusted by a jarring wealth gap and corruption, and nostalgic for the era of Mao Zedong, the founding revolutionary ruler of modern China.

For the young people who grew up in the post-1989 era, the failings of Mao’s collectivism and purges are in distant past, but the pains of capitalism are acutely felt now as workers battle low wages, long working hours and high living costs — all of which have made textbook Marxism appealing.

“We must adhere to socialist ideas and strive continuously to make the working class the true master by establishing a public economy,” said a literature student at one of the most prestigious universities in Beijing, who asked to be identified only by his family name Cao, to avoid scrutiny from the authorities.

“As Marx said, capitalism will never truly address the needs of the workers,” Mr Cao said, expressing admiration for the country’s once cradle-to-grave socialism that has been dismantled by economic reforms.

“Today’s students are tomorrow’s workers, our fates are closely linked,” said Yue Xin, who graduated from Peking University this year. “Our youth should be blended into the working class and be blended into the currents of social progress.”

Ms Yue, Ms Shen and Mr Cao were among dozens of Chinese college students and recent graduates who supported a call by workers of Jasic Technology, a Shenzhen-based welding equipment maker, for a union, in what many observers believe was the public political debut of China’s new left-wing youth movement.

“Whether you like it or not, the left-wing youth has taken the stage,” said Li Xuewen, an independent Chinese writer.

Upset with excessive overtime, draconian workplace rules that resulted in fines, and the company’s failure to adequately pay into a public social security fund, the 1,000 workers at Jasic began demanding in May the company recognise a worker’s union, as is technically permitted under Chinese law.

Instead the company responded by firing the leading workers for missed work and unruly behaviour. When their colleagues then rallied in front of the factory in late July, local police arrested 29 protesters on the charge of provoking troubles.

As images of the demonstrations spread online the country’s left-wing youth leaders mobilised and descended on Shenzhen to demand the release of the detained workers. Other supportes attending China’s elite universities have signed open letters calling for the workers to be freed.

Instead of unfurling banners of democracy and freedom, the young people held up Mao portraits, sang The Internationale, and wore T-shirts sporting one of Mao’s maxims: unity is power. They delivered impassioned speeches about workers’ rights.

“Why should the working class be labouring as slaves? Is it a fate? I say, No!” a young woman said. “We students and workers will fight until the end,” a male protester declared.

Ms Shen was hauled away on August 11 and placed under house arrest but that only caused a backlash.

In Beijing supporters petitioned both the All-China Federation of Trade Unions and the All-China Women’s Federation on her behalf. Sympathetic to their cause, several retired party officials offered their support.

Despite ideological disagreement, China’s liberal intellectuals have by and large embraced the left-wing youth. “It’s laudable that young people should care about politics,” said Zhao Chu, a liberal scholar. “There’s no point to dwell on whether they are left-wing or right-wing. We should transcend ideological differences when it comes to fighting for people’s rights.”

Until 1978 the party-controlled All China Federation of Trade Unions represented state workers in the planned economy but in the modern era it has largely failed to stand up for the industrial workforce, notably the 286 million so called “peasant workers” who have left their rural villages for factory jobs. Once grateful for better-paying manufacturing jobs, China’s migrant workers are increasingly demanding an end to sweatshop working conditions.

China’s labour law, in effect since 1995, granted many rights to workers but authorities prefer labour disputes to be resolved through government-led arbitration, a process that workers have found to be deeply flawed and believe often favours management. Instead workers have become increasingly organised and engaged in collective bargaining, and labour disputes have increased significantly in recent years.

China Labour Bulletin, a Hong Kong-based labour rights group, recorded more than 1,300 strikes in 2014. The number doubled to 2,664 in 2016, prompting Beijing to crack down on labour charities accused of inciting the protests. The number of strikes fell last year but appears to be rising again with 1,148 protests recorded in the first eight months of this year.

The new left poses a different challenge to Beijing, and it has yet to openly denounce a group that shares the ruling party’s purported ideology. Yet police raided the student protesters’ dormitories in Shenzhen last week, while state propaganda criticised the Jasic workers demands as disruptive to the public order and unlawful.

Despite the clampdown, and the fact that government-led negotiations with Jasic workers are under way, the young activists are not backing down. “It’s only justice for workers to form their own union, a right granted by the law,” wrote Ms Shen, in a leaked message from her house arrest.

“A few clowns cannot stop the turning wheels of history,” she wrote.

You Can Create the System Change Movement

System Change Movement
(or System Change, not Climate Change)

What is a System Change Movement?

Posted by Bobby G. (Bio follows the posting)

A network of localized, grassroots groups focused on the demands of their communities for meeting basic human needs in the communities, supported fully at the State level of government. These will be the basic needs which the current economic system is not meeting, and is not even capable of meeting, for affordable housing, adequate food and clean fresh water, mass transit that is independent of fossil fuel combustion, health care and education for all, which do not leave families and households deeply indebted to financial corporations. This is what “system change” means–a rapid change to an economic system in which these basic needs are provided by the economic system.

One-third of movement activity (a suggested ratio) should be focused on elections, or moving politicians in the intended direction of the groups. These will be multi-partisan, organized by people who identify as “Independents,” plus “progressive Democrats,” Democratic Socialists (including their left caucuses), Green Party, Socialist Alternative, as well as further-left groups, those which don’t reject electoral work entirely. Right-wing groups will show no interest in a new economic system, but will resist such a new movement mightily.

Two-thirds of activity should be focused on educating, agitating, organizing to bring in steadily increased numbers of people in each community. Developing independent media for communicating with the people unfiltered by the editorial demands of the corporate media to “spin the stories.” Emphasis should be on many public forums and collective actions which bring people together in real life to discuss their stories and problems.

WalMart15-1

McDonalds15-1  Things such as Walmart protests and strikes highlight the ways in which the economic system no longer meets human needs. Imagine if all the low-paid retail workers in your city, or a multi-county area, organized together and had running strikes demanding $15 an hour (or whatever the demand might be)?

To find out what other communities are doing about them. To widen the network. To make decisions democratically about what is to be done about these problems–what actions will groups, or entire communities, take. Use language that is common, hard-hitting, tells the truth and does not make empty promises which set off people’s “bullshit detectors” because they suspect they’re just empty promises.

 

I would look at this kind of movement as a source for the new political leadership for these communities, and for the State, as well as the nation. However, I would caution against allowing the grass-roots coalitions to be captured by ambitious or opportunistic politicians, or by political parties or factions seeing to take over and have a ready-made “base” of volunteers and voters. Further, resources (money) raised by grassroots groups participating in such a movement should not be handed-over as campaign donations. A major focus should be breaking the grip of corporate money in politics, not finding new creative ways to get “new corporate” money into politics.

What to do with politicians in office?

In terms of how such grassroots activist groups would interact with politicians already in office, I would not describe this as “lobbying.” I would describe it as “re-training” these office holders. Invite them to come and engage in “listening sessions.” These would be the opposite of what happens now, when a group of citizens are herded into a public forum, usually with plenty of Security Forces on hand to subdue and drag away unruly citizens, and then the politician feeds the citizens the latest orthodox doctrine of what the Party in Power decrees is going to happen.

KYteacher-WhichR

This striking Kentucky teacher has the right idea !!

Those politicians actively thwarting and sabotaging initiatives put forward by the people at the grassroots should experience disruptions in their work, rather than “polite” lobbying efforts where they sit there and tune out the citizens and then thank them for their time. A good example of this kind of activity was the “Wisconsin Uprising” of 2011 in which a spontaneous disruption of “business as usual” was organized in a few weeks’ time after the union-busting Act 10 law was sprung on the Wisconsin people. Remember that new Governor who Grover Norquist described as the “model for the whole nation” in the new politics of one-party imposed austerity?

One recent story noted that the mass movement created in the Oklahoma teachers’ strike has had a definite effect upon the composition of the next legislature in OK.  This is the kind of effect I’m thinking of while writing this blog post. You create a mass movement or organization that the people can’t easily ignore, and in turn, the people may decide to take some positive political action based upon your activity.

Wisconsin is moving ever more quickly away from meeting the human needs of its citizens in those areas of need which I mentioned in the first paragraph. At the same time, we are beginning to feel the effects of sudden climate change. Within two decades we will also feel the impact of the return of depletion of the cheap fossil fuel resource base which keeps the economy here humming along. As production declines resume in these resources, Wisconsin will find itself among the least prepared of all the 50 States.

Progress towards renewable energy at the level of public policy (State government) came to a screeching halt with the rise of the Grover Norquist movement here (Tea Party – election of Scott Walker, complete one-party control over our legislature, etc.).

WIflood-Ontario0828

Flooding in Ontario, WI late August, 2018. The whole Kickapoo River valley experienced record flood events.

However, the need for System Change, not Climate Change, is more urgent than ever, given the recent astounding flood events we have experienced. We now have a Legislature that is literally life-threatening to our people, because of the denial of the crisis which is beginning to inundate us. Without rapid System Change, the future for the youth now attending K-12 will be a very difficult one, much more harsh than their grandparents had known.

So, my suggestion: Find an area of unmet real need in your community, find the people who are also deeply concerned about that, and start organizing for the deep systemic change that will get that need covered equitably for all people in your community.

posted by Bobby G. on Sept. 1 2018

Bobby Gifford is a current member of Portage County (WI) Board of Supervisors. Past engagement with real people’s movements included membership in United Electrical Workers’ Local 1139, Minneapolis (the UE); Shop Steward and Contract Committee member in International Union of Electrical Workers’ Local 1140, Minneapolis (the IUE); Editor of La Crosse County (WI) monthly newspaper The Union Herald while a member of IAMAW (Machinists’ Union) Lodge 21; Organizer and Business Agent functions for the UE while in Sioux Falls, S.D. and Philadelphia-South Jersey areas. In Milwaukee, served as Community Organizer for East Side Housing Action Coalition (ESHAC); active in the Jobs With Peace organization;  voter registration drives for Jesse Jackson campaign; Greater Milwaukee Green Party activist and current officer with Wisconsin Green Party.