Cards Against Humanity: Stopping the Wall

According to the November 19  New Zealand Herald, Cards Against Humanity is a politically incorrect party game in which players complete fill-in-the-blank statements with offensive, risqué or politically incorrect statements (see their website).

In 2018, they launched a Kickstarter campaign which enabled donors to purchase tiny parcels of vacant land on the US-Mexican border for $15 each. More than 150,000 people who bought parcels now collectively own thousands acres of land on which Trump plans to build his wall.

Cards Against Humanity has also hired a prominent eminent domain law firm to protect the new owners’ property rights. Their hope is to make construction of the border wall prohibitively expensive and time consuming.

They explain their campaign in this holiday video:

For more information about the organization and their border wall campaign, go to Cards Against Humanity Stops the Wall

Leaving God

Leaving God: Why I Left God and Why So Many Others Are Too

John Follis (2017)

Film Review

In Leaving God, a lapsed Catholic traces the steep decline in organized religion in the US. After running for decades at 4-5%, the percentage of Americans designating their religion as “none,” began shooting up in the early nineties. It reached 25% in 2016 (38% in 18-29 year olds). In fact only 1% of 18-29 year olds acknowledge belief in God.

These figures are accompanied by a big increase in American church closures – between 4,000 – 10,000 a year. This even though religion permeates nearly every facet of of American life – not only our government and courts, but our colleges, organized sports events and currency.

Follis agrees with IT researcher Allen  Downey that Americans’ growing disillusionment with organized religion is directly related to Internet access.* When people start to question religious dogma, the web is a great way to touch base with like minded people, as well as to research the brutality and violence of the Judeo-Christian religions.

Most of the film traces the personal journey that led Follis to leave his church. He was very much influenced by The Clergy Project, a website that links clergy who have lost their faith with pastors who have publicly “come out” against organized religion.

Hollis asserts that 2001 was the real turning point for him. He could never to come to grips with a loving God allowing 9-11 to happen. Nor the revelations that came out over the next year that the Catholic Church had systematically covered up the sexual abuse of 17,000 minors by 6,000 clergy.

The film includes a great clip of George Carlin describing religion as “the greatest bullshit story every told,” and comedian Ricky Gervais reading from the Old Testament.


*See Allen Downey and the Internet Religion Debate

A Program to End Teen Homelessness

Shelter

Vice Impact (2018)

Film Review

This film is about Covenant House, a remarkable teen homeless shelter in New Orleans. Although the founder James Kelly is Catholic and past co-president of Catholic Charities of New Orleans, the shelter is “Franciscan” in its refusal to impose religion or dogma on its staff or clients. It openly supports clients with LGBTQ issues, even though the Catholic Church condemns homosexuality and transgender identification.

Covenant House, in operation since 1988 caters to runaway, homeless and at-risk youth age up to age 22. Seventy percent of their clients have been physically and/or sexually abused and 80% have PTSD or some other mental illness. Twenty-five to thirty-nine percent are on psychotropic medication and some are overtly psychotic because they refuse to take medication. Some are single mothers who have their kids with them.

In addition to shelter and counseling, Covenant House also supports kids in attending local high schools, as well as offering GED, life skills and job readiness classes.

The documentary, which features moving vignettes of highly skilled counselors working with psychotic and highly troubled youth, is extremely moving.

The Foreign Emoluments Clause and the Washington DC Lawsuit Against Donald Trump

All the President’s Profits

Al Jazeera (2008)

Film Review

All the President’s Profits is a documentary about the current lawsuit again Donald Trump by the attorneys general of Washington DC and Maryland. The suit concerns the continued operation of the Trump International DC hotel, which they assert violates the Foreign Emoluments Clause of the Constitution.* The latter expressly forbids any sitting president from personally accepting payments from foreign governments.

Since Trump’s election in 2016, many delegations from foreign governments have stayed in the DC Trump hotel or held lavish events there. In nearly all cases, their motives – to curry favor with the President (eg favorable trade deals, foreign/slash military aid packages, etc) – have been really obvious.

In framing the Constitution, the founding fathers sought to prevent foreign policy decisions that enabled sitting presidents to line their pockets to the detriment of the American people.

Trump is the first president in history to refuse to either divest himself of his businesses or to place them in a blind trust.* * Instead he has turned them over to his family to run. The lawsuit alleges he continues to have knowledge of and influence over the operation of the Trump DC hotel (he has visited the hotel 12 times since his election). He’s also able to draw profits from it any time he chooses.

The lawsuit seeks to force him to divulge exactly which foreign governments have stayed or entertained there and how much they have paid for this privilege. It also seeks to make his tax returns public.

The US Justice Department is defending him against the suit.


*Foreign Emoluments Clause: “No Title of Nobility shall be granted by the United States: And no Person holding any Office of Profit or Trust under them, shall, without the Consent of the Congress, accept of any present, Emolument, Office, or Title, of any kind whatever, from any King, Prince, or foreign State” (from Article I).

**A blind trust prevents a business owner from having any knowledge, influence or benefit from the operation of their business.

 

The 1968 Global Revolt and the Brutal 1969 Global Crackdown

1968 Global Revolt – Part 3 The Explosion

DW (2018)

Film Review

Part 3 focuses on 1969 and the extreme police and military violence directed at anti-government protests in the US, Japan, Italy and Germany.

In the US, 1969 saw the occupation of derelict University of California-Berkeley property for the formation of a People’s Park and the formation of the Black Panther Party for Self-Defense. The latter would be destroyed by heavy CIA/FBI infiltration and assassination and false imprisonment of many of its leaders. 1969 also saw the sidetracking of many US antiwar protestors into environmental activism, women’s and gay liberation and alternative lifestyles (the hippy peace, love and truth movement, Woodstock and communal living).

In Germany, the students rejecting bourgeois capitalist lifestyles formed the Kommune movement. The filmmakers erroneously describe the Baader-Meinhoff Gang (aka the Red Army Faction), responsible for setting fire to department stores and warehouses, as a fringe offshoot of the the Kommune movement. The Baader-Meinhoff Gang was exposed in the early 90s as a CIA/NATO-driven product of Operation Gladio.*

The filmmakers also mischaracterize Italy’s Red Brigades as a violent offshoot of the Italian antifascist movement that mobilized tens of thousands of workers and students. The Red Brigades, responsible for tens of thousands of false flag bombings and assassinations, was also created and run by Operation Gladio. The Italian government used the Red Brigades “terrorist” activities events to justify the adoption of extreme repressive measures, including the imprisonment of 30,000 antifascist activists.

Also disappointing is the filmmakers’ failure to identify the root cause of Japan’s anti-American protests (ie the CIA funding of their single party government). In his book Blowback, Chalmers Johnson compares Japan’s US-controlled post-war government to East Germany’s dictatorship. Also see CIA supported Japan’s ruling party during Cold War era

*Operation Gladio is the code name for a CIA/NATO backed paramilitary network that carried out thousands of false flag terrorist operations to justify repressive government legislation to suppress grassroots anti-capitalist organizing. It was exposed in a 1992 BBC documentary.

 

 

The Sanitized Version of the 1968 Global Revolt

1968 Global Revolt – Summer of Love, Summer of Conflict

DW (2018)

Film Review

Part 2 focuses mainly on 1976-68, starting with ongoing anti-Vietnam War protests that took place in 1967 in Rome, Paris, Sao Paulo, Tokyo, Berlin, Sidney, Melbourne and many other cities.

In addition to student uprisings across the US in 1967, 150 American cities and towns experienced inner city riots as African Americans protested substandard housing, mass unemployment and police brutality.

This contrasted starkly with the 1967 Summer of Love in the Haight Ashbury district of San Francisco. This movement focused less on protesting than on drug and sexual experimentation. The film quotes a social scientist who maintains the Haight “love-in” came directly of of “suburban” (ie upper middle class) culture. The filmmakers make no mention of the role the CIA played in disseminating LSD to California youth in an effort to derail the student antiwar movement (see How the CIA Used LSD to Destroy the New Left)

This episode devotes major attention to the 9 million-strong student/worker protest in France that brought France to a standstill for two weeks in 1968.

The most disappointing segment of this film is an appearance of leftist-turned-neocon (and likely CIA asset) David Horowitz to discredit anti-Vietnam War activists who promoted Vietnam’s right of self-determination in its independence struggle. According to Horowitz, this position “disregarded” the desires of the South Vietnamese.

Like many of Horowitz’s sound bites, this statement is both misleading and factually inaccurate. One of the main reasons the US lost the Vietnam War is that the vast majority of South Vietnamese civilians opposed the US military occupation and supported the Vietcong (the South Vietnamese guerilla army that fought alongside North Vietnamese troops). See What You Never Learned in School About the Vietnam War

 

1965-75: The Decade that Nearly Dismantled Capitalism?

Global Revolt – Part 1 The Wave

DW (2018)

Film Review

This is a four-part documentary series, based on archival video footage, of a global uprising that took place between 1965-75. Although the uprising began with student protests opposing the Vietnam war, disgruntled workers and farmers joined in with students in France, Italy, Chile and Brazil and Japan. The main weakness of this series is the absence of a unifying thread. Although the historical film footage is superb, the scattershot approach and the misidentification of various Operation Gladio programs (as genuine leftist movements) makes it impossible for the viewer to draw any real conclusions.

Part 1 mainly focuses on the US anti-Vietnam War movement. However it also briefly examines the youth uprisings that occurred in the UK, Italy, Germany and Japan, as well as the first international conference of the Non-Aligned Movement* in Havana in 1963.

For me, the most interesting part of the film was the International War Crimes Tribunal Jean Paul Sartre and Bertrand Russell organized in 1967 to investigate US war crimes in Vietnam.


*Operation Gladio is the code name for a CIA/NATO backed paramilitary network that carried out thousands of false flag terrorist operations in Cold War Europe. The goal of these operations was to justify repressive government legislation against grassroots anti-capitalist organizers. It was exposed in a 1992 BBC documentary:

**The Non-Aligned Movement is an organization of sovereign countries that refuse to ally themselves with or against any of the major power blocs (US, Russia, China).