Saturday, August 20, 2016

Saturday, July 16, 2016

PKK statement on Turkey coup attempt

From Kurdish Daily News:
BEHDINAN (ANF) – KCK Executive Council Co-Presidency released a statement about the coup attempt in Turkey.

The statement said; “There has been a coup attempt by persons whose identity and purpose is yet not clear. It grabs attention that this attempt comes at a time when Tayyip Erdoğan will reportedly assign generals close to himself during the military council meeting set to take place soon. The fact that this coup attempt has been made in a process that witnesses discussions on the fascist AKP government’s foreign policy, is another dimension of this coup.”


The statement by KCK reads; “No matter within which internal and external political factors and focuses, and for what reasons a power struggle is waged, this case is not a matter of defending or not defending democracy. On the contrary, this situation is the proof of lack of democracy in Turkey. Such power struggles and attempts to seize the power once possible, are witnessed in undemocratic countries where an authoritarian power makes coup attempts to overthrow another authoritarian power when conditions are appropriate. This is what has happened in Turkey.


One year ago, Tayyip Erdoğan and the Palace Gladio staged a coup on the June 7 election results by taking along the MHP, all the fascists, the nationalist military powers figured as Ergenekon and a part of the army. This was a palace coup against the democratic will revealed by the people. The AKP fascism made an alliance with all fascist powers and a part of the army including the Chief of Defence in order to suppress the Kurdish Freedom Movement and democracy powers. The AKP fascism drove the army into Kurdish cities and towns, made them burn the cities to the ground and massacre hundreds of civilians. Furthermore, it enacted laws to disallow the trial of the military for the crimes they have committed.


There already existed a military tutelage before the coup attempt made yesterday; which makes the current case an attempt of coup by a military faction against the existing military faction. This is the reason why those wanting the army to stage a coup so far have accepted the existing military tutelage and taken sides with Tayyip Erdoğan.

The fact that MHP and chauvinistic nationalist circles took sides with the Palace Gladio and its fascist allies reveals quite clearly that this is not an incident of struggle between those siding with democracy and those standing against it.


Portraying Tayyip Erdoğan and the fascist AKP dictator as if they were democratic after this coup attempt is an approach even more dangerous than the coup attempt itself. Portraying the fight for power among authoritarian, despotic and anti-democratic forces as a fight between the supporters and enemies of democracy would only serve to legitimize the existing fascist and despotic government.


Turkey does not have a civilian group in power, or a struggle of democracy forces against coup plotters. The current fight is on who should lead the current political system, which is the enemy of democracy and Kurdish people. Therefore, democracy forces do not side with either camp during these clashes.


If there is a coup against democracy, it is the one carried out by the fascist AKP government. Political power’s control over the judiciary, the implementation of fascist laws and policies through a parliamentarian majority, the removal of parliamentarians’ immunities, the arrest of co-mayors, the removal of co-mayors from their positions, and the imprisonment of thousands of politicians from the HDP and DBP constitute more of an actual coup. Kurdish people are under unprecedented genocidal, fascist, and colonialist attacks in Kurdistan.


What has brought Turkey to this stage is the AKP government, which has transformed into a government of war against Kurdish people and the forces of democracy. With its monistic, hegemonic and anti-democratic character, it has kept Turkey in chaos and conflict. With its war against Kurdish people and the forces of democracy, it has kept Turkey in a state of civil war. The latest coup attempt shows that Turkey needs to get rid of the fascist AKP government and have a democratic government. The recent developments make it urgent for Turkey to democratize and get rid of its monist, hegemonic and fascist government.

Within this framework, forces of democracy should stand up against the legitimization of the fascist AKP government’s policies under the disguise of democracy, and create a democratic alliance that would democratize Turkey. This coup attempt makes it necessary for us to not slow down the struggle against AKP fascism but to enhance it so that chaos and clashes in Turkey come to an end and a new and democratic Turkey emerges.
This article is also worth reading.

Thursday, July 14, 2016

Interlude – Morning Dew

Something I like about this – gives the song a different inflection.

Quote of the day – “Resist, My People, Resist Them”

Resist, My People, Resist Them

Resist, my people, resist them.

In Jerusalem, I dressed my wounds and breathed my sorrows

And carried the soul in my palm

For an Arab Palestine.

I will not succumb to the “peaceful solution,”

Never lower my flags

Until I evict them from my land.

I cast them aside for a coming time.

Resist, my people, resist them.

Resist the settler’s robbery

And follow the caravan of martyrs.

Shred the disgraceful constitution

Which imposed degradation and humiliation

And deterred us from restoring justice.

They burned blameless children;

As for Hadil, they sniped her in public,

Killed her in broad daylight.

Resist, my people, resist them.

Resist the colonialist’s onslaught.

Pay no mind to his agents among us

Who chain us with the peaceful illusion.

Do not fear doubtful tongues;

The truth in your heart is stronger,

As long as you resist in a land

That has lived through raids and victory.

So Ali called from his grave:

Resist, my rebellious people.

Write me as prose on the agarwood;

My remains have you as a response.

Resist, my people, resist them.

Resist, my people, resist them.
This is an English translation of the work by Palestinian poet Dareen Tatour for which she was arrested by the Israeli government for alleged “incitement to violence,” jailed, and then placed under house arrest with no internet access. Her next hearing is on Monday. She faces a five-year prison sentence.

A petition to free Tatour organized by Jewish Voice for Peace and Adalah-NY has been signed by numerous Pulitzer and Guggenheim recipients.

In the US, the rightists in the Democratic Party are doing their best to support and conceal the crimes of the Israeli government.

True to form, though, the Republicans have managed to be worse.

Wednesday, July 13, 2016

Tuesday, July 12, 2016

Historical quotes of the day – Ours!

“Persian oil is yours. We share the oil of Iraq and Kuwait. As for Saudi Arabian oil, it’s ours.”
– FDR to Lord Halifax, 1944, quoted in Perry Anderson, American Foreign Policy and Its Thinkers, Chapter 5, note 9
“Abadan and Suez are important to the local peoples only in terms of their amour propre… To us, some of these things are important in a much more serious sense, and for reasons that today are sounder and better and more defensible than they ever were in history. To retain these facilities and positions we can use today only one thing: military strength, backed by the resolution and courage to use it.”
– George Kennan to Secretary of State Dean Acheson, 1952, quoted in Perry Anderson, American Foreign Policy and Its Thinkers, Chapter 5, note 10

Tuesday, June 28, 2016

Terrible dissent – for the record, “ethics” and “morality” aren’t synonyms for “religion”

The dissent by Justice Alito, joined by Thomas and Roberts, in Stormans v. Wiesman is disturbing for a number of reasons. It’s poorly argued, and simply wrong. The line drawn between this case and Church of Lukumi Babalu Aye v. Hialeah is based on truly weak reasoning. As Mark Joseph Stern suggests, the implications of the dissent are concerning: “If this unholy trinity ever managed to rewrite the First Amendment this way, they could effectively bar states from protecting women, gays, and other minorities from religious-based discrimination.”

Here’s the background:
Ralph’s Thriftway is a grocery store and pharmacy in Washington run by a religious family. It is not a church, or a church-affiliated nonprofit; it is a for-profit business, created and designed to make money for the Stormans. But the Stormans family are devout Christians who believe that Plan B is “tantamount to abortion” and thus refuse to stock it. For years, when customers came to the pharmacy seeking emergency contraception, the Stormans turned them away.

But in 2007, the Washington State Board of Pharmacy issued new regulations declaring that a pharmacy may not “refuse to deliver a drug or device to a patient because its owner objects to delivery on religious, moral, or other personal grounds.” Quite reasonably, the board felt Washington pharmacies should not be permitted to deny patients safe, legal drugs—which was a growing problem within the state: In addition to Plan B, religious pharmacists had refused to give patients diabetic syringes, insulin, HIV-related medications, and Valium. That, the board decided, was unacceptable. Pharmacists have every right to believe whatever they wish, but when those beliefs are manifested in the form of brazen discrimination against customers, they cannot be sanctioned by the law. In 2015, the 9th U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals affirmed the constitutionality of Washington’s regulation.
The most shocking aspect of the dissent, in my view, was its complete conflation of ethics and morality with religion. (To be perfectly clear, when I’m discussing ethics and morality here I mean the spheres or categories.) The dissent’s argument is based on the assumption that these categories are essentially synonymous. Alito argues that the regulations and the ruling effectively discriminate against religion (and intentionally so) because they allow for “secular” exceptions in which a pharmacy doesn’t have to stock or dispense certain drugs or devices but expressly disallow religious ones. He repeats and highlights the words “moral” and “moral beliefs” throughout the dissent as though they supported his contention that “the regulations…are improperly designed to stamp out religious objectors” (p. 9):
As Steven Saxe, the Board’s executive director, explained at the time: “‘[T]he public, legislators and governor are telling us loud and clear that they expect the rule to protect the public from unwanted intervention based on the moral beliefs . . . of a pharmacist.’” Ibid. “‘[T]he moral issue IS the basis of the concern.’” Ibid. Saxe, a primary drafter of the regulations, recognized that the task was “‘to draft language to allow facilitating a referral for only these non-moral or non-religious reasons.’” Ibid. He suggested that making an express “‘statement that does not allow a pharmacist/pharmacy the right to refuse for moral or religious judgment’” might be a “‘clearer’” way to “‘leave intact the ability to decline to dispense . . . for most legitimate examples raised; clinical, fraud, business, skill, etc.’” Ibid. And in the end, that is what the Board did. While the regulations themselves do not expressly single out religiously motivated referrals, the Board’s guidance accompanying the regulations does: “The rule,” it warns, “does not allow a pharmacy to refer a patient to another pharmacy to avoid filling the prescription due to moral or ethical objections.” SER 1248 (emphasis added). (p. 4)
Note especially this last quote. The regulations, he acknowledges, don’t single out religious judgments, but disallow refusals based on “moral or ethical objections.” Here Alito is either trying to convince the reader that “moral or ethical” are equivalent to “religious” or expressing this as his own belief. Indeed, Alito states that “While requiring pharmacies to dispense all prescription medications for which there is demand, the regulations contain broad secular exceptions but none relating to religious or moral objections.” He quotes the District Court’s findings that “the rules exempt pharmacies and pharmacists from stocking and delivering lawfully prescribed drugs for an almost unlimited variety of secular reasons [sic], but fail to provide exemptions for reasons of conscience.” Secular here is set in opposition – both by Alito and by the District Court - not only to religious but to moral and to reasons of conscience.

This distinction between religious/moral/ethical and secular is of course absurd, and I assume thousands of Philosophy departments would have something say about it. Alito provides a few of the accepted “secular” reasons for exceptions to the regulations – related to financial or equipment-related issues, suspicions of fraud, nonpayment, and so forth. I don’t think anywhere in the dissent does he offer a single example of a non-religious objection that would be considered a matter of ethics, morality, or personal beliefs. I can provide one easily: I don’t believe psychiatric drugs (or at least the vast majority) should be dispensed to children. The evidence shows that the biopsychiatric diagnosis of children is quackery, the drugs themselves are often highly harmful and dangerous, and children aren’t able to give informed consent or to refuse. I see the psychiatric drugging of children as a form of abuse, if often an unintentional one.

So if I were a pharmacist, I think it would be unethical for me to dispense them for children. This judgment is based on evidence, and is in no way religious, but it certainly falls under the category of a moral or ethical objection or one based on my personal beliefs. And it would not be a justified exception to the Washington regulations. I could protest pharmacies that dispensed these drugs for children; I can fight for a general ban on their use on children; and, were I a pharmacist or owner of a pharmacy, I could resign or close up shop rather than dispense these drugs to children, as a form of civil disobedience that I would expect to have serious personal consequences. But what I would not expect is that my personal objections would be protected by law.

Moral or ethical refusals, those based on personal beliefs, are not constitutionally defensible justifications to refuse to stock or dispense legal and legally prescribed drugs or devices. This is true regardless of whether that moral objection is purely religious, not at all religious, or any combination thereof. In one sense, the invocation of religion by Alito (it probably needed to be mentioned explicitly in the regulations since the vast majority of, if not all, refusals – including that at issue in this case – were made explicitly on the basis of religious faith, and because religious judgments are often disingenuously claimed as medically or sociologically grounded) is a red herring. A business can’t refuse to provide a legal service on these grounds whether that refusal is religiously inspired or not.

But the staggering aspect of this dissent is its attempt to seamlessly join religion to ethics and morality as the basis for the argument that the regulations discriminate against religion and thus run afoul of the First Amendment. The irony is that the dissent itself raises First Amendment issues. That Supreme Court justices could present arguments so unsound is more than disappointing; the assumptions underlying their argument speak to a religious bias among these men that is itself arguably anti-constitutional. The inability or refusal of Supreme Court judges even to recognize the existence of secular ethics and their readiness to equate morality and religion are astonishing, and could amount to a state recognition of religion.

Thursday, June 16, 2016

Quote of the day – “The enemy stands on the Right”

“There stands the enemy (to the right), who drips his poison in the wounds of the people – There stands the enemy – and about that there is no doubt: the enemy stands on the Right!”
These are the concluding words of an impassioned speech by Joseph Wirth in the German Reichstag in the aftermath of the murder of Walter Rathenau by an organization of nationalist thugs in 1922.* According to Wikipedia:
Rathenau’s assassination was but one in a series of terrorist attacks by Organisation Consul. Most notable among them had been the assassination of former finance minister Matthias Erzberger in August 1921. While Fischer and Kern prepared their plot, former chancellor Philipp Scheidemann barely survived an attempt on his life by Organisation Consul assassins on 4 June 1922. Historian Martin Sabrow points to Hermann Ehrhardt, the undisputed leader of the Organisation Consul, as the one who ordered the murders. Ehrhardt and his men believed that Rathenau’s death would bring down the government and prompt the Left to act against the Weimar Republic, thereby provoking civil war, in which the Organisation Consul would be called on for help by the Reichswehr. After an anticipated victory Ehrhardt hoped to establish an authoritarian regime or a military dictatorship. In order not to be completely delegitimized by the murder of Rathenau, Ehrhardt carefully saw to it that no connections between him and the assassins could be detected. Although Fischer and Kern connected with the Berlin chapter of the Organisation Consul to use its resources, they mainly acted on their own in planning and carrying out the assassination.

The terrorists’ aims were not achieved, however, and civil war did not come. Instead, millions of Germans gathered on the streets to express their grief and to demonstrate against counter-revolutionary terrorism….

…Initially, the reactions to Rathenau’s assassination strengthened the Weimar Republic. The most notable reaction was the enactment of the Republikschutzgesetz (Law for the Defense of the Republic), which took effect on 22 July 1922. As long as the Weimar Republic existed, the date 24 June remained a day of public commemorations. In public memory, Rathenau’s death increasingly appeared to be a martyr-like sacrifice for democracy.

Things changed with the Nazi seizure of power in 1933. The Nazis systematically wiped out public commemoration of Rathenau by destroying monuments to him, closing the Walther-Rathenau-Museum in his former mansion, and renaming streets and schools dedicated to him. Instead, a memorial plate to Kern and Fischer was solemnly unveiled at Saaleck Castle in July 1933 and in October 1933, a monument was erected on the assassins’ grave.
* Quoted in Eric P. Weitz, Weimar Germany: Promise and Tragedy, 2007, p. 100.

Friday, June 10, 2016

Quote of the day – on arguing with bigots

“Do not think that antisemites are completely unaware of the absurdity of these answers. They know that their statements are empty and contestable; but it amuses them to make such statements: it is their adversary whose duty it is to choose his words seriously because he believes in words. They have a right to play. They even like to play with speech because while putting forth ridiculous reasons, they discredit the seriousness of their interlocutor; they are enchanted with their unfairness because for them it is not a question of persuading by good argument but of intimidating or disorienting. If you insist too much, they close up, they point out with one superb word that the time to argue has passed. Not that they are afraid of being convinced: their only fear is that they will look ridiculous or that their embarrassment will make a bad impression on a third party whom they want to get on their side. Thus if the antisemite is impervious, as everyone has been able to observe, to reason and experience, it is not because his conviction is so strong, but rather his conviction is strong because he has chosen to be impervious.”
- Jean-Paul Sartre, “Portrait of the Anti-Semite”

Thursday, June 9, 2016

“Put Your Hands Up”

Quote of the day – interests and truth

“There are always groups whose interest is furthered by truth, and their representatives have been the pioneers of human thought; there are other groups whose interests are furthered by concealing truth. Only in the latter case does interest prove harmful to the cause of truth. The problem, therefore, is not that there is an interest at stake, but which kind of interest is at stake.”
– Erich Fromm, Escape from Freedom, p. 248

Saturday, June 4, 2016

Monday, May 30, 2016

Quote of the day – Trump reality vs. Trump illusion

“Although Donald’s business career is marked by early successes overshadowed by later, repeated failures, flirtations with personal bankruptcy, sequential corporate bankruptcies, the squandering of billions of dollars, and the safety cushion of a multimillion-dollar inheritance from his wealthy father, he is prime-time TV’s most sought-after and enchanting guru for aspiring entrepreneurs. Donald is the country’s premier embodiment of the self-made man.” – Timothy L. O’Brien, TrumpNation: The Art of Being the Donald (2005)
I highly recommend Chapter 8, “TrumpSpin,” to members of the media.

Thursday, May 26, 2016

Quote of the day - The City without Jews

“A human wall encircled the beautiful, calm, and noble parliament building. The wall extended from the city’s university and went all the way up to the Bellaria. This one morning in June at 10 o’clock, it seemed that the whole of Vienna had gathered to witness a historical event of unprecedented magnitude…. And again and again, an excited one would step forward and address the audience around him; and again and again, the same call could be heard:

‘Out with the Jews!’

…Suddenly, the masses cried out with one voice:

‘Let’s cheer for Dr. Karl Schwertfeger: hip, hip, hooray! Long live the liberator of Austria!’

…‘You’ll immediately hear what will happen. Our chancellor Dr. Karl Schwertfeger will explain meticulously the “Deportation of all Non-Aryan People from Austria Act’…

…‘Ladies and Gentlemen! I am here to introduce an act and an amendment to the constitution which together will do nothing less than to enforce the deportation of the non-Aryan, Jewish population of Austria.

…Throughout my five years as party leader, the so called liberal press and the social democratic press alike, or, in other words, all the newspapers published by Jews have tried to make me look like some sort of boogeyman. They portrayed me as an angry anti-Semite and as a fanatic hater of Judaism and the Jews. Today, now that the power of the press has come to an irrevocable end, I feel the urge to declare that all of this talk is nonsense. Oh, yes, I’m brave enough today to stand here on this very platform and to declare that I’m a friend of the Jews rather than their enemy!

…Yes, Ladies and Gentlemen, I cherish the Jews. …I am prepared to admire the down-to-earth Jewish virtues, their extraordinary intelligence, their efforts to climb the social ladder, their exemplary sense of family, their internationality, and their ability to adapt to any milieu!

…Nonetheless, that’s exactly the reason why, with time, I came to believe that we, the non-Jews, can no longer live amongst and with the Jews. It’s either hook or crook. We have to either lose our Christian ways, our very essence, or renounce the Jews.

…They’ve taken control over our economy, our spiritual and our cultural life.

…And now that we hold the power in our hands, we’d be fools, no, our own enemies and the enemies of our children if we did not make use of this power and drive away the small minority that is destroying us. This has nothing to do with catchphrases and slogans such as “humanity,” “justice,” and “tolerance,” but with our mere existence, our very lives, and the lives of future generations!’

…And 10.000 throats answered from the street: ‘Out with the Jews!’

Dr. Schwertfeger let the excitement fade out, received handshakes from his fellow ministers, and then started talking about how the law would be implemented. One would proceed with utmost care and fairness and in accordance with the demands of humanity and the terms of the League of Nations….” - Hugo Bettauer, The City without Jews (1922)
The City without Jews is a satirical work describing the unforeseen consequences of the deportation of Jewish people from Austria. It’s not a great work of literature but it is a short, lively story with some darkly funny moments.* That it was written as political satire with no knowledge of what was to happen in Austria or to the author himself and the comedic treatment of the situation and the leading anti-Semites (allegedly based on real political figures) make it a difficult book to read. Its prescient details – the greeting “Heil!” gains popularity after the deportations, for example – leave a knot in your throat.

In an interesting coincidence, two of the characters who are government representatives are Secretary of the Treasury Trumm and Privy Councilor Tumpel, who argues shortly after the expulsion that “the Indogermanic naivety of our people ventures out again!”

In 1925, following open calls for his death in Austrian Nazi publications and the release of the Expressionist film based on the popular book, Bettauer was murdered by a young Nazi named Otto Rothstock. Pleading insanity, Rothstock was sent to a psychiatric institution, from which he was released within months.

* I’ve read some reviews suggesting that Bettauer at times falls into anti-Semitic stereotypes, but I believe they’re missing the point. As a satirist Bettauer – a Jewish man who converted to Evangelicalism in his late teens, possibly to try for a career in the Austrian military – was likely using and exaggerating these stereotypes for comedic and critical effect. This would seem to be confirmed by the stereotypes of Austrian Christians, who often state themselves that they have to expel the smart and adaptable Jews for whom, in their honest simplicity, they’re no match. Some of the funniest moments are in the descriptions of Vienna in the months and years after the Jews have been deported – style, glamour, and sophistication gone; the city giving way to “ruralization”; women wearing dirndl skirts (“which, indeed, look very nice when worn in the open country. Here, they looked like a bad joke or caricature”); cultural establishments turned into beer halls; businesses going to pot; and so on. I think what Bettauer is trying to do is to show how the anti-Semitic stereotypes implied a contrasting, and amusingly stereotypical, picture of non-Jewish Austrians.