Robert Meeropol





Robby, Abel, Michael and trains








my perennial chaos

"Robby & Elli" 1968


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Robby speaking at the re-launch of the Mary Pitawanakwat Fund in Toronto

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STILL OUT ON A LIMB

Hillary Clinton; Women and Children’s Rights

April 4, 2016

Tags: Hillary Clinton, Women's Rights, Children's Rights

When talking Sanders verses Clinton I’ve argued “Clinton is a corporate democrat who stands for nothing progressive.” Some have responded, “she stands for women and children’s rights.” I’ve accepted that, but upon further thought, that is, at best, only partially true.

Clinton hasn’t championed poor women and children’s rights. In recent decades, nothing has hurt poor women and children more than President Bill Clinton’s 1990’s “welfare reform” which Hillary supported. Hillary Clinton’s connection to Marian Wright Edelman’s Children’s Defense Fund is often cited as proof of her advocacy for children’s rights, but Edelman and Clinton parted ways over this “reform.” Moreover, Hillary’s support for the war on drugs has resulted in mass imprisonement that has devastated poor and minority communities including women and children.

Clinton’s promotion of huge bombing campaigns from Serbia, to Afghanistan, to Libya is no boon for women and children either. Once again, women and children suffer disproportionately from what is politely termed collateral damage. She also embraced over a decade of economic sanctions against Iraq that international human rights organizations report led to the malnurishment of hundreds of thousands of children. War is incompatible with women and children’s rights, yet Clinton is a hawk.

True, she has supported Obamacare, abortion rights, equal pay for women and educational initiatives. While all of these have some positive impact, there is either an elitist or corporate tinge to the policies she advocates. Obamacare, like the plan Hillary pushed in the early 1990’s, while better than nothing, is a convoluted system designed to benefit insurance companies. It has not even suceeded in cutting the number of uninsured in half. It’s most affordable “Bronze Plan,” has high co-pays that poor people have trouble paying. And once again, it is the poorest segment of society, over representated by women and children, who remain uninsured.

Hillary’s espousal of equal pay for women has focused on ensuring that professional women make as much as professional men and enabling women to shatter the glass ceiling that keeps them from ascending to the most powerful corporate positions. This kind of elite feminism only changes who wields corporate power. It does not lessen big businesses’ domination of budgetary priorities and control of the body politic.

Her backing of abortion rights effects women of all classes, but again, in the 1990’s she did not object to her husband’s willingness to cut federal funding giving equal access to abortion to poor women. As a member of the Obama administration she was fully behind massive standardized testing and charter schools, at the expense of the public school system. She has vocally supported the educational rights of girls in Afghanistan and Pakistan, but kept silent about the status of women and girls in Saudi Arabia. Apparently, our need for oil drowns her feminism.

We can argue about whether Hillary Clinton stands for women and children’s rights, but there is no question that there is little, if anything, progressive about how she goes about it.

Clinton Over Republicans?

February 3, 2016

Tags: Hillary Clinton, Noam Chomsky, strategic voting

In last week’s blog I explained why I agreed with the following quote: “It is easy to focus our ire and ridicule on those we call ‘climate deniers.’ But the worst climate change deniers are not the ones who say it is not happening, but the ones who recognize the problem but refuse to confront its most basic sources and causes.” The author was referring to the empty promises and false green capitalist solutions of the Paris Climate Conference. In that blog, I wrote that the proponents of this path “in the guise of saving us … will make things worse.”

Last week Noam Chomsky said in an interview that what Republican presidential candidates “are saying is, let’s destroy the world. Is that worth voting against? Yeah.” He explained further that he always counseled strategic voting, and so if Hillary Clinton won the Democratic nomination and if he lived in a swing state, he’d vote for Hillary Clinton to defeat the Republican.

If Chomsky is correct, then the quote in the first paragraph is wrong.

The Republican candidates are climate change deniers. And Hillary Clinton is firmly in the camp of the worst climate change deniers, the ones who recognize the problem but refuse to confront its most basic sources and causes. If elected, she will continue Obama’s “all the above” policies that encourage renewable energy within the capitalist framework, while expanding off shore drilling rights, continuing the oil depletion allowance which gives massive tax breaks to the big oil corporations for extracting oil, protecting nuclear power, and opposing infrastructure projects like the XL pipeline only when it is politically expedient.

These policies will bring about the disasters that Chomsky correctly predicts will “doom our grandchildren.” Perhaps Clinton’s willingness to promote renewable alternatives will delay that doom a bit, but if her policies lull segments of the population into thinking that the government is addressing the problem, they will also serve to co-opt and weaken portions of the movement to prevent the growing climate chaos.

I call myself a radical environmentalist because I believe that we cannot prevent civilization-ending catastrophes without eliminating capitalism’s Grow-or-Die imperative, and its reliance on competition, consumption and military domination. I support Bernie Sanders because, although he has not jettisoned these ideologies, his “socialism” can undermine them.

If Clinton is nominated, I will vote for the Green Party candidate because Clinton will doom my grandchildren as surely as the Republicans. With Clinton’s election we would lose more than four precious years. We will be confronted with the same choice in 2020 when she runs for re-election, and beyond, as long as the major party duopoly persists without either a mass popular uprising or true electoral alternatives.

The global warming-induced climate chaos and consequent resource depletion that Naomi Klein wrote, “changes everything,” has begun. I believe that Klein is right, but that many progressive tacticians, even those as brilliant as Chomsky, remain stuck in decades-old strategic voting schemes. All of us must fully incorporate into our thinking, and our voting behavior, that everything really has changed.

Is Joe Biden Corporate Plan B?

October 15, 2015

Tags: Bernie Sanders, Hillary Clinton, Joe Biden

The mainstream media is flush with stories that it is decision time for Joe Biden. Will he enter the race for President?

I don’t watch as much network news and political talking-head television as I used to; it’s too repetitious, scandal and poll-focused. But I’ve watched enough in the last couple of weeks to note the media spin on Biden’s indecision. Without exception, pundits frame the question in terms of its impact on Clinton’s chances. They conclude Biden is more likely to enter the fray if Clinton is stumbling and that, personal reasons aside, he is less likely to run if her lead is robust.

Despite the pundits’ obsession with the polls, and polling evidence that Biden’s entry would significantly decrease Clinton’s lead over Sanders, their analysis still ignores Sanders. Biden’s positions aren’t very different from Clinton’s. He’s a Senator from the corporation-friendly state of Delaware and is a foreign-policy hawk, particularly when it comes to confronting Russia in Ukraine. If Biden enters the race and mounts a vigorous campaign he and Clinton might split the corporate-oriented Democratic vote.

In other words, Biden’s immediate entry into the race could substantially boost Sanders’ chances of winning the nomination. I haven’t heard this opinion on air. Could the mainstream media be ignoring it to prevent viewers from considering the possibility? Is this part of promoting the “Bernie Can’t win” theme to discourage people from voting for him?

Voting for Sanders in the Massachusetts Presidential Primary next spring feels like a no-brainer. Until recently however, I was almost certain he would lose the nomination to Clinton. I’ve wondered if, in that case, my Sanders-supporting friends and neighbors will hold their noses and vote for a war-mongering, environmental disaster (Clinton) in the general election, even if doing so brings us closer to signing our grandchildren’s death warrants.

Two things have changed my thinking. The first is that Sanders has done better than expected, although perhaps not well enough to secure the nomination in a two-way race. Throwing Biden into the mix adds a crucial ingredient. If Biden and Clinton split the votes of their overlapping constituencies, Sanders could actually win the nomination.

If my analysis is correct, powerful corporate insiders would rather Biden remain on the sidelines for now. They want him available to step in at the convention as the “compromise” candidate, if Sanders manages to catch Clinton. For that reason, I predict that Biden will decide not to run at this time. And I predict he will be held in reserve as plan B in the hope that a corporation-friendly candidate will be the Democratic Party nominee, even if it isn’t Hillary Clinton.

PS I wrote the above before the debate. The corporate media’s effort to cover-up Bernie’s victory is further evidence of what I wrote.

But the Republicans Are Worse

April 24, 2015

Tags: Hillary Clinton

I few days ago I read a piece on a progressive list-serve that postulated Hillary Clinton’s “coronation” would be a disaster because it would pave the way for a “Scott Walker presidency.” I didn’t read much of it because I’m more concerned about the environmental consequences of a Clinton victory. I also saw a poll a few days ago that indicated 69% of democrats want Clinton to be the Democratic Party’s candidate. A lot can happen between now the convention, but for now it seems likely that Hillary Clinton will be the nominee despite progressive democrats’ wishes that someone like Elizabeth Warren or Bernie Sanders get the nod.

When I tell friends I won’t vote for Hillary, some agree, but more say they feel compelled to vote for her to keep a Republican out. When I respond that I won’t vote for her because I fear her environmental policies and war-mongering, they respond “but the Republicans are worse.”

This frustrates me because I feel it changes the subject. I object to Clinton’s positions and I hear about Republicans in return. This avoids discussing her positions and their consequences. Even the Warren or Sanders boosters want them to enter the race to counter Clinton’s coziness with Wall Street, rather than because they are alarmed by her environmental and hawkish record.

I’m terrified of Clinton’s environmental policies and her military adventurism. Clinton’s history demonstrates that she’s an interventionist. She voted for the Iraq war, and insiders report that while Secretary of State she argued against Obama’s plans to withdraw from Iraq and Afghanistan. More recently she favored intervention in Syria, on Gaza she appears to be channeling Benjamin Netanyahu, and has been urging more military involvement in Iraq, and a more hostile policy towards Iran. Given that a large swath of the globe from Nigeria to Pakistan is aflame, a vote for Hillary is a vote for more American intervention. When it comes to foreign policy she is essentially a neoconservative.

Clinton’s environmental record is also poor. For instance, despite her recent silence, she supported the XL pipeline several year ago. According to USpolitics.about.com environmentalists don’t like her because, among other things, of “her ties to the [XL pipeline] project developer, her support of the pipeline and her apparent willingness to alienate more liberal members of the party who are concerned about the environment.” When she was Secretary of State her idea of combating climate change was to promote a world-wide fracking boom. Coupling this with the oft-overlooked fact that war is also a huge environmental disaster demonstrates why I feel a Clinton Presidency is a deadly step in the wrong direction.

So many of my liberal and even leftist friends won’t deal with this. If Clinton’s policies make devastating environmental destruction and increased warfare a near certainty, isn’t a vote for her the same as giving up on saving the coming generation from misery and death because she’s a little less evil? Does that make sense?

I’d welcome a counter argument that her policies aren’t really that bad, but if that is your position please show me some proof. I’d love to be wrong about this and I’m desperate to hear more than “but the Republicans are worse.”

Selected Works

Memoir
"Bravery is rare. Tyranny is commonplace. Both define the life of Robert Meeropol, son of Julius and Ethel Rosenberg. In his heart-wrenching, honest memoir, Meeropol recounts the emotional terrors of his childhood, the kindness of Abel and Anne Meeropol-who adopted him and his older brother after their parents' execution-his struggle to vindicate his parents, and his own political activism, culminating in the creation of the Rosenberg Fund for Children, which he now directs."
Publisher's Weekly
"one of those rare books everyone should read"
–Joyce Carol Oates

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