July 24, 2017

The Green Party craps its national pants (updated)

Friend Brains has promised something on this year's national convention of the Green Party, but I've already seen enough to post something now.

We've actually had two different but, with exquisite timing, somewhat intersectional (I see what I did there) pants-crappings.

The first is over the ongoing role and powers of AccommoGreen-in-Chief David Cobb. That, in turn, has gotten tied up with Counterpunch giving him repeated paddlings over his willingness to partner up or whatever with Caitlin Johnstone, 9/11 truther, alt-right fellow traveler and other things.

Joshua Frank has led the recent charge against both of them at Counterpunch. It was a follow-up to this one by Yoav Litman.

I blame Cobb to a fair degree for the relative poverty of Jill Stein's showing last November. Yes, the Libertarian Party nationally is more popular, relatively, than the Greens. But, Stein shouldn't have finished with just one-third the vote of addled pseudo-Libertarian Gary Johnson.

I blame him to some degree for her open endorsement of Bernie Sanders in the California Democratic primary, followed by her offer to step aside for him as the Green presidential nominee — an offer she then claimed wasn't exactly that. Both of these actions were WAY outside the bounds of the Green Party acting as an independent political party. That said, for AccommoGreens like Cobb, being an independent third party trails behind being a social movement that will hopefully nudge Democrats a step or so left.

(Oh, and yes, on Johnstone. Frank's got links documenting both that she's an alt-right fellow traveler, even if only tangentially, and worse yet from my POV, a 9/11 truther. That said, the Green Party has more of those than it does antivaxxers, from what I can tell.)

Per this Counterpunch analysis of some video statements of hers ... erm, wow. No, not the deepest thinker. Yes, Caitlin, Mike Cernovich is going to pay attention to you when you tell him on Facebook he's "not doing something good."

(And, given her willingness to work with the alt-right, and by name, Cernovich? Let's note that this memo by former NSC staffer Rich Higgins now blowing up the Net is filled with not just Steve Bannon versions of nationalism, but directly attacks social justice ideas AND plays with anti-Semitic tropes. And, it's linked to Cernovich. And, she's probably having an orgasm over it because it mentions "deep state.")

Frank et al were wrong, though, IMO, not to let Cobb/Johnstone have one shot to respond on-site rather than elsewhere. Let them have their one best shot before cutting them off.

As for the latest pro-Johnstone flak? Any "lies on Syria" she is calling out are lies by Democrats or national media. No halfway informed Green believes these things, or did when they happened.

Brains and David Bruce Collins both also have pieces about this portion of Greens' national meltdown. DBC goes full defensive on not only Cobb (acceptable, though I disagree) but also on Johnstone. I also didn't think Kevin Zeese, in his Counterpunch stuff, was THAT harsh on Cobb or Stein. Much more on Zeese below, as it ties to national convention issues. Brains, who has been tracking my direction more and more on Johnstone, still defends Cobb more than I will, and thinks I'm too harsh on Stein.

But, I think I have a legit stance. Stein's recount late last year WAS partisan, done only in states Clinton lost, trying to help her only. Stein — and her campaign manager Cobb — lied about that at the time (along with lying about related issues), lied about it afterward, and lie about it to this day, including lying about it being a private Stein recount, not an official Green Party one, which leaves them with a private donor list they could try to sell back to the party — or to a Berniecrat third-party or to Democratic "Socialists" of America. It's part of both of them being AccommoGreens.

OTOH, Counterpunch publisher Jeff St. Clair still has a quasi-hatred of the GP, I think. He's still butt-hurt over Ralph Nader not being renominated in 2004.

Two things happened after Nader's relatively successful 2000 campaign.

One is that the GP decided it wanted to run a "safe states" strategy in 2004. I halfway disagreed then and totally disagree now. But, it was a party decision, just like British Labour decided to oppose Brexit, only to see Jeremy Corbin mumble in his beard. (That's one reason I remain less than a total fan of Corbin.)

The other was that, in line with post-2000 actual and potential growth, the GP decided to go to a formal caucus and convention presidential nominating process. Yes, some state GPs (are you listening in Ohio, Bob Fitrakis? and whoever should be in California?) were then, and are still today, the equivalent of British parliamentary rotten boroughs or pocket boroughs from 200 years ago.

No matter. It was an organizational step forward.

And Nader wouldn't personally jump through the hoops.

Anyway, that's why 2004 GP presidential nominee David Cobb will never be allowed to write an article in Counterpunch. And, while I'm at it, Jeff, I'll take ANYTHING you personally say about either the GP or Nader with at least two grains of salt until you get more honest about this.

On the third hand, Peter Camejo, whether or not he was a Nader cut-out, won the Green primaries in 2004. Clearly won them. (I know who Carol Miller is, the co-author of the piece, and lived in New Mexico when she ran for Congress. I think she has a generally accurate take on the issues at hand.)

And yet, Cobb got nominated. Why? Because the Green Party's "organization" still kept those rotten boroughs in place, which is what the state nominating conventions were in many cases. And, it let "insta-Greens," or something equivalent, vote in convention when coming from those states.

This is — as a sidebar — why I have problems with Greens' "decentralization" among its Ten Key Values. Because, per it, the likes of a Fitrakis can push a "rotten borough" state party forward, and, if it doesn't have a primary, run it like a little fiefdom.

On the fourth hand, if you will, St. Clair also ignores Nader's defense funds in 2000, like Stein's in 2012 and 2016, holding oil and defense stock portfolios.

On the fifth hand, in his response, Cobb was too stupid to separate himself from Johnstone. So, he kind of deserves to get crapped on.

===

That said, that first pants-crapping didn't actually happen at the convention.

What did, but what got tied up with the first, was no African-Americans getting elected to the party's national steering committee. (DBC's link above partially covers this as well; Brains just deals with the pants-crapping above.)

Yes, the GP is largely white — not as white as the GOP but more white than the Democrats.

Here's a take by a black member of the Louisiana Green Party who was at the national meeting. Sounds simple, right? Blacks were shut out and the party has a long way to go. After all, that's part of what happened at the Texas state convention, discussed by me in this post, and it also seems a sidebar issue per KPFA radio in Houston, per Brains, with his initial discussion at this post, and follow-up at this one.

Not so fast, says Bruce Dixon.

Bruce, the editor of the Black Agenda Report, has several problems with this spin.

First, he sees at least a small degree of tokenism.

Next, Dixon said neither the candidates themselves nor the Green's Black Caucus (of which the Louisianan above is a member) campaigned enough.

Third, he notes that Greens need to reach outside traditional black bases where most black Democrats come from. He rightly, as Greens are generally more "frou-frou" religiously (setting aside the secularists) than Democrats, let alone black Americans of any party, notes that the black church is definitely NOT a place to look.

Yes, this makes it harder. Bernie Sanders found that out within the Democrats; that's a primary reason he, a secular Jew, didn't get more black votes.

But, admitting it's difficult doesn't erase away reality.

Next, Dixon notes that the Greens are not a dues-paying party, and wonders how deep of roots some of the black steering committee candidates have or had. (Dixon, along with 2016 Green VP Ajamu Baraka, are big pushers of the dues-paying model.)

The New York Green Party having trouble with Democrat and even Republican state judicial candidates trying to run under the Green banner shows that the idea of "insta-Greens" is actually true, at least in some cases.

Finally, Bruce, as a member of the Georgia GP, has had a run-in or two with race issues there already. He's not blind on that issue. But, he's right on this:
There absolutely should be a black caucus in the Green party. But caucuses shouldn’t get automatic votes on the national committee or the steering committee. Those bodies should be elected by state parties instead of being anti-democratic phantom organizations responsible to nobody in particular. … 
 Liberalism offers easy answers to the problem of recruiting token blacks to leadership. But the black leaders you get that way are opportunists, who can only win followings by deception, by manipulation of the unwary and by the laziness or inattention of others responsible for the institution and the mission of the party. That mission is to struggle for power, and to build a movement of movements against capitalism, patriarchy, white supremacy and endless war. There are no shortcuts.
There you are.

I don't know if Dixon is right, re the first paragraph of the pull quote and earlier up in his piece, about the black steering committee candidates being newbie Greens. But, it's possible. And, even if not, that doesn't negate his other worries.

The intersectionality? Or simply the good old-fashioned intersecting? Here, per Zeese. Andrea Mérida Cuéllar, a Colorado Green who's battled racism in the national party, got used by Cobb and Stein as a pawn in the steering committee battle. Well, not totally a pawn. It was Cuéllar who led objections to no blacks being elected. After that, she became a tool in the Cobb-Stein fire, more than a pawn.

Other Greens are shocked over Dixon's "white liberal guilt." There, I agree more than I disagree, and I note that left-liberals to leftists both black (Adolph Reed) and white (Doug Henwood) have talked about this in detail for years.)

Hey, white liberal greens? I think there's something to this. And, it's OK to drop your own attachment to it, to purity test ideas behind it and more.

I don't totally agree with Dixon, Reed or Henwood about this; even less do I agree with their claims that racism always reduces to classism. Henwood disliked my specific counterexamples, and follow-up. enough that he blocked me on Twitter.

But, a certain amount of the time, a specific race issue DOES reduce to class. Other times, like with Jim Crow in the South, it doesn't do so, but class can still in a case like that exacerbate and extend the racism.

For more on this issue, and the possible "tokenism" of which Dixon hints, I suggest some Greens (and some SJWs) need to read up on Frantz Fanon. More on Fanon at this blog post of mine.

DBC, from what I can tell, disagrees with all of this and takes pretty much a straight-up "this is racism" stance. Sorry, David; gotta disagree.

Now, about a related issue: Privilege.

Do I deny it exists? No.

Is it always race-based, though? No.

It's sometimes class-based. Or sex-based. Or sexual orientation based. Or religion-based (versus atheists).

Barack Obama, a rich African-American with enough money from his grandparents to go to a private high school, then Occidental College before Harvard, has more privilege than I do.

===

Overall, I'm with Bruce more than I'm against him. I've seen some of this myself. But, from my bits and pieces so far of investigating left alternatives, I don't think the situation is any better at the Socialist Party USA. At least on this particular issue. But 2016 SPUSA presidential candidate Mimi Soltysik promised the party would get better on GMOs.

Besides Green and Green-leaning 9/11 Truthers, I've seen other Greens who continue to insist Stein's recounts last year were totally non-partisan and neutral, rather than designed to help Hillary Clinton. And, again, who was her recount manager as well as her campaign manager?

David Cobb.

David Fricking Cobb. (And, per Zeese's link, had a Democratic lawyer, John Bonifaz, help with recount issues.)

At least the SPUSA doesn't have AccommoSocialists. Those would be ... Berniecrats at best, who are enough of a plague on the Green Party.

This first pants-crapping has been a long time coming. Setting aside the St. Clair animus, the Green Party needs to be the Green Party, not a Green equivalent of the Democratic Socialists of America.

I've made bits of noise here before about how I've done more looking at the Socialist Party USA, and did a bit of deliberation about pulling its write-in trigger for president last year.

I'll go further now and stipulate that not only will I not vote for Stein in 2020 if Greens nominate her for a third term, but I won't vote for any GP presidential candidate who uses Cobb as campaign manager.

Finally, at The North Star, somebody totally gets it!

The Green Party US, as in the national party, is nothing more than another state party. That's why the GP has disorganization, not decentralization, with state parties acting like the equivalent of British parliamentary rotten and pocket boroughs of 200 years ago.

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