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History Blinded by Anti Socialism: Ken Burns’ Vietnam

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Shamus Cooke

This article was originally published on CounterPunch on October 12, 2017 It’s not surprising that an Americana-obsessed filmmaker botched a history of the Vietnam War. National pride doesn’t mesh with the Empire’s lost war. And though Ken Burns’ Vietnam is worth the watch for its footage alone, Vietnam war experts such as John Pilger and […]

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Police Unions vs. Black Lives

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Shamus Cooke

This article originally appeared on CounterPunch on October 6, 2017 In “progressive” Portland, Oregon the city’s police stand out as political outliers. Whereas most of the city leans left the average cop is, unapologetically, on the far-right of the political spectrum. Portland’s rightwing cops mirror the politics of police across the country, reflected in the […]

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Protest Alone Won’t Stop Fascism: White Supremacists Have a Deeper Political Strategy

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Shamus Cooke

This article original appeared on CounterPunch on September 4, 2017 When news struck that anti-Muslim protests with ties to white supremacists cancelled rallies across the country — in response to the huge anti-fascist rally in Boston — a clear victory was celebrated by the Left. A further anti-fascist victory was won in San Francisco, where a giant […]

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Trump Versus the Venezuelan Revolution

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Shamus Cooke

This article originally appeared on CounterPunch on August 14, 2017. Trump’s threats against Venezuela escalated recently from the economic to the military: after announcing sanctions he threatened that all military options were “on the table.” Trump’s actions were perfectly timed to lend support to the U.S.-backed opposition in Venezuela, whose ongoing violent rebellion aims to […]

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Why Can’t the U.S. Left Get Venezuela Right?

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Shamus Cooke

As Venezuela’s fascist-minded oligarchy conspires with U.S. imperialism to overthrow the democratically elected government of Nicolas Maduro, few in the U.S. seem to care. Instead of denouncing rightwing violence that aims at regime change, many on the U.S. left have stayed silent, or opted to give an evenhanded analysis that supports neither the Maduro government […]

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Lessons from Portland’s Clash With Fascists

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Shamus Cooke

“Hey Hey Fascist Scum, You’re Outnumbered 10 to 1“ — chant at Portland’s June 4th counter-protest. Portland, Oregon has had its collective mind blown in recent weeks. A Nazi murdered two people on public transit and a week later, on June 4th, Portland police were “protecting and serving” a rally of 300+ “Alt-Right” white supremacists, […]

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The Trump “Resistance” is Slipping Through Our Fingers

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Shamus Cooke

Social movements are notoriously finicky. They can peter out quickly or grow into a transformative force. Their longevity is questionable, but eventually the establishment re-establishes its power or the social movement rebalances the political equilibrium; or smashes it altogether. Without optimal strategy movements tend to have short lives, and the pendulum swings in the other […]

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Will the “Alt-Right” Hijack the Antiwar Movement?

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Shamus Cooke

Millions marched against Trump for fear he’d cause devastation at home and abroad. This resistance movement still remains a powerful social force, and recently one of the movement’s biggest fears — a new war — was fully realized when Trump bombed the Syrian government and expanded the Middle East wars, at a time of immense […]

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Inauguration Day and Beyond

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Shamus Cooke

January 20th is set to be a historic day. It’s likely to be the biggest inauguration protest in world history, where millions of people will challenge the Trump regime in the streets. The following day will also be a national day of protest, where women’s marches are scheduled across the country. The Washington D.C. women’s march is expected […]

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Urgent Next Steps in the Anti-Trump Movement

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Shamus Cooke

Trump’s presidency takes gruesome shape with every vile appointee. Each choice signals an intent to follow through with sinister campaign promises, threatening every demographic of working people. His appointments are a hodgepodge of the right-wing fringe, the “loyalists” who endorsed Trump early because they had nothing to lose: their extremist, unhinged views made them irrelevant wing-nuts […]

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Can a Mass Movement Seize This Anti-Trump Moment?

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Shamus Cooke

Change is in the air. Millions of people in the U.S. woke up to the living nightmare of a Trump presidency. The threat and shock posed by Trump jolted hundreds of thousands off their couch and into the street. People of all ages now want to “do something,” joining protests nationwide that the Washington Post […]

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Stopping Hillary’s Coming War on Syria

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Shamus Cooke

With Hillary Clinton’s victory in the bag, there’s a growing fear that her presidency will begin with a bang: regime change in Syria. Clinton has said as much. Last year Reuters reported that “removing President Assad” would be Clinton’s “top priority.” This regime change sentiment was echoed more recently by her foreign policy advisor, Jeremy […]

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Can the Left Survive a Trump Presidency?

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Shamus Cooke

It’s easy to overestimate an adversary. Especially a billionaire who says scary, racist things. The disbelief triggered by Donald Trump’s candidacy exposed a mass crisis of confidence in the establishment, whose policies alienated the electorate, creating a Trump-sized political void. Trump seems strong because the establishment is so weak, and hated. Trump himself is a decades-old […]

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The Organized Left and the Death of “Pragmatic” Politics

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Shamus Cooke

Shifting political winds are battering the establishment, as the breeze flows to the back of the populists. The left-populist Bernie Sanders didn’t conjure the hurricane but adjusted his sails to it. As the political storm will grow apace with rising income inequality, new social attitudes are bringing fresh expectations, transforming politics as we know it. […]

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Have Unions Cheated Death With Scalia Gone?

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Shamus Cooke

Equality loving people breathed easier after Justice Scalia’s last breath. And labor activists partied like it was New Years Eve. Their would-be hangman dropped dead and unions gained a stay of execution. Scalia’s timely departure implies that the landmark union case “Friedrichs vs. California Teachers Association” will be a 4-4 stalemate, meaning the pro-labor status […]

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Can the Establishment Fix Its Bernie Sanders Problem?

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Shamus Cooke

The Democrats’ fight against Bernie is appearing futile. Like a python choking on an elephant, they’ve miscalculated. The Party elites underestimated their opponent, and with each new attack the snake swallows an extra inch, harming only itself. Establishment figureheads are taking turns ruining their reputation as they attempt to ruin Bernie’s. The U.S. ruling class as a whole […]

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The Labor Movement’s Pearl Harbor Moment

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Shamus Cooke

War can sneak up on you. And now unions are scrambling desperately for shelter, realizing they were in the crosshairs just as the Supreme Court was about to pull the trigger. After dreamily sleepwalking in denial, unions were shocked and awed awake by the Supreme Court’s hearing of “Friedrichs vs. California Teachers Association.” If unions lose […]

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It’s Not Too Late For Unions to Win Friedrichs

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Shamus Cooke

If the future of labor unions is in the hands of the Supreme Court, the outlook is bleak. Labor’s denial was shattered when Judge Alito signaled that the Court had the votes to decimate union membership nationwide. This specific attack aims at public sector unions, the last high-density stronghold of the labor movement. It also […]

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Does Bernie Sanders’ Imperialism Matter?

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Shamus Cooke

Critiquing Bernie Sanders from the left can be a lonely project. There is a “hope”-powered hysteria surrounding his campaign, and bursting the “hope” bubble can produce a fierce backlash. The Sanders “hope” explosion is so fierce because capitalism has become a hopeless place. Hope can be positive by pushing people into political action, but it’s also […]

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Obama’s “Safe Zone” in Syria will Inflame the War Zone

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Shamus Cooke

The road to war is paved with a thousand lies. A fresh fib was tossed on the lie-cluttered warpath to Syria, when it was announced that the U.S. and Turkey would create a “safe zone” inside of Syria — supposedly to be aimed against ISIS. This “safe zone” is a major escalation of war, but […]

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Unions Must Act Now to Survive Supreme Court Deathblow

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Shamus Cooke

Unions have a decision to make: organize or die. It’s that simple. These are the only two options now that the Supreme Court announced it would hear the case “Friedrichs v. California Teacher Association.” The court intends to take aim at the head of organized labor by ruling against the California Teachers Association, and in […]

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Syrian War Set to Re-Explode

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Shamus Cooke

The Syrian war stalemate appears to be over. The regional powers surrounding Syria — especially Saudi Arabia, Turkey, Qatar, and Jordan — have re-ignited their war against the Syrian government. After over 200,000 dead and millions of refugees, the U.S. allies in the region recently re-committed to deepening the war, with incalculable consequences. The new war […]

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Behind the Media’s Assault on Seymour Hersh

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Shamus Cooke

He’s the most respected journalist in U.S. history, and for decades Seymour Hersh has consistently broken major international stories, winning him the Pulitzer Prize among other prestigious awards of journalism. But the media establishment that once idealized him now seeks his destruction. Hersh is facing a coordinated attack from his former colleagues, each scrambling to […]

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How a $15 Minimum Helps All Workers

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Shamus Cooke

Giant corporations and the wealthy are naturally united in their hatred of the $15 minimum wage. Surprising, however, is the strong opposition sometimes encountered by workers who make barely above $15 an hour. The anti-$15 logic of these workers varies. Some simply repeat the misinformation they hear on the media, that a higher minimum wage […]

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A Paper Peace and Proxy War With Iran

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Shamus Cooke

Obama’s foreign policy is bound in a thousand knots, all threatening to unwind. At the same time that the U.S. is engaged in nuclear negotiations with Iran the two are fighting proxy wars against each other in Yemen and Syria. Which begs the question: are the nuclear talks with Iran really that meaningful, if war is […]

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Fight “Right to Work” in Oregon With “$15 and a Union”

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Shamus Cooke

In Oregon Democrats dominate all branches of politics. Yet the labor unions are still terrified. There is justifiable dread that anti-union “Right to Work” laws will be purchased into existence by out-of-state billionaires championing the laws around the country. This threat recently reared its head in Oregon, when anti-union groups announced that they are planning […]

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Who’s Scarier: Scott Walker or ‘Jihadi John’?

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Shamus Cooke

When Wisconsin Governor Scott Walker compared labor unions to ISIS, his audience cheered. At the end of the speech he got a standing ovation. His wealthy audience hated labor unions that much. In fact, the 1% despises unions much more than they hate ISIS. Islamic extremists in the Syrian desert pose no threat to anyone […]

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How Obama is Making the World More Dangerous

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Shamus Cooke

You’re not paranoid if you think the world feels more unstable — it is.  There’s a dangerous confluence of political, economic, and military phenomena that is producing a very hazardous international situation. Heightened national tensions that lead to regional confrontations have become normal as economic and political winds constantly shift in the direction of instability and […]

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Oregon Unions Rally for a $15 Minimum Wage

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Shamus Cooke

Hundreds rallied on January 24th at Oregon’s capitol building to demand a statewide $15 minimum wage. The rally marked the beginning of the statewide campaign, which has already earned support from Oregon’s labor movement and many community groups. The rally itself was organized by a coalition of labor and community groups, including $15 Now Oregon, the Oregon […]

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The Spectacular Media Failure on Charlie Hebdo

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Shamus Cooke

A core tenet of journalism is answering the question “why.” It’s the media’s duty to explain “why” an event happened so that readers will actually understand what they’re reading is actually all about. Leave out the “why” and then assumptions and stereotypes fill in the blank, always readily supplied by politicians whose ridiculous simplistic answers are left […]

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Le spectaculaire échec médiatique à propos de Charlie Hebdo

Shamus Cooke

A French translation of The Spectacular Media Failure on Charlie Hebdo, as published by Arrêt sur Info. L’une des ambitions essentielles du journalisme est de répondre à la question « pourquoi ». C’est le devoir des médias d’expliquer « pourquoi » un événement s’est produit, afin que le lecteur puisse réellement comprendre ce qu’il lit. Si l’on […]

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A New Push for Peace in Syria?

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Shamus Cooke

Why are there no serious peace talks to end the war in Syria? After robbing over 130,000 people of their lives, and evicting over 9 million refugees from their homes, the Syrian war has infected nearly every region of the Middle East. Yet among the U.S. and its regional allies there are no public discussions about a […]

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The Elections: Déjà Vu All Over Again

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Shamus Cooke

Eventually the tired game will exhaust itself. Beneath the billions of dollars, U.S. elections are lifeless events. The predictable flopping from Democrat to Republican and back again, with voters given no real choice but to punish the party in power — by electing the party that was punished previously. This endless, irrational dynamic is the […]

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Why Obama Rejected Peace With Iran

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Shamus Cooke

How did Obama manage to botch U.S. foreign policy so stunningly? The promising speeches he gave in 2008 earned him the Nobel Peace Prize. But his inspiring words have since been buried in the rubble of Libya, Palestine, Iraq, and Syria. The region that once viewed Obama as a peace messiah now rejects him as […]

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Can Hong Kong Trigger a Chinese Revolution?

Can Hong Kong Trigger a Chinese Revolution? Shamus Cooke October 7, 2014
Shamus Cooke

Power concedes nothing without a demand.  Frederick Douglass, 1857* A historic showdown is shaking Hong Kong’s core, between the Chinese government and the mass movement confronting it. The people demand the removal of the Beijing appointed Governor and insist that they vote on his replacement. The Chinese government has vowed zero concessions, creating an inevitable […]

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