Tag Archive: election 2008


Et Tu, Barack?

Awhile ago I posted on Hillary Clinton’s connections to Wal-Mart. The link to that post, and all the articles I mention, will be posted at the end of this discussion.

I concluded with: “Quite frankly, Hillary’s appeals to labor and claims to want to increase the American “middle class” are hollow, empty appeals towards an audience, the American labor force (not to mention Wal-Mart’s notorious international sweatshop labor force, local communities affected by Wal-Mart’s practices, etc), that Hillary seems perpetually intent on betraying. A vote for Hillary is a vote against the poor and the working class.”

At the time, I defended Obama, after Kucinich was systematically and undemocratically prevented by the powers-that-be from getting his message out. But a few things have come out that are changing my mind, and to be intellectually honest, I must post on Obama as well.

Obama, too, seems to have been co-opted by global capitalist class, if he had not been already. He claimed a desire to help the U.S. working class, and opposition to NAFTA. Let’s examine some important moves he’s made since becoming the nominee.

About his earlier aim to ‘renegotiate NAFTA’ . . .

Joe Nichols of “The Nation” reports the following:

“In her interview with the candidate, Fortune‘s Nina Easton reminded Obama that earlier this year he had called NAFTA “devastating” and “a big mistake” and suggested that he would use an opt-out clause in the trade agreement between the United States, Canada and Mexico to demand changes that would be more favorable to workers and farmers in all three countries.”

Obama’s taking a stand for the working class in Canada, Mexico, and the United States . . . committed to saving American jobs, ending foreign exploitation, gaining some democratic ground over the hegemonic dominance of international capital . . . oh, wait. Never mind. That would be the result if he had taken a stand. He actually said:

“Sometimes during campaigns the rhetoric gets overheated and amplified . . . politicians are always guilty of that, and I don’t exempt myself.” In short, he doesn’t mean it, New World Order. So rest peacefully.

In his Fortune Interview, he says:

“”There’s a reason why the business community in Chicago as a whole has been very supportive of me . . . they know I am a pro-growth guy, and I’m a pro-market guy. And I always have been. What I do get frustrated with is an economy that is out of balance, that rewards a very few – with rewards that are all out of proportion to their actual success – while ordinary, hardworking Americans continue to get squeezed. Over the last decade or so, this economy grew substantially, and more than half of the total growth was captured by the top 1%.”

Is the economy out of balance? Do the top 1% capture most of the results of growth? Absolutely; Obama is correct. Had Obama been sincere, he would realize that this is an inherent consequence of ‘free markets’ and the laws of the capitalist system itself, yet he remains a ‘pro-market guy’. I think that Obama is trying to appease business while simulaneously looking objective. For example:

He simultaneously says that part of the economic causes of this are that “with globalization and with global capital being able to move everywhere it wants . . . it has meant a winner-take-all environment.” This is true. Capital flight gives international capital a huge bargaining tool over governments unwilling to impose sanctions or invest in capital itself. But yet, he says: ”

“I still believe that the business of America is business . . . but what I also think is that with all that power and talent, and all those resources at their disposal, comes some responsibilities – to not game the system, to not oppose increased transparency in the marketplace, to not oppose fiscally prudent measures to balance our budget.”

How does Obama plan on imposing responsibility with so much of the game rigged as a consequence of Market operations alone? Exactly. Obama has turned face, given in. Strike one.

Perhaps he can be redeemed. Who are his economic advisors? They will both reflect his ideology, his aims, and color the options he sees for the future.

David Sirota of the Creators’ Syndicate reports:

“For every loud speech Obama has given about making sure trade pacts “are good not just for Wall Street, but also for Main Street,” he has made a quiet move reassuring Wall Street that Main Street will be ignored. Last week, for example, he named Jason Furman as his top economic adviser. Furman has spent the last few years defending Wal-Mart and working closely with Bob Rubin, the Citigroup chairman who championed NAFTA as Bill Clinton’s Treasury secretary.”

Furman, Wal-Mart defender and associate of a NAFTA champion?  Hmm . . .

Naomi Klein of “The Nation” further reports:

“Furman is one of Wal-Mart’s most prominent defenders, anointing the company a “progressive success story.” On the campaign trail, Obama blasted Clinton for sitting on the Wal-Mart board and pledged, “I won’t shop there.” For Furman, however, it’s Wal-Mart’s critics who are the real threat: the “efforts to get Wal-Mart to raise its wages and benefits” are creating “collateral damage” that is “way too enormous and damaging to working people and the economy more broadly for me to sit by idly and sing ‘Kum-Ba-Ya’ in the interests of progressive harmony.””  I won’t analyze that argument . . . it’s incoherent.  But besides Furman’s ridiculous, lie-filled, and callous attempt at defending Wal-Mart, it appears that Obama will, in fact, shop at Wal-Mart . . . but not for cheap-foreign-sweatshop-made goods, but for economic advisors.

In addition to Furman, “He chose as his chief economic adviser Austan Goolsbee, a University of Chicago economist on the left side of a spectrum that stops at the center-right. Goolsbee, unlike his more Friedmanite colleagues, sees inequality as a problem. His primary solution, however, is more education — a line you can also get from Alan Greenspan. In their hometown, Goolsbee has been eager to link Obama to the Chicago School. “If you look at his platform, at his advisers, at his temperament, the guy’s got a healthy respect for markets,” he told Chicago magazine. “It’s in the ethos of the [University of Chicago], which is something different from saying he is laissez-faire.””

Perhaps I should go into why no one supportive of the Chicago School of Economics should ever touch anything that affects human beings due to their irrationality, poor economics, and more importantly, complete and utter heartlessness and shameless classism . . . but I won’t for now.  What is more important is that Obama seems to be in bed with these people.

It appears that, until he shows otherwise, Obama seems committed to handing American domestic policy to the forces that oppress people in this country and abroad, betraying the working class and the suffering.  I suppose that his message of ‘change’ still can hold, perhaps: he simply doesn’t seem to want the changes that would actually help America, or its poor and suffering.

In the paraphrased words of Julius Caesar: Et tu Barack?

Hillary Clinton and Wal-Mart: https://practicalutopian.wordpress.com/2008/05/07/wal-mart-hilary-clinton-and-unions/

Sirota’s Article: “Obama’s Clearest Path to the Presidency: Talk About Wages” : http://www.alternet.org/story/88791/

Nichols’ Article: “Obama Goes Soft on Free Trade”: http://www.alternet.org/election08/88754/

The Fortune Interview: http://money.cnn.com/2008/06/20/magazines/fortune/easton_obama.fortune/?postversion=2008062308

Naomi Klein’s article: “What Does Obama’s ‘Love of Markets’ Mean for Our Economic Future?”:

http://www.alternet.org/election08/88093/

Hillary Clinton and the politics of race

Hillary’s landslide victory in West Virginia, along with some particularly interesting quotes on race from a USA Today interview, have made a connection between the former first lady and race perfectly clear.

Hillary won West Virginia by 41 points, where Obama had most difficulty attracting white, working class voters.  Exit polls showed that Obama had support in West Virginia from less than one quarter of the voters in that demographic.  Of the three fourths who voted for Clinton, 1 in 5 voters said that race was a factor in their decision.  In other words, 20% of 3/4 of the white working class in West Virginia voted for Hillary because she was white, and Obama is black.  That is, 15% voted Hillary because they were casting an anti-black vote.  How does she feel about being the official democrat for white, working class racists?

Last Wednesday, Clinton gave an interview to USA Today, arguing that she had a broader base of support than Obama.  Evidence?  She cited an Associated Press article published one day after the Indiana and North Carolina primaries that, in her own words, showed “”how Sen. Obama’s support among working, hard-working Americans, white Americans, is weakening again, and how whites in both states who had not completed college were supporting me.”  (http://www.usatoday.com/news/politics/election2008/2008-05-07-clintoninterview_N.htm)

Yup.  Clinton not only knows that she’s the official Democrat of the white, working class racist, but she embraces it.  Brags about it, even.  Notice her further lumping together “hard working Americans” with “white Americans.”

But, as she recently said after her West Virginia win,””I am more determined than ever to carry on this campaign until everyone has had a chance to make their voices heard.”  That is, until every racist has had a chance to make their voices heard.  Go Hillary, the official candidate for the white, working-class, racist Democrat!

Obama and elitism

The recent battle cry of “elitism!” raised against Barack Obama has caused some damage to his reputation recently.  (For example: http://www.reuters.com/article/politicsNews/idUSN1547078420080416).  Americans like to see themselves as equal in opportunity as the capitalist class.  Heck, almost all Americans who have food in their fridge like to think they’re ‘middle class,’ meaning middle-income-bracket, meaning able to be top dog someday, capable of being the top of the hierarchy somehow.  Everyone gets their chance to walk over others.  But simultanously, Americans ignore that the seemingly obvious and logically necessary result of “equality of opportunity” is “being able to become an elite,” and like to think that elites don’t exist.  So any intimations that a potential candidate is ‘elitist’ raises hairs on the back of the American ‘middle class.’  (Don’t get me started on the percentage of Americans who judge candidates on being most “presidential” . . . what do they think they mean by “presidential” if not “of the appropriate elite”). 

You cannot get elected in America without money and connections.  I don’t think I need to cite proof–I can’t see anyone disputing this.

The book Towards a New Socialism by Cockshott and Cottrell (http://www.ecn.wfu.edu/~cottrell/socialism_book/) talks about the necessary problems with the ‘elite’ influencing representative governments.  From their new preface, 3rd draft, they say:

“Parliamentary government, legitimized by regular elections, is presented to the modern world as ‘democracy’ plain and simple.  We view it differently.  We think, as Lenin did, that it is the most perfect form of rule by the rich.  We think, as Aristotle did, that elections are always and everywhere the mark of an aristocratic rather than a democratic state.  Experience teaches that those elected to parliaments are always, everywhere, unrepresentative of those who elect them.  Whatever indicator one looks at–class, gender, race, wealth, or education–those elected are more priviledged than those who vote for them.  The elected are always socially more representative of the dominant classes in society than they are of the mass of the population.  Once elected they will always tend to represent the interests of the classes from whom they are drawn.  There are 101 detailed circumstances to explain this fact, but they all come down to the same thing.  Those features which mark you out as one of society’s ‘elect’, one of the better sort, are also the features that help you get elected” (23).

I think they’re right about representative government.  I suppose what I don’t understand is the suprise Americans feign at electing someone who represents ‘the elite’.