Tag Archive: Obama


Morning News Roundup, April 1, 2011

Hi all!

Today’s yet another morning news roundup, but first, today’s news soundtrack:

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=CD2LRROpph0

New Vietnam(s)

Afghanistan:

President Obama and Congress unanimously agreed to get out of Afghanistan today by this weekend, sources say.  In response to criticisms that the war in Afghanistan was fruitless, and a waste of American lives and tax-payers’ money, Obama retrieved from beneath the podium a “my condolences” card, signed by himself, George W. Bush, all of congress, and Steve Buscemi.

Iraq:

8 years and 11 days after Saddam Hussein and his whole regime quit peacefully following George W. Bush’s “Shock and Awe” campaign, Iraq’s oil wealth has been funneled into green technology so cutting edge, Iraq is now the third richest country in the world.  It’s infant mortality rate has stayed at 0 for the last three years, and it is a thriving, direct, participatory democracy.  For the 2012 elections, the Iraqi people are said to be sending democratic observers to the United States to attempt to secure democratic rule there.

U.S.

Following the cancelling of the war in Afghanistan, the U.S. Chamber of Commerce dismissed congress for recess for the day.  The Chamber proceeded to draft legislation until early in the morning, but did break at about 8:00 to put President Obama and the members of congress to bed.  The new wave of Tea Party candidates snuck out of their bedroom windows at around midnight to toilet-paper the Pentagon.  When asked about the prank, Sarah Palin defended herself: “I just saw this six-sided building from my porch, dontcha-know Joe Six-Pack dontcha-know, and death panels, and yeah.”  After a brief spell of confusion regarding what Sarah Palin actually said, reporters questioned Michelle Bachmann, who proceeded to jump onto the reporter, bite into the microphone, and run away with it.  White House staff are still looking for where on the grounds she buried it.  In other news, following the extension of pure capitalism throughout the U.S. and the globe, unemployment is now at -0.5%.  It has been at a negative unemployment rate for about six months now, with newly created jobs being increasingly promised to newborns.

Have a good day!

Jeff

Morning News Roundup, March 22, 2010

Hi all,

One thing I try to do every morning is keep up on the previous day’s news–so I figured I’d share with you all.  Exhaustive? No, but I’ll try not to waste your time.  Opinionated? Most of the time, but never in the Fox News fake-news way.  Here we go.

First, here’s today’s News Soundtrack:

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=JBfjU3_XOaA

New Vietnam(s)

Libya:

After a third day of Western air strikes in Libya, Gaddafi’s forces have continued to press their siege against the rebels, shelling Misurata, an important Western rebel holdout, and bringing in snipers and tanks.   An American F-15 crashed, but reportedly from technical failure, not Gaddafi’s forces.  I’m not sure if one fighter plane crashing is news, except that it reportedly costs $27.9 to 29.9 million.  The stated U.S. plan is to achieve some quick objectives in Libya towards a no-fly zone, and hand off leadership of the intervention to European nations.  I suppose we’ll see, won’t we?  (Remember Shock and Awe? Wasn’t Iraq supposed to be quick in-and-out?)

Speaking of which, Iraq:

March 19th marked the eighth anniversary of the Iraq War (to whom do I send the birthday card I bought?).  The Department of Defense has identified 4,430 American service members who have died since the start of the Iraq war (with 32,000 wounded) and 1,493 who have died as part of the Afghan war and related operations.  In 2010, more soldiers died from suicide than from combat.  But the real tragedy is what has happened to the Iraqi people.  The British polling firm Opinion Research Business estimated “that over 1,000,000 Iraqi citizens have died as a result of the conflict which started in 2003” in a 2008 analysis, and their infrastructure is still destroyed, many living without electricity, clean water, or medical care [This links to an excellent Al Jazeera article, I’d recommend you read the whole piece].   Otherwise, we’re still there.   Yaa-a-a-a-ay *blows party favor* Happy Birth. . . day?

Afghanistan:

Army Spc. Jeremy Morlock is on trial as one of 12 soldiers who were effectively mass murdering serial killers who kept trophies from and pictures of their victims.  (Side note: he’s from Wasilla, Alaska.  Not to say there is any connection between that and his actions, or him or his actions and Sarah Palin, but it’s strange.)  Apparently we’re now at a stage in Afghanistan where we’re supposed to be beginning to transfer power to the Afghan government by 2014 (we have about 100,000 troops there now, and we’ve been there for more than nine years), but  it’s not a “sure thing” and could be, in theory, indefinitely longer.

 

Other news from the region:

Police are breaking up protests in Morocco, fighting in Sudan.

Syria:

Protests, crackdowns.

Yemen:

Protests.  Yemeni leader says he’ll leave office earlier, but protesters want him out now.  3 top Yemeni generals defected to support the protesters.

Bahrain: After major crackdowns on protesters last week, with the aid of Saudi Arabia, protesters are softening their demands. Bahrain is a major U.S. government ally. . . I wonder which freedom package they will get?

 

Labor News

Wisconsin:

On Friday, a judge delayed Walker’s anti-union bill from going into effect.  So, that’s stalled for now.

Indiana:

Union agitation and protests have effectively stopped Indiana ‘right-to-work’ (that term is such ideological b.s.) laws.

Japan:

Power has been restored to three reactors, and Japanese authorities report the death toll from the earthquake and tsunami as exceeding 18,000.  There is concern about contamination of food and water in the region, and they are still trying to prevent a full meltdown at the Fukushima plant.

Oh, and one more thing. . .

Obama Kicks Off Latin American Tour

Straight from Democracy Now:

“President Obama is in Brazil to kick off a three-nation tour of Latin America that will also include stops in Chile and El Salvador. In Chile, protesters gathered on Sunday calling on United States to apologize for its support of the dictatorship of Gen. Augusto Pinochet. Meanwhile, in El Salvador, Obama is expected to visit the grave of Archbishop Oscar Romero, who was assassinated in 1980.”

That’s got to be an awkward conversation.  “Yeah, so. . . um, sorry Chile about the supporting-a-coup, killing-your-democratically-elected-president, and installing-a-Neoliberalism-friendly-dictator thing.  Our bad.  Oh, and can you tell El Salvador we’re sorry about the Romero assassination that we had a role in, too.”

Anyway, y’all have a damned good day!


What’s labor supposed to do?

Facing setbacks in health care, a decreasing unionization rate (7.2% in the private workforce) , and the loss of the supermajority they would need to pass EFCA (as if the Democrats were doing something anyway), as well as decreasing public support (41%), unions are in pretty bad shape.  But then again, they had been for a long time.

What should labor do?

A number of things.

First of all, real people have little power in America.  Corporations and people of high means have a lot of pull, and individual politicians have some pull.  Democracy in America is democracy in name only. . . and most Americans know it.  They know that the government does nothing to pull together for everyday Americans and will drop anything to help out Wall Street.  Ironically, though such rabid corporatism comes as a result of the power wielded by corporations over our country, and such power is a natural consequence of capitalism, or the ‘free market,’ extreme right-wingers have built the Tea Party movement blaming government and claiming the ‘free market’ is the solution.  Let me reiterate. . . the people who are a huge part of the problem have grown stronger from the anger against the problems people like them have caused.  Why hasn’t the Left organized?  Why hasn’t labor organized in the face of layoffs?

What the people want–radical, liberal, and conservative–is democracy.  They rightly feel powerless against huge corporations and an unresponsive government–which, whatever head of our two-headed Republicrat Party beast is at the helm, does not seem to care about them.  Forget about business unionism–leaving corporations be, forgetting about ‘class issues,’ and demanding only wage increases.  BE A RABID FIGHTER FOR DEMOCRACY.  What the Obama election has taught us so far is that (1) people want change REALLY bad, and if you give them hope for it they will mobilize, and will carry the day, and (2) you can’t trust ANYONE in our bureaucratized government or the corporations that run it to actually do anything that is substantially good for you.

To reverse a paraphrased dictum from Machiavelli, politicians will do what we want if they love us or fear us. . . and their fearing us is more dependable than their love for us.  And by ‘fear us’ I don’t mean fear an uprising. . . I mean fear that we will impeach every single one, advance our own candidates, fill Congress and the Presidency with OUR PEOPLE.

We want Democracy.  Were unions to radicalize, democratize themselves, and democratize America, the people would love them.

Steps:

(1) Look inward.  Democratize yourself.  Make each union radically democratic–every single person has a change to make a real difference–no bureaucratized organizing body.  If people thought “I’d have a real say in my union!” that is a good part of what you need to do to change public perception.

(2) Support all workers, even the nonunion ones.  If you always look out for them, get them gains, workers not in a union will be more inclined to join, and more inclined to take your side and have a good perception of what you do.  It will help you organize, and help change public perception even more.

(3) Support even international workers and labor rights.  Corporations are international and organized and you should be, too.  Overseas workers are not your competition naturally. . . they are your allies.  If a corporation leaves American jobs here, and you argue ANYTHING that sounds like “they took our jobs”. . . you’re demonizing exploited workers who are suffering on their end from the actions of a corporation that is ALSO hurting YOU.  You create an “Us versus Them’ mentality against groups of people belonging to the “Us” group.  Remember, it is always corporations and globalization that hurts workers.  It’s really always capitalism, but you might not be willing to say that yet.  Not to mention that if millions of workers here oppose a company, it’s powerful, but if many millions of workers all over the world strike and boycott, it’s AMAZING, POWERFUL, and INSPIRING.

(4) Demand WAY MORE than just wage increases and REALLY COMMIT to it.  EFCA and Single Payer were great goals–you’re starting to see the need to advocate things that help the labor movement and ALL Americans, and that’s great.  But don’t depend on politicians.  Make noise, march, be rowdy and public, make YouTube videos and Facebook pages, have commercials during the superbowl, protest, strike, boycott! Fight the right-wing noise machine trying to make you look bad–make them, their lobbyists, corporations look bad instead!  They do it themselves, but no one calls them out on their tactics or their bullying, let alone their betrayal of America!  And never stop!  Buzz in their ears until they ring 24/7 whether you are there or not–and always let the public know what you’re doing for them.

(5)  Oppose pro-corporate bias everywhere.  You shouldn’t be afraid to call corporations out, to question their very essence and the system they are a part of.  Their bias hurts your true constituency. . . laborers and American citizens!  They have too much power in the workplace and in society.  Whose side are you on?  Oppose pro-corporate bias in the media, in the schools, in political campaigns. . . everywhere!  Stand for something!

(6) Organize! Organize! Organize! Find what industries have low unionization rates, and start there.  Find out what demographics, states, cities, and occupations unionize little, and reach out to them based on their situations, the uniqueness of their jobs, their histories, their values, their cultures.  Treat each group as its own, distinct population–it is!  Conduct studies and hire rhetoricians, psychologists, sociologists, and figure out what barriers to unionization exists in each group, and transcend them!  Your strength is in people.  And I repeat, DEMOCRATIZE and fight for REAL BENEFITS.  Let these people lead their own fight and represent to the people in their shoes once you’ve started organizing them, and let them determine what agendas are most important for them.

(7) Look outward.  Democratize EVERYTHING–fight for greater self-determination and democracy in corporations, in their management, in their boardrooms, and between workers, communities, and shareholders.  Fight for a greater democracy in American political structures.  Be a force for democracy, and be SO PUBLIC ABOUT IT, so transparent, that no right-wing extremists can lie to the public about you.  Make everything you do about making the government and corporations more accountable to the people and no one will think of you as ‘just another big, selfish, scary organization’.  And unlike Obama, walk the walk AND talk the talk.

Do these things and I promise you the labor movement will turn around.  So will the country.  And we will all be better for it.

http://news.yahoo.com/s/ap/20100228/ap_on_bi_ge/us_frustrated_labor_4

Good contemporary data: http://www.bls.gov/news.release/union2.nr0.htm

News Post: Health Insurers Versus America

My August 5th post on single-payer health care outlined why I thought single-payer health care ought to pass and become America’s new health system.  Its now appearing obvious that American legislators are in bed enough with insurance companies to make any important reform let alone the revolutionary change to single-payer health care difficult.  A Business Week cover article from August 6th, called “The Health Insurers Have Already Won” begins with an assertion in their first page that insurance companies will emerge more profitable regardless of any likely outcome.  It is the combination of Blue Dog and moderate democrats with republicans that is so quick to sell out American citizens for their corporate taskmasters. 

Representative Jim Matheson from Utah and Representative Mike Ross from Arizona, opposing progress and affordable health for millions on behalf of the Blue Dogs and corporations, are working to thwart any proposal which would set up a public option to compete with the private sector, a major component of the Obama Administration’s plan to reduce costs among the private sector.  The perspective of the leaders of the Blue Dogs can be easily seen.  Ross had been bought completely by UnitedHealth, stating that “”If United has something to offer on cutting costs, we should consider it.  We need more examples that work, and everything should be on the table.””  Ross wants everything on the table, and he’s worried about cutting costs in the health insurance industry.  What compassion!  Yet he also says that “We have concerns about a public option if it’s not done on a level playing field [with the insurance companies]”. 

Ross seems sincere, right?  I mean, he’s so concerned about everyone that he wants to help us all and help insurance companies, because they sure have been hurting in these hard, hard times. 

The National Coalition on Health Care states:

National Health Care Spending

  • In 2008, health care spending in the United States reached $2.4 trillion, and was projected to reach $3.1 trillion in 2012.1 Health care spending is projected to reach $4.3 trillion by 2016.
  • Health care spending is 4.3 times the amount spent on national defense.
  • In 2008, the United States will spend 17 percent of its gross domestic product (GDP) on health care. It is projected that the percentage will reach 20 percent by 2017.
  • Although nearly 46 million Americans are uninsured, the United States spends more on health care than other industrialized nations, and those countries provide health insurance to all their citizens.
  • Health care spending accounted for 10.9 percent of the GDP in Switzerland, 10.7 percent in Germany, 9.7 percent in Canada and 9.5 percent in France, according to the Organization for Economic Cooperation and Development.

In other words, Americans spend more than anywhere else despitethe fact that 46 million are uninsured.  Meanwhile, the AFL-CIO reports that “profits at 10 of the country’s largest publicly traded health insurance companies rose 428 percent from 2000 to 2007, while consumers paid more for less coverage.”  You know, now that I think about it, maybe Ross and the blue dogs are more concerned with sacrificingAmericans for insurance companies than he is about being fair to everyone.  He actually bragged about how the Blue Dogs “held the [health care] bill hostage in committee for 10 days” and prevented consideration of a single-payer health care option, as reported by the Huffington Post. 

It appears that the major argument given by the opposition (Blue Dogs and republicans) to every sane and reasonable healthcare plan (those with public options) is that the creation of a public option, competing with private insurers, would underprice them and drive them out of business.  Then again, if they are so concerned with cutting costs and putting everything on the table, what difference does it make?  In other words, a public option can reduce prices for Americans in a way that private insurance either can’t or won’t.  Tens of millions of Americans have no health insurance because they cannot afford it (I assume there can be no other reason).  Despite that, the Blue Dogs oppose any public option because of its increased ability to make healthcare. . . affordable?  Seriously, their primary objection is that public options will be able to lower their price to such affordable levels that, it is estimated (although controversially) that “88 million people, or 56% of those withemployer-provided coverage, would desert private insurance for a government-run program.”  If private insurers could not compete with a public option, isn’t that a sign that the public option is vastly superior to the private insurers?  I mean, I thought that sound logic went something like this:  “Millions of Americans can’t afford Option A.   Option B costs waaaayyyyless than Option A ever could, with the same coverage.  Because they could afford B waaayyyyy more than A, they’d probably switch from A to B because they like it more.  Consequentially, we should endorse B.”  The ‘argument’ given for supporting private insurers which, even according to the terms of the argument, are wholly unable to meet American needs, is that a public option, undercutting private ones in price, “would destabilize the marketplace and potentially kill the private insurance industry”. 

I suppose the correct response is “Who cares?”  Even those arguing for private insurers and againstpublic options do so from the premise that public options have greater potentiality to be affordable, so there is no reasonable objection to public options.  The healthinsurance industry is already in an oligopoly state in the market, and so arguments that a public option would destroy the competition are meaningless.  It’s not a competitive industry.  It’s massive profit margins and insufficient coverage are results of its lack of a need to be competitive.  Someone concerned withcompetition should welcome a public competitor, and realize that the true result of competition, that private insurers unable to compete might go out of business, is fine.  As for me, I’d rather have Americans have an affordable public option than a number of high priced private options.  We deserve to be able to afford the surgeries and medical care we need.  We deserve to not have to watch our sick children wither and die from our inability to pay for treatments.  We deserve to not have to choose between our children dying now because we can’t afford treatments, and our children dying later because the treatments put us permanently in debt.  We finally deserve democratic say over these issues, and if we have representatives we deserve those who will consider their citizens, rather than lie to their faces about the options before them, and stab them in the back with UnitedHealth’s knife. Stop protecting private insurers from competition!  Stop sacrificing American health for the profits of your capitalist friends! 

My post: https://practicalutopian.wordpress.com/2009/08/05/on-single-payer-health-care/

Business Week: http://www.businessweek.com/magazine/content/09_33/b4143034820260.htm 

NCHC: http://www.nchc.org/facts/cost.shtml

AFL-CIO: http://blog.aflcio.org/2009/05/27/health-insurance-profits-soar-as-industry-mergers-create-near-monopoly/

On Single-Payer Health Care

The House of Representatives is now going to vote on a single-payer health care proposal, thanks to the advocacy of Anthony Weiner, a Democrat from New York.  Is it going to pass in America?  Let’s focus on saying that it should pass.  Here’s why.

Time Magazine reported in its August 10th special issue on health care that it is projected that health care expenditures will exceed 20% of the GDP of the US by 2018.  Currently we spend about 17% or so of our GDP on Health Care, yet we rank behind 18 other industrialized nations in deaths that could have been medically prevented.  According to the group Physicians for a National Health Program (PNHP), “Single-payer national health insurance is a system in which a single public or quasi-public agency organizes health financing, but delivery of care remains largely private.”  The PNHP points out that Americans spend over twice what other industrialized countries spend on health care, yet over 45 million are uninsured and many more are inadequately covered.

The PNHP points out the primary reason why for-profit health insurance systems necessarily cost more than single-payer public options:

Private insurers necessarily waste health dollars on things that have nothing to do with care: overhead, underwriting, billing, sales and marketing departments as well as huge profits and exorbitant executive pay.

This is one of the main reasons why the arguments for the efficiency of capitalism and the “free market” in lowering costs are false in every industry:  as corporations become larger and their industries tend towards monopoly or oligopoly (one or a few dominant firms controlling the majority of a market), they have more power to set prices independent of “supply and demand,” choosing high profit margins over controlling cost for the consumer, and beyond that their costs become inflated with hidden charges for services, increasing levels of unproductive employees (such as advertisers and management), and even costs incurred through their lobbying efforts to thwart the public interest.  Health insurers make higher profits when they charge as much as they can get from desperate consumers, and pay out as little as possible.  Our nation is expected to spend 1/5 of our GDP on inadequate health care because, as a very privatized health care society, we allow these companies free reign, and accept arguments that serve to deflect attention from our real problems and their real solutions.

The PNHP site has a variety of links supporting and explaining single-payer health care, and I would direct anyone wanting a greater understanding of the option to that site.  Single-payer health care is more rational and efficient than our current system and would help our nation in a variety of ways.  It should pass.

The single-payer health care proposal would provide comprehensive health care to all individuals while leaving them choice among doctors, and give the public democratic control over health priorities and policies (subject to the limitations of the American system of government, of course) while leaving the individual seeking health care and their doctor absolute autonomy.  In fact, the PNHP states the following as two further key features of single-payer health care.

  • Ban on For-Profit Health Care Providers
    Profit seeking inevitably distorts care and diverts resources from patients to investors
  • Protection of the rights of health care and insurance workers
    A single-payer national health program would eliminate the jobs of hundreds of thousands of people who currently perform billing, advertising, eligibility determination, and other superfluous tasks. These workers must be guaranteed retraining and placement in meaningful jobs.

The PNHP points out that the profit motive is harmful in health care, and the same logic shows by extension that the profit motive is harmful to any consumer in any area, specifically those that directly affect human welfare.  Single-payer health care is the answer to our health problem in America, and it is our only answer.

As a radical, however, it would be irresponsible for me to stop my analysis or advocacy there.  Single-payer health care, as proposed, is the system of health care that would exist in a socialist society (save for certain steps like democratic worker control), but truly socialized industries cannot peacefully exist with an otherwise callous capitalist society.  Private industry will continue to have political influence, continue monopolization, and thus have ever increasing power over our society.  The whole capitalist class will have an interest in secretly undermining the single-payer health care system because health care is so absolutely profitable.  Years later, in societies like America where the working class sees the ruling class interests as its own, and becomes easily persuaded and easier pacified, aspects of privitization may start to creep in (such as the gradual privitization of the Swedish ‘welfare capitalism’ model, including its single-payer health care).  The move to single-payer health care does not replace the need for socialism; quite the contrary.  We need single-payer health care to pass, and from then on we have a reference point to show the superiority of a socialist-style industry.  This will only work if we remain diligent in refusing to allow any privitization to creep in.  Let us be active in our advocacy of single-payer health care, and loud in our voice, so that the Obama administration and congress cannot help but know the true will of the American people: We Want Single-Payer Health Care.

PNHP: http://www.pnhp.org/facts/single_payer_resources.php

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’.