Wednesday, July 23, 2008
Sunday, July 20, 2008
The last issue of Black Agenda Report featured a KPFA interview with Dr. Michael Hudson on the subject of the fictitious economy. If you want to understand junk bonds, endangered pension funds, Chicago School corrupt politics, why Democrats are as bad as Republicans or how CEOs pay themselves, you must listen to this eye opening interview. Hudson drops quite a few incredible quotes. He is an economics professor and a former advisor to former presidential candidate Dennis Kucinich. It figures. Smart birds of a feather do flock together. Here are some of the Hudson statements that made me sit up and take notice and created a series of " a ha" moments.
"Classical economics defined a free market as one that is free of overhead charges, free of unnecessary charges of production, free of watered stock. Today a free market means that predators are free to extort any price from the public, they are free to deregulate, free to lie to consumers, free to exploit, free to load any company they want down with debt, and basically lead (us) to a world of debt peonage... So the whole concept of freedom has been turned upside down by the Chicago school and by the Bush administration."
"Because hundreds of millions of dollars have been spent to mislead people and to endow business schools and universities to stop teaching the history of economic thought, to stop teaching the classical economists, and essentially to brainwash students, so that those with a sense of realism simply drop out of the field of economics and go into some other field."
"Now the companies were in such financial stress, having to pay the bondholders so much money that they were facing bankruptcy. So they went to their workers, as General Motors did a year ago, and as one company after another has gone to their labor force and said, 'Look, we're gonna go bankrupt, and if we go bankrupt that's gonna wipe out your entire pension fund,' because the law says you're at the end of the line, as far as collecting from us. The basic rule in America is that the rich get paid first and normal people get paid last... the richer you are, you're at the head of the line, the poorer you are you're at the back of the line. We owe so much money to our bondholders and bankers who lent us the money that there's not enough money to pay them and to to pay you workers.
The labor unions said wait a minute, we agreed to lower our current wages (in years past) so you could pay these pensions later. The bosses replied 'Well, we don't care about that, the law is on our side, we've bought the congress, we've bought the courts, our lobbyists give congressmen and the lawmakers a lot more money than yours do, so you lose.' "
"Foreign countries essential will have to isolate the United States and go their own way. There is no sign of that happening yet. When countries do go their own way, such Iran, Iraq and Venezuela, the United States threatens to go to war with them."
"There is a naive view that somehow everything will be different if the Democrats get back into power. The last time the Democrats were in power they were to the right of the Republicans. Clinton basically was a right wing Republican and did more antilabor, prowealth policies than essentially the Republicans could have done.That is basically what the Democratic party is for. The Republicans are viewed as the anti labor party, so if you are going to double cross labor, if you are going to really hurt the economy it has to be a Democratic that does it, not a Republican. And so it looks to me like Wall Street is all for the Democrats coming in, hoping that Oboma will turn out to be another Clinton. . ."
"The crisis we're going into may be so severe that people will be willing to back new politicians. It may be that the Democratic party will finally be split and most of the Democratic politicians will join the Republicans where they belong and a new party will essentially come out. I don't see much of a recovery until that occurs because the two parties are so similar right now." (We can hope).
"[depression] Certainly inevitable for the U.S., not inevitable world wide. All the other countries have to do is cut themselves lose from the dollar. In this country America has no way of paying for its trade deficit and no way of paying for its military spending abroad. So if something has to give America would prefer to impose a very deep depression than give up one penny of military spending. So I expect a very sharp increase in unemployment, people are talking that real prices have another 30% to fall at least and that is only as far as the eye can see, and large scale foreclosures, bankruptcies while military spending will increase."
I could go on and on. Just listen to the entire interview. Hudson answers questions you haven't even asked yet.
Tuesday, July 15, 2008
How do I feel about the New Yorker cartoon depicting Barack and Michelle Obama as machine gun toting followers of bin Laden who wear big afros and burn flags and use fist bumping terror signals? I have just a few words of advice for the New Yorker. Leave satire to the Onion, they do it better.
I get that it was supposed to be a parody of the email smear campaigns and the Fox News endless lies spread by the racist, right wing dead enders. Yet if the intent was to parody those people, the cartoon should have depicted them and their delusional hate. It should not have depicted the Obamas at all.
America is a nation full of very stupid people who don't have the capability to think seriously about anything, much less understand satire. Add endemic racism to the mix, and snarkier than thou satire ends up being nothing but stereotyping a still despised group of people.
But it must be pointed out that defending Barack Obama from racist attacks is not so simple. Part of Obama's appeal to many white people is his own denunciation of black demands for justice, or even the memory of past injustice. Ask Rev. Jeremiah Wright. Obama denounced him and officially left his church because Wright had the gall to state the truth of America's history of white supremacy, wars of empire and glorification of manifest destiny and the mass murder that goes along with it. My friend and fellow blogger Arthur Silber hit the nail on the head when he dissected the Wright episode and racism directed at Obama.
"This places Obama's would-be defenders in an unusual predicament: they want to defend Obama on an issue about which Obama refuses to defend himself. Obama has told us there is nothing of any significance he needs to defend himself against. In this way, Obama has removed the weapon from his defenders' hands. He has told them -- as he has told Wright -- to shut up and keep quiet about it. Obama doesn't want Wright to discuss it, and he doesn't want you to discuss it.
This is a monumental problem. Because Obama seeks the highest elective office in a society which is based on and still revolves around the myth of American exceptionalism in numerous and often complex ways, it is probably the case that he has to deny the truth. That does not change what the truth is. If you choose to defend him against viciously discriminatory attacks, and if you go so far as to suggest that those attacks are systemic and widespread, you call into question certain of the critical premises underlying Obama's campaign (that he is the "post-racial" candidate and similar claims).
He doesn't want you to defend him too strenuously on this issue, if at all."
Obama still continues his campaign of denouncing all black people and making us the fall guys and girls for all of the country's ills. At the NAACP convention yesterday he had this to say.
"So yes, we have to demand more responsibility from Washington. And yes we have to demand more responsibility from Wall Street. But we also have to demand more from ourselves. Now, I know some say I've been too tough on folks about this responsibility stuff. But I'm not going to stop talking about it." (Aren't we lucky.)
"It starts with teaching our daughters to never allow images on television to tell them what they are worth; and teaching our sons to treat women with respect, and to realize that responsibility does not end at conception; that what makes them men is not the ability to have a child but the courage to raise one."
Good advice to be sure, but does any of it ever apply to white people? Are white girls victimized by negative media imagery? Do all white boys respect women? Are all white men good fathers? Will white people ever get the responsibility speech? No, they won't. There is no political advantage in pointing out white people's flaws, so they are safe from Obama's finger pointing. The New Yorker spread negative stereotypes about the Obamas and about all black people, but Barack Obama has made a career out of doing the very same thing.
So don't cry for him too much. His campaign is a thing of marketing beauty and will overcome any and all attacks. He will be president and black people will have more denunciation to look forward to.
Wednesday, July 09, 2008
"What is most striking is that when the Congress was controlled by the GOP -- when the Senate was run by Bill Frist and the House by Denny Hastert -- the Bush administration attempted to have a bill passed very similar to the one that just passed today. But they were unable to do so. The administration had to wait until Harry Reid, Nancy Pelosi and the Democrats took over Congress before being able to put a corrupt end to the scandal that began when, in December of 2005, the New York Times revealed that the President had been breaking the law for years by spying on Americans without the warrants required by law."
Tuesday, July 08, 2008
Former Defense Secretary Donald Rumsfeld is in the mainstream. Who said that? Was it Karl Rove? Perhaps it was Dick Cheney. No, it was Barack Obama. He didn't turn into Mr. Two-faced Democrat in Name Only overnight. He has obviously been planning a presidential run for a long time and never passed up a chance to suck up to the powerful people who could get him into the White House.
Way back in 2001 when Bush was announcing his cabinet choices, state senator Obama said that Rumsfeld and the rest of the Bush gang were just A-OK with him. Read it here and listen to the Rumsfeld statement here.
" 'The proof in the pudding is looking at the treatment of the other Bush nominees,' Obama said. 'I mean for the most part, I for example do not agree with a missile defense system, but I dont think that soon-to-be-Secretary Rumsfeld is in any way out of the mainstream of American political life. And I would argue that the same would be true for the vast majority of the Bush nominees, and I give him credit for that.'
'So I don’t want to be pegged as being far left simply because I find certain aspects in John Ashcroft’s record to be divisive or offensive,' Obama continued. 'I think it’s legitimate for me to raise that. As I said before, if he brought before us a nominee who didn’t agree with me on affirmative action and yet said that, you know, I do think that and showed a history for showing regard and concern for racial justice, if he came before us and said I oppose a woman’s right to choose, or I oppose abortion, I find it religiously offensive, and yet I do respect, for example, the notion that we shouldn’t be solving these things with violence, historically, if that had been what was said, then I don’t think I would object. And I think that’s a fair position to take.' "
What on earth is he saying? I have yet to see an opponent of affirmative action have a "concern for racial justice." What is the bar for this concern? Is it not being overtly racist? Is it being pleasant to black people? What is Obama's standard for these good hearted people who can oppose justice but still get his support? Supporting affirmative action does further justice, and justice comes only with a struggle and a willingness on the part of a president to join in those fights. Oh wait, I forgot. Obama will put an end to partisan bickering. Damn. I guess we're just screwed.
His comment on abortion opponents is similarly troubling. Apparently he won't fight for abortion rights as long as religious belief is the reason for opposition and those opponents don't burn down clinics. We can say good-bye to abortion rights in an Obama administration.
Progressives who don't pay attention to what Obama says are responsible for this mess we now find ourselves in. From FISA to Iraq to Moveon to Wesley Clark, Obama has thumbed his nose at people who supported his campaign. Naomi Klein and Jeremy Scahill said it best, progressives should have been players and not cheerleaders during the nomination battle. They weren't. They had no guts for a fight and now we are stuck with Senator Testy who gets hot under the collar when anyone dares to ask him what it means to "refine" his Iraq policy.
If your little political heart is now broken, don't complain. You just weren't paying attention. As Obama would say, "So long suckers."
Wednesday, July 02, 2008
I will go into more detail later, but here is a letter I wrote to Salon in response to Glenn Greenwald's latest on Obama and FISA.
Greenwald is half right and half wrong
Glenn is doing great work, truly righteous work about Obama's FISA flip flop. But he is wrong about Obama's chances for victory. Obama is the corporate favorite and there is near universal revulsion against the Republicans and the obviously psycho McCain. The combination of Republican unpopularity and Obama's creepy appeal will propel him to victory and he will be as bad as Bush if not worse.
His campaign shows how he will govern. He has unnecessarily tossed Wesley Clark and Moveon under the back wheels of a Greyhound. The Moveon Petraeus story was so last year. His disparagement of the group that cooked their own books to endorse him was gratuitously mean spirited.
Glenn must start focusing on the nightmare of an Obama presidency and stop saying that we can't compare him to Bush and McCain. We can. He didn't just say he would keep the faith based initiative, he said he would expand it.
How does Obama differ with the Republicans? He won't end the Iraq occupation, he is willing to kill thousands of Iranians, and he will maintain illegal, warrantless surveillance.
It is only July. What will Obama say in October? I can barely stand to think about it.