a better world
is probable
  1. Obama and Romney have been fighting over who’s hardest on the poor

    September 18, 2012

    It was recently revealed by Mother Jones magazine that Mitt Romney hates poor people. Surprise!

    At a private fundraiser Romney said that:

    There are 47 percent of the people who will vote for the president no matter what. All right, there are 47 percent who are with him, who are dependent upon government, who believe that they are victims, who believe the government has a responsibility to care for them, who believe that they are entitled to health care, to food, to housing, to you-name-it. That that’s an entitlement. And the government should give it to them. And they will vote for this president no matter what…These are people who pay no income tax.

    There you have it. Mitt Romney believes that 47% of America are entitled, food eating motherfuckers living it large on government cheese.

    Some pundits have said this about seals the deal for Obama to coast back into the White House.  Which would be great for the 47% of people that Romney basically called dependent leeches, right?  A Romney presidency would be disastrous for people on government assistance (which was estimated by one Census study to be almost 20% of the US population in 2009).

    The Obama campaign has been making it a point to attack Romney on welfare. But they’re not arguing that Romney is too hard on welfare recipients.  Instead, Obama’s campaign is arguing that Romney is too pro-welfare.  In an article from Jacobin magazine the author quotes one Obama campaign ad which,

    Charged that Romney “petitioned the federal government for waivers that would have let people stay on welfare for an indefinite period, ending welfare reform as we know it, and even created a program that handed out free cars to welfare recipients.”  Only Obama can protect us from a Republican regime of hand-outs and Oprah-style free cars for the undeserving poor.

    Check out this ad where Obama’s campaign attacks Mitt Romney for being “flexible on welfare,” and proudly defends Obama’s conservative position on welfare “reform.”

    Obama has been attacking welfare recipients as far back as his first election campaign in 2008, when he said that he wants to

    restore some balance to our economy so that middle class families who are working hard – they’re not on welfare, they’re going to their jobs every day, they’re doing the right things by their kids – they should be able to save, buy a home, go on a vacation once in a while.

    Obama echoed these same racist, classist stereotypes of poor people as lazy criminals and unsuitable parents at a fundraiser in August, when his message to donors was that, “We need better role models…we have to provide stronger role models than the gang-banger on the corner.”

    Rather than defend the idea that people should have access to welfare and should be entitled to food, housing and healthcare, the Obama campaign is competing with Romney over which candidate has the most backwards, conservative stance on welfare recipients.  Both can agree, welfare recipients are lazy and don’t want to work.  They’re bad parents and they are a drain on the system.  Romney’s just more of an asshole about it — sort of.

  2. The Democrats and the European Elections

    May 9, 2012

    Alexis Tsipras, leader of the Syriza Party (Coalition of the Radical Left)

    While eating lunch at work I started flipping through today’s Wall Street Journal that was sitting on the desk beside me.  No surprise that the central theme in today’s WSJ is “All Eyes on Europe.”  The Wall Street Journal is filled cover-to-cover with commentary and reportage on the recent French and Greek elections.  Voters in both countries threw out both the French President Nicolas Sarkozy, and the centrist PASOK (Socialist) Party in Greece.  In both cases voters turned to more Left alternatives.  In France, Francois Hollande won the Socialist Party’s first presidential election in over 17 years.  In Greece the far-Left Syriza party (or the “Coalition of the Radical Left”) won an unexpected second place position in Greece (denying any major party a clear majority, creating turmoil in forming a stable parliament, which will likely cause another election).

    The European turn to the Left has thrown pundits into a bit of an uproar.  The notable Clinton-establishment liberal Robert Reich for instance, came out to ensure American progressives that socialism isn’t the answer, instead what we need is “capitalism for the vast majority.”  Of course, Reich doesn’t understand that, 1) Hollande likely agrees with most of what Reich is saying, and 2) what he’s asking for is impossible, given the internal nature of how capitalism works.  Nevertheless, for Reich, the answer of course is vote for the right people (Democrats) and hold them accountable for a “fairer” capitalism.

    Meanwhile, the right-wing is horrified at what this bodes for the volatile European economy.  The Economist shrieked that Hollande is a “rather dangerous” man who “genuinely believes in the need to create a fairer society.”  The Wall Street Journal ran an opinion article titled “What the Greek Left Wants” in which the author criticizes Syriza’s stubborn rejection of “teachers’ evaluations  [trans. “standardized testing”]…reducing state bureaucracy [budget cuts and privatizing public services] or reforming the inflexible Greek labor market [busting unions].”  Imagine that!  A party that actually stands up for unions and against budget cuts?  What a nightmare.

    At the same time they’re hopeful that this European incumbent trashing might mean that Obama will suffer the same fate as France’s Sarkozy in the upcoming US elections, and that Mitt Romney will be swept into the White House on a wave of voter frustrations with the economy.  This speculation however, ignores the fact that European voters weren’t just throwing out incumbents.  European voters were decisively rejecting austerity, an electoral option that U.S. voters simply do not have between the two mainstream parties.

    The Democrat’s don’t carry the same charm they might have had in 2008.  Not by any stretch.  This however has nothing to do with any sort widespread embrace by Americans of  “fiscal responsibility” or austerity, quite the opposite in fact.  Obama’s embrace of austerity, his spreading of the wars across the Middle East, and so on, has exposed people to the fact that the Democrats and Republicans share the same basic capitalist agenda.  The only thing Obama has to win support is the fact that he’s not Romney.

    No doubt many people will turn toward “lesser evilism” and hold their noses while they pull the lever for the Democrats, out of rejection of the lunacy of the Republican Party, but many people are starting to take notice that lesser evilism simply doesn’t work to create the change our society needs.

    Unfortunately, so far, in the U.S. there is no electoral alternative for working-class and oppressed people to turn toward and pose a challenge to the two capitalist parties.  Our challenge, therefore, has come from outside the two mainstream parties (and even if there were a Syriza-like party, our challenge to the capitalist must always pivot around mass struggle–we cannot legislate socialism; we must fight for it and build it).  What the two capitalist parties fuck up we must fix in the streets.

    No surprise the Wall Street Journal doesn’t accept this as an option.  In one feature on the European elections the author suggests that the Democrats need not worry too much about the European elections because the U.S. “doesn’t have the same kind of backlash from austerity politics seen in Europe.”  Right.  Nobody in the U.S. is angry about austerity.

    Of course, anyone who hasn’t had their head in the sand will notice the millions of people across the U.S. marching, Occupying, and taking a stand to defend them from widespread foreclosures, layoffs, racist and sexist attacks that the Democrats refuse to challenge.  People are rapidly becoming frustrated with the sham elections in the U.S. in which we’re presented with either the party of war and austerity, or the other party of war and austerity.  Which gives those of us committed to real social change the opportunity to organize and create a real movement independent of the two parties of the 1%.

  3. Why I’m done torturing myself by reading the Times: The NYT, “Liberal” media & Politics in Venezuela

    September 4, 2010

    I am going to stop subjecting myself to reading the New York Times. This is something that I should have done a long time ago, and that many of my friends have done already. I mean, it should be obvious that a paper that actually takes a dude like Thomas “Iraqis-can-suck-my-dick” Friedman isn’t worth the paper it’s printed on.

    This guy is probably the most notable Times opinion columnist, and because of that he’s taken seriously on almost any news related talk show, including celebrated progressive shows like the Daily Show and the Colbert Report.  And yet, in spite of it all, his political expertise could be matched by a potato.  He is less qualified to write about politics than I am to play center for the Red Wings.

    For example, he once referred to Colombia as “one of the great democratic success stories” of Latin AmericaColombia.  The same country where “I would like to not be paid in chickens,” is practically synonymous with putting a big target on your backside.  Colombia is one of the wealthiest (if not the wealthiest) countries in Latin America and yet has among the highest wealth inequality on the continent.  To Friedman equality isn’t a requisite for democracy, but violently repressing labor rights and kowtowing to the interests of American imperialism is.  Seriously.

    But just as bad, frustrating and offensive as the editorials, is their actual reporting.  Their opinions columnists will sing praise for “democracy” in Colombia, while relentlessly slamming Venezuela’s Bolivarian Revolution–perhaps the most democratic socialist, anti-imperialist revolution in history, and Venezuelan President Chávez.  Without mentioning the skyrocketing rates of literacy, access to higher education, civic and political participation, and other economic indicators that show Venezuela’s growing social, economic and political equality, they will write about Venezuela’s growing inflation (as if inflation is always a bad thing), street crime (as if no other country has crime problems) and so on.

    Conveniently, liberal and conservative news outlets alike, have been increasingly talking about violence and crime in Venezuela.  Outlets like NPR, NYT and Wall Street Journal have been printing headlines such as “In Venezuela, Rise of Labor Unions Turn Deadly,” “Chávez’s Next Big Problem: Crime,” and “Venezuela, More Deadly than Iraq.”

    Frequently, the articles are either written by Venezuelan journalists, or rely upon them for information and data.  There is no problem with that, of course, except that to the average American reader, they will miss the context the author is writing in.  See, in Venezuela, it’s election season, and we all know how ugly news media gets during heated election battles.  Think Obama vs. McCain-Palin times ten in Venezuela.  The stakes for the right and left wings in Venezuela are sky high.  To the Left, a victory for the right means the end of the revolution, and the almost guaranteed rolling back of all the gains and reforms that have been won since 1998, or worse.

    In 2002, a Pentagon-backed military coup led to the installation of Pedro Carmonas, head of the Venezuelan Chamber of Commerce (Fedecámaras).  During his 36-hour reign, Carmonas repealed the recently nationally approved national constitution, and violently suppressed the largely poor pro-Chávez protesters who were peacefully challenging the coup and the reinstallation of the democratically elected Chávez government.  There is a great documentary on this coup called The Revolution Will Not Be Televised, posted at the end of this blog.

    To the right, more national losses signify the furtherance of the “Bolvarian Revolution,” and the possibility of further gains toward Chávez’s call for Socialism “for the Twenty-First century.”

    The right wing in Venezuela has been hoisting crime, and recent rolling blackouts as the central issues to challenge the re-election of pro-Chávez and Left candidates to the National Assembly (Venezuela’s main legislative body).  Without knowledge such as this, the average reader of the NYT, or any other American media, could hardly have a accurate picture of recent Venezuelan events.

    Doubly disturbing is the recent news that the Pentagon has been funneling money to support anti-Chávez journalists (media having been one of the strongest weapons against the Chávez government).

    So it frustrates me that the Times, with such a widespread reputation as having a largely liberal editorial policy, would be so clearly against substantively progressive movements in Latin America–possibly even supporting a right-wing opposition movement with a known history of violence–and selling it to American liberals as progressive journalism.

    It doesn’t really get more ugly than that does it?