Friday, May 27, 2005

"New" Music

As a planner and a person who needs music I have put off buying and listening to certain bands/artists because I want to save this phase of musical discovery for a future moment. I have two artists on the list, Nick Drake and the Kinks, for a forced phase because of how impressed I have been with the little I have heard.

I started my Nick Drake phase yesterday with the purchase of Five Leaves Left. So far I am speechless. This record is amazing. I'm glad I'm not that depressed these days, talk about haunting and melancholy?! Which Nick Drake album next? I like to go in order. Which Kinks album first? Any other bands that I need to put on the list?

Vote Non!

The French vote on the EU constitution tommorow. I would vote no.

I think the idea of devolution of the state and internationalism is a great idea, this constitution only slightly moves in that direction. The welfare state is what is at stake in this vote. If Europeans embrace this current model they will look a lot more like the US and Canada in 30 years because of the ease of capital to move where it wants to. The new constitution could more progressively look to lift the entire social wage but instead it mostly tries to liberalize capital and labor markets which will have the effect of undermining the most advanced social democratic states like Sweden, Denmark and France.

Thursday, May 26, 2005

The Dwindling Coalition of the "Willing"

Bulgaria is now pulling out by the end of the year.

Iraqiazation, the current strategy for defeating the resistance to US occupation. Will it go the way of Vietnamization? Sounds like a police state to me. Freedom on the march.


Monday, May 23, 2005

Yanqui Go Home!

Hugo Chavez considers breaking ties with the United States over the US harboring of a Cuban terrorist who killed Venezuelan citizens in the 70's. This guy has also recently admitted bombing tourist hotels in Cuba that killed an Italian. By the way, remember the press coverage of this event?, me niether, see Chomsky and Herman on worthy and unworthy victims. How about the killing of tourists in Egypt? Remember that story?

Friday, May 20, 2005

Cockburn on the Democrats

No, these days, we have the Democrats about to sell out on Social Security. They sold out last month on Chapter 7 bankruptcy. You know, they're incapable--even the most fundamental primitive efforts of protection of ordinary people are beyond them. They can't do it. I mean, I think they're a dead letter. They're a huge rotting albatross hanging around the neck of every single left person in this country. And the left are putting a handkerchief to their nose trying to ignore this festering carcass, dripping with worms, reeking, hanging around their necks: "No, it's not. I like it. It doesn't smell bad."

And it's just getting worse and worse. If you put Hillary Clinton and Laura Bush together, I'd vote for Laura Bush any day of the week. What's [Clinton's] program? It's build higher fences at the borders and join the militias in Arizona and drive the illegals out. That's points one, two and three of their program. She's calling for an attack on North Korea. She called for an attack on Syria. I mean, I'm just talking Hillary Clinton, because she comes to mind. But, I mean, how can you possibly even think of voting for this party?

So, what's that leave you?

I don't know. Not much. A few organic potatoes.

You know, people have to start thinking creatively. I mean, I think a lot of things can be done. All the best things in life have absolutely nothing to do with any real politics in the last 35 or 40 years.

So, why do you keep writing about it?

Why have I written about it? Well, you know, [Edward] Gibbon wrote about the fall of the Roman Empire. He didn't say it all ended well, did he?

Here's the entire interview.

Effective Tactic

One of the right wings' most effective tactics is repetition, thank you Mr Goebbels. In the media realm one of the constant refrains is the liberal bias of the media. I certainly think that most of the major networks are liberal but this does not mean that they are anti-capitalist, anti-imperialist, pro-labor, hostile to conservatives or not patriotic as the right contends. I think they are best described by Bill Moyers who says:

"One reason I’m in hot water is because my colleagues and I at “NOW” didn’t play by the conventional rules of Beltway journalism. Those rules divide the world into democrats and republicans, liberals and conservatives and allow journalists to pretend they have done their job if, instead of reporting the truth behind the news, they merely give each side an opportunity to spin the news."

Here's the full transcript of his speech.

I actually don't think that Moyers goes far enough. I think that ALL social systems create processes of hegemony, meaning that you move up in the system if you play by the rules, you don't if you don't. Say you are at the Milwaukee Jenital and you constantly report on the dire state of the job market and how the local ruling class has either moved shop or given up totally on the idea of a community and refused to pander to the racist views of the south and west suburbs that blame all Milwaukee's ills on poor black people. You will very soon became an ex-journalist. Or you will end up on the gardening beat.

Or take sports for example. Let's say your line was constantly that the Milwaukee Brewer management were a bunch of tight fisted sclawags that only used the club for their own entertainment and profit and the team is a perennial loser because Bud Selig is a toadie for the rich owners and could care less about putting on a winning team because he backs the institutional framework that keeps small market teams losers. This is a fact but as a sports "journalist" your job is to be a booster and gettting people to the ball park is part of your job because in many towns the local cable or newspaper owns the team!

Political and business journalism works in a similar fashion. The Business Journal or the New York Times have a constituency that like to hear a certain mantra, capitalism good, labor greedy, France bad, we can have nukes but if anyone else wants them this is a threat to world civilization, I could go on. Most of us actually don't want our basic world view to be too radically challenged, if it is we ridicule or dismiss (I plead partial guilt). We are indoctrinated in our youth and most of us rarely challenge the basic ideologiacl outlook that we are indoctrinated in unless there is a major shock to our livelyhoods.

The media are also active agents in creating that ideological outlook. For the first 100 years of the United States the tariff was seen as a pillar of Americanism and a perfectly reasonable tool of internal development. As soon as the United States became the creator of a majority of the worlds manufatured goods the position of most in ruling circles decided that the tariff was a tool of godless communism and beelzebob. Once China starts making airplanes many in the ruling elite will start demanding a return to the tariff.

Journalists will never stray to far from the farm because in the end they know who pays thier bills. The right wing has it right when they say that media have a point of view but they have it wrong when they say that it's because they all have a crusader mentality, it's more the case that the political culture is basically liberal but the society is now in transition and they want the media to more closely mirror their POV.

Would This Mass Murderer Die Already!

Fascist ex-dictator of Chile has been on his death bed for years! Basta Ya!

Thursday, May 19, 2005

Free Trade?

The Chinese join the WTO and the fair trade regime and what do the US and Europe do? Slap quotas on textiles when their industries start to dry up as a result of competition.

The US has used the tariff since the Washington administration. It protected the domestic market and created the most powerful industrial economy in the world. At this point, near the turn of the 20th century, the US said the entire world needs to embrace free trade and banish the dreaded tariff or else. Free trade is great when you don't have anyone to compete with. You think Nicaragua will be selling any airplanes soon?

The recent "free trade" regime that is sweeping the globe is hardly free. NAFTA, CAFTA, GATT, the EU agreements, etc... All are extremely complex negotiated agreements on what can come in and out of nations with certain nations and industries doing better than others.

"Protectionism" is a nationalist game that favors one nation over another and fans national chauvinism. However, without corporatism where would Sweden, Finland or Norway be today? The national wage can certainly be raised through such organization of labor, business and the state. Should they have joined the Soviet Union under Stalin? No.

The ideal solution is a truly international labor movement. But what do we do in the meantime?

Wednesday, May 18, 2005

US Out Now or A Movement for Democracy?

There has been a minor debate within the anti-war camp of late. The barricade this time is drawn over the old debate over calls for total and immediate withdrawal, US Out Now, or a call for a democratic movement in Iraq that "we" can get behind. Usually one of my favorites, Naomi Klein, advocates the latter position and Michael Nuemann, sums up the critique and advocates the out now group in Counterpunch recently.

Sure we need to advocate an internationalist/feminist/environmentalist/socialist alternative to Yankee imperialism. The problem is, it doesn't exist in Iraq right now. The opposition at this time, from my vantage point, seems to be mad Sunni Jihadis, crazed ex-Bathist fascists and assorted nationalists. Their cause, a desire for the Yankees to go home, is just and right but let's not fool ourselves into believing the rule that will emerge from this hodgepodge is going to be nothing less than Saddam light if secularists win, unlikely, or medieval mullah rule if the Jihadi win . I think this is where Neumann is wrong when he says the outcome is none of our business. As internationalist it is our business who rules Iraq but in practical terms our pontificating is meaningless. He is right however when he says our, first world anti-imperialists/anti-war folk, job needs to be to influence our government to end the slaughter/occupation of Iraq and to figure out how to accomplish this as quickly as possible. Klein's world seems hopelessly naive in thinking that "the language of democracy" is somehow going to influence the people to oppose US imperialism. Last time around, Vietnam, the reason the US left was because they were militarily defeated. This time around we need to hammer this lesson home so that fewer Iraqis die. US Out Now! End the Occupation of Iraq Today!

The Legacy of ANC Social Conservatism

One in three! South Africans deaths attributable to AIDS. Far worse than the Rwandan genocide but because public health is at issue the politics of this crime is not discussed.

Tuesday, May 17, 2005

Right Wing Gay Homophobia!?

One of the oddest phenomena of the last 50 years (or forever?) is the gay persecuting gay; J Edgar Hoover, Roy Cohn, Terry Dolan, the current Mayor of Spokane Washington, etc... The great Otto Preminger somewhat dealt (it's a product of its time) with the issue in Advise and Consent. The film has recently been released on DVD. Check it out if you have not seen it.

Here Frank Rich makes soem great points about the odd gay gay hunter in an article on what drives the "anti" judicial activist crowd.

This is how it's done.

Thousands of Bolivians demand nationalization and taxation of the one resource (natural gas) that still remains after the plunder of the last 400 years. Hasta La Victoria!

Friday, May 13, 2005

Thursday, May 12, 2005


Someone else actually liked Ladykillers also! Now if I could only find a good review of Spanglish.

Arnold's Mixed Bag of "Reform"

It looks like the governor of California is going to call for a special election for his "reforms." He got rid of his idea to privatize the pension system but is still moving forward on his attack on public employee unions (he wants members to have to OK any political spending on dues-a classic anti-union tactic to lessen union power), a move to make it more difficult for teachers to get tenure, and a scheme to change the partisan role of reapportionment of representative districts. Most of these ideas I steadfastly oppose but the last one is a great idea in my mind. Of all the major reforms that can really make a difference in this country I think taking redistricting away from the Democrats and Republicans could probably have the most far reaching effect. This will only occur if the hacks that are picked are not that, hacks. But our entire system would be a lot more democratic if we could change the power of the Dempublicans to protect their incumbents.


California's Camp Pendleton's patriotic small businessmen are doing a great service for the troops, charging them 400% for a loan! Listen to this story on the parasites that loan shark to ALL poor people in this country. Can you say USARY?

Wednesday, May 11, 2005

Karzai's View of Sovereignty

The BBC reports on a small demonstration in Afghanistan over US treatment of prisoners in Guantanamo Bay concentration camp.

"President Hamid Karzai has said the violence showed the inability of Afghan authorities to handle such protests."

The BBC also reported the "president's" comment:

'Speaking at Nato headquarters in Brussels, he said his country would need international assistance "for many, many years to come".' in

this report.

US "Capitalism"

In the wacky world of US "capitalism" profits are private but loses are socialized. In one of the great rip offs in a 30 year spat of colossal rip offs for working people in the United States (the Chrysler bail out-now owned by German capital, the Savings and Loan give away, privatization of the public utilities, the Medicare system, Enron, etc...) the courts have now said that it is OK for United Airlines to default on their pension promises EVEN THOUGH THEY ARE NOT OUT OF BUSINESS! The US government is so bought out these days and the sheeple so cowed that the Pension Benefit Guaranty Corporation (PBGC) is now part owner of United Airlines as a trade for their pension obligation WHICH THE COURT SAYS THEY DO NOT HAVE TO FULLY HONOR!

Imagine a country where the government rules for companies that have pensions, a declining group I might add, allow them to NOT FUND THE PENSIONS AND THEN CLAIM POVERTY AND DUMP THEM ON THE TAXPAYER? Hmmm, I wonder who wrote the rules for that system?

Tuesday, May 10, 2005

Radio, Vox Populi and Its Discontents (me)

Here's a thought provoking article by Garrison Koehler on why he's not worried about the state of radio in the US today. Basically he says that liberal English majors like himself don't want to hear an echo chamber and when he is listening to the radio, both AM and FM, he likes what he hears because it's over the top (Rush & Co.), wacky (the religious), the canned (NPR) and pathological (sports radio). And that's fine with him.

Garrison must be listening to a different spectrum than me because if you spend more than 5 minutes on the dial, either AM or FM, what I hear most of is adverts. I actually like listening to sports on the radio and on the weekend or late at night (9 PM-my late) and the only! major problem is the never ending product placement both implicit and explicit. Beyond the advertising what you also primarily hear is banal pop music. R & B, Country, Rock and roll all have moved so close together that they are almost indistinguishable. And then the adds...

Garrison needs to read some Thomas Frank because he's starting to sound like Newt Gingrich with market populist ipod/mumbo jumbo when it comes to the democratic nature of the airwaves. Their soooo multicultural because I heard Hmong square dancing at 3:45 AM on Sunday morning. It's soooo radical because I heard some Serbian nationalist ranting about the crimes of the UN while driving to the Cub game. No Garrison the market has not created a diverse market of ideas and styles it mainly is about selling goods and services, a constant right wing hysterical diatribe and an occasional warm hearted story about lesbian Goa speakers sunbathing in the Keys on NPR.

The airwaves need to be re-nationalized. Ideas need to be presented to an independent arts board that takes into consideration, regionalism, politics, cultural value and worth (yes, this is possible-we do it a little bit with the Corporation of Public Broadcasting and other countries have other models). Let's let the cultural elite rule so that the masses can hear the truth.

Monday, May 09, 2005


The 60th anniversary of the end of the Great Patriotic War is today. 27 million killed. If it weren't for (I hate counter factualisms) this amazing sacrifice... Achtung! Schnell!


Friday, May 06, 2005

Which Way Is the Wind Blowing?

I showed my students the latest documentary on the Weather Underground this week. I cannot get this film out of my head. I can't believe how drawn in I am with these people. I have read Left Wing Communism: An Infantile Disorder, I know that terrorism most of the time doesn't work, I want and am working for people to organize unions and social movements to radically change society but I can still see the moral outrage and feel the impotence these radicals felt and understand their compulsion to want to blow things up. A must see. One of my favorite lines is by Mark Rudd when he says, I paraphrase, "most people don't understand the economic and political power of the United States and the violence they were inflicting on the people of southeast Asia and the world. We didn't know what to do with that information, I still don't know what to do with this information."

The Meatrix

It's time to return to the Meatrix.