Wednesday, October 29, 2008

The Forest

One of the pleasant aspects of crisis is that it helps clarify, which side your on. WWI was one of those moments as well as Vietnam, Iraq and recently the bailout of the banks (with hindsight as a crutch I am 3 for 4-I waffled on the bailout but now see it as a horrible idea). This election has also shown that Democrats basically want the status quo and the Right would like to de-regulate and de-tax more so that the entire civilization can crumble under debt and the "business cycle!" To many on the Right it all started to go bad with Roosevelt, Teddy that is and communism ensued with the New Deal.

Read this nugget from Michael Barone of the centrist faction taking on the New Deal. He's no Grover Norquist but it shows how even the mildest forms of social democracy are seen as a threat by the plutocracy.

Humanitarian Imperialism

Chomsky on US intervention since the end of the Cold War:

Jean Bricmont’s concept “humanitarian imperialism” succinctly captures a dilemma that has faced Western leaders and the Western intellectual community since the collapse of the Soviet Union. From the origins of the Cold War, there was a reflexive justification for every resort to force and terror, subversion and economic strangulation: the acts were undertaken in defense against what John F. Kennedy called “the monolithic and ruthless conspiracy” based in the Kremlin (or sometimes in Beijing), a force of unmitigated evil dedicated to extending its brutal sway over the entire world. The formula covered just about every imaginable case of intervention, no matter what the facts might be. But with the Soviet Union gone, either the policies would have to change, or new justifications would have to be devised. It became clear very quickly which course would be followed, casting new light on what had come before, and on the institutional basis of policy.

The entire article in Monthly Review.

Wednesday, October 22, 2008

Thomas Frank

Thomas Frank riffs on Joe the Plumber in this week's installment of his column in the Wall Street Journal. In it he describes how Nixon, Reagan, Newt, Palin and co. have made working class folk Red, White and Blue Republicans while at the time the GOP has driven down their wages, sent them off to war and left them holding the bill for the last 40 years of massive upward re-distribution of wealth.

The culture war that Joe the Plumber is a happy foot soldier in stands in the way of creating a decent society that we can easily achieve. It's the reason bright leaders like Bill Clinton and Barack Obama tack to the Right in every sentence and put forward policies that maintain the Empire and the plutocracy.

The ineptitude of the Bush Administration has put a crack in the edifice of the true blue. Here's an anecdote from Pennsylvania showing one of the hair line fractures.

"So a canvasser goes to a woman's door in Washington, Pennsylvania. Knocks. Woman answers. Knocker asks who she's planning to vote for. She isn't sure, has to ask her husband who she's voting for. Husband is off in another room watching some game. Canvasser hears him yell back, "We're votin' for the n***er!"

Woman turns back to canvasser, and says brightly and matter of factly: 'We're voting for the n***er.'"


Thursday, October 16, 2008

The Choice

Excellent summary of the election from the New Yorker.


I think the issues are deeper than the writers want to admit. Capitalism itself is in deep crisis, so is the empire. The use of US power-military, economic and political, has been a force for viscousness (Indonesia, Zaire, the Philipines, Haiti, Vietnam, Laos, Guatemala, Iran, Chile, I could go on...) for over 100 years at least and most people in the United States do not want to come to terms with the actual facts or our (the people) complicity. At home we have a system based on inequality and credit. The US decline will be faster than say Japan's because of this. The middling classes are leveraged to the hilt as well is the government, so there will be less consumer demand on the way down and more bankruptcy. The bill will have to be paid now, the bill collectors are now calling (China, Japan, et al...). How can this be done? By lowering wages or through inflation, or both or by shutting down the empire. The problem with both is that the voting classes are not in the mood for a reality check and they like the empire. They also benefit from it-the only real thing we make these days are planes, tanks and bombs, if we stop that we will have no industrial base.

Obama is a smart guy but even a cross between Nehru/Lincoln and Stephen J. Hawking can not get us out of this pickle.

I hope I am wrong.

Thursday, October 09, 2008

Blaming Minorities for the Collapse of Capitalism

I have been wanting to write an article to this affect for some time but haven't had the skill. The market fundamentalists are looking for a scapegoat quick as their last barricade (really big government and Central Banks) bails them out by, uhm... market fundamentalists? It's been quite a sordid few months as Newt, McCain and the business press on down (some of the Right WIng blogs have become quite Hitlerish) have tried to pin the tail on the Donkey and minorities given that they worked so hard for the last 30 years to create the system that we now have. Not that the Donkey has not been part of the problem (overthrowing Glass-Steagall, cheering on Alan Greenspan's negative interest rates and ARM plans as well as protecting Fannie and Freddie) but blaming poor people and minority home owners for the meltdown of the financial system is like blaming a raindrop for the flood. It seems an extremely transparent ploy to divert attention from the roller coaster that is capitalism towards minorities and "big government" re. the part of government, in our case, that helps the poor and the oppressed as the culprits in the collapse.

Subprime Suspects
Read the entire article.

Saturday, October 04, 2008

Wednesday, October 01, 2008

Paul Oneil!

Yikes! Of all people, listen to PO in the video section of Race for the White House talk about the bailout and the future of the economy.

The amazing part about this whole crisis is that we are finally having a real debate, not at the presidential level however, about how the fundamentals of the economy actually work. If only we had a movement that had a program to take it in a progressive direction.

Populists on both the right and the left have been nibbling but the plan is certainly not out there.

What plan?
Democratic control of the economy by strengthening labor so that demand is up.

Real infrastructure investment: rail, strategic industries like energy and transportation.

Hard cash for engineers and science.

A national pension.

A universal, nonprofit health care system.

A massive crackdown on the paper economy-if you buy a home you need assets, ending all funny money such as derivatives, hedge funds, 2nd, 3rd mortgages.

A balance of trade.

By the way this is a fairly moderate plan. They do it in Germany, France, Sweden, Finland....