Thursday, November 20, 2008

Meanie Novak Gives Near Death Interview

I should have written more about abortion and tax cuts!

Quite the epitath.

Read the interview here.

Wednesday, November 19, 2008

Finance Capital

The enormous growth of the financial sector is one of the wonders of our age. In the 1960s the business of banking, broking and insuring accounted for just 10 per cent of total corporate profits in most developed economies. By 2005, this proportion had swelled to nearly 35 per cent in the US and roughly the same in Britain—the two countries that host the world's largest financial centres. Last year a staggering one in five Britons earned their living in finance.

Liberals at Prospect Magazine are nervous about the monster they helped create.

How finance will remain in charge if Obama picks Lawrence Summers.

Only in America?

Heard of Fujimori, Disraeli or Daniel Arap Moi?

American exceptionalism and Obama.

Tuesday, November 18, 2008

Fidel Gets Religion

And a lousy one at that: Russian Orthodox!

From Fidel:

"The Church [i]s a spiritual force. It played a major role at critical times in the history of Russia. At the onset of the Great Russian War, after the treacherous Nazi attack, Stalin turned to her for support to the workers and peasants that the October Revolution had changed into the owners of factories and the land."

Read the entire dreadful article here.

Friday, November 14, 2008

Did Palin Do Her Job?

What is a running mate's job?

Jazz the base.
Win a region or state.
Attract swing voters.
Don't do harm.
Attract women this cycle.

Palin did none of these.

Core Republican turnout declined 1.3 percent compared to four years ago, the Republican share of the electorate dropped five points from 2004 — and the depression of conservative voters was amplified in key states such as Ohio, where Obama won despite earning almost the same number of votes as John F. Kerry. The difference is that 300,000 people who showed up for Bush/Cheney decided to stay home for McCain/Palin.

Read the entire article here.

Sunday, November 09, 2008

Big City

From on the big city vote.

Big City Barack
One nugget from Pew Research that I'd missed earlier: Barack Obama performed 9 points better than John Kerry among urban whites. This was not by any means the most important factor in his election, but it helps to explain the large improvements that the Democratic ticket made in states like Colorado and Nevada, where a great deal of the population is concentrated in Denver and Las Vegas, respectively, and why Republicans were at best able to tread water by targeting the rural areas of Pennsylvania, while Obama waltzed his way to winning large majorities of white and black voters in Philadelphia.

This also attests, of course, to the stupidity of bashing big cities. Roughly 82 million Americans live in cities of 100,000 persons or more, including 40 million in cities of 500,000 persons or more. This does not count smaller cities or suburban areas, which account for another 150 million Americans or so. (Don't neglect the fact, also, that many Americans who do have their residence in big cities may nevertheless work or play in them, and therefore think well of them). By contrast, only about 60 million Americans live in rural areas.

The Bush-Rove team of 2000 and 2004 understood the importance of appealing to suburban voters ... that is a viable strategy. Pitching your appeal to rural voters, on the other hand, probably will not work. They're outnumbered by the city dwellers in the first place, and if your attacks are strident enough that the suburbanites start to side with the urbanites, you've given yourself a big problem.

Thursday, November 06, 2008

A Generational Moment

With the sight of Jessie Jackson weeping in Grant Park Tuesday night (can't a brother get a Backstage Pass?), as Barack Obama gave his first speech as President-elect, we witnessed the proverbial generational baton being passed for the progressive movement in the United States. Obama's victorious campaign delineates a break with the political and social movements of the previous generation because although Obama rhetorically embraced the versions of the civil rights, labor, anti-war, LGBT and environmental movements that emerged from the 1960's his campaign was primarily based on a liberal candidate, that happened to be mixed race, as opposed to Jesse Jackson's Rainbow Coalition approach to change that had at its center an African-American Civil Rights leader in alliance with the progressive movements of the day.

In Barack Obama's bid for the presidency merit and the American Dream were front and center, not an oppositional identity that was fighting for justice. This shift from a collective of identity/grievance/class to individualism and merit represents both promise and pitfalls for the left. For liberals it is in many ways the culmination of the American and French revolutions; all men truly equal before the law with equal opportunity. For those left of the liberals, class and social movements have always been the vehicle that pushed the liberal revolution from a system of liberty to a system of equality and justice. Working within the system they allied with labor or civil rights activists and tried to expose liberalism for what it is; an economic system of exploitation and a political system that gives the wealthy more access to the levers of power by design. This becomes more difficult when the leader of the system is an "oppressed" minority.

This moment is akin to the collapse of Stalinism when democratic leftists were freed from the ties to "actually existing socialism". It allowed a new model to be created but it also left a void of an existing model. With Obama's presidency leftists lose their critique of the liberal facade of equal opportunity but they also can now openly claim that liberalism is not enough. This moment creates an opportunity then for those of us who want more than public schools, a progressive income tax and a water utility owned by the city.

In this day after the election Obama has already put forward the name of Rahm Emmanuel as his Chief of Staff and floated Paul Volcker and Lawrence Summers as key economic advisors. To say these are cautious steps is an understatement. Emmanuel's major accomplishments are helping pass welfare reform and NAFTA for the Clinton's: Volcker's, the shock therapy of the early 1980's depression that helped destroy the industrial base of the upper Midwest and Summers a past World Bank President who once argued for the facility of dumping toxic waste in poor countries to maximize their comparative advantage. This cast of rogues is a harbinger of the extremely modest liberal platform of the new President.

If the left is to be at all relevant, a clear message must be agreed upon and stuck to. Universal health-care, pensions and union organizing are three that are winners and within the realm of accomplishment but will need to be fought for given the cautious centrism of the new President. Beyond this, a democratically controlled economy-socialism, building social movements is the proven tonic. And given that capitalism is now in true crisis, and both US political parties have come up with no answer except for throwing money at banks, the left's opportunity is now more then at any time in the last 40 years.

Monday, November 03, 2008

Liberalism's Apex?

From Orlando Paterson on the historic significance of an Obama presidency.

"Victory for Barack Obama on Nov. 4 would mark our democracy's triumph over half the problem of race in America. It would underscore the vitality of America's most distinctive and powerful master trend—assimilation, an invincible force that selects from, absorbs and integrates difference, not always kindly, but always to the profit of the nation's mainstream. But an Obama win would also highlight the stark paradox that is the other half of our racial problem: while black Americans have been fully incorporated into the nation's public life, they continue to be cut off from the private life of other Americans, a separation that accounts in good measure for blacks' besetting socioeconomic problems."

There's a lot of truth here but "a separation that accounts in good measure for blacks' besetting socioeconomic problems."?

The separation was not voluntary sir! Blaming the victim here?

"An Obama victory would mark, further, the completion of the process of mass democratic inclusion that began with the presidency of Andrew Jackson, another second-generation orphan, who came out of nowhere to lay the foundations of male, white suffrage on a historically unprecedented scale. What Jackson the slaveholder left undone, this historic election cycle has finished, whatever the outcome on Tuesday: it's now clear that blacks and women are ready, able and poised to lead the nation."

Thanks for the re-assurance!

A fine mind for sure, but always parsing for power, in this case white power.

Why not finish logically with moving forward with democracy into the economic sphere? We have won the liberal revolution, civil rights, now lets create a true democracy where all people share real power. Something Europe began 100 years ago.