Saturday, November 06, 2010

Life In Another Country [Anthony McCarthy]

The size of the disaster in the mid-term election should have been enough to make Barack Obama face what he has been unwilling to face before. the Republican Party is the foremost political factor in the corruption which is the only thing that is flourishing in the United States after forty years of their political ascendancy. It should have been enough to make him face it but there is no sign that he is facing it. As he continues to transform his image from the strong, confident leader, the messenger of hope to a weak, vacillating, bureaucrat, trading away Democratic ideals, he leaves the country without hope, without leadership.

We, friends, are faced with the prospect of our country rapidly falling into overt plutocracy, when even such somber, respectable people as Bill Moyers and Robert Reich are saying it, you can't pretend it's only easily dismissed no ones like me who see it. We don't live in a democratic America anymore. If you live in a state which is about to be in the hands of a teabagger governor with Republicans in control of your legislature, watch how fast they dismantle it and give it away. The governor-elect in Maine has already assembled the lobbyists and think tankers to set it up for immediate sale to the highest bidder.

In his statements about compromising on tax cuts to the richest, made less than a day after the election, there is, for anyone to see, what is a well known pattern now. The early compromises in this administration were so at odds with the situation. The size of the Democratic majority that had won in 2006 and grown in 2008, were all that he would need to carry out the program he led us to believe he favored. This was especially true since one of his claims boasted at his skill at working with Republicans who could be persuaded to do what was right.

Most confusing of all, early on, were the appointments in the financial departments, Summers and Geithner, two men who had helped create the economic crisis he inherited. In order to explain that a lot of people figured he was holding his fire for the major hurdles, health care, climate change, and ending at least one of the two Bush era wars he had inherited.

I won't go over the history of how those were abandoned and with them the hopes of the base that had elected Barack Obama and had put Harry Reid in a position to govern the Senate. Many of us expected some brilliant, covert, strategy to turn retreat into victory from the clearly far from stupid, Obama. Instead, as the health care bill shows, it was Nancy Pelosi who was the real political hero and tactician of the past two years, unfortunately, she couldn't do it when the two men proved weak and timid. She fought for a public option up until it was impossible to get one, then she got what she did. I doubt she's expecting any back up from Obama and Reid now that she's got a lot less power because of them to do more than she could when she was Speaker. They didn't give it to her then. If any history of the past two years wants to get it right, they should focus on her and not the guys.

Barack Obama doesn't have two years, he's got about two weeks to show us he's learned anything and he doesn't seem to have yet. He's talking about giving more away in the form of tax breaks to the filthiest of the filthy rich, it seems to be what he does. I'm not waiting in the expectation that some brilliant move will become apparent in his post-election appeasement. The past two years have shown when he does that, it's just a sign that he continues to give up. I he doesn't immediately change course and start fighting, the real meaning of this election will be clear. That will be that it isn't the base hasn't given up on Barack Obama, he gave up on us after he had our votes. There is almost nothing I would like more than to be proven wrong on that. If he doesn't force through passage of campaign disclosure through the senate before, where it has been stuck along with more than four hundred other bills Nancy Pelosi got through the House, he may as well have announced his decision not to run again. Losing with him looks a lot like losing without him would. None of the major players in his administration should work for Democratic entities again, some of them are serial hope killers.

Friday, November 05, 2010

The Purge?

When I first heard of Keith Olbermann's indefinite suspension without pay for violating NBC's ethics policy, I didn't quite know what to think. Olbermann hosts Countdown, one of the rare breeds of liberal political programs, and his suspension comes right after the Republican election success and perhaps right before an important merger which has political undertones.

On the other hand, perhaps Olbermann did violate NBC's ethics policy and deserved to be punished for that violation. I was unable to find that ethics policy on the net. The initial problem:

Olbermann, who does not hide his liberal views, has acknowledged donations of $2,400 each to Kentucky Senate candidate Jack Conway and Arizona Reps. Raul Grijalva and Gabrielle Giffords during this election cycle.

NBC's ethics policy generally bars political activity, including contributions, without the approval of the president of NBC News, Steve Capus, according to a 2007 story on

"Anyone working for NBC News who takes part in civic or other outside activities may find that these activities jeopardize his or her standing as an impartial journalist because they may create the appearance of a conflict of interest," it says. "Such activities may include participation in or contributions to political campaigns or groups that espouse controversial positions. You should report any such potential conflicts in advance to, and obtain prior approval of, the President of NBC News or his designee."
It is hard to know if that quote about "controversial" positions comes from the ethics policy or not. If it does, it's certainly a weird world if giving money to regular Democratic candidates is viewed as controversial.

But all that didn't seem enough for a post. Until this:

Chris Hayes, tapped Friday by MSNBC to fill in for the indefinitely suspended Keith Olbermann as host of the prime-time political show "Countdown," gave money to two Democratic campaigns in recent years. Now, following that disclosure, MSNBC says Mr. Hayes won't get the gig after all.
IF the cause of canning Mr. Hayes is in his past donations, how do those violate NBC's ethics policy?

This does begin to smell like a purge of liberals and progressives altogether.

Meanwhile, on the other side of the political aisle:

Interestingly, Olbermann is not the only prominent TV host to contribute to a politician this cycle. Sean Hannity of Fox gave $5,000 to Rep. Michele Bachmann's PAC over the summer, as Salon reported at the time. In response to that reveleation, Fox told a Minnesota newspaper:

Fox News programming head Bill Shine said there's no company policy against talk show personalities giving to candidates, but said Hannity would disclose the donation when Bachmann appears.

"It always good to remember that he's not a journalist, he's a conservative TV host," Shine said. "If he wants to donate to a candidate, he certainly can."

Now, as it turns out, Hannity had Bachmann on after the donation and did not disclose it.
Different rules, you see.

Defining Feminism

Wiscon is a feminist science fiction convention. It recently posted this about its views on feminism:

Feminism is many things to many people, but one way to describe it is as a belief in the social, political, and economic equality of all. Feminism is part of a larger constellation of movements seeking social, political and economic equality for all people, regardless of race, ethnicity, class, sexual orientation, gender identity, creed, ability, status, or belief.

Since its inception, WisCon has worked to create a space for feminism and its consideration within the science fiction community. Feminism is vital to WisCon's identity. Feminism itself has grown and changed over the decades, and WisCon has reflected those changes, often imperfectly, just as those changes have been unevenly and imperfectly implemented in other feminist contexts.

At base, we recognize that a commitment to feminism means a commitment to social justice of all sorts-we might not be able to focus equally on every issue, but still we cannot pick and choose which people deserve justice and which issues we are more comfortable with. We are called to be true to our principles, even (and especially) when they are unpopular. WisCon's commitment to feminist science fiction is a commitment to ensuring that our future includes everyone, not just white, well-off, able-bodied, straight men.

This definition of feminism is not an uncommon one. My first reading of this

Feminism is part of a larger constellation of movements seeking social, political and economic equality for all people, regardless of race, ethnicity, class, sexual orientation, gender identity, creed, ability, status, or belief.
made me think that this type of feminism isn't about gender at all because gender is not listed among all the "regardless" characteristics. But a friend suggested that my reading is too literal. What do you think?

There's a backstory to this definition: Elizabeth Moon, a fantasy and science fiction writer, was initially invited to be a Guest of Honor at the convention. But when she posted an anti-Muslim rant on her blog the invitation was withdrawn.

It is possible to view the posting of this definition as a response to the backstory because the definition ends with:

We are called to be true to our principles, even (and especially) when they are unpopular. WisCon's commitment to feminist science fiction is a commitment to ensuring that our future includes everyone, not just white, well-off, able-bodied, straight men.
I found all this useful for the purpose of understanding the different definitions of feminism which motivate people in the movement (if there is such a thing as a feminist movement right now), and especially useful because it is the first written version of this very wide definition of feminism I have found. (Later I will write about this and the other definitions in more detail.)

But note that the quoted list of characteristics which should not restrict a person's opportunities contains at least two which may conflict with the others in the same list: creed and belief.

If my creed tells me that people who are, say, female or gay should NOT have equal opportunities, how will we balance giving equal opportunities to that creed AND those whom I might want to see subjugated or oppressed or even killed?

That may be nit-picking. More generally, I'm not sure that definitions of feminism should be grounded on the current pecking order in one particular country. White men are not necessarily a relevant category in other countries, for example, and a more abstract definition would work better than one which compares other groups to the group which may be most favored in the U.S.

Please Explain This To Me

As far as I know, the greatest concern voters expressed in the exit polls was the economy. Does this really truly mean that all those people who voted Republican want the ultra-rich to get tax cuts?

Because that's how the result has been interpreted, it seems:

A conciliatory White House said on Thursday it was willing to negotiate with Republicans on tax cut extensions, but Senate Republican leader Mitch McConnell took a hard line against compromises with President Barack Obama in a new Congress.

In the first possible policy shift since Democrats suffered heavy election losses two days ago, White House spokesman Robert Gibbs signaled Obama was open to talks on a temporary extension for the wealthy of Bush-era tax cuts that expire at the end of the year.

The fight over tax cuts looms as one of the biggest clashes since the election between Obama and Republicans, who will control the House of Representatives in the new Congress that convenes in January.
It could be. It could be that Americans who are unemployed or dreading unemployment or who have their houses foreclosed only wanted the very rich to pay low taxes.

But I doubt that very much. What I don't doubt at all is the immense arrogance of the Republican politicians. They simply take whatever they want and urinate on everything bipartisan:

So we want tax cuts for everyone? And what shall we cut to keep the government from going into more debt? According to the Republicans, military spending is a sacred cow and will not be cut and neither will current Social Security or Medicare expenses. That doesn't leave very much wiggle-room for cutting, certainly not the kind of cutting that would not include unemployment compensations:

Republicans signaled their determination to push the issue of an across-the-board tax cut extension.

"On the economy, we will work hard to ensure Democrats don't raise taxes on anybody, especially in the middle of a recession," McConnell said.
But it is just fine not to extend unemployment compensation in the middle of a recession? This guy is an immoral asshat.

Just to remind you of the facts: In 2006, the latest year I found statistics for, the top 20% of earners earned 61.4% of all income, the bottom 40% earned 9.6% of all income. In the same year, the top 1% of earners earned 21.3% of all income and the top 5% around 37% of all income.

Or put into simpler terms, out of every dollar paid out as salaries and wages 61 cents went to only one fifth of the workers, the ones at the top of the earning ladders, while two fifths of the workers, at the bottom of that ladder, had to share ten cents between them. One worker out of each hundred (on the very top of the earnings ladder) took away 21 cents out of that dollar, and these are the workers that Mr. McConnell worries about.

Friday critter blogging (by Suzie)

One good thing happened this Tuesday: Bank of America postponed the auction of my sister's house until next month.

Earlier, she had been distraught about her dogs, both large breeds, both from people who couldn't care for them.

She had no place to go but a small mobile home, where her son, his wife and their son live with their 9-year-old cat Ringo. Deacon, a 4-year-old white German shepherd, and Chloe, an 11-year-old St. Bernard, behaved like cats were their sworn enemies, whenever one would pass by.

She decided that she had to give away Deacon, but we couldn't find anyone to take him, even though he has a lovely disposition. No-kill nonprofits had run out of volunteers to foster dogs. She couldn't part with Chloe, who she's had since the Saint was a fur ball. But how could she risk Ringo's life?

She decided to bring both dogs to the trailer, but keep a close rein on them. To her surprise, Deacon and Chloe seem to have accepted that they are living in Ringo's home. Ringo has strokes of slobber on his fur where Chloe has licked him. Soon my sister hopes to place Deacon with a family friend.

The media wrote a lot about "foreclosure pets" a couple of years ago. But I'm guessing the problem has only worsened.

P.S. I'll be gone for the weekend, but yes, I especially love the photo with Chloe, even though the focus isn't great.

Thursday, November 04, 2010

The Trouble With Compromises, President Obama

We are going to get more compromises between the Obama administration and the Republicans, I hear. Now, compromises are often an excellent idea. But they have their problems:

1. Suppose that some voters want fast rail and bridge repairs and that other voters want nothing but a jungle growing around them. A compromise on those desires might mean just one fast rail somewhere and just a few bridges repaired. Then both voter groups would end up angry: One got too little and one got too much.

2. Suppose that one party regards me as an aquarium for embryos with few rights and the other party regards me as possibly a human being (when they happen to remember me). Then what will a compromise mean to me? That I'm only an aquarium on the odd-numbered days?

3. Suppose that one party is extremely right-wing in their platform and the other party something most world would consider moderately right-wing. Then what will a compromise give those of us who are at most moderately right-wing or even centrists or left-wing (in the sense of those terms used elsewhere)?

Election 2010 and Female Representation in Politics

On Numbers in the Congress

2010 was not the Year Of The Woman in American politics. The absolutely best possible outcome in the Congress would be that the percentage of women would stay at 17% overall (hi, all those countries with more women in their parliaments!). This is not the likeliest outcome. That is a drop in the percentage of women:

First and foremost, for the first time in 30 years, the number of women serving in the U.S. House of Representatives will likely decrease. A few contests remain too close to call. Democratic incumbents Melissa Bean and Gabrielle Giffords are fighting to hold onto their seats. Republican challengers Ann Buerkle and Ruth McClung are trailing by only a few thousand votes to the male incumbents they hope to unseat.

But only if women win all of these races (an unlikely scenario) will the total number of women serving in the House hold steady at 73.

The story in the U.S. Senate is similar. Depending on the outcome of Lisa Murkowski's write-in bid in Alaska, women will either continue to occupy 17 seats or they will drop to 16.
Those are not good news for the kind of feminists who believe that equal opportunity for women should ultimately be reflected in their equal presence in the corridors of power.

The reasons for this halt in the snail-slow increase of the numbers of women in Congress? It has to do with the Republican victories and the fact that the Democratic Party has more female Representatives and Senators than the Republican Party, never mind all that mama-grizzly speak. And Democrats lost seats to Republicans.

On Power In Congress

Even if the numbers of women remained the same, the power of women will decline. There are two reasons for this: First, Nancy Pelosi will no longer be the Speaker of the House. Second, women will lose leadership positions in the House which are based on seniority. Right now the Republican list for those contains no women's names.

This might be a good place to talk a little more about Nancy Pelosi. On most objective criteria she has been an excellent House Speaker: She has gotten the things done she was supposed to get done.

But if you surf the Internet you will find extreme animosity towards her person, and not only among those who disagree on her politics. My impression is that this animosity exceeds even that aimed against president Obama by those who hate him, and it's hard not to think that it is driven by sexism or misogyny.

Likewise, her skills seem to go unnoticed by even those who support her policies and her politics. I think this, too, is evidence of sexism.

Some Good News for Female Representation

Terry Sewell became the first African-American woman to be elected to Congress from Alabama. She is a Democrat. Several Republican women won state governorships:

Nikki Haley, for instance, became South Carolina's first female governor. Susana Martinez's win in the New Mexico gubernatorial race means that she will be the first Latina ever to occupy a governor's mansion.
I'm sure you can add to that list and also criticize its meaning.

What Does This All Mean?

I disagree with the idea that Americans in general voted women out on purpose. This election was a protest vote on whatever the voters interpreted as Obama's economic policies and it had little to do on women per se. At the same time, running-as-a-woman is especially hard in the two-party-ingrained-money-winner-takes-all system the U.S. has, and losing women with seniority isn't exactly helpful. That's what happened. And the anti-choice section most likely grew, too.

Send Me Money

Well, you could. George Soros will not. I e-mailed him when I heard that all liberal/progressive blogs are funded by him, but he didn't even bother to answer.

If I turned snake tail and started ranted and raving anti-feminist crap I'd be rich in about two minutes. Just saying.

There is a deeper point to these grumblings. Blogging is hard work (heh!) and on this side of the aisle mostly uncompensated hard work. I stayed up the election night, studying and learning and NOT writing on anything until I'd get right. Then of course I got sick from not sleeping and missed that one point in the 24/7 cacophony of opinions when I should have slotted mine in.

I should write some Echidne stuff that is not a complaint. But those times I'm out dancing with my muse.

Wednesday, November 03, 2010

Some Good News


It was a rough election night -- for democrats, for female politicians -- but it would have been profoundly worse if Colorado's "personhood" initiative had passed. Instead, it was rejected by a 3-to-1 margin -- the same margin that brought a similar measure defeat in 2008. This means that constitutional human rights will not be extended to "the beginning of the biological development," nor will Amendment 62 be allowed to restrict emergency contraception, fertility treatments and even treatments for miscarriages.
Not that I ever thought it would pass. Indeed, that one third fourth of the voters were willing to consider me as an aquarium for potential Embryo Americans is rather frightening. But I take my good news where I can find them.

More tomorrow on the impact of the elections on that endangered species: female US politicians.

And How About Those States?

Beyond the US Congress, the Republican victories on state level matter:

Republicans won a majority of U.S. governorships and made gains in state Legislatures, giving the party greater influence in redrawing congressional districts next year.

The party will control 25 Legislatures, including Ohio, North Carolina, and Minnesota, boosting their power in statehouses by the most since 1928, according to the National Conference of State Legislatures. Republicans won the House and Senate in Alabama for the first time since the end of the Civil War. They took governors' seats from Democrats in Michigan, Pennsylvania and at least nine other states.

Fifteen to 25 seats in the U.S. House of Representatives are more likely to remain Republican or switch from Democratic after redistricting as a result of the party's victory in the states, said Ed Gillespie, chairman of the Republican State Leadership Committee.

"We're going to end up protecting a lot as opposed to carving new ones," Gillespie said in a conference call with reporters.

Congressional seats will be reapportioned following the 2010 U.S. census. States with shrinking populations will lose seats, and those with growing ones will gain them. The party that draws the election map in each state will shape the political landscape for the next 10 years.

Redistricting, my sweeties, redistricting. The hand that holds the governor's pen might draw those lines! And clever lines guarantee maximum numbers of victories to the party that holds the governorship.

On the other hand, nobody in their right minds wants to be running state economies in the next two years. Whoever does it will be blamed and kicked out. That seems to be how the Election Principle works.

More Post-Election Hilarity

Mark Penn writes:

But 62 percent of the voters said that the economy was the key factor determining their vote. The polls show that the voters want tax cuts not tax increases, modification or repeal of health care, spending cuts and above all jobs.

With health care reform, cap and trade bills, and tax increases, President Obama got out of step with the voters. Why he didn't just kick the Bush tax cuts down the road a year and get them out of the election cycle is mystifying. Instead -- just like in 1994 -- the Democrats ran on the platform of increasing taxes for the wealthy, amplifying class warfare rather than ending it.
That is so sweet. One might even fail to realize that class warfare is something that is being carried out all the time. We pretend not to notice when the rich are winning, which they are, big time. Given the actual data, the rich ain't hurting and don't really need tax cuts. They've got like -- duh -- almost all the money.

Here's more:

But this does not mean that the voters want to gut Medicare, Medicaid, Education or the Environment. They don't want the government shut down; they want it fully open for business. Above all, they want jobs, and they are willing to vote for any party they believe may have the answer to the economy. Nancy Pelosi became the poster child of the left and became the target of the Republican right. They scored a bulls eye on her, but all glory is fleeting. The burden will be on the Republicans now to be a responsible handbrake -- if they again shut down the government they will lose the public's trust and support very quickly.

If President Obama wants to serve a second term, he will have to heed the call to recalibrate his administration. He was elected as a centrist. They want him to be one. He was elected as a youthful, vigorous candidate who would lead us into a more global future. They want him to do just that. He was elected to end, not amplify partisanship.
If laughter prolongs life, Mr. Penn just guaranteed me another millennium or so.

And guess what? If Nancy Pelosi didn't have girly parts she'd be thought of us one of the greatest Speakers of all times. Because she got stuff done. But her girly parts disqualify her and also make her the major target of hatred. None of that is at all new.

But honest, that bit about "ending partisanship!" Penn should be ashamed of himself, he really should. Obama's been going on and on and on about compromises and how he lurves the wingnuts and how nothing whatsoever can be done except by beginning from a compromise position and then ceding even more. And for that he gets called partisan. The people who refused to have anything whatsoever to do with him got the House handed to them. What does that say about "ending partisanship?"

Here's what I think: The election results had loads to do with unemployment figures, the housing crisis and the inept handling of the crisis in the financial markets. None of those were initially the fault of the Democrats but the fault of the Republicans. Still, the public memory is about six months and Americans do the same to their politicians as to their losing sports coaches: They kick them out.

And yes, the young and/or the African-American voters seem to have stayed home this year.

Elections: Echidne's Assessment

Here it goes: The Republicans won the House. What does this mean? According to Boehner:

"Our new majority will be prepared to do things differently," Boehner told supporters at a Washington hotel. "It starts with cutting spending instead of increasing it, reducing the size of government instead of increasing it, and reforming the way Congress works."
Contrast this with how the linked article begins:

Two years after Obama won the White House, voter anxiety about the struggling economy and discontent with his leadership fueled big Republican gains that toppled Democratic House Speaker Nancy Pelosi from power and ushered in a new era of divided government.
So "anxiety about the struggling economy" will result in more tax cuts to the super-rich, more cuts in education and public services, less unemployment compensation and more unregulated markets (such as the financial markets).

That, my friends, just might give the struggling economy the final knife thrust in the throat. But whatever rocks your boat.

I understand about midterm elections as a protest vote. Too bad that the only alternative for protesting now are the very people who got us into this shit in the first place. Or the mad hatters of the Tea Party.

And who knows? Perhaps the economy will rise up on its own, first on its knees and then on its feet. It's possible, though not terribly likely. Boehner's prescription makes it much less likely. What is more likely is gridlock.

I had an odd vision today while watching several election shows at the same time, the sound turned off.

I suddenly imagined myself as one of those white guys on television, opining about the election results, and I realized why it's only a game for them. In my vision I sat there! One of them! Spreading my legs slightly to give space for you-know-what, widening my shoulders and taking more space. I'd move my lips, people would listen and my bank balance would grow and grow!

It was fun. I also realized that this bearded Echidne had nothing to fear from any of the possible election consequences, nothing! No wonder those guys take all this as yet another football game. It's not real for them.

Tuesday, November 02, 2010

More Election Results

Some Teabaggers were elected. That's the Big News!!!!!!

At least according to the media. But Christine O'Donnell wasn't elected which means that the media must find something else to talk about.

Election Night

You can watch the results at a few sites, including Politico and the New York Times. We've already been Paulrandized in Kentucky, which should be fun and games for all.

Another site for results is TPM.

Monday, November 01, 2010

Today's Cartoon

Is this one.

It seems to be going viral.

Does it strike a bell with you? I've been on the Internets long enough to have experienced the topic of the cartoon, and I had something almost exactly that happen in meat-space more than once.

The first time it came as a shock, but after that I knew what to expect, although the two groups didn't consist of all men on one side and of all women on the other side and neither were they of equal sizes. The group on my side was much smaller and the group on the other side consisted not of only the very loud slobbering ones but of many who took that side as the ultimately more expedient one in the debate.

It isn't that I don't get the joke in the cartoon but it scrapes just a little bit too close to the actual experience.

Others may have different experiences?

Selling Me The Rope For The Noose They're Gonna Hang Me With

I must hand it to the Republicans: No other party manages to do the equivalent of that when it comes to those who are not super-rich voting for their own continuous enslavement. But it has been done in this country, through right-wing populism such as the Tea Party movement! My helmet goes off. Or would go off if the outcome wasn't so much pain and suffering.

But still. They have hit upon a winning formula, and it is this one:

Imagine a large number of people getting together and paying for the flour, sugar, eggs, cream, strawberries and so on to bake a gigantic celebration cake. Imagine, then, the finished cake and notice how most of the people are asked to share one thin slice while a small number hog all the rest of the cake. What happens next?

The cake hoggers (standing with 99% of the cake behind their backs) essentially tell the vast masses that someone else is trying to steal their thin piece! That's how right-wing populism works. It's those immigrants! It's those blacks! It's those upppity wimminz! It's those fags! They are the ones you need to fight to keep that thin cake sliver.

Not the people with most of the cake. This I have never understood. But that's how it goes.

The next stage is for the disgruntled masses to say that they will never ever again pay for any of the eggs or the sugar or the flour or the cream because that cake goes to the undeserving wimminz, blacks, illegal aliens, gays and so on.

So they don't want to have a government. Without the government they will be worse off but that doesn't enter the story. The story, after all, is orchestrated by that small number who are right now digging into the cake with their bare hands, smearing the cake all over the walls and laughing at the rest of us.

This Huffington Post piece tells a better story about the same phenomenon:

"Why don't more Americans -- especially those with low incomes advocate for greater redistribution of wealth?" the authors ask. Their answer: Americans drastically underestimate the disparity between the very rich and the rest of the population, are overly optimistic about social mobility, and there exists a disconnect between their attitudes toward inequality, their self-interest and public policy preferences.

Why do so many working class Americans hold these detrimental false assumptions. Why this disconnect between self-interest and voting patterns?


A look at the divergence in political thinking between Western Europeans and Americans provides much of the answer to why we lag so far behind.

* European workers define themselves as working class which facilitates awareness that their interests are opposed to those of the upper classes -- factory owners, bankers, financiers etc. Since WW2, the common wisdom in the U.S. has been that we have no working class. Factory workers, the folks who flip Hamburgers at MacDonald -- they're all middle class, so it's a small leap to becoming upper middle class. Someday, with hard work and a little luck, you, or your children, could be making millions, or at least hundreds of thousands -- true for a small percentage of working class Americans, but for the vast majority more than ever, a fantasy that discourages struggling for better conditions.
* The shift to "we are all middle class," coincided with virulent McCarthyism which lumped socialism and communism together -- no distinction made between murderous, totalitarian Communist regimes, and democratic socialist societies developing in Europe -- and turned both into un-American dirty words. (Right wingers' attacks on centrist President Obama as a "socialist" testify that it remains an attack word 60 years later.) Talk of working class versus capitalist class, common among European workers, became anathema -- such talk supposedly
created class conflict where none existed. But it does exist. With all due respect to our many responsible CEO's -- and wealthy Americans willing to pay higher taxes -- a vast majority care only about their bottom line.
* Unions, still influential in Western Europe, are committed to democratic socialism. Since the 1970's U.S. unions have been in sharp decline. Industry moving to un-unionized areas, employers -- with their lawyers -- using labor law to evade unionization, corrupt union leaders, have been factors. By the 1990's most workers -- especially blue collar -- were without power and without the political education that unions historically provided.
That's pretty much it. On some level American workers know that their anger is justified but the zillion social diversion mechanisms all throw smoke in their eyes and point out obvious culprits. Once again, all those other groups fighting for the same cake slice. Right now it's racism but if we had a Hillary Clinton administration it would be sexism that would run the engines of the opposition.

Sunday, October 31, 2010

Criminal Insanity Broder Beats The Drum For a War With Iran [Anthony McCarthy]

f you didn't need another reason to vote for a Democrat on Tuesday, the Dean of DC insider scribblers, David Broder, is
encouraging a third war, with Iran. Among other demented babblings, he thinks it would be good for the economy.

The officially most serious of the very, very serious DC inside hacks is trying to pressure Barack Obama to attack Iran.

The entire right is criminally insane and the media is doing their best to hand the country to them.

Vote Against Them Tuesday, They Are Already Killing People, That's no exaggeration [Anthony McCarthy]

You would think that the Oklahoma City Bombing, killing 169 people and injuring many more, would have been enough to wake people up, when the right talks about killing us, they really do mean it. And it's far from an isolated incident. From the No Nothings, to the Klu Klux Klan, the Skin Heads, various neo-Nazi and militia groups, etc. right wing violence, often aided and abetted by the corporate media and various governments and courts, constitutes the underside of American history. It should certainly not be news to any of us that when the right talks about attacking and even killing us, they have a documented history of doing just that. People belonging to racial and ethnic minorities should know that, gay folks should know that. Women should know it as well as anyone else.

Last week the finest working TV journalist, Rachel Maddow, narrated a short documentary about the murder of Dr. George Tiller, who was shot as he was ushering at his church. The documentary included clips of Bill O'Reilly, some of the more than 25 times he ranted against Dr. Tiller as a "baby killer" after he had already been shot by one anti-choice zealot and his clinic had been fire bombed. FOX hiring Juan Williams full time after NPR finally fired him is a petty lapse of journalistic ethics, O'Reilly still works there, still spewing hatred of other groups after one of his targets was assassinated. I'm sure just about everyone who reads this knows that the assassination of Dr. Tiller is just one in a long string of murders of womens' health care professionals, including staff, who have been killed, often after being targeted by right wing media and groups. Not to mention the firebombings and other forms of violence against facilities and the targeting of families and friends of those associated with the primary targets of this domestic right-wing terror campaign.

Glenn Beck, this week, has inspired death threats among his deranged fans, against a member of the League of Women Voters for the offense of trying to stick to the debate format the candidates had agreed to. They hadn't included the Pledge of Allegiance in the program. Glenn Beck decided to use her like O'Reilly used Dr. Tiller to fill his rant-a-thon for the Republican right and, on schedule, she and the League are receiving death threats. Whether or not those threats will become the fleeting headlines in another in the long, long line of right wing attacks and murders in America can't be known. The terror is a fact. FOX is a major venue for delivering that terror, it is a full time Osama bin Ladin video delivering those messages. And we are all the targets of that.

Just one of the other better known incidents of right wing violence was the head stomping by a member of the Rand Paul campaign, two men viciously attacking a woman, which FOX and other corporate media are minimizing in order to enhance the liklihood of a Republican takeover of the Senate. But the attack on Lauren Valle by Tim Profitt is only one example of the violence and threatened violence by Republicans and their allies on the right during this campaign. Those are the people who are encouraged by the media in this country, including what used to be legitimate media, and whose record of violence has not been made a major feature in this campaign by the media. It's the beneficiaries of the violence and the cover up who are poised to take control of the legislative branch of the federal government and many state governments unless they are stopped by the vote.

I'm certainly disappointed at the weakness of Barack Obama's first two years and the disgrace of the Senate. I think we all have ample reason to feel betrayed, to some extent and exasperated at their political ineptitude. But they aren't violently attacking us. I certainly don't want a Republican controlled Senate to be in a position to block the replacement for Ruth Bader Ginsburg and any other Supreme Court justices who might leave the bench in the next two years. That's just one of the important reasons to vote against them. There are a multitude of other ones. This election isn't about Barack Obama, it's about us.