Commentary on news and culture from a left wing perspective.

Thursday, October 30, 2003

Bush's ineptitude is creating opening for Democrats, but what are they actually saying? The Center for American Progress website provides a fascinating sample of pro-Wesley Clark dems. 'Internationalize nation-building', 'UN and NATO', 'targeted counterterrorism' the 'need to compete (sic) – and defeat – global terrorists by engaging in the weak and failing states that they seek to exploit. ' Nothing about Iraqi sovereignty, getting the US troops home, or ending the Israeli occupation. In fact, pretty hard to differentiate from Bush's policies.
Wow--Been a while since I've updated. I was busy with the anti-war mobilization to Washington last weekend. Not the most impressive demonstration I've ever attended. Opposition to the occupation isn't on firm footing in the US. Meanwhile, in Iraq, there's this, and this, and this. And let's not overlook this, even though the American media isn't going to dwell on it.

And now we read that Bush is rushing to put rapidly trained Iraqi security on the streets. Translation: meltdown. Flood the streets of Baghdad with poorly trained, heavily armed people of dubious loyalties, and you have a recipe for chaos and mass extortion (see Mexico City, where the conditions for the rule of law have been better for years).

Wednesday, October 22, 2003

A letter I sent to the New York Times (not printed, natch) about David Brooks column yesterday:

David Brooks tosses out some impressive statistics to illustrate the increasing power of the Republican party. But he ignores the 2000 Presidential election. In that contest, Al Gore received 48.38% of the vote to George Bush's 47.87. Ralph Nader's 2.74% of the vote was likely drawn from the left side of the political spectrum (on the other hand, together Pat Buchanan and the libertarian candidate drew less than 1% away from Bush), producing an outright majority between Gore and Nader. This compares well for the Democrats with any election since the 1960s. Instead of a thorough image makeover, it appears the Democrats simply need to figure out how to bring disenchanted Greens into the fold, as well as how to guarantee that the next election is a clean and fair one.

Sunday, October 19, 2003

Is branding, THE American corporate strategy of the nineties, hitting a dead end?

Thursday, October 16, 2003

I find myself still slightly ambivalent about the Pope. On the one hand, I can't stand the autocracy of the Catholic Church, and his reactionary positions on women's rights, gay rights, and liberation theology. On the other, today he said this: ""The war of the powerful against the weak has, today more than ever before, created profound divisions between rich and poor," the pope writes. "The poor are legion."

"Within an unjust economic system marked by significant structural inequalities," he says, "the situation of the marginalized is daily becoming worse. Today, in many parts of the world, people are starving, while in other places there is opulence.""

"The war of the powerful against the weak"--is there any op-ed page in the US that would publish such language used by any other figure?

Wednesday, October 15, 2003

"At least 30 are suspected of selling arms to Iraq before War". At least two are known to have sold arms to Iraq before the war--Reagan and Rumsfield. Shit just writes itself.
How in the world did this excellent article by a Bolivian peasant organizer get on the New York Times Op-Ed page?

Tuesday, October 14, 2003

California grocery workers on strike--are transit workers in LA next?
Dennis Kucinich announces for president. If elected, he will withdraw the US from NAFTA and the WTO. Even in what passes for the far left of the spectrum, we find the same old the-US-will-do-whatever-it-wants, treaties-be-damned arrogance.

Monday, October 13, 2003

Just a quick note on a story that's getting too much play on various blogs. First: prescription pain killers are, along with alcohol and nicotine, one of the major categories of drugs that are heavily abused in this country. They are largely abused by middle aged people like Rush Limbaugh, so they get little attention compared to relatively harmless marijuana use among teenagers. Secondly, the more respectable the people (and the drug pushers are) the more the abuse is defined as beyond their controls. People who abuse alcohol have a 'disease', 'alcoholism'. People who abuse pain killers are victims of good doctor's best intentions, since these pills are allegedly so addictive (Tobacco is no longer a respectable industry, so it takes all the blame for the victims of tobacco use, who are too respectable and varied to insult). Meanwhile, people who abuse crack would never have tried it in the first place if they weren't bad people. If crack dealers were a multibillion dollar 'respectable' industry like alcohol and prescription drugs, and the users were middle class white men, we'd hear a very different story.

Saturday, October 11, 2003

In a sinister twist, the US government is seeking to indict Greenpeace for acts of civil disobedience committed by its members.
Mike Davis on what the election of Schwarznegger (hailed in the New York Times as a "governor-elect who has already emerged as an articulate, media-savvy and earnest figure who does not play by the conventional rules of politics") was really about: racism and sadistic dreams of omnipotence.

Friday, October 10, 2003

Who is fighting terrorism more effectively, the US or Indonesia?

Thursday, October 09, 2003

Why get cardiac surgery in the US when you can get the same thing in India for one fifth of the price? Outsourcing of service jobs has barely begun.

Wednesday, October 08, 2003

Bush looses his second big one at the UN. And California elects a racist, sexually abusive fan of Adolf Hitler as governor.
Mexico is increasingly standing up to the US (and that's under a conservative, former Coca-Cola executive President).

Tuesday, October 07, 2003

Michael Moore is a good guy, but sometimes he can be such a bozo. In the New York Times, Janet Maslin quotes him as saying ""We (liberals or Democrats, not completely clear) have a namby-pamby way of saying things," he writes, along with "a hoity-toity view of religion." He asks readers to recognize that "this arrogance is a big reason the lower classes will always side with the Republicans.""

Those who identify themselves as lower class and working class nearly always vote heavily Democratic. In 1996, the most recent year for which the general social survey has data online, 64% of the lower class voted for Clinton, while 58% of the working class did.

Even in the 1984 landslide debacle of Reagan over Mondale, 58% of the lower class voted for Mondale (the working class voted for Reagan, 52% to 45% for Mondale). Among the Middle and Upper class, it was over 60% in support of Reagan.

I actually suspect Moore's failure to recognize this stems from being out of touch with opinions among African Americans, who make up a lot of the lower and working class, and have never been so put off by the 'namby pamby' style that they've voted Republican.

Friday, October 03, 2003

Leftists often go on about how corporations are the problem, but I have to agree with this 'titan of American capitalism': the problem is the capitalists who loot corporations and have also succeeded in corrupting pension funds and institutional investors who should be challenging that looting (as well as all the other heinous things corporations do). In fact, that could be a major goal for the left--let the people take control of pension funds and institutional investors--supposedly we're the ones who 'own' them.

Thursday, October 02, 2003

Excellent critique of Bush's economic plan for Iraq--published on the businesss page, not the op-ed page of today's Times.

Wednesday, October 01, 2003

Todd Purdum says the justice probe into the CIA leak marks a new turn for the Bush White House, which sold itself as embodying integrity. Well, maybe. But only because of the complex laxity of the US media and the Democrats. Both have given push a free ride, especially compared to Tony Blair, on the weapons of mass destruction hoax. Nor should we forget Cheney's stonewalling on the energy policy commission. Or Enron. Or giving away Iraq to Bush's friends...

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