Change we can believe in? Where??

2009-Jan-11

So far all of Obama’s picks for top posts have been establishment corporatists, panderers to the wealthy, Clinton retreads. I see no one who represents any change whatsoever, but simply placing those who created the problems into positions where they will just make things worse.

We are entering totally uncharted territory, a world that could make the Great Depression look like a mild ripple, and all we have is more of the same.

When those who “unorthodox” in some fashion, those who are minorities or politically or socially offbeat in some fashion, finally “make it” to be a public success (such as by becoming President), too often they feel a need to be seen as “normal” in every possible way except their own specific difference. They feell the need to be seen as part of the Establishment. And so they may be a small bit of change in making it themselves, but they are too fearful of rejection to dare bring real change.

I fear now that Obama is feeling the inner need for being accepted as “normal” and will break the entire promise of his campaign.

We hired him to bring change, not to merely be it.

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Hillary vs Michelle

2008-Jul-13

Over at Midwest Voices comes the complaint about “the ongoing girl-fight between white feminists and feminists of color.”

Women of all races and ages better find a way to understand one another and move ahead together as genuine equals.

My own personal vignette on the issue:

I spent three years of my academic career living in a co-ed dorm at Bryn Mawr College. In 1969 Bryn Mawr students (and some of us Haverfordian guys) started the “Bryn Mawr College Women’s Studies Group” which did many good things, including agitating to get a Womens Studies curriculum started at Bryn Mawr.

The college agreed, and in its infinite wisdom brought in Kate Millett the following year to conduct a Sociology of Women class and discuss her new book, Sexual Politics“.

A few minutes into the first class meeting, a Black woman, confused by the hate spewing from Kate’s mouth regarding all men, including Black men, and the need to avoid men at all costs, asked Kate, “Are you saying that we Black women have to choose between supporting our Black brothers and our white sisters?” And Kate answered, “Yes, you have to support your white sisters, and you cannot support your Black brothers. You simply have to choose.”

At that point every Black women in the class (pretty much every Black woman at Bryn Mawr at the time) walked out, never to been seen again in the Women’s Movement. And after Kate’s class, the Women’s Studies group lost all the credibility it had started with, and I have no idea how long it took to recover, if it ever did.

The women’s movement, at Bryn Mawr and elsewhere, was never able to come to grips with its Eleventh Commandment, “Thou shalt never speak ill of another feminist,” … no matter how far over the edge someone went. The white women in that class ought to have walked out to support their Black sisters, but they didn’t. They just sat there, in stunned befuddlement at the ironic fruits of their labors of the previous year.

And so, in their inaction, they allowed the forces of hate to become the public face of feminism.

That happened all too often over the years.

And apparently a vocal minority with the desire to make enemies rather than friends is still there. And so still is the desire of the many not to make waves within the movement by confronting the issue.


Moving to the Center?

2008-Jul-01

The “move to the center” by Barack Obama is all over the news. Bullshit. He’s not moving to any “center”. He’s moving to the extreme, as expected. He is moving away from his political roots as a community organizer to the same place all politicians go as soon as it looks like they may get to a position of power. He is moving to support the interests of the extreme. The extreme of wealth and power. He is moving to support the interests of the wealthiest and most powerful one tenth of one percent in our country, those whose annual income is over three million dollars a year.

And that is not the center, no matter if every politician at the national level claims it is. It is the extreme.

The center is the ninety percent of us who are employed but who are making less than one hundred thousand a year. And pretty much no one at the national level is moving toward that “center”.


Pennsylvania Primary

2008-Apr-22

I am amazed at the amount of bullshit the mass media are hoping we will swallow, much of it based on claiming that if Obama has problems winning the “big states” in the primaries, then he will have trouble winning them in November. Maybe they can’t do the simple math of comparing the number of Democratic primary votes cast to the number of Republican votes cast. And asking if the number of Democrats in these states who will be so bitterly disappointed that their candidate lost is close to the number of Republicans who have grown to hate the president they voted for and have no love for his replacement.

But no one in the mass media is looking at what should be obvious: Political campaigns are won on the ground.

Even in hot races, many voters have little clue about the issues. They vote on name recognition, and even more importantly on whether they think a candidate cares for them personally. Which is why candidates try to meet as many voters as possible in person, or alternatively through canvassers, or through the media…but the media is not as important as meeting person to person. This will be a campaign based, not on Clinton’s or Obama’s issues (which are damn near identical despite all claims to the contrary), but on their ground game, their ability to Get Out The Vote.

And it is an excellent chance to compare the DLC corporate Dem “swing-state” strategy of Rahm Emanuel versus the “50 state strategy” of Howard Dean. The “swing-state strategy” concentrates all time and effort on winning big “swing states” with a lot of electoral votes, where the winner take all votes in the Electoral College will win the presidency for the Dems. That contrasts with Howard Dean’s “50 state strategy” which tries to build up a Democratic base in every state to contest every election.

The “swing state strategy” is economical and efficient in using resources to win a presidential election, at the risk of ignoring the needs of the Democratic Party everywhere but those few swing states. The “50 state strategy” is a long term movement to build a Democratic majority that can last for decades, but at the risk of losing elections short term that might have been won with a bit more concentrated funding.

Hillary Clinton has been using the corporate Dem “swing state strategy”, concentrating on the big states. Obama has been using the “50 state strategy” and winning more delegates because he has won many small states. Problem is the “swing state strategy” assumes “winner take all” but in the primaries her swing states give proportional representation, so a small win in a big swing state may not give an advantage in delegates. So the Obama/Dean strategy seems like a winner in the primaries.

Hillary’s side is bitterly complaining (whining?) about being “outspent three to one” by Obama. This ignores the advantages she holds in the big swing states by virtue of her strategy (and totally ignoring all the blather about “identity politics”: male/female, white/black, and such). Her strategy concentrates all her energy in those big states such as Pennsylvania, where she has built up a huge organization, and so ought to win handily (and certainly started with huge leads). She also has the name recognition advantages of two terms of the Presidency, which is worth billions of dollars in free advertising. She also has the advantage of many years of machine politics, her contacts with machine Dems and unions, which are permanent sources of funding and volunteer labor.

But Obama has no such links to the Democratic machine. He is a complete newcomer. What he has, in addition to personal charisma, is the Dean Machine, the legions of young, mostly progressive, activists, who have been working ever since Dean’s candidacy to establish their own network, frequently outside the official Democratic machine. They have learned a lot about canvassing and phonebanking, and raising money, and building a political movement through the internet. When Dennis Kucinich and John Edwards gave up, many of the Deaniacs (and Kucitizens) migrated to Obama because they see Hillary as irretrievably wedded to the corporate DLC Dem machine.

The Pennsylvania primary today will give us a good chance to see how the orthodox Democratic machine and the progressive Dean machine fare when matched up against each other.


Barack and MySpace – not ready for prime time?

2007-May-02

As Kos says, “Shitting on your biggest supporters is generally not a wise thing to do.”

When Obama became a senator, one of his fans put up a fan site on MySpace, and after a couple years, got 160,000 supporters for Obama. The senator’s campaign was in daily contact with him, helping and giving advice. When it got too much, and he asked to be paid for the time it was starting to take, they asked him how much to take over his site. When they didn’t like the price he quoted, they decided to take it away from him for free.

After it hit the internet, and they started taking flack, his supporters started trashing the guy, calling him a cybersquatter and extortionist and whatever for the crime of having supported their guy as a volunteer and then wanting to get paid.

Well, here’s a clue. I volunteered for a political campaign too. And then I started getting paid. It happens. Often. Do they think we’re stupid enough not to know?

And he is not a cybersquatter. He never had any intent to deceive anyone, and the daily contacts and assistance from his campaign staff hardly support their idea he was trying to harm Obama with his site. If was a fan site. Every celebrity in the world has tons of fan sites, and the celebrities don’t try to take over the sites and accuse the site owners of cybersquatting. The celebrities know they wouldn’t exist without their fans and their fans’ support through such means as fan sites. Except for Obama’s campaign.

So they look really, really dumb and incompetent. If Barack can’t even negotiate a mutually satisfactory deal with one of his biggest supporters, how the hell is he ever going to survive in the biggest shark tank of them all, in the arena of international politics with folks who have been there for decades?


Which Side Are You On?

2006-Dec-18

As the Democratic Party tries to find its way and which values it promotes, one symbolically important controversy is whether Barack Obama is one of us or will he betray us and sell out to The Man? As noted by Jo Etta, David Sirota and Archpundit have been sparring over the issue. Mostly they are just throwing up paragraphs from his books and his speeches. Words don’t do it for me. Politicians are paid to be masters of words and quickly learn how to speak much and say nothing that will reveal their true values.

But actions are harder to conceal. Which is why I became very disenchanted with Obama when I kept getting emails from my dear Senator Jim Talent telling me about how he and Obama were cosponsoring another E85 ethanol bill whose main purpose (real, not stated) was to funnel our tax dollars into the coffers of Archer, Daniels, Midland (“We don’t make the food you eat. We make the food you eat more expensive!”), Cargill, and the factory farmers who are putting the small farmers out of business. I’m not impressed.

You’re gonna need to know how to sort out who is who. Don’t just listen to their words, watch their actions. Then, realize that everything they do will show whether they are pushing for the People…or for the Power. Mammon is a jealous god, and you can’t worship power and wealth and have any devotion left over for any other values. Obama and any number of supposed supporters of our values will have to show us where they stand. By their fruits we shall know them.

Which Side Are You On?
by Florence Reese

Come all of you good workers
Good news to you I'll tell
Of how that good old union
Has come in here to dwell

      (Chorus)
      Which side are you on?
      Which side are you on?
      Which side are you on?
      Which side are you on?

My daddy was a miner
And I'm a miner's son
And I'll stick with the union
Till every battle's won

They say in Harlan County
There are no neutrals there
You'll either be a union man
Or a thug for J.H. Blair

Oh, workers can you stand it?
Oh, tell me how you can
Will you be a lousy scab
Or will you be a man?

Don't scab for the bosses
Don't listen to their lies
Us poor folks haven't got a chance
Unless we organize.