Tuesday, September 30, 2008

Maron V Seder - Premiere!

Finally... AirAmerica is attempting to correct some of their worst mistakes when they pulled first Marc Maron and then Sam Seder off the air. Not giving up, Sam and Marc created their own online show, broadcasting as they could like a pirate station. Now, it seems the greenlighters at AirAmerica have come to their collective senses, and Maron v Seder is a regular broadcast affiliated with the station. With better lighting and technical equipment, its only gotten better.

The show premiere's tommorrow, Oct. 1st at 3PM.

Check out Maron v Seder and enjoy.

Good luck fellas!


Saturday, September 27, 2008

Putin Rears His Head!

"And you want to be my latex salesman."--Jerry Seinfeld

Seriously! She tried to defend that? Seriously! And what do we get...pure incoherence. What? That picture alone doesn't say enough about the GOP's bizarre VP pick? Okay. Try the video below for laughs...


Wednesday, September 17, 2008

Socialism- American Style

"We're all Socialists Now!"

That was the tongue in cheek declaration of Air America's Sam Seder, as he blogged about the AIG-FP bailout that shook up Wall St. This after the Fed decided to rescue the flailing insurance giant to the tune of $85 billion--right out of the tax-payers pockets. All of this following on the heels of the Bear Stearns and Freddie Mac & Fannie Mae bailouts. It seems after years of decrying regulation, of blathering on about socialized medicine and the need to keep the free market "free"--America has decided that socialism, at least for the rich during a crisis, ain't such a bad idea.

As John Amato over at Crooks & Liars put it:

Conservatives tell individuals to pick yourself up off the floor and do something with your life you welfare queen. Well, when it happens to Wall Street—the corporations come begging to us and get bailed out. This is all very complicated stuff, but it proves the fallacy of conservatism. There are times when the government should step in, but for conservatives that should never happen for the average worker. Only rich fat cats like Carly Fiorina should ever be graced with help.

Say, weren't there some geniuses a short while ago saying we should toss over social security to these guys?

The front of the NY Sun summed it up in a stark headline--America Nationalizes AIG Group. Nationalization, that evil destroyer of free markets and used by godless "dictators" in Venezuela and Boliva, has come to America. Only, unlike the socialist experiments in Latin America that seek to distribute wealth to the poor, America's nationalization seeks to keep the economic status quo churning on. Though if the 450 point plunge the stock market took at news of AIG's bailout is any predictor, may be the status quo ain't buying it.

Writing in the Christian Science Monitor, Paul Grier noted:

The great financial shakeout of 2008 – one of the most dire US fiscal crises of modern times – is likely to change permanently the relationship between Wall Street and Washington....a long period of Washington laissez faire toward financial markets may well be at an end. The details of regulation could be different, depending on which candidate wins the White House this fall. But more US oversight seems inevitable.

If that nasty "regulation" is making a comeback no matter who gets into the oval office, it will be a paradigm shift for at least one of them.

As Tom Teepen notes in the Seattle Post Intelligencer:

Talk about your battlefield conversions. With financial bombs going off all over the landscape, John McCain -- with rare exceptions a lifelong foe of government regulation -- has seen the light. Where just last March he was telling The Wall Street Journal, "I am always for less regulation," now he is promising, though without saying just how, to end the "reckless conduct, corruption and unbridled greed" of Wall Street.

The Washington Post takes note as well:

A decade ago, Sen. John McCain embraced legislation to broadly deregulate the banking and insurance industries, helping to sweep aside a thicket of rules established over decades in favor of a less restricted financial marketplace that proponents said would result in greater economic growth. Now, as the Bush administration scrambles to prevent the collapse of the American International Group (AIG), the nation's largest insurance company, and stabilize a tumultuous Wall Street, the Republican presidential nominee is scrambling to recast himself as a champion of regulation to end "reckless conduct, corruption and unbridled greed" on Wall Street.

So McCain goes straight from anti-regulation to a supporter when the political wind blows his way--and hopes no one notices. For his part, Obama did not begin talking about the effects of derregulation until earlier this year. But unlike McCain he did not vote consistently against regulation. Nor does he come with the baggage of actually being the guy who helped do away with regulation across the board.

The question here of course is, since the people are now the proud owners of these financial institutions, what are we going to get from this? The answer is, likely nothing. But it does show us one thing--that whole talk about the magical free market has been proven devoid of reality.

Economist and writer Max Fraad Wolff sums it all up nicely:

I mean, we’re watching the death of the free market ideology. It hasn’t been announced. But increasingly, the policies, the way we talk, the way we make legislation all but formally abandons the notion that the market can do it right, the government will do it wrong, and that government intervention is a bad idea. It turns out that government intervention is a bad idea, unless you want and need money from the government, in which case it becomes a fine idea, and bring on the government cash. So it might be unfortunate when somebody who’s having a tough time in their life wants a free piece of cheese, but when a bunch of executives want a free $100 billion, it turns out that’s the kind of government intervention we can all get behind, we can all believe in.

So does this mean Milton Friedman and his "sound" economic theories are dead?

Not. A. Chance. That ideology is now taken almost as an article of faith by too much of the financial and economic world. It will probably take a few more body blows before they admit the inherent flaws of an unrestrained free market. Unfortunately, the rest of us will have to go along for the ride.


Tuesday, September 16, 2008

The Angriest Left

This past weekend, I decided to attend an event held by the Indypendent at Cooper Union in Manhattan featuring some of my favorite writers. Titled, "The 2008 Election: What’s Really At Stake?" it was headlined by authors Naomi Klein, known best today for The Shock Doctrine, and Jeremy Scahill, who has gained fame for his groundbreaking BlackWater: The Rise of the World's Most Powerful Mercenary Army. Lesser known writer Roberto Lovato and Malia Lazu, executive director of Harry Belafonte’s The Gathering, rounded out the panel which was moderated by radio host Laura Flanders. What I was treated to was an illuminating insight into the current mood of the progressive left, that place I warmly call home, and some of it wasn't so pretty.

I didn't exactly walk in to this with blinders. I tune in to enough progressive media to gauge the mood. For quite a while now I've noticed that much of the left is mad, very mad. And the focus of its ire seems to be sharpened and aimed at--Barack Obama.

From the moment I arrived I knew there might be trouble, when I was greeted by a Naderite and handed the usual literature. I don't really have a problem with Ralph Nader. I actually admire him, my favorite Unreasonable Man. I've never bought into the fallacy that he cost Al Gore the 2000 Election--at least singularly. Gore's inept handlers and Bush's theft of the Florida vote was the real story behind the "loss" of 2000. I've even signed those petitions to get him on the ballot. S o I'm all for equal opportunity and time for Nader--I just have no intention of voting for him, not in a year when so much is at stake.

And that night I wasn't the only one. The first up to bat before the packed Cooper Union crowd was Roberto Lovato. A gifted writer on issues of immigration rights and Latino politics, Lovato was unfortunately not having his best speaking moment. His speech was often a ramble and his constant use of slogans like Movimiento Latina America was a bit overdone. Most of the audience drifted away as he spoke, trying to follow some of his more disjointed thoughts.

Still, I found a kindred spirit in Lovato. As a person of color on the left, he had strong criticisms of Sen. Barack Obama--namely on his backwards attitude towards democratically elected leaders in Venezuela and Bolivia that form part of the new Latin America. And I couldn't agree more. I scowl each time I hear Obama parroting the sharp reactionary rhetoric that has defined America's imperialist relationship with it's southern neighbors for well over a century. That's certainly far from the "change" I want to believe in. However after ticking off all those problems, Lavato revealed that his own parents (currently out of the country) would be returning to the US just in time to cast their vote--for Barack Obama. He himself declared to the crowd, "we must elect Barack Obama." And that's when things got ugly.

There were boos and even hisses. (Who hisses? Honestly!) Under the growing murmers of discontent, Lavato seemed to waver, stumbling over his words but attempting to persevere. A more hostile audience member yelled out "Double-Talk!" with a bitter tone usually reserved for the right, when discussing "traitors" and "commies." When Lavato had finished there were smatterings of applause from the crowd--not sparse, but certainly not very strong. It was hard to tell if this was done out of disagreement, or fear of voicing dissent.

After Lavato's initial speech, it became evident this was not a place to proudly display your "Obama For Yo Mama" button. In fact, Barack Obama--and his many faults--dominated much of the discussion. Though of few words, Laura Flanders could barely conceal her contempt for what she derided as "Hype"--a mockery of Obama's "Hope." Naomi Klein tried to offer the crowd a more moderate approach, taking Obama to task yet urging them to remember that staying true to progressive issues was what mattered most. One got the sense that Klein leaned towards Obama, but seemed to choose her words carefully. Activist Malia Lazu sidestepped most of the Obama politics altogether, instead speaking of her attempts to energize youth. But when it came to taking Obama out to the woodshed and administering the whip, no one did it better than Jeremy Scahill.

If red meat can be thrown to a progressive crowd--maybe a better metaphor would be spicy tofu--Scahill tossed it out in pails and buckets. From Obama's troubling talk of expanding the Afghan war to his refusal to pledge the end of mercenaries in Iraq, Scahill left no stone unturned in his scathing critiques. And the audience ate it up. There was clapping and cheering, each time he let Obama "have it." From the way he repeatedly delivered, I suspect he enjoyed it as much as they did. As I sat there witnessing this spectacle I arrived at an observation--there's a black guy from Chicago that many on the left sure don't like. And I'm not sure what to make of it.

It's not that I don't agree with Scahill, or Klein or much in the crowd on basic issues of politics, economics, social justice, foreign policy, etc. Neither do I defend Barack Obama from their criticisms. I've certainly leveled my fair share and continue to do so. What I did find troubling was the intensity with which it was being doled out, and the lack of balance.

I've been around the left before during presidential elections, in 2000 and 2004. Certainly there was alot of heat towards Gore and Kerry. But the dislike for Obama seems to move beyond that, entering into the cynical, the mocking and at times, perhaps, the personal. Obama is not just disliked for being another establishment Democrat, he's abhorred for suggesting perhaps that he might be more than that. And there are those on the left who feel they must deconstruct him at every given opportunity. Listening to some of the speakers, namely Scahill and to a lesser extent Klein, you'd almost forget there were these guys named McCain and Palin in the race. The GOP candidates were mentioned and critiqued, but they took up a minority of the time. The bulk of their ire was reserved for Obama.

So for what it's worth, below is my lengthy take--or perhaps speculation--on what may be fueling this anti-Obama fervor on much of the left, and the many dynamics of power, identity and politics it might represent.

The Arrogance Factor

There is a strong sense of indignation and arrogance on the left when it comes to Obama--indignation that some progressives would support his candidacy and an arrogance that assumes anyone who does so is woefully duped. Like the right, some on the left seem to be put off by Obama's "hype" and his seeming "celebrity"--something many of them have been unable to bring alive in their own independent candidates. To counter this Obama-mania, they have taken up Obama-obsession. Teasing out the "real" Obama has become a favorite passtime, as it's assumed we simply must not know. In actuality however, many of us do know. We're quite up to speed. There's no need to drum it home to us each time. The real problem isn't our lack of understanding of Obama's full political spectrum, but rather the inability of some to fathom that we may be very informed and still cast a vote for a candidate of whom we are also heavily critical. Call it nuanced thought.

The Death of Pragmaticism

Speaking of nuance, when did some on the left become so entrenched in ideology that strategy no longer mattered? That's not the only way to be a progressive. The Nation endorsed Barack Obama, while at the same time remaining critical of his shortcomings. The strategy is fairly simple to comprehend. Given that someone is going to be president, and this person will greatly affect the future policy--both domestic and foreign--of the country, it is key that progressives endorse a candidate closest to their position. This person won't be perfect, but he or she has to be someone who can be pushed by progressives. It may not be easy to push them; it might get ugly. But after 8 years of a presidency that listens to no one, a more open face--and open ear--in the administration certainly can't hurt.

The Honest Lie

What was most disheartening to watch that night was the amount of ideological rhetoric that sailed through the air--things that sounded very lofty but had little to do with reality. The biggest honest lie that was repeated and applauded was that there would be "no difference" who won on Nov. 4th. Really? Does anyone actually believe that, or does it just sound nice to say? I mean has anyone taken time to read the McCain and Palin platform? From the religious fundamentalism to the threat of overthrowing Roe v. Wade to the belligerent neocon foreign policy, the GOP ticket is frightening. Am I vehmently opposed to Obama's talk of expanding the war in Afghanistan and deeply troubled by Biden's cozying up to Georgian leaders? You bet! Do I think he's light years away from dismantling the neoliberal global economic order--sadly, yes. But at the same time, I'm scared witless of almost casual talk of "war with Russia" and a guy who cheerfully sings, "bomb, bomb, bomb Iran." The Bush Doctrine, even when wielded by those who don't know about it, is dangerous. I agree, anyone who thinks that Obama will come in and put an end to America's imperial-like foreign policy establishment over night is naive. However, to say there is no difference between him and what McCain-Palin might offer is delusional. And to say so when you know better, for the sake of rhetoric, is downright cynical to boot.

Choosing Your Battles

Let's be clear once again. There will be someone in the White House in Jan of 2009. And millions of people here and abroad will be affected by this. I'm deeply opposed to Obama's tough talk of a "good war" in Afghanistan that may kill more civilians; and I want a deeper committment to pull out of Iraq and help rebuild what we've destroyed. But there are more battles to fight in this world. If you want a simple case, look at the Global Gag Rule, which restricts and constricts foreign funding for abortion. In 2001, one of this first acts of George Bush Jr was to reenact the GGR. With the stroke of a pen, he directly and indirectly stripped away many of the medical reproductive avenues for poor women world wide. Today, because of the GGR, unsafe abortions have risen as a leading cause of death in countries from Kenya to Nigeria. The Democratic Platform on reproductive rights is all but guranteed to repeal this. There are dozens of issues, from the environment to education to the minimum wage, where even an imperfect Democratic leadership stands far beyond the regressive policies of the GOP--especially one dominated by the extreme fundamentalist and hawkish wing of the party. In 1999 the left was fighting against the global economic order, forcing even the insular WTO to pay attention for a few days in Seattle. Since then, under an adventurous neoconservative administration and a reckless domestic shock doctrine, the left has found itself fighting on all fronts. The few gains made over the past decades have been rolled back, and we're fighting battles that we thought we'd won years ago all over again. It doesn't seem to take a genius to realize loosening up some of those fronts would help the left better focus its much needed energy--unless we are more concerned with the romantic notion of being insurgents instead of practical progressive policy.

Dare we say...Race?

It was quite a sight to sit back and watch mostly white faces scoff at a Latino activist (Lovato) declare his support for the first African-American presidential candidate. Of course these were white liberals, and though Malcolm X warned of smiling foxes, I'm not going to evoke the specter of "racism" here. But I must ponder on the place whiteness and white privilege play in this Obama fixation. Is the whiteness of the left showing and do they even notice? Does Obama's skin color, his popularity among an oppressed group that is usually seen as an ally--or someone to preach to--vexing the left? Is there some disappoinment that he's not living up to white leftist expectations of "blackness," because, as Ralph Nader put it, he's allegedly "talking white" and not cracking down on the "exploitation in the ghettos?" Who exactly is being referred to when leftist critics speak of how Obama's "hype" has "duped" his supporters? Is this in part some dig at the supposed "gullibility" of that same economically exploited black community--which supposedly includes all the ghettos? Just whose image of blackness here is being projected onto whom? To be fair, Obama has his biting critics from the black left as well. Glen Ford at Black Agenda Report no doubt heads that PAC; he is sharp, cutting and takes no prisoners. But among black journalists he is a distinct minority, and doesn't invoke images of white liberal paternalism. Do I know for certain that race is somehow at play here? No. I'm just venturing a guess. But more important, I'm putting forth what is not an uncommon perception--one that our white friends on the left should at least be made aware.

What's the Strategy?

The obsession some of the left have placed in opposing Obama lie greatly at their own inability to form a real strategy. Again, I dig Nader, and think he should at least be allowed into the early debates. But his reasons, which he gives often, for running for President don't always add up. Much the same goes for the Green Party and others. Mind you, I believe they certainly have the right to run, and there's something monopolizing about this two-party system. But many of these guys seem to be putting the carriage before the horse. Fact is, they don't have the ability to win any Presidential election--only to serve as spoilers that remind the parties they lean towards of their anger. And that may be a good thing. But if they really want a mass movement to take them seriously, why not start out at the local level more forcefully? Why not push themselves into schoolboards and council seats and all those places at the grassroots they often work at? Get their members elected to Congress. And then, when there's a party that looks like it has the support of the people, run for the oval office. But asking many of us, in an important election year, to cast a symbolic vote, is a bit much.

Know Your Enemy

If the Democratic Party and Barack Obama are "enemies" of the left, then there may not be a strong enough word that describes the GOP and the right-wing. Though there's certainly a chasm of thought and action between us and the Democrats, there are also enough links. Whether it's the rights of women or global warming, the Democrats may not be where much of the progressive left wants them to be--but we are all certainly in the same larger geographical ideology. When it comes to the GOP, whose current incarnation hosts a big tent of religious fundamentalists, rabid war-hawks old Dixie-crats, homophobia, Creationists, trickle-down-economic theorists, and other aspects of the "unrestrained id," we don't even share the same ideological planet. Right wing ideologues like Michael Savage compares liberals to the "HIV virus" and Glenn Beck fantasizes about killing Michael Moore. In the realm of electoral politics the left (inside and outside of the party) may be the unwanted children of the Democrats, or perhaps its Dutch Uncle, who criticize and forcefully push them (with varying degrees of success and failure) to take on more progressive policies. To many on the right, we shouldn't even exist.

The moral of the story here isn't to get people to run out and vote for Obama. It's your right to exercise as you wish. Nor am I advocating, as some do, that we mute our criticisms during the election and save them for later. Speak up now and be heard! What I am critical of is the single-sided attacks by some on the left on one presidential candidate, that at the same time ignores the dangers his opponent poses. There is a difference to choose from in this election. It may not be anywhere as sharp as we'd like, but it's a bit of a stretch to deny it nevertheless. In past weeks the two major parties held their respective conventions. Both were corporate sponsored light shows, where the powerful gathered to push their partisan rhetoric. One featured a broad cross-section of America's diversity; the other seemed to show the older angry vanguard of white America, struggling to remain relevant. The DNC wasn't exactly friendly to the more heavily progressive left. They cornered off where protestors could gather, hoping to keep them out of the spotlight, and oversaw the arrest of hundreds. But the RNC took it to another level. From pre-emptive raids to the creation of a police-state that brutalized even reporters, the GOP showed they weren't simply trying to curtail protest, but ruthlessly crush it. Later this Fall, the candidates from one of those parties will be elected into the White House. We on the left will continue our struggle, no matter what happens. But we might want to decide now, which one we want to go up against.


Sunday, September 14, 2008

Latin America Strikes Back!

America's cold war in Latin America heated up this week. On Wednesday, the Bolivian president Evo Morales expelled the US ambassador Phillip Goldberg, accusing him of supporting revolt and riot in several rebel states. As Morales put it, the expulsion was part of the indigenous peoples' rejection of "the American empire." Morales, himself an an Aymara Indian, came to power in a landslide victory in 2006--making him the first indigenous President in 470 years in Bolivia. With his moves to support the poor and nationalization of Bolivia's all-important gas reserves, he quickly found himself surrouned by enemies--both within and without the country. This past August, wealthy (whites and lighter-skinned mestizos) interests in the eastern states attempted to secede from the country, forcing Morales to undergo a national referendum--which he won handily, getting a vote of confidence from over 67% of Bolivians. Not content with democracy, the rich rebels have decided to create disorder in the hopes of destabilizing the government, blowing up pipelines and killing government supporters.

It is a tactic that is all too familiar in Latin America, where leftist governments--even when democratically elected--are plagued by often wealthy interests and right-wing paramilitaries. Venezuela is a similar case in point, where members of the mostly white and lighter skinned upper class created strikes to paralyze the Hugo Chavez government. When that did not work, the television and radio--also owned by wealthy interests--boldly endorsed a coup hatched by their fellow right leaning cohorts. In an act of "people power" however, masses of poor people took to the streets, restoring Chavez back into power. It was a counter-coup, driven by the poor. Given its blood-stained history in Latin America in the past hundred years, the US is often seen as directly behind these events. Their role in the Chavez coup has been heavily suspected. And when not pushing for the coup, they are usually found to have direct or indirect ties with the wealthy right-wing interests.

Now it seems, Latin America is striking back. In the wake of Bolivia's explusion, Venezeula followed suit and expelled its US ambassador. Other regional countries, from Nicaragua to Ecuador to Honduras, while not doing the same, have voiced their support for Bolivia. The US retaliated by expelling the diplomats of the "offending countries," and has threatened to put them both on a drug-trafficking list. Meanwhile, Venezuela, in a direct dig at the US, plans joint military exercises with Russia in upcoming months.

Where this goes next, will be something to watch.

Some articles on the conflict:

Revolt of the Rich
Despite winning last month's recall election, President Evo Morales faces escalating violence from protesters who don't want to share the nation's natural-gas wealth.

A Matter of Morals, Not Morales: Respect Bolivia's Democracy!
As an American and an expert on US-Venezuela relations, the events unfolding in Bolivia are simply too familiar to escape my notice. The tactics used by opponents of President Chavez during Venezuela's short-lived coup in 2002 are currently being replicated in a "civic coup" in neighboring Bolivia that is designed to undermine the democratic government of Evo Morales.

Bolivia’s Elites Seek a Media Coup
Bolivia's popular movements are attempting to use democracy and a legitimate government to advance an agenda of sovereignty, greater equality, and development. Their opponents, led by several governors of the wealthier provinces in a part of the country called the "media luna", are trying to use violence and sabotage to stop that agenda by provoking a civil war and chaos. The challenge to Bolivia's government and its president Evo Morales is to stop the violence without allowing the provocation to succeed. In meeting that challenge, Morales has the support of most of the Latin American governments. His opponents have the support of the United States government.

Morales Adherents Gunned Down in Pando
Bolivian regional commissioner arrested after peasant supporters of the president are murdered. "We scattered, since we had no way to defend ourselves," explains Rodrigo Melina, an escapee from the carnage. "People were throwing themselves in the river and it was unbelievable: they machine-gunned those who tried to cross." Since the beginning of the week, chilling testimonies proliferate and they all tell how a group of peasants faithful to President Evo Morales, armed only with sticks, fell into an ambush laid by armed men last week, about 30 kilometers from Cobija, capital of the Amazonian Pando region (northern Bolivia).


US Eyes Bolivia's Morales as Radical Who Has Nation's Ear

VILLA TUNARI, Bolivia - To the Bush administration, Evo Morales is a drug-funded leftist Bolivian congressman who's turned the support of coca growers into a political movement that threatens the country's wobbly democracy. To millions of Bolivians, he's a hero who grows in stature with every kick from Washington.


Saturday, September 13, 2008

That Race Factor...

Barack Obama's greatest hurdle to reaching the presidency is that he's black.

Hey, I didn't say it--TIME magazine did. But I will concur.

No more beating around the bush and tip toeing through the tulips. From Michelle Obama being derided as everything from a militant to a baby-mama, to her husband's depiction as a radical secret Muslim bent on pulling a fast-one on America, RACE has been all over this campaign. The election has tightened up in recent days not because Obama can't "reach" voters or because McCain and Palin have come up with some new amazing strategy. Rather its because large swaths of white voters, who were going to opt out of the race are now being mobilized to show up and vote against the black guy. Call it the "racism vote" or the "invest in whiteness" vote. Whatever you want to name it, the McCain campaign is secretly counting on it showing up at the polls on Nov. 4th.

Race has been the most danced around topic in this entire campaign. Barack Obama himself has had done much of the dancing. When the corporate media has a meltdown freakout at hearing the pent up anger of black America, he's forced to give this generation's "Gettysburg Address" on race. But when his campaign headquarters are vandalized throughout the nation with racial epithets or sitting US Congressmen call him "Uppity," he has to bury the story--fearful that in sticking up for his dignity he might come off as the "angry black guy"

It's a bizarre arrangement where in our upside-down world, it is white America that gets worked up at the first mention of "racism" or "race"--especially from the mouths of its victims. There's even a mocking name for it--"playing the race card." So Barack Obama must endure this double-standard, where he must take thinly veiled or even blatant racial attacks on the chin, grinning and bearing it, while at the same time attempting to make white voters feel comfortable.

Heckuva predicament.

Tim Wise has some thoughts on it...

This is Your Nation on White Privilege

By Tim Wise


For those who still can’t grasp the concept of white privilege, or who are constantly looking for some easy-to-understand examples of it, perhaps this list will help.

White privilege is when you can get pregnant at seventeen like Bristol Palin and everyone is quick to insist that your life and that of your family is a personal matter, and that no one has a right to judge you or your parents, because “every family has challenges,” even as black and Latino families with similar “challenges” are regularly typified as irresponsible, pathological and arbiters of social decay.

White privilege is when you can call yourself a “fuckin’ redneck,” like Bristol Palin’s boyfriend does, and talk about how if anyone messes with you, you'll “kick their fuckin' ass,” and talk about how you like to “shoot shit” for fun, and still be viewed as a responsible, all-American boy (and a great son-in-law to be) rather than a thug.

White privilege is when you can attend four different colleges in six years like Sarah Palin did (one of which you basically failed out of, then returned to after making up some coursework at a community college), and no one questions your intelligence or commitment to achievement, whereas a person of color who did this would be viewed as unfit for college, and probably someone who only got in in the first place because of affirmative action.

White privilege is when you can claim that being mayor of a town smaller than most medium-sized colleges, and then Governor of a state with about the same number of people as the lower fifth of the island of Manhattan, makes you ready to potentially be president, and people don’t all piss on themselves with laughter, while being a black U.S. Senator, two-term state Senator, and constitutional law scholar, means you’re “untested.”

White privilege is being able to say that you support the words “under God” in the pledge of allegiance because “if it was good enough for the founding fathers, it’s good enough for me,” and not be immediately disqualified from holding office--since, after all, the pledge was written in the late 1800s and the “under God” part wasn’t added until the 1950s--while believing that reading accused criminals and terrorists their rights (because, ya know, the Constitution, which you used to teach at a prestigious law school requires it), is a dangerous and silly idea only supported by mushy liberals.

White privilege is being able to be a gun enthusiast and not make people immediately scared of you.

White privilege is being able to have a husband who was a member of an extremist political party that wants your state to secede from the Union, and whose motto was “Alaska first,” and no one questions your patriotism or that of your family, while if you're black and your spouse merely fails to come to a 9/11 memorial so she can be home with her kids on the first day of school, people immediately think she’s being disrespectful.

White privilege is being able to make fun of community organizers and the work they do--like, among other things, fight for the right of women to vote, or for civil rights, or the 8-hour workday, or an end to child labor--and people think you’re being pithy and tough, but if you merely question the experience of a small town mayor and 18-month governor with no foreign policy expertise beyond a class she took in college--you’re somehow being mean, or even sexist.

White privilege is being able to convince white women who don’t even agree with you on any substantive issue to vote for you and your running mate anyway, because all of a sudden your presence on the ticket has inspired confidence in these same white women, and made them give your party a “second look.”

White privilege is being able to fire people who didn’t support your political campaigns and not be accused of abusing your power or being a typical politician who engages in favoritism, while being black and merely knowing some folks from the old-line political machines in Chicago means you must be corrupt.

White privilege is being able to attend churches over the years whose pastors say that people who voted for John Kerry or merely criticize George W. Bush are going to hell, and that the U.S. is an explicitly Christian nation and the job of Christians is to bring Christian theological principles into government, and who bring in speakers who say the conflict in the Middle East is God’s punishment on Jews for rejecting Jesus, and everyone can still think you’re just a good church-going Christian, but if you’re black and friends with a black pastor who has noted (as have Colin Powell and the U.S. Department of Defense) that terrorist attacks are often the result of U.S. foreign policy and who talks about the history of racism and its effect on black people, you’re an extremist who probably hates America.

White privilege is not knowing what the Bush Doctrine is when asked by a reporter, and then people get angry at the reporter for asking you such a “trick question,” while being black and merely refusing to give one-word answers to the queries of Bill O’Reilly means you’re dodging the question, or trying to seem overly intellectual and nuanced.

White privilege is being able to claim your experience as a POW has anything at all to do with your fitness for president, while being black and experiencing racism is, as Sarah Palin has referred to it a “light” burden.

And finally, white privilege is the only thing that could possibly allow someone to become president when he has voted with George W. Bush 90 percent of the time, even as unemployment is skyrocketing, people are losing their homes, inflation is rising, and the U.S. is increasingly isolated from world opinion, just because white voters aren’t sure about that whole “change” thing. Ya know, it’s just too vague and ill-defined, unlike, say, four more years of the same, which is very concrete and certain…

White privilege is, in short, the problem.


Friday, September 12, 2008

Peace for Zimbabwe?

Score one for South African President Thabo Mbeki. Despite those who scoffed at his attempts, he has managed to build a power-sharing agreement between Zimbabwe's rivals--President Robert Mugabe and opposition leader Morgan Tsvangirai. The power-sharing deal ends a six-month deadlock as the talks managed to survive internal and external pressures. Despite the claims of Mugabe's blind backers, and the West's simplistic portrayal of Tsvangirai as a steward of democracy, there was never truly a "good guy" to root for in Zimbabwe. One was a freedom-fighter turned repressive autocrat; the other was an opposition leader with ties to elite Western interests.

Meanwhile Zimbabwe's citizens have found themselves between a rock and a hard place. With a spiraling decade-long recession, inflation is at a staggering 11.2 million percent. There is a massive food crisis. And political violence has left the country divided. As I wrote in a previous peice, what the people of Zimbabwe want is a chance to have their lives back, to have their votes respected and a government that concerns itself with the public good.

Time will tell if this deal will bring stability, or if its just an empty piece of paper.

Details of the deal below.

From the Assocation of Zimbabwe Journalists:

- President Robert Mugabe with two deputies from Zanu PF;

- Prime Minister Morgan Tsvangirai with two deputies from MDC-M and MDC-T;

- Mugabe, as head of state and government, to chair cabinet of 31 ministers. To chair cabinet of 31 ministers;

- Tsvangirai to preside over a council of ministers, supervises ministers, formulates and implements policies, sits in National Security Council (JOC) and heads government business in parliament;

- Zanu PF to have 15 ministers and eight deputy ministers, Tsvangirai’s MDC faction 13 ministers and six deputy ministers and the Arthur Mutambara faction three ministers and 1 deputy minister;

- Provincial governors to be shared among the three parties;

- If an elected representative (MPs and Senators) dies or is recalled by their party 12 months from the day of signing, none of the other parties to the deal will contest the by-election;

- The "inclusive government" will remain in power for a maximum five years. A review of the power-sharing deal will take place in 18 months, and every year thereafter;

- New constitution after 18 months.

- Constitutional Amendment No 19 to be passed to facilitate implementation of the agreement.


Thursday, September 11, 2008

Morpheus Returns- The Fall Season

And I'm back. Brooklyn Carnival- Does the Mind & Body Good

Resting up in Zion was nice, but let's get back to business.

Time for the recap!

* Massive Immigration Arrests in Iowa, Mississippi- Enter Juan Crow * NATO Suspends Contact with Russia * McCain Likes The Draft * Stephanie Tubbs Jones Dies * "Free Gaza" Boats * McCain's 9 Mansions * Katrina Remembered * Obama Picks Biden * 90 Afghan Civilians Die from US Air Strike * Plot to Kill Obama * Russia Recognizes South Ossetia * Obama Nominated * Denver Speech * Hurricane Gustav Evacuation * Who is Sarah Palin? * Crackdown on Protestors at RNC * *Amy Goodman Arrested!?!* Ron Paul Counter Convention * Sami Al-Arian Released * Pitbull in Lipstick * Lipstick on a Pig * Fannie Mae & Freddie Mac Bailout * Haiti Struck Hard by Storms * Sept 11th 7th Anniversary * Zimbabwe Peace *

And now... on with the show.