TEA PARTIES: BOSTON….OR WONDERLAND?

10 04 2010

When I read about the shenanigans perpetrated by the Republican Party lately, I don’t just wonder “What are they thinking?”  I wonder if they are thinking at all, or if they are merely DNA-powered robots in an extremely reactonary, defensive response to the fact that everything that has ever given them security and a sense of self is vanishing like smoke.

There’s plenty of evidence that there is no thinking involved here, most prominently the “Obama is a Marxist/Socialist!” movement, which I commented on last month.  That post, in which I decried the absurdity of calling Obama a “socialist” and pointed out some of the many ways he does the bidding of the capitalist, corporatist masters of America, prompted a reader who identified himself as “Commieblaster,” from College Road in Olive Branch, Mississippi (oh, the irony!), to comment “Obama isn’t a socialist, he’s a Marxist,” and direct me to his website, www.commieblaster.com.

Well, fair is fair.  If Mr. Commieblaster is open-minded enough to read me, I owe it to him to pay a visit to his domain, and so I did.  Oh, my.

“Eighty members of Congress are Socialists!”  he warns.  What, in his book, makes them “socialists”?  Primarily, it seems, association with an organization called “Democratic Socialists of America,” whose website opens with these words:

Democratic Socialists believe that both the economy and society should be run democratically—to meet public needs, not to make profits for a few. To achieve a more just society, many structures of our government and economy must be radically transformed through greater economic and social democracy so that ordinary Americans can participate in the many decisions that affect our lives.

So….the tea partiers, who are reacting to what they perceive as an autocratic government, also feel threatened by the idea that “ordinary Americans” ought to be able to “participate in the many decisions that affect our lives”?   Go figure….

DSA’s site also features a number of articles complaining about Obama’s rightward course  and an interview that specifically addresses “Why Obama is Not a Socialist.”  Other criteria for being a “Socialist,” according to Mr. Commieblaster, include supporting Hamas rather than Israel (which was once described as “the most socialist country outside the Eastern Bloc” and where the government still has far more influence on the private sector than in the US), and entertaining the possibility that Mumia Abu-Jamal was framed.  So…does that make sense to you?

Shortly after hearing from Mr. Commieblaster, I ran across an article written by that ol’ devil Commie, the last Marxist left standing, Fidel Freaking Castro himself, in which Castro said flat out

BARACK Obama is a fanatical believer in the imperialist capitalist system imposed by the United States on the world. “God bless the United States,” he ends his speeches…..

The current administration’s militarist policies, its plunder of natural resources and unequal exchange with the poor countries of the Third World are in no way different from those of its predecessors, almost all of them extremely right-wing, with some exceptions, throughout the past century.

That’s not exactly a ringing endorsement, is it?

Perhaps Commieblaster would say that Castro is dissembling (the devil is, after all, “the father of lies”), but actions speak louder than words, and the evidence still stands that, with every move they have made, from bailing out banks in the financial crisis to promoting coal and nuclear energy development to subsidizing for-profit health insurance to creating a nationwide broadband system by helping out Comcast, the strategies that Obama and all those “socialists” in Congress have employed have propped up the capitalist system, even in the face of overwhelming evidence that highly centralized, private, for-profit systems are the least sensible, efficient, and economically viable means to promote the common good of the American people.

But I’m not going to talk about that right now.  I’m going to keep examining the reactionary, right-wing mindset that looks at Democratic party corporate shills and sees Marxist-Leninists.  Commieblaster is, as far as I know, just another guy on the street like me.  Let’s look at what happens when the people he supports are elected to office and actually get to act on their vision.

We don’t have to look far to do that, because our own state legislature here in Tennessee is dominated by tea-party types.  What have they been up to lately?

Exhibit A:  A committee of the Tennessee House recently sent four bills on to the whole legislature.    To quote Jeff Woods of the Nashville Scene:

Two .. measures are state constitutional amendments …to ban the individual mandate and the other to decree that the free enterprise system will live forever in Tennessee.

(The other) Two… are identical–both bills that supposedly would nullify the law’s mandate that all Americans buy insurance. There are two of these bills because their respective sponsors, Rep. Susan Lynn and Sen. Mae Beavers, are running against each other in August’s primary and anxious to take sole credit for this monumental achievement.

They all passed by voice votes to loud cheers from tea partiers…..

And…two things stand out about this example.  The first is that our country’s first Republican President, Abraham Lincoln, fought and won a civil war in this country  over the question of whether states have the power to nullify Federal law.  The decision was, they can’t do that.

Well, times have changed, you might argue.  OK, how about this one:  our most recent Republican administration likewise argued strongly that states did not have the power to nullify Federal law….in the words of that notorious socialist, Antonin Scalia,

The regulation of an intrastate activity may be essential to a comprehensive regulation of interstate commerce even though the intrastate activity does not itself “substantially affect” interstate commerce. Moreover… Congress may regulate even noneconomic local activity if that regulation is a necessary part of a more general regulation of interstate commerce. …The relevant question is simply whether the means chosen are “reasonably adapted” to the attainment of a legitimate end under the commerce power.

In other words, the Federal Government can tell the states to sit down and shut up.

But hey, Scalia said that in the Raich vs. Ashcroft case, which was about whether the federal government had to recognize California’s medical marijuana laws, and everybody knows that anything goes when you’re trying to stamp out the evil weed…but the Bush junta also successfully swatted down Oregon’s assisted suicide  law and California’s attempts to raise mileage standards on cars. So….states can nullify federal law if Republicans want to fight the gummint, but when Democrats try to insist on states’ rights, it’s not OK.  That seems to be the underlying principle here, does it not?

Exhibit B:  Our state legislature has, by overwhelming majorities and without debate, passed a law requiring all medical facilities that perform abortions to post the following language prominently (in 40-point type) in their waiting rooms, or face serious fines if the signage is absent:

“Notice: It is against the law for anyone, regardless of the person’s relationship to you, to coerce you into having or to force you to have an abortion. By law, we cannot perform an abortion on you unless we have your freely given and voluntary consent. It is against the law to perform an abortion on you against your will. You have the right to contact any local or state law enforcement agency to receive protection from any actual or threatened criminal offense to coerce an abortion.”

Lawmakers soundly rejected an amendment that would have included language pointing out that it is also against the law to force anyone NOT to have an abortion.  In their perception, pro-abortion pressure from Planned Parenthood and domineering husbands is much more of a threat than anti-abortion pressure from fundamentalist churches and domineering husbands. Senator Beverly Marrero, one of the only two State Senators who had the courage to vote against this bill (the other was Andy Berke), said of it

We all know this legislation is purely political, designed to increase the anti-abortion bona fides of lawmakers up for re-election this year.

I couldn’t agree with her more.

Exhibit C:  My state representative’s “weekly update” informed me about HB 3280 which, to quote from the bill summary

..revises the substances that give rise to the offense described above in (1), so that it would be unlawful to operate or be in control of a motor driven vehicle while under the influence of any intoxicant, marijuana, “drug, substance or combination thereof, affecting” the central nervous system instead of a “narcotic drug or drug producing stimulating effects on” the central nervous system.”

“Any substance that affects the central nervous system”?  What substance that we take into our bodies doesn’t affect our central nervous system?  The bill was aimed at making it illegal to operate a motor vehicle under the influence of anything that might negatively affect a person’s judgement and response time, but, taken literally, makes it illegal to drive under the influence of coffee, food, or any of the many prescription drugs that have “do not operate heavy equipment” warnings on their labels.  I take one of those, metoprolol, and I can’t say that I or anyone close to me has observed it affecting my judgement or co-ordination.   Of course, this  It will  probably be used mostly to persecute people whose urine tests positive for marijuana, in spite of overwhelming evidence that marijuana metabolites in urine are not an indication that one is “under the influence of” marijuana, and despite research by the National Highway Traffic Safety Board that pretty well exonerates marijuana as a cause of hazardous driving.

Well, maybe I shouldn’t get my dander up too much about this, just yet.  Although it passed the House unanimously, so far it’s bogged down in committee in the Senate, which is taking up more important things like allowing mountaintop removal in Tennessee, in spite of the fact that the state generates far more revenue from people coming to appreciate our scenery than it does from people destroying the scenery to pull a little coal out from under it.  And that’s just one argument.

And there’s a bill that will insist that all driver’s license tests shall be conducted in English,unless the applicant’s stay in the country has been

approved and authorized by the United States department of homeland security for a specific purpose, including investing, overseeing investment, or providing needed services to companies or businesses in Tennessee, and for a specified period of authorized stay,

In other words, rich foreigners are welcome; poor ones are not.  This one, too, has yet to emerge from the committee thicket, and the state’s business interests are speaking up against it, so sense may yet prevail in this case.

We also have the spectacle of our supposedly Democratic governor worrying that more people will find out they’re eligible for Medicare and sign up for it, easing their own medical expenses but increasing the state’s.

I could tell you more, but I think I have gone on just about long enough.

Into this tea party atmosphere, more reminiscent of Wonderland than Boston, strides Howard Switzer, who is once again the Green Party’s gubernatorial candidate.  I wish we had a horde of people running for state legislature positions to back him up, but alas, it ain’t happening this year.  You can find Howard’s blog at switzer4governor.blogspot.com/

Naomi Wolf, author of The Shock Doctrine, has found a new popularity among the tea partiers, and in a recent interview she said she has some faith that their questioning of authority will, in the long run, be beneficial.  I hope she’s right.  I am concerned that the tea partiers will turn out to be the 21st century version of the SA, the “brown shirts” who provided the populist muscle that brought Hitler to power and were quickly disposed of as a political force once he and his corporate conspirators consolidated their hold on Germany.  On the other hand, Hitler did not have to contend with shrinking resources and a shifting climate, both forces that are more than equal to the task of toppling a civilization.

Unless they do come to their senses, the tea partiers, who seem to have the momentum in US politics at this point, will continue to spend their energy in irrelevant, illusory, paranoid pursuits, codifying intolerance and ignorance, and squashing any dissent other than their own.  I don’t know whether to laugh or cry.

music:  Greg Brown, Worrisome Years


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20 responses

11 04 2010
brothermartin

more evidence, this from Wisconsin:

“A letter sent to five school districts by Juneau County District Attorney Scott Southworth said the instruction could amount to contributing to the delinquency of a minor if teachers know students are sexually active. He said the districts should drop sex education until the law is repealed.

“Southworth also argued that teaching contraceptive use encourages sexual behavior among children, which equates to sexual assault because minors can’t legally have sex in Wisconsin.

“‘Depending on the specific facts of a case … this encouragement and advocacy could lead to criminal charges,’ Southworth, a Republican, wrote to districts in his county.”

http://abcnews.go.com/US/wirestory?id=10304319&page=1

13 04 2010
brothermartin

this just in from Ron Paul:

“The question has been raised about whether or not our president is a socialist,” Paul said. “I am sure there are some people here who believe it. But in the technical sense, in the economic definition of a what a socialist is, no, he’s not a socialist.”

“He’s a corporatist,” Paul continued. “And unfortunately we have corporatists inside the Republican party and that means you take care of corporations and corporations take over and run the country.”

http://tpmdc.talkingpointsmemo.com/2010/04/ron-paul-president-obama-is-not-a-socialst.php

10 07 2010
Jack

Back in seventies I paid attention to Stephen Gaskin. I bought his books, heard him speak and visited The Farm. I figured that I would eventually move to The Farm, but instead I got caught up with life and a career.

However, in the past ten years I have moved to the right politically and by now the Tea Partiers make more sense to me than The Farm’s veterans.

I’m not here to fight about that. I was surfing late tonight and wondered what the folks from The Farm were up to. Reading your words I remember how I used to see the world a few decades ago and I realize how difficult it is to bridge the gap between, roughly, the right and the left, the red and the blue, the Tea Party and The Farm.

I don’t have a solution for that. The differences are real and they go pretty deep. The two sides talk but they don’t really hear each other because the words aren’t understood in the same way and they are connected to different sets of facts with different shadings of emphasis and different belief systems of how things fit together.

America is about as polarized now as in the sixties and seventies. I find it distressing but it seems like something we will just have to work through as best we can , with as much respect and love as we can manage, and that seems to be a tall order for everyone these days.

Tale care.

10 07 2010
brothermartin

Thanks for your thoughtful comments….while I’m definitely “a veteran of the Farm,” I don’t think I’m a typical one…most Farmies are Democrats. Although I don’t have much faith in electoral politics any more, I have migrated to the Green Party. Some of why I left the Farm was because the place was squaring up, and it was too difficult to talk with people our differences, let alone resolve them. In retrospect, some of that was my own immaturity, for sure.

I just came from a political conversation with my father-in-law, a conservative, fundamentalist Christian who is also a really nice guy. It was remarkable to see how much agreement we actually have with each other–the main departure seemed to be that he felt that irresponsible individuals who took out mortgages they couldn’t afford, plus a government mandate to give people mortgages whether they could afford them or not, were responsible for the financial crisis we both agree we’re in, while I pointed to structural problems–loss of good-paying jobs, dependence on imported oil and other forms of debt, exorbitant health care costs, bankster greed–as the culprit. I don’t know if he agreed, but he didn’t argue, even when I pointed out that it was George Bush who pushed “the ownership society.”

I also was in a surprising amount of agreement with my own father’s politics…he was described at his memorial service as “somewhere to the right of Attila the Hun.”

Anyway, I share your concern about people not listening to each other, and not being able to hear/understand each other when they try. It will take some effort and commitment, but if we are as intelligent a species as we like to think we are, we can learn to do it. In fact, we had better.

Thanks again
m

12 07 2010
Jack

And thank you for your thoughtful response.

It does occur to me though that if you are interested in people listening to each other you might consider more caution when it comes to dismissing large numbers of Americans as deluded or as Repugs.

I understand your point that Obama is not a pure revolutionary socialist who eschews relationships with capitalists and corporations. No, he’s not that kind of socialist. However, that’s not the only way people use the word socialist or approach socialism.

According to a recent poll ( http://www.examiner.com/x-47431-DuPage-County-Conservative-Examiner~y2010m7d9-55-of-Americans-Label-Obama-as-Socialist-data-linked ) 55% of Americans — not just Tea Partiers — describe Obama as socialist.

Given that standard definitions of socialism run something like “collective or governmental ownership and administration of the means of production and distribution of goods”
(http://www.merriam-webster.com/dictionary/socialism ) and that the Obama administration has brought two of our largest auto corporations under government control and is in the process of absorbing health care, which is about one-sixth of the national economy, it’s not hard to understand why a majority of Americans might describe Obama as socialist. You can still argue the point of course, but I don’t think you can dismiss it as delusion or paranoia.

For further discussion of the subject, I recommend Jonah Goldberg’s recent article “What Kind of Socialist is Barack Obama?” ( http://www.commentarymagazine.com/viewarticle.cfm/what-kind-of-socialist-is-barack-obama–15421?search=1 ).

Regards.

12 07 2010
brothermartin

Jack..you said
“It does occur to me though that if you are interested in people listening to each other you might consider more caution when it comes to dismissing large numbers of Americans as deluded or as Repugs.”

yeah, my wife gets after me about the name-calling….especially since I frequently refer to the other major party as “the Dimocrats”…part of me is very angry about how things are getting more and more screwed up and wants to throw things (like pies in faces and rocks through windows), and part of me wants to do everything i can to make peace…which involves being peaceful and not alienating people on purpose and all that good stuff…mostly that one wins out..

As for “deluded,” maybe i need to figure out how to be more diplomatic in saying it, because from here it sure looks like most people don’t have a clue about what’s really happening, and have a whole fantasy (the one we’ve been living in this country more or less since the end of the 30′s depression) that they think is reality, andthink that is going to continue to be reality…and, to me, the technical term for that is–”delusion.”

As for the “Obama the socialist” bit, first of all, note in the thread above that Ron Paul Himself sez “…n the technical sense, in the economic definition of a what a socialist is, no, he’s not a socialist.”

“He’s a corporatist,” Paul continued. “And unfortunately we have corporatists inside the Republican party and that means you take care of corporations and corporations take over and run the country.”

As far as I can tell, the Tea Party movement is being manipulated by Republican corporatists in a cynical move to regain power, (see “MCChrystal for President?”) in much the same way that the Nazis used the Brownshirts to gain power in Germany and then disposed of them (“night of the long knives”) once they had succeeded.

Although Obama and the Goldman-Sachs crew used the power of the federal government to bail out our automakers, they have done very little to influence policy there and mostly been a silent partner–if a real socialist took over the auto industry, he or she would have quit making SUVs entirely, accelerated the switch away from gasoline/diesel, and used several plants to start building rolling stock for a recreated mass transit system, not to mention instituted workplace democracy that would have given workers a greater say in working conditions and company policy. As your definition says, “ownership AND administration”–and there’s about zilch going on in the “administration” end–likewise for health care and banking. Corporate execs have retained control.

In the health insurance bailout, a few minimal new conditions were put on the private insurance industry, which in return got the tremendous windfall of a government mandate that citizens must buy their product or be fined. After passage of the “health care” bill, which I call the insurance industry bailout bill, health insurance stocks went up, not down. That says about all that needs to be said. And what kind of “socialist” would go to great pains to make sure there’s no “public option”?

Then of course there’s the Wall St. bailout itself, which involves the middle class footing the bill for all those executive bonuses…

So, if this is socialism, it’s socialism stood on its head, with the poor and middle classes paying to support the wealthy. And that, as Dr. Paul correctly points out, is corporatism, not socialism. As I said above, I think some very cynical Republicans are using scare tactics to stampede ignorant people (who have no clue what “socialism” really means and thus no clue about whether Obama is a socialist) into defending the right of corporations to rip them off, and it makes me want to scream and throw things, and have to take a deep breath and…well, I’m back where I started.

Maybe we can arrange a debate between Ron Paul and Jonah Goldberg over whether Obama is a socialist?

13 07 2010
Jack

I must say you’re going the extra mile on a stale topic that likely no one else is reading!

“Deluded…”

I’m reminded of Bertrand Russell’s conjugation of an irregular verb: “I am firm. You are stubborn. He is a pig-headed fool.”

It’s easy to think that people with different positions have been deceived or are deluded.

Of course there are people who are just plain dim, delusional, crazy, psychopathic or even evil, which makes things more complicated, but most people aren’t, so let’s leave the exceptions aside.

It seems to me that we need better ways to talk about those with whom we disagree without wheeling out terms that attack their mental or moral functioning. God knows it’s tempting, and in the safety of a private conversation I can be harsh too.

What I see, having been on many sides of many issues and having frequently changed my mind, is that the real problem is usually several levels down. People are working from different sets of facts, beliefs, emphasis, and emotional coloring. Their positions make sense, even if you disagree, once you understand where they are coming from.

Twenty years ago I would have agreed with most of what you just said. Today I don’t, but there is a terribly long discussion about history, politics, science, current events, my own experiences and spiritual beliefs between who I am now and who I was then.

From my point of view, you are mistaken about many things, and maybe if you were working with my information and my experiences, you would agree more with me. Maybe.

But I would never say you are deluded because I can tell you have arrived at your current positions with much good faith, effort, thought and life experience.

I know you disagree with many of my positions. Unless I’ve misunderstood you, it seems likely that you would consider me to be one of those people stampeded by cynical Republican leaders. And make no mistake — I consider the Tea Partiers to have a more accurate assessment of reality than you do.

So how do you and I talk, or, more generally, people like you and I? That’s what I find interesting.

13 07 2010
Jack

PS So as not to entirely dodge your substantive points about Obama and socialism and so on…

The problem with calling anyone a socialist who hasn’t self-identified as such is that socialist and socialism, like many terms in the human sphere, are not well-defined.

When it comes to socialism, there are those who push for pure socialism immediately, and those, like the Fabians and IMO Obama, who push for socialism by degrees.

Obama is on record in 2003 as being for, not just a public option, but full single payer. Note his disclaimer about not getting there immediately.

“A single-payer health care plan, a universal health care plan. That’s what I’d like to see. But as all of you know, we may not get there immediately.”

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=fpAyan1fXCE

Those of us on the right see ObamaCare as the product of political compromises, yes, but likely a decisive stride, unless repealed, that will lead to fully socialized medicine further down the road — much as Obama was saying years ago.

It’s already becoming clear that Obama’s two promises that his healthcare reform will not raise insurance rates and that Americans can keep their current insurance were both false. ObamaCare will cause more employers to drop their health care plans or scale them back, forcing some Americans into the government plan and probably more and more with time. Not surprisingly, extending more health care coverage to more people will be more expensive.

Of course, one can argue that ObamaCare is still better or more moral than the current system. Granted. But that is very different from arguing that those who see ObamaCare as a move towards socialism are deluded.

BTW short-term moves in the stock market prove almost nothing. Those stocks had been hit hard in the previous months. It’s more likely IMO that those stocks recovered due to the resolution of uncertainty once the bill had passed than that it demonstrates that Obama is a creature of those companies and the financial sector.

14 07 2010
Jack

Hmm. I apologize for the length of those posts.

A few amendments — by “government plan” I mean the government-supervised health insurance exchanges from the Senate bill which was the basis for the final passage of ObamaCare.

By “reality” I mean political and economic reality. I assume you and the Tea Partiers are on equal footing when it comes to physical, psychological, and social reality.

I’m not arguing for the Tea Party positions here so much as arguing that those positions are worthy of your respect in the usual give-and-take of political discussion among equals.

In a nutshell, I’m saying that “mistaken” is a more productive, compassionate and accurate word than “deluded” in political discussions.

16 07 2010
brothermartin

Sorry to take so long getting back to you on this…my real life sometimes has to take precedence over my virtual life….

You’re right–if I’m sincerely seeking dialog, “deluded” is not a good word to use to describe those with whom I seek to communicate. “Mistaken” is a somewhat less loaded word….unless somebody is hopelessly defensive.

It’s interesting to contrast our perceptions of Obama–I see him as tracking gradually further and further to the center/right of American politics, and consider that he has simply abandoned his call for universal single-payer because it doesn’t play well with the big money folks who are his real backers. Similarly, I believe he also advocated more liberal drug laws, and has retreated on that issue to merely instructing the DEA not to persecute medical marijuana facilities in states that have legalized it–but his DOJ is continuing all prosecutions of such cases that the Bush administration started.

You seem to perceive Obama’s moves on health care more as a cloaking of intent that has not been abandoned, but I think the language of the bill that he signed actually makes it much more difficult to switch to a single-payer system–as i understand it, and I’m sorry I can’t provide you a reference for this, the state exchange program you mention–which is basically a way for people to compare a variety of private insurance programs–pretty much prohibits public insurance plans other than state high-risk pools, which are made up of people the insurance companies don’t want to cover. As I understand it, Vermont, which is the only state that has a statewide single-payer plan, could be derailed by the mandate for states to set up a private insurance exchange….sorry, i can’t find where i got that impression, so no link….

LIkewise, I simply find it very hard to reconcile the virtually-no-strings attached, hands-off bailouts of the financial and auto industries with an intent to take control.

I’m not concerned about the length of your responses, or mine…I don’t care how many people read ‘em….as long as it’s making both of us think and reflect, it’s good enough. Thanks for caring enough to come back at me.
m

19 07 2010
Jack

Well, one thing we can agree upon — what’s the point of having a progressive Democratic President without reform of marijuana laws!

I get that you find Obama disappointing from your green, mostly left perspective, but that doesn’t mean that Obama is not mostly hard left in the context of the American political spectrum which still has a midpoint located center-right and is heading further to the right every month Obama keeps pushing America to the left.

For those of us on the right, the issue is that just about every domestic policy Obama pursues somehow nets to bigger government, bigger budgets, bigger deficits, more regulations, and more government employees. Do you have any counter-examples — aside from Obama’s regrettable unwillingness to put the marijuana industry under federal control?

That does not mean that everything Obama does will make the US look like Cuba or Denmark or The Farm tomorrow. It does not mean that he doesn’t have allies in the corporate world and Wall St. who find some benefits in his policies.

I don’t see how you can talk about “the virtually-no-strings attached, hands-off bailouts of the financial and auto industries with an intent to take control.” No, Obama has not taken *complete* control of those companies, but he now has say over those companies that no American president has had before. For example:

“A report to be released tomorrow by the Treasury Department’s Special Inspector General for the Toxic Asset Relief Program (SIGTARP) will contend that President Obama’s push for General Motors and Chrysler to close thousands of dealerships across the country as part of their government bailouts “may have substantially contributed to the shuttering of thousands of small businesses and thereby potentially adding tens of thousands of workers to the already lengthy unemployment rolls…”

http://www.washingtonexaminer.com/opinion/blogs/beltway-confidential/IG-report-says-Obama-GM-Chrysler-moves-needlessly-accelerated-job-losses-98709459.html

19 07 2010
Jack

Here’s another:

“President-elect Barack Obama said yesterday that top executives at the nation’s three automakers should be replaced if they don’t use pending government loans to make major changes – including taking immediate steps to produce energy-efficient vehicles – in a clear signal that he expects a bailout to be predicated on a wholesale restructuring of the industry.”

http://www.boston.com/news/politics/2008/articles/2008/12/08/obama_cautions_auto_industry/

Obama is effectively pointing a gun at the heads of these executives to implement a wholesale restructuring of the auto industry. If this isn’t government control, what is?

19 07 2010
brothermartin

I haven’t been disappointed by Obama, because I never trusted him in the first place….if you look back through what I have written about him, you will see that I have rarely if ever had a good word to say about the guy.

In one early post, OBAMA–WHAT WOULD MLK THINK? http://brothermartin.wordpress.com/2008/09/13/obama-what-would-mlk-think/
i wrote:

Would I really rather see a PTSD-plagued, nearly senile reptile and a clueless Christian Dominionist bimbo run the country? Wouldn’t I rather try and pull Obama left than pull McCain towards the center?

Frankly, I have to take a deep breath and say yes, I think it IS a tossup, when you look at Obama as a slick, charismatic near-neocon partnered with an imperialist-drug warrior patsy for the financial-insurance-real estate tycoons. To those who think they will be able to pull Obama left, I say, don’t kid yourselves–bigger money than you’ll ever see is moving him where it wants him to go. I think it is a sad indication of just how unfree we are in this country when, at a time when we are facing momentous challenges and changes, these phonies are given the spotlight, and candidates like the Green Party’s Cynthia McKinney and independent Ralph Nader, who have real answers to the real questions at hand and should be dominating the race, are ignored by the tycoon-directed mainstream media and the public.

“My green/left perspective”? As I said in a post almost two years ago, entitled JUST A RUMOR?
http://brothermartin.wordpress.com/2008/07/26/just-a-rumor/

Well, we can argue about what “conservative” really means. Certainly the Bush junta, which has wrapped itself in a “conservative” mantle, has taken the US in a number of very radical directions that, considered outside the realm of political labels, have nothing to do with conserving anything except the wealth of the already criminally wealthy. As for me, I have no problem identifying myself as a conservative in the most profound way. We have no other planet to live on and nobody else to live with, and I am intent on conserving the planet and finding a way for us all to get along in order to do so.

You said

For those of us on the right, the issue is that just about every domestic policy Obama pursues somehow nets to bigger government, bigger budgets, bigger deficits, more regulations, and more government employees. Do you have any counter-examples — aside from Obama’s regrettable unwillingness to put the marijuana industry under federal control?

It was Bush/Cheney who launched the Department of Homeland Security, which I understand a recent WaPo story rips into as an enormous, out-of-control bureaucracy. And then there’s the military, which even in its current, partly-privatized form is a very “socialist” institution–with health care for all and great retirement benefits if you survive…as for other large government agencies, they are what you have to do to attempt to control multinational corporations that are bigger (and less principled) than a lot of countries. The real solution, revoking the pirates’ corporate charters and giving control of business/industry to workers and users, is, of course, off the table…and, honestly, I’m not sure enough people are psychologically prepared to take on that level of responsibility….even if the Matrix is getting a little spotty just about everywhere you look.

And yeah, I agree that Obama’s attempts to regulate these businesses are often clumsy and high-handed. If he’s advocating for any kind of socialism, it’s what some have referred to as “socialism for the rich,” in which the government and its middle-class tax base take the risks and losses and the wealthy reap the rewards…

The auto industry? I’m not weeping any tears for the end of the auto industry. The auto industry systematically eliminated mass transit in this country in the 30′s and 40′s just so they could sell more cars. Now we’re not only running out of money to buy cars with, we’re running out of raw materials to make them and make them go….can you say, “peak lithium”? My advice to those whose livelihoods have been tied up in the auto industry is, “get a horse–and learn how to use her/him/it.” Biofuels? Grass+horse=transportation.

And speaking of grass, I’m not holding my breath waiting for the Democrats to legalize herb. It makes people much more likely to think for themselves (tho no guarantee of that, alas!), and will never be legalized by either major party, because they are both about control and corporate anthills, and against anything that might upset that. Jeez, I know people who used to get high with Al Gore, on HIS stash, but Al and Bill presided over the incarceration of more tokers than Ronnie did. I don’t think marijuana will be legal as long as we have a central government in this country, unless a whole lot of people have Paul-on-the-road to Damascus encounters and do 180 changes real fast…and there’s no point in depending on miracles.

19 07 2010
brothermartin

One last thing…you said
“the American political spectrum which still has a midpoint located center-right and is heading further to the right every month”

I think you called that one “right.” The US is a remarkably right-wing country, especially compared to most of Europe, for example, or even Israel, where the “right wing,” apart from its Palestinian-bashing and general aggression towards the country’s neighbors, has social policies that would please Dennis Kucinich. May God/Goddess have mercy on our souls…

19 07 2010
brothermartin

this article is a pretty good refutation of the claim that Obama is a socialist, or else proof that he and his crew are pushing “Socialism for the rich,” as I mentioned above:

“So let me get this straight, the US Government is the owner of a company that was involved in rigging and stock price manipulation i.e. fraud and now the US taxpayer is going to cough up for its wrong doing? AIG is said to be considering issuing stock, so that’ll dilute your holdings quite nicely. That’s right, you’re going to pay for a crime you never committed and the best bit is AIG once again gets a slap on the wrist and can carry on with its merry ways while admitting to nothing really, since they ‘settled’ and didn’t admit to any wrongdoing. Any executive going to prison over this? Nope. Any change in top level management? Nada.”

http://theautomaticearth.blogspot.com/2010/07/july-17-2010-settlements-and-tragedies.html

22 07 2010
brothermartin

Jack–I approved your last comment, not sure why it hasn’t showed up yet….meanwhile, here’s something I just posted on the McChrystal thread, but it’s relevant here, too..from Democracy Now:

Fmr. Insurance Exec Tapped to Implement Healthcare Law

“The Obama administration has appointed a former insurance executive and leading opponent of the public option to help implement the new healthcare law. Liz Fowler was a former executive for the insurance giant WellPoint before serving as chief health adviser to Senate Finance Committee Chair Max Baucus. Fowler headed the group of staffers who helped draft the healthcare reform law that excluded the public option.”

Doesn’t exactly sound like socialism to me….

22 07 2010
brothermartin

This from “The Progressive,” which supported Obama…

No decent socialist would have been caught dead praising the CEOs of Goldman Sachs and JP Morgan Chase and justifying their obscene salaries the way Obama did. (“I know both those guys; they are very savvy businessmen. I, like most of the American people, don’t begrudge people success or wealth. That is part of the free-market system.”)

No decent socialist would have left the health insurance industries in the driver’s seat.

No decent socialist would have empowered a panel to advocate the cutting of Social Security, Medicare, and Medicaid.

No decent socialist would have expanded the war in Afghanistan, a hopeless war being fought by the sons and daughters of America’s working class.

So, no, Obama isn’t a socialist. Not even close.

But we’d be a lot better off in this country if he were.

http://www.progressive.org/wx071910.html

30 07 2010
Sarah

Maybe you should copy this thread as a post so more people will read it. Or post a condensed version.

31 07 2010
brothermartin

thanks! i’m about to start writing the next show, have been thinking of doing a story about some of the comments i’ve gotten and dialogs i’ve gotten into ….maybe this month…

7 08 2010
BUILDING BRIDGES « DEEP GREEN PERSPECTIVE

[...] I started hearing from “Jack,” who wrote in his opening response to “TEA PARTIES–BOSTON OR WONDERLAND?” …in the past ten years I have moved [...]

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