Category Archives: progressivism

Conservative Lessons for the Tea Party

Words Excerpted From the NYT Article: “Post Tea Party Nation
Art Linked From:  Source

Lesson 1: The danger of closed information systems. Well before the crash of 2008, the U.S. economy was sending ominous warning signals. Median incomes were stagnating. Home prices rose beyond their rental values. Consumer indebtedness was soaring. Instead, conservatives preferred to focus on positive signals — job numbers, for example — to describe the Bush economy as “the greatest story never told.”

Too often, conservatives dupe themselves. They wrap themselves in closed information systems based upon pretend information. In this closed information system, banks can collapse without injuring the rest of the economy, tax cuts always pay for themselves and Congressional earmarks cause the federal budget deficit. Even the market collapse has not shaken some conservatives out of their closed information system. It enfolded them more closely within it. This is how to understand the Glenn Beck phenomenon. Every day, Beck offers alternative knowledge — an alternative history of the United States and the world, an alternative system of economics, an alternative reality. As corporate profits soar, the closed information system insists that the free-enterprise system is under assault. As prices slump, we are warned of imminent hyperinflation. As black Americans are crushed under Depression-level unemployment, the administration’s policies are condemned by some conservatives as an outburst of Kenyan racial revenge against the white overlord.

Meanwhile, Republican officeholders who want to explain why they acted to prevent the collapse of the U.S. banking system can get no hearing from voters seized with certainty that a bank collapse would have done no harm to ordinary people. Support for TARP has become a career-ender for Republican incumbents, and we shall see what it does to Mitt Romney, the one national Republican figure who still defends TARP.

The same vulnerability to closed information systems exists on the liberal side of U.S. politics as well, of course. But the fact that my neighbor is blind in one eye is no excuse for blinding myself in both.

Read the other lessons here.

Just Too Good

In the unexcused absence of the lack of material over here at the politricks site I hope some of you ninjas keeping up to date with some national ‘tics over at Talking Points Memo. Today’s episode of TPMtv beautiful summarizes the recent escapades of Bruce Barclay, Cumberland County of Pennsylvania’s Republican Commissioner:

[youtube]http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=3KoPDSgtT14&eurl=http://talkingpointsmemo.com/[/youtube]

ALBA

chavez_sulfur_585.jpg

ALBA, an Economic Alternative for Latin America

by Medea Benjamin

The sixth conference of the Latin American alternative trade alliance known as ALBA-which stands for the Bolivarian Alternative for the Americas and means “Dawn” in Spanish-was held in Caracas on January 25-26. The brainchild of Hugo Chavez and Fidel Castro, ALBA was founded by Cuba and Venezuela in 2004 as a fair trade alternative to US-backed free trade policies and is made possible thanks to Venezuela’s oil money.

When Evo Morales was elected in Bolivia and Daniel Ortega in Nicaragua, they too joined ALBA, which Chavez has nicknamed the Club of “Chicos Malos”, or bad boys, because of its opposition to U.S. domination. At this weekend’s meeting, the Caribbean island of Dominica also joined, and representatives attended from Ecuador, Honduras, Uruguay, Haiti and several other Caribbean nations.

Chavez opened the session talking about the need for a trade system that addresses people’s needs, not corporate profits. His railed against the “dictatorship of global capitalism”, and encouraged Latin American countries to withdraw their international reserves from United States banks, warning of a looming US economic crisis. “Why does that money have to be in the north?”, he asked. “We should start to bring our reserves back home.”

His thoughts were echoed by Daniel Ortega, who blamed the capitalist system for the environmental crisis. “The capitalist model of development is simply unsustainable,” Ortega declared. “If your economy is controlled by speculative capital that only cares about profits, you can’t solve the huge problems affecting humanity. Once we renounce the free trade model, we can begin to address the massive problems of unemployment, poverty and global warming.”

Bolivia’s Evo Morales, who is facing fierce opposition in part because of his efforts to nationalize natural gas and oil, insisted that key public resources such as land, water and energy should not be for private profit but for the common good. He also insisted that Latin America should not look to the United States for solutions, since U.S. aid always comes with strings designed to increase its hegemony.

“In 1990s, the World Bank and the International Monetary Fund imposed their disastrous policies, and then the U.S. tried to impose the Free Trade Agreement of the Americas-which should really be called the Free Profits Agreement of the Americas because it is meant to increase the profits of US corporations,” said Morales. “But people of the hemisphere rejected that agreement, so now the U.S. is trying-country-by-country-to get bilateral trade agreements. They are always trying to divide us, but we salute the great resistance to empire that we see throughout the hemisphere.”

The leaders noted that it was no coincidence that just at the time of the ALBA summit, Condoleezza Rice was visiting neighboring Colombia to promote a U.S.-Colombia Free Trade pact. Chavez, who recently called Colombia’s President Urribe a “sad peon of the empire”, laughed at U.S. accusations that he, Chavez, was facilitating the flow of Colombian cocaine through Venezuela.

The talk of drug-smuggling turned into comic relief, however, when Chavez launched into a discourse on the benefits of the coca leaf, which, he insisted, was very different from cocaine. U.S. officials have long tried to eradicate coca cultivation, which has been grown and chewed by Andean Indians for centuries.

“Speaking of drugs,” Chavez turned to Bolivian President Evo Morales, who is himself a former coca farmer and is a strong defender of the coca leaf, “where are the coca leaves you used to bring me?”

A Bolivian Indian sitting behind Morales got up and offered up his personal stash of coca leaves. Delighted, Chavez took a leaf and put it in his mouth. “The sacred leaf of the Inca, the Aymara Indians,” he declared. “Thank you, brother.” Emphasizing the great qualities of coca, Chavez said that he had become used to chewing the leaves every morning and invited the other heads of states to try some.

Read the Rest

Where have all the progressives gone?

As a quick question to start, how sad is it that upon hearing that Pakistan’s president had declared a state of emergency, suspending the constitution and indefinitely postponing elections, my very first thought was that somewhere Dick Cheney was scribbling down notes? And that were the Administration to take similar action, a fair number of pundits would think it was alright, what with the unprecedented threat and all? I just keep imagining the President making the announcement, quickly followed by a host of talking heads making like Mary Sunshine. It ain’t the happiest train of thought.

Anyway, tonight I wanted more to post about a fantastic piece running on Salon right now about this bloke (who does a freakishly good Donald Duck impression, by the way):

kucinich

It’s terrifically written and the tone is perfect, so I’d very likely have linked to it anyway, but when thinking about it in conjunction with Paul Krugman’s op-ed for the Times for Monday morning about the Dems’ unfortunate reluctance to be as liberal as the electorate would like, it became imperative.

(A brief aside: this isn’t going to be a post which argues in favor of voting for Kucinich. Partly because I’m not going to vote for him, but mostly because I’m going to bend over backwards on this blog to avoid endorsing individual candidates. That isn’t what politricks is for. When a candidate does something noteworthy, I’ll certainly mention them for it, but that’s all.)

Anyway, the Salon piece got me thinking a great deal about why it is that no mainstream candidate will put forth the kind of unapologetically progressive views that someone like Kucinich will. Especially with the public so clearly in favor of (among other things) better environmental regulations, universal health coverage, and a swift exit from Iraq. And it can’t just be a matter of traditional “I’ve got a real shot, can’t afford to offend the center” calculation, given that the prominent GOP candidates are falling over each other to figure out who can be the most hawkish on Iran or the most opposed to “socialized medicine.”
Part of it, certainly, is that we’ve been pounded on by the right, called “elitist” and “out of the mainstream” for so long, that we’ve started to believe it. Another big part is the simple fact that when your worldview allows for disagreement and debate, it’s hard not to seek compromise. It’s hard to imagine a progressive candidate being satisfied with the Bush-style “turn out enough of the base to eke out 51% and then ram your agenda down their throats” method of governance.

Still, it’d be nice, just once, to have a Democratic candidate for president who didn’t feel the need to flee from the “liberal” tag as though it were a plague rat. To watch a candidate asked about same-sex marriage say simply that everyone has the right to marry whom they choose, and that enshrining bigotry in the Constitution would be despicable. To say about global warming that leaving behind a flooding, drought-ridden world to our children, when all it would take to prevent it is a little ingenuity and sacrifice, is downright criminal. I know Jed Bartlet isn’t going to spontaneously burst forth from the annals of fiction anytime soon, but I’d at least like to have some reasonable facsimile around.

More than that, though, I want to know why, were someone along those lines to run, he or she would instantly be tarred as unelectable by the press, when a quasi-dictatorial ex-mayor and a former governor who hasn’t met an issue he couldn’t flip on are considered viable, even impressive candidates. And here I’m seriously asking, because I have no idea. Anyone who can explain it, please do.