News, politics, progressive culture, music, acoustic music

Archive for August, 2010

Open Left: A Progressive Strategy

without comments

At Open Left, contributor progrimm has come up with a proposed information and electoral strategy for progressive forces, including ,one hopes, at least part of the Democratic party. I agree with progrimm’s analysis and action plan. Get a load of this, for example:

Ask yourself what do all these things have in common…

Trade policies that ship millions of jobs overseas for multinational corporations who work with governments like China that have essentially created an economic system that is best described as modern day slavery.

A fucked up tax system that has billionaires, the 400 richest people in America paying a smaller percent in federal taxes than millions of middle class Americans

Deregulation across several sectors that allowed Wall Street to defraud millions in the middle class out of their money, blow up our economy, and on top of all of that allowed them to get rich doing it.

Deregulation that recently created the largest environmental disaster in our countries history in the gulf.

A lack of regulation that has allowed private for profit health insurance companies to murder thousands and bankrupt millions of Americans by rescinding their care when they needed it the most.

And all of the above forming an equality crisis which allowed

The Walton family (The owners of Walmart), a single family to gobble up more wealth than the bottom 40% of the United States population combined.

The overwhelming majority of economic growth to go exclusively to the rich.

And long list of facts on the collapse of the middle class are


What do all these things have in common?

A. They are the strongest campaign issues we have that all tie together and form a powerful narrative that’s in the mind of most progressive activists that the Republican Party is not merely another political party, but a corporate tool that’s policies have systematically stolen the wealth of the middle class in our country and have radically restructured our economy from one that use to grow every Americans wages to one where the wages of the richest rocket, while everyone else’s actually fell and continue to fall.

Yes, there is class warfare being waged in this country and it has been being waged against the majority of Americans by corporations, the wealthy and their Republican puppet voters for the last several decades.

B. They largely have been sitting on the shelf, gathering dust. This tragic, powerful, populist narrative that should right now which should be kicking the utter living shit out of the Republican Party is being unused.

Oh sure, this election year you will see Democrats in October say, Republicans are Crazy tea baggers who want to privatize Social Security and Medicare, Give more tax cuts to the rich, etc.

But that misses most of our most powerful points which are not about what they will do, but about what they already have done.

progrimm correctly notes that this narrative, whgile shared by nearly all progressives and liberals, doesn’t get the attention it deserves:

So how do you change that? How can a net roots movement spread the “details of reality” through the minds of Americans?

That’s what I asked myself when I started thinking about this problem.

We obviously can’t depend on our political leaders most of whom are a bunch of pussies, scared to death of the thought of using populism. Our supporters however, the unions, the people who mostly fund our party actually believe we should fight for a middle class! (The audacity!)

But how?

Before I get to that I want to say, let’s not beat around the bush here, Novembers probably going to be ugly for us short of a game changer and the DNC right now sure as hell doesn’t have that.

Attacking the Tea Party surely should be part of the strategy, but our main strategy really?

Look at the shear amount of damage the Republican Party has done to our country in the last few decades that reached its boiling point in 2008 and our strategy mainly revolves around what the Teapublican party might do?!

Their philosophy has been destroying this countries middle class for decades, that’s the lead what they did, not what they will do. What they will do is important as well, but it’s a side piece compared to the wave of destruction they’ve already sent through our country.

He then provides a demonstration script and video which I find effective. progrimm’s approach can no doubt be tweaked, but it’s one heckuva template and starting point. If the Democrats and progressive groups like Moveon don’t use the ammunition here, they are either incompetent or working for the opposition.

Here’s the video.

Written by slothropia

August 29th, 2010 at 3:11 pm

John Mellencamp: No Better than This

without comments

T Bone Burnett strikes again!

John Mellencamp recently release an album produced by the prolific Bonester (T-B0ne). I think you can recognize the Burnett production style by, among other attributes, an organic, live sound, product or recording live, with the whole band playing, rather than capturing each player’s tracks separately.

The result for Mellencamp, as it was for Kraus and Plant and others, is a musical maturity, a respect for the music’s roots, and a willingness to create within a tradition – in Mellencamp’s case, down to earth country rock. If you’re looking for the right pigeon hole for this album you could argue it fits nicely in alt country, with the Drive By Truckers and Wilco (without Wilco’s extensive experimentation).

OK, I’ll shut up now. Enjoy the music.

Works for me.

Written by slothropia

August 29th, 2010 at 2:02 pm

“The Greatest Depression”?

without comments

Here’s a cheery thought from Gerald Celente, founder and head of the Trends Research Institute.

The fake “recovery” was nice while it lasted, says famous apocalyptic forecaster Gerald Celente, founder of the Trends Research Institute. But now the fun’s over, and we’re headed for what Celente describes as the “Greatest Depression.”

Specifically, the always startling Celente says the country is headed for rising unemployment, poverty, and violent class warfare as the government efforts to keep the economy going begin to fail.

I think Celente’s analysis and basis for his predictions on this matter are not too far removed from the Krugman school of political economy. If I may interpret and summarize, governments and the U.S. economic and political elites have poured gasoline on the fire by trying to solve the crisis top down. Unlike FDR, who attacked the Depression by throwing a lifeline to the middle and working classes, the suits in charge these days seem to think that if the big banks and Wall Street are happy, problem solved.

Celente’s prescription on the other hand is something FDR and Krugman could live with:

The crux of the problem, Celente argues, is that the middle class has been wiped out. America used to be a land of opportunity for all, where hard-working people could build their own small businesses in their own communities and live prosperous and fulfilling lives. But now a collusion of state and corporate interests that Celente describes as “fascism” have conspired to help only the biggest companies and the richest Americans. This has put a shocking amount of the country’s wealth in the hands of a privileged few and left the rest of the country to subsist on chicken-feed wages and low job satisfaction as Wal-Mart “associates” — or worse.

The answer, Celente says, is to bring back the laws that prevented huge companies from getting so big and powerful, and put some opportunity back in the hands of ordinary people. But doing that is going to take a while. And in the meantime, we’re headed for trouble.

I’m taking a bottle of Grey Goose out of the freezer and going back to bed. Somebody wake me after World War III.

Thanks to Raw Story for alerting me to this story. The whole interview is Yahoo Tech Ticker (linked to above) and here is a Yahoo article about wealth and inequality inthe U.S.

Written by slothropia

August 21st, 2010 at 10:22 am

Arcade Fire: The Suburbs

with one comment

Remember American Idiot? The song and the album by Green Day that presented a vision of post modern USA in decline and decay?

Well, Arcade Fire has stepped onto that visionary turf. The latest album from AF is not just a collection of songs, but a look at North American culture at war with itself. The title (The Suburbs, remember?) is a clue to how this Montreal band diagnoses our continent’s spiritual illness.

I don’t know if The Suburbs is a candidate for Broadway musical or rock opera, but it maintains a musical and lyrical integrity throughout. So far, I can’t get enough of it. Enjoy the title track.

Written by slothropia

August 21st, 2010 at 12:20 am

NY Times Covers LeAlan Jones, Green Party Ill Senate Hopeful

without comments

Last Friday, The New York Times (through its Chicago News Cooperative) published a very positive story about LeAlan Jones, Green Party candidate for President Obama’s old Senate seat – you know, the one Blago has not yet been convicted of trying to sell.

Anyway, back to the LeAlan Jones article.

There’s not much politics in the piece. It’s mostly biographical:

At 13, he started his climb up and out. He and his best friend, Lloyd Newman, teamed up with a producer from New York City and made an award-winning documentary for National Public Radio, “Ghetto Life 101,” a 30-minute tour through the other America.

A few years later, Mr. Jones, Mr. Newman and the producer followed with a radio documentary about the death of 5-year-old Eric Morse and the two boys — ages 10 and 11 at the time — who in 1994 dropped him out of a 14th-floor window at the Wells housing project.

Not much has changed in the intervening decades, Mr. Jones said, whether Democrats or Republicans have been in power.

“People don’t want to buy milk and bread from those establishments anymore,” he said, referring to the two major parties. “Their goods are rotten. The Green Party is the new convenience store on the block. We have the freshest fruits and vegetables.”

We also learn that as well as being mainstream Green on most issues, Jones is not entirely opposed to some gun rights.

Mr. Jones is not the stereotypical Green Party member. He supports, for example, “conceal-and-carry” laws, which allow registered gun owners to carry weapons for protection.

“I’ve never carried a gun and don’t want to,” he said. “I’ve always used diplomacy. I only support conceal and carry as a last resort. But there are those in our society who look at people as prey. They must be stopped.”

On other issues, Mr. Jones is Green all the way, from protecting the environment to advocating a single-payer health-care system to bringing the troops — and private contractors — home from Iraq and Afghanistan.

The article quotes Robert T. Starks, professor of political science at Northeastern Illinois University saying that Jones and the Greens are not very visible in the African American community at present.

“But if he keeps getting his name out there,” Professor Starks said, “he could be a factor, especially among young people.”

From what I hear, which is not much, both Jones and Green Gubernatorial candidate Rich Whitney are both doing well for third party candidates. I don’t have any fresh polls to back me up, but my sense is that both of the top of the ticket Greens could get more than 10% of the vote in November.

Will all of that support come from the Democrats? I don’t think so. Greens like to say that there is no difference between the two old line parties, which is not quite true, but in Illinois, many voters feel that both big parties have been cooperating in milking the state since before Lincoln passed the bar.

Written by slothropia

August 17th, 2010 at 9:56 pm

Kraus and Plant; Killing the Blues

without comments

Although it’s been out for three years now I have just acquired Raising Sand, a delicious collaboration between Alison Kraus and Robert Plant. This is maybe the most widely heard track from the album.

It is a song that is hard not to live.

The rest of the tracks take the same velvety approach, but don’t let the languorous pace or the sonic smoothness fool you. Both Plant and Kraus bring a quiet intensity to the record and they both display plenty of vocal and instrumental chops throughout.

It’s a buy it all the way from me, Greg.

Written by slothropia

August 9th, 2010 at 9:11 pm

Posted in Music

Tagged with , ,

Residual, Default Racism in The U.S.

with 2 comments

Racism is as American as cherry pie. The U.S. fortune was compiled using stolen land from the indigenous peoples and stolen labor from slaves. Corporations are doing their best to recreate those glory days, but I’ll get into that another time.

Which is not to say that all or even a majority of USians are racists or bigots, nor would I argue that the United States is a completely racist country. Other nations are indeed worse, and the U.S. can boast of many who fight peacefully yet vigorously against racism, hatred and divisions of all kinds.

Still, racism remains strong in the U.S. It would take a prodigious effort to deny this is true. Fresh evidence presents itself daily.

The recent Shirley Sherrod episode is a splendidly clear example. A racist hack who calls himself a journalist or blogger delivers a doctored video and labels it evidence of reverse racism. This is the same slime bucket who successfully slandered ACORN to death (another example of the political use of racism). Sherrod was virtually lynched, or maybe just tarred and feathered, by most of the corporate media (led by Fox News of course) and driven from public service before a true picture could be drawn of her past, her personality, her beliefs and the complete context of her “offending” remarks. Even the NAACP and the post racial White House joined in piling on.

All because a significant chunk of white America was ready to believe the worst of a middle aged black woman and because Fox News has been on a race baiting campaign from the hour of Obama’s inauguration. If you doubt this is the case, explain the frequent racist attacks on Obama by Glen Beck and that morning zoo crowd Fox inflicts on viewers each day. And provide another explanation for the Fox campaigns against ACORN and the three guys in the New Black Panther Party.

The tea baggers and other Republicans have been spreading the rumor for the last two years that Obama was not born in the U.S. and so is not really President. They have succeeded in clouding millions of willing minds to the point that, according to a CNN poll, over a quarter of the population of the U.S. has doubt Obama was born here.

Where did I hear yesterday that the Fox News audience is only 1.38 per cent African American? Can”t imagine why.

Now the Republicans are on about repealing the 14th amendment, which makes a citizen of anyone born in the United States. The target is babies who are born in the U.S. of one or more parents who are undocumented aliens. They are not serious about amending the constitution. This is mid term election year racial politics. The object of the exercise is a to encourage white USians to be angry at Hispanics, whether they are immigrant (legal or no) or citizens of the U.S. This too will cloud minds ready to be made more ignorant, but will not delay what the racist white is most afraid of: a U.S. where the majority is not composed of the descendants of northern Europeans.

Written by slothropia

August 5th, 2010 at 10:10 pm