US shutdown: ‘good cop/bad cop’

September 30, 2013 at 11:21 pm (Democratic Party, posted by JD, reaction, Republican Party, United States)

From the US International Socialists:

Barack Obama and Ted Cruz

Above: Obama and Cruz

The good cop/bad cop routine in Washington
The Republicans may not get away with defunding Barack Obama’s health care law, but they’re pushing ahead with all their favorite anti-worker, pro-business measures
.

THE LATEST congressional showdown over federal spending–with another threat of another government shutdown looming over it all–is starting to look like a bad TV police drama, ending with a familiar scene of “good cop/bad cop.”

The “bad” cop: the Republicans, led by foaming-at-the-mouth Tea Partiers like Texas Sen. Ted Cruz, threatening a shutdown of the federal government unless Barack Obama’s health care law, the Affordable Care Act (ACA), is defunded.

The “good” cop: the Obama administration and the Democrats, loudly insisting that they’ll never give up on health care reform or let the government close because they care about working people–while quietly agreeing to many of the cuts and concessions that the Republicans want, and claiming they’re being “responsible” for doing so.

The two sides seem so far apart that they’ll never agree on anything, but we all know how “good cop/bad cop” works. The Republicans and Democrats are getting much more of what they each want than anyone lets on–and the target of their routine, which in this case is tens of millions of working-class Americans, is getting played.

The same scene has spun out over and over during the Obama presidency–the Republicans playing the part of the budget-cutting maniacs, pushing hard to shred the social safety net altogether, while the Democrats act like they’re powerless to do anything about it, and then go along with most of what the Republicans want.

The Democrats support the least-worst “realistic” option–and claim it’s the best they can do.

At the end of 2010, after almost two years in office, Obama and the Democrats finally acted on their campaign promise to rescind the Bush-era tax cuts for the super-richest of Americans. Even though a majority of people supported them, even though the Democrats were still a majority in both houses of Congress, the Democrats agreed to a two-year extension of the tax cuts for the rich, in return for a temporary extension of supplemental unemployment benefits and the payroll tax cut.

In the summer of 2011, the Obama administration needed an act of Congress to raise the debt ceiling or the U.S. government would go into default–but the Republicans refused even Obama’s offer of a “grand bargain” to impose three times as much reduction in spending, including Social Security and Medicare, as increases in tax revenues. Even Corporate America warned against the Republicans’ game of chicken with the world economy. But it was the Democrats who capitulated, agreeing to even deeper spending cuts.

There were more showdowns at the start of 2013, in the wake of an election that Obama won easily. The outcome: Obama agreed to $85 billion in federal spending cuts, including furloughs of thousands of federal workers and cuts to supplement jobless benefits for the long-term unemployed.

If this is “standing up” to the Republicans, you don’t want to know what caving in looks like.

- – – – – – – – – – – – – – – -

NOW, THERE’S another looming government shutdown, and the Affordable Care Act is on the chopping block. October 1 is supposed to be the start date of the new state-based “insurance exchanges,” created under the 2010 health care law, where individuals who don’t have health insurance can go to obtain “minimal essential” coverage. If they don’t, they risk paying penalties with their taxes.

The individual “mandate” will force millions and millions of new customers into the arms of private insurers–and leave billions and billions of dollars in their bank accounts. The insurance giants knew there were windfall profits to be made from a new health care law, which is why their lobbyists were in place to help shape the legislation–to make sure, for example, that there was no “public option” for mandated insurance that would compete with private companies.

That was the “inside” strategy, while the Republicans represented the “outside” strategy–continual obstructionism to make sure the Democrats continued to compromise on every question.

This “Plan B” continues today. Last week, the Republican-controlled House voted–almost exactly on party lines–to continue funding federal government operations after the cutoff date of September 30, but to defund the ACA. With a tear in his eye, House Speaker John Boehner called this a “victory for the American people and a victory for common sense.”

Then, Texas Republican Sen. Ted Cruz took the fight to the Senate, where he staged his own filibuster on Tuesday, claiming that the Democrats were willing to risk a government shutdown rather than put the brakes on the health care law.

Most Senate Republicans distanced themselves from Cruz. But they don’t want to distance themselves from the assault on the health care law. Thus, Senate Minority Leader Mitch McConnell of Kentucky said he disagrees with the threat to shut down the government as of September 30–but he’s just fine with gutting the ACA.

The ACA is a far cry from what’s needed to provide access to affordable health care in the U.S. But that’s not why Republicans are opposing it. From Boehner to Cruz and the others, the Republicans’ fierce opposition to “Obamacare” is another example of playing politics with people’s lives for personal gain–sometimes very personal gain.

While Cruz says his stance on health care is all about the folks back home in Texas, there’s a much bigger influence on him. In May, he was among the special guests at an exclusive party thrown by the arch-conservative oil billionaire Koch Brothers in Palm Springs, Calif.

At the “party,” the Kochs outlined a new focus for Republicans, working toward smaller government and deregulation rather than pressing losing social issues like immigration. Cruz, one of the “rising stars” at the event, is an important part of the project.

The Koch Brothers are up to their elbows in the crusade against Obama’s health care law. In the run-up to the October 1 start-up of the insurance exchanges, they’re backing a campaign to get people to not sign up. For example, a Virginia-based organization with ties to the Kochs is running a campaign of television ads–complete with gynecological exams being performed by a spooky Uncle Sam figure–aimed at scaring off college students and young people.

Meanwhile, the Democrats are more than happy to have fanatics like Cruz attacking them in Congress–it helps them look like they’re trying to get something done. Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid declared that the Democrats would reject any attempts by Cruz and others to gut the ACA–but he invited advice from “responsible” Republicans on even more compromises in a thoroughly compromised law.

The Republicans won’t get away with defunding the health care law as long as the Democrats control the Senate. But in the meanwhile, they’re loading up spending legislation with all their favorite anti-worker, pro-business measures: means-testing for Medicare, medical liability “reform,” shredding the federal employee retirement system, eliminating the Dodd-Frank financial regulations passed in 2010, weakening the Environmental Protection Agency, restricting other federal regulators, and expanding offshore energy production.

With Democrats talking tough about the ACA, but showing their willingness to compromise on other questions, who knows how many of these pet projects of the right–most of them considered fringe issues for many years–will make it into the “compromise” that ends this latest crisis.

- – – – – – – – – – – – – – – -

THE LACK of a real debate over health care has had an effect–opinion polls reflect the effects of the confusion being sown by the Republicans. Some 42 percent of Americans have an unfavorable view of the ACA, compared to only 37 percent with a positive view, according to an August poll from the Kaiser Family Foundation. Republican scaremongering has had a lot to do with that result–but it also shows the widespread misgivings about the real inadequacies that have been exposed about the health care law.

Amid the phony debate about Obamacare, there’s a real health care emergency taking place in America. Last year, some 48 million people–about 15 percent of the population–went without health insurance, according to the U.S. Census Bureau. A quarter of people who earn less than $25,000 annually don’t have health insurance.

“Reform” as it exists in the Obama health care law–rife with loopholes, compromises and watered-down provisions–won’t come close to fixing this gap. The ACA won’t confront skyrocketing health care costs or reform the wasteful and inefficient way for-profit health care is delivered.

But the opposition to the law in Washington isn’t only about the ACA. We’re seeing the same script play out: Intransigent Republicans go on the attack–with or without a majority–and Democrats compromise. For all the flashes of anger and indignation, the good cop and the bad cop end up working together to carry through an austerity agenda that whittles away at the living standards of working people.

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Phew! That Putin “lifeline” to Obama

September 10, 2013 at 9:55 am (Democratic Party, Jim D, Middle East, Obama, Republican Party, Russia, Syria, war)

Obama, Putin Briefly Interact at G20 Beginning
Above: it’s almost as though they like each other

Most decent people will, instinctively, welcome Putin’s proposal that Assad places his chemical weapons under some kind of international control. Anything that makes an escalation of the conflict less likely can only be A Good Thing. Whether the proposal actually comes to anything is, of course, highly doubtful.

Juan Cole (http://www.juancole.com/2013/09/congress-embarrassing-themselves.html), as usual, carries a pretty shrewd analysis of what’s going on, noting that Putin has (for whatever reason) helped Obama “avoid the most embarrassing defeat in congress on a major international issue since that body told Woodrow Wilson where he could stick his League of Nations.”

However, it seems to me that Cole is a little too willing to give credit to Putin (Cole of course is a liberal-leftist, but the right-wing media, like Fox News, are taking the much same line). After all, the proposal came initially from John Kerry, even if it was an off-the-cuff remark. And Cole’s dismissal of Obama’s claim that the Putin initiative “would not have come about without his own sabre-rattling” seems to be a dismissal of something that’s merely a self-evident statement of fact.

Of course, Assad (against all the evidence) has still not admitted to having used chemical weapons in Ghouta on 21 August, though Putin now seems (de facto, at least) to accept that even if Assad didn’t personally order the atrocity, elements within the Syrian army were responsible.

If the Syrian rebels were supportable, we’d be calling for their victory over the mass-murderer Assad. But they’re not, so we can’t. The best we can realistically hope for is a compromise between the rebels and the regime: as Cole argues, when both sides are sufficiently exhausted, there may be the sort of agreement that ended the Lebanese civil war in 1989. Not ideal, but probably the least-bad option going.

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After the Great March (by Max Shachtman)

August 29, 2013 at 9:33 am (Anti-Racism, AWL, civil rights, class, Democratic Party, history, posted by JD, protest, Racism, Shachtman, socialism, solidarity, unions, United States)

Max Shachtman

Above: Max Shachtman 

From the Workers Liberty website:

This speech was made by Max Shachtman soon after the famous March on Washington for civil rights of 28 August 1963, and appeared in New America, the paper of the Socialist Party (USA), on 24 September 1963.

It is not the revolutionary Shachtman of the 1940s and early 50s, but the call for an alliance with the labour movement is interesting and valuable.


The superb demonstration for civil rights has come to its grandiose conclusion, as you know. And we of the Socialist Party are immensely proud and gratified over its spectacular triumph.

Not because we invented this movement, not because we led this movement – we did not; but because its triumph is our triumph, as it is that of all people who cherish freedom, democracy, and human equality. Every achievement in this fight for human rights is, as we see it, a milestone on the road to that complete socialist democracy which at once our ideal and our political goal.

Our pride is sustained by the thought that today and tomorrow, as from the beginning, we have been supporters, firm and without reservation, of the civil rights movement and of its goal. I say firm and without reservation – and also without partisan interest or concern. We socialists have no “instructions”, or as they say nowadays, “directives”, to give the civil rights movement.

We shun such a role, in the first place. And in the second place, we have no criticism to make of a movement that has achieved so brilliant a record of success in mobilising millions, literally millions, in struggles all over the nation.

The spokesmen for the March were united in proclaiming it, at Lincoln Memorial, as only a beginning. And with the end of the March, the question naturally rises: What next?

We socialists are obliged to be true to ourselves. We are a political organisation. Politics is our means. It is our justification for existence. And I want to confine my remarks to nothing than an explanation, an explanation, of how we see the political strategy that can under these difficult circumstances multiply and speed the goal that we socialists and the civil rights movement seek in common.

The demonstrations and the battles that preceded it as surely as they will follow it have been superb, as I said, and as you well know. Now, after seven years of this brave American movement, it is time to draw up some provisional balance sheets, at the least.

What have been the results? What have been the results of this cry from the bottom of the hearts of millions of people who for a century have waited so patiently?

We now have the civil rights bill sponsored by the Administration limping along in Congress. We have many friendly statements which were not forthcoming until the Negro people in this country began to put on the pressure, the statements from the most respectable circles of this country.

There has been a little integration in the South, a little. Some airports are now available to absorb the masses of Negroes who travel by plane. There are some golflinks the large majority of Negro people can play on, just as you and I. There are some restaurants where we can have a quick coca-cola. Some jobs have been given to Negroes here and there, that’s all, just a few here and a few there. And a few other things – a very few other things.

It is very considerable, I would say, as compared with what was the status quo several years ago. But it is still trivial in comparison with both the need and the aspiration. And that is the problem.

The other day I read a report in the New York Times from Los Angeles about the activity of the civil rights movement there. The civil rights movements, organisations, are combined there, as in many places, into what is called the Civil Rights Committee. It has, as do so many other civil rights organisations, an employment committee, which is headed by a man named Eugene Franklin, according to the report.

Upon being questioned by the reporter from the Times on what progress has been made, he says, “Oh yes. Everybody’s issuing policy statements supporting us. But we haven’t put any people to work yet”.

Now, I want deliberately to exaggerate without caricaturing the reality. And say that everything – I’m exaggerating, but not by much – everything depends upon jobs.

The living standards of the Negro, unspeakably and abominably low, depend on jobs. For the Negro in particular, access to whatever educational facilities there are especially in the higher categories, depends on jobs, not on poverty.

The facilities that are available for medical care and housing – if you can call the dismal quarters reserved for most Negroes “housing” today – depend on jobs. The power which almost every group in the country has utilised to advance its interests requires the economic power is given to you by work,  by jobs, by important jobs, by necessary jobs, by indispensable jobs, so that you can withdraw your power in order to enforce your demands. To the greatly underemployed Negro mass, this power is not sufficiently available without jobs.

I do not want to speak extensively on that subject that will be dealt with elsewhere, but I want to go to the next aspect of it.

Jobs, in turn, depend upon the state of the economy. You may be for jobs and I may be for jobs, but if the economy is not working, even to the extent that our dubious prosperity under American capitalism allows it to work, there will be no jobs.

There will be no jobs for the “superior” people, and if there are no jobs for the “superior” people, there will certainly be no jobs for the “inferior” people.

And the economy is in terrible shape. We are lagging behind this country, we are told, and we are lagging behind that country. In fact, sometimes the world seems to be divided between the US and the countries it is lagging behind. That’s how it is in a wealthy country like this, in an unimaginably wealthy country like this, where continual mass unemployment is made even weightier by the number of resolutions and promises to liquidate it which do not change the number of unemployed. And here’s where I see politics come in.

All important steps of progress in the US today, in so far as they depend upon government enactments, government initiatives, are stalled today, as yesterday, by the existence of the power of the great anonymous party in the US. That anonymous party which, though it submits no candidates formally to the electorate, is known more popularly – popularly? no, it is known more widely – as the Dixiecrat-Republican coalition.

It is not the whole evil in this country, but it is one of the most poisonous roots of the evil in this country. It is the prop, in turn of our two traditional big political parties in the US. It is the prop, in its own way, of the Administration and of the official opposition.

And existing side by side with it is an unutilised power of immense proportions, the political power of the Negro people in the US. This is not just 10% of the population, that statistic tells us nothing. It is a very important 10%, because it is a concentrated 10%.

It is 10% in the nation. But while it is not 10% in Wyoming, it is almost 50% in NY. It is not 10% of Kansas, of all such states which do not have such great importance, but it is 25% of Chicago, it is a third or so of St Louis, and so on and so forth throughout the country in the most important political and economic centres.

It is a concentrated political power, and in many centres it can be the balance of political power.

I’d like to see, if I may intrude on this subject, I would like to see the Negro people in this country, starting with a few who speedily become the great number, become imbued with an active consciousness of their tremendous political power in American society, and of how greatly all political decisions made in this country are dependent on this power and how it is exercised. And I would like to see the adoption of a political strategy by the civil rights movement, and not by it alone, which starts by putting forth as its main slogan – not the only one, but the main slogan for the present period: Drive the Dixiecrats out of power in the United States!

I have my radical moments, you know, and I would go even further. I would say: drive them out of politics altogether. But I know that’s a very radical idea and I won’t insist on it.

I heard the Dixiecrat spokesman on TV in the very midst of the demonstration at Lincoln Memorial, a person whose name I don’t like to mention in polite and civilised society. He says he find nothing wrong in the country. Not that he has any prejudices against Negroies, but there’s nothing wrong, they enjoy the greatest freedom of any people in the entire world. Now, that man has a unman form, more or less, but since he is not a civilised person he should be removed from the field of politics. For by his own admission he does not understand the first thing about what is happening in this country, and a statesman or a representative has no right to occupy a public office unless he understands at least the first thing about what’s going on in the country. Drive the Dixiecrats out of power!

Now you may say: them alone? No. But from my teachers I learned the great, profound socialists and agricultural truth: every season has its vegetable. This season – drive the Dixiecrats out of power. If you succeed, and to the extent you succeed, in driving them out of power, you have broken the backbone of the Dixiecrat-Republican coalition. In itself, it is small. But due to the constellation of political forces in this country, it presents an enormous obstacle to all forms of social progress in this country.

Without the Dixiecrats, the Republicans, from the populous states of the Mid-west, from the mountains and from the deserts and from the rivers and all the other important population centres, have no significant political power in this country.

To smash the Dixiecrats will not only break the power of the coalition, it will break the backbone, as I understand it, of what is called, and this is the popular sociological term today, the power structure – I never heard this stuff when I was a kid, but it’s mighty popular now – it will break the backbone of the power structure in the United Startes. Its success will lift us all onto a new stage of political revolution in the land.

You may well ask: what about the North? There are no pronounced, conspicuous, influential Dixiecrats there. That’s true. But there are people who are in the same party as Dixiecrats. They are no Dixiecrats, they’re civilised people. But their civilisedness is kept under extreme control. They say: “We have our differences with our Southern brothers; they are Democrats of one kind, we of another; we cannot be held responsible for them, and on occasion we vote differently from them”.

To every political spokesman in the North must be put the question, and not in too polite a way – no, that sounds too bad; in a polite way, in a polite and insistent and unintermittent way – not the question: Do you differ with the Dixiecrat? but: Will you break with the Dixiecrats? Will you repudiate the Dixiecrats? Will you isolate the Dixiecrats? Will you help drive the Dixiecrats out of power? Or are your promises about liberalism, about which we have heard so much – white liberalism, and, if I may say so without offence, black liberalism – just so many nice words? Read the rest of this entry »

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Huey Long: a study in populism…and racism

March 27, 2013 at 7:26 pm (Andrew C, Cross-post, Democratic Party, fascism, history, Jim D, Latin America, populism, Racism, United States)

With populism  in the air at home and abroad, our old friend Coatsey draws our attention to this exposé of the horrible (but still supposedly “left”) CounterPunch magazine’s attempt to paint the racist Huey Long as some sort of progressive in the Hugo Chavez mould. Regular readers will know that here at Shiraz we don’t share the prevailing liberal-leftist adulation of el Comandante, but to compare him to the racist Long is simply an insult to Chavez (and a particularly ironic one: see below). It’s time that some leftist idiots realised that anti-capitalist rhetoric does not a socialist make.

Mike Whitney has posted an article on CounterPunch titled Our Chavez: Huey Long. There seems to be an effort in recent years on the part of some people to try to portray the sometime governor of Louisiana and U.S.Senator as a great champion of the people, no doubt because of his anti-capitalist rhetoric. Yet when one takes a closer look at his life, it becomes clear that things were not that simple.

During Long’s lifetime, most of the Left regarded him with deep wariness, if not outright hostility. There were good reasons for that. First of all, he governed Louisiana as a virtual dictator. He even organized a secret police force to keep watch on his opponents as well as on his followers.

Long was also a white supremacist. He maintained Louisisana’s Jim Crow laws. (Long would sometimes smear his opponents by spreading rumors that they had “coffee blood”. This gives a bitter irony to calling him “our Chavez”.) Long’s apologists point out that he didn’t talk about white supremacy in his speeches. This was perhaps because he didn’t need to. In 1935, Roy Wilkins interviewed Long for The Criis. They discussed an anti-lynching bill that Long opposed in the Senate…

Read the full article here

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Yet again on lesser-evilism

November 8, 2012 at 8:43 pm (capitalist crisis, Democratic Party, James P. Cannon, Jim D, mccarthyism, Republican Party, trotskyism, unions, United States, workers)

I spent most of yesterday in a room full of British trade unionists, all of whom would regard themselves as (to varying degrees) on the political left. To a person, every one of them that I spoke to, or overheard, expressed pleasure and relief at the US election result.

In fact, I find it inconceivable that any socialist or, indeed, liberal, wouldn’t feel that way. I do not include deranged anti-Americans of the Pilger/Counterpunch variety.

Of course, a general sense of pleasure and/or relief at the outcome need not, necessarily, be predicated  upon having advocated a vote for Obama. And there is, of course, a long-standing leftist (specifically Trotskyist) argument against advocating a vote for the US Democrats, which I’ll come on to in a moment.

But even those of us who have never had any great illusions in Obama, need to recognise what his presidency represents for Afro-Americans and other minorities (notably Hispanics), and just what a blow to their morale and self-confidence a Romney victory would have been. It is also a fact that, rightly or wrongly, the majority of unions in the US backed Obama. All reports suggest, as well,  that the mass of ordinary people outside the US, feared that a Romney victory would make the world as a whole a more dangerous place.

Now, of course, the orthodox (and not-so-orthodox) Trotskyist position has always been that the Democrats are simply a bosses’ party (in a way, for instance, that the  UK Labour Party, being a “bourgeois workers’ party”, isn’t) and so a vote for them is impermissible. Instead, we should advocate the creation of a US ‘labor party’. The great American Trotskyist leader James P. Cannon (of whom I am a considerable, though not uncritical, admirer), wrote extensively on this subject, and his articles repay study. Unfortunately, they are not readily available these days.

James P Cannon

James P. Cannon

Here’s an excerpt from a 1954 article entitled “A New Declaration of Independence”.  I had better explain that Cannon regarded McCarthyism as “American fascism in incipient form.” Whether or not he was correct about that (and, indeed, whether such an analysis of the Tea Party movement would be appropriate today), is not the central issue here.

Cannon argued that:

“[T]he myopic policy of the liberals and the labor leaders is concentrated on the congessional elections next fall, and the presidential election to follow in 1956. A Democratic victory is counted on to deal a death blow to the McCarthy aberration. ‘McCarthyism is becoming a danger all right, and it begins to look like a fascist movement; but all we need is a general mobilisation at the polls to put the Democrats back in power.’ Such are the arguments we already hear from the Democratic high command, the literary liberals, the labor leaders and — skulking in the rear of the caravan, with their tails between their legs — the Stalinists.

“This would really be laughable if humor were in place where deadly serious matters are concerned. The Roosevelt New Deal, under far more favourable conditions, couldn’t find a way to hold back the economic crisis without a war. A Stevensonian version of the same policy, under worse conditions, could only be expected to fail more miserably. A Democratic victory might arrest the hitherto unobstructed march of McCarthyism while it re-forms its ranks. It might even bring a temporary moderation of the fury of the witch-hunt. But that’s all.

“The fascist movement would probably begin to grow again with the growth of the crisis. It would probably take on an even more militant character, if it is pushed out of the administration and compelled to develop as an unofficial movement. Under conditions of a serious crisis, an unofficial  fascist movement would grow all the more stormily, to the extent that the labor movement would support the Democratic administration, and depend on it to restrain the fascists by police measures.

“Such a policy, as the experience of Italy and Germany has already shown, would only paralyze the active resitance of the workers themselves, while giving the fascist gangs a virtually free reign. Moreover, by remaining tied to the Democratic administration, the labor movement would take upon itself a large part of the responsibility for the economic crisis and feed the flames of fascist demagogy around the question.

“That would be something to see: The fascists howling about the crisis, and stirring up the hungry and desperate people with the most extravagent promises, while the labor leaders defend the administration. The official labor leaders are fully capable of such idiocy, as they demonstrated in the last presidential election. But with the best will in the world to help the democratic administration, they couldn’t maintain such a position very long.

“The workers will most probably accept the recommendation of the labor leaders to seek escape from the crisis by replacing Republican rascals by Democratic scoundrels in the next election. But when the latter become officially responsible for the administration, and prove powerless to cope with the crisis, the workers will certainly draw some conclusions from their unfortunate experiences. The deeper the crisis and the more brutal the fascist aggression fed by the crisis, the more insistent will be the demand for a radical change of policy and a more adequate leadership.

From all indications, the workers’ discontent will be concentrated, at first, in the demand for a labor party of their own. This will most probably be realized. It will not yet signify the victory over fascism — not by a long shot — but it will represent the beginning of a counter-movement which will have every chance to end in victory.”

I have to say that I find most of Cannon’s case unconvincing and (ironically for an outspoken anti-Stalinist) verging upon Third Period Stalinism. Just at a factual level, I don’t think it’s accurate to dismiss the New Deal as something that could not have succeeded without a war, or to suggest such a policy in the 1950’s was doomed to “fail miserably”. Certainly, Cannon produces no evidence to back up that claim. His argument against illusions in the Democrats and the dangers of being seen to defend a Democratic administration are fair enough, but do not amount to a coherent case against even voting for the Democratic Party – any more than the danger of sewing illusions in the UK Labour Party and giving uncritical support to a Labour government, are arguments against a Labour vote.

In fact Cannon, it seems to me, fundamentally undermines his own argument by concluding that workers’ discontent with a Democratic administration at that time would result in the demand for a labor party, which “will most probably be realised.” That would seem to be an argument in favour of getting the Democrats elected, not against it.

I have quoted Cannon’s argument at some length so as not to risk the charge of having taken him out of context. And I decided to quote Cannon in the first place because his writings on the US labor movement are generally of a high standard, and because his arguments are still, essentially, the arguments put forward by serious people who oppose a Democrat vote.

(NB: “A New Declaration of Independence” was published in The Militant of April 12 1954, republished in Notebook of an Agitator, pub: Pathfinder Press 1958 & 1973)

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Obama, Romney, and the almost irresistable pull of lesser-evilism

November 4, 2012 at 5:35 pm (Champagne Charlie, Democratic Party, Obama, Pilger, Republican Party, strange situations, United States)

I’m bloody glad I don’t live in the USofA.

Because the more I see of, and hear from, this asshole…

…the more I just know that were I a US citizen right now, I’d be chucking overboard the traditional Trotskyist position and voting for Obama.

Especially as most of his critics on the so-called left” are such a shower, and this persuasive case has recently been made:

“It is noteworthy that four of the best decisions that Obama made during his presidency ran against the advice of much of his own administration. Numerous Democrats in Congress and the White House urged him to throw in the towel on health-care reform, but he was one of very few voices in his administration determined to see it through. Many of his own advisers, both economists steeped in free-market models and advisers anxious about a bailout-weary public, argued against his decision to extend credit to, and restructure, the auto industry. On Libya, Obama’s staff presented him with options either to posture ineffectually or do nothing; he alone forced them to draw up an option that would prevent a massacre. And Obama overruled some cautious advisers and decided to kill Osama bin Laden.”

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Samuel L. Jackson says “Wake The Fuck Up!”

September 28, 2012 at 6:51 pm (celebrity, Champagne Charlie, Democratic Party, elections, good honest filth, Republican Party, United States)

I am still far from convinced that US socialists should vote for Obama, but I have to admit that the more we see and hear that ignorant, dangerous jerk Romney, the more difficult it becomes to resist the lure of lesser-evilism.

However, I offer the film below not to in order to endorse Obama, but because it’s such an extraordinary production. It certainly puts the typical Brit “party election broadcast” to shame. Enjoy…

And on the subject of Obama-cool, here are a few pseudo-Blue Note album covers that I just stumbled across:

196724 276549335787194 128498206 n Jazz For Obama 2012: The benefit concert and the mock album covers542353 276907849084676 545146993 n Jazz For Obama 2012: The benefit concert and the mock album covers

262388 280732225368905 50012304 n Jazz For Obama 2012: The benefit concert and the mock album coverstumblr m9zy0he2401qmvhifo1 r2 500 Jazz For Obama 2012: The benefit concert and the mock album covers

H/t (album covers): Bruce R

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RomneyShambles

July 28, 2012 at 8:22 am (Champagne Charlie, comedy, Democratic Party, London, Republican Party, twat, United States)

The US Democrats have wasted no time in making capital out of Romney’s Olympian ineptitude in London. And who can blame them?

The RomneyShambles saw the US presidential contender lurch from one fax pas to another, speaking of “looking out of the backside of 10 Downing Street”, disclosing what was meant to be a secret meeting with MI6 and appearing to criticise London 2012 on the eve of the Games. The ineptitude is especially memorable because visiting England should have been the easy bit of a Romney foreign tour.

Meanwhile US comedian Stephen Colbert urged Romney to “stay strong.”

“Remember, your next stop is Israel. Keep up the charm offensive. I say you open your speech to the Knesset with, ‘America will always stand behind you and so will Jesus Christ. Now where can a boy get some baby-back ribs in Palestine?’”

NB: we publish the above purely for the information and amusement of readers, not because we feel terribly strongly about what Romney said. Mind, you, as Jonathan Freedland writes in today’s Graun:

“This remember, is the party that slammed John Kerry for the crime of speaking French. Its antics, like those of the man it has chosen for the presidency, would be funny were the Republican party not aspiring to hold an office that is still mighty and, for the rest of the world, deadly serious.”

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Yankee Doodle Cagney

July 4, 2012 at 5:21 pm (anti-fascism, cinema, Democratic Party, good people, Jim D, United States)

Today is the day when we’re allowed to wallow in nostalgia, sentimentality and (for us Brits) just a bit of faux US patriotism. And what better way of celebrating the 4th of July than remembering Jimmy Cagney, the “tough-guy” actor with a heart of pure Jell-O who brought George M. Cohan’s Yankee Doodle Boy to glorious singing, dancing, life on the big screen? Watch him in action here.

For all its patriotism – verging upon jingoism – the film ‘Yankee Doodle Dandy’ contains nothing that’s mean-spirited, bigoted or nationalistic in the worst sense. This is almost entirely due to Cagney’s warm, generous personality that somehow comes through the screen straight at you even after all those years. And, remember, it was released in 1942, just after America joined WWII. There is no doubt that Cagney (a member of the Hollywood Anti-Nazi League) saw the war as a great anti-fascist struggle.

It has long been wrongly believed, by both left and right, that Cagney was a member of the US Communist Party or at least a fellow-traveller. He wasn’t. What he was  (until old age, anyway) was a consistent liberal, a friend of the working class and organised labor and an actor whose image and roles gave heart and legitimacy not just to Irish immigrants in the US but to all the ethnic groups that comprise that great, though flawed, nation.

The Yankee Doodle Boy’s patriotism was big-hearted and inclusive. Today’s the day to celebrate it.

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Support Wisconsin’s public employees…and democrat senators!

March 1, 2011 at 6:59 pm (Champagne Charlie, Democratic Party, Republican Party, unions, United States)

 From Credo Action

Thank the Wisconsin 14

Democratic state senators in Wisconsin have been forced to flee the state to stop Gov. Walker’s radical attack on nurses, teachers and public employees. Now, Gov. Walker has ordered state police to hunt them down. Show solidarity with the 14 Wisconsin state senators by giving them your support.
> Take Action!

More on Wisconsin here and here

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