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Very well-spoken article poking fun at our enigmatic president, who continues to flirt with both of the groups who brought him to the Big Dance: the corporate/financial elites who paid for his campaign, and the millions of progressive Americans who mobilized and turned out the vote.

Inspirational words, impressive moves, and boyish good looks have kept the two suitors enamored thus far, but at some point Barack’s going to have to choose his partner for the slowdance. So far he’s been sipping punch with the bankrolling capitalists, who have seduced him with fancy airplanes and false promises, but we, the people have to work up the courage to demand his attention if we have any hope of him coming home with us at the end of the night. And we can’t hide our intentions; let’s make clear that partnering with us means rejecting the system that caused this crisis – capitalism. Let’s be realistic and demand the impossible. [alex]

Fred Astaire in the White House

by Michael Brownstein

Originally published by Reality Sandwich, April 13, 2009.

obamadancebig “You can never awaken using the same system that put you to sleep in the first place.”

–Gurdjieff

This is an appeal, an open letter, a cry in the night: no matter how cranky it may make us to brush the stardust from our eyes, no matter how many friends we think we’ll lose by looking long and hard at what’s going on around us, let’s try to stay awake. Let’s not lose touch with what we really want for ourselves. Let’s not forget what we know about the nature of consumer capitalism: it is unsustainable and unworkable because it depends on infinite expansion in a finite world. It can only survive by a violent takeover of what belongs to others. Let’s not settle for halfway measures.

And let’s not wait for deliverance from on high.

Because the president we elected — out of so much hope for a definitive break with what came before — is not who he seems. It’s true that unlike the previous inhabitant of the White House (remember him?), Barack Obama is sane, intelligent, and mature. He’s responsive to what others think. He hopes to institute real change in education, health care, the environment.

But even with his great charisma and silver tongue, he’s a proper soldier for the system which is ravishing the planet. As he said in his inauguration speech in January, already aware of the huge financial mess he was inheriting, “We will not apologize for our way of life.”

What do these words mean? They mean that the mall-i-zation of the planet will continue. They mean that the commercialization of all of life will not stop. They mean that our massive so-called footprint will never be substantially downsized.

And they mean that the force which has erased indigenous cultures and plant and animal species, which has sullied our air and soil and water, will essentially not be called into question, no matter how many of its most glaring excesses may be curbed.

Read the rest of this entry »


On President-elect Barack Obama’s first trip to the White House yesterday to meet privately with his predecessor, lame duck George W. Bush, reportedly the first and most pressing message Obama delivered to the man in charge was “bail out General Motors.”

Cartoon by The Rag Blog's Charlie Loving

Cartoon by The Rag Blog

The American taxpayers are sick and tired of their money being doled out to corporate crooks like the carbon-polluting, oil-guzzling auto industry, or banks like AIG who apparently weren’t satisfied by the first two bailouts and now want another. (They apparently spent too much of their last check on trips to the spa.)

Is this really Obama’s highest priority? Giving public money to private companies that will use it to pollute the planet?

If YOU had the opportunity to sit down with President Bush for an hour and have him actually listen to you, what would YOU ask him to do?

Why not instead bail out homeowners by ending foreclosures to keep people in their houses?

Why not bail out the poor, sick, and elderly, by instituting single-payer universal health care like every other industrialized nation does?

Why not bail out Iraqis, military families and soldiers by pulling U.S. forces out of Iraq and ending a bloody occupation? (or Afghanistan, or the 100+ countries where the US military is stationed)

Why not bail out human rights by ending torture, closing Guantanamo and allowing all prisoners a trial by jury?

Why not bail out civil rights by ending anti-immigrant raids and the criminalizing of immigration?

Why not bail out students, who are suffering from the greatest debt crisis in history as education becomes increasingly unaffordable?

Why not bail out the planet, by investing heavily in renewable energies controlled by local communities, urban gardens, home weatherization and create 5 million new Green Jobs?

Barack, if you’re going to be a president worthy of the immense praise and expectation placed on you, you’re going to need to stop palling around with terroristic industry and corporate lobbyists, and listen to the people.

[alex]

Sources: Obama pressed Bush for auto industry bailout

Originally published by CNN, November 11, 2008
Jessica Yellin, Candy Crowley, CNN’s Ed Henry

(CNN) – At their private Oval Office meeting on Monday, President-elect Barack Obama urged President Bush to support billions of dollars in aid for the struggling auto industry during the upcoming lame-duck session of Congress, according to three officials briefed on the meeting.

The officials said Bush privately expressed skepticism about taxpayer money for automakers on the heels of a string of government bailouts for other industries, and the president also urged Obama to help push through a free trade pact with Colombia Read the rest of this entry »



I’ve reposted a nice article which highlights the class dynamics at the heart of the current financial meltdown and potential bailout. It gives a very simple and straightforward summary from a revolutionary point of view, so I’m reposting it.

This is by no means a complete analysis however – for example it overlooks the critical role of oil, which is the lifeblood of the US capitalist economy and motivates many of its military aggression around the world. Specifically, there is a need to understand how the peak in global oil production has affected and continues to undermine the US-led industrial capitalist system, particularly in regards to the bursting of the housing bubble in the first place, along with the rising gas prices, food prices, heating costs, and subsequent inflation of the failing dollar.

Because oil production will never recover to its 2005/6 level, but will continue to decrease more rapidly, there can be no long-term recovery of the global financial markets, and for that reason I disagree with the declaration here that “Capitalism will not collapse…” On the contrary, it WILL collapse, because any system that structurally depends upon constant growth and speculation-upon-that-growth cannot coexist forever on a finite planet where necessary and crucial resources are in permanent and deepening shortage.

The current economic crisis is often compared to other historical crises of capitalism, where after appearing on the verge of death, the system restored itself and came back stronger than ever. Thus we are warned that capitalism is a self-destructive beast, but not a suicidal one. On its face this is solid logic but it overlooks the specific nature of the current crisis and its roots in the global peak oil phenomenon. It is my contention and the purpose of this website to demonstrate that the oil crisis is sucking global industrial capitalism dry like the vampire it is, and that there is no combination of “alternative” energy sources – whether coal, gas, nuclear, ethanol, wind, solar, whatever – that can do for this system what oil does.

Oil is not only the largest energy source, it also provides the material for 99% of pesticides (along with the entire industrial agriculture system), all plastics, almost all pharmaceutical drugs and chemicals, and a massive array of other products and components that keep the industrial economy chugging along. But the real killer is that oil literally fuels almost all transportation of materials and people for this system, including 95% of transportation in the US itself, as well as essentially ALL global air and sea transport. There is simply no way to keep this monster running without more and more petroleum.

Now, just because we’re confident that capitalism won’t recover from the current death-blows doesn’t mean a more vicious and destructive system won’t replace it, which is why this article’s conclusions are relevant and necessary. If we’re headed in the US towards fascism – which is where the rich and their Washington cronies seem to want to take us to protect their wealth and power – the only solution, which will become more and more apparent daily, is to organize a massive resistance here in the US that can stop the vampires and build towards a society based on freedom, justice and democracy.

[alex]

SOME TALKING POINTS ON THE FINANCIAL CRISIS
By Kate Griffiths and Isaac Silver

1. The era of the United States as a “the world’s only superpower” is ending.
The United States economy has not been this bad since the Great Depression. The rulers of the US hoped to retain global power militarily, through the wars in Iraq and Afghanistan, as the country’s raw economic superiority slipped. But these wars cannot be won: opposition among the occupied populations, and growing dissent within the military, prevent any victory on US terms even as the death toll climbs.

2. Beginning during the 1970s, manufacturing stalled, while government and investors focused on the financial sector: banks, real estate, and insurance.
Increasing competition, strong unions, and victories of the Black freedom movement had begun to limit the profits made by US corporations and threaten the power of the ruling class. In response, employers shifted good-paying manufacturing jobs overseas and to nonunionized areas of the USA. As wages stagnated, and workers’ purchasing power declined, workers maintained a precarious hold on our livelihood through working longer hours, sending more household members to work, and buying extensively on credit. The globalization of US capitalism and growth of credit both fueled the financial sector, which provided fluid economic resources that could be quickly moved and re-invested – unlike a physical investment such as a factory or railroad.

3. In 2008, years of government policies favoring the rich provoked instability and sparked collapse of major Wall Street institutions.
As the cost of the basic necessities went up, and wages failed to cover them Read the rest of this entry »


“Peak Oil and Energy Imperialism” by John Bellamy Foster in the latest issue of Monthly Review is at the tip of a growing awareness of Peak Oil among Left intellectuals. I’ve been waiting for this for a few years now, and it’s good to see that people are starting to make the connections between oil scarcity and US imperialism.

Foster is pushing a kind of “Green Marxism” – in fact the Monthly Review as a whole is beginning to focus quite a bit on energy and ecology in its critiques of US empire.

The approach is good – peak oil is examined with calm as an inevitable geological event, “alternative” energy sources like tar sands and ethanol are shown in their true nasty colors, and the reader is presented with the option of allowing the government to continue to assault those unfortunate enough to be born on top of oil reserves, or to work for a new humane world.

However, one place this critique falls short is in (explicitly or implicitly) propagating the notion that awareness of Peak Oil by neo-conservatives in the halls of power is what prompted aggression against Afghanistan, Iraq or Venezuela, and labeling this a “new energy imperialism.”

Unfortunately the capitalist system is far more complex and multi-faceted than that, and the neo-cons, like all US elites, are just tools existing to serve the interests of US corporations and the Pentagon, which they are doing quite well by continuing the same old foreign policy of trying to control the oil-rich Middle East (by force if necessary – with the added bonus of trillions of dollars of contracts for the military-industrial complex). If only it were as easy as pinning our problems on the ideas in the heads of those in power, all we’d need to do to end the crisis would be to put someone with better ideas in power! Sorry, it’s not gonna work like that.

The “energy imperialism” we see today as the US gears up for war with Iran is nothing “new” at all; it’s the exact same system that toppled Mossadegh in 1953, that provided tanks, planes and chemical weapons to both sides of the Iran-Iraq war throughout the 80s, and that has been pouring billions of dollars of military aid into Israel to act as regional policeman for 60 years.

The only thing that’s new is that the system is beginning to fail, and the US is having a much harder time maintaining its dominance over the Persian Gulf region, relying on brute force and direct occupation, and even that isn’t working for them anymore.

What we face is not a “new energy imperialism” but an old energy imperialism, newly being beaten. I see peak oil as a major catalyst in the inevitable crumbling of the US empire, and an immense opportunity for all who desire peace, justice or human rights. [alex]

Peak Oil and Energy Imperialism

by John Bellamy Foster

Originally published by Monthly Review. July/August 2008.

The rise in overt militarism and imperialism at the outset of the twenty-first century can plausibly be attributed largely to attempts by the dominant interests of the world economy to gain control over diminishing world oil supplies.1 Beginning in 1998 a series of strategic energy initiatives were launched in national security circles in the United States in response to: (1) the crossing of the 50 percent threshold in U.S. importation of foreign oil; (2) the disappearance of spare world oil production capacity; (3) concentration of an increasing percentage of all remaining conventional oil resources in the Persian Gulf; and (4) looming fears of peak oil.

The response of the vested interests to this world oil supply crisis was to construct what Michael Klare in Blood and Oil has called a global “strategy of maximum extraction.”2 This required that the United States as the hegemonic power, with the backing of the other leading capitalist states, seek to extend its control over world oil reserves with the object of boosting production. Seen in this light, the invasion and occupation of Afghanistan (the geopolitical doorway to Western access to Caspian Sea Basin oil and natural gas) following the 9/11 attacks, the 2003 invasion of Iraq, the rapid expansion of U.S. military activities in the Gulf of Guinea in Africa (where Washington sees itself as in competition with Beijing), and the increased threats now directed at Iran and Venezuela—all signal the rise of a dangerous new era of energy imperialism. Read the rest of this entry »

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