Socioculture / Politics

I, too, saw the Jonah Goldberg view-from-the-cheap-seats column in the Chicago Tribune – “Why isn’t Julian Assange dead?” Of course, he’s not advocating that, Nooooo, he’s just curious about it theoretically. Salon’s Glenn Greenwald’ critique is as lucid as anything I could have said.

“Decadent governments often spawn a decadent citizenry. A 22-year-old Nebraska resident was arrested yesterday for waterboarding his girlfriend as she was tied to a couch, because he wanted to know if she was cheating on him with another man; I wonder where he learned that? There are less dramatic though no less nauseating examples of this dynamic. In The Chicago Tribune today, there is an Op-Ed from Jonah Goldberg — the supreme, living embodiment of a cowardly war cheerleader — headlined: “Why is Assange still alive?”

http://www.salon.com/news/wikileaks/index.html?story=/opinion/greenwald/2010/10/29/goldberg

Also, page down a bit to get Alex Pareene’s take:

“This suggests that not only has Goldberg not read any of the leaked documents (which are field reports that have nothing to do with anything about intelligence or the run-up to the war), but that he has never even skimmed a newspaper article that describes what the documents actually contain.”

Economics / Politics

The eternal question – why do working-class Americans continuously vote against their own enlightened self-interest? Why do we vilify successful social policies elsewhere instead of emulating, and improving, them here?

“Canada, Germany, Denmark, Norway, Finland, Sweden, and France now have greater social mobility — university education is free, or at minimal cost in Western Europe. Compared to other advanced industrialized countries which all provide universal health care, we are at the bottom in life expectancy and infant mortality. Americans have three months unpaid parental leave — Swedes have 13 months, paid. Unlike Western Europeans, we have no government legislated paid vacations. In Germany, the world’s largest exporter after China, workers get 6 weeks a year off. Americans average 13 days.
“American conservatives delight in predicting the imminent demise of socialistic Western European benefits. But these benefits are part of the social contract within which all major European political parties, including conservatives, operate. While large national debts are leading to some cuts in benefits, these cuts do not represent reneging on that contract, just as cuts to education in the U.S. do not represent reneging on government funding for education — which is part of our social contract.

” * European workers define themselves as working class which facilitates awareness that their interests are opposed to those of the upper classes — factory owners, bankers, financiers etc. Since WW2, the common wisdom in the U.S. has been that we have no working class. Factory workers, the folks who flip Hamburgers at MacDonald — they’re all middle class, so it’s a small leap to becoming upper middle class. Someday, with hard work and a little luck, you, or your children, could be making millions, or at least hundreds of thousands — true for a small percentage of working class Americans, but for the vast majority more than ever, a fantasy that discourages struggling for better conditions.
” * The shift to “we are all middle class,” coincided with virulent McCarthyism which lumped socialism and communism together — no distinction made between murderous, totalitarian Communist regimes, and democratic socialist societies developing in Europe — and turned both into un-American dirty words. (Right wingers’ attacks on centrist President Obama as a “socialist” testify that it remains an attack word 60 years later.) Talk of working class versus capitalist class, common among European workers, became anathema — such talk supposedly created class conflict where none existed. But it does exist. With all due respect to our many responsible CEO’s — and wealthy Americans willing to pay higher taxes — a vast majority care only about their bottom line.
” * Unions, still influential in Western Europe, are committed to democratic socialism. Since the 1970’s U.S. unions have been in sharp decline. Industry moving to un-unionized areas, employers — with their lawyers — using labor law to evade unionization, corrupt union leaders, have been factors. By the 1990’s most workers — especially blue collar — were without power and without the political education that unions historically provided.”

http://www.huffingtonpost.com/myriam-miedzian/capitalism-uber-alles-how_1_b_775495.html

Media / Politics

Columns like this, genuinely challenging columns that make a serious argument without denigrating the opposition, will be fewer and far between at the diminished Washington Post.

“In fact, the New Deal order produced the only three decades in American history — the ’50s, ’60s and ’70s — when economic security and opportunity were widely shared. It was the only period in the American chronicle when unions were big and powerful enough to ensure that corporate revenue actually trickled down to workers. It marked the only time in American history when, courtesy originally of the GI Bill, the number of Americans going to college surged. It was the only time when taxes on the rich were really significantly higher than taxes on the rest of us. It was the only time that the minimum wage kept pace (almost) with the cost of living. And it was the only time when most Americans felt confident enough about their economic prospects, and those of their nation, to support the taxes that built the postwar American infrastructure.
“Since the ascent of Ronald Reagan, though, America’s claim to being a land of opportunity has become a sick joke. Unions have dwindled; colleges have become unaffordable; manufacturing has gone abroad; taxes on the rich have plummeted; our infrastructure has decayed.”

It’s not just I’m Right, You’re Wrong – there’s genuine historical perspective here. You may disagree, but you’ll have to show your homework to make your case, as Meyerson clearly has done here.

http://www.washingtonpost.com/wp-dyn/content/article/2010/10/26/AR2010102605216.html

Politics

Much to my chagrin, Democrats will not ‘do fine on election day.’ But Jah bless Barack for shouting out to the admirable Tom Perriello.

“On the “Daily Show,” Obama said he hopes voters will reward some Democrats from largely conservative districts who took votes they knew would be bad politically but did so anyway because they thought it was the right thing to do. He named freshman Rep. Tom Perriello of Virginia, who voted for Obama’s health care overhaul and is in a tight race re-election race. Obama plans to campaign with Perriello on Friday.
“My hope is that those people are rewarded for taking those tough votes,” Obama said. “If they are, then I think Democrats will do fine on Election Day.”

http://news.yahoo.com/s/ap/20101028/ap_on_en_tv/us_obama_daily_show

Politics

America. America. God shed his grace on thee.

“Connecticut Republican Senate candidate Linda McMahon, a political novice who grew wealthy as a top executive at a professional wrestling league, won a minor victory.
“A federal judge in the state ruled that her supporters may wear professional wrestling paraphernalia to the polls on Tuesday without violating rules prohibiting electioneering at voting stations.”

http://www.bbc.co.uk/news/world-us-canada-11640133

Economics

This smells very fishy to me, although I’m used to the idea that if it’s out there at all, then it’s likely a done deal. Apple acquiring Sony has AOL/TimeWarner written all over it – a merger that diminishes both companies AND the merged entity. Adobe, I can maybe see. But Sony or Disney? Really? Disney?

“Helping to spark the speculation was a Saturday report in Barron’s that said Apple could be contemplating a big acquisition and noted speculation of Adobe (ADBE.O), Sony or Disney (DIS.N) as potential targets.”

http://news.yahoo.com/s/nm/20101026/bs_nm/us_sony_apple