Archive for the 'U.S. Politics (domestic)' Category

A friendly note to America from a Canadian: Quit saying you’re the “envy of the world”!

untitled2Dear America,

You are bombarded every day with your media telling you that you are “the envy on the world”.

I’ve travelled to almost every Canadian province and spent considerable time in four of them.  I hate to burst your bubble but, contrary to your belief that you are “the envy of the world”, no Canadian that I’ve ever met — even in the most conservative parts of Alberta — has ever struck up a conversation with me saying:  “You know who I’m really envious of?  The USA.”  In no conversation I’ve ever had, even in conversations about America, has any Canadian, European, Aussie, Kiwi, Mexican or Asian that I’ve ever met said to me “Jeez, it really sucks that we’re not Americans.  I’m so jealous of them.”

I sometimes wonder if it’s just that you don’t realize how ridiculous this claim is.  The rest of the world can’t help but notice that no two people can even agree on why America is the envy of the world but that there is a compulsion to recite the refrain every day nevertheless.

The Jacksonville Progress publication yesterday seemed to suggest that America is the envy of the world because of its “people and for the God-given principles of freedom”.  (Apparently God only gave freedom to America, therefore the rest of the world is envious).

In a state of the union address, your outgoing President claimed instead that it was America’s economy that was the envy of the world.  (Apparently China’s nearly double or triple the US’s GDP growth rate isn’t as economically impressive or envious).

While, on a more ridiculous mindset, this news site seems to suggest that America’s peaceful exchange of power is what makes it the “envy of the world”.  (Apparently no other country has yet mastered that whole ‘democracy’ thing the Greeks were talking about 2000 years ago).

So you don’t even know why the world is supposed to be envious, but you just know that they are.  Am I the only one who sees how insane that is?

So please, America, take this in the nicest way possible, but if you ever plan on not being seen as a nation of fools (which you are not) and if you ever intend on repairing your image after 8 years of Bush, you absolutely have to stop saying that you are the envy of the world.

Signed,

A Canadian

Yet another wignut pundit claims Bush is a “socialist”

Yet another right-wing pundit last week claimed that Bush’ fascistic move to preserve the power and wealth of capitalists was actually “socialist.”

I can see that some people are having a difficult time understanding this, so let’s spell this out as clearly as I can:

Since we socialists can’t seem to agree on even the colour of shit, there are about as many different interpretations of socialism as there are socialists.  But the one thing that we have in common (along with some anarchists such as Noam Chomsky) is that we believe that the state can (and should) be used for a time to curtail the power of capitalists, to remove them from their position of ridiculous power and to redress the gross imbalance in wealth that they have accumulated for themselves while 18 million people (3 times 9/11) die globally every year due to poverty.

Fascists on the other hand believe in using the power of the state to preserve and enhance the power of capitalists (see, for instance, the collusion between Nazi Germany and the infamous Krupp family or Mussolini’s Corporatist régime) at the expense of workers.

I know, I know, it’s hard.  They both deal with the state AND capitalists!  It’s so confusing.  But here’s an easy mnemonic device to help remember the difference between the two for next time.

Saying that Bush’s fascist move this week is actually the same thing as “socialism” just because it involves the state and capitalists is a bit like saying that cancer-causing cigarettes are the same thing as chemotherapy because they both involve cancer and its spread.

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See Also:

More proof that liberal economics is a radical right-wing ideology

Two more now confirmed war crimes to add to Bush’s tally

Despite a complete media blackout on the story in Canada, the U.K. and the United States, the dean of the U.S. White House Press Corps, Hellen Thomas, recently received a great deal of online attention for daring to state the obvious.  By most accounts, the attention began on the popular social networking site reddit.com, which managed to raise several thousand dollars to send Ms. Thomas flowers for what was seen as her daring question for White House Press Secretary Dana Perino.

The ‘obvious’ thing that Thomas pointed out is, of course, that revelations of evidence (both photographic and otherwise) of the use of WWII-era torture techniques as well as evidence that U.S. President George W. Bush personally signed off on approving torture, necessarily means that President Bush lied when he said the U.S. does not torture.

However, even this somewhat subdued (yet obviously true) fact, has been met with a virtually complete media blackout.  One could even push the envelope even further in this matter though, and if North America had a critical press, Ms. Thomas’s question would not have been seen as either particularly extreme or controversial.  Rather, on the contrary, if Ms. Thomas wanted to be even more accurate, she could have also pointed out — with equal confidence — that these recent revelations on torture means that George W. Bush is, by definition, a war criminal and that this is but merely one of two items which came to light in the past two weeks which constitute war crimes on the part of the U.S. President.

The other revelation, which was covered somewhat in the mainstream press, was the revelation that U.S. President Bush blessed (and assisted through military aid) the expansion of the illegal Jewish settlements in Palestinian occupied territory.  Of course, acquiring lands through conquest constitutes not only a war crime but constitutes what Robert H. Jackson, chief prosecutor for the United States at the Nuremberg Trials, claimed was the “supreme” war crime.  This latter fact, yet again, was not mentioned in the mainstream media in North America or the U.K..

So, if you’re keeping track:  that’s two war crimes revealed in as many weeks.  The press has not only glossed over both revelations, but to the extent that Helen Thomas’s rather subdued and tame question about lying (rather than war crimes) has been addressed online or elsewhere, it has been treated as somehow radical.  Don’t get me wrong: Thomas deserves the utmost credit for posing her question in a forceful manner, but let’s not kid ourselves here — the lying is nowhere near as bad as the war crimes.

America: Just an awkward stage?

This is quite possibly the best one-liner comment on the social networking site reddit.com that I have ever read.

Short.  Precise.  Deliciously revolutionary.

“America is at that awkward stage. It’s too late to change the system from within, yet too early to shoot the bastards.”

That pretty much sums up my thinking on the subject, with the sole possible caveat that I’m not entirely convinced that it’s really too early to shoot the bastards.

Naomi Wolf on the end of America and the rise of fascism (audio)

socialist-podcast.pngEpisode #4 of the Paulitics Podcast has now been released.

This latest episode features a talk by Naomi Wolf on the topic of her new book entitled “The End of America”.

In it, Wolf discusses the historical evidence for 10 steps which are universally recognizable as benchmarks that a democracy is moving towards fascism or totalitarianism and how each of these ten steps is now being seen in one form or another in the United States under the Bush Administration.

To listen to Wolf’s talk or to download the episode, click here.

To find out how to subscribe to the podcast and have episodes brought to you automatically, click here.

To view past episodes of the Paulitics Podcast, click here.

Two great cartoons from Class War Panda

I just came across a fantastic and fairly new blog called Class War Panda that’s definitely worth a look at for anybody who has even the slightest bit of a sense of humour.

Nick, the good comrade who runs the site, proves once again — if ever more proof was needed — that humour can disarm unlike any other weapon.

Here are a couple of selections from his work:

ann-coulters-beating-heart.jpg

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neverforget.jpg

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U.S. and Tanzania best at clawing back women’s rights

According to the 2007 annual report on the global gender gap, the United States and Tanzania have had the most success at clawing back women’s rights amongst the top-teir (top 35) of the ranked countries.

The World Economic Forum has just released its 2007 annual report on the global gender gap and, in addition to the data on the United States and Tanzania, the report illustrates some interesting trends.  Obviously the World Economic Forum is not exactly stacked with socialists, but interestingly enough, its data goes a long way towards showing that the countries which chose to be animated by socialist values (even though they may retain a capitalist system) tend to be the best places for women’s equality.

From the Associated Press:

“Women in predominantly Muslim countries are struggling to compete for jobs, win equal pay and hold political office, falling behind the rest of the world in eliminating discrimination, according to a report issued Thursday by the World Economic Forum. 

Nordic countries, by contrast, received the best overall grades for gender parity in education, employment, health and politics, according to the review of 128 countries.

[…]

Overall, Canada’s score on the categories studies improved slightly, but that wasn’t enough to prevent the country from slipping to 18th from 14th spot in the world rankings. The United States finished in 31st spot down eight places from last year.

Sweden, which has more women than men holding high political office, topped the list, followed by fellow Nordics Norway, Finland and Iceland.

[…]

Ex-Soviet states with a Muslim majority, such as Azerbaijan and Kyrgyzstan, were in the middle of the field, but nearly all countries in the Middle East placed in the bottom third.

[…] [W]omen in Sri Lanka, South Africa, Cuba and Lesotho all fared better – relatively speaking – than women in industrialized countries such as Japan, Switzerland and the United States.”

The top 35 country standings are:

womens-inequality-ranking-2007-table.png

This is Cuba’s first year being ranked in the report yet already women in Cuba are ranked a full 9 places higher than women in the United States (as well as women in Japan and in Switzerland where women only got the right to vote in the last Canton in the 1980s).

Among the top-tier 35 countries, the countries with the greatest relative decreasing standard of living for women are:

#1: Tanzania (women’s global standing decreased by 8 places)
#2: The United States (women’s global standing decreased by 6 places)
#3: Macedonia (women’s global standing decreased by 5 places)
#4: Moldova and Canada [tied] (women’s global standing decreased by 4 places)

You can access the entire (lengthy) .pdf document on the gender gap, including the table included above, here.

More pro-conservative opinion manipulation at Angus-Reid

For those of you keeping tack, this is strike two against Angus-Reid in less than a month. (Strike one being this wonderful little piece of pro-conservative push polling which I discovered last month.)

Now Angus-Reid is finding new and more interesting ways to push pro-conservative propaganda on the public. This is a screen cap from Angus-Reid’s web page which I took approximately 20 minutes ago.  I haven’t altered anything except to add the highlighting.  The screen cap pretty much speaks for itself.

angus-reid-conservative-propaganda.png

So this is the top page of the press release that Angus-Reid sends out to the public and to all the media firms reads: “More Americans back long commitment in Iraq.”  Most people reading this headline would read this and likely think ‘oh, more Americans back a long commitment in Iraq than don’t.’

The only thing standing in the way of this is the pesky fact that a huge majority of Americans want U.S. troops out of Iraq either immediately or within the next year while fewer than 40% want to stay there.  BUT, the number of Americans who want to stay in Iraq just rose from slightly under one third to slightly over one third.  So “more” Americans want to stay in Iraq… than the previous proportion of Americans who wanted to stay in Iraq.

Oh, how beautifully ambiguous the word “more” can be when you deliberately leave out its referent.

Left-wing podcasting is here

Paulitics: Paul’s Socialist Podcast

You can now click on the sidebar to be taken to the new official podcast companion to the Paulitics: Paul’s Socialist Investigations blog.

The podcast is devoted to presenting unique discussions, debates, news commentary and academic lectures to the public from a broadly left-wing or socialist perspective.  Occasionally podcasts will be hosted by myself and my lovely co-host (AKA girlfriend) Kimberlee.  At other times, the podcasts will feature academic or activist speeches or talks on a variety of subjects ranging from resisting the U.S. Empire to capitalism to media propaganda to philosophy to socialism and to many, many, other topics.  Notable featured figures that I’ve already lined up include Noam Chomsky, Alex Callinicos, Tariq Ali, Naomi Klein and Cornel West.

Episode #1 featuring Noam Chomsky is already uploaded and ready to go for your listening pleasure.  I did have one minor glitch with the podcasting host’s promotional material — the 10 second spot didn’t go where I wanted it to go, so it interrupts Chomsky for about 10 seconds before coming back to him (you don’t miss anything, though).  I’ll definitely iron out this glitch for Episode #2 which will feature a talk on empire and Imperialism by Alex Callinicos. 

You can subscribe to the Paulitics podcast in any of the following ways:

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For more information (such as subscribing to the podcast even if you don’t have an iPod) go to the podcasting FAQ at the bottom of the page here.


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