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Political Eh-conomy: Working class disarmed, Canadian redux

Looking at the prevalence of strikes in the US over the past six decades, Doug Henwood writes,

Second Amendment fetishism aside, there’s an old saying that the working class’s ultimate weapon is withholding labor through slowdowns and strikes. By that measure, the U.S. working class has been effectively disarmed since the 1980s.

Doug then produces a graph showing a precipitous decline in the number of strikes in the US involving more than 1000 workers starting about three decades ago. Intrigued, two thoughts quickly crossed my mind. First, as is often the case, I wanted to see whether the same (Read more…)

Too Much Geography: Nate Silver, the Senate, and Hypocrisy

For the last midterm elections, I had the very good fortune of being in Washington DC, for the Rally to Restore Sanity. After looking at the American thoughtscape over the intervening years, I can pretty decisively say that the Rally’s objective has not been realized, and sanity is all too rare a commodity in America. We now approach another midterm election, with the projected results looking rather bleak for Democrats.

In one of his first looks at the Senate races ahead, Nate Silver says that there is a reasonable chance that the Republicans could pick up six seats (plus or (Read more…)

Political Eh-conomy: Political Eh-conomy Radio: In and out of crisis with Sam Gindin

Today’s podcast is a feature interview with fellow political economist Sam Gindin. I interrogate Sam about the political economy of the present: the exit from the 2007 crisis, the role of states, austerity, the place of finance and the possibilities of resistance.

Download: podcast-140314-sam-gindin.mp3

Sam Gindin is a left political economist with a long career. He was the longtime Research Director of the CAW and later held the Packer Visiting Chair in Social Justice at York University. Most recently, Sam authored The Making of Global Capitalism with Leo Panitch, a book that has gone on to win prestigious (Read more…)

Politics, Re-Spun: If the 1% Has Russell Brand Killed…

If the 1% has Russell Brand killed, we will see it in the corporate media as a drug OD relapse, or a freak accident.


He is dangerous because he fearlessly tells the truth and challenges pretence.

Let’s examine this in some detail here [with video]:

His brain works twice as fast as most brilliant people I’ve encountered in my life. He is the socio-political heir of George Carlin. He speaks truth to power AND the masses. And frankly, WE’VE FORGOTTEN THAT THE MASSES ARE THE POWER. He is sober, so no one can credit his speedy speaking style on (Read more…)

The Disaffected Lib: A Must Read – Why America Is Not in Decline, Except at Home.

America hasn’t really declined.  America simply went global and, in the process, turned its back on working-class Americans, blue and white collar.  A globalized America is an America of the 1%.  The rest who still believe are suckers.

That’s the premise of a fine essay in Politico by Sean Starrs, a PhD student at York University.

The author argues that Americans see decline when they’re in fact witnessing the impacts engineered into globalism.  America, or at least one segment of it, is actually doing very well indeed.  He contends we’re getting deceived by now obsolete metrics.

(Read more…)

Politics, Re-Spun: SUPPORT: Auto Unions in the US and Canada are on a Roll

With all the union busting and union bashing going on by the 1% and their compradors in government, it’s nice to see the labour movement getting some traction.

The next few days in Tennessee and Ontario could move workplace democracy and the 99% ahead significantly, with thousands of new unionized jobs to support families and communities. Here’s how.

Two huge organizing drives are going on to unionize autoworkers at two plants. Voting takes place THIS WEEK for Volkswagen workers in Tennessee to join the UAW and a multi-union pro-organizing rally for Toyota workers happens on Sunday in Kitchener to support (Read more…)

Things Are Good: The Day We Fight Back Against Spying

The Day We Fight Back against mass surveillance is today!

Thanks to Edward Snowden we have learned about America’s and other countries illegitimate and immoral mass surveillance operations. More revelations about the extent of the surveillance programs are sure to come. Just in the past couple of days it was revealed that the NSA operates a kill list based on SIM cards in cell phones regardless of who actually uses the phone.

The argument that we shouldn’t care about the surveillance because they only look at metadata is bunk. SIM cards are an example of the metadata the NSA (et. (Read more…)

Stop Canadian Complicity in Torture: FINALLY THE DRONES !!! And hopefully A LOT MORE to come about them !

First Look Media // The Intercept – LAUNCHED February 10, 2014 Defying Threats to Journalism, Jeremy Scahill & Glenn Greenwald Launch New Venture, The Intercept – Feb 10, 2014  THE INTERCEPT –  

                 FIRST LOOK MEDIA – 

Politics, Re-Spun: Because You’re Not As Dumb As They Think You Are!

Today is Friday. Let’s make it “think for ourselves Friday.”

It’ll work: the government/corporations/1% won’t see it coming!

Twitter / occupythemob:

December 17, 2013 Fried Squirrels (0) December 20, 2013 Enbridge: What Now? We Escalate Our Fight (4) January 7, 2012 Day Two of Tragedy of the Market: From Crisis to Commons (0) January 7, 2012 Opening Panel from the Tragedy of the Market: From Crisis to Commons (0)

Things Are Good: 4 Theories Why US Teenagers Are Driving Less

Cars are horrible for the environment and car infrastructure can have very negative impact on local economies so it’s nice to see enthusiasm for driving diminishing in younger generations. American teens are less likely to have a license and less likely to want to own a car than previous generations.

Does this mean the end of car culture in the States? Maybe, but for now all we do know is that their lower driving rates are already having an impact on energy policy in the states.

Growth in “vehicle-miles traveled” (VMT)—that key gauge of America’s love affair with the automobile (Read more…)

Politics, Re-Spun: Come On, Let’s Really Increase Taxes on the Rich

Well, here’s something you don’t see [ever] in corporate media: a review of tax measures in the USA since the crash in 2008 that have succeeded in increasing taxes on the rich. And it turns out, tax increases that are regressive [sales taxes, etc.] or include the non-rich, seemed to fail quite a bit.

How did these taxes on the 1% succeed?

One way is mixing “traditional lobbying with the direct action of the Occupy movement.”

And here’s some rationale for why the rich should pay more, with tax revenues going to restore and improve public services:

(Read more…)

Trashy's World: 2014 is the Chinese year of the horse. Does this mean I should blow a bundle at the track?

I don’t often “recycle” posts. Yes, I am lazy, but what’s the point of a blog if you just re-post old stuff? But I thought that I’d dig up last years “Resolutions” post to see how I made out and to add any new stuff. Turns out it was a bit (OK, a lot) of […]

Political Eh-conomy: Precarious workers or satisfied customers: a fine line for giant retailers

This post is an appendix of sorts to my article, “Fired by Walmart for Christmas”, to be published this weekend by Common Dreams. In the article, I describe the stresses and difficulties faced by Walmart workers during the holidays. Overwork, a climate of fear and barely-organized chaos make for taxing shifts at work. Low wages, insufficient hours and inadequate benefits stretch budgets and make it harder to find holiday joy at home. A Walmart Christmas could have easily been written by Dickens.

Here, I want to focus on an aspect of Walmart’s practices that stood out from my interviews (Read more…)

The Disaffected Lib: I Was Never Really Afraid of China Until I Read This

Chas Freeman, who served as Richard Nixon’s interpreter in his breakthrough 1972 visit to China, says the real danger from China is that it might just decide to become another United States.

Some might say that America’s problem with China boils down to a well-founded fear of China becoming more like us. Does the world have room for another country that is strong at arms, but a bit weak in the head?Might a powerful China seek to exempt itself from international norms or show indifference to the views of other countries? Might it develop a bloated military budget like (Read more…)

Things Are Good: A Soap Company That Fights For a Better America

Dr. Bronner’s Magic Soaps are known for their cleaning power, but are increasingly getting known for their political power. The CEO of the company is a good example of a leader that practices what he believes – and leverages the company to ensure his thoughts are shared. In one example, David Bronner, has capped all executive pay at his company to be five times the lowest paid employee.

He’s in getting news right now for his support of labelling genetically modified organisms sold in stores. In the past, he also took the government to court over their insane anti-hemp laws. (Read more…)

Terahertz: Same old politics or revolution?

Progressives are buzzing after British comedian-turned-revolutionary Russell Brand released his revolutionary manifesto as guest editor of the latest issue of New Statesman and went on an anti-capitalist rant when interviewed by Jeremy Paxman on BBC Newsnight.

The editorial is worth reading in its entirety. It wanders quite a bit but combined with the interview identify the core complaint that galvanized the support behind the 2011 London Riots, the Quebec protests, and the Occupy Movement: The system is broken and it won’t be fixed from within.

It’s easy enough to criticize Brand’s idealism (as he points out the left is quick (Read more…)

CuriosityCat: US Debt Ceiling: Issues Punted to early next year

The Cat goes to the Senate

Twenty-four hours of so before the US government ran out of money to pay its debts, Republican senators nudged aside the Tea Party senators and House representatives, to kick the can down the road and renew the fight in two months time:

The expected Senate deal would avoid a potential U.S. debt default, but it would only set new deadlines for lawmakers to make decisions about the long-term course of fiscal policy.

As outlined by aides, the deal would fund federal agencies through Jan. 15 and extend the nation’s borrowing authority through Feb. (Read more…)

CuriosityCat: Obama’s Powers and the Debt Ceiling Increase: What if the Tea Party is right?

Senator Collins

The debate is getting testy down south. The Republicans seem to believe that they have now become paragons of reasonableness, while the Democrats are risking armageddon:

Sen. Bob Corker, R-Tenn., said that while Republicans entered the shutdown debate with unreasonable demands to scuttle key portions of Obamacare, it is now Democrats who are guilty of bargaining too aggressively.

“Republicans started off in a place that was an overreach, to defund a law that was central to the president’s agenda was not achievable,” he said on “Fox News Sunday.” “Now Democrats are I think getting too cute. (Read more…)

. . . → Read More: CuriosityCat: Obama’s Powers and the Debt Ceiling Increase: What if the Tea Party is right?

Cowichan Conversations: North American Democracies Are Shut Down!-RMR-VIDEO

The Disaffected Lib: Has America Outstayed Its Welcome in Afghanistan Also?

Washington, and especially the Pentagon,  had big plans for a permanent military presence in Iraq until the Iraqis said “no.”  Then they packed up their tanks and left.

Now a similar scenario may be unfolding in Afghanistan.   With the American and Afghan government at loggerheads, next year could see a total pullout of U.S. forces.

American officials say they are preparing to suspend negotiations absent a breakthrough in the coming weeks, and a senior administration official said talk of resuming them with President Hamid Karzai’s successor, who will be chosen in elections set for next April, is, (Read more…)

Terahertz: Political Atheists

The Huffington Post has a piece comparing open atheists in government in the USA with the UK.

They note that only two American legislators have only ever really professed non-belief: Pete Stark and Barney Frank (the latter admitting it after leaving politics). Meanwhile, the current deputy Prime Minister of the UK, Nick Clegg, leader of the Liberal Democrats, is an atheist, as is Ed Miliband, Labour Party and Official Opposition Leader. Conservative Prime Minister David Cameron is a Christian but has brought in gay marriage and UK politicians are routinely reminded that Brits “don’t do god.”

Further to that, (Read more…)

Northern Insight: Lots of shock, tons of awe – You can help!

H/T: Susan H

Terahertz: Good and Bad People

There’s a Steven Weinberg quote that my atheist friends like to trot out (and I’m likely equally guilty of sharing).

With or without it you would have good people doing good things and evil people doing evil things. But for good people to do evil things, that takes religion.

The problem is though that there really aren’t just “good” and “evil” people. Never-minding shades of grey, you have good people who do good and bad things, often depending on their hormones, their mood, peer pressure, and a variety of other causes.

This is why restorative justice programs are so (Read more…)

Northern Insight: Bombs and explosives are chemical weapons too

An eastern blogger who I mentioned in this estimable piece from 2011, is a loquacious commentator for one of Canada’s preeminent welfare bums.  On his website Saturday, he joined the cheerleaders calling for cruise missiles and strategic bombers to visit Syria. One of the stated reasons,

“Nearly 1,500 innocent civilians were murdered by Bashar al-Assad on the morning of Aug. 21.”

That number is less than certain. According to Propublica and The Guardian, France set the count of dead at 281, Britain had it around 350 and the Americans at 1,429.

Of course, body counts in conflicts are (Read more…)

Politics, Re-Spun: Chemical Weapons in Syria? Merely a Pretext [Iran, Shhh.]

” It’s the Economy, Stupid.” [Or oil, or gas, or energy...]

If you think you know why Syria is happening [and happening NOW], you’re probably missing a number of the elements at play. Don’t expect western governments or the corporate media to enumerate these.

Sure, chemical weapons are horrible, but so are cluster bombs [called weapons of mass destruction in slow motion], which the USA has not abandoned. So we need to pay some mind to that hypocrisy.

Wars aren’t usually wars for better human rights, ideals and democracy. They’re always or almost always about power [even the (Read more…)