Whenever I hear the old joke, "He was born on third base but thinks he hit a triple," I cringe a little, because I immediately think of the inverse -- of the millions of people who are born with two strikes against them.
Lately I cringe when I hear the ludicrous charge being leveled against Barack Obama: that he intends to apply socialist policies in the United States. The charge is ludicrous because he does not intend such a thing -- not because socialism is ludicrous. To the contrary.
Here is another thing that makes me cringe:
"In America, if you have the brains and the talent and are willing to work as hard as it takes, you can make it to the top."
Well, yes; the operative word in that oft-repeated maxim is "can." But you can have a top-class brain and a top-class talent and work yourself to the bone and still go to the grave with nothing in this country... if you happen to have been born with two strikes against you.
That is to say: You can have the brains and the talent and all the drive imaginable, and end up at a dead end because you got pregnant at 16 when abortion was illegal or unavailable... and find yourself in your mid-thirties a cashier at Sears, bone-tired with three kids at night, answering all the "Jeopardy" questions, wondering how the hell you ended up single and miserable and resenting these kids you love.
You can be brilliant and gifted and work yourself silly to save money to transfer from community college to the Ivy League school that accepted you -- but because you were unlucky enough to be born into a bad neighbourhood you will never get to that hallowed school and instead be shot dead, collateral damage in a turf war drive-by shooting, itself the product of the sociological result of the grinding poverty produced by decades of racial and societal design.
Worse: Born with two strikes, you wind up before the pitch, you take a huge swing -- you miss, and you end up, at 17, in prison. And you spend the rest of your life going through a societally designed revolving door in that prison. You may have made that "first strike," but the odds were against you from the beginning. You never had a chance. And you're not alone. Watch MSNBC's "Lock Up: Raw" sometimes. Look at the faces on that show. Ever notice anything? Check out American prison statistics against American census numbers. The ratio of the American population as a whole to African-Americans in prison is grotesque. This is not accidental. Nor are African-Americans hard-wired to commit crimes. And people who dismiss slavery as having happened "200 years ago" and African-Americans and "liberal guilt" as "blaming everything on something that happened 200 years ago" had better check up on their MUCH more recent history.
See, brains and talent and hard work don't mean a thing when you aren't to the manour born in America; not unless you step into at least a tiny little bit of luck to go with it. And that shouldn't have to be the American Way.
And that's why the reflexively negative response to socialism angers me so much. Just what is so wrong with a level playing field? For that, after all, is what socialism is. A recent interviewer actually quoted Karl Marx's maxim derisively to Joe Biden: "From each according to his ability, to each according to his needs" (as if it were the sum total of Marx's philosophy). It is, however, a good beginning -- and that is, actually, what America desperately needs.
A level playing field, indeed. Imagine an America in which everyone begins life on home base, with no balls and no strikes. Or, to use a clearer analogy -- on a level field, rather than some on a mountaintop and some in a ditch. Simple, really: Healthcare for all, food and shelter, education and basic employment -- all basic necessities guaranteed for all. For every other element one might wish, one would simply have to... work hard. To compete in a truly free market, unemcumbered by hunger, by the disabilities of race, family circumstances, "who you know." One's merits would truly be the yardstick by which accomplishments, achievements and advancements would be measured. THAT... is socialism.
Now, WHO could feel threatened by THAT?
I'll tell you who: The TRUE elitists in this VERY unlevel playing field on which we all stumble and on which we've been playing, blindfolded, listening to propaganda over their corporate-funded loudspeakers for generations. Propaganda that's told us that "Socialism equals Communism equals Russia equals Stalin equals BAD!
When Americans hear the phrase "socialised Medicins, for instance, for decades we've picture Russian breadlines, as surely as Pavlov's dogs (a Russian scientist -- isn't THAT an irony) drooled when they heard bells ringing. Oh, yes, the moneyed elitist classes of America for generations have done spent their brainwashing dollars well: We, the People, have been cutting off our collective nose to spite our face and cheering jubilantly as we did it.
But a funny thing happened on the way to pay the health insurance bills: We bought computers. Little by little, the proletariat began to learn, picking up bits of information along with "barley legal porn." (It didn't hurt that the older folk began to die off. Sorry, grandpa.) The spectre of Stalin's Communist Russia, truly hideous as it was, began to fade; Communism isn't as easy to use as a completely dishonest conflationary scare tactic with the utterly, totally different Socialism when it's more of a paragraph in a history class than an actual memory.
And lately, we have several decades' worth of examples of wildly successful Socialist nations to refute arguments against Socialist philosophy and economics. Not hideous beasts of governments run amokl rather, governments providing basic necessities and services with fabulous efficiency, NOT meddling in their citizens' private lives... and then getting out of the way. And the citizens' approval ratings of their governments? Through the roof. Their Happiness index? Quality of life? Life expectancy? Through the roof. And ours? Let's just say we're competing with the likes of Bolivia.
So... Maybe Americans are getting... less stupid. Because for one thing, they're not buying the "Barack is a Socialist" garbage. And for another, they seem to recognise Socialism when they see it (See: $700 billion bailout for the financial system and using taxpayer money to do it)... and they seem, by all known polling systems, to think it would be a REALLY good idea to start doing some MORE of it -- where it counts: say, healthcare, education, green infrastructure...
SO WAKE THE FUCK UP, Washington and Corporate Elites. The Sleeping Giant is stirring. And I have... More Cowbell.
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Last Friday, two staffers for Judy Feder, the Democratic nominee for Virginia’s 10th congressional district, were assaulted by two individuals accompanying Rep. Frank Wolf (R-VA). Feder’s staffers were trying to ask Wolf about his support for Sen. John McCain’s (R-AZ) proposed $5,000 health care tax credit. Wolf stood idly by as the assault took place. Lowell Feld at Raising Kaine described the encounter:
The first Feder staffer was hit with a cane and then punched. The second staffer (as you will see on the video) was pinned to a wall and forcibly held there. All of this took place in the presence of Congressman Wolf, who stood by and did nothing to intervene.
There is a kind of split personality in politics; on the one hand you are always looking at the next election, even the day after your latest victory or defeat. One the other there is need for an institutional party continuity at the local, county, state[...]
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A federal jury on Monday found Republican Sen. Ted Stevens guilty of lying on his financial disclosure forms, ending in disgrace the four-decade Senate career of a man whose imprint on Alaska dates to before statehood.There are reports that there was a typo in the indictment which could possibly help Stevens
It is the highest-profile felony conviction in a sweeping four-year federal investigation into corruption in Alaska politics, and an almost unprecedented conviction by a jury of a sitting U.S. senator.
Jurors found that Stevens, 84, willfully filed false financial disclosure forms that hid such gifts as renovations that doubled his home in size. Those gifts, valued at as much as $250,000 over seven years, came mostly from his former friend Bill Allen, the star prosecution witness in Stevens' trial and the former owner of Veco Corp. The oilfield-services company was one of Alaska's largest private employers before Allen, caught up in the federal corruption probe, was forced to sell it last year.
Now, voters will decide whether Stevens, who has represented the state in the U.S. Senate since 1968 and before that helped usher in statehood for Alaska, should continue to serve as their senator. For the first time in his career, Stevens faces a competitive re-election fight, against Democratic Anchorage Mayor Mark Begich. - McClatchy
Long thought to be an industry that could be banked on for stability by defensive investors during periods of turmoil, the healthcare industry should now be carefully navigated.
Two sectors within the industry that are worth noting right now are healthcare…
Signs your presidential campaign isn't going well:
-- "Saturday Night Live" feels so bad about your campaign that it started making fun of the winning team on Saturday.
-- Your vice presidential candidate is going in a different direction.
Presidential and vice presidential candidates are supposed to work in a tandem, but as this year's major party presidential candidates are finding, often it doesn't happen.
Barack Obama and Joe Biden haven't always been on the same page, but they are Spencer Tracy and Katherine Hepburn compared to John McCain and Sarah Palin.
Perhaps because McCain and Palin are "mavericks" -- the natural course of disorganization follow them and makes them go in different paths.
But we all see what is happening. Sarah Palin sees the McCain campaign as a sinking ship, and she wants to captain the lifeboat. There is always the fear of being associated on a losing ticket, and never been heard from politically ever again.
Palin can ask "where are they now" about Jack Kemp and Dan Quayle. She doesn't want to follow the same fate.
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Between the "stressful" first day, "violent" juror and sudden adjournment, it was an exciting first week in Sen. Ted Stevens' trial and the second promises to be no different -- especially since deliberations are starting from square one.
On Friday, juror No. 4 was excused to return home after the death of her father. Judge Emmet Sullivan announced that he would check in with the juror over the weekend to determine whether or not she would be able to return.
But in the days following the adjournment juror No. 4 has been unreachable, and on Sunday, Sullivan decided to go ahead with deliberations replacing her with an alternate.
"We have four alternates for this reason," Judge Sullivan at the hearing Sunday according to the Anchorage Daily News.
The addition of an alternate juror means that deliberations -- which have been riddled with distractions -- will start anew.
This morning, after a brief vetting of the new juror, deliberations began again. Here at TPM we're not holding our breath that this is the last we hear from this drama-laden jury before a verdict.
Dennis on the current campaign: Here's one candidate who walks the walk for the American people.Go Dennis!http://kucinich.us[...]
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Rick Hertzberg notices Joe Lieberman beginning to edge towards the lifeboats as the USS McCain takes on more water. "Now it?s John McCain?s turn to discover what sort of 'friend' Joe Lieberman is." This sort of behavior isn't new, of course. As Rick[...]
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More out-of-state interests are trying to buy the Supreme Court elections this year.
The Law Enforcement Alliance of America is the latest group trying to make it's way into judicial elections. Unfortunately for them, a few journalists have actually researched their claims and found them to be false.
From the Sun Herald:
False ad pops up on CoastWAPT also put it to the truth test. Result: The ad is false!
Some say loophole allows it to run
Proponents of campaign-finance reform say a loophole in Mississippi law encourages misleading, anonymously sponsored television advertisements that out-of-state groups back to attack candidates they oppose.
This past week, incumbent Supreme Court Justice Oliver Diaz Jr. became the target of an inaccurate and misleading advertisement sponsored by the Law Enforcement Alliance of America, an organization headquartered near Washington, D.C.
LEAA, a group that has been backed by the National Rifle Association, is airing the advertisements on television stations from Jackson to the Coast.
They accuse Diaz of supporting two child killers and a rapist who murdered a woman. Diaz actually voted to give one convict a post-conviction hearing in Circuit Court, stay the execution of a second inmate pending a U.S. Supreme Court ruling on lethal injection and grant a new trial to a third defendant because of errors in a previous trial that the entire court acknowledged.