Michael Wilk

Author's details

Date registered: 03/31/2011
URL: http://www.gofundme.com/ClevelandVampire

Latest posts

  1. Who Can Live on Today’s Minimum Wage? — 08/31/2013
  2. Where the F*** are our priorities? — 08/30/2013
  3. Who decides who’s “viable”? — 04/03/2012
  4. Green Candidate Wins Primaries, Blasts Obama — 03/22/2012
  5. Obama’s Re-Election Isn’t Looking So In-the-Bag — 02/23/2012

Author's posts listings

Sep 15 2011

Obamabots On the Attack

On the Open Salon version of my previous entry, some right-winger who supports Obama kept trying to lay the blame for next year’s results on the left for failing to properly support the candidate who has done far more to pass the Republicans’ agenda than any GOP office-holder could have.

I am about certain Obama will be a one term president–and that one of the Republican clowns will win in 2012.

Most of the blame for that will fall with the unrealistic expectations and shortsightedness of people devoted to a progressive agenda.

Sep 09 2011

Obama’s Plan: Cut the Safety Net

So now we’ve heard Barry’s big “jobs speech” and it turns out to be the exact opposite of what is needed to rescue the crumbling nation.  No surprise there.

Obama’s so-called “jobs plan” is huge cuts in the payroll tax that are designed to manufacture a real future shortfall in Social Security, Medicare, and Medicaid, which will then be used as the rationale for imposing deep cuts on, or even the elimination of, all three programs.  Corporate tax cuts will drain even more revenue from the treasury, which will make extending unemployment insurance for the unemployed who currently qualify, not to mention infrastructure repair, highly unlikely.

Sep 05 2011

Why Democrats Will Lose in 2012

Salon.com has a piece up urging Democrats to dump Obama and go with a candidate who will restore their party to its New Deal era politics.  According to the column by Matt Stoller, there are a number of reasons why they should, including:

If would be one thing if Obama were failing because he was too close to party orthodoxy. Yet his failures have come precisely because Obama has not listened to Democratic Party voters. He continued idiotic wars, bailed out banks, ignored luminaries like Paul Krugman, and generally did whatever he could to repudiate the New Deal. The Democratic Party should be the party of pay raises and homes, but under Obama it has become the party of pay cuts and foreclosures. Getting rid of Obama as the head of the party is the first step in reverting to form.

This is an institutional crisis for Democrats. The groups that fund and organize the party — an uneasy alliance of financiers, conservative technology interests, the telecommunications industry, healthcare industries, labor unions, feminists, elite foundations, African-American church networks, academic elites, liberals at groups like MoveOn, the ACLU and the blogosphere — are frustrated, but not one of them has broken from the pack. In remaining silent, they give their assent to the right-wing policy framework that first George W. Bush, and now Barack Obama, cemented in place. It will be nearly impossible to dislodge such a framework without starting within the Democratic Party itself.

In other words, party inflexibility has a price. If the economy worsens going into the fall, and the president continues as he has to attempt to cut Social Security, Democrats might be facing a Carter-Reagan scenario. Reagan, at first considered a lightweight candidate, ended up winning a landslide victory that devastated the Democratic Party in 1980. Carter wasn’t the only loss; many significant liberal senators, such as George McGovern, John Culver and Birch Bayh, fell that year.

Stoller nails it by pointing out the extreme inflexibility inherent in the Democrat Party today.  Its leaders have decided that they want it to be the party of Big Business, and they don’t care what base voters think – so long as the Republicans are content to be the party of overt extremists, as opposed to the Democrats’ “covert” extremism, they reason, voters will at the end of the electoral season either shut up and vote for them anyway or else not vote at all.  Either way, that suits Democrat Party leaders just fine, wanting all the perks of power but none of the responsibility.  Stoller continues toward the end of his column by writing:

Obama has basically endorsed every major plank of George Bush’s administration, yet Democrats still grant their approval. What we’re finding out is that Obama’s pathologically pro-establishment and conflict-averse DNA was funded by party insiders and embraced by liberal constituency groups in 2008 for a reason.

Political parties need to be flexible enough to allow for new ideas to come into the process, or else third parties or civil disorder are inevitable. All it would take to provide this flexibility are well-known Democratic elders who understand that rank and file Democrats deserve a choice, and a few political insiders who realize that they can increase their own power by encouraging a robust debate. I don’t think this will happen.

Stoller rightly points out that the disastrous presidency of Grover Cleveland necessitated the removal of him as the Democrats’ candidate in 1896 in favor of William Jennings Bryan, who pressed for many populist reforms and began laying the groundwork for both the Progressive Era of the early 1900s and the New Deal Era of the 1930s and 1940s.  But for that to happen, there had to be widespread acknowledgment within the party that the path being taken could only lead to its ultimate collapse – self preservation instinct had to take over in order for the party to save itself, and in the 1890s, that realization rose and was accepted by party leaders.

Many disaffected Democrats still presume to think that they can take back the party from the corporate interests that have seized it.  But not one of them has dared come up with any serious roster of candidates willing to risk political suicide by running against Obama next year.  Corporate money, and therefore corporate influence, is so entrenched within the Democrat Party that it is now beyond all hope of repair.  Thomas Hartman does offer advice for retaking the Democrat Party from the corporatists, but it’s probably far too late for that.  The party has so alienated and disillusioned voters with its pro-war, anti-labor, anti-civil liberties, pro-corporate, anti-democracy nature that it is now highly unlikely that enough citizens trust that their activism will result in any significant reforms.

A serious effort to build a strong, viable third party organization can send the needed message to Democrat leaders that they can no longer take voters for granted, that we do have alternatives and we will turn to them if Democrats keep refusing to live up to their obligation to represent the public interest.  In 1992, H. Ross Perot’s strong showing of nearly nineteen percent of the vote in that year’s presidential election demonstrates that it is possible within our own era to gain significant votes to fundamentally alter the political landscape.  Progressives, laborers, and traditionally oppressed citizens can and should begin building that third party effort now, while the iron is white hot.  While we are doing that, remaining progressives within Democrat ranks can begin their takeover of the party by gaining precinct committee seats, especially executive committee seats, to obtain more control over the candidate-nominating process.  Sun Tzu admonishes students of warfare not to fight on multiple fronts, but to instead force the enemy to do so, thereby dividing his forces.  In World War II, Nazi Germany lost because it faced the dual military threats of the Allied forces in the West and the Soviet forces in the East, each of which operated in tandem with the other to close in around their mutual enemy and destroy him.  In politics, the same strategies and tactics apply.

Now, Democrat Party loyalists will cry foul, claiming that any attempt to run a primary opponent against Obama or draw voters to third parties will almost certainly result in a Republican victory next year.  But the way their party is doing things now, that result is practically inevitable regardless of what progressives do.  Obama and corporatist Democrats at the top are leading their party off a cliff, and no amount of hope will cause them to deviate from their chosen path.  What’s more, Republican vote-rigging is already well underway with highly restrictive ballot access and voter ID laws to prevent poor and minority voters from exercising their right to vote.  By running as the party of continuation with George W. Bush’s extreme right-wing policies, Obama and his sycophants are guaranteeing a close enough electoral result that Republicans will easily be able to steal 2012, just as they did in 2000-2006.  That they have such enthusiastic help from Democrats themselves makes GOP electoral “victories” all but inevitable.

Apr 30 2011

FDR: “Government by organized money is just as dangerous as Government by organized mob.”

An Antemdius entry uses a quote from Franklin Delano Roosevelt, who said in his speech announcing the Second New Deal in 1936:

For twelve years this Nation was afflicted with hear-nothing, see-nothing, do-nothing Government. The Nation looked to Government but the Government looked away. Nine mocking years with the golden calf and three long years of the scourge! Nine crazy years at the ticker and three long years in the breadlines! Nine mad years of mirage and three long years of despair! Powerful influences strive today to restore that kind of government with its doctrine that that Government is best which is most indifferent.

Sound familiar?  We are repeating the past.  Roosevelt went on:

We had to struggle with the old enemies of peace–business and financial monopoly, speculation, reckless banking, class antagonism, sectionalism, war profiteering.

They had begun to consider the Government of the United States as a mere appendage to their own affairs. We know now that Government by organized money is just as dangerous as Government by organized mob.

What was true in 1932 is true today, and has been for going on thirty years now, but especially the last ten.  We saw 9/11 happen on the Shrub’s watch, with the election-stealing chimp sitting on his ass and let a major terrorist attack kill nearly three thousand people.  We saw that same dictator brush off warnings that hurricane-wrecked levies, allowed to deteriorate for years, would not hold up under the weight of rising floodwaters, and New Orleans drowned.  The Shrub presided over the largest financial meltdown since the First Great Depression, and the current dictator enable the bailout of the very same corporate criminals who caused it.  Barry Obama, Hopey McChangerton himself, sat by and let the Gulf of Mexico die from BP’s criminal negligence.  Now the Obamassiah is waltzing through the devastation left behind by ever more extreme tornadoes as a result of Global Warming, spouting empty words, as is his pattern, but fully intending to do absolutely nothing to help the survivors.

When it comes to oppressing people, the U.S. government – at the behest of Big Money – has no trouble at all getting intimately involved in the lives of citizens.  But when We the People need a hand up, when we are poor and downtrodden and need the government we pay for with our hard-earned dollars to come through for us, we are left to suffer on our own.  There’s always money for more wars and more police state bullshit, always more money for endless corporate bailouts, but never so much as a single penny for ordinary folk.

And it’s all because we let organized money back into politics.  For a brief moment in our nation’s history, we thought we had broken its influence.  We were wrong.  The corporate bosses who were defeated in the 1930s regrouped, re-organized, and slowly but steadily chipped away at the victories we fought for and won, until today there is almost nothing left – and what remains is likely to disappear within our lifetimes.

I had planned to continue my college classes over the summer.  Now, because of federal and state austerity measures, I have to wait until the Fall.  Being unemployed, this means I am pretty much screwed unless I can find a job before what little money I have runs out.  That is not going to happen without a miracle.  I’ve been unemployed too long, my credit history too disastrous, my lack of reliable transportation the nail in the coffin.  I have no idea what I’m going to do to support myself.  I am one of the millions of Americans left out in the cold because of the rule of organized money.

It does not have to be this way.  More Americans than not support the things progressives and liberals support.  We want single-payer health insurance, a cleaned up environment, clean energy, protection from unsafe labor conditions, protection from unsafe food and drink, protection from outsourcing and mass layoffs, protection from employers when those employers try to prevent us from organizing to defend our rights, and a whole host of other things that are crucial to all real democracies.

We are not going to take back our country through the right-wing Democrat Party.  They are the Washington Generals to the Republicans’ Harlem Globetrotters, and both political organizations are wholly owned subsidiaries of the corporations that now control this nation lock- stock, and a million smoking barrels.  The best and only way we’re going to take back our country is through the twin prongs of massive protests that shut down the centers of power and running candidates from alternative political parties (like the Greens and Progressives) that actually represent us.  Pretending to oppose the Democrats, all the while knowing that one is going to cave in and vote for them anyway, is a betrayal of everything one claims to stand for, and it does not help the rest of us fight back against the monstrous system that has grown so far out of our control.

Cross-posted from Progressive Independence.

Apr 01 2011

What Is Morality?

In my previous two entries, I discussed why it is important for people who call themselves left-wingers to have a solid moral foundation.  To sum up, one cannot call one’s self a progressive or a liberal and support the extreme right-wing policies of those in government.  To support Obama’s continuation and expansion of Bush-Cheney fascist policies, whether directly or by refusing to challenge him electorally, or by simply remaining silent in the face of ongoing crimes and usurpation of Constitutionally delegated powers, is immoral.

But what is morality, and how should the American left apply it to politics?

Mar 31 2011

On the Immorality of Supporting an Amoral Dictator

The responses to my previous entry were exactly what I hoped they would be: lively.  And I’m not done yet, not by a long shot.  I’m going to expand upon a comment I made in the other thread.

Mar 31 2011

It is Immoral Not to Challenge Obama and the Democrats in 2012

I seem to recall that someone, late last month, posted an entry arguing that it is immoral for Democrats not to run a primary challenge against Barry Obama in 2012, in light of the things he’s done to institutionalize Bush-Cheney crimes.  (Glenn Greenwald chronicled the latest violation of the Constitution by Obama on his own blog, which you can read here).  This argument is proven truer every day as more crimes are committed against the Constitution and as the concept of the rule of law is increasingly marginalized.

At what point will party loyalists realize that their political organization will not survive if they continue to support this right-wing dictator who has proven to be even worse than his right-wing predecessor?

For that matter, at what point do we as a movement acknowledge that politics and morality are inextricably bound?

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