Well I certainly haven’t meant to be away this long. It has been a few weeks since I’ve been able to blog and so much has happened in the world that I am having a difficult time focusing on something to write about.
There is the UAW going from spineless to spineless and toothless thanks to a six year no strike pledge given to the good folks at Chrysler (and the government at its behest) as part of a wretched new contract. But that is awfully depressing. Too depressing.
There is the “tension” between the Obama administration and the Netanyahu government in Israel over settlements and whether the Palestinians should be “given” a state (minus the rudiments of sovereignty) or just self government (also sans sovereignty). When I hear an American official talk about a two state solution I fear exactly the ghetto they have in mind.
After the First Gulf War the First President Bush was also keen to develop new relationships with the Arab world and even pulled out millions in loans to Israel because of…wait for it…settlement building. Oh how far, with Peace Processia’s Good Graces, we have come. By the time there is a Palestinian state it will fit in a post box and some Fatah leader will call it liberation.
Obama plans to go to Egypt to tell the Arab people how much we long for democracy and human rights in the Middle East. Let’s move on from the Bush years all. We need to look forward. Egypt with its 1,ooo,ooo (literally) secret police is, perhaps, a curious place to make such a plea, but what’s the alternative when all of your allies are despots? I suppose he could do it from one of the other “moderate Arab regimes” like Saudi Arabia or Jordan, but they still have absolute monarchs (one with an English accent) so we’ll just stick with the strong man to make the democracy point lest we besmirch the Republic. The thing about arrogance is that it never sees irony. Obama, I’m talking about you.
Then there is North Korea where the Dear Leaders’ succession is only slightly more rigid than in Egypt. What to say about North Korea? Unconditional defense of a workers’ state? “Workers’ state” has always been an unfortunate phrase in the Trotskyist canon to address a complicated social reality. I would find it very difficult to make that claim for North Korea without choking on it so I won’t. I’ll settle for shockingly repressive, totalitarian cul-de-sac and call it kind.
That said, it’s pretty rich for the United States to go on about defending Japan from a nuclear armed North Korea. Last time I checked the United States was the only country to actually use a nuclear weapon. It was used on Japan in fact- twice. And it was done to make a point. The question for us about North Korea is what kind of point is it trying to make with its nuclear capacity? My guess is that it is less nihilistic than the one made to the Soviet Union by the United States on the ashes of tens of thousands of Japanese innocents in 1945.
There was the murder over the weekend of brave abortion provider George Tiller at his church in Wichita, Kansas. He had been shot before in 1993. His clinic had been bombed a few years earlier. I believe Wichita is the home of a fundamentalist outfit run by Fred Phelps as well. These are the folks who REALLY hate gay people and protest the funerals of soldiers killed in the imperial wars overseas because they died because America tolerates gay people…or something.
The only kind of religious zealots from Kansas I like have a last name of Brown and carry broadswords, but those days are long gone. We need clinic defenses again like the early 1990’s, but there are fewer and fewer clinics to defend! Whole areas of the country and entire states are without abortion services. If it is not accessible what matters its legality?
There is the news that unemployment has reached near 13% in Michigan. This is the official tally and far under counts the reality. My extremely unemployed self would not be counted for example. Double it and you might be getting close. And the jobs that do exist? There are now two categories: eight dollars an hour part-time and no benefits or salaried with stock options and a company car. There’s more of one than the other.
A new statistic says that 32+ million Americans, or about 11 percent of the total population, are on some food assistance. This also under counts the need since, as anyone who has gone through the program can tell you, the goal of the USDA/FNS is to deny you help not give it to you. And “help” is about $80 bucks for a single person and $280 for a family. Good luck with that- I hope you like beans. An even more telling statistic is that 30 million workers in this country who are not eligible for assistance because they make to much with jobs are classified as “food insecure” which I think means hungry. Capitalism won’t pay a whole swathe of its producers enough to eat. If I write anymore on this I am going to convince myself of the need for a socialist revolution.
Finally there is baseball. The Detroit Tigers look to be positively post-season this year. If Detroit is still here. And that’s a big if.