Winner of last night’s debate: The American people

The contrast between the debates of the two parties is quite stark. The notion that both parties and their candidates are the “same” is wrongheaded. There are differences and they were on display last night on a whole range of issues. Undoubtedly, these differences will figure into the decision of the millions who vote in the primaries and general election next year. It’s pretty amazing how much the political conversation and climate have changed, compared to a few years ago when Washington was fixated on deficit reduction. Entitlement reform (read cuts) and tax breaks for “job creators” went unmentioned last night. Economic justice, even to a degree racial justice, money in politics, bank reform, women’s equality, military restraint, privacy rights, and climate change, were front and center. Both Hillary Clinton and Bernie Sanders acquitted themselves quite well in the eyes of millions, if not the “bubble world” of some on the left. My guess is that a lot of working people, broadly and diversely defined, were generally happy with what they heard. Finally, when taking into account utterly backward positions of and divisions within the Republican Party and the tenor and substance of the debate yesterday, it is hard not to be cautiously optimistic about the outcome of next year’s election.

No ordinary crisis

This is an article that I wrote two years ago; in light of what is going on now in Washingtion, you might find it of some interest. Sam

The settlement reached more than a week ago to reopen the federal government constituted a major victory for democratic governance. It firmly rebuffed a reckless attempt by a small group of right-wing extremists to leverage the routine lifting of the debt ceiling and funding of government operations (what the right wing calls “forcing events”) into something much more serious and consequential.

Defunding Obamacare and winning other White House concessions by undemocratic means was to be but the first trophy in a far more ambitious and longer term power play by a reactionary clique and their big-pocketed financial backers to reverse the 2012 election results (which left them, much to their surprise, in a subordinate position in Washington), disempower President Obama for the remainder of his term, bypass democratic institutions and rules, and, above all, impose its deeply reactionary political agenda on the country – not to mention position itself to gain control of Congress in 2014 and the presidency in 2016.

Boomers vs Millennials

I just read a thoughtful article by Chauncey Robinson in the PW, posted below. I would only add that when comparing this generation and the zeitgeist of  that time with the generation of the sixties and the zeitgeist of that time, it is important to keep in mind the differences in the material conditions in which each generation grew up. I remember a friend in Detroit, for example, telling me a few years ago that he could get fired from one auto plant and go down the street and get hired in another at union wages and a full package of benefits on the same day. Not like that today! And to mention another example, the right wing then was a pale imitation of its current self. Its presidential candidate – Barry Goldwater – had been taken to the woodshed by Lyndon Johnson in the 1964 elections. Without acknowledging such major differences, such conversations may generate heat, but no light. I would further add as a cautionary note that the term generation is a broad generalization that can easily conceal as much as it reveals. Many of the most prominent personalities of the extreme right today – Newt Gingrich, Dick Cheney, George W. Bush, etc. – came of age in the radical, counter cultural sixties.

Player of the week

No contest here: it’s Steph Curry, point guard of the NBA champion Golden State Warriors and the league’s MVP last year. Curry heard during the off season that neither he nor his team were quite deserving of the awards and titles that they won. Not surprisingly, this clamor in the sports world, which thanks to ESPN goes on all day and night (not complaining), has given Curry, if he needed any motivation this season, more than enough to prove his critics wrong and to repeat his exploits from last season. In the first week of league play Curry has been nothing short of magical, a ballerina and Houdini on the basketball floor. LeBron may still be the best player in the world, but Curry is a close second and no one is more entertaining to watch. The basketball in his hands is like a brush in Van Gogh’s. Both see and do things in their respective craft and art form that leave the rest of us mere mortals looking on in wonder.

Part 2: Thoughts on Greece, Syriza, and its left critics

This is part two of a three-part series. See part one here.

“Men make their own history, but they do not make it as they please; they do not make it under self-selected circumstances, but under circumstances existing already, given and transmitted from the past.” – Karl Marx

“What childish innocence it is to present one’s own impatience as a theoretically convincing argument!” – Frederick Engels

If any of us wants to judge the conduct of Greek Prime Minister Alexis Tsipras and Syriza in their negotiations with the Eurogroup (the finance ministers and heads of state that make up the Eurozone) in July, a close look at the concrete situation in Greece and Europe is necessary. At the core of any analysis is an examination of the distribution of power among contending class and social forces, the larger socio-economic matrix in which these forces collide, and the parameters and limits of social change.

That may seem obvious and not require mentioning, but I’m afraid it’s a method some on the left seem averse to and thus avoid.

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