MLK in a Pickup Truck

Much ado about Fiat-Chrysler’s atrocious use of an MLK voice-over in a Super Bowl ad for Ram pickup trucks. A Golden Hicksie to whoever sold FCA the right to the words, of course. But, to my mind, the really interesting question is why FCA made this move. Are they trying to take pick-ups to the ghetto? That seems pretty doubtful. The other, more plausible possibility is that the gawdawful thing was a ploy to trigger the extremely predictable backlash howls from liberals, and thereby flatter the proud whiteys who constitute the existing pool of Urban Cowboy trucksters, suggesting that standing ups for trucks is also somehow standing up for what’s right, plain, decent, American, etc.

Any way you slice it, what a world we live in!

Quote for MLK Day

mlk Given his religious commitments, MLK probably would not have said this in this way, had he somehow lived to be 82 in this nation of right-wing shooters.  Still, I think the following quote sums up the situation, the day, and the ever-widening (and demoralizing) gulf between verbally celebrating MLK and the utterly heedless actions of our overclass and their political lapdogs, including the nation’s first black President.  It also overlaps with MLK’s still under-appreciated denunciation of the Vietnam War and its long-standing imperial instigator.  From the great James Keye:

Reality is that the earth is a summary of innumerable coincidences creating conditions of stability upon which life formed and now rides.  The variations of life have had sufficient opportunity to produce an adaptation manifesting the most minutely possible principles of a new system of order riding on (or in if you like) a single species.  The magnificence of this occurrence is beyond beyond.  The functioning of this adaptation is problematic given the nature of its origin, and now it is a toss up as to whether the carrier species will discover how to manage such a powerful adaptation before its more dangerous expressions destabilize the conditions that allow it to exist.

The Trickle-Down Bailout

As Dr. King wrote from Birmingham City Jail, “We know through painful experience that freedom is never voluntarily given by the oppressor; it must be demanded by the oppressed.”

That’s as strong a sociological law as there is.

Despite protestations to the contrary by the powerful and their political and media lapdogs, it applies in spades to the phenomenon currently being called “the bailout.”

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United We Fail

One sign of the advanced illness of our democracy in the United States is not just the inordinate importance of “lobbying” (i.e. bribery), but the fact that the second most powerful lobby after business is the American Association of Retired Persons. No offense, but the elderly are both the most economically privileged age group, and people over 65 already have national health insurance (Medicare). Hence, the lobbying leadership of the AARP can’t help but be a generally harmful thing, whatever small achievements it may include for working class seniors.

Consider the AARP’s shockingly wrong-headed and ill-timed “Divided We Fail” advertising campaign. Coming at a moment when pressure for national single-payer health insurance could, with enough public pressure and genuine leadership, have a real effect on an incoming Democratic President and Democratically-dominated Congress, the AARP chooses instead to push for the preservation of “bipartisanship.”

When asked why she couldn’t possibly create single-payer health insurance if elected, the walking disease Hillary Clinton avows that “you have to include” the Republicans “in the process.” Why? If you are the President and have the votes, why not pass the needed legislation?

The real answer to why money-oriented “leaders” make such Orwellian statements is that, beneath their constant claims to the contrary, corporate shills like Clinton and the AARP are utterly hostile to universal health insurance. The only way to get that is single-payer, and the only way to get THAT is to flip the middle finger to its opponents.

The record is as clear as day: In Congress, “united” we fail. To stay “bipartisan” is to insist on the status quo of staggering unfairness, irrationality, and inhumanity in our medical system. To hell with the AARP for obscuring that blatant fact.

P.S. It’s also rather interesting to see that the Service Employees International Union is one of the “Divided We Fail” campaign’s major co-sponsors. This supposedly maverick AFL-CIO breakaway union is now, post “rebellion,” lobbying for bipartisanship! Orwell couldn’t make this shit up. Despite 50 years of worsening betrayals of labor, the shrinking AFL-CIO has been an increasingly subordinate wholly-owned subsidiary of the Democratic Party ever since the early Cold War purges of political unionists. Now, rightly complaining that the AFL-CIO is a dying parody of a union federation, the SEIU is stabbing boldly even farther to the right…

As MLK said, “this is a sick society.”

The Problem Isn’t the Oil Companies…

Whenever corporate executives are summoned to testify on Capitol Hill, you can bet it’s for the wrong reason.

The recent testimony of Big Oil executives is a classic case-in-point. Marketed to the public as a stern interrogation of those mainly responsible for the nation’s rapidly deepening energy crisis, the whole thing was utterly faux, a true dog-and-pony show.

Here’s why:

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How Sick are We Now?: Frere Loup on Crime & Jails

Over at Candide’s Notebooks, the sage Frere Loup recently posted this excellent, pithy debunking of the psychotic, criminal-itself reality of criminal punishment in the USA:

“Every time people talk prisons in the US, I do the numbers.

“80% of crime is White
80% of drug use is White
80% of the poverty in the US is White

“2/3 of the 2.3 million humans incarcerated in the penal system (jail, prison, parole) are Black and Brown. Didn’t used to be that way. Until we passed the Civil Rights and Voting Rights Acts, 1964-65 which we instantly regretted, we had Jim Crow to ‘keep them in their place’ and America felt naked in the absence. So…being the innovative and creative people we are in matters of critical importance, we improvised.

“In 1965 there were 640000 humans in the penal system, e.g. jail, prison, and parole (count’em same way now). Whites were 87% of the population, Blacks 12%, Hispanic were part of the remaining 1%. Same 80% of Crime, Drugs, and Poverty for Whites back then. 2/3 of those ‘in the system’ in ’65 were White. What accounts for the difference:

“Selective Enforcement of the Law
Targeted Incarceration
Disproportionate Sentencing

“In 2008 Whites are 70% (2000 Census) and Blacks are still 12% of the population with 18% for everybody else. As a direct result of these ‘policies’, 1/3 of the ENTIRE Black male population in the US are ‘in the system’, they work for Fortune 500 corps for $0.77-$1.44/hr in jobs that used to be done by people getting living wages. But of course living wages DO NOT produce maximum short term profits, in fact nothing produces profits like slave labor, prison labor, child labor, and sweat shop labor. Prison is as close to “slave labor” as they can get outside the Marianna’s. Ask Trent Lott.

“And of course those Black & Brown people can’t vote. Ever. In most states.

“Not at all surprising for A nation that got away with genocide AND human slavery AND wants to pretend it is not a squalid, debased, AND degraded tribe of cannibals.

“Who’s face is Poverty?
Who’s face is Drugs?
Who’s face is Crime?

“And what is the REALITY on the ground? Don’t ask MSM, they’re selling the Kool-Aid and they want you terrified of EVERYBODY.

“We always make others pay for our sins. More economical.”

Now, personally speaking, like Harry Belafonte, I am a Kingian — an American democratic socialist who is convinced that, as MLK said, “the entire structure of American life must be changed” and that we can and should and will only be able do so by finally acknowledging the centrality of racism in our society, and by rescuing and expanding the much-mentioned, but little-used good side of American principle, history, and culture.

So I wonder:

Frere Loup mentions the numbers from the mid-1960s, when Dr. King was already fretting about “integrating into a burning house,” and that the United States was a deeply “sick society.”

Read the newspaper; watch American behavior for a few hours (especially among the comfortable segments); contemplate Frere Loup’s words; then ask yourself:  How sick are we now?