obamacare: the nuns strike back

28 03 2010

by Ernie Haberkern
Berkeley, California

The Health Care Reform bill has finally made it through the archaic legislative labyrinth our slave-owning founding fathers left us. Our modern corporate capitalists have found this unrepresentative system as useful as the slave owners did. One of features of the system is that it facilitates behind-closed-doors dealing that makes it extremely difficult for the average voter, or even the fairly well-informed voter, to find out what exactly the effect of the legislation will actually be. In fact, the result is usually so complicated that it often has consequences unforeseen and unintended by the authors of the legislation.

So what does this ‘reform’ actually amount to? In the first place, there is no regulation of the cost of drugs. In particular, the current twelve year monopoly granted to companies for brand name drugs remains in effect. This deal was made last August and in return the pharmaceutical industry, which played a major role in the defeat of Bill Clinton’s attempt to pass a health care bill, actively lobbied in favor of Obama’s plan. Read the rest of this entry »





crisis ploughs on in united states

25 02 2010

by Dennis Marcucci
from Philadelphia

Worst than expected economic reports and job cut announcements show that the prospects for working people in the USA and around the world are going to worsen. After all, most of the world is capitalist, and most of the world is poor. So what does that tell you about this canker sore of an economic system?

Wall Street economists had said that unemployment claims would fall below 450,000. They were wrong. There was only a slight decrease to 470,000. Any reports have to be viewed with suspicion. I was speaking to an “expert” economist on a radio talk show two weeks ago who was telling the audience how claims for unemployment fell. I said that what is not being reported is (i) workers who exhausted their benefits and are now off the rolls and are viewed as employed. (ii) workers who were collecting benefits and found part time minimum wage employment and (iii) workers working temp jobs or contract work. Read the rest of this entry »





what the TV doesn’t tell us about haiti

30 01 2010

by Claudio Testa
Socialismo o Barbarie

The world’s TV is showing, as we might expect, a false picture of reality. In the case of Haiti, this is all the more outrageous given the circumstances. With barely disguised racism they paint the picture of a people who are suffering but “ignorant” and “barbarous”, incapable of “keeping order” by themselves after the earthquake, necessitating a renewed colonial occupation, with a fresh US invasion.

Of course, no-one mentions the two-hundred-year sentence capitalism and imperialism imposed on the Haitian people for having carried out the only successful slaves’ social revolution in history. Still less do they tell us about recent events, like the significant workers’, students’ and peasants’ struggles against colonial occupation and Preval’s puppet government which developed in 2009. Read the rest of this entry »





solidarity with the people of haiti – US troops out!

25 01 2010

by Claudio Testa
Socialismo o Barbarie

Much of the media has portrayed Haitians "looting" - the US has intervened to "restore order"

Although UN troops have been occupying the country for six years, the USA has decided to engage in a second invasion of its own, without even going through the farce of “consulting” previous occupiers. Read the rest of this entry »





anger over obama healthcare bill creates uncertain future

23 01 2010

Jane Slaughter looks at the US healthcare debate and the Democrats’ defeat in this week’s Massachusetts senate vote (from Labor Notes)

A Massachusetts local union president called it before the January 19 vote for senator: “I’ve never seen this much anger at the Democrats from union people,” said Jeff Crosby, president of a General Electric factory local near Boston, as he prepared a last-minute leaflet to hand out in the plant. “It’s worse than NAFTA.”

Top union leaders had bargained a compromise slowing down the health care benefits tax President Obama insisted on, but it was not enough to placate union members—and others—infuriated that Obama had broken his campaign promise not to tax benefits. Read the rest of this entry »





barack obama’s first year in charge

18 01 2010

by Ernie Haberkern
from Berkeley, California

The enormous enthusiasm that the election of the bright, well-spoken, African American woke in the liberal left is fading fast. Of course, much of that enthusiasm was a result of the justified revulsion provoked by the Cheney-Bush presidency and as that bad memory fades liberals are forced to face the current reality. Read the rest of this entry »





more fuel on the fire: the ‘war on terror’ in afghanistan

21 12 2009

An interview with a member of the Revolutionary Association of the Women of Afghanistan, in the wake of Barack Obama’s plan to send 30,000 extra troops to Afghanistan.

The discussion looks at the role of the US troops in backing warlordism and the empty sloganeering of the ‘war on terror’. See below for the second half of the video. Read the rest of this entry »





honduras elections after the coup: for an active boycott

28 11 2009

on the elections in Honduras, taking place six months after a military coup against centre-left president Manuel “Mel” Zelaya – by José Luis Rojo

What was bound to happen all along has now materialised: Mel Zelaya, the bourgeois leader of the resistance to the Honduran military coup, has ended up giving up everything in exchange for nothing. Signing the “Gaymuras-San José” accord (supervised by the Obama administration) he has capitulated. It is clear that the the US government proposed him a ‘double standard’ deal: Zelaya had to sign the deal, the other side only to make a vague promise eventually to “reinstall” him.

But the ‘letter’ of the deal does not oblige post-coup president Micheletti to reinstall him: this is at the mercy of the same pro-coup Congress which voted to depose Zelaya in late June. The Congress has no need to hurry either: “This crucial aspect (his supposed reinstallment) was placed as the fifth of seven items, not the first, and was drafted ambiguously, showing that Zelaya made too many concessions as he signed the accord”.[1] Read the rest of this entry »





facing hopeless climate macropolitics, it’s time for direct action

18 11 2009

a guest article for The Commune by Patrick Bond

In the run-up to the Copenhagen Summit from 7-18 December, the October-November Bangkok and Barcelona negotiations of Kyoto Protocol Conference of Parties functionaries confirmed that Northern states and their corporations won’t get their act together. Nor will Southern elites in high-emitting countries.

The top-down effort to get to 350 CO2 parts per million has conclusively failed. On the right, Barack Obama’s negotiators argue that the 1997 Kyoto Protocol is excessively binding to the North, and leaves out several major polluters of the South, including China, India, Brazil and South Africa. Hence Obama’s early November promise that he would come to Copenhagen to ‘clinch a deal’ is as hollow as the White House’s support for democracy in Honduras. Read the rest of this entry »





honduras: democracy has not been restored

2 11 2009

An article by Socialismo o Barbarie‘s Honduran section on the peace accord signed by centre-left president Manuel “Mel” Zelaya with the régime established by Roberto Micheletti after a military coup against Zelaya four months ago.

zelayaband

Unfortunately, what we predicted has played out: Mel Zelaya, the bourgeois politician, has proven his remarkable cowardice. Kneeling down at the feet of his US masters, he has signed a deal which not only abandons each and every one of the demands of the people’s struggle (first and foremost, a Constituent Assembly) but it even appears that he has obtained not even a purely formal re-instatement of his powers. Read the rest of this entry »





honduras: zelaya and coup régime make peace deal

31 10 2009

On 28th June the centre-left president of Honduras Manuel ‘Mel’ Zelaya was overthrown by the military and forced into exile. This was followed by months of civil disobedience which raised wider democratic arguments but was subject to murderous state repression. Last month saw Zelaya’s return to the country – forced to take refuge in the Brazilian embassy – and now he has agreed to power-sharing and fresh elections in a deal with the coup régime headed by Roberto Micheletti. Below appear some first impressions from a member of the Socialismo o Barbarie current.

zelaya

Categorically we can say this is a very bad deal, in fact creating a situation – although everything still has to be approved by Congress – where Zelaya is restored in exchange for the effective abandonment of all of the demands raised during the struggle. Read the rest of this entry »





yes, chris ann, obama is punking us

19 08 2009

Ernie Haberkern writes on the row over healthcare reform in the USA

In a sense, the right wing tub-thumpers organized by the pharmaceutical and insurance companies through media hysterics like Russ Limbaugh and Sarah Palin, have done Barack Obama a favor. They have drawn attention away from what the administration is really doing by making stupid charges and turning their demonstrations into clown shows. It is easy enough to poke fun at Sarah Palin’s charge that a provision allowing doctors to be paid for advising elderly, ill patients about the possibility of setting up living wills, making clear to their loved ones what they would like done in the event they become incapacitated, amounts to setting up “death panels”. As the Republican Senator from Georgia who introduced the legislation, Jacob Isakson, put it the statement is “nuts”. But, then, what would you expect from Sarah Palin.

obamahealthcare

Increasingly, however, the liberal center is beginning to voice concerns about where Obama is going. The headline of this article is based on an op-ed piece in The New York Times by Frank Rich titled “Is Obama Punking Us” in which he quotes a real estate broker from Virginia who voted for Obama, Chris Ann Cleland, as saying “I feel like I have been punked!” Read the rest of this entry »





latin america’s future is being played out in honduras

13 08 2009

Roberto Sáenz writes of a new situation of crisis, reactionary offensives, polarisation and growing popular resistance in the region, as exemplified by the recent military coup against Honduras’s centre-left president Zelaya.

hondurasposter

“What happened in Honduras is no trivial matter. There is no use taking the word of the constitutionalists who claim that no coup took place since the executive was saved and the other powers of state have been kept ‘intact’. It is not a question of yes to Zelaya, no to Zelaya, yes to Chávez, no to Chávez. They took the president away in his pyjamas: the outcome which is concretising represents a massive backwards step for the democracies of the region and a serious threat to their political systems. Two years ago not even the most fervent conspirator could have imagined a military coup in Latin America. Today, given certain circumstances and taking certain factors into consideration, once again all such options are on the table. This is well-known to those who would split Bolivia, the banana magnates of Guatemala and Ecuador, the followers of General Lino Oviedo in Paraguay and Major Roberto D’Aubuisson Arrieta in El Salvador, the ex-contras in Nicaragua, the Venezuelan employers’ federation and the Argentinian landowners with their blockades”[1]. Read the rest of this entry »





honduras: mass movement to defeat “pinocheletti”

6 07 2009

by Roberto Ramírez

The coup d’état against president Manuel “Mel” Zelaya is first of all a sign of how the global crisis has opened up a new political situation across the world. Last year, at the outbreak of the crisis, we warned that it would mean more polarised politics, as much in a right-wing direction as to the left, and that this would mean increasing abandonment of the  political “centre” and sharper confrontations.

coup

Honduras, a country hit hard by the global crisis, is itself one of the weakest links in the Central American semi-colonial chain… which for more than three years has seen the highest level of struggle in Central America, with national mobilisations (the “civic stoppages”) which have several times managed to paralyse the country. One aspect of this previous polarisation was the birth of the CNRP (National Popular Resistance Council) which brought together union federations and social movements calling for “civic stoppages” and other mobilisations. Read the rest of this entry »








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