Monday, October 20, 2008

He's Not! But What if He Was?

No, not a Muslim. A socialist. Lately the McCain-Palin Campaign has taken to tossing the word "socialist" around when discussing Barack Obama. His health care plan is "socialized medicine," his tax plan is cast in class warfare terms, and there is an obvious attempt to pretend that he is the reincarnation of Karl Marx.

Such statements demonstrate just how stupid the right wing of America believes the populace to be. Were Obama's health care plan socialist, the doctors would be employed by the government and there would be no insurance. The savings in paperwork alone (Sarah Palin might call these "cost efficiencies"), would substantially lower the cost of health care, but that is not the point. When it comes to the tax plan, it is complete claptrap to imply that tax credits to those who earn so little that they don't pay taxes, is somehow "wealth redistribution." But again, that is not the point. The point is that Obama is NOT a socialist and the McCain camp knows better. It is an utter disgrace to John McCain that he is running such a dishonest campaign and is attempting to smear Obama with what is a clear lie.

In confronting the lies and smears of McCain-Palin, a larger issue is nearly lost. Just as Colin Powell rightfully questioned the line of attack against Obama that attempts to smear him as a Muslim by asking "What if he was?", the same question can be asked of the attempted socialist smear. WHAT IF HE WAS?

The idea of America is that everyone has the freedom to believe in whatever they wish. You may worhip Yahweh, Jehovah, Allah or a tree. You may even worship money and call yourself a member of the state religion-capitalism. And yes, you may even call yourself a socialist.

The turning of the term liberal into a pejorative by Reagan conservatives, caused such a shift in the public perception that leftists disappeared. Political identification as socialists or communists or any other group to the left of moderate Democrats became political suicide. As a result, the nation ignored it's history and shifted dangerously to the right. The result has been massive military intervention abroad, usurpation of civil liberties, politicization of the legal system and economic chaos, among other problems.

It is time for a New Left to appear in American politics. Rather than running from labels such as "Socialist," it is time for a resurgence of ideas from the other end of the political spectrum. The last time America was willing to experiment with ideas that even approached what might be legitimately called socialism, was when another administration of free market robber barons nearly destroyed the country and had to be bailed out.

America was built by Socialism. The interstate highway system, the mass inoculation programs, the building of the very infrastructure of this country were all due to socialist ideas. Public utilities, national parks and government monuments are all socialistic by nature. The few programs that do anything for the poor and elderly, Medicaid, Medicare and Social Security, could easily be seen as socialist triumphs.

Except for one thing. Everyone is afraid to use the label as anything but a negative. That, unfortunately, is what is holding us back from the change that we really need. What America needs is some good old fashioned Socialism. We need health care run for people, not for profit. We need massive investment in infrastructure. Our bridges are falling, our roads are crumbling and our parks are neglected. A massive public works program to address these needs would also have a stimulatory effect on the economy. Developing alternative energy sources would not only free us from petrol slavery, it would also boost the economy and lead to true energy security. It's much easier to shut down a power plant than 100 million buildings with solar panels providing independent energy.

So why not socialism? Ralph Nader states that his father once told him the reason that capitalism would always exist is that socialism would always bail it out. Does socialism exist only to bail out capitalists? It seems so in this country. Privatizing the profits while socializing the costs seems to be our natural instinct. Witness T. Boone Pickens plan for wind power. What he neglects to point out in his advertising is that the most expensive infrastructure necessary for his plan will be picked up by the taxpayers at the public utilities. T. Boone just picks up the money. Even in the bailout, after finally agreeing to take equity stakes in the banks, the government makes it clear it will sell those shares as soon as they become profitable. Wouldn't capitalists see that as bad business?

Let's be clear on what socialism really is in America. It is the willingness to work together for the common good. It is the unwillingness to let the common wealth of the nation and people be taken by the greedy and self-entitled. Right now America needs a healthy dose of socialism.

Having said the above, it's too bad Obama is not a socialist.

British Petroleum Gulf Oil Spill Costs

  • 11 workers killed in initial blast
  • Damage to Ocean Ecosystem
  • 35,000 to 60.000 Barrels of Oil Per Day. That's somewhere between 1,500,000 to 2,500,000 gallons a day or 150 to 300 million gallons already spilled into the ocean as of July 27th by that estimate.
  • Gulf Fisheries Industry
  • Gulf Tourism (ongoing costs)
  • Long Term Health Effects to Humans and Wildlife (to be determined)

Worst Oil Spills

  • Kuwait 1991 - 520 million gallons: Gulf War I
  • Gulf of Mexico 2010 - 206 million gallons: BP Oil
  • Mexico, Bay of Campiche 1979 - 140 million gallons: Pemex Oil
  • Trinidad & Tobago 1979 - 90 million gallons: Greek Oil Tanker Atlantic Empress
  • Russia 1983 - 84 million gallons: Leaky Pipeline collapsed into Kolva River
  • Iran 1983 - 80 million gallons: Tanker collided with Oil Platform
  • South Africa 1983 -79 million gallons:Tanker Castillo de Bellver sank
  • France 1978 - 69 million Gallons: Amoco Cadiz ran aground and broke in half.
  • Angola Coastal Waters (700 miles at sea) 1991 - 51-81 million gallons: ABT Summer exploded at sea.
  • Italy 1991 - 45 million gallons: M/T Haven Oil Tanker exploded.
  • Source: Mother Nature Network. The 13 largest oil spills in history. by Laura Moss. Friday July 16, 2010.

Nuclear Accidents (Under Construction)

  • 1957 Windscale, UK
  • 1961 Idaho Falls, Idaho, US
  • 1979 Three Mile Island, Pennsylvania, US
  • 1984 Athens, Alabama, US
  • 1985 Athens, Alabama, US
  • 1986 Plymouth, Masachusetts, US
  • 1986 Chernobyl, Ukraine, USSR
  • 1996 Waterford, Connecticut, US
  • 1989 Griefwald, Germany
  • 1999 Ibaraki Prefecture, Japan
  • 2002 Oak Harbor, Ohio, US
  • 2004 Fukui Prefecture, Japan
  • Source: Benjamin Sovacool

Mining Disasters (Under Construction)

  • China 1942 - 1549 deaths
  • France 1906 - 1100 deaths
  • Japan 1963 - 447 deaths
  • Wales 1913 - 438 deaths
  • South Africa 1960 - 437 deaths
  • Source: Epic Disasters Website
  • Note: Do not look at the dates herein and conclue that mining disasters are a things of the past. Every year thousands of miners die worldwide in largely unreported accidents.

OIL IS OVER! - Resources

  • Hibbert's Peak - "The" source that explains why Oil is Over.
  • Tragedy of the Commons -Garrett Hardin
  • The Land Ethic - Aldo Leopold
  • Last Hours of Ancient Sunlight - Thom Hartmann
  • Eco-Defense: A Field Guide to Monkeywrenching


  • The Dirt People - Ray Bawarchi (yes, that's me)
  • The Razor's Edge - Somerset Maugham
  • Demian - Herman Hesse
  • Black Elk Speaks - Black Elk (as told to R. Neimur)
  • The Quiet Don - Mikhail Sholokov
  • Catcher in the Rye - J.D. Salinger
  • Catch-22 - Joseph Heller
  • 1984 - George Orwell
  • Delicious Laughter - Jallahudin Rumi
  • The Sybil - Par Lagerksvitz
  • The Fixer - Bernard Malamud
  • Spirits Rebellious - Khalil Gibran
  • The Quiet American - Graham Greene
  • Midaq Alley - Nagib Mafouz
  • Cat's Cradle - Kurt Vonnegut
  • Slaughterhouse 5 - Kurt Vonnegut
  • Farenheit 451- Ray Bradbury
  • We - Yevgeny Zamyatin


  • John Coltrane - St. John the Divine
  • Patti Smith
  • The Clash - the only band that matters
  • Billy Bragg
  • Yo Mama's Big Fat Booty Band
  • Art Blakey
  • Death - pre-punk visionaries from Detroit
  • PJ Harvey - Polly Jean, Polly Jean
  • Woody Guthrie
  • Michael Franti (Spearhead)
  • Public Enemy
  • Ray Charles - the Genius
  • Bob Dylan
  • Velvet Underground
  • Flaming Lips
  • John Doe & X
  • The Beatles

opiate of the masses

  • God is a comedian, playing to an audience too afraid to laugh. - Voltaire
  • I do not feel obliged to believe that the same god who has endowed us with sense, reason and inellect has intended us to forgo their use. - Galileo Galilei
  • The ink of a scholar is worth far more than the blood of a martyr.- Mohammad
  • If you meet the Buddha on the road, kill him. - Sheldon Kopp
  • No one will be free until the last king is strangled with the entrails of the last priest. - Louisa Mae Alcott
  • When it is a question of money, everyone is of the same religion.- Voltaire
  • If God were alive today, he'd be an athiest. - Kurt Vonnegut
  • The god I worship is not short of cash, Mister. - Bono
  • Jesus died for somebody's sins, but not mine. My sins they only belong to me. - Patti Smith
  • God sure baked a lot of fruitcake baby, when Adam met the Eden lady. - Joe Strummer