Friday, April 29, 2011

A Cuba Journal Translation: Bad humor, Bellyful and Anger

From the foreign press

David Brook

This is change? This is the question asked on a small pill box which has an image of Barack Obama. They are called disappointment mints and they are made by the Unemployed Philosophers Guild, a co-op which before had produced another small pill box praising Obama's election.

They are not the only ones which question the slogan and the promise of Obama's presidential campaign: change you can believe in . As a matter of fact, this week a national poll registered, as titled by the the New York Times, that the state of mind of the nation is at its lowest point in two years; 70% say that the country is traveling on the wrong track. The polling by the Times and CBS News pointed out that Americans are more pessimist about the economic perspectives and the direction of the country since any other moment when the Obama presidency started.

With those opinions, it is not surprising that there are more negative feelings toward the political leadership. Seventy five percent disapprove of the performance of the Congress and 57% disapprove of the way that Obama manages his economic policies; his general approval rate is only 46% , against 45% which disapprove.

All of that illustrates a growing disillusionment, bellyful and anger in the country, for the high unemployment, millions of people who loose their homes, increases in gasoline prices, millions who suffer from hunger, two wars without end – plus more recent military interventions like Libya and Syria –, an anti-immigrant wave while the government affirms that it wants to resolve that matter (Obama said it again this week) and he deports more undocumented persons than his predecessor, a war against drugs which continues the same failed policies of the last 40 years. Not even in the field of civil rights have things improved with the first Afro-American president.

More Afro-American males are in prison, on parole or on bail than those who were slaves in 1850, before the start of the civil war, affirms Michelle Alexander, professor of law at Ohio State University, when she presented her best seller book about massive incarceration in the U.S., specially among African-Americans and Hispanics, reported the LA Progressive. The majority of that increase is because of the war against drugs, a war which is directed primarily against communities of color.

At the same time, none of those responsible for the most severe economic crisis since the great depression,which generated massive unemployment, lost homes and cuts in programs of social assistance, are in jail. On the contrary, they celebrate their prosperity. Even worse, they do it while contributing much less to public treasuries which are in trouble, and therefore causing job losses among teachers, nurses and other public sector workers. The largest company in the United States, General Electric, obtained profits of 14.2 billion dollars in its world operations last year. How much did they pay in taxes here? Zero, thanks to its great accounting team, which knows how to do this type of thing legally.

A few day ago, the AP news agency informed us that General Electric decided to pay 3.2 billion dollars for tax rebates which it had received from the U.S. Treasury, but a few hours later the agency had to retract its cable, when they announced that the informational press bulletin was the hoax of an activist group. But, for many, it all feels like a big deception.

In the meanwhile, multinational U.S. enterprises, like General Electric, which employ one fifth of the labor force of the nation, have been hiring more workers overseas, while cutting their payrolls in the U.S., the Wall Street Journal reported. During the first ten years of this century, they reduced their payrolls by 2.9 million jobs, while they were contracting for 2.4 million jobs in foreign countries, according to statistics from the Department of Commerce.

And who did Obama appoint to his advisory team on economic recovery and job creation? The Chief Executive Officer of General Electric, Jeffrey Immelt.

The feeling is that little is changing; the hope of progressives, youth, migrants, environmentalists, defenders of civil rights, that they had the possibility of change with Obama, is fading. On the conservative side there is increasing hysteria: we are loosing our country, which continues to be the nutrient for all types of paranoia and conspiracy theories which explain the coming finale of our nation. Such level has been reached, that even serious conservatives are trying to break myths, like the one that Obama is a foreigner (25 % continues believing that, according a CBS poll).

And every week there are reminders of the dangerous combination of ultra-right-wing hysteria with easily obtained guns and legally accessible to anyone, – like the assassination attempt of a federal representative in Arizona a few months back –, with the fact that since then thousands more have died because of firearms, or that this week, in a kindergarten in Houston a six year old child took a gun to his class, he dropped it during lunch, an he and two students were wounded, reported AP.

Before such panorama, the people who supported Obama, together with the unemployed philosophers ask, where is the change? In the Hotel St. Regis in San Francisco this week, ten donors who had supported the president came to a fund-raiser for the re-election campaign. There, they asked if they could sing him a song, reported the Washington Post. The song was a protest for the treatment received by soldier Bradley Manning, accused of leaking military and diplomatic documents to Wikileaks. The word were: “We paid our quota, where is our change?”

(From La Jornada, Mexico)


JG: Wake up America! There is no difference between Barack Obama, Bill Clinton, Joe Biden and Rahm Emanuel on the Democratic side and John Bohner, Paul Ryan, Rand Paul, Mitt Romney and the Hucklebee preacher on the Republican side. It is one big party: The Capitalist Party, with two branches to make the American sheepeople believe that they live in a “democracy.” Capitalism = the exploitation of man by man. They aim and mean to screw you, not help you. Capitalism in the U.S. is to help the super-rich, the banks and Wall Street and not the working class. They won't use Vaseline when they screw you. When will you learn?

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