The Jefferson Tree - A platform for debate and discussion of current events and politics...

Social Protest Lit: Ebenezer Elliot, “The People’s Anthem”

A poem from Ebenezer Elliot entitled The People’s Anthem from Book IV called “Out of The Depths.” This chapter is focused on man’s pursuit of remedy for social injustice: When wilt thou save the people? O God of mercy! when? Not kings and lords, but nations! Flowers of the heart, O God, are they! Let them not pass, like weeds, away! Their heritage a sunless day! God save the people! Shall bring crime for ever, Strength aiding still the strong? Is it thy will, O Father? That man shall toil for wrong? “No!” ...

Stephen Moore’s Ridiculous Anti-Clean Energy Rant

Hard right-winger Stephen Moore took a break from pushing debunked trickle-down economic policies to take a pathetic shot at clean energy.  Let the stupid begin. …radical Greens, one of the most influential political forces in America today… Seriously?  He goes on to mention the famed Sierra Club as one of these forces.  And where did they rank in 2013 on lobbying: 755.  In fact, if we look at the top 50 interest groups giving to members of Congress this year, no sign ...

Anti-Israel Policies/Actions Is Not Anti-Semitsim

There have been growing protests in Europe against the mass murder of Palestinians in the Gaza Strip by the State of Israel. These actions are in response to the IDF killing 500 Muslims there with the vast majority of them being civilians. But what is troubling about these movements is, according to this article in the NYT, an anti-Semitic tinge has taken place at these protests. The story reads that in France: Several recent pro-Palestinian demonstrations in Paris have boiled over ...

Warren For President?

Today at the the annual Netroots Nation conference in Detroit, the nation’s largest gathering of liberal activists and organizers, Massachusetts Sen. Elizabeth Warren (D) reportedly drew an applause that Hillary could only dream of. According to NYT and Politico reports, Warren was a rock-star while Hillary Clinton, the likely Democratic candidate for President, was absent. Warren’s populist talking points and her history of taking Wall Street to task (remember that Warren was an early advocate for the creation of a new Consumer Financial ...

Social Protest Literatue at Sparking The Left

Here at STL we are starting a new feature. In between our political-insight posts, I will start publishing excerpts or entire pieces of great literature that speak to crucial social and political issues which span the centuries. Though almost all in the Western tradition, the subject matters are transcendental. Now first to name my source, I am taking pieces from Upton Sinclair’s selected and edited collection “The Cry for Justice: An Anthology of the Great Social Protest Literature of All Time.” ...

Pulitzer-Winning Journalist Detained for Being Undocumented

I was first brought aware of Jose Antonio Vargas’ story last week in a piece he penned in Politico. He explained that he was in the Rio Grande Valley, in the city of McAllen, just north of the Mexican border. He was there to see first hand the tens of thousands of undocumented children, most of them from Central America, and observe how they were being treated. The trip was also used for a news conference appearance and vigil organized by United We Dream, ...

GOP Refuses Funding for Border Children Projects

A humanitarian crisis unseen before at our borders is becoming more and more urgent everyday at Rio Grande Valley, TX, and other Southwest locations. And yet the GOP is arguing over numbers. Yesterday President Obama requested an amount of $3.7 billion from Congress to help aid the 57,000 unaccompanied minors who illegally crossed the border from the Mexico side since October. They are mostly from violence-ridden Central American countries, like El Salvador, Guatemala, and Honduras (Honduras has the world’s highest murder ...

Problems galore for the new government headed by Mr. Narendra Modi in New Delhi – Imperative for the first time PM and his council of ministers in governance amidst multiple challenges

The phenomenal victory for Mr. Narendra Modi and his party (the BJP) in May 2014 general elections has not only drawn the adulation of people world over but also silenced all its die hard critics at home and abroad. It was so stupendous and stunning that even the American government and its top leaders across party lines acknowledged Mr. Modi as the emerging democratic leader of the world, setting aside their past antagonism as an error of judgment, not based ...

Selective Outrage

War is hell.  All we have to do is look around the world to see its toll.  That being said, I don't understand the lack of outrage coming from this President and his administration other than that aimed at our one ally - Israel which is doing no more than trying to protect it's people from rocket fire and constant raids from Hamas. The fact that Palestinian civilians are getting killed is a tragic yet unavoidable aspect of this war.  Why ...

Why Are We So Full Of Hate?

What has happened to human kind?  No matter where you look we find ourselves surrounded by a world filled with hate. What puzzles me is how it's combined with political correctness.  Take this country where so many words are now frowned upon and even forbidden because they are hurtful to certain people.  Redskins, squaw, savage plus a whole lot applying to blacks, orientals and hispanics not to mention middle easterners.  Has it dawned on anyone banning the names has done nothing ...

Has Putin Over Reached Once Too Often?

My, oh my.  We've watched this man make mince meat of Obama over the past several years.  Each time you could see the smirk broaden and the swagger get more pronounced. He and his allies - Iran, China, Syria and North Korea were truly enjoying themselves. But as happens with a lot of bullies, they get over confident and suddenly everything around them collapses. I'm wondering if this is the case with the downing of the Malaysian passenger jet. With the death ...

If Only It WERE The Heat!

What a day.  A passenger plane has been shot down over Ukraine uncomfortably close to the Russian border. Hamas reneged on the humanitarian cease fire so Israel launched their ground offensive. Children still pour across the border while Congress dithers. It's now being reported parents are giving them birth control in case they are raped during the journey. Along that line former member of Congress, Todd Aiken, who once talked about legitimate rape and the idea that women's bodies protected them from becoming ...

Hannity's Histrionics

For a person who doesn't have much faith in the intellect of pundits, I wonder why I watch them so often.  I wonder even more why the cable outlets and networks that employ them don't take more care in who they hire. Many of them get on crusades that bear no resemblance to reality.  Sean Hannity is one of the most prominent. The night before last  he was on his Bowe Bergdahl kick demanding to know why he was returned to ...

Do Actions Speak Louder Than Words?

If the President could run away from the border mess any faster I'm sure he would. It's being said it's because being seen in the setting of kids crammed into confined spaces with their scabies and lice would reflect badly on him.  It could even be his Katrina.  Well, maybe.  But who's fault is that? It goes to show his handlers aren't as smart as they think they are.  For one, drinking beer and shooting pool in Colorado, a state where ...

The Kids Always Went Home

Watching the immigration mess going full bore brought to mind a lot of things that have involved children from other nations.  The first thing that comes to mind is the Disney song It's a Small World After All that speaks to all we have in common. Hopes, dreams, all the warm fuzzy stuff. We've had exchange student programs where a student from another country lives with a local family to learn not only academics but what life in American and Americans ...

The Militia Is Coming, The Militia Is Coming!

That's all we need! News has it a call has gone out for militia, both unarmed and armed, to gather along the border to help private land owners protect their property in something called Operation Save Our Borders.  Terrific! Remember how well it went when militia turned out to help to  help Cliven Bundy in his fight over Federal grazing rights in Nevada?  It came within a hair's breadth of turning violent. I really feel for the border towns who are the ...

I have indeed two great measures at heart, without which no republic can maintain itself in strength: 1. That of general education, to enable every man to judge for himself what will secure or endanger his freedom. 2. To divide every county into hundreds, of such size that all the children of each will be within reach of a central school in it. Thomas Jefferson
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B Psycho - Psychopolitik

Making an ideological omelette

For those who haven’t been paying attention to the Cato/Koch brothers conflict, a primer:

  • The Cato Institute, despite its reformist bent, previously employed Radley Balko, publishes papers against the War on Drugs and police militarization, and at the moment has people working for it who will write about things like how Mitt Romney’s ridiculously militaristic budget makes no sense, corporate welfare is a bipartisan occurrence, and “starve the beast” — the idea that cutting taxes with no immediate regard for spending prompts spending cuts later — is, to put it scientifically, a load of horseshit. Meanwhile, the political entities that the Kochs directly control are all “what? who cares! We wanna elect Republicans against that damn socialist Obama!”, which is to say they are right-wing hack artists.
  • Bill Niskanen, the guy that wrote the last post I linked, is a shareholder in Cato, among only four. Well, was, as he is now the owner of a farm.
  • Bill’s share was left to his wife. The Kochs are saying it instead should’ve been made available for purchase by other members — them, basically.  Their intentions if successful are made clear by the fact that they attempted to place on the board people who have written such things as “libertarians are idiots” and “George W. Bush is a genius” (seriously, read the link).
  • Because of the above, current employees like Julian Sanchez are writing that if the Kochs win, they quit.

Now that you’re up to speed, consider the following: the reaction of people like Julian is prompting laughing fits from the mainstream liberal blogosphere, under the view that they are somehow contradicting libertarian philosophy (which in their dictionary says “see: Objectivism”).  A more serious version of this by Corey Robin actually grazes a legit point about the common view of libertarianism:

[...] what’s noteworthy in [Julian Sanchez'] ”presignation” letter is not his complaints about the Kochs and what they’re trying to do. It’s the remarkable portrait he paints of himself and his workplace, how the coercion he imagines his new bosses wielding would threaten his autonomy and integrity, his very capacity to speak the truth as he sees it. [...]

The mere thought that he might “be summoned to the top floor to explain why [he's] ‘off message’”—with the obvious implication that he’ll be fired if he can’t or if he does it again—is enough, for Sanchez, to compromise his ability to do his job as he understands it, which is to tell the truth. So threatening to his independence and autonomy is the future bosses’ power to fire him that Sanchez believes he must flee it—in advance of it even being exercised.

The observation that workplace hierarchy can dehumanize workers and hamper the ability to actually do the work is an important one.  If you work at a BBQ restaurant and your new management wants to throw out your famous pulled pork sandwich in favor of a vegan dish, pointing out how dumb an idea that is shouldn’t be controversial.  In practice though, there’s constant assumption that anyone below management is just a drone who should shut up and follow orders, shoving aside that the reason people work is not as a favor to the employer.  This kind of conflict, if you know the writings of Kevin Carson on management & organization, will sound familiar.

Cato, when it comes to labor, has a clear blind spot. This is why the sentiment Julian expresses can be pointed at by Corey Robin as a divergence from “libertarianism” as he understands it.  Filling it in, though, is even pre-Koch seen as a left-wing thing to do, to which I’d say: exactly.

Corey goes on to draw attention to Julian’s relative lack of attachments to worry about, mentioning that others are in different positions, and then thinking he sees a nail drops the Prog hammer:

So if liberty is the absence of coercion, as many libertarians claim, and if the capacity to act—say, by enjoying material conditions that would free one of the costs that quitting might entail—limits the reach of that coercion, is it not the case that freedom is augmented when people’s ability to act is enhanced?

More to the point: is one’s individual freedom not increased by measures such as unemployment compensation, guaranteed health insurance, public pensions, higher wages, strong unions, state-funded or provided childcare—the whole panoply of social democracy that most libertarians see as not only irrelevant to but an infringement upon individual freedom? (emphasis mine)

Here are my issues with this assertion: first of all, the range looked at is extremely narrow.  If his definition of individual freedom is that possibilities are opened, then sure, within the space he establishes additional possibilities are available as choices which would not have been.  Yet, this is only so on a menu that was heavily edited in the first place.  Had organized labor not been actively neutered, the current dependance on the state to stabilize workers — not to mention the Silent Agreement on corporate paternalism prior, the collapse of which is leading to direct government subsidy in the first place — would’ve been headed off a long time ago.  Second, he assumes that because these things (minus the strong unions & higher wages part…) are currently provided for by the state that doing so is their primary purpose.  How one can acknowledge the massive influence of the FIRE sector and the endurance of the military complex, all the while claims are being made that citizens can be executed without trial and banned from protesting near the ones claiming such power, and see those as mere side orders remains a puzzle to me.

To summarize: it’s good to see the kind of organizational skepticism that is leaking from Cato, and whether they do so there after the takeover fails or elsewhere after the takeover succeeds, I hope they build on it.  At the same time, I’d recommend Corey Robin reconsider who is being served in the relationship between citizen and state, in multiple senses of the word.

Author: B Psycho - Psychopolitik

Random thoughts from a big, angry negro... I’m a 30-year-old big black male odds-based atheist and left-libertarian. Oh yeah, and I have dreadlocks. If you’re wondering: yes, that combination does make interaction with people difficult. In the time when I’m not pointing out the moral & logical bankruptcy of government, I’m making music. If you have something to yell at me about that you don’t want to share in the comments, email me: longbongsilver -AT- gmail.com.

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