Voices from Russia

Monday, 4 July 2011

“Casual disregard” will Never Hurt Russia

Filed under: economy,politics,Russian,USA — 01varvara @ 00.00

The “one percenters”… the puppeteers of the GOP and the ‘baggers… you can bow down before Mammon or God… it’s your choice… it’s Almighty God or the Almighty Dollar. Only YOU can choose between “the lady or the tiger”…

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Editor’s Foreword:

I usually don’t “Cut n’ Paste”, but Robert Bridge is one of the best American expat journalists working in the RF for a Russian media outlet. Indeed, if you’re not already making RT a regular source, you should. Here’s their link:

http://rt.com/news/

Read it daily… I do. Also, read the other Russian news sources in the blogroll. They’ll give you a necessary corrective to the mid-numbing and cacodoxical pabulum spewed forth by the US Corporate Media.

BMD

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As the US economy continues to drift in dangerous waters, apparently, some commentators see an opportunity to divert attention away from America’s heap of dirty laundry, lobbing bitter attacks against Russia and its economic policies instead. For anybody who doubts there are still Americans suffering from a Cold War hangover, they’d do well to consider this zinger by Robert Kagan, a regular commentator with The Washington Post, who recently asked the question, “Can the United States blithely do business with this corrupt authoritarian mafia state?” Kagan added, without revealing his official sources, “Some in the administration don’t think so. They doubt that foreign investors will ever flock to a Russia this corrupt and dangerous”.

Ironically, Russia gets branded “corrupt and dangerous”, yet “corrupt and dangerous” US companies (like Goldman Sachs) encouraged investment into defective subprime mortgage loans, which, in turn, led to the near-collapse of the entire global economy. It required a government rescue package to the tune of 2 trillion taxpayer dollars (55.7 trillion Roubles 1.38 trillion Euros 1.24 trillion UK Pounds) to save the “too-big-to-fail” US financial institutions and other companies. The average American got a “cash-for-clunkers” programme and a brief reprieve on his mortgage payment. Meanwhile, those affable American CEOs… not one of whom spent a single night pondering their indiscretions through prison bars… are relaxing on the proverbial beach whilst the people who rescued them can’t even get a two-week vacation from their jobs. Even China, the other great oppressor state, still gives its workers more vacation time than American employers. Yet, Russia gets branded as a “corrupt authoritarian mafia state”. For good measure, Kagan didn’t neglect to pin the “anti-Americanism” slur against Russians as well. Interesting how a country that’s now home to about 1,000 American fast food restaurants, including McDonald’s, Burger King and Wendy’s, not to mention Coca-Cola and Chevrolet factories, could be branded “anti-American”.

Dmitri Peskov, press secretary to Prime Minister Vladimir Putin, penned a response in The Washington Post to the article, in which he criticised the “casual disregard” that Kagan showed for Russia’s steady progress on both the economic and democratic fronts. Peskov observed, “Mr Kagan’s column suggested that foreign investors won’t flock to Russia. That must be surprising news to the many multinational companies, such as Ford, PepsiCo, Alcoa, and Boeing that made major investments in the Russian market within the past year. … Had Mr Kagan attended last week’s St Petersburg International Economic Forum, he would’ve seen firsthand the successes that the government’s initiatives in various fields have begun to produce”, Putin’s press secretary added.

It is perhaps understandable why US policy makers are feeling a bit edgy these days and more prone to squirt their venom at Russia. Despite President Barack Obama’s massive bailout and buy-in of US banks and businesses, the economic storm shows no sign of abating. Indeed, there’s a growing sense that all Obama did with his “corporate socialism” was to forestall the inevitable tsunami. If the Great Recession taught us anything, it’s that US corporations still run the game. Despite being flush in hard currency reserves, companies are perpetuating what looks to be a downward death spiral… whilst US productivity rates are increasing, corporations refuse to hire new employees or raise the wages of their current workers (US wages, adjusted for inflation, have barely budged since the 1970s). Meanwhile, thanks to the decimation of US labour unions… the only real democratic voice inside of the corporate universe… companies have been given carte blanche to shed workers and freeze wages at will. Indeed, the lack of a legitimate democratic voice inside the fortress of Corporate America (and not just for the largest stock holders) best explains the so-called “Cinderella Story” of US economic performance. It seems that, somewhere along the way, somebody forgot to remind the CEOs that employees are also consumers; it’s impossible to participate in capitalism without a steady job and honest wages. Americans simply lack disposable income, and they’ve already burned through their plastic long ago. Meanwhile, the one thing that gave Americans some sense of economic assurance and viability, home ownership, was wrecked in the wake of the subprime mortgage crisis, which has left US home prices in the basement.

Yet Russia, according to Kagan, is a “corrupt authoritarian mafia state” that needs lessons on democratic reform. As an individual who’s been affiliated with three US labour unions, it’s clear to me that the US has no room to preach on this subject. If democracy is nonexistent inside of the economic realm, as it clearly seems to be, then, democracy as a national project is redundant and, moreover, doomed. It’s largely ignored that US corporations now exert their infinite power and influence in the one place they were never intended to be… politics. Whilst corporations are now able to bankroll the presidential candidate of their choice (Supreme Court Ruling, 21 January 2010: Citizens United vs Federal Elections Commission), US workers have no ability to control the rapacious corporate appetite… not in the political realm, and certainly not in the economic. Yet, nowhere in the US Constitution are corporations even mentioned.

Kagan went on to write that, “Vice President Biden said in Moscow this year that greater freedom, democracy, and respect for the rule of law in Russia were ‘necessary’ to have ‘a good relationship’”. He noted that the economic modernisation that Russian leaders claim to want won’t be possible without political liberalisation {i.e. Neoliberalism, US “conservatism”: editor}, and he emphasised the need for a “viable opposition” and “public parties that are able to compete”. Russia, a vibrant democracy with about a dozen legitimate political parties, is criticised for not having a “viable opposition.” Perhaps, what Kagan really means is a “viable opposition” that would give away Russia’s wealth at discounted prices, a devastating scenario that already occurred here in the not-so-distant past. It’d be refreshing if, for once, US policy makers and commentators would listen to their own advice. After all, can anybody remember the last time a Democrat or Republican, two parties that can’t wean themselves from the corporate teat, didn’t control the White House? When that day comes, America’s advice will sound much less hypocritical and self-serving.

24 June 2011

Robert Bridge

Russia Today

http://rt.com/politics/corporate-america-mafia-russia-kagan/

Editor’s Afterword:

Mr Bridge hits it squarely on the head… US voters can only vote “against”… neither the GOP Teabagger Corporate lapdogs nor the Democratic Corporate Bureaucratic pettifoggers champion the best interests of Main Street America. All that I can say is that most of us will hold our noses and vote for Obama in 2012 to avoid a New GOP Corporate Oligarchic dictatorship. Obama’s not much better at all… but the Democrats, at least, won’t put the hatchet to our healthcare and pensions (to further enrich the lazy rentier “One Percenters”)… for now.

The entire premise of the Tea Party is crankish in the extreme, in any case. Mayberry NEVER existed, save on the telly. There was never “rugged individualism”… even the Robber Barons of the late 19th century banded together… they didn’t operate as discrete independent forces. If you want to know what “economic freedom” leads to, ponder the Triangle Shirtwaist Fire. NOTHING happened to the two owners of the factory, save for a slap on the wrist. In fact, one of the owners did the same thing later on, and he was fined… twenty bucks! Even in the 1910s, that was peanuts! THAT’S what the Corporate paymasters want their GOP running-dog-lackeys to let them do… they want to kick YOU in the head for their enrichment (“If they’re going  to die, well, let them do it, to decrease the surplus population”). Up to now, the pain has gone to the working class and the lower levels of the manager class. Trust me, the middle level people are next… the greed of the oligarchs knows no bounds. They’ll give them the same “death of a thousand cuts” that the rest of us have swallowed. Hear that yelp? It’s a middle manager getting a hike in their healthcare premium (and getting a refusal for needed treatment from an HMO death panel)… after all, the HMO execs DESERVE a vaca in Palm Springs… you can motor up to Lake George, like it or lump it.

We can DO something about this, or we’ll be ground under the merciless heel of Corporate America. Let me give an aside to Orthodox people… you should reflect that Paffhausen, Dreher, Mattingly, Freddie M-G, Potapov, Kishkovsky, Lebedeff, Reardon, and all the konvertsy crew, in general, drool idiot grins of approval at this. It’s “freedom”, dontcha know!

We can stand up now… or the oligarchs will fuck us relentlessly and without pity later. It’s your choice…

BMD

4 July 2011. Lest We Forget… The Tragedy of the Triangle Shirtwaist Factory Fire… THAT’S What the Oligarchs and their GOP Running-Dog-Lackeys Want to Bring Back, Kids…

Filed under: history,politics,USA — 01varvara @ 00.00

THIS is what the ‘baggers and GOP want… a return to the Hobbesian days of the early 20th century… people such as Rush Limboob advocate a return to that brutal and nasty world… all so that their rich backers earn another dime on the dollar…

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In the article posted above, I made reference to the Triangle Shirtwaist Factory Fire on 25 March 1911. The management locked the doors to the stairwells and exits deliberately, so that the workers would be “chained” to their worktables.  The fire caused the deaths of 146 workers, who either died from the fire or jumped to their deaths. Most of the victims were recently-arrived  Jewish and Italian immigrant women, aged 16 to 23. A criminal court acquitted the two owners, but a civil court awarded 75 bucks each to the families of the victims, even back then that was beans. Oh… the insurance company paid the owners 60 Gs (or about 400 clams a death)… that more than covered the court settlement. That sort of slap-on-the-wrist “justice” for the oligarch class is what the Republican Party advocates. Six of the victims remained unidentified, and were buried in Evergreens Cemetery in the Bronx in a common grave, where, later, a memorial to them was erected. THIS is what “economic freedom” means… any questions?

BMD

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The Memorial to the Unknown of the Triangle Shirtwaist Factory Fire in Evergreens Cemetery in Bronx NY (Greater New York City) USA…

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Rose Schneiderman, a labour activist, said the following at a memorial meeting soon after the event:

I’d be a traitor to these poor burned bodies if I came here to talk good fellowship. We’ve tried you good people of the public, and we’ve found you wanting. … We’ve tried you citizens; we’re trying you now, and you’ve a couple of dollars for the sorrowing mothers, brothers, and sisters by way of a charity gift. But every time the workers come out in the only way they know to protest against conditions which are unbearable, the strong hand of the law is allowed to press down heavily upon us. Public officials have only words of warning to us… warning that we must be intensely peaceable, and they’ve the workhouse just back of all their warnings. The strong hand of the law beats us back, when we rise, into conditions that make life unbearable. I can’t talk fellowship to you who’re gathered here. Too much blood has been spilled. I know from my experience it’s up to working people to save themselves. The only way they can save themselves is by a strong working-class movement.

She also said:

What the woman who labours wants is the right to live, not simply exist… the right to life as the rich woman has the right to life, and the sun and music and art. You have nothing that the humblest worker has not a right to have also. The worker must have bread, but she must have roses, too. Help, you women of privilege, give her the ballot to fight with.

In a bizarre (but telling) epilogue, in 2011, the extremist GOP Governor of the State of Maine removed a mural that contained, amongst other things, a portrait of Rose Schneiderman. He took it to an unknown and undisclosed location. That tells you the truth about the Republican slimers… they want to rewrite history to suit themselves (doesn’t that sound like certain Orthodox parties that we all know?). It’s a crank world… but we don’t have to lie down and take it supinely. As the cap-badge of the SAS has it, “‘Quit you like men” (that’s for all of us, both men and women). Yes… our destiny IS in our hands… that’s what God gave us…

BMD 

 

4 July 2011. What the American Forces in Foreign Parts are Dying For… It’s NOT “Democracy”

Filed under: patriotic,politics,USA — 01varvara @ 00.00

Today, luckless American soldiers die on foreign fields to enrich the oligarch class, to fatten their “bottom line”. If you support the Republican Party, you support the killing of some of our best youth to swell the boodle bags of the careless, self-aggrandising, and arrogant affluent effluent. If you listen to the unhinged and ignorant rants of Glenn Beck, Anne Coulter, Rush Limboob, Sarah Palin and Sean Hannity, you smile when government functionaries needlessly grope Americans’ genitalia… you grin when HMO death panels sentence people to death. It’s all in the name of the “freedom” and “democracy”, dontcha know! Remember those who died in the defence of this country, today. Also, pray especially for those who died so that some lazy “investor” could receive a larger “return” on their “investment”. THEY weren’t guilty… NEVER forget that. Lay a flower on their graves and say, “Thank you”… for no greater love than this… and give your sincere condolences to their loved ones… they didn’t order the insanity. Most of all, thank a World War II vet today… they’re dwindling by the year… they saved us from the Long Night of Fascist Racism… NEVER forget that.

BMD

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