Thursday, June 10, 2010

DSCC: Unions, Netroots are “Special Interests in Washington” | Work in Progress

DSCC: Unions, Netroots are “Special Interests in Washington” | Work in Progress

Senator Robert Menendez, leader of the Democratic Senatorial Campaign Committee, sent out a memo deriding labor unions who supported Bill Halter as “special interests in Washington.”

Tonight Arkansas Democrats nominated Blanche Lincoln, a proven independent voice for her state. In this race Blanche took on powerful special interests in Washington and won. In the Senate, she fights those same fights everyday, supporting home-state farmers, strengthening programs for childhood nutrition, and bolstering rural economic development. As Chairwoman of the Agriculture Committee, Blanche has stood-up and delivered for every region of Arkansas.

And if you aren’t sure this is an isolated incident from the DSCC, they posted this article from The Hill on the DSCC website. The editorial by Hill editor A.B. Stoddard, as posted on the DSCC’s website, congratulates Lincoln for:

fending off Lt. Gov. Bill Halter and the unions and the netroots and the punishment the left promised to exact for her opposition to a public option in healthcare reform and to legislation, favored by unions, known as “card-check.”

Ernesto Laclau in Contingency, Hegemony, Universality: Contemporary Dialogues on the Left

Contingency, Hegemony, Universality: Contemporary Dialogues on the Left

I have argued that class antagonism is not inherent to capitalist relations of production, but that it takes place between those relations and the identity of the worker outside them. Various aspects must be carefully distinguished. First, we have to distinguish the contradiction between forces and relations of production - which, I have maintained, is a contradiction without antagonism - from class struggle - which is an antagonism without contradiction. So if we concentrate on the latter, where is the antagonism located? Certainly not within the relations of production. The capitalists extract surplus-value from the workers, but both capital and labor should be conceived of, as far as the logic of capitalism is concerned, not as actual people but as economic categories. So if we are going to maintain that class antagonism is inherent to the relations of production, we would have to prove that from the abstract categories 'capital' and 'wage labor' we can logically derive the antagonism between both - and such a demonstration is impossible. It does not logically follow from the fact that the surplus-value is extracted from the worker that the latter will resist such extraction. So if there is going to be antagonism, its source cannot be internal to the capitalist relations of production, but has to be sought in something that the worker is outside those relations, something which is threatened by them: the fact that below a certain level of wages the worker cannot live a decent life, and so on. Now, unless we are confronted with a situation of extreme exploitation, the worker's attidue vis-a-vis capitalism will depend entirely on how his or her identity is constituted - as socialists knew a long time ago, when they were confronted by reformist tendencies in the trade-union movement.

Could we perhaps say that these demands have priority over those of other groups because they are closer to the economy, and thus at the heart of the functioning of the capitalist system? This argument does not fare any better. Marxists have known for a long time tat capitalism is a world system, structured as an imperialist chain, so crises at one point in the system create dislocations at many other points. This means that many sectors are threatened by the capitalist logic, and that the resulting antagonisms are not necessarily related to particular locations in the relations of production. As a result the notion of class struggle is totally insufficient to explain the identity of the agents involved in anti-capitalist struggles.

Wednesday, June 9, 2010

Ark. fight fuels W.H.-labor family feud - Glenn Thrush and Ben Smith -

Ark. fight fuels W.H.-labor family feud - Glenn Thrush and Ben Smith -

Emanuel has a good relationship with AFL-CIO President Richard Trumka. Stern, the former SEIU president, is close to White House Political Director Patrick Gaspard, who once worked for him. Both Trumka and Stern reportedly are on good terms with Emanuel’s deputy Jim Messina.

But the departure of Stern, Obama’s highest-profile labor backer, has robbed the administration of an important emissary, and Emanuel’s relationship with labor has been strained over his willingness to scrap the public option to pass health care reform.

Emanuel, who engineered Democrats’ majority in the House by recruiting conservatives during his tenure as chairman of the Democratic Congressional Campaign Committee, remains obsessed with reelecting endangered freshmen and sophomore members.

Emanuel also has told Trumka and other labor leaders in no uncertain terms that their strategy is counterproductive, according to individuals familiar with the situation.

But despite that admonition, anti-Lincoln Democrats say the union assault on the Agriculture Committee chairwoman has paid real-world dividends — in the form of tough new derivatives reforms championed by Lincoln after it became clear she would face a challenge from the left.

“I don’t understand how the White House can say that all this pressure on Lincoln hasn’t helped,” said one Democratic political consultant. “They would have a much weaker financial reform bill if labor hadn’t gotten behind Bill Halter.”

Sunday, June 6, 2010

Can’t Stop The Bleeding » Fellow Taxpayers / GM Owners – You Just Bought Galarraga A Corvette

Can’t Stop The Bleeding » Fellow Taxpayers / GM Owners – You Just Bought Galarraga A Corvette

“Until G.M. has repaid the taxpayers in full for the money they have borrowed, every action that G.M. takes should advance them in that direction,” said Kurt Bardella, a spokesman for Representative Darrell Issa, a Republican of California who is a visible G.M. second-guesser.

Last month, Mr. Issa was among a multitude of critics who took issue with another G.M. marketing effort — the running of self-congratulatory advertisements about having repaid a government loan. (Taxpayers still own $2.1 billion in preferred stock of G.M. and 61 percent of its common equity.)

“The leadership thought it (awarding Galarraga the car) was an excellent opportunity,” Chevrolet spokesman Klaus-Peter Martin said. “We looked into the cost-benefit ratio and decided to go for it.”

Mr. Bardella, the spokesman for the congressman, said he hoped that was true and noted that many people would be watching.

“If you were to ask the majority of taxpayers — outside of the city of Detroit, probably — if they thought that giving a $50,000 car away for free was a good use of money, I’m sure that most people would say no,” he said. “If it creates the perception of good will and a solvent company and encourages people to buy their cars, then great. Is it something they should do every day? Probably not.”