Category Archives: Deep Politics

Class cleansing, history, race, and the Super Bowl


A short but notable segment from Democracy Now! how issues of the issues of class and race are integral to America’s most iconic sporting event.

No Super Bowl in recent decades has evoked their spectral present more than the game’s 50th extravaganza, held in San Francisco, the nation’s most expensive city to inhabit, yet a city haunted by the issues of race and class.

It was, after all, San Francisco that brought the nation its first drug law, created in 1875 to repress a hard-working Chinese population by banning the use of opium, the drug which helped numb the pain brought on by long hours of physical exertion.

The San Francisco ordinance, quickly adopted by most other California cities with large Asian populations, didn’t halt sales of the drug; instead driving it underground and causing the price to spike.

Nor, as any visitor to modern San Francisco can attest, did it succeed in driving out its Chinese residents.

[The nation’s prohibitions of cocaine, marijuana, and heroin were all based directly on overt racist hysteria, as noted here.]

The San Francisco Bay Area was also the birthplace of the most prominent African American militants of the mid-20th Century, the Black Panthers.

And it was the Panthers who were, remarkably, celebrated in Sunday’s Super Bowl halftime show by one of the nation’s most popular singers.

But before the game was held, another cleansing of San Francisco took place, this time one based on class and not race.

And with that by way of preface, from Democracy Now!:

Beyoncé Wins the Super Bowl: Pop Legend Invokes Black Panthers, #BlackLivesMatter at Halftime Show

From the transcript:

AMY GOODMAN: Dave Zirin joins us from Washington, D.C., sports columnist for The Nation. His latest article, “The Streets of San Francisco: ‘Super Bowl City’ Meets Tent City.”

Thanks so much. His books include The John Carlos Story: The Sports Moment That Changed the World, which he co-wrote with John Carlos. Your response to all that happened last night, Dave?

DAVE ZIRIN: Well, there’s on the field and off the field. I mean, on the field, you had the Denver Broncos exhibit one of the great defensive performances in Super Bowl history. Off the field, what you had was really an unprecedented sweep of the homeless before a Super Bowl contest. And, you know, every Super Bowl in the host city has a narrative that exists outside the game. In New Orleans, it was “How will the city recover after Hurricane Katrina?” In New York, if you remember—we discussed this, Amy—it was the sweep and harassment of sex workers before the big game that took place in the Meadowlands.

And in San Francisco, it’s the fact that you have this city of only 800,000 people that has a homeless population of 10,000. Sixty-one percent of the homeless in San Francisco were working at the time they lost their homes. And one-third of these 10,000 people are children. And yet, the response from San Francisco Mayor Ed Lee was: You better get off the street. You better get gone, because we’re about to have a party for the 1 percent. We’re about to have a Woodstock for the wealthy and celebrate the Super Bowl and celebrate our conspicuous consumption. There’s no greater symbol of this year’s Super Bowl, to me, than the fact you could go to the game and buy a delicious hot dog with real gold flakes sprinkled on top, so you could eat gold with your hot dog while people are literally hungry outside the most unequal and, by some metrics, the wealthiest city now in the United States.

AMY GOODMAN: And can you talk about what happened inside, at halftime, Dave Zirin? Can you talk about not only what Beyoncé—

DAVE ZIRIN: Yeah.

AMY GOODMAN: —did there with her song, the homage to the Black Panthers—

DAVE ZIRIN: It was too short.

Quote of the day: Parsing a media strokefest


From Norman Solomon in an interview by Sharmini Peries for The Real News Network:

PERIES: Now, a few weeks ago the New York Times was really called on by the Bernie campaign in terms of how little coverage he was getting in the first place in the New York Times. Why, why is the New York Times not paying attention to these smaller candidates that have a greater popular movement, support, and so on? On the one hand that seems kind of obvious, given that it is a corporate media, and they act in the interest of the corporate elite. But it is not good newspaper-selling. So why are they doing that?

SOLOMON: Well, there’s certainly been a progression in terms of the coverage of Bernie Sanders. As you note, early last year, and later on even, as he announced and then began to gain momentum for his candidacy for president, he got very little coverage in the New York Times. The announcement was on the back page. He was sort of pooh-poohed, and by omission discounted. And it was only because of the grassroots momentum of the campaign that the New York Times has been compelled now to routinely put him on the front page here in February of 2016.

This is a pattern where it’s not until and unless grassroots candidates are able to raise a lot of money and show that they can, perhaps, get a whole lot of votes, that the news media, including the so-called quality legacy outlets like the New York Times, are willing to even take them seriously. But now we’re in a different phase, where after being almost ignored, discounted, pooh-poohed, put in terms of a fringe candidacy, the Bernie Sanders campaign is now being deluged with attacks and mischaracterizations by a wide range of media, where Hillary Clinton, even though she’d gotten some rough treatment from the New York Times in the past, because she is the corporate standard-bearer against the insurgent insurrections of the Sanders campaign, Hillary Clinton is getting a lot of very favorable coverage. Not only in the New York Times, but across a lot of news media. Of course, Fox is already gearing up to try to defeat her, they hope, in the fall.

But you’ve seen a lot of just [puffery] for Hillary Clinton. Not only on the cable news such as MSNBC, but also in the editorials you mentioned. A few days ago when the New York Times editorially endorsed Hillary Clinton for president with a flourish, there was so much smoke that I couldn’t recognize her. The New York Times editorial board was just depicting and describing a candidate for president, Hillary Clinton, who I absolutely could not recognize. She was this paragon of idealism, she was willing to challenge corporate and undemocratic interests. It was just this fantasy that, because the New York Times is eager not only to get her elected but to get Bernie Sanders defeated, she’s got a halo over her head and she’s some sort of great advocate for equality and the rights of people, no matter their economic station.

And here’s the full interview:

Corporate Media Endorses Clinton to Defend Their Own Interests

Program notes:

Norman Solomon, co-founder of RootsAction.org, says the New York Times’ anti-Sanders Bias is rooted in its desire to maintain the status quo.

Julian Assange gets ol’ Palestinian treatment


You know, the one in which a few small powers reject the overwhelming votes in their favor from a vast majority of the world’s nations.

First, from the Los Angeles Times:

‘How sweet it is,’ WikiLeaks’ Julian Assange declares after U.N. panel backs his freedom

WikiLeaks founder Julian Assange said Friday he felt vindicated by the findings of a United Nations panel that ruled he should be allowed to walk free.

And the inevitable, via Deutsche Welle:

Assange stays put as Britain, Sweden reject UN decision

The British and Swedish authorities have rejected a UN panel’s findings and say WikiLeaks founder Julian Assange will still face arrest if he exits Ecuador’s embassy. He’s not budging, reports Samira Shackle from London

UPDATE: From The Real News Network, an interview [transcript] on Britain’s response with Assange’s own attorney:

UK Rejects UN Ruling that Assange Detention Is Illegal

Program notes:

After the UN finds Assange to be arbitrarily detained, Assange attorney Carey Shenkman explains how the UK is undermining the authority of the UN while simultaneously relying on it to release detained UK citizens

BBC News covers Old Blighty umbrage:

Julian Assange decision by UN panel ridiculous, says Hammond

The UK foreign secretary has branded as “ridiculous” a UN panel’s ruling that Julian Assange be allowed to go free, as the Wikileaks founder demanded the decision be respected.

And the response, via the Guardian:

Julian Assange accuses UK minister of insulting UN after detention finding

Foreign secretary Philip Hammond dismisses panel’s finding as ‘ridiculous’ but WikiLeaks founder hails ‘sweet victory’

Anonymous voices our own sentiments, and much more graphically:

BLOG Anon

Quote of the day: Parsing an existential threat


From Naomi Klein in an interview on the deep implications of climate change by Michael Winship for BillMoyers.com [emphasis added]:

We have to change the kind of free trade deals we sign. We would have to change the absolutely central role of frenetic consumption in our culture. We would have to change the role of money in politics and our political system. We would have to change our attitude towards regulating corporations. We would have to change our guiding ideology.

You know, since the 1980s we’ve been living in this era, really, of corporate rule, based on this idea that the role of government is to liberate the power of capital so that they can have as much economic growth as quickly as possible and then all good things will flow from that. And that is what justifies privatization, deregulation, cuts to corporate taxes offset by cuts to public services — all of this is incompatible with what we need to do in the face of the climate crisis. We need to invest massively in the public sphere to have a renewable energy system, to have good public transit and rail. That money needs to come from somewhere, so it’s going to have to come from the people who have the money.

And I actually believe it’s deeper than that, that it’s about changing the paradigm of a culture that is based on separateness from nature, that is based on the idea that we can dominate nature, that we are the boss, that we are in charge. Climate change challenges all of that. It says, you know, all this time that you’ve been living in this bubble apart from nature, that has been fueled by a substance that all the while has been accumulating in the atmosphere, and you told yourself you were the boss, you told yourself you could have a one-way relationship with the natural world, but now comes the response: “You thought you were in charge? Think again.” And we can either mourn our status as boss of the world and see it as some cosmic demotion — which is why I think the extreme right is so freaked out by climate change that they have to deny it. It isn’t just that it is a threat to their profits. It’s a threat to a whole worldview that says you have dominion over all things, and that’s extremely threatening.

Cancer: Another reason to loathe the TPP


The Trans-Pacific Partnership, the multinational Pacific Rim trading pact, negotiated in secret under the sway of corporate lobbyists and signed today in New Zealand, must be approved by Congress in order to take effect.

Hillary Clinton loves it, Bernie Sanders and Elizabeth Warren  don’t.

There are many reasons to loathe the TPP, including its secret tribunal capable of fining nations huge sums for enacting environmental, public health, and other barriers to protect citizens from unalloyed corporate rapacity.

Now comes another good reason, cancer.

From RT’s The Big Picture with Thom Hartmann:

What Today’s TPP Signing Means

Program notes:

Melinda St. Louis, Public Citizen’s Global Trade Watch & Zahara Heckscher, Writer/Educator/Social Justice Advocate join Thom. Representatives from 12 countries are gathering in the world’s most remote capital to finally sign the Trans-Pacific Partnership. What effect will this have on the effort to block the deal here in the US?

U.N. to back Assange in embassy blockade


From Reuters:

WikiLeaks founder Julian Assange has been subject to ‘arbitrary detention’ during the 3-1/2 years he has spent in the Ecuadorian embassy in London to avoid a rape investigation in Sweden, a U.N. panel will rule on Friday.

Assange, who enraged the United States by publishing hundreds of thousands of secret U.S. diplomatic cables, appealed to the panel saying he was a political refugee whose rights had been infringed by being unable to take up asylum in Ecuador.

The former computer hacker denies allegations of a 2010 rape in Sweden, saying the charge is a ploy that would eventually take him to the United States where a criminal investigation into the activities of WikiLeaks is still open.

UPDATE: From RT’s Ruptly TV:

Switzerland: UN decision on Assange ‘indirectly but still legally’ binding

Program notes:

Christophe Peschoux, a United Nations human rights official, said on Thursday in Geneva that a UN Working Group on Arbitrary Detention decision on the case of Wikileaks founder Julian Assange would be “indirectly but still legally” binding on authorities.

Assange is currently being pursued by Swedish authorities over rapes he allegedly committed in the country in 2010, which he has always denied. Since 2012, fearing extradition by Britain, he has sheltered in the Ecuadorian embassy in London.

The UN panel releases its findings tomorrow, which are expected to conclude Assange is being “arbitrarily detained” in the UK. Swedish prosecutors claim the decision would have “no formal impact” on its ongoing investigation.

Chart of the day II: The billion dollar election


From the Center for Public Integrity, a look at the huge numbers of dollars pouring into the 2016 Presidential election as of the end of the year, with the greatest share of those corporate and bankster super PAC dollars going to the GOP. Click on the image to enlarge, and go to the link for an interactive version:

2015 fundraising by candidates versus super PACs

2015 fundraising by candidates versus super PACs