Now for the Good News

I feel pretty good about the Nov 2 election.  After 37 years of taxation without representation, I mailed in my first ballot as a U.S. citizen and registered independent, thus helping Humboldt County, California, amass its bracing 53.3  per cent No on 19.  Weed isn’t my thing, especially at current levels of THC, but I didn’t see legalization doing our local Humboldt economy any favors, and I never liked the way the Prop was written anyway.

I voted for Jerry Brown and I felt good about that too, for reasons outlined here last week, also because it was a vote against the repellent  Meg Whitman,  formerly CEO of ebay, a site of which I am a keen patron. Rare is the week in which I don’t blow away the opposition with a late-breaking esnipe bid of $15 or so for a corkscrew, a plate warmer or similar object of virtue.

I haven’t checked through the inside-baseball political commentaries, but surely Jerry Brown ran one of the model campaigns of the past twenty years.  First of all, he barely opened his mouth or his campaign war chest all summer long, thus allowing Whitman to batter the electorate into resentful fury with a hundred million dollars worth of campaign ads.  Then, when Brown did open his mouth, notably in the debates, he handled himself well. The “whore” fuss never went anywhere, quite rightly so.

Second, the trick that guaranteed Brown victory was efficiently done, and so badly handled by Whitman that the Brown campaign was barely singed by charges of low-rent tactics. I speak of lawyer Gloria Allred’s September 29 press conference disclosing that Whitman had knowingly employed an illegal immigrant, Nicky Diaz Santillan.  Whitman’s self destruction on the issue was a joy to behold.

Finally, the Brown campaign trundled the Whitman campaign off to the graveyard with the two best campaign ads I’ve seen in decades, probably since the anti-Goldwater H-bomb/daisy ad in 1964. The first was the brilliant matching, word for word, of Whitman’s and Schwarzenegger’s campaign pledges; the other was one featuring Whitman’s glowing evocation of the golden California she first encountered when she moved to the state thirty years ago, with the laconic caption that this was when Brown was governing the state.

Whitman closed out her $160 million campaign (the constant reiteration of the fact that this was her own money can’t have helped her either) with a call for Nicky the Maid to be deported. This was just about the time that a little further east in Nevada Sharron Angle’s advisors, among them the man regularly hailed as a modern Machiavel – Karl Rove – successfully counseled her to run a virulently anti-Latino ad, featuring shadowy migrants heading north across the border.

Now, whatever hopes Whitman and Angle may have had of scooting to victory depended greatly on winning a decent slice of the Latino vote in both states. Without this, these days you cannot count on victory in California, Nevada, and Colorado. In the latter state, the Latino vote put Democrat Michael Bennet through to victory in a squeaker over Tea Party Republican Ken Buck.

In California’s Barbara Boxer won 65 per cent  of the Latino vote while Republican Carly Fiorina won 28 per cent. Brown won 64 per cent,  Whitman 30 per cent. In Nevada, Harry Reid won 68 versus 38 per cent for Angle.

California is now a Democratic bastion, a factor of overwhelming importance in national races. Let us stop here to pay homage to one man who did much to inaugurate this state of affairs. California, not so long ago, used to be a Republican stronghold.  In 1994, amid an economic depression, there was a Tea Party-type surge against illegal immigration. This produced Prop 187, aimed at expelling young immigrant children, many of them American-born, from California’s public schools if their parents didn’t have legal documentation. Republican Governor Pete Wilson, in a tight race, swung behind Prop. 187, which prevailed.

Wilson won and, even though 187 was later declared unconstitutional, Republicans saw anti-immigrant campaigning as the key to victory. Republicans who captured Congress in 1994 jumped on the anti-immigrant bandwagon.  For their part, Latinos in California made haste to naturalize and to register to vote. California’s Latino vote doubled between 1992 and 1998, yielding millions of new voters with but a single thought, vote against the Republicans, vote against the party of Wilson.

Here we are in 2010, with a Republican House of Reps bursting with anti-immigrant fever. Assuming the White House is capable of mounting any effective political counter-attack – a highly debatable assumption –  it should immediately put forward its long-road-to-citizenship bill in the lameduck session ahead, and have the Republicans crush it, then campaign on this for the next two years.

Double Your Money!

We’re heading into  the final week of our fundraiser – and ever since a most generous Friend of CounterPunch said he’d match all donations over $100, to a total of $10,000 the donations have picked up in a most encouraging fashion. So remember you send $100 or more, it gets matched. You can only handle $50 or $25? We love you too.


Meanwhile, we’ve been getting wonderful endorsements, from readers and our writers. You’ll see Noam up at the top of the home page. Here are some of the others:

From Paul Craig Roberts, former assistant secretary of the Treasury and one of our most popular writers, “CounterPunch is a first class site with a first class audience. Cockburn and St Clair assemble menus that offer to readers interesting perspectives and factual analyses that are essential to navigating our chaotic times.  I always read the CounterPunch page”

From  Paul Krassner,  another contributor and hero of our times ever since he founded The Realist, “CounterPunch lives up to its name, responding to lies with facts, to distortion with reality, and to demagoguery with insights.”

From Pam Martens, “CounterPunch provides a perpetual message of hope to me in its fearless pursuit of speaking truth to corrupted power.”

From Ralph Nader, “A roaring colosseum of commentary, columnists and tell-it-like-it-was,-is,-and-should be original reportage, complete with a bookstore whose readable volumes tear away the lies, evasions, cover-ups and myths of a censored world. Taste, digest and deepen your mind from this fresh cornucopia called CounterPunch.”

From another very popular writer, Mike Whitney: “I admit it; I’m addicted to CounterPunch. It’s as much a  part of my morning routine as coffee and toast. And–like many of you–I depend on CP to fill me in on the news behind the mainstream blabber. When I want to know  what’s really driving the bloody war in Juarez, or who was behind the recent coup in Honduras, or what happened after the levees broke in New Orleans, or the inside scoop on Wall Street’s latest scam, I always turn to CounterPunch for the answers. But that kind of coverage costs money, which is why–once a year–CP editors Cockburn and St. Clair have to beat the drum for donations to keep the presses rolling.

“If you are a frequent visitor (like I am), then, please, consider making a contribution. These are lean times for everyone. Still, we need to support the people who are willing to sacrifice their time, effort and talent to bring us the best political newsletter on the Internet. Please give generously.”

From Dave Marsh, currently co-hosts with Kevin Gray, the  Live from the Land of Hope and Dreams show on Sirius Left/XM America Left. “What I find at CounterPunch is people who aren’t waiting around for some hack politician to see the light. The articles are written by people who are at work ending the wars, saving the Earth, exposing the criminals in government and business, protecting the food supply…the whole spectrum of things that need to be done to create justice and equality. Others bemoan the media and cultural deterioration. Counterpunch provides analysis and reporting about media and culture that offers different ways of looking at the issues, hearing the music, seeing the art and the movies. Its readers would be impoverished without it. I’d pay for a subscription just for the privilege of reading Patrick and ALEXANDER COCKBURN, Jeffrey St. Clair and other regulars. I get much more, not once in a while but every issue (and on the Internet, every day).“

From JoAnn Wypijewski, another regular contributor. “With CounterPunch, editors ALEXANDER COCKBURN and Jeffrey St. Clair follow in the tradition of history’s great pamphleteers, producing for the digital age — and for us traditionalists who still adore ink on paper — a news sheet that is extraordinary for its eclectic reporting, acute analysis and passion. CounterPunch isn’t just smart; it’s fun and stylish, with a terrifically engaged readership that is as sharp and surprising as the publication itself. So pony up, people, because in dark times it’s important to have a flame, and that’s what CounterPunch is, a political project that faces the day without drear or fear!”

From Ishmael Reed: “Counterpunch is one of a handful of publications where writers like Cecil Brown and me, in order to be published, aren’t required to tone down our content or make nice, or follow the current route to Op-ed, book, film, television, and stage production demanded of black writers: make whites feel good about themselves by depicting blacks as sub-human.”

From Michael Hudson, another of our great team of economic writers: “Counterpunch is my favorite site to find the best collection of left-wing criticism of the U.S. and global economic meltdown. That’s why I write for it.”

From the mighty John Ross, ace reporter in Mexico City and lifelong revolutionary and hell-raiser, “CounterPunch fills this void with hardball coverage from some of the gnarliest trouble spots on the globe. This is news you need to know and even in these desperate times our readers have an obligation to dig deep and keep this ship afloat.”

From the utterly fearless Kathy Kelly: “CounterPunch editors and contributors won’t let us fall asleep at the wheel.  Sitting up straight and paying attention never felt so good as it has since I began learning from perspectives aired on CounterPunch.”

From historian Arno J. Mayer: “CounterPunch invites and publishes critical commentary and analysis that are all too rare in contemporary America. This is a moment neither for intra-mural comedy nor for celebrity politics, but for critical thinking informed by searing cosmopolitcan cyncism and satire.
I salute the editors of CounterPunch for keeping the faith and for providing a platform for radical dissenting spirits.”

From another hell-raiser, Tariq Ali: “The subjugation of everyday life to the processes of a cynical real-politik imposes on each citizen of Europe, America and elsewhere,  an isolation that is a form of humiliation, though many think of it in terms of personal choice. It is necessary to fight back. Counter-information reflecting a different world-view is an essential part of this resistance.  Every day, no matter which part of the world I’m in, I make sure to visit Counterpunch for news and views. The oxygen it provides helps to limit the pollution we are forced to breathe.”

From one of our greatest radical historians, Peter Linebaugh: “In our era of fear, isolation, and sameness CounterPunch offers a daily reprise – a laugh, style, facts and news from below, and an anti-capitalist connectivity of subjectivities whence our revolutionary knowledge grows. It gives as good as it gets.  As a jab, a hook, or an upper cut, the counter punch is unfailingly on target. “

From investigative reporter Christopher Ketcham: “I write for magazines up and down the spectrum –Harper’s, GQ, Vanity Fair, National Geographic Adventure, Orion — but only in CounterPunch do I get to throw the punches that I need to throw to survive in any moral or ethical sense as a writer on the political condition of these United States.”

From labor activist and writer, Steve Early: “While many publications have cut-back on their labor coverage, CounterPunch has expanded its reporting and commentary on workers’ struggles of all types, here and abroad. I’ve been a beneficiary of this, both as a reader and contributor. Anyone interested in following the labor controversies of the day should be checking CounterPunch regularly.  But remember–alternative media outlets like this can’t survive without our financial help. Let’s keep CounterPunch alive and kicking,  with a donation today. Mine just went in the mail!”

From one of our long-term contributors, anthropologist David Price: “CounterPunch fills a crucial gap in allowing us all to retain some control in a world dominated by corporate media outlets. I count on what I read in CounterPunch daily to give me the analysis and news I can’t find anywhere else.  The mixture of writing from academics, activists, insiders, and everyday citizens who give a damn makes CounterPunch the first site I check each morning, often reporting stories before other media outlets decide cover them, other times reporting stories that others will never report. I don’t know of any other news sources that supports critical writers like CounterPunch does; while other editors try and get me to pull back and tone down critiques, Jeff and Alex push their writers to not hold back and get critical views to their readers. I don’t want to think about what would happen if CounterPunch had to cut back on what it offers.”

From Bill Blum: “I send my monthly Anti-Empire Report directly to thousands of people on my mailing list, but each month I usually get more responses from people who see it on CounterPunch than from any other source.  CounterPunch clearly has a great audience worldwide.”

From labor writer David Macaray: “Among the things that most impress me about CounterPunch is the political and cultural perspective offered by its many non-U.S. contributors. CP regularly includes insightful articles from writers all over the world. I know of no other publication that does that as regularly….or as well. My latest donation to CounterPunch was the best $100 I ever spent.”

There are others whose supportive words we will be citing in our final week. You hear the wise advice. Keep CounterPunch on the road.


The Iron Ceiling

You can read more in our new newsletter about the grand British coalition, ranging from New Labour to the Conservative/Liberal Democrats, slashing at social spending. Susan Watkins, editor of New Left Review, offers our subscribers a trenchant report on Britain’s Tri-partisan Electoral Monolith and how the Slash-and-Burn Tory Coalition is picking up from where New Labour left off. Remind you of anything – like who’s now pushing for Social Security “reform” over on this side of the Atlantic? Welcome to the world of capital and its iron ceiling. Needless to say, as Susan describes, New Labour’s new leader, Ed Miliband, has already triumphantly deflated the rash hopes of those who thought this feeble fellow would represent any sort of shift to the left for New Labor.

Also in this terrific issue, released to subscribers this weekend, Larry Portis reports from France on the mass protests and the shrivelling of Sarkozy. Peter Lee gives us an amazing piece on the awful tragedy of China’s Yellow River – from Chang Kai-shek’s breaching of the levees, to the vast, tragic drama of the Communists’ efforts to master the river with the San Men Xia Dam reservoir.

I urge you strongly to subscribe now!

ALEXANDER COCKBURN can be reached at



Alexander Cockburn’s Guillotined!, A Colossal Wreck and An Orgy of Thieves: Neoliberalism and Its Discontents are available from CounterPunch.