Archive for the ‘Class Warfare’ Category
On March 4th, The Thing in the White House sent out a bunch of angry tweets blasting the previous President for wiretapping Isengard Trump Tower. “Terrible! Just found out that Obama had my “wires tapped” in Trump Tower just before the victory. Nothing found. This is McCarthyism!” Then 30 mins later: “How long has President Obama gone to tapp my phones during the very sacred election process? This is Nixon/Watergate. Bad (or sick) guy!” When asked to clarify this insanity, The Thing’s minions really could do nothing but heee and hawww. The Thing read it somewhere, they said. NY Times! Louise Mensch! BBC! Naturally once reporters dug deeper, they found that NO, none of those reports talked about wiretapping. Mensch broke the story on her right-wing blog HeatStreet on November 7th about the FISA warrant, but all she said was that a FISC court granted permission to “examine the activities of ‘U.S. persons’ in Donald Trump’s campaign with ties to Russia.” In question was a mysterious communication between two Russian banks and a server in Trump Tower. (David Corn of Mother Jones broke the story of the two banks and Trump Tower, but all media dismissed it as a bizarre conspiracy theory a couple of weeks earlier.) In the follow-up reports to Mensch’s story, BBC and the failing NY Times confirmed a FISA warrant, but nobody mentioned wiretaps… except Breitbart and then The Thing in its Tweets. Ahhhhh, the plot thickens. Where did Breitbart get the information about wiretaps at Trump Tower and did The Thing just leak top secret information in a series of Tweets? Sure seems that way. Will anybody hold him accountable? LOL.
There are fleeing moments when it feels like Lady Lindsey Graham and Hero John McCain might hold The Thing accountable for the numerous impeachable offenses it has committed. Earlier today Graham tweeted: “An attack on one political party should be considered an attack on all. We must push back on Russian election interference at home & abroad.” That sounds great! However it should also be noted that Graham had lunch with The Thing earlier in the day.
“Great lunch meeting with @POTUS today. President Trump is strongly committed to rebuilding our military which is music to my ears. (1/3)
President Trump is in deal-making mode and I hope Congress is like-minded. (2/3)”
“How good was the meeting with @POTUS?
I gave him my NEW cell phone number.”
Somebody responded: “1-800-DOOR-MAT?” And then “You, sir, are a profile in courage.”
And that, folks, is Lindsey Graham summarized in a handful of tweets. We have to get used to the notion that no, Graham and McCain won’t hold The Thing accountable for anything until they’ve gotten what they want from him: tax cuts for the rich, bigger military, gutting ACA, etc. etc. etc. Then maybe, possibly, once that’s all done, they’ll throw The Thing overboard.
Speaking of handing out cell numbers, can anybody afford a new cell phone after Republicans pass Trumpcare? Jason Chaffetz, the man who investigated Benghazi and Hillary Clinton’s e-mails to death, and who doesn’t think there is any reason to look into Trump’s connections to Russia, went on CNN to start selling Trumpcare to America.
Americans have choices. And they’ve got to make a choice. And so, maybe rather than getting that new iPhone that they just love and they want to go spend hundreds of dollars on, maybe they should invest it in their own health care. They’ve got to make those decisions for themselves.
This is, of course, patently absurd. An iPhone unsubsidized by a phone company might cover one month’s premium for a single person. How many iPhones does Chaffetz think people buy? Of course, Chaffetz himself doesn’t have to buy his own phone. He gets one from work. His cell bill gets covered too. “How much does an iPhone cost” is the new “How much is a gallon of milk?” and Chaffetz doesn’t know the cost of either.
Overall Trumpcare is going to gut poor people into oblivion. It gives tax breaks to the rich, provides insurance companies with tax deductions on CEO salaries, will raise costs of premium, reinstate caps, gut preexisting conditions. Millions of people will lose their insurance. Many of them were Trump voters. Sadly many of them were not. But they will suffer also.
Why do Republicans hate poor people? It’s a question that has been asked often and there are many answers. As it came up again in the current Trumpcare discussion, I was reminded of a scene in E.M. Forster’s great novel “Howards End.” In the 1910 novel Forster explored 3 groups of people from 3 different classes: the extremely wealthy and conservative Wilcoxes, upper middle class but liberal Schlegels, and poor but aspiring for something bigger Basts. The Schlegel sisters, Margaret and Helen, try to help poor Leonard Bast, but their well-meaning interventions in his life, as well as not-well meaning interventions from the Wilcoxes, prove disastrous. He loses his job as a clerk in an insurance company after following bad advice from patriarch Henry Wilcox. When the impetuous Helen (played by Helena Bonham Carter in the magnificent film, with Emma Thompson as Margaret) tries to make her case for helping the poor to the condescending 1%-er Henry Wilcox (Anthony Hopkins in the film), the following exchange takes place. Written in 1910, “Howards End”is still relevant in 2017.
From Chapter 22
He [Henry Wilcox] raised his finger. “Now, a word of advice.”
“I require no more advice.” [said Helen]
“A word of advice. Don’t take up that sentimental attitude over the poor. See that she doesn’t, Margaret. The poor are poor, and one’s sorry for them, but there it is. As civilisation moves forward, the shoe is bound to pinch in places, and it’s absurd to pretend that any one is responsible personally. Neither you, nor I, nor my informant, nor the man who informed him, nor the directors of the Porphyrion, are to blame for this clerk’s loss of salary. It’s just the shoe pinching–no one can help it; and it might easily have been worse.”
Helen quivered with indignation.
“By all means subscribe to charities–subscribe to them largely– but don’t get carried away by absurd schemes of Social Reform. I see a good deal behind the scenes, and you can take it from me that there is no Social Question–except for a few journalists who try to get a living out of the phrase. There are just rich and poor, as there always have been and always will be. Point me out a time when men have been equal–”
“I didn’t say–”
“Point me out a time when desire for equality has made them happier. No, no. You can’t. There always have been rich and poor. I’m no fatalist. Heaven forbid! But our civilisation is moulded by great impersonal forces” (his voice grew complacent; it always did when he eliminated the personal), “and there always will be rich and poor. You can’t deny it” (and now it was a respectful voice)–“and you can’t deny that, in spite of all, the tendency of civilisation has on the whole been upward.”
“Owing to God, I suppose,” flashed Helen.
He stared at her.
“You grab the dollars. God does the rest.”
It was no good instructing the girl if she was going to talk about God in that neurotic modern way. Fraternal to the last, he left her for the quieter company of Mrs. Munt.
“Don’t ever discuss political economy with Henry,” advised her sister. “It’ll only end in a cry.”
“But he must be one of those men who have reconciled science with religion,” said Helen slowly. “I don’t like those men. They are scientific themselves, and talk of the survival of the fittest, and cut down the salaries of their clerks, and stunt the independence of all who may menace their comfort, but yet they believe that somehow good–it is always that sloppy ‘somehow’ will be the outcome, and that in some mystical way the Mr. Basts of the future will benefit because the Mr. Brits of today are in pain.”
Also, in brief: Richard Steele, the British spy who wrote the infamous “pee pee” dossier, has resurfaced. While American Senators want to hear him testify about what he knows.
WikiLeaks is dumping top secret CIA documents.
And contrary to earlier denials that he’s never met the Russian Ambassador (a man nobody has ever met), a newly unearthed article in the Wall Street Journal from last April says that Trump met with the Russian Ambassador and greeted him warmly.
What’s on your mind Widdershins? This is an open thread.
Good Monday, Widdershins! For your activism today, please do check out the link to the Louisiana donations page on the right side of the blog. It is truly astonishing that 875 billion gallons of water (or 875 Superdomes) fell on the Baton Rouge area in such a short amount of time.
Now to the topic of today’s post: The really, truly, we-mean-it-this-time autopsy of the Republican Party. To paraphrase a famous, fictitious Scotsman: It’s dead, Jim.
Back in 2012, after The Glove lost handily to that evil Kenyan Muslim with the funny name, there was a famous “What the f*ck just happened?!” inquiry into the epic fail of the Republicans’ usual Presidential election strategy. Mitt had won all of the traditional demographics that had gained the White House in previous elections: educated white women and men, mostly. The formula should have worked like a charm…but it didn’t. Why not? The Republican brainiacs thought and thought, and here’s what they came up with: Demographically, the Party was out of touch. Young people, Hispanics, women, African-Americans…these groups were not interested in the self-important posturings of the overprivileged old men who make up the Party leadership.
So how would the Republicans “reach out” to the people in question? Would they tweak their platform at all? Why, of course not. They didn’t even bother to try. They would ignore the fact that their Party was dying not in spite of its message, but because of it; and not because people were too stupid to understand it, but because they understood it very well. The alleged “conservative movement” is nothing more than an excuse to further line the pockets of Party leadership, and the American people, in 2012, had figured that out – even the Republicans who still called themselves that.
Between 2012 and 2016; the Tea Party in Congress strengthened its position exponentially. More and more “moderates” were pushed out, and those who dared to try to actually do the work they were put in Congress to do – work to create legislation for the benefit of the American people – were viewed as “traitors to the cause.” No one was sure what the cause was, of course. But they all knew that Obama was very bad, that Democrats were bad, and what they should do was foil everything that those bad people did.
Despite the advice of those who tried to position themselves as more moderate, the RWNJs embraced the “Party of No” strategy; doubled, tripled and quadrupled down on it. And not surprisingly to anyone watching with an objective eye, this crazed group of fringers, when put in charge of nominating a Presidential candidate, nominated someone as racist, xenophobic and misogynistic as they were; but most importantly, someone as angry as they were.
That was the day the Republican party died completely. It just took a long time for the realization to sink in – at least, for some people, still pining for the lost glories of Raygun (the man who condemned it to its slow demise) and claiming that they no longer recognized their Party. Gee wilikers, what was your first clue that the Party had become a frothing, toxic mixture of hatred, fury and neo-Nazi fervor?
I find the most pithy statement of the Party’s epic fail came from Ms. Meghan (McMaverick) McCain. While some Republicans seem to feel Trump is an aberration, John McCain’s daughter isn’t buying it.
“Trump winning or losing has nothing to do with the party if the party can recover or not,” Meghan McCain said. “The problems run deeper than that.”
For those who want more details, I recommend this analysis by Justin Guest. It’s true, white, non-college-educated Americans have been economically left behind by globalism, and socially left behind by a growing mix of ethnicities slowly brown-ifying the lovely pale flesh tones they prefer to see. And oh my gosh, uppity wimminz are going to run the country, and probably take their transgender lovers with them! It’s enough to make David Duke weep. Check this out:
As part of a broad study of white working class politics, I solicited white Americans’ support for Donald Trump, but also for a hypothetical third party dedicated to “stopping mass immigration, providing American jobs to American workers, preserving America’s Christian heritage, and stopping the threat of Islam”—essentially the platform of the UK’s right-wing British National Party, adapted to the United States. How many white Americans do you think would consider voting for this type of protectionist, xenophobic party?
Clearly, Trump’s allure is bigger than Trump himself.
Indeed…and we’d all better be vigilant. We’ve seen Great Britain suffer due to the predations of these throwbacks to a much less progressive and open-minded time, a time when white men were in charge of everything, and anyone who challenged that mindset could just drink from a different fountain, or be subjected to any indignity the masters wanted. This is the illness at the heart of the current Republican Party’s base, and they’re not going away any time soon.
Whether they stay Republicans or not, this is a group of people that have no business in the political arena. Their candidates and agenda must be firmly pushed aside, in this election and in every other following.
So despite the fact that Hillary now has a double-digit lead, and we’re all going to get out the vote to make sure she wins, we can’t get complacent. We can never forget that these people are out there, they’re malignant, and they vote. Let’s make sure they are demoted to the vast, irrelevant fringes of American society, where they belong.
This is an open thread.
Last week, the Bush “Hair Apparent” said something quite remarkable. In talking about the economic needs of workers tethered to a living wage calculated for the 1970s, he said, “Workers need to work more hours.”
Okay, let’s dissect this in the light most favorable to the third Bush in the dynasty hedgerow. Jeb! (always add the exclamation point to give him a little pizzazz) said he meant, “More hours should be made available to workers,” as opposed to saying, “Workers were lazy slugabeds and needed to work more hours.” Whatever exclamation boy!
Even if it was a misspeak, still not good Jeb! In fact, it demonstrates an even more fundamental lack of understanding of the workforce and workers in general. Here’s the 411:
- American workers are the most productive workers on the face of the planet;
- Since the 1970s, productivity has more than doubled and wages have only increased 13%;
- Even from 2000 until 2012, productivity increased 25% and wages have actually receded – I’m repeating this for the appropriate amount of emphasis, from 2000 until 2012, wages have actually receded while productivity increased by one-quarter;
- If wages had increased at the same rate as productivity, the current minimum wage would be $22/hour; and
- Working people now take home the lowest share of total corporate income that’s been recorded since 1950.
Here’s a chart explaining the great parting of the ways between productivity and real earnings:
Here’s another one depicting productivity, the average income of the 1%, and average overall wages:
Finally, this last one shows where the great chasm began:
The other thing about this dust-up and its utter lack of understanding is this: People who are working part-time for the minimum wage don’t just work one job. They work two and sometimes three jobs to pay the bills. As Robert Reich says, “Part-time workers work sixty to seventy hours a week making them almost double full-timers.” So the answer under the Bush beans-for-brains theory is, “Let’s just change the calendar and add a day – eight days a week and the plebeians can afford the electricity to run their luxury microwaves. Long live the plutocrats!” (Another appropriate use of an exclamation point is after the word plutocrat!)
The really sad thing is this – it isn’t the gaffe, or the misunderstanding of the labor market, or the failure to grasp simple economics – it is the abject failure to understand or offer even a cursory acknowledgement that trickle-down economics is a bust – no bueno – territory reserved for turds in the punch bowl! Trickle down, supply side economics has been harmful and counterproductive to the entire economy, not just minimum wage workers, but wage earners throughout the economic spectrum.
Here’s the news flash every Republican doesn’t get or chooses to ignore: Track the divergence between productivity and wages and it is the 1980s. Track any number of economic indicators demonstrating the demise of the middle class and it is 1980s. Track the economic damage to the middle class and the meteoric ascendancy of the wealthy, and it is 1980s.
Cut taxes, upload earnings to the cuticle pushed, gentrified echelon of the wealthy as spouted today by the Ben Hur cast of Republican presidential candidates and there isn’t a fly wings’ breadth of difference between now and what was peddled back in the 1980s by Ronaldus Maximus.
Here’s a question to stop those annoying uncles at cookouts this summer: We’ve given 93 cents of every dollar in income growth to the top one-percent, why are the 99% not celebrating their new found prosperity? “Big lotta ingrates they are, wouldn’t you agree Uncle Fester?”
I will be checking in sporadically today since I have flood clean-up duty so feel free to take the conversation in any direction you might like.
Good Monday, all! This Saturday, as most of us are aware, Hillary Clinton gave her first major speech of the campaign in New York, and by my lights, it was a smashing success. She hit all the right notes, from her shout-outs to FDR (the location of her speech and the four pillars of her platform, mirroring FDR’s Four Freedoms), to her positions on income inequality, taking action on climate change and creating jobs, voting rights for all, equal pay for equal work, the overturning of Citizens United, freedom from discrimination for LGBT, and pretty much everything a good FDR Democrat’s heart would desire. Everything, that is, except her stand on the TPP.
Democratic presidential front-runner Hillary Clinton on Sunday urged President Barack Obama to work with congressional Democrats who rejected his trade agenda last week, and to seek tougher labor protections in a proposed Pacific trade deal.
Clinton had until now declined to take a stand on the Trans-Pacific Partnership, but her comments amounted to an implicit rebuke of Obama and a nod toward liberal critics of the deal.
At a campaign stop in Iowa, Clinton said Obama should work with opponents like House Democratic Leader Nancy Pelosi, who engineered the defeat of a related trade package last week.
“I am willing to try now to see whether you can push to get rid of the objectionable parts, to drive a harder bargain on some of the other parts,” Clinton said.
If Obama does not get the best deal possible, “there should be no deal,” said Clinton, who is the front-runner among candidates to be the Democratic Party nominee for the November 2016 election.
With her landmark speech, her new campaign video, “Fighter,” and her first public foray into taking on Obama directly on domestic issues, I feel like for the first time since 2007, we are seeing the real Hillary Clinton.
While I’m relatively certain with a 99.9999999% assurance factor the writers for The Daily Show have not yet discovered our little Widdershin world, their writing and video selection could not have been more apropos as a follow-up to Tuesday.
This video lays bare the philosophical quagmire associated with the “zero-sum” thinking. Jon Stewart calls it out with the simple words of believing being poor is not a condition, but character. In other words, being poor is attributable to a lack of character and if just the poor had more “character” they would no longer be poor.
Contrary to all the inflammatory rhetoric nine-tenths, that is 9/10, or 90%, or 9 out of 10 people receiving benefits are elderly, disabled, or working households. This whole crap-fest began after the Georgetown University poverty summit when the President, in a twenty-second throwaway comment about Fox, made mention of the demonizing of the poor. It’s not like the conservative viewpoint wasn’t represented since right there on the stage was a conservodroid from one of the “shrink tanks” in DC.
This demonization of the poor isn’t new, but it has been particularly potent of late:
There’s a deep tradition in America of agitating those who aren’t well-off against people who have it even worse (picture poor whites in the pre-Civil Rights South directing their ire at blacks who had even less).
Whatever the cause of this resurgence of poor hatred, be it the Tea Party or political wedge-driving, Jon Stewart perfectly captured it last evening. The video might not embed, but follow the trail, it is well worth the effort:
What are we going to do without Jon Stewart? Who will subject themselves to Fox in order to demonstrate their rank hypocrisy?
Take the conversation in any direction you might like.
Good afternoon Widdershins. Being the midwife to the midweek post, I have the opportunity to recap and summarize last night’s State of the Union address. If you would like a serious breakdown of the President’s proposals, you can click here and here. Otherwise, if you want to partake in some of my foolishness, read on.
The voices I sometimes hear were on a rampage last night. This ability to hear and translate these voices is not a natural talent. It is a skill I picked up following decades of hoisting tumblers slightly larger than the Exxon Valdez filled to overflowing with the nectar of my friend Glen — Glenfiddich.
Last night my cranial rabbit ears were finely tuned. The voices I picked up were transcontinental in character from the well-heeled neighborhoods with Palm accompanying Beach or Springs in their names, Nob Hill, or just about anyplace in Texas with the exception of San Antonio. My friend Glen’s nectar has given me the apparent ability to eavesdrop on these conversations. The following is what I heard last night in reaction to the SOTU.
There was a lot of chatter from around Bentonville, Arkansas. Best I can tell that chatter was centered around the proposal to plug what is probably the biggest loophole in the whole tax code — the “Angel of Death loophole”. It is so named because when the merciful Angel of Death visits those with gazillions of dollars, she brings with her an exemption worth dying for. Truly, it is a loophole to die for — just ask the grateful children of the dearly departed. It is called, “Stepped up basis.”
All the chatter from Bentonville was probably the Walton family. Here’s how it could have worked for them or the Steve Jobs family or the Bloomberg family or the Koch family or any of the 3,200 other families it really affects. You see, this exemption isn’t just about the 1%. It isn’t about the top one-tenth of the 1%. It really only affects the most Jetson of the jet set — the .001% of the 1% or about 3,200 families.
Here’s how it would have worked with the Waltons. Say old Sam paid $1.00 for his stock in Wal-Mart. Sam worked hard, was successful, didn’t even take a salary. Over his years of hard work, his $1.00 stock became worth hundreds of billions of dollars. Having never cashed his stock, when the Angel of Death delivered her tax exemption at the end of his time, the stock and all of its appreciation from $1.00 to hundreds of billions of dollars passed to his children. Tax due from his children on his stock appreciation — a big fat Z-f’ing-ero.
So all that appreciation, essentially employment income, is lost forever as a tax expenditure which is the fancy name for a tax loophole. It is a tax expenditure because those who enjoy it are looking over their shoulders at ordinary people to pay the taxes to operate the government, pave the roads, put boots on an Army, and educate the workers of the country. The same country that enabled them to become so obscenely wealthy.
There was also chatter from the rarefied walls of boardrooms around another proposal. This carping was about returning the capital gains tax rate to 28%, the exact same rate it was under St. Ronnie, husband of Nancy. Here’s the breakdown: Just 400 households, four-hundred, are getting 16% of all capital gains with the top one-tenth of 1% getting half of those. The stock market has more than doubled in the aftermath of the 2008 financial implosion and the total increase envisioned here is 4.2%.
If you totaled up the two proposals — getting rid of the Angel of Death loophole and the slight increase in the capital gains rate, 99 percent of the money comes from the top 1%, with 80 percent of that coming from the top 0.1 percent. The same set of people, in large measure, who caused the financial upheaval and certainly the people who have most benefited during the ensuing years.
The other big voices were from Wall Street bankers. Boy oh boy were they soiling the silk drawers the Bush bank bailout bought them! These voices were complaining about a proposed 0.07% tax on the borrowing of banks. It is ludicrously cheap for the big banks to borrow money and then turn around and gamble it. If that sounds familiar, it is exactly what happened from 2003 through 2008 when the financial world exploded throwing the economy into the River Styx.
This proposal would be an incentive for the big banks to put themselves on a diet and perhaps even break themselves into smaller banks. You will hear lots and lots of talk about this, but here’s the kicker — it only affects banks with assets over $50 Billion dollars — about 100 banks total. Ending this big bank advantage ought to be something America’s smaller community banks should love. We’ll see.
What is on the other side of these proposals? Middle class things like tax credits for married couples with children, boosting the Earned Income Tax Credit, increasing child tax credits for preschoolers when child care expenses are the highest, favorably changing higher education benefits to help families with college-aged children, and the big one — making the first two years of community college free. Investment in the middle class and replacing “trickle down economics” with the catchphrase “middle class economics”.
So you ask, “What are the chances any of this will become law?” About the same chance of success as a shaved-ice kiosk on the surface of the sun in the middle of July. Here’s the point — none of these proposals are welfare. None are entitlement driven. Most have been championed at one time or another by the Republican party.
These proposals are aimed at the middle class. The revenue adjustments are squarely aimed at the 1 percent and more accurately, the top one-tenth of the 1 percent. If anything, perhaps a national conversation will occur.
As a nation, that is a conversation we need to have and not just one imagined in my head.
Take the conversation in any direction you, or your own voices, may want.