Friday, May 1, 2015

What a Difference a May Day Makes

Happy International Workers' Day, everybody!

At least 80 other countries are giving people the day off to hold parades and other events in memory of Chicago's Haymarket Massacre. Even though this event occurred in the United States, the One Indispensable Nation of Disposable People is not officially celebrating. The only thing they're celebrating in Chicago today (at least as far as the mainstream media are concerned) is the awarding of the bid for President Obama's library shrine, part of which is to be built on public parkland without the permission of the actual public.

Luckily, the actual public has neither needed nor asked for permission to march in the streets. They're doing it in Baltimore, in Philly, in New York City,and they're doing it in solidarity and protest. Labor rights are civil rights, and civil rights are labor rights.

What a difference a May Day makes. Looking back over my blog-post from a year ago today, I see that on May 1, 2014, Democrats were busily and pathologically celebrating the failures of their $10.10 minimum wage bill and the Paycheck Fairness Act  -- because they could use their failures as a fund-raising tool. We now know how well that turned out for them in the mid-terms.

So while establishment politicians and pundits are decrying the "violence" on the streets, let's remember that it was violence on the streets in 1886 that got us the eight-hour day.


I've written three comments on New York Times articles so far this week. (Please excuse the overlapping points)

The first, in response to Charles Blow's excellent piece condemning the bland politics of black respectability:
Great column, Mr. Blow.

Just before Hillary gave her rousing social justice speech, she hired political operative Charlie Baker, who helped orchestrate the Fix the Debt astroturf campaign of Wall Street billionaire Pete Peterson. Its aim was (and still is) to impose even more austerity on the poor by cutting the already tattered safety net.

But all is not lost. Sen. Bernie Sanders will be challenging her in the primaries. While Clinton trills out her vague platitudes, Bernie tells it like it is -- with genuine rage -- and offers real solutions: a government jobs program, higher taxes on wealth, expansion of Social Security, the overturn of Citizens United.

Even more heartening is that millions of people have finally had enough, all over this country. We're joining in solidarity to rein in the police state, stop the secretive job-killing "free trade" deals, and raise wages not just to a minimum level, but to a living one.

The ills of Baltimore and other struggling cities are not natural phenomena. It's State-sponsored pathology that arrests, jails and kills Blacks, that loots pension funds, that closes schools and mental health and recreation centers, that cuts off the human right of life-sustaining water for families unable to pay the high bill. It's abnormal for wealthy donor-bribers of corrupt politicians to use public money for private profit.

When things are this FUBAR, rage is the healthiest and most effective response there is.
Then there's Paul Krugman's smarmy veiled endorsement of Hillary Clinton, warts and all.  The Conscience of a Liberal implies that we should pay attention not to what she's done, but to what she now says. Words have so much integrity. Mrs. Lesser Evil Candidate at least admits that mistakes were made,  while the Grim Old Party just lies, lies and lies some more. Meh. My comment:
Political integrity in the era of Citizens United is an oxymoron.

Promises for a rosy future and admissions that "mistakes were made" are falling on the increasingly deaf ears of a cynical and battered public fully aware that the jobs aren't emerging, the wages aren't increasing, and the wars are not stopping.

Follow the money. If candidates are raking it in from Wall Street and the weapons industry, you can rest assured that no banker will go to jail and that the invasions and bombings of other countries will continue. Jeb Bush surrounds hmself with the same neocons and economic hucksters who, in a functioning democracy, would be in prison. Hillary Clinton, despite her rousing social justice speech, has just hired the owner of the lobby shop that developed billionaire Pete Peterson's astroturf austerity campaign (Fix the Debt) for a top spot in her campaign. She may say she's against the TPP, but the think tanks pushing it are filled to the brim with Clinton insiders. 
As Gilens and Page have established, the political donor class -- the oligarchy -- gets what it wants in the way of policies. And with campaign spending reaching the billions, what godzillionaires want and what the rest of us need are two different things.
As far as I'm concerned, the only candidate with integrity is Bernie Sanders. What you see is what you get. He has an entourage of one, no money, and thinks the government should work for the people. What a radical concept.
Last and not only least, but bottom-of-the-barrel awful, is David Brooks. The gist is that Freddie Gray is responsible for his own death because his heroin-addicted mother let him munch on lead paint chips, despite the fact that poor people have it so great and therefore we shouldn't throw away money on the poor. David Brooks gives them ladders of opportunity and all they do is loll around on their cushions of dependency. You can tell that David Brooks has now gone into full Wolf Blitzer mode, unable to hide his colorblind racism as well as he usually does. And I was unable to temper my absolute disdain for him as well as I usually do. I couldn't even use up my allotted 1500 characters:
This column was nasty, solitary, brutish, but at least blessedly short. I feel like I need a shower, but I think I might need to throw up first.

This particular offering is in the Brooksian category of "Provoke the Normal People". It will get millions of clicks and go viral, just like an antibiotic-resistant strain of a particularly loathsome disease. It will be quoted by the same pundits now using the "Thug is the New Black" meme during their own concern-trolling coverage.

David Brooks, leading the charge in the War Against the Poor from the safety of his millionaire's perch. Why is it that when I imagine him sitting down to write this drivel I picture a madman spewing saliva as he cackles out his hatred of humanity?

I refuse to waste any more time on this crap. Life is too short, and David Brooks's agenda is way too toxic.


Jay–Ottawa said...

lol ! L O L !!!

But if you keep talking so mean and so funny to our Mr. Brooks, his enablers at the Times are going to take away that little green trust box beside your name.

Karen Garcia said...


My Brooks comment has been duly removed by the trusty trust-cops over at the Times. However, his column still stands in all its hideous ignominy.

I have been told that the Times has a "three strikes you're out" policy on green-check commenting privileges. They supposedly send you a sternly worded warning or two first. I have never received a written warning on stuff of mine that they've censored, so I figure I'm "safe" -- for now.

I heard that what is sure to get you banned for life is any comment containing the word "Hitler".

Richard Ohio said...

I gave up on Brooks years ago. His frequent book reports misrepresented or misquoted many books I'd actually read. Disingenuous at best. The Malcolm Gladwell of columnists. Steal others ideas and twist them into a pretzel to support your world view. Times keeps him around to look like they have a conservative aboard. He's a Limbaugh with flair, that's all.

annenigma said...

My experience has been that if I use the word 'Capitalism', the comment won't be printed, period. If I use 'free market' or almost any other term, it flies like the American flag.

Jay–Ottawa said...

If the Times censors so tightly comments (which relatively few read) coming in the back door, imagine the news and opinion it turns away at the front door (as our journal of record).

Kat said...

I want to share with you a lovely top rated comment from a good op ed in the NYT ("Don't blame black culture").It matters not a whit if the mayor is white or black- if they are on the side of property, they are on the side of property.

So, here is the comment:
When inner city children stop taunting the good students in their classes by telling them they are "acting white;" maybe things will change. We have had 50 years of the great society/war on poverty programs. Until people take responsibility for their own actions and instill values in their children that will help them break the cycle of poverty; nothing will change.

Instead, the author wants to re-direct the gaze of our country from the culture and community and direct it outward and blame others. This is exactly the wrong thing to do.

I cannot count the amount of times that I have read this "acting white" trope (or should I say "tripe"?) in the NYT. It is such a myth.

Meredith NYC said...

Karen, I looked up smarmy for various shades of meaning...“a smug, ingratiating, or false earnestness." That’s a precise word for our illustrious Nobel liberal. I was put off by the whole tone of Krugman’s column. I said....

Krugman tutors us... “ You see, you shouldn’t care whether a candidate is someone you’d like to have a beer with....etc.” We shouldn’t? But we know. What readership does he think he’s talking to? Rather condescending, thank you.

Doesn’t History tells us what pols say in campaigns is often NOT a good guide to how they’ll govern? They all make promises, then appoint Wall St to their cabinets. Did Bill Clinton campaign on promises to sign Nafta and outsource jobs? And to repeal regulation of banking that put our economy at risk? Or start the trend to eventual mass incarceration more apt for a dictatorship than a once great democracy?

How to tell apart a flip flop from an open minded, objective reevaluation of evidence?
Krugman will be our guide? But like anyone, how reliable is he?
Krugman says, “Never being able to say that you were wrong is a serious character flaw.” I wonder what is the real purpose of that sentence? Defend Hillary? Surely not. Everybody’s got an angle, it seems. Politician or Pundit.

Who knows what candidates really say at their fund raising dinners? Will there be any bartenders with tape recorders at the big 2016 fund dinners with the 1%?

Kat said...

"Children can't achieve, unless we raise their expectations and turn off the television sets and eradicate the slander that says a black youth with a book is acting white," --Barack Obama

I guess this was in an important speech for him and helped the nation to take notice of this idealistic young senator from Illinois. It was a masterful signal to white people.

Honestly, though when I hear this "acting white" theory of low achievement I know that person has never been in any sort of predominantly black low income community (and most definitely not in someone's house.)

Meredith NYC said...

I’m having trouble with comments, especially last few days. The email notifications are very iffy for over a month—then I find my comment by scrolling through.

A few of my comments to Krugman today I don’t think got in, not sure, but I got email on 1 reply. I tried to scroll through to find them but after a few ‘read more’ clicks, it seems to get stuck and won’t go any further. This has happened before. The web site is truly 2nd a mess. All I can do is call customer svc, or email the public editor. Without email notification, comments are hardly worth the effort.
I called and spoke to a supervisor recently---she says they are working on this problem of email notification not always working. Do others have this email problem?

Meredith NYC said...

Karen... It's interesting Krugman writes a column the day after Sanders declares, yet doesn't mention him. Sanders is the ‘Conscience of a Liberal’ that shows up the contrast with Krugman. His proposals are concrete and specific. Will PK cite him next week? On 2nd thought maybe not-- Sanders is too identified as left wing in our distorted politics. Best to avoid that.
Interesting that the word candidate has the word candid in it.

The following Borowitz satire gem is most apt now. I sent this to Krugman’s column but can’t find it.

Integrity Disqualifies Sanders for White House
By Andy Borowitz

The Vermont Senator Bernie Sanders’ potential bid for the 2016 Presidency was declared over, on Monday, before it even began, because of a key feature of the US political system that makes a person with integrity ineligible for the White House.

According to experts, the electoral system has safeguards to prevent someone with independence and backbone from occupying the Presidency.

“Bernie Sanders’ failure to become a member of either major political party excludes him from the network of cronyism and backroom deals required under our system to be elected,” ....Though that failure alone would disqualify Sanders, the fact that he is not beholden to a major corporate interest or investment bank would also make him ineligible.”

Because of his ineligibility...he’d be unable to fund-raise the one billion dollars required to run for President. “The best source of a billion dollars is billionaires, and Sanders has alienated them,” ....“Clearly he didn’t think this through.”
....Sanders is doomed to fail.....“Our political system has been refined over the years specifically to keep people like Bernie Sanders out of the White House....The system works.”

annenigma said...

I thought I was missing something by not reading Krugman, so after seeing so many references to him here lately, I thought I'd check him out. I was stopped in my tracks by his first paragraph today and I just couldn't read on:

"History tells us that what politicians say during a campaign is a good guide to how they will govern".

Don't trust your lying ears and eyes, trust politicians and the winner of a Nobel Memorial Prize (a KNOCKOFF, like him) and someone called History. The World According to Krugman claims that politicians will not just govern according to what they say campaigning, but they say the same thing publicly to voters as they do privately to big campaign donors. And there too is a Santa Claus!

Wow, am I ever glad I blew off history in school. I may be an idiot when it comes to history, but I'm not stupid enough to fall for Professor Krugman's crap. Is that what he's feeding his little Princeton Princelings?

There is hope. Those who ignore history and the lies of politicians and corporate news at least have not been properly propagandized or brainwashed by the Establishment. If you don't pay attention, you can't learn falsehoods either.

Some of us were not good doobies as students - smoking doobies is more like it. We might have empty minds but they aren't necessarily closed or propagandized. We're just relative ignoramuses who rely on our own observations. That's not always such a bad thing. We might just be the most independent free thinkers when/if we put our brains in gear.

You guys have fun reading Paul Krugman. I'm going back to being being ignorant of Krugman's great words of wisdom - Once Upon A Time, history told us...

History tells me that Paul Krugman is an Establishment hack.

Karen Garcia said...

Re Krugman:

I have tried to cut back my commenting on his writings the same way I've tried to cut back on "covering" Hillary. But given his popularity/
cult status with what poses/passes as the "left", it is sometimes necessary to call him out on his hackery. Krugman is trying to twist himself into a pretzel in his defense of Democrats, which he accomplishes mainly by shooting Republican fish in a barrel.

That he would address "integrity" in his column today is indeed ironic to the max. A few commenters out of the hundreds responding actually noticed.

I'm glad Bernie Sanders announced, if only for the reason that he makes it "safe" to criticize HRC in Times comments and elsewhere without being accused of treason by the Lesser Evilists. Whether he is simply window dressing to cover up the undemocratic nature of our politics remains to be seen. At the very least, he might get some good stuff inserted into the national platform as a consolation prize. My cynical side tells me that his candidacy is also a good way to get independents in closed primary states to register as Democrats in order to vote for him. I hear that the Democratic machine/veal pen is already raising money off him. But on the whole, I welcome his candidacy with open arms. (notwithstanding his shameful voting for aid to Israel after the Gaza massacre.)


Meredith NYC said...

My comment to Brooks got in...below...don't know why I bothered. I can't find my krugman comments. Karen, you phrase for his column is perfect--nasty solitary brutish and blessedly short. When will they outsource Brooks's column to someone in India at half price? Their English is excellent and they can research on the web and then press Send. Let him spin that.

Urban riots? The occasion for another Brooks lecture on family relationships, responsibility, ambition, future thinking---all are middle class virtues built up over time with financial security as the 1st condition. As usual what Brooks leaves out is that steady reliable income from secure employment is what leads to future thinking and ambition.

Reliable income leads to being able to plan for the future, for the formation of stable, close families, for optimism, self confidence and feeling a part of society. The lack of jobs leads to the opposite. It’s a sequence of motive arising from means and opportunity. Chronic lack of jobs, training, education, with little hope and few role models to show the steps, leads to insecurity and instability in relationships and lifestyle.
Lack of reliable financial security is one of the major causes of divorce.

Throw in habitual abuse by police forces and it’s a recipe for Baltimore, Ferguson, etc. And then the perfect occasion for a pious psychology sermon by the one of the favorite Gop columnists. The true poverty is in America’s social policy and justice system, and the excuses to justify it. Nasty and brutish describes Gop radicals policy.

Brooks if you have any curiosity you might look at other nations with much lower poverty rates and see how their social policy achieves this, not individual psychology. posting on your blog.....the images of food to verify our identities are getting a bit disgusting. Especially early in the day. Any way to change that?

Meredith NYC said... Sanders... Let's ask, what was Nader's effect, and Ross Perot's? He at least blasted campaign finance back then, much worse now.

Since then the nation trended right wing, our Dems are Repub-lite, our inequality worse, and Citizens United delivered us to the 1 percent. Some voters have adapted to low standards, but some are waking up. At least Sanders projects integrity and has very frank and specific proposals--these should have some effect. Maybe more in 2020? We should live so long, as they say.

Denis Neville said...

David Brooks hasn’t a clue what it's like to be poor.

Yet, as Charlie Pierce once said, “Brooks tosses out tinpot sociology like a dime to a beggar on a steam grate.”

David Brooks once praised Charles Murray’s book “Coming Apart,” which argued that wealthy people are wealthy because they are genetically superior to the poor, due to their interbreeding [nation of mutts]. “I’ll be shocked if there’s another book this year as important; that so compellingly describes the most important trends in American society,” wrote Brooks.

“Today’s meritocratic elites achieve and preserve their status not mainly by being corrupt but mainly by being ambitious and disciplined. They raise their kids in organized families. They spend enormous amounts of money and time on enrichment. They work much longer hours than people down the income scale, driving their kids to piano lessons and then taking part in conference calls from the waiting room. The corruption that has now crept into the world of finance and the other professions is not endemic to meritocracy but to the specific culture of our meritocracy. The problem is that today’s meritocratic elites cannot admit to themselves that they are elites.”

“Wealth settles down upon the Composure Class gradually, like a gentle snow.”

The nation of mutts, however, ignores the snowy path to upward mobility and instead munches on lead paint chips.

Why does Brooks persist in writing about what he knows nothing about?

“People who lean on logic and philosophy and rational exposition end by starving the best part of the mind.” - W.B. Yeats

Freddie deBoer nailed Brooks: “Hannah Arendt said that cruelty has everything to do with abstraction. David Brooks resides in that abstraction and embodies that cruelty. In Brooks’ work, there’s nobody who goes hungry at night; there’s just the dynamism that animates capitalism. There’s nobody dying of a preventable disease; there’s the necessity of risk. There’s nobody despairing because there aren’t any jobs; there’s just creative destruction. Think of any human misery you prefer and I’m sure Mr. Brooks has an Aspen-approved euphemism that can cover it up. What a privilege all that money can buy: to live in a world without victims.”

I have seen how society treats the poor.

I miss Bob Herbert, who used his NY Times column to hammer Obama, the Democrats, and the Republicans for their neglect of the poor, the voiceless and the downtrodden and their responsibility to help those who are most needy.

“The poor don’t stand a heartbeat’s chance in this political environment. The movers and shakers in government don’t even give a thought to being on the side of the angels anymore — they’re on the side of the millionaires and billionaires.” – Bob Herbert

annenigma said...

Bernie's playing us on behalf of the Democratic Party. We need at least one viable third party but he's going to actually weaken those chances.

Bernie will end up strengthening the Democratic Party by saving many voters from jumping ship. They desperately need someone like him to get the public to at least pay attention to the primary because Hillary is a real yawn. Bernie can energize voters to register as Democrats which they'll likely stay for life. He'll get a better turnout for them, and yes, he'll help them scoff up some Independents.

Bernie's going to turn over his delegates to Hillary in the end when he should endorse someone in a Third Party. He won't. That said, I'll listen to him and cheer him on, but I won't donate a dime. Some Israeli will surely reward him for voting to donate my tax dollars to Israel to kill some children in Gaza. I mean 'mow the lawn'.

I might vote for him in the primary if I bother voting at all and choose the Democratic ballot in my open primary state, but I won't vote Democratic in the general election, Supreme Court or not. As Hillary famously said "At this point, what difference does it make!" The system is fully rigged.

Let the chips and Empire fall where they may.

annenigma said...

Here's something to ponder about Bernie Sanders running as a Democrat. From Ralph Nader on Democracy Now:

"Where as an independent he could be marginalized, as a Democrat he’s going to get on quite a few debates and in the primary. But he will be asked — if not very soon, he will be asked, "Will you endorse the nominee of the Democratic Party if it’s Hillary Clinton?" And if he says no, he may be actually kept off the debates. The debates are controlled by a corporation known as the Democratic Party. They kept Dennis Kucinich off some of the debates. It’s completely within their power to do that."

The game is rigged.

Jay–Ottawa said...

Ralph Nader missed his calling. Instead of doing what he was created for, he trained as a lawyer and has been stuck in a pro bono rut ever since. Sigh. Yes, he’ll go to heaven, no doubt, but he could have had so much more fun developing his real talents on the path to hell.

What was Ralph’s true calling? Comedy! He could have been a celebrity comedian, which, as you know, calls for a keen eye for contradiction. Not like George Carling, but real sly, more in the H. L. Mencken style, or that blogger on Sardonicky. If you can read the following link and not come away chortling so loud as to disturb the neighbors, you may have slipped into clinical depression from reading too many NYT op-eds.

Ralph just wrote an open letter to President Barack Obama challenging him to debate Elizabeth Warren about the TPP on the tee-vee-vee. Hey, you aren’t chicken, are you, BO?

Ralph: “You are quoted in the Washington Post decrying “misinformation” circulating on the TPP and pledging that you are ‘going to be pushing back very hard if I keep on hearing that.’ Fine. Push back before tens of millions of people with Senator Elizabeth Warren as your debating counterpart. If you agree, be sure that interested Americans have a copy of the TPP deal first so that they can be an informed audience.”

Denis Neville said...

Why Bernie Sanders likely helps Hillary …

According to all the grand media poohbahs, such as …

“Bernie Sanders’ official entrance into the 2016 presidential race is most likely a good outcome for Hillary Clinton. Why? He will elevate many of the issues that Clinton and the entire Democratic Party want to discuss during the primary season (income inequality, curtailing the role of big money in presidential politics, climate change). And he’ll do so as someone who isn’t interested in scoring political points – especially in the form of negative attacks – against Hillary. Hillary’s Harlem (err Brooklyn) Globetrotters now has its Washington (err Vermont) Generals. The question we have is whether it’s enough competition to up Hillary’s game.” - NBC’s Chuck Todd (and future Press Secretary to President Hillary Clinton?)

“The Sanders manifesto shows that there are many areas where progressives and moderates can come together, and it’s in these places, surely, where Hillary will pitch her tents.” - John Cassidy, The New Yorker

“I agree with Bernie. Focus must be on helping America's middle class. GOP would hold them back. I welcome him to the race. –H” - Hillary Clinton tweet

So Bernie enables HRC to speak truthfully about her genuine support of the interests of Democratic voters, to say things that her entire prior political history demonstrates that she doesn’t really believe, and not the interests of the billionaires who are pouring $$$$ into her campaign?

Bernie will force Clinton so far to the left that she actually embraces liberal ideas!

Six in ten mindless moon bats describe her as "honest," according to an AP poll.

Will the liberal masses buy this line of crap and allow themselves be suckered once again?

Bernie, “I will not be part of any Super PAC,” attacks the billionaires, while HRC wants their $$$$. Will she stand up to Wall Street’s incredible wealth and power? Do the American people want an economy dominated by a handful of gigantic Wall Street firms?

"Unfettered free trade has been a disaster for the American people," says Bernie. HRC once bragged that the TPP was the "gold standard in trade agreements."

Bernie, "Medicare for all,” has consistently advocated for a single-payer health care system. HRC, "I never seriously considered a single-payer system. Talking about single-payer really is a conversation ender for most Americans, because then they become very nervous about socialized medicine."

Bernie running as a Democrat instead of as an independent … True progressives would never join the Democratic party! Since voters have been forced to choose between the lesser of evils, couldn’t they do worse than Bernie Sanders? Isn’t it better for progressives that Bernie Sanders run as a Democrat for President? How many past independent presidential candidates were ignored by the media? Denied entry to the presidential debates? Doesn’t this give him the chance to confront Hillary and her sense of entitlement and her plutocratic agenda? Give quisling Democrats and Clinton hell? No, some would prefer to stomp their feet and condemn Bernie for being less than a saint.

Or is Bernie just another Trojan horse meant to deflect progressive energies and keep them from coalescing into something that just might challenge the system?

Mark Thomason said...

"The ills of Baltimore and other struggling cities are not natural phenomena. It's State-sponsored pathology"

Yes. That truth goes even further than it is taken here.

State government defines municipal boundaries for tax purposes, and sets up the tax codes. The structure this to keep money out of the cities.

Property tax is limited to the property values, the "tax base." The rich don't live there, and have their valuable properties elsewhere.

Sales tax goes to the State, as does income tax, and it is those taxes that reach the real money in the State. Those can get into the cities only by "revenue sharing." They are supposed to do so, to recognize the tax base problem.

State governments just don't send it. They break the design of the tax system. Instead, they point to the ability of rick little cities to pay their way, with a wealthy tax base and much smaller city expenditures.

It is deliberate tax sabotage. That is what the Republicans just recently did to Detroit and several other Michigan cities, pushing them into insolvency so they could take them over with State-run management that suddenly has money to use.

It is not natural to the big cities. It is failure by design. It is those with money hiding it from needed taxes, paying only for their own needs in the most narrow definition.