Thursday, December 29, 2016

The Tax-Deductible Resistance Movement

If you act right now and heed the call of any number of liberal veal pens vying with post-Christmas merchants for your ever-dwindling dollars, you will automatically become part of the elite Donald Trump resistance movement.

 But time is running out!  If you don't fork over your cash by midnight on December 31st, you will lose the golden opportunity to deduct your gift from your state and federal income taxes. Your failure to contribute to the Doomsday fund drive by the deadline might even make you an enabler of the Apocalypse.

Resistance is futile to the Democratic Party's insane mantra that money in the hands of discredited experts is the true meaning of social justice. And well it should be, given that party operatives and pundits are still resisting looking in their own mirrors and seeing themselves instead of the visages of Putin and Comey and Old Whitey Trash. They're still doubling down on the message that since they allegedly suck less than Republicans, they can be our only saviors.

Ask not what the Democratic Party and its various propaganda offshoots can actually do to change your lives for the better -- by, say, advocating for Medicare for All, or supporting strong public labor unions. Ask instead how you can help enrich the same careerists who just shoved a failed presidential candidate down our throats like she was Good N Plenty candy. And it turned out that she was actually Ipecac, the very emetic that vomited up Donald Trump and the most extreme right-wing administration in United States history.

Neera Tanden, the Clinton operative who runs the Democratic Party-affiliated Center for American Progress, has been emailing me every day this week. Despite generous funding from Wall Street and multinational corporations, you'd think that her think tank was tanking from lack of cash. 

Here's her latest apocalyptic appeal, sandwiched appropriately between the ubiquitous come-ons from Kohl's and Harry & David:
Dear Karen:

This December, I’m reaching out to CAP supporters like you to highlight the threat our planet faces from Donald Trump’s policies. We owe it to future generations to stand up against the climate change deniers who are filling Trump’s future cabinet. If you share our belief that climate change is a real and imminent threat, please make a tax-deductible donation to CAP today.

We cannot stand by as Trump puts the profits of fossil fuel executives above the health and safety of our communities. Please donate today to help us push back against Trump’s policies and protect our planet from peril.

Thank you,

Neera Tanden
If you are a rational person who can show solidarity with a corporate political party by daring to believe in climate change, then show it with your wallet. Help pay the salaries and protect the jobs of the elites so that they can continue their important work of sending out a steady stream of fund-raising emails to the people they still persist in believing actually still believe their spiels.

Above all, pay no attention to the  global polluters and greedy plutocrats who help Neera and her staff maintain the high-rent lifestyles to which they have become accustomed: Walmart, Coca-Cola, Goldman Sachs, G.E., Pearson, Citigroup, AT & T, and Blackstone, to name just a few. Pay no attention to the inconvenient truth that many of these same anti-social corporations are either directly working with Donald Trump, or already profiting mightily from his trickle-down largesse. 

I also got an email from Robert Reich today. The former Clinton labor secretary seemed to be under the impression that I am a member of the wealthy donor class. It's very depressing, being told that inclusion in the Donald Trump Resistance Movement hinges upon your ability to send money. It hinges upon the elitist supposition that your most immediate worry is not where your next meal is coming from, but how much you can get away with writing off on your tax return in 2017.

But the most depressing aspect of Reich's appeal was the optimistic theory that donating money to Common Cause will miraculously help make Donald Trump honest and "accountable."
Americans deserve a president who is accountable only to us -- not to their own financial interests. But if Donald Trump and his family don’t entirely divest from his businesses and set up a blind trust, his administration will be compromised from Day 1.
Pressuring Donald Trump to not be a greedy crooked bastard is a little like closing the barn door after a dozen rabid stallions have not only escaped, but have run roughshod over the entire countryside for decades.  As Trump might say, that is just sad. Common Cause should maybe think about renaming itself Elite Cause.

And then there's the standard and artificially narrow identity politics aspect to the professional Trump Resistance Movement.  Feminism in our neoliberal age is largely restricted to "abortion rights" and the outrageous social injustice of successful women not making as much money as their peers. We're supposed to feel indignation that a Hollywood actress is only getting $50 million a picture as opposed to a guy's $100 million. We're not supposed to think about the Walmart cashier  forced to apply for food stamps and Medicaid because one malevolent family owning as much wealth as the bottom 40 percent of the US population is too cheap and depraved to pay a living wage to their employees.

On that note is the appeal from that perkily arrived in my inbox today. In an attachment, I was told that as a bearer of the XX chromosome, I should become an Activista who must "act up" against Trump. Especially for us gals who came of age in the good ole protesting 60s, it's finally time to get back out there and smash stuff donate to worthy organizations like Neera's:
 This past presidential election has a silver lining: It’s turning progressives into hellbent supporters of human rights, voting rights, climate rights, refugee rights, minorities’ rights, women’s rights, and senior rights. Here’s how readers of can participate—and win 2016 tax deductions if you hurry.
It would help immensely if the writer of the article could get the name of the actual publication straight. It's NYC wo-man, not wo-men. One man, one womb.  But anyhow, some of the ways that "progressive" womb-en can help are to sedately march (the day after the Inauguration), support NATO with all your heart, and "fight back" against "fake news" by subscribing to "legacy publications" like the New York Times and the Washington Post. Instead of offering to actually share your physical home with a female refugee, why not cut a check to the Red Cross? Cut other checks to Neera Tanden's Center for American Progress and the Democratic Legislative Campaign Committee while you're at it. (Now, to be fair, NYCitywomen also suggests optional giving to Doctors Without Borders and the ACLU. And if you can summon up the additional energy to click on to a petition at CREDO, then so much the better)

At least we should be grateful that NYCwoman isn't following the unabashedly crass route of the Facebook group calling itself "Pantsuit Nation." Its founder is being rightly blasted for trying to profit personally from the individual trials and tribulations of women who supported Hillary Clinton. As former Pantsuit member Karin Klein writes in a scathing Los Angeles Times op-ed, she thought she was signing up for a real protest and resistance movement, made up of millions of women of all races, classes and educational backgrounds:
But the movement never happened.
Instead, there were stories. At first, eye-opening, gut-wrenching tales of the abuse and discrimination that people had suffered for being dark-skinned or female — most of the members are women — or “different” in some way. Then the wind shifted direction, and the group was flooded with heroic tales in which Pantsuit members, generally white, encountered someone involved in an outrageous act of hatred, usually against a person of color, and were the only ones in the store, the park, the workplace, wherever, to do anything about it.
The activism amounted to such meager efforts as appeals for donations of used clothing so that homeless women could apply for jobs. And then, after Hillary's defeat, came the coup de grace: the group's founder is asking that homeless and jobless women give her permission to republish their personal posts in a book she's writing. It turns out it's not protest, it's a PAC. Naturally, there's been no suggestion of any reimbursement to contributors, not even the offer of a shopping spree at the Salvation Army. Therefore, I suspect that Arianna Huffington may well have been the business model for Pantsuit Nation. Arianna, after all, got notoriously wealthy off the unpaid labor of bloggers before she quit managing her website in order to make more money instructing paid elite professionals how to balance sleeping well with careerism. Co-opting the success of Bernie Sanders's "Our Revolution," she annoyingly calls her own project "the Sleep Revolution."

Not surprisingly. her vapid endeavor has received glowing reviews from her own elite cohort:  from the blog of Neera Tanden's think tank, from Democratic mega-donor Anna Wintour's Vogue, and from the queen of individual responsibility herself, Oprah Winfrey.

After all, if you expect to summon up enough energy to Resist Donald Trump, you need your beauty sleep more than you need a good-paying job, medical insurance, and a roof over your head.

And should you become weary of working for free or almost for free, you can always climb the rickety neoliberal ladder of opportunity by getting yourself crowd-funded -- just like the experts do. It's how the Huffington Post pays many of its own reporters these days.

The professional resistance movement against Donald Trump is only the latest manifestation of what the late social critic Christopher Lasch called "The Revolt of the Elites." Phenomenally rich and privileged intellectuals, media personalities and celebrities are again co-opting protest and turning it to their own ends. It's this very merging of entertainment and politics that created Trump (and Reagan before him) in the first place.

Lasch presciently described what the corporate media are only now purporting to discover - an alternate reality, a/k/a "Post-Truth":
Washington becomes a parody of Tinseltown; executives take to the airwaves, creating overnight the semblance of political movements; movie stars become political pundits, even presidents; reality and the simulation of reality become more and more difficult to distinguish....
The "community" of the best and brightest is a community of contemporaries, in the double sense that its members think of themselves as agelessly youthful and that the mark of this youthfulness is precisely their ability to stay on top of the latest trends.
 So here's a thought. Let's start a resistance movement against the professional resisters.

Tell them all to go fund themselves.


Nonni Muss said...

Thank you for calling out these frauds. Getting people to give more than they can afford is a thing. There's actually a term for it, though I forget what it is. The more that we working stiffs give to the "resistance," the less we'll have to support our true allies. Wikileaks and independent media are the only thing standing between us and tyranny. If we let them starve, we will be truly lost.

Speaking of giving until it hurts, the saddest appeals, from my point of view, are the ones from the sheepdog formerly known as Bernie Sanders.

voice-in-wilderness said...

As usual, Karen does a great job of connecting dots and giving us a different view from the endlessly repeated set of stories in the mainstream media.

Mark Portier said...

Brilliant analysis, Karen. Thank you.

Jay–Ottawa said...

I wonder whether I mail money elsewhere so that someone else can do good deeds on a grand scale. In my name, of course. They let me off the hook, those do-good organizations. Some organizations surely do good and make a difference; others, as Karen points out, aren't so dependable. Frauds again; it's hard to keep up. Welcome to the world, as they say.

But, no, that's NOT the world. Howard Zinn wrote an essay years ago that parallels an ancient counsel that appears, at first glance, to be another serving of pietist drivel. But Zinn argues the point without overtones of religious faith and hope. His most popular book tries to prove the point in purely secular terms, facts of history bulldozed over and over again by historians of the court. Nobodies are the ones to whom we are really indebted––or who let us down.

We each do the right thing ourselves because it's worthy of humanity, not because it succeeds. Zinn, the historian of the masses boiled it all down to one short essay, linked below.

Following that essay, a few lines by Doris Day, who says the same thing from her radical (not fundamentalist) religious perspective.

Altogether, not a bad brain rinse to close out 2016 and prepare for what's ahead.

Dorothy Day was often reproached for only scratching the surface of the needs of the homeless, to which she responded, "The one I follow was a failure in the eyes of many, brutally executed on a cross. He doesn’t ask me to be successful; he asks me to be faithful."

Zee said...

My humble advice?

Forget the national and international organizations, and contribute locally to food banks and homeless shelters, &etc. If you are concerned as to where your dollars are going, volunteer there too, as I will be tomorrow night, and you can see what is actually happening on the ground with your hard-earned dollars.

Meredith NYC said...

Re Neera Tanden, some sort of drama queen--- I commented to the Dec 13 times article---‘The Perfect Weapon: How Russian Cyberpower Invaded The U.S’ ---about the hacking of the DNC emails:

This article creates a detailed, melodramatic scenario---but we can’t know the real meaning yet. It portrays the DNC so sympathetically---as underfunded, underequipped, vulnerable, naïve, traumatized, and defenseless against the big bad enemies of the USA who are allied with the worst pres ever. The cold war is revived.

The fallout led to Debbie Schultz resigning? Well, many said ‘good’.

Article poignantly plays the violins for Neera Tanden (re revealed emails)
...”I was just mortified,” ‘I can’t believe this is happening to me.’” ...... humiliated to see her face on TV calling Mrs. Clinton’s instincts “suboptimal.”
(Yikes. Well, she spoke the truth—HRC’s campaign was hardly ‘optimal’.)
She goes on.... “a sucker punch to the gut every day,” ...the worst professional experience of my life.”

I'm crying. And Tanden words in a New Yorker article about this weren’t suitable to be printed in the Times.

This article mentions that the US carried out cyberattacks and subversion of foreign elections? How did that work out, NY Times?
Do EU parties react to hacks with denial and humiliation?

Meredith NYC said...

these organizations will all say that under our system all political parties, candidates and advocacy groups must raise private money. Politicians say they can’t run for office without megadonors to sponsor them. They must fund raise even after elected. They and we may not like it, but that’s how it is. And the groups will say same.
Doesn’t all this go back to campaign finance reform? A topic WE NEVER SEE DISCUSSED IN OUR NEWS?

So in European democracies that use mostly public funding for elections and strict limits on private donations----how do their public advocacy groups operate? And what restrictions are their corporate lobbyists under?
And do their political parties solicit donations from the public? Or is the money set aside---in predetermined amounts, for a finite, short campaign, that all parties must use for funding?

Here the fund raising of candidates determines media coverage. So that’s what the public hears about, thus polls are higher for the biggest fundraisers, thus more coverage, etc. It’s a vicious cycle, started from the get go by which candidates the big money picks and sponsors.

Sanders was the big exception---he raised the small donations and got big turnout....the media and Dem party made sure to sideline and stifle his message.
Imagine if future candidates threaten the big money sponsorship system like Sanders did.

P0sitan0 said...

Resisting Trump = poking him hard in the areas where he is most resistant to be forthcoming:

For example, when in the world is the IRS going to "complete the audit" of Tyrannical Trump's" income tax returns?
Maybe by January 19th, please, before he can fire whomever is key to it?
Show us the tax returns.

Resisting the oligarchy? Bernie, Warren, and FDR 2.0 will get my $.