Watching the decline...

I love my Country, Feel Okay About My Government and Am Terrified of My Fellow Citizens.

Here we go again: http://www.huffingtonpost.com/2014/09/22/eric-matthew-frein_n_5860800.html

http://www.mcall.com/news/local/mc-pa-trooper-eric-frein-manhunt-sunday-20140921-story.html#page=1

http://www.cnn.com/2014/09/22/justice/pennsylvania-suspected-cop-killer/

The $1 Tax Dodge

Beware the $1 CEO. Revere the $1 CEO.

CEO’s, entrepreneurs, the super-rich are our new heroes. They are  Zeus, Apollo, Jesus, King…they outrank sportsmen and women in trustworthiness polls, even though the institutions they run are the same that are ranked consistently untrustworthy. They are our new icons. The self-made man, the great American myth is back with a vengeance.

The $1 CEO’s are particularly crude about garnering our favor, John Mackey famously remarked that he made enough money and wanted to work for the joy of it. An interesting remark coming from one of the most ardent libertarian businessmen, or at least one of the few who will publicly address and defend their pure market capitalistic beliefs. The Koch brothers, Adelson and the other notables under this big green tent espouse no such pussyfooting, so are exempt in this case.

Personally I do not believe that these people deserve our admiration, respect or even pity, especially the ones who publicly tout their $1 salary. Mackey started his company from investments (gifts) from friends and family and started it as a small cooperative and grew (as most Übermensch businessmen would tell, organically) into a multi-billion dollar enterprise.  Mark Zuckerberg, founder of Facebook, who started the company from his HARVARD dorm room (a) lucky enough to go to college b) smart and lucky and wealthy enough to go to Harvard c) went to fucking Harvard) as a “hot or not” style hookup site. Or the founders of Google Larry Page and Sergey Brin, Stanford students, Page’s pedigree includes a father who was a leading computer scientist and Brin’s father and mother are also scientists, all are tops in their fields.

All these men have taken the $1 CEO route. Though Mackey has been most vocal about the reasons, all of them have allowed the more important reality of their decision be buried in a sea of crocodile tears generated by the financial press and sympathetic politicos.  They’ve become revered as generous and selfless when exactly the opposite is true.

As Robert W. Wood writes in Forbes, the reason these guys do what they do has more to do with good old-fashioned tax dodging than any altruistic motive. After all, altruism is bad, greed is good. http://www.forbes.com/sites/robertwood/2014/04/05/tax-smart-billionaires-who-work-for-1/

So instead of paying a fair portion to the taxman like the rest of us, they get off taking alternate means of compensation in the form of shares and other non-cash payments that are taxed at a substantially lower rate. All the while allowing the PR machine to crank out puff piece after puff piece about how generous and selfless these guys are. That line of bullshit also only adds to the veneer of untouchability and John Galt heroism that the establishment narrative reinforces in us plebes.

And what you say? But these guys work hard, are self-made and do good work. Well I say that their “work” is in no way proportionate to the exorbitant scale of their pay, however it comes. None of these people were “self-made” they had nurturing environments massive financial assistance from family members, damn good educations or all of the above. They may be extraordinarily smart people but they are all extraordinarily smart and at least in some way, extraordinarily privileged.

 

In a way, its kind of like pulling back the cape and discovering that Superman has been rescuing humans is because he’s been pimped out by the guys from the “To Serve Man” episode of the Twilight Zone.

Heroes indeed.

Battle For The Net

If you woke up tomorrow, and your internet looked like this, what would you do? Imagine all your favorite websites taking forever to load, while you get annoying notifications from your ISP suggesting you switch to one of their approved “Fast Lane” sites.Think about what we would lose: all the weird, alternative, interesting, and enlightening stuff that makes the Internet so much cooler than mainstream Cable TV. What if the only news sites you could reliably connect to were the ones that had deals with companies like Comcast and Verizon?On September 10th, just a few days before the FCC’s comment deadline, public interest organizations are issuing an open, international call for websites and internet users to unite for an “Internet Slowdown” to show the world what the web would be like if Team Cable gets their way and trashes net neutrality. Net neutrality is hard to explain, so our hope is that this action will help SHOW the world what’s really at stake if we lose the open Internet.If you’ve got a website, blog or tumblr, get the code to join the #InternetSlowdown here: https://battleforthenet.com/sept10thEveryone else, here’s a quick list of things you can do to help spread the word about the slowdown: http://tumblr.fightforthefuture.org/post/96020972118/be-a-part-of-the-great-internet-slowdown Get creative! Don’t let us tell you what to do. See you on the net September 10th!

via Battle For The Net.

Disgusting meme of the week award. (Happy Fucking Labor Day!)

http://images.sodahead.com/profiles/0/0/2/6/2/6/1/1/3/Minimum-skills-motivation-Minimum-Wage-131969229611.jpeg

Ever since the minimum-wage debate has been raging across social media we’ve had a string of ridiculous claims that ignore the fact that the minimum-wage is not a static number, was never designed to be a static number, and was meant to increase as the cost of living increased. This one especially has popped up a number of times on feeds from friends, and friends of friends. Many of these people I know for a fact grew up in union households with parents who benefited from the postwar economy which they conveniently forget was highly government driven.

 

There are so many conflicting facts to the above statement that they should be, like so many other memes, obviously, demonstratively proven wrong by its existence. But somehow, someway we’ve managed to create a bizarro world, a world in which paranoia, fear, and indoctrinated beliefs, trump logic almost every time.

 

There is more than enough for everyone. That is a fact. Not to get into numbers here after all this is supposed to be a terse response to a terse, ridiculous graphical statement. But I will say this; that if the people who are posting these things really remembered what it was that allowed their parents to pass on the prosperity that they enjoy, they would’ve fought harder when American corporations started shipping jobs offshore, they would’ve opposed Reagan’s union-busting, opposed the  relaxation of regulations that eroded workers rights, and any other governmental action, Democratic, or Republican that removed the structures that created their prosperity.

 

Happy fucking Labor Day!

It’s beginning to look a lot like post-Weimar Germany

Up in here, up in here.

Anger, resentment and scapegoating. Are we seeing the opening for the rise of new Fascism?

Potentially, I think so.

Disgusting Meme of the week award.

https://fbcdn-sphotos-h-a.akamaihd.net/hphotos-ak-xpf1/t1.0-9/10551076_10204835595838327_8788700925715418665_n.jpg

Disgusting for multiple reasons.

1) Using the death of a child to create a racist association when the child herself was anything but is stomach churning.

2) Eliminating the facts of the case and sensationalizing it to make a point. The rest of the story is that the mother of the kids who killed her turned her own boy in to the police. The boys pled guilty and the ringleader is still serving time. She was not “stuffed in a trash can” she was dumped in a recycle bin, while this may seem trivial, the wording is meant to provoke disgust and racist anger in the reader, it implies the kids desecrated the girls body, by all accounts they were terrified after they realized what they’d done. It was shame, not disrespect, that made the boys dump the body. A shame that this Meme implies Black people do not have.

3) Its one of the most tragic and heartbreaking stories I have ever heard, and yes I remember hearing about it.

4) No one rioted because the boys faced justice, went to jail and the case did not involve people with institutional power imposing that power on someone who had none.

5) NO child deserves to be memorialized this way, White or Black.

Here you can read the whole series of Huffington Post articles, but you may not want to, especially if you are a parent.

The Coming War(s) Part 2

So where did all this feeling superior come from?

Short answer, it has been woven into the fabric of American society from the beginning.

In the short few months since I wrote part 1 a lot has happened. The rhetoric against the President has waned a bit, but that is mostly because the narrative has been so ingrained in the culture that there is very little need to stoke that particular fire any more.

White people are pissed.

At least a certain segment of the white middle and working class believe they are losing the high ground they once held. The myth of America as the land of opportunity for all was taken in by them and absorbed and often conveniently and ironically used to keep others down, with ZERO irony. As I have often said lately to those in my personal circle “White people seem to be losing their damn minds.” Well in a way, at least sociologically, its true.

Follow any Facebook feed that purports to be in any way associated with Tea Party aligned politics. What you’ll generally find among the Constitutionalists, Survivalists, Conspiracy theorists, and other assorted self-described Right Wingers is that they are overwhelmingly White and majority Male, the very demographic that has, historically benefited most from the social structures in the US. It is twice and thrice divorced working class White men, the Mechanics, Laborers and Small Business owners who the Democrats lost to Regan and have yet to win back despite policies that would only help them regain their ground, who populate these groups. It is the Farmer, and most ironically the public employees such as Fire and Police officers who let fear win over logic and slap those Gadsden flags on the backs of their F-150 (union made, I might add).

Richard Hofstadter’s 1964 Harper’s Magazine essay “The Paranoid Style in American Politics” critiques this form of pseudo-conservatism. Its no surprise that along with a resurgence of “Objectivism” in educated circles and Revolutionary War rhetoric everywhere else, there has been a renewed interest in Barry Goldwater, in many ways the progenitor of this current crop of populists.

Hofstadter’s prophetic essay, lays the groundwork for understanding what has been wrought. How the political class used and in some cases lost control of the populist movements they tried to co-opt. McCain’s loss to Obama, proved this. The addition of the aforementioned Sarah Palin (see part 1) and her disastrous inability to control what came spewing out of her mouth appealed to the same ditto-heads who tune in daily to the Rush Limbaugh program. Who, incidentally, has also gone off the rails lately, making a string of racist, sexist and other assorted comments that are at the very least in poor taste.

Hofstadter’s essay, while several years old, is more relevant daily.

Populism, be it Left or Right, has always been fraught with contradictions. The anti-elitism that is essential in populist politics, the down homey every-man of a Rush Limbaugh or a Jim Hightower doesn’t always jibe with the reality of hierarchical human culture structures. Structures need leaders, classes, different specialties, and although we on the Left often shun the idea that everyone is not equal in ability we try to obscure the question by claiming that everyone may not be equal in ability but are of equal worth. Right Populism is not so generous.

What distinguishes Right Wing movements in particular is that they often implicitly or explicitly target a certain group for their message and their venom, and the groups they target (with a few notable exceptions, are White). It is a short hop from traditional American extremism to the type of rhetoric we see in the Tea Party movement and it’s allies. By combining all the previous attributes of past, often contradictory, extremist movements they’ve managed to do something incredible and terrifying. They have been all the things they have claimed not to be, blatantly and obviously, and none of them seem to care.

And then there was Ferguson…

As I was driving home this afternoon, dial pinned to NPR as usual, I heard an excellent program about the unrest in Ferguson, everything I had planned on saying about it was better said here.

What I do have to say only reinforces the above points. There is a legal defense fund for Officer Darren Wilson, which, in and of itself makes sense, everyone should be entitled to the best defense they can afford, it’s the American way after all. But what really makes me fume are what some of the very same White males who have been persecuted by the Black Muslim Socialist Obama are saying. Because, you know, there is a long and storied history of those damn Blacks running roughshod over good christian White folks rights.

The Coming “War(s).” Part 1

The latest incident of seemingly random violence, where two police officers were gunned down in cold blood in a CiCis Pizza in Las Vegas, should hopefully be a wake-up call to the nation, but somehow I doubt it. At the nexus of gun control, which cops have been painfully absent in the discussion of lately, and extreme Right ideology, to which many in the departments may secretly espouse, there is the threat and now, the actuality of violence against police officers. Now I am no blind believer in the sanctity of law enforcement, I believe that in many cases they have grown painfully unaware that they serve US and not the other way around. Police have been getting more and more bold about restricting and in some cases outright trampling on the public’s rights. But under NO circumstances would I say that cops should be killed execution style, or any style, while not engaged in law enforcement activities. Police are aware of the fact that they have the ability to use deadly force, and therefore are targets, they accept this as a part of their job, but this…

That being said, there is a terrible irony in all of this, actually several.  Just last week another incident in Forsyth county Georgia (anyone else remember Forsyth county? 1987? ) where a “sovereign citizen” Dennis Ronald Marx attempted to lay siege to the county courthouse. He didn’t make it inside. So here you have two incidents of anti-authoritarian, anti-government violence directed by whites against a largely white power structure yet there is not yet an outcry. Here comes the irony. Remember Ice T? Not the TV friendly streetwise cop on Law and Order, not even the OG, but the lead singer and primary lyricist of Body Count. Body Count who wrote a little song called Cop Killer. A fucking song, and not even a particularly good fucking song, got law enforcement, political leaders and the whole country talking about free speech, the POTENTIAL of violence against police officers and well at least covertly, race. Where is that outcry now?

I’ve been telling friends and family for years that I feared such a resurgence of this type of ideological violence, that the rhetoric of G. Gordon Liddy and the burgeoning right wing talk phenomenon he heralded would collude with the erosion of the White middle class that started with Regan and accelerated with Clinton, that Angry White Males were only being made angrier by reinforcement of their elemental belief that they were superior by the talk radio establishment, that all of this and more would coalesce into violence in a way we haven’t seen yet in this country’s modern history.  It now seems that my biggest fears are coming to fruition.

The ideologues are taking over the GOP. The Tea Party is at the nexus of Koch, God, Guns, Manifest Destiny, American Exceptionalism ™ and fear. Just as the great brainwashing of American people of color that opportunity was within their reach and that racism was no longer a “thing” and its resulting gangs and poverty dyslexia, Whites who had always been absolutely sure of their Americanness and  golden ticket holding status are now experiencing their own form of Mxyzptlkian confusion.  Already having the established “right” to bear arms drilled into the culture, that “right” and all the power/impotence it implies has made them a confused mess. These thugs are no more than gang members, they behave in the same manner, have either formalized or implicit codes of conduct, and traffic in drugs and violence, one being the mind altering type the other of their implicit superiority, their “birthright” and the fear of being just as economically bad off as the brown people, one gets you fucked up and high, the other gets you fucked up on fear.  It is very easy to get twisted up in the racial politics but that’s only because of the 200 years of programming not only inflicted on Black America but White America as well. Everything is about race, but nothing really is about race at all.

Which brings us to 2008…

White America was quietly stunned, at first.

At first, surprisingly, only Fox news had speculated that the couple involved in the incident had fringe ties. But to anyone who lived through the sporadic violence of the 80’s and 90’s, the skinhead resurgence and the Alan Berg incident as well as the numerous beatings, stabbings and dragging’s that have occurred over the last 30 years the all hallmarks of the manifest anger of angry white males.

I’ve been struggling with the ideas surrounding the apparent eclipse that began covering the bright light of White privilege for a while now. Although I saw, as millions of others, the election of Barak Obama as a major turning point that I also think some of us also knew would not be smooth sailing through. In fact, in many ways it would get worse before it got better if in fact it gets better at all. I remember watching the 2008 election results come in and feeling a sense of promise and dread. As all pivotal moments go, from graduation to landing a new job, to saying “I do” the luster of the thrill of accomplishment rapidly gives way to the sheer terror of “what the hell do I do now.” I can only imagine what the reaction was on the other side.

The Palin effect.

The first indication that there was a blood in the water came before the election itself when the GOP made the head-scratchingly bad decision to run Palin as McCain’s running mate. Aside from her painfully dim political I.Q. and her strikingly horrific faux-folksiness she was uniquely unqualified for the vice presidency, in fact she was uniquely unqualified for Girl Scout troop leader. I realize that all candidates vetted through the party system are sculpted in some way by the parties expectations, or or what they think the party is expected to be by the eggheads in its leadership, but this Frankenstein’s monster of ignorance was probably the worst move the GOP has made in recent memory.  A calculated (probably on an abacus, because calculators are the work of the devil) concoction at the crossroads of gender, jingoism and religion, her ascension to the throne of chief wing-nut was the bunker hill of the current and future civil war within and without the Republican party.

Never had a candidate been so built around so many false notions and disparate parts as Palin. A fiscal conservative governor in a state that receives a disproportionate amount of federal funds for a relatively small number of people, a social conservative who’s daughter’s out-of wedlock birth caused more than a casual derisive snicker or twelve and a gun toting grizzly mama NRA loving every-white-woman who was rumored to have secretly boned an African-American basketball player star, Palin can’t even be described as a mass of contradictions, she’s simply a hot mess.

Despite all of this, and demonstrating one of the central insanities of the Tea Party and its loose socially conservative Ecumenism/ (borderline?) racism, she was and to a certain, clawing to still be relevant sense, the poster woman for the movement. Choosing her, the GOP phase shifted from doling out chum to “the base” to trying to outright co-opt it. The results have not been pretty.

Of course the prevailing feelings of entitlement were stirred by Palin’s big spoon; the soup was already boiling for many years. In a lot of ways the election of Barak Obama signaled a sea change that the White Right have been fearing, warning against and arming for since before the civil war. But it was the election of 2008, the emergence of the Tea Party and Palin’s fawning, despicable and disgusting approbation of it that began to galvanize this “other America.” Bringing together Libertarians of the economic kind (The Pauls are only Libertarian when it suits them, opposing Gay marriage on religious grounds and opposing general Civil rights as a way to add froth to the already rabid base and remaining largely silent on Marijuana decriminalization, many of the above clearly NOT Libertarian in the least) old angry White men who have found themselves in a world they did not make (because the very premise of America to them had always included a sanctified place in this country for even the least of THEM while demonizing the rest of US, no matter how productive, no matter how American) and now instead of blaming the greedy and the wealthy who have been lying to them and using them as foot soldiers, bulwarks against the unwashed brown masses, they have reverted to their worse nature and are blaming the victims.

There is something inherently horrifying to many people that is very comforting to these folks, the old romanticized order of things that has good hard working (white) folks getting by (barely) on hard work and “skilled” manufacturing and mechanical labor (which is being lost to the same “market pressures” that have lowered the number of skilled jobs in the US to the lowest level in modern history) and shiftless Blacks and Mexicans serving them in some capacity. They don’t need to be reminded that it was less than 70 years ago when slavery effectively ended in the south, though they won’t call it that. They call Obama a Socialist without really knowing the meaning of the word, either do not know or conveniently forget that the consensus among historians and most rational people is that union membership and wartime government spending was what created the middle class and that when one group is deposed as the convenient scapegoat, they will eventually fill that role.

Next, the radical right goes mainstream.

One of those days…

On some days it’s difficult to get up, on others to sleep, still others, both.

I have my reasons.

Whether it be regressive politics and thinly veneered hatred it gets to me, I can’t help it. There are so many things I do not understand about how people process information that obviously says one thing to mean something completely opposing.

There is all that messy personal stuff too.

Some days are just difficult all around, this is one of those days.

Random Observations on McCutcheon v. FEC

Random Observations on McCutcheon v. FEC. Care of The Rude Pundit. I couldn’t have said it better.

Follow

Get the latest posts delivered to your mailbox: