Monthly Archives: August 2013

Stop the Myth: The Right Isn’t Logical

In the course of discussing Fox’s penchant for insisting that there’s a race war…against whites, naturally…Ellen Brodsky asks the kind of question I keep hearing from the left, a querulous confusion suffused by puzzlement.

Given Fox’s symbiosis with the Republican Party and given the GOP’s supposed desire to win back minority voters, it’s hard to understand what Fox thinks is to be gained from this outpouring of antipathy.

The unstated assumption is that both Fox and the Republican party aren’t really batshit crazy but are somehow actually responding to a perceived – however misperceived – sense of rational self-interest. The assumption, however, is unwarranted. They aren’t, either of them. Instead they are, and have been increasingly over the last three decades, responding not to any form of reason, however twisted, but to the dark, fevered emotions of the id, and a damaged id at that.

Psychologically, the profile of the right wing in America is the profile of a paranoid psychopath. Continue reading

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@Jos Truitt: You Can’t Get Blood From a Stone Or Complexity On TV

Salon’s Jos Truitt complains that tv’s female characters are 2-dimensional. My response is, “Well, at least it’s 2 occasionally. It was only 1 for a few decades and it’s still mostly just 1.”

Look, Jos, it’s no good saying, “Men have it better on tv” because it’s an absurd claim. TV doesn’t treat anybody well. What, the automatons of Mad Men are deep, complex characters with layers of sophisticated feelings behind those moronic masks? Gimme a break.

Tee Vee is a cesspool run by corporate sales forces as a way to access consumers. You’re lucky the talent still has enough juice to demand better material and enough people remain unenamored of dreck like Duck Dynasty, Jersey Shore, and American Idol that money can still be made on half-assed attempts at “complexity” like Breaking Bad, Scandal, or Weeds.

Movies rarely take chances with risky material, tv virtually never. Every dangerous idea is safely watered down, every potentially offensive moment analyzed for its commercial value before it’s allowed to air. TeeVeeLand is a place where no truth is to be spoken unless it’s covered in enough sugar to gag a maggot, no character is to have more sides than an English professor can explain in one sentence, and every plot has to be simple enough that even George W can understand it without Cliff Notes.

To expect any more than that is an exercise in reality-denial.

Chickens, Roost – You Know the Drill

Apparently it’s finally dawning on Republicans that redistricting to win seats has its limitations. There comes a point when even your supporters have had enough destruction and death.

Their problems are threefold and intertwined. First, the GOP has become effectively agenda-less, advocating policies that lack popular support, and that they quite possibly couldn’t execute even if they controlled the government entirely.

Second, as Politico honchos Jim VandeHei and Mike Allen explain, “The party is hurting itself even more with the very voters they need to start winning back: Hispanics, blacks, gays, women and swing voters of all stripes.” That’s partially a consequence of theiragenda-less-ness, and partially a consequence of its members’ propensity to say things and advocate ideas that further alienate women and minorities.

Third, a combination of chance and poor decisions will turn the coming midterm into a referendum on issues custom tailored to energize Democratic demographics that tend to sit out midterms.

Actually there are four problems, not three. Number 4 is that it isn’t just that their policies “lack popular support”. It’s that their policies are batshit crazy and as destructive as a plague. Continue reading

You Dare Punish BP? BP Sue!

The Houston Chronicle is reporting that British Petroleum, fresh from their sterling response to their destruction of the Gulf of Mexico by pumping oil all into it – and over it and under it and next to it and… – namely, “God did it, not us, so how come we have to pay?”, is suing the US for refusing to give it more chances to spill just as much oil in other places, too.

BP sued the U.S. government on Monday over its decision to bar the British oil giant from new federal contracts to supply fuel and other services following the company’s agreement to plead guilty to manslaughter and obstruction charges in connection with the 2010 Gulf of Mexico oil spill disaster.

The company said in court papers filed in U.S. District Court in Houston that the Environmental Protection Agency’s decision to suspend the company from such contracts and its continued enforcement of that order is arbitrary, capricious and “an abuse of discretion.”

“Abuse of discretion”. That’s, like, if your boss rapes you at a company party but then he apologizes afterward, it’s an “abuse of discretion” to report him to the police anyway because he’s, like, totally sorry, dude, so it’s completely unfair to hold him responsible just because he, you know, did it. Continue reading

Economics 101: If You Take All Our Money, We Can’t Buy Anything

Twenty years ago, Michael Moore started asking, “If corporations won’t pay employees enough to live on, who do they think’s going to buy all the shit they make?”

The answer, when it came, was, basically, “The Chinese”. They thought “emerging markets” were going to take up the slack if they stopped caring about the home market, so they did. They froze wages and increased upper management incomes by some 800% in the last quarter of the 20th century and by more than 2000% over the past decade or so, most of which came directly out of the pockets of their employees. The middle class has been decimated and poverty has risen exponentially but so far there has been no corresponding rise in exports. Emerging markets have failed to emerge, at least they have failed to emerge in a way that would sacrifice their home consumers for the benefit of American corporations.

Finally, after almost 35 years of unfettered greed, the American business press (if not American business) is coming to the conclusion that it may just be possible that the deliberate corporate destruction of the American market by an American business theory that focused on short-term profits and dumped every other consideration was, well, just maybe, a mistake.

The fundamental law of capitalism is that if workers have no money, businesses have no customers. That’s why the extreme, and widening, wealth gap in our economy presents not just a moral challenge, but an economic one, too. In a capitalist system, rising inequalitycreates a death spiral of falling demand that ultimately takes everyone down.

Low-wage jobs are fast replacing middle-class ones in the U.S. economy. Sixty percent of the jobs lost in the last recession were middle-income, while 59 percent of the new positions during the past two years of recovery were in low-wage industries that continue to expand such as retail, food services, cleaning and health-care support. By 2020, 48 percent of jobs will be in those service sectors.

This from Bloomberg News, hardly a left-wing rag. What it means is that things have gotten so bad that even dyed-in-the-wool corporatists are at last attempting to face reality.

Be gentle with them. They’re new to it.