The NYT’s block of editorial blockheads have had quite a week for themselves. First Tom Friedman embarrasses himself by writing about economics as if he knew what the word meant, and now David Brooks notices the country isn’t in very good shape after years of the austerity and corporate theft he’s been championing as solutions without actually realizing that’s what he’s doing. Pretty good trick for a normal person but a necessary skill for right-wingers. Without it their heads would explode collectively.
First, he does a brilliant job (well, he doesn’t but the source he’ ripping off did) drawing a word picture of the economic devastation that is trickle-down America. The excuse for the column is his concern that Americans lack the “energy” they used to have, which is proved for him by a study that says we don’t move as often as we used to. A slim reed to be sure, but in the process of discussing various theories about why, look at he detail he comes up with. And the explanations they led him to.
It’s also true that labor markets are getting more homogeneous. It used to be that the jobs found in Pittsburgh were different than the ones found in Atlanta. But now they are more similar, so there is less reason to move from one city to another. But that also fails to explain the tremendous drops over decades.
No, a big factor here is a loss in self-confidence. It takes faith to move. You are putting yourself through temporary expense and hardship because you have faith that over the long run you will slingshot forward. Many highly educated people, who are still moving in high numbers, have that long-term faith. Less-educated people often do not.
This loss of faith is evident in other areas of life. Fertility rates, a good marker of confidence, are down. Even accounting for cyclical changes, people are less likely to voluntarily vacate a job in search of a better one. Only 46 percent of white Americans believe they have a good chance of improving their standard of living, the lowest levels in the history of the General Social Survey.
So we’ve lost faith in capitalism. We no longer believe it’s going to make our lives better or that the “better” job we might move to look for actually exists. To David, this is an attitude problem. We’ve gotten lazy and don’t want to move because nobody’s guaranteeing us a soft landing when we get…wherever we’re going. And this doesn’t faze him:
Fifty percent of Americans over 65 believe America stands above all others as the greatest nation on earth. Only 27 percent of Americans ages 18 to 29 believe that. As late as 2003, Americans were more likely than Italians, Brits and Germans to say the “free market economy is the best system on which to base the future of the world.” By 2010, they were slightly less likely than those Europeans to embrace capitalism.
Thirty years ago, a vast majority of Americans identified as members of the middle class. But since 1988, the percentage of Americans who call themselves members of the “have-nots” has doubled. Today’s young people are more likely to believe success is a matter of luck, not effort, than earlier generations.
This, as all of us stuck down here rather than in the rarefied atmosphere of private schools, limousines, gated communities, and private jets can attest, is a simple acknowledgment of reality in corporate-run America. We don’t “embrace capitalism” because it’s perfectly clear to us that capitalism is tying to kill us. David runs down all the reasons we feel that way and then acts like it’s, like, a fad. He even calls it a “trend”, like pink Ipads or sneakers with lights on the heels. Those kids today…
His solution when he finally gets to it? Vouchers.
I kid you not.
No one response is going to reverse the trend, but Michael Strain of the American Enterprise Institute believes government should offer moving vouchers to the long-term unemployed so they can chase opportunity. If we could induce more people to Go West! (or South, East or North) in search of opportunity, maybe the old future-oriented mind-set would return.
Vouchers, tax cuts, and no govt regulations are the three answers the right-wing has for every problem you can think of. And btw, looking for solutions from anybody that works for AEI is like asking an arsonist to take over the fire department.
It’s amazing to me that at his level of disconnection from reality David Brooks has the mental capacity to dress himself in the morning. OTOH, maybe he doesn’t. Hmmm. That could explain one or two things….
A few little tidbits:
1) Thomas Friedman isn’t just an idiot, he’s ignorant too. But then he’s an ideologue and ideologues are professional morons.
2) The 1% can justify every single policy in their (financial) favor…but only if they lie their asses off.
3) Jeff Bezos has just made Amazon a CIA asset and himself The Bagman. In retrospect, it was predictable if not inevitable.
4)Exxon CEO and Frackmeister extraordinaire Rex Tillerson is a strong advocate, even a champion of fracking technology but only until it’s his backyard getting fracked. Then, not so much.
Rex Tillerson has joined a lawsuit to stop construction of a water tower near his $1.3 million estate on Dove Creek Road. That water would be used in fracking, a process to drill oil and gas.
Tillerson even appeared at a Bartonville Town Council meeting to speak against it.
The lawsuit claims the project would create a noise nuisance and traffic hazards.
Yah. Well. You know.
5) Budget hawks Alan Simpson and Erskine Bowles – two of Pete Petersen’s most reliable anti-SocSec thugs, set up an anti-deficit group. In the Irony of Ironies category, this group is now, um, broke. (scroll down)
While slamming Democrats, [American Postal Workers Union president Mark] Dimondstein reserved special condemnation for Issa, the Republicans’ leading voice on postal reform. Noting that Issa had proposed eliminating Saturday postal service as part of a bill undoing veterans’ pension cuts, the union president called the congressman “a pure enemy of the Postal Service…”
This is, of course, a half-truth. In fact, Issa has shown himself to be an enemy of all public services, including free parks and libraries. He has consistently advocated the privatization of all govt functions, proposing that even police and military be replaced by private security firms and fire depts be paid for by subscription. So it really isn’t fair for the postal workers’ union to single him out. Still, it’s typical of the Issa wing of the party (the wing which is, after all, in control of the party) to attach an attack on a public union to a bill cutting veterans’ benefits. Sort of a Pub’s Dream Two-fer.
An Issa “spokesperson” (you can never get these guys to reply personally to any communication from the hoi-polloi) replied to the union’s criticism this way:
This false claim about privatization is being pushed by entrenched special interests who oppose common sense and bipartisan reforms in both House and Senate postal modernization bills.
“Special interests” may be accurately considered as a reference to unions since Issa defines “public interest” as anything a corporation wants, but the interesting word here is “false”. Whenever Issa and his people have claimed that some unpleasant fact reported about this peppy little stooge of the powerful was “false”, all the evidence proved it was true, which in turns mean this flat denial likely proves it’s exactly what this is all about.
The most obvious question here is: did Staples contribute to Issa’s campaign and if so how much? But Salon’s reporter, Josh Eidelson never asks – let alone answers – that question. Instead he delves deeply into Dianne Feinstein’s husband’s connections to Staples (to no very great effect) because he’s suspicious of La F’s refusal to support the union’s preferred bill (offered by Vermont senator Bernie Sanders), a bill he doesn’t bother to explain.
It seems that even “progressives” can’t bring themselves to directly attack extreme corporate puppets like Issa, who has never had a thought a corporation didn’t put in his head.
PS I don’t have to explain why privatizing the Post Office is a really bad idea, do I?
So what else is new? Is there, that anyone can remember, any topic that Friedman can’t blather about with the bewilderingly incoherent and blazingly ignorant certainty of the true moron? No, I can’t think of one either.
As if to prove it, today Tosspot Tommy threw in his cent-and-a-half about Nelson Mandela. Seems Mandela’s best virtue was his “moral authority”, which, according to Tommy, he got only when he went against his base.
Much of the answer can be deduced from one scene in one movie about Mandela that I’ve written about before: “Invictus.” Just to remind, it tells the story of Mandela’s one and only term as president of South Africa, when he enlists the country’s famed rugby team, the Springboks, on a mission to win the 1995 Rugby World Cup and, through that, to start the healing of that apartheid-torn land. Before the games, though, the sports committee in the post-apartheid, newly black-led South Africa tells Mandela that it wants to change the name and colors of the almost all-white Springboks to something more reflective of black African identity. But Mandela refuses. He tells his black sports officials that an essential part of making whites feel at home in a black-led South Africa was not uprooting all their cherished symbols. “That is selfish thinking,” Mandela, played by Morgan Freeman, says in the movie. “It does not serve the nation.” Then speaking of South Africa’s whites, Mandela adds, “We have to surprise them with restraint and generosity.”
There are so many big leadership lessons in this short scene. The first is that one way leaders generate moral authority is by being willing to challenge their own base at times — and not just the other side. It is easy to lead by telling your own base what it wants to hear. It is easy to lead when you’re giving things away. It is easy to lead when things are going well.
Are you listening, Obama? There are the lessons of Mandela: Don’t listen to your base and bend over backwards to accommodate your opponents. That’s the path to “moral authority”.
Uh-huh. Awright, enuff about Lil Tommy Friedman and his latest right-wing anti-Obama talking point. Let’s spend some time on something really important:
When is Sleepy Hollow going to let Crane buy a new suit?
Reprinted from 12.24.06 – And it will continue to be printed until the O’Reilly-originated “War on Christmas” BS ends. There’s no antidote to lies except truth.
This would be the time, if ever there was one, to reflect on the meaning of Christmas, but before we can do that to any purpose we need to clear away some of the dead wood by exploding a couple of the myths that have built up around it since the holiday became popular in the late 19th century. Chief among these is the legend that Christmas is Christian, or even religious. Read the rest of this entry »
Just when you thought corporate greed couldn’t sink any lower, Coca-Cola, based in not-too-far-away Atlanta, takes it to a whole new level.
Coke [is] urging restaurateurs to stop offering plain old tap water to customers: “Every time your business fills a cup or glass with tap water, it pours potential profits down the drain.” Cap the Tap can put a stop to that, says Coke, “by teaching [your] crew members or waitstaff suggestive selling techniques to convert requests for tap water into orders for revenue-generating beverages.” Read the rest of this entry »
The Securities and Exchange Commission, which is the govt “watchdog” that’s supposed to bark at corporate wrong-doing, has a gift for us this Thanksgiving. Well, that is, not us exactly. More like for lobbyists.
As the Project on Government Oversight reports, the SEC is postponing a new ethics rule. That’s no big deal, right? Wrong.
As POGO notes, the move deliberately allows an untold number of senior SEC employees to evade standard employment regulations – more specifically, it allows them to leave the agency and immediately begin lobbying their old government colleagues on behalf of corporate clients.
Eliseo Medina, a long time union activist who used to march with Cesar Chavez, is in deep shit.
So there Mr. Medina was on Friday, now 67 years old, in a white tent just below the Capitol on the National Mall in the 11th day of a water-only fast he hopes will “touch the heart” of the House speaker, John A. Boehner of Ohio, and make him act on immigration.
Despite Boehner’s penchant for tears whenever he’s feeling sorry for himself -
which he does a lot – would you really want to bet your existence on his heart? On his ability to empathize with someone in trouble? Other than himself, of course.
I am loaded with admiration for Mr Medina’s courage and optimism, but his judgement may need a little work. You can’t shame the shameless.
The sterling-silver New York Times took a break from its long series of tear-stained stories covering the tragic consequences on the rich of our economic disintegration to notice – briefly – how destructive our attitudes toward the unemployed have become.
Ms. Barrington-Ward…was laid off from an administrative position at the Massachusetts Institute of Technology in 2008; she had earned about $50,000 that year. With the recession spurring employers to dump hundreds of thousands of workers a month and the unemployment rate climbing to the double digits, she found that no matter the number of résumés she sent out — she stopped counting in the thousands — she could not find work.
“I’ve been turned down from McDonald’s because I was told I was too articulate,” she says. “I got denied a job scrubbing toilets because I didn’t speak Spanish and turned away from a laundromat because I was ‘too pretty.’ I’ve also been told point-blank to my face, ‘We don’t hire the unemployed.’ And the two times I got real interest from a prospective employer, the credit check ended it immediately.”
Recently Ted “My hair has a life of its own and it’s better than mine” Cruz took a tentative step outside the Conservative Bubble inside which he has spent most of his life in order to address a group of *gasp!!* ordinary people.
It didn’t go too well. They…well, they laughed at him.
Speaking with Fox News’ Chris Wallace in front of a crowd for the Atlantic’s Washington Ideas Forum, Ted Cruz claimed he “didn’t want a shutdown” — a comment that was immediately greeted with laughter.
To be fair, the audience, apparently unclear on the concept of just how disconnected from reality a bubble-ized conservative is, thought he was self-referentially joking. He wasn’t.
Responding to laughter in the audience in response, Cruz said, “Now, folks here can disagree, but repeatedly, I voted to keep the government open.”
He believes it, too. He actually thinks that’s the way it went down. Conservative bubblers are nothing if not mentally flexible. As rubber bands.
Sorry, Ted. The real world doesn’t coddle you like the bubble does. Sometimes it laughs.
Three women in Virginia have started a consulting firm to help the Republican Party appeal to women voters, which seems like it will be a real challenge since the Republican Party is terrible on the issues that many women care about.
Actually, it’s not a “challenge” since the Pubs have no intention of addressing the problems of real women (as opposed to mechanical dolls like Sarah and La Coulter) and have made it clear they’re not going to let anybody make them. Which means that three very smart women have just found a way to collect a boodle from the RW gravy train without doing, well, anything, really. I mean -
When you have the chairwoman of the Republican Women’s Policy Committee laughing on Fox News about how women should have to shoulder the financial burden of maternity coverage alone because a man “has never delivered a baby,” you know the problem isn’t about messaging.
When you have a state attorney general wondering aloud why God hasn’t punished the United States for guaranteeing women their constitutional right to abortion care, you know the problem isn’t about messaging.
This is going to be a great gig. OK, so they’ll have to spend a certain amount of quality time pretending to listen to Pub morons like Cucinelli and “Women Get Diseases in Ditches” Gingrich so they can tell them what they want to hear but that’s a minor sacrifice when you consider the size of the check these bozos will gratefully hand over to hear women who aren’t hookers tell them they’re right and if they just say it differently women will flock to join The Team.
It’s brilliant. What could be an easier score than charging megabucks for telling men so stupid, so immature, so hopelessly ignorant that fairy tales are true?
Chicken contaminated with chicken manure is one likely result to come from the ag department’s dangerous and ridiculous determination to privatize poultry inspection in some 200 processing plants across the country. Currently, government inspectors – who’re professionally-trained in food safety – are stationed along the processing lines in the factory operations of such giants as Tyson Foods. They examine the birds for diseases and visible defects, including – yes – contamination by feces.
But the Obamacans have a “modernization” plan to remove these skilled, independent inspectors and let corporations police their own lines with untrained company hirelings. In addition, the privatization scheme would allow the poultry plants to speed up their lines to an absurd 175-birds-per-minute!
I said almost unbelievable. If I hadn’t, years ago, given up on Obama proving to be something other than a tame corporate shill, this would feel like a betrayal. As it is, I just sighed, “Of course.”
More of the Myth and one of the reasons corporate-owned Pubs spent so much spreading it around. “Govt is bad, corporations can do a better job policing themselves if we just leave them alone” is the kind of thinking that certainly makes it easier for corporations to dump govt inspections (after having paid the appropriate bribes to the appropriate officials and pols, of course), which means, of course, there will be no inspections at all, thus no possibility that profits will be lost due to nasty govt refusing to let them sell – at full price, mind you – spoiled food or food full of, you know, poisons and nuclear waste and shit and what not. Of course.
Apparently it isn’t enough for the Democrats to let agrocorps make our food unsafe, now they have to let them make it lethal. I hope the Dems are getting a good price for poisoning us. Because that’s what’s important here.
Obviously this is less important than it might at first appear.
Among the ostensibly “non-essential” services on hold during the government shutdown is the Food and Drug Administration’s food inspection program. Within the country, as the Huffington Post points out, that means as many as 80 food production facilities each day may be going uninspected (although an FDA spokesman clarified that an unclear portion of those will be carried out by state agriculture and public health departments).
A lot of well-meaning but thoughtless people have been supporting the modern GOP because they believed, despite all evidence to the contrary, in the right-wing myth of corporate efficiency and competence. What all these people refused to acknowledge was that the reality beneath the appearance of corporate success had far less to do with competence than greed, far less to do with efficiency than ruthlessness.
Well they may still be in denial but if they’re paying attention at all they will have realized that we are seeing corporate-style governing this week in the extortion and blackmail the Republican Congress has loosed on the nation in a desperate attempt to get its own way. These are time-honored corporate strategies used by disparate corpos from Disney to IBM to Microsoft to Wal-mart to McDonald’s. Extortion, blackmail, and bribery are the three key components of American corporate success.
So it was no surprise when Robert Reich let it slip in his blog that this govt shutdown was planned and paid for by…tah dah!…the corporate BigWigs of th 0.1%.
The bullies are a faction inside the Republican Party – extremists who are threatening more reasonable Republicans with primary challenges if they don’t go along.
And where are the Tea Party extremists getting their dough? From even bigger bullies – a handful of hugely wealthy Americans who are sinking hundreds of millions of dollars into this extortion racket.
They include David and Charles Koch (and their front group, “Americans for Prosperity’); Peter Thiel, leverage-buyout specialist John Childs, investor Howie Rich, Stephen Jackson of the Stevens Group, and executives of JPMorgan and Goldman Sachs, (all behind the “Club for Growth”); and Crow Holdings’ Harlan Crow, shipping magnate Richard Uihlein, and investment banker Foster Friess; executives of MetLife and Philip Morris, and foundations controlled by the Scaife family (all bankrolling “FreedomWorks.”)
Their game plan is to not just to take over the Republican Party. It’s to take over America.
These are the standard tactics of a hostile takeover: threats and intimidation. Do what we want or we’ll burn down the store. I’d say the gloves are off. They’re not even pretending anymore.
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. Read the rest of this entry »