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MSNBC’s left leaning prime time shows have become must see tv for me each night for the past 3 or 4 years. Chris Matthews on Hardball, Chris Hayes on All In, and Rachel Maddow host of Maddow Blog. Of course the network has never been perfect but they distinguished themselves from other cable news networks by offering a broad range of views and it was the only cable news network to have more than one minority host. The channel’s minority hosts were Al Sharpton, Joy Ann Reid, Melissa Harris Perry, Karen Finney, Touré, Alex Wagner, and Jose Diaz-Balart. It was pretty impressive to find that kind of diversity on cable news. The network also had a lot of minority contributors like Jonathan Capehart, Eugene Robinson, and Michael Steele (just to name a few). All of these people brought a unique intelligent perspective that was lacking on the other networks. Almost a year ago I started to see signs that the network wanted to downplay the progressive perspective that made the network enjoyable for liberals like me. Hardball with Chris Matthews decided to get behind GOP presidential candidate Rand Paul and predicted Rand would be the republican nominee for 2016. Chris heaped praise upon Rand and went after the other GOP hopefuls with tough but fair criticism. I didn’t understand this prediction and I thought it was very strange for a progressive network to give a conservative presidential candidate great press. Then after the Ferguson riots occurred the network covered some other similar situations where a police officer shot and killed an unarmed African American.
Then I noticed that the network stopped covering “black lives matters” protest and did not cover police shootings at all after a point. That’s when I really started paying attention because that change was very noticeable. Then came the firing and demotions of all of the network’s minority hosts. Joy Reid’s show started to pickup viewers even though they gave her a terrible time slot (3pm). I loved her show and she was a complete pro. She made it look easy and that isn’t an easy thing to do. Not too long after giving her a show, they abruptly canceled it and never really gave a coherent reason for the cancellation. She still had a contract with the network so they demoted her to “paid contributor” (aka pundit). Then Karen’s show disappeared. The show Touré hosted got canceled. Alex Wagner got canceled, Jose Diaz-Blart’s show disappeared with no warning or explanation, and Al Sharpton’s daily show at 6pm got canceled, then brought back once a week on Sundays, but not every Sunday (weird right?). The impressive roster of minority contributors slowly began to shrink as well.
Then they came after Melissa Harris Perry and her amazing Sunday show. At first they didn’t cancel her show. They just didn’t put it on the schedule at all for a long time until she sent them an email voicing her frustration with the executives
and programing director snubbing her and not giving her an answer as to when they were going to put her show back in the lineup. MSNBC knew she wasn’t going to go quietly so they told her she could get her show back for a few weeks but she couldn’t use any of her team, she couldn’t decided what to cover, and the network said they will pick the show’s panel. Melissa Harris Perry has a masters degree in political science, she’s a professor at Wake Forrest and has taught political science at Princeton and Tulane University. Obviously she knows a great deal about politics and has hosted a successful show for years. To ignore her talent and expertise and demote her to “news reader” is a huge insult. She turned them down and then things got interesting (read more about this at the bottom of this post).
All of those events have upset every progressive viewer who supported the network and looked to them for commentary on a daily basis. Melissa was the last minority host to get screwed over by MSNBC. Obviously the network has decided that they no longer want
minority viewers, and have set a course to be more like Fox News. Hardball with Chris Matthews is almost unwatchable now. He constantly defends Donald Trump. After two African American protesters were physically assaulted, spat upon, and called a slue of racial slurs, Chris Matthews said the Trump campaign look like it was “full of joy” and instead of calling Trump a racist, Chris calls him a nationalist who loves his country. Chris has also added a new contributor that he likes to book over and over again, and her name is Ann Coulter. So they get rid of the minorities and replace them with racist, xenophobic, homophobic, Islamophobic far right wing nut Ann Coulter. Yesterday on Hardball she said America needs to close the border before “Latin American rape culture” comes over to the United States. This is the kind of ignorance that she spouts every chance she gets, so I wasn’t surprised she said that. But I was absolutely shocked at Chris’s reaction. He smiled and almost chuckled and didn’t challenge Ann’s racist statement at all. He seemed to enjoy it.
I don’t know why MSNBC decided to insult the entire African American community and marginalize their only Latino host, but it is clear that they no longer care. Now they invite white pundits to come on and explain the “black vote” just like their idols Fox News. I could list hundreds of incidents like the few I’ve explained in this post but to sum all of them up with one sentence, I’d say “MSNBC has created the 2016 version of Jim Crow where white men have the only opinions they’re interested in, and blacks need not apply”.
Melissa Harris Perry’s letter to her show contributors:
Spoken word artist Crystal Valentine performs a very emotionally charged poem titled “Black Privilege” in a poetry slam competition. One of the most moving lines in her poem tackled the issue of police brutality against black men, and the scourge of gun violence taking way too many young promising lives in urban communities. She says “Black privilege is me having already memorized my nephew’s eulogy, my brother’s eulogy, my father’s eulogy, my unconceived child’s eulogy. Black privilege is me thinking my sister’s name is safe from that list.” Valentine is one of six performing poets who represented NYU at the poetry slam this year. Her team ended up winning which was no surprise to anyone who listened to her performance.
Ms Valentine makes me proud to be part of a resilient culture who takes oppression and intolerance and turns it into extraordinary talent and beautiful artistry. If you’re not moved by her amazing 3 minute video clip, you should contact a doctor immediately because something is seriously wrong with you. She poured her heart out on that stage layering vulnerability on top of confidence on top of self critical introspection. There aren’t many people who can touch your soul with just a few words. That’s power. That’s talent. That’s the power of blackness.
Conservative media and the GOP crowned their newest hero over this past week, and his name is Cliven Bundy. Mr Bundy is a Nevada rancher who had a very tense armed standoff with government officials trying to collect money he rightfully owed to the US government for 20 years worth of grazing fees that he refused to pay. Fox News and every single conservative media outlet rushed to Mr Bundy’s side very quickly because they saw an opportunity to exploit the situation and feed it to their base as big bad Obama government persecuting a hard working man who’s done nothing wrong. Casting Mr Bundy as a “maker” instead of a “taker”… which is ironic because Mr Bundy is so obviously a “taker” but I’ll explain that a little later in my post. First let’s go over the facts about the situation and the man at the center of it.
1. Mr. Bundy has been grazing his cattle on government owned land for 20 years without paying the proper fees that ALL ranchers have to pay. Accumulating for the past 20 years these fees add up to approximately $1 million. When normal American’s duck taxes and refuse to pay their bills, they get liens, repossessions, court judgments, and property seized. If a bank repossess someone’s home and the occupant refuses to leave, the bank will show up with an armed Sheriff and they will drag you out and arrest you for not complying.
2. Instead of handling this tax/fee dispute in court, Mr Bundy goes on Fox News and makes a call for armed anti-government militia men to come to his ranch with their guns to help him in an armed confrontation with the Bureau of Land Management so he can continue to steal from the government with no consequences.
3. When the government officials from the Bureau of Land Management came to seise Mr Bundy’s cattle for the 20 years of nonpayment and trespassing on government owned land they were met with heavily armed militiamen who watched Fox News and listened to Sean Hannity’s and Mr Bundy’s call for assistance. They had snipers pointing sniper rifles directly at law enforcement. Everyone who came to Bundy’s ranch had guns pointing at law enforcement… and here’s the unbelievable part, NO ONE GOT ARRESTED. Not one person was put in handcuffs.
4. Mr Bundy makes easily confirmable lies in numerous interviews but all of conservative media decided to ignore these warning signs that this man is dishonest and is misrepresenting himself and his situation. One of the biggest lies was about how long his family owned the ranch. He told Fox and all the others that his family has been on that land since the 1800’s, when county records clearly state that his family only purchased the land sometime in the 1980’s.
5. Mr Bundy says in an interview that he doesn’t recognize the authority of the United States government. Then he holds a victory rally and brings a state sheriff on stage to berate him for 20 minutes while the crowd cheers him on. He tells the sheriff and every other county sheriff in the country that they need to “disarm government bureaucrats” and if they couldn’t do the job then the citizens need to take-up arms against them just like he did. This was his third public on air call to violence… armed violence against law enforcement. The sheriff on stage listened to all of this and did nothing.
After going over the 5 factual points I’ve made, please tell me how anyone could see this man as a hero. Everything he’s done is supposed to be the stuff that conservatives are against. He doesn’t pay his debts. He does not follow the law. He shows contempt for law enforcement. He lies very easily. He wants the government to provide free grazing land for his cattle. He makes anti-American statements and says he does not consider himself as part of America. All of this and somehow conservative media loved this man. Can you imagine if a black man went on television calling for armed assistance to settle a dispute with the government? If a group of black men pointed guns and sniper rifles at law enforcement? Everyone knows exactly what would happen if Bundy was black.
Then Mr Bundy does an interview with The New York Times and decides to share his views on “the Negro”. I won’t paraphrase because you need to read his entire statement:
“I want to tell you one more thing I know about the Negro. I recall driving past a public-housing project in North Las Vegas, and in front of that government house the door was usually open and the older people and the kids — and there is always at least a half a dozen people sitting on the porch — they didn’t have nothing to do. They didn’t have nothing for their kids to do. They didn’t have nothing for their young girls to do. And because they were basically on government subsidy, so now what do they do? They abort their young children, they put their young men in jail, because they never learned how to pick cotton. And I’ve often wondered, are they better off as slaves, picking cotton and having a family life and doing things, or are they better off under government subsidy? They didn’t get no more freedom. They got less freedom.” – Cliven Bundy **video of him saying all of this is at the bottom of this page**
Yes, that was a direct quote. Mr Bundy’s comments are not only uninformed and blatantly racist… they are horrible, they are vile, they are disgusting, they are ignorant, moronic, vulgar, crass, imbecilic, dumb, idiotic and completely indefensible. What sane person with a working brain wonders if “the negro” was happier being a slave? Who thinks like that? And he has the nerve to talk about black people being on government assistance when he’s been receiving government subsidized grazing fees for 20 years and even with the huge government subsidies that only charges him 25% of the fair market price for grazing cattle, he can’t even pay that. I almost can’t blame him for thinking that black people are all on welfare, all living in government housing, all from single parent homes, all unemployed or in jail. He believes this because Fox News, conservative pundits, conservative media, Tea Party & GOP legislators are constantly pushing those false racist views. That’s why they have embraced people like Bundy over and over again. Remember Ted Nugent? He’s the no talent has-been “rockstar” that the Tea Party and conservative media embrased even after making racist and violent comments about the president. He called President Obama a “subhuman mongrel” in an interview. After Nugent learned that Obama won the election he said “Pimps whores & welfare brats & their soulless supporters have a president to destroy America.” Nugent told a CNN reporter that either Americans can vote Obama out of office or he can suck on my machine gun. Even after making these idiotic comments and violent threats republican congressman Steve Stockman invited Ted to attend the President’s State of the Union address as his guest. Ted even campaigned for Texas GOP gubernatorial candidate Greg Abbott. You are the company you keep.
Remember the Duck Dynasty guy? Phil Robertson made some really stupid racist remarks in an interview saying that black people were happy and singing picking cotton during segregation until the government came along with civil rights and gave all blacks welfare. After making those blatantly racist comments conservative media, the Tea Party, and the GOP all rallied around him and he became their hero. Again, you are the company you keep.
Remember George Zimmerman? He shoots and kills an unarmed teen after racially profiling him. Fox and conservative media rallied around Zimmerman… especially Hannity. A man that killed an unarmed teen became a hero to them. Then after the trial was over and he got acquitted Fox and conservative media was shocked and surprised when Zimmerman’s ex wife had to call 911 because he threatened her and her dad with a loaded gun. Since the Trayvon trial Mr Zimmerman has had 4 different incidents with law enforcement. Again, you are the company you keep.
I’m pointing out Ted Nugent, George Zimmerman, and Phil Robertson because it’s becoming a pattern for conservatives to hero worship these racist assholes. When it happens over and over again you can’t ignore it or say those are coincidental isolated incidents. The racism has become a very visible part of the conservative movement. Cliven Bundy is just the latest in a series that will keep repeating itself. Next month I’ll be blogging about the new conservative hero that turns out to be racist and all of conservative media will be shocked and surprised again… and again… and again. It’s sad that this keeps happening in 2014. I have friends who are republican and I know this kind of racialized politics makes them sick. I’m sure there are other republicans who are just like them but their party has been hijacked by the extremist and co opted by a huge billion dollar money making conservative media machine. Hannity, Limbaugh, and Beck are destroying the credibility and electability of real conservative legislators who do not agree with the nuts, but feel they have to go along with it to stay in office. That’s good news for democrats, but bad news for anyone trying to legislate and govern. Conservative media keeps talking about a “post-racial” America, while proving over and over again we are far far from it.
Before i begin this blog post i feel i need to preface it with some important factors to keep in mind while reading it. I am a very proud and vocal member of the Democratic party and even though I’m about to share some harsh critiques about my party and some of its representatives, I feel even at their worst they are still miles ahead of any republican at their best. Now, i felt I had to say that because it was needed to put things in the proper context.
The country-wide debate of New York’s “Stop and Frisk” policy that unfairly targets African American and Latino males has uncovered something surprising about my fellow liberals. A few weeks ago I wrote a blog about the Trayvon Martin shooting and racial profiling titled “No Justice For Trayvon”. In that blog I highlighted how some whites perceptions of young African American males are based on a subconscious irrational fear that makes them see those males as potential criminals. This is true for both conservative and liberal whites although that perception may be slightly more common among conservatives. After a court ruled that NY’s “Stop and Frisk” policy was unconstitutional and a violation of American civil rights it sparked a huge national debate about the ruling and NY mayor Michael Bloomberg’s defense of the program. Those who supported the policy pointed to the low crime rate in the city which they attributed to Stop and Frisk. To me and a lot of African Americans it sounded like they were saying it’s ok to violate a young black male’s civil rights if it makes whites feel less fearful. That was a huge insult unto itself but what came after that was even more insulting. They tried to spin it in the media by saying the policy is in place to protect African American’s living in poor neighborhoods. African American’s translated this to mean they were racially profiling and violating our rights for our own good. Like a parent punishing a petulant child. To me that insult was beyond disgusting because segregationist used the exact same language in the 1950’s to defend Jim Crow. I felt it necessary to write this blog because there were some very important points that were never articulated in the media and among pundits. Watching panel discussions on MSNBC and CNN became tortuous for me. I found myself screaming my points to the tv like they could hear me. Since I’m not a cable tv news political pundit or host, my blog will have to suffice (lol).
The first and most important point I want to make is about those who think Stop and Frisk is necessary. In order to support stop and frisk you have to believe that race determines behavior. How else can you believe that stopping and searching African American’s and Latino’s almost exclusively is acceptable and necessary to prevent crime. This is a hard truth but it needs to be addressed so we can fix it and move on. I’m sure stop and frisk supporters do not want to ask themselves that question. Especially liberals and cable news pundits like those on MSNBC. Don’t get me wrong I love watching MSNBC because I like their reporting of political news and I’ve come to respect the on-air talent. One of my favorites is Chris Matthews the host of Hardball. He’s a moderate democrat with an astute political mind. His views usually mirror my own, but his coverage and views of Stop and Frisk has been very disappointing. Watching him interview pundits has exposed his support for the policy. Time after time he’s expressed fear of New York returning to the violent city it was in the 1970’s and 80’s. When one of his guest presented the idea of stopping more than just blacks and Latino’s Chris likened it to searching grandma at the airport for explosives. When Michael Smirconish guest hosted Chris’s Hardball he was a lot more vocal in his support for the policy. I naively thought progressives would see this Stop and Frisk policy for what it was. Racial profiling, unconstitutional, a severe violation of civil rights, a throw-back to Jim Crow, and just plain wrong. If equality, your personal ethics, and basic human fairness weren’t enough to convince you that this law is racist and unjust, take a look at the stats and ask yourself is this an effective use of police time and resources. According to a study done by the Center For Constitutional Rights during the year 2011 NYPD officers stopped and frisked a total of 636,288 people. Out of those 636,288 stops, 574,483 were African American and Latino. That’s a shocking 87%. Out of those 574,483 minorities only 2% were found to have contraband. TWO PERCENT!!!!!! Under any other circumstances this program would have been rejected years ago due to it’s ineffectiveness.
When you take an objective look at the overwhelming evidence against Stop and Frisk you have to ask yourself why is mayor Bloomberg fighting so hard to keep this in place and why are some white liberals like Chris Matthews and Michael Smirconish vocally supporting the policy or at the very least why aren’t they vocally advocating for its demise. I think the answer can be found in my Trayvon Martin blog titled “No Justice For Trayvon”. They see all young black males as potential criminals, and Stop and Frisk placates this irrational fear. I’m not saying these people are intentional racist. I believe they’ve been conditioned to think about young black males in that way. Their subconscious has made this connection and every crime committed by a young black male reinforces that belief. It’s very disappointing to see so many of my fellow democrats quietly supporting this vile version of institutionalized racism knowing it dehumanizes an entire race of people. Extremely disappointing. Unfortunately this race behavior linkage is perpetuated by the language we use when talking about inner city crime and violence. When we use terms like “the black community” it lumps all blacks together. Even the president has made this mistake. He said we need to address the crime and violence problem within the black community. But this problem mainly exist in the inner city. So instead of lumping all blacks together, he should have said we need to address the crime and violence happening in the inner city. I do not live in the inner city and I have never been involved in any crime. I’m a college educated law abiding citizen who lives on the coast of North Carolina. I have absolutely nothing in common with a violent gang member hundreds of miles away in Detroit. But since we share the same skin color I’m treated like a suspected criminal and I’m supposed to accept that. It’s ridiculous and extremely frustrating.
I’d like to share one more observation that no one else has brought up. The Stop and Frisk policy was built on a supreme court ruling that relaxed the rules for search and seizure when an officer believes a suspect may have a gun. Before this ruling law enforcement could not stop and search random citizens without a clear and articulatable reason. But Bloomberg found a way around the 4th amendment by using that supreme court case. He argued that NY police could stop and search anyone they wanted to and justify it by saying they thought the person had a firearm. My question is why aren’t the NRA (National Rifle Association) out lobbing to end Stop and Frisk? It goes against the very rights they say they are protecting. The right to own a firearm and the right to carry a firearm without being searched by police hoping to find and confiscate a legally owned firearm. The lack of action from their organization shows an obvious racial prejudice in the way they choose issues to speak out against. I sent this question to the head of the NRA but got no response in return. The lack of response makes me think my suspicions are valid.
As a result of discriminatory policing practices like stop and frisk, New Yorkers feel as if their communities are under siege. To learn more about the human impact of these practices, visit www.stopandfrisk.org.
A few weeks after I published this blog post I got the chance to ask MSNBC show host Chris Matthews where he stands on Stop and Frisk. In my blog post I stated that he seemed to support Stop and Frisk. It was very easy to draw this conclusion because he never condemned the policy and never once called it unconstitutional. Instead he would share his fear of New York’s crime rate returning to the very high levels the city had in the 1970’s and 1980’s. Here’s a link to read his response: http://sociallyurban.com/reply-headlines/chris-matthews-response/
Russian President Vladimir Putin presented his case for caution in Syria directly to the American people. Putin wrote an op-ed for Thursday’s New York Times that went live online Wednesday night. In the article he titled “A Plea for Caution From Russia” Putin warned that a potential strike by the United States in Syria could unleash a new wave of terrorism, increase violence and further destabilize the Middle East and North Africa. He goes on to list a number of other possible negative outcomes resulting from a US missile attack, but everything he wrote in this piece has already been said. There was absolutely no new information in this article at all. After I finished reading his list of helpful warnings, to me the whole thing made him look like a slick opportunist trying to snub the president while taking advantage of America’s current foreign relations dilemma knowing that our president is in a tough situation domestically. Although Putin makes a few good points in his op-ed and on the surface he may seem sincerely concerned, we still must remember who this man is, and what he is capable of. Putin is a former KGB thug who behaves more like a dictator than an elected president. He talks about respecting international law and norms but rarely does this himself.
Remember the name Paul Klebnikov? He was an American journalist writing for Forbes Magazine. Because of his knowledge about Russian business Forbes reassigned him to Moscow to head a Russian version of Forbes. While he held that position he published a number of scathing articles about Putin and other Russian billionaires and soon after started to receive death threats. After a year in his new position he was found murdered and authorities said it looked like a professional hit. President Bush appealed directly to Vladimir Putin for help in finding those responsible and Putin refused. That murder was never solved and after that there were no more scathing articles written in Russia about Putin. So even if President Obama wanted to write a response op-ed to be published in Russia, he would have a very hard time finding a publication to publish it. Things like this occur in Russia every day but Putin sits on his high horse to lecture us Americans about what’s right and just.
Putin’s op-ed also makes a case for nonintervention when it comes to foreign governments. This is almost laughable coming from him because he refused to extradite NSA hacker Edward Snowden (who stole US government secrets) so he could face trial by the American Justice System. This does not sound like a man who wants to help Americans out of the kindness of his heart. I’m not even going to get into the atrocities Putin has bestowed upon his neighboring country of Chechnya and their ongoing contentious sometimes violent relationships with Latvia, Lithuania. And I don’t remember Mr. Putin and his government calling on the UN security council in 2008, when they decided to intervene in Georgia. The intentions and motivations of this stubby 3ft little man is to embarrass our president and make us look like war hungry aggressors. You don’t write a piece like this if diplomacy is what you’re seeking. Granted President Obama’s perceived indecisiveness opened the door rather wide for foreign critique but when it comes from someone like Putin the hypocrisy is inescapable.
There was one point in Putin’s op-ed that I did agree with, it was the part about “American Exceptionalism”. Every time former President Bush would bring this up in a speech or press conference I couldn’t help but roll my eyes. When President Obama said it in his address to the nation last night it made me cringe. Coming from an African American president who’s witnessed the dangers of elevating one race over another to justify inequality, he should know better. No matter who you are or where you were born, we were all created equal in the eyes of God.
My position on Syria has not changed or wavered one bit. I think it’s a mistake for us to bomb them for using chemical weapons. Diplomacy diplomacy diplomacy, we have to give it a chance. Launching missiles to bomb a country who does not pose an immediate threat to our country is absolutely positively the wrong thing to do. I can sympathize with the president’s position and I understand why he feels so strongly about punishing Syria for gassing all of those children and innocent bystanders. I’ve seen the video footage and I agree that no human should be able to do that without consequences, but we must exhaust every possible avenue before we try to solve it with our military. I want to see the senator Barack Obama from ten years ago when he was anti-war and voting no on the war in Iraq. Where did that guy go? When you or I watch the news and see horrible things going on around the world there’s not much we as average citizens can do about it. But when you’re the president of the most powerful nation on earth and you see senseless suffering, I’m sure that need to do something is even stronger because you have the power to do something. That moral obligation weighs heavy on every US president. But there are limits to American power. The rest of the world understands this… we as proud American citizens are slowly realizing this as well.
As surely as rape is about power, not sex, income inequality is about power, not money. Forcing women to have babies against their will is about power, not babies. Forcing women to have babies even if it endangers the mother is about absolute power. Controlling who can vote and who cannot is about power, not political ideals. And forcing hungry people to starve is about about power, not tax dollars. Perhaps that was the allure and the ongoing attraction from racists regarding African Americans. Whites had power, and even the most down-trodden, poor white racist in 1860 “thought” he was better than the best black man. The KKK continued this abomination for power, nothing else. Power over someone else…to do as you please, when you please, regardless of the pain it causes someone else. But for today at least, I’ll stick to the economic aspect of income inequality if for no other reason but to keep my blood from boiling over at the inane stupidity, hatred and fear that drives the Tbagger faithful to be blind to the fact that a handful of the economic elite are using them as human shields in the same way cowardly dictators use civilians in times of war. The Koch Brothers and ALEC already have more money than they could ever spend in ten lifetimes, but what they want is power, because if you can buy anything you want material things lose their allure and the only thrill left is obtaining ever more power. They are economic terrorists using the hatred and a few choice causes that they could actually care less about (see 2nd Amendment “rights”) to effectuate their obsession with power. A new Census Bureau report released recently showed that since 2009 economic gains have accumulated to only the top 5 percent of households in the U.S.; the other 95 percent have gained virtually nothing; poverty remains high and income inequality has worsened. Yet libertarians still don’t understand that they’re next, or if they do, they simply don’t see light through that haze of hate that clouds their judgement and magnifies their inability to see the big picture. So, the meaningful question remains, does inequality matter in the overall economics of the United States or is it simply another liberal whining point? Is our desire for equality good economics or does it stand in the way of creativity, hard work and overall economic rewards for the entire population? Economists have debated, written and proselytized about this for more than 200 years. Adam Smith, that premier proponent of the free market meme, saw the political danger of inequality, and expressed it succinctly: “Wealth is power, as Mr. Hobbes says.” John Maynard Keynes, the bane of every libertarian’s xenophobic existence, wrote of the Victorian era: “It was precisely the inequality of the distribution of wealth which made possible those vast accumulations of fixed wealth and of capital improvements which distinguished that age from all others.” Even Thomas Jefferson, the darling of so-called libertarians (often referred to as“Lazy Marxists”)and Tea Party “Patriots” alike, had this to say regarding income inequality: “Whenever there are in any country uncultivated lands and unemployed poor, it is clear that the laws of property have been so far extended as to violate natural right. If for the encouragement of industry we allow it to be appropriated, we must take care that other employment be provided to those excluded from the appropriation. If we do not, the fundamental right to labor the earth returns to the unemployed. It is too soon yet in our country to say that every man who cannot find employment, but who can find uncultivated land, shall be at liberty to cultivate it, paying a moderate rent. But it is not too soon to provide by every possible means that as few as possible shall be without a little portion of land. The small landholders are the most precious part of a state.” On the other hand, the Austrian economist Joseph Schumpeter argued that inequality is the force behind technical advance. According to Schumpeter, progress is a lottery. And if the prizes are really big, more people will try to win them. Of course, many will try and fail, but many new advances will be the result. So tell me succinctly, so that I can understand, “Why have there been no libertarian countries…..EVER?” The Effects of Increasing Inequality faded during most of the 20th century, to Schumpeter’s extreme discomfort. But by 1958, even John Kenneth Galbraith could write, “few things are more evident in modern social history than the decline of interest in inequality as an economic issue.” In the 1980s and 1990s, though, inequality shot up and renewed interest in the condition revitalized. The political atmosphere leading up to the 2008 Bush Economic Meltdown was the result of deregulation, foolish unfunded wars, the assumption that the banking industry could regulate itself–despite the catastrophic failures of Enron, WorldCom, The Savings and Loan meltdown, and countless other indicators that business could NOT regulate itself any better than Congress can regulate itself–and rising income inequality causing the debate and enmity to escalate. Of course, market outcomes have always been unequal. And to liberals’ irritation, inequality is intensified in good times. In the late 1990s, under President Bill Clinton, the U.S. had four years of full employment, and income inequality hit levels not seen since 1929. The reason is simple: Inequality is driven mainly by capital gains–essentially, the income derived from owning something rather than producing something–stock options and the proceeds of venture capital and initial public offerings, all of which exploded during the information-technology boom. But do more unequal countries, generally, work better? In Europe, “labor market flexibility” has been the mantra of conservative reformers for years. According to them, skilled workers were paid too little and unskilled workers too much. The hypothetical tonic was to weaken unions, cut pensions and reduce state benefits for working people. Recently Greece, Portugal, Ireland, Italy and Spain carried out such “reforms.” To the conservatives dismay and denial, competitiveness didn’t return and unemployment rose. Here are two facts:
- First, rich countries are usually more equal than poor ones. For a country to be opulent and technically developed, it must — by definition — have a large and thriving middle class.
- Second, inequality and unemployment rise and fall together. If pay gaps are outsized, people will quit low-paying jobs (on farms, for example) and move to factory towns (or technology centers) where the jobs are better — but also more scarce. Those who can’t get the good jobs stay unemployed.
It’s really fairly pretty simple stuff. Also, if wage laws discourage low pay, then businesses innovate more rapidly and productivity increases. Decades ago the Scandinavians grasped this relationship, and since then, those countries have become some of the richest on earth. In short, economics is analogous to human’s blood sugar levels. There’s a healthy range. Within that range, lower is better but too low can be dangerous as well and zero puts you in the morgue with a toe tag as your only accouterment. When inequality rises, the symptoms aren’t necessarily immediate but they are just a deadly. It may not notice it until your brain—or the economy–panics; credit booms feel great. But rising inequality is a sign of a crisis on the horizon. Ignore it at your own, as well as those directly affected, peril. We saw this dynamic in 1930, in 2000 and again in 2008. You can’t eliminate inequality, and we don’t want to. But it should be kept within the “safe” range for everyone’s benefit. The Role of Minimum Wages on the Overall Economy I’ve established that on one hand, we want the lure of large rewards to help drive innovation through investment and entrepreneurial enticement. On the other hand, we need a stable and secure middle class. Are they mutually exclusive or can we have our pie and eat it too? Would raising the minimum hourly wage — let’s say to $12– threaten innovation? Of course it wouldn’t. More money in the middle class means more goods being purchased and less government assistance for those out of work. Neither would a more generous Social Security system, easier terms on student loans or a vigorous public jobs program. Quite the opposite has been proven time and time again. The lure of big rewards isn’t diminished by having to pay a little more in taxes. Realistically, it’s as significant as a gnat on a boar’s butt. Another key, though, is that innovation’s big rewards not fund family empires. The second and third generations never replicate the genius of the first(see Wal-Mart’s stark deterioration after the passing of Sam Walton). Instead, the descendants go into politics, or become speculators or tax evaders. An effective estate-and-gift tax works to prevent this. With a high rate and a generous exemption or even a full deduction for qualified altruism, those who have won great fortunes will give most of them away to promote themselves or their cause de jeur. We can stomach inequality, in other words, as long as we meet two conditions.
- First, there must be a strong, stable foundation for middle-class life with protection from poverty to keep profits and money circulating rather than stagnating in the hands of the few.
- Second, great fortunes can pile up but they must have an avenue to be circulated.
In a democracy, no one should rule by inherited wealth — or it’s really not a democracy at all is it?. – Harvey Gold
When will conservatives stop listening to conservative media (Fox News & Limbaugh) and conservative politicians? How many times do they have to be wrong before their base starts to question their credibility? I know most liberals are well aware of the many conservative media lies that show up frequently in their reporting, but for those who watch conservative media exclusively I’m not so sure they know when they are being lied to. In recent history Fox News and their pundits have been proven wrong on a number of issues, and proven wrong in a big public way. First let’s start with the 2012 presidential election. All of conservative media which includes Fox, bloggers, columnist, radio personalities, religious leaders etc told their audience over and over again that Mitt Romney was going to win in a huge landslide. Even though every single poll projected President Obama as the winner. They duped their audience into ignoring the polls by telling them that all the polls were rigged by the liberal media to favor President Obama. Then on election night Obama wins with a very comfortable lead and Fox’s viewers were in shock because they all had their trust in a news network that was supposed to be “fair and balanced” as their slogan proclaims. You’d think a gaff that big would at least warrant some kind of apology… but surprisingly none were offered. For several months leading up to the election all of conservative media trotted out a number of big company ceo’s from across the nation to warn voters of the grave consequences that awaited them if President Obama won reelection. All of the ceo’s said the stock market would take a huge dive, they would have to lay off thousands of employees, they would have to close plants, interest rates would skyrocket, etc etc etc. These guys weren’t saying these things may happen, they were saying emphatically these things will happen. Now that we’re almost one year into President Obama’s second term we saw none of those doom and gloom predictions materialize. In fact quite the opposite. The stock market is surging at an all time high. Company’s are reporting record breaking profits. Unemployment has seen a slow but steady decline, but still no apology from any of those who made the misleading comments… not even an explanation as to why they got things wrong. I’m not even going to get into the many many many lies they’ve reported about Obamacare. For that I’d need at least 3 or 4 blog entries to properly address it. Fox has a habit of reporting misinformation to manipulate their viewers and sadly they continue to do this.
Watching the way conservative media has covered the murder of 17 year old Trayvon Martin by George Zimmerman has been an eye opening experience for me. I have never seen the murderer of a teenager get embraced by a political party, a television network, and major radio personalities before. George Zimmerman was hailed as a hero to these sick minds. The Trayvon Martin shooting brought out the absolute worst in conservative media. Normally they would dance around race and use euphemisms and code words to keep plausible deniability just in case someone tried to call them out on it. But during the Zimmerman trial they threw caution to the wind and flew their confederate flag high. Bill O’Riley, Sean Hannity, and Rush Limbaugh all warned their viewers that if Zimmerman got acquitted African American’s would riot. They all reported this over and over again for a whole week. But hearing them say that made me realize they actually believe the racist crap they report. They believe every black man is a suspect and should be treated as such. They saw the whole black community in the same way that George Zimmerman saw Trayvon Martin… as a criminal. I knew there weren’t going to be any riots, and so did every other black person, but those who buy into ugly racist stereotypes talked about it like it was a forgone conclusion. Then the verdict came and surprise surprise NO RIOTS. There were plenty of civil protest but no riots. You’d think after being wrong about that they would stop warning their audience about scary black riots… right? No, of course that didn’t stop them. Truth and facts never gets in the way of reporting at Fox News. Over the weekend Reverend Al Sharpton and the parents of Trayvon organized rally’s in major cities all over the country. Sean Hannity again predicted violence and anti-white demonstrations. He even went as far as to warn his audience to expect a race riot if these Trayvon rallies continue. And again he was proven wrong. Thousands of black and white people gathered together all over the country for rallies and speeches and not one incident of violence of any kind. This is the second time Fox has promised racial violence and were 100% wrong. When are their viewers going to hold them accountable? When are conservatives going to demand the truth from the people they support. How many times do they have to be proven wrong before people start to see them as tired outdated racist clichés who are always part of the problem instead of being part of the solution?
“The world will not be destroyed by those who do evil, but by those who watch them without doing anything.” – Albert Einstein
TO FIND MORE CONSERVATIVE MEDIA LIES DEBUNKED VISIT THIS SITE: http://mythopedia.mediamatters.org/
This has been a huge week for our prestigious Supreme Court. They delivered monumental rulings that will dramatically change this great country. The rulings that garnered the most attention were the Voting Rights Act ruling, the Defense of Marriage Act ruling, and California’s Prop 8 ruling. Preceding all three of those by a few days there was another Supreme Court ruling that didn’t get much attention at all. I believe it’s just as significant and monumental as the three I named, but I’ll put that one aside for the moment and comment on the three attention grabbers first. Afterward I’ll explain what the lesser known ruling is and how it will impact the direction of our country.
I’ll start with the good news first. At approximately 9am the United States Supreme Court handed down a decision that struck down DOMA (the defense of marriage act) which lifted the federal ban on gay marriage. With a 5-4 vote Justice’s Ginsburg, Breyer, Sotomayor, Kagan and Kennedy all voted in favor of lifting the ban and Justice Anthony Kennedy wrote the majority opinion which states “The federal statute is invalid, for no legitimate purpose overcomes the purpose and effect to disparage and to injure those whom the State, by its marriage laws, sought to protect in personhood and dignity. By seeking to displace this protection and treating those persons as living in marriages less respected than others, the federal statute is in violation of the Fifth Amendment.” Of course the dissenting Justice’s were Roberts, Scalia, Alito, and Thomas. All four are ultra conservatives so their opposition to gay marriage is no secret. Now that DOMA was ruled unconstitutional by the highest court in the land, legal gay marriage in all 50 states is all but certain. Immediately following the DOMA decision the court ruled on California’s Prop 8. Prop 8 was a ballot measure in California that wanted to define marriage as 1 man and 1 woman. Before this ballot measure gay marriage was legal in California. After Prop 8 reversed legal gay marriage in California, a federal court in San Francisco struck it down on the grounds that it unfairly discriminated against gays and lesbians who wished to marry. California’s governor and state attorney refused to take the case to the Supreme Court because they were supporters of gay marriage, so an outside anti-gay organization decided to argue the validity of Prop 8 in the place of the state attorney to the Supreme Court (which has never been done before). In another 5 to 4 vote the Supreme Court decided that a private organization did not have legal standing to appeal after the ballot measure was struck down by a federal judge… thus killing Prop 8 and legalizing gay marriage in the state of California once again. Both of these historic rulings fills me with optimism and reaffirms my belief that this country really is the land of the free.
This week the Supreme Court also ruled on the constitutionality of the Voting Rights Act. In a 5 to 4 decision their ruling on this matter shakes the very foundation of my aforementioned reaffirmed optimism. This decision guts the very heart of the Voting Rights Act freeing nine mostly southern states to change their election laws without advance federal approval. Republican governors wasted no time rushing to file numerous new voting restrictions in every state where they have legislative control. Most of these new voter laws were blocked due to federal law during the last election. Congress has the power to redraw the map of states where voting laws need more scrutiny, but any action is unlikely as long as republicans hold a majority in the house. The GOP’s reaction to this new ruling is further evidence that they are aware that a large majority of American’s do not agree with their ideology and they know keeping minorities away from the polls is the only way they can win any future election. I believe their constant overreaching will hurt them in the midterm elections next year. The more they fight minorities and gays, the more determined and involved we become.
Now here’s the ruling you probably haven’t heard about. The gay marriage and the voting rights rulings made headlines all across the country and lead every newscast for days. They were huge stories so of course they deserved huge attention. But there was another Supreme Court ruling this past week that should have gotten just as much attention as the other three rulings did. Unfortunately the “powers that be” minimize the news coverage when it involves corporations flexing their power to stay above the law. American Express (huge credit card conglomerate) appeared before the Supreme Court to bar a class-action claim against them. A group of small restaurant owners joined together to sue American Express claiming that the company engaged in monopolistic business practices to force the merchants to accept their new credit card (with higher merchant fees) after they signed an agreement to accept their debit cards. This put the merchants in difficult position because they could not afford the higher fees, but losing the ability to accept AmEx debit cards would hurt their business as well. So the small group of restaurant owners banded together to sue American Express. American Express did not want a court jury trial and they challenged the merchants right to join together for a class-action suit. Instead they wanted arbitration (controlled by an arbiter of American Express’s choice) with each merchant independently. That’s how this legal issue ended up in front of the Supreme Court. To me, this seems like such an easy ruling. No corporation should be able to dictate the terms of which they are being sued for. But 5 out of 8 Justices did not share this opinion. They decided that the merchants could not band together, but not only that the Justices also ruled that American Express can force a merchant into an arbitration controlled by them. WTF? When did corporations get more rights than an American citizen? This ruling says corporations can deflect any lawsuit brought against them from this point on. Where’s the accountability? In a strongly worded dissent, Justice Elena Kagan said the decision means “the monopolist gets to use its monopoly power to insist on a contract effectively depriving its victims of all legal recourse.” The ruling was the third in three years to shut down class-action efforts brought on behalf of employees, consumers and now small-business owners. Lawyers on both sides of the issue said the court’s conservative wing was determined to shield companies from these broad lawsuits. The court has taken another big step down the road of permitting companies to use arbitration agreements to entirely insulate themselves from class-action liability. Even more proof that right wing conservatives do not give a damn about the people they are supposed to represent, and despite their rhetoric claiming to champion small businesses, their actions paint an entirely different picture.
Over the past couple weeks we’ve learned about top secret government programs designed to seek out terrorist who wish to do harm to the United States of America. What started out as a small leak has turned into a gushing waterfall of classified top secret information. First we had a story about the Department of Justice secretly seizing two months worth of phone records from the Associated Press without a warrant. These records were seized in an effort to identify the Associated Press’s informant who leaked very sensitive classified material to an AP reporter that jeopardized an ongoing CIA mission and could have cost the lives of those carrying out the clandestine mission if the target became aware of it. Keep in mind that the DOJ only obtained the numbers called both inbound and outbound, but never listened in on any phone conversations or asked to see transcripts from any phone conversations. A few days after that story broke another revelation came to light. The DOJ obtained a warrant for Fox “reporter” James Rosen’s email account to find his source for a 2009 report about North Korea responding to a United Nations sanction with a nuclear missile test. Yesterday another classified leak of US intelligence occurred. Cellular service provider Verizon complied with a top secret court order (issued in April 2013) to give the National Security Agency information on all phone calls from all of their customers in an indefinite ongoing daily basis. Then before we had time to digest this troubling occurrence, another government surveillance story broke. A reporter from “The Guardian” uncovered a top secret government program called PRISIM that allowed them to access or monitor any US citizen’s internet use and read anyone’s email.
If proven true, all of these secret surveillance operations are a stain on Obama’s presidency, a stain on law abiding American’s civil liberties, and a stain on the credibility of the DOJ and the NSA. I have to say this is the most disappointing and troubling part of an otherwise amazing presidency. We all know president Obama is a pragmatist but his unbelievably fast evolution on the issue of civil liberties makes me determined to find out why. Before he was elected president his position on Bush’s far reaching Patriot Act was very clear. He was very vocal about his opposition to most of the bill. Especially the statutes about government surveillance on law abiding citizens. After he won the election all of this changed. If I were a cynic I’d chalk it up to politics and probably believe that he knowingly misstated his position to get elected. But that’s not the Obama I know. Everything about his life shows a man with immense integrity, so I have to give him the benefit of the doubt. I think his change was prompted by some pretty scary intelligence that only him and a few top advisers are privy to. Being president has a huge burden that comes along with the job. You are responsible for 300 million people every day of your life for 4 to 8 years. The fate of the entire county rests in your hands and every decision you make could have dire consequences. I’m not making excuses for him infringing on American civil liberties, but I can understand why he may feel it necessary to do these types of things. It’s easy for me to feel outraged by it all when my outrage carries no consequence. So as you watch these issues unfold in the news, please keep that in mind and respect the enormity of that type of responsibility. These are complex issues and the president has to weigh the safety of nation against what is allowable by law. If his actions are indeed legal, then we have to ask ourselves if we’re just going to criticize pontificate and debate endlessly whether or not we feel comfortable with the government having this tool available to them, or are we going to push our elected officials to remove the legal ambiguity that was purposely written into bills such as the Patriot Act? Government as an institution will never voluntarily make itself less powerful, nor will any president. For that to happen the people have to be united, organized, and dedicated to restoring the principles that made this country great. I’m not willing to give up my civil liberties in order to maybe possibly probably catch one or two suspected terrorist every now and then. We are the smartest most technically advanced country in the world so there’s no way anyone can convince me that spying on law abiding Americans is the only way to fight or prevent an act of terrorism.
When President Barack Obama won reelection in 2012, he made a number of promises that captivated progressives and made us all hopeful once again. We all knew these were very big ideas and would not come easy at all, but when the President has the will of the people on his side and a crumbling economic structure where only a few benefit, then of course these factors would make things much easier. Ideas like gun control, marriage equality, income equality, immigration reform, health care reform etc. Under any other circumstances I’d be crazy or embarrassingly naive to think we’d get anywhere with such a lofty progressive agenda. But the more I think about it, all of those things should be easy. They should be a given really. Think about it… mandatory enhanced background checks for all gun purchases is supported by 90% of the American people. Marriage equality is supported by 60% (and rising more every day). An increase in minimum wage has 80% support. Immigration reform has the support of 55% favoring a legal pathway to citizenship. Sixty percent of the American people either fully support Obamacare (aka The Affordable Care Act) or think the bill isn’t liberal enough (those who still favor the public option which was dropped from the bill to get it through the house). Every one of those lofty progressive ideas that the President spoke about in his speech has support from a majority of the American people. Something is wrong here. Something is definitely wrong here. We’re supposed to live in a democracy where the president and elected officials are chosen by the people to carry out the wishes of the people. So if you have a situation where a majority of the people overwhelmingly support something, but that something still does not come to pass, we need to ask ourselves why the hell not. This is a question I’ve been struggling to make sense of for quite some time. How can you have the will of the people support something, and a majority of the senate support something and still it does not come to pass?
I’m a lover of politics but ultimately I’m a lover of information. I love history and science and finding out how things work. I love reading obscure historic biographies and watching every history channel special about past wars and presidents. As I began to write this blog I remembered something about World War II that helped me understand how elected officials can completely ignore the will of the people over and over again and still remain in office. I know it sounds crazy right now but let me explain. During WWII Japanese Emperor Hirohito and his military generals devised a propaganda campaign of massive proportion. They relentlessly drilled into the minds of their civilian and non civilian population that the Americans were complete savages. Every single day they were told stories of the Americans coming into villages raping women, decapitating babies, dismembering kids, drinking the blood of the people they kill after torturing them, and whatever else the regime’s sick sadistic minds could make up that would put the fear of god in them. They did this because it made their army fight till the death and it made the Emperor look like a protector. But one very unintended consequence of this type of propaganda says a lot about human nature and how what was intended to strengthen through manipulation can end up weakening and leading to a huge downfall. Ok, so the Japanese people heard and believed all these horrible stories about Americans and American soldiers. When our army finally reached the shores of Japan and started to make their way through the villages, they were not there to harm civilians. We knew about the Japanese propaganda so we printed up thousands of pamphlets in Japanese telling them that our soldiers were not there to kill or hurt them and if they surrendered peacefully no harm would come to them. But of course they did not believe us. They were bombarded with horror stories about us for two straight years so to them an American soldier was the devil incarnate. When it became clear that they were losing the war and they saw US soldiers coming to their village, the parents would slit the throats of their children and then slit their own. To them this was the only way of saving their children from the devil. They’d rather die by their own hand so they could make it quick and relatively painless than be tortured, dismembered, decapitated, raped, etc. Village after village the same thing happened over an over no matter what the soldiers tried to do to let them know we meant them no harm.
This small piece of WWII history helped me understand why the will of the people can be ignored time and time again without an all out revolt. We’re Japanese villagers. We’ve been conditioned. We’re fearful and therefore powerless. The president wants to raise the minimum wage and has the complete support of the people. Every working person in this country can agree that a person working a full time job should not be in poverty. But that’s the way it is right now. Full time job working everyday of the week and still does not make enough to feed their family. Wall Street seeing a huge upswing, major corporations making record profits, CEO’s getting millions in bonuses and instead of using all those profits and bonuses to pay the people who work for them a fair wage, they use it to buy politicians, to lobby the people we put in office so they can keep their huge profits and keep paying their workers shit. These lobbyist get political pundits and “so called” journalist to tell the electorate that a raise in minimum wage would kill jobs. And people are so afraid of losing their low paying crappy job that they start to believe the propaganda. Never mind that what these so called experts and pundits are saying does not make sense. A company making record profits can’t afford to pay their workers a living wage? If that’s true they should go out of business. If they are that close to the edge then that’s not a healthy company. We need to stop separating ourselves into republicans or democrats, or white or black, or native or immigrant… those are really just labels that help the fear machine push out more and more lies and more and more propaganda. We have the numbers, we are the majority, we have the power so it’s about time we start acting like it. We’ve all seen the gap in income disparity grow larger and larger and yet we’ve done absolutely nothing NOTHING to fix it. Our president wants to raise the minimum wage. The American people want to raise the minimum wage. Why isn’t it happening? Are we going to take responsibility and support this until it’s law or are we going to be like Japanese villagers in WWII waiting to slit our throats to avoid an even worse fate?
FACTS FOR NONBELIEVERS:
The next time someone tells you that raising the minimum wage would kill jobs and slow the economic recovery, here are some hard facts that proves those statements to be false.
Among the 50 largest low‐wage employers:
- 92 percent were profitable last year
- 78 percent were profitable for the past 3 years
- 75 percent are earning higher revenue now than before the recession
- 63 percent are earning higher profits now than before the recession
- 63 percent have a higher operating margin (a measure of profitability) now than before the recession
- 73 percent have higher cash holdings now than before the recession
These facts and figures were researched by the National Employment Law Project (PDF). They killed a very old Republican talking point that low wage jobs were the heart of small businesses. This study found that the majority of America’s lowest‐paid workers are employed by large corporations, not small businesses, and most of the largest low‐wage employers have recovered from the recession and are in a strong financial position.