We Are In Pre-WWII Germany

I was thinking about the emotional desire for normal times we see in so many of our elites. It’s dangerous right now. It leads to a blindness about what is really happening.

A lot of our Dem Representatives want to legislate, going through all the motions of passing bills even though pretty much nothing that passed the House has gotten through the Senate since Obama was elected. And they demand austerity even though austerity breeds fascism. People in the media cover the horse race as if several states aren’t going to overturn election results when Dems win.

I want to see my Representative recognize what is going on and put her body in front of the Senate Chamber doors to make a point to the public. Instead she attends mark-ups, and holds town halls to talk about the bills the House is passing. I want to see the media cover the (international) fascist movement as a fascist movement.

I think that people who write about/are in politics, etc these days should look at what they are saying and doing and ask themselves, “How would this look if I were writing/doing it in pre-WWII Germany?”

Looking at pre-war Germany, who do we remember?

Blog Hero Award — Atrios

I used to give a Blog Hero Award. Now “Atrios” has written one of the best blog posts ever so I’m reviving the award.

Atrios is hereby awarded a coveted (and rare) Blog Hero Award for his post, The Sensibles:

Start with a proposal that does 80% of the job, whittle it down to 60% to make it cheaper just because, cut that in half to please Republicans who won’t vote for it anyway, throw in some additional complication and means testing to please random “moderate” Democrats, and you’re left with something that is complicated and confusing that you’re unable (or justifiably unwilling) to take credit for. Then spend another 3 months “debating” it just to give time for people all over the spectrum to point out why it’s shit.

This is what the supposedly sensible, moderate, grown up politicians do. Then they can blame The Left because twitter user TrotskyChavez420 tweeted, “fuck the pigs.”

Is Biden Another Carter?

The Carter admin was a short interim between bad and much worse, and enabled the much worse to get into power. I am fearing Biden is failing to see the urgency of the moment, thereby enabling the very worst.

Previously I was surprised and enthusiastic about how the Biden admin started out. Big programs, etc. Lately not so much. The guy who promised he could work with Republicans can’t even get Democratic senators to support democracy.

I do not see administrative efforts to uphold democracy. Democracy requires accountability. No one has been held accountable for anything from the prior admin. Example: Trump was a co-conspirator in a case that put his lawyer Cohen in jail. That indictment could have come the minute he was not in office. So far, nothing. Never mind the obstruction of justice outlined in the Mueller Report.

It is looking like Biden has backed off several very important policies. Not cancelling student debt, not giving climate the urgency required. This is not just bad coverage, these are things he could just do himself and hasn’t. (Carter took on the oil companies and spoke to the public about the energy crisis all the time.)

Also, politically, the admin is not effectively getting the word out to the public about the good things they have already done.

There is a serious clock ticking. At any moment a Dem senator could fall ill or worse, Republicans gain the majority, and that is the end of the last hope. But they’re letting Republicans “negotiate” to run that clock out.

Update

So much is at stake. So much. I’d like to see some things happen that make me less pessimistic: Indict Trump on that charge Cohen went to jail for. Or for obstruction. Tell the public about the good things that have been done for them so far in the Biden admin. Put the hammer on Dem senators who are risking killing the Biden presidency and democracy — they might be playing out a strategy but the Senate is one vacancy away from Republican control. Stop the ridiculous “negotiating” with Lucy as she runs out the clock before pulling away the football. Give speeches about the urgency of the climate crisis. Get the Justice Dept moving.

Senate Dems Are Complicit In These Shootings

More shootings, nothing happens. Decades of shootings nothing happens. Millions of guns on our streets is hundreds of millions of gun manufacturer corporate profit and we all know that is why nothing happens. (Same for climate, healthcare, tobacco, you name it. It is blatant corruption and we all know it.)

I am just so sick of this. The public has been begging the Congress to do something about this for so long. Begging. Children in schools have to do “active shooter drills.” I had to do “duck and cover” nuclear war drills and it was traumatizing, imagine children doing these drills and then hearing about school after school being shot up. The adult public also lives with fear of being in a mass shooting.

41 Republican senators represent 21% of the public. The filibuster blocked anything from happening and Dems would not end the filibuster. That is the definition of “complicit.” Dems who allowed the filibuster to continue before this are complicit in this week’s shootings. Any Dems still allowing this to continue are complicit in every future shooting.

Right now we have fascists walking the streets with assault weapons openly displayed. That is fucking terrifying.
Continue reading

The #FightFor15 Minimum Wage WAS The Compromise. #FightFor24!

The minimum wage should be $24 if it had kept up with the gains in the economy.

Instead all those gains went to a top few.

CEPR: This is What Minimum Wage Would Be If It Kept Pace with Productivity

While the national minimum wage did rise roughly in step with productivity growth from its inception in 1938 until 1968, in the more than five decades since then, it has not even kept pace with inflation. However, if the minimum wage did rise in step with productivity growth since 1968 it would be over $24 an hour today, as shown in the Figure below.

$15 WAS the compromise!

$15 is a compromise already. If the minimum wages had kept pace with the gains in the economy it would be $24 or so per hour now, which is around $96K per year for a couple. What this means is that if labor’s share of the economy had stayed the same the minimum lifestyle equivalent would be what a $96K lifestyle today is. The house you’d be able to buy, etc. That would be our minimum.

#FightFor24

If they kill the $15 compromise there is no reason to keep fighting for $15. It should be $24 and we should all rightfully be fighting for that. It just gets us back to where we were before the great financialization, the great separation of labor wages from the economy, the great inequalizer.

So fuck 15, #FightFor24

Always Say “Jim Crow Filibuster” or “Racist Filibuster”

Always use the phrase “Jim Crow Filibuster” or “Racist Filibuster.” This takes away the cover of pretending the filibuster is a “norm” or “tradition” as an excuse for not killing it.

Senators like Manchin should not be asked if they support “ending the filibuster,” they should be asked if they support “keeping the racist filibuster.”

The Senate filibuster has a racist past and present. End it so America can move forward.

The nature of the filibuster, its rules and norms, is hardly an iron-clad tradition. It has changed and adapted greatly over the years since it first became popular in the civil rights era. But what hasn’t changed is its enduring connection to racism. The filibuster has always stood in the way of racial progress, whether employed by Southern Democrats of the Jim Crow era or the Republican Party today after a major shift in the party’s stance on racial equality. When you understand the filibuster’s racist past, it becomes clear that it has a racist present as well — and that we need to get rid of it.

Call it what it is, don’t let them take cover under “tradition.”

Dems Getting Things Back To Normal

Looks like Biden and Dem leadership are ready to get things back to normal.

Back to normal means back to refusing to hold Republicans accountable and face consequences thereby encouraging even more bad behavior, asking permission from Republicans before trying anything that might make people’s lives better, imposing ridiculous means-testing restrictions on anything that might benefit people, refusing to use the power voters gave them because it might have “bad optics” or “make Republicans retaliate,” being intimidated into doing nothing, and imposing austerity that breeds fascism, and refusing to tell voters about any good things they actually do.

It’s surprising anyone votes for Dems.

On “Speaking Fees,” Biden and Yellen

In the 90s there was a scandal about “buckraking,” where journalists were reporting positively about certain moneyed interests while raking in huge “speaking fees” from them. (A good example was 1996’s Money Talks by Howard Kurtz, Part 1, Part 2.)

While Congress has since banned honoraria for its members, the market for reporters and pundits who speak to business audiences has never been hotter. Some big-name media people routinely receive $15,000, $30,000, even $50,000 for a single speech. And the bulk of that money comes from corporations and lobbying organizations with more than a passing interest in the issues the journalists write about and yak about for a living.

Continue reading

Older Democrats Learned The Wrong Lessons From Nixon and Reagan

In today’s news, Biden promises not to use the power he has to make people’s lives better, and boost the economy.

“…it’s arguable that the president may have the executive power to forgive up to $50,000 in student debt,” Biden said. “Well, I think that’s pretty questionable. I’m unsure of that. I’d be unlikely to do that.”

Biden does, in fact, have that power. He’s saying he will not use it.

My observation from watching this crap for so long is that there is a generation of Democratic politicians who learned terrible, wrong lessons from Nixon/McGovern and then Reagan and the rise of the “conservative” propaganda machine. They got beat up so bad and still don’t really understand what happened to them and are still cowering from doing anything that might provoke another beating.

Back then the Democratic party had been riding on the FDR (plus Medicare & Great Society) wave of Dem goodwill for so long that they let the structures and understandings that support political action atrophy. So along came a billionaire-and-corporate-funded conservative movement machine that understood marketing, and how to neutralize opposition, etc, and just wiped the floor with them.

Please don’t hit me again!

What those Dems unfortunately learned was not to do anything that could let them be accused of being “communists” or “soft on crime” or “taxing and spending” or “weak on defense” etc. (They also learned never to put on a protective helmet and ride in a tank.) They learned not to do or say anything that might trigger another beating. They especially learned not to ever propose doing things that help the public & is good for society because it will be portrayed as helping minorities.

They firmly believe that anything any Democrat does to help working people, the general public and society in general will be “portrayed” in a bad way that elects more Republicans, and they see it as their mission to stop any Dem from doing so. Lest they receive another beating. They always have to get the abuser’s permission to do anything. (They call that bipartisanship.)

Biden, Pelosi, Feinstein and so many others are representative of what I’m talking about.

Right Before Our Eyes

Storm troopers in the cities? A Trumpian takeover of democracy?

The question isn’t if this is what the Trumpers are doing, it’s will they succeed.

A lot of people are in the “it can’t happen here” camp on this. But it is happening, we’re watching it. Trump says he is sending these – what should we call them – to all the “Democrat” cities. Calling them Little Green Men is good, because that is the model he is following.

Trump is following the Putin 21st-century stealth takeover model. Will Trump also follow the Putin election model? The one where Putin always wins “elections” even when he is unpopular?

Trump said this, and it is worth remembering that he did:

“You know, the left plays a tougher game, it’s very funny. I actually think that the people on the right are tougher, but they don’t play it tougher. Okay? I can tell you I have the support of the police, the support of the military, the support of the Bikers for Trump — I have the tough people, but they don’t play it tough — until they go to a certain point, and then it would be very bad, very bad. But the left plays it cuter and tougher.”

(“Bikers for Trump”? So maybe call these forces invading our cities “Night Wolves?)

There really is no question this is what he is doing. He told us, and we are seeing it happening. (Do we take him seriously or literally?) The question is, will it work?

It seems clownish, he is clearly not all there. The Trumper crowd are so incompetent that it is hard to take them seriously.

But make no mistake it IS happening right before our eyes. He says it out loud, and then he does it, and then people ask if it is happening?

But don’t worry the Democrats are not happy and might do something.

It’s Intimidation, Not “Moderation”

The Nation has a great piece by By Guy T. Saperstein and Joe Cirincione, titled, Americans Want Jobs, Not War. It describes how to talk about war spending in ways that move the public toward progressive positions. Please read it.

Dems “Afraid” of how they will “Appear”.

One early line stood out to me, “Democrats are afraid of appearing weak on defense.”

This line says so much about our national discourse. We are so used to hearing it. Democrats do things because they are afraid of how things they do and say will “appear.” They don’t want to “be seen as” holding certain positions that trigger a certain response.

Just how does that “appearance” reach the public? Through our nation’s information channels. Think about this. In a supposed democracy members of the country’s majority party are “afraid” of how they will be “made to appear” if they do not conform to certain positions.

It’s Intimidation

Let’s call this what it is: it is intimidation. They are intimidated.

Instead of providing the public with objective information to help citizens govern themselves in a democracy, our nation’s information channels are structured to enforce a system of allowable do’s and don’ts. The dominance of the right-wing/lobbyist intimidation machine is so pervasive that we no longer understand it could be different.

“Imagine If A Democrat Did That”

Every time a Democrat says, “I don’t want to be seen as” not being supportive of our troops we are acknowledging that we are living in an environment of intimidation. Every time Republicans do something and we all say, “Imagine if a Democrat had said/done this,” we are acknowledging an intimidation machine. But we are not saying the words

“If a Democrat did this” really means our information sources are intimidated into making a big bru-ha about anything a Democrat does and ignoring when a Republican does it because careers and reputations are destroyed. And therefore the targets of this are intimidated as well.

A “moderate” Democrat is simply a Democrat who gives an appropriate nod to being intimidated and therefore controlled by the corporate/right intimidation machine.