How To Fix The World

I have come to believe it is a waste of time to discuss “policy” anymore. Billionaires and corporations control the legislative and administrative branches. And that’s that. Period.

We can’t get anything through the Congress, no matter what. The Executive branch lives in a neoliberal mindset. The agencies are controlled by lobbyists. (Once in a while something can happen, but if we fix corruption, we fix all of it.)

Activists should put 100% of effort into fixing this. Fix money in politics and corruption. Nothing we advocate can happen otherwise. Everything we fight for will happen if these are fixed – because the public wants the same things. (That’s why we do what we do.)

There really is no other fight.

Sanctions On Russian Oligarchs Won’t Work But Sanctions On Russia’s Economy WIll

Sanctions on Russia’s oligarchs won’t work. The idea is that imposing sanctions of Putin’s oligarchs will cause them feel pain and do something about Putin. This is a US-centric view of how it works:

– In the US the oligarchs tell the government what to do. In Russia it’s the other way around. Putin tells the oligarchs what to do.

– BECAUSE this is how it works here, the US continues to allow oligarchs to hide their wealth behind anonymous “shell” corporations. So oligarch assets remain safe. Shell corporations owned by oligarchs can continue to buy real estate, art, etc.

– Also hidden assets of politicians, collected from oligarchs, remain safe.

WSJ, How Donald Trump’s Web of LLCs Obscures His Business Interests,

President-elect Donald Trump owns a helicopter in Scotland.

To be more precise, he has a revocable trust that owns 99% of a Delaware limited liability company that owns 99% of another Delaware LLC that owns a Scottish limited company that owns another Scottish company that owns the 26-year-old Sikorsky S-76B helicopter, emblazoned with a red “TRUMP” on the side of its fuselage.

Sanctions on Russia’s economy are another matter.

Congratulations Corporations, The Next President Will Be Your Business Partner (Updated)

This post first appeared at Government Cheese – Chronicling the collapse of democracy

It hasn’t sunk in yet but yesterday’s vote to allow Republican election-rigging and keep the filibuster marks the end of democracy. From here on out the fight is over. Republican efforts to rig the next elections will now accelerate. They know they have a free hand to do what they want. The public will tune out, understanding that nothing can change.

Billionaires and corporations funded and engineered the effort to keep the filibuster. Their thinking is that they’re at the top of a system rigged in their favor, and the filibuster keeps anything from changing. The filibuster has maintained their position at the top of the pyramid, blocking all efforts by the people to use government to change the rigged system. All Republicans were part of this pay-for-play operation, of course, but so were many Senate Democrats under Obama, and now Manchin and Sinema.

The corporations and billionaires think the current system of paying politicians to keep the money flowing to them has been locked in.
Continue reading

The Benefits Of Trade And Automation Were Stolen From Us

This post first appeared at Government Cheese.

The capitalist economist’s argument for “free trade” was the Jetsons Economy argument: the future will be glorious. They explained that when you move production to places where workers were paid less, everyone here would benefit because it freed up resources that would be applied to better jobs with higher wages, more free time, etc. The resulting gains would benefit everyone. And everyone where the jobs were moved to would also benefit from climbing the same ladder.

Sounds nice. A democracy would have made sure that was written into trade agreements, for everyone on both sides: The gains must be shared by everyone.

Same for automation, technology, etc. The gains were supposed to go to everyone. A democracy would have guaranteed that’s what happened.

A democracy would certainly have outlawed what did happen: Big money used “free” trade and automation/technology to pit workers against each other to force wages and benefits DOWN, with all the gains going to the top few.

What actually happened is that the Jetsons economy was stolen from us.

The Brand-Name “NAFTA”

All of this and the consequences — the benefits of trade and automation going to the top, everyone else forced ever downward, homes lost (and bought up by private equity to rent back to the former owners), factories closed and abandoned to rot, businesses closed and replaced by private-equity-owned chains, communities destroyed, etc – is covered by the brand name “NAFTA” for voters who were affected by this. That’s a big part of what brought us Trump and destroyed the Democratic party in the minds of all those voters.

Why Blame Dems?

Those textile mills and furniture manufacturers and all the rest of the manufacturing that went away when the Jetsons Economy future was stolen, the hollowed out cities with abandoned stores & homes downtown, ringed by private equity chains in malls out by the highway, bitter people forced out of the middle class blaming Dems for what happened to them…

The dilemma: This stuff branded NAFTA was a Republican/Wall Street neoliberal project all along but some Dems went along with it. Carter with deregulation, Clinton with trade, Obama with Wall Street. Wall Street/corporate money and propaganda getting them into office. (The famous chart showing the split between productivity and wages started under Carter/Volker. Then driven home by Reagan.)

The reason it’s identified with Dems more than Republicans now is that Dems were supposed to be the party of labor. The Democrats were supposed to protect working people from the things big money wanted to do to us. So Dems get the blame for breaking that wall of solidarity.

It’s like how Dems get the blame for things every single Republican is doing. We expect Republicans to be the party of capital, not Dems. Of course it wasn’t all elected Democrats who did this, but the capital bought enough Dems to get away with it.

The Hawley Nonsense “Porn” Interview – A Master Class In Propaganda

You probably think I’m going to mock this. Nope.

Watch this interview. It is a master class in propaganda. What he says was obviously (to me) written in one of their well-funded think tanks. He has obviously rehearsed this. Those of us who mock it just don’t get what the real message is and how effective it is.

As I keep saying, the current Republican fascist appeal all goes back to “NAFTA” – which is the brand name for the neoliberal austerity attack on the middle class, pushed by Wall Street, by all Republicans, and bought into by the “corporate Dems.” (See below)

How can you make these claims?, Hawley is asked. Answer: “If you look at the policy of deindustrialization…

The Virus That Carries the DNA Therapy

The porn nonsense is like the virus that carries the DNA therapy. The virus isn’t the point, the embedded DNA is. The virus is used to move around the body, targeting the right cells, leaving behind the intended therapy.

The “porn” part will be repeated widely because of the outrageous nonsense, but… Then there is this nugget (and a few others like it): “The [Democrat] policy of deindustrialization.” It is slipped in there, as if it is something we all know and agree with. The Dem policy is why you are all suffering, out of work, etc.

The nugget – the real message here – is the things slipped in as taken for granted now that they have your attention.

The REAL message in this is: “Democrats did this to you. We (the fascists) are here to make it all better.”

See the longer interview here: https://www.facebook.com/watch/?v=583015609418505

It All Comes Back To NAFTA

“NAFTA” is a brand name for all the neoliberal policies that wiped out the factory towns and turned blue collar workers against Democrats.

The Clinton admin went all-in to get NAFTA passed. The televised 1993 “debate” between Al Gore and Ross Perot over NAFTA is worth revisiting. “Giant sucking sound” of jobs leaving the country – and that’s what happened. (The damage was really more from China entering the WTO, but “NAFTA” is the brand name for all of it.) The “benefits” of free trade were all directed up to a top few. People were threatened with, “Do you want YOUR job moved to China, too? No? Then shut up and take the pay cut.”

And everyone in the Midwest and other “post-industrial” areas that were wiped out understand this.

Obama understood, too. In 2008 he campaigned in the Midwest as the candidate who is going to do something about NAFTA and all the shit that is happening to you.

Blue-collar workers voted for Obama because he campaigned on fixing NAFTA, but then he didn’t. During the campaign there was a scandal that Obama had reassured Canadian leaders that he didn’t mean it. Then, immediately after taking office he went back on renegotiating NAFTA,

The administration has no present plans to reopen negotiations on the North American Free Trade Agreement to add labor and environmental protections, as President Obama vowed to do during his campaign, the top trade official said on Monday.

Then came full-on neoliberalism. Dems did not even bring the promised Employee Free Choice Act, which would have made it easier to organize unions in the workplace, up for a vote. Wall Street was bailed out and instead of removing (and prosecuting) the executives whose fraud caused the financial crisis the bailout funds were used to give bonuses to those executives. Austerity was imposed. The “recoverey” left millions behind, especially in the “deindustrialized” regions.

Then the Obama/Wall Street years clinched the wipeout of the middle class. For millions upon millions things didn’t get better, they got worse. People don’t forget things like that.

So Trump campaigned on getting rid of NAFTA, etc. Add in the right’s propaganda infrastructure )”Republicans are the party of the working class”) and here we are.

PS The Onion has more on this, demonstrating how the virus spreads, so it can implant the DNA. Also it’s hilarious: Josh Hawley Slams Video Games As Threat To American Masculinity After Bullshit Sniper Ends His ‘Battlefield’ Killstreak

Brilliant – Watch This Clip

Watch this clip. Brilliant. Follow the money behind the votes. It really is just paid corruption.

“David Sirota critiques coverage of DC budget battles
Reliable Sources

Former Bernie Sanders campaign advisor David Sirota says the news media should be following the money on Capitol Hill, sharing context “about which industries are buying which politicians.” Sirota also argues that the global financial crisis of 2008 and 2009 is impacting American politics today.”

I can’t find a way to post the clip here so Click This to watch.

Lies vs Democracy

This post first appeared at Imagine Democracy.

Well-funded lies are very effective.

The tobacco companies proved that with well-funded propaganda lies (a.k.a. “marketing”) you can get people to kill themselves while giving you their money.

The firearms industry proved that with well-funded propaganda lies you can convince people to allow kindergarteners to be killed while giving you their money.

Trump proved that well-funded propaganda lies (and media participation) he could convince people to kill democracy while giving him their money.

Now the oil&coal companies are proving that well-funded propaganda lies can get people to kill the planet while giving them their money.

Democracy doesn’t have an advertising agency to counter this stuff. This is why we need a Department of Democracy.

The Bipartisan Mistake

Joe Biden’s agenda – if it survives at all – was massively watered down by the insistence on negotiating a “bipartisan infrastructure bill.” This is the same thing that happened to Obama’s health care bill.

– Negotiating with bad-faith Republicans wasted months
– The result was ridiculous and requires the reconciliation bill to restore essential components
– The reconciliation bill is being watered down by corporate interests paying some Democrats
– The reconciliation bill might even be killed by these corporate interests

What is it about Democrats that causes them to instinctively require Republican permission to get anything done?

This time they’re fucking around with the last remaining effort to do something to contain the climate crisis.

FDR And “Court Packing” – Just One More “Truth” That Isn’t True

A lot of things we “know” about history come from “one side.” For example, we “know” that “protectionism” caused the Great Depression. Except it didn’t.

Who benefits from convincing the public that protecting national interests is bad if it reduces corporate profits? There are so, so many “truths” like that.

Another “Truth”: Court Packing is Bad

Here’s another “truth.” FDR tried to “pack the Supreme Court” and it was very, very bad.

I thought I’d look up what the Supreme Court was actually doing that led to FDR trying to do something to balance the Court, and what happened when he finally did try. Go ahead and try to find answers (the actual truth) to that question. It’s hard to find.

Eventually, if you know the right search terms, you might come across this, at a site called fdr4freedoms. (I’ll be exploring that site further.)

From The New Deal and the Supreme Court,

In 1932 and 1936, Americans enthusiastically embraced FDR’s vision of a federal government ready to use its power to make real improvements in their lives. They voted for him overwhelmingly. With Democratic majorities (augmented by Republican progressives) dominating both houses of Congress, the legislature also resoundingly endorsed FDR’s program of bold experimentation.

… But opponents in business and elsewhere repeatedly sued to block the laws. As these challenges reached the high court in 1935, four justices, with the help of one or two swing votes, began striking down the new laws as unconstitutional.

Summary: FDR worked to save regular people from the suffering caused by the depression. The sensible things he wanted to do were very, very popular. But it threatened corporate profits. The Court struck down FDR’s attempts to use government to help and protect the public.

More specifically,

The court struck down laws securing a minimum wage, maximum work hours, and the right to unionize for workers. It rejected pension programs and child labor restrictions, price codes and farm subsidies.

… “The Constitution grants to Congress no power to regulate for the promotion of the general welfare,” as the majority proclaimed in a 1936 case striking down a minimum wage and other regulation in the coal industry.

The Court said the government has no power to protect the public from anything the rich and corporations do to them! It even ruled that states couldn’t set minimum wages by themselves!

What Happened When FDR Threatened To Add Justices?

FRD proposed a plan to reduce the Court’s workload (badly needed then and even more now) and balance the Court by appointing an additional Supreme Court justice for every sitting justice over the age of seventy.

Result: The Court began to rule for the public! The Court ruled in favor of state minimum wage laws. This was dubbed “the switch in time that saved nine.” Then the Court ruled in favor of the National Labor Relations Act, protecting striking workers. Next it upheld the Security Act’s retirement and unemployment benefits. And then one of the right-wing Justices announced his retirement.

After these reversals, interest in rebalancing and expanding the Court faded.

The “Court Packing” threat WORKED.

FDR proposed rebalancing the Court. Immediately the Court started ruling in the public’s favor. One of the right-wing Justices even retired.

It worked. Threatening to rebalance the court SUCCEEDED! So when you hear that Democrats shouldn’t try to balance the Court today because it was bad when FDR tried to “pack the court,” you’re hearing that because “one side’ has made it a “truth.”

It’s is time to rebalance the Court.

We Deserve A Vote To End The Filibuster

Senate Majority Leader Schumer should call a vote on ending the filibuster. We deserve to know which Democrats vote for democracy and which oppose it.

This is especially important when the filibuster is being used block bills that prevent states from suppressing non-white voters.

We need to know which Democrats are helping Republicans block democracy. Every elected Democrat needs to take a public stand on this.

Until this happens, until most Democrats are demanding a public vote on this, until they force a vote on this, all Democrats should be held accountable for keeping these anti-democracy rules in place.

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 Democrats’ Dastardly Plan

This post first appeared at Imagine Democracy.

The Democrats have a sinister plan. They are going to trick people into voting for them by doing things to make their lives better.

They plan to use the people’s government to bribe the voters. They are strategically scheming to allocate government resources to deliver things like safety from the Covid-19 virus, health care, education, even modernized infrastructure. They plan to address problem like the climate crisis, racial injustice, even inequality, They will pass laws preventing companies from polluting, committing fraud and other things that companies have been allowed to do for so long! This hijacking of the government by Democrats for their own purposes could mean voters reward them by allowing them to do even more for them.

However the good Republicans also have a plan. To prevent the seizure of the government away from the corporations, they are passing laws to stop the voters from being able to reward the Democrats for their bribery schemes. They are gallantly making sure that it is very, very difficult for the bribed voters to get to polling places – of course prohibiting the ease of voting by mail – and if they get to voting places they will face all kinds of rules designed to keep the from the voting booths themselves.

In case voters actually do make it to the voting booths to cast votes, the districts are carefully drawn in ways that Democrat votes are concentrated into a very few districts, while the majority of districts remain under Republican control, no matter how the statewide vote turns out.

So be aware of this sinister plan by Democrats to bribe voters by making their lives better. Do not let them get away with it.