Friday links! Class warfare edition

Joey Hudy, 14, blows the President's mind with his marshmallow cannon.

First of all, there is no scientific evidence that standing next to a marshmallow cannon will retard the onset of puberty, although we have seen strong correlation in the opposite direction. Second, no matter what Barack Obama has been doing the last three years—and keep in mind that he has personally ordered the assassinations of several people—he can still manage that look of innocent wonder. I am a sucker for POTUS. Probably he is not more than a hair’s breadth away from the venal plutocrats he spends his day opposing; possibly, he is one such plutocrat himself. But he feels more relatable to me than Bush, and less likely to try to get my mom drunk than Clinton, and much less like a heartless symbol of unrelenting money power than Reagan. Remember how bad things were for poor people under Reagan? That was thirty years ago, and they’re much worse now. It’s called a class war, and the marshmallow cannons are in trouble.

Fact: the President is not a black man learning about a white kid’s marshmallow cannon; he is now officially a rich man learning about a poor child. According to the Times, the gap in standardized test scores between rich students and poor has widened by 40% since the 1960s, making it wider now than the gap between white and black. So the good news is that racism is over. The bad news is that the gap in college completion—still the single best predictor of future income—has grown by 50% since the late eighties. So we are talking about a generationally compound problem. We send more rich kids and fewer poor kids to college now, and the kids who go to college have kids who are rich.

Not that we’re creating a permanent underclass. This is America, where we have a dream, and the American dream holds that anyone who works hard can amass as much wealth and property as he wants to. We’re pretty sure that’s how the dream went, at least. America has been taking a lot of Ambien lately, on account of the stress, so our dream journal has kind of trailed off at page three. But dammit, we’re still the most equal country in the world, even if our Gini Index puts us 22nd out of 23 countries, ahead of Singapore. Remember the Gini Index? The CIA considers it a strong predictor of social unrest, as do the authors of several books reviewed in this week’s New York R of Bs. But I’m sure the same government whose policies have vastly increased the gap between rich and poor and who also funds and operates the CIA has not done any thinking about how to quell widespread dissatisfaction with social stratification.

You’re not necessarily in trouble when you find out someone is cheating you. But you know you’re in trouble when they start doing it openly. According to an elaborate Washington Post investigation:

Thirty-three members of Congress have directed more than $300 million in earmarks and other spending provisions to dozens of public projects that are next to or within about two miles of the lawmakers’ own property…Under the ethics rules Congress has written for itself, this is both legal and undisclosed.

One such congressman is Senator Richard Shelby, seen here criticizing a regulation requiring Western Union to disclose wire transfer fees on the grounds that it would cost Americans money. I’m not saying that being evil gradually gives you fish mouth, but neither Shelby nor Dick Cheney is medically able to play the kazoo.

It is true that many evil people get rich. It is not true that being rich makes you evil; many children of wealthy parents grow up to be perfectly ordinary adults with no particular morality either way. Take Willard Mittens “Mitt” Romney,* the governor’s son who has succeeded in every endeavor, Michael Tomasky notes, except two. One is politics. The other is relating to the norms. As one biographer notes, “His inability to empathize with common folk had long been his hoary hoodoo. His father had warned him about it.” When your dad is yelling down the dinner table at the governor’s mansion that you should not lose touch with ordinary people, you should listen. Or you can strap your dog to the roof of your car and ride around the country making $10,000 gentleman’s bets. Whatever—you’re still making fifty grand a day.

It’s not like the dog thing is what turned people against Romney anyway. Republican voters worry that Romney was mean to his dog the way your fish worries that your cat is irresponsible; mostly, he’s just frantically searching for a way out of the bowl. That analogy kind of sucks, particularly in comparison to this brilliant one from The Onion:

GOP Introduces New “Mystery Candidate” With Paper Bag Over Head


Statistically, Mystery Candidate is closer to your income than all the other ones.

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  1. Interesting comment regarding Clinton, Reagan. I am interested what your one-phrase summation of W Bush would be.

    My father—who loved Herman Cain, loves Sarah Palin, and has a genuine degree from an unaccredited Fundamental Baptist Bible college—wrote me this week with his own summation of all the Presidents of his lifetime. Note that he disapproves of Ron Paul for all the reasons I like Ron Paul, and loves him for all the reasons I’m embarrassed that he’s the only candidate I can stomach. In short, Dad’s a Fox viewer. Anyway, below is his list:

    “Truman Tough guy

    Eisenhower: Hero

    JFK: Privileged, morally bankrupt

    LBJ: Corrupt

    Nixon: Arrogant

    Ford: Nice guy

    Carter: Inept

    Reagan: People’s president.

    Bush: Good man

    Clinton: Politician, moral failure

    Bush: Heart over-ruled head.

    Obama: Ideologue.”

    So, for the Tea Party faithful, Reagan is the president of the people, even though two incomes became a necessity for families during his presidency; W Bush’s heart was what overruled his head when in fact, his heart belonged to Jesus and Crusading and his head couldn’t have won an argument with his appendectomy scar; Obama is an ideologue even though he fights for absolutely nothing (see: public option) and appears to have a backbone that resembles kelp.

    It’s not the paranoid style that makes these people tick (and vote); it’s simply a dedication to believing the opposite of whatever someone who is educated and informed (the “elite”) has learned. I guess that could be considered a kind of paranoia (everyone is lying to me), but I think paranoia is rooted in genuine skepticism, and these people are anything but skeptical. Try carrying on a sustained conversation with one of them and it becomes quickly apparent that, first and foremost, they’re opposed to the very notion of a conversation that might require them to think/budge/possibly concede, and second, reasoned conversation is for “moral failures” like JFK and Clinton. They prefer actors like Bush Jr and Reagan and they prefer the rigged performances of Hannity and Colmes because Hannity always wins.

    For them, first there must be no concessions—none—and then, yes, they’ll talk.

  2. REALITY!! And A Fix for Unemployment, Homelessness and Hunger

    In addition to fixing healthcare the right way we need a NewDeal. We need a permanent and updated FDR WPA (Works Progress Administration). A Full employment act requiring the government to provide a job for everyone able to work that wants to work at a living wage or better. At safe, meaningful work where they live. Guaranteed by the US government. With free or very affordable excellent healthcare and free or very affordable education and training for advancement or just personal enrichment.

    ( )

    ( Gov. Peter Shumlin: Real Healthcare reform — )

    ( Health Care Budget Deficit Calculator — )

    ( Briefing: Dean Baker on Boosting the Economy by Saving Healthcare )


    As you all know. Had congress passed a single-payer or government-run robust Public Option CHOICE! available to everyone on day one, our economy and jobs would have taken off like a rocket. And still will. Single-payer would be best. But a government-run robust Public Option CHOICE! that can lead to a single-payer system is the least you can accept. It’s not about competing with for-profit healthcare and for-profit health insurance. It’s about replacing it with Universal Healthcare Assurance. Everyone knows this now.

    The message from the midterm elections was clear. The American people want real healthcare reform. They want that individual mandate requiring them to buy private health insurance abolished. And they want a government-run robust public option CHOICE! available to everyone on day one. And they want it now.

    They want Drug re-importation, and abolishment, or strong restrictions on patents for biologic and prescription drugs. And government controlled and negotiated drug and medical cost. They want back control of their healthcare system from the Medical Industrial Complex. And they want it NOW!


    For-profit health insurance is extremely unethical, and morally repugnant. It’s as morally repugnant as slavery was. And few if any decent Americans are going to allow them-self to be compelled to support such an unethical and immoral crime against humanity.

    This is a matter of National and Global security. There can be NO MORE EXCUSES.

    Further, we want that corrupt, undemocratic filibuster abolished. Whats the point of an election if one corrupt member of congress can block the will of the people, and any legislation the majority wants. And do it in secret. Give me a break people.

    Also, unemployment healthcare benefits are critically needed. But they should be provided through the Medicare program at cost, less the 65% government premium subsidy provided now to private for profit health insurance.

    Congress should stop wasting hundreds of millions of dollars of taxpayer money on private for profit health insurance subsidies. Subsidies that cost the taxpayer 10x as much or more than Medicare does. Private for profit health insurance plans cost more. But provide dangerous and poorer quality patient care.



    This is what the American people are shouting at you. Both parties have just enough power now to do what the American people want. GET! IT! DONE! NOW!

    If congress does not abolish the individual mandate. And establish a government-run public option CHOICE! before the end of 2011. EVERY! member of congress up for reelection in 2012 will face strong progressive pro public option, and anti-individual mandate replacement candidates.

    Strong progressive pro “PUBLIC OPTION” CHOICE! and anti-individual mandate volunteer candidates should begin now. And start the process of replacing any and all members of congress that obstruct, or fail to add a government-run robust PUBLIC OPTION CHOICE! before the end of 2011.

    We need two or three very strong progressive volunteer candidates for every member of congress that will be up for reelection in 2012. You should be fully prepared to politically EVISCERATE EVERY INCUMBENT that fails or obstructs “THE PUBLIC OPTION”. And you should be willing to step aside and support the strongest pro “PUBLIC OPTION” candidate if the need arises.

    ASSUME CONGRESS WILL FAIL and SELLOUT again. So start preparing now to CUT THEIR POLITICAL THROATS. You can always step aside if they succeed. But only if they succeed. We didn’t have much time to prepare before these past midterm elections. So the American people had to use a political shotgun approach. But by 2012 you will have a scalpel.

    Congress could have passed a robust government-run public option during it’s lame duck session. They knew what the American people wanted. They already had several bills on record. And the house had already passed a public option. Departing members could have left with a truly great accomplishment. And the rest of you could have solidified your job before the 2012 elections.

    President Obama, you promised the American people a strong public option available to everyone. And the American people overwhelmingly supported you for it. Maybe it just wasn’t possible before. But it is now.

    Knock heads. Threaten people. Or do whatever you have to. We will support you. But get us that robust public option CHOICE! available to everyone on day one before the end of 2011. Or We The People Of The United States will make the past midterm election look like a cake walk in 2012. And it will include you.

    We still have a healthcare crisis in America. With hundreds of thousands dieing needlessly every year in America. And a for profit medical industrial complex that threatens the security and health of the entire world. They have already attacked the world with H1N1 killing thousands, and injuring millions. And more attacks are planned for profit, and to feed their greed.

    Spread the word people.

    Progressives, prepare the American peoples scalpels. It’s time to remove some politically diseased tissues.

    God Bless You my fellow human beings. I’m proud to be one of you. You did good.

    See you on the battle field.


    jacksmith – WorkingClass :-)

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