Wednesday, September 30, 2015

The Republi-CON 'We Oppose Welfare' Myth

UPDATE III:  Jeb! the hypocrite, criticizing  the 'free stuff' black voters get.

Jeb! is/was a minority owner of the Jacksonville Jaguars, which got $121 million from the City of Jacksonville to renovate "the stadium in which the newly formed Jaguars would play football."  And "while his father was in the White House, Bush was retained to help sell pumps built by a firm called Moving Water Industries. To expand its business in Nigeria, the firm relied on a $74 million loan guaranteed by the federal Export-Import Bank."  Not to mention the many tax credits he gets to subsidize his wealthy lifestyle.

Read the Washington Post, Jeb Bush says black voters get ‘free stuff’. So does he.
UPDATE II:  "$250 million in public money to [the Milwaukee Bucks for] the team’s new arena . . .

It’s another reminder that the principles of small government and fiscal responsibility that conservative politicians like Walker pledge their fealty to are highly contingent on who’s benefiting and who’s being hurt."

Read the Washington Post, Scott Walker’s crony capitalism, which notes that "one of the Bucks owners, Jon Hammes, is a national finance co-chairman of Walker’s campaign and has given $150,000 to a Walker super PAC."

UPDATE:  Another corporate welfare queen protected by Republi-cons, the for-profit colleges industry.

"A 2012 Senate investigation found that 15 of the largest for-profit colleges received 86 percent of their revenue from federal student aid programs, and spent 23 percent of their budgets, $3.7 billion dollars, on some form of recruitment. By comparison, nonprofit colleges spent less than a percent of their revenue on marketing, according to the investigation."

Read the Washington Post, Slick for-profit college marketing is starting to backfire

"Americans pay nearly twice as much per pound as foreigners do for sugar, thanks to U.S. import restrictions and subsidies. . .

[Government regulations have] cost American consumers and businesses $15 billion since 2008 and 120,000 jobs since 1997."

Read the Wall Street Journal, The Sugar Scandal.

Republi-cons oppose welfare for poor people, but not their rich corporate benefactors.

Be Very Very Afraid of 'The Invisible [Republi-CON] Bond Vigilantes'

UPDATE XII:  What ever happened to those preditions of hyperinflation?

Read the Washington Post, And now let us remember the worst economic prediction ever.

UPDATE XI: "When it comes to views on economics, Republicans have been consistent, clear and wrong."

Read The New York Times, G.O.P. Monetary Madness, which notes "that hard-money doctrine and paranoia about inflation have taken over the party, even as the predicted inflation keeps failing to materialize. For example, in February, Representative Paul Ryan, who is somewhat inexplicably regarded as the party’s deep thinker on matters economic, harangued Mr. Bernanke on how terrible it is to “debase” a currency and pointed to a rise in commodity prices in late 2010 and early 2011 as evidence that inflation was finally coming. Commodity prices have plunged since then, but there is no sign that Mr. Ryan or anyone else is having second thoughts."

UPDATE X: How about those invisible Republi-CON bond vigilantes. Read the Washington Post, Average rate on 30-year fixed mortgage ties low of 3.94 pct.; 15-year also hits record.

UPDATE IX: For all the anti-Keynesian folks out there, please explain:

UPDATE VIII: A told ya so by the 2008 winner of the Nobel Memorial Prize in Economics, in The New York Times, One Point Seven Seven:

"That’s the current interest rate on 10-year US bonds.

Remember, back in 2009 there was a big debate between people like me, who said that we were in a liquidity trap and that interest rates would stay low as long as the economy was depressed, and people like the WSJ editorial page and Niall Ferguson, who said that government borrowing would bring on the bond vigilantes and send rates soaring.

How’s it going?

And just to be clear: this isn’t just about I-told-you-so. We’re talking about different models, different visions of how the economy works. Their vision led to calls for austerity now now now; mine said that the overwhelming danger was that we wouldn’t provide enough stimulus, and that we would pull back too soon. Sure enough, we didn’t and we did. And now catastrophe looms."
Republi-cons continue to sacrifice workers to appease their imaginary inflation gods.

UPDATE VII: It has been several weeks since the so-called downgrade. So how are those bond vigilantes doing? Read The New York Times, Mortgage Rates Hit 50-Year Low.

UPDATE VI: "Fitch Ratings said Tuesday it will keep its rating on U.S. debt at the highest grade, AAA, and issued a 'stable' outlook, meaning it expects the rating to stay there." Read The New York Times, Fitch Ratings Keeps U.S. at Top Credit Rating.

UPDATE V: "Thirty years ago, it became clear that defeating inflation was crucial, even if the means needed to accomplish that would cause a deep recession. . . . [But i]t is time for a new lesson to be learned. Sometimes we need inflation, and now is such a time. " Read The New York Times, Sometimes, Inflation Is Not Evil.

UPDATE IV: "Behold the power of a stupid narrative, which seems impervious to evidence." Read The New York Times, The Downgrade Doom Loop.

UPDATE III: More from that 'liberal' commentator won the 2008 Nobel Memorial Prize in Economics:

"[T]here is no reason to take Friday's downgrade of America seriously. These are the last people whose judgment we should trust.

And yet America does have big problems.

These problems have very little to do with short-term or even medium-term budget arithmetic. The U.S. government is having no trouble borrowing to cover its current deficit. It's true that we're building up debt, on which we'll eventually have to pay interest. But if you actually do the math, instead of intoning big numbers in your best Dr. Evil voice, you discover that even very large deficits over the next few years will have remarkably little impact on U.S. fiscal sustainability.

No, what makes America look unreliable isn't budget math, it's politics. And please, let's not have the usual declarations that both sides are at fault. Our problems are almost entirely one-sided - specifically, they're caused by the rise of an extremist right that is prepared to create repeated crises rather than give an inch on its demands.

The truth is that as far as the straight economics goes, America’s long-run fiscal problems shouldn’t be all that hard to fix. It’s true that an aging population and rising health care costs will, under current policies, push spending up faster than tax receipts. But the United States has far higher health costs than any other advanced country, and very low taxes by international standards. If we could move even part way toward international norms on both these fronts, our budget problems would be solved.

So why can’t we do that? Because we have a powerful political movement in this country that screamed “death panels” in the face of modest efforts to use Medicare funds more effectively, and preferred to risk financial catastrophe rather than agree to even a penny in additional revenues.

The real question facing America, even in purely fiscal terms, isn’t whether we’ll trim a trillion here or a trillion there from deficits. It is whether the extremists now blocking any kind of responsible policy can be defeated and marginalized. "

Read The New York Times, Credibility, Chutzpah And Debt.

UPDATE II: "Virtually unnoticed last week was that [another ratings agency] kept a Triple A rating on the United States." Read The New York Times, Moody’s: Why the U.S. Is Still AAA.

UPDATE: So much for the inflation fear-mongers.

Today the Bank of New York began charging a fee on large deposits. Read the Wall Street Journal, BNY Mellon Deposit Fee: Life in the Liquidity Trap.

BTW, a liquidity trap, "in Keynesian economics, is a situation where monetary policy is unable to stimulate an economy, either through lowering interest rates or increasing the money supply. Liquidity traps typically occur when expectations of adverse events (e.g., deflation, insufficient aggregate demand, or civil or international war) make persons with liquid assets unwilling to invest."

I guess John Maynard Keynes was right after all.

Of course, one 'liberal' commentator has been scoffing at inflation concerns for years.

From more than two years ago, read The New York Times, The Big Inflation Scare, where he speculates that "inflation fear-mongering [was] partly political, coming largely from economists who had no problem with deficits caused by tax cuts but suddenly became fiscal scolds when the government started spending money to rescue the economy. And their goal [seemed] to be to bully the Obama administration into abandoning those rescue efforts."

I guess that's why that 'liberal' commentator won the 2008 Nobel Memorial Prize in Economics.

I wonder what the Hedgehog News prize winning economist would says now.

(Warning, that is a satirical comment.

Hedgehog News doesn't have any prize winning economist on the payroll.

But Hedgehog News does have many Republi-con candidates on the payroll.)

"S&P has triggered another invisible attack by the invisible bond vigilantes." Read The New York Times, What If They Announced A Downgrade And Nobody Cared?

BTW, a bond vigilante "is a bond market investor who protests monetary or fiscal policies they consider inflationary by selling bonds, thus increasing yields."

If you don't understand this post, you should refrain from debating fiscal policy issues.

Monday, September 28, 2015

Get Ready For a Republi-CON Rumble

UPDATE V:  "John Boehner was brought down by the same conservative forces he once courted."

Read Slate, The Revolution Devours Its Own.  

UPDATE IV:  "Meet the new leader, same as the old leader. Rep. Eric Cantor’s defeat last week was a message from grass-roots conservatives to Washington’s Republican leaders: No more business as usual. But on the eve of the election to replace Cantor as majority leader—the second most powerful person in the House of Representatives—it doesn’t look like there’s been much of a change in how the House will function. Rep. Kevin McCarthy, who was in the No. 3 position, is now going to be elevated to Cantor’s old post. McCarthy is not an agent of change. On the issue of immigration, for example, which helped inflame opposition to Cantor, McCarthy is even more moderate. (He has in the past expressed support for giving undocumented immigrants a path to legal status.) House Speaker John Boehner, whom grass-roots activists criticize as a capitulator and dealmaker, is more powerful than ever, because without Cantor waiting in the wings, there is less threat that another member of the House could harness his grass-roots critics."

Read Slate, Under Old Management.  

UPDATE III: "How big a deal is the surprise primary defeat of Representative Eric Cantor, the House majority leader? Very. Movement conservatism, which dominated American politics from the election of Ronald Reagan to the election of Barack Obama — and which many pundits thought could make a comeback this year — is unraveling before our eyes.

I don’t mean that conservatism in general is dying. But what I and others mean by “movement conservatism,” a term I think I learned from the historian Rick Perlstein, is something more specific: an interlocking set of institutions and alliances that won elections by stoking cultural and racial anxiety but used these victories mainly to push an elitist economic agenda, meanwhile providing a support network for political and ideological loyalists.

By rejecting Mr. Cantor, the Republican base showed that it has gotten wise to the electoral bait and switch, and, by his fall, Mr. Cantor showed that the support network can no longer guarantee job security. For around three decades, the conservative fix was in; but no more. . .

So whither movement conservatism? Before the Virginia upset, there was a widespread media narrative to the effect that the Republican establishment was regaining control from the Tea Party, which was really a claim that good old-fashioned movement conservatism was on its way back. In reality, however, establishment figures who won primaries did so only by reinventing themselves as extremists. And Mr. Cantor’s defeat shows that lip service to extremism isn’t enough; the base needs to believe that you really mean it.

In the long run — which probably begins in 2016 — this will be bad news for the G.O.P., because the party is moving right on social issues at a time when the country at large is moving left. (Think about how quickly the ground has shifted on gay marriage.) Meanwhile, however, what we’re looking at is a party that will be even more extreme, even less interested in participating in normal governance, than it has been since 2008. An ugly political scene is about to get even uglier.
Read The New York Times, The Fix Isn’t In

UPDATE II:  "Republicans simply don’t trust bipartisan deals.

It’s an ideological trait that goes beyond mere hatred for Obama, which is considerable. . .

Opposing Cantor because he’s too lovey-dovey with Obama is insane. But that, more than any ideology, is the reason Cantor lost, and the reason Republicans have been reportedly forced into legislative strategies — default threats, shutdowns, killing immigration reform — they see as contrary to their own best interest. Even Cantor’s totalistic obstruction is not enough. Conservative Republicans want them to fight, and fight, and fight."

Read New York Magazine, Conservatives Don’t Hate the Immigration Deal. They Hate All Deals.

UPDATE:  "The Republican primary for a Senate seat in North Carolina Tuesday offers the most desperate political prognosticators a chance to read the tobacco leaves heading into 2016."

Read the Wall Street Journal, N.C. GOP Primary Offers Preview of Sorts for 2016.

"Any Republican donor who thought that the shutdown would 'break the fever' of the Tea Party, or that it would prove the pesky base wrong about its strategy, clearly didn’t know enough conservatives. . . The immediate political legacy of the #StandWithCruz moment is a surge of primary challenges, mostly in states or districts that Democrats won’t even try to win. The goal: replace the graybeard Republicans who 'caved' with Cruz/Lee doppelgangers who won’t."

Read Slate, The Next Ted Cruz

This might even continue through the 2016 election cycle.

Friday, September 25, 2015

OMG, Franken-Trump/Trumpenstein (© And His Media Enabler Have Had a Falling-Out

UPDATE II:  "Last month, Fox calculated that they needed Trump more than he needed them. That calculus may be changing."

Read Salon, The Donald Trump vs. Fox News saga rages on: Why this time is different — and worse — for The Donald, which concludes "[r]egardless of how the Trump-Fox saga plays out, Trump isn’t going away anytime soon. Every other network will gleefully book him as a guest whenever they can. His rare combination of confidence and lunacy still makes for great TV. And if Fox does cut ties with Trump, it will likely alienate further a segment of the conservative base that is already suspicious of the establishment.

Which, of course, is great news for the Democrats."

UPDATE:  Who is the real Trump, an 'over-the-top conservative' or the world's greatest prankster? 

See if you know:

And read the Washington Post, Donald Trump: Real-life manifestation of Stephen Colbert’s alter ego?

"In what can only be a calamity for the folks at 'Fox & Friends,' Donald Trump today signaled via Twitter that he’s not going on the network . . .

It’s unclear to what Trump is referring when he mentions the unfair treatment of the leading cable news network. What is clear is that the candidate on Monday night zipped off some absurd complaints about coverage of his candidacy on 'The O’Reilly Factor.' . .

As we’ve noted, those complaints carried the usual Trump trifecta of baselessness, thin-skinnedness and narcissism."

Read the Washington Post, Donald Trump is boycotting Fox News

Less Booze, More Meth

"'Dry counties' that prohibit alcohol sales seem to have . . . higher rates of DUI-related car crashes . . . [more] binge drinking"and more meth labs and incidents.

Read the Washington Post, These places banned booze. Now they’re dealing with something far worse, which included this graph:

So does that make our local Imam Truthiness (formerly known as Pastor Truthiness and Pastor Poppins), who opposes alcohol sales, a drug pusher?

The Republi-CON 'Clinton Was the First Birther' Myth

"Clinton's campaign, one of the most thoroughly dissected in modern history, never raised questions about the future president's citizenship. The idea that it did is based largely on a series of disconnected actions by supporters of Clinton . . .

Clinton never personally called for the release of Obama's birth certificate or questioned his American bona fides."

Read the Washington Post, Republicans are blaming Hillary Clinton for the ‘birther’ movement. That’s wishful thinking.

Thursday, September 24, 2015

Capitalisn, As Explained By 'Pharma Bro' (and Volkswagen and Bad Peanut Butter)

Why "raise the price of a life-saving drug by more than 4,000 percent, from $1,130 to $63,000"?

Because that's the "unabashed pursuit of profit", AKA capitalism.

Read the Washington Post, Pharma bro’ Martin Shkreli and the very American debate over maximizing profit, which notes that "[w]ith job creation, employment and corporate profits all up, yet wages stubbornly stagnant, many Americans feel that the system is flawed."

The article also references Volkswagen’s admission that it cheated on emission tests . . . "'both [stories] show the danger of a corporate culture that eschews basic morality in the pursuit of profit.'"

Read also Mother Jones, You Can't Go to Prison for Destroying the Economy, But Bad Peanut Butter Is Another Story.

Religious CONservatives

"[C]onservatives lament that Francis has de-emphasized the church’s traditional fear and loathing of women and sex. How a church governed by male celibates should have come to view its areas of core competency as gender relations and reproduction is a good question. By returning to the kind of issues that St. Francis and the Nazarene focused on — stewardship of the Earth, championing of the have-nots — Francis has been a great disappointment to those Catholics nostalgic for the spirit, if not the letter, of the Inquisition.

A pope infused by the spirit of St.Francis of Assisi and Jesus poses a threat to the current economic order. Conservatives are right to fear and despise him, as they would be right to fear and despise his role models."

Read  the Washington Post, Pope Francis poses a threat to the current economic order

Wednesday, September 23, 2015

The Insiders Are Dropping, Who Next?

"For a Republican establishment frightened and bewildered by the rise of Donald Trump, Monday's news that Scott Walker would quit the presidential race came as a welcome relief. Walker's exit seems to make it easier for the party's elites to consolidate behind one of the remaining formidable mainstream contenders — generally agreed to be Jeb Bush and Marco Rubio — and stop Trump.

But there's one lingering loose end that should keep the establishment up at night. Namely: with Walker gone, both remaining elite-preferred candidates have big problems with the GOP base on the very issue that propelled Trump to the top of the polls — unauthorized immigration."

Read Vox, With Walker gone, GOP elites have to sell "amnesty" to a base that hates it.

Read also Vox, Jeb Bush should drop out for the good of the Republican Party., which notes that "for months now the Bush campaign has gone nowhere but down. The more people see of Bush, the more they feel 'meh' about him. If he quits now for the good of the party, people will say he was a good man driven by a strong sense of duty and noblesse oblige. If he waits for months as his public support continues to bleed away, he'll be humiliated."

As a reminder, in the beginning there were 17 so-called major candidates: Jeb Bush, Ben Carson, Chris Christie, Ted Cruz, Carly Fiorina, Jim Gilmore, Lindsey Graham, Mike Huckabee, Bobby Jindal, John Kasich, George Pataki, Rand Paul, Rick Perry, Marco Rubio, Rick Santorum, Scott Walker, and Donald Trump.

The Modern Media Cycle, As Explained By 'Pizza Rat'

"Pizza Rat is, per Internet consensus, many lofty things: a spirit animal, 'all of us,' a parable of life in New York City. But as the Internet’s latest viral Phenomenon, in the big-P sense of the word, Pizza Rat is also the perfect case study of how things go viral in 2015."

Read the Washington Post, The three stages of going viral in 2015, according to the Pizza Rat meme.

Tuesday, September 22, 2015

More Republi-CON Budget Lies and Hypocrisy

"A drive to cut federal spending and reduce the national debt has for years topped the Republican Party’s national agenda. But this year, on the campaign trail and on Capitol Hill, curbing the nation’s spending and borrowing no longer appears to be the GOP’s top priority.

The leading GOP contenders for president have emphasized large tax cuts over deficit and debt reduction so far this campaign, a reversal from 2012. In several cases, the candidates’ tax plans are projected to add trillions of dollars to the debt, even using optimistic forecasts for how much economic growth those cuts would spark."

Read the Washington Post, Deficits and debt are no longer at the top of the GOP agenda

Monday, September 21, 2015

Jeb! Who?

UPDATE:  Who said "Barack Obama is a talented man -- and by the way he's an American, he's a Christian."

Read the Washington Post, Jeb Bush responds to Trump: Obama is an 'American, he’s a Christian'.

So much for Jeb!

"If Jeb Bush is going to run for president as something other than a Bush, it will take a transformation worthy of Rachel Dolezal.

And yet the former Florida governor, who once accidentally checked 'Hispanic' on a voter registration form, is doing everything but change his appearance to de-emphasize his inheritance. His presidential campaign logo, introduced over the weekend, is a simple exclamation: 'Jeb!' His brother, the 43rd president, and his father, the 41st president, were not in attendance for his presidential announcement speech in Miami on Monday. He didn’t even mention them until nearly the end."

Read the Washington Post, Jeb Bush runs away from his family name.

Read also the Washington Post, Jeb’s logo can’t hide the troublesome family name, which notes that  that "[t]he logo is Jeb! but voters do know his last name."

Remember All That Republi-CON Doom and Gloom on Obamacare

UPDATE VI:  "Remember how much Republicans wanted to repeal Obamacare?

The Republican majority in the House of Representatives has voted more than 50 times to repeal the law. Conservatives have twice brought challenges to the Supreme Court — a court with powerful voices that often lean in their direction — only to be largely rebuffed both times. The last government shutdown was driven by Republicans who insisted on defunding Obamacare . . .

When it comes to meeting one of its most important goals — providing coverage to the uninsured — it is working extremely well."

Read the Washington Post, The success of the Affordable Care Act is a hugely inconvenient truth for its opponents, which notes that "the success of the ACA strikes at the heart of the dysfunction strategy employed extremely effectively by anti-government conservatives. This is the self-fulfilling-prophecy strategy that campaigns on: 'Washington is broken!' . . .

Never mind that those making that case are the ones doing the breaking."

UPDATE V:  So much for that Republi-con "Obamacare would destroy the economy" myth.

"In a 2011 press conference, John Boehner used the phrase "job killing" once every two minutes. Then in 2012 we had the best year of job creation since 2005. In 2013 we had an even better year of job creation. Then in 2014, we had an even better year, the best since 1999."

The article included this graph:

Read also, the Washington Post, Can someone please print this graph on a T-shirt?! Sharp decline in the uninsured since the ACA came online, which included this graph:

Read Vox, A chart that Obamacare's fiercest critics will have a hard time explaining.

UPDATE IV:  The "uninsured rate has dropped over four points since Obamacare went into effect a year ago — and that the uninsured rate, now at 12.9 percent, is at its lowest point since Gallup began to 'track the measure daily in 2008.'

Gallup describes its findings this way: 'The Affordable Care Act has accomplished one of its goals: increasing the percentage of Americans who have health insurance coverage.'"

Read the Washington Post, As GOP continues denouncing Obamacare as failure, uninsured rate falls yet again

UPDATE III:  It's the 2014 election, curious why you haven't heard more about Obamacare, because it is working.

Read Topix, Stunning Admission From This Republican Governor: Obamacare Helps People.  

UPDATE II:  "One of the many, many, many predictions of Obamacare failure made by conservatives is that insurance companies would systematically drop out of the exchanges. They made this prediction many, many, many, many, many times. The data is starting to come in and, guess what, insurance companies are joining the exchanges. Dan Diamond reports that, in every state that has reported information so far, the number of insurance companies competing in the exchanges will expand in year two."

Read New York Magazine, Today’s Obamacare Non-Train-Wreck News

UPDATE:  Saved by Obamacare:

"Dean Angstadt fells trees for a living.

He's a self-employed, self-sufficient logger who has cleared his own path for most of his 57 years, never expecting help from anyone. And even though he'd been uninsured since 2009, he especially wanted nothing to do with the Affordable Care Act.

'I don't read what the Democrats have to say about it because I think they're full of it,' he told his friend Bob Leinhauser, who suggested he sign up.

That refrain changed this year when a faulty aortic valve almost felled Angstadt. Suddenly, he was facing a choice: Buy a health plan, through a law he despised, that would pay the lion's share of the cost of the life-saving surgery - or die. He chose the former.

'A lot of people I talk to are so misinformed about the ACA,' Angstadt said. 'I was, before Bob went through all this for me. I would recommend it to anybody and, in fact, have encouraged friends, including the one guy who hauls my logs.' . .

Read The Philadelphia Inquirer, Once opposed to ACA, now a convert.

Angstadt  now realizes it was Republi-con lies repreated on Hedgehog News that almost got him killed.  

"All the disasters conservatives have predicted to date have failed to materialize. The website did not have to be rebuilt from scratch. The exchanges did not have to push back their start date. The administrative fix did not render the law unworkable. There has been no actuarial death spiral. Democrats have not called for repeal. All the disasters have simply been pushed further into the future. . .

[N]one of the things conservatives warned about happening have actually transpired. The evidence to date is completely consistent with the hypothesis of success. Costs and premiums have come in under projections, young people have signed up, insurers plan to expand their participation, and actuaries project stable premiums."

Read New York Magazine, Obama Declares Obamacare Victory.

Thursday, September 10, 2015

Go, The Donald, Go, the Colbert Edition

UPDATE :  "Louisiana Gov. Bobby Jindal says the GOP front-runner is an "egomaniacal madman who has no principles" and who risks costing the party its chance to regain the White House. . .

The governor said: 'The silly summer season is over. It's time to get serious about saving our country. It's time to send Donald Trump back to reality TV.'

He called Trump a 'carnival act' and said rivals shouldn't be 'kissing up' to him."

Read MSN, GOP contender Jindal brands Trump a 'madman'

"Sometimes the easy jokes are the best ones, and Stephen Colbert’s first extended bit as host of the Late Show locked in on a very familiar target: the alpha-male, Oreo-boycotting presidential candidate known as Trump."

Read Slate, Colbert Kicked Off His Late Show Reign by Mocking Donald Trump. For Five Minutes Straight.

Or just watch:

Wednesday, September 9, 2015

Slavery, America's Original Sin

"[A]lthough 'The Civil War' may have ended with a surrender, the issues over which the war was fought are far from settled.

'I think in some ways, the subsequent films have convinced me only more certainly of our thing about the war, that it was the central event. Race is one of the things of American culture. I’ve taken a lot of criticism for saying that,' [documentarian Ken] Burns told me when we met in a New York editing studio in May. 'So, doing ‘Jackie Robinson,’ has echoes with Ferguson. Doing ‘Central Park Five’ has echoes back to Emmett Till and some of the realities of slavery. All of the way the Ferguson municipality behaved to its own citizens, its majority citizens, is not dissimilar to the way Jim Crow sharecroppers experienced the pernicious substitute for slavery: ‘Well, if we can’t own you, we have to pay you something, it won’t be very much, but we’re going to own every other aspect of you. And by the way now, since you’re no longer my property, I can kill you with impunity, because you’re not valuable to me.’ … And while there was no law that protected African Americans in slavery, and there were supposedly laws that protected them afterwards, they weren’t applied, and in many cases as we learn with chilling regularity, still aren’t applied.' . .

Burns doesn’t have much patience for narratives about the Civil War that suggest that its causes were anything other than race, pointing squarely at the South Carolina articles of secession: 'Is there the words ‘states’ rights’ in their articles of secession? No. Is the word ‘slavery’ there? Yes. Many times.'

'People say, ‘Oh, it’s about states’ rights.’ ‘It’s about agricultural economics.’ ‘It’s about political differences.’ ‘It’s about social differences,'' he said, running through the list of justifications. 'Yeah, the social differences based on a society that keeps people free or doesn’t pay their laborers. That pays for work or doesn’t pay for work. Right? That creates huge, different societal differences. And certainly it’s political, because as the equilibrium of power that the South had dominated in the presidency and in Congress is being challenged by new states that are increasingly less interested in slavery, they’re interested in taking their ball and going home. That’s the political reality. And the economic stuff? Yeah, they’re afraid that someone’s going to pass a law that’s going to deny them their single greatest wealth, which is the ownership of 4 million other human beings, in 1861 … Slavery is why the Civil War happened. And slavery is still this original sin that Americans have to figure out, somehow, how to transcend and overcome.”

And he’s sharply aware of the way these kinds of obfuscations persist in contemporary political discourse.

'So if the president wasn’t born in the United States, that’s another way of saying the n-word. If he’s Muslim, that’s another way of saying the n-word. All of these things are code, new racial code, for words that now have, at least in public, lost their respectability,' Burns continued, marveling at the way the end of the Civil War only forced white supremacist language and practices to mutate to fit their new circumstances.

Read the Washington Post, From slavery to Ferguson, Ken Burns sees an unfinished Civil War

Tuesday, September 8, 2015

The Business of Religion (And Birthers)

UPDATE IV:  "You can't fault Sheriff Joe Arpaio for lack of chutzpah. The guy continues to beg for campaign donations while his contempt of the federal court in the ACLU's big civil rights case Melendres v. Arpaio is costing us beaucoup bucks. . .

As New Times has previously reported, the price tag for Arpaio's defense in Melendres and the cost of the subsequent reforms imposed by the court after Arpaio's May 2013 loss will be more than $50 million by the end of fiscal year 2016, money that comes straight out of the county's general fund."

Read the Phoenix New Times, Arpaio Begs for Money While His Lawyers Make Bank in Melendres.

UPDATE III:  "Televangelism is still allowing preachers to amass staggering—often tax-exempt—wealth by robbing their congregation’s most vulnerable members blind."

Read Slate, Praise Be to John Oliver, Who Started a Church Just to Expose Televangelists.

And watch:

UPDATE II:  Read CNN, How passing the plate becomes the 'Sunday morning stickup'

UPDATE:  "Over the past two years, Arpaio has raised nearly $5.5 million for his next election in November 2016, according to his campaign-finance reports filed with Maricopa County. . .

Arpaio boasts a fundraising list of more than 250,000 active donors in all 50 states, with the average contribution being $44.26, according to Willems. . .

If Arpaio's campaign coffers exceed $10 million, that would be more than in some congressional races.

'He's made a national reputation for himself. He has capitalized on raising funds nationwide, which many sheriffs cannot do,' Noble said."

Read The Arizona Republic, Arpaio campaign gets $5.5 million from donors past 2 years.

Proving once again the old saying -- a fool and his money are soon parted.

"Pastor Creflo Dollar has spoken to God, and God wants him to buy a $65 million private jet. His congregation, thus far, has obliged his every whim."

Read The Daily Beast, Jesus Wants Me to Have This Jet.

He's not the only 'pastor' who shears his sheeple.

Tuesday, September 1, 2015

The Republi-CON "Less Goverment, More Freedom" Myth, As Told By the Story of Gefilte Fish

"While combing through the most recent Hillary Clinton e-mail dump, a certain, seemingly non-political, but potentially highly controversial message stands out. . .

The subject line, meanwhile, says only: 'Gefilte fish.' . .

[So] why the leading Democratic presidential candidate sent an e-mail with gefilte fish in the subject line while she was serving as secretary of state. "

Read the Washington Post, The story behind the funniest e-mail Hillary Clinton has ever sent.

It seems that under a so-called 'free-trade' agreement Illinois fish was subject to an import tax on entry to the 'Promised Land, and then-Illinois Rep. Don Manzullo, a Republican, "was fretting over the potential tax."

No doubt as a favor to wealthy constituent.  

The story is a sad commentary on politics and power.