Sunday, February 16, 2014

You find little excuses

RJ Eskow and Gaius Publius are scheduled to be tonight's panelists on Virtually Speaking Sundays. They apparently plan to talk about " the mentality of plutocrats and climate.." With Culture of Truth's usual contribution.

Sam Seder's guest the other day on The Majority Report was Melissa Gira Grant, author of Playing The Whore: The Work of Sex Work, and it was a pleasure to hear her saying things I've been saying for years. Most of the criticisms you hear about sex work apply to plenty of other jobs that we don't talk about the same way. Is it a job you take only because you need the money? You mean, as opposed to working in a factory, or for a horrible boss, or as a cleaner? Do miners go down the mines for the view, or for their health?
And here's what might be seen as a companion piece at the Guardian, "Strippers are not the problem - they're just doing a job."

Taibbi, "The Vampire Squid Strikes Again: The Mega Banks' Most Devious Scam Yet [...] All of this was big enough news in itself. But it would take half a generation - till now, basically - to understand the most explosive part of the bill, which additionally legalized new forms of monopoly, allowing banks to merge with heavy industry. A tiny provision in the bill also permitted commercial banks to delve into any activity that is 'complementary to a financial activity and does not pose a substantial risk to the safety or soundness of depository institutions or the financial system generally.' 'From the perspective of the banks,' says Saule Omarova, a law professor at the University of North Carolina, 'pretty much everything is considered complementary to a financial activity.'"

I really wish I could get across to certain of my liberal friends that both sides are funded by the Koch Brothers. You don't get something like the DLC out of nowhere, and when the people who support it are so few and so fringy, there has to be a lot of money behind it to give it the profile - and the success - it's had. "His book's acknowledgments list only sixteen politicians but identify twenty people 'whose support and generosity...made the DLC story possible.' Among them are Jon Corzine, the disgraced financier and former New Jersey governor; Michael Steinhardt, a hedge fund manager, major Republican donor and founder of the defunct neoconservative New York Sun newspaper; and Rich Richman, who recently gave $10 million to Columbia University for a research center directed by R. Glenn Hubbard, former chair of George W. Bush's Council of Economic Advisors. (A Newsweek investigation in 2000 turned up some DLC underwriters that From doesn't mention: Du Pont, Philip Morris, Merck and the Koch brothers.)" That'd be DLC power-boy Al From.

Alex Pareene, "Is one of 'the crazy ones' behind a threatening email sent to House Republicans? [...] Yes, Republicans also think of certain other Republicans as 'the crazy ones.' No, those Republicans do not generally have policy beliefs that differ significantly from those of the crazy ones. One issue that does divide them, though, is the debt ceiling. 'Sane' Republicans exploit the regular mandatory debt ceiling vote by falsely claiming that raising it incurs additional debt, while understanding that raising the limit is necessary. 'The crazy ones,' though, genuinely believe that not raising the debt limit wouldn't end up causing an economic catastrophe, or that somehow causing that catastrophe is necessary in order to finally shrink our bloated federal government. What makes 'the crazy ones' crazy, in fact, is that they genuinely believe the cynical lies - about government debt, global warming, taxes, healthcare, immigration, Democratic Party fiscal policies and so on - that the non-crazy ones have been feeding the rubes for years." Via Atrios.

Jay Ackroyd notes that "Glenzilla's new home has quite the masthead." It sure does. And here's Dan Froomkin on The Terrible Toll of Secrecy.

"You Know Who Else Collected Metadata? The Stasi. The East German secret police, known as the Stasi, were an infamously intrusive secret police force. They amassed dossiers on about one quarter of the population of the country during the Communist regime."

Call for the UN to stop giving anti-drug aid to Vietnam: "The United Nations should immediately freeze anti-drug assistance to Vietnam after the communist country sentenced 30 people to die for drug-related offenses, three human rights groups working to get countries to abolish the death penalty said Wednesday. The call from Harm Reduction International, Reprieve and the World Coalition Against the Death Penalty cites the United Nations Office on Drugs and Crime's internal human rights guidance requiring the organization to stop funding for a country if it's feared that such support may lead to people being executed."

The Odd Man Out and Swamp Rabbit discuss Media Monopoly and the latest (illegal!) assault by Comcast, who bought out Time Warner Cable without, apparently, any concerns by the FCC or Justice.

The History of English in Ten Minutes (Thanks, Moshe!)

This one is about me, I just know it.

I can hear politics in all sorts of things, even this really fine cover of an old Martha & the Vandellas song by Bonnie Raitt.


  1. ifthethunderdontgetya™³²®© said:

    I really wish I could get across to certain of my liberal friends that both sides are funded by the Koch Brothers. That was my eye-opener of the week, number one.

    Number two: Eric Holder was the perp behind Bill Clinton's most egregious pardon.

    I try to spread the word, too. But mostly one just ended up being castigated as a purity troll who lets the perfect be the enemy of the good, and it's your fault that G.W. Bush and Dick Cheney took over the country.This is why my blog tends to focus on birdie pictures.

  2. CMike said:

    Here's Sam Seder, despite the good offices of Ian Haney-Lopez, winning this month's Digby which is awarded to that Democrat who makes time flow like a dammed up river, on and on, to nowhere, until it's all gonna be gone forever.

    [33:56] Berkeley law professor and author of Dog Whistle Politics Ian Haney-Lopez: So I think that is a really good point. I would amend it slightly, I would say we need to start talking about racism-s. Racism, racial animosity, this is a complex social phenomena, it's going to take many different forms, and so I think we want to preserve an ability to say, "Listen, there are people out there today who are full White Supremacists, Klan, Skinhead types." And we want to understand that's out there. We also want to understand that there are people out there who think they are genuinely people of good will but also subscribe to myths of minority inferiority, minority criminality, minority irresponsibility, all right, and that's the sort of cultural racism that many political operatives try and take advantage of.

    Here's another racism I think we need to start to talk about, strategic racism. Strategic racism is not rooted in racial animosity, nor is it rooted in a sort of subscription to cultural ideas. Strategic racism is purposeful, calculating efforts to use racial anxiety in society to one's own benefit...

    Sam Seder: Right.

    Ian Haney-Lopez: ...and what I'm saying is [the] Republican Party at the elite level, Fox News at the elite level, Roger Ailes, Mitt Romney, Lee Atwater, these people are "strategic racists." They may or may not have black friends, but they have made the conscious decision to use race, to use racial divisions in society as a way for them to achieve their own agenda.

    [36:40] Sam Seder: I couldn't agree more with that assessment. You've got guys like Ron Paul who sort of just did it as almost like a quasi-political commercial stand point in using that in his news letters back in the day, that he "didn't ever read," that only the guy he hired sent out a bunch of those.

    And I also think that this is not unrelated to the rise in- ostensibly it is libertarianism but I get calls from these people all the time where their libertarianism is just a function of the federal government. They don't have a problem with the state government taking away their rights, it's just that they want state powers, they're really neo-Confederates. There has been a rise of that type of politics in the guise of being libertarianism as well, it's the same old thing.

    So, if this is the case, what do we do about this? I mean if it is the case that we- what happens next? How do we get past this, do we just simply have to wait for a lot of older white people to die off essentially or what?


    1. ...continued

      Ian Haney-Lopez: Demography is not going to save us. This is not going to be something that just goes away. I mean I think that Democrats have been hoping that this will just go away for fifty years. This has been the standard advice- is eventually the bigots will die off. But this isn't just about bigots, this is about these cultural norms and it's about strategic racists who are constantly reinventing it so that this sort of racial politics is a powerful now as it was in 1970. So no, we can't wait.

      What do we need to do? One thing we need to do is we need to understand why these racial narratives are so powerful, and they're powerful because people need a way to understand what's going on in their lives, and they need a sense of who exactly is to blame for the fact that their pensions have been wiped out, the schools are no good [sic], all of that, right?

      Some commentator said, "Resentment abhors a vacuum," and I think that is exactly right. We need to tell people who's at fault, who's doing this and that means that liberals need to reclaim a liberal mantle that says, not only, "We need to pull government back onto the side of the middle class," but we need to understand that concentrated wealth is working actively to take government over so that it serves them and rigs the game in their favor.So one thing we need to do, we need to tell people who's really at fault for an economy that now showers incredible wealth on the very wealthy but is really bad for the rest of us.

      That's one thing. Another thing we need to do is we need to reclaim our commitment to liberal policies that we know work to help the broad middle class, and by middle class I mean not just the people with a 100 to $200,000 in income, I mean middle class in that New Deal sense which included all the working folks who were struggling to rise up out of poverty and into the middle class. But we need to reinvigorate the concept of a middle class, of government for the middle class and liberal policies that help everybody.

      [39:06] And a third thing we need to do is we need to be prepared to take head-on these claims that government is just for minorities because that's the claim that meets almost every sort of proposal for liberal reforms, "This is just going to be a give away for minorities." We need to take it head-on in part through discussions exactly like this, to say here's the dynamics, here's the rhetoric they use, here's how they're trying to manipulate and bamboozle us and here's how we can respond by saying, "We are not going to be divided by race anymore. We realize that what's going to be good for the whole country is going to be good for everybody, whites and non-whites alike, and that we need to stop being divided by race in a way that ultimately helps the very, very rich."


    2. This comment has been removed by the author.

  3. ...continued

    [39:58] Sam Seder: How, I mean just based on, and I know we gotta go in a moment, but just based on the idea Goldwater could convince people that even though he harbored such disdain for New Deal policies that literally brought them electricity, that he was talking to people who could remember as being a young child or a teenager, not having electricity in their homes, that really the idea of scapegoating minorities was more powerful than what they literally, than the idea that they could go and flick on a switch and have light in their house. How can we- if it's possible to do what you're talking about at this stage, what has changed?

    Is it simply that racism has become muted and become less concentrated and more of an abstraction, because we are also- the value of the New Deal is also become more of an abstraction in some ways and is hindered by the fact that we don't have people who remember when old people couldn't rely on a retirement.

    [41:17] Ian Haney-Lopez: Yeah, I think that's a great question. I think one way to understand this that something has changed is that we have an African-American president. Something dramatic has changed in race, and I think the old sort of racism, the incredible fear that many Southern white men had in 1964, that has ameliorated. It is not as powerful, as all consuming as it once was, and I also think it's important, it's not just that racism has ameliorated somewhat that it's not quite as potent but, it is also that, demographically, we're a changing country, and this is a very important point too, I also think we have had fifty years of the same narrative. That is, that minorities are a threat and if you just vote for conservatives we'll go back to those golden days when-- the sort of golden Leave It to Beaver days. Fifty years after that narrative we actually see that what we return to was the Great Depression.

    I think the American public, white and non-white is really hungry for a new narrative about what happened and why and how we can move forward and I think nothing exemplifies it better than Barack Obama's 2008 campaign when he promised change he was really talking about offering a new way forward that had broad appeal across classes, across age groups, and across races. Now, he abandoned that. Even in his inaugural address he abandoned that analysis and, instead, picked up the Republican frame that the problem was big government and that the solution was tax cuts.

    I thought then, I think now that was insane. He had a moment when he could have told a new narrative to the American people and it's a narrative that I think people are hungry for. Instead he reverted to Republican frames and he ended up getting slammed by it because, then, the only narrative [that] was out there was the story that the government is the enemy because it's by and for minorities, but I think that hunger, that readiness for a new sort of understanding of what has happened to us and why, how we've been misled, how we've been divided by race in a way that only helps the very rich, I think people are hungry for it...

    Sam Seder: Yeah.

    Ian Haney-Lopez: ...and I think it's not going to be quick, it's not going to be 2014, it might not be 2016 but we need to begin to tell this story so we can begin to understand what has happened to us and so that we can see the way forward is to reclaim liberalism but a liberalism that refuses to be divided by race.

    Sam Seder: Professor Ian Haney Lopez, the author of Dog Whistle Politics: How Coded Racial Appeals Have Reinvented Racism and Wrecked the Middle Class, thanks so much for your time today, genuinely appreciated it.

    Ian Haney-Lopez: Thank you. Very enjoyable conversation.

    Sam Seder: Bye-bye.


  4. ...continued

    Sam Seder: All right folks...

    [Sound effects malfunction]

    ...Oops. We're going to take a break- you know he went to law school with, we didn't have a chance to talk to- he went to law school with President Obama, and I think he also went to high school with President Obama.

    Michael Brooks: Wow.

    Sam Seder: Yeah. There you have it.

    Michael broke his computer.

    Matt Binder: [Laughing]

    Sam Seder: All right folks, we're going to take a break and then we're going to head into the fun half. What do we have for you in the fun half? Just a- you know, I know, we shouldn't spend too much time on really just how cataclysmically stupid Gretchen Carlson is, but sometimes you can't help it.

    Laura Ingraham- much of what Professor Haney-Lopez was talking about is something we talk about every day on this program and there is always an example of it. Laura Ingraham gives us probably not the most recent because I think she said this yesterday, but the latest example of it. I am not as convinced as the professor is, and maybe it's more just sort of a certain politeness but appealing to racial anxieties and the resonance of that appeal I think is a function of racism. I don't know, we can slice and dice what racism is, strategic racism, subconscious racism...

    Michael Brooks: It seems to me there wouldn't be a market for the type of- I think "strategic racism" is a really smart way of putting it, but there has to be a market for strategic racism...

    Sam Seder: That's exactly...

    Michael Brooks: ...and that was what confused me.

    Sam Seder: ... that's my point with the gold mine.

    Michael Brooks: Yeah, yeah.

    [46:33] Sam Seder: You know- you're a gold miner, there's got to be gold otherwise you're really not doing well. But be that as it may, I think the point remains: what is really important, and this is why I say, and I'm certainly not the first person to say this, that race really is the central story of American politics; I mean of American society since it's inception in many respects. That race, when we talk about America, race is still the fundamental driver of our politics and in some respects it is fundamental in that it obscures this dynamic that even guys like- you know, Thomas Frank wrote a similar book in some, in many respects, What's the Matter with Kansas?, maybe not perceiving much of the social identification is, are surrogates for race in some ways. Right?

    I mean the- if you perceive the government as simply a way of transferring your wealth to minorities, to immigrants and you are also simultaneously concerned that you need to have to have a weapon to fight your government some day that line's not so far, right? I mean it is- what you're talking about is when the black people come for me that's why I need my A K. So- let's take a break and head into the funner half...