Archive for the ‘Class Warfare’ Category

Updated to include title, that I stupidly forgot the first time around

From the party of “Screw you, I’ve got mine”, aka, the Republican Party, the House voted to cut $40 billion from the food stamp program.  These are the same guys that voted for farm subsidies that they themselves line their pockets with.  Some Representatives get more money from those subsidies than many Americans earn in an entire year.  For example, Agriculture Committee Chairman Frank Lucas (R-OK) received $40,000 in subsidies because he owns “a farm”.  Michelle Bachmann (R-MN) has received about $250,000 for her little farm.  Just imagine, making a quarter of a mill’ just for “owning” a family farm.  Hell, with free money like that who needs to plant crops!  Oh, did I mention that Rep. Lucas gets a daily meal allowance of $127.41.  I could feed my family for a week and a half on that much money.  To justify their votes, many Republicans are actually quoting (actually misquoting) Jesus.  Yep, supposed Christians are using Jesus to defend their willingness to let the poor go hungry.  Is there no low to which they won’t stoop?

Food Stamps is one of the most efficient and fraud-free programs we have in this country.  Serving over 40 million people, 95% of which live at 130% below the poverty line and half of those live below HALF the poverty line–that means a family of four trying to live off of $12,500 a year.  If you can’t wrap your mind around that figure…we’re talking someone who works full-time for $6.50 an hour at a greasy fast food chain or busing tables.  They can’t even afford to eat the crappy food they sell every day.   According to the Republicans, these people need to eat less and work harder.    Here’s some good news.  92% of program funding goes toward actual benefits–that is a tremendous rate of success.  Republican spending on other programs, like the unfunded wars in Iraq and Afghanistan, can’t even come close to that kind of success.  For both wars there were about 260,000 contractors suckling at the government teat.  Of the $60 billion spent, $40 billion was waste.  Pause, let that sink in.  Here’s another interesting stat.  For every full work day we were paying a contracted worker they actually only worked 15% of the time.

So I have to ask, who are the lazy people again?  It ain’t the poor in America.  They work their asses off to make next to nothing and now the House is asking them to tighten their belts because, boo hoo, we have a national debt.  When GWB came into office we had a surplus and that got spent on the most ill-considered war in our nation’s history.  The lower classes sent their young men and women to die in those distant lands.  To top that off wealthy investors gambled with the Middle Class’ retirement funds by investing in bundled mortgages that they KNEW were bad and crashed the world’s economy.  And now, NOW, they want to ask the poor to tighten their belts to fix the deficit?!  The poor aren’t causing the deficit but they’re obviously easy to pick on.

No, the ones who are actually lazy, the ones who get paid for doing nothing are Congress members and their contractor buddies.  If the US is failing economically it’s not the result of laziness on the part of the working public.  It’s because the politicians and their business cronies have become leeches on the system.  The Republican party is willing to starve the hardworking people on the lower rungs of our society in order to feed the greed of the wealthiest and most powerful.  It is as disgusting and immoral as it gets.  Sadly, most of the people on food stamps are white.  And they will vote for Republicans anyway because they’re too afraid a liberal (particularly of the brown or female persuasion)  will get into the White House again.  They believe the lies they are being told–the lies they hear on the FOPGOX 24/7 outrage machine and conspiracy filled talk radio nuts…the lies that say “those people” are coming for their guns, their liberty and their religion.

We’re getting to the point where “let them eat cake” actually sounds generous by comparison.

Sources:

http://nymag.com/daily/intelligencer/2013/09/republicans-we-were-too-nice-to-the-hungry.html

http://www.newrepublic.com/blog/plank/104921/republican-conservative-cut-snap-food-stamps-obama-bush

http://www.bloomberg.com/news/2011-08-16/bachmann-has-income-from-subsidized-farm.html

http://www.pbs.org/newshour/bb/government_programs/july-dec11/warcontracts_09-01.html

http://talkingpointsmemo.com/livewire/gop-rep-on-food-stamp-cuts-if-anyone-is-not-willing-to-work-let-him-not-eat

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George Orwell, author of 1984, has been rolling in his grave for nigh on 20 years now because the modern conservative movement in the US have become so masterful at using “doublespeak“.  I was trying to write a post about immigration reform when I stumbled across a Fox News article (WARNING:  clicking and reading Fox News may be hazardous to your health) about a group that wants to build a wall all the way across the U.S./Mexican border–all 2,000 miles of it.  Not only is that impractical in both terms of construction costs and the nightmare of logistics in maintenance, it’s not who we should be as a nation.  Anyway, the name of the group advocating the fence?  “Let Freedom Ring, Inc”.  Is it just me or does a wall represent anything but freedom.  Walls force people to stay in and stay out.  It forces someone in authority to monitor that situation and restrict the flow of people through it.  That’s not freedom, it’s increased governmental control.  It’s authoritarianism.

These thoughts prompted me to create a list of my all time favorite “doublespeak” phrases from the GOP and their true meaning.

  • “No Child Left Behind” is really “Every Child Left Behind”–it was a resounding failure and until it was recently reformed, and now it’s only mildly failing.
  • “Compassionate Conservatism” is really “Fuck you, I’ve got mine but I might occasionally donate privately to non-governmental charities so long as I can claim it on my taxes”
  • “Clearing the market” is really “Foreclose on those houses and get it done, quickly so we can get back to making profits”
  • “Class warfare” is really “Any challenge, legitimate or not, against the rich”
  • “All of the Above Energy Policy” is really “No policy, no plan, no diversity, just drill”
  • “Activist Judges” is really “Any judge that makes a decision that doesn’t follow a literal interpretation of the Constitution unless the judge is a conservative, then he/she can do whatever they want”
  • “Patriot Act” is really “The government can spy on you and violate your civil rights and if you don’t like it, you’re not a patriot”
  • “Discovery Institute” is a conservative think-tank.   One might think from the name that they are scientific, looking into new and exciting things that would better society or exploring new frontiers.  Nope.  Their primary purpose is to force Christianity further down the throats of their fellow Americans by advocating for Creationism in Science classes, instructing conservative voters how to vote as God would, etc, etc.  That’s the opposite of discovery.
  • “American Enterprise Institute for Public Policy Research”  You might think that the term Enterprise refers to Capitalism, so you might expect that their main focus is economic policy.  Nope.  You might expect to see research coming out about what policies worked and what didn’t and then recommendations on what policies the public should implement.  Nope.  See research (in the Social Sciences and Public Policy) is where you start out with a hypothesis, then you do a survey of what’s been implemented and the results, to see if that hypothesis is true or not.   Then you base your recommendations off of that study.  Example Hypothesis:  Alternative sentencing by Drug Courts reduces the rates of incarceration and recidivism (i.e., re-offending).  Example Survey:  There are tons of states who have tried this over the years and in most cases, they found that yes, Drug Courts were helpful in getting drug users out of the system because they increase the odds of the person getting treatment and not just punishment alone.  Example Conclusion:  Drug Courts are recommended and here are some best practices to follow.  The Enterprise Institute does the EXACT opposite. They start with a premise:  defend conservative principles like capitalism and limited government.  So they go out and find examples that support that premise and ignore the ones that don’t.  If they can’t find anything to support their premise, they make stuff up or lie about what they find.  So, no research and no real enterprise.
  • “PEPFAR – President’s Emergency Plan for AIDS Relief” – A G.W. Bush-era law that provided $15 billion to African nations for the relief of AIDS.  What most people don’t know is that there were three VERY big impediments built into the law.  First, the law barred funding for organizations that operate programs overseas but do not have a blanket policy opposing prostitution and sex trafficking.  On the face that seems reasonable.  But NGO’s (like the Red Cross) don’t have policies like this because those statements alienate the people they are trying to help and gets in the way.  For example, in Africa one of the primary means of HIV transmission was through prostitution.  Such policies would be like setting up a Red Cross tent and then putting a neon sign out front that says, “we hate prostitutes”.  Not too many prostitutes would come to them for medication or counseling and the source of the problem would not be addressed.*  Second, the law required that one-third of all the monies be directed toward abstinence-until-marriage programs and excluded comprehensive approaches, i.e., the NGO’s couldn’t discuss male and female condoms.  Why was this a problem?  Again, it’s societal.  In Africa one of the primary ways that AIDS/HIV was spread was through heterosexual intercourse (this is not true in most other parts of the world).  Not offering condoms and counseling on those methods and telling the average male to simply abstain in most cases means that man will have sex, contract HIV and will pass it on.  Third, the law did not provide any funding for needle exchange programs.  This is a BIG deal and is one the key strategies to preventing the spread of HIV.   So, in essence there was very little actual relief going on and a whole lot of imposition of American Christianist** religious values.  In the end, this law did little to actually help prevent the spread of HIV in Africa and most likely has resulted in more people dying as a result.  Probably should have just called it “PEPFSA – President’s Emergency Plan for Spreading AIDS”.
  • “Mission accomplished” in May 2003, was……do I need to spell it out for ya?

    Mission NOT Accomplished

    Mission NOT Accomplished

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Notes:

*Fortunately, the U.S. Supreme Court struck down this provision of the law by a vote of 6-2 in June 2013.

**I’m going to start referring to the conservative Christian movement in the US as either Christianist or the US Taliban, because they certainly not real Christians.  There are multiple instances in the Bible where Jesus helped someone first without questioning their moral choices in life.  He also looked at people as humans capable of great love and not as just a bundle of past sins that predict future behavior.  We’re all so much more than our past failings, thank goodness!  One of my favorite stories is the time he had dinner with a Pharisee (Luke 7:36-50) where a prostitute attended Jesus by washing his feet and anointing him with oil, doing him great honor, whereas the Pharisee did nothing.  Jesus concludes:

“Therefore I say to you, her sins, which are many, are forgiven, for she loved much. But to whom little is forgiven, the same loves little.”  Luke 7:47

My mind has been on women’s issues more and more lately and I’m not sure why.  I suspect it is because over the last few years the reality of being a single parent has really hit me, particularly in the pocketbook, and that reality through the prism of being female just makes societal offenses that much more noticeable.  With that context in mind, you can imagine how I reacted to the story that women pay $151 billion more than men for services, products….well, just about everything!

I knew that there were some things that were unfair but this shows everything…even our mortgages and car loans. That just blew my mind.  So the next time a man bitches about how poor he is because he has to pay child support, I’m going to say “just shut up”.  Because there is no way in hell what the average man pays in child support (not alimony, but child support) covers the actual cost of what he would have spent on that child if had he stayed married.  And it has been proven, time and time again, that after a divorce a man’s income increases on average 43% and a woman’s decreases about 38%.  Now we find out that not only will she make less, she’ll have to pay more for everything AND she is more likely to have the kids the majority of the time (although the custody time thing is slowly changing).

So that story just primed the pump, as it were and really prepared me to hear the misogyny and financial patriarchy loud and clear in other stories.  For instance, if you watched, listened or read about the State of the Union speech, you would know that the President made a pledge to expand preschool to every child in the nation.

No sooner were the words out of his mouth before conservative bloggers, TV pundits and anonymous commenters just about everywhere online were screaming “Soshulism!” and telling us how preschool doesn’t even work so why do it.  Except, it does work.  In fact, a now famous longitudinal study found that the effect of preschool versus those who did not experience it were profound.  Kids who attended preschool were less likely to be arrested, less likely to have been on welfare, earned significantly more money, and were more likely to graduate from high school and to own a home than those children who had not attended preschool.    Other studies have found similar good results….but hey, let’s just leave those poor kids in the projects to fend for themselves, because that ALWAYS turns out well and we NEVER have to pay any taxes to take care of them later, right?!

To add insult to injury, the preschool proposal was cast by some conservatives as some kind of giveaway and some really emphasized that it was a special gift to women.  As if we’re the only ones with a stake in having kids under the age of 5 ready for school and safe.  It’s a gift to the entire nation if we can reduce the number of kids who end up in prison and increase the number of healthy workers who pay taxes and participate in our Democracy.  Sounds like a damn fine investment to me.  But wait, I know they don’t like to invest in “other people’s” children.  If that’s the case they need to go live on a deserted island because there isn’t a single civilized society on the planet that doesn’t insist that people actually give a shit about “other people’s” kids.  That’s why it’s called a society.

Okay, so that all really irked me and then I read this little gem of a story.   The conservative tea party Super-Pac and advocacy group, Freedom Works, seems to have a blind spot when it comes to treating women respectfully–big surprise, right?  If you don’t believe me, check out this article about a sex tape with Hilary Clinton and a panda that Freedom Works president, Matt Kibbe, took the time out of his busy schedule to make.  Family values, my ass…..

How about society-wide family values that understands that it matter if we invest in some basic preparation and skill set to start out in life with for everyone’s kids.  Because in truth the rich and upper middle classes can afford this kind of thing.  The rest of the nation can’t.  And it isn’t doing us any good in the increasingly competitive global marketplace.

Furthermore, there is more proof that the effects of poverty and wealth last more than just one generation.    According to Jason Long of Wheaton College and Joseph Ferrie of Northwestern University,

An analysis of three generations shows that in both America and Britain the effect of high (or low) incomes in one generation lasts for at least two more.

I’ve harped on this several times before….what happens to my financial status will affect my grandchildren. Now apply this to what happened to the freed slaves in America.  Think of the millions of people who dropped out of the Middle Class or who are now barely clinging to their Middle Class status as the result of the recent Recession.  The rich, who were predominately not affected by the Recession and of whom many actually increased their wealth, are thinking this kind of thing doesn’t matter, they are sorely mistaken.  The gap between the 1% and the rest of us has been growing and if that gap is not decreased and if the Middle Class doesn’t recover, this Democracy is going to fall.  It’s as simple as that.

So, yeah, I’m an example of a much, much larger trend.  The trend that shows us that the patriarchy, particularly the financial disadvantages of women and minorities and minority women and therefore their children, has some very negative and long lasting consequences.  I can see the big picture here.   Can you?  Can the conservatives?  No, I suspect they aren’t looking any further than my vagina because I heard today that Indiana is now considering not one but two forced transvaginal probes for women who have the nerve to get an abortion.   Conservatives need to stop worrying about our vaginas and start worrying about how this nation is slowly getting destroyed by bigotry, ignorance, the predatory rich and their greedy corporations.

Remember when the Romney campaign said they weren’t using “dog whistles”?  Remember how they said they cared about all of America?  Well, it turns not to be true–surprise!  Apparently, it was the white middle and upper class voters that mattered more according to Romney’s chief strategist, Stuart Stevens.

On Nov. 6, Romney carried the majority of every economic group except those with less than $50,000 a year in household income. That means he carried the majority of middle-class voters.
…..
There was a time not so long ago when the problems of the Democratic Party revolved around being too liberal and too dependent on minorities. Obama turned those problems into advantages and rode that strategy to victory.
…..
Republican ideals — Mitt Romney — carried the day. On Nov. 6, that wasn’t enough to win. But it was enough to make us proud and to build on for the future.

Shorter Stevens, the white people who matter voted for our ideas so we won a moral victory and will keep building on that for future elections. What a rational, pragmatic person should say in this situation would be, “Wow, we lost women, all of the minorities 1, too many in the middle class 2, and the fastest growing part of the population which accounted for 53% of the population. Maybe we’re doing something wrong!” No, instead the GOP is signaling that the 47% that voted for them, particularly those white folks, was good enough for them. So they’ll hunker down using the same failed strategies to motivate white voters that were so concisely detailed by Lee Atwater 3 and reinforced by jerks like Bill O’Reilly and Rush Limbaugh 4. Kind of makes you wonder, who was really engaged in class warfare?

From a practical campaign point of view I say keep on keeping on. Once whites begin to lose their majority status (which is happening as we speak) the GOP won’t win another major election until they change their ways. From a moral viewpoint, Stevens’ opinion and anyone that supports it in the GOP is insulting and wrong. From a long-term view maybe we will be better off as a country if the GOP dies this slow death. Maybe a new party that truly champions conservative ideas without using hate, and religious intolerance, and one that lacks a frothing at the mouth desperation can finally come into being. Then we could actually discuss the issues instead of the wedges.  I’m allowed to dream once in a while, right?

Notes:
1. For example, Asian Americans who used to heavily favor Republican candidates made a dramatic shift to support President Obama.  Why?  The evidence seems to suggest that they, like me and many other whites who voted for Obama, didn’t vote solely on their own best interests.  That they voted based on a principle belief in the American Dream and to them the President best represented that American Dream….a point I have made on this blog, many, many times.  To me, President Obama is the quintessential example of  the American Dream and I heavily identify with it, as do many hard working, successful Asian Americans.

2. BTW, I’m white, middle class and Romney didn’t win my vote and there were tons more like me…why? Because we don’t believe that we are the only face of this country. We don’t think our interests are more important than other citizens’ interests….we love our country, every diverse part of it. We are capable of empathy, selflessness, and long-term thinking. By voting for Obama we could not only look out for our own interests but the interests of many others. With Romney there was a choice between “us” and “them”. I reject that kind of narrow thinking and I’m glad the majority of America did too.  

3.  Known as the “Southern Strategy” it now appeals to white folks in places like Wyoming, Kansas and Indiana.  It’s no coincidence that as white’s lose their majority status in this country that more and more white ears can now hear this kind of appeal.  Nothing opens the eyes and ears than the loss of privilege and it’s part of why extremists in the GOP appear to be increasingly desperate (and clinging to desperate hopes like secession).  

4. Bill O’Reilly and all the other GOP operatives masquerading as journalists, pundits and blowhards who said the President won because he was “giving away” stuff…you’re wrong. For example, in 2014 when insurance companies can no longer reject me for pre-existing conditions I will have to pay about $18,000 a year out of pocket for that health insurance, which does not include co-pays, prescription costs, extra lab fees, etc. Does that sound free to you? And this will apply to everyone else in the same boat. Even if we had a Single Payer health care system it wouldn’t be free because we ALL pay taxes in one form or another. So eff off with your lies about “free gifts” and Obama as Santa bullshit.

UPDATE:  In retrospect we may not actually be the hardest working people on the entire planet, but I was angry when I wrote this post–so sue me!  I know that we’re definitely pretty high for the number of hours worked every year….

In regards to the exploding news of a secretly recorded video featuring Romney saying that half of Ameria (47%) don’t pay income taxes and are therefore “moochers”, dependent on the system and therefore will vote for Obama (because we all get a check from him and Soros personally, dontchaknow)….did you hear his tone?  His confidence?  This is not the Mitt we have seen on TV.  This is the REAL Mitt.  Not the bumbling, stumbling, foot in the mouth embarrassment.  But a confident businessman laying out his thoughts and his strategy.

On the Intertubes a lot of conservative voters are trying to focus on welfare, but that is NOT what Mittens was talking about.  He was talking about the 47% that don’t pay Federal Income Taxes.  I wrote a response to a few of these posters.  Here it is:

First of all, Romney wasn’t saying 47% are on welfare–he said 47% don’t pay federal income taxes. The true number is 39%. Of that 39% the majority are retired people. People who have worked their butts off their entire life. They never made much and they didn’t have pensions. Majority of these elderly people can no longer work due to age and/or illness The rest of the 39% are working families. Did you read that closely? Working. They work at the convenience stores and fast food restaurants, at the big chain discount stores, at the gas stations, at grocery stores, they go to college. They work but they don’t make enough to end up owing income taxes. So they’re not moochers, they’re working people who are just trying to live. Now these same people ALL pay taxes. They pay state taxes (because you can get a federal refund but still owe state taxes). They pay local taxes and property taxes (if they own any). They pay sales taxes. And a greater percentage of their earning[s] go towards sales tax than any other segment of the population. If you only [make] $20,000 a year, an extra 2 cents on every jug of milk adds up. If you make $100,000 a year, you won’t even notice it. Some of these 39% are middle class families. They have a few kids, a mortgage and they are putting money pre-tax into 401ks. They end up not owing any taxes or get a refund. That’s me….that’s a lot of you. What most of you on here don’t realize is that Romney was talking about YOU!!!!!!

Romney essentially called half of America moochers and a lot of people on here agree. Really, half of America? C’mon people. Are you going to vote for a man that thinks HALF of America are moochers? That’s not who we are. We are (and this can be factually proven) the hardest working country on the planet.

An important lesson here for the “One Percenters” is if you are going to say shitty things about “THOSE people” you had better be sure “THOSE people” filling your water glass, making your cocktail and serving your food don’t have cameras in their pockets because they REALLY don’t like being called moochers while having to politely wait on your dumb, over-privileged ass.  Apparently liberals aren’t the only ones who are focusing on class and trying to use wedge issues.  If the richest people in America calling the rest of us moochers isn’t class warfare, I don’t know what the fuck is.

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*I corrected some typos in my post using brackets

**Sorry about the cursing, but people born with silver spoons in their mouths dissing people like me (I get a tax refund most years and I have been working steadily with only one 6 month break since I was 14 years old) REALLY, REALLY pisses me off.

You must read this post by Zandar at Balloon-Juice.com. He says exactly what I think about our current economic situation but in a much funnier and more precise fashion.

We’re just too dumb to get how we’ve been mauled economically by people in Range Rovers with East Hampton beach permits. If we truly understood that nearly 95% of the economic income growth over the last few years went to just the top 1% in this country, if we truly grasped what that meant, we’d be out there playing “Who Wants To Pitchfork A Millionaire?”

This, a million, bazillion times this:

What They Think They’re Saying:

“Come on, we’re all in this together! It’s not like I have infinite money.”

What We Hear:

“When my family’s Aruba vacation went over budget, that was exactly like you being unable to afford medication for your child’s excruciating chronic illness!”

Read the entire article and it sums up what I have been trying to say to people who claim to be bootstrapper libertarians with nary a need for the rest of us:  http://www.cracked.com/blog/6-things-rich-people-need-to-stop-saying/