Category Archives: rich vs poor

I really like Jimmy Kimmel

If you put Jimmy Kimmel in this blog’s search engine you will find four posts (now five) with the talk show host’s name in them. Its ironic given what prompted this post that in this one I said of Jimmy what I’ve said recently of the newest Supreme Court Justice that Jimmy’s show had the reputation of being “a bawdy frat show.”

The video below is a repeat of a wonderful, dead on, song I just posted. Jimmy Kimmel who has become anything but a male chauvinist saw it too. This time Lynzy Lab is accompanied by a chorus. I am a sucker for human decency and I teared up. So did Claudia when she saw it.

When my daughter was in college and started going to “raves” I worried for her. It wasn’t only frat boys and father figure Bill Cosby who slipped knock out drugs in women’s drinks. In the old days getting a girl drunk was supposed to an invitation for sex but that wasn’t good enough for some guys. Pro Choice hero, Senator Bob Packwood was exposed thirty years ago for giving woman a mysterious pink drink which clouded their memories. I can’t find a quick google reference to the drink but look at this old SNL cold opening from 1993.

Its always been a scary time for fathers of young women. But I bet a lot of them are the same fathers who are going to Trump rallies to preserve what made America great.

I told Claudia that the silver lining in the Trump Presidency is that it has pointed a Klieg light on men. She agreed and said that at a women’s book club yesterday everyone agreed that the Trump presidency was exposing racism and sexism as never before. Here’s the video from the Kimmel Show:

How are the Republicans attempting to save themselves? Through duplicity, cheating and the theft of votes. That the worst of this is happening in the Republican south is testament to how wrong the Robert’s Court was to shelve the monitoring of the South’s notoriously racist election laws.

But don’t worry. Our President loves black folks. Why as Florida was being pummeled to smithereens by hurricane Michael he chose to have a press conference with his most loyal black supporter:

On the pretext of stopping “rampant” but, in fact, almost non-existent voting fraud all the deep south and many other Trump heavy states now require photo IDs. Its not like to good old days in the 1940’s when a rich Texas oil man could give a poor Mexican American five bucks to vote for anyone who was against the oil depletion allowance that kept them rich. Now those Mexicans might vote for a Democrat instead and have to be prevented from voting by any means necessary.

The PBS Vietnam Series gets me thinking

I watched all the Stanley Karnow episodes in the 1990’s about Vietnam but I think Kevin Burns will bring a little more nuance at a time when it can be digested by the folks who weren’t born and didn’t live through the war. I agree with Burns that our actions during this war divided America. However, I also believe that the entire Civil Rights Era was an equal partner in this division having predated it by 200 years.

My eight loyal readers know that I put a disproportionate blame on the GOP for all our woes. That war became a sort of substitute for Civil Rights because it simply became impossible to be an avowed racist after Martin Luther King. But being a patriot – that was different. Many folks could use “America First” or “Better Red than Dead” or the “Domino Theory” in place of race baiting to hang their political hats on. Ditto the Pro-life movement. For years northerners thumbed their noses at “racist” southerners, never mind their own urban red lining and segregation, and “saving babies” gave southern Baptist types the same sense of moral superiority to throw back at northern baby killing sophisticates.

Over time the GOP, which had beat the Democrats up over catering to special interests – blacks, latinos, women’s libbers and unions, became their own assortment of special interests, patriots, pro-lifers, pro-NRA, and “small government” (code for don’t make us integrate.)

In time the GOP got so virulent about removing RINO’s like me that they perfected “primarying” by which they defeated “liberal” Republican office holders and purged a formerly pro-civil rights party of moderates. Of course, the Democrats did something similar if less rigorously.

As much as I bemoan the “demagogue” Trump I can see his allure to folks who feel neglected and I can even see that the promise of turning politics on its head might just improve our politics. His base has not yet rebelled when he’s worked out deals with Democrats. In an odd way his manner and his supporter’s devotion are acting as a rebuke to Republican stuffed shirts……the same folks who went along with the purge of liberal Republicans like me because it kept working to keep the Congress in their hands.

All those moderate Republican Presidential candidates Trump whipped for the nomination……they were the same folks who stood by as the Republican Party got more white, more angry and more self righteous. They were also the great exponents of free trade which blue collar converts to Republicanism are so fed up with.

But back to Burns and Vietnam.

I hope his ten part series can put some of the ghosts of that era to rest. My story during that Era can be summed up this way:

My family raised me to revere my Grandfather who was awarded the Congressional Medal of Honor. He was both for staying out of foreign wars, which he blamed on Democrats, and for supporting our troops no matter how stupid the war was once we were stuck in one.

As a college student in the 1970’s I couldn’t reconcile the contradictions that this dual policy required. I was embarrassed for not being a part of the war as I objected to it. But the WW II generation fixed it so that future wars, like Vietnam, would be fought by poor kids while college students were exempted. Even then I saw that as grossly unfair while I was going to college with a draft number of 41, low enough to insure I’d go into the service if I quit college.

And what a hideous war it was making America complicit in evil doings that turned the stomach and the mind. Thus it always is with war. As Robert E. Lee said: “It is well that war is so terrible, otherwise we should grow too fond of it.”

If America can survive Donald Trump without succumbing to his call of “America First” maybe he will succeed in answering the hopes of his most ardent supporters to break out of the gridlock that has made our politics so lamentable in recent years. He may do it by killing the “Party of Lincoln.” That is, if the Republicans themselves haven’t already accomplished it.

Pickle relish and ketchup on my Deep State, Please?

Mother nature woke me at 4AM. The “Deep State” prevented me from going back into a deep sleep. Before I launch into my thoughts about national paranoia I’ll start with local paranoia.

I often mentioned the slogan I jokingly suggest should be our school board’s operating principle: “Just because you’re paranoid DOESN’T mean that someone isn’t out to get you!”

Just this morning I sent out an email containing this sentiment:

“The only antidote I know for this paranoia is sunshine. Put things out in the open where you can see them and you can shrug them off. If you can’t see them they become like that poisonous creature hiding in a tree stump in the Star trek movie about the castoffs marooned on a dying plant. They had to put their hands in the stump and risk a painful death.”

The “Deep State” strikes me as an invention of the real “Deep State.” The so called Deep State is not the bureaucrats and press foisting socialized medicine on a hardy, uncorrupted people. It’s the folks who don’t want to pay for socialized medicine or other civic obligations like pollution control.

The chief obstacle to getting this accomplished is our Constitution which guarantees a free press the much hated irritant of the power hungry except when they themselves use it. In Russia or China the author of “Dark Money”, Jane Mayer, would have been shot or disappeared by now. In America her biggest worry would be disinterest not death.

Before the School Board campaign and researching China got in the way I managed to get about half way through the book. It details the remnants of the John Birch Society which have rekindled into a much more potent semi-secret cabal led by the deep pockets of two of the Koch brothers. Their tentacles are everywhere – Congress, the Federal Courts, all state legislatures through ALEC, reapportionment, voter suppression, freedom to work laws, campaign finance, undermining of Federal regulation, the Trump Administration, the Tea Party and Fox News. You can’t fault Charles Koch for not putting his money where his heart is – corporate supremacy through regulatory inaction. You might argue that most of the billions he’s spent on this re engineering the American polity came from putting the public at risk by skimping on public spiritedness.

My take on the Republicans hysterics about a liberal Deep State is to think of it as Fake mongering. It has all the resonance of the grade school taunt: “I know you are but what am I?”

Maybe the real problem is overpopulation and its unruly offspring disappointed expectations of the young but the Free Press is under assault all over the world – Russia, Turkey, China, Venezuela, Saudi Arabia and now the United States. Our all-too-real President lies daily about “Fake News” until its obvious truth emerges. Then his lackey’s call it a “nothing burger.”

I’ll take my nothing burger with plenty of ketchup and pickle relish, thank you.

The Kushy life

A New York Times editorial about a slum lord and his tenant and those awful “community organizers” like Barack Obama. A sample:

Community organizers could have helped Kushner tenants like Kamiia Warren of suburban Baltimore, who was sued for moving out of her apartment without giving two month’s notice despite having done so. Mr. Kushner’s company won an almost $5,000 judgment anyway, and garnished her wages as a home health worker, and her bank account.

That hotel cleaner you didn’t tip

“Maybe she wipes your child’s face at day care. Maybe he mops the floors at your church. Maybe she makes the beds in the hotel you stay at. Maybe he trims your shrubbery and mows your lawn. Maybe she lifts your elderly aunt in and out of her wheelchair each day at the nursing home.”

My wise school board colleague, Alanna Oswald, shared a column on what it means to be poor with the rest of us. It rings true to her. I recommend it. Here’s another sample:

“But today all that was about to change. She had landed a new job — still minimum wage, but this time with dental coverage. She sat in the waiting room, praying that today would be the day the pain finally stopped for good.

The dentist called Nicole into the exam room, poked and prodded a bit, and listed some treatment options. Nicole crossed her fingers.

But then he stood up and shut her file abruptly, not even trying to hide his disdain. “Look, there are plenty of things we could do,” he said frostily, hand on the doorknob. “But if you’re just going to let everything go to hell like this, there’s really no point.”

And the door clicked shut behind him.”

A little bit of Post-Trump here in the Northland

In my view America elected a demagogue rather than a scold. In fairness to Hillary Clinton, the unprecedented calls of “lock her up” at Trump rallies trumped First Lady Obama’s call “When they go low we go high.” Maybe Hillary should have responded in kind. After all Trump is facing charges of fraud in a court presided over by a rapist sympathizer – the judge being a Mexican-American).

This election is like two black holes colliding and sending gravity waves though our universe. Its having the effect in our public schools of loosening the tongues of adolescent jerks who are mimicking their elder’s public excrescences. (If you don’t recognize my fifty scent word its fancy for “excrement” or its plural “excrements.” Its got a more common four letter equivalent.)

“Liberal” window smashers hiding in mobs and anonymous “conservative” spray can wielding graffiti writers and Internet trolls are both tomorrow’s brown shirts if we let them have their way. Even so I take little comfort with the comments of the Duluth School Board chair at the pitifully attended unity meeting called together by DFLer Mayor Emily Larson and Republican County Commissioner Peter Stauber.

In response to the anonymous racist graffiti scrawled in our school bathrooms Annie had this to say:

Annie Harala, chairwoman of the Duluth School Board, spoke about racial slurs and other intolerant language that were found in a city school bathroom last week, promising the district investigate and punish the culprits.

Racism “roared up this week in Duluth schools” after the election, she said.

“We want to be clear that intolerance and hatred is absolutely not accepted in our schools,’’ Harala said, urging parents and the entire community to encourage respectful behavior at home so that flows into the schools.

Presumably the vandals are kids. Railing about punishing them seems Trumpian to me. In this case Michelle Obama’s call to “go high” seems like a better strategy than making threats that are largely empty because of the furtive nature of the offense. That would be a better way to achieve some kind of unity.

Staunch vs. stanch

My buddy sent me a couple proof reading corrections for the last post in the second paragraph. One pointed out I meant stanch when I used staunch. They can be pronounced the same way with the “aw” sound but I’ll admit I never recognized that they had different spellings. They both suggest something akin to the strength of reinforcement. For instance: The GOP must stanch the loss of elderly adherents by by being less staunch in its nativist inclinations.

The first nativist party in the US the “No Nothings” was anti immigrant. Too many Catholic Irish were fleeing the potato famine bringing their terrible religion with them. Subsequent bouts of nativism hit American shores when too many Chinese showed up during the California gold rush. Then horror of horrors strangely speaking Eastern Europeans started answering the Corporate advertisements from American firms looking for cheap labor. That was a straw that led to a law I couldn’t recall having ever heard about. At the turn of the Ninteenth Century Congress passed a law taking American citizenship away from women who married legal immigrants. For thirty years that law deprived tens of thousands of women of their birthright and did so retroactively including one woman from Two Harbors.

Abe Lincoln was a pragmatist who was quite happy to solicit Irish and German votes and even No Nothing votes. Today’s GOP wouldn’t have much use for that RINO kind of thinking. Over the next couple decades they will find it harder to stanch the loss of elderly nativists and will be forced back to Lincoln’s pragmatism. Viva el Rinos.

There is another tenant of the modern GOP that might have to undergo some revision, the wealth protection laws that turned estate taxes into “death taxes.” Apparently to discover just how it was that the once anticipated economic equality associated with democracy has been turne on its head one economist began reading antique novels from earlier centuries. inheritance and wealth. He quotes a character in a Victor Hugo novel who tells an ambitious young man to forget about work and to marry a rich woman. Hey my Mom could have told him that. She read lots of antique novels by the Bronte’s, Jane Austin Charles Dickens etc. We had talks about how families did their best to protect their wealth. I read about primogeniture in my own history books. That where only the oldest son inherited all the land and the younger brother’s took the hindmost.

Anyone who has watched a lot of PBS’s Masterpiece theater over the years has seen the same like Downton Abbey. Marry a rich American woman. That was the call of several generations of failing noble English families and its been grist for hundreds of period piece dramas.

Well-to-do Americans have jealously guarded their wealth by intermarrying their children in America for generations. Its been a fixation that has been shared by other rich folk throughout history. In more recent generations it has been aided by country club memberships and gated community living. Those knocking eagerly from the outside for a piece of the action have been regarded with suspicion. My Mother told me about the woman who married a cousin of hers who was regarded as a “grass widow.” I guess that meant she was hiding in the grass waiting to snare their precious son. The threat to disinherit never was broached but that is another very real threat that has made it into countless dramas.

Well, the rich are getting richer and not only because they have built a social wall around themselves but a legal and legislative wall built with a political agenda to keep taxes like the estate tax low.

What kind of folks would accrue this wealth and then fight back attempts to share it? That’s another NPR story. this. Is it any wonder that NPR and PBS are always on the GOP chopping block?

One billionaire’s message to the poor

Courtesy of Gina Rinehart, the richest woman on the planet, who inherited her family’s iron-ore prospecting fortune of $30.1 billion.

“If you’re jealous of those with more money, don’t just sit there and complain. Do something to make more money yourself — spend less time drinking or smoking and socialising, and more time working,”

Or maybe marry Gina and fight the estate (oops) I mean “Death” tax.

Eastwood wasn’t playing by Karl Rove’s playbook

which is getting the billionaires to kill Obama with kindness – but not Todd Akin.

On the final morning of the Republican National Convention, Karl Rove took the stage at the Tampa Club to provide an exclusive breakfast briefing to about 70 of the Republican Party’s highest-earning and most powerful donors. During the more than hour-long session, Rove explained to an audience dotted with hedge fund billionaires and investors, including John Paulson and Wilbur Ross, how his super PAC, American Crossroads, will persuade undecided voters in crucial swing states to vote against Barack Obama. He also detailed plans for Senate and House races, and joked, “We should sink Todd Akin. If he’s found mysteriously murdered, don’t look for my whereabouts!”

Paying your dues

My Buddy sent me this last week. I’ve only just now read it. It comes from a huge horse’s ass Andrew Breitbart. That said it is an important and as far as I can see journalisticly neutral appraisal of the politics of public employee union dues.

Here’s my take.

A. Public employees with enough seniority have very secure jobs.

B. As private sector unions have fallen on hard times over the past four decades of increasing “Right-to-work” labor laws the revenue from public employee’s union dues have become indispensable to the union movement as a whole.

C. The many rights won for all workers by unions in the 1940’s and 50’s have made union protection far less important in the eyes of workers with the result that many workers have adopted as anti union viewpoint as their fire breathing right-to-work fire employers.

D. Many of the protections that existed up until the Reagan ERA for workers are beginning to erode. The best example of this is medical coverage. This is just fine by a new Republican Party which has purged itself of moderate politicians who were comfortable with America’s less expansive version of Europe’s “cradle to grave” protection.

E. Today a right-to-work (and right to starve) GOP is faced with a public that has begun to notice that America has become a land of haves (Mitt Romneys) and have nots (the 99 percent)

F. Having done its best to put black drug sellers in prison and fence out Mexicans and cling to pale “european” skin the GOP is desperate to keep the Public employee Unions from raising money that could be used to challenge Republicans. They are probably right that unions grossly abuse their power to raise political funds from union members. There is a very big BUT in this assertion.

G. Here’s the BUT. The GOP inclined Supreme Court justices have givencCorporations an unlimited First Amendment right to spend money on politics as copiously as they wish. This threatens to turn American politics into a very unlevel playing field based on the 19th century premise that a corporation has Constitutionally guaranteed citizenship rights.

H. I think an equally persuasive argument could be made that corporations should have to allow their stockholders to withold political donations that they have not agreed to just as union members should have the right to deny their dues to be spent for political purposes to which they object.

I. If my point of view becomes law then both right wing business and left wing labor could find themselves muzzled. That would be OK by me.

Our kind of corruption

The founding father’s would have viewed it as such even if the laws today permit it. From a book review by Mathew Yglesias:

Lessig moves beyond quid pro quo corruption of the sort that typified the Gilded Age and recently ensnared such congressmen as Duke Cunningham of California and William Jefferson of Louisiana. Taking a broader view of the problem, Lessig develops a concept of dependence and independence that draws on the Founding generation’s obsession with the alleged corruption of Parliament at the hands of a monarchy that dispensed pensions and offices to compliant representatives. As part of this analysis, Lessig cites the anthropological concept of a “gift economy” to argue that a person can become indebted to another without any explicit agreement of a quid pro quo.

League of Women Voters forum?

I just saw on the news tonight that there was a school board candidate forum held by the League of Women Voters…….

They didn’t bother advertising it or I might have sacrificed the third installment of Ken Burns’ Prohibition to attend it. I could see that it was held in the School Board meeting room. Wonder if they were trying to control crowds by keeping it secret. I’m kind of glad I didn’t go. The PBS series has been great. I learned to my surprise about a famous women voter in history that I’d not known about Pauline Sabin.

She damn near single-handedly reversed Prohibition. She even quit the Republican Party to do it. She hated hypocrisy. Wow! My kinda gal.

Maybe the women of the League should have stayed home with me to watch it rather than put on a secret side show. They could have learned a thing or two. No wonder the Republicans want to stop funding Public Broadcasting.

No Joke 1

But its darned funny.

But there’s actual substance behind the punch line: Colbert is setting up a superPAC to run campaign ads. The FEC got involved when he asked for an opinion on how to finance the superPAC. His query suggested the possibility of a new loophole — a way for media companies to underwrite commentators with political ambitions.

Now Fox News can give Sarah Palin more than just a paycheck.