‘Inequality in America: A National Town Hall’ is required viewing all over the world

Apologies once more for the gap in posts – financial realities mean we have had to prioritise our monetised site in recent weeks as it has been a busy time for content over there.

However, even if we managed to post every day since we kicked off FPP in August 2016 we wouldn’t have been able to express our core beliefs more than this one and a half hour long video of the recent town hall hosted by Bernie Sanders.  Please check it out if you haven’t already.  It’s a shame it was only covered online.

#IANWAE

 

Advertisements

Economic ‘experts’ from the mainstream media act as though crony capitalism is the only game in town

THE ISSUE

We always need to be sceptical of the mainstream media, but arguably the area where we need to be more so than any other is that of economics.

THE MEDIA

Article by Dean Baker in Center for Econopic Policy and Research on February 21, 2018

It Wasn’t the Market that Made Elites Incredibly Rich, It was Elites Rigging the Market to Make Themselves Incredibly Rich

None of the rules we have in place that redistribute upward were given to us by the market. They were the result of deliberate economic policy.

THE COMMENT

When legislation is passed that cuts corporate taxes it is chiselled into concrete, yet when it redistributes wealth among the lower classes it is written on tissue paper.

The reason that quote is rather clunky is that it’s mine, and I’m far from a qualified economist, but FWIW I reckon the #AppleTax issue and way the Irish government protects its corporate tax rate are at the forefront of a status quo that is generally accepted as ‘untouchable’ and similar thinking exists in other western countries.

For that reason Baker’s quote from his article is what inspired me to write this post, but the wider point is that when it comes to economics we have to look beyond what the ‘experts’ put forward by the mainstream media say, and that is where the internet comes in.

I’m not saying we have to agree with the thoughts of people like Richard Wolf, but if we are to have a full discussion on any topic it seems a no-brainer to at least discuss the alternatives and even a massive crash like that we experienced ten years ago wasn’t enough to have us wondering if  allowing the top corporate players to run the economy wasn’t the best idea. Since then elected representatives who dare to oppose austerity are virtual outcasts both in the Dáil and in media coverage of same.

So that’s my point…but if you’re on for getting more specific, check out this Op-ed in the NYT and then read Baker’s reply.

While Economics is an academic field in its own right, there’s no reason why we the voters can’t educate ourselves to a decent standard on it once we know where to look, and more importantly, where to be sceptical.  JLP

#IANWAE

Trump has done nothing but shut down key parts of government since he took office but you wouldn’t know it listening to Democrats and media

THE ISSUE

Whether it’s through stupidity, unwillingness or incompetence, the Democrat leadership cannot get across the simple message that Donald Trump’s agenda of racism, misogyny and pro-corporatism is bad for the American people, and the mainstream media isn’t much better.

THE MEDIA

YouTube clip by Dan Rather on The Young Turks on January 22, 2018

The Government Shutdown Ends With a ‘Promise’ For DACA Vote From the GOP – The News With Dan Rather

“…if most of the media ignore the year-long slow-motion shut down and if Democrats don’t raise enough stink about it, maybe it’s because too many of us have signalled that we’re on board”

THE COMMENT

Shortcomings with relief efforts in Puerto Rico.  Throwing millions off their medical insurance by hacking away at Obamacare.  Going after Medicare and Social Security.  Gutting the staff at the State Department.  Rescinding regulations for the sake of it.

Those are just some of the actions Donald Trump has taken since being sworn in just over a year ago, yet in recent days he has been able to frame the word ‘shutdown’ as meaning something that is only harmful to the US military, which already receives more funding than any other nation by a long, long way.

At first I was annoyed at myself for not realising that what the President has done since taking office is effectively a massive shutdown in itself, but I’m not involved with politics and government on a daily basis – the point is so simple and obvious that we have to wonder why his primary opposition, namely the Democrats and, as he calls them, ‘The Fake News Media’, haven’t been highlighting it all weekend?

Thankfully we have people like the legendary Dan Rather to get the message out there.  And as he points out, it’s possible that the general public is also complicit to an extent.

As I recently pointed out here on FPP, the likes of Chuck Schumer with his ‘bowl of Jello’ and Nancy Pelosi with her ‘poop Sundae’ simply don’t have the charisma necessary to deliver the kind of soundbites needed to combat Trump’s twitter tirades.  Meanwhile we have Dick Durbin gleefully using the word ‘bipartisanship’ as if it also necessarily means ‘fairness for the American people’.

Besides…if anything should have clinched the message battle for the Democrats re the latest shutdown it should have been that absolutely disgusting ad which suggested they would be responsible for any future murders by illegal immigrants.  That was nothing short of Hitler-esque propaganda [script most likely written by Stephen Miller] which speaks volumes for the intelligence levels of the demographic at which it was aimed.

The party badly needs new leadership.  Whether or not Mitch McConnell keeps to his word on DACA by February 8, the Democrats have left themselves wide open for negative press between now and then for having caved far too easily over the spending bill.

And there I was, very close to writing a post here praising them for finally showing a bit of fight.  Why do I allow myself to get so deluded?  JLP

#IANWAE

PS – As I’m about to publish, Trump has tweeted this :

I rest my case.

 

The Young Turks’ Cenk Ungur lets loose on corporate Democrats as time runs out to secure DACA deal

THE ISSUE

The Republicans and Democrats need to agree on a budget before Friday otherwise the government will ‘shut down’, ie there will be no money to pay federal employees.  As the Senate must have at least 60 votes to pass a spending bill, even though the Democrats are in a minority their cotes are needed and thus they have some leverage and they are hoping to use this to finally secure a deal for the so-called ‘Dreamers’ or children of illegal immigrants who have proven themselves to be productive members of American society.

THE MEDIA

YouTube clip by The Young Turks on January 15, 2018

“…you’re weak, you’re losers, you’re pathetic.  How do you expect us to get excited, to show up to the polls, for these loser Democrats who can’t figure out a way to fight against fucking Trump???”

THE COMMENT

The reason we are outraged by Trump’s recent ‘shithole’ remark [not even going to bother with the word ‘alleged’…we all know he said it] is not because such words that shouldn’t ever be used in politics…in his case, it was all about the fact that he was referring to entire nations of people.

Of course there are times when the use of ‘salty’ language is absolutely necessary, and in this clip of the Young Turks, host Cenk Ungur rightly calls out the corporate Democrats for their meagre attempts to use their leverage in the government spending bill to secure proper legislation for the Dreamers.

It’s not often that Ungur gets this animated – though to be clear, that isn’t necessarily a bad thing because if he went on a tirade for every clip he’d be no better than Alex Jones.  This is definitely the kind of time-sensitive issue where a verbal kick up the backside is exactly what it required.  Whether it will do any good remains to be seen – I’m not so sure Chuck Schumer and Nancy Pelosi know how to use YouTube, let alone subscribe to the Young Turks.

#IANWAE

Donald Trump and the sheer stupidity of his supporters…sorry, but there is no other word for it

And so another year nears it’s end…this will probably be our final post before 2018.

Since his inauguration, so much has happened under the Trump administration that you wouldn’t know where to begin.

I would just like to focus on one aspect to sum up the year.

Put as simply as possible…I never thought it possible to say this about another human being in a serious context, but here goes…

If Trump supporters actually believe his assertion that everything in his tweets, on Fox News and on Breitbart is true, and everything on CNN, MSNBC, NYT and WaPo is made-up Fake News – and let’s be clear, his claims definitely do reach to those extremes – then THEY ARE STUPID.

That’s a horrible thing to say, but I’m afraid the English language doesn’t have another word for it.

Of course sometimes the mainstream media gets things wrong or leaves things out.  And tough and all as it is to believe, once in a while Trump and co get something right [if for the wrong reasons sometimes, like shutting down the Trans Pacific Parntership].

But the President never gives specific examples of ‘Fake News’.  And to be fair, it’s not as though the media does a whole lot to stand up for itself.  Surely there’s a legal case to be made for accusations that they just sit around and make up stories out of thin air?  I would have thought the President may be pushing too far the assumption that they wouldn’t wish to disclose their sources.

His hypocrisy and exaggeration is so obvious that nobody with any decent level of intelligence can possibly get behind it….unless they are ‘in on the act’ for their own personal benefit, of course.

We can only home that smarter arguments will prevail in 2018 and beyond.

Merry Christmas and a Happy New Year to all.  JLP

#IANWAE

The story is that Roy Moore lost, not that the other guy won…what’s his name again?

THE ISSUE

In one of the most widely reported elections in US Senate history, in the heavily-Republican state of Alabama which Trump won in 2016 by 28 percentage points, accused paedophile Roy Moore was defeated by his Democratic challenger Don James.  No, sorry, it was Dan Jenkins.  Or was it Doug Jones.  Nah, I was right the first time.  I think.

THE MEDIA

Article by CNN.com on Wednesday, December 13, 2017

Roy Moore won’t concede

“You know, part of the thing — part of the problem with this campaign is we’ve been painted in an unfavorable and unfaithful light.”

THE COMMENT

I think I can safely say that I’ve never been this happy about the results from an Alabama Senate race.

You might think this is ‘Fake News’ but when I opened half an eyelid at 4:30am Irish time this morning and looked at my phone, the banner on the CNN notification read : ‘Roy Moore loses’.   Surely in pretty much any other race the headline would refer to the guy who won?  Well, this wasn’t any other race.

This was an amazing win for the Democrats, albeit with a perfect storm of controversy on the other side, but they still had to pick the right guy and run the right campaign to get him over the line, so bravo.

What interests me right now is how the President will react, and more importantly, how his inner circle will react.  Do they sit down with him and come up with a proper spin to present to the media?  Or do they sit down WITHOUT him first and come up with a spin to present to HIM?  I think we all know it’s the latter.

No doubt the spin will be something like ‘Roy would have lost by even more [Moore?] were it not for the President’s endorsement’.  Sure.

#IANWAE

Trump’s #Charlottesville reaction highlights the need to stop using ‘left’ and ‘right’ to describe political spectrum

“We condemn in the strongest possible terms this egregious display of hatred, bigotry and violence, on many sides. On many sides. It’s been going on for a long time in our country. Not Donald Trump, not Barack Obama. This has been going on for a long, long time.”

Before I start on the theme of this article, have you ever seen a US president more obsessed with his predecessor?  It has gotten to a stage where he just throws his name into his statements without any real context.

Anyway…you have no doubt read volumes on what happened in Charlottesville and it is not my wish to delve too much further into the horrific events, at least not here.

What I want to point out is something I feel is crucial for the progressive platform to gain more followers, and it is a very simple one.

Rumour has it that human civilisation once believed premises like the earth being the centre of the universe, or at other times that it was a flat plain as opposed to a spherical planet.  Maybe such misconceptions don’t effect people’s everyday life, but then again it’s hard to have a philosophical grasp on existence when you don’t even have the fundamentals correct.

So what I’d like to challenge is the way we label political ideologies as ‘left’ and ‘right’, because it suggests some kind of balance between the two.  On the most basic level, what we call the left represents a society that is fair to everyone while the right does not.

But to properly understand where the conflict comes from you first must appreciate how it started.  Whether you believe in evolution or creation, there must have existed a time when the human race had no elitism.  Then as it became clear that certain resources were more valuable than others, some people took control of them and were selective about those with whom they were shared.

Over time those who had control over the resources got better and better at holding on to that power.  Countries with tyrannical leaders simply run roughshod over their opposition, while those which claim to be democracies use a variety of tools to make sure elections go the way of the ruling classes.

Donald Trump became president on the back of one of these tools, ie supporting a specific group of voters he felt could help get him elected; in this case middle to lower class white men who felt that the civil rights movement had somehow discriminated against them.

Because this movement provided votes for the Republican party, it is considered to be on the ‘right’.  And because the obvious racist and fascist leanings of this movement, it has become fashionable to label them as ‘alt-right’.  Even with this distinction though, the fact that it is called any kind of ‘right’ seems to lend it equal status to whatever is called the ‘left’.

As the mainstream media fully supports the left-right paradigm, the President can claim, however wrongly, that he is being fair to ‘all sides’.

What we who have been shoved on the ‘left’ of this pseudo-spectrum must do is renounce it.  A society that purports to be fair to all citizens is not half the argument.  It is the only one.   Of course we won’t all agree on how it is to be achieved, but given we believe in fairness, chances are the discussions are going to be devoid of such words as ‘fire and fury’.

Anyone who feels they have to ‘tone down’ their views to somehow ‘be fair’ and ‘not exclude the conservative opinion’ is basically validating the very argument that conservatives want.

The white men who marched on Charlottesville are bigots.  Nothing they feel was ‘taken from them’ was really theirs in the first place.  To offer them any sense of legitimacy is not being fair, it’s not being balanced.  It is turning back the clock on American society to a time when the ruling classes needed only the crudest, most basic tools to hold on to power, as opposed to the more intricate ones they use today.

Progressives need to stop allowing themselves to be defined by a scale that doesn’t really exist.

#IANWAE