Tuesday, December 31, 2019

Joe Biden was VP for a Republican president; and now he's willing to have a Republican running mate in 2020

Above: A portrait of FDR, 1934. As the New Deal progressed, Roosevelt became increasingly concerned about right-wing Democrats in the Party. He fully understood that conservative Democrats were a threat to the New Deal. His forlorn look in the portrait above seems to be a premonition of things to come under the center-right leadership of Clinton, Obama, Pelosi, and Biden. Photo courtesy of the Library of Congress.

FDR's nightmares have come to life in Joe Biden and the modern Democratic Party

One of the reasons that President Franklin Roosevelt ran for an unprecedented third term in 1940 was because he was afraid that conservatives within the Democratic Party would screw up the accomplishments of the New Deal, and that they'd steer the Democratic Party towards the right (see, e.g., John W. Jeffries, A Third Term for FDR: The Election of 1940, University Press of Kansas, 2017).

Well, FDR's fears have come to life. Guided by the corporate money that gives them power, the modern Democratic Establishment has become a center-right organization... and they're looking to move even further right with a Joe Biden presidency.

Joe Biden served as VP under President Barack Obama. Obama was, essentially, a Republican (see, e.g., "Obama is a Republican," The American Conservative, October 21, 2014). Even Obama's signature achievement, "Obamacare," was the product of the political right. Obama (and the Democratic Establishment) largely dismissed Progressive ideas on healthcare, and instead willfully chose the path laid out by the right-wing, Koch-funded Heritage Foundation. The irony, of course, is that the political right is now tearing apart Obamacare, bit by bit.

Recently, Joe Biden said he'd be open to having a Republican running mate. This is just the latest betrayal of the New Deal by Joe Biden. Lyin' J'Biden has spent his entire political career advancing right-wing policy goals, for example, job outsourcing, the repeal of Glass-Steagall (so his banker buddies could gamble with more money), cuts to Social Security, regime change in foreign countries, and draconian and suicide-provoking debt-relief restrictions.

And now Lyin' J'Biden says he'd be willing to have a Republican vice president. If he were to do this... and if they won the race... and if Biden passed away in office... we'd be right back to where we we started - a Republican president! And then Biden's running-mate-now-president would, we can be sure, start pushing for more tax cuts for the rich, more funding cuts to social programs, and more military adventures.

Now, some people might say, "Oh, Biden was just saying that to display his willingness to reach across the aisle." Don't be so sure. The Democratic Establishment has repeatedly signaled that they're more interested in appealing to moderate Republicans than to Progressives; and Joe Biden, particularly, has made it clear that he thinks Republicans are just fine, just momentarily hoodwinked by Trump. I wouldn't put it past Biden to pick a Republican running mate in an effort--misguided or not--to pick up some moderate Republican votes, Progressives be damned.

As goes Biden, so goes rank & file Democratic Party voters

Biden's willingness to bring aboard a right-wing running mate (perhaps even a Tea Party Republican?) should be an immediate disqualifier. But sadly, it won't - because many rank & file Democratic Party voters have themselves become center-right. They don't necessarily harbor the same racial animosities as the political right, but, like many conservatives, they loathe the idea of being taxed to help pay for the common good. In other words, they believe in the general notion of equality, but they sure as hell don't want to pay for it.

The truth is, Biden's foolish willingness to run with a Republican is just the latest sign of the Democratic Party's decay. And the willingness of rank & file Democratic Party voters to stick with him, to continue to catapult him to the top of the polls (as you know they will), and to continue to allow themselves to be dragged rightward, is appalling.

Dear rank & file Democratic Party voters: Shame on you.

"The Democratic Party under Bill Clinton transformed itself into the traditional Republican Party, and the Republican Party moved, was pushed, so far to the right it became insane."

--Chris Hedges, in "Why the American empire has lost control—and its failure is imminent," Maclean's, August 29, 2018 

Saturday, December 28, 2019

How the rich kill us: Closing hospitals

Above: A new hospital in Iowa, built with funding from the New Deal's Public Works Administration (PWA), ca. 1933-1940. New Deal work and construction programs built hundreds of new hospitals and health clinics all across America. Photo courtesy of the National Archives.

Greed-inspired homicide

There was an interesting article in The Guardian yesterday, about the many deaths that have occurred since a hospital in rural Missouri closed last year, leaving residents with no nearby options for emergencies like heart attacks and strokes. The closure of the hospital seems to have been a naked attempt by rich people to get even richer. You see, the hospital was profitable... just not profitable enough to sate American greed; and so it was merged into another hospital far away. One doctor said, "This hospital was closed mostly by the greed of the corporation" ("'How many more people have to die?': what a closed rural hospital tells us about US healthcare," December 27, 2019).

The Missouri hospital was just one of many rural hospitals to close in recent years, causing many unnecessary deaths across the nation, including infant deaths (see the article linked above, and also, "Rural hospital closings cause mortality rates to rise, study finds," NBC News, September 6, 2019).

Let's not beat around the bush. The rich should be blamed for these deaths.

How the rich kill us

It's not just the greed of the rich that kills us, like in the example above, but also their sometimes-sociopathy and sometimes-God complex.

With respect to their sociopathy, economist and New York Times columnist Paul Krugman recently and correctly noted: "The first thing you need to know about the very rich is that they are, politically, different from you and me. Don't be fooled by the handful of prominent liberal or liberal-ish billionaires; systematic studies of the politics of the ultrawealthy show that they are very conservative, obsessed with tax cuts, opposed to environmental and financial regulation, eager to cut social programs."

It is with that last part that you should pay special attention and consideration to (for purposes of this discussion): "eager to cut social programs." Hmmm... like hospitals? Like Medicare? Like Medicaid? Like anything that might prolong the life of lower-income Americans?

With respect to the God complex of the rich, well, a lot of rich people tell us--through their many sycophantic vessels in media, thinks tanks, and legislative bodies--that their taxes should be cut, social programs cut too, and then their charitable giving will fill in the gaps, and begin to work miracles. They tell us these lies because they consider themselves to be gods or, at the very least, demi-gods. They believe that their "superior" wisdom is better at allocating resources than the government, i.e., better than We the People.

But the philanthropy of the rich, while great for art galleries, museums, and other non-urgent organizations, is woefully inadequate for human needs. Were it adequate, there would never have been a need for Social Security, Medicare, and Medicaid in the first place. Were it adequate, Americans would not be dying today because they can't afford their medicine, like insulin. A rich person would simply step up with the money or medicine and say, "Here ya go." But that doesn't happen too much, does it? How many times has a rich person visited you in your hour of need? 

The sad truth is, rich people have separated themselves away from us and they don't know (or care) how to help us. They've set up charitable foundations as barriers--to keep us at arm's length--and by the time the money gets from the demi-gods to the sufferers (if it gets to them at all) it's been carved-up and trimmed-down to insufficient crumbs. And many of us need a lot more than crumbs.

So, the rich kill us out of malice, or out of a misguided sense that they're our supervisors, protectors, and perhaps even CREATORS. Either way, we're dead. 

A Stockholm Syndrome epidemic in Rural America

Many rural Americans who are suffering from a lack of good healthcare--closing hospitals, unaffordable procedures, sky-high prescription costs, and so on--are Trump and GOP supporters, even though Trump and the GOP defer to the rich on just about every public policy issue, including healthcare. And while rural Americans deserve some degree of scolding for their subservience to the rich--i.e., their persecutors--we can't blame them too much... and that's because the neoliberal, New Deal-hating Democratic Party elites have abandoned them too. The party of Social Security, unions, and the Civilian Conservation Corps has, sadly, been downgraded to the party of undetectable incrementalism, downgraded to the party of "let's reform healthcare based on right-wing models, and then watch the right-wing slowly tear it apart" (see, e.g., "Obamacare Takes Another Hit In Federal Appeals Court Ruling," NPR, December 18, 2019).

It's absolutely vital that Americans begin to realize that the rich are not their friends. Such a realization is, quite literally, a matter of life and death.

Friday, December 27, 2019

Bernie Sanders is authentic and can beat Trump. Pete Buttigieg is a fraud who cannot. When will Iowa Democrats wake up?

Above: A Bernie Sanders bumper sticker, based on consistent and long-term polling results. Image scanned from personal copy.

Sneaky Pete is Back

Sneaky Pete Buttigieg is up to more of his campaign tricks. First, he closed the doors to his swanky fundraisers, so that the public wouldn't hear him assure his super-wealthy donors that he wouldn't tax them more - the common good be damned. Then he... mistakenly of course... left key wealthy donors off a publicly-released fundraising list. Then he went to a wine cave to booze it up with the elite and conjure up some campaign cash. And now he's having an idiotic competition to see who can donate the least amount of money to his campaign... so that he can lower his average donation amount to look more like Elizabeth Warren and Bernie Sanders, i.e., to trick the public into thinking his is a grassroots campaign.

And Iowa Democrats prefer this guy over every other Democratic candidate?

Wow! What the hell is wrong with those people??

I guess I shouldn't be surprised though, because some Iowa Democrats are supporting Joe Biden (a.k.a. Lyin' J'Biden) due to the thought that, well, some moderate Republicans might like Biden. One Democratic activist, crowing from the stage at a recent Biden event in Iowa, declared to the Democratic attendees, "It's not going to be you, it's not going to be me, it's not going to be the party faithful that turn this election - it's going to be independents and moderate Republicans" ("The ‘But I Would Vote for Joe Biden’ Republicans," New York Times, December 25, 2019).

Yes, this is what many rank & file Democratic Party voters have been reduced to. They don't vote their values... they vote the way they think some moderate Republicans might like to vote. (And with respect to Independents, Bernie always scores high with them, for example, doing much better with Independents than Hillary in 2016.)

Bernie is authentic AND beats Trump

Authentic Bernie Sanders has been fighting for working class Americans since before most working class Americans were born. And how do they repay him? By backing Silver Spoon Trump, or Republican-Light Biden, or Sneaky Pete Buttigieg.

How shameful is that?

The funny thing is, Sanders consistently beats Trump in the polls, and Buttigieg consistently loses to Trump... but many Iowa Democrats, utterly oblivious, think Buttigieg is more electable.

How foolish is that?

If Trump wins a second term, you can thank Iowa Democrats and their ilk.

Tuesday, December 24, 2019

New Deal Art: "Small Town" by Ann Nooney

Above: "Small Town," a color lithograph by Ann Nooney, created while she was in the WPA's Federal Art Project, ca. 1935-1939. Though several of her works can be found online, there seems to be hardly any information about Nooney's life in newspaper archives or the Internet, and not even her exact dates of birth and death seem to be known (though 1900-1970 is the most frequently offered span). As part of a 2016 art exhibition, a student from Murray State University wrote, "While there is little known about her life, she left behind a legacy of work that continues to provide a visual glimpse of American life during these times" ("Art for the People," February 25, 2016, accessed December 24, 2019). Image courtesy of the Art Institute of Chicago.

Friday, December 20, 2019

New Deal Art: "The Steel Age" by Edna Reindel

Above: "The Steel Age," an oil painting by Edna Reindel (1894-1990), created while she was in the New Deal's Public Works of Art Project, 1933-1934. Image courtesy of the General Services Administration and Kristen Fusselle.

Above: The description for this photograph, ca. 1935-1938, reads, "Edna Reindel sits with her cat, Dozy, in front of a mural commissioned for the Fairfield housing project in Stamford, Connecticut by the [New Deal's] Treasury Relief Art Project. Dozy was a model for the mural." Reindel had a prolific and varied art career that included: teaching; book illustrations; a series of paintings published in Life magazine (depicting women in the national defense industries); artwork on the post-war atomic threat; and portraits of movie stars ("Artist's work showed her nuclear fears," Detroit Free Press, April 9, 1990, p. 2B). Photo by Iris Woolcock, provided courtesy of the Smithsonian Archives of American Art.

Tuesday, December 17, 2019

Bernie Sanders now has the largest support among nonwhite voters... while neoliberal wunderkind Pete Buttigieg is busy sipping wine with the super-wealthy elite

Above: Like a kid in a candy store, neoliberal wunderkind Pete Buttigieg sips wine and collects cash from the super-wealthy elite, at a recent, swanky, no-poors-allowed fundraiser in the Napa Valley area. Bernie Sanders' speech writer David Sirota said, "Looks like a really good Black Mirror episode about the luxurious life in a billionaire's bunker as a climate apocalypse unfolds up on the surface." Photo from Teddy Schleifer/Twitter, used here for educational, non-commercial purposes.

A new NPR / PBS NewsHour / Marist Poll shows Bernie Sanders leading the Democratic field with 29% support among nonwhite voters. He also leads among Independents, Progressives, and college graduates; and he's competitive among all other groups, except for moderate Democrats who, let's be real, are basically just Republican-light voters who like to turn their noses up at millennials, "Why don't you just pull yourself up by your bootstraps?" the moderate Democrats ask millennials, in scorn, "Like our guy Reagan said to do."

Bernie has been fighting for equal rights and equal opportunity for about 60 years! In fact, he's probably been fighting for social and economic justice longer than just about anyone in American history. And then along comes neoliberal wunderkind Pete Buttigieg, still green behind the ears, declaring that he's going to save us... he's going to save us with Hope & Change, just like Obama didn't.

Mayor Pete knows that a lot of people aren't buying his Hope & Change snake oil. For example, he only has 6% support among nonwhite voters. You see, a lot of Americans drank Obama's Hope & Change snake oil, realized it didn't cure them, and are ready for something else, something authentic, something Bernie.

So, since the wunderkind isn't doing so well among ordinary folk, he's turned to Wall Street, Silicon Valley, and billionaires (39 and counting...). His message is basically, "Look, calm down, don't worry... all that campaign talk about helping the commoners?... yeah... that's just a bunch of garbage I tell the desperate little people. Don't worry, I'm NOT gonna impose higher taxes on you or create a better healthcare system for the lazy ne'er-do-wells. And yes, of course you'll still be able to hide money in foreign bank accounts... hee hee hee."

Mayor Pete's game plan is oh-so-clear. He doesn't want to be president for the sake of leading the country or helping those who struggle, as much as he's eyeing that big, fat, post-presidency cash haul. He sees how the Obamas have turned their time in the White House into a multi-million dollar, Oprah-style marketing empire--books, Netflix deals, Wall Street speeches, Becoming trinket sales, rides on billionaires' boats, and, we can be sure, a forthcoming "Tell Michelle" talk show with lots of Big Pharma advertisers--and, boy oh boy, does Buttigieg want some of that action

And if Pete has to lie to the little people to get there, well, it's regrettable... but... ya gotta do what ya gotta do! $$$ Cha-ching $$$!

Where the hell did this guy come from anyway? Bernie was fighting for us, and getting arrested for it, two decades before Mayor Pete was even in swaddling clothes. I don't need some neoliberal wunderkind, popping out of thin air, stuffing his pockets full of plutocrat cash, and telling me how his data, technology, "hope, change, and innovation" is going to liberate struggling Americans. And I don't need the Martha's Vineyard crowd rolling out of their mansions, high on Buttigieg, telling me how inspirational he is, as they are wont to do whenever a neoliberal empty suit tickles their gilded fancy.  

NeverButtigieg, AlwaysBernie.

"Sen. Bernie Sanders and Sen. Elizabeth Warren bring ideas about how to make America a more just society. Mayor Pete brings his youth and his old, tired ideas..."

--Michael Sean Winters, in "Mayor Pete brings his youth and old, tired ideas to the Democratic race," National Catholic Reporter, November 25, 2019. 

Monday, December 16, 2019

The liberal & progressive stereotyping of "men bad, women good" continues with Obama's latest statements. At what point does this recurring narrative become a eugenics argument?

Eugenics: "Well-born" (Greek)

Above: Left - Ayn Rand, the Founding Mother of modern American greed, selfishness, and sociopathy (notice the dollar sign lapel, proudly signifying her worship of money). Right - The Martin Luther King, Jr. Memorial in Washington, DC. MLK brought national attention to racial and economic injustice. Rand photo from the cover of Goddess of the Market: Ayn Rand and the American Right (Jennifer Burns, Oxford University Press, 2009), scanned from personal copy, used here for educational, non-commercial purposes. MLK Memorial photo by Carol Highsmith, provided courtesy of the Library of Congress.

The liberal & progressive narrative that demeans men

Barack Obama recently took a break from his post-presidential "hope & change" profit-making to perpetuate the now-firmly-entrenched liberal & progressive doctrine of "men bad, women good."

The BBC reports today: "Speaking at a private event on leadership, Mr Obama said while in office he had mused what a world run by women would look like. 'Now women, I just want you to know; you are not perfect, but what I can say pretty indisputably is that you're better than us,'" ("Barack Obama: Women are better leaders than men").

As I've written on my blog several times, it has become absolute gospel in many liberal & progressive circles that women are better than men - more competent, more ethical, and possessing a greater degree of empathy. And if you're a male, and you disagree with that assessment, well, you MUST be a misogynist! Sadly, most liberal & progressive men have either come to the same "men bad, women good" conclusion, or they've been cowed into silence.

There are certainly many examples of bad men in high places who have--either through mistake or malice--screwed things up. But interestingly, what many of them have in common, at least in modern America, is that they were heavily influenced by a woman - Ayn Rand.


Above: In this 2018 video, former U.S. Secretary of Labor Robert Reich explains the disastrous results of Ayn Rand's influence on America - the disintegration of the common good and the glorification of personal profit at any cost. Original YouTube video here: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=Kr41QDei3TI&feature=youtu.be.

What is the message sent to boys and young men?

If we create a stereotype of "men bad, women good" (or further it, since it's arguably already created - at least in some liberal & progressive circles), is this not a type of eugenics? Eugenics is, after all, the belief that one type of person is superior to another type of person by way of their genetic material... and... well... X and Y chromosomes carry genetic material.

And what are we telling boys and young men with a message of "men bad, women good"? If you have a son, should you discourage them from being ambitious? After all, if women are better, why bother? If you have a male baby, should you say, "That sucks, we got a bad baby."

None of this is to suggest that men don't have problems. We're more physically violent. And we're also in the unenviable position of being visually aroused in a society that is alternately puritanistic and hedonistic - swinging wildly back and forth between provocative advertisements and "family values"; between pornography and the cult of virginity; between the burdensome role of initiator and the strictures of #MeToo; between repeated rejection and occasional acceptance. And these competing and shifting cultural realities--stimulating us one minute and scolding us the next--frequently gets us into trouble. Call it a lack of willpower, or call it unfortunate circumstance, but we do fail many times to navigate this complex sea.

But in my life experiences and observations, I have noticed that women have their ways too, for example, some are verbally and mentally abusive. I have witnessed terribly unfair verbal lashings from women. And verbal abuse can have long-lasting, deleterious effects on the male psyche - feelings of rejection and worthlessness, and bad memories seared into your mind for the rest of your life. Yes, contrary to modern liberal philosophy--as expressed through liberal media outlets on the web, and by political leaders and talking heads like Obama--both men AND women can be terrible people. And both can be loving and kind too.

The growing "men bad, women good" stereotype is wrong. And it could also lead to bad results, for example, people like Nikki Haley becoming a U.S. senator or even president.

Given a choice between Bernie Sanders as president, or Betsy DeVos as president, I'll take Bernie. Sorry Obama, that's just how I feel about it. But given a choice between Donald Trump as president, or Elizabeth Warren as president, you better believe I'll be voting for Liz. When it comes to public policy, well, you can keep your pants up and your skirts down - I'm not interested in any of that; I only want to know what's in your heart.

Dear liberals & progressives (and you too Obama): Stop with the "men bad, women good" eugenics rhetoric. It's getting old.

Above: New Dealers Eleanor Roosevelt and Harry Hopkins. Of Eleanor Roosevelt, Martin Luther King, Jr., said: "The impact of her personality and its unwavering devotion to high principle and purpose cannot be contained in a single day or era." Of Harry Hopkins, Winston Churchill said: "His love for the causes of the weak and the poor was matched by his passion against tyranny... We shall not see his like again" (NY Times, 1-30-1946). Both photos courtesy of the National Archives.

Sunday, December 15, 2019

The New Deal's Bureau of Engraving and Printing Annex

Above: The U.S. Bureau of Engraving and Printing Annex in southwest Washington, DC, located on 14th Street, between C and D Streets. Photo by Carol Highsmith, taken between 1980 and 2006, and provided courtesy of the Library of Congress.

The U.S. Treasury's 1936 fiscal year report noted: "On August 12, 1935, Congress authorized the construction of a new annex to the Bureau of Engraving and Printing to be located on a site opposite the present building, on the east side of 14th Street, between C and D Streets SW. Plans for this building have been completed by the Procurement Division and a contract for its erection, at a cost of approximately $6,300,000, has been awarded" (p. 131). (The contract was awarded to John McShain, Inc., see, e.g., "Engraving Annex Again Under Way," Evening Star (Washington, DC), September 24, 1936, p. B-15).  

The U.S. Treasury's Procurement Division, in charge of the construction, had been created on October 9, 1933, per FDR's "Executive Order No. 6166... and subsequent executive branch actions" ("Public Buildings Branch," Living New Deal, accessed December 15, 2019).

In the Treasury's 1937 fiscal year report, the specific funding sources for the Annex (and other buildings) were described: "The present building program in the District of Columbia is being carried on with funds allotted to the [Procurement] Division by the Federal Emergency Administrator of Public Works [PWA] and from appropriations made direct to the Division" (pp. 183-184).

The Treasury's 1938 report also linked the Annex to the "Public Works Administration [PWA] program" (p. 54).

The Annex was completed in 1938. It provided over 600,000 square feet of additional work space for the Bureau of Engraving and Printing employees. It was described "as the largest reinforced concrete factory type structure in the world" at "523 feet long and 251 feet wide" with two basement levels, "seven stories, attic and penthouse." The building was also fitted with two tunnels, one to a freight station and one to the older, main Bureau of Engraving and Printing building across the street. The latter tunnel used a "pneumatic tube system." ("Engraving Annex Initiates Shift," Evening Star (Washington, DC), June 24, 1938, p. B-1).    

Above: In this photo, we see the Annex in the foreground, with the main Bureau of Engraving and Printing building on the left, the Central Heating Plant on the right (the building you see emitting steam or smoke), and the U.S. Department of Agriculture complex behind. Photo by Carol Highsmith, taken between 1980 and 2006, and provided courtesy of the Library of Congress.

Above: The Annex building, 1938. Harris & Ewing photo, courtesy of the Library of Congress.

Above: Henry Morgenthau, FDR's Treasury Secretary, and Alvin Hall, the director of the Bureau of Engraving and Printing, "discuss features of new Bureau of Engraving and Printing annex," 1938. Harris & Ewing photo, courtesy of the Library of Congress.

Above: William H. Abbot was one of several landowners who were very reluctant to leave their homes to make way for the new Annex. After much bickering back and forth, the federal government had to employ its eminent domain powers to take the land, and leave with a court "a sum estimated by the Treasury to be 'full value,' leaving the final determination of the price for further action in condemnation proceedings" ("Property Owners Quitting Site of Engraving Annex," Evening Star (Washington, DC), September 21, 1936, p. B-1). Harris & Ewing photo, courtesy of the Library of Congress.

Friday, December 13, 2019

Trump's Angel of Death, Seema Verma, fails to practice personal responsibility... after demanding it from the poor (and the red hat-wearing MAGA crowd doesn't seem to care)

"Personal responsibility and self-sufficiency are bedrock American values."

--Medicare and Medicaid chief Seema Verma, comments she made before she lost tens of thousands of dollars in jewelry and asked American taxpayers to pay for it, in "Remarks by Administrator Seema Verma at the 2018 Medicaid Managed Care Summit," September 27, 2018. 

Above: Trump's Medicare and Medicaid Chief, Seema Verma. Like Betsy DeVos, the smile hides the evil that lies beneath. Public domain image, courtesy of Wikipedia.

Seema Verma dangles healthcare in front of the little people

Seema Verma, the current head of Medicare and Medicaid, has spent much of her career trying to reduce healthcare for lower-income Americans, in a demented attempt to get them to work harder - to work in a manner that she deems sufficient to deserve good health and life-saving medicine. To her, lower-income Americans are mice, and she dangles healthcare in front of them like cheese.

(As an aside, isn't it funny how people born into ancestral wealth aren't required to work for their healthcare? They can simply dip into their family's old money. Hmmm... that smells like a caste system to me... as opposed to the Great American Myth of "equal opportunity."

Verma has opposed Medicare-for-All, even though it would provide health insurance for those who don't have any; she has criticized the expansion of Medicaid, even though it has provided a very modest level of health coverage for those who can't afford private insurance; and she has tried to cut Medicaid by converting it into a stingy block grant program, under the guise of (and utilizing the neoliberal trigger word) "innovation."

In response to Verma's attempts to cut Medicaid--via block grants of limited funding, and kicking people off the program altogether--Rebecca Vallas, vice president of the Poverty to Prosperity Program (Center for American Progress), correctly stated, "Make no mistake: people will die if Medicaid block grants take effect." Vallas's argument is consistent with academic studies showing that a lack of Medicaid funding kills (see, e.g., "Study: the US could have averted about 15,600 deaths if every state expanded Medicaid," Vox, July 23, 2019). People like Verma ignore such research, because they have contempt for low-income Americans - considering them all to be lazy ne'er-do-wells, unworthy of the same level of healthcare that millionaires & billionaires receive. And that type of attitude kills thousands of Americans every year.

And this is why I call Seema Verma, "Angel of Death." Other titles and descriptions, for example, "homicidal maniac" might also be appropriate.

Seema Verma's extraordinary lack of personal responsibility (and the red hat people who don't care)

Seema Verma has a fascination with "personal responsibility," calling it a "bedrock" American value. This the main reason she wants to kick people off Medicaid - she thinks they're not practicing personal responsibility. She believes, like many right-wing fanatics, that there are plenty of well-paying jobs for everyone, if only all Americans practiced personal responsibility... and never mind the fact that right-wingers (and neoliberal Democrats too) have allowed the rich to export good-paying jobs to third world labor markets, so the rich can get richer - workers be damned.

But when it comes to Verma's own behavior, well, personal responsibility doesn't seem to apply. We've recently learned that she lost (or had stolen) tens of thousands of dollars in jewelry and other items, and then applied to have American taxpayers reimburse her for it. Her frivolous but expensive jewelry was uninsured, further highlighting her lack of personal responsibility. Yep, she didn't insure her jewelry, didn't properly safeguard it, and doesn't want to work harder--for example, take on an extra part-time job--to earn the money to replace the jewelry. She wants you to pay for it.

And still, she has the nerve to look down at low-income Americans--whom she no doubt considers to be the expendable portion of the population--and sneers, "Work harder you lazy, irresponsible parasites!"

You see, Verma is one of those despicable people who comes from a modest or poor background, attains financial success, goes all-in on American flamboyance and ego-driven conspicuous consumption, and then self-righteously scolds the class they came from. The Angel of Death bends down and wags her finger at the little people, her $10,000 necklace bouncing off their heads, her ear rings falling off and lost, "You need to be more responsible, like me!" 

Increasing the hypocrisy and utter insanity of this situation... I have seen zero outcry from the red hat-wearing MAGA crowd. I guess they're fine with it. Yes, as long as Trump approves, they're more-than-willing to grovel at Verma's feet and pay for her diamond anklets and ruby toe rings. But the people who need Medicaid? "Lazy good for-nothings!" "Slackers!!"

Isn't that amazing? Isn't that astounding? How can anyone with an ounce of integrity be a party to that?

"Whether paying millions [of taxpayer dollars] to political consultants for flattering profiles or asking taxpayers for a bailout for stolen goods she chose not to insure, she has proven unwilling to place the interests of the American people above her own. She must resign immediately."

--Congressman Joe Kennedy (D-Mass), "Rep. Kennedy calls on Trump health care administrator to resign over $47,000 stolen property claim," USA Today, December 10, 2019.

Wednesday, December 11, 2019

Hundreds of thousands of crap jobs added in 2019. Why do the super-wealthy elite (and their toadies) constantly lie to us about a "great economy"?

Above: "A Sacred Profession is Open to College Graduates," a lithograph by Elizabeth Olds (1896-1991), probably created while she was in the WPA's Federal Art Project, 1936. Image courtesy of the Smithsonian American Art Museum.

About a month ago, the Dow reached a record-breaking 28,000. And the latest jobs report showed 266,000 jobs added in November, and a very low 3.5% unemployment rate, causing economists to jump for joy.

In modern America, the Dow and the unemployment rate are pretty much all the super-wealthy elite and their toadies care about. If those two things are good, well, they falsely declare--through the mainstream media--"the economy is hot!!"

But if you look deeper into the economic picture, you will see the misery of tens of millions of Americans. For example, wages are stagnant. The latest Real Earnings Summary from the Bureau of Labor Statistics, issued this morning, tells us: "Real average hourly earnings [wages adjusted for inflation] increased 1.1 percent, seasonally adjusted, from November 2018 to November 2019." 

Um... yeah... that's pathetic. Especially in light of the record-breaking Dow, the ever-expanding fortunes of the super-wealthy, and the gargantuan tax cuts for the rich issued by Trump and the GOP in 2017-2018.

Not only are wages stagnant for workers, they're also very low. A new study shows "44% of U.S. workers are employed in low-wage jobs that pay median annual wages of $18,000." And, lest you think this is just reflective of a bunch of young people in their first foray into the working world (e.g., Walmart, burger-flipping), "Most of the 53 million Americans working in low-wage jobs are adults in their prime working years" ("Almost half of all Americans work in low-wage jobs," CBS News, December 2, 2019).  

Most of these people can't afford good housing, good healthcare, their prescriptions, nutritious food, etc. Heck, most of them can't afford a minor emergency. How is that a "great economy"?

So let's get back to the question in the title of this blog post? Why do the super-wealthy elite and their toadies constantly lie to us about a "great economy"?

Simple: The rising stock market means more wealth for them (and them alone). Though some super-wealthy Americans work, a lot of them just sit around all day eating Cheetos and watching the Stock Market, i.e., tracking how their inherited or ill-gotten money is exploiting workers. And the low unemployment rate means that fewer Americans have the time to protest against their greed, selfishness, and political bribery ... and are, instead, too busy making useless goods & services... for the disproportionate benefit of the lazy Cheetos-eating rich. To put all this another way... many of the other economic indicators, like wages or access to healthcare, are of little or no importance to them. If wages are low, or people are dying because they can't afford their insulin, well, it doesn't make the economy any less "great"... for the rich

So, the super-wealthy elite and their toadies are constantly drilling it into us: "The economy is doing great!" And this relentless propaganda keeps us submissive, keeps us thinking that our financial problems aren't structural, but personal. "Price gouging, tax havens in the Cayman Islands, and political corruption aren't the problems," those of us with weak minds think (to the delight of the billionaires), "but rather, my inability to pull myself up by my bootstraps is keeping me down! Shame on me, I must work harder for my plutocrat masters!" 

You see, the rich aren't stupid; they know what they're doing to us. But unfortunately, many of the rest of us are stupid, and don't know what's being done to us. That's why we keep electing the same neoliberal jerks into office, year after year. And the economic lies, just like the recently-exposed lies about the Afghanistan War (more lies that enriched the rich, by the way), will probably never end. Why? Because the American people have been trained to dismiss the truth as "socialism," or "deep state," or the dirty work of "libtards." 

God save us from the rich... and save us from their toadies and dupes too.

Saturday, December 7, 2019

After fully monetizing "hope & change" the Obamas have finally completed the purchase of their third mansion... and they may be eyeing a fourth. Yep, 22 bedrooms and counting...

"[Michelle Obama's book tour] is a tour for sophisticated women of means; on this night, the young, adoring students from Obama’s magnet high school were stuck in the back, in the cheap seats."

--Maureen Callahan, "Michelle Obama's money-making hypocrisy is laughable," New York Post, November 14, 2018.

Above: An African American girl by a tenement house in New York City, ca. 1935-1943. Housing and home ownership have always been problems for lower income Americans, especially lower-income African Americans. For example, during the last recession, "black families were hit particularly hard... forcing many out of their homes and pushing black homeownership rates to record lows" ("The 'heartbreaking' decrease in black homeownership," Washington Post, February 28, 2019). Photo courtesy of the National Archives.

It appears that the Obamas have finally completed the purchase of a multi-million dollar mansion in Martha's Vineyard. They now own three mansions (the others are in Chicago and D.C.), and they may be eyeing a fourth mansion. You see, they have a habit of renting mansions before purchasing them and "earlier this year, Michelle Obama rented a seven-bedroom, 12,800-square-foot contemporary-style mansion on Swallow Drive in Los Angeles’ Hollywood Hills, which has an open-air shark aquarium, a humidor room and a movie theater." So, if they buy that mansion, that would give them a private compound to stay in when they visit California, thus allowing them to completely avoid the unpleasantness of having to interact with the working class. (See, "Obamas buy Martha’s Vineyard mansion for $11.75 million," Chicago Tribune, December 5, 2019.)

Buying a fourth mansion (and a fifth, and a sixth, and a seventh) should be no problem for the Obamas. Barack can just give a few more speeches to Wall Street, and Michelle can sell some more Becoming trinkets, like "Becoming Me" onesies for infants, a "Natural colored baby onesie inspired by the first section of Mrs. Obama's Becoming memoir -- Becoming Me."

(There is also a Michelle Obama shirt that says, "Becoming Me. Us. More," which has inspired me to make my own shirt, proudly declaring, "Actualizing You. Them. Tomorrow. And Then Once Again." If I make it, will you buy it? Or do I need to spend some time in the White House before you'll buy my vapid crap?)   

Yes, the Obamas have fully monetized themselves and their insincere "hope & change" rhetoric. And if you want to be in their presence, you'd best start saving up. For example, to have attended Michelle Obama's book tour, you would have spent somewhere between $500 and $3,000 for a ticket. Only a few tickets were available for the riff-raff (i.e., the middle-class & poor). As Maureen Callahan wrote in the New York Post:

"How nice it might have been for the poorest of today's Chicago, the little girls who currently live as the young Michelle Obama did, if they could have attended this event. It's hard to believe that this thought didn't occur to [Obama], or anyone on her team, but she's clearly that far gone... Even diehard Michelle Obama fans, priced out of events housing tens of thousands, are angry. 'I think there's a disconnect,' writer Michelle Duster told CBS News in Chicago. 'What they stand for, what they have stood for and worked for, and the ticket prices.'"

Callahan explained:

"Michelle Obama has stolen liberally from the [Oprah] Winfrey playbook, grafting her own hero's journey on to a distinctly feminine, vague, non-controversial self-help template that promises personal fulfillment through consumption." 

But hey, it's okay, it's okay... because, as the Obamas travel the world in their "hope & change" snake oil wagon, small portions of their untold millions are falling out the back... for the commoners to fight over. On the Obama Foundation website, we see a circle of people holding hands in togetherness... and we're invited to "Follow Along." 

Yahoo! Follow the "hope & change" snake oil wagon! Maybe some charitable dimes will fall out for us too!

Of course... I suppose... maybe... we could make public college free, forgive all student loan debt, have Medicare-for-All, establish a job guarantee, and enjoy a new and even better New Deal... but then, well, people wouldn't need "hope & change" anymore. They wouldn't need a Becoming journal anymore, filled with Michelle's pretentious quotes. And babies wouldn't need "Becoming Me" onesies anymore. Hmmm... no wonder Barack Obama and his fellow neoliberal politicians hate the New Deal. They don't see the profit in it.

Alright, enough of that already. Let's just turn our brains off and follow Barack and Michelle on this big, grand Becoming journey. They currently have 22 bedrooms in their three mansions. Let's be morons and give them some more. Let's go buy things.

"What the Obamas are doing may seem harmless, but it comes at a cost. Not since the Clintons has a former first couple engaged in such unapologetic, avaricious money-grubbing. And we all know what that's done to their legacy. It's a significant factor in Hillary losing the White House, but she's still out there too, grifting for fun and profit."

--Maureen Callahan, "Michelle Obama’s new book is just another craven cash grab," New York Post, November 11, 2019

Thursday, December 5, 2019

Education Secretary and Debt Slave Owner Betsy DeVos may be the most evil and corrupt woman on the planet

"As the Queen of Student Debt, DeVos is burdening students with debt she knows many can't pay in order to advance the interests of those who take advantage of them [such as DeVos herself]."

--Derek Newton, "Betsy DeVos, The Queen of Debt," Forbes, August 30, 2018

Above: The Wicked Witch of the West... and East, North, and South too, our current Plutocrat of Education Besty DeVos. The smile hides the darkness that lies beneath. Public domain photo courtesy of Wikipedia.

My fellow progressives are constantly telling me that women make better and more caring leaders. And while I do believe that more women should be in government--as a matter of equal representation--I am under no delusion that the world would be a more fair and just place under female leadership. You see, it's what's in your heart, not what's in between your legs, that matters in the world of public policy. I believe that men and women have equal potential for both kindness and cruelty... and along comes Betsy DeVos to prove my point (and let's not forget Ayn Rand too, America's Mother of Sociopathy & Greed).

DeVos has spent her time as Education Secretary trying to force defrauded students into paying off college debt that they were swindled into; trying to gum-up the loan forgiveness program for public servants and non-profit workers; trying to defund the Special Olympics; and lord knows what else.

What kind of an as$hole does these things? As$hole Betsy DeVos, that's who. As$hole DeVos sits on her billions, and tries to make life harder for those beneath her on the economic ladder.

But Betsy DeVos is not through with us yet, oh no. She is now trying to remove student loan debt from the Department of Education to a quasi-governmental body, in an attempt "to block the next president from unilaterally forgiving federal student debt, which she is well aware a president could do without Congress" (see Common Dreams article here) and also, I would argue, to move student loan debt a step closer to being privatized, i.e., having federal student loan debt sold to the private sector, where there are far, FAR fewer consumer protections for debtors.

Why would DeVos want to do this? Well, probably because she profits off student loan debt and debt collection harassment. She wants Americans permanently in debt to her and her family, for generations to come, because it helps make the DeVos's extraordinarily rich. She wants to maintain her status as our debt slave owner. And Americans are just dumb enough to let her get away with it.

I try not to be vulgar on my blog (which is difficult in this day and age), but I'll make an exception here: "F*ck Betsy DeVos, f*ck her fellow plutocrats, and f*ck all those who enable her." You monsters have blood on your hands (see, for example "The Ones We’ve Lost: The Student Loan Debt Suicides," Huffington Post, September 1, 2012).

Monday, December 2, 2019

Barack Obama and his cheerleaders have become MLK's "white moderate"

"Obama's post-presidency is grating and full of contradictions. He considers himself a success but the mere fact of Trump's presidency belies this. He won on hope and counsels hopelessness."

--David Klion, news editor, Jewish Current, quote from "Obama Privately Considered Leading 'Stop-Bernie Campaign' to Combat Sanders 2020 Surge: Report," Common Dreams, November 26, 2019

Above: Michelle Obama shared this photo with the world and wished everyone a happy Thanksgiving - including (presumably) the 40 million+ Americans who live in poverty thanks to Reagan & Obama style neoliberalism. When I saw this photo I immediately thought of the Kardashians - "Look at us, look at us! Look at how happy, wealthy, and attractive we are... compared to you!Image used here for educational, non-commercial purposes.

The Obama roadblock to change

As his wife is peddling merchandise with empty sayings--for example, a shirt that says, "Find your flame and keep it lit," a tote bag that says, "Tell me your story," and another shirt that says, "Becoming Me. Us. More"--Barack Obama has been jetting around the country preaching to rich Democrats to reject progressive, New Deal-style agendas and, instead, tightly embrace the centrism & status quo that has made his family so extraordinarily wealthy. And apparently, in private conversations, Obama has also said that he'll fight Bernie Sanders if Sanders surges to the top. Obama wants to make sure that the Democratic Party never returns to its FDR roots.

Yes, as Americans' life expectancy continues to drop, as suicides continue to rise, as pharmaceutical companies intentionally put the price of medicine out of the reach of the common folk, as children drink lead from crumbling infrastructure, as student loan debt destroys lives, and as 34 million Americans say "a friend or family member recently passed away in the last five years after being unable to afford treatment for a condition," Barack Obama and his wife continue to sell centrism, and continue to hawk (small) hope, (small) change, and (bogus) togetherness for extreme financial gain. Yes, you name it, they're selling it: Book deals, Netflix deals, speeches to Corporate America, t-shirts, coffee mugs, tote bags, hats, candles, pencils, key chains, and even a nifty little Becoming journal "With over forty quotes from Mrs. Obama... to motivate you on a daily basis... to inspire you to reflect on who you are becoming" (Good Lord, do people actually buy this garbage?? Also see, "Michelle Obama’s new book is just another craven cash grab," New York Post, November 19, 2019).

Barack and Michelle Obama are Becoming the televangelists of the "hope-change-and-tell-me-who-you-truly-are" world. Of course, don't get carried away... that hope and change should be incremental, non-governmental (no significant public policy changes!) and, whenever possible, purchased through becomingmichelleobamashop.com/.

And Barack, particularly, has become something more than just a televangelist for the "Audacity [and unaffordability] of Hope." He, and his insufferable cheerleaders / stooges, have become MLK's "white moderate."

In his "Letter From a Birmingham Jail," Martin Luther King, Jr., wrote: "I must confess that over the last few years I have been gravely disappointed with the white moderate. I have almost reached the regrettable conclusion that the Negro's great stumbling block in the stride toward freedom is not the White Citizens Councillor or the Ku Klux Klanner but the white moderate who is more devoted to order than to justice; who prefers a negative peace which is the absence of tension to a positive peace
which is the presence of justice; who constantly says, 'I agree with you in the goal you seek, but I can't agree with your methods of direct action'; who paternalistically feels that he can set the timetable for another man's freedom; who lives by the myth of time; and who constantly advises the Negro to wait until a 'more convenient season.' Shallow understanding from people of good will is more frustrating than absolute misunderstanding from people of ill will. Lukewarm acceptance is much more bewildering than outright rejection."

Barack Obama, like MLK's white moderate, nods his head to progressives, but then tries to gum-up everything they do. And Obama loves to play the "adult in the room," telling everyone else to calm down, slow down, chill out, and don't do "crazy stuff." Holier-than-thou Obama always seems cool, calm, and collected. Well golly gee, I wonder if his multiple mansions, debt-free life, and never-ending cash haul affords him the luxury to be so suave, so debonair, so adult.

Millions of Americans are suffering, and millions are dying slow deaths of despair (or quick deaths at the end of a gun barrel) and Barack Obama is counseling one-baby-step-at-a-time incrementalism. This is EXACTLY what MLK's "white moderate" was doing. And like MLK, we should recognize that Obama is more of a threat to change than openly hostile conservatives are. Obama smiles, shakes our hand, and tells us that he feels our pain... but then, after we've left, he talks to the appropriate people to make certain that our needs and wishes are never fulfilled. That is worse, so much worse, than someone telling you, flat out, that they don't agree with you and will not work with you. At least with the latter, you can plan accordingly. But with the likes of Obama, you are deceived and sent down fruitless and confusing paths time and time again.

Above: Barack Obama hangs out with billionaire Richard Branson and Michelle Obama hangs out with billionaire Oprah Winfrey. The Obamas seems to spend the majority of their time hobnobbing with the super-wealthy elite. Journalist Robert Hennelly recently noted that "The problem with [Barack Obama's status quo approach] is that it fails to appreciate how that established order--the one that former President Obama is so nostalgic for--made Donald Trump possible. Under Obama’s leadership--and both Bushes’, and Clinton’s, and Reagan’s--the elites became disconnected from the circumstances of the vast majority of a country that was, and still is, in decline" ("Obama pines for the political era that created Trump in the first place," Salon, November 30, 2019). Obama / Branson photo courtesy of Mirror.co.uk and Obama / Oprah photo courtesy of Reuters and Elite Daily, both used here for educational and non-commercial purposes.

Centrism tied to philanthropy: MLK warned us about that too

A lot of Obama Cult members will say, "Hey, stop the criticism of Obama! His legacy is above reproach! And besides, he and Michelle give lots to charity." But this reminds me of something else that MLK said:

"True compassion is more than flinging a coin to a beggar. It comes to see that an edifice which produces beggars needs restructuring. A true revolution of values will soon look uneasily on the glaring contrast of poverty and wealth with righteous indignation."

In other words, when it comes to basic human needs, a revolution that lifts everyone up (like Bernie Sanders talks about) is superior to a philanthropic regime that facilitates and fortifies an economic caste system.

If MLK were alive today, I think he'd frown on the Obamas and see right through their political double-dealing and their shameless commercialization of hope.

(In contrast to the Obamas' post-presidency "hope & change" grifting, see "The simple way Jimmy and Rosalynn Carter live their lives and values," CNN, November 27, 2019.)

"Obama is intervening on behalf of a cramped, self-censoring politics, one that dreams big but fights small, one that comforts the well-off by assuring them their fortunes will be safe and the game will proceed to their benefit... This defense of the reigning economic order, originating with the donor class and media allies, with its effective abandonment of the vulnerable and disenfranchised, with nothing for those struggling to make it in a rigged economy, is a recipe for social and political unrest. From lofty heights, Obama has now become a dampener of hope, a barrier to change, and a threat to progress."

--David Dayen, "What Obama Really Wants," American Prospect, November 22, 2019