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The Morning Grumpy – 3/12/13

12 Mar

All the news, views, and filtered excellence fit to consume during your morning grumpy.


1. Whither The Dixie Chicks?

It was ten years ago this week that the Dixie Chicks, extremely popular then and far from controversial, caused a massive stir when singer Natalie Maines declared on stage in London: “Just so you know, we’re on the good side with y’all. We do not want this war, this violence, and we’re ashamed that the president of the United States is from Texas.”  It was a little more than a week before their fellow Texan launched a war based on lies.

Their careers were destroyed due to their fairly innocuous statement. However, since 2008, Conservative musicians, activists and pundits have made it a sport to insult, cajole, humiliate, de-humanize and threaten President Obama with little consequence and to the approval of the same people who demonized The Dixie Chicks.

2. Left 3.0, or how Conservatives see Liberals.

Left 3.0, tracing the ideological progression from old Left to New Left to today’s newer Left. Left 3.0 is not only an ideological movement, but also effectively controls (or rather guides) a political party fully competitive at the national level. Left 3.0 is an entity whose internal divisions are minuscule in comparison to the shared convictions that hold it together. Left 3.0 is a creature of its times, well-organized and fully synced to the digital culture out of which it emerged. And Left 3.0 has come into its own at a time, not coincidentally, when its political rival, the gop electoral coalition, already under strain because of shifting demographics, is deeply divided over vexing social issues on which Left 3.0 offers clear answers.

The original essay and the summary found at Salon speaks of an “emerging Democrat coalition”. However, I’m not sure there is one, ideologically speaking. I think there is a coalition of voters, but one that is not particularly influential on policy. The new coalition seems to be put together as a means to get nominal Democrats elected while enacting center-right, corporate-friendly legislation. I don’t find a progressive block of national Democrats who have been able to elevate their voice above the din of the aging Republican/Center-Right Democrat majority in this country. Perhaps that will change as the angry, selfish baby boomer generation dwindles, but I’m still searching for a policy agenda that benefits the middle class or the poor.

3. Speaking of which, the Congressional Progressive Caucus is still waiting for any major media outlet to cover their proposed budget with any amount of sincerity.

Every Sunday morning on the talk shows and every night on cable TV, we’re bombarded with updates from Sens. Lindsay Graham and John McCain and Rep. Paul Ryan about  Republican budget proposals, but we hear very little about counter proposals on the budget or economic issues from the actual left in Congress. There are three visions for the future, President Obama’s balanced centrism, Rep. Ryan’s Randian fantasies, and the Budget For All from the Progressive Caucus.

• The Budget for All achieves $6.8 trillion in deficit reduction, hits the same debt to GDP ratio as the Republican budget, and has lower deficits in the last five years, but does so in a responsible way that does not devastate what Americans want preserved.
• We achieve these notable benchmarks by focusing on the true drivers of our deficit – unsustainable tax policies, the wars overseas, and policies that helped cause the recent recession – rather than putting the middle class’s  social safety net on the chopping block.

Perhaps if we offered equal coverage for all three competing plans, we might have a more reasoned debate.

4. Corporate profits at an all-time high, corporate cash in the trillions, stock market soaring, median wages flat. Indeed they are! It’s all part of the plan. Here’s an old favorite, The Great Speedup.

The conditions of America’s jobless recovery detailed in this essay nearly two years ago have only continued—corporate earnings have risen at an annualized rate of 20 percent since the end of 2008, according to the New York Times, while Americans’ disposable income has inched ahead 1.4 percent by comparison. Or, as a top economist for Bank of America told the Times, “So far in this recovery, corporations have captured an unusually high share of the income gains.” Here’s why.

Webster’s defines speedup as “an employer’s demand for accelerated output without increased pay,” and it used to be a household word. Bosses would speed up the line to fill a big order, to goose profits, or to punish a restive workforce. Workers recognized it, unions (remember those?) watched for and negotiated over it—and, if necessary, walked out over it.

But now we no longer even acknowledge it—not in blue-collar work, not in white-collar or pink-collar work, not in economics texts, and certainly not in the media (except when journalists gripe about the staff-compacted-job-expanded newsroom). Now the word we use is “productivity,” a term insidious in both its usage and creep. The not-so-subtle implication is always: Don’t you want to be a productive member of society? Pundits across the political spectrum revel in the fact that US productivity (a.k.a. economic output per hour worked) consistently leads the world. Yes, year after year, Americans wring even more value out of each minute on the job than we did the year before. U-S-A! U-S-A!

For 90 percent of American workers, incomes have stagnated or fallen for the past three decades, while they’ve ballooned at the top, and exploded at the very tippy-top: By 2008, the wealthiest 0.1 percent were making 6.4 times as much as they did in 1980 (adjusted for inflation). And just to further fuel your outrage, that 22 percent increase in profits? Most of it accrued to a single industry: finance.

In other words, all that extra work you’ve taken on—the late nights, the skipped lunch hours, the missed soccer games—paid off. For them.

Yay, America!

Fact Of The Day: The metric system never gained momentum in the US because it was deemed “atheistic” in the 19th century. Christians ruin everything.

Quote Of The Day: “In the beginning, the Universe was created. This has made a lot of people very angry and been widely regarded as a bad move.” – Douglas Adams

Video Of The Day: “No Diggity Vs. Thrift Shop (Mashup)” – Ed Sheeran & Passenger

Song Of The Day: “Wake Up Alone” – Amy Winehouse

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