Good Reads

Several items:

☻Once again, the righties are celebrating the end of Plamegate, and once again they have their facts wrong. John Amato links to several blog posts that get the facts right and explain why all righties are wankers.

☻London police have rounded up fourteen alleged terrorists, proving once again the superiority of police work over war as an anti-terrorism tool.

☻Well, unless the police work is performed by our FBI. Walter Pincus writes in today’s Washington Post that the deadly evil Sears Tower islamofascist terrorist plot was, um, not really a plot. Not only was it a fantasy, but it was a fantasy created by the government:

Not only did government informants provide money and a meeting place for Batiste and his followers, but they also gave them video cameras for conducting surveillance, as well as cellphones, and suggested that their first target be a Miami FBI office, court records show.

At the hearing, Batiste’s attorney, John Wylie, showed that the FBI’s investigation found no evidence that his client had met with any real terrorist, received e-mails or wire transfers from the Middle East, possessed any al-Qaeda literature, or had even a picture of bin Laden.

OK, so if the cops give some guys tools for robbing a bank, and suggest which bank to rob, and then arrest them for planning to rob a bank — isn’t that entrapment?

☻Is Karl Rove losing power within the GOP? (Couldn’t happen to a creepier guy …)

☻The Pentagon says violence in Iraq is at its highest level in more than two years, but our President assures us Iraq has not fallen into civil war. I feel so much better.

☻John Dickerson explains why Rudy Giuliani will not be the GOP presidential nominee in 2008.

☻Robert Kuttner, on Labor Day:

LABOR DAY was created by the machinists union in New York in 1882 as a “workingmen’s holiday.” Unions all over America adopted the idea. By 1894, Congress passed legislation making Labor Day an official holiday. The day also celebrated the act of organizing, politically and in the workplace, to improve livelihoods and lives.

Try doing that now. In most places the corporatist overlords would downsize your ass faster than you could say “fair labor standards.”

Politically, it’s evident what is occurring. Those in a position to capture astronomical incomes are awarding themselves an ever-larger share of the national economic pie. Meanwhile, ordinary incomes, job security, health security, and retirement security are eroding.

The political mystery is why everyone else is not kicking up a fuss. After all, as the Pew report suggests, it’s not as if people are unaware of what’s happening. Here’s a clue to some of the puzzle: Polls show that people do want more reliable wages, pensions, and health insurance. But too many people have given up on the idea that the political process can be used to restore the American dream. …

… But that was not always so. Social Security, Medicare, college aid, the GI Bill, government wage-and-hour laws, and government protection of the right to unionize made a real difference in people’s lives.

These policies, which benefited the vast middle class (and helped to create it), did not just happen. They were the result of political organizing and a public awareness that government could affect the economic opportunity and security of ordinary Americans, for better or worse.

It’s understandable why politics today is often a turnoff. But if a great many middle-class and poor Americans have given up on politics, you can be sure that the economic elite is invested in politics as never before. The changes in the tax code and regulatory laws and workplace practices that benefit America’s super-rich did not just happen, either. They are the result of relentless maneuvering by the financial elite and its political allies.

I don’t know how much time we’ve got left before our descent into third-world shithole status is irreversible. But the first task is to persuade America’s workers — most of the middle class — that we can take back our country and our government from the corporatists. I don’t think it’s hopeless, yet.

22 thoughts on “Good Reads

  1. Studies have shown that the greater the concentration of wealth in relatively fewer hands and the concomitant economic depravation of everybody else in the country, the further the country slides into a reduced status world-wide. If America is still a first world country, and I’m not so sure it is, if we continue on the path we’re on, here we come second-world, third-world…If anything could wake up the American people to the reality of where we’re headed if we continue to sit by and do nothing, living as an ordinary citizen in a fifth world country would definitely be great shock therapy.

  2. Even the Washington Compost has stated that it was Armitage and that the issue should be dead. Since you seem to quote quite a bit from the Compost, shouldn’t you too accept the fact that this is dead, you were wrong, and it is now time to admit it.

  3. This story, which aired on NPR yesterday, says that the American Dream is dead. We have less social mobility than any other rich country except for the UK. The income of parents is a better predictor of the income of their children than it is in other countries. Individual effort matters less than it does in other countries, according to this story. Unfortunately, the commentator does not give the source of the data. Still, you might want to read it or listen to it at the following URL:

  4. On the alleged plot to bring down the Sears Tower:
    The gov’t today released a report designed to disprove — at least to any rational individuals — the conspiracy theorists’ claims that 9/11 was an inside job and that the Towers were brought down by explosives planted in the walls. The report points out that it would take thousands of pounds of explosives, placed by those with an extensive knowledge of the structure and structural engineering, and extensive access as well to the beams behind the walls. It’s pretty convincing.
    So how were these clowns down in Miami supposed to pull it off? I have no great objection to arresting those who seem inclined to make such attempts, no matter how unlikely their ultimate success, but spare me the blaring headlines about narrowly averted disaster.
    If no one with any knowledge of the issues involved could take the 9/11 conspiracy theories seriously, then no one with any knowledge of the issues involved could take the Miami group seriously either. They weren’t likely to find the Sears Tower, let alone blow it up.

  5. It makes me all” tingly” when you do that Maha!
    Nothing like a little “wack-a-troll” to get the juices flowing….

  6. I second what erinyes said. That was fun.

    So what if Armitage’s tale doesn’t fit the excruciatingly-investigated facts? That won’t bother anyone who is reality-challenged.

    All Armitage did was throw himself onto a grenade that had exploded long ago. How very brave.

  7. Nothing like a little “wack-a-troll” to get the juices flowing….

    At the rate Maha is twit filtering, she’ll qualify for the title, Robespierre of the Blogosphere in about another month.

  8. There has been a shift in the American culture, the Me generation, every man for himself, I got mine so screw you…you get the idea. It goes hand in hand with the idea that greed is good from the movie Wall Street. It also works hand in hand with America as a nation of consumers above all else. These amongst other things conspire against us organizing for our own good. It used to be easier in the past to get people interested in the welfare of their neighbors, their countrymen, even people in other countries. We think smaller and more selfishly than generations past. I’m not silly enough to think that past generations were perfect with grandiose ideas, but I do think there has been a concerted effort to isolate us so that we no longer automatically think of organizing for change. Corporations want us to think as consumers fighting the worker hordes to keep prices low, cheering on outsourcing, and union busting. Instead of identifying with the corporations, we should be identifying with the workers who are losing ground every day in America…we are the workers of America too, and as they lose ground so do we. I guess even now so many months later some of the LIBERAL voices disparaging the transit workers in NY still upsets me. They said things like, “I don’t have health insurance, they shouldn’t complain.” and “At least they get a pension. Why should they get anything more?”. It was all about “me, me, me”. If I don’t have it you shouldn’t either. If this was the ’50s or ’60s, people would have been saying, “I don’t have health insurance, why don’t I have insurance? This is wrong! Give ’em hell transit workers!” It would have been more like, we’re all in this together, instead of me, me, me.

  9. Well I just have to say a word as an advocate for the poor American soul known as the “day laborer” in the construction industry. Here in Florida, until last year( now $6,20) they were paid $5.20 an hour. $5.20 X 8 = $41.60. Out of that they would pay, Social Security,medicare,and FICA. bringing their wages down below the 30 dollar mark. Not including that many times they wouldn’t have transportation to a jobsite so the labor contractor would charge to the laborer a fee of $5.00 for providing oneway tranportation. The labor contractor billed for the day laborers services approximately 3 times the laborers wage.

    Gee, I should have been a CEO!

    What makes it even more cruel is that the nature of the work preformed by the day laborer is usally of the most unpleasant sort(nasty). I’ve seen these guys work like animals and have seen them treated not much better.I’ve seen one job foreman who I called Captain Bligh who delighted in extracting hard labor from these poor souls. Had Captain Bligh been born a century and a half earlier I’m convinced his chosen vocation would be a circuit riding slave breaker.

  10. When one worker is mistreated we are all mistreated!!! We should all stand together. I have in the last year decided not to buy anything from the corporate pigs. All my clothes are last years or I go to yard sales. I don’t want to buy anything that will give profit to the pigs. If I could get away with not paying taxes I would. I don’t want my tax dollars spent on the war machine.

  11. Until government is experienced by ordinary people as something genuinely positive in their lives, a force that can actually deliver the goods instead of being a corrupt sham, people will buy the right’s lies that government is a problem not a help. This is all the more true for those under thirty, who have only lived under the pall of right wing lies and social pathology.

    Until the left can effectively give voice to what many in this country are feeling:

    – why I have to work so hard – if I have a job – just to keep up

    – why health care is a cruel joke in supposedly the richest country on earth

    – why gas is over $3/gallon with oilmen in office

    – how Iraq and Katrina have shown Bush and his cronies to be incompetent, uncaring idiots

    Until that happens, ordinary people will continue to be susceptible to the right wing hypnosis, especially through the right’s strategies of

    1) crank up the fear: Warning! Warning! Terrorist alert!

    2) crank up the fear, part 2: Let’s blow up the Middle East and bring on Jesus

    3) divide and conquer: blame the liberals, the brown people, the Arabs for all woes – instead of looking to the real causes of our nation’s woes. Pay no attention to that man behind the curtain.

    4) keep everyone in the dark, isolated, and fed nice fictions by controlling the media and threatening wayward journalists with lack of access or better, imprisonment.

    5) keep showing government – or any collective action – as a futile side show. The only way to get ahead is to play ball with Republicans.

    As for reversing our slide into third world shit-hole status – in my opinion, it’s too late. The questions in my mind are: how deep we have to go, for how long, and what the scenery will look like on the way down. We’ve been heading down for several decades in my opinion, since at least Limbaugh and Reagan. Our country has sucked down some pretty heavy drugs for quite a while, and reality ain’t gonna be fun when it hits in earnest. November 2006 is our next chance to change this, and I hope it works.

  12. Wow, I am reminded again why I visit the Mahablog every day. Maha’s posts and links and the commenters consistently bring a centering of intelligence AND much needed grounding to issues being discussed. This blog is a light in the fog that shrouds America……

    Loss of community [Donna in WI], slave/master behavior [Swami], third-world status [moonbat, felicity, Jack], spin and lies [ret2327, joanr16]——-what picture do these developments form?
    America is under the control and inspiration of the corporation-minded, with the top honchos siphoning the riches for themselves. We are on an Enron path of amorality, values be damned.

  13. I guess when it comes to the working men and women in this country, we’ve all become the proverbial frogs in boilin’ water. The “I got mine so screw you” mentality that Donna in WI mentioned has its origins in Reaganomics, of course.

    Under the Dubya regime, many of the activists who’d usually be fighting for a living wage, decent health insurance, and workplace safety are distracted by a kind of triage mentality of crises: Iraq, the Katrina aftermath, the environment, and the Bushies’ various threats to the U.S. Constitution. These issues generate a sense of “clear and present danger,” while labor issues don’t. Certainly that’s an illusion, because as maha concludes, our “descent into third-world shithole status” will become irreversible if ignored much longer.

    Here’s one issue that I think could be elevated to a clear and present danger, and at least start us talking about labor again: coal-mine safety. It’s no coincidence that there’s been a sudden return of multiple-fatality mining accidents in the U.S., after a hiatus of many years. In the past, maha and many others have posted on how, when first appointed president, Bush reversed safety regs that had been in place since the 1960s. Almost immediately the Pennsylvania accident occurred, in which the miners were miraculously rescued and Bush was positively shit-faced with relief. Way too many since then didn’t make it out.

    Without health insurance, retirement savings, and enough left from the paycheck for gas at 5 bucks a gallon, a lot of people who work above ground aren’t going to make it to old age, either.

  14. One thing I have learned in my dealings with the CxO level is that people in those positions don’t respect people that don’t stand up for themselves. People that don’t, that just try and get along, are regarded as dupes and marks and patsies.

    The middle class in this country (as a group) have ceased to stand up for themselves. Oh, they may pitch a fit if someone smokes in a no-smoking section. But inspect their urine ? Tap their phone at work ? Or now at home ? Read their e-mails ? Who, really, complains ? Now we have concentration camps and torture – where are the people in the streets ? Is it any wonder that the CxO’s don’t respect the people that work for them ?

    Oh, and Re the setting up of labor day :

    Try doing that now. In most places the corporatist overlords would downsize your ass faster than you could say “fair labor standards.”

    Well, they did it then too. They fired lots of people over union organizing. The difference is, then it didn’t stop them.

  15. Just want to say that fighting off shit-hole status by re-creating a combative labor movement isn’t going to work unless we can all understand and work with the reality that the working class in this country is no longer white. The work gets done by Blacks and browns and various Asians — and some poor whites. But the majority of the workers now are not white and even less will be white as the century progresses.

    Meanwhile, the price of admission to American unionism is still to ignore racial differences in the assumption that the struggle will bind the various races together as a fighting class. This has never worked and won’t now. It confronts ordinary people with the choice between their cultures, their families (their most reliable supports) and their jobs — no question which wins when push comes to shove. Organizing now requires a real committment to understanding and bringing together a diverse working class. Unions think they can skip the internal struggle that would be involved in doing this, but race will come back to bite them if they don’t take it on.

  16. We need to understand, and make real that we are all working class. We may have “middle incomes” but if we get a wage from someone/something else, we are wager earners, we are working class. Blue-collar, white-collar, hourly-wage or salary — it doesn’t matter. We are all working class!

  17. Swami, You’ll appreciate this, since it happened in your back yard.
    My first “real” job was at an A&P market in Bellaire Bluffs, I started at $1.50 per hr which was about 75 cents per hr more than my friends earned working at Publix because A&P had an agreement with the Retail Clerks’ union. When I got my H.S. diploma I got an immediate raise to $2.25 per hr, mind you this was Florida in 1972. Shortly after, I quit and got a job as a “Rod Buster” at Point Brittany which is near the Sunshine Skyway Bridge,. that job was non-union, but paid $3.50 at entry level.
    Several months later, I left that job and got hired at Treasure Island on a condo project for $5.00 per hr, stayed with that firm, moving on to a project on Sand Key. When I quit to move to Los Angeles in ’74, I was up to $6.50 per hr., my girlfriend was making about $3.00 per hr checking groceries at the A&P.
    When we arrived in L.A., I went to Commercial Diving School, my girl friend (now Wife) got a job at a grocery store and was hired at $12.00…The store was unionized. I eventually joined the Pile drivers union and when I left L.A. a piledriver was making $28.00 per hr, a construction Diver made 55.00. Then we moved back to FL, no unions, slave labor. My first job paid $11.00 per hr(dock builder), this was in 1990! My medical plan consisted of a roll of duct tape and a bottle of asprin. My wife went to work for a major Insurance company. when she got pregnant ( my sperm was reported to be too lazy to cause pregnancy), she realized she had no maternity insurance. Luckily her pregnancy was normal, and we had no add’t expenses.
    We got a large discount from the O.B Gyn, but the bill was mui large and we have just recently paid off the debt for our daughters’ birth.(she’s 13 now!)
    Bottom line, somehow the American people came to regard unions as corrupt. That bulwark was breeched, and the trades were no longer regarded as a desireable career path. Now we have little brown guys doing most of that work, and wages have dropped, but amazingly, the price of construction has gone through the roof.
    The “Able Body” temp in Largo has a Hummer as their vehicle(I saw it parked at “The Wing House” off Ulmerton Rd), and the guys that have to work for them are known as “rent-a-bums” and are indeed abused besides making squat for wages, this is an atrocity!
    I’ve used temp services on some projects, ALWAYS give the guys a large “Tip”. Most of them are at the temp service due to loosing their driving “privileges” due to a dui or lack of auto insurance, or failure to pay child support.
    We hear much of the Military-Industrial complex, but even as abhorrent is the Prison-industrial complex. Many of these guys get stuck in a system of alcholism, drug abuse, and failure to keep up with child support which sentences them to a lifetime of virtual slavery. This sums it up, a portable generator rents for $45.00 per day, I can rent a man from a day labor service which will pay him about the same. A hotel(cheap) room in Orlando goes for about $45.00, which is where a lot of these guys stay. This is very bad…..
    Labor Day rant over….

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