Stuff to Read

David Leonhardt, “American Capitalism Isn’t Working.”

Things began to change in the 1970s. Facing more global competition and higher energy prices, and with Great Depression memories fading, executives became more aggressive. They decided that their sole mission was maximizing shareholder value. They fought for deregulation, reduced taxes, union-free workplaces, lower wages and much, much higher pay for themselves. They justified it all with promises of a wonderful new economic boom. That boom never arrived.

Even when economic growth has been decent, as it is now, most of the bounty has flowed to the top. Median weekly earnings have grown a miserly 0.1 percent a year since 1979. The typical American family today has a lower net worth than the typical family did 20 years ago. Life expectancy, shockingly, has fallen this decade.

Sam Stein, Lachlan Markay, “How No Labels Went From Preaching Unity to Practicing the Dark Arts.” Those third-way, centrist organizations that try to pull the Democrats to the “center” are just stalking horses for the Right.

Greg Sargent, “After the latest Mueller news, these corrupt Trump moves look much worse.”

What we now know is this. During much of that period, the Trump Organization was secretly pursuing a business deal in Russia that required Kremlin approval — even though the most senior members of Trump’s own campaign, and possibly Trump himself, knew at the time that Russia was waging an attack designed to sabotage our democracy on Trump’s behalf, which they eagerly sought to help Russia carry out.

Garrett Graff, “Mueller’s breadcrumbs suggest he has the goods.”

Josh Marshall, “President [GHW] Bush and the Road to Trumpism.”

Bush was an institutionalist, someone fundamentally more interested in governance than politics. He was also very much a patrician, something which is central to many of the current tributes. But you can see at the heights of his political career how that fundamental institutionalism and focus on governance was repeatedly set aside at critical moments for political advantage, political necessity. In that way, while he was not fundamentally a part of it, Bush very much, perhaps in spite of himself, laid the groundwork for the performative politics of rightwing extremism and the valorization of hostility to all compromise which was ushered in with Newt Gingrich, became the center of gravity of GOP politics in the Obama era and came to full bloom under President Trump.

16 thoughts on “Stuff to Read

  1. " Bush very much, perhaps in spite of himself, laid the groundwork for the performative politics of right wing extremism "

    Yes Gulag also pointed this out in a comment on the previous thread, I had never thought of the connection before? I've always had a bad impression of H.W. for three things: 1-the way he surrendered to Reagan's "trickle down" con game in 1980. H.W. had it right when he called it "voodoo economics" but then capitulated in his lust for the VP spot, zero integrity. 2 – The Willy Horton ads he ran against  Dukakis in 1988 (though Gore was the first to mention Horton in the primaries). H.W. weaponized Horton in a outrageously racist campaign ad. 3- The victory Parade he staged after the Gulf War. To me it was a disgusting exploitation of our military and led the way to the routine trivialization of military service we see today. I guess compared to Trump and his war criminal son H.W. was a statesman, bar meet floor! He was a good Family man though.

  2. What freedumb types have never understood, is that capitalism and democracy are fragile constructs which must be intelligently maintained.  Brave new ideas (usually extremism which benefits only the plutocratic elites) are rationalizations which can ruin the better aspects of capitalism and democracy, if not ruin them completely.  And then the angry mob runs wild with highly unpredictable results.

    Still, I couldn’t have predicted that the right would blindly embrace tribal authoritarianism the way it has. Party R mostly cultivated blind faithers (evangelicals, libertarians). So I guess I was being naive.

  3. Capitalism isn't working in America because "American Capitalism" isn't capitalism, and hasn't been for some time.  Losses of too big to fail corporations and banks are covered by the tax payers without any impact to the executives and shareholders.  Firing employees en masse is an acceptable tactic to increase shareholder profitability.  And the tenet of capitalism that workers share in gains made by their labor is no longer, when you see that weekly earnings have risen 0.1 percent in the last 40 years, and that minimum wage, last raised in 2009 to the current $7.25 per hour,  has lost about 9.6% of its purchasing power to inflation.

    When they initially coined the phrase “a rising tide lifts all boats” as a justification for the trickle down economics that has bastardized capitalism, they knew it was not true then. The only boats lifted are those of the ultra wealthy. But that was always the intent.

  4. Costs were externalized on steroids. Once post wwll business tried to meet government restrictions . then they decided to externalize the costs blame government for their own failures and then take over government to neuter all attempts to control capitalists worst tendencies. Ie the last 40 years.

  5. Government in a functioning democracy is the invention of the people and their servant.  No, I don't thing the US democracy is "functioning" – not in the way the founders intended. By the intentions of the founders, referring to the "Federalist Papers", the US House of Representatives (and later the US Senate, when they became directly elected) were supposed to be responsive "to the people alone".  At least Hamilton thought so.

    The matching love to that thought is that Corporations are also the invention of the people. A corporate charter is issued by the government to give permission for a corporation to exist. The state government in a "functioning" democracy is also supposed to be the tool of the people to exert the power of the state for the good of the people. Ergo, the standard for regulating corporations should be a set of standards that benefit society at large, not CEOs, corporate profits or shareholders.

     This basic precept is getting lost – government and corporations are inventions of mankind for the good of mankind. It's not a radical concept of revolutionaries that they exist to serve us – not the other way around.

  6. I have a nightmare where I see some form of a Civil War coming.

    And in that nightmare, I can see that tRUMP may be the cause.

    I can see him call for violence in defense of…  HIMSELF, of course!  Oh, he'll wrap himself in the flag, the Constitution, the Bible, baseball, and apple pie – but NO Chevrolet – all right.  

    And does anyone think his sucker's won't run to get their guns to defend their Dear Leader?

    I can't see tRUMP going quietly.  And therefore, I can't see his devoted followers going quietly.

    I really, really hope I'm wrong.

    What think you?

  7. Gulag – I described the "Flying Monkeys" strategy a week ago. When Trump is caught in the legal system with irrefutable proof staring us in the face, Trump will demand his cult followers ignore the facts and threaten the system with random violence unless/until charges against Trump are dropped. This seems like a fantastic, paranoid scenario and it should be.  

    Trump has a fanatical cult following, but how many will undertake violence? I'm not sure – most are gutless wannabes who will flake out when they hit reality. A few aren't. 

    But I think it will be the last stage of the insanity and it might unite all who are NOT part of the cult. Like you, I hope I'm really, really wrong.

  8. Gulag: " I can't see tRUMP going quietly.  And therefore, I can't see his devoted followers going quietly. "

    Oh I agree 100% that is why he needs to go down at the ballot box. If Mueller's report is really bad and proves an impeachable offense the best we can hope is that he resigns. Impeaching him is a waste of time, the Senate will never convict, partly because they are spineless yes men and partly because they can see the "civil war" scenario as well. Me thinks we are stuck with Trump until 2020 at best. It could be worse at least he hasn't started a needless war yet, Shrub didn't make it nine months before he did the call up!

  9. Another Civil War would be regretable, but, obviously, they didn’t learn from the first one. If that’s what it takes, they will regret their choice. I expect NATO would not sit on their hands if the geriatric neo-Confederates proved less inept than expected.

  10. Sorry, Doug! 😬

    Maybe that's where I read/heard it!   ðŸ˜‰

    I have written many times about our Cold Civil War rapidly heating up.  Maybe hard and fadt enough to boil over.

    And I'll stick to that – even without tRUMP starting it.

    Watch the winners in Red v. Blue maps of US Congressional districts over the last 50 years.  The urban and  coastal states are getting much Bluer, while the rural, Southern, and mid-American states growing ever more Red.

    The big change in last month's elections, was that the suburbs – even those in more conservative states – became either Blue, or Bluer.

    Imo, the nation is split between more rural districts/states, and suburban and urban districts/states.

    Maybe not as geographically and morally distinct as the Civil War, where it was North v. South, and free v. enslaved.

    But the causes of that war and the current issues confronting us remains the same:


    Red = predominantly older, white, and heterosexual (mostly "Christian") folks.

    Blue = a mix of races, religions, sexual orientations, etc…


  11. IMHO—-I can't see Trump ever resigning or admitting any wrong doing.  I also think he will throw his own family under the bus to save his own fat ass.  As long as he has power, he will abuse it and that's dangerous.  I truly believe he would start a nuclear war if he thought it would benefit him.  I guess our  only hope is the Mueller report and/or Congress.  However, I really do not have much faith in Congress and I'm not sure what Mueller can do with what he learns.

  12. I can't possibly count the times my comments echo the opinions of Maha and others who have expressed themselves superbly. I wasn't being critical at all, Gulag, when you said something I agree with and I previously opined on.

    Uncledad – the purpose of impeachment, assuming evidence of serious criminal activities is exposed, is crucial regardless of the make-up of the Senate and the probable outcome. The DRAMA of an impeachment, the presentation of evidence and witnesses, will galvanize the country. People will watch, they will think and they will discuss in detail, the history-in-the-making. People who won't study the nuances of a Mueller report WILL tune in for the impeachment in the Senate. It's the ultimate reality-TV show.

    At the end of an impeachment, Senators will watch how the public has responded – if Trump's reputation is ruined with the vast majority of voters including independents and many Republican voters, Senators must vote knowing it's a legacy vote – they will forever be tied to the side they choose. If Trump is guilty and goes down like Benedict Arnold, their vote to acquit follows them in every future election. The GOP is desperately going to want to avoid impeachment if the proof is there so they don't have to publicly declare. And that's exactly what we want to force them to do. That's all assuming the evidence IS there. 

    If the evidence of SERIOUS criminal activities is not there, impeachment could drive Trump's approval UP. Clinton got a bump from an impeachment which the public saw as purely biased chicken poop over a BJ. 

    Regarding Trump resigning, not a chance UNLESS it's tied to a pardon from the VP who ascends to the Oval Office. If the evidence of treason is there, a pardon for Trump ends the career of the new prez, as it did for President Ford. The public doesn't like a rigged game. I'm not sure Pence will pardon Trump, and a discussion of a pardon in advance is obstruction of justice. It's receiving something of value (the presidency) in exchange for immunity for crimes. 

  13. Doug,

    I was trying to be humorous with my choice of emoticons.  I really loved that first one!  I'd never used it before.

    Hell, after so many years, it'd be damn near impossible in our little community to not have written almost the same things by coming to the same conclusions – just in our own ways!

  14. Blue-Red has a strong city-country element too.  And then there's yellow.  In France the "yellow vests" won their rescind of the gas tax increase.  They had to get a bit messy to do so.  I don't think they were being conservative, or all that socialist either.  I think they were working class people of all colors tired of being abused by the golden 1%.

  15. Doug: " People who won't study the nuances of a Mueller report WILL tune in for the impeachment in the Senate. It's the ultimate reality-TV show. "

    We'll see, we haven't had an impeachment since our media has become so fractured, I'm not sure anything changes at all, FOX and the wing-nut media world will paint the proceedings as an out of control political power grab by the "angry leftists". Trump supporters will believe what the wing-nut-o-sphere tells them, maybe a few in middle can be swayed ?

  16. How about giving Trump a lobotomy…or maybe something less intrusive like an exorcism?

    Trump has in my opinion met the criteria to qualify for impeachment. He's a big bloated bag of shit.

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