Sunday Open Thread

I hope you are enjoying this weekend with family and friends.

This entry was posted in Gospel, Open Thread, Politics and tagged , , , . Bookmark the permalink.

36 Responses to Sunday Open Thread

  1. rikyrah says:

    Sam Wang gives Democrats a 72 percent chance of keeping control of the Senate. It’s not a widely held view, but he did accurately predict every Senate race in 2012. Here’s why the pundits may be underestimating Democrats this year.

    “Fundamentals” pull probabilities away from the present. For PEC and Daily Kos, the win probability is closely linked to the poll margin. The Daily Kos model was created by Drew Linzer, of Votamatic fame. Both are based on polls alone.

    The mainstream media organizations are a different story. They show a general tendency to be more favorable to Republicans. For Alaska (AK), Arkansas (AR), and North Carolina (NC), the discrepancy between PEC/DKos and NYT/WaPo/538 is rather large. Where PEC shows an average of 4.02 out of 6 key seats going Democratic, those organizations show 2.75 to 3.16 seats. This key difference, 0.86 to 1.27 seats, is enough to account for the fact that PEC’s Democratic-control probability is 70%, while theirs is between 32% and 42%.

  2. rikyrah says:

    The punditry vs. the presidency
    How the constant chorus of ‘do something’ Obama foreign policy critics gets it wrong
    BY Michael Cohen
    Sunday, August 31, 2014, 4:30 AM

    There is a fun foreign policy game making all the rounds in Washington D.C. this summer: Pin the tail on Barack Obama.

    Its appeal is not hard to understand; it’s so easy to play.

    Step 1: Pick a foreign crisis that touches even slightly on U.S. national security interests. This shouldn’t be hard, because the United States defines practically everything in the world as being an American interest.

    Step 2: Make clear that this is no garden-variety problem but rather “the defining crisis of [OBAMA’S] presidency,” or a threat to the “very foundations of global order” or the answer to the question, “is this how World War III begins.”

    Step 3: Bemoan the lack of “leadership,” “strategy,” “attention” or “fortitude” from the commander in chief. Note that the President is “weirdly detached” and “emotionally disengaged” (bonus points for a Churchill reference).

    Make corny jokes about how Obama’s focus on golf is “turning into ‘a real handicap.'” Ask snarky questions like “what would it look like if America actually had a Middle East strategy” that wasn’t defined by “inaction” and the lack of a “clear vision.” Even suggest that if only a Russian strongman were running America, those terrorists would finally get their due.

  3. rikyrah says:

    Why Mitt Romney may again be the GOP’s next great hope

    By Edward Klein

    August 30, 2014 | 4:09pm

    The most likely Republican presidential candidate for 2016 is . . . Mitt Romney?

    The former Massachusetts governor has run and lost two bids for the White House — in the 2008 Republican primaries and again in the 2012 general election. What’s more, he proved to be a foot-in-mouth candidate who blew his chances of winning in 2012 by writing off 47% of the electorate and suggesting that illegal immigrants “self-deport.”

    And yet, establishment insiders in the GOP tell me that the third time may be the charm.

    “The smart folks in the party are not committed to any presidential candidate this early,” said Scott Reed, the senior political strategist for the US Chamber of Commerce, the powerful business lobby that has scored a string of establishment victories over Tea Party candidates in this year’s Republican primaries. “But Romney can’t be dismissed as the guy who lost last time.

    “You watch him on TV these days, and he’s a new guy with total command of the issues and a real presence,” Reed added. “He could throw an organization together and get the money.”
    Modal Trigger

    A wealthy New York-based Republican with close ties to members of the donor class, who spoke to me on the condition of anonymity, wholeheartedly agrees.

    “Most of the people I talk to who are involved in Republican politics as donors want a winner,” he told me. “And many of these people are talking about Romney because so many of the things he said in 2012 — about Russia being a ‘geopolitical foe’ and people losing their health insurance under ObamaCare — have come to pass.”

  4. rikyrah says:

    Abbott’s Houston raid didn’t end with arrests, but shut down voter drive


    Staff Writer

    Published: 30 August 2014 11:24 PM

    Updated: 31 August 2014 12:36 AM

    On an overcast Monday afternoon, officers in bulletproof vests swept into a house on Houston’s north side. The armed deputies and agents served a search warrant. They carted away computers, hard drives and documents.

    The raid targeted a voter registration group called Houston Votes, which was accused of election fraud. It was initiated by investigators for Attorney General Greg Abbott. His aides say he is duty-bound to preserve the integrity of the ballot box.

    His critics, however, say that what Abbott has really sought to preserve is the power of the Republican Party in Texas. They accuse him of political partisanship, targeting key Democratic voting blocs, especially minorities and the poor, in ways that make it harder for them to vote, or for their votes to count.

    A close examination of the Houston Votes case reveals the consequences when an elected official pursues hotly contested allegations of election fraud.

    The investigation was closed one year after the raid, with no charges filed. But for Houston Votes, the damage was done. Its funding dried up, and its efforts to register more low-income voters ended. Its records and office equipment never were returned. Instead, under a 2013 court order obtained by Abbott’s office, they were destroyed.

    And the dramatic, heavily armed raid never was necessary, according to Fred Lewis, president of Texans Together, the nonprofit parent group of Houston Votes. “They could have used a subpoena,” he said. “They could have called us and asked for the records. They didn’t need guns.”

  5. rikyrah says:

    Vladimir Putin Isn’t Going To Stop

    Wreaking havoc in Ukraine is just the beginning. posted on Aug. 31, 2014, at 4:21 p.m.
    Miriam Elder
    BuzzFeed Staff

    On Friday night, a local lawmaker left his home in the northern Russian city of Pskov when he was attacked from behind by three men and beaten unconscious only to wake up, bloodied, in a hospital hours later. The lawmaker, Lev Shlosberg, had been leading an investigation into the mysterious burials of several members of the Pskov-based 76th Airborne Division, who were rumored to have died fighting in Ukraine. Journalists who attempted to reach the cemetery days earlier were also attacked.

    TV Rain, one of Russia’s last remaining independent news outlets, has interviewed Russian servicemen taken prisoner in Ukraine. The Soldiers Mothers Committee, an NGO that focuses on human rights abuses in the Russian military, says it has counted 400 cases of dead or wounded Russian soldiers in Ukraine. Yet Russian dissidents still feel the need to pen essays beseeching the West to understand that a war is underway.


    Russia watchers are now trying to figure out Vladimir Putin’s grand strategy. Is he trying to foster chaos of the type that plagued the former Yugoslavia in the 1990s, in order to leverage his position at the negotiating table? Does he want to see another “frozen conflict” — of the type that already afflicts several other former Soviet republics, like Moldova with Transdnistria or Georgia with South Ossetia and Abkhazia? Does he want to follow his own Crimean model and make East Ukraine — namely the regions of Donetsk and Lugansk — part of Russia?


    Which is to say, those who think Putin will stop in Ukraine are misguided. His nationalism appears to be growing by the day, but it has old roots. Many were confounded when Putin embraced Alexander Solzhenitsyn, the Soviet dissident writer best known in the West for exposing Russia’s network of labor camps in The Gulag Archipelago and One Day In The Life Of Ivan Denisovich. But later in life, working off the same deep Orthodox faith that once sustained him as an opponent to the atheist Soviet regime, he turned to a Slavic nationalism that once had him appear sorely out of touch, but today increasingly fashionable. In a 1990 essay called “Rebuilding Russia,” he urged the creation of a Slavic state built on Russian Orthodoxy. It would encompass Russia, Ukraine, Belarus and northern Kazakhstan.

    “Twenty years ago I wondered what would happen if Russia had a Milosevich,” said Toomas Hendrik Ilves, the president of Estonia. “Pan-Slavism, Orthodoxy, fascism. I think it’s heading in that direction.”

  6. rikyrah says:

    August 31, 2014 1:34 PM
    How the Megadonors of the Right Think

    By Martin Longman

    Let’s be clear about who the political enemy is in this country:

    Three years ago, Home Depot co-founder Kenneth Langone helped lead an unsuccessful effort by a group of GOP megadonors to persuade Gov. Chris Christie to make a run for president in 2012.

    Now Langone, who remains a Christie cheerleader, said he is convinced the New Jersey governor is the “guy who can win” the 2016 presidential election — and that the George Washington Bridge lane closure controversy is in his rear-view mirror.

    “If he decides, and I’d be more inclined to say when he decides to throw his hat in the ring, I think he’s going to be a formidable competitor,” Langone said in an interview. “People I talk to are still high on him. He looks fabulous. He looks healthy. He’s energized.”

  7. rikyrah says:

    Went out to the store today and saw the cutest little Black girl, standing in line with her mother, with her Doc McStuffin’s doctor bag in one hand, and her stuffed Lambie in the other. Just made me smile.

  8. rikyrah says:

    Photos: The Root 100 Release Party at Martha’s Vineyard

    The star-studded affair celebrated the annual list of the most influential African-American leaders.

    By: The Root Staff
    Posted: Aug. 20 2014 3:42 PM

    On Aug. 19 The Root hosted a reception to announce the honorees who made The Root 100 for 2014. Now in its fifth year, The Root 100 is our annual ranking of the most influential African-American leaders. This year, for the first time, the list was unveiled at Martha’s Vineyard in Massachusetts. Attendees included Scandal and Grey’s Anatomy creator Shonda Rhimes, activist Benjamin Todd Jealous and actress Gugu Mbatha-Raw. The Root 100 complete list, with rankings, will be released Sept. 10.

  9. Liza says:

    I feel bad for Michael Sam. No NFL team claimed him on waivers, so he is now a free agent. And I haven’t seen where he has been given a spot on a practice squad. He had a good pre-season, and supposedly there are all these teams needing pass rushers. Makes me wonder what is going on. I wonder if they’re ever going to let him play.

    Hell, I haven’t liked the St. Louis Rams since they left LA. And St. Louis isn’t the most progressive city on the map either. They said it was a “football decision.”

  10. rikyrah says:

    Because My House Is the Only Place Where He’s Not Seen As Dangerous

    My Thing Is: In America, my 11-year-old’s height and brown skin mean he’s treated unfairly, even by teachers. I know in my heart that the decision to bring him home to be educated saved his life.
    By: Julia Dumas Wilks
    Posted: Aug. 25 2014 3:03 AM

    It’s back-to-school season. However, in our family, we won’t be going back anywhere. We have chosen to educate at home.

    Now, hold on one minute before you judge. Believe me, I never thought I would be one of “those moms.” Let me explain how and why I have chosen this unlikely route and why I think more black parents who have the resources and ability to do so should follow suit.

    My son’s name is Khalil. He is 11 years old, naturally curious, talkative, full of light and highly energetic. He was blessed to attend outstanding early-childhood and preschool programs. He thrived in the intimate environments of preschool. He talked, walked and met every milestone on time.

    However, as he grew from the cute baby into a gentle giant, I noticed how others began to perceive him. Tall stature and brown skin became symbols of someone dangerous. Teachers became fearful of him. He was told that he was bad, often accused of doing something wrong without being given the benefit of the doubt. He could not afford to have a bad day. Meanwhile, if blond, blue-eyed Billy had a bad day, he just needed a hug.

    I wasn’t completely surprised by the disparities in the way my son was treated compared with his white classmates. From the moment Khalil was born, I knew I would have a fierce battle to fight raising a black male child in America. We see case after case of black males being labeled, targeted, and then either imprisoned or killed.

    I believe this road begins much earlier than most parents think. It starts in elementary school, when little black boys are prejudged and labeled. They feel the change in how others perceive them and are often unable to recover from the psychological effects of prejudice at such an early age. Some become angry, while others simply disengage.

    In addition, I noticed that as the classroom sizes grew, so did Khalil’s frustrations with school. I saw a change in my own son. He became depressed and frustrated. The child who loved reading, creating comic books and doing science experiments now begged me not to send him to school. How could this be?

    We also spent more and more time on homework. Instead of an hour of review, I often spent several hours a night reteaching materials that he could not grasp while at school. Unable to get proper assistance from the schools, I chose to get my son tested privately and quickly discovered that he was autistic

  11. rikyrah says:

    Dear Lifetime: How Does One Cast a Light-Skinned, Skinny Missy Elliott and Timbaland?

    The cable network really tried it—and failed.
    By: Yesha Callahan
    Posted: Aug. 11 2014 12:31 PM

    Lifetime’s Aaliyah biopic is really starting to perturb a lot of people. In the cable network’s most recent casting reveal, we have the actors who will portray Missy Elliott and Timbaland, two of the people who had a hand in crafting Aaliyah’s sound.

    First, let’s take a look at Elliott and Timbaland of yesteryear:

    And now, here are the two people cast by Lifetime to portray the producers—Chattrisse Dolabaille as Elliott and Izaak Smith as Timbaland:

    Insert any random “WTF” gif you can find. I’ll use Arnold Drummond.

    I get it—not every actor or actress will resemble the person he or she is playing, but come on. This casting is a huge stretch, even for Lifetime.

    Of course, those on Twitter had their opinions about the casting, and #lifetimecastings once again took on a life of its own:

  12. rikyrah says:

    John Crawford Case: It’s Open Carry for Whites and Open Season on Blacks

    So what if police thought the toy gun he was holding was a rifle when they shot and killed him? Ohio is an open-carry state. Except, it seems, for African Americans.
    By: Albert L. Butler
    Posted: Aug. 21 2014 3:00 AM

    While the attention of America—and the world, for that matter—is on the demand for answers about the death of an unarmed 18-year-old in Ferguson, Mo., I wanted to take a moment to discuss another officer-involved shooting that happened just four days before Michael Brown was gunned down.

    John Crawford III was shot in a Wal-Mart after police received a 911 call alerting them that a man with a rifle was walking around the store. Officers arrived on the scene and, after a brief encounter, shot the 22-year-old man, who later died of a gunshot wound to the torso. As we now know, Crawford was holding a Crosman MK-177 air pump rifle—a nonlethal replica air rifle, intended for a child—and sold at the very store where he was shot while carrying it. Much of the focus of the discussions around this case has been on this fact: Why would police shoot a man holding a child’s replica gun in the store that sold it? A fair question, to be sure, but I wish to raise another.

    Ohio is an “open carry” state. So even if Crawford were carrying a real, fully loaded rifle, why would that raise any alarms? How could that possibly be a reason to kill him?

    I’ll let that marinate for a second while I give you a little background on what open carry actually means. It varies from state to state, but Ohio’s open-carry laws mean an individual can possess a firearm without a permit in most public spaces (including stores) so long as it is fully visible. In fact, in Ohio, you only need a permit if you wish to conceal a handgun. That means if you want to walk around with an AK-47, AR-15 or even a Remington 870 pump-action shotgun, no problem—so long as you don’t conceal it and/or go around threatening people with it.

    Which brings me back to John Crawford. He was holding a toy gun in the store that sold it, and even if he were holding an honest-to-goodness rifle loaded with real bullets, he was well within his Ohioan rights to do so. Who was he threatening? We’ve seen open-carry activists all over the country walk around in public and visit major chain stores without so much as a police scolding, let alone a confrontation with police or an actual shooting.

  13. rikyrah says:

    Belle: A Film That Defied Expectations

    The film’s star and director talked to The Root about how an inspirational character helped shaped the movie, which is now out on DVD.

    by: Julie Walker
    Posted: Aug. 26 2014 5:56 PM

    Actress Gugu Mbatha-Raw, who stars in the movie Belle—now out on DVD—grew up in England watching Jane Austen films but never imagined that she would play the lead in a period drama.

    Those films, like the books they were based on, never had black or biracial heroines, but Belle does. The film was inspired by the true story of Dido Elizabeth Belle, the daughter of an enslaved African woman and an officer in the British Royal Navy. Belle was raised a free woman in 17th-century England.

    The film opened in May to rave reviews and so far has grossed $10,722,990 (as of Aug. 24, 2014), according to Box Office Mojo. Not bad for a movie that only opened on four screens and had trouble getting made because of the subject matter.

    Mbatha-Raw told The Root in May, before the film’s U.S. release, that she wanted young girls to be able to see themselves in Belle. “This is the first time I have seen a period drama with a biracial woman as the lead and it is told from a female British perspective,” said Mbatha-Raw, who has a white English mother and black South African father. “The film explores issues of identity, race, class and gender, which are very universal themes, but also the film is this sweeping love story. It is such a different perspective, and I think it is important to know as a biracial person myself.”

  14. rikyrah says:

    My Friends’ Colorism Is Affecting My Baby’s Facebook Likes!

    Race Manners: You may be right, but policing the biases of everyone in your social media networks will be a losing battle. Focus on your kid.

    By: Jenée Desmond-Harris
    Posted: Aug. 27 2014 3:03 AM

    Dear Race Manners:

    Saw your response to racist comments posted online, but what about this?

    I’m trying my best not to be petty here, while I’m aware this is going to sound petty no matter how I put it. I believe my friends’ and family’s internalized racism and colorism is affecting their responses to photos of my child.

    Here are the facts. My little girl: two black parents. My sisters’ children: multiracial (one sister’s kids are black and white, and the others have black, Caribbean and Indian heritage). On Instagram and Facebook, they are constantly being told their babies are “beautiful,” “gorgeous,” “stunning,” “unbelievably attractive” and “should be a model,” while my daughter does not receive the same level of praise. It’s a clear pattern—even my husband recognized it when I pointed it out to him.

    In our new online world of “likes,” it seems that brown-skinned—aka “regular black”—little girls must have long, elaborately styled hair or be dressed to the nines in the highest adult fashion (totally inappropriate, in my old-school opinion) if people are to get excited about them.

    I’m well-read on colorism and anti-black bias, and it hurts to see this pattern re-created among my loved ones. Would it be wise or helpful to broach the subject in a status and use it to raise awareness among my family and followers? I’d like to educate people. I’m thinking of a simple statement, not calling out or tagging any one person. —Anonymous

    • Definitely not petty. I was the light skin, long hair and European feature girl. I was disliked because of it. The darker girls in the neighborhood were always threatening me. I was also the lightest one in my family. I prayed to have buck teeth or blemishes anything to be less attractive. I sat close up to the TV so I would need glasses. I was pro black growing up. My high school girlfriend we became friends when she came in the girls bathroom and I was smoking a joint. She said it smelled good and I offered her some. We became friends. I was from NY raised around the black panthers, nation of Islam and the 5 percenters. My girlfriend told me I was her first light skin friend. She said she didn’t like light skin girls before she met me. I was so militant she started calling me her blackest friend. That stigma of being judge by my looks gave me poor self esteem growing up. I use to stay in the sun trying to get dark. Today I have lupus and the sun is poison. So no it’s not petty. Your daughter deserves the same praise as the other little girls. Teach her to love herself and that the only validation she needs is herself. Let her know those who shun her are the ignorant ones.

  15. rikyrah says:

    Income Inequality Costs The Middle Class $18,000 A Year

    by Bryce Covert Posted on August 27, 2014 at 11:08 am

    The growth of income inequality between 1979 and 2007 has reduced middle-class incomes by $17,890 a year, or about 23 percent, according to a new paper from the Economic Policy Institute (EPI). “In other words, if inequality had not risen between 1979 and 2007, middle-class incomes would have been nearly $18,000 higher in 2007,” author Elise Gould writes.

  16. rikyrah says:

    GO ZIZI!!



    Dianne Feinstein! Go Fight In Iraq Yourself!!!!
    By zizi2

    I, and many Americans, have had it up to our eyeballs with greedy Military Industrial Complex shills like Dianne Feinstein!!

    What the hell is wrong with these MIC stooges, regardless of party affiliation? And Dianne Feinstein’s incessant disrespect towards the leader of her own party and President of this country is all the more unforgivable! Did she stop to look in the mirror to examine that her own shortsighted votes in Congress metastasized the deep canker tearing the Middle East apart? Or worse that her greedy actions to shovel taxpayer $$$ to defense contractors like her husband have nasty consequences?

  17. rikyrah says:

    I always say…FOLLOW THE MONEY


    Bishop Trotter to back Oberweis for U.S. Senate

    Sun, 08/31/2014 – 7:34am

    Natasha Korecki

    Bishop Larry Trotter, the senior pastor of the Sweet Holy Spirit
    Church of Chicago, will announce today he is backing Republican state
    Sen. Jim Oberweis for U.S. Senate, in a switch from this past support
    for longtime incumbent U.S. Sen. Dick Durbin, D-Ill.

    Trotter is the leader of the 8,000-member church, often a stop for political stumping in Chicago’s African American community.

    Trotter said he’s switching support from Durbin to Oberweis after
    seeing a continued lack of economic development in African American
    communities, as well as a lack of a south suburban Trauma Unit.

    “Jim shares my vision for a Trauma Unit for Southern Cook County as
    well as meaningful economic development,” Trotter said in a statement.

    Trotter joins pastor Corey Brooks in endorsing Oberweis.

  18. rikyrah says:

    It will be not as easy to get this young man into the Prison Industrial Complex.


    The Daily Affirmation That An Uncle Taught His Nephew Will Fill Your Heart With Pride

    “Who are we?” “Kings and queens!” posted on Aug. 4, 2014, at 2:08 p.m.

    A video that Angus Givens made is getting tons of shares online, hailed as an example of how young kids need to be raised. First, there’s about 30 seconds of flexing and muscle talk.

  19. Ametia says:

    Keeping Their Voters Stupid Keeps Republicans Elected
    By: Rmuse
    Saturday, August, 30th, 2014, 10:08 am


    It is beyond refute that if the citizens of this country were informed and educated, Republicans would be hard-pressed to get elected as dog-catchers, much less legislators. The assault on public education goes beyond Republican-controlled states as evidenced by congressional Republicans regularly cutting education funding. They, Republicans, know that if the public were educated, they could not demean science as the work of the devil, or claim contraception is abortion, or push the Christian bible as true science. There is a reason so many morons in the conservative movement are certain that god created America, wrote the Constitution, established America’s borders, and installed Christianity as the state religion, and it is simply due to their inability to pick up a history book or the founding document to check Republican claims for veracity.


  20. rikyrah says:

    ” The Organized theft of Young Black Wealth” – what the NCAA presently is doing, from a reporter from The Nation.

  21. rikyrah says:

    Saturday, Aug 30, 2014 08:45 AM CST
    Don’t do it, Hillary! Joining forces with neocons could doom Democrats
    Clinton’s Iraq vote kept her from the presidency in 2008. Staying hawkish could harm the party for decades. Ask LBJ
    Paul Rosenberg

    Has Hillary Clinton forgotten why she’s not president? In light of her headline-making Atlantic interview with Jeffrey Goldberg, in which she seemingly echoed the neocons’ “who lost Syria/who lost Iraq” line, it would seem that she has. There are numerous folks around to remind her how foolish such saber-rattling is in terms of foreign policy effectiveness, but given how smart Clinton is, she has to already know this herself — as the Atlantic’s own James Fallows noted in a typically savvy and well-crafted piece just a few days later:

    Of course everyone including Clinton “knows” that you should only do something when it’s smart and not when it’s stupid. In her books and speeches, she is most impressive when showing commanding knowledge of the complexities and contradictions of negotiating with the Russians and Chinese, and why you can’t just “be tough” in dealings with them….

    But in this interview — assuming it’s not “out of context” — she is often making the broad, lazy “do something” points and avoiding the harder ones. She appears to disdain the president for exactly the kind of slogan — “don’t do stupid shit” — that her husband would have been proud of for its apparent simplicity but potential breadth and depth. (Remember “It’s the economy, stupid”?)

    But the problem isn’t just that Clinton was acting deliberately stupid in foreign policy terms, for whatever reason. She was also acting deeply foolish in terms of domestic politics as well. Even if she can’t actually lose the Democratic nomination this time, such belligerent hawkishness could utterly wreck the Democratic Party, just as Lyndon Johnson wrecked it with his pursuit of the Vietnam War.

    • Liza says:

      HIllary’s Iraq vote is not the only reason why she did not win the presidency in 2008, but her vote to invade Iraq in 2003 really was stupid and definitely had a backlash. Hillary lost the Democratic nomination in 2008 because Barack Obama was a better candidate and had a far superior campaign, let’s be clear.

      • Ametia says:

        Tell it, Liza. And Hillary is going right back to some of the same 2008 FAILED tactics, one of them being ignoring the strategy of COALITION -BUILDING.

        In fact, she’s doing her best to dismantle it to prove she can win without it. Ask Mitt Romney how that worked for him, Hillary.

        If this women dore run for POTUS in 2016, she will NEVER win without the OBAMA COALITION.

        In th end, it comes down to Hillary still believing she is ENTITLED to sit in the Oval Office leather you know, simply BECAUSE…

      • Liza says:

        The nicest thing I can say about some of these folks – McCain, Romney, and Hillary (if she runs) – is that being in your mid to late 60’s is just too damn old. They have lived for decades in their overprivileged bubbles and they haven’t got a clue how this country is changing or how the world is changing. They live in the 20th century and they always will.

      • Ametia says:

        LOL Not only is it nice Liza, Ii’s TRUTH.

  22. rikyrah says:

    Sunday, Aug 31, 2014 06:00 AM CST
    The 1 percent’s long con: Jim Cramer, the Tea Party’s roots, and Wall Street’s demented, decades-long scheme
    Wall Street has the most to lose from real democracy. Which is why they posture as rebels and not The Man
    Thomas Frank

    Happy Labor Day. A few years ago, Eric Cantor used this holiday as one more occasion to celebrate business owners. To a lot of people, that sounded crazy. But in truth, it came straight out of the bull market ideology of the 1990s, a time when the nation came to believe that trading stocks was something that people in small towns did better than slicksters in New York, and when Wired magazine declared, in one of its many frenzied manifestoes, that “The rich, the former leisure class, are becoming the new overworked” and that “those who used to be considered the working class are becoming the new leisure class.” We were living in a “New Economy,” Americans said back then, and the most fundamental novelty of the age was an idea: that markets were the truest expression of the will of the people. Of course the Beardstown Ladies were better at investing than the Wall Street pros; they were closer to the humble populist essence of markets. Of course the Millionaire Next Door was an average Joe who never showed off; that’s the kind of person on whom markets smile. And of course bosses were the new labor movement, leading us in the march toward a luminous economic democracy. Ugh. I got so sick of the stuff that I wrote a whole book on it: “One Market Under God,” which was published by Doubleday just as the whole thing came to a crashing end. Here is an excerpt.


    Whatever mysterious forces were propelling the market in that witheringly hot summer of 1999, the crafters of its public facade seemed to agree that what was really happening was the arrival, at long last, of economic democracy. While the world of finance had once been a stronghold of WASP privilege, an engine of elite enrichment, journalist and PR-man alike agreed that it had been transformed utterly, been opened to all. This bull market was the götterdammerung of the ruling class, the final victory of the common people over their former overlords. Sometimes this “democratization” was spoken of as a sort of social uprising, a final victory of the common people over the snobbish, old-guard culture of Wall Street. Sometimes it was said to be the market itself that had worked these great changes, that had humiliated the suits, that handed out whole islands to mechanics, that had permitted little old ladies to cavort with kings. And sometimes “democratization” was described as a demographic phenomenon, a reflection of the large percentage of the nation’s population that was now entrusting their savings to the market.

    However they framed the idea, Wall Street had good reason to understand public participation as a form of democracy. As the symbol and the actual center of American capitalism, the financial industry has both the most to lose from a resurgence of anti-business sentiment and the most to gain from the ideological victory of market populism. For a hundred years the financial industry had been the chief villain in the imagination of populist reformers of all kinds; for sixty years now banks, brokers, and exchanges have labored at least partially under the regulations those earlier populists proposed. And Wall Street has never forgotten the melodrama of crash, arrogance, and New Deal anger that gave birth to those regulations. To this day Wall Street leaders see the possibility of a revived New Deal spirit around every corner; they fight not merely to keep the interfering liberals out of power, but to keep order in their own house, to ensure that the public relations cataclysm of 1929-32 is never repeated. This is why so much of the bull market culture of the Nineties reads like a long gloss on the experience of the 1930s, like a running battle with the memory of the Depression.

    Take the stagnant-to-declining real wages of American workers, for example. A central principle of “New Economy” thought is that growth and productivity gains have been severed from wage increases and handed over instead to top management and shareholders. Since the redistributionist policies of “big government” are now as impermissible as union organizing, stocks of necessity have become the sole legitimate avenue for the redistribution of wealth. In other eras such an arrangement would have seemed an obvious earmark of a badly malfunctioning economic system, a system designed to funnel everything into the pockets of the already wealthy, since that’s who owns most of the stock. After all, workers can hardly be expected to buy shares if they can’t afford them.

    But toss the idea of an ongoing financial “democratization” into the mix, and presto: Now the lopsided transformation of productivity gains into shareholder value is an earmark of fairness—because those shareholders are us! Sure, workers here and there are going down, but others, through the miracle of stocks, are on their way up. Furthermore, ownership of stock among workers themselves, an ideologue might assert, more than made up for the decade’s stagnant wages. What capital took away with one hand, it was reasoned, it gave back with the other—and with interest.

    This idea of stock prices compensating for lost or stagnant wages had long been a favorite ideological hobbyhorse of the corporate right, implying as it did that wealth was created not on the factory floor but on Wall Street and that workers only shared in it by the grace of their options-granting CEO. What was different in the 1990s was that, as the Nasdaq proceeded from triumph to triumph, economists and politicians of both parties came around to this curious notion, imagining that we had somehow wandered into a sort of free-market magic kingdom, where the ever-ascending Dow could be relied upon to solve just about any social problem. Now we could have it all: We could slash away at the welfare state, hobble the unions, downsize the workforce, and send the factories overseas—and no one got hurt!

    Naturally the idea was first rolled out for public viewing in the aftermath of a serious public relations crisis for Wall Street. One fine day in January, 1996, AT&T announced it was cutting 40,000 white-collar jobs from its workforce; in response Wall Street turned cartwheels of joy, sending the company’s price north and personally enriching the company’s CEO by some $5 million. The connection of the two events was impossible to overlook, as was its meaning: What’s bad for workers is good for Wall Street. Within days the company was up to its neck in Old Economy-style vituperation from press and politicians alike. Then a golden voice rang through the din, promoting a simple and “purely capitalist” solution to “this heartless cycle”: “Let Them Eat Stocks,” proclaimed one James Cramer from the cover of The New Republic. “Just give the laid-off employees stock options,” advised Cramer, a hedge fund manager by trade who in his spare time dispensed investment advice on TV and in magazines, and “let them participate in the stock appreciation that their firings caused.” There was, of course, no question as to whether AT&T was in the right in what it had done: “the need to be competitive” justified all. It’s just that such brusque doings opened the door to cranks and naysayers who could potentially make things hot for Wall Street. Buttressing his argument with some neat numbers proving that, given enough options, the downsized could soon be—yes—millionaires, Cramer foresaw huge benefits to all in the form of bitterness abatement and government intervention avoidance. He also noted that no company then offered such a “stock option severance plan.” But the principle was the thing, and in principle one could not hold the stock market responsible; in principle the interests of all parties concerned could be fairly met without recourse to such market-hostile tools as government or unions.

  23. Ametia says:

    Good Morning, Everyone! :-)

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