Wednesday, September 28, 2011

Class War? part 2--Some Recent Press Clips

Class War part 2--Press clips

Forgive me for painting all corporate media as only corporate propagandists--MSNBC apparently sometimes produces news that contradicts that sentiment, at least in the first two clips that follow. It seems to be exceptional in that regard, even though their advertising supports the original point. The following clips are perhaps even more germane, RE "Class War," than two recent shows at Democracy Now! on the same subject.

Michael Moore with Lawrence O'Donnell on MSNBC

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Dylan Ratigan With Author Ron Suskind: "Tim Geithner Ran The White House, Stopped Attorney General Eric Holder From Prosecuting Wall Street"

Who's the White House boss?

Start watching at the 2-minute mark.  This is the most important Ratigan clip since his on-air meltdown.  You will hear that Geithner and Summers defied orders from Obama and took over White House policy, instructing Attorney General Eric Holder to back off Wall Street criminal prosecutions.

▪ "Geithner developed a system to keep the existing Wall Street structure in place with no prosecutions, and billions in additional bailouts."

You got that?  That's called an Executive Gag Order - Mr. President. . . .

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A Good Fight

Robert Reich

So the really big fight — perhaps the defining battle of 2012 — won’t be over Medicare. It won’t even be over Obama’s jobs program.

It will be over whether the rich should pay more taxes.

The President has vowed to veto any plan to tame the debt that doesn’t increase taxes on the rich. The Republicans have vowed to oppose any tax increases on the rich.

It’s a good fight to have.

. . . .

Trickle-down economics has been a cruel joke.

On the other hand — given projected budget deficits — if the rich don’t pay their fair share, the rest of us will have to bear more of a burden. And that burden inevitably will come in the form of either higher taxes or fewer public services.

If anyone’s declared class warfare it’s the people who inhabit the top rungs of big corporations and Wall Street (and who comprise a disproportionate number of America’s super rich). They’ve declared it on average workers.

The ratio of corporate profits to wages is higher than it’s been since before the Great Depression. And even as corporate salaries and perks keep rising, the median wage keeping dropping, and jobs continue to be shed.

You’ve got the chairman of Merck taking home $17.9 million last year. This year Merck announces plans to boot 13,000 workers. The CEO of Bank of America takes in $10 million, and the bank announces it’s firing 30,000 workers.

Maybe I’m old-fashioned, but the way I see it we’ve got a huge budget deficit and a giant jobs problem. And under these circumstances it seems to me people at the top who have never had it so good should sacrifice a bit more, so the rest of us don’t have to sacrifice quite as much.

According to the polls, most Americans agree.

Attica Is All of Us: Cornel West on 40th Anniversary of Attica Prison Rebellion
. . . .
Cornel West, professor of religion and African American studies at Princeton University and the author of numerous books on race.

AMY GOODMAN: We turn now to another 9/11 milestone. This week marks the 40th anniversary of the Attica rebellion. Forty years ago, September 9th, 1971, prisoners took over much of Attica prison in upstate New York to protest the prison conditions. Four days later, on the morning of September 13th, Governor Nelson Rockefeller ordered state troopers to storm the prison. Troopers shot indiscriminately over 2,000 rounds of ammunition. Thirty-nine men would die—prisoners and guards. After the shooting stopped, police beat and tortured scores more prisoners. Ninety of the surviving prisoners were seriously wounded but were initially denied medical care. After a quarter century of legal struggles, the state of New York would eventually award the surviving prisoners of Attica $12 million in damages. . . . .


. . . .

And we live now in revolutionary times, but the counterrevolution is winning. The counterrevolution is winning. The greedy oligarchs and plutocrats are winning. One out of four corporations don’t pay taxes, been gobbling up billions of dollars. And yet, not just 21 percent of our children living in poverty, of all colors, each one precious, 42 percent of America’s children live in poverty or near poverty. That is sick. It’s a moral obscenity. It’s a national disgrace. And yet, we have a political class, no matter what color they are, that won’t say a mumbling word about that poverty. Why? Because it sits outside of the give and fro between a right-wing, mean-spirited Republican Party, run by the oligarchs and the plutocrats, and a spineless Democratic Party, that’s got ties to the oligarchs and plutocrats, and the poor people get left out. They get invisible, disposable.

And yet, we see the same brothers in the 1950s and '60s who were coming out of socially neglected and economically abandoned spaces, called "the ghetto" by Donny Hathaway. By Donny Hathaway, when he said "ghetto," that wasn't demeaning. If you’re from the ghetto, the way he talked about it, you straightened your back up. You got your mind together. You had love in your heart for your brother and sister on the block. And it started on the chocolate side of town, but it spilled over to the vanilla side and the red side and the yellow side and the brown side, too. The unity that we had in Attica among the black and brown—and I saw some white brothers, too. Oh, yes. And that’s elementary. You’ve got to have the unity, but you’ve got to be honest about the powers that be dividing and conquering. And this revolutionary moment, where the counterrevolution is winning. Every time I look at Brother Dhoruba—Brother, I’ve been so inspired by you for 25 years, because you’ve been talking the same thing I’m talking about right now. Same language, here and Africa. We had a good time in Ghana together. Oh, yes, we did. But now it’s coming back. It’s coming back.

And the young people are hungry and thirsty, but the young people are thirsty for truth. Oh, yes. They’re hungry for truth. And the problem is that most of our leaders have either sold out, caved in, gave up. They don’t want to tell people the truth. They’re too concerned about their careers. They’re too concerned about success. They’re too concerned about just winning the next election for their status. In 1971, the Attica brothers told the truth. But they weren’t the only ones. You had a whole cacophony of voices telling the truth. But who wants to tell the truth? The condition of truth is to allow suffering to speak. If you don’t talk about poverty, you’re not telling the truth. If you’re not talking about working people being pushed against the wall, with corporate profits high, you’re not telling the truth. If you’re not talking about the criminal activity on Wall Street and not one person gone to jail yet, you’re not telling the truth. Don’t tell me about the crime on the block with brothers and sisters and Jamal and Latisha out taken to jail, and yet gangsters who are engaged in fraudulent activity, insider trading, market manipulation, walking around having tea at night. That’s what we need.

But the sad thing is—and I’m going to end on this—the sad thing is, the kind of courage that these brothers had in 1971 is in short supply. It’s in short supply. Because when you bring together the national security state and the military-industrial complex, when you bring together the prison-industrial complex and all the profits that flow from it, when you bring together the corporate media multiplex that don’t want to allow for serious dialogue—unless we got Sister Amy or Brother Tavis and some others—and then, when you bring together the Wall Street oligarchs and the corporate plutocrats, and they tell any person or any group, "If you speak the truth, we’ll shoot you down like a dog and dehumanize you the way we did to dehumanize the brothers in Attica," the only thing that will keep you going is you better have some love in your heart for the people. That’s the only thing that will keep you going, the only reason why the long-distance runner Dhoruba, the only reason why Baraka is a long-distance runner. I don’t care if you agree with them ideologically or not. It doesn’t make any difference. They got enough love for the people in their heart to still tell the truth about poverty, about suffering, about struggle, and be able to look—not just presidents, because by presidents you’re just talking about the placeholder of the oligarchs and the plutocrats—I don’t care what color they are—to tell that truth. And most people, they hold off on that. They say, "No, I got one life, one life. I saw what they did. I saw what they done."

We’re going to have a new wave. We’re going to have a new wave of truth telling. We’re going to have a new wave of witness bearing. And we’re going to teach the younger generation that these brothers didn’t struggle in vain, just like John Brown and Nat Turner and Marcus Garvey and Martin King and Myles Horton and the others didn’t. And we shall see what happens. We might get crushed, too. But you know what? Then you just go down swinging, like Ella Fitzgerald and Muhammad Ali.

AMY GOODMAN: That was Princeton University professor, Dr. Cornel West, speaking before close to 3,000 people, part of two panels at the Riverside Church in New York remembering Attica 40 years ago and talking about a blueprint for accountability today.

See Also: Smiley and West’s Poverty Tour

The Social Contract
By Paul Krugman

September 23, 2011 "NY Times" --This week President Obama said the obvious: that wealthy Americans, many of whom pay remarkably little in taxes, should bear part of the cost of reducing the long-run budget deficit. And Republicans like Representative Paul Ryan responded with shrieks of “class warfare.”
. . . .

Why conservatives hate Warren Buffett
Why conservatives hate Warren Buffett

By E.J. Dionne Jr., Published: September 28

Maybe only a really, really rich guy can credibly make the case for why the wealthy should be asked to pay more in taxes. You can’t accuse a big capitalist of “class warfare.” That’s why the right wing despises Warren Buffett and is trying so hard to shut him up.

Militant conservatives are effective because they are absolutely shameless. Many of the same people who think the rich should be free to spend unlimited sums influencing our politics without having to disclose anything are now asking Buffett to make his tax returns public. I guess if you’re indifferent to consistency, you have a lot of freedom of action.

Buffett has outraged conservatives by saying that he pays taxes at a lower rate than his secretary. He’s said this for years, but he’s a target now because President Obama is using his comment to make the case for higher taxes on millionaires.

. . . .
Buffett’s sin is that he spoke a truth that conservatives want to keep covered up: Taxing capital gains at 15 percent means that people who make their money from investments pay taxes at a much lower marginal rate than those who earn more than $34,500 a year from their labor. That’s when the income tax rate goes up to 25 percent. (For joint filers, the 25 percent rate kicks in at $69,000.) For singles, the 28 percent bracket starts at $83,600, the 33 percent bracket at $174,400.

So if an investor such as Buffett pockets, say, $100 million of his income in capital gains, he pays only a 15 percent tax on all that money. For everyday working people, the 15 percent rate applies only to earnings between $8,500 and $34,500. After that, they’re paying a higher marginal rate than the multimillionaire pays on gains from investments. Oh, yes, and before Obama temporarily cut it by two points, the payroll tax added another 6.2 percent to the burden on middle-class workers. That levy doesn’t apply to capital gains or to income above $106,800, so it hits low- and middle-income workers much harder than it does the wealthy.

No wonder partisans of low taxes on wealthy investors hate Warren Buffett. He has forced a national conversation on (1) the bias of the tax system against labor; (2) the fact that, in comparison with middle- or upper-middle-class people, the really wealthy pay a remarkably low percentage of their income in taxes; and (3) the deeply regressive nature of the payroll tax.
. . . .

Tracy Chapman - Talkin bout a revolution

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