We’re all familiar with the concept of the “low information voter” (a term that can be used interchangeably, and with wanton impunity, of course, with “Fox News viewer” and “your average Depends-wearing, scooter-riding old Tea party fart”). Without low information voters, the Republicans would have virtually no chance of winning elections. They rely on them as a stalwart voting bloc every time and they never disappoint.
Lately I’ve been wondering if there should be a brand new term coined to describe a voter with even lesser cognitive abilities?
Take this new advertisement for Joe “the Plumber” Wurzelbacher’s Congressional run in Ohio against popular Democrat Marcy Kaptur. There’s something that is so amazingly… what’s the word I’m looking for… REVEALING, yes, that’s it, revealing about the state of US politics in 2012 captured so perfectly in these succinct 50 seconds.
If this video was made by smart people, it would be brilliant, but since it’s so obviously the work of fucking dolts, it can only be seen and appreciated through that lens, probably. You’d want to believe that people dumb enough to be suckered in by “propaganda” this pitifully stupid wouldn’t even know how to register to vote or even how to acquire a driver’s license, but clearly a sizable amount of the American electorate IS THAT DUMB. So dumb, in fact, that Joe “the Plumber” Wurzelbacher is seen as a freakin’ credible GOP candidate for Congress… I mean… what?
There are so many ridiculous subtexts going on here that anyone with half a brain would just snicker a bit at the tools on their screen who thought this lameness counted as “satire.” BUT, to someone with LESS than half a brain, the obvious Fox News-watching target of this ad, this must be how they see the world around them.
First there is the portly, shiftless, white, middle-aged “hippie” Occupier (who confusingly looks exactly how I picture the average Fox News viewer to look, but never mind that or the even more curious Rod Blagojevich t-shirt he’s wearing!) who mooches off “the system” while biting the hand that writes those sweet, sweet government checks. This lazy leftie bum is juxtaposed against hardworking, conservative “Joe the Plumber,” a man who takes care of business, his family and who pays his taxes, fair and square (despite Wurzelbacher’s own tax troubles, but he’s obviously counting on no one remembering that).
Which one of them is supposed to be Justin Long and which one is John Hodgman???
And what kind of mongoloid would watch this and think “Hey, Joe the Plumber! That’s who I’ll vote for”???
Unsurprisingly, the dumbest man in the Congress, Colonel Allen West, has endorsed “Joe the Plumber.” (“We stupids gotta stick together” his endorsement communicates, doesn’t it?). It makes you wonder, at what point will the balance tip irrevocably in favor of the really stupid people in this country? When they made all of those cuts to education during the Reagan years, THIS is what the result was, ultimately, that clowns like these two can be considered credible candidates for the United States Congress. The idea that West, a man who makes Sarah Palin seem, well, not so bad, has been bandied about as a VP candidate this year is… well, par for the fucking course, isn’t it?
Devo were right! From George Washington to THIS GUY? Unless the educational system gets turned around quickly, America is fucking doomed.
[I’d like to take this opportunity to remind our readers from outside of the United States who feel all smug and superior to us that we’ve got the big guns. That is all.]
Mitt Romney isn’t the richest person to ever run for President – Ross Perot had him beat by a factor of ten. And if he’s elected, inflation adjustments might favor sprawling plantation owners like Washington and Jefferson, or Kennedy if family assets counted. But there’s no denying that in terms of total dollars a President Romney would be the wealthiest White House occupant ever, and would be even wealthier had he not set aside a trust, now worth $100 million, for his 5 boys. So just how rich is he?
Forbes spent the past month trying to answer that question definitively. The core basis for our valuation comes from Romney himself – specifically, the U.S. Office of Government Ethics disclosure forms, which he filed in August 2007 and August 2011, plus discussions with high-level Romney officials familiar with specific changes to his holdings since that last report. Of course, those disclosures, taken at face value, are about as concrete as a campaign promise, with vague asset ranges (“$1 million to $5 million”) and definitions.
Seeking to remove as much guesswork as possible, we assigned a value to every single asset Mitt and Ann Romney own – 184 in all across the couple’s two blind trusts, IRAs and outright holdings. Our core method: noting the shift in ranges between the 2007 filing, the 2011 filing and now (much of his wealth has been consistently held over the whole period). Comparing which assets changed brackets – or didn’t – with their underlying price fluctuation (or in some cases, a good comparable) over that period, we were able to get better estimates of where each fell in the range. Supplemented by a dozen interviews – from local real estate experts to private equity partners – we get a detailed look at the current state of Mitt’s money, pinpointing his net worth at $230 million, split between 9 different asset classes. Highlights include the sale of nearly all of his individual equities – he sold 71 stocks since his last disclosure – and a big move into cash. He now holds $16 million, up from $1 million in August.
I guess the loot in the off-shore bank accounts and in Switzerland can only be guessed at…
The amazing—even amusing—thing to me is that somewhere north of 40% of likely US voters think that putting a man in charge of the American economy who got obscenely—not to mention ludicrously—wealthy by being one of the most successful corporate raiders and job destroyers in recent memory, is a good idea!
Mitt Romney certainly created a lot of wealth, that’s for sure. FOR HIMSELF.
And $20 million for each of his kids! Think the richest man who would ever be the POTUS is going to advocate raising taxes on his own family’s fortune?
Not a fucking chance that option would be on the table, is there?
We DO live in Idiocracy. How else to parse the notion that 40% of the people who vote would pull the lever for Thurston fucking Howell the IVth???
I realize that it sounds perverse—not to mention terribly, terribly UN-patriotic—but there is a small part of me that hopes for a Romney and GOP victory this year.
Why? Because the man and his party would nail the coffin SHUT on capitalism, that’s why.
Given another four years, the Republicans WILL wreck the place, but good. Bush nearly accomplished it, Romney and crew—for it WILL BE former Bush administration members who would staff a Romney White House—would be sure to finish it off.
What would come next would be… interesting. Not necessary good, but interesting and perhaps necessary.
More details on Romney’s net worth and where he invests: What Mitt Romney Is Really Worth: An Exclusive Analysis Of His Latest Finances (Forbes)
She’s talking about Canada, but you can more or less just fill in the name of your country and the same eternal truths will apply… A must-see. Truly, a must-see.
A video of 12-year-old Victoria Grant giving a lecture at a recent Public Banking Institute conference has spread via the Internet. In it, Grant talks about the history of the Canadian banking system and the effects of ‘collusion’ between governments and financial institutions. Video courtesy of Public Banking Institute.
On a blog post that’s been shared tens of thousands of times in the past few days, Rachel Held Evans, author of A Year of Biblical Womanhood writes of how Christianist haters like Tony Perkins, Maggie Gallagher and Bryan Fischer are forcing younger Christians to chose between their gay friends and their religion.
When asked by The Barna Group what words or phrases best describe Christianity, the top response among Americans ages 16-29 was “antihomosexual.” For a staggering 91 percent of non-Christians, this was the first word that came to their mind when asked about the Christian faith. The same was true for 80 percent of young churchgoers. (The next most common negative images? : “judgmental,” “hypocritical,” and “too involved in politics.”)
In the book that documents these findings, titled unChristian, David Kinnaman writes: “The gay issue has become the ‘big one,’ the negative image most likely to be intertwined with Christianity’s reputation. It is also the dimensions that most clearly demonstrates the unchristian faith to young people today, surfacing in a spate of negative perceptions: judgmental, bigoted, sheltered, right-wingers, hypocritical, insincere, and uncaring. Outsiders say [Christian] hostility toward gays… has become virtually synonymous with the Christian faith.”
Later research, documented in Kinnaman’s You Lost Me, reveals that one of the top reasons 59 percent of young adults with a Christian background have left the church is because they perceive the church to be too exclusive, particularly regarding their LGBT friends. Eight million twenty-somethings have left the church, and this is one reason why.
Rachel Held Evans has closed comments on her essay, writing “I want to keep this a safe place for conversation.”
You won’t wonder why after you’ve read the responses from some of her supposedly Christian readers…
“Red diaper baby” Barack Hussein Obama II plots world domination.
I’ve already blogged here about the zany new Obama conspiracy theory documentary Dreams From My Real Father which puts forth the ludicrous “theory” that President Barack Obama’s father was not a Kenyan goat herder but rather a radical journalist nearly four decades older than his mother who was also an amateur pornographer…
Now the film is causing a rift in the wingnut ranks as “birther queen” dingbat Orly Taitz (and current GOP candidate for one the US Senate seats for California!) accuses WorldNet Daily and author Jerome Corsi (who himself has a lot—everything—riding on the “birther” fantasy) of “working for” someone else. But who?
TPM’s Michael Lester has made a “trash compactor” cut of the film’s kooky highlights (see below). It’s a doozy. Via TPM:
“Dreams From My Real Father,” a 97-minute film narrated by an Obama impersonator, weaves the narrative that Obama’s grandfather wasn’t a furniture salesman but an undercover CIA agent who convinced Barack Obama Sr. to marry his teenage daughter to hide the fact that she was impregnated by a 55-year-old communist named Frank Marshall Davis.
The fake Obama narrator sets up the tale as the “the story I would have told if I were being honest with you.” Built through archival black and white footage, the film’s disclaimer states that it includes “re-creations of probable events, using reasoned logic, speculation, and approximated conversations in an attempt to provide a cohesive understanding of Obama’s history.”
Using that disclaimer, the filmmakers assert that Obama had a nose job ahead of his 2004 run for Senate, that his mother posed for naked photos when she was five weeks pregnant with him and that Bill Ayers nurtured Obama’s career.
The film is produced by Highway 61 Entertainment, the same company behind “Farewell Israel,” “Atomic Jihad” and the mockumentaries “Elvis Found Alive” and “Paul McCartney Really Is Dead.” Director Joel Gilbert, who has spoken at the annual Conservative Political Action Conference (CPAC), writes columns for FamilySecurityMatters.org, a website run by Frank Gaffney’s Center for Security Policy.
The film has been favorably reviewed by WND’s Jerome R. Corsi, who wrote an entire book arguing that Obama’s birth certificate is a fake and that he was really born in Kenya and ineligible to be president of the United States.
But the suggestion that Obama really was born in Hawaii and that his father was an American citizen has some conspiracy theorists upset. Birther queen Orly Taitz is troubled by the film because it undermines the theory that Obama’s father had to be a U.S. citizen for him to be a “natural born citizen” (a qualification which would have eliminated several other presidents). WND and Corsi, wrote Taitz, are “trying to kill the case by making up an American citizen father for Obama.”
“Who are they working for? What incentive did they get to do so? Please, tell Corsi and Farah to stop this. Enough and enough,” she wrote.
The Gregory Brothers auto-tune Romney soundbites and the result is…well, another pretty amusing Gregory Brothers mash-up.
The video is only linkable via the NY Times right now. Looks like The Grey Lady is attempting to give herself a BuzzFeed dye job by jumping on the auto-tuning the news thing…too bad it’s two years too late. Still, it’s fun.
Nobel economist Michael Spence, working at the behest of the Council on Foreign Relations, has co-authored a startling new paper with NYU’s Sandile Hlatshwayo. The two did an enormous amount of number crunching and analyzing of how the US economy has been structured for the past 20 years, and in particular, they examined employment trends. It was not a pretty picture that emerged from all of those details.
Well, I guess that would all depend upon which side of the fork you’re on, wouldn’t it?
As the output and productivity of the American worker increased—a LOT, I should add—during the past two decades, jobs still continued to be outsourced to other countries with cheaper labor pools, and fewer opportunities for economic advancement presented themselves for many Americans. All the while, the $$$ for all of that increased productivity didn’t go to the worker bees themselves, it went to the top, to the capitalists and investors class. To parasites like Mitt Romney and his buddies at Bain Capital.
The CFR report’s conclusions are particularly grim for people who have found themselves slipping out of the middle class towards precarious lives and who feel hopeless to do anything about it, but it’s Marxism 101 for the economic literate.
Here’s how Mr. Spence and Ms. Hlatshwayo put it: “The most educated, who work in the highly compensated jobs of the tradeable and nontradeable sectors, have high and rising incomes and interesting and challenging employment opportunities, domestically and abroad. Many of the middle-income group, however, are seeing employment options narrow and incomes stagnate.”
Mr. Spence notes the benefit to consumers of globalization: “Many goods and services are less expensive than they would be if the economy were walled off from the global economy, and the benefits of lower prices are widespread.” He also points to the positive impact of globalization, particularly in China and India: “Poverty reduction has been tremendous, and more is yet to come.”
I’m sure Americans living in “right to work” states are just jumping for joy to be competing with wage-earners in China and India.
Free trade and the free flow of capital means lower prices for the consumer, true, but when someone in China or India is doing that very same computer programming job that used to be your job in the midwest—information workers will have the most precarious jobs of all moving forward—it’s not like you’ll be able to afford much more than rice and beans at the Wal-Mart anyway.
Yes, there’s a high cost to low price. The two are pretty well interconnected, as we’ve seen, but this is what the “free market” is supposed to do, silly. And don’t forget, it was Wal-Mart that put the local shops out of business to begin with.
Karl Marx predicted all of this. ALL of it.
He’s the most accurate prophet in history, with a record a helluva lot better than Nostradamus!
And to all of the naysayers who claim that a “command economy” doesn’t work, I present to you Wal-Mart itself, the most successful example of a command economy the world has ever seen!
Mr. Spence’s paper should be read alongside the work that David Autor, an economist at the Massachusetts Institute of Technology, has been doing on the impact of the technology revolution on U.S. jobs. Mr. Autor finds that technology has had a “polarizing” impact on the U.S. work force — it has made people at the top more productive and better paid and hasn’t had much effect on the “hands-on” jobs at the bottom. But opportunities and salaries in the middle have been hollowed out.
Taken together, here’s the big story Mr. Spence and Mr. Autor tell: Globalization and the technology revolution are increasing productivity and prosperity. But those rewards are unevenly shared — they are going to the people at the top in the United States, and enriching emerging economies over all. But the American middle class is losing out.
It may seem surprising that it takes a Nobel laureate and sheaves of economic data to reach this conclusion. But the analysis and its provenance matter, because this basic truth about how the world economy is working today is being ignored by most of the politicians in the United States and denied by many of its leading business people.
Here’s where it gets much grimmer, as the article’s author, Chrystia Freeland (who has been the Global Editor-at-Large of Reuters since 2010) tells of a recent breakfast at the CFR that she moderated. The speaker that morning was Randall Stephenson, chief executive of AT&T.
If this is the mindset of the leaders of corporate America today, we’re doomed:
One of the Council of Foreign Relations members in the audience was Farooq Kathwari, the chief executive of Ethan Allen, the furniture manufacturer and retailer. Mr. Kathwari is a storybook American entrepreneur. He arrived in New York from Kashmir with $37 in his pocket and got his start in the retail trade selling goods sent to him from home by his grandfather.
He asked Mr. Stephenson: “Over the last 10 years, with the help of technology and other things, we today are doing about the same business with 50 percent less people. We’re talking of jobs. I would just like to get your perspectives on this great technology. How is it going to overall affect the job markets in the next five years?”
Mr. Stephenson said not to worry. “While technology allows companies like yours to do more with less, I don’t think that necessarily means that there is less employment opportunities available. It’s just a redeployment of those employment opportunities. And those employees you have, my expectation was, with your productivity, their standard of living has actually gotten better.”
HUH? Redeployment of employment opportunities? What the fuck IS this guy talking about?
I recently heard a radio report that indicated that there is ONE factory employing around 15 people in Japan that’s responsible for nearly 80% of the world’s output of a certain sized HD screen. Consider how many people would have worked at a Magnavox television plant in the mid-fifties. Where were those employment opportunities ultimately “redeployed?”
With advanced automation, robotics and so forth, the American worker always was going to become obsolete in the long run, but the speed with which it is happening has gone from a trot to full gallop since the early 90s. Stephenson’s contention that standards of living have improved is ludicrous. Perhaps for him and for all the Cuban cigar-smoking fatcats at the country club in Westchester, but what about the rest of us?
Maybe the all-powerful, wise and benevolent free market will help us?!?!
(Sorry all of that cigar smoke is making me *cough*)
Mr. Spence’s work tells us that simply isn’t happening. “One possible response to these trends would be to assert that market outcomes, especially efficient ones, always make everyone better off in the long run,” he wrote. “That seems clearly incorrect and is supported by neither theory nor experience.”
Not to take anything away from Mr. Spence and Ms. Hlatshwayo, but there was this famous book written by a Mr. Marx and a Mr. Engels—two of the most dangerous minds in history—a hundred and fifty-some years ago that predicted all of this shit with amazing, laser-like accuracy.
Mr. Spence says that as he was doing his research, he was often asked what “market failure” was responsible for these outcomes: Where were the skewed incentives, flawed regulations or missing information that led to this poor result? That question, Mr. Spence says, misses the point. “Multinational companies,” he said, “are doing exactly what one would expect them to do. The resulting efficiency of the global system is high and rising. So there is no market failure.”
Okay, stop for a second. Read that last paragraph again, won’t you? Now read it a third time.
Mr. Spence is telling us that global capitalism is working, but that the American middle class is losing out anyway.
Yep, exactly like a certain Mr. Marx predicted would happen. What remains to be seen is how long it takes for the average American to wake up to what’s going on, when the elites are so hellbent on trying to keep them as confused as possible. Less sophisticated people can be forgiven for falling for conspiracy theories, when the REAL action is right out in the open: No one ever thinks to look there!
Mr. Spence admits he has no easy answers. American politicians are focused on a budget debate that is superficial, premature and ultimately about something pretty easy to figure out. Instead, we should all be working on the much bigger problem of how to make capitalism work for the American middle class.
Photo journalist Tim Hetherington was killed in 2011 while covering the battlegrounds of Libya. His photographs of American soldiers in Afghanistan, Libyan fighters, and the terrain of war, powerfully depict the human side of warfare, both tender and tragic. Within the devastation that modern-age conflict renders to the environment, Hetherington captures images that remind us that life goes on among the rubble.
There is an almost meditative stillness in Hetherington’s work - as if time for a moment stops and we can see the face of war as clearly as the noonday sun.
Yossi Milo Gallery in New York City is currently presenting an exhibition of Hetherington’s photographs and video work. The exhibit runs through May 19.
Here’ one of the videos that will be on exhibit at Yossi Milo Gallery: Hetherington’s video Diary: