Capitalist Trick 67: Voter Fraud Exists

Voter fraud doesn’t exist. It’s a myth. Yet, capitalists, via their conservative henchmen have created the impression that it’s real and it needs to be dealt with regardless of the cost in terms of dollars and the disenfranchisement of millions of voters across the country.

Justin Levitt, of Loyola Law School, researched reported instances of voter fraud. “Usually,” Levitt told the Washington Post, “only a tiny portion of the claimed illegality is substantiated — and most of the remainder is either nothing more than speculation or has been conclusively debunked.”

But that hasn’t stopped Republicans from passing voter ID laws and other measures to restrict access to the ballot box. And the facts haven’t done anything to convince Americans that it’s not a problem. A majority of voters support voter ID, because of compelling and glib arguments from folks like Rick Perry.

A federally indicted on corruption charges presidential candidate, Perry said that he had to show an ID to fly on an airplane, so why not to vote?

The difference is that flying on an airplane isn’t a constitutionally protected action, yet voting is. Perry’s argument is laughable in that it demonstrates his utter ignorance about the topic he’s talking about, not surprising. What is surprising is that a majority of Americans agree with him and as a result hundreds of thousands of voters are being disenfranchised under the ruse of a voter fraud epidemic.

And guess what, most of those voters are Democrats.

So why is this a capitalist’s trick and not a Republican trick? Because the Republican party is just the political wing of the capitalist movement. Republicans pass laws in favor of capitalists. The conservative movement convinces Americans that what those Republicans are doing is really for their benefit, not that of the capitalists. It’s a multi-pronged attack to make sure the wealth of the nation keeps flowing up to them and Americans don’t figure out that they’re getting played for chumps.

Capitalist Trick 14: Slash Their Own Taxes by More than 50 Percent

Capitalists hate two things: paying workers a living wage and paying taxes.

In response that hatred of taxes, the conservative movement has helped capitalists enjoy a top tax rate that is more than 50 percent lower than it was in 1950.

In 1950, the top tax rate was 91 percent. Now it’s 39.6 percent. Yes, the other tax brackets were lowered as well, but no one group benefited nearly as much as the wealthiest among us. A total 51.4 percent points was wiped off that top tax bracket. That’s a lot of money not going to education, roads, bridges, rail, scientific research and taking care of those who can’t care for themselves.

I wonder why income inequality is at an all-time high. Hmmm, I wonder why.

Federal Income Tax Brackets Adjusted for Inflation 1950

Federal Income Tax Brackets Adjusted for Inflation 1950

2013 Federal Income Tax Brackets

2013 Federal Income Tax Brackets

Capitalist Trick 23: Convince Workers Unions Suck

At some point in my lifetime, and I was born in 1972, capitalists pulled off an amazing feat. They convinced working class people to no longer bargain collectively for wages and benefits.

That victory alone could account for much of the flat or declining wages and benefits over the last 30 years.

Federal Income Tax Rates 1950

Federal Income Tax Rates 1950

Let’s rewind back to post-war America. In the 1950s, union membership was strong, income taxes on the wealthy were high, and the nation was prosperous. I realize that not everyone shared in the prosperity of that time, particularly those folks living under the oppression of Jim Crow.

As an aside, and also a major factor in income inequality, are tax rates. In 1950, if you made more than $200,000 a year, you paid taxes on income over that amount at 91 percent. Adjusted for inflation that would apply to someone making more than $1.9 million a year in income today. But now that top income tax rate caps out at 39.6 percent. Top earners have seen their taxes cut by more than 50 percent. And I’m not even going to get into the tax rate on capital gains, it’s a joke.

But back to organized labor. The conservative movement back in the early 1980s decided to wage a war on labor. While the capitalists hate paying taxes, they hate paying workers even more. So while jokers like Grover Norquist waged war on taxes, the conservative movement, socially was able to convince Americans that they’re better off negotiating their salary on their own. It worked. Union membership is at an all-time low, and wages and benefits for working class people have either remained flat or declined, while billionaires are doing very, very well.

Think about the economic engine of America. For the sake of argument, let’s say that our market on any given year generates $16 trillion. Put aside all of the complexities of the economy for a moment and let’s boil it down to the basics. There are two players: capitalists and workers. If the capitalists get 30 percent of the pie, workers get 70 percent. If workers get 70 percent of the pie, capitalists get 30 percent. The capitalists know that the if they can suppress wages, it’s takes a slice of the pie away from workers and puts into the hands of the capitalists. The best way to keep wages low is to force workers to fight individually for salary increases and better benefits.

I’ve had well over 30 jobs in my life, many of them included some sort of benefits package, but did I ever get to be involved in that benefits selection process? No. My employer told me that these are the benefits, I could either take the job or not, but there would not now, or ever, be an opportunity to negotiate a better package.

The same goes for salary. Most employer’s try to mandate raises. They’ll tell you that every year you get a raise and it’s probably going to be 3 or 4 percent – barely beating inflation. If you try to negotiate a higher salary based on the current economic environment and your skill set, you might get a raise, but they will fight you tooth and nail. That fight, that’s what employers are banking most people won’t want to start, and most don’t. That’s why they wanted to get rid of unions, because without a union, most workers just take what their employer gives them and that’s the end of it. If you don’t like it, tough, go find another job.

I’ve fought for raises and quit when I lost. I’ve never really ever gotten what I wanted for a salary. And the fight for money, inevitably leads to stress at work between you and your boss. It’s so much better, if workers are represented by a union who can negotiate on their behalf. Unions are not perfect, but they are better at extracting wealth from capitalists than workers are on their own. That’s why capitalists hate unions and workers should, but for some voodoo by the right, they don’t.

In 1950, approximately 32 percent of the workforce was in a union. Now it’s just above 12 percent. The war against labor is over. Who do you think won?

Federal Income Nominal Tax Rates
Federal Income Inflation Adjusted Tax Rates

Biker Gang, Not Thugs, Shoot up a Restaunt – 9 Dead

In America, if you’re black and you protest police brutality, the media calls you a thug. If you’re white and you shoot-up a restaurant, leaving nine people dead, you’re a member of a biker gang – not a thug.

In Texas today, a biker gang, or two biker gangs, got into a fight at a restaurant that ended up in a shootout killing nine people. But the media is happily referring to these murderers as members of a biker gang, not thugs. But a couple of weeks ago in Baltimore, black folks got riled up protesting decades of police brutality and burn down a couple buildings, and they’re “thugs.”

I don’t know what’s worse overt or latent racism. At least overt racism you can confront it head-on, but this latent racism that oozes from our society is insidious. If anything “political correctness” has made it even worse.

And something tells me Fox News isn’t going to dig into the biker gang world to expose the brutality and criminality that permeates that world. If they talk about it at all, it will be as a straight news story, no need to add commentary to this – that’s white people.

David Wildstein Guilty Plea Documentation

New Jersey Gov. Chris Christie’s buddy David Wildstein entered a guilty plea today regarding his involvement in the George Washington Bridge conspiracy.

Wildstein has been working with law enforcement to get to the truth behind the curious lane closures that happened in September 2013. Wildstein said that Christie’s Deputy Chief of Staff Bridget Kelly and the governor’s go-to-guy at the Port Authority Bill Baroni were co-conspirators.

But the real bombshell from today’s press conference by Wildstein’s attorney came when he said that Christie knew about the lane closures while they were happening and that Wildstein has proof to back up that claim.

Federal prosecutors have announced 9 federal charges against Kelly and Baroni today.

David Wildstein plea deal documentation.

Pay attention to section “E,” which states that the Port Authority received more than $10,000 in federal funding. That, I think, is important because that makes this a federal case with federal charges.

If what Wildstein said is true, Baroni lied in his testimony to the state legislature when he said that the lane closures were part of a traffic study.

Marco Rubio is Running

The pack of GOP candidates running for the nomination now includes Sen. Marco Rubio (R-Fla.).

Rubio is seen, for some reason, like a serious presidential candidate. That’s apparently because he won what was really a pretty easy Senate race in 2010. Rubio ran a very anti-Obama campaign, and that was the sort of thing that worked for the GOP in 2010. So the fact that he won that race said more about the mood of the Republican party that particular year than it does about Rubio as a politician.

From my perspective, Rubio is a back-bencher at best. He’s flubbed every major speech he has ever delivered. Remember the water bottle schtick he did during his state of the union rebuttal? I’ve never seen him look like anything other than the dufus that he is.

But to the modern GOP, Rubio, like Rand Paul and Chris Christie, is considered a rising star. Twenty years ago, guys like Rubio would be sitting in the back of the room taking notes and hoping that in 10 or 12 years they might get a shot at some leadership responsibilities. Not now, the GOP’s bench is so thin these guys are prime-time politicians.

My theory is that Rubio knows that his chances of winning reelection to his Senate seat are some where around 50 percent. So why not take a shot at the White House. Maybe he’s gets a vice presidential nod like Sarah Palin and can milk that out for millions of dollars in book deals and speaking engagements.

Running for office as a GOP candidate is a big business and these guys know it. I doubt Rubio really thinks he could become the president, it’s ridiculous. Yet the media treats his announcement as if it matters that he’s running.

And She’s Off

Former first lady, senator and secretary of state Hillary Clinton announced today that she is running become the next president of the United States of America.

If you thought Republican’s Obama derangement syndrome was too much, multiply that insanity by 100 when directed at Hillary Clinton.

Let’s hope more Democrats step into the fray.

Screen shot 2015-04-12 at 3.19.56 PM

April 11 News Roundup: Cuba, Iran, Santorum and Christie

It’s Saturday, so nothing too exciting going on.

Republican senators continue to push for legislation to throw a wrench in one of President Obama’s signature diplomatic efforts – stopping Iran from making a nuclear weapon. Republicans have been sticking amendments on Republican Sen. Bob Corker’s bill in a attempt to make it tougher on Iran, and would likely, if enacted, scuttle the deal altogether. Democrats have been pushing amendments to do the opposite. Aside from the prospect of a Rand Paul presidency, there’s nothing more frightening than watching the Republicans in Congress wade into international nuclear non-proliferation discussions. Nothing good can come from it. And if a deal is not reached, Iran will have a bomb in a couple of years.

In other international news, President Obama met with Cuban President Raul Castro in Panama today. It’s been more than 50 years since these two nations have sat down and talked about how to work with one another. I haven’t checked, but it’s safe to assume the conservative heads are exploding as a result. Conservatives do not like giving up their cold war battles, even if they are no longer relevant, if they ever were to begin.

Rick Santorum is ramping up for another presidential run. In Iowa yesterday he outlined his campaign slogan – “God Hates Fags.” The hateful little twit championed his efforts to criminalize, what he sees as homosexual sex acts. How many married and straight couples engage in sodomy every day? So add one more shitheel to the list of potential GOP primary contenders who will never be president.

Also in 2016 presidential news, apparently New Jersey Gov. Chris Christie is plotting another campaign strategy in his sort-of-a-run for the presidency. I’m not sure if CNN should be calling this a comeback. In order to come back, one needed to have been there before. Christie has never announced that he intends to run for president in 2016. One can assume that he wants to, but calling Christie’s latest “moves” a comeback gives the New Jersey Republican far too much gravitas. What’s actually happening is that next week Christie is supposedly going to begin a “Tell it like it is” tour of New Hampshire. That sounds like Christie traveling around telling people shut up and calling folks idiots. In other words, that’s Christie testing the water once again to see if he even has a shot at becoming the next president, which he doesn’t. It’s certainly not a comeback. My early prediction is that in 2 years Christie is indicted on corruption charges and looking at an 18-month prison sentence.

Technology Shines Light on Police Brutality

Police officers have been murdering citizens in perpetuity. What’s new is that now we know about it because of technology.

Today in South Carolina, Police Officer Michael Thomas Slager has been charged with murder. It wasn’t clear at first whether the officer would be charged for the death of Walter Scott. On Saturday, Slager pulled Scott over while driving in North Charleston. Something happened during the confrontation and Scott took off running. Slager fired a volley of bullets into Scott’s back and Scott died.

Then a horrific video surfaced showing the murder and Slager was charged. There is no doubt that had this crime not be caught on video, Slager would likely not be charged with a crime. Now Slager, 33, faces a death sentence or life in prison.

Technology is pulling back the curtain on government brutality of its citizens, particularly those of color. That has been the story for centuries. Those who don’t want progress, conservatives, have always been against technology because they know what they do can’t survive the light of day. Once the People see that the police, like the military, are a cudgel conservatives use to crush people who challenge them or don’t fit into their plan.

It’s not as-if this is some nefarious plot being perpetrated by a few people, this is systemic racism and brutality that is a by-product of capitalism, greed and the quest for power. Conservatives want police officers like Slager out there brutalizing brown people. It’s a way to ensure that those people stay where they are, poor, working for low wages or dead.

(H/T) Washington Post

Vox Misses the Point of the Indiana Religious “Freedom” Law

I like Vox, but this story about a law professor’s opinion of Indiana’s so-called Religious Freedom Restoration Act only goes to show the professor’s lack of political acumen.

The gist of the story is that University of Virginia Law Professor Douglas Laycock thinks everyone’s got the Indiana law all wrong. It’s really all about protecting minority religious groups who are oppressed by the majority. It’s a good thing.

Even if some folks would seek to use these sorts of laws to justify discrimination, Laycock said that will usually fail. And he said that even though the Indiana law goes further than other similar laws in other states, and federally, by expanding the religious protection to businesses, that’s not a big deal either.

Laycock said that sure with businesses that are run by a single family, they might make a claim to a right to discriminate, but not a large corporation. Hobby Lobby, a company whose annual sales are more than $3 billion a year, won a case at the Supreme Court that allowed them to discriminate against women by denying them access to contraception. The company argued that it violated its religious rights to offer health insurance to its employees that covers contraception. How again did we end up with a system in which employers get to choose employee health insurance coverage?

Laycock said that Hobby Lobby won that case because the company is a “closely held” family company, with more than 500 stores across the country and thousands of employees. Laycock’s argument is that this sort of discrimination is and will be rare.

“As soon as you take in outside shareholders, that becomes untenable as a practical matter,” Laycock said. “They don’t want to sacrifice profit for your religious concerns. There are very few corporate claims and it’s not likely, to the extent there are any, that they’re going to win many. Hobby Lobby is a very special context. It is closely held by one family.”

Of course every argument that Laycock is making is shockingly ignorant, because he’s missing the larger point of these sorts of laws, but regarding his blind faith in the power of shareholders, allow me …

Most businesses are not large corporations with shareholders. The butcher, the baker, the candlestick maker are more often than not, family owned businesses. It is certainly not beyond the realm of possibility that these closely held family business would seek a religious exemption under this law for the purpose of discrimination. Now it’s very true that this business owner might fail in court, but it is these laws that provide aid and comfort to the bigot.

And that right there is the only reason these laws exist. Republicans like Indiana Governor Mike Pence, I doubt he personally even cares about gay marriage. Maybe he does, but what I do know for a fact is that Pence likes getting elected.

The only way to do that is to lie. If Republicans told voters about the issues that the party really cares about, they’d never break 20 percent in any election in any district.

No the GOP can’t tell voters that if they get their votes they’ll cut taxes on the rich, deregulate industries, leaving huge budget deficits, dirty drinking water and smoke smuggered skies.

To win elections, Republican politicians have to talk about social issues. They’re going to end abortion. They’re going to prevent gay people from getting married. They’re going to pass laws to protect your perceived right to discriminate against gay people, or whoever you don’t like.

There’s no other way to get people to vote against their own economic self-interest, you have to lie to them.

And the lie is the tall tale that these sort of “religious freedom” laws will allow businesses to discriminate. The message Gov. Pence is sending bigoted Indiana citizens and business owners is that if you want to discriminate against gays, he’s got their back.

But the reality, as Laycock accurately tells Vox is that the ability of a person, or a business, to seek a religious exemption to discriminate using these sorts of laws is extremely limited. Most cases, but not all, do side against the bigot.

Pence doesn’t care though. When this law proves to be ineffective at protecting bigotry, Pence can just blame activist judges for trampling the rights of god-fearing Christians who just got to hate.

So don’t be fooled, like Mr. Laycock is, regarding the point of these laws, which is to get Republicans elected by creating a culture of divisiveness, fear and hate. While Pence’s supporters are angrily moaning about how the fags are ruining everything, Pence and his Republican party comrades are doing everything they can to shift wealth in Indiana up to the rich.