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“Not All Have Pledged Undying Loyalty”: Sanders’ Celebrity Cohort Split Over “Bernie or Bust!”

After Hillary Clinton’s near-sweep of five states on Tuesday, the Bernie Sanders campaign is in dire straits. While Sanders is still fighting for the nomination, he now trails Clinton in the pledged delegate count by a convincing 327 votes. Still, even if the rest of the primary season goes according to plan for Clinton — as it most likely will — there’s no guarantee that Bernie’s impassioned fans will turn their support to the Democratic nominee.

Enter the “Bernie or Bust” movement, in which the most diehard Sanders fans have announced their intention to stay home on election day, or vote for someone else, rather than supporting Hillary Clinton. This crusade is picking up steam, especially among Sanders’ celebrity devotees.

Susan Sarandon was among the first of Sanders’ Hollywood spokespeople to push for this ultimatum. Back in March, she made headlines with a controversial MSNBC interview in which she hinted — though she disputed such accusations later — that Donald Trump might “bring the revolution” if Sanders failed to attain the nomination. Then, during an appearance last Wednesday on the Late Show with Stephen Colbert, she said “I’m more afraid of, actually, Hillary Clinton’s war record and her hawkishness than I am of building a wall.” Though she also added, “but that doesn’t mean I would vote for Trump.”

Actress Rosario Dawson has been one of Sander’s leading advocates throughout this cycle. While she hasn’t aligned herself with the #BernieOrBust hashtag movement on Twitter, many recent posts criticize Clinton’s political record while boldly reaffirming Sander’s slogan #NotMeUs. Should Dawson throw a vote Clinton’s way come November, expect it to be cast with far less social media fanfare than we’re used to seeing from her, or maybe just a frowning emoji.

Still, not all of Sanders’ famous friends have pledged their undying loyalty to him. Last week on Real Time with Bill Maher, the brazenly liberal host tore into Sanders supporters who claim they’d rather vote for Donald Trump than Hillary Clinton. After outlining key differences between a Trump and Clinton presidency, Maher proclaimed, “That’s your choice. Don’t be assholes about it.”

The original Star Trek’s George Takei, a self proclaimed “fan of Bernie Sanders” posted a video on Wednesday to promote a new slogan, #VoteBlueNoMatterWho. Calling upon his fellow Democrats to be realists, Takei argued that Sanders had still won through his invigoration of the progressive left, and reminded viewers that the Vermont Senator himself had said that Clinton would be a far superior choice to any Republican candidate.

Author Anne Rice withstood a flurry of online attacks and insults Tuesday night after posting an anti-Sanders status on her Facebook page. Rice, who months ago touted Sanders as the superior Democratic candidate, wrote, “I’m very sorry I ever contributed a nickel to Bernie’s campaign. I had no idea his followers would become obstructionist and go to the depths they have with the politics of personal destruction. They’re worse than Republicans.” The post has since been removed.

 

By: Dan Fitzpatrick, The National Memo, May 2, 2016

May 3, 2016 Posted by | Bernie or Bust, Bernie Sanders, Sanders Supporters | , , , , , , , , | 2 Comments

“Our Invisible Rich”: Most Americans Have No Idea Just How Unequal Our Society Has Become

Half a century ago, a classic essay in The New Yorker titled “Our Invisible Poor” took on the then-prevalent myth that America was an affluent society with only a few “pockets of poverty.” For many, the facts about poverty came as a revelation, and Dwight Macdonald’s article arguably did more than any other piece of advocacy to prepare the ground for Lyndon Johnson’s War on Poverty.

I don’t think the poor are invisible today, even though you sometimes hear assertions that they aren’t really living in poverty — hey, some of them have Xboxes! Instead, these days it’s the rich who are invisible.

But wait — isn’t half our TV programming devoted to breathless portrayal of the real or imagined lifestyles of the rich and fatuous? Yes, but that’s celebrity culture, and it doesn’t mean that the public has a good sense either of who the rich are or of how much money they make. In fact, most Americans have no idea just how unequal our society has become.

The latest piece of evidence to that effect is a survey asking people in various countries how much they thought top executives of major companies make relative to unskilled workers. In the United States the median respondent believed that chief executives make about 30 times as much as their employees, which was roughly true in the 1960s — but since then the gap has soared, so that today chief executives earn something like 300 times as much as ordinary workers.

So Americans have no idea how much the Masters of the Universe are paid, a finding very much in line with evidence that Americans vastly underestimate the concentration of wealth at the top.

Is this just a reflection of the innumeracy of hoi polloi? No — the supposedly well informed often seem comparably out of touch. Until the Occupy movement turned the “1 percent” into a catchphrase, it was all too common to hear prominent pundits and politicians speak about inequality as if it were mainly about college graduates versus the less educated, or the top fifth of the population versus the bottom 80 percent.

And even the 1 percent is too broad a category; the really big gains have gone to an even tinier elite. For example, recent estimates indicate not only that the wealth of the top percent has surged relative to everyone else — rising from 25 percent of total wealth in 1973 to 40 percent now — but that the great bulk of that rise has taken place among the top 0.1 percent, the richest one-thousandth of Americans.

So how can people be unaware of this development, or at least unaware of its scale? The main answer, I’d suggest, is that the truly rich are so removed from ordinary people’s lives that we never see what they have. We may notice, and feel aggrieved about, college kids driving luxury cars; but we don’t see private equity managers commuting by helicopter to their immense mansions in the Hamptons. The commanding heights of our economy are invisible because they’re lost in the clouds.

The exceptions are celebrities, who live their lives in public. And defenses of extreme inequality almost always invoke the examples of movie and sports stars. But celebrities make up only a tiny fraction of the wealthy, and even the biggest stars earn far less than the financial barons who really dominate the upper strata. For example, according to Forbes, Robert Downey Jr. is the highest-paid actor in America, making $75 million last year. According to the same publication, in 2013 the top 25 hedge fund managers took home, on average, almost a billion dollars each.

Does the invisibility of the very rich matter? Politically, it matters a lot. Pundits sometimes wonder why American voters don’t care more about inequality; part of the answer is that they don’t realize how extreme it is. And defenders of the superrich take advantage of that ignorance. When the Heritage Foundation tells us that the top 10 percent of filers are cruelly burdened, because they pay 68 percent of income taxes, it’s hoping that you won’t notice that word “income” — other taxes, such as the payroll tax, are far less progressive. But it’s also hoping you don’t know that the top 10 percent receive almost half of all income and own 75 percent of the nation’s wealth, which makes their burden seem a lot less disproportionate.

Most Americans say, if asked, that inequality is too high and something should be done about it — there is overwhelming support for higher minimum wages, and a majority favors higher taxes at the top. But at least so far confronting extreme inequality hasn’t been an election-winning issue. Maybe that would be true even if Americans knew the facts about our new Gilded Age. But we don’t know that. Today’s political balance rests on a foundation of ignorance, in which the public has no idea what our society is really like.

 

By: Paul Krugman, Op-Ed Columnist, The New York Times, September 28, 2014

September 30, 2014 Posted by | Economic Inequality, Poverty, Wealthy | , , , , , , | Leave a comment

Even Without Donald Trump, Plenty Of Clowns In The 2012 GOP Field

Farewell Donald Trump. For a brief moment last month, his birther buffoonery powered him to the front of the Republican pack. What a difference a birth certificate, a death announcement, and serious treatment by the press make. Now The Donald has announced that as with his previous presidential flirtations he is not making this race. Suddenly he looks like one of the celebrity has-beens who gets fired on his television show—or worse, like a celebrity has-been who doesn’t actually get onto the show at all.

Trump peaked in mid-April when a survey from the Democratic group Public Policy Polling set him as the frontrunner for the GOP nomination, with 26 percent of the vote. Then reality intruded. The press went from treating him like a celebrity making silly noises about running to treating him like a genuine would-be candidate, checking out who he contributed to and fact-checking his weird claims. Then Obama’s long form birth certificate put an end to birtherism while Osama bin Laden’s violent end reminded us that there are monsters in the real world and that the presidency is for serious people, not reality TV blowhards.

Public Policy Polling’s survey last week had Trump at 8 percent, in a fifth place tie with Ron Paul.

But with Trump-mentum ended, where can we hope to find entertainment value in the GOP primary field? The answer is, where can’t you? Donald Trump, entertainer-turned-pol was never going to be the second coming of Ronald Reagan. But neither will the other maybes and might-want-tos.

Take Newt Gingrich, whose announcement video last week said we should “look reality in the face, [and] tell the truth.” The truth and the reality are that Gingrich is an abrasive bomb thrower who resigned his speakership after his colleagues, and most voters, had enough of him, not the profile swing voters usually latch onto. His disapproval rating when he left office was 70 percent and was still as high as 38 percent as recently as last summer. And Gingrich, a self-styled historian, is fighting history. Only once has a former speaker of the house made the transition to the White House. That, NBC’s Chuck Todd notes, was James Polk in 1844. And not since James Garfield in 1880 has a politician achieved the White House having only served in the U.S. House of Representatives.

Newt is not alone with this problem, of course. Sitting Rep. Michele Bachmann seems happy to conflate her fanatical Tea Party following with actual broad-based support. But again her lack of experience in winning even a statewide office in Minnesota makes one wonder whether she’s drinking tea or Kool-Aid. For sheer “what is he thinking” chutzpah, however, it’s hard to beat Rick Santorum, whose last act in American politics ended when the voters of his home state of Pennsylvania fired him from the U.S. Senate. I can think of one modern politician who won the White House after losing his last previous election, and Richard Nixon is not a figure whose mantel many GOPers lay claim to these days.

Sure Newt, Bachmann, and Santorum are members of the GOP presidential B Team, but is the A Team much more impressive? You could have made an argument for former Arkansas Gov. Mike Huckabee, before he announced this weekend that he would not run. The best that can be said of Tim Pawlenty, the former governor of Minnesota, is that he is inoffensive (read: bland), while the worst that can be said of 2008 vice presidential candidate Sarah Palin is that she’s . . . Sarah Palin.

Indiana Gov. Mitch Daniels commented last week that “the chances [of his beating Obama] would actually be quite good.” Apparently channeling some Trump-ian bombast, he added that, “The quality and the number of people who have said they’d like to be associated is really quite awesome to me.” Also awesome is the idea of someone running as a gimlet-eyed spending hawk whose previous job before governor was as George W. Bush’s budget chief. As the Center on Budget and Policy Priorities notes, “By themselves, in fact, the Bush tax cuts and the wars in Iraq and Afghanistan will account for almost half of the $20 trillion in debt that, under current policies, the nation will owe by 2019.”

Then there’s Mitt Romney, who Thursday made his highest profile attempt to explain why the healthcare law he passed while governor of Massachusetts, with an individual mandate, is good, but the national-level version of it, signed by Barack Obama, is bad. Romney’s dilemma: He can’t embrace the individual mandate because conservatives don’t like it any more at the state level than they do at the federal one. But he also can’t repudiate it lest he feed the political chameleon image that led the Democratic National Committee to tout “Mitt Romney, Version 5.0.”

The most damning illustration of the state of the GOP field may have come in a Politico report noting that virtually the only issue the contenders agree on is that “Sharia law is a continuing threat to the United States.”

One can’t help but look forward to the GOP nominee explaining that urgent threat in a general election debate while standing next to the president who got bin Laden.

By: Robert Schlesinger, U. S. News and World Report, May 16, 2011

May 16, 2011 Posted by | Birthers, Conservatives, Democracy, Elections, Exploratory Presidential Committees, GOP, Ideologues, Ideology, Independents, Journalists, Media, Mitt Romney, Newt Gingrich, Politics, President Obama, Press, Pundits, Racism, Republicans, Right Wing, Swing Voters, Tea Party, Voters | , , , , , , , , , , | Leave a comment

   

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