August 16, 2010

The Racists Return

If you ever have questions about whether or not racism still exists in America, I think we’ve provided you dozens of examples here over the years – and while conservatives like the folks at rags like the National Review would claim that there’s no such thing as racism in America anymore (despite mountains of evidence to the contrary – but then again, the National Review was never in the business of printing facts) I think there’s more than enough evidence that in this so-called post-racial society, the loud and proud racist hordes, marching under their Tea Party banners and frothingly obeying their lord and master Glenn Beck, are not only racially motivated, they’re racially driven as well. It plays a role in everything they do, and ensuring that their hatred stays good, high, and at the fever point.

Because I simply can’t bear to dice the piece up, this is the entire op-ed by Joe Conason of the New York Observer, published over at TruthDig:

Among the most revealing aspects of life during the Obama presidency is the panoply of responses to a black family in the White House. What made so many of us proud of our country on Jan. 20, 2009, has increasingly provoked expressions of hatred from the far right. That is troubling, but not nearly as troubling as the behavior of conservatives who excuse, embolden or simply pretend to ignore the bigots surrounding them.

Last spring, after unruly tea party protesters on Capitol Hill were accused of spewing racial epithets at civil rights hero John Lewis, an African-American congressman from Georgia, conservatives rose up in furious denial. Where was the proof? How could anyone suggest that racial prejudice lurks behind the festering right-wing hatred of President Obama (and his family)? Anger over that episode still lingers in certain quarters, motivating the deceptively edited video attack on Shirley Sherrod and the NAACP by a website called Big Government, Inc.

Even if the alleged assault on Lewis and other black congressmen did occur, argued prominent commentators on the right, it somehow only proved that there is no racism in America worthy of concern. A writer for National Review (the conservative magazine that historically opposed civil rights legislation) confided that the whole subject made him yawn:

“That these things are even remotely newsworthy leads me to one conclusion: Racism in America is dead. We had slavery, then we had Jim Crow—and now we have the occasional public utterance of a bad word. Real racism has been reduced to de minimis levels, while charges of racism seem to increase.”

But this summer has seen several loud and ugly outbursts of very real racism—including threats of violence against the president of the United States—that go well beyond the utterance of any single word. As if suffering from a facial tic, leading figures on the right cannot seem to suppress their inner Klansman these days.

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Is there any other way to explain Glenn Beck’s crazed rant comparing the Obama administration to an old movie about a society where apes and chimpanzees dominate humans? What did the Fox News host mean, exactly, when he shrieked: “It’s like the damned Planet of the Apes. Nothing makes sense!” Is there any other way to explain the grotesque new best-seller by radio host Laura Ingraham, “The Obama Diaries,” where, among other things, she depicts first lady Michelle Obama eating ribs at every meal? Why would she feel the need to describe the president as “uppity” by putting the word in the mouth of his mother-in-law? No wonder Stephen Colbert taunted Ms. Ingraham to her face for “hideous and hackneyed racial stereotyping.”
Of course, these are only two of the more egregious instances in recent weeks of social poisoning that dates back well over a year. Symptoms can be seen across the country now, even in amusement parks and church carnivals, where small children are exposed to this spiritual sickness.

At the Big Time fair held by Our Lady of Mount Carmel in Roseto, Pa., last week, a game called “Alien Attack” featured “an image of a suited black man holding a health care bill and wearing a belt buckle with a presidential seal,” at which players were encouraged to aim their popguns. Anybody who hit the cardboard figure in the head or the heart could win a prize. Irvin L. Good Jr., owner of Goodtime Amusements, who is responsible for this disgusting garbage, denied that the figure represents Mr. Obama. “We’re not interpreting it as Obama,” the inaptly named huckster told a local newspaper. “The name of the game is Alien Leader. If you’re offended, that’s fine, we duly note that.”

Meanwhile on the New Jersey shore, patrons of the Seaside Heights boardwalk could hurl baseballs at a black, jug-eared Obama figurine, winning a prize if they managed to smash it. As seen in a video posted on the Gawker website, this object closely resembles the grinning “lawn jockey” statuettes that used to festoon suburban lawns in a less decent era.

Most conservatives were late in taking responsibility for their movement’s immoral opposition to civil rights. It is time for them to step up and denounce the racism that is again disfiguring our country in their name.

[ The Racists Return ]
Source: TruthDig

How Letting the Bush Tax Cuts Expire Could End the Economic Crisis

Some economists have the right idea about the Bush-era tax cuts. You know, like I said in my last piece, That “Change” is Working Out Great for Me, Thanks for Asking!: the ones that did nothing to stimulate the economy or create new jobs?

The money that will come in to government coffers when you force those people to be accountable who were supposed to stimulate the economy, invest in new businesses, and hire people with all of the money they didn’t have to pay the government in taxes but simply didn’t will actually go to balance the federal budget and books that the conservative right has been whining about so much.

And that’s the clincher, and that’s why the Tea Party thug gallery simply has no idea what they’re on about – they complain that the government needs to find ways to pay for things, and they they can’t spend like this with no money coming in…but as soon as there’s a way to hold government accountable for the money that it’s not bringing home and ending a program of tax cuts that never yielded the benefits they were supposed to, they start screaming and crying. It seems the conservative right and the Tea Party thugs are only interested in balancing the budget and bringing in more money to government coffers if that really means the money will wind up in their pockets and if they’re able to cut the throats of the neediest Americans in the process.

Here’s the scoop, thanks to Anthony DiMaggio at TruthOut:

Allowing the Bush-era tax cuts to expire will remove a massive boon for America’s rich, which benefitted the most from Republican policies over the last decade. Reinstatement of the Estate Tax, the Alternative Minimum Tax and the return of pre-Bush income tax levels for the richest Americans (among other tax changes) will result in an increase of more than $217 billion in tax revenues for 2010 and 2011. The expirations will then contribute another $1.25 trillion from 2012 through 2015, and an additional $2.2 trillion from 2016 to 2020.(13) The Center for Economic and Policy Research projects that it could take a decade for the US to return to pre-2008 unemployment levels.(14) The unemployment problem, however, could be greatly reduced if even a portion of the more than $3.6 trillion in public revenues that would be restored within this same period were used to bolster private economic development and preserve state public sector jobs.

The 2009 economic stimulus was credited with preventing the recession from growing worse. Recent data suggests that national unemployment would have reached 16 percent without it.(15) The effects of the stimulus were blunted, however, due to the relatively small amount allocated in 2009 – totaling $787 billion – in addition to the refusal of states to raise taxes to make up for declining tax revenues.(16) Total state budget gaps for the fiscal year are projected for 2011 at $84 billion.(17) This means that, if the Bush tax cuts were allowed to expire, the revenues gained from them (from 2010 and 2011) are far more than enough to fill all currently existing state budget deficits for the next ten years (assuming the deficits remained at current levels, which they most likely would not once a full recovery took place), while still leaving an additional $2.76 trillion dollars left over to promote further economic recovery.

Business apologists will no doubt complain that the restoration of pre-Bush tax levels will stifle business initiative, investment in the economy and future growth. They argue that only by pushing tax cuts for business and the rich can economic recovery occur. These claims are difficult to take seriously considering that American corporations have returned to pre-2008 profit levels, while systematically refusing to invest in the economic growth needed to decrease unemployment from near historic highs. The top banks in the country were rescued under the TARP taxpayer funds under the assumption that they would begin to loan money to jump start the economy. They refused, preferring to take the money to pay CEO bonuses and buy up their competitors. The Bush tax cuts were intentionally frontloaded with benefits for the masses of Americans, with the vast majority of cuts for the wealthy (which constituted the bulk of the tax cuts under Bush) appeared only in the later years of the tax cut timeline laid out in 2001.(18) The Bush tax cuts, like the TARP funds, have not been used in the last few years to help bring about an economic recovery. These cuts are set to expire this year and renewing them will likely do little to nothing to promote recovery if they have had no effect up until this point.

Bingo. If the Bush-era tax cuts haven’t done anything up to this point – and even unlike President Obama’s stimulus, which while controversial there’s at least evidence that it made an impact and kept the situation from getting as bad as it could have – there’s no reason to believe that the Bush tax cuts will do anything favorable for the economy now….aside from what would happen if you let them whither and die, like they should have in the first place.

Who knows – maybe the whole mess wouldn’t have been so difficult to deal with if the vastly Republican Congress at the time never passed the tax cuts in the first place.

[ The Coming Tax War: How Letting the Bush Tax Cuts Expire Could End the Economic Crisis ]
Source: TruthOut