In the USA...
July 20, 2013 02:00 PMMcDonald’s Accidentally Served Up Minimum Wage 'McManifesto'
By Richard RJ Eskow
Marie Antoinette, meet Ronald McDonald.
A lot of people are angry about McDonald’s new financial advice website for employees, an ill-conceived project which drips with “let them eat cake” insouciance.
“Every dollar makes a difference,” McDonald’s lectures its struggling and often impoverished workers.
But it’s time to ditch the resentment and offer McDonald’s a word of thanks. It has just performed an invaluable service for campaigns like Raise the Minimum Wage, anupcoming July 24 campaign to raise the minimum wage, and petitions like this one by serving up a timely and exhaustively researched brief on their behalf. This new website provides invaluable data for a living-wage “McManifesto.”
You want fries with that?
Get this: The new employee website, co-created with Visa, helpfully suggests that people who work for this Fortune 500 corporation begin the financial planning process by taking a second job.
As a number of ticked-off writers have observed, McDonald’s also pretty much advises its employees not to clothe themselves, heat their homes, seek educational advancement, or pay more than $600 in rent and $20 in health insurance premiums per month. (As Daniel Gross notes, that would pay for about two days of coverage.)
And, as if that’s not enough, there isn’t even any money for food in the McDonald’s sample budget. Apparently for McDonald’s employees the phrase “Happy Meal” means you’re happy whenever you’re lucky enough to scrounge a meal.
People were seething at the website’s arch touches, which include interactive games like “Financial Football” and “Road Trip to Savings,” and were thunderstruck by the lordly obliviousness behind pronouncements like “Knowing where your money goes and how to budget it is the key to your financial freedom.”(Not when there’s not enough of it, Sir Ronald.)
Peter S. Goodman notes that McDonald’s receives a fortune in “corporate welfare.” In fact, government policies help most of the country’s underpaying mega-corporations keep expanding through a series of tax breaks and other concessions.
Economically, we’re super-sizing them.
Heart of the Matter
Many McDonald’s workers need public assistance to survive, which often includes Medicaid. That’s right: The public is even subsidizing McDonald’s low wages and lousy benefits when it comes to health care.
Subsidize McDonald’s? For health care? With that food it should be hit with a surcharge.
Fun fact: McDonald’s says it serves nine million pounds of French fries globally every day. Since slightly more than half its franchises are in the U.S., that means Americans presumably consume between four and five million pounds of this lard-laden, massively space-time curving starchy mass every 24 hours.
Each McDonald’s French fry is a tiny, fat-drenched drone missile aimed directly at the American cardiovascular system. One can only imagine how much of our nation’s runaway health care costs are traceable to this one corporation alone.
And we’re subsidizing its health care, rather than the other way around.
In 2012 McDonald’s had gross profit of more than $10 billion on annual revenues of $27 billion. That’s up more than 12 percent from 2010. The lard business is good.
Visa, which for some reason has been spared most of this week’s online fury, deserves its own share of negative attention. As the financial half of this website team, Visa presumably provided the handiwork which reminds struggling fast-food employees that “every day and every dollar make a difference.”
Visa, like McDonald’s, is a coddled corporation. A government less corrupted by Big Money would have broken up this monopolistic enterprise long ago, especially given its tendency to abuse its marketplace dominance. Visa was originally created by one fraud-ridden and bailed out megabank, Bank of America, and continues to enrich another. And, as CNN Money reported, its 2008 IPO “created a nice windfall for its owners, including its largest shareholder JPMorgan … about $1.3 billion on its 29 million shares.”
JPM made the headlines with yet another major fraud just this morning, adding piquancy to the knowledge that it bleeds us a little every time we swipe a credit card or debit card. And yet these two corporate anti-heroes have performed a great service by making the case so beautifully:
Americans can’t live on today’s minimum wage.
With a Side of Cynicism
As this video from LowPayIsNotOK.org makes clear, it takes a minimum of $15 per hour to even begin earning a living wage in this country. (And that’s without some basic necessities.)If the minimum wage had kept pace with productivity it would now be $16.54 per hour, according to the Center for Economic Policy Research. It would be $10.74 if it had merely kept pace with inflation – although McDonald’s and VISA have now demonstrated that this isn’t enough to live on either. (The federal minimum wage is currently $7.25.)
That adds an extra dose of cynicism to the website’s observation that “You can have almost anything you want as long as you plan ahead and save for it.”
That lie carries a special sting for the millions who have been locked out of the American Dream. Thanks to the deliberate policy decisions of the last four decades – breaks and giveaways for corporations, coupled with lost income for the majority – social mobility and income fairness have plunged in this country.
No matter how much you try to save on a minimum wage, a better life will remain beyond your means – until something changes.
Are there no roommates? Are there no malt shops?
A McDonald’s-like tone-deafness let Washington Post blogger Timothy B. Lee in for a heavy dose of online criticism too, when he defended the McDonald’s/Visa budget. Here’s an excerpt:
“Gawker’s Neil Casey calls $600 per month for rent a ‘laughably small’ figure, but Casey should spend more time outside the Northeast Corridor. When I lived in St. Louis, my roommate and I each paid $425 per month …”
Roommate? That clichéd thinking reflects one of the key misconceptions about minimum-wage workers: that they’re teenagers or twenty-one-year-olds just starting out in life. It’s closely related to the myth that most fast-food workers are fresh-faced kids serving root beer floats at the local malt shop.
In fact, less than 16 percent of minimum-wage workers are teenagers. Many are parents, which makes the “roommate” suggestion especially silly. More than seven million children live in a minimum-wage home. And many minimum-wage workers live in poverty. (SeeReal Faces of the Minimum Wage for more.)
You Deserve a Break Today
America is crying out to McDonald’s as if with one voice: “Stuff that financial planning website in your Egg McMuffin.”The pain and anger is palpable. But it’s not enough. What do we do?For one thing, we can sign a petition supporting a bill which would raise the minimum wage to $10.10 – and then demand it be raised even further. We can back the minimum-wage campaigns being waged around the country, including the upcoming July 24 Day of Action to commemorate the anniversary of the last minimum wage increase four years ago. These build on an exciting grassroots movement of fast-food workers in cities like Detroit. (Watch for more information here.)
McDonald’s should join the wage movement it so ably served this week, because economic misery is hurting its bottom line in the U.S. and worldwide. And while its new and successful “dollar menu” shows that it’s willing to profit from hard times, that’s only a short-term fix in a declining economy.
Pay your workers what they deserve, McDonald’s. But the rest of us won’t wait for you. We’re taking action, because we agree with you about one thing:
Every dollar makes a difference.
Click to watch: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=onrSMaIu6eo
***************FBI Document— Plots to Kill Occupy Leaders “If Deemed Necessary”
By Dave Lindorff on Jun 27, 2013
dissenting-vote-suddenly-dies-down-sniper-election-from-the-demotivational-poster-1273925293Would you be shocked to learn that the FBI apparently knew that some organization, perhaps even a law enforcement agency or private security outfit, had contingency plans to assassinate peaceful protestors in a major American city — and did nothing to intervene?
Would you be surprised to learn that this intelligence comes not from a shadowy whistle-blower but from the FBI itself – specifically, from a document obtained from Houston FBI office last December, as part of a Freedom of Information Act (FOIA) request filed by the Washington, DC-based Partnership for Civil Justice Fund?
To repeat: this comes from the FBI itself. The question, then, is: What did the FBI do about it?
Remember the Occupy Movement? The peaceful crowds that camped out in the center of a number of cities in the fall of 2011, calling for some recognition by local, state and federal authorities that our democratic system was out of whack, controlled by corporate interests, and in need of immediate repair?
That movement swept the US beginning in mid-September 2011. When, in early October, the movement came to Houston, Texas, law enforcement officials and the city’s banking and oil industry executives freaked out perhaps even more so than they did in some other cities. The push-back took the form of violent assaults by police on Occupy activists, federal and local surveillance of people seen as organizers, infiltration by police provocateurs—and, as crazy as it sounds, some kind of plot to assassinate the “leaders” of this non-violent and leaderless movement.
But don’t take our word for it. Here’s what the document obtained from the Houston FBI, said:
An identified [DELETED] as of October planned to engage in sniper attacks against protestors (sic) in Houston, Texas if deemed necessary. An identified [DELETED] had received intelligence that indicated the protesters in New York and Seattle planned similar protests in Houston, Dallas, San Antonio and Austin, Texas. [DELETED] planned to gather intelligence against the leaders of the protest groups and obtain photographs, then formulate a plan to kill the leadership via suppressed sniper rifles. (Note: protests continued throughout the weekend with approximately 6000 persons in NYC. ‘Occupy Wall Street’ protests have spread to about half of all states in the US, over a dozen European and Asian cities, including protests in Cleveland (10/6-8/11) at Willard Park which was initially attended by hundreds of protesters.)
Occupiers Astounded—But Not Entirely
Paul Kennedy, the National Lawyers Guild attorney in Houston who represented a number of Occupy Houston activists arrested during the protests, had not heard of the sniper plot, but said, “I find it hard to believe that such information would have been known to the FBI and that we would not have been told about it.” He then added darkly, “If it had been some right-wing group plotting such an action, something would have been done. But if it is something law enforcement was planning, then nothing would have been done. It might seem hard to believe that a law enforcement agency would do such a thing, but I wouldn’t put it past them.”
He adds, “The use of the phrase ‘if deemed necessary,’ sounds like it was some kind of official organization that was doing the planning.” In other words, the “identified [DELETED” mentioned in the Houston FBI document may have been some other agency with jurisdiction in the area, which was calculatedly making plans to kill Occupy activists.
Kennedy knows first-hand the extent to which combined federal-state-local law enforcement forces in Houston were focused on disrupting and breaking up the Occupy action in that city. He represented seven people who were charged with felonies for a protest that attempted to block the operation of Houston’s port facility. That case fell apart when in the course of discovery, the prosecution disclosed that the Occupiers had been infiltrated by three undercover officers from the Austin Police department, who came up with the idea of using a device called a “sleeping dragon” -- actually chains inside of PVC pipe -- which are devilishly hard to cut through, for chaining protesters together blocking port access. The police provocateurs, Kennedy says, actually purchased the materials and constructed the “criminal instruments” themselves, supplying them to the protesters. As a result of this discovery, the judge tossed out the felony charges.
WhoWhatWhy contacted FBI headquarters in Washington, and asked about this document—which, despite its stunning revelation and despite PCFJ press releases, was (notwithstanding a few online mentions) generally ignored by mainstream and “alternative” press alike.
The agency confirmed that it is genuine and that it originated in the Houston FBI office. (The plot is also referenced in a second document obtained in PCJF’s FOIA response, in this case from the FBI’s Gainesville, Fla., office, which cites the Houston FBI as the source.) That second document actually suggests that the assassination plot, which never was activated, might still be operative should Occupy decisively re-emerge in the area. It states:
On 13 October 20111, writer sent via email an excerpt from the daily [DELETED] regarding FBI Houston’s [DELETED] to all IAs, SSRAs and SSA [DELETED] This [DELETED] identified the exploitation of the Occupy Movement by [LENGTHY DELETION] interested in developing a long-term plan to kill local Occupy leaders via sniper fire.
Asked why solid information about an assassination plot against American citizens exercising their Constitutional right to free speech and assembly never led to exposure of the plotters’ identity or an arrest—as happened with so many other terrorist schemes the agency has publicized—Paul Bresson, head of the FBI media office, offered a typically elliptical response:
The FOIA documents that you reference are redacted in several places pursuant to FOIA and privacy laws that govern the release of such information so therefore I am unable to help fill in the blanks that you are seeking. Exemptions are cited in each place where a redaction is made. As far as the question about the murder plot, I am unable to comment further, but rest assured if the FBI was aware of credible and specific information involving a murder plot, law enforcement would have responded with appropriate action.
Note that the privacy being “protected” in this instance (by a government that we now know has so little respect for our privacy) was of someone or some organization that was actively contemplating violating other people’s Constitutional rights— by murdering them. That should leave us less than confident about Bresson’s assertion that law enforcement would have responded appropriately to a “credible” threat.
Houston Cops Not Warned?
The Houston FBI office stonewalled our requests for information about the sniper-rifle assassination plot and why nobody was ever arrested for planning to kill demonstrators. Meanwhile, the Houston Police, who had the job of controlling the demonstrations, and of maintaining order and public safety, displayed remarkably little interest in the plot: “We haven’t heard about it,” said Keith Smith, a public affairs officer for the department, who told us he inquired about the matter with senior department officials.
Asked whether he was concerned that, if what he was saying was correct, it meant the FBI had not warned local police about a possible terrorist act being planned in his city, he said, “No. You’d have to ask the Houston FBI about that.”
Craft International Again
Sniper action by law enforcement officials in Texas would not be anything new. Last October, a border patrol officer with the Texas Department of Public Safety, riding in a helicopter, used a sniper rifle to fire at a fast-moving pickup truck carrying nine illegal immigrants into the state from Mexico, killing two and wounding a third, and causing the vehicle to crash and overturn. It turns out that Border Patrol agents, like a number of Texas law enforcement organizations, had been receiving special sniper training from a Dallas-based mercenary-for-hire organization called Craft International LLC. It seems likely that Houston Police have also received such training, possibly from Craft, which has a contract for such law-enforcement training funded by the US Department of Homeland Security.
Efforts to obtain comment from Craft International have been unsuccessful, but the company’s website features photos of Craft instructors training law enforcement officers in sniper rifle use (the company was founded in 2009 by Chris Kyle, a celebrated Army sniper who last year was slain by a combat veteran he had accompanied to a shooting range). A number of men wearing Craft-issued clothing and gear, and bearing the company’s distinctive skull logo, were spotted around the finish line of the April Boston Marathon, both before and after the bombing. Some were wearing large black backpacks with markings resembling what was seen on an exploded backpack image released by the FBI.(For more on the backpacks that allegedly contained the bombs, see this piece we did in May.)
An Activist Responds
Remington Alessi, an Occupy Houston activist who played a prominent role during the Occupy events, was one of the seven defendants whose felony charge was dropped because of police entrapment. He says of the sniper plot information, which first came to light last December as one of hundreds of pages of FBI files obtained by PCJF, “We have speculated heavily about it. The ‘if deemed necessary’ phrase seems to indicate it was an organization. It could have been the police or a private security group.”
Alessi, who hails from a law-enforcement family and who ran last year for sheriff of Houston’s Harris County on the Texas Green Party ticket, garnering 22,000 votes, agrees with attorney Kennedy that the plotters were not from some right-wing organization. “If it had been that, the FBI would have acted on it,” he agrees. “I believe the sniper attack was one strategy being discussed for dealing with the occupation.” He adds:
I assume I would have been one of the targets, because I led a few of the protest actions, and I hosted an Occupy show on KPFT. I wish I could say I’m surprised that this was seriously discussed, but remember, this is the same federal government that murdered (Black Panther Party leader) Fred Hampton. We have a government that traditionally murders people who are threats. I guess being a target is sort of an honor.
There, Alessi is referring to evidence made public in the Church Committee hearings of the 1970s which revealed that the FBI was orchestrating local police attacks (in Chicago, San Francisco and New York) on Panther leaders. (For more on that, see this, starting at p. 185, esp. pp. 220-223; also see this .)
Alessi suspects that the assassination plot cited in the FBI memo was
probably developed in the Houston Fusion Center (where federal, state and local intelligence people work hand-in-glove). During our trial we learned that they were all over our stuff, tracking Twitter feeds etc. It seems to me that based on the access they were getting they were using what we now know as the NSA’s PRISM program.
He notes, correctly, that in documents obtained from the FBI and Homeland Security by the PCJF’s FOIA search, the Occupy Movement is classed as a “terrorist” activity.
Ironically, while the Occupy Movement was actually peaceful, the FBI, at best, was simply standing aside while some organization plotted to assassinate the movement’s prominent activists.
The FBI’s stonewalling response to inquiries about this story, and the agency’s evident failure to take any action regarding a known deadly threat to Occupy protesters in Houston, will likely make protesters at future demonstrations look differently at the sniper-rifle equipped law-enforcement personnel often seen on rooftops during such events. What are they there for? Who are the threats they are looking for and potentially targeting? Who are they protecting? And are they using “suppressed” sniper rifles? Would this indicate they have no plans to take responsibility for any shots silently fired? Or that they plan to frame someone else?
**************KBR must face lawsuit over alleged kickbacks from military contracts: court
Saturday, July 20, 2013 9:29 EDT
By Jessica Dye
(Reuters) – The government can pursue “enhanced” penalties from Houston-based defense contractor KBR Inc over allegations that employees took kickbacks involving military contracts in Iraq, Afghanistan and Kuwait, a federal appeals court ruled on Friday.
The U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals for the Fifth Circuit ruling reinstates the government’s civil claim against KBR in connection with employees’ alleged violations of the Anti-Kickback Act, a law that bars government contractors and subcontractors from using bribes to influence awards.
In 2010, the U.S. government joined a whistleblower lawsuit alleging that employees in KBR’s transportation department accepted bribes in the form of meals, gifts and entertainment, from companies seeking to secure subcontracts with KBR to transport military goods around the globe.
The government sued under a section of the Anti-Kickback Act that allows it to recover enhanced penalties for “knowing” violations of the law. Under that law, judges can impose civil penalties equal to twice the amount of each kickback, and up to $11,000 for each occurrence of the prohibited conduct.
The government’s suit alleged KBR employees took 317 separate kickbacks with a total value of roughly $46,000, according to court filings.
KBR argued that it could not be penalized for its employees’ actions, and that the U.S. government had not shown that the employees acted to benefit KBR. A federal judge in Texas dismissed the government’s claim in 2011.
The U.S. appealed, and on Friday, the U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals for the Fifth Circuit reversed the lower court and said that KBR could be found vicariously liable for its employees’ conduct under the anti-kickback law. It did not address the merits of the government’s case.
A KBR spokesman said the company was disappointed with the ruling. A representative for the Justice Department did not immediately return a request for comment.
A former supervisor in KBR’s transportation department, Robert Bennett, pleaded guilty in 2008 to accepting perks on at least 40 occasions in connection with the military contracts. Kevin Smoot, an employee at subcontractor EGL Inc, pleaded guilty in 2007 to lying to federal investigators and giving kickbacks to KBR employees, including Bennett.
(Reporting by Jessica Dye in New York; Editing by Eric Beech and Robert Birsel)
***************Trayvon Martin protests being held in more than 100 U.S. cities
By Matt Williams, The Guardian
Saturday, July 20, 2013 12:44 EDT
Protests led by veteran civil rights leaders and the parents of Trayvon Martin are set to take place across the US on Saturday, amid ongoing anger over the acquittal of the man who shot dead the unarmed black teenager.
Demonstrators are set to gather outside federal court buildings and police headquarters in more than 100 cities, to call on the Department of Justice to file a civil rights case against George Zimmerman, the man who was found not guilty of second-degree murder of the 17-year-old.
The nationwide action, which was called for by the Reverend Al Sharpton, comes a day after President Barack Obama addressed the issue of Martin’s death in emotional remarks, in which he suggested that the US was still not “a post-racial society”. The president’s comments, which were made during an unscheduled press conference at the White House, came days after he urged calm over last Saturday’s acquittal of Zimmerman by a Florida jury.
Organisers of Saturday’s protests have voiced hopes that they will be peaceful, with no further outbreaks of the kind of violence that led to arrests in Los Angeles and the San Francisco Bay area earlier this week. But feelings remain high over perceived injustice and racial bias in the case.
Sharpton, who will lead one rally along with Martin’s mother, Sybrina Fulton, outside police headquarters in New York, has said he hopes continued public pressure will force the Justice Department to bring a civil rights case against Zimmerman. A planned demonstration in Miami, near the home where the 17-year-old Martin lived, was due to be led by his father.
Federal prosecutors have said they are pursuing an investigation into whether Zimmerman, who is part-Hispanic, violated civil rights laws. Lawyers with expertise in civil rights have said they think new charges are unlikely, however.
Public comments from one of the six jurors, citing Florida’s “stand your ground” law as a factor in reaching her conclusion that Zimmerman acted in self-defence, has stepped up pressure on the state’s Republican-dominated legislature to repeal or change the law. According to the instructions given to the jury, Zimmerman had “no duty to retreat and right to stand his ground and meet force with force, including deadly force, if he reasonably believed it was necessary to do so to prevent death or great bodily harm to himself”.
Though the stand your ground law was not specifically cited as part of the defence mounted by Zimmerman’s lawyers, the jury instructions paving the way for his acquittal came directly from the 2005 statute.
Florida’s governor, Rick Scott, who met sit-in demonstrators outside his office in Tallahassee on Thursday, said he supports the stand your ground law and has no intention of convening a special legislative session to change it. But Obama suggested that was the wrong course of action.
“I think it would be useful for us to examine some state and local laws to see if they are designed in such a way that they may encourage the kinds of altercations and confrontations and tragedies that we saw in the Florida case,” he said.
In his comments on Friday, Obama also urged all Americans to try to understand the Martin case from the perspective of African-Americans.
“There is a history of racial disparities in the application of our criminal laws,” the president said. “A lot of African-American boys are painted with a broad brush. If a white male teen was involved in the same kind of scenario … both the outcome and the aftermath might have been different.”
**************Conservatives Are Terrified By America’s Rising Surge of Liberalism
By: Sarah Jones
Jul. 19th, 2013
It’s funny that it took conservatives this long, or rather one conservative, this long to arrive here. But here he is.
Strong liberalism is on the rise, Bruce Bartlett announces rather sadly in the Fiscal Times, as you would expect for a supply-side economics expert who was a policy adviser to Reagan. Liberalism is on the rise, it’s going to take over just like conservatism did, because people like liberal ideas like a minimum wage and taxing the rich, he tells us.
But before Bartlett gets to the super sad part about how conservatives have no ideas and liberalism might just get somewhere if only they had a strong leader, Bartlett has to drag liberalism-in-action through the mud, chock full of the usual FDR resentment (“free stuff” isn’t written anywhere, but you can hear the whispers). He opines, “One can argue about how liberal Obama is, but it is obvious that he has not been a transformational president. It is clear that the energy remains on the Republican side with almost all policy issues debated within a conservative framework.”
This is how Republicans comfort themselves, but it’s actually not accurate. The framework of a policy argument is not set by the President; it’s a cultural matter, as all policy debate really is. Yes, Democrats and liberals need to do a better job of reframing issues if they want to win hearts and minds. The media is stuck in the stone age when Republican frames were all the rage.
But also, Obama has been very liberal via an incremental approach to long term paradigm shifting. Only someone who hasn’t actually read what was in the stimulus thinks Obama isn’t liberal, and isn’t enacting a very liberal agenda. Shhhh, don’t tell anyone. Republicans would really freak out if they knew.
Michael Grunwald’s “The New New Deal: The Hidden Story of Change in the Obama Era” breaks it down:
As ambitious and far-reaching as FDR’s New Deal, the Recovery Act is a down payment on the nation’s economic and environmental future, the purest distillation of change in the Obama era.
The stimulus has launched a transition to a clean-energy economy, doubled our renewable power, and financed unprecedented investments in energy efficiency, a smarter grid, electric cars, advanced biofuels, and green manufacturing. It is computerizing America’s pen-and-paper medical system. Its Race to the Top is the boldest education reform in U.S. history. It has put in place the biggest middle-class tax cuts in a generation, the largest research investments ever, and the most extensive infrastructure investments since Eisenhower’s interstate highway system. It includes the largest expansion of antipoverty programs since the Great Society, lifting millions of Americans above the poverty line, reducing homelessness, and modernizing unemployment insurance. Like the first New Deal, Obama’s stimulus has created legacies that last: the world’s largest wind and solar projects, a new battery industry, a fledgling high-speed rail network, and the world’s highest-speed Internet network.
But it’s a comfort to Republicans to pretend that Obama hasn’t fundamentally changed America, that he’s been inept.
Ironically, Obama has been a better fiscal leader than any Republican of late. He’s shown restraint, responsibility, integrity, and character. He paid for his healthcare reform program – a program based on a liberal idea but implemented using competition as its foundation. Is Obama moderate? No, but he’s wise and has a solid temperament. He is not an extremist, a fact which does not preclude being a strong liberal unless you only see liberals as they were stereotyped in the 1960s. Obama picks up on good ideas and he doesn’t care where they come from. This causes many to view him inaccurately based on that one idea.
Bartlett thinks Republicans have a shot at taking control of the Senate, for sure keeping the House, but the White House may be a long shot for them. “Just as the political energy of conservatives turned in their favor long before Republican politics caught up with it, I think there are signs that conservative energy is weakening and liberal energy is rising today.”
He notes that these days, “conservatives are basically on the defensive, as liberals were in the 1970s.” They don’t have something they want to accomplish. They aren’t for anything. (This has been obvious for the last four years.)
Bartlett then identifies that the public is favoring a liberal agenda based on the following from a poll from the Public Religion Research Institute:
For example, 63 percent of people support higher taxes on those making more than $250,000, with only 34 percent opposed. There is now majority support for allowing gays to marry versus 41 percent opposed.
Raising the minimum wage is supported by 73 percent of people, with just 25 percent opposed. And 54 percent of people favor legal abortion, with 42 percent wanting it to be illegal.
Whose agenda does that sound like? That’s right. The President’s. And many Congressional Democrats and at least one Independent.
But that’s not what Bartlett sees, “Today, Democrats lack leadership and much of the party’s weakness vis-à-vis the Republicans stems from it. The party’s base is depressed, lethargic and fearful of attacks from the right. But strong, articulate leadership can turn that around overnight, I believe.”
Liberals just need a good leader, Bartlett posits. Someone who can defend liberal policies (see above; aka, the President’s agenda). It’s time for “an unknown back-bencher to possibly catapult himself or herself into the presidency, as those with more name recognition and seniority play it safe.”
Liberals have plenty of “back-benchers”, or front-benchers, who are clearly articulating liberal policies. Elizabeth Warren comes immediately to mind. Bernie Sanders. And heck, given the agenda Bartlett himself labeled as liberal, our current President is just that liberal leader.
That’s just another thing Republicans don’t get. Liberals have a strong leader. He’s in the White House. He doesn’t look like Republicans think a liberal looks; he doesn’t sport a beard and hippie sandals, but he’s as much of an FDR liberal as a modern president can be under the changed Congressional rules and Republican obstruction.
And yes, sometimes the Democratic base is “depressed, lethargic and fearful of attacks from the right”. They have PTSD after years of Republican dirty bombs. Many of them still fall for Republican lies, even though they know the Republican playbook includes things just like what Darrell Issa just did to Obama. Some of them still trip over it.
But it’s not because they don’t have a good leader. It’s because the media hasn’t caught up with the changes, and the media still courts Republicans as if Republicans were the forever ruling class. Liberals are still treated as if they stink, as if they are fresh off the commune with glazed eyes and no working vehicle.
In reality, liberals look like President Obama and Elizabeth Warren. They are college students, day traders, nurses, doctors, lawyers, writers, artists – they are everywhere. They are more mainstream than Republicans dare face.
Even in the South.
In 2008, Republicans ran against Obama by calling him the “most liberal Senator” in the Senate. Why didn’t it occur to Republicans then that Obama won in spite of being labeled the most liberal senator in the entire universe ever-ever-ever?
The message was clear as a bell to me. That label doesn’t carry the stigma they think it does. This is not the 1970s, the 1980s, or even the 1990s. This country had just survived Bush. We weren’t hating on liberals.
So yes, Bartlett is correct — liberalism is on the rise. But it’s far past where he thinks it is, because he can’t recognize the very policies he calls liberalism when this President has them as his agenda, and he can’t recognize liberal leaders if they aren’t wearing a t-shirt that says HIPPIE. He doesn’t want to see what’s already here, even if he’s more intellectually honest than most of his party, whose fear blinds them to this reality.
Welcome to 2013 folks.