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The Importance of Hearing Dog Whistles

Scott Adams
Scott Adams on his YouTube channel getting understatedly annoyed at imaginary black people.

You may have heard about Scott Adams getting dropped from hundreds of outlets today because of a racist rant on his YouTube channel, “Real Coffee with Scott Adams” in which he called black Americans a “hate group” and that white people should just “just get the fuck away” from them. An extended transcript is below, if you want full context.

What is this all about? Well, Adams was furious at a Rasmussen Reports poll which said that 53% of black people agreed with the statement, “It’s OK to be white,” from which he then inferred that 47% of black people didn’t, and therefore they are racists, a hate group, and he is so over them.

The source of his anger is very telling. First of all, Rasmussen Reports is a strongly conservative polling outfit, typically setting the stage for republican politicians and talking heads with these rather obviously slanted polls designed to create controversy. This particular poll had two questions:

1* Do you agree or disagree with this statement: “It’s OK to be white.”

2* Do you agree or disagree with this statement: “Black people can be racist, too.” You may or may not be able to see the screeching racist dog whistles in these two questions, but the whistle is there, loud and clear.

The first question asks if “It’s OK to be white.” You might think that this is a bit strange, as on its face, it sounds like any other response except “Yes” would be discriminatory.

Here’s the problem: it’s a racist dog whistle that many people are not aware of. It has been around for years in the alt-right community as a statement representing white-supremacist views, constructed specifically to impervious from attack because of how innocuously correct it seems—but nonetheless is used in a powerfully racist way. Like the slogan, “All Lives Matter,” it passive-aggressively attacks protests against racism by slyly suggesting that people of color who are being discriminated against are the real racists here.

So, if you know the history of the statement, then you know it is a racist slur, and you would react strongly against it.

However, in the poll, most respondents probably didn’t even know what it means. Without the historical context, you have to wonder, “Does this mean that being white is not OK? In what way? Is it OK for me to be white? For white people? For anyone, metaphorically? Culturally? What?”

When Adams concluded that 47% of black Americans are utter racists, he kind of glossed over—or did not pay attention to—the fact that only 26% said they disagree with it; he included in that group the 21% who said they were not sure, a reasonable response considering the lack of context. And, either not knowing or ignoring the context, he did not reflect on the fact that likely most, if not almost all of the 26% who said “no” did so because they did know the context, and were responding to a white supremacist slogan.

The heavily slanted nature of the poll becomes further clear with the only other question, about the statement that “Black people can be racist, too.”

This harkens back to a controversial quote, famously made by Spike Lee, that “black people can’t be racist.”

This statement was immediately attacked by, well, virtually every single conservative in the country, as an outrageous statement which, they accused, was racist in and of itself. “What, only white people can hate people of other races?” was the reaction. It seemed completely indefensible, utterly absurd, and was used to castigate anyone accusing white people of racism. It was used heavily in the campaign to cast white people as the real victims of an institution of hatred against abuse of every last single white person.

The thing is, that’s not what Spike Lee said. Here’s his actual full quote:

Black people can’t be racist. Racism is an institution. Black people don’t have the power to keep hundreds of people from getting jobs or the vote. Black people didn’t bring nobody over in boats. They had to add shit to the Constitution so we could get the vote. Affirmative action is about finished in this country now. It’s through. And black people had nothing to do with that, those kinds of decisions. So how can black people be racist when that’s the standard? Now, black people can be prejudiced. Shit, everybody’s prejudiced about something.

Read the last two sentences of that quote again, in case you missed it. “Now, black people can be prejudiced. Shit, everybody’s prejudiced about something.” In short, he is making painfully clear that black people can hate all white people, that they can be prejudiced.

His real message is that, as opposed to prejudice, which is personal, racism is institutional, meaning that it carries the force of the society with it. I live in Japan, so I can be prejudiced against Japanese people, but racism is institutional, so being racist here is the domain of the 98% Japanese population. It is simply a matter of definitions.

In that context, Lee’s statement is scathingly true, and uncomfortably accurate. It is only the intentional misreading of that statement which casts it as a racist slur in itself.

Black Lives Matter means that only black lives matter It’s OK to Be White means that black people hate all white people, not racism Black People Can’t Be Racist means that black people are super-racist

See how the meanings are turned around? Notice how, in context, the meanings cast an absolutely different light? This is profoundly intentional.

So again, when the poll asked respondents to agree or disagree with the statement, “Black people can be racist, too,” they were blowing another deafening dog whistle.

Knowing the context of these two statements, the purpose and intent behind the poll become rather clear. They were intended, with clear dishonest motives, to make black people look bad.

The question that remains is, did Scott Adams understand this, taking the opportunity to make his racist intent look like wounded sympathy? Or was he so unaware of the context that he let himself be fooled by the clear intent of the poll?

I am honestly not sure; it could have been either or even both. One thing that’s clear is Adams’ racist beliefs. Note these quotes from his rant, after stating that he intentionally moved to a predominantly white neighborhood because black neighborhoods are shit:

Everybody who focuses their priority on education does well. If anybody in the black community focuses on education, they’ll do well as well, because the the system allows that if they don’t, I can’t make that my problem anymore. It just can’t be my problem. It can’t be my problem if the solution is so clear, so available, and people don’t want to take it. It’s just not my problem anymore, so I resign.

In short, black people have only themselves to blame for their lot in life because they don’t focus on education. As if they don’t want to, or that a hundred significant truths about the black experience do not weigh more heavily on that topic than does simple choice. As if society does not make utterly clear to black kids that only through sports or entertainment or crime that they cannot be successful, in a world where people whose very names just sound black don’t get called back for job applications, where these kids are virtually hunted by cops and given a rap sheet that hobbles them for life before they can even have a chance to get that education, that racism does not hobble the families’ incomes and opportunities, that… well, you get the idea. The list would be a whole essay in and of itself.

No, no, none of that matters. It’s all just a choice they make. After all, we elected a black man president, and that means that any black person can make it in our society, and that race isn’t an issue. Right?

Sure looks pretty clear to be that Adams believes in this alt-right bullshit version of reality.

Here is the relevant excerpt from Adams’ rant:


Well, Rasmussen poll had a provocative little poll today. They said do you agree or disagree with the statement uh it’s okay to be white. That was an actual question Rasmussen asked you know white and black voters and and probably others uh do you disagree or agree with a statement, ‘It’s okay to be white,’ 26 percent of blacks said, no, it’s not okay to be white. 21 weren’t sure. Together that is 47 of black respondents were not willing to say it’s okay to be white.

That that actually that’s like a real poll, this just happened. Did you have any idea, would you have imagined that that could have happened. So I realized, as you know I’ve been identifying as black for a while, years now, because I like you know I like to be on the winning team, and I like to help and I always thought, well, if you help the black community, that’s sort of the biggest lever you know you could you can find the the biggest benefit. So I thought, well that’s the hardest thing and the biggest benefit, so I’d like to focus a lot of my life resources in helping black Americans so much, so that I started identifying as black to just be on the team I was helping.

But it turns out that nearly half of that team doesn’t think I’m okay to be white, which is of course why I identified as black because so I could be on the winning team for a while.

But I have to say, this is the first political poll that’s changed my activities. I don’t know that that’s ever happened before. Normally you see a poll, you just look at it, you go, ‘Ahh, whatever. Oh, this is interesting, what other people think.’

But, as of today, I am going to re-identify as white, cause I don’t want to be a member of a hate group. I’ve accidentally joined a hate group.

So if nearly half of all Blacks are not OK with white people – according to this poll, not according to me, according to this poll – that’s a hate group. That’s a hate group. And I don’t want to have anything to do with them.

And I would say, based on the current way things are going, the best advice I would give to White people is to get the hell away from Black people, just get the fuck away. Wherever you have to go, just get away. Cause there’s no fixing this. This can’t be fixed. Alright, this can’t be fixed. You just have to escape.

So that’s what I did, I went to a neighborhood where [I] have a very low black population, because unfortunately, there is a high correlation between the density—this is according to Don Lemon, by the way—so here I’m just quoting Don Lemon, when he notes, that he—when he lived in a mostly black neighborhood, there were a bunch of problems that he didn’t see in white neighborhoods. So even Don Lemon sees a big difference in your own quality of living based on where he live[d], and who was there.

So I don’t think it makes any sense as a white citizen of America to try to help Black citizens anymore. It doesn’t make sense. There’s no longer a rational impulse. And so I’m going to back off on being helpful to Black America because it doesn’t seem like it pays off.

Like I’ve been doing it all my life, and the only outcome is I get called a racist. That’s the only outcome. It makes no sense to help Black Americans if you’re white. It’s over. Don’t even think it’s worth trying. Totally not trying. Now, we should be friendly; like I’m not saying, start a war, do anything bad, nothing like that. I’m just saying get away, just get away.

And here’s my take on all of it: Everybody who focuses their priority on education does well. If anybody in the black community focuses on education, they’ll do well as well, because the the system allows that if they don’t, I can’t make that my problem anymore. It just can’t be my problem. It can’t be my problem if the solution is so clear, so available, and people don’t want to take it. It’s just not my problem anymore, so I resign.

I resigned from the hate group called Black Americans according to the Rasmussen poll, 46 percent of them don’t think white people are okay. Just being white… and there we go.

You didn’t expect that today, did you?

But the most helpful thing I can do is to say I’m not going to help. Do you understand that? Continuing to help in in that sort of you know classic ‘Oh, let me help you give you a you know a lift up, give you a hand, you know, Mentor you, hire you, prefer you…’ I’m going to stop all of that. I’m done with all of that. Yeah, no, it didn’t work. The only thing that will work is to say, you got to fix your own problem. You know how you know how to do, it everybody else figured it out.

I’m not going to speculate you know why you’re not doing it. I’m not going to speculate why there’s a difference. I’m just going to say it’s available to everybody, just pick it up. It’s free money. Focus on education and you could have a good life too.

But those who don’t want to focus on education you just need to get away from them just get as much distance as you can. That’s my recommendation.

And I’m also really sick of seeing video after video of black Americans beating up non-black citizens. I realize it’s anecdotal, and you know it doesn’t give me a a full picture of what’s happening but every damn day I look on social media and there’s some black person beating the out of some white person. I’m kind of over it. I’m over it right so I quit

And it feels good not to be in a racist hate group anymore so I’m now independent, not a member of any group I do not align with any group not the white supremacists, and not the black racists. All right.

The Name of God: Aside from That

“Thank you President Trump for letting us say ‘Merry Christmas’ again!”

A common refrain from the Religious Right: “You cannot dare utter the name of God in the public square.”

Well, they’re right, after all, aren’t they? You cannot say the word “God” in public. Well, not exactly—actually, anyone can do it, really, at almost any time. There are, after all, public churches, and all manner of religious ceremonies, and religious broadcasting all over TV and radio, as well as on the Internet. If you are in public and you say the word “God,” nothing happens to you at all. No, what they mean by the “public square” is just in official government business. No one in government is ever allowed to speak the name of God in official government business. Ever.

Well, except for when the president makes a speech. He pretty much always ends it with “God bless the United States of America.” And a whole bunch of other times the president mentions God and has religious leaders make speeches and stuff.

But aside from that, you can never say the name of God in any part of government.

Well, except for legislatures, where every day, in every legislative body, at every level of government, when they begin every session with a religious prayer led by a chaplain or other religious speaker.

But aside from that, you can never say the name of God in any part of government.

Well, except in every courthouse at every level of government whenever any witness is sworn in, they do it with their hand on a bible and are required to swear in the name of God before they give testimony.

But aside from that, you can never say the name of God in any part of government.

Well, except for every school, at the start of every school day, when the teacher leads every student in reciting the Pledge of Allegiance, where every student says “Under God” to describe the nation.

But aside from that, you can never say the name of God in school.

Well, aside from the fact that the Supreme Court has ruled that any student or group of students, acting independently of school officials, may engage at prayer any time at school on the one condition that it not interrupt a class in session.

But aside from that, you can never say the name of God in any way related to the government.

Well, except for every single cash transaction in the country, where every single last piece of currency, every last coin and bill, is branded with the motto “In God We Trust” on it, the official currency of the nation, printed and controlled by the government.

But aside from that, you can never say the name of God in public where the government is concerned.

So, yes, in every speech made by every president, every session of every legislature at every level, every session of every court in every courtroom, in every pledge and every prayer by every student in every school, and in every cash transaction made by every person every day using federal currency… yes, then you can have the name of God in every single government transaction.

But aside from that, you can never say the name of God in any part of government.

Never. Or the cops will come for you and arrest you for saying that word.

Tell Me Lies, Tell Me Trickle-Down Lies

Trickle-down is a scam.

Trickle-down not only doesn’t work, it obviously couldn’t. The first hint is in the name: “Trickle-Down.” Not “Rain Down,” “Shower Down,” “Torrent Down,” or “Flood Down,” but just a trickle, at best. The idea that workers get almost nothing is right there in the name. You’d think that people would have caught on to this sooner. It would be like an employer offering their workers a raise and calling it “Crumbs off the Table.”

From there it gets worse. The idea of the theory is to jump-start the economy by giving money to rich people. There are several rather unmistakable reasons why this wouldn’t help the economy.

First, rich people are, not to put too fine a point on it, rich. They don’t need money to invest, they already have it. Thus the “rich” part of it. They already get generous tax breaks on successful investments in the form of capital gains taxes; that gives them more money already. And if all their wealth is tied up in other ventures, there is a long line of banks that are usually willing to issue them big loans in order to help them invest. If they come to a bank and say, “Here’s a great opportunity to create a business with a promising future,” loans are almost inevitable.

Next, giving rich people more money via tax breaks does not guarantee that they will invest it in a way that creates more jobs. When a rich person gets more money, their natural reaction is to say, “How can I make the most money with this money?”

This is where Trickle-Down is most clearly absurd as a solution to a depressed economy: if no one is buying anything, then the last thing a rich person will do is invest in building factories to sell things to people who aren’t buying anything. Instead, they will either hoard the cash if nothing is paying off, or else maybe invest in derivatives, which usually create few or no jobs at all.

For example, if a rich person invests money in stocks, that mostly just represents value moving from one person to another. It does not create wealth, nor does it spur jobs. At the very best, if enough rich people buy stock in a company, the stock price will go up—which may improve the image of the company, and could help it buy more acquisitions, but not really to create a large number of new jobs. By the time you get to any job increases, the percent of what was spent on the tax break for rich people is so diluted that the benefit in jobs is lost in the white noise of market fluctuations.

Next, we have the basic function of capitalism: the idea that people will create jobs and wealth in pursuit of wealth made by commerce. The critical point here is that rich people getting money is the inducement for creating jobs. You invest, build, hire, produce, sell, and profit. Profit is the end of the process. That’s the whole point

Giving rich people money should be the end reward for that process, not the start of it. If you start by giving rich people more money, there is, if anything, less incentive to work harder for it. It’s like giving the horse the carrot at the start of the ride, not the end. Or, more to the point, it’s like putting gasoline in your tailpipe. It creates a nice flash, but gets you nowhere.

So, What Creates Jobs?

It’s important to realize that companies, by their nature, do not create jobs. They avoid creating jobs. As Nick Hanauer put it, corporations are not job creators, they are job destroyers. Employing people is a cost. To maximize profits, businesses need to minimize costs. And since payroll is normally one of the biggest expenses any company has, they do everything they can do minimize it. That means paying less in salary and benefits (and destroying unions which would demand such things), making workers do more work for the same pay (businesses call this “productivity”), replacing workers with automated processes, and firing workers whenever possible.

Businesses don’t hire workers because they are charitable and like helping the working class. They only hire workers when it is impossible to profit without workers—and then fire the workers as soon as their jobs fail to make enough money for the company.

In short, businesses don’t want to create jobs; they only do it when absolutely necessary, and destroy the jobs as soon as it is profitable for them.

Capitalists will say that greed is good, as a motivator to make people invest. The problem is, greed has no limits. Corporations, by their nature, endlessly look for ways to increase the bottom line. Pay workers less, charge customers more, skimp on safety and corporate responsibility—exactly the opposite of what free-market capitalists claim will happen in an unregulated system.

There is a dire problem here. Businesses make money in the first place because the general population has enough wealth to buy the things offered for sale. If people don’t have enough money to buy things, then sales diminish. The more you underpay workers and lay them off, the less wealth there is to buy the things businesses are selling. Capitalism pushes wealth upwards, robbing the poor to pay the rich. If too much wealth accumulates at the top, the business cycle dies.

It is very much like a game of Monopoly: at the end, one person gets all the money, and then the game ends. We play that game, but we fail to project forward to think about what happens to the people who lose, and how the economy functions after that.

So we see that if money fails to cycle back to the workers, the system fails and collapses. It becomes clear, then, that the problem is not that there is too little wealth at the top, the problem is that there is too much

What you really want in the end is more commerce and more jobs, right? Supply-siders claim that the best place to stimulate that system is at the top. The problem is, that’s the furthest point from where the stimulus is needed. Instead, wealthy people will divert most of that wealth away from commerce and jobs, as explained above. That means that a small percent—just a trickle—goes from wealthy people to investment in commerce—where a percent of that wealth goes back up to the wealthy again—and thus a smaller percentage to jobs, and an even smaller percentage back into commerce.

Adding more money to the already large amount owned by the wealthy mostly just helps the wealthy, and by the time it gets to where it is needed, it’s too small an amount to do much good.

Instead, the stimulus needs to be plugged into the part of the cycle where it will have the biggest impact: people buying things. That is the true beginning of the cycle. Consumers have money and want to buy things, so businesses respond by creating jobs to produce the things people want.

Consumers with money drive economic growth the most directly and effectively.

If you give that tax cut to the working poor and middle class, they will inject almost all of it directly into the economy, buying goods and services. They will be far less likely to hoard it or direct it into derivatives. Instead, it will be spent in a way that directly and most effectively spurs job growth, tax revenue growth, and yes—even the growth of profits for rich people, who will have to actually work to get that money, as capitalism supposedly intended. Where tax breaks for rich people will result in only a tiny percentage creating jobs and commerce, tax breaks for workers results in most of that amount creating commerce and jobs. Far, far more effective.

The cycle always works best when more money is in the hands of working people. We saw this In the 40s and 50s when the top marginal tax rate for wealthy people was 90%, and the working class, strongly supported by powerful unions, had a great deal of disposable income. But now? Now, we have already run out of wealth for consumers to spend, and the cycle is mostly supported by what is left: debt spending. Not a sustainable solution.

What is needed is what we did from 1936 onward: tax wealthy people more, and, with the help of unions, put as much money as possible into the hands of workers. That’s the equation that will work.

Stimulus spendingDirect spending that puts more money in the hands of people at the lower end of the scale has been found to be far more effective at stimulating the economy. Food stamps, unemployment benefits, spending on infrastructure, and other programs to help the working poor have great stimulative value.

On the other hand, tax cuts for rich people and corporations are among the least stimulative actions you could take, and actually drain the economy.

It has been demonstrated again and again that the economy works by “profits-up,” not “trickle-down.”

If you want to create jobs, flood the lower and middle class with spending money. That’s where they money has the greatest positive impact. Trickle-down is like trying to eat well by giving a ravenous friend your dinner money and hoping that he brings you leftovers.

Arguments to the Contrary

Conservatives typically avoid arguing about how working class spending affects the economy because the answer is so obvious. Instead, they focus on the poor, starving rich people.

A popular argument is straight out of Ayn Rand: rich people are creators, they are the productive class. If you don’t give them tax cuts, and especially, if you dare to raise their taxes, they will decide that it just isn’t worth it, close up their businesses, putting workers out of a job, and the economy will fail.

This is presented as a serious idea, but once you consider it, it is so laughably absurd that it is amazing that anyone is actually trying to argue it.

One excellent example is Bill O’Reilly, who, on his show (in 2011, when it was still on), made this exact point. He used himself as an example. O’Reilly said that if Obama, who was president at the time, were to raise the marginal tax rate to 50%, O’Reilly would have seen that as too onerous, and would have quit his cushy, estimated $20 million-a-year job, laying off “scores” of workers. Why? Because O’Reilly having a take-home of $10 million instead of $12 million (if the top marginal rate were the real rate, which it is not) is just too little for him to sit on his ass all day and pontificate to crowds of adoring fans. What a hard life to lead. No, he would have rather fired dozens of people who depend on him rather than suffer with only $10 million a year, with a personal net worth of at least $50 million. Poor little rich man.

Not to mention the fact that business is a cutthroat environment absolutely brimming with people waiting in very long lines to compete. The moment one businessman closes up shop, a hundred more jump out to compete for the business left behind.

The conceit also assumes that the people controlling these companies are so uniquely talented that the next hundred would not be able to do nearly as good a job. Like, I suppose, Donald Trump, perhaps? No. While some have talents in marketing and management, these are not unique talents limited to the special few. There is more than enough talent out there.

In addition, the very idea that a businessman would close up shop with only fair profits instead of excessive profits is preposterous. People in business have to be able to weather the most severe storms, including intense competition, market downturns, and all the way up to bankruptcy and rebuilding. And yet the Randian theory suggests that all of these people are so weak and frail that a 10% tax hike would send them packing.

Any real business owner who shut down their business because of a tax hike would be mocked viciously as they were trampled by the stampede of other businesses clamoring to take their business under the higher tax rate. Profits are profits, you never turn one down.

Then there are the bogus statistics. Conservatives have two basic arguments why tax hikes on rich people won’t work. First, rich people don’t have enough money, and second, they pay too much in taxes already.

The first argument says that even if you taxed rich people at 100%, it would only produce enough revenue for running the government for a few months; there just isn’t enough money there to do the job.

The second argument is that rich people already have too high a burden. In this argument, they claim that the top 1% of income earners pay about 40 percent of all taxes into the federal government. So unfair! And let’s not mention that the top 1% own about 40% of the wealth, so a 40% rate is more than fair. No, let’s totally ignore that.

But wait. Those two claims by conservatives don’t add up. The average real tax rates (the actual percentage of earnings paid as taxes after all adjustments are made) for the top 1% is given as 25%. And if 25% of their income pays for 40% of all taxes collected, then 100% of their income should pay for 160% of all taxes. That would absolutely be more than enough to do the job for the whole year and then some.

The discrepancy between the two arguments proves that these people are playing fast and loose with the numbers; both arguments are full of lies.

Usually, individual conservatives don’t make both arguments; some make one, and some make the other. But few make both. Few, but not none. In 2011, Michele Bachmann shamelessly made both arguments in one three-week period. No one in the media called her out on it.

In fact, you should consider why rich people still work at all. I mean, if I had ten million dollars free and clear, I would fucking retire. I would buy a nice house and live well off my savings.

So, why do rich people keep working? I can see six reasons:

  1. They like money. there are variations on this, but it boils down to greed. No amount of money is enough. Give me more, more, more. It’s an obsession.
  2. They want to win. They want to be the best, or at least amongst the best. They want to have the biggest pile of toys, the most corporations, the biggest mansions, the greatest private jets and yachts. It’s a competition.
  3. They have a monetary goal. Once they hit certain figure or status, they consider their goals achieved, and then stop working—but will continue working until that happens.
  4. They have a non-monetary goal. Maybe they believe in the work they are doing, and money is just a means to that end. Maybe they hit their monetary goal way back when, but keep at it because they believe they can accomplish something that they consider important.
  5. They love their work. They love doing what they are doing, they are artists or professionals who believe in what they do, and love doing it more than anything else.
  6. Their identity is based upon working. They need to work, they have to do what they do; they would not know what to do with themselves if they ever stopped.

So, how would these people respond to higher tax rates?

  1. People who like money would still like money. They would actually work harder for it.
  2. People who want to win would still want to win, even if the prize were smaller.
  3. People who have a monetary goal would have to work longer and/or harder to achieve that goal. Yes, they would then quit, but they would have quit sooner if their taxes had been lower.
  4. People with non-monetary goals wouldn’t particularly notice, unless somehow the increased taxes made it impossible to reach their goals—and considering how exceptions are always made to encourage more business, it is safe to assume they’d be covered.
  5. People who love their work regardless of the money would still love their work and keep doing it.
  6. People whose identity is based on working would still work.

As you can see, with all of these groups, raising taxes would not stop any of them—and with some, it would actually spur them to work harder and longer.

And then there is one more reason that we knowing high taxes on rich people would work: because we did it and it worked.

At Davos in 2019, Michael Dell scoffed at the idea of a top marginal tax rate of 70%, retorting, “Name a country where that’s worked!”

Well, The United States of America, Mike. For 45 years, from 1936 to 1981. The fact is, the higher we taxed rich people, the better the economy was. High tax rates helped us win WWII, and helped create a supercharged middle class that created an economy that even conservatives refer to as a “golden era.” Clearly, we did not tax rich people out of existence.

As a result, we know for a fact that a top marginal rate of 70% will, in fact, work extremely well.

Oh, you know what else we had before the top tax rate was lowered below 70%?

We had unions. That is, a mechanism to fight for better pay and benefits for the working class, thus enabling more wealth in the hands of people who actually power the economy.

The point, I hope, has by now been made abundantly clear. Our economy is better off when we tax the rich more and the working class less.

The Slow and Brutal Dementia of the Right-Wing Base

It is astonishing that this race is within the margin of error.

Many on the left are astounded that so many conservative Christians in Georgia would reject a compassionate, profound, and clean-living Christian pastor like Reverend Raphael Warnock, and instead prefer the deranged and hedonistic pathological liar Herschel Walker. The thing is, this is nothing new; the phenomenon goes back to Ronald Reagan, and has only been growing since then.

People were incredulous when an actor, Ronald Reagan, who was clearly not too bright, ran for office. We believed his popularity was due to his acting skills, his charisma and charm—which, at least in part, was true enough. His supporters were perfectly willing to ignore the dim-witted nature of the man, instead creating their own image of his power and brilliance in defiance of what everyone witnessed.

But then republicans got behind George W. Bush, a privileged, former-drug-using, bullying little snot who was a serial liar, an AWOL draft-dodger, and clearly dumb as a post.

Not too long after that, republicans went absolutely wild over Sarah Palin, a corrupt, lying idiot who couldn’t answer even the simplest of questions—and even preferred her over John McCain, who, while he had his own issues, was at least pretty smart, and was a war hero to boot.

And then, of course, there is Donald Trump, who topped the chart with his pathological lying, his malignant narcissism, his appeals to violence and hatred; his cheating, stealing, and fraud; his racism, misogyny, and open contempt for disadvantaged people; his openly criminal intent, his open assault on institutions and truth, and even his hostility to democracy itself. He became not just their hero, but their savior. Their fealty and adoration turn out to have been not opportunistic but true, as it maintains its intensity even beyond his usefulness to right-wing desires.

With each of these inept, easily-manipulated, unqualified, and clearly broken people, their corruption and ill deeds just got more and more outrageous as their intelligence shrunk to almost vanishing insignificance.

Herschel Walker is nothing new; he is simply the latest in a clear trend, a progression—or, more accurately, a regression—towards a crushing singularity of lies, debauchery, and stupidity.

And so we find that an increasing number of republican voters not only don’t respond to intelligence, character, or values, they in fact don’t give a rat’s ass to any of it. All they care about is one thing:

Will they rule in my name?

Beyond that, most republicans could care less about the person. Put a known pedophile, a rapist, even a mass murderer up for republican candidacy, the ever-growing base will vote red.

Even worse, it actually seems that the more reprehensible and asinine the candidate is, the more they vote for them. One might think that the republican base was simply voting for whomever ran on the republican ticket, but no—they actually seem to prefer lying, corrupt, idiotic scumbags.

As confounding as this may be, once you look closer at the culture, and see the contempt for compassion, the destructive “make the world a worse place” attitude, their joy in making people they don’t like suffer for their entertainment, and their unrestrained desire to serve their animal pleasure of domination of others, you begin to realize that these people suffer from a sort of sadistic nihilism. Hurting people is the whole point. Wrecking the world is what they want. And they seem to not care the least about values or consequences.

Herschel Walker, in fact, may be even closer than Trump to being the embodiment of the republican base.

We have to realize that their behavior is not an accident or even very fringe; it is, in fact, a movement in and of itself.

In Which Conservatives Hold That Liberals Are Racists

Common right-wing claim: Liberals are racist.

Argument: liberals believe that black people cannot achieve anything on their own, and need special help and favors, whereas republicans respect the ability of black people to succeed on their own.

Flaw: This argument makes many extremely fallacious assumptions:

1. That racism and other impediments do not exist; that people of color share an even playing field with white people, and have an equal chance to succeed in any enterprise.

2. That liberals believe that racism has no impact; without this assumption, liberals would only be misguided, not racist.

3. That liberals believe that people of color cannot successfully compete in a fair and equitable environment, and so push artificial advantages on them that they do not need, eroding their self-confidence and self-reliance.

Ergo, since liberals believe people of color are inferior, liberals are racist.

That’s not some distortion I cooked up, that is the actual theory as explained to me by various conservatives. I will assume for this writing that any conservative making this argument atually believes it. Many likely do. But many know the argument is a crock and spread it because it serves and entertains them.

So let’s unravel the flaws:

1. The core of the argument, of course, hinges upon the assumption that racism simply isn’t a thing, that it has no significant impact. This is outrageously wrong; the evidence that racism exists, both personal and institutional, and has a substantial impact, is overwhelming, to say the least; it takes a fantastic level of willing blindness and denial to state otherwise.

2. The very idea that liberals do not believe that racism exists or has any impact is laughable.

3. Liberals do not fight to give people of color any advantages. All that liberals try to do is to remove obstacles created by racism and level the playing field. Not even close to the same thing. Liberals, for example, want to establish hiring guidelines, workplace rules, and other protocols that make the job market equitable and fair.

Of course, conservatives would not agree to many of these basic facts. They argue that racism has no impact in society, using fallacious examples like “we elected a black president” and “employers hire strictly on merit.” They use anecdotal evidence as if it were statistical; just last week, a conservative argued that of course the playing field is level, because “black millionaires and billionaires exist.” I hope that I do not have to explain to the reader where the flaw in this argument resides.

Furthermore, they expect liberals believe the exact same thing, or else are deluded.

And, since they believe (or claim to believe) that the playing field is level, they see any attempt to actually level the playing field as giving black people a decided advantage. Imagine a white person going into a room where they are told that they will get equitable snacks, and find that they are given 15 while a black person across the table has been given 5. An arbiter appears and says, “There has been a mistake, you got too many and the other person was given too few; we shall even things out.” The white person sees any attempt to give 5 of his snacks to the black person as unfair theft. The white person assumes that the unequal distribution is because they somehow deserve more, and that the lack for the black person is because they did something wrong. Human nature tells us that the reasoning is more venal: “I got the bigger share, for whatever reason, and I intend to keep it.”

When people are born with wealth stolen from others, many won’t and don’t question its validity; as the saying goes, “People born on third base believe that they just hit a triple.” They believe that the advantage is earned or otherwise natural and deserved. They also argue that since white people are often poor, this means that black people cannot be at a disadvantage. “I had to fight tooth and nail to get where I am, and have always had it really rough” is a common right-wing protest that they have it just as bad as black people do. It ignores the possibility that someone else had it worse, or that a much higher percentage of black people than white people have that problem.

Conservatives claim that 230 of years of slavery and 160 years of racial discrimination had no relevant economic impact in favor of white people or at the cost of black people; this idea is ludicrous on its face.

Conservatives deny the facts plainly established, such as that banks favor white people and disfavor black people when it comes to loans, that black people looking for jobs are denied even an interview 50% more often even when they have equal qualifications as white applicants, or that black people are treated differently by police.

So, is the truth that conservatives are racist? One could easily argue that anyone making such a preposterous argument about race as the one detailed above easily fits the bill. However, I will simply note the truism that “While not all republicans are racist, racists are usually republicans.”

Playing the Racist Card

When you hear right-wingers demand Ketanji Brown Jackson’s LCAT scores, do not respond to them by noting that she is an experienced judge at the Circuit level. They know that. That’s not their message.

You have to remember that republicans have laid down a heavy carpet of racist propaganda over the past many decades which makes the assertion that no black person ever achieved anything except through affirmative action. You have probably seen a number of TV shows and movies where someone says to a perfectly qualified white male, “We can’t hire anyone but a minority woman.”

While no white person, according to conservatives, ever has to question if their accomplishments were buoyed by racism—they are outlawing even the expression of that very idea as we speak—every black person must assume that any advantage or higher position they attained was not earned, but instead tainted, given to them in acts of reverse racism: “They only got there by being black.” If you want an example, look no farther than Obama.

And yes, of course it is hypocritical. While Mississippi Senator Roger Wicker is claiming that Jackson is just a “quota” nominee because Biden said he’d only put a black woman on the court, he made no such objections when Trump said he’d put a woman on the court.

 When the wingnuts like Tucker Carlson demand to see The Honorable Judge Ketanji Brown Jackson’s LCAT scores, they do not actually want to see the scores—they know they would be outstanding. What they are doing in demanding them is reminding their base that simply because she is black, she is by definition not qualified. They are communicating by dog whistle the idea that Jackson’s rise to the D.C. Circuit Court was only achieved by liberals hiring an unqualified black woman because reverse racism demanded it, and the proof is that Jackson is not revealing her LCAT scores.

The actual reason Jackson probably won’t reveal those scores is because the very request is condescending, demeaning, and insulting, not to mention outright racist; despite having less experience and qualifications, Amy Coney Barrett was never asked to do so. It would be like demanding that a nuclear physicist take a remedial high school math test by people known the hate the person for personal reasons. Agreeing to do it would be to reward the most disgustingly dishonest of people, and to invite even more abusive demands in the future. If Jackson did provide her LCAT scores and showed them to be what we all know they are, pundits like Carlson would only pivot and move the goal posts, demanding to see all her emails or private notes or whatever came next. You give a rat a cookie, it’s going to want a glass of milk.

No matter how dishonestly disguised, the only reservations that have been forwarded about The Honorable Judge Ketanji Brown Jackson have been, at their heart, racist. Because that’s the only play republicans have against her.

Believe the Lie: A Look behind the Curtain

Mike Lindell, the “Pillow Guy,” has been saying for weeks that he has hard data to prove that China hacked the election, and would prove it at a “symposium” on the subject.

It should, therefore, come as no surprise at all that, after his complete fraud of a presentation, his own “cyber experts” admit that they have no proof whatsoever that the election was hacked.

I am shocked. Shocked, I tell you.

Lindell is not just your ordinary hack. He’s an extraordinarily stupid one. 

In the above video, the fraud is comically transparent. At 55 seconds, the reporter asks Lindell why he doesn’t just produce the evidence—or starts to, but Lindell overtalks, and loudly asks, “No! Wait, just forget about the evidence! If I’m right that China took our country, right now, do you care? Would that bother you?” The reporter persists that he would have to see the proof first, but Lindell pushes the “Would that bother you?” line.

This is an amateurish and ham-handed attempt to employ a classic Newt Gingrich technique: It doesn’t matter what’s true, what matters is what I can frighten you into believing.”

Gingrich, usually far more subtle himself, tipped his hand in an interview with a CNN reporter in 2016, when he claimed that crime was on the rise, blaming Obama for making things worse. The reporter responded with fact: the FBI itself, an unassailable source in this regard, has reported that crime rates are falling, not rising.

Gingrich responded that the facts don’t matter, it’s what people believe that matters.

“The average American, I will bet you this morning, does not think that crime is down, does not think that we are safer…. People feel more threatened. As a political candidate, I’ll go with what people feel.”

What he admitted to was that he knew that what he was saying was a lie; he told the lie to make people believe it, to feel more threatened; then he said that because people believed it, to him it was more important than the truth. In short, forget evidence or proof; as a politician, I will lie and make people afraid.

Lindell handled the same technique far less adroitly. Just after 2:30 in the video above, you will see the reporter say that if Lindell’s data is legit, he should make it available to any and all experts. Lindell used another staple BS claim:

“You know what? I’ll give you the answer. Because I’ve been told that they can go out there and corrupt it, and make fake stuff and put fake news out. … We’re showing it right on screen right now, so you can’t sit here and do a hit piece when it’s on screen right now.”

So, to summarize: I have data that proves the election was hacked, I will show a few screens of meaningless data which proves nothing to create the impression that I have something, but I will not let anyone analyze or inspect the data because Fake News.”

It’s a flimsy facade that even street hucksters would look at and cringe.

But the real giveaway comes at about 3:30 in the video, when one of Lindell’s speakers summarizes the con concisely:

“[B]ut the CNN’s of the world, you guys need to start reporting this, and stop fact-checking it.”

Convicted felon Steve Bannon, from a luxury box on the mezzanine, applauds.

You got that? “Don’t fact check; just report our bullshit without evidence.”

That’s the fraud, in a nutshell.

The Four Blind Men and the Elephant: A Parable of Context

One day, four blind men were walking together, and the man at the front collided with an elephant. Reaching out, he found the elephant’s leg. “Watch out, fellows!” he said, “I just ran into a tree! I can feel its trunk.”

Immediately upon hearing this, the other three blind men accepted the fact that they were now standing in front of a tree. They did not have to feel its shade or hear its leaves in the wind; their friend had given them this information, and that was enough. They now all accepted the context that there was a tree.

In order to avoid colliding with their friend and the tree, they fanned out. The second blind man, arriving at the rear of the elephant, found its tail, and announced, “I just found a rope hanging from a branch of the tree.” He had not actually felt or otherwise sensed any tree or branch, but it followed logically from the statement of the first man. After all, the rope had to be hanging from something.

The others not only accepted his report of a rope, but now understood that not just one, but two of their group had indeed confirmed the context that they were all standing at a tree. They had no reason to challenge it; their trust in their fellows was enough to shape their perception of reality.

Just then, the third blind man came around to the front of the elephant, and found its thick, flexible trunk. Upon feeling it, he reeled away, and shouted, “Aaahhh!! Fellows, watch out! There is a snake hanging from a branch on this side of the tree!” 

The context of the tree was now triply confirmed, which not only solidified their already strong belief in something that was incorrect, but that confirmation only served to strengthen everyone’s evaluation of the third blind man as an objective observer. They all decided to stay away from the snake, which clearly existed.

The fourth blind man, meanwhile, had encountered another part of the elephant, and was very confused. Sheepishly, he said to the others, “Fellows, I don’t know why this would be in a tree with a rope and a snake, but this feels exactly like an elephant’s penis.”

All the others laughed uproariously. “That’s so foolish!” the first man chortled. “A tree with an elephant’s penis? Absurd!” said the second. “How do you even know what an elephant’s penis feels like!” choked out the third with hilarity.

The fourth blind man, now thoroughly chastised, admitted the ridiculous nature of his observation, conceded that he had certainly made a foolish mistake, and even changed his story, saying now that his claim had just been a joke. All four were now in agreement, and sat under the “tree.”

None of them could now accept the possibility that they were in fact under an elephant; they were too heavily invested in the existence of the tree. To challenge that would mean that they would have to call each other liars or idiots, and discard what was now a thoroughly confirmed experience that all had shared. If anyone had come up just then and told them they were collected under an elephant, they would have dismissed such an interloper as a fraud, trying to trick them with lies.

Meanwhile, the elephant, having had enough of these men tugging and fondling it from underfoot, trampled them to death, and stalked off.

The moral of the story: a context reinforced by those you trust can be the most deceptive of untruths; always be receptive to new evidence and willing to re-interpret your views on any matter. Indeed, your life may depend on it.

Always ask yourself: what might be your tree?

Trump’s “Fake News” Claims are a Genuine Threat to Our Democracy

Trump’s Neo-Nazi “Fake News” tactic is modeled on the “lugenpresse” claims of WWII Germany. The Nazis adopted the term to promote their propaganda against the Jewish, communist, and later the foreign press. Any other free press that was not the voice of the Nazi Party was denounced as “false” and “biased.”

With this in mind, let’s tell our Alt-Right “so-called President” that he does not have the power to dictate what the free press can or cannot publish; let’s embrace the role of an independent press as an integral and essential part of a functioning democracy.

If the President wants better opinions of himself expressed in the media, he needs to start making policies that actually benefit us as a nation, and not just his wealthy campaign donors. Here are a few pointers:

  1. Start embracing the media, instead of shouting them down. The press can be a very powerful political ally when they are given the respect they deserve (and when you are not constantly criticizing them for offering new objectivity or a different perspective).
  1. Start building bridges, not walls. Walls indicate general paranoia and a sense of cultural superiority. As a nation of immigrants, the building of a wall is the height of hypocrisy, and is considered completely impractical by many experts. Moreover, targeting/restricting travel between seven specific nations (ALL of which are primarily Muslim, coincidentally!) will only serve to create more enemies in a region where we need more allies. Anyone can build a wall, but building friendships requires taking a much broader world view and applying patience and diplomatic skills, skills that our current president is sorely lacking.
  1. Learn the difference between facts and alternative facts. (A real challenge for our current Liar-in Chief, I know…). It seems everyone in the world has caught on except for the man in the Oval Office. His lies have become increasingly frequent and apparent, thanks, mostly, to the courage of our free press to research and investigate.
  1. Start saving Education, Social Security, Affordable Health Care, and Consumer/Environmental Protections, rather than decimating them. When taxpayers put their hard-earned money into these government programs, they expect you to improve/expand them by appointing the best and brightest to manage these agencies. Trump’s obvious cronies have failed almost every test of intellectual competence and genuine engagement. His choice of Cabinet members and agency leaders indicates his lack of respect for those agencies and the “common folk” that they are designed to serve.

These four points are the “Core Values” of our democracy, which is currently struggling to maintain its integrity (in spite of a self-serving president who takes daily steps to dismantle it). Let’s make sure that these attempts to butcher our democracy fail as an increasing number of us watch, learn, and see what is actually taking place in this country.


Playing the Ref: Power Version

Trump accused the media of intentionally not reporting terror attacks:

It’s gotten to a point where it’s not even being reported. And in many cases the very, very dishonest press doesn’t want to report it. They have their reasons, and you understand that.

When the press very rightly scoffed at the idea, the Trump administration released a list of terror attacks it said were “not sufficiently covered.”

Included on the list: the terror attacks in San Bernadino, Orlando, and Paris. All attacks which received boundless coverage here and all over the world.

Not included on the list: Dylan Roof, clearly a terrorist. But he was a white supremacist, and we don’t want to hurt Steve Bannon’s feelings, do we? Essentially, all instances of right-wing terrorism were not on Trump’s list. Similarly, Robert Dear, the terrorist who shot up a Planned Parenthood clinic was not included. In effect, Trump is under-reporting terrorism in the very document he accuses media of doing so.

True, the list covers other attacks not covered as much, but, as it turns out, for good reason: in some cases, no one was hurt; in others, the link to “terrorism” was incidental, like some nut case wounding someone and saying he was “inspired” by ISIS and nothing more. Some incidents on Trump’s list were not even terror attacks at all, but just gruesome murders.

But does Trump have a point? Should there be days of huge headlines every time a police officer is stabbed by someone in Perth who says he watched ISIS videos on YouTube?

The question kind of answers itself, doesn’t it? Of course they shouldn’t—but Trump would love it if they did. Why? Because Trump feeds on free-floating terror, anger, hatred, and doubt caused not only by terrorism, but by all manner of reporting in the right-wing media.

Trump grabbed on to this fear from the start, talking about Mexican rapists and murderers coming up here, stealing our jobs and causing mayhem. He got instant attention, normally the kind that kills a candidacy—but so many millions of right-wingers had been so conditioned to believe and fear that exact message—a message they had been told was being suppressed by godawful PC moguls in the Liberal Media—that they welcomed such a frank expression of the fears they had for so long been harboring.

That’s Trump’s rocket fuel: make people afraid, make them hate, then ride that all the way to the bank.

So, of course Trump wants to goad the media into sensationalizing every such violent act as terrorism with the same breathless panic headlines we saw on 9/11; it can only help him, and by saying they’re holding back, he gets to both add to the general sense of fear and accuse the media of a grand conspiracy. It’s the same kind of tactic the right wing has executed for decades now: playing the ref. Loudly accuse the media of favoring the left or doing other things they don’t like, knowing that the media, wanting to avoid appearing biased, will change their coverage to be more favorable for them.

It has worked in the past. Now? Trump’s a little bit too ham-handed; I have the feeling that the media will ignore his criticisms. But not completely.

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