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Sunday, September 2, 2012

It Only Hurts When I Lofgren

On August 27th, former Republican congressional staff member Mike Lofgren wrote a truly brilliant piece for The American Conservative entitled "Revolt of the Rich."

Lofgren points up the hypocrisy on both sides of the aisle, and he does so with fairness and class. No groundless generalizations, no name-calling, no wide nets, no blame games. He just calmly explains how we got here.

Lofgren recalls an early-1990s incident back when the American corporations were really starting to get into shipping American jobs off to other countries. He writes about successful businessman Erik Prince.
"Erik Prince, who was born into a fortune, is related to the even bigger Amway fortune, and made yet another fortune as CEO of the mercenary-for-hire firm Blackwater, moved his company (renamed Xe) to the United Arab Emirates in 2011. What I mean by secession is a withdrawal into enclaves, an internal immigration, whereby the rich disconnect themselves from the civic life of the nation and from any concern about its well being except as a place to extract loot." (Mike Lofgren, The American Conservative, August 27, 2012)
Then there's billionaire Stephen  Schwarzman. You might have caught the news on this guy, he's the hedge fund exec who threw himself a five million dollar birthday party.
"While there is plenty to criticize the incumbent president for, notably his broadening and deepening of President George W. Bush’s extra-constitutional surveillance state, under President Obama the overall federal tax burden has not been raised, it has been lowered. Approximately half the deficit impact of the stimulus bill was the result of tax-cut provisions. The temporary payroll-tax cut and other miscellaneous tax-cut provisions make up the rest of the cuts we have seen in the last three and a half years. Yet for the president’s heresy of advocating that billionaires who receive the bulk of their income from capital gains should pay taxes at the same rate as the rest of us, Schwarzman said this about Obama: “It’s a war. It’s like when Hitler invaded Poland in 1939.”  For a hedge-fund billionaire to defend his extraordinary tax privileges vis-à-vis the rest of the citizenry in such a manner shows an extraordinary capacity to be out-of-touch. He lives in a world apart, psychologically as well as in the flesh." (Mike Lofgren, The American Conservative, August 27 2012)
But perhaps the most insightful passage of Lofgren's article was an anecdote about the CEO of Goldman Sachs and Citigroup. That's a fellow by the name of Robert Rubin.

The story goes that Mr. Rubin was attending an event -- unspecified but the implication was it was a political event. His chauffeured limo hit Manhattan traffic, and he arrived late. When he got to the event, he complained to "a city functionary with the power to look into it." The functionary asked where was the traffic jam? Even though Robert Rubin lived in Manhattan most of his life, he didn't know enough about the city to answer.
"Our plutocracy now lives like the British in colonial India: in the place and ruling it, but not of it. If one can afford private security, public safety is of no concern; if one owns a Gulfstream jet, crumbling bridges cause less apprehension—and viable public transportation doesn’t even show up on the radar screen. With private doctors on call and a chartered plane to get to the Mayo Clinic, why worry about Medicare?" (Mike Lofgren, The American Conservative, August 27, 2012)
President Obama officially released the American Jobs Act in September 2011. Part 3, Subtitle E is "Immediate Transportation Infrastructure Investments." Crumbling bridges, viable public transportation. These are things that, if fixed, would put millions of construction workers back on the job.
"This is the bill that Congress needs to pass," the president said. "No games. No politics. No delays." (Barack Obama, Huffington Post, Sept 12 2011)
Unlike some of the other, more gnarly issues with a lot of moral gray area -- such as abortion, I am aware that's a tough one -- on this issue there is no requirement for the "I don't believe it" conservatives to cede any moral ground or make any leaps of faith.

It's all right here.

The actual Obama jobs bill is right here.

The President's plea to set aside partisan politics is right here.

The Republican mass vote opposing 17 jobs bills is right here. There is video of the speaker saying that their only goal is to get Obama out. RIGHT HERE. 

My conservative friends can't seem to see that they're holding the rope that the hangmen are tying round our necks, while at the same time blaming gravity for the inevitable end result.