Can You Spare a Tax Break? Thomas Frank’s ‘Pity the Billionaire’ < PopMatters

Before 2009, the man in the bread line did not ordinarily weep for the man lounging on his yacht.

—Pity the Billionaire

The American left has been perplexed by the anger of the right, particularly after being sucker-punched by the culture wars of the ‘90s. Right around the time of Newt Gingrich’s Contract with America in 1994, traditional policy battles morphed into something less tangible. On this new battleground of outrage politics, led on the right by shouting venom-sprayers like Rush Limbaugh and “think tanks” who created facts to order, bewildered liberals were cut to pieces. They were like Robert de Niro’s Ace Rothstein in Casino in the scene where a man is picking a fight with him in a bar. While Ace tries to puzzle out where the aggression is coming from, Joe Pesci’s Nicky just attacks the guy. To wildly oversimplify things, in modern-day America, the left thinks and the right acts.

Convinced that the working and middle classes still identified them as the best group to look out for their interests, the left (well, Democrats) were like French soldiers confidently manning the Maginot Line in 1940, unaware that the Panzers had already bypassed their static defenses and were making for Paris. The right had figured out that identity politics were what mattered. Give a voter your policy proposal and they’ll think about it. But tell them that the other guy in the race (along with other, vaguely defined elites lurking in universities and hoity-toity coffeeshops) looks down on them and their “values”, and pretty soon they’ll be begging for the chance to vote for you.

This is the fundamental logical disconnect that Thomas Frank first tried to parse in 2004 with What’s the Matter with Kansas? In that seminal dispatch from a decade that stretched the limits of surreality in American political discourse (unmatched until, of course, the current decade), Frank tried to figure out why so many people from his home state voted time after time against their economic interests. All the evidence said that Republicans were going to fray the safety net, run roughshod over workers’ rights, and ensure that wages kept dropping. Nevertheless, residents of a once-progressive state backed the agents of their own pain.

via Can You Spare a Tax Break? Thomas Frank’s ‘Pity the Billionaire’ < PopMatters.

Aide Says Auto Bailout was Romney’s Idea

Romney adviser Eric Fehrnstrom said that President Obama’s decision to bailout Chrysler and General Motors was actually Romney’s idea, The Hill reports.Said Fehrnstrom: “His position on the bailout was exactly what President Obama followed. I know it infuriates them to hear that. The only economic success that President Obama has had is because he followed Mitt Romney’s advice.”The claim appears to be a shift from Mitt Romney’s November 2008 op-ed in the New York Times, headlined, “Let Detroit go bankrupt.”

via Aide Says Auto Bailout was Romney’s Idea.

This guy couldn’t tell the truth if you dosed him with truth serum. Therefore he’s the best standard-bearer for the morally-bankrupt Republican Party.

The American Version of Game of Thrones

Ford, Carter, Reagan, Bush I, Clinton, and Bush II Explain It All To Obama

The Koch Brothers Exposed | Julian Brookes | Politics News | Rolling Stone

If the Koch brothers didn’t exist, the left would have to invent them. They’re the plutocrats from central casting – oil-and-gas billionaires ready to buy any congressman, fund any lie, fight any law, bust any union, despoil any landscape, or shirk any (tax) burden to push their free-market religion and pump up their profits. 

 

But no need to invent – Charles and David Koch are the real deal. Over the past 30-some years, they’ve poured more than 100 million dollars into a sprawling network of foundations, think tanks, front groups, advocacy organizations, lobbyists and GOP lawmakers, all to the glory of their hard-core libertarian agenda. They don’t oppose big government so much as government – taxes, environmental protections, safety-net programs, public education: the whole bit. (By all accounts, the Kochs are true believers; they really buy that road-to-serfdom stuff about the the holiness of free markets. Still, you can’t help but notice how neatly their philosophy lines up with their business interests.) They like to think of elected politicians as merely “actors playing out a script,” and themselves as supplying “the themes and words for the scripts.” Imagine Karl Rove’s strategic cunning, crossed with Ron Paul’s screw-the-poor ideology, and hooked up to Warren Buffett’s checking account, and you’re halfway there.

 

For years, the brothers shunned the spotlight. David Koch used to joke that the family business, the Wichita, Kansas-based Koch Industries – with annual revenues* estimated at $100 billion, it’s the second-biggest private firm in America – was “the largest company you’ve never heard of.” But when Barack Obama became president, the Kochs, like a lot of right-wingers, flipped out. They threw their weight behind a stealth campaign to turn back the president’s “socialist” agenda: They were early backers, some say puppet masters, of the Tea Party movement, and when the tea-infused GOP retook the House in the famous midterm “shellacking” of 2010, it was with a big assist from Koch money. (They later blessed the brief, ill-fated presidential run of Tea Party-favorite Herman Cain. That’s how crazy – or cynical – these guys are.) Progressive activists and the news media started paying attention – most notably ThinkProgress and Jane Mayer of The New Yorker – and pretty soon the Kochs had become the poster boys of “the 1 percent” and a surefire fundraising tool for the Democratic Party; at the mere mention of the Koch name, liberal wallets fall open.

 

Now the Kochs are the subject of a blistering (but to all appearances factual) documentary by the activist filmmaker Robert Greenwald. Koch Brothers Exposed aims to show how the brothers’ machinations affect the lives of “living, breathing human beings,” as Greenwald put it to me at the film’s New York premiere in late March. “When I learned about the damage the Kochs were doing to our democracy, I wanted to make sure more Americans understood what they’re up to.”

via The Koch Brothers Exposed | Julian Brookes | Politics News | Rolling Stone.

Daily Kos: PRICELESS: Colbert Rips David Koch to His Face at TIME Magazine Gala

TIME recently held its gala celebrating the magazine’s self-proclaimed 100 most influential people. Among those chosen were David Koch and Steven Colbert, who spoke before the gathered masses.

Colbert ripped several of the magazine’s selections using his signature (read: brilliant) sharp-tongued irony. However, some of his most pointed comments were reserved for David Koch, who was seated before Colbert as he spoke.

Here’s what he had to say:

Of course, all of us should be honored to be listed on the TIME 100 alongside the two men who will be slugging it out in the fall:  President Obama, and the man who would defeat him, David Koch.

Give it up everybody.  David Koch.

Little known fact — David, nice to see you again, sir.

Little known fact, David’s brother Charles Koch is actually even more influential.  Charles pledged $40 million to defeat President Obama, David only $20 million.  That’s kind of cheap, Dave.

Sure, he’s all for buying the elections, but when the bill for democracy comes up, Dave’s always in the men’s room.  I’m sorry, I must have left Wisconsin in my other coat.

I was particularly excited to meet David Koch earlier tonight because I have a Super PAC, Colbert Super PAC, and I am — thank you, thank you — and I am happy to announce Mr. Koch has pledged $5 million to my Super PAC.  And the great thing is, thanks to federal election law, there’s no way for you to ever know whether that’s a joke.

By the way, if David Koch likes his waiter tonight, he will be your next congressman.

He’s all for buying the elections. Once again, we must rely upon our political comedic class to speak straightforwardly about the state of our democracy-up-for-sale crisis (which has, obviously, only worsened since Citizens United and the SuperPAC explosion).

via Daily Kos: PRICELESS: Colbert Rips David Koch to His Face at TIME Magazine Gala.

The 2012 Election Is Bush-Kerry in Reverse — Daily Intel

The parallels between this year’s presidential election and the one we had eight years ago are striking. Incumbent president with middling approval ratings faces rich guy from Massachusetts with a reputation for flip-flopping. Hilarity ensues. By “hilarity” I mean, specifically, that people get extremely worked up about a series of procedural controversies, and then the two parties trade places on them the next time around.

It is actually kind of eerie how closely the two elections have tracked each other. How many issues like this have the parties switched places over? Let us count them:

Air Force One. At the moment, Republicans are raging at President Obama for having made a series of official speeches, at government expense, that also dovetail with his campaign themes. The Washington Free Beacon finds this so outrageous it actually quotes Solzhenitsyn — at length! — to denounce the “lies.” And certainly Obama has been engaging in some pretense here. Conservatives were distinctly less outraged in 2004, when USA Today reported that Bush was “using Air Force One for re-election travel more heavily than any predecessor.”

via The 2012 Election Is Bush-Kerry in Reverse — Daily Intel.