Class war

I was in IKEA last night with a friend, looking for these things I don’t know the name of, but I know they have them. They’re these cheap white plastic things you put on the floor, run your computer cables through them and snap them shut, so you don’t walk on them or roll your office chair over them. Since I ruin my cords on a regular basis, this would be a good idea.

But we couldn’t find them, and neither could the employees. I guess I’ll have to look in Staples or something.

Anyway, the place was crawling with Penn students selecting things for their dorm rooms/apartments. I said to my friend, “Imagine having so much money that you can pick what you want from IKEA, instead of what you can afford.”

My friend snickered and said, “Imagine being able to afford new stuff, instead of what people give you.”

Sleep now in the fire

When I read last week that Paul Ryan says Rage Against The Machine is one of his favorite bands, I thought two things: 1) Tom Morello probably threw up in his mouth a little when he read that and 2) he probably COMPLETELY misconstrues the lyrics. The only Machine that young Paul rages against is the fact that some Democrats still insist on helping some people who aren’t rich.

So it sounds like I was right about Tom Morello, who writes in Rolling Stone:

Paul Ryan’s love of Rage Against the Machine is amusing, because he is the embodiment of the machine that our music has been raging against for two decades. Charles Manson loved the Beatles but didn’t understand them. Governor Chris Christie loves Bruce Springsteen but doesn’t understand him. And Paul Ryan is clueless about his favorite band, Rage Against the Machine.

Ryan claims that he likes Rage’s sound, but not the lyrics. Well, I don’t care for Paul Ryan’s sound or his lyrics. He can like whatever bands he wants, but his guiding vision of shifting revenue more radically to the one percent is antithetical to the message of Rage.

I wonder what Ryan’s favorite Rage song is? Is it the one where we condemn the genocide of Native Americans? The one lambasting American imperialism? Our cover of “F*ck the Police”? Or is it the one where we call on the people to seize the means of production? So many excellent choices to jam out to at Young Republican meetings!

Don’t mistake me, I clearly see that Ryan has a whole lotta “rage” in him: A rage against women, a rage against immigrants, a rage against workers, a rage against gays, a rage against the poor, a rage against the environment. Basically the only thing he’s not raging against is the privileged elite he’s groveling in front of for campaign contributions.You see, the super rich must rationalize having more than they could ever spend while millions of children in the U.S. go to bed hungry every night. So, when they look themselves in the mirror, they convince themselves that “Those people are undeserving. They’re . . . lesser.” Some of these guys on the extreme right are more cynical than Paul Ryan, but he seems to really believe in this stuff. This unbridled rage against those who have the least is a cornerstone of the Romney-Ryan ticket.

I suspect that Ryan just likes the songs as workout music. Got to get that six-pack, right? I can’t see him exactly grooving to these lyrics.

Let’s see the Trans Pacific Partnership text

It’s shit like this that makes the Green Party look better all the time:

On September 6, negotiators will go to Leesburg, Virginia, for the latest round of secretive talks on the “Trans-Pacific Partnership” agreement. This proposed agreement threatens access to essential medicines in developing countriesthreatens environmental regulations, and threatens internet freedom. Even Members of Congress and their staff have been blocked from seeing the draft text, while corporate representatives have been allowed to see it.

Americans – and citizens of the other countries that would be covered by the agreement – have a right to see what our governments are proposing to do. Parts of the draft negotiating text have been leaked. But don’t we have a right to see the whole text before the agreement is signed? After the agreement is signed, if there’s anything in it we don’t like, we’ll be told that it’s too late to change it.

Just Foreign Policy is issuing a reward if WikiLeaks publishes the TPP negotiating text. Instead of getting one rich person to put up the money, we’re “crowdsourcing” the reward. We figure, if many people pledge a little bit, that will not only potentially raise a helpful sum of money for WikiLeaks, it will show that the opposition to this secretive agreement is widespread.

If WikiLeaks publishes the TPP negotiating text, it will show that WikiLeaks is still relevant to citizen demands for government transparency, that publishing U.S. diplomatic cables wasn’t the end of WikiLeaks’ contribution to public knowledge of government misdeeds. And it will show that the WikiLeaks campaign for government transparency isn’t just about issues related to war, but extends to every area where secretive government action threatens the public interest.

This week, Ecuador granted political asylum to WikiLeaks founder Julian Assange from the threat of political persecution by the United States – as thousands of Americans had urged Ecuador to do. But the UK authorities have refused to grant Assange safe passage to Ecuador, and he remains trapped in Ecuador’s embassy. Meanwhile, the corporate financial blockade of WikiLeaks has starved WikiLeaks of resources, while the legal fight to protect Assange from the threat of extradition to the United States has drained resources.

Protecting Julian Assange’s civil liberties is crucial, because it’s a test case for all future whistleblowers. But it’s also crucial to protect and sustain WikiLeaks, for exactly the same reason: the U.S. government and its allies are trying to set a precedent of successful intimidation, to deter future whistleblowers. We cannot allow this precedent to stand.

By making a pledge to our reward for WikiLeaks if it publishes the TPP negotiating text, you can vote twice with one ballot: once to support WikiLeaks, and once against a secret attack on access to essential medicines, the environment, and internet freedom.

What a coinky dink

I suppose our only shot at a fair election in Pennsylvania now is for the feds to stop this:

HARRISBURG – On the same day a judge cleared the way for the state’s new voter identification law to take effect, the Corbett administration abandoned plans to allow voters to apply online for absentee ballots for the November election and to register online to vote.

A spokesman for the Department of State said county elections officials told the agency that implementing the new online initiatives as well as voter ID requirements was too much to handle less than three months before the election.

But Stephanie Singer, the top elections official in Philadelphia, said she was unaware that there was an issue with setting up a system to allow voters to register and apply for absentee ballots online, and said shifting more activity online would actually make for less paperwork.

Poverty and policy

This is Jared Bernsteinon a New York Times magazine piece that will run this weekend. Haven’t had time to read the original yet, but Jared’s insights are always thoughtful and perceptive:

The loss of family-wage jobs to non-college educated men—and not just minority men—was a well-documented problem even when Wilson wrote his influential treatise on urban poverty—The Truly Disadvantaged—in the 1980s, and it was a core theme of the book.

Tough convincingly argues that our anti-poverty agenda lacks the more lasting—and often more expensive—interventions targeted at deep poverty’s youngest victims with the potential to reset their life trajectory and even their neurology, like Geoff-Canada-style wraparound early childhood education and parenting programs.  As he notes:

…the stimulus may not have made things much better, but it stopped them from getting much worse. Food stamps helped some families get enough to eat, teenagers got summer jobs, some tenants received help with their rent. A stimulus grant to the Chicago public schools helped pay for [a poor youth assistance] program…But it was, by definition, a temporary fix.


But in America, which isn’t Sweden, it’s particularly hard to imagine really attacking poverty, including its impact on kids, without doing a lot more to provide gainful, lasting, living wage employment for the parents—moms and dads—of poor children.  Absent a strategy to accomplish that goal, I fear that all the parental counseling in the world won’t get us nearly far enough.

I think about poverty a lot, and not just because of my own situation. Mine isn’t anywhere near as bad as someone in the inner city, but I do see the results of deep poverty all around me. I suppose nothing significant will be done on the national policy level until more crime spills out into the high-end suburbs, because until that happens, a large percentage of our voters just won’t care.

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