I’m promoting a book that says we need to give most white people the benefit of the doubt: Most of us aren’t in revolt against multiracial America, or the president who heralded its arrival before many were ready.
But sadly, some white people are just that crazy, and Sean Hannity and Tucker Carlson are their Pied Pipers, leading them off a cliff.
Tuesday night they hyped a 2007 Barack Obama speech to a group of black ministers at Hampton University in Virginia, and they engaged in the most rancid racial fear-mongering I’ve seen in a long time. Hannity hailed the speech as “a glimpse into the mind of the real Barack Obama,” and he tried out his own black preacher voice for special effect. Carlson insisted Obama was preaching racial division to his black audience and sputtered, “This is not a dog whistle, this is a dog siren!”
He would know.
Mainly, their complaint came down to: How dare a black president (or at the time, presidential candidate) talk to a black audience about black poverty and suffering! And the legacy of slavery, and the endurance of racism! Has he no shame?
If we’re going to talk about dog whistles and coded language than let’s talk about the fact that Carlson and his fellow racist ran this same video with the same hype five years ago – RERUN: Fox, Carlson, Drudge Attacked Obama’s Hampton Speech Five Years Ago. Let’s talk about Matt Drudge’s history of race baiting. Let’s talk about these same conservatives talking about a cadence change in then Senator Obama’s Hampton speech that supposedly he never uses. It is remarkable that it is Obama’s speech that they find offensive and not the dismal failure of a Republican administration to respond to an emergency. It is a scandal that these conservatives without the ethics of a pile cockroach dung find that speech more offensive than police gunning down New Orleans citizens in the street – 5 Ex-Officers Sentenced in Post-Katrina Shootings. America owes Carlson, Drudge, Hannity and Fox some gratitude for reminding everyone in the United States that conservatives have a difficult to impossible time distinguishing morality from immorality. The recent not very subtle racist dog whistle has not stopped with that reprehensible squad of Republican media icons, Paul Ryan Fears the 30 Percent
Mitt Romney, in his infamous secretly recorded remarks, divided the American electorate into the lazy-entitled-non-taxpaying 47 percent who support President Obama, and everybody else. Ryan Grim has a speech by Paul Ryan using a different (and, from the right-wing perspective, more hopeful) division of 70-30:
“Seventy percent of Americans want the American dream. They believe in the American idea. Only 30 percent want their welfare state,” Ryan said. “Before too long, we could become a society where the net majority of Americans are takers, not makers.”
Romney’s 47 percent mashed together the proportion of Americans not owing federal income taxes with the proportion of Obama voters. Where does Ryan’s 30 percent come from?
The figure seems to have been concocted by Arthur Brooks, president of the American Enterprise Institute. Brooks made the 70-30 case in The Battle, published two years ago, a book I reviewed. Like Romney’s 47 percent riff, the 70-30 argument is an attempt to apply to the Obama years an Ayn Rand–inspired analysis dividing society into virtuous makers and parasitic takers.
And this is from Jonathan Chait’s review of The Battle,
In his general approach, Brooks is a prototypical member of the modern Republican elite. His ideology is rooted centrally in the class war, a struggle between what he calls “the makers” and “the takers.” He inhabits an imaginary world in which the former are being hounded nearly to extinction by the latter. “At some point,” he sorrowfully predicts, “the rich (as defined by the 30 percent) will pay all the income taxes in America. For the 30 percent coalition, this is fair and just.”
Brooks’s portrait of a world in which the rich are ruthlessly exploited in the name of absolute equality is long on hysterical rhetoric and very short on data. What little data Brooks presents is almost invariably wrong. “In America,” he declares, “the top 5 percent of earners bring in 37 percent of the income but pay 60 percent of the taxes.” This is false. The top 5 percent of income earners pay 38.5 percent of all taxes. And a system where the richest 5 percent earn 37 percent of the income and pay 38.5 percent of the taxes is not, I would submit, a draconian left-wing imposition.
Where does Brooks get this wildly wrong figure? The number he cites describes the share of federal income taxes paid for by the richest 5 percent. But the American tax system is a mix of regressive and progressive taxes. State and local taxes, as well as federal payroll taxes, tend to levy higher rates on the poor and middle class than on the rich. The income tax, which is steeply progressive, helps to tilt the balance of the burden back in the other direction. When conservatives portray the tax code as unfair to the rich, they usually cite just the income-tax burden, calculating that their audience will fail to notice that “income taxes” do not mean taxes as a whole. Brooks uses the term “taxes” when he means “income taxes.” He has fallen for his own ruse.
Brooks further claims that the oppression of the rich is getting worse. “From 1986 to 2006,” he complains, “the proportion of taxes that the top 1 percent of income earners paid grew from 26 percent to 40 percent.” A footnote points to a table compiled by the Tax Policy Center. I do not doubt the accuracy of the figure. But why are the very rich paying a higher share of the tax burden?
If you consult two other lines in the same Tax Policy Center table, you can see that the conclusion is the opposite of the one that Brooks draws. From 1986 to 2006, the highest-earning 1 percent of taxpayers went from collecting 11 percent of national income to collecting 22 percent of national income. Meanwhile, their average tax rate dropped from 33 percent to 23 percent. So: their tax rate fell sharply, but their share of income rose even more sharply, and the net result is that they have paid a higher share of the tax burden. This is Brooks’s evidence that the system has gotten too redistributive!
Conservatives from this cultish obsession with the idea that we should all be grateful for the leveraged buyout specialist like Bain/Romney, the vastly over compensated bankers and hedge fund managers because they create the value that we’ll call the Gross Domestic Product – the total value of the goods and services produced by the nation. The worship of the financial elite is tunnel vision at best. At the Romney and too big to fail banks level, sure money makes money, but where does the source of that money emanate – from someone framing a house, from someone building a car, from someone baking a cake, from someone discovering a new vaccine, from someone producing something of value. Without those people – the conservatives who see themselves as the god-like saviors and dispensers of the nation’s wealth have nothing. There have been big banks and high finance crooks for centuries, and credit does play a big role in a successful modern economy. Though we did not always have people who exploit and loot the system – like Bain – and then claim they performed an essential service to the country. The proposition that there are anti-capitalist Democrats is as much a myth as unicorns. Conservatives believe that myth the way they believe the earth is only a few hundred years old, that the Trail of Tears was to bring Christianity to American Indians and that real rape cannot result in pregnancy. From the first line on capitalism at Wikipedia, “Capitalism is an economic system that is based on private ownership of the means of production and the creation of goods or services for profit.” Sounds good. There might be some elected Democrat out there in some small town that does not believe in that system and that it is a basically sound idea in general. Brooks like every other conservatives misses a basic fact about government and the Great Recession – all the bail-outs were started by Republicans – Federal Reserve Chairman Ben Bernake, Secretary of the Treasury Hank Paulson , President Bush and VP Cheney. Paul Ryan voted for TARP and the automaker bail-outs. Even before the recession Bush 43 tried to jump start the economy with his own stimulus. When the savings and loans went belly up in the 1980s Saint Ronnie did not just go all Marxist and bail them out, he seized control of them. In the world of conservatives like Brooks and the hucksters at AEI all Republican farts smell like sweet roses, all Democratic farts smell like Marx. In ConWorld all economic problems can be solved with federal income tax cuts for the well off and deregulation. Neither of those things has ever proven to be effective at boosting the economy. About those offshore investments…
In some ways, Mitt Romney is a walking, talking self-refutation of his own economic agenda. The Republican presidential candidate believes if Washington uses tax policy to put more money in the hands of the very wealthy, those “job creators” will pump those gains right back into the Americans economy, benefiting everyone else as the capital trickles down.
Romney, meanwhile, is extremely wealthy, has benefited greatly from tax breaks, and sent much of his money overseas. It would appear Romney’s wallet has debunked Romney’s economic agenda.
So Romney asked himself what to do with all the money he saves paying a ridiculously low 13% tax rate. He did not answer himself with hire more Americans, invest millions in American jobs or infrastructure, his answer was move money to offshore accounts. Yet we’re to believe that when Romney gives the wealthy and multinational corporations yet another tax cut, they will not give the same answers to themselves that Romney did. In ConWorld there are rivers of crocodile tears because the terrible Democrats are keeping them from making money. Just in this morning, Taxes and Regulations Are Hurting Economic Recovery? Bank Profits Rebound To 2006 Levels, But Bankers Still Complain About Regulations
In the last four quarters, the six largest Wall Street banks have made $63 billion, the most they’ve made since 2006. Despite having pushed the nation to the brink of economic collapse, and after receiving billions of taxpayer dollars, the banks are back to where they were when the housing bubble inflating.
However, according to Bloomberg News, a return to sky-high profits isn’t enough for the banking industry, which reacted to the numbers by whining about regulation and “a backlash against bankers“:
Those billions of dollars in profits aren’t enough, according to interviews with more than a dozen bank executives and analysts. The lowest leverage in a decade, return on equity at a third of 2006 levels, higher capital requirements, shares trading below book value, declining bonuses, job cuts, the European sovereign-debt crisis and a backlash against bankers have damped the joys of profit, they said.
These six banks — Citigroup, Bank of America, JP Morgan Chase, Wells Fargo, Goldman Sachs, and Morgan Stanley — “will have combined profits of $9.9 billion in the third quarter, $17.4 billion in the last three months of the year and $75.8 billion in 2013? according to estimates. “When the banks say, ‘We’re doing very well but not getting a return on our capital,’ it’s completely incomprehensible, and it’s angering to the average American,” said Michael Greenberger, a former regulator who now teaches at the University of Maryland’s law school.
That is not capitalism – it is a lot of things – exploitation, pigs at the trough, greed run amok, stealing from the economic output of the average American. We cannot and should not try to make everything absolutely equal and fair, that brings its own injustice, but clearly the pendulum of economic justice has swung way too far in favor of the insatiable pigs.
Tuesday morning, on a tip from American Bridge 21st Century, a liberal PAC that conducts opposition research on Republicans, I clipped and posted videos for Slate’s Double X blog demonstrating some of the paranoid flights of fancy and routine misogyny that have peppered Todd Akin’s speeches on the floor of the U.S. House of Representatives. Akin, who is challenging Democrat Claire McCaskill for her Missouri Senate seat, became infamous after he said that, based on no science whatsoever, pregnancies rarely happen in the case of “legitimate rape.” That remark was hardly out of character; he is indeed every inch the misogynist and denier of reality that his comment suggests.
The videos prove that Akin is wholly the product of the movement conservatism that controls the Republican Party. While he may be a bit freer of tongue than many Republicans, his basic premises don’t differ from theirs: Feminism is evil. Reality can be denied if it conflicts with ideology. Conservatives are the real victims of this shifting, politically correct America, not the various groups of people they oppress and demonize.
Despite a few conservative pundits speaking out against Akins’ initial remarks about rape, the base and the Republican big bucks machine has rallied to his side.