It’s Cheap To Be Rich

Nate Silver’s new FiveThirtyEight blog posted a piece by Ben Casselman this morning with the title,

Inflation May Hit the Poor Hardest

Yeah, well, Mr. Casselman, everything hits the poor hardest. A bad economy. A good economy. Everything. You know why? Because they’re bleeping poor, that’s why. But to be fair to the author, he was making a point about the fact that not everyone experiences the same rate of inflation. He begins his piece with this:

It’s getting more expensive to be poor.

He says that “families earning less than $20,000,” because they spend a disproportionate amount of their money on things like rent and utilities,

are experiencing a higher rate of inflation than the public at large even as their wages have stagnated…

The poor experience a double whammy: stagnating wages and a higher rate of inflation that eats away a disproportionate share of their purchasing power. And it is even worse than that. Just watch last night’s 60 Minutes segment on the working poor in Virginia’s part of Appalachia. Those folks are not only victims of a faltering local economy, but they are victims of the Republican Party in Virginia, a party that refuses to allow those poor working people to get the health insurance they are entitled to under the Affordable Care Act’s Medicaid expansion provision.

So, you’re damned right it is expensive to be poor in America.

But it is damned cheap to be rich.

Sheldon Adelson, from whom God sometimes has to borrow money till payday, is looking to buy himself a Republican presidential candidate for the 2016 race. Last time he spent almost $100 million in a losing effort. But don’t feel sorry for him. He made almost that much in two special hours last week. In any case, he told Forbes that this time he will “spend whatever it takes” to win. And whatever it takes will still be cheap for him.Republican Billionaire Sheldon Adelson

Unfortunately there are plenty of Republicans who want to be bought by Sheldon Adelson, including presidential hopefuls like Jeb Bush, Scott Walker, John Kasich, and the groveling Chris Christie, who if Adelson buys him will be getting a bargain, somewhere around $250,000 a pound—and that’s if Adelson only gives another paltry $100 million. Very cheap for a commander-in-chief who could blow up your enemies.

The Supreme Court, staffed by five conservative Republicans who believe that rich people should have a megaphone that matches their money, have now made it easier for Adelson and other moneyed folks to buy up what is left of American democracy. And although there ain’t much left to buy, thanks to Citizens United, what is left won’t cost those wealthy folks all that much. Last year Sheldon Adelson made about $22,000 a minute. In eleven short minutes he made enough to buy a pound of Chris Christie or a half-pound of Jeb! No problem! Cheap, cheap, cheap.

In the mean time, it remains very expensive to be poor, especially in western Virginia where, because of Republicans, folks have to rely on the occasional visits of two saintly nurses driving a raggedy 13-year-old Winnebago-turned-”Health Wagon” in order to stay alive.

health wagon2

Let’s All Drink To Ozark Billy! He’s Made The Big Time!

What does a resident of Southwest Missouri and a Las Vegas gazillionaire have in common?

Billy Long.

Congressman Long, far from the Ozark hills he sort of calls home, will serve as master of ceremonies and will be introducing Dick Cheney at gazillionaire $heldon Adelson’s $uck-up-a-thon in Las Vegas this weekend. In what many are calling the “Adelson primary,” several GOP presidential hopefuls are prostrating themselves before Adelson, a major GOP donor, hoping against hope that they will get his very important vote and subsequently stuff their campaign pockets full of casino cash. (The overtly Jewish* Adelson reportedly “earns” $32 million each and every day from his gambling empire. Praise God).

billy long poker2Speaking of gambling, we all know Ozark Billy, the “citizen legislator” from Springfield, Mo., is fond of the poker tables in Las Vegas and elsewhere. And, of course, part of the Adelson suck-up-a-thon festivities are, uh, poker tournaments! Congratulations, Billy! You’ve died and gone to heaven!

In case any of you low-dollar locals want to celebrate with your congressman, well, don’t bother looking into it. As Time reported:

Most of the action will be taking place behind closed doors, as the speakers meet with Adelson and other top-tier donors privately.

As thousands of Southwest Missourians relax at home this coming weekend, many of them after putting in grueling hours at low-paying jobs and many of them enthusiastic Billy Long voters, may they rest peacefully knowing their family-values congressman is hard at work playing poker, drinking, and rubbing bellies with $heldon Adelson and Dick Cheney, much of the fun on donors’ dollars I’m guessing.

Life is good, if your name is Billy Long and if you have convinced a bunch of working stiffs from the Ozarks to vote Republican.

____________________________

adelson* The event is officially a leadership conference of the Republican Jewish Coalition, which describes itself as “the voice for Jewish Republicans” and “the most trusted and sought-out Jewish advisor to Republican leaders.” Sheldon Adelson is on the Board of Directors.

Here’s What Obama, The Winner, Should Say In Private

Although you wouldn’t know it by listening to them, Republicans did lose the election.

At least I think they did.

Mitch McConnell, the lead saboteur who failed to sabotage Obama’s chances of reelection, fired off a statement to one of the most virulent right-wing websites in the country, Breitbart, and said this:

One issue I’ve never been conflicted about is taxes. I wasn’t sent to Washington to raise anybody’s taxes to pay for more wasteful spending and this election doesn’t change my principles. This election was a disappointment, without doubt, but let’s be clear about something: the House is still run by Republicans, and Republicans still maintain a robust minority in the Senate. I know some people out there think Tuesday’s results mean Republicans in Washington are now going to roll over and agree to Democrat demands that we hike tax rates before the end of the year. I’m here to tell them there is no truth to that notion whatsoever.

Everyone knows that McConnell’s Kentucky senate seat is up next time, and since the only thing that matters to him is political power, the first thing he has to do to keep the little power he has is to make sure teapartiers don’t challenge him in a Republican primary. Thus, he has to grovel before them like the low-life reprobate he is.

In any case, the President is supposed to deliver a “fiscal cliff” speech today to address the confluence of budget dilemmas that face the country at the end of this year.

I obviously don’t know what he will say publicly, but here is what he should say privately to Mitch McConnell:

I won. Despite your best efforts to screw me and the country over, I won. And Democrats won. There are now more of us in the Senate. Sorry about that. I know you were counting on being Majority Leader. Ain’t gonna happen. Live with it. In fact, you may have a tough time getting elected next time against that Democratic fox Ashley Judd.

In any case, here’s the deal: Your party does still control the House. I’ll give you that. But that doesn’t entitle you to get your way. You see, I campaigned on raising taxes on those who are prospering. I told folks that’s what I wanted to do. And I’m gonna do it. And you can threaten me with that fiscal cliff bullshit all you want. I ain’t having it. If you want to go there, if you want to risk all those Pentagon cuts, hell, if you want to shut down the whole damned government, all in service to your rich friends and to those Tea Party creeps, so be it.

But I’ll tell you this: I will visit every bleeping town in Kentucky, from Bowling Green to Butcher Holler, from Louisville to Lick Creek, and tell them what you are doing. I’ll tell them that you are willing to wreck the country just to give Sheldon Adelson and the Koch brothers tax breaks. I’ll tell them you would rather see taxes go up on middle class folks in Kentucky than give one inch in your quest to let rich Republicans keep a few more dollars.

And I’ll tell them just how slimy you are, just what you have tried to do. 

You won’t get your way this time. I’ve got nothing to lose politically. Can’t you see that? Those tax rates on the rich, the ones that existed when Bill Clinton was president and the country was prosperous, they are going to go back up, Senator. And if you want to stand in the way of that necessary first step in getting our fiscal house in order, then I’m going to run right over you.

See ya when negotiations start.

“This Campaign To Make Democracy Extinct”

One luxury of being fabulously wealthy is that you can throw your weight around and distort reality. You can sometimes bend it to conform to your own agenda.

This morning I heard a disturbing report on NPR that detailed the efforts of Sheldon Adelson, who made his billions in the casino bidness, to throw his weight around by launching “a free newspaper in Israel in 2007” that “has close ties with Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu.”

The result of the American billionaire’s efforts is that other Hebrew newspapers, including ones not in the pockets of Adelson and Netanyahu, are struggling, since they cannot compete with a business willing to give its product away, charge advertisers much less than market rates, and thus operate at a considerable loss.

Adelson’s newspaper venture, called Israel Hayom, is obviously designed to quiet any opposition to right-wing thinking and, more important as a war with Iran looms in America’s future, right-wing actions.

Here’s how McClatchy reported on the issue:

The economic crisis that’s hit the newspaper industry in the United States and elsewhere is threatening some of Israel’s most influential publications and could soon leave the country with virtually no liberal-leaning printed newspapers…

Publishers say that competition with the Internet, as in the rest of the world, is one reason for their decline. But they say a far bigger influence has been the cost of competing with Israel Hayom, a free-distribution newspaper that American casino magnate Sheldon Adelson founded five years ago.

In Israel, the right-wing paper is known as “Bibi Press,” for its “often-fawning articles about Netanyahu.” The free paper is hurting all newspapers, not just left-leaning ones. The McClatchy article ends this way:

Popular Israeli columnist Ben Caspit wrote Friday in Maariv that outside forces were driving Israeli media outlets out of business.

“An enormous power, uncontrollable and unstoppable, arrives from outside and destroys the local forces one after another, like in a futuristic film. The local forces are us: Maariv, Haaretz, Channel 10, Globes, afterwards it’s Channel 2’s turn and in the end also Yediot Ahronot. No one of these has enough power to even tickle Sheldon Adelson,” he wrote.

“I think not so long from now we will all understand that we are in one boat. That they are taking over our country. That this is a war. . . . We need to unite and to explain to Bibi, so that he’ll understand, that he must not continue with this campaign to make democracy extinct.”

Noam Sheizaf of the web magazine +972, called attention to how Israel Hayom inserted itself into American politics. He published a story in July titled:

Romney uses Adelson’s free paper to criticize Obama

Sheizaf noted that during Romney’s visit to Israel this year, he violated the longstanding practice of not criticizing a sitting American administration while abroad. And he did so not in a left-leaning newspaper that interviewed him, but in Adelson’s rag.

For the record, the bloated billionaire is also throwing his bloatedness around here in other ways, notably:

Mr. Adelson has already contributed more money to defeat Mr. Obama than anyone: over $50 million has gone to the 2012 campaign, including $10 million to a “super PAC” backing Mr. Romney and $10 million to Crossroads GPS, which has run millions of dollars of advertisements against Mr. Obama.

Adelson has pledged to spend $100 million or more, and it remains to be seen whether he can buy enough votes for Mitt Romney to win and thereby represent the billionaire’s interests and help with his agenda. But we have seen enough already to make us realize that in an important way the election in November is about more than Obama and Romney.

It’s about whether rich folks can continue to openly get away with distorting reality.

It’s about whether the wealthy can bend the electorate’s will enough to keep advancing the exclusive interests of the moneyed class.

It is about whether Americans will continue to allow fat-cat bully-billionaires like Sheldon Adelson to push them around.

Of Chicken Shit And Billionaires

I want to begin with a story that appeared on the front page of the Joplin Globe this Friday morning:

Moark is a subsidiary of Land O’Lakes in Minnesota and is the second largest distributor of fresh shell eggs in the country (about 6 billion eggs sold each year). Naturally, when millions of chickens are concentrated in one area there is a problem with waste and smell, which tend to diminish the quality of life for those residents who happen to live nearby.

The point of the Globe story was really to chronicle the lack of interest on the part of those nearby residents to resist this latest expansion of Moark’s production, since citizen resistance to an earlier expansion in 2005 met with utter failure. The state sided with the corporation.

Dave Boyt, one of those who challenged Moark’s 2005 expansion said this time:

People get tired of beating their heads against a wall. We knew during the earlier expansion what we were up against. We knew that the chances of stopping the expansion or getting even some concessions were absolutely minuscule.

Another nearby resident said:

Ordinary people can’t afford to fight something that big. Money talks, and as a little guy, unless you’ve got the money to fight them, you really can’t do much.

Such resignation may be behind the tendency, when one discusses money in politics, to resort to a “both sides do it” stance and just hope the wind blows the smell of chicken shit the other way.

But, folks, what Republicans are doing this election cycle ought to scare the complacency out of you, if, that is, you give a damn about our democracy. Last night on MSNBC, Ezra Klein (subbing for Saint Rachel) presented this graphic:

What this comparison shows is that Karl Rove, W. Bush’s Turd Blossom, will spend this election cycle, through his Crossroads group, nearly as much as the entire McCain-Palin campaign did in 2008.

But that’s not the whole story, of course. As Politico reported:

POLITICO has learned that Koch-related organizations plan to spend about $400 million ahead of the 2012 elections – twice what they had been expected to commit.

Just the spending linked to the Koch network is more than the $370 million that John McCain raised for his entire presidential campaign four years ago.

So, from just two sources, Rove and Koch, Romney’s effort to become CEO of America will have funding amounting to about twice as much as the Republican Party’s presidential candidate had last time.

But that still doesn’t include the U.S. Chamber of Commerce and the super PAC supporting Mittens (Restore our Future), which when added to the Rove-Koch dough will exceed $1 billion. Can you smell the chicken doo-doo yet?

But we still haven’t got to what the Romney campaign and the Republican National Committee expects to raise—according to Politico about $800 million!

Add it all up and we are damn close to $2 billion that Republicans will have to slander and trash Obama and other Democrats. But we’re still not at the end:

Chicken caca, anyone? That Forbes article relates that the Las Vegas billionaire, Sheldon Adelson, who “has made more money during the Obama administration than just about any other American, based on Forbes tabulations,” will do “whatever it takes” to defeat the President. Adelson is quoted as saying:

What scares me is the continuation of the socialist-style economy we’ve been experiencing for almost four years. That scares me because the redistribution of wealth is the path to more socialism, and to more of the government controlling people’s lives…I believe that people will come to their senses and not extend the current Administration’s quest to socialize this country. It won’t be a socialist democracy because it won’t be a democracy.

It won’t be a democracy because people like Sheldon Adelson—worth a reported $25 billion—and the Koch brothers—combined net worth of $50 billion—and other wealthy Republicans will have cannibalized it, if voters don’t stop them.

And, again, if all this isn’t enough to get folks to electorally rebel against this hostile takeover of our politics—aided greatly by the conservatives on the U.S. Supreme Court—then the American experiment with democracy—with government of, by, and for the people—will soon be over.

The people will have surrendered to the oligarchs and America will become a much different place, one where the Adelsons and the Kochs will rule and the Moarks of the world can pollute the countryside with impunity.

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