Panic At The Disco

Speaking of Trump tirades and GRAIN-STORING PYRAMID, it’s time to check in with BuzzFeed writer Ivor Tossell’s “Five Stages Of Trump” tweet once again.

Hello, Stage Five!

Less than three months before the kickoff Iowa caucuses, there is growing anxiety bordering on panic among Republican elites about the dominance and durability of Donald Trump and Ben Carson and widespread bewilderment over how to defeat them.

Party leaders and donors fear that nominating either man would have negative ramifications for the GOP ticket up and down the ballot, virtually ensuring a Hillary Rodham Clinton presidency and increasing the odds that the Senate falls into Democratic hands.

The party establishment is paralyzed. Big money is still on the sidelines. No consensus alternative to the outsiders has emerged from the pack of governors and senators running, and there is disagreement about how to prosecute the case against them. Recent focus groups of Trump supporters in Iowa and New Hampshire commissioned by rival campaigns revealed no silver bullet.

In normal times, the way forward would be obvious. The wannabes would launch concerted campaigns, including television attack ads, against the ­front-runners. But even if the other candidates had a sense of what might work this year, it is unclear whether it would ultimately accrue to their benefit. Trump’s counterpunches have been withering, while Carson’s appeal to the base is spiritual, not merely political. If someone was able to do significant damage to them, there’s no telling to whom their supporters would turn, if anyone.

Dr. Heckle and Mr. Jive here haven’t just upended the apple cart, they’ve set it on fire and are throwing flaming apples at everyone they can find. They’ve taken the bread and circuses grift to the endpoint and everyone’s all stunned to see that in the era of reality show politics that the hooting masses love the guys that aren’t supposed to have any chance of winning.

Oh, and there’s this.

According to other Republicans, some in the party establishment are so desperate to change the dynamic that they are talking anew about drafting Romney — despite his insistence that he will not run again. Friends have mapped out a strategy for a late entry to pick up delegates and vie for the nomination in a convention fight, according to the Republicans who were briefed on the talks, though Romney has shown no indication of reviving his interest.

And the Republicans will look up and shout, “Save us!”

And Mitt Romney will look down and whisper “47 percent.”

Oh well, I guess those sidelined mega-donors will have to console themselves with all the local, state, and House races that they’ve bought over the last five years. I’m sure they’ll be okay even if they don’t win the White House.

The rest of us?  Well…not so much.

Afternoon Open Thread: Pay Attention To The Magistrate

Mittens on Hillary and Baltimore:

In an interview with Fox News on Monday, Romney said, “I was concerned that her comments really smacked of the politicization of the terrible tragedies that are going on there.”

We don’t have mass incarcerations in America. Individuals are brought before tribunals, and they have counsel, they’re given certain rights. Are we not going to lock people up who commit crimes, is that what she’s suggesting?”

Gods above and below, let this man be the 2016 pinata again.  Pleeeeeeease.

Open thread otherwise (And May the Fourth be with you!)

Can the Kochs Deliver the Mail Better than Florida Man?

kochrepAs I mentioned in comments on a thread yesterday, the Florida mailman who landed a gyrocopter at the US Capitol to draw attention to the corrupting influence of money in politics lives in the same media market I do and had informed a local paper of his plans prior to taking off. His stunt is therefore receiving more attention and in-depth coverage here than elsewhere.

The mailman is disappointed that the national corporate media outlets are focusing almost exclusively on the security vulnerabilities his flight revealed rather than the two-page campaign finance document he prepared for each congresscritter. The local outlets, having access to the mailman and greater interest due to the regional angle, are covering the campaign finance aspect. Not in sufficient depth, but at least they aren’t ignoring it altogether. The mailman won’t let them. Read more


Whatever you think about Matt Stoller, he’s all over the bullshit in Geithner’s bio:

So why did Geithner actually release this book? Perhaps he wants to make himself look good. It wouldn’t be the first time for a DC memoir. Or maybe the reason is more prosaic—maybe the book actually helps Tim Geithner make money. Geithner left Treasury and is now the President of Warburg Pincus, a powerful private equity group that buys and sells companies. Geithner has no understanding of this business, but he was hired anyway to run it, or at least appear like he runs it. Why? Sure, he’s a talented guy, but one obvious reason is because of his network of contacts in government and in the banking world. Elites like Geithner trade on their credibility, so he must have his fictionalized version of the crisis in print. If he doesn’t, then officials might eventually listen to the version put out by Elizabeth Warren, Neil Barofsky, and others and tune him out. While Geithner can’t block Elizabeth Warren from telling her story, at least he can throw sand in the umpire’s face.

Thanks to reader J for sending this in.

Open Thread: Moroni Bologna

moroni_visitationThis will never get anywhere, but I like the idea:

Legal experts gobsmacked after British judge orders Mormon leader to prove faith’s origins

A disgruntled former Mormon has convinced an English court to file two summonses to appear against Thomas S. Monson, the current president of the Mormon Church.

Tom Phillips based his complaint on the Fraud Act of 2006, a British law that outlaws making a profit off of false representations. According to Phillips, this is precisely what the Mormon Church does — it uses statements it knows to be factually untrue in order to secure tithes from members of the Church.

The facts in question, court records show, are tenets of the Mormon faith, including that Joseph Smith translated The Book of Mormon from ancient gold plates, that Native Americans are descendants of a family of Israelites, and that death didn’t exist on this planet until 6,000 years ago.

“These are not statements of mere ‘beliefs’ or opinions or theories,” Phillips wrote. “They are made as actual facts and their truthfulness can be objectively tested with evidence.”

Sometimes, companies that make absurd claims to shake down people for money are prosecuted for fraud. If their CEOs had any sense, they’d claim a talking hat gave them the product formula. Then they’d not only be off the hook for fraud, they wouldn’t have to pay taxes either.

Being broke is not being poor

Paul Krugman is reraising a common and key insight into poverty which is not well captured by federal poverty guidelines:

By security, I mean that you have enough resources and backup that the ordinary emergencies of life won’t plunge you into the abyss. This means having decent health insurance, reasonably stable employment, and enough financial assets that having to replace your car or your boiler isn’t a crisis.

There is a clear distinction between being broke and being poor from this insight.  Being broke means having no cash available, but having access to sufficient resources that the every day minor oh-shit moments are not a crisises as resources were available to manage the problem.  Being poor means the minor oh-shit moments can easily become a crisis because there are no resources available.

When I was in college, I was consistently broke.  I lived in a flophouse one summer with anywhere from seven to sixteen other people paying some share of the monthly rent.  The most I paid was $86.75 for August.   I sold myself to science as the pay and food was good, and I knew where there was free food offered by every department.  As a student I was broke and under federal poverty guidelines, I was poor.

However, I had resources.  I had good health insurance through my parents.  When I woke up and my knee was swollen to the size of a grapefruit while the patella had dislocated itself, I swore in pain but not in concern about how to get through the day without seeing a doctor.  I went to student health services after calculas, and then hopped a bus to see an orthopedic surgeon.  She  drained 38 CC of fluid.  I owed $20 in co-pays and had to buy a cane. I would have rather spent the $20 on beer, but oh well, I could walk well enough in three days.   When I was scrambling to come up with a security deposit for the first apartment that I would share with my girlfriend and now wife, I could go to my parents and ask that the security deposit and a good dinner with family be my graduation present. 

This is a crucial distinction between being poor where there are few good choices over the long run as people operate from scarcity thinking  and being broke.  I was able to access resources and behave almost a Friedmanesque lifetime income hypothesis individual.  (As a side note, this is why I discount the experiences of the 1% who claim they were poor in college — they might have been broke, but mommy and daddy could take care of anything)  This is a weakness of the poverty guidelines as they are income based and not resources based.  Some people may have rather low incomes but have the ability to call on resources in an oh-shit scenario, and others may have slightly above poverty level incomes but have no resources that turns an oh-shit scenario into a crisis. 

Health insurance is one of the most important resource that is an on-call and hopefully not needed resource, so two individuals with the same income but where one has decent health insurnace and the other does not have two very different abilities to absorb bad news from a doctor.

This means the fast food strikes were a success

First, a little background on worker centers:

Juan Campis was sweating in the 90-plus degree heat as he whipped a white towel across a gleaming black Chevy TrailBlazer at a carwash here—one of six in the city that was unionized in recent months with help from two nonprofit community groups.
“They’re the ones that kept us all together and showed us the steps we needed to take,” Mr. Campis, 20 years old, said of the community groups. Workers probably wouldn’t have joined the union without daily contact from the two groups, he said.
The community groups, called worker centers, are often backed by unions. But they aren’t considered “labor organizations” by law because they don’t have continuing bargaining relationships with employers. That gives them more freedom in their use of picketing and other tactics than unions, which are constrained by national labor laws.
The new approach is sparking a backlash from some businesses, who call it an end-run around labor laws that can be used to help unionize new groups of workers.
“It’s a more potent strategy than unions have used in the past,” said J. Justin Wilson, managing director of the Center for Union Facts. Worker centers are “winning hearts and minds with positive things like language classes, while worker centers create strife and conflict within a company.”
Workers who are first organized by worker centers can be later organized by unions. That is what happened with nearly 200 carwash workers in Los Angeles and New York, organized by the Retail, Wholesale and Department Store Union and the United Steelworkers. The steelworkers union also is trying organize several hundred pizza factory workers in Wisconsin who joined a worker center.
Some worker centers target immigrants, organizing taxi drivers, day laborers and domestic workers who can’t join unions because they are independent contractors.

Business and labor are going to war over the nonprofit worker centers that union officials increasingly see as the future of their movement. The organizing groups are thriving amid the decline in traditional unions, and campaigns, like Fast Food Forward, have made a splash by staging walkouts of fast-food workers who are demanding $15 per hour in wages and the right to unionize.
“They have morphed into groups that harass employers, shame companies and hurt business across the country,” said Ryan Williams, an adviser to Worker Center Watch. “They are essentially getting away with skirting labor laws.”
Williams, a former spokesman for Mitt Romney’s 2012 presidential campaign and a consultant at FP1 Strategies, said Worker Center Watch is gearing up for a national campaign against the worker centers. It launched a website this week that will closely track the organizing activities.
House Republicans are beginning to scrutinize the worker centers as well.
The House Education and the Workforce Committee is scheduled to hold a hearing Thursday on the future of union organizing where the worker centers are expected to be a prominent focus.
Spencer said he is briefing Chamber members across the country on worker centers and talking to lawmakers about the groups.
Williams with Worker Center Watch said his group would be writing op-eds, running ads and mobilizing activists on the ground to provide “a counter-effort” to worker centers.
The group has support from businesses, but Williams refused to disclose its donors.
Amid the heightened scrutiny, the worker centers are vowing to get more aggressive with protests and strikes.
Murray with OUR Walmart said her group is planning action on Black Friday, the day after Thanksgiving. Last year, the group helped organized hundreds of Walmart workers who walked off the job on the biggest shopping day of the year.

I think the fast food strikes were enormously successful in finally getting a discussion on wages going. It’s just a completely different dialogue when we’re talking about actual companies and specific workers rather than holding yet another roundtable on the Earned Income Tax Credit and whether we prefer “transfer payments” to raising the minimum wage. To me it was like they said “Hey! Over here! We’re the people you’re all talking about! This is what WE want”

I’m always amazed at the absolutely ferocious response on the part of Republicans and their business backers to ANY public show of strength by real live workers. Last week conservatives were quoting the Bible on the majesty and dignity of work. This week they’re pulling out all the stops to smear people who work at a McDonalds in Milwaukee. Yes, that’s who pull the levers of powers in America. Minimum wage workers. I know I was terrified during their reign of terror for those 4 hours in select cities.

You have to love this carefully crafted victimization language, too:

harass employers, shame companies and hurt business

Harass, shame and hurt. When will minimum wage workers stop being so mean to conservative lobbyists and their clients?