Renters in America Are Running Out of Options

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=KgTxzCe490Q

The need for affordable housing continues to grow in urban centers. The traditional form of affordable housing for suburban and rural areas, mobile homes, have become overrun with speculation, pricing people out through a new type of landlord – private equity.

[Source]

Jan. 6 committee follows the money, builds fraud case against Trump and team in the ‘Big Rip-Off’

by Joan McCarter

Remember that famous scene from All the President’s Men, with Deep Throat in the shadows of a parking garage, telling Robert Redford’s Bob Woodward to “follow the money” in order to unlock the conspiracy? Well, the Jan. 6 committee is most definitely following the money, and in doing so potentially building a wire fraud case against Donald Trump and members of his White House staff and campaign, who raised $250 million for a defense fund that did not exist to “fight election fraud”—which also did not exist.

Rep. Zoe Lofgren (D-CA) led this portion of the hearing testimony Monday, which included video of Amanda Wick, a senior investigative counsel. She outlined how, for weeks following the election and up to Jan. 6, Trump and his allies raised that $250 million with dozens of email solicitations a day. They raised $100 million in the first week after the election alone, Wick said.

“The emails claimed the, quote, left-wing mob was undermining the election, implored supporters to ‘step up to protect the integrity of the election’ and encouraged them to ‘fight back,’ ” Wick said. “But as the select committee has demonstrated, the Trump campaign knew these claims of voter fraud were false. Yet they continued to barrage small-dollar donors with emails encouraging them to donate to something called the ‘Official Election Defense Fund.’”

[Read on]

If poverty is a moral issue, then the United States is bankrupt

The federal poverty line struggles to capture the economic hardship that half of Americans face.

 by Sonali Kolhatkar and Independent Media Institute

Newspaper headlines are warning of rising inflation and the possibility that voters will respond to it by punishing Democrats in the midterm elections this fall. But there are few, if any, headlines about the enormous numbers of Americans who are low-income and poor—a travesty in one of the world’s wealthiest nations.

The problem of poverty is marked by several factors, the first of which is a deeply flawed government indicator of who qualifies as poor. Measured by the federal poverty line, about 37 million Americans live below the poverty line—that’s about 11 percent of the population.

But this leaves out many millions more Americans who live one emergency expense away from poverty. The Poor People’s Campaign (PPC): A National Call for Moral Revival relies on economic calculations showing that 140 million Americans—which is more than 40 percent of the population—are poor or low-income.

The second factor is mainstream media coverage that routinely skews in favor of wealthy elites by downplaying the extent of poverty. For example, when President Joe Biden cited the PPC’s estimate in an address in June 2019, the Washington Post engaged in a lengthy fact-checking investigation, interviewing numerous analysts who nitpicked over the difference between “poor” and “low-income” people, saying, “The two terms sound alike, but they describe different economic conditions.”

A third obstacle is corporate greed and how wealthy elites are vacuuming up every dollar they can into their own pockets, taking advantage of an economic system they helped to build in order to benefit themselves. For example, the investment giant Morgan Stanley released a report recently complaining about how rising wages were eating into corporate profits.

But of course, any wage increases are dampened by inflation rates rising much faster. This is a decades-long trend, not a new phenomenon, as any honest economist would explain.

But now that inflation is rising faster than it was before, media pundits and news outlets suggest that the fault lies with Americans earning higher wages and spending too much money.

[Read on]

Is Trumpism This Generation’s Version of the Confederacy?

Today’s GOP, under Trumpism, is as real a threat to the survival of our republic as was the 1860’s Confederacy and reflects a worldview grounded in the white supremacy of the American south

By Thom Hartmann

Image by Pete Linforth from Pixabay

Donald Trump promoted a modern Civil War in America this week on his social media platform. Civil War?

Further confounding things, Republican candidates like Pennsylvania’s Kathy Barnette are openly running as ultra-MAGA candidates, having hijacked Trumpism without Trump himself. It’s causing the media and political elites to have a “Huh? What?” moment.

Trumpism without Trump?  Could it even be a thing?

Apparently so: candidates Trump has openly disavowed are claiming Trumpism as their standard, the flag they’ll carry into the election and into office if they win.

Trumpism, they proclaim, is a coherent political philosophy of its own that has replaced conservativism as the dominant system of political theory in the “new” Republican Party.

But is Trumpism really new?  

Consider its main principles:

  • *Assert white supremacy
  • *Fetishize rule by a wealthy elite
  • *Brand the movement with its own flag and slogans separate from the country’s
  • *Put the “rights” of business above those of workers
  • *Marginalize and destroy trust in the media
  • *Maintain a strict racial and gender hierarchy
  • *Arm the movement’s foot soldiers
  • *Regulate school curriculum to promote a racist worldview
  • *Embrace authoritarian preachers to claim the appearance of Christianity
  • *Make alliances with foreign authoritarians
  • *Rig elections and prevent minorities from voting
  • *Embrace a police state for all but the richest
  • *Accuse political opponents of demonic or perverse behavior
  • *Criminalize abortion
  • *Heavily criminalize minor behaviors like drug use
  • *Normalize violence as a political tool
  • *Oppose worker organizing efforts
  • *Claim the mantle of “the average man” fighting against the tyranny of the “deep state”
  • *Make it hard for all but the wealthy to get a college education
  • *Minimize government regulation of working conditions and products
  • *Establish a mythology of victimhood and fear of “replacement”

This is not Barry Goldwater’s, Ronald Reagan’s, or even George W. Bush’s Republican Party.

Sure, those guys were happy to suck up to the wealthy and pass legislation favored by big business, but they didn’t go so far as to separate themselves from the mainstream of American governance.

They didn’t accuse Democrats of drinking the blood of tortured children, openly proclaim their racism, or encourage violence. Before Trumpism, Republicans had for generations opposed nations that suppressed democracy and called out murderous dictators like Hitler, Putin, and Kim.

This is something new.

Or is it? Is it possible Trumpism is simply a very old American invention making its return to the US political stage?

In the early 1800s the invention of the Cotton Gin, which could with one very expensive machine do the work of 50 enslaved people, transformed the American South. It was a technological revolution that made possible the traitorous Confederacy.

For the previous thirty or so years, the slave-holding South had been a democracy, albeit one where only white men had a say in things. But even poor white men could vote, and the region identified as “America” with the American flag and American songs and textbooks.

Wealth disparities weren’t as severe as some northern regions, particularly New York City whose bankers and traders had been made rich by the cotton export trade. (When the South seceded in 1861 the Mayor of New York City argued that the city should secede along with them, but back in 1820 there wasn’t even a whisper of what would tear the nation apart in a mere forty years.)

The Cotton Gin, invented in 1794 by Eli Whitney and widely sold in the South in the 1810s and 1820s, changed all that. Only the wealthiest plantation owners could afford to buy a Gin, and it enabled them to out-compete the hundreds of thousands of small cotton farms that dotted the South.

Large plantations, after driving smaller local farmers out of business, bought up their land and hired their former owners to work the land as sharecroppers.

Wealth inequality exploded across the South as a new, powerful aristocracy rose up and seized control of Jefferson’s Democratic Party.  By the end of the 1830s, most of the land and nearly all the wealth and political power in the South was in the hands of a few thousand families.

But that wasn’t enough for the Lords of the New Plantations in the New South of the 1840s and 1850s. They wanted total control of the entire country and were chafing under the restrictions of the American brand and its two-party system of government.

As I wrote in detail in The Hidden History of American Oligarchy, by the late 1830s, with the rise of John C. Calhoun and the Nullification Crisis, the South was firmly in the economic, political, and social hands of a small number of morbidly rich plantation-based oligarchs. 

It was no longer a democracy or a republic: the South had turned into a neofeudal state, what today we’d call a fascist state.

History Professor Forrest A. Nabors notes in his book From Oligarchy to Republicanism: The Great Task of Reconstruction, by the 1860s:

“A new generation of rulers reshaped the south around their new ruling principle…

“The development of Southern oligarchy portended the rupture of the union, regardless of the ties that bound them together, because no ties, physical, legal, or otherwise, can overcome the difference between fundamentally opposed types of political regimes.”

Nabors cites a speech to Congress by Senator Timothy Howe of Wisconsin, who argued that the oligarchy in the South had become so strong that they weren’t just trying to be left alone; they wanted to seize control of the North and end democracy in America altogether:

“Such, then, I find to be the cause and the purpose of the rebellion. It was not to secure the independence of slaveholders, but to subject you to abject dependence upon slaveholders. It was not to build a new capitol for a new government, but to place a new government in possession of your Capitol.

“It was not to frame a new constitution for a new republic, but it was to impose a new constitution upon the Republic of the United States. It was not to secure toleration for slavery within the seceding Slates, but to compel the adoption of slavery by the nation.”

Congressman John Farnsworth, representing the Chicago area of Illinois, laid it out clearly on Wednesday, June 15th, 1864 in a speech on the floor of the House of Representatives:

“The slave-owner is cutting at the heart of the nation; yes, sir, he is cutting at the throats of your sons and brothers, of your neighbors and friends; he is with mad desperation seeking to destroy the beautiful fabric of this nation, and to quench in our blood the fires of republican liberty which have burned so long, a beacon of light to other nations, and the hope of the world. All this [he] is trying to do that he may erect a slave empire instead…”

By the time of the Civil War, the oligarchs of the South had rejected all pretense of belief in democracy, a republican form of government, or even the core idea of the peaceful transition of power in the United States of America.

Instead, they:

  • *Asserted white supremacy
  • *Seized total control of the political systems of the South
  • *Branded their movement with its own flag and slogans separate from the country’s
  • *Passed laws putting the “rights” of plantation owners above those of workers, including poor whites
  • *First marginalized and, by 1861, completely destroyed any opposition media (often lynching or imprisoning publishers and editors)
  • *Established a strict racial and gender hierarchy, both in society and in law
  • *Armed the Confederacy’s foot soldiers
  • *Carefully regulated school curriculum to promote a racist worldview
  • *Incorporated authoritarian preachers into the political Confederacy to claim Christianity
  • *Tried unsuccessfully to make alliance with French emperor Napoleon  
  • *Rigged elections to prevent all minorities from voting
  • *Embraced a police state for all but the richest plantation owners who could never be prosecuted
  • *Accused their political opponents in both the North and South of demonic or perverse behavior, particularly interracial or gay sex
  • *Enforced anti-abortion laws when white women became pregnant
  • *Heavily criminalized minor behaviors like loitering  
  • *Normalized violence as a political tool
  • *Crushed a generation of Southern worker organizing efforts
  • *Claimed the mantle of “the average man” fighting against the “tyranny” of the North
  • *Made it impossible for all but the wealthy to get a college education
  • *Ended what few government regulations existed for working conditions and products
  • *Established a mythology of victimhood and fear of “replacement” later known as “The Lost Cause”

In other words, Trumpism is simply the politics of the American Confederacy reinvented for the 21st century. And even now Trumpists — whether affiliated with Donald or not — are openly talking about starting a second civil war.

They’re lionizing killers for the cause like Kyle Rittenhouse.

They’re embracing foreign authoritarians like Putin and Orbán.

They’re building and funding their own media empires while destroying American’s faith in mainstream media.

And they’re successfully using the filibuster to block the passage of any legislation that may strengthen democratic principles in our republic.

Today’s Republican Party, under the control of Trumpism, is every bit as real a threat to the survival of our republic as was the Confederacy in the 1860s. 

It’s emerged from similar conditions and reflects a nearly identical worldview grounded in the fear of losing white supremacy. It’s based in the American South, as was the Confederacy.

The media needs to wake the hell up. The American government, the American people, and the Democratic Party must see the Trumpist Republican Party for the threat it is. 

The FBI and intelligence agencies need to bring the seditionists within it to ground. Democrats must loudly call out its naked embrace of racism and fascism and make clear where this will lead if unchecked. 

Every day that goes by without action brings us closer to the new Republican Party’s goal: tearing apart democracy in America and transforming this country into this generation’s version of the Confederacy, complete with its own Lost Cause mythology.

[Source]

Every Republican Voter is a Uvalde Massacre Accomplice With Bloodstained Hands


(Image by anna navrataroli)

“Where in God’s name is our backbone?” Joe Biden asks.

It should be in congress and the Justice division of government

But Republican legislators sell their souls and lie as part of their jobs, to keep their jobs. And now it is almost a uniform truth that, all Republicans have enabled gun sellers to flood the nation with automatic weapons. Even the anti-Trump Republicans, who the Republican party now reviles, are guilty. They have blood on their hands.

Take Texas fascist idiot Greg Abbot, who has bragged about the number of gun owners in Texas. He says that this shooting was , incomprehensible. INCOMPREHENSIBLE? What a lying, despicable f*cking blood-on-his-hands idiot. His name should be mentioned as a guilty party at every funeral for the 21 victims.

(Image by YouTube, Channel: FOX 13 Seattle)

Ted Cruz, one of the smartest idiots in congress, who, predictably offered his thoughts and prayers, suggested that people would take advantage of this and politicize this. Damn. I can’t even type these words without gritting my teeth in disgust. His very words are political. Even saying “thoughts and prayers,” has become a fraudulent shield for bloodstained hands politics.


(Image by Rob Kall)

Sadly, I’ve written those words before. Vote for Republicans and YOU have blood on your hands. YOU.

There are some Republicans with the most blame– elected legislators, the Supreme Court justices. Clarence Thomas, the senior justice, has perhaps the most blame. When he dies, and rots in hell and his gravestone needs routine urine removal maintenance, he should be remembered and reviled for his constant and predictable support for unrestricted gun sales, as well as his defecation on justice, the constitution and human rights.

Blame Fox News for fighting against reasonable gun regulations.

Blame the Billionaires with blood on their hands who fund the election of these enablers of mass murders of children

Blame the right wing think tanks who offer specious arguments and spokespeople attacking gun regulation.

Blame the small penis gun owners who put stickers on their pick-up trucks advocating for the Second Amendment.

And let’s be clear. These are mostly white Christian European males who keep enabling the murders of so many children, who support the media and messaging that unleashes deranged gunmen. These are the pathetic losers who embrace replacement theory.

Enough is enough.

If you are not feeling outrage now, you are a part of the problem. There is blood on. your hands. I realize that most of the readers of this article agree with me. But we need to confront the Republicans we know and make it clear to them that we know. They too have blood on their hands.

Even the Justice Department has blood on its hands. It should be much more aggressively going after child-killing enabling laws. And the goal should be to make the Supreme Court take a stand or show what lying, despicable shills the six Republican Justices for the murder enablers they are.

So you better believe I am pissed and disgusted. Heaven pity and Republicans who bring up this massacre to me. They don’t deserve any patience.


(Image by everytownresearch.org)

This issue of child massacre should be juxtaposed with the battle for abortion rights, highlighting the profound hypocrisy of the devil’s Christians who deludely use their religion to justify protection of fetuses while allowing living children to be killed. To take it further, voting for anti-abortion candidates is tantamount to voting for bloodstained hands anti-gun regulation legislators and governors. They are two sides of the same coin.

[Source]

Organizing to Reduce Workplace Dangers

Workers are standing up to intimidation with bold campaigns at companies like Starbucks, Amazon and Dollar General.

BY JESSICA E. MARTINEZMARCY GOLDSTEIN-GELB

Screen Shot 2022-05-17 at 9.46.52 AM.png

Creative Commons / Starbucks workers on strike

Jordan Romero, 28, was struck by a vehicle and died in a trench at a Boston construction site in February 2021. Romero was the father of two young children. They will grow up without him.

Robert Woods, 42, was murdered in 2018 during a robbery at the St. Louis Dollar General store where he worked, leaving behind a grieving daughter. Despite multiple violent incidents at its stores, Dollar General has not taken measures to adequately address security concerns.

Janine Denise Johnson Williams, 50, was one of nine workers who died this past December when a tornado struck Mayfield Consumer Products in Kentucky. She is survived by her husband, four children and 17 grandchildren. Five workers at the Mayfield plant say they asked to leave after severe weather alerts but were told to stay or risk being fired. 

These three preventable deaths are just a few of those that took place at workplaces recognized as this year’s Dirty Dozen unsafe employers by our organization, the National Council for Occupational Safety and Health. Each year we release this list to call attention to egregious actions by companies who put workers and communities at risk. 

You may ask: can employers really prevent a traffic accident, a shooting or a death from a tornado? The answer is yes, yes and yes.

Any competent contractor must safely manage traffic at a construction site. Retail stores have a responsibility to protect employees and customers with safe staffing, security systems and other measures. In an era of climate change, factories and warehouses must have emergency procedures in place for severe weather — and forcing workers to stay on the job can have terrible consequences. 

More than 4,700 U.S. workers died from workplace trauma in 2020, the latest year for which data is available. And as many as 95,000 U.S. workers die each year from long-term exposure to toxic hazards including silica and asbestos.

The coronavirus pandemic has brought new risks to many workplaces, leading to a huge loss of life. One insurance company reports a 40 percent increase in deaths of working age Americans, from ages 18 to 64, since the pandemic began. 

Indigenous, Black and Latinx people and Pacific Islanders are dying from COVID-19 at far greater rates than white people and Asian Americans. Disparities in access to health care and other resources can mean the difference between life and death. 

When workers organize, U.S. employers often respond with brute force, firing a few so the rest are afraid to speak up. The nation’s 11 million undocumented workers are especially vulnerable, due to fears that their immigration status will be used against them.

But in today’s labor market, where employers are dealing with a shortage of workers, the old tricks aren’t working. Workers are standing up to intimidation with bold campaigns at companies like Starbucks, Amazon and Dollar General. Stories from these workplaces and others can be found on workedup.us, a new National COSH platform for workers who are joining together to turn bad jobs into good jobs and good jobs into better ones.  

We might hope that unsafe employers would take steps on their own to reduce risks and eliminate hazards. But hope is not a plan. Organizing with coworkers is a much better bet. 

[Source]

Are Unions Making a Comeback?

The United States is seeing a revival in union membership.

In the last six months, the National Labor Relations Board has recorded a 60 percent increase in workers filing for petitions that allow for union elections to take place.

The circumstances that have prompted these unionization efforts have some similarities with the period that brought the largest gain in union membership in U.S. history, during the 1930s.

What can that era tell us about today, and are current efforts just a blip?

Guest: Noam Scheiber, a reporter covering workers and the workplace for The New York Times.

Want more from The Daily? For one big idea on the news each week from our team, subscribe to our newsletter

Background reading: 

For more information on today’s episode, visit nytimes.com/thedaily

[Listen]

Where Are All the “Pro-Worker” Republicans Now?

While employees at Amazon and Starbucks win historic unionization campaigns, the “populist” wing of the GOP has been noticeably silent.

By NICK VACHON 

Amazon workers are taking on the corporate elite. Republican officials are nowhere to be found. ELLIOT LEWIS 

Over the past few years, a small but highly-visible band of Republicans have publicly declared their intention to transform the GOP into a ​“worker’s party.” Sens. Marco Rubio (R‑Fla.), Josh Hawley (R‑MO), Ted Cruz (R‑Tex.) and Tom Cotton (R‑AR) have all embraced versions of this vision, part of a high-brow attempt to divorce the party from its sole adherence to pro-business conservatism.

On election night 2020, Hawley — who was elected to the Senate in 2018 after running a relatively conventional Republican campaign—declared that the GOP was ​“a working class party now. That’s the future.” Cruz and Cotton have since echoed Hawley’s populist rhetoric, the former blasting Democrats as ​“the party of the rich” while claiming for Republicans the mantle of ​“the party of the working class.” 

There has been some movement on the legislative side, too. Early last year, Cotton and Sen. Mitt Romney (R‑UT) introduced legislation to raise the federal minimum wage from $7.25 to $10 an hour. Hawley’s personal crusade against Big Tech — which attracted bipartisan support before he refused to certify the 2020 presidential election and supported the insurrectionist crowd outside the U.S. Capitol on Jan. 6 — is, on its face, anti-monopolistic.

But in reality, a few policy gestures aside, their rhetoric hasn’t lived up to the hype. In recent weeks, as American workers have won a string of significant victories — organizing Starbucks coffee shops across the country and unionizing an Amazon warehouse for the first time in the company’s history — this group of supposedly ​“pro-worker” Republicans have been handed a prime opportunity to speak out in support of these organizing efforts. Instead, they’ve been silent. 

This reticence is particularly notable from Rubio, who already supported one Amazon union drive. Last year, when workers and organizers in Bessemer, Alabama, tried unsuccessfully to form a union at a local facility, Rubio penned an op-ed in USA Today effectively endorsing the efforts, writing that Amazon’s corporate behavior was ​“uniquely malicious” — a notable stand for someone who once warned that unions threatened to ​“destroy industries their workers are in.” But when it comes to the successful campaign at the JFK8 Amazon warehouse in New York, Rubio has kept mum.

[Read on]

We Don’t Need Billionaires Like Elon Musk

BY PARIS MARX

Elon Musk’s bid to buy Twitter in the name of free speech is the latest example of his hubris. It’s not just that Elon Musk shouldn’t own Twitter — billionaires shouldn’t even exist.

https://images.jacobinmag.com/wp-content/uploads/2022/04/16115502/GettyImages-1239960840.jpg

On Thursday, ten days after revealing his 9.2 percent stake in Twitter to the public, Elon Musk delivered an ultimatum: either the board accept his offer to buy the company for $43 billion and take it private, or he’d “reconsider” his position as a shareholder. Such an acquisition could have huge implications for how we communicate online, and the entire affair presents troubling questions about the power Musk is able to exert over our society.

For all its problems, Twitter is central to cultural and political life in the United States and beyond, and Musk has long been one of its most prominent users. He wields it to preach to his adoring supporters, slam his critics, manipulate financial markets, and provide the media with fodder for endless clickbait. But his attempt to use his power to capture Twitter and reshape it for his own ends is serious cause for concern.

[Read on]

Poor People’s Campaign Marches on Wall Street Against ‘Lies of Neoliberalism’

“We are here to tell the stock exchange and Wall Street to stop trading our lives, that we want living wages and healthcare and clean air and voting rights.”

By BRETT WILKINS

Demanding a new political discourse in which the poor are no longer blamed for their poverty in the wealthiest nation in history, hundreds of impoverished and low-income activists on Monday rallied in New York City and marched on Wall Street to take their demands directly to the center of U.S. wealth.

The Moral March on Wall Street, led by the New York Poor People’s Campaign, began at the Museum of the American Indian before heading to the New York Stock Exchange and then Trinity Church Wall Street for a mass meeting where activists and faith leaders spoke.

“We are here to tell the stock exchange and Wall Street to stop trading our lives, that we want living wages and healthcare and clean air and voting rights,” Rev. Dr. Liz Theoharis, co-chair of the Poor People’s Campaign: A National Call for Moral Revival, said during the march. “And we want them now! And if we don’t get them, we’ll shut it down.”

Addressing the church meeting, Kelly Smith, a tri-chair of the New York Poor People’s Campaign, confided: “I worry for my son. I worry that he’ll be able to find a living wage. I worry that he lives in a world where his Black skin is valued less than my white skin.”

“And I could worry and worry and worry and wring my hands. Or, I could stand up. I could speak up. I could fight,” she added. “Well, we are going to stand up. We are going to speak out. And we are going to mobilize for June 18th in Washington, D.C.”

[Read on]

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