The 99.5 Percent Act.

As I’ve mentioned previously, Roots Action is an activist group I happily allow to gain entrée into my inbox. Even on the rare occasions when I disagree, their messaging is always informative and concise, and their target selection is spot-on. (More on the group here.)

Today’s missive concerns a bill being introduced by Senator Bernie Sanders and Congressdude Jimmy Gomez called the 99.5% Act, and provides a link to send a letter to the Goldman Sachs puppets on Capitol Hill who pretend to represent your interests and those of your fellow citizens who reside in your congressional district and state. The letter urges these assholes to get on board with this bill.

Hahaha. Yes, I know.

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Questions for Secretary of State Nominee Antony Blinken.

Roots Action is an online activist groups that I happily allow to exist in my inbox: I find their messaging educational and their activism worthwhile. In case you are unfamiliar with them:

RootsAction is an online initiative dedicated to galvanizing people who are committed to economic fairness, equal rights for all, civil liberties, environmental protection — and defunding endless wars.

(More info at this link.)

Today they sent me an exemplary missive regarding Biden’s nominee for Secretary of State, Antony Blinken. Of course all such nominees are subject to Senate approval, so Roots Action has helpfully drafted questions for Senators to use when they query Mr. Blinken during the vetting process. These are questions that elected officials in any functioning democracy could, should and would demand be answered to the public’s satisfaction before handing over a set of keys to the kingdom. Which means these inquiries are highly unlikely to be asked, or even considered.

But that doesn’t mean that such email campaigns are not worth your click. For one thing, when a sizable enough number of constituents bombards your Senators’ offices with a single concern, some poor staffer is duty-bound to bring it to his or her attention. Unless the Senator in question is, say, Bernie Sanders, this particular collection of emails will have the effect of pissing them off. I mean really irritating the shit out of them.

Now doesn’t that mere thought alone warm your little black heart? Click here, and ruin a Goldman Sachs puppet’s day!

Second, I am a very big fan of taking actions that shift the Overton window. It is certainly in need of a hell of a lot of shifting, especially after conservatives have spent the last several decades on a singular mission to convince us all that people like Hillary Clinton and Barack Obama are godless communists. There is no question this effort has worked out splendidly for conservatives.

Yet in more recent years we have finally witnessed “fringe” ideas enter the mainstream from both the right and the left. For instance, Medicare for All is not yet seriously on the table, but it no longer gets you laughed out of the room, either. Lowering the Medicare eligibility age, as Biden pretends he wants to do, would certainly be a shift in the same direction. Even more promising, a public option/Medicare buy-in has picked up traction, too. If enacted, I predict this would drag the Overton window toward the single payer point much farther and faster than many now envision. That’s because a Medicare buy-in would never be restricted to individuals: here in ‘Murikka where Corporations ‘R People®, big business buy-in to more affordable employee health coverage could topple the private insurance industry with lightning speed.

Meanwhile, poor Mr. Overton must be nearly dead now from all that punching from the right. Not very long ago the violent overthrow of Congress at the direction of the US president by a bunch of badly dressed mooks sure seemed like a pretty fringe idea. Yet here we are.

The Roots Action email campaign is set up so you can modify the text before it gets routed to your Senators, and I took full advantage of this opportunity. Roots Action’s message is serious and well-documented, though still outside of more mainstream discourse. So is mine, but in the current political environment I’m quite sure I sound like a deranged lefty berserker. Good. Because you know what? It takes an awful lot of little pushes to budge that fucking window.

Why not help kick it a little.

_________

(My added text is right up front; the Roots Action text is below the cut.)

Subject: Questions for Antony Blinken

Dear [Senators Schumer and Gillibrand]:

War profiteering used to be universally reviled as the evil that it patently is. And yet now, it’s in the job description of the Executive Branch to shill for US “defense” companies like a bunch of used car salesmen. Incentivising the spread of war, violence and weapons around the globe for obscene private profits should not be the business of anyone, much less the United States government. Quite the opposite, in fact. Why, one might think the Executive Branch works on commission, rather than remuneration from US taxpayers. And yet here we are, with a man perfectly emblematic of this problem, nominated to head the State Department.

I have some questions for you to ask Mr. Blinken, but perhaps you could start with asking this one of yourself: Wouldn’t it be more accurate to rename the US Department of State the US Department of Sales? And while you’re at it, please think about how you might use your considerable power to dismantle the system that enables war profiteering and all of the evils that flow from it. Here’s a thought, and I’m just spitballing here: if US weapons manufacturers cannot enrich their shareholders without using the US government to ensure they are the preeminent arms dealers for the entire world, perhaps they should all be run as nonprofits?

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Trump only paid $750 in taxes in 2016 and 2017 – UPDATED.

Via New York Daily News:

Bombshell report shows Trump’s years of tax avoidance

President Trump paid just $750 in taxes in 2016 and the same sum in 2017, according to a bombshell New York Times report published Sunday.

He paid a big fat zero in income tax in 10 of the 15 previous years, the publication found.

Seems legit.

UPDATE.

From today’s New York Times email briefing:

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Labor Day in the USA.

My state’s governor Andrew Cuomo emails me every (non-holiday) weekday with a COVID-19 update. In Friday’s missive he mentioned that Labor Day, celebrated today in the United States, was first celebrated in New York City.

As is the governor’s practice, he included an “image of the day.” Here it is:

The bottom caption reads: NEW YORK CITY—GRAND DEMONSTRATION OF WORKINGMEN, SEPTEMBER 5th—THE PROCESSION PASSING THE VIEWING-STAND AT UNION SQUARE—From a Sketch by a Staff Artist—See Page 55 The side caption reads: September 16, 1882] FRANK LESLIE'S ILLUSTRATED NEWSPAPER.In case it’s hard to discern in this format, the bottom caption reads:

NEW YORK CITY—GRAND DEMONSTRATION OF WORKINGMEN, SEPTEMBER 5th—THE PROCESSION PASSING THE VIEWING-STAND AT UNION SQUARE—From a Sketch by a Staff Artist—See Page 55

The left side caption reads:

September 16, 1882]  FRANK LESLIE’S ILLUSTRATED NEWSPAPER.

Something that really resonates with me about this image is my own presence at Union Square countless times, including for  protests and political gatherings. (And the truly amazing greenmarket. And chemo and radiation and too many doctors appointments to keep track. And monitoring the Sciuridae menace.)

Long ago, there was a pavilion built specifically for protesting at Union Square; once upon a time, the city was actually required to construct spaces for public meetings and protest. (More Union Square history and some great historical pics at this link, including the immediate aftermath of an anarchist’s failed mass bombing of a socialists meeting in 1908, and a barbers strike in 1913.)

It’s both exhilarating and humbling to know I’ve walked the same paths – and for many of the same reasons – as so many before me.

Of course, it’s also very, very disheartening. Which brings me to the second thing that really strikes me about that image: the messaging on the signs.

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Chadwick Boseman, Rest In Power. Also, I need you to lie for me.

Good afternoon, beloved readers. First, I want to tell you some things. Then I am going to ask you to lie for me, and to get every adult under age 50 you care about to lie their asses off for you, too.

My heart is heavy today. I awoke to news of the death of actor Chadwick Boseman, at age 43, from colon cancer.

FORTY THREE.

Chadwick BosemanChadwick Aaron Boseman
November 29, 1976 – August 28, 2020
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Whether or not you’re a fan of Black Panther and the Marvel Universe movies, or of Boseman’s portrayals of iconic Black historical figures like Jackie Robinson, Thurgood Marshall and James Brown, this man – by all accounts a kind person and talented beyond measure – has left our world too soon. And he is gone because of a preventable disease.

And as you might imagine, beyond my sadness at this tragic loss lies a fair amount of…well, RAGE. If you or people you love happen to live in the U.S. today, you are living in a country where this is true:

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TAX THE EVIL.

Carl Icahn, billionaire investor, and his ilk have made hundreds of millions of dollars this year betting America’s malls would default on their loans.

WHO COULD HAVE PREDICTED THAT AMERICA’S MALLS WOULD BE AFFECTED BY A HIGHLY CONTAGIOUS AND DEADLY VIRUS.

Oh right: anyone. Even me! Believe it or not, I could have totally predicted that! I am a professional psychic, after all. Yet strangely, I myself have NOT made hundreds of millions of dollars recently. WTF?

And hold on…my spirit guides are now telling me…that…

…millions of retail workers across the country, who were not exactly raking in the big bucks before COVID-19 and are now unemployed, somehow did not make hundreds of millions of dollars either. Huh.

I guess we can only conclude that Carl Icahn has worked hundreds of millions of times harder than those retail workers have. Simple. That’s how capitalism works, right? American Dream! Bootstraps, and all of that!

A system that generates profits for a tiny minority of elites from the misery, misfortune, death and destruction of others is inherently evil.

Health insurance companies.

“Defense” contractors.

Slumlords.

Fossil fuel exploiters.

Hedge funders.

This is hardly a complete list. But every single one of these industries should be re-incorporated as non-profits, with excess revenues going to programs that ameliorate the damage and carnage they so casually wreak.