Weekend Read – Millennials are Screwed

I had missed this in December, but I’m glad I caught up to this longer piece in HuffPost Highline that has honest to God historical analysis that explains, as well as personal stories that illustrate, the enfuckening Millennials find themselves in since the 2008 meltdown (on top of an economy that’s systematically screwed and sloughed off workers for 30 years). The generation born between 1982 and 2004 is the least hopeful generation in… generations.

Millennials are Screwed – Why millennials are facing the scariest financial future of any generation since the Great Depression. by Michael Hobbes

“It’s tempting to look at the recession as the cause of all this, the Great Fuckening from which we are still waiting to recover. But what we are living through now, and what the recession merely accelerated, is a historic convergence of economic maladies, many of them decades in the making. Decision by decision, the economy has turned into a young people-screwing machine. And unless something changes, our calamity is going to become America’s.”

The 2008 meltdown caused a statistical “divot” in our workforce specific to this generation.

 “A lot of workers were just 18 at the wrong time,” says William Spriggs, an economics professor at Howard University and an assistant secretary for policy at the Department of Labor in the Obama administration. “Employers didn’t say, ‘Oops, we missed a generation. In 2008 we weren’t hiring graduates, let’s hire all the people we passed over.’ No, they hired the class of 2012.”

You can even see this in the statistics, a divot from 2008 to 2012 where millions of jobs and billions in earnings should be. In 2007, more than 50 percent of college graduates had a job offer lined up. For the class of 2009, fewer than 20 percent of them did.

So millions didn’t get the jobs they were promised because they hit 18 at the wrong time and that will undoubtedly lower their paychecks over their entire lifetimes. For many others the job meltdown happened at the same time as the costs of a higher education continued a stratospheric rise, causing a student loan explosion.  So millions more Millennials didn’t go to college when a college degree has never been more essential to employment prospects.

Since 2010, the economy has added 11.6 million jobs—and 11.5 million of them have gone to workers with at least some college education. In 2016, young workers with a high school diploma had roughly triple the unemployment rate and three and a half times the poverty rate of college grads.

But all that is specific to this generation, the worker’s economy (the real economy for the average person excluding the Wall Street casino) has been raising the bars and costs of  employment for 40 years.

Thirty years ago, she says, you could walk into any hotel in America and everyone in the building, from the cleaners to the security guards to the bartenders, was a direct hire, each worker on the same pay scale and enjoying the same benefits as everyone else. Today, they’re almost all indirect hires, employees of random, anonymous contracting companies: Laundry Inc., Rent-A-Guard Inc., Watery Margarita Inc. In 2015, the Government Accountability Office estimated that 40 percent of American workers were employed under some sort of “contingent” arrangement like this—from barbers to midwives to nuclear waste inspectors to symphony cellists. Since the downturn, the industry that has added the most jobs is not tech or retail or nursing. It is “temporary help services”—all the small, no-brand contractors who recruit workers and rent them out to bigger companies.

We have a growing contingent of 1099 workers without benefits or a 401k.  They don’t get bonuses or annual raises.  Add this to the extreme insecurity that workers have in the 21st century because corporate stock prices guide personnel decisions, the destruction of unions (1 in 3 were in a union 50 years ago, now 1 in 10) and the natural explosion of state licensing requirements that add more costs and mystification to jobs that people used to do without special training and vetting (5% of jobs required state licensing in 1950, now its 33%) and it’s never been harder to achieve the American dream, no matter how hard you work.

All of these trends—the cost of education, the rise of contracting, the barriers to skilled occupations—add up to an economy that has deliberately shifted the risk of economic recession and industry disruption away from companies and onto individuals. For our parents, a job was a guarantee of a secure adulthood. For us, it is a gamble. And if we suffer a setback along the way, there’s so little to keep us from sliding into disaster.

It’s a clever piece with smart graphics emphasizing some very disturbing, but essential data points about our economy (including housing policy) that do not get talked about in the media.  Please read and enjoy (to the extent you can enjoy the systematic destruction of our children’s futures).  But no, at the end Hobbes lays out some of the policy changes we can make as a society that can fix this.  There is hope! We CAN fix this!  It’ll take an investment in the political process by the people that are affected by all of this to bring to power public servants that would enact the 21st century ideas we all need for a fairer, more equitable, sustainable economy.


The Shit Storm Over “Shitholes” – Why We Can’t Have a President Trump (Oh, Too Late, Edition)

So many thoughts.  But they’re not new thoughts, they’re things most of us have known all along.  He’s a racist.  We have a racist president who has no respect for many people and peoples of the world (among his many disqualifying faults).  And we can’t have that in the presidency.  It shits, no pun intended, on the idea and ideals of America, it’s that simple.  And people like that can’t be president, can’t be in power.  Must be marginalized and ridiculed.

For decades the political parties, the dreaded establishment, as it were, had a compact that our government, the responsible people charged with daily operating duties for the good ship of state would not give quarter to two types of abhorrent behavior that course through the undercurrents of American society:  racism and authoritarianism.

Now Republicans have had slips here and there over the last couple decades,* no argument there, but as a party they held to the pact until Trump.  That’s why this is not normal and why we are in danger of losing our most cherished norms.  The Republican Party “went with it” when a non-establishment-type like Trump courted that deplorable faction of Americans that are either racist or authoritarian (and yeah, there’s a good amount of overlap there.)

So there’s been this dance since Trump announced his heinous candidacy that he wasn’t really a racist and authoritarian, he actually does comport with norms, just in an unconventional style.  But after awhile that argument was hard to continue.  So it devolved right to “he’s speaking to a forgotten part of America.”  Yes, he is.  And it was forgotten by pact, between both parties, because they are in fact citizens with an anti-democratic, racist, authoritarian bent.

Because this is America, we can’t throw them in re-education camps.  We have to respect their right to believe what they believe.  But all right thinking people who understand and respect and cherish the Constitution of our democratic republic looked to squelch those people’s opinions and keep them to a small marginalized faction – the crazy uncle faction.

The White House’s first instinct was to say that his comments were not problem because his base would likely be fine with it.  They’re right, and what does that say about what they think of their base?  It means that they acknowledge the shredding of the pact and that they are indeed playing to the ignorant and deplorable part of the country.  Talk about the bigotry of low expectations.  There’s a segment of the country that will undoubtedly defend calling other countries “shitholes”, that’s to be expected.  “He’s just telling it like it is,” they’ll say.  And again, that’s fine for your crazy uncle.  It’s not okay for the president.  This alone should be grounds for impeachment because his unfitness for office is so obvious and profound to be a disadvantage for American in the world.

But here’s where it could get even worse for Trump.  All day yesterday the WH staff went on and did not deny that he said the comment.  If today he now claims he did not say it, then it’s not a he said she said, as they’ll undoubtedly try to color it.  It’s the word of a man who has lied over 2,000 times since his inauguration, who has long ago ceased to get the benefit of the doubt from people who still revere truth, versus the people in that room who do indeed still enjoy that benefit of the doubt.

Then the extent argument goes from the president is a racist to he’s a racist and a liar.

That’s another thing that the president cannot be.  And the more the media and people talk about that the closer we get to a moment where the pact is recognize and the tattered remnants of that pact get re-sewn.  They must be.

*No, the southern strategy, gerrymandering by race, voter suppression, the drug war and everything we know about institutional racism is not a “slip”.  Those evil, racist strategies have always done been under the radar with the goal to advantage Republicans by disadvantaging people of color and Democrats – sometimes with the help of idiot Democrats.  I’m talking about the overt racism that until now even Republicans eschewed in public.

A Timeline of 1968

Such a consequential year. There are the touchstones we all remember – assassinations of MLK and Kennedy, the Democratic Convention, urban and college campus unrest.

It’s also the year the 747, 60 Minutes and Intel debuted. Arthur Ashe was first black U.S. Open winner and Shirley Chisholm first black female elected to Congress in 1968.

Nixon appeared on Laugh-In.

Every year has significant occurrences, but 1968 was arguably a watershed year in a watershed period. I assert that no ten years in all of human history changed society as much as the period from 1960 to 1970. Watch any movie from 1960 and juxtapose it with any movie from 1970. No other decade changed the way everything looked, felt and sounded like in the way the 60s did.

And that’s without any truly significant consumer technology changes, like telephones, cars, computers, cell phones – inventions that in and of themselves impacted life. NASA put a man on the moon in that decade, sure, but the complete and total roiling of society was not based on any tech breakthrough not available in 1960.

NYC Divesting From Big Oil and Suing Over Climate Change

Part of the process in transitioning to renewable energy and moving forward has been divestment by large pension funds in oil, coal and nuclear energy companies (much as they earlier divested in cigarettes, or South Africa).  It’s not the biggest part, of course, that’s actually USING renewables instead of the more polluting or dangerous carbon based or nuclear fuels.  Or at least transitioning from dirtier to cleaner wherever feasible.

This specific law suit it aimed at recovering the costs of climate change, based on the knowledge that these oil companies have known about the dangers of climate change caused by their products for decades, and not only took no action, they squelched the research.  They acted like the tobacco companies, funding the public relations creation of doubt in the actual science.  For that alone they should pay.

“In this litigation, the City seeks to shift the costs of protecting the City from climate change impacts back onto the companies that have done nearly all they could to create this existential threat,” reads the lawsuit, brought by New York corporation counsel Zachary Carter and filed in U.S. District Court for the Southern District of New York.

New York joins a few California municipalities in attempting these law suits.

“We’re using this moment to send a message to the world,” said New York City Comptroller Scott Stringer. “We believe a green economy is a thriving economy.”

Bill McKibben, an author and co-founder of the climate advocacy group 350.org, praised the city’s actions Wednesday.

“I’ve been watching the climate fight for the last 30 years,” McKibben told reporters. “This is one of the handful of most important moments in that 30-year fight.”

These lawsuits may not amount to anything, but they’re long awaited gestures in the right direction.  In countries that aren’t as in the thrall of those large companies, the threats to our future and the obvious economic benefits of renewables were embraced earlier and have moved forward encouragingly.  The movement towards renewable energy technologies in the U.S. has been remarkable, but would have been more comprehensive with the dedication of federal and state governments to a clean future, like those other countries did.

The costs of a fascist, corporatist country are dear.

It would also help if the media didn’t mimic the values of the government.

Republicans in 2018 – Making it Almost Too Easy

Sheriff Arpaio announced he’s running for the Senate.  He’s 85.  The Senate is just beginning to slough off dead skin cells like Arpaio in the form of Orrin Hatch (and finger’s crossed Grassley! and yes, DiFi too!), but this scam artist says he’s got to run to support Trump!

This was Jeff Flake’s ineffectual never-Trump conservative seat and Democrat Kyrsten Sinema will win it in 2018.  Among the Republican challengers are a younger nutjob named Kelli Ward and maybe Sheriff Joe – unless this is just a fund raising scam and he’ll drop out at some point – but if not and he and Ward face off, sucking up all the crazy oxygen in the state then this will be fun, like Roy Moore fun.

“Being a U.S. senator is a little different than being the sheriff, because you can do a lot of things in the U.S. Senate, and I have many plans, believe me,” Mr. Arpaio told The Washington Examiner in announcing his bid. “I have a lot to offer. I’m a big supporter of President Trump.”

Kelli Ward must be fuming at the old fool for potentially getting in her way.  But as we know, there’s no honor among Bannonite whack jobs.  This is sort of unprecedented because it’s not like Ward is rational, she’s no establishment Republican.  She’s already known as “Chemtrail” Kelli, for spouting nutty conspiracy ideas in her state senate races and in her primary race against John McCain.  Newsweek called her Roy Moore 2.0.  of course splitting the nativist, Trumpist vote will likely be a good path forward for the Flake-like Martha McSally, who will announce her candidacy later this week. McSally, whose name makes her sound like the perfect lesbian (but probably isn’t, bein Relublican and all, cough, cough), will quickly become Mitch McConnell’s girl and attract fire from both “Chemtrail” Kelli and Sheriff Joe.  It’ll be quite a race to see whether the Trump crazy GOP can once again gnaw its own foot off… and shoot it too.

But some supporters of Mr. Arpaio expressed optimism about his chances.

“Sheriff Joe is a good, solid, I would say conservative person,” said Vera Anderson, 76, a Republican organizer and activist in Phoenix who is also a vocal supporter of Mr. Trump. “He would be a good choice in my opinion.”

Go for it Vera!!  50+% Latino turnout and a flipped senate seat is all you have to lose.


Trump Named No. 1 Most Oppressive of Press Freedom

It’s quite a competition between Trump, Putin, Urdogan – all good friends by the way – and up and comers like Duterte.  Trump also got rookie of the year and Duterte was so mad he blocked the press from reporting it.

But Trump earned it by being so unprecedented as an American leader acting like a banana republic strongman.

Trump’s disrespect for the First Amendment is his most obvious offense, CPJ noted, and is so flagrant that leaders in other countries have adopted his “fake news” term for unflattering coverage.

Yep, Trump aided and abetted the most vile and corrupt leaders everywhere by pushing his “fake news” meme for any reporting that he didn’t like.  In a great example of American exceptionalism, when Trump took on the mantle of anti-democratic shit heel he went right to the top of the Committee to Protect Journalists list.

Though CPJ determined that countries like Russia and China hold the tightest grip on their national media, it declared Trump the winner for “overall achievement.”

Trump was named runner-up in CPJ’s “Most Thin-Skinned” category, losing to Erdoğan.

But really, it was just his first year.  His potential is off the charts.

Will President Oprah Give Us All a Car?

I understand the misunderstanding that Oprah would be the anti-Trump – a black woman, a real billionaire, a famous celebrity (rather than infamous), who actually did come from nothing, who really does listen to people and would hopefully really hire the best people, etc, etc.  She even sort of wins the doctor comparison:  Oprah gave us Dr Phil, Trump gave us hippy dippy Dr. Bornstein and his ridiculous letters.  Well, actually, maybe that’s a wash.

But that’s not really an anti-Trump, that’s just a Democratic Party version of Trump.  Which, again, I understand the impulse, I just don’t think that’s where we’re going to be in 2020 or what we need.  American politics tends towards pendulum swings, not mirror images.  So I am very wary that the party will get whipsawed into making a not-completely-thought-out choice in 2020 like they were in 2016 because of excitement by a certain faction of the party.  I do hope that if Oprah does actually run, good, experienced public servants won’t be cowed into backing away.  I don’t think that would happen this time – largely because Hillary was so unquestionably qualified and well, Oprah isn’t, except by the Trump standard.

So who is actually the anti-Trump?  Anybody with actual experience and dedication to  public service, a thoughtful honest person with simple dignity and progressive policy ideas and the ability to enunciate them.  Someone sincere and professorial who owns a dog – the things Trump reviles the most.

I’m not advocating for anybody specific here but I heard a snippet of Bill Krystal on the radio this morning talking about how Oprah would be a good choice (thanks Bill, we’ll handle this), I am paraphrasing here “because she came from nothing, she relates to the heartland.”  Well, Krystal just also described Elizabeth Warren, but apparently nobody recognizes that.  Warren was born and raised in Oklahoma to a struggling working class family – that’s why she’s made the rebuilding of the middle class her life’s work.  Warren didn’t go to fancy schools, she went to state schools and earned her way to teach at Harvard.  I do understand how a Republican pundit (who has been wrong about absolutely everything for the last 30 years except Trump) either doesn’t know Warren’s backstory or discounts it – Warren is the Republican’s nightmare of a brilliant fighter for middle class values.  Is Oprah?  I don’t know.

Nobody really does.  People think they know what Oprah thinks about things.  They assume what her political framework would be – but nobody really knows and probably neither does Oprah because she’s never had to actually put out a policy paper.  She’s never had to debate issues in public or private in the deep way a public servant has to, accounting for every faction, every contingency, every nuance of an issue.  She could be brought up to speed by a team of wonks on foreign policy and health policy and taxation and so forth, if she actually wants to sit with briefing binders and the nerds that prepared them in the way that Trump didn’t and wouldn’t do!

But I still think it’s more likely that we’ll choose someone who has already been in that room, done the hard work of governing, been through the crucible of running for office and has seen the legislative sausage get made.  And we should choose that person.  That’s the anti-Trump.


Sen. Grassley Apparently Just as in Need of Depends as Hatch

As always, it’s a struggle to know with Republicans whether their idiotic blatherings and actions are because of their ignoramus party dogma or dementia.  Hatch, at 84, with 42 years in the Senate, had been drooling insane economic opinions and swooning over Donald Trump until his home state newspaper finally opined that he had to retire and join afternoon Jell-o brigade.  Grassley, also 84, has been right behind his Utah bingo partner in defending the indefensible and selling out whatever credibility they may have had in the apparently apocryphal golden age of the Senate, sometime in the magic long ago that Beltway Wonks here tell about.

Grassley and Lindsay Graham (who is not so old that his lack of scruples are excused by likely being institutionalization worthy, and yet proves himself just as unworthy of the institution known as the Senate) are supposed to be investigating Russian interference in our election as part of the Judiciary Committee.  But as all good Republican lackeys, they’ve decided that actually doing their jobs would be bad for the party – which is actually a rational decision, it’s just not an honorable one.  So the first criminal referral coming out of their partisan asscheeks is a recommendation that the FBI charge former MI6 agent and author of the Steele Dossier, Christopher Steele with some crime, anything will do.

When the Nixon administration went after Daniel Ellsberg for the leak of the Pentagon Papers, you could understand it.  It was wrong and a miscarriage of democracy and justice, but you could understand it.  Ellsberg had revealed state secrets in order to show the American people the vast level of deceit that had been sold as governance during the long national nightmare of Vietnam.  It made a lot of very important people look ridiculous who couldn’t afford to be made to look ridiculous.  Now they shouldn’t have been lying and committing war crimes in the first place, but that’s besides the point.

In this modern case of the police arresting the whistleblower instead of investigating the criminals, you have to completely ignore a years worth of not only great reporting but actual self-incrimination by the Trump gang to do this.  You have to ignore the danger that Trump is in the White House.  You have to ignore over 200 years of precedent of honor, statesmanship and good governance in our history.  And so long as we’re ignoring things ignore a couple thousand years of western civilization, eastern civilization, the entire concept of truth, and everything that ever made sense, ever!

Mr. Grassley’s decision to recommend criminal charges appeared likely to be based on reports of Mr. Steele’s meetings with the F.B.I., which were provided to the committee by the Justice Department in recent weeks.

It was not clear why, if a crime is apparent in the F.B.I. reports that were reviewed by the Judiciary Committee, the Justice Department had not moved to charge Mr. Steele already. The circumstances under which Mr. Steele is alleged to have lied were unclear, as much of the referral was classified.

But as we know the FBI were in the tank for Hillary, have all gone gay and Jewish and vegan and as attractive as Graham may find that, he has to do his duty and point out to them their job.  Guys like Grassley and Graham were once thought to be above and beyond the GOP clown car that might bay at the moon on Hannity.  But it’s been awhile now since anybody in that sense foresaken party could be exalted as “one of the good ones.”





Too Fast, Too Furious – Michael Wolff Hits Again in the New Yorker

Donald Trump Didn’t Want to be President is an excerpt from Michael Wolff’s new book about Trump’s campaign and first year.  The earlier Bannon quotes are from this book too.  It’s not just a proverbial bombshell, it promises to be an entire arsenal of cluster bombs befitting a man and a presidency that is a cluster fuck.

Shortly after 8 p.m. on Election Night, when the unexpected trend — Trump might actually win — seemed confirmed, Don Jr. told a friend that his father, or DJT, as he calls him, looked as if he had seen a ghost. Melania was in tears—and not of joy.

We all know that if the election had played out correctly, Melania would have filed for divorce shortly after.  As fucked as we all were by the perfect storm that elected Trump, Melania was the biggest victim of the Electoral College and Putin’s click farms.

Few people who knew Trump had illusions about him. That was his appeal: He was what he was. Twinkle in his eye, larceny in his soul. Everybody in his rich-guy social circle knew about his wide-ranging ignorance. Early in the campaign, Sam Nunberg was sent to explain the Constitution to the candidate. “I got as far as the Fourth Amendment,” Nunberg recalled, “before his finger is pulling down on his lip and his eyes are rolling back in his head.”

Come to think of it Melania, I’m crying too.

The last 24 hours have been one of those periods where you just can’t keep up.  Orrin Hatch retiring and maybe Romney running.  The whose button is bigger Twitter battle.  The Fusion GPS op ed in the Times, Michele Bachman asking God if she should run for Franken’s seat (yes, Michele, you should).

We need the 25th amendment to be invoked or we’ll all go mad, mad I say.