Jim Hightower – Informed Comment https://www.juancole.com Thoughts on the Middle East, History and Religion Tue, 16 May 2023 03:22:05 +0000 en-US hourly 1 https://wordpress.org/?v=5.8.9 The Supreme Court is Corrupt and We don’t Have to Put up with It https://www.juancole.com/2023/05/supreme-court-corrupt.html Thu, 18 May 2023 04:02:41 +0000 https://www.juancole.com/?p=212040

The justices aren’t even hiding it anymore.

By Jim Hightower | —

( Afterwords.org ) – When public officials get themselves mired in the muck of corruption, they can always count on Senator Ted Cruz to issue a moral judgment: If the offender is a Democrat, he pronounces the corruption inexcusably grotesque; if it’s a Republican, he wails that the offender is the victim.

For example, Supreme Court Justice Clarence Thomas was recently caught (yet again) butt-deep in judicial immorality, taking hundreds of thousands of dollars’ worth of freebies from a Texas real estate baron who has both a partisan and corporate interest in Thomas’ court rulings.

So, Cruz to the rescue! No judicial impropriety here, he squawks, for this is nothing but a diabolical plot by Democrats to “smear” poor Clarence.

But Thomas is busy smearing himself. From the start of his court tenure, Thomas has been a shameless seeker of personal gain, tucking untold sums from untold sources in the inner pockets of his judicial robes.

Photo by Gayatri Malhotra on Unsplash

He learned to hide his corruption in 2004, when he actually reported taking pricey gifts from a special interest, which got him widely condemned. So, he “reformed.”

No, he didn’t quit taking gimmes — he just quit disclosing them!

Thomas is a supreme grifter, but sadly he’s not alone. Many recent justices have fallen from the pedestal of judicial integrity, cozying up to the moneyed interests. Gifts aside, we now have a hyper-partisan, right-wing Republican majority taking their judicial opinions from those same interests, turning America’s unelected third branch of government into an autocratic, plutocratic political agency.

Then they wonder why their public approval rating – and legitimacy – are in the ditch! Since they won’t reform themselves, we the people must do it for them. To help, go to fixthecourt.com.

Jim Hightower

OtherWords columnist Jim Hightower is a radio commentator, writer, and public speaker

DeSantis and the rest of the Far Right hate ‘Woke’ Society Because They Want One That’s Asleep https://www.juancole.com/2022/08/desantis-society-because.html Sun, 07 Aug 2022 04:23:52 +0000 https://www.juancole.com/?p=206218 ( Otherwords) – Although we haven’t even gotten through this year’s midterm congressional elections, it’s still not too early to start examining some of the characters who hope you’ll make them president in 2024.

Florida governor and rising GOP star Ron DeSantis has made a favorite hobby of censoring speech and thought.

I know, you don’t want to… but we must.

That’s because corporate elites have already chosen their favorites, and they intend to use massive sums of money, lies, more money, PR slickum, and even more money to slide their toady into the Oval Office — hoping you don’t discover until it’s too late that their chosen one really is a toad.

Take Ron DeSantis. The GOP’s far-right, power-hungry, narcissistic Florida governor promises to be the next Donald Trump — only more effective and not as nice.

His favorite gubernatorial hobby is the Orwellian practice of monitoring and censoring people’s speech and thoughts, culling out ideas he deems objectionable. “Don’t Say Gay” is his most infamous dictate to the state’s teachers, but he has also outlawed any teachings that might “denigrate the Founding Fathers.”

Nor will DeSantis tolerate the study of institutional racism in America. Indeed, he has even mandated that social studies textbooks (get this!) must not even include concepts of social justice.

DeSantis adamantly opposes what right-wingers call a “woke” society — he wants one that’s asleep.

Sound asleep. He recently rallied his right-wing cadre to ban some math textbooks. Yes, math! They screech that some real-life topics like wage disparities are being used to make math problems relevant to today’s students — so it was Fahrenheit 451 for those books.

Thus far, DeSantis’s censorship binge has nixed 42 math books for “incorporat[ing] prohibited topics.” Imagine what he could ban as president!

Did I mention that DeSantis is also forming his own gubernatorial paramilitary force — a state army that answers to him, which he can deploy in “emergencies”? What’s an emergency? He says he’ll decide.

We’ll need to decide, too.

Via Otherwords

The Ugly Truth: The Republican Party is trying to Outlaw Democracy https://www.juancole.com/2021/07/republican-trying-democracy.html Sat, 10 Jul 2021 04:02:06 +0000 https://www.juancole.com/?p=198810

The more Americans vote, the stronger our democracy. For Republican lawmakers, that’s a problem.

( Otherwords.org ) – Ralph Waldo Emerson told of a dinner guest who went on and on about the virtue of honesty, offering his own life as a model of perfect rectitude. “The louder he talked of his honor,” said Emerson, “the faster we counted our spoons.”

That’s my reaction to the cacophony of phony piety arising from Republican governors and legislators who are trying to enact more than 250 new state laws to stop Black, Latino, Asian-American, Indigenous, and other non-Caucasian voters from casting ballots.

They proclaim that they’re not racists, only crusaders protecting the “sanctity of the vote.”

Really? So why are they specifically targeting people of color with their repressive voting restrictions? For example, panicky Republican lawmakers in Georgia tried to outlaw early voting on Sundays.

Why? Because it’s a flagrantly racist attack on the Black church.

For years, a joyous civic tradition called “Souls to the Polls” has played out in Southern Black churches on Sundays prior to Election Day. After the sermon and prayers, congregants, ministers, musicians, and others in the church family travel in a caravan to early voting locations to cast ballots.

It turns voting into a civic, spiritual, and fun experience. What kind of shriveled soul tries to kill that?

Apparently, the same shameful souls in the Georgia GOP who voted to ban local groups from providing water and snacks to citizens forced to wait for hours in line to vote. They actually made it a crime to give water to thirsty voters! (Hey, Republicans: What would Jesus do?)

Excuse me, but voting in America should not be made a misery. The goal (and duty) of every public official ought to be maximizing voter turnout — after all, the more Americans vote, the stronger our democracy.

But here’s the ugly political truth: Republican officials no longer support democracy.

Illustration: Khalil Bendib for Otherwords.org.

Via Otherwords.org

Biden’s modest corporate tax increases to fund public infrastructure projects are wildly popular — except among CEOs https://www.juancole.com/2021/06/corporate-increases-infrastructure.html Tue, 01 Jun 2021 04:01:59 +0000 https://www.juancole.com/?p=198119 By Jim Hightower

( Otherwords.org) – “Outrageous,” screeched the U.S. Chamber of Commerce. “It doesn’t feel fair,” whimpered a top corporate executive.

The wailing by those who run corporate America is not for the plight of the workaday families who’ve seen their incomes stagnate and even plummet to zero during the pandemic. Rather, this chorus of woe comes from powerful plutocratic interests that have been enjoying windfall profits.

Why? Because, they cry, that meanie in the White House, Joe Biden, intends to modestly hike their corporate tax rate.

But wait… Didn’t Trump and the GOP Congress slash the corporate share of our nation’s upkeep nearly in half just four years ago, shifting the burden to the middle class and poor? Yes. And didn’t they promise that those cuts would create millions of new jobs? Yes again.

But instead, corporations got richer and working stiffs got shafted.

Still, here they come again, howling that raising corporate taxes would crash the stock market. Well, the day Biden announced his plan, stock prices did fall… by less than 1 percent. The next day, they bounced right back.

Moreover, those are crocodile tears the rich are shedding. They know that — as Biden himself makes clear — his proposed uptick in their tax share “is not going to affect their standard of living at all. Not a little tiny bit.”

They’ll still have their two or three big houses, private jets, and yachts. But, with them paying just a bit more toward the common good, our country will be able to reinvest in society’s physical and human infrastructure, making America stronger and fairer for all.

That’s why there are broad and deep public majorities — even among Republicans — for Biden’s infrastructure plan and the corporate taxes to pay for it. For more information go to AmericansForTaxFairness.org.

Via Otherwords.org


Bonus Video added by Informed Comment:

AP: “Biden pushes tax hikes to fund education proposals”

Don’t Let Wall Street Get Rich Speculating on our Water https://www.juancole.com/2021/05/street-speculating-water.html Sat, 01 May 2021 04:01:23 +0000 https://www.juancole.com/?p=197536 ( Otherwords.org ) – Shameless speculators are trying to privatize and commoditize the water all humans need to live. By | April 28, 2021

Oh great — here comes a new stealth attack on the fragile, life-sustaining natural resources of Planet Earth. This latest assault by Wall Street alchemists would redefine one of our most basic resources: water.

Everyone knows that water is “invaluable” — it’s literally life, requiring a constant intake by each of us, or we quickly die. But the Wizards of Wall Street want to reduce potable H2O from its environmental, humanitarian, and spiritual essence to just another perishable economic good that they can market-price and sell to the highest bidder — turning our water into speculators’ gold.

This contrivance has opened the door for financial manipulators who’ve quietly been devising razzle-dazzle schemes to allow rich global investors to play in water. They’re now pushing water futures, automated split-second trading, “water grabbing” ventures, hedging schemes, and other financialization hustles to maneuver the monetary value of this essential resource.

To see this ethically debased future, look to an outfit with the ominous acronym of WAM (Water Asset Management).

WAM is buying up water rights in low-income farming communities in places like Arizona, then literally moving the “commodity” to rich suburban developments that will pay more. WAM profiteers call water peddling “the biggest emerging market on Earth… a trillion-dollar market opportunity.”

They even boast that the crises of “drought, flood, and fire” caused by climate change creates a market volatility that will provide “an unprecedented period of transformation and investment opportunity for the water industry,” allowing investors to “thrive and prosper.”

We need to force a public discussion about this crucial question of environmental and existential ethics: Is access to an affordable supply of clean water to be a human right for all — or will we let it become a wet dream for rich speculators?

Via Otherwords.org


Bonus Video added by Informed Comment:

WION: “Gravitas: Wall street is trading water!”

How the Pandemic spelled the end of Trickle-Down Economics: We need Wealth to Percolate up https://www.juancole.com/2021/04/pandemic-economics-percolate.html Sun, 11 Apr 2021 04:01:37 +0000 https://www.juancole.com/?p=197171

The past year has laid waste to the arguments behind “trickle down” theory. Instead, let’s have wealth “percolate up.”

( Otherwords.org) – The past year proves that a lot of conventional economic wisdom is neither true nor wise. For example:

1) “We don’t have the money.”

The power elites tell us it would be nice to do the big-ticket reforms America needs, but the money just isn’t there. Then a pandemic slammed into America, and suddenly trillions of dollars gushed out of Washington for everything from subsidizing meatpackers to developing vaccines, revealing that the money is there.

2) “We can’t increase the federal debt!”

Yet Trump and the Republican Congress didn’t hesitate to shove the national debt through the roof in 2017 to let a few corporations and billionaires pocket a $2 trillion-dollar tax giveaway. If those drunken spenders can use federal borrowing to make the likes of Amazon and Mark Zuckerberg richer, we can borrow funds for such productive national needs as infrastructure investment and quality education for all.

3) “The rich are the ‘makers’ who contribute the most to society.”

This silly myth quickly melted right in front of us as soon as the coronavirus arrived, making plain that the most valuable people are nurses, grocery clerks, teachers, postal employees, and millions of other mostly low-wage people. So let’s capitalize on the moment to demand policies that reward these grassroots makers instead of Wall Street’s billionaire takers.

4) “Tax cuts drive economic growth for all.”

They always claim that freeing corporations from the “burden” of taxes will encourage CEOs to invest in worker productivity and — voila — wages will miraculously rise. This scam has never worked for anyone but the scammers, and it’s now obvious to the great majority of workers that the best way to increase wages… is to increase wages!

Enact a $15 minimum wage and restore collective bargaining. Workers will pocket more and spend more, and the economy will rise.

Percolate-up economics works. Trickle-down does not.

Via Otherwords.org

Bonus Video added by Informed Comment:

The Independent: “‘Trickle-down economics doesn’t work’, says Joe Biden”

Dismissing ‘Low Quality Voters,’ Republican officials no longer support democracy — and they aren’t bothering to hide it https://www.juancole.com/2021/04/dismissing-republican-officials.html Mon, 05 Apr 2021 04:01:49 +0000 https://www.juancole.com/?p=197060 ( Otherwords.org) – Hey, you, get away from those polling places! We don’t want your kind here! Scram!

That’s a stupid, shameful, and ultimately self-defeating political message, yet it’s being pushed as the official anti-voter electoral strategy of Republicans. Admitting that they can’t get majorities to vote for their collection of corporate lackeys, conspiracy theorists, and bigoted old white guys, the GOP hierarchy’s great hope is to shove as many Democratic voters as possible out of our elections.

They’re banking on a blitz of bureaucratic bills they’re now trying to ram through nearly every state legislature to intimidate, divert, and otherwise deny eligible voters their most fundamental democratic right. Their main targets are people of color, but they’re also pushing to keep students, senior citizens, union households, and poor communities of any color from voting.

Unable to come up with any actual need for these autocratic restraints, the GOP vote thieves are fraudulently exclaiming in mock horror that millions of illegal immigrants, dead people, Chinese, and even pets are voting! “Lock down the polls!” they cry.

Again and again, these absurd claims have been thoroughly investigated — even by Republican judges, committees, and media — and repeatedly they’ve proven to be, well, absurd.

Let’s be blunt: You’re more likely to find Bigfoot than you are to find a case of mass vote fraud in America.

Even some GOP politicos have quit pretending that they’re searching for The Big Cheat, instead bluntly making an overt, right-wing ideological argument for subverting democracy: “Everybody shouldn’t be voting,” explained Rep. John Kavanaugh, the Republican chair of Arizona’s election committee.

Slipping deeper into doctrinaire doo-doo, he asserts that it’s not just the number of votes that should matter in an election — “we have to look at the quality of votes,” too.

Call me cynical, but I’m guessing that most Democratic voters would fall into his “low-quality” category. The ugly truth is that Republican officials no longer support democracy.

Via Otherwords.org


Bonus video added by Informed Comment:

CBS News: “Texas state Senate passes controversial voting bill in latest GOP initiative to curb franchise”

A Mob Is Coming for Your Voting Rights https://www.juancole.com/2021/03/coming-voting-rights.html Mon, 22 Mar 2021 04:01:21 +0000 https://www.juancole.com/?p=196782

It’s not a crowd of rioters, like on January 6 — it’s a group of legalistic autocrats like Ted Cruz and Mitch McConnell.

( Otherwords.org ) – In February, Texas Senator Ted Cruz ran off to a luxury resort in sunny Cancún, Mexico during the deep freeze that devastated millions of his constituents.

But I wasn’t mad that Ted fled. What upset me was that the government let him back into our country.

Cruz is, after all, the self-aggrandizing ego that arrogantly and illegally tried to cancel the ballots of millions of voters in last year’s presidential election. Then he helped dupe a crowd of Trumpeteers into storming our nation’s Capitol in a violent and silly attempt to seize control of our government by force.

Now the wannabe autocrat is demanding that the Supreme Court suppress the people’s democratic will.

He’s teamed up with the sour old corporate plutocrat, Mitch McConnell, to back a ploy by Arizona Republicans to disenfranchise Latino, Indigenous, and Black voters.

Cruz and McConnell are demanding that the Court’s partisan Republican justices gut America’s landmark Voting Rights Act, which prohibits states from altering election rules to give minority voters less opportunity to participate in the political process than Anglos.

Arizona’s Republican lawmakers had passed a nasty provision declaring that any ballot cast in the wrong precinct, no matter how valid, must be tossed in the trash, rather than merely allocating it to the voter’s correct precinct. This almost entirely affects people of color, with whom GOP election officials play nefarious games — frequently moving their voting places, often at the last minute with little notice.

Instead of pushing their party to try winning these peoples’ votes, Ted and Mitch simply want to eliminate them. They’ve asked the Court to nullify the bothersome Voting Rights Act so their party can freely lock out minority voters.

The greatest threat to our democracy is not a violent mob, but a legalistic coup by thugs like Ted Cruz.

Via Otherwords.org

Featured Photo:

NC Rally to Protect Our Votes with Team Democracy (2020 Nov)
Date 7 November 2020, 15:07
Source NC Rally to Protect Our Votes with Team Democracy (2020 Nov)
Author Anthony Crider, Flickr

This file is licensed under the Creative Commons Attribution 2.0 Generic license.

The Other Capitol Mob: How the Billionaires funded the Insurrection https://www.juancole.com/2021/01/capitol-billionaires-insurrection.html Sun, 24 Jan 2021 05:02:29 +0000 https://www.juancole.com/?p=195731 Much to the embarrassment of major corporations, their political donations were traced to the mayhem of January 6.

( Otherwords.org ) – You can’t poke into any issue in Congress without stumbling over sacks full of corporate campaign donations. The recent eruption of pro-Trump mob violence inside the U.S. Capitol exposed boodles of that special interest cash to public view.

Much to the embarrassment of major Wall Street banks, Silicon Valley tech giants, and CEOs of brand-name corporations, hundreds of thousands of their political dollars were traced to the mayhem in our Capitol.

Specifically, their money was going into the coffers of 147 Republican lawmakers who backed the fraudulent Trumpster attempt to overthrow last fall’s presidential election.

Acknowledging the damage these revelations did to their public image, the corporate interests responded forcefully. How? They issued press releases condemning violence. Wow… that’ll make things better!

Okay, in fairness, quite a few firms added a bit of bite to their bark by suggesting that maybe they wouldn’t be so cavalier about tossing out political contributions in the future.

Citigroup, JPMorgan, and Goldman Sachs announced they would “pause” donations to all candidates. Blue Cross Blue Shield, Marriott, and Dow said they were “suspending” donations to the 147 congress critters who voted to reject the people’s choice. Delta, Fed Ex, and Walmart declared they were “monitoring” the situation.

Notice the profusion of wiggle words in these professions of corporate principle.

The executives are really not biting the system, but merely gumming it for a while. Then, once public attention has drifted, the corporate-congressional complex will be back to business as usual.

After all, while they deplore Trump’s racism, sexism, xenophobia, and overall immorality, they gleefully took it all to the bank, rationalizing, legitimizing — and profiting from — his corrupt presidency.

It’s not armed rioters from outside the system who are the main threat to our democracy, but the insiders who keep manipulating the system to take more money and power at our expense.

Via Otherwords.org


Bonus Video added by Informed Comment:

Thomas Hartmann: “Did Big Oil Fund Trump’s Insurrection? (w/ John Noël)”