The American people must make a fundamental decision. Do we continue the 40-year decline of our middle class and the growing gap between the very rich and everyone else, or do we fight for a progressive economic agenda that creates jobs, raises wages, protects the environment and provides health care for all? Are we prepared to take on the enormous economic and political power of the billionaire class, or do we continue to slide into economic and political oligarchy? These are the most important questions of our time, and how we answer them will determine the future of our country.
The long-term deterioration of the middle class, accelerated by the Wall Street crash of 2008, has not been pretty. Today, we have more wealth and income inequality than any major country on earth. We have one of the highest childhood poverty rates and we are the only country in the industrialized world which does not guarantee health care for all. We once led the world in terms of the percentage of our people who graduated college, but we are now in 12th place. Our infrastructure, once the envy of the world, is collapsing.
Real unemployment today is not 5.8 percent, it is 11.5 percent if we include those who have given up looking for work or who are working part time when they want to work full time. Youth unemployment is 18.6 percent and African-American youth unemployment is 32.6 percent.
Today, millions of Americans are working longer hours for lower wages. In inflation-adjusted dollars, the median male worker earned $783 less last year than he made 41 years ago. The median woman worker made $1,337 less last year than she earned in 2007. Since 1999, the median middle-class family has seen its income go down by almost $5,000 after adjusting for inflation, now earning less than it did 25 years ago.
The American people must demand that Congress and the White House start protecting the interests of working families, not just wealthy campaign contributors. We need federal legislation to put the unemployed back to work, to raise wages and make certain that all Americans have the health care and education they need for healthy and productive lives.
As Vermont's senator, here are 12 initiatives that I will be fighting for which can restore America's middle class.
1. We need a major investment to rebuild our crumbling infrastructure: roads, bridges, water systems, waste water plants, airports, railroads and schools. It has been estimated that the cost of the Bush-Cheney Iraq War, a war we should never have waged, will total $3 trillion by the time the last veteran receives needed care. A $1 trillion investment in infrastructure could create 13 million decent paying jobs and make this country more efficient and productive. We need to invest in infrastructure, not more war.
More here: http://www.huffingtonpost.com/rep-bernie-sanders/an-economic-agenda-for-am_b_6249022.html
The last time Frank Rich had a conversation with Chris Rock was in early 1996, when they and the 1950s teen heartthrob Pat Boone were thrown together in a New York television studio as panelists on Bill Mahers old show Politically Incorrect. This time they had two conversations in a New York hotel lounge as Rock prepared for the release of Top Five, a bittersweet film comedy in which he does triple duty as director, screenwriter, and star.
Weve just come through an election that was a triumph for Fox News and a fiasco for Obama. What do you make of it?
Jon Stewart has said the reason Fox News works better than CNN is because the people at Fox News figured out how to make themselves into victims.
So will it now be harder for Republicans to play victims?
They have no problem playing victims.
Even in victory?
Even in victory. America not black America, but America as a whole started in England and was ruled by kings and queens and had a class system. Im almost of the mind that thats what America wants at the end of the day. Maybe America wants monopolies.
They always seem to want a Bush or a Clinton.
Maybe they just want a Bush. Maybe they want no regulations. Its hard for me to figure out people voting against their own self-interests. At some point you go, Okay: Is that what they want?
Is it possible that theyre just angry, whether its anger at Obama or Washington in general, and they just want to lash out? If youre angry, you dont rationally consider whats in your self-interest.
Maybe. But we had Bush for eight years. They saw what that was. Apparently a lot of people want to go back to that. A lot of people think rich people are smart.
For all the current conversation about income inequality, class is still sort of the elephant in the room.
Oh, people dont even know. If poor people knew how rich rich people are, there would be riots in the streets. If the average person could see the Virgin Airlines first-class lounge1, theyd go, What? What? This is food, and its free, and they what? Massage? Are you kidding me?
More here: http://www.vulture.com/2014/11/chris-rock-frank-rich-in-conversation.html
James Watson, the biologist who was awarded a Nobel Prize for his contribution to the discovery of DNAs structure, will become the first recipient to sell the medal in his or her lifetime, the Financial Times reports.
The Nobel laureate said that he had no choice but to sell the medal which auction house Christies believes could fetch as much as $3.5 million because of financial pressures stemming from comments he made about race and intelligence in 2007.
In a 2007 interview with the Sunday Times, Watson claimed that he was inherently gloomy about the prospect of Africa because all our social policies are based on the fact that their intelligence is the same as ours whereas all the testing says not really.
Moreover, while he admitted that everyone wants to believe that all races are born with equal intelligence, anyone who [has] to deal with black employees [finds] this not true.
He apologized for his remarks, saying that he was not racist in a conventional way, and that the journalist interviewing him somehow wrote that I worried about people in Africa because of their low IQ and youre not supposed to say that.
The scandal made him a pariah.
More here: http://www.rawstory.com/rs/2014/11/racist-co-discoverer-of-dna-forced-to-sell-nobel-prize-to-make-ends-meet/
Massachusetts Senator Elizabeth Warren possesses a rare and useful skill. She can elevate a dull-sounding policy battle into a manichean struggle, fit for consumption on The Daily Show or Last Week Tonightor, more importantly, Twitter. To wit: Warren's decision, backed up by a Huffington Post column, to oppose Antonio Weiss, the White House's nominee for Under Secretary for Domestic Finance at the Treasury Department.
"Weiss has spent most of his career working on international transactionsfrom 2001 to 2009 he lived and worked in Parisand now he's being asked to run domestic finance at Treasury," wrote Warren. "One of the biggest and most public corporate inversions last summer was the deal cut by Burger King to slash its tax bill by purchasing the Canadian company Tim Hortons and then 'inverting' the American company to Canadian ownership. And Weiss was right there, working on Burger King's tax deal."
Warren's op-ed, as my colleagues reported at the time, elevated what might have been an obscure case against a nominee. She did the same in 2013 when she endorsed an existing plan, favored by Ohio Senator Sherrod Brown, to expand Social Security by raising the payroll tax cap. The idea predated Warren, but she turned it into a litmus test for progressives; drive-by observers suddenly understood the plan as a cause for the left, and therefore something to oppose.
The same is happening to the Weiss nomination backlash. Five days after Warren's HuffPost piece went up, Andrew Ross Sorkin published a column tsk-tsking the senator over her "misplaced rage," as "her understanding of the so-called inversion deal on which she bases much of her opposition appears misinformed." He was beaten to the defense by the Wall Street Journal's editorial board, which attacked Warren and fellow Weiss skeptic Dick Durbin for opposing Weiss after voting for Treasury Secretary Jack Lew, a veteran of Citigroup. "The President should upgrade the Treasury by hiring a Secretary who succeeded on Wall Street," wrote the boardmeaning, it should kick out Lew and give his job to Weiss.
More here: http://www.bloomberg.com/politics/articles/2014-11-28/how-elizabeth-warren-works-the-refs-without-running-for-president
Massachusetts Sen. Elizabeth Warrens opposition to a White House Treasury pick has turned an otherwise obscure nomination into a headline-grabbing battle for the partys soul, as she pushes a populist message that could pull likely 2016 presidential nominee Hillary Clinton further to the left than she wants to be, observers say.
There are various ways to influence politics and policy, and one of them is to be like a magnet and pull people into your orbit. In a sense, I think thats what Warren is aiming to do, Democratic consultant Peter Fenn said, referring to the dust-up over the nomination of investment banker Antonio Weiss for under secretary of the Treasury for domestic finance.
Who really cares about a nominee for a second-level position in a Cabinet department? Not many people, Fenn said.
But she is doing what she believes in, and I will say, that after this election, when a lot of Democrats felt that there wasnt a strong narrative, there wasnt a strong message and there wasnt a strong theme for fighting for the middle class, they are very much looking toward candidates and officeholders who can make that case.
Warrens stance against Weiss first disclosed more than two weeks ago continues to grab attention, including this week when her camp hit back against a critical New York Times column. The week prior, she wrote a 1,300-word op-ed for the Huffington Post rapping the White House for the pick and calling on the Obama administration to loosen the hold that Wall Street banks have over economic policy making.
The objective, I think, is to move the party, Fenn said, and I think you can even see with some of the comments over the last few weeks of Hillary Clinton.
Clinton, who is slated to speak at the Massachusetts Conference for Women in Boston on Thursday, has had to pitch herself to the partys more progressive wing thats loudly called for Warrens own candidacy.
In a speech here last month, the former first lady claimed that corporations dont create jobs, a gaffe she later walked back and many attributed to her attempt to parrot Warrens progressive message on the senators home turf.
That same week, Clinton tried to stake out more progressive territory in an appearance with Minnesota Sen. Al Franken, saying, Theres a lot of unfinished business to make sure we dont end up once again with big banks taking big risks and leaving taxpayers holding the bag.
Political observers say Warrens growing power to push her agenda, especially now that shes in a Senate leadership post, could put her progressive stamp on Democrats message in the 2016 election.
Ever since she announced for the seat, shes been trying to pull the party left, said University of Massachusetts Boston professor Maurice Mo Cunningham.
She is one of those politicians uniquely positioned that when she speaks, particularly on issues that have to do with Wall Street, people have to pay attention. And she uses it skillfully.
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